Algae on plants, high PH and hardness and NO CO2
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Old 02-04-2004, 02:38 PM   #1
asmodion
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I'm a newbie to this so please bear with me. Also, I don't have stats on my water handy but had some general questions about my uncommon situation and will persue purchasing appropriate additives and test kits accordingly.

I have a 75g African rift aquarium in which I have planted Crypts, Anubias, amazon swords, and two species of Vals. There is also a large mass of java moss hanging around one side of the tank. I can NOT use CO2 because the PH needs to stay high. As far as I am aware it's not really possible to maintain a ~8.2 PH with CO2, so I haven't tried. Hardness is around 10-12, both carbonate and general. Substrate is a mix of crushed lace rock (for ph and hardness) and flourite. All decor rock is lace rock. Side note: seems that java ferns will not grab on to lace rock (not porous enough?).

It seems that the plants are growing well. The swords have shot runners to the surface (I take this to be positive), the fancy java ferns have dropped baby plants from their leaves (I take this as positive), and the vals have started baby plants via horizontal runners (I take this as positive).

The only negative is the algae seems to be growing on the leaves of all of these plants. I currently give that tank about 9 hours of light from two fixtures. One is a 3x strip light with two low-kelvin (plant) bulbs and a 10k bulb. The other fixture is a x4 compact florescent with 2 actinic and 2 10k bulbs (65w each). I don't know offhand what the wattage is of the 3x strip light but they're all 4' T8's. I like the extra light for viewing purposes, but if it's going to be causing issues I will reduce either the overall time or shut a fixture off alltogether. I plan to replace the actinic bulbs with something in the 6.5K range in the near future (it came with actinic ).

I do not have any single-cellular algae issues because I use a UV sterilizer which is fed via a very slow rate pump.

I currently supplement with Flourish Excel, Iron, and Kent ProPlant. I use Root Tabs for the Vals (which were dying previous to adding root tabs).

Thanks for any help. If it's totally impossible to give any advice without specific chemical readings from the tank, I shall find this and report accordingly.
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Old 02-04-2004, 02:48 PM   #2
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Just a few questions for you: First, can you get nitrate and phosphate readings for us? Second, can you describe this algae in terms of color, form, etc? That will beter able us to help you out.
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Old 02-04-2004, 02:54 PM   #3
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Hmm. Sorry I left out the algae description. Well, for the most part I believe it's what you call "beard" algae. Short, fuzzy stuff on the leaves of plants. On the swords though, there are also dark spots which form on the leaves in splotches. Mixed in with the java moss there are long strands of hair algae also.

As for tank water readings, I will have to get the appropriate kits and report back when I have more data.

Mostly I just wanted an idea of whether I have way too much light, too short a light dosage with too much intensity, etc. Also, I am challenged with the issue of not being able to add CO2.

Thanks
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Old 02-04-2004, 03:03 PM   #4
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Well, the beard algae is usually due to not having enough co2. You are running quite a bit of light for not injecting co2. For starters I would cut the lighting down to around 150 watts.
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Old 02-04-2004, 03:12 PM   #5
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Do the Actinic lights really make a big difference since they're almost 100% blue? I have 130w of actinic light on the tank, and I'm curious what sort of "weight" I should assign thost 130w in terms of photosynthesis and algae use.
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Old 02-04-2004, 03:29 PM   #6
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I would keep those actinics off or switch out their bulbs as soon as possible (read this as when you see this post ). They serve no purpose in the freshwater tank.
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Old 02-05-2004, 12:47 PM   #7
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Ok, well for now I have changed the setup so that only the 96w strip light fixture is on, and for 12 hours. We'll see if things start turning around.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 02-06-2004, 02:03 PM   #8
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I got a phosphate test kit and checked out that tank... Looks like the reading was quite high, at 1ppm. I don't know what it _should_ be, but that seems a bit excessive. I took the reading after the fish were fed though, so I will need to do it again to verify the results. I don't know how much the food particles and whatnot would affect the phosphate reading.

How can I reduce this? I was using "phosphoguard" for a while as a supplementary filter medium, but I switched to all-carbon. Should I go back?
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Old 02-06-2004, 03:29 PM   #9
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Just a few thoughts...

1 ppm phosphate is not necessarily too high, but you should measure nitrate levels as well. If they are too low or too high, it will be part of the algae problem. If they are just right, plants will take up phosphates quicker as well, no need for PhosphoGuard and whatnot.

To reduce phosphate levels, feed less (if possible) and increase water changes. Test the tap water as well to see if that isn't the source of phosphate.

Using carbon in a planted tank is detrimental to plant growth. Do water changes instead.

Planted tanks with African Cichlids are challenging, but I have seen a few attractive ones.
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Old 02-12-2004, 01:29 PM   #10
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I have modified my lighting schedule, and it appears to be having a positive affect on the Algae situation.

In my 75g tank, I now have set it to the following schedule:

96w: 4.5 hours
356w: 3 hours (big fixture turns on for a bit)
96w: 4.5 hours

As soon as the algae settles down, I may modify this so that I run in the following schedule:

130w: 2 hours
226w: 2 hours
356w: 4 hours (everything blazing)
226w: 2 hours
130w: 2 hours

Comments/suggestions? I know it's a lot of light.

Also, now that the bright green fluffy algae has receded, I seem to have darker brown varieties growing on leaves and whatnot. The brighter stuff is almost all gone now.
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Old 02-12-2004, 02:34 PM   #11
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356 watts is too much light for a 75 gal with no co2. Even 226watts might be too much on that tank. Keep it simple, try 226watts for 10- 12 hours straight. It's pretty much a neccesity to get a grip on nitrates along with phosphates. So get a nitrate kit and test the tank. Your phosphates are reasonable, just leave those alone for now. Remove the carbon.

The plants you have now are low-med light plants, so they'll be fine with the lower wattage and it'll be a lot easier for you to keep this tank stable if you keep the wattage lower. Oh yeah, ditch the actinics.

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Old 02-12-2004, 04:54 PM   #12
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Yeah, I'm ditching the actinics. I bought my lighting fixture before I knew that a "freshwater" version of it existed. Nobody around here stocks the "freshwater" aqualights yet. I have 6700K PC bulbs arriving Friday, so the actinics will be history then.

Maybe I'll only put the fish under "full light" when I'm doing photos. As for Nitrate/Nitrites I will get a kit sometime soon, just haven't gotten to it. I'm dealing with 3 (three) different batches of fry right now from different species. Emergency - maternity ward stuff in full effect.
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