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A Curious observation about Algae

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by stonecutter50, May 7, 2006.

  1. stonecutter50

    stonecutter50 Junior Poster

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    A Curious observation about Algae

    This should go under the “strange but true” thread.

    (I should also tell you that the first time I tried to post this it “disappeared” and I wrote it over — probably took too long to write the first time — so if it gets posted twice, my apologies. The fact that I write for a living accounts for the length of this post.)

    First, a few facts. I have been a member of this fascinating site for a few months now, (my congrats to Tom Barr) and an avid aquatic gardener for about three years. In that time, like everyone else, my greatest frustration has been with algae.

    I have 3 tanks. 65g, 30g, 10g.
    I dose all with CO2 from a 20lb. tank with a gang valve.
    All have 3-4 watts/g
    I have a UV filter on the 65g

    Out of laziness I stopped EI on the 10g. The plants I had there were from other tanks and all had at least GSA or thread algae, and perhaps other assorted types. Within a couple of weeks, (or less) I started noticing that the algae was disappearing and the new growth was algae free.

    So, out of curiosity, I did the same to the 65g and 30g. Stopped all ferts except CO2, and cut back weekly H20 changes to 20% from 50%. (Figured I didn’t need to clear any ferts out, so why change so much.)

    I should note too that I also lowered the CO2, changed it from mist to a ladder, so I could stop worrying about the fish in the evenings.

    More facts before I reach my point: In each tank I have a light fish load and many snails. (I love snails) Dozens of red ramshorns, 100s of Malaysian trumpets, many pond snails, zebra snails, and 2 of what I call bumblee snails. (cannot find the true name) As far as the plants are concerned, the snails only feed on the decaying leaves, not good growth. I even have 2 apple snails in the 30 that only once in a while damage some leaves because I feed those algae wafers.

    Here’s the kicker. To my amazement, once I stopped EI, lowered CO2, and went to 20% H2O changes, the same thing happened in the 65g and 30g that happened in the 10g. The algae began to disappear and the new growth is absolutely algae free. Even on the mini anubias! (What a wondrous sight)

    I still have some algae on some old leaves in the 65g, but it’s so minor I’m not even bothering to trim it. I’m just going to wait and see if it also disappears, or just goes when the leaves decay. In the same tank I also have some velvety type of algae on top of the driftwood, which looks great and the SAE’s love. (have 4 SAE’s)

    But I have absolutely no algae on any new growth, and only slight algae on the glass that even after a week, though I clean it, is practically invisible.

    The plants are growing slightly slower than before, so now I’m taking out yards of greenery every 2-3 weeks instead of weekly.

    The last algae problem I had was a slight bloom on the 30 which I solved by using 50 micron cloth on my hanging filter and changing the cloth 2 days in a row. Water’s now crystal clear.

    So for now my tanks are just about algae free, and what is there is continuing to disappear. Again, no ferts, only moderate CO2, and 20% weekly H2O changes.

    About the snails, the only tank with just a few snails is the 10g, where the algae disappeared first, so I don’t think it’s the snails.

    Perhaps one day I’ll wake up to the worst algae outbreak ever, but for now I’m not changing a thing, I’m simply content to sit back in the evening with a brandy and the dog, and watch the plants pearl their hearts out.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: A Curious observation about Algae

    How would characterize the new growth of the plants?
    You can slow things down with less dosing. You can also add decent fish food/waste and lighter fish loading. This works fairly well. If the CO2 is stable, then things work well there. Substrate is important also, older tanks with more mature substrates, stable fish loads(generally lighter) will tend to do well.

    You could have achieved the same thing, actually with better results if you reduced the lighting 2 w/gal. Try that and I think you'll find even better results.

    As a tank matures, they become inherently more stable.

    In general, if I or most folks stop adding ferts, green hair algae pops up fairly routinely. I removed it and start dosing again and it's no issue.
    There are many details that you have not discussed here such as substrate type, how much you feed light type, distance, CO2 ppm, plant species etc.

    A number of folks in the past had this same type of set up and did quite well. Your tanks would look a little better with less light and a few ferts added 1-2x a week on the very light side. We referred to this as "West coast lean" methods.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. stonecutter50

    stonecutter50 Junior Poster

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    Re: A Curious observation about Algae

    Thanks Tom, I'll try to answer your questions.

    The new growth is just as lush as previously, just cleaner. Really, absolutely no algae. I’m amazed. Even the red plants, (sorry, don't know the names, but I have two red varieties) are doing very well.

    About CO2 ppm, I really don't know, but I can tell you that for both the 65 and 30 I'm sending out about 1.5 -2 bubbles/sec into a ladder type diffusor. I’m using an air stone for the 10g.

    All tanks are about 4 months old. (recent move) (Another move scheduled in 2 months—I know—don’t ask!) I vacuum well monthly. All 3 are doing equally well, the 10g and 30 have a simple gravel substrate. The 65 has an under gravel heater, then fluorite, then gravel. I can tell no difference in the growth between any tank, so I wouldn’t bother going this route again.

    I feed flake food lightly. Little or no food hits the gravel. Sometimes I put in fractions of an algae wafer.

    I’m keeping the lighting as is, because, well, it’s there, and this exposure creates a beautiful appearance, especially with the room lights off.

    The 65g has 180 watts via two power compacts. The 30 has 55 via one power compact. The ten has an incandescent 40 watt. In the ten I also have java moss, and I’ll admit I’ve never seen such a beautiful clean and quickly growing mass of this. In fact I never thought this plant could be so amazing.

    I also find that the less I “fuss” with the tanks, the nicer they look. I “garden” about once every 2 weeks, taking out only what has become overgrown, clipping off the bottom, and replanting. Perhaps this limited disturbance of the substrate also, somehow, keeps the algae down. (Less spores running around?)

    As for fish load. In the 65g I have 2 large angels, 8 rasboras, 3 gold barbs, 1 tetra, 9 kuli loaches, 3 corys, 2 bulldog plecos. To me, from appearances in a tank this size, the load seems light, but sufficient to be interesting. (My main interest is the plants.)

    Hope this is of some use. I also spent (much) time figuring out dosing and CO2 and watching the PH crash etc, and the algae still came out the winner. Now, dare I say it, it’s almost becoming boring. (Though absolutely beautiful)
     
  4. stonecutter50

    stonecutter50 Junior Poster

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    Re: A Curious observation about Algae

    I should also add that all the lights are on 12 hours per day, then go off via timer along with the CO2. I also have very little surface movement. In fact, in the 65, with the cylinder filter, there's none. I keep the return water going down. I also get a lot of pearling by about 3:00 PM until the lights go out at 6:00. They go on again at 6:00 AM.
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: A Curious observation about Algae

    Well, you are hitting on a decent balance, the other tanks are fairly low light, 1.8w/gal and the 10 is much less, only 1w/gal or less in equilvalent w/gal using FL's bulbs.

    the larger 65 is doing well 2.7 w/gal and there's some distance between the plants and the lights.

    Overall this is much less than the assumed 3-4w/gal you had mentioned.

    I have astandard distance and a good light meter.
    When lowering light= > less CO2, less nutrient uptake.

    Plain sand will do fine, but it really does sound to me like you never quitre got the higher nutrients.CO2 issue correct.

    While your tanks are lean now, they should do fine.
    Some folks have trouble balancing things at higher rates.
    I usually suggest less light, which you have for the most part.

    You can still add a tad bit more ferts as suggested etc and things should grow a little better.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. stonecutter50

    stonecutter50 Junior Poster

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    Re: A Curious observation about Algae

    Thanks Tom, appreciate everything. I will take your advice.
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: A Curious observation about Algae

    My main issue is getting a better tweaked method for folks.

    I can and do work anyone's method, even if it might appear entirely counter to the typical advice. General when looking into things further, we find out why, sometimes things are not so obvious.

    Then you can try and go back and re test things and prove it to yourself if what you had concluded was correct or not.

    Adding a bit more to relive the stress the plants likely have shoukld improve things. I do know that the EI dosing does not induce algae, it may exacerbate an existing problem and that's where folks have trouble.
    This is true for most any method to some degree.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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