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Thread: Staghorn Algae on Plants
05-31-2013, 02:35 AM #1
Staghorn Algae on Plants
I have what I believe to be staghorn algae on some of my plants. I'd like to post a picture, but I won't be able to transfer the pictures from my phone to my computer until tomorrow night, so assume that it [I]is[I] staghorn algae. It's black and it doesn't look dense enough to be brush algae, so staghorn is the only other black algae that I've found. It only grows on this one type of plant (unfortunately, I don't know what it is) and my otos don't eat it. It's directly under the light source, I have no ammonia or nitrites, and nitrates don't go above 20ppm (I haven't been able to keep the water as clean in the last two months because I had exams all throughought. I don't have many plants, so I don't put anything in my water except for a Flourish root tab near this cluster of plants with the algae on them. Is there a fish that eats this type of algae and/or is there anything I can do to manage it so I don't have to clean it off manually?
This is a picture I found online of the algae (though mine is more in the centre of the leaves). The plant is also the same. Can anyone idenfy it?
My decommissioned 37gal freshwater community tank journal: http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aqua...d.php?t=116054
My current 37gal FOWLR tank journal: http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aqua...42#post1214342
05-31-2013, 05:08 AM #2
06-04-2013, 10:12 AM #3
Agree with Tallduchie. Be careful using liquid CO2 - many Vail's cannot tolerate that chemical.
If you are interested, a phosphate kit (a little pricey) can determine if your phosphates are high - phosphates tend to be high in most aquariums and can feed algae; if so, a near 100% water change and heavy stirring of the subsrtate can reduce the levels; then, careful vacuuming of the substrate after feeding(s).
The plants should also help keep any remaining phosphates in check.
If phosphates are not an issue, then lighting - spectrum, temperature or duration - may be the real issue.
06-04-2013, 01:43 PM #4
It's not as simple as that I'm afraid. Having plants and little to no algae is about having your plants outcompeting the algae. Depending on the rest removing a lot of water and a deep clean could just as easily cause an algae boom. There's some good reading out there for the scientifically inclined.
While we're throwing in variables, how about circulation? These algae often pop up in areas of poor circulation, I know they do in my tank.
06-06-2013, 10:21 AM #5
A little lost on your statement that cleaning a tank - massive water change after a substrate cleaning can help cause algae - while stirring substrate will release nutrients (and in a really dirty tank, a vast amount) if the tank water is nearly completely removed/replaced afterward, can't see how that would leave behind enough nutrients to cause issues when done correctly.
Lighting is a real issue for many people since bulbs/tubes are often old or the wrong color/temp so that can cause algae.
You are correct that other issues can cause algae - for instance, not having balanced nutrient levels (proper nutrient ratio's) can be an issue and often is for planted tanks; however, most low light plants can do very well without extra feeding. Phosphates are Always an issue (buildup) except for tanks that have massive water changes on a regular bases (but as you point out, that alone is not always the source of the algae problem.)
If filtering is so poor (too little) that circulation is a problem, that alone will cause issues but the pictures show a fairly clean tank. Still, nitrate levels would be a good thing for them to check.
06-06-2013, 12:27 PM #6
This is turning in quite an interesting discussion
As to circulation, even in a well filtered tank this can be a problem. Looking at my own tank, the choice for a bit and planted piece of wood leaves an area with relatively little flow on the part of it that's not facing the spraybar. It is in that area that my hatchets hang out the most but that's also where most of the algae grows.
Nutrients, as we all know plants need macro nutrients in (relatively) big amounts. NPK or Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. Popular aquarium plants also like a bit of calcium and iron and quite a few trace elements.
Now, let's say you do a big clean, get out a lot of muck and do a big water change. You're going to lose a big chunk of nitrogen, probably a lot of phosporous and some of the potassium. You then add fresh water containing some of these in vastly different amounts. Suppose the water is relatively high in nitrates but very low in phosphorous. Your plants will not have much phosphorous but there will be nitrates in already. So plant growth is slow but algae are less picky. Good chance you get a diatome explosion within 10 days I'd say.
In my opinion a soft reset by doing a major clean is a possibility but I'd certainly follow that up with a daily dose of a good general fertilizer and a dash of liquid carbon.
06-07-2013, 09:03 AM #7
[QUOTE=talldutchie;1157941]Now, let's say you do a big clean, get out a lot of muck and do a big water change. You're going to lose a big chunk of nitrogen, probably a lot of phosporous and some of the potassium. You then add fresh water containing some of these in vastly different amounts. ... So plant growth is slow but algae are less picky. /QUOTE]
Agree with your points and especially this part of your post.
Still, the first order of business for anyone with algae growth is being sure the nitrates and/or phosphates (Phosphates are almost always an issue for most tanks - even ones with good weekly water changes) are not very high - this is common in many aquariums when algae starts. The best approach is large water changes (for nitrate reduction) and substrate cleaning combined with a very large water change for net phosphate reduction.
Then balancing nutrients in the tank, as you pointed out, is important - of course, few have that ability (to measure these directly) so guessing by adding measured amounts weekly/bi-weekly is the most common approach and this requires good sized weekly water changes to help prevent buildups of both the common fish waste nutrients (nitrates/phosphates) but to aid in removing extra micro-nutrients that have been added (like Iron, K, Mg, S, and possibly Ca) by way of tabs/liquid ferts.
Of course, if the lights duration/intensity is wrong/weak and/or the color/temp of the lights are wrong then algae will grow regardless of careful/proper nutrient levels.
Last edited by Cermet; 06-07-2013 at 09:05 AM.
06-07-2013, 10:39 AM #8