Algae has long been the bane of the lives of aquascapers – seen as a nemesis of the planted tank, a defect of perfection and an undesirable, so the title of this article may seem surprising.
Nevertheless, when we are creating a Nature Aquarium we must remember that we are trying to re-create Nature, and as such, a subtle change in attitude must be adopted: rather than focussing on crystal clear water and medicated fish, we instead focus on re-creating a natural environment within the aquarium.
Since algae is a natural element it follows from this that we will, in creating a natural environment, be creating an environment in which algae will grow.
So the most important thing in working with algae, is to first understand that it is part of the natural environments that we are striving to create. Once this is understood, a more balanced, holistic attitude can be adopted in its place, which allows algae to be considered in a far more modern light.
Healthy natural environments, in the wild, are not free from algae nor are they over run with algae. They only become over run with algae when an imbalance occurs within the eco-system. In the planted tank, these imbalances can also occur and lead to outbreaks of algae. The eco-system of a planted is a fine balance of CO2, fertilisers and light. When this balance is correct, then algae will be minimal.
Therefore the most important thing to consider when working with algae is to ensure that the balance of your aquarium is right. Often too little CO2 is a common cause of algae outbreaks, because it means that the plants fail to thrive and therefore cannot absorb all of the nutrients from the water which allows algae to flourish and take hold. A lack of light can have a similar effect. But even when algae does take hold of your aquarium, do not worry, because the balance can be corrected again by simply adjusting the levels of light, CO2 and nutrients in the aquarium.
There are also some additional techniques that can be very helpful in dealing with algae:
- Algae eating fish can be domiciled in the aquarium. These will naturally reduce the levels of algae.
- Good fertiliser – try the ADA Brighty Step Series, which represents excellent value since the dosing requirements are much lower than those needed by other fertilisers.
- Good substrate – may not seem obvious at first but plants grow well
- Twinstar Nano – these nifty little items sit discreetly in your aquarium, especially if you place them strategically so that they are obscured by plants or hardscape, and significantly reduce the algae in your aquarium. The exact science behind them is being kept a bit of a mystery at the moment, and we’re not surprised they are keeping it Top Secret given how effective they are. We had one of these on test in The Green Machine for a substantial time and James Findley himself was satisfied with the results.
- Algexit – this is a very useful liquid that can be added to the aquarium to reduce algae.