DESERT AQUARIST SOCIETY

Tucson's First Aquarium Society

Types of Algae in a Freshwater Aquarium


  Brown Algae

Almost every aquarist will at some point face an algae outbreak in a tank.  But one thing has to be clear: there many kinds of algae!   In a planted aquarium, the situation is more complex than a non-planted aquarium because there are not just fish to consider, but also live plants. It is true that plants will uptake the ammonia/nitrate/phosphate and help keep the water chemistry in good quality. But even so you can suddenly experience the worst algae outbreak in a planted tank, and you will ask "but how is this possible?
The first thing you have to consider is what kind of algae am I dealing with?

There are seven that are most commonly seen in freshwater aquariums. These seven types of algae are:

  • Brown Algae: This type of algae is most commonly seen in tanks with high phosphate or nitrate levels. Brown algae is also common in new tanks but it generally goes away after the tank has cycled properly.
  • Green Hair Algae: This type of algae grows in long, wispy threads and it is sometimes called thread algae. This algae is usually green in color, though it may also be brown. Hair algae is easy to remove but it quickly returns if the conditions responsible for its growth are not remedied.
  • Red Algae: This algae can be found in both freshwater and saltwater conditions and it is multicellular which gives it a rigid structure. Red algae is also sometimes called beard algae or brush algae but these are all different types of red algae.
  • Green Algae: This type of algae is most commonly seen in aquariums with very bright lighting and it can grow on tank objects as well as in the tank water. Sometimes green algae will cause an algae bloom which turns all of the water in the tank green.
  • Blue-Green Algae: Technically, blue-green algae is actually a type of bacteria called cyanobacteria and it is most commonly found in very nutrient-rich waters. Most freshwater fish do not eat blue-green algae but some freshwater snails like Nerite snails do.
  • Black Algae: This type of algae is commonly found in planted tanks and it grows in dark black spots that may be fuzzy in texture. Black algae is often seen in the roots of slow-growing plants and in filters.
  • Diatoms: This type of algae is brown in color and it may show up in spots on the walls of your tank or on other tank objects. Diatoms can be found in both freshwater and saltwater environments.

At our next meeting Philip Sarelis will shed some light on how to manage algae.  It should be a great program.


  Green Hair Algae

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