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Can It Be Done? (long post)

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by GreenStuff, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. GreenStuff

    GreenStuff Prolific Poster

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    First of all, "Hi" to Tom and the rest of the members.

    I subscribed to this forum in a last ditch effort to solve the problems I'm having with keeping a planted tank, so here goes.....

    (Specs at the bottom of this post)

    Plenty of pearling takes place and the plants grow fairly quickly.

    This tank has been running for about 3 years now. It has NEVER been without algae, and plenty of it. BBA on the gravel and equipment, green dust on the glass, and fuzz on any leaves that are more than a week old. I’ve taken everything out and given it a bleach bath about every 4 or 5 months. (It’s becoming part of the routine) Everything seems fine for about 2 weeks and then it all starts over.

    The time before last that I did the bleach bath, I tried Tom’s suggestion, (1/4 tsp NO3, 5ml Flourish every second day, etc.) Sorry Tom, but the algae got so bad that I really gave up on the tank and stopped adding anything to it for about 3 months. Now I’m trying again. I just did another bleach bath about two weeks ago, got rid of most of the algae, plants are growing again, pearling...... algae is thriving on the substrate, dust is forming on the glass, and fuzz is starting on the leaves.

    The nitrate level always seems to rise on its own after a water change. It comes out of the tap at 7 and if I don’t add ANY, by the next day it reads about 15. I don’t know where it’s coming from. There’s no jobes or tabs in the substrate, (There were a couple of tabs about a year ago, but I would think the effects would be long gone by now and I can’t find them anyway.) The fish load certainly is light and I barely feed them enough to keep them alive.

    I also don’t understand how my kH rises. Tap is 5.3 but after a day in the tank it reads 10 and some times higher. You would think my fish would die at that CO2 level but they seem fine. (It’s not my test kits either, been there, done that, spent more than enough money on them.)

    Is it possible that some tanks just cannot be kept without algae?

    ***Equipment***
    Tank Size: 25G tall
    Lighting: 110W of CF on for 9 hours/day
    CO2: Pressurized (using a Hagen ladder)
    Substrate: 2 - 2.5 inches of Flourite
    Filter: Filstar canister
    Temp: 78

    ***Fish***
    1 cori, 2 mollies, 3 ottos, 1 ram, 1 tetra

    ***Plants***
    Corkscrew vals, Crypt wendtii, Alternanthera reineckii, Echinodorus quadricostatus, Rotala rotundifolia, java fern, and pennywort

    ***Tap Water***
    (well water tested by water company)
    pH 8.3
    Alk 5.3
    Hardnes 7.9
    Nitrate 7.1
    Phophorus 0.07
    Potassium 1.27
    Iron 0.1
    Chloride 18.4
    Calcium 30.73
    Magnesium 15.5
    Manganese 0.02
    Sodium 6.24
    Sulfate 4.43
    Zinc 0.02

    ***Tank Water***
    (current/typical readings)
    pH 6.8 (morning reading)
    Alk 10
    Nitrates 10 - 30
    PO4 .8 - 1

    ***Fertilizing/Water Change Routine***
    Day One: 60% water change, a really good cleaning after everything settles, 1/4 tsp of No-Salt, 10 drops of Fleet Enema,
    Day Two: 3ml Flourish
    Day Three: 3 drops of Fleet Enema, (I usually see green dust starting now)
    Day Four: 3ml Flourish
    Day Five: 3 drops of Fleet Enema
    Day Six: 3ml Flourish
    Day Seven: nothing (I’m usually so disappointed with all the algae that I give up and start again)

    Any help would be very much appreciated.
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    "Is it possible that some tanks just cannot be kept without algae?"

    No.

    CO2, CO2 and CO2.

    That is your problem.

    You will conitue to have algae for the next 3 years and so so plant growth till address that issue. You might think the growth is okay, algae says it's not. Algae means you have not addressed the plant's needs.

    It's that simple.
    You might not want to hear that, but that is the case.

    You are relying a lot of your test kits for nutrients. You are not adding enough KNO3 and CO2.

    Not adding enough of both to high light tank is a great way to culture algae.

    Get rid of the ladder deal, get a DIY reactor etc.
    Dose: 3x a week: 1/4 teaspoon KNO3, KH2PO4
    Dose: 5mls 3x a week of TMG/Flourish etc

    60% weekly water change

    And..............adding enough CO2 to get no less than 30ppm.

    If you actually do that, you will not have algae. If you believe you are doing this but are not , due to measurement errors, then I cannot help you. You have a measurement issue and a dosing issue, namely with KNO3/CO2.

    You need to work on those. Add more, not less.
    Stop lookign at algae, start looking at plants.
    I've told you precisely what to do and what does in fact work.

    Milder algae problems occur without PO4, K+, traces , GH etc.
    Big ones, CO2, NO3.

    There is no way your NO3 levels are increasing with the tiny fish load.
    BBA always means low CO2.

    So, back to the original premise: add KNO3 and more CO2. Eyeball it(w/CO2), add more and more till you get the results and the algae stops growing, once there, then you can clean the tank out and re set things.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. GreenStuff

    GreenStuff Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    Guess I can consider myself, "told".

    Okay, Tom. We're doing it your way .....again. Right now I've got nothing to lose if I end up with a big tank full of algae and dead fish.

    Anyone know how to build a reactor? I have a little Rio pump but I'm not sure how to build the thing.
     
  4. m lemay

    m lemay Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    Toms method works. I had my doubts too, and I was checking stuff with test kits for fear of putting too much nutrients in. What a waste of time that was. I just finally followed his dosing to the letter its been only a week and my tank is looking better than it has in a long time. Make sure your CO2 is way up. My CO2 is currently at a measured 50ppm, my fish are fine, my plants are simply lush. I don't know why we have this fear of overdosing CO2. I keep a small surface current on one side of the tank just in case oxygen might be an issue with my back turned, but it just hasn't been an issue.

    Marcel
     
  5. GreenStuff

    GreenStuff Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    Reactor is built now and in the tank. I'm not sure that it's working right because I have no idea how it's supposed to work, but I guess I'll find out.
    How fast will the pH drop if it's working properly?
     
  6. m lemay

    m lemay Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    I f your getting good agitation inside the reactor you should see a ph change within an hour. You might have to increase bubble rate over what you were doing before to get desired levels in the tank.

    Marcel
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    Green stuff,

    What I know is that these rec's for the
    KNO3
    KH2PO4
    Traces work

    So we can rule those out as problems for the plants/algae

    Next we have light, check

    Next GH and KH. Check

    What's left?

    CO2...............

    The rest is maintenance, removing the algae that's there, pruning.

    Once the nutrients and CO2 are good, algae slows down and stops growing, the water changes and pruning and cleaning remove the rest.

    In 2-3 weeks the tank shouild be fairly clean.
    Growth should be great, less work, more pruning of plants, not algae.

    I think later, folks look back and go "Wow! all I do these days is prune plants like I'd wanted too. I forgot what is was like having algae!"

    Im still like algae and play with it. But I can get rid of it easily as well.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. GreenStuff

    GreenStuff Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    Thanks Marcel. The pH did drop within an hour to 6.5. I can't really see churning in this reactor that I rigged up, but it seems to be working. I'm going to have to play with it a bit because I keep getting a big bubble backing up into the pump. I may have too much sponge in the bottom.

    Tom, I'm working on the CO2. I know you said that's what it was the last time. Perhaps I should have listened more closely then. It's just hard to believe it could be CO2 when the, dare I say it, .....test kits indicate the CO2 is at 47.

    I'm going to keep this post updated and perhaps if, oops, I mean when everything works out, you can use it as a sticky for all the other "doubting Toms" out there. :eek:
     
  9. GreenStuff

    GreenStuff Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    Update:
    A bit of a set back. My CO2 tank was in the red so I took it in to be filled. They have to send it away and it will be a few days, so I have a yeast solution on my tank for a while.
     
  10. GreenStuff

    GreenStuff Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    CO2 tank is back in place and the BBA, fuzz, and dust algae are out starting to get out of control. This is two weeks after a big bleach treatment.
    I'll put an image up tonight, so people can see what we're dealing with here.
     
  11. m lemay

    m lemay Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    Mine iused to indicate 30ppm and I had algae issues. I increased the co2 to a point where my test indicates 55ppm, test schmest, My fish are fine the plants are really gorgeous.
    That is a setback. Crank up the co2, keep dosing, phisically remove as much of the algae as you can. Don't use bleach, you're just setting back the plants. IME it takes 2 weeks for plants to bounce back from from stresses and back to good growth, patience is the key here. Just believe what we're telling you is true and stick with it. You should see remarkable results 3 weeks into this new regimen.

    Marcel
     
  12. GreenStuff

    GreenStuff Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    This is the mess I have to work with. I'm getting very discouraged looking at it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. m lemay

    m lemay Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    Well dude, its unfortunate that your tank is covered in algae, but hope is not lost and this could be your opportunity to get a fresh start.

    If this were my tank heres what I'd do.
    1)Pull all the plants out and put them in a tub/bucket with tap water. Rinse them all out with tap water and nothing else, and try to get as much algae off as you can. prune and throw out the rotting/unrecognizable stuff and anything that looks like it might be really infested. A little algae is ok, but the less the better. You want to save as much viable plant mass as possible.
    2)Take the fish out and put them in a bucket with tank water with an air stone
    3)clean the glass
    4)Vacuum out the substrate real good. If you had jobes sticks or something else with NH4 make sure that crap is gone.
    5)Rinse out your canisters and filter media with cold tap water and reuse.
    drain the tank completely and refill about 25% and do another vacuuming. Then refill the tank.
    6)Replant the tank.
    7)Add ferts according to toms reccomendations.
    8) crank up the CO2 like we talked about earlier.
    9) Add the fish, netting them, making sure that temps, and ph are similar.
    10)Stick with the fert regimen as outlined by tom and Craig.

    Make sure you're not overfeeding the fish as this can introduce NH4. Be a minimalist.

    Tom did I miss something?

    Marcel
     
  14. Ian H

    Ian H Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    It's not looking good Greenstuff but don't be disheartened, I assure you that with perseverance and the right practices you will prevail.

    I think that Marcel's advice is sound but the very very last resort. There is a danger that if you clean too much all at once your tank could start to cycle. Personally I would do some serious pruning to get rid of as much of the algae as possible. Get rid of any plant that is too far gone. Add as many cheap nutrient hungry plants as your tank will take such as Hygrophila etc. Clean up the glass and generally get rid of any obvious algae crops. Dose ferts and change water as per Toms advice.

    Above all hold your nerve and try to be patient.

    Ian
     
  15. GreenStuff

    GreenStuff Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    Thanks for the suggestion Marcel. I think I'll pick up a few new plants tomorrow and try it out on Sunday. My only source of decent plants around here charges $9.50 per plant, which I think is an insane price, but I'll have to break down and get a few in there cause there won't be much left after I remove the ones with algae on them.

    Do you think it would help to cover the flourite with some gravel? The flourite seems to be farming bba.
     
  16. m lemay

    m lemay Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    I really think most of your plants are salvageable.

    The substrate will probably be fine once you vacuum it out real good. You can turn it under to bury the bit of whats left.

    If your canister has been recently cleaned and you want to prserve the bacteria just shut it off while your stirring things up and restart it once you're done. I think if you watch your feedings and keep them minimal for a couple of weeks and leave good plant mass in there you won't have a cycle.
     
  17. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    You can rotate the top 1" of flourite under.

    I generally never remove fish, I'll do a n 80% water change and work 1/4 to 1/2 sections of the tank. This means removing everything, re sloping the gravel, pruning carefully as much algae as I can get at without too much plant damage.

    I'll refill and wait 3-4 days or perhaps a week and redo the other 1/2 or 1/4 section.

    I'll bump the CO2 up, I'll add good ferts and it'll be fine.


    Your main algae farm issues:
    CO2 and leaking substrate.

    You can completely turn the tank around in 2-3 weeks.
    Seems crazy to you right now but I've seen worse issues and have fixed them many times in person.

    There's no voodoo or green magic potion I use.
    I'll tell you this, you'll look back on this moment and you will not forget and you will be very happy later after you beat this thing.

    Many of us had tanks at some point like this, we figured out what we did wrong and know what to do now though, it's not a constant battle.

    It's just routine maintenance and good CO2.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  18. GreenStuff

    GreenStuff Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    Thanks Tom, Ian, Marcel.

    Guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend.

    After working on this for 3 years without success; you bet your sweet *ss I'll be happy if it works.
     
  19. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    You do what we said, you will be happy.
    3 years is a logn time without some degree of success against algae.
    Many suffered longer than that years ago.

    Some still are:)

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  20. GreenStuff

    GreenStuff Prolific Poster

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    Re: Can It Be Done? (long post)

    The deed is done....

    I removed everything from the tank except for about 5 inches of water, cleaned all of the equipment, vacuumed the gravel really well and sucked up the top layer of gravel that had bba on it.

    Then I topped up with some plain ol' aquarium gravel that's close to the same size and colour as the fourite. (I did that just to cover the top layer so the bba would not get a head start)

    I put 2 CO2 ladders in place and have them set to one bubble per second for now.

    I removed the plants that were covered in algae and cut pieces off the tops of the others to re-plant. I also added 3 new plants; some hygro, a new anubias, and a new reineckii to replace the ones I chucked.

    Added 1/4 tsp KNO3,
    1/8 tsp No-salt (not sure that I should add this)
    8 drops of Fleet enema
    Will add 5ml of Flourish tomorrow.

    Now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed.
     
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