If you use root tabs and no liquids, the plants will grow better and usually outcompete the algae. I get hair algae at the bases of plants and if ignored, long threads higher up in a big swordtail tank that is moderately planted, but the plants aren't big enough yet to keep the tank under control. The cause in my situation is a rich water column, a sequence of close together pwc's, vacuuming, scraping, hand picking, filter cleaning and then root tabs a day or two later will keep it at bay for a week or so.
This is assuming the tanks fundamentally OK, and your description seems fine. How deep is the substrate? Two inches or so in your small tank would be good.
My fish love the algae, but it's kind of a no win, the tank's heavily stocked and well filtered but they can't eat it fast enough. When the plants get very thick, it won't be problem, but not there yet.
I have an identical sword tank to the one mentioned that started long before it, the plants are thick, algae is minimal and maintenance very low. It did go through the same stage my hairy one is in now.
Both are 55 gal's with double canisters, one double H O t5 with a 6700 and plant tube and a N O with 6700 and plant tube. Lights are on 8.5 hrs total in two shifts.
The general tank behavior is about the same for every one of the 23 tanks I have, although sizes and shapes vary a lot and lighting somewhat. The ones near windows tend to grow glass algae, the ones with immature plants do too, but slower; the ones with mature plants grow almost none.
I'm coincidentally expecting a Finnex fugeray planted plus today for a 20 long, we'll see how it does, they're supposed to be excellent.
Last edited by Bloomer; 07-29-2014 at 06:30 PM.