How To Naturally Get Rid Of Algae In Your Fish Tank

By Billy | Updated: May 12, 2022 | Planted Tanks

Figuring out how to balance your fish tank’s water parameters is a skill.

In fact, this was my biggest problem when first starting out. Almost every week my fish tank was overrun by algae.

Frustrating, yes! But after trial and error, I finally have a well-balanced tank. I’ll share my process in a clear and concise way so you can get your aquarium looking crystal clear again.

The first solution might be to…

Minimal Substrate

aquarium substrate

I originally thought that the more substrate, the better it would be for my plants. However, after doing a lot of research, I found there are a lot of nutrients in substrates. And I think most beginners assume that they need to lay a thick amount. My biggest mistake was laying over 2″ thick of substrate. If I did it over again, you really only need a 1″. To further fight algae, you can also lay a small layer of sand on top of the substrate. This will block the substrate from being directly exposed to the light and will lower the algae. Algae is caused by an abundance of nutrients, so you don’t want to add too much substrate.

Lower Lighting


It took me a while to realize, but I was running my light too long/powerful. Previously I had two plants die because my stock aquarium light was too low. So I automatically assumed to use a more powerful light.

While, yes I did need more light, I didn’t need too much more. I used a default setting in my new light, which ran for 12 hours, peaking at 100% power. That was the main cause of my algae. I used a setting that was too powerful for my plants, so algae began to rapidly grow.

Minimal Fertilizer

Another mistake I made was using too much fertilizer. Sometimes I get in this mindset, “the more, the better,” which is not the case with fish tanks. Especially because you’re trying to replicate a natural environment and you want to keep it balanced.

Regular Water Changes

I get it, not everyone wants to do water changes. But trust me, if you’re having an issue with algae, it will help immensely. Everyone’s tank will be different, but I try to do a 25% water change once a week. This helps keep the water parameters balanced.

New Filter

I remember trying almost everything and still getting algae. I completely forgot that I didn’t change my aquarium filter for a few months and it was overloaded with bacteria. It wasn’t doing a good job of filtering the water. Once I swapped it out for a new one, my water balanced out.

Snails & Shrimp

Although I still haven’t had any snails or shrimp, I’ve read extensively on the benefits of adding them to your tank. This will be my next addition. They are fantastic at eating any of the extra waste that the fish don’t eat. Do you know all that light brown organic waste that piles up? Snails and shrimp will help maintain that by eating it.


I've had a fascination with aquariums since a young age. Recently, I built a 5-gallon planted tank. My goal is to share my journey to help make yours easier.