Despite being a self-sustainable system, the aquaponics environment does require a bit of maintenance. There are more issues that may affect its good going and algae growth is among the most common ones, especially for beginners. At some point, algae will inevitably kick in. Failing to care for the system will let algae take everything over. Before quitting, it is worth noting that there are viable solutions to ensure your system is safe.
There are certain aquaponics algae eaters who simply love feeding on these plants. You can just add a few species to your system and algae will become history in no time. Some species have algae among their favorite foods, while others feed on such plants exclusively. But before throwing random species into your tank, you need to know how algae will actually work once in the system.
What is algae after all?
Algae are nothing but plants. Unlike other plants, algae grow in aquatic places. They float on the surface of the water or go underwater. There are hundreds of thousands of different species of algae. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Some of them are furry, while others look slimy. Some of them may seem bubbly, while others look stringy. Green is the most common color though. While algae can also be brown or other nuances, green is the most popular one when it comes to aquaponics systems.
Despite being categorized as plants, algae are not terrestrial, meaning they look different. Forget about leaves, roots or stems – they look like massive loose leaves. Besides, their reproductive structures are simplistic.
What kind of problems algae cause
Algae will inevitably appear in most aquatic environments. Sooner or later, you will see those green leaves around. You need to manage them responsibly or the whole system will fail. Now, there are a few effects that algae will cause and they will slowly kill everything in the environment.
Oxygen depletion is the main effect. Algae will overgrow everything else in no time. The process is known as algae blooms. The algae will require lots of oxygen and the fish will struggle to survive without it. Even if the algae are successfully killed, keep in mind that the oxygen consumption reaches the highest levels during the dying process. In other words, even if you manage to get rid of it, the process itself will still harm the system.
Algae will consume oxygen throughout the day, but also during the night.
Apart from oxygen depletion, pH fluctuations are just as harmful. The pH tells you a lot about the system – whether it is healthy or not. You need a proper balance for your fish and plants to survive. But then, if algae kick in, pH will experience dramatic fluctuations, leading to a disaster.
Algae tend to photosynthesize throughout the day. During this process, the oxygen consumption is lower. Instead, algae require more carbon dioxide. As the carbon dioxide is eliminated from the system, the pH value will skyrocket – the water becomes alkaline.
You will find it quite confusing though. Check the pH level in the morning and it is high. Check it later on in the evening and you will find it in normal limits. This is a sign that you have algae in the system.
While there are more things to do to keep algae under control, adding some aquaponics algae eaters is more likely to provide quality results. This is a fully natural method, but also an economical one. Now, what options do you have out there? Some of them may already be inside your tank.
Bringing certain fish in
There are more species of fish that love feeding on algae. Referred to as the suckerfish, the plecostomus is one of the top choices out there. Such fish are not always used as basic fish – instead, they come in handy when algae become a problem. Their efficiency in algae control is out of this world. Their mouths are designed like suction cups, so they simply drag algae from all over the world. Obviously, these fish are not perfect. In fact, they can outgrow the tank before you even realize it. Therefore, they should not be kept forever – just for algae control whenever you have this problem.
From a different point of view, it might be better to consider fish that work great in aquaponics systems and love eating algae – a great middle solution. The channel catfish is a great option, but the goldfish and koi are just as important. The Mozambique tilapia is also a good algae eater that can work wonders in an aquaponics environment.
How about some crustaceans?
Crustaceans also love eating algae and can thrive in an aquaponics environment. Shrimps are great, but one species in particular is better than others – the Amano shrimp. First of all, this type of shrimp looks interesting and appealing – it will certainly look good in your tank. Second of all, the species loves most types of algae, so it is highly recommended in a tank.
Now, these shrimps do go for more types of foods. To ensure they only go for algae, avoid feeding them commercial food. Keep in mind that Amano shrimps only eat algae when they starve. Therefore, they will go for algae if they fail to find other types of food.
Suggested article: Shrimp And Prawn Aquaponics – The Basics That You Need To Know
As a short final conclusion, certain species of fish and crustaceans are some of the best aquaponics algae eaters. Such an option is preferred because it is entirely natural and does not require chemicals or toxins. Sooner or later, algae will, indeed, invade your tank. It is perfectly normal – such plants go for aquatic environments. This is not always a bad thing, but it could become an issue when the algae take the tank over. Apart from ruining the appearance of your tank, algae will also compete with fish for all kinds of resources and especially oxygen. pH fluctuations will also affect the environment, hence the necessity of constant care and attention.
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