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Old 04-17-2007, 06:20 PM   #1
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hair algae is EVIL.

Hi guys! Okay, so I've been surfing the web about algae, reading stickies, everyone else's posts, etc... and I'm still not sure what to do about the hair algae in my tank.

It's a 40 gallon with 78W of T5 HO lighting above it (one 6700K bulb, one 10,000K). I'm running an AquaClear 70 and a VisiTherm Stealth Heater (200W?) at about 78 degrees, raised from 77 a couple days ago. It's been set up for a little over a month (fishless cycled) and has small gravel as the substrate. It's stocked with 1 very cute baby bristlenose pleco, 6 peppered cories, two golden wonder killifish, four platies, and 7 gold barbs. Actually, right now I have 5 platy fry (1-3 weeks old) in a net breeder hanging on the side.

For plants, I have a little java fern, lots of java moss that I've just reduced to a little java moss, a little dwarf lobelia cardinalis (with a bit of BBA on it, I think), some anacharis, a good bit of well-growing corkscrew val (lots of baby plants, growth almost the length of my tank on top...), one tiny banana plant, one anubias nana still in its pot, and 4 new bunches, 2 each of rotala indica and mayaca. Oh, and some duckweed that I've decided can't possibly be as harmful as everyone says... right? I do have one chunk of malaysian driftwood in the tank, as well as a coconut shell cave.

My water params (by the AP FW Master Kit) are:
ph of 7.4-7.6 (depending on whether the low range or high range test is used)
Ammonia: 0 (possibly a trace, I've NEVER seen it look perfectly yellow but it's not nearly .25 either?)
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 10ish
Tap water's pretty hard, but I don't have a kit to test it exactly.

My last PWC was about 40-50% on Saturday, I've been doing those every week since the tank was set up.

My tank is swimming in hair algae. We've had lots of diatoms too (pulled out the java moss almost a week ago, placed it in a bowl with some tap water, poof, more diatoms today) but they seem to have settled for now. I am amazed at how fast the hair algae grows. It's sticking to the glass, the driftwood, the java fern, the val, the filter outflow... and it was SCARY in the java moss before I thinned that out.

I guess I'm not convinced I need to be dosing any fertilizers at this point because my plants are growing really well, my nitrates aren't terribly low, etc - but I do have some Excel I could add (and am tempted to try, it seemed to clear out some of the hair algae on the java moss I removed from the tank) but I'm concerned about the fry....


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Old 04-17-2007, 07:13 PM   #2
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Unfortunately your lighting is too high for you not to grow hair or various other types of algae without a good fertilisation schedule. Check the fertilisation sticky at the top of the forum for suggestions. You may wind up having to use CO2 as well but ferts may help you get things under control.

IME, phosphates bottoming out will let hair algae take hold. YMMV.

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Old 04-17-2007, 07:50 PM   #3
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Noooooooo!!!! Not CO2!!!!!!!

Thanks for the tips, I was trying to get enough light to grow something besides java moss, but not so much that I'd need CO2, etc. I guess I might have to learn about fertilization after all, darn it! The plants look good though... argh.

Going to go read the sticky (and read up on phosphates).... Think I can get away with a couple plant tabs under the roots?
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Old 04-17-2007, 07:54 PM   #4
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You are right at 2 wpg and the t-5s push that higher. Your nitrates are at 10 and with a hobby kit could be much lower. You need to start a dosing plan. I think you will find you need CO2 to get this under control. Most plants feed from the water column so I am going to say a few root tabs will not do the job. You could try excel to see what effect that has on the situation but I would seriously start looking at injecting CO2 into the tank.
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Old 04-18-2007, 10:48 AM   #5
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Perhaps some Excel if you're not keen on the C02? I dose 25 gallons of water total, and it's really not prohibitively expensive. Maybe that would help calm it down, at least. 'course, I don't know anything about plants really....

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Old 04-18-2007, 11:06 AM   #6
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With that amount of light you should probably consider CO2.

Start using your Excel, it should help with the algae. You could just start dosing it daily like the instructions say, it isn't as expensive as people say since a 2L for like $26 would last you over a year.
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Old 04-20-2007, 03:54 AM   #7
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Two questions - first off, I know the T5 HO lights are nice, I have shiny nice reflectors, but I thought 40 gallons was still small enough that just under 2WPG was still low-medium light? Not quite?

Second - can Excel be used with fry/cories/plecos in the tank? And with my anacharis and vallisnerias, should I use half the regular dosage? I figure I've got it, if I CAN use it I'll give it a shot.

Third (yeah, I know, I said two...) - if I just run 39W of T5 HO over my tank, will my plants still grow?

THANKS guys! I really do appreciate the help!
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Old 04-20-2007, 07:01 AM   #8
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Another thing to think about. I have been looking high and low for info on algae as well. I have yet to find much information on ways to distinguish hair algae from thread algae. >IF< your algae is thread algae, it's usually caused by too much iron in your tank.

And on that note, if anyone knows of a good way to tell the 2 apart, please PM me. I have hair/thread algae and I am not sure which one I have.

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Old 04-20-2007, 07:32 AM   #9
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Hair algae is shorter tufts no more than about an 1" long. Thread algae is extremely long and looks the some nice fine green thread that's gotten tangled in your plants.

The WPG "rule" is for T12 fluorescents over average sized tanks which yours would be included in. So 2 WPG of T12 lighting over your 40 gallon would be medium light. Since T5 are quite a bit more efficient, you get bumped into the medium high to high category where CO2 needs to be considered.

Excel used at the recommended dosage would be fine with the fish. You may or may not be able to use it with the Anacharis and Vals. You can try the half dose and see if they adapt or not. Sometime they'll adapt with no problem, while other plants never adapt and insist on turning to mush.
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Old 04-20-2007, 03:37 PM   #10
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Aha! Thanks for clearing up the WPG stuff - okay, fine, so I have too much light. Ok.

Er, I have thread algae. Not hair algae. Oops. Although who knows, I could have both. If I've too much iron in the tank, why? Water supply? And what do I do?
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Old 04-20-2007, 07:51 PM   #11
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When you get the lighting under control get some Oto's. I had TERRIBLE thread algae and the dark green everywhere and I am telling you...2 days was all it took. I added three to the tank and kept the lights off for the first 10 hours. It was amazing the the tank had never looked better.
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Old 04-22-2007, 04:28 PM   #12
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I had both very terrible hair and thread algaes one month ago. The hair algae was 1 inch on leaves and sinking wood. The thread algae was several inches. After I dose root tabs with iron and KN03, etc. things became worse.

Finally, I sinked most of plants and woods in bleach for 3-5 minutes to get rid of the algaes. Then did a large PWC, stop adding ferts and root tabs, reduced light from 4wpg to 2wpg. And, added an American Flag fish - it is a big help and I am searching another one for making a pair.

Other fishes may help a little bit are molly, guppy, platy and pleco.
Now the algaes are under well controlled.
I use DIY CO2, one 2-liters and one 3-liters bottles. Change one bottle every 2 weeks.

The lesson may be, don't use too much light and don't use root tab with iron and other chemicals. My plants are doing very well now without those ferts.

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algae, hair, hair algae

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