New Pics! - of my 20 gallon PlantedTank... slight algae problems - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 05:35 AM Thread Starter
 
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New Pics! - of my 20 gallon PlantedTank... slight algae problems

Hello,
I started a planted tank about a month ago. I cycled it about a week with plants only and then started adding fish. So far the fish and plants are healthy (aside from the 1 gourami I lost), but my algae problem has not been clearing up at all after a few weeks.

Here's my tank setup:
20 gallon glass tank
dual satellite 2x65watt compact fluorescents. One bulb is daylight 6700/10k combo, the other is actinic (I know its not beneficial, but it looks nice!)
HOB Biowheel filter with carbon insert.
Using yeast reaction for C02 injection through a bubbler plate.

Subtrate:
It's about 50% flourite mixed in with a fine gravel mix, and then a few few larger gravel chunks mixed in.

Plants:
2x wisteria
1x Hornwort
3x Amazon Sword (used to be 1, but I split it up)
2x teardrop
1x micro sword
2x water sprite

Fish
3x dwarf gourami (one is of the bright blue variety)
3x neon tetras
1x ghost catfish
1x pleco
4x ghost shrimp

Water paramaters:
pH: 7
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 10-20
gH: ~120
dKH: 7-8

I have what looks like hair algae starting to form a coating on all my plants. The algae is now about 1/4" long, and its very fine, so fine that it looks blurry or slimey until you get very close.

So far I've been scraping the worst of it off with my fingers, but it's no longer coming off all the way on most plants, leaving a dark stain behind. My amazon swords are affected most by it, the leaves are a bit yellowish on the edges, and very feint looking. The tips of the wisteria leaves are also very dark green and rotten looking, even after scraping off the algae (which grows right back).

Is there anything in particular I should start testing for that I could be missing? My plants are growing like crazy (especially the hornwort and teardrop!!!), and most look healthy except the amazon swords. When first added the water sprite, most of it died away by rotting just above the roots, but long tender shoots had already grown to replace the dead stuff. You can see one of these shoots popping up behind the teardrop on the right in the picture.

I want to add more of the ghost shrimp, and some amount of algae eaters to help keep my plants clean. What do you guys recommend?

Thanks!
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Last edited by RyanBrucks; 10-20-2007 at 06:33 PM.
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 12:52 PM
 
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Nice looking tank! It's hard to see any kind of algae from the picture, so at least it's still looking good from afar.

I'd guess that your algae is due to either/both the "new tank syndrome" and also nutrient imbalances.

Every time I set up a new tank, no matter how hard I try, there is an algae outbreak or two (or three). I've always chalked it up to the biological side of things coming into balance. The tank/filter/gravel/etc is still growing the bacteria needed to keep the tank in balance, so meanwhile algae is able to take hold and establish itself.

The same applies for nutrient imbalances. If the plants don't have just the right balance of nutrients to grow, algae is able to take advantage of all that light and get established. 65w is a lot of light for a 20g tank, and the growth is going to be pushed hard. In order to keep up, the plants need the proper proportions of co2, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and "trace" nutrients like Iron. There are a multitude others, but they are rarely the limiters of growth. You don't mention using any ferts other than DIY co2, so I have to assume you are running low on AT LEAST the traces like Iron, and probably all of the other ferts too.

First, I would figure out how you are gonna feed the plants the appropriate nutrients. This would involve making sure you have plenty of co2 in there. How many bubbles per second do you have floating up that ladder?? You should be able to keep up with DIY co2 for a 20g, but it's definitely a PITA. To help with learning about nutrients, I'd visit Rex's website (rexgrigg.com).

Speaking of co2, I'd be willing to bet that your biowheel is removing the majority of it from the water column. Those things are designed for good gas exchange, which is what you DON'T want in a co2-injected planted tank.

Second, I would get a cleanup crew like you suggested yourself. I've always stuck with Otoclinius cats and they have never served me wrong.

Good luck!
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 04:16 PM
 
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For hair algae, I finally got rid of mine by getting a pressurized CO2 setup, which is pretty necessary from everything I've read online for a tank the size of mine or larger. For a 20G it's probably not necessary to go with pressurized CO2, but as esarkipato said, the Biowheel is probably negating any positive effects you might get from a DIY CO2 setup. A canister setup from Eheim or Fluval would be a better bet for you with heavy light and low CO2 injection.

My dad gets plants to grow relatively well, and relatively algae free in his 20G without any CO2, but he's got a wimpy 10 or 15W fluorescent over the tank right now. Your heavy lighting has got to be contributing significantly right now to your algae issues. For my larger tank, I even notice a difference with my two 94W 6700K bulbs if I simply run only one of them for a week. I get no new algae growth, and existing algae starts to slightly recede. (I'm battling the last of my algae problems, BBA, right now. I may need to get a couple Otto's myself one of these days to finish off the majority of my BBA.)
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
 
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thanks for the comments and suggestions.

I'll post some more closeup pics of the plants and fish later tonight!

Do you think I should just remove the biowheel from the filter? It still has 1 carbon insert (plus an extra carbon insert, to create a biological filter ready for QT tanks).

And I am dosing my tank with only 2 things regularly:
1. Flourish excel... I add about 1/2 capful every other day roughly.

2 Iron supplement. I don't have the exact ingredients right now, but I can post back with what it contains later tonight also.

A few weeks ago I used alkalinity buffer (I think its from seachem), since my dKH used to be only 3 degrees.

Could by actinic bulb be making algae worse? Right now I am running actinic for ~10 hours, and daylight for ~6 hours (LFS told me to start with lower time for main bulb and slowly increase).

I might try removing actinic for now and increasing daylight bulb duration to 8 hours. Thoughts?

"How many bubbles per second do you have floating up that ladder?? You should be able to keep up with DIY co2 for a 20g, but it's definitely a PITA. To help with learning about nutrients, I'd visit Rex's website (rexgrigg.com)."

The bubble ladder usually has about 3-5 bubbles climbing it at any given time, and I'd guess that a bubble gets made every few seconds.

I scanned the rex site last night, and saw that he says testing for iron is useless????? This is the only thing I've been dosing with so far. more details later!


thanks,
Ryan
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanBrucks View Post
thanks for the comments and suggestions.

I'll post some more closeup pics of the plants and fish later tonight!

Do you think I should just remove the biowheel from the filter? It still has 1 carbon insert (plus an extra carbon insert, to create a biological filter ready for QT tanks).
read the posts on pages 2 and 3 It should help with your current configuration regarding DIY Co2 working with HOB filters, DIY mixture, Diffusion methods 'important', Photo-period and dosing routine. Yes get rid of the Carbon media, if anything use Purigrn it has little or no impact on ferts. The tank shown is using DIY co2, much higer WPG and is actually my test tank but you get the idea.


Quote:
And I am dosing my tank with only 2 things regularly:
1. Flourish excel... I add about 1/2 capful every other day roughly.

2 Iron supplement. I don't have the exact ingredients right now, but I can post back with what it contains later tonight also.
See above reply for dosing above or read here in its entirety to learn what ferts to use, where to purchase & when to dose ferts as well as other helpful information.

Quote:
A few weeks ago I used alkalinity buffer (I think its from seachem), since my dKH used to be only 3 degrees.
This is not necessary and is fine for your plants....mine is 0~1dKH

Quote:
Could by actinic bulb be making algae worse? Right now I am running actinic for ~10 hours, and daylight for ~6 hours (LFS told me to start with lower time for main bulb and slowly increase).
Get a DC 'drop checker' to verify proper Co2 range right now it's only guess work and if diffusion method is no good you will have algae issues 'which is more likely the culprit' and start a better fert routine after.

Quote:
I might try removing actinic for now and increasing daylight bulb duration to 8 hours. Thoughts?
Get rid of the actinic. No...what you want to do is lower your photo period or WPG so I would leave it a 6hrs only no more until you figure out you Co2.


Quote:
"How many bubbles per second do you have floating up that ladder?? You should be able to keep up with DIY co2 for a 20g, but it's definitely a PITA. To help with learning about nutrients, I'd visit Rex's website (rexgrigg.com)."

The bubble ladder usually has about 3-5 bubbles climbing it at any given time, and I'd guess that a bubble gets made every few seconds.

I scanned the rex site last night, and saw that he says testing for iron is useless????? This is the only thing I've been dosing with so far. more details later!


thanks,
Ryan

Read the first link for ideas that work to get and maintain proper Co2 levels Co2. @ that light level it is very important but you will also have to start a better dosing routine cause you will be kick starting your plants. Everything you need is in those links...read and good luck!


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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 08:19 PM
 
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I don't think it's utterly necessary to remove the actinic lighting. I've never had problems with it, but I've never had 65 watts of it for 2 hours a day ALONE. Maybe if you just have them on during the 6 hours of regular lighting...

Let's drive home the point: at that lighting, the co2 needs to be upped. At the stage of co2 supplementation you are at, the lighting should be reduced if possible.

Co2 can be upped by 1. remove biowheel & minimize surface turbulence, 2. add another bottle of mixture, 3. optimize the mixture, 4. improve the diffuser to an "active diffuser".
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
 
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wow thanks for the detailed info.
Tonight when i get some free time I will eagerly scour the threads you linked.

But for clarification, you suggested replacing carbon with "Purigrn"
Is that a typo, I couldn't find any filter material named that, or by trying to un-typo it

I have a few big sheets of dark blue foam, not sure what exact kind it is. The texutre has lots of strands, more like steel wool than 'typical' foam... is that stuff good?

It's what i've been using for the QT when dosing medications. Funny that I never thought carbon would also absorb fertilizers in the same harmful way.
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 09:46 PM
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http://www.seachem.com/products/prod...s/Purigen.html

This stuff is not cheap, but it's rechargable.
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-20-2007, 01:12 AM Thread Starter
 
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Ok...
I turned off actinics, left daylight at 6 hours, removed the biowheel (actually dropped it into my newly refilled QT floating in the water haha).

I ordered some purigen and a redsea drop checker. When I get it, I'll slowly add the purigen, and after a few weeks remove the carbon.


I also added 6 ghost shrimp, for a total of 10 These guys seem busy keeping the algae demons at bay for now. Not much to do now except wait. I'll keep you guys posted.

ps. I was going to take a bunch of pictures for you guys, but the camera is in dire need of recharging. maybe tomorrow!

Thanks,
Ryan
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-20-2007, 06:29 PM Thread Starter
 
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MORE PICS:

1. amazon swords. The algae is worst on these for some reason (maybe because I scrape the algae with my fingers, 'pruning' it for thicker growth?)
Notice discoloration. More evident in others.

2. a dead coral I have in my tank (boiled it first etc). It's got some pretty long hair algae, but this thing is easy to clean by hand.

3. Gourami!!!! FEAR HIM!

4. O [censored][censored][censored][censored], 2 GOURAMIS!!!!

5. Tetras, with teadrop, wisteria and hornwort background. For some reason these plants are not as effected by algae (the shrimp pay special attention to hornwort and teardrops).

6. A ghost shrmp hard at work cleaning the hortwort and back glass a the same time with different arms. This guy is really coordinated!

7. shows my bubble dispenser (and a bit of the ghost cat!). It's currently doing a bubble every ~7 seconds and there are always several bubbles of different size making their way up the ladder.

8. ghost shrimp communicating with buddy (1 claw visible on left).

9. Shows the rest of the hiding shrimp cleaning the stalks of my amazon swords.

Thats it for now! I tried to get a pleco shot, but he was very shy and ran away to hide.
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-20-2007, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
 
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pics 6-9 since max of 5
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-20-2007, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
 
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Oh and I received the strangest piece of advice from my LFS yesterday.

He said to switch to an alternating light schedule... 4 hours on, 4 hours off, 4 hours on, 4 hours off etc. He said that aquatic plants can adapt to different photoperiods, but algae cannot.

I've never heard anything like that, and it even sounds foolish to me. Has anybody heard of this method of reducing algae?
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-20-2007, 09:22 PM
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Which LFS was that? I come to Cary and Raleigh quite often.

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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-20-2007, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
 
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haha ok you got me, it was petsmart. not my LFS of choice, but the LFS I like (Fish World NC) is a bit of a drive, so sometimes i get supplies and stuff at petsmart :P
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-25-2007, 06:53 AM Thread Starter
 
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I got my redsea co2 indicator.

it told me to mix 1ml of aquarium water, but instead I used distilled water, and added sodium bicarbonate to achieve a kDH of as close to 4.0 as possible (or rather... creating a solution with WAY too much kDH, and diliting it by random guessing

It's reading a definite, dark blue

I've been running without the biowheel for about a week. the yeast co2 is still bubbling pretty good. Is there a better way to diffuse the bubbles? I've seen some kind of co2 diffuser plates, but wasn'ts sure if they are for yeast systems or only injection.

is there anything else I can do to get co2 in there, besides upgrading to a full injection system?

The algae seems to have gotten a little better over the last week though. Not gone or anything, but lessend. My hornwort is growing like nuts, I have to cut it once a week because it will be hanging over the surface of the water.

Thanks,
Ryan
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