How to remove fuzz algae from plants?
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Old 08-04-2010, 04:46 AM   #1
corrado33
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How to remove fuzz algae from plants?


First post here. I made this post at another aquarium site, but it seems you guys are more experienced with planted tanks, so I'm making the same post here. I'm really just looking for some feedback.

Ugh, algae... when isn't it a problem? So the question is, how do I remove fuzz algae from my plants like anarcharis and fanwort? It doesn't seem to like to come off.

Also, I'm confused as to whether it is hair algae, or fuzz algae? It LOOKS like the fuzz algae pictured in the greater Washington algae site, but it grows on the glass and it gets pretty long (I don't clean the sides of the tank). I don't have stocking room in the tank for any algae eating fish.

Here are the tank parameters.

12 gallon tank
  • Stocking
    • 4x Fancy Guppy
    • 6x Bloodfin Tetra
    • 5x Zebra Danio
  • Plants
    • 2x java fern
    • 1x anubius bavari var nana (yeah I can't spell it)
    • Bunch of anarcharis
    • Bunch of fanwort
  • Lights
    • 1x 12 (or 13) W life glo aquarium fluorescent light bulb
    • 2x 13 W CFL (daytime 6700k)
  • Ferts/Water
    • RO/DI water buffered with alkaline/acid buffer from seachem
    • Equilibrium is added to raise GH
    • I dose with fluorish twice a week as per directions on bottle
  • Parameters
    • Ammonia - Always 0
    • Nitrite - Always 0
    • Nitrate - Has been 0 since I got plants...
    • pH - Usually around 8 (still haven't figured out what's buffering my water, even though I use RO/DI and a buffering chemical for around 7 or 7.5)
    • KH - around 6 (I add enough alkaline buffer to get this)
    • GH - around 10 (I add enough equilibrium to get this)
The only thing I can think of it being is either low Nitrogen, or low CO2 in the tank. Right now I have some Seachem Fluorish Nitrogen and stuff to complete my pressurized CO2 setup being shipped to me, but I just wanted to see if any of you guys had any ideas...

Ah, here are the pics!





FTS Before lots of algae and right after rearrange and before fanwort.
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Old 08-04-2010, 04:13 PM   #2
captain_bu
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Welcome to the forum!

Looks like you have multiple types of algae. Second and third photos down show BGA (cyanobacteria). Last shot looks like some sort of hair algae. Here is a link to a good site for algae ID.

http://www.aquariumalgae.blogspot.com/

If you are growing plants you need nitrates they shouldn't be zero. Algae problems usually start with too much light and plants that are not growing at their optimum. If you are going to be injecting CO2 it is even more important for you to start adding comprehensive fertilizers. There is a Dosing Regimes sticky at the top of the Fertilizers and Water Parameters forum that you should read, it is really helpful and you will learn about the different options. For a 12 gallon tank you can use liquid fertilizers from Seachem or Pfertz but the cheapest route is to buy dry powders from someplace like www.aquariumplants.com. They are cheap and one $20-30 order will last a few years for a tank that size. The Flourish you are adding contains mostly micronutrients, you do need to add those but you also need to start adding the macro nutrients, (Nitrates, Phosphates, Potassium).

I suggest you stop worrying about your pH and ditch the chemical buffers. They make a mess of your water chemistry and can leave it unstable. If you are using RO water you shouldn't need them.

I would look at your rocks as a possible source of what is increasing the pH of your RO water.

For the algae, manually remove as much as possible even it if means cutting off leaves, cut light intensity and possibly photoperiod (shoot for 8 hours max for now). Keep the tank and filter clean and increase water changes to help remove algae spoors. Maracyn will kill off the BGA but it is expensive and if you don't get the tank under control it will only come back.
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:38 PM   #3
corrado33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_bu View Post
Welcome to the forum!

Looks like you have multiple types of algae. Second and third photos down show BGA (cyanobacteria). Last shot looks like some sort of hair algae. Here is a link to a good site for algae ID.
Great... I had BGA before I had this hair algae stuff, and I was happy when the hair algae came. (Cause it actually LOOKS better than the BGA, BGA looks extremely nasty and not natural. Not that either looks good, but you get my point).
Quote:
If you are growing plants you need nitrates they shouldn't be zero. Algae problems usually start with too much light and plants that are not growing at their optimum. If you are going to be injecting CO2 it is even more important for you to start adding comprehensive fertilizers. There is a Dosing Regimes sticky at the top of the Fertilizers and Water Parameters forum that you should read, it is really helpful and you will learn about the different options. For a 12 gallon tank you can use liquid fertilizers from Seachem or Pfertz but the cheapest route is to buy dry powders from someplace like EDITED. They are cheap and one $20-30 order will last a few years for a tank that size. The Flourish you are adding contains mostly micronutrients, you do need to add those but you also need to start adding the macro nutrients, (Nitrates, Phosphates, Potassium).
Thanks! Yeah I figured I'd start out with seachem ferts, but eventually move to DIY ferts etc. I figured it was just one less thing to worry about for now.

Quote:
I suggest you stop worrying about your pH and ditch the chemical buffers. They make a mess of your water chemistry and can leave it unstable. If you are using RO water you shouldn't need them.

I would look at your rocks as a possible source of what is increasing the pH of your RO water.
See, the thing is, when I first started using RO/DI water, my pH was going crazy. Bad swings, and I actually lost a fish. I've read that when you use RO/DI water, you HAVE to have SOMETHING to buffer the water to prevent pH swings. Plus a KH of zero isn't good either. And equilibrium just raises the GH of the water. I've read a GH of zero isn't good either as it'll put the fish in osmotic stress. Oh, and it's not my rocks. I've tested them with pH down. Not a bubble in sight. They're just slate anyway. Like I said, I don't know what it could be. I'm pretty sure I didn't buy marine gravel, but that is the only thing I haven't tested. If I had to guess, I would say that there is a phosphate buffer system established in my tank (since my plants can't use all of the available phosphate), and it's causing my pH to be higher than it should be.

Quote:
For the algae, manually remove as much as possible even it if means cutting off leaves, cut light intensity and possibly photoperiod (shoot for 8 hours max for now). Keep the tank and filter clean and increase water changes to help remove algae spoors. Maracyn will kill off the BGA but it is expensive and if you don't get the tank under control it will only come back.
Thanks for the advice. I've been trying to clean the plants off with a non-used toothbrush. I've even pulled them out twice and just rinsed them completely off with water. (I have well water, hence why I use RO/DI. We have an NaCl water softener, and lots of Na+ in our water.) I think I'll eventually end up doing what you said, cutting back leaves and stuff. The photoperiod is already 8 hours, so maybe I'll unscrew one of my CFLs till I get this under control. I have maracyn (it's not THAT expensive in the whole grand scheme of things.), but I haven't tried to use it to kill the BGA.

Since the algae isn't really killing anything ATM, I think I'm going to wait a bit on your advice until I can get the ferts to fix the problem. Once I get all of the macro nutrients, I'll do a VERY thorough cleaning (rinse everything, H2O2 dip maybe?, clean sponges in filter, vacuum the gravel very well, scrape all glass), then I'll do a 70% water change and dose everything afterward. I'm HOPING that with the correct nutrients (and a kick start from me), the plants will grow crazy and take care of the algae problem themselves. Do you think this could happen? In the meantime I'm going to continue to clean the tank twice or three times a week to try to keep the algae down. Do you think this is a good plan?

Ugh... just cleaned lots of stuff in the tank. My plants do not like being cleaned of algae. The fanwort is very very fragile. Hopefully it'll bounce back. I'm gunna try to keep it algae free just by cleaning it every day until my ferts come. We'll see how this goes. I'm also cutting back on light, both time and intensity. I have both seachem nitrogen and potassium coming in the mail. I'll probably go out and pick up phosphorus, but I'm not sure. For one, my fish budget is maxed for the month (yes, 4 days in and it's already maxed...), and like I said, I think I have a build up of phosphorus in the tank. Maybe I should get my water tested for it...
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:22 PM   #4
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Corrado33,

That's an impressive balancing act with the RO, Equilibrium, and buffers. Not everyone can pull that off. So if it's working for you, feel free to continue with it. Although, if it's possible to get some water from before the softener and mix it with the RO, it will be easier. The dry ferts suppliers also have a good GH/KH booster.

Sounds like you have a good handle on the needed modifications to get things under control too.

Note that Maracyn often achieves a total wipeout of BGA, so that it will not come back until reintroduced from an outside source (like plants from another tank); even if conditions for its growth remain very favorable. Treating now might make it easier on you, while waiting on everything to come in.

Also note that anacharis is sensitive to H2O2 and may melt.

Finally, slate can sometimes leak enough silicates to contribute to algae growth, even if it's non-reactive to acid test and doesn't affect the pH. You have bigger issues right now, so keep that possibility in mind for later.
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:37 PM   #5
corrado33
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Thanks DarkCobra. I understand the chemistry behind seachem products to "treat" RO/DI water (I am a chemist after all), it's just the fact that I know something is in my tank messing with my pH. GH and KH are easy enough to understand. Treat the water to a certain level and never worry about it again. (Till the next water change that is).

Maybe I will start Maracyn right now... I think the ferts will come in next week, so that'll give me a good week treatment of it. I have 2 filters on the tank so maybe I'll remove one of them and keep it wet/fed with ammonia (fish food) so I don't have to worry about the maracyn killing the beneficial bacteria.

I also did not know that anarcharis is sensitive to h2o2. I haven't done much research on H2O2 dips, so I'm a bit undereducated in that area. It's an option, but hopefully it won't be needed.

I also did not know that slate can release silicates. Hmmm... well, HOPEFULLY my plants will grow well enough to stop the silicates from promoting algae growth. One thing at a time. The rocks DO look good though. They look even better with a little algae on the sides of them. (I'm being totally serious, they really do.)

Also, one more question. My tank is only moderately planted (if that). How should I adjust my dosages for the seachem products accordingly? Half them? What plant density are seachem product dosages designed for?
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
Also, one more question. My tank is only moderately planted (if that). How should I adjust my dosages for the seachem products accordingly? Half them? What plant density are seachem product dosages designed for?
Go with the normal dose. Extra nutrients won't hurt unless they build up to the point of toxicity, which a weekly water change will prevent.
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:25 PM   #7
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I would worry first about getting some good CO2 in there and then adjust your nutrients. 38W of light in a 12g tank with no/little CO2 is an invitation for massive algae growth.

I would first run pressurized CO2, along with a 3day blackout to kill off the algae. It's worked for me plenty of times in the past, but that's just my experience.
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Old 08-06-2010, 12:23 AM   #8
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I would first run pressurized CO2, along with a 3day blackout to kill off the algae. It's worked for me plenty of times in the past, but that's just my experience.
Shouldn't I at least dose some nitrogen right before the blackout? So my plants can soak it up and keep it in reserves? I dunno, I've always heard to raise nitrates to 20ish before a blackout. Since I can't raise nitrates, can I just dose nitrogen? It's essentially the same thing...

And thanks for the reply!
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Old 08-09-2010, 06:48 PM   #9
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I don't think the nitrates would be properly "soaked up" anyway since there's no light. I'm no pro on this, just sharing my experience....turned the lights off and left all other factors alone (co2 was running during the blackout). Towards the end of the 3days, the most resilient algae turned brownish/red and fell off over time. Cleaned the filter, changed the water and all was well .

Hopefully somebody else can offer a more scientific explanation or more advice.
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