Algae Reference Guide

Algae is a common nusiance that most aquarium hobbyist face at one point or another. The main cause of all algae is the inbalance between light, co2, nutrients. The first step to correcting algae problems is to correctly identify which type you have. Use our chart at the bottom of this page to figure out which algae you may have.

Algae is a common nusiance that most aquarium hobbyist face at one point or another. The main cause of all algae is the inbalance between light, co2, nutrients. The first step to correcting algae problems is to correctly identify which type you have. Use our chart below to figure out which algae you may have.


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Algae Chart

Use our chart below for identifying algae types.

BROWN DIATOMS

Looks like:
light brown dusting on plants, hardscape, and glass.

Causes:
- High silicates and high phosphate levels
- New tank
- Major water change

Treatment:
- Normally will go away on it's own.
- Ottos, Siamese Algae Eaters, and Shrimp will eat this.

BLUE GREEN ALGAE (BGA)

Looks like:
Vibrant green slime, smells as bad as it looks. Technically, not an algae but rather a cyanobacteria.

Causes:
- Low amounts of nitrates (NO₃)
- Insufficient flow
- Contamination from other tanks

Treatment:
- Erythromycin (antibiotic)
- Manual removal and blackouts

Green Hair Algae (thread-hair)

Looks like:
Long hair-like algae. Usually attaches to plants.

Causes:
- Low CO2 levels
- Ammonia Spikes (excessive decomposing)
- Low nitrates (NO₃)
- Excessive light

Treatment:
- Manual removal, toothbrushes work great
- Increasing frequency of water changes
- Amano shrimp are known to feed on GHA

Green Hair Algae (short-hair)

Looks like:
Short hair-like algae, can look like peach fuzz at times. Often grows on leaves and is straight rather than curly. Can be confused with Oedogonium algae (below)

Causes:
- Same as threadhair algae (above)
- Insufficient flow

Treatment:
- Triming of affected leaves
- Increasing frequency of water changes
- Amano Shrimp and Siamese Algae Eaters will eat this
- Dosing Excel

Green Hair Algae (Oedogonium)

Looks like:
Short and curly hair-like strands. Easily breaks apart.

Causes:
- Same as threadhair algae (above)
- Insufficient flow

Treatment:
- Manual removal
- Amano Shrimp and Siamese Algae Eaters
- Dosing Excel

Green Hair Algae (Cladophora)

Looks like:
Short, straight, fine hair-like strands. Can grow into a mat of algae that resembles moss. Tough and does not easily break apart. Usually appears on moss.

Causes:
- Same as threadhair algae (above)
- Insufficient flow (usually in-between moss strands)

Treatment:
- Manual removal
- Dosing Excel or hydrogen peroxide spot treatments.

Staghorn Algae

Looks like:
Grey or dark red branches. Resembles the shape of deer horns.

Causes:
- Excessive Iron (Fe)
- Insufficient flow
- Low CO2 or excessive light.

Treatment:
- Manual removal
- Excel or hydrogen peroxide spot treatments.
- Reducing light-periods

Green Water Algae

Looks like:
Water throughout tank appears green tinted and cloudy.

Causes:
- Ammonia spikes
- Excessive light
- More common in warmer tanks

Treatment:
- UV Filter
- Dosing Excel
- Lower light levels with reduced photo-periods

Green Spot Algae

Looks like:
Green dots or spots on the surface of leaves, hardscape, and glass.

Causes:
- Excessive light
- Low phosphates

Treatment:
- Manual removal (credit cards, razor blades, algae scrapers work great on glass)
- Providing fertilizers with phosphate