For those who have lit a 10 gallon with CFLs, and all others. Question about algae. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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For those who have lit a 10 gallon with CFLs, and all others. Question about algae.

Hello everyone,

This is one of my first posts here. I have had aquariums on and off for approximately the last 20 years. Mostly, I have had reef tanks which may be skewing my perception concerning how much light is "enough". Over the last several months, I have been working with a small planted aquarium. It's a 10 gallon that was previously home to a betta for about 4 years that I converted over to full planted. Essentially the problem I've had over the last month or so is that I have begun injecting CO2 and fertilizing; although I am getting very nice growth out of most of the plants, the older growth which once looked vibrant and healthy as started to grow algae and not look so great. Not covered in algae by any means, just not looking great.

The tank is fairly heavily planted with a variety of different species, including Bacopa, Hygrophila, S repens, Althernanthera reineckii, Monte Carlo, Ludwigia repens, Rotala rotundifolia, Anubias nana petit, and Crypt wendtii red. Some more demanding plants and some easier plants. It is a Dutch style and about 90% of the substrate is planted. Some more details about the tank are below:

Lighting:

I am lighting this tank with 2x13W 6500K CFLs. They are mounted vertically. I recently raised them up about 17ish inches off of the substrate last week, and although the new growth looks fantastic and is occurring quickly, I am still experiencing old growth looking not-fantastic after about a week. Not as bad of a decline as previous weeks though. Photo-period is 6 hours, which I also reduced from 8 hours last week.

Fertilizer:

I am using NilocG's Thrive, dosing 2 ml 3x per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). I then do a 50% water change weekly (Sunday) and restart the process. I do not dose with the pump top it comes with because it's extremely innacurate. I use a syringe to accurately dose 2 mL every other day. This should put me in the EI range for macros and micros.

CO2:


I am using Burr740's tried and true DIY CO2 recipe. It works fantastically, and the DIY rig I built has been great with changing only one bottle weekly. On testing, tank water vs. degassed tank water, I am able to achieve a 1.4+ pH drop. My drop checker is constantly lime green. Additionally, the plants are always consistently pearling under the 2x13W CFLs. This makes me think my CO2 is in adequate range.

Substrate:


Seachem's Fluorite + Seachem Root tabs

Most recent parameters from log (06/03/18):

pH: 6.8
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 40 ppm (just before water change)
GH: 10 dGH
KH: 6 dKH





So, I hope I've given enough information here to help you all help me figure out what my problem may be. I am open to any and all suggestions. As far as recent changes, on 06/03 I made a photo-period adjustment to 6 hours with the 2x 13W CFLs. Does this sound like too much light is the issue? How have those that have lit 10 gallon tanks with CFLs before done it? With smaller bulbs, or with this size? Finally, I should add that not all the plants are experiencing this. The worst are the S. repens. The ludwigia, Rotala are nearly unaffected and doing great, as is the Hygrophilia. Thank you for taking the time to read through this!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 12:02 AM
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Based on everything you listed, my money is on low phosphates. If everything seems to be growing fast and healthy but old growth is plagued with GSA, bet on low level of phosphorus. High tech tanks are known to guzzle down phosphates when there is ample supply of other nutrients. I'd start with least 2-3 ppm. You may even have to double that after monitoring phosphate levels for a week or so.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madcrafted View Post
Based on everything you listed, my money is on low phosphates. If everything seems to be growing fast and healthy but old growth is plagued with GSA, bet on low level of phosphorus. High tech tanks are known to guzzle down phosphates when there is ample supply of other nutrients. I'd start with least 2-3 ppm. You may even have to double that after monitoring phosphate levels for a week or so.
Thanks for the help! It is mostly GSA, that's for sure. Is there a phosphate test kit you recommend and a phosphate supplement as well? The thrive adds about 1.3 ppm of phosphate to the tank each time I dose, so it sounds like what you're saying is happening is the plants are utilizing the phosphate moreso than the other components of the thrive fertilizer, allowing the GSA to take hold?
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 02:17 PM
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I just use the API test kit. It isn't the most accurate but it gets you close enough. For supplementing phosphorus you could always just purchase some dry KH2PO4 from NilocG and make your own solution based on the rotalabutterfly calculator or you could purchase some premixed phosphorus from brand names like Seachem. Be warned though, maximum solubility for KH2PO4 is rather on the weak side with these premixes. I had to dose at least 2-3 mL per gallon to get in the right range for my tank. You can see how quickly you will burn through a bottle with any tank other than a small nano. It's just the price you pay for convenience. It's way cheaper to dry dose phosphates, even if you use premixes for everything else.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the recommendation!

So I actually did go out and purchase an API test kit. Today is Saturday, the day before my weekly water change and my phosphate level is 5 ppm. I haven't added any extra phosphate other than what is in the Thrive fertilizer. Is that high enough to think I'd be able to avoid green spot algae? Or should I dose more? It could be that my raising of the lights last week slowed plant consumption down and maybe that's why I'm seeing less GSA? Or is 5 ppm still low at the end of the week after 3 doses of macros? Looks like Dennis Wong recommends 5-7ppm per week in EI tanks.

Last edited by cab395; 06-09-2018 at 03:55 PM. Reason: Details
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 05:45 PM
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Hmmm... 5 ppm isn't exactly low. When you raised the light, you slowed down consumption rate, yes. That might explain why your phosphate levels began to climb. Chances are, you were probably having a hard time keeping phosphates in ample supply when everything else was growing quickly under brighter lighting. You should probably lower your lights back down and keep an eye on nitrates and phosphates for a week. GSA doesn't care about lighting intensity unlike filamentous algaes. I've seen GSA both low light and high light situations, especially where phosphorus was dipping below 1 ppm before the next dosing.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-10-2018, 02:22 AM Thread Starter
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So I took your advice and lowered the lights back to where they were and went back up to an 8 hour photo-period. The plants pretty much instantly started pearling. I've attached a couple photos of this.

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I retested the water after the photo-period was over tonight and the PO4 is still 5 ppm with Nitrate at 40 ppm. I will continue to follow this week to see how it changes after my water change and dosing this week to see if the PO4 is in fact bottoming out. I do hope that's the issue so I can finally start focusing on aquascaping the tank with healthy-looking plants. Thanks again for your help! I will check in if the problem persists.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-15-2018, 01:48 AM Thread Starter
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So, GSA is no longer a problem, but I am still having the unfortunate conundrum of fuzz algae growing on old growth. I reflexively put my lights higher so that they are about 5.5-6 inches off the surface of the water and dropped my photo-period down to 6 hours. I am going to do a 50% water change today and then another tomorrow morning and test water parameters after that second water change, which I will post here. I have also started dosing 2 ml Excel per day. Any other suggestions?
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-15-2018, 08:36 PM
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Thrive is a good fertilizer but like most it does have its week points.

Calcium: It doesn't have any. Which a Gh of 10 you are probably OK. But if you want you can test for it by using a calcium test kit or by just try adding some calcium sulfate or calcium chloride to see if the situation improves.

Sulfur: Plants need about as much as they do phosphate. Thrive has some but it appears to have less than 1ppm of it. Sulfur levels might be a little low. Your tap water may have some but we don't know. You could try adding some potassium sulfate or calcium sulfate.

Chlorine: Plant do need it And typically with hard water and chlorination of tap water this is not a problem. Again Thrive doesn't have any. But you could add a 3ppm of table salt 9NaCl), calcium chloride or potassium chloride to see if that helps.

I am not saying these are your problem but it would be fairly easy to increase these levels a little bit to see if it helps.
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