Brown Ingrained Algae Problem - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-24-2020, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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Brown Ingrained Algae Problem

Hi there, hoping some one can offer help and advice.

For a few months now, most of my plant leaves have been suffering from a spread of brown algae which cannot be wiped off. This seems to develop mostly on the leaf edges.

I have a fully stocked 160ltr freshwater tank which has weekly 25% water changes. Double filtered, two filters running at 600lph.

Lighting 6 to 8 hours - fluorescent tubes two 45 watt Juwel Nature T5.

Plant products used:
Easy-Life easy carbo liquid co2 8ml daily
JBL Ferropol liquid ferts 40ml weekly
Dennerle root tabs for Amazon swords

Water treatments used:
Seachem Prime at water changes
Tetra Nitrate Minus - due to 40ppm tap water, keeps nitrates at 20ppm

Any thoughts or advice appreciated.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-24-2020, 09:50 PM
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Both Ferropol solutions are being dosed?

What are PH, GH, KH and phosphate readings?

Just by looks Iím going to say magnesium and/or phosphate deficiency.

To reply to someone use the quote button or tag themó> @Surfer62 and theyíll receive notification of of your reply/question.

Anyway doesnít look like any of those JBL liquid ferts contain any Mg or phosphate. Do you have a phosphate and GH test kits?

Ferropol 10ml/40L once a week so 40ml is right.
Ferropol 24 is the daily fert, 1 drop per 50L so dose 3-4drops everyday.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 06-07-2020 at 01:40 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-06-2020, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
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Question Brown Ingrained Algae Problem

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Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
To reply to someone use the quote button or tag themó> @Surfer62 and theyíll receive notification of of your reply/question.

Anyway doesnít look like any of those JBL liquid ferts contain any Mg or phosphate. Do you have a phosphate and GH test kits?

Ferropol 10ml/40L once a week so 40ml is right.
Ferropol 24 is the daily fert, 1 drop per 50L so dose 3-4drops everyday.
Hi again

Upped my weekly water change volume to 37% (60 ltrs) on the last 2 rounds.
Bought an API liquid GH & KH test kit. Both readings were at the top end of the API scale - GH 20į and KH 21į both falling within 200-400ppm on the scale.
Not entirely surprised as PH is a consistent 8.2.
API's guide cites this as unsuited to live plants (and anything other than brackish water fish!?)

My understanding is then that my tank water has built a high level of mineral content. Maybe not good for the plant life? But has a high buffering capacity, helping avoid large swings in PH levels. Good for the fish I believe.

What plants if any would stand the best chance in these conditions?

Yet to get a phosphate test kit.

I see I've been dosing my JBL (Pro Flora) Ferropol incorrectly. Have been putting in a full 40ml shot at water change. And none for the rest of the week. Small print says 10ml per 40l of water CHANGED. Then a weekly addition of 10ml per 80l. So possibly too much ferts in one hit??

You'd say the Ferropol 24 is essential by way of correcting any magnesium or phosphate deficiency?

My typical daily lighting period is probably longer than I stated before - maybe 10-12 hours. Any need to change this?
Are these JBL T5 Nature tubes the best sort of lighting - they're 3300 Lumen / 4100 Kelvin. I swapped these in for the original tubes, which were a brighter/whiter light. Should I try swapping one of these back in?

Any further advice appreciated - thanks again!
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-07-2020, 08:50 PM Thread Starter
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Hi @DaveKS
Not sure if you've seen the additional info posted? Quoted your last reply in the hope you might see it..
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-10-2020, 07:27 AM
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Sorry for delay getting back. Life happens, didnít have time set down and write a clear answer.

You might have been overdosing, but yes with their dosing philosophy your adding to much at water change and then none midweek. This is what I call feast or famine dosing you dose a little bit to much at 1st of week, algae comes forward because it is in excess, then about day 5 some of the micro nutrients run out, when that happens plant growth stalls and again algae has the advantage, itís a rollercoaster ride with of nutrients for your plants. In a Euro dosing scheme you want a flatter level of nutrients through the week, never in excess, never in complete depletion.

The JBL product line and dosing instructions are very confusing to me. Sounds like you should dose for change water and then dose again midweek. The 24drops are for every day dosing of quickly depleted micro elements that you dose in between the other fert. They will not add Mg or P. Did you get a phosphate test? Salifert is best one IMHO.

With as hard as your water is not sure you have a Mg problem. See if your city has a water report that might give a clue as to Mg/Ca ratios that all that hardness is made of. If you want dose Mg just buy some pure Epsom salt, no fragrances, itís magnesium sulfate. All it adds is proper ratios of Mg and sulfur to water.

Now getting into ratios Iíll introduce you to mulder chart. For proper plant development all these elements are needed, in proper ratios. I forget how many decades this chart has been around.



None of JBL fert have any nitrate, phosphate, Ca or Mg listed on this chart, they depend on that coming from your change water (Ca/Mg) or from fish feeding (N/P), sometimes your city water might have some nitrate and/or phosphate. You can easily test your tap water for those if you got the tests, Ca/Mg ratios is a little harder. Again your city water report might tell you everything you need to know. Set a glass beer mug full of tap out in open air for 24hr to absorb/expel gases then measure PH, GH, KH, Nitrate and Phosphate. That is true reading of water you have to work with. Any deviation beyond that reading is happening because environmental factors in tank (over feeding, wood or rocks dissolving).

Getting back to Mulder chart above. Go to Calcium at top, then follow the green pointers away from it. What that is telling you is that high levels of Ca in water (which might be a very real factor for your tank) actually interfere with the uptake/absorption of the other elements that it points to. You increase Mg to counteract that, now follow dashed black line between Mg and Phosphate, thatís telling you that Mg and P have a codependent relationship, bring Mg up you may need increase P levels with it for proper ratios.

Note that the Mg and phosphate deficiency I mentioned earlier are both on the end of green pointer coming away from Ca, going by appearance only with no real phosphate test reading to back it up Iíll go with your Ca to Mg and/or P ratios are out of wack.
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Last edited by DaveKS; 06-10-2020 at 08:05 AM. Reason: Typo
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-21-2020, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Brown Ingrained Algae Problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
Sorry for delay getting back. Life happens, didnít have time set down and write a clear answer.

You might have been overdosing, but yes with their dosing philosophy your adding to much at water change and then none midweek. This is what I call feast or famine dosing you dose a little bit to much at 1st of week, algae comes forward because it is in excess, then about day 5 some of the micro nutrients run out, when that happens plant growth stalls and again algae has the advantage, itís a rollercoaster ride with of nutrients for your plants. In a Euro dosing scheme you want a flatter level of nutrients through the week, never in excess, never in complete depletion.

The JBL product line and dosing instructions are very confusing to me. Sounds like you should dose for change water and then dose again midweek. The 24drops are for every day dosing of quickly depleted micro elements that you dose in between the other fert. They will not add Mg or P. Did you get a phosphate test? Salifert is best one IMHO.

With as hard as your water is not sure you have a Mg problem. See if your city has a water report that might give a clue as to Mg/Ca ratios that all that hardness is made of. If you want dose Mg just buy some pure Epsom salt, no fragrances, itís magnesium sulfate. All it adds is proper ratios of Mg and sulfur to water.

Now getting into ratios Iíll introduce you to mulder chart. For proper plant development all these elements are needed, in proper ratios. I forget how many decades this chart has been around.



None of JBL fert have any nitrate, phosphate, Ca or Mg listed on this chart, they depend on that coming from your change water (Ca/Mg) or from fish feeding (N/P), sometimes your city water might have some nitrate and/or phosphate. You can easily test your tap water for those if you got the tests, Ca/Mg ratios is a little harder. Again your city water report might tell you everything you need to know. Set a glass beer mug full of tap out in open air for 24hr to absorb/expel gases then measure PH, GH, KH, Nitrate and Phosphate. That is true reading of water you have to work with. Any deviation beyond that reading is happening because environmental factors in tank (over feeding, wood or rocks dissolving).

Getting back to Mulder chart above. Go to Calcium at top, then follow the green pointers away from it. What that is telling you is that high levels of Ca in water (which might be a very real factor for your tank) actually interfere with the uptake/absorption of the other elements that it points to. You increase Mg to counteract that, now follow dashed black line between Mg and Phosphate, thatís telling you that Mg and P have a codependent relationship, bring Mg up you may need increase P levels with it for proper ratios.

Note that the Mg and phosphate deficiency I mentioned earlier are both on the end of green pointer coming away from Ca, going by appearance only with no real phosphate test reading to back it up Iíll go with your Ca to Mg and/or P ratios are out of wack.

First off an apology to @DaveKS - I'm sorry for my impatience last time. I need to remember that we're all enthusiasts here, helping each other out of a love for our hobby, when our busy lives allow.
Secondly a thank you again to @DaveKS for the detailed, informative and highly educational response, in the last post - very much appreciated.

Although I have 5 years under my belt in fishkeeping, I'm a relative novice in the science behind successful plant keeping. I've since bought an API Phosphate test and a Salifert Nitrate test. The full range of readings, following Dave's guidance were as follows:

Water Testing Results
Test Tap Tank

GH 22į 22į
KH 14į 14į
PH 8.0 8.2
Nitrate 50 ppm 50 ppm
Phosphate 2 ppm 5 ppm

I also researched the local water board water quality report for last year. From this report, I pulled out some of the key parameters as follows:

Calcium* mg/l 126
Magnesium mg/l 3.86
Boron mg/l <0.09
Copper mg/l 0.026
Iron mg/l <7
Manganese Ķg/l <1
Sulphate mg/l 88.2
Sodium mg/l 12.9

*Total hardness as Calcium - 132.1 mg/l

Nitrate mg/l 35.1
Phosphorus mg/l 0.866
Potassium mg/l 2.72

Attempting to follow what Dave has tried to teach me, my thoughts/observations are:

> Calcium content of the water supply does indeed appear to be high.
> The magnesium content of the water supply seems minimal in comparison. This appears to corroborate the diagnosis of the plants be deficient in this nutrient. BUT..
> Of those tap water elements tested only phosphate(phosphorus) is being affected by the tank environment, building up substantially it appears. This is confusing me, as if phosphorus and magnesium are co-dependant, wouldn't this mean that there are correspondingly high levels of magnesium in the tank?

Other questions/doubts in my mind:

> Nitrate (Nitrogen) levels in the tap water are high. I use Tetra Nitrate Minus to manage levels in the tank, for the fishes benefit. But I notice that this is said to reduce NO3. Could this be limiting the availability of this nutrient to the plants, causing a nitrogen deficiency? Or does the tank water reading of 50 ppm disprove this?
> I see from the Mulder chart that Calcium can also suppress Potassium. I don't currently add this nutrient. On line images of leaves with a Potassium deficiency look similar to the issue I'm dealing with.
>I see that the JBL Pro Flora micronutrients complex is stable only at PH 4-5. Where I have 8.0-8.2, does this mean that it is breaking up and losing potency?

I have since swapped to Seachem Flourish, which doesn't appear to have this issue. It has all of the elements that the JBL product has, plus magnesium and other elements.

Should I now look for a fert that doses all of the 3 macronutrients NPK - Any recommendations? (I have shrimp, khuli & catfish in my stock so whatever I add, it has to be safe for them).

I'll check back here in a week or so. Any additional thoughts and advice would be much appreciated.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-05-2020, 08:56 PM
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On ferropol that 4-5PH statement all their stating is that is the needed PH in fert bottle to keep precipitates from forming in bottle.

ďcomplex stability at pH 4-5." This means that JBL Ferropol has a pH value of 4-5. This is necessary to keep the greenish colour (colour complex) stable and has nothing to do with whether it is effective at this pH value.Ē

If solids do form in bottle just give it a good shake before measuring it out.

As far as water parameters, man your water is really hard and also obviously laden with farm runoff. I myself would see a RO filter as a wise investment. That water is Fíd up beyond repair.

No you do not have a nitrogen deficiency nor a Phosphate one.

But anyway the Mg in fert isnít going to even come close to adding enough to restore a proper Ca:Mg ratio, usually 3:1-2:1 is range you want. K is also way out of ratio also compared to Ca. Pure Epsom salts will get you Mg, Mg Sulfate. Potassium Sulfate for K. But thing is adding Mg is going to make your GH go even higher, adding K and Mg are going to jump your TDS which Iím sure are already off the charts high.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-11-2020, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
On ferropol that 4-5PH statement all their stating is that is the needed PH in fert bottle to keep precipitates from forming in bottle.

ďcomplex stability at pH 4-5." This means that JBL Ferropol has a pH value of 4-5. This is necessary to keep the greenish colour (colour complex) stable and has nothing to do with whether it is effective at this pH value.Ē

If solids do form in bottle just give it a good shake before measuring it out.

As far as water parameters, man your water is really hard and also obviously laden with farm runoff. I myself would see a RO filter as a wise investment. That water is Fíd up beyond repair.

No you do not have a nitrogen deficiency nor a Phosphate one.

But anyway the Mg in fert isnít going to even come close to adding enough to restore a proper Ca:Mg ratio, usually 3:1-2:1 is range you want. K is also way out of ratio also compared to Ca. Pure Epsom salts will get you Mg, Mg Sulfate. Potassium Sulfate for K. But thing is adding Mg is going to make your GH go even higher, adding K and Mg are going to jump your TDS which Iím sure are already off the charts high.
Thanks again Dave - spot on analysis, we live in a fairly rural area and just across the way to farmland.
Completely understand your shout on RO water. But I've always avoided that path. We're on a water meter and I hear that the RO process leads to a lot of wast water. I'd also be concerned about getting the balance right, in switching across from tap water. Pure RO I've read needs mineralisation.

Strange thing is this. I've been keeping an aquarium here for almost 3 years. And these issues with plant health only seem to have arisen in the past maybe 6-7 months. Accepting that the water is F'd up as you say, I'm scratching my head as to what's behind the change.

I'm going to persevere with the Seachem Flourish, and Potassium and see if that helps any.

Failing all else, are there any other types of plant that you think might fare better in water this hard - Marsilea Hirsuta, for example. And might switching from low-tech to hi-tech (C02 infusion) help plants battling these conditions get stronger?
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