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Old 06-01-2012, 11:04 PM   #1
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Dazed and Confused!

First off, I discovered this site tonight and have spent the last 90 minutes surfing it. Great community!

I have a problem and need some advice if you could please help me. I have been a fish tank enthusiast for 20+ years but for the first time I have set up a planted tank (always dreamed of it...not so much lately...). Bottom line is that I cannot seem to get my plants to flourish, I'm battling an algae problem that seems to be getting worse quickly, and I have out of control snails. Let's tackle the plants & algae for now.

- 30 gallon tank
- Lights on for about 11 hours per day, dual lamp Coralife T5 HO full spectrum
- Weekly I change 10% to 15% of my water.
- I have only 8 neons, 1 dwarf gourami, and 2 algae eaters. All healthy.
- I have many plants in the tank of mixed variety. Got them online via a kit from an aquatic plant dealer.
- I have tried different dosing schedules of the Seachem line (I got 'em all)
- Injecting CO2 with a diffuser, homemade concoction, don't know my CO2 levels though
- Nitrates seem to range from 40 to 120 when I test them. Ammonia and nitrites are perfect.

For several months my tank was doing "okay", but the plants weren't really growing much. Pretty stagnant. About three months ago I made three changes:

1. I bought the Coralife lighting (had T8 junker lighting before)
2. I put in the CO2 system
3. I backed off the recommended dosing from the plant supplier and started following Seachem's dosing schedule on the bottles. The supplier's dosing was 2x to 3x of Seachem's.

Since these three changes my algae problem seems to be accelerating. It is a slimy green algae on everything. Also, my plants seem to have greenish/blackish algae spots covering their leaves. None of the plants are dying, they just aren't thriving. When I do a thorough cleaning of the tank it looks great within 2 weeks it is disgusting.

I just want to get the algae under control...I don't understand where I'm going wrong with this. Can anyone spot what I have done wrong??
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Old 06-02-2012, 02:27 AM   #2
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What kind of filtration are you using?
Ok, first off your nitrates are much to high. You'll need to stop dosing Seachem Nitrogen until your nitrates are around 5ppm. You'll need to do some big water changes to get them there while feeding your fish very lightly. 50% changes every 2 weeks to weekly is the standard for planted tanks. Try to do at least 2 50% changes a week until the nitrates get to about 20ppm or so. It's hard to imagine you wouldn't have algae if it's that high (I sure would). Try reducing your light schedule to about 6-8 hours a day for a few weeks. That's an easy way to start helping cure some of your ails. I'm sure it'll start looking great after a bit.
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Old 06-02-2012, 02:54 AM   #3
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What wattage is the light fixture?
what plants do you have? Some only grow very slow.
What and how often are you dosing?
Planted tanks are a big balancing act between light, ferts and co2. I would guess you have a lot more nutrients and light supplied for the amount of co2 capabilities on a diy system. Especially if you are using a hang on back filter which of gases the co2 very quickly. Any one of them out of wack and you get algae.
I would definitely stop dosing anything more than the Flourish comprehensive(if you are dosing this, should probably reduce also) and cut back the lighting schedule to 8 hours. Nitrates should be ~20ppm for plants.
How often do you change your co2 concoction?
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Old 06-02-2012, 10:19 AM   #4
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Thanks for the responses! I really am pulling my hair out on this as I go through the learning curve. To answer questions:

- the lamps are 39 watts, so a total of 78 watts for a 30 gallon, 36" long tank.
- filter is a bio wheel hang on back
- plants include hairgrass, lilaeopsis, rotala, a lily, moneywort, wisteria, Cryptocorynes, and others. All told about 30 plants including some bunches.
- I also used Eco Complete for substrate which adds to the nutrients.
- My CO2 cocktail lasts about 3 weeks, about 13 bubbles/minute

Dosing suggested by the plant supplier:
- 7 ml nitrogen, 15 ml Potassium three times weekly
- 5 ml trace, 15 ml phosphorus three times weekly
- 3 ml Excel daily
- 2 ml iron three times weekly

Seachem dosing recommendations are much less than the above. I did make the mistake of assuming Excel was no longer needed when I started the CO2 injection as I thought one replaced the other. Sounds like many believe Excel has some algae fighting abilities.
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Old 06-02-2012, 12:37 PM   #5
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Your not really doing anything wrong other than a little to high of a light to co2 ratio and changing out less light than needed for your tank. Bio-wheel filters are excellent for fish tanks but they are notorious for lowering co2. If you could replace the wheels for biological sponges inside the filter it would be a good idea. Marineland claims they efficiently oxygenate water and they sure do, to the detriment of co2. They also produce masses of nitrate. If you have a canister filter squirreled away from one of your old tanks that would be another option.

As far as ferts go Seachem is great but expensive for the type of dosing your doing. Ever thought about making your own? It's pretty easy and saves lots of money along with simplifying things (only 2 bottles needed to dose). I can give you some links to help you out.
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Old 06-03-2012, 09:09 AM   #6
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One of those t5ho bulbs is enough to grow all the plants you have. You have way too much light and not enough (or stable) co2. I suggest raising the light fixture to at least 8"-12" from the surface of the water if possible. Also you should be performing larger water changes, at least 50% to lower those N levels.

Like CorallineAlgae said you should really look into using dry ferts. It will save you a ton of money in the long run.
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Old 06-03-2012, 10:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IowaGuy
Thanks for the responses! I really am pulling my hair out on this as I go through the learning curve. To answer questions:

- the lamps are 39 watts, so a total of 78 watts for a 30 gallon, 36" long tank.
- filter is a bio wheel hang on back
- plants include hairgrass, lilaeopsis, rotala, a lily, moneywort, wisteria, Cryptocorynes, and others. All told about 30 plants including some bunches.
- I also used Eco Complete for substrate which adds to the nutrients.
- My CO2 cocktail lasts about 3 weeks, about 13 bubbles/minute

Dosing suggested by the plant supplier:
- 7 ml nitrogen, 15 ml Potassium three times weekly
- 5 ml trace, 15 ml phosphorus three times weekly
- 3 ml Excel daily
- 2 ml iron three times weekly

Seachem dosing recommendations are much less than the above. I did make the mistake of assuming Excel was no longer needed when I started the CO2 injection as I thought one replaced the other. Sounds like many believe Excel has some algae fighting abilities.
Add a few siamese flying fox fish,if what you have is hair algea they'll destroy it while your working on getting the rest of your issues under control..
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Old 06-03-2012, 11:20 AM   #8
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Flying fox does not equal siamese algae eater... you could try adding a few, but I would try a few other things before resorting to adding a fish to help with a problem - unless you really like the fish. If you were to get SAEs, make sure they are true SAEs, as they are often confused with other look alikes like flying foxes which are far less effective at eating algae, especially as they age.

I also agree with a few of the views expressed above. Your CO2 output is basically non-existent. 13BPS would not raise the tank much above equilibrium with the air, and slightly elevated and unstable CO2 levels are worse for algae than no CO2 injection at all. I would either kill half the light, or get CO2 up to around 1BPS minimum.

What is your nitrate testing at (sorry if you posted it already and I missed)?
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Old 06-03-2012, 12:35 PM   #9
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Follow Up Info

First off, thanks for all of the suggestions. I really do want to conquer this!

Here are the steps I have taken thus far:
1. Yesterday did a 50% water change, and will repeat that 2x weekly until nitrates get under control.
2. Turned my light down to 7.5 hours.
3. Removed the bio wheel from the filter until I buy a new filter that agitates the surface less (open to suggestions).

I didn't realize I needed to make such big water changes even if the tank were in balance. I'm thinking back to my days of a FW tank with silk plants which I had great success with. Those tanks I didn't have to do hardly anything with to keep them clean and crystal clear.

Today nitrates are reading somewhere between 40 PPM and 80 PPM. My API test kit doesn't distinguish between the levels very well...but clearly they are higher than they should be.
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Old 06-03-2012, 02:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fort384
Flying fox does not equal siamese algae eater... you could try adding a few, but I would try a few other things before resorting to adding a fish to help with a problem - unless you really like the fish. If you were to get SAEs, make sure they are true SAEs, as they are often confused with other look alikes like flying foxes which are far less effective at eating algae, especially as they age.

I also agree with a few of the views expressed above. Your CO2 output is basically non-existent. 13BPS would not raise the tank much above equilibrium with the air, and slightly elevated and unstable CO2 levels are worse for algae than no CO2 injection at all. I would either kill half the light, or get CO2 up to around 1BPS minimum.

What is your nitrate testing at (sorry if you posted it already and I missed)?
Simply making suggestions on what has helped me in the past..have more luck with the flying fox rather than the Chinese algea eater when combatting hair algea while correcting other issues within the tank..
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