Green Hair Algae
Ok, so I have a problem with my 40 G fresh water fish tank
I use substrate and a coralife 6700K lighting system for the exotic plants that I want to go (a lot of them have thin leaves and I also have red leaf plants as well). The problem is that I have green hair algae that continues to grow and give me problems - The light is on about 16 hours a day - I'm afraid of using less light since I think it would harm my aquarium plants. I'm also afraid of using any chemicals to kill the algae since they may kill my plants or snails. Any ideas?:neutral:
I'm no expert but 16 hours sounds way to much.
Plants NEED night time as well. I'd try going to 12/12 intead of 16/8 regime.
I agree everything I have read and been told was no more than 10-12 hours of light a day.
Reduce the light duration. Plants need light, and red leaf plants need more as you mention. But intensity and duration are two related but quite different aspects of the light.
To be useful for plant photosynthesis, the light has to be of the correct intensity, and by "intensity" I am including not only the strength of the light but also the spectrum [6700K is ideal, no issue there]. The duration is somewhat less important, because extending the duration will not make up for light that is not of sufficient intensity in the first place.
All plants will manage fine with as little as 6-8 hours daily, provided the light is sufficient in intensity. The nutrients must be sufficient to balance the light; if not, the light is "wasted" and algae--as you have seen--increases. Without light there will be no algae (aside from diatoms, another story). So only having the light that the plants can utilize is the key.
No mention is made of fertilizers; by "I use substrate" did you mean one of the enriched substrates for plants? That is fine, but you may need to add a liquid fertilizer as well, depending upon the plant species, and how many plants there are. Not all plants can make use of nutrients in the substrate.
The fact that algae is increasing means simply that there is too much light, or more accurately, the duration is too long. At this point I would cut it back to 12 hours and monitor. If you are not adding any fertilizer, I would. A good one is Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium as it contains all essential nutrients and is the most complete fert available in preparation.
A last word on algae treatments: do not use these. If they are strong enough to kill algae, they will undoubtedly be detrimental to the plants. And may be harmful to the fish and bacteria. Remove what you can of the algae by hand and try the afore-mentioned suggestions. After a couple weeks if algae is still increasing--note, I said increasing, there will always be algae in a healthy tank, we just work to keep it in check--reduce the duration further down to 10 hours.
Thanks everyone for your help - We're going to figure out a way to monitor the lighting situation! :-D
Byron, thank you for your insight! It certainly helps a lot! I do have plant fertilizer in "substrate" and I also use API Leaf Zone as a fertilizer/plant food for my plants which I add once a week; the merchant at the store told me it was a good choice. What is your familiarty with CO2 cannisters and are they really much more beneficial than plant fertilizer?
Again, it's all about balance. Plants require 17 nutrients. Flourish is the only product to contain all of them [aside from oxygen, hydrogen and carbon which no plant fert contains]. Without the 17 nutrients, plants cannot photosynthesize fully, and this is where the light issue comes in.
Plants grow according to the "Liebig's law of minimum" that a botanist named Liebig formulated. It states that plants will grow up to the limiting factor--the point at which some nutrient or light is no longer available. In an aquarium, we aim to have light as the limiting factor, because light in excess of the available nutrients--all 17 of them--means algae has the advantage.
Now to CO2. Carbon is an essential macro-nutrient for plants. It is one of the 17 nutrients, so technically speaking it is not a substitute for fertilizer. In a "natural" or as some call it low-tech method, carbon occurs as CO2 from the fish and bacteria. In hard water with high carbonates some plants can assimilate carbon from bicarbonates--Vallisneria is particularly adept at this. But most aquarium plants come from soft water regions and their uptake of carbon via bicarbonates is limited; mosses cannot use it at all. But back to the CO2, there is a lot more of it in a healthy aquarium than many aquarists believe, certainly sufficient for good plant growth depending upon the number and species of plants. If you have a look at the photos under my "Aquariums" below my name on the left, you will see tanks that I have maintained for more than 15 years with no CO2 added. But the growth of those plants is steady but relatively slow. Pumping CO2 into the tank would increase the carbon, but remembering that bit about balance, you also need to increase the light and the other 16 nutrients. Otherwise the CO2 is basically wasted.
The type of "method" depends upon your expectations. If you want plants to grow and be healthy and contribute to the overall health of the aquarium and fish, the natural approach works fine. If you want rapid plant growth, flowering, etc., then you will probably have to increase all the nutrients and light. There has to be a balance no matter what the method. Takashi Amano has beautiful high-tech tanks; they have three times the light intensity I use, CO2 diffusion, and daily--yes, daily--injection of copious amounts of nutrients to balance. My natural method uses weekly Flourish doses and minimal light. The fish are happier with less light, the plants are growing, the tank is naturally balanced so it costs less--I'm happy with the result.
Thanks again for the great insight! Are you a marine biologist? Your intelligence on the subject matter is quite impressive.
Btw, Your tanks are beautiful
I have 2 tanks, a 40g and a 20g, both of which I'm trying to develop into beautiful healthy aquariums! Thanks for the advice on the plant fertilizer, i will probably purchase a bottle tomorrow for use - really appreciate all the advice
If I haven't mentioned them, the 4 articles at the head of the Aquarium Plants section entitled "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" will give you a basic background as to how all this fits together for success. It is only one method, but about the simplest, and it does work.
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