Clean Up Crew for Hair Algae in a Reef Tank

When it comes to your home aquarium you can spend a lot of time, effort, and money designing and creating the perfect tank. However, unfortunately, there are a few things that can easily cause problems and overtake your tank.

One of these is hair algae. It grows at an incredibly fast pace and can completely overtake and ruin your tank within just a couple of days. Not only does it look very ugly but it can also suffocate your corals and trap your fish. This makes it not only an eyesore but also a dangerous plant to have in your tank.

In order to get rid of and prevent hair algae from appearing or growing you will need to have plenty of clean-up crew in your tank. This is because hair algae can appear at any time and for this reason, you will need some powerful and efficient snails, hermit crabs, shrimp, and fish that can eat them almost as soon as they sprout.

So, here we will tell you everything that you need to know about hair algae, what it is and how to get rid of it by choosing some of the best clean-up crew that can eat these algae in your reef tank.

What is hair algae?

Hair algae is an incredibly common form of green algae that can grow at any point in your reef tank. It grows by forming a thick blanket of material from which short filaments grow. It is an extremely fast-growing plant which is why is it most commonly seen as a pest in the hobbyist world.

It can be incredibly difficult to maintain and is not considered to be the prettiest of algae, hence why it is typically avoided for use in home reef tanks. 

What causes hair algae?

One of the main causes of hair algae is an imbalance of phosphate and nitrate in your home tank. Hair algae will typically start to grow when these levels in your aquarium are too high. 

Normally you will see it start to appear when your tank is in its cycling period when it is attempting to balance out the levels of nutrients in the tank.

It may also begin to appear when there is an abundance of light in your tank. Not only will this help to cause hair algae but it will also help it to spread incredibly rapidly.

How to get rid of hair algae?

So, if you do have hair algae in your saltwater tank you will want to get rid of it as quickly as possible. The early that you can remove it from your tank the better because once it has started to spread the more difficult it is to remove.

One way to remove hair algae from your tank is to literally rip it out with your hands. When you do this you will need to make sure that you have turned off the powerheads as this will stop any loose part of the algae from floating around the rest of the tank, hiding and then respawning, causing you to do the process all over again.

Once you have removed all of the hair algae from your tank you should make sure that your levels are correct in your tank to help stop the algae from forming again. Check the light, nitrate, and phosphate levels.

However, this method can very quickly become time-consuming and a pain. Instead, another method is to employ the use of algae eaters. 

What will eat green hair algae in my reef tank?

If you want an easier method of ridding your tank of hair algae then you should look no further than a “clean up crew”. These types of creatures will happily munch away on any hair algae that you have in the tank.

So, not only will they help to remove any leftover parts of the algae if you rip it out but they will also stop it growing in the first place.

There are several different types of creatures that you can choose to add to your tank for this purpose.

Foxface and Rabbitfish

Not only are these fish a great option for removing any hair algae from your reef tank but they also have a fantastic temperament. They are very relaxed in nature and will not cause a problem to the relationships among your fish.

They will eat away at almost any form of algae that you have in your home tank, meaning that they will eat any hair algae that you have in your tank.

However, you should opt for one fish from this species, as these fish can become territorial between each other in your tank. 

Mexican turbo snail

If you are looking for a different type of creature to ridding your home tank of hair algae, you should definitely consider the Mexican Turbo Snail as a good addition.

These little creatures can rid a decently-sized home aquarium of unwanted algae in only a few days. They are incredibly efficient at removing any form of stubborn algae in almost no time at all.

However, you will need to make sure that you are able to keep their population under control. They reproduce at an alarming rate. So, if you want a cleanup crew that also requires the minimum amount of effort then these guys are not the best option for you.

Hermit crabs

These crabs simply love to eat algae and will happily survive on it alone. They are very active creatures that will happily participate in the liveliness of your tank. 

They make great additions to any home reef tank as they are no extra trouble. They simply keep your reef tank in top condition by eating all algae in sight.


When it comes to keeping your tank free of hair algae this can be a difficult task. The algae are incredibly fast-growing and can be a nightmare to remove manually. That is why it is best to add a clean-up crew that works for you.

You should consider how much effort you are willing to put into your tank and the requirement of each algae-eating creature you add.

Some algae eaters, such as snails, will multiply rapidly meaning that you will need to control their population. Other species, such as hermit crabs are much easier to add as a cleanup option.