Help! Brown Algae Returns?

Discussion in 'Algae' started by Peter F, 4 Aug 2009.

  1. Peter F

    Peter F Member

    Messages:
    38
    I am running a 180 litre heavily planted tank. The tank has been set up for over two months and has already passed through the brown algae stage for new tanks. However, after approximately five weeks of the brown algae being absent it has returned! Lighting, C02 and water changes have been constant throughout this period.

    From day one I have been dosing 5mls of Tropica Nutrition and after around two weeks I introduced Tropica capsules to feed the plant roots as I am using a plain gravel substrate. For the past three weeks I have been dosing Tropica Nutrition Plus at the same rate as before. Tropica Nutrition Plus contains Phosphates and I am wondering if this is the cause of my problem? However, the root capsules also contain Phosphates.

    My course of action has been to stop plant feeding and increase water changes, the plants are all still thriving but I don't know if this is the correct course of action? I am only guessing Phosphates and possible Silicates are the problem.

    I would appreciate any advice and guidance on what to do.

    Regards: Peter
     
  2. Dolly Sprint 16v

    Dolly Sprint 16v Member

    Messages:
    1,611
    Location:
    Cheshire
    Peter

    I am going to back you with your assumption as I am of the same opinion - see attached thread shortcut. All plants do need some level of phosphates with the water column - the question to ask is ? "what" levels are fine and "what levels are excessive. According to people who manufacture phosphate remover any levels greater than 2ppm or 2.0mg/l are bad - it might be a marketing pun to get you to buy it - I have algae issues and my levels are @ 5.0mg/l or 5ppm.

    viewtopic.php?f=51&t=6371

    Regards
    Paul
     
  3. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

    Messages:
    945
    Location:
    Surrey UK
    Hi Peter
    I'll just dash off and get my tin hat before Clive turns up :lol: :lol: :lol:
    On a serious note, stopping the plant feeding is exactly the wrong thing to do when you have an algae attack, as the plant health deteriorates you get even more algae. Most times the onset of plant deterioration is not even visible to the naked eye. The first you know about it is when the plant gets covered in algae. You can certainly see that :lol: .
    From my days of using Tropica Nutrition Plus, way back when, your dosing seems a bit on the low side. I seem to remember 5ml per 50l tank water, but I may be wrong on that. You'd better check the instructions as I don't use it any more.
    Increasing the water changes is always a good course of action when you have an algae attack (the bigger the better) and you will have to remove all affected leaves. :(
    I know you say your CO2 levels are 'constant', but what is constant in a heavily planted tank? I had my drop checker go bright yellow after trimming and thinning one large plant about 2 weeks ago :wideyed:. I am having more trouble with flow rates around the tank to ensure even distribution of the CO2 than actually injecting it at a 'constant' rate. I just added a large external filter 3 days ago and I've seen improvements already (plants pearling that never pearled before :D ).
    I admit I don't fully understand the science behind what causes algae, but from what I've learnt round here, I'm pretty sure Phosphates ain't one of them. CO2 distribution seems to be the biggest offender.
    I'm sure Clive will be along in a while to let you know the best course of action, as we all know round here, he is passionate about this subject :D

    Chris.
     
  4. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi,
    Good thing Chris got you so I hope you paid attention to his reasoning. If phosphates and Silicates were a problem, why were they not a problem for the previous 5 weeks? Co2 is your problem. Think about the amount of plant mass you generated in 5 weeks, both above and below the substrate. Do you think the amount of CO2 that was sufficient 5 weeks ago can feed and maintain the same growth rates for the biomass that you now have? What do you think happens to flow and movement/distribution of water throughout the plant beds after 5 weeks of growth. Do you think it becomes easier, the same, or more difficult for CO2 and nutrients to penetrate the additional growth? What do you think has happened to the CO2 cylinder pressure in the past 5 weeks? Think long and hard about these question and you will find the path.

    Cheers,
     
  5. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Messages:
    4,126
    Location:
    Aston, Oxfordshire
    If it is the diatom type brown algae, in the short term a handful of otos would clear it up no problem :)

    Sam
     
  6. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

    Messages:
    945
    Location:
    Surrey UK
    Phew. Looks like I've learnt some of it then Clive :lol:

    Chris
     
  7. Peter F

    Peter F Member

    Messages:
    38
    Chris/Clive,

    I have been thinking long and hard about the questions you gave me to reflect on. As a result I started doing some detective work on the aquarium.

    1. Yes the biomass has increased dramatically.
    2. Had I incresed the C02 rate to compensate, no.
    3. On closer inspection I found the external filter flow had slowed down.
    4. Co2 Circulation throughout had been restricted by plant growth.
    5. Plant feeding stopped.
    6. Increase in live stock

    Action taken:

    1. Filter media washed and cleaned in tank water.
    2. CO2 injection rate now doubled ( approx 2 bubbles per second)
    3. Feeding Tropica Nutrition at 5mls per day instead of TN+ (I am still concerned I have distubed Tropica root capsules that contain PO4)
    4. I have now measured the PO4 at 0.05 Ml/ltr. Is this a high reading?
    5. I have increased the water changes.

    Results;
    Algae seems to be under control, the tank is looking much better. I know this is early days and I'm not holding my breath. However, the knowledge gained has been invaluable. I think I should stop getting hung up about PO4 but I'm sure you can understand! Would you increase the fertilizer dosing from 5ml ?

    Thanks again to you all: Regards Peter
     
  8. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi Peter, a very good analysis. Your PO4 levels sound very low to me, but of course, I don't trust any test kit as far as i can throw them, and PO4 tst kits are the most notorious of them all, so the number you report is really meaningless. The more you worry about PO4 the higher the likelihood is that you will suffer PO4 related algae.

    Here is an example of a tank with high CO2 injection rate and PO4 levels of higher than 10.0 Ml/ltr:
    [​IMG]

    Cheers,
     
  9. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

    Messages:
    945
    Location:
    Surrey UK
    Hi Peter
    Glad we could be of assistance, after all, that's what this forums for.
    I would leave this as it is for now and observe the plant condition and adjust accordingly, just remember as the mass increases so will your feeding. You may still have to use some of the TN+ because the normal TN does not contain the Trace elements.
    One thing I've learnt in recent months is that I have had to almost treat this planted tank game as a new hobby and 'learn again'. Almost all of my old theories about keeping aquariums have been turned upside down, this was in the main the fault of my LFS's who I now realize haven't the foggiest idea on how to keep a planted tank (someone round here calls them The Matrix :lol: ).
    Upon poor advice, I used to test for this, test for that and test for the other. After starting EI, I now don't test for anything. My test kits went in the bin when I had to make space for my CO2 cylinder because they were filling up the cupboard :lol: .
    After doing hours of reading on this forum and applying some logic to the whole affair, I thought to myself, why would I want to test for Nitrates and Phosphates? I know they're in the tank because I put them in there when I feed the plants. Why should I worry about what levels? If it's too low the plants complain, so I put more in, if it's too high, the plants look healthy and the fish don't complain, so why worry.
    I've still got loads to learn about this planted tank hobby and Clive and the gang have been a massive help to me so far, but the condition of my plants, and lack of algae (apart from the odd green spot on the glass by the end of the week), are telling me I'm on the right path.
    If I have any problems in my tank these days, the first question I ask myself is, what has changed? then act on it accordingly, like you have just done. Seems to have worked for me so far.

    The only thing I now 'worry' about is, how do I get my tank to look as good as any of Clive's pictures? :lol:

    Chris
     
  10. Peter F

    Peter F Member

    Messages:
    38
    Please can you give me some guidence on my dosing rates. From the previous posts you know I am using Tropica Nutrition and Nutrion + (with phosphates)
    The manufacturers recommended rate for both products is 5ml per 50 ltr's per week.

    Currently I am cotinuing to dose 5mls of Tropica Nutrition daily
    Now I have learned PO4 was not the cause of my algae attack.
    I would appreciate guidance for a daily or weekly dosing regime?

    Can I use a conbination of both products, can they be mixed and is this an option?

    The aquarium is 180 ltr's

    Regards: Peter
     
  11. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth Member

    Messages:
    3,955
    Location:
    worksop, nottinghamshire
    Dose 1ml per 20litres daily as a guideline, so you should raise the dose, but if the plant health is in good shape then keep it where it is. I used to dose 10ml in my 180litre but it was a high tech tank.
     
  12. Peter F

    Peter F Member

    Messages:
    38
    Further to my previous posts regarding this algae problem. I am pleased to say the attack has not increased in its vigour. However, a status quo seems to exist. I am still feeding Tropica Nutrition at 5mls per day and TN+ on alternate days.
    (Please see my prevoius post seeking dosing rates)

    One area I have not yet looked at is the lighting duration and timing in regards to the Co2 start time. From day one the CO2 was set to start at 16:00hrs followed by lights on at 17;00hrs.
    Followed by Co2 off at 21.30hrs and light off at 22.30hrs

    Considering the plant growth, resulting in areas of the tank becoming shaded despite my continuous pruning.
    Should I consider increasing the lighting duraton from the existing 5 1/2 hs per day?
    I am also considering increeasing the dosing rate ro 8mls per day.
    As always your thoughts and comments are much appreciated.

    Kindest Regards: Peter
     
  13. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi Peter,
    Absolutely and positively the worst thing one can possibly do is to add more light when one has an algal bloom. Adding more light means that one must then add more CO2, which, if one is suffering CO2 related algae, is not a very good plan at all. So the mindset in these cases ought to be either to lower the CO2 demand by lowering the light or, to increase the available CO2. CO2 is most critical at lights "ON" therefore, turning on the CO2 even earlier than you do now combined with lowering the light intensity (or lowering the duration as a second best option). As discussed earlier trimming/thinning the plant beds, increasing the injection rate and adding higher total flow rate are always desirable options.

    Cheers,
     
  14. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

    Messages:
    945
    Location:
    Surrey UK
    Hi Peter.
    Just for your info.
    I have my CO2 come on 2 hours before lights on, and goes off 2 hours before lights out.
    Just something else for you to consider to get the CO2 levels high when it's needed most (lights on). :D

    Chris.
     
  15. Peter F

    Peter F Member

    Messages:
    38
    An updated shot of my tank. I am still fighting with the brown algae but I think I am beginning to win the battle.

    P8152982b_filtered.jpg


    Regards: Peter
     
  16. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth Member

    Messages:
    3,955
    Location:
    worksop, nottinghamshire
    Nice tank, glad you are winning :thumbup:
     
  17. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

    Messages:
    945
    Location:
    Surrey UK
    Hi Peter
    Glad to hear you're winning the battle. Keep removing it manually, but when you finally get the balance right, you'll find it won't come back. I've been where you are :oops: but I've found it was all part of my learning process.
    Nice healthy looking plants by the way. ;)

    Chris
     
  18. Peter F

    Peter F Member

    Messages:
    38
    It has been some weeks since I last posted an update on my algae problem. However, I can say it is still continuing to plague me. Co2 has been pushed to the point where it starts to upset the fish. I am continuing to dose Tropica + 10mls per day. Water flow around the tank has been maintained by continuos pruning. 30-40% weekly water changes have continued and I have also started 8ml daily dosing of Easy Carbo.
    I would say the algae is only under control as a result of the daily maintenance regime.

    A small amount of Diatom algae is still visible.
    Staghorn algae has also appeared.
    Black brush algae was present but has been removed from the older plant leafs.

    I am going on vacation for 3 weeks shortly and wonder if there is anything else I could do before I go?
    Fortunately the daily dosing and water changes will continue in my absence. However, I am concerened the battle will be lost while I am away!

    Reminder: Tank 3 months old 180ltr, T5 lighting 6 hrs per day, external power filter regularly cleaned in tank water. CO2 on before lights on and off before lights off. Plant growth is vigorous.

    Any advice is appreciated as always.

    Regards: Peter
     
  19. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

    Messages:
    945
    Location:
    Surrey UK
    Hi Peter
    Sorry to hear all is not well with your tank just yet.
    If this is true Diatom algae it will disappear eventually, although three months seems a bit long to me. Maybe chuck some Oto's in there to get rid of it for you. Three cleaned my whole 180l in about 4 days, and I had loads of it. Haven't seen any since.
    Staghorn is definitely CO2 related.
    BBA is CO2 related too.
    So after your meticulous regime, I think you would now have to be looking at your CO2 distribution.
    Any idea what your flow rates are through your filters?

    Chris.
     
  20. Tigermoth

    Tigermoth Member

    Messages:
    56
    Are you using the bucket method to do water changes? Once I moved over to using a pump and hosepipe with a 218L tank it was much easier to do much larger water changes, this has really sorted the algae out.

    I may be totally wrong, but I'd take a guess at 30% water change not being enough for a vigorous growth high light tank. Are you keeping the tank clean of muck and how often are you cleaning the filter?
     

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