Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Is Algae all that bad? (

PaperclipGirl 04-07-2010 09:29 PM

Is Algae all that bad?
Just curious.... I read somewhere out on the 'net that its okay to have a slight coat of green on your tanks.

What's everyone's take on this?

P.S. I didn't have an issue with algae in my tank until I added plants... ?!?

Zynthesis 04-07-2010 10:03 PM

Well there are all types of algae. You didn't really specify what type you have. There's the good stuff that kinda coats everything and you just do tank maintenance and it comes off, and it's green for the most part. This is the kinda algae a pleco might suck off surfaces, as a little snack but not as his only food source so cleaning the glass ornaments and filters has to be done. You can see it if it starts to grow and you can feel the slim on the inside of your glass with your finger.

There are however all types of other algae that can ruin your whole fish keeping experience. These kinda algae come in all forms and sizes and grow on things you don't want them too and no matter what you do they seem to never go away.

Algae, like everything except for ornaments, gravel and the h20 in your fish tank are living creatures. Algae need nutrients, and they need to photosynthesize. Certain algae grow better with certain abundance of nutrients and or lighting.

The keep algae under control you can either take one or the other way from algae. Plants without light die. Plants with out food die.

The alternative to this and what fish keepers try to accomplish is coming to a happy medium by creating a ecosystem that keeps algae under control. These systems have well balanced nutrient levels, and correct lighting perimeters for their tanks.

So, if you just have a case of the good ole green algae and you clean your tank and do water changes and you don't over do your nutrients and there's not a constant low light spectrum hitting your tank. You should be fine. If you got something else in there. Well..I guess i'll be typing more..


karjean 04-08-2010 05:19 AM

Do you have a light on the aquarium and if so how long is it on?

Byron 04-08-2010 01:52 PM

Algae is perfectly natural, and it is a normal component of any natural aquarium. The aim is to keep it in check.

Having live plants is a benefit, since algae is much easier to control in planted tanks. It is said by many plant authorities that in a well-planted tank, algae is never a problem. The "trick" is to have everything in balance, and that is not as difficult as some might think. Higher forms of plants (algae itself is a plant) are faster at grabbing the nutrients, provided they are available in balance with the light intensity and duration.

In non-planted tanks, you have nothing to use the nutrients (fish waste, organic and bacteria processes all produce nutrients) and in the presence of light, algae will use those nutrients. As I mentioned above, algae is after all just a plant.

Some aquarists seem to think they should have pristine tanks with not a spec of algae. This is not only next to impossible, it is also unhealthy. Your fish can't live in such pristine conditions. Nature is not like that, there is a balance, and every successful aquarium has its own biological balance. Those who allow this to occur naturally, doing regular maintenance and/or using live plants to keep the nutrients in control, will have a more successful and naturally healthy aquarium for the fish.

I have brush algae in my Amazonian tanks; it covers most of the wood in the 90g, less in the 115g [different water conditions and fish loads]. Fish use it. In the 90g I have pencilfish and Corydoras that continually graze through this for food. And there is minute food in it; the fish in this tank spawn frequently, and some fry usually survive, feeding on the plankton in this algae. I have over time adjusted the light duration so that the algae does not go further.

redchigh 04-08-2010 02:08 PM

You said you only got algae when you added plants?

Did you change your lighting when you got the plants or did you keep it the same?
Do you fertilise?

Bacchus 04-08-2010 03:26 PM

i pretty much have a green background on the back of my 29-gallon from algae...i just let it grow as much as it wants on that wall of the tank, and i clean off the other 3 walls with a razor blade. that green algae can do a lot of good for your water and i personally do not mind having a natural green background...i dont really have other types of algae at the moment.

PaperclipGirl 04-08-2010 07:13 PM

The stuff I have is the green coating on the glass - for right now -I'm just scraping it off off the front and letting it grow wild on the bottom and other sides. I was just curious, as this is my "lazy" way of having a "planted" tank other than the anacharis plants I put in that the goldfish think of as FREE SALAD BAR.

I don't think I have any of the nasty algae - sorry I should have been more specific - as a newer fish keeper I don't know all the proper names for the types yet.

The only change I made when I added the plants was putting in new "plant lights" - cheap wal-mart tube lights (sorry I don't know the specs). The lighting I have on a timer so the tank has had 10 hours light every day and is pretty consistant unless I turn the lights off earlier at night.

PaperclipGirl 04-08-2010 07:27 PM

Another curiosity question:

Can cynobacteria cause a tank to read low to zero nitrates/nitrites? The reason I ask is when I got this 55g tank it had a lot of cynobacteria (on the light lids), and has never read any nitrates/nitrites ever...

Byron 04-09-2010 12:25 PM


Originally Posted by PaperclipGirl (Post 359691)
Another curiosity question:

Can cynobacteria cause a tank to read low to zero nitrates/nitrites? The reason I ask is when I got this 55g tank it had a lot of cynobacteria (on the light lids), and has never read any nitrates/nitrites ever...

We need a bit of clarification I think. Cyanobacteria is a green slimy film that will cover anything under water like plants, wood, decor, even the gravel. It will easily come off with your fingers.

I can't see how this could be on the light lids; green "stuff" there would likely be algae dried.

With respect to the nitrates, I would expect nitrate to be higher (though not always) with cyanobacteria which is organic in origin, by which I mean its chief cause is high organics, and that usually means nitrates are high. Light is also part of the factor, but the organics are the main cause of cyanobacteria, which as the name suggests is actually a form of bacteria and not true algae.

Nitrite is yet another different thing with no direct relation to cyanobacteria that I am aware of; I have had bouts of cyanobacteria in established tanks with zero nitrite, and nitrates not above 10-20 ppm which is not "high."


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