Bluegreen Algae Cyanophyta

Blue-greens form a slimy covering of thousands of cells in a gelatinous matrix. This covering not only looks bad and interferes with the leaves of higher plants, but actually smells like a swamp. Fortunately the film is seldom attached and can be removed mechanically from the substrate and plants. These algae are very dangerous in large quantities and could eventually destroy all other life in the aquarium if not controlled. They develop mainly in fresh tap water, especially if it contains a high percentage of calcium salts. They often appear in newly established aquariums or when a large proportion of the water is changed too frequently and is replaced by hard tap water.

Plenty of light and undisturbed conditions are required for the growth of these algae. If the water is in constant motion through heavy aeration or filtration, blue-greens will not thrive; nor will they increase in numbers if there are fish constantly moving through the tank and disturbing the bottom material.

Close-up view of a bubblenest together with some branches of Riccia. PhO' to by H,J. Richter.

Very young fry of a leaf fish (Polycentrus schomburgki) resting on a very broad leaf of Echinodorus. Photo by H.J. Richter.

If blue-green algae do appear in the aquarium, they should first be removed by stripping off the film which rapidly covers the plants and bottom of the tank. The remaining fragments are allowed to settle to the bottom and then siphoned out. If just these precautions are taken, the algae will appear again within a few days. At the same time the algae are manually removed, some of the water (containing fine fragments of algal film) should also be removed and replaced by soft water. The lighting should also be changed for two or three days, either by reducing the light, moving the aquarium to a shaded area, increasing the light' by the addition of extra bulbs, or moving the aquarium into sunlight. As long as the light intensity changes, either up or down, the algae will be discouraged. Gro-Lux type lighting also greatly retards the growth of blue-green algae. Snails eat some species of blue-greens, as do the various algae-eating fishes, and Corydoras catfishes and

There are many commercial products and devices for the mechanical removal of algae. Courtesy of Eureka Products Company.

Armored catfish {Corydoras aeneus) photographed while stirring up the bottom in search of food.

cichlids constantly stir up the bottom and prevent formation of algal colonies.

Blue-green algae often appear .toward the beginning of spring, which allows the seasonal use of frog and toad tadpoles as algae-eaters. If many tadpoles are put in the aquarium and not fed, they will soon eat virtually all the algae and prevent the remainder from forming colonies because of their constant swirling of the water during swimming,

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Aquarium and Fish Care Tactics

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