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Bad mix: green water + brown algae

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by _ReApEr, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. _ReApEr

    _ReApEr Prolific Poster

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    Specs:
    Tank's been up almost a year.

    So, yeah, I have green water and, I assume, brown algae. It's a very thin brown film that's been plaguing me since the start of the tank. Over time, it moves from a film to a hard crust-like buildup. Picture for reference:

    [​IMG]

    You can see on the one in the center some of the film building up on the outer edges of leaves. Then you can see on other ones the crusty stuff I'm talking about. The film can usually be rubbed off fairly easy, sometimes it takes a pretty firm rubbing, but the crust has to be scraped off which is sometimes impossible without destroying the leaf.

    Anyway, I just recently (a few weeks ago) started injecting CO2 and EI dosing. I've more recently (a week or so ago) cranked my CO2 up to turn my drop checker from green to very yellow. Not yellow-green, plain old yellow. A few hours ago, I turned it up again. I'm now seeing a good amount of bubbles in the tank, though I can't tell if they're CO2 bubbles or O2 bubbles, 'cause the plants are definitely pearling a good amount. The rate of CO2 injection kind of concerns me, however. I don't know if my reactor just isn't efficient or what, but I'm injecting CO2 way too fast for me to count the bubbles. It's nearly a constant stream. And it sounds like the 15" reactor is at least a third full of gas, based on the splashing sounds coming from it. One thing I've noticed is that I get a fairly large bubble that builds up in the last section of my spray bar, I assume CO2. I'm fairly confident in my water circulation, here is a video for reference. Please excuse the horrible quality, it was taken with my cellphone. It gets the point across, though, you can see 95% of the plants are moving in the water. Regardless, I'll be getting a Koralia Nano this Christmas, perhaps even two, to totally rule that out.

    Back to the algae. The brown algae, like I said, has pretty much always been there and I assumed it would go away with the addition of CO2 and good fertilizers. Through more research, it seems it is usually caused by low light. So, I'd increase my light but for the green water. Hence, the thread title. Increase light to fix the brown algae and send the green water into a rampage. Decrease the light to get rid of the green water and make the brown algae happy. The green water drives me nuts, yes, but the brown algae is depressing. When I upgraded, I expected to see the brown algae start to go away or at least stop growing so that I could get new growth and trim all the old, crusty stuff and get rid of it all. The plants are having explosive growth, especially the swords which have nearly doubled in size, but the brown algae still eventually ruins them. Obviously, I need to fix the brown algae issue before I can start trimming and getting rid of all the old plant mass or I'd just be in a never ending cycle of trimming and watching the brown algae ruin the new growth over and over again.

    I'm in a predicament, however. Over the last 1 - 1 1/2 months, I've spent upwards of $1000 on my tank. My other half is not going to be happy with me spending another $100 on a UV sterilizer (I don't want to bother getting a $30 one, I'd rather just wait and get a nice one for Christmas), especially right before Christmas. Ideally, I need a fix for this that doesn't cost any money. I have Excel on hand from before the EI+CO2 upgrade. Would that possibly help? Should I attempt a blackout with Excel dosing? If so, what is the proper way to go about it? I imagine CO2 remains off for the blackout period. How long should I black it out for? Should I do water changes during it? How big and how often? Should I dose the Excel? When and how much? Will a blackout cause the brown algae to run rampant?

    If this isn't even the right direction, please do lead me to it. I'm quite confused, myself, and don't know which algae to attempt getting rid of first. Or, for that matter, if a blackout with or without Excel will get rid of both in one go.

    Thanks a lot, in advance, for all your help.
     
  2. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    I believe I worked with you on your tank last time, and your ferts got worked out.

    Pull some intense water changes, dose excel, do the blackout, trim off anything with algae on it after, and consider switching over to a needle wheel if you want to assure higher CO2 to the plant easier.

    Just my first reaction.

    -Philosophos
     
  3. _ReApEr

    _ReApEr Prolific Poster

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    Yeah, you helped me out with determining I needed more CO2 injection.

    Water changes: I've been doing them every day, 50%.
    Excel: how much and how often? Normal dose? Double?
    Blackout: for how long?

    Do I continue doing water changes for the duration of the blackout? 50% daily? Do I dose the Excel after each water change?

    I hadn't really looked into needle wheels because it's my understanding that they need to be inside the tank but, again, I haven't really looked into it. Can they be done externally? How so? Can you just modify the impeller of an external pump?

    Thank you.
     
  4. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Try dosing about 2-3ml/5 gal of column to start and see what happens. I'm not sure what the level of effectiveness on the green water will be, but if nothing else you can spot treat anything on plants.

    Start with a 3 day blackout and see what happens. I've pushed up to 5 days, though sensitive plants may not react so kindly. Water changes during blackout would be helpful. While the algae may not be reproducing as fast as it's dieing off, removing it from the water never hurts.

    An External needle wheel is something I've been pondering my self since first seeing the mod. I wouldn't run it in-line, but perhaps as a bypass. I was thinking of running it between the intake and the output hoses, which hypothetically would eliminate damage from pressure inequalities between it and the canister. Nothing I've tried yet, though.

    Personally I wouldn't mess with the impeller of a pump worth $200 or so, especially as the main source of filtration. A pump on bypass running would be much safer.

    -Philosophos
     
  5. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    UV True Believer

    Do you have or can you buy:( , borrow:cool: , rent ;) or steal :eek: a UV sterilizer?

    Biollante
     
  6. _ReApEr

    _ReApEr Prolific Poster

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    LOL. No, nope, uh uh, LOL no.

    Too late anyway. ;p

    I've just dosed 15mL Excel for ~25g water and mummified the tank. Unplugged the solenoid. Also added an airstone since I wrapped the heck out of it. Just gotta keep an eye on the temperature, make sure I didn't over insulate it.

    So here's the plan:

    Total blackout for 3 days.
    50% water change every day.
    15mL Excel after each water change.

    We'll see how this goes. Wish my tank luck. I'll keep this thread updated.

    EDIT: Oh yeah, if anyone sees any glaring holes in my plan, please point them out. ^.^

    Thanks.
     
  7. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Perhaps only do the excel on the first day, or dose 7.5ml every day after the 50% water change. I'm not sure what causes the 11 hour half life in glutaraldehyde, but it wouldn't surprise me if it's UV light. You don't want to OD your fish.
     
  8. _ReApEr

    _ReApEr Prolific Poster

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    Well, I will be doing it after 50% changes. The recommended dose for my tank is 12.5mL after a large water change. But, taking into consideration that the UV might cause its 11 hour half life, perhaps I'll just do 5mL after each 50% change.
     
  9. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    In addition to the excellent advice given, here is what I would do if this were MY tank:

    1. REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF LIGHT.
    2. REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF LIGHT.

    Do you have 2 65w bulbs or just one?

    You have way too much light and a pretty small tank.

    Here is what I would do in addition to the above but after your blackout.

    1. Do a 50% or larger water change DAILY for the next 2-3 weeks or until things look better.
    2. After EVERY water change, dose your macros, wait a few hours and dose the micros (if this is an issue).
    3. Dose the NORMAL dosage of excel daily if you use it.
    4. Dose your prime or dechlorinator after the WC.
    5. Reduce the light duration to 8 hours daily max. It can be whenever you want, just not more than 8 hours for now.
    6. Move your drop checker around every 2-3 days to a different location and get an idea of what it may be in 'general'. With a daily water change you may want to change the drop checker solution more often as well. A pain, I know but you need to have a better idea of what is going on in there..
    7. Do NOT assume that flow is adequate. I have found it can almost always be improved somewhat.. The tank changes with time and growth and patterns also change.

    C02.

    1. Do not concern yourself with the bubble rate at this time.
    2. Every 2-3 days, increase the amount of c02 a tiny bit and observe the fish. Are they losing color or seem pale? Do they seem stressed or to be hiding? Are they breathing heavily or at the surface? If any of these things, turn the c02 back down and increase some surface ripple.
    3. Add a nano and point it at the surface to get some surface ripple. No need to break the surface but get the water rippling.
    4. I would think your reactor is either underpowered or too small. You shouldn't need that high a bubble rate for that size tank. Please elaborate more on your setup, plumbing, c02 flow, etc?

    BE PATIENT. It may take several weeks of adjusting, cleaning, pruning, etc before things come around.

    Make sure you clean your filter weekly no matter what and see if you can borrow a magnum with the micron cartridge. Add some filtration to the tank as well, it won't hurt.

    Plant care;

    Prune any algae covered/infested leaves or stems. Be ruthless here. One way to guage the tank is better is by the new growth. If the tank improves, your growth will be back soon. Take any good cuttings, gravel vac and replant.

    Oh, a good gravel vac overall won't hurt either I bet.
    Now please tell me how you spent 1k on a 29 gal tank?

    Hope this helps.
     
  10. _ReApEr

    _ReApEr Prolific Poster

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    One bulb. I have no way of reducing the light except by cutting the photo period, which is already 8hrs. I also have brown algae, so reducing the light would make that worse, if I understand correctly.

    My schedule doesn't allow for that kind of dependency on the tank. I work and am a full time student, in addition to having 7 other pets to take care of. I've just been dosing like normal in the morning, then a 50% change after lights off.

    About that, I just use AquaSafe. But I'm seeing Prime pop up a lot lately. What is generally accepted as the "best" conditioner?

    Like I said, I'm getting a Koralia Nano or two for Christmas, so that'll be totally ruled out, I'd think.

    What concerns me is how much CO2 I'm wasting. I'm an environmentalist.

    All that stuff is kind of covered in the first post. Is there something else you'd like to know? I'd be happy to clarify anything if so.

    LOL, well, let's see. Eheim Pro II 2026, 5lb. CO2 cylinder, Primo CO2 regulator from GLA, a check valve from GLA, a drop checker from GLA, fertilizers from GLA, BorneoWild pincette from GLA, Hydor ETH 200w inline heater, a new light bulb, all the parts for the CO2 reactor, some extra tubing for the filter... perhaps that's it, I'm sure I've forgotten something.

    Thanks a lot for your input, the more the better!
     
  11. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    A simple and inexpensive method to hang your lights is to go get some simple shelf hardware that has adjustable vertical bars like for closets. Just place your light fixture over the vertical bars just like you would lay the bookshelf. Than you adjust the horizontal bars via the verticals and you are good to go. The verts come in various lengths and can be cut easily to size. The longer the vert, the more adjustment.

    It takes minutes to do and is adjustable. Strong enough to hold as well but be sure to use anchors or to get the studs if possible. Better safe than sorry.

    I will take some time to think about your time and schedule.

    Lowering the intensity of the light is the biggest target IMO. The duration is less important assuming we are not talking an 18 hour photo period lol

    Next time you want to setup a tank let me know and I know I will spend less than that lol

    I bet you bought new and stuff like the c02 tank can be had cheaply used from welding supply/fire extinguisher places.
     
  12. baron von bubba

    baron von bubba Junior Poster

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    do every thing you can to get the light lower.
    if they cant be turned down any, then consider adding some floating plants to shade the tank somewhat.

    both of your algae types are triggered by ammonia are they not?

    this is the first i've ever heard of low light triggering algae, your light is hardly low anyhow.

    flow is certainly not upto scratch you only have about half the turnover that you probably should be aiming for.
     
  13. _ReApEr

    _ReApEr Prolific Poster

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    That's a really good idea. Unfortunately, it's not against a wall. I mean, it is against a wall, but it's a half wall that only goes up to the top of the tank anyway. ;/

    I called around to many places around here and, unfortunately, AirGas was the cheapest at $80 for a full 5lb. tank. Everything else is new, yes. I hate buying used, never sure of the condition. It's just a thing of mine, I won't buy used unless I absolutely have to. New will last longer anyway. I'm not into short-term money saving, I'm into the long-term savings. Investments, you might say.

    Was considering that. Water lettuce, anyone?

    I believe they can be. Ammonia's at 0ppm, though, so not the issue here.

    That'll be more than fixed come Christmas, but I seriously doubt it's so poor that it's causing an algae bloom.
     
  14. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    How are you determining this value and is your test kit calibrated against a known solution? If not, I would not assume it is correct.

    If you are using a basic hobbyist kit, you can toss the readings in the garbage.

    Algae can exist on amounts that a local test kit will NEVER register.

    The assumption that an inexpensive test kit is accurate has doomed many an aquarist. Just double check is all.

    I am with you on new for the most part, but the c02 tank has really nothing to go wrong with it. It is UGLIER than a new one, but has worked for years now.

    It just seems like 1k to a 30 gal tank is not in synch..........
     
  15. _ReApEr

    _ReApEr Prolific Poster

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    I didn't buy it "new," I just bought it, it was their only option. Though I did luck out with it being a fairly new cylinder, still shiny, because I don't have room for it under the tank, meaning it sits in view in my living room. LOL.

    And, yeah, the test is just a drop test, I don't trust its accuracy 100%, but it registered ammonia while the tank was cycling, never since. So, I'd think if there was enough ammonia to trigger (I know algae can survive on trace amounts) an algae bloom, my checker would register something at least.

    Anyway, today's the last day of my 3-day blackout. The tank is crystal clear, though that could easily be because the 50% changes have been reducing the amount of algae in the water and the lack of light has kept it from reproducing. Some of my crypts are melting, though. Anyone think I should go for a day 4, or just call it good and hope it worked?
     
  16. _ReApEr

    _ReApEr Prolific Poster

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    I decided to cut it off at 3 days since some of my crypts were melting. I pulled off all the towels/sheets and was pleasantly surprised to see crystal clear water. Here's a before and after set, the after was taken as soon as I turned the lights on for the first time in 3 days.

    Before:
    [​IMG]

    After:
    [​IMG]

    Now, I know this doesn't mean it's done for sure, it could well be because I was doing 50% water changes every day and, without the lights, the algae wasn't able to reproduce. It could well come back in the next few days, but my fingers are crossed because it looks fantastic right now. I want to take a moment to elaborate on exactly what I ended up doing, in case it does get better so others might learn from my experience.

    3 days totally covered.
    Every day, light turned on for ~3 minutes for fish to eat.
    CO2 solenoid unplugged.
    Airstone put in the water, bubbling 24 hours a day for all three days.
    Beginning of first day, three extra layers of fine filter floss added to filter, 15mL Excel dosed.
    End of first day, 50% water change, 7.5mL Excel dosed.
    End of second day, 50% water change, 5mL Excel dosed, extra filter floss cleaned.
    End of third day, 50% water change, extra filter floss removed.

    I think that's it.

    I also took the opportunity to start hacking away at my Bacopa monnieri to get rid of the dirty leaves that have accumulated over ~9 months of inadequate fertilizing and no CO2. This is exciting to me, because the small area I did looks fantastic and I seriously hope it stays that way. Here's a couple pictures of the corner I trimmed and replanted:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I am really hoping this has worked and it stays this way so I can start getting my tank into shape.

    As usual, all comments, advice, and criticism are appreciated!

    EDIT: Forgot to mention, I'm cutting the photo period from 8 hours to 5 and slowly increasing it back to 8, an hour every week.
     
  17. _ReApEr

    _ReApEr Prolific Poster

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    Well, no signs of its return today, though it is only the first day. But things are looking good. I'm hopeful.

    EDIT: Day two, still no signs.
     
  18. _ReApEr

    _ReApEr Prolific Poster

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    Officially 6 days after the blackout and still crystal clear water. I seem to have overcome the green water. I still, however, have brown algae growing on my brand new Bacopa monnieri, which is frustrating. Like I previously mentioned, I cut the light to 5 hours and am increasing it an hour each week, so back to 6 this week. I'm hesitant to just up it straight back to 8 for fear of the green water making a comeback. My understanding, however, is that low light causes brown algae. But then I've also been told multiple times, now, that 65w CFL over a 29g is more than enough light, perhaps too much. Keeping the 18" depth of a 29g in mind, I don't know that that's true. My only argument is that my crypts, some of them anyway, are poking straight up. They almost look like a toothpick stuck into the substrate. I have to assume that's because they aren't getting enough light. Could that be true? I want to add an HC carpet, but if the crypts aren't even getting enough light, wouldn't the HC not stand a chance? So, I'm back to trying to get rid of the brown algae because I was so pleased with the Bacopa monnieri trimming posted in post #16, but now that new stuff is also being taken over by brown algae. So, again, I consider upgrading my lights from a single 65w CFL to a Catalina 4x24w T5, but I know there are those that would tell me that's way too much light. So what direction do I take? Also, I've moved the drop checker directly into/over the patch of Bacopa I just redid and it's yellow, so CO2 in the area seems to be fine.

    Thanks, guys.

    EDIT: Perhaps I should elaborate on my CO2. I'm kind of frustrated with my reactor for two reasons.
    a) my drop checker never drops below green, even at night, so I blame the reactor. I have an airstone that bubbles all night, so it should help with off-gassing the CO2, which is probably why it gets down to green. Gas build up must be hanging out in the reaction chamber being chopped up and spit out all night, which is less than ideal.
    b) it takes hours for my drop checker to rise from green in the morning to yellow in the afternoon which, again, isn't ideal. I don't know what the issue is, but I blame my reactor for this as well. My needle valve is high enough to bubble faster than I can count and it even fills the reaction chamber about a 1/3 full of gas towards the end of the day, which then starts being misted out the spraybar. Therefore, I feel turning it up even more won't accomplish a faster yellowing, but only a higher peak in CO2 content in the water column, probably accomplishing nothing but irritating the fish and spraying CO2 bubbles all over the tank.

    Any thoughts or ideas?

    And, just for good measure, a picture taken last night:
    [​IMG]
     
  19. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    I would advise more PATIENCE.....and most likely more c02..

    Remember that the tank just a week ago had multiple issues. It is not going to turn around overnight.

    It takes time to get things optimal, and then more time for the plants to ADJUST to the optimal conditions.

    Drop checkers will take several hours to denote changes by color. this is normal.

    I think you have enough light. Brown algae are diatoms and are not always caused by low light. I have very high light and I had this for a while.

    Caused at times by new tank startup.

    Also note that ALL components of the tank are related. Filtrations affects clarity which affect lights which affects c02/nute uptake, etc.

    So, a dirty filter can cause issues just as too high or low light can, maybe just not the same. Many items are dependant on another in our systems.

    You may want to look at the c02 injection method as a separate issue to find what works best for you.
     
  20. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    I'm with Gerry on this one; patience is going to get you farther than anything right now.

    If you want faster results, pull water changes to twice weekly, and maybe try spot treating some excel (not sure how it does on brown algae). Don't forget to prune.

    Personally I'm not sure why a 65w CF wouldn't do the job, but if you must upgrade your light make sure you have the option to run as low as 1x48. You'd be surprised what those T5's can push out compared to CF.

    -Philosophos
     
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