Algae and water hardness *help!* - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 08:02 AM Thread Starter
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Algae and water hardness *help!*

Still in my first year of planted tanks but feel like I've been through a lot.

I'm in Arizona..Phoenix to be exact.

The water here is crazy hard and I've read here on this forum that most who live here get an RO unit. Then they add whatever to reach ideal levels.

I understand this concept. I also understand that there are hard water plants and soft water plants.

I do not have an RO unit, nor do I purchase distilled water. I use my Brita filter and that is it. So my water remains very hard even though its been filtered.

My issue is I keep getting algae. Hair algae, brown algae.

Can someone who is familiar with hard water where they live give me advice?

Here is my routine.

I have pressurized CO2 at a consistent rate about 3 bps which as main source of algae related issues, I don't feel is the culprit.

I have a current freshwater + led on for 7 hrs per day as my light source.

It's 10 gallon..I have my hob AND powerhead turned up so flow is good.

I had a bunch of glosso and stargrass originally but had to tear it out and replanted with dwarf hair grass and couple other different plants..but the hair algae comes back as well as brown algae on glass.

I feel like it has to be my ferts.

I dose EI via all Seachem products as listed via chart on their website. (Yes I know I'm wasting $ but I'll order dry when I'm out of these)

I guess my question, without phosphate tests or other "extra" tests (I have API Master and GH & KH)...

...is there a general rule of thumb when it comes to hard water that may help me? Like do they require less or more phosphorus, nitrogen, trace, potassium, etc...basically all the products I'm using from Seachem line..and you can look at the chart they have on their site that details EI via their line which I follow to the T....am I possibly over or underdosing one or more being that my water is off the charts hard?


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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 08:19 AM
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Hmm, besides your other questions, well I noticed that you said you have a HOB filter. It may likely be your hob filter probably gassing off your co2 making co2 levels inconsistent, therefore creating algae problems in your tank. You might want to decrease the strength of your hob filter by a lot, or better yet, get a canister filter and make sure the outtake is not creating too much surface agitation. Good luck.

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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 08:26 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by NeonFlux View Post
Hmm, besides your other questions, well I noticed that you said you have a HOB filter. It may likely be your hob filter probably gassing off your co2 making co2 levels inconsistent, therefore creating algae problems in your tank. You might want to decrease the strength of your hob filter by a lot, or better yet, get a canister filter and make sure the outtake is not creating too much surface agitation. Good luck.
Thanks.

No, I have hob turned down as low as it will go and my powerhead down low in tank.

I was getting a film on surface but I recently added an airstone for lights out because my filter was barely moving the surface. I also read this was healthy in general.

I know a lot of 24/7 diy co2 ppl add airstones but even though I have a solenoid and don't run co2 at night, I still added airstone for night time tank health especially since I had such a film on the surface which has gone since the airstone.


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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 06:18 PM
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I'm not very experienced, but I feel you on the hard water issue. I'm from Prescott Valley and have the same issue.
A while ago, I was having issues with brown algae (which apparently is diatoms) and some other kinds of algae. I got a few nerite snails and they took care of it quickly.
Here is a page I found that has info on each type of algae. Brown algae is the first listed and it does mention some stuff about phosphates. http://www.aquahobby.com/articles/e_...ater_algae.php

You also might search the net for your area's water quality report or phosphates in Phoenix water, etc. That might give you more insight into what could be causing your problem.
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 11:04 PM
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Most of the time algae can be assumed to start because you have too much light for the amount of CO2 you have dissolved in the water, or you are starving your plants by not fertilizing well. Algae love plants that are not growing well. I can't find any PAR data for that light fixture, but I suspect it gives you high light, and you don't have the CO2 bubble rate set high enough for that much light.

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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
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Most of the time algae can be assumed to start because you have too much light for the amount of CO2 you have dissolved in the water, or you are starving your plants by not fertilizing well. Algae love plants that are not growing well. I can't find any PAR data for that light fixture, but I suspect it gives you high light, and you don't have the CO2 bubble rate set high enough for that much light.
Yeah the light is high light. It's the Current Satellite Freshwater + LED...so I have set it to the highest which is full spectrum but I have also set it on lower light settings for some days and I really think I'm overdoing it with ferts bc my co2 is diffused well and I get pearling.

I have been blindly following this chart exactly....



..but am just now realizing this chart isn't necessarily for everyone.

I have very very very hard water.

I am convinced I am over and/or under dosing something but what I am not sure.


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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-26-2014, 01:06 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks to guitarfish, these charts he posted on his blog..I know about what PAR I'm working with.

For the Current Satellite Freshwater + LED, here are the PAR readings for all the buttons on the remote..the top # being PAR at surface and bottom PAR at 7" which my substrate is about 11" so I adjust accordingly.

The strongest I used to keep it on was Full Spectrum..



..but lately I keep it on either G or H..



but again I feel like my fert dosing is wrong. I suppose I will just experiment over time with keeping a log of what I dose and constantly adjust.

Was just curious if there was a common theme with hard water that I missed along the way. It just makes the most sense that the dosing chart I posted above that I have followed to the letter is a huge place for error.

I haven't gotten fert dosing down at all and there are so many variables it seems daunting to dial in because I am not fine tuning, it appears that I'm off by a long shot.

I just did a WC today with airline tubing and mechanically removed it all but I know it will come back until I figure out what I'm doing wrong.


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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-26-2014, 02:39 AM
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Attempting high tech with very hard water (15 or so dGH) is an absolute nightmare. Get an RO unit; it makes life much easier. Filamentous algae especially thrives in hard water. It used to be the bane of my existence, infesting every tank of mine without fail. Now in my main tank with a GH of 4-5 it's nonexistent and in my other tanks with a GH of 8-10 its presence is very minor (under the same conditions as I had before I should add).

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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-26-2014, 02:42 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Axelrodi202 View Post
Attempting high tech with very hard water (15 or so dGH) is an absolute nightmare. Get an RO unit; it makes life much easier. Filamentous algae especially thrives in hard water. It used to be the bane of my existence, infesting every tank of mine without fail. Now in my main tank with a GH of 4-5 it's nonexistent and in my other tanks with a GH of 8-10 its presence is very minor (under the same conditions as I had before I should add).
I was afraid this was the case...ugh.

Nobody ever accused this as being the cheapest hobby out there, ha.

Thanks Axelrodi


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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-26-2014, 04:01 AM
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The Flourish fertilizers dosing schedule provided by Seachem is only appropriate for low light tanks. You need to double those dosages for high light. I found that Excel is far more effective at twice the recommended daily dosage than at just the recommended dosage, and that was with low light. So, you may be right that your fertilizer dosing is what needs work.

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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-26-2014, 04:37 AM Thread Starter
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The Flourish fertilizers dosing schedule provided by Seachem is only appropriate for low light tanks. You need to double those dosages for high light. I found that Excel is far more effective at twice the recommended daily dosage than at just the recommended dosage, and that was with low light. So, you may be right that your fertilizer dosing is what needs work.
Interesting. It hadn't occurred to me that chart was for low tech.

So maybe I should increase all of them except for the excel.


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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-28-2014, 05:33 PM
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i have the same light on a mr aqua 12 gallon long so those PAR charts from guitarfish are pretty exact for me.

I had mine set for full spectrum, got a crazy amount of staghorn, dropped it to the white and noticed a pretty drastic drop in staghorn. I also stopped dosing nitrates and phosphates thinking maybe my water had enough and that seems to have helped as well. now i just dose potassium (liquid) and plantex csm+b (dry).


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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-28-2014, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
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i have the same light on a mr aqua 12 gallon long so those PAR charts from guitarfish are pretty exact for me.

I had mine set for full spectrum, got a crazy amount of staghorn, dropped it to the white and noticed a pretty drastic drop in staghorn. I also stopped dosing nitrates and phosphates thinking maybe my water had enough and that seems to have helped as well. now i just dose potassium (liquid) and plantex csm+b (dry).
Okay, so what does that translate to in terms of Seachem.

I'm not familiar with CSM+B or what that contains.

If I were to "stop dosing nitrates" like you said..what Seachem products would I dose or cut down ( for high phosphate also)

Here is list of what I dose. Can you maybe point out one that is probably not needed with hard water, high sodium, phosphates, etc

Iron
Potassium
Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Flourish
Trace


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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-28-2014, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffturneraz View Post
Okay, so what does that translate to in terms of Seachem.

I'm not familiar with CMB or what that contains.

If I were to "stop dosing nitrates" like you said..what Seachem products would I dose or cut down ( for high phosphate also)

Here is list of what I dose. Can you maybe point out one that is probably not needed with hard water, high sodium, phosphates, etc

Iron
Potassium
Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Flourish
Trace
I have very hard water as well.

Unfortunately I'm not sure how water hardness affects macro and micro nutrients. I have come to my conclusions based on process of elimination/guess and check.

Csm+b is a dry micro nutrient blend, basically the same thing as seachems trace (I beleive). I don't think you need to be dosing flourish (comprehensive) if you're dosing macros and trace separately but I could be wrong. If I remember correctly, flourish (comprehensive) is a blend of macro AND micro nutrients so it may just be excessive.

Before you stop dosing one or the other, I would pick up a nitrate and phosphate test kit and see where your tank levels are at. I believe the nitrate to phosphate ratio is 10:1

So if you test your nitrates and get a 20ppm reading you should have phosphates of 2ppm.

Some of the veterans on here may be able to better explain how hardness may change dosing. I have only been at this for 2 years so that's the best advice I can give. Anyone please feel free to correct me if I am off!


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Last edited by jbig; 07-28-2014 at 06:46 PM. Reason: forgetful
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-29-2014, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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This is a surprise to me but I bought a Phosphate test today, last test I needed that I didn't have...

...thinking they would be super high and my phosphates are Zero.

So very hard water GH last time took 17 drops to turn & Kh I think like 8ish? (Need to retest those 2 but basically my water is very hard)

Phosphate 0
Nitrates b/t 5 & 10 ppm
Nitrites 0

What is going on with my tank?

Today I bought distilled water.

Planning on doing a WC tommorow with it...maybe 30%.

I want to transfer to all RO water, that is the goal bc idk why else this is such a struggle.

I admit I could have better co2 diffusion but I keep my co2 steady and my plants pearl but I have algae everywhere.


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