Ph and Hair Algae Issues- What am I doing wrong?
Sorry in advance for the length of this post. I'm basically going to vomit forth everything I'm doing in hopes that you guys can point out where my tank is going horribly wrong.
TLDR Version: struggling with new tank for 6 months, ph problems and hair algae
I started a 75 gallon planted tank in February. Fluval FX6 filter, Fluval eSeries heater at 77, 48" Finnex Planted+ 24/7 fixuture. Fliter Max III prefilter. EcoComplete substrate, various plants of various sizes. No other wood or rocks. One temple decoration from my prior smaller tank.
This was going to be my upgrade from my 13 gallon. I had some issues with it early on, but it seemed to stabilize after 6 months. It's still running with shrimp and endlers.
Here's what I'm doing on a weekly basis.
* Adding flourish and flourish excel at 2 caps each 3 times a week.
* Doing a 20 gallon water change weekly. Started with tap water and prime. After original problems with fish deaths and diatomes, bought a SpectraPure MaxCap RO/DI System and installed it in the garage. Been using it for 3-4 months. Adding the following to the RO/DI water each time: 5 teaspoons kent RO Right, 6.5 g Seachem Acid Buffer, 10.4 g alkaline buffer.
* Pulling out the worst of the hair algae. Washing arms with castile soap beforehand.
Doing filter maint about once a month. Using fluval media and pre-bagged purigen. The purigen has been refreshed twice. Rinsing out the prefilter about twice a month.
Doing testing, my amonia, nitrates, nitrites are always zero with the exception of nitrates where I pick up just a little every once in a while. Here's where the first problem is: my PH is high. Like 7.8-8.8 high. It drops down with a water change, then pops back up over the course of a week. I had hoped that with the r/o filter and chems, eventually it would drop and stay down but so far that hasn't happened. Before the r/o filter, I tried adding the buffers to the tank over the course of the week. After 10 days it still hadn't stabilized at the 6.8 or 7 I was shooting for and I got the r/o.
I added fish and some cherry shrimp from the 13 gallon tank. The shrimp died quickly and the fish hung on for a while. After I got the RO filter, I added more fish (rasboras and 3 kinds of tetras). Most of them have died now. They perk up when I do the water change, and by the end of the week they get more and more sluggish. Never saw any ammonia or nitrites. Barely picked up nitrates a couple of times.
At first, I had the diatomes (gritty feeling brown algae) bad. I expected it since it was a new tank. A couple of months ago it gave way to hair algae. God that is horrible stuff. I've spent hours picking that stuff out by hand. It's growing like crazy.
So what am I doing wrong (other than adding fish before I got the water under control, still full of self-hate over that)? My first thought was it was the tap water (I'm in Houston which has some of the worst water in the country supposedly). The R/O filter hasn't helped which is odd.
The two latest theories I'm going on:
* There's something wrong with the substrate. Maybe I got a bad batch and it's leaching something into the water.
* I'm doing something massively stupid with the buffers and they aren't doing their job. Maybe I have my ratios off.
Any ideas? I'm so frustrated I'm getting close to throwing in the towel and starting another hobby.