Am I overstocked? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 01:31 AM Thread Starter
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Am I overstocked?

So long story short, I've been dealing with BBA/GBA for quite a while and can't seem to figure out how to stop it.

Before I get too far into it, yes I have CO2 running (it's DIY so there is a slight variation in daily CO2 levels, but the drop checker is always close to lime green), and have about a 1 ph drop when the CO2 is running.

I recently moved about a month ago and was hoping a newish setup would change things for me, but that unfortunately hasn't been the case. I've been fighting BBA/GBA for what seems like months to no avail. About a month before the move, I swapped out 50% of my substrate, changing from Eco-Complete to Tropica. A week before the move, I started cycling a bucket of ADA Amazonia (couldn't find anymore Tropica) and then replaced the other 50% during the move. During the move I also replaced probably 50% of the unhealthy plants, and kept a number of the plants that were less affected by the BBA. A month into this new setup, and BBA is starting to take over again...

Tank Parameters:
20G long w/ Kessil a160 6" above the water @65% power 6 hours a day. No direct sunlight.
pH - 7.5 w/o CO2, 6.6 w/CO2
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 30
kH/gH - 4/7
Dose Thrive+ 1 pump every day (suggested is 2 pumps 3x a week for 20 gals)
50% Water Change 1x week with tap water treated with prime.
Plants: Rotala Rotundifolia, Ludwigia Arcuata, Cypt Wenditii Red & Green, Narrow Leaf Java Fern, Anubias Nana Petite, Buce (green wavy, and ghost), micro sword.

Prior to the move I had tried pretty much everything with regards to fighting the algae with no avail including reducing lighting intensity/length/distance from surface. Current situation is that the microsword is failing to carpet as it's just getting covered in BBA and BBA is starting to cover all the Anubias/Buce. The Rotala seems to be doing slightly better as there isn't much Algae on there, but the Ludwigia is still having issues.

I've been completely stumped up to this point, until I came across a thread the other day about stocking. Right now I've got 9 neon tetras, 7 coryadoras, 1 otocinclus (used to have more...), 3 amano shrimp, and 2 nerite snails. Is this too much for a 20g? I've got a Cascade 700 Canister filter running max flow(265 gph)

Even with this filtration, is it possible that I am overstocked and that is what is causing my constant battle with BBA/GBA? If not, does anyone else have any suggestions?

Here was the tank day 1 after the move, stems have grown in a bit but other than that it looks pretty much the same just with more algae....

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 02:27 AM
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Doesnt appear overstocked to me unless the corydoras are brochis or barbatos species which get much larger than other varieties.


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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 02:55 AM
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You don't mention one of the most important variables, light. You also have a tank with very little plant mass so all the co2 in the world isn't going to change much. Co2 isn't an algaecide.


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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Asteroid View Post
You don't mention one of the most important variables, light. You also have a tank with very little plant mass so all the co2 in the world isn't going to change much. Co2 isn't an algaecide.
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Originally Posted by stlhokie View Post

Tank Parameters:
20G long w/ Kessil a160 6" above the water @65% power 6 hours a day. No direct sunlight.
pH - 7.5 w/o CO2, 6.6 w/CO2
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 30
kH/gH - 4/7
Dose Thrive+ 1 pump every day (suggested is 2 pumps 3x a week for 20 gals)
50% Water Change 1x week with tap water treated with prime.
Plants: Rotala Rotundifolia, Ludwigia Arcuata, Cypt Wenditii Red & Green, Narrow Leaf Java Fern, Anubias Nana Petite, Buce (green wavy, and ghost), micro sword.
Low plant mass is also something I've considered, but I had a lot more plant mass prior to the move and I was still having issues...
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 05:13 PM
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Low plant mass is also something I've considered, but I had a lot more plant mass prior to the move and I was still having issues...
Sorry somehow I missed the light info. Algae issues are almost always a result of too much organic waste for the giving setup. So either the light has to be reduced or uptake has to be increased. Uptake by plants isn't going to happen much in your tank so you have to manage light better, increase water changes and even using carbon/purigen to remove organic waste before it breaks down.

Do you know about how much PAR you have with the light at 65%, did you recently reduce to 65% and 6 hrs or was it more intense or was it on a longer cycle before that? BBA and most alga start when a threshold is reached and the spores (present in all tanks) become active.

You also did some stuff with replacing the substrate. So if you weren't doing daily water changes with the Aquasoil, reducing light, etc. that would play a role too as ammonia would have been released. As far as stocking, less is always better from an organic load standpoint, but there shouldn't be any reason you can't house those fish if the other things suggested are done.


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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 06:36 PM
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How often and how much water do you change?
I also think that you have too few plant. Since you have replaced all of your soil, there are some extra nutrients in water for shore. You can try adding some fast growing steam plants to suck up all the extra nutrients, or some floating plants until you get things under control. And try doing 50-60% water change every other day.....
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-06-2020, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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Sorry somehow I missed the light info. Algae issues are almost always a result of too much organic waste for the giving setup. So either the light has to be reduced or uptake has to be increased. Uptake by plants isn't going to happen much in your tank so you have to manage light better, increase water changes and even using carbon/purigen to remove organic waste before it breaks down.

Do you know about how much PAR you have with the light at 65%, did you recently reduce to 65% and 6 hrs or was it more intense or was it on a longer cycle before that? BBA and most alga start when a threshold is reached and the spores (present in all tanks) become active.

You also did some stuff with replacing the substrate. So if you weren't doing daily water changes with the Aquasoil, reducing light, etc. that would play a role too as ammonia would have been released. As far as stocking, less is always better from an organic load standpoint, but there shouldn't be any reason you can't house those fish if the other things suggested are done.
I've been rolling the 6 hour light setup for quite some time, well before I moved the tank, and was still having problems. Unfortunately Kessil doesn't publish PAR ratings and I don't have a PAR meter, so I don't really know what kind of values that I'm working with. (Been trying to find some sort of info online but to no avail) Probably close to 6 months ago the BBA first appeared, and I think at that point is when I dropped the lighting period to 6 hours. The 6 hour period hasn't been a recent thing.

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How often and how much water do you change?
I also think that you have too few plant. Since you have replaced all of your soil, there are some extra nutrients in water for shore. You can try adding some fast growing steam plants to suck up all the extra nutrients, or some floating plants until you get things under control. And try doing 50-60% water change every other day.....
For the first week I was doing about a 30-40% water change daily because of the substrate replacement, and then the second week it was the same volume but every other day. I did 2 water changes this week but the algae has definitely come on stronger the last week or so, so I should probably ramp the water changes back up again. It just gets annoying having to do daily water changes!

I've also added a couple more plants, but they're slower growers so I'm guessing it in't going to help too much.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-06-2020, 12:58 AM
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...Probably close to 6 months ago the BBA first appeared, and I think at that point is when I dropped the lighting period to 6 hours. The 6 hour period hasn't been a recent thing.
That's probably how it started. When you see BBA it's already too late to stop it. Unfortunately most who start up tanks go with too long a light period and then react when they see BBA. Much better to start with 4-5 hrs and then gradually build up.

Best you can do is remove what you can, drop the light period to around 4 hrs and I personally would use Purigen or Carbon in the filter to help remover organics. Do consistent water changes maybe twice a week until you turn the corner.


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-08-2020, 08:08 PM
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BBA is extremely common if not completely unavoidable with fluctuating co2. I think the only way you will actually get this under control is by giving up the diy co2. Better to go with none, or excel. I get it every single time my co2 fluctuates, which is why I stopped doing co2. And it has completely gone away.


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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-09-2020, 02:57 AM Thread Starter
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BBA is extremely common if not completely unavoidable with fluctuating co2. I think the only way you will actually get this under control is by giving up the diy co2. Better to go with none, or excel. I get it every single time my co2 fluctuates, which is why I stopped doing co2. And it has completely gone away.


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Interesting, I've been leaning towards going into the realm of compressed CO2.

At this point I've dropped the lighting to 4 hours a day, so we'll see how that goes first, but then I may try to lock in the CO2 levels after that.
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