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Brown algae - mulm builds up weekly in well established aquarium.

smithie

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Hi all,

Need some help, please see info below:

I have a circa. 300litre aquarium (120cm x 60cm), its been established for many years but in the last few months every week I have encountered a lot of brown algae/mulm on the glass but mainly on the plant leaves.

INFO:
Lights on: 40w at 2pm until 10pm 42inch plant growth tube. 2 more lights at 4 - 9pm 54W one Juwel high lite - cool white and the other Iquatics Tropical.

The water readings are good in terms of nitrate, nitrite etc. e.g. 0. Nitrate is controlled by Interpet Nitrasafe rechargeable bag.

Filters - Ehiem Wet Dry filter 2227, Eheim box filter internal, small Eheim 45 pick up and a Hydro Koralia 1600 for circulation

Co2 is pumped 1-2 bubbles a second from 1pm until 8pm.

Fish - about 20-25, small mainly tetra, rasbora, catfish. Fed only once a day and sparingly.

Water changes - about 10% per week, box filter sponge cleaned in old water and some wool added to collect extra mulm in the aquarium is rinsed out, the main Eheim 2227 media is cleaned every 2-4 months, mainly rings and some wool (again rinsed in old water to keep bacteria).

Plant food - Profita and Seachem flourish added weekly.

Please see the photos. a bit deceptive as this is just after a weekly clean, see the moss balls and mulm already on the sand, the plants collect large amounts of debris when gently shaken. As you can see green algae on the Anubia as well and red algae spots on the glass (more before the clean removed some today). I've read about Diatoms causing the brown algae but can't estbalish the source or get rid of it!?

I've never had this problem in many years of keeping an aqaurium (this one has been running for 8 years and the issue only came about in the last few months) The same filter and set up as before. I've tried Seachem Denitrate, Rowaphos and various bacteria mulm digesters - Interpet etc. ( I know thats not getting to the root but they haven't worked).

Any tips greatly appreciated!

Rgds
Smithie
 

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smithie

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Hi All just to add - from the photos there is green algae on Anubias building up and spots of red algae on the glass, I've read that brown algae is caused by diatoms but as mentioned nothing has changed in my aquarium for years so not sure what has caused this...?
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Welcome, first thing to say is that it doesn't look to bad at all, and I'm pretty sure that you can sort it out.

I know this is going to sound a bit funny, because this is a forum, but most of the advice you are offered on forums, or by LFS, is wrong, <"has no basis in science"> and can actually stop you <"from having a successful, planted aquarium">.
The water readings are good in terms of nitrate, nitrite etc. e.g. 0. Nitrate is controlled by Interpet Nitrasafe rechargeable bag.
My guess is that this is at least part, of your issue. In planted aquariums nitrate (NO3-) levels tend to go down with time, because the plants assimilate that nitrogen into new growth. The same also applies to phosphorus (P) (as orthosphosphate ions (PO4---), plants need most of these two mineral nutrients, along with potassium (K), they are "macronutrients" N : P : K.

Plants are much more efficient at <"removing all forms of fixed nitrogen"> than most of the aquarium literature acknowledge.

I've tried Seachem Denitrate, Rowaphos and various bacteria mulm digesters -
That is one of the real issues I have with the <"sellers of these products"> is that they are economical with the truth and they <"imply that their products"> will help with problems that either don't exist or where their product offers no long term solutions.

Plants need all the <"fourteen essential mineral nutrients for plant growth">, just in different amounts. Plant growth is like a car assembly line, there is no point in adding carbon dioxide (CO2) if the "car" lack "wheels".

Do you add a fertiliser at the moment?

cheers Darrel
 

smithie

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Thanks Darrel,

I was dosing N-P-K macro and micro (self mixed) but when this issue cropped up I slowed that down to try and keep on top of the brown algae, I some how had a breakout of Slime algae a while prior to the brown algae. I managed to get rid of that but have the pesistent brown algae/mulm. I used the products as quick fix (but I know I was kidding nature so it wasn't going to work long term). If you have any pointers be happy to consider them, at the moment I'm cleaning weekly and the cycle repeats itself so enjoying it less when it becomes a battle! The fish are doing fine so thats the main thing...

rgds
Smithie
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I was dosing N-P-K macro and micro (self mixed) but when this issue cropped up I slowed that down to try and keep on top of the brown algae
OK so you are giving with one hand and taking away with the other.

If you use London tap water? It will be hard (high dGH/dKH) with the hardness coming from chalk (CaCO3) and probably high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus from agriculture, waste water treatment etc. You should be able to get values for your tap water from your water company.

Does your macro-mix <"include magnesium?"> and how do you feel about snails? They are good for removing soft algae.

cheers Darrel
 

smithie

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Yes I included Magnesium. For snails I didn't have an issue until some new plants had eggs and caused an explosion of them so introduced some assassin snails to control the outbreak. These are still in the tank so i guess any other snails would be attacked by them?
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
....... some assassin snails to control the outbreak. These are still in the tank so i guess any other snails would be attacked by them?
I think so, and they may have eaten all the other snails, but are capable of surviving by scavenging fish food etc. when snails aren't available.

I don't have any practical experience of keeping Assassin Snails (Anentome (Clea) helena) successfully. I'm a rainwater user and the water in the tanks <"wasn't hard enough for them">.

I'll copy in @Tim Harrison and @Zeus. as they may be able to give you a more nuanced view of your problems and @Tim Harrison is not a snail fan, so maybe able to give you advice from a <"snail free perspective">.

cheers Darrel
 

Zeus.

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Profita and Seachem flourish added weekly.

Which 'Profita' product are you using ? and Seachem Flourish might have all the elements a plant needs but it so weak my weekly WC adds well more NO3 than dosing Seachem Flourish.

Snails, humm.. I spent about £50 on snail killer because off pest snails and never used it (still in boxes), instead I embraced them and introduce Ramhorns and MTS.
 

Tim Harrison

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Slime and brown algae became a major problem for me with my latest scape. I don't ever remember it being quite so persistent nor so thick. I don't think limiting fertz is a particularly good idea unless you can be sure your plants aren't going to suffer deficiencies. Healthy plants usually equates to much less algae, so that's fundamental to fighting any algae outbreak.

Increasing light intensity and then duration worked for me, the flip side is you'll most likely get other types of algae instead. But then you can make further adjustments to deal with these in turn. However, the key is encouraging better plant growth and therefore higher plant biomass which infers stability. Usually, algae disappears after several weeks.

Assassin snails are the only snails I've purposefully introduced to any of my tanks. They worked a treat and cleared up my pest snail population in no time flat. After that they were fine living off detritus and food scraps and even reproduced to the point I was giving them away.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Which 'Profita' product are you using ? and Seachem Flourish might have all the elements a plant needs but it so weak my weekly WC adds well more NO3 than dosing Seachem Flourish.
Looking at your photos it looks like plant growth is limited. I can see the leaves look a bit pale and might have <"interveinal chlorosis?"> (like <"the image below?">)> But I can't tell whether it is the old, or the new, leaves or an artifact of the photograph? and they are actually greener than they look?

040b5e55645a26a2f706e8c6370e4e94-jpg.jpg


Once you've taken the <"Nitrasafe"> out of the filter, and because nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) are the elements plants need most of, I'd probably start with potassium nitrate (KNO3) and see what happens.

If you had the <"RowaPhos"> in the filter when the issues started? I might try adding some PO4--- as well.

Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), potassium (K) (& magnesium (Mg)) are all mobile within the plant, so if one of them is Liebig's limiting nutrient you should see a pretty rapid greening.

We have a link to the <"Rotala Butterfly calculator"> and our own <"IFC nutrient calculator">.
Silly question, I can see you have a lot of filtration, but what other media do you have in your Eheim "wet and dry" filter.

cheers Darrel
 
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Zeus.

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Plant food - Profita and Seachem flourish added weekly.

Had time so took a closer look ;)

1612805049179.png

the second advantage IMO conflicts with the seventh advantage eg 'All Nutrients' and 'No Nitrates or Phosphates' :crazy: - such could be mis interpreted as it contains everything a plants needs and it doesn't need NO3 or PO4.
We don't know what it contains as we have no data analysis of the product available on the web that I know off, it may be Award 2008: Best Aquarium Product Germany, but I have no details of how it got the award or who awarded it.

Seachem Flourish
1612805775956.png

1612805954631.png

Does contain one element very few other ferts have or included in their data analysis Cobalt (Co)



We have deactivated 'Seachem Flourish' on the release version of the 'IFC calculator' for one reason - its so dilute we have to have more decimal places to show what it contains which was becoming a PITA in all the tables
If you increase the STD dosing of Seachem Flourish x10 this is what you would be dosing a week
1612806436832.png


I think a good 50% WC of your tap water would reduce the Dissolved Organic Compounds (DOC) by 50% and at the same time give the plants an extra boost on NO3 and PO4 at the same time, getting some TNC complete IMO would be also be better value for money over your present ferts, then wait 4-6 weeks with 30%+ weekly WCs and I think the plants will be looking better and out competing the algae
 

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