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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I’ve had my tank set up for about a year now. Fish have always done great but my plants have struggled. I have fought a losing battle with Blue green algae and BBA. My goal for 2019 is to get everything into control and see some good growth.

My tank is 130 gallons, I want to eliminate my Algae problems before adding in CO2, I have about 30 par at the substrate for 4 hours a day, 20 par for 2 hours a day and 10 par for 2 hours a day.

I’m currently dosing EI with an auto doser that I mix myself with my tap water.

I think some of my issues may be due to my water. I have well water, with a KH and GH of about 18 each. My degassed pH is about 8.3.

Are my fertilizers still effective at this hardness and pH level? Is there anything I need to do? I grow algae like crazy but my plants struggle. Everything gets covered in BGA and it grows so fast that is actually pearls quite nicely near the top of the tank where the light is stronger.

I’ve tried reducing my lighting down to 20 par maximum at the substrate and dosing CO2 to bring my pH down to 7.1 but if anything that makes the algae grow even faster and seems to do nothing for the plants.

I have a variety of crypts, common stem plants, and nano petite Anubis plant wise.
 

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Buy some Chemiclean and follow the directions. That will take out any BGA.

20 PAR is very low light, I would aim for the 30 (or slightly more) PAR for 6-8 hours a day. Healthy plants is the best way to “avoid” algae.

Plant selections for light levels is also extremely important. You’ll need to choose plants that can thrive at very low light levels.

I don’t think you need to be doing as full EI levels either, as there is simply not enough growth at that light level to utilize such high concentrations of fertilizers.

Perhaps choose an Iron source such as Gluconate or DTPA for use at your high pH.

What plants do you have?
Water change schedule?
What nutrient levels are you targeting with EI?
How often are you cleaning your filters?




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Like mentioned above, more detailed information would help.

Even more important are pictures. It really does help get a better understanding of a tank.

You mention PAR levels. How did you determine those? Have a meter? If not, what lights are you using?

In general, BBA is the result of high organics. The cure usually involves creating uber clean tank conditions. Description of your maintenance routine would be helpful. Water changes/filter cleaning/gravel vac/how many fish/what kind of fish/fish feeding schedule, etc.

And like asked above, how much/type of every fert you use. If your light really is that low, EI is too much.

And I don't understand you stating you want to get rid of algae before adding CO2. Adding CO2 will greatly aid you in getting rid of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the quick replies. A few more details:

I have a par meter along with constant ph monitoring and other monitoring with my apex controller. I have pretty much unlimited control over my par, I can set it to any value for any time I want. I have a custom freshwater spectrum reedbreeder photon 48.

I used CO2 for about 9 months but I didn’t notice any reduction in algae or better growth. It’s possible I didn’t have enough light though. I kept reducing the lighting to try and stop the algae.

What would be a better light level for EI dosing?

I’m currently dosing KH2PO4 and KNO3 three days a week as calculated by rotalabutterfly. And on the other 3 days I’m dosing CSM+b. Both mixtures are premixed in tap water with three weeks doses at once.

I do what I think is a roughly 50% water change weekly. I change out 75% of my water over about 3 hours on my non fertilizer day. I use a small pump to remove water from the intake of the sump and another small pump adds water back simultaneously at the return pump. All my fresh water comes from two storage tanks that lets me age and warm the water for a few days before hand. Letting it sit also let’s some of the calcium percipitate out. My water is so hard that I scrape out a handful of calcium deposit every month.
 

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I used CO2 for about 9 months but I didn’t notice any reduction in algae or better growth. It’s possible I didn’t have enough light though.
Maybe but your bigger issue right now is Iron. CSM=B contains iron EDTA. It is soluble at a PH of 6 to about 6.5. At a PH of 8.3 the iron separates from the EDTA and once that happened most if not all of the iron in the fertilizer is probably no longer available to the plants. With CO2 on the PH will drop but it is doubtful you can get the PH low enough to keep the iron soluble in water.. Until you get your PH down your plants are going to continue to struggle with nutrient deficiency. Algae will alway do better in in this situation.

For the iron issue about the only thing you can du is to add Sachem Iron (iron gluconate) You will probably have to dose it every other day or so since it doesn't last long in the water but the high PH would not affect it. Instead of iron gluconate you could try iron EDDHA it is stable at high PH (PH of of about 11) but it cost more and can give your water a red color tint. Many today are using ron DPTA but it is only good to a PH of about 7.You can buy products to reduce tank PH but you would have to add those frequently to keep the PH down. But PH down products are generally not recommended (but I have never used them).

. Your only other option is to soften your water by using a mix or RO and well water or use 100% well water. But given the size of your tank you will have to store RO water in a large tank to allow you to do a once a week water change or an occasional 90% emergency water change if needed.

With your tank size and cost considerations I am not sure what is the best route to take.

Once you get those done you can start to tune your light and CO2 to maximize plant growth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I used CO2 for about 9 months but I didn’t notice any reduction in algae or better growth. It’s possible I didn’t have enough light though.
Maybe but your bigger issue right now is Iron. CSM=B contains iron EDTA. It is soluble at a PH of 6 to about 6.5. At a PH of 8.3 the iron separates from the EDTA and once that happened most if not all of the iron in the fertilizer is probably no longer available to the plants. With CO2 on the PH will drop but it is doubtful you can get the PH low enough to keep the iron soluble in water.. Until you get your PH down your plants are going to continue to struggle with nutrient deficiency. Algae will alway do better in in this situation.

For the iron issue about the only thing you can du is to add Sachem Iron (iron gluconate) You will probably have to dose it every other day or so since it doesn't last long in the water but the high PH would not affect it. Instead of iron gluconate you could try iron EDDHA it is stable at high PH (PH of of about 11) but it cost more and can give your water a red color tint. Many today are using ron DPTA but it is only good to a PH of about 7.You can buy products to reduce tank PH but you would have to add those frequently to keep the PH down. But PH down products are generally not recommended (but I have never used them).

. Your only other option is to soften your water by using a mix or RO and well water or use 100% well water. But given the size of your tank you will have to store RO water in a large tank to allow you to do a once a week water change or an occasional 90% emergency water change if needed.

With your tank size and cost considerations I am not sure what is the best route to take.

Once you get those done you can start to tune your light and CO2 to maximize plant growth.
If I make my micro mixture in RO water and add some vinegar for good measure will it last long enough to be useful to my plants or will it still be useless as soon as it touches my tank water?

I already have storage tanks that I use so my best bet is to probably do an RO mix to bring down the pH. I’ll give that a try this week and see if I can start to get the pH down. It will probably take a week or two though would be my guess.

In the mean time I’ll dry dose directly to try and get some use out of my micros. Are there any issues with macros at high pH?
 

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Hey I just clicked on the link to your old journal. I remember following it back then.

That light is interesting. Looked it up and it’s 42.5” by 8.5”. What are the dimensions of the tank? Where do you take the PAR readings? What is the difference in Par from the center to the edges? Just wondering how much drop off you have off center with that light?

As to EI dosing, what are the actual ppm values of macros you are dosing? How much CSM+B?

When you say you used CO2, how so? What kind of pH drop were you targeting with CO2?

You say you “think” you change out 50% at water change? How did you come up with that? Water change % makes a big difference with accumulation when EI dosing. Are you ever testing macro levels to see what the actual values are?

What is the fish stocking? Still on the high side?

Your high calcium levels could be interfering with the uptake of other nutrients. But honestly, if you have it planted lightly with low light plants like you did in the journal, it’s very unlikely a problem you are going to solve with ferts, or even lowering pH. If your plant stocking is pretty much like it was before, you should need very, very little ferts, and that mix of plants doesn't care much about GH/KH.

In your old journal, your plan was to automate everything so that you didn’t have to do any maintenance. That led to lots of BBA/BGA/Hair Algae. Do you do any maintenance now? Remove dead/dying leaves? Remove algae infested leaves? Clean filters frequently? Vacuum substrate/vacuum detritus? You said you had a great deal of mulm build up back then. Better now?

In general, do you get in there and get the tank clean? It seemed like your major issue was high organics before you stopped that journal. And everyone then was suggesting you not dose EI based on what was going on in the tank. Just curious why you kept up with it if you have been having issue for so long?? And did you make an effort to improve on getting the tank uber clean?

And of course, pics would really be helpful. Curious to see where things have gone in the last year.
 

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I also struggled with slow growth and BBA for several years. My water is also very hard and alkaline. Adding CO2 has changed all of that. Since I don't have high lighting, I target CO2 at about 20ppm and after several months all my algae was gone, and has remained so. My plants are growing like crazy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hey I just clicked on the link to your old journal. I remember following it back then.

That light is interesting. Looked it up and it’s 42.5” by 8.5”. What are the dimensions of the tank? Where do you take the PAR readings? What is the difference in Par from the center to the edges? Just wondering how much drop off you have off center with that light?

As to EI dosing, what are the actual ppm values of macros you are dosing? How much CSM+B?

When you say you used CO2, how so? What kind of pH drop were you targeting with CO2?

You say you “think” you change out 50% at water change? How did you come up with that? Water change % makes a big difference with accumulation when EI dosing. Are you ever testing macro levels to see what the actual values are?

What is the fish stocking? Still on the high side?

Your high calcium levels could be interfering with the uptake of other nutrients. But honestly, if you have it planted lightly with low light plants like you did in the journal, it’s very unlikely a problem you are going to solve with ferts, or even lowering pH. If your plant stocking is pretty much like it was before, you should need very, very little ferts, and that mix of plants don’t care much about GH/KH.

In your old journal, your plan was to automate everything so that you didn’t have to do any maintenance. That led to lots of BBA/BGA/Hair Algae. Do you do any maintenance now? Remove dead/dying leaves? Remove algae infested leaves? Clean filters frequently? Vacuum substrate/vacuum detritus? You said you had a great deal of mulm build up back then. Better now?

In general, do you get in there and get the tank clean? It seemed like your major issue was high organics before you stopped that journal. And everyone then was suggesting you not dose EI based on what was in the tank. Just curious why you kept up with it if you have been having issue for so long?? And did you make an effort to improve on getting the tank uber clean?

And of course, pics would really be helpful. Curious to see where things have gone in the last year.
The tank is 60x24x24. The light is 20” above the top of the tank so I get pretty even coverage. 30 par at the substrate is running it only at 30% so I can definitely push higher as needed. I’ll move around the meter over the next few days and see if I can get a better idea of what the variation is.

Dosing wise I forgot that I did make some changes. Due to the higher organics I cut way back on the KNO3 and am dosing mostly KH2PO4 and monopotassium sulfate. I’ll check on exact numbers tonight. I have been regularly vacuuming the substrate weekly, my TDS are just slightly higher than out of the tap now though I still get relatively high nitrates.

I am working on getting my RO system up and running again to try and get the pH back down. I am out of CO2 currently but I will be filling that back up next weekend. I run a pressurized CO2 system with a Rex style reactor. I get no bubbles in the tank and a pH drop from 8.3 to 7.1 right before the lights come on. I will say that when I’m regularly running CO2 the pH never slimes back up to 8.3, it usually tops out at 8.1 by the next morning and then back down to 7.1. I have no cover or sealing on my sump so my 20# CO2 only lasts about 2-3 months.

Stocking is the same as it was, no deaths that I can tell, however all my fish are much bigger now, the angels are all pushing 5”+ now and have paired off. They regularly lay eggs though I’ve never gotten any fry.

My goal for 2019 is to try to get my tank up to the next level and see some real growth.

Attached is my current tank. The micro swords in front are brand new.
 

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The tank is 60x24x24. The light is 20” above the top of the tank so I get pretty even coverage. 30 par at the substrate is running it only at 30% so I can definitely push higher as needed. I’ll move around the meter over the next few days and see if I can get a better idea of what the variation is.
A 42" x 8" light over that size of tank with 90 degree reflectors most likely has a large drop off of PAR from center. I will be interested to see what you find with further readings.

Dosing wise I forgot that I did make some changes. Due to the higher organics I cut way back on the KNO3 and am dosing mostly KH2PO4 and monopotassium sulfate. I’ll check on exact numbers tonight. I have been regularly vacuuming the substrate weekly, my TDS are just slightly higher than out of the tap now though I still get relatively high nitrates.
Knowing how much you dose and when along with your measured readings will help others help you.

I am working on getting my RO system up and running again to try and get the pH back down. I am out of CO2 currently but I will be filling that back up next weekend. I run a pressurized CO2 system with a Rex style reactor. I get no bubbles in the tank and a pH drop from 8.3 to 7.1 right before the lights come on.
Going with RO water and bringing pH down will have some mild effect, but I doubt it will change much. Now adding CO2 should make a big difference, so it's good you are going back to it.

The other big question is what about water changes and maintenance? Gotta be honest, the huge amount of BBA along the left hand side of the tank (and on the power head and elsewhere) does not look like a tank that has been cared for much. And lowering pH or changing dosing isn't going to fix that. First thing I would do is get in there and clean everything up, remove all dead/dying leaves, remove all algae infected leaves, clean filters, etc. then perform a massive water change to reset things.

If you want some inspiration, here's a good read from a member here who let the tank go for a while, and turned it around in no time. As you will see, the first thing he did was to get things uber clean. If you don't do that first I doubt you will see anything improve.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12-tank-journals/1179321-75g-dutch-weed-farm-8.html#post11107499

Good luck with everything and I look forward to seeing how things progress from here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Is there a good way to get BBA off of things? I’ve tried getting it off the power heads and tank before but with little luck.

Also removing infected leaves would mean removing probably 80% of my plant mass. Can I spot treat the leaves a few spots a day? Or would that be an effort in futility?

I’ll switch over to dry dosing micros for the next few weeks until I can get the pH issue solved as well.

I did a pretty deep clean of the tank this past weekend and followed it up with the 1-2 punch algae treatment. The tank already looks better, it wiped out the BGA pretty good, need to keep working on the BBA. I think I’ve gotten all the dead and dying stuff out and I’ve cut my feedings in half ( I think they were the major source of organic build up).

I won’t be able to get more CO2 until this weekend but I am dosing excel daily now.

My RO system seems to be shot, so I ordered replacement filters that should get here tomorrow. Only getting 5 gallons a day from my current filters.
 

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Is there a good way to get BBA off of things? I’ve tried getting it off the power heads and tank before but with little luck.

Also removing infected leaves would mean removing probably 80% of my plant mass. Can I spot treat the leaves a few spots a day? Or would that be an effort in futility?

I’ll switch over to dry dosing micros for the next few weeks until I can get the pH issue solved as well.

I did a pretty deep clean of the tank this past weekend and followed it up with the 1-2 punch algae treatment. The tank already looks better, it wiped out the BGA pretty good, need to keep working on the BBA. I think I’ve gotten all the dead and dying stuff out and I’ve cut my feedings in half ( I think they were the major source of organic build up).

I won’t be able to get more CO2 until this weekend but I am dosing excel daily now.

My RO system seems to be shot, so I ordered replacement filters that should get here tomorrow. Only getting 5 gallons a day from my current filters.
Feeding is a major variable that is little discussed. In my tank, just eliminating frozen foods greatly reduced my organics. And most feed far too much. Fish need much, much less than we can ever imagine to grow and stay healthy.

Now, as to BBA, for things you can remove I would say bleach soaks and lots of scrubbing. For the glass razor blade should work well.

For the plants, I would remove as much badly infected matter as possible. Yes, that means removing some mass. But IMO those leaves aren't coming back. They are just inviting more BBA as they die. Spot treating might help those not too far gone, but IME not really very effective.

For BGA, I would get some chemi-clean and knock that stuff all the way out.

And I can't stress enough how much regular water changes will help you. Even more than one a week would be helpful while you get things back on track.

And since he went through something similar not too long ago, if he's around maybe @slipfinger can chime in?
 

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I'm with Greggz, you need to dedicate a day and clean the entire thing to start turning it around. Any leaf with algae get rid of it, you can chop the crypts off and the will grow new leaves. Try keeping the tops of stems if there free of algae and throw out the rest of the plant. Any hardscape and equipment that can be removed for cleaning do so and scrub/spray with hydrogen peroxide or excel. I prefer hydrogen peroxide since its so cheap. Remove anything on the glass with a scraper and if bba is on the substrate just syphon the top layer of the affected areas off. At this point your tank water will be absolutely filthy and do a large water change and syphon all that detritus up too.

Clean your filters, put everything back in and plant whatever plants that you are saving. You might have to do another water change if its cloudy to remove more organics. NEVER let your co2 run out.

This will be your routine possibly every week until it doesn't need done. There is no magic bullet, basically you need to have more determination then the algae. Keep your co2/light/ferts in check and put the effort in cleaning. Remove everything bad (algae and struggling plants), keep or add everything good (healthy plants).

I might not have answered your question but seeing a picture of your tank this is what came to mind and I think you will get good results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I went ahead and measured par at the substrate around the tank. The light gets a pretty good spread since it is so far above the water (22”). I get 45 par in the very center, 40 par at the front and back center, and 25 par in the extreme corner.

Attached are the dosing amounts I used. Nitrates are high (again probably due to over feeding) so I don’t dose any nitrates.
 

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OK good, so what I refer to as medium low light. Should be good to grow a lot of things.

IMO, that's a lot of CSM+B to be dosing at that light level. And as mentioned, the EDTA Fe in Plantex is pretty much useless at your pH. Also I would never assume nitrates created by the tank are enough for plants. Personally I would lower Plantex and raise both N & P.

But honestly, until you get things cleaned up and under control, just changing dosing will have little to no effect.

And get that CO2 tank filled! Getting the pH drop from CO2 right is well worth the time and effort (assume you are calibrating your probe?), and will make everything else much easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ok I spent a bunch of time this weekend cleaning up the tank and making adjustments. I have CO2 running again, getting me a pH of 7.2 right before the lights come on. I measured my kh as between 12-13. I also got my RO system back up and running and did a 40% mix for the water change this week. I measured the kh of the mix as 8. However when I did my water change I remeasured after and my tank kh was still 12. Any reason it wouldn’t go down? I don’t have anything in the tank that should raise kh. Just driftwood and sand substrate.

I reduced dosing of micros down to half EI. And made sure they didn’t dose until after the ph dropped. My current mix should run out in another week and then I’ll make a new batch with RO water and a little vinegar to keep the iron stable. Added some KNO3 to my macro mix to make sure I have some available nitrates. Still doing heavy excel dosing every other day and spot dosing on the other days. Vacuuming the substrate 3x a week and cutting the worst leaves on those days as well.
 

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I am a little late to the party, but better late then not show at all.

The key to getting the upper hand on BBA is clean, clean and clean again. Make sure you bleach soak and scrub everything that can be physically removed from the tank. I've said this before and I'll say it again, it drive me bat shat crazy when I see people complaining about BBA and they post a picture with all their hardware covered in it.........

Second, keep that filter clean. A dirty filter is probably one of the main reason for BBA outbreaks.

Third, trim leaves that are covered in BBA. If you can physically remove it take it out and trim and pinch all leaves that are effected with BBA. Sometimes you have to suck it up and actually throw a few plants out. New plants are relatively easy to get your hands, especially for the American folks around here. Most people are willing to ship you some trimmings if you offer to pay shipping.

Finally a little Excel will not hurt anyone! You have to remember its not a cure but it definitely will kill the crap.

TLDR: Keep your tank, hardware, filter and plants squeaky clean!
 
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