often take two hands, one to hold down
your plant and one to pull off the algae.
You can also remove parts of the plants that
are heavily infested, but you don’t want to
remove too much of the plants, as they are
the warriors in your battle. Good healthy
plants are a key to getting rid of algae.
desired water conditions. Adding CO
will also lower your pH and can be very
beneficial to the plants, but it does require
more tank care.
I like water changes as a next step. Most
aquarium authors encourage them. If you
have a problem with the buildup of excess
nutrients, water changes will help that.
Depending on the water you use, it should
also add some micro-nutrients to the tank.
There are some aquarists who believe this
maintenance technique should be kept to
a minimum in a low-tech tank for various
reasons. One school of thought is that
the water changes disrupt the chemical
composition of the water quickly, giving
the algae the advantage, since it adapts to
changes in the environment faster than
Plants like to get used to one particular
environment and stay that way. Changes
mean their old leaves are no longer
optimal for their surroundings; the more
change, the more they need to drop old
leaves and grow new ones. When they do
so, they expend a lot more energy, and the
old leaves start decomposing and adding
to the problem.
But I still believe that regular water
changes in any tank are good. Twenty
years ago I was in the lesser-water-changes
crowd, but some friends convinced me
to try doing more water changes. I gave
it a try and now believe my fish and
plants have done better because of it—so
I have switched sides and now advocate
regular water changes. I think the benefits
outweigh the possible disadvantages. If you
do them regularly, they won’t cause huge
swings in your tank.
Speaking of water, what’s yours like? In
her book Ecology of the Planted Aquarium
(Echinodorus Publishing, 2003), Diana
Walstad indicates that algae have the
advantage in water that has a high pH. If
you have naturally soft water out of the
tap, that’s a great advantage for you. For
those of us with water like liquid rock,
there are other options. First you can
purchase or filter your own water. RO
water is often used in planted aquariums.
Usually it is mixed with tap or several
additives are mixed with it to achieve the
PLANT SELECTION AND GROWTH
Another option—something that I do
in the majority of my tanks—is to just
grow plants that prefer the rock-like water.
Many plants will do well in this type of
water, including val, hornwort, swords,
Regardless of what type of water you
have, it’s always a good idea to research
your plants. I can’t tell you how many times
people will tell me of their plant-growing
woes and then send me a photo of a dying
house plant in an aquarium. Many emergent
and even terrestrial plants are falsely sold
as aquarium plants. Be sure to research
your plants and fish before purchase, or be
prepared to spend money on things that
just won’t work. You need to have healthy
aquatic plants to compete with your algae.
Hair algae naturally growing in a shallow stream; anything introduced into a tank from another
aquarium or a natural body of water may carry algae along with it.