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How To Deal With Orange Algae In Aquariums And Ponds!

With the large influx of beginners to keeping aquariums and fish keeping recently, we have noticed a large spike in the number of people reaching out and asking various questions about how they are able to best manage their aquariums to offer the best care possible for their fish.

We have noticed a large number of people constantly asking about having orange algae in their tanks (sometimes referred to as rust colored algae) with more and more people asking about it with each month that goes by.

Due to this, we have decided to publish this dedicated article going over orange algae and the most frequently asked questions that we see from the community about it.

Our hope is to build the ultimate resource for our readers about having orange algae in their aquariums as well as how they are able to manage its growth and remove it with ease.

Orange algae can grow at a rapid pace if it is left unchecked and does have the ability to quickly take over an aquarium and lead to potential problems due to a lack of oxygen in the water for your fish and a lack of nutrients in the water for your other plants.

This is one of the main reasons that we see so many people reaching out about having orange algae in their aquariums as well as if they should be worried about it due to all of its downsides.

How Do You Get Rid Of Orange Algae From Your Aquarium?

The easiest way to remove orange algae in your aquarium is to change the light cycle that you use but if you have other plants or light-sensitive animals in the aquarium then this can result in other problems.

Physically scraping the orange algae off the items in your tank is a popular way to remove it with many people also taking advantage of a suitable algae eater too.

If you catch your orange algae early enough then it is surprisingly easy to remove from your aquarium by physically removing it.

A decent gravel vacuum can help to remove it from your substrate but orange algae will often form a firm grip on solid objects in your tank needing you to physically wipe it off.

If orange algae is starting to take hold on the decorations that you have in your tank then some people will simply remove them from their aquarium and let them sit in boiling water.

Although you may have to repeat the process a few times, this is one of the easier methods that you are able to use to your advantage to weaken the grip of the orange algae on your aquarium or pond accessories to make it easier to remove.

What Fish Eat Orange Algae?

There are a number of suitable algae eater fish that will consume large amounts of orange algae but you do have to ensure that your algae eater of choice will eat orange algae as some only eat green and brown algae.

Some of the more popular options include plecos, siamese algae eaters, and red-tailed sharks with various snails and shrimp also being suitable.

In our opinion, a bristlenose pleco is probably the best algae eater available for removing orange algae from your tank quickly as they will eat a surprisingly large amount of algae relative to their small size.

They tend to enjoy eating orange algae just as much as green or brown algae too while also making great tank mates for other popular fish with a bristlenose pleco also being cheaper than most people think if you order them online.

If you do keep aggressive fish in your aquarium then a mystery snail may be the better algae eater option to help you control the orange algae build up due to its shell helping to protect it from the aggressive fish.

The mystery snail will eater a large amount of the orange algae but this does result in a large amount of mystery snail poop that will have to be manually removed from the tank with a gravel vacuum so keep that in mind.

Is Orange Algae Toxic?

Although orange algae is not considered toxic, it does grow at a very fast pace and remove a huge amount of oxygen from your aquariums water.

On top of this, when orange algae starts to breakdown it does produce a large amount of ammonia that will definitely have a direct effect on your water quality and potentially lead to other issues.

Thankfully, orange algae does not start to release its high ammonia until weeks or even months after it initially takes hold as the release of ammonia is due to the algae starting to break down.

This gives your plenty of time to remove the orange algae or at least control its growth to ensure that the ammonia release is manageable and will have little to no effect on your water conditions when it begins.

Most people will usually want to remove any orange algae in their aquarium as quickly as possible anyway due to it being able to grow very quickly.

Once it has managed to get a foothold in your substrate and aquarium decorations, it really can be a nightmare to remove from your aquariums or ponds with some people having to throw everything away to remove it.

What Causes Orange Algae In Aquariums?

Orange algae is very common in brand new aquariums but it can also take hold in established aquariums with it usually being added to the tank via new fish, new plants, new substrate, and new decorations that already have orange algae spores on them.

You can try to quarantine new additions to your main aquariums to reduce the chances of orange algae taking hold but most people never do this.

Even experienced fish keepers who have been involved in the hobby for decades can find an orange algae breakout in their aquariums every now and again so don’t feel bad if you are a beginner.

There is usually so much to learn in such a short period of time that the majority of people who do get into fish keeping end up having minor issues like an orange algae breakout when staring out anyway.

In our opinion, the two most common ways that orange algae spores will get into your aquarium is by adding new plants or by not using commercially purchased substrate for your tank.

When it comes to the substrate you can usually just buy a commercial option and about the risk of orange algae but when it comes to the plants, it really can be difficult to remove the chance of orange algae accidentally being added to your tank so some form of quarantining is usually the best option.

What Is The Orange Algae In My Fish Tank?

Orange algae is a type of diatom and is common in water that has been left standing. It tends to be more common in new aquariums or bonds due to its spores being in the substrate or plants that are newly added but it can also take hold in aged aquariums when adding new substrate, plants or fish too.

Although beginners will often worry when they see an orange algae breakout in their aquarium or pond, it can be easy to remove if you catch it early enough.

That said though, the longer you leave the orange algae to take hold in your aquarium, the more difficult it becomes to remove so dealing with it as quickly as possible is usually the best route to take.

As we mentioned earlier in the article, there are a number of algae eater fish, snails, and shrimp that you are able to add to your tank to help you control an orange algae breakout but if you have a large tank and leave it too late to add your algae eaters then they will struggle to slow its growth.

If orange algae has taken hold of your tank then doing a full clean with a water change and then adding your algae eaters is probably your best option.


That brings our article going over orange algae or rust colored algae to an end. We hope that we have been able to help any of our readers who have been having issues with this orange algae building up in their tanks and ponds and that we have been able to help you remove it. The sooner you take action to remove orange algae the better as the job is much easier just after a breakout starts.