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Old 03-16-2013, 11:49 PM   #1
ScottPic
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Brown Hair Algae


I have come across a brown hair algae outbreak that I need some help with. I have gone to several LFS and have been given conflicting advice and have become rather frustrated. Some tell me its just part of the cycling process and it will take care of itself and others tell me it needs to be treated. But first, the basics:

Tank:
- 55 Gal
- Pressurized CO2
- 216W T5HO @ 12000K (4 x 54W)
- Flourite Substrate, Brown

Plants:
- Micro Sword Narrow Leaf
- Green Myrio
- Red Temple
- Amazon Sword
- Java Moss
- one plant I can't recall the name of (I'm sure somebody can help out!)

Fish:
- 3x Serpae Tetra
- 4x Endler
- 3x SAE
- 3x Red Eye Tetra

Dosing:
- 10 mL Flourish Comprehensive 3x/week
- Prime & Stability with every water change (based on water change amount)
- Soon to start EI dosing after algae has been dealt with

First off, I will say that I am not new to keeping an aquarium, but I am new to having a planted tank. This is still a newly establish tank, only 3 weeks old.

Initially, the tank was treated with Stability to initiate the fishless cycle. It was treated as per the instructions on the bottle. The plants were added at the beginning of the stability dosing. After the first week, the fish were added to the tank and the CO2 was started at approximately 1-1.5 bps.

There were no problems during the second week. Tank treated once per week with stability as per instructions on bottle. Small water changes were done every 2 days after being treated with Prime and Stability.

During the third week the brown hair algae appeared on the micro swords and the java moss. The photoperiod was initially 10 hrs/day. I cut it down to 7hrs/day and cut the lighting in half from 216W to 108W. I also increased the CO2 to 2-3 bps. The brown hair algae continued to appear despite hand removal.

Next I brought a water sample to the LFS to test it. They gave me the following:

Ammonia - 0 ppm
NO2 - 7 ppm
NO3 - 40 ppm
pH - 6.2

They then suggested treating the tank with Stability on a daily basis (for the second time) until the nitrite levels diminished. They also recommended using an alkaline buffer to raise the pH. I was not convinced that my pH was as low as it tested. They also told me that my algae problem was from excess nitrates in the water.

I arrived home and tested the water using a 5 in 1 test strip to replicate the results. I obtained the following:

Ammonia - 0 ppm
NO2 - 4 ppm
NO3 - 60 ppm
pH - 6.8
gH - 160 ppm (~10 dkh)
kH - 120 ppm (~6.7 dgh)

I then tested the water using a liquid pH tester and obtained a pH of 6.8, verifying the test strip results.

I have been using filtered tap water for my water changes. I then tested the filtered tap water and got:

NO2 - 0 ppm
NO3 - 30 ppm
pH - 7.2
gH - 160 ppm (~9 dkh)
kH - 180 ppm (~10 dgh)

Not sure if this is a problem or not. Haven't had the chance to test the water after it has been treated with stability and prime.

And here I sit. Frustrated from conflicting advice and just trying to figure out how to remove the hair algae from my tank. Anyone would could shed some light for me would be greatly appreciated. Attached is a photo of the algae and an overall photo of the tank.

(P.S - The plant that I cannot remember the name for is in the back right corner of the tank, seen in picture #4)







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Old 03-17-2013, 01:35 AM   #2
latchdan
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There is kinda a debate if this is diatoms or a bacteria that feeds on iron, kinda up in the air right now. Seems similar to the algae I have which I call brown hairy algae.
Can see in this link around page 2,
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...=233266&page=2
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Old 03-17-2013, 03:07 AM   #3
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Looks to be the same. Any luck or advice on getting rid of it?
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Old 03-17-2013, 08:15 PM   #4
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Just a thought, could the 12000K lighting be promoting algae growth? From what I understand it is not optimal for plant growth but not sure if it will promote algae...
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Old 03-18-2013, 03:48 AM   #5
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Sounds like far too much chemical influence for one thing.

Second, are you dosing any fertilizers? If not, you're missing a very important leg of the three part planted tank experience. Good lighting and good CO2 is useless without good ferts.

I would stop dosing with Prime and Stability. Your LFS is out to sell products, and it sounds like it's working. They're offering, you're buying.

If it were me, I would focus on getting the cycle stable, lower your Nitrates (using water changes, not miracle chemicals), then get stocked. After about 2 months, any algae that remains is a problem.
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Old 03-18-2013, 02:22 PM   #6
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Hi Scott, I had exactly the same problem, I posted a picture almost identical to the one you have of your moss and it was suggested to be diatoms.
Mine came in around week 3 or 4 of a new tank and lasted till about week 7-8. I kept up my normal 30-40% weekly water changes, weekly ferts and kept my co2 at the same level all the time and added 4 otocinclus cats and they munched their way through it. It has all gone now without the need to buy any shop suggested treatments.
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:09 PM   #7
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First off, thanks for reading and taking the time to reply.

As far as ferts I am dosing 10 mL Flourish Comprehensive 3x/week and have Flourish root tabs in the substrate. I am going to start EI dosing but I am unsure if that will help or hinder the algae removal at this stage. Not sure if I should start now or wait until the algae has been dealt with. Advice?

I should have been clearer in my initial post regarding my use of Prime. I have only been using Prime to dechlorinate tap water during water changes. I have not been using it to control nitrate/nitrite levels.

The only new suggestion from the LFS was to dose daily with stability. I was kind of unsure of this advice and your response has confirmed my gut instinct.

I intended to follow the instructions on the bottle and dose Stability with every water change. Is this not advisable?
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Old 03-18-2013, 07:14 PM   #8
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Let me answer your question with my thoughts regarding "Beneficial Bacteria" products like Stability.

The bacteria we want in our tanks thrive on Ammonia and Nitrite. If we suddenly remove the bioload completely, our biological filters die pretty quickly from starvation.

With that in mind, consider bottled bacteria such as Stability... what exactly is it? How can it live in the bottle on a shelf for so long when a normal biological filter is so fragile?

The answer lies in the fact that it's not the same bacteria. That is why you have to keep dosing it. The bottled bacteria don't establish colonies and die off, leaving you vulnerable. Additionally, they consume the valuable ammonia that a regular biological colony would use to get established.

http://www.firsttankguide.net/bacteria.php
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Old 03-18-2013, 08:49 PM   #9
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Welcome to keeping plants.

I would personally swap out those 12K tubes with 6500-6700K. The 12K are for saltwater tanks; blue spectrum that are for corals etc.

Ditch Stability as its not an aquatic bacteria. Start 30-50% daily water changes with Prime until you have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and some Nitates.

Make sure you have good circulation throughout the plants. Add a powerhead if need be. I use 2 Nano circulation pumps in my 55g. They are more gentle but provide movement.

Diatoms should disappear once the tank stablizies. Untill then keep wipping them off your plants as not to block the light.

Be patient.
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Old 03-20-2013, 11:09 PM   #10
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I have seen things similar before, I narrowed it down to two things, a filamentous diatom called synedra (very aggressive, remove all of it one day, grow back bigger the next) or a brown algae called rhizo. H202 should kill it, and turn it green, then white and dead.

The common problem is too high light, 4 T5 HO on a 55g planted is way too much (that is something you would use on a reef tank). 1 -2 T5 should be able to grow any plant. Even raised 6-12 inches off the tank surface. Another problem could be phosphate, try phos zorb or phos guard in your filter.
Less light is always better, ADA setups use very low PAR and lean dosing and have fantastic lush growth with all their plants. Tom Barr also recommends lower light levels. Maybe add more plant mass and floating plants as well.

Although a lot of variables can be in play, usually it is very high light, inconsistent CO2 levels, and inconsistent nutrient levels that are the cause of these types of brown algae.
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:09 AM   #11
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I have the exact same stuff... struggling with it for a very long time. Otos dont touch it, nothing eats it. It is SO hard to get rid of. I'll try less light
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Old 08-12-2013, 03:47 PM   #12
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I have my 2 bulb 48" T5HO 6" off of the rim, and have about 50 PAR at the substrate. I could only imagine what kind of light a 4 bulb T5HO could put out. that's a TON of light.
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Old 08-12-2013, 03:48 PM   #13
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that stuff has been taking over some of my tank. I suck like 3/4s of it out and it is all grown back by the middle of the next day.
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Old 08-12-2013, 03:49 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jester946 View Post
I have my 2 bulb 48" T5HO 6" off of the rim, and have about 50 PAR at the substrate. I could only imagine what kind of light a 4 bulb T5HO could put out. that's a TON of light.
I have a 3 bulb HO over a 20L, probly in the same boat of having too much light.
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