Getting creatures to control algae is rarely a good idea. While some will eat algae (like snails) they will only eat specific kinds, and only so much. In addition, that's one more creature you need to look out for. As an example with snails, you can not (or at least should not) keep them in acidic water (anything with a pH under 7) which is contrary to what Bettas prefer (they like soft acidic water). Why? Snail shells are made of calcium, and calcium disolves in acids.
Algea forms if there is an imbalance between the amount of light provided and the amount of nutrients in the water. If either of these are out of balance, algae will take advantage.
As an example, if you provide too much light the plants will photosythesize all out until they run out of a nutrient, in low tech tanks this is almost always CO2. At that point, the plants will slow down or stop, allowing algae to take advantage. On the flip side, if there is too little light for the amount of nutrients present, the algae will again take advantage because it can grow even under the most minimal of light (from a window, or room ambiant light).
Usually the problem is too much light, and the solution is simply to reduce the duration your light is on each day. A simple table lamp timer works great for this, you can find them in every department and hardware store. Set it for 10 hours or so to start. If you don't get any algae, you can attempt to increase the duration and observe. If at 10 hours you are still getting algae, turn it down to 9 or 8 hours.
It is important to note that once formed, the algae will forever stay in the tank unless you remove it. So if you turn the light down, don't expect any algae you have to go away. However, some algae is always to be expected and is quite natural, nothing to panic about. In fact, algae is good for a tank because it works the exact same way as live plants. It uses nutrients (which includes Ammonia) to photosythesize.
but wanted to add,
I've been in a long-term battle with algea and I know how hard it is to deal with. I had about 15 ramshorn snails in my 26 gallon tank and they werent helping to get rid of it at all, I had my light cycle down to 6 hours and everything.
This is what finally got rid of most of it ---
I cleaned my tank - took out about 30% of just water, no gravel vac'ing. and then took out another 30% with gravel vacuuming. THEN when all of this was done I took out my plants and decorations and kind of rubbed them all to get some of the algea off of them. Then I took a chemical-free sponge and cleaned off all the walls.
When all of that was done I refilled, and havent noticed any new algea growth in about a week and a half.
I was battling brown algae about a month ago, and I did something similar to Aemaki.
My problem came from a combination of too many nutrients AND too much light. I was getting algae growth all OVER my decorations, gravel and the glass walls.
What solved it for me was doing two back to back water changes of roughly 35% (do one water change, fill the tank back up, and do another right after it. also, I only did this ONCE!), scrubbing all decorations/walls down, adding just one dosage of fertilizer per week, and cutting my lights off around 8 or 9pm.
Other things that were helpful to combating the algae were my mystery snail and the addition of TONS of stem plants. There's still just a little bit of algae in my tank, namely on the last plastic plant, but I don't even bother with it because my snail pretty much keeps it in check.
I wanted to keep the algea in there since i have no plants... I have only been cleaning it off when i can no longer see the fish, fron glass of tank likes to get covered. I WILL get a pleco to help. I thought that salt would help, still a noob, and that did not work. (accedentally salted the snail! Not trying that again!!! I thank you all for the insight!
I WILL get a pleco to help. I thought that salt would help, still a noob, and that did not work.
I wouldn't. Even small plecos still get up to 6" and they need more room than a 10 gallon offers. In addition they are messy fish (lots of waste) and need more volume than their size suggests. As an added note, they only eat algae as juveniles usually and that tapers off into almost none as they mature into adults.
As I said, using creatures to control algae is rarely a good idea.
II have only been cleaning it off when i can no longer see the fish
I agree with everybody that has posted. I am battling algae myself, so I've just stepped up on my cleaning. Cleaning it more often is not only beneficial to keep ammonia/nitrite/nitrates down and in check, but it will also help to get rid of the algae. To be completely honest, and I apologize for being blunt but if you prefer to get a snail or a pleco (or any other quick fixes) to "clean the tank for you" then.......I don't really know what to say. Waterchanges are not that difficult unless you have to suddenly empty out a 55 gallon tank with a 3 gallon bucket.
Last edited by bahamut285; 12-23-2012 at 05:59 PM.
Something that I picked up somewhere, and has really worked for me:
What I do is give my tank "nap time" where the lights are out in the middle of the day for a couple of hours. So, lights on from 10a - 1p, off from 1p-3p, and then on again from 3-10p. For some reason, my plants don't care about this, but the algae seemingly does, and does not regrow once I remove it. Very wierd, but that's the only thing that's different from when I had my huge BBA explosion.
And seriously, water changes and adding some plants (even easy ones) help a ton. Like twice a week water changes. So, you have no plants now, but it couldn't hurt...the easy ones like java fern and anubias are almost as easy as fake plants, and the benefits are just huge.