Bearded algae in the aquarium

  1. Bearded algae belong to the red algae family. If the conditions are right, they thrive well and like to settle on different surfaces. If they take over, the tank becomes unsightly and the other inhabitants suffer.

Recognize Bearded Algae

Particularly in the case of a severe infestation, beard algae form long and sometimes curled threads that are reminiscent of curly whiskers. If the algae are still young, they are easily confused with thread algae because of their shape and green colour. As they develop, the green colour changes and the algae acquire the characteristic dark green to dark grey or black colouring.

Bearded algae form fine rhizoids with which they root on various substrates. They occupy the leaf edges of plants as well as furnishings and decorative objects.

It is very easy to check whether the plants are really the algae species. For this purpose they are placed in alcohol. If the colour changes to a reddish shade, they are red algae or bearded algae.

Causes for the occurrence of beard algae

The transfer of the algae species into an aquarium is done by plants. Preferred settlement areas include places with strong water movement and a high oxygen content. Likewise, too large filters favour the growth. Whether the algae really find a breeding ground for their development in the tank depends on various conditions:

Lack of CO2: If there is too little CO2 in the water, the bearded algae feel comfortable. Especially in newly created aquariums, in which little plant growth takes place, infestation is to be expected. Slow growing plants (all mosses and various fern species) also support the growth of algae.

If the CO2 content is low, the growth of regular aquarium plants stagnates. In contrast, the bearded algae satisfy their need for carbon by biogenic decalcification from the carbonate hardness. As a result, they benefit from the deficiency and thrive all the better.
The growth of the algae can be counteracted by frequent water changes and the use of CO2.

Poor nitrate value: An important trigger for strong algae growth is an excessively high nitrate value. This is usually caused by overfeeding the fish and the resulting mulm on the bottom gravel.

Exposure to iron and trace elements: Bearded algae often occur with an unbalanced content of these substances. The plants should be supported in the absorption of iron and trace elements with a low chelated fertilizer.

Remedies and countermeasures for beard algae

Once a red algae spreads in the aquarium, it is difficult to get rid of it. Consistent countermeasures are needed:

– Remove the bearded algae completely.
Use natural means to fight

Remove the beard algae completely

An effective countermeasure against beard algae or red algae is the complete removal and cleaning of the infested plant parts. No cells should be left behind, otherwise the algae will immediately develop and spread again.

To ensure that all cells disappear, the entire infested parts must also be cleaned with boiling water and brushed off.

The water flow and the filter should also be taken into account. The current must not be too strong and the filter not too large.

Use the natural means of control

The direct and sustainable way to get rid of beard algae is to use the predators or higher stem plants.

The predators include:

– Shrimp,
Siamese barbels,

However, the introduction of the animals into the aquarium should be planned for the long term.

Stem plants include

  • Hornwort
  • Water pollution
  • Grease leaf
  • brazilian mossweed
  • argentine water plague
  • tropical crest
  • indian feather duster or water star
  • small and large water lover

These higher plants thrive well with a lot of CO2. They reduce the food supply of the bearded algae and slow down their unrestrained growth in the long term.

Fertilizing the water with CO2 can also help. It compensates for a temporary lack of CO2, thereby promoting the growth of higher plants and producing oxygen.

Avoid algae infestation

Algae belong to a living and natural aquarium. But once they are there and spread unrestrained, they are difficult to control. Although there are plenty of good remedies and countermeasures, prevention remains the best countermeasure! An overview of the requirements:

– let sufficiently higher plants grow in the aquarium –
feed the inhabitants with care and avoid leftover food (mulm) on the bottom of the aquarium if possible –
change the water or a part of it regularly

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