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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had growth and algae issues for some time now and cannot seem to be able to figure things out. For starters, here is everything to do with my tank:

Tank- 38 gallon (36x12x20)
Lighting- Finnex Ray 2 (suspended roughly 8 inches above the water level)
Co2- Pressurized system with GLA regulator and GLA inline diffuser
Substrate- Mix of flourite black sand and eco complete fine grain
Filter- Sunsun hw302 Cannister
Tank kept at 76 degrees

I have so much to explain and ask so I am going to try to structure this the best I can.

Last Couple Months
Light- finnex right on tank rim, close to water
Ferts- Sunday 50% WC, Sun, Tues, Thurs dosing of macros (1/16 tsp K2SO4, KH2P04, and 1/4 tsp KNO3) Mon Wed Fri dosing micro (1/16 tsp Plantex)
CO2- Not very high, maybe 1 bps
Problems- Lots of Hair Algae, ok growth yet not nearly what I have seen in some tank journals, some brown algae

A Couple Weeks Ago
Light- Suspended at 6-8 inches above water level
Ferts- Sunday 50% WC, Sun, Tues, Thurs dosing of macros (1/8 tsp K2SO4, KH2P04, and 1/2 tsp KNO3) Mon Wed Fri dosing micro (1/8 tsp Plantex)
CO2- a lot higher, accidentally gassed an amano shrimp and had a couple scares with gasping fish
Problems- Hair Algae improving and not as obvious in tank (maybe thanks to addition of 4, now 3, amano shrimp) a lot more brown algae on tank, plants, and gathering on substrate

Recently (last 4 or 5 days)
Mostly the same thing as the last couple weeks except I have started to not dose KH2PO4 because I got a phosphate test kit and have 10 ppm+ in my tank. I am thinking this may have caused the brown algae. So currently I am dosing 1/8 K2SO4 and plantex, and 1/2 KNO3. Now, I spend a lot of my time on numerous forums and blogs doing a lot of research and compared to some of the tank journals I have seen I am not getting much growth.

CURRENT PLANT PROBLEMS
rotala nanjenshan- not much growth if at all, covered in brown algae
polysperma- washed out and hole filled growth
hygrophila compacta- has started to loose leaves which I have never seen before
staurogyne repens- I have just moved them in my tank but they are melting and I have not seen much growth from them at all, I have had them for a little over a month

I would like to address all these problems but I would also really like to fix my algae problem. The hair algae is not what it used to be but I definitely still have some, there is brown algae all over my plants and glass if I do not clean them, and there is what I think is green spot algae on my glass. I don't know what to do. I do not think it is lack of Co2 because I have gassed a amano and have almost gassed some of my fish on multiple occasions. I did have a drop checker in my tank, however it was yellow all the time and the solution seemed to find its way out after a while. I do have lots of micro bubbles in my tank. Is this evidence that there is co2 or is this bad because it is not dissolving completely into the water? As far as the light, it may be responsible for the hair algae, but it is not giving me any redish coloring on my polysperma or limnophila which causes me to think the intensity is not that high. The ferts may be the culprit. I am doing my best to do research and understand the ei method. I am looking up deficiencies such as the holes in my polysperma when they occur and trying to compensate in my dosing but cant seem to dial everything in. I doubled the dosing of everything a while ago because I thought it was the limiting factor for the reasons above. If you are still reading and can help me out that would be hugely appreciated.

Additional notes- I do have koralia power head for some extra circulation. I currently have 4 zebra loaches and 3 amano shrimp, all doing very well. I feed blood worms 3-4 times a week and am trying to get the loaches to take some hikari pellets. I throw in 3 sinking wafers on the days I do not feed blood worms. The hikari wafer feeding has only begun recently as I only got the wafers two weekends ago.
 

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You might need more light, a Finnex Ray 2 on a 20" deep tank might not be enough. Would explain the lack of growth and algae. Just a thought.
 

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I make no claim to expertise in this area but I'd do the following if it were my tank;
- firstly rule out pleco damage (maybe you don't have any so this is easy for you)
- do several major WC's
- clean your tank, filters, etc
- manually clean up as much of the algae as you reasonably can, you might consider the use of hydrogen peroxide and/or Excel directly or in dips
- remove most of the damaged leaves
- go back to dosing 1/4 tsp of KNO3 & 1/16 tsp of KH2PO4 3 times a week
- not sure about the use of Plantex for the micro's as this is not normally for use in an aquarium so I would try Flourish 3 times a week
- consider use of Flourish Iron to rule that out as a deficiency
- Excel at 1/2 the recommended dose 3 times a week same time as the macro's to supplement the CO2 and to help with the algae
- use the drop checker again and bring your BPS back to 1-1/2 to 2
- lower your lights to 2" to 3" above the tank and make sure the bulbs are no more than 6 mths old and make your light period 6 to 8 hours a day to start

Basically what I'd be trying for is to restart by going back to what is recommended by folks who know a lot more than I do. I suspect if you can get your plants healthy and growing well the algae problem will for the most part be cured so I would concentrate most of my efforts on the plants.
Good luck with it.
 

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i suspect that an excess of ferts and organics is attributing to the stunting and algae bloom.

What is the TDS?
 

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Just for laughs, how about a picture of the whole tank. If you can, try to make the sides barely show so as to get it as close as possible while getting the whole tank in the picture.
 

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What length is your Ray2? Also, how long are your lights on? That might help us get a handle on what's going on. Something is out of balance, but I don't see anything that immediately stands out. I think some more information is needed though to try to pin it down. Another piece of the puzzle is how much CO2 you're injecting into the aquarium. From what I can tell right now, you're doing it using guess work. That may need to be changed. We'll see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
First, I do not know my TDS, I do not have any test kits for those as I have read that most plants can adapt to the conditions of your water. This statement might be showing my lack of knowledge in this area. As for the light, it is a 36 in Finnex Ray 2 on from 730-8AM and then 230-8PM. As for the full tank shots:
 

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I've had good luck with string algae & the plants you have.

For the string; the best thing I've found is to wipe it as often as you can. Let it get caught and die in the mechanical filter where there is no light. It only reproduces from other string algae, so make sure you wipe your leaves and everything.

Make sure this is not GDA, because that algae works differently; you'll make the problem worse.

For the polysperma & other hygros; I'm shocked you are having trouble. I have kept them in a 70g tank with only a double bright led, no co2, no ferts... Just NO3 from beef heart & Blackworms.

It's possible the string is covering the hygro's leaves?

What's you ammonia & NO3 levels?


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OK, here's what I think you have going on. First, lets start with your lighting level. From the LED Lighting Compendium on this site:

PAR Values
Values between 10-30 are considered low light.
Values between 30-80 are considered medium light.
Values between 80-120 are considered high light.

Finnex Ray II
PAR Data(Source) PAR vs. Distance from source
16" fixture: 130 PAR @ 6", 49 PAR @ 12", 27 PAR @ 18"
18" fixture: 153 PAR @ 6", 72 PAR @ 12", 37 PAR @ 18"
24" fixture: 179 PAR @ 6", 87 PAR @ 12", 55 PAR @ 18"
36" fixture: 193 PAR @ 6", 96 PAR @ 12", 77 PAR @ 18"

The PAR values in bold (for the 36" fixture) are approximations by me since they weren't available in the compendium. Also, the compendium doesn't provide any PAR values over 18" away from the fixture. So that will have to be approximated as well. Based on the PAR degradation with distance that is reported, I am going to assume a value of 58 PAR at a distance of 24". Since this isn't exact, let's use the range of 55-65 PAR at 24". This still isn't as far away from the substrate as your light currently is, but it's close. From your raised light to the substrate, you're likely to be in the 40-60 PAR range, which would put you in the middle to upper-middle part of the medium light scale. At this lighting level, you are going to need ways to control algae, as you've seen. But you're still not in the high light/high tech category where you see super fast growth and plants use lots of nutrients quickly. You're somewhere between that and low tech. Even though you have some fast growing plants, you also don't have a very heavily stocked aquarium to suck up nutrients away from algae.

So, with all of that, my suggestion would be to go back to your fert dosing schedule of the first couple months. That's the recommendation for a 20-40 gallon aquarium. You also mentioned that you tested the phosphates to be over 10 ppm. Have you checked your tap water to know what you're starting with? You may have had a high phosphate reading because you're adding too many ferts for your aquarium. Which in turn has caused the algae problem.

The last piece of the puzzle is the CO2. Do you know how much you're adding to the aquarium? And what method are you using to get the CO2 in to the water?

From what I see, you seem to be stuck between a low tech and a high tech approach. If you're going high tech, then get a CO2 drop checker and slowly adjust your CO2 addition to an optimum level. I'd also recommend lowering the light back to tank level if you go this route. If you want to take a lower tech approach, keep the light where it is and go with 1-2 bps on the CO2 and call it good. I think the biggest issue though is the amount of ferts you've been adding. I add the same amount I recommended to you to my 55 gallon low tech aquarium. And it has a lot more plants in it. Well, that is when I decide to add ferts. Since it's low tech and heavily stocked, I don't worry about it too much.

Anyway, that's my thoughts on the situation. Hopefully I didn't get too long winded and actually made some sense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the responses. My goal from the beginning was and still is a high tech aquarium. CO2 has always been my problem as I never have known exactly how much I have been adding. I have always just turned it up as high as I could until I saw gasping fish. I have a GLA choice regulator on a 5lb CO2 canister and I am using a GLA inline diffuser to get it into the tank. I always have a lot of micro bubbles to the point where it looks like my tank is carbonated. I have one of the cheap drop checkers- [Ebay Link Removed] and I use a 4dkh solution I got from GLA. I follow the instructions and fill the drop checker with the 4dkh solution to the line and then add the 3-4 drops of the 'co2 test solution' that comes with it which I believe is the ph indicator. I put it in my tank and it is always yellow. Shouldn't this result in minimal algae growth, especially hair algae? I have read in so many places the cause of hair algae is low CO2. I will get the drop checker back in the tank right now and keep you updated. As for the light I will lower it for now but I am convinced it will cause a massive hair algae outbreak. I will also go back to the recommended dosing for a 20-40 gallon tank although I think I should keep the elevated amount of the K2SO4 because of the deficiency shown in the polysperma. Thanks again
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I realized my link was removed. I have one of the up aqua drop checkers that are like $8 on [Ebay Link Removed]
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thats where I have the rotala nanjenshan that is not growing very well although I have been thinking of replacing it and trying my luck with something else. I want a large bush thats going to fill in all that space behind the rocks in that corner. Any suggestions other than the two that have been pointed out? Thanks
 

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I'd stuff this tank with some fast-growing stems to suck up the excess nutrients till your "keeper" plants have time to fill in.

Algae outbreaks are pretty much par for the course with new tank setups.

The key is to establish stability- which so far sounds like is the OPPOSITE of what's been going on with your tank.

You may also be overfeeding. Try feeding only every other day and see if that helps slow down the algae.

Do you have any scavengers besides the Amanos?

What's your photoperiod?
 
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Stop fertilizing altogether for a few weeks. I find that immediately after I fertilize my tanks too much or too often, I have massive algae blooms. They go away after a while and the algae cleans itself up.
 

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Thats where I have the rotala nanjenshan that is not growing very well although I have been thinking of replacing it and trying my luck with something else. I want a large bush thats going to fill in all that space behind the rocks in that corner. Any suggestions other than the two that have been pointed out? Thanks
Absolutly...I just thought some red/pink might appeal to you as those get the red/pink. Thr Macrandra/red, the other gets pink at the top as it gets to the surface of the water.
But for using ferts up/w one plant that would get large/bushy, especially
using Potassium...except for floating plants you almost cant get better than Wisteria as it quickly shows fert deficiencies. One member said in
a thread he started, that in his well growing tank, he has one Wisteria plant that he needs to trim every week to keep it from growing out
over the top of the water and that about every month he cuts off the top, pulls up the old plant and puts the top back in it's place to start over. Sounded to be just a bit of an exaggeration to me but it grew very fast in my tank at first, but at that time I had bad sub that had way too much iron in it that wrecked my tank till I changed it. That plant died as a result of that sub. But grew like three inches in the first week under 2 T5 bulbs till the iron killed it...and Excel only at normal doses.
P.S. Those Rotala you have, if I'm looking at the right ones(the small plants sticking up behind that rock)which I see between
the rochs on the left...they are too small. When you try to start plants(stemmed) and use ones that small/short, they take quite
some time to gather enough light to get growing well. Frequently my plants have three growing layers on them. The first/bottom is from where they came from, the second from the shop where I got them and the third from my tank...looks awkward to say the least but I try to get them as large as I can cause getting them small was my first aproach so most of the growth would be from my tank but they start so slowly that way I now get the largest and cut out the entire old plant after new stems get established and those are grown entirely in my tank. Much more uniformed.
 

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Too much fertilisers is usually not the cause of algae,not enough of them is. Watch the water flow and distribution,get floating plants and increase co2. do water changes 50% weekly. make the plants happy and they will outcompete algae and keep the ecology withink the tank in balance.also recommending to check UKAPS forum for planted tanks issues.it's great! Good luck

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