If you’re an experienced aquarist, chances are that you’ve discovered hair algae in your fish tank at some point. It starts with a few strands on a piece of live rock but can spread across the rock to the walls of the aquarium if the conditions in the aquarium are right. Most people try to scrape it off brushes or razor blades but this can ultimately cause the algae to grow faster as fragments can be dispersed.
Although taking the rock out of the tank to clean can help, the algae will eventually return after a short period. If you’ve noticed the growth of these algae, this article will provide you with useful information on the causes of hair algae and how to effectively get rid of them.
Causes of Hair Algae
Several factors can cause these algae to appear and grow in your aquarium. Knowing the cause of the algae can help you to prevent them from growing again. Here are some of the causes of hair algae:
High Level of Nitrate and Phosphate
Hair algae can survive when the nitrate and phosphate levels are high in the tank. So when there’s a high level of phosphate and nitrate in the tank, there’s a high possibility that these algae will begin to grow.
Light is another important cause of hair algae. Light has been found to help spread the algae faster. When the light is too bright, the spread of the algae is even faster.
When the level of CO2 is insufficient, it can lead to the appearance and spread of the algae. The ideal concentration of CO2 in an aquarium should be 20-30 mg/l. When CO2 is below that level, it makes it easier for the algae to appear and grow.
Getting Rid of the Algae
It’s interesting to know that you can slow down the growth of hair algae in your fish tank with many things. As discussed earlier, light is essential to the growth of the algae. Therefore, a reduction in light can help reduce algae growth. However, reducing the light greatly can harm the corals in your aquarium. Light reduction can only reduce some growth, but not significantly.
Reduce Algae Food
Another effective way of stunting the growth of hair algae is to reduce the food the algae requires for growth. The algae regularly feed on phosphates and nitrates to grow, so cutting its supply of essential nutrients is a sure way of stunting its growth in your tank.
It is impossible to completely get rid of phosphate and nitrates because virtually everything that you put in your tank (fish foods, natural seawater, and sea salt mix) can increase the level of phosphates and nitrates.
Introduce Algae Eaters
A great way of getting rid of hair algae is to introduce organisms that feed on the algae. There are fish species and critters that can feed on algae. Algae eaters like mollies, ghost shrimps, Ameca splendens, amongst many others are very helpful in getting rid of algae from your fish tank.
Use Healthy Plants
Plants can help prevent algae from appearing in your tank. The more plants present in your tank, the fewer space algae has to grow. Additionally, plants create shade which makes it difficult for algae to spread in your tank.
Hair Algae Impostors
There are different species of algae that look like the hair algae found in saltwater aquariums. The difference between them can only be identified through a microscopic examination. Algae eaters do not feed on this algae. So, if all these eradication methods do not work, the best line of action is to empty your fish tank and clean it thoroughly.
We hope you’ll find this article helpful in getting rid of hair algae in your fish tank. You should know, however, that eradication of the algae is not an easy process, so you’ll have to be patient. Additionally, some methods may not always work for everyone the same way. This can be because water is different in various parts of the world and some methods may not work in certain kinds of water. Either way, don’t rush it. With time, you’ll get rid of the unwanted algae.