Help hair algae everywhere, what do I do? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 5 Old 01-08-2012, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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Angry Help hair algae everywhere, what do I do?

I have a 125 litre brackish water tank that is getting more and more covered in hair algae every day. Here are my tank stats:
125 l brackish fully cycled and established for 18+ months
Tropical lighting on for 12 hours per day
Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 50+ (I cannot get this down as we are very rural and this is what it comes out the tap as)
2 x HOB's - Ehiem and Stingray
crushed coral/sand substrate
Java Fern and Crypts plus fake plants.

It started off on just one fake plant so I took it out and pulled all the green stringy algae off but within a week it's all over my plants, ornaments and substrate.

Why have I got this, where did it come from and how do I get rid of it? Do I have to tear my tank down and start again?
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post #2 of 5 Old 01-08-2012, 10:17 AM
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Too many nutrients, too much light. Reduce you light to 8 hours and see if that helps. Get some fast growing plants to help suck up the nutrients so that there isn't anything in the water to feed and support the algae growth.
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post #3 of 5 Old 01-08-2012, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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Are the nutrients coming from the food I'm feeding the fish?

I've just done a 75% water change, stirred up the sand and sucked up every bit of mank I could see, I also pulled all the hair algae off everything. I've got 2 filters running so I've just changed the smaller stingray for a Fluval 4 with Purigen in the middle to help remove more Nitrates. Do you think any of this will help the situation.

Will reduce my lighting down as you recommend but do you think it'll harm the fish if I switched the lights off completely for 72 hours and would this help get rid of the algae?
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post #4 of 5 Old 01-08-2012, 04:58 PM
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Well, you r nitrates are 50 right out of the tap. That's high nutrients right out of the gate. That's why I suggested fast growing plants to help reduce those nitrates. Over feeding can also contribute so be careful to not over feed.

A black out will not hurt the fish at all.
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post #5 of 5 Old 01-09-2012, 07:30 PM
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I agree the nitrates are a concern, but the fact is that green/red algae (brush algae is actually red, though it looks more black or very dark green to most of us) is caused by light. It will always find nutrients if light is available.

The aim with a planted tank is to have the light balanced with the available nutrients so the plants out-compete the algae. And the faster-growing plants are better at this because they are using more light and nutrients in order to grow faster.

I would reduce the light period; at the moment it is greater than the plants can use. Every tank is different, so you have to experiment a bit. But reducing by an hour or two hours a day for a week, then another hour if the algae is still increasing, is the way to do it. Don't expect the present algae to disappear, it won't unless you physically remove it. When it no longer is increasing will be the point at which your light duration is basically balanced for the plants.

A "black-out" as we term it can be effective at stopping the algae quickly. But if the balance is not addressed, when the light returns, so will the algae issue.

As to where it came from, there are many sources. Wood, plants, fish from the store. Spores from the air. Algae is everywhere, it was after all one of the earliest life forms that gave rise to all living things, and without algae and plankton we would be in serious trouble.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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