Treating algae on slower growing plants
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Old 05-16-2013, 04:19 PM   #1
MamaFish
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Default Treating algae on slower growing plants

I've been battling algae (some kind of thread or stag horn I think) in my 25. I trimmed most of it off my stem plants, but my anubias and java fern have a lot too. Obviously the grow so slowly that I would rather not cut off the affected pieces. I've started dosing excel daily, but is there a better way to remove it? Can I scrub or dip the plants in straight (or diluted) excel?
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Old 05-18-2013, 10:11 AM   #2
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I would keep up with your daily doses of Excel, but rather than just dosing it into your aquarium, spot dose it onto the affected areas. This should help knock back the Staghron algae.
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Old 05-18-2013, 12:49 PM   #3
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Default Algae Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaFish View Post
I've been battling algae (some kind of thread or stag horn I think) in my 25. I trimmed most of it off my stem plants, but my anubias and java fern have a lot too. Obviously the grow so slowly that I would rather not cut off the affected pieces. I've started dosing excel daily, but is there a better way to remove it? Can I scrub or dip the plants in straight (or diluted) excel?
Hello M...

Excel is pretty powerful stuff and if you have other primitive plants in your tank like mosses, Vallisneria and ferns, they might be damaged.

More plants is a good way to control algae. Aquatic plants are a more complex organism and use the added nutrients in the water more efficiently than algae. I used Brazilian waterweed (Anacharis) in my tanks when I had a problem with "hair" algae. This plant thrives in water with higher levels of nitrogen and potassium, the same as algae.

I also got some "Ramshorn" snails. These little guys are second to none in eating all forms of algae. These natural methods may take longer to do the job, but by using them, you don't have to worry about reactions to harsh chemicals.

Just a suggestion, you're the tank keeper.

B
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Old 05-18-2013, 04:30 PM   #4
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Hello M...

Excel is pretty powerful stuff and if you have other primitive plants in your tank like mosses, Vallisneria and ferns, they might be damaged.

More plants is a good way to control algae. Aquatic plants are a more complex organism and use the added nutrients in the water more efficiently than algae. I used Brazilian waterweed (Anacharis) in my tanks when I had a problem with "hair" algae. This plant thrives in water with higher levels of nitrogen and potassium, the same as algae.

I also got some "Ramshorn" snails. These little guys are second to none in eating all forms of algae. These natural methods may take longer to do the job, but by using them, you don't have to worry about reactions to harsh chemicals.

Just a suggestion, you're the tank keeper.

B
I do think you're at least partially correct. I did a big trim of my stem plants because they were growing crooked, and the stag horn popped up after that. I think I removed too much plant mass. Luckily, the Excel is helping the stems grow back fast.
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Old 05-18-2013, 04:43 PM   #5
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It's a debunked myth that nitrate and phosphate are direct causes of algae. EI dosing is a form of fertilization than can use super-high concentrations of both with no issues.

Algae is an imbalance between lighting, CO2 and ferts. Not just nitrogen and potassium.

MamaFish: what are the dimensions of your tank? What specific lighting do you have? How are you fertilizing the tank beyond Excel? That will allow others to help you resolve your algae issues.
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Old 05-18-2013, 06:40 PM   #6
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Ok, here goes: Tank's been running for 3 months.

25 gallon tank (24L 13 W 19 H)
Aqueon dual T5 fixture (runs 2 67k NO bulbs). I was running the lights for 10 hours, I recently reduced down to 8 with a siesta during the afternoon.
Excel dosed daily 3 ml (also started this week).
Flourish comprehensive dosed once a week after water changes, root tabs in the substrate.

Everything was going well until I left for vacation for a week. I've had diatoms forever, but a manageable amount. Just before I left, I trimmed a lot of my stem plants that were growing well, but crooked. I had a timer on my lights, and didn't feed the fish. When I came back, at least 70% of the plants had what looks like either hair or stag horn algae. I trimmed off the stuff on the stem plants, but the anubias and java fern still have quite a bit.

I can get out the good camera tonight and take a picture. My iPad takes the worst pictures ever.
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Old 05-18-2013, 07:53 PM   #7
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Since the bulbs are easily 17-18" from the substrate, you definitely have low light.

As Darkblade recommended, you could spot treat the plants with Excel to help get rid of it. Hydrogen Peroxide also works really well.

Since you have low light, you won't want to be dosing tons of fertilizer or lots of Excel. Could you post a photo of your tank so we can see how many plants you've got?

What are your parameters? Temp, hardness, pH, etc?
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Old 05-18-2013, 11:43 PM   #8
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Default Natural Algae Control

Hello again M...

Some other natural ways of controlling forms of algae occurred to me. You may be interested in one or two of them. I've read about Siamese algae eaters, Otoconclus (Otos). Apparently, algae is a diet staple for these fish. Amano shrimp are said to be good and they don't harm plants. My favs, the Ramshorn snails. If you prefer "Livebearing" fish that like algae, then Mollies might work well. I believe Rosy Barbs are best algae eaters among egg layers.

Just a couple more thoughts.

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Old 05-19-2013, 01:45 AM   #9
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Pictures as requested. My dear husband broke out the tripod and good camera for me

I just have the ammonia, nitrate and nitrite tests, I'm planning on picking up a master kit tomorrow.
Temp: 76
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5

The stem plants in the back were nearly to the top when I trimmed them back. Sigh...

For BBradbury, I currently have a nerite snail, and I had two otos until they randomly kicked the bucket last week. Picking up two more of them tomorrow as well.

The one other thought that I had was that my tank is about 3 feet from a window. It never gets direct light, but I have lots of sky lights in my house, so there is a fair amount of ambient light. Could that be causing the issue?
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Last edited by MamaFish; 05-19-2013 at 01:48 AM.. Reason: more info
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Old 05-19-2013, 12:18 PM   #10
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If I were you, I'd continue with spot treating with Excel. The amount you're dosing should allow you to treat the entire tank. Maybe up your water change frequency a bit during the treatment phase.

I'd also try using peroxide to treat. That seems to always do the trick for me when Excel isn't cutting it. Your fish are tough so they can handle it if you use small amounts.

After treatment is over, I'd ditch the Excel entirely and just use root tabs and the occasional dose of ferts as needed. The plants you've got will pull most of everything they need from their roots.

About Otos = were you feeding them? Often, there's not enough for them to eat in a tank and they'll require blanched vegetables or something equally suitable for their diet.
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Old 05-19-2013, 12:51 PM   #11
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Default Natural Algae Control

Hello again M...

Nice tank. The algae is a natural thing and a sign you're maintaining a healthy tank. From the pics, the algae isn't that bad. I read your later post and there's a good amount of food dissolved in the tank water from the root tabs, Excel, etc. That food and you have smaller tank with not much water to dilute dissolved nutrients, will make an ideal environment for the algae.

I was told to dose fertlizers only when they were removed through the weekly water change. If you dose them more often, then there may be more than the plants can use, so algae will take advantage.

I don't believe the plants will notice if you only dose the ferts according to the instructions and only dose after a water change. The algae, on the other hand, may shrink due to lack of food.

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Old 05-19-2013, 01:31 PM   #12
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also with oto's - if veggies dont work, you can try a sliced and peeled apple.
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Old 05-19-2013, 02:18 PM   #13
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Algae is a sign of an imbalance, not tank health. That happens to be what the OP is attempting to resolve.

Note: In some cases, algae is desirable an an imbalance is purposefully introduced. As is often the case with keepers of Stiphodon atropurpureus. They use purposefully super-strong lights to grow tons of algae, microorganisms, biofilm (aufwuchs) upon which Stiphodon primarily feed.
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Old 05-19-2013, 03:49 PM   #14
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Thanks for all your thoughts everyone! I'll keep up with the Excel spot treatments for now and try the H2O2 if it doesn't clear up. I'll cut back on ferts too. I do a roughly 30% water change every week and only dose the Flourish after that. I'll cut back to half a dose and see how it goes.

I have been offering blanched veggies at least once a week (mostly lettuces and spinach, since that's what's usually in my fridge), but I never saw the otos eat it- the platies are the only ones who seem to like it. I'll try some zucchini this time around.

One last question: Even before the algae situation, the stem plants have a tendency to grow pretty leggy. I know in my garden outside, when the plants grow leggy they aren't getting the sun they need. I was toying with the idea of throwing an extra 13 watt 65k cfl bulb I have lying around on the tank to see if a bit more light might help things out. I'm fine with continuing excel should the light require it, but I'm not interested in injecting CO2 at this time. Good idea? Or asking for trouble?

Thanks again!
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Old 05-19-2013, 05:22 PM   #15
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Blanched zucchini would probably be better/more palatable to Otos. Definitely try that.

You're correct that your plants are growing "leggy" because they're reaching for the light. You have low lighting. Depending upon the specific plant, there may not be much you can do. Based on your photos above, it doesn't look like you have any species that are tight/compact growers.
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