White Hair Algae Explained: Everything You Need to Know

Like the white-haired witch in fairy tales, the white hair algae is one of the villains in aquariums. One moment your tank just has this teeny-tiny spot of fuzz in one of the glass panes and then the next, you see your tank overrun with ugly hair-like things.

Getting rid of all the unwanted algae, white hair algae included, is a tiring and sometimes annoying task. This type of algae is caused by poor water conditions, and it requires thorough cleaning to be removed from your tank.

In today’s article, we’ll talk about white hair algae, what it is, what causes it, and how you can remove it from your tank.

Source: Reddit

What is white hair algae?

First of all, algae are a kind of living organism that does not have an organized cell or a DNA structure. These organisms are so simple that they lack the usual features of plants like the leaves, stems, or roots, even though they are capable of photosynthesis.

Algae are not only found in aquariums and ponds, they can also be found in swimming pools and bathrooms. The only requirement really is moisture.

More specifically, white hair algae is a specific color type of hair algae. Also known as thread algae, hair algae is a type of algae that looks like flowing hair or long loose threads that are soft to touch. They usually attach themselves to the plants inside the tank but they can sometimes anchor to the decorations and gravels, too.

What causes white hair algae?

Hair algae usually thrive when the phosphate and nitrate levels in the tank are high, when nutrients available are either too much or too insufficient or when there is a lack of carbon dioxide in the tank  This usually happens when the tank is being cycled and the biological state of the tank has yet to balance. However, hair algae caused by this usually disappears once the tank has achieved a steady state.

Another common reason why hair algae bloom is too much light. When it’s too bright in the tank, hair algae spread much faster than they usually do. This is especially true when the light source of the tank is new.

Is white hair algae bad for fish?

Like all algae, an infestation of white hair algae is something that you would not want in your tank. While it obviously looks weird and destroys the aesthetics you so carefully planned, the bloom of hair algae is also bad news for your fishes and other tank residents since they compete with the other animals for nutrients.

Another reason you should quickly treat the hair algae bloom is that they block light from shining through the tank. Fishes require around 12 hours of light for their sleeping pattern and their appetite but if it’s consistently dim inside the tank due to the algae, your fishes can starve or shed their colors.

Are there benefits to algae in a tank?

Algae actually play a role in providing oxygen to the tank since this is a by-product of photosynthesis which they are capable of. Some kinds of algae also help cleanse the tank by binding harmful substances and releasing oxygen in exchange. A specific type of algae, the marine algae, is even used as a filter in saltwater aquariums.

Seeing algae in an aquarium means the ecosystem in your aquarium is a little bit more similar to the natural habitat of the animals you’re keeping and thus allows them to exhibit more of their natural behaviors even though they are not there.

However, the overabundance of algae is a nuisance to the aquarium and can be similar to a pest problem.

How do you get rid of white hair algae?

To get rid of the hair algae in your tank, make sure the nutrient levels in your tank are the appropriate ones to the requirements of the animals inside. 

One obvious way is to literally rip the algae off where they have attached themselves. You can also manually remove the hair algae by using a toothbrush to brush the algae off. If the infected areas are not too deep, you can also scoop them out with a very fine strainer. 

Just make sure to have the tank’s filter off for the meantime to avoid having the removed algae floating all over and going to spaces where they can grow again.

Although you might prefer to introduce a crew of algae-eating animals in your tank that can double as additional pets. Some of the most common algae eaters include rudolph shrimps, siamese algae eater, nerite snail, florida flagfish, crystal red shrimps, red cherry shrimps, ghost shrimps, rosy barbs, amano shrimps, honey gourami, flying fox, kissing gourami, mollies, dwarf gourami, and platies.

Having algae, white hair algae or another kind, is something natural and will sooner or later happen in your aquarium, they spread so fast you won’t know what exactly hit you until you have to clean your tank by removing and cleaning everything before putting them all back inside.

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