14 Aquarium Algae Types: Causes and Treatments (Full Guide)

The appearance of unwanted algae in a marine aquarium not only spoils its appearance but also affects the quality of the water and the life of the inhabitants of the tank. The way to eliminate this problem depends on the type of parasitic aquarium plant and the reason for its growth.

aquarium algae types

Over time, algae may appear in the aquarium.

CAUSES OF ALGAE in Aquarium and why its bad

There are beneficial types of algae that are specially introduced into the aquarium as a living filter.

However, most colonies of lower plants are undesirable because harm aquarium inhabitants:

  • cause water bloom (some species);
  • release toxic substances (a number of representatives);
  • increase the content of decay products of organic particles.

The combination of these factors often leads to the death of fish and other living organisms.

The concern of aquarists is the rapid growth of algae. The walls, stones, and other elements of the reservoir are covered with a raid, plant leaves are overgrown.

The appearance of algae signals one of the problems:

  • exceeding the permissible number of inhabitants of the aquarium;
  • violation of the water change regime;
  • overfeeding (food not eaten by fish remains in the water);
  • disturbances in the operation of filter elements.

The situation may be caused by the use of poor quality water.


For many species of parasitic plants, phosphates play the role of nutrients. Therefore, it is important to minimize the content of these compounds in water and regularly monitor their level (for this, test kits are used).

Routes of phosphate entering the aquarium:

  • tap water;
  • fish feed;
  • nutritional supplements.

Phosphates harm the environment inside the aquarium.

It is recommended to avoid feed that can be a source of large amounts of phosphates. When using frozen food, thaw it to drain off excess liquid. You need to give as much food that the fish can eat in about 2 minutes.

Activated carbon can be used to remove phosphates. Reverse osmosis and deionization systems are recommended for water purification.


Nitric acid salts promote the growth of algae. Nitrates have the ability to build up in water, which over time leads to the growth of algal colonies.

To prevent excess nitrate compounds, the following are recommended:

  1. Introduce tridacn clams. These aquarium dwellers are able to process nitrates.
  2. Equip the reservoir with lots of live rocks. The more porous they are, the better.
  3. Avoid overcrowding the aquarium.
  4. Renew water regularly (partial change). You cannot limit yourself to adding the evaporated volume of liquid. It is recommended to use purified water by osmosis or deionization.
  5. Clean sand and gravel using a siphon.
  6. Place macroalgae that absorb nitrates.

It is necessary to test the water for nitrate levels. The filter cartridges must be replaced and cleaned promptly to prevent the decomposition of accumulated particles.


For photosynthesis and the development of any crops, carbon dioxide is needed, the role of which in the fight against aquarium algae is reduced to the competitive struggle of plants. In higher species, photosynthesis and metabolism are more efficient than in lower groups. Therefore, with the rapid development and growth of higher species, algae are displaced. However, with a low level of carbon dioxide, the opposite happens – it is enough for the growth of primitive algae, while aquarium plants experience carbon dioxide starvation.

To slow the growth of algae, supplying carbon dioxide is not a panacea, it is important to ensure the health of the ornamental plants so that they receive enough nutrition and light to survive the struggle for survival.

For the introduction of the substance, special tablets, reactors, gas cylinders with a pressure reducer are used. The saturation of the water must be monitored because an excess of a substance will lead to a change in the pH value.

In the absence of green spaces in the tank, combating algae by supplying carbon dioxide does not make sense. In this case, aquarists sometimes practice reducing carbon dioxide levels by increasing surface waves. For this, pumps are used. With an active flow, the gas leaves, and the water is saturated with oxygen.

The intensity of the flow must be regulated so that it does not interfere with the movement of the fish and the ingress of dirt particles into the filter (otherwise they will break down inside the aquarium and provoke more growth of parasitic plants).


Silicic acid salts are not dangerous compounds in the aquarium, but they do promote the development of a number of algae. The source of silicates can be tap water or silicate sand in the aquarium. If testing has shown a problem, it is recommended to install a reactor for additional water treatment. Alumina filter media is also used.

An alternative to chemical water treatment can be the establishment of shrimp and species of fish that eat algae in the aquarium.

Common Aquarium Algae Types And methods of dealing with them

The way to get rid of parasitic plants depends on their species.

aquarium algae treatment


One of the types of cyanobacteria is characterized by the appearance of deposits of a dark green tint on the walls and objects in the aquarium. Often appears due to non-compliance with the water change regime. This species is dangerous for the inhabitants of the reservoir because cyanobacteria release toxins that gradually accumulate in water, soil, stones. The algae colony absorbs nutrients and oxygen needed to keep fish and plants alive. There is an unpleasant odor in the water in the tank.

Blue-green algae are hardy and difficult to get rid of. Even the smallest remains of bacteria can cause a relapse of the aquarium disease.

How to Get Rid of Blue-Green Algae?

There are the following methods to combat algae:

  1. Free the aquarium from inhabitants, plants and soil, remove the filter. Darken the reservoir for several days, covering it with a dark cloth (sunlight is necessary for the development of bacteria).
  2. Disinfect plants and objects with a potassium permanganate solution.
  3. Add hydrogen peroxide to the water (25 ml is needed per 100 liters of water). The procedure is repeated every other day. After 4 days, 40% of the water is changed. The fish can be launched after the parasite is completely eliminated.

For the complete destruction of cyanobacteria, it is necessary to reduce daylight hours, remove the algae film, and regularly clean the bottom substrate with a siphon. Installing an activated carbon canister filter and daily water changes (30%) from a healthy aquarium are effective measures. Preventive measures should be a priority: timely cleaning of the aquarium and water changes. Excessive sunlight should be avoided in the tank.


Crimson flowers live in bunches on all surfaces, grow deeply into the leaves and stems of plants. They are dangerous due to their rapid development and the complexity of removal. Common causes of red algae growth are an excess of nutrients in the aquarium and infrequent cleaning and water changes. Crimson appears in places of strong current with increased aeration. Poor filtration, excessive lighting power, or a lack of carbon dioxide can be factors of appearance.

The use of chemicals and antibiotics can be temporary. The process of getting rid of the scarlet can take up to 2 months.

How to Get Rid of RED ALGAE (CRIMSON)?

This requires the following measures:

  1. Remove affected elements from the aquarium regularly.
  2. Change 20% of the water weekly and clean the topsoil.
  3. Disable aeration.
  4. Reduce the number of fish, leaving herbivorous species.
  5. Reduce the diet of the inhabitants of the aquarium.
  6. Reduce daylight hours. If this measure is not possible due to the presence of light-loving plants, the supply of fertilizers and carbon dioxide should be increased. Gradually, the red algae will be replaced by rapidly growing plants.
  7. Choose fertilizers without phosphates and nitrates.
  8. Wash decorations and equipment with bleach solution (25%).

In order to maintain the normal state of water, it is recommended to place long-stemmed plants in the tank.


They look like tangled long thin threads of green color. The texture of the algae is soft and slippery. The plant grows quickly and fills the aquarium space on any surface.

This type of algae appears when the tank is not properly maintained, for example, with excessive illumination and insufficient aeration. Spores often end up with decorative items and immigrant plants. An excess of iron, phosphates, and nitrates provokes the growth of filamentous fiber.

The main danger is the pollution of the aquatic environment due to the decomposition of dead areas of algae and the cobweb entwining of threads of other plants. The ingress of feed residues into the plant structures provokes water pollution.


First, it is necessary to eliminate the causative factor in the development of filamentous tissue. It is necessary to adjust the level of phosphates and nitrates, aeration. For mechanical removal, scrapers, magnetic floats are used. Filters and decorative elements are cleaned with a sponge or toothbrush. For disinfection, hydrogen peroxide or special agents (Sidex, Tetra Algizit) are used.


They are characterized by a brown bloom that appears on glass and decor. Algae of this species are considered the least dangerous for the inhabitants of the aquarium, however, in the absence of measures to remove them, the colonies quickly spread and cover all surfaces with a dark film. They are often found in reservoirs where other plants are absent. sensitive to competition.

How to Get Rid of diatoms ALGAE?

Diatoms are easily removed mechanically. For this, cotton cloth is used to wipe the glass and decorative surfaces. The leaves and stems of aquarium plants are cleaned with running water.

Some types of fish (for example, catfish) eat thread, this can serve as a preventive measure. Even in advanced cases, you can quickly get rid of algae by mechanical cleaning, water changes, and maintaining a balanced environment. In some cases, chemicals are used.


These are the simplest organisms related to flagellates, which are able to exist in colonies. Cover the surfaces in the aquarium with adhesive tape.

There are species that are safe for the inhabitants of the aquarium (outbreaks of activity pass without outside intervention in a short time). But there are dangerous species that emit toxic substances that can kill hedgehogs, snails, and corals.

There is no consensus on the reasons for the appearance of these microorganisms in water. Some experts are sure that dinoflagellates are constantly present and that when the balance of the environment is disturbed, they grow. Others are convinced of accidentally introducing algae into the aquarium. Dinoflagellates appear even in stable marine systems. In some cases, it becomes impossible to save the aquarium.

How to Get Rid of Dinoflagellates?

To get rid of algae, it is recommended:

  • mechanical removal;
  • the use of sorbents;
  • shading of the aquarium;
  • increasing the proportion of water for the change;
  • normalization of water treatment.

In practice, these measures have little effect. The most effective is the use of chemistry (Fauna Marin Algae X and QFI DinoXal).


Creates a powdery film in the aquarium, a turbid effect. Microalgae can be permanently present in the reservoir, but create problems during the flowering period, which occurs when nutrients are available. The overgrowth of the colony interferes with the normal lighting of the aquarium.

How to Get Rid of GREEN FILM ALGAE?

A number of representatives of mollusks, chitons, and snails eat film formations, which allows maintaining the balance of the environment. If algae are constantly appearing and growing, it is recommended to reduce the level of nitrates and phosphates. The use of a magnetic scraper will be effective. The decorative elements are cleaned with a toothbrush. After blowing the stones with a syringe, a water change is carried out.


Also called macroalgae. They consist of filaments, however, unlike filamentous green species, they have a coarse and rigid structure. May have confusing root systems. This species often grows on rocks, which can only be cleaned outside the aquarium. The affected coral or stone is placed in an algicide solution.

How to Get Rid of GREEN TURF ALGAE?

Sod algae are eaten by sea urchins, emerald crabs, and chitons. Peat plants with root plexus are easily removed by abrupt pulling.

Bryopsis algae

Bryopsis is the most difficult to eliminate species. Green feathery plants, localized on the sand and living stones, gradually fill all the free space.

How to Get Rid of Bryopsis algae?

The most effective removal methods:

  • increased magnesium levels within 3-4 days;
  • treatment with liquid magnesium with a syringe (bottom to top).

During treatment, all pumps and flow pumps must be turned off. You can turn them on after 5-10 minutes. After a few hours, a change in the color of the algae is observed, then their death. Pure magnesium should not be applied to corals; the method requires caution. Another option is to use hydrogen peroxide.


Valonia has the appearance of smooth shiny green or red bubbles. It is not a dangerous species, but it grows quickly and covers the surfaces of stones and decorations. Bubbles can be as large as a ping-pong ball. The peculiarity of algae is that they are easily removed by hand or tweezers. Bubbles should not be allowed to burst, this will lead to the release of spores.


Bubble algae are eaten by emerald crabs.

Lobophora algae

Red or yellow algae have the shape of a saucer or corrugated ribbon. Grows on rocks, but spreads slowly. It is difficult to delete them manually because in this case, it is necessary to remove the upper stone layer. It is recommended to leave the affected stone in the dark for an extended period.

How to Get Rid of Lobophora ALGAE?

Cleaners will help control the number of algae.


This type is less common. Has the ability to quickly grow out of a fragment. Has the appearance of a pale pink or reddish-brown down, consists of numerous branches.


The plant is easily removed: it is necessary to grab the bundle with your fingers, when pulling out, scrape off the junction of the parasite with your thumb from the surface.

Sea urchins, a number of representatives of crabs and crayfish, and snails eat algae.

Dictyota Algae

Some species of these plants are in demand in the aquarium hobby. Harmful species are often shorter, have an iridescent color, and are localized on the surface of stones. Forked branches have no trunk or distinct attachment point.

How to Get Rid of DICTYOTA ALGAE?

They are easily removed manually. A fixed plant is more difficult to remove; the stone should be quarantined in a dark place. All particles must be carefully scraped off the surface. Competing macroalgae and cleaners are effective ways to prevent the overgrowth of Dictyota.


Plants have a reddish tint and a translucent structure. The branches have a cylindrical irregular shape. Most often formed on stones. 

How to Get Rid of Chondria Algae?

Mechanical removal at the attachment point is possible; individual areas are cleaned with tweezers or a toothpick. Cleaners are effective when overgrown.

Caulerpa Grape Algae

The plant grows rapidly and can overwhelm corals and other organisms. Caulerpa is able to grow into the tissues of living organisms, secretes substances that scare away herbivorous fish (this affects the condition of the corals). Another feature is that the algae gradually turns the water yellow.

How to Get Rid of Caulerpa Grape Algae?

If an escape is found, it is important to remove it in a timely manner. The thicker it is, the easier it is to remove. Use a toothpick to remove the smallest particles from the surface. Many types of cleaners feed on the Caulerpa to avoid the overgrowth of the parasite.

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