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How important is darkness to a planted tank? My low tech tank is experiencing blue/green algae problems.

I'm trying to figure out the cause. I know low nitrates can be one of them. I haven't tested so I don't l know. I might not have enough fish in my tank to create enough bio load to support the bacteria colony in my canister filter. Or the plants might be sucking up all the nitrates.

Anyways my aquarium is in my computer room. Due to living in a bad area we leave the computer room light on all night. To stay unpredictable to the people around us. I'm awake at all different hours and I smoke outside. We've had a string of break ins around here. In other words I live on the city boarder of Detroit.

The aquarium light only comes on for 8 hours but the tank never sees complete darkness and the room is bright. Should I cover the tank with a blanket when the light timer turns off?
 

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Blue/green algae is a different beast than many of the other things we have to deal with in this hobby. It is actually a bacteria and can be controlled with antibiotics if you choose that route. I recently learned that silicates (like silica sand as in pool filter sand) can be a big contributor to blue green algae. So what type of substrate are you using? Besides that, go test your water. A test kit is something every hobbyist should have and its simple enough to do. Or, take some water to a LFS and they should test it for you for free. If you're concerned that you dont have enough fish to support a bacterial colony then you most likely have no nitrates (which is not necessarily a bad thing). As far as the lighting goes; since you have so much ambient light reaching this tank; maybe you should cut back on teh amount of time the actual tank light(s) is/are on?
 
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@lksdrinker I had the three tanks with silica sand and all three had bga issues. I changed the sand and the issue went away.
 

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Hmm....I've been using pool filter sand in my 60g for some 5+ years and never had BGA. I have just upgraded my lighting to the 48" Finnex Planted+ 24/7 and i'm seeing some green dust algae in my newly planted tank, but this is to be expected I think.
 

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I've been using silica sand (my sand literally says "silica sand" on the bag) for years and have never had cyanobacteria/BGA. Not even slightly. Not in tanks with high flow nor tanks with little to no water flow. The higher silicates from the sand would give me more than normal diatoms in my non-planted tanks. In planted tanks it seems the plants out-competed the diatoms. I've used the silica sand in various water and lighting conditions (from low to high, 6 hours to 10 hours). Just my experience.
 

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You could try covering 3 sides all the time and see if that does anything. BGA is supposed to be caused by too much organic buildup. It wouldn't hurt to test your water parameters and make sure the plants can grow. Having good conditions for plants growing could impact the BGA. Also, doing 50% water changes weekly might get out some of the organics, like 50%.
 
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