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Plant Newb - Algae advice

587 Views 2 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  ScottieB
Hi all,

This site is awesome! :thumbsup: And sorry about the long post, but I figure the more info the better.

So here's a brief history of my tank. For about 7 years I had an aggressive/cichlid tank. Over the last year or so life started getting in the way and I started somewhat neglecting the tank. For about a year I was down to just my Jack Dempsey and a Silver Dollar (which I had to move to a 30gallon due to space) - both of which were at least 7 years old. About 6 weeks ago I moved. I lost the Dempsey about a week before the move, and decided that I would change the tank over from an aggressive, plastic plant tank to a planted community tank.

So when I moved I changed out 75% of the gravel for sand (left some of the old gravel at the very bottom for bacteria), re-scaped everything and added plants. Was very nice but of course my plants weren't thriving in my low-tech tank (a 30 gallon).

My plants: Melon Sword, Telanthera, Egerias Najas, Crypt Wendtii, Dwarf Hairgrass, Rotala, and a Crinum (calimastratum). Also have some java moss growing on a rock and some driftwood.

The changeover put me into a mini-cycle which lasted about 2.5 weeks. after that I added even more plants, and changed my lighting to a NovaExtreme t5HO fixture with a 10,000k light and a pink "plant grow" light. For CO2 all I had at the time was excel. I also was using Flourish once a week, and have flourish tabs in the sand.

Well this caused a crazy algae outbreak (not surprisingly). I'm somewhat new to all of this (really only ever had green spot algae before) so I'm not sure what it all is - can add photos later if necessary. The first thing that I noticed was that my Sword leaves were quickly (like in the coarse of a coupla days) covered in a thin layer of black - it didn't look fuzzy or have any strands, just a black layer covering the leaves. My MTSnails, Amano shrimp, and Ottos show a little interest, but didn't put much of a dent in it.

Then shortly after I started noticing little "tufts" of algae growing on the moss and my Egerias. Then the glass started growing a layer of Brown slime (which the ottos really love, but can't keep up with).

SO doing some more research I came to the realization that I had to add CO2. I set up a DIY yeast system with a drop checker, and soon had my drop checker turn green, and the plants started growing faster (the egerias in particular is taking over!). I cleaned as much of the algae as I could, thinking maybe this would do it for me. I also upped my Flourish to 2x a week (including a slightly larger dose after my weekly 30% water change). I have stopped using Excel as the Egerias did NOT like it.

But the algae is coming back. I was never able to get the black completely off the sword leaves, though I was able to scrape/rub some off. The plant is doing well and had a BUNCH of new leaves coming... should I just prune the covered ones? No other plants have this black coating, but the brown algae on the glass is coming black quickly. I thought this was Diatom, but also thought that was a low-light algae?

Anyway I'm kinda stumped and could use some advice. Thanks very much (especially if you read all of that!) for any suggestions.

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A 30 gallon tank is usually 12 to 16 inches high. That means a single T5HO bulb, with a typical T5HO reflector gives you from high light to much too high light, if the light sits on top of the tank. With high light you need very good CO2 - high ppm in the water, consistent ppm day after day, good water circulation in the tank. And, you need to provide non-limiting amounts of all of the other nutrients the plants need, so their growth isn't restricted by a shortage of any nutrient. Only then do you have a chance to avoid lots of algae problems.

You need to raise that two bulb light to about 24 inches above the substrate, dose KNO3 for nitrogen and potassium, KH2PO4 for phosphorous, and a good trace element mix for the micronutrients, following a dosing schedule similar to that given in the sticky in the fertilizing forum. If you want to use DIY CO2, you need about 3 bottles, with their start dates staggered, so the bubble rate is reasonably steady.
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Thanks, Hoppy. The light is actually raised a bit and should be the right height for a "high light" setup - I used some chart when I set it up.

Otherwise, though, that all makes sense. I actually haven't done any macro dosing yet, so I guess that'd help? Someone also suggested bringing the lighting down to 8 hours a day from 10 - what do you think?
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