Is 100% algae free possible? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-15-2019, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Is 100% algae free possible?

To all those who consider themselves pros:

Would you say your tank(s) is(are) ever close to 100% algae free?
I don't mean spores and bio-film type stuff, I know that's always present.

I'm asking because I've never had a big algae problem, but I've also never found myself to be 100% free of algae.
I've got a tuft of BBA here and there which I occasionally kill with Metricide spot treatment.
Same with a piece of staghorn here, and a bit of clado over there.
And with my regular maintenance, CO2, fertilization, and large water changes, I'm getting great growth from my plants, so I'm not that concerned about getting treatment advice.



Is 100% possible for any length of time?
Or is spot treating a piece here and there every few weeks just normal?

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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-15-2019, 05:01 PM
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I've never been 100% algae-free, but I really have to hunt to find some. Growth will reappear after a major perturbation (i.e., plant thinning, re-scaping, laziness) but it disappears soon after things get back to normal.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-16-2019, 03:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Mark, sounds like no one else wants to comment.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-16-2019, 04:11 PM
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Like Mark, I have been able to go through some periods of minimal algae. Im to the point where I dont have to break out the h2o2, if that's what you're asking, but I do keep it close. Echoing others, you're probably never going to get rid of it completely. The best scenario is you dont encounter any particular infestation. And even if you did, it's small things.

Even the best plant keepers will admit to having it. And I'm far from the best. No algae is like no insects. Unnatural and near impossible in an average home. So many things that keep you alive and thriving will do the same for insects. Likewise so many things that keep plants thriving will do good for algae.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-16-2019, 04:15 PM
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My setup is low tech. I always have hair algae in my moss. And my hob filter has some algae that is growing on the outlet. I have a snail to clean the tank walls. You even find algae in healthy ecosystems in the wild. People with high tech setups and CO2 are always monitoring and tweaking to control algae. If it is possible to be 100% algae free, I would think it would have to be a very high tech set up.

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-16-2019, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blacktetra View Post
To all those who consider themselves pros:

Would you say your tank(s) is(are) ever close to 100% algae free?
I don't mean spores and bio-film type stuff, I know that's always present.

I'm asking because I've never had a big algae problem, but I've also never found myself to be 100% free of algae.
I've got a tuft of BBA here and there which I occasionally kill with Metricide spot treatment.
Same with a piece of staghorn here, and a bit of clado over there.
And with my regular maintenance, CO2, fertilization, and large water changes, I'm getting great growth from my plants, so I'm not that concerned about getting treatment advice.



Is 100% possible for any length of time?
Or is spot treating a piece here and there every few weeks just normal?
Those pro aquascapes that you see on youtube and in competitions are heavily manicured. I doubt I will ever be algae free, even with a diverse cleanup crew. I think many people are BBA free, but all kinds of algae free is very difficult especially on hardscape. It impossible for me because I have 130+ par on parts of my hardscape and 60 at the substrate, that makes it very difficult to control. A little algae on wood and rocks is natural if it is minnimal it actually looks more real.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-16-2019, 04:32 PM
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As long as there's water, light. and nutrients, there will be algae. 'Balance' ensures that it's not excessive.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-16-2019, 06:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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I've never been 100% algae-free.
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Originally Posted by ipkiss View Post
The best scenario is you dont encounter any particular infestation.
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Originally Posted by ValMM View Post
My setup is low tech. I always have hair algae in my moss.
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Originally Posted by cl3537 View Post
Those pro aquascapes that you see on youtube and in competitions are heavily manicured. I doubt I will ever be algae free.
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Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
As long as there's water, light. and nutrients, there will be algae. 'Balance' ensures that it's not excessive.

Would you all agree that removal and treatment of algae is just another part of good husbandry, and that bits of algae here and there don't necessarily indicate an overall imbalance?


Secondly, do any of you believe that hard/stringy type algae can be killed thoroughly enough that a tank can be free of them 100% provided they are not reintroduced through contact with an outside environment? Or is it your experience that even these algae species can spread through spores in the air?

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-16-2019, 07:43 PM
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Would you all agree that removal and treatment of algae is just another part of good husbandry, and that bits of algae here and there don't necessarily indicate an overall imbalance?


Secondly, do any of you believe that hard/stringy type algae can be killed thoroughly enough that a tank can be free of them 100% provided they are not reintroduced through contact with an outside environment? Or is it your experience that even these algae species can spread through spores in the air?
Algae is there and always will be.
It is an opportunistic enemy, we change or alter something and it can grab hold.
It thrives off of everything we provide nutrient wise to our plants.
Some accept it and some try real hard to destroy it.
I only attack if something really bad happens.
Usually I watch it grow, think about why or what did I change.


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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-16-2019, 07:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blacktetra View Post
Would you all agree that removal and treatment of algae is just another part of good husbandry, and that bits of algae here and there don't necessarily indicate an overall imbalance?


Secondly, do any of you believe that hard/stringy type algae can be killed thoroughly enough that a tank can be free of them 100% provided they are not reintroduced through contact with an outside environment? Or is it your experience that even these algae species can spread through spores in the air?

I would agree that removal and treatment is good husbandry. An imbalance would be indicated by a sudden increase of algae. Since there are so many types of algae, and each type has different light and water chemical tolerances it can be hard to find that balance.



To kill algae 100% you would probably have to use some strong chemicals and maybe bake things for good measure. Then sanitize everything and anything that goes into your tank including the water and equipment. I would think that algae spores could even be stuck to fish that came from another tank. I do not believe it can be spread through the air though.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-16-2019, 08:01 PM
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Would you all agree that removal and treatment of algae is just another part of good husbandry, and that bits of algae here and there don't necessarily indicate an overall imbalance?
Yes and no. Algae is as natural in the aquarium as it is in nature. I keep viewing panes clean, but don't worry much about it elsewhere unless unsightly (display tank only) or coating plant leaves.


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Secondly, do any of you believe that hard/stringy type algae can be killed thoroughly enough that a tank can be free of them 100% provided they are not reintroduced through contact with an outside environment? Or is it your experience that even these algae species can spread through spores in the air?
Probably....but it can be a chore.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-16-2019, 08:53 PM
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I've never seen any tank be 100% algae free.

It's how you react to it and change to keep it minimized that counts.

First and foremost is good maintenance. And that includes removing infected leaves and in general good plant management. Sometimes something as simple as having too much plant mass can have an effect, and creating a little space between species can bring things back into balance.

Light is always a factor, and too much can easily bring it on. I roll my 3 banks of lights on and off, and adjust if I see an uptake in algae. Just recently I have been changing my dosing to lower levels, and found I had to dial back my hours of all 3 banks running at once.

And of course, always double check all CO2/pH calculations, as low CO2 is also a likely culprit.

Personally I don't spot treat anything, and don't have any clean up algae crew. I think complete removal is better. Old leaves that have been affected generally don't come back full strength. I have found it better to really beat something down if you have to, and start with nice clean plants and let them grow back.

So a little here and there isn't much to worry about. But certain types should be addressed quickly. BBA is #1. If I see even a hint of it, I am searching for a cause. BGA, hair algae, and clado are also types that tell you something is off. If they are there, there is a reason.

Most times a little more elbow grease and getting things uber clean will so the trick. Then check CO2 and light level/duration. Next is being sure plants are being well fed. Too little ferts is generally more trouble than too many. In general, concentrate on making plants happy. That's the best defense against all algae.
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Last edited by Greggz; 03-16-2019 at 09:13 PM. Reason: typo
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-17-2019, 03:30 PM
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....Also, algae is a viable food source, especially for fry.
------
Last summer with my outdoor (stock) tank (with swordtails), I also cultured daphnia in bins. I got string algae and at first thought it was a nuisance. Then I realized the swordtails just loved the stuff - who knew ?! So along with the daphnia and mosquito larvae, the algae became a valuable natural food source.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-17-2019, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
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To all those who consider themselves pros:
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… sounds like no one else wants to comment.
What did you expect.
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Would you say your tank(s) is(are) ever close to 100% algae free?
I don't mean spores and bio-film type stuff, I know that's always present.
Yes, but only thanks to plants and snails. This combination can eliminate most of non-BBA green types of algae. If I didn’t feed my snails spinach they would starve to death. I think the best scenario is to have tiny invisible amount of green type algae to keep the snails happy, but it is hard to do because they eat it all and starve. They have no sense of planning for the future whatsoever.

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Last edited by Edward; 03-17-2019 at 06:38 PM. Reason: .
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, but only thanks to plants and snails. I think the best scenario is to have tiny invisible amount of green type algae to keep the snails happy, but it is hard to do because they eat it all and starve. They have no sense of planning for the future whatsoever.

It's true. All my attempts to educate my tank fauna have fallen short




... with the exception that my CPD's and Phoenix Rasboras expect food from a tiny pipette when put into the water. (Because I do in fact use one to feed them baby brine shrimp on occasion.)
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