New to planted tanks and my tank looks terrible! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-07-2017, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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New to planted tanks and my tank looks terrible!

Hi, im new to both planted tanks and to this forum. Ive had this tank running for 2 months now. At first when i stocked the plants and fish, everything seemed awesome. Now, however, although the plants are growing, the entire tank is coated in brown algae. It looks terrible. People see my tank and all they notice is how "dirty" it looks because of the algae despite the hours I put into my tank. My tank is the following setup:
15 gallon tank
a layer of roundish planted tank substrate from japan (unsure of what exactly it was)
black gravel
crushed coral (a mistake I have to live with)
The plants were sold to unknown species. Only ones I know are The java moss and rotala rotunda. I have three stem plants with kind of long knife blade shaped leaves, and 2 stem plants with kind of crinkly looking leaves that remind me of dandelion (my lfs is terrible, no one has any idea what the plants were)
I have a 24 watt cfl light bulb on the tank. My filterage is a 240 gph diy powerhead biofilter, currently supplemented with a diy bottle filter that has carbon in an effort to get rid of the algae. My fish are 6 black skirt tetras and 6 corydoras. The powerhead is aimed up to create surface agitation. I really need advice and help on what to do. The brown algae is really killing my planted tank experience... The plants seem to be growing fine but the algae is completely taknig over. I dont know what to do! Should I start over and get a larger tank and make it dirted and get a pleco? I dont know what to do

Bump: heres pics:
The first pic is last month, the others are now.
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Last edited by Robert Marsch; 01-07-2017 at 01:42 PM. Reason: clarity
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-07-2017, 07:22 PM
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The brown algae could be diatoms. Which is common in new tanks -you should see how awful my 38 looked during its first month set up. Helps to keep manually removing it and doing water changes. Or get some algae eaters- otos really like that stuff but the also do better in established tanks so it's a tossup. Coral will make you water harder- hopefully your water source is not already high ph.

Are you feeding the plants? I don't see any mention of fertilizers...

Hopefully someone else will chime in here, I'm not an expert!

10 gal planted- male plakat betta, two nerite snails, malaysian trumpet snails | 38 gal planted- cherry barbs, kuhli loaches, oto catfish, nerites, mts
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-07-2017, 08:03 PM
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Water changes will help along with limiting the amount of time your lights stay on during the day. Easiest way I found to combat all algae, picking up a few snails and letting them free range it in my tank. I know a lot of people hate snails, some people love snails and others are indifferent. But they sure do a fine job at tank maintenance, if you don't mind them.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-07-2017, 08:05 PM
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The thin brownish algae just looks like diatoms. Oto's will make short work of it, as JJ09 said. I can't tell for sure but it looks like there are some thick fluffy brown algae patches on the plants, which look like rhizoclonium. I dealt with an outbreak for about 3 weeks on my tank after my co2 regulator sprung a leak and I had to take a few days to fix it. That was long enough for that stuff to take over everything. It seems to pop up most when something isn't balanced - too much/too little light, fluctuating co2, nutrients too low, not enough flow in the tank, etc. Direct applications of hydrogen peroxide will kill it, as will just manually removing, but you need to find what is out of balance and fix it for long term results. But that's basically the rule for all algae outbreaks.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-07-2017, 09:02 PM
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I had a big problem with algae in the beginning when I first set up my tank. We fixed it by buying a couple plecos. Look for. "Blue eye white pleco" or "bristlenose pleco". Both of them stay small so you can get a couple of them. I currently have 2 of the blue eyed white ones. They look albino but have blue eyes. They are amazing at cleaning up algae, especially that diatom algae. Othet plecos I find just sit there, but we are always in awe with these guys as they never seem to stop moving and eating.

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Current tanks: 75 and 39
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 01:18 AM Thread Starter
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My tank wont be able to support the bio load of a pleco, and I cant find otos around here. Would shrimp fix it up? Also, some say not enough light is the cause, some say too much is the cause. Which is it?
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 01:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Marsch View Post
My tank wont be able to support the bio load of a pleco, and I cant find otos around here. Would shrimp fix it up? Also, some say not enough light is the cause, some say too much is the cause. Which is it?

An excess amount of waste could also contribute to algae growth. Do you dose your tank with co2 at all? I had a huge algae bloom and I bought some flourish excel organic carbon. Turn off the filter and water flow when you dose, then turn it back on about 10minutes later. It got rid of the algae very quickly. But it will not treat the underlying problem. You can find it on Amazon.

I don't know much about shrimp, but I do know that shrimp are sensitive to water. You'd also need a few shrimp (depending on size) which would produce waste as well. I'd honestly suggest trying to find a bristlenose pleco, if you really want to have some help with getting rid of the algae.

Current tanks: 75 and 39
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 02:03 AM
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Quote:
I don't know much about shrimp, but I do know that shrimp are sensitive to water. You'd also need a few shrimp (depending on size) which would produce waste as well. I'd honestly suggest trying to find a bristlenose pleco, if you really want to have some help with getting rid of the algae.
OP has only a 15 gallon tank and is right that it is too small for a bristlenose, I think in general, but even more so if the 6 corydoras are not dwarf species (habrosus, hastatus or pygmaeus). Amano shrimp are quite hardy and are very good algae eaters. Shrimp make very negligible waste compared to any fish, but especially when compared to plecos, which are iconic waste-producers, will hardly expand the bioload at all. OP could safely have quite a few amano shrimp (at least 5 would be fine, probably more would be OK too but might start looking crowded), and they would help a lot with the algae. Petco often sells them cheaply as "Japanese algae-eating shrimp."

Like others have said, though, if you localize the problem, which is likely light and just an immature tank, the algae will go away naturally. Too much light is more likely the issue. What is your current photoperiod?
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 04:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geisterwald View Post
OP has only a 15 gallon tank and is right that it is too small for a bristlenose, I think in general, but even more so if the 6 corydoras are not dwarf species (habrosus, hastatus or pygmaeus). Amano shrimp are quite hardy and are very good algae eaters. Shrimp make very negligible waste compared to any fish, but especially when compared to plecos, which are iconic waste-producers, will hardly expand the bioload at all. OP could safely have quite a few amano shrimp (at least 5 would be fine, probably more would be OK too but might start looking crowded), and they would help a lot with the algae. Petco often sells them cheaply as "Japanese algae-eating shrimp."

Like others have said, though, if you localize the problem, which is likely light and just an immature tank, the algae will go away naturally. Too much light is more likely the issue. What is your current photoperiod?
How many shrimp could a 15 gallon hold?
Quick question too, are amano shrimp good shrimp to put in community tanks?

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Current tanks: 75 and 39
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 05:48 AM
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I always have a diatom out break every time I over dose. It gets so bad it covers the leaves in thick diatoms and then the anubis start to die because the leafs cant receive any light. Then I have to pull all my anubis and wash every leaf by hand. It is very time consuming. The java moss is impossible to clean so it just struggles. Maybe you have too much nutrients and not enough plants so the algae just feeds off the excess? How many hours do you keep your lights on? Try keeping the lights on for no more than 7;30hrs. Forget the pleco, all they do is poop. I'd buy otos from aquabid and have them shipped next day. Otos are the best with diatoms.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 06:06 AM
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Originally Posted by mrswis View Post
How many shrimp could a 15 gallon hold?
Quick question too, are amano shrimp good shrimp to put in community tanks?

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Hundreds - depending on experience. A good rule of thumb is 10 per gallon unless you have the right setup and know what you are doing. Some breeders have 100 per gallon in their tanks...
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by natemcnutty View Post
Hundreds - depending on experience. A good rule of thumb is 10 per gallon unless you have the right setup and know what you are doing. Some breeders have 100 per gallon in their tanks...
I think if you know what you are doing enough to get them to breed that much, you're fine having pretty much like, as many as will breed in your tank. There's no real issue with "too many shrimp" in a certain size tank like with parameters or anything like there is with fish, I don't think--correct me if I'm wrong.

Quote:
Quick question too, are amano shrimp good shrimp to put in community tanks?
Amano shrimp are probably the best shrimp for a community tank because they're too big to fit in a lot of fishes' mouths, whereas dwarf shrimp (RCS, CRS and variants) are smaller and are often food (especially the babies--literally anything will eat the babies. Amanos can't hatch in freshwater, so no babies from them). Still, if you have large/aggressive fish your amanos might end up as a snack, but mileage varies. People have had success with all kinds of shrimp in all kinds of community tanks, though--the trick is planting heavily enough to give them lots of hiding spaces so they don't get munched.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-09-2017, 08:25 AM
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I agree with the amano shrimp suggestion - I had a diatom bloom just like yours when I set up my 20 gal and the three amanos I put in there cleaned it up within the week! It was awesome.

See if you can get your hands on some more fast growing plants too - maybe some floaters like frogbit/duckweed. They'll also help keep the light levels down a bit.

Lots of other good suggestions here - just don't get discouraged! Lots of new tanks have a rough start. Stick with it and it'll be all the more satisfying when it matures and looks pretty!

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-09-2017, 10:13 AM
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Here is my experience I had brown algae as well I would like to mention few things I learnt
1. Brown algae grows more in alkaline conditions pH around 7.0, If you lower your pH you will have same type of algae but with green colour.
2. The one of the root causes of Diatom algae (brown algae) is Excess silicates, which is from the rocks that are not cleaned well, or by using rocks that is found in your surroundings.
3. Low Light and in sufficient CO2 will encourage brown algae.
4. They will kill your plants by covering their leaves especially broad leaf plants, I lost 4-5 of chain swords.
5. Don't overfeed your fish even if you under feed it is okay.

SOLUTIONS I TRIED:
1. Some suggest to wait sure it will go away with time but it will kill 60-70% of your plants as well.
2. I started setting pH to 6.5 the brown algae growth became slow or nil.
3. I have never tried Amano shrimp but what I read was they are not so much interested in brown algae they are excellent for hair algae and all.
4. I have some snails they do eat brown algae but very slow and too much of snails look awful in tank.
5. THE SOLUTION WHICH WORKED FOR ME: Otocinclus they are bit costly but they like brown algae more than anything in 4-5 days they cleaned my glass for next few days they cleaned me rocks now they are cleaning my leaves. They are bit costly but they are effective I have 5 of them in my 29G tank. but they are sensitive till in first 1-2 days once they get going they are hardy, all my otos has big round tummy by eating all day long.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-09-2017, 01:23 PM Thread Starter
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I dont have access to otos. My options are
1. Buy siamese algae eater and rehome it after a month
2. My lfs has tons of bladder snails.
3. Buy a bn pleco and rehome it.
4. Hope my lfs gets a shipment of ghost shrimp the it occasionally has

Bump: Btw I did try a diy co2 setup but it was never consistent and I was worried it was just causing problems. Can I dip the plants in peroxide to remove the algae? Should I dose with Api leaf zone? Its available at my lfs surprisingly.

P.S. Im in the Philippines so I only have access and no shipping stuff in. Im going to the states in april so I may pick up a co2 system.
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