Forum Newbie: Introduction/Dark Green Beard Algea - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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Forum Newbie: Introduction/Dark Green Beard Algea

Greetings all,
First time posting hear so i feel an introduction is in order prior to my cries for ideas. Hazardous Waste Management Specialist, WMD response instructor/responder, Storm water management specialist, and 3 years into a Comp Sci degree. Just finished 8 years in Uncle Sam's Misguided Childrens club, and now work as an environmental specialist (primarily compliance).

Ok enough about me now for the tank:

150 gallon Oscar tank (i have included the links i used to ID the pleco and cat):
Bioload consists of the following:
5 Oscars (ranging from 6"-9")
1 common pleco ( 5", recently replaced the 9" i had more to follow on that later) - General info for pleco
1 pictus catfish (4", new join to the tank (moved in about 2 weeks ago)
The Pictus Catfish: The Fish That Needs A Shave?!
1 crayfish (5")
5 mystery snails (1.5" diameter)

Tank Flora:
1 amazon sword (8" tall)
1 melon sword (6" tall)
2 amazon broadleaf (24"+ ID is not 100%)
Hornwort (3 bunches (too much to count) ID is not 100%)
Ludwig (2"-10" (if i thought the hornwort was too much to count this is 3 times that and ID is 90%)

Tank setup is as follows:
2 fluval 404's (loaded with biomedia)
4 maxi-jet 900's (tied to the UGF not set for reverse flow)
1 penguin PH (170 gph tied to CO2 diffuser)
3 DIY CO2 bottles ( I know pressurized is the way to go but i will elaborate later)
40 watt UV (tied to one of the 404's) 5 hours a day
110 watts flourescent (3 bulbs, 1 full spectrum 40watt 14 hours a day, 2 "plant bulbs" 70 watt total 10 hours a day)

Dosing/Maintenance regiment
2x a week flourish (not excel)
feeding is daily consisting of alternating between the following:
Rosies (2 dozen at a shot, no goldfish (due to HITH))
Large Shrimp (3 per feeding)
Dry food ( 2 heaping tablespoons worth)
CO2 bottles are changed out every 2 weeks, but they are on alternating schedules
waterchanges are monthly 33%

The current water parameters:
Temp - 80 degree's F
Ammonia - 0 ppm
Nitrite - 0 ppm
Nitrate - 30 ppm
KH - 9 degrees
GH - Unknown at this time ( i think my testing solution is borked, no immediate color change to yellow, solution simply turns to dark yellow/orange after about 10 drops, but never goes green as indicated on the instructions)
pH - 7.4

Ok now to the nitty gritty. I currently have a red beard algea infestation ( ID'd here Control of Red Algae in the Freshwater Aquarium)).

1. I have reviewed the link and am i right to beleive that my problems are coming from my nitrate levels?

2. If so then is my issue my w/c schedule?

3. If w/c is the solution then, Is there a way to mitigate the frequency/need for w/c by increasing my plant load, or can i use a terrestrial plant filter to resolve the issue (without altering my feeding schedule).

Ok now for the "why are you making this so complicated kramer?" question. I was in my LFS about a year ago purchasing my oscars. My wife saw some of the plants and inquired about using live plants in the tank. I had never had any luck with planted aquariums in the past (mostly due to lack of care/research), the LFS guy assured me that it would be impossible with the Oscars. Needless to say with a gauntlet like that thrown down i had to accept the challenge and prove him wrong. So off i went, I set up DIY Co2 due to the fact that i figured once the oscars got to the size they are now the plants days would be numbered. I was wrong. I know the way to go is pressurized Co2 but there are two things holding me back. first is the cost factor of the controllers, second is the wife. I am a control freak and relying solely on a pH controller just isn't my style. I looked into the lab grade pH,CO3 selective ion electrodes and they are just out of my current budget range ( I also saw a nice Co2 electrode which would rule but that was the worst one fiscally coming in at about $800 us). My plants seem to be recovering from a frustration induced algea trimming session and now the algea seems to be limited to my PH's and my two large broadleaf's. The pleco (just like the one he has replaced) seems to no longer be interested in the algea on the plants and finds sustenance elsewhere (lol not yet sure where though, perhaps the uneaten pellets like his predicessor). The snails are doing a great job everywhere except the broadleafs (they just cant seem to get up the stem before the oscars decide to play soccer with em). The pictus, as he should, sticks mainly to the bottom going after food scraps. The crayfish spends most of his time in hiding and takes care of the shrimp leftovers at night. Smaller pond snails dont last more then a few minutes ( the oscars have learned to eat any "small rocks" they see moving). I am heading out to the LFS this afternoon in search of a chinese algea eater in hopes that, one i can find one large enough to introduce, and two he will do a job on the algea. I would try dosing with Flourish excel however it is unavailable in my area, and i am not paying cost+50%(for shipping) to purchase it online. Plus if my calculations are correct (3*KH*10(raise to the 7-pH) my Co2 is about 11 ppm.
Any idea's regarding solving my balancing issues would be greatly appreciated.

Semper Fi

PS. How about a venturi protein skimmer?

Last edited by Kramer; 11-08-2006 at 02:48 PM. Reason: Forgot my lighting conditions
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 09:26 PM
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Conventional Wisdom.. and on the Algea board are that beard and brush algae are the result of low CO2.

I know that cranking up my CO2 has kept BBA from returning after I did a bleach treatment on my Annubias to remove BBA.

With a tank that large, I'd really suggest doing a pressurized Co2 system. I bought the ultimate CO2 kit from and it has been awesome. Total cost for everything was $300.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 11:11 PM
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I'm amazed that your Oscars, especially with 5 of them, haven't completely destroyed your plants! I have 1 Oscar and a Convict Cichlid in a 90 gal that I was recently given by a friend. Under my buddy's care, each fish had his own side of the tank and the Oscar moved all of the fake plants from his side over to the Convict's side. Since I've had them (only 2 weeks now) the Oscar has left the few plants I put on his side alone, but I figured that was just becase he was still adjusting to his new environment. Do your O's not mess with the plants at all?

As far as your water changes go, I'd increase them. I currently do a 50% change every 9 or 10 days, but that's with fake plants. Your plants will buy you a little more time, because they're sucking up a lot of nitrates and ammonia, but I still would do a 50% change every 2 weeks or so.

If you want to increase your plant load, that may buy you a bit more time as well, but you'll definitely want to go with pressurized C02. I think you could get a pretty decent setup for about $220 if you build a DIY reactor (see Rex's Guide to Planted Tanks for Rex's guide and his reactor that is used a lot here). You could also look for used stuff, that price is if you're buying a new regulator and a 10lb. CO2 tank.

I don't have goldfish or anything, but I've never heard of them causing HITH (hole-in-the-head disease, common among Oscars for those of you that haven't kept them). Is that so? Interesting...
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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I bought the oscars as small fry ... they were less then an inch at the time i purchased them. There were plants that they definately terrorized at first but now the only time a plant gets uprooted is during a live feeding frenzy event, when they dart around the tank after the live food. As for the HITH and goldfish it was explained to me once quite a while back that goldfish are the fast food equivalent for fish, low in protein and very high in fat. With that said the LFS guy that informed me of this was also an Oscar breeder so i took his word for it (somehow it just seemed to make sense). So my oscars enjoy a diet, that at times, is more varied and better then mine (I sincerely beleive that they now look at pellet food as a form of punishment).

Regarding the pressurized Co2, I know it is a must have in a tank my size (in order to keep the algea levels low), the issue is that as solstice pointed out Oscars and plants generally dont co-habitate well together. So my reservations lie in dropping a couple of hundred into a Co2 system just in time to have my oscars hit the 1' mark and obliterate anything in there path.

I went to the LFS today in search of excel and an chinese algea eater ... i struck out on both counts. I bought another 1/2 dozen mystery snails and they have all seemed to migrate to the larger BBA clusters. The irony regarding the algea is that it wouldnt bother me at all if it would simply stay off the plants and out of my prefilter screens ... but alas no luck there.

Thanks for the replies and i will certainly use them in my sales pitch to the Mrs. ... but for now i will continue my search for flourish excel (locally i can't see paying 50% of the cost in shipping) ...

Regarding the Co2 though ... my concern is the effect it has on pH (in the event of an overdose). Does anyone have a setup running without the controller ... if so what is your water testing regiment? thanks in advance.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 11:41 PM
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 11:53 PM
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May I suggest this?

With a tank your size, especially if you add more plants, you're going to go through a ton of Excel. A 4ltr bottle ought to last you a 18 months or so at least and the shipping is about $8. It'll save you a lot in the long run.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-09-2006, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the source, I am still contemplating going pressurized ... it is one of those battles i need to evaluate thoroughly prior to embarking on it. Afterall $30-$40 bucks into excel or $100 into a regulator (i think i can get free Co2 fills at work). Do you by chance have a setup that doesnt use a pH controller? I was curious if a simply timer would give you the stability you need?

I just finished installing a drain right next to my tank along with a water source (Still a manual fill/drain, but alot better then lugging around buckets of water). In addition i installed a valve with a pre-screen onto one of my filter intakes to allow me to vacuum the bottom without a water change (the time it takes the water to drain has never been long enough to get the bottom done). But so far so good, I am going to do my next water change here shortly (once the glue cures on my drain). One of the things i noticed last night, however, was that my tap pH is 8.2 while my tank is sitting at 7.4, in addition my KH out of my tap is 19 while my tank is sitting at a mere 9 degree's. My tank seemed to be healthier with a higher pH and KH, so i guess my question is how much should i change out and over what time perios to get my parameters back to tap so to speak?
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-09-2006, 05:21 PM
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you don't want a chinese algae eater you want a Siamese algae Eater (Crossocheilus siamensis). They are generally much harder to find but they are pretty much the only thing that will eat red algae. Get several of them because they like to school and tend to be more aggressive if kept along. Look them up online before trying to buy them because they are often confused with a Flying Fox.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-09-2006, 08:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tip Oblong. I think i might be onto something regarding this issue let me know what you think ...

My tap water pH is 8.2 ... Tank has been running since may 06. The initial pH was obviously 8.2 ... KH from the tap was 19 degrees. I had been reading here and on other sites that KH around 5 is ok so i figured mine was a little high. Over the course of the last few months my ph was sliding down along with my KH, I didnt think much of it since i was still above the 5 degree KH and Oscars can handle 7-8.2 in the pH department. This algea only kicked up about a month ago (I hadn't bought anymore plants prior to nor since then) the only new additions were my feeder fish (i know that they could have brought the algea in but given the chemically overwhelmed water they seem to be kept in prior to and during sale, i am kinda on the side of no host there). All of this leads me to believe that the beard algea spores(it seems rather complex in nature) were more then likely already in my tank from earlier plant purchases. Is it possible that since my KH and pH have been slowly dropping that i might have gone from an environment inhospital (high pH, high KH) to one that would allow the algea to flourish (median pH, lower KH)?
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-09-2006, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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BTW --- I just finished a 30% w/c and am gonna hold out till saturday to do another (trying to get my pH back to 8 and my KH back up). I also got medieval on the algea and have purged it from every plant except for my broadleafs (they can't handle another pruning).
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