Aquarium Algae

BBA algae on Anubias leaf. ©

Regarded as the biggest enemy in aquascaping, a bit of aquarium algae growth is actually not bad for your planted tank, and is considered normal and healthy. Once you master aquarium algae though, you can consider yourself a Jedi Aquascaper!

Algae are diverse aquatic organisms capable of conducting photosynthesis. Some are single-celled (green-algae, diatoms, cyanobacteria) while others such as the giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera), have a multicellular construction.

Aquarium algae causes

The most common causes for algae growth in a freshwater aquarium include:

Keeping your aquarium in direct sunlight

When looking for a new place to keep your planted tank, avoid areas close to windows. Choose a shaded place where sunlight can’t reach your tank.

Overfeeding your fish

Feed your fish no more than 2-3 times a day, and make sure the food is consumed within a short period of time (3 - 5 min.). Syphon uneaten food immediately to avoid ammonia and nitrite overload in your tank’s water.

Overstocking your tank

Keep an appropriate number of fish suitable to your tank’s volume. One inch (2.54 cm) of fish per gallon (3.8 liters) of water is a general rule of thumb.

Not doing regular water changes

In order to reduce the level of Nitrates in your aquarium, which promotes algae overgrowth, make a habit of doing weekly water changes. Change 20 to 50 percent of your tank’s water, depending on your stock level.

Lights left on for too long

Keep your aquarium lights on for a period of time between 8 and 10 hours a day. Use a timer to easily control the time when lights go on and off.

Poor water circulation

Choose a filter that can provide suitable water circulation in your tank. The efficient movement of fertilisers and carbon dioxide within your tank’s water help in reducing algae growth.

Most common algae you’ll encounter in your planted tank

From thread-like to whole green carpet of algae, find out how they appear and how to get rid of them.

Black-Beard Aquarium Algae (BBA)

One of the most difficult aquarium algae to remove.

Blue-Green Aquarium Algae

Often referred to as slime or smear algae.

Brown Aquarium Algae

This brown aquarium algae so goes by the names gravel or silica algae.

Green Aquarium Algae

Also known as hair, thread or green spot algae (GSA).

Green-Water Aquarium Algae

The Green Water Aquarium Algae is commonly referred to as algae bloom.