5.5 gallon with constant algae - thinking about restarting - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 03:48 AM Thread Starter
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Question 5.5 gallon with constant algae - thinking about restarting

I'm thinking about restarting the aquarium in my signature line and would appreciate your answers to the following two questions:

  1. What is the best way to completely remove algae from the plants so they don't carry it into the new aquarium?
  2. Although my anubias and java fern get their nutrients from the water column, would it be worthwhile to mix something like laterite or Eco-Complete with the new gravel? Would nutrients from the supplemented gravel slowly release into the water and help with fertilization? All of my plants grow on small driftwood and rocks, and I expect their roots to eventually reach the substrate.
Here's the background. My aquarium in the signature line is a year old and has had persistent algae for about ten months. I think it started because of sunlight that reflected off of a mirror and into the corner of the tank. I eliminated the reflected sunlight, but the algae has clearly taken hold. Aside from the algae, I'd also like to replace the gravel and filter. Considering all three of those (algae removal, new gravel, new filter), I'm thinking it would be easier to restart.

Thanks!

5.5 gallon | one male betta | one anubias and three java fern | standard gravel | Finnex Stingray 16" | Deep Blue Professional Bio-Maxx Nano HOB filter | 25W heater at 78
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 03:54 AM
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Your problem is your lighting.
Finnex Stingray 16" is very strong for a 5 gallon. With less plant mass its hard to achieve a balance to fight the algae.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 05:06 AM
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Well yes if you want to change the gravel the easiest way is to restart the whole tank. I would however not recommend a restart as a reason to get rid of the algae. Old/stable tanks are easier to "solve for algae" then a new system.

The best way to sterilize most plants for algae is to make a 19:1 water : bleach solution. Allow the plants to soak for 1-2min and then remove. Wash with lots of water and put in a water with a heavy dose of dechlorinator. Some plants may take some damage from this treatment. Particularly this treatment is not suitable for Egeria, Vallisneria or Juncus repens. The same can be done to wood, equipment and aquarium. However algae spores are all around us, yes even in a desert. Keeping them out is pretty much a lost battle. What we can do however is preventing them to become the dominant part of our aquarium.

Given your setup I would not bother mixing anything in the gravel. Keep it simple. It also helps that you can vacuum the gravel/change the gravel without any problems in the future.

All the best,
duky

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your replies.

What do you suggest for a light for this aquarium? I also have a 12-inch Stingray, but it looks eerily dark on this tank and leaves the sides of the aquarium with little more than ambient light. I'm thinking about going back to an Aqueon hood and full-spectrum T8. From what I've read, the T8 looks brighter but is actually less intense than the Stingray. I suppose I could also get some duckweed to limit the light and add to the plant mass.

I think I'll hold off from restarting the aquarium.

5.5 gallon | one male betta | one anubias and three java fern | standard gravel | Finnex Stingray 16" | Deep Blue Professional Bio-Maxx Nano HOB filter | 25W heater at 78
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 08:30 PM
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The Aqueon hood might work. Or you could just cover some of LEDs with masking tape and/or start dosing excel.

If you want floaters, don't get duckweed. It's too messy. Salvinia minima, riccia, and water sprite are better.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 11:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Fishly. I checked out your link to your 5.5 aquarium. What do you use to dose the right amount of Excel for 5.5 gallons?

I've also considered adding some red crypt wendtii to my aquarium. How would that affect my choice of substrate? Would standard gravel and root tabs work? Would the addition of a few of those crypts have much effect on the light discussion above?

5.5 gallon | one male betta | one anubias and three java fern | standard gravel | Finnex Stingray 16" | Deep Blue Professional Bio-Maxx Nano HOB filter | 25W heater at 78

Last edited by VinceIII; 02-08-2017 at 11:39 AM. Reason: clarity
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 03:58 AM
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I recently wanted to move some plants from my 5gal, which had some nasty algae (all sorts), that I didn't want to transfer into a new tank. As an experiment I swapped my light out for one that seems like 1/4 as bright and dropped a few shrimp in the tank. A week+ later and those shrimp are making excellent work of the algae, nearly gone. I have a betta, too, and the only shrimp he seems to not stress out are clear (amano) or brown (my cherries are sometimes brown), however.

I didn't have much success with excel. And I did try a whole tank peroxide trick once, but didn't seem to help any. Couldn't take the plants out. My algae may have been too established.

I once heard that you can dim your light with photography gels? Not sure if that's a real thing though.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 03:34 PM
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I just cut off those leaves which were covered with algae that could not be readily removed and let them grow back! If the tank is properly set up they will regrow within a short period of time as mine did!
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Guvmarley. I replaced the Stingray with the T8. It actually doesn't look as bright as the Stingray, and I'm sure it's less intense in terms of PAR, lux, etc. Hopefully the algae will slow down, but I'm sure I'll need to do more than just changing the light to get rid of it. I've thought about a cleaning crew. I've heard conflicting things about how many snails or shrimp it takes.

Maybe I'll try a couple of amano shrimp and a snail. Another interesting option is what one online seller calls an "A-Team" (A for algae). It's a fiddler crab and nerite snail combo for each 5 gallons. The fiddler crab apparently goes through the gravel and eats the algae off of each piece. That sounds ideal for my tank's algae, but I'd worry about my betta getting too close and being snipped by the crab.

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Originally Posted by Eds hobby View Post
I just cut off those leaves which were covered with algae that could not be readily removed and let them grow back! If the tank is properly set up they will regrow within a short period of time as mine did!
I'll keep that in mind if algae on the leaves gets to be too much, but most of the algae is in the gravel.

5.5 gallon | one male betta | one anubias and three java fern | standard gravel | Finnex Stingray 16" | Deep Blue Professional Bio-Maxx Nano HOB filter | 25W heater at 78
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-10-2017, 09:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VinceIII View Post
Maybe I'll try a couple of amano shrimp and a snail.
That's the best team, one amano should be plenty. I have 1 and I'll sometimes take plants that have algae on em and float em in my 5 gal to let the amano clean it up.

Fiddler crabs... I recall catching them in salt and brackish water as a kid, dunno how long they'd last in fresh water.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-18-2017, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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Several days after switching to the T8, I've seen a small increase in algae. But I've seen that whenever I change a light, so I assume it's temporary.

I have a second betta in another 5.5 gallon tank in a different room. I set it up a few weeks ago, and now that one is starting to get algae too. Could the tap water be part of the problem? Would cutting the tap water with distilled water (with Kent RO Right and alkaline buffer added) be likely to help? How about 100% re-mineralized and buffered distilled water?

5.5 gallon | one male betta | one anubias and three java fern | standard gravel | Finnex Stingray 16" | Deep Blue Professional Bio-Maxx Nano HOB filter | 25W heater at 78
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