Ready to quit over this insane algae please help - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-14-2020, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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Ready to quit over this insane algae please help

I really need help. My planted tank is entirely over run by string algae. I have removed my fish, reduced my one light down to 5 hours a day, did a 4 day blackout, CO2 is at lethal levels at all times, I am doing 35ml of H202 in a 40 gallon tank every day, and 6x the recommended dosage of algae fix and yet it thrives and grows. I'm ready to just scrap the tank and be done with all of this. I've been trying for over a year and nothing works. The tank is 40 gallons has stones, java moss, Phoenix moss, dwarf hairgrass, and baby dwarf tears. I planted enough to cover 60% of the tank hoping it would carpet but the algae came in so hard you cant see any of it anymore and I cant imagine they can grow or spread under a massively hard impossible to remove blanket of this stuff.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-14-2020, 09:24 PM
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Reduce light intensity (rather than duration), stay on top of water changes. If the fish are all gone a 3x to 5x dose of Excel followed by a large (75% or so) water change after the algae turns white should have you at least in a place where you can start fresh.

Nothing good happens fast in an ecosystem.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-14-2020, 10:05 PM
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You have no fast growing plants. Are you aware of allelopathy? Plants produce chemicals that scientists think keep alage at bay. This only happens when faster goring plants are growing, or your slow growing plants fill up a large amount of the tank.

Besides that, if a 4 day blackout doesn't kill string algae then I would argue you didn't do a blackout, lol! This is a simple problem. You have too much light and nutrients to for your tank and plant setup.

Do a 5 day blackout (even light at one hour a day has worked for me). After that, only keep the light on for one or two hours until the algae STAYS away. This whole time, you need enough fertilizer to feed your plants to grow, but not way too much for algae to grow.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-14-2020, 10:08 PM
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Glass shrimp will eat string algi

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-14-2020, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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Maybe I did it wrong but for the blackout I wrapped my entire tank in a super thick blanket and unplugged the light. The light I have is a 6500k illumination 36" on a 40 gallon idk if that is too much the link to it is here

I will say having been doing heavy doses of H202 and Algaefix the entire carpet of Algae has turned a super light brown might be green I'm color blind either way went from super dark to super light but I'm still seeing new growth (not nearly as much) and not totally sure how long once I kill it it'll take for that blanket to decay and go away. I have heard about the need for lots of plants to compete for the carbon the algae wants which is why I ordered $250 in plants and the entire tank is planted with only about an inch of space or less between each plant I would say 60-75% covered already. Just hoping to buy time for these to carpet. I have been considering shrimp but didn't think they could get rid of it as fast as chemicals. The other suggestions I will do some reading on and maybe try those.

Oh as far as nutrients the entire substrate is ada aquasoil. Idk if that is what is causing my problems.

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So here are some pictures of progress I guess. I've been dosing h202 and algae fix like I mentioned for about 5 days now.

The center where the main water stream is from the filter cleared but that is about it after the blackout and dosing for 5 days in insane amounts.

Co2 setup and whole tank to get an idea of light
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Last edited by Darkblade48; 05-15-2020 at 06:08 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-14-2020, 11:16 PM
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Hmmmm ...would you say your "algae" looks like these pictures: I'm also seeing some bad goings-on below your substrate, through the glass.

In any case, check this page for solutions, but focus on the BGA (cyanobacteria) possibility: James' Planted Tank - Algae Guide.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-14-2020, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Oh as far as nutrients the entire substrate is ada aquasoil. Idk if that is what is causing my problems.
Is is purely aquasoil or did you use sand or something as a bottom layer? By the looks of your pictures you have way too little plants (biomass) and especially fast-growing such as stem plants and it seems your adding too much products too (including CO2). It's a fine balance to start an Iwagumi-styled tank and to be quite blunt it seems you're a bit inexperienced. Not to worry, I've been there myself and can empathize with the frustration of algae bloom. Adding Excel to counter algae can be an effective short-term solution but it's not the lack of such product that is the root cause here.

The goto recipe if I were in your shoes would be a few bundles of stem plants (you can remove them in a phased approach as a month or two have passed), make sure you have invertibrates grazing on algae (snails, shrimps), dial back CO2 until your drop checker is lime or forest green (give care to said shrimps) and a lean dosing regimen together with light cut back to medium intensity for a start of 4-5 hours and increase slowly, maybe 30 minutes biweekly. After such starting point be patient with any changes and allow 2 weeks before adjusting any of above components, unless you see algae growth accelerating heavily.

Edit: The scape itself is looking good! But I'm confused, have you really had this specific setup up and running for 1 year?? Looks more to be started a few weeks ago. If soil is not matured, it's probably leaching loads of nutrients and daily waterchanges and no ferts are recommended.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-15-2020, 12:29 AM
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Looks like Cyanobacteria to me also.

Also what is light tan color in substrate showing through side glass that @Deanna pointed out?

I’m also seeing large amounts of detritus in the deeper substrate layers in 4th pic.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-15-2020, 12:38 AM
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I have used the nicrew light before and found that buying a dimmer helped mitigate issues.

Here is a link:

Since you have no livestock, you may also consider a treatment:
(even though you can treat this one with livestock - things are just easier without).

Get the tank clean first, preserve all you can in terms of plants, then fix the root issues.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-15-2020, 01:26 AM
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Yeah definitely looks like cyano, comes from too much nutrients in the water column. Kinda surprised peroxide didn't wipe it out at those doses but take a look at ultralife Blue green slime stain remover. I had a small but stubborn outbreak and this stuff melted it in days. Even though it says it's a stain remover, it wipes the stuff out.

After you get rid of it, make sure you remove excess organics from your tank (gunk/detritus). Maybe get a test kit and test for nitrate and phosphate. If you have extreme levels, you could consider adding some nitrate sink plants to help with the problem but generally, good maintainence, not overstocking, and not overfeeding will prevent this from happening.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-15-2020, 02:13 AM Thread Starter
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You guys are the best. Yes it is a year old. There was a sand path through it but the algae was flourishing in the sand so I removed as much as I could and planted over it. I only recently doubled the amount of plants into the tank. The dwarf tears had carpeted the top but a newly added fish went to town and I had to cut up what he uprooted and replant. Took out that fish and started over there. This is my first tank it's been a hell of a learning curve. Saw a video of aquascaping on insta and legit though plants, water, fish, how hard could it be. Now I laugh so I don't cry. Despite all of this I really love this and want to save it. I think I'll add much more plants till this all carpets and throw in algae killers once I am done trying some of the chemicals recommended here. This has restored my hope though so I'm going to get to work and thank you all so much!
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-15-2020, 02:23 AM
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You also need to consider hard anaerobic activity in deeper substrate layers as cause.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-15-2020, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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From the looks of it a lot of you are right and it seems to be cynobacteria and not what I thought. This would explain why my attacking it hasn't been working. I am attacking the wrong thing so I am going to address it as that for the time. DaveKS, as I am new I am not sure what you mean by hard anaerobic activity, could you explain?
post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-15-2020, 06:16 PM
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Hi [email protected]

Yes, there can be little doubt that this is Cyanobacteria. As you have already removed the fish, I think your best bet would be to strip the aquarium down completely and start again. I don't say that flippantly. I realize it's not what you would want to be hearing at this stage. But, it is almost impossible to remove/kill off all traces of Cyanobacteria once it has got into a tank. I'm speaking from bitter experience. I'm not on this forum as often as I'd like but I'm sure there are plenty of people here who will guide you every inch of the way out of this. Please don't be disheartened.


"When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts advanced to the stage of science." ― Lord Kelvin
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-15-2020, 06:43 PM
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cycle your tank. your h2o2 dosing may be oxidizing your beneficial bacteria. if you added more aquasoil to cover your sand path, that's adding more nh3.
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