How to Clean Algae off Aquarium Decorations Like a Pro

Various aquarium decorations covered in algae

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Aquariums are a beautiful addition to any home or office, providing a serene and tranquil environment. However, maintaining an aquarium is not always a walk in the park. One of the most common problems that aquarium owners face is the growth of algae on the decorations. Algae can quickly turn your beautiful aquatic paradise into a murky, unattractive mess. But don’t worry, with the right knowledge and tools, you can clean algae off your aquarium decorations like a pro. In this guide, we will walk you through the process step by step.

Understanding Algae

Before we dive into the cleaning process, it’s important to understand what algae is and why it grows in your aquarium. Algae is a simple, non-flowering plant. Its species are numerous and can be found in almost all aquatic environments. In aquariums, algae growth is usually a sign of excess nutrients, particularly nitrates and phosphates.

While a small amount of algae can be beneficial for the aquarium ecosystem, providing food for some fish and shrimp, excessive algae growth can be harmful. It can deplete the oxygen in the water and block light to other plants. Moreover, it can also ruin the aesthetic appeal of your aquarium.

Types of Algae

There are several types of algae that you might encounter in your aquarium. Knowing the type of algae you’re dealing with can help you choose the most effective cleaning method.

  • Green Algae: This is the most common type of algae that grows in aquariums. It forms a slimy layer over the aquarium decorations and glass.
  • Brown Algae: Also known as diatoms, brown algae often appear in new aquariums. It forms a brown dust-like layer over the decorations and substrate.
  • Blue-Green Algae: Despite its name, blue-green algae is actually a type of bacteria. It forms a slimy, blue-green layer over the decorations and substrate.
  • Red or Beard Algae: This type of algae is usually red or purple in color and has a hair-like appearance. It’s often found growing on slow-growing plants.

Materials Needed

Now that you have a better understanding of algae, let’s gather the materials you’ll need to clean your aquarium decorations. Here’s a list of items you’ll need:

  • Aquarium-safe algae scrubber or brush
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Vinegar or bleach (optional)
  • Gloves
  • Towel

Steps to Clean Algae off Aquarium Decorations

Follow these steps to get your aquarium decorations looking as good as new:

  1. Remove the Decorations: Start by removing the decorations from the aquarium. Be careful not to disturb the fish or other aquatic life. Place the decorations in a bucket filled with water.
  2. Scrub the Decorations: Using an aquarium-safe algae scrubber or brush, gently scrub the decorations to remove the algae. If the algae is stubborn, you can soak the decorations in a solution of water and vinegar or bleach. However, if you choose to use bleach, make sure to rinse the decorations thoroughly to remove any residue.
  3. Rinse and Dry: Once you’ve removed the algae, rinse the decorations under running water to remove any remaining algae or cleaning solution. Then, dry the decorations with a towel before placing them back in the aquarium.

Preventing Algae Growth

Cleaning algae off your aquarium decorations can be a tedious task. Therefore, it’s best to take steps to prevent algae growth in the first place. Here are some tips:

  • Limit Light Exposure: Algae thrive in light, so limit the amount of light your aquarium receives. Avoid placing your aquarium near windows or in direct sunlight. Also, limit the use of artificial light to about 8-10 hours a day.
  • Maintain Water Quality: Regularly test your aquarium water for nitrate and phosphate levels. High levels of these nutrients can promote algae growth. Regular water changes can help maintain water quality.
  • Add Algae-Eating Fish: Some species of fish, like the Siamese Algae Eater or the Bristlenose Pleco, can help control algae growth by eating it.


Cleaning algae off aquarium decorations can seem like a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and tools, it can be done effectively. Remember, prevention is always better than cure. By maintaining good water quality, limiting light exposure, and adding algae-eating fish, you can prevent excessive algae growth and keep your aquarium looking its best.

Become an Aquarium Cleaning Pro

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