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Fed up with algae in all 3 tanks

Epiphyte

Member
Joined
15 Dec 2020
Messages
111
Location
Hemel Hempstead
So all three of my tanks are plagued with algae and frankly I'm fed up with this hobby because of it, which is a shame as I've spent a hell of a lot of money on aquariums over the last year I've restarted this passtime.

I've got three tanks as follows:


ADA 75P (150 litres)
FilterOase Biomaster Thermo 600, temperature set to 23°C. Extra 750g of Seachem Matrix
LightChihiros Vivid RGB II, hung 10in from water surface, 8hr photo period
CO2Inline injected, 4hr before lights on to 1hr before lights off. Light lime green drop checker
FertsTNC Complete - 7.5ml per day with dosing pump
SubstrateADA Power Sand Advance, capped with Tropica Soil and Powder. Some Hugo Kamishi fine gravel. Substrate has well buried ADA Multi Bottom's
OtherFluval UV steriliser, dosing with 3ml TNC carbon daily (standard dose)
PlantsLoads, hundreds of the things, from carpeting to stems in the background, moss, epiphytes etc
LivestockCardinal Tetras, pair of Nannacara, Pair of Apistogramma, Corys, 20 amano shrimp (may be fewer, but that's how many I bought), 8 ottos, over 100 RCS when they were put in, not seen any since of course. Also pruchased one Royal Farowella specifically for eating staghorn algae.

I'm a little embarrassed to show this tank on UKAPS because I had grand ideas of how I wanted it to look, only to fail and then get covered in so much algae I've lost interest in keeping it well trimmed. I've just done a water change so the drop checker isn't as green as I'd expect it to be. I've had huge diatom issues which seem to have gone, but it's this thread like algae which coats the edges of leaves which is my main issue. There is also cyanobacteria around the marsiliea crenata at the bottom (removed at water change, so not in picture), but green algae on the glass isn't a huge issue.

I don't think the scape lends itself massively well to flow, I do want to change it (mostly because I hate the way it turned out) but the thought of getting all the fish and shrimp out is a little daunting as I lost a lot of my livestock last time I did this. The Biomaster 600 has had a few modifications, such as orange pre-filter sponges, extra holes drilled in pre-filter tubing, two internal sponges removed and replaced with Seachem Matrix etc. Flow from the filter is as good as I'll get it from the unit and should be ample for a 150L tank.

I have even directly sprayed the tank during a water change with glutaraldehyde, which killed a lot of it, but it just came back within 2 weeks. Interestingly a lot more of it is down by the substrate, not up close to the water surface.

20210517_155107.jpgScreenshot_20210517-160538_My Chihiros.jpg20210517_155113.jpg20210517_155119.jpg


APS 60cm tank (90 litres)
FilterOase Biomaster Thermo 350, temperature set to 23°C. Extra 250g of Seachem Matrix.
LightChihiros WRGB II 60cm, on standard height legs, 8hr photo period
CO2Twinstar Diffusor Large, 4hr before lights on to 1hr before lights off. Light lime green drop checker
FertsTNC Complete - 5ml per day with dosing pump
SubstrateMostly Hugo Kamishi fine gravel. Some small areas of Tropica Powder, no more than 1L worth.
OtherDosing with TNC Carbon, 2ml daily. Eheim Skim 350 surface skimmer.
PlantsMostly epiphytes, java ferns, anubias, buce etc, along with hydrocotyle tripartita.
Livestock10 Green Tiger Barbs, 6 Green Venezuelan Corys, 10 Amano Shrimp (again, not seen since but the barbs don't go near the plants, just bully each other)

This is my latest tank, it was made because I had a load of java fern in a bucket, along with a cheapo All Pond Solutions tank which was sitting unused. I threw together a stand and this is what I came up with. The light currently isn't central in the tank as I'm an idiot and put the surfacing wood in the centre, but the light will soon be hung and therefore be around 2 inches higher and clear the protruding bogwood.

Algae wise, I'm getting the same hair like algae and huge amounts of algae on the glass. I did go through a diatom spike in about week 3 but that cleared within a week as expected. I appreciate I don't have any faster growing stem plants in this tank and expected some algae, but it's strange that it's identical to the above tank.

20210517_155128.jpgScreenshot_20210517-160544_My Chihiros.jpg20210517_155135.jpg

AquaEl Shrimp Set 20 (19 litres)
FilterOase Filtosmart 100 Thermo, set to 24°C
LightStandard light with kit, 8hr photo period
CO2Injected with Twinstar small diffuser, on 24hrs because I'm too tight to pay for a solenoid.
FertsSeachem Flourish, double dose once a week on water change.
SubstrateADA Power Sand Advance, capped with Tropica Powder.
OtherUsing RO water, buffered with Seachem Replenish. TNC Carbon, 0.5ml per day.
PlantsCarpeting, anubias and stems in the background
LivestockTwo pea puffers (I realise people say don't keep them together but I've always had zero issues aside of getting them to bloody eat)

This is by far the tank I've had the most issues with and thus is now being neglected the most out of pure frustration. As you can see, like my other tanks, it's over filtered, in this case I've got 32x tank flow (!!!) but use a spin pipe so the poor residents don't get plastered to glass unable to move. CO2 is showing a nice lime green but only I don't turn it off on this tank because it's only got a cheapo valve. Light is the standard one that comes with the box, seems good enough to grow some things but sadly the marsiliea crenata has grown really leggy, so I'm not sure it's enough for a good carpet.

This is the only tank I've thus far tried the blackout method with to try and control the algae with. I draped a load of towels over the tank so no light could get in and added an air stone for 5 days without peeking. It killed what was in the tank, but as soon as that died it came straight back. I get the same hair like algae and whatever the hell that is covering the rotala. This tank has also had the glutaraldehyde spray during a water change, but again, fixed it very temporarily.

It's got a little overgrown recently, but the algae makes it look far worse than it actually is.

20210517_155151.jpg20210517_155157.jpg

I've played with photo periods on all tanks, from 6 to 8hrs and it seems to make bugger all difference, likewise RO vs. tap water with the smaller cube. The only constant in them is that they all have tropica soil of one flavour or another in them, but even that my 60cm tank has less than a litre in it.

Can anyone help me out on this? I'm completely fed up with the tanks looking so bad and would love to go back to enjoying this great hobby rather than treating it as a battle. As you can see above I've tried a fair few things, I've spent good money on the right lights/filters etc and whilst I know many will suggest EI dosing, I would prefer to stick with TNC complete as it's both easy and I don't find the price to be debilitating. I also need to have my ferts in liquid form so my auto-dosers work when I'm away on work if covid ever goes....

Help greatly appreciated!

Ian
 
Last edited:

SRP3006

Member
Joined
18 Feb 2019
Messages
737
Location
GB
Sorry to hear you're fed up with the hobby. Just a few of my thoughts. You're running your vivid on 101w whereas I'm running mine on 75w, which I find very very bright, just a observation. Could you possibly reduce the lighting intensity and length of photoperiod to 6hrs maybe. I'd be trying to remove every piece of algae I could and maybe use floaters to help and to double check if you are dosing enough ferts. Can you do a week or two of large water changes to combat the algae and remove all the excess waste that disturbing the plants will create?
If stick with tap as I don't think algae particularly cares.
I'd probably change the lighting intensity and length and carry out water changes for 2 weeks before trying to change anything else.
 

SRP3006

Member
Joined
18 Feb 2019
Messages
737
Location
GB
Also I'm not sure on tnc complete but your dose seems a little on the low side, 1ml per 10litres 3 times per week, but they do say it can be increased and something tells me that Aquarium Gardens use tnc and dose 2 or 3 times the recommended?? Shoot me down if I'm wrong on that please. 😉
 

ceg4048

Expert/Global Moderator
UKAPS Team
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11 Jul 2007
Messages
9,457
Location
Chicago, USA
Hello,
Light causes algae. Whatever flow or CO2 you inject, if the light is too high then the plants will suffer and algae will grow.
Also, one has to consider how flow is being distributed. So for example, this statement is indicative of poor distribution:
Light is the standard one that comes with the box, seems good enough to grow some things but sadly the marsiliea crenata has grown really leggy, so I'm not sure it's enough for a good carpet.
Legginess has nothing to do with light and has everything to do with flow/distribution. Have a read of this post: Old Skool Returnee - London tap water?

As mentioned, the first step is to severely limit the lighting and to possibly review how you are distributing the flow,

Cheers,
 

FishKeeper55

Member
Joined
20 May 2020
Messages
171
Location
UK
Despite all the problems you facing I think they nice scapes and I wouldn’t give up, hardest part is all 3 tanks are different well at least to me, first has lot of plants and some are fast growers ect where you 2nd tank is all low tech slow growing plants that prefer lower light intensity, I know from experience Java will get burn by higher light, leaves will start to turn black on leaves edges, this has been mention few times in threads that our eyes might see as been low light but for plants is just to much and vice versa, I would also start to concentrate on one tank at the time because what works for one might be completely wrong for the other, in first tank I would lower light, increase ferts along with maintenance to get on top of it, 2nd tank lower the light and just dose after water changes, both tanks I would increase water changes to at least twice a week. I’m not saying this will work but just for example I have 90L tank that I dose 50ml TNC in week with low light plants and then I have 30cm cube running co2 at about 3-4 bps with HC carpet and other plants that I dose 70ml so about the twice recommended and I’m sure this will need to be increased in future due to plant mass.
 

Wookii

Member
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
2,193
Location
Nottingham
I agree with @SRP3006 and @ceg4048, you're running your lights too high.

Your ADA75P is 450mm deep. My tank is 400mm deep, has a lot more plant mass, and runs close to yellow on the DC, and I only run the Vivid II on 60% for red and blue, and 50% green, so I'd say you're running that way too high.

Your APS 60 is 400mm deep. My WRGB II is on my low tech, which is shallower at 350mm deep, but has the surface completely covered with floating plants, I only run the WRGB II at 70% blue/red and 60% green.

On your AquaEl tank, I don't know what the light is putting out, but I'd wager that is too high also.

In both of the first two tanks, your plant mass appears to be relatively low, and appears to be mainly slow growing lower light plants and mosses.

I think your first plan of attack should be to reduce the light substantially - 50% on the Vivid II, maybe 60% on the WRGB II, max for any one colour channel reducing the others below that for the colour mix you want. Manually remove as much algae as possible from the tanks, and remove any bad leaves and detritus. Do a large 80% plus water change and clean the filters. Then, once refilled, spot dose with Excel/glut on any remaining algae patches (observing maximum dosages) with the filters off for 15 minutes.

I would then rinse and repeat the water change and spot dosing process every day or two for a few weeks if possible until you start to get back on top of the algae. I'd also add some snails if your fish are eating your RCS.

I would also review your CO2 distribution in your tanks, and make sure you are getting some leaf movement, however small, in almost all areas of the tank - the first one in particular looks like it could be tricky to optimise distribution.

Your ferts dosing looks OK on the first two tanks at roughly 3 x standard dose, though still not full EI levels for anything other than Nitrate - P, K and Fe are around 1/2 EI, and Mg is especially low. I'd try adding some additional Mg - you can get them as Epsom salts from numerous places. However I'd also consider getting an APFUK Starter kit when your TNC runs out. On the third tank, I'd switch that to 3-4 times TNC also.
 
Last edited:

Raws69

Member
Joined
5 Oct 2020
Messages
182
Location
Essex
re The co2 distribution, you could try moving the drop checker around different areas of the tank to get a feel as to where the flow might be lacking. I have a similar tank look and had to put a powerhead in to help with flow around some of the hardscape.
 

Easternlethal

Member
Joined
15 Mar 2016
Messages
187
Location
Hong Kong
The most important thing for a tank to succeed overall, not just the plants or livestock specifically but as a living work of art is the amount of time spent on maintenance - doing water changes, cleaning algae etc.

For example I notice you have quite a thick substrates, quite high light and a lot of different plants. This means that in the first few months, you will have to spend a lot of time getting everything balanced because it will give off a lot of nutrients. At the same time your plants are also adapting - which means dying, growing, getting algae, dying and then growing again (yes, plants to experiment also!) which contribute to organics.

Expect to do many water changes, plant trimmings, cleaning etc. when you're tuning lights co2 etc. A world class nano tank takes about one-two hour a day depending on the complexity so if you want an iaplc standard tank, especially for the long term - which looks like its what you're going for, expect to budget a lot of time and effort to care for everything - each plant, down to each leaf.

After a few months everything will adapt and it will become easier. You may have to change some plants around also as very few layouts turn out as originally intended due to plant behaviour.

So one of the things when posting issues on forums is to explain how much time is devoted to cleaning, pruning and tuning as that is often more useful in helping to diagnose problems - because just like everything else, it's usually not the tank or equipment but the owner which needs the work.

Sent from my SM-T820 using Tapatalk
 
Last edited:

Andy Pierce

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Joined
27 Nov 2020
Messages
145
Location
Cambridge, UK
It's a concern that you haven't seen your amano shrimp. In my experience they're just not that shy, and they like to hang out/congregate in high places e.g. on top of hardscape. They're ordinarily pretty voracious about the abundant softer algae you seem to be struggling with. I would do a careful examination and see if you can find them in there somewhere and if not, restock at 1 per 5 litres and carefully monitor what happens to them. It looks like your waterline goes almost to the rim of some of the tanks - try backing that off by 5 cm to prevent jumping/climbing (you don't have a pile of dessicated dead shrimp around the back of the tank right?). I concur with others regarding reducing lighting. I've been playing around with mine recently and have had some success against green spot algae by dropping down the peak lighting intensity rather than the overall time with lights on - I think the fish are also happier not being blasted with high intensity light.
 

Epiphyte

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Thread starter
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15 Dec 2020
Messages
111
Location
Hemel Hempstead
First off my apologies for my extremely delayed reply. I did manage to read everything and made changes but wasn't able to reply at the time, then life got in the way etc etc. Either way, thanks for all the advice and wisdom. Things are both looking up and down but I've got some good plans and will be actioning them all over the next few weeks.

Sorry to hear you're fed up with the hobby. Just a few of my thoughts. You're running your vivid on 101w whereas I'm running mine on 75w, which I find very very bright, just a observation. Could you possibly reduce the lighting intensity and length of photoperiod to 6hrs maybe. I'd be trying to remove every piece of algae I could and maybe use floaters to help and to double check if you are dosing enough ferts. Can you do a week or two of large water changes to combat the algae and remove all the excess waste that disturbing the plants will create?
If stick with tap as I don't think algae particularly cares.
I'd probably change the lighting intensity and length and carry out water changes for 2 weeks before trying to change anything else.
Fed up of the algae, not necessarily the hobby! I thing being pissed off was my major theme when writing this post, but I am still determined to have myself three healthy aquascaped aquariums at some point. I took advice from various places to run the VIVID II at full pelt with a larger distance between the water line and the light. Obviously this hasn't worked out for me and in the last few weeks I've dropped the lighting intensity way down. Unfortunately it's made little difference. BGA is taking over the tank, I've got BBA on almost all slow growing plant leaves and it's just turning into an absolute mess. I think flow is my major issue now and the only way I'm going to be able to combat the BGA especially is a full strip down, clean and rescape with a real effort on flow.
Also I'm not sure on tnc complete but your dose seems a little on the low side, 1ml per 10litres 3 times per week, but they do say it can be increased and something tells me that Aquarium Gardens use tnc and dose 2 or 3 times the recommended?? Shoot me down if I'm wrong on that please. 😉
I did increase the TNC dosing up to the absolute maximum recommended online. It does seem to have let the plants go into overdrive with growth, but it's yet to combat my issue.

Hello,
Light causes algae. Whatever flow or CO2 you inject, if the light is too high then the plants will suffer and algae will grow.
Also, one has to consider how flow is being distributed. So for example, this statement is indicative of poor distribution:

Legginess has nothing to do with light and has everything to do with flow/distribution. Have a read of this post: Old Skool Returnee - London tap water?

As mentioned, the first step is to severely limit the lighting and to possibly review how you are distributing the flow,

Cheers,
I've dropped the lighting levels but I think flow is the main issue on the 75p. With the current layout I just don't think I'll get a successful tank, so I'll be stripping it down shortly. I know I could add powerheads etc but it does feel like a bit of a sticking plaster over an otherwise flawed tank.

Despite all the problems you facing I think they nice scapes and I wouldn’t give up, hardest part is all 3 tanks are different well at least to me, first has lot of plants and some are fast growers ect where you 2nd tank is all low tech slow growing plants that prefer lower light intensity, I know from experience Java will get burn by higher light, leaves will start to turn black on leaves edges, this has been mention few times in threads that our eyes might see as been low light but for plants is just to much and vice versa, I would also start to concentrate on one tank at the time because what works for one might be completely wrong for the other, in first tank I would lower light, increase ferts along with maintenance to get on top of it, 2nd tank lower the light and just dose after water changes, both tanks I would increase water changes to at least twice a week. I’m not saying this will work but just for example I have 90L tank that I dose 50ml TNC in week with low light plants and then I have 30cm cube running co2 at about 3-4 bps with HC carpet and other plants that I dose 70ml so about the twice recommended and I’m sure this will need to be increased in future due to plant mass.
Thanks! I really like how the 60cm tank turned out, it's got algae issues but it's the most successful so far and I've seen an algae reduction by increasing ferts and dropping light values. It's not perfect yet but it's the only one out of the three to be heading in the correct direction. The 25cm cube is going to be decommissioned as I've just snapped up Aquarium Garden's last ADA 45f and I've got a dragonstone iwagumi scape going together once I manage to clean the stones up and the 75p is just going from bad to worse!

I agree with @SRP3006 and @ceg4048, you're running your lights too high.

Your ADA75P is 450mm deep. My tank is 400mm deep, has a lot more plant mass, and runs close to yellow on the DC, and I only run the Vivid II on 60% for red and blue, and 50% green, so I'd say you're running that way too high.

Your APS 60 is 400mm deep. My WRGB II is on my low tech, which is shallower at 350mm deep, but has the surface completely covered with floating plants, I only run the WRGB II at 70% blue/red and 60% green.

On your AquaEl tank, I don't know what the light is putting out, but I'd wager that is too high also.

In both of the first two tanks, your plant mass appears to be relatively low, and appears to be mainly slow growing lower light plants and mosses.

I think your first plan of attack should be to reduce the light substantially - 50% on the Vivid II, maybe 60% on the WRGB II, max for any one colour channel reducing the others below that for the colour mix you want. Manually remove as much algae as possible from the tanks, and remove any bad leaves and detritus. Do a large 80% plus water change and clean the filters. Then, once refilled, spot dose with Excel/glut on any remaining algae patches (observing maximum dosages) with the filters off for 15 minutes.

I would then rinse and repeat the water change and spot dosing process every day or two for a few weeks if possible until you start to get back on top of the algae. I'd also add some snails if your fish are eating your RCS.

I would also review your CO2 distribution in your tanks, and make sure you are getting some leaf movement, however small, in almost all areas of the tank - the first one in particular looks like it could be tricky to optimise distribution.

Your ferts dosing looks OK on the first two tanks at roughly 3 x standard dose, though still not full EI levels for anything other than Nitrate - P, K and Fe are around 1/2 EI, and Mg is especially low. I'd try adding some additional Mg - you can get them as Epsom salts from numerous places. However I'd also consider getting an APFUK Starter kit when your TNC runs out. On the third tank, I'd switch that to 3-4 times TNC also.
All noted and, as above, I've dropped those lighting levels to mixed success. I'll certainly keep going with the 60cm tank as I'm starting to see improvements, especially with the reduced light values.

re The co2 distribution, you could try moving the drop checker around different areas of the tank to get a feel as to where the flow might be lacking. I have a similar tank look and had to put a powerhead in to help with flow around some of the hardscape.
I've done this a bit and CO2 was fairly consistent. I've moved the diffuser around too and am starting to see better results with distribution on the 60cm tank.

The most important thing for a tank to succeed overall, not just the plants or livestock specifically but as a living work of art is the amount of time spent on maintenance - doing water changes, cleaning algae etc.

For example I notice you have quite a thick substrates, quite high light and a lot of different plants. This means that in the first few months, you will have to spend a lot of time getting everything balanced because it will give off a lot of nutrients. At the same time your plants are also adapting - which means dying, growing, getting algae, dying and then growing again (yes, plants to experiment also!) which contribute to organics.

Expect to do many water changes, plant trimmings, cleaning etc. when you're tuning lights co2 etc. A world class nano tank takes about one-two hour a day depending on the complexity so if you want an iaplc standard tank, especially for the long term - which looks like its what you're going for, expect to budget a lot of time and effort to care for everything - each plant, down to each leaf.

After a few months everything will adapt and it will become easier. You may have to change some plants around also as very few layouts turn out as originally intended due to plant behaviour.

So one of the things when posting issues on forums is to explain how much time is devoted to cleaning, pruning and tuning as that is often more useful in helping to diagnose problems - because just like everything else, it's usually not the tank or equipment but the owner which needs the work.

Sent from my SM-T820 using Tapatalk
Wednesday tends to be my maintenance day and normally I'll be doing it for a good few hours. I'll trim/re-plant stems, clear algae, scape glass, clean tank corners with a sponge, clean pre-filters, maybe recharge the purigen if needed, remove as much detritus as I can, prune dead leaves, 50% water change... all the normal tasks really. I could go for leaf by leaf, but I'm not looking for perfection, certainly not IAPLC standard! I'm happy with a bit of standard green algae coating rocks and wood, but not the more unpleasant kinds that I'm experiencing this time around. It's been around 6 months now on the 75p and I'm losing the algae battle day by day, despite the plants growing well!

It's a concern that you haven't seen your amano shrimp. In my experience they're just not that shy, and they like to hang out/congregate in high places e.g. on top of hardscape. They're ordinarily pretty voracious about the abundant softer algae you seem to be struggling with. I would do a careful examination and see if you can find them in there somewhere and if not, restock at 1 per 5 litres and carefully monitor what happens to them. It looks like your waterline goes almost to the rim of some of the tanks - try backing that off by 5 cm to prevent jumping/climbing (you don't have a pile of dessicated dead shrimp around the back of the tank right?). I concur with others regarding reducing lighting. I've been playing around with mine recently and have had some success against green spot algae by dropping down the peak lighting intensity rather than the overall time with lights on - I think the fish are also happier not being blasted with high intensity light.
A few of my Amano's have escaped, some a fair distance across the house and sadly I did lose a few of them in the process. I spent a bit of time really looking in the tanks to see if I could find any and they sure are there, just tucked away in the plants.


So my plan is as follows:
  • Keep working on the 60cm tank. I'm seeing good progress in there and I think it's only a matter of time before I start getting on top of that tank.
  • The ADA 75p is getting in such a bad shape with BGA that I think a strip down, deep clean and rescape is my best bet. I think the layout of the tank is just not going to lend itself to good flow, so even if I reduce the BGA, it's only just going to return. I've got a good idea for a tank design which will hopefully be a good balance between looking "full", along with good open areas for the water to circulate.
  • I'll strip the 75p down, put the plants in a bucket and put it in a pitch black room for 3-4 days. This will hopefully kill the algae and BGA when I re-use the plants in the next scape. If there is a fool proof way of doing this I'd love to know as I'm not in a position to go buy several hundred pounds of plants again right now. I assume spot treating with a weak bleach solution could help, at the risk of damaging the plants.
  • The 25cm cube will get stripped down too. Not just because the algae is pretty bad, but I've also just picked up an ADA 45f and I need the filter from it and I can't justify a 4th tank. I'll really focus on the design of the new scape in the 45f too to ensure a good solid clean, algae free, start. I've got new plants for this tank too, but I'll have to reuse some of the soil as it's only a few months old and likely fine with an inch or two of fresh stuff capping it.
Thanks once again for the good advice.
 

SudhirR

Seedling
Joined
11 Nov 2020
Messages
18
Location
Bengaluru
Looking at the pics of you ADA 75 and the APS 60, the infestation is staghorn.
I have had struggles myself with this and the root cause in my case was CO2 was not optimal (1 pH point drop) and the flow was not uniform.
After setting this up properly and with use of Glut (Excel) I was able to overcome the staghorn infestation.

I agree with the others on the light intensity.

PS: both these scapes have tremendous potential. I love the compositions of these layout and the planting.
 

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