5 Gallon Anubias and Sword Plant Tank
I just moved my 5 gallon tank to my computer desk right now and took some pictures of it, along with some pics of the plants and this algae growth I have going on. I currently have a betta fish along with some Anubias and a smaller Sword plant. I've had this setup going for a while and its been maintaining great thanks to some help with my lighting from Byron a few months back or even longer. I currently have it on 6 hours of light a day with a 10 watt 6500k CFL. I did have it on 8 hours of light, but that was giving me too much algae. The 6 hours of light still gives it some algae but not as much. I currently do not give any nutrients to the plants but I would like to start.
I have a couple questions for this tank. The first question is, how can I keep this algae down? I would say that it comes back within a week after scrubbing it off with a scrubber. The second question is.....how can I get these plants to flourish and grow more rapidly? The Anubias has maintaned, and even doubled in size in the past 3 or 4 months, but the sword plant has declined in growth and actually looks worse than when I bought it.
I have read a couple articles about the algae, and from what I understand is that there will always be some algae in a tank with lighting. I have also read that co2 helps with plant growth a lot but can cost 300 dollars or more. I'm not sure if this price range is correct for a dinky 5 gallon tank, but I just don't have that kind of money. I've kept these plants alive, now I would like to take it one step further....Thanks for the help in advance! :-D
Liquid fertilizer, such as flourish comprehensive can help keep algae down as it effectively allows the planst to out-grow the algae, by depriving it of nutriets for growth. More plants, especially fast growing ones, would also help in taking nutrients away from the algae - i'd suggest some amazon pennywort or some wisteria (hygrophila difformis). Plus your betta would enjoy some surface plant cover which these species could provide
As sik80 suggested, more plants will help as they out-compete the algae. And totally agree that floating plants would be very beneficial for this plus the Betta. Ceratopteris cornuta is ideal, native to Betta habitat too, but a good step plant allowed to float also works.
Anubias being a slow growing plant frequently attracts algae more than other plants, so this is to be expected. However, floating plants will help, as Anubias prefers shade rather than direct light.
As for CO2, that is un-necessary. I realize one Betta is not a host of fish producing CO2, but I have had plant-only tanks (no fish) run for months without CO2, just Flourish Comprehensive, and the plants grew though I admit not as much as in tanks with fish. Bacteria also produces CO2, more than fish actually, so that is undoubtedly part of the answer.
and don't forget- in a well stocked tank, the substrate produces more CO2 than the fish I bet.
Alright sounds great! I wanted to get more plants but I thought it might make more algae, I don't know why I thought this. Do nitrates have anything to do with algae? Another thing I was looking at is called Natural Aquarium Vital, it says its a liquid time released CO2 that doesn't cause pH shifts, and that it reduces the need for fertilization. Has anyone ever used this?
Nitrates indirectly contribute to algae. Algae is caused by light, and obviously some nutrients need to be present to feed it. High nitrate levels usually indicate the biological equilibrium is off or not balanced, caused for example by overfeeding, insufficient water changes, no or too few live plants, overcrowding fish. Nitrates should never be allowed to go above 20ppm; although higher is not perhaps dangerous to most fish, it is a fact that in nature fish live in water that is zero or near zero in nitrates, assuming it is healthy and all that. So this tells us that no fish are expecting to be in water with nitrates, therefore low nitrate is probably going to mean better fish health.
Live plants will always reduce nitrates, and in well-planted tanks that are balanced it is common to have nitrates at 0-5 ppm or maybe 10 max if there are more fish. Plants need nitrogen, and they prefer it as ammonium which comes from ammonia, and plants are faster at grabbing it than bacteria, so the bacteria are fewer with live plants (assuming again a balanced fish load) and this means less ammonia is converted by bacteria to nitrite and less nitrite to nitrate. Many plants can assimilate nitrite and nitrate as their nitrogen as well, but studies have shown that it is "more work" because they have to change the nitrite and nitrate back into ammonium; so it is easier for the plants to simply grab the ammonium/ammonia.
Algae of course is a plant; higher plants are better at utilizing nutrients and thus out-compete algae, all else being equal. But if the light is greater than the available nutrients, plants can't use it and will slow or cease photosynthesizing, and algae is quick to take advantage. And of course slower-growing plants use less nutrients and thus less light, so algae is even faster with Anubias. Adding your floating plants will significantly alter this balance in favour of the plants and not algae.
To your second question, my direct answer is short: I don't know, having never used this product or even seen it. However, I would caution you that it is not something i would myself try, at least not without knowing a great deal about it. Excel is also a carbon supplement, and i have frequently recommended against using it. These products set up a new level of balance, and light and the other nutrients must also be increased or the plants cannot gain from the extra carbon. And as we noted earlier in this thread, there is quite a lot of CO2 occurring naturally in all aquaria.
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