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A year of brown algae

Rasbo

Member
Joined
19 Apr 2013
Messages
69
Location
Bromley
I have had brown algae issues from day one in my Trigon 350 which I had originally put down to silicates leaching from the cat litter substrate until I found this site. Ceg told me to dose nutrients which I started two weeks ago and there was a definite pick up in plant growth. I started to dose easycarbo this week too and have noticed a reduction in the BGA already so I am convinced that I am going the right way but I need to find a balance.

So the question is firstly is this a high or medium light tank? 2 45W T5's (one reflector) plus a 2.4W Interpet LED at the back. I estimate iro 2.25W per gallon (on the old scale), any better guesses?

I think it is moderately planted and have been dosing on a medium light moderate basis - recommended dose of easycarbo plus one third EI. Light period 8 hours. Two filters giving a good circulation wafting leaves.

Using logic (mistaken or otherwise) all tests before starting dosing returned zero nitrate so it seems the plants were using any available nitrate so ferts must be the limiting factor. The liquid carbon is at normal dose and plenty of available light means I should increase the EI dose, yes or no?

Barbs are a bit boisterous so please excuse the floating bits. Stem plants are out of the question

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Take lighting down to 5 hours for a few weeks, see what happens.
 
I'll try that, certainly a blackout in last summer's hot weather resulted in all the algae disappearing but it all came back again. Trouble with 5 hours is not much time to enjoy the tank, what about splitting the light into two 2.5 hour segments, would that work?
 
You need to stop testing. First of all it's a waste of money. Secondly it causes you to trek the wrong path.
You have no idea what the nutrient levels in the tank are and you have already drawn an illogical conclusion.
Dose the prescribed amounts and get on with it.

BGA is a symptom of low nitrate values, so the reduction is mostly due to the fact that you are dosing NO3. Easycarbo increases the uptake of NO3, so in this sense it might be considered an indirect contributor, but mostly it is due to the NO3.

WPG is irrelevant so this is also something to purge from your database. The lighting is OK. You can do a 3 day blackout and see if the brown algae goes away.

Cheers,
 
I would suggest you get a couple of golden loaches or sucking loaches. You might want to get some siamese flying fox. It should do the trick. I will agree with Ceg. Stop all the chemistry lab experiment and let nature find it way
 
I would suggest you get a couple of golden loaches or sucking loaches. You might want to get some siamese flying fox. It should do the trick. I will agree with Ceg. Stop all the chemistry lab experiment and let nature find it way
Getting fish to eat the problem algae wont adress the underlying cause though. Its this that needs fixing. Also those fish will grow rather big for the tank. Sucking loaches ie chinese algae eaters can also get aggressive.

It seems that there's more than one type of algae in the tank especially if you look at the crypt leaves too.

As Clive suggested do the black, reduce lighting once blackout is finished to 5 hours a day until the causes are resolved. Dose recommended levels of fertiliser, theres definitely nutrient deficiency in some of the plants looking at the yellowing of the leaves on the swords to the right. Manually remove as much of the algae as possible too. id remove the reflector off the light and as hoggie said add a few floaters.

I know that recently wpg seems to no longer be used but your lighting is quite a bit and your dosing carbon but not fully dosing ferts. So demands from the plants is higher than running lower lighting levels and not dosing correct ferts is leaving the plants deficient.
 
That makes sense and sounds like a cunning plan Alastair. In fact am on day 5 of a blackout as it will eventually clear the algae and may just possibly allow the plants to photosynthesise a bit better. It is early days with dosing anyway so the plants are probably showing pre-dosing symptoms, I have already seeded a full fert dose ready for when it is re-lit.

Will keep you posted.

Incidentally had problems of aggression with SAE's in this tank - tail removal on danios and rosy barbs so would not recommend them long term.
 
7 day blackout has reduced but not eliminated the algae, a week of dosing and have started to see new growth. Added a few extra plants to see if they get affected and learnt a lesson. Barbs like pogostemon helferi, heminathus and are now munching on hydocotyle, no wonder it all gets uprooted. Waste of money that was!
 
On the second picture with all the leafs that are smothered in that brown stuff.

That's exactly what I had on all my plants, I hate this brown algae stuff I see yours may be different (BGA) but from the plants at the back its exactly what I had, so I guess you got different algae problems going on.
They should call this brown diatom algae or what ever it is, the black plague. I always thought BBA was the hardest algae to remove in a tank, to the extent some people use to bleach there tanks and start again. That's madness lol. I now am beginning to think this brown stuff is worst. Clive has helped me deal with most of it. But I had to remove half my plant mass, and now I've had all sort of issues followed. I am an amateur though and can only try my best, I guess more experienced aquarists can deal with it easier.

It seems to kill the plants and makes them stop growing that was the case with me, and in my tank at the moment plants are only now producing baby leafs like 10x less the size of what they should be, and I'm still getting brown edges, but much less of it now. I personally removed nearly all my plants and replanted the non infected (mostly healthy cuttings from plants that were half dead) and took Clives advice on other methods. I think I'm starting to win the war now. I also noticed another guy in the algae section have the same issue, and he was going to give up, not sure if he has or not. I also did lots of research and can see many other people have faced months trying to defeat it. I hope to god I don't have a year battle on my hand. I've removed everything infected now, and am buying new plants weekly, till they can start to win as I think I've solved any underlining issues, but it seems to be hanging on for its life. Good luck with your tank I know how it feels. I hate this stuff.
 
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Another 3 weeks on and it appears that I am winning a bit. Plants are growing and new growth is not being affected by brown algae, still the odd spot of BGA and green spot but nothing unmanageable. These only started after I increased the photoperiod from 5 to 7 hours so maybe the best time is 6.5 hours, I'll try that. Barbs are still eating plants despite me also feeding spirulina in the hope of satiating their desire for greenery. Stem plants really have no chance though the wisteria seems to be left alone. Can anybody advise any other plants they will ignore?

I am mostly left with crypts, anubias, swords and vallis most of which are slow growing and presumably have a lower nutrient need as a result when compared to stem plants. I have been dosing at a medium EI rate with easycarbo but am watching the TDS creeping up daily so suspect that the nutrients are not getting used, anyone any thoughts on this?

I am thinking of getting a load more ottos to clear the existing leaves to allow the plants to photosynthesize better and then trying to find the best dosage but am open to any other ideas.
 
Sounds like your getting it under good control now, well done

You might want to plant more Vallis, perhaps along the back of the tank?

The marine guys often talk about about their 'clean up crews' when setting up a tank, meaning the fauna they will add that keeps the tank clean for them. Typically inverts to eat left over food, alga and churn the substrate for them. With freshwater I see this as species like amano shrimp (and others), Nerite snails and Otos, but this depends on the other fish you will stock of course. I'm not a fan of snails but I like my nerites and they do a decent job for me. So, I like your idea of adding Otos now you have things under control
 
I am mostly left with crypts, anubias, swords and vallis most of which are slow growing and presumably have a lower nutrient need as a result when compared to stem plants. I have been dosing at a medium EI rate with easycarbo but am watching the TDS creeping up daily so suspect that the nutrients are not getting used, anyone any thoughts on this?
Yeah, here's my thoughts. Forget about this and get on with large water changes. Also, why are you dosing "medium EI", whatever that means? Why do people do this? Then they have problems and ask for more advice. Here is more advice: Please add the correct dosing values to the tank and forget about TDS.

I am thinking of getting a load more ottos to clear the existing leaves to allow the plants to photosynthesize better and then trying to find the best dosage but am open to any other ideas.
Yes. Fish do not solve algae problems. Reduce your light intensity.

still the odd spot of BGA and green spot but nothing unmanageable. These only started after I increased the photoperiod from 5 to 7 hours so maybe the best time is 6.5 hours,
Or, maybe the best time is 5. Next week, your algae may be unmanageable.

The marine guys often talk about about their 'clean up crews' when setting up a tank, meaning the fauna they will add that keeps the tank clean for them.
Which unfortunately is another illusion of The Matrix. Clean up crews consume Oxygen and turn uneaten food into urine, ammonia and feces.

Cheers,
 
Which unfortunately is another illusion of The Matrix. Clean up crews consume Oxygen and turn uneaten food into urine, ammonia and feces,

Fair point....

I guess the advice has to be taken in context, adding algae eating species in a healthy well balanced tank will be beneficial as all tanks suffer even a tiny amount of algae...but if things are not going well they may add to the problem rather than take away from it?
 
Yes, I'd agree to that, and also they add to the complexity of arriving at a solution to the problem. If the root cause is CO2, for example, then you are restricted in how far you can go with the improvement of the CO2 methods.

Cheers,
 
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