Need some algae removal advise (detailed description) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Canada
Posts: 3
Need some algae removal advise (detailed description)

Hello everyone,

This is my first post in the forum after reading through lots of wonderful topics. First off, I'm still new to aquariums (just about 2 years) so I have been reading lots of information and learning quite a bit.

Let me explain the current problem and then give you the background information. For the past 2 months, there has been a growth of some type of algae (or so I think) over the glass, leaves, and stems of plants.

-10 Gallon aquarium (kit from Walmart)
-Marineland pump rated for 5-15 gallons (has a bio-pad, not bio wheel)
-Tetra 50W heater (rated for 2-15 gallons)
-2 15Watt Life-Glo compact fluorescent bulbs (6500K rating, approx 9months of usage so far)
-bulbs are approx. 12inches from surface of gravel, no reflector
-I have basic aquarium gravel in the tank (seen in photos) as the tank was not originally planted
-I have no picture backing on the tank and back of the tank does face a window (seen in photo). Looking out this window you face East.
-25% water change completed weekly

Current livestock in tank
-1 guppie
-1 gold cloud minnow
-1 spotted cory cat
-1 zebra snail (the shell even has this algae on it)

I had 1 Flying Fox which apparently was eating this stuff off the glass (

I have 3 plants in the tank but I do not remember their names.

I originally had plastic decorations in the tank and developed a brown algae problem (due to the direct sun light at the time). The zebra snail cleaned that problem up right away and things were good for a long time. Being new, decided to take out the plastic plants out and try my hand at real plants. I ended up killing quite a few plants because I did not have the proper nutrients and lighting in the tank. So I did switch over to compact florescent bulbs and started using Flourish products. I still don't think i have the proper nutrients in the tank which might be contributing to my current problem.


1) Growth on heater

2) Growth on back of glass

3) Attempted close up of grown on front of tank

4) Growth right above the gravel

5) Black areas on plant and something that looks like cobwebs all over the top of the plant

6) Different few of the plant in Pic 5

I am considering completely removing the plant seen in Pics 5 and 6. I have had to scrub the inside of the glass to get this stuff off and its over that particular plant more than anything. I had a ceramic castle decoration in the tank and I have removed that and scrubbed it clean with a toothbrush (will not put it back in until I have resolved the problem). I am also not adding any more fish to my tank until I get this situation under control.

I must point out for those who have read this far. I do not have any type of CO2 setup (looking into one before the year is over). My Flourish treatment consists of:

S - 2ml of Excel, 0.8ml of Flourish
M - 2ml of Excel, 2.5ml of Trace Elements
T - 2ml of Excel
W - 2ml of Excel
T - 2ml of Excel, 0.8ml of Flourish
F - 2ml of Excel, 2.5ml of Trace Elements
S - 2ml of Excel

It should also be noted that I have only started using Excel for about 2 weeks now.

I'm not sure what else to tell you guys, I really am looking for some advise and any help is appreciated. I hope this post wasn't too long but I figured the more detail the better. Thanks
CarGuy is offline  
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-19-2011, 04:05 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Posts: 173
Picture #3 looks like green spot algae, it is difficult to remove by scrubbing. I use a razor blade which does a good job. I'm not sure about picture #4 but I have seen this in my tank as well, I took a paper towel and wiped it off... it comes off easily. Picture #5 and 6 look like BGA (Blue Green Algae) which is actually bacteria. I had a breakout recently on my gravel. I would vacuum it up and within two days it would return. I went to Petsmart and bought API's Erythromycin. I vacuumed as much as I could and did two treatments per directions and haven't had a problem since. If you try it, be careful because it doesn't differentiate between good and bad bacteria so monitor your ammonia and nitrite levels. I'm not an expert, but I thought my experiences might help...

This is a good read...
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-19-2011, 07:59 AM
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Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Posts: 3,349
Welcome, Carguy! Great post, all the details help.

Agree on green spot algae for pictures 1-4.

Hair algae on pictures 5-6 (the cobwebs). Can't tell for sure if there's also BGA, or just heavy GSA; pictures aren't quite clear enough to distinguish.

Your ferts are missing the macronutrients - nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Flourish contains only a tiny bit of them. Some nitrogen normally comes from fish waste, but you have a very light fish load. Phosphorus in particular will help with the GSA.

Your lighting is probably close to the borderline where Excel is no longer sufficient as a carbon source, and real CO2 becomes necessary. Though you may be able to successfully run this tank with Excel, CO2 will make a dramatic difference in plant growth; which will let you trim away older, algae-infested portions much quicker. This, combined with the required macronutrients, and perhaps a few H2O2 spot treatments, would help you salvage the plant in pics 5-6.

And DIY yeast CO2 is super easy on a 10G. So easy that I continue to use it on my 10G, rather than being motivated enough to extend the pressurized system right next to it on my 46G. Give it some consideration.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-19-2011, 12:45 PM
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Location: Indiana
Posts: 529
Hi CarGuy - welcome, and thank you for the excellent details to help people guide you.

Question - how long are the lights turned on daily? And does your fixture have the option to remove one of the bulbs? I ask because it might be advisable to either elevate your light fixture greater than 12 inches from the substrate; remove one of the bulbs to lessen the intensity; shorten the duration of the photo period.... or some combination of those points.
Geminiluna is offline  
post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-20-2011, 02:34 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Canada
Posts: 3
Thanks for the replies.

Geminiluna - I can remove 1 light from the fixture but then the light will be off centered in the tank. I don't know if this is an issue

AUAV8R - I have tried using a blade to remove the spot algae but it is being difficult

DarkCobra - I will try to add phosphorus to my supplements. As far as a DIY CO2 system, I have been reading up on those. I have read some horror stories of DIY kits and while I don't doubt my DIY skills, I need to read up further why some people have had issues. I have been looking at the Hagen yeast base system and might invest in that. But I do also have my eye on the Fluval 88 kit (i know some people really don't like that), either way, there will definitely be a CO2 system on the tank by years end. I also need to read up on the H2O2 spot treatment

As for an update, Since I last scraped off the spot algae from the front of the glass, I have not seen it growing back as fast. Could have something to do with the dark gloomy weather around my area and there hasn't been much sun light getting to the tank or the Excel is working a bit.

Now I know DarkCobra said I might be able to salvage the plant in pics 5-6 but looking at that plant today, its covered so much, there isn't a part that is salvageable. I also wonder if that plant is the direct cause to my algae problem at the moment, what do you guys think?
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-03-2011, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Canada
Posts: 3
Ok, just a update here, I could not save the plant with the dark leaves and cobweb looking stuff all over it. So now I'm down to 1 plant left in the tank and still have the short fuzzy green stuff growing on the glass. Yes I can scrap if off but does that type of algae still grow in a tank with even 1 plant in it?

Should the algae "go away" (for lack of a better term) without any plants in it?
CarGuy is offline  

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