Planted aquariums are not just a past-time for many, it is an integral part of their lifestyle. Instead of identifying themselves as aquarium owners these people can have the pride of calling themselves ecosystem managers. A planted aquarium is an ecosystem with plants, animals, rocks, wood, and the dreaded microbes. In a wet ecosystem, algae and bacteria are bound to happen and it is not something to be panicking about. With the right knowledge and care, algae would actually be good for the aquarium as they consume excess food and produce oxygen in the water. But a major problem with algae infestation is that as it increases in density, the ambience and aesthetics of the ecosystem is damaged.
Here, I am going to discuss about some common algae found in planted aquariums and how to control algae to keep a well-balanced aquarium.
First, let us define what algae is. As most of us have earned in school, algae is a simple structured aquatic plant. They have a large assemblage, are non-flowering and lacks Vascular tissue, leaves, stems or roots.
They spread through division and can come into your aquarium on the backs of your plants, fish or any accessories you place inside, especially wood. They even have the capacity to survive the digestive systems of fish. Now, some aquarium owners sterilise everything and wait till the fish is well cleaned out before introducing them to the ecosystem, but it is a lengthy process that can actually destroy the quality of the plants.
Algae growth is encouraged by certain factors in the aquarium atmosphere, Excess lighting, direct sunlight, overfeeding, overstocking, insufficient nutrient control and irregular water circulation or water changes promote the growth of algae. Another way to control algae is by knowing what eats algae.
The Black-Brush algae thrive when there is not enough water circulation with low or fluctuating CO2 levels. They form clumps or patches of black tufts on plants, wood or other accessories in the aquarium. It can be manually cleaned out by scrubbing with a toothbrush and removing affected leaves. Stocking the tank with Siamese Algae Eater is an effective way to control BBA growth.
A type of aquarium algae that can cause nuisance is the Hair, Thread, Fuzz,etc. These spread due to low nutrient levels, ammonia spikes and low carbon dioxide levels. Manually scrubbing and twisting around with a toothbrush removes them while stocking the aquarium with Amano shrimps, Rosy Barbs and Mollies will help reduce their growth. Amano shrimps are especially known for their cleaning properties. Overdosing with bioavailable carbons such as Flourish Excel or EasyCarbo helps remove the algae but sometimes can hurt other life in the aquarium. A good supply of nutrients and CO2 goes a long way in preventing them.
Diatoms and Brown algae causes brown patches on the glass, plants and other substrates.
They flourish when there is an excess of silicates and ammonia, especially in newly set up tanks. Vacuum out or wipe the surfaces to remove them manually. These usually disappear as the tank matures.
Cladophora and Blanket weedare branching, green filamentous algae that sometimes acquire a rough, gritty texture.
They grow when there is low nutrient and CO2 levels in the water. Manually pulling them out until they are gone is effective to stop them. Using algae eaters such as Amano shrimps or aquarium snails sometimes help reduce their growth. Overdosing with Flourish Excel, EasyCarbo or TNC Carbon, maintaining good water circulation and supply of nutrients goes a long way in reducing their impact.
Green Spot algae can be scraped off the glass with Fish tank Algae razor scrapperor magnetic glass scrapers. These grow as hard green circular spots on the glass when there is a dearth of phosphate and CO2. Irregular and insufficient water circulation and too long lighting periods also help them flourish. Ensure to maintain lighting periods between 9 to 10 hours, which is ideal for the plants. Maintain good water circulation and increase phosphate levels if you notice these algae in your planted aquarium.
Blue-Green algae covers everything in a blue-green slimy mat, commonly in the substrate along the front glass of the tank. They interfere with the aesthetics and beauty of the tank and flourish when there is a lack of nitrate and excess of ammonia, especially in new tanks. Dirty substrates/filters and uneven water circulation also enhance their spread. Clean out as much as manually possible and ensure the substrate and filters are not too clogged up with mulch. Do a 30 to 50 percent water change and keep Potassium Nitrate levels at 20ppm. Replace C2 by an airstone, turn off lights and cover the whole tank so no light can enter for 3 to 4 days.Treat with Maracyn/ Erythromycin to cleanse the tank for short term reliefs.
Staghorn algae grows in strands that branch out like deer antlers with grey/green colour. A good CO2 level with adequate water circulation should keep them out. Water changes in regular intervals is a necessary step and clean dirty substrates and filters while you are at it for an algae free environment
Algae eaters are a good addition to your ecosystem to keep your tank clean. A variety of fish species eat algae. For example, Juvenile Sulawesi rabbit snail, siamese algae eater, nerite snails, aquatic shrimps are excellent at cleaning out algae. Similarly, shrimps such as the Cherry shrimp are great fish tank cleaners. They do not eat plants and so there is no worry about the deco of the tank being denigrated.
FreshwFresh water Aquarium Snails are a great but often neglected addition to the planted aquarium. Snails consume most algae and have a special taste for green and hair algae. They are known as a cleaning crew & fish tank cleaner as they consume anything edible in their path including dead carcass, plant bits, and leftover food. They are also very fond of burrowing and help in loosening up the substrate, preventing anaerobic spots. Despite the ugly outlook snails have, they can be fascinating to watch. Aquarium snails also have beautiful colours and patterns as well as unique shell shapes. Freshwater Nerite snails are especially good to have in a planted aquarium.
These snails refrain from consuming plants and do not reproduce, which is a major concern with snails. Nerite snail is usually known as the best algae eater in a planted aquarium. Neritina Violacea, as it is scientifically known, generally occurs in river mouths and brackish waters. It is a native of Orissa and Ganges delta. Nerite snails clean the tank walls spotless and even consume algae off of leaves and rocks. The most common freshwater nerite snails for sale are Zebra Nerite, Tiger Nerite, Olive, Nerite, Black Racer Nerite and Horned Nerite Snail. Care for them is very minimal and likes tropical temperature conditions of 72-78 degree Farenheits.
Comments will be approved before showing up.