Algae questions and any other advice....

Discussion in 'Algae' started by Peter1000000, 7 May 2009.

  1. Peter1000000

    Peter1000000 Newly Registered

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    Tank specifications - Rio 180.
    Lighting - 3 X 30w T8s - 2 with new tubes, one of unknown age. On for 11 1/2 hrs /day. Without reflectors
    CO2 - Pressurised - 1 bubble per 2 seconds with a solenoid.
    Filtration - Internal Juwel filter plus an Eheim 2213 with a suspected problem (see other post) and outputting into the Juwel box filter.
    Fertilisation routine - 30mls of JBL Ferropol / week & about 30litres of water changed each week

    Hi, I fairly recently added a pressurised CO2 system running through a ceramic diffuser. I don't have a PH checker and am not sure what the ppm is. However, I do have a home built bubble counter (an old small lucozade bottle!) and have about 1 bubble per 2 seconds. The C02 comes on 2 hours before lights on and goes off 2 hours before lights out. The fish seem happy as Larry and the production of a baby bronze catfish I think shows this...

    Plants are also doing great. All of them growing like crazy and I can see tiny bubles (oxygen?) coming off some of the plants. I have didiplis diandra and Nesaea crassicaulis which I think are supposed to be tough to grow and both are doing great (although only the very tops of the Nesaea are very red).

    I did have what I thought were 3 ottocinclus in the tank, but turned out to be aggressive little sucking loaches. I fished them out (with the assistance of a handy home-built fish trap - thank you again Mr Lucozade) and returned them the LFS. They left about the time the pressurized CO2 arrived (to replace a home-brew set up). Since then - and I have no idea if it's related - I have started getting Green spot algae and hair thread and a tiny bit of black brush algae.

    Frankly, this whole planted tank thing has surprised me with a) how fascinating it is and b) how money-draining it is... I'd like to avoid spending much more if I can. I have a spare Fluval 3+ filter that I was thinking about adding to the tank to increase flow (or at least cutting down the powerhead and using that). I could probably stretch to one of those Hong Kong £10 powerheads on Ebay - but they are all rated at 3000 l/hr. EI is out for the moment because I have a water softener and have to preheat the water I use to add to the tank. I really want to avoid buying test kits etc. because the fish have been happy for 3 months without.

    Where should I go next? Any advice much appreciated...
     
  2. Superman

    Superman Member

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    The types of algae you described Green Spot Algae and Black-Beard Algae are related to poor ferts and co2 levels.

    Just because the fish are happy doesn't mean there's enough co2 in your aquarium. Get a drop checker and use 4dkh solution in it rather than tank water.

    Your photo period seems excessive for nearly 12 hours, I've only ever gone to 10 hours max and limit to 6 hours when things are going a bit wrong. Your algae is showing that there's something up so reduce the light as algae feeds of light once it's broken out.

    I've had a quick look at Ferropol as I've never used it and it says that "does not contain phosphates or nitrates", therefore your not dosing the correct amounts as you need to dose NPK and you're only dosing K (Potassium through Ferropol). I'd recommend something like TPN+ which as all you need for ferts although going the EI route will be cheaper in the long run, especially on a 180ltr tank.

    I would think that once you've added pressurised co2 it's increased the co2 in the water but as you're not doing the required ferts then the plants are being starved of what they need and algae is feeding off unhappy plants.

    I'd also think that having the external filter outputting into the juwel internal filter box just removes the output flow created from the external. Try and put the output into the tank so that it increases circulation.

    So...
    1. Cut down the lighting to around 6 hours until you get the hang of numbers 2 and 3 below.
    2. Get a drop checker to make sure you have decent and constant co2 levels.
    3. Does all the ferts that your plants need.
    4. Change the output of your external filter.
     
  3. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    What does having a water softener have to do with EI?

    Gosh, why would you even consider a test kit and how do you think that can possibly help you?
    AS mentioned by Superman, Hair algae is related to low CO2 levels and BBA is related to low and/or unstable CO2 levels. The GSA is due to poor CO2 or poor PO4 levels.

    I reckon you ought to go here first=> CO2 Measurement Using A Drop Checker and then here=> The Estimative Index (EI) Dosing with Dry Salts

    Bubbles and bubble rates are meaningless because there are no standard bubbles. You must measure the saturation of the gas dissolved in the water as best you can. The dropchecker is the first step to understanding the level of saturation.

    Cheers,
     
  4. Peter1000000

    Peter1000000 Newly Registered

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    What does having a water softener have to do with EI?... because of what you responded to one of my previous posts: "Water softeners that use salt or brine (NaCl) are not a good idea, primarily because the sodium content can become problematic."... As a result of that I thought I couldn't use softened water in the tank. Surely that means I have to put around 90 litres in another tank and preheat it before transferring it to this tank.

    I'm hearing the flow argument loud and clear... And I guess I can't avoid the drop checker either.
     
  5. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh, OK, it's the water changes that is problematic, not EI specifically. It doesn't matter what dosing scheme you use, you'd still need to do a water change and you still would want to avoid adding brine softened water to the tank, regardless. You could do a less volume water change, just dose less - which produces lower speed growth rates and less organic waste.

    Yeah, get yourself a dropchecker mate. It's basically a Fred Flintstone device but it's better than nothing... ;)

    Cheers,
     
  6. Peter1000000

    Peter1000000 Newly Registered

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    Sorry I didn't make it clear.... I have a 30 litre tank that I fill and preheat that I use for water changes. I'm reluctant to get a bigger tank to preprepare water changes as it would have to sit in the garage.

    So I guess I'm doing a 20% water change every week... I've read Ceg's article on EI and like everything else I've read, it talks about 50% water change. But then it also talks about the plants using up all of the nutrients you add so I guess that implies that by the end of the week, water change or no water change you need to carry on adding the same level of nutrients. It also implies that if I change 20% of the water, I still add the same level of nutrients. If so, what is the purpose of the 50% change?

    In fact, as it's Friday night and the end of a stressful week, although I would like to understand how this works, I'd be really grateful if someone could help me with the science and provide the questions but then tell me what I should add to my Rio 180 to get beautiful plants! (or at least where I should start with EI)

    Oh and here's a picture of my tank! It's been going about 3 months or so.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    OK, lets see if we can clarify. There is a lot of information in that article and it's easy to miss some salient point. That's why it's a good idea to read those articles many times over.

    If you check about at the middle of the article, just below where the baseline dosing program is described, you see the following paragraph:
    Quote
    =====
    Many people associate the water change with control of the nutrient build-up, however, water changes in a high light tank are necessary because of the by-products of fish and plant metabolism. Dead or decaying leaves, protein and enzyme discharge, feces, urine and detritus all decompose into ammonia if left in the tank. The purpose of the water changes, is to remove as much of this organic waste as possible.
    Unquote
    ======
    Now, think about this statement because I surmise that you fell into the same trap in your thinking as discussed in that paragraph. You automatically associated the amount of water change with EI and nutrient levels in the tank, when in fact, what we are doing is trying to keep the tank as clean as possible. I'm constantly trying to turn people's focus away from nutrient build up because I see immediately that they grab on to this connection, and then the 50% water change, tank re-set and all these other expressions somehow become dogmatic principles.

    Why such manic attention to cleanliness? Well, dirt in the tank under the relatively high lighting that we have contributes to algal blooms in a huge way. The higher the light, the more likelihood of algal blooms. A 50% water change is always better than a 20% water change. But this is true no matter what kind of dosing you do. i do a 70% to 90% water change. Why? Because my tank lighting is extreme and my plant biomass is humongous. Massive plant mass, being fed massive amounts of nutrients and CO2 produces massive levels of waste. If I don't keep the tank scrupulously clean I get more algae.

    Now here is the connection with nutrient levels;
    Because my lighting is extreme, if I don't feed massive levels of nutrients and CO2 I'll get algae due to poor plant health. So here is the chain of events - High lighting forces me to dose high nutrient levels => High nutrient levels generate high growth rates => High growth rates produce high levels of organic waste => High levels of organic waste causes algae. I interrupt the final part of this this chain by removing the organic waste.

    Many potential EI dosers, who come from a fish only background, are paranoid when told that they should dose Nitrates into the water column. They have been told their whole lives that water changes are to remove the nitrates which are the end product of the Nitrogen Cycle. So they assume that the whole reason for doing a water change is to get rid of Nitrates and this naturally leads them to the conclusion that the EI 50% water change is designed to prevent Nitrate buildup. It just so happens that this is a convenient reality, but it's a reality that has little significance. When you change the water you remove PO4, NO3, Traces as well as organic waste. So if you're paranoid about Nitrates then the EI water change scheme is attractive because it conveniently allows you to dose like crazy and you can have peace of mind in the knowledge that at the end of the week you can rid the tank of all that "nasty" Nitrate and "reset' the tank.

    Card carrying EI Taliban freedom fighters like myself however, understand on a fundamental level that it is not the Nitrates in a tank that one should be worried about, but the ammonia that it starts off as. We also know that the more organic debris you remove from the tank, the less ammonia will be produced and the healthier will be the fish.

    OK, in your case you have a water change limitation. So the idea is to produce less organic waste in the tank than if you were doing a 50% water change. This should now be clear. Since your lighting is not extreme, the uptake rate of your plants will not be as extreme and there may not be a need to dose full EI levels (assuming you have good flow). By backing off the dosing level the plants uptake will be lowered so they will produce lower growth rates which will produce lower levels of organic waste. Again, this all depends on how much biomass is in the tank, how efficient your flow is and how much CO2 is being added. If lighting permits, the plants can adapt to lower dosing levels an will respond by lowering their growth rate. So you can start off by dosing, say, 80% of the EI values and see how that goes for 3 weeks. If no nutrient related algae appears then go to 70% and so on. If you see a nutrient related species then you know that you went too low and bump it back to the previous level.

    In the long run your 20% water changes will work fine because you'll be limiting the waste production, but again this has to be balance against the factors that affect the uptake efficiency in the tank such as lighting and flow/distribution.

    Hope this clarifies. :)

    Cheers,
     
  8. Peter1000000

    Peter1000000 Newly Registered

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    Actually, I think I did understand the article which is why I said "It also implies that if I change 20% of the water, I still add the same level of nutrients.". I was just confused as to why every EI article talks about a 50% water change. Now however it is making sense. So I presume I can follow the guidelines in something like Nutri Calc to see how much of each I should add, taking note of course of your advice to keep certain additives separate.

    So, now I know what I'm doing. Get a flow pump, get a drop checker and start EI with 20% water changes, wait for phenomenal plants...
     
  9. BINKSY1973

    BINKSY1973 Member

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    Please take note of Clives advice on this.

    Good Luck.

    Cheers Gordon.
     

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