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Protect your fish and aquarium from algae growth | Pets

Budding aquarium enthusiasts crop up every day. They're anxious to head to the pet store and pick out a tank, accessories and the fish they hope will thrive in a new environment.

While it's important to know which fish can cohabitate and the proper pH and temperature to keep the tank, one important lesson all people who have an aquarium should know is how to keep algae in check.

Algae is a naturally occurring plant life that creates a green film on the inside of tank walls and on plants and decorations inside the aquarium. Just like any other plant, algae requires a few things to thrive, including light, water and food.

Although a certain amount of algae in the water can be a beneficial food source for some species of fish, an overabundance can be unsightly and take over the aquarium.

There are a few reasons why algae can grow unchecked.

  • Algae needs light to survive. Leaving a fluorescent aquarium light on too long or placing the tank in the path of direct sunlight can cause algae to bloom.
  • Introducing new live plants to a tank, which already may have algae spores hitching a ride on them, can introduce more algae to the tank.
  • Overfeeding fish can provide extra food sources for algae, as can failing to frequently clean the filter.
  • Water with a high level of nutrients will provide a lot of food for algae.

Understanding why algae forms will help you control it effectively. To start, get in the habit of cleaning the tank frequently. Once a week may be acceptable, depending on size. Scrape the walls of the aquarium and remove the artificial plants and other accessories and routinely wash in clean water. Change the filter cartridge when it has become overly soiled.

Perform water changes. Change 10 to 15 percent of the water in the aquarium every week, which will remove toxins and algae spores. When you change the water, use a suction tube to "vacuum" out debris lodged in the gravel.

Limiting the food sources for algae can also keep it in check. Feed a scant amount of food to fish, only enough that they can eat in five minutes or so. If there is extra food floating around, remove it. The food contains phosphates and other nutrients that can be a delicious meal for algae. Keeping live plants in the tank is another way to limit nutrients. Live plants will use many of the nutrients that algae thrive on.

Routinely test the levels in the water and know what the proper levels should be. In addition, know what your water levels are right out of the tap. Test for phosphates and nitrates. Use phosphate removers or another water source, if necessary.

Make sure to include algae-eating fish in the aquarium. Those like the Plecostomus (Pleco) will scour the tank for algae.

Position the tank out of direct sunlight, which will fuel algae growth. Also, go sparingly on the use of an aquarium light in the tank.

Algae often grow in warm temperatures, as is common with tropical aquariums. Keep the temperature of the water at the minimum level allowed for the breed of fish, and be sure the tank is not by a radiator or additional heat source.

Keeping aquarium fish can be an enjoyable hobby and a nice focal point for a room. To ensure the health of the tank, be sure to manage the amount of algae in the aquarium.

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