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Addicted enthusiast needing advice on algae issues

1098 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Archaeofish
Hi everyone,

Whoever reads this, I do appreciate it! I will add as much info here as possible.

Little background - I'v been into this hobby for about a year now having only previously kept fish in non planted tanks growing up. I started off recently without knowing anything about keeping plants and was doing it for the fish until about 8 months ago when I found out about proper planted tanks and made the switch. I tried a low tech setup with an inert substrate, no ferts, no CO2 and a random lamp. Learnt the basics from this setup.

Fast forward a few months after a huge amount of research through experimenting, forums, reddit, asking local fish shops etc and I took the leap into a high tech system. I now have the following setup:

- Standard 60cm ( 2 foot ) tank
- Pressurised CO2 running about 1.5 bubbles a second ( drop checker green / blue in the morning and lime green slightly on the yellow side throughout the day. CO2 running from 1pm to 9pm
- 33ppm CO2 during the day ( 3.5dkh & 6.5ph )
- Finnex 24/7 light running on max on a timer from 3pm - 10pm
- Black Earth Premium substrate
- Eheim 2213 with lily pipes ( lot's of flow ) ( I do a rinse every month or so of the filter) ( Normal eheim filter media, crushed coral, activated carbon, Seachem Purigen )
- EI dosing with Lenolax, Natures No Salt, Saltpeter and CSM + B for traces
- 20ppm Nitrates, 2ppm Phosphates, can't get testing kits of Potassium in South Africa
- Heavily planted ( moss, crypts, MC, S.Repens and a lot of stems )
- 50% weekly water change ( and lot's of manual algae removal )
- Dosing excel daily ( purely to help with algae although it has had no effect )

Iv'e been struggling with all kinds of algae but mostly BBA and hair. I was having a huge amount of trouble with Cladophora but after redoing the tank and switching to an active substrate that one is no longer an issue. My algae problems were slightly reduced after switching from the 24/7 mode on the Finnex light and putting it on max on a timer. I also suspended the light from the ceiling and it is now 40cm ( 16 inches ) away from the substrate.

Iv'e upped the CO2 so that the drop checker is almost yellow during the day ( using 4dkh solution ) so I believe that it is spot on. I'm also dosing EI and have got the N and P just right as well. Initially my ph was dropping too low ( shrimp were wiped out ) and added some coral to the filter to try raise the kh a bit. I also add half a teaspoon of baking soda during the weekly water change. It was the death of all my shrimp as well as wanting better results with my plants ( I dream of a beautiful carpeted tank ) that made me start paying attention to my water parameters. This was about 1 month ago and I went out and bought the SERA range of test kits. I now monitor my water parameters quite closely.

I don't believe it is due to the light as I run a 7 hour photoperiod and have it raised quite a bit.

Next steps for me - Iv'e ordered the EI ferts from Aquarium Plant Food UK - Home Page as well as a new diffusor. I know my current ferts are fine but want to use these ones to completely rule it out. My bubble rate is quite high for a 15 gallon tank so I think it is not diffusing very efficiently. This was solved however by cranking up the CO2 slightly to achieve the 30ppm target.

I feel quite lost right now however definitely not giving up as this is part of the journey and will make it even more rewarding when I start winning the battle against algae. I am quite demotivated however as I am putting quite a bit of cash into my tank and doing so much research, setting things up properly and still suffering. My plants are definitely growing, stems in particular however they are all being covered by algae. Can hardly get my MC to carpet.

My plants don't have that luscious look, Getting lot's of leaves breaking off. Tons of hair algae on the moss.

Possible next steps: Increase the light? Decrease the light further ( surely not )? Get an Iron test kit ( could be dosing too much CSM + B? ) I am open to all suggestions. Some pics below of my tank as it stands today.

Thanks in advance.

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idk about the cause of your algae, or how to get rid of it (hydrogen peroxide?). But man that is a nice tank, just had to say!
I have the same problem with BBA and hair algae. Idk how to get rid of either one but I am keeping the hair under control with great success. Every few days or as needed, I swipe through my plants with a toothbrush. It grabs that hair and you can yank it right out. Twirl the toothbrush to where the hair wraps around the brush and jerk it out with a quick movement. If you pull it too slowly, there's a chance that you'll uproot your plants. Or you could hold the substrate down at the base of the plant with your other hand. Either way, it works great! It'll never have the chance to take over again. Hope that helps. :)
Do you have any algae eating livestock?

What livestock is currently in the tank?

It doesn't look like its out of control but rather minor and persistent. I would try adding some otto's or nerite snails if its a community tank. Its extremely difficult to keep a tank algae free without a bit of a cushion these would provide. Just my 2 cents


As I'm sure you know manual removal. From the other post toothbrush works really well. I would like to add to the hydrogen peroxide. If your up to it I would take out the wood covered in bba, spray the algae with hydrogen peroxide and give it a good scrub and rinse thoroughly before putting it back in.

When I used to keep EI dosed tanks with a substrate that was fertile out of the bag I would only dose macros until everything stabilized or I saw signs of micro deficiency.

From what I read micros aren't needed in big amounts like macros so i let the substrate provide the micros till the plants use it all up then start dosing them but that's what I like to do.

I'm not too sure about the lights. I would drop them down a little bit imo. Kinda looks like your plants aren't getting enough light.

Maybe someone can chime in about the lights

Hope this helps

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I have never run a CO2 enriched tank, so take this with a grain of salt, but a couple of things pop out at me.

--In my experience, algae starts to show up when the plant aren't happy. Once you get the plants growing well, algae growth will slow, and with a combination of manual removal, spot treating with excel/H202 and natural die-off, algae will go away. Low level algae is often difficult completely eradicate, but the quantities in your tank are definitely above that level.

--Running carbon on a planted tank is often not recommended as it will strip fertilizers out of the water. Not saying this is your main problem, just something I noticed.

--If you are going to try to use excel to help bring algae under control, use a syringe/dropper, and turn off the filters for half an hour while you do it. Be careful about dosing for sensitive plants or the leaves might die as well. I've noticed this with dwarf sag, but not with anubias, for instance.

--Someone with more experience with CO2-enriched tanks should comment on the lighting, and whether it is too much or too little. For comparison, however, I'll say that I use a Finnex 24/7 on my 29 gallon with no CO2, occasional excel spot treatment, and 1/3-1/2 of the surface covered with floating plants. The light is about 18 inches from the substrate, and I run it at about 80% for about 8 hours. I am sometimes tempted to switch it to 24/7 mode because I think it would look cooler, but I've got such a nice balance going that I don't want to throw something out of whack.
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