Different forms of Algae

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The-Wolf

Ex-LFS manager/ keeper of over 30 danio species
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Algae bloom
See Green water

Beard algae
Description
Beard algae is found growing on plant leaves and is bright green. The strands have a very fine texture although it can grow in thick patches resembling a green beard, thus its name. This form of alga does not indicate poor water quality although it is considered one of the bad ones to get. If not dealt with early it can often overwhelm a tank very quickly.

Possible cure
Beard algae is extremely hard to remove physically. The best way to remove it is with a commercially available anti-algae chemical, although some products can have a dramatic effect on the Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter bacteria.

Black algae AKA Brush algae
Description
Black algae is considered one of the worse forms of algae that an aquarium can succumb to. It grows in feathery black tufts tending to collect on slower growing plants and also on wood.

Possible cure
Black algae is actually a red algae in the genus Audouinella and like its formidable cousin the red algae it cannot easily be removed physically.
You should remove the leaves of affected plants. Decorations etc should be soaked in a 25% bleach solution, then scrubbed to remove the dead algae then thoroughly rinsed before placing back in the aquarium, I can not state enough how important it is to be careful when handling bleach and its use for aquarium related items.
SAEs’ are known to eat this algae and can keep it in check. A more drastic measure is treatment with copper, but that should only be used by experts and not attempted by most of us.

Blue algae
See Smear algae

Brown algae AKA Diatoms
Description
This type of algae is actually a diatom. Diatoms often form a soft brown clump and are often seen in new, immature, set ups. Diatoms are usually a result of lack of light or an excess of silicates (which they need to multiply).

Possible cure
Increasing the light levels, by adding more light of keeping existing light on for longer, will usually make it disappear. Diatoms can be easily removed by wiping the glass or decorations. I have heard that in America there is a silicate absorbing filter media available, but I have not seen it anywhere on the net.

Film algae
Description
This form of algae is often seen as a thin haze on aquarium glass.

Possible cure
Film algae can be easily removed by wiping the glass.
Note; This is considered normal with high light levels needed for well planted tanks.

Fuzz algae
Description
Fuzz algae is found mostly on plant leaves as short strands. Often considered to be a less active form of beard algae.

Possible cure
Fuzz algae is best controlled with algae eating aquatic life such as Otos and SAEs etc.

Green water AKA Algae bloom
Description
This is a green single celled alga that rapidly reproduces in water, thus turning it green. This is generally called an "algae bloom" and is more often than not caused by too much light or direct sunlight.

Possible cure
An algae bloom can be removed by filtering with micron cartridges or diatom filters. UV sterilizers can prevent the bloom in the first place.
It should be noted that green water is especially valuable in the breeding and raising of daphnia and baby brine shrimp.

Hair algae
Description
Hair algae grow in bright green clumps in the substrate. It is often seen around the base of decorations and plants. It has a coarser texture than "beard algae". Beard algae will ripple in the water current, hair algae tends to form matted clumps. Individual strands can get to 5 cm or more.

Possible cure
Hair algae can be easy removed physically by twisting a toothbrush in it.
Note; This can become troublesome if left unchecked.

Red algae (Rhodophyta)
Description
Red algae is arguably considered the worse form of alga to infect an aquarium. It can be found in an assortment of physical forms, including simple and branched filaments but more often in sheets.

Possible cure
Red algae like its formidable cousin the Black algae cannot easily be removed physically.
You should destroy any affected plant as they can harbour the spores until the conditions are correct for a new bloom. Decorations etc should be soaked in a 50% bleach solution, then scrubbed to remove the dead algae then thoroughly rinsed before placing back in the aquarium, I can not state enough how important it is to be careful when handling bleach and its use for aquarium related items.
SAEs’ are the only know fish to eat this algae. A more drastic measure is treatment with copper or hydrogen peroxide, but that should only be used by experts and not attempted by most of us.

Smear algae AKA Blue-green, Slime algae
Description
This is actually a cyanobacteria. This type of algae rapidly grows in sheets. It spreads over most things and is usually symptomatic of poor water quality. Smear algae may be seen in aquariums with extremely low nitrates. It is sometimes seen in small quantities between the substrate and aquarium walls. Smear algae will asphyxiate and, thus, kill plants.

Possible cure
It can be physically removed, but this is often impractical as it will return extremely quickly in the correct conditions. 200 mg of erythromycin phosphate per 10 gallons of water will usually eliminate smear algae but can also have unfavourable effects on the Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter bacteria. When using erythromycin as a treatment, you must monitor your ammonia and nitrite levels as these can shift dramatically.

Spot algae
Description
This form of algae often grows in thin, circular, bright green spots.

Possible cure
Spot algae must be physically removed with the aid of an alga scrubbing pad or a razor blade in stubborn instances. Care must be taken on acrylic aquariums or you will scratch the acrylic.
Again it is considered normal for well planted tanks.

Thread algae
Description
Thread algae often grows in long, thin strands up to 12” (30.05 cm) or more. It tends to have a dull green colour and is often a symptom of excess of iron in the aquarium.

Possible cure
Like Hair algae this can be easy removed physically by twisting a toothbrush in it.
Note; Again can become troublesome if left unchecked.


Preventatives for Algae
Algae spores are universal and will always be present in an aquarium.
UV steralisers can help keep algae in check, but the cost is often prohibitive to most of us.
To avoid introducing a new algae type to a planted tank with new plants, a simple bleach dip will work. The solution should be 1 part bleach in 19 parts water and dip the new plant in it for 1 to 2 minutes. The plant should be immediately rinsed the plant in running water to remove the bleach solution. After rinsing under running water the plant should be immersed in de-chlorinated water, which should neutralize any remaining bleach.
This will kill the alga spore but might, temporarily, slow down the growth of a healthy plant.
Note; If the plant is in poor condition it may die from this treatment.
 
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