12-02-2009, 01:53 PM
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"Hard water" can mean something different to different aquarists; we can better answer that question when we know just how hard it is (the GH, KH and pH if you can provide these numbers). This impacts the type of fish that will be healthy in your water, as well as possibly impacting plants (if the water is really very hard).
On the filter, the media should be regular rinsed to keep it clean and allow the water reasonable passage through it; too much debris impedes the water flow which not only adds to the wear and tear on the filter motor but means the filter is not doing the best job of clearing and cleaning the water. Also, depending upon the filter construction, water is sometimes able to find alternate routes (the path of least resistance) and that also defeats the purpose of a filter. The media (pads and whatever) only needs actual replacement when they are no longer functioning due to literally falling apart. Regular rinsing is adequate until that happens.
To your original question on brown algae; this is actually diatoms, and is common in new tanks (during the first couple of months usually) and in established tanks with low light. While a Powerglo is fairly strong (intense) light, one T8 or T12 (regular fluorescent) tube on a 75g is not. As you have live plants, I would consider a dual-tube fixture (T8) or a single tube T5 HO fixture (these produce 1.5 times the intensity of T8 tubes so one would be enough). Then a Life-Glo full spectrum 6700K tube if T5 HO, or a combination Life-Glo and cool white (the Power Glo could serve as this second tube) if T8/T12. These will provide good light for the plants, and create a natural appearance with fish and plant colours.
And yes, absolutely never use chemicals to rid algae. Many of these are high in either copper or simazine, and both of these are highly toxic to fish as well as plants in high concentrations. As plants require a very small amount of copper, it may already be present in fertilizers and additional copper should not be introduced. It is recommended that algae be controlled naturally, by encouraging healthy plant growth, not introducing excessive nutrients (more fertilizer than required, overfeeding, overloading fish) and regular partial water changes. Improved lighting would probably solve the diatoms problem.
Last edited by Byron; 12-02-2009 at 02:05 PM..