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KatG 11-07-2010 03:56 AM

Algae vs. other plants - If it's ok to plant a tank, what's the prob. with Algae?
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I'm confused and would love some clarification from people with much more experience than me! I've only had a tank for 6 months now and got into it more by happenstance than by choice (they were rescue fish and came with the tank) - though I love it now! My point is only that I couldn't do all of the reading up before I got the fish - I'm just sorta stumbling through all of this.

I have what I believe to be Beard Algae growing in my tank on the rock and one of my wood pieces. I believe that I have brown algae on the plastic plants and possibly in my filter. I don't mind the look of the beard algae (I really don't care either way) and my Cory's seem to chew on it here and there and keep it generally "mowed". The brown algae I don't care for, but the stuff that's growing on the plastic plants is minimal and I hope to get rid of them in the near future anyway. The gunk in the filter I'd like to be rid of, though any time it gets out into the tank the Cory's go crazy to eat it. :-? Blech.

I've been reading all kinds of stuff about Algae but can't seem to figure out what the problem with it is really - is it just aesthetic? I am starting to plant my aquarium (I have one Anubias, more to come soon, including some Marimo moss balls, assuming they'd be ok in my tank!). Algae is a plant - so if other plants are ok in the aquarium, should I really be too bothered by the algae growing? My understanding is that at night the algae, and all plants, produce Carbon Dioxide, which obviously fish don't breathe. So then is it also possible to 'over-plant' an aquarium?

Also, I know the fish wouldn't appreciate it, but in theory doesn't that essentially mean that I should keep the lights on all of the time? Just trying to understand the basics, here!

My other understanding is that the Marimo moss balls will likely kill, or reduce the algae anyway. Does anyone have experience with them? Does it mean they'll kill other plants too?

My known aquarium details are as follows:
Type: Freshwater
Substrate: (I'm not sure. I can't remember what the guy said in the store. It's dark grey/ black and i believe he said it comes from a steel factory/ plant... it's the left over bits? Does anyone know what I'm talking about? I tried to find info on the internet to no avail)
Size:27 Gallons
Filtration: AquaClear 300 (now called AquaClear 70)
Lighting: "Incandescent Solar Series" 2 x 25 watt bulbs
Temperature25 to 26įC (78įF)
Corydoras aeneus (1)
Hoplosternum littorale (1)
Corydoras concolor (1)
Corydoras schwartzi (1)
Corydoras panda (2)
Puntius anchisporus (6)

I have my lights on a timer and have them on from 11am until 2am... aaaaand just realizing that that's quite a lot of time. I think the recommendation is 10 - 12 hours, right?

Thanks for any input any of you are able to offer and appreciate patience for a newbie like me!



kitten_penang 11-07-2010 11:46 AM

heres my 2 cents.i hope you wont mind. algae appears mostly if there is too much light and nutrient in the water.more plants in tank and less left over food will keep algae at bay.cory's are algae eaters so it's not disgusting for them to enjoy the left over algae flowing out from the filter lol

as for the lighting being on 24 hours a day is a no no. both fish and plants need night's a natural thing that has to happen to keep all things in balance. 10 to 12 hours of lighting 2 hours of dim or (twilight time) and 12 hours of darkness is the best ratio. i'm not sure you're lighting is for plants or not but most of us use a full spectrum tube for our tanks but of course our tanks are quiet heavily planted. normal lighting will not do much to help the plants photosynthesize.

IMO your long lighting time,lack of real plants and maybe left over food is causing the algae bloom in your tank.

i wont say marimo balls will kill anything on purpose.they are moss and they suck up nutrients in the water thus cutting down the probability of the tank getting algae.thats all.they wont kill your plants =)

as for the lack of o2 at night heres a trick if the fish is gasping. get an airstone a little one will do.on it a few hours at night just to give a little more o2 to the tank and keep the forming of a thin film of protein from covering your water surface.

hope this helps =)

Byron 11-07-2010 04:10 PM

First off, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

I'll try not to repeat the correct advice kitten has given previously, just add some more on a couple of critical issues you've raised. Starting with the light. Plants grow by photosynthesis, and this they can only carry out in the presence of adequate light (intensity and duration) and nutrients of which there are 17. These include 9 macro-nutrients, like carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen plus the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur; then there are the 8 micro-nutrients which are all minerals (copper, iron, zinc, manganese, boron, nickel, chlorine, molybdenum). These have to be in balance with each other, and the whole (nutrients) must balance the light. Pl;ants will cease to photosynthesize when any one of the essential nutrients (or light) is no longer adequate to balance the rest. This is when algae creeps in, since algae, while a plant, is able to "make do" better than plants.

Fish and plants need darkness in order to "rest." This, plus the fact that you would be highly unlikely to keep the nutrients balanced 24/7 is why the lighting must be controlled so there is a period of complete darkness. The best formula is 10 hours of darkness each 24 hour period. This can be increased, provided the plants still have sufficient intensity of light for a minimum period. Most suggest 10-12 hours of light, though slightly less and slightly more will work depending upon circumstances. I currently have 10 hours light on my tanks; you can see how heavily planted they are from the photos which are under the "Aquariums" tab below my name on the left.

Provided everything is available (all the nutrients and light), plants will photosynthesize and out-compete most algae. Algae takes advantage and increases when the balance is broken, usually with excess light. I mentioned the fact that plants cease photosynthesizing when some nutrient or light is no longer adequate to balance the others; this "minimum/limiting factor" should always be the light. Excess light regardless of everything else will always cause algae to increase.

Algae in itself is not harmful, and I allow it to grow on wood and rock. It is when it attaches to plant leaves that trouble can occur, as it prevents the exchange of gases and water through the leaves and the plant weakens. If things are kept in balance, in a planted tank algae should not be an issue of concern.

I would definitely reduce the duration of your light to 10 hours a day. If you get more plants and they are medium to fast growing, the light can be increased to 12 hours. You will need a liquid fertilizer to provide all the nutrients, as many are unlikely to be present solely from water changes, fish food, and organics breaking down in the substrate. I use and recommend Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium; it is the best I have yet used. Make sure it is exactly the one named, they make several products in the Flourish line but this one contains everything (except oxygen, hydrogen and carbon which occur in the aquarium naturally). Anubias is a very slow growing plant, and brush algae thus finds it an ideal host. Keep the Anubias out of direct light, it loves shade and does much better under the shade of floating plants or larger plants like a sword.

At this point I will recommend that you have a read of the 4-part article "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" at the head of the Aquarium Plants section of the forum. We also have plant profiles and fish profiles, second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the screen. And, all of us are more than happy to answer questions.:-)


livefishcam 11-07-2010 05:17 PM

i would suggest first getting the plants and rocks out with the algae and putting them in a dark box for a couple of weeks to kill the algae. Also do a 40% water change then you can treat the tank to kill of the remanding algae spurs that will be floating around the tank .

Also check what watt you lights are and try to dim them a bit if possible or donít turn them on as much as its the light that feeds the algae.

i found led lights to work great instead and I donít suffer from algae at all

1077 11-08-2010 05:58 AM

I would agree with Byron on all things plant related and have found his advice, observatiions,recommendations ,invaluable.
The substrate you mention could possibly be sandblasting sand. Seems I remember slag from Ironworks as being part of the ingredients of this if memory serves me.
Would not get too wild about cleaning the filter material in a tank that has recently gone through a moving. Might consider cleaning the filter material by swishing it around in bucket of dechlorinated water or old water that you take out during weekly water changes of around 30 percent and replace the filter matetrial after another three to four weeks .
The plastic plants you could clean in a solution of bleach/water and then rinse them really well and allow them to air dry before placing them back in the aquarium.
Clean the glass during weekly water changes with an algae magnet or a clean papertowel folded into fourths.
A little algae in the tank is nothing to worry bout but when it begins to cover the surface of the gravel/sand,then it can reduce oxygen levls in the substrate and lead to build up of toxic hydrogen sulfide which if suddenly disturbed or released in large amount,could have negative effect on the livestock.
Seeing as how you are going to be doing weekly water change anyway, use a gravel vaccum/syphon to syphon some of this up each week by doing one half the tank one week,and the other half,the following week.If this is indeed sand substrate,,I would syphon from just above the sand so as not to suck up sand as well as the debri should there be debri that needs removed.
You can gently stir the sand with a plastis fork or your figers while doing this to help loosen it to where the vaccum can remove it. Don't get too aggressive right away but rather do one third or one half the tank each week. Keep water changes at around 30 percent for a few weeks and then up the changes to 50 percent.
The above should help the appearance of the tank and prevent sudden changes in water chemistry that will have negative effect on the fishes if too much is done al at once.I believe the tank looks quite bad judging from photos but nothing a little care over time can fix.
Of course it's your tank ,your fish,and you can do as you like with it. I'm just suggesting some improvement's I would do were it mine.

SinCrisis 11-08-2010 08:46 AM

few fish will eat BBA, but if you need, a Siamese algae eater will quickly graze all that BBA away. They inches though so if your tank is well stocked they may not be good. If you want an SAE, make sure you get a real one, some stores confuse Flying foxes with SAEs. The Flying Fox will not eat BBA

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