What Is Black Beard Algae?
Black beard algae, also known as brush algae, is a type of algae that grows in aquariums. It is characterised by its black/brown, stringy, hair like texture and often spreads across hard surfaces, such as rocks and decorations, in a similar fashion to cobwebs. The scientific name of this type of algae is ‘Audouinella herpiderma’ and is usually caused by an imbalance in aquarium water with too many phosphate and nitrate levels.
Why Is Black Beard Algae A Problem?
Having black beard algae in an aquarium can be quite unsightly and it can affect the health of the fish living in the tank. Not only does it create an unpleasant aesthetic, but it can also cause problems with the water quality of the tank. As it takes over, it can reduce the amount of oxygen or sunlight to other aquatic life which means that it can cause harm to other aquatic creatures in the tank.
Tackling The Problem
Getting rid of black beard algae isn’t the easiest task to do, but luckily there are a few methods that can be used to do this. The following are some suggestions on how to get rid of black beard algae in an aquarium:
1. Algae Scrapers
One of the most common methods of removing black beard algae is to use an algae scraper. This is simply a tool that is specifically designed for scraping off the algae from surfaces and decorations in the tank. To use it, simply take the scraper and scrape off any visible algae and then rinse off the scraper in the tank. It is recommended to do this two to three times a week until the algae is completely gone.
2. Chemical Algae Inhibitors
Another method of removing black beard algae is to use chemical inhibitors. These are chemicals that are added to the water of the tank and act on the algae, causing it to die off. There are a range of these inhibitors available on the market and they should be used with caution. It is advised to read the instructions and use the product in accordance with these directions.
3. Improve Tank Water Quality
The best way to tackle black beard algae is to make sure that the tank water is kept in good condition. This means testing the water regularly and making sure that the levels of phosphate and nitrates are kept at the correct levels. This will help to prevent the black beard algae from taking over in the first place and also help to keep other aquatic life happy and healthy.
Preventing black beard algae from returning
Once the black beard algae has been removed from the tank, it is important to take measures to prevent it from returning. The following are some steps that you can take to make sure that black beard algae does not become a reoccurring issue for your tank:
1. Perform Regular Maintenance
It is important to keep on top of the maintenance of the tank in order to ensure black beard algae does not return. This includes regular water tests, cleaning of surfaces and decorations, and performing other maintenance tasks such as changing the filter and removing debris.
2. Maintain Good Water Quality
As mentioned above, it is important to make sure that the water quality of the tank is kept in good condition. This means testing the water regularly and making sure that the levels of phosphate and nitrates are kept at the correct levels.
3. Keep Unwanted Nutrients Out
One of the causes of black beard algae is an abundance of unwanted nutrients in the tank. Therefore, it is important to try and keep these out of the tank. This means making sure that no dead plant or animal matter is left in the tank, as this can introduce unwanted nutrients and feed the algae.
4. Reduce Tank Lighting
It is also important to be mindful of the lighting levels of the tank, as this can encourage the growth of black beard algae. Try to reduce the lighting to a level suitable for the fish and other aquatic life in the tank and turn off any lighting when the tank is not in use.
Using Fish To Remove Black Beard Algae
An interesting and effective method of controlling black beard algae is to use fish to remove it. There are certain fish species, such as Siamese Algae Eaters and Otocinclus Catfish, that have a diet that includes algae. However, it is important to be mindful when using these fish as they may eat too much of the algae and end up damaging the tank.
Using PlantLife To Prevent Black Beard Algae
Using plants to combat black beard algae is a great way to do this. Adding plants to a tank can be beneficial in many ways, including providing oxygen and making the aquarium look better. The plants will also compete with the algae for nutrients, meaning that the algae will not be able to thrive.
Ensure The Right Tank Conditions
It is also important to ensure that the tank is kept in the right conditions for the fish and other aquatic life. This means keeping the temperature and pH levels at the correct levels for the species in the tank, as well as making sure that the tank is not overstocked with too much fish. All of these factors can help to reduce the risk of black beard algae taking over.
Black beard algae can be a difficult problem to overcome, but if the right steps are taken then it is possible to get rid of it. The most important thing is to take measures to prevent it from coming back, such as making sure that the water is kept in good condition and checking for unwanted nutrients. Additionally, it is also possible to use algae eating fish, or even plants, to help to combat the problem. If these methods are followed then it will help to keep black beard algae from taking over the tank.