How To Prevent Algae In Your Fish Tank: Tips To Control, Avoid & Prevent 10 Types Of Aquarium Algae

I think we can all agree algae is a serious pain.

Well, it turns out you can easily reduce, prevent, and control algae growth in your aquariums by following a few simple tips.

In this article, you’ll learn how to prevent algae in your fish tank. We’ll share with you a few tips for keeping algae growth down and your water clean and healthy. We’ll show you 12 algae-eating fish, how live plants can prevent green algae, and why using less fish food are just a few of the ways you can avoid, control, and most importantly prevent algae in your fish tank.

Let’s begin;


Essentials To Help Prevent Algae

What Causes Excessive Algae Growth In A Fish Tank?

If you have an algae problem or you’re just trying to slow algae growth, you should understand what causes algae to grow and flourish.

  • Photoperiod too long (Too much light)
  • A recent change in lighting source, fluorescent, LED, or Other.
  • Not enough water changes. Don’t be lazy.
  • Too much NPK, Nitrates, Phosphates, Potassium.
  • Un-balanced aquarium. Light, CO2, Nutrients

Algae is a concern for all freshwater aquarium owners, so how do you control it? To learn the best ways for controlling algae in your freshwater aquarium, we have summarized some of the main points from the video and added some of our own.

But before that, you need to understand the different types of algae your ‘e up against.

10 Types Of Aquarium Algae Commonly Found In Aquariums [Video]

This is an excellent video from Glen Hawkins (GuppyGuy) about the ten most common forms of fish tank algae in your aquarium.

It’s pretty long, and it is not narrated, however, it’s a great video with A Lot of information, like what causes algae in aquariums and how to get rid of aquarium algae.

I also love the creepy music he used as the soundtrack. I’ve always thought of algae as scary myself.

Algae is one thing we all battle in our planted tanks….Let’s take back our tanks and not let a little algae take over. -Glen Hawkins-

Here is a list of the ten types of algae-covered in this video and the corresponding time in the video it appears. Use this to jump right to the algae type you are having problems with.

  1. BBA or Black Beard Algae @0:35
  2. BGA or Blue Green Algae Or Green Algae @1:52
  3. Cladophora or Blanket Weed @3:10
  4. Brown Algae or Diatoms @3:50 If you’re stuck with Brown Algae, check out our guide that shows you how to prevent, remove, and get rid of Brown Algae for good.
  5. GDA or Green Dust Algae @4:35
  6. GSA or Green Spot Algae @5:20
  7. Green Water @6:00
  8. Hair or Thread Algae @7:10
  9. Rhizoclonium Algae @7:55
  10. Staghorn Algae @8:35

Dealing With Aquarium Algae When You Have It

Here is an excellent article from that explains in detail how to deal with algae, why you get it, and the common types you’ll encounter.

Lastly, they share about six great tips to avoid algae overgrowth in your aquarium.

I highly recommend this article if you need some help dealing with an algae problem.

Preventing Aquarium Algae: How Do You Stop Algae From Growing In A Fish Tank?

To ensure algae is kept to a minimum in your tank, here are six tips on how to stop algae in fish tanks and a few preventative maintenance tricks you should work into your routine.

How To Kill Algae In Fish Tank

1. Control Your Lighting To Prevent Algae

  • Control your lighting hours (Photoperiod) If you don’t have live plants, 4-6 hours of light per day should be enough. If you do have plants 6-10 depending on the type of plants and lighting you use.
  • Ensure you change your fluorescent bulbs every year.
  • Tank location, don’t expose to excessive sunlight

Note: A good way to ensure you control your light hours is to use a timer. Like this one from Marineland it’s an LED light with a timer. With a timer you can control the length of your “Photo Period” or how long your lights are on

2. Proper Tank Maintenance:

  • Complete weekly water changes 10% every week. Check out our article on how to do a water change the easy way.
  • Test your water & understand what’s in your water.
  • Weekly glass cleaning with a magnetic cleaner.
  • Filter media, rinse out mechanical media.
  • Check filter operation, ensure output and water flow is normal.
  • Reduce phosphate levels with regular water changes or use filter media like Seachem Prime

3. Feeding:

  • Do not overfeed. Feed only an amount that can be consumed in a few minutes. Excess food will break down and provide nutrients for the algae.

4. Keep Live Plants:

  • The best way to prevent algae growth in your tank is to have lots of fast-growing plants.
  • Plants help remove algae macronutrients like nitrate from your tank. You could also use Seachem Prime if you need immediate help.
  • Start with cheap plants and stock your aquarium full; the more plants, the more excess nutrients are being consumed by the plants. Once established, you can remove the cheap plants and use some great looking plants like.
  • If your plant growth is thick, try thinning it out a bit. Algae grow better in dense plants
  • Provide accessible nutrients for your live plants to consume. Try using Fluval supplements or other brands.

If you are new to keeping live plants, here are 6 of the easiest to care for, fast-growing and best Aquarium Plants to prevent algae you can start with.

1. Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis)

Planterest – Water Wisteria Hygrophila Difformis Bunch Live Aquarium Plant Decorations BUY2GET1FREE
Get Some Water Wisteria

2. Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)

1 Hornwort Bunch - 5+ Stems | Ceratophyllum Demersum - Beginner Tropical Live Aquarium Plant
Get Some Hornwort

3. Red Ludwigia

Aquatic Arts Dark Red Ludwigia - 2 Bunches - Large Live Aquarium Plant
Get Some Red Ludwigia

4. Moneywort (Bacopa monnieri)

Aquatic Arts Moneywort - 2 Bunches - Live Aquarium Plants
Get Some Moneywort

5. Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides)

3 Water Sprite (Ceratopteris Thalictroides) Live Aquarium Stem Plant by G&Z
Get Some Water Sprite

6. Green Cabomba 

Aquatic Arts Green Cabomba - 2 Bunches – Live Aquarium Plant
Get Some Green Cabomba
Algae control in aquariums

Note: You can super charge the plant growth in your tank using a fluval co2 kit. The unit hangs on back of your aquarium and also has an algae diffuser.

Algae Eaters: Get Some Algae-Eating Fish!

Some Fish species can be used to control algae. Below we have listed 12 of the best algae eating fish breeds;

Algae-Eating Fish

1. Siamese Algae Eaters

2. Otocinclus Catfish

3. Molly Fish

4. Guppies

5. Endlers Livebearers

6. American Flagfish

7. African Cichlids (Neolamprologus Multifasciatus)

Small Snails That Eat Algae

8. Nerite Snails

9. Trumpet Snails

Shrimp That Eat Algae

10. Cherry Shrimp

11. Amano Shrimp

12. Bamboo Shrimp

Algae can quickly become a nuisance in your aquarium, but there are fish that can help you keep it under control. Discover the top algae-eating fish for your tank in our comprehensive guide. Add these natural cleaners to your aquatic ecosystem and enjoy a cleaner, more balanced environment for your underwater pets.

Video: The Clean Up Crew!

This video from NOAH shares their perspective on how to control algae in the fish aquarium along with their personal favorites for a cleanup crew.

Here are algae killers that will help.

  • Amano Shrimp- and other shrimp will also work.
  • MTS- Malaysian Trumpet Snail
  • Oto Catfish
  • Nerite/ Zebra snail
  • Red Ramshorn snail
  • SAE- Siamese Algae Eater
  • Hillstream Loach(es)

These fish are helpful and a natural way to keep your water, rocks and plant leaves clean. Many of them will eat left over (bad) fish food that will slowly foul your water.

Equipment That Will Help Prevent & Control Algae

Fluval CO2 Supply

The best way to prevent algae growth in your tank is by having lots of live plants, and by providing CO2 directly into your tank it will ensure fast and healthy growth.

Fluval C02 Supply allows you to efficiently dissolve CO2 into your aquarium water to ensure that your plants get the most crucial nutrient available (CO2) to maximize growing conditions.

Fluval Mini Pressurized 20g-CO2 Kit - 0.7 ounces
Try The Fluval Mini Pressurized CO2 Kit

Led Light with Timer

Providing the right amount of light is critical in the battle against algae. Not enough light, and you could starve the live plants that will help fight algae. Too much light and your tank could become an algae producing factory.

With a timer, you can control the length of your “Photo Period” or how long your lights are on. If you don’t have a planted aquarium, 4-6 hours of light per day should be enough if you do have live plants 6-10 depending on what you’re keeping.

Marineland Aquatic Plant LED Light with Timer, 24- to 36-Inch
Try The Marineland Aquatic Plant LED Light

Magnetic Glass Cleaner

One of the easiest ways to prevent the growth of algae is to clean your glass weekly. A magnetic glass cleaner makes this super easy.

Because they are magnets, you can clean the inside of your glass/tank without getting wet. You can leave it in your tank along the back or side for easy storage.

If the magnet comes apart, then the piece in the tank floats right up to the surface so you can just grab it.

Gulfstream Tropical AGU030SM Mag-Float Glass Aquarium Cleaner, Small
Try The Gulfstream Tropical Mag-Float Glass Cleaner

Filters & Filter Media

Fluval 407 Perfomance Canister Filter, Black

Another easy way to keep algae growth to a minimum is to ensure you are using a good filter that can provide you with all three stages of filtration (mechanical, chemical & biological).

Get The Fluval 407 Canister Filter

Plant Supplements & Nutrients

If you have a planted tank one of the ways to ensure your getting enough nutrients is by using the CO2 systems noted above. However, a cheaper way to also help your plants stay healthy is to use a plant supplement like Seachem Flourish Excel.

All growing plants need a source of carbon and flourish excel provides bioavailable organic carbon.

Seachem Flourish 500ml
Seachem Flourish 500ml

Water Conditioners

Water conditioners are a cheap way to keep the water condition in your aquarium clean. Seachem Prime, as an example, removes many harmful chemicals that can encourage algae growth.

Are you looking for the best water conditioner for your aquarium? Our Best Water Conditioner for Aquariums: Seachem Prime Review covers everything you need to know about this top-rated product. Click now and find out how Seachem Prime can make a difference in your aquatic environment.

It’s super easy to use; you just add the recommended amount to your tank during each water change each week.

Seachem Prime 500ml
Seachem Prime 500ml

If you can implement most of the tips above and start to use some of the equipment in your weekly routine, you should see a noticeable decline in algae growth.

Ammonia can be harmful to your fish, and it’s essential to use the right products to neutralize it. Find out if Seachem Prime removes ammonia and if it’s the right choice for your aquarium. Click here to get the answers you need and keep your fish safe.


Is Algae Bad For Fish?

In your aquariums, Algae isn’t always a bad thing. Some algae are used as a food source for many different types of fish in your tank. However, if you let Algae get out of control and it overtakes your aquarium to the point of suffocating the fish and plants, it can have a negative impact.

What Is “Brown Algae” (Diatoms)

Brown algae are not algae at all, it’s actually, microscopic brownish or greenish creatures with glassy skeletons.

Whatever it is? It’s ugly, and this is how you get rid of it.

I hope you were able to find some useful tips and tricks that will help you control your algae problems and clean up your aquarium.

Just be sure you take action on what you learned.

Algae is one of the biggest issues facing aquarists so, please bookmark this page for future reference and be sure to help other fish keepers by sharing this article on your favorite social media platforms.

Further Reading:

How to Control Algae In A Fish Tank 10 Types Of Aquarium Algae

Jack Dempsey
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