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Black Beard Algae Keeps Coming Back!

Zervais

Seedling
Joined
16 May 2021
Messages
18
Location
Norfolk
I’m really desperate and at the end of my rope in regards to a constant supply of black beard algae which doesn’t want to leave. A few months ago I took drastic action and removed all the plants and decor, and dipped them in hydrogen peroxide for two minutes. Unfortunately most turned to mush within a few days of being returned to the tank and I had to buy a load more. Now I’m getting it back again and I really can’t figure out why. I’ve also got some plants which refuse to grow, which isn’t helping.

My tank is 200L, running a Fluval plant 3.0 at 30% (40% up until last week) from 10:30am to 6pm. Every day I’m dosing liquid co2 (8ml - easy life/easy carbo) and 3ml of TNC complete.

Stocking is 3x pictus catfish, 7x tiger barb, 7x Congo tetra, 1x Apistogramma Cacatuoides, 1x blue acara, 1x rainbow cichlid, 1x synodontis nigrita.

Every week I perform 50% change in the water. My filter is oase biomaster 650, I also run UV, and an aquarium circulator/wave maker. I feed once every two days and regularly make sure the filter isn’t inundated with waste.

Plants are mostly hygrophilia, a few crypts, Java fern, anubias, and a few others which don’t seem to want to grow. A lot are also covered with brown algae but my tank is nearly a year old!

Can anyone shed some light on this nuisance of a problem and how I can fix it? Also what more can I do to make my plants actually grow!
 

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Kevin Eades

Member
Joined
24 Jan 2021
Messages
202
Location
Portsmouth
I would suggest increasing the fertiliser amount. This will keep the plants healthy and reduce algae growth. 3ml seems a bit low.
I need to use 6ml a day tropica or my plants struggle in my low tech fluval flex 57. I don't use carbon supplements in my low tech and no BBA present. In my high tech tank I see BBA when I have poor co2. Reduced flow or bottle running out are my main culprits.
Light seems a bit low at 30% the fluval lights are not as bright as most top spec lights so your plant might be lacking light to grow well. This will cause algae again as the plants dying releases organics for the algae to thrive off.
 

Raws69

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Joined
5 Oct 2020
Messages
173
Location
Essex
Hi 3ml complete seems really low. Speaking to the guys at aquarium gardens when I set mine up, the recommended dosage on the bottle doesn’t necessarily account for how heavily a tank is planted. For instance I have an ae900 c200l and dose 30ml daily. from the knowledge I’ve gathered from various posts here you can’t really overdose on ferts, hence most would recommend mixing your own to cut down on cost As most pre-mixed solution are mostly water.
 

Zervais

Seedling
Thread starter
Joined
16 May 2021
Messages
18
Location
Norfolk
I would suggest increasing the fertiliser amount. This will keep the plants healthy and reduce algae growth. 3ml seems a bit low.
I need to use 6ml a day tropica or my plants struggle in my low tech fluval flex 57. I don't use carbon supplements in my low tech and no BBA present. In my high tech tank I see BBA when I have poor co2. Reduced flow or bottle running out are my main culprits.
Light seems a bit low at 30% the fluval lights are not as bright as most top spec lights so your plant might be lacking light to grow well. This will cause algae again as the plants dying releases organics for the algae to thrive off.
Thank you for the advice! I’ll double the dose. Do you recommend any other fertiliser as I’m almost out anyway and wouldn’t mind trying something else. Also what level would you run the light at? I think before when I had the algae issue I was running it about 80-100%, so perhaps I should try 60%?
 

Kevin Eades

Member
Joined
24 Jan 2021
Messages
202
Location
Portsmouth
Thank you for the advice! I’ll double the dose. Do you recommend any other fertiliser as I’m almost out anyway and wouldn’t mind trying something else. Also what level would you run the light at? I think before when I had the algae issue I was running it about 80-100%, so perhaps I should try 60%?
Make one change at a time. I would suggest up the fertiliser and wait a couple of weeks if the plants look like they are growing better then up the light. It will take a while for the plants to react to the change in nutrients. so if you turn light up too soon the algae will bloom before the plants are going again. I would say once you get the nutrients and healthy plants I would expect you to be at least 60%
 

Kevin Eades

Member
Joined
24 Jan 2021
Messages
202
Location
Portsmouth
Also you have the Roma tank which is very deep so the light a substrate level is poor. You can see this your plants are healthy further up the tank. I have the same on my roma 90 and I have 2 nicrew lights at 100% to carpet it is high tech though
 

Zervais

Seedling
Thread starter
Joined
16 May 2021
Messages
18
Location
Norfolk
Also you have the Roma tank which is very deep so the light a substrate level is poor. You can see this your plants are healthy further up the tank. I have the same on my roma 90 and I have 2 nicrew lights at 100% to carpet it is high tech though
I’ll definitely up the lighting in it after trying the fertilisers. I wonder if you could give me some quick advice on two of my other tanks too? I have a Fluval flex 34L and 57L, the 34 I run on the same schedule at 30%, daily carbon and ferts, but I’m getting this type of sludge/whispy algae. What’s the cause of this one? The first two photos are of the 34.

The 57L suffers with a kind of black beard algae too. I also recently brought the carpeting grass, will I need to up the level? It’s also 30% with daily ferts and carbon. Oh and I upgraded both lights to the Fluval plant nano. The second two photos are of this tank. Thank you again, it saves me making another post. :)
 

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Kevin Eades

Member
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24 Jan 2021
Messages
202
Location
Portsmouth
I’ll definitely up the lighting in it after trying the fertilisers. I wonder if you could give me some quick advice on two of my other tanks too? I have a Fluval flex 34L and 57L, the 34 I run on the same schedule at 30%, daily carbon and ferts, but I’m getting this type of sludge/whispy algae. What’s the cause of this one? The first two photos are of the 34.

The 57L suffers with a kind of black beard algae too. I also recently brought the carpeting grass, will I need to up the level? It’s also 30% with daily ferts and carbon. Oh and I upgraded both lights to the Fluval plant nano. The second two photos are of this tank. Thank you again, it saves me making another post. :)
I run my fluval flex light at 100% and it's definitely not bright enough in my opinion. I have both white and red leds on full. I'll add a picture of my flex. Its a mess and is getting a rescape next week on furlough. I uprooted the wood cleaning the glass. I have a bit of algea on one anubius but this is common as they grow so slow so if in direct light it will happen. Once you get some new growth like you have remove the old. Not sure about the whiteness of the algae. As I said I'm using 6ml of tropica specialised at the moment but that's as I had it from my high tech. I've moved them to DIY EI ferts as much cheaper.
20210713_174644.jpg
 

MichaelJ

Member
Joined
9 Feb 2021
Messages
879
Location
Minnesota, USA
Can anyone shed some light on this nuisance of a problem and how I can fix it? Also what more can I do to make my plants actually grow!
This is fundamentally an imbalance between available CO2, light, ferts, waste and possibly flow/circulation... Those crypts, ferns and Anubias are getting blasted with light - thats a standing invitation to algae. What you need to do is lower your light intensity... like way down... I'd say 50% of what it is now... to starve off the algae on those slow growers - also increase your NPK - especially Nitrate and Phosphate. I am pretty sure the ferns and anubias will recover - and hopefully the crypts - I am not so sure about the Hygros. Also up the weekly WC to 70-80% at least for a while until the tank starts to recover. You may find this thread helpful: lots of great insights!



Cheers,
Michael
 
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Zervais

Seedling
Thread starter
Joined
16 May 2021
Messages
18
Location
Norfolk
This is fundamentally an imbalance between available CO2, light, ferts, waste and possibly flow/circulation... Those crypts, ferns and Anubias are getting blasted with light - thats a standing invitation to algae. What you need to do is lower your light intensity... like way down... I'd say 50% of what it is now... to starve off the algae on those slow growers - also increase your NPK - especially Nitrate and Phosphate. I am pretty sure the ferns and anubias will recover - and hopefully the crypts - I am not so sure about the Hygros. Also up the weekly WC to 70-80% at least for a while until the tank starts to recover. You may find this thread helpful: lots of great insights!



Cheers,
Michael
Hi, thanks for the input! I’m a little confused though because Kevin suggested I needed to increase the lighting? It’s only at 30% and apparently the tank is too deep for that to really make an effect on the plants close to the bottom, hence why many are top heavy. Now I’m not sure what to do. I can definitely up water changes and I already have a wave maker which is running at about 25%, it’s extremely strong otherwise and blows my hygrophilia about. I don’t appear to have any dead spots or waste collecting anywhere which is good. I actually ran a phosphate test and it came up between 1.5 and 2, so I added in some phosphate remover media from Seachem and used the lite fertilisers for a little while, but I’ve recently gone back to the regular and removed the phosphate media from my filter.
 

MichaelJ

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9 Feb 2021
Messages
879
Location
Minnesota, USA
Hi, thanks for the input! I’m a little confused though because Kevin suggested I needed to increase the lighting? It’s only at 30% and apparently the tank is too deep for that to really make an effect on the plants close to the bottom, hence why many are top heavy. Now I’m not sure what to do.
@Zervais I was judging from the pictures. Its arguably tricky to judge light intensity from a photo and the relative percentage of the specific light panel in use. So what you have already done to reduce intensity might be enough. That said, I had BBA in the past on Anubias and the only prescription that cured it was to lower the light intensity - it took me a while to accept how low I had to dial down my light - and I have the lights on for 12 hours a day (including ~45 minutes of sunrise/sunset ramping). The rest of the plant mass just adapted by growing slower even the ones that are generally thought of as medium/high intensity plants.

I can definitely up water changes and I already have a wave maker which is running at about 25%, it’s extremely strong otherwise and blows my hygrophilia about. I don’t appear to have any dead spots or waste collecting anywhere which is good. I actually ran a phosphate test and it came up between 1.5 and 2, so I added in some phosphate remover media from Seachem and used the lite fertilisers for a little while, but I’ve recently gone back to the regular and removed the phosphate media from my filter.
High levels of basic nutrients do not cause algae in my experience - whereas low levels of Nitrate seems to help gain BGA get a foothold and low levels of Phosphate may help GSA and hair algae to gain a foothold. I run both my densely planted low-tech tanks at 40ppm Nitrate and 40 ppm Phosphate fairly consistent with my dosing and have zero algae to speak of, but I think the most important factors are my low light levels, weekly WC, good filtration and flow.

Cheers,
Michael
 
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Zervais

Seedling
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16 May 2021
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18
Location
Norfolk
@Zervais I was judging from the pictures. Its arguably tricky to judge light intensity from a photo and the relative percentage of the specific light panel in use. So what you have already done to reduce intensity might be enough. That said, I had BBA in the past on Anubias and the only prescription that cured it was to lower the light intensity - it took me a while to accept how low I had to dial down my light - and I have the lights on for 12 hours a day (including ~45 minutes of sunrise/sunset ramping). The rest of the plant mass just adapted by growing slower even the ones that are generally thought of as medium/high intensity plants.


There are no correlation between algae and basic nutrients in my experience - except if the plants are starving - I run both my densely planted low-tech tanks at 40ppm Nitrate and 40 ppm Phosphate fairly consistent with my dosing and have zero algae to speak of.

Cheers,
Michael
I’ll give it a shot dialling it down to 10-20%, and in the other tank with the weird brown sludge like algae. I’m running the plant 3.0 and this is the new levels, what do you think? I’m also going to switch to flourish and flourish excel and dose about 1.5x the recommend amount. Does all this sound good?
 

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Kevin Eades

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I’ll give it a shot dialling it down to 10-20%, and in the other tank with the weird brown sludge like algae. I’m running the plant 3.0 and this is the new levels, what do you think? I’m also going to switch to flourish and flourish excel and dose about 1.5x the recommend amount. Does all this sound good?
I still stand by my advice if you are after algae free anubius it needs to be shaded or just deal with the leaves after a while. If you want just the anubius alive I suggest turn the light down but you stem plants will die. They are already questionable if they recover. I don't think 100% algae free is ever achievable you get to a point where its managed by the clean up crew. What do you have in the tanks for algae control ?
 

MichaelJ

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9 Feb 2021
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879
Location
Minnesota, USA
I’ll give it a shot dialling it down to 10-20%, and in the other tank with the weird brown sludge like algae. I’m running the plant 3.0 and this is the new levels, what do you think? I’m also going to switch to flourish and flourish excel and dose about 1.5x the recommend amount. Does all this sound good?
Flourish alone won't give you enough NPK in my opinion - for trace its (probably) fine. I would dose additional Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potassium to make sure those levels are adequate. Personally I am not a believer in reducing the photoperiod. If your intensity is balanced (low) I would feel safe to increase the time the lights are on. That said, I am not familiar with the Plant 3.0 light so I can't really say.

Cheers,
Michael
 

Driftless

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I have Fluval 3.0 plants on two tanks, used to be three, and I think that they are much lower intensity than say Twinstars lights; I normally have two Fluval's on a tank and run them at 100% for 8 hours. The tanks are currently a 55 and 75g.
 

Zervais

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Norfolk
I still stand by my advice if you are after algae free anubius it needs to be shaded or just deal with the leaves after a while. If you want just the anubius alive I suggest turn the light down but you stem plants will die. They are already questionable if they recover. I don't think 100% algae free is ever achievable you get to a point where its managed by the clean up crew. What do you have in the tanks for algae control ?

I’ll change it back up to 30-40% for now then, see how it goes with the increased ferts before I start playing around with the lights. I’d rather keep my stem plants alive more than the anubias. As for clean up crew I have six cappuccino snails and two nerites in the large tank. I used to have a Siamese algae eater but I didn’t see much of a difference with them in there and also I was under the impression I was way overstocked, so I gave it away. Maybe I should buy another?

In the tank with the brown sludge algae I have three assassin snails I can’t really move anywhere else so I can’t have anything else in there. Finally, the last one with the grass has a colony of cherry shrimp. If I could move the assassin snails in there, I would but apparently they eat cherry shrimp? If so I could move a nerite into the brown sludge tank.
 

MichaelJ

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I’d rather keep my stem plants alive more than the anubias.
These are not mutually exclusive, I have Alternanthera's and Hygro's growing along side Anubias in my low light tanks. They are slow growing under those less-than-ldeal growth conditions though. But I do agree with @Kevin Eades that you might loose them given the rehabilitation you are putting your tank through. Alternatively, you could put some frogbit or similar floating plants over the area where the Anubias are growing to give those some extra shade.
 

Zervais

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Norfolk
These are not mutually exclusive, I have Alternanthera's and Hygro's growing along side Anubias in my low light tanks. They are slow growing under those less-than-ldeal growth conditions though. But I do agree with @Kevin Eades that you might loose them given the rehabilitation you are putting your tank through. Alternatively, you could put some frogbit or similar floating plants over the area where the Anubias are growing to give those some extra shade.
That’s going to really suck, but I suppose it’s all a learning curve! I can’t manage floating plants in this tank due to the surface agitation. Perhaps I’ll just remove the anubias and Java fern; my crypts are doing good, the best out of all of them (at least most). I was just looking at a co2 kit, an inline one. Would you recommend? Do you think this would help my issue? Whilst I’m not sure what I’m looking at, I’m sure I can learn. Currently I’m having a look at co2art complete kits, but I’d have to find the cylinders from somewhere too?
 

John q

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Lancashire
Well the absolute worst thing to do if you're fighting algae would be to increase the light imo.

My tank is 200L, running a Fluval plant 3.0 at 30% (40% up until last week)
I don't have par readings for this light, but based on other fluval led's and assuming it's the 910mm 46w unit it will be putting out about 50 par at depth of 18 inches. So at 30% you should be getting around 16 par at substrate, this should be enough to keep the plants alive, so don't worry about not having enough light. Keep the setting at 30%, if it was my tank I'd probably lower it to 25% until the algae issues have gone then slowly raise it.

People don't always realise the these lights are sat about 30mm above the water in roma tanks, and any escaping light gets reflected back via the hoods, it's a totally different kettle of fish when you have lights suspended 6~12 inches above the tank.


Every day I’m dosing liquid co2 (8ml - easy life/easy carbo) and 3ml of TNC complete.
Agree with the others this isn't enough and the tnc complete needs to be doubled or even trippled.

Regards the algae you really need to wage war on it, clean any diatoms off the plants, gently wipe them with your fingers, wipe or scrub it off the hardscape. Spot dose any bba with the carbo, and if any leaves are rotting or badly effected by bba remove them. Inspect the tank daily and at the first sign of algae reappearing, remove it. Do more water changes 2/3 x 50% if needed until you start winning the algae battle.

Stay focused and try not to let all the differing advice melt your head.

Cheers.
 
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sparkyweasel

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30 Jun 2011
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I agree that you should increase the ferts. Search the forum for DIY ferts if you want to save some cash.
I would also increase water changes and filter cleaning, - at least until things improve. And vac the substrate when doing the water changes. The fish you have are big, boisterous (high metabolism) and messy eaters, they will produce a lot of organic waste, and leave bits of uneaten food.
I would wait to see if that helps before changing anything else such as the lighting.
 

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