Algae are the naturally produced food for fish in any aquatic ecosystem and an indicator of a productive pond. However, excess abundance of harmful algae can have detrimental effects on fish health. In this study, the algal communities of 30 coastal homestead fish ponds were investigated to identify the diversity, assemblage and controlling environmental variables of harmful algae from a tropical coastal area. The findings showed that 81 of the 89 genera of identified algae were harmful, with the majority of them being in the classes of Cyanophyceae (50.81%), Chlorophyceae (23.75%), Bacillariophyceae (9.5%), and Euglenophyceae (8.47%). Microcystis
spp. alone contributed 28.24% to the total abundance of harmful algae. Significant differences (p
< 0.05) in algal abundance were found among the ponds with the highest abundance (470 ± 141.74 × 103
) at pond (S25
) near agricultural fields and the lowest abundance (109.33 ± 46.91 × 103
) at pond (S14
) which was lacking sufficient sunlight and nutrients. Diversity indices, e.g., dominance (D), evenness (J′), richness (d) and Shannon diversity index (H′) ranged from 0.17 to 0.44, 0.23 to 0.6, 0.35 to 2.23 and 0.7 to 1.79, respectively, indicating a moderate range of diversity and community stability. Community composition analysis showed the assemblage was dominated by Cyanophyceae, Chlorophyceae and Bacillariophyceae, whereas, multivariate cluster analyses (CA) identified 11 major clusters. To identify the factors controlling their distribution or community assemblages, eight environmental variables (temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen (DO), salinity, transparency, nitrates, phosphates and sulphate) were measured. ANOVA analysis showed that the variables significantly differed (p
< 0.05) among the ponds, and canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) demonstrated that DO, nitrates, phosphates, sulphates, salinity and transparency have the most impact on the abundance of algal genera. In addition, analyses with Pearson’s correlation coefficient showed that the abundance of total algae, diversity and community were mainly governed by phosphates and sulphates. These results can be used to identify and control these toxic algal groups in the local aquaculture sector.