Hello Aquarium lovers! I have learned that you like as many details as possible so here it goes!
I'm starting to notice a bit of an algae issue with my tank. It 10 gallons, is fully cycled (fishless), has 1 Life-Glo 15W full spectrum fluorescent light and I plan on getting a 2nd one tomorrow to replace the old bulb I got with the tank.
I also have 2 FlourishTabs (gravel bed supplement) positioned for maximum coverage and proximity to the plants.
Timer set to give the aquarium 10 hours of light.
I have 2 swords, 2 java ferns, a moss ball, several little java ferns and 1 betta that loves to explore them.
Algae issue: What seems to be either staghorn or thread algae. I clipped the leaves that were the most affected (oddly enough, the one that was the most affected was the one that was in the direct path of the water returning from the filter). I also noticed little white strands about 3mm long appearing everywhere on the aquarium glass. It reappears within a day of being scrubbed away.
Keeping in mind that I am pretty new to this, can somebody please explain to me what I should do to control this outbreak? I'm certain that it has to do with the light/nutrients/plants that I have aren't healthy enough, but with all the reading I've been doing online I'm still a bit lost.
I'd appreciate any help (and patience if I ask many follow up questions)
Poor lights (old) can be an issue or lights on too long (under eight hours); how often do you change your tank water and how large the amount? Is your tap water clear of nitrates, nitrites and/or ammonia? What is the nitrate level or the phosphate level (if you have that kit - few do) of your tank water?
For a 10 gal, root tabs make sense.
White strands can be bacteria (the good type) eating the extra nutrients in the water; algae loves growing at high flow sites - that is how in tank algae scrubbers work - a high flow rate of water is run along a grating that is exposed to an intense, long duration red LED (these devices stop algae cold by sucking up all nutrients from the water.)
Most likely your phosphates are climbing. Do you stir the substrate before changing a large water volume? If not, consider since old waste can build up in the substrate and add phosphates and nitrates really fast even after a VERY large water change.
Last edited by Cermet; 11-06-2012 at 12:40 PM.
i think its your lights on are on too long. i have the exact same thing in my tank and mine stays on for 10+hrs. at first i thought it was moss strands(since i do have moss) but it looked a little different. try putting the timer to 8 hrs or less and see if it helps.
The tank completed its cycle two weeks ago. I did a 90% water change. I was planning on doing a 30% weekly water change (has been done once).
I will try to stir the substrate without bothering the roots of my plants too much.
I will turn my lights down to 8 hours of power.
I will test my tap water for nitrites, nitrates, ammonia (might as well do pH while I am at it). FYI I do treat it with conditioner before I add it to the water.
I will purchase a phosphate tester and test for phosphates. If my phosphates are too high, how do I reduce them? Water changes?
From what I understand, I have to keep the water clean and fresh and try to maximise the health of my current plants and they themselves will outcompete the algae. Obviously they aren't doing too well (plus a possible high phosphate issue) so I'm just trying to figure out what it is..
In stead of stirring the substrate, I would suggest a gravel vac. If there is trapped crud in the substrate by only stirring the gravel it will release it into your water. Even if you follow that with a 80% water change, you are still leaving 20% of the crud in the water which could still have an effect on your water quality.
By completing a gravel vac instead, you will not only be releasing the crud from the substrate (same as by stirring the substrate), but the gravel vac will also suck up this crud and remove it from the tank with the waste water.
That would be a better way to maintain good water parameters and getting rid of the stuff that can build up in the substrate and lead to other problems
Just my $0.02
If you take your time to do the research FIRST, you can successfully set-up and keep ANY type of aquarium with ease.
"Not using a quarantine tank is like playing Russian roulette. Nobody wins the game, some people just get to play longer than others." - Anthony Calfo
Fishless Cycle Cycling with Fish Marine Aquarium Info
A standard vacuuming of the gravel is good to do every week; however, if you have a huge amount of waste and it is deep in the substrate, stiring this mess into the water column and then removing most the water (and maybe do a small water rinse again) is the most effective method to reducing nitrates/phosphates. Of course, the fish need to be rehoused for an hour or so.
If it isn't the gravel/substrate, the fish could be producing waste too fast compared to your water changes; if so, try increasing the volume and/or freq. of the WC or get an algae scrubber.
So here is where I stand:
My tap water is fantastic, no traces of ammonia, nitrIte nor nitrATE.
My nitrATE levels in the tank are great.
I got my phosphates tested and they were extremely high. The lfs tested it for me and the guy laughed and said "Well there's your problem!" as he held up a test tube filled with 5ml of very dark blue tested water.
So I did the following:
- Reduced light time to 8 hours.
- Did an 80% water change using a gravel vac (stirring up the substrate but staying away from the roots of the plants).
- Purchased phosphate filter material, cut it out and installed it behind my filter.
I guess all I can do now is sit and wait. As for other regular algae, I'm going to wait and see what the snail population will be like before I decide to add nerites or assassin snails (missed snail eggs when adding a plant, now I'm seeing a bunch of babies crawling around).
Thanks for the help, I guess I will see how it goes from here!
Phosphates are a big issue in any tank when they get high. This is due to both waste food scraps and fish waste, which are both high in phosphates. What you did will lower them in the tank but they will quickly rise if you do not continue doing the large water changes very often (and vacuum most days.) Reduction of lighting will also help.
An alternative is a standard outside algae scrubber (a bit complex and large) or an in tank unit (very small and simple) but both types are a bit of work to make; an in tank unit is less than a low end canister filter to buy outright but that may be more than you want to spend.
However, an in tank unit completely solved my phosphate issue - still have to do weekly cleanings of the unit (easy - just scrub out the algae) and some water change but if large water changes don't bother you, really no reason not to continue that practice instead of buying a unit.
Best of luck.
Did you mention what types of plants you have? That can make a big difference in terms of health...plants for med/high light probably aren't going to do well in your tank, because you have about 1.5w/gal. Low light plants like java fern, some crypts, java moss, and anubias would probably love your setup, especially if you are fertilizing them with the root tabs/liquids. I bet those plants would thrive and outcompete the algae pretty quickly.
The algae scrubber/phosphate remover still sounds like a good idea. But it *may* be a good idea to look into your plants. I had horrible problems with algae when I had my 20 gallon, and managed to get it under control with the proper plants and water changes (like 2-3x a week).
1 - 55 gallon planted community
3 - 10 to 20 gallon planted betta tanks
My advice: slow down, think, and be willing to learn. Then you'll be fine, no matter what.