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I can't find the balance between healthy plant growth and algae and it is driving me crazy.

13129 Views 97 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  jaz419
Hello everyone,



I have recently set up a new planted tank. I have been out of the hobby for several years but recently got the itch. I previously had a tank set up but had lots of algae issues and eventually gave up out of frustration. I feel like I am close to that again which is very discouraging.



This time, I have a Fluval Spec V set up. I will list some more details below:


Tank: Fluval Spec V (all-in-one 5 gallon set up with built in filter compartment)
Light: Current USA Satellite Plus Pro
CO2: Pressurized (approx 1.5 pH drop, probably too much as my betta gets lethargic during CO2 hours)
Stock: Betta
Substrate: Aquasoil
Weekly maintenance: 50% WC, rinse filter media

Fertilizer: DIY solution (ppm per week below)
N: 15 P: 2 K: 20 Fe: 0.5 (as CSM-B)

One of the benefits of the Current USA Satellite Plus Pro is its adjustability, however I just can't seem to find the balance with this thing. Either my plants are growing slowly and sparsely, or they become covered with hair/fuzz/thread type algae. I don't have any livestock that eats algae in the tank (amanos, etc), but I feel like I should be able to find this balance without having to rely on algae eating organisms.

I need help. I'm begging for help. I don't really know what to do next. I have tried changing light intensity but as I stated earlier, can't find that balance. I think I need to be more patient and not keep changing things so much, but I don't know where to start. I feel that when I start my lights too low, the plants grow poorly making them weak, then when I ramp my light up, the plants are vulnerable and the algae attacks.

I'm wondering if anyone has used this specific light on this specific tank perhaps? Would be really helpful to know what % you have the light on if so. Please help me! Thank you!

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Let’s start with this, the mulder chart. You 2 guys ( @burr740 and @gregzz) add ppm/ratios you find effective around this star/graph, also who would you think is a good candidate for a LED only user to add his contribution to this equation. That’s really what this all boils down to is ratios/balance and uptake, I’m also a firm believer that spectrum/equal diffusion across whole footprint of tank (T5 rule in this aspect) makes difference. Any LED user would be a derivative of this.

Any of you guys who would like to add your feedback on ratios vs GH/PH/KH levels would be welcome, input on light, CO2, plant type and planting density and dosing routine would also be welcome. I’ll see what I can do about supplying graph with pdf form fillable fields when I get to work.
Is this the data you want?.. maybe we need to update it tho. hmm.



from the thread:

Share your Dosing
 

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So it has been 7 days since my first post and I have implemented several changes based off of everyone's advice. I am seeing improvements! Thank you everyone for the advice!

I have initiated the following changes:
- Lights were on 2 hours per day at 100%, yesterday changed to 3 hours per day at 100% due to improvements
- Started dosing excel
- Started dosing just 0.3 ppm Fe per week in CSM+B
- Started dosing 5 ppm/week of P, kept my N and K the same

The issue with changing a bunch of things at once is that you don't know which change caused the improvement. I have my theories but one cannot be sure. I plan on keeping on this way and increasing the light by 1 hour/week until I am at 6 hours/day photoperiod and then going from there. I have attached some photos of plants! I have noticed they seem a bit pale (especially ludwigia and rotala) and I am thinking may be from the short 2 hour photoperiod. Really feel like that helped overall though.

Please let me know if you think you notice nutrient deficiencies/issues based off of these pics, thank you! I really do think they look better overall though that may be my untrained eye. Thanks again!


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Could u clarify if the improvements were regarding algae or plant growth or both? What type of algae do you have and is it getting better? Thanks.

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Is this the data you want?.. maybe we need to update it tho. hmm.



from the thread:

Share your Dosing

Fwiw mine on the chart was during a lower K experimental phase me and a couple others were trying. Did OK for a while but soon proved to be far too little. These days Im back to keeping it about the same as NO3 or a little higher.

Currently weekly macros are (roughly)21/5/24 using KNO3, KH2PO4 and KSO4.

Micros custom blend at .1 - .12 Fe 3x week

Ca:Mg ~ 40:20. These are water column levels not dosing amounts

KH 0-1 in the soil tanks, 5-6 in the sand tanks. Dosing is the same for all
 

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Currently weekly macros are (roughly)21/5/24 using KNO3, KH2PO4 and KSO4.

Micros custom blend at .1 - .12 Fe 3x week

Ca:Mg ~ 40:20. These are water column levels not dosing amounts

KH 0-1 in the soil tanks, 5-6 in the sand tanks. Dosing is the same for all
Always interesting to see these numbers. We might need to revive the share your dosing thread again.

Are you still at 70% water change? If so they would adjust down a bit to show EI 50% WC equivalent.
 

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Always interesting to see these numbers. We might need to revive the share your dosing thread again.

Are you still at 70% water change? If so they would adjust down a bit to show EI 50% WC equivalent.

Good observation, yeah I do 70-75% weekly. Not for nutrient resetting, but to remove other stuff like dissolved organics, just works a lot better for me. You're right it would translate to be leaner than someone doing 50%
 

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Good observation, yeah I do 70-75% weekly. Not for nutrient resetting, but to remove other stuff like dissolved organics, just works a lot better for me. You're right it would translate to be leaner than someone doing 50%
That's what I thought.

So your 21/5/24 is equivalent to 15/3.5/17.5 at 50% water change.

I always calculate mine to traditional EI 50% just for the sake of comparison.

For instance, when I list my current dosing as 10/5/15, I am actually dosing 14/7/21 but with 70% water change. And I agree, larger water change is better.

Goes back to my crusade to change the world into thinking of "target" dosing. Dosing the amount of water removed to a "target" or actual ppm goal of dosing. Makes more sense to me but was an epic fail!
 

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I started doing 30% wc every other day and it's helped make tank upkeep be quicker. Less stuff I have to scrape and siphon out and seems to keep the bad stuff more at bay. Trimming if needed I only do on the last wc of the week.
 

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Goes back to my crusade to change the world into thinking of "target" dosing. Dosing the amount of water removed to a "target" or actual ppm goal of dosing. Makes more sense to me but was an epic fail!
Lol, it's perfectly logical to do it that way, just a foreign way of thinking about it for most folks. Also, its easier to apply if youre front loading all at once. With daily stuff or 3x week, well, just not so easy for the avg hobbyist to think that way.

Something else that often gets lost in translation. Per week dosing amounts really means how much a person doses between water changes. Becuase thats where it resets and starts over.

We usually thing of per week as every 7 days. But if youre doing a water changes every 5 days, or twice a week, etc, how much you add every 7 days becomes irrelevant. "Weekly totals" really means the total added between water changes.

I started doing 30% wc every other day and it's helped make tank upkeep be quicker. Less stuff I have to scrape and siphon out and seems to keep the bad stuff more at bay. Trimming if needed I only do on the last wc of the week.
This is an excellent way to fix a tank that's having issues. I usually go to 2x week 50% or so. Front load all macros after the water change, then a couple micro doses on the following days. Repeat. 4-6 weeks of that will cure a myriad of issues
 

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Like @Greggz, I've longed believe that a focus upon dosing is not nearly as useful as target level maintenance, which also impacts heavily upon w/c productivity (benefit given x quantity/frequency).

Until a month or so ago, I was doing 50% weekly w/c's and decided to try dropping to 50% every 10-12 days. As before, I immediately bring K and Mg to target, Ca and dKH to target within 2 days (due to use of CaCO3) and slower accumulation of N and P (due to urea and fish food daily dosing). Micros are also dosed daily. I also have about twice the normally recommend fish load, so organics should be a problem, but they aren't (I use no biomedia in my filter). I've noted no negative impact, as yet. I do have a very healthy and high plant mass, though. It's still early in this w/c reduction experiment but, so far, not a single bit of algae that I can find and virtually no change in TDS. Of course, I'm going to have to start making some adjustments if I continue/expand this reduction in w/c's to account for accumulation issues.

I know that some of you dose and maintain very high levels, although maybe not full EI levels, as compared to what I do (I target N/P/K in the 10/3/25 area with Ca ~20 and Mg ~10). Do you immediately bring your relatively high levels back to target following a w/c, or do you allow them to build via organics or daily dosing? I'm wondering why it is that you find w/c's in the 70% area so beneficial if not purely for nutrient reset purposes.
 
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Do you immediately bring your relatively high levels back to target following a w/c, or do you allow them to build via organics or daily dosing? I'm wondering why it is that you find w/c's in the 70% area so beneficial if not purely for nutrient reset purposes.
Like Joe said above, it's not about resetting the ferts.

It's about removing dissolved organics and keeping the tank uber clean.

And like Joe mentioned above, performing 2x water changes weekly can cure a lot of ills.

Tom Barr talks about it quite often, and does so to get a tank in pristine condition for photo shoot or competition.

Personally I front load right after water change, but doubt it really makes all that much difference.
 

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Yeah water changes for me have nothing to do with nutrients. Its about keeping the invisible dirty stuff cleaned out of the system. Regardless of how much Im dosing, low or high, everything always does better for me with big water changes.

Although I understand that some people like doing less. Edward and his pps routines basically think of water changes as the devil, lol.

Maybe its because my tap is pretty decent but my experience has always been that plants love water changes and algae hates them
 

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And fish too!

My Rainbows colors are on fire right after a water change.
I've never noted a color change, but I have no rainbows. Doesn't that put the burden on you to find out why the color improvement (assuming it means good things for the fish) so you can do it all the time and then sell it?
 

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I haven't seen a tank, particularly hi-tech that doesn't benefit from water changes, the bigger the better as long as your dosing back in.

To me this is about light and uptake (of organic breakdown.) If the uptake is lacking because you don't have a enough plants, then you need even more water changes to compensate. Nothing removes toxins in a quick, continuous manner then plants. But not all tanks are fruit salads or jungles. The more hardscape means less plants, so in those scapes the water changes are even more important. The more water you change the less the tank is limited by light and stock.

I also don't think you have to "see" algae for it to have negative impact on plants. There can be some on the leaf surface that you don't really see and it starts to affect growth.
 

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Just managed to read through all of this now. Thanks everyone. Really a nice discussion and gave me some food for thought towards some adjustments to my RO remineralization routine, and a gentle reminder that elbow grease (cleaner tanks) is usually the critical factor. @Asteroid @Deanna @burr740 @DaveKS @Greggz (and everyone else who’s handle is too hard to remember!) ;o)
 

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Thanks but still a little confused

Well, I just finished reading all the 7 pages in this thread. Pretty good information, THANK YOU....however I am still a little confused. I was wondering if someone can tell me in a concise and straightforward way what is this "balance" we planted tank guys talk about. I mean the "golden equilibrium" people talk about....I guess that is between, Fertilizer - CO2 - Light. How do we achieve that?

I have a new tank which is having similar troubles as the OP here. Lots of BBA and hair type algae

Here is my list of questions:
  1. To reduce algae, which of these three things do I reduce: Fertilizer - CO2 - Light.
  2. Do I push CO2 24 x 7?
    People talk about varying CO2 causes algae. But then.. many recommend turning on CO2 one to two hours before lights come on, and turning it off an hour before lights off. Note: my CO2 levels drop dramatically during the night, checker turns totally blue in the morning.
  3. What about temperature?
    Right now I am at 75F
I know there is a lot of talk in this thread about very granular control of water parameters. I am not sure if I would be able to do that myself.

Here is what I have and do:
  • Start: 2-3 weeks back
  • 75 gallon DT with a 30 gallon sump
  • Using RO-DI water, re-mineralized to 3GH using Seachem equilibrium
  • Inert substrate with root tabs
  • Doing PPS pro fertilizer schedule, NilocG Aquatic Labs' micros and macros every morning
  • 2.5 gallon water change every evening, re-mineralized.
  • Lots of water flow in DT, ensured using two wave makers (heard stagnant water causes algae).
  • Two very high PAR capable lights (sb reef lights, freshwater version).
    I made the mistake of leaving them on for 6-8 hours a day for a week, algae went crazy. Now I am down to 4 hours a day....at around 50% warm white + 25% blue-white Plants pearl just fine.
  • CO2 injection, high pressure
  • Have tried dosing Metricide (Excel) Helped a bit

Problems/Issues:
  1. Algae grower expert. Mostly BBA and hair algae.
  2. Most plants are doing reasonably well, growing fast, other than the ferns, which are BBA infested. Sprayed them with 50% Metricide (approx=straight excel).....that helps, but they get infested again, within days.
  3. HC is not doing good.
  4. Many plants are growing roots from everywhere, yuck! What do I do? Cut them off?

Here is what it looks like today:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/...ter-freshwater-conversion-3.html#post11393769


PS: thanks a bunch for replying and advising me.
 

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Well, I just finished reading all the 7 pages in this thread. Pretty good information, THANK YOU....however I am still a little confused. I was wondering if someone can tell me in a concise and straightforward way what is this "balance" we planted tank guys talk about. I mean the "golden equilibrium" people talk about....I guess that is between, Fertilizer - CO2 - Light. How do we achieve that?

I have a new tank which is having similar troubles as the OP here. Lots of BBA and hair type algae

Here is my list of questions:
  1. To reduce algae, which of these three things do I reduce: Fertilizer - CO2 - Light.
  2. Do I push CO2 24 x 7?
    People talk about varying CO2 causes algae. But then.. many recommend turning on CO2 one to two hours before lights come on, and turning it off an hour before lights off. Note: my CO2 levels drop dramatically during the night, checker turns totally blue in the morning.
  3. What about temperature?
    Right now I am at 75F
I know there is a lot of talk in this thread about very granular control of water parameters. I am not sure if I would be able to do that myself.

Here is what I have and do:
  • Start: 2-3 weeks back
  • 75 gallon DT with a 30 gallon sump
  • Using RO-DI water, re-mineralized to 3GH using Seachem equilibrium
  • Inert substrate with root tabs
  • Doing PPS pro fertilizer schedule, NilocG Aquatic Labs' micros and macros every morning
  • 2.5 gallon water change every evening, re-mineralized.
  • Lots of water flow in DT, ensured using two wave makers (heard stagnant water causes algae).
  • Two very high PAR capable lights (sb reef lights, freshwater version).
    I made the mistake of leaving them on for 6-8 hours a day for a week, algae went crazy. Now I am down to 4 hours a day....at around 50% warm white + 25% blue-white Plants pearl just fine.
  • CO2 injection, high pressure
  • Have tried dosing Metricide (Excel) Helped a bit

Problems/Issues:
  1. Algae grower expert. Mostly BBA and hair algae.
  2. Most plants are doing reasonably well, growing fast, other than the ferns, which are BBA infested. Sprayed them with 50% Metricide (approx=straight excel).....that helps, but they get infested again, within days.
  3. HC is not doing good.
  4. Many plants are growing roots from everywhere, yuck! What do I do? Cut them off?

Here is what it looks like today:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/...ter-freshwater-conversion-3.html#post11393769


PS: thanks a bunch for replying and advising me.
I don't think there is a single "golden ratio" and it is something you have to find for your tank. My experience is that while not the only factor, too much lighting is possibly the strongest factor in algae growth. That is followed closely by tank and water cleanliness.

BBA that grows on leaf edges indicates those plants are damaged. Algae is a response to the damage so that either needs to be corrected or remove those plants and start again. I can see BBA growing back after a dip because of that.
 

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Thanks but still a little confused

Well, I just finished reading all the 7 pages in this thread. Pretty good information, THANK YOU....however I am still a little confused. I was wondering if someone can tell me in a concise and straightforward way what is this "balance" we planted tank guys talk about. I mean the "golden equilibrium" people talk about....I guess that is between, Fertilizer - CO2 - Light. How do we achieve that?
Figuring out that “balance” is kinda what this hobby is all about. As far as I’m aware There’s no concise set of instructions anyone can give you, that you can follow to the letter and immediately strike that perfect balance. Every situation is different, and you kinda gotta figure out how to make it work with what you have.

Take all the advice given and determine a reasonable starting point for your tank, and start trial and error-ing it.

Maybe Try to find someone with a similar set up, and try to copy what they use and what they do... that could give you a solid start.

I have a new tank which is having similar troubles as the OP here. Lots of BBA and hair type algae

Here is my list of questions:
  1. To reduce algae, which of these three things do I reduce: Fertilizer - CO2 - Light.


  1. I personally always start by reducing light. I’ll go as low as 3 hours of peak light time with a short ramp on either side, if I’m really having issues with algae. This is always temporary and will go back to normal after I get things under control.

    [*]Do I push CO2 24 x 7?
    People talk about varying CO2 causes algae. But then.. many recommend turning on CO2 one to two hours before lights come on, and turning it off an hour before lights off. Note: my CO2 levels drop dramatically during the night, checker turns totally blue in the morning.
    Most people turn CO2 off around the same time the lights go off. Plants don’t uptake CO2 when they aren’t photosynthesizing. This means your CO2 levels can rise high enough to be unsafe for live stock over night. A more advanced way to keep your tank right at a certain CO2 concentration is to use a PH monitor, which automatically turns your CO2 on and off throughout the day/night just to maintain a set PH (CO2 and PH have a predictable indirect relationship)

    [*]What about temperature?
    Right now I am at 75F
    I keep my tanks at about 72/73. I find I have fewer algae problems at slightly lower temps


I know there is a lot of talk in this thread about very granular control of water parameters. I am not sure if I would be able to do that myself.

Here is what I have and do:
  • Start: 2-3 weeks back
  • 75 gallon DT with a 30 gallon sump
  • Using RO-DI water, re-mineralized to 3GH using Seachem equilibrium
  • Inert substrate with root tabs
  • Doing PPS pro fertilizer schedule, NilocG Aquatic Labs' micros and macros every morning
  • 2.5 gallon water change every evening, re-mineralized.
  • Lots of water flow in DT, ensured using two wave makers (heard stagnant water causes algae).
  • Two very high PAR capable lights (sb reef lights, freshwater version).
    I made the mistake of leaving them on for 6-8 hours a day for a week, algae went crazy. Now I am down to 4 hours a day....at around 50% warm white + 25% blue-white Plants pearl just fine.


  • When my tanks are young, I keep the lighting intensity down closer to 35% at peak. I have a different tank and different light than you... so again, there’s no hard and fast rules, BUT, I have a feeling those SB lights are pretty powerful, so you might want to try a lower intensity. Might also want to try a longer ramp in the morning and evening, and sacrifice peak light time. For Example if you did 1 hours ramp in the AM, 4 hours peak light @ 35%, 1 hour ramp down at night. Could even knock that peak down to 3 hours or so, and increase your ramp to 1.5 hours on either end.

    [*]CO2 injection, high pressure
    [*]Have tried dosing Metricide (Excel) Helped a bit
Problems/Issues:
  1. Algae grower expert. Mostly BBA and hair algae.
  2. Most plants are doing reasonably well, growing fast, other than the ferns, which are BBA infested. Sprayed them with 50% Metricide (approx=straight excel).....that helps, but they get infested again, within days.


  1. Ugh BBA. When my plants get BBA....I just remove them. Or cut them down to uninfected nubs and hope they survive. I have not been successful in getting rid of large BBA issues without mass removal or just a complete tank re do.


    [*]HC is not doing good.
    [*]Many plants are growing roots from everywhere, yuck! What do I do? Cut them off?

Here is what it looks like today:

rajdude's "house of horrors" tank...


PS: thanks a bunch for replying and advising me.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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