Bright Indirect Light and Algae - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 12:53 AM Thread Starter
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Bright Indirect Light and Algae

Anyone have any experience with bright indirect light causing algae or is it more a problem if direct sun hits your tank? Pictured below is a spot in my fish room next to my office and some sliding glass doors. I was thinking that when I get the rest of my big tanks this last spot might be cool to have a custom extra wide, open top tank (maybe something like 5' long and 3' to 30" depth but only 20 or so inches tall) with water lilies and big plants growing out of it and terrestrial houseplants all around it. Outside will eventually be a beautiful courtyard garden after I replace all the fencing with something nicer (think angels trumpets, Fuchsias, Begonias and the like).

These glass doors are on the center north side of my fairly large house so at no time does direct sun ever come in. In fact at no time of the year do you even cast much of a shadow in this spot. Just wondering if it is likely algae will still be a problem and I should rethink having a tank here. It is most likely years away so I am not in any hurry. Just trying to plan out my future for this house.

Office and courtyard. by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr


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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 12:03 AM
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It is all about balance. More light means more plant growth, until they run out of the limiting factor (co2, ferts, etc) then they stop growing and algae take over. In other words, it will be fine so long as you watch your plants and are prepared to make adjustments as needed such as adding co2 or reducing artificial light etc.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 02:02 PM
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In an unplanted or newly planted tank, direct sunlight can cause green water and algae, and should be shielded. In a balanced planted tank, direct sunlight has only positive effect. My high tech tanks receive window sunlight in mid morning and I see more lush growth in plants hit by the sunlight. Before I had plants, I struggled with bba and gda in the areas hit by direct sunlight, and had to lower the window curtain. Once with plants and balanced out, the algae never return and I open up the curtain to welcome more sunlight in. I guess strong plant competition and a troop of algae eaters I introduced help eliminate algae.

I would say go for it with your plan and plant heavily right from start to out compete algae. You will have some brown and other algae at the beginning but with patience and balanced plant growth, algae will be free in time,
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 05:33 PM Thread Starter
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In my old house my fish room was a small mudroom off the side entrance next to the garage. The door had windows but I assumed direct sun would never come in because I thought the garage shielded it. Couldn't figure out why I was getting so much algae in one specific tank. Woke up with the sunrise one morning (which I almost never do...10 am is usually the earliest I get up) and realized that for like 2 hours in the early morning direct sun was coming through that doorway. Bought blinds and that solved the problem.

But this time I am certain there is no direct sun just bright indirect light. I would love to do a really wide tank with real water lilies and emersed plants coming out in this spot.


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-10-2019, 12:48 AM
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Just personal opinion but with the choices of plants you have planned they are going to out compete any algae that will be an issue.

I ran into the same problem with my 40B and morning sunlight. I thought it was shielded but realized on a day off that the sun was hitting it directly on for a couple hours. Found out where the green water and string algae was coming from (for the most part). Its low tech so the extra light wasnt working.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-10-2019, 03:48 PM
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With the right choice of plants and enough plant mass, direct sunlight will not cause algae. If the sunlight hit the surface, you can grow floating plants or lily pads to shade overhead light, and if it hits the side, you can place fast growing stem plants to intercept the light. These high light plants that normally struggle in artificial light will thrive, flower and turn vibrant red in sunlight which is an advantage in growing difficult plants if you know how to manage it.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-12-2019, 02:07 PM
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I have a tank I deliberately put in front of a window that gets bright indirect light, that's the only light source for it. I haven't quite got enough healthy plant mass in there yet to outcompete all the algae- it's a coldwater tank so things seem to grow slowly- but I do have a good crew of snails that help out, and sometimes I scrape the glass clean when it gets kinda green. In summer I put two layers of plastic sheeting (the kind you buy to protect floors/furniture when painting) over the back of the tank to cut some of the light. It's winter now the light is dimmer so I've removed that for now. Still lets in some light but reduces the intensity. But it's taken me a while to figure out which plants can grow in this tank- some just won't thrive and others do great. Have to experiment.


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-12-2019, 03:37 PM
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Here is an article on how to grow plants with window sunlight.

https://buceplant.com/blogs/news/how...EzcloifQ%3D%3D
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-12-2019, 04:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triport View Post
Anyone have any experience with bright indirect light causing algae or is it more a problem if direct sun hits your tank? Office and courtyard. by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

Yes.....
Probably can be controlled by good husbandry but throws a variable intangible into the system.

north side is better than south side..

"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure."

Last edited by jeffkrol; 12-12-2019 at 04:37 PM. Reason: edit
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-12-2019, 05:33 PM
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Thanks for posting that link, @Tiger15. My tank could use some improvement (always) and now I know it's probably: more water changes, better substrate cleaning, more plants!


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-13-2019, 08:50 PM
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Indirect light is great but not during the cycling. Block out as much light as you can for the first few months. Plant heavy large leaf plants on the side with light . Wisteria and hygrophila siamensis would be good.
Looks like a great spot . Have fun

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-13-2019, 09:33 PM
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I have a s/w window with blinds. 2 tanks get indirect/filtered light from it now 1 has a little hair algae (came in on moss so just can't get rid of, but not originally caused from window) the other has a little green water-both soil based with lots of plants, set up 8+ months.
Past tanks I had plants THRIVE with that little hint of sun(no algae.. also no soil).. and when moved to basement tanks (0 sun) they just got sad and leggy/died back.
Agree with the protect from sunlight until well established and plant heavily. Be prepared for frequent water changes when first set up to also combat algae taking hold.

Due to photobuckets new bs cost for use of images on forums I have deleted all photobucket accounts. I apologize if you enjoyed or found my photos helpful.
Starting to update these threads

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-17-2019, 04:21 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the comments everyone. Computer was down for about a week so I haven't been online.


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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-17-2019, 07:39 AM
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I have couple gallon shrimp bowls I hang by a west facing window. They are zero tech, meaning no heater, aeration or filtration, and receive 4 to 5 hour sunlight in the afternoon. What I have to watch out is temp rise in summer afternoon. With open top in an AC room, the temp never rises above 85F. If the AC is out in summer heat, Iím certain I will have cooked shrimp. They are heavily planted with floating and carpet plants, and inhabited with shrimp and snails. The plants pearl heavily under direct sunlight and the pH will rise from 7 to almost 9 at the peak due to stripping of CO2. I have no green water or algae of any sort except for green silk algae (spirogyra) the inhabitants donít eat. I know Algicide can eliminate spirogyra but I canít use it with shrimp, so I have to physically remove in clumps every couple weeks.
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