How to Prevent Algae Growth in Fish Tanks

A widely prevalent problem in aquariums, algae growth occurs in all fish tanks to one degree or another. Successful prevention of algae growth requires ongoing care and maintenance. Algae thrives in tanks where it receive adequate nutritional needs and light. Depending on the extent of the algae infestation, the time to treat the tank and gain control can vary from almost immediately to several weeks. Regular tank maintenance and algae control practices will limit or virtually eradicate algae growth in the home aquarium.

Place the tank in an area of the home where it does not receive direct sunlight. Algae requires adequate sunlight to grow and flourish.

Install full-spectrum lighting over the aquarium tank. Full-spectrum lighting promotes the growth of aquatic plants but not algae. Replace the bulbs if they are over one year old because older bulbs will promote algae growth.

Turn the aquarium lights off every 10 to 14 hours if the aquarium houses live aquatic growth. If the aquarium only has plastic plants turn the lights off after 6 to 10 hours. Limiting the daily light in the aquarium will keep algae from growing and gradually kill off any algae in the tank.

Avoid overfeeding aquarium fish. Only feed the fish what they will eat. Excessive amounts of food in the aquarium contribute to algae growth.

Place multiple live aquatic plants in the aquarium to rid the tank of algae, according to the Tropical Tank. The live plants will use leftover food nutrients in the aquarium that the fish do not eat, helping gradually starve algae plants and also preventing new algae from forming.

Change filter cartridges regularly, according to the manufacturer's directions. Clean the gravel before fish waste accumulates.

House algae-eating fish within the tank. American flagfish, bristlenose plecos, rubberlip plecos and otos all consume algae in addition to their supplied fish food.

Scrape the internal glass of the aquarium regularly using an algae scraper. Algae scrapers are available at most pet stores that sell aquarium supplies.

Things You'll Need

  • Full-spectrum lighting
  • Live aquatic plants
  • Algae eating fish (such as American flagfish, bristlenose plecos, rubberlip plecos and otos)
  • Algae scraper
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About the Author

Based in Oregon, Kimberly Sharpe has been a writer since 2006. She writes for numerous online publications. Her writing has a strong focus on home improvement, gardening, parenting, pets and travel. She has traveled extensively to such places as India and Sri Lanka to widen and enhance her writing and knowledge base.