Algae or "Algae" - which am I dealing with? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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Algae or "Algae" - which am I dealing with?

EDIT: Changed the title of the thread to be a bit more descriptive and hopefully get some pointers on solving the problem - whether it is algae or diatoms, regardless. (I realized that my original one wasn't doing me any favors.)

My current focus tank has taken a turn in the last few weeks. Fairly new setup (maybe six months old) and was doing fine until recently. Now, plants are dying back or getting brown algae on them (or both.)

Tank
46g bowfront

Plants:
Anubias
Amazon Sword
Waterweed
Monte Carlo


Light
Fluval 3.0
Sunrise 2 hours
Full 3 1/2 hours
Sunset 2 1/2 hours
Planted tank preset

Water:
PH 7.5
Phosphate 0+ (maybe a little over zero...color isn't quite the same as zero)
KH 4/GH 161.1
Ammonia .25 (not surprised with some dead leaves in there.)
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0+ (see above)

Ferts: Flourish tabs until two months ago. Ran out and wasn't seeing much effect.

No C02

Of note: One piece of water weed broke off and is floating on the surface, Currently the only plant that is fully green besides the Anubias.

If anyone can offer some guidance, that would be great.

Last edited by Weidbrewer; 07-14-2018 at 09:04 PM. Reason: Clarity
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 01:53 PM
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You need to fertilize dude. 0 nitrates and 0 phosphates are why your plants aren't doing well and algae is, and I'll also assume that micros aren't being covered. Many of us are keeping our tanks in the 30+ ppm NO3 and 5+ ppm PO4 range. Since you're low tech, I'd keep things at a minimum of 10 ppm NO3 and 1 ppm PO4. You could pick up an all-in-one fertilizer like Thrive, or get dry ferts and do EI dosing. You can pickup either of these options on nilocg.com.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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Hmm...My other tanks have similar profiles and are doing very well, so I hadn't put much thought into more ferts. Like I said, when using them, I wasn't seeing any results and I'd never used them in the past.

As for phosphates, I've intentionally been knocking them down in one tank with RO water, because I've been getting BGA explosions otherwise.

(Neither of the above is saying that you're wrong - I was sharing my thought process.)


EDIT: And the reason I'd been using Flourish is because it was shrimp safe. Not sure if thrive is.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Weidbrewer View Post
Hmm...My other tanks have similar profiles and are doing very well, so I hadn't put much thought into more ferts. Like I said, when using them, I wasn't seeing any results and I'd never used them in the past.

As for phosphates, I've intentionally been knocking them down in one tank with RO water, because I've been getting BGA explosions otherwise.

(Neither of the above is saying that you're wrong - I was sharing my thought process.)
I would get some Erythromycin for that cyanobacteria. Dose the tank with a standard dose and you'll be clear of it in no time. I tried battling it without Erythromycin and I could get it to disappear by lowering my lights intensity and photoperiod, but as soon as I started ramping things back up, I'd get small patches of the stuff again. Since it's a bacteria, I feel like if you're not killing it off completely, there's always a chance it'll rear its ugly head again. Lowering PO4 may knock it down, I have no clue there, but it won't totally kill it and your plants suffer in the meantime.

Fert tabs are not the way to go in my opinion. They can be used in conjunction with water column ferts, but water column ferts are certainly the way to go. It would help your plants out to fertilize. Plants out in nature are able to pull nutrients from soil, so if you're not using soil, you absolutely have to provide them the nutrients they need in one form or another. And remember...no two tanks are the same.

Thrive is shrimp safe
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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I would get some Erythromycin for that cyanobacteria.
To clarify, I do not have a BGA problem now. The above is how I treated the symptoms, and knocking down the phosphates was how I combated the cause.

Quote:
Thrive is shrimp safe
Just saw that (or, more specifically, that they have a shrimp-safe version.)

Man...sometimes, I feel like the universe got reprogrammed at some point while I wasn't looking. 25-some-odd years ago when I was last doing planted tanks, I didn't know anyone who used C02, fancy lights, ferts, etc...good water, some fish, some shop-lights and everything grew just fine.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-28-2018, 01:41 AM Thread Starter
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We're a few weeks on, and I have been using thrive and my new light. Definitely seeing a bunch of new green growth, so we're heading in the right direction. However, brown algae gradually covers the new growth and is still everywhere. Also, my numbers from above are still pretty much the same.

Dosing for thrive says 1 pump per 5 gallons, 1-3 times a week. I've been doing one dose a week since my plant level isn't that great yet, but as said, my numbers are still reading basically zero for nitrites and phos. Should I dose more, or will that just be feeding the algae?
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-28-2018, 01:15 PM
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[QUOTE=Weidbrewer;11081971]We're a few weeks on, and I have been using thrive and my new light. Definitely seeing a bunch of new green growth, so we're heading in the right direction. However, brown algae gradually covers the new growth and is still everywhere. Also, my numbers from above are still pretty much the same.



Dosing for thrive says 1 pump per 5 gallons, 1-3 times a week. I've been doing one dose a week since my plant level isn't that great yet, but as said, my numbers are still reading basically zero for nitrites and phos. Should I dose more, or will that just be feeding the algae?[/


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[quote=paulcheshire;11082059]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Weidbrewer View Post
We're a few weeks on, and I have been using thrive and my new light. Definitely seeing a bunch of new green growth, so we're heading in the right direction. However, brown algae gradually covers the new growth and is still everywhere. Also, my numbers from above are still pretty much the same.



Dosing for thrive says 1 pump per 5 gallons, 1-3 times a week. I've been doing one dose a week since my plant level isn't that great yet, but as said, my numbers are still reading basically zero for nitrites and phos. Should I dose more, or will that just be feeding the algae?[/


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The brown algae is coming from excess nutrients. Increase lighting or more water changes, I would increase lighting to use the nutrients up and get more growth


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Last edited by Darkblade48; 08-01-2018 at 10:41 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-28-2018, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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Are you sure? Everything else I've seen is that you want to decrease light for brown algae (And, it should be noted that even then, it seems the jury is out on whether light effects brown algae or not)...also, if I should reduce nutrients, why am I fertilizing? (I might just seriously be misunderstanding something, so please bear with me.)


Unrelated: Anyone else having issues with the forum? If I quote, go advanced, etc, the page errors out. Is happening both here and at home.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-29-2018, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weidbrewer View Post
Are you sure? Everything else I've seen is that you want to decrease light for brown algae (And, it should be noted that even then, it seems the jury is out on whether light effects brown algae or not)...also, if I should reduce nutrients, why am I fertilizing? (I might just seriously be misunderstanding something, so please bear with me.)





Unrelated: Anyone else having issues with the forum? If I quote, go advanced, etc, the page errors out. Is happening both here and at home.

You're right, lighting doesn't do much with brown algae, but increasing the lighting period will decrease the nutrients in your water column. Brown algae isn't a real algae, it's diatoms.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulcheshire View Post
You're right, lighting doesn't do much with brown algae, but increasing the lighting period will decrease the nutrients in your water column. Brown algae isn't a real algae, it's diatoms.


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If you increase the ferts you must increase lighting as well


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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulcheshire View Post
If you increase the ferts you must increase lighting as well


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Your plants will uptake the excess silicates which is what the diatoms are feeding on


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Last edited by Darkblade48; 06-29-2018 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-10-2018, 12:36 PM Thread Starter
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Just wanted to post an update now that the forums are working again. Between the new light and the ferts, I am seeing a lot of new growth on my plants, which is good. However, as fast as it grows, it's getting covered by the algae/diatoms. Is this something that will eventually solve itself when the plants reach a "critical mass," or is there something more that I should be doing? Also, are the plants able to receive light to their leaves through all of that, or is the new growth all they have that works?
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-10-2018, 01:24 PM
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Diatoms need silicates which is what is causing your problem.. Free silicates.

"Usually" will self correct over time. Collecting /cleaning them out of the tank will remove recyclable silicates..

There are silicate removers but most also take out phosphates.

See algae but not diatoms in your photo..

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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-10-2018, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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This is getting me to the point where I just want to throw my hands in the air. Seems like every post, I'm getting sent in a new direction.

You say that you see algae and not diatoms - could you please explain how I can tell the difference? Everything I'm seeing looks like "brown" algae, except that it's a deeper, almost black color. It's all a thin, dusty, almost paint-like coating on everything. (If you look at the rock in the upper left, you can see the line straight across it where part of it had been under gravel.)

For the silicates, should I start supplementing my water changes with RO water to cut those down and increase the fert dosage to up the phosphates again?
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-13-2018, 12:43 PM Thread Starter
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Since I seem to have stumped people, here are some additional pics showing the growth on terracotta, rocks, plants, etc to see if we can get to the bottom of this.
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-25-2018, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Since I haven't been able to get any responses, I'm kind of approaching this as a journal now...if I make headway on the whatever-it-is, maybe my steps can help others.

I've been keeping up with water changes, and scrubbing the solid surfaces each time (it always grows back within a few days) and dosing with ferts. Plants are definitely doing very well and gaining some ground, but there's still just black stuff covering most surfaces and any older growth.
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-25-2018, 05:02 PM
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Man I got this crap too and I hate it! I have no idea what it is. Here is a pic from one of my tanks when it was very dirty with it.




I haven't found any way to get rid of it. I'll remove it all and then it comes back within a week. It's weird because I do not get it in my 5 gallon and I use the same tools in both tanks so I'm sure some gets transferred over.
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