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Problem with Thread Algae

Discussion in 'Aquatic Microbiology' started by Steven, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Hello all,

    My tank is about 2 months old and for about the last 2 weeks I have thread algae slightly grown on almost all my plants but especially the most on HC at the front glass of my tank. After searched a while, it's been said that excess of iron is the cause, so I tested the water and the result was 0.5ppm and at the same time I conducted 50% WC, using brush to manually remove the algae and stop dose Seachem Iron and Flourish for 1 week, only Seachem Trace as there is no Iron substance in it. A week later after 50% WC, I tested the water again for Iron, the result was 0.25ppm and at the same time I also noticed that the algae grow back from the last spot when I manually removed them before. The sad part is my Oto's showing no desire at it :(

    Water parameter :
    kH = 1-2
    gH = 1-2
    pH = 6.1-7.3 (day and night, variable by CO2 with solenoid)
    NO3 = 10
    PO4 = 0.25 (I will raise the level to 1 later)
    Fe = 0.25
    Temp = 27-28C
    Tank size = 80x30x40cm = 96l or 25g
    Lighting = T5NO 3x21 watts on from 12-16 break 1 hour and from 17-22.

    The question is :
    1. Why the iron in my tank is being used real slow provided 90% of my plants are stem plants?
    2. Is it true that thread algae is an iron excess cause?

    I also have other questions if I may ask...
    3. Why the color from my drop checker show green color on day 1-2 but will change to yellow from day 3 and on? I always clean the DC at Sunday and refill with new kH4 water (made from "Drop Checkers/CO2 Indicators-Why and How" posted by VaughnH) mix with its DC original reagent.
    4. I have planted several kind of stem plants, some of them are Rotala sp. green and rotundifolia. Why the lower part of the rotundifolia's stem become black and rot (only 1 part between segment) while the lower part leaves of R. green are shattered and loose itself? Is it the lower part become lack of lighting as the plants grow bushier? But I noticed from others aquascape contest participants tank that also grow this kind of plants this way, I mean much more bushier.

    Anyway, this is my tank picture of the latest condition
    [​IMG]

    Any answer, help, suggestion, consideration and advice are very welcome and will be deeply thanked. Cheers :)
     
  2. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Your tank looks a lot better than when it first started up; things are still filling in, but it's definitely taking shape.

    I'm not sure why you think hair algae can be fixed by reducing iron levels. I target about .6ppm Fe and do not have hair algae problems besides a little on the glass when I neglect the tank; many others dose high as well without this problem. If anything I'd look to the fact that your GH is roughly the same as your KH; there should be a distinct gap between the two if you're dosing NPK. What is your dosing routine like? Also, tank capacity and your method for determining enough CO2 would be helpful.

    I find phosphate and iron test kits to be frequently questionable as well; be sure to calibrate them.

    -Philosophos
     
  3. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    High Light Low Nutrients

    Hi Steven,

    The thing that jumps out at me is the low NO3 level (Nutrient Type Alert), I associate various algae and structural problems in plants to low NO3 and/or low CO2.

    That is high light you have going into overdrive.;)

    With your light assuming weekly water changes I would go for a minimum of 20 ppm NO3 and shootting for over 1 ppm iron, with appropriate micronutrient mix. Personally I dose more like 25-30 ppm NO3 and closer to 2 ppm iron.

    The iron is too low, don’t know why anyone would say iron causes thread algae, but people say a lot of things. :confused:

    CO2 variance likely stemming from weak CO2 input, diffusion and/circulation.

    It is nice tank if you can I would dial the light back by at least a third. At least until you get thing stabilized.:cool:

    Biollante
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Hair algae is a bit like a plant.
    It tends to be introduced and like say Riccia, hard to get rid of.

    Depending on the species, I've had little issue by doing a couple of things.
    Up the CO2.
    The CO2 was reduced or demand for CO2 went up as biomass fills in more, disc got clogged, filter flow through the reactor was reduced etc etc etc.

    Many different things can and will influence CO2.

    Light: typically less light will "cure" most algae issues by reducing demand for CO2 by plants as well nutrient demands.

    Algae are not limited by either nutrients or CO2, so adding less does not work directly. CO2 compensation points for FW algae are 0.01 to 1ppm or so.
    For N: 200 ppb to 10-20ppb, P, 3-10ppb or so, using ratios, we can estimate Fe to be about 100-500X that of N, so ..............there's no way in Hades you can limit algae with Fe in a FW planted tank, as any leaching or decomposition of plant matter would leach plenty as well as fish waste etc.

    At several parts per Trillion for Fe, it just ain't happening.

    I add gobs of Fe to my tanks without ever any issues related to algae or any sort.

    Algae comes in when there is poor plant growth, decaying plants, in some cases from new plants, fish, etc. Cladophora seems to be one such algae that is like that. Spirogyra perhaps.

    I recently had Spirogyra outbreak in my 120 Gallon tank after I moved.
    Most of the plants rotted since it was hot(40C) and it took me about 2 weeks to get to adding them and setting things up.

    I thought I'd be smart and crank the light up to 3.6 w/gal with my T5's to save what was left and then did not do my water changes and still needed to tweak the CO2. I knew why I got the algae.

    To get rid of it, after the plants started to do well(so was the algae however), I chose a series of blackouts and then followed by less light(1.8 w/gAL, THEN raised the lights up another 8-10 inches). I also tweaked my CO2 correctly.

    After a series of 3-4 three days BO's and 3-4 two-three days of lights on, the algae was gone, then I left the light on low for a couple of weeks.

    Now the algae was 100% gone, I've added the higher light back without issue.
    Still, I do the higher light to grow in the plants, then back off once they fill in the way I want.

    If you want to wait longer, then that's fine also.
    Still, less light cures most management issues and even with low or high light, adding ferts to insanely high levels does not induce any algae.

    That is the reference you should consider, not a tank that already has algae.
    That type of aquarium is certainly not independent of other factors.

    So you cannot make any conclusions about it and Fe or any isolated one parameter. You must have a reference control in order to do that.

    That bit of logic does not stop the rumors and myth production we see on line however, many try and claim they are doing "test" without any reference.

    In simple, terms, if higher Fe induces algae, where is my algae then?
    [​IMG]

    Funny, these same folks that claim this cannot give any logical reason why it does not occur here above.

    If you add less of anything when algae appears, try light first, then see about adding more CO2, then do a large water change(frequently or more frequently) and add ferts back.

    You gain nothing by limiting ferts directly. Algae are not limited in either case.
    If you strongly limit ferts to the point where the nutrients become more limiting than CO2, then the plants will do okay and algae might go away.

    This is a CO2 issue however with plants, not algae limitation.
    CO2 is the root issue and with respect to plant growth(poor), not nutrients.
    The cause is indirect. So many think there must be something to limiting nutrients and make the poor assumption that we can limit algae via nutrients.

    The effect is on the plants and their growth, not algae really.
    Algae stop growing well when the plants do well.

    Put another way; when the plants needs are met and grow well, algae does not.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi Steven, Tom,

    I confess I like the higher nutrients, along with the CO2. :)

    I do believe whatever the cause weak plants, weak system is the root of most problem algea situations.

    Biollante
     
  6. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Thank you for replying, just reference from this link
    Aquaticscape.com
    Hair (thread) Algae

    Sorry for my noobness but I don't quite understand what did you mean. Could you be more specific? Thanks

    My tank size is 80x30x40cm = 96litres or 25gallons. My dosing routine is I dose Seachem N 12.2ml, P 15ml and K 10ml at day 1, 3 and 5. I dose Seachem Flourish 2.6ml at day 2, Seachem Trace 6ml and Iron 2.6ml at day 4 and day 6 back to Flourish, I do WC 50% at Sunday and dose nothing. My method for determining enough CO2 is by using drop checker with 4dkH water and its reagent and also by measuring my pH in tank (6.0-6.2) after let it quiet for 48hours in a glass, the pH is 7.3-7.4 and target the CO2 until 6.0-6.1 by the kH and pH relationship chart.

    Thank you once again :)
     
  7. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Thank you for replying, just reference from this link
    Aquaticscape.com
    Hair (thread) Algae

    Sorry for my noobness but I don't quite understand what did you mean. Could you be more specific? Thanks

    My tank size is 80x30x40cm = 96litres or 25gallons. My dosing routine is I dose Seachem N 12.2ml, P 15ml and K 10ml at day 1, 3 and 5. I dose Seachem Flourish 2.6ml at day 2, Seachem Trace 6ml and Iron 2.6ml at day 4 and day 6 back to Flourish, I do WC 50% at Sunday and dose nothing. My method for determining enough CO2 is by using drop checker with 4dkH water and its reagent and also by measuring my pH in tank (6.0-6.2) after let it quiet for 48hours in a glass, the pH is 7.3-7.4 and target the CO2 until 6.0-6.1 by the kH and pH relationship chart.

    Thank you once again :)
     
  8. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    But it's only 2.5 wpg? I considered it medium lighting, am I wrong? Although I realize that wpg rule only a basic guide, how do you judge my lighting considered high? By the height of my tank (40cm)? FYI, the distance between my lighting fixtures and water surface is about 8cm.

    30ppm of NO3 :eek: ? Doesn't it become toxic to fishes? And I'm too afraid if it combines with high level of K/PO4 will lead to alga bloom, no?

    But it will only provided me to 2x21watts = 42watts total and meaning that is only 1.6wpg. Will my L. aromatica and R. rotundifolia become red then?

    Thank you very much Bio :)
     
  9. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Tom, will you tell me how to tweak the CO2 correctly? Thanks.

    So Tom, should I lower the light say become 2x21watts and increase the CO2 level at the same time? But by how much? These days I become doubtful when using Drop Checker, are they accurate or say will give us a rough idea? Thank you very much Tom :D
     
  10. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Yes, I'd reduce the light a bit, and then very slowly adjust the CO2 up.
    If you have access to Easy Carbo or Excel, consider using that as well.

    The plants/Tank size you have should do well with 2 x 21 W of T5 lighting.

    Cardinals are fairly tough as far as CO2.

    Still, watch the HC and other plants, algae closely.
    Slightly adjust the needle valve up and then watch the aquarium(do not leave and go to work only to come home to gasping/dead fish).

    the goal is to adjust it till the tank starts looking better, without stress to fish, so this is done slowly and progressively. You might have to pout up with and tolerate some algae as you do this, but the CO2 should cure most issues, and using less light will mean you have more wiggle room with CO2(eg, plant demand for CO2 and nutrients will be less and you will have higher light use efficiency).

    Plants can use less resources getting carbon, more on gathering light in otherwords.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Tom but my lighting is T5NO (Normal Output) not T5HO (High Output) and I believe that its PAR meter is very different between the two but if according to you is still more than enough I'll heed your advice as I really believe in you :)

    Ok and then I'll increase my CO2 a bit by bit even now my Drop Checker has already show Yellow color (please refer to my previous post of Drop Checker problem) and I will maintain my dosing regime.

    At last I thank you, Tom and wish me luck :)
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    3 x 21W on smaller tank like this, NO or not, is still a fair amount.

    Use 2x 21W, I've been able to grow anything at that light level.
    This means that CO2/nutrients, maintenance/human factors are left.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi Steven,

    Since questions 1 and 2 were answered so well, I will concentrate on #4:

    This could be several things:

    1. C02. You are already working on this, so I expect as the c02 improves, this will lessen.
    2. Insufficient nutrients. See #1.
    3. Crowding. Plants too close together may cause this. Try separating them a little further apart when re-planting.
    4. Time. Remember that your plants will be bushier after they are trimmed. Several top cuttings can produce a very dense thicket. Wait until after several trimmings to decide.

    EXCESS NUTRIENTS WILL NOT CAUSE ALGAE IN THE PLANTED AQUARIUM.

    Now write that on the blackboard 500 times :D

    Please do not concern yourself with harming your fish or plants or causing algae by dosing macro or micro nutrients. Even with sensitive species, you would have to really really overdose to cause issues. Since EI calls for a min 50% weekly water change this will reduce the amount. You can always do more WC if you are concerned.

    I came up with a theory around #3, but tossed it after writing it up. I think I will let someone KNOWLEDGEABLE answer that one lol

    2.5 wpg on a 29 gal tank is a LOT OF LIGHT. I third the motion to reduce to just 2 bulbs. You can always add more light if you want, but think you have more than enough.

    Hope this helps.
     
  15. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    Yes, it is a lot. But a 29 gallon is 16 inches deep and it's hard (or impossible) to find a lighting system that supplies enough light energy to support low-growing plants without providing too much light for the rest of the tank.

    This applies only to non-CO2 tanks, of course.

    Bill
     
  16. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    First of all thank you very much to all of you great people :).
    Gerryd, so may I ask how you determine your CO2 is enough in your tank? Thanks.

    But Bill, sorry for I don't quite understand your statement, so what you meant were the low growing plants will not have this issue of lack lighting where there is a CO2 present inside the tank? Thank you.
     
  17. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Ok folks, so this is a picture of my thread algae on top of my HC.
    [​IMG]

    I've noticed a while of this one under my substrate but today, it appears it comes above my substrate from several spot, what kind of algae on this one? Is it a blue green algae? Please ID for me...
    [​IMG]

    Thank you very much all around.
     
  18. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    It it's single strand , and will become ‘curling’ in strong current (but only when it's in
    good health though). Then it's probably spirogyra.

    The latter picture looks like BGA (Blue Green Algae) to me.
     
  19. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    ‘My’ spirogyra curled like this in strong current. :)

    [​IMG]
     
  20. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    Steven, yes, thats right, because stronger lighting can be used in tanks with CO2 (as well as more ferts, etc.)

    The light that reaches the bottom of my 29 gallon tank, lit by 3 20 watt broad spectrum "Sunshine" T12's, is about 500 lux, or roughly 50 PAR. 1200 to 1500 lux is often cited as the minimums under which most aquatic plants will grow well.

    Bill

    Bill
     
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