Algae discussion: Periodic Black out's?
I'd like to have a discussion with all of you that may have had issues with algae in the past.
Forcefully I been needing to do a lot research on this matter lately thanks to my 55g. Also part of the 'cure' in my tank and other members that I recall here a blackout helped get rid of certain algae's.
As I was just reading some other articles from some very reputable people overseas.....I started wondering.....
Realistically our tanks are (in ideal cases) to resemble a piece nature, like a stream, pond etc; So that lead me to the questions:
1) In nature no one fertilizes so the available "bio" ferts are obviously available off/on like a swing if you will not on schedule like most people do in their tank
2) Naturally you have Summer time (longer sun hrs) and winter (less sun hrs) and you have rainy day's with many clouds etc...In our Tanks the lights are set with a timer, all day, ever day ~10hrs
That thinking lead me to the question I'd like to discuss (In a civil way please!):
Would it then not make sense in order to mimic that in our tank (and possibly for algae prevention) if on/off randomly we have a black out day; does ferts more random then on the clock each & every week, twice a week?
A fish tank is all about balance and the one's out there that had tanks for a while know exactly what I'm talking about with this balance. In nature this balance is achieved by other influencing factors such as named above; but we do not copy cat that on our tanks - Why not if out in the rivers that works plenty well?
I do wanna say one thing...I don't follow a strict light schedule and I never have. I generally go with turning the lights on a little after sunrise and turning them off a little after sunset. Occasionally I'll throw open the blinds and let the light flood my room and I'll turn off the tank lights to simulate something like cloudiness. I hardly make feeding on schedule too. It's more or less random, but I try not to let too much time go between feeding. I have more to say, so I'll get back at this later.
I already had an aneurysm thinking about lighting. Now you have me thinking about it again.
In nature there is going to be natural fertilizing taking place with dead foliage in the water along with run off from the forest floors in to the streams and lakes that will fertilize as well. In the case of a stream though, these fertilizers will be moved away quickly by the moving water unless this is a constant supply. I'm likely to believe it is more of a constant supply as it rains frequently in the tropics. Of course, it may not be constant all year either.
Doing a mid day siesta by having the lighting go off seems to go a long way in preventing or greatly reducing algae. This can also be thought of that mid day rain storm simulation. Provided there is some form of ambient light via a window the tank will still have light. Even if it does absolutely nothing for the plants it could simulate dim ambient light as experienced in rain storms or cloudy days.
It's virtually impossible to mimic nature exactly in a planted aquarium. The best you're going to do is have an outdoor pond or lake. But in our living room all we can do is try our best and use common sense.
P.S. Why do you think this wouldn't be civil? I'm not that horrible am I?
Forgive my newness, but isn't the primarey differance between the tanks and nature is the amount of "fresh" water passing through? I would think that this would play the largest factor in algea growth, more so then light. Fast streams tend to have less algea build up then stagnent ponds.
Personally I don't follow a strict schedule for my tanks, for food or lighting, as long as they are fed often enough. Lights get turned on when I wake up and off when I go to bed. However My tanks are either not planted or sparcley planted so perhaps that makes the differance.
I had someone tell me once that a tank you can't see through is the most natural tank you would ever have. I don't claim he was the best fish keeper though :)
Well, up here in temperate climates we certainly have pronounced seasons with longer and shorter days and all that. In the tropics, though, the seasons are much less well-defined (usually they just have two seasons: wet and dry) and the temperature is pretty much constant all year with the same amount of sun every day. The changes from wet to dry seasons obviously aren't very dramatic in rainforests where it's constantly raining anyway (though in Asia especially there are the monsoon rains during the rainy season). The massive amounts of decaying plant matter I would think would provide a near constant supply of nutrients to aquatic plants year round.
So, I think if we're talking about tropical plant species here, a steady lighting and fertilization schedule probably does a pretty decent job of mimicking nature. As for the blackouts to simulate clouds...well, look at Byron's tanks. It's always cloudy in there and look how they're doing.
There have been some very credible points made by several members in this thread. Iamntbatman came close to something that I'm going to explore further, and that is the true conditions in the tropical rainforests. I'll reference my comments to the Amazon basin, since that is what I am most familiar with from my 20 years of research and fish/plant aquaria.
One very important point to understand: most of us want planted aquaria that bear no resemblance whatsoever to any stream or lake in the tropical rainforest with respect to the number and variety and extent of the growth of the plants. This has several aspects. We want thicker plant growth than in a typical stream; we want more luxuriant plant growth than will ever be found in nature; we combine more species in a very small space (the aquarium) than would ever be next to each other in nature and often not in the same river system; and to achieve all this, we have to provide more/different light and nutrients. Then, by doing this, we encourage and promote something that rarely if ever occurs in nature--algae competing with the plants.
If you are luck enough to have been on expeditions to the Amazon [no, I haven't] or have seen any of the many nature guides and videos that show the underwater aquascapes that our fish call home, you must notice that there are few if any aquatic plants in most of them. There are exceptions: the Rio Negro and Rio Guapore systems have more aquatic plants than most any other system in the Amazon basin. And by aquatic plants, I mean plants actually growing in the river/stream/creek as submersed vegetation. When we think of Amazon aquatic plants, for most of us the swords (Echinodorus) come to mind. But most all of the species of Echinodorus are bog plants, not aquatic plants; they spend six months emersed, when they flower and reproduce, and six months submersed during the rainy or flood season. They adapt well to fully-submersed life, and will grow for years; I have one Echinodorus macrophyllus that is well beyond 12 years in my aquarium, and it still sends out runners with daughter plants two or three times every year.
Plants growing emersed do not face algae. And when submersed, there is usually insufficient light to promote algae. And contrary to what one post mentioned previously in this thread, algae is solely the result of light. I had an informative exchange of thoughts with Tom Barr yesterday, partly on this issue of light, and as most of you will know, he is highly respected as an authority on the subject. He clearly pointed out that light should always be the absolute minimum that the plants require in our aquaria; and if we do this, and then provide the required nutrients, the plants will thrive and you will never see algae beyond the minimal amount that is natural in any artificial ecosystem like the aquarium. As you all know, I have been saying the same thing in my posts.
Moving on to nutrients, plants in the Amazon basin assimilate nutrients from the air (CO2) and substrate during the emersed growth period. When they are submersed, their roots are still in the same substrate, the floor of the forest that is abundant in nutrients, organic particularly, and bacteria in the zillions breaking down matter and providing nutrients. The CO2 in the water is minimal by comparison to air, and it is no surprise then that when these plants are submersed their leaves change shape and texture and generally look far worse than any of us would tolerate on our aquarium plants.
I could write more, but I must head off in a moment, so will post this to get started.
It is fatal in my opinion and my own personal experience in that area to fall for the idea that algae is solely a result of inadequate light only; that is simply not the fact.
More importantly, though, he has a ton of floating plants, which do a lot when it comes to shading the non-floating plants in his tank. Yet they thrive, showing that we don't have to recreate "full, direct sunlight" conditions for the plants on the floors of our tanks in order to have them grow and thrive.
I think algae is present in our aquariums all the time but we can minimize it's presence by using minimal light and making sure the other things like nutrients are abundant enough to keep the plants healthy so they absorb all that other extra stuff that would feed algae. I also read a couple things from Tom Barr (or actually people who referenced him, my research was prompted by another mention of him by Mr. Byron earlier) and his emphasis on minimal light is pronounced. I think algae absorbs the "extra" stuff so, to be totally repetitive, when things are in balance it won't be a problem
Algae seems to be a symptom of imbalance and not "the" problem. Clearly when there is algae most on this forum would find the root cause. In nature, I think that when things are out of balance, another element steps in to balance it out. We are that other element stepping in with our aquariums.
I realized recently that my tank with an algae issue was getting too much sunlight from a nearby window, and every since I solved that problem my algae issue in that tank has minimized. Sunlight is hard to control, though, which I think is why we discourage having it in our tanks.
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