My square descent into madness...

LordMomo

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14 Oct 2020
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Hi all,

So thought i'd start up a journal thread which will help me to get some answers on some issue sim experiencing, more on that later.

So the tank itself is a Aqua One 55L cube (40 x 40 x 40) this is the version that does not have the internal filter compartment.
Filter is an eheim classic 250 using the spray bar. Inlet is back left and spray bar is along back wall projecting forward towards the front and pointing upwards as get to get surface movement.

Lighting is the Nicrew SkyLED plus

NO CO2

So initially when the tank was setup and scaped, plant wise, I only had some amazon swords and some dwarf hair grass and some what im assuming is rotala of some kind, I didn't really pay attention too much at the beginning in which i do regret now.
Picture of original tank at setup :

IMG_3936.jpg

IMG_3957.jpg

The tank was left to cycle and i eventually got there with the help of some of you and mostly calming my worries in another thread.

Since then I have purchased and added some HYGROPHILA DIFFORMIS WATER WISTERIA, Elodea Densa and Rotala Rotundifolia indica. Removed the sword on the left as it was massive and i felt it blocked the view and flow somewhat.

Stock wise, I gradually added ember tetras, galaxy rasboras and some 6 cherry shrimp (not all at once, this was over a few weeks)

Now this is where my issues/concerns have started......

I initially had some brown algae/diatoms which i started to try sort via 30-50% weekly water changes and wiping glass, leaves etc. However things have appeared to have gotten worse. I should add that I began dosing with Tropica Specialised and also got some surface plants to try help with the algae, and also started using liquid CO2

Tank as it stands today, notice the nasty brown algae on the rocks, the brown hairgrass and general brown tinge. I've also noticed some staghorn on some sword leaves which I simply snipped away but have since found more, and also noticing some long hair like algae.

IMG_4143.jpg

Tropica is use every 2 to 3 days and carbon daily as per recommended dosage on bottle.
I've also as of 4 days ago added a bristle nose plec and 2 nirite snails, yesterday I got 10 yellow shrimp from Steve Buce here on UKAPS.

I also have a film on the surface of the water which despite have surface agitation...doesn't go away.

I have reduced the lighting from 10 hours down to 7 hours as of yesterday/last night to try combat the algae.

I feel somewhat disheartened by the way the tank has declined despite my best efforts to it good, and I have read countless forums now on algae and how to combat, sometimes they can leave more questions than answers and i feel i just need a practical , idiots guide/advice on what to do to try combat this. I do realise a lot of the plants need some pruning as they are reaching the top of the tank now.

Anyways, that my descent into madness in a nutshell. I dont want to throw any more money at the tank in terms of CO2 solution and all the kit involved. I also understand a larger tank is more stable etc

Thanks for looking and look forward to reading your advice/comment/commiserations :)
 

LordMomo

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14 Oct 2020
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Hertfordshire
Oh i should add that the LED in the first pic when the tank was setup was the original nicrew LED, it was since changed to the full spectrum LEDSky plus.
 

mort

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15 Nov 2015
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Hi, I'm far from an expert but I will say that most tanks go through this stage so don't be too disheartened. How long has the tank been setup?

I think with your algae eating crew you should hopefully begin to win the battle soon but I think a 10 hour photoperiod may been the biggest reason for this initial algae. I personally only run my tanks with a 6 hour photoperiod but you can do more it's just better to build upto it, so dropping to 7 hours, again will hopefully help.

It sounds like you have made sensible efforts to combat the problem and I believe a little patience is all you probably need now. You will reach a sweets pot where the plants take off and begin out competing the algae soon.
 

Wolf6

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18 Dec 2014
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The lowering of the light duration seems like a smart first move, I use 6 hours per day on my starting tanks. How long has the tank been running? You can use a toothbrush to remove algae from the stones. Liquid CO2 doesnt fully replace actual CO2, but other people on this forum can explain why much better. Your hairgrass hasnt really grown since planting, perhaps your light isnt strong enough to reach the bottom? I'd see what the shortening of the light duration does first, and if anything you could try dosing 'real' CO2, or if you want to stay low tech, perhaps replace the grass with something like dwarf sag? Either way for a starting tank things really dont look too bad. :)
 

LordMomo

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How long has the tank been setup?

I think with your algae eating crew you should hopefully begin to win the battle soon but I think a 10 hour photoperiod may been the biggest reason for this initial algae. I personally only run my tanks with a 6 hour photoperiod but you can do more it's just better to build upto it, so dropping to 7 hours, again will hopefully help.
@mort - Tank is about 2 months old, little older if you take cycle into equation too. I know that almost all tank get diatoms, so i wasn't too fussed, but i started seeing other types of algae and the battle began.
I'm reluctant to get amano shrimps due to their size, i think they will look out of place.
Your hairgrass hasnt really grown since planting, perhaps your light isnt strong enough to reach the bottom? I'd see what the shortening of the light duration does first, and if anything you could try dosing 'real' CO2, or if you want to stay low tech, perhaps replace the grass with something like dwarf sag? Either way for a starting tank things really dont look too bad. :)
@Wolf6 - I did wonder the same, i have floating plants which do block some light, although I have now thinned this out. I'll drop the lights lower and see if that helps too, but wont brighter light also mean more algae or is it more duration specific?
Also thanks for the heads up on the other dwarf sag. If this lot fails, i'll def be looking at another type of carpet and may even just use moss in a metal cage to make the carpet.

Yesterday i did a trim and slight change of plant layout, also removed 1 piece of wood at the back left which i felt was blocking the flow somewhat, left the other. Just general tidy up. So will see how it goes now over the next few days/week.

unnamed.jpg
 

mort

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Lower energy tanks can take quite some time to really mature and get going and I think you are just in this initial settling in phase. I do believe that alot of the algae is from your long 10 photoperiod and with reducing it you will hopefully see alot of the algae disappear over the next couple of months.
It can be hard to get enough of the right plants in these setups, or find a balance, and although you have a good amount of plants some have been slow to take off and grow in. Once these do, or like wolf suggests and are swapped for possibly faster growing species, you should see the algae fade. Your at the balancing/waiting game stage and I'd suggest keeping the floating plants to help reduce the nutrients while your other plants root in, removing some of the floaters as the other plants really take off.
 

LordMomo

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Thanks for the confidence boost. I'll continue to plod along and see how things develop.

In terms of nutrients etc, should I still be using ferts etc during this period?
 

Siege

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lowering the light duration will have a good impact.

You donot mention temperature - 23 degrees is good.

The mini Hairgrass will need co2. Without this it’ll gradually decline. Instead you may wish to try a carpet plant that is classified green by Tropica, there are a few. Crypt Pygmea is another good one.

Doing large water changes will help - 80%. If doing a large amount of maintenance even 2 or 3 of these on the trot.

Hope that helps.

ps. Your bristlenose is far too big a fish for a 55L tank I’m afraid. So you may wish to look at rehoming him.......
Fish aren’t generally great at being a clean up crew, especially large catfish, what’s goes in comes out.......
Have a look at Ottocinclis instead, super small and cute. Could have a nice little group!
 
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LordMomo

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I would yes but perhaps you could reduce the amount.
Can you offer a bit of guidance? Im a total n00b when it comes to ferts.
Currently have tropica nutrition (green bottle) the yellow one is arriving today.
Also have a bottle of seachem flourish (not excel)
Liquid co2

You donot mention temperature - 23 degrees is good.

The mini Hairgrass will need co2. Without this it’ll gradually decline. Instead you may wish to try a carpet plant that is classified green by Tropica, there are a few. Crypt Pygmea is another good one.

Doing large water changes will help - 80%. If doing a large amount of maintenance even 2 or 3 of these on the trot.

Hope that helps.

ps. Your bristlenose is far too big a fish for a 55L tank I’m afraid. So you may wish to look at rehoming him.......
Fish aren’t generally great at being a clean up crew, especially large catfish, what’s goes in comes out.......
Have a look at Ottocinclis instead, super small and cute. Could have a nice little group!
Thanks for this, temp is a good constant 23 degrees, so that's good!

The bristle nose is still a baby, current size i'd estimate to be around 3 maybe 4 centimetres so it's OK for the time being, i am aware they grow huge and messy, but i do love a plec! HAHA! I plan on passing him along once he gets larger. Thanks for the heads up on the Otto, have read up on them, but was concerned about overstocking as they need to be in groups.

Hi all,

I wish <"Ancistrus claro"> was more often available. There are a few smaller Ancistrus spp., but obtaining any of them isn't easy.

cheers Darrel
They are nice, 2.6" average sizing is decent too!
 

mort

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With regards to fertilisers, it may be better to just keep on adding the recommended amounts for now and simply up the water changes as siege advises above. I say this as only changing one variable at a time is a better way to see how things work. Having excess nutrients in a mature tank doesn't cause as many, if any problems, so this is still a tank maturity signal.
If you do change your fertiliser amounts then it's a good idea to follow the duckweed index (lots of information on this on the forum) which basically means you look at the health of your floating plants to see if you are nutrient deficient.

Ramshorn snails are also a great idea. They are nice and interesting and do a really good job.
 

jaypeecee

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I should add that I began dosing with Tropica Specialised...
Hi @LordMomo

Please be aware that Tropica Specialised fertilizer contains nitrogen and phosphorus. So, two things come to mind:

1 Tropica, not surprisingly, state "However note that if algae growth starts, Specialised Nutrition will promote this growth. Specialised Nutrition contains nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Dosage must therefore be adapted to plant absorption rates, to avoid undesirable algae growth. Where signs of algae growth develop, reduce the dosage by 50% and increase water changing frequency by 50%. Changing the water not only reduces the concentration of nutrients in the water, but also removes algae spores, remnants and other accumulated elements from the aquarium water."

2 If I remember rightly, Tropica Specialised contains ammonium in the form of urea. Ammonium even at very low levels can be toxic to fish. Are all your fish OK?

JPC
 

jaypeecee

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Hi @LordMomo

What is your substrate material/product name? I ask because I don't think you've stated it above and some substrate formulations are known to leach ammonium/ammonia, etc.

JPC
 

LordMomo

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Hi @LordMomo

Please be aware that Tropica Specialised fertilizer contains nitrogen and phosphorus. So, two things come to mind:

1 Tropica, not surprisingly, state "However note that if algae growth starts, Specialised Nutrition will promote this growth. Specialised Nutrition contains nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Dosage must therefore be adapted to plant absorption rates, to avoid undesirable algae growth. Where signs of algae growth develop, reduce the dosage by 50% and increase water changing frequency by 50%. Changing the water not only reduces the concentration of nutrients in the water, but also removes algae spores, remnants and other accumulated elements from the aquarium water."

2 If I remember rightly, Tropica Specialised contains ammonium in the form of urea. Ammonium even at very low levels can be toxic to fish. Are all your fish OK?

JPC
All fish are A-OK, living their best life it seems. Shrimp are also 100% had my first batch of shrimplets appear now and i can see a few more have berried up!

Hi @LordMomo

What is your substrate material/product name? I ask because I don't think you've stated it above and some substrate formulations are known to leach ammonium/ammonia, etc.

JPC
Substrate is Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum ontop of JBL Proscape volcano minerals.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Tropica Specialised contains ammonium in the form of urea. Ammonium even at very low levels can be toxic to fish.
The reason you don't tend to end up with issues is that these are <"pretty dilute to start with">. We have a thread <"Dosing with ammonia & ...">.

If you used a dry salts mix (<"like "Miracle-Gro">), or urea prills, you would have to be a lot more careful. If you used an ammonium containing salt, like ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3), then you have even less wriggle room and "accidents" are much more likely.
Tropica says "However note that if algae growth starts, Specialised Nutrition will promote this growth. Specialised Nutrition contains nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P)....."
I'd be worried if that wasn't true, in some ways it is just a statement of the obvious. It is back to <"Liebig's law of the minimum"> and the "plants you want = plants" and <"the plants you don't want = algae">, the problem for us is <"they are all plants">.

If you produce conditions suitable for the growth of photosynthetic organisms <"they will grow">.

cheers Darrel
 
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jaypeecee

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