Preventing Orange Algae Growth in AquariumOrange algae are considered to be aquatic plants of sorts that are not necessarily bad for your aquarium unless there is too much of them.

They are rapidly breeding algae that are mostly found in marine environments, sea sores, fish tanks, aquariums, and other aquatic places. The question is, what can you do to ensure they don’t overcrowd your fish’s environment? 

This article will focus on preventing and getting rid of excessive orange algae in your fish tank. 

Benefits of Orange Algae in a Fish Tank

In all forms, sizes, and shapes, rust-colored algae in fish tank aren’t typically bad for the fish tanks. Rather, in many cases, orange algae complement the aesthetics of your aquatic environment. 

Besides, when the respiration process of algae takes place in ample sunlight, it’s quite similar to that of any other plant whereby they intake carbon-di-oxide releasing oxygen in each breath taken. This added oxygen helps maintain the pH level inside the fish tanks. 

What Harm It Can Do to Your Fish Tank

In and of themselves, orange algae are not bad for any water bodies, be it a pond, aquarium, or fish tank. However, uncontrolled breeding of algae might be the cause of the death of fish in water bodies. 


When respiring in the absence of sunlight or any artificial light, algae follow the respiration process of animals. This results in the rise of the pH level of tank water, making the water acidic and unsuitable for the fish to survive into.


When algae dies, it decomposes in the fish tank water. During the decomposing process, oxygen in the fish tank is used. As we know, oxygen is vital for the fish, and other living plants inside the fish tank and aquarium, so any shortage or absence of oxygen might result in the death of the aquarium fish. 


Excessive algae also make the watercolor look muddy. As such, the aesthetics of the tank/aquarium is damaged. Cleaning the tanks/aquariums consumes significant time, energy, and money, but you should do it diligently to maintain the health and aesthetics of your tank.

How To Get Rid of Orange Algae in Fish Tank

First, we need to understand when, where, and how an alga starts to breed. 

If you have ever wondered about the orangish/brownish-colored substance that accumulates in your fish tanks and aquariums, you must have encountered orange algae. 

When left unattended for a long time, these orange algae might ruin the entire ecosystem of your fish tank. However, these rusted colored algae in the fish tank are not always as harmful as they may sound.

Getting rid of orange algae is not an exhausting process, and so following these few steps correctly can ensure a safe and healthy space for the fish in the tank.

Since we are specifically dealing with the orange algae in the fish tank, our focus would be to find out about the life cycle of orange algae inside the tank. Moreover, we need to understand what is the optimal environment for an alga to breed in a tank. Knowing this will aid us in addressing the problem at the very root of it.

Like all other plants, light plays a significant role in the life cycle of algae. Other than that, water and some nutrients in the water, namely calcium, phosphate, and nitrate, help in the breeding and growth of the orange algae in aquarium. While we cannot expect a fish tank to be waterless, we can minimize the light and control the nutrients in the tank/aquarium water. 

The steps are quite similar for fish tanks and aquariums. So, anyone who has larger aquariums can also follow the given suggestions. 

  • Focusing on the Light Setting

Sunlight, fluorescent light, and LED light, all provide a favorable environment for the growth of algae. Because of this, both direct and/or indirect exposure to natural and artificial light should be avoided for a long time.

While all of the light sources are helpful for algae breeding, LED light specifically causes more rapid breeding to these algae. LED lights, being inexpensive, are often the first choice for most aquarium owners.  

So, if you don’t want orange algae sprouting rapidly all over the place, you should make sure the tank does not get excessive light of any form.

  • Focusing on the Nutrients

The presence of excessive nutrients in the tank/aquarium water also leads to the breeding of orange algae. These nutrients come mainly from four sources:

  1. Dead bodies of tank fish
  2. Excessive left-over fish foods that are rich in minerals and other nutrients
  3. Rocks and corals
  4. Phosphate rich tap water 

Moreover, changing water is a must to clear away all the dead fish from the tank. This also helps in getting rid of the leftover foods. But what is more important is cleaning the entire tank or aquarium since that will help to get rid of the accumulated nutrients (phosphates, calcium) from the tank surface. 

Overfeeding of the fish should be avoided at all costs too. You should quickly remove leftover foods from the water to prevent excessive nutrients from hanging around your tank for a while. 

Rocks and corals should be used in moderation so that they do not allow and accelerate the growth of algae. And finally, tap water should be avoided if it’s rich in magnesium and phosphate. 

Preventing Orange Algae Growth in Fish Tank

Getting rid of the orange stuff in fish tank is not a wearisome job, but it definitely is not that exciting either. Therefore, it is always suggested to take precautions before any algae get to breed in the tank water in the first place. 

  • Algae Eaters and Live Plants

Some aquarium fish, commonly known as algae eaters, are great for inhibiting the process of algae breeding in tank water and aquarium. Other than that, keeping live plants also helps solve this problem.

As we know, one of the major contributors for algae breeding in the tank is excessive minerals and nutrients, and sometimes, leftover foods. Live plants can help save the environment of fish tanks and aquariums by consuming excessive nutrients. 

  • Using Chemicals To Prevent Algae Growth

Chemicals like copper sulfate and other algaecides also work in preventing the growth and breed of algae. However, these chemicals should be used in moderation, since anything that can kill the algae have the potential to kill the tank fish or at least harm them. 

  • Adjusting Water Flow

Adjusting the flow of water (either by increasing circulation or decreasing circulation) inside the tank or aquarium that best suits the tank environment is also a must. 

  • Adjusting the Light

An alga needs high-intensity sunlight or artificial light to breed. If you are using artificial lights, their intensity should be minimized. Also, the lights should not be unceasing. Moreover, for natural light, direct exposure for a longer time should be avoided. 


Which Is More Suitable for Algae Growth Saltwater or Freshwater Fish Tank?

Saltwater fish tanks are, to some extent, more suitable for algae growth compared to freshwater fish tanks or aquariums. It takes very little time for the growth of orange algae in saltwater tank.

The reason is, all that is necessary for the growth of algae are available in the fish tank. However, the possibility of orange algae growth and survival cannot be dismissed in freshwater fish tanks either.

Orange algae need a maximum of three things light, water, and some nutrients to grow and survive. Within two to three weeks of the set-up of the new saltwater aquarium or fish tank, some rusted color stuff might appear.

Both salt water and fresh water aquariums have two things in common; water and light. 

Saltwater Fish Tanks: Why Are They More Suitable Than Freshwater Ones?

What makes saltwater fish tanks more suitable for algae breeding is the presence of rocks and corals. These are kept not only for decoration purposes but also for creating and maintaining an artificial ecosystem like that of the ocean.

Moreover, in a freshwater fish tank, more plants are visible. Again, this is to create an artificial river-like ecosystem inside of a fish tank. These living plants eat up the excessive foods, if any, and inhibit the breeding system of algae.

Other than that, saline water is rich in different nutrients like ammonia and nitrate, which come from the water’s salinity and hardness.


How To Get Rid of Orange Algae in Fish TankYou are perfectly ready to handle the rusted colored algae in your fish tank with all this information. All you need to remember is:

  • A moderate amount of orange algae in the fish tank does not destroy the ecosystem of the fish tank
  • Excessive algae might be toxic for aquarium fish if it’s excessive
  • Saline water fish tanks have a more favorable environment for the orange algae to grow and survive compared to freshwater fish tanks
  • Excessive lighting (both natural and artificial) and fish food in the fish tank is the breeding ground for algae
  • Regular monitoring and checking of the nutrient levels of the tank water will remind us to remove excess nutrients from the water itself
  • Adding chemicals, algae eaters, and living plants will prevent algae growth

Do you still find it intimidating to clean your fish tanks and aquariums regularly? We’re more than sure that our article has helped you out with that, and you are able to make an informed decision about the orange algae in your fish tank more easily.

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