How Not to Kill Black Beard Algae

How not to kill Black Beard Algae

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This is an update on our little experiment on ridding ourselves of one of the most vile, hard to remove algae that we have ever encountered. We have learned how not to kill Black Beard Algae.

The recap

How not to kill Black Beard algae in our 12 gallon longIn our last post, we described the situation. We had been battling Black Beard Algae in our Mr. Aqua 12 long aquarium since shortly after the creation of the scape about 8 months ago.

We have, it seems, every week, scraped, shot, and cut away at this menacing, vile plague during every water change to no avail. We have scoured the internet looking for a remedy to our dilemma and have found all kinds of potential fixes, but none have worked for us.

One of my go-to forums that I tend to visit in times of trouble is the Barr Report. I feel that Tom Barr is a fascinating biologist, and through experimentation, trial and error, and testing has come up with a solution to every issue that I can think of that we aquarists’ face in this hobby.

Someone on his forum, and it may have even been him suggested to crank up the CO2 and turn down the lights, etc., and of course dose, dose, dose, and you should be able to overcome the battle that seems to never be won. I figured if anyone could kill Black Beard Algae, it would be him, and I have no doubt he can. Well, for us, that did not happen.

While trying to kill black beard algae we killed our fish!

I think that one of the issues that we are having is lack of patience. Well, I am anyway. I’ll speak for myself and not my wife. We both work full time, so the time we actually get to spend micromanaging our aquariums is not near as much as we would like. I picture some of the folks that hang out in the forums as being retired or at least semi-retired with a little more time to spare. I could be totally wrong though. It’s funny the picture we get of someone we know nothing about.

This is a picture of our Mr. Aqua 12 Long aquarium after treating Black Beard AlgaeWe tried the method of attack that we saw in the video on how to kill Black Beard Algae that I posted in my last article. Not a good idea, for us anyway.

It breaks my heart to tell you that we killed all our Chili Rasboras and at least half of our RCS population, our Scarlit Badis, and not to mention melting our Baby Tears (Hemianthus Callitrichoides), Cabomba Carolinianas, Mini Pellia, and Phoenix Moss.

We also had to remove the log that we had set as our main focal point. Good riddance to that thing though. It was the origination of this menace to society. I am really bummed about our setup though. What a hard lesson to learn.

I tested the water quality and parameters today figuring at least the ammonia would be spiked due to all the death in the tank, but surprisingly the quality was normal, and the parameters were stable. The water is a bit cloudy, and I would imagine that it’s due to decaying, melting plants.

The results

So, here we are a week later with a tank that looks like a nuclear disaster area. Most of the algae is gray and dying which is a good thing, but some of it seemed to manage to not get annihilated. The whole scape is a mess now, and it’s a real shame because our scape was finally starting to mature and look like we had planned it to look. What you see in the picture above is what we have left. I wouldn’t be surprised if our next batch of RCS has three heads. Very sad…

We shot video of the progress of this nightmare on trying to kill Black Beard Algae, and will post it as soon as we find some editing software. If anyone reading this knows of some decent inexpensive photo and movie editing software, please comment below.

Fast forward- The Process of removing BBA

Yes, we almost killed all our animals. But its a new day in our Mr. Aqua 12 Long aquarium. Here is a detailed article of how we killed black beard algae in this aquarium –  How to Remove Black Beard Algae – This Worked!

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6 Responses

  1. What a battle. I hope you are able to get rid of your remaining spots without causing more damage!

    To answer your question at the bottom of the post if you have a Mac, imovie is free for video editing. As for photo’s, GIMP is basically a free photoshop alternative. Both have a learning curve though, but are well documented.

    1. Thank you, Ian, for your words of encouragement. We have done all the damage that we are going to do and see that our tank is healing. The water is still a little cloudy but all in all the setup is bouncing back. Thanks also for the info regarding photo editing software, I will definitely take a look at GIMP.

      1. It’s a beautiful tank, I love how the glassware blends in seamlessly. I hope it heals quickly, although a lot of fishkeeping comes down to patience.

        Just a quick pointer for your blog… If you center align your images, you won’t get the first sentence of the next paragraph squeeze along side it when viewed on desktop. At the moment you have them aligned to the left.

        All the best for the future!

  2. You never explain what you did to kill your tank while trying to remove the black beard algae in this article! The only mention of what you did was saying you tried the method in the video you posted in a previous article, but I’m not sure how to get there from this article as I arrived directly here, to this page, from a google search. This page has no “previous” or “next” buttons to take me back or forward in blog time, and the sidebar only hosts a list of recent posts. A link to that previous article that you mentioned on this one would have been supremely helpful. As you can probably tell, I’m a bit frustrated with my own infestation and I’m about to begin the process of fixing it, but I’d like to avoid the pitfalls others have already discovered. I’m not mad at you. I’m just frustrated at my situation and am afraid to take a step forward for fear that I’ll end up murdering my whole tank as well.

    1. Hi Nicole,

      We apologize for the difficulty you experienced in navigating our site. We changed themes recently and apparently lost some links.

      Our Blog “How to Remove Black Beard Algae – This Worked” ( explains the process. We used a 50/50 mix of Flourish Excel and Hydrogen Peroxide. We removed about 2/3 of the water and used a spray bottle to apply the mix to the algae. The BBA was gone in about 2 weeks and the tank was recovering nicely in about a month. But within about an hour of completing the treatment, we lost all of our chili rasboras except one and most of our RCS. We were frustrated and desperate to get rid of the algae that was taking over our tank, but didn’t know the treatment would kill our fish. It was a horrible experience. Since then, I have spot treated our tanks using the same mix VERY CAREFULLY with no loss of life. I use only about a millimeter of the mix per gallon of water. Turn off the pump, pull out about half the water and use a syringe to apply the mix the directly to the algae. Then complete your normal maintenance, cleaning, etc., refill the tank and turn the pump back on. If the algae is in more than one area, treat only one area at a time and wait at least a week between treatments. I have discovered that the mix loses strength if it sits so I mix just enough to do each treatment. This process is slow, but we haven’t lost any fish doing it this way. If your tank is nearly overrun by black beard and you want to treat it all at once the way we did the first time, it will work. But please remove all the animals first.

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