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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This has been copied from a response I placed on a thread on the general forum

I have a major problem with this brown/black algae all over the leaves of my plants (especially the ones at the bottom of the tank)

The leaves start of well, nice and green and healthy after a few weeks they
start to get the covering until they are completely covered.
My tank has been up and running for 2 years now and still getting the problems.

Tank Details
190L tank (but probably about 160L water in the tank with substrate, wood etc)
2 x 55W AH Supply Bright Kit
JBL CO2

All water parameters are within what is recommended and I'm dosing as the EI
recommendations.

Plants are growing really well but always had this problem

I have an internal filter (because it was built in when I got the tank) and am using carbon sponge along with course and fine sponges. Someone mentioned that you shouldn't use carbin filters in a planted tank ? Anyone have any views on this.

I do know the phosphate content of my water supply is sky high
It's well off the scale of the test kits and I've checked with my local
water company and this is in line with what they put in the supply

Please help
 

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hey im having the same problem...check out my thread "I got crap on my plants" in the algae section.
 

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Have you tried lowering your phosphate levels? It really helped me get rid of BGA/cyanobacteria. Perhaps it will help with this type of algae also.

Just do 30% water changes every other day and test your phosphate levels until they are much lower.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The trouble is that the Phosphate is in the tap water
(something about stopping old pipes corroding from the water company)
So I'd have to use RO or get something to remove phosphate from the tank competely unless there is a way to do this just on the water I add ??

Any ideas
 

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I was referring to spot treating the areas with excel or hydrogen peroxide every day. It will help kill the algae. Also get a school of ottos. They will definitely help.
 

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Gazk - I'm having my own diatom issues (see Rach's "Crap on my plants" thread), but excess PO4 is not the issue. In fact adding a little extra PO4 has helped me get rid of brown algae (technical name escapes me right now).

Limiting PO4 as a method of controlling algae is an assumption thats been around forever but its a false assumption. This is one of my favorite threads that discusses this. But I don't believe everything I read as none of us should - I've tried lowering my phosphate levels and I've tried raising my phosphate levels with all other conditions being virtually the same. I've got to say that lower phosphate levels always bring me grief.

That being said... I've had other problems in my tank which some folks with more experience think may be from Magnesium deficiency... In addition to that, my plants just aren't growing as fast as they would at optimal rates.

My guess is that the plants are hungry for something I'm not giving them - or if I am giving it to them, there is something blocking their intake... So because the plants aren't growing fast, this black crap is able to smother a few of my plants... :(

I got the ottos and I'd like to think they are helping... Also - Rach, when you spot treat everyday, do you actually stick the Qtip in the tank when its full or do you drain to half, and then do it?
 

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all i do to spot treat is i get a syringe and squirt the excel on it....
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Is the spot treatment working ?

The problem I have is this is a temporary solution.
There has to be some reason why this stuff is there and no-one seems to know what causes it.

I don't want to go through the daily spot treating and then as soon as I
have stopped the stuff comes back
 

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well i havent spot treated in like two weeks and it seems to be slowly clearing up. I did raise my phosphate dosing just a little bit so i dont know if that is the contribitor. But it is strange that noone seems to know what causes this.
 

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Sorry to Hijack this thread, but I found this interesting article
http://www.skepticalaquarist.com/docs/algae/diatoms.shtml
that may shed some light on what causes diatoms and what to do about them. It seems that diatoms feed off silicates in the water and if the supply of silicates runs out, then they dwindle. The 5 gallon experimental tank that I set up has just completed cycling and not surprisingly, I am noticing the breakout of diatoms. I plant to add otos as the first inhabitants in a weeks time to see if they make a dent in the problem.

I previously had a 20 gallon tank that had diatoms growing heavily. Brown sheets of it literally covered every part of the aquarium. At that time I only had a single severum cichlid and firemouth in it. I gave these away and repopulated the tank. I started with a Black Molly and a crew of 4 otos and did not feed them. The Black Molly began pecking away at the algae and devouring it. The otos also began feeding off the diatoms but at a much slower rate. It took 7 weeks(I did not feed the molly or otos) before there was a noticeable difference in the aquarium clearing up.

Regards
 

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Sorry to Hijack this thread, but I found this interesting article
http://www.skepticalaquarist.com/docs/algae/diatoms.shtml
that may shed some light on what causes diatoms and what to do about them. It seems that diatoms feed off silicates in the water and if the supply of silicates runs out, then they dwindle.
Interesting article! Although I've i'm not sure that this algae we're talking about is really diatoms... I've gotten rid of what I assumed to be diatoms by raising the po4 levels... This looks different from diatoms, but I'm not sure what it is... See here:



And this one:


puzzling...

Incidentally most of the black stuff has gone away since I did more water changes and reduced the photoperiod to 8 hours... I think slowing things down always helps, when i'm trying to figure out whats going on.

That being said its still there and I HATE IT!! Wish I knew what it was....


Gazk - Does this resemble what you have?
 

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i cant see the pictures
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi
Daniel - I can't see those pictures can you post again please ?

I have reduced my phosphate right down using some filter addition that takes it out of the water. It was right off the scale but is now down about 1ppm
That's the trouble all or nothing without RO.
Not convinced this is going to help anyway as most of the threads seem to think that the phosphate link is a myth.

I read an intersting article yesterday that put forward the idea that if you have a lot of plants that take nurishment from the substrate (swords etc) and not enough stem plants then the nutirents in the water have nowhere to go and you start getting this black/brown algaew on your plants.

I have noticed that this stuff is mainly on my swords and other slow growing root plants and not on my stem plants.

Anybody got any comments on that ?
 

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Hi
Daniel - I can't see those pictures can you post again please ?
Sorry about those pics - I think I fixed them now... Its amazing what they look like now though - I'll post new pics soon.

I have reduced my phosphate right down using some filter addition that takes it out of the water. It was right off the scale but is now down about 1ppm
That's the trouble all or nothing without RO.
Not convinced this is going to help anyway as most of the threads seem to think that the phosphate link is a myth.
Well it used to be the gospel. From what I understand and recollect, the Sears-Conlin paper suggested that PO4 is the nutrient that, if properly controlled, will allow an aquarist to control algae. Well... more research has debunked that conclusion. That being said, the paper deserves alot of credit for the contributions its made to the hobby.


I read an intersting article yesterday that put forward the idea that if you have a lot of plants that take nurishment from the substrate (swords etc) and not enough stem plants then the nutirents in the water have nowhere to go and you start getting this black/brown algaew on your plants.

I have noticed that this stuff is mainly on my swords and other slow growing root plants and not on my stem plants.

Anybody got any comments on that ?
From what I understand, while some plants may more easily consume nutrients via their roots or alternatively their leaves (such as swords), either one will do the trick. In other words, it doesn't matter whether the nutrients are more present in the substrate or in the water - the plant will transport from either and use them effectively. To quote KDahlin from a recent post I read: It doesn't matter what the plant is, wherever the nutrients are, the plant will transport them in.

This post addresses nutrients in the water column v. the substrate and how plants react to them. I found it very interesting - see the last 4 or 5 posts specifically.

I'm not sure the logic from the article you read GazK makes sense with the fact pattern you're observing in the tank - or maybe you could elaborate. My take away from this is that your stem plants more accurately reflect the current nutrient levels, and if they're not accumulating the algae, then thats good... right? Swords - at least mine - grow slower than most stem plants and therefore might take a bit longer to reflect non-limiting nutrient levels.

To update you guys on my algae situation I did the following and my situation has gotten dramatically better:

1. a few big water changes with immediate dosing afterwards (setting NO3 to 10 ppm, PO4 to 2.5 ppm, and K to 10 ppm)
2. Bought a powerhead to increase the rather poor circulation in the tank
3. Increased my CO2 and cleaned out my venturi reactor.
4. Bought some Ottos

Let me tell you - I got 10 ottos for my 72 gallon tank, and i couldn't be happier. They cleaned up the anubias which I thought was a goner for sure!

Just curious GazK - how are your CO2 levels? And how do you measure?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I just use the KH/PH method to "guess"timate the CO2
Can't remember the values of the top of my head
I think KH is around 5 and the PH about 6.8 this gives me about 24ppm CO2

I have tried turning the CO2 up but the fish start looking unhappy :icon_sad:

One thing I've noticed from this thread and Rachel's is that my anubis
is in a high light area of the tank so I might move it to a more shady area
 

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If you're basing CO2 on calculations of observed KH and observed pH, are you 100% those observations are correct? Rather - have you tested the test kits?

Test kits are untrustworthy... I've recently come to understand this. The BEST way to calculate your CO2 is to have a drop checker in the tank somewhere away from the CO2 source. I know its a pain to go through the process of installing new hardware or just setting up anything, but let me tell you - EVERYONE who buys into this method is very very pleased with the accuracy of your CO2 readings.

I've heard many really experienced aquarists, who've been in the hobby for many more years than me, say again and again that MOST algae issues are CO2 related - specifically that we aren't consistently supplying the plants with enough CO2. I'm just echoing the best advice I've been given here, but I've also seen the effects.

Turn CO2 up slowly - not too much abruptly - and get another powerhead to increase circulation if you think it would help. I did this and noticed that the plants and the fish are much happier with a little more current in the water. If fish are unhappy, make sure there is enough surface movement, that CO2 is turned off at night, and consider setting up an airpump to turn on at night... I just set this up in my tank, and my otherwise stressed fish were appeased by this - or so it seems :)

My anubias is in the front of the tank, and they weren't doing so well. But with the changes I made, they look much better now - I'll post pictures this wekeend, but camera is down...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Daniel
I used to use a drop checked
It was one I got with the JBL pressurised CO2 set up
I never found it that accurate
No more so than the testing kits
Which one do you use ?
Cheers
 
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