How To Fight Spirogyra Algae In Your Aquarium

Slimy Texture Of Spirogyra Algae
Slimy Texture Of Spirogyra Algae (Photo Copyright: @natureinapt On Instagram)

How to control and get rid of green hair algae is a common issue that should be against by some aquarists. This group has four genera, including Rhizoclonium, Oedogonium, Cladophora, and Spirogyra algae, that usually appear inside the aquarium.

One member under this category can grow to reach about 20 cm, even though there is a species that only get a couple of millimeters. Most of them commonly have a light green color and turn brown when they die.

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If left untreated, they will grow quickly and take over your tank only for a few weeks or even days. These algae will bring many issues, not only for plants and fish but also for the equipment (for example, clogging the filters or pumps and crashing the nitrogen cycle).

In this article, we just focused on discussing spirogyra algae, so you will know deeper about them, starting from their characteristics, what causes them, and the main point is how to avoid and remove them from the aquarium.


What Is Spirogyra Algae?

Spirogyra algae are a member of the most common freshwater unicellular green filamentous algae group that grows in long and colonies, making them seem to be multicellular under the family of Zygnemataceae.

These algae have some common names as their alternative identity, and it’s more popular which accepted by universal, including water silk, pond scum, pond silk, mermaid’s tresses, mermaid hair, and blanket weed.

They have more than different 400 species that are distributed to all regions in the world, primarily found in freshwater habitats, but some of them can live in a brackish environment.

In nature, spirogyra alga usually inhabits ditches, shallow ponds, lakes, and other water streams with stagnant water.

A Massive Spirogyra Algae Attaching On Aquatic Plants
A Massive Spirogyra Algae Attaching On Aquatic Plants (Photo Copyright:

Water silk commonly looks as unbranched free-floating green slimy patches among the vegetations or on the ground near the water bodies. Their width is approximately 10-100 micrometers, with bodies’ length reaching around 16 inches (15 cm) or more.

They are known as the short-lived (ephemeral) algae species, grow in the ponds during the wet season and then dry up when the weather changes.

Every cell has two layers; the outer walls form from pectin, which absolutely dissolves in the water, causing them to be slimy, while the inner ones are composed of cellulose.

Pond scums do not arise in polluted water; they prefer clear eutrophic water containing rich nutrients and light.

Another unique characteristic of spirogyra algae is that they have chloroplasts like a ribbon arranged in a spiral form inside their cells, presenting a glistening view in the water.

Their propagation is faster; they also can reproduce themselves with two methods vegetative (cell division) or conjugation (sexual).

Read Also: How To Kill Staghorn Algae


Is The Spirogyra Algae Harm For Aquarium Plants?

Most tropical algae types are harmful when growing out of control, including these spirogyra algae.

Depending on their growth habit, they can cover most parts of the tank just for a few days if you leave them without treatments,

They might have a fragile structure when you touch them out, but removing them from the tank is pretty tricky, mainly algae forms that attach to plants.

If the floating forms are too much on the surface, they can block the light and make the plants underneath not optimally photosynthesize.

The spirogyra algae also absorb more macro-nutrients and carbon dioxide in water, making the plants suffer more and may not survive.

But, if the populations still can be tolerant and you perform something that can handle their numbers, it can be OK. Having a tiny clump alga is normal in aquascaping world; it’s part of the natural environment.

Read Also: Is Red Spot Algae Dangerous?


Is The Spirogyra Algae Danger For Fish?

The answer depends on the population numbers. A massive algae level outbreak can actually injure the fish and other creatures. They can create more problems in many ways, starting from a stopped filtration system, reducing the oxygen level, and even stirring the fungus and bacteria to bloom, making your fish sick.

On the other side, a little bit of population can offer some benefits for some fish species. They can serve an additional extra food for algivore species. Besides, a small water silk spot probably provides a hiding place for shrimps fries or other tiny species from the predators.

However, having a few spirogyra algae inside the aquarium is normal, but it’s still unsightly. So, keep reading this article; we will guide you to prevent and kill them from your beloved planted tank.

Read Also: The Best Ways To Beat Fuzz Algae In The Aquarium


Common Causes Of Spirogyra Algae

Before you take a step to avoid or deal with these algae, learning more profound about the leading causes is the key. By doing it, the chance of success to fight with them will be higher.

There are four principal points that can encourage the spirogyra algae to develop in your aquarium; here the lists:

Spirogyra Algae Under Microscope
Spirogyra Algae Under Microscope (Photo Copyright: @microkarma7)


Excessive Lighting Intensity

Too much light duration and strength level is a general cause that can stimulate most tropical aquarium algae types to bloom.

It helps the spirogyra to photosynthesize intensively, making their reproduction rate higher. An aquarium that has a long period of lighting prone to invade by the algae.


Too Much Organic Waste

An accumulation of organic wastes from fish feces, leftover food, inadequate water changes, and dead leaves is another way to invite the algae to spread in your fish tank.

It often creates a base for the spirogyra cells to extend and wait for a perfect condition to bloom.

A lot of organic waste can also bring other problems that risk plants and fish, such as becoming a location for negative bacteria and fungus to establish.

Read Also: How To Stop Green Dust Algae Grow In The Aquarium


High Concentration Of Micronutrients

The fluctuating or too many micronutrients such as an iron compound can cause the “mermaid hair” to evolve in home aquaria.

An imbalance between plants population and nutrient amounts makes the remaining substances build up and float in water without organisms absorbing it.

This condition gives a perfect opportunity for the spirogyra algae to consume the remains and raise their entities there.


Bad Water Circulation System

A weak filtration system generates slow-moving and still water flowing. It may deliver some dead spots inside the aquarium, which is their favorite zones to establish.

If the three leading causes above combine in the same place, it is a perfect environment for spirogyra algae plague are blow up inside the aquarium.

Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Green Spot Algae In An Aquarium


How To Prevent The Spirogyra Algae Inside An Aquarium

You can try some tips and tricks below to avoid these algae entering your freshwater tank. It also helps your tank always in an excellent performance and healthy. Let’s see:


Keep Some Algivores To Guard Your Tank

An algae eater crew not only offers protection from algae but also shows a beautiful view and sometimes presents a funny behavior that can entertain the owner.

Amano shrimps and Florida flagfish are believed effectively to against the low-med outbreak level of these algae. They can reduce the population numbers significantly if you keep them in more numbers.

While other algae eater species such as otocinclus and nerite snails choose to ignore them, keep it in your mind that an individual is unique and different. One of them may accept or leave these algae.


Give A Correct Lighting Duration

Cutting off the lighting period can hold the algae growth. You can use a smart aquarium LED lamp to facilitate the light amount and timing.

Set up it according to the needed; even some aquarium lamps are integrated with a smartphone making it is more practical and easiest to adjust. So, you won’t feel worried if you are on vacation.

Remember, too little light also can lead to another algae problem (for example, brown algae). A standard lighting period is commonly around 7-10 hours per day; if your tank is still affected by these algae, use this rule, lessen more, or even turn off it for a few days.

Make sure to maintain your aquarium from direct sunlight. It will raise the lighting and temperature, creating a suitable environment for algae to grow.

Read Also: 5 Effective Ways To Get Rid Of Ramshorn Snails In The Aquarium


Regular Maintenance

Spending about 1-2 hours per week on routine aquarium maintenance is vital to prevent common issues, including algae problems.

The main goal of this chapter is a stable and balanced fish tank. And the result of it is everything is running correctly, and your aquarium populations are healthy.

Here are a series of tasks that you should perform during this session:

  • Trimming the overcrowded aquatic plants helps to avoid decomposing leaves. The utilization of aquascape scissors is required to facilitate this step.
  • Siphoning the organic dirt on the substrate, you will need a gravel cleaner tool to help pick it up.
  • Cleaning the wall glass and other equipment such as filter tube, chiller, decoration, etc. An old toothbrush can be used to erase any stain on aquarium devices, while to wipe off the tank glass, you can purchase a magnetic brush cleaner.
  • After that is water change, this is a significant factor to maintain your stay healthy. You should avoid using tap water because it usually contains many harmful substances ( for example, iron and manganese).
  • Instead, use distilled water, which is safer for plants and other creatures inside tanks. You can convert the tap water into purified water using an RO water system, for aquarium use to save more money.
  • The last is injecting regular fertilizer and carbon dioxide. It will stimulate the plants to grow well and produce more oxygen.


Keep Monitoring

Always check the water quality periodically. Use your favorite test kit to inspect, do not forget to apply a CO2 checker at wall glass to watch out for the CO2 level.

Ensure there is no dead spot inside the fish tank and receive sufficient light. Canister filter and smart aquarium lamp are two pieces of equipment that really offer a good contribution to achieving that goal.

This filter can hold the CO2 tightly, while the lamp offers a simple adjustment to the aquarium owners for supplying the light to the tank, both timing, and intensity.

An ideal planted tank usually has a standard water parameter like this:

  • Nitrate= 10-25 mg/l
  • CO2= 20-30 mg/l
  • Phosphate= 0.1-1 mg/l
  • Potassium= 5-10 mg/l
  • Magnesium= >10 mh/l
  • PH : 7-7.5

Read Also: Freshwater Amazon Pufferfish Caresheet


How To Get Rid Of The Spirogyra Algae From Your Aquarium

Looking at your tank affected by spirogyra algae invasion makes you absolutely frustrated, especially the stubborn ones. They make the tank look weird and bother populations there.

You are in the right place; below are some methods you can try to fight with them. Let’s see it:

Long Form Of Spirogyra Algae Inside Blackwater Tank
Long Form Of Spirogyra Algae Inside Blackwater Tank (Photo Copyright: @garrett.everett.blackwater)


Remove Them Manually

Erasing them manually is the first simple action to reduce their populations.

Although this way can not remove algae entirely, at least you were eliminating a couple of them inside the tank. So you are just thinking about a suitable move to kill them completely next.

What kind of job should you perform in this chapter?

The first is eradicating the water silk using algae scrapper as well as possible. This commonly includes scratching some clumps attached to an object and winding up the free-floating form like cotton candy on a stick.

Next option is to perform a blackout for a few days (commonly about three days). Do not overfeed your fish during this session; make sure to switch off the CO2 injection and light, and do not add fertilizer. Instead, install an air pump to raise the oxygen level in the water.

Once the blackout is complete, remove all dead algae and leaves, perform a water change until 50% or less (If you keep a shrimp tank, just cut only 10% ). Then, turn on the CO2, reduce the lighting period to 2-4 hours, cut the fertilizer doses to at least 50%, and add more algae eaters to help clean up the remaining algae.

You may need more effort to do all steps above, but if you do that, seriousness and carefully will present a great result.

Read Also: “Carinotetraodon Travancoricus” The Smallest Freshwater Puffer Fish


Killing The Algae With Liquid Carbon

A conventional liquid carbon under the label “Seachem Flourish Excel” proven can treat almost freshwater algae aquarium type properly.

This product is also easy to find and available in most aquarium online stores. Annihilate the algae spirogyra using this liquid is very simple; Just fill up a syringe with a few doses (we normally use 5 ml/day), then shoot directly to a cluster of algae.

Repeat this process for a couple of days until the algae die and remove them. Many aquarists are helped with this product; if you are looking for a technique to treat them effortlessly, this is an answer.


H2O2 Treatment

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is the most potent medication for treating every aquarium algae, but utilizing this product is unsuggested because it contains some contents which are not safe for plants.

It can eradicate spirogyra algae quickly without consuming more effort and time. Most aquarists abandon this method instead of eliminating algae but lose some plants too.

As an alternative, you use algae removal for aquarium use, such as “API Algaefix and Tetra Algae Control.” This product is safe for aquarium populations and easy to use. It may not be too powerful like hydrogen peroxide, but you surely want not to destroy your own plants.

Read Also: Clea Helena The Assassin Of Aquarium Pest Snails

Here is the guide for applying the hydrogen peroxide and seachem flourish excel into the aquarium (contain high risk, not suitable for beginner and shrimp aquarium):

Day 1:

  • Decrease the lighting time to 4 hours.
  • Clean up the algae manually as much you can.
  • Do a considerable water change around 50%-80% and remove all floating algae particles and dead leaves.
  • Install an air pump to increase the oxygen level.
  • Switch off the filters, recommended removing the filter media as a way to protect the beneficial bacteria.
  • Create a mixture of seachem excel and 3% hydrogen peroxide with a ratio of 50/50.
  • Then, use this mixture at one milliliter per gallon (4.5 liters) and stir the water softly to spread it.
  • Leave it to work and wait for around 1 hour; after that, put the filter media back and turn on the filter again.

Day 2 and day 3:

  • Still provide the lighting duration about 4-5 hours.
    Perform a water change and give an additional bacterial supplement dose.
  • Turn off the filter.
  • Add 1 ml dose of the mixture per 1 gallon.
  • Wait for a single hour, then turn on back the filter.

By doing this treatment, you will see the following results below:

  • Several algae start going to shorter, pale and recede.
  • Some dead spirogyra algae patches.
  • At this point, you can start gradually raising the lighting period and intensity.

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