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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello. I have a fifty-five-gallon aquarium that has been overcome with hair algae in the last week or so and the plants have almost stunted and I need help ☹. Some plants are unaffected, like my tiger lotus and others are just covered every inch in hair algae, a lot have twisted leaves now especially armannia gracillis. I think they are having a problem with the uptake of calcium from too much potassium because I re-mineralize my RO-DI water with seachem gh booster and was not aware this had a lot of potassium. I also installed new lights on the tank and started dosing EI again because previously I was only dosing EI with no KNO3 and only 2/3 days a week. Could all this Potassium have caused a problem? Should I add ca and mg separately and is there anyway to test the levels of potassium because i seem to struggle with K problems and Ca and Mg problems a lot? Thank you in advance :).

Tank specs:
PH: no co2 = 7.8 gassed = 6.6.
Temp:78
Lights: 1 Nicrew classic led and a Beamswork DA FSPEC both 48 inches on for 8 hours.
Dosing: EI and water is re-mineralized RO-DI to 4kh and 6gh.

Pictures:
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Hi @Spencernw

What is your photoperiod?
What are you using for a 'cleaning crew' in your tank?
 

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Hi @Spencernw,

The SAE will help substantially with the hair algae, even more than the BBA. It helps if you can "weaken" the algae and make it easier for the SAE to eat it. I find that dosing Seachem Excel at the normal Initial Dose and 2X the daily dose provides sufficient algacide properties to weaken the algae and make it easier for the SAE to eat. I would also cut back the photoperiod to six hours until you get the algae under control. Does the tank get any ambient room light say from a window? That could be increasing the algae growth as well as our days get longer.

Why were you dosing EI and not using the KNO3?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi @Spencernw,

The SAE will help substantially with the hair algae, even more than the BBA. It helps if you can "weaken" the algae and make it easier for the SAE to eat it. I find that dosing Seachem Excel at the normal Initial Dose and 2X the daily dose provides sufficient algacide properties to weaken the algae and make it easier for the SAE to eat. I would also cut back the photoperiod to six hours until you get the algae under control. Does the tank get any ambient room light say from a window? That could be increasing the algae growth as well as our days get longer.

Why were you dosing EI and not using the KNO3?
Do you think the potassium was causing a problem with the uptake of Ca and thus caused the hair algae? Im really looking for what caused the algae so i can put an end to it.
The tank does not get any direct light from a window. I was dosing EI but not Kno3 because I have lots of fish, wanted nitrates below 10 ppm to get better red coloring in my plants and previously when i dosed full EI i would get a lot of 'slime like' algae from dosing KNO3 3 times a week.
 

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Hi @Spencernw,

It is unlikely that the potassium caused the algae problem or is causing a problem with uptake of calcium. I say that because because you are using RO/DI water so you have no additional Ca in the tank and the ratio K:Ca:Mg ratio in Equilibrium has been used by thousands of aquarists (including myself) without algae outbreak issues.

You say the tank does not get any "direct light" but how about "indirect light"? Windows can let in a lot of light even if it is indirect, and that coupled with two fixtures that by themselves probably put you in a medium+ light level you may be getting more light than you think...possibly try closing the drapes for a couple of weeks during the day?

You indicated that you did not dose KNO3 "because I have lots of fish".....have you checked your ammonia and nitrite levels? Usually when I have an issue with hair algae it is during the nitrogen cycle when ammonia is being generated and if you have lots of fish you likely are getting lots of urea / ammonia being generated. When I have a tank that is heavily stocked I find that a weekly 50% water change is not an option but becomes a necessity and sometimes twice a week, as does cleaning my filters regularly. You might also consider using Purigen in your filter. It very effectively removes "organics" but does not interfere with the EI nutrients we add including NO3. Don't forget to add those SAE's to your 'cleaning crew' they can eat a lot of hair algae. Hope this helps! -Roy
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi @Spencernw,

It is unlikely that the potassium caused the algae problem or is causing a problem with uptake of calcium. I say that because because you are using RO/DI water so you have no additional Ca in the tank and the ratio K:Ca:Mg ratio in Equilibrium has been used by thousands of aquarists (including myself) without algae outbreak issues.

You say the tank does not get any "direct light" but how about "indirect light"? Windows can let in a lot of light even if it is indirect, and that coupled with two fixtures that by themselves probably put you in a medium+ light level you may be getting more light than you think...possibly try closing the drapes for a couple of weeks during the day?

You indicated that you did not dose KNO3 "because I have lots of fish".....have you checked your ammonia and nitrite levels? Usually when I have an issue with hair algae it is during the nitrogen cycle when ammonia is being generated and if you have lots of fish you likely are getting lots of urea / ammonia being generated. When I have a tank that is heavily stocked I find that a weekly 50% water change is not an option but becomes a necessity and sometimes twice a week, as does cleaning my filters regularly. You might also consider using Purigen in your filter. It very effectively removes "organics" but does not interfere with the EI nutrients we add including NO3. Don't forget to add those SAE's to your 'cleaning crew' they can eat a lot of hair algae. Hope this helps! -Roy
Interesting, I have no outside light whatsoever that would be affecting the tank. I did not check ammonia or nitrite levels but i will do that tonight, however, i do 50% water changes weekly regardless if i am dosing full EI or not and i do add GH booster to the water to get it back to the previous gh. I also have two bags of purigen in my filter and change them every 3 months. The only thing I have done differently besides lowering my light a bit was add all this excess potassium. I know you are far more knowledgeable than me so i guess the potassium cant be it. I have no idea whats causing it and its only been getting worse :/.
 

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Hi @Spencernw,

I assumed when you said potassium you were referring to potassium sulfate and not potassium phosphate?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi @Spencernw,

I assumed when you said potassium you were referring to potassium sulfate and not potassium phosphate?
Yes, i guess that was what i was referring to. K2SO4? I did some previous research and saw some people claiming that potassium levels over like 20ppm would cause problems with the uptake of ca.
 

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Hi Spencernw,

I did a little digging and found this:
the K/Ca and K/Mg ratio should always be kept above 2 (but below 10, since too much K can hinder the absorption of calcium and magnesium)
When I check what ratio adding 1 teaspoon of Equilibrium to 10 gallons of water results in I find:

KO2 = 8.85 ppm (not utilized by plants)
K = 7.5 ppm
Ca = 3.1 ppm
Mg = .93 ppm

I do not think the K in Equilibrium is causing your algae issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi @Spencernw,

I assumed when you said potassium you were referring to potassium sulfate and not potassium phosphate?
Hi Spencernw,

I did a little digging and found this:


When I check what ratio adding 1 teaspoon of Equilibrium to 10 gallons of water results in I find:

KO2 = 8.85 ppm (not utilized by plants)
K = 7.5 ppm
Ca = 3.1 ppm
Mg = .93 ppm

I do not think the K in Equilibrium is causing your algae issue.
I added one and a half Tablespoons last water change so that is significantly more K than a teaspoon right?
 

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Hi @Spencernw,

Yes, that is 6X the amount in a teaspoon......but the ratios still remain the same.
 

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Yes, i guess that was what i was referring to. K2SO4? I did some previous research and saw some people claiming that potassium levels over like 20ppm would cause problems with the uptake of ca.
i believe the key reason for adding potassium sulfate (K2SO4 is to add sulfur to your fertilizer. Sulfur is important nutrient for plants. Plants cannot grow without it. However if you are using equilibrium to remineralize your water you will not need potassium sulfate. The key ingredients in Equilibrium are magnesium sulfate and calcium sulfate. So in addition to supplying needed Ca and Mg it also provides a substantial amount of sulfur. So you don't need potassium sulfate.

I was dosing EI but not Kno3 because I have lots of fish, wanted nitrates below 10 ppm to get better red coloring in my plants and previously when i dosed full EI i would get a lot of 'slime like' algae from dosing KNO3 3 times a week.
There are several big assumptions here that are possibly wrong:

Less nitrate is generally not good for plants and if you don't have enough plant growth will slow and algae may take advantage of that. Furthermore in my opinion plants will have there best color when all nutrients are supplied. Reducing nitrate probably doesn't help plant color.

You are also assuming your fish are producing enough nitrogen which may or may not be correct

You are assuming the slime algae is being caused by your nitrate.

Plants need nitrogen to grow. if your test kit is showing no nitrate, nitrite, or ammonia you are probably deficient in nitrogen, In my experience not enough nutrients are the most likely cause of algae while a slight excess in all nutrients plants need tends to suppress algae. The key concept for Estimative Index is that all plant nutrients should be available at sufficient levels to allow plants to grow easily. You should try and keep your nitrate levels between 5ppm and 20ppm. In my opinion 10ppm is perfect. Please check your nitrate, nitrate, and ammonia and let us know what the readings are.

Any aquarium that is fertilized likely has excess potassium. And there is very little evidence of it causing any problems. I also do not believe potassium is your issue. What fertilizers are you using? how much do you dose and how often? Also how big is the tank? Some remade fertilizers are missing key plant nutrients which can cause algae. Some common missing nutrients are calcium sulfur and Chloride. Since you are using Equilibrium sulfur and Calcium are not an issue. Chloride deficiency could be an issue with RO water. A chloride deficiency could be resolved by adding only 1ppm of KCL or NaCl (table salt). There may be others but we would need to know what fertilizers you are using.
 

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It sounds like you are basing your assumptions on what you have read.

Better to test theories in your own tank, and see how things respond.

Each tank is different. In my heavily stocked tank, I dose loads of macros (weekly 32ppm N, 10ppm P, 50 ppm K). When I cut down my doses too much, the plants suffer and algae appears. I get plenty of reds, but I attribute that to high light not low N.

I am in no way saying what I do is the best or everyone should do it. But it took a lot of banging my head against the wall to realize that I create more problems with too little ferts vs. too many (in my tank). And you will find many successful plant keepers who prefer N in the 50 or so range.

So all I am saying is to keep an open mind and base dosing on your own observations. If I kept my N at 10ppm, my tank would crash and be full of algae. I know because I have tried it many times with the same results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
i believe the key reason for adding potassium sulfate (K2SO4 is to add sulfur to your fertilizer. Sulfur is important nutrient for plants. Plants cannot grow without it. However if you are using equilibrium to remineralize your water you will not need potassium sulfate. The key ingredients in Equilibrium are magnesium sulfate and calcium sulfate. So in addition to supplying needed Ca and Mg it also provides a substantial amount of sulfur. So you don't need potassium sulfate.



There are several big assumptions here that are possibly wrong:

Less nitrate is generally not good for plants and if you don't have enough plant growth will slow and algae may take advantage of that. Furthermore in my opinion plants will have there best color when all nutrients are supplied. Reducing nitrate probably doesn't help plant color.

You are also assuming your fish are producing enough nitrogen which may or may not be correct

You are assuming the slime algae is being caused by your nitrate.

Plants need nitrogen to grow. if your test kit is showing no nitrate, nitrite, or ammonia you are probably deficient in nitrogen, In my experience not enough nutrients are the most likely cause of algae while a slight excess in all nutrients plants need tends to suppress algae. The key concept for Estimative Index is that all plant nutrients should be available at sufficient levels to allow plants to grow easily. You should try and keep your nitrate levels between 5ppm and 20ppm. In my opinion 10ppm is perfect. Please check your nitrate, nitrate, and ammonia and let us know what the readings are.

Any aquarium that is fertilized likely has excess potassium. And there is very little evidence of it causing any problems. I also do not believe potassium is your issue. What fertilizers are you using? how much do you dose and how often? Also how big is the tank? Some remade fertilizers are missing key plant nutrients which can cause algae. Some common missing nutrients are calcium sulfur and Chloride. Since you are using Equilibrium sulfur and Calcium are not an issue. Chloride deficiency could be an issue with RO water. A chloride deficiency could be resolved by adding only 1ppm of KCL or NaCl (table salt). There may be others but we would need to know what fertilizers you are using.
Thank you for the reply, very informative! In the time period i did not dose KNO3 i would consistently test the water to make sure there was available nitrate, over 5ppm. When i was dosing EI i got massive amounts of algae from dosing the recommended levels of KNO3 so that is why i cut back, this was before I was using RO water, i soon realized i had approx 80ppm or more of nitrate from dosing EI, in combination with my tap water which had approximately 15ppm and my fish. Once i cut back, this algae went away which is why i assumed it was from the kno3. I could most definitely be wrong about this. I saw others talk about plants showing more red coloration from having less nitrate so i decided to test it out as well, i do not know if its definitive information.
I am using GLA fertilizers which are plantex CSM+B, Kh2PO4, K2SO4 and KNO3, i also use Seachem gh booster and flourish Iron. Last week i dosed all these according to EI dosing method and added 1 and 1/2 tablespoon to 25 gal of ro, this is when the algae appeared rather quickly. This week I am dosing 1/4 tspn of kno3 1x this week, plantex csm+b 3x @ 1/8 tspn per, no k2so4 and KH2PO4 2x @ 1/8 tspn.
My tank is 55 gallons. Do you think the chloride deficiency is my problem? Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It sounds like you are basing your assumptions on what you have read.

Better to test theories in your own tank, and see how things respond.

Each tank is different. In my heavily stocked tank, I dose loads of macros (weekly 32ppm N, 10ppm P, 50 ppm K). When I cut down my doses too much, the plants suffer and algae appears. I get plenty of reds, but I attribute that to high light not low N.

I am in no way saying what I do is the best or everyone should do it. But it took a lot of banging my head against the wall to realize that I create more problems with too little ferts vs. too many (in my tank). And you will find many successful plant keepers who prefer N in the 50 or so range.

So all I am saying is to keep an open mind and base dosing on your own observations. If I kept my N at 10ppm, my tank would crash and be full of algae. I know because I have tried it many times with the same results.

Thank you Greggz :). I try my best to keep an open mind but since i switched to Co2 this tank has been nothing but problems but i really do not want to give up. I would be happy with sub-optimal plant growth but it seems I cant even get that haha. I test for fertilizers religiously but i do not know of a way to test for K and I keep my tested parameters aligned with what I read was optimal for plants. I hate to admit it but i am scared to test theories in my tank because of the risk of worse plant growth which i am not sure can get any worse at this point. I haven't gotten a new leaf on my AR mini in over a week and a half :/. https://imgur.com/7Fu7BY1

I ordered CaSO4 and MGSO4 and i am going to try and dose them in a 3:1 ratio and see if this problem goes away. I do not understand this aquarium. I have a 40 gallon breeder with no RO that i dose with what i think the plants need and everything grows perfectly :/. Thank you again Greggz, i highly respect your input and love your rainbow fish :)!
 

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Thank you Greggz :). I try my best to keep an open mind but since i switched to Co2 this tank has been nothing but problems but i really do not want to give up. I would be happy with sub-optimal plant growth but it seems I cant even get that haha. I test for fertilizers religiously but i do not know of a way to test for K and I keep my tested parameters aligned with what I read was optimal for plants. I hate to admit it but i am scared to test theories in my tank because of the risk of worse plant growth which i am not sure can get any worse at this point. I haven't gotten a new leaf on my AR mini in over a week and a half :/. https://imgur.com/7Fu7BY1

I ordered CaSO4 and MGSO4 and i am going to try and dose them in a 3:1 ratio and see if this problem goes away. I do not understand this aquarium. I have a 40 gallon breeder with no RO that i dose with what i think the plants need and everything grows perfectly :/. Thank you again Greggz, i highly respect your input and love your rainbow fish :)!
One more thing. If you have enough CO2, and you are dosing EI (with NO3), adding Mg/Ca then what is left......lights.

Do you have any idea how much PAR those lights produce? I have no experience with LED's, so I don't know. Too little light can be a problem as well.

And how about tank maintenance? I would get things uber clean (filters/substrate/water changes) for awhile, and remove as much dead or dying plant matter and algae that you can.

Good luck, I hope you get it turned around soon. And thanks very much for the compliment on the Rainbows.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
One more thing. If you have enough CO2, and you are dosing EI (with NO3), adding Mg/Ca then what is left......lights.

Do you have any idea how much PAR those lights produce? I have no experience with LED's, so I don't know. Too little light can be a problem as well.

And how about tank maintenance? I would get things uber clean (filters/substrate/water changes) for awhile, and remove as much dead or dying plant matter and algae that you can.

Good luck, I hope you get it turned around soon. And thanks very much for the compliment on the Rainbows.

Yes, lights. I just got these lights last week. From my research the beamswork produces about 42 par at the substrate and the Nicrew I think is in the 30's. For my previous lights i had 6 clip on desk lamps and the nicrew led, i dont know the par values but it was 13,500 lumens. Some plants seem to show less red or none at all like roltala rotundifolia and limnophila hippuroides but rotala macrandra and the ludwigia sp. red is unchanged.

Okay. I will make sure everything is as clean as can be. I will spend a little bit every day removing dead and dying leaves and should i stick with 50% weekly water changes? Thanks :).
 

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Seachem gh booster
We need to be clear on which GH booster you are using Sachem sells 2. Equilibrium which is sulfate based. And Replenish which is chloride based. Seattle Aquarist uses Equilibrium. When I stated that you didn't need K2SO4 because of your booster, that is only true if you are using Equilibrium. If you are using Replenish it doesn't have sulfur so K2SO4 would be needed. So we need to know for certain which GH booster you are using.

Do you think the chloride deficiency is my problem?
It is not possible to know for sure without trying it. If you are using equilibrium then Cl ,an essential nutrient, is one your are not putting in your aquarium. But you would have to test this theory by adding a chloride to your tank. It is possible your substrate has chlorides or that your fish food has enough. But we don't know so you would have to do a test to find out.

If however you are using Replenish you would have chloride and with your K2SO4 dosing you might be OK. And that would mean the problem might be something else. such as a CO2 issue, a PH instability, too much light or something else. For example the chelating agent using in CSM is EDTA. It will keep your iron in solution if the PH is no higher than 6.5. If the PH goes up to 7 less iron would be available to your plants.

Is your CO2 on a timer. If sow it would turn off and during that off period it might rise enough your iron would become less available to plants. It might be a good idea to check your PH just before the lights turn on and again just before lights to off. If there is enough of a change you might want to try leaving your CO2 on all the time to see if that causes an improvement.

Another potential issue is the RO water. There is an assumption that your tap water will supply some of the nutrients your plants need. And as a result some fertilizers don't have enough of some nutrients to get good results with pure RO water. You might want to test for this possibility by doubling your CSM+B dosage for a while. if the situation improves it could mean CSM is not supply enough of something your tank needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
We need to be clear on which GH booster you are using Sachem sells 2. Equilibrium which is sulfate based. And Replenish which is chloride based. Seattle Aquarist uses Equilibrium. When I stated that you didn't need K2SO4 because of your booster, that is only true if you are using Equilibrium. If you are using Replenish it doesn't have sulfur so K2SO4 would be needed. So we need to know for certain which GH booster you are using.



It is not possible to know for sure without trying it. If you are using equilibrium then Cl ,an essential nutrient, is one your are not putting in your aquarium. But you would have to test this theory by adding a chloride to your tank. It is possible your substrate has chlorides or that your fish food has enough. But we don't know so you would have to do a test to find out.

If however you are using Replenish you would have chloride and with your K2SO4 dosing you might be OK. And that would mean the problem might be something else. such as a CO2 issue, a PH instability, too much light or something else. For example the chelating agent using in CSM is EDTA. It will keep your iron in solution if the PH is no higher than 6.5. If the PH goes up to 7 less iron would be available to your plants.

Is your CO2 on a timer. If sow it would turn off and during that off period it might rise enough your iron would become less available to plants. It might be a good idea to check your PH just before the lights turn on and again just before lights to off. If there is enough of a change you might want to try leaving your CO2 on all the time to see if that causes an improvement.

Another potential issue is the RO water. There is an assumption that your tap water will supply some of the nutrients your plants need. And as a result some fertilizers don't have enough of some nutrients to get good results with pure RO water. You might want to test for this possibility by doubling your CSM+B dosage for a while. if the situation improves it could mean CSM is not supply enough of something your tank needs.

My apologies, I am using seachem equilibrium. If i were to dose chloride in my tank, how much should i add to 50 gallons of water? My substrate is only sand and my fish food is alternating between wardley tropical flakes and omega one, natural protein formula.
I will try dosing 2x CMB+B. My co2 is on a timer and comes on 4 hours before the lights and turns off 1 hour before the lights do. The ph drops to approximately 6.6 from 7.8, I will check these numbers again tonight. Do you recommend I try dosing chloride and doubling CSM+B or try chloride first then if the situation does not improve, double CSM+B?
 
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