Getting algae after starting EI dosing, what to do?

chris1004

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Since I have started EI dosing I am experiencing several types of algae and although I know that it is not the dosing itself that has caused the problem I wondered what I should do about it.

When I started the ei dosing a few weeks ago it was at the same time as installing a second external filter and a new fire extinguisher (which took a week or so to settle down) and I think that one of my plants may be a house plant (sold as aquatic at my lfs) which could be causing further problems. So I believe, from what I have read on this forum, that the algae problem has probably been caused by a combination of ammonia (from an uncycled filter and possibly a rotting plant) and fluctuating co2. The ferts have just been feeding the algae possibly compounding the problem.

I know from what I have read that I shouldn't back off the dosing which I won't and in time the new filter (bringing the total flow rate upto 10x the tank volume) will have cycled and there is already one cycled external filter there anyway. As for the possibly offending plant I can fairly easily check that out and remove it if it is, as suspected, non aquatic. The co2 I believe to be fairly stable now but I will be more confident of this once I have a drop checker installed as per advice received elsewhere on this forum. So the root cause of the problems I understand and have in hand so to speak, (I think).

Incidently the plant growth is amazing and they look so lush even after just 3 weeks or so of EI dosing, a transformation that I wouldn't have believed possible. The algae is only a slight annoyance which I'm sure can be sorted out somehow.

When I say an algae problem its nothing really major but I do have BBA, GSA, staghorn and hair algae visible in certain areas within the tank now. Will these go naturally in time or do I need to treat the tank with an algacide of some sort once everything has settled down?
 

Superman

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When you have an algae infested tank, the best thing to do is remove any effected leaves as soon as you spot it and also by then performing a few water changes.

Each algae will have a cause and so you can see what their cause is by using the sticky in this forum section or James' Planted Tank Algae Guide (if you search through google). Remember that dosing the suggested amount of ferts under the principles of EI might not be enough as some spots in the tank aren't getting enough. I think it took me a few weeks to work out the right dosing levels for my tank, although I think I went a bit overkill and are now reducing the amounts.

It sounds like you already know one of the issues (co2) and are addressing the flow but make sure that both your filters are working together to improve flow around all areas of the tank rather than cancelling out with each other.
 

chris1004

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It looks to me that the water is circulating around the tank quite nicely (i.e. most of the plants are swaying in the flow) and if it turns out that I need more flow I will simply fit a powerhead but until I have eliminated all other possible causes I won't bother as apart from the cost I try to keep anything thats not necessary out of the tank. The co2 is settled now and I'm very confident that it is sufficient from PH/KH tests that I've done (I'm getting a drop checker soon) and from what I can see in the tank itself. It's just that there was a period of a week or so where it fluctuated wildly which I'm sure hasn't helped. Nor has the presence of ammonia. So I understand why I've got algae and I'm fairly confident that I know how to remedy the cause (I hope I don't regret those words, LOL) but how do I get rid of the algae that I now have?
 

ceg4048

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chris1004 said:
...I do have BBA, GSA, staghorn and hair algae visible in certain areas within the tank now...
These are all CO2 related. Add more CO2 and you will fix your problems.

Cheers,
 

chris1004

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Hi Clive,

I have now fitted a drop checker (yesterday) and the PH isn't as low as I thought around 6.8 but with a kh of 4 in the drop checker the co2 is nearer 20ppm than the 30ppm that I thought I had so that proves you are right about the co2, but then you knew that anyway, I'm not worthy (said on hands and knees whilst motioning up and down with my arms waynes world style :) ).

Will the algae that I now have go once the co2 is higher or do I need to treat it? Flourish excel seems to be the thing to use from james's planted tank website or do I not need to bother if I raise the co2? incedently I have fitted the drop checker at the opposite end of the tank to the co2 input is this right?
 

ceg4048

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Hey Chris,
Be Excellent! (plays air guitar) :lol:

If the infestation isn't too bad then upping the CO2 will prevent more of these algae from getting a stronghold but may not eliminate them. Algae like CO2 as well so you will probably have to mechanically remove what's there and be quite brutal about it. Any infected leaf must be removed mercilessly and I'd suggest you increase your water change frequency to remove the spores created by the growth that is there. It will also help to lower the lighting for a few weeks. BBA will be the most difficult so I would suggest adding daily Excel/Easycarbo per bottle instructions.

You know it almost doesn't matter where you place the dropchecker because the CO2 concentration at the dropchecker location is not what it is at the surface of the individual leaves or within the plant bed. There can be an order of magnitude difference across the tank. Neither light energy nor nutrient nor CO2 levels in the tank are homogeneous however, yes, placing the checker as far away from the CO2 source gives you a better idea than if it was placed near the source.

Cheers,
 

chris1004

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Ok a quick update,

The co2 is now stable at 30ppm and I have got hold of some flousish excel today and will start dosing as per instructions on the bottle daily from tommorow (after my weekly 50% water change) and last night I did as you said and removed all infected leaves (and yes I was brutal and found it a bit heartbreaking) and I also scrubbed the tank background with a stiff brush (immitation rock face) then did a 50% water change. For a few weeks I will continue to do a 50% water change twice a week and I will just use a 40w t8 on for 8hrs per day instead of my usual daytime lighting of 2x54w t5's. Do you think this is the way to go for the lighting temporarily? I only have a combination of 1x40w t8 and/or 2x54w t5's available to me at the moment.
 

ceg4048

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Yep, I'd keep the lighting low (the 40 watt bulb) for a week or two and only slowly increase it. Sorry, I can't recall the tank size so I can't say if 40 W T8 is too low. It takes at least a week for the plants to adapt to a new stable CO2 level.

Cheers,
 

chris1004

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Thanks for your quick reply Clive.

The tank is 250litre but in reality after the hardscape is subtracted there is nearer 200litres of water there.

Do I need to reduce the co2 then if I am reducing the lighting, I am thinkin 'not' but it would be nice to get some conformation. Or have I misunderstood and you mean that it takes a week for them to get use to the 30ppm that I now have as opposed to the 20ppm that I had before I fitted the drop checker? Sorry to keep hassling you with so many questions.
 

ceg4048

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Hi Chris,
No hassle mate. That's why we're here. :D

Remember that as far as light is concerned it doesn't matter how much water you have because the light spreads out over the volume of the tank and it's distribution is limited only by the bulb's placement and it's physical properties. The effect the water has on the light is it's turbidity, not it's quantity.

In any case a 40W bulb may be a bit low for a 60G tank long term but it should be OK for a week or two to kick the algae in the shin.

Lowering the light and increasing the CO2 to 30ppm or more is the combination that will benefit the plants most. If you lower the CO2 you can put yourself back in the same situation of low CO2. Apologies if I was unclear.

Maintaining high CO2 allows the plants to adapt to high CO2. Maintaining low CO2 likewise allows the plants to adapt to low CO2. High light creates a demand for high CO2. Low light lowers the demand for CO2. Therefore the combination of high light + low CO2 means that there is a high demand for CO2 but that there is insufficient CO2 to meet this demand. This is the problem you have now and that's why the plants are suffering.

Hope this clarifies...

Cheers,
 

chris1004

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Thanks again Clive. I will update this in a couple of weeks time just to let you know how I get on.
 

chris1004

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chris1004 said:
Thanks again Clive. I will update this in a couple of weeks time just to let you know how I get on.


Ok so here's the update two weeks on.

I did as you said and kept the main t5 lights off and had a 40w t8 on for 8hours a day instead, I did a 50% water change every other day (that was pretty hard work as I use 100% ro water which meant producing 100 litres every other day) and I dosed with flourish excel to the instructions on the bottle as advised. I must admit to being a bit worried as it said "do not overdose" on the bottle, but on the rear it said add 5ml per 40litres if you are doing a 40% or over water change, then add 5ml daily. I was concerned that they hadn't bargained for a 50% water change every other day when they printed that so I did err on the side of caution a couple of times by not dosing immediatly after the water change instead just adding the daily dose. I tried as best I could to continue dosing ferts regularly through the two weeks and if anything dosed more than I normally do to try to keep excess ferts available to the plants even though it was probably futile with the reduced lighting.

Anyway the result as far as the algae goes is that Staghorn, Thread and BBA are all completly gone hopefully never to return but there has still been some GSA appearing on some of the leaves and on the immitation rockface background. I have continued to remove any leaf that I found with GSA on them and a couple of times through the course of treatment before the water change I scrubbed the background with a stiff brush and then spot dosed the flourish excel before topping the tank back up with fresh water.

I kind of figured that the GSA is particularly stubborn because it was the most prevailant form of algae that was in my tank to start with and the rockface background was particularly badly effected by it. When coupled with using 100% ro water I have kind of figured that there isn't enough phosphate in the water column to keep it at bay so I have added an extra teaspoon of kh2po4 to the tank today in an attempt to raise the phosphate level to over 10ppm. Is this course of action the best way to go? I surely hope so as I have already done it as I didn't think that the extra ferts would harm anything.

The downside of this course of treatment though is that some of my plants have been effected by it. My twisted vallis, pogostemon helferi, glosso and another grass like plant which I don't know the name of, have all died back a bit. With a bit of TLC I am sure they will be alright in time though. From what I understand the grassy plants don't do well with the flourish excel and the ground coverage plants suffer when the lighting is reduced which probably explains things a little.

Hopefully I now have all of my bases covered and life will be good once again with regard to my planted tank, If you read this Clive thanks again for your help mate I really do appreciate it.
 

ceg4048

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Hi Chris,
Glad you were able to break the stranglehold mate. ;)
The extra PO4 should help clear the GSA although this will take a few more weeks. You just have to keep scrubbing. To truly test the effectiveness of your improved CO2 injection rate and flow you would have to slowly decrease and ultimately delete the Excel addition. If none of the algae reappears after a few weeks then you can proceed to add the higher lighting in very small time increments, say, an hour per day at the midday, then up to two hours per day. As you'll be aware by now, any re-occurrence of these types of algae will indicate that CO2 for the new lighting level is inadequate and you will have to improve injection rate and drop back down to the previous lighting scheme. This is excruciating but you'll learn more and it will prevent outbursts. In any case you now know the relationship between light and CO2 so just take it easy and you'll be up to Las Vegas lighting levels before you know it. :D

Cheers,
 

plantbrain

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Just keep on top of things, watch CO2, add enough ferts frequently, dothe water changes, same old thing.

This really has not changed going back 2 decades.

Getting folks to double check and make sure CO2 is not an issue, to reduce their light etc, has been nothing short of pulling teeth at times however.

It's when we start being smug and thinking we can go longer without caring for the tank, neglect it etc, then things louse up, then we work hard to regain what we had, then maintain from there.

Everyone makes mistaes, no big deal, work, fix it, and then stay on top of things.
Too much? Reduce the light and keep it low. That ill reduce the issues and slow the growth.

So rather than nutrient or CO2 imitation, you light limit the tank to control growth.



Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Mark Evans

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plantbrain said:
Just keep on top of things, watch CO2, add enough ferts frequently, dothe water changes, same old thing.

This really has not changed going back 2 decades.

Getting folks to double check and make sure CO2 is not an issue, to reduce their light etc, has been nothing short of pulling teeth at times however.

It's when we start being smug and thinking we can go longer without caring for the tank, neglect it etc, then things louse up, then we work hard to regain what we had, then maintain from there.

Everyone makes mistaes, no big deal, work, fix it, and then stay on top of things.
Too much? Reduce the light and keep it low. That ill reduce the issues and slow the growth.

So rather than nutrient or CO2 imitation, you light limit the tank to control growth.

hit the nail on the head there!

plantbrain said:
So rather than nutrient or CO2 imitation, you light limit the tank to control growth.

something i'm doing next. you've just answered my yet to be asked question :D
 

plantbrain

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Good, glad common sense got to you before "they" did :twisted:

Bit of an uphill battle, it's easier to just accept a myth and speculate than do any real logic or test, and I'm not in it for $, fame(ain't none to be had) or sales(Not a company or brand name).

So the main thing, the market, is really helping hobbyists, helping them save a huge amount of $$$, labor, time etc.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

chris1004

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OK a couple of months on and I'm still suffering GSA.

On a plus note its not as bad as it was and staghorn, BBA and hair algae haven't returned and things have improved somewhat but its heartbreaking to keep pulling infected leaves off the plants and seems like one step foward and another one back all the time.

I am reaching the end of my tether with GSA to the point of considering buying an algacide and running a course of this through my tank but I'm worried about doing more damage than good. I have been scrubbing the artificial rock face background and wiping it down with flourish excel every time I do a water change and its now pretty clear of the damn stuff but the GSA keeps appearing on plant leaves which I susequently remove but it still comes back. I am dosing 1/2 a teaspoon of kh2po4 three times a week so would expect to have in excess of 10ppm of phosphate in the tank which is backed up by my test results (even if my test kit is not entirly accurate its the best indicator I have available).

Its now official, I detest GSA with a passion. Please help, what else can I do to get rid this stuff once and for all?
 

ceg4048

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Hi Chris,
If you're adding plenty of PO4 then we have to look some more at CO2, flow and distribution. I'd rather stay away from algecides because for one thing, it doesn't solve the reason the GSA is occurring and secondly it damages the plants as well. You'd be better off doing a blackout. Are you still supplementing with Excel? If not you can start adding the dosing per bottle. Are you at the limit of injection rate? You can also turn the gas on a little bit earlier as well. I think tweaking flow/CO2 will kick it.

Cheers,
 

chris1004

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Hi Clive.

Apart from using the flourish excel to wipe down the background I'm not putting any more in. But it does take quite a lot to wipe it down and its probably about equivalent to dosing as per instructions post weekly water change. The reason that I am not adding any further flourish excel is that my twisted vallis doesn't seem to like it much, and I like the vallis quite a lot.

The co2 drop checker is always lime green bordering on yellow and the last FE only lasted about 10 weeks so I don't think that co2 is an issue.

Flow distribution could be a problem but to me it looks like everything is moving around nicely but I am inexperienced with planted tanks and I'm not entirely sure of how much is enough with regard to flow. The combination of the rating of my filters is about 10times the tank volume and they are now both nicely matured, I clean them out roughly once a month and dismantle and clean all the pipes every other month aswell. There does seem to be one or two definate areas within the tank which get more GSA than others, which obviously indicates flow distribution being an issue and I have been considering three options to target additional flow in those areas.

1/ Adding a korilia powerhead. But I'd rather avoid this if possible because ideally i want to keep visible hardware in the tank to a bare minimum. Also some of the currents in the tank do seem particularly strong and I am a little concerned about increasing them further and pinning my fish to the side of the tank.LOL.

2/ Moving one or two of the larger plants around to aid flow distribution. But I don't want to unduly upset the status quo of things if its unnecessary and ultimatly doesn't solve the problem.

3/ Targeting individual areas with strategically placed airstones. If this would work then it may be the best bet as I can easily hide the hardware and a few bubbles here and there which can easily be turned off for viewing purposes won't harm anything. Do you think this would work?

I don't think that the immitation rockface is helping me at all as it seems to be a perfect medium for algae to grow on being very rough with some deep inaccesible cracks where flow could not possibly penitrate and I seriously wish that I had never installed it in the first place. I am considering stripping it out and chucking the damn thing in the bin and just chalking it up to experience. In your opinion/experience should I give up on it?

The reason that I'm considering an algacide even though I understand that its a bit of a drastic measure is to hopefully level the playing field as it were as I seem to have been playing catchup from the very beginning. If I use it and GSA comes back then I will know that things aren't quite right. At the moment it appears that no matter how clear I think I have the tank the GSA always has a stronghold somewhere and I really have had enough of pulling out infected leaves and think that a course of algacide would do less overall damage than the constant removal of otherwise healthy leaves.

You mentioned a blackout as another option what is the best way to do this and how will it affect my fish and plants? Will it also level the preverbial playing field?

Don't get me wrong about this though the tank is hardly infested (yet) and overall over 95% of the tank is completly algae free with tremendous plant growth (thats another entirely different problem but a nice one to have).

Thanks.
 
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