Causes and Cures For Beard Algae In Your Aquarium

Beard Algae In Your Aquarium

Beard algae which is more popularly referred to as brush algae, because of its soft, slippery and furry nature is an algae plant in the red algae family. This beard algae usually grows in dense patches, mostly on plants and surfaces in an aquarium.

However, the primary cause of a beard algae is from contaminated plants, decor items and substrate introduced into the tank. Coupled with a tank with reduced carbon dioxide levels and too much light will enable brush or beard algae to grow uncontrollably.

What is Beard Algae

Beard algae, sometimes also called brush algae or simply BBA, are freshwater algae that bloom in water with extreme carbon dioxide and nitrogen concentrations. These beard algae, which carry the scientific name ‘Audouinella’, are in the Rydophyta algae family and bloom naturally in lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams.

Also they grow in indoor aquariums and can be a specifically nuisance for fish owners as they are highly difficult to eradicate and remove.

Causes of Beard Algae

The basic cause of beard infestation is from decor items, contaminated plants or substrate introduced into the tank.  Coupled with an aquarium with reduced carbon dioxide levels and too much light will enable brush algae to develop or  grow uncontrollably.

Left unchecked, beard algae will very fast or quickly take over any surface it can get a hold of.  In additional, it is essential to note that the algae spreads quicker in unattended fish tanks.

Tank keepers should make sure that there’s balance in the aquarium in terms of nutrients, lights, and carbon dioxide levels, as well as maintaining regular water changes. Make sure this will eradicate the breeding habitat for any unwanted algae.

C02 & Beard Algae

Unstable C02 levels one of the leading causes of beard algae growing unchecked.

If your tank has inadequate water circulation, or if your CO2 levels aren’t at a sufficient level, or the levels fluctuate, then that is creating an environment that is suitable and perfect for beard algae growth.

Adding sufficient C02 to your tank to reach the perfect level should be your number one priority. If you are using injected C02, your canister might be running low, or you are not injecting the right quantity.

Also, if you are not running a C02 injector, however, you may need to look at other methods of adding additional C02. A major water change can be suffice to seriously impact your C02 level, so this might have been what’s causing the outbreak of beard algae in your aquarium.

If this sums up your current situation, and you’ve an tank with live plants, then you may add liquid carbon. It is a form of “liquid carbon” which is very easy and simple to add to any tank. While it will not necessarily raise carbon levels in your aquarium by any measurable amount, it still works against brush algae, and a lot of people used it to successfully kill beard algae.

Cures for Beard Algae

Affected plants can be soaked for 2 to 3 minutes in a 10% bleach solution to kill any beard algae on them. (Never pour bleach into a tank!) Eliminate profoundly affected leaves. Gravel, bleach rocks, and any other items that exhibit growth of the beard algae. Stock the aquarium with a Siamese algae eater.

As many variety of fish are sold under Siamese algae eater, ensure to buy the proper species… Other species of fish don’t eat beard algae. If other options fail, you can treat with copper according to the manufacturer’s directions. Copper, however, can have adverse effects on particular plants as well as fish and should be used with caution.

Adhere or follow a strict plan for aquarium maintenance weekly. Changing the water every week is necessary to replenish lost minerals and to stabilize the pH to shun an overly acidic environment. Clean debris consistently and do not overfeed.

When brush algae attach in the aquarium, it can be hard to separate it from the glass, gravel, and silicon seams. It requires lots of elbow grease to eliminate it from hard surfaces. Try a magnetic scraper, razor, or toothbrush along with a spray treatment such as Metricide or Seachem Excel.

How to Prevent Beard Algae

Prevention they say is better than any cure.  You rather take some precautions to prevent beard algae growth rather than taking high measures to get rid of it.

The chances of being susceptible to a recurring of algae in your tank are higher if you have had it once. Below steps can be carried out to prevent almost any kind of beard algae outbreak, not just black beard.

  • Quarantine new fish and do not allow the water they came in to mix with your tank water.  This is most effective at preventing any parasites or disease but it may go some way to defeat or reducing the chances of some beard algae breeds from being introduced into your aquarium.
  • Clean new plants with an hydrogen peroxide bath. It can be very exciting to add a new plant to your tank. But, strongly suggest before adding any new plants treating them with a hydrogen peroxide bath. This will assist in preventing algae as well as a host of other diseases and parasites.
  • Only use fish and plants bought from reputable stores. Most fish stores will have protocols and established methods and procedures for preventing transferring hitchhikers to customer tanks.
  • Never take animals and plants from the wild. Not only would that be ecologically harmful, but you never know what might be lurking on or in them.
  • Monitor your light levels, and do not allow your lights to stay on for too long. Excessive light will almost guarantee beard algae.
  • Plant live plants to provide beard algae some competition for nutrients. Not only is this great for the plant ecosystem and the health of your fish, but it can go a long way to prevent all types of algae growth.
  • Perform regular water changes. However, you should be carrying out a 10 – 30 percent water change every 1 to 2 weeks. If you are not, then you need to begin doing this as soon as possible.
  • Use a filter that’s powerful enough for your tank. A filter will make sure a sufficient flow of water around your aquarium and aid regulate phosphate levels. It is a must, regardless of the size or type of aquarium you have.
  • Carb up. Do not add pasta to your tank, but ensure your aquarium has sufficient CO2 content. Seachem Excel can be used to combat beard algae, and it is even better if used as a preventative.


However, to avoid beard algae entering your aquarium through fish, quarantine, or separate new fish for at least two days. When placing them in the aquarium, net the fish rather than dumping them out of the bag, so no bag water enters your aquarium. Soak newly bought plants protectively for two to three minutes in a 10% bleach solution to kill any beard algae on them. Also, purchase fish and plants from a reputable local fish store.