Black Beard Algae, also referred to as black algae. It belongs to the brush algal family. T may appear greenish or bluish in coloration.
Other than aquariums, it is known to infest pools and ponds, or artificial water bodies. It is very hard to eradicate because of its persistency and tends to recur. It looks like a beard, hence the name Black Beard Algae.
The best approach in dealing with it is to address the core of the infestation. To get rid of the black beard algae in your aquarium you should do the following:
Use Hydrogen Peroxide
An OTC peroxide will suffice. Sensitive plants like Anubias may be damaged by this method. A dilute solution is easy on the plants, but it could take more than one treatment to eradicate the black algae.
Plastic plants can stand a bleach solution of 1:20 ratio. All other visibly affected decors can be soaked for two to three minutes and rinsed thoroughly.
Peroxide does not leave any residue on the plants and rocks, and they can be re-introduced back into the aquarium instantly.
Reduce the Phosphate levels in the water
Phosphates come from decaying matter in the tank. Leftover food, plant decay, and fish waste contribute to the formation of phosphates. The use of carbon filter, PH solutions and aquarium salts are also responsible for the formation of phosphates.
Tap water is the biggest culprit of all the causes of Phosphate (PO4).
Old lead plumbing continues to be used in some cities. Lead poisoning is associated with this type of plumbing, but some local water authorities have devised ways of fighting lead corrosion by adding harmless phosphates to the water to prevent corrosion.
Start by testing the tap water for PO4 levels, which could be the reason behind black beard algae infestation. If the tap water is the genesis of the black algae, then:
- Find another water source that is free of PO4
- Introduce phosphate absorbants to your filter
If your tap water has phosphate levels within the recommended safe levels, then:
- Add floating aquarium plants ( they feed on phosphates)
- Change current fish food to those containing fewer phosphates or none.
- Feed your fish lightly, food leftovers will release phosphates.
- Clean your tank regularly -phosphates build up as a result of food and debris decaying in the aquarium.
- Clear the filter -Filters harbor sludge and muck that spikes PO4 levels.
- Try for filters with phosphate absorbers -This applies to freshwater fish keepers
- Review water conditioners -avoid conditioners that contain PO4 or opt for those low phosphates.
Boost carbon dioxide for aquarium plants
When CO2 drops, aquatic plants will become weak as the black beard algae thrive and the pH of the aquarium will elevate. When the CO2 level in the aquarium is raised, the aquatic plants thrive and the black beard algae weaken making it an attractive snack for algae-eating fish. CO2 can be introduced into the aquarium by injecting it directly from the gas cylinder or through an algaecide.
The recommended level is 20-25 parts per million(ppm) granted that your oxygen levels are in the correct range.
Consider Algae Eating Fish for your Aquarium
Low levels of CO2 tend to harden the black beard algae in your aquarium as it thrives at the expense of aquatic plants Hard algae is not appetizing to the algae-eating fish. By raising CO2 levels the algae weaken and become soft enough to be feasted on by algae-eating fish.
Use Heat Treatment
Get good storage for both aquatic and plant life. You will also need to dip the live plants in hydrogen peroxide to rid them of algae. Set the heater at 110 -120 degrees Fahrenheit and wait for one and a half hours. The black algae will be burned and will eventually die off or get eaten by the algae-eating fish.
Eliminate the photosynthesis process
Black Beard Algae need light to grow and flourish, but so do live plants. If you starve algae light they start to disappear, though this is not permanent. If the light is what makes algae flourish in your aquarium, then this method will work for you at the risk of losing some live plants.
How do Black Algae Find their Way into a Fish Tank?
The algae are introduced to a tank by external sources like fish guts or plants.
There are two primary causes of black algae in fish tanks. These are:-
- Imbalance of the nutrients –for instance, insufficient CO2 in your aquarium makes algae thrive. Too many leftover foods, result in an increase in phosphate levels which is conducive for algae growth.
- Improper lighting –Insufficient light promotes algae growth.
Prevention of Black Algae Outbreak
To avoid a future black beard algae outbreak in your aquarium you need to address the following:-
1) Overfeeding-Excess food for your fish turns into food for algae when left unconsumed by the fish and left to decay. Feed them just enough.
2) Excessive PO4 levels- Keep the levels below 0.25 parts per million (ppm) in the tank and monitor regularly.
3)Aquarium hygiene -Cleaning is essential to avoid nutrient imbalance, which makes algae thrive. All waste hiding in the gravel and filter should be cleaned out.
4) Excess Light -Investigate your plants’ lighting needs and keep them on for as much as needed, and don’t overexpose them to light.
5) Poor CO2 Levels- Healthy plants will out-compete for algae to flourish if allowed the right levels of carbon dioxide. CO2 is essential for live plants. The proper levels promote proper functioning and uptake of nutrients making the plants healthy.
6) Live plants- It is advisable to disinfect live plants or even plastic purchased from a pet shop before introducing them into the aquarium. Utilize hydrogen peroxide solution using the 1:4 ratio.
Black alga is a menace, and a stubborn one at that, however as we have seen in this article, we can triumph over it.