Got Algea? A bit confused on water parameters. - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-22-2006, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
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Got Algea? A bit confused on water parameters.

I'm not new to tanks, but fairly new to planted tanks. I've frequented this site for a while and have read so many threads my brain is about to explode. Needless to say, I'm still a bit confused with the whole "science" of having a happy plant tank.

Here's what I have:
75 gal
Substrate: Regular gravel
Plants: vals, rotala indica, java moss, onion plant, 4 leaf clover, some dwarf sag, red bacopa and ambulia.
Pressurized CO2 diffused temporarily through a long, thin airstone. The bubbles seem fairly small and I believe the CO2 is getting into the water.

2.93 wpg at 6400K x4 compact bulbs.
2 clown loaches, 2 red-eyed tetras, some otos and some amano shrimp.

PH 7.2 (which is slightly up from testing 2 weeks ago)
KH 300 (which, from what I can tell is actually 16.8 degrees)
GH 300
NO2 and NO3 are zero
Phosphate is somewhere between 2.0 and 5.0
I have the CO2 and lights on about 8 hrs a day, which was recently cut back from 10+.
Eheim 2217
Aquaclear 200
Excel dose every few days or so
Flourish root tabs scattered about the substrate

My concerns are with the algae. I've noticed that it's not going away and it's increasing somewhat most every day. Black algae is taking over my beautiful java moss and I've got a bit of green spot algae on some of the plants, and there's a few tufts of some type of green pillowy algea on some of the gravel.

Also the plants don't seem to be growing and looking all that great. I've tried to do a 20-25% water change every week to week and a half and they are still not perking up.

I'm wickedly confused as to what my parameters should be.
Am I close?
Is it time to look at dosing nutrients?
What do I do to reduce/increase whatever needs to be?
What other t hings can I do to reduce the algae?
Do I need more plants? Plant suggestions?

Please advise.
Rachel
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-22-2006, 02:44 AM
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You have a lot of light, so you need a lot of plants, good fertilizing routine and plenty of CO2. I suggest your plantings should cover about half to two thirds of the substrate, if not more. You should be dosing nitrates, phosphates, potassium, and trace elements - that can be KNO3, KH2PO4 and CSM+B or equivalent (Flourish, for example). You should not just think you have enough CO2, but be sure of it by getting or making a "drop checker" per DIY Drop Checker - Aquatic Plant Central- aquascaping...a living art. Then you need a KH/GH test kit and a pH test kit, but not the other kits. Much better and easier to use the EI method of fertilizing - see Estimative Index Dosing Guide - Aquatic Plant Central- aquascaping...a living art. Then you have a fighting chance to get rid of the algae and stop it from returning.

Hoppy
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-22-2006, 03:55 AM
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Rachel,

Your Phosphate is way high. With zero Nitrates and measurable Phosphates (anything above 0 on your test kit) you are asking for trouble. 2 is high, 5 is way, way high!

The opposite is ok - you can have zero Phosphate and 10-20 (or even more) Nitrate and have no problems...

Here are 4 steps that will make a difference for sure. Basically you will be "resetting" the water parameters (especially Phosphate) and starting with a clean tank:

1. Eliminate the Phosphates:
Do several small water changes (5-10%) every day in the course of a week. Of course test your tap water - it may contain Phosphates

Reduce the fish feedings to a small one every 2 days.

Every time you change water manually remove as many algae as you can.

After that week of water changes and reduced feedings you could test for Phosphates. Keep in mind that even your test kit shows zero there still maybe enough Phosphates to cause algae. But to make things simple just bring the Phosphates to zero on your test kit.

2. Add enough CO2:
After eliminating the Phosphates take care of the CO2. Diffusing the CO2 with a airstone may seem efficient but it is not. For a 75 gal. tank 1 bubble per second of CO2 should be a good amount to pump, providing you diffuse the CO2 well. In your case the easiest way to increase the efficiency of the CO2 diffusion is to place the airstone under a powerhead. The bubbles will get sucked by the powerhead. They will come out of it like a cloud of tiny bubbles. Let them float all over the tank - that seems to be the best way to supply CO2 to the plants. If you don't like the looks of bubbles floating all over direct the flow of the powerhead along the back glass or find a way to conceal it.

Do not try to lower your pH by pumping CO2. It's better to just make sure you pump a lot of CO2. 1 bubble per second, airstone, and a powerhead is a good amount, but can be increased if the plants still don't grow.

3. Calcium and Magnesium:
The increased CO2 by itself should make a difference in the plant growth. No need to add any fertilizers. But if you see no change check the Calcium and Magnesium of your water. Plants must have both of them to grow. The Calcium should be roughly 4 times the amount of Magnesium.

4. Fertilizing with N, P, K, Fe/Traces:
Only after you have the CO2 right, the Calcium and Magnesium figured out, and no readable Phosphates and Nitrates you can start carefully adding Nitrates, Phosphates, Iron and Traces. Fertilizing a nicely lit tank like yours with not enough CO2, Calcium and Magnesium is pointless and it only causes problems, so get them right first as I explained above.

--Nikolay
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-22-2006, 05:35 AM
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There is more than one school of thought about phosphates and nitrates. I suppose the jury is still out on that one, whether it should be or not. But, one non-controversial part is that you cannot trust a test kit for phosphate or nitrate unless you calibrate it. Don't make fertilizer dosing decisions based on test kit readings if you haven't calibrated your test kit.

Hoppy
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-22-2006, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, I'll work on the water changes tonight and through the holiday. To be honest, I usually only feed the fish in that tank every other day or 2 days anyway. I'll also test my tap.

As to the CO2, I believe I will try to shoot the bubbles from an airstone into one of the powerheads I have laying about. Will it be noisy?

I do wonder tho, if I have the placement of my in and out flows correctly, or if it even matters. I have the Eheim inflow on the far L back of the tank and the outflow vertically on the far R, pointing to the back corner. The Aquaclear is about in the middle. Can I place the airstone/powerhead on the far left corner nearest the Eheim inflow?

Thanks!
Rachel
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-22-2006, 01:15 PM
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It's not going to be noisy. There will be a little noise but nothing to worry about. If you remove the airstone and let a single bubble be sucked by the powerhead there is a little more noise but it's fine anyway.

This AquaClear.. Is it a hang on the back filter? If it is it will be wasting A LOT of your CO2. I'd remove it right away. Between the Eheim and at least one powerhead your flow will be fine.

Hoppy is absolutely correct - do NOT trust any test kit. Just use them if you really have to and again don't really assume they tell you the truth.

What I suggest doing is starting from a clean slate. Resetting everything to values that positively do not induce algae. If you start adding fertilizers before you have the CO2 right and the Phosphate lowered you will have problems.

--Nikolay
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-23-2006, 12:20 AM Thread Starter
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So, I've started the partial water changes and have stuck the CO2 airstone underneath a powerhead. And I've also disconnected the HOB filter. There is a lot of water movement between the powerhead and the filter. I'm assuming this is ok?

Also, I tested my tap and it's definitely not 0 phosphates. I am never really good at reading those tests, and know those things aren't 100% accurate, but I'm sure it's definitely not zero. It's also not as bad as my tank water. Should I be concerned? Will the small water changes this week be a waste of time?

Rachel
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 05:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niko View Post
Rachel,Your Phosphate is way high. With zero Nitrates and measurable Phosphates (anything above 0 on your test kit) you are asking for trouble. 2 is high, 5 is way, way high! --Nikolay
I have to dissagree with you niko...

My P04 is always at 5ppm, an I dont have algae issues. I have had algae issues, although small an easily corrected, but it all boiled down to c02, not P04.

High N an P levels wont cause algae, low c02 will.

There are a few things I see that might be causing you problems.

I dont think your kh/gh readings are correct, or you are misinterpreting the readings.

With a ph of 7.2 that has gone up in a couple of weeks means a lack of c02. I dont think the airstone is diffusing your co2 enough. You need a more efficient way of diffusing your c02.

Hoppy is right. Get a drop checker. That will let ya know what your c02 level is.

No N03...This should be around 10ppm.

Your lighting looks good, but without sufficient c02, you are asking for algae.

Get a good external reactor, or a diffuser, an you will be in better shape.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-27-2006, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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I realize test kits are not very accurate, so I usually just occasionally use them to look for extremes when I see something's not right in the tank.

GH is general hardness, right? We have very hard water here, so I'm not surprised to see it stay high.

How do I increase NO3? It's always been zero.

Also, I actually stuck the CO2 tube in the bottom of the powerhead and have noticed the plants perk up some. Will this diffusion method be sufficient, as it was free and easy to set up since I already had a powerhead laying around. The thought of buying more stuff, like the drop checker, or reactor doesn't appeal to me at the moment. I'm all bought out!

I tested again today and everything is about the same.

Should I try to turn up the CO2?

I still have some algea, but it doesn't seem to be getting worse.

Rachel
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-28-2006, 12:25 AM
 
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rachel...You should really read this Rex's Guide to Planted Tanks. It will answer alot of your questions.

As far as upping the c02. Yes you can do that. Careful your powerhead doesn't get air locked. Meaning to much c02 under the intake may create an air bubble in the impeller housing and burn out your powerhead. Turn it up slowly, an see how the fish react. If they start gasping at the surface, there is to much c02 going into the tank. if the powerhead starts making alot of noise, you might want to stop. The impeller is probably churning to much air.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-01-2006, 12:56 PM
 
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i have to agree Phosphate is not causing the algea problems lack of nitrates and low co2 is what is causing the problems i keep my ferts and co2 way high quess what no more algea 2ppm of phosphate is not high
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