Brown algae growing slowly on rocks and leaves
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Old 10-12-2012, 06:12 AM   #1
HollyD
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Default Brown algae growing slowly on rocks and leaves

I'm VERY new to the world of freshwater tanks and I was hoping for some helpful advice. I purchased a 3 gallon tank about 4 months ago and I love it so much, that I'm considering upgrading it to a 10 gallon. But before I do, I wanted to get the basics down and be able to troubleshoot if a problem arises. I've recently purchased a 'vacuum siphon' (?) that helps keep the rocks clean. The first time I used it I was amazed! Why hadn't I bought this earlier?! And I also recently purchased the magnet cleaner that stays on each side of the acrilyc to 'wipe' away the gunk.

I have, I think, too many fish in my tank. I have; 1 beta, 3 neon tetras, 1 marimo moss ball, 1 upside down catfish, 1 albino Cory and a plecostomus. Th plants are live and before I added the plecostomus (2 days ago) it seemed as if my tank were being taken over by brown algae. It is on the rocks, leaves and acrilyc. It comes off of the leaves and acrilyc when I wipe it away but I thought the Cory, catfish & plecostomus would clean up the gunk. The catfish stays on the filter in the tank and never moves from that spot (why?), the plecostomus stays against the acrilyc and the Cory cleans a bit.

My question is...1. Do I have too many fish in my tank. 2. Aren't these fish supposed to help it stay clean? 3. Should I be using some sort of fish 'chrmicals' in my tank besides Aquasafe?

Any help is greatly appreciated as I am willing to learn and I can't wait to get the bigger tank so I can learn and perfect the art of aquascaping.
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Old 10-12-2012, 06:47 AM   #2
aokashi
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yes you are over stocking.
no you shouldn't use chemicals.
no fish should never be seen as the clean up crew. they are ultimately the providers of the nutrients your algae is thriving on...

general rule of thumb. 1in of fish / gallon of water.

plecos get very big... some to around a foot

corys should be in a school of 4+
neon tetras... the same...

I suggest you take back all the cat fishes to the LFS and go for two ottos. they will clean the algae for you and have a smaller bioload.

I dont know how well planted your tank is, but I really dont recommend more than the Betta in there...
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Old 10-12-2012, 07:10 AM   #3
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The upside down cat will hide until it is large enough to basically swallow neons whole. They are best kept with even tempered cichlids. Sad, because theyre awesome looking.

Maybe a 29 gallon would be better fit to your wants/needs from a community tank. That would give you room for larger shoals of tetra and corydoras. Not to mention it will be a heck of a lot more stable, parameter wise.

Are any smaller breeds of pleco available in your area? Maybe some otocinclus? Or even some shrimp to pick at the stuff may be wiser.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:56 PM   #4
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Thank you for responding, Aokashi & Stven P.

I don't know if I can return the fish, but I will see if anyone I know would like to take the Cory, catfish and plecostomus. Sucks because I like seeing all the fish but I don't want them to be stressed because of overcrowding. Hopefully I will be getting a larger tank soon because I'm really enjoying watching the fish. They're very calming and have such personalities!

My tank is pretty well planted, I think. It has almost a wall of plants that the fish like to hide in and the beta rests on the leaves. I've posted a side picture of my tank on my profile. I eill check out the LFS for ottos.

Thank you again for your feedback. I really appreciate it.
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:09 PM   #5
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Hello Holly...

You actually need a larger tank if you want to master the basics of the "Waterkeeping" hobby. I started seriously in the hobby with a 30 gallon tank. There needs to be a lot of water in a tank to allow for mistakes in what is called "tank management". Everyone makes them, but if you have a larger tank, then your fish aren't as likely to be hurt because of poor water conditions.

If you want to guarantee success in this hobby, you should go with a larger tank. You'll feel better, because your fish will survive your "learning curve".

Just a thought or two.

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Old 10-12-2012, 09:24 PM   #6
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Hi Holly,

I know your original post was about the algae concern, but I wanted to comment on a few other things:

I agree with BBradbury above: Generally a larger volume of water is better for aquariums. Small volumes of water can be sensitive to changes in the tank environment such as temperature, water chemistry, and toxins from the bio-load. The lighting is also a bit more difficult to get right over a nano tank. However, the up-side of a small volume of water is that water changes involve less water (which is sometimes attractive).

From experience, I've also found that planted nano tanks are quite a challenge because almost all aquatic plants grow too big and fast for the nano sized tank. If you get good at growing plants, you will constantly struggle to maintain the aquascape aesthetic in such a small tank.

There are many philosophies regarding aquarium-keeping and your use of the gravel vacuum tool stood out to me. I'm not sure if you have a particular aquarium-keeping philosophy that you adhere to. Personally, the gravel cleaner is something left over from the (my) past. In a planted tank with an appropriate substrate, a gravel vacuum shouldn't be needed. In my case, I use soil which is sometimes capped with a fine-grain gravel. You can imagine that using a gravel vacuum would make quite a mess in that case.

To me, the gravel vacuum is an icon of the general idea that everything needs to be clean, clean, clean. You need to be careful with this concept and be mindful of the micro life that you will also be establishing in your tank. This dictates how you maintain your substrate and also how you maintain your filter and associated equipment.

You say that you are new to freshwater tanks, so perhaps you will adopt new philosophies over time. I would guess that the brown algae you have has its roots in the particular manner in which you are keeping the tank.
  • If you feel a need to clean the gravel, perhaps you are overfeeding - Where is all the excessive buildup coming from?
  • Others have pointed to overstocking, and I agree.
  • You also may not have enough water movement/flow. (This is another area that is difficult for nano tanks.)
  • You may also not have enough biological filtration depending on what kind of filter you are using.
  • Your substrate may not be appropriate and the gravel size too large (but you don't want too small either, i.e. sand)

There are many things to get in order to avoid the various algae types. Hopefully, this will give you a few ideas on what to research further... There is a lot to learn, so I didn't want to try and throw it all at you at once.

Cheers,
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