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20 Gallon Planted Aquarium with Algae

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by shane, Dec 4, 2006.

  1. shane

    shane Lifetime Charter Member
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    I have a 20 Gallon planted Aquarium that has been up for about 2 years now. I have always had issues with green hair algae growing on the plants and glass of the aquarium. Here is a little about the setup:

    1) I use Seachem Fluorite as the gravel
    2) I am currently using (2) 55 Watt 5500 Degree PC bulbs as light (AH Supply).
    3) I use CO2 dosing with a controller to a pH=6.8
    4) I use an Eheim 2213 Cannister Filter
    5) I use a Hydor external heater set to 83 Degrees F. I would rather do a substrate heater but too late now.
    6) I use a powerhead for extra water movement and to force water into the CO2 reactor.
    7) I have a fully grown pair of discus (5"), 5 rummy nose tetras, 5 cardinal tetras, 8 ottos, 3 corys, and (10) amano shrimp in the tank.
    8) The discus get fed 2 cubes of frozen Hikari bloodworms per day. The rest of the fish get small portions of flake food.
    9) The plants I have are vallisneria, rotala indica, rotala walachii, java fern, ozelot sword, glossostigma, riccia.

    3 weeks ago I did a rejuvenation of the plants and added all the plants above new except for the vallisneria (that was doing the best of the older plants). I took all the older green algae infested plants out.

    The most recent set of test results (using Hach and LaMotte test kits) are:
    1) pH = 6.8
    2) KH = 4DH
    3) PO4 = 0.4 ppm
    4) NO3 = 15ppm
    5) FE = 0.15mg/L

    All of the plants seem to be growing well but algae has been creeping into the tank the past 2 weeks. It seems to be getting worse. There is green hair algae on the java ferns the worst (probably because a relatively slow grower?). The ozelot sword is the next with green hair algae. The indica has no algae on it all all. The same goes for the riccia (which is growing furociously). The glosso is growing very well with new shoots everywhere but it is developing green hair algae on top of it. The Vallisneria has new shoots growing everywhere as well. All the fish seem to be doing very well. The discus have already spawned on the filter intake. They ate the eggs or the filter sucked them in.

    I have been doing many water changes lately to try and combat this (3-4 times/week; 5 gallons each change). I use San Diego tap water. Then add 0.75ml Seachem Prime, 10ml DuplaGan, 0.25 DuplaPlant tablet, and 6ml of homemade phosphate mix (I found the tank to not produce enough PO4) to each 5 gallon water change (done every 3 days). I use the Dupla fert stuff because I got it for free. I used Seachem line before but still had algae problems. Thought I would try the Dupla being I had it laying it around. I do a 5 gallon change so the pH doesn't rise too drastically. I only allow CO2 to drop the pH (SD tap water is over pH=8).

    I am wondering what I should do next to stop the green algae growth? Any recommendations? I was thinking that perhaps my problem was because the NO3 was very high due to the Discus but I don't think that is the problem after doing water changes every 3 days. The NO3 is always in the 10ppm-25ppm range. Perhaps 2 Discus for a 20 gallon is not going to fly for a densely planted aquarium?

    I have also noticed that the tops of the Vallisneria is turning a reddish/brown color. This is only on the Vallisneria that is near the top 3" or so of the water colum. The Vallisneria below that looks very green. I don't understand this as well. Nutrient deficiency?

    I think that the tank takes about 0.2ppm PO4/day. I dose this amount during my water changes. I have seen suggested PO4 of 0.2ppm to 1.0+ppm. Any suggestions? I keep it in the 0.1 to 0.6ppm range depending on when the water change is made.

    Overall, I have had problems keeping the green hair algae completely off of the plant leaves and glass. It never gets out of control (grows about 0.25" but thick) but it is definitely there. Seems to get to slow growing plants more. The amano shrimps or ottos don't appear to eat any of it. The ottos do suck on everything but don't actually seem to eat the stuff. Any recommendations of what to try would be great or let me know what foolish thing I am doing wrong...

    By the way, nicely designed website!!
     
  2. shane

    shane Lifetime Charter Member
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    Opps, I think I may have started this thread under the wrong area?
     
  3. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I can see several problems you have. First, if you really have a 20 gallon tank, and not a bigger one, you have it way overstocked with fish. Next, you have far too much light for a 20 gallon tank - I used that same light on a 29 gallon tank and it was too much there too. Then, you have, for that much light, too little CO2 in the water - you are worrying about the pH, which isn't important, and ignoring the amount of CO2, which is very important for that much lighting. Next, you are using test kits to guide your fertilizing, always a mistake if you don't carefully calibrate the kits first - try the EI method instead.
     
  4. shane

    shane Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks Vaughn,

    With regards to the light, I used to have only the one bulb on (55 Watt), I had the same results. I have been fearful of having an overcrowded tank but I figured a 30% water change every (3) days would do the trick. When one says "overcrowded", does that mean the NO3, PO4, NO2, NH4 would be very high? I am not seeing that right now.

    Thanks
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    You should never keep Adult discus in such a small tank.
    Let alone a planted tank.

    75 gal is a minimum size for a discus tank.
    Get rid of the fish and sell them or else get a bigger tank.

    The CO2 is too low in the tank, pH should be about 6.4-6.6 for that KH.

    I'm afaird with such high fish load and when you add the required CO2, you will not have enough O2 left for the discus anyway.

    Too much light, too many fish, not enough CO2.

    You are askign for trouble here.
    Sell those fish or buy a new tank for them.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. shane

    shane Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks Tom,

    Ya, I have another 125gallon tank with all the hardware but I don't want to set it up right now. I will be moving within the year and don't want to deal with the setting up/tearing down of such a large tank in such a short time span.

    My original plan was to raise them in the 20gallon until they were a little larger (I bought them at quarter size) and transfer them over to the 125gallon. Maybe I should just go bare bottom until after I move? Is there anything I can do short term until I setup the 125g? IE: reduce lighting?
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I'd suggets bare bottom till you move.
    Keep the fish in good shape, then you do not have work against yourself and can still keep the fish.

    This will give you plenty of time to properly set up that 125 gallon tank.
    Water spite floating works well and requires little.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you keep the discus in that tank, why not sell the tetras, and other fish, to give the discus a fighting chance? Or look at Craigslist for another cheap tank to keep the other fish in. You can usually find 29 gallon tanks for around $15-$20, which would give the discus a little more room, and let you keep the other fish in a planted tank as you learn how to do a planted tank well, in preparation for the move to the big tank.
     
  9. shane

    shane Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks Vaughn,

    Ya, I am still debating of perhaps getting rid of the discus to give them a larger tank. All I care about is giving them a good home. Most of the LFS have no clue on how to care for discus. Therefore, I am a bit leary of just dropping them off at a LFS.

    Then again the larger 29 gallon tank isn't a bad idea either. I have (2) large Eheim filters that I planned to use for the 125gallon just sitting there. I have another 300W heater laying around. I pretty much have everything except for the tank and stand. The only question is how do I deal with cycling the new discus tank? Take like 10 gallons of the 20 gallon aquarium water out and use it to start with? Then borrow some of the filter material from the 20 gallon aquarium filter and use it to start in the new filter?
     
  10. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Just brainstorming here: I think I would use the larger tank bare bottomed, siphon out almost all of the water from the 20 gallon tank into it, and move the filter over to it, or at least move the filter media. Then treat the 20 gallon like it just got a 80% water change. Of course you would top off the bigger tank too, making sure to use Prime or equivalent for any possible chloramine in the water.
     
  11. shane

    shane Lifetime Charter Member
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    Yes, I would use the larger tank bare bottom.

    If I take out 80% of the water from the 20 gallon tank and take all the filter material out and put it into the large Eheim filter , won't the tetras have a hard time with the 80%+ water change? pH would rise from like 6.8 to probably high 7's. I usually use the CO2 to reduce the pH. The 20 gallon would then have to go through the nitrite cycle as well with all new filter material? Or will the plants and gravel bed give me the nitrite to nitrate and ammonia to ammonium conversion I need?
     
  12. shane

    shane Lifetime Charter Member
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    Or what about I do a 25% water change for like 4 straight days. Use that 20 gallons to put into teh larger tank and then top off with conditioned tap water.
     
  13. shane

    shane Lifetime Charter Member
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    With the above fish load that I have, what is the minimum tank size to do a planted aquarium? Another option I have is to just get a larger tank to support the bioload and then tear down the 20 gallon.
     
  14. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I have done several 70-80% water changes, and no bad effects occurred. The substrate and plants in the 20 gallon will handle the ammonia load that may occur. The filter biomedia is just a backup for the plants in a planted tank. The newly set up tank is another story - there you need the established bacterial colony in the filter to avoid having to go thru a nitrogen cycle in the tank. With no plants, there will be nothing else to protect the fish from ammonia, nitrites and nitrates building up.
     
  15. shane

    shane Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks for the info Vaghn.

    Any comments on what a minimum size tank might be if I decided to setup a new planted discus tank with the bioload I currently have? 50 gallons?
     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Fish respond to osmotic shock, not CO2 levels.
    The pH is artifically low, and using CO2 makes such pH issues meaningless, actually most pH issues are meaningless if you consider purely the osmotic salt differences, that's what kills and stresses out fish.

    There are many many hobbyists that keep tetras and discus that do 50-80%water changes routinely year after year and use CO2 and tap water to repalce the water or RO without ever so much as a itoa of an issue.

    This is an old myth as well, it's not the pH, it's the salts/KH etc.

    When we isolate the pH using CO2 to change it without changing the KH/GH/Salinity, suddenly there's no issue with wide rapid changes in pH.

    So is it the pH or is it the salts and osmatic shock that hurts fish when it's changed rapidly?:rolleyes:

    Common sense will lead you to answers if you look for them.;)

    Now I do have an issue with these large fish in a small tank still..........to me it's like keeping a dog locked in closet or a small room.

    It's good to think this way when deciding what fish to buy and how to deal with the issue. Few kill their dogs due to neglect, but many folks if not all aquarist kill some fish due to neglect or some other result of their actions.
    So it's not quite the same to many but it does make for a more powerful reason/analogy to provide a good home for these fish.

    If you lived in a small bathroom for a week, would you like to flush the toilet once a week or more often?:eek:


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  17. shane

    shane Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks for the post Tom,

    Ya, I am working on getting the fish a larger tank. What tank size would you recommend for the fish I currently have assuming a planted aquarium? How would you transfer the fish, cycle the tank, etc. from the 20 gallon?
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Bigger is better.

    I'd say a 135 gal is a minimum size for the fish to look good and not giant fish stuffed into a small tank.
    Depends on the scaper also.

    I'bve seen many in 75-90 gal tanks, but they really should have more room, they get along much much better.
    Even a 150 they still act weird.

    In a 300 and up, they act very mellow and behave quite different.

    For upscaling, take the dirt from the substrate etc and add to the bottom 1/4of the new substrate.Same with the filter, squeeze the dirt into the intake of the new filter from the old.

    Add some of the dirty water from the old tank to the new.

    That and pack any new tank with as many weeds as will fit.
    Then slowly remove and add the ones you want if you cannot get all of the plants initially.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  19. shane

    shane Lifetime Charter Member
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    Do you really recommend a MINIMUM of 125+ gallon tank for (2) 4-5" discus, some tetras, and bottom feeders?

    The dilhemma I am having is that I don't want to setup my 125gallon yet (moving in 10 months). I would like to keep the (2) discus I have. I was thinking of getting a larger intermediate tank (until I setup the 125 gallon) and set it up as a planted tank with the fish I currently have (the significant other does not like the idea of a bare tank in her house....very picky on how things look.......argh). I was hoping I might get away with a 50gallon tank or so (any larger and I may as well just setup the 125gallon). But then again if a 50gallon is too small, then its too small. I would then tear down the 20 gallon and get rid of it. I would like to keep the # of tanks to 1 for now (the significant other has a say in the # of tanks I can have also...argh, argh...).

    So taking that all into account what is my best solution?
     
  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    A 55 is better than a 20.
    Do that for now till you get the 125 set up.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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