Every aquarist is going to run into algae issues at some point. Figuring out how to control it comes with experience.
This was my biggest problem when first starting. Almost every week, my fish tank had algae outbreaks.
After trial and error, I finally have a good grasp of how to manage it. I’ll share some easy ways to reduce algae in your fish tank.
First, accept that you’ll never fully get rid of algae. It’ll always be part of your fish tank, so embrace it. However, you can do a few things to decrease it significantly.
Common solutions are…
- Lowering your lighting
- Adding more plants
- Doing regular water changes
- Adding a cleanup crew.
Keep scrolling to learn more.
The first solution might be to…
1. Less Light
It took me a while to realize, but I was running my Fluval LED nano light too long. My first aquarium light was too weak, killing some plants. So I thought the more light, the better.
While I did need more light, I didn’t need too much more. I used a default setting, which ran for 12 hours, full blast. That was a terrible idea because it fed algae growth. Within a week, my tank was overtaken by algae.
A good rule of thumb is to lower your lighting power and keep it on for 8 hours daily (maximum).
You might even want to dial your light down to 6 hours per day, depending on how bad it is.
If the algae is very bad, you can do a blackout. Turn off your light for 3-4 days and cover it with a trash bag; this will kill off any algae spores. Just make sure there’s no light at all getting into the tank. Just be aware that this can put a lot of stress on your plants. You may even want to consider trying a UV light before doing a blackout.
#1 Key Takeaway
Lower your lighting. There’s a good chance your light is either too powerful or on for too long. A general rule of thumb is to keep it on for 8 hours daily (maximum). Algae is opportunistic, meaning they’ll expose any imbalance in your tank.
2. More Plants
Plants act as natural filters by absorbing the available nutrients and keeping your tank balanced. If you only have a couple of live plants, you’ll have a higher chance of algae.
A good rule is to cover 70% of your substrate with plants.
#2 Key Takeaway
The more plants, the better. It helps balance out your water parameters by absorbing nutrients, which helps prevent algae.
3. Fewer Fish
Don’t max out your tank with fish, especially in the beginning. Fish waste can be a contributor to algae growth because of the ammonia. If you have enough beneficial bacteria, the ammonia will cycle to nitrite, then nitrate.
This is why it’s beneficial to have a lot of plants in your tank because they absorb nitrate for growth. Or you can perform water changes to get the nitrate levels lower.
The more fish you have, the more ammonia will be produced. And if you don’t have enough plants to absorb all the nutrients or don’t do enough water changes, algae will use it to grow.
#3 Key Takeaway
Don’t overstock your fish tank because of the excessive ammonia they will produce. More live plants and fewer fish is a good approach.
4. Regular Water Changes
I briefly mentioned why water changes are important in the above section, but let me elaborate.
Algae forms when there’s an imbalance in your water parameters. The more nutrients, the higher chance for algae. This is why it’s important to do consistent water changes.
I get it, not everyone wants to do weekly water changes, but it’ll help immensely. What’s worked for me is a 30-50% water change once per week.
This helps keep the water parameters balanced.
#4 Key Takeaway
Stay consistent with your water changes. I do a 30-50% water change once per week and it helps me keep my tank (mostly) algae-free.
5. Trim Dead Leaves
Remember how I mentioned algae is opportunistic? Well, when dead leaves are on your plants, it’s an opportunity for algae to grow.
If you notice any plants have dead leaves, trim and remove them immediately.
#5 Key Takeaway
Trim and remove any dead leaves on your plants.
6. Clean Filter
I remember trying almost everything and still getting algae. I completely forgot that I didn’t clean my aquarium filter for a few months, and it was overloaded with bacteria.
It wasn’t doing a good job of properly filtering the water.
#6 Key Takeaway
Remove and clean your filter in a bucket of aquarium water. You don’t want to kill all of the beneficial bacteria on it. But you don’t want an abundance.
7. Add A Cleanup Crew
Get some nerite snails or shrimp. They’re known for eating algae and can help you keep it under control.
They are fantastic at eating any extra waste that the fish don’t eat. You know all that light colored organic waste that piles up? Often referred to as detritus. Snails and shrimp will eat it, helping you keep your water balanced.
#7 Key Takeaway
Snails and shrimp are a great way to help you keep your algae under control. It won’t be a ‘cure,’ but it’s a good way to contain it.
The main thing that helped me control algae has been realizing that it occurs when there’s an imbalance in your aquarium. Add more live plants, lessen your light, perform regular water changes and add a cleanup crew.
Don’t let it get too bad because it will spread quickly.