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green water

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by rlillynj, Oct 12, 2007.

  1. rlillynj

    rlillynj Junior Poster

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    hello,

    i know this is probably a very old topic and i'm sorry for the redundancy. i have a 55 gallon tank with 2-54watt t5 6500k lamps, a eheim ecco filter, diy co2. the plants seem to have been somewhat dormant for about 3 months, its been established for about 6 months. i now have green water, i had green water after about 4 months and i got rid of it rather quickly by dropping my light duration from 14 to 12 hours and doing a few extra water changes than normal. its back again and my previous methods are not working. i dropped the lighting down to 11 hours and have done serious water changes. ironically the plant growth now is very dramatic and the fish seem happy, of course i'm not because i can barely see anything in the tank. i must note that photosynthesis and growth appear very high during this green water phase. there is barely one leaf on any plant that isnt pearling. the last time i got rid of the green water the plant growth seemed to slow down, however they were still pearling rather well and still are. so i am assuming that i have an imbalance of some sort but its not negatively affecting the plants. the tank is heavily planted and moderately stocked with fish.

    water parameters.
    ph 7.6
    co2 8ppm
    temp 78
    gh 8
    kh 10
    ammonia,nitrite,nitrate = 0ppm
     
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    You didn't mention fertilizing. And, for that much light you don't have much CO2, if you have less than 10 ppm. You can't accurately measure CO2 by using the pH/KH table, so I doubt that you have even the 8 ppm you measure that way. If you are trying to have a "natural" tank, with only substrate fertilizing, and low light, you need to suspend that light fixture several inches above the water and reduce the photo period to about 8 hours.

    Or, you can start fertilizing with nitrates, phosphates, potasium and trace elements, using the EI method, for example. Adding pressurized CO2, or at least using two or three DIY CO2 bottles will also help a lot. Green water usually starts when there is a sudden little surge in ammonia in the tank, from a dead fish, dead snail, decaying plant matter, uprooted fertilizer stick in the substrate, etc. But, if you keep the tank heavily planted, and the plants growing well, you can usually avoid green water even then.
     
  3. rlillynj

    rlillynj Junior Poster

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    i have been using seachem flourish and excel based on their recommended dosage. i am using a mixture of flourite and regular gravel for the substrate.
    i am using 2 2-liter bottles on the co2 with a home made reactor that appears to be extremeley efficient. i stopped the fertilizer thinking that was the cause of the green/cloudy water. i suppose i should mention that a few weeks ago i UPGRADED to the eheim canister from a standard power filter. i attempted to use as much bacteria from the old filter as possible but now that you mention the ammonia i am thinking that maybe i did cause a minor cycle to occur. and the light is above the water surface at about 4-5".
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Flourish provides trace elements, and Excel provides carbon, but you still need NP&K, which is what dosing per EI provides. Those fertilizers will allow the plants to grow faster and healthier and that will help reduce green water problem, not make them worse. If you get a drop checker and use it with 4 dKH distilled water in it you can measure how much CO2 you actually have in the water, as accurately as any cheap method will allow. Then, you can adjust your CO2 if needed.
     
  5. rlillynj

    rlillynj Junior Poster

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    thanks so much for your input... i am starting to get the hint here but i must admit its strange coming from a fish only setup. more nutrients = algae. makes a lot of sense though. although my plants are growing well, they are not growing "optimally". algae can adjust to different nutrients easier than plants, while the plants will use the same nutrients, they cannot use them efficiently enough to out compete algae if other required elements are not present. did i get that right? thanks again for your help.:)
     
  6. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Oops! Message missed!
    Fertilizers don't cause algae. The absence of fertilizers can contribute to algae starting up, because healthy plants deter algae and unhealthy plants encourage algae. Excessive nutrients are not a worry, assuming you don't have 10X the recommended amounts in the water. Algae don't compete with plants for nutrients, just for light. But, algae require very little in the way of nutrients to grow. Nature has adapted algae to sense good times for growing thru the reproduction stage, and to start growing when those good times are recognized. Some of the factors in "good times" are: ammonia in the water, wide variations in CO2 in the water, dead plant matter or dying plant leaves, etc. Does any of that make any sense?
     
  7. rlillynj

    rlillynj Junior Poster

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    that definately makes some sense... however, it does concern me considering that my tank is very tidy. dead/decaying leaves are removed immediately, ammonia and nitrites are almost always undetectable, and i change water at the rate of about 10% a day while very lightly vaccuuming the gravel. i have been reading a lot lately and what does make sense to me is that i am most likely severly lacking in nutrients. i have increased lighting dramatically, increased some nutrients, dramatically increased CO2. all of which produced a serious increase in growth of the plants, decrease in larger forms of algae then increase in green water. so my plants have improved, but what i see is that they are now at a level where they are starving for other nutrients. from what you've said and what i've read elsewhere. the green water may have been caused by an ammonia spike, but i'm having a hard time believing that is what is sustaining it. its now going on two weeks of green water. not getting worse, some days very slightly better. luckily its not solid and i can still see my angels.
     
  8. FacePlanted

    FacePlanted Guru Class Expert

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    It sounds like everything you are doing now is right, except I would still keep the light at a reduced rate. Max 10 hours duration, and raise it several inches above the water.

    Quote from Vaughn, "Algae don't compete with plants for nutrients, just for light."

    This might be the change that will get your tank stabilized.

    Good luck!

    -Mike B-
     
  9. rlillynj

    rlillynj Junior Poster

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    i changed the timers so we'll see how it goes for the next few days. i also noticed that during the past few water changes that i raised the level a slight bit. no more than 1/4 inch. since i'm at somewhat of a loss because the tank has been stable for a while, i've decided to set everything back to exactly the way it was when it was stable. unfortunately raising the light is a bit difficult without making custom brackets for it. obviously though i think raising the water level is the same as dropping the light closer to the water. i haven't changed the wattage of the lights but i did change the bulbs from 10000k (stock bulbs for that fixture) to 6500k bulbs. would anyone disagree with that change. lighting seems to be a rather difficult and detailed topic and i've read a lot and i have gathered that 6500k is a better choice.
     
  10. rlillynj

    rlillynj Junior Poster

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  11. FacePlanted

    FacePlanted Guru Class Expert

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    You are mostly right, except that phosphates dont cause algae in a planted tank. Phosphates are an important part of plant growth/health. Phosphates=algae is true for a fish only tank, but plants need the entire N-P-K + trace elements (as well as co2) for optimal growth. This optimal growth/healthy plants is what keeps the algae at bay.

    high light,co2,low nutrients may not necessarily lead to algae, but an imbalance of nutrients would. (meaning one or more nutrient levels do not meet plant uptake needs)

    high light, co2, NON-Limiting nutrients=good plant growth/less(no) algae

    Phosphate, a lot of times, helps drive the uptake of other nutrients like N.
    When P bottoms out, plants are lacking, and thus the uptake of the other nutrients slows down also.
    Plus, levels of P that are undetectable to us, are still sufficient to allow for algae growth but not for plant growth. Plants suffer while algae thrives.
    All of this, of course, is assuming that co2 is not the limiting factor. Co2 needs to be in excess to the plants usage for the given amount of light. Poor or unstable co2 is a large cause of algae.

    Algae usually is a result of ammonia/ammonia spikes, too much light/light duration, or POOR CO2. Co2 is the hardest one to maintain at adequate levels throughout the lighting period. Using a drop checker properly can help with this. After co2 is taken care of, take care of the nutrients(use EI dosing, for example) and the result is good plant health. Conditions need to be steadily maintained, as plants thrive in stable conditions and algae thrives in unstable/fluccuating conditions (ie: co2 fluccuates during the day, one or more nutrients bottom out or are not in sufficient quantity to meet plant's demand)

    Higher light=faster uptake/higher demand of co2---->faster uptake/higher demand of NPK+traces
    Lower light=slower co2 uptake/lower demand--->lower nutrient need/uptake

    Hope some of this can be of help. I may not be the best at explaining all of this. If so, then sorry.:p

    Good luck with the planted tank!

    -Mike B-
     
  12. rlillynj

    rlillynj Junior Poster

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    its starting to get clearer. my experience with CO2 is as limited as my experience with plants. i'm using the diy method with 2 2L bottles. it has been a major experiment to say the least. at the start i was getting very poor results, very low output. i then learned that the temperature of my home was at fault and causing the yeast reaction to be very slow. i have since kept the bottles at a constant rate of temperature using a bucket water and a heater. i have yet to find an optimal temperature. although output has increased dramatically. i have been changing out one bottle every two weeks to ensure that output doesnt change much and by watching the reactor and the amount of bubbles entering it i thought i had it rather stable. of course that may very well not be true. that is in fact the only inconsistent variable in my setup. nutrient addtition temerature lighting water changes and so on have all been on a very strict schedule. i believe overlooking my co2 setup is most likely now my downfall. i think i'm going to just cough up some cash for a pressurized system and be done with it. i dont want to have to deal with learning the optimal way to use yeast and how to grow plants at the same time. thanks so much for all your help. this stuff can get overwhelming for the newbie and i really appreciate everyones input.


    -Ryan
     
  13. rlillynj

    rlillynj Junior Poster

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    wow i think i just needed a good nights sleep. if had just payed attention to what my plants were trying to show me then i would have realized that CO2 was at fault. they are healthy and green, but growing slow... isn't a sign of nutrient defficiency usually seen as bad leaves, dying leaves, and so on? a sign of CO2 defficiency, slow growth? so i have great lighting, good levels of nutrients, low CO2.... plants have all the other variables for fast growth and high nutrient intake but not enough CO2 to accomplish it therefore leaving everything for algae.
     
  14. rlillynj

    rlillynj Junior Poster

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    Green water Revisited

    Update:

    so i've finally gone with compressed CO2 instead of the insanely annoying DIY yeast method. best thing i ever did. however, my water is still green/hazy.

    the latest measurements.
    ph 6.8-7.0
    KH - 5
    GH 8-10
    CO2 16-20 still fine tuning.
    temp 78.5f
    ammonia 0
    nitrite 0
    nitrate 25-30 big problem right?
    phosphate 0 / just about measurable

    lights 1 6500k 54watt T5 / 1 10000k 54watt t5 bulb

    during this green water phase i've changed approx. 10% of the
    water daily. during normal conditions i change 10% every three days.

    the nitrates are very high which would indicate that there is decay, excess waste,
    something of that nature to blame. however, there isn't. i've been crazy about pruning any slightly sick leaves. when i vaccuum there is very little debrit removed because there isn't any to remove. i've tested my water from the tap and found there is maybe a trace of nitrates but not enough to explain the excessive level. i did add nitrogen as a supplement once but based my dosage on half of the recommended dosage as i always do when i first start with a new additive.
    my only thought after reading the replies to my issue is that i'm missing another
    nutrient that is keeping the plants from properly using the lights, co2, and nitrates? nitrates and high light being the cause of my green water? i have a very active pleco in the tank and i'm assuming thats why i no longer see any traces of any other algae as a result of those conditions. is it the extremely low phosphates causing the imbalance, and if so. what would be a targeted amount?

    thanks in advance to anyone who provides input on this.
     
  15. FacePlanted

    FacePlanted Guru Class Expert

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    Yes, low phosphates. Shoot for maybe 2ppm in the tank. The addition of phosphates really drives the nitrate uptake, given that co2 and lighting are sufficient.

    You can order KH2PO4, or use a fleet enema to add phosphate. If you get the fleet enema, add maybe 2-3 mls. If you use the kh2po4, add about 1/8 tsp. every other day. This will really help the plants bring the nitrate down, as well as utilize the co2 and everything else.

    25-30 ppm nitrate isnt TOO high, if it is from kno3 dosing. If it is nitrate that has come from decaying matter/ammonia, then that could be a symptom of the same thing that is causing the green water.

    Try adding phosphate to a level of 2-3 ppm. It will be really great for your plants. Just dont let your nitrates bottom out from being consumed. Keep the level at about 15-20 ppm.

    Good luck!

    -Mike B-
     
  16. rlillynj

    rlillynj Junior Poster

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    i have seachem phosphorous that does have phosphate in it. is that acceptable or should i use another product?
     
  17. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Seachem Flourish Phosphorous is a good source of phosphates, but it gets expensive if dosed at the right amount. One more thing, you need regular water changes of about 50%, not 10%, per week. This allows you to slightly overdose all of the fertilizers and by doing the water changes, prevent a build up of any of the fertilizers. I didn't notice if you are dosing trace elements, with Seachem Flourish, for example. If not, you need that too.

    Green water doesn't go away with water changes. You need a 3 day blackout, followed by a good cleaning and big water change, or a diatom filter to remove the algae, or a UV "filter" to kill the algae in the water. Once you get rid of the green water, and get the plants growing well, you are pretty well protected from more green water blooms by the plants.
     
  18. rlillynj

    rlillynj Junior Poster

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    thanks for the advice. i was beginning to wonder what i was doing wrong. i have been relentless with testing and water changes and dosing co2 lighting and so on. the green water is not getting any worse but it is surely not getting any better. mornings are better than afternoons. i'm just assuming that the algae takes a beating over night but as soon as the lights are on for a while it takes hold again.

    my dosing has included
    excel (which i cut back on since the new addition of pressurized CO2)
    flourish (weekly)
    flourish phosphorous (every couple days slowly until i see a rise in phosphates which i haven't seen yet)
    flourish potasium (very little of that since i haven't been able to test for it and my experience is limited)

    about water changes:
    i have been changing about 10% every two days. is it wiser to do a larger water change once a week or stay at
    the current pace. i figured my method would be less stressful and more consistent.

    i was also introducing small amounts of nitrogen until i replaced my nitrate test kit and realized the high level.
    i've stopped that until my nitrates fall back down to about 10ppm. which i must add is taking a long time
    considering i've now also found out that my tap water has about 5ppm. so i think adding nitro is probably a waste
    of time.

    i do have a magnum 350 sitting around. i've read in other threads that people use that with the micron filter to accomplish that. is there something special i need to put on the micron filter to accomplish filtering out the algae. diatom powder or something? and if so where do i get that? doing a three day blackout seems easy but my plants are just starting to grow at what i would consider an acceptable pace and i'd hate to screw that up now. its really frustrating considering that my plants are really starting to grow so well, but i can't see their full beauty through the fog.


    Thanks,
    Ryan
     
  19. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    It is almost always a bad idea to rely on test kits to tell you how much of what to fertilize with. Those kits are only good if you carefully calibrate them and repeat the calibration often enough to catch any deterioration in the chemicals. I suggest that you give up the testing and just use the EI method of dosing. That will ensure that you have non-limiting amounts of all of the needed nutrients, which will give you the best plant growth, which will go a long way towards preventing algae outbreaks.

    Diatom powder (diatomaceous earth) is what you need for the filter. You can get this at swimming pool supply places pretty cheaply. It does take a special technique to charge the Magnum 350 with the DE powder, but people say it works well when you do it.
     
  20. rlillynj

    rlillynj Junior Poster

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    thanks for your response. i'm going after work to pick up the magnum micron filters and going shortly to pick up the powder. i'm assuming that i'm doing things properly now because the green water is not getting worse. its just been static for a month now. i'm assuming thats because i didnt remove the existing algae in the first place and its just lingering around.

    i hope this works, its been a while since i've had a clear tank now and its hard but not impossible to see the dramatic growth that has occurred in the past month.
     
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