Hair Algae - I'm at my wits end!!!

Pepsi Dave

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1 Apr 2013
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Hi guys, I'm having a real problem with hair algae, and I'm really struggling to keep it under control, and have been having issues with it for weeks, and it seems that no matter what I try, I'm not winning the battle.... tank details below, with further info beneath that of current remedial attempts and summary of tank "journey" so far. I've tried to give as much detail as possible, so apologies for post length.

Tank approx 36L (25cm D x 30cm H x 45cm L)
Twinstar 450SA
Pressurised CO2 Injection (Fire Extinguisher) via ceramic diffuser
EI Dosing + Excel
Eheim 2073 Canister Filter (Rated at 1050LPH) set to 50% output.

I have very soft tap water 0KH, PH varies between 6.6-6.8
I use Aquadur to increase KH to 4 and PH to approx 7.4-7.6

Timings
CO2 on @ 15:30
Edit - CO2 off at 22:00
Lighting ramps up from 0% to 60% between 17:30-18:00 and remains at 60% for 4.5 hours
Lighting Ramps down from 22:30-23:00

Tank was set up mid-May, and heavily planted with the following plants.
Eleocharis Acicularis Mini
Lilaeopsis Brasiliensis
Marselia Hirsuta
Hyrophila Pinnatifida
Rotala H'ra
Staurogyne Repens
Bolbitis Heteroclita Difformis
Anubias (Not sure of species)
Anubias Nana Petit
2 x Type of bucephalandra
Flame Moss on Wood
I also have some dragon stone in my tank.
Substrate is Tropica aquarium soil fine.

Tank ran fine for 3 weeks, I was doing daily water changes for week 1, and every other day for weeks 2 and 3.
Week 3, I felt all was stable, and I added 5 CRS and 1 Amano shrimp.
Week 4, and this is where I think I made my mistake, I increased lighting duration by half an hour (to current duration) with a view to increasing it to 6hrs over a number of weeks. I also stepped down water changes to once a week.
I felt this would be OK because my filter was already cycled before using with this tank. (Previous tank sprung a leak, so upgraded this little tank with a view to making a shrimp only tank.) In hindsight, I'd perhaps underestimated how much ammonia the soil leaches after set up.

End of week 4 I had severe melting to my S. Repens, Marselia Hirsuta, Anubias, Buces, and Bolbitis (I lost ALL of my bolbitis :(), with yellowing to my foreground grasses in the front left hand corner being present from end of week 2.
I noticed that this yellowing was occurring where there was the highest flow, thought that the flow was too high in that area, so adjusted outlet to change flow, this improved growth of the grasses.

At week 4 I noticed the first signs of algae. I had brown algae on anubis leaves, and on glass. This looks like diatoms, so I'm not overly worried, easy to remove, and seems to take a while to return.

I also noticed Hair Algae on my Bolbitis, Repens, Moss and Carpeting plants which, after reading about Hair Algae, I attributed this to either flow, Lighting or CO2 issues.

I reduced lighting intensity from 100% to 60% and ran for two weeks, with no improvement. I was still only doing a weekly 50% WC at this point!!!

Next I adjusted flow, and managed to increase filter output to 100% without it destroying my scape. I ran this for 2 weeks. This seemed to exacerbate the problem rather than fix it, so I eliminated flow as the problem. I was now also doing 2 x 50% WC per week (Sunday and Weds).

So with no improvement, I uprated CO2, from 3-4 BPS to maybe 6-7BPS. Drop checker was always showing green (ie wouldn't show a PH rise after lights out), but not quite lime green.
Now, another lesson learnt, that was too much, I went shopping and came back to dead CRS and Amano shrimp a few hours later :confused::oops:

My CO2 is now at 5BPS and my drop checker shows lime green-yellow - constantly.
2 weeks since then, I still have hair algae growing quicker than I can remove it!

I still have occasional melting leaves, but cannot detect any ammonia if I test for it, so am I right to rule out ammonia as the cause of melting? Equally, I know that I can only have algae in the presence of ammonia too, so I know must have *some* ammonia present.

The only thing I'm yet to alter is my EI recipe, because from what I've read about hair algae its more likely to be CO2 or flow related. Also, I'm not observing any obvious plant deficiencies that I know of. I also want to keep shrimp, so I'm conscious of Nitrate levels also, I've struggled with shrimp in the past due to high nitrates or so I'v been told.

Other observations that may be note-worthy.
In the past, I've used glass CO2 drop checkers, which have always changed colour during the day, with regularity. ie Blueish in the morning, before CO2, and green-yellow at the time of lights on.

I broke both of the drop checkers I had, trying to fix the suction cups to them. My LFS only had the JBL drop checkers (Like a plastic upside down pear shaped thing) but this just seems to constantly show the same colour, and I'm also not detecting any fluctuations in CO2 with my test kit either. Is this normal?

Final point, at the time of writing this as well, there is a small amount of what I presume to be GSA on my ceramic diffuser, but nothing visible on glass, and nothing obvious on hardscape, that wasn't already there from previous tank (where it was present on hardscape, I scrubbed as much off as I could before placing in this tank).

EI Recipe for Daily Doses (Used Rotala Butterfly and James Planted Tank calculators to tweak recipe).
The below is added to 500ml Water. I dose the below on Sunday (WC Day 1), Tuesday, and Thursday.
KNO3 - 1.5 Tsp
KH2PO4 - 0.25 Tsp
K2SO4 - 1 Tsp
MGSO4 - 5Tsp

I also dose 25ml Trace on Monday, Wednesday (WC Day 2) and Friday.
As well as EI ferts, I dose Excel and double the recommended dose to try and combat the algae.

This recipe should yield approx 25-30ppm Nitrates, 30ppm Potassium, 4ppm Phosphates, and 10ppm Magnesium. If I've got a problem with my recipe, I'm not sure how to identify this, and how therefore how to rectify it.

I hope the above is enough info, I'm at my wits end how to fix my algae issues!

Pics attached also to show tank, and current algae, I've just carried out an extra WC so I've done 2 WCs today and removed a blahblahblahblah load of algae, but as you can see there is still plenty of it still evident!

Thanks in advance for any pointers as to where I'm going wrong, or any advice! :)
 

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Simon Cole

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Hello Dave,
You want to add some more animals to eat the algae.
You probably want to cover your tank at this tie of year too to stop too much ambient light accelerating algal growth.
Floating plants can help.

Dosing recipes need to match your tap water. If you don't have any calcium available to plants, then how can you expect them to facilitate the transport of other nutrients and biological molecules around in the plant. Likewise, if you've put so much magnesium in the tank that this is competing uptake of the calcium. The recommended concentrations for certain nutrients given to aquatic plants really started with Hoagland's Solution (1930s). By the 1960 significant work had been done to develop solutions suitable for aquatic plants, such as the work of Gerloff and Krombholz (1966):
1593640273113.png

These authors were also amongst the first to consider plant tissue analysis of elements that were plant nutrients in addition to water chemistry. This gave somewhat of an idea of what proportion of water column nutrients entered into angiosperm plant tissue.
Jump forward 10 years, and Stephen R. Carpenter and Michael S. Adams (1977) were measuring the tissue nutrient content of macrophytes within an entire hardwater eutrophic lake in order to plan harvesting regimes. Another 40 years, and Adamec, Lubomír (2010) were using environmental water chemistry in combination with plant tissue analysis to determine the nutrient storage function of turions in a variety of different aquatic plants. The paradigm had clearly shifted since the 1960s, and researchers were using environmental water chemistry, plant evolution and adaptation, and plant tissue nutrient analysis to determine optimal conditions for plant growth, according to each individual species. These are just a few examples I plucked from Google Scholar, but there have been thousands of research papers looking at aquatic plant nutrition. However, I think many people are still of the view that there is just one formula or recipe. If there was, then it probably existed in the table above back in the 1960s. But even the authors back then were just using it as a starting point to get some sort of optimised growth for their experiment - it was only ever a hypothetical assumption - and that meant their research was never going to be totally robust. If you were looking for a starting point, then I would begin there too. I hope that helps.

Melting is usually due to poor photosynthetic control, so you were right to identify your lighting and carbon dioxide gas. but bear in mind that calcium is a critical element in this process too. Too much light and sometimes plants die due to photo-inhibition.

On a side note, I do not recognise what the term EI actually means - a parenthetic view on water changes.
 
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rebel

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Dude, just reduce light by 20% and wait.

If you don't have any critters in the tank, you can use a hair algae killer. They usually have Busan77 in them but is very toxic to shrimp. Half life appears to be 48 hours so quickly cleared. For example API algaefix.

OH WAIT: You have CRS, they will die with Algaefix. Ignore.
 

hypnogogia

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From the photos, I also see that your co2 bubbles are rising straight up, so appear not to be dispersed around the tank. Try putting the diffuser under your filter inlet to allow the water jet to disperse the bubbles.
 

Nick72

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@Simon Cole - the Aquadur the OP is adding is basically Ca & Mg, so he should be covered for Calcium.


If you are doing 2 weekly 50% water changes then your ferts are good. If you are doing 1 weekly 50% water change then your Nitrates will be too high, around 60ppm.

I'd still bet your CO2 is an issue, and you need to do a full CO2 Profile to confirm this one way or another.

I don't see much algae to be honest, and what I do could actually be filament diatoms.

Can you get a close up of the algae?


Going out on a limb here, but with all those nutrients your plants should be green and not yellow, so I'm going to says your lights are too low, the plants a suffering and the algae (or possibly diatoms) are filling the void.
 
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rebel

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Dude, just reduce light by 20% and wait.

If you don't have any critters in the tank, you can use a hair algae killer. They usually have Busan77 in them but is very toxic to shrimp. Half life appears to be 48 hours so quickly cleared. For example API algaefix.

OH WAIT: You have CRS, they will die with Algaefix. Ignore.
I don't know how to delete what I wrote above.

Those pictures show diatoms. Many critters including otos and shrimp will eat them. I once had massive diatom issues for months in one tank. I put in about 500 cherry shrimp and overnight the diatoms were gone. ;) Other options include peroxide and glut but may you won't need it. Once last option for persistent diatoms is to blast the light for a while but it can induce other algae.
 

Pepsi Dave

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1 Apr 2013
Messages
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Dude, just reduce light by 20% and wait.

If you don't have any critters in the tank, you can use a hair algae killer. They usually have Busan77 in them but is very toxic to shrimp. Half life appears to be 48 hours so quickly cleared. For example API algaefix.

OH WAIT: You have CRS, they will die with Algaefix. Ignore.
Hah, I did! I have zero stock in my tank since I gassed them all :(:banghead::oops:
 

Pepsi Dave

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I don't know how to delete what I wrote above.

Those pictures show diatoms. Many critters including otos and shrimp will eat them. I once had massive diatom issues for months in one tank. I put in about 500 cherry shrimp and overnight the diatoms were gone. ;) Other options include peroxide and glut but may you won't need it. Once last option for persistent diatoms is to blast the light for a while but it can induce other algae.
I'm reluctant to get any more livestock until I've addressed the problem. I'd be concerned that at some point I'll try and make a CO2 adjustment and end up gassing all my stock again! I'm planning on waiting until the algae is under control, and stable, before I add any more stock. I'd be worried that if I have to make any CO2 adjustments that I'd end up gassing them all again! :confused:
 

Witcher

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London
The below is added to 500ml Water. I dose the below on Sunday (WC Day 1), Tuesday, and Thursday.
KNO3 - 1.5 Tsp
KH2PO4 - 0.25 Tsp
K2SO4 - 1 Tsp
MGSO4 - 5Tsp

I also dose 25ml Trace on Monday, Wednesday (WC Day 2) and Friday.
As well as EI ferts, I dose Excel and double the recommended dose to try and combat the algae.

This recipe should yield approx 25-30ppm Nitrates, 30ppm Potassium, 4ppm Phosphates, and 10ppm Magnesium. If I've got a problem with my recipe, I'm not sure how to identify this, and how therefore how to rectify it.
Do you dose 25ml of macro each time?
 

Siege

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Cambridgeshire, UK
A few thoughts -


- it is not fert related, you are going down a rabbit hole chasing that.

- water changes - get doing them 70% change and do it 2 or 3 times on the trot. Do it daily if you have time. Get all the waste out.

- you‘ve got no oxygen with no surface movement, invest in some nice glassware that gives you a nice surface ripple.

- co2 diffuser needs a good bleaching to remove the algae. The bubbles are huge. It is blocked and maybe running at too high a psi also.

- flow. Put the outlet and inlet at the front corner going across the tank. Put the co2 at the opposite side. You want the small co2 bubbles being blasted around the tank, it should look like a candle. Your co2 is going straight up. That’s why you are using so much gas.

- you have a lot of all types of algae pointing towards lots of waste and fluctuating co2 Plus low oxygen. Get on top of the co2 and surface movement. Blast everything with a turkey baster attached to your syphon hose to remove all waste. scrub the hardscape with a small wire brush or toothbrush.
A massive maintenance session. You’ll probably do half a dozen water changes minimum.

- you want the tank looking spotless, clean the filter, suction cups,tubing everything. start a reset.


So basically lack of oxygen(surface movement), set up on flow is an issue impacting co2, all combined with lack of maintenance.

It may be too far gone but if you give it a good whack you may just pull it back (You May have to cut the stem plants to the minimum plant and cut of all leave showing BBA). Give it a good go, you’ll learn loads more about your tank than it all going smoothly :)

Hope that helps!

ps. Temp at 22-23 degrees!
 
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Siege

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This may help -





your issue is you have far less water to play with so when it goes out of balance it goes quick if that makes sense.

it makes maintenance and multiple water changes on the trot so much more important! 👍
 

Siege

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Yup I dose 25ml Macros on Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday, and 25ml Micros on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, along with Excel every day, which I'm double dosing at the moment.
why So much ei?

Don’t stop dosing it just seems a lot, is this because the recipe is a weak solution.?

For example I’d dose TNC Complete or the Aquascaper ferts at 2.5ml a day on your tank.
 
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Conort2

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I’d up the water changes to three times a week as mentioned. Also another thing to do is mix up the amount of liquid carbon dosage you require for your tank size in a spray bottle with some water and then spray over the plants and hardscape once you’ve removed the water for your water change. Leave for ten minutes and then fill up. Be careful though, my bolbitis didn’t like it too much And a few leaves melted.

cheers

Conor
 

Siege

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After a massive session - Daily water changes. 3 times each time, as big as you can go.

Add more plants if you need to.
you’ll find a massive improvement i think after a couple of weeks.

just keep up the improved maintenance :)
 

Simon Cole

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@Simon Cole - the Aquadur the OP is adding is basically Ca & Mg, so he should be covered for Calcium.
@Nick72 - No I don't think so. I was talking about plant nutrient availability within plant tissue (competition between mineral ions). It seems quite likely that having magnesium levels this high would result in melting plants if calcium concentrations did not correlate to these levels. I am unsure why such a high level of epsom salt is required at this stage. Can anybody explain this?

I accept there are lots of views. I think the easy place to start is to get magnesium levels back down or they will flood new tissue and make growth fairly difficult.

@rebel Lots of views. Probably a good thing - liked the oxygen idea. I would opt for more oxygen too, but it's not easy juggling all options at once. I think the whole tank is being pushed a bit hard or those poor shrimp and plants would still be alive.
 
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