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Old 09-18-2007, 04:10 PM   #1
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algae on back glass = algae on plants?

Hi guys,

Does the amount of algae (green mossy/short haired type) allowed to grow elsewhere in an aquarium affect it's ability to grow on live plants?

What I mean is, in my tank I allow the algae for the most part to cover the back glass and also to grow on some of my larger rocks.. I actually like the more natural look and have heard it is beneficial.. but as I am now beginning to get more serious about growing plants I wondered if having this algae around increases the chances of having algae issues with my plants? or are the two unrelated...

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Old 09-18-2007, 04:16 PM   #2
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If you have algae growing on your rocks and glass, then you'll get it on the plants too. It won't affect the plants' growth, per se, especially faster growing plants, but slow growers like Anubias and Java fern will get covered.

Algae in your tank indicates that there is an imbalance in one (or more) of the ingredients necessary to grow plants: light, CO2 and nutrients. if you start growing plants in the tank, the plants will pretty quickly tell you where the shortage is by their deficiency symptoms. All the properly balanced planted tanks I have seen have little to no visible algae in them.
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Old 09-18-2007, 04:29 PM   #3
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thanks newfound*...

so it's basically one or the other then? can't have the two living together in harmony? that's a shame..

But just to be sure I understand.. so say I have a tank that never had plants.. the back glass is never cleaned so is eventually coated with algae. I now introduce plants and set all the parameters perfectly for lively plant growth.. by leaving the algae on the back glass I am doing what? increasing the chances that algae will find its way to the plants? or is the existing algae actually going to 'out compete' the plants? Or should the algae go away due to the plants 'taking over'?

I know it's kinda weird but it just seems a bit to sterile and unnatural when everything is wiped clean of algae.
Hehe, plus not looking forward to having to scrape all that algae from my tank... gonna be a big mess..
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Old 09-18-2007, 05:33 PM   #4
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Algae grows when there are nutrients available and grows on any surface.

Plants are able to take up these nutrients faster than the algae when in proper balance. Plants will out compete the algae when things are balanced. So you will get reduced algae growth. You can grow both plants and algae together, but there isn't a way to have the algae not grow on slow growing plants.

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Old 09-18-2007, 07:42 PM   #5
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I've mentioned this in the past, every tank has algae in it. It's the amount of visible algae that causes concern and what is being controlled. Unfortunately you cannot control the algae and plants simultaneously. One or the other will win. There is no sharing.
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Old 09-18-2007, 10:16 PM   #6
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I have to throw in a different opinion. Algae and plants are pretty much the same thing. One is more complex then the other though. If you have everything a plant needs to grow, algae will grow also.

Losing control of a parameter that a plant (Submersed Aquatic Macrophyte) needs to grow efficently, leads to algae outbreaks as we all know. This has more to do with algae being a simpler life form and able to convert any situation to be benefical to itself. Algae also has to be able to adapt faster to changes in it's environment in order to servive, where SAM's are generally slower to adapt to these same changes.

This biggest issue that araises is algae spore growth or generation. When conditions are ideal for the plants to grow efficently, generally the spores do not develope as fast. It's not about 'out competing' one another.

IMO, is you have a tank full of algae, adding more light and/or nutrients will only allow for more (mature) algae growth.


Here is a better explanation from Tom:

Originally Posted by Plantbrain

Why is that?
Both use the same nutrients.

The issue is an ecological issue, not a competition.
If you add fresh well growing algae and plants in equal amounts, the algae will grow as well.

What occurs is germination of algae spores in our tanks in response to a parameter, Typically CO2/NH4. Does not take that much and more light means it'll happen faster and be more sensitive.

Once there are adult algae then it's tough to get rid of it.
The key in new growth.

Stop that, and you stop algae.
We do not raise plants from seed, algae produces lots of spores and they run through various sexual cycles in our tanks.

Plants do not.

We add lots of plant biomass, produce them vegetatively, algae are induced to grow using NH4/CO2 variations.

I think folks like to use the word phrase "out compete" without considering what that means.

Many folks use that phrase for some reason.........

When the levels of CO2 are good, the NH4 uptake is rapid and O2 levels are also high, so the plants control the environment, not the other way around..........at least when you have enough plant biomass and feed them well so they can maintain a good growth rates/uptake of NH4.

Both algae and plants can and do use NO3..........but that does not induce/germinate algae blooms...........

Tom Barr
My Planted Aquariums
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Old 09-19-2007, 10:40 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone for your comments.. I'm now convinced to get rid of the collateral algae... ugh.. guess I'm gonna be doing a lot of siphoning and vacuuming this weekend.. have an uphill battle on my hands I think...
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Old 09-20-2007, 09:32 AM   #8
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Depending on your tank size (due to cost) think about investing in a diatom filter. These things have many uses, and this is the perfect time for one. You set it up similar to a canister filter (with the input on one side and the output on the other) and just go to town cleaning the algae. The diatom will filter out all the crud while you work, and when you're done you will have a crystal clear tank without the water loss from vac'ing all the gunk up.

$80-100 for a good unit, I would not recommend buying the cheaper ones, trust me, that was an expensive mistake....

Main (20g) - A throng of guppy and platy, Pressurized CO2, Ferts, All Live Plants (Very old pic, new one forthcoming)
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Old 09-22-2007, 12:16 PM   #9
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FWIW - I never scrub the back glass in my 72-gallon and don't have any problems. As others have mentioned here, algae is ever present in your aquarium - the goal is just to keep it in check. I have a black back on my tank and you really can't tell, but I am sure that there is at least a years worth of GSA on that glass.

If it was infested with BBA - I would probably blast it with excel and let the fish and shrimp eat the dead stuff off - call me lazy, but scrubbing the back of my tank would be a huge PITA...
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