Using Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) On Black Beard Algae (BBA)

Black Beard Algae

There is no algae that causes me more grief than black beard algae aka BBA. I've researched and read many opinions on what causes BBA, but I've yet to find a clear answer. In fact, the answers are often conflicting citing variables like flow, nutrients, lights, CO2 i.e. basically everything common to a planted tank setup.

My own experience with BBA shows that:

  • BBA grows in high and low flow areas.
  • BBA primarily grows on my driftwood, but it also shows up on the top of the leaves of vallisneria and on slow-growing plants.
  • BBA isn't affected much by light intensity as I have it growing at all levels from the substrate to the surface.
  • Otocinclus, Amano Shrimp, and Nerite Snails won't eat BBA.
  • Daily, double-dosing of Excel doesn't keep BBA at bay. Although it does stop staghorn algae fairly well.
  • I get BBA even though my pH and CO2 levels are kept steady via a pH controller.
Hydrogen Peroxide Spray Bottle and RefillHydrogen Peroxide Spray Bottle and Refill
Turkey Baster with StrawTurkey Baster with Straw
BBA on Plant Treated with Hyrdrogen Peroxide
BBA on Anubias Treated with Hyrdrogen Peroxide

The only success I've had is with hydrogen peroxide particularly when I use it for spot treatments. I have two methods for spot treating. Regardless of the approach I use about 1 ml of hydrogen peroxide per 2 gallons of water.

  1. For areas of my aquarium that can be exposed with water changes, I will use a spray bottle to cover the BBA with hydrogen peroxide.
  2. For areas that can't be exposed, I deliver the hydrogen peroxide using a turkey baster with a thin straw attached to the end to give me more reach and precision. This has worked very well on filter components, the top of my heater, and on driftwood. I'm experimenting with this approach on plant leaves (see images to the right). So far I've managed to kill the BBA (it turns pink), but the verdict isn't in on whether I'm significantly damaging the plant leaves.

Things I've Yet To Try

At the moment I'm able to limit the BBA growth with hydrogen peroxide, but if things get worse I may consider these other approaches:

  • I've read that people have used 2 ml per gallon with no ill effects, but I'm nervous about going that high.
  • I've also read about a “one-two punch” that combines hydrogen peroxide and Seachem Excel in a whole tank treatment, but my situation isn't bad enough to warrant taking that kind of risk.
  • Someone reported success using Seachem's Phosguard, but the explanation for why it works doesn't make sense to me. Replies in the thread also show there is disagreement. Still, counter-intuitive things do sometimes work.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)


  1. Flying Foxes eat BBA. I've seen mine do it, ripped it off and ate it like it was cotton candy. He outgrew my tank and I took him to the fish store and now that he's gone, the BBA is growing on my driftwood again. Still trying to decide if I should get another little one or treat the driftwood with a Hydrogen Peroxide dip.

    • I've heard about a few species of fish that eat BBA, but it seems different people have different experiences. I'm glad they worked for you.

    • I've tried everything in the book to get ride of BBA from my tank but nothing works. They say Siamese Algae eaters love the stuff. Not any that I bought.
      Hydrogen Peroxide, nothing, Excel a wast of money. etc.
      I'm using Phosguard by Seachem now for the past 2 weeks. BBA is till growing but maybe a little slower. I do a 50% water change weekly.
      I feel like a slave to my planted aquarium. The enjoyment of this hobby is gone. I hate even looking at it anymore.
      I have been struggling with this nightmare for almost 2 years now.
      Any other suggestions?

      • I've had some recent success with Excel. I turn off filtration and let the water settle. Then I use a syringe to squirt Excel onto the BBA under the water. I squirt it very, very slowly. I use no more than double the dose that I would normally put into the water as a whole. In a day or two the BBA turns red. Because the amount is small, I need to dose multiple times to hit all of the areas in the tank that have BBA.

        • Thanks for your reply. I have doing what you suggested for over a year with out results. Every week when I do a water change and the water level is low I spray everything. I then wait 15 to 20 minutes before adding water back to the tank.
          It helps a little but it grows back in a week or so.
          Like I send in my original post that I tried everything. And I mean everything that I've read on all forums and others.

          Thanks again for your time to reply.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.