Originally Posted by ichthyologist in training
Alright, as you suggested I got new 25watt bulbs for my tank and my plants seem to be doing a little bit better; the wisteria are getting their color back, but the moneywort is still looking a little brown. However since tuesday( the day i put the new bulbs in) I have gotten a green coating on many of the shells and and bamboo in my tank. Is this just the new bulbs doing their job and strongly encouraging algae growth?
Algae occurs when the nutrients in the tank are in greater numbers than what the plants can use, and provided there is light. The old bulbs were, frankly, useless for plants, and your quick improvement in their appearance proves that. But now you will have to work to find the balance between light, CO2 and macro- and micro-nutrients. This can take a few weeks, experimenting with light periods (lights on more/less), and reducing/increasing liquid fertilizer. Some algae is normal, and I never worry about it unless it begins to cover the plant leaves; left to do this, the leaves will be unable to photosynthesize and the plants will begin to die back.
One other thought, if this "coating" is a slimy mess that easily comes off with your finger, it is probably cyanobacteria; often viewed the same as algae, it is technically not algae but bacteria. Regular partial water changes to keep nitrates low, finding the correct light period, and nutrient control will handle it, but you will have to remove it manually when you see it. However, if it is just plain green algae, you can either remove it when you do the weekly partial water change or leave it, unless it invades the plants as I said.
On the moneywort, the existing leaves may not recover (some plants are like this, swords are another) but new growth will be normal and green (light green). Once this starts, just pinch off the bottom portions of the stems and discard.