Algae control balance - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-02-2019, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Algae control balance

So I've got CO2 running, dosing most of the Seachemm catalog and lights going 8 hours. I do have plants that seem to be growing, albeit some faster than others. I've been reading that it's all about finding balance between nutrients , light and CO2, but how do I tell what is off. I've been getting a lot of algae, and have been trying to clean it the best I can, but without an Oto or anything to take care of the smaller spaces it keeps winning. I guess my main question is, since algae is growing, I know something is off, but how do I trouble shoot to find out what?
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post #2 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-02-2019, 07:48 PM
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So I've got CO2 running, dosing most of the Seachemm catalog and lights going 8 hours. I do have plants that seem to be growing, albeit some faster than others. I've been reading that it's all about finding balance between nutrients , light and CO2, but how do I tell what is off. I've been getting a lot of algae, and have been trying to clean it the best I can, but without an Oto or anything to take care of the smaller spaces it keeps winning. I guess my main question is, since algae is growing, I know something is off, but how do I trouble shoot to find out what?
Do you have a water testing kit? If you do can you post your parameters? And also normally when I have issues I adjust lighting hours first. I started a new tank about a month and a half ago and I'm having some issues rn and I 100% know it's my lighting. I have been running them 14 hours a day. The difference is I'm doing it on purpose to get my plants to grow.. also I haven't fed in 3 weeks since the fish have been doing an excellent job keeping my plants clean.

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post #3 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-02-2019, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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What all should I test? I think my current test kit only has ammonia and pH, hella basic stuff. And I have Otos on order, I just don't want it to get too crazy now, I don't mind to let the plants grow though, not a bad idea. I do have a drop checker and have kept in in the green zone, aside from in the morning it seems to build up and go blue.
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post #4 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-03-2019, 01:31 AM
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It is critical to test nitrate and phosphate almost every day. Potassium as well if it were possible. You should also always know what your co2/ph/kh/gh is roughly at. Finally, you want to measure your iron, magnesium and calcium.
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post #5 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-03-2019, 01:44 AM Thread Starter
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Oh wow, well now would be a good time for anyone to invest in the FW test supplies industry before I go shopping.
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post #6 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-03-2019, 01:47 AM
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It is critical to test nitrate and phosphate almost every day. Potassium as well if it were possible. You should also always know what your co2/ph/kh/gh is roughly at. Finally, you want to measure your iron, magnesium and calcium.
That's a little extreme. I check mine once every 2 weeks. Honestly I check right before my automatic water change goes off.

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post #7 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-03-2019, 05:36 AM
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One size does not fit all but your water parameters is the first place to start. I would certainly post some pictures.

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post #8 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-03-2019, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Ddrizzle View Post
It is critical to test nitrate and phosphate almost every day. Potassium as well if it were possible. You should also always know what your co2/ph/kh/gh is roughly at. Finally, you want to measure your iron, magnesium and calcium.
That's a little extreme. I check mine once every 2 weeks. Honestly I check right before my automatic water change goes off.

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I highly recommend checking every day if its high light. One parameter off for a day or two and bam, you have an algae explosion.

I've had explosions from lot realizing my phosphate was gettingnsucked dry, while my nitrates were twice as high as expected due to fish poop.

I've also had staghorn form because my iron was too high for a few days.
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post #9 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
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Well attached are what it current;y looks like, I haven't gone into town yet to grab some test kits, but likely will this weekend. I'd say the main issues are lack of spreading of the carpet, lack of red in the AR, and obviously the hair algae.
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post #10 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
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I now have the test kits, but when should I test? Dose once and then test a day/week later? What point in the photosynthesis cycle should I test? Morning/night, or doesn't that matter too much?
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post #11 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 01:39 AM
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Quote:
I now have the test kits, but when should I test?
test for each item you can test for with your kits and post the numbers.

Quote:
So I've got CO2 running, dosing most of the Seachem catalog
List each product you are sing and how much you add per week. also how many gallons of water in the tank. Please list the full name of the product. Don't just say Seachem Flourish because there are 10 very different flourish products Also if you can find it on line post a link to your water utilities water quality report. If you are not using tap water are you using RO, distilled, water softener water?
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post #12 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 05:58 AM
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This is just coming from my experience, but my recommendation (which will probably be contrary to about 95% of all the other users on this forum) would be to not even bother with daily water parameter checks... Just a baseline check to make sure you're not trying to grow plants in hostile parameters should be sufficient, which is basically pH GH (and questionably KH). Nitrates are helpful if you have voracious plants that require a lot of nitrogen, otherwise many plants will grow (even thrive) in low nitrogen environments. I wouldn't even bother with the other nutrients like K, Cu, Fe. If in doubt, just dose it... When dosing K in large amounts you're supposed to add Mg since high concentrations of K can interfere with Mg absorption IIRC.

As you already alluded to, it really comes down to balance. Unfortunately, it's usually very difficult to figure out what exactly is off balance once things are already off balance, since most don't diligently recording their tank parameters prior to their tank being overrun.

Just from eyeballing your picture, it looks like your plants never really took off; but I honestly can't say with 100% certainty since I don't know how long you've had the tank running. I'm surmising this because of the lack of horizontal growth I'm seeing in your eleocharis parvula. That stuff grows like a weed when in optimal conditions. At the end of the day, no/poor plant growth --> algae problems. Lots of things can cause plants to grow poorly including insufficient lighting, insufficient lighting/CO2 ratio, insufficient nutrient supplementation, and poor maintenance/plant care.

From what I've experienced and seen countless times on the forums, algae crashes seem to happen after a period of poor maintenance/upkeep, e.g. getting lazy on the water changes, not vacuuming your substrate, overfeeding your tank, not pruning dead plant matter, letting your filter get clogged, etc. Seems to me it's a buildup of organics and detritus that ultimately leads to an algae bloom, which could have been prevented with better maintenance/upkeep. Not sure if this applies to you since I don't know how old your tank is, but if you think that's the problem, then just clean your tank and restart with more diligence. No need to really change anything else unless you don't think you can keep up with the maintenance regimen or if the plants really just aren't growing.

For now, I'd recommend you just do (1) serial 50-80% water changes daily for the next 1-2 weeks after removing all of the algae you can see. Make sure your water is basically clear at 3 inch depth when you pour some into a white bowl. You can skip water changes if the water looks crystal clear with the 3in check, but the moment you see discoloration you should do a water change. (2) Remove all plants or leaves of plants that are struggling e.g. covered in algae, have holes in them, are stunted. Healthy, growing plants will do wonders in algae inhibition. (3) Make sure your filters are working properly, but don't power wash the biologic layer since you don't want your tank to go through another cycle. (4) Redo your CO2 titration so that you can achieve max CO2 solubility without overly stressing your fish/fauna, or a pH drop of ~1.0 from start to end of dissolution, or some level of CO2 that you are comfortable with. You can go overboard with the water changes, but make small changes in the CO2 until you feel like you've reached the limit your comfortable with. (5) for fertilization (which is absolutely necessary if you inject CO2), go for either a lean dosing approach via the ADA method or go for EI or PPS pro per Tom Barr's website, following the instructions to a tee. There's over a decade (possibly decades) of work that went into the development and optimization of those dosing methods, so it doesn't make much sense IMO to try and reinvent the wheel.

At the end of the day, what's going to make the most difference is getting your plants to grow. That comes down to giving them the proper, stable environment to grow in and paying attention to your tank.

As an aside, the only real metric I follow nowadays in my tanks is pH and TDS, and I grow plants just to sell on the forums. I don't even use my pH probe anymore, I just eyeball with my drop checker and how my fish and plants do in the tank. In the end, what I've found most important is attention to detail, daily monitoring/maintenance, and overall consistency.

For more really helpful, summarized information controlling algae in your planted tanks, I would really recommend you give Dennis Wong's website a peruse (as @OVT already linked you to). His tanks are a testament to his technique and has been really helpful in my planted tank adventures. His section on algae control is a good read IMO: https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/control-algae.html It provides a good primer and tees you up nicely to learn about the other aspects of algae control including lighting, CO2, dosing, etc.
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Last edited by ced281; 05-09-2019 at 06:11 AM. Reason: Updated
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post #13 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 06:03 AM
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Green spot algae is typically from low phosphate and high nitrate. Brown algae is from low light and/or co2. Black beard algae is typically from high waste. I've seen staghorn grown from high iron or micros (CSM + B).

Green dust algae seems to be normal and will always need a wipe off the glass here and there.

High tech? You need to have a perfect fert routine else you need to measure nitrate, phosphate, ph, and co2 everyday. If on goes out of balance you are in trouble.
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post #14 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 07:11 PM
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Going back through your posts I gather you have Finnex light, 406 canister but I couldn’t see anywhere where actually stated volume/dimensions of this tank. ???

Also is that a single downward flow tulip water return at top right of this last pic?

Actual stats on volume of tank and amounts of dosing, what products your dosing and how often you do that dosing would also help a lot.
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post #15 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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My tank has been up for about two months maybe now, and yeah, the Christmas moss has grown a bit, as well as the crypts in the back, but the DHG hasn't spread across at all and the AR has just gone from nice and red to dull. The plants leaves had deteriorated a bit, unfortunately I was trying to save them by dosing and water changes, not really pruning them, the only pruning I did was cutting the tops of DHG to get horizontal movement. My regime has been to change about 25% water twice per week and dose after changing. I meant to only do once per week, but as I was fighting algae, I was doing more. Last night I tested everything in the evening right before the lights were at the end of their 8 hour cycle (which is a Finnex 24/7+ Planted Tank).

Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 0
pH: 6.5
Iron: 0
Phosphates: 0 ( I thought this being high was going to be the issue actually)
gH: 6 drops
kH: 3 drops (I used the AI test and wasn't quite sure how to read the data to be completely honest)

My CO2 has been set at ~3 drops per second. The drop checker is usually green in the day while the plants (or moreso algae) is photosynthesizing, and it is yellow when I wake up in the morning before the lights go on. The products I dose with are...

Seachem Flourish (0.07-0.01-0.37, it says Micro elements, trace elements and other nutrients)
Seachem Nitrogen
Seachem Phosphorus
Seachem Potassium
Seachem Iron
Seachem Trace

I dose all based on the recommended doses on the back based on the unscientific readings of half a capful. My tank is a 20g high, standard dimension of that I think are 24" x 12" x 16". My filtration is a 206, diffuser is inline with that and I do have the one stock outflow that came with the canister, correct. I should also mention hair algae seems to be the number one grower, I have been giving it haircuts utop the tree, but to clean up within the branches I think I would need a shrimp, which I doubt I could get here or an oto.
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