Algae Guide – 7 Common & Different Types

Green aquarium algae

Algae is a non-flowering plant, mostly aquatic and comprises of the seaweed and other single-celled forms.

They normally don’t feature the anatomy of a plant such as having a root system, leaves, stems and the vascular tissue. They, however, contain chlorophyll, not all algae are safe for humans and animals, but it is also not very easy to determine when a bloom will produce toxins. 

Algae found in freshwater do contain harmful algal blooms, it reproduces very fast and all it needs is sunlight or sugar, and with the presence of water, some inorganic nutrients and carbon dioxide then algae will grow. The main function of algae is to help with the carbon cycle; it therefore, fixes carbon dioxide into the high energy carbon molecules. 

Moving on from the science of algae let us now look at the different types of algae and how you can get rid of them from your tank with the different types of fishes. 

1. Cladophor sp (Blanketweed)


The blanket weed happens to be the toughest type of algae to get rid of and is fond of attaching itself to the substrate. What’s more is that if you try to get rid of it, a pungent smell will be released. The main culprits of introducing the algae in the tank are the Marimo Moss Balls, which also happens to come from the same algae family. 

High levels of CO2, nitrates, and light will lead to their growth. This type of algae doesn’t have any known feeders and it would be best to desist from introducing it in the first place. 

2. Audouinella/Black Brush Algae/ BBA


BBA will present itself in saline water and rarely in freshwater, the algae produce a light protein known as phycoerythrin that gives the algae its color (dark purple). They will manifest themselves in your tank on the driftwoods, or the hard surfaces. To distinguish them from the others they have a characteristic patchy beard look and are soft and slippery. 

To avoid this type of algae from taking over your tank you should ensure that the CO2 levels are stable and provide consistent lighting. Getting rid of the algae is not a walk in the park and those with acrylic tanks should expect their tanks to get scratches. 

The Amano Shrimp, the Florida flag fish, and the Siamese algae eaters will help get rid of the algae in your aquarium. 

3. Diatoms (Brown Algae)


The diatoms can obtain nutrients via photosynthesis and other chemicals, so even if the light conditions are too low the brown algae will still survive. They are common in marine aquariums and will present as dust on the substrate of your tank. The algae don’t take long to turn into a film (slimy) and will cover the glass of your tank.

 Low oxygen levels in the aquarium is a catalyst for the growth of the brown algae. Low lights will also accelerate their growth, not to mention the high levels of nitrates, silicates and phosphorus. 

You should also be careful after initiating the nitrogen cycle because if the filter and substrate fail to get enough time to mature then be prepared to receive the brown algae. 

The best way of getting rid of the algae is by depriving it of the nutrients that it so badly needs to survive; also, partial water changes will help get rid of the menace. The Otocinclus Catfish, the plecostomus and the yellow tangs will be a great addition to your aquarium and will help get rid of the brown algae.  

4. Green aquarium algae 

Green aquarium algae

The Green aquarium algae is a nightmare for the aquarium owners, it loves to inhabit the freshwater tanks and turns its pea soup green. The aquarium algae does not have an appealing look, but will not harm your fish. Replication is super fast, as it derives energy from photosynthesis, it is a single-celled organism. 

Too much lighting or nutrients in the aquarium will lead to a spike in the growth of the algae. Also, too much fertilizer and a rise in ammonia levels will lead to the development of the green aquarium algae. Also don’t overfeed your fish and fail to change the water, because when it becomes too toxic then the green aquarium algae will be your guest. 

Getting rid of it is not easy as well because it is a single-celled organism thus reproduces rather fast, so the best thing would be to use a UV sterilizer or just deny your tank light for a week or more. You can also introduce snails and shrimps to help minimize their growth.

5. Fuzz Algae

Fuzz Algae

Fuzz algae normally occur in new tanks that don’t have the right balance of nutrients. The first step in managing algae is to test your aquarium for the presence of nutrients and CO2 and then tweak accordingly. If the fuzz is allowed to dominate your aquarium then your plants will have to compete with the algae for resources. 

Other methods that you can use is by deploying the Amano shrimp, the Otocinclus fish, the black mollies, and the Bristlenos plecos to help deal with the menace. 

6. Oedogonium algae

Oedogonium algae

Oedogonium can be a free floating algae but most of the time it will attach itself to the plants in your aquarium. To avoid having problems with the algae it would be best if you ensure that nutrients and CO2 levels are not kept too low. 

There are also some aquatic animals that will help you get rid of the algae such as the Mollie, the Rosy Barbs and the Amano Shrimps.

7. Rhizoclonium Algae

Rhizoclonium Algae
Spirogyra. Fine, slimy and ivy-duckweed. Whitchurch canal. Dec-82. Lower reaches is coarser. Rhizoclonium at upper end

The rhizoclonium algae are characteristic of green hair-like strands that are also slimy. Failure to provide enough nutrients, or if your aquarium has a poor water circulation system then you are slowly inviting the algae. Low levels of CO2 have also been determined to encourage its growth; to get rid of the algae you could get the Amano shrimp as it loves to feed on it. 

Another method is to overdose the aquarium tank with Easy Carbo or Excel to help get rid of the algae.

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