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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Algae has started growing in my tank. I just recently upgraded my lights and i believe i have excess lights and/or phosphates. After reading an article on another site and finding that excess phosphates could also cause algae i have gone and got a phosphate test kit. I am now in the process of trying to balance my ecosystem for max plant growth (for my personal set up) to help fight off the algae.

ammonia - 0ppm
nitrite - 0ppm
nitrate - 20ppm
phosphate - .5ppm

what do you think i should do to up plant growth and minimize algae? For the most part i have slow growing plants. Anubias, Crypts, and a little faster growing Wisteria.

This is in a 20g tall with 2 t5 ho lights. ZooMed Flora Sun 5000k and ZooMed Ultra Sun 6500k. Lights run about 7.5 hours a day. I want to get everything balanced before introducing CO2, from what i was reading, CO2 is really the last component in the balancing of a planted tank. Inert substrate and no ferts at this time.
 

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Seachem's flourish comprehensive once per week.

Are there fish in the tank? Plants grow better when there are and I don't see any listed in the profile... plants love the ammonia they produce. I doubt you are near needing CO2 until you get some fertilization going and see how they react.

I'm not sure you should be concerned with the phosphates, I've never measured so I don't know if I even have any to compare, but if you just did a 50% water change you could cut them in half.

Jeff.
 

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I wouldn't be so quick to add CO2, but that's up to you. On the surface it would just seem that the increased lighting has caused more algae to grow - perhaps just cut back on the duration of the lights?
 

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Is your tank in direct sunlight, perhaps from a window? This combined with intense lighting can also increase algae blooms. Maybe lessen ur tanks exposure to light, both natural and electrically sourced. The more plants added, the more they will overwhelm algae's absorption of nutrients in the tank too...Algae in a newer tank is common...once fish along with plants are cycled in successfully, usually the tank gets in a groove and blooms lessen. Some algae is normal, as it is a living organism like anything else, also a limited (very limited) presence means a successful habitat has been created....an abundance simply means an imbalance is present... I've had a planted tank running for over a year with fertz, lighting, co2, the works - there is still an occasional small bloom necessitating a glass scrub - but the above groove, water changes, plants, etc keeps it down....I had a huge algae bloom when this tank started too, Huge!.... Balance takes awhile to create..... In the meantime, can u share a pic of how large a bloom this is and ur tanks positioning in the room?
 

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What type of algae is appearing? Sometimes this requires a different approach to handle it. But we can generally say that light is presently your problem (assuming this algae is a green or red species). You have too much light to balance the minimal nutrients, so plants cannot use it and algae will take the advantage.

Phosphates is rarely the cause of algae, perhaps even never; Walstad mentions her tanks have between 1 and 5 mg/l (= ppm) phosphates, and she has (so she says) no algae issues.

Nitrates at 20ppm is on the high side. What is your water change routine? And have you tested the tap water on its own for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate?

I wasn't sure from your post...do you definitely intend on adding CO2 diffusion? Or was this just the next step to combat algae? If the latter, it won't.

I agree with the previous suggestion to up your complete nutrients via a liquid supplement. Flourish Comprehensive is good, or Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti. Also, be prepared to reduce the light period; two T5 HO tubes is a lot of light intensity. Was there a reason you upgraded? And what did you have previously (when presumably algae was not problematic)?

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thanks for the reply guys. I have recently heard a saying in this hobby that has starting helping me keep my cool when trying to achieve a certain status with my tank, "Nothing good happens fast in an aquarium." Thus i am prepared to take the time to get it right. As far as the CO2, from my most recent readings, i have decided to put it off until i have achieved the balance needed for the plants to out compete the algae. The tank has no direct sun light where it sits in my apartment. The glass has needed to be scrubbed maybe once a week but the algae is also starting to cover my plants so they don't look like that nice pretty green they were when they were new. I can't believe i left the details of my fish out! derr! haha. Currently 5 black phantom tetras and 3 Julii corys. I have 3 more phantoms and one more cory that are in QT bc they are new and i do not want them to bring anything in the main tank. That was a problem once already and i learned my lesson.

JDM... I always forget is the flourish or excel the "Liquid co2"?

Byron...Previous lighting was a single t8, i actually had the same ZooMed FloraSun 5000k. Upgraded to add more plants that had higher light requirements. Have not added them at this time as i am trying to take things slower now. Water change is about once a week (25%) and tap water has small traces of ammonia and nitrates. You meantion Walstad a lot. What is the title of the book please?
 

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Thanks for the reply guys. I have recently heard a saying in this hobby that has starting helping me keep my cool when trying to achieve a certain status with my tank, "Nothing good happens fast in an aquarium." Thus i am prepared to take the time to get it right. As far as the CO2, from my most recent readings, i have decided to put it off until i have achieved the balance needed for the plants to out compete the algae. The tank has no direct sun light where it sits in my apartment. The glass has needed to be scrubbed maybe once a week but the algae is also starting to cover my plants so they don't look like that nice pretty green they were when they were new. I can't believe i left the details of my fish out! derr! haha. Currently 5 black phantom tetras and 3 Julii corys. I have 3 more phantoms and one more cory that are in QT bc they are new and i do not want them to bring anything in the main tank. That was a problem once already and i learned my lesson.

JDM... I always forget is the flourish or excel the "Liquid co2"?

Byron...Previous lighting was a single t8, i actually had the same ZooMed FloraSun 5000k. Upgraded to add more plants that had higher light requirements. Have not added them at this time as i am trying to take things slower now. Water change is about once a week (25%) and tap water has small traces of ammonia and nitrates. You meantion Walstad a lot. What is the title of the book please?
Can you give us the number for the ammonia and nitrate in the tap water? And tell us which test kit.

The change from one T8 to two T5 HO was an increase in light intensity of roughly three times, so that is considerable. There is no doubt at all that this is the cause of the algae. Though I would still like to know which type. Any chance of a photo of some plants with this on the leaves?

Floating plants are good to help reduce the light intensity, along with lessening the duration. The aim is to find the balance.

Flourish Comprehensive Supplement is a nutrient supplement containing 14 of the 17 nutrients plants need (oxygen, hydrogen and carbon are not included). Flourish Excel is a liquid carbon supplement only, but I would not use it (in case you're thinking of doing so).

Walstad's main book is Ecology of the Planted Aquarium. It is quite technical in places...just so you know.;-)

Byron.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I am in search of water lettuce at this time for a floating plant. Its root structure will be better for my tank and the breeding of my tetras in comparison to other popular floating plants.

test is in progress. I use all API liquid tests. will edit momentarily with results.
**results of tap water test**
ammonia .5ppm
nitrites 0ppm
nitrates 5ppm


I will have to look for that book. Thanks. "Quite technical" may be an understatement we learning to control parts of nature ;)

this is the best pic i could get as of now. this is the algae on the leaves of the anubias nana
 

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I am in search of water lettuce at this time for a floating plant. Its root structure will be better for my tank and the breeding of my tetras in comparison to other popular floating plants.

test is in progress. I use all API liquid tests. will edit momentarily with results.
**results of tap water test**
ammonia .5ppm
nitrites 0ppm
nitrates 5ppm


I will have to look for that book. Thanks. "Quite technical" may be an understatement we learning to control parts of nature ;)

this is the best pic i could get as of now. this is the algae on the leaves of the anubias nana
OK, I would follow previous suggestions from others and me, to dose Flourish once weekly (the day following the water change), reduce light duration by one hour, and floating plants. Regular weekly water change of half the tank volume.

To the ammnia and nitrate i the tap, these numbers are not too bad so they can be controlled. At the water change, a conditioner that detoxifies ammonia especially would be advisable, as this deals with the initial influx. By the time it wears off the plants and bacteria/archaea will handle it. More substantial water changes as suggested will deal with the nitrates better as it will reduce those occurring in the tank. Keeping nitrate below 10ppm is wise.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
If/when i add more plants, would it be okay to start increasing light hours then or is it more about the intensity than the duration for plant growth?

Flourish...excel? comprehensive? ...

I use NutraFin Cycle and AquaPlus every water change. Are you suggesting using something other than those at the time of water change to help damper the harm ammonia can cause to fish?
 

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If/when i add more plants, would it be okay to start increasing light hours then or is it more about the intensity than the duration for plant growth?
Not likely, though possibly.:lol: If the light intensity is too great, it will still cause trouble. Now, the more plants, the more they take up nutrients and this does inhibit algae. But there is a limit to this.

Flourish...excel? comprehensive? ...
Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium, to give it the full name. Do not use Excel.

I use NutraFin Cycle and AquaPlus every water change. Are you suggesting using something other than those at the time of water change to help damper the harm ammonia can cause to fish?
I would change both. Tetra Aqua+ does not deal with ammonia. Nutrafin Cycle does not either, in fact it may increase it. Cycle is OK in new tanks to help "seed" the tank, though there are better and more reliable and faster products for this. But used regularly, there is no advantage. I know the product says to use it frequently, but they are trying to sell it.

You want a conditioner that handles ammonia, and there are several. Some also handle nitrite, and one (Prime) also handles nitrate. However, your nitrate is not high enough to warrant this, and I don't like using Prime except in new tanks since it does more than is necessary and the less "stuff" we mess with in an aquarium, the better.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You **ARE** an invaluable resource. derp!

Just dosed my first dose of Flourish Comp. Any idea of first possible signs that its doing what it should? Im going to try to keep a daily log photographically as well to help me judge. Wish me luck! (also reduced lights running time by 1 hour. now running from 8am to 4 pm)
 

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You **ARE** an invaluable resource. derp!

Just dosed my first dose of Flourish Comp. Any idea of first possible signs that its doing what it should? Im going to try to keep a daily log photographically as well to help me judge. Wish me luck! (also reduced lights running time by 1 hour. now running from 8am to 4 pm)
You won't see a difference in a day.;-) I usually go by week to week. I fertilize one week, then the next, then the next. If plants are doing well, I stay with it; if not I change something, depending. Things are different in every tank, even among my 7 I see differences and have to adjust accordingly.
 

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Reducing light exposure and nutrients should help. However, remember that once you had a bloom, you may experience this again in the future. Spring time is usually "the" time for algae to make their apparition. Nothing out of the unusual in nature's clock.

Note that algae have a superior capacity to absorb nutrients than plants do, especially in a low biologically active ecosystem (such as your aquarium). If you look at your filters and see on it the same color as the one on your plant, it might be a sign that your aquarium is poor in nitrifying and phosphate eating bacteria.

Last but not least, your plants have a higher absorption ability if the nutrients are broken down to the closest to their molecular structure. In other terms, bacteria will metabolize and mineralize any organic matter they come in contact with, thus releasing nutrients your plants and fish need. So fertilizers are ok, but in a poor active aquarium, they might favor algae growth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
In the meantime, can u share a pic of how large a bloom this is and ur tanks positioning in the room?
I will get a pic of the tank for you tomorrow. The placement in the room is not an issue as its on the east wall and bc of the other apartment buildings behind ours, there is no possible way for it to get direct sunlight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
**edit**
wow that pic came out a lot darker than it looked on my phone haha. The tank is on the left, records in the middle, glass door behind the couch.

here is the tank location in the living room. Sliding glass door/window faces SW. As I said previously, there is another building directly out that glass door, blocking any direct light during sun sets.

Will update in a little bit with a pic of the tank and the algae. Its already been cleaned from the glass but is still on the plants. Just waiting for the lights to come on.



Left

Center

Right


None of the leaves are dead, the brown leaves have algae on them. Also i noticed some of the same brownish algae in the filter also. "it might be a sign that your aquarium is poor in nitrifying and phosphate eating bacteria." What do you mean by that? The beneficial bacteria may not be up to par?
 

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You just need to get some floating plants. And the light duration I mentioned earlier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
okay. Light duration has already been dropped some. I have a guy that sells Water Lettuce, but he is outta state and waiting on his license to distribute it to be approved. How much of the water surface should be covered by plants? as much as possible?
 
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