are platys effective at removing algae from plants? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
 
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are platys effective at removing algae from plants?

Hi all,

I recently set up a 12 gallon tank with a bunch of plants. It had 2 small danios and 1 guppy in it. Then the algae started. The algae that concerns me the most right now is a thread/hair type algae on the leaves of most plants.

I have been trying to find an oto at a LFS with no luck yet. My wife was really insistent she wanted a few more small, colorful fish so we picked up 3 platys.

At first I thought they were eating the plants, but upon closer inspection they were just pulling the algae off the leaves. SWEET! Didn't know they would do that. To make things even better the 2 danios and 1 guppy that previously showed no interest in the algae seemed to 'learn' from the platys and began picking at it also.

Now my question: In your experience how good are the platys at controlling hair/thread (green stuff) on plant leaves? I have 7 plants in a 12 gallon with 3 platys. Think this will be enough or should I continue to hunt for an oto or perhaps something else (flying fox?)?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 10:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by justaguy2 View Post
Hi all,

I recently set up a 12 gallon tank with a bunch of plants. It had 2 small danios and 1 guppy in it. Then the algae started. The algae that concerns me the most right now is a thread/hair type algae on the leaves of most plants.

I have been trying to find an oto at a LFS with no luck yet. My wife was really insistent she wanted a few more small, colorful fish so we picked up 3 platys.

At first I thought they were eating the plants, but upon closer inspection they were just pulling the algae off the leaves. SWEET! Didn't know they would do that. To make things even better the 2 danios and 1 guppy that previously showed no interest in the algae seemed to 'learn' from the platys and began picking at it also.

Now my question: In your experience how good are the platys at controlling hair/thread (green stuff) on plant leaves? I have 7 plants in a 12 gallon with 3 platys. Think this will be enough or should I continue to hunt for an oto or perhaps something else (flying fox?)?
Not a flying fox. They get to big.

Platys can be good or useless. It depends on the platys. Just see if it works for you. My guess is no.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 10:34 PM
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Platys, mollies, and rosy barbs have been known to pick at algae. But, they are not really algae eaters. Otos would be your best bet for a 12 gallon. However, you have hair/thread algae, which otos are not really known for eating. Your best bet is manual removal (use an old toothbrush and twirl it around, works great), combined with spot treating with excel. The most important thing is that you address the algae at it's source. Algae eaters, excel, and manual removal are all band-aids. Somewhere, you have a nutrient imbalance, or perhaps too much light, or not enough CO2. If you don't fix this, it will come back.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
 
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Platys, mollies, and rosy barbs have been known to pick at algae. But, they are not really algae eaters. Otos would be your best bet for a 12 gallon. However, you have hair/thread algae, which otos are not really known for eating. Your best bet is manual removal (use an old toothbrush and twirl it around, works great), combined with spot treating with excel. The most important thing is that you address the algae at it's source. Algae eaters, excel, and manual removal are all band-aids. Somewhere, you have a nutrient imbalance, or perhaps too much light, or not enough CO2. If you don't fix this, it will come back.
Well, I use RO/DI water (have my own filter) and it tests at 0 TDS so the water isn't providing nutrients. I have a single 27w compact floro over the 12 gallon (dual)6700/10k) for 2.25 watts per gallon. I do not add CO2, the idea is to have a low tech tank. All the plants are easy, low/mid light plants.

I have not used Excel nor have I added any fertilizers except one time and this was after the algae appeared. Nitrates test at around 5-10ppm according to my API test kit.

The only source of nutrients would be the 6 small fish and the food I feed them. I feed them a small amount daily (it's all gone within 30 seconds)

I think I will add an Oto to see what it does, but I have heard they aren't real fond of the hair algae as well. Is there a peaceful algae eater I could buy small to deal with the algae on the plants and trade it in when it gets larger? I don't want any plecos as they have never been anything but problems for me in the past. A guy at one LFS recommended the flying fox over the oto for the hair algae on plants. By flying fox I mean Crossocheilus siamensis. The common name seems to be applied to at least a couple similar looking fish. I understand it grows to 5", but I can get them tiny. Anything better?
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 01:02 AM
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SAE do get big, I have one that is about the size of a hot dog, like a ballpark frank, not those skinny little Nathans. It is seriously huge.

I'll add some correlation to fish learning to eat algae. I recently added two juvenile blue Gouramis to my 75, they immediately took to eating the hair algae, not soon afterward the Angelfish started doing it and the old fully grown Gourami picked up the habit too. My SAE are absolutely worthless for hair algae, as are Otos. Otos are great for brown diatom and green dust (if you have an army of them). SAE work wonders on BBA, but otherwise they leave most everything else alone. My SAEs are fat, old, and lazy though.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 01:16 AM
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If you starve them, many fish will pick at algae. You could try flag fish, but they have been known to be slightly aggressive sometimes. What fish do you have in there?

Having 0 TDS and no traces is not necessarily a good thing. For one thing, it's quite difficult to attain a perfect reading of 0, make sure your meter is good. The other thing is that if you have no traces in your water at all, and your fish are providing some waste, then you have excess nutrients. Fish will not provide trace nutrients, and those are necessary for plants to grow. If plants don't have traces, then they cannot use the fish waste, but the algae can. The other thing is (and this is going by the wpg rule, not that it is a good rule), with the amount of light you have, your tank is not really low light/low tech. How long is your photoperiod? Try reducing it a little, and adding a little DIY CO2.

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 02:01 AM Thread Starter
 
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If you starve them, many fish will pick at algae. You could try flag fish, but they have been known to be slightly aggressive sometimes. What fish do you have in there?
2 danios, 1 guppy, 3 platys, none larger than 1.5"

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Having 0 TDS and no traces is not necessarily a good thing. For one thing, it's quite difficult to attain a perfect reading of 0, make sure your meter is good. The other thing is that if you have no traces in your water at all, and your fish are providing some waste, then you have excess nutrients. Fish will not provide trace nutrients, and those are necessary for plants to grow. If plants don't have traces, then they cannot use the fish waste, but the algae can.
I am wondering about that. I don't really know what nutrients come out of fish poop, but I feed the fish once per day with a variety of food which I believe would provide the trace nutrients. I feed a couple different flake foods, tubiflex worms and a frozen preparation for omnivores. I also fed the tank 1 ml of Dyna-Grow which is a hydroponic fert, but I only did it once as I noticed it had .005% copper in it and I don't want copper accumulating. It has all trace nutrients though.

I will likely pick up some flouish trace and flourish excel before too long and see how it goes, but the tank is only a couple weeks old so I want to give it some time so I have a valid comparison.

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The other thing is (and this is going by the wpg rule, not that it is a good rule), with the amount of light you have, your tank is not really low light/low tech. How long is your photoperiod? Try reducing it a little, and adding a little DIY CO2.
I considered using both bulbs for 54 watts (4.5 w/gal), but knew I would have to use CO2 and I really don't want the hassle. The tank comes with a hood with CF lighting built in so I have to use either 1 or both bulbs. I don't mind dosing excel every once in awhile, but I really want this to become a low maintenance tank where I just feed the fish once per day and everything takes care of itself.

I think the tank is just too new to not have an algae issue at this point. It's not terrible, I just thought maybe there was a decent algae eater for eating the hair algae off plants that wouldn't get to be a foot long or suck the life out of my community fish.

Would a mess of shrimp be a better option?
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 03:43 AM
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Some people on this forum believe that Flourish Trace is basically water, since the concentrations are so low. You would be better off with regular Flourish.

Shrimp might eat some of it, if you don't feed very much. Shrimp like fish food too.

I think you should be able to use your 27 watts without CO2, but something is probably imbalanced right now. I used to use a 27w lights of america desk lamp over one of my 10g's. What kind of plants do you have in there right now? It might be a good idea to use some fast growers for a while.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 04:48 AM Thread Starter
 
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Some people on this forum believe that Flourish Trace is basically water, since the concentrations are so low. You would be better off with regular Flourish.
I have flourish and flourish excel on order.

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Shrimp might eat some of it, if you don't feed very much. Shrimp like fish food too.
I love shrimp and will undoubtedly add some as time goes on. To the extent they eat algae, great.

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I think you should be able to use your 27 watts without CO2, but something is probably imbalanced right now. I used to use a 27w lights of america desk lamp over one of my 10g's. What kind of plants do you have in there right now? It might be a good idea to use some fast growers for a while.
I really don't know yet. I bought the plants based upon color and texture and form at a LFS that just labeled them all as assorted. I recognize Java Fern and an Anubis, but that's about it. Another is a grass like plant that I assume will fill in the substrate over time. I swear other than ordering online and paying for shipping there is nowhere decent to buy plants around me. The one store that has lots of plants with names also has invasive snails covering the tanks.

For my reef tank nothing has come from a LFS including the tank, I get it all online. I didn't realize how hard it would be to get good stuff for fresh water locally as well.

While I like the look of the tank right now, I am not at all opposed to ordering plants by name online and replacing what I have. Sooooo sick of the crap at the LFS.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 04:58 AM
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Check out the swap and shop on this forum, the quality of plants I have received from other hobbyists has always been better than any I have seen in stores (with maybe 1 or 2 exceptions).

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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 07:58 AM
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my platys are algae eating machines on my barteri, Im possitive that they clean up more than my pleco and corys combined. and i bought one to see if a disease had cleared in my tank liked them so well bought two more now Im setting up a breeder tank for them going nuts and keeping nasty looking brown powdery stuff of all anubia that I have
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 08:28 AM
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I just got 3 red wag platties today for $1.99 total!

They're in my guppy tank right now. There's no visible algae in the tank so I don't know if they eat algae. However, I saw them pick at the plants, so that's a good sign.

I would say they're one of my favorite fish now--super hardy, interesting behaviour and nice to look at.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 05:01 PM
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I wouldn't count on any fish to eat algae except brown algae...
Try to get the nutrients and CO2 thing resolved.

Although, I have a rubber mouth pleco, C. sp1, that graze on hair & fuzz algae.. He's too rough though, damaging the plants. I hear bristle nose are good at that too.


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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
 
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I guess I don't understand how to get nutrients and CO2 resolved as I have no means of measuring either.

Is there a CO2 test kit? I guess I was hoping I could just use fish food and poop as fertilizer for the plants and skip CO2 as I don't have high light/fussy plants and don't care about rapid plant growth.

I have both flourish and excel on order so I can use them if need be, but don't really understand how to best use them to combat algae.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 07:21 PM
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I suggest that you read Rex Grigg's website: http://www.rexgrigg.com

Even if you don't want fast plant growth, your plants may try to grow fast anyway with the light you have provided. If they use up all the CO2 in the water, and leave other excess nutrients, then you will get an algae problem. How long do you run your lights?

Flourish Excel is a source of carbon. It is not CO2, but CO2 is there to provide a source of carbon as a nutrient for plants. Excel is a compound in some kind of intermediate step of photosynthesis. It is also mixed in with something that can act as an algaecide. It should be noted that not all plants can use this kind of carbon, and some plants are sensitive to the algaecide, particularly vals.

Flourish is mainly a source of trace nutrients. Think of these as plant vitamins. These might include iron, magnesium, copper, among other things.

Fish food and poop provide mostly NPK (and may not provide enough K), also known as macronutrients. Think of these as plant food.

So, light is your growth driver. The more light, the more growth. Even if you don't want the plants to, if you give them the light, they will try to grow. The next thing that limits growth is CO2. If you have enough CO2, only then will your plants be able to use the fish waste and trace nutrients. However, if you don't have enough macronutrients, you can also have an algae problem. Just remember that plants are pickier than algae. If they are missing one thing, then they can't use the others. Algae can use things one at a time.

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