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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All!

I've recently setup a 225l planted aquarium, my first foray into the high tech world. While it has certainly been a lot of fun, there's also been a lot of frustration (which I believe is in large part my own fault) and algae.

The tank is currently 21 days old, and still cycling (fishless and appreciate this can take up to 2 months).

The substrate is Amazonia (feel like this has been the source of a large part of my grief), filter is an Eheim Pro 4+ with a few adjustments to the media setup (filled first stage with increasingly fine foams, second tray with matrix and left the final tray with the substrat pro) and I'm also running a pre-filter on the inlet. I'm running pressurised CO2 at ~3bps. Utilising Dr Tims ammonia, as pure ammonia without detergents is very difficult to get where I live.

Along with the Amazonia, my other concern is my CO2 levels. On advice of the store where I bought a lot of the equipment, I didn't get a drop checker and was advised to just do pH checks at various stages across the day to get a feel for what my CO2 levels were doing. I'm feeling like this was a very big mistake, and may be at the least a partial cause of both my algae and cycling woes (as above, not saying I should be cycled now but am seeing signs of resets).

So let's get into the nitty gritty!

CO2

My local water is fairly soft, I'm reading a kH of 2dkH from my tap water. Obviously Amazonia is pretty much immediately consuming this, and as a result I have 0dkH in the tank. At night, long after lights and CO2 have gone off the pH seems to settle at around 6.4-6.6. During the day I have no idea what it is, kit bottoms at 6 and is indicating 6.

I unfortunately don't have anywhere to get a drop checker locally, so have bought one online and am waiting for it to get delivered. In the meantime, I've added some crushed coral (hanging in a net on the side of the tank) in an attempt to maintain some level of kH however not sure how effective it has been. May consider moving this to the filter at a later date.

I have seen small amounts of BBA building up, and from my understanding poor CO2 levels and/or inconsistencies in CO2 levels can be to blame. So I may have an issue with CO2.

While I'm actually ok with running a low pH/kH aquarium, I believe it's giving me some grief in relation to the cycling of the tank so I'll get to that a little later.

Algae

If there's one thing I've been effective in, it's growing some algae! I've bot BBA, green hair algae, and green spot algae! I kind of feel like I'm playing a very sub-optimal version of Pokemon where I'm trying to collect all these things I don't want. I think my algae problem stems from a lot of things, excess organics from the Amazonia, poor CO2 levels (potentially), excess light, not enough fast growing plants to out compete the algae.

The BBA I've been dealing with by peroxide baths and spot dosing with excel, seems to be getting it under control.

The green hair and spot algae is a little different, spot algae not too bad and I'm not really concerned about it as I'm looking to have some otocinclus (one of my favourite fish) and would like to have something for them to graze on. The only things I've found effective at dealing with the hair algae is very large water changes (in line with recommendations of large changes for Amazonia) and light reduction. However, it sort of whittles back a little, then comes back with a vengeance aftter each change. I have some Rotala in the tank, and it's currently growing horizontally so I'm reducing the light until I see it start to climb a little and hopefully that's the sweet spot.

When doing water changes, I was initially just filling with a hose connected to an outdoor tap. As above, seems to be effective but it's an ongoing battle.

Any tips or tricks in dealing with the green hair algae would be greatly appreciated, it's covering all my hardscape and is starting to cover the substrate as well. If anything defeats me in this process, it's the hair algae.

Cycling

So, cycling! As mentioned above, I'm certainly not expecting that my tank should be cycled already. But I have some concerns that I'll tie to the above and hopefully may be able to find some advice here.

As per the CO2 section, I do not know where my pH is dropping to as my source water kH is low and this is being consumed pretty much instantly (less than a day even with 50% changes). My understanding is that dropping under 6 is harmful to the cycle although I am not sure if this stalls the cycle, or resets the cycle.

For reference TPT guide is here,

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1960804-post3.html

By allowing my pH to go below 6 am I resetting the cycle, or am I simply delaying it? The crushed coral doesn't seem to be doing much currently and my kH is still zero (presume the Amazonia is too strong of a buffer for the volume of coral I have).

Now my second, and potentially more problematic issue with cycling.

As above, I feel like the only thing combating the green hair algae is large (50%+) water changes, however where this is problematic is that it's stopping my nitrites from building up. I am seeing small amounts every now and again, and they are being converted into nitrate but am I severely slowing down the growth of the nitrifying bacteria (specific to nitrite to nitrate step) by doing this? Is there a better way to deal with the hair algae that will allow me to build up my nitrites to get the colony going?

Thanks all, very new to all of this and hoping I can get some tips or tricks to make the process going forward a little easier and hopefully get the green hair algae under control before it takes over my entire aquarium.

Cheers,

Dan
 

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First of all let me say, well done giving this much info. Often times people simply write "help, I have algae" and we are all to infer the problems.
So, initially it must be understood that cycling is when your tank is at it's most unbalanced. Parameters jump around, ammonia up and down, lighting isn't dialed in yet, nor co2, so, whilst it is annoying this is kinda normal. First advice would be forget fighting your kh for now. Amazonia will strip it all for a while before you can hold steady Kh values, so just leave it be right now. The focus should be establishing steady parameters that help plants more than algae.
How long is your lighting period? Cut that down, this will probably be a common response because we all know excess light drive algae. So go for something like 5 hours of light right now.
Co2 levels, if saturated too heavily, will stall a cycle. That's just nature, you're pumping co2 in and the O2 levels are being compromised so the beneficial bacteria (which loves oxygen) will be stunted. I myself am also learning all the many ways a cycle can be stalled and I would say that extremely low Ph would definitely stunt your bacteria. Once again steady parameters would help here as the bacteria do not have to adjust to varying levels. Of course we also know that they produce faster at higher temperatures, so if your tank is unheated like mine, it takes longer as well. The important thing will be to get your tank at the parameters you want to keep, then the bacteria produce at this level wont be affected by any attempt to change the water, let's say from low temp acid water to high temp alkaline water.
Post some pictures if you can. Help every one see how densely planted your tank is. The algae will be an annoying battle. But the key is to aim for plants health, not elgar's death. That way you're promoting good conditions and hopefully the algae will begin to recede as the plants grow.

I cannot help specifically with algae, nor should I even try as I am having some issues myself. Someone will chime in and give more info I am sure, but otherwise. Please scope out the forum, there is a great thread all about BBA that recently came up, and I know all other algaes are well documented.

Hope some of this helped and it wasn't just the ramblings of an idiot.

Cheers
James
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
First of all let me say, well done giving this much info. Often times people simply write "help, I have algae" and we are all to infer the problems.
So, initially it must be understood that cycling is when your tank is at it's most unbalanced. Parameters jump around, ammonia up and down, lighting isn't dialed in yet, nor co2, so, whilst it is annoying this is kinda normal. First advice would be forget fighting your kh for now. Amazonia will strip it all for a while before you can hold steady Kh values, so just leave it be right now. The focus should be establishing steady parameters that help plants more than algae.
How long is your lighting period? Cut that down, this will probably be a common response because we all know excess light drive algae. So go for something like 5 hours of light right now.
Co2 levels, if saturated too heavily, will stall a cycle. That's just nature, you're pumping co2 in and the O2 levels are being compromised so the beneficial bacteria (which loves oxygen) will be stunted. I myself am also learning all the many ways a cycle can be stalled and I would say that extremely low Ph would definitely stunt your bacteria. Once again steady parameters would help here as the bacteria do not have to adjust to varying levels. Of course we also know that they produce faster at higher temperatures, so if your tank is unheated like mine, it takes longer as well. The important thing will be to get your tank at the parameters you want to keep, then the bacteria produce at this level wont be affected by any attempt to change the water, let's say from low temp acid water to high temp alkaline water.
Post some pictures if you can. Help every one see how densely planted your tank is. The algae will be an annoying battle. But the key is to aim for plants health, not elgar's death. That way you're promoting good conditions and hopefully the algae will begin to recede as the plants grow.

I cannot help specifically with algae, nor should I even try as I am having some issues myself. Someone will chime in and give more info I am sure, but otherwise. Please scope out the forum, there is a great thread all about BBA that recently came up, and I know all other algaes are well documented.

Hope some of this helped and it wasn't just the ramblings of an idiot.

Cheers
James
James you have actually helped a lot and potentially pointed out something I'd missed! While I do have a large amount of flow (eheim pro 350+ and a fairly decent wavemaker for a 225 litre tank) I'd actually been trying to avoid breaking the surface to conserve CO2.

I had an old skimmer that I was running, however it doesn't appear to be working all that well. I don't really see any material flow from it.

I'm now wondering if I should actually be trying to increase flow at the surface, potentially with the wavemaker to get some more oxygen in there.

During the day I'm pumping in CO2 (blindly as mentioned above) and there is little to no breakage of the surface, so maybe I'm not only harming the bacterial with the swings to very low pH but also starving them of oxygen.

I'll sleep on this, but likely going to revise the positioning of the wavemaker when I wake up.

My lighting is currently on 6 hours, but it's an adjustable light so I've been winding back each time. Perhaps it's best for me to wind back by a lot and slowly start stepping back up instead of slowly stepping down.

Is there any advantage to a reduction in time over a reduction in power? Also I have heard of people suggesting siestas are valuable, but I've also heard the opposite (nothing is that simple is it!).

I'll try and get some photos up tomorrow, but should note I'm pretty embarrassed by the current state.

Oh well, first attempt and I've already admitted I'm in trouble. So best to get it out there!

Will update when I get up in the morning.

Thanks for the reply James! Greatly appreciate it.

Cheers,

Dan
 
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