Control Algae to Retain the Aesthetics of Your Tropical Fish Tank
Algae is a basic form of marine plant life. They do not have the features generally associated with plants like roots, leaves, seeds, and flowers. The term algae is often used to cover all types of marine life that can convert sunlight into energy through the process of photosynthesis. However, some algae do not produce their own food and energy but obtain it from the proteins in fish waste and other external sources.
Algae proliferate rapidly in tropical fish tanks and can mar the beauty of the tank. It is very difficult to entirely avoid these unwanted marine plants and a small quantity of algae are inevitable wherever there is water, sunlight and nutrients.
The real problem is when the algae grow to such an extent that they are visible to the naked eye. Regular maintenance of the aquarium is essential to counter the growth of algae in your fish tank. If not checked, algae will propagate quickly and obstruct the view of your fish, create a foul smell in the water and will generally make your fish tank look unappealing.
In order to treat your fish tank and get rid of the algae, you will need to identify the type of algae it contains. There is no single treatment for treating all types of algae and each type of algae has to be treated in a specific way to get best results.
The most commonly found algae in tropical fish tanks are the brown, green, blu-green and the green water algae.
The first algae to appear in a new fish tank is often the brown algae. It appears as a dirty brown slime on the sides and the bottom of the aquarium. It also sticks onto the rocks, ornaments and gravel in the tank.
This type of algae are grow even with very little light and hence, starving them of light will not hinder its growth. The best way to slow the growth of this algae is to starve it of the nutrients which are vital for its growth. Brown algae thrive on high protein levels in the fish tank, which come primarily from the fish food. Reducing the protein level in the tank requires you to feed your fish less.
Many people make the mistake of overfeeding fish just because the fish keep on finishing the food dropped into the tank. Fish by nature will eat everything that you feed them, irrespective of how much feed is put into the tank. When they overeat, a lot of the food remains undigested and is excreted into the fish tank, floating around and becoming nourishing manure for the algae.
A simple way to keep the fish feed at the right amount is to stick to the instructions on the fish food package. Additionally, timely water changes, regular cleaning of the gravel and filters and periodic overall maintenance will retard the growth of brown algae. In established aquariums, brown algae growth can be spurred by higher levels of phosphates and nitrates. A check on the phosphate and nitrate levels is therefore recommended.
If the problem of brown algae still persists, algae-eaters can be introduced in the tanks. algae eaters are fish which live at the bottom and include the Siamese algae eater and the American-flag fish. These fish which make a meal of the algae, are available at fish traders and pet shops and are a natural way of getting rid of the algae.
Green Algae need a lot of light to grow and spread. The algae does not stick to the inner surfaces of the tank and can be removed easily. It is a favourite food of algae eaters which can be used effectively to solve the problem.
Just as with the brown algae, the green variety also thrives on proteins in the tank. You can reduce the fish food to three-fourths of the regular levels. Keep a close watch to see if your fish are becoming flat as this would mean that they are being underfed. Fish with a slightly rounded body are getting sufficient food. Including a fair number of algae eaters in your tank would ensure that the problem of green algae remains under control. It is worth repeating here that a very small amount of green algae is generally unavoidable.
Blue-green algae, scientifically, is not an algae but a type of bacteria. It is a cyanobacteria which is a type of bacteria that can produce its own food through photosynthesis. This bacteria is one of the oldest life forms on this earth and is estimated to have existed over 3.5 billion years ago. The bacteria appear as a slimy film in shades of greenish-blue. This type of bacteria are are known to release toxic wastes in the water which can actually harm your fish.
Removal is simple as it manifests itself in a the form of films of suspended material in the water which can be scooped out. On the flip side, the hardy bacteria generally reappears by the next day, no matter how well the tank might have been cleaned. Low levels of nitrates and high levels of phosphate encourage the growth of this bacteria. An imbalance of bacteria is also a contributing factor.
To get rid of this algae, all light to the tank must be cut off for at least a week and all dead bacteria must be removed on a daily basis. Restore the balance of bacteria with every water change, using bacteria pellets, which you can source from dealer of aquarium supplies. Bacteria pellets which remove proteins ammonia from the water are ideal. And finally, ensure that you carry out periodic tan maintenance cleaning it thoroughly, unclogging filters and making sure the fluorescent lights, which are necessary for proper balance of bacteria and plant life, work well.
Green water is quickly identified as the water in the tank takes on a green hue and is murky and cloudy. The algae that cause this condition are free-floating and remain suspended in the water. The problem can get so bad that it becomes difficult to see the fish in the tank. Excess light and poor quality of the water are the two most common reasons for the increase in such algae.
To get rid of the problem you will need to cut off all sunlight to the tank for some days extending to about a week. A fine mesh is recommended for the filter. A diatomic filter would be useful. You will have to check the filters regularly or risk blockages.
There are other general precautions which will help you to avoid the quick build up of algae in your tank. Regular maintenance is perhaps the best preventive measure. Maintenance includes regular water changes and tank cleaning, use of UV filters, keeping the tank away from direct sunlight, keep food levels to the minimum, minimize aeration, etc. Appropriately populate your tank without overcrowding it. Make optimum use of fast growing plants like Egeria and Ambulia to kmaintain the balance of nitrates and phosphates.
Keeping the tank healthy and attractive is an onerous and complex task. But the pleasure of owning a tank and watching the free movement of your fish, together with its contribution to the overall beauty of your aquarium decor, is well worth the effort.
See more: What Type Of Tropical Fish To Choose For Your Tank?