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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I set up my 55 gallon low-tech planted tank about 2 months ago, and my tank just got over a big diatom bloom about a week ago, but a lot of my plants are still covered in diatoms. Right as the diatoms started to stop spreading, green algae started to spread. As you can see in the pics, my bolbitis and anubias are all covered in brown/green stuff.

The water parameters are on point last time I checked (ammonia & nitrites 0, nitrates under 10 I believe). I'm running purigen, seachem matrix, chemipure, and some extra carbon in the filter pads. HOB at the moment. Weekly 30% water changes treated with Prime. Also running a UV filter all the time keeping the water crystal clear.

For the cleaner crew I have 2 siamese algae eaters, 1 pleco (don't know what kind), 4 nerite snails, 6 cherry shrimp, 2 amano shrimp.
I've had the siamese from the beginning, but only added the rest a little over a week ago.

I've noticed the fish and cleaner crew aren't really doing a good job of cleaning the plants. The siamese nibble at stuff but it doesn't seem to make a difference. The pleco loves to clean leaves, just the underside mostly, where there's hardly any diatoms or algae. The snails mostly hide and I don't see them doing that much. The shrimp cleaned one half of my driftwood from algae and diatoms, but not much on plants.

I'm debating adding some more cleaners, in the form of ottos. It just seems like the crew doesn't like to clean the parts that need cleaned the most... any ideas?
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Algae shows up when nutrients run rampant. Plants will take nutrients in a ratio. So if lets say Potassium gets used up, it won't process all of the Nitrogen. In comes algae to take on the extra nitrogen.

Also, I only add liquid ferts and water conditioner at water changes. Over all I like to leave the water as it is. The more you do to it the more that can happen to make water parameters inconsistent. Do what you feel is best, but it might worth it to try less additives, especially with a UV filter.

Nutrients it could be, Nitrates is possible, as 10 can be kinda high without stem plants(really your plants are mostly on the slower side of growth) might not be taken up very quickly. Also, again, nutrients... Light is a nutrient. I would try to take that light down, maybe even as far as 50% of what it is and bring it up slowly. Like a 5-10% change evey two weeks. Ideally smaller changes are better. Also, do only one change at a time so you know what affect it actually has on the system.

Things I would personally do first. Feed less at every feeding for 1-2 weeks and drop the lighting at least 30%. Then see what happens for 1-2 weeks. Really more info should be pooled on your parameters and such to get real deep into this. but this is where I start whenever I have any issues like this in any tank.

Lastly, a matured tank is in the realm of 6 months in my opinion. Maybe 3 months if literally no changes are made in that time. So that said, 1, I would probably wait to get Otos personally, even if it seems there's a lot to eat. 2, this tank may still be settling in. 3. algae happens, it's natural, be glad it's not BBA. :D
 

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You're probably not doing yourself any favors with all thoe chemical/filter additives. From what I've read, carbon is going to be taking out the stuff that your plants want. Struggling plants = algae. I'd start by lowering your light intensity and/or duration and removing the extra carbon and chemipure.

What I found helped me get rid of my diatoms, after struggling with them for months, was floating plants. Within 2-3 weeks of having floaters there was significantly less and it started to come off easier during WCs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies. Well the plants seem to be doing fine other than the stuff growing on them. I’m not adding any nutrients to the water, and when I feed, I feed very little so that all the food gets eaten before it reaches the sand.

the light is a cheap Nicrew 39 watt RGB LED running on the default 12 hour timer. It’s only on full blast from 8am to 4 pm, then it goes into sunset and night time (blue).

the algae and diatom problem seems to be stabilized now and the fish and shrimp appear to be cleaning up most of the stuff except the leaves, which my pleco Just started cleaning one as we speak.

As for the floating plants, I added three little red root floaters that never proliferated since they get mashed up by the current and end up in a corner or under the filter lip. I finally managed to keep them under the light with some air tubing recently. I do want to add some more faster growing plants, just want to keep it looking clean.
 

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12 hours is a lot of light, the nicrew I have is actually pretty powerful and was great at growing algae. It really wouldn't hurt to at least dim it a little more as you don't have super demanding plants. It might also be beneficial to add a small amount of fertilizer. Chances are that your fish aren't making everything your plants need, especially with the amount of light the plants are getting.

I had used RRF, my tank didn't have much flow and they doubled to tripled in numbers every week. I upgraded my tank size and filter now and they're doing the same thing you're experiencing. Most floaters don't like a ton of surface agitation.

If you're looking for fast growers I'd recommend Rotala Green. I added some to my new setup and it seems to be taking off in my low tech setup. I had pearlweed too but most of it melted from improper quarantine/dipping. The one stem of that I have left seems to be doing okay though. If you want to keep it looking clean I'd stay away from Ludwigia IMO. It shoots out roots off the stem as it grows, which can be unsightly and annoying to keep up with. If that doesn't bother you it'd be a good choice though as it's easy and grows like a weed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
12 hours is a lot of light, the nicrew I have is actually pretty powerful and was great at growing algae. It really wouldn't hurt to at least dim it a little more as you don't have super demanding plants. It might also be beneficial to add a small amount of fertilizer. Chances are that your fish aren't making everything your plants need, especially with the amount of light the plants are getting.

I had used RRF, my tank didn't have much flow and they doubled to tripled in numbers every week. I upgraded my tank size and filter now and they're doing the same thing you're experiencing. Most floaters don't like a ton of surface agitation.

If you're looking for fast growers I'd recommend Rotala Green. I added some to my new setup and it seems to be taking off in my low tech setup. I had pearlweed too but most of it melted from improper quarantine/dipping. The one stem of that I have left seems to be doing okay though. If you want to keep it looking clean I'd stay away from Ludwigia IMO. It shoots out roots off the stem as it grows, which can be unsightly and annoying to keep up with. If that doesn't bother you it'd be a good choice though as it's easy and grows like a weed.
I’m checking out the Rotala 👍🏻. It says that it can be planted in sand, but my sand is only about an inch deep. I wonder if I can add aqua soil to an already established tank and put some sand over it to trap some of the nutrients - or will it mess the water up too badly?

I can probably reduce the light a couple of hours a day and see how that goes.

RRF really don’t like flow, I guess. I should get something else along with it, for variation, if nothing else.

I’m afraid that if I add fertilizer more algae will appear. I’m just not sure if I need to if I don’t even know what is lacking or already in excess.

I am building a high tech tank which will use a CO2 system, Chihiros light, ferts, etc.The tank I have now is just a little experimental low tech tank which I was hoping that the fish could provide enough nutrients for.
 

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I’m checking out the Rotala 👍🏻. It says that it can be planted in sand, but my sand is only about an inch deep. I wonder if I can add aqua soil to an already established tank and put some sand over it to trap some of the nutrients - or will it mess the water up too badly?

I can probably reduce the light a couple of hours a day and see how that goes.

RRF really don’t like flow, I guess. I should get something else along with it, for variation, if nothing else.

I’m afraid that if I add fertilizer more algae will appear. I’m just not sure if I need to if I don’t even know what is lacking or already in excess.

I am building a high tech tank which will use a CO2 system, Chihiros light, ferts, etc.The tank I have now is just a little experimental low tech tank which I was hoping that the fish could provide enough nutrients for.
Rotala is a good choice, do look into that. Also as mentioned above, floaters are good nutrient removers as they get more light and CO2 from the air than any submersed plant will ever get. Meaning, they will pull a lot of nutrients from the water because they have to try and match the light and CO2 they're getting.

Deffinitely take the light to 8 hours from 12. That is a lot of light. Oh, if you had the lights on for 12 hours for viewing before and after work or something. You can break the 8 hours up with a 2 hour break as well. This will also allow a small amount of CO2 to build in that time as well anyway, no harm done.

Ferts, you can add small amounts. Think about it,if fish food is the only thing that goes into the tank... well that is food for fish, not plants. The plants need proper nutrients as well. Add smaller amounts of some type of liquid fertilizer that does not have NO3(nitrates or Nitrogen) added to it. This should help the plants use up more of the Nitrates in the tank.
 
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