How I Got Rid Of The Algae In My Fish Tank In Only 5 Days!

If you’re short on time, I cleared the algae in my aquarium by adding 5 Neocaridina shrimp, 3 Amano shrimp, and 1 zebra nerite snail and letting them eat all the algae.

Amano shrimp and nerite snails typically handle most common algae within a week of being introduced to your tank.

Neocaridina shrimp (cherry shrimp) consume a lot of soft algae, making them effective against common algae types.

If you can only choose one algae eater, go for Amano shrimp—they consume a significant amount of algae daily and eat the widest range of algae types.

My article on algae eaters provides more detail, but these three algae eaters should get the job done for most people.

Getting Rid Of Algae In The Fish Tank

get rid of algae in fish tank

My new aquariums usually develop brown diatom algae, green dust algae, and green spot algae while cycling but this is normal and to be expected.

  • Brown Diatom Algae: Brown, dusty, and slimy, this algae typically grows on glass, substrate, decorations, and plants.
  • Green Dust Algae: This algae forms a fine, green, dust-like film, commonly found on glass and plant leaves.
  • Green Spot Algae: Characterized by small, hard, green spots, this algae grows on plant leaves, hardscape, and glass.

Fortunately, my three preferred algae eaters eat these common algae types in huge amounts.

I’d want to share a real-time example with a tank I recently set up to show how well this method works.

Day 1

Day 1 Of Adding My Algae Eaters
Day 1 Of Adding My Algae Eaters

The cycle is complete, and my water parameter test kit indicates it’s safe to add livestock.

  • Ammonia – 0ppm
  • Nitrite – 0ppm
  • Nitrate – 10ppm

I add 5 neocaridina cherry shrimp, 3 Amano shrimp, and 1 zebra nerite snail. Following the stocking guidelines in the table below should get similar results.

Algae EaterPer 8 Gallons (30 Liters)
Neocaridina Shrimp5
Amano Shrimp3
Zebra Nerite Snail1

The shrimp took about an hour to acclimate to their new environment, while the snail seemed unfazed by the transition.

All three Amano shrimp focused on the brown diatom and green spot algae growing on my Staurogyne Repens, ignoring other surfaces.

The cherry shrimp spent the first day hiding in the stem plants but ate some of the algae growing on them.

My nerite snail sleeps during the day and eats algae at night, primarily focusing on the algae on the tank glass.

Day 2

Day 2 Of Adding My Algae Eaters
Day 2 Of Adding My Algae Eaters

Water parameters are holding steady and the shrimp seem to have settled into their new aquarium.

The algae on the Staurogyne Repens has been eaten, but there’s still plenty on the Eleocharis Pusilla and stem plants.

All three Amano shrimp eat algae throughout the tank, without sticking to a single location.

My neocaridina shrimp confidently move around, eating algae on the Eleocharis and Staurogyne Repens.

The nerite snail has changed its sleeping location, indicating it has been active at night.

Day 3

Day 3 Of Adding My Algae Eaters
Day 3 Of Adding My Algae Eaters

The Staurogyne Repens is algae-free, and there’s less algae on the Eleocharis Pusilla and stem plants.

All three Amano shrimp have been ravenous, consistently eating algae for three days straight.

My neocaridina shrimp have been grazing on algae, favoring the green dust and green spot algae on the stem plants.

The nerite snail was active during the day and ate algae on the Eleocharis and tank glass.

Day 4

Day 4 Of Adding My Algae Eaters
Day 4 Of Adding My Algae Eaters

Most of the algae in the tank had been eaten, though small amounts remained on the Eleocharis Pusilla and stem plants.

My neocaridina and Amano shrimp concentrated on the remaining algae on the stem plants, ignoring the Eleocharis.

The bulk of the algae on the Eleocharis was around the base, which may have been difficult for the shrimp to reach.

My nerite snail seemed to sleep through day 4, but the tank glass was almost completely algae-free.

Day 5

Day 5 Of Adding My Algae Eaters
Day 5 Of Adding My Algae Eaters

All visible algae on the plants had been eaten, though a small amount remained on the tank glass.

Shrimp often struggle to eat certain types of algae on the glass, making snails a better option.

I could have added more snails, but there wasn’t much algae left. The shrimp spent most of the day eating algae and biofilm on the plants that were too small for me to see.

Aftercare For Your Algae Eaters

Target Feeding Algae Eaters
Target Feeding Algae Eaters

Once your tank is algae-free, you may need to target feed your algae eaters to provide them with a healthy diet and help them manage any new algae growth.

Most high-quality fish food works well for this, so there’s no need to buy specialized shrimp food.

I use Fluval Bug Bites and Hikari Mini Algae Wafers to target feed my shrimp, but Snowflake Shrimp Food is also a great option.

Nerite snails will continue to graze on the algae and biofilm on the tank glass, which the shrimp typically leave alone, ensuring there’s plenty of food for them.

Maintenance Tips For Algae-Free Tanks

Algae eaters address the symptoms rather than the root cause of algae growth in your tank and proactive tank maintenance can help reduce the likelihood of algae regrowing.

Regular water changes and cleaning are simple yet effective methods for removing excess nutrients from your water.

A weekly 30-50% partial water change should manage excess nutrients and minimize the chance of algae growth.

Monitoring ammonium, nitrate, and phosphate levels, and using partial water changes to keep them in check, will further reduce algae growth.

Adjusting your lighting period to 6-8 hours per day can help combat algae but monitor your live plants for potential issues.