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Help identifying algae and resolving issue

340 Views 7 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  dfarr67
Hello, I’ve been dealing with a strange algae that I can’t seem to identify and I’m struggling to reduce it, even by a little bit. This stuff is really slippery and hard to manually remove from the leaves, comes off in sheets off the glass, and has completely taken over my driftwood. I think the algae on my front glass is diatoms, but this also comes off in weird sheets which is something I have never before experienced with diatoms.

The tank is 55 gallons, with C02 injection monitored by a drop checker, and on a lighting schedule of 8hrs using a Fluval 3.0 at 50% intensity. I fertilize using Easy green once a week after a water change and twice a week using Seachem flourish potassium. For my root feeders, I add root tabs as necessary depending on signs of deficiency. The tank gets fed lightly twice a day. Parameters are: Ammo=0ppm, Nitrite=0ppm, Nitrate=20-40ppm, GH=6°.

Here's a list of things I have tried (Note: all these solutions were done with 2-3 weeks in between and I'm not necessarily still doing all of these things currently):
-Lower and increase lighting intensity
-Increase water change percentage from 25-30% to 50% (Still doing this as I like to keep my nitrates below 40ppm but no lower than 20ppm for the plants)
-Decrease fish feedings
-Dose Easy carbon
-Nerite snails (started with 3 and 2 died from unknown causes. The one I still have doesn't do much)
-Ramshorn snail (started with 5 hoping they'd breed. The EBA ate 3, 1 died of unknown causes, and the 1 I still have isn't enough to make a noticeable impact)
-Bristlenose pleco (Got him 3 days ago, so haven't noticed much yet... He may not even eat this algae I have, but I like him and want to keep him. I plan on supplementing his diet as needed)
-C02 injection (started this about a week ago, my Pogostemon stellatus octopus, jungle Val, and crypt seem to be liking the stuff)

Any advice is much appreciated; thank you!

Leaf Botany Nature Window Plant
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Wood Terrestrial plant Twig Trunk Natural material
Plant Terrestrial plant Organism Liquid Grass
Water Fluid Plant Grass Rectangle
Organism Grass Rectangle Adaptation Natural landscape
Plant Green Organism Grass Terrestrial plant
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· Banned
8 Posts
Hi there,

In general there are two routes to take; create unfavourable conditions for plants and algae (because they prefer the same conditions, except that algae perform better in low CO2 environments).... and then....the funny part.... get plants. You won't be getting an Amano tank via this route, but then again, you won't find Amano tanks anywhere in nature.

So what makes tanks unfavourable? For instance, you mentioned light intensity. Try 5 lumens for a change. Doesn't matter if you keep the lights on for 14 hours. Just stick to 5 lumens. This should be enough to not surpass the compensation point. Nutrients? Water changes and organic waste should do in basis. I can go on, but just wanted to point out this route.

The second route is adopted by most, and probably boils down to biochemical warfare performed by plants. This means, regardless if you follow low energy or high high approaches, have abundant plants in your tank and make sure these plants are healthy. Healthy plants invest in defensive mechanisms, making algae hesitant to reproduce.


· Registered
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
@rdek Thank you for responding! I have bought a bunch of plants on 3 separate occasions and all of them have fallen victim to the algae. Perhaps it's that I'm struggling with understanding how to properly place plants to get the most out of my space for that lush look. Or, maybe I am not getting the appropriate plants that will look great and help battle this issue. I guess this has raised 3 more questions:

1. Do you have a suggestion for plants I should get?
2. Should I just get rid of the plants that are already covered in the algae?
3. How can I better understand how to bunch/group plants to get the abundance I need without it looking strange?

I do want to make a nice-looking tank, but first and foremost I want the fish I have to be comfortable and have room to swim as the gold barbs and EBA I have are fairly active. I also have no issue spending a little extra money, but constantly trashing the plants I have because they didn't take to the parameters or got consumed by this algae is becoming frustrating and a little discouraging. I got into the hobby 2 years ago knowing I'd be spending a decent amount of money, but the trial and error on this tank is starting to hurt my pockets haha 😅.

· Banned
8 Posts
hey Cpt. Parker.

Most plants in our hobby are bog plants that are grown emersed. When you place them in your tank, you are drowning them. Long story short; it takes 4 to 6 weeks before they adapt. The adaptation might go hand in hand with auto fragmentation and melting. This decay is more food for algae. I always recommend to place them in a vase and place these on a windowsill (without direct sunlight).

Only place healthy, aquatic adapted plants in your tank!

The exception is a tank that is already heavily planted and that are healthy. In which case you can simply add the new plant. A healthy heavily planted tank is resilient enough to deal with a few plants that are struggling.

Plants that struggle no longer invest in defensive mechanisms and leach metabolites. Hence you often see algae on leaves.

Anyways, in your shoes I would dim the lights heavily without hesitation. Get the plants out, put them in vases and place these on a windowsill (without direct sunlight); give them time to recover and rid themselves of the algae. Just conduct water changes in those vases. That's it.

Once you have gained control again of your tank (no nutrients, except those occurring naturally, and heavily dimmed light), you can place the plants back without really changing anything. Follow route 1 I described. Or jump to 2 and plant heavily from day 1, as long as those plants are adapted to aquatic life.

I think this is the main cause why newcomers have a hard time.

· Registered
152 Posts
Is this tank fairly new?
I think you have 3 things going on:
1. Diatoms
2. Cyanobacteria
3. Some type of algae.

Diatoms tend to resolve themselves over time. You just have to give it some time.

Cyanobacteria is not an algae and is a sign of dirty tanks, dead spots of flow, etc. There are chemicals to treat it if it's real bad.

The algae is a sign of dirty tanks, (too much nutrients) and an imbalance between plant growth, nutrients and light.

I would start on a conservative note and add all the plants you can. Then increase your water changes A LOT!
In my tanks that have looked like this I've done water changes as much as every other day.

· Registered
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi @ThreadFin ,

The tank is about 9 months old. the issues really started after I went on vacation this past summer for a week and left someone in charge of feeding my tanks while I was away. I left conservative amounts of pre-portioned food, but my fish sitter felt I was “starving” the fish and fed more than I left. I came back to an algae nightmare, and since then it’s been an on and off battle. I got it to start receding shortly after my vacation, but these past few months have been downhill.

Since my initial post, the back panel of glass has started to recede. My bristlenose may be coming through and cleaning some stuff up.

I also have pose the same question to you Threadfin, do you have a recommendation for plants that I should invest in? I am willing to take any advice I can get :)!


· Registered
152 Posts
InWhat's your substrate?

I cured my algae issues with heavy excel dosing and water changes twice a week and cleaning the canister filter every two weeks.
Then I dumped in a bunch of amano shrimp and an SAE.

For plants, a super hardy fast growers that will take a lot of nutrients out of the water is pogostema octopus. Hydrocotyl is another good one once it gets going.
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