Top 5 Ways to Clean Algae from Your Fish Tank
Algae is a natural part of the aquarium ecosystem because it helps to purify the water from toxic waste chemicals and serves as a food source for algae-eating fish and invertebrates. Most people view algae as an unwanted guest. Too much algae can block your view and slow down the growth of healthy plants. Let’s talk about 5 easy methods for cleaning algae off your aquarium walls and decorations.
1. Use tools to manually eliminate algae
Because it is quick and easy, you can remove algae using your hands. Let’s now talk about the best tools that you should have. An algae scrubber is a great tool to clean algae off aquarium walls. This gentle sponge is made of non-toxic melamine foam and won’t scratch your glass and acrylic tanks. Mag-Float Glass Cleaner and the matching scraper blades are great for scraping tough algae such as green spot algae. These glass-safe blades can easily cut through green spots algae like a hot knife through butter. This will save you a lot of time and effort when it is about tank maintenance. (For acrylic fish tanks, please use the Mag-Float Acrylic Cleaner with the appropriate acrylic scraper blades.)
An algae scrubber can be used to wipe away algae from aquarium walls so that you have a clear view of your fish and plants.
For cleaning hard-to reach areas, aquarium decorations, hardscape, or plant leaves, a simple toothbrush can be a great tool. You can get rid of certain types of hair alga by picking up the algae strands using the toothbrush bristles. The toothbrush bristles will then be used to twist the toothbrush until the algae is shaped like spaghetti. You can also use an aquarium siphon if the substrate is covered in blue-green algae and brown diatom algae.
Twirl a toothbrush in a mass of hair algae to easily detach it from plants, hardscape, or fish tank decor.
2. Get Help from Algae-Eating Animals
When algae growth starts overtaking a fish tank, many people automatically look for an algae eater to solve all their problems. They are second on the list because they only eat certain types of algae, and may not be capable of cleaning your entire aquarium. But they can be a great second line of defence that can help you fight the algae. Our top picks for nano tanks are nerite snails and amano shrimp. For larger tanks, get some bristlenose plecos or Siamese algae eaters to cover more area. You can also read more about the top 10 algae eaters in freshwater aquariums.
The Siamese Algae Eater is a good member of the fish tank clean-up crew. But, be careful not to get its more aggressive sibling, the Chinese Algae Eater.
3. Remove Excess Organics in the Tank
Algae can easily eat nitrogen compounds from fish poop and unhealthy leaves. If your aquarium is fairly new and not well-established yet, it helps to eliminate any sources of nutrients that algae can take advantage of. Use a pair scissors to trim any algae-covered leaves in a planted tank. To remove any rotting ground material, use a siphon and reduce the amount of food you give fish if they stop eating within a couple minutes.
Blue-green algae prefers to grow in places where there is debris, or “dead areas” in the aquarium. This can happen if the current is too slow, or if there are large ornaments and hardscape that block the flow. You can improve water flow by moving decorations, filling gaps with substrate or installing a stronger filter.
4. Balance Lighting and Nutrients
Ultimately, the most effective way to get rid of algae is addressing the root problem that is causing the algae to outcompete your plants. Algae can use the same resources as plants to grow and photosynthesize, and if they have too many or too few of these building blocks, it can thrive at an alarming rate.
We recommend that you use an outlet timer to balance your tank. This will turn on the light for 6-8 hours each day. Then, increase or decrease your nutrients as necessary. If the nitrate level is above 50 ppm, do a water change to dilute the amount of nitrogen waste. The tank should be drained with Easy Green all-in one fertilizer until the nitrate level reaches 20ppm. You should wait 2-3 weeks before making any changes to the lighting or nutrients levels. This will allow you to see how it affects your plants and make adjustments accordingly. It is impossible to eliminate all algae from your plants. Therefore, you should try to minimize the amount of it that you can.
5. Treat with an Algae Inhibitor
When it comes to chemical treatments, there’s a delicate balance between finding a remedy that is strong enough to affect the algae without harming the animals and plants in the fish tank. Although liquid carbon is often sold as a fertilizer to aquarium plants, it is actually an algae inhibitor which is known for reducing algae growth. Our brand of liquid carbon, Easy Carbon, is safe for fishes and invertebrates. It has an easy to use pump head dispenser that can quickly dose your fish tanks. To directly spray Easy Carbon on black beard alga (BBA), you can use a pipette. This is the most difficult type of algae to eliminate. Read the complete article for more information on liquid carbon.
Easy Carbon is effective against persistent algae outbreaks like BBA. To allow the chemical’s “soaking” to take effect, turn off the filter for a few seconds before you apply it directly.
Chemical treatments are last on our list because we believe that they can be most beneficial after you have balanced the nutrients and lighting in your aquarium. You can’t use algicides in your tank if you don’t do the above four steps. Your algae growth will continue and the chemical will have minimal to no effect. You can read our article about the 6 most common types and how to stop algae growth.