How to Clean Algae from Fish Tank


Like every other pet, fish too requires care, love, and commitment. A few regular maintenance jobs are the best thing you can do to keep your fish healthy and happy always. Cleaning your fish tank regularly, which includes partial water changes and water testing, are all easy and do it yourself tasks.

Every aquarium owner faces the issue of algae growth in the near future. While some algae grow naturally and are healthy, however, excess of algae growth is fatal to fish and plants. Algae may appear as greenish, reddish, or brownish residue which appears unsightly. They often creep on the gravel, accessories, plants, and glass of the aquarium. There are solutions to avoid this overgrowth.

Don’t fret if you have spotted algae in your tank. The meager appearance or growth of algae in your fish tank is all normal. But, it should be a concern when this algae grows out of control and covers everything. Wipe the inside of your tank with a sponge or any similar wipe free from chemicals and soaps to get rid of algae or dirt build-up. The following article in detail deals with how to clean algae from fish tanks.

Also Read: 10 Best Fish Tanks to Buy for Beginners

How to Clean Algae From Fish Tank Glass

When it comes to freshwater aquariums, algae are a fact of life. Given the right conditions – light, carbon dioxide, and nutrients, it covers almost every surface. No matter how much you try to limit its growth, you’ll always find some in your tank, including your glass. The answer to how to get rid of algae in a fish tank naturally is you can add one or two algae eating fish in your tank, but there will come a time when you will have to opt for cleaning.

But, how to remove algae from fish tank glass? Give your glass a good cleaning by scraping it from inside using an algae glass pad. From magnetic to long-handled scrubbers, there is a myriad of scrubbers that tend to remove almost all of the green algae on aquarium glass. Ensure that the algae glass scrapers do not contain any soap or chemical residue because they are fatal for your fish.

In the case of stubborn residue, it is recommended to use a razor blade to get rid of the same. While using the pads and razor, exercise caution, so neither you injure yourself nor the glass on your tank scratch or crack. Use a plastic razor if your aquarium is acrylic for standard razors will leave a scratch on the glass.

Remember that even by using a pad and razor regularly, the growth of algae cannot be prevented. It will only give you time to remedy the enablers that leads to the growth of algae.

Must Check: 15 Best Freshwater Aquarium Plants

How to Get Rid of Algae in Fish Tank Naturally

Following are some of the ways on how to get rid of algae in fish tank naturally:

STOCK ALGAE EATING FISH – Algae eaters have always been an integral part of the life of those who own an aquarium. But, this does not mean that fish will clean everything. Fish and critters can only do the work of controlling the algae from getting worse. However, if the situation is worse, they too cannot save you. Rubber nose pleco, Chinese Algae Eater, little otocinclus, critters like apple snails are a few popular algae eating fish.

STOP OVERFEEDING – Overfeeding results in the accumulation of waste due to uneaten food and the waste produced by the fish due to excessive eating. Remember, our appetites are much bigger than their stomach. Algae growth is directly related to overfeeding. Due to the accumulation of large quantities of dissolved organic material, phosphates, and nitrates in water, the red and blue-green algae multiply in number.

CHANGE THE WATER REGULARLY – Along with limiting feeding, ensure that you regularly change the water and carry out the tank maintenance. Every week try to change at least 10-15 percent of your aquarium water. It is one of the best ways to clean algae from fish tanks. This removes the nitrates from the aquarium, one of the main fertilizers of the plant. It will take a few minutes. And your fish will have healthier water and less “alga food.”

LIMIT THE LIGHTING – Avoid direct sunlight to control algae growth. If the aquarium is near the window, and it does not receive direct sunlight then too algae will grow faster. Leaving the aquarium lights switched ON for more than 8 hours can also lead to the growth of algae. To manufacture Vitamin D, fish require no less than 6 hours of light every day. While feeding, switch on the lights, because fish do not feed in dark aquariums.

USE LIVE PLANTS – The aquariums with a lot of plantations rarely face the problem of algae. This is because aquatic plants tend to kill the nutrients from the water. Live plants are one of the best ways to clean algae from fish tanks. However, they work when they are dense in number. Hornwort, wisteria, and teardrop rotala are a few most effective plants that keep algae at bay. They should not be placed in tanks that contain herbivorous fish.

You May Also Like: 10 Most Pretty & Colourful Freshwater Fish

How to Clean Algae from Decorative Items

Decorative items add details, colors, and make the plain glass container look attractive. But with time, even algae accumulate over these decorations thus making them look dirty. The fish tank decorations need to be cleaned carefully and regularly to protect the health of fish and other marine creatures. In the following lines, we have in brief dealt with how to clean algae from fish tank decorations:

TANK GRAVEL – The dreaded gravel algae is very active and spreads in no time. They create a fragile layer on gravel and glass tanks. They are very easy to clean and prevent. When it comes to cleaning the gravel, there are several options – with or without a vacuum kit. Based on the type and situation, you can choose the method.

AQUARIUM ROCKS – If you see black, green, blue, red, stringy, or puffy algae growing on aquarium rocks or other decorative items, you need to get rid of it ASAP. Remove the decor one-by-one, use a gravel vacuum to get rid of debris, use a toothbrush to scrub the rocks, create a bleach solution, rinse the decorations thoroughly, and put them back.

PLANT – Artificial plants are easy to clean given the fact they won’t die. Simply shake off the plant to get rid of the debris. You can also use your fingers to brush off the accumulated waste. If nothing works, take out the plant one by one from the tank, wash them under running tap water and place them back.

BASEMENT – To clean algae from the basement of the fish tank, you’ll have to clear the filter and decorations while letting the debris to set in. Start taking out the water when you see that the water level has reached ⅓; stop there. Use the algae pad to clean the basement. Once done, fill the water but do check the temperature and let the fish live healthily.


Follow the above-mentioned solutions for how to clean algae from the fish tank and see the changes in the algae situation. You’ll be happy to witness immediate difference: the algae won’t grow back on the front glass as it used to be earlier. Soon on the decorative item, you’ll find only a thin line of algae. It will not entirely go off in one go. You’ll have to be regular in cleaning the fish tank.

One thing you’ll learn from algae is little efforts make a lot of changes, and they go a long way!!

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