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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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