4 Simple Steps to Prevent Algae

Algae…no! Algae is the top reason fish keepers, aquascapers, and aquarium lovers give up on the hobby. It can be a frustrating ordeal seeing algae take over an aquarium. Therefore, how does one prevent algae from ever taking over their aquarium. First, let’s discuss how algae is introduced into the aquarium and how it grows. Algae can be introduced into an aquarium through the aquatic plants that hobbyist add to their aquariums or within the water column inside the fish bags used to transport fish and shrimp from the store to home. Finally, algae spores are all around us and can easily be introduced simply through the air that settles above the aquarium. Once algae are introduced into the aquarium, they can then spread with the existence of too much light and/or nutrients.

photo credit: Jennifer Hill @pethelpful.com

The reality is that algae cannot be entirely prevented. However, it can certainly be controlled. In addition, a small amount is beneficial for some of the wildlife that is in your aquarium. Therefore, how does one control the growth of algae?

Step 1: Add plants… a lot of plants

We know that algae thrive with too much light and nutrients within the aquarium. You know what else thrives with a lot of light and nutrients? Aquatic plants. A big mistake I see people make when they are start their aquarium is only adding a few plants. Now, I understand the reasoning behind being conservative with adding plants. First, most people believe that the plants will eventually grow and fill the tank. Second, they are worried about the plant dying and wasting money. I get it. However, when the tank is filled with bags upon bags of aqua soil and the light turns on and there are not enough plants to take up the nutrients from the soil or the lumens from the light, you will experience an algae bloom. My simple recommendation is to add plants as if they will not grow. I understand that sounds counterintuitive however it will provide the best chance of minimizing the algae bloom and it will guarantee that the coverage you want will exist without hoping that your plants creeps toward that empty spot in your aquarium.

Step 2: Clean your tank…often

Particularly when you are starting your aquarium, I recommend conducting a water change of 30-50% everyday for the first 2-3 weeks. I know this may sound excessive, but the soil will be leaching a lot of nutrients as it decomposes and the plants that you just planted haven’t established themselves yet. By changing the water daily, you are keeping algae from accessing the extra nutrients. After a few weeks I like to conduct a little tug on the plants to see if they’ve started attaching themselves to the rocks or checking to see if they are starting to grow new roots. Once this happens you can dial down your water changes to every week or twice a week if you are as neurotic as I am.

Step 3: Let nature help…add algae eaters

Once your tank has cycled and the ammonia spikes have subsided consider adding algae eaters. I enjoy this hobby for the ability to aquascape but to also keep pet shrimp. Caring for shrimp is very rewarding as their colors brighten the aquascape up and they are just so interesting to watch. They are always on the go looking for that next patch of algae. Many aquarium hobbyist may also recommend plecostomus, otocinclus, or amano shrimp but I am very partial to neocaridina and caridina shrimp. The color variation of these shrimp is an untapped world for many.

Step 4: Take advantage of technology…use a Twinstar Reactor

Twinstar Reactors like the M3, M5, Nano, Yotta, and Yotta+ were invented to help eliminate water-born spores in the aquarium. Like an air purifier the Twinstar Reactor kills water-born pathogens that multiply through generating spores. Through a process of electrolysis, the reactor injects gas into the aquarium which disrupts the growing process of spores, effectively killing them. Before your plants can maximize their consumption of the nutrients within the aquarium, the reactor will take a pro-active approach toward eliminating the spores that are beginning to grow. It is the perfect 1-2 punch for algae prevention. Most recently there have been new vendors developing similar reactor however I use reactors in the plant display tanks and haven’t had an algae bloom yet.

In summary, algae growth in the aquarium is unavoidable however it can be controlled. Plants are the best deterrent. They compete for the same nutrients and with enough of a plant army can starve out the enemy. Don’t be lazy, clean your tank. I promise you will enjoy your tank more knowing how clean it is. Finally, get help from a Twinstar reactor. When you aren’t actively in the fight, the Twinstar reactor is defending your underwater world. With this easy 3-step combo you’ll relish showing off your aquascape to your friend and family alike.

For a live demonstration of the Twinstar reactor in action, check out our YouTube video where we unbox and install the reactor in one of our shop tanks!