Black Hair Algae on Aquarium Plants

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Black hair algae, also known as black beard algae or black brush algae (BBA), is usually transported into an aquarium on plants already growing it. Once introduced and in the correct environment, it will grow rapidly, taking over the tank with the black, fuzzy growth.

Lighting and aquarium inhabitants make the biggest impact on how intense the growth will get in an individual tank.

Introduction and Appearance

Black hair algae is usually introduced from aquatic plants. Rarely it can be introduced from aquarium plants or snails as well. It can appear in patches or in an even covering. The algae is black as indicated by the name and usually has strands around 1 centimetre long. It will grow on live or fake plants, decorations, tank walls and gravel. It can spread very quickly with the proper conditions.

Tank Lighting

Low light usually contributes to the spread of black hair algae because it does not give the proper conditions that live plants need to thrive so they can inhibit the growth of algae. However, during a treatment period for black hair algae, tank light should be limited to 6 hours a day to help eliminate the algae. Tank lighting also ensures that aquarium inhabitants have enough active time to clear away algae if you have any algae-eating creatures.

Tank Inhabitants

There are a few aquarium fish and invertebrates that help control all types of algae. Siamensis, algae eaters, angel fish and black mollies all have been known to eat black hair algae. Apple snails and Japonica shrimp also feed on this particular type of algae. Any of those fish should help control the algae population in your tank.

Algae Removal

The first step to algae removal is to remove any visible algae on live plants with a tank brush, or just remove the leaves that have growth. Remove all tank decorations, soak them in a 10:1 bleach and water solution, and scrub the algae off with a brush. Rinse decorations well before reintroducing them into the tank. Vacuum the gravel of any algae remnants as well. Reduce tank lighting to six hours a day while treating. Some chemical algae removers are safe for use with live plants but you need to read the label carefully. Physical removal of the algae and introduction of algae-eating fish may control it without chemical intervention.