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Product ReviewsSaltwater Tank Maintenance

Chemiclean For Red Slime Algae

By December 5, 2021No Comments
Chemical red slime remover

If you ever have an outbreak of red slime algae or cyanobacteria in your saltwater tank, then you may need to use products that are designed to remove it. While natural methods are generally the best way to remove cyano, sometimes red slime needs to get controlled sooner than later.

This bacteria can spread rapidly, and it can cover corals and harm them. You may not have time to wait for it to dissipate on its own if it is causing harm to your corals. In addition, it is unsightly and makes your marine tank look bad.

Chemiclean is a product that is designed to removed cyanobacteria from your aquarium. When it comes to adding chemicals or unknown products to your reef tank, it is important to have a full understanding of what this product does, its efficacy and safety. After all, you have spent countless hours and a lot of money to have a nice saltwater tank.

There are tons of reviews of chemiclean red slime remover, and I have personally used it with great success.

What Causes Red Slime Algae

Red Slime Algae on Sand
cyanobacteria on aquarium sand bed

Here is a common list of what causes Red Slime Algae:

  • High Nitrates
  • High Phosphates
  • Nutrient Imbalance
  • Improper Flow

Red Slime Algae is usually caused by high nitrates. Your nitrate test kit may show low levels, but that may be due to the cyano and other algae consuming it quickly. This means it is there and feeding the growth of unwanted algae, but being consumed rapidly. This means it will not register on your nitrate test kit.

Generally, cyanobacteria is caused by an imbalance of nutrients and phosphates. Red slime can take over your tank whether your nitrates are high or low. I had an outbreak with my nitrate level under 5, but my phosphates were elevated. While there is no definitive answer on what exactly causes it, many hobbyist believe it to be an imbalance between phosphate and nutrient levels.

I have controlled it before by raising my nitrates, and I did not have to use products like Chemiclean, but I have had to use this product before. I had a positive experience from using it. It is also important to understand how it got in your tank to begin with. You may be able to remove it completely with ChemiClean, but you do not want it to come back again. Getting your nutrient levels under control and balanced will be the number factor to determine if you have another outbreak of this bacteria.

There are lots of ways to remove red slime algae (cyanobacteria), and Chemiclean is one way to do it.

Does Chemiclean Work?

Chemiclean works great at removing red slime algae from your aquarium. It removes different strains of the bacteria, including red, black, methane, and blue-green producing cyanobacteria. It works within 48 hours of dosing by oxidizing organic sludge and cleaning cyano from surfaces.

Depending on how bad the red slime outbreak in your tank is, you may need to do a follow up treatment, but most red slime will be removed from the first treatment.

Is It Safe?

According to the Chemiclean packaging, it is safe for all fish, corals, invertebrates, nitrifying bacteria, and macro algae. It does a great job of removing red slime without harming fish and corals. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence on the safety of chemiclean, including my own.

With any product, there are always people who have not had great luck with it. There are a few reviews on Amazon and reef keeping forums of corals dying or tank crashes. It is difficult to understand exactly what caused those issues, but overall, the positive experiences with this product far, far outweigh the handful of bad experiences that are discussed in online communities.

One of the key steps to remember, is that your aquarium needs adequate aeration while using this product. This step is so important. We know that because it is the very first instruction listed on the back of the box. This is not some wording that is mentioned in small font, it is literally the first step that they mention. If you follow the instructions and do exactly as they say, then your risk of messing something up is diminished.

There are countless forum members and myself included that have had great experience with Chemiclean. Following the directions will be the number one factor that determines the safety and efficacy during its use.

What Is In ChemiClean?

The exact ingredients are not listed, but the label claims that it does not contain algaecides or Erythromycin succinate. Some investigative forum members have done some research and claim that it does contain Erythromycin Cetyl Sulfate. It is also listed on the FAQ at Amazon here. We certainly do not know exactly what the ingredients are, but it works great, and it is safe.

How To Use Chemiclean

It is important to use this product correctly, and the best way to do that is to precisely follow the directions on the box. We will cover those instructions here, but be sure to follow the box exactly for the best results.

For best results, you should manually remove as much as you can before dosing. You can use tubing to sift it from the sand, or you can use a net to remove patches of it from your sand bed.

Aeration: You must increase aeration in your tank. The manufacturer recommends using a large air stone. These are inexpensive and you can also get a small air pump for your air stone if you don’t already have one. You can also move a powerhead to provide more surface aeration. This will help to provide a little more movement at the top of your water. Your protein skimmer will go crazy and overflow while using Chemiclean. Your skimmer provides a lot of bubbles, so you can take the top off and continue to run it while treating your aquarium. They suggest to keep using your Protein Skimmer during treatment, and to adjust for the overflow, but I could not do anything to stop it from having excessive overflow. I know many other aquarist who had the same experience.

Remove Filtration: You will need to remove filtration like chemi-pure or carbon.

Dosing: One jar of chemiclean will treat up to 300 gallons. To dose your tank, add one level scoop (provided) for every 10 gallons. If you do not know the exact gallons of you tank, it is best to under dose. Remember, that you have sand, rocks, etc. in your tank, so even if you have a 100 gallon tank, you likely won’t have exactly 100 in your display tank. Plus, if you have a sump, you will need to factor in that water volume as well.

Grab a container and fill it up with water from your aquarium, and add the measured doses of chemiclean to the container. Stir it to dissolve. Once dissolved, then spread it evenly throughout your tank.

After 48 hours, perform a 20% water change, and then you can add your carbon back etc. If you don’t normally use GAC (granulated activated carbon) it is a good idea to add some to your sump for a couple of weeks after your water change.

Before And After Results

My tank had some red cyano, bubble, some greenish and black. One treatment of Chemiclean removed over 90% of the cyano that had formed in my tank. The remaining small amount dissipated on its own in the next couple of weeks. I have not had any more red slime in this tank since the treatment. Once I got my nutrients balanced, replaced filters socks more, and reduced feeding, my red slime algae stayed away.

Follow Up

While Chemiclean should work to remove most if not all of the red slime in your tank, it is imperative to figure out how it got there in the first place. There is no sense in cleaning your aquarium of this nuisance only to have it come back in a couple of weeks.

Make sure you are checking your nitrates with a reliable test like salifert, and you should also check your phosphates with an accurate test kit. Personally, I use Hanna Ultra Low Phosphate checker. They are far easier to use over matching colored water to a piece of paper.


My name is James, and I am the founder of Saltwatercoraltank. I love everything about the ocean, and my main hobby is saltwater aquariums. Currently, I have 3 tanks that I maintain. I have a 130 gallon mixed as my main, and I prefer softies.

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