How To Clean Algae From Fish Tank Glass: 6 Quick Ways

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As an aquarium owner, you’ve probably waged war against algae several times before, yet it still keeps growing and spreading in your tank. Sadly, algae growth is an inevitable problem for most fish tanks, but the good news is that there are many effective ways of getting rid of these stubborn organisms. So, how can you clean algae from your fish tank glass?

You can clean algae from a fish tank glass using an aquarium scraper, squeegee, or razor blade. If you don’t want to remove the algae yourself, you can add algae eaters like snails and pleco fish to your aquarium. Specialized algae treatments are another fast-acting and effective option.

A clean and algae-free fish tank is not only visually appealing but also ideal for the health of your fish. Let’s get into the details and find out what causes green algae on your aquarium glass and how you can remove it in a few easy ways.

What Is Algae? 

Algae is basically a group of green plants that appear in various forms and colors. In a fish tank, green water algae floats around the tank and multiplies by the billions in a process called a bloom. It then clings on to the glass of your tank and the surfaces of any items in the tank. 

Algae is typically harmless to fish, and in the right amount, it can be a good food source for them. However, when it accumulates, algae blocks light to plants and causes water pollution, making your fish tank unsightly.

What Causes Green Algae on Aquarium Glass? 


Green algae on your aquarium glass may be caused by several factors, including:

Excess Light

The relationship between green plants and light is quite strong. In the presence of excess light and a source of nutrients, algae go haywire and multiply unceasingly.

Excess light can be from placing your fish tank near a sunny window, using a light that’s too strong for the aquarium, or leaving the tank light on for too long.  

Nutrient Imbalance

All plants require nutrients to grow, and algae gets these nutrients (nitrates and phosphates) from fish food and fish waste. They may be present in tap water as well. 

Overfeeding your fish or having too many for your tank size or filter capacity can cause nutrient build-up. The same goes for performing water changes with nutrient-filled tap water.    

Poor Aquarium Maintenance

Poor maintenance of your fish tank causes a gradual decline in the water quality. As time goes by, it creates a conducive environment for algae growth, and a bloom may occur. Your fish could also get sick if you don’t take action quickly enough.

How Do You Remove Algae From Aquarium Glass? 

The following are ways of getting rid of algae from your aquarium glass without posing a danger to either yourself or your fish: 

Aquarium Scrapers

Since algae has a habit of accumulating and sticking on your aquarium’s sides, the easiest way of removing it is using an aquarium scraper (on Amazon), sponge, squeegee, or the edge of a razor blade. The scraper clears out massive algae deposits and daily film algae, leaving you with an unobscured view of your fish.

Once you’ve cleaned every corner of your fish tank, you’ve got to wipe away the water that unavoidably ends up on the outside of the tank. While you can use paper towels, newspapers, or an old washcloth, it’s best to be extra careful with your tank and use a microfiber towel (on Amazon).

Introduce Algae Eaters

Some fish find algae in tanks very yummy and can gobble it up and solve your problem in no time. If you have more than enough room in your aquarium, you can consider introducing a few new finned pals there. 

When it comes to algae eaters, you’re not only limited to fish. You can also add invertebrates like snails, which can help remove algae.

However, algae eaters aren’t supernatural creatures, and algae may grow faster than they can handle. Therefore, you’ll probably have to team up this method with another to eradicate algae.

Use Algae Treatments

Natural algae removal methods don’t always work adequately, and that’s where algae treatments like Bowl Buddies (on Amazon) come in handy. An algae treatment is a solution that eliminates algae when you use it in your fish tank. It may not be the most gentle method, but it’s fast-acting and effective.

Control the Lighting

Controlling the amount of light your aquarium gets reduces excess algae. You can do this by placing your tank far from direct sunlight and putting the tank lights on a timer.

Adding a Filter

An aquarium filter will keep the water clean and lower the toxicity level, reducing the prospects of algae growth. You’ll need to clean it regularly and change the filter media to ensure your filter performs optimally.

Using a UV Sterilizer

Using a UV sterilizer (on Amazon) as part of your filtration system is one of the best ways of combating algae. The UV sterilizer eliminates bacteria and helps lessen the spread of free-floating algae. It also poses no threats to your fish or other aquarium inhabitants.

However, a UV sterilizer won’t get the job done entirely on its own. Although it removes algae, it’s not a substitute for a good filter, which is still vital to physically remove algae from the water.

Which Animals Eat Algae on Aquarium Glass? 

Closeup shot of a pleco cleaning the pebbles in a freshwater aquarium

Algae is a good food source for some fish, snails, and shrimp. These little fellas will gladly munch and get rid of the algae in your aquarium when you add them to your aquatic family.

But be sure to carry out thorough research before adding them to your tank to ensure it’s the best and most compatible environment for them.

The most common type of fish is a pleco — but not just any, as some can grow very big, which may not be inconvenient if you have a tiny fish tank. A bristlenose pleco is more suitable because it’s hardy, easy to keep, only grows to 4 inches long, and most importantly, it loves eating algae.

If you don’t want to add another fish to your tank, you could go for an algae-eating snail. Nerite snails are an excellent choice since they won’t breed in the aquarium.

They are intense eaters willing to consume almost any type of algae. They also come in a variety of colors and patterns, giving your aquarium a more distinguished look.

If you’re looking to add shrimp instead, amano shrimp are precisely what you should opt for. They are the best algae-eating shrimp species, and their large size (2 inches) makes them better able to protect themselves in community tanks, unlike cherry shrimp. They eat all kinds of soft algae, leftover fish food, and decaying plant matter as well.

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