SeaChem Flourish Overdose Blues - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-10-2004, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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I think I should get paid for the tank I keep, or at least have it declared a "national resource of significant scientific interest" . Why? Because I grow every kind of algae known to aquarists in this tank of mine in some quantity.

All is good, however. We are only talking a few strands/clumps/spots here and there. Last Saturday, however, I blew it.

I'm not very good at this hobby. I only started a few months ago. Luckily, however, I'm eager and willing to learn. And, by-and-large, there is a lot of good information on the net that is helpful to newbies like me. But it gets quite confusing at times.

One of the most talked about strategies of controlling algae is that which promotes the PMDD routine. It made sense to me, and I decided to start mimicking the experts. Over a period of a week, I eliminated excess phosphates (dosed with Alum), and raised NO3 and K levels to 5-10 ppm and 10-20 ppm respectively. Then I read that, at these macro nutrient levels, dosing 2-3 times the recommended Flourish amount should be safe (and desired). So last Saturday, after a 25% water change, I dosed the NO3, K, and one drop of Sodium Phosphate (Fleet Enema) in the change water, together with a whopping 5 mL of Flourish (the entire weekly recommended dose). Within hours, I had green beard algae spreading like fire in a dry forest. I had other kinds of algae growing too, but green beard algae was dominant. It has been slowly overtaking my tank ever since. The cleanup crew of 5 Otos and 3 SAE cannot keep up (also also have 1 glass shrimp and 3 platys, all of which are algae eaters).

So was it the iron, or was it the phosphate?

I have read several reports on the internet of people experiencing similar blooms of green beard algae due to an overdose of iron (as in Flourish)! Any similar experiences?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-11-2004, 03:00 PM
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What size is your tank? lighting? CO2? heavily planted?

It is hard to tell what is causing your outbreak. I have learned that you need to take it really slow with ferts. You need to only dose amounts that your plants can take up pretty quickly. Dosing 10ppm NO3 is ok only if your plants can use it. If the stuff stays in the water column too long then algae will start to use it. If stuff is growing really well then you may not need to add much at all. You may want to start at 2.5ppm nitrate then wait a few days and test. If the plants have consumed it all then add a little more. Same for the micros. Start slowly with 2.5mm or less and look for results.

You may want to do some large water changes to reset everything and give it another go.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-11-2004, 03:19 PM
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How much Iron did you dose? I dose 2mL midweek on a 18T. One drop of Po4? I take the dispenser from the flourish and dose 2/3 mL into a 18T. Don't give up. I've been doing it for a year and still have problems figuring out some tanks.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-11-2004, 03:40 PM
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yes, we need some specs on tank size, lighting, and CO2 injection.

In my experience, beard algae (1/4" long, thick haired stuff) is usually an overdose of phosphates. Too much iron typically gives you hair algae (2-4" long, thin, thread like strands).

Normal flourish doesn't contain a terribly high amount of iron. I use flourish as a trace mix in my 75, usually dosing a capful a few times a week, in addition to 2mL of Flourish Iron, and nitrate/phosphate when needed. If you don't have a lot of plants and a lot of light, and CO2, you can't dump in as much fert as, say, my tank setup: 3wpg, CO2, lots of plants.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-11-2004, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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My tank specs:

Size: 25 gallons (30 x 12 x 16)
Light: 4x23-CF-6500 k ~ 3.7 WPG
Filter: Eheim 2213 / spray bar
substrate : 2.5" 100% Fluorite

Temp: 79-81 F
gH : 3-4 dH (achieved by adding CaCO3 to tap water)
kH : 3-4 dkH (achieved by adding NaHCO3 to tap water)
pH : 6.8-6.6 (through CO2 injection)
CO2: DIY injected into filter intake

NO3 : 5 -10 ppm by adding KNO3
K+ : 10+ ppm by adding KNO3 & KCl
PO4 : minimal dosing of Na3PO4 (one drop sodium phosphate/fleet enema)
SC Flourish : ~ 0.75 - 1.0 mL daily


- Limnophila sessiliflora (Asian Ambulia)
- Ludwigia repens
- Echinodorus osiris (a sword)
- Nymphaea lotus zenkeri (tiger lotus)
- Nymphoides aquatica (banana plant)
- Bacopa monnieri (moneywort)
- Vallisneria spiralis (italian val)
- Vallisneria sp. 'Contortionist' (corckscrew val)
- Microsorum pteropus (java fern)
- Anubias barteri
- Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal plant)
- Eleocharis acicularis (dwarf hairgrass)
- 2 more plants I'm yet to identify

fish, etc :

6 x otosinclus
3 x SAE
4 x neon tetra
2 x American-flag fish
1 x glass shrimp
tiny unwanted snails

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-11-2004, 08:17 PM
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I would pack about twice as much plants in there. Get plants like Rotola indica, that will help establish the tank. I didn't know they made 4x23-CF? Are you sure they are not 13 watt?
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-11-2004, 08:51 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you. These are the two plants I was trying to identify:
- Rotala indica, and
- Rotala spec. 'Green'

I already have them in the tank

The light is a DIY canopy using the new Philips Marathon 6500K 'screw' light bulb (they are not tubes, but rather integrated ballast screw in - just like the regular incandescent bulb). Each bulb is 23 watts (equivalent to 90 watts or something like this).
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-11-2004, 09:10 PM
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Nemo this is what i do when starting a planted tank. Ii plant alot of fast growing plants like wisteria, Hygro polysperma, etc. to out-compete the algae for nutrients. During this early stage i won't dose any ferts. These plants will later be pulled out when the algae is under control. I replace them with plants that i really wanted in the first place. Then and only then do i start to dose ferts.
This is probably not the correct way of doing this but it works for me. After about the second month i'll have so much algae that its disturbing. Then the algae slowly starts to fade away until it's hardly noticable. My algae eating fish take it from there. IMO a newly started tank needs to balance itself out before i start to use ferts.
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