Black algae on my plants that can be rubbed off. What is it?
My son started an aquarium this summer and is now off to college. So I now have a few questions. Byron was so helpful to us this summer. Are you there Byron? This is a 75 gallon aquarium (4'x1.5') with sump below - lights (1) T5 6500k 35W had 2 but noticed one is burnt out. Have not fertilized in a couple months (was using tablets in the sand substrate but I thought it was causing algae bloom so I stopped) for filtration the aquarium water in the sump was passing through fiber-fil once, but this week I increased the fiber-fil passes in 3 locations. Added a charcoal filter in one pass, but just read Byron's thread from 2009 and I will remove it.
1. Black algae on plants - the new growth on plants looks healthy, but there is black slim that I can rub off on all the plants. What is it? Are the causes from too much of too little light? not fertilizing? not adequate filtering?
2. What is a good internet plant source? I do not have any good local dealers for plants. What do you suggest for low maintenance plants in sand substrate? Also looking for a good floating plant that is neat and compact with a beautiful root system to hang below water line. (currently has wisteria but it looks messy on top)
Thank you in advance for any help!!
So glad you are there to help Byron! Here are a couple images. Like I mentioned, we don't have a good aquatic plant selection here where we live - maybe we brought this stuff home with the plants?
Thank you so so much!!
That looks like what i was thinking. It is due to high organics plus light.
Any idea what the pH and nitrate are [these can relate]?
How often are water changes, and how much of the tank volume is changed?
Any products/substances aside from water conditioner going in the tank?
No plant fertilizer is being added, correct? Do you know the GH of the tap water?
Light--there is now just one T5 HO 35w tube on, correct? What is the length of the tube (this will give me a better grasp of the light coverage)?
PH - 6.8 - 7.0, Nitrate 10-20ppm (I am due for a water change today)
Water changes every 7-9 days. Change 15 gallons / 75 gal. tank and sump below (maybe 10 gal. below in sump?)
I do not add any products, but I have purchased Seachem Flourish comprehensive supplement and was going to start using it.
THe light is 32" T5 HO 35w - the light kit holds 2 bulbs and I do have another to put in if I should increase the light.
THanks for you help!
The one factor here that I am not sure of is this "sump." I've no experience with this type of filtration system, and in the back of my mind i am wondering if it may be affecting the organics somehow. I simply don't know. I know that when i let my canister go too long between cleanings, the additional organics from this has caused a cyano ouytbreak.
Nitrates seem OK. Have you tested the tap water on its own for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? This is worth doing, just in case any one or more of these is present.
Thank you so much for your time! I have completed a 50% water change and will become more regular! I will also start using the Seachem tomorrow like you suggested (1tsp/ once week on the day after water change).
I do believe the sump may not have been removing all the waste like it should, so I have added a couple passes of filter floss - so the aquarium water comes into sump below - goes through filter floss to remove particles - drops below with more filter floss - then bio-balls- and them passes through filter floss one more time before filtering back up into the aquarium. (I had one pass of carbon too - but you don't recommend that for a planted tank, right? ) Before, the aquarium water was going to the bio-balls first and then only passing through one pass of filter floss...
What is a typical time-frame to correct the bacteria?
Last thing - can you recommend a nice floating plant? I currently have wisteria floating but it looks kind of messy. Are you familiar with red root floater (Phyllanthus Fluitans)?
Thank you again for mentoring me and my son. We really appreciate your time and knowledge!
Yes, I would not have carbon in the filter. Plants will handle the "toxins" that carbon manage on their own, plus the carbon does remove essential nutrients the plants need, such as DOC (dissolved organic carbon).
Cyano can take some time, it all depends upon the individual tank's biology. Remove what you can with your fingers at each water change if you see it, plus what i suggested previously.
My favourite floating lant is Water Sprite. Brazilian Pennywort also grows nice when left floating. Frogbit is nice, if you can grow it; for some reason I have difficulty with this plant, it does well then deterioriates, then bounces back, sort of. There are also some small plants like Dwarf Water Lettuce, Salvinia, and of course duckweed; I prefer the more substantial plants like WS or pennywort.
Can I just add that you would be best to remove the leaves that are covered in this algae. If they are to thick in it, they will not likely bounce back. Once you remove those, you will be promoting new growth on the plant. If there is just a small amount on the otherwise healthy leaf, then you can just rub it off.
I also vote for Pennywort. It grows quickly, is pretty from the top (looks like a series of tiny lily pads) It is also neater then some of the other plants, if you like that. Also, you can cut it down as you see the need or it will just get HUGE. You can pull off a few inches of it and start all over whenever you want. This stuff grows well in most tanks.
Since both Pennywort and Water sprite have been mentioned here I thought I'd add some pics from my tank to show how nicely the two plants are growing in my tank.
Both species have roots that dangle down which creates a beautiful effect I find, and the Cherry barbs love to hang out in them. You can compare my tank to a few weeks before when the WS and Pennywort hadn't grown in yet, and it does create a really different impression with thick floating plant cover, with more subdued lighting reaching the substrate. You might argue that aesthetically, as an aquacape, maybe the version without the floaters looks more clean or "artistic". But in the end, the shade created by the floaters re-creates the natural habitat of the Cherry barbs, and they seem to appreciate it.
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