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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone I'm new here at this forum, and I have a problem, well several problems.

My 44 gallon does not thrive, I'm not sure what the problem is.

This is going to be bit long, sorry I'll try to keep it short as possible.

I've been in hobby for almost 10 years now and last year I've decided to take on another endeavor into planted aquariums. I started off on my 20 gallon and got amazing results with barely buying anything or modifying the setup.

I decided to take on a bigger tank which would be my 44 gallon pentagon but I needed to replace the lighting and hood, Two 15 watt strips just wasn't going to do. I upgraded the strip to a Coralife 30" 65w CF which had a 50/50 bulb and that spawn diatoms, two weeks later I replaced the bulb with a 10k/6,7k bulb, and that had no effect except reducing diatoms and increasing algae.

The problem is my plants are covered in what I think is algae/diatoms, they are not thriving.

I've been at it since March.

What I have done so far:
Adjust lighting time from 4-6 to 6-8 to 8-10 to 10-12 hours and the higher we go the worst it gets and lower we go the more controllable the algea is but any level the plants will vary slightly in growth.
Dose the tank.
Stop dosing the tank.
Increase oxygen flow via airstone
Decrease oxygen flow
Adjust filter water return flow to not hit the plants but still circulate the tank.

Info Below:
The Tank in it's current tank:
Water clear tho.
No CO2 system.
Lighting set to 6 hours

Filter: Magnum 350 with bio-stars and ceramic rings.

2x medium size wisteria dominated by algae on the leafs.
1x small java fern trying to get it to attach it self on the driftwood.
2x Medium Crypt wendtii along with very small dwarf size one all covered in algae.
**The Plants above were transfer from the 20g as over-growth.
*Someone said that I don't have enough plants in the 44g tank and that is the reason why I'm having this problem.

two rocks LFS bought
Real driftwood, LFS bought decaying slowly.
3" level of river stone gravel.

4x Tiger Barbs *had them since late 2003 same below except for cats.
1x Black Skirt *Had two but one died recently I guess to failing organs.
3x Emerald Cory Cats *Since 2007-8

Only enough to litter the surface water in a 1" radius.
Once a day to the schedule below late in the evening.
Monday = Feed
Tuesday = Feed
Wednesday = Skip/Don't feed
Thursday = Feed
Friday = Feed
Saturday = Skip/Don't Feed
Sunday = Skip/ Don't feed

PWC every two weeks 50-75% water change straight from the tap, not treated.
No dosing ferts. But have flourish on hand.
Grav-vacs minimal, only when necessary. Usually every 3-6 months.
Filter only rinsed every 6 months.

I follow the same maintenance for my 20 gallon, and it's thriving barely any algae growth.

What I want is the algae to be manageable and my plants to thrive.
I also want a {curse} moss wall.

What is my problem?

Any help or advice is appreciated.


Many plants...little time
1,634 Posts
Welcome Mad Professor,
I think you definitely made the right choice by switching fixtures. Light drives plant growth and if you don't supply the nutrients needed for plants to thrive you will end up with algae. However your tap water may be the source of nutrients. Have you tested it?
I would also say that the constant changing of photoperiods will add to the confusion. I have found that small incremental changes work better than larger scale changes. I would stick with a shorter photoperiod. Put your lights on for 6/7 hours a day. Start dosing excel every other day or so, it doesn't do anything just sitting in the bottle.
I would also lessen your water changes, especially since you aren't dosing fertilizers. I would do something along the lines of 30% every 2 weeks.
Find a schedule and stick with it for awhile. The more you make changes the harder it is to pinpoint the problems.
Diatoms are usually common as a new tank settles in and will go away, how long has the tank been up and running? Is there alot of sunlight in the room?
I would definitely also add more plants, probably some low to moderate light stem plants.
A great one that I have used is Bacopa caroliniana.

614 Posts
One thing to keep in mind is that NOBODY has EVER totally eliminated algae from their tank(s). It's all about keeping it to a dull roar. You have to learn a few basic concepts and I'm sure that you'll be up and running in no time.

Keep these in mind:

1) Plants and algae are always competing for survival. If you have too little plant mass in your tank, you'll be leaving more nutrients in the water column for the algae to feed off of. Now that your tank is dominated by algae, you'll have to sort of "hit the reset" button to get it in check. Some people like to do a black-out and leave the lights off for a day or two. Others like to hit the tank with some hydrogen peroxide. Still others prefer to overdose SeaChem excel to take care of stubborn algae problems. Most people (including myself) like to remove the algae manually, then throw in some otos or SAEs to keep the algae re-growth held back as much as possible.

2) Circulation and nutrition are a must in any planted tank. The main purpose for increased circulation is to circulate the nutrients within the water column throughout the entire tank. Remember, plants need nutrients to grow. If you can get the nutrients to the plants through proper circulation, then the plants will use up the nutrients and leave the algae to starve!!! You'll be in good shape if you can get ahold of some method for dosing nitrates, phosphates, carbon dioxide, potassium, and trace elements (I suggest dry fertz. Look here for a good, quality source). Those are the basics, but they are also sort of prerequisites to a quality tank, IMHO.

3) Lighting. You mentioned the impact of shortened or lengthened photoperiod in your introductory post. It's not too complicated really. Plants need light to grow. Plants use up nutrients while growing, thus outcompeting the algae. I've read somewhere that a photoperiod that is too long can result in plants "leaching" out nutrients over time. This can result in a beneficial environment for algae growth.

There is so much more to learn. I suggest that you scour over Rex Grigg's website, then perform some google searches to see what you can find. Algae is a never ending battle, but you can eventually get to a happy equilibrium if you put the correct variables in play.

Good luck!


EDIT: I forgot to mention how to introduce carbon dioxide. In your situation (with a 44g) I would have to suggest pressurized CO2. The initial setup cost is pretty high, but I seriously doubt that DIY CO2 is going to be a realistic approach for that size tank. You can find CO2 cylinders on ebay for <$60 usually, and a regulator can be found on the SnS here. I won't go into the specifics of CO2 because you can find TONS of info on this site.

3 Posts
Hello Mad Professor,

Here are a few observations and suggestions for you.

1) Check your water parameters for nitrate, nitrite, total hardness, alkalinity, and pH.

2)As someone suggested, add more plants. Plants compete with algae for nutriments, and normally the plants win.

3) Tetras and Cories are schooling fish. Add enough to bring your schools up to 6+ for each.

4) One of the best algae cleaners of all time is the diminutive oto (Otocinclus) catfish. A half dozen or so will help over time. They are also a good indicator of water quality (translation: they are an intermediate level fish to keep, and you will be replacing them if water quality drops off [that's from personal experience])

5) If algae is a problem on the glass, a soft mouthed Pleco (either a Rubber Lipped or Bristle Nosed) does a nice job. Get them small, because they do grow.

6) Small frequent water changes, with the water adjusted to suit the plants and fish, are far easier on flora and fauna than large infrequent changes. I prefer to see 10% changes on a weekly or even biweekly in the case of your tank. I marked the edge of my tanks at the 10% point with a silver marker. I've kept the marks small, but it gives a quick reference when you're syphioning the water.

Keep us posted.

Dave (Tetrafin)

3,477 Posts
i stick with 25% water changes a week.
if you stop dosing ferts your plants dont get food. they need to have (N) nitrate, (P) phosphate, (K) potassium, and iron and other trace elements. sounds to me that you're just dosing flourish. that's not enough. even seachems website says that flourish is designed to be used in conjunction with N-P-K. i think that you just werent supplying enough food.
and for the win... pressurized co2. you'll be happy you did it.

75 Posts
I agree with everything everyone said. I would like to add:

- I would start dosing seachem excel at a rate of 2 capfuls (2x recommended dosage) per day.
- Get a better cleanup crew. Amano or red-nosed shrimp will eat diatoms like mad, so I recommend like 10-15 for a tank your size.
- Pressurized CO2!

- Test your tap water. Knowing the KH, GH, pH, and phosphate levels would be a major asset aswell and we could advise better particularily with fish selection.

Of course, if you water is untreated then there is likely a bunch of bleach entering your tank, causing a microorganism die - off and then algae bloom, making each water change more harmful than good.

- did I mention pressurized CO2?
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