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byronthree 10-08-2013 09:22 AM

Wookie is shedding in my tank
1 Attachment(s)
*** All water parameters listed below, including Ferts and Lighting ***
*** Picture of my tank CLEAN attached, will get a dirty picture ***

Hello all,

It has been a few weeks since I have posted, looking for some more help that could be of tremendous value. The question is, what is this stuff in my tank, and how do I get rid of it???

I have a fully cycled, moderately planted, near 100% stocked, 30 gallon tank with good filtration. A month after my tank cycled I began to have brown algae on the glass and decorations in my tank. Bought some Ottos, and I believe that is has been controlled since, unless brown algae has a whole other look to it in later stages.

Jump to last month: I began to notice a brown, fuzzballish like coating on my gravel surrounding my sword plant. I vacuumed it up, but it reappeared. Now it seems each time I vacume it, it reappears within days with a vengance, coating the majority of my gravel but staying thickest around the roots of plants. Not only is it on the gravel, but it also appears on the leaves of all plants as a thin, slimely film.
Last week, a began to also notice that a very small ammount of my white gravel is turning dark green, and in some places a light blue. Then I noticed a green strand of slime on my heater as well as in one of my ferns. I googled this and concluded that it might be blue-green algae.

Yesterday, I removed EVERYTHING from my aquarium other than the substrate and did a thorough vacuume of the gravel, and also washed in removed tank water all decorations including plants. With the plants, I used my fingers to wipe off the slime on each leaf. As I vacumed the gravel, the crap from the substrate went everywhere, making the water extremely cloudy and brown. I then did a 30% water change and replanted everything. Once done, I used Crystal Clear as I do after each water change that clouds my water. Everything looked great! But an hour later, a think film of that brown stuff began to appear on leaves, and stringy looking stuff appeared on the aquarium glass (which you can also see in the attached picture).

This brown stuff has also appeared in the outflow pipe of my filter.

What is this stuff???!!! And how do I get rid of it? Regarding the blue-green algae as well, am I correct? And how do I rid that?

I have another, not being used right now Eheim 2213, will this help clear this stuff?

Things that I am guessing may be a problem is that my phosphate level is too high. I have been told but not yet done this, that phosphate levels should be at 10% of the Nitrate level. Right now it's at 50%.
Another thing that may be a problem is that I do not use CO2 right now because a good system is not that cheap..... so I am saving up for this. I was using Flourish Excel once every two days, but soon after I began dosing the stuff (at the correct ammount for a 30 gallon), one of my Platty's began to lay on it's side at the bottom barely breathing, struggling to swim but not on his side or upside down, and as soon as I did a water change he was fine. The next time I dosed the Excel he died. Odd, huh? Haven't used it since even though the other fish did not respond in the same way. And the water paremeters were practically the same as below at safe levels when this happened.

Please help me get control over this, as cleaning it is getting harder, and harder.... and harder. The Amano shrimp I bought last week don't seem to want a taste of it.


1. Size of tank?
* 30 Gallons

2. Water parameters
a. Ammonia? 0ppm
b. Nitrite? 0ppm
c. Nitrate? 20ppm
d. pH 6.9
e. KH ~74 (4 drops using API KH Test Kit)
g. Phosphate > 10 ppm
e. Test kit?
* API Liquid Test Kit, I use another brand for pH to verify API readings

3. Temperature?
* 78 F

4. FW (fresh water) or BW (brackish)?
* Fresh

5. How long the aquarium has been set up?
* 5 months

6. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them?
x5 Gold Barbs @ 5 months
x5 Von Rio Tetra @ 3 months
x3 Cory Catffish @ 2 months
x2 Ottos @ 3 months
x1 Sunset Platty @ 3 months (had two, one died.)
x2 Assassin Snails @ 1 month
x3 Ammano Shrimp @ 1 week

8. a. Any live plants? Fake plants?
All live plants, see attached picture
b. Sand, gravel, barebottom?
Gravel substrate; I know, this is bad for Corys. New tank for XMAS and will replace substrate
c. Rocks, woods, fancy decors? Any hollow decors?
Two peices of driftwood

9. a. Filtration?
x1 Ehiem 2213
b. Heater?
Marineland Heater

10. a. Lighting schedule? What lights are used?
x1 T5 5000k @ 24W
x1 T5 6500k @ 24W
Both are turned on at 11 AM and turned off a 9 PM
b. Any sunlight exposure? How long?
Very little in the morning, not direct exposure.

11. a. Water change schedule?
Once per week @ 20-30% Tap Water
b. Water conditioner used?
Seachem Prime
c. Frequency of gravel/sand (if any) vacuumed?
Weekly during water change; 2x / week when necessary

12. Foods?
Just switched from tetra crisps to dry bloodworms fed @ night
Frozen brine shrimp or bloodworms 2x / week
Shrimp pellets and hikari bottom feeder wafers daily
Algae wafers 1-2x / week

13. Fertilizers
Flourish Tabs: 3 currently in the substrate
Flourish Excel: Used once every 2 days but stopped, see above.
Flourish Iron: Used once. I believe the tabs are doing their job.
Flourish Phosphate: Have not used due to high phosphate levels
Flourish Pottasium: Have not used.

Agent13 10-08-2013 09:38 AM

Sometimes this happens in slightly newer tanks. One of my many tanks went through this as well but none of the others. Never figured out exactly why but I just upped my water change to 80%/week with occasional 50% midweek while cleaning off all the algae and it was gone after a few weeks. Also I was more diligent about cleaning the filter(in old tank water) during that period.. Not so much now lol

aquabruce 10-08-2013 10:53 AM

Lower your lighting to 8 hours a day.

More filtration. I think the Eheim 2213 might be a little to small for 30 gallons. I use them on 10 gallon tanks.

Cut your feeding down to every other day. It seems like your overfeeding. The fish won't starve. Hungry fish are happy fish.

Buy some Flourish Comp. Start dosing your Potassium.

Dose less then what is recommended for 30 gallons. You don't have the plant mass to take up the extra nutrients. They're just being wasted.

Excess nitrates and phosphates don't cause algae. Too much light and overfeeding do.

byronthree 10-08-2013 11:33 AM


Originally Posted by aquabruce (Post 3169169)
Lower your lighting to 8 hours a day.

More filtration. I think the Eheim 2213 might be a little to small for 30 gallons. I use them on 10 gallon tanks.

Cut your feeding down to every other day. It seems like your overfeeding. The fish won't starve. Hungry fish are happy fish.

Buy some Flourish Comp. Start dosing your Potassium.

Dose less then what is recommended for 30 gallons. You don't have the plant mass to take up the extra nutrients. They're just being wasted.

Excess nitrates and phosphates don't cause algae. Too much light and overfeeding do.

Thank you Agent13 and Aquabruce for your quick replies!

I will do as you said with the lighting and dosing. Regarding the filtration, would running two Ehiem 2213's be okay? I happen to have another one as it was sent to me by mistake and I decided to pay for it and keep it for parts or in the event of a filter emergency. I was thinking about running both of them before but had people tell me that it would be too much, however I tend to agree with you more.

Also, do you happen to know what kind of algae or growth this is?

Thanks again!

aquabruce 10-08-2013 01:24 PM

I don't see a problem with adding the second filter. You can always turn the flow down on the output side if it's too much. You want good flow throughout the tank. Let the new one cycle then clean the other one. When things clear up you could try switching back to one filter.

Most new tanks go through algae outbreaks while your trying to get everything dialed in.
There are 1000's of types of algae. Hard to tell without a pic. I have 8 planted tanks and everyone of them has a little brown algae/diatoms, mostly on the glass and in the filter tubes. One tank that I have pool filter sand in gets a little blue/green algae but I think it's from the sun hitting it in the morning.

I just had a massive outbreak of hair, green spot, brown, staghorn algae in a high light, co2 setup.
It took a few weeks but I beat it by lowering my light intensity and cutting the time back to 6 hours. I'm now back up to 8. I removed a lot of it manually to speed up the process.
I did 1 water change a week and never stopped dosing my ferts. Patience and a good dosing regimen is important and it varies by tank. On the other side of the coin, in one tank, I don't dose, no co2, 1 6500k T8 bulb and it grows java fern and anubius like a champ.

Enough of my rambling. I recommend reading some of the articles written by Tom Barr or Rex Grigg. Their methods have been a tremendous help to me.

byronthree 10-08-2013 01:42 PM

Just as you replied I figured out what it was through Google. Turns out that it is "Slime Algae," and it is not an algae but actually cyanobacteria. If you google slime algae and look at images, there is a picture of gravel coated with brown stuff. Exactly what is in my tank. It is also beginning to show the green gel like stuff too. I will follow all recommendation s you have thus far given me, but now that I have it ID'd, have you experienced this? Any additional advice? Sounds to me like over feeding is my biggest culprit.
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Agent13 10-08-2013 02:48 PM

overfeeding can have lot to do with it. And yes, absolutely hook up the other 2213. I see absolutely no reason that makes a bit of sense why people say 2 canisters are bad..but everyone is entitled to their opinions ;-). I run 2 2217s on my 72 and LOVE it. Pristine water and very healthy fish. With the cyanobacteria it'll be a battle to get rid of.. thats what was in the tank I previously mentioned... but I got it out of there after a while and it's been a long tim since I had that problem and it never came back.

byronthree 10-08-2013 04:54 PM

Well if you have had no issues running two 2217s on your 72 then should be no issue with mine. I was thinking of placing the input at the opposite end of the tank as the other, but position at mid-level to capture more of the floating stuff that takes time to reach the bottom (which instead usually lands on leaves). What do you think of this? Or would it be better at the top level acting as a skimmer?
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Agent13 10-13-2013 02:46 AM

Sorry for the late reply. My inputs are opposite sides of the tank and one is almost mid level and the other is about 3inches from the bottom.

supermarioworld 10-14-2013 07:05 PM

Hey, if you really believe it is cyanobacteria, then consider starving it and physically removing it. Get your phosphates, silicates, and nitrates to 0 (I'm assuming your ammonia and nitrites, which plants may also consume, to be at 0 already). You can get special filter pads addressing some of these. Also, cut way down on your feeding, as excess organics break down into food for algaes. Since it is technically a bacteria, my guess would be that adding aquarium salt would aid in killing it off. You may also consider cutting your lighting hours way down or using something more advanced like a UV sterilizer (which may kill off some free floating bacteria).

Found this article, which you should read: Causes and Cures for Cyanobacteria, also known as Blue-Green Algae or Slime Algae

Your enemy (according to Wikipedia):

Also, have you considered just living with it? I mean, in moderation, it sounds like it's helpful because it would consume some of the organic waste leftovers.

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