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Old 09-02-2007, 03:42 PM   #1
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Another Algae Issue

Hey AA guys. I could use your advice and information.

I have an algae problem that has gotten out of hand and now I really need some input to correct and, hopefully, solve the issue. The algae I have is the thick, smeary, dark-green algae on the leaves of plants and the glass, especially where the plants rub on the glass. The algae wipes off easily with a clean washcloth, but is back in a week. The algae will even come off pretty easy off of the plant leaves. I also have algae floating on the surface of the water. I also have some finger like algae on some plants. My water is clear, so not green water issues, but I run a UV light "filter".

Tank specifics:
125 gallon, two Rena Fistar canister filters
UV light on separate pump
384 watts of light, half for 10 hrs/day, full for 5 hrs/day on timers
pressurized CO2 with glass diffuser on timer with half and full light
well planted tank (a variety of swords but also some crypts & annubis)
community fish

Chemistry:
pH - 6.4
NHs/NH4 - 0
NO2 - 0
NO2 - 40 to 80
PO3 - 5 to 10
GH - 5
KH - 3
CO2 via chart - 35
temp - 82 to 84 (hot Arkansas summer, cooler during cooler weather)

Nutrients dosing:
KNO3 - 2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) 3x/week
KSO4 - 7.5 mL (1-1/2 tsp) 3x/wk
KPO3 - 1.2 mL (1/4 tsp) 3x/wk
Trace - 2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) 3x/wk
Iron - 1.2 mL (1/4 tsp) 3x/wk

Weekly care:
50% warter changes
GH Booster (Greg Watson) - 7.5 mL (1-1/2 tsp)
CaCO3 - 7.5 mL (1-1/2 tsp)
AP tap water conditioner - 30 mL

The chemistry has been pretty consistent for months now.

I know glass CO2 diffusers are not the most recommended, but it does keep my CO2 level up. Extra iron dosing is not needed, but my plants really responded well with the extra dose. I do use AP test kits, but also bought a SeaChem PO3 test kit to double check the AP kit and it read beyond the 3 ppm on the chart.

This week, I am going to cut back on KNO3 dosing to 1.2 mL, eliminate KPO3 dosing, and increase KSO4 dosing to 10.0 mL. folks here have recommended keep some KPO3 dosing, so I'll try to cut back for week, see what my levels are next week, and re-evaluate both PO3 and NO3.

What else can I do? What am I missing? What is going on? What can I do differently? What can I use to remove the floating algae (paper towel floated on top maybe)? Anything else you may want to know?

You guys here have always given excellent advice. I've gotten alot of poor and mixed advice from local fish stores, so my preference for advice is here with you guys.

Thanks for your time, information, and advice.

Rupret.
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Old 09-02-2007, 09:00 PM   #2
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The slimy blue green algae sounds like BGA (aka cynobacteria and not a true algae). Common causes are low to no Nitrates (doesn't look to be a problem in your aqarium if your test kits are at all accurate) and poor water flow (could be that the nitrates aren't getting distributed where needed, and you could look at adjusting the filter outputs or adding a powerhead or two). There's a few other causes that are less common, but I can't think of them at the moment.

Not sure on the other algae, I'd need a better description or a picture.
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Old 09-02-2007, 11:03 PM   #3
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I agree with Purrbox. Increasing Water flow is important, especially with this type-also it will help in increasing the O2 level. Also PO4 (phosphate) plays a large part in it's return. I would do a good cleaning on your tank and in your filter, then place a Phosabsorb in your filter for removal of the phosphate and silicate in your tank- (I did this for the removal of the silicate that now appears to be the cause of my issues). I have a heavily planted tank, Co2, CF lighting, fert dosing routine, etc and couldn't get my algae nuetralized until I added the phosphate/silicate absorbing chemicals. Now my tank looks beautiful. The lowering of phosphate luckily has not hurt my plants as they are flourishing. The hidden silicate in my tap appears to now be the main culprite. I only offer this suggestion as I did what I understood to do in maintaining my planted tank and still had problems - until the silicate removal - and now I am back on track. Increased phosphate and/or an imbalanced ratio of phosphate to nitrate will contribute to this type of "algae"
I personally might decrease the hours your tank lights are on also.
I know how frustrating this can be. Hopefully someone else with a little more experience than myself can offer some other suggestions.
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Old 09-02-2007, 11:46 PM   #4
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Re: Another Algae Issue

Reading your stats ... I would have expected your results to be quite a bit different than what you report ...

At your light levels ... I would have expected you to be dosing quite a bit more nitrate than what you have been ...

Given the low level of nitrates that you are dosing, I also would have expected your nitrate levels to be zero ...

The circulation recommendation is a good one ... there is nothing wrong with your phosphate levels, so I personally wouldn't do anything to try to reduce them (your water changes will help that naturally if you want them lower temporarily) ...

However ... I would encourage you to make a test solution with a gallon jug of water and test your nitrate test kit (you tested your phosphate kit by picking up a second test kit - nitrates are easy enough to test by simply making a gallon of solution up) ...

[If you want to use a dosing calculator to figure that out, use 1 gallon for your tank size, 1 ml for your dosing solution size, and about the smallest measurement you can reliably measure - your ppm results from the dosing calculator are what your test kit should tell you when you do the test ...]

You are on track conceptually doing what you are doing ... so somewhere, something isn't what it should be ... PurrBox suggested the nitrate issue and recommended increasing your current ( a great way of doing this is to place a powerhead a couple inches above your substrate) ... I am going to build upon what she said and encourage you to double check your nitrate test results ...

Greg Watson
http://www.gregwatson.com ...
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Old 09-03-2007, 09:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Chemistry:
pH - 6.4
NHs/NH4 - 0
NO2 - 0
NO2 - 40 to 80
PO3 - 5 to 10
GH - 5
KH - 3
CO2 via chart - 35
temp - 82 to 84 (hot Arkansas summer, cooler during cooler weather)

Nutrients dosing:
KNO3 - 2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) 3x/week
I had to look at this twice. I assume the NO2 of 40-80 is actually your NO3 reading? In line with what Purrbox and Greg mentioned, I also agree that something is amiss with the NO3 test. Your dosing is giving you 7.5ml a week, way too low to get those results unless of course you have some huge waste producer's in the tank?
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Old 09-03-2007, 01:21 PM   #6
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I am always puzzled with those test data. Your data looks like ideal for plant growth, but is it also ideal for algae growth? My point is, we always emphasize the water parameters for plant growth, but what is the exact parameters for algae growth? When water parameters are met for algae growth, it maybe or maybe not met for plant growth. But when parameters are met for plant growth, are they also met for algae growth?

I try to ask the difference (not overlapping) of ideal parameters for both of plant and algae so that I can really understand how to control algae.

Another thing is, for the overlapping parameters, both under ideal situation, does plant or algae absorbed quicker for each parameter than the other so that the other loses in the battle? Maybe some absorbed rates are similar, and some are really different.
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Old 09-03-2007, 01:36 PM   #7
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This is it in a nutshell: (taken from http://www.aquariumalgae.blogspot.com/ )

"Planted aquarium is a bit more complex, because there are not just fish to take care for, but plants also. It is true that plants will uptake the ammonia/nitrAte/phosphate and keep the water chemistry in high quality. But what happens when you suddenly experience the worst algae out-break in a planted tank?! You will ask "but how is that possible"!!!
Lets start with the fact that plants and algae need the same nutrient to thrive. Imbalance between lights, CO2, Macro and Micro elements will lead to algal growth. You see, when plants have all those elements balanced they are much faster in up-taking nutrient from water than algae are. Fast growing stem plants are very famous for keeping algae at bay for their ability to uptake nutrient in no-time. But when, for example, just one of these elements are reduced, plants will slow down their metabolism and will start to die off. Of course the plant will show deficiency symptoms like yellow leaves and pin-holes in leaves, etc. It is not enough to add a few fast growing plants to fight the algae, without providing right nutrient balance for them to thrive. Only happy plants will lead to a balanced Eco-system. Since algae are nutrient scavengers and much simpler life form than plants, they will take an advantage in unbalanced systems. So, all we need to do is to make sure our plants have enough lights, CO2, Macro and Micro nutrients. The fertilising regime depend on how strong the aquarium lights are."
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Old 09-03-2007, 04:53 PM   #8
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rkilling1, your response is a standard one and it works in most situations but I still feel lack of some understanding. If have enough lights, CO2, Macro and Micro nutrients, plants can grow well, but how about algae in this same condition? I guess it will grow well too unless algaes nutrients requirement is different. So, I do think to avoid algae, plant may keep depleting some nutrients from algae as it absorbs it quicker than algae does, or, algae needs a nutrient which plant does not care and it is depleted.

In the first case, you don't want to overdose since any extra will be used by algae, but need keep dosing to keep it at certain level just for plant. This could be light (definitely not CO2) or some nutrients which I don't know.

Another possibility is, some plants may excret some chemicals which can block algae growth, vice versa but I doubt the algae has the ability. Or, high level of CO2 or certain nutrients or chemicals can slow down the algae growth.

Life and ecology is too complicated to understand fully, even in a small aquarium.
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Old 09-03-2007, 06:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Life and ecology is too complicated to understand fully, even in a small aquarium.
But we can try to do the best we can. Rkilling's response isn't exactly standard, it is a very well known process. Algae is omnipresent so we know we cannot eradicate it. Slowing it's rate of growth and removing it's opportunities is what we all aim for. Perfection? I doubt anyone has had a planted tank that remained algae free even when they thought everything was ideal.
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Old 09-03-2007, 06:26 PM   #10
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gu2high,

I gave you the 'standard' response, if you will, because there are many factors that go into algae growth as compared to Aquatic Macrophyte growth. Much more then I would sit here and write down and that still wouldn't be half of it.

For most people this 'standard' response is acceptable and easy to understand. If you are one of those people, like me, who want to dig deeper into the processes that go on in your aquarium, I STRONGLY suggest you obtain a subscription to the Barr report news letter. It is published my Tom Barr and if very informative on all aspects of the planted aquarium.

The newest ones deal directly with different types of algae growth.

http://www.barrreport.com/

It's 13 bucks for a years subscription and you get to download all the previous news letters as well.
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Old 09-05-2007, 04:51 PM   #11
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Here ya go gu2high. I just found a response from Tom on the exact question you asked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plantbrain
Really?

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...........



Regards,
Tom Barr
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Old 09-07-2007, 01:50 PM   #12
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Ok guys. I have two 125 gph powerheads on order and also ordered a SeaChem nitrate test kit to test/comfirm my AP test kit. I have been puzzled by the high nitrate readings and low dosing, but have dosed according to my nitrate levels.

Wow, Greg Watson chimed in on this one. Thanks Greg! Although, I didn't quite understand the test solution, but do plan to double check my AP nitrate test kit.

Phosphates seem to be an interesting issue. High levels can easily lead to algae growth, but then there are recommendations not to back off on phosphate dosing. I can understand that some phosphates are not usable by plants but will still show up on tests. I have still been dosing phosphates, even with high readings, but am trying a brief trial with no dosing to see what happens.

The leaves of the plants still all look good, just covered with the algae or cynobacteria. Except for the algae/bacteria everything is looking good overall. The other algae I have present is a short fine looking finger or hairlike progections off of the leaves and bright green in color and waves with the current. It is only in a few places and too bad so far.

I read where if you have a cynobacteria problem, Erythromycin is a recommended treatment. I do not want to use any meds, especially immediately, but, if other attempts fail (ie: current, nitrates are accurate, phosphate lowers, etc), has anyone used Eyrthromycin and what were the results? Again, I would much rather take care of things naturally.

I'll have some new chemistry readings either later today or Sunday after I do a water change and filter cleaning. I may even back off on my lighting to maybe 8 hrs with half and 4 hrs with full light (full light being included in the 8 hrs of half).

Any other suggestions or advice? I do appreciate all you guys have contributions.

Thanks again,
Rupret.
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Old 09-09-2007, 11:03 AM   #13
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rkilling1, thanks for the information. From what I understand of the paragraph, it sounds to me NH4 plays a key role at algae control. NH4 can be taken and used directly by both plants/algae, not like NO3 which need take energy to convert it to be used. In a natural environment, there is no 'active and powerful' filter like our tank have, so the NH4 may not be converted by bacteria quickly and even a very low level of it in water may play a big role in algae life cycle. Under good plant condition, plant takes NH4 quickly during light time or cause fluctuation of its level may inhibit/disrupt algae life cycle. It also tells me why some plants like Ceratophyllym can inhibit algae since Ceratophyllym does not have roots but can take NH4 directly and quickly from water column by its leaves.

If we assumed NO3 play a similar role, then it could not convince me why we need dose it to keep it at a certain level to avoid algae, as constant level of NO3 would be ideal for algae growth too. Hence, NO3 level is not so important at algae control, but it is a main nutrient for plant growth.

I think neither CO2 plays a direct role in algae control, but it plays an indict role since sufficient CO2 help plant to absorb NH4 quickly.

A well flowed water column also avoids NH4 accumulation at some parts of tank and avoids algae boom there.

A powerful and well cultured filter may also help to control algae by eliminating NH4 quickly.
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