That greenish-blue gunk that eventually grows on your aquarium glass, on the decorations and plants, and on the gravel is called algae. Though it looks like something that should be eradicated immediately, it’s just living plant matter that is a perfectly natural occurrence in an aquatic environment. It’s actually good to have some algae in an aquarium as long as that amount is controlled.
Algae is like any other plant; it requires light to grow and to survive and it generates oxygen during â€œdaytimeâ€ and carbon dioxide at â€œnight time.â€ Algae consumes nitrate from the aquarium water as well and serves as food for many fish in the aquarium. Algae-eating fish return the favor to the aquarium owner by helping to keep the glass clean, and by controlling the amount of algae growth in the aquarium. Not a bad little ecosystem, huh?
On the down side, algae is difficult to clean and remove from the aquarium. When it grows unchecked, it becomes an eyesore and a source of pollutants, which overstresses your filtration and your fish. Just like everything else in our aquarium, algae has to follow the rules of moderation to keep everyone happy. Here are a few ways to keep your algae under control:
Do not place the aquarium where it is exposed to direct sunlight. Do not keep your aquarium lights on for longer than a natural day. If possible, set your aquarium light on a timer to replicate a natural day/night cycle. This is good for the well being of your fish, too.
Add some notorious algae-eating fish to the aquarium. These fish are almost always peaceful, easy to care for fish and they do windows to boot.
Although this adds some complexity to your aquarium hobby, adding live plants will help control algae growth tremendously. Live plants hog up all of the nutrients in the water, starving out most of the algae.
Remove ugly algae growth from the aquarium during your regular cleaning sessions.
Purchase an algae scrubber from your aquatics retailer, one that is designed specifically to remove tough algae growth from the aquarium glass.
Remember that regular water changes keep nitrate levels low and low nitrate means less algae food.