How to Kill Algae by Oxidation

You can oxygenate algae by using hydrogen peroxide to kill it. When hydrogen peroxide breaks down it turns into water and oxygen. This means you can infuse your aquarium’s water with hydrogen peroxide without the fear of killing your fish. Unlike bleach, you can use hydrogen peroxide to clean your aquarium aquascape and not worry about killing everything.

Things You'll Need

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Eyedropper
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Sponge

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Turn off all of the filtration and water circulators in your aquarium. This will slow down the movement of water in the aquarium and help you pinpoint locations where you can kill algae.

Remove all items from the aquarium affected with algae that you can easily remove, for example, plastic plants, decorative rocks and ornamental items. This should leave hard-to-remove items like filters and plumbing in the aquarium.

Fill an eyedropper with 1 ml of hydrogen peroxide per each gallon of water in the aquarium. Place the eyedropper into the water and squirt the algae in the tank with the hydrogen peroxide. Wait for 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding.

Siphon 25 percent of the water from the tank and replace it with fresh water. Follow your normal process for completing a water change and then turn the filtration system back on.

Fill a sink or bucket up with warm water and add 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide into the water. Place all of your plastic plants, decorative rocks and ornamental items into the water solution and wait 15 to 20 minutes. Clean the algae off each item with a sponge and then rinse each item off with clean water. If possible, avoid placing these items back into your aquarium until you have successfully killed all the algae. This will prevent additional work over the next week or so.

Repeat the process weekly until the algae bloom stops. After you go a week without growing algae, reinstall your plants.

Tips & Warnings

  • The algae will not instantly die when you apply the hydrogen peroxide. However, over the next 24 hours it should turn red and die. It will initially grow back, which is why you must repeat the process over several weeks.
  • Chlorine will also kill algae through oxidation. Although not appropriate for killing algae in an aquarium, substituting hydrogen peroxide with chlorine is an alternative solution for swimming pools and other water situations where concentrated amounts of chlorine will not have a negative effect on aquatics or wildlife.
  • If you have live plants in your aquarium, prune the algae off and do not directly hit your plants with hydrogen peroxide. If you have plants with sensitive oxygen needs, you may want to transplant them to a different aquarium while you complete this process to avoid damaging them.


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