While we are on the subject of maintaining your new discus aquarium clean, now seemed to be an appropriate time to talk about algae.
Algae is a fact of life for any aquarium owner, and this is no less true with discus aquariums. While it is almost impossible to prevent algae from rearing its head in your new discus aquarium you can control it.
In order to properly control algae in your new discus aquarium, one of the first things you need to know is exactly what you will be up against.
The most common types of algae you will have to combat in your new discus aquarium are: Brown algae, Green algae, Green dot algae, Hair algae, Red/Brush algae, and Blue-green algae.
Brown Algae, also known as diatoms, is most common in newly set up discus aquariums. This algae can give the tank a murky or muddy look to the water. Brown algae will most commonly appear in your new discus aquarium between two and twelve weeks after set up. Normally Brown algae will disappear on its own once the discus aquariums’ nitrate and phosphate levels equal out. If the Brown algae is coming back in your discus aquarium which has already been set up for quite some time then you will be required to re stabilize the nitrate and phosphate levels. Brown algae can also be caused by not having enough light in your discus aquarium.
Green algae is the most common type of algae you will come up against in your discus aquarium. The reason for this is because, unlike other aquarium fish, discus fish do not eat algae. So you will have to take further steps to properly control your discus aquarium from green algae. Green algae is usually provoked by too much light getting into your discus aquarium.
Green dot algae:
This is a close relative of the Green algae. Green dot algae generally makes its home on the sides of the glass of your discus aquarium. Green dot algae is not so easily removed, and can be a real nuisance as it obstructs the view of your beautiful fish. To get rid of this algae will require you to scrape the algae off the glass manually. The easiest way to go about this task is to use a really sharp object, such as a razor, to scrape the green dot algae off the glass walls of your discus tank.
Hair algae manifests itself as long greenish gray strands, which resemble hair. In order to remove Hair algae from your discus aquarium you will be required to get something akin to a fork, and simply wind it up like spaghetti and pull it out.
Red algae, also known as Brush algae, is one of the more persistent and harder kinds of algae to control. It is a reddish brown color, and can be seen floating about your discus aquarium obstructing the view of your discus. If you are seeing Red algae in your discus tank it can be a sign that the pH levels are too high, so the first order of business should be to try and lower the pH levels in the tank. This algae is so resilient however, that may require you to use harsh chemicals in order to fully get rid of it. If you have to use harsh chemicals to combat Red algae it is highly recommended that you first remove your discus fish out of harms way.
Blue-green algae is not exactly an algae, even though it behaves like one. Blue-green algae is actually Cyanobacteria. This kind of bacteria mimics algae in the fact that it can perform photosynthesis. Blue-green algae is a slimy coating that tends to make its home draping, over the aquarium walls, rocks, decorations, or anything else in the discus aquarium. This is considered the most bothersome algae as it can release toxins that can be harmful to your discus, and can also be detrimental to the aquatic plants you have in your discus aquarium as well. The best thing to do when you have a blue-green algae infestation in your discus aquarium is to nitrate and phosphate removing resins, and also keep in mind to remove any uneaten food your discus may leave.
Now that you know the kinds of algae you are going to come up against in your, you can go ahead and take some steps to prevent it from taking a foothold in your discus aquarium.
Keep it out of the sun:
As mentioned before in this guide, you will want to be sure that your discus aquarium is not in direct sunlight.
Algae blooms love sunlight, so if you can keep your discus aquarium out of direct sunlight you will be one step closer to controlling algae in your discus aquarium and preventing it from appearing in the first place.
Keep consistent lighting:
It is important to not only keep your discus aquarium out of the path of direct sunlight, but you must always keep consistent lighting practices. You really do not want to leave the lights of your discus aquarium on for more than about half a day at a time. You also want to be sure that you are turning the lights on and off in your discus aquarium at the same time each day. To help you in this task it is recommended that you purchase some form of timing device for the lights of your discus aquarium. Most aquarium supply stores sell these kinds of timers, so it shouldn’t be hard to procure one.
Keep nutrient levels to a minimum:
The simplest and easiest way to keep the nutrient levels to a minimum is to change the water in your discus aquarium regularly. It is important to note that if you have a persistent algae issue in your discus aquarium that you may want to completely swap out the aquarium water with specialized water for aquariums, which you can purchase at any aquarium supply store, as tap water can have enough nutrients in it to turn your discus aquarium into a perfect breeding ground for algae. However, it should be noted that although this is a good method for controlling algae in your discus aquarium, many kinds of algae can survive in lower levels of nutrients than what a basic testing kit can tell you.
Add an Algae Eating Fish:
Unfortunately, unlike most other popular aquarium fish, discus fish do not eat algae as a rule. The only really compatible algae eating fish that you could use are those that can survive in the same type of water chemistry as a discus. This pretty much means you need to put in a fish that is found in the discus’ natural habitat.
One fish you can use safely with discus and also eats algae is the otocinclus catfish. It not only eats the algae, but it will not be aggressive towards them either.
Don’t excessively clean your aquarium:
Sometimes this is a rather difficult point to get across to discus aquarium owners. It is essential to keep your discus aquarium clean and you should clean out your discus aquarium on a regular basis, but you don’t need to over do it. Over cleaning your discus aquarium can actually encourage algae to grow there. This happens because when you completely clean out all the algae, plants, and such out of the aquarium, the algae now has all the room in the world to make its new home in your discus aquarium. Studies have shown that algae grows much more quickly and appears faster, in a 100% clean discus aquarium, whereas if there’s a slight amount still left in the tank, it won’t grow as fast, or spread as quickly.