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How to: Remove Algae and Clean Your Plastic Aquarium Plants

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It’s a common problem for aquarium owners: plastic aquarium plants covered in green algae. 

Fortunately, there is an easy way to clean your plastic aquarium plants and eliminate that pesky algae. 

You can remove algae in your aquarium using a vinegar and water solution, bleach solution, or a toothbrush (or other scrub brush) to scrub the algae off gently. The best way to remove algae is by preventing it altogether. 

With the right supplies and some elbow grease, you can quickly have your plastic aquarium plants looking good as new. 

In this blog post, we’ll explain the steps you need to take to remove algae, how to clean your plastic aquarium plants quickly, and more!

Soak the Plants in a Vinegar and Water Solution

Vinegar is a great way to remove the algae from plastic aquarium plants. 

Use a pair of tongs or gloves to remove the plant from the aquarium, and place it into a bucket of water mixed with one part vinegar to three parts water. 

Plastic aquarium plants

Ensure the plant is submerged in the solution for at least 30 minutes. 

Once soaked, you can rinse the plant off with clean water to remove any left behind vinegar. 

You can then add the plant back to the tank. However, remember to wash your hands or the tool you use before doing this to avoid adding any bacteria to the tank. 

Bleach Solution or Use an Old Toothbrush to Scrub the Algae off

Sometimes, simply scrubbing the plant with a pad or scrubber may not remove the algae. 

If this is the case, you can use an old toothbrush to help scrub off the algae. 

Remember to use a 10-percent bleach solution when doing this. 

Bleach can affect the color of brightly colored plants, so if your plants are brightly colored, you should only soak them for five minutes in the bleach solution

After the plants have soaked in the bleach solution for the appropriate amount of time, you must rinse them in clear water and let them air dry before returning them to the tank.

If there is only ordinary debris on the plant, you can brush it or gently rub it off while the plant is still in the aquarium. 

Gently rub the leaves to dislodge the algae, then submerge the plants in a bucket of clean, conditioned water and allow them to soak for another 10 minutes. Finally, rinse them well before returning them to the tank.

Keep a Clean Tank

Remember to address algae growth as soon as it is spotted. Usually, it can be rubbed off without removing the plant from the tank. 

To prevent algae from growing in the future, make sure you clean your aquarium regularly and feed your fish in moderation. 

A balanced diet, a healthy filter system, and regular water changes are essential for keeping your aquarium clean and algae growth-free

It is also important to remember that plastic aquarium plants can last for many years if cared for properly, so it’s worth cleaning them and removing any algae growth as soon as possible.

Types of Algae in an Aquarium 

Algae is a common issue for aquarium hobbyists, but it doesn’t have to be a nuisance. Several types of algae can naturally occur in an aquarium, and understanding the differences between them can help you determine the best course of action for managing their presence. 

In this section, we’ll discuss the different types of algae you may find in your aquarium so that you can better understand how to care for your tank.

Green Algae

Green algae are the most common type of algae in an aquarium. These algae grow with photosynthesis and appear when there’s a spike in nutrients or light. 

To prevent green algae growth, avoid exposure to direct sunlight and keep your tank’s nutrient levels in check. Nutrient levels usually rise when you overfeed your fish, creating organic waste.

If you do find yourself with a green algae problem, the best way to get rid of it is by using the black-out method or a UV sterilizer. 

While the black-out method is more effective in killing green water algae, it will also damage plants. As such, it’s best to use a UV sterilizer if you have any other plants in your aquarium. 

Additionally, snails and shrimps make great green water algae eaters; however, be sure your fish won’t eat them or the tank’s filter does not absorb them. 

Of course, there are great fish that can help with the problem as well. A few examples are Cory Catfish (bottom-feeders) or common Plecos.

Certain chemicals are available in the market that will help you get rid of green water algae, but it’s best to consult your local fish store or a specialist before using them. 

After all, you don’t want to cause more harm than good by using the wrong product. 

As with other algae, it’s best to keep on top of your aquarium maintenance and not let the algae take over. 

By staying vigilant and taking the necessary steps to eliminate the green water algae, you can ensure that your aquarium remains clean and healthy.

Red Algae

Red algae grows in aquariums and is characterized by its red coloration. Red algae are generally a species of the Rhodophyta phylum, which includes about 5,000 species. 

They can range in size from very small to quite large and grow on hard surfaces, rocks, wood, and other objects in the tank.

Unfortunately, red algae can also cause problems in an aquarium if improperly maintained. If conditions are not ideal for the algae’s growth, it can become a nuisance and take over the entire tank. 

If this happens, it’s essential to take steps to reduce its growth or risk stressing out your fish and other inhabitants. 

After two minutes, rinse the items with water and return them to the tank. This should get rid of the black beard algae.

Brown Algae

Brown algae can be a nuisance in any aquarium, but it doesn’t have to be. 

You can prevent brown algae from growing with the right amount of light, oxygen, and a regular water change. 

However, if it does, you can manually remove it or use a water change and filter change to eliminate it. 

If all else fails, you can add some algae eaters to your tank, like Siamese algae eaters, snails, and Otocinclus.

You can also use an algaecide, but you should be careful and read the instructions before using it. 

Finally, check your water parameters to ensure they are in the proper range for the type of fish you have in your tank.

Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae (BGA) is a type of photosynthetic bacteria known as cyanobacteria. They’re often found in aquariums with poor water circulation, low oxygen levels, and high levels of nitrates. 

This type of algae typically appears as a light greenish or blueish film on the substrate, rocks, filter, or aquarium walls. 

It can grow rapidly if given the right conditions, and it’s difficult to remove once it has taken hold. 

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