Help with algae in low-light, C02 enriched tank

sheen&ieee.org

Junior Poster
Jun 14, 2007
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Tom and/or other experts,
I have some questions on transitioning from low maintenance to a low-light C02 enriched tank

My current tank:
75 gallon
Two 65 watt compact fluorescents from AH supply
Ehiem pro canister filter
plus another ehiem canister
Tanks been running two years
2 inches flourite substrate
Java fern, anubus, anacharius, and other low-maintenance plants. Tank has what I would say is a low to mid level of plant biomass. I have seen successful tanks with less but most nice CO2 injected tanks would have more plants.
Heavy fish load: 50+tetras, 5 corys, 6 ottos, 1 SAE, 4 kuli loaches, a few snails, a betta
Water is Phoenix city water (kh 7, gh 13) mixed 50/50 with RO water and with a little baking soda added to get to a kh 5, gh 7
Living in Phoenix with a house at 80 deg, tank runs 82-84 deg.
Lights are on for 7 hours a day
Not routinely dosing ferts
MInimal water changes (20% every couple months)

Tom Barr defines 4 methods(see: http://www.barrreport.com/you-new-a...ere/2890-step-2-chose-method-learn-well.html).

Of these methods I finally ended up with a low-maintenance non c02 tank that is sort of working. It has plants that are growing slowly, interesting fish, and while it has some algae it is nothing I can't keep on top of. I'm not dosing much of anything. A capful of excel and a tablespoon of PMDD for traces every couple weeks but basically am relying on the fish waste for plant fertilizer. I am trying to follow the methodology Tom laid out in http://www.barrreport.com/estimative-index/2817-non-co2-methods.html

I tried for over a year to have a low-light CO2 enriched version of the tank. I had a fairly good ph controller and a homemade reactor in line with one of the canister filters. I had very bad algae problems that I could never get on top of. Black bush and string algae. Tried more CO2, less CO2, heavy ferts, no ferts, fiddled with light ing period. I had lots of theories but I never could get something that worked.

Now that I have hopefully given enough background information some questions:
1. Is my Fish load just too high and NH4 from fish the root cause of my algae?
2. Would adding CO2 help or hurt from an algae control perspective? Based on past experience I know any sudden increase in light, CO2, or nutrients is quite likely to help the algae more than the plants. However, I still have a chronic algae problem, it is just low enough I've learned to live with it. Also, I would like my plants to grow just a bit better.
3. How does my hot tank temperature impact algae and plants? I'm pretty much stuck with it because my home electric bill already pushes $300/month for AC in Phoenix.
4. Any suggested changes to get algae more under control? Specifically if I add CO2 how should I do the transition and what if anything should I start to dose?
5. Does Tom or anyone have a good summary methodology and explanation of how to manage a low light CO2 enriched tank. I really found Tom's summary of the non-CO2 method very illuminating. I feel like the low light tank CO2 enriched tank may be this awkward middle ground that is inherently unstable from an algae perspective and am searching for guidance.

-Dan
 

Mooner

Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Jun 9, 2006
311
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Colorado
Well I'm the other, but no expert.

sheen&ieee.org;26461 said:
Tom and/or other experts,
I have some questions on transitioning from low maintenance to a low-light C02 enriched tank

My current tank:
75 gallon
Two 65 watt compact fluorescents from AH supply

AH Supply has either 55w or 96w, might clarify

sheen&ieee.org;26461 said:
Water is Phoenix city water (kh 7, gh 13) mixed 50/50 with RO water and with a little baking soda added to get to a kh 5, gh 7
Living in Phoenix with a house at 80 deg, tank runs 82-84 deg.
Lights are on for 7 hours a day
Not routinely dosing ferts
MInimal water changes (20% every couple months)

IMO there is no need for RO or a blend of such. My water is rock hard and I grow a lot of weeds. There should be a fert routine in use and around 10hrs of lighting

sheen&ieee.org;26461 said:
Of these methods I finally ended up with a low-maintenance non c02 tank that is sort of working. It has plants that are growing slowly, interesting fish, and while it has some algae it is nothing I can't keep on top of. I'm not dosing much of anything.

Even in the non-carbon method, a fertilizer routine is mentioned. I use a similar method in my NC tanks with shrimp and it does well.

sheen&ieee.org;26461 said:
A capful of excel and a tablespoon of PMDD for traces every couple weeks but basically am relying on the fish waste for plant fertilizer.

Adding excel is using carbon, It seems that two methods are being combined. Either use Excel at the recommended dose or do not use it(ie, non-carbon method)

sheen&ieee.org;26461 said:
I tried for over a year to have a low-light CO2 enriched version of the tank. I had a fairly good ph controller and a homemade reactor in line with one of the canister filters. I had very bad algae problems that I could never get on top of. Black bush and string algae. Tried more CO2, less CO2, heavy ferts, no ferts, fiddled with light ing period. I had lots of theories but I never could get something that worked.

Again, IMO you don't need a PH controller. Using a Drop Checker with 4KH solution to achieve about 30ppm of CO2 and having this system turn on 1-2 hours before lights on and off 1 hour before lights out will work fine. There is a balance of sort that must be found between Lighting, CO2 and fertilizers. If any of these fluctuate then issue can arise.

sheen&ieee.org;26461 said:
2. Would adding CO2 help or hurt from an algae control perspective? Based on past experience I know any sudden increase in light, CO2, or nutrients is quite likely to help the algae more than the plants. However, I still have a chronic algae problem, it is just low enough I've learned to live with it. Also, I would like my plants to grow just a bit better.

Again a balance is a must. CO2 alone doesn't cause algae.

sheen&ieee.org;26461 said:
3. How does my hot tank temperature impact algae and plants? I'm pretty much stuck with it because my home electric bill already pushes $300/month for AC in Phoenix.

I live at 9500ft and have to heat my tanks year round. I keep them around 82F. Too much above this might be a problem.

sheen&ieee.org;26461 said:
4. Any suggested changes to get algae more under control? Specifically if I add CO2 how should I do the transition and what if anything should I start to dose?

Get your CO2 at 30ppm, Start with the appropriate EI dosing schedule(ie. Macs,Mics and traces) Do weekly WC's and remove as much algae as possible. I have converted three Excel tanks to CO2 with great results doing the above mentioned.

sheen&ieee.org;26461 said:
5. Does Tom or anyone have a good summary methodology and explanation of how to manage a low light CO2 enriched tank. I really found Tom's summary of the non-CO2 method very illuminating. I feel like the low light tank CO2 enriched tank may be this awkward middle ground that is inherently unstable from an algae perspective and am searching for guidance.

A low light CO2 is a very stable routine. High light might be more unstable and need a fair more amount of attention. Here is a low light CO2 currently running.

DSC04658.gif


55w over 30 gallon tank for 10 hrs, Black Fluorite 2-3 inches, EI with no Excel and weekly WC's. Filtration is a sump and extra power head for circulation. This is a very stable system and requires a small amount of weekly trimming.
 

Tom Barr

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Jan 23, 2005
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The PC lights are rather intense over a small area, they do not spread it evenly over the tank IME.

Be better to use 40W T12 bulbs, say 2-3 Triton bulbs would be nice.

So a shop light or two:eek:
Seems weird, but it's really pretty true.

You can add Excel and do that, or go CO2 and keep the light you have.
Adding SAE's Amano shrimps (a bunch of shrimp, say 30-40) might also help tip the scales.

More plants, more floaters etc, to block the highest areas of light also.

120 W of T12;'s would do well though.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Gautam

Prolific Poster
May 19, 2008
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Calcutta, India
Have personally experienced 2 methods of controlling Black Brush Algae:

1> Siamese Algae Eaters: Mentioned by Tom. These fishes really likes eating BBA. I have seen a crew of 6 cleaning a 6" bogwood thoroughly covered with BBA almost overnight. Two points of caution though : a- As SAE grows bigger they definitely prefer other foods over BBA and b- Identifying SAE is difficult. Don't end up buying Flying Fox which looks almost similar and doesnot even bother to touch BBA

2> Recently by increasing CO2 levels I have got decent results. But you are already using Excel so it should be enough. Just check the doising incase....
 

sheen&ieee.org

Junior Poster
Jun 14, 2007
4
0
1
Dan

Mooner,
Thanks for all the feedback on my issues. I really liked the pictures of your tanks. Looks like they have the "sparkle" I have noticed in CO2 enriched tanks that have figured out how to avoid algae.

AH Supply has either 55w or 96w, might clarify
You are correct. I have 2*55w

IMO there is no need for RO or a blend of such. My water is rock hard and I grow a lot of weeds. There should be a fert routine in use and around 10hrs of lighting
I don't use the RO mix for plants I use it for the tetras. Not sure if it is necessary but when I use some RO I have gotten some fish to breed such as angels and tetras so I believe the fish prefer it. This is not based on extensive experience. I also shy away from 10 hours of light because tank overheats.

Even in the non-carbon method, a fertilizer routine is mentioned. I use a similar method in my NC tanks with shrimp and it does well.
I reread Tom's instructions and dosed some KNO3, KH2PO4, and Equilibrium. I think I will try this weekly for a month or so.

Again, IMO you don't need a PH controller. Using a Drop Checker with 4KH solution to achieve about 30ppm of CO2 and having this system turn on 1-2 hours before lights on and off 1 hour before lights out will work fine. There is a balance of sort that must be found between Lighting, CO2 and fertilizers. If any of these fluctuate then issue can arise.
I will try your approach when I try CO2 again. I was concerned that maybe I never really was reaching 30 ppm and this was the source of some problems. The drop checker sounds more reliable.

Thanks again,
-Dan