Preventing Algae Growth
Algae are not entirely bad for a fish tank and in many cases people tend to mistake non-algae to be algae. Algae tend to thrive in a healthy aquarium and over time, grow in a hair-like manner. New, and even unhealthy, tanks tend to have red or brown algae as a sign of imbalance in the eco-system within the aquarium. Algae are quite natural and its growth, in aquariums, is also a natural process. Light, nutrients and water are, as in the case of plants, essential for algae to thrive and these are usually abundant in the aquarium’s environment.
To limit its growth, algae needs to receive lesser light. Whether near sunlight or an artificial light source, any lights kept on for more than 8 hours in a day will aid the growth of algae. Fish require only 6 hours of consistent light, at scheduled time-slots, to manufacture Vitamin D. A timer allows the lights to be switched off at late nights when it is unlikely that anyone would be around to admire the fish tank. It is advisable to feed the fish in the same cycle as the lighting as fish do not feed in the dark.
Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium are the three main nutrients that algae need to survive. There are many sources of these nutrients such as fish waste, decaying organic debris such as plant debris or dead algae and even uneaten food. Tap water also contains a lot of phosphorous while water changes can build up nitrogen levels. External filters and reverse osmosis can be used to tackle these issues.
There are certain algae-eating fish and snails that can also be employed to do the job.(Clean up crew!) However, there are certain drawbacks. You may end up with too many snails because these freshwater species tend to multiply like rabbits. So while the algae problem is dealt with, the snail population may overwhelm the tank. Algae-eating fish are not solely dependent on algae for their food and if they are well-fed, they tend to ignore the algae altogether. While certain other invertebrates such as hermit crabs, snails and sea urchins do the job well, they are salt-water creatures and cannot survive in normal tanks.
If the tank happens to be for salt-water wish, then the problem of saving these expensive algae cleaners rises as most salt-water fishes tend to consider crabs, sea urchins and snails as a delectable meal.
There are many specialized instruments available to prevent the growth of algae such as Ultraviolet Sterilizers, Resin Exchange Filters, Algae Scrubbers, and many more. There are other basic steps that owners need to take care off, to prevent algae growth. These basically include some steps like not over-feeding the fish; removing dead fishes immediately and keeping a single piece of rock or coral that is not cleaned over time.
Some simple steps, combined with some drastic ones, may be necessary to maintain a healthy eco-system in a beautiful aquarium. So don’t forget to schedule your aquarium cleaning.