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Low tech to High tech = more algae

nickmcmechan

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16 Mar 2008
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Dalkeith, Scotland
So, have a 300l tank heavily planted with Crypts, Swords, Hygrphillia, Frogbit.

Last Week I increased

  • light from 1.4wpg to 2wpg

    TPN+ (contains micros and macros) from 1/4 recommended dose on bottle to 1/2 dose

    CO2 from just Excel at full dose to Excel at full dose + pressurised CO2 at 30ppm

The tank is beginning to get overrun with Cyanobacteria and Brown Algae - I am manually removing every day with 30-50% water changes but its now beginning to win. The algae was there before and is now worse.

No fish in just now, manually adding ammonia

So, what do I do?

What do I increase / decrease??
 

Dave Spencer

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If the algae and BGA already had a foot hold, adding more light was asking for trouble. 1.4WPG on a 300l sounds like it should have been enough to me.

Is there any particular reason why you increased to 2WPG?

Why are you dosing TPN+ at half the amount?

I am guessing the ammonia is for a fishless cycle. If so, you are asking for even more algae related problems, particularly now that you have upped the light. High tech planted tanks and fishless cycles do not go together IMO. Building up a large bacteria colony that will decrease when the cycle is over seems like a waste of time to me.

If I were you, I would go back to the original light levels, and get the flow around your tank sorted out. The BGA could be a result of inadequate flow, resulting in dead spots of low NO3 where the BGA can get a foot hold. You need to get all nutrients to all four corners, which should help you rid the tank of the algae.

You may think you have CO2 at 30ppm, but this may not be the case all around the tank.

Dave.
 

chris1004

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27 Dec 2008
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The lack of flow won't be helping but the real problem is more likely to be the ammonia with high lighting.

Remeber the golden rule that light+ammonia=algae, every time, regardless of the other parameters in your tank.
 

nickmcmechan

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Dalkeith, Scotland
So, here's the plan:


  • 2 day blackout
    eSHA 707 for a week
    increase dosing of ferts
    reduce ammonia dosing to keep tank cycled
    add more plants - suggestions?

after reading this thread i did forget to mention that i run the tank at 30C as I am putting in a breeding pair of discus at the end of the month - want to get all the mucking about sorted before then!

http://www.barrreport.com/co2-aquatic-p ... ferts.html

let me know your thought pls! :)
 

plantbrain

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Not sure where it's at, my Dad mentioned it. I suppose I should come back and look. Been 26 years since I've been there.
Nice place.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

nickmcmechan

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bit of an update

went ahead with the blackout, increased NO3, redirected filter flow so plants waving, stopped ammonia dosing...co2 switched off as there is no lighting right now (should i put it on?)????

had a look in the tank just now, brown algae has taken an absolute hammering, BGA has now covered entire back wall of tank and seems to have increased?
 

chris1004

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There are many people on this forum far more qualified to answer this than me but from my limited experience with hi-tech planted tanks you need to be doing a lot of large water changes to try to reduce the algae spores within the water column and dosing with flourish excel. Algae lives in two states, the one that you see as a full blown annoyance (there is a proper name for it but I can't quite remember, 'fagatele' or somthing like that) and the spores that it gives off (tiny micro-organisms undetectable by the naked eye) which become full blown algae when light+ ammonia are present.

Hopefully some of the more experianced aquarists on this forum will put you right with your algae issues.

The best advise I can offer you though is to delay the introduction of the breeding pair of discus until after you have your problems sorted, as you may find that it won't be as straight foward as you would like and the delicate fish will only serve to complicate your problems in the short term at best, the worst case senario doesn't bare thinking about!!!
 

nickmcmechan

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Update.

did a massive clean out yeaterday - took me about 4 hours

  • scrubbed all the surfaces (most of the bga was on the back)
    removed all the plants and put them through a 1:19 bleach dip
    cleaned substrate (sand, couldn't get all the BGA debris off)
    added another 1/2" of substrate (same sand)
    replanted with new plants as well

and now continuing the blackout...think i will take it to tomorrow night?

the plant population is now

  • 8 twisted vals on the left
    2 echinodorous cordiflorous to the back either side of the tiger lilly
    10 crypts along the back on either side of the sword / lilly centre piece
    1 row of 10 crypts in front of that
    2nd row of 10 crpyts in front of that row
    6 hygrophilollia siamesis 53b around the big resin magrove root decoration at the right
    4 anubias var nana attached to the mangrove thing as well as a java fern

i think i might be able to squeeze in another 1/2 dozen crypts and i've left about 2-3 inches clear at the front for the discus to feed when i get them on the 28th

plan going forward is

  • put 2 light tubes back on monday 16th
    monday introduce ferts, excel and co2
    22nd march put other two light tubes on all going well, i.e. no algae and significant plant growth, otherwise wait one week
    28th March - pair of discus arrive
    28th onwards - daily water changes with HMA and daily dosing of ferts

share your thoughts please!
 

Ed Seeley

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As you've effectively just completely reset the bacterial population of your tank I would hold off on the discus. They really need to be going into a stable, well-functioning aquarium rather than one that's just been completely upset.

After changing and uprooting plants like that I would get some light back on quickly and get the CO2, excel and ferts going straight away as the plants need to grow now and get re-established ASAP. I'd then do a series of very large water changes to get rid of any BGA that resurfaces (and it will). These may need to be daily at first syphoning off any BGA you can see, plus any mulm and detritus in the system. Also make sure there is none in the filter too.

You don't really mention filtration - have you got a large filter circulating the water about 10x an hour? BGA is usually a sign of low flow lack of maintenance and as you're doing large water changes I think the low flow and added ammonia are at the root of your problem.

If you've room for more plants don't add crypts at this point but more fast-growing stems as you only have 6 at the moment and you need lots of fast growing stems ideally when starting up a new tank.

Have you stopped dosing ammonia yet? You really don't need to add this when cycling a planted tank as you need to cycle the tank slowly and the plants will provide ammonia for this. Adding the ammonia will either just be used by the plants or encourage algae. What you want to do is add the plants and add all the ferts and CO2 they need to get established.

Finally do not rush adding fish please. You are far better to wait 4 weeks for your tank to be stable before adding the fish, especially when you're adding a pair of large and relatively delicate fish such as discus. Have you got any other fish in there? The pair of discus would be the last thing I'd add to a settled, established tank.
 

nickmcmechan

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thanks for the reply ed.

the filtration i have is an eheim 2217, output from a spray bar at the left. i've moved the spray bar to just below the surface to engage some ripple, and the output is now pointed down towards the plant / substrate to encourage flow around there

on the right i have a juwel internal with a fluval 305 running through it. the co2 diffuser is joined to the output of the juwel internal hence why the flow may be an issue

i've ordered an eheim aquaball 2212 from eBay - this thing has a pivotal powerhead so i can point the output at any part of the tank i want. this will be running from right hand side of the tank to get flow from there too, as the 2217 seems to be doing all the work

the tank has actually been established for 18 months, but agree i've upset the bacteria a lot lately. i've ordered the fish for the 28th already....

i did stop dosing ammonia altogether

so you think i shoud have lights back on today with co2 and ferts, followed by daily water changes? and should i put 2 tubes on or all 4?

what stem plants do you suggest as a cheap quick fix?
 

Ed Seeley

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I'd only use two tubes and make sure the CO2 is cranked up to give 30ppm before the lights come on. In fact if you have no fish in there then it can even go higher than that.

Is there no way you can ask the supplier to hold off sending them for a few weeks? I'd be really jittery adding large fish to this tank now, even when the filter has been matured. Even if the fish are fine they will produce a lot of ammonia and this may spark the BGA off again! Once the tank is established and the plants are growing well then they will act as superb ammonia removal system, but they need to be settled and growing well first!

As to stems to add you've got a wide choice really. I like Hygrophila polysperma as it grows incredibly quickly in almost any tank. Any fast growing stem will do though such as Cabomba, Rotalas, Ludwigias, Shinnersia etc. Have a look on the Tropica website and do an Advanced Search for drawings and descriptions of the plants.

I'd do the water changes as soon as you spot any BGA. Syphon off as much as you can doing an up to 50% water change. You should notice you probably only have to do this once every couple of days after a short while and then the timings should get longer and longer until you're back up to weekly water changes. Have you checked there are no pockets of detritus either in the filters (the bottom of the Juwel filter is good site for it to accumulate), the back corners of the tank or in amongst the plants? If you see any then syphon that off as soon as you do.
 

chris1004

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If nothing else please listen to the advice that you have asked for with regard to adding a breeding pair of discus to an unsettled tank. Please hold fire, do not add them to your tank until your other issues have been resolved. You owe it to the fish to treat them with the respect they deserve. Set up a bare temporary holding tank with the matured filters that you already have and good quality (preferably RO) water if needs must until you have the issues in your planted tank resolved.
 

Ed Seeley

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nickmcmechan said:
yep, it now looks like a 'no go' for the 28th - this will give me the time to get the tank sorted!

I know it's disappointing but it'll be far better in the long run for the fish, plants and the tank. Now you can ramp up the CO2 and get the plants really shooting up and established long before any fish go in - you'll get a lot less algae that way.
 

nickmcmechan

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thanks

i found a small spot (size of end of a fingertip) of BGA this afternoon! I removed it with my fingers

the eheim aquaball came and i've directed the flow towards that spot

co2 is cranked up - drop checker at furthest point in tank from output showing green / yellow ish

dosed TPN+ yesterday (used weekly dose divided by 7 as intend to dose daily), measure nitrates after lights off tonight and got 20ppm (API kit) so have not dosed tonight - intend to wait until nitrates drop to 10ppm then dose - sound sensible?

thanks again for all the help
 
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