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Help With Hair Algae

Discussion in 'Algae Removal' started by don_kihotis, Apr 6, 2016.

  1. don_kihotis

    don_kihotis Member

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    Hi everyone, i have read various things online and saw many tips about this issue.
     
    General info of the tank
     
    I have a tank with 132 litters (without the filter) which converts to 35 gallons. I am injecting CO2 (3 bubbles per second), the substrate is plenty of JBL's Manado and the lights are T5 2x39W tubes. Water temperature is 25C (77F). My PH is 7,5, KH is 5, nitrate levels are zero. Regarding fertilizers i was using Sera Florena and then i stopped since the grass was still not expanding. I also tried JBL's Ferrotabs. Sometimes when i put my fingers in the gravel i still find the melted tabs.The filter (pics 4 and 5) is built in taking across the back of the tank. It's an old school filter which works with the principal of communicative vessels. After trying several filters like external, submersible, a combination etc I found this to be the best filter to achieve crystal clear water and easy to maintain.
     
    The target
     
    My plan was to use Eleocharis grass and grow it as a carpet. After 2 years, no success. I thought that the problem was the LED lights that i used initially. That's why i changed to fluorescent bulbs which have UV rays thus beneficial for plants. I saw some better results with the T5s but it's far from a carpet.
     
    Current Issue
    My biggest problem lately is this algae (see attached pics) which is taking over, covering the grass and other plants. I think it's the so called hair algae. I have searched online and i am doing a 20% water change everyday. I saw no improvement. On the contrary i think it was growing even faster. So i tried turning off the lights but the CO2 is running properly during day time. It's the 3rd day today without lights and i can see that the algae has a smaller mass. For how long should i continue this? How long will my plants last without lights?
     
    Thanks in advance
    Chris

     

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  2. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    I wouldn't go without light any more.  Your plants will start to suffer.  In my experience hair Algae does best in a low nitrogen environment with high phosphates.  With nitrates (and I assume ammonia and nitrite) all reading zero, plants cannot use all the Phosphate in the water.  As a result due to regular fish feeding phosphates will build up every day.  A 20% water change every day is not enough to prevent phosphates from building up.  An additional factor is that high phosphate levels can inhibit or even stop plant growth.
     
    I would get a phosphate test kit and test your tap water.  If the tap water is high in phosphate you will probably need to use a phosphate remover in your filter or switch to cleaner water such as distilled or RO water.   If your tap water is fine a phosphate remover should work or you can add a nitrogen fertilizer to your water.  Since I discovered high phosphates in my water the Hair algae just melted away once phosphate leveled dropped to 100 or less.  Currently I can maintain levels of about 50ppm with about 10ppm of nitrate (Normally without the fertilizer I get ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate) levels of zero.  I only have a tinny amount left in my aquarium in some moss.
     
    The fertilizers you are using are not familiar to me but for now try to cover all the micro / Trace nutrients and N2 with your fertilizer.  For now try avoiding a fertilizer with phosphorous and potassium.  The fish food should have enough phosphorous and potassium for now.  Once you get past the hair algae you may need to add some phosphorous and potassium due to the CO2 system and light levels.
     
  3. don_kihotis

    don_kihotis Member

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    Hi Steven and thanks for the reply. Strangely although i am subscribed to the thread i didn't get any notification for your reply.

    Ok i will get a phosphate test kit to check the water. I don't know much about chemistry and i find ot difficult to understand all these parameters. I have moved the fish to another tank because i want to help the cherry shrimps to breed. So no more food for the moment.
    The tank was running for 2 years without any algae problems. I used to have 40 Amano shrimps and the population reduced to just 15. I caanot find them locally anymore and they don't breed in captivity so i decided to transfer them to another tank and try with cherries. Is it possible that the algae appeared because there were not many shrimps to clean the plants?
     
  4. don_kihotis

    don_kihotis Member

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    Ok i have done the test and Phosphate reads 0.05mg/L. That's cool right?
    The test kit ranges from 0 - 3.0mg/L so mine is pretty low.
     
  5. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I think your lighting is the issue here.  All problem algae is due solely to an imbalance in the light/nutrients.  This has many factors.  Your lack of success with LED was because that lighting was insufficient for high-light requirement plants.  But you then went to the opposite extreme with lighting that I believe is too intense.  I would suggest that you are not supplementing nutrients sufficiently to balance the light intensity, but before you go down another road which might only make things worse, I would serious look at reducing the lighting intensity.  The fact that you saw some improvement with no lighting suggests that is in fact the issue, though you obviously need some light for the plants.  It just needs to be less intense.
     
    Floating plants would also help, and certainly be well appreciated by the fish in the photos which do not appreciate high lighting.  But I am not certain if this alone would reduce the light intensity sufficiently, but it might be worth trying before considering different lighting..
     
    Byron.
     
  6. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    o.o5? Are you sure?  0.5 sounds more likely.  Anything below 0.5 is good.  I haven't seen a test kit in the US that goes down that low.  I have only just presently seen levels of just under 0.1 (and my plants didn't appear to be doing well but no algae.  I am aiming for 10 to 30mg/l which is apparently a typical range for a river in the south america (i have tetras in my aquarium).
     
    How long are your lights on?  Most people only run them about 6 to 10 hours a day. Algae grows repidly with the lights one but it cannot store energy like regular plants.   So at night it should die back if the night or dark period is long enough.  
     
    Could you post a picture of your fertilizer label or list the ingredients.  As I said earlier I am not familiar with Sera Florena.  I did however have and unfortunate experience with one fertilizer in the past that was missing one nutrient.  That nutrient was copper and that may have triggered my my past algae issue.
     
  7. don_kihotis

    don_kihotis Member

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    Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to reply and post your thoughts.
    Yes my tab water reads 0.05mg/L. I did test the aquarium water now as well and that one reads 0.1mg/L.
    My lights used to be on for 12 hours and recently reduced them to 10. I don't think that the problem relies on the lights since i have converted from LED to T5 fluorescent lamps last summer and still had no issue with algae. I do believe that the issue has to do with algae cleaners in the tank and/or with the fertiliser.
    I have never used macro fertiliser only micro. Here is a link to sera florena:https://www.sera.de/en/products/in_category/universal-fertilizer-369/product/sera-florena.html
    I have stopped that as well some time ago coz i couldn't see any results with the Eleocharis. The taller plants were doing fine on the contrary and i had to trim them down every week.
    Now why do i think that the problem is related to the algae cleaners. When the population of Amano was 40 all the plants including Eleocharis were clean and i had zero algae. When they reduced to 20 and then 15 i noticed algae on the plants. The shrimps had as a favorite spot the area where the 2 big rocks were located and those were crystal clear. After removing all the Amano and introduced 25 cherries which are significantly smaller than the Amano the rocks also started being covered with algae. So that must have something to do with it.
    If i start fertilizibg with micro again will that help or algae will get stronger?
     
  8. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    40 Amano shrimp could explain the problem but I am also concerned about why the Eleocharis didn't do well.  Now that plant may have died due to insufficient light or there is a deficiency in the water that killed it.   Do you know GH (water Hardness) of your tap water?  If it is soft there i the chance that it does not contain some minerals your plants need.  Since Cyprus is an island I would assume your water is primarily from rain.  But if that is insufficient they might use distilled water or RO water to meet demand.  From my own experience RO water must be fertilized or plants will die.
     
    Now in theory the Sera fertilizer should have prevented that if it is a complete fertilizer.  Thank for providing the link to the product but that didn't answer the question.  I went on line and found that the vendor would not answer the question when other asked claiming it is a secret.  Not encouraging.  Your other plants that are doing well might be more tolerant to the current nutrient levels or might betill benefiting from the JBL tabs you used.  
     
    The fertilizer I use is Seachem Comprehensive which contains magnesium, calcium, iron, copper,zinc, sulfer, boron, chlorine, cobalt.manganese, molybdenum, and sodium.  If you have all of those you plants should not suffer nutrient deficiencies.  However before I tried Seachem I was using a competing product that didn't have copper.  That copper free product combined with RO water I used didn't work well.  Since we don't know what is in your current fertilizer I would suggest trying a different brand.  
     
    So basically I am thinking your plants are barely getting enough micro nutrients to grow and as a result Algae is consuming most of the nutrients in the water.  The shrimp probably help to hid the problem for a time.  
     
    Note I have shrimp and snails in my aquarium and the copper in Seachem is not harming them. However I don't know if Seachem is available in Cyprus.
     
  9. don_kihotis

    don_kihotis Member

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    Hi Steven,
     
    no the Eleocharis didn't die. It's still there under the mass of algae. Check the 1st attached photo below.
     
    Yes i know Seachem brand. In fact that's the brand i used yesterday to test the Phosphate.
     
    The water here is kept in dams but because we have mainly a hot climate we also use sea water to cover the population's needs by desalination.
     
    Is this the one you are using? http://www.seachem.com/flourish.php
     
    So if i start using this fertilizer will it help the plants and algae will not grow larger as well?
     

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  10. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    Hopefully the plant growth will grow faster than the algae growth.  That combined with manual removal of the algae plus the reduced light on time should help.  I cannot say that it will definitely work but at least with the Seachem you will know what you are putting in the water.  With Sera we don't know.  Yes the link you provided is for the Flourish I use.    At present all plants i have tried with it have grown although some tend to do better with a dose a little bit lower than Seachem recommends.  I haven't tried Eleocharis so I don't know about that one. 
     
     
     
    That was my guess so a trace mineral deficiency is definitely a posibility.  
     
  11. don_kihotis

    don_kihotis Member

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    Ok i have found the fertiliser you have recommended. Shall i continue the daily 20% of water change? Wouldn't the fertiliser gone wasted if i change the water ?
     

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  12. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    You don't have to continue the daily water changes.  Once a week should be fine.  
     
  13. don_kihotis

    don_kihotis Member

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    Glad to hear that. Daily water changes at 18:00 after work is not the best thing [​IMG]
     
  14. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    I agree.  While you do that check phosphates.  If everything works like I think it will your phosphate levels might start rising.  If it gets above 50ppm increase the amount of water cycled to compensate.  Let me know how it goes.
     
  15. don_kihotis

    don_kihotis Member

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    Ok Steven i'll check phosphates again today.
     
    After adding the fertilizer i noticed that the plants got a boost but algae got it too.
     
     
     
     

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