Please help with solving my algae mystery! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-17-2017, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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Please help with solving my algae mystery!

Algae has been a never ending battle in my tank for a few years. I've upgraded this, and changed that, tested everything I can think of.....and I still haven't been able to get rid of it!

I've got many kinds of algae:
  • Black brush algae covers my leaves, driftwood and rocks. I also have this other brush-like algae that is almost a turquoise color...not sure if that's the same? The turquoise is actually kind of pretty, as it moves kind of silvery in the water current.
  • Then I have the lovely green dust algae that I'm constantly scraping off my glass every week.
  • Staghorn is on several of my sword plants.
  • Some sort of green fuzz on a lot of my crypto.
  • And then I have a thick green mat that grows on the substrate, that I assume is blue green algae, but it's not really slimy, it's more fuzzy and thick. When I pick it up, it clings onto my substrate. So I end up throwing a lot of the top layer of my substrate out. Is that blue green algae?
  • And some sort of filament algae
It sounds like I'm completely inexperienced or this is a new tank, right? This ecosystem is over 10 years old, with upgrading to bigger tanks over the years. And I've had tanks all of my life! But this has always been my problem I cannot quite tackle.


Tank & Water Stats:
  • 55 gal
  • Lighting - Finnex Planted+ 24/7 LED (I do not use the 24 hour cycle mode. I put it on max for 10 hrs a day. I used to use the 24 hr mode when I first got it, and it made the algae worse, so I switched to max for 10 hrs. Then I turn it to all dark blue at night.)
  • Dosing method - Estimated Index, using GLA's fertilizers. I stopped adding nitrates because they got too high (80-100ppm).
  • Substrate - Eco Complete
  • Co2 injection - drop checker is usually a turquoise in the morning, and then emerald green throughout the day. I added Co2 a year ago in hopes of it taking care of the algae, but nope. I'm using the actual solution (not water) in the drop checker.
  • SunSun Canister Filter HW303B
  • Water circulation - power head and spraybar (outtake of the filter) is on the right side of the tank. And intake of the filter is on the left side of the tank. Co2 diffusion sits right under the power head.
  • Fish - 6 mollies, 2 clown loaches, 2 tetras and 1 a-hole, oh, I mean red tailed shark
  • pH 7.6
  • temp 78F
  • ammonia - 0
  • nitrites - 0
  • nitrates - 30-40ppm (sometimes 60ppm)
  • phosphate - 0 (no matter how often I add phosphate, it always reads 0)
  • gH - 11d
  • kH - 5d
  • 50% water changes every week.
What am I missing? What do I need to change here? TIA! TIA! TIA!

Bump: And i just noticed my title under my name as "algae grower." Oh, so appropriate! lol
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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-17-2017, 11:10 PM
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Please help with solving my algae mystery!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharper View Post
Algae has been a never ending battle in my tank for a few years. I've upgraded this, and changed that, tested everything I can think of.....and I still haven't been able to get rid of it!

I've got many kinds of algae:
  • Black brush algae covers my leaves, driftwood and rocks. I also have this other brush-like algae that is almost a turquoise color...not sure if that's the same? The turquoise is actually kind of pretty, as it moves kind of silvery in the water current.
  • Then I have the lovely green dust algae that I'm constantly scraping off my glass every week.
  • Staghorn is on several of my sword plants.
  • Some sort of green fuzz on a lot of my crypto.
  • And then I have a thick green mat that grows on the substrate, that I assume is blue green algae, but it's not really slimy, it's more fuzzy and thick. When I pick it up, it clings onto my substrate. So I end up throwing a lot of the top layer of my substrate out. Is that blue green algae?
  • And some sort of filament algae
It sounds like I'm completely inexperienced or this is a new tank, right? This ecosystem is over 10 years old, with upgrading to bigger tanks over the years. And I've had tanks all of my life! But this has always been my problem I cannot quite tackle.


Tank & Water Stats:
  • 55 gal
  • Lighting - Finnex Planted+ 24/7 LED (I do not use the 24 hour cycle mode. I put it on max for 10 hrs a day. I used to use the 24 hr mode when I first got it, and it made the algae worse, so I switched to max for 10 hrs. Then I turn it to all dark blue at night.)
  • Dosing method - Estimated Index, using GLA's fertilizers. I stopped adding nitrates because they got too high (80-100ppm).
  • Substrate - Eco Complete
  • Co2 injection - drop checker is usually a turquoise in the morning, and then emerald green throughout the day. I added Co2 a year ago in hopes of it taking care of the algae, but nope. I'm using the actual solution (not water) in the drop checker.
  • SunSun Canister Filter HW303B
  • Water circulation - power head and spraybar (outtake of the filter) is on the right side of the tank. And intake of the filter is on the left side of the tank. Co2 diffusion sits right under the power head.
  • Fish - 6 mollies, 2 clown loaches, 2 tetras and 1 a-hole, oh, I mean red tailed shark
  • pH 7.6
  • temp 78F
  • ammonia - 0
  • nitrites - 0
  • nitrates - 30-40ppm (sometimes 60ppm)
  • phosphate - 0 (no matter how often I add phosphate, it always reads 0)
  • gH - 11d
  • kH - 5d
  • 50% water changes every week.
What am I missing? What do I need to change here? TIA! TIA! TIA!

Bump: And i just noticed my title under my name as "algae grower." Oh, so appropriate! lol


Light light light. Finnex 24/7 Planted PAR/LUX/Kelvin/PUR readings

I'm guessing you are at 18" debth from light to substrate. It's a pretty powerful light especially at 18" on max setting. If you are doing co2 you need to ensure 30ppm by the time the lights come on. Test with ph pen and kh readings at that time. Also how is the flow in your tank? You want good flow to ensure the co2 is evenly distributed. Place the drop checker at opposite end of tank where co2 comes in and also ph check that side.

One thing that really sticks out is you say phosphates are at 0. You should not be reading 0. Most likely your testing is bad so get another gh test kit. If you are at 0 then that really bad as plants need phosphates. It's a very important nutrient. Do you have some kind of phosphate remover in your filtration? This sounds to be the case and you need to remove it. Could be like phosguard or something. Plants need this. And could explain the issue. You typically want a 10:1 nitrate:phosphate ratio. So 20 nitrate to 2 phosphate. You need to really ensure your correct level of phosphate and get to the bottom of it.

For the time being drop your photoperiod to 7 hours till you figure out the issue which hopefully I have helped. Then dose two times the amount of excel or metricide to help kill and rid the algae.

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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-17-2017, 11:28 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clownplanted View Post
Light light light. Finnex 24/7 Planted PAR/LUX/Kelvin/PUR readings

I'm guessing you are at 18" debth from light to substrate. It's a pretty powerful light especially at 18" on max setting. If you are doing co2 you need to ensure 30ppm by the time the lights come on. Test with ph pen and kh readings at that time. Also how is the flow in your tank? You want good flow to ensure the co2 is evenly distributed. Place the drop checker at opposite end of tank where co2 comes in and also ph check that side.

One thing that really sticks out is you say phosphates are at 0. You should not be reading 0. Most likely your testing is bad so get another gh test kit. If you are at 0 then that really bad as plants need phosphates. It's a very important nutrient. Do you have some kind of phosphate remover in your filtration? This sounds to be the case and you need to remove it. Could be like phosguard or something. Plants need this. And could explain the issue. You typically want a 10:1 nitrate:phosphate ratio. So 20 nitrate to 2 phosphate. You need to really ensure your correct level of phosphate and get to the bottom of it.


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I do have the drop checker on the opposite end and it's emerald green. But I don't think it's green at the beginning of the day. I'll move my Co2 timer to start earlier.

I have a powerhead and outake spray bar on the right side of my tank, and then the drop checker and intake on the left side. However, my Co2 is injected through a GLA ceramic stone diffuser that sits right under the power head. I can see the bubbles going pretty far over in the current. Even though the drop checker reads that the Co2 is good, should I still switch to an inline reactor?

Yes, I haven't had phosphates in years! I keep adding it, but the test keeps coming up as 0. I use API Phosphate test kit and it doesn't expire until 2019. I don't have any phosphate remover in the filter. I have Fluval Biomax rings biomedia, activated charcoal and filter floss. I've been adding GLA's KH2PO4 Mono Potassium Phosphate every other day (EI dosing), yet my test always read zero. I guess it may just be the test solution? I'll see about ordering a different brand.
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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-17-2017, 11:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharper View Post
I do have the drop checker on the opposite end and it's emerald green. But I don't think it's green at the beginning of the day. I'll move my Co2 timer to start earlier.

I have a powerhead and outake spray bar on the right side of my tank, and then the drop checker and intake on the left side. However, my Co2 is injected through a GLA ceramic stone diffuser that sits right under the power head. I can see the bubbles going pretty far over in the current. Even though the drop checker reads that the Co2 is good, should I still switch to an inline reactor?

Yes, I haven't had phosphates in years! I keep adding it, but the test keeps coming up as 0. I use API Phosphate test kit and it doesn't expire until 2019. I don't have any phosphate remover in the filter. I have Fluval Biomax rings biomedia, activated charcoal and filter floss. I've been adding GLA's KH2PO4 Mono Potassium Phosphate every other day (EI dosing), yet my test always read zero. I guess it may just be the test solution? I'll see about ordering a different brand.


A reactor is a better diffusion method but not saying that is your issue. Check your ph and hk readings as soon as light come on to get a good idea of your co2 level. Drop checker is usually delayed about an hour or two. I would turn on co2 a bit earlier to ensure you are at 30ppm by the time lights come on.

Something is not right with you reading 0 phosphates. Knock the two bottle caps together for a good 30 seconds then ensure they are shaken another minute. Then add bottle solution number one. The shake a bit. Then add solution 2 then shake again. There is no way you should be reading 0. Like I said until you can figure out issue I would lessen your photoperiod. Get another test kit.

You should not have any activated charcoal I assume you mean carbon? You should not have any in a planted aquarium as that removes a little fertilizers also. You should not need any chemical filtration but Purigen is fine to have.


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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-17-2017, 11:59 PM
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Photoperiod seems long.
A lot of slow growing plants?
Have a pic?


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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-18-2017, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clownplanted View Post
A reactor is a better diffusion method but not saying that is your issue. Check your ph and hk readings as soon as light come on to get a good idea of your co2 level. Drop checker is usually delayed about an hour or two. I would turn on co2 a bit earlier to ensure you are at 30ppm by the time lights come on.

Something is not right with you reading 0 phosphates. Knock the two bottle caps together for a good 30 seconds then ensure they are shaken another minute. Then add bottle solution number one. The shake a bit. Then add solution 2 then shake again. There is no way you should be reading 0. Like I said until you can figure out issue I would lessen your photoperiod. Get another test kit.

You should not have any activated charcoal I assume you mean carbon? You should not have any in a planted aquarium as that removes a little fertilizers also. You should not need any chemical filtration but Purigen is fine to have.


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I'll definitely check the ph & kh in the morning and report!

The instructions didn't say to shake the bottles, so I was hoping that was it. I did a lot of shaking of each bottles and the test tube. And still got 0! Wonder if I should increase my dosage...

Oh yes, I meant carbon. I interchange the names of the two often. lol So I need to take out the carbon? Yikes! Had no idea! I hope that fixes this!
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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-18-2017, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharper View Post
I'll definitely check the ph & kh in the morning and report!

The instructions didn't say to shake the bottles, so I was hoping that was it. I did a lot of shaking of each bottles and the test tube. And still got 0! Wonder if I should increase my dosage...

Oh yes, I meant carbon. I interchange the names of the two often. lol So I need to take out the carbon? Yikes! Had no idea! I hope that fixes this!


Can you take one more test and take a pic and post here please? Knock the two tops together for a few seconds.


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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-18-2017, 12:11 AM
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I agree with @clownplanted... drop that photo period down to 7 and see what that does. I'd also ditch the blue at night (ok, maybe I'm the only one that believes the data about the correlation between blue or led "moonlight" and algae, but there's really nothing to lose).

My own personal findings: Anything that you can take out and scrub, remove and scrub. You can do various chemical soaks for plants given the plant and algae type. You can also spot treat with H2O2 and/or Excel/Metricide. Increased flow can help (possibly angling a powerhead, or lowering a circulation pump to place it benefits more). My final step was to lower my fert dosages (was doing EI) to a lower "modified EI". I can go back to full EI in my 20g today and practically tell you what day the staghorn will show up next week.
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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-18-2017, 12:22 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frenziedpace View Post
Photoperiod seems long.
A lot of slow growing plants?
Have a pic?

I thought that 10 hrs was ideal, but I'm going to reduce it starting tomorrow. I don't have slow growth, but I do end up with a lot of leaves falling off and floating at the top of my tank, which reduces my light reaching the bottom. I'm removing leaves every other day.

I should have taken a photo earlier. I spent 3 hours scraping algae and removing overgrown plants today. So it looks pretty now. It was after all of the work that I was fed up and made a thread. I've been doing this for so long that it's become a normal part of my routine. :/
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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-18-2017, 12:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharper View Post
I thought that 10 hrs was ideal, but I'm going to reduce it starting tomorrow. I don't have slow growth, but I do end up with a lot of leaves falling off and floating at the top of my tank, which reduces my light reaching the bottom. I'm removing leaves every other day.

I should have taken a photo earlier. I spent 3 hours scraping algae and removing overgrown plants today. So it looks pretty now. It was after all of the work that I was fed up and made a thread. I've been doing this for so long that it's become a normal part of my routine. :/


10 hours works only if everything is in balance with lots of plants and high co2. Put it this way. The longer and more light you have the less room for error you get or algae like in this case wins. The first thing to do is reduce their light(fuel) and figure out what is not in balance. Then you test, test, and test more till you figure out what it is. So first steps are remove the carbon and reduce light to 7 hours. Then get another test kit to test for phosphates. Keep in mind if anything is out of balance whether it be light, ferts, plant mass, etc you will get algae. How many plants do you have?


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post #11 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-18-2017, 12:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharper View Post
I thought that 10 hrs was ideal, but I'm going to reduce it starting tomorrow. I don't have slow growth, but I do end up with a lot of leaves falling off and floating at the top of my tank, which reduces my light reaching the bottom. I'm removing leaves every other day.
A lot of leaves falling off doesn't sound good.
Are leaves getting choked by algae or do you think its a nutrient deficiency?


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post #12 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-18-2017, 01:16 AM
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@clownplanted has it about right, ditch the carbon and reduce photo-period.

Here is link for testing your phosphate test kit before you buy another.
You will need to waste 6 grams of KH2PO4 to make a solution though.
https://sites.google.com/site/aquati...ts-and-testing
This can be used to validate your test kit!

Check out the PO4 to low/high tab on this site too!
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Swimming is not that difficult.
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post #13 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-18-2017, 01:22 AM Thread Starter
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Here is a photo of my test result. And here are a few photos of some examples of floating leaves. Some just have algae on them, and some have pinholes. It's all from the Hygrophila, which grows like crazy. It's not stunted or anything, but looses quite a few leaves on a regular basis. The other plants don't have this problem, but they do get covered in algae. The hygrophila is the only one that has the holes.

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post #14 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-18-2017, 01:40 AM
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Please help with solving my algae mystery!

That looks like you have not even added bottle number 2 solution to the vile. Are you sure you are adding BOTH bottles to the test and not just bottle number one. I'll show you what I'm talking about. Just tested my 20L tank. First pic is of just adding bottle number 1 solution. Then last pic is after adding bottle number 2. First pic Looks exactly like yours and means one of two things. You either aren't adding the second test bottle to test or your bottle number two is BAD


Wanted to add that getting drops out of bottle number 2 should be much harder than bottle one. Really thick.

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post #15 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-18-2017, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clownplanted View Post
10 hours works only if everything is in balance with lots of plants and high co2. Put it this way. The longer and more light you have the less room for error you get or algae like in this case wins. The first thing to do is reduce their light(fuel) and figure out what is not in balance. Then you test, test, and test more till you figure out what it is. So first steps are remove the carbon and reduce light to 7 hours. Then get another test kit to test for phosphates. Keep in mind if anything is out of balance whether it be light, ferts, plant mass, etc you will get algae. How many plants do you have?


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As far as how many plants - Here is a photo of it right now. I've taken out a lot of overgrowth today, though. And it's still settling from water change.
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This is what it usually looks like (minus the cats). This was taken in January.
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This is what it looked like when I moved everything from the 30gal to the 55gal over a year ago. Look how clean it was
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maryland Guppy View Post
@clownplanted has it about right, ditch the carbon and reduce photo-period.

Here is link for testing your phosphate test kit before you buy another.
You will need to waste 6 grams of KH2PO4 to make a solution though.
https://sites.google.com/site/aquati...ts-and-testing
This can be used to validate your test kit!

Check out the PO4 to low/high tab on this site too!
I don't have a gram scale. I had used an online calculation to figure out my EI dosing that didn't go by weight.
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