Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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noledoc 12-12-2010 02:17 AM

Barley Straw for control of Algae
A number of years ago I started seeing comments about using barley straw to create a sort of tea or extract that helps control algae. What is the state of this approach? Does it work, on what type algae and for how long?

bettababy 12-12-2010 03:51 AM

Barley straw is most often found in small bales that are floated in ponds to help control algae, in particular the suspended algae, otherwise known as "pea soup". Yes, it does work if enough barley is floated for a long enough period of time, however, if you're looking for an instant algae fix, barely straw in any form will not give you that.

There are other effective ways to rid yourself of an algae problem, but first you would need to specify what type of algae you're dealing with and then we would start looking for the cause. The best, healthiest way is to eliminate the cause. In some cases when the cause is identified as something that can't be eliminated, such as heavy phosphate or organics in tap water, then there are filter medias to help eliminate the initial problem, which then resolves the algae issue.

If you are dealing with an algae issue and want some help, please list your tank/pond info as thoroughly as possible, including water parameters for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH, and what animals are in it, maintenance schedule, etc. and I would be more than happy to help you sort it out. The more info you provide the faster I can help.

thefishboy 12-12-2010 04:21 AM

Ive used barley straw in my pond to keep it clear but i have never tried it in the aquarium..

noledoc 12-12-2010 12:46 PM

Preparing for the Mean Green Machine Algae
Thank you. I've been chased out of my home by a tornado that took out one end back six weeks ago. The changes in the house are requiring my wife and I to stay in a motel but we hope to be home by Christmas. When we do get home and settle in, I'll have the 1st chance in twenty years to set up fish tanks. One of them hopefully will be a huge >500 gal tank. This is a work in progress now. I haven't been in the fish hobby in many years so I'm in the steep relearning curve now. I believe it is much better to go in prepared than the alternative. Thanks for your help.

bettababy 12-12-2010 07:15 PM

You're welcome. So sorry to hear about your house, that is so sad. I hope things get better for you very soon!

The new tank project sounds great, but I would not suggest using barely to control algae. The easiest way to control algae is to maintain clean water and work with either live plants or filter media to keep up with the nutrient level. Do you know what animals you are intending to put into that tank? I'm sure I could offer some suggestions to help.

I have 12 tanks up and running at present (took a few smaller ones down to accommodate space for the pair of 215 gallon tanks I just put up). There are only 2 tanks in my house that ever need to be scraped for algae... my 120 goldfish tank from time to time and my 75 gallon geophagus tank. This was one reason for the bigger tanks. When the fish outgrew the tanks they are currently in the nutrient level went up much faster and much higher, which feeds the algae. Once the fish are relocated to appropriate sized tanks the algae problem will again disappear. Because I'm not able to keep these tanks planted (goldfish eat the plants and geos dig them all up) that made for more manual labor to keep the water clean.

I am not fond of scraping algae, so there is extra motivation to keep my tanks as I do. Most of my tanks get a weekly water change, some as little as once/month, and none ever has a nitrate level over 10. Gravel vacs also are seldom done in my tanks because there is nothing to suck up out of it. The few attempts I have made at gravel vacs simply brought up clear water.

I don't use fertilizers in any of my tanks, the only chemical that goes in is water conditioner, and even that is minimal. If a tank is maintained using natural balance, the amount of work to keep it healthy and looking awesome is very little. The larger the tank the easier this balance is to achieve. If you post some of your ideas for your new tank I would be more than happy to offer you suggestions to accomplish the same thing.

noledoc 12-12-2010 07:55 PM

The Big Aquarium Dream Tank
I want the size as close to 12 - 16 feet long x 30" x 30" as I can get. Complete it should look like a slice out of a natural living stream. It would be a community tank, planted with H20 parameters suitable for angels, soft, acidic and about 77*. If the tank is closer to 16 feet, it will hold just under 700 gals once substrate etc is taken into account.

I want the tank this long in order to use driftwood and plants to create subdivisions so that several different dwarf cichlids pairs can set up shop.

I plan to have circa 18 angels and a dozen each of two dwarf corys. Two additional schools of harl rasbora and possible cardinal tetras of 30 each. Maybe some platys just to add color. I'll likely put in some shrimp as well.

That's the dream so far. The big hurdle will be either have a suitable tank built in my basement (steel and glass) or buy two big tanks and put them side by side.

Whew!! Your ideas are welcome.

bettababy 12-12-2010 09:40 PM

That sounds amazing, however, if you order something with those dimensions its going to cost a small fortune because it will need to be custom built. The standard tanks, even if you're working with 200+ gallon tanks, still won't give you the 30 x 30 you're looking for. Standard manufactured tanks of that size, the widest (front to back) you're going to find is 24 inches. Anything else would be considered a custom order...

The other thing I can see possibly causing you some issue is the stock list if you end up putting 2 - 3 tanks together side by side to get the effect you're looking for. 18 angels in even a 200 gallon tank would be pushing the limits, not just with waste but with territory. Angels can be very territorial, especially when spawning.
As an example for you, my current angels started out 6 of them together in a 65 gallon until they were too large, then all 6 moved to the 90 gallon. The 6 angels paired up, leaving me with 3 pairs that all decided to spawn at about the same time (within a few days of each other) and what happened next was a nightmare... the fighting going on between the pairs was constant and damaging. They shredded each other's fins horribly within a few days, forcing me to rearrange my tanks to accommodate 1 pair per tank. 2 pairs in the 90 gallon, even fully planted, didn't even work... it just was not enough territory for them. Now, if you start out with 18 of them, even if you get 3 or 4 pairs out of that 18 (likely you'll get at least that), the amount of territory they claim and protect for their eggs and fry would never allow that many angels to stay together in the same tank, even 200+ gallons. You might want to rethink the angel population a bit...

Watch your stocking levels in each tank if you end up with more than one tank to create your 16 ft long display. Remember that when you work with such large groups you are likely to see a good deal of spawning if everything is healthy, which will leave you with a lot more fish than you started with. What starts out as a properly stocked tank can quickly become a mess this way. It would be a good idea to have some extra tanks set up for this purpose. The extra tanks can be used for quarantine tanks until you need them for fry or holding tanks until you can find an outlet for the new fry.

Another suggestion, before you stock anything, check with your lfs's and find out what species they are willing to take from you before you end up with fry, and what they require for size/age to take them.

Another thing to watch are the dwarf cichlid pairs mixed into a tank with angelfish. Even at 16 ft long, you can still end up with conflict if the angels are able to inhabit dwarf territory. Dividing the tank using driftwood sounds like a great idea and would look awesome, however... you cannot expect the fish to each stay in their own specific area if there is a way around it, and you'd be quite surprised at how creative a fish can be when it comes to getting through tight places... especially if they are motivated by wanting to claim more territory or munch down another species that is just beyond that barrier.

Be prepared to spend a large amount of money on light fixtures if you intend live plants for such a set up. There are many options available, so I would strongly urge you to do your homework on lighting before you build or order such a tank. I would hate to see you end up with a mess because you can't swing the lighting it would take to fully plant a tank that large. And, lastly... be selective on plants. Focus your plants according to lighting and depth of tank, temp tolerance, and compatibility with each other. Not all plants can go together, just as not all species of fish will mix together.

This whole project can be broken down into phases with focus on each phase allowing you to coordinate it all properly. Plants and lighting should be a phase of their own. Fish would be a phase, substrate and filtration together as 1 phase, etc. etc.

If you take your time and don't try to rush into anything, do your homework and ask lots of questions, there is no reason why most of this dream cannot become a reality that is both beautiful and easy to care for.

Best of luck to you, feel free to post as many questions as needed. I will do all I can to help you get it sorted out.

noledoc 12-13-2010 04:49 PM

Bettababy Shares Wisdom!
I'll need to read your post over and over to make sure I get all there is to get from your words. Sounds like the summary of a bestseller on building large tanks!
I'm at the stage where I'm considering much and deciding on little. With the help from my new mentors here on TFK, I think that someday "Dad's Big Aquarium Dream" will change from family joke to beautiful reality.
Thanks so much Dawn!

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