New Setup, New Algae - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-29-2020, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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New Setup, New Algae

My wife and I have maintained a planted freshwater tank for a couple of years now. Nothing extravagant but it survived with little to no algae attacks. After doing a bit of researching and watching youtube vlogs about tank design and maintenance we decided to upgrade our aquarium to a larger size, try out a new substrate, use more driftwood and introduce a new filter, water heater, and light, keeping the original live plants. The result is a tank that has been running for roughly 3/4 months, started out very well but in the last month or so has seen a rise in BBA. We're hoping to correct this issue and in general, get our tank performing as well as it can be.

We've invested a fair amount already in the redesign so our budget for solutions isn't huge but we want to do what's best for our fish and their environment.

Here's the details of our setup:
- Tank size: 20 Gallon Tall
- Heater: Fluval 300w heater, set to 79F
- Light: 30" Beamworks DA 6500K, no dimmer, had it running for four hours a day. Currently, no light to starve algae for the last few days, to no avail.
- Filter: Aquaclear 50, Original media, has been lightly rinsed during cleanings but not replaced.
- Fish: 10 Fish: Two Catfish Coreys, one Black Kuhlii Loach, one Bristlenose Pleco, four Black Long Skirt Tetras, one Betta, One Clown Placo
- Plants: Nana Petite (Close to the surface mounted on driftwood, seeing the biggest hit of BBA), Ozelot (planted on the bottom also seeing BBA), Amazon Sword (has a bit of green slime-like algae).
- No CO2
- Test Strip Reading: Nitrate 40, Nitrite .5, Hardness 200, Chlorine .5, Alkalinity 80, PH 7.2 (We know hardness is high and have tried water softeners, but no improvement)
- Dosing: Algae fix using bottle recommended dosing.
- Substrate: Activ-flora planted aquarium substrate, has been in the setup for 3/4 months.
- Cleaning regimen: Once a week, rinse sponge filter & top-up water. Every 3/4 weeks a 25% water change is made while cleaning.
- Circulation: No heavy current in the tank due to the Betta, but water is kept moving fairly well from the filter.
- Water source: City water, dose with Seachem Prime as recommended to reduce chlorine.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-06-2020, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Does anyone have any advice on this??? We will need to start supplying light again to the tank soon and there has not been any substantial algae die off.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-06-2020, 08:23 PM
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Nitrite .5, Hardness 200, Chlorine .5, Alkalinity 80, PH 7.2...?

You should have 0 nitrite. And chlorine .5? Where is that coming from? You don't want any chlorine at all, either. If that's a correct result, that's not a livable environment.

Regarding the BBA, I dont think Algae Fix is very effective against it, nor do I think a blackout is going to work either. You can try Excel, spot treating or doing the largest recommended safe dose to your water. But first you need to fix the nitrites and chlorine situation, stat
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-07-2020, 04:19 PM
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Plus, with nitrates at 40 you really should be doing 25% water changes weekly, not monthly.

The bristlenose pleco will outgrow that tank. I wouldn't have one in anything less than 40 gallons.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-07-2020, 11:07 PM
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you need a dimmer/timer. check this out. i have a 24" da fspec on my 20h and would characterize it as med-high. have it running at 85% for 7hrs. your 30" model probably has higher par output. anubias are lowlight plants, swords don't need high light. 3-5 plants are too few. 3-4 months is still young, biologically speaking.

i've used the initial dose excel combined with a 3 day blackout to eliminate bba. it turns pink, then white. but returns if same tank conditions exist.

i highly suggest you get the dimmer/timer. start at 75% for 6 hours.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-08-2020, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies!
For water testing, I have been using EasyStrips from Tetra. I re-tested again last night and got the same levels for Nitrites & Chlorine.
I ordered a new pack of sponge filters since our current one has been in the setup for some time now, I'm hoping that will cut down nitrites a bit. I hear of some people rarely ever-changing their sponge filter, and others change it religiously every couple weeks, I guess this is just something that's unique to the setup?

For the chlorine, I suppose we'll have to individually test the water before it is added to the tank. I always just figured if you're doing the correct dosage per water ratio, you're in the clear. Maybe our water is more chlorinated then others? Also, I will try doing the %25 water changes weekly as Mark suggested.

You mentioned Excel, I haven't heard of that product yet but the results I'm seeing online seem awesome.
I tried to look up "Spot Treating" though and got a few different methods. Some isolating the plants in a bin containing a double dose of Excel. Others used some sort of syringe to deliver the liquid around the affected plant. Which are you referring too?

Moke, that is an awesome find! I wasn't aware beam works made a dimmer, and for so cheap! I was worried our light output was a little high but damn, there is some insanely scientific research that I was having a hard time following haha.

The bristlenose is in a bit of a grey area, while technically okay in a 20 gallon I know some can get a bit too big for that environment. Ours seems to have reached full growth just shy of 4 inches so for now we're okay, but don't worry, if any bigger we'll need to start thinking of a new enclosure no delusions here haha.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-08-2020, 01:47 PM
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BBA and for that matter most algae is the result of too much organics being left in the system The more light you have the worse it gets. Are you dosing ferts? If you have nitrates of 40 naturally that is too high and a good indicator of the tank being too "dirty" Nitrates from dosing is a completely different story. The best way to cut it off is to decrease the organic load and increase uptake. So more water changes, more plants and at the same time less feeding (if possible). Now there's a chance you can do all the above leave the lights alone and you'll be fine. Everything is a sorta balancing act into you find the a sweet range where things work. If you able to reduce lighting without it negatively affecting plants then that will only help.

Sounds like you built up enough organics by not removing enough water until a threshold was reached and BBA developed. BBA spores are everywhere, its when conditions turn in there favor that they become algae. Side note, plecos are very dirty fish. They create a ton of waste. Doing small monthly water changes is not going to cut it, unless you have a ton of fast growing plants and without co2 I doubt it.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-08-2020, 08:13 PM
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regarding using excel to kill bba, i used to do a 3 day black out and use 5ml per 10 gallons daily. keep an eye out for your loach. beware excel will severely damage some plants (anacharis, vals, and hemianthus glomeratus/baby tears). you could spot treat, using a syringe or eye dropper (look in baby section at drug store), but in severe cases bba will be on other plants, hardscape, filter outputs, etc that whole tank approach is warranted. don't use excel as a carbon source despite the marketing claims. it's an aquatic herbicide. i add it to my fert solutions to prevent mold.

get the beamswork rise, dim, timer. order it, do your 3 day blackout, start at 75% for 6 hours. do weekly 50% water changes. get several bunches of cheap stem plants. seriously consider dosing ferts.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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Asteroid,
Currently, we are not using any ferts so unfortunately, I guess that means we have a fairly dirty tank haha.
I did go ahead and order the dimmer unit for our light though, so soon ill be able to start reducing that based on Moke's recommended parameters. What you mentioned about it reaching a tipping point makes complete sense and its good to know that we may need to be a bit more thorough because of the pleco. I think my problem is that I never connected essentially fixing algae with water changes, I always figured if the tank was looking free of dirt and the fish are doing fine then that cant be the issue. Which reminds me I'll need to get some more test strips, do you have any particular recommendation for those, or are testing strips all pretty much the same? Also, in your opinion what would be considered too many water changes? I would assume you wouldn't want to do more than two 25% changes a month to keep in the good bacteria right?

Moke
Thank you very much for the regimen! These kinda precise solutions are exactly what I was hoping for. When dosing with Excel, would there be any benefit to spot treat one day and dosing the whole tank the other? I guess its kinda lucky that all of our anacharis previously died off during the tank revamp, hopefully, the other plants will do okay. With the added stress though maybe we should start using some sort of ferts, are they any in particular that have worked well for you? Also, I'm guessing to take one thing at a time and get rid of the BBA with excel before starting a fert routine?

Sorry Moke, Didn't see your note on the 50% water changes. It's really safe to do that? It seems like so much haha, what about all these beneficial bacteria that I hear people are concerned about getting rid of?

Last edited by Darkblade48; Today at 09:54 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opalescent_Depths View Post
Sorry Moke, Didn't see your note on the 50% water changes. It's really safe to do that? It seems like so much haha, what about all these beneficial bacteria that I hear people are concerned about getting rid of?
Beneficial bacteria (nitrifying) dont live in your water column, they live in your filter/sponge/biomedia, on your substrate, decorations, etc.

Which is why you dont want to replace your filter sponge very often. Rinse with tank water only if youre cleaning (dont get tap water/chlorine anywhere near your filter or anything inside your filter).
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old Today, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opalescent_Depths View Post
Moke
Thank you very much for the regimen! These kinda precise solutions are exactly what I was hoping for. When dosing with Excel, would there be any benefit to spot treat one day and dosing the whole tank the other? I guess its kinda lucky that all of our anacharis previously died off during the tank revamp, hopefully, the other plants will do okay. With the added stress though maybe we should start using some sort of ferts, are they any in particular that have worked well for you? Also, I'm guessing to take one thing at a time and get rid of the BBA with excel before starting a fert routine?
just do whole tank tx. after the 3rd day do as large a water change that you can manage. clean you filter like fermentedfunk suggested. hope you were able to get a bunch of cheap stems, this is really the key. start lights at 75% for 6 hours. slowly up output and duration as your tank stabilizes (if you want). as to ferts, you can try one of those all-in-one products. i'm not sure now if you need ferts. unless you have a bunch of plants, your existing plants can probably get by from fish waste. stop dosing the algaefix. good luck.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old Today, 02:51 PM
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When you're rinsing the sponge filter, are you rinsing with tap water or tank water? If you're rinsing with tap water you're just adding chlorine to your beneficial bacteria colony and killing off all the beneficial bacteria. I would say that you are very much overcleaning your filter. Many people on here hardly, if at all, ever clean their filters because of the beneficial bacteria buildup. If you are rinsing the filter, only use tank water from the water change to remove sludge.


I would suggest more water changes and less filter cleaning, water changes help significantly more. Also, you may want to try lowering your temperature to around 75 degrees. Higher temps tend to encourage algae growth more than lower ones.

The last thing would be recommending you to get a different test kit that isn't strip-based. I would recommend the API Master test kit, as th strip readings can often be inconsistent or inaccurate. Better off with a drop based kit.
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algae, black beard algae, fish, new setup, planted

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