This site is supported by the advertisements on it, please disable your AdBlocker so we can continue to provide you with the quality content you expect.
  1. Dismiss Notice
  2. We are after as many aquarium plant images that we can get, doing so will assist us in completing the aquarium plant database.

    https://barrreport.com/threads/aquatic-plant-images-wanted.14374/
    Dismiss Notice

Causes of hair algae?

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by BHornsey, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. BHornsey

    BHornsey Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2006
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    Hi Dudes & Dudettes, ;)

    Bout 6 months ago I set up my big tank, 115 UK Gall (plus 15 in the sump)

    Everything was perfect, nice growth, minimal algae.

    Just this last 3-4 weeks though I've been suffering some hair algae and it's getting a little prolific. At first it was just a few strands on some crypts, now it's getting onto most things; long strands upto a foot or more long

    In an effort to knock it back, I've been removing it manually and then doing thrice weekly w/cs, dosing 60ml of Excel after each w/c. However, it keeps coming back so I've obviously not bottomed the cause. As always, there's lots of contrary advice on the net about it's cause, so:

    I've got three 70w 5200k MHs above the tank, 6' x 2' x 2', raised about 18" of the surface.
    I inject CO2 via a Mazzei injector attached to a 2500 lph pump, which feeds into the return pump, a 3500 lph Aqua Medic unit. I get a nice steady mist of CO2 thoughout the tank. Moving the drop checker around shows it to be nice and evenly spread. The water is returned to the tank via a spray bar made out of 3/4" pipe with holes drilled to drive water down into the tank. There are also two down legs with spray holes to drive water round the tank.

    The substrate is a thin layer of pond compost, bout ½" deep, then 2" of Aqua Medic Volcanit and then a topping of some fine black gravel, about 1mm grain.

    I'm dosing EI. However, my tap water has quite a bit of N (average 25ppm) & P (1-2ppm) already in it so (on my normal schedule) I tend to dose just a bit of K2SO4 (3.5 gms) after a w/c on Sunday, then 8.5 gms KNO3 & 1.6 gms KH2PO4 on Tues & Thurs. I'm using Aqua Essentials trace mix.

    Stocking isn't too dense, I think;
    7 Discus, ranging from 2" to 4",
    2 Elephant nose,
    20 Neons
    10 Black Neons
    10 White Clouds
    1 Farrowella
    I put a dozen shrimp in but I don't know how many are left!
    There's also 2 or 3 Nerite snails.

    At first I thought it might be overcrowding but I don't think so. I feed them quite lean and anything going in is cleared in no time. They get live or frozen bloodworm, daphnia or brine shrimp, along with some Tetra Prima or cichlid pellets, or sometimes some dried tubifex which they go nuts for.
    The only problem I have is vacuuming the substrate. I use an Eheim Gravel Vac which is quite good, if a little slow. I tend to do a third of the bottom at each w/c but it's so heavily planted I have trouble getting amongst the base of the plants so I'm thinking there's detritus building up there.

    The tank is very heavily planted with a range of plants, notably three large swords, some groups of hygrophila (a big Corymbosa and lots of Difformis which I keep potted to avoid disturbing the substrate) Loads of Crypts and two big bits of bogwood with lots of cover with Java Ferns, Anubias & Bolbitis. I also have a good group of Ludwigia Glandulosa and Alternanthera which have now broken the surface and grown out of the tank.

    Any suggestions coz I'm at a loss. There's been no trouble with the tank 'til now and I'm surprised that the 3x weekly w/cs & Excel dosing hasn't touched it. I can't think of anything I have done though after six months the substrate has obviously matured.
     
  2. BHornsey

    BHornsey Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2006
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    Morning,

    Still having grief with my tank!

    I gave it a thorough overhaul 10 days ago;, pruned, cleaned off all the hair algae, thoroughly vacuumed the substrate (there was a lot of mess) and continued with my w/cs every 2/3 days & Excel dosing. For a few days all was good. Now the hair algae is returning.

    After a good long trawl through some of the posts here, I'm starting to think I may not be getting sufficient flow through the tank. CO2 seems to be good, a nice light green on my drop checker and a nice visible mist of CO2 is coming into the tank.

    I have an Aqua Medic OR3500 pump in the sump which is returning water to the tank using 3/4" pipe (about a 2½ yard run along the back of the tank and up) and a head of about 3½ foot. In the tank, the 3/4" pipe runs along the back with some 3 or 4mm holes drilled in and aimed down the back wall. There are two 'legs' running down with spray holes to try and circulate the water round the tank.

    This is my first big tank I've set up so I'm still learning. :)

    I was thinking of replacing the run from the pump along the back with 32mm pipe, then tee-ing off to two 20mm spray pipes, one along the front, one along the back. This I hope will improve water/CO2 distribution. However, before I spend more money on this I wondered if anyone has any other suggestions?

    Brian
     
  3. PeterGwee

    PeterGwee Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    6:13 PM
    The readings from your tap water are from lab reports from the water supply department or just using test kits of your own? I'll not trust the test kits of your own unless you have calibrated it against a known standard as Tom always states
    (Basic lab practice all over the world...:D ). Hair algae tends to strike whenever CO2 dips below optimal levels or underdosing of nutrients. Since you have a large tank, getting the CO2 system to be very responsive is critical. How long does it take to get to the target CO2 level after the system is turned on?

    Regards,
    Peter Gwee
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Messages:
    18,676
    Likes Received:
    644
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    Peter is right on target here.

    Try adding the CO2 earlier, say 30 min before the lights come on.
    Make sure it's a bit higher rather than lower.
    Think about that redo for the CO2.

    Try this for the algae: blackout, excel and water change(daily for the water change and Excel). Then reduce the light to 8 hours.


    Prune the swords back some also, they get greedy and take over a tank fast, they can cause massive changes in CO2, nutrients etc as they expand and grow.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. BHornsey

    BHornsey Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2006
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    Hi,
    thanks for the replies.

    My water readings are taken both from my own readings (always suspect) but also from my local water company's annual report.

    My CO2 currently comes on 1½ hours before the lights; CO2 is up by the time the lights come on. I have a pH monitor which records a nice steady figure for most of the day. It raises to around 6.8 overnight but falls again to around 6.4 by the time the lights come back on. It only falls slightly more than that through the day. Whilst not indicative of the level, it demonstrates that it's somewhat stable.

    The swords were given a good 'hack'. I had let them run away a bit.
    I have been water changing / Excel regularly but hadn't tried a blackout; I didn't think it was effective against this type of algae?

    I'm also trying to work out why this has occurred now, the tank's been stable for months.
     
  6. susantroy1

    susantroy1 Junior Poster

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2007
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    Could you have introduced it by aquiring any new plants from your LFS? I know I'm always picking up another plant or two when "just Looking".....:) Oh yea, I've also got a free load of snails with such purchases:mad:
     
  7. BHornsey

    BHornsey Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2006
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    Morning again.

    Today I gave the tank another good clean through, changed water, dosed Excel and covered it up.

    I've being trying to reckon what caused this outbreak. For six months the tank has been perfect, then a month ago, bang. Many of the plants were doing really well; my Anubias & Swords were flowering. I also got some long trailing flower stems which I think were from my vallisneria. Both my Ludwigia & Alternanthera had reached the surface and really took off. Then the algae appeared and plant growth seemed to fizzle out.

    Whilst vacuuming the gravel I've noticed a lot of snail shells. A few months back I got a snail infestation; must have come in on some plants. I didn't worry too much and just took out the excess I noticed on the glass. Then most seemed to disappear. Not sure what sort of snails they were but if they were algae eaters then there wasn't much algae for them and they may have died back. If so then it's typical, the ammonia boost has given them plenty!

    Also, when I gave the tank a big clean up a fortnight ago it was a very hot day. I took out the bogwood and pruned back some of the excess growth on the Anubias, Bolbitis & Microsorum. They were out for an hour or so and it looks as if they dried out and died back. Today I pruned off the now dead leaves. Fortunately there's plenty of new growth on the rhizomes, except for the Bolbitis which I think may be beyond recovery.

    The only other thing I can think of is I turned up the temperature to around 27/28°C for the benefit of my Discus.

    Tom, what did you mean by 'think about that CO2 redo'? Do you agree that the return piping cold be better?
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Messages:
    18,676
    Likes Received:
    644
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    If the plant growth slows, you know something is up, generally CO2.
    Light and dosing can be pretty consistent and you knwo if those have been doing okay etc, CO2 is another animal.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Messages:
    639
    Likes Received:
    3
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    Excessive algae growth is caused by inbalances between the amount of light and the amount of nutrients available, including CO2.

    Lots of tanks do not have algae problems and have very little CO2.

    Just adding CO2 without knowing nutrient availability is like firing a shotgun into a flock of ducks. There is always more space than ducks.

    Bill
     
  10. BHornsey

    BHornsey Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2006
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    Hi all,

    My tank has now been covered up for a few days. I'm gonna uncover it tomorrow and see how it's doing.

    When it started going downhill a bit the swords, which had been really growing strong, started showing signs of problems; leaves looking a little brown & holey. They also looked torn for some reason.The rest just started hosting hair algae! I've removed the three swords for now but I'm thinking of getting a single example to replace it.

    I had been dosing 8½ gms of KNO3, 1.6 gms of KH2PO4 & 2.1 gms of AquaEssentials traces mix, thrice weekly. I had always thought this adequate so it's CO2 that's not being supplied fast enough for the now bigger plants? I did increase CO2 supply several times over time.

    This is my first experience with such a big tank. As I said in the earlier post, would it be a benefit to lay out the return pipe differently? CO2 is mixed in using a Mazzei Injector which is then fed into the return pump and hence to the tank. However, it driven down the back wall of the tank. It may have trouble reaching the front. It was satisfactory until recently but it must be showing it's limitations when the growth is not kept pruned back. How do you lay yours out?

    Brian
     
  11. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Messages:
    240
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    Hi Brian, I just input your 115 Imp G into the nutricalc (v1.93) and here are the results:

    3 x/week - 9 grams KNO3
    2.5 grams KH2PO4
    4 grams K2SO4
    23 grams MgSO4

    2 x/week 1.6 grams CSM+B

    I have a similar sized tank and this is in the ballpark of what I dose, except I use a combination of the GH booster and the individual sulfates. I completely ignore the tap water readings and dose per the EI scheme. It's pointless to say "my water report/test kit/whatever says I have quantity (X) PO4 and therefore I'll dose less PO4." If we subscribe to this site we should know that "overdosing" does no harm to flora or fauna and does not induce algae. If you've say, doubled your plant biomass in 6 months without changing your original dosing strategy could it not be that you've perhaps bottomed out a nutrient or two sometime during the week now that effectively twice as many plants are feeding as compared to 6 months ago? Not saying that's a certainty but a possibility. Best to eliminate the possibility by dosing at least per the standard schedule.

    Also, just for completeness, your drop checker is filled with 4kH water and NOT tank water correct?

    Cheers,
     
  12. BHornsey

    BHornsey Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2006
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    Everything looks good again now after the blackout.I didn't realise that worked for this sort of algae! Most of the hair algae just fell off; I found it wrapped round the overflow comb and in the filter sock!

    I'm still considering how to layout the return pipe. I think some of the problem could be slow water turnover and movement in the tank. It's fine at the moment after a heavy prune but the heavier growth requires more demands on the system and contributes to slowing circulation?

    There are just so many different configurations to consider. I've been looking at either a second spray bar along the front of the tank (would increase flow and CO2 distribution but would look unsightly) or maybe just removing the spray bar and using one (or two) shaped outlets, like Lily pipes. (problem here may be too strong a flow?)

    I've looked on various sites but most advice seems geared toward marine tanks.
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Messages:
    18,676
    Likes Received:
    644
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    Marine tank flows do not change like FW planted tanks because the growth is so much slower.

    I like a good surface flow source, and perhaps a lower one as well.
    Sprays bar do okay also.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. BHornsey

    BHornsey Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2006
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    Well, after the cover up all is again well, no algae and nice clean growth.

    I gave everything a good prune. I remove the three swords and replaced them with a single, smaller growing veriety. The vegetation is now much less dense. I'm gonna let it grow on again and see at what point trouble starts again. I suspect there's a threshold upon which supply can't meet demand. However, CO2 is being supplied fairly well; it only takes a slight increase in supply rate before the fish show signs of stress; gasping and lingering at the surface.
     
  15. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Messages:
    18,676
    Likes Received:
    644
    Local Time:
    10:13 AM
    Yes, you should have about .2pH buffer before the fish start to see issues.
    Good current, good plant growth, not adding it at night, all these allow higher levels without stress.
    Another angle of approach and a wiser one IME, less light.

    Less light= less CO2 demand :idea:
    Better development, less algae growth, easier to maintain.

    I'd suggest giving this some thought and providing a routine that's more manageable for a future algae bloom. With algae, plants and scaping, patience really helps:D

    I'm glad the BO worked well, they do to those that try them for Green algae when you add the Excel and water changes like that.
    Not much survives that and the plants are fine.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
Loading...

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice