White Hair Algae are a common problem that a lot of fish keepers suffer from. It can not only ruin the look of your tank but affect the water parameters as well, which can be bad for your fish.

In this article, we will learn about the causes and ways to get rid of White Hair Algae that might be affecting your tank. This type of algae is rare and hard to identify, so keep reading for more information.

How To Identify White Hair Algae in Aquarium

There are millions of types of algae, and most times, they are harmless and can be rid of pretty quickly. This freshwater hair algae is just like most other algae and can be identified by its color.

However, it is not as easy to identify as other algae because it is almost invisible to the naked eye when in small quantities. Moreover, it can be mistaken for fungus sometimes as well. Fungus, though, mainly grows on driftwood and is not as much of a problem as algae.

As the name suggests, these are long and thin hair-like strands that protrude from different surfaces. When only one or two strands can be extremely hard to see unless seen with a good-quality camera lens, they can be on plants and other surfaces that you have in a tank. The main problem with the white stringy algae in fish tanks is the rate at which it grows. If it is not controlled, it can overtake the tank within weeks. This is one of the reasons for the importance of finding a permanent solution.

Causes of White Hair Algae in the Aquarium

Before White Hair Algae removal, you need to understand what caused it, not repeat the mistake. Prevention is always cheaper and much better than finding cures for a problem. Therefore, here are some reasons for white stringy algae in fish tanks.

One of the first things you should see is how much light your tank gets. Usually, if you keep the tank in light for more than six hours, the photoperiod gets too long, contributing to algae growth. Bright light for an extended period of time can increase the growth rate of the algae. Especially when you have a new tank, you don’t know what’s best for your tank. Therefore, check the amount of time you keep the tank in light as it can be one cause.

The biggest reason for the growth of white string algae is the high level of some chemicals in the tank. Namely, high levels of phosphate and nitrate. An alga needs these chemicals to survive and grow. So check the level of these chemicals by using a good water testing kit so you can find the problem.

Another less talked about reason could be the wrong level of carbon dioxide. This factor is directly related to light in the tank as well. If the light stays on for too long, the carbon dioxide level can be disrupted. The carbon dioxide level is too low when the ideal level should be around 20 to 30 ml per liter. This, again, can be checked through a water testing kit. No proper fertilizer in the water can also lead to the growth of this algae.

How To Get Rid of White Hair Algae

Once you know your tank has white string algae, the next step would be getting rid of White Hair Algae. You have to do this as soon as you find algae. Some people do like the way it looks, but you need to have a proper level of the algae to look cool and not dirty.

So let’s look at some ways of getting rid of White Hair Algae that inhabit your tank. Some of these are permanent solutions, while others are temporary. Use both to maintain the proper conditions for your tank.

– Additive Carbon Dioxide

One way to remove hair algae is using an additive for planted aquariums that gives them carbon dioxide. There are liquid forms of these chemicals as well. All you need to do is take the liquid on a paintbrush or any brush and apply it to the area covered in algae. The CO2 will remove the algae effortlessly. This is an effective way of White Hair Algae removal but a temporary fix unless used regularly.

Carbon dioxide will not let the algae get enough oxygen which will, in turn, kill them. This is a temporary but effective way of getting rid of white algae. Moreover, if you want to control the growth of algae but not get rid of all the algae, this will be good for that. This method works just like algae control products. However, algae control products are said to be more temporary.

– Introducing Algae Eaters

Another way to remove these algae is by introducing fish that will eat the algae. The fish will get food, and your tank will be clean. It doesn’t have to be only fish, but any other algae-eating aquatic creature will be just fine. However, make sure to have proper conditions for keeping this new addition and not just use it to get rid of the algae.

Some algae eaters that you can introduce in the tank are listed below:

  • Ameca Splendens
  • Bristlenose Plecos
  • Siamese Algae Eater
  • Jordanella Floridae
  • Mollies
  • Twig Catfish
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Mystery Snail

Choose the fish that fits your water conditions the best. Moreover, the fish you choose should be compatible with the other fish you have as well. Choosing a random algae eater will be bad for the fish you adapt to and disrupt the tank.

– Ripping It Up

The most practical and easy way would be to rip the algae out literally. Make sure to turn the filter off before you do it, so the algae don’t move and hide in some place and re-grow. Unless you find ways to maintain the proper conditions to prevent the algae from growing again, this will be temporary. You will need to keep ripping it up.

You can rip the algae using gloves or even your hands, and it won’t cause any problem. This is the cheapest way to get rid of these white string algae.

Preventing the Growth of White Hair Algae

The freshwater hair algae need a permanent solution. The permanent solution is to prevent the growth of the algae altogether. Here are ways to do this, so you never have the problem of overgrowing algae.

– Maintaining the Conditions

Once you get rid of the algae by ripping it or using the other methods mentioned above, you must ensure that the conditions are maintained. This will ensure that the algae don’t grow again.

Therefore, control the phosphate and nitrate levels of the tank. Find the best conditions for your tank and follow it: lower levels of nitrate and phosphate. The phosphate level should be 0.05 ml per liter, and the nitrate level should be 10 milliliters per liter. To catch any fluctuations in these levels, have a water testing kit that you use every day at first and then every week. Not only will you catch any fluctuations but also be able to maintain the conditions more diligently.

Also, if there is a lot of nitrate and phosphate in the water, get rid of the water first. You can do this by performing partial water changes to bring the levels down. Don’t overdo the water changes as it can be disruptive to the creatures living in your tank, though.

– The Appropriate Period for Light

As mentioned above, this has a lot of effect on the algae and the carbon dioxide level of the water. Once you have gotten rid of the algae, make sure to adjust the light intensity and hours.

Firstly, lower the light in your tank to prevent the White Hair Algae in the aquarium. Then focus on the time for the light. Start with six hours of light per day and notice if there is any algae growth. If not, then increase the time to eight to nine hours while ensuring no algae outbreak.

– Having Plants

Having plants is a very good way of getting rid of White Hair Algae in many ways. So if possible, have lots of different types of plants in your tank once you have removed the algae.

The plants will provide enough shade for the tank that light cannot penetrate, preventing new algae growth. In addition to that, healthy plants will occupy the space in your tank, so there won’t be enough space for the algae to grow. They will also keep the carbon dioxide level of the tank in check. So this is another suitable preventive method that could be used to get rid of the algae.


Here are some things to keep in mind to control algae growth:

  • White Hair Algae are hard to see when in small quantities, but getting rid of them as soon as possible is impossible.
  • Maintaining the proper light intensity and time is important to prevent the growth of the algae.
  • The nitrate and phosphate level should be controlled to prevent the growth of the algae as well.
  • You can rip the algae out using algae eaters or chemical algae removers to eliminate the algae that grow.

Algae growth is sometimes inevitable, but you can get rid of it with proper care. This job comes with the territory of being a good aquarist. Enjoy cleaning!

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