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The circle of algae

Nautilus143

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Hi all, my tank has now been running for almost 2 months (set up on 9th February) and I seem to have had nearly every type of algae during this time. I am a total beginner to aquascaping and I'm not quite sure what I'm doing wrong.

My tank is an Oase StyleLine85, which has a volume of 75L. I am using the internal filter (Bioplus Thermo 100) and lights (Highline 125 I think) that it came with. No CO2. I used Tropica aquarium soil powder as substrate and my plants are:
Bacopa caroliniana
Water sprite*
Staurogyne repens
Anubias petite*
Monte carlo

*added about 3 weeks after other plants, which went in at the start

I cycled it using fish food and it took 4.5 weeks to complete the cycle. The tank has now had livestock in it for just over 2 weeks (6 Endlers livebearers and 3 Amano shrimp). I started fertilising the tank using Tropica premium nutrition last week and so far I have just done two pumps per week (three pumps in all). The bottle recommends 5 pumps/week for a 100L tank. I feed my livestock once a day using crushed up flake food. In the first week after adding livestock I did 2 x 25% water changes and last week I did 1 x 15% WC and 1 x 33% water change. My nitrates tend to sit around 30ppm now but during cycling they got as high as 80ppm.

During cycling, my tank suffered horribly from stringy green algae (not hair algae, possibly green filamentous algae?). This is now mostly gone but then I started to get brown diatoms and cyanobacteria. Weirdly, my Endlers ate almost all the diatoms (I'm still fighting off the cyanobacteria). Then today, I noticed green tufts of algae on my glass and on my B. caroliniana. Upon closer inspection it seems to be on the S. repens and my rocks as well. I attached a photo of the B. caroliniana leaves that I cut off the plant. Can anyone please suggest what type of algae it is, and how I may possibly tackle it? The photo isn't great but basically it looks like green BBA. My lighting is already pretty low - I am only leaving it on for 6h total, with both bulbs on for just 2 out of those 6h (my fish seem a bit skittish when both bulbs are on).

Massive thanks in advance :)
 

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John q

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Hi more questions than answers I'm afraid, but it might help in the long run.
Can you post a full tank shot and does the tank get a lot of natural sun light?
 

Nautilus143

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Thanks for your reply John. It's not the best photo in the world (sorry for strange angle) but I've attached a pic. I took this pic on Sunday after my water change. The tank gets zero direct sunlight.

Forgot to mention tank temperature. It fluctuates between 25 and 26C.
 

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John q

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Well your tank looks pretty healthy from that picture, to me at any rate. I'm curious as to where the algae issues are most prominent is it towards the back left of the tank? If so that would suggest that particular area is suffering the most from lack of flow, and by default lack of co2.

I don't run co2 and the only weapons we have to ensure all the plants get enough is reducing the light, maximising what the water can grab out of the atmosphere, and then moving it around the full area of the tank.
From what info I can find about the intensity of your light then maybe? to much of it isn't the issue here. That leaves us with surface agitation and flow, can it be improved? You could possibly raise the height of your filter a bit and if you're using 2 sponge filters and a floss then take the floss out.
Dropping the temperature to 24 ~ 25 might also be helpful.

I would also increase the fertiliser dose to at least what it suggests on the bottle, a little more won't do any harm. I'd also consider getting a fertiliser that includes some phosphate.

You might also consider adding liquid carbon which will help in getting rid of the algae.

It could also be some of this algae is an overhang from the initial cycle, if the substrate was leaching ammonia and you were adding fish food then this could have triggered it.

I'm not an expert in this field so hopefully somebody who knows more than me will chime in and correct me or add more info for you.
 
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Nautilus143

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Thanks so much for your very detailed reply. Weirdly the algae on the B. caroliniana is right at the top, near the filter outlets. Also, it's only on the rocks and S. repens on the right hand side. I can try raising it just in case though. In terms of what's inside the filter, I've never opened it up so I must admit I have no idea! I'll try to find out.

Do you use liquid carbon? If so, is there one you would recommend? I looked into Flourish Excel but I was a bit freaked out by stories of shrimp dying :(
 

John q

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Maybe having not cleaned the filter is contributing to you problems, if its gone through cycling then I'd guess it will be rather dirty. Looking at the parts diagram there appears to be two sponge filters and an option of extra floss. Would definitely be worth having a look and giving them a clean, don't rinse them under the tap, use some old tank water to clean them.
Also might be best to do 1 filter at a time. I.e clean one, wait a week, then clean the other.

It's quite common for BBA to appear in high flow arrears too, like near the pump outlet.

I've used excel and api, they are all the same as in they use glutaraldehyde as the active ingredient, just slightly different strengths.
I think if you start with a small (50%) dose and work up to 150~200% over several days you should be ok. I've never used it more than the recommended dose to be honest and it killed off the BBA, and i only used it for a few weeks. Alternatively you could just spot dose the areas that are affected.

I don't have shrimp but see lots of people that do use excel and keep shrimp. Maybe a shrimp keeper can confirm?
 
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dw1305

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Hi all,
It's not the best photo in the world (sorry for strange angle) but I've attached a pic.
That looks all right. Plant health looks pretty good and your Endler's look happy.
It could also be some of this algae is an overhang from the initial cycle, if the substrate was leaching ammonia and you were adding fish food then this could have triggered it.
During cycling, my tank suffered horribly from stringy green algae (not hair algae, possibly green filamentous algae?). This is now mostly gone but then I started to get brown diatoms and cyanobacteria.
Possibly to do with the fish flakes. You don't actually need to <"have an ammonia source during tank establishment">, you just need to plant fairly heavily and let the plants grow in, yours are grown in enough to keep the fish safe now.

I like a snail to deal with green algae, they aren't too every ones taste, but I'm a <"great Ramshorn fan">. If your plants are growing well you are likely to get Green Algae, purely because they have the same <"basic physiology and photosynthetic pigments">.

I started fertilising the tank using Tropica premium nutrition last week
You'll need a <"fertiliser that supplies nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P)"> as well. Have a look at <"Pale, sickly ......">.

cheers Darrel
 

Nautilus143

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Thanks very much John and Darrel. Good to know that I will not need to bother with flakes if I ever start up a new tank! The whole process was awful and the rotting flakes made the room smell.

My tap water contains at least 20ppm nitrate so I had assumed that nitrate-containing fertiliser isn't necessary. Is that not the case? I was not sure whether increasing nitrate levels further would harm my fish.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
My tap water contains at least 20ppm nitrate so I had assumed that nitrate-containing fertiliser isn't necessary. Is that not the case?
You can get accurate figures from your water supplier for nitrate (NO3), but most people in the S. and E. of England will have elevated levels of nitrate and phosphate from their tap water. Recently one or two people have <"reported lower levels"> possibly because their water supplier is stripping the NO3 out of the water to ensure compliance with the 50 ppm regulatory limit.
I was not sure whether increasing nitrate levels further would harm my fish.
Probably not, we don't actually know at what level NO3 becomes toxic, when it isn't the smoking gun of prior <"high levels of ammonia (NH3) and nitrite (NO2)">.

You can use the plants to both reduce nutrient levels and as an index of how much nitrogen you have. Have a look at <"Scientific background.....">.

cheers Darrel
 

John q

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My tap water contains at least 20ppm nitrate so I had assumed that nitrate-containing fertiliser isn't necessary.
If you can confirm this via your water report then I'd say you probably don't need to in a low tech set up, unless your plants are showing nitrogen related deficiencies.
You can check your water report by finding who your water provider is and then Google "insert water provider name - water report".Then from their site you add a postcode and it should give you the report.

My tap water is low in nitrates ~2ppm, I add 5 to 6 ppm per week via diy mixed ferts and will have a certain amount provided by the fish. I've added up to 10ppm and noticed no difference in plant growth or health, so reduced to the above figure.

I should add a caveat that my fish stocking is far higher than yours.
 

Nautilus143

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Thanks again all. Just checked my water report and found that the average nitrates in my area is 21.4 ppm, which is similar to what I'm reading with my API test kit. It also confirmed that my water is hard. Will keep an eye on my plant health and see how things go.

I did a small water change this evening as I needed to vacuum out some uneaten food and noticed that unfortunately the short green tufts of algae are spreading. I can't remove them from the plants/rocks with my fingers nor a toothbrush. It isn't really visible from a distance but I just want to tackle it whilst it's in an early stage. I've reduced the tank temperature slightly and I will look into getting some liquid carbon. Will keep up with the fertiliser too.
 

Nautilus143

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Well, I had sort of settled on shrimp as my clean up crew, but mine seem lazy. I almost never see them, and when I do, they are eating leftover fish food rather than algae! My concern with snails is that they will breed out of control - are there any that do not breed?
 

Nautilus143

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Managed to get a better pic of my current nemesis this morning.
 

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Nautilus143

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They have their proirities right. Left-over food will cause bigger problems than algae, and it will contribute to the algae prblem.
That is a very fair point, and particularly important given that my Endlers are fussy. I've tried feeding them flake and tubifex, yet they mostly ignore it and prefer nibbling the algae off my plants...
 

John q

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Maybe give them a small amount of brine shrimp once a week and cut down on the flake, you'll have less waste food in the tank and if they're partial to eating algae then they'll help clear that up too.

If the food you put in isn't eaten within a few minutes they are being over fed.
 

Nautilus143

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Maybe give them a small amount of brine shrimp once a week and cut down on the flake, you'll have less waste food in the tank and if they're partial to eating algae then they'll help clear that up too.

If the food you put in isn't eaten within a few minutes they are being over fed.
Will look into the brine shrimp, thank you. I'm a soft touch and assume they're starving hungry to be eating algae, so throw in food that they promptly ignore. Definitely need to avoid this.
 

Nautilus143

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This morning I realised that the flow on my filter was only about 50% of what it should have been. I don't know how this happened but I noticed that the dial was in a weird position, so I turned it and the flow suddenly ramped up. Hopefully this will help with my algae situation - will post update if anything changed.
 

Nautilus143

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Unfortunately I'm still struggling with horrible tufts of green algae all over my tank. I still don't know exactly what it is either, as it doesn't look like any of the types of algae in the guides. I tried using 100% dose of liquid carbon daily but have decided to stop it as it was clearly making my amano shrimp very unhappy :( the algae is on all my plants, rocks, and the glass. My lights are currently on for 7 hours a day and 4h of that is at 50% intensity (1 bulb off). Is the next step to try a blackout? Or maybe I need to implement a fertiliser with macros??
20210414_181100.jpg
 
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