7 Tips for Keeping Algae Out of Planted Tanks - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2015, 04:43 PM Thread Starter
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7 Tips for Keeping Algae Out of Planted Tanks



Algae is a too-common problem in planted aquariums, causing hobbyists to throw their hands up in frustration and often dismantle tanks that are otherwise perfectly good. Despite your best efforts at setup, sometimes algae will find its way into your tank Ė but donít give up. Here are some tips for dealing with the creeping green (or brown) menace.

1. Overplant your aquarium

When it really comes down to it, an alga is just another plant. Providing an environment where your plants will thrive also creates an environment where algae has the potential to get a foothold. However, if your plants are aggressively out-competing the algae for nutrients, it will swiftly die off and new surges of algae activity will be kept to a minimum. To be successful with this technique requires careful monitoring and frequent water changes, so get your chemistry set ready.

2. Stock algae-loving animals

Algae-loving animals should really be a part of any planted tank, but for some setups this is much more challenging than others. For example, if you have a Cichlid species tank, just tossing in some Otocinclus catfish, Nerite snails and Amano shrimp probably wonít help since your fish may eat your algae-hunters. However, Mollies and Platties may be able to fit the bill in these tanks and their aggressive breeding habits wonít be an issue.

3. Increase circulation

If your algae problems seem to be more localized, you may have a circulation problem. Just because youíve gone to the trouble to provide everything your plants need to thrive, it doesnít mean they can get it if itís pooling away from them. Increased circulation moves water more aggressively, mixing everything in the tank to create a more homogeneous environment. When circulation is increased, those little pockets of algae may simply disappear. Any tank can benefit from an added spray bar to help stir things up.

4. Lower the lights

Bright lights are an invitation for algae. Itís a tightrope walk to keep enough light for your plants to thrive without providing so much that algae gets encouraged to grow without limit. Choose dimmer bulbs or put your lighting on a timer and switch it off after about 10 hours. Your plants will be happy with this amount of light and algae growth will slow dramatically. If your tank is in a room with ample ambient light, take that into consideration when choosing new aquarium bulbs Ė after all, bright room lighting or light from a nearby window can encourage algae growth, too.

5. Inject CO2

Light and carbon dioxide, otherwise known as CO2 to aquarium hobbyists, are among the most important elements in photosynthesis. If the plants in your tank arenít getting enough CO2, they canít use up the nutrients in the aquarium and continue to keep the algae at bay. There are plenty of plans online for homemade CO2 injection systems for smaller tanks, or you can purchase a commercial CO2 system for your plants. Commercial systems have the advantage of allowing you to set them and forget them, but homemade systems are less expensive. Both are effective tools in the war against algae.

6. Fertilize your plants

It may seem counter-intuitive, but fertilizing your plants is a really good way to keep algae killed back. With adequate light and CO2 in the water, your plants still may not grow aggressively enough to crowd out algae stands. Adding fertilizer, especially nitrogen and micronutrients like iron, can give your plants the boost they need.

Phosphates from excessive feeding have been implicated in algae outbreaks, so apply it with caution. When your plants are healthy and growing well, theyíll use up most of the CO2 in the system, as well as those nutrients youíre providing, to create a low-algae environment. Make sure to test your water often when applying nitrogen fertilizers to protect your fish from overexposure.

7. Accept it

Last, but not least, remember that the presence of algae is a part of the planted tank environment. Thereís no way around it Ė you canít keep every tiny molecule of algae away forever. If thereís a light dusting of algae on rocks and an occasional bit on the glass, clean them regularly and accept it as a win.

Algae thrives under the same conditions as your plants, so as long as you have plants, youíll have some algae. The goal is to keep it under control, because trying to eliminate it all will just drive you out of your mind. If you simply canít bear algae, but love the look of a planted tank, consider some of the high-quality plant replicas available in the aquarium trade today.

Algae can be a real menace to aquarium keepers, but if you understand what this microscopic plant community needs to thrive and take pains to manipulate your environment away from those conditions, youíll find itís easy to keep in check. A small amount of algae can add some interest to a planted tank, though, so experiment with control methods until you find the one thatís right for your environment.

- PlantedTank.net


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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-25-2015, 01:11 AM
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I have not had any tanks from 1997-2014, but then I started again with a 5 gallon nano-tank, because I was given a betta. Planted of course, and yes with algae too... but then I found Malaysian Trumpet Snails, and while some people consider them a nuisance, my experience has been entirely positive. They don't bother the plants, but the aquarium is squeaky clean. It's been going on for a year, and it's one betta with 100,000 MTS (give or take), and it works like a charm.
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Aqueon CUE 5 gallon, Aqueon 10G, Aqueon 29G, all of them pimped out with new equipment.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 04:35 PM
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All sounds pretty good advice except #4 Lowering the lights. I think it should say adjust your lights to match your setup. Tweaking the lights should be done as a last resort if C02 cannot be properly injected or added to the tank. The light is the foundation for the planted tank setup. Light > C02 > Nutrients = growth. Most people tweak C02 or nutrients after establishing the light levels that they want to run with. Tweaking the lights means you tweak the entire setup so it should rarely be changed unless you are starting from scratch.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-30-2015, 03:46 PM
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I'm thinking that cleaning techniques requires its own #. Proper vacuuming, removing dead plant matter, cleaning the filter, appropriate % water changes..
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 03:55 PM
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You don't actually need to inject CO2. A good low tech tank will generate a constant good amount of CO2 for you, around 20ppm.
My 2 little low tech tanks are very lush. They don't have the high light/CO2 demanding plants but that's ok.


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 11:52 PM
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nice post admin.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-03-2015, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evaninspace View Post
I'm thinking that cleaning techniques requires its own #. Proper vacuuming, removing dead plant matter, cleaning the filter, appropriate % water changes..


Water changes and trimming cut cut cut.



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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 12:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PortalMasteryRy View Post
All sounds pretty good advice except #4 Lowering the lights. I think it should say adjust your lights to match your setup. Tweaking the lights should be done as a last resort if C02 cannot be properly injected or added to the tank. The light is the foundation for the planted tank setup. Light > C02 > Nutrients = growth. Most people tweak C02 or nutrients after establishing the light levels that they want to run with. Tweaking the lights means you tweak the entire setup so it should rarely be changed unless you are starting from scratch.
I agree, it is easier to set up your CO2 levels, dosing routine, and then make your light the determining factor, and you sometimes have to increase. Just recently I started using the new Halo leds and the transition caused some Clado and Spyro to creep up. I started manually removing it with my hands, and thought, here we go again. I was free of algae for so long, and now this is happening. I figured, well the only thing that has changed is my light. I had decided to run the lights at 50% power for the past few weeks to match my previous energy consumption, which was around 90 watts. I even installed the 80 degree lenses to optimize my light levels. This past water change I decided to increase the lighting from 50% to around 60-65% of full power. Now three days later my plants are pearling a heck of a lot more, and the algae is disappearing. The CO2 hadn't been touched, and my dosing routine was the same. My lights just needed a slight increase to match my already running system.

Keep your sleeves wet!
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 05:33 PM
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My 2cents:

Embrace the Algae!

Different species of algae compete for space and resources. If you have no 'good' algae the bad (brown and green) will inevitably grow. You need good algae to keep out the bad.

Stock your tank with lots algae loving snails, pleco, otos, shrimp etc...

Algae is part of healthy ecosystem and provides food and nutrition for your species. I have never understood why everyone tries to kill all the living algae and then spends money to buy dead and dried algae to put back in the tank to feed their fish. Algae is the easiest food to grow for you fish and if you manage to balance it all right you can stop changing you water completely and let nature's cycle run it's course. I have two 35g tanks and have not done a water change in over three years. Fish are happy, chemistry is ROCK solid, plants are flourishing, I don't need co2 any more and I spend much less on food for my veggie lovers due to my algal stock.

This approach might not be for you but it does work! My tanks are proof. Give it a go and you could be spending less time obsessing about ppm and more time enjoying your fish.
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Last edited by livebearers; 11-15-2015 at 05:36 PM. Reason: Forgot the most important part...
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