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Old 11-04-2004, 11:46 PM   #1
Tam
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Green algae disaster

I have a new 140 gal tank and have added Eco-complete substrate, several large shist rocks, a sword plant, 2 anubis plants (1 large and 1 small), some hydrophilia, and some java ferns. I have power compact flourescent lights which are now cycling at 8 hours of day at low settings (previously were high settings for 12 hours/day) and a Rena XP3 filter. I have horrible algae problems with it growing on all the rocks and sticks and even on the plants. It has killed all the hydrophilia and the other plants are near death despite cleaning the algae off them several times. The aquarium store I went to tested my water and found that :
pH - 7.8
Ammonia - 0.7
Hardness - 14
Nitrates - 10
Nitrites - 0.8
Phosphates - 0.25

They recommended lowering the pH with acid buffer to 7.0 to help the plants, decreasing the light to 8 hours/day at the low setting and then adding more plants and algae eaters. (I have no fish yet).

Since lowering the pH with a lot of acid buffer and scrubbing off the algae, it has come back with a vengeance. Is there anything else I can do to get rid of the algae? I haven't wanted to add fish yet because the system isn't stable. Is the pH really the reason for the algae. How can I give it the right amount of light for the new plants but not too much for the algae? Should I really go out and get more plants and put them in just to watch them die too or better to just dump the whole thing, scrub it down and start over?


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Old 11-05-2004, 01:36 AM   #2
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Quote:
pH - 7.8
Ammonia - 0.7
Hardness - 14
Nitrates - 10
Nitrites - 0.8
Phosphates - 0.25
This tank is not cycled. Ammonia and nitrite are not good for plants, as well as fish. Part of the algae problem is due to the uncycled tank.

Quote:
They recommended lowering the pH with acid buffer to 7.0 to help the plants
No!!!!!!! There is no reason to lower the pH of the water. I assure you, plants can and will grow in tanks with a pH over 8.

What is the ammonia source for this tank?
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Old 11-05-2004, 08:53 AM   #3
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I don't know where the ammonia is coming from unless it is from the Eco-complete substrate which apparently has bacteria in it. Should I be doing water changes to try to save the plants? Should I just buy some of those bacteria to instantly cycle the tank?
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Old 11-05-2004, 11:07 AM   #4
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Is there something rotting in the tank?
I would just sit pretty and wait for the tank to cycle, perhaps doing small frequent water changes. The bacteria that you can buy like cycle, some people love and others can't get them to work... I have never had any luck with them, alas.
I would doubt it is from the substrate, but... Jeff
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Old 11-05-2004, 11:16 AM   #5
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I don't know where the ammonia is coming from unless it is from the Eco-complete substrate which apparently has bacteria in it. Should I be doing water changes to try to save the plants? Should I just buy some of those bacteria to instantly cycle the tank?

Unless the bacteria is dying, they should not bother the water parameters.
What filter do you have on this tank?
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Old 11-05-2004, 07:02 PM   #6
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Got some questions for you.

1 - How many watts of light are you using for the tank?
2 - You said you have no fish in the tank. Are you manually dumping ammonia in the tank (fishless cycle)?

If you are adding ammonia manually then that could be the reason your water tested positive for ammonia/nitrite even though the tank IS cycled. I assume you are adding once a day. If so... do your testing just BEFORE you add the ammonia. Then you'll know for sure. You have Nitrates so I'm guessing the timing of the first test is why you registered ammonia/nitrite in approximately equal amounts.

If you have green algae and you are using more than 280 watts then you should expect a fair amount of algae growth. Anything more than 350 watts and you are playing with fire! Once the tank is cycled you should immediately get some algae eaters in the tank. You'll be surprised at just how well they will work for you. Once you get 0 for Nitrite/Ammonia, I'd get a Bushynose pleco and about 6 Otos to start off with. After about a week with no bio filter impact, I'd get another 6-10 Otos and/or another Bushynose pleco. The bushynose will help keep the glass clean and the Otos will help keep the plants clean.

hth
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Old 11-05-2004, 09:35 PM   #7
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I have a Rena XP3 filter
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Old 11-05-2004, 09:44 PM   #8
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I have a 48 inch PC with 4X 96 watt bulbs. Since the algae started I am only running half the bulbs at a time for 8 hours. I have never added ammonia to the system. There were some plants starting to rot which I have now removed. Could they have been a source of ammonia?

What is an "Oto"

Thanks,

TAM
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Old 11-06-2004, 02:15 AM   #9
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an oto is an 'otocinclus' . playful , cute, algae eaters. mine only eat algae, i rarely supplement them with other food
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Old 11-08-2004, 12:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tam
I have never added ammonia to the system. There were some plants starting to rot which I have now removed. Could they have been a source of ammonia?
Something isn't making sense here.

Your tank has no fish in it and you haven't been adding ammonia. Why do you think your tank was cycled? Your readings are showing ammonia/nitrite/nitrate... have you ever had fish in the tank or have done something else to get ammonia in the tank?

Regardless, if there is no ammonia source currently being added to the tank then any beneficial bacteria present in the tank will die in a short time.


As for the algae, you were using 384 watts with no CO2 supplement. A massive green algae bloom is to be expected. Cutting back to 192 watts was the right way to go.


So where do you go from here? You really need to get a handle on the cycle. I don't know the full story on how your tank got to where it is but going forward you will need to get an ammonia source in that tank until it cycles. Until it cycles, you will have to manually battle the algae. Once the tank cycles, then you can buy an army of algae eaters and this will no longer be an issue for you.

hth good luck!
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Old 11-08-2004, 07:08 PM   #11
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Your tank obvcously is not cycled yet and the ammonio and nitrites are killing the plants and making algea bloom.


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Old 11-10-2004, 10:22 PM   #12
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Thanks for your help.
The ammonia had to have come from bacteria in the Eco-complete substrate or from rotting plants -since I had a lot of them. Since then, I have removed the dead plants and 5 days ago added some fish including - 3 otos, 1 rubber lipped plecostomus, and 5 shrimp. My thought was that they could continue the cycling and help slow the algae growth as you suggested. They are busy beavers but the algae job is too big for them. The plants seem to be doing fine so far, and my ammonia is back down to 0, nitrite is 0.25 and the nitrate is 10. I am planning to add more fish later this week. The other weird thing though is that my pH continues to eek up and is now back up to 8.0. (I got it down to 7.4 by adding acid buffer last week). Is it the shist rock or is there something else going on that would cause the pH to rise?
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Old 11-11-2004, 04:50 PM   #13
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Ok.. couple of farily urgent points here so read closely.

Be sure to continue to test your water daily until your ammonia AND nitrite are both at 0. Since you already have nitrate present I've got to believe that your cycle is almost done. I've never heard of anyone cycling their tank using rotting plants but it appears to have gotten the job done. 8O

Do NOT use PH buffers or any other chemicals that are meant to control the PH level. They won't work... especially since your water is so hard. PH swings (i.e going from 8 to 7.4 back to 7.8 ) is far more dangerous than simply leaving your PH at 8.

Do NOT add any more fish until you have gotten readings of 0 ammonia AND nitrite for 7 straight days. This will help ensure your cycle has stabilized.

You have added Otos to a tank that is not done cycling. Otos tend to be very weak during acclimation and I wouldn't be surprised if you lose one or both. I hope they make it and if they do they will take care of the algae... they just don't eat as much when ammonia/nitrite is present.

hth good luck
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