How to Treat White Hair Algae Efficiently

White algae is a sort of hair that will develop over time if a tank is not maintained appropriately. Green algae are greatly unattractive, but white algae are far more evident. This form of bacteria is unappealing and can eventually completely take over the ecosystem you laid out in a potentially (though unlikely) damaging fashion. 

The following must be considered to rid of the fuzzy growths, patches, and all other white algae. 

The best way to treat white hair algae would be to empty the tank of its water and remove the items that have algae on them. You can rip the algae off or treat it with a solution. It is advisable to watch the phosphate, nitrate, and general pH levels of the tank carefully moving forward. 

Be sure to monitor the amount of light you are allowing your tank to receive so as not to encourage the growth of any more white hair algae. You can also purchase an algae scrubber to have some control over where algae will grow in the future. 

The following will be an overview of how to treat/get rid of white hair algae and what might cause white algae to develop in the first place: 

How to treat white hair algae:

Hair algae is a notably frustrating part of nature, which can take quite a while. Likely, you won’t be able to get rid of it entirely on the first try either:

Remove the Algae by Force

In this case, ripping the hair off of the rocks and other structures within your tank is the first step. You can go about this with your bare hands, but gloves are typically preferred. Careful to not damage your decorative statues and substitutes for a regular habitat. You should be able to do this easily in no time. 

Water and Algae Eating Fish

If only it were that simple. You must maintain those mentioned above. Your phosphate levels should be no more than 0.05 ml per liter, and your nitrate level should be no more than 10 ml per liter. This is because white algae thrive when these two elements are at high levels. 

It would also be very beneficial to have animals in your tank that eat algae, among other things. Many fish do so, making your job that much easier. 

Changing the water doesn’t hurt either. It could be that there are too many nutrients or that. Conversely, the water has developed an unhealthy pH level, and unclean water can easily foster any bacteria we’d prefer not to grow within our tanks. 

Green hair Algae bloom
Green Hair Algae Bloom

Revoke the Light Source

If you find that the patch of algae hair is only in one area of the tank, you can also refuse to give that area of the aquarium light. Like any other source of light within aquarium ecosystems and concepts, Algae grows faster and faster with more light. By more light, we mean the amount of light it has and whether or not it has a light to begin with. So to shun that area from participating in photosynthesis and essential nutrients from light sources, you will find that the algae will swiftly cease to exist.

You may also wish to apply a solution to the area as soon as possible, and liquid Carbon is used quite commonly in this case. Just apply the product directly onto the affected areas and await your results. 

Seachem Flourish Excel Bioavailable Carbon - Organic Carbon Source for Aquatic Plants 500 mlOpens in a new tab.

Chemical Solutions and Filters

As a last resort, if you find that the algae have gotten out of control, you might want to consider removing the white hair algae with an algae scrubber. An algae scrubber is a device that filters the tank. The algae will only be driven to grow in a specific area (preferably not on your decorations). This way, you decide where the algae will be. 

Like it or not, algae are a natural part of aquatic terrain. However, the algae filter will utilize the phosphate and nitrate levels to its advantage and dictate where the algae, if any at all, will be. 

Overall, white hair algae can be taken care of relatively quickly if the proper steps are taken. 

Why is there white algae in my tank? 

Phosphate and Nitrate Levels 

Hair algae thrive in the circumstances riddled with high phosphate and nitrate levels. The ideal level for phosphate to be eaten would be 0.05 ml per liter of water, and the perfect level for nitrate would be 10 ml per liter. The lower these levels are, the less likely it will be for algae and other forms of aquatic bacteria to manifest. 

Prolonged Exposure to Light  

They also develop under lengthy periods of exposure to light (10 – 15 hours a day). Not only would direct light onto rocks, objects, and dirt within the tank harbor this, but too much time in the light will encourage algae to develop. Just about anything can grow with the right amount of nutrients and exposure to a source as powerful as light. Notably, algae will grow faster and spread out quicker with a light on its side.

The best solution would be to have a timer on your tank light. No more than 8 hours of light are really necessary, but be sure to check whether or not your fish/animals need more than that. 

Co2, pH, and Water Quality

Certain levels of Co2 can also contribute to an increase in the manifestation of hair algae. There should be no more than 20-30 milliliters of Co2 in a tank if you want to ensure that white hair algae will not grow. 

The same goes for whether or not your tank is clean. Fungus, bacteria, and other undesirable growths within your tank could result from an inappropriate pH level. Filter or replace the water you have in your tank if you notice algae has begun to form, and keep this up to avoid fostering any more algae. 

DIY Algae Scrubber

These are all plausible reasons why white algae have developed within your aquarium. See this video to learn some techniques/methods to use if you intend of removing the algae with an algae scrubber (which will only grow it in your desired area): 


My name is Jaap, and I am a passionate shrimp and fish enthusiast. I rediscovered my love for this hobby with my son and want to share our knowledge and tips with you on this aquarium blog. We cover topics such as setting up and maintaining an aquarium, feeding and breeding your shrimp and fish, and creating the perfect environment for them to thrive.

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