I have a 30 gal tank, which has been planted with very low light (standard 20 W flour) for a couple of years. Substrate, primarily gravel, with some sand, and a couple of pounds of laterite. Bio-Wheel filter and no CO2 added. I do not test my water, and only irregularly add Flourish. As might be expected, minimal growth.
anubias (nana, congensis, frazerii)
crypt wendtii bronze
albino bristle pleco
4 red-eye tetra
6 serpae tetra
8 glow-lite tetra
I kinda went thru a period over the spring and summer where I let my tank get out of control. I generally did 10-20% water change per week. Photoperiod - approx 12-14 hours. I was putting off lighting upgrades, and did no water testing. When the algae started, I did not pay it the attention it needed, and it got out of control.
I got green hair algae on the rocks and glass, a fuzzy grayish brush algae on most of the plants, and blue green in the gravel and on some plants.
A couple of weeks ago I upgraded to an AH 55W CF light. There has been some pearling since then - primarily from my large anubias. For the past couple of weeks, I have stepped up my water changes, doing maybe 30% every 3 days or so. I trimmed back the worst affected plants, scrubbed leaves as best I could, and removed and scrubbed many rocks. I keep my lights on for closer to 12 hours (not using a timer, just being more aware of the time.) The stuff kept coming back quickly and strong.
Another problem is that the algae smells - especially when I am cleaning. A kind of decaying plant-material smell. Which my wife really hates. She says the tank itself smells slightly, but my sense of smell isn't thhat great I guess.
This past weekend I pretty much removed all of my plants and rocks (not gravel.) I bleached all of the rocks (except those with java fern on them - those I just scrubbed). I scrubbed and rinsed the plants,and trimmed unhealthy foliage. I removed maybe a pound of gravel that had lots of BG in it, and boiled that. And I stirred and vacuumed the gravel pretty intensely while doing a 40% change. I added big chunks of hornwort and anarcharis, in the hopes of starving the algae.
So my question is, what more should I do at this time to improve plant growth, and fight this algae?
This week I intend to get a test kit to check my tap and tank water, as well as the Hagen CO2 (Yes, I know DIY would be cheaper, and 30g is probably too big. I could supplement w/ Flourish Excel. At this point, pressurized is out of the question.) My birthday is on Thurs - and I specifically asked for both a test kit and the Hagen. If I do not get them, I'll buy them this weekend.
So what should I be looking for when I do my tests? What more can I do to discourage the algae? Should I be dosing Flourish or anything else now, or wait until I get test results and/or the algae is under control?
I'll keep you all posted and, hopefully , get some photos up when this is under control.