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Algae in the Planted Aquarium

February 29th, 2008


Every aquarium keeper has likely had to deal with an algae problem. In a planted aquarium, an even more complex set of variables can easily go out of whack, and end in a sad algae state. I’ve combined information from a few different websites, added some personal experience, and have hopefully assembled a complete reference for the most common types of algae seen in the planted aquarium, along with their causes and cures. This is an ever-evolving document, so if you feel anything is incorrect or misleading, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment with your correction.

Table of Contents

Black Brush/Beard (Rhodophyta)
Brown Algae (Diatoms)
Blue Green (Cyanobacteria)
Fuzz Algae
Green Dust Algae (GDA)
Green Spot (Choleochaete orbicularis)
Green Water (Euglaena)
Hair/Thread Algae
Staghorn (Compsopogon sp.)

Black Brush/Beard (Rhodophyta)

Black Brush/Beard Algae

Black brush, or BBA, algae can be one of a number of specific genera of “red” algae in the Rhodophyta family. Most of the algae in this family are actually marine, but a few freshwater species exist that particularly target our planted aquariums. This algae may be black, brown, red, or green in coloration, and can quickly coat your plants and hardscape if not kept in check.


  • Nutrient Imbalance – potentially excess N, P, Fe. Strive for the following nutrient levels: N (10-20ppm), P (0.5-2ppm), K (10-20ppm), Ca (10-30ppm), Mg (2-5ppm), Fe (.1ppm).
  • Low pHNeil Frank observes that African Rift tanks never have BBA. It’s believed that BBA thrives in acidic environments, which is unfortunately what most plants prefer.


  • Increase CO2 – This will stimulate plant growth, which should help the plants out-compete the algae for resources.
  • Excel/H202 treatment – Use a syringe to spot treat problem areas. Then manually remove when BBA turns grey/white.
  • Manual removal – Use toothbrush to remove as much as possible.
  • Bleach treatment – Dip affected hardscape items/hardy plants in a bleach/water solution using a 1:20 ratio of bleach to water. Before putting them back into the tank, make sure the item is free of bleach odor.
  • OxiClean treatment – Dip affected hardscape items in a OxiClean solution, making sure you only use the original OxiClean with no other additives.
  • Maintain proper water change/dosing schedule – weekly / bi-weekly changes.
  • Algae Crew – Siamese Algae Eaters (SAE) and Amano shrimp are known to eat this algae.
  • Copper (not recommended) – There are commercial algaecides containing copper that will kill BBA, but they will mostly likely also kill your plants.

Brown Algae (Diatoms)

Diatom Algae

Brown Algae, or diatoms, often present themselves as a brown, muddy, muck that covers plant leaves and hardscape items. It is rare to be seen in a fully established aquarium.


  • Newly setup tank – Aquariums that have just been setup seem to be prone to diatom algae.
  • Excess nutrients – Silica in particular appears to be a trigger. Contact your water utility company for a report detailing silica concentrations in your water supply.
  • Possibly old bulbs – Sometimes, old bulbs can encourage the conditions for diatom algae.


  • Time – Allow it to use up the excess silica, and it will often disappear on its own.
  • Manual removal – Siphon/scrape diatoms manually for quick removal.
  • Algae CrewOtocinclus and Nerite snails are fantastic at clearing a tank of diatoms. They help with other sorts of algae as well.

Blue Green (Cyanobacteria)

Blue Green Algae (BGA)

While often referred to by aquarists as an algae, Blue Green Algae (BGA) is in fact a bacterial slime that can easily coat everything in your tank. Appearing as either a green, black, or purple coating, BGA is perhaps best known for the unique earthy smell that it has when pulled from the tank. As a nitrogen-fixing bacteria, it will fully deplete your water column of any available nitrogen.


  • Low nitrates – Usually present when all of the nitrogen/nitrate has been removed from the water column. While this is a triggering condition, it is also exacerbated by the bacteria itself using any remaining nitrogen.
  • High organics – Overfeeding, or excess organic matter in the tank can trigger BGA.
  • Old light bulbs – Sometimes present when light bulbs are no longer emitting usable light. This may be more of a matter of your plants no longer being able to out-compete the bacteria.
  • Poor water circulation – Circulation is key in a planted aquarium so that no “dead spots” are present where nutrients have been used up locally, but fresh ones are not being recirculated throughout.


  • Increase nitrates – Dose nitrates until the concentration reaches ~5ppm.
  • Add fast growing plants – this helps to out-compete the algae for resources.
  • Blackout – BGA cannot survive without light.
  • Excel/H202 treatment – Use a syringe to spot treat problem areas. Then manually remove dead patches.
  • Erythromycin – use antibiotics at half dosage to kill the bacteria. Mardel Labs’ Maracyn contains erythromycin and has been used effectively without harming most plants.



Cladophora is by far the toughest algae to remove from the aquarium. Forming green, tough, wool-like mats, it seems to favor intermingling itself into hairgrass, substrate, and hardscape items.


  • Marimo Balls – Being in the same family as these algae balls, they can sometimes introduce Cladophora to your aquarium.
  • Healthy Conditions – Unfortunately, Cladophora seems to favor the same healthy water conditions that your plants require.


  • Manual removal – Use toothbrush/tweezers to remove as much as possible.
  • Excel/H202 treatment – Use a syringe to spot treat problem areas.
  • Luck – Very difficult to 100% remove.

Fuzz Algae

Fuzz Algae

Fuzz algae often shows up on plant leaves giving their edges a slightly fuzzy appearance.


  • Nutrient Imbalance – Strive for the following nutrient levels: N (10-20ppm), P (0.5-2ppm), K (10-20ppm), Ca (10-30ppm), Mg (2-5ppm), Fe (.1ppm).
  • Low CO2 – Strive for 20-30ppm concentration of CO2, as permitted by fauna.


  • Maintain proper nutrient/CO2 levels
  • Algae Crew – Siamese Algae Eaters (SAE), Amano shrimp, Otocinclus, and Mollys are known to eat this algae.

Green Dust Algae (GDA)

Green Dust Algae (GDA)

Green Dust Algae (GDA) is a “dusty” green film that appears on the surface of the glass. It’s caused by zoo-spores, and seems to avoid attaching to hardscape items or plant leaves.


  • Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to locate a concrete cause for GDA.


  • Leave alone – GDA appears to have a finite lifecycle, so that if you allow it to run full cycle without scraping it from the glass, it should harden, and fall off after roughly 21 days. After this time, scrap any remaining GDA from the glass, and do a thorough cleaning and water change.
  • Nerite Snails – Nerite snails can help eat through some of the GDA on the glass, but the approach above will likely have to be undergone for full removal.

Green Spot (Choleochaete orbicularis)

Green Spot Algae

Green spot algae is very commonly seen on the glass of tanks when there hasn’t been a water change in awhile, or when an inadequate fertilization scheme has been conducted. GSA also appears on long lasting leaves, such as Java Fern, Anubias, and Bolbitus.


  • Low phosphate (PO4) levels – almost exclusively caused when phosphate levels are depleted.


  • Scrap glass – Use a razor blade to most easily remove from the glass.
  • Dose Phosphates – Dose PO4 to a concentration of 0.5-2.0ppm.
  • Nerite Snails – Nerite snails can help you remove green spot from leaves, as well as, the glass.

Green Water (Euglaena)

Green Water

Green water is free floating single-celled euglenoid protists. It contains chlorophyll a and b, plus carotenoids, giving them their green coloration, but they are not plants. With over 40 genera of Euglenoids and over 1000 species, this form of algae is one of the most abundant forms of life on the planet, and is an essential part of the food chain. Unfortunately, aquarists don’t want it in their tanks.


  • Initial Setup – Usually present shortly after an aquarium is initially setup, prior to the full establishment of the microorganisms (free-swimming plankton that feed upon it).
  • Nutrient Imbalance – Strive for the following nutrient levels: N (10-20ppm), P (0.5-2ppm), K (10-20ppm), Ca (10-30ppm), Mg (2-5ppm), Fe (.1ppm).
  • Medication – if the medicine affects the biofilter of the tank.

Cure :

There are a number of cures for green water:

  • Blackout – leave the lights out, and block out any ambient light from the tank for 5 days. Your plants have reserves that the algae does not, so they will survive, but may look a little ratty for a week or so.
  • Diatom/Micron Filterfine particle filters can clear the water.
  • UV Sterilizer – zaps the algae with ultraviolet light, clearing the water. Some reports say that UV light also affects nutrients in the water column.
  • Flocculants – Clumps small particles together, allowing your mechanical filtration to remove them from the water. i.e. AquaClear
  • DaphniaPlaced in a breeder net, the daphia will consume the algae.
  • Small Water Changes – do small (5-10%) water changes, every day until clear.


  • Avoid large water changes, as that prevents microorganisms from establishing themselves.
  • In addition to the cures, make sure to identify and eliminate the source of the problem, or it may return.

Hair/Thread Algae

Hair Algae

Hair/Thread Algae consists of long green filaments reaching as long as 30cm in length. It often mixes itself in among moss, and is sometimes grown purposely as an extra food supplement for tank inhabitants.


  • Excess iron levels – Concentrations >0.15ppm


  • Manual removal – Use toothbrush to remove as much as possible.
  • Maintain proper water change schedule – weekly / bi-weekly changes.
  • Rebalance Nutrients – Strive for the following nutrient levels: N (10-20ppm), P (0.5-2ppm), K (10-20ppm), Ca (10-30ppm), Mg (2-5ppm), Fe (.1ppm).

Staghorn (Compsopogon sp.)

Staghorn Algae

Staghorn algae is aptly named as its branching resembles the antlers of a stag’s horns. They are coarse, branching strands that commonly attach to plant leaves and equipment. The strands can appear white, grey, or green in coloration.


  • Nutrient Imbalance – Strive for the following nutrient levels: N (10-20ppm), P (0.5-2ppm), K (10-20ppm), Ca (10-30ppm), Mg (2-5ppm), Fe (.1ppm).
  • Low CO2 – Strive for 20-30ppm concentration of CO2, as permitted by fauna.


  • Manual removal – Use toothbrush to remove as much as possible.
  • Water change – Maintain weekly/bi-weekly water change schedule.
  • Increase CO2 – This will stimulate plant growth, which should help the plants out-compete the algae for resources.
  • Bleach treatment – Dip affected items/hardy plants into a bleach/water solution using a 1:20 ratio of bleach to water. Before putting them back into the tank, make sure the item is free of any bleach odor.
  • OxiClean treatment – Dip affected hardscape items in a OxiClean solution, making sure you only use the original OxiClean with no other additives.
  • Maintain proper macro (NPK) dosing scheme


  • Most fish/inverts will not eat staghorn algae.


Aquatic Plant Central Thread
Aquatic Plant Central – Algae Finder
Fighting Algae with Hydrogen Peroxide
The Skeptical Aquarist


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101 Responses to “Algae in the Planted Aquarium”

  1. Olive Nerite Snail Shots-- Guitarfish Says:

    […] Algae in the Planted Aquarium […]

  2. Breeze Says:

    Cladophora is not brought to a tank by Marimo Moss Balls, Marimo Moss Balls are Cladophora. Marimo grow in either the their ball shape or as a thick mat on the bottom of the tank.

  3. Patricia Kitto Says:

    Thanks for the excellent resource. I now have determined that I have Blue Green “Algae” and am going to take the measures you described to irradicate this annoying problem! I’m going to try the black out first and then the erythromycin if that doesn’t do it. Thanks again for a clear “causes” and “cures” format!

  4. guitarfish Says:

    Glad to help Patricia! Good luck with your BGA. Often times, particularly in planted aquariums, this can be easily remedied by dosing nitrate.

  5. Josh Chalmers Says:

    Thanks for the info. Any info is nice to base an algae offensive on. I’ve got a 75 with only a slight green spot algae problem.

  6. guitarfish Says:

    Josh, green spot is one of the easier ones to remedy. Good luck, and thanks for the comments!

  7. met0105 Says:

    Great info and a great resource!


  8. Holy G Says:

    How can I get rid of the Green Water?
    Every time I put my electric blue crayfish in a ten gallon tank, the water gets green. I am guessing is the food I feed it, but the crayfish always eat it completely so I am not sure if it is that. I feed him the green pebbles for plecos. I also feed it other stuff, but during the time it was in the ten gallon that was the food.

  9. guitarfish Says:

    Holy G, green water is covered in this article. Try cutting back on the amount of food you feed as a start.

  10. Morris Says:

    When my planted tank was running my main problem was
    a thread type algae, something like staghorn. It was
    a long thin thread with a tiny node or ‘bead’ every
    inch or so that sometimes branched. It would quickly
    spread among the stem plants. Using a small dowel rod it could be twirled and removed, but would break
    easily leaving small pieces to start again. Please
    what is it and how do I get rid of it. Thanks

  11. guitarfish Says:

    Morris, what you are describing, particularly the “thin thread with a tiny node or bead,” sounds more like Utricularia gibba to me, than algae. Check out the picture here and let me know if that’s it:


    If so, unfortunately, U. gibba commonly is a contaminant when plants come in from the whole sellers, and is a bear to remove. Manually removal with tweezers is the only way I’ve ever know to get rid of it.

  12. Morris Says:

    Thanks for the reply. It is difficult to be sure on the ID from the picture,
    it appears to have a small
    leaf or air blatter? along the stem. What I had was a pale green to
    yellowish stem with small joints
    every inch or so. Imagine ‘connect the dots’ with sewing thread. It would
    intangle around the stem
    plants, especially Rotalla and Bacopa, and spread quickly.
    Perhaps I am better off than I thought since I have recently moved and
    the plant tank was a fatality
    due to being to far down the list of things to get done while building a new
    house. I will plan to redo
    the setup, hopefully better than before.

  13. guitarfish Says:

    It sure sounds like U. gibba. If it was, those little bladders capture microorganisms to ingest, as it’s carnivorous.

  14. Rein Rüüsak Says:

    There is many times mentioned using OxiClean as remedy. As far as I know, OxiClean is effective because produces hydrogen peroxide when dissolved in water (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OxiClean). So, obviously you can achieve same result with pure hydrogen peroxide which is available from any drugshop. It’s cheap and clean if we compare with OxiClean – we don’t know what exactly is inside OxiClean.

  15. guitarfish Says:

    Rein, you’re absolutely correct. I have listed Hygrogen peroxide several times above by its compound name, H2O2. The drugstore variety (3%) of H2O2 is a great spot treatment for algae.

  16. john Says:

    i feal i may have a hidden problem an my 125 us gal. ive had every algie prob posible. tank consists of 6-t5,48in lighting 8houres day co2, 1/3 volume filteration, 1/3-1/2tank water change weakly w/ ro. ph controler kept at 7.0, temp 75deg F*, 13 bags of eco-compleet, active tds meter at60-100ppm. 2-14w uv steralizers. Ithenk that covers it, but iv had severe algie problems from day 1, about 1 year. supper bugs killed it once, in that time fore about 1 week. im moderatly to heavly plented. some fast some slow growing plants. swords, criptacorns, glosostigma, anubious, java moss, jova fern, vall’s, riccia, and a fiew other species i cant recall. Problem 1, my anubious and my glosostigma are showing yellowing and my sword is showind deterioration and i have brown hairlike algie and green haire algie. im now adding iron against by better judgement, no changes yet. can anyone help? i know im folowing a fine line or eco balance. i am lacking experience and a lot of expert knolage so be easy on me. p.s. i have 80 galixy rasbora and 10-12 japonica c and i seldom feed Hikari micro pelots. i will try to answer questions asap. 10/12/08

  17. guitarfish Says:

    John, I’m sorry to hear your algae problems. Your setup sounds very nice, but one ingredient that you haven’t mentioned is whether your fertilize with anything more than iron? If by brown algae, you mean the fuzzy black/brown algae that is very hard to remove and sticks to rocks/wood and old leaves like your anubias and swords, that’s Black Beard Algae. For that, I would recommend using a syringe (like the type you would inject liquid into a turkey), fill it with 3% Hygrogen Peroxide like you can get at the drug store, and squirt it directly on there. That will help weaken it. Only do a few patches each day. Using too much H202 could affect your shrimp. In conjunction, I suspect that your CO2 is far too low. Increase it, watching the fish to make sure it’s not too much.

    For the hair algae, if you’re not dosing any nitrates or phosphates, that’s like your issue. Any reason you’re using RO water instead of plain tap? In addition, your plants are likely missing potassium if they’re yellowing. You probably need a full dosing regimen. Read up on dosing. Here’s a good place to start:


  18. adamcarnahan Says:

    great resoursful website. I’m unsure if i have BBA or Hair algae. The algae appeared when my phosphates got super high, but Ive had them between the .1 and .2 mark for a few weeks now. Im running between 3-4 wpg and I think my nitrate levels are low and my iron is low despite dosing. I just got rid of a bunch of plants that were covered in the algae and put new ones in only to have the algae attack them too. I do run a pressurized co2 injection system and my co2 looks good not high but not low. i think im going to try some SAE. How do you inject with H2O2. (tank full or during water change; do i need to remove the plants?)

  19. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Adam. Black brush (BBA) and hair algae should be pretty easy to tell apart. BBA is black/dark brown with short tufts, which hair algae is green and longer strands/clumps.

    If you have low nitrates, that’s likely the source of your problem. Get your nitrates and phosphates in line, with Nitrates between 5-10ppm, and phosphates around 1ppm. You may want to raise your CO2 levels if your fish allow for it. SAE will eat both forms or algae, as do Amano shrimp. If need be, reduce your lighting time period to help get rid of the outbreak.

    H2O2 should only be used sparingly, and to treat specific areas with a lot of algae. Use a syringe, like one used in cooking to inject brine into a turkey. Don’t use a lot at once though, as it can hurt the slime coat of your fish, and bother inverts.

  20. kevin Says:

    yo! hows it going? i had a bad case of brown algae but thank to your advice with the snails and that it takes time. my 55g african cichlid tank is spotless of algae. the snails acctually worked alot quicker than i would have thought.

  21. guitarfish Says:

    Glad to hear it, Kevin! Those nerites are priceless. :-)

  22. PDH897T Says:


    you have a very well organized website, it helps a lot of people… I just have one question. O bought some plantas and now I have come to realize that they brought beard algae, it is black and hairy. I just have a chinese algae eater, do you think it will eat the algae or should I try and get a siamese algae eater?


    Regards from Portugal!

  23. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks PDH898T, I’m glad you’ve found the site helpful. The name “chinese algae eater” can refer to several different species, but in my experience, they will not eat beard algae. Siamese will, but so will Amano Shrimp. Good luck!

  24. steve Says:

    i have a 75 gallon saltwater tank that have black hair algae. how would i get rid of this it is growing all over the bottom of the tank

    thanks for any help

  25. guitarfish Says:

    Hi Steve. I’m sorry about your algae problem. Unfortunately, I’ve never kept a saltwater aquarium, so I don’t feel qualified offering advice on it. If anyone else see’s this, please feel free to point Steve in the right direction.

  26. complete beginner - setting up a 20g High... - Page 12 - El Natural - Aquatic Plant Central Says:

    […] complete beginner – setting up a 20g High… Guitarfish.org, posts some great information concerning algae with excellent […]

  27. Airstone(s) to help with BGA? Says:

    […] what I read here and at this link (scroll down a bit) you would definitely benefit from adding more circulation and KNO3. I can tell […]

  28. stacy Says:

    I have very dark green (almost looks black) stuff coating the edges of my plants, all over my non-live stuff, and in small circles on my glass. Do you know what this is and how I can get rid of it?

  29. guitarfish Says:

    Stacy, this likely either Blue-Green-Algae (BGA), a cyanobacteria, or Green Spot Algae (GSA). The easiest way to tell is whether or not it is slimy and you can wipe it off with your finger. If it’s slimy, wipes off, and probably has an earthy smell, it’s BGA. If it’s hard and won’t easily scrape off, it’s likely GSA. See the appropriate section above for a number of ways to get of either. Good luck!

  30. Having some algae problems have pics - MyFishTank.Net Freshwater Saltwater Aquarium Fish Forum Says:

    […] like it may be blue-green algae (not really an algae but a bacteria). Check out this link Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish to see pictures of it and other true algae. The smell of it is a dead give-away. It also shows how […]

  31. how it's done... favorite links thread - Vivarium Forums Says:

    […] Aquarium Plants PlantGeek.net – Plant Guide Plant Profiles – All Plants algae… find and cure… Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish James' Planted Tank – Algae Guide Algae in a Planted Tank Algae Common Types – The Planted Tank PG: […]

  32. Baka Says:

    I have something similar to fuzz algae only shorter, and all the leaves it covers tend to turn brown and eventually rot away. What is this?! And what can I do other than get a siamese algae eater? (which actually harrassed my cardinal tetras until they all died of stress-related ich =(…)

  33. guitarfish Says:

    Baka, without seeing it, it’s hard to tell what it is, but most of these algaes are caused by a nutrient imbalance, whether it is unbalance nitrate/phosphate levels or not enough CO2. As an algae crew, Amano shrimp are fantastic and won’t harass your cardinal tetras. Depending on the algae, Otos are also great docile algae eaters.

  34. Baka Says:

    Thanks for replying so fast! I think my nitrates and phosphates are a little high at the moment…oddly enough though, I only noticed the algae appearing when I started adding CO2. I don’t know if that’s a possible cause or just coincidence. Do you think adjusting the nitrate and phosphate levels with more fequent water changes would get rid of that algae or only prevent further growth?

  35. guitarfish Says:

    It’s not entirely surprising that algae could occur when adding CO2. With CO2, your plants are able to grow faster, consuming more nutrients, which can throw your N and P ratios out of whack. It’s counter-intuitive to the fish-only keeper, but in a planted aquarium, sometimes you need to dose more fertilizers in order to get rid of algae. And yes, frequent water changes are very important to getting rid of algae.

  36. hair algea getting worse Says:

    […] of ideas I've heard for hair / thread algae: – reduce iron levels / stop dosing iron (see here) – get rid of any 10k or blue spectrum bulbs (Walstad's book) – split photoperiod (hasn't worked […]

  37. Stevo Says:

    Hi i have a hair algea getting worse i do a 15% water change weekly ive cut the light on time down too also tried anti hair solution have u any advice plz?

  38. guitarfish Says:

    Stevo, Amano shrimp and make sure you are dosing the correct amount of fertilizers.

  39. Pop13 Says:

    thank you very much…
    great & very usefull info…

  40. Malawi Says:


    I noticed that you recomended low PH to fight brush algae. I had a Malawi tank that later became a Tropheus tank wich were covered in brush algae. I tried to fight them for a while until I opted for the “love thy enemy” solution and enjoyed how they would wave like wheat in the currents.
    My impression was that theese algaes was mainly a problem in high-PH tanks as not many plants thrive in that enviroment.

    Later I took the tank down, and when I got it running again, the algae would come back very quick. Even though all the algaes should be dead after being dry for a long time. 2-3 years ago I sat up my tank again after a couple of years where I could not use it.

    I had heard that this algae is supposed to be tropical and mainly spread trough the hobby. Therefor I opted for full bleach sterilizing of all my old equiment. I also bleached the plants when they got in. When I added fish, I would net them into a bucket with tank-water and then to the tank itself.

    I have not had any brush algae since I started this regime. -Not that it proves anything, but it may be an indication that this algae does not spread by air.
    BTW: I am now running a well-planted wahlstad tank.

  41. Help! Green water! - Caudata.org Newt and Salamander Forum Says:

    […] or medicate at this stage – try the "natural" ways first. Have a look at this website: Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish If you type in something like "green water aquarium" into Google you'll get a lot of […]

  42. donna Says:

    I’d like to move a planted driftwood piece to another tank but the tank it is coming out of has recently had black brush algae. There is none on the driftwood that I can see but can I sterilize it in a potassium permanganate dip? Will it kill any BBA? I’m hesitant to use bleach on it.

  43. guitarfish Says:

    Donna, I’ve never done this myself, but I imagine you would be able to do that. A bleach solution would work as well, but you just need to rinse the wood until the bleach smell is gone. For extra protection, you can let it dry out after dipping. For a less risky option, you can also pour several iterations of Hygrogen Peroxide over the wood. I’ve done this lots of times, and it kills the BBA, turning it reddish, then white, and then my plecos clean it off of the wood. Just rinse the wood well with water after the H2O2 treatment.

  44. Malawi Says:

    I second the HydrogenPeroxide thing. But an even easier solution may be sodium Percarbonate. -It’s often called stuff like oxi-this and oxi-that in the detergent section, is cheap and stores well.
    (But make sure that it’s without detergents – you want pure percarbonate or mixed with sodium bicarbonate.)

    Sodium Percarbonate will basically give you something like Natrium, carbonate and peroxide when added to water.
    It will raise the PH, but when it’s out of the tank that does not matter, and the peroxide will air off quickly with no ill fumes.

    I would put it in a bucket, sprinkle it with percarbonate, let it sit for 1/2 hour. After a little rinse it could be put back in tank(unless the tank is very small).

  45. Assistance needed! Habitat issue! - Caudata.org Newt and Salamander Forum Says:

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  46. Root-like algae on sword leaf. Says:

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  47. Just an idea (Algae Type Sticky)..... Says:

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  48. Algae Internet Resource Guide Says:

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  49. Algae driving me crazy.....arrrgggghhhh :angryfire Says:

    […] this __________________ "The future's uncertain, and the end is always near." Cheers!!! […]

  50. barbie Says:


    I have a 90 gallon tank that I think is a brown algae problem. It just shows up in sheets and clusters on the glass. I clean it off the glass and it comes back within hours. I have 7 fancy goldfish in the tank, no snails and no plants. Have tried plants before but they just die. The rocks and genie that I have in the tank get covered as well. Weekly, I take out the fixtures and clean them but like I said within hours it comes right back. Any suggestions?

  51. Malawi Says:

    Your brown algae problem is most likely due to poor filtration.

    Get yourself a proper external filter, rated for a 150 gal tank or more. (goldfish are more messy than most other fishes)

  52. How to get rid of this algae Says:

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  53. Algas no aquário plantado « Fórum Aquário Says:

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  54. Algas no aquário « Revista Aquário Says:

    […] Artigo original: http://www.guitarfish.org/algae […]

  55. black hair algae .....please help Says:

    […] http://www.theplantedtank.co.uk/algae.htm http://www.aquariumalgae.blogspot.com/ http://www.guitarfish.org/algae […]

  56. Malawi Says:

    Did a revisit today, and saw that you had not mentioned infusoria(really prostia) against green water.

    Infusorias are tiny organisms that live in water and feed on algae/bacteria. They are present in all healthy aquariums, especially among plants and debris.

    To use them against green water, make a small culture with some aquarium water. Make sure that some of the water is from the bottom of the tank or roots. (Myself I prefer to squeeze some java-moss into the water)

    Put some organic material into the culture. Preferably something dry that does not decompose too fast – resulting in a foul smell.
    Some dry leaves/fruit skin,dead plant parts, saw-dust, dry grass or even fish-food or a small piece of bread etc. (the latter two are more prone to start smelling.)

    The water should soon become white. This is due to the bacterias feasting on the decaying matter. The bacterias will act as food for the infusorias, which will make the water go clear again.

    When the cultured water has gone more or less clear, add it to the green water. The infusorias should eat away the green water much the same way as the daphnias would. (without the hassle of containing the daphnias.)

    -Refill the culture container with tank water in case you need to repeat.

  57. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the info on infusoria, Malawi!

  58. ID algae please? Says:

    […] Jase, It looks like BBA (Black Bearded Algae) to me. I thought that this resource might be helpful in terms of identification, likely causes, and treatment – generally speaking something is out of balance in the tank:http://www.guitarfish.org/algae […]

  59. Nomad Says:

    GuitarFish, Great website and useful information. I am trying to battle a BBA problem in my 150Lt (39 US Gal) planted tank with little progress to date. I am running a Aqua One CF1000 external filter, 2 x T5 39W globes (2 WPG) running for 12 hours per day, CO2 injection x 30 bubbles per minute into 1 Glass Diffuser running for 9 hours per day (comes on 2 hours before lights on and 1 hour before lights out), and heavily planted with Crypts, large swords, and Anubis along with a few adult bristlenoses (recently had 60 odd babies that I sold back to lfs so environment must be good)and some old neon tetras and Cory. I have cut back the plants to remove as much Algae as I can, adjusted the lights and CO2 timings as above (previously on for 4 off for 2 and on for 4) and cleaned the filter to improve on Flow rates into the tank (currently only doing ~500lt per hr and looking at flow rates and a better diffuser). The tank has also been setup for over 12 months and always change water one week and clean the filter the next (never together) and have not lost any fish fish for a long time.

    I used to dose Excel but found the more I dose the more Algae would grow so stopped for the time being. Also turned off the lights and CO2 and blanked out my tank for 7 days which killed off most but now it looks like it is spreading through the tank. I do have a fair bit of hollow logs in the tank that the bristlenoses love and to date the CO2 levels seem ok with PH around 6.8 and KH 4-8 in my drop checker.

    I am thinking low flow rates, better CO2 diffusion, and maybe increasing lighting WPG, but not dosing might be the main problem. I have just started using Aqua One Plant Food at 15ml per week which suppose to provide a mix of nutrients, enzymes, and trace elements so see how that goes.

    Can you see any obvious errors in my setup or maintenance of the tank that is causing my BBA. I would like to introduce new plants etc but want to solve this issue first…

    Any advice most welcome..

    Regards Steve

  60. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the comment Steve! It sounds like a very nice planted aquarium that you have there. For the plants that you’re growing, you could try cutting back the hours that your lights are on to just 8 hours as a start. If your fish will tolerate it, try upping your CO2 rates slightly. Since all of your plants are rooted, you may be able to get away with dosing using root tabs, rather than liquid fertilizers, which should further limit the amount of nutrients in the water column. BBA usually will not go away by itself, so the extra prodding you can do using Excel or H2O2 on your driftwood the faster this is go. Good luck!

  61. Chels Says:

    Thank you for the help but I am still lost. I have thin longish algae growing on the front of my tank but there’s no sign of this particular algae else where. The algae is thinner than hair and appeared while I was at school. It can’t be seen until you look closely and none of the pictures above match it.
    I think it could have been introduced two weeks from my latest import of fish. I have guppies and I’ve noticed how much they love the algae that grows on the rocks so I’ve never considered it a problem but they’re not interested in this algae. It’s vibrant green. If you have any idea of what this could be any help would be appreciated. Is this algae damaging? (It’s beautiful and fits in with my theme.)
    Thank you.

  62. guitarfish Says:

    Chels, does your algae look like this?


    If so, you might have the dreaded spirogyna algae. It can be rather difficult to get rid of, but I’ve done it by cutting the light levels in half, stop dosing ferts, do regular H2O2 treatments, and more frequent water changes. Adding Amano shrimp can help speed the process.

  63. Anyone else have an aquarium? - Page 90 - Grasscity.com Forums Says:

    […] through I decided to fuck it, hey i know! but its late haha, and provide you all with this link. Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish It explains and describes each type of algae, what might be the cause of it, and what you can do […]

  64. Brandon Says:

    hi. I have had a african cichlid setup for close to a year now. never really have algae problems and change 20% water weekly. past couple of months I have had a growth on everything in my tank. It looks like tiny tiny clear/whiteish individual hairs with a head at the end that u can really only see when looking at rocks/ plants at an angle. The best thing I can think to compare its looks is if u have seen THC crystals under a microscope. Like tiny tiny clear mushrooms. I have a 55 g. with 2 hang on filters. a power head with an attached filter and a uv sterilizer. this stuff will grow back in just a couple of days after manual removal and doesnt really grow in clusters. just everywhere. my water is always crystal clear. doesnt look like clumps a fuzzy fungus from old food especially since they consume every peice of food. any help would be great.

  65. Brandon Says:

    my fish are healthy and appear to not be affected at all. I have an algae eater and he doesnt seem to eat it or be harmed by it while grazing over it. I just put a few drops of tetra algae control into a 5 g. nusery tank I have with 2 month old cichlids that has the same growth, to see if that works. Didnt want to resort to chemicals. But this stuff just keeps coming back in just a few days. Try it on them b 4 puting in my show tank So hopefully you guys can give some direct advice cause no one at the lfs seem to know.

  66. Malawi Says:

    Could it be Hydra? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydra_(genus)

    If so you are seriously overfeeding.:-)

  67. Brandon Says:

    ok just looked up hydra. definately not that. Like I said it has a round top on the end like a mushroom. very very short. have to look at it at an angle just to see it on anything it is single stemed no branching. slimy too. whenever I am cleaning it off it puts off a foul odor.. I am trying to get someone over with a good cam to take pics so I hope I can upload it here ok

  68. Brandon Says:

    it kind of looks like that diatoms pic above but i never notice a brown color to it. always is a clear/whiteish and stays very very short

  69. Brandon Says:

    could it be a silica problem? I do a lot of water changes with tap water that I treat. I also use API freshwater salt 1 tbsp per 5 gal. I hear salt can contain excess silica as well as tap water. I will try to only use RO water, but I dont want to stop salt. Does anyone know of a freshwater salt low in silica?

  70. guitarfish Says:

    Brandon, I really don’t have any idea without seeing a picture. If you’re able to get a picture of it, feel free to post back a link to the image here.

  71. Chels Says:

    guitarfish Thank you. It likes kind of like that but different. I lost one guppy. I moved all my fish into two smaller tanks, put my main tank under my bed (dark)and completely changed the water, leaving most rocks how they were (cycled tank) and refilled the tank, now the only algae I have is the algae that my gups love. Thank you, my internet has been playing up so this s the first time I have had access to my emails otherwise I would have replied sooner.
    Thank you,

  72. Help with brown algae!! Says:

    […] the tank look dirty not algae ridden.. Okay, so I was reading this link about brown algae: http://www.guitarfish.org/algae I'm guessing that as this issue is linked to the tank being relatively new and a likely excess in […]

  73. Anonymous Says:

    […] un ciclado y si es un tipo de alga Enrique, aqui puede leer mas sobre sus causas y como eliminarla: Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish No es lo que haces… es como lo haces… Una Decada Despues: Inicio 50 Galones Encuentrame […]

  74. Algas no aquário plantado « InfoAqua.net Says:

    […] Artigo original: http://www.guitarfish.org/algae […]

  75. Quinn Says:

    I would first like to exclaim that absolutely love this website… That being said, I am planning on upgrading my tank to a completely planted tank, as I currently have a few live plants and some artificial ones. I plan on keeping the live plants that I already have and adding more. I also see that the Marimo ball is in the same family as the hard to conquer algae, (Someone commented that it actually is the algae itself) but regardless, would you recommend keeping the Marimo ball if I plan on going through with a balls-to-the-wall 100% badass planted fishtank?

  76. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for you comment, Quinn. I don’t keep Marimo balls myself because I’ve never found them particularly attractive from an aquascaping standpoint, but I believe they are a different species of Cladophora than the type of Cladophora that’s generally considered hard to kill. If you like Marimo balls, and don’t see them causing issues in your current setup, I don’t see them introducing problems in a fully planted tank.

  77. 2nd day of dosing and uh oh!!! Says:

    […] in the BB have happened such as after medication. Here is some great info and how to solve it. http://www.guitarfish.org/algae#greenwater __________________ Sun Sun pimp […]

  78. tushar Says:

    i have green water algae in my tank..plzz help

  79. guitarfish Says:

    There are quite a few suggestions in the article for how to cure green water. Have you exhausted those already, tushar?

  80. john Says:

    i did experience the BBA or the fuzz and the green spot i totally wrecked my lustful panted aqua..i do the florish excel but but not really works..lastly i dose it with anti biotic capsules some said it can terminate those BBa..but all my plants started to die all the leaves turns into yellow all becomes rotten..

    so wht i did is to replace my old water and replant with new plants..

    amazing now my plats pretty good ..i stop dosing the nutrafin plant gro..what i use is banana peel i inserted under the gravels…and i put 3 sucker fish some said sucker fish devour plants but i just do experimental if true or false..im happy the sucker fish they dont destroy any plants

  81. Algas no aquário | Aquarismo.info Says:

    […] Artigo original: http://www.guitarfish.org/algae […]

  82. Algas no aquário « InfoAqua.net Says:

    […] Artigo original: http://www.guitarfish.org/algae […]

  83. ADA 120P Iwagumi Journal Says:

    […] It's growing only on the hardscape (pretty much all stones) and only where light hits. Referencing Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish, it looks like it may be Cyanobacteria. I've had an earthy smell since I setup the tank which is […]

  84. What's causing this algae Says:

    […] shift Think its worth turning down how much my system does? I'm doing the ppm pro system As per Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish, need to adjust ppm pro levels, I believe those are aimed at keeping constant levels of nutrients, […]

  85. Mike bradica Says:

    Hey guitarfish! My tank is heavily planted and my water parameters are excellent. Now , during a trip to rio Brazil I brought back some plants indegnious to Brazil for my aquarium now I have a severe algae outbreak. The color isint anything I’ve seen here. Bluish to purple color. I’ve tried doing research but no luck can u help?

  86. Malawi Says:

    There are some weird algae out there.

    Have seen pictures of purple algae and bluish algae in freshwater aquariums.

    Most likely it’s red/brush-algae – Put a sample in a glass and pour boiling water over it. What colour does it have now?

    It could also be cyano-bacterias, but thats not likely in established tank. Still, low waterflow might favour them.

    It’s impossible to tell without a picture or a more(very) detailed description of the algae and more about the water-parameters and water-flow.

    Since you have not seen this kind of algae before, It’s probably best to add a link to a picture of the actual algae.

  87. mark Says:

    i have developed a black looking algie on the leaves of plants and on rocks what is your ideal of removel . thanks

  88. guitarfish Says:

    Mark, you likely have the start of BBA. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to get off of the leaves that have it, so you will likely need to remove those leaves and get your water parameters balanced again. A large water change is a good first step, followed by revisiting your fertilization scheme. Also, make sure you’re removing excessive organics by siphoning detritus from the tank, and adding carbon or something like OrganitR or Purigen to your filter.

  89. Malawi Says:

    I have used Hydrogen-peroxide with good results. It’s very important to not overdose, and rather repeat smaller treatments.

    It’s especially good with fresh outbreaks, where you use a syringe to put it directly at the affected areas.

    BTW: We are talking about 3% Hydrogen peroxide. If I remember correctly, 10 ml per 100L should be safe.

  90. black brush or black hair algae. - APE - Aquatic Plant Enthusiasts | A Planted Aquarium Community Says:

    […] black hair algae. Ive started to get a little bit of this, and looked at this site for tips Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish it mentions using amano shrimp as they eat this type of algae.. I have 22 amano's and it doesn't […]

  91. Crazy long green algae in new setup: is there a thread for this already? Says:

    […] If it is thread algae it is due to having to high Iron levels. Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish […]

  92. Algas no aquário - Aquarismo.net Says:

    […] Artigo original: http://www.guitarfish.org/algae […]

  93. In need of some more algae help :( - The Planted Tank Forum Says:

    […] Chicago Area Posts: 108 give more details, but in meantime, maybe this can help. Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish Freshwater Algae Types: An Illustrated Guide – Article at The Age of Aquariums – Tropical Fish […]

  94. What kind of Algae? - The Planted Tank Forum Says:

    […] listed in this thread worked on that one time it got away form me and got out of control. Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish But it's a good practice to remedy the cause before you fix the symptom or it will just come back. […]

  95. My Battle With Algae - The Planted Tank Forum Says:

    […] type of algae BGA is common in start up tanks/w little or poor amount of growing plants in it. Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish But cure the cause as well as the symptom or it will come back. The shortest distance […]

  96. Staghorn Questions - The Planted Tank Forum Says:

    […] of your whole tank would help in a couple of arias. Dry dosing and Nutrient Solution Recipes Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish You should get a timer and let the CO2 come on one hr before the light comes on and back off one hr […]

  97. 38 Gallon Low-Tech...All Sorts Of Problems... - The Planted Tank Forum Says:

    […] PTrader: (6/100%) Join Date: Dec 2012 Location: Hot Springs Ar. 71901 Posts: 5,391 Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish There is a med listed in there for the BGA. Use only as suggested. You will want to do a large […]

  98. 38 Gallon Low-Tech...All Sorts Of Problems... - The Planted Tank Forum Says:

    […] PTrader: (6/100%) Join Date: Dec 2012 Location: Hot Springs Ar. 71901 Posts: 5,398 Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish There is a med listed in there for the BGA. Use only as suggested. You will want to do a large […]

  99. 38 Gallon Low-Tech...All Sorts Of Problems... - The Planted Tank Forum Says:

    […] PTrader: (6/100%) Join Date: Dec 2012 Location: Hot Springs Ar. 71901 Posts: 5,406 Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish There is a med listed in there for the BGA. Use only as suggested. You will want to do a large […]

  100. how to fight this algae - The Planted Tank Forum Says:

    […] 5,563 If you can't get a closer/clearer picture then you can look on here to identify it. Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish I would first check the description given in "Cladophora" algae. Their picture is not a […]

  101. BBS maybe..Mm more plants? - The Planted Tank Forum Says:

    […] of light". Each kind of algae has it's own directions for fixing it so identify it first. Algae in the Planted Aquarium– Guitarfish The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line…in the opposite […]

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