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Losing Battle with Algae (Picture Heavy)

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by EddieX, Feb 27, 2015.

  1. EddieX

    EddieX Junior Poster

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    Hi Everyone,


    I'll get right to it. I've started my 55 gallon a couple months ago and while it started out fine I have been battling several types of algae for the past few weeks and I'm attempting numerous changes in my routine to battle it but I would like your insight on narrowing it down the root cause of it.


    Tank Details:


    55 Gallon


    Stock - 18 Cardinals, 2 Platys, 6 Ember Tetras and the odd Nerite Snails here and there.


    Pressurized CO2 with an inline diffuser


    4x54W T5HO fixture (Two daylight and Two flora red blubs)


    Eheim 2217 + AC 70


    Two power heads for water circulation


    Tap Water Kh: 6-7


    Tap Water GH: 9


    Tap Water PH: 8.1


    Tank Water PH with CO2 on for a few hours before lights turn on: 6.8 - 6.9


    Tank Water PH w/ CO2 off in the morning after overnight degassing: 7.9-8.0


    Lighting period: Noon - 8pm


    EI Dosing:


    1/2 tsp KNO3 (Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday)


    1/8 KH2P04 (Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday)


    CSM +B (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)


    Flourish Iron 1/2 cap (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)


    50% Water changes every Sunday.


    My Nitrates are high at about 80ppm so I wonder if I should start cutting back my KNO3?


    As you can see from the pictures, I can't determine if I have a Potassium deficiency, Phosphate deficiency , or too much high light and too little CO2. I can't determine what is causing all this Algae!!


    I have to clean Green Dust Algae daily from the glass and I had an outbreak of Green Spot Algae which is thankfully slowly subsiding. This is on top of all the other Hair Algae, Staghorn and BBA that I have.


    From what I have researched on here and other forums, in the majority of cases the culprit is usually low CO2 levels but I cannot explain why even with over a 1PH drop I am still experiencing this.


    Some of my plants are doing better than others. My Rotala sp Green is stunting and not growing at the bottom which could be my fault for not pruning the top enough therefore the light did not penetrate the bottom so I am hoping it bounces back. My Rotala mini butterfly is doing alright but constantly has algae on it and I cannot let it grow out too much and have to keep pruning the algae away constantly. My Macandra is doing well aside from the Staghorn algae growing on the tips of the leaves. Some other plants, the older leaves and dying really quickly, some with pinholes, some just die off and wither away.


    So here is what I'm doing at the moment in hopes to get rid of this algae, but I need help in fixing the root cause:


    I've removed one bulb and now only run 3x54w T5's and I am also dosing Excel one cap daily. I have also started to dose a bit more Potassium and Phosphate in forms of Flourish Potassium and Aquavitro Activate (P) but I know I should be doing one thing at a time so that I can figure what's wrong but this algae is getting out of control!


    Any help would be greatly appreciated; if anyone needs more detailed picture of something, let me know! Thank you!


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  2. burr740

    burr740 Micros Spiller
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    My first thought is you started out with way too much light. I cant tell if those bulbs have individual reflectors or not, but either way that is a whopping amount for a 55 gallon....especially being that close to the surface. I would go down to two bulbs for a while, with something like a 6-8 hour photoperiod.


    In the meantime remove all the algae you can manually, and also the really bad looking plants or plant parts, replant the freshest tops, etc. Keep the filters and bottom surface super clean, and step the water changes up to twice a week...or even 25% every other day for a while. Algae doesnt like water changes.


    CO2 wise...my opinion is you probably dont have enough. At least not at current light levels. I would crank it up til the fish start gasping then back it down a little. (increase it slowly, a little bit at a time over a few days)


    It doesnt seem like you are lacking anything fert-wise. Could possibly use a little more K, which you mentioned you just began adding. I dont think you need the extra phosphorus. 1/8 tsp of KH2PO4 should be plenty for a 55.


    Is that sand substrate or some kind of dirt? Im no expert on dirted subs but I do know they can be problematic if not done right, or the wrong kind was used.


    That's about all Ive got. Maybe some of the experts here will chime in before long with more input. Good luck!
     
  3. EddieX

    EddieX Junior Poster

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    It is a cheap fixture with a single reflector which is why I thought I could get away with running 4 bulbs. I will cut down to 2 bulbs and work my way up back to three if possible.

    I will try this. I've brought down the pH to 6.5 now and the fish are still doing fine; I will monitor.

    It is Flourite Sand

    I appreciate your advice and would appreciate others input as well.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I'd use the pH/KH chart to see what might be a decent range for CO2 given your KH. Measure the TANK's pH after the water has degassed good, maybe 24-48 hours etc, then that is your start point for the pH drop, not/ever, the tap's pH.
     
  5. Marcel G

    Marcel G Banned

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    Don't want to oppose the gurus, but I don't think there is such a think as low CO2 if its concentration is obviously above 20 ppm. In many areas in nature (like Amazon) there is hardly 10 ppm CO2 under full sunlight (1500-2000 µmol PAR at the water surface), and all plants grow very well in there. You have 80 ppm NO3 (and unknown amount of other nutrients) in your tank, and you are still wondering why do you have algae? That's funny. What do I constantly marvel here is the doggedness with which some people claim over and over that it's a CO2 issue despite the fact that there is much more CO2 than in most natural systems with lush growth and prospering plants. These people constantly say that the aquarium full of nutrients with no algae disprove the "myth" that high amount of nutrients is directly related to algae blooms. But at the same time they seems to be ignoring the cases such as this one, where there is obviously quite high amount of CO2, high amount of nutrients ... and a lot of algae. What do they say if you ask them for the identification of the root cause? Surprisingly, they don't say that this disprove their unscientific theory about "high levels of nutrients don't pose any risk of algae", but instead they say again it's CO2 issue. How simple. So Eddie, it's this simple: increase the CO2 at least to 50-70 ppm (no matter you kill all your critters), then buy a lot of algae-eaters (although I don't know how to keep them alive in this deadly environment), and if all this fails, then set up the tank anew ... and try to use different substrate, different lights and different water.
     
  6. EddieX

    EddieX Junior Poster

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    I had my tank water sitting in a glass (prior to the initial post) for over 36 hours. The pH has settled to 8.6 which seems very high to me. I am bringing down my pH in my tank down to 6.8 already; a 1.8 pH difference. Not sure I want to push my luck on this anymore. According to the pH/kH chart I already have a Co2 concentration between 33-35.

    I appreciate your input, albeit sarcastic. Unfortunately I have no other way of measuring my nutrients other than NO3. I follow the EI Dosing specifications for my tank size in hopes that this wouldn't be an issue. as long as I keep up with the weekly 50% water changes. Perhaps I should be looking at cutting down on CSM+B and NO3 dosing.


    So far, my Green Dust Algae has slowed down tremendously after removing one bulb so I think I'm heading in the right direction.
     
  7. Marcel G

    Marcel G Banned

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    I'm sorry for my sarcasm, but what else to say to people who see all problems as CO2 issue. I think that if you want to have an algae-free tank then you need to have as much inhibiting factors as possible. Algae need nutrients and light to grow. So it's wise to reduce light and reduce nutrients (to a certain "safe" level). And beside this, it's good to have some algae-eaters also, a good circulation, frequent water changes and big amount of plants. Also, if you have a nutrient-rich substrate, then you don't need to add too much fertilizer into the water column, which can also contribute to an algae-free tank (or at least lower the risk of algae, as algae can't access the nutrients in the substrate, unlike plants). So I do not share the belief that if you have problems with algae, in 95% it's a CO2 issue. I believe that if you have algae, then you have enough nutrients and light for them to prosper, and at the same time you don't have enough inhibiting factors in your tank which would help you fight them. The CO2 is rarely an issue according to me (although I know T.Barr will disagree). I myself have a really low CO2 in my tank right now (maybe 10-15 ppm), and quite a strong light (100-400 µmol PAR => 100 µmol at the substrate and 400 µmol at the surface). Nearly all my plants are pearling, and I have no algae problems. If you look carefully you would find some small algae here and there, but that's normal in all tanks. No tank is really algae free. So again, I don't see any correlation between low CO2 levels and algae, but I see a strong correlation between [high level of nutrients in combination with strong light] and [algae].
     
    #7 Marcel G, Feb 28, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2015
  8. Donald Cutler

    Donald Cutler Junior Poster

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    Question for the professionals: Would dosing with Excel help? I have read posts where dosing with Excel can eliminate or at least diminish the presence of algae.
     
  9. Dennis Singh

    Dennis Singh SynKing!

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    It'll help...I for one see it as a sterilizer more than anything else, if the claim that it breaks down into organic carbon, shouldn't other things like fish food and waste break down into organic carbon as well..?


    But to answer yes it'll help defeat algae.
     
  10. rjordan393

    rjordan393 Guru Class Expert

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    I have a 75 gallon tank with a real volume of about 63.7 gallons and I use the 20 to 40 gallon IE dosing recommendations because that article is not written in stone. I only have 6 plants and I do not think I need the fertilizers that's recommended for a 60 to 80 gallon tank. Its not just the amount of plants that only plays a role but I suspect each species has a different fertilizer uptake plus exposure times to light. So I am leaning towards Kwisatz explanation. You need to find some middle ground for exposure time, lighting intensity and nutrients. I would try stepping down to the 20 to 40 gallon IE dosing recommendations and see if there is an improvement over a two week period.
     
  11. onlycrimson

    onlycrimson Junior Poster

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    This is kind of a side note, but if you want to knock out the algae you can use excel or do a H2O2 treatment. I had good luck with it, but I also have no shrimp or fish yet. Of course that just helps the problem right now, then you have to fix the underlying issues.
     
  12. EddieX

    EddieX Junior Poster

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    Quick Update:


    Ever since I removed one bulb the GDA and Green Spot Algae has reduced significantly. I've also removed most of the staghorn algae and started dosing Excel daily. So far no new algae has appeared but I will have to monitor for a few weeks. My CO2 concentrations have remained the same and I've adjusted my KNO3 dosing to reflect my nitrate levels in the tank. My prognosis was too much high light at the moment for my tank.
     
  13. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    I have 30 years of experience in losing battles with algae. Just prefacing. Less light and more water changes are probably the only things that all algae warriors agree on. Massive and frequent water changes are what I'd suggest. When in trouble, I do 70% twice a week. People will argue about CO2 levels and ferts all day long. I belong to the more-CO2-is-better camp, but perfect CO2 won't cure algae problems if you over-zap plants with lights (like you used to) and don't have ferts nailed. You'll have to figure out where and how much ferts you need - substrate or water column or both. Each tank is different, so advice is relative. I've proven to myself that high phosphate levels do not cause algae in my tanks. I can bring on green spots like magic if I 1) reduce P by half 2) slack on CO2 and 3) travel away from home for more than 10 days. I can't speak as confidently about other macros and traces.


    But I feel your pain.
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    So here's a question, do you think it is good general advice to suggest low CO2(say 9-15ppm), 100-400umol of light to new folks and to folks with existing problems?


    Can you scape, uproot and move plants around with rich sediments at those ranges? Try and see. Detail and do a photo journal.


    I have aquariums with somewhat high light(50-60umol up to 200umol) and no CO2/Excel, should we all say that CO2 addition is not required at all then???


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    Your tank is basically in the med CO2 range and the high light range. Going from say medium light to high light(89 umol to about 250umol), you gain VERY little in terms of growth. Not even 1%. But you gain 4.5% if you do the same lighting at the higher CO2. So you get a lot more out of the CO2 management than larding on more and more light.


    Plants __STILL grow__ under both conditions, but plants grow better and have fewer issues, less potential for algae, when we use higher CO2 and moderate to lower light.


    Note, plants still grow with no added CO2 and low light also(slow, but they still do grow).


    So for all parameters given above, which pretty much shows all the different types of light/CO2 routines hobbyist have planted tanks...........plants still grow.


    So the real question becomes, which routine is best suited for a given goal?


    Rich CO2 and moderate light is what the author conclude.


    I agree with them.


    How about algae control as the main factor? Well, I have awesome algae control in non CO2 tanks, so.........I could argue with that conclusion and claim it's easier for algae control and management to go that routine and not use CO2 at all.


    I can do that.


    But..............is it good advice and is that this guy's goal? Probably not.


    I've long stated that ferts are pretty easy to rule out. Co2? Not so much. the photo is pretty tellign also. A good test kit and with a lot of experience, you can look and tell within a few seconds what is going on. Many folks here and on the web over a 2 decades have figured out that once they balance the light/CO2, then the nutrients can be all over the place without issue.


    It's not just luck or a few folks, it is many.


    Now that said, how many folks have problems with ADA tanks or various other methods? Yes, you can find a good deal of new hobbyists having troubles with any dosing method and with any ppm ranges. No method is 100% effective for a newbie. So because a few folks can get away with it, does not imply it is something I would suggest, I focus more on a robust method.


    The question is, what is the best management for their goal?


    Not yours, nor mine.
     
  15. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Water changes and little bit of patience. do them 2-3x a week, 50-70%.


    Excel and peroxide will kill the Staghorn algae.


    The ratty older leaves but new growth, I'd likely uproot the ratty lower parts, trim them off, and replant the new tips.


    I'd do maybe 1/4 of the tank at a time, follower by a large water change and then dose after.


    KH is a tad high for some of these species to really thrive, but they can do okay. The sediment looks like Onyx sand, which is okay for softer tap water, not harder really.


    I've used it for some years.


    Rotala green is VERY weedy, even in my abused client's tanks, it grows like mad. But the waters are softer. Even with the CaCO3 stones, the plant still grew well at 4-5 KH.


    Recalibrate the pH meter and measure the pH several times as the CO2 goes on in the AM. Watch what the pH does. Then see how logn it takes to get up to an optimal level, say 30-45 ppm.


    Does it stay there or does the pH keep going up?


    Dose only after the water changes for the next 2 weeks or so.


    Do 2-3x a week water change, this will fix most things and algae will not like it.


    I think someone mentioned Mg++ also, the tap's GH is high, but add some epsom salt perhaps. Maybe 1/2 tsp after water changes.


    Dose Excel at about 30mls daily.


    Add H2O2 at #5 in a turkey baster to infested algae sections. Does this during the water change, use about 10mls total and then refill the tank after 1-2 minutes.


    Clean filter after a 2 weeks.


    Use DTPA in place of Fe glucontate (Flourish). Add about 3; parts CMS to 1 part DTPA, then dose that.


    From the looks of things, CO2 was an issue at some point, but you likely trimmed too much and did not follow up with a good sized water change post trim??


    After any disturbance, trim etc, always do a large water change afterwards.


    Once the tank is filled in well, then it will be more robust.You can do more to it without issues.


    Plants will control and define the system then, not nutrients so much.
     
  16. EddieX

    EddieX Junior Poster

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    That is what I will do for the new few weeks until the algae has been eradicated.

    I've rescaped a portion of the tank and removed most of the Rotala green as there were just rotting at the bottom. I am slowly re-scaping certain portions of the tank to remove the older leaves and planting the tops as per you suggestion. The sand is Flourish Black Sand in cased you missed that in my earlier post.

    If my tank water settled at a pH of 8.4 after 48 hours, what pH should I aim for? 6.8 to achieve 33.3ppm?

    So cut the dosing down to only one day of the week and resume standard EI after 2 weeks (or after improvement)?


    What is the ultimate benefit of adding epsom salts if I were to add it to my weekly water change routine?


    I will also follow this Excel treatment.

    Forgive my lack of knowledge, but what is the benefit of dosing DTPA Fe rather than Flourish Iron?

    You are correct, I have trimmed heavily before whilst disrupting the substrate and not followed it with a water change. I've now rectified this.


    Here are some updated pictures of the algae that is left. You can see I've replaced most of the Rotala Green in the mid section with Rotala Rotundifolia. I will slowly start removing the rest of the ratty leaves in sections in the days to follow.


    Thank you everyone for the advice!


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  17. Marcel G

    Marcel G Banned

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    In part, yes. Definitely, it's good idea to use lower CO2 levels in any tank as 10-15 ppm CO2 should be enough for even the most demanding aquatic plants to grow well. I don't see any substantial advantage in using more that say 20 ppm. According to one scientific paper more then 40 ppm CO2 can be greatly inhibiting for some plants (see http://www.prirodni-akvarium.cz/en/i...rostlinyNaroky). But if you want to add 50-70 ppm then go ahead.


    Concerning the high light (100-400 µmol PAR) I would suggest to use rather 70-100 µmol PAR for the demanding aquatic plants as 50 µmol PAR seems to me quite unsufficient for them to grow well. But if you use undemanding low-light plants then 30-50 µmol PAR can be fine.


    PS: Even most mosses have a light saturation point somewhere around 500-1000 µmol PAR.

    Yes. Or do you think that I never scape, uproot or move plants in my tanks?

    Are you sure you can see any difference between 1% and 4.5% in your tank? I doubt it.

    I have to say I don't understand this point really. Here you say that it depends on the given goal, but at the same time in 95% of your posts you suggest high CO2 levels, and you claim that in 95% the issue is wrong CO2 management. When I show you an example of a planted tank with low CO2 levels, high light, and low nutrient levels, you seem to ignore it. Why I have no algae issues with such a low CO2 level? According to your belief I MUST have algae with these low levels.

    Yes, the authors conclude that 25-50 ppm CO2 should cause most aquatic plants to thrive. But they say nothing about it being needed for inhibiting algae. Nature itself and many practical experiences of aquarists say that most plants will grow very well even under 10-15 ppm CO2. Yes, at 40 ppm you may have 100% growth rates, but at 15 ppm I may have 90% growth rate. Would you notice any difference between 100% and 90%? Hardly. And as a bonus I gain much safer environment for my critters.
     
    #17 Marcel G, Mar 3, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2015
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