Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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onekatietwo 01-20-2010 07:22 PM

Mild algea problems
Hello everybody.

The algae in my 50 gallon fish tank is starting to grow a little more rapidly than normal. I suspect it's from poor water conditions. I'm awful, I know, but I have to be at school 9 hours per day and then I have dogs to walk when I come home, food to make, and homework to do. The fish have been all but completely neglected.

Anyway, my tank is already completely unsightly. Instead of falling into a peaceful bliss when I see it, I cringe and wonder why I bothered. I don't have anything in the background and all my plants died (it was a very weak attempt to raise them, I must admit) and I really don't have much of anything for decor. It's depressing

But at least it used to have crystal clear water which could be viewed through crystal clear glass. Now I don't even have that.

Now, I'm not that great with my algae types, but I've mostly just had that totally not annoying brownish stuff that the MTSs love. I don't mind it either (besides at the very bottom near the sand) because it scrapes right off.

however, now I'm getting little splotches of what I'll admit is a gorgeous bright green, but it's incredibly difficult to remove. In fact, I might go so far as to say that I can't remove it.

My question is this:
What do I do to remove algae? I really, really, really, really, really don't want to scratch my tank - it's brand new. Let me stress that again - I REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY don't want to scratch it.
At the same time, it would be nice to get rid of the algae. Until now, I've just used one of those awkward rubber scrapper things.

I also considered shielding my tank from any and all light for a while. Logically, it seems like it would kill off the algae, but I suppose it may take a long while and have adverse effects on my fish. I also thought the dead algae 'bodies' might stick even after they're... dead.

I know, this is a total beginner ish question. But I really haven't had a problem with it until now, so I just don't know.

Angel079 01-20-2010 07:32 PM

What you're describing...a black out won't help there. As you said you self...poor water conditions.
For one, use a sponge you'd use for dishes that has the green side on it to clean the inside of your glass, so you won't scratch the tank.
Then follow it with a good sized water exchange using your gravel vacuum. And then stick to a weekly 30-40% water change (or find someone who can help you with it). Not having live plants just adds to the problem, so you may want to look into "easy" plants like Vallis and Pennywort Water wisteria etc.

Byron 01-20-2010 08:02 PM

If we can't help you through this, I can see the hobby could lose you, and that would be a shame. So please take what I'm going to write as constructive suggestions to prevent all this, and not as criticism for not doing this or that.

Algae is a plant, and it requires light and nutrients. With plants growing in an aquarium, algae has to compete, but without plants there is no competition for the nutrients. These come from the water (the minerals in your tap water), fish food (before and after it passes through the fish it contains minerals), and ordinary biological processes and actions in the aquarium. If light is present, algae will use both and proliferate. Now for the way to make this more difficult for the algae.

Especially in an aquarium with no plants, you must have a regular schedule of weekly partial water changes. I would recommend 50% of the tank water be changed every week. This removes nitrates which algae will feed on, along with pollutants that affect the fish and bacteria. It will only take less than an hour to do this, so set aside an hour on Saturday morning or Sunday morning when you can stick to it week by week. Second only to feeding the fish, the weekly pwc is the most important thing you can do to have a healthy successful aquarium.

Consider the light and adjust it as necessary. Without plants, you only need an aquarium light to view the fish, so use a simple lamp timer to have it come on and off the same time every day, and schedule it so it is on when you are normally there to see it. If there is light in the room from windows and you are not home during the day, you don't even need the aquarium light on until the evening.

Green dot algae is common to most of us; I get it now and then in my 115g tank as just one or two little dots on the glass, but if I miss it one week it will be much larger the next. It is difficult to remove. I find that if I use a sponge type aquarium scraper on the entire glass every week during the partial water change, it is much less likely to appear; I can't see it, but this regular cleaning tends to remove the very minute "invisible" beginnings. If I miss doing this, I can be sure to find a few spots next week. Even in my thickly planted tanks. Once it sets in, the solid aquarium scraper will sometimes remove it with a fair bit of scraping, and sometimes even a razor blade has to be used. But I usually get it with my regular weekly sponge before it can get this far.

We can talk about easy ways to grow plants and which plants once you have the tank in shape. Adding plants to an unbalanced tank will usually not be successful.


onekatietwo 01-21-2010 08:15 AM

Thanks guys.

I'm getting my tank back in shape. I imagine it happens to the best of us once in a while, no?

Anyway, I'm hesitant to use a dish sponge just because I'm absurdly paranoid about scratches, not to mention I've heard that most contain fungicides which probably aren't great for the fish/aquarium environment.

But if I sponge is what works best, perhaps I'll try a pet store and see what they have for glass surfaces.

As far as plants go - I will try again, sometime in the future when I have more money. For now, not only do I not have sufficient lighting (stock florescent tubes that came with the hoods for the aquarium) but it's also a cold water tank and a goldfish tank to boot. What survives the darkness dies in the winter and what survives both (is there such a thing? Not that I've found) the fish will eat or at least uproot.

Anyway, I'm over all not too concerned with prevention methods. As I said, I've never had a problem with it before, it's just been incredibly difficult to keep it perfectly maintained through this hellish winter session period at school (which ends this Friday, thank god.) I'm mostly just concerned with removing it from the glass surface and from there, I'm sure I can get my aquarium into a stable condition relatively quickly and resume my normal maintenance habits.

Angel079 01-21-2010 11:32 AM

Algae is very common in all sorts forms, actually any planted tank IMO will have algae spores present, but often with a balanced set up will not get out of hand.

To maybe ease your mind a lil: I've used these very sponges for lord knows how many years now to clean the glass. When I get a new one I boil it in hot water, let it cool down and use it (and then ONLY use it for the tank) and as long as you don't get gravel between it and your glass, I never scratched my tanks up.

Byron 01-21-2010 01:17 PM

To ease the worry over what might be in non-aquarium sponges, I use an aquarium one. It is a two sided sponge, one side is yellow and soft, the other blue and coarser, on a long plastic stick handle. It works fine. I use it on the glass every week and rarely does spot algae get past me. When it does, I use the plastic hard scraper for aquaria. B.

iamntbatman 01-23-2010 01:16 AM

I've always stuck my by razorblades for cleaning the algae off of glass. A good, sharp razorblade cleans up glass faster and more thoroughly than I've ever been able to do with a sponge or other device meant to remove algae from glass.

Fabi 06-08-2013 01:09 AM

Otocinclus catfish will help!~~

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