What Are Algae And How They Grow In A Tank (Does Your Fish Needs Algae?)

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Algae are groups of aquatic life forms that have the ability to perform photosynthesis. We know some varieties of algae, especially those thriving in a fish tank. Some types of algae are beneficial to the fish, but most are detrimental to their existence while in captivity.

To give you an idea of what algae are, common seaweed is a kind of algae. So are pond scum and giant kelp, they are all examples of algae. In this article, we will introduce you what algae are and how they grow in a tank as well as some species of fish eating algae.

What Are The Types Of Algae?

There are various species of algae commonly found in fish tanks. Here are some of the types of freshwater algae and their characteristics:

5 Algae Species Commonly Found In Aquariums

Brush Or Beard Algae

These algae form a short and hairy tufts that almost always grow near a light source. This type of algae is slippery, but soft and is hard to be removed by mechanical means.

Green Spot Algae

This variety prefers an abundance of light. They also thrive in a fish tank with low phosphate and high carbon dioxide level. To minimize the growth of these algae on an aquarium is easy: don’t overfeed your fish and avoid stocking food on the water.

Brown Algae (Diatoms)

Diatoms will more likely to grow in low-light fish tanks. They thrive in which nitrogen level is low while phosphate level is high. These algae also thrive from the nutrients from substrates and the decorations.

Cladophora Algae

This type of algae is not slimy and forms a moss-like creature. It branches out and appears as green filamentous algae. They grow unusually in other plant species and also quickly multiplies in rocks and driftwood. The Cladophora algae are easy to be removed because they stay only in one spot in the tank.

Soft (green) Slime Algae

The green slime algae are the favorite of most algae-eating fish. Hobbyists seldom see these algae because they are easily eaten by fish.

Why Do Algae Grow In Fish Tanks?

Algal growth is a natural process in the environment including water, light, nutrients, and carbon dioxide. Certain types of algae grow naturally in lakes, ponds, oceans, and rivers. It is a gift of nature that humans learn to appreciate.

An aquarium is not immune to this phenomena. Algae grow inside a fish tank simply because of the abundance of what we have stated above. Additionally, the food that is present in a fish tank, such as phosphate and nitrates, trigger the rapid growth of algae.

Role of ammonia in algae growth

Ammonia is produced by decomposing plants, rotting food, and fish wastes. It highly contributes to the formation of nitrite, then into nitrate that becomes food for the algae.

Other food sources of algae inside the tank

The other nutrients that algae need to survive are nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. These nutrients also come from fish waste, from other dead algae, and from the decay of other plant debris.

Do Algae Change Water Composition?

The water chemistry will surely change once algae thrive inside the tank. The most significant water chemistry changes and their effects are the following:

Negative E ffects

  • Lowers water quality.
  • Water becomes more acidic in low-light.
  • Water becomes more alkaline in high-light.

Positive Effects

  • Lowers carbon dioxide.
  • Adds oxygen.

Minimizing Algae Growth In Tank

If you have algae-eating fish in your tank, the growth of these microorganisms will surely be a big plus for your fish. But if your fish do not like these plants included in their menu, here are some tips to minimize their growth.

  • Minimize sunlight on your tank.
  • Do not overfeed your fish.
  • Change your aquarium water at least once a week. But change only a third of the water so there are still nutrients left for your fish.
  • Remove algae growing in the rocks, glass, and other hard surfaces regularly. Learn more about clean your fish tank here.

Are There Are Fish Which Eat Algae?

Here are some of the fish species that eat algae and are the favorites of some hobbyists:

1. Stone-Lapping Fish

These fish look slightly like a faded flying fox. They have less color in the fins and has a bulkier body. Their favorite is the soft slime algae.

2. Florida Flagfish

These fish feast on brush or beard algae, which are not attractive to other algae-eating fish because of their very fine strands or tufts.

3. Flying Fox

These fish look like a Siamese algae eater but is more colorful. They thrive from soft slime algae.

4. Siamese algae eater

These fish are the most favored pet of most aquarists because of their ability to devour brush or beard algae without a hitch.

Some Tips From The Experts

Did you know that the Chinese algae-eater is the number one aquarium fish sold in the United States? This is partly because they are cheap and eat algae mercilessly. But beware, most of this fish didn’t come from China but from Thailand.

Furthermore, this fish is piscivore, a fish which eats fellow fish as it grows. You can have it as your pet, but do not put it together with smaller fish.

If you don’t like to keep algae-eating fish in your tank, but you want to minimize algae growth, you may want to add some snails into your aquarium. Like, for example

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