What Eats Hair Algae? All You Need To Know

If you own an aquarium, you might have seen hair algae at some point. They’re those irritating green algae that look horrible and can be difficult to remove on corals. But don’t despair, I can help you solve your problem.

What eats hair algae? Let me tell you the answer but first, let me elaborate on this annoying algae and sort out the false facts that surround them.

What Are Hair Algae?

Hair algae or green algae are those hairy, stringy, and tangled algae that proliferate the base of your tank. They create coats, from which thick short filaments build up. They can grow over plants and dim your aquarium.

The color of hair algae is determined by its pigmentation. The chlorophyll pigment gives the hair algae their green color. Although there other pigments present, chlorophyll is more predominant.

Contrary to popular belief, the green algae aren’t essentially closely related even if they belong within a group. Even when two kinds of hair algae look similar, they may be not associated with one another so they need different types of treatment. In this case, you need to experiment with several alternatives to find something that truly works.

Where Does Hair Algae Come From?

Algae can come from a variety of sources. Anything that you put into your tank could potentially possess the algae that you always dread, like plants, fish, and snails. For all you know, there are algae growing on the shells of snails or the plants have some kinds of algae developing on them already.

Hair algae can also grow due to a nutrient imbalance, like carbon dioxide and nitrogen deficiencies. Intense light or overlighting could also be another possible cause. When the plants no longer grow in your tank, then green algae will soon take place.

So, What Eats Hair Algae?

Proper care and maintenance of aquarium is the best way to eradicate hair algae. But a more convenient way is to employ a tiny clean-up crew to help in your battle. Several hair algae eaters include the following:

Mexican Dwarf Hermit Crabs

Mexican-Dwarf-Hermit Crabs-happyygarden.com

Mexican-Dwarf-Hermit Crabs-happyygarden.com

These species are quite distinct with their red color and blue spots over their claws and legs. They have bright red antennae and the tops of their legs are also red or orange in color. They can feed on the hair algae without hurting the corals.

These small crabs eat algae that reside on the rock substrate and mangrove roots. If you want to hunt on some nice hermit crabs, look in broken and worn shells.




Yes, snails can be great feeders for annoying hair algae. Two snail species that are proven to be effective against hair algae are the Cerith Snail and Nerite Snail.

The Cerith Snails are dark brown in appearance. They’re active glass cleaners that feed on algae and diatoms. With their 1-inch pointed shells, they can sneak in between rocks and cleans your glass efficiently. They clean following a zigzag pattern.

The Nerite Snails are brown and black in appearance. They do a better performance in eradicating all the algae growing on the rocks and glass. With their 1/2-inch round shell, they usually reside on smooth rocks.




Several fish varieties also do a better work in eating the hair algae in your tank. This includes Florida flagfish, Butterfly splitfin, American flagfish, and mollies. Mollies can be found at any local fish stores but the other fish varieties may be difficult to find.

You can try looking for the other fish in online auctions or ask your local shops to order them for you. Some people who have an interest in native fish are also good suppliers.

Ghost Shrimp And The Gammarus



Most shrimp aren’t good hair algae eaters, but the ghost shrimp and the Gammarus are the great exemptions. They’re proven to eat the hair algae quite pretty well.

Ghost shrimp can be bought at a lot of aquarium shops. They’re often available as feeder shrimp and perform more efficiently with smaller fish and plants. Since they carry their eggs and young ones under their bodies, they can breed in the tank.

The Gammarus are small freshwater shrimp that can be found in a local body of water. You can buy them at nurseries that offer pond plants or look for them in ponds and other natural bodies of water. They survive well with the small fish in the aquarium but they can eat the mosses, so take note on that.

Other Hair Algae Control Tips

To solve the problem of hair algae permanently, you can try these other simple solutions:

  • Add a Co2

Remember that a carbon dioxide(Co2) imbalance can spike the problem of hair algae in your tank. To solve this lack of Co2, add a Co2 system. This may be expensive and complex but it’s a good solution to balance everything.

If you have already set up a Co2 system, you might need to recheck it if it’s still working properly. If not, add more Co2.

  • Minimize The Lighting

If the intensity of the light is too much, then the plants will use more Co2. This over-consumption of Co2 may lead to an imbalance of nutrients and eventually the growth of hair algae. The algae won’t thrive in the tank if more Co2 is available for every plant.

So the best way to stop the growth of green algae is to lessen the lighting. Use regular lighting at a maximum of eight hours. If things aren’t turning well, try reducing the lighting cycle in half.

Check out some other tips in this video:


Proper cleaning can only do so much in solving the hair algae in your tank. What you need is the help of some fish and crustaceans to do the job for you.

What eats hair algae? This includes hermit crabs, some snails, and fish. If you have experienced a hair algae problem, tell us how you solve it in the comments section.

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