Remove Algae In The Aquarium: 5 Effective Home Remedies

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:55 pm

Algae have already spoiled many an aquarist’s passion. Once the microorganisms have formed, they multiply like sand on the beach. Quick action is now required. After all, the unpleasant water plants indicate an unbalanced ecosystem. The aquarium suffers from this not only visually, some types of algae even have a negative effect on the health of the fish. Now it is necessary to remove the algae. Fortunately, a variety of biologically safe alternatives also exist. The best thing is, the home remedies are usually already available in any ordinary household.


Algae in the aquarium can be removed effectively and in the long term only if the cause of their formation is known. Only with the knowledge of the exact trigger it is possible to find the appropriate home remedy. The most common causes include:

  • dead plant remains
  • stagnant water
  • feces or undiscovered fish carcasses
  • too high phosphate content in the water
  • Note: An aquarium is a small biotope. Each living being contributes a part to a functioning symbiosis. An excess of algae indicates an imbalance in this tiny habitat.

Different types of algae

Remove Algae In The Aquarium: 5 Effective Home Remedies

To successfully combat aquatic weeds, in addition to analyzing the cause, it is equally helpful to identify the exact algae species. Here is a brief overview of the most common species and their characteristics:

Blue-green algae

  • actually not algae, but bacteria
  • recognizable by a bluish-green film over the aquarium’s furnishing elements
  • damage the filter system
  • very persistent
  • indicate too high nitrate content
  • Control measure: dark location, change half of the water for three days, predators (snails, sucking catfish)

Green algae

  • highly developed algae species
  • appears as green spots on glass panes and young plants
  • occur in case of nutrient excess
  • Control measures: Feeders (honeycomb scale catfish, blue antenna catfish, Siamese proboscis barb).

Thread algae

  • subspecies of green algae
  • develops when there is too much light and nutrients
  • fast spreading
  • Infest aquarium plantings at the roots, causing them to die off
  • Control measures: Amano shrimps
  • red algae
  • thrive with strong water movement (good nutrient supply)
  • Occur at low CO₂ levels.
  • Control measure: increase CO₂ content
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Brush algae

  • Subtype of red algae
  • grow in corners and edges of the aquarium
  • prefer strong current
  • the most unpleasant type of algae due to massive spreading
  • dark green to black color
  • occur when there are too many nutrients and too little CO₂.
  • Control measures: remove infested plants, predators (shrew, barb, guppy), vacuum gravel, reduce flow

Beard algae

  • subspecies of red algae
  • recognizable by small hairs
  • very stubborn
  • cover furnishing elements and filter systems
  • form either in the case of nutrient deficiency or surplus


  • brownish coating on stones, plants and other furnishing elements, oxygen bubbles
  • occur with a lack of light and a too high carbonate content.

Control measures: Nutrient removal through feeding competition (fast-growing plants, piping moths), vacuum gravel, replace one third of the water with softer water.

Note: To remove the various types of algae, the trade offers a variety of chemical agents. Although the use of fungicides promises a very high success rate, the use of toxic substances is not recommended. As said, an aquarium is an ecosystem that fungicides would destroy. Moreover, these agents help only in the short term. A long-term disposal with the help of natural substances is then certainly the better choice.

Removing algae: home remedies

To remove algae, it does not require a large expense. Even small interventions, changes and home remedies can help to long-term elimination and even prevent the formation of algae. Some methods are somewhat controversial, but others have proven to be very effective. Of course, the suitability of a home remedy always depends on the fish population, the space capacities and the type of algae present.

Design of the aquarium

With the right setup of an aquarium, it is possible to take action against certain aquatic plants. Each aquarium should be equipped with a filter. However, its performance depends on the size of the aquarium and the number of fish living in it. Two filters are optimal, one of which sucks up the coarse dirt such as excrement and another filter cleans the water of fine dirt particles.
Furthermore, the bottom covering plays an important role. For example, blue-green algae prefer light-colored pebbles. Replacing them with dark stones will drive away the unwelcome plants in no time.

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Create the right lighting conditions

Decisive for the formation of algae are not only the conditions inside the aquarium, but also external influences. In particular, the supply of light determines plant growth. Plants need brightness to carry out photosynthesis. In doing so, they release nutrients into the water. If there is too much light, there is a nutrient surplus; if there is too much darkness, on the other hand, the level is not sufficient. Various algae species benefit from this imbalance.

Create balance
The ratio of aquarium size, fish population and furnishing elements should always be accurately measured. Many fish produce a lot of feces. Once again, a correspondingly powerful filter should be used. The amount of food should also be adapted to the number of aquarium inhabitants. If food remains, it serves as food for algae. In addition, certain fish species have the function of a natural predator. To ensure that they also feed on the algae, it is recommended to give a reduced amount of food so that the fish do not eat their fill.

Planting the aquarium

Plants are a direct competitor for algae growth. Both creatures require nutrients to thrive. Fast growing aquarium plants thus deprive the unwanted rivals of the necessary nutrients. They also regulate the CO₂ content of the water through photosynthesis. It is advisable to have as diverse a planting as possible. A monoculture would have the opposite effect.
Fertilization is also an important consideration. Choosing the wrong fertilizer quickly leads to an oversupply of nutrients. Deficient nutrients, however, should be added in a targeted manner. An accurate water analysis is therefore highly recommended.


A popular, simple household remedy to remove blue-green algae and co is straw. Although it is primarily used in garden ponds, it is also effective in removing unwanted plants from a water basin.

  • Suitable are dried barley or wheat straw.
  • four to five handfuls of straw to one liter of water
  • place the straw in a sealed plastic bag in the water basin
  • pierce small air holes in the plastic with a toothpick beforehand
  • after about two days the algae should disappear
  • change straw and plastic bag every ten days
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Note: Mistakenly, money is still considered an effective method to combat an algae infestation in the aquarium. However, this is strongly discouraged as the copper is toxic to the fish.


The best way to prevent algae from forming in the first place is to prevent it from forming. Any aspects that promote algae growth should be eliminated in advance. The first place of prevention is the choice of location. An aquarium should not be located too sunny but also not too dark. The light supply should not fall below ten hours and not exceed twelve hours. Those who cannot ensure the minimum amount of brightness naturally can help themselves with artificial lighting. In addition, the water quality should always be checked. For this purpose, test strips, among other things to determine the nutrient concentration, are available in specialized stores.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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