Tank: measures 36L x 18W x 18H = 50 gallons.
Filters: Aquaclear 70 HOB with sponge, bio media and emerged plants in a top sponge, Aquaclear 70 powerhead with a sponge (added this week)
Lighting: 24" single tube on a timer just for light
PH is 7, NH3 is 0, Nitrites 0 and Nitrates between 5 and 10 ppm
The tank has been running for a bit over 2 years and once had some common aquatic plants (unknown sorry). The store i go to told me that since i had plants, no need to change water. After 6 months or so, i ended up with crazy blue green and hair algae.
I removed my Solar Xtreme 39x4 t5 lights with 10k bulbs and have been doing weekly 15-20 gallon water changes. If i miss one water change, i get algae.
I believe my tank is over stocked: currently have a peacock eel, 2 clown loaches, a horseface loach, 4 buenos aires tetras, some unknown opaque white tetra, and an albino bushy pleco. I also think that feeding the eel blood worms is creating too much waste in my tank.
My goal is to eventually have a fairly low maintenance planted tank with some emerged plants growing on rafts, out of the hob, submerged plants and shrimp, snails and smaller schooling fish.
What are some steps that I can take to get there? Any suggestions on filtration (that hopefully incorporate my current equipment), I don't think i'm quite ready for c02, could I run a quad T5 without c02
Could you please post a picture of the front of the tank, and another good shot of some substrate? I think a pic helps me to get a "feel" for the tank.
So I found a calculator and found out you have a 50 gallon. If you think you're overstocked then I'll take your word for it. I suspect you need more plants and maybe the other light, but with only 2 bulbs going.
What kind of algae do you get when you miss a water change? If one water change does it, you may be on the edge. One of the causes of Blue-green algae is too much dissolved organic carbon. I think that would go along with overstocking.
So, without looking at a pic of the tank, you can get more plants - maybe faster growing ones like stems, plant the heck out of them, and try to keep the tank running cleaner - clip dead cleaves, don't overfeed - in fact, underfeed once a day, maybe get some Malaysian Trumpet Snails and Ramshorn snails, and maybe some corys if you can part with an existing fish.
Or maybe you don't need any more plants - can't tell without looking at the picture. Maybe something else will come to mind when I see it. Also, clean the filter sponges once a week or more if you want to get that junk out of the system.