Black Beard Algae

Algae are the recurring nightmares of any aquarist having a planted tank. Among all algae that infest a planted tank, Black Beard Algae or BBA is considered to be the most notorious one. The attached image shows BBA infested plants in my tank. This is a very hardy algae and it’s really very tough to remove it from the tank. The main reason for this algae is the phosphate and other nutrients generated from leftover food. So, if your tank is infested with BBA, I’d suggest cutting the feeding off, immediately. You need to stop all fertilization and CO2 injection as well, ASAP.

There are very few fishes that will eat these algae. SAEs and Yamato Shrimps (Amano Shrimps) are known to eat these algae but they might not be enough if BBA are well-settled in your tank. total black outs also may not work as these algae are not caused by extra light but by extra nutrients. Frequent water change is suggested during the treatment. Adding more plants, especially the aggressive and fast-growing floating ones like, Pistia, Salvina, Duckweed to absorb the extra nutrient quickly, might work as well, if the algae bloom is in it's initial stage.

Some people advice that to scrap off the algae manually from the leaves is the only way to get rid of these ugly additions. Some also suggest giving the affected plants a quick and short bleach bath. I have never tried this bleach bath, as I thought it would be too risky for the plants.

I had a real tough time fighting against these unwanted guests. I was not too careful at the time of the first attack and I ended up in almost revamping the entire set up. After that, for BBA, I started believing "Prevention is Better than Cure"! As soon as I see the first sign of BBA, I add extra plants (floating plants are good as they are easy to add and remove) and try to figure out what could be the reason of these extra nutrients to stop it immediately.


retoid said…
In the photograph you are referencing as being BBA (Black Beard Algae) is actually not BBA.
The algae growing on those plants is actually most likely hair algae.

Hair algae is commonly caused by having excess nutrients in your tank. This algae is not necessarily a bad thing since it is considered a food source for many algae eating species.
Even several omnivorous fish will feast on this algae.

The algae you refer to, BBA, looks completely different to what you have in the photo above.
Go to
to see a picture and a description on BBA.
Black Beard Algae is a much more irritating algae to most aquarists.
Very few species will feast on this algae ad it is somewhat difficult to remove.

I hope this helps.
Good luck.
Steve said…
dosing with erythromycin works wonders.
Jean said…
Algae is one very fundamental element in setting up one's aquarium. It provides ornament at the same time, serve as hiding places for the fishes. freshwater tank algae are examples of these algae.
Jean said…
Algae is one very fundamental element in setting up one's aquarium. It provides ornament at the same time, serve as hiding places for the fishes. freshwater tank algae are examples of these algae.
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