determining tank balance with existing algae - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 03:46 PM Thread Starter
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determining tank balance with existing algae

So I am trying to figure out the imbalance in my tank.

As far as I am concerned I have addressed, as best I can, the 3 main parameters and believe they are all instituted properly.

CO2: light green drop checker, maxed just below fish distress
Fertilizers: EI dosing schedule
Lighting: set at mid-high PAR (60-80) after gradually increasing power over 2 months.

After fumbling with all the parameters in the beginning and trying to find a balance, I now have algae. Various kinds. Staghorn, GSA, GDA, brown fuzz/hair, maybe BBA. It is spread sporadically throughout the tank in small amounts.

What I am trying to figure out is, how can I gauge improved plant health, when there is a presence of algae?

So lets pretend, my tank is currently balanced. It's very difficult to visually track continued algae growth/spreading vs stagnant/retreating growth.

So I want to figure out some type of control to gauge if the tank is balanced and if algae is retreating/stagnant or flourishing.

I have some new tops of Limnophila Aromatica that are healthy (no algae yet) etc. I have recently trimmed and replanted those tops.

If my tank is in balance, should the new LA continue growing ALGAE FREE?

I also have some new LA and Blyxa Japonica coming in the next few days. If I plant those, should they grow algae free if my tank is in balance? I am hesitant to include these new plants in the control, because some may say they need time to acclimate to my tank. So if I plant those, and they get algae, is it because my tank is unbalanced or is it because they are stunted and not growing because of acclimation, thus they got algae.

Any thoughts on this?

I have some other questions concerning specific plants (Blyxa being one), algae control through trimming and replanting etc, but I will hold off on that for now.

Thanks,
iso
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 03:55 PM
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Yes, if your tank is balanced the new LA will grow algae free. This is because the plant will resist any algae growth on it. I'm experiencing very similar things in my tank at the moment. When I've seen new growth and my tanks have stayed unbalanced, the algae took over that new growth within a few days to a week maximum. When It's been balanced, I've seen the new growth thrive and stay untouched.

If your tank is balanced, the blyxa will grow fine. Algae will try to grow on it but if it's healthy it will prevent it's growth.

Have you considered some floaters? They have helped my tank a lot. Other than that, I'd recommend getting more plants.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 03:56 PM
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Any pics?


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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by leemacnyc View Post
Any pics?
Here are some pics.

This is of the new healthy LA tops after trimming half the original stems due to melt and BBA/Staghorn. I replanted some of these. Once the new LA comes I will replant all and remove the lower original stems that have bba/staghorn.




This is of the failing S. Repens.
It has been up and down with this plant. First it was stagnant and pale in color, then it started growing, so I did a trim and replanted the tops. Now some have melted, some leaves have staghorn and brown fuzz algae and the growth has halted. A few leaves have some holes, you can see it in the lower stem, middle of the photo. More to come of the Monte carlo...



Here is the monte carlo.
I have gotten decent growth in 2 months, nothing amazing, but the growth is not bright green and some is brown and just not overall healthy and lush. This is mostly affected by the brown fuzz algae. You can see it almost looks like diatoms on the gravel, but there are very fine wisps of brown hair like algae dispersed on it. Very hard to capture in a photo. It's even difficult to remove with a toothbrush. If you grab some it almost disintegrates in your fingers.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 05:06 PM
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Any full-tank shots (FTS)? I had a recent battle w/ algae on a new tank. I think the #1 thing you can do is add tons of stems to out-compete the algae, and #2 is added water circulation. Throw in a koralia or any type of circulation pump. My fav is the Hagen Mini Elite which I use to disperse the Co2. Good luck!


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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 05:07 PM
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Pictures are your friend. Take weekly pictures of the areas you're concerned about algae, try and get the framing/positioning similar each time and you should be able to see visible differences in the tank
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by leemacnyc View Post
Any full-tank shots (FTS)? I had a recent battle w/ algae on a new tank. I think the #1 thing you can do is add tons of stems to out-compete the algae, and #2 is added water circulation. Throw in a koralia or any type of circulation pump. My fav is the Hagen Mini Elite which I use to disperse the Co2. Good luck!
I have 2 big bunches of anacharis in the tank. I had even more in there but felt I was blocking out the light and decided to cut back on some. This was when I was targeting a lack of light (after targeting CO2 and nutrients) due to melt.

I had a powerhead in there for a while but removed it when I upgraded to the Eheim 2215 with the spraybar pointed down toward the front glass. I guess I will put it back. I do have the Koralia.

Here is a FTS from the beginning of Nov.
You can see the amount of anacharis I have in the tank, same amount currently. Tank looks different now. Back then I was trying to float the anacharis but trying to still allow light to reach the plants.


iso

Last edited by isonychia; 12-15-2015 at 05:43 PM. Reason: added photo
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 07:35 PM
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too much light. tone your lighting down and you will see overall much better results. you do not have the plant mass to be running that much PAR

plants don't need 60-80 PAR to thrive. too much light can actually be detrimental to plant health from what I have seen.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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too much light. tone your lighting down and you will see overall much better results. you do not have the plant mass to be running that much PAR

plants don't need 60-80 PAR to thrive. too much light can actually be detrimental to plant health from what I have seen.
Ok.

Started the tank overhaul (tank was running low tech since 2/8/15) too high tech on 10/12/15. So for over a month I had the PAR at about 30.

I raised my PAR from 30 to about 50 on 11/24/15. Also, the first day I noticed BBA and brown algae.

Then on 12/4/15 I raised it to 60, then on 12/9/15 I increased it to about 70.

I kept doing this as I did not see any major improvements from nutrient and CO2 adjustments. Thus I figured I was running low light and that was the source of my problems. Each light adjustment did not show improvement, so I kept increasing it.

I will dial it back to about 50, add the new plants and see what happens.

Maybe I missed the sweet spot in the months time I was adjusting it.

iso
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 08:13 PM
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Are you not seeing increases in algae growth when you increased the light by that much?


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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
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Are you not seeing increases in algae growth when you increased the light by that much?
That is the problem and always has been. Noticing things like that can prove difficult, especially someone new to planted tanks.

When I first noticed the BBA and brown hair type algae it was before I increased the lighting. It was affecting only a few of the stem plants and was very hard to see. So I chalked that first batch (start) of Algae to my imbalance and poor plant health, due to what I believed at the time to be nutrient deficiencies and/or CO2 problems. I rule out too much light because my PAR at the time was around 30.

I did not notice any improvements from the dosing or co2 changes so I upped the lighting. From the first day I noticed algae, it has slowly gotten worse. I don't know if the increased PAR has helped progress it or not. All I know is it has continued spreading from 11/24/15-12/15/15.

If I reduce my PAR back down to 50, it will take a little while to notice if algae is increasing or decreasing. When the algae pops up it does so on individual leaves. It doesn't double in amount in 3 days. So the amounts are happening in small increments and thus become hard to gauge until it's gotten to a certain mass that is definitive to the eye.

I take photos of the tank all the time and try and compare photos to see the time lapse all at once. That has been the best visual gauge on overall plant health over the course of 2 months.

What are the chances that LOW PAR caused plant melt and overall unhealthy plants? I don't have any difficult plants. Is it far fetched if I have addressed CO2 and nutrient levels? When I say unhealthy, I mean general chlorosis, yellowing, browning.

iso
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-16-2015, 02:50 AM
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Ah sounds like you are making lots of changes over a short period of time. Tricky situation. Try maintaining the same status for at least a week or so before making more changes. This way you'll actually know what is working and what is not and things can 'settle in' and your plants can get used to their environment.

Low PAR hurts certain plants more than others. The plants you have are somewhat demanding so I would stick in the 50-ish PAR range. The issues you would see if you did not have enough light (at least these are what I have noticed) are more pale growth, different growth patterns (it will just look generally less healthy / deformed), rotting of lower stem portions so the plant can float to the top.

I think you will be fine if you just stay the course and focus on providing good CO2, medium light, ferts, etc and keep up with killing off what algae you can when you get it. A telltale sign if things are going in the right direction is if you kill some algae and it does not grow back. I just killed off a chunk of BBA on a rock in my high tech and after 4 days it is completely gone and has not grown back. I know that if I am out of balance then the same things will keep happening. Now that more plants have grown in that area the BBA is kept at bay on that particular spot.

Older leaves should NOT struggle on healthy plants. Algae on / shedding of old leaves is usually due to other factors. For some plants I have seen that too MUCH light can cause this. Plants require more and more of other things and they get all out of whack. AR is an example of a plant I have noticed this in. My AR mini was a trainwreck when I ran higher light and all the leaves were caked in algae and fell off all the time. Now the growth looks much better under lower lighting and old growth stays colorful and in tact.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-16-2015, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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Ah sounds like you are making lots of changes over a short period of time. Tricky situation. Try maintaining the same status for at least a week or so before making more changes. This way you'll actually know what is working and what is not and things can 'settle in' and your plants can get used to their environment.
I instituted the addition of micro dosing for 2 weeks and didn't notice any changes. I assumed that was enough time to notice any improvements. That's when I moved on to lighting as my next modification.

Maybe I increased the lighting too quickly.

I went from 30 PAR to 70 PAR in 16 days.

As I said maybe I missed the sweet spot in terms of PAR. I started seeing improved growth out of my LA so I assumed I found the problem, lighting, so I kept increasing it.

I thought, since the LA stems seemed to be reacting positively to the increased PAR, the carpeting plants must benefit even more so. Since they were having trouble, I assumed it could only help them like it was helping the LA stems.

I reduced the PAR to 50 and added some more flow with a powerhead mid way down the tank pointing toward the substrate. Maybe adding the powerhead is a bad idea since it's another change along with the lighting adjustment. I figured it couldn't hurt. Although I have read some people think too much flow causes algae and others think it helps alleviate it.

I appreciate the help Klibs.

iso
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