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What to adjust first--working on water and algae

869 Views 11 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Django
I've had my 105 gal set up for 9 months. Fish are happy; no losses at all (Rainbows, rasboras, GBRs, cories, serpae tetras, and 3 pearl gouramis).

I continue to struggle with the plants, though. Not growing very fast and seem to be overtaken by algae. Anubias and java ferns have spotty black algae. Also I think I have some beard algae but I'm not sure if it might be another type. Filamentous type algae on the stem plants.
I have anubias attached to driftwood--the ones in full light are full of algae. java fern, swords (doing terrible), Jungle val, and wisteria (doing terrible), and Elodea (doing better than most).

Things I'm considering--advice please!
Using RO water for changes--invest in an RO unit?
Adjust pH down to raise CO2 (if I'm understanding chart correctly?)
Raise KH?
Change light bulbs?

This setup was done for me by a store which I have now realized is not experienced with planted tanks. The choices weren't my own, so any adjustments or suggestions would not be taken personally :)

Water plant CO2 system--with bubble counter--currently two bubbles/sec

48Lx18Dx22H display tank

Magdrive 950
Durso pipe from overflow
Eshopps 125w/d
Bio balls

Current tank values
pH 7.6
(using a chart with pH and KH, my CO2 is low at only 2-3ppm?)

Dallas TX tap water: pH 8.1, KH=3, GH=7, NH3 1ppm, water utility uses chloramine
Why is the tap water so alkaline but not very hard?

I use Prime conditioner. I do a 20-40% change every 1-2 weeks.

4 T5 bulbs:
Giesemann Aquaflora
Zoomed Florasun
Wave point tropical wave
Giesemann lagoon blue

I bought and used PPS pro
First at rec dosage and then at half and now I'm not using it
I have seen some algae improvement
(The PPS pro recommendations: I think I qualify as medium light at my wpg (2.1), 8-10 hours/day
CO2 a bubble/second per 25 gal so 4 bubbles/sec?
Target 15ppm CO2
1mL of each solution/10 gal
So: 10 mL of each solution each day)
I have never managed to get my CO2 concentration up!

I have been using Flourish Excel for a couple of months, one capful daily which is a half rec'd dose, and I think it has improved algae (but I also stopped ferts and lowered lights).

I currently run the lights 8 hours (I have been reducing that too)

I am very frustrated! I am hoping that those who know more can tell me where to start adjusting equipment, water, whatever!
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One thing at a time. Is the light a T5HO ? If so you have like mega light for that tank. It CAN be controled after you get some plants growing well but
not before that. So what brand of fixture is it ?
Some have controls to use 2/4 bulbs but see if it will work if you take out two bulbs and try taking out different ones, both the middle/both the outside ones etc.

· Registered
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The fixture is a wave point and I do think it is HO.
(It came with the stock bulbs: 2 Sun Wave and 2 Superblue 460 Wave, which I found out were for reef tanks. I switched out the bulbs with some advice on the forum.)

Ok, so I guess I figured that part about having medium light wrong?

Which of the 4 bulbs listed would be best to leave in vs take out?

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11,717 Posts
I would not try adjusting the pH.
The KH could be a little higher, but it is not a problem where it is.

I suspect that something else in the water is controlling the pH. My local water company adds sodium hydroxide. Does not show on any test except the pH is in the upper 7s to low 8s.

The pH/KH charts are not accurate to determine CO2. In this case the pH is not where it would be if the only factor was the CO2/Carbonate equation.

I am not sure I understand what you are saying when you are switching around between pps fertilizers and CO2.
Can you specify which ferts you are using, and what dose? And how many bbs you are currently running?

As suggested by kimhigg, change one thing at a time. See how it goes, then change something else and monitor the response from that.

Is it your goal to run a high tech system?
High light, CO2, constant fertilizing?

· Banned
5,927 Posts
Well first with 4 bulbs you have close to if not over 100 PAR depending on how good the reflectors are. Giesemann bulbs not only are expensive but said not to last as long as other brands, but still highly rated for their light. The catch in this one is that I have no idea what the nm's are on the lagoon blue. Some people here just need to hear the word blue and automatically they think it's salt water use.
420nm is salt water use but 460nm is in a spectrum that drives plant photosynthasis.
I know I spelled that one wrong. Anyway that makes the Super Blue 460 a keeper and
the G Aquaflora and the Zoo Med Flora sun are good also. That ZM Flora sun likely doesn't give as much visible light as say the Sun Wave but it's actually one of the best plant bulbs out there. It just needs to be used/w a brighter bulb together.
I would check on the Tropical Wave/ lagoon blue and the Sun Wave to find out more about them. Likely the Sun Wave is either 6700K or 10,000K. I would save the 460
bulbs for when you use all 4 bulbs to put one in/w them but I might check to see that the 460 is not just a name but the actual nm of the bulb. Have you checked to see if only two bulbs will work in it yet ? An alternative to that if it won't or you might just prefer to raise the light by suspending it from a shelf over the tank or just the ceiling.
For two bulbs I'd use the G Aquaflora and the Sun Wave. For 4 bulbs I'd put the
G Aquaflora and the 460 Wave in the middle and a sun Wave in front and rhe Tropical Wave in back. I would not use both of the Flora bulbs at the same time but only to save one for when the first is old.
Really if I had to use 4 I'd buy two T5Ho in 4100K and put them in there as they are not good plant bulbs(almost any will grow plants but some are just better) and those are about $5 at Home Depot. But you will still need to cut the light some if 4 are used.
Just for the first couple of weeks use only 6 or 6.5 hrs. This should start showing
some of the algae dieing off.
I don't know one of them but the other plants are low light plants which grow slowly and do best, if in higher light tanks if under other plants to shade them.
I presume the Elodea is the stemmed plant since I don't know that one. But if you don't put in some rather fast growing plants you may always have problems/w 4 bulbs.
Stemmed are usually in that category. Rotala is easy and faster than like Anubias
and come in many types. Want color get Macrandra or Mexicana.
Working on one thing at a time will let you know what effect it had.A picture of the whole tank would help to make suggestions but one of the stringy fillaments would help identify it. Plants you can take out and throw away later but grow fast would be water sprite and Wisteria. Regular green Camoba also fits that category.

· Registered
1,089 Posts
I'm not a CO2 person but I can't see from memory how you fit injected CO2 into the chart. Most people use a drop thing that displays ballpark where the CO2 is. I hope you can turn up the CO2 slowly or get some help using the CO2 injector, or maybe it's just too small.

I think the way to put things more in balance and get the plants growing. I agree with Raymond that this may involve reducing the light. You may want to consider suspending the light fixture over the tank so you can raise it.

Increase CO2 to give the plants extra acceleration.

· Registered
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I will first try to see if it'll run with only 2 bulbs. It is a pain to remove so will work on that today!

I do not want constant maintenance, so no, I think I don't want high tech.
I have read a lot of stickies but I'm still not sure how to approach ferts. What I had purchased was the dry PPS pro ferts that you mix two separate solutions for macro and trace. I had understood it was a lower maintenance way to go. If you can recommend a simple way to go forward with ferts and east plants for the time being, after going to 2 bulbs, I would love that advice.

My CO2 is at 2 bubbles per minute. Turn it up?

I am currently doing one capful of Excel per day. My tank is 105, so that's about half the max on the bottle.

I did not realize until now that with HO wpg isn't applicable--thus I guess I was trying to be high light without knowing it...
918 Posts
I do lots of water changes, cut back on feeding, and manually remove as much algae as I can.

You should stop dosing anything with nutrients in it. Adding CO2 will probably help the algae. Changing the tank temperature might help, when I boosted mine from 70 to 78 it got rid of algae.

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13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here are photos

Photo of anubias/java fern/ what is left of a sword with its coating of algae (Is that BBA?)
Whole tank
The stem plant in back is what I called Elodea but I may have misidentified it.


· Registered
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Oh yes--I threw in a bunch of hornwort a couple of months ago from my son's tank because I was trying to eat up some nutrients. It grows, of course! Weirdly, the wisteria really does poorly. I guess it wants less light? So confusing!

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1,089 Posts
I think you need to fertilize in order to get the plants to do well, regardless of the algae. You want the plants to be growing well so they will outcompete the algae for resources.

You can read about Tom Barr's Estimated Index System
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