Algae Breakouts in the Aquarium

Algae Breakouts in the Aquarium
How to Get Rid of Algae in a Freshwater Aquarium

Algae (singular, alga) is a broad classification covering many plant-like organisms. Algae growth, while natural and suitable for an aquarium, can quickly grow out of control. Algae will grow on everything in an aquarium, including the glass walls, decor, and even aquatic life.

The two most common types of algae present in a freshwater aquarium are brown algae and green algae. Brown algae can be removed from surfaces easily with just a quick wipe-down. However, green algae can only be removed with a scraper.

Similar to plants, algae utilizes photosynthesis to create its own food supply; thus, conditions that are great for growing freshwater plants will exacerbate algae growth. Luckily, practical measures can be taken to limit the amount of algae growth in an aquarium.

Keep a Schedule

Scheduling out essential tasks, including feeding, changing water, and maintenance can help reduce algae buildups. By creating a schedule, the risk of overfeeding aquatic life is reduced. When Aquatic life overeats, they produce more waste and food waste, which allows algae to thrive.

A shrimp tank needs a 10 to 20 percent water change biweekly, while a protein-heavy eater tank needs a 30 percent or more water change weekly. Additionally, a thorough tank cleaning should occur monthly.


The lighting used in the day and night cycle for aquatic life and plants is crucial, as they require 12 hours of light a day. The required lighting can enable algae growth if the lighting is too bright. Keeping lighting dim allows aquatic life and plants to thrive while limiting algae growth.

Also, avoid natural lighting, as direct sunlight can cause an algae bloom.

Live Plants

Growing live plants in an aquarium can help control algae growth, as they are competitors for the same food supply.

Algae-Eating Aquatic Creatures

Freshwater Snails, Neocaridina Shrimp, and Amano Shrimp are excellent scavengers and will help to manage algae growth. Adding algae-eating fish like the Spotted Borneo Sucker, the Reticulated Hillstream Loach, and the Cobalt Blue Dwarf Goby will also help to manage algae.

How to Get Rid of an Algae Breakout

Aquariums can sometimes go from clean to green overnight, as a sudden change in water parameters can cause a burst of algae growth. The key is determining what happened to cause a spike in the water chemicals. The likely culprit is overfeeding, forgetting to change the water, or adding new aquatic life.

The solution to the algae problem is simple, a water change. The freshwater will remove some of the nutrients that algae consume. It may take a few water changes before an aquarium becomes healthy. Performing a water change twice a week will yield the best results.

Utilizing a water-testing kit and discovering more about ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites will also help control the amount of algae in an aquarium.

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