Algae control in a saltwater aquarium is important.
Having algae in your tank doesn’t mean anything is necessarily wrong, in fact, sometimes it will only grow under healthy conditions!
Algae need two things to grow, light and nutrients, two things that the much more desirable corals also require.
Outside of keeping the aquarium dark and not feeding the fish, there is not much the home aquarist can do to keep algae from growing.
Luckily, algae is also an excellent food for many aquarium inhabitants. In fact, algae is almost a necessity for many herbivorous fish and inverts.
Many people are familiar with the many chemical means of algae control.
Unfortunately, most of these chemicals are copper based and harmful to not only corals, but also invertebrates and even some fish.
The other alternative is the labor-intensive manual removal method.
This involves scraping or pulling algae from the glass, rocks, and every other aquarium surface, taking up the aquarist’s valuable time, and giving reef aquarium maintenance a bad reputation.
There are many creatures that would gladly do the work for you! These are called “Reef Janitors,”and come in many shapes and sizes.
The most well known are the Hermit Crabs and snails seen commonly in local pet shops. The general rule of thumb for keeping reef janitors is 1 janitor per gallon of water.
This may seem like a lot in the beginning, but you’ll soon realize it may not be enough! In addition to snails and hermits, Sand Starfish and Sea Cucumbers are very important members of the crew.
They spend almost all of their time in the sand bed, and although not often seen, they are performing a very important duty. They keep the sand moving, thereby keeping it well oxygenated and free from debris.
There are many choices for inhabitants in a reef aquarium, but Reef Janitors are a very important and often neglected choice.
So before you fill up your tank with decorative animals, keep in mind the janitors.
Tangs, like the yellow tang and kole tang, will eat many types of algae.
Crabs, like the emerald crab, help to eat the hair algae most of the hermits won’t.
Hermit Crabs and Snails will eat most everything else, including left over food!
Just make sure you give those hermits extra shells to grow, otherwise you may end up missing your snails!
We all know that algae is inevitable in an aquarium, but with the right clean-up crew and a few guidelines to follow, algae control doesn’t have to be a problem.
In fact, you might not even know it’s even there!