Go Back   Aquarium Advice - Aquarium Forum Community > Freshwater > Freshwater & Brackish - Unhealthy Fish
Click Here to Login

Join Aquarium Advice Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com
 
Old 02-17-2023, 04:42 PM   #1
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 13
Brown Algae/Alkalinity trouble

I've had my 30 Gallon freshwater tank for a decade and it's always done well with plants and multiple fish with almost zero maintenance throughout multiple moves. It was a thriving self-sustaining ecosystem.

But when I moved to my new house and set up my tank, it didn't take long to get PH and Alkalinity spikes killing off most of my fish and plants. And with it came the brown algae.

I tried everything suggested to me form algae treatment, water changes, stabilizers, daily test strips to balance the water. Nothing worked.
So I did a full overhaul. New gravel and substrate, bleach soaked and scubbed down everything. New plants, New better filter system, the works.

It was good for over a month. Crystal clear, plants and animals thriving amd daily tests and adjustments. And out of nowhere boom, Alkalinity and ph spikes. Killed off all but 2 fish and a frog. Even my 2 snails died. Plants slowly dying. And brown algae again.

I've invested so much time and money just to flush it away with my dead fish. I'm ready to give up on this entirely.
Yall are my last hope to save it.
10 years zero problems, low maintenance. Last 6 months constant struggle and giving up hope.

__________________
Jbeals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2023, 05:52 PM   #2
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Caliban07's Avatar


 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Manchester UK
Posts: 6,218
Brown Algae/Alkalinity trouble

Do you know how many people have the patience to run an aquarium for 10 years? The answer is not many. In my opinion you have surpassed many hobbyists in terms of success so there is literally no point in giving up.

I run a system quite like that of your 10 year old tank. Mine is probably about 5 years, 6 perhaps. Tanks like ours are successful because they are stable. When you moved house something was altered. Your system was interrupted which has caused issues. Did you disturb the substrate or filter sponges during the move by any chance. An increase in KH will increase the pH which will increase the toxicity of ammonia. I donít KH and pH spikes are the true cause.

When you had they tank running again without issue, did something happen to affect the stability of the tank?

Starting from scratch is exactly that. The microbial balance you had achieved in the 10 year old tank is non existent. It can take over 12 months just to see waste being fully broken down in to mulm. When this happens you stop getting algae.
__________________
Caliban07 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2023, 06:13 PM   #3
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caliban07 View Post
Do you know how many people have the patience to run an aquarium for 10 years? The answer is not many. In my opinion you have surpassed many hobbyists in terms of success so there is literally no point in giving up.

I run a system quite like that of your 10 year old tank. Mine is probably about 5 years, 6 perhaps. Tanks like ours are successful because they are stable. When you moved house something was altered. Your system was interrupted which has caused issues. Did you disturb the substrate or filter sponges during the move by any chance. An increase in KH will increase the pH which will increase the toxicity of ammonia. I donít KH and pH spikes are the true cause.

When you had they tank running again without issue, did something happen to affect the stability of the tank?

Starting from scratch is exactly that. The microbial balance you had achieved in the 10 year old tank is non existent. It can take over 12 months just to see waste being fully broken down in to mulm. When this happens you stop getting algae.
When we moved before I drained the tank all the way to the gravel and gave it a good scrub and rinse before refilling. This time I did the same but did a more thorough rinse of the rocks. Only learned about good microbes after the tank turned bad.
So I did a few water changes and added some good microbe stuff I bought from Amazon periodically as instructed, never could quite get ahead of the algae though. And algae treatment I bought was useless.
The first time I assumed the spike was from lack of plant life and too quick of introduction of new fish.
But this time after the reset I let the tank be with just the surviving fish and new plants for a couple weeks. Slowly introduced new fish, 2 snails, and a cool freshwater shrimp.
Everything was good for a few weeks and found the shrimp dead stuck to the filter, and following days fish Slowly started dying off and levels all spiked.
Carbinate level spiked first I believe possibly from an over correction so I immediately did a 3rd of a tank water change to level it out again. 30 gallon tank if I didn't mention before
__________________
Jbeals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2023, 06:21 PM   #4
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 13
This was the tank a couple weeks prior to the mass casualty incident and ploom. I just did another partial water change today and it's been a week without feeding from advice of another fish guy.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	20230102_145537.jpg
Views:	8
Size:	252.3 KB
ID:	324917  
__________________
Jbeals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2023, 12:05 AM   #5
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Join Date: Oct 2022
Location: Perth in Western Australia
Posts: 1,238
Hi and welcome to the forum

You need to find out what is in your new tap water and if possible compare it to your old tap water. Your new water supply could be completely different to what you used before and this sudden change in water chemistry is part of the problem.

This information can usually be obtained from your water supply company's website or by telephoning them. Most water companies have a water analysis report that you can download from their website. It has everything they can test for, found in the water. You want to look at things like chlorine or chloramine, pH, GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness), and any other chemicals, minerals or contaminants that might be in the water.

You can post a copy of the water report here and we can go through it.

---------------------

When you say you have pH and alkalinity spikes, what do you mean?
Is the pH of your tank water 6.0 and the tap water 8.0, or is the pH of the tank water changing dramatically after a water change?

---------------------

You mention having an almost zero maintenance tank for 10 years.
What maintenance did you do on it?
Did you do regular water changes and gravel cleans?
Did you clean the filter regularly (how often and how did you clean it)?

---------------------

What sort of fish and plants do/ did you have?

Can you post a picture of the brown algae?

---------------------

Algicides kill all plants including algae. Algae are simple plants and can be dealt with in many ways, but adding algicides to kill algae will often affect higher plants.

Most algicides (and medications) are poisonous to fish and if the fish are stressed from anything else, and you add an algicide, you can wipe out a tank.

---------------------

Quote from OP
I've invested so much time and money just to flush it away with my dead fish.
end quote

I'm hoping this was just a statement meaning you have wasted money, but when your fish die, do you bury them, put them in the rubbish, or flush them down the toilet?
Dead fish should be buried or wrapped in a paper towel and put in the rubbish. If they are flushed into a sewer, any diseases they have can get into natural waterways and adversely affect native fishes.

---------------------

What is the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH of your aquarium and tap water?

By flushing the tank out and bleaching things, you will have destroyed any beneficial filter bacteria and your aquarium will presumably be cycling again. This is where the filter develops colonies of good bacteria that convert ammonia into nitrite, and nitrite into nitrate. If you are cycling the aquarium, and your new tap water has a pH above 7.0, any ammonia produced by the fish, fish food, waste or dead plants, will be toxic and kill the inhabitants. Finding out what your new water contains vs what your old water was like, will help us work out what is going on.
__________________
Colin_T is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2023, 12:46 AM   #6
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 13
The water system should be the same, I just moved across town. I used my strips on the tap water earlier today and took the first picture, second picture was tank water as of now.

I did clean the tank and do a 1/3 water change prior to joining the group today so unfortunately no good pictures of the algae just what was left on the rock after a quick scrub. But it grows on everything fast.

I used the tank stabilizer/chlorine neutralizer (seachem prime) and continuum aquatics KH+, and microbe lift nite-out starter bacteria after the cleaning and top off earlier today.

Years prior all I ever had to do was top off the naturally evaporated water once a week or so, scrup any normal green algae growth off the glass and occasionally use a sciphen to clean the gravel with 1/3 tank water change. Hardly any maintenance required.

Had at least 6 fish and a frog for years just adding new fish here and there when one died or I wanted to add variety. All tetras and non aggressive.

When I bought the tank from a couple 10 years or so ago it was already established with 20+ fish (way too many for 30 gallon), these tiny snails that would come in waves, disappear for a while and come back again every few weeks. And a leafy plant that would pop off pods that would grow as it died in a really neat self-sustaining cycle.

But now I'm at a loss and don't know how to get it back and sustain it like before.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	20230217_142157.jpg
Views:	7
Size:	119.4 KB
ID:	324918   Click image for larger version

Name:	20230217_212651.jpg
Views:	7
Size:	135.4 KB
ID:	324919  

Click image for larger version

Name:	20230217_212622.jpg
Views:	5
Size:	200.1 KB
ID:	324920  
__________________
Jbeals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2023, 03:42 AM   #7
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Caliban07's Avatar


 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Manchester UK
Posts: 6,218
Sounds like the KH+ is causing the KH to go up. Some of the microbes are there to keep ammonia down as they process it through to a less harmful form of nitrogen called nitrate.

I think the issue with ammonia has been compounded by a few things.

1) Destroying microbes so ammonia builds up.

2) Dead shrimp decaying causing ammonia to rise.

3) An increase in KH making ammonia more toxic.

Ammonia killís aquatic life and is the only true likely cause of the fish deaths.

Itís time to make this tank stable again.

Firstly, if you like plants add lots. Possibly Cryptocoryne varieties and amazon swords. They will take in ammonia because ammonia is a form of nitrogen that plants need.

The restock, the tank with the fish you want slowly, 3-4 per week say.

Lastly, cease all chemicals. They are not necessary for success.

You will probably receive a lengthy post soon about how you should do 75% weekly water changes and gravel vac the substrate. Your 10 year success on mostly top ups will be completely ignored and put down as luck or fish not thriving in order to confirm biases. Itís up to you whether or not you take this advice or if you look at the facts you have witnessed for the last 10 years and carry on doing what you are doing.

Good luck
__________________
Caliban07 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2023, 03:54 AM   #8
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Join Date: Oct 2022
Location: Perth in Western Australia
Posts: 1,238
Your tap water is free of nitrite, nitrate, has virtually no GH or KH and very low TA (total alkalinity?), and the pH is acidic.

Your aquarium water is similar except the GH, KH and pH have gone up a little bit, but the TA has gone up a lot. This is probably caused by the Continuum Aquatics KH+ buffer. It increases the KH of the water, which pushes the pH up a bit and it would appear it also pushes the TA up a lot. You could try adding less of the KH buffer and the TA should not go up as much.

If you are keeping tetras and other fishes from soft acid water, you probably don't even need to add the KH buffer. If you are adding the buffer directly to the aquarium while there are fish in it, you could be causing a sudden rise in TA, which is harming the fish. A fluctuating pH can also harm the fish.

SeaChem Prime neutralises chlorine/ chloramine in tap water and won't be causing the TA to go up.

The microbe lift nite-out starter bacteria is a filter bacteria supplement that helps to speed up the cycling process in the aquarium. I recommend adding a double dose every day for a week and then pour the remaining contents into the tank, or put the rest in the fridge. Try to add it near the filter intake so it gets drawn into the filter where it belongs. This product should not affect pH, GH, KH or TA either.

------------------

OLD TANK SYNDROME AND REGULAR WATER CHANGES
If you didn't do regular (at least once every 2 weeks) water changes on your old tank, you could have had old tank syndrome. This is where the pH drops over time due to nitric acid and other pollutants, and the nitrates go up. When you moved house, the fish went from water with potentially a very low pH and high nitrate, to water with no nitrate and a slightly higher pH. This can kill fish.

When water evaporates, it leaves all the minerals and nutrients behind. Only pure water evaporates out. If you just top up the aquarium each week, the nutrients and minerals gradually build up over time and the fish can deal with it to a degree. However, it does stress them and if you add new fish, they usually die shortly after behing added, while the original occupants appear fine.

In tanks with old tank syndrome, fish will normally die off one at a time for no apparent reason and most people assume it was old age or just the fish's time. Sometimes this is true, most times it isn't. The water quality deteriorates to a degree that eventually all the fish do eventually die from poor water quality.

--------

All aquariums should get regular partial water changes for a number of reasons.
1) to reduce nutrients like ammonia, nitrite & nitrate.
2) to dilute disease organisms in the water.
3) to keep the pH, KH and GH stable.
4) to dilute nitric acid produced by fish food and waste breaking down.
5) to dilute stress chemicals (pheromones/ allomones) released by the fish.
6) to dilute un-used plant fertiliser so you don't overdose the fish when you add more.
7) to remove fish waste and other rotting organic matter.

Fish live in a soup of microscopic organisms including bacteria, fungus, viruses, protozoans, worms, flukes and various other things that make your skin crawl. Doing a big water change and gravel cleaning the substrate on a regular basis will dilute these organisms and reduce their numbers in the water, thus making it a safer and healthier environment for the fish.

If you do a 25% water change each week you leave behind 75% of the bad stuff in the water.
If you do a 50% water change each week you leave behind 50% of the bad stuff in the water.
If you do a 75% water change each week you leave behind 25% of the bad stuff in the water.

Imagine living in your house with no windows, doors, toilet, bathroom or anything. You eat and poop in the environment and have no clean air. Eventually you end up living in your own filth, which would probably be made worse by you throwing up due to the smell. You would get sick very quickly and probably die unless someone came to clean up regularly and open the place up to let in fresh air.

Fish live in their own waste. Their tank and filter is full of fish poop. The water they breath is filtered through fish poop. Cleaning filters, gravel and doing big regular water changes, removes a lot of this poop and harmful micro-organisms, and makes the environment cleaner and healthier for the fish.

------------------

The brown algae could be diatoms, which regularly appear in newly set up tanks. They normally go away when things have stabilised. It could also be blue green algae (Cyanobacter bacteria), which is a photosynthetic bacteria that can occur in any aquarium and spreads rapidly over stuff. It grows in a film/ sheet and can appear in a range of colours including dark blue, dark green, brown, black, purple, pink and red. It loves red light, nutrients, slow moving water and low oxygen levels.

If you let the brown algae grow a bit and then post another picture of it, we might have more idea of what it is. You can also see if it lifts off in a sheet/ film and smells musty mouldy. If it does lift off in a sheet and smells musty, then it is blue green algae.
__________________
Colin_T is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2023, 04:18 AM   #9
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 13
This is all great information. Thank you all for taking the time.
I'll do a larger water change tomorrow.

To hit on a couple points:
-when it happens it does kill the newer fish first and the established fish survive.
-the TA and PH spiked at the same time previously, and the KH was low. I read the ph can fluctuate unpredictably when KH is low and that's why I got the KH+ I'll be leaving that on the shelf from now on.
-the algae grows like a brown film across the glass, and darker brown built up layer on larger rocks and decor that sticks pretty strong. I'll let it grow back and update this thread when it does.

I'll see how it does after the water change tomorrow and update here as things progress.
Thank you all again for this helpful information
__________________
Jbeals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2023, 04:38 AM   #10
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Join Date: Oct 2022
Location: Perth in Western Australia
Posts: 1,238
The TA and pH going up at the same time would be from the KH buffer.

If the KH is too low, the pH can drop suddenly, but it doesn't go up suddenly unless you add something like Sodium Bicarbonate (baking powder). Then the pH and KH can skyrocket in minutes and the fish die from alkalosis. However, your tap and tank water has a low pH to start with so is unlikely to drop much further, and most tetras are fine in acid water because they come from acid water with a pH below 6.0.

Your tap water is ideal for soft water fishes from the Amazon and from tropical Asia. Fish that should do well in your water include things like angelfish, discus, most tetras, rasboras, Corydoras catfish, gouramis, Bettas and Apistogramma dwarf cichlids.

Angelfish and discus both get a bit big for your tank. Avoid dwarf gouramis (Colisa lalius) and their colour varieties because they regularly carry the Gourami Iridovirus and Fish Tuberculosis, neither of which can be cured.

---------------------

Let the brown algae grow for one week and then post a picture of it. Tell us how big the area is that it has grown in during that week. That will provide a good indication of whether it's diatoms or blue green algae. The Cyanobacteria grows a lot quicker than diatoms.
__________________
Colin_T is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2023, 08:23 PM   #11
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 13
Here's the brown algae that's grown so far
__________________
Jbeals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2023, 08:28 PM   #12
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 13
Sorry this page is glitchy on the phone
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	20230222_145635.jpg
Views:	8
Size:	70.1 KB
ID:	324973   Click image for larger version

Name:	20230222_144500.jpg
Views:	7
Size:	154.6 KB
ID:	324974  

Click image for larger version

Name:	20230222_144434.jpg
Views:	7
Size:	160.8 KB
ID:	324975   Click image for larger version

Name:	20230222_144456.jpg
Views:	7
Size:	165.9 KB
ID:	324976  

Click image for larger version

Name:	20230222_144411.jpg
Views:	7
Size:	146.6 KB
ID:	324977  
__________________
Jbeals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2023, 06:00 PM   #13
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Join Date: Oct 2022
Location: Perth in Western Australia
Posts: 1,238
Cyanobacter bacteria (blue green algae) in a brown colour form. It's growing because the tank was disturbed when you moved it and the ecological balance that was in it before, has been upset.

Increase water movement around the bottom of the tank.

Reduce dry food going into the tank.

Take out any rocks or ornaments and rinse them off under the garden hose to wash it off those items.

Do regular gravel cleans and water changes to physically remove the stuff.

If you are using a plant fertiliser, stop using it until this clears up.

Under good conditions this stuff will stop growing after a month or so and fade away. If it doesn't you can look for items that treat blue green algae. Some are antibiotics and should not be used. Others contain ingredients that aren't antibiotics and are generally fine to use.
__________________
Colin_T is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2023, 06:13 PM   #14
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 13
Yeah this started after the move and disturbance of the tank. This last go around I completely emptied it, bleach cleaned it and everything in the tank. As well as new gravel and substrate. I don't know how it survived and came back. Even got a new filter system to be sure it didn't come back.
This stuff is tricky
__________________
Jbeals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2023, 02:08 AM   #15
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Join Date: Oct 2022
Location: Perth in Western Australia
Posts: 1,238
Cyanobacteria is one of the oldest life forms on this planet. It was around before animals or plants and actually created the oxygen we breath, and that allowed other aerobic life forms to develop. It's in every waterway around the world, in fresh, brackish and seawater. It can get into an aquarium on plants, ornaments, and in water from a tank that has it. Give it a month and see how it goes, hopefully it settles down soon.
__________________
Colin_T is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2023, 04:50 PM   #16
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 13
Today's water reading. Things seem to have settled down a little, and algae isn't growing as fast as it was.
Did lose the frog after the water change when Alkalinity and PH spiked again. But the 2 resident fish and plants seem to be doing OK.
Will do another 75% water change this week and see how things go before adding plants and eventually fish again slowly.
Only bad reading is again the KH levels being low. Is that even anything worth worrying about? Because adding the kh boost before is what wiped out my whole tank
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	20230228_133902.jpg
Views:	3
Size:	109.1 KB
ID:	325022   Click image for larger version

Name:	20230228_133942.jpg
Views:	4
Size:	176.1 KB
ID:	325023  

Click image for larger version

Name:	20230228_133928.jpg
Views:	4
Size:	250.2 KB
ID:	325024  
__________________
Jbeals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2023, 12:33 AM   #17
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Join Date: Oct 2022
Location: Perth in Western Australia
Posts: 1,238
If you have fish that come from soft acid water (Beunos Aires tetras do), there is no need to add anything to raise the KH or pH. The only exception to this is if you are adding carbon dioxide (CO2) for plants, then you need the KH to be up around 100ppm so the pH doesn't drop quickly due to the CO2. Your tank doesn't have nor need CO2, so it doesn't need the KH buffer.
__________________
Colin_T is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2023, 12:46 AM   #18
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 13
Now that makes sense. When my tank previously went bad and my plants started dying with it, a petsmart fish department employee told me the plants need co2 to be healthy and sold me C02 booster. So that's one more thing for me to get rid of in my tank maintenance
__________________
Jbeals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2023, 01:21 AM   #19
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Join Date: Oct 2022
Location: Perth in Western Australia
Posts: 1,238
There are no natural waterways anywhere around the world that have supplemental CO2 added to them to make aquatic plants grow. People add CO2 to aquariums to help some marsh/ terrestrial plants grow underwater. These plants should not be grown in aquariums and the fact they need to add CO2 (as well as huge amounts of fertiliser and light) just to keep them alive is a clear indication they shouldn't be kept underwater.

In an average aquarium, there is a constant source of carbon dioxide produced all day and night by the fish, and the bacteria in the gravel and filter. More CO2 gets into the aquarium from the air mixing with the water. And plants release small amounts of CO2 when resting. There is no real need to add CO2, either in a gas or liquid form, to an aquarium. There is plenty in the water.

Liquid CO2 boosters often contain Glutaraldehyde, which is a disinfectant used to clean and sterilise medical equipment. It is highly toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms and people have wiped out tanks by adding too much of it. These products should not be used for aquariums.

For aquarium plants to use supplemental CO2, they need lots of light and lots of nutrients. Unless they have the light and nutrients, they won't use a lot of CO2, so there's no point adding extra. To check if your plants are getting lots of light, see if any of them produce streams of tiny little bubbles from their leaves. This is called pearling and is the plant photosynthesising and producing tiny bubbles of oxygen. Algae also does this when given bright light and nutrients.
__________________
Colin_T is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2023, 03:45 AM   #20
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 13
This is why I stopped taking advice from the "fish experts" at per stores. This guy was bragging about his set up at his house before giving me all the bad advice that killed my tank
__________________
Jbeals is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
algae, alkalinity, brown, brown algae, trouble

Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Water has yellow brown tint/brown algae present tsdobbi Freshwater & Brackish - General Discussion 6 09-19-2021 10:06 PM
Strange Brown Stains on One of My "Shipwreck" Ornaments...Is This "Brown Algae"? Osage_Winter General Hardware/Equipment Discussion 10 11-19-2010 05:08 PM
Brown Algae/diatoms/silicates trouble?? RYANLAWRENCE Saltwater Reef Aquaria 18 06-21-2010 09:04 PM
flourescent lime green algae AND brown algae courtneyclv Saltwater & Reef - Identification 3 07-27-2006 08:05 AM
lowering alkalinity alkalinity Loki4711 Saltwater Reef Aquaria 3 05-26-2005 11:39 PM







» Photo Contest Winners







All times are GMT -4. The time now is 08:54 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.