Best Ways to STOP Hair Algae

So you have always had a crystal clear tank. Now all of a sudden, you have a bit of hair algae. You pay it no mind thinking its just a small amount. What harm can it do?

Over the course of a few weeks, the small hairy problem gets worse. It gets to a point where you don’t know what to do to get rid of it and keep it out of your tank.

Algae Take Over

Algae Take Over

More than half of new aquarium keepers (and some experienced ones) get out of the salt water hobby because algae takes over their tanks and they go through the frustration of trying to get it under control before eventually giving up and tearing their tanks apart.

So what causes hair algae? What makes it grow?

Green Hair Algae begins to grow when the Nitrates and Phosphates in your system get too high. Add a light source and hair algae has everything it needs to live a long and prosperous life.


Both phosphates and nitrates can be introduced into an aquarium by using a poor quality water source in addition to other things.

So let’s get down to it…


Remove it manually

  • It’s the good ole tug and pull method. Although this is time consuming (not to mention your arm gets exhausted fairly quickly), it is the most fastest and most effective way to rid yourself of hair algae.

Change your water source

  • If you can afford to do so, purchase an RO/DI system to make your own water. It will pay for itself within a year. It also gives you the convenience of not having to leave the house to go to your local LFS and having to drag water containers back and forth from home.
  • We currently use a RO/DI 5 stage system from Bulk Reef Supply that can make around 75 gallons of water a day.
  • You can also use this system for drinking water as well as your top off water for your tanks.

Perform frequent water changes

  • Many aquarium keepers swear by weekly water changes. Some say they are unnecessary. But, if it makes sense, why not try it.
  • Water changes allow you to remove nutrients from your tank and replace the nutrient filled water with fresh salt water for your ocean living dwellers. If you are having high phosphate or nitrate problems, frequent water changes will assist with bringing those levels to a more suitable level for your tank.
  • Remember to use RO/DI water when doing water changes to your tank to make sure you are not adding any additional nutrients in your system that are normally found in tap and well water.

Cut down on Feedings

  • Feeding your tank inhabitants is a common way to add nutrients to your tank.
  • The quality and quantity of food you are feeding your tank will also determine what type of nutrients you are adding into your tank. Know what you are feeding your fish. Check out the ingredients.
  • Rinsing frozen foods before introducing them to your tank will help.
  • Make sure you feed your fish no more than what they will consume in a few minutes. I normally feed very small amounts until my fish seems no longer interested in eating. Your corals and other reef inhabitants will eat what ever left overs your fish leave behind.

Invest in a Protein Skimmer

  • Protein Skimmers can be very expensive, but they are very effective with removing nutrients from your aquarium.
  • You want to make sure you purchase a protein skimmer that can handle twice the volume of water that you have in your system. For instance, if you have a 75 gallon aquarium, you will ideally want to purchase a protein skimmer that can handle 150 gallons.
  • You will be amazed what a protein skimmer pulls out of your water. The collection cup accumulates “skim-mate” which is also known as fish poop. LOL. It smells something horrible!

Add a Tang or a Seahare

  • This won’t remove the problem, but will merely cover it up.
  • Tangs will graze daily on green hair algae.
  • Seahares are known as cows of the sea. Be very careful when purchasing this algae eating beast. Once there is no more algae in your tank for your sea hare to munch on, it will starve to death if you don’t provide it with something to graze on.


Increase your Clean up Crew

  • Sometimes the increase in nutrients in your tank is because you don’t have a large enough CUC. Snails, shrimp, sea stars, urchins and hermit crabs are some of the many members of a good clean up crew. They eat all of the left overs that your fish and coral leave behind so that food doesn’t decay in your tank causing phosphate, nitrate and ammonia problems.
  • 20140124-133131.jpg
  • Your clean up crew will also pick at some of the hair algae growing in your tank keeping it to a minimum. Don’t know how much to add? You can find cleaner packages all over the internet. Just make sure you choose a reputable one.

Add a Refugium 

  • A refugium will grow plants that will pull phosphates, nitrates and certain nutrients out of your water.
  • Chaeto and Mangroves are my personal favorites.

Any other ideas about how to get rid of hair algae? Let us know…Comment below!


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