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Iron dosing causing hair algae.

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by rrguymon, Aug 27, 2005.

  1. rrguymon

    rrguymon Prolific Poster

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    I was following EI for about 3 weeks.

    Dosing 1/2 tsp KNO3, 1/16 tsp Phosphate, and 5ml of flourish or CSM+B twice a week in a 55 gallon tank. I started getting hair algae that was getting worse and worse. The tank is heavily planted with sunset hygro and lud repens, wisteria, and dwarf sag. I have 8 neons, a beta, two dwarf grom, 2 otts, and a pair of guppies in the tank.

    I noticed that the day after I dosed Iron the hair algae would really take off. This week I did my 50 percent water change and did not dose any iron or phosphate (phosphate test kit said I have plenty). I only dosed the KNO3 and the algae is virtually gone and the plants are doing great.

    I have lots of eco complete in the tank I am wondering if it is providing the iron needs for the tank and any I add just feeds the algae?
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    I add lots of iron and have no hair algae.................

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. euripides6996

    euripides6996 Junior Poster

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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    For what it's worth, I had the same issue for a while but I wasn't being overly scrupulous on the dosing schedule and the CO2 was a bit low. Once I brought CO2 back in line, the hair algea basically disintegrated (pretty cool to watch, actually.) I've found that *any* time I have algea and I'm following the ferts pretty closely that insufficient CO2 has been the problem.

    2 cents...
     
  4. rrguymon

    rrguymon Prolific Poster

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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    Thanks for the replies.

    I am pretty sure its not co2. I use a controller and keep the pH at 6.6 to 6.7 with a KH of 6-7 or so. That is in the 40 to 50 pmm range. I calibrate the controller weekly and it is dead on in a 7 soltuiton and dead on for my out of the tap water 7.9. My water company info for alkalinaty which I am pretty sure is KH is about 6.5 like my test kit indicates. I check the KH weekly too.

    I have seen the hair algae have explosive growth three times now after I dose either CSM+B or flourish 5ml (with in 24 hours). I have not dosed either for 2 weekly water changes (50%) now and the hair algea is about gone. The tank looks great and plants are growing fine.

    I am not sure what is going on but I will do what ever works for a nice tank. I will continue to just dose KN03 untill I see signs the plants need something else.

    I do have some contaminated Eco complete in there. They sent me some replacement bags but I have not changed it out yet. I may not if the algae stays away. :) From what I have read the contaminated eco raises the GH and phospahte. It did not effect my GH at all. I have hard water here in New Mexico so it did not seem to effect th GH. My phospahte was way high but it is now down to around 2ppm. I have not dosed the phosphate for 2 weeks now either.
     
  5. rrguymon

    rrguymon Prolific Poster

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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    I have been looking at more pictures of algae and what I have is fuzz algae not hair algae. It is short and not clumped and grows on the leafs of plants. Still takes off like wild fire if I add iron though.

    http://www.aquaticscape.com/articles/algae/fuzz.jpg Look almost Identical to what I have.
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    Often times you did something to cause an algal bloom, then correct things after the algae has established.

    Unless you go back to confirm things in an otherwise healthy tank, that the excess Fe caused algae, you can only speculate.

    This is why I can say things very confidently about what causes algae and what does not.

    When you try to induce algae on purpose and these same claims do not induce algae, these facts contradict the theory excess Fe, PO4 etc causes algae.

    No one ever seem to do this in the past with algae.
    Other changes occured in the tank beside the lack of Fe/PO4.

    Time and getting the tank back in shape also plays a role.
    I know it might seem like excess fe causes algae or excess PO4 etc, when you go back and add more to an otherwise well runnuing tank, if as you suggest excess Fe causes algae, then I should see algae in the tank, yet everytime without fail, I do not get algae.
    My question to you is: why don't I get algae?


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. rrguymon

    rrguymon Prolific Poster

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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    I am not implying that an excess of iron will always or often cause algae. I have no way of knowing that. I am a real rookie at this plant thing. It is a fairly new set up and my first serious try at plants so there is no telling what I could have done wrong.

    All I know is that if I add CSM+B or Flourish that fuzz algae starts to grow fast in my tank. Happened three times in a row. Maybe some unique set of circumstances. I could try again for the 4th or 5th times haha, but the tank is looking pretty good without the traces at the moment. I think I will just wait another week or two before I add some more. I am keeping the KNO3 up though.
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    I'm not suggesting you try adding more, I am suggesting that Fe excess is not the problem nor the cause of the algae......................

    So you need to look elsewhere for the issue.
    You can also rule out K, NO3, PO4(these are being dosed and water changes are removing them). If you base your dosing on test kits, you need calibrate those test kits.

    If not, don't pay attention to them. EI is not going build up as long as you do the water changes. Inaccuracies with test kits and routine changes cause/d more issues than I can shake a stick at.

    95% of all algae related issues are CO2 related.

    I'd start there.




    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. rrguymon

    rrguymon Prolific Poster

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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    Thanks. I am not dosing based on test kits really. I have quit testing for nitrates I simply dose 1/2 teaspoon twice a week. I am checking for phosphate and KH only. The phosphate has come down and I will go back to just doseing 2x a week 1/16 teaspoon like you suggested.

    I can look at the co2 again but how high do you have to go? I am pretty sure I am the 40 to 50 range as I stated above. PH of 6.7 KH 6 to 7.
     
  10. magicmagni

    magicmagni Prolific Poster

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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    I have seen the same thing you are talking about. It happened on the tank I set up two years ago and again on the tank I set up some months back. I really didn't understand why it seemed that the iron was causing algae, but I dosed less Iron and added as many Amano shrimp as I could afford and I had less problems. As time went on and the tanks matured I "pushed the envelope" so to speak and started adding a little more and more Iron until I was dosing what (if not more) than what I was dosing before. Not sure why this happened, but like I said it happened twice for me on two separate tanks. At least the second time I knew what it was right away.

    That said I think Tom has a point on C02. Thinking back I was having issues the second time with Co2 (probably the first time too, but I was too much a noobie to know). Like you I was using a controller, but I think that was the problem. I have since removed the controller portion and just have a constant bubble rate going with a timer to shut off at night. I have found it to be a much better way to deliver C02 consistently day to day.
     
  11. defdac

    defdac Lifetime Members
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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    Everyone I know that dose a lot of iron get hair/thread algae, given low macro and/or CO2-levels. They even smell of iron when you pull them out.

    One thing I don't understand, question number 1: If I have low and jumpy CO2/macro-levels and have no thread algae, I dose iron and immediately get iron smelling thread algae - why isn't the iron the actual cause or even the trigger/inducer?

    Question number 2: Is thread/hair algae better at fixing iron, like diatoms is very good at storing PO4?
     
  12. rrguymon

    rrguymon Prolific Poster

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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    FYI, my hair algea problem was fixed sometime ago. It was low CO2. I have to go down to 6.5 or 6.4. The KH CO2 chart's don't work for my water. If they did my fish would be gased and dead. A lot of the KH in my water is from something other than Bi carbonates.

    Rick
     
  13. quenton

    quenton Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    Did you end up testing CO2 some other way? Or did you just increase it and see that the fish were still fine.
     
  14. rrguymon

    rrguymon Prolific Poster

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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    I just kept increasing the CO2 a little at a time. In .1 or so increments and observered the fish and plants. At one time I was down to 6.0 The fish were still ok. I have found that I do not need to go that low though. I shoot for 6.4, which is a long way from my base tap 7.9.

    The latest advice I keep reading on many fourms is add CO2 until you get a 1 unit drop (7.9 -6.9). That would not work for me unless I wanted an algae farm haha. It probably works for most people though.

    Tom was correct. It was a CO2 issue even though I was a doubter.

    Rick
     
  15. neil1973

    neil1973 Prolific Poster

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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    Definitely agree that the CO2/PH/KH charts can be a bit miss leading, as can the tested values for PH/KH. Currently I have a measured ph of 6.2 and kh of 5 so supposedly CO2 of 90ppm or so. My tap water has virtually 0 KH so I have to add sodium bicarbonate, I do this by weight to a known amount of water so the KH value should be fairly accurate, the Ph is tested with a reasonably well calibrated meter.

    Anyway the point is that regardless of what my actual CO2 value is I got to the current PH/KH values by slowly upping the CO2 until the fish started looking stressed (around ph 6 – 6.1) then backing off slightly. Obviously this process needs to be done very carefully.

    When I first set the tank up I had hair algae and it did seem to increase with the addition of Fe but importantly I wasn’t adding PO4 or NO3 at this stage, as well as using a dodgy ph probe which meant that CO2 was much too low. I found that fixing the NO3, PO4 and CO2 levels along with removal of visible algae fixed things pretty quick. A pair of rosy barbs helped remove the hair algae quite quickly.

    As an aside; I am interested in this idea of a 1 unit PH drop. My water is currently 7.8 after being stood for 24 hours so a drop of 1.6. I would imagine that the amount of CO2 needed for a drop of 1 unit will still be linked to the waters buffering capacity so there will be differences between tanks. What do people think?

    Regards
    Neil
     
  16. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    In a tank of water containing alkalinity in the form of carbonates only, and acidity in the form of carbonic acid only, the equation that gives us ppm of CO2 is: CO2 (in PPM) = 3 * KH * 10 ( 7-pH ) . If you solve that equation for KH, assume that KH is constant whether the water is outgassed or not, you get: KH = CO2(degassed)/3*10exp 7-pH(degassed). Substitute that in the original equation: CO2(in tank)=CO2(degassed)*10exp[pH(degassed)-pH(tank water)]. Or: CO2(in tank)/CO2(degassed)=10exp{pH(degassed)-pH(tank water).]

    So, the result is independent of KH, as long as the KH remains the same for the degassed water as for the in-tank water. And, if the pH drops by 1.0, the in tank water has 10 times the CO2 as the degassed water, which by my experiment is about 3 to 4 ppm.
     
  17. neil1973

    neil1973 Prolific Poster

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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    Thanks for that, I get it now. With a drop of 1.6 this suggests i have either 95ppm of co2, bad ph readings or less than 3ppm in the degassed water. While i'm reluctant to make any big claims about the accuracy of my ph measurments i'm inclined to believe that my co2 content is quite high due to the fact that it is pretty much on the limit of what the fish can take, and this level was reached slowly and in a controlled manner.

    It would be interesting to hear of any references people may have for upper co2 limits for acclimatised fish at given temperatures and oxygen concentrations.

    Neil
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    I think finding that level for fish will depend on the species of fish, temp and O2. These are seldom noted let alone getting a decent measurement on CO2.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  19. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    Measuring PH accurately isn't easy. Using the hobby kits, like Aquarium Pharmaceuticals kit, requires judging between two or three colors, one sample of which is printed on a white glossy card, and the other is in a round clear tube. Anyone who can pick out the color (PH) within 0.1 should be an artist! Even doing so within 0.2 is very hard except for a small range of PH's. So, as accurate as this method is in theory, in practice it gets extremely iffy. And, a PH difference of 1.3 means twice as much CO2 as a difference of 1.0. I guess this is an argument for buying a PH meter.
     
  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Iron dosing causing hair algae.

    Even with a pH meter, unless the water is RO or tested for all forms of alk, it's difficult to be absolutely sure.

    Another common pH problem is stray electrical current from light ballast etc, this can drop pH readings.

    Turn the electrical devices on/off to see.

    You can use 10mls instead of 5 mls for the KH test kits, this will give you 0.5KH units.

    The Lamotte Test kit is accurate to 4ppm of KH. Not bad, add 2x the volume and you extend this to 2-4ppm. You need lab equipment to go further.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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