aquarium with algae and plants

Keeping your aquarium clean and beautiful is a challenge, especially when dealing with algae. It can turn your clear tank into a green mess! But don't worry, we've got you covered. In this guide, we'll show you easy ways to get rid of the five most common types of algae in your aquarium.


Is Algae Bad for My Aquarium? 


Although aquarium algae may appear unsightly, it benefits fish and other tank inhabitants. Algae consumes nutrients present in the water, which is advantageous for the overall health of your aquatic community. While it's often frowned upon in the aquarium hobby due to its appearance, algae plays a crucial role in supporting the ecosystem of your tank. Algae consumes nitrates at a rapid pace, which is great for your fish and inhabitants. 


Why is Algae Growing in My Fish Tank?


Algae thrives in high-light situations. If your tank gets too much light, that could be one reason. Also, if you feed your fish too much or don't clean the tank often, extra nutrients can build up, and algae thrive on that stuff. Sometimes, it's just part of the natural balance in your tank. But don't worry, we'll help you figure out what's going on and how to keep it in check.


Top 5 Algae Types & Removal Method

In this guide, we'll explore the top five types of algae and easy methods to remove them. From green water to fuzzy patches, learn how to keep your tank clean and your fish happy.

diatom algae in aquarium

Brown Diatom Algae

Brown Diatom Algae is the most common aquarium algae. Often caused by excessive light or nutrients, typically shows up as a brown film and is simple to remove.  If you continue to see it forming even after lowering the intensity or duration of your aquarium light, ensure that you’re aquarium is not set in an area receiving direct sunlight through windows. 


To remove diatom algae, a brush or pad can be used for scrubbing. You can scrub the algae off inside the tank or before a water change. Alternatively, draining water below rock level and applying a few drops of hydrogen peroxide, followed by a 15-minute wait before refilling, can eradicate algae within days. For plants, gently rub off algae between thumb and forefinger before a water change. Removing Diatom algae from glass is simple with a soft sponge, best done prior to water changes.


Hair Algae

hair algae

This type of algae appears as long strands resembling hair, in a green coloration. It's usually caused by too much lighting, poor water circulation, and neglecting tank maintenance. Excess nutrients, like high nitrates and phosphates, can also fuel its growth. You can manually remove it by gently pulling with your hands, but it might leave shorter strands on the leaves. You can always use tweezers in a twisting motion to remove it. Regular water changes (30% weekly) can help prevent its spread, and sometimes, trimming affected plants can be easier. Consider introducing Amano shrimp as a natural solution to keep this algae in check in your aquarium.

Black Beard Algae

black beard algae on plant

Black Beard Algae (BBA) can be a major headache for even experienced aquarium enthusiasts. Like other types of algae, it competes for resources needed for plant growth. High phosphate levels and low CO2 are common triggers for its growth, along with inconsistent maintenance and excessive lighting. Removal methods include manual removal by hand or using tools like a toothbrush or algae scraper for stubborn patches.

Green Spot Algae (GSA)

Green spot algae on aquarium glass

Green Spot Algae can pose a significant challenge due to its tough, crusty texture, making it resistant to removal with a soft sponge. While manually cleaning it from the aquarium is an option, it may not come off easily. To combat this algae, standard protocols apply: reduce light exposure, maintain regular tank upkeep, and control nutrient levels. You may find using aquarium scrapers to be effective for removing it from aquarium glass. 

Green Water

aquarium with green water

Green water happens when your water looks green. This is when the nutrients in the water combine with excess lighting to create algae in the water column. It’s very common for aquariums to get green water when receiving extra light from a nearby window. To fix green water, start by doing a large water change. Consider raising your light above your aquarium 8-10 inches above the tank. If a window is near your tank, consider moving the tank or covering the window to reduce light. Another option is to get a UV sterilizer, which can kill the algae in a few days.

Conclusion on Aquarium Algae

Aquarium algae may appear daunting, but it's crucial to understand that your fish and other inhabitants are not harmed by it. In fact, algae often play a beneficial role in the aquarium ecosystem. The primary reason we remove it from fish tanks is for aesthetic reasons—it simply doesn't look appealing. The most effective methods for reducing aquarium algae include minimizing light intensity or duration of lighting, regular maintenance, and performing routine water changes.