Aquarium water turning green? Tips on improving water quality
That unsightly green and cloudy aquarium water is caused by algae. Algae is a common form of aquatic plant life found in most aquariums in varying quantities. In small amounts it is harmless and a source of food for some aquarium creatures. But if allowed to bloom and build up, it can turn your aquarium water opaque, blocking out natural light and potentially causing harm to your aquarium fish and other plant life.
But don’t despair!
The good news is, those pesky algae blooms can be dealt with and even prevented from returning in future.
What causes aquarium algae blooms?
Algae blooms cause aquarium water to appear green, but what causes the algae blooms in the first place? These are the most common contributing factors:
Too much light
If your fish tank is sitting in direct sunlight – on a windowsill, for example – this could be causing the small amounts of algae in your tank to photosynthesise and grow rapidly, resulting in a sudden bloom. Excessive algae growth can also be triggered by your artificial tank lighting, especially if the lights are being left on for more than 12 hours per day.
Uneaten fish food will decay and transform into the types of nutrients that algae absolutely love. If you’re regularly overfeeding your fish, this large amount of decaying food can lead to a rapid increase in thriving algae.
Like all animals, fish generate waste, so having too many fish in your aquarium can lead to high levels of waste production, and the subsequent nutrients that algae use for growth.
Lack of regular water changes
Not changing water regularly allows algae-friendly nitrates to build up in the water, causing algae to get far too comfortable in your aquarium and start to bloom.
How to get rid of algae and maintain good water quality
If your aquarium is full of algae, or if you’re looking to prevent algae growing in your tank in the first place, here are some tips to improve water quality and banish the green stuff.
Remove excess light sources
Algae can’t photosynthesise and grow without light, so removing your tank from direct sunlight and turning off your aquarium lighting for longer periods will help bring algae growth back under control. You can buy lighting timers and set them up to automatically turn off your aquarium lights at regular intervals.
Change your aquarium water
Start a routine of regular water changes to help bring your algae problem back under control. Start by replacing 20-25% of your green aquarium water with clean water on a daily basis, making sure to use a suitable tap water conditioner. Once your water starts to look clearer, you can reduce these changes to 20% once a week. Regular weekly water changes are essential for preventing aquarium algae blooms in future, so make sure you build this into your routine.
If you think your algae problem may be being caused by excessive feeding, you should start to reduce the amount of food you’re putting into the tank. A good way to know if you’re overfeeding is to monitor your fish at feeding time. If there is still food left a few minutes after feeding, you know you are giving them too much. Reduce the amount gradually until you identify the perfect amount for your fish.
Replace filter media regularly
Your aquarium filter helps convert and reduce the nitrates that algae use for growth, so it is essential for preventing algae from becoming established. In order to keep your filter in full working order, you should replace your filter media regularly. If you’re not sure how often you should replace it, check the instructions for your own filter model as they do vary.
Regular water tests
Without knowing the condition of your water it is hard to know where you need to make improvements. You can get simple water testing kits that allow you test the pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and phosphate levels in your tank, which will help you identify current issues and prevent future ones. Even if your tank looks healthy, it is wise to conduct regular water tests every week or two to keep a close eye on any significant changes in water quality.
Use water treatments
If you have tried all of the above solutions and still have stubborn algae causing green aquarium water, you can use certain types of aquarium additives to help bring the problem under control and prevent future growth. However, these are not long-term solutions. The above tips for improving water quality should help clear up and prevent algae from growing without the need for chemicals, so give those a chance to work properly before you reach for the additives.
If you’re setting up a new aquarium and want to know more about preventing green water and algae problems, give our team of experts a call on 01642 612419; they will be more than happy to help.