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9 Ways To Get Rid Of Red Bubble Algae In Your Reef Aquarium

My beautiful reef tank is my treasure. But sometimes undesirable foreign organisms try to destroy my beautiful tank. One such organism is known as Red bubble algae and they can damage the overall look of a reef aquarium. Once they almost destroy my aquarium. But luckily enough I was able to save my reef tank. So, I want to give some tips on how to get rid of red bubble algae from your reef tank. Keep reading!

They look like a bunch of red-colored tiny bubbles. They are scientifically known as Botryocladia botryoides.  Moreover, these species have various shapes. Also, they are often firm and can spread rapidly. The nitrate and phosphate allow these algae to grow in the saltwater aquarium. Further, these bubbles can pop or deflate. Then, it releases lots of spores into the aquarium. This behavior allows them to spread quickly in the aquarium.

red bubble algae

Is red bubble algae good or bad?

They are not good for aquariums. Because it can rapidly spread in your aquarium. Then it covers the rocks, live corals, and aquarium equipment. Therefore your reef aquarium appearance does not look like your desirable way. Additionally, bubble algae can disturb the filtering function of the tank. Hence, most reef fish hobbyists do not like this algae. But some of them like the red bubble appearance and color. They believe these algae add extra beauty to their aquarium with their red color body. But most of the time, these species disturb the fish hobbyist and their aquariums. 

How to get rid of red bubble algae in a reef tank?

The removal of them is a challenge. You have to pay your full attention and care to this. Because, as I mentioned above, if one bubble is pop out, it will spread the whole tank. Also, bubble varieties hard to starve out. Thus, it does not need much light or nutrients to survive. However, you can follow these methods to get rid of the algae. 

Manual removal of red bubble algae

You can remove them from the rocks quickly. Please follow these simple three steps to eliminate these algae from your aquarium.

Step 1: First, you should carefully remove the structures with the algae

Step 2: Then, you can scrape the algae from these structures. 

Step 3: Then rinse these structures using water

In this method, bubble algae do not pop out in the tank. It is an advantage. Moreover, you can places that structure in a separate tank for a few days to make sure it are free from bubble algae. 

Remove red bubble algae using a siphon pipe 

Sometimes they are attached to structures that cannot easily remove from the aquarium. In this situation, you can practice the following method. 

Step 1: First, you should cut the end of the siphon pipe at a 45 degrees angle.

Step 2: Then start the water siphoning from the tank

Step 3:  placed the sharp edge of the siphon tube on the algae

Step 4:  Now, you can slowly scrape the rock surface until the algae is off the structure

In this method, the algae get sucked out of the tank. Also, some bunch of red bubble algae will be attached to the siphon pipe. In this case, you can carefully take out these bubble algae from the aquarium. These algae are growing on corals and their cavities. You cannot remove narrow areas only using a siphon tube. In this situation, you can take the scalpel to help the siphon tube.

First, You can cut them using a scalpel. Then place the siphon pipe near that area. the algae particles suck from the siphon and remove from the tank. Sometimes some bubbles can pop out by siphoning the pipe. Do not worry about it. You can suck these spores and take them out from the siphoning.

Add emerald crab to the aquarium

The Emerald crab or Mithrax Sculphtus can eat algae. Thus, you can add them to your aquarium to control the bubble algae naturally. But they do not eat a large number of algae. Hence, they cannot eradicate these algae. Also, it is a temporary solution. Because crab pops out the bubble algae when eating. Then the spores are spread in the tank and create a new colony. Thus, I do not recommend this method.

Therefore, if you need to remove algae entirely and quickly, go for another method. Additionally, the emerald crab may attack small fish and corals if you are not fed and monitor them well. Thus, you should add food supplements such as dried nori or pellets for them. On the other hand, sometimes emerald crabs do not care about red bubble algae. 

Add Blennies fish, tangs, angelfish, or surgeonfish to the tank

These fish can eat bubble algae. Thus it is the best natural method to remove bubble algae from your tank. Further, these saltwater fish species are wonderful. Rather than the cleaning process, they may add extra color to your saltwater aquarium. But tangs, blennies fish, angelfish, and surgeonfish show little aggressiveness towards their tank mates. Thus, you need to provide some space for them.

Spot treatment for red bubble algae removal

Spot treatment is the easiest way to kill them in the aquarium. The main advantage is you can perform this on the spot of the tank. It means you do not remove a particular structure or stone out of the tank. Here I mentioned simple steps to get rid of this algae.

Step 1: First, drain the tank until algae expose to the air 

Step 2: Then, take the correct target and put the one drop of peroxide right on the algae

Step 3: Wait for two minutes

Step 4: Next, refill the tank

Step 5: Finally, change some water again to remove the peroxide remaining

Step 6: Repeat the same treatment for a couple of days

In this method, you should be highly concerned about the peroxide amount. Please use an incredibly small amount of chemicals. The small amounts of peroxide do not poison your tank if you do the spot treatment correctly.  

Introduce competitors for red bubble algae

You can introduce competitor species that are beneficial for the saltwater tank. The Red Coralline Algae is the most commonly used algae for this issue. Moreover, nutrients are the key factor that encourages algae growth.  In this situation, they must compete with newly introduced algae to absorb nutrients from the water. Therefore you can control their growth rate using this method. Also, slow-growing bubble algae can easy to manage and remove.  

Use Vibrant to kill bubble algae

A vibrant is a bottle filled with bacteria. It can use to control not only red bubble algae but also other algae. The below steps include all guidelines about its usage.

Step 1: Initially add 1 ml of Vibrant per 10 gallons of water in your tank’s water supply

Step 2: Then repeat it 1-2 times per week until reduce to a manageable level

Step 3: Once algae are under control use Vibrant every couple of weeks. 

Step 4:  You should repeat the above steps until the removal of completely

It would be best if you used low dosages of this Vibrant. Because high dosages have some side effects. High dosage or amount of vibrant can rapidly increase the nitrate levels of your aquarium. It may adversely affect your beneficial algae plants. Further, Vibrant takes a few weeks to destroy your red bubble algae completely. Sometimes it may take around two months.

Thus you should perform the above steps until all troubled algae eliminate. Additionally, this is not a quick method to remove red bubble algae from your saltwater tank. But this is a successful method to get rid of them

Use UV sterilizer to kill red bubble algae

The UV filter is a small device that emits UV light radiations. Also, it can destroy the DNA of algae. The DNA denature process directly affects the red bubble algae reproduction. Hence using this method, you can control the red bubble algae more effectively. Furthermore, most fish hobbyists use UV sterilizers to control algal growth. Also, this equipment can prevent algae blooms and diseases in the tanks. Hence, a UV sterilizer is ideal for protecting your aquarium from undesirable red bubble algae and other diseases.  

Use Thermal plastic pellets

These pellets can cover the red bubble algae. Then after a week, you can take out the plastic pellet and algae as one piece. 

Botryocladia botryoides

How to prevent red bubble algae

Prevention is the best way to keep the aquarium free from red-bubble algae. You can practice the below methods to prevent unwanted algae from your saltwater tank.

Quarantine live coral and other corals 

Quarantine plays a major role in preventing red bubbles from the tank. In this, you should place live corals and other coral structures in a separate tank for one to two weeks. If these red bubble algae or spores are attached to corals, they will spread in a quarantine tank. Then you can clean them easily. Some red bubble algae can attach to the corals. If you purchase a new specimen from the market, you keep it in mind. Thus, you can clean them properly before add to the main aquarium. Otherwise, if you add newly purchased corals directly into the aquarium, it may cause to spread of the algae throughout the main aquarium. 

Do not overfeed

If you overfeed fish, these foods remain and release nutrients to the water. Then, red bubble algae can be fed on these nutrients. Hence, the dissolved nutrients encourage algae growth. Therefore add an adequate amount of feed to fish. Further, remove excess food from the water. Poor water quality and surplus food are the major facts that can cause red bubble algae growth and distribution. 

Use a good filter system

Prevention is the easiest way to handle any matter. Thus, you can install a good filter system in the aquarium. Then it will maintain the water quality parameters at the optimum level. Moreover, a filter system is essential to keep fish healthy and happy. 

Add turbo snails into the tank

Turbo snails are very helpful to prevent red bubble algae. But they do not become very effective when you introduce them after the infection started. 

Do water changes

The water quality directly affects the growth and distribution of red bubble algae. Thus, you should remove excess nutrients from the tank. Therefore, it is recommended to do a 10 % water change per week or a 10%- 20% water change biweekly.

red bubble algae

What causes bubble algae?

Generally, bubble algae are attached to the coral, rocks, and other equipment. If you do not quarantine the above items properly, algae may come with them. Further, bubble algae can spread easily. Thus, only one spore is enough to destroy your whole tank. Therefore, a quarantine procedure is important for corals and rock structures too. Other than these facts, poor water quality, and excess foods may encourage algae growth. 

Can I pop bubble algae?

Yes, you can pop bubble algae. Generally, well-grown red algae contain many spores. Hence, when you pop out, these spores will release into the aquarium. Then it covers the reef and rock structures of the tank. Consequently, it will lead to destroying the overall appearance of your aquarium.

Red bubble algae eaters

There are some crabs, snails, and fish species that can eat red bubble algae. Those are;

  • Blennies fish 
  • Emerald crab or Mithrax 
  • Sculphtus, turbo snails
  • Large Angelfish
  • Tangs
  • Surgeonfish

Red bubble algae with orange spots

You can see some red bubble algae with orange or yellow color spots. These are the one type of red bubble algae. Thus, do not pop them out.  Because their spores can spread throughout the tank within a short time. Further, you should remove them carefully using one of the above methods. 

Do any fish eat bubble algae?

Some fish like to eat red bubble algae such as tangs, angelfish, and surgeonfish. Also, blennies fish spend hours of the day picking the red bubble algae. They pick and vacuum algae from corals and rocks. Therefore these fish species are very effective in controlling the nuisance growth of red bubble algae in your tank. If we consider the time, they can remove all bubble algae within a short time.

But most of these fish need more space. If space is not enough, they show some aggressiveness towards other species. Furthermore, you should provide supplement food for them besides algae. Because these fish need a good energy source to survive and red bubble algae cannot fulfill it alone.

Will a UV Sterilizer kill Bubble Algae?

Yes, a UV sterilizer can kill not only them but also their spores. Because this equipment can denature the DNA of red bubble algae. Due to red bubble algae losing their genetic details, they cannot reproduce successfully. Hence, UV treatment is the ideal and easy and effective method against this algae. Moreover, UV sterilizers can kill diseases and disease-causing agents too.  Thus, most fish hobbyists have a small UV sterilizer to treat their aquarium water. 


Red bubble algae is a saltwater algae variety. Also, It has a special ability to tolerate low nutrient conditions. Moreover, it can spread on the tank quickly. It can cover coral, rock structures, and tank equipment. Thus, they destroy the overall appearance of the tank. Therefore most fish hobbyists do not like this algae. In this article, you can find the most suitable method to remove red bubble algae from your tank. Further, if you maintain your aquarium with my guidelines, you can prevent them before infecting the tank.  

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.