Causes and How to Get Rid of Black Beard Algae (8 Simple Ways)

Causes and How to Get Rid of Black Beard Algae by Aquarium Tales

If not removed properly, black beard algae will stay there for an extended time. Although it has no harmful effects on fish, it will affect plants, decors within the freshwater environment. 

As a result, it is essential to learn how to get rid of black beard algae and get a permanent solution for your aquarium.

There are different methods to cure it effectively, and undertaking appropriate research is necessary. Therefore, this article discusses some of the ways of fixing this issue.

What is Black Beard Algae, and How Do You Identify It? – A Quick Overview

Although it’s known as black beard algae, it belongs to the red brush algal family. Also, you may find blue or green coloration sometimes. 

People often confused black beard algae with staghorn algae, which is similar but a little less bushy. Black beard algae are thick hair-like appearances, and they are so notorious that they keep returning again and again. 

Although some aquarists deliberately cultivate black beard algae to provide hiding places for fish. However, if you don’t like at all, you have to maintain water parameter and adequate lighting to prevent the algae outbreak. 

How to Identify Black Beard Algae

Its heavy infestation can be frustrating and affect your aquarium immensely, but it has no harmful effect on fish. The appropriate way to get rid of it is by handling it at its core. There are several solutions in permanently getting rid of and preventing its infestation.

Black algae are always effective at exploiting nutrients within the aquarium. However, it has several weaknesses that will help you manage it if you take advantage of it.

In many instances, black algae can grow anywhere, such as decorations, rocks, and on the glass of your fish tank. Usually, it is easier to spot while growing on plants as it will be on the leaves’ edges. With the correct information, it is easy to manage it.

What are the Causes of Black Beard Algae?

CO2 Fluctuations

CO2 fluctuation is considered one of the reasons for algae formation. Low CO2 level can arise for two reasons:

  • If you have planted a tank and CO2 system in place, the dosing rate is not appropriate.
  • If you have no CO2 system running, low CO2 levels can arise from the water change.

Whatever is the reason, you should resolve the issue and maintain a healthy CO2 level in your aquarium. Also, in some instances, stagnant water can create a favorable condition for algae growth. 

Causes of Black Beard Algae - Aquarium Tales

Too Much Light

Plants need carbon dioxide and light for photosynthesis. But when there is excessive light, always a chance that algae can appear. 

Beginner fishkeepers always make mistakes while buying lights and setting the duration. Your aquarium lights should always be in accord with the lighting requirements of your plants. Also, lighting duration is another important criterion. You should not keep aquarium lights on all the time with the same intensity. 

Instead, I would suggest buying an aquarium light with a timer and adjustable intensity. In this way, it will be easier for you to manage the right lighting duration for your aquarium. 

How to Get Rid of Black Beard Algae from Your Aquarium Conclusively

Whenever you want to remove black beard algae, it is advisable to never scrub or pick at it. The small pieces can permanently settle in another place and start growing and spread faster. 

Below are the best tricks to get rid of black beard algae forever in your aquarium.

How to Get Rid of Black Beard Algae (infographic)

1) Remove Manually

When you first notice black beard algae in your aquarium, the first step is to manually remove as much as you can (use your hand or brush). If it appears on the plant leaves, cut the whole leaves. 

Although in most cases, manual removal can’t simply kill them all, if a small chunk remains, it works as a seed; they continue to grow again. But removing the large portion at the beginning will eventually help you to get rid of them quickly. 

2) Use Hydrogen Peroxide

Now it’s time to do a spot treatment with Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) solution on the remaining algae. Before that, you have to prepare the solution with appropriate concentration to get the best result and avoid any side effects of overdosing. 

Get 3% over the counter peroxide solution, and soak affected decors, rocks (which you can remove from the tank) for few minutes (3-5 minutes). After that, rinse thoroughly & put them back in the fish tank.

At the moment, you will treat the affected areas inside the tank (plants, leaves, pipings, etc.). Make a 1:3 (3% hydrogen peroxide to freshwater) solution, fill a syringe, and spray on the afflicted areas. 

While doing this, turn your filter off; this is because if your filter runs, the H2O2 will just be blown around and won’t do any good.

H2O2 breaks down quickly, so you are just allowing it to sit on the algae and kill them by stopping the water flow. In contact with water, H2O2 will break down to water and oxygen after 24 hours.

Sensitive plants (Moss ball, Anubias) may melt if you overdose; I would suggest change 50% of water to nullify harmful effects on plants (if any). 

You may have to do that consecutively for several days if your tank algae are stubborn. Simply pouring the peroxide in the water won’t help; target the specific areas. Black algae will turn red when they die.

3) Boosting Carbon Dioxide

Another widely accepted method is applying Seachem Flourish Excel. People get an excellent result using this product while combating Black Beard Algae (BBA). 

Just follow the method similar to the peroxide solution and directly apply it to the black beard algae (switch off the filter). Don’t overdo; follow the instructions on the bottle for the right concentration. Keep using until you get rid of algae. 

Seachem Flourish Excel works by boosting the CO2 level, although it has some algaecide property. Raising the CO2 level will help plants to outcompete algae in sucking nutrients. 

If you have a planted tank, a reliable CO2 system will always keep algae at bay. 

4) Turn off Lights

Algae, just like other plants, need exposure to sunlight/light for photosynthesis. Because of this, light deprivation will ascertain that the algae will not live. This is because of the lack of light for photosynthesis as a way to make their food. 

The absence of light will permanently weaken almost all living organisms in the water. Therefore, turning off lights will ensure that your algae are no more. At the beginning of an algae outbreak, turn off the light for 72 hours. After that maintain 4 hours of lighting for few days, this will help to get rid of algae fast. 

5) Add Black Algae Eating Fish to Your Aquarium

Adding algae-eating fish to your aquarium is another suitable way to get rid of black beard algae. The various black beard algae eaters are available here.

  • Amano Shrimp
  • American Flagship
  • Black Molly
  • True Siamese Algae Eater (young ones)
  • Chinese Algae Eater
  • Cherry Barb
  • Rosy Barb
  • Twig Catfish
  • Bristlenose Pleco

6) Reduce Phosphate (PO4) in the Water

Phosphate is the hidden reason and often overlooked. Unless you have a high phosphate level in your tap water, the common reason for elevated phosphate level is improperly maintained aquarium. When anything like fish poop, leftover foods, etc. decomposes, phosphate produces as a byproduct.

A water change will instantly lower the phosphate level and additionally, it would best if you can add some phosphate absorbing media to your filter. Perform 50% water change weekly to lower the phosphate level when you have algae issues.  

You should always use reliable testing kits such as the API one to monitor phosphate levels. 

Whenever your tap water has more levels of phosphate, find another water source, the preferred option is RO water. However, don’t forget to remineralize water before channeling it to an aquarium. I recommend using Brightwell Aquatics Remineralizer to mineralize the water. 

7) Boiling (Heat Treatment)

Boil the aquarium water would kill every spore of algae. But, make sure to quarantine your aquatic pets before raising the temperature. In that case, a quarantine tank would have been quite handy. 

Typically, the heater should be between 45-50 degrees Celsius. The high temperature will burn the algae making it die off or be eaten by algae eaters immediately. Before heating, it is necessary to clean the gravel.

8) Floating Aquarium Plants

Floating aquarium plants are a great addition to a planted tank. They are fast-growing and will suck a lot of nutrients from the water column, thus prevent algae growth by depriving them of necessary nutrients. Check my article for the 15 best floating aquarium plants.

How to Prevent Black Beard Algae (Never Get Back Again)

At this point, you have an idea of how to avoid the infestation of black beard algae again. Having a checklist on how to prevent any recurrence is essential. This is because black beard algae will generally take advantage of any favorable condition. To protect your aquarium from being infested again, these details are crucial.

Don’t Overfeed

Overfeeding is a common issue; it will eventually create a conducive environment for algae growth. Leftover foods will decompose and will raise the Phosphate level.

Always feed your fish an amount that they can finish within 2-3 minutes. You can use an automatic feeder to handle the overfeeding and ensure your fish are getting the food on time. 

Keep phosphate Level Low

It advisable to always ensure that anything in the aquarium is below 0.25 ppm.

Right CO2 Level

CO2 is essential for the live plants in the aquarium. Appropriate CO2 level will enable the plants to function appropriately hence outcompete algae for nutrients.

Do Not Provide Excess Light

It is vital to investigate the amount of light your aquarium needs. Ensure that you have the optimal amount of light that is needed to avoid excess.

Buy Live Plants from Reliable Sources

This is important to avoid buying plants that carry black beard algae, which may not be visible. It would be best if you always disinfected even when you trust the source.

Do not Add Pet Store Water to the Aquarium

This is important to avoid buying plants that carry black beard algae, which may not be visible. It would be best if you always disinfected even when you trust the source.

Maintain Aquarium Hygiene

All the waste products that can be found within your filter are a potential source for nutrients imbalance that can lead to algae’s growth.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do You Really Need to Remove Black Beard Algae?

From the details above, it is evident that your black beard algae problem will never go away on its own. As a result, you must find the right approach to removing it. Notably, whenever you are removing algae, you should never scrub or pick. 

This is to avoid small pieces from floating and settling, causing them to spread. Therefore, you will need to remove black beard algae to keep it from growing and spreading.

Is Black Beard Algae Harmful to Fish?

You should note that black beard algae do not pose any danger or harm to your fish in the aquarium. The fish will be happy with the growth of black beard algae. This is because they can swim and hide in the algae’s flowing hairs, which are generally long.

Is Black Beard Algae Harmful to Plants?

Yes, but usually in an indirect manner. As the black algae start to grow on the plant’s edges, it will bring no harm. However, as it grows and spreads, it will block prevent the penetration of light to our plant. 

Aquarium plants usually need photosynthesis to thrive. Therefore, insufficient or lack of light will prevent photosynthesis, causing the death of plants. As a result, failure to control black beard algae can pose a danger to aquarium plants.

Wrapping Up

Although black beard algae are not dangerous to your aquarium fish, their uncontrolled growth will make them spread and eventually cover every part of the fish tank. It can also be harmful to your aquarium plant. 

This will usually make the aquarium ugly and also make it unclean. Ensuring proper tank shape and parameter is essential to prevent the growth of this black beard algae. Therefore, it is crucial to get rid of it.

Generally, black beard eye is a problem that can be frustrating since it can keep on reoccurring. However, we mustn’t give it a chance to thrive. Applying the preventive measures above will help ensure that you avoid their infestation. 

In case you already have them, you can permanently get rid of them, as explained in this article. It will require you to maintain the right level of PO4, CO2, and appropriate light, among others.

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