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Discussion Starter #1
I have a dark green to black algae growing on my plastic plants. I can't stand it. Is there any easy way to get rid of it? Or am I better off just replacing them? I've tried scrubbing with a toothbrush, and pieces of plant just break off.
 

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If the plant is breaking up when u just scrub it then it's definetly not too good for the tank. I would replace :D
 

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What are your phosphate levels? How long do you leave your lights on? What kind of light is running, and what are the tank stats for size, filtration, feeding, etc...?
What kind of fish are in the tank?
Plastic plants will tend to get brittle after a long time in a tank, so need to be replaced when they show signs of breaking. Silk plants tend to last a lot longer and are easier to clean, plus look more natural. If there are no vegetarian fish in the tank, I would suggest adding some live plants to the tank.
 

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I don't measure phosphates. THe lights are on 12 hours a day. Actually, this happens to be the 'cleanes' tank, which I've always found a little unusual, but perhaps its due to the low stock -- 1 (sunset?) gourami, 3 checker barbs and 2 harlequin rasboras (20gal)? Of course, its the only one without live plants and during gravel washes, the water generally has a green tint. I used to have plants in there, but they died when I moved them.....swords mostly......I also had a big ammonia spike a while back (year ago) and pH hike that appeared to kill off all the snails (and a gourami I had at the time -- the water was always so clear, I'd often skip water changes...learned my lesson).... the snails never made much of a comeback.

I never even heard of silk plants for aquariums! I will check them out and maybe experiment with some live plants as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I think I'd have to put in a bunch of plants, cause I've put in a few small plants, and they just got covered in this dark algae. I don't have much gravel to hold down plants.
 

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What do your nitrate and phosphate levels look like? 12 hrs is quite a lot of light for a freshwater tank, especially without live plants in there. I would cut the time down to 8 - 10 hrs/day and check those levels before deciding what to do... algae won't go away and stay away unless you first identify the cause and then fix THAT.
 

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Andrew's aquarium with the live plants is gorgeous! (I have vegetarian fish, so the live plants just end up getting eatern).

RE: silk plants vs. plastic, the silk plants are much nicer and any lfs that sells the plastic ones will likely sell the silk plants as well.
 

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love_my_fish said:
I think I'd have to put in a bunch of plants, cause I've put in a few small plants, and they just got covered in this dark algae. I don't have much gravel to hold down plants.
IMHO live plants are much more attractive than artificial plants and will help with nitrate concentration reduction.

There are several species of live plants which are "idiot proof" (I know this because mine are alive and I am using them to gain experience).

Pls. don't "sweat" the shallow bottom cover as this situation can be easily overcome.

You will have the same problem with any objects (incluing the walls) in your aquarium becoming algae covered unless you control your lighting period and feeding. From what you have said I am somewhat suprised that you have not reported an algae bloom also.

The brown algae which you describe is the hardest to get rid of (or a least was for me but I did not have much).

TR
 

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Ok, a few things I want to cover here quick. After rereading the whole thread, I am curious about the green water during "gravel washing"? Can you please explain about how you are washing the gravel and how often?
As for depth of the substrate being too shallow to hold plants, then I would have to suggest making it a bit deeper. The gravel bed is important for keeping the tank stable because its a huge contribution for surface area for bacteria growth. If I read the post correctly, it sounds as if the gravel is being removed for washing? If this is the case, then please, stop. Washing the gravel outside of the tank, especially if using tap water to do it, is one of the most dangerous things to do in any aquarium. There are tools designed to vaccuum the gravel bed safely, I would strongly suggest using one of those if not doing so now.
As for the debate over using live plants, even if the fish are vegetarian fishes, there are still a handful of plants they don't tend to eat. If you need this list, please let me know and I'll post it for you.
 

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BB:

Glad you picked up on the exterior "washing business".
I never would have.

What I was more thinking about rather than changing the entire bottom was:

Pots with large holes for root growth and soil ferts in the locations selected for "planted" plants with the gravel mounded around the pots and
Anubias attached to rocks, wood, etc.

LMF could easily implement this and with the correct "planted" plants LMF could enjoy watching her plants grow.

LMF with the correct plants and water conditions you can actually observe growth on a daily basis (I can with my plants).
BB can probably suggest a better selection of "idiot proof" plants than what I have.

Once again I am just trying to gain experience with my "idiot proof" plants in order that I can grow plants such as laces and other "exotic" plants.

TR
 

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Can we please not use the phrase "idiot proof"? I find that offensive. Any plant can be easy if conditions are right, it's a matter of choosing them according to the conditions in the tank.
I'm not sure what was meant by "soil fertilizers", but regular fertilizers used in gardening are highly toxic to fish. IF fertilizers are needed, which they are not always, then its important to use "aquarium plant fertilizers" that are meant for aquarium plants and are safe for the animals.
It is possible to plant potted aquatic plants, but they don't grow the best that way. The root structures soon will overgrow the pots, and this can harm the plant if the pot is too small or as the plants grow, and it makes using fertilizer more difficult because each pot has to be targeted with tablet type fertilizer pellets. The better way, the easier way, is still going to be adding some more gravel to the tank, as it should be at least 1 - 2 inches deep to begin with. The deeper gravel bed will help in many ways, including any fish that might need to hide in it, such as loaches. The bacteria culture that thrives in the gravel bed is very important for keeping the water quality stable. Anchoring the rooted plants will be much easier. I stand by my earlier advice of increasing the amount of gravel at the bottom of the tank, even if not using live plants.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
bettababy said:
I am curious about the green water during "gravel washing"? Can you please explain about how you are washing the gravel and how often?As for depth of the substrate being too shallow to hold plants, then I would have to suggest making it a bit deeper. The gravel bed is important for keeping the tank stable because its a huge contribution for surface area for bacteria growth. If I read the post correctly, it sounds as if the gravel is being removed for washing? If this is the case, then please, stop. Washing the gravel outside of the tank, especially if using tap water to do it, is one of the most dangerous things to do in any aquarium.
Okay, okay, let me clear things up. This particular tank has probably the clearest water of all my tanks. It is the only one where I do not keep live plants, as the dark algae has killed them in the past. I have maybe an inch of gravel at most. I lost some gravel when I re-set up the tank about 3+ years ago (after moving). It is also more pebble sized -- maybe 1 cm diameter. I did have plants grow sucessfully long ago (before the move).

About the green water -- I do not wash the gravel outside the tank. I meant, when I vacuum the gravel, the water coming up appears light green in color, sometimes very green. But not much debris at all (compared to my other tanks).

I checked my light timer -- it was set to 14 hours! I use this timer for 2 other, planted tanks. I reduced the time to 12 hours (when the question came up). So that is probably part of the problem.

I got a phosphate kit and I compared my tap water, to a planted tank, to this tank and the results were: 0.25, about 1.0, and between 1.0 and 2.5 respectively. So there are definately some phosphates.
 
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