Spider Web Algae in a Fish Tank: What Is It, and How to Get Rid of This Algae

When it comes to keeping a home aquarium there can be many things that take a little while to figure out. For example, is leftover food in the tank a good or a bad thing? Are the creatures fighting or playing? Is algae in your tank a good or bad sign?

Knowing what to avoid in your home tank is a question that many hobbyists like to stay on top of this is because it is easier to fix problems as they occur rather than attempting to deal with a full-blown problem that is out of control.

Here we will cover the basics of spider web algae, what it is, what it looks like, and whether it is beneficial to your tank or simply a nuisance.

What is spider web algae?

Spider web algae, just like its name would make you assume, looks like an underwater spider web or white cotton. It is light, fluffy, and white in color. However, there are also forms that can appear green or brown in color.

Unfortunately, it is still pretty difficult to distinguish it from other things that have a similar appearance such as mucus, bacteria build-up, and fungi. This means that you will need to have a very close look to be able to properly identify if it is indeed spider web algae in your tank or if it is another problem that you will need to deal with.

How to get rid of spider web algae

Spider web algae can grow very quickly, especially if you turn the lights off in your tank often enough. Fortunately, it is a type of algae which means that almost any type of shrimp will happily munch away on it

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As spider web algae can be particularly hard to get rid of manually shrimp make a great alternative for cleaning your tank and ridding it of spider web algae. One of the best varieties of shrimp for this job is the Amano shrimp. Amano shrimp will eat almost any type of algae, even including black beard algae!

In order to make sure that your shrimp do an effective job of ridding your tank of spider web algae, you must make sure that they are not being overfed.

Although they will eat the algae if there is another source of food available (such as fish food or meat proteins) they will happily graze on this first. This means that you may still have a lot of spider web algae in your tank and some very full (and hence ineffective) shrimp. 

Make sure that your shrimp are adequately hungry and you will soon find that any annoying spider web algae disappears.

Is algae a sign of a healthy tank?

Algae is indeed a sign of a healthy tank. Algae is very important for your home aquarium’s ecosystem, helping it to clean the water while also being a very good source of nutrients for your fish and other creatures. It will filter out any excess nitrogen in your water making it a safer place for your creatures to live.

Some types of algae even make a beautiful addition to your tank. Their intricate designs and colors can liven up what can otherwise be a rather dull-looking tank. 

However, too much of anything is never good. This is also true for algae. Some algae is great for your home tank, but if you have too much then it can become a problem and it can eventually overrun your aquarium! 

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Algae come from an imbalance in your tank’s system, either through the lighting or the nutrients in the water itself. Learning how to balance your tank so that your algae does not get out of control can be a tricky task but it is well worth the extra time and effort. 

Are all types of algae good?

Just like anything, there are good and bad versions of algae. Some algae are very easy to remove from your tank when they grow a bit too much and so they make great additions to your home tank. You can let your fish enjoy eating them and reap the benefits from them for the water and when it is too much you simply scrub it away!

However, there are types of algae that are particularly hard to remove. For example, black beard algae is notorious for being difficult to get rid of. Not only is it hard to scrub off (it is very thick and grows in clumps) but there is no simple way to treat it and not even many creatures will eat it!

Spider web algae, on the other hand, is a form of hair algae, meaning that when removed from the water it resembles wet hair). They are a problem in home aquariums because they grow at an incredibly fast pace. They, too, are very hard to get rid of. 

They often come about due to an excess of something within your tank, for example, excess iron, light, etc. There is no single cause that you can investigate to stop the growth of spider web algae. 

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If you have tried adjusting your lighting, water levels and even adding shrimp to remove the spider web algae then you may need to put in a little elbow grease and try to scrub it away with a toothbrush. Unfortunately, this may be your best option. 


Spider web algae can actually make a great addition to your tank, just like any algae, when kept under control. However, the ease with which it can spiral into giant webs makes it a pain.

If you want to keep algae in your tank to provide nutrients to your aquarium creatures and/or to aid your tank’s ecosystem then consider removing the spider web algae altogether and adding a different type of algae that is easier to maintain.

This way your home aquarium can reap all the benefits of having algae (both practical and aesthetic) whilst not requiring constant attention and maintenance. Although spider web algae may seem like a cool addition at first you may soon realize it is not worth the hassle!

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