(Sorry, couldn't help tossing the pirate reference in there!)
Blackbeard, black bush, black brush, red algae. . . Rhytophyta? Whatever it's called it's this stuff:
And I don’t like it one bit! (Sorry for the bad image quality - I think you get the idea, though?) There isn't very much of it - yet. The image above shows pretty much all of it. But it needs to be gone before it gets worse!
I’ve done some reading, but am running into a lot of opposing information (as usual) on why this particular type of algae occurs - and how to get rid of it - so I thought I’d beg you all for some advice.
At the moment, this particular type of growth is restricted to my African Fern (Bolbitis heudelotii). Being a slow-grower, I understand that this is a common problem this plant - especially in tanks like mine with low nitrates and soft water. So I really want to get this under control before it gets out of hand. I’m also seeing a small amount of this - probably related algae on the tallest of the Vals:
In the past I had a different type of hair algae appear, and cutting the lighting back to a strict 10 hours daily solved the problem - so I suspect this to be a lighting issue. Two weeks ago I added some new fish to my tank. Being wholly enthralled with the new arrivals, I have been lax and have allowed the lights to be on a few extra hours a day. . . as of today, we’re back to 10 hours max. . . Also, my water-sprite has failed, so for the first time, I really don't have any floating plants to 'shade' the fern - this is going to be fixed asap!
But I’ve also read that this growth can have to do with an imbalance of CO2 (which I do not add to my tank), or a nutrient (usually iron?) imbalance, so I want to be sure I’m covering all the bases here. I dose my tank 1x weekly with Flourish Comprehensive, but recently added a root tab to that area of the tank for my Crypt that’s living there. I’m not sure how much of an effect the added nutrient to the sand bed has on the water column, or if this could have something to do with the algae growth in that area?
Now. . . if lighting isn't the only issue, what do I do? I've read everything from stopping ferts to overdosing ferts to bleaching the plant as a way to deal with this. . . but I'm not inclined to do any of the above, as my other plants have been doing so well until this point - I don't want to 'fix' something that might not be broken. However, all sources say that this algae is tenacious, and tough to get rid of. . . *some* people may like the look of it, and maybe on some driftwood I can understand that - but not here!
All of the leaves that are affected by the algae are old leaves, original to the plant when I brought it home, so they’re not in the best of shape - but still green and living (I think). The tips aren’t as happy as they used to be, but the plant is bouncing back, and I have a tiny bit of new growth at the base - one fully developed small leaf, and a few new sprouts. The rhizome seems unaffected. Should I just remove all of the older leaves and keep the fresh, or would that be too traumatic to the plant? I never pruned this one when adding it to the tank, as it’s a slow-grower - perhaps I should have? It is attaching to a stone just beneath the filter, where the water movement is highest.
If it helps, I have a single 24" 20W Life-Glo 2 bulb (it's a 29 gallon tall tank), and my ammonia, nitrites, and phosphates are all consistently at 0. Nitrate sits at 2.5ppm, PH 7.6, Kh 2, Gh 6 . . . images of the full tank are in my album.
Thanks in advance for any tips you have to offer me! I appreciate your input, as always!