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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
After an amazing first 3 weeks with my first co2 setup, things are starting to go a bit sour. I have fresh UNS contrasoil in the tank, co2 at 1-2 bps with the drop checker lime green, about 26-32 watts of light, lights on for 6 hrs with co2 coming on one hour before lights on and one hour before lights off. Tank is a 12 gal long. I have a canister with jet outflow, surface skimmer, and a powerful wavemaker so there is plenty of surface agitation as it is a stream tank with 12 rainbow shiners and 2 white cloud minnows. I have monte carlo, dwarf hairgrass, Christmas Moss, blyxa japonica, hydrocotyle Japan, some staurogyne repens, and I (used) to have some healthy mats of UG but it has since melted off. The hydrocotyle is the only thing pearling. Now I went without dosing ferts for the first week, then tried dosing one pump of thrive c and I got BGA. Removed it, did a water change, and added the wavemaker and the algae disappeared. During the next WC I dosed one pump thrive + and again, BGA appeared. I did another WC and dosed one pump of thrive + again and the BGA has only gotten worse. Now I have standard green algae over my driftwood and rocks. It seems like every time I dose the all in one ferts it makes everything go sour, but my plants haven't been growing as well since after the 3 week mark. They started out strong and now things have slowed down. What am I doing wrong?

I know the UG probably melted from the algae and also from the sudden addition of water column ferts. But im only dosing about 1/4 of what EI calls for, so why is algae becoming a problem? I'm doing my best to remove the plant melt, but have a hard time getting the monte carlo because all the new growth is growing off the melted stuff. My nitrates are about 20 ppm but I don't currently have a way to test phosphates. Does anything seem off here? I'm wondering if I'm having issues because of a nutrient deficiency, or an excess in a micro/macro....here's the tank from day 11-16
Green Natural foods Organism Leaf vegetable Aquatic plant
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Here it is today, day 28. UG is pretty much all gone but a few threads of leaves here and there. As you can see algae issue and also the monte carlo isn't looking so hot.

Plant Terrestrial plant Natural landscape Watercourse Grass
Plant Grass Terrestrial plant Wood Groundcover
Plant Botany Terrestrial plant Wood Vegetation
 

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Looks like regular algae as opposed to cyno which is really a bacteria infection. Since this is a new tank with an active substrate, are you doing the daily water change of 50% in the first week, every other day in the second week, and 3 times in week 3 and twice in week 4 schedule? If not then thars your problem. At this point I would do a few BIG 70+% water changes in a row and then do 2 water changes a week for the next couple of weeks before going back to a more normal 70+% water change once weekly. Also can plant more stems or use floating plants to soak up excess nutrients. This is a new tank so plants are not going to be growing well right away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Is it truly bga (cyano)? Or is it sheet? Cyano smells pretty bad. Sheet is more earthy smelling.
It's a mix of both. I always battle with cyano in my tanks, every single one which is what leads me to believe my tap may already be high in phosphates perhaps? Then when I dose macros with the all in one it triggers the cyano? I just bought a phosphate test which will be here later next week so hopefully I may have a better idea of where to go from here once I figure out where the tap is at.

Looks like regular algae as opposed to cyno which is really a bacteria infection. Since this is a new tank with an active substrate, are you doing the daily water change of 50% in the first week, every other day in the second week, and 3 times in week 3 and twice in week 4 schedule? If not then thars your problem. At this point I would do a few BIG 70+% water changes in a row and then do 2 water changes a week for the next couple of weeks before going back to a more normal 70+% water change once weekly. Also can plant more stems or use floating plants to soak up excess nutrients. This is a new tank so plants are not going to be growing well right away.
I didn't do more than twice a week for the first 3 weeks, mainly because only about 1/4 of the tank substrate is aquasoil. I only put in cups of it where I was planting. I'm currently on week 4, so is it still worth doing multiple water changes? And should I try dosing full EI or with my plant selection do you think half dosing EI would be sufficient? According to rotalabutterfly for a full EI dose it suggests 1/16th of a tsp of thrive + 3-4 times a week with one 50% WC weekly
 

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It's a mix of both. I always battle with cyano in my tanks, every single one which is what leads me to believe my tap may already be high in phosphates perhaps? Then when I dose macros with the all in one it triggers the cyano? I just bought a phosphate test which will be here later next week so hopefully I may have a better idea of where to go from here once I figure out where the tap is at.
I'd be interested in if cyano is activated by tap phosphates. I have mainly factored my ever lingering pockets of cyano in my turtle tanks to stagnation (the same thing that's happened in a few of my past planted tanks) but maybe it's a phosphate thing. Though my last test (a month ago) gave me a reading of 0.
 

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In a new setup with good light and limited plant mass the most important thing to focus on is keeping the water uber clean. That means large regular water changes and using organic removal media like carbon and/or purigen. After that light is the biggest factor in how much and how fast algae will grow. So if you didn't keep your light on a tight leash (starting with 4 hrs) and do the water changes mentioned by @minorhero the likely of getting algae is very good.

The active soil has plenty of nutrients for a while. You can only get so much leverage out of co2 in a thinly planted tank since it's benefit is directly related to plant mass in terms of algae control.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
In a new setup with good light and limited plant mass the most important thing to focus on is keeping the water uber clean. That means large regular water changes and using organic removal media like carbon and/or purigen. After that light is the biggest factor in how much and how fast algae will grow. So if you didn't keep your light on a tight leash (starting with 4 hrs) and do the water changes mentioned by @minorhero the likely of getting algae is very good.

The active soil has plenty of nutrients for a while. You can only get so much leverage out of co2 in a thinly planted tank since it's benefit is directly related to plant mass in terms of algae control.
It may be worth noting that this was a fully cycled mature tank that I simply rescaped. So when I set the co2 up, I had just torn down a mature low tech scape, replaced part of the substrate with sand, added handfuls of contrasoil in the planted areas, and rescaped it. I kept my filter media and everything. So the contrasoil was placed in a fully cycled aquarium. My nitrates are always super low (less than 5ppm) so I dose the thrive directly after a WC which at half EI dose takes me to around 25 ppm. My lights were on for 8 for the first 2 weeks but I since cut the time to 6 hours on in total. I have tons and tons of flow in the tank, so the algae and cyano can't be from lack of flow. Does this still sound like a nutrient issue? I'd hate to keep dosing full macros and accidentally put the phosphate level too high. At this point should I just dose micros until I figure out how much phosphate is in the tap?
 

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It may be worth noting that this was a fully cycled mature tank that I simply rescaped. So when I set the co2 up, I had just torn down a mature low tech scape, replaced part of the substrate with sand, added handfuls of contrasoil in the planted areas, and rescaped it. I kept my filter media and everything. So the contrasoil was placed in a fully cycled aquarium. My nitrates are always super low (less than 5ppm) so I dose the thrive directly after a WC which at half EI dose takes me to around 25 ppm. My lights were on for 8 for the first 2 weeks but I since cut the time to 6 hours on in total. I have tons and tons of flow in the tank, so the algae and cyano can't be from lack of flow. Does this still sound like a nutrient issue? I'd hate to keep dosing full macros and accidentally put the phosphate level too high. At this point should I just dose micros until I figure out how much phosphate is in the tap?
The no3 isn't the problem it's any ammonia coming off the substrate. The lights on for 8 hrs was a huge contributing factor in my opinion. When you rescape a tank the existing bio-filter can't react fast enough, which is the REAL reason you have BGA (Inadequate bio-filter/plant mass.) Nothing takes up ammonia like plant. BTW it only takes a tiny amount of ammonia to trigger spores into algae, it doesn't have to register on a test kit.

What light are you running?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The no3 isn't the problem it's any ammonia coming off the substrate. The lights on for 8 hrs was a huge contributing factor in my opinion. When you rescape a tank the existing bio-filter can't react fast enough, which is the REAL reason you have BGA (Inadequate bio-filter/plant mass.) Nothing takes up ammonia like plant. BTW it only takes a tiny amount of ammonia to trigger spores into algae, it doesn't have to register on a test kit.

What light are you running?
Yeah cutting it down to 6 helped. I was completely algae free for 10 days...until I dosed thrive again. On the weeks I didn't dose anything, no cyano. When I wouldn't dose thrive I wouldn't have any issues. But my plants were starting to slow down and melt so I assumed it was a nutrient deficiency. I'm running two Lominie Asta 20s, and they are raised about 6-8 inches above the top of the tank because the tank itself is shallow.
 

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Yeah cutting it down to 6 helped. I was completely algae free for 10 days...until I dosed thrive again. On the weeks I didn't dose anything, no cyano. When I wouldn't dose thrive I wouldn't have any issues. But my plants were starting to slow down and melt so I assumed it was a nutrient deficiency. I'm running two Lominie Asta 20s, and they are raised about 6-8 inches above the top of the tank because the tank itself is shallow.
If the soil is new you probably don't need to dose anything but maybe some pottasium and micros, but either way I don't think thats playing a role in algae. You want to be preventive from the getgo, that means short light cycle, large regular WC. Once the spores are triggered and become visible algae they are like other plants. So cutting it back will help in the long run, but the tank has to catch up with good plant grow.

BTW I have the same tank and yes very shallow so light can easily overwhelm it. I actually rescaped mine, without removing anything other than water changes. Look at my link for 3 foot at bottom of this post. The first pic is rescape and 2nd is what is was originally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If the soil is new you probably don't need to dose anything but maybe some pottasium and micros, but either way I don't think thats playing a role in algae. You want to be preventive from the getgo, that means short light cycle, large regular WC. Once the spores are triggered and become visible algae they are like other plants. So cutting it back will help in the long run, but the tank has to catch up with good plant grow.

BTW I have the same tank and yes very shallow so light can easily overwhelm it. I actually rescaped mine, without removing anything other than water changes. Look at my link for 3 foot at bottom of this post. The first pic is rescape and 2nd is what is was originally.
Very nice! I love the simplicity of both scapes. It's definitely a super cool footprint tank, just hard to get adequate flow on the far side which is why I added a wavemaker in mine. The shiners really love it. I will buy a micro fert in that case, and try dosing just micros and possibly nitrate if my fish don't produce enough throughout the week. Is a 50% weekly WC enough or should I try doing a 75%? My work schedule doesn't really allow me time to do more than one a week. Also, should I cut my light back to 5 hours in that case?

I noticed in your journal you noted you were keeping amanos with your pressurized co2. How is that going? I just made a separate thread about if anyone has had success with them. I've read conflicting info online about it. I'd like to get a crew of them to help take care of this algae.

Btw here's a link to a video of my tank about 10 days ago when the UG was still alive and the algae was gone. Funny how quickly things took a turn. This will give you a better idea of my flow and setup
 

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Very nice! I love the simplicity of both scapes. It's definitely a super cool footprint tank, just hard to get adequate flow on the far side which is why I added a wavemaker in mine. The shiners really love it. I will buy a micro fert in that case, and try dosing just micros and possibly nitrate if my fish don't produce enough throughout the week. Is a 50% weekly WC enough or should I try doing a 75%? My work schedule doesn't really allow me time to do more than one a week. Also, should I cut my light back to 5 hours in that case?

I noticed in your journal you noted you were keeping amanos with your pressurized co2. How is that going? I just made a separate thread about if anyone has had success with them. I've read conflicting info online about it. I'd like to get a crew of them to help take care of this algae.

Btw here's a link to a video of my tank about 10 days ago when the UG was still alive and the algae was gone. Funny how quickly things took a turn. This will give you a better idea of my flow and setup
Thanks, I think you did a very nice job with the rock placement in yours. I've had the amanos in there for two years now and still thriving. I think they only live 2 to 3. I also have well over 100 cherry shrimp from a starting group of just 5. No problems with high co2 (drop checker yellow). I think that's partly acclimation getting them used to it. I did lose an oto to high co2. They seem very sensitive.

If you don't have a programable light, yes I would cut back to 5 hours until things stabilize. I have a Finnex 24/7 on mine so I run only 3 hrs peak the rest is lower / viewing type light so my lights are actually on around 15 hrs. But you can achieve good growth with just 5, I've easily done it starting with 4.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks, I think you did a very nice job with the rock placement in yours. I've had the amanos in there for two years now and still thriving. I think they only live 2 to 3. I also have well over 100 cherry shrimp from a starting group of just 5. No problems with high co2 (drop checker yellow). I think that's partly acclimation getting them used to it. I did lose an oto to high co2. They seem very sensitive.

If you don't have a programable light, yes I would cut back to 5 hours until things stabilize. I have a Finnex 24/7 on mine so I run only 3 hrs peak the rest is lower / viewing type light so my lights are actually on around 15 hrs. But you can achieve good growth with just 5, I've easily done it starting with 4.
Thanks! It's hard getting things to look natural with such a harscape heavy setup but im super pleased with how this one came out. I will test my phosphate, try dosing micros only, and shorten the light cycle to 5 hours. I'll also try out some amanos to help with the algae. Is there anything specific I should do to acclimate them? Ph is 6 or below (api liquid kit doesn't measure any lower) and kH is about 4.
 

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Thanks! It's hard getting things to look natural with such a harscape heavy setup but im super pleased with how this one came out. I will test my phosphate, try dosing micros only, and shorten the light cycle to 5 hours. I'll also try out some amanos to help with the algae. Is there anything specific I should do to acclimate them? Ph is 6 or below (api liquid kit doesn't measure any lower) and kH is about 4.
I usually just temp match the bag for 5-10 minutes. Definitely turn off co2 when acclimating and then let it ramp up the next day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I usually just temp match the bag for 5-10 minutes. Definitely turn off co2 when acclimating and then let it ramp up the next day.
I'm going to stop on my way home to get 4 or 5 of them. By the time I get home the co2 will have been off for about an hour, but I will drip acclimate them for 1-2 hours to be cautious. Hopefully they will help with the algae as well as everything else I'm trying. I bought niclogs liquid fert set, one bottle is macro and the other is micro which is nice because now I can dose both separately. I'll start dosing the micros at full EI and after awhile once the aquasoil looses its potency I will try ramping up macros. I'll update once I test my phosphate and let you guys know how the algae is. Since my UG has completely melted I think I'm going to try some marselia crenata in its place. It's a shame because my UG was so lush and then poof.. all gone within a week.
 

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So I had this interesting situation in which the bacteria in the substrate was eating nitrate and the gas produced by it was producing cyano. I solved the issue by directing a bit of current over the substrate but it was rather amusing. Of course as a bonus the nitrate in the tank stayed below 2 despite a heavy fish population. Probably not your issue but still....
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So I had this interesting situation in which the bacteria in the substrate was eating nitrate and the gas produced by it was producing cyano. I solved the issue by directing a bit of current over the substrate but it was rather amusing. Of course as a bonus the nitrate in the tank stayed below 2 despite a heavy fish population. Probably not your issue but still....
At first it seemed like a circulation issue so I put the wavemaker in and didn't dose ferts for that week. It didn't come back so I dosed ferts the next week thinking the wavemaker solved the issue but then within a few days the cyano returned which lead me to believe it was an over supply of macros. With a planted tank and co2 injection, I need to supplement nitrate because ideally with my plant stock I should keep it at about 15-20 ppm, and none of my tanks ever get above 5. I'm going to try just micros for the moment, and if my nitrates seem too low I will buy a nitrate only liquid fert and dose just nitrate/nitrogen and micros. Im intrigued to get my phosphate test and see if that is indeed the issue at hand. I also got the amanos, all 5 survived acclimation (2 hour drip) and were all still alive this morning. Unfortunately I work all day so I won't be able to observe them once the co2 kicks on but hopefully they are all okay when I get home later. I'm also very curious to see if they work as hard as everyone claims!
 

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Hight nitrates aren't an issue as much as the source. There is a world of difference between dosed nitrates and those that are accumulating naturally from decomposing organics. FYI my tank generally has 50ppm+ of nitrates and 4-5ppm of phosphate without any algae issues. Algae is not triggered by no3, but by any small amount of ammonia that isn't processed quickly.

From my tank journal:

Some notes about setup:

I usually don't test that much other than PH for co2 levels, but ran some numbers the other day. NO3 was definitely on the high end. This is attributable to normal EI dosing and limited plant mass.

PH - Tap 7.6, Co2 enriched 6.6-6.8
KH - Tap 2, Tank 7 (due to Seiryu Stone)
No3 - Before water change 70 - 100ppm, After water change 40-50ppm



Please note, these high nitrate numbers are from dosing dry salts and not from organic decomposition. This tank receives 1-2 50% weekly water changes to keep organics low and KH reasonable due to Seiryu Stones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hight nitrates aren't an issue as much as the source. There is a world of difference between dosed nitrates and those that are accumulating naturally from decomposing organics. FYI my tank generally has 50ppm+ of nitrates and 4-5ppm of phosphate without any algae issues. Algae is not triggered by no3, but by any small amount of ammonia that isn't processed quickly.

From my tank journal:
Yeah my problem is opposite of some people....not enough nitrates lol! Not a bad problem to have I suppose.
 

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You just need to scrub and make water changes. Also adding more water plants would help a whole lot..you've got rich conditions for just a few small scale plants. Ease off the fertilizer until you have more plants.
 
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