White Hair Algae | What Is This Stuff?

A Shrimp that will eat white hair algae

If you are getting into the hobby of fish keeping the chances are you will come across different types of fungus diseases and algae. Fungus and diseases are definitely unwanted in any type of aquarium, but what about algae? After all, fish eat algae so surely it can’t be bad for them, can it? One such algae is white hair algae. Let’s take a look at what this algae actually is, whether it is harmful, and how to get rid of the white hair algae.

What Is White Hair Algae?

Algae can be a real pain for aquarists trying to keep a clean tank. Although most fish like to dine on the stuff it is not too pleasing on the eye. There are 3 main types of algae you may well encounter in your aquarium. These are known as Green algae, brown algae, and white algae. White hair algae is basically a name given to a form of white algae. The biggest problem with this is that it can spread fast and look unpleasant in your tank. It is also pretty hard to eradicate completely.

What Causes White Algae To Grow?

Once algae takes residence in your aquarium it can be a bit of a bugger to get rid of. But what causes the algae to grow in the first place?


Light is a big factor when it comes to the growth of white algae. Having your aquarium right next to a window for instance would be a bad move. You will find that the algae will reproduce at quite an alarming rate. Keep sunlight levels down to a minimum. You will also want to consider less time with your aquarium light on. The more light in your tank increases the chance of an algae bloom.


The nutrients in your aquarium are another factor when it comes to white hair algae growing. An increase in iron for instance will certainly encourage algae growth. Try decreasing your iron levels to tackle this problem.

How To Get Rid Of White Hair Algae

Once it takes hold, white hair algae can be a bit of a pain to get rid of. As you can imagine there are plenty of chemical formulas out there that will do the job. But I am not a fan of these personally. The idea of an aquarium is to replicate nature as best you can, Chemicals to me just don’t come into it. Do not worry, there are a few ways you can deal with this.

Get Your Hands Wet

The easiest way to get rid of white hair algae in large amounts is to get your hands in the tank. Obviously, make sure your hands are thoroughly cleaned and rinsed before doing so. If you have a fair bit of algae just carefully rip it from any driftwood, ornaments, and rocks that it has attached itself to and dispose of it in the bin. This will work as a quick temporary fix.

Get Some Algae Eating Fish

Algae is very popular in quite a few fish’s diets. So what better way of getting rid of algae than getting some algae eaters. Obviously, you will need to do a bit of research to see if they are compatible with your tank first. Not only do you need to check on fish compatibility, but checking your water parameters will be ok for the new fish as well. Some of the best algae-eating fish to look out for are the Bristle Nose Pleco, Flying Fox’s, Mollies, and Siamese algae eaters. There are plenty more to choose from but I will save that for another article.

Snails And Shrimp

Lots of snails such as Apple snails, Nerite snails, and Ramshorn will all help to keep the algae down in your aquarium. Just keep an eye on your snail population because you may end up having to dispose of some of them. There is plenty of algae-eating shrimp to choose from as well. Some of the more popular ones are Amano shrimp, Bamboo shrimp, and Cherry shrimp. Not only are they good at eating algae they are also proper cool to watch in your tank.

To Conclude

Don’t worry too much if your tank ends up having white hair algae. With the right precautions and the right methods, you can soon take control of the problem. Remember it shouldn’t affect your fish in any way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is algae bad for a fish tank?

Contrary to popular belief in general algae isn’t bad for your fish tank. It can obviously look a bit unsightly and you don’t want too much of the stuff.This could cause damage to any living plants you may have. But apart from that it is a good source of food for many tank dwellers such as fish, snails, and shrimp.

How do you clean algae in hard-to-reach places?

A good way of cleaning algae in hard-to-reach-places is to use an old toothbrush. A toothbrush makes a great algae remover that will not scratch your glass sides.

Do shrimp clean tanks by eating algae?

The short answer to that is yes they do. As well as eating algae they will also clear up all unwanted fish food and debris that is surplus in your tank.

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