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Old 05-04-2023, 01:17 PM   #1
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Coloured lights Vs white light

I have been battling what looks like Black Beard algae (or some similar hair algae) for a while with no luck. as its progressed it seems to be killing off a fair few plants (slowly turning yellow/brown/ pale, before withering away to mush), creating alot of debri, which im sure enhances the algae issue

From what ive read, my tank maybe to small for a group of algae eater fish, so am researching if a light change will help.


i currently have a "11W LED Light (Retro LED)" based on the tank starter kit i bought, likely similar to this:

https://www.fishkeeper.co.uk/superfi...ght-light-unit


I have then seen more expensive, coloured based lights, such as the one below, but was unsure if this is for cosmetic purposes, or would actually benefit the plant life while fightign algae in any way?
https://www.fishkeeper.co.uk/fluval-...etooth-led-2-0

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Old 05-04-2023, 01:59 PM   #2
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Coloured lights Vs white light

A timely post given recent discussion.

Any light you use will have all colours under the visible light spectrum. You hear people talk about full spectrum LEDs but again this is just a nonsensical marketing ploy to get people to buy what they think is better. Thereís a lot of competition out there so marketing for these companies has to be clever. Bottom line is that all visible light has all colours that plants use for photosynthesis.

These colours lie within a radiation range from 400-700nm. Quite a narrow bandwidth given all the other types of radiation but you can see it in the picture below.

Click image for larger version

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So now that we understand that any light you use has all the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) colours the plants need for photosynthesis we need to understand what plantís actually care about.

First and foremost plants that we buy from the store are grown out of water and have access to atmospheric levels of co2 400+ppm. They can breathe! and use stomata in order to do so. Their leaves are thick and waxy and full of chemicals to prevent pests from eating them.

When you plant them underwater you immediately restrict their breathing. The average aquarium will have anywhere up to around 6ppm co2. That is a drastic drop. How do plants get around this you might ask? Well, first they have to restructure their chemical and molecular makeup so that they can adapt to this life. They discard the older leaves first and foremost, using any stored energy solely towards growing these new leaves because they life of the plant depends in it. The new leaves are thin and shaped differently. They have fewer or no stomata at all and so they have to rely on co2 being pushed across the leaf membrane where they can make use of it and they need to ramp up production of an enzyme called RubisCO. The most abundant enzyme on the planet. It is used to capture co2 but itís a sloppy enzyme, not very efficient and energy intensive to produce. But underwater plants need more of this enzyme so they can maximise co2 usage.

So the first point is that most aquatic plants will turn to mush a couple of weeks after planting as they adapt to life underwater. The problem here is that as they turn to mush they release all organic waste products that trigger algae blooms and the most common one in aquariums under these conditions is the god awful BBA.

The best thing to do in this case is to do frequent water changes as this will both dilute organic wastes and remove algae spores.

The good news is that these organic wastes can be assimilated by microbes but only after these microbes and their associated processes are fully up and running and this takes time. 8-12 months. When the microbes in the biofilter are all accounted for the waste breakdown becomes phenomenally quick and few things are left to waste.

In a young tank full of decaying plant matter, on top of fish and food waste decay however, algae begins to predominate.

So point number 2 is change water and have lots of patience.

Point 3 takes us back to co2 and why a light that is too strong can turn plants to mush.

If a light emits too many photons over a given area over a given time then the plant is forced in to the processes of photosynthesis at an accelerated rate. Co2 is essential to fulfil the requirements of photosynthesis and if the plant cannot obtain enough co2 then it will turn to mush just like when you first put them underwater. This happens all the time when a lush tank owner replaces a broken light fixture with a new one and the PAR rating is much higher. The plants have to restructure their internal processes once more because they need more co2, and how do they ensure more co2? More RubisCO. Bye bye old leaves and hello new leaves, decay, lots of light and nutrients and oh hello again algae.

So to summarise point 3. You may have too much light intensity.

So with all that said hereís what you can do.

1. Forget about colours, spectrums and temperatures of light and reduce the intensity.

2. Change water more often for the time being. Tap water has lots of co2 by the way so theres no harm in that.

3. Stick with it an allow the tank to fully mature so that waste material is scavenged at a rate that it does not feed algae. This is why a like to keep tons of snails and shrimp. They offer another step in the waste breakdown cycle and they feed on dying plants, biofilms and uneaten food.

Good luck
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Old 05-04-2023, 02:00 PM   #3
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Ive got an aquasky. The coloured lights are just for aesthetics. The RGB LEDs are low light intensity, narrow wavelength, practically of no benefit to growing plants. The white light does a great job for low demand plants and you can adjust the appearance a little with the RGB lights.

The great thing about the aquasky is its programmability. Set all the timers, give yourself a nice sunrise and sunset period so the lights arent suddenly coming on and off. There are some effects you can do if thats your thing, like weather, lightning etc.
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Old 05-04-2023, 02:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiken Drum View Post
Ive got an aquasky. The coloured lights are just for aesthetics. The RGB LEDs are low light intensity, narrow wavelength, practically of no benefit to growing plants. The white light does a great job for low demand plants and you can adjust the appearance a little with the RGB lights.

The great thing about the aquasky is its programmability. Set all the timers, give yourself a nice sunrise and sunset period so the lights arent suddenly coming on and off. There are some effects you can do if thats your thing, like weather, lightning etc.

That was going to be my other suggestion. Too little light but I had already gone to town with PAR explanation.
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Old 05-04-2023, 02:20 PM   #5
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Just for clarity on the aquasky. 2/3 of the LEDs are white and can be contolled for intensity. The remaining 1/3 are RGB and can be controlled for colour and intensity. Its a white light fixture with some coloured lights for show.

During the on period i just turn white up to full with some of the RGB how i prefer the appearance. At night i leave it on 5% blue. Low light in the morning, ramp things up in the afternoon, down again late evening.

This is my programme should anyone be interested.

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Old 05-04-2023, 04:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caliban07 View Post
A timely post given recent discussion.

Any light you use will have all colours under the visible light spectrum. You hear people talk about full spectrum LEDs but again this is just a nonsensical marketing ploy to get people to buy what they think is better. Thereís a lot of competition out there so marketing for these companies has to be clever. Bottom line is that all visible light has all colours that plants use for photosynthesis.

These colours lie within a radiation range from 400-700nm. Quite a narrow bandwidth given all the other types of radiation but you can see it in the picture below.

Attachment 325404

So now that we understand that any light you use has all the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) colours the plants need for photosynthesis we need to understand what plantís actually care about.

First and foremost plants that we buy from the store are grown out of water and have access to atmospheric levels of co2 400+ppm. They can breathe! and use stomata in order to do so. Their leaves are thick and waxy and full of chemicals to prevent pests from eating them.

When you plant them underwater you immediately restrict their breathing. The average aquarium will have anywhere up to around 6ppm co2. That is a drastic drop. How do plants get around this you might ask? Well, first they have to restructure their chemical and molecular makeup so that they can adapt to this life. They discard the older leaves first and foremost, using any stored energy solely towards growing these new leaves because they life of the plant depends in it. The new leaves are thin and shaped differently. They have fewer or no stomata at all and so they have to rely on co2 being pushed across the leaf membrane where they can make use of it and they need to ramp up production of an enzyme called RubisCO. The most abundant enzyme on the planet. It is used to capture co2 but itís a sloppy enzyme, not very efficient and energy intensive to produce. But underwater plants need more of this enzyme so they can maximise co2 usage.

So the first point is that most aquatic plants will turn to mush a couple of weeks after planting as they adapt to life underwater. The problem here is that as they turn to mush they release all organic waste products that trigger algae blooms and the most common one in aquariums under these conditions is the god awful BBA.

The best thing to do in this case is to do frequent water changes as this will both dilute organic wastes and remove algae spores.

The good news is that these organic wastes can be assimilated by microbes but only after these microbes and their associated processes are fully up and running and this takes time. 8-12 months. When the microbes in the biofilter are all accounted for the waste breakdown becomes phenomenally quick and few things are left to waste.

In a young tank full of decaying plant matter, on top of fish and food waste decay however, algae begins to predominate.

So point number 2 is change water and have lots of patience.

Point 3 takes us back to co2 and why a light that is too strong can turn plants to mush.

If a light emits too many photons over a given area over a given time then the plant is forced in to the processes of photosynthesis at an accelerated rate. Co2 is essential to fulfil the requirements of photosynthesis and if the plant cannot obtain enough co2 then it will turn to mush just like when you first put them underwater. This happens all the time when a lush tank owner replaces a broken light fixture with a new one and the PAR rating is much higher. The plants have to restructure their internal processes once more because they need more co2, and how do they ensure more co2? More RubisCO. Bye bye old leaves and hello new leaves, decay, lots of light and nutrients and oh hello again algae.

So to summarise point 3. You may have too much light intensity.

So with all that said hereís what you can do.

1. Forget about colours, spectrums and temperatures of light and reduce the intensity.

2. Change water more often for the time being. Tap water has lots of co2 by the way so theres no harm in that.

3. Stick with it an allow the tank to fully mature so that waste material is scavenged at a rate that it does not feed algae. This is why a like to keep tons of snails and shrimp. They offer another step in the waste breakdown cycle and they feed on dying plants, biofilms and uneaten food.

Good luck

Thank you for this, very informative!


Just some additional details off the back of your message, that i probably should have shared to begin with.
- 60L tank
- Lights are on for about 5.5/6 hours a day
- Add daily JBL plantfood and Co2 to support the plants
- Use tabs once a month
- Tank is just over a year old. did suffer from a crashed cycle, but has been fine for about 6 months (it wasnt logn after the algae began to show)
- Due to a seperate algae issue that ive managed to sort (green sludge-liek algae), i usually feed the tank once every other day, and will often black them out for a day or two a week to try to slow the algage
- doing water changes of about 30-50% twice a week to try and remove any muck.
- despite using a gravel siphon, if i then use a net in the tank, alot of "dust" like muck cans till be seen kicking up at the bottom.
- none of the plants are new, and would have been in there for 6 months +


do you have any other ideas/suggestions on what may be killing off the plants/growing the algae?
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Old 05-04-2023, 04:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiken Drum View Post
Ive got an aquasky. The coloured lights are just for aesthetics. The RGB LEDs are low light intensity, narrow wavelength, practically of no benefit to growing plants. The white light does a great job for low demand plants and you can adjust the appearance a little with the RGB lights.

The great thing about the aquasky is its programmability. Set all the timers, give yourself a nice sunrise and sunset period so the lights arent suddenly coming on and off. There are some effects you can do if thats your thing, like weather, lightning etc.

Given i already have (what im assuming) is an LED White light, im guessing based on your comment the aquasky wouldnt offer much benefit to the plants?



I have the light on a smart timer plug, and the lights coming on at about 9:30 am, once the room as slowly filled with natural light anyway, so i dont think id get much benefit from the app features to be honest.
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Old 05-04-2023, 05:06 PM   #8
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I found my plant growth improved considerably when i changed from the stock LED light to the aquasky. The aquasky was considerably brighter, gave me more control etc.
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Old 05-04-2023, 05:14 PM   #9
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I found my plant growth improved considerably when i changed from the stock LED light to the aquasky. The aquasky was considerably brighter, gave me more control etc.

Thanks for that, sounds liek maybe it is a worth while buy then to save the plants and fight the algae. The light i have is what came in a tank bundle, so i knew it would be basic, but was unsure on if more expensive necessarily meant better.
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Old 05-04-2023, 05:38 PM   #10
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Be aware that the smallest aquasky goes down to 610mm. Is that going to be too long for a 60 litre tank? The 11W LED Light Retro LED you mention is 450mm long.

There is nothing wrong with your light. Its probably not the cause of your problems on its own. The thing with a programmable light is you can make changes. Lower the intensity, see how things go. Raise it, see how things go. Change the photo period, see how things go. You also need to observe things over months. Change 1 thing at a time, give it time to have an effect and then make a further adjustment. Wholesale changes can have a positive or negative effect, but you then have no idea what change caused the effect.
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Old 05-05-2023, 03:04 PM   #11
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Are you using actual injected co2 gas or liquid co2 with the JBL ferts?
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Old 05-05-2023, 03:25 PM   #12
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Those leaves covered in BBA are as good as dead. You should only really be observing for new growth now. New growth will tell us if the tank is going to turn around.

Do you know what caused the crashed cycle? Cycle disturbances can definitely caused issues with algae. Generally my advice is to never mess with the substrate in an aquarium, especially a planted aquarium. Youíre just asking for trouble as that is where a very big portion of the microbes will be. From fungi, to archaea to bacteria to rotifers. They need to be left alone to get on with their lives. When we disturb the substrate we release all these dead biofilms with microbes in to the water column where they contribute to ammonia which kills more microorganisms. A happy tank is a tank left alone. Rinse the filter media out when the filter flow slows down and change water (although this is not essential under normal circumstances) and you will have very few problems. [emoji846]
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Old 05-05-2023, 03:58 PM   #13
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Those leaves covered in BBA are as good as dead. You should only really be observing for new growth now. New growth will tell us if the tank is going to turn around.

Do you know what caused the crashed cycle? Cycle disturbances can definitely caused issues with algae. Generally my advice is to never mess with the substrate in an aquarium, especially a planted aquarium. Youíre just asking for trouble as that is where a very big portion of the microbes will be. From fungi, to archaea to bacteria to rotifers. They need to be left alone to get on with their lives. When we disturb the substrate we release all these dead biofilms with microbes in to the water column where they contribute to ammonia which kills more microorganisms. A happy tank is a tank left alone. Rinse the filter media out when the filter flow slows down and change water (although this is not essential under normal circumstances) and you will have very few problems. [emoji846]

These are the Co2 and plant food I use.

Interpet Plant CO2 Liquid Food Carbon - https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/194601480...r=494668750959


JBL Ferropol 24 Plant Growth Freshwater Fertiliser - https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/202148838...r=502136924999


You got it in one. i swapped out my sand substrate for gravel. Despite using the same water and filter, as you say, to much bacteria was lost from the substrate.


Would you reccomend i cut off every leaf affected by the algae, or do i need to scrap the plant all together?
Its also on my decor, which i scrub every time i do a water change, but its back within a day or two. If i left it out of the tank for a day or so to completely dry, would this kill anything lingering on it?
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Old 05-06-2023, 10:45 AM   #14
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The co2 booster isnít necessary. It isnít co2. Without going in to too much depth it works by destroying the Ďperiphytoní layer on the surface of leaves enabling unimpeded co2 diffusion across the leaf membrane. It does improve growth but rather artificially and we donít know how it affects livestock and the biofilter.

I would stick with the plants and just keep monitoring growth. No more gravel vacuuming. Leave the filter alone unless the flow rate is greatly reduced. Lastly, point the filter outlet at the surface to create as much surface turbulence as possible. This will maximise the oxygen levels in the tank which are so important for efficient decomposition. Donít overfeed, cut back on fertiliser for now or buy an all in one fertiliser such as TNC complete (if youíre in the UK) this will give the plants a more rounded nutrient profile.
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Old 05-07-2023, 05:31 AM   #15
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The co2 booster isnít necessary. It isnít co2. Without going in to too much depth it works by destroying the Ďperiphytoní layer on the surface of leaves enabling unimpeded co2 diffusion across the leaf membrane. It does improve growth but rather artificially and we donít know how it affects livestock and the biofilter.

I would stick with the plants and just keep monitoring growth. No more gravel vacuuming. Leave the filter alone unless the flow rate is greatly reduced. Lastly, point the filter outlet at the surface to create as much surface turbulence as possible. This will maximise the oxygen levels in the tank which are so important for efficient decomposition. Donít overfeed, cut back on fertiliser for now or buy an all in one fertiliser such as TNC complete (if youíre in the UK) this will give the plants a more rounded nutrient profile.
.


Oh okay, i didnt realise that wasnt an actual Co2 injector, thanks for that! I'll look at buying a proper product.
Happy to leave the plants if you think thats the best bet in terms of plants getting better/eliminating algae, but im concerned about the "dust/muck" build up i get, which im assuming is from alot of the plant debris. ive added a photo which hopefully may help. For filters, i actually have 2 running in the tank, one pointed directly at the surface at an arch, to generate oxygen, and the other pointed at the substrate to try and prevent the algae and prevent it from settling , but this didnt really help
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Old 05-07-2023, 06:39 AM   #16
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If you are going to get proper CO2 you will need a much better light, better than the aquasky. Otherwise you will just be injecting CO2 to no benefit. If your plants arent high demand plants you dont need CO2.
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Old 05-19-2023, 09:24 PM   #17
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FWIW......
"During the day sunlight is more intense and contains more blue than red light. At sunset (and sunrise) sunlight is less intense and has more red light than blue light"

So, a tank light should have some blue and red lights along with the "white" lighs in it for an attempt to simulate natural sunlight for plant growth.
No tank light can really simulate sunlight completely but at least it can roughly simulate it for plants
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Old 05-20-2023, 04:11 AM   #18
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White light has red and blue in it. White light is a mixture of a broad spectrum of light wavelengths, its not just "white". Remember that a rainbow is what happens when the spectrum of white light gets split into its invidual spectrums.

This is a typical 6500k white light that is designed to mimic the appearance of sunlight.



This is a typical 3200k white light that gives a warmer appearance.



You can get lamps that give a wide range of white light from 1000k upto 10000k. They all have different appearances due to them having different colour spectrums. Warmer/ lower k value light will have more red and less blue, colder/ higher k value more blue and less red. All white light has red blue and green in them, just different amounts. The individual RGBs emitters are of such low intensity and narrow wavelength to add practically nothing to the usefulness of the white light.

Switching on the red emitters to 6500k light is probably going to do something like this and not provide any significant additional red to what a white light is already producing.

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