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How to get rid of Green dust algae

April 23, 2020 2 min read

How to get rid of Green dust algae

Green dust algae forms a green film on rocks and most noticeably on walls of planted tanks. It is easily wiped off but comes back quickly. In tanks with strong light it can reappear within a day. In less severe cases, it means weekly scraping/wiping of tank walls. For aquascapers that only have had tanks that suffer from chronic GDA, wiping the glass on a weekly basis might seem like an inevitable thing - we assure you that it is not. GDA is differentiated from GSA (Green spot algae) easily as it grows much more quickly (with no particular dot formation) - and forms an obvious thin green film on tank walls. 

GDA is more common in "hot" tanks - tanks that have tons of lighting and nitrogenous waste. Ammonia or nitrogenous waste can trigger it easily. Tanks with high NO3 levels (above 10ppm) and not enough plant mass are also very vulnerable to it. Many EI based tanks suffer from this. Cooler tanks, with more moderate lighting, leaner dosing regimes have much less issues with this.

Common Causes

  • Biologically immature tanks
  • Lack of dominant plant mass in tank
  • High light coupled with heavy water column fertilization (Common in tanks with high NO3 > 10ppm), warm temperatures
  • Organic detritus build-up in tank (watch the vid on water changes)
  • Poor oxygen levels in tanks


  • Build up dominant plant mass in the tank (70% + planted)
  • Optimize CO2 levels (>30ppm)
  • For mild cases, APT Fix will work
  • 3-5 days blackout for serious cases
  • Consider a leaner dosing regime (specifically, lower NO3 levels - keep it at 5ppm & below, till things stabilize. This is specific for EI fans for which this seems to be a common problem)
  • Lower water temperatures help significantly (<24 degrees celsius)
  • Better oxygenation helps

Greendust dust algae