Unwanted algae in your tank is a seemingly unavoidable nuisance in the aquarium hobby. Algae isn't entirely bad for your aquarium, it can actually be good in cases by converting waste into oxygen via photosynthesis, effectively cleaning your water! Even if it does clean your water, algae sure is an eyesore in your aquarium. Algae is one of the oldest plant on the planet, and require the most basic and least amount of nutrition to thrive. There are multiple types of common tank algae, that we are going to look at the common causes and cures for!
Hair algae comes in a spectrum of light to dark green but also can sometimes appear in a brown color. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure out where the name comes from, hair algae looks like hair! Hair algae is known to have a rapid growth rate, causing problems for many hobbiests. This type of algae will attach itself to plants and decorations around the aquarium. It tends to be caused by excess iron present in the water or too much light. The hair algae can be manually removed with a barbed skewer. Otherwise, use a home test kit or bring your water here to Pisces for a water inspection and check that your nutrients are balanced. It will also help to stock up on hair algae eaters like mollies, diamese algae eaters and dwarf shrimp.
A type of diatom (single celled algae) that can be found in freshwater tanks but are predominantly a problem for marine tanks. It will start off as a thin filament on the top of your aquarium substrate, and rapidly take over all the surface area in your tank with a slimy film. Oh yea, it looks as good as it sounds. It is not uncommon to see this problem in new aquariums during the process of establishing your nitrogen cycle. The best way to combat brown algae is by depriving the algae of the nutrients in needs to thrive. Starting to notice a theme here? Performing small, consistent water changes will remove some of the nutrients, and is beneficial to your tank in other ways. Make sure your lights are on no longer than 8 hours a day, anything higher than that is algae city!
Black Beard Algae
The main cause of black beard algae seems to be tied to unstable CO2 conditions and erratic lighting. BBA algae is a type of red algae, like the brown algae, more common in saltwater aquariums but can also happen in freshwater. This type of algae can be more difficult to remove, growing densely in patches on hard surfaces in the tank as well as slow growing plants. Adding a powerhead to increase water flow will help fight the algae, as this algae thrives in low-flow aquariums (Pisces recommends: Fluval Sea Circulation Pump). Check your equipment and your CO2 to make sure everything is running and your desired CO2 output is being reached. Any BBA algae that has been sprouting off the glass can be removed using an acrylic/glass safe tank scrubber (Pisces recommends: Magfloat Glass Cleaner).
BGA / Red Slime Algae
BGA is actually a cyanobacteria, a single-celled nitrogen fixing bacteria. BGA can be identified as a blue-green and other times reddish or purple coating across your aquarium floor and decor. It is very common to see this type of algae in & above your substrate pressed against the front of your aquarium glass. If you have GBA, it is likely caused by poor water quality cause by excess waste in the aquarium (mainly uneaten food & fecal matter). This algae can lie dormant for hundreds or even thousands of years, and blossom when the proper requirements are met. Pisces recommends: Marine Pro Step 3 Waste Breakdown & Algae Reducer to help reduce the algae by competing with its food source. In addition to Step 3, performing a 10%-15% water change 3 times a week will help cycle out the nutrients BGA needs to thrive.
Staghorn Algae is easily identifiable, the growths look like horns of stag, unsurprisingly. This type of algae commonly grows on aquarium decoration, tech equipment and some plant leaves. This algae appears grey and seems to be rather unappetizing to algae-eating aquarium animals. Staghorn algae is usually found in planted aquariums and develops from low CO2 and/or poor water circulation. If you have a new tank that has not been cycled properly, the high levels of ammonia can also trigger staghorn growth. Unfortunately manual removal of this algae is rather difficult. If you have staghorn algae, increase your water flow and the level of CO2 in your tank, in addition to regular water changes. This will improve the plant growth and help your plants win the fight for nutrients against algae in the aquarium.