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Algae questions

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by edacsac, Feb 20, 2007.

  1. edacsac

    edacsac Prolific Poster

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    Hello,

    I'm starting to get frustrated with algae in my 10gal. Everything is growing good, but I have a good portion of some sort of spot algae on the glass and the sand parts of my tank, so at weekly water changes I clean the glass with a green scrubby pad and change out the sand. I tire of changing sand and I haven't had good luck cleaning the green out of the sand I remove. I also have some black algae and thread algae on the slow growers. Like my tonina, as it grows, the lower leaves catch heck from the algae. The thread algae is what prompts me to ask questions today. It's all caught up in my HC and Eriocaulon Cinereum. These two plants are really hard to keep rooted and it's almost impossible to clean the algae from these.

    I've been doing plenty of reading, but I'm not sure what next step to take. Last weekend I increased my co2 a few bubbles, and I intend to do it again this weekend. I leave my co2 on 24/7, so I like to be around to monitor the fish when I up the co2. My photo period starts at 3pm, so I up it in the morning. I'm still doing the chart co2 measurement since my paypal is problematic at the moment and I can't find a retail drop counter.

    I'm reading that Iron could be a problem so I'm pondering cutting traces for a bit. I also read that I might be low in macros, so I'm pondering increasing the dosage on those. I'm using EI dosage by the example on this site. I have decent tank flow, but it does slow from time to time. I have alot plant floaters, but I always clean the intake when I get home from work and before I go to bed.

    I have two dwarf puffers and 7 ghost shrimp, plus snails (snail population goes up and down as they are puffer food). The ghost shrimp are constantly busy, but after I added 4 ghost shrimp to bring my total to 8, the puffers became stressed, so I would rather get my tank straight as opposed to adding more critters.

    My algae isn't a huge problem; it is managable, and probably not that bad for a beginner, but I want to reach the lofty status of no algae via perfect enviroment. My plants are growing very well from what I read. My bacopa grows 3-4 inches a day along with my anacharis and to a lesser extent, my HM. Tonina grows noticably every day or so, and my riccia, various mosses and dwarf sag grow great. HC does grow, but it's more noticable weekly, and the Eriocaulon is simply alive.

    Otherwise I'm quite pleased with the way things are going less than two months in, thanks to the help I've received ;)

    Tank summary:
    10gal
    36watt AHSuply light 4" over tank
    pressurized co2 KH 4-5 PH 6.5
    Dosing:
    +/-1/32+Tsp-KH2P04 3x aweek
    +/-1/8Tsp-KN03 3x a week
    +/-1/16Tsp-CSMB 3x a week
    Water change once a week - sometimes twice as time permits.
     
  2. Frolicsome_Flora

    Frolicsome_Flora Guru Class Expert

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    Firstly, I dont think well ever reach a stage of no algae :) although it would be nice.

    Be careful of changing sand too often, Ive read that a common cause of brown algae is the silicates leeching from new sand/glass.. hense the problem is generally found in new tanks. Ive had this same problem, once Id left it alone, upped CO2, quit fluffing up the sand to hide what was on it, it went.

    It also sounds like you have GSA on the glass. Alot here recommend letting the GSA complete its life cycle, then it dies, and you likely wont ever have it again.. I know thats worked for alot of people on the forum.

    It does sound though like your CO2 just isnt enough, theres no way we can use the KH/PH method of measuring with any accuracy.. once you can buy a drop checker, that will make your life alot easier. You have high light, so your CO2 demands are likely to be very high indeed.

    If your following EI properly, then you can rule out totally any macronutrient issues. Because of the small tank, any issues you get are going to be magnified because of the lower water volumn, if it were me, Id probably turn down the lighting a bit, to something like 2w/g for 10 hours a day.. this will slow everything down nicely and allow you to get on top of it. Especially because you cant be sure of your CO2 levels.
     
  3. edacsac

    edacsac Prolific Poster

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    Thanks Frolicsome! I'm all for letting an algae cycle complete if the chances of reoccurence are small. So I guess that means no scraping at all for several weeks? That may make trimming plants a bit difficult for awhile. I noticed my filter hoses are pretty crusty, and loaded with brown/black spots and lots of green.

    I change some sand every week. You mentioned leeching of the sand. Do you think there might be a way to "prep" new sand? Like soaking it and changing water on the soaking sand? Even once I remove the algae covered sand, rinse it and let it dry, it's never as white as it was new.

    I follow EI pretty good. I've missed a day here and there and ended up doses both macro and micro on the same day, but overall I've been pretty consistent. I'll leave dosing out for now. If issues are magnified on a smaller tank, then I'm still doing pretty good!

    I really can't turn down my lighting since it's a 36x1 kit, and I've already had to lower it closer to the tank because a few of the more difficult plants where dying. I'll save the light option for more towards the end of my troubleshooting if all else fails.

    I guess I need to start pushing the co2 more and see where my limit is. I was going to make a DIY drop checker that I saw from one of of hoppys posts on another forum, but I can't find acrylic tubing at any of my home improvement or hobby stores.

    thanks again!
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you have a Tap Plastic store anywhere near you they have all sizes of acrylic tube, rod, sheet, disks, rings, etc. Or you can buy from them online. Their prices are very reasonable.

    Why are you running CO2 24 hours a day? If you turn it off when the lights are off the fish get a chance to rest from the high CO2, and the plants aren't using it then anyway. Even if you don't have a solenoid you could use the regulator pressure adjustment knob to turn it way down, then back up next morning. Don't use the bottle shutoff valve to do that because some cheap regulators, like the Milwaukee version, don't survive having the pressure turned on unless the regulator is adjusted to zero pressure first.
     
  5. edacsac

    edacsac Prolific Poster

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    Thanks Vaughn,

    No tap plastics around. I have a few more places to check, but will probably order online eventually.

    As for the co2, it's just easier to leave it on. My life is pretty hectic; I've actually left for work still half wearing my night clothes, or whearing my ratty old tennis shoes instead of nice work shoes. There would be many days I would forget to turn on the co2. I guess I could start my photo period after I get home from work. I may get a solenoid, I just need to budget for it. I also want to split my co2 delivery for a second tank.
     
  6. Frolicsome_Flora

    Frolicsome_Flora Guru Class Expert

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    Id definatly buy a solenoid, theyre coming down in price all the time now, shop around, youd be surprised. If you turn it off at night, you can have much higher CO2 during the day, as like Hoppy says, the fish get a break.
     
  7. edacsac

    edacsac Prolific Poster

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    I thought I would get back to this thread because now I have a taste of almost every algae variety. I have BGA in limited spots, I have what could be staghorn on everything and for the first time today I had some green fuzzy algae. The BGA worries me a bit.

    I recently purchased a solenoid, so now my co2 comes on with the lights for about 9 hours. I also turned up the co2 to 4 times what it was. That may have made it worse. The staghorn is on everything tonight and I can't just pull it off. I would have to remove over 50% of my plant mass to manually remove it.

    I'm also using a limewood diffuser since I can't stop breaking the glass ones. The limewood works great, but sometimes it starts throwing large bubbles. I figured out I need to clean it at that point.

    No dead critters hiding anywhere.

    I wasn't worried so much when I posted this threads the first time, but now the algae is growing exponentially. I doubled the co2 tonight, but that was too much. My fish where hading for the surface. Not sure what to do at this point. The plants don't seem to be growing as good either.

    I haven't changed my dosing. Last water change was Saturday or Sunday, better than 50%.

    Here is a picture of some of the algae from last night. Tonight these same plants have 10 times the amount on them. It's even engulfing my HM and fast growers like anacharis and bacopa:

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    The good news, the CO2 is now good.
    The species of algae here is not that bad to get rid of.
    Trim etc and it'll go away.

    Patience is also very much in order here.
    You'll need to wait till the new growth comes back in.
    You just set up the CO2.nutrients to the good ranges, but now will have to wait for the plants to respond after being starved for a long period.
    They will bounce back, I'd suggest some cheapy plants in the meantime.

    You also likely did some moving of the plants around recently and did niot follw with a large water change.

    Large water changes are no good for algae.
    Why? They do two things, add CO2/remove DOC and remove NH4 sources and NH4 itself. Those two parameters, NH4/CO2 are tightly linked to algae.

    So keep adding the CO3, no need to gas any fish, look at the plants, but look at a healthy plant, which at this point, do not invclude any of your plants just yet.
    A sickly plant is a poor indicator for changes to the tank in any short time frame.

    Algae also like CO2 as much as any plant.
    So here's what I'd suggest you do:

    Clean tank again, filter cleaning, 60-70% water change, add fertilizers back again(normal EI dosing), turn off CO2 and lights, add more current, cover tank with 2 layers of black trash bags so no light gets in, add 8 mls per 10 gal of water of Excel. Next day, do the same water changes, no ferts this time, add Excel again. Repeat this again. Total of 3 days blackout daily water changes(50-60% or so) with Excel dosing at 1.5x the suggested amounts.

    Take note, this will beat the heck out most any algae.
    Now, add the good level of CO2 back, and add the fertilizers back.
    Stay on top of things, add new cheapy plants till these grow in well.
    Phase these out as the other plants grow in well.

    Resist the urge to pick algae from HC!!!This will look bad.
    Allow the HC to overtake the algae and smother it, or, cut the entire section of HC out, a replant using cleaned stems about 1" long and push into the substrate about 3/4th of the way down.

    I've used this method on serious algae issues and had excellent results.
    But such labor is wasted if you do not stay on tyop of things thereafter and have some healthy plants to start with.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. edacsac

    edacsac Prolific Poster

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    Thanks Tom,

    So when you say that "my CO2 is now good", are you basing that off my excelerated algae growth? :eek:

    I had moved one blyxa, and also removed two larger pieces of slate with riccia tied to it, to give to a friend. I suppose that was as much of an upset as much as any replanting. So basically, if I create a puff of crud, it's nesseccary to do a water change?

    Fortunatly my riccia hasn't really been hit by the algae, except for one 1/2" spot of it that has some BGA. But everything else is hit. So should I trim everything as low as possible before the blackout?

    It would be great if I could let the HC smother the staghorn. That would be my prefereable method anyway. It took a long time to grow in.

    Hopefully I can score a bottle of excel tonight. My local LFS had one left on Monday. If so, I will start your suggestions tonight.

    Just out of curiosity, will algae that is currently attached to plants die under the right conditions, or does it always have to be removed?

    Thanks Tom!
     
  10. growitnow

    growitnow Lifetime Charter Member
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    Turn OFF co2?

    Hi, I'm trying to distil my understanding of different aggressive algae methods, why in this case turn co2 OFF, rather than up?

    Thanks

    "growitnow"
    Bob
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    No lights= no need for CO2.

    You have high light and a small tank, so it's critical to stay on top of CO2.
    If you do much to the tank, you will cause things to go south quickly.
    It's more sensitive than say a 20 gal with 55 watts of light.

    More light is not better.
    You can do some things without water changes, but if the sediment is mucky, older, then you might reconsider.

    Overfeeding, dead fish/snails etc can and do cause this alga also.

    While you can go in and trim it all off, you'll lose many of the plants you have.
    They are replaceable, but I do not think you want to do that.

    So.......try slowly trimming off the infested leaves as the new growth appears, this should take a few weeks, maybe 3-6 or so.

    It also requires you stick to keeping the tank in good shape, the CO2 is critical.
    The blackout + excel will kill the algae that's there for the most part, but it will not save you from another attack.
    Only you can do that.

    You can also do more water changes till things get better, 2-3x a week is not uncommon for algae issues along with cleaning, trimming and weeding the algae out. You just dose after each water changes if 3x a week, etc.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. growitnow

    growitnow Lifetime Charter Member
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    Tom, thanks.

    I'm trying to understand the principle, or, stated differently, what situations would tend to warrant:

    turning off co2 and turning off lights vs. turning down lights and cranking co2

    In this case, the tank is small and major pruning algae off plants might cause loss of much plant biomass (viz recent biomass discussion). Not so good.

    Though I get that, I am so used to reading your recommendation to crank co2 to address algae issues (when warranted). So what sorts of considerations/observations might suggest one tact is more viable than the other? They're not mutually exclusive strategies (try one before the other?), but they do seem opposing courses of action: Dim lights but leave 'em on & increase co2 vs. turn llights off with no co2.

    Thanks,

    "growitnow"
    Bob
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, given the case by case issues, I focus on the best management for that person's tank. Sometimes I sound like a broken MP3, err......record........ yea, when it comes to some advice.

    This case sounds like the Excel./Blackout daily 50% water change ought to help things, then from then on, it's you.

    then it is back to the broken record........

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. growitnow

    growitnow Lifetime Charter Member
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    algae

    Understood. Depends on circumstance.

    I tell the young chil'ens that records were round flat circular things moulded from vinyl, used in ancient musitronical devices for pleasure.

    p.s.
    ..Some broken records are worth listening to.

    "growintow"
    Bob
     
  15. jerime

    jerime Subscriber

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    Tom you mentioned one of the reasons that algae don't like water changes as "add co2". Why is it of any consequence in a high tech aquarium using co2 injection?
     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    It can be, if you are adding a good amount of CO2, then likely not much with the CO2 pasrt, but generally, many algae issues are CO2 related...............

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  17. edacsac

    edacsac Prolific Poster

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    I think starting today I'll have 3 days in a row to do the water changes for the blackout. The only question I have is about excel, or an alternative for excel. My plant layout is better than 1/3 riccia and I heard excel kills riccia. Is there an alternative or will eliminating the excel and just doing the blackout with water changes be fine?
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Some have said Excel does not kill excel, I think if you stick with the recommendations on the label you should be fine, so 5mls/10 gallon, added every day is plenty during the treatment.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  19. edacsac

    edacsac Prolific Poster

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    Once again I'm comming back to this thread:

    I haven't done anything with my tank as far as algae remedies and most of my algae whoes are gone... except for the BGA, which has gotten really bad.

    Yesterday I did a water change and wrapped the tank in grabage bags.

    The question I have is will I be ok if I'm not doing a daily water change during the blackout. I'm not home every day lately (the reason I've been procrastinating) but I needed to start the blackout anyway. I'm hoping it will work without the water daily water changes.

    Also, how can I "re-estimate" my fertilizer needs to prevent BGA after the blackout? I do have more plant mass since the last time I posted about this; not that much since it's only a 10gal tank, but much more all the same.
     
  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    You should be fine after the balcout as long as you keep up on dosing, the CO2/Excel etc KNO3 etc......

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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