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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife and I have maintained a planted freshwater tank for a couple of years now. Nothing extravagant but it survived with little to no algae attacks. After doing a bit of researching and watching youtube vlogs about tank design and maintenance we decided to upgrade our aquarium to a larger size, try out a new substrate, use more driftwood and introduce a new filter, water heater, and light, keeping the original live plants. The result is a tank that has been running for roughly 3/4 months, started out very well but in the last month or so has seen a rise in BBA. We're hoping to correct this issue and in general, get our tank performing as well as it can be.

We've invested a fair amount already in the redesign so our budget for solutions isn't huge but we want to do what's best for our fish and their environment.

Here's the details of our setup:
- Tank size: 20 Gallon Tall
- Heater: Fluval 300w heater, set to 79F
- Light: 30" Beamworks DA 6500K, no dimmer, had it running for four hours a day. Currently, no light to starve algae for the last few days, to no avail.
- Filter: Aquaclear 50, Original media, has been lightly rinsed during cleanings but not replaced.
- Fish: 10 Fish: Two Catfish Coreys, one Black Kuhlii Loach, one Bristlenose Pleco, four Black Long Skirt Tetras, one Betta, One Clown Placo
- Plants: Nana Petite (Close to the surface mounted on driftwood, seeing the biggest hit of BBA), Ozelot (planted on the bottom also seeing BBA), Amazon Sword (has a bit of green slime-like algae).
- No CO2
- Test Strip Reading: Nitrate 40, Nitrite .5, Hardness 200, Chlorine .5, Alkalinity 80, PH 7.2 (We know hardness is high and have tried water softeners, but no improvement)
- Dosing: Algae fix using bottle recommended dosing.
- Substrate: Activ-flora planted aquarium substrate, has been in the setup for 3/4 months.
- Cleaning regimen: Once a week, rinse sponge filter & top-up water. Every 3/4 weeks a 25% water change is made while cleaning.
- Circulation: No heavy current in the tank due to the Betta, but water is kept moving fairly well from the filter.
- Water source: City water, dose with Seachem Prime as recommended to reduce chlorine.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies!
For water testing, I have been using EasyStrips from Tetra. I re-tested again last night and got the same levels for Nitrites & Chlorine.
I ordered a new pack of sponge filters since our current one has been in the setup for some time now, I'm hoping that will cut down nitrites a bit. I hear of some people rarely ever-changing their sponge filter, and others change it religiously every couple weeks, I guess this is just something that's unique to the setup?

For the chlorine, I suppose we'll have to individually test the water before it is added to the tank. I always just figured if you're doing the correct dosage per water ratio, you're in the clear. Maybe our water is more chlorinated then others? Also, I will try doing the %25 water changes weekly as Mark suggested.

You mentioned Excel, I haven't heard of that product yet but the results I'm seeing online seem awesome.
I tried to look up "Spot Treating" though and got a few different methods. Some isolating the plants in a bin containing a double dose of Excel. Others used some sort of syringe to deliver the liquid around the affected plant. Which are you referring too?

Moke, that is an awesome find! I wasn't aware beam works made a dimmer, and for so cheap! I was worried our light output was a little high but damn, there is some insanely scientific research that I was having a hard time following haha.

The bristlenose is in a bit of a grey area, while technically okay in a 20 gallon I know some can get a bit too big for that environment. Ours seems to have reached full growth just shy of 4 inches so for now we're okay, but don't worry, if any bigger we'll need to start thinking of a new enclosure no delusions here haha.

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Currently, we are not using any ferts so unfortunately, I guess that means we have a fairly dirty tank haha.
I did go ahead and order the dimmer unit for our light though, so soon ill be able to start reducing that based on Moke's recommended parameters. What you mentioned about it reaching a tipping point makes complete sense and its good to know that we may need to be a bit more thorough because of the pleco. I think my problem is that I never connected essentially fixing algae with water changes, I always figured if the tank was looking free of dirt and the fish are doing fine then that cant be the issue. Which reminds me I'll need to get some more test strips, do you have any particular recommendation for those, or are testing strips all pretty much the same? Also, in your opinion what would be considered too many water changes? I would assume you wouldn't want to do more than two 25% changes a month to keep in the good bacteria right?

Thank you very much for the regimen! These kinda precise solutions are exactly what I was hoping for. When dosing with Excel, would there be any benefit to spot treat one day and dosing the whole tank the other? I guess its kinda lucky that all of our anacharis previously died off during the tank revamp, hopefully, the other plants will do okay. With the added stress though maybe we should start using some sort of ferts, are they any in particular that have worked well for you? Also, I'm guessing to take one thing at a time and get rid of the BBA with excel before starting a fert routine?

Sorry Moke, Didn't see your note on the 50% water changes. It's really safe to do that? It seems like so much haha, what about all these beneficial bacteria that I hear people are concerned about getting rid of?

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Alright, Its been a weekend of changes for the tank! Hopefully, we're on the right track now and will start to see some improvement.
The light is still not dimmed yet, that component is being shipped but here's where we're at.

Also got some photos of the tank.[email protected]/shares/1u9PJU
should be 3 shots in this album, one right after cleaning on friday, one after the addition of the plants on saturday, and one on sunday after things setted. Not to much difference in algae yet but the new plants look good!

Friday night I did a deep clean on the tank and cut away any dead leaves that were a result of the light deprivation. Luckily most of our plants faired pretty well, downside so did the algae, but at least it did not grow any further so that's kind of a win.

On Saturday we purchased Excel and a couple of stem plants. Those plants were added in and we did our first large dose of excel based following the bottle's instructions. Sunday and today got the smaller recommended dose. So far not really any difference, but still not getting any worse even with the light on at regular power.

Tomorrow ill be doing a large water change following what Fermentedfunk, Moke, and Stlhokie recommended.
Fermentedfunk - thank you for clarifying that! I know I've accidentally rinsed the sponge using the tap in the past. I'll make sure to not let that happen again! haha
Moke - what do you think after the next water change. Do you let things balance out and see what happens to the algae or do I continue dosing the Excel on a regular schedule?

Stlhokie- I wish we could lower our temp a bit but unfortunately 78 is getting to the minimum temp some of our fish can handle. And thanks for the recommendation for the test kit, It seems like those things are pricing no matter which one you get, so I at least want to know its one people aprove of haha.

Deedledee- Im glad to hear that your tank recovered! Luckily our algae is only in a few spots and hasn't started to spread much but im hoping we can take care of it early. Thats the strange thing too is we go no new plants or critters since the tank was reset, I suppose it may have tagged along with something early on and the conditions wernt right until now. Like you mentioned I think ill be doing quite a few water changes in the coming weeks haha.
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