Algae and light issue
Alright so I've been battling algae in my tanks for a little while now and it just won't go away. Everything I've read says that light is usually the issue. I've knocked the lights back to 5 hours on both my tanks and it still won't go away so what's the problem. I have a 10x CFL over my 5g and does 1x weekly with flourish. I have a ZooMed Ultra Sun over my 40 Breeder and also dose 1x weekly with flourish and have root tabs around my swords. The plants are all doing well except for the algae growing all over them. What is causing the algae if not the lights?
Hey nice to meet ya, I'm from Springville ny, what about direct sunlight? are your tanks close to windows at all? How high are the nitrates?
Cool I'm actually a little north of buffalo in wheatfield if you know where that is. I'd say the tanks get more indirect sunlight than anything. They get a little light from the windows but not so much you can see in the tanks. When the lights are off the tanks are still pretty dark.
Daylight entering the room does factor into this, if it is significant. I noticed two years ago that my black brush algae always began increasing in the summer, and I would cut back the tank lights by an hour, it stopped. Same thing the next year, when I finally twigged onto the daylight. Even with mini-blinds, there was a lot of light entering the room when the sun was directly hitting the windows and for longer periods than the rest of the year. So last year I closed the thick drapes as well, all summer. No increase in algae.
If your daylight is significant, this may be the issue. If the plants are doing well, there shouldn't be a nutrient problem; and six hours at the minimum should be fine. Let's explore this a bit. Aside from the Flourish once a week:
What is the GH of the tap water? Any iron in the tap water according to the supply folks?
The pH in the tank?
And the light, is this one 10w CFL Daylight (6500K) bulb over the 5g? And the ZooMed UltraSun, is this T8 or T5? And tube length? [Assuming this is a 3-foot tank.]
How often are the fish fed? And what type of plants (species)?
What are nitrates, as Hanky asked? And how frequent are water changes, and what volume?
It is one 10w CFL over the 5g with a 6500K rating. The ZooMed is a T8 36" tube.
Readings for the 40g are...
pH= anywhere from 7.4- 7.8 I have trouble reading this one.
Nitrates are 0
KH= 5 and GH= 143.2ppm (Might have done this wrong not sure)
Plants are Amazon Sword, Ruffled Amazon Sword, Rubin Sword, Dwarf sag, Wide leaf sag, Melon Pinwheel Sword, Contortion Val, floating Water Sprite and a couple anubias. The ones having the major algae problems are the swords. particularly the leaves that are so tall they lay against the surface. Everything near the substrate has no algae or a very tiny amount you need a microscope to see.
Fish are fed atleast once sometimes twice a day depending on my schedule. If I feed them twice (once in the morning and once in the evening) it's smaller amounts.
I do a weekly water change of roughly 40% Last water change was 1 week ago exactly.
Byron, you might remember the thread I had a little while ago about the hair algae it's the same stuff in this tank now and it won't go away.
The 5g readings are
Nitrates are also 0
I'm assuming the kh and gh are the same.
Plants are Vesuvius Sword, Java Fern, Anubias, floating water sprite and salvania.
This tank has a single beta that gets 2 pellets 2x a day.
I do 2 water changes a week or about 90%.
If it makes a difference I did a water change about 5 hours ago.
The algae i'm having a problem with are cyanobacteria on the floating plants, and brown algae but not diatoms. More like dirt that settles on the leaves and glass. Sometimes very hard green algae I use a razor blade to scratch off the glass.
I thought I remembered the older thread, but can't find it; I might have been thinking of another member.
Can you post photos of the algae on the leaves?
I can't seem to find them on here either and have deleted them from my computer. I will try to get new pictures tomorrow. It was black colored and about a centimeter long covering the entire leaf and part way down the stem on all the swords close to the surface.
Byron, could you tell me exactly what the water readings mean? I read up on it a while ago but have forgotten and you're really good at dissecting that kind of stuff. It's really basic and hard right? I know that our water is different than what comes from the water company because there's a filter on it to remove chlorine and all metals to make it as pure as possible.
There is no problem in these numbers for plants. Algae can sometimes proliferate faster the harder the water, but these ranges are not in that category. Which is why i was wondering about the GH and pH. Not only can a higher GH cause algae more, but a very low GH can be detrimental to plants; a lack of hard water minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium (which are not high enough in Flourish Comp to compensate) could allow algae an advantage. One has to eliminate all possibles when trying to find the cause of a problem.
I'll wait for the photos.
Here are a couple photos. I've recently cut a lot of the worst leaves off and 2 weeks ago bought a rubberlip pleco which to my surprise did a real good job taking care of all the black algae. Got rid of almost all of it actually. Problem is he's also destroying my plants eating holes through them until the leaves die. I'm 90% sure it was him too because the plants were doing great until I added him which is why I'd rather find the cause of the algae and give him back to the LFS than lose my plants. I've been giving him algae wafers after lights out to try and change his appetite but have had no luck. Anyway here's the photos.
The leaves start out looking like this but then after a few days it's dark black hair like algae.
I think I remember my parents saying that the filter they put on the water lines removes the calcium and things that are added so I will check with them later to see if that's true.
The plant leaves in those photos appear healthy from a nutrient perspective, so I am not suspecting a calcium deficiency. However, if the tank water is going through any device to adjust its chemistry this can be significant for fish and plants and could lead to algae. Is there any data on what specifically this device does, and adds in the way of substances?
To the algae, this looks pretty normal. The stuff on the root hairs I would ignore, I see this frequently. I'm frankly not sure what it is, i doubt it is algae. Once or twice it was problematical, as it spread everywhere along with cyanobacteria which of course is due to high organics.
The brush algae on the leaves I see, often it means the particular leaf is dying. When I see this increasing on sword plant leaves, I usually remove the leaf and every time it will be brown at the crown indicating a dead leaf that can no longer transport nutrients up and down; brush algae seems to sense this, I don't know if the leaf first begins dying and the algae attacks, or if the algae attacks and the leaf then dies. Not suggesting removal of these leaves, just an observation. Next point is significant.
Lots of floating plants will usually keep brush algae in check. I would add some, the surface above the Vallisneria is bare so that is a factor (unless you moved the floating plants for the photo).
Having reduced the light to 5 hours though does puzzle me; this brush algae is what I expect to see in my tanks with 9 hours. I'm wondering if that water device is adding something.
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