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Algae is one of the most common problems in a tank, whether it is planted or not. It is normally due to too much of one thing and not enough of the other. For example too much light and not enough co2 and nutrients or not enough light and too many nutrients. Even in a perfectly balanced aquarium it is impossible to stay algae free. Below are the most common types of algae and how to rid yourself of it.

Hair Algae

Very common on plants and rocks. Can be many different colors but is usually green or greyish. They are long thin strands sometimes growing 3-4 inches long. Normally due to overdosing of liquid fertilizers, especially ones high in iron and phosphates.

Getting rid of it
Just reduce the amount and frequency or completely erradicate adding any fertilizers to stop it from growing or add more potassium so the plants will use the phosphates quicker. It is easy to pull off so you can just pull it off until you get rid of it.

Green Spot Algae

Probably the most common algae. Appears as little green spots everywhere: glass, rocks, fish substrate, filters, everywhere. I have found that it occurs where any direct light hits. Also occurs on slow growing plants.

Getting rid of it
Practically impossible to get rid of especially if it is on plants. If it is on the glass however most sucker fish like a pleco will get it off. For plants that keep getting it make sure to move them so no direct sunlight hits them.

Brown Algae

Mainly found on plants and substrate. It is like a brown sludge that coats the plants. It is very easy to rub it off. Usually caused by excess phosphates in the water.

Getting rid of it
One of the easiest ways to get rid of it is buy alot of fast growing plants so that they can outcompete the algae for the nutrients. However you could just buy either a group of SAE (siamese algae eaters) or otocinclus (commonly referred to as oto's). They will make a feast out of it. It is best to buy them in groups of 3 or larger.

Red Brush Algae

Occurs as fine threads clumped together. Possibly one of the hardest to get rid of. Tends to favor water with a high carbonate hardness and high PH.

Getting rid of it
The only good fish to get rid of it is the SAE (siamese algae eater). Get a group of them and it should be gone shortly. The common plec has been known to also eat it (very rarely though).

Blue-green algae

Never tackled this type of algae before(luckily) so information has come from The Tropical Tank. Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) appears as a slimy coating in a number of different colours. It can smother plants and may release toxins harmful to fish. It can fix nitrogen and may therefore occur in tanks with zero or very low nitrates (but possibly high levels of other nutrients, particularly phosphate).

Getting rid of it
No known cure. No fish will eat it because it releases toxins. Some people have tried using antibiotics before but make sure you know what you are doing first.

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