Algae can not only interfere with your aquatic ecosystem, but create an eyesore as well. While some amount of algae is unavoidable, you will definitely want to keep a watchful eye on your tank’s cleanliness. Here are some tips to help you avoid algae in your aquarium.
Do not Panic
First things first, know when not to panic. Take a step back from your aquarium and take stock of the plant and animal life. Could you imagine seeing this scene in nature? If a slight layer of green plant material is carpeting plants or structures but not obstructing the view through the glass, then it is not panic time. A little algae is to be expected in any aquatic environment and it can actually be beneficial.
Many consume uneaten food and give off oxygen, helping to clean the tank. Algae form one part of the aquatic ecosystem so you will never truly clean your tank of it all. Better to accept this fact and move on to worrying about more important things.
Do Not Overfeed
One key to reducing algae growth is to cut back on what they thrive on: fish food. Feeding your new pets is fun; they begin to almost expect it when they see you coming towards the tank. Watching them swarm towards the surface is entertaining, so much so that you may find yourself wanting to feed them repeatedly, but this should be avoided.
If you notice any uneaten food after a feeding then you know that the fish were not that hungry to begin with. Additional feedings will result in wasted food, a process known as “overfeeding,” and will have the unintended side effect of encouraging algae growth.
Feed your fish once a day, or, if you must make multiple feedings, test with different amounts until you find what works for your pets and stretch that same amount out over several feedings throughout the day. It may feel like you are depriving your pets, but you are actually doing them a favor on multiple levels.
I would suggest you getting an automatic feeder (Eheim Everyday Fish Feeder is a good choice) to ensure that your fish are fed timely and also to prevent from overfeeding.
Lights, Camera, Action?
The next way to combat algae growth is by restricting the amount of light that enters the environment. Many people treat their aquarium lights almost like alarm clocks: turn them on in the morning when you get out of bed then back off in the evening when you turn in. The additional light pollution can actually give the algae in your environment additional growing time.
Many experienced aquarium owners will tell you to buy a timer and set it so that your aquarium goes through regular day and night cycles. This will make your fish more at ease and will also help control algae growth.
Clean Water is Best
What better way to restrict algae growth than to regulate the very environment they are attempting to thrive in? That is correct, the water is a vital component in your fishes’ lives, but also is the space into which algae will try to expand.
Change out your tank’s water at a rate of no less than 10% per week, which equates to a complete water switch out every 10 weeks, though if you have a smallish population of fish, 30% every month would work just fine. While you are at it, do not forget to remove any debris and dead plant or animal matter and be sure to swap out gravel if it looks too gross.
I would suggest you getting to ease your work of doing weekly water change!
Bottom Feeders are Sometimes Useful
When all else fails, do not be afraid to enlist the help of a common algae enemy: the catfish! Catfish are known to eat algae and can add a distinctive flair to your school. Catfish come in all shapes and sizes, so if you do go this route, make sure to select a breed that will work for your specific tank size requirements. Catfish can also be useful for eating any extraneous fish food that falls through the proverbial cracks. All in all, a definitively useful addition to any aquarium.
Maintain the Environment
In summary, keep an eye on your tank and manage your own expectations above all else. If things look right then continue your routine. If things look amiss, change up your process until you find something that works for you.
Do not be scared off by the slightest sign of algae. Rather, equip your tank with the proper tools and learn that a little algae goes a long way!