Struggling with hair algae, new to LEDs - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-04-2020, 04:43 AM Thread Starter
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Struggling with hair algae, new to LEDs

I'm starting to get a little frustrated with algae issues in a month old tank. I got back into the hobby after a break and I think LED lights are doing me in. I've always used fluorescent. I started with the "default" settings on the Fluval Fresh and Plant 3.0, overdosed EI when I failed at the API nitrate kit (didn't shake bottle 2 enough), and got the worst algae farm I've ever had in 30 years in the hobby. I threw out the worst of the plants 2 weeks ago, changed water to fix the EI ferts, lowered lighting, and it's better but I still can't quite get the tank free of algae. I'm stumped.

I'm getting tufts of brownish hair algae here and there around the tank. It reminds me of cotton candy. When it gets to 1-2 cm and I can get it with tweezers I pick it off things, but it breaks up and new bits grow where it lands. It's growing all different places. It's established and tightly attached on the spider wood, growing on healthy R. rotundifolia right in the water flow under the light, on the substrate, in the shade inside the Nymphaea, and killing the Christmas moss I tied to the wood.

I'm also having small patches of BGA on the substrate and on the wood right in the filter outflow. I've never had BGA in a new tank with measurable nitrates. It's really weird. I also had tons of GSA and green fuzz on new plant growth but that seems to have calmed down. Some diatoms on the filter but the otos have that handled.

  • 10 gallon tank, moderately planted though I just added a bunch more plants
  • 22W Fluval Fresh & Plant 3.0. 1H ramp-up. 3H 66%. 2 H "siesta" with 15% white and 7% red to see the fish. 3H at 60%. 1H sunset. 10% dusk warm white/cool white/red for a few hours to see the fish. 8H fully dark. The bright photoperiod is essentially 8H.
  • CO2 at about 20 ppm. The evil little 45g Fluval is hard to adjust but levels are steady. Waiting on a Red Sea reg I found on eBay to arrive.
  • 0 ammonia/0 nitrite/~15 ppm nitrate (API kit is hard to read), 8dKH, 9dGH
  • EI dosing 2x a week, 50% water changes
  • Fluval U2 filter
  • Dosing Flourish Excel 1 ml 3x a week out of desperation
  • Added some Chemi-pure Green to the filter in case organics from the wood are triggering the BGA
  • Cleanup crew is 3 Amanos, 2 otos, and a nerite none of whom will touch the stuff.
  • Plants are growing decently

I'm thinking maybe this is still a lighting problem? I have some R. macrandra mini and am trying to establish monte carlo I bought this weekend so I want to run bright. I'm wondering if I'm getting too fancy with the programmable light or running too long a light cycle? I'm used to running 8-10 hours of T5 with no algae issues so clearly LEDs are different. Lighting seems a bit on the low side now but I've read the Fluval 3.0 has high PUR. There is also a fair amount of ambient light from the kitchen.

Can someone suggest a strategy to get rid of this darned fluffy brown hair algae for good but run bright enough to keep the R. macrandra happy?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-04-2020, 01:52 PM
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So I tried getting fancy with my lights and had all sorts of algae issues. I tried to ramp up to 30 - 40- 60... etc... I just had a ton of struggle and couldn't dial it in. Finally I just said forget it and now run one of my fixtures at 100% for about 6.5 hours and run my other fixture at 100% for about 3 hours and dumping a ton of co2 in the tank. I can't tell you exactly what my co2 levels are but I'm running about 8 bubbles per second in my 29 gallon tank. I love the idea of a cool ramp up but in the end, I just couldn't get it dialed in the way I wanted it so I just removed that variable from my tank.

Also, I do dose excel in my 10 gallon pea puffer tank, daily. You can do 1-2 ML in that 10 gallon tank and be just fine. I wouldn't go over that, though.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-05-2020, 03:14 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks. I can try a normal 8h light cycle with some dim lighting in the evening.

I had bad experiences with fish getting sick in Excel tanks when it first came out but I was doing the label directions with a big water change dose. Maybe daily 1-2 mL will be easier. I feel like it's a crutch but I don't want to lose all the monte carlo I just painstakingly planted.

Overall things are getting better so maybe I'm just too impatient.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-12-2020, 02:37 PM
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One thing that really helped me was to eliminate nitrogen and phosphate from the EI dosing. I have a 75g with about 17 fish, so between the fish and food, my tank was getting plenty of nitrogen and phosphates. I now only dose potasium and micros which ensure that nitrogen and/or phosphate is limited, and this helped greatly. Your tank doesn't seem as heavily stocked as mine, so maybe just cut back on the N and P until you begin to notice deficiencies in the plants. At that point, adjust up a small amount until you get to the sweet spot.

75g...medium tech...?
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-12-2020, 10:58 PM
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Try dropping down to a 6hour photo period, also do you have fish or anything?


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Try dropping down to a 6hour photo period, also do you have fish or anything?


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Nvm I saw you did I was going to suggest turning off the heater during that too.


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Last edited by Darkblade48; 08-13-2020 at 01:11 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-13-2020, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Crazylegs78 View Post
One thing that really helped me was to eliminate nitrogen and phosphate from the EI dosing. I have a 75g with about 17 fish, so between the fish and food, my tank was getting plenty of nitrogen and phosphates. I now only dose potasium and micros which ensure that nitrogen and/or phosphate is limited, and this helped greatly. Your tank doesn't seem as heavily stocked as mine, so maybe just cut back on the N and P until you begin to notice deficiencies in the plants. At that point, adjust up a small amount until you get to the sweet spot.
Thanks! My fish load was not that big but a few days ago I looked over my local water report and learned that they add 1 ppm orthophosphate to prevent copper pipe corrosion. I'm also not convinced what I have is hair algae. It may be thread diatoms or rhizo but I think phosphate can trigger those too.

I actually stopped dosing entirely this week and the growth has slowed down. I have never had KNO3 trigger algae but you're making me think I need to recalculate the NPK dosing to take the tap water phosphate into account.

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Nvm I saw you did I was going to suggest turning off the heater during that too.


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Thanks. No heater at all right now. The tank is staying at 77-79.

Lighting is shorter, lower, and a 2h siesta. I also got rid of some excess ambient light in the evening. The Rotala macrantha is a little leggy now but algae free so that's a win.

You did remind me that now that I've rehomed the betta I can probably take the glass canopy off to get some evaporative cooling. I don't think galaxy rasboras or neons are big jumpers.


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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-14-2020, 03:17 AM
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Wait at least a week with the lower lighting schedule. You'll probably see a difference... hopefully.

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Wait at least a week with the lower lighting schedule. You'll probably see a difference... hopefully.

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I also didn't realize this was a later post, but clip and replant the leggy plants in question is normally what I do.

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 08-16-2020 at 08:04 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 02:07 AM Thread Starter
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I also didn't realize this was a later post, but clip and replant the leggy plants in question is normally what I do.

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Yep. It will be nice to run enough light that they're not leggy though.


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