Major Algae in Planted Tank! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2013, 07:24 AM Thread Starter
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Major Algae in Planted Tank!

Hi everyone,

I'm having a major algae bloom in my 10 gallon tank. Here is a picture of what my tank looks like before it has progressively gotten worse.



Tank Params
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: (?) Need to buy the test kit
KH: 2-3 degrees
GH: 2-3 degrees

I have multiple types of algae in the tank.

1) On my glass I have bad cases of green dust algae which my oto is munching away on (not sure if he's making much progress). I've painfully tried to resist scrubbing it away since I hear it comes right back unless you wait 3 weeks.

2) I also have lots of hair and thread algae on my cabombas near the top. Some brown or dark green stuff has showed up on my bacopa and wisteria in the back I believe near the edges of the leaves.

3) Not exactly sure what type of algae is on the driftwood but it's brown and I'm thinking it's diatoms (there was some red on it at some point!) There is also a mixture of green as well.

4) All over my glosso and my crypts in the front of the tank, my anubias, and my java ferns, and the red cabombas I have what I think is GBA or cyanobacteria. It's so bad that I thought my red cabombas turned green but are actually covered in GBA.

I am running a 36W T5HO light directly over the water surface from about 8:30 AM to maybe 9 or 10PM at night (basically go to work and come back and enjoy the tank for a few more hours). I'm thinking I need to raise the light over the tank about two inches to lower the intensity of the lighting. Also, I am running DIY CO2 which I think I need to remix again. The diffuser has been a bit gunky lately, so maybe that's lowering the CO2 levels, although PH is consistently around 6.4-6.6 and my tap water is at 8.4.

Fert dosing schedule is the complete Seachem line. I dose comprehensive, N, K, P, and Fe at approximately the dosing amounts listed on each of the bottles on Wed and Sunday. I also use twice the usual dosage for Excel daily, in addition to CO2 injection.

I'm not sure if it's preemptive to be worrying about algae since I know my tank is quite new. The tank has been up and running for a little over 3 months now. Until about 1 month ago, I did a lot of rescaping here and there and moved things around a lot (coupled with excessive feeding) and I've collected a lot of mulm in the tank. Unfortunately Eco-complete is incredibly hard to vacuum without picking up the substrate! So, I'm thinking there is just so much excessive waste in the tank and not sure how to remove it other than a complete rescape and rinsing the substrate out.

I've also read that circulation of nutrients is a must in a heavily planted tank, so I have two HOB filters (one on the left and one behind the cabombas) and an airstone, which I lightly use during the day and heavily at night, to create circulation. One drawback is that I have a betta which prefers calmer water. Therefore, I needed to use a filter baffle on the filter in the middle to spread the water to the sides. The circulation is better in some areas than others, but it's interesting that the side with more current (left) has more algae...

I know this is a lot to digest and it sounds like a world of problems which would probably cause you to pull your hair out reading it, but I would greatly appreciate any advice on how to "properly" run a planted tank based on your experiences. Thanks to everyone for their input in advance!
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2013, 08:45 AM
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The massive imbalance in the tank is obvious but you are able to turn things around with some minor adjustments.

start with a 50-80% water change to purge the excess nutrients. you may have to do this again in the following few days just to reboot the tank and provide a clean slate to start with.

13 + hours of light needs to be cut back to 6-7... all my tanks turn on at 2pm and turn off at 8pm. they stay on longer at night during maintainance but otherwise hold to a consistent schedule. I also like to look at my tanks at night so i pushed the light schedule forward to the afternoon.

Another thing you can try is to remove one bulb in the fixture and see how your plants will do. try to provide enough to sustain the plants while not creating excess for the algae to get well established.

None of those plants in the photo really are fert demanding so the weekly dose or two should suffice. Follow the bottles per dosage but scale back on the dosing schedule.

as nice as DYI co2 may sound, its rather unpredictable and creates some problem with creating imbalance. Consider it a segway drug into high tech pressurized co2 which we commonly turn off when the lights are off. many folks run two co2 diy setups so that when the first setup reaches its midway point, the second brew can be stup to pickup when the first setup runs dry.
Getting a handle on a tank and making minor changes lends for easier corrections. If the algae gets well established to the point where they smother your plants, you can look at replacing plants and redoing a tank at some point.

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2013, 08:57 AM
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Acitydweller makes a lot of good points.

I'm also inferring that you don't have a timer. You should definitely invest in one of those and cut down the lighting period a few hours.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2013, 01:13 PM
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Re: Major Algae in Planted Tank!

Removing the single bulb as recommended above will solve all of your algae problems. Maybe.

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2013, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback everyone. I've been doing almost daily 30% water changes but I agree with the 80% purge to reset the scale. The lighting period is a bit long and an investment in a timer seems reasonable as well. I'm a bit reluctant to remove a bulb because I'm afraid that my glosso will grow up with only 18w of light but I could have it all wrong. I've bought maracyn for the bga which I believe is on the plants in the photos below.

I wanted to confirm I should leave the GDA or should I scrape over prior to a 80% water change and hope it doesn't grow back as fast. Should I try blackouts?
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2013, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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Also I am planning on looking into pressurized. Need to research cheap economical alternatives
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2013, 10:01 PM
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Less light, less ferts and just take a razor to the glass.

My lights are on based on how long the sun is out, so very short for winter, but up to 14hrs for summer. Only issue I sometimes get is the green spot on the glass.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2013, 10:16 PM
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Major Algae in Planted Tank!

How are you doing your DIY co2? Running more than one bottle at a time, just a little more info could be helpful.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2013, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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I'm running the DIY CO2 with a large gatorade bottle (32 fluid ounce), about 2 cups of sugar, 1 teaspoon of yeast, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. It's output is a diffuser under the aqua clear 20 filter on the left. It's positioned so that as the water falls from the filter, it hits the bubbles down so I'm hoping that will create better dissolution. I've been supplementing with excel as well.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-17-2013, 03:39 AM
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Major Algae in Planted Tank!

To keep a more consistent flow of co2 try rotating 3 bottles. I used to use,
2 liter bottle
~1 tbsp yeast
1/4 cup protein powder
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp molasses
Couple drops dechlorinator
Fill bottle to 2/3 or about top of label with water.

This usually lasts about 4 weeks. I would use 3 bottles on a rotation for a 55 gallon. You can adjust size for the size of you system. The rotation helps a lot to maintain co2 levels.

If you add a empty bottle or ballon to the series and a shutoff valve you can easily capture the Co2 generated at night if you want to control that. That depends more in your set up than anything.

I try to get 1 thing right at a time. Light then co2 then fertilizer. IMO you need minimal fertilizer if you have an established system and decent bio load. Fertilizer is always what I stop first specifically anything containing P in any form.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-17-2013, 03:58 AM
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36W on DIY Co2 I think is the cause of your algae.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-17-2013, 04:45 AM
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I reduced my photo period from 9 to 6 hours and it almost eliminated my GDA. Just my 2 cents. Co2 was also increased to max. I've tried different fert methods before the reduce in photoperiod and got no where. Its too much light for too long of period IMO. Reduce the photo period before the amount I am thinking.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-17-2013, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
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What do you guys think about the "siesta"? Do you think it'll minimize algae?
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-17-2013, 09:38 PM
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Could you enlighten me on adding a shutoff valve and bottle/balloon to diy CO2 to shut it off at night? That sounds like a good idea.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-18-2013, 02:25 AM
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Major Algae in Planted Tank!

Assuming you have several 2 liters in series all T connected to the main line to a reactor, preferably (something as simple as a mason jar on a powerhead), you would need to add an empty crushed (not to the point that it won't rebound) or use a lid to a bottle set up just like you would if you were going to attach it to a bottle but instead use a hose clamp the attach a thick rubber type ballon to the cap. In the series following the last cap add a shut off. This can be a valve or something less expensive like a clamp. At night close the valve/clamp and ensure the bottle or ballon is empty. In the morning remove the clamp. Depending on the elasticity of the material you chose the co2 may immediately get dumped into the reactor or you may have to squeeze it in.

I would like to say that before you try this you should know the volume if gas your set up is creating during that time to ensure you don't get a big mess. This method is not intended to store co2 for long periods. I simply tried it to see if there were negative effects of constant co2 influx. Additionally I moved to a PVC set up which was much more stable and could withstand more pressure before I got tired if mixing up sugar every weekend and built a regulator. Although I did not observe any negative effect of constant co2 injection. You could apply the same principle to a reactor, something more than a mason jar, that relies on a pump to create turbulence to dissolve the co2 into the inflow. You would need a pretty large reactor and a timer on the pump. The possibilities are endless and depend on your set up.

Thanks for the interest.
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