Algae I'm not sure how to get rid of...

Nathan G

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Hi all,

I've recently set up my first high tech aquascape. I've been getting an algae that just doesn't go away. To try to address it, I've reduced the intensity of the lights (to 35%) and am doing two 50% water changes a week instead of one. This has helped a bit. It also seems the algae is most prominent on the right side of the aquarium.

Some pictures of the algae...
IMG_3244.JPG
IMG_3237.JPG
IMG_3242.JPG
IMG_3236.JPG

For the aquarium setup and tech and full scape pics, check out my journal entry.

Dosing is 2ml per day NILOCG Thrive all in one liquid fertilizer, .5ml per day Flourish Potassium, 2.5 bps c02, fish fed once a day.

Our house has hard water (I don't have anything to measure hardness).

The aquarium is situated in a room that has a window, but a white curtain covers the window, ambient light does come through the curtain, but it's not direct sunlight. The window is to the left of the aquarium.

C02 comes on at 11:30am, lights fully on at 4pm and off at 10pm (sunrise starting at 3:30pm, and sunset starting at 10pm - half hour each)

Nitrates are quite high between 40 and 80ppm before water change (I just discovered this today, and is higher than I'd prefer), and no ammonia or nitrites. Ph before c02 comes on is ~7.6, and ~6.8 to 7 after lights come on. Drop checker is close to a lime green when lights come on.

Any ideas to help get rid of the algae would be much appreciated! I'd like to deal with it before it gets worse.
 
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The support legs on the lighting unit are not long enough, so the light intensity is to bright due to distance between the lighting unit and the top of the water / tank. You need to reduce the light intensity either by the controller if there is one or lift the lighting unit up.

Cheers Paul
 

Nathan G

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Thanks for your thoughts! I was wondering about the flow. The flow is actually the most in the areas where the algae is. The lily outflow is the opposite side of the aquarium, so the flow goes left to right, hits the right glass wall, and flows down to the carpet. I can easily see the flow by watching the c02 micro bubbles. I had an opposite thought where by perhaps because of too much flow, there is algae. But I don’t think that makes sense.

The Chihiros RGB A601 Plus light (new 2019 version) is quite configurable; there are longer legs if I flip them around, and I can configure the brightness using the My Chihiros app over Bluetooth in 1% increments. It’s a 45W light, but I can’t find any PAR data on this newer model.

What I’m thinking so far to beat the algae - reduce light intensity (or perhaps try a blackout for 3 to 4 days), reduce ferts by half and only one 30% water change a week (with reduced light intensity, this would line up with NILOCG’s directions for lower light tanks), and physically remove leaves, stems, or grass that have algae (which I’ve already been doing on a weekly basis).
 

alto

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Given tank dimensions
  • FireAQUA 25 gallon rimless (60 x 40 x 40 cm, 8mm thick)
I don’t think this is a lot of light (I’d not dim below 50-60% .... OK I likely wouldn’t dim below 80% but then I’m less convinced that light is the main issue, those substrate plants need light for healthy plant growth and I’d not suddenly reduce this (short term 3 day etc is fine))

Chihiros LED System - Series RGB - A601 plus
Power consumption 40 W
Luminous flux 2.030 Lumen

There is significant algae, but I’d address this with daily water changes and physical removal, possible use of Excel (I’m not a fan of peroxide as it can be so variable in the bottle, depending upon age and storage)

I’m not familiar with that fertilizer, but presumably the seller/manufacturer can provide guidance - and a list of what each dose delivers in terms of nutrients and amounts

It’s quite difficult to discourage algae using reduced lighting and nutrients, without also impacting plants ... and healthy actively growing plants are one of the best defences against algae “infection”
 

alto

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Looking at the plants, they are definitely feeling some algae pain, but also the leaf structure of the Hygrophila polysperma and L palustris is more subsistence level than thriving
I’ve no idea how much of this may be due to the hard water, just check with your local water supplier (likely the municipality page) for parameters, there should be seasonal averages, as well as many individual measurements collected through the year
(If this isn’t readily available online, contact municipal office and you will eventually end up with the individual that can send you detailed reports)

Otocinclus are the most efficient algae crew for clearing that sort of brownish algae on the H polysperma leafs (though you may prefer to not add these of course)

From your journal thread, you actually have
Hygrophila polysperma rosanervig rather than the “green” version, so this plant name is either incorrect or the plant has reverted (usually due to some stressor) or you don’t have enough light for plant to develop the red pigments
 

jaypeecee

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Nitrates are quite high between 40 and 80ppm before water change (I just discovered this today, and is higher than I'd prefer), and no ammonia or nitrites.

Hi @Nathan G

That's too high, in my opinion. I would aim for 20 ppm maximum. Where is the nitrate coming from? Is it in your (tap) water, from the tank inhabitants, leaching from the substrate? What are you using to measure nitrate?

JPC
 

Nathan G

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Thanks for the input @jaypeecee.

That's too high, in my opinion. I would aim for 20 ppm maximum. Where is the nitrate coming from?
I'll test my tap water this evening to check the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

What are you using to measure nitrate?
The test kit I'm using is from API, so the best I'm going to get are rough results (definite room for error in colour matching).

I see a number of possible sources of the Nitrates (most of which you listed): tap water, waste from livestock, leaching from substrate, and the liquid ferts.
 

Nathan G

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@alto, thanks for your thoughts on this!

Chihiros LED System - Series RGB - A601 plus
Power consumption 40 W
Luminous flux 2.030 Lumen
Actually, the light I just got (a week ago) is the newer version that just became available in Canada; the New RGB A Plus LED Lighting System :)
Power consumption: 45W
40 3 in 1 LED's
2,400LM

Prior to this light, I was using the Chihiros A601 (39W, 5800LM). I must say my viewing pleasure has increased significantly with the RGB! I was running the A601 at dimmer level 3 of 7 (I had it at 4 of 7, but then I noticed algae starting to level, so I reduced it to 3 of 7, which seemed to help the algae growth slow down).

There is significant algae, but I’d address this with daily water changes and physical removal, possible use of Excel
What percentage of daily water change would you recommend? For dosing Excel, would I simply add to the water column, and if so, 1x recommended dose, or higher? For the carpet, I don't think I'd be able to get the water level low enough to hit the algae directly.

I don’t think this is a lot of light (I’d not dim below 50-60% .... OK I likely wouldn’t dim below 80%
Thanks for recommendation. I think I'll give this a try, perhaps starting at 50%.

I’m not familiar with that fertilizer, but presumably the seller/manufacturer can provide guidance
The website lists the following for the macro nutrients (full list here):
2.5600% Water Soluble Nitrogen (N)
Available Phosphate (P2O5) 1.5800%
Soluble Potash (K2O) 9.7400%

And I'm dosing the recommended 2ml per 10g 3x per week.

It’s quite difficult to discourage algae using reduced lighting and nutrients, without also impacting plants ... and healthy actively growing plants are one of the best defences against algae “infection”
I wonder if for reason the plants aren't up taking the nitrogen fast enough, which is why there are high nitrates. Perhaps I need to add some more fast growing stem plants to help with this and out-compete the algae.

just check with your local water supplier (likely the municipality page) for parameters
From the water quality report:
PH: is 8.1
Hardness, Total: 180 mg CaCO3/L
Nitrate (as N) Dissolved: 0.069ppm
Nitrite (as N) Dissolved: <0.01ppm

Otocinclus are the most efficient algae crew for clearing that sort of brownish algae
Yep, I thought of this. I do like them, but not sure they fit with the feel I'm going for. But I will consider them once I get the nitrates under control.

From your journal thread, you actually have
Hygrophila polysperma rosanervig rather than the “green” version
I was wondering about this too, but 1 day after I started using the new RGB light, the leaves near the top started to colour up with pinkish/red veins!
 

Nathan G

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Also, could the canister filter and it's media come into play in regards to water nutrients? The filter is an Eheim 2217, with the following media, and flow turned down a touch:

Flow out
Canister Top

Medium sponge
Eheim Substrat Pro (a good amount of this)
Fine sponge
Medium sponge
Coarse sponge
Eheim Mech

Canister Bottom
Flow in
 

Nathan G

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Also noticed this from NILOCG's website for Thrive All in One: 1 pump(2ml) per 10g will add ~7ppm NO3, 1.3ppm PO4, 5ppm K, and 0.25ppm Fe. As you've eluded @alto, perhaps the lower lighting was slowing down plant growth thereby reducing the Nitrate uptake causing the levels to rise...?
 

alto

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Just because I finally watched it :D


While I know Adrie Baumann I’ve not really followed him (and I’m not a tree scape fan,) so I’d put this video on my Later List
I enjoyed listening to him talk fertilizer and CO2 ... and toilet paper instead of cigarette filters :p
 

alto

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I don’t see anything unusual in your Eheim filter list
(I run fewer sponge media and use an Eheim white pad as the final mechanical but that’s neither here nor there)

Dosing is 2ml per day NILOCG Thrive all in one liquid fertilizer, .5ml per day Flourish Potassium,

And I'm dosing the recommended 2ml per 10g 3x per week.

from NILOCG's website for Thrive All in One: 1 pump(2ml) per 10g will add ~7ppm NO3, 1.3ppm PO4, 5ppm K, and 0.25ppm Fe.

Obviously if you’re dosing 3x weekly that is a different cumulative dose (for the week) than if you’re dosing daily

To quickly reduce nitrates (or any suspected pollutant), you can do 50-75% water change daily, 3 days in a row, then move to less frequent water changes
When deciding on a maximum amount of water to change, take into account your usual change routine (if you do 50% monthly, I wouldn’t do 75% daily just because of slightly high nitrate levels)

If fish are very stressed and you measure significant ammonia in the water, then maybe a series of 50% water changes ages, or a single 90% water change if time is of the essence will be more effective
 
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alto

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To address the algae in terms of water changes, I’d do minimum 50% and perhaps 70-80%, obviously as you change more water, the lowest water level drops more, some fish are very sensitive to this (eg Altum angels lying down flat to keep their fins wet is not something I’d like to do except in emergency) so monitor your fish

There are a couple of ways to use Excel (and some aquascapers have indicated that alternate branded similar products are not as stable, so less effective as an algicide)

Both Filipe Oliveira and Green Aqua have anti-algae videos (Jurijs mit JS also discusses Excel and peroxide in a video, I just don’t recall which)

FO VLOG - Algae

FO Quick update Algae

Green Aqua - Algae Guide
- they will also often mention any algae issues they had with their display scapes (eg the recent Josh Sims scape)

Once you compete the heavy dosing Excel routine, Seachem suggests a maintenance routine

On initial use or after a major (> 40%) water change, use 1 capful (5 mL) for every 40 L (10 US gallons).
Thereafter use 1 capful for every 200 L (50 US gallons) daily

Several forum users have suggested that algae can become accustomed to daily Excel use ... or perhaps they were using alternate brands or alternate sourced glutaraldehyde, sorry I don’t recall, though I’ve noticed that some posters will use the term Excel, then later mention they are using alternate products
I’ve used it rarely, but have always intended to set up a tank using Excel as a CO2 source (as I have soft acidic water, there is significant CO2 release through a documented degradation process - including an observed increase in plant mass i/p Seachem Excel for an aquatic plant (I’ve linked the study elsewhere))

George Farmer dislikes the use of Excel as it’s a chemical (he chose to prune heavily, remove some plants, introduce new plants, increase water changes etc when he experienced algae issues in his recent EA1200 scape)

Some shrimp keepers report issues, others insist there are none - consensus seems to be avoid Excel if you have rare, sensitive, intensively line bred shrimp ;)

Actually, the light I just got (a week ago) is the newer version that just became available in Canada; the New RGB A Plus LED Lighting System :)
Power consumption: 45W
40 3 in 1 LED's
2,400LM

Compare with the ONF Nano +
ONF - Flat Nano
Input 15 W
Luminous flux 1.300 Lumen
Colour temperature 7000 K

As usual, Chihiros seems less efficient than others (not that it is a bad etc light, it’s just lower lumens re design)

FWIW I’ve been running that ONF Nano on an ADA 30cm cube, and the CO2 ran out months ago, and I haven’t fertilized since then, just topped up for evaporation, (couple snails and shrimp so not feeding either) ... it’s a jungle with no visible algae, obviously plant growth has slowed and every day I promise to do Something :rolleyes:
 

alto

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For the carpet, I don't think I'd be able to get the water level low enough to hit the algae directly
If you drop the tank water level, then mix the high dose Excel in some water (eg 5x dilution just for ease of application), then pour this over the carpet area, you will effectively expose the carpet plant to quite high Excel level
BUT
also your livestock
If you have livestock in the tank I would not do this
Instead with the tank nicely refilled after doing as much physical algae removal, measure out the total high dose Excel volume, then syringe this into areas of intense algae BUT use your hand to “waft away” any curious shrimp, fish etc

Note that when you syringe Excel directly onto your plants, you may see some negative impacts, depending on plant species, concentration etc

I’d try Filipe Oliveira method first, then try more directed Excel dosing the following week if needed; follow Seachem dosing in the intervening period, note if performing daily water changes, you can continue dosing Excel at higher levels BUT I prefer a more conservative approach so likely would choose an intermediate dose
 
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Nathan G

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I've finished the high-dose treatment yesterday. It didn't look like it killed off the algae as the algae had no change in appearance and was not easier to remove. As per Philipe Oliverera's VLOG, I was hoping the algae would be easy to dislodged brushed off. But this wasn't the case. In addition, near the end of the second day, I noticed snails and shrimp climbing high on plants and glass, the fish gasping, and an Amano belly up on the substrate. So right away I did a 50% water change and only added a half dose of Excel for the third day (this solved the fish gasping problem, though I did find an Amano on the floor the next morning). As an experiment, for the third application of Excel, I applied it by syringe directly on parts of the algae to see if that would make a difference. I applied diluted Excel with an equivalent amount of water. To summarize dosing: 37ml Excel day's one and two, and 18ml for day three. I've discontinued Excel for now.

After the treatment, I spent 4h manually removing the algae (trimming the dwarf hair grass, other plants, pulling out rocks and scrubbing them, etc). Then did a 65% water change, added a few more plants (Staurogyne Repens, more Eleocharis Mini, and a small bunch of Ludwigia Brevipes) for a bit more plant mass. As a note, I didn't see any difference on the areas of algae I syringed the Excel vs. areas I didn't.

Today, I noticed the algae is starting to come back on the Eleocharis mini. Sigh.

Not sure I want to keep trying the Excel overdose method. Though looking at Green Aqua's algae guide, it looks like the algae on the right side of the aquarium may be a form of staghorn algea, which it sounds like Excel is typically used to treat.

I've upped the intensity of the lighting, which I think was one of the problems (now at 70% 40cm from carpet). But there is likely some more tuning that needs to be done.

@alto, thanks for all the video content and thoughts you provided! Lot's of great content.

George Farmer dislikes the use of Excel as it’s a chemical (he chose to prune heavily, remove some plants...
I'm debating about trying this method... but this may only work if I figure out what the problem is.

To quickly reduce nitrates (or any suspected pollutant), you can do 50-75% water change daily, 3 days in a row, then move to less frequent water changes
Prior to starting the Excel treatment, I did a 50% water change, which solved the high Nitrates as expected.

Obviously if you’re dosing 3x weekly that is a different cumulative dose (for the week) than if you’re dosing daily
Just want to make sure I understand, is it relatively the same dosing say 7ml 3x a week vs. 3ml per day? This is what I was previously doing (the daily equivalent of the total ml's per week). Or is there a difference that's worth noting?

Also, how do I adjust my ferts in the case I'm doing water changes - especially when I'm doing multiples per week to address algae? Would I simply calculate roughly how much fertilizer was removed by the water change each time, then add it back in? Just want to make sure I don't run into a situation where the ferts are lacking.
 
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You're toxing your plants with too much Fe which is inducing a Zn deficiency. The high pH compounds this problem as the metals become unavailable.
 

Nathan G

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You're toxing your plants with too much Fe which is inducing a Zn deficiency. The high pH compounds this problem as the metals become unavailable.
Are you saying the ratio of Fe is too high in the Thrive fertilizer?
What is the high limit of pH that prevents the metals from being available as food for plants?
Do you have any suggestions as to how I can adjust my ferts and pH?
 
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Are you saying the ratio of Fe is too high in the Thrive fertilizer?
What is the high limit of pH that prevents the metals from being available as food for plants?
Do you have any suggestions as to how I can adjust my ferts and pH?

Yes, there's way too much Fe. Plants absorb chelated metals but the amount of excessive Fe prevents their utilization.

A pH above neutral will result in metals becoming unavailable. The more alkaline, the more unavailable. As the metal becomes unchelated, it will quickly precipitate out of solution. Lowering the pH below neutral with CO2 will not make them available again unless so much is added that the water is acidic enough to break the bonds, but at this point, your fauna will have died.

As for maintaining a slightly acidic pH, there are commercial products that can lower it, CO2 if it's maintained 24/7, clay substrates which will reduce the carbonates, RO/DI water and remineralize with little to no carbonates.
 

Onoma1

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I have come the conclusion that there are multiple causes for algae and that different approaches work for different people. What worked in the past for me was:

Blackout for three/ four days (kills algae but doesn't address the causes)
Spot dosing with Excel and Peroxide in persistent areas (in extermis and not for crypts) - alternate days.
Manual removal of any heavily infected leaves

Large water changes almost on a new tank basis for a week or more. Do this before you add the shrimp as they do not thrive with larger changes.

Introduction of a mixed group for cleanup including snails, ottos and cherry shrimp (they may not be as effective as amano but unlike amano they breed in freshwater...). Consider a siamese algae eater - they are very effective, however, can become a bit of a thug as they grow. Feed your clean-up crew when the tank become stable.

Moving to lean dosing following Philipe Oliverera (capsules and osmocote in the base).
Reducing the photoperiod to about 6 hours and then gradually increasing in duration
Introducing a rapidly growing floating plants following the <"Duckweed index">
Tuning in my co2

I have found the Chihiros Doctor 4 helped (some view these as aquatic 'snake oil').
 

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