Hair Algae (*sigh*)
So out of nowhere my 20 Gal. tank developed a hair algae problem. It's everywhere: on the leaf margins of my plants, the driftwood, the filters. I ended up throwing plants away (like the lovely ruffled sword) and trimming back others to remove as much of it as I could. I scrubbed it off the driftwood and did a thorough gravel vacuuming to try and clean out as much of it as possible.
As it is, the tank is heavily planted and I try to limit the lighting to 8-10 hours/day. I also tried the lights out method whereby I kept the lighting off for several days. Yet the algae remains.
I know I am introducing algae to the tank when I give my Corys and Otos algae chips, but I didn't expect hair algae. It's disgusting.
What can I do?
Algae occurs due to light. It will always find sufficient nutrients, but keeping the light minimal (sufficient for the plants and no more) is the key.
Are you sure it is hair algae? A photo would help. Also, some data on the tank, namely how many and which plants, but here too a photo will answer this. Also, data on the light. And which if any fertilizers are entering the tank. Last question for now, how often are water changes and what volume of the tank?
Oh yes, it's hair algae. Some is red, most is green. In some areas it grows as little tufts that are impossible to remove, while in other areas it grows in long, slimy strands and clogs up the filter intakes. It grows ridiculously fast.
I believe I have put 2+2 together on why this happened. The plants in my tank (several large Amazon Sword, several Dwarf Swords, one HUGE crytocryne undulata, Cabomba, and a couple Hygro Kompacts) had grown so quickly I felt it necessary to do a serious pruning of them to give my fish some swimming room. I removed almost all of the Cabomba, the only fast growing plant, because it was driving me nuts. I also removed the Ozelot Sword I had because I didn't like the way it looked with the rest of the plants.
I believe that gave the algae in the tank the opportunity to take over. Putting algae chips in the tank twice a week for the Corydoras probably hasn't helped either.
I'm going to see about finding some Hygrophilia or Rotala for the tank to replace the removed Cabomba with.
Light has to be the control, no more intensity or duration than will match the nutrients. And don't worry about the algae tabs for the corys; other than by overfeeding any food, this is not going to cause algae.
The tuft algae is only growing on the Malaysian driftwood and nowhere else. The long, thread-like stuff is on the margins of my plant leaves, grows, and takes the leaves over until they weaken and need to be removed.
I've knocked the lighting down to 6-8 hours per day and haven't been using any plant fertilizer in the tank in my efforts to kill this stuff.
EDIT: I had a few tufts on the heater as well, but I scraped them off.
Of course, there can be situations where nutrients are too plentiful as well. This can occur in natural planted tanks where CO2 is not being added; if the natural CO2 is depleted, then the additional nutrients and light will certainly cause algae.
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