How to get rid of black beard algae (BBA)

2 min read

BBA is one of the most problematic algae that people run into because not many things eat it. As per its name, it grows in very thick, bushy clumps that are usually black or grey in color (but sometimes reddish or brownish). This algae likes to grow on driftwood, aquarium decor, and plants, and if left unchecked, it can completely engulf an aquarium in one to two years. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of different things that can contribute the growth of BBA, so there’s no one simple way to treat it.

If you don’t like the look of the algae, you can try adding Siamese algae eaters, Florida flagfish, or amano shrimp (although the shrimp take a long time to eat it unless you have an army of them). Some people turn to chemical treatments, such as using liquid carbon to directly spray on the BBA for tough cases or to dose the entire aquarium’s water column for mild cases. Just be careful because certain plants like vallisneria are sensitive to liquid carbon.

Another chemical treatment is to spray the BBA-infested plant or decor with 3% hydrogen peroxide (purchased from your local drugstore) outside of water, let it sit for 5 minutes, rinse off the chemical, and put the item back in the aquarium. The dying algae turns red or clear, and animals may eat it in its weakened state. Just remember that there are no quick fixes – BBA can take six to eight months to get established, so expect it to take at least that long to get rid of.

For more information, read our full article on how to fight algae in your fish tank.