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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've had this tank for about 2 years now. I've been battling this algae since the moment I set the tank up. It's been driving me crazy. The algae is growing on the decorations, the walls, and the plants. I have running Co2 on a timer along with LED lighting. I like to pride myself on figuring things out myself, but this time I really feel like I need to make an exception. I don't give up easy but I might be at the end of my rope here. Here's what I've done already:

Checked the water quality
1. Nitrates: 10ppm
2. Nitrites: 0ppm
3. Ammonia: 0ppm
4. Phosphates: ~.5ppm (The API test kit doesn't really match any of the colors on the sheet unfortunately, but it the solution was not dark so it must be a low amount).

I went to the LFS today and purchased the phosphates test kit as I really thought that maybe too much phosphates in the water was going to be the cause, but behold the power of my horrible luck. I'm currently running the tank on 8 hours of light. Feeding the fish every other day, and only as much as they can eat without wasting food. I've been doing water changes about twice a week. I use RO water but that's okay because I'm keeping tabs on the GH/KH and replenish minerals when needed. The GH and KH are both sitting at around 6, and at the end of the week before I do a water change I check the TDS; I really only check this to give myself an idea of how much crap is dissolved in the water. After checking today I see I'm at about 180ppm.

All in all, the water quality seems to be fine in my eyes and I don't know if it's in my willpower to keep scrubbing the glass and wiping all the plants. The pictures that I'm providing are the result of about 4 days without a water change, which is outrageous. I need help. I don't mind cleaning the tank but something is definitely wrong and I need to find out what. Professionals, give me some advice please! I'm desperate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, no... But the last time I bought ottos the angelfish gulped them right up. It was like really expensive live bait.
 

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Ah, truth. Ottos are like MREs for angels. You might have better luck with ancistrus; they're like plecostomus, but don't get nearly as large, and in my experience are pretty good at hiding when small, are too much for an angel to feast on when big, and have big appetites for this kind of algae.
 

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What light and schedule?

What is water change source, schedule/amount and prep routine/chemicals used?

Any fert dosing? If so with what and amounts used? What gallon size/dimensions is this tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Well that's definitely something I can do. But like I said, this is the result of about 4 days without a water change or cleaning. Surely this isn't normal. I'm just trying to find the root cause of the issue so I can mitigate it to the best of my ability. Do you think that maybe it's a deficiency/excess of some sort?

Lights come on about 8 hours a day. I have the Finnex 24/7 +. I don't have a separate timer for the co2, but am looking to do that soon. They come on at 10:00 - 6:00.

Water comes from RO, TDS is 0. I keep the gh and kh at 6 by mixing with tap water straight out of the tub. I've tested the water and register no chlorine so I don't condition it. I've been using an all in 1 fertilizer for the plants. I've posted a picture of the backside of it. I do a water change every Sunday. However, if the tank gets too ugly halfway through the week I do another one after scrubbing the glass. The tank is a 37 gallon. (30 1/4 x 12 1/2 x 223/4)

As for how much I dose: I've only been squirting about 2 pumps into the tank every other day. The plants still pearl through the algae, and it's less than recommended.
 

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If it was my tank and dealing with this for 2 years I would do a reset.
New substrate for sure-- and, ( if you are unsure) I would test all rock to make sure it is inert and not changing water chemistry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Oh boy, you think that's the most likely culprit? The substrate? If that's the case, I'd have to remove all the fish, and I've gotten rather attached to the angelfish. It'd be a couple weeks for the tank to cycle again and I don't have any other fish tanks so all the livestock would have to go somewhere else :(
 

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Oh boy, you think that's the most likely culprit? The substrate? If that's the case, I'd have to remove all the fish, and I've gotten rather attached to the angelfish. It'd be a couple weeks for the tank to cycle again and I don't have any other fish tanks so all the livestock would have to go somewhere else :(
You can do a reset with new substrate while having fish- its not a hard thing to do.

Relocate fish into a large bucket/ container with air-stone while resetting. You can leave them here for a good-4-6 hours while you redo the tank. Just wrap base of container well with a blanket to keep "insulated" and make sure room is not too cool. Also, make sure covered so they cannot jump out.

You have a very well-established filter, so after the reset with new substrate you would treat your tank as if it is going through a "mini-cycle." Your tank will not have to rebuild bacteria from scratch, you will have what it needs to reseed in your filter.

During this time after reset and while going through mini-cycle you do water changes of 25-50% every day ( depending on bio-load) for four days. At temperatures above 75 degrees and a bio-filter as well established as yours- the tank will be reseeded within 96 hours. Make sure that you test for traces of ammonia/nitrite for first few days to be safe as well.





I just recently did this with a tank full of Altum Angels and discus. Its doable.
 

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I'll give this a shot as soon as possible.
This may or may not be your issue. But, personally, this is what I would do.

Others may have more ideas and suggestions.

Obviously you wouldn't want to redo with an active substrate in your case because it may leach ammonia into the tank. But could use an inert substrate like sand or gravel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
How about an active substrate and then cover it with sand or gravel? That way ammonia wont leach?
 

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Ah, truth. Ottos are like MREs for angels. You might have better luck with ancistrus; they're like plecostomus, but don't get nearly as large, and in my experience are pretty good at hiding when small, are too much for an angel to feast on when big, and have big appetites for this kind of algae.
Yikes. I've got otos with my angels that are now nearly full grown. Hopefully having grown up with them they won't see them as lunch. The otos are much more reclusive now, and I never see them out except at night, or together--so hard to know if they're all still there. I've got lots of guppies so they have a steady supply of fry to munch on instead.

Ditto the advice about ancistrus. Mine was <1" when I got him, and he was very reclusive. Now he's more than tripled in size,, and much bolder, and busy sucking on the algae on the glass. But the otos do a better job on the plants, IME. Do you have any snails?

Have you tried cutting back on your photoperiod? Floating plants to cut down the light & soak up nutrients? I cycled through every kind of algae when I started up my tank, and a UV sterilizer finally helped me get the upper hand. Worth trying if you don't wanna have to break down the tank & start over.

Good luck!
 

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So the big thing that I see that could be a contributing factor is the plant mass, it's fairly sparse.

I would recommend a UV sterilizer to take care of what appears to be diatoms or green dust algae and then fill the tank up with some fast growing plants because the more healthy growing plant mass there is the more competition the algae has for nutrients and this will likely wipe out the other algae that doesn't get killed off from the UV sterilizer.
 

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I doubt a new substrate will make a good long term difference. A new substrate could provide some nutrients you might be currently missing but after a few months (maybe less or maybe more) the new substrate would be depleted of nutrients and you will be right back to were you are now.

My experience with RO water is that it is really easy to have a nutrient deficiency even with fertilizer. If you have a nutrient deficiecy algae will do well but your plant growth will be slower than it should be or growth will stop. There are 14 nutrients plants need (N, k, Ca, Mg, P, S, Cl, Fe, Mn, B ,Zn, Cu, Mo, Ni). but it is typically difficult to identify which one is deficient. The easy way to determine if a deficiency is pressent is a lab test such as : https://www.amazon.com/ICP-Analysis-Elemental-Water-Test/dp/B071HVPBVD/ref=pd_sbs_199_t_1/143-4754022-5433815?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B071HVPBVD&pd_rd_r=4d579d86-5e1e-4359-989e-af12db2f675d&pd_rd_w=SxwrZ&pd_rd_wg=K3oTh&pf_rd_p=5cfcfe89-300f-47d2-b1ad-a4e27203a02a&pf_rd_r=C30342H6VA9WV2H8VMRR&psc=1&refRID=C30342H6VA9WV2H8VMRR

You get the results in a week and it cost $30. If the lab test shows any plant nutrient at zero you tank is deficient in that nutrient. Note this lab test doesn't test for nitrogen but you have a test kit for that.

You list your location as Washington. If that is washington state be advised that tap water there can be very soft I don't know any thing about washington DC water. The Gh test measures the total amount of Ca and Mg in the water. What is the GH KH of your tap water.? and how much tap do you add to the RO water? Many people in seattle use GH booster to increase GH to an acceptable level and most people using RO water also use it. Most GH booster commonly used by people on this site also have Sulfur anther plant nutrient most people cannot test for.


You are testing for Cl which can harmful to plants and fish. However you are not testing for chloride salts which is safe for plants and is the primary source of Cl plants need. Your fertilizer has no Ca, Cl, S, and I don't think it has enough B or Mg. Your tap water might or might not have enough of these nutrients.

For my RO tank i make my own gh booster from Epson salt (Magnesium sulfate) and a mix of calcium sulfate and Calcium chloride.I aim for a ratio of 3 parts calcium to one part Magnesium ( Ca Mg ratio doesn't have to be exact but plants do need more calcium than magnesium) . I dose 10ppm N03 and 3ppm for Po4. For my iron I make my own micro mix and I target Fe 0.1ppm, Mn0.05ppm, B and Zn at 0.020ppm, Cu 0.010ppm, Mo 0.001ppm and Ni at 0.001ppm. This works for me with 100% RO water, and a inert substrate.
 

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Looks like you have a lot of slow growth plants, it's possible that you dont have enough competition.
I would try adding some hairgrass, water lettuce, or maybe some wisteria. Something that will take enough of the resource to give the algae zero chance.
 

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Have you tried cutting back on your photoperiod? Floating plants to cut down the light & soak up nutrients? I cycled through every kind of algae when I started up my tank, and a UV sterilizer finally helped me get the upper hand. Worth trying if you don't wanna have to break down the tank & start over.
So the big thing that I see that could be a contributing factor is the plant mass, it's fairly sparse.

I would recommend a UV sterilizer to take care of what appears to be diatoms or green dust algae and then fill the tank up with some fast growing plants because the more healthy growing plant mass there is the more competition the algae has for nutrients and this will likely wipe out the other algae that doesn't get killed off from the UV sterilizer.

From my experience, I would have to agree with the above.

Also, you mentioned you have an LED light, what kind is it? Do you have specs for it? Insufficient light could allow that type of algae to thrive especially when you're dosing fertilizer.
I would cut the fertilizer, dial the photoperiod back a bit, and get some low light plants like anubias or java ferns to soak up some nutrients and try to outcompete the algae.

Good luck!
 

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More (and thorough) water changes, little less fish food (make sure fish eat all that is put in), more plants!

Nerite snail if you're impatient for some cleaning.

I had an angel with otos before, she was introduced to them while still too small to try to eat any so she never tried once she was large.

Good luck.
 
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