What to do about algae?

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What to do about algae?

Post  dleblanc on 2014-03-07, 14:49

I've read all sorts of stuff about this - currently having a fight with some algae. Spoke with Cory about it, his take is I have too much light. I've cut it back from 11 hours/day to 9, have a recommendation to drop it down to less, but to do that, I have to get another timer, as the other tank doesn't need to drop back that much. Got a dimmer showing up soon to back down the PAR.

Basics about the tank - ammonia, nitrate, nitrite all 0, phosphates 0, 4-5 degrees KH, CO2 injected to 6.8-6.9 pH (15-20ppm CO2). It has been running almost 5 months. Had algae come and go, but this stuff is being aggressive. Water changes are right now very frequent (roughly 20% every 2 days) using that to vacuum algae out, get rid of plant debris. Before the algae kicked in, was doing about 20% once a week. Fertilizing with just potassium right now.

Fish are 7 small to medium discus, 5 serape tetras, and 4 silver tips, feeding frozen bloodworms.

Also just added on Saturday more circulation - got a Fluval 306 canister, measured it at about 90-100 gph, which seems a bit slow for a 55 gallon tank. I think that will help over the long run.

I think I'm headed the right direction, but just looking for additional insight and feedback from people with more plant experience.
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  nick_76 on 2014-03-07, 15:07

i used to run the lights on my discus tanks from 4 am to 9-10 pm...and no algae. twice i had a bout with cyano, but generally i scrape my glass every two months ot so to clean off the biofilm, but never algae. in my saltwater tanks, the algae fight has been relentless but not because of light.

in other words, id say if youre having algae problems, light is not likely the culprit, but excess nutrients. i saw something somewhere once regarding algae and reef systems, in the wild algae is relatively uncommon despite intense photoperiods. why? the reef consumes all available nutrients more aggressively than the algae can. in a tank, they tend to build up faster than the inhabitants can absorb them. thats where filtration, tank hygeine and nutrient-competitive inhabitants (ie plants,&lots of em-for a freshwater tank) come into play. unfortunately, its easier to prevent algae than it is to eradicate
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  nick_76 on 2014-03-07, 15:09

also, 7 discus in a 55 gallon tank? start looking for a bigger tank, thats awfully cramped and will only get worse
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  dleblanc on 2014-03-07, 16:09

They're not very big discus, range from about 2" to 4" in diameter. When they get bigger, they can go live in the 190 that I'm building out. They're doing fine. The fact that I'm running zero nitrate tells me that the tank isn't overloaded in terms of the fish. If you go by the (very rough, flawed) inches of fish/gallon rule, I've only got about 31" of fish total in a 55, so that doesn't seem like an overload.

Though it could well be that the nutrients coming out of the nitrogen cycle aren't all getting consumed by the plants, which is helping the algae.

The main question is what techniques do people have to fight the stuff?
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  nick_76 on 2014-03-07, 16:37

i dont go by the inch/gallon. i like to allot 15 gallons/discus (although my breeding pair has had 35 gallons each). they may be small now, but where do you make the decision to move them? a specific inch size? when they start looking stressed and aggressive to each other? theres no such thing as giving a fish too much room, but the opposite is quite easy

another thing i heard in a lecture about algae is just because you see nothing on a test, doesnt mean its not a problem. in a saltwater tank, you can have excess phoshpates and not have it show up at all on the test. why? because the algae is keeping pace with the nutrients.
think of nutrients and algae in terms of ohms law...if you make changes to one leg, the others will adjust until an equillibrium is regained
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  DMD123 on 2014-03-07, 16:46

I have had some fish foods that must have had higher amounts of phosphates because when I fed them I noticed a significant amount of algae growth. Not trying to start any food debates but the type/brand of food has noticeable effects on tank maintenance.
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  dleblanc on 2014-03-07, 17:27

The inch/gallon rule is a very, very rough estimate, so I agree. The guy I got them from has been doing this for about 30 years, and advises moving them to the bigger tank when they hit roughly 5-6 inches. If I were having aggression problems, then I might adjust on that basis. How would you decide?

I need to manage with what I have for a couple more months - all the equipment for the 190 isn't here yet, and then I want to run it for a couple of months with a low fish load and plants before adding discus.

Very good point that what's feeding the algae may not show up in the water, as that's what they are eating. Something is causing all that biomass I keep vacuuming out! Happily, I put some effort into an easy to use water changing setup with a staging tank, so frequent water changes aren't difficult, and don't disturb the tank chemistry much.

The main feed for the discus (and the serpaes get the leftovers) are Hikari frozen bloodworms, getting the smaller cubes. They all are eaten in a few minutes. Haven't been around this forum long enough to know what the hot button topics are - I guess feed is one. At any rate, that's an additional data point.
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  DMD123 on 2014-03-07, 18:12

I was thinking an increase in phosphates from feeding pellet/flakes type foods.
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  Chiisai on 2014-03-07, 18:21

Is an algae eater not an option? I have yet to meet a fish that will attack a pleco(even my old dovii didnt bother them)
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  DMD123 on 2014-03-07, 18:23

A little bristle nose pleco would be a cool addition.
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  fishNAbowl on 2014-03-07, 18:26

There are good suggestions here however there are many types of algae that can develop in aquariums. We need to identify the type of algae that's plaguing your tank to zero in on what's causing excessive growth and to treat it.

In this link is a guide to different types of algae, what causes excessive growth and how to treat. Let us know if your algae is on this website.
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  dleblanc on 2014-03-07, 18:27

I have 2 otocinclus in there, both of which are having a major buffet. Maybe get a couple more? I don't want a large pleco - had one, gorgeous fish, but grew up to about 14", and pooped everywhere. There are plecos that are smaller, which would be a thought. Not sure whether more livestock is a solution, as this mess came on fairly suddenly, and I'm hoping will abate given the right countermeasures. Adding livestock is something I'd be interested in hearing other's thoughts on -
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  dleblanc on 2014-03-07, 18:35

fishNAbowl wrote:We need to identify the type of algae that's plaguing your tank to zero in on what's causing excessive growth and to treat it.

Looks most like 'hair/thread/fuzz'. It forms green cover on leaves, and then turns brown. My theory, which is possibly incorrect, is that it grows as green, and then dies back. Once it is brown, it tends to be fragile, and comes off easily, goes right up the siphon. If it is green, there is no getting it off, other than to prune back that leaf and get it out of the tank.

BTW, I have been fairly aggressive about taking covered leaves out, both to get as much algae matter out of the tank as possible, and to try to keep as much dead plant matter out as possible.
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  fishNAbowl on 2014-03-07, 20:10

There you go. Identification is the 1st step.


Here is a fix

"A high plant mass with good CO2 and a good supply of nutrients along with constantly hassling the algae seems to pay off after a while. Removal by twisting around a toothbrush or similar. Overdosing Flourish Excel, EasyCarbo or TNC Carbon can help. Amano shrimps, Rosy barbs and mollies will often eat it."

Bristle nosed plecos range from 4"-8" depending on species. In my opinion are an asset to aquariums. However, cleaner fish help with maintenance , but may not irradiate or fix your algae issue.


Last edited by fishNAbowl on 2014-03-08, 11:15; edited 1 time in total
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  bassetman on 2014-03-07, 20:38

You have zero nitrates? That is not a good thing. Are you sure you ran the test correctly? Zero nitrates means an un cycled tank.
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  dleblanc on 2014-03-07, 20:41

I am sure I ran the test correctly. Zero nitrates mean that plants and algae are consuming everything that is produced. Except for right after it initially cycled, it has been consistently zero. If it were not a heavily planted tank, then yes, I would expect to see some nitrates.
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  Chiisai on 2014-03-07, 20:59

Yeah IDK my heavily planted 10gal(AKA The Jungle) has 10ppm NItrates. I have never heard of a tank achieving 0ppm Nitrates after its established but I am not an expert
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  fishNAbowl on 2014-03-07, 22:30

140 gallon....
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Just tested water....
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0
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  MRTom on 2014-03-07, 22:47

Weird, I'm fairly color blind so don't take my word for it... but that looks darker than 0... Maybe a 3? Does your tap water give you the same result? (also, white backgrounds really help!)
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  fishNAbowl on 2014-03-07, 23:11

MRTom wrote:Weird, I'm fairly color blind so don't take my word for it... but that looks darker than 0... Maybe a 3? Does your tap water give you the same result? (also, white backgrounds really help!)
Yip, you are color blind Wink0, i change about 20% water per week. It's been 6 days since last water change . The tap is also reading 0
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  Chiisai on 2014-03-07, 23:39

If nitrates are 0 then how is algae forming? Doesn't algae feed off of nitrates and phosphates?
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  dleblanc on 2014-03-07, 23:41

I wish I could get a meter for all this stuff without spending a fortune - hate trying to sort out subtle differences in color.
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  dleblanc on 2014-03-07, 23:46

As Nick pointed out above, quite astutely, just because the water shows zero doesn't mean it isn't being produced. It is just being consumed by something. My plant vendor is telling me the trick is to get the plants going well enough to consume so many of the nutrients that the algae don't have a chance. If you were producing it faster than the plants and algae combined could consume, then it would show up as an excess.

That's one of the awful things - the algae covers the plants, slows them down, and the algae gets more. Our test kits aren't that sensitive anyway. I wish I knew more about the cell metabolism of the algae, and how to tell exactly what this is.
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  Chiisai on 2014-03-07, 23:58

Only thought I had is try the Ich medication Corey suggested Ich-X I beleive. Usually the key ingredient in most Ich medications is Malachite Green which is a dye. The dye (if I understand correctly) is used to block out a certain amount of light. I was looking at the Kordon bottle of Rid-Ich I have and it even says on the bottle "Treats Ich and algae blooms."
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Re: What to do about algae?

Post  Spen_G on 2014-03-08, 13:39

fishNAbowl wrote:

"A high plant mass with good CO2 and a good supply of nutrients along with constantly hassling the algae seems to pay off after a while. Removal by twisting around a toothbrush or similar. Overdosing Flourish Excel, EasyCarbo or TNC Carbon can help. Amano shrimps, Rosy barbs and mollies will often eat it."

 Spot On 
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Re: What to do about algae?

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