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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, hoping someone can help me with my algae issue as I'm at my wits end.

I have a 10 gallon tank, been set up since late July. I got a 10 gallon top fin starter kit, for filtration it's still the stock silent stream 10, but the light I changed to a 14W LED.

Lights are on about 5 hours a day, with intensity set to level 2 out of 5.

At least weekly 30-40% water changes. Testing has always been normal (nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, ph, gh, kh). Never had a spike of anything, and two different stores have also tested my water and said it was fine. Using tap water, for what that's worth.

I dose excel most days when I remember to, and regular flourish a couple times a week.

Substrate is stratum. No CO2.

Fish are 3 neons, 3 scarlett badis, 2 otos, 6 amano shrimp, all doing fine.

All that said - I cannot get a handle on hair algae. I have to clean the plants and wood literally every day for it not to look disgusting. I did a really big clean about 2 weeks ago, removed all the dead plant matter I could find, and planted quite a bit more (wisteria and what was labeled hygrophila compacta but pretty sure that was wrong). Other plants include anubias, crypts, Java fern, and a sword, and that helped as it took about a week for the algae to come back but it came back with a vengeance.

Specific questions are -

  • Is CO2 my problem? I would bite the bullet and get a system if I thought it would solve the problem.
  • Does aquasoil make the issue worse? Would tearing everything down and restarting with sand or gravel help?
  • Could I add a Siamese algae eater orb would that tip the bio load too high?
  • Is the tank under filtered? There is definitely room to upgrade the filter since its just the stock one now, but the parameters all being fine make me wonder if that's an issue

Plant Plant community Vertebrate Water Nature


Thanks for any advice!
 

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Specific questions are -

  • Is CO2 my problem? I would bite the bullet and get a system if I thought it would solve the problem.
  • Does aquasoil make the issue worse? Would tearing everything down and restarting with sand or gravel help?
  • Could I add a Siamese algae eater orb would that tip the bio load too high?
  • Is the tank under filtered? There is definitely room to upgrade the filter since its just the stock one now, but the parameters all being fine make me wonder if that's an issue
Yes, CO2 is a big part of your problem. Plants need CO2 in order to photosynthesize. When you don’t supply what they need then they start to decline and the algae will become more prolific.

When you say testing has always been normal…I don’t know what that means exactly. If you are using tap water, then it‘s a good idea to find out what is in that water. I’m seeing hair algae, diatoms and green spot algae (the last indicating the light is too bright for your anubias). Do you know what your nitrate levels are…or phosphates??

Aquasoil leaches ammonia for a few months if I remember correctly. This helps to give new tanks that are fully planted a nutrient boost but the leaching will eventually stop. How often and how much are you feeding your fish btw? Organic waste can build up fast from over feeding and can accelerate your algae issues.

Don’t get a Siamese algae eater for that tank. They will get big and are not the solution.

Yes, you can upgrade your filter for sure. I’m not familiar with the filter you have on your tank, but the more filtration you can provide, the better.

And I’m also not familiar with the intensity of that light. But it is sitting right on top of the tank so it’s right on top of the plants and driving the algae. Again, the GSA on your anubias is a clue that you are providing too much intensity. The more light, the more need for co2 and nutrients. And Seachem Flourish and Excel are not going to be doing the job on their own. Flourish is just micros I believe and not a source of any N or P correct? Your plants need macro nutrients as well. Also, the majority of those plants grow in low light conditions, like the majority of plants in this hobby.

I’d invest in a co2 system first. You can do a DIY but honestly, IME, you will end up with a pressurized system down the road so you may as well start now.

And in the meantime I’d turn your light down or raise it up in order to slow the demand for co2 and nutrients. Learn what’s in your tap water by looking at your water quality reports. Up your filtration etc. which will help to provide more beneficial bacteria. Keep up with your water changes And be patient. I think it is very easy in this hobby to want things to flourish immediately and to over complicate things for good reason. But focus on the fundamentals of what it takes to grow plants and adjust as you go. So many issues are because of excessive light and lack of co2 or lack of established bacteria or over feeding etc. You will know that you are moving in the right direction when you start to grow more healthy plants and less algae. Just take you time and give your plants what they need and don’t push them beyond their limits. There will always be algae to keep you in check…and even when things are going great in the tank…there will always be algae.

Good luck.
 

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I had an infestation of hair algae in my heavily planted “low tech” 10 gallon not too long ago. I got rid of mine in a week by following the below.

-deep clean tank:
—Turned off and removed the filter. Hand removed allllll the hair algae.
—siphoned the floating hair algae bits with a baster (most of it was removed but there was still some here and there).
-added new filter in case the other filter had bits of hair algae stuck in it.
-set lights to a schedule of 3hours on, 3 hours off, 2 hours on. It was a total of 5 hours on per day. I don’t remember where I got this recommendation.

It worked much quicker than I thought it would. My snails and amano shrimp don’t eat hair algae, but I wish they would!
 

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TO be honest. You don't need CO2 to achieve a balanced tank. I successfully have High Tech and Low tech tanks. Both experience algae issues within the first year of setup. Its all about finding a natural balance.

In my absolutely honest opinion, just go with this. Keep up with maintenance, keep up with a holistic approach to algae control, remove as much as possible with a tooth brush or something. Cut off leaves or remove plants that are dying. Find ideal light intensity/cycle. Etc etc. Eventually the tank will balance itself.

In my honest opinion, doing drastic things can often send the balance straight out of whack again. It could take a few weeks or even a few months to find balance. Just ride it out and soon it will look great.

I have taken this holistic approach to algae issues for over 15 years. Had all the algae's you can think of. Time has always been the best cure, aslong as you keep a healthy tank, with regular weekly or bi-weekly water changes. It will find its balance and when it does, it will be a very healthy tank and the only way you will get algae again is if you do something that makes a big change to the balance. Like changing the light, big change to bio load or introducing CO2, or adding extra/new ferts. etc etc

I have had tanks look way way worse than yours. A little patience and small tweaks is all that i made and generally I had them under control and looking great within a few months. Then none-to little algae for years afterwards.

My advice is, it might look awful. But given time, it will find balance.
 

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Hi all, hoping someone can help me with my algae issue as I'm at my wits end.

I have a 10 gallon tank, been set up since late July. I got a 10 gallon top fin starter kit, for filtration it's still the stock silent stream 10, but the light I changed to a 14W LED.

Lights are on about 5 hours a day, with intensity set to level 2 out of 5.

At least weekly 30-40% water changes. Testing has always been normal (nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, ph, gh, kh). Never had a spike of anything, and two different stores have also tested my water and said it was fine. Using tap water, for what that's worth.

I dose excel most days when I remember to, and regular flourish a couple times a week.

Substrate is stratum. No CO2.

Fish are 3 neons, 3 scarlett badis, 2 otos, 6 amano shrimp, all doing fine.

All that said - I cannot get a handle on hair algae. I have to clean the plants and wood literally every day for it not to look disgusting. I did a really big clean about 2 weeks ago, removed all the dead plant matter I could find, and planted quite a bit more (wisteria and what was labeled hygrophila compacta but pretty sure that was wrong). Other plants include anubias, crypts, Java fern, and a sword, and that helped as it took about a week for the algae to come back but it came back with a vengeance.

Specific questions are -

  • Is CO2 my problem? I would bite the bullet and get a system if I thought it would solve the problem.
  • Does aquasoil make the issue worse? Would tearing everything down and restarting with sand or gravel help?
  • Could I add a Siamese algae eater orb would that tip the bio load too high?
  • Is the tank under filtered? There is definitely room to upgrade the filter since its just the stock one now, but the parameters all being fine make me wonder if that's an issue
View attachment 1034081

Thanks for any advice!
Algae is caused by an imbalance of nutrients and light. Plants grow based on their access to nutrients, light, and the specific habit of the individual plant. So your java fern and anubias will always be slow growers no matter how perfect the other conditions are. If your tank is in balance with nutrients, light, and the growth of plants, then algae will not noticeably form.

In your case my immediate thought is whether you are doing much in the way of gravel vac, and fertilization. When you do a nitrate test, are you detecting anything? You mention you are fertilizing with flourish which is a good source of micro nutrients but lacks macro nutrients. So if you have say zero nitrates your plants are likely stunting from lack of nutrients. This will cause a build up of other nutrients (because the plants can't use them since they lack other things) and that build up of those other nutrients will then cause algae.

So if this were my tank I would do the following. I would immediately buy some Nicolg ThriveC. I would start dosing that once a week after water change and stop using the flourish.

I would look at your filter and see if its powerful enough. If you can see the plant leaves in your tank barely moving a bit then you are fine. If on the other hand most of the plant leaves are not moving at all I would think about upgrading to a bigger filter. I would also immediately stop using the cartridges that come with the filter. Instead I would buy some filter foam and stuff in as much as can easily and naturally fit in there (ie don't cram it in so that its all compressed). You can buy filter foam in sheets and cut it with scissors to size to your filter. Never throw this out once you have it. Just rinse it in used tank water during water change.

I would also look at your light and determine if its too bright. Either use a lux meter or the lux meter app for a smart phone and take a reading from your light the same distance from the light as your substrate. Then take that reading and divide by 80. This result is a VERY rough approximation of par/ppfd. You want this number to be in the 20s or 30s. If its higher you have too much light.

I would start doing manual removal of any hair algae with a toothbrush on the wood in this tank. I would use a toothbrush or my fingers for the plants. I would gravel vac the substrate to get it off of there.

I would also be doing a minimum of 50% water change once a week preferably 70+%. Since buckets and siphons suck for anything above a nano tank, I would also buy a water change system such as a python to assist in that process.

Hopefully this is helpful, good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone for the replies. As far as testing - nitrates have always been low, essentially 0. Phosphate is the one thing i don't have a test kit for, but I've had a fish store test it and he said it was good (i don't know the level specifically, sorry).

I've changed my light to be on ~2.5 hours in the morning and then 3 or so hours in the evening based on a few recommendations I've gotten.

With regards to getting the Nicolg thrive, should i do that before starting CO2 or is it pretty much necessary to have CO2 for that to work?

Someone asked how often i feed - probably feed 2/3 days, flakes for the tetras (pretty much all of which gets eaten) and i squirt in some frozen brine shrimp for the badis as i never see them eat the flakes, and given they're still alive i assume they're eating the frozen shrim. (i don't put in a ton, i scrape off like half a fingernail's worth with scissors and use a syringe to squirt it in). Should i do less?

I'll lower the light to the lowest intensity setting. I could even put on the stock light that came with the kit if anyone thinks that would be better, but i figure that might be too low/crappy light. And its not as nice to look at.

I can add or upgrade the filter easily too so maybe I'll do that this weekend. As far as filter media - right now i have a top fin cartridge in there but i also wedged in a sheet of filter foam. In could get rid of the cartridge altogether and just use foam if that's better.

Thanks again for the help!
 

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The goal is getting to grow healthy plants. (Sorry for paraphrasing what one member here advised) but the keep waiting for your tank to balance itself by the-keep-doing-what-you-are-doing method IME is a bad idea here. And as you had said you have had the tank setup since July and it is now October…why would your issues simply go away with time as they have only gotten worse? Your tank is also not heavily planted. adding co2 is not going to create some crazy new bio load or set your tank out of whack. It’s going to provide an essential element of photosynthesis. I have never scene an indoor “hi-tech” tank with artificial lighting that doesn’t use co2. Your tank is not hi-tech but that was also mentioned somewhere above by a member and I’d ask for more info or supported facts to back that up.

It looks like you are going to get a ton of conflicting info. I suggest digging deeper and looking at the tanks of those who are giving you advice in order to help you decide what route to go down. You can’t fake healthy plant growth and you need to adjust when things go south. There are also a gazillion articles out there about hair algae and ways to treat it. Algae like yours is simply a result of a number of things including poor maintenance, nutrient imbalance including available co2 and light. Stepping away from this one. The truth is out there. There will always be algae…
 

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Here a small 10 gallon tank. Had set up for a 4-5 months. 3 month ago, I had a nightmare in this tank with thread and BB algae. It looked awful. Way worse than the OPs tank. NO Co2, sand substrate and just basic cheap all round liquid fertiliser is all I use. And my own cheap home made fert tabs. And yes that is a lush carpet of Hemianthus.

Its not amazing. But its lush and healthy. With zero algae. All because I knew not to panic and do drastic thing when I had an algae breakout.
Plant Plant community Green Natural landscape Natural environment
 

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I actually said you don't need co2 to have a healthy and balanced tank. I also said that I have High Tech and Low tech tanks. Meaning tanks with Co2 and tanks without Co2. I did not at any point mention having High tech tanks with no Co2.

A few things you mention. "adding co2 is not going to create some crazy new bio load or set your tank out of whack." I made absolutely no connection of Co2 and bio load. And yes, addition of Co2 to a tank can throw it out of whack. Not guaranteed to happen, but it can cause stability and balance issues as well as other problems. Adding any chemical, be it dissolved salts, or dissolved gases can cause issues to arise.

Its also important to note that having a tank setup since July, does not mean that they have algae issues since July. Its perfectly normal for some level of algae bloom in a tanks first year. Normally within the first few months but a newly established tank can take time to find natural balance. I suggested small changes and a holistic approach.

I did not completely disagree with your comment. Although I did wish to warn the OP in a friendly manner that Co2 is not a magic fix all, and I have experienced as much algae issues with my Co2 setups as my tanks without injection. Algae blooms are typical of a new setup, regardless of what tech is used. Throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it, can cause more problems than it helps.

As you have said. Healthy plants fight algae. It is not necessary to inject Co2 to have healthy plants. Millions of hobbyists can show evidence of that, including myself.

No intention of upsetting you, simply a different way of looking at the problem.
 

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The first thing you should is decide what you want this tank to be. You've got some low light slow growers like swords/crypts/ferns that need very, very little light (or anything else). Then you have some stem plants that would like more of everything.......light, CO2, nutrients. They likely won't do well with zero NO3 and no CO2, and just dosing micros with Flourish is not helping them much at all. If I were you I would take some to learn more about macro nutrients and why plants need them.

As to light it's hard to say what kind of PAR you have there. Both too much and too little light in relation to plant needs can be a problem. The low light plants will not do well in too high of light, and the stem plants will do poorly with too little light. So again you really need to decide what it is you want out of this tank then set things up to accomplish that goal.

In general if you are going to want to grow more stems then CO2 is well worth the investment. If you are going to stick with beginner plants like the crypts/swords/ferts you don't need it. Your filter and aquasoil are not your problem, and adding SAE's won't cure them.

Have you seen tanks that are successful in a style that you have in mind? If not, seek some out. Studying the methods of those who demonstrate success is easily the fastest way to a healthy happy tank.

And for goodness sakes doing nothing is not a good option. What you are doing is not working. Those stems aren't going to suddenly get super healthy because you ignored them. A healthy balanced tank should not have a hair algae problem like that, and waiting and hoping it gets better is not much of a strategy.

It seems like you want to improve, but keep in mind there is a learning curve in this hobby. It takes time to fully understand how to keep a balanced tank.

A good place to start might be to spend some time on the 2hr Aquarist website. It will help build your foundation of knowledge which will help you grow in the hobby. Good luck to you and I look forward to seeing where things go from here.

2hr Aquarist
 

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If there's one thing close to a magic bullet for me it would be co2. I would never set up another tank without co2 regardless of the light being used. All tanks without co2 are co2-deprived thus slow growth. Slow growth makes it much easier for algae to exist since organic waste is left in the water column to decompose and release toxins like ammonia. Nothing takes up ammonia as effectively and continuously as healthy fast growing plants. Water changes certainly help and are very important, but are second to healthy plants. Without a large plant mass then water changes, organic removal (both manually/filter media) are even more important. The key is uptake and clean water. The more light, the more important all of these things are to an algae-free tank.
 

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People are really doubling down on this notion that I said 'do nothing' lol.

Interestingly if you do follow the 2hr aquarist. Read the article on 'Algae and Tank maturity'.
Where it is said that "Green dust algae and filamentous algae are also common in immature tanks." and
"The first step is to not panic and do dramatic changes that will shake up the system any more."

I think its pretty clear that I never said 'do nothing' and my comments pretty much echo that of the 2hr aquarist blog.

I'm gonna step aside anyway. All this straw man getting thrown around is giving me hay fever. 😄

Take care all.
 

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People are really doubling down on this notion that I said 'do nothing' lol.

Interestingly if you do follow the 2hr aquarist. Read the article on 'Algae and Tank maturity'.
Where it is said that "Green dust algae and filamentous algae are also common in immature tanks." and
"The first step is to not panic and do dramatic changes that will shake up the system any more."

I think its pretty clear that I never said 'do nothing' and my comments pretty much echo that of the 2hr aquarist blog.

I'm gonna step aside anyway. All this straw man getting thrown around is giving me hay fever. 😄

Take care all.
I understand some of what you are saying. Yes tank stability is important. I am a huge advocate for that. Plants do not like sudden change. And yes tank maturity is important as well. No way to get there other than time.

However if things are really going poorly, then something is clearly off. If stems are starving for CO2 and macro nutrients, waiting it out is not likely to bring better results. Same if maintenance is lacking, or if light levels are well off for the mix of plants.

In this case the OP is a beginner. He really needs to take a step back, reassess things, gain more knowledge, then set out to implement a plan that is likely to provide good results. I know the 2hr Aquarist pretty well, and have discussed all of these topics with him many times over the years. I can't speak for Xiaozhuang, but I highly doubt he would advise to keep starving plants and hope for the best.

And it does seem like you are walking it back a bit. Earlier you said......

In my absolutely honest opinion, just go with this. Keep up with maintenance, keep up with a holistic approach to algae control, remove as much as possible with a tooth brush or something. Cut off leaves or remove plants that are dying. Find ideal light intensity/cycle. Etc etc. Eventually the tank will balance itself.
In all fairness, saying "Just go with this" seems very much to imply that he shouldn't change anything. Just cut off dying parts of plants and wait. The tank will balance itself.

In my opinion that is very unlikely to work. More likely is months and years of frustration. Just having a mature tank is not enough for success. You also need to provide what the plants need for optimal growth. And to do so means gaining knowledge and understanding of what makes successful tanks successful. It's well worth taking the time to learn more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks all for the replies! Someone said that i need to decide what i want out of the tank and I've been thinking about that a bit. Given that there's spot algae on the anubias meaning there's too much light for it, I'm thinking about going back to the stock light from the beginner kit and just trying to starve the algae of light, and seeing what plants survive and going from there. I want a nice tank, but if I'm honest i don't want a huge big project, and if i can have a nice low tech low light setup with anubias, Java fern, and some crypts (and no algae), I'd be happy. When i set the tank up i thought i needed a better light to grow any plants at all so i bought the one I'm using now but i think it might just be way over kill for what I'm capable of at the minute.

Again thanks to all for the input
 

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Thanks all for the replies! Someone said that i need to decide what i want out of the tank and I've been thinking about that a bit. Given that there's spot algae on the anubias meaning there's too much light for it, I'm thinking about going back to the stock light from the beginner kit and just trying to starve the algae of light, and seeing what plants survive and going from there. I want a nice tank, but if I'm honest i don't want a huge big project, and if i can have a nice low tech low light setup with anubias, Java fern, and some crypts (and no algae), I'd be happy. When i set the tank up i thought i needed a better light to grow any plants at all so i bought the one I'm using now but i think it might just be way over kill for what I'm capable of at the minute.

Again thanks to all for the input
Probably a good choice. The Anubia/Ferns/Crypts need very, very little light. Growth will be slow but clean. When you start adding stems everything changes and it does become more of a big project. And it's not for everyone. Takes a good deal of time, thought, and dedication.

Good luck and I hope things go better for you now.
 
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