How to Get Rid of Red Turf Algae?

What is red turf algae?

Red turf algae are a grass-like form of algae that covers rocks, corals, and other items. It is a beautiful alga that is vibrant in color and generally short, making it desirable to cover rocks, stones, and other visually boring things in your home tank.

It belongs to the larger category of “turf algae” which includes delicate structures consisting of branches, tubes (both thick and thin), grass mats, and leaf-like structures that can often resemble cabbages.

Although algae are a good source of nutrients for corals and animals living in your tank, they can be a bit of a handful. Its blanket-like structure makes it a desirable choice for the unsuspecting enthusiast, but beware! The clever algae evolved to adapt to darker environments due to the need to survive. We will outline some issues below. 

Why is it a problem?

Although beautiful in color, and hence often used in home aquariums, red turf algae is very quick to grow and spread. It will take over your tank! Once it has started to grow uncontrollably many enthusiasts often find it stubborn and difficult to remove.

The beautifully decorated home tank that you have invested so much time, money and effort into can easily and quickly be ruined. Do not let this happen to you by either keeping your ref turf algae under control, or the easiest method is simply to remove it altogether!

Even removing the red turf algae can be quite the task, with many methods suggested by both enthusiasts and experts. Once you have started with red turf algae it becomes a handful both to keep and maintain it and to remove it! If you are unhappy with the work required then keep reading to learn how to remove it.

Red turf algae in reef tanks

Given its desire to spread as much as possible and as quickly as possible, red turf algae will completely overwhelm your home aquarium. It will happily attach to any rocks, decorations, or even creatures that it possibly can! Although it seems to be popular with beginner enthusiasts it is better to steer clear and opt for a different wonderfully colored algae instead. 

Reef tanks can be wonderfully beautiful to look at and you may even be tempted to add a splash of red by choosing red turf algae. Unless you are fully prepared and have read up on the management of red turf algae, it will be best to choose something, anything, else to satisfy your desire for a touch of red. Even add a red decoration if you must!

Only the truly invested and the most patient of reef enthusiasts may find red turf algae a pleasure to have. For anyone else, it can be a living nightmare.

Red turf algae adaptations

In the wild red turf algae have undergone several adaptations in order to survive, making it as stubborn in the wild as it is in a home tank! Its unique red color allowed the algae to blend into its environment, preventing it from being completely eaten by predators. Its distinctive color also permits it another clever feature: better photosynthesis.

The red color lets the algae absorb more light, even at the depths of the ocean, making it suitable for darker environments. Unlike brown and green algae, ref turf algae can grow where others can’t – it’s quite the survivor!

How to get rid of red turf algae

Although quite a handful to deal with there are several methods (tried and tested by enthusiasts) to remove red turf algae. Some methods include:

  • Scrubbing 
  • Turbo snails
  • Tangs
  • Urchins
  • Hermits

What eats red turf algae?

There are many natural solutions to your super-spreading red turf. Some of the most effective have included Mexican turbo nails which feed significantly off of algae and can easily and quickly make their way through your unwanted problem. They have quite the appetite! However, be careful! If you have other forms of algae, such as green or brown, they will happily eat through this too!

Another option is a tang. These fish will also happily consume your unwanted algae, feeding themselves with a good source of nutrients. It’s a two birds one stone solution. However, several enthusiasts have expressed a tendency to favor Mexican turbo snails over various tangs due to the speed at which they remove the red turf algae.

Shop-bought solutions

If you do not wish to add anything extra to your tank, then there are a few store-bought remedies you can try. The first is “algaefix”, the second is a solution of 10% H202 and water, and the third is simply cleaning the red turf algae off of any undesired places. 

Please note that using any chemical solutions can be dangerous if not handled properly. Please always take the relevant safety precautions and wear gloves, a mask, and goggles where appropriate.

A slight pricer option is specialist LED lights. These can be shown to reduce the amount of red output in order to minimize algae blooms. This should significantly decrease, if not stop altogether, the expansion of your red turf algae.

For example, an amber LED is red turf algae’s worst enemy, making it basically impossible for it to grow. But you need to consider how it will affect the look of your tank. If it ruins the beautiful color effect of your corals and/or other algae then you may want to consider one of the other options listed above. 

Are other types of algae better?

Unfortunately, turf algae is turf algae. Even the green and brown varieties can be difficult to manage despite their light restrictions, unlike red turf algae. All three varieties spread incredibly quickly and can go from looking like a nice decorative touch of color to parasitic algae very quickly.

They’re undesirability to herbivorous fish means that unless you intervene with one of the above-mentioned options, your home aquarium will soon look simply like a tank full of algae! 


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