Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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higherme 04-19-2009 08:20 PM

dust like aquarium
Recently, I found a lot of dust-like particles on the gravel. and also my plants have these slippery stuff sticking to it. Am I not cleaning the tank enough so there are those dust like stuff?
I've been using this type of gravel (Red Sea Floral base substrate), and that sales guy told me that I don't need to clean the gravel, so i haven't been cleaning the gravel, I just did 1/3 water change. Is that why I am getting these dust, plus a lot of poop around the gravel? it looks so disgusting.

the slippery stuff sticking to the plants - is it because my lighting is too strong. I have a 37 gal tank, with two 65 watts bulbs. my tank is tall, so i open both lights.


Mikaila31 04-19-2009 08:50 PM

What do you do for maintenance on the tank? and how often?

Is the dusty stuff brown?

Also what type of lights are you using(incandescent, T8, T5, power compacts)? You may have too much light on the tank?

Are you growing live plants? if yes, are you using co2?

higherme 04-19-2009 09:53 PM

I only do water change once every two weeks.
ya, the dusty stuff are brown, I have a lot of them on the gravel.
i'm not sure about the lights though, i think T8...

Mikaila31 04-19-2009 11:45 PM

I think it is the lights. I would cut it down to one light if you have plants or possibly even less. 65watts over a 37gal and you may still have algae. I also are you sure on the light type and wattage. It would be hard to get that many watts of T8's over the tank. That much light is really high for tanks in general, no standard fixtures I know of would have such high wattage. Without knowing what exactly you are running it is hard to help with lighting issues.

The brown stuff is diatoms, it is harmless. Its a type of algae if I remember correctly. What types of fish do you have in the tank? There are some species that will eat it...

higherme 04-20-2009 01:41 PM

oh.. i'll try cutting down to one light and see if it gets better.

The fish I have are:
tetras, mollies, guppies, platties, a pleco ( do they eat them?) and sword tails

Do i need to vaccum the gravel more often now for it to go away? How long does it take the dust stuff to go away?

higherme 04-20-2009 01:44 PM

oh ya, what about the slippery stuff on the plants, they are also algae right? they make the leaves turn black.

higherme 04-20-2009 01:53 PM

I also have spot algae growing fast on the sides of the glass. This probably indicates too much lights too right?

I also read that black mollies are good algae eaters...-->

Byron 04-20-2009 02:30 PM

Lots of questions in the latter posts, here are my suggestions and comments to help you.

I can't at the moment think of the name for the slippery stuff that looks black, but this is a sure sign of too much light and too much nutrients. All algae will flourish in such conditions. Nothing will eat the slime stuff, nor brush algae (looks like tufts and grows on anything and everything). Otocinclus which are one of the very best algae grazers won't touch it, nor will Farlowella nor Rhineloricaria which also graze and eat algae. The only way to get rid of it is to remove it with your fingers; it usually slides off easily, though tedious to do.

I come to the reason for the algae: too much light (as Mikaila31 said) and too much available food (nutrients). You need a balance in a planted aquaria, where the nutrients, available CO2 and light are in balance to support the number of plants, but no single thing is beyond this level or algae will take advantage. Plants will consume the nutrients and CO2 and use the light, but one of these factors is going to be the limiting factor on plant growth. It should be the light (i.e., not providing more light than the plants need for the available CO2 and nutrients), but in your case I suspect the limiting factor is CO2, since you have far more light than necessary, and I'll come to the nutrients in a moment. Once the plants have used the available CO2, they can't continue to utilize the light and nutrients to photosynthesize, and the opportunistic algae will quickly multiply because it is better able than plants to get carbon from bicarbonate. So, you want to reduce the light and probably the nutrients so the plants will be the users. Which brings me to your water changes.

You would have better luck with weekly rather than bi-weekly partial water changes. More often with less water is better than less often with more water. Partial water changes are the prime way to remove the nitrates, which are nutrients for the algae as well as the plants and other bacteria. If you changed 25% at a minimum every week you would help defeat the algae. It won't go away without removing it, but once you do it will not be back so fast or so much if its food is reduced. A 25% change is OK, but you can do up to 40%, as long as it is weekly without fail. The fish will also be healthier. Vacuum the gravel gently (so as not to pull up the plants) everywhere you can get to, as this will prevent the mulm but becoming more than the plants can make use of as nutrients and the algae won't compete as easily. Use a scraper to clean the aquarium glass every water change. Sometimes you don't actually see the start of algae, but it is there and if you just go over the glass with one of those sponge-type scrapers each week it won't be able to catch hold.

Some algae in an aquarium is normal and natural, but the aquarist must ensure it is kept within reasonable bounds.

JohnnyD44 04-20-2009 02:42 PM

good info byron

just a quick addition....what kind of pleco is in your tank? If it's a common pleco, it will quickly outgrow your tank, they can get to be a foot long, if thats the case, you may want to think about rehoming it

Guppies, mollies and platies are notorious live bearers....keep an eye out for babies unless you sexed them right.

Good luck with your brown algae, it's nothing serious, just do what the people here said, cut your lights now and the feeding and you'll be fine....

Fishin Pole 04-20-2009 03:10 PM

Another concise and excellent post by Byron............Wish i knew half as much as this member......Members take note, this gentleman knows his stuff........All great info............stole some of my thunder!

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