Which leads me to wonder, does the mold release anything that might help the cycle?Flyfisha said:Hi Alwaysbina,
The hair algae you can remove with your fingers as much as possible. Removing a little each day until the tank is cycled.A toothbrush is a tool recommended for spinning hair algae like spaghetti. Later if it’s still active when the tank is cycled you may choose to use a chemical fix.
The white on the food is not algae it’s just mould. As you have no fish in the tank it’s OK to let it be.