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Old 02-05-2007, 01:15 PM   #1
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FILTER questions and GSA

Greetings All!
Let me first say I am really enjoying the planted tank and the community here is amazingly helpful. So THANKS!

Recently I noticed that the intake on my filter was no longer littered with tiny scraps of...anything. So I took apart the filter and cleaned it. (Magnum 350 canister with filter floss in the basket) But after reassembling everything the outflow was not really much improved.

Since then I have seen my slight to moderate green spot algae become quite heavy on all the rocks. It is not too bad on the glass yet and I try to keep up on scraping it but the plecos and snails seem to be doing a decent job there.

This is probably a stupid question but How essential is good filtration to preventing algae? and How much should I have for a 55 gal moderately planted tank? What would be the best filter for this situation?

What is the best filter media? My dh beleives we should add carbon back in since we didnt have algae before we removed that. (But so many things have changed that I doubt that was the problem) Would the carbon remove the ferts we are dosing?

Honestly the tank looks beautiful even with all the rocks colored green, I am just still trying to get the balance right. I have had my light timer adjusted to 10 hrs per day for a couple of weeks now and am just today adding a third day of dosing since I gave that a little time to work. But with the filter issues I am not confident with anything anymore.

I know I need to get some test kits now for phoshate and potassium ...anything else?

What are the best test kits? Is there such a thing as a reliable inexpensive one?

Today my paramteres were : AP test kit
ammonia 0
nitrite 0
nitrate 5
ph 8.0

These are the same levels that they are always at everytime I test exept the nitrate is a bit lower. I assume from the recent pwc. I suppose my bioload is still small since my angels are still small...about quarter sized now. The community consists of:

7 Cherry Barbs
8 Lemon Tetras
6 Angelfish (quarter sized currently)
3 BN Plecos (about 2 inches long currently)
4 Cory paleatus
3 Dwarf Frogs
5 ghost shrimp (but I have not seen any in a couple weeks)
pond snails
black ramshorn snails

We are going to town tomorrow so hopefully I can get a new filter so any suggestions would be helpful.

Thanks!
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Old 02-05-2007, 03:06 PM   #2
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Have you tried cleaning the tubing leading to and from the filter? These can become coated with gunk that will slow down the flow of the filter.
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Old 02-05-2007, 03:21 PM   #3
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Filtration is not so much a contributor to algae, as much as poor circulation. Dead spots can tend to get various algaes. GSA, in general is considered to be caused by low phosphates. The algae itself is your testkit on that one. Also, at 5ppm (assuming reasonable accuracy of testing) is fairly low nitrates in aplanted tank. You will not find a potassium test kit. And the phosphate kit will be "tricky" at best.

Carbon filter, should probably be avoided with a planted tank. The carbon itself (supposedly) loses potency very quicly anyways, and the "dead" carbon may be used as a food source for the algae/bacteria (again supposedly).

As for the algae, if you only have GSA, then that it actually a sign that you are doing a good job with your tank. It is often the last algae to go away.

To give more detailed advice, would take more specific info on your fert routine, and light type. You covered the rest of the info pretty well.

FWIW, I like the look of GSA on my rocks and driftwood, and just clean it off the glass weekly.
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Old 02-05-2007, 09:25 PM   #4
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I will try cleaning the tubes as they are pretty dirty. I will have to ger a long pipe cleaner in town. That is a good suggestion.

My light routine is 10 hrs (10:30am to 8:30pm) and the light itself is 2x65w PC with 50/50 bulbs. (55 gal tank)

My fert routine has been 2x per week of:
1/2 tsp Potassium Nitrate
1/8 tsp Mono Potassium Phosphate
1/8 tsp Potassium Sulfate
1/8 CSM+B

At the beginning of the week I would divide up the 2x amount dosage into a 7 day pill organizer (alternating macro and micro every other day) so that I would dose a very small amount every day. Making it part of my daily routine was the only way to help me remember it consistantly. I have also been dosing 1 capful of excel every other day.

Upon very close inspection today it looks like perhaps another algae is in a couple of spots. I had not seen it before, it is long fine hairs that are dark green. it is attached to one of the rocks and very subtle. I could not see it until I really stared at it for a long time.

Water changes are once every two weeks with a 5-10% top off per week (lots of evaporation this winter). I was doing weekly at first but slowed down upon suggestions from others when I was dosing less.

Today I measured all my amounts into my "dosing" pill box at 3x per week measurements. Will this e enough of an increase in phosphates?

It has been recommended to me to increase phosphates before and then someone else warned me that too much could make the fish suffer, so I wanted to tweak everything else first....but I think I have done all I can do with the lighting and I am not ready to inject CO2 yet.

Any more input is appreciated.
Thanks so much!
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Old 02-05-2007, 10:05 PM   #5
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i had to clean out by tubing recently for the same reason, and discovered that tying a coiled up pipe cleaner or bit of sponge to a piece of fishing line or wire, then feeding it through to pull the cleaner through the tubing... worked great.
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Old 02-06-2007, 05:42 AM   #6
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I see several potential problems happygirl. So let me see if I can help.

1. If the filter outflow is decreased, it isn't working properly. Larger bits of debris can collect around the impeller. Make sure that is free. Planted tanks are especially vulnerable to this. To avoid the problem, a sponge prefilter will prevent plant matter from entering your filter. That sponge is also much easier to clean then opening up your cannister.

2. You've got more than 2 wpg worth of lighting. Without CO2 you're going to get algae. Here's why. Aquatic plants are more complex than algae. They require all of the building blocks (nutrients), for photosynthesis. Carbon is missing from your tank. Your tank is nutrient imbalanced without it. Without a carbon source algae, being simpler plants, will steal all of that light and thrive. Providing too much light without an essential nutrient is a recipe for growing algae.

3. You're only feeding the algae by adding ferts. Without carbon your plants can't utilize the other nutrients in the tank properly, but algae sure can. Think of it this way... Light is the engine that drives photosynthesis. Carbon is the oil that keeps the engine purring. You can fill the tank with gasoline and add all the cool additives but without oil that engine is going to sieze. Turn the engine way down until you're ready to add CO2.
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Old 02-06-2007, 10:24 AM   #7
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Actually the lighting isn't an issue since she's using 50/50 bulbs which are half actinic, and therefore only half of the lighting is usable. This means that her tank is in the medium low category instead of the medium high category that it would be in with daylight bulbs.

Definately a good idea to check the impeller to ensure that it isn't gunked up or damaged.
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Old 02-06-2007, 10:40 AM   #8
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oops........I missed the 50/50 part.
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Old 02-07-2007, 11:04 AM   #9
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Thank you. I will try the prefilter also, I think you are right in that it will be much easier to clean than the cannister. I will also double check the impeller too.

If I should happen to need a new filter, what are your recommendations....and what would you recommend as a good prefilter?

I will be ordering from Big Als soon anyway, so I guess I should start my list.

Is the excel that I am adding be an adequate source of carbon for now with my med-low light level? I am using 1 capful (recommended dosage on bottle for 55 gal) every other day.

I do eventually want to do CO2 just not for a while.
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Old 02-07-2007, 11:32 AM   #10
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Excel is just fine for your tank, if a bit expensive long term. While carbon is beneficial to your plants, you really don't have to use a carbon source unless you add more light to the tank.
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Old 02-08-2007, 11:40 AM   #11
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Well, the impeller was not clogged. It's like this filter is just on its death bed, cleaning tubes didnt improve anything much, it is no where near the level it was before. My dh looked at it too and cant find anything wrong, it just lost power. So I think it's time to buy a new one. I gues that's what we get for getting a used one on ebay.

So, my main question now is....what filter would you recommend? Good experiences, not so good experiences? I will be ordering online most likely unless I can find it at petsmart in Missoula.

Thanks for all the advice, I really appreciate it.
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Old 02-08-2007, 09:22 PM   #12
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We had the same problem with a Magnum on my sons 55. It didn't seem to have enough pressure to keep the hoses clear. He replaced it with a Rena XP3 and he loves it. Good Luck
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