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kfryman 07-20-2012 02:59 PM

Algae Outbreak
 
I'm new to this site but I am on the sister sight for bettas. The tank i have the problem with is a 15 gallon tank, using dirt and gravel. I switched to T5HO 48 watt light (one light is 6500 and the other is 5000k) a couple months ago. Plants range from swords (getting rid of them though), rotala, ludwigia, wisteria, hygro corymbosa, dwarf sag, frogbit, water lettuce, and some duckweed.

All my parameters for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are zero (Will test if anything changed). My water is a bit soft but high pH, not sure on the kH though.

I recently switched to the siesta method as I don't inject CO2, but do dose Excel. That is where the algae outbreak came from is my guess. The schedule is 7-12 on, then off till 4 turned off at 8. It is done by a timer btw.

Should I go back to a normal schedule or let the plants adjust to the siesta? I could also go back and do DIY co2 as well.

Byron 07-20-2012 06:46 PM

What type of algae, specifically? And how long has the tank been set up with the soil?

Do you have numbers for GH and pH?

What fish are in the tank, and do you use any fertilizers aside from Excel?

I'm almost certain I know the problem, but will wait for this info before detailiing.

Byron.

kfryman 07-20-2012 06:58 PM

Hair algae, spot algae (Not growing anymore), and a very small amount of common green algae. The tank has been setup since January.

I know the pH is 8 and the gH is low at least making my water soft.

I have 5 bettas, 3 nerites, and a ghost shrimp, I need more since the others died from age. No other ferts, I would dose a tiny bit of APIs Leaf Zone if the swords weren't doing good for their leaves.

Byron 07-20-2012 08:02 PM

I don't know your level of knowledge/experience, and I always believe in understanding the "why" of issues, so pardon me if any of what follows is "old news.";-)

Algae is natural in any aquarium, but we aim to keep it under control. It is really only a problem when it appears on plant leaves because in time it can suffocate them and kill the plant. So with plants it is best to nip algae as soon as it begins to proliferate beyond the norm.

Light is the cause of all green/red algae. If the light is balanced with nutrients for the plants, algae will not have the opportunity to increase. As soon as it does, it means the light is greater than what the plants can use. In other words, the light is too intense, or on too long, or nutrients are lacking. It can be one or any combination of these, or all of them.

You have intense light with two T5 HO tubes over a 15g. This is double what i would use. And it is on for a long duration. The "siesta" should have lessened the increase of algae, I would expect, since the idea behind this is to allow CO2 to recover. However, other nutrients may still be lacking. And here i would wonder about the hard minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium). Knowing the GH would help; if it is below 4 or 5 dGH, there will be a calcium deficiency that will affect swords and other plants too.

The soil is not going to help much in this, and in fact soil tanks tend to have increased algae issues during the first six months; which is why I asked about the setup time. That should have worked it way out by now, but the algae issues of the past few months were likely related.

API LeafZone is iron and potassium. I would expect this to help the swords a bit, as you indicate if I read you correctly. But not long-term, as other nutrients are likely missing or low. Plants need 17 of them in balance. Flourish Comprehensive Supplement is a good fert, as is Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti. You use very little, in a 15g maybe 1/4 teaspoon weekly, twice weekly at most.

So to the solution. I would reduce the light--can you have just one tube light? If not, reduce the duration a bit further. Change ferts. Clean the inside of the glass at each weekly partial water change even if it looks "clean," as the green dot algae can be invisible at first and i have found that this keeps it off in the one tank that i otherwise see it a bit.

A word on Excel. This is a product i do not recommend, and with soil substrate it should not be necessary to add CO2. [That is in fact the only benefit of soil, initial CO2 due to organics.] Excel is a chemical, called (by Seachem) Polycycloglutaracetal; apparently this is a trade name for a product developed by SeaChem, which appears to be an isomeric form of glutaraldehyde. At least the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Excel list glutaraldehyde as the active ingredient. I believe it is 1.5% glutaraldehyde, rest is water (API CO2 Booster is 1.6% ). This chemical is toxic. It is used to disinfect medical and dental instruments and as a chemical preservative. Considered a hazardous substance, skin irritant, toxic if inhaled, etc. You can read more here (which comes from a link on the API website):
http://cms.marsfishcare.com/files/ms...ter_081810.pdf
It kills cells, and is used in products that attack viruses and bacteria. So, it may well affect bacteria in an aquarium. It will kill some aquarium plants, Vallisneria is one. The fact that it is proven to kill some algae tells us something too.

Byron.

kfryman 07-20-2012 10:13 PM

So get the flourish supplement as well and reduce the amount of light, should i have them on for just 8 hours straight adjust from there or continue the siesta? I believe that the change to the siesta has the plants a bit jumbled. That is actually when all the algae came. I had hair algae from some food being left behind. I then went away and there was algae when i came back. So I have been fighting it, but the problem is I am leaving again.

So limit lights and get Sechem Flourish?

Olympia 07-20-2012 11:13 PM

Didn't you say in your other thread that you fertilize every other day? I hope you took my advice and stopped with that.
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kfryman 07-20-2012 11:57 PM

I only used Excel everyday lol, I know not to use other ferts everyday, well depending on what it is. So yeah I only dose Excel everday.

I was looking at my rotala and it is way pinker, so I am going to continue with the siesta and hopefully I can get Flourish soon. I will be buying off of Amazon as I am a Prime member and it is way cheaper. So I would get it next week, but I am on vacation. So hopefully I can have it there when I get home on Friday.

So Byron, I should still do water changes often? I usually do one like once a monyh since everything is at zero and all my fish and shrimp are fine. I will check the parameters tomorrow to see if the plants are still being filters and keeping everything at zero. If not i will seed the filter.

I was also looking at your thread and it said strong water current wasn't good, should i get a different filter so there isn't as much gas exchange? I like the filter because i dont get protien film, how would I combat it without surface agitation?

fish monger 07-21-2012 10:24 AM

As usual, Byron has provided excellent advice. The lighting with "injected CO2" is outside of my low tech experience but, from what I can understand, it is always a matter of a balance between lighting and nutrients. If you change one, you need to change the other. Correct me if I am wrong; however, isn't high output lighting much more intense than your run of the mill T8 ? Additionally, I don't understand the reason for intermittent lighting periods (again, it's probably just my ignorance). I'd shoot for a single 6500k tube and Flourish Comprehensive at 8-10 hours steady light. If you still have the algae problem, you might switch to a standard T8 6500 tube. Best of luck !

Byron 07-21-2012 11:27 AM

Quote:

So Byron, I should still do water changes often? I usually do one like once a monyh since everything is at zero and all my fish and shrimp are fine. I will check the parameters tomorrow to see if the plants are still being filters and keeping everything at zero. If not i will seed the filter.
Water changes should always be done every week at the absolute minimum. Relying on nitrate readings or whatever is not safe. "Stuff" accumulates fast in the water, and the only way to remove this pollution is a water change, every week. The volume can vary depending upon tank size, fish load (type of fish and numbers) and plants, but I do half my tanks without fail and have done for more than 15 years. This is the best way to maintain water stability.

Quote:

I was also looking at your thread and it said strong water current wasn't good, should i get a different filter so there isn't as much gas exchange? I like the filter because i dont get protien film, how would I combat it without surface agitation?
Chances are the filter is not going to be detrimental, though this is difficult to say exactly. Generally speaking, too much water movement will drive off essential CO2 (which is in limited supply to begin with). Surface protein scum occurs now and then in my tanks, and almost exclusively in specific tanks. Obviously something in the biological makeup of the tank causes this. It is not a problem, one can always siphon it off at the weekly water change (invert the siphon). Some surface movement should keep it minimal. There are surface skimmers you can get for many canister filters; I had these, but removed them because small fish kept getting sucked in and killed, and any sort of "screen" clogged up with floating plants.

Quote:

So get the flourish supplement as well and reduce the amount of light, should i have them on for just 8 hours straight adjust from there or continue the siesta? I believe that the change to the siesta has the plants a bit jumbled. That is actually when all the algae came. I had hair algae from some food being left behind. I then went away and there was algae when i came back. So I have been fighting it, but the problem is I am leaving again.

So limit lights and get Sechem Flourish?
Yes to last question.

The siesta idea is something I am not comfortable with. I accept that it will help to prevent algae. But the effect on the fish is unknown exactly, and this bothers me. Bright overhead light is stressful on fish, no doubt at all about this, and that means they are being negatively affected. Having to adjust to two instead of one light/dark period each 24 hours is not something I consider advisable. So far I have found no evidence to contradict this, so I would have to recommend against a siesta method.

You have very bright light, and the duration is only one aspect of the algae. However, from what you've mentioned in this thread, I'm not certain there is reason to consider different light to lessen the intensity, though being able to remove one tube if the other still lights is something i would definitely do, with an 8 hour period. If this is not possible with that fixture, then reducing the period further if algae increases might work.

Byron 07-21-2012 12:12 PM

Quote:

The lighting with "injected CO2" is outside of my low tech experience but, from what I can understand, it is always a matter of a balance between lighting and nutrients. If you change one, you need to change the other.
Correct. There must be a balance between light and nutrients, at whatever level, or algae will take advantage. Plants cannot fully photosynthesize unless everything they require is available.

Quote:

Correct me if I am wrong; however, isn't high output lighting much more intense than your run of the mill T8 ?
Correct. T8 is our basic fluorescent lighting, replacing the older T12. [The "T" is the tube diameter in eighths of an inch.] T12 and T8 are similar, but T8 is a newer product and more energy efficient. T5 is aimed at the marine side of the hobby where bright lighting is essential for live corals. There is NO (normal output) which is basically the same as T8 [with the same type of tube, meaning same phosphors for light spectrum], HO (high output) and VHO (very high output). HO is roughly 1.5 times more intense than T8 [again, using same tube types], I'm not sure about VHO. This development means that a reef tank can have fewer tubes over it but more intense light than was possible with T8.

Quote:

Additionally, I don't understand the reason for intermittent lighting periods (again, it's probably just my ignorance).
This idea here is that in a natural (low-tech) method planted tank, we are relying on nature to provide the essential macro-nutrient carbon via CO2 (carbon dioxide). Other nutrients we can add if necessary, using a comprehensive liquid, substrate tabs, etc. But CO2 occurs naturally from the respiration of fish, plants and bacteria, and mainly from the breakdown of organics in the substrate. But this CO2 is limited in each aquarium.

Plants will photosynthesize full out (to the max) provided everything they need is available--light of sufficient intensity and 17 nutrients including carbon. As soon as one of these is limited or missing, photosynthesis slows and may cease completely. We call this the limiting factor to plant growth. In a natural planted tank, all else being equal, CO2 is the first factor to run out because the plants are usually using it faster than it can be replaced. Once this occurs, and if light continues (at any level), algae takes advantage. Provided all essentials are present, algae is out of luck because plants are faster at using the nutrients and light. So the object is to make light the limiting factor; without light, algae is lost.

It is relatively simple to control the light (intensity and duration), and adding nutrients other than CO2 is under our control. So one way around the problem of CO2 becoming exhausted, is to provide a "siesta" period mid-day to rebuild the CO2. Tom Barr estimates than in most tanks the CO2 is probably used up after perhaps 5-6 hours; this varies depending upon the bioload naturally. So having the tank lights on for 5 hours, off for 2-3, on for 4-5 is supposed to allow sufficient time for the CO2 to rebuild.

This does seem to work according to those who use it. But as I mentioned in my previous post responding to the OP, there may be some effect on the fish. This has been suggested elsewhere, and so far no evidence to counter it has surfaced. I prefer to take the safer approach with my fish, and simply shorten the period of light, and I use algae to determine this. After all, the light duration is solely for my benefit so I can view the aquarium [once the 6 or so hours necessary for plant growth is met] so it is up to me how long the duration is. I can increase the duration provided algae does not begin to increase beyond the normal expected amount in any aquarium. If it does, I reduce the light period by an hour. Once this is balanced, algae should never be a problem.

It doesn't take much. For a couple years I noted that brush algae increased during the summer, and last year I experimented with daylight. I covered the windows of my fish room with blinds and drapes to prevent additional daylight from entering, and it worked; no increase in algae unlike previous summers. The additional brightness and duration of daylight during summer was sufficient to increase the light entering the tanks.

Byron.


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