Determining which algae you have and what is causing the excessive growth is the first step of removal. Once you know the types of algae you are dealing with, you can come up with a plan to maintain good algae.
Aquarium Algae Control & Removal
Determining the Cause of Your Algae Problem
After we know what type of algae problem we are dealing with, the first step in controlling the problem algae is to determine the root cause of algae blooms. Chances are, the reason you are having algae problems can be traced back to your lighting, feeding, and cleaning routines.
Step 1: Make sure your aquarium lights are cycling properly. Removing or keeping a consistent light cycle will let you focus on the more important causes of algae which are nitrates and phosphates that show up in the tank through the water that is added, and/or because of excess food and additives.
Step 2: Test your tank’s Ph, Nitrates, Nitrites, and Phosphates to establish a baseline.(If you do not have test kits, you can normally fill a CLEAN water bottle with water from your tank and bring it to your Local Fish Store (LFS).)
Step 3: Take Action!
Methods for Removing Algae from your Aquarium
Depending on the type of aquarium, livestock, and algae problem you have, the methods you will hear about for fighting aquariums can run the entire gamut from natural and mechanical algae control, to the non-recommended harsh chemicals and algaecides.
Biological Algae Control
In saltwater aquariums colonizing bacteria consume excess nutrients, without these bacteria there would be no ecosystem. Overstocking of an aquarium will result in poor fish health and high waste levels. Some fish and other tank inhabitants can consume certain types of algae, and maintain algae growth. Live plants will compete with algae to use up available nutrients in the water. Using filtered water and the correct salts will minimize the available harmful nutrients being added to the aquarium.
Mechanical Algae Control
There are different ways to control the amount of phosphates and nitrates in your water, but proper weekly or bi-weekly water changes has proven to be the best way to remove them.
Different filtration methods will help control algae in the home aquarium. Cycling water through different media will improve water quality and remove excess nutrients. Sponges and other material such as felt can remove unwanted nutrients. Routine cleaning of these different materials is recommended.
UV sterilizers kill free floating algae that passes through the light along with some parasites and bacteria.
A protein skimmer pulls organic wastes out of the water which keeps nitrate levels in check. Other devices such as denitrifing filters can be attempted by more advanced hobbyists.
Chemical Algae Control
There are different products available that can lower phosphate levels without harming any fish or corals. Active carbon filters remove foul odors and ammonia from water. Other chemical additives that are used in a tank can contain phosphates as well. Careful attention should be paid to dosing instructions of products added to a tank. Also using multiple products could have a negative interaction. If nothing else works there are algaecides that can be used to treat algae blooms, but if the right steps are not taken, algae will find its way back into your tank.