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Old 09-28-2022, 06:02 PM   #1
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Algae outbreak

Here trying to find out what the consensus is on algae bloom. My local store says algae isnít bad for the fish it just looks bad to us. They suggested UV light to clear it along with daily Flourish excel and weekly Flourish.

I read that UV lights can kill too much bacteria, kill fish etc so am afraid to mess with them now.

I added a Fluval Clearmax packet in the filter on Saturday and am not seeing an improvement. Today I did a small water change and moved the packet to the front of the hanging filter instead.

20g, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate, 0.25 ammonia, 7 pH, I havenít had phosphorus level checked. Advice? TIA .

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Old 09-28-2022, 06:27 PM   #2
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UV should either be a sealed unit, a bit like a filter, that water runs through or located somewhere like a sump where fish dont live. No risk to fish as they never come into contact with the UV. Also no risk to your cycle as the bacteria doesnt live in the water, it lives in your filter, on the glass, substrate etc. So again no risk to your beneficial bacteria as it never comes into contact with the UV. It will kill bacteria in the water, but thats not necessarily a bad thing.

UV will only deal with algae in the water, ie green water. It wont do anything to help with algae on your glass, aquascape etc. Again because the algae never comes into contact with the algae.

What type of algae do you have?

Excel is a mild algaecide. General use might have a small effect on noticable algae build up. Spot treating with excel is an effective treatment for blackbeard algae. Flourish will help your plants grow, take up more nutrients and deprive algae of nutrients.

As you have been informed algae is safe for fish, just unsightly. I like a bit of algae, makes a tank look more natural and lived in.

If you have an algae problem you want to deal with, its better to deal with it at source rather than control it through products and treatments. Control the lighting, control the nutrient levels, have something that likes to eat algae in the tank. Some algae is almost inevitable in a lit tank. Its about managing things to a point where you are happy with how much algae you are prepared to look at/ manually clean up.
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Old 09-28-2022, 06:37 PM   #3
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Idk what kind of algae. I have a 2" pleco, altho I don't see algae on surfaces, just a greenish hue in the water column.

I cut out fish flakes and am feeding catfish wafers to pandas, algae wafer to pleco, and bloodworms to bettas and angel. Also, cut down light to 5-7 hrs daily.

So I guess it's not really a concern, it just makes the water look dirty. Should I continue a small water change a week? Should I continue Excel+Flourish?

If I put a small UV light in my filter for a couple hrs daily then it would come in contact with bacteria. My tank has a LED hood cover, so not sure where else it would go.

(Also, the Fluval phosphorus-removing packet... is it ok to leave in? My local store says removing all the phosphorus isn't good and can mess with pH.)
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Old 09-28-2022, 06:57 PM   #4
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The most likely cause for green water is too much light. Either the tank is located too close to natural daylight or the aquarium light is on too long.

Your lighting period is now at a good level, but it will take weeks, maybe months, to see an improvement.

Im not saying put UV in the filter. Im saying the UV is a sealed unit like a filter. Like this.



Im not a fan of using any chemical filter media except to deal with specific issues. Do you have a phosphate issue? 99% of the time changing water will deal with phosphate build up same as it deals with nitrate build up. You should always be changing some water every week.

I would only use flourish and excel to promote plant growth. I assume you have a planted tank? An all in one plant fertiliser like flourish is always a good idea.

Are you sure its green water and not a tea like colour?
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Old 09-28-2022, 08:56 PM   #5
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Ok thanks for the information about about chemical filter media. Also, good to know changing the lighting and food take a long time to make a difference. I'll continue water changes, and I'll work on having it tested for phosphates- I think it’s phosphate because when I do water changes I use Seachem Discus Buffer due to my tap being pH 8. It has a lot of phosphate too right? Not sure the solution to that…

Yes, I have many plants.

It's not bright green, it could be described as a cloudy brownish hue I guess, it sort of depends on if the light is on or not. From the front in light it looks cloudy (tea maybe?) and from the side or in the dark looks more greenish.

What would it mean if it's a tea colored hue?
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Old 09-29-2022, 08:03 AM   #6
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Why are you using a phosphate buffer? And then using a phosphate removing pad to remove what you are dosing?

Tea coloured water would indicate tannins, probably coming from any driftwood in your aquascape. It should clear up over time as the tannins all leech out, but activated carbon in your filter will absorb it also.
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Old 09-29-2022, 11:55 AM   #7
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This is what I’ve been told to use by 2 local stores for lowering pH, along with the Seachem Alkaline Buffer to raise pH. Which do you suggest instead?

My hanging filter only has biomedia rocks/gravel- it doesn’t have an activated carbon filter
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Old 09-29-2022, 12:05 PM   #8
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Is your pH an issue?
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Old 09-29-2022, 12:10 PM   #9
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I think so when doing water changes, due to my sink water being 8+ pH.

Otherwise, it has fluctuated sometimes since I started in July when I’ve added new fish/changed filter type and had ammonia or nitrite spikes.

What’s a good product to use without (as much/any) phosphates to lower pH? Unless you think it’s not necessary to lower the pH of the water from the sink before adding it?
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Old 09-29-2022, 12:16 PM   #10
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All of your previous posts indicate a pH of below 7.
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Old 09-29-2022, 12:23 PM   #11
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Yes I add enough of the buffer when I do water changes in order to keep new water pH around 6.8. I never add sink water without first lowering pH. The times pH has fluctuated is during an ammonia or nitrite spike- new fish or when I removed the original cartridge filter to put it on my new 10g. During these times I’ve done a lot of water changes which means I was adding buffer (phosphates).

Am I doing the water changes wrong? Should I change pH neutralizers?
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Old 09-29-2022, 01:27 PM   #12
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If i was wanting to reduce tapwater pH and simply adding driftwood wasnt getting to where i wanted to be, i would just mix my tapwater with spring/ distilled/ RO water at water changes. You dont need to be down where you currently are, anything less than 8 is fine.

If you think your issue is phosphates, stop adding phosphates and then removing them with chemical media.

Trying to chemically manage pH almost always leads to more issues than it solves. While i wouldnt count adding buffering salts as being "chemical" management if its causing an issue and you don't need to do it, i would stop.
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Old 09-29-2022, 05:12 PM   #13
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Are "buffering salts" what are in the phosphorus packets? Similar to regular aquarium salts?

I'll start doing this with my water changes, I had been sometimes already. That makes sense, thank you!
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Old 09-29-2022, 07:31 PM   #14
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pH is never an issue. Never. You donít need to do anything to change it. Their is a falsely created notion that pH needs to be at a specific value and that notion was created to generate money from selling pH altering chemicals to hobbyists who will never need it. For your own sake please dispose of the phosphate buffer.

Secondly, phosphate isnít the cause of algae. If phosphate was the sole cause of algae proliferation then people who dose phosphate fertiliser to feed plants would be overrun with algae and this isnít the case. Therefore, phosphate causing algae can be ruled out.

Green water is often the result of strong light and a heavy bioload. Overfeeding etc. It will go away when you cut way back on feeding and reduce the intensity of your light. The pleco will not be helping matters here I can assure you. Not until the tank is stable.

A floating plant like duckweed will help remove any excess nutrients from the water column that the green water is feeding on.
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Old 09-29-2022, 07:37 PM   #15
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Thank you! I have pennywort floating along with foxtail, anubius, amazon sword, tiger lotus and some moss. There is a very large drift wood, but I had boiled it for a week and soaked it.

I talked to my local store today and they say: hold the water up in a clear container to a white wall in the light... is it brown or green? Brown tannins from wood mean add Purigen (and/or carbon filter?). Green cut down on light and food. Either color not harmful to fish.

Just did the experiment and it isn't green. It looks tan, white, light brown, cloudy, foggy. I ordered a carbon filter since I didn't have one and will continue the less light and food, and water changes using spring water to modify pH.

If there's ammonia in the tank isn't a high pH making it toxic, and alternately a low pH causing low water oxygen? Are these myths too?
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Old 09-29-2022, 07:51 PM   #16
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pH has no bearing on oxygen. Temperature, salinity, atmospheric pressure, plants, surface agitation, pollution all have bearings on oxygen.

As for pH making ammonia toxic then yes if the ammonia and/or pH is too high but which of the two is the real problem here? Ammonia or pH. Iíve already told you that pH is never an issue The ammonia needs to go. Ammonia is the largest danger to aquarium life.

Start using your intuition and senses as test kits. If the fish are ok then keep calm and carry on. Most problems can be averted with a simple water change and decent conditioner anyway.
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Old 10-02-2022, 07:59 AM   #17
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Can we get a picture of the tank so we can see the algae/ green water, tannins or whatever it is?

What fish do you keep?
If you have fish that prefer soft acid water, then a pH of 8+ might be a bit high for them.
If you have fish that come from water with a high pH, then 8 might be fine for them.

You can use peat moss to drop the pH but it also turns the water brown from tannins. Tannins are harmless but make it harder to see the fish.

Do you have many live aquatic plants in the tank?
Quite often you can get rid of algae problems by adding some floating plants like Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides/ cornuta). It grows across the surface and if you get too much, you can plant it in the substrate/ gravel.

If you have an algae problem, do big water changes and gravel clean the substrate, add live plants and reduce light. The live plants help to use excess nutrients and light and are the best option (unless you have fish that eat them).
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