Need advice on algae/how to keep my plants alive. - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 01-29-2008, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
Need advice on algae/how to keep my plants alive.

I've had my 28 gallon freshwater set up since around September. It was my first aquarium, aside from a little 5 gallon desktop deal. I decided to go with live plants, assuming you just bought some plants and stuck em in the gravel... Wow, I was wrong. I've learned a lot in the last couple months, but now I'm getting really frustrated. Algae is starting to grow on everything - walls, substrate, driftwood, even the leaves of the plants. I got a new lighting fixture for Christmas, a Hagen GLO t5 HO (double bulb) strip, and since then the algae has been an issue. As it grows on the leaves of my plants, it slowly kills them... Or, I'm assuming that's whats killing them. I don't really know.

I only have a couple plants in there right now, everything else has died off. The only things left right now are a couple sick looking swords and some hairgrass which isn't looking too great either. The lighting is sufficient, I'm adding a liquid fert, and they're planted in laterite. I will be adding DIY CO2 soon... The light is usually on for about 10 hours a day, but lately it's been on less, because of the algae.

What can I do to stop the algae from taking over? I'm able to keep it at a minimum with frequent water changes and the help of a pleco, but I need it to dissapear.

Is it most likely the algae that's killing my plants, or something else? I can't think of what else it could be that's making this so difficult, but this is my first planted aquarium...

Any advice is very appreciated! This is so frustrating; I was about to just pull all the plants out earlier today...
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post #2 of 12 Old 01-29-2008, 07:02 PM
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hello james, this is iam_koi. i would strongly suggest CO2 on your tank to minimize algae formation.DIY CO2 are easy. Also you might need to lessen the light to 7-8 hours. I would also suggest to have water change about 10% every other day, make sure that the water is chlorine free. thanks! hope this helps. :)
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post #3 of 12 Old 01-29-2008, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
Thanks iam_koi! I'll try to lessen the light a bit. I'm planning on setting up the DIY CO2 as soon as I pick up all the parts. I have a plan picked out already.

I do really big water changes about weekly, cleaning the substrate and wiping down the walls. Do you think 10% every other day would be better than this??
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post #4 of 12 Old 01-30-2008, 09:08 AM
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No problem james, DIY CO2 are easy to setup, with just sugar and active yeast and water. I would not advised to completely strip down the aquarium, or cleaning the substrate since it would also destroy the good bacterias that live in it. If you decrease your light to 7 hours or perhaps 6 hours and then to save time, do weekly WC like 50% but don't scrub walls and clean substrate. Just WC. Hope this helps. And please do post updates on how it did. :)
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post #5 of 12 Old 01-30-2008, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
I don't actually clean the gravel. Sorry, I should have said I vac the gravel. It's just a basic wc really...

Why shouldn't I wipe down the walls?? Does that destroy my bacteria also?
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post #6 of 12 Old 01-30-2008, 11:40 AM
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If the tank is well established then the walls are ok to wipe down. I onl;y wipe down the front myself.

As for the plants, the new lights could be causing theplants to use up massive amounts of nutritents and has caused a deficiency that has lead to the algae also. I have to guess on your lighting but it sounds like it is pretty high now. Please post what it is if you know so we know for sure.

What do you dose if anything and what types of plants do you have?
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post #7 of 12 Old 01-30-2008, 11:25 PM
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How long do you leave your light on for? 10 hours is the norm, back it down to 8 hours a day.
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post #8 of 12 Old 01-31-2008, 10:46 AM
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We're jumping to conclusions here without asking about water parameters, lighting hardware, fertilizer, cleaning schedule, lighting schedule, what plants he is growing, what plants have died.

DIY C02 is probably the most expensive potential solution to James's problem. Why suggest it right out of the gate without asking about the environment that he's having problems in. If his fish are looking sickly too (as he said) maybe there are water quality problems?

Algae could be a result of overfeeding. That could also cause problems for his fish. We really need to start at the beginning to get to the right solution.
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post #9 of 12 Old 01-31-2008, 11:30 AM
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I am not sure which fish he has that are sickly. The swords are plants in this case unless I am mistaken.

Nutrients sponges could help with the problem also. i.e. anacharis/elodea, wisteria, water sprite are all heavy feeders and will strip the water of all nutrients, eespecially nitrates and phosphates.

One thing to remember is that plants require water changes as much as fish do. If I skip a water change, just one time in a month, I notice an obvious effect on my more delicate/harder to keep plants.

Good point on the overfeeding though. Phospahates can be very high if you are overfeeding and some algae feed almost exclusively off them.
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post #10 of 12 Old 01-31-2008, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
Ok, I'll try to answer all that...

The lighting fixture is a GLO T5 HO, double bulb. It's 2x24 watts... but since it's HO i guess it's a little more complicated than that, lol. I'm using lifeGLO (6700K) & powerGLO(18000K) bulbs (I know the powerGLO is overkill). I've only had it since xmas. For awhile I was leaving it on for 12 hrs a day, but I've cut it WAY back.

The swords are the plant kind, not the fish kind. XD In the tank right now I have: 2 amazon swords, a little hairgrass, and some reddish colored plant... The tank is pretty sparce. I've had one of the swords since 9/20/07, the other plants were added 1/4/08. I've had more plants than I do now, but they've died. I'm not sure what they all were...

I've added Kent liquid fert a couple times. I've only added the minimum recommended amount.

For the substrate I have 2.5 -3 in. of gravel, with a good amount of laterite in the bottom layer.

I was already planning on doing DIY CO2, so I've been expecting to have to pay a little... hopefully not too much.

Ammonia is always at zero. pH is the thing that's not quite right...
Its very high... above 8 usually. I have some driftwood in the tank, which lowers it a little. I'm against using chemicals to lower it, and I don't know what else i could use.

I don't think I overfeed... In the tank right now is a small angel, 2 platys, 2 corys, a female betta, and 2 ADFs. They're all doing great. The corys in there right now are doing okay, but I'm really having a difficult time getting a group established in there... I've bought 6 over the last couple months, and I'm left with 2.
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