Diatom bloom, White Hair Algae?
First off, I am a new member (as in a few moments ago), so if this should be posted somewhere else, my apologies, please direct. Let's get to the deets.
Tank: Aqueon 10 gallon
Heater: Aqueon 50w
Filter: Fluval Aquaclear 20 (using an extra sponge insert as a pre-filter over intake)
Light: Finnex 24/7 SE 8 hrs at max capacity
Using small airstone with tetra whisper 20 air pump
Substrate: Imagitarium river rock gravel (there is no spec on size, but it's pretty small) I never really thought about a planted aquarium
Current livestock: 3 Fire painted red cherry shrimp, 1 ghost shrimp, 1 Mexican Dwarf Crayfish CPO, 1 nerite snail, unknown amount of shrimp fry
Plants: One bunch of mint charlie, it has been separated and planted individually around 2 leave lengths apart
one cup of tissue culture monte carlo
small bunch of java moss
3 amazon swords (growing the best of all plants)
Several (maybe?) Java fern Windelov Note: purchased at Petsmart and it appeared to be one single plant, after moving a few times it broke apart into what appears to be 4 separate plants (they each appear to have their own rhizome)
Aquueon Water conditioner used for water changes
Seachem Flourish Advance for plants
Seachem Fourish Root Tabs
1 piece of driftwood (no idea what kind)
Quick intro: Never kept fish before, like many new aquarists I had no plan going in and have learned a lot on the fly from forums like this and YouTube. The massive amount of information as well as contradictory information is overwhelming. Yes, I realize there is more than one way to skin a cat.
So, I started with 4 neon tetras and 4 ghost shrimp, fake plants heater, filter and using a desk lamp for light. I dechlorinated the water and dumped the fish in. After the fact (yes I know) I learned about the nitrogen cycle and picked up an API Master Freshwater kit. I started doing 30-50% water changes every other day to keep the ammonia and nitrite levels safe for the fish.
A few weeks in I added the Java fern. A week later I added the amazon swords. One week after that the mint charlie. At that point (around 4.5 weeks) the tank appeared cycled after a week of water testing. Livestock appeared fine and all is well. Admittedly, I was definitely overfeeding which I have significantly decreased now. But, I was extremely diligent with water changes, gravel vacuuming and cleaning the inside walls of the tank as well as the heater and filter, basically anything inside the tank. One ghost shrimp molted and within a few days died. My first aqua-casualty. #Sad
A few weeks after the tank had cycled I added 3 fire painted red cherry shrimp (all pregnant) and ran out and got a ball of java moss for the fry. At this point I also invested in the Finnex light. A few days later i started seeing what appeared to be stringy white hair-like stuff on basically everything. I also picked up a piece of driftwood (no idea what kind) and soaked it in dechlorinated hot water (I didn't want to ruin a nice pot by boiling wood in it) doing frequent water changes for 2 weeks. I placed it in the tank knowing it would continue leeching tannins, but read that it was not harmful to the livestock and in some instances beneficial. One of the forms of media in the filter is a activated carbon bag, which I have been replacing every 3 weeks. I read that possibly the carbon was detrimental to plant growth (very controversial topic on several forums), but also read that it will help with the tannins. A few days later 2 more of the ghost shrimp died. #SadSad. I did pick them up at Petsmart where I know the conditions are CRAP, but I was still sad.
Last week, i started seeing a brown film on everything in the aquarium. I did some reading and surmised it is diatoms, this along with the white hair algae (I think thats what it is) has now been progressively getting worse and worse. Originally I was running my light 8-10 hours. On one hand, it sounds like reducing the photo cycle will help with the white hair algae stuff, but most articles I have read on the internet suggest that diatoms are caused by not enough light and/or an excess in silicates and phosphate in the tank water or new water or both. Per several forums I started just wiping my fingers on the surfaces to wipe it off, I now believe I exacerbated the problem after finding some more detailed explanations of diatoms. My new process has been to do a 50% water change, take a paper towel and try and wipe the walls up away from the water and wipe plants leaves to contain the the diatoms on the paper towel. I try and do a thorough gravel vacuuming as well. But sometimes even the same day it just comes back. I also added the nerve snail. The snail and the shrimp like the algae, but they aren't fast enough for the amount of it.
A few days ago, I was in an LFS (I know some of the lingo) and saw a Mexican Dwarf Crayfish or CPO, fell in love and also picked up the tissue culture cup of the monte carlo because several forums suggest more plants competing for nutrients will help reduce algae issues.
Yesterday one of the shrimp birthed the first fry. I think the neon tetras made quick lunch out of them even though there are several hiding places with the plants, java moss (where they were birthed) and some cholla wood. So, I donated them to a friend's tank who was happy to take them. The tank is now invert only (until I can get a decent colony going). I just find the inverts more interesting. This morning, I noticed more shrimp fry in the java moss. At this point the CPO doesn't bother the fry, but occasionally, I'll see him pinchers up chasing away the ghost shrimp if it gets too close to his little Craycave under the driftwood.
I know this post is long, but I just wanted to get all the details because many posts I read people are constantly asking for more details. Current readings are Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 5 ppm. I have seen several people suggesting hydrogen peroxide to deal with the white hair algae. I do not want to just spray that in my tank, but if it would work, I'd be willing to remove the driftwood and plants spray or soak it in a hydrogen peroxide bath (should it be straight up or mixed with water?) give it all a good rinse and put back in the tank. My other major concern is the shrimp fry. I'm super paranoid to do use the gravel vacuum or remove too much stuff because I don't want to kill MY PRECIOUS fry. I've read that Phosguard could help with the removal of excess silicate and help with the diatom issue. I've also read that it is natural and several people on forums suggest just letting it go, but it looks disgusting and I'd rather deal with it sooner than later. Some leaves on the mint charlie are turning a very dark green, the healthy leaves are a much lighter color.
One last (random) question. I see people feeding their inverts cucumbers and such. I've done some reading and some people say they scrub the veggie with a brush (seriously?) to remove any pesticides. Do people really do this? Is a good rinse and hand wash and then removing the peel not good enough? I don't really want to kill my inverts.
If anyone made it all the way through, sorry (again) and I will appreciate any advice or feedback. I've attached some (crappy) pictures.