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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 4 planted tanks, all of which have developed problems in the past couple months. OK, a couple of them for many months. First the parameters:
All tanks are CO2 injected, canister filter of various brands, PC lighting over 3 Watts per gallon. I used to dose individual nutrients but have changed to PMDD. Mix Tap water/RO water.

2 tanks have never settled. I have had all sorts of algae problems, the worst being blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) that took months to clear. I finally resorted to erythromicin which worked like a charm. All 4 tanks seem to have developed BG algae, green thread algae, and now brown slime algae. The brown slime develops only near the top of the tanks.

I decided to switch to PMDD because it is simpler and my life has gotten more complicated. I also thought maybe I could control the algae better.

I've only been doing PMDD for a few weeks. After a couple weeks, ALL the algae died out the tanks. Good. Then I developed brown slime algae AND the plants started showing deficiencies. In all my tests, Nitrates are around 5ppm, NO phosphate, and as far as I can tell, NO iron. But my iron test might not be any good anymore. The red plants are REALLY red and even the crypts are looking redder than usual. The sags are really light green and the hygro kompakt is yellow around the edges. some leaves show holes but I think that happens after the leaves die, not a deficiency. Still have brown algae growing.

So I started adding some phosphate every couple days. I also added Epsom salts to my PMDD (didn't think I needed it the first time) to make sure there was enough Magnesium. I also doubled my dosing to 4 drops per 10 gallons since it seemed there was not enough of ANY nutrients.

So here's the pictures. All the plants are actually starting to do better, though the brown algae is still growing like crazy. Should I just continue, allowing more time for my new dosing regime to settle? Or am I missing something? Could it be old bulbs? It's been about 10 months so maybe time for new ones. I change 50% water every week, though or a while it was closer to 10 days for most. I've also been cleaning the filter every week instead of every 2 or 3 like I used to.

Open to any and all suggestions/ideas. I'd like to hope I'm on the right track and the tanks will settle down if I continue.
 

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How long is your photoperiod?

If you are dosing one of the prescribed methods(such as PMDD) then all I can say is that you either need more co2 or less light, either less intensity or a shorter photoperiod. If you've got a drop checker with 4 dKH solution and it is green, then just cut back on your light.

Most algae problems are caused by too much light. People think it's something else, like they aren't using the magic fertilizer formula, but it just comes down to too much light.

If your photoperiod is longer than 8 hours, it needs to be cut back. If it is currently 6-8 hours, then I'd drop down the intensity of light. Does it get indirect sunlight? This could be another factor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Jeffrey. I do really appreciate your input. However I've run 2 of my tanks for 1 year and a half at 12-hour photoperiods before I had any algae, so I'm not convinced that's necessary. I agree that it's a great help when you have an algae problem, which is why I cut it back when the problem began.

My current problem is trying to ID the nutrient deficiency in these plants. Anyone able to recognize it from the pictures? My guesses are still either Magnesium or Phosphorous.
 

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I don't see any deficiency, only the brown algae. If you're dosing strict PMDD then that does not contain any PO4, so you could definitely have a deficiency there, but I don't see it in the plants and it's not the cause of your algae woes. Low Mg also does not cause algae issues. I don't see a problem with how the plants are growing, so if it's there it's just not visible in the pics.
 

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Your plants are definitely showing one or multiple nutrient deficiencies. My first guesses would be N and/or Fe.

PMDD is a mixture of fertilizers. What's in yours? Do you dose micros?

Are you sure you have 5 ppm of NO3 in there? Do some verification, test tap water, distilled water, and tank water and see what the differences are.

With lots of light and CO2, you might want to try to go back to an EI style dosing with separate nutrients, now that some of the alga is gone. If life is complicated, make it easier by setting up automatic dosing. Dissolve 2 weeks of nutrients in a container, and dose with a little pump on a minute timer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hey thanks for all the help. Yes, my PMDD has everything but PO4, including the micros and boron. The micro mix was bought premixed so it even has enough Magnesium. I have 4 tanks to dose so auto dosing would be a bit much for my budget right now. Still, I might go back to separate nutrient dosing as it seemed to be much better than what I'm getting now.

Is it possible I'm just not dosing enough on the PMDD system? I just doubled the dose about 5 days ago so maybe too soon to notice. I'm now using 4 drops per 10 gallons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I also just figured out that I'm at over 4 watts per gallon with lights, so maybe I do need to increase the amount of nutrients. More light means plants want to grow more but they need nutrients. That would explain why all my nutrients except nitrates test 0 all the time, though I'm dosing every day. It would also mean that I'm right about Phosphate being the missing nutrient as I wasn't doing it at all and now only every other day.

Do those leaves look like phosphate deficiency?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've learned SO much the past couple months that I thought maybe I should share. Put back some of that karma from the people out there who have helped me on this forum.

So my algae problems continued since the last posts, cycling through various types of algae, really taking over my tanks. I finally figured out the problem: I had switched from dosing individual nutrients to PMDD. I kept testing and even tried playing around with the recipe a bit (adding KNO3, etc), but nothing seemed to work. Now maybe I made a mistake making the PMDD, but I finally switched back to dosing individual nutrients and within DAYS the plants took off again and the algae began to die out.

I can't believe how quickly the tanks turned around. I've read how you need to add more nutrients if you're having algae problems to the plants can out-compete the algae, but it realy worked. It took about a week for 2 big tanks and maybe another week to go on the 3rd (Had to take down 1 due to lack of time). In the meantime I lost quite a lot of plants but the tanks are already looking good again.

So in the end, the problem wasn't the lights or any particular nutrient deficiency. Just not enough of them--Maybe because I have high lighting and CO2.

Hope this helps somebody down the road.
 
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