Staghorn algae


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Lifetime Member
Nov 21, 2007
Los Angeles, CA

-- 50G high tank w/ canister CO2 (3 bps) -- drop checker consistently green (30ppm)
-- Critter load: 36 cardinal tetras, 8 cherry shrimp, 7 japonicas, 3 SAEs, 2 Otos, 2 dozen nerite snails
-- plants: Crypt wendtii (copper), rotala wallichii, rotala indica, glosso, dwarf hairgrass, HC (trying to get it to grow, not doing well), ozelot swords (2), ludwigia broad leaf (2), lloydellia (2)
-- doing EI dosing for a 40G tank
-- lighting: total of 4 wpg (2 x 96w PC) -- lights on 11 hours per day ... each lamp on for 7 hours with 3 hours overlap (both on at same time) around lunch time (so I am only at 2 wpg most of the day, though it is very concentrated, obviously)
-- ammonia and nitrites are always at 0ppm
-- although cheap nitrate testing kits are unreliable...I show 50ppm just before my weekly water changes

I am getting staghorn algae. It is growing on rocks and driftwood and some equipment (heater esp.) -- as far as plants go, it is only on crypts (mostly old leaves), wallichii, indica and old leaves on ozelot sword.

I have been manually removing the staghorn as much as possible and have pruned old ozelot sword leaves off. I'm getting ready to prune off the older leaves of the wendtii. Can't do much with wallichii, except to pull it off.

Probably my lighting is too intense (but I'm stuck with that for a while), but, other than that, I am at a loss of how to deal with this algae. Unfortunately, my SAEs have shown no interest whatsoever in it -- I don't blame them, it is a fairly tough algae. I read Dusko's article/blog on algae and feel the most common causes of staghorn are not a problem in my tank.

By the way, I may have given this algae a path into my tank by doing a lot of water changes a couple of weeks ago (because of new fish problems) and probably not adjusting EI very well during this time.

Both plants and fish are doing very well in my tank right now.