Bonus: Learn how to keep algae out of a fish tank by downloading our aquarium maintence tool guide. Click here and get the guide: 9 Essential Tools For Cleaning Your Aquarium.

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 aquarium by following a few simple tips.

In this post we will show you 6 Of The Best Ways To Control Algae In A Fish Tank!

But before we go over each step, here are a few videos you can watch now, that explain some basics about algae growth and prevention.

This video from Fluval has some great tips to prevent algae growth in your aquarium.

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

Video: How To Prevent Algae In Your Aquarium

So What Causes Algae To Grow In Your Tank?

  • Photo period too long (Too much light)
  • 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 concern for all freshwater aquarium owners, so how do you control it? Here is another great how-to video from About.com to learn the best ways for controlling algae in your freshwater aquarium.

After you watch the video read below where we have summarized some of the main points from the video and added some of our own.

Video: Freshwater Aquarium Algae Control Tips

To ensure algae is kept to a minimum in your tank here are 6 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:

  • Control your lighting hours (Photo period) If you don’t have live plants 4-6 hours of light per day should be enough. If you do have plant 6-10 depending on they 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 over feed. 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 macro nutrients like nitrate from your tank. You could also use Seachem Prime if you need immediate help.
  • Start off 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 grows better in thick plants
  • Provide easy nutrients for your live plants to consume. Try using Fluval supplements or other brand.

If you are new to keeping live plants here are 6 of the easiest to care for, fast growing plants that you can start with.

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.

5. Keep some Algae Eating Fish:

Some Fish species can be used to control algae. Below we have listed 6 of the best algae eating fish breeds.

  • Pleco
  • Sucker mouth catfish.
  • Most live bearers, mollies, swordtail, platties, guppies
  • The flying fox is popular
  • Snails

How To Control Algae In Fish Tank

Video: The Clean Up Crew 

This video from ADU Aquascaping shares their perspective on how to control algae in fish tank along with their personal favorites for a clean up crew in a planted aquarium, but really these guys can be used in any aquarium, here they are:

  • 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)

Equipment shown or discussed in this article:

Fluval Mini Pressurized 20g-CO2 Kit - 0.7 ounces
List Price:$27.93
Price:$24.99
You Save:$2.94
Price Disclaimer

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 your plants grow fast and healthy.

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

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 live plants 4-6 hours of light per day should be enough. If you do have live plants 6-10 depending on they type of plants and lighting.

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.

Filters & Filter Media

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).

Fluval 306 Aquarium Canister Pro Kit
List Price:$169.95
Price:$169.95
Price Disclaimer
Seachem Flourish 500ml
List Price:$16.72
Price:$12.28
You Save:$4.44
Price Disclaimer

Plant Supplements & Nutrients

If you have a planted tank one of the ways to ensure you plants are 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 provides a bioavailable organic carbon.

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.

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

Seachem Prime 500ml
List Price:$12.04
Price:$12.04
Price Disclaimer

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.

Conclusion: How to control algae in fish tank? prevention is key, so don’t get lazy.