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Green Hair Algae

Discussion in 'Algae Removal' started by LyraGuppi, May 12, 2016.

  1. LyraGuppi

    LyraGuppi Member

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    I've been noticing some very long green hair algae growing on the walls of my aquarium, and would like to sort it out before my mother decides to trash the tank altogether. (She's getting quite fed up with algae explosions choking out her plants) I can't get a picture as I pulled as much of it as I could off. 
    I've heard it's related to poor CO2 levels. I don't dose CO2, nor do I have any fish in there yet as it's cycling. The cycle is coming to a close, though, so I should be able to out fish in very soon. Should I dose liquid CO2, or just wait and see how it does with a full stocking?
     
    Plants are various types of Anubias, Ocelot and Amazon Swords, various types of Crypts, Vallis, floating Water Sprite and Frogbit.
    The light at the moment is one 150W half spiral lamp (6400K, 5600 lumens), but as soon as we finish the fixture there will be two of them. The tank is 24 inches deep.
    I'm dosing Osmocote root tabs every three months. (one on each end of the tank, it's 4 feet long)
    Sorry if that's wayyy too much information, I'm very new to proper planted tanks. Thank you [​IMG]
     
  2. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    In my take hair algae was mainly caused by high phosphates.  Lighting levels and water areration had no effect until I got the phosphate levels down to 50ppm  (it was over 1000ppm).  Once I go tthe levels down I could see some effect from light levels but it wasn't much.  The only way to confirm you have high phosphates is to use a phosphate test kit.  
     
  3. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Problem algae is a matter of balance: light (intensity and duration both figure in) and nutrients (natural, added as in fertilizers).  Nothing else.  StevenF's case of phosphates is a balance issue, as is CO2.  It is not the CO2 itself, but the fact that it is not balanced, either way.
     
    From your data, I am assuming this is likely a 90g aquarium.  Your light seems to be very bright, and two will be even more, but I'd like to know more about it before going much further.
     
    Osmocote tabs can cause algae too, because these are intended for terrestrial plants which have a different nutrient requirement.  These may be part of the balance issue.  Not having any fish does lessen the natural nutrients, especially CO2 and ammonium, but this is usually not too significant, though again it is part of the overall balance and with the light and osmocote could be part of the issue.
     
    You mention liquid CO2...don't.  If you are thinking of Excel or CO2 Booster, both are glutaraldehyde (and water), a highly toxic disinfectant.  Your Vallisneria will almost certainly be killed outright, and this chemical is not going to be appreciated by the fish.
     
    With more data on the light, I might be able to pin this down more.
     
    Byron.
     
  4. LyraGuppi

    LyraGuppi Member

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    Okay, CO2 is out of the picture. The light is on for maybe 12 hours a day, which is a lot, but it will be lowered to 9 or 10 once I get the fixture wired in. Should be today if everything goes well. The fixture will be able to raise off the tank, I could try not having the lights so close to the water surface.
    I'll stop dosing the Osmocote and see how it goes.
    I'm wondering if the lights are the problem, since the algae seems to grow in the brightest areas. I'm not sure there is more information I can give you on the lighting, but I can take pictures if need be.
     
    Specific water testing kits like phosphates are a little hard to come by, but I'll see if I can source one. 
     
  5. Byron

    Byron Member

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    You might find phosphates listed in the water data of your municipal water authority.  You add phosphates via fish food, and in some plant fertilizers (they may be in the Osmocote, not sure), but unless you have phosphates in your source water, they are not likely to be an issue.
     
    If the Osmocote is the only fertilizer being used, it is limited.  I don't know how much it disperses into the aquarium water, but I suspect it does.  Substrate tabs like the Flourish Tabs do not do this.  A comprehensive liquid fertilizer would probably be a better supplementation,in the absence of diffused CO2.
     
    I'd still like to know more about this light.
     
  6. LyraGuppi

    LyraGuppi Member

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    We have well water that goes through a filter, I'll see if I can test that soon. The Osmocote says "9% Available Phosphate", I'll look into other ferts. I'd heard of Osmocote Plus being okay in aquariums, but I may just have excessive amounts of phosphates in my well water. What would you like to know about the light?
     
    Also, thank you for tolerating my new-ness to all of this. 
     
  7. Byron

    Byron Member

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    That's a lot of phosphate in the Osmocote.  I understand some planted tank aquarists use these in the substrate, and in certain situations they may work (or seem to).  But I do not recommend them simply because the proportion of nutrients is intended for terrestrial plants and this differs from the needs of aquatic plants (phosphates and nitrates being two) so right off you are upsetting the balance and the risk of issues with algae elevates accordingly.
     
    If you are not using other plant additives, I would look at a comprehensive liquid supplement such as Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement or Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti.  [Make sure you get exactly these, as both manufacturers make several different supplements under these names Flourish and Florin.]  A complete liquid will help all plants, as all aquatic plants take up nutrients from the water column, whether via roots in the water or the substrate (water gets there), or via leaves in the water.  In addition, plants like large swords benefit from substrate tabs, and if you go to these the Flourish Tabs are good.  [The API tabs have issues according to many who have tried them.]
     
    To the light.  The high wattage plus the high Lumens suggests bright light.  Now, having said that, and repeating what I have often written, watts itself is not an accurate measure of intensity, and from my understanding neither is lumens alone.  However, we may be able to pin this down with more data on the light.  Can you post a link to the manufacturer's data, or similar?  A photo might tell us something too.  I've no idea what a half spiral bulb is.
     
    The algae appearing closest to the light is obviously suggestive, but at the same time if we get the nutrients under control, this might not be an issue.  But I am suspecting it is.
     
    Byron.
     
  8. LyraGuppi

    LyraGuppi Member

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  9. Byron

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    The problem with aquarium lighting these days is the incredible variety of what's available.  When I started in this hobby, as a child, all we had were ordinary incandescent bulbs.  Then along came fluorescent tube, and for many years these were the basic T12 (now T8) so comparing watts made sense because all the tubes were the same, more or less; the often cited watts per litre or per gallon "guide" had some relevance with only T8, but is meaningless today.  And even among T8, there is a wide variety.  I have stayed with T8 up to the present, plus my foray into CFL bulbs over my 10g and 20g tanks.  I generally understand these quite well, as I have tried many different T8 tubes.  I've never bothered over lumens, lux, or PAR as I know what this or that tube in T8 will do, and whether or not it will work with these or those plants.
     
    Back to your situation, I would suggest getting the nutrients in order (as you are intending, good idea).  Once this is set, and fish are in, the duration of the light can be adjusted down (you can go down to six hours with no issues), and the result monitored over a couple weeks.  The CFL bulbs are similar to the 9w ones I use over my small tanks, but frankly I've no idea what sort of output these 150w really have over the aquarium.
     
    Clean out any algae you find when you see it, during the water change.  Remember too that in new tanks as here, algae is bound to be an issue for the first couple of months, as the biological system is still settling.  And another point, when making changes once you have got to your intended routine, make them slowly with time to assess the results.  For example, if you decide to add a second fertilizer in addition to the Comp, such as the Flourish Trace, do this the same for each week, and monitor plant response, or algae response.  But if you added Trace, and increased Comp, and changed the light--all these changes are impacting the system a lot and fine tuning becomes next to impossible.  Sometimes algae in particular is only due to one little thing.
     
    Byron.
     
  10. LyraGuppi

    LyraGuppi Member

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    Thank you! 
     
  11. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    For lighting use lumens per squar inch.The bulb you  linked to eariler list 5800 lumns.  Multiply that by the number of bulbs you have in the aquarium hood to get the otal number of lumen.    then  multiply the length and with of your tank together to get the surface area of your tank in squar inches.  The take your lamp brightness and dvide it by your suface area.  That will give you Lumen per quar inch (LSI).   Generally:
    Low light is 12 - 17LSI
    Medium light is 20 -25 LSI
    high is 28-32 LSI
    http://fotohobbist.com/blog/aquarium-lighting-for-planted-aquariums/#more-136
     
     
    When I had high phosphates I was using RO water.  I tested the water and confirmed it had no phosphate.  it also hasno nitrate.   Yet I had high phosphates.  I eventuallly figured out that my plants were absorbing all the nitrate my lightly stocked tank was producing.  As a result they didn't have enough to use up all the phosphate in ghd water.  With frequent testing I could see that my phosphates were rising daily.  Where was it coming from?  Fish food.  It was the only thing being added to the tank on a daily basis.  I now use nitrogen fertilizer to keep my phosphate levels under control.  
     
    so low phosphate levels in tap water does not mean anything.  You still need to check the levels  in the aquarium. Using Osmocote is bad since you have no way of knowing how much it is releasing into the water or how fast.  If you need phosphate fertilizer us Seachem Phosphate.  using the information on the label you can adjust the dose to achieve a specific phosphate target  and there is no delay in it taking effect.  Osmocote is designed to release phosphate in to soil gradually.  However in the water saturated aquarium it may release if very quickly or it may start out releasing it slowly and then suddenly release the rest.
     
  12. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Steven has given us the explanations, thanks.  My only comment on the phosphate is not to dose Flourish Phosphate on its own.  This may be necessary in high-tech systems with mega light, diffused CO2 and high nutrient supplementation, but not in a natural or low tech system.  All the phosphate you need will be in the fish food (once fish are present obviously), plus there is phosphate in Flourish Comprehensive.  But together, this is certainly sufficient here (LyraGuppi).
     
    Byron.
     
  13. LyraGuppi

    LyraGuppi Member

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    Thanks again guys. c: Also, thank you for the lighting calculator, Steven. 
     
  14. LyraGuppi

    LyraGuppi Member

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    Sorry to revive this thread, but I don't think I can get the root tabs out. They aren't where I left them, I think they dissolved. Should I wait for them to become inactive and deal with the algae in the mean time?
     
  15. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Do a partial water change, and dig the changer into the substrate where you remember putting the tabs.  In other words,do a thorough substrate vacuum.  Go into the substrate vertically, lift out, then move over and in vertically; as opposed to moving through the substrate, if you follow me  If they have dissolved completely, presumably the nutrients are in the water column, or were; obviously every water change will remove some, diluting them.
     
    Byron.
     

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