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Old 05-30-2010, 09:34 PM   #1
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Angry Algae! My Aquarium Looks Awful . . .

I’m having a significant algae problem in my 40 gallon tank. I have a Marineland tank with a hood with a built in filter, with biowheel filtration. The tank’s temperature is approximately 77 degrees. Before I list out my fish, let me pre-emptively say that, yes, I know you shouldn’t mix goldfish and tropicals; I bought many of them before I knew that I shouldn’t mix them. So, it is what it is, and I’m doing the best I can to care for all the fish I have. That said, I have six goldfish, 2 moonlight gouramis, 2 powder blue dwarf gouramis, one molly, one balloon belly molly, one moonrise platy wag, one angelfish, one betta fish, five neon tetras, two loaches (black and red), three small snails, and two albino cories. I have sand substrate (which currently looks awful!), a lot of glass rocks, a couple artificial plants, two bubble wands, and four resin décor items. The tank receives no direct sunlight; the hood lights are fluorescent and I have them on anywhere from zero to ten hours per day – if there is an upper limit that the lights should be on past, please let me know.

I’ve had this tank since January. I did one cycle with fish, one cycle without. The water levels are perfect: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrIte, 0 nitrAte, and pH around 7.6 – 7.8. I never had algae before this last cycle, which I did in March/April (fishless). One thing that was new is that I bought some plants for the first time – nothing major or fancy. In fact, I don’t even know what they were (the fish have eaten all but one) but they floated at the top of the tank and looked like little clovers. It was just a handful of plants at my LFS, for $2.50. The only other thing that has changed is that I started my goldfish on Hikari sinking pellets at night and floating pellets in the morning.

The algae started out brown – you know that typical brown sludgy algae. Over the past week the algae has suddenly turned a very vivid green. Is this a really bad sign, or is it a positive sign, that the algae is changing?

In my ten gallon tank I have two snails that have grown to be good-sized. Should I swap out the two big snails for the three little ones? The big ones are super cruisers and they are constantly eating. Should I let them at the algae?

Is it possible to clean sand substrate or should I just replace it as necessary? The algae has grown over the top layer of the sand and it looks disgusting.

I was thinking of pulling out all of the décor and rocks and cleaning them up in a 10:1 bleach water solution, but of course the algae will just grow back unless I get the source under control in the tank.

Any and all advice is welcome (except for shaking a finger at me for mixing goldfish and tropicals! Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt . . . )
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Old 05-30-2010, 10:17 PM   #2
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First, we'll need to ID the algae. Check this link and let us know what you figure out
Greater Washington Aquatic Plant Association » Algae in the Planted Aquarium

Then we need to know some info about your tank. What size tank, how much and what kind of lighting, how long are the lights on
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Old 05-30-2010, 10:47 PM   #3
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And if those pics leave any questions try these too.
Types of Algae

Figure out what it is, my bet is already on cyanobacteria from your initial description.
Then we can go from there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChileRelleno wrote:
Note: this is for various algaes, not cyanobacteria, cyano is a whole different subject to tackle.
........................................

Algae...
Primarily are caused too much light and/or for too long, combined with a high level of nutrients in the water.
Fix these and the algae will not survive.

Some ways to eradicate algae...

#s 1, 2, 3 & 4 are the best long term solutions to algae problems.
#5 can can work wonders under the right circumstances.

(1) Rub-a-dub dub scrub scrub scrub... Break out the scouring pad and get busy.
But, believe it or not, leave some decor covered with it, the algae on the object will be using the nutrients other algae would need to grow, your controlling more algae growth by giving it competition.

(2) Lowering amount of light.
Lights on for no more than 8hrs unless growing plants, preferably 6 hours.
Not everyday is bright and sunny, and some days are partially cloud, subdued/ambient lighting when not at home is just fine.

(3)Temp -77'f, algae does better at temps above 77'f.

(4)Nutrients in the water.
Reduce feedings. Increase PWC's (partial water changes).
Nutrients that algae need are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These nutrients come from the waste the fish and beneficial bacteria, uneaten food, and the decay of dead plant/algae material. tap water can be high in phosphorus.

(5) A UVS (Ultra Violet Sterilizer), kills the algae and some types of other free-floating unwanted biologicals. A algae bloom is still a possibilty with UVS if not set-up properly.

(6) Certain fish/shrimp/snail species are good for eating specific types of algae.

(7) A Diatom Filter, removes algae from the water.
Not a permanent solution.

(8.) Filtration using a 'Micron' pads will remove algae.
Not a permanent solution.

(9) A 'complete blackout' of the tank for at least three (3) days, sometimes longer will kill the algae bloom.
This option will not adversely affect your fish, but you can move them to a holding tank if you want to.
Not a permanent solution.

(10) Algaecides, use VERY carefully, preferably don't use'em at all as they can cause harm.
Not a permanent solution.


Goodluck and HTH.
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Old 05-31-2010, 01:00 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilanh View Post
First, we'll need to ID the algae. Check this link and let us know what you figure out
Greater Washington Aquatic Plant Association » Algae in the Planted Aquarium
Thanks for that link! Judging from those pictures - and just an FYI, I don't have a planted tank, so hopefully that won't matter - I think I have two types of algae. I think I have Green Dust Algae (the more brown, icky kind), and Green Blue algae (the weird odor is there, too).

Quote:
Originally Posted by neilanh View Post
Then we need to know some info about your tank. What size tank, how much and what kind of lighting, how long are the lights on
I did include that info in my original post, but really quickly I have a 40 gallon tank with flourescent lighting in the hood; the lights are on from between five to ten hours per day, depending, and I do not have any direct sunlight hitting the tank.

I hope this helps with an answer - thank you very much for taking the time to help!
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Old 05-31-2010, 01:02 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by ChileRelleno View Post
And if those pics leave any questions try these too. Types of Algae Figure out what it is, my bet is already on cyanobacteria from your initial description. Then we can go from there.
Thank you very much for helping! I didn't see an algae called cyanobacteria - did I miss it in the link you shared? Anyhow, I think it's Green Dust AND Green Blue algae, YUCK. Your help is much appreciated because, wow, my tank looks awful.
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Old 05-31-2010, 01:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twoapennything View Post
Thank you very much for helping! I didn't see an algae called cyanobacteria - did I miss it in the link you shared? Anyhow, I think it's Green Dust AND Green Blue algae, YUCK. Your help is much appreciated because, wow, my tank looks awful.
Blue Green is Cyanobacteria, look again in the first link, it's in parentheses right next to Blue Green.

Green Dust/Spot is easy to take care of, it is IME slow growing and removed with a good scrubbing from my 'Mag-Float'.
Really tough colonies will need a razor blade.
I've the same in my planted 25gal, never seen it die off, always just scrub it off once every few weeks.

The Cyanobacteria can be picked by hand/net and removed, then dose with Maracyn to keep it from coming back. A little effort and it will stay gone.

Your answers are in both the links, have at it, you can get rid of it with a little troubleshooting.
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Old 05-31-2010, 03:56 AM   #7
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A few plants would help to prevent blooms from happening as severe and often. Algae needs nutrients and if you have plants eating it up there isn't much left for algae. Also there are many types of Blue Green algae (Cyanobacteria)
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