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View Poll Results: Is the Statement True, Mostly True, or Complete Crap?
Exactly Right! 0 0%
True most of the time but I have seen the occasional exception. 1 20.00%
This does not reflect what I have seen at all. 2 40.00%
I don't know because I rarely get algae anymore. 2 40.00%
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Old 09-15-2015, 11:43 PM   #1
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Poll Regarding Algae Species

I found this statement affiliated with a very old system known as PMDD. I was wondering if the community has found it consistent with there own experiences or if it does not reflect those experiences. I will keep mine a secret for now as not to skew the pole.

"If the aquarium is P limited, higher plants will outcompete algaes of all types for P, and the algae will disappear. If not, and N in the form of nitrates and ammonia is deficient, cyanobacteria will thrive, otherwise green or red algae will predominate. Red algae is favored over green algae if most of the available carbon is in the form of bicarbonates."

Edit: I should have stated I am less interested in the whole Phosphate does or does not trigger algae argument. I am more interested in if the conditions for each type of algae are accurate.
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Old 09-16-2015, 01:38 AM   #2
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Umm that's over my head but, I have a Current SOLO and it grows great green algae. I only have it in two tanks and its the green thready kind. Both tanks get too much light due to location. I assume the P is phosphate? I don't usually test established tanks so I really dont know what my problem is. This comment probably has no relevance to your post but I would like to follow along and learn more in this topic.

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Old 09-16-2015, 04:33 AM   #3
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Umm that's over my head but, I have a Current SOLO and it grows great green algae. I only have it in two tanks and its the green thready kind. Both tanks get too much light due to location. I assume the P is phosphate? I don't usually test established tanks so I really dont know what my problem is. This comment probably has no relevance to your post but I would like to follow along and learn more in this topic.

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Please do. I will send you a PM. Technically P means Phosphorus but for all intents and purposes in aquariums, it means phosphate
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Old 09-16-2015, 07:24 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by jarrod0987 View Post

"If the aquarium is P limited, higher plants will outcompete algaes of all types for P, and the algae will disappear. If not, and N in the form of nitrates and ammonia is deficient, cyanobacteria will thrive, otherwise green or red algae will predominate. Red algae is favored over green algae if most of the available carbon is in the form of bicarbonates."

I went does not reflect but have found it partly true. I've grown green algae at practically no phosphate (on API test though).

Cyanobacteria I have had one case and it was at low nitrates.

Not sure on the red algae statement. Inject co2 and it grows very well on any hard surface. In the small tank it would have more carbonates but that grows green algae and no sign of red algae.
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Old 09-16-2015, 08:29 AM   #5
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Please do. I will send you a PM. Technically P means Phosphorus but for all intents and purposes in aquariums, it means phosphate
So I'm no Chemistry wiz, is phosphate a product of phosphorus? One tank of green algae only gets natural light and I've slacked with cleaning. There are a couple plants in the tank. The other is behind my chair in the living room and gets lamp light. There are a lot of plants in that tank and I've not been turning the led lights on. Also have a film on the water surface. I put a cup in that tank and half an hour later it was green on the outside.

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Old 09-16-2015, 09:24 AM   #6
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So I'm no Chemistry wiz, is phosphate a product of phosphorus? One tank of green algae only gets natural light and I've slacked with cleaning. There are a couple plants in the tank. The other is behind my chair in the living room and gets lamp light. There are a lot of plants in that tank and I've not been turning the led lights on. Also have a film on the water surface. I put a cup in that tank and half an hour later it was green on the outside.

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Yes , Phosphorus is a molecule in Phosphate. For all intents and purposes we just test and dose/remove phosphate. Would you say your tank is heavily planted or just has a few plants?
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Old 09-16-2015, 09:27 AM   #7
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I have never injected CO2 and never had Red or Black Algae. In tanks where I had 5 ppm of Nitrate and high (out of range) phosphate, probably several ppm I had cyano (AKA blue green). I probably had high organics in that tank too. I usually get green hair in tanks if I let the nitrates and phosphates get super high.
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Old 09-16-2015, 09:28 AM   #8
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One heavily and the other just a few. Here is the corner of the heavily planted 5g with led lights.

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Old 09-16-2015, 09:34 AM   #9
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I believe I see soil? I use soil too
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Old 09-16-2015, 09:48 AM   #10
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Nope its sand or eco complete. Can't recall which. I'll get a FTS when I get home.

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Old 09-16-2015, 01:36 PM   #11
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I think it's probably possible to limit algae growth by limiting P. There's a reason this used to be a common approach. The catch is that plant growth is also limited by the amount of available P, which is not ideal. Phosphorus is highly mobile, which means when P is low, growth slows since P must be translocated from the older growth to the new growth, eventually causing dead patches and shedding of older leaves.

To me, this is an outdated approach. There's nothing wrong with it, I'm just not convinced it's necessary to limit PO4 for any reason other than the health of your fish (overall salt concentration aside). I have added ridiculous amounts of KH2PO4 to plant grow-out tubs (without fish), as much as 15 ppm PO4 per week in total, and not noticed any significant difference in algae growth compared to more modest dosages.

EDIT: One more thing to consider... If insufficient PO4 is limiting growth and then you suddenly add sufficient PO4, CO2 uptake/demand will increase significantly. This might be where folks got the idea that excess causes algae.
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Old 09-16-2015, 07:22 PM   #12
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Ok here are my algae tank shots. First is a 5g Current Solo with led. Stock tiny internal filter that has carbon. I could maybe modify it and take out the carbon if the cartridge comes apart. No ferts really. Dwarf emerald rasboras, maybe a scarlet badis or two and 5 or 6 corydoras habrosus which just spawned and are leaving their little eggs all over the plants. Not prepared for that so I'm leaving the eggs alone. Some filtered natural light but mostly living room lamp light. The ferts are sitting right there but I rarely add them. And the tank is directly under the lamps. One with CFL the other led bulb. No matter what tank I put in that spot it grows alagae. Water is green. I can measure things but I don't usually bother when it's an established tank and fish are thriving.

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Old 09-16-2015, 07:24 PM   #13
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Oh and I'm trying not to keep the stock tank lights on more than a few hours. Kept them off all yesterday and only turned on to take pics today.

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Old 09-16-2015, 07:31 PM   #14
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Next tank is for a betta it's a Marina of some sort that was on clearance. It has a filter with cartridges that contain carbon. No ferts. 1 male betta and some random snails that I pick out every so often. It gets light directly from a west window. And I know all about the various schools of thought on how many gallons bettas need etc. I've had Thai imports and domestics and for a long time, former member of IBC member or whatever their acronym is I forget. I really dont need to be educated on anyone else's way of keeping bettas or tank size. He does have a heater for cooler temps. I try to keep him at about 78 to 80 degrees. With all the direct summer light heater is off as I don't want to cook him. His water is green as well. I do add IAL to his water. I'm really going out of my comfort zone showing pics of my imperfect tanks here so be honest and factual but tactful please.

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Old 09-16-2015, 07:34 PM   #15
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I hope this answers your pm questions. I posted them here because I don't know how to do pics via pm and figured this is a learning/discussion thread so we need an example. What else do you want to know,

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Old 09-16-2015, 08:29 PM   #16
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I hope this answers your pm questions. I posted them here because I don't know how to do pics via pm and figured this is a learning/discussion thread so we need an example. What else do you want to know,

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Perfectly fine, PM sent. May take some time but we will win
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Old 09-16-2015, 08:34 PM   #17
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I think it's probably possible to limit algae growth by limiting P. There's a reason this used to be a common approach. The catch is that plant growth is also limited by the amount of available P, which is not ideal. Phosphorus is highly mobile, which means when P is low, growth slows since P must be translocated from the older growth to the new growth, eventually causing dead patches and shedding of older leaves.

To me, this is an outdated approach. There's nothing wrong with it, I'm just not convinced it's necessary to limit PO4 for any reason other than the health of your fish (overall salt concentration aside). I have added ridiculous amounts of KH2PO4 to plant grow-out tubs (without fish), as much as 15 ppm PO4 per week in total, and not noticed any significant difference in algae growth compared to more modest dosages.

EDIT: One more thing to consider... If insufficient PO4 is limiting growth and then you suddenly add sufficient PO4, CO2 uptake/demand will increase significantly. This might be where folks got the idea that excess causes algae.
It's my main approach with fish only systems, and honestly even planted tanks. With planted tanks I keep it between 0.03 ppm and 0.1 ppm. Above that I start to see slight amount of algae. My plants are fine but don't really grow much. I'm ok with that. It's a low maintenance approach. If you want rapid plant grown then PerfectDepth is right, you can do it this way. With a fish only system I just try to suck it all out. With GFO I can usually get it under 0.03 ppm for a month. Then new GFO. In fish only systems I also use high quality activated carbon but it's more for yellow water then algae but I am sure it helps. I do a 50 50 mix GFO and activated carbon. Cheap carbons are often contaminated with huge amounts of phosphate so Stick with good brands. I like ROX . Chemicure is a overpriced version of that. Chemipure Elite is ROX and GFO. Just like I use. Light is important too. I like 5 on 4 off 5 on 10 off light cycle. I don't inject co2 but some people like that approach. I use Excel which is also a algaecide but overdose can be bad for inverts I'm told.

Edit: some phosphate test kits are in the right range and some are not.
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Old 09-17-2015, 02:02 PM   #18
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My plants are fine but don't really grow much.
This is the main reason you have algae showing up whenever phosphates are present. In my experience, fully healthy and growing plants will prevent algae for the most part. If you prefer slower growth, you could reduce the light intensity instead of trying to limit phosphate. This is a much more preferable approach, in my opinion. You can think of the lighting as the "gas pedal", and the idea is to let the light determine the plant growth rate by making sure the plants have everything they need to grow as quickly as they can at the particular level of intensity you are providing to them (in other words allowing them to make full use of the available light energy so that algae does not).

Speaking of low maintenance, you could even get away with fewer water changes (since having more phosphate available will also increase uptake of nitrates, phosphates, etc. vs. needing to remove them) I've noticed in my experience using this approach with low-light planted tanks that green spot algae tends to show up after a large water change cuts phosphate concentration in half and no more is added, which is why I always replenish macros directly after a water change.

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Edit: some phosphate test kits are in the right range and some are not.
This is very true. I rarely do any testing anymore. When I do, I always calibrate NO3 and PO4 kits before using. The resulting colors tend to vary quite a bit between kits, so the color cards are almost always inaccurate. I'm referring to API liquid kits, I have no experience with other kits.

If I had any fish-only tanks I would be more worried about phosphate levels, but it's not something that even crosses my mind at all in my planted tanks. It's so much simpler to just use the EI method in my co2-injected tank (full amounts, 3 times a week, weekly 50% water changes), and EI low-light method in the low-light tank (halved doses, just once a week, fewer water changes).
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Old 09-17-2015, 05:52 PM   #19
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This is the main reason you have algae showing up whenever phosphates are present. In my experience, fully healthy and growing plants will prevent algae for the most part. If you prefer slower growth, you could reduce the light intensity instead of trying to limit phosphate. This is a much more preferable approach, in my opinion. You can think of the lighting as the "gas pedal", and the idea is to let the light determine the plant growth rate by making sure the plants have everything they need to grow as quickly as they can at the particular level of intensity you are providing to them (in other words allowing them to make full use of the available light energy so that algae does not).

Speaking of low maintenance, you could even get away with fewer water changes (since having more phosphate available will also increase uptake of nitrates, phosphates, etc. vs. needing to remove them) I've noticed in my experience using this approach with low-light planted tanks that green spot algae tends to show up after a large water change cuts phosphate concentration in half and no more is added, which is why I always replenish macros directly after a water change.


This is very true. I rarely do any testing anymore. When I do, I always calibrate NO3 and PO4 kits before using. The resulting colors tend to vary quite a bit between kits, so the color cards are almost always inaccurate. I'm referring to API liquid kits, I have no experience with other kits.

If I had any fish-only tanks I would be more worried about phosphate levels, but it's not something that even crosses my mind at all in my planted tanks. It's so much simpler to just use the EI method in my co2-injected tank (full amounts, 3 times a week, weekly 50% water changes), and EI low-light method in the low-light tank (halved doses, just once a week, fewer water changes).
I am entertaining the idea of starting to dose KNO3 but I don't have any yet. It used to be in all the drug stores when I was a kid. Now everyone is scared of chemicals since 911. My nitrates are always 0 and I dose K anyways. P is always present and I use Flourish complete for Micro's. I read that P does not limit growth very much except in extreme cases and I already have 0.8 to 1.2 ppm. I also read limiting N can really slow growth and harm plants. I don't think anyone believes nitrates cause algae anymore Remember that theory
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Old 09-17-2015, 07:02 PM   #20
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If I believe my test results I usually have between 20 to 40ppm nitrates, 2 (or so) phosphate and around 100ppm potassium. I do overdose potassium but that was under high light for giant hygro (sorry don't have proper name). So not sure on that potassium reading.

BBA has been a pain. Very little green spot algae. One plant has some hair algae.

Since sorting CO2 injection, dropping lights to 6 hours, increasing glut dosing and possibly help from fish/snails; the BBA has reduced over last month or two. First couple of weeks nothing seemed to happen but now I can see a difference. Recently swapped back to T5HO (from LEDs) so will so how that goes. Running lights for 7 hours.

This tank used to get green spot algae on one side that had a little natural light.


The best planted tank I did was one where I was away for 6 months. That had no algae at all.

There was no ferts dosing, never replaced bulb for years, never knew what I know now eg on water changes, no co2, gravel substrate with ugf. I can only guess I hit some balance that the plants liked (although I wish I could go back in time and test ph to see what the swordtail fry were swimming in).
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