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What type of algae is this??

Discussion in 'Algae Removal' started by Vossy121, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. Vossy121

    Vossy121 New Member

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    IMG_0710.JPG Hi everyone!!

    New to this site and aquariums! I've had my freshwater tropical community tank up and running for about 2-3 months now and I've had one reoccurring problem. This black algae keeps coming up and I have no idea how to get rid of it??
    Any suggestions would be helpful!
    Thanks in advance!!
     

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  2. Byron

    Byron Member

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    That seems to be black brush/beard algae. As you say you are new to all this, I will explain.

    Algae is natural in an aquarium, but we aim to keep it under control. It feeds off the nutrients (from organics primarily), in the presence of light. The brighter the light, or the more organics, or both, the more algae. There are many different species (types) of algae, but this one seems common for many of us. Brush/beard algae has a couple of forms, you have the bushy one. I've dealt with both over the years.

    In tanks without plants, algae is actually not detrimental because it is performing similar functions to plants, namely using the light and nutrients to produce oxygen. It can and should still be controlled--it is clearly out of control in the photo.

    When live plants are present, it is essential to control algae or it will suffocate plant leaves which only makes things worse as the plants die and contribute even more organics.

    We need to know some data. First, the tank lighting--type, specs, and duration it is on each day. Be very specific. Second, tank maintenance--frequency and volume of water changes, substrate vacuuming. Third, fish load, tank size, and feeding (once daily, twice, or whatever). All of these factors impact algae.

    If you have test kits, it would help to know the pH and nitrate in particular, as both can be clues to organics. After 2-3 months the cycling is (or should be) complete, so I will assume ammonia and nitrite are zero.

    Byron.
     
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  3. Vossy121

    Vossy121 New Member

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    Thank you for the identification!!

    1) my tank light is an 18W fluorescent tube, and it may be on up to 8 hours a day
    2) I clean the tank with a gravel vacuum l clean once a week with about 25% water change then every month or so I bring that up to 50%
    3) in my 20 gallon tank I have
    x2 dwarf gourami had three but one went missing??)
    x2 Blue gernan rams
    x4 tetras (2 cardinal and two orange ones?)
    And I feed them once a day!

    Hope this information helped!!
     
  4. Byron

    Byron Member

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    That gets us started, now more questions.

    Can you tell me about the light. I am assuming this is a T8 (as opposed to T5) fluorescent tube, and 18 inches in length, correct? Do you know the Kelvin rating, example 5000K or 6500K or some number with a "K" behind it? And the name of the tube (like Aqueon Full Spectrum, or Aqua-Glo, or whatever)? This data should be at one end of the tube itself, or on the packaging if you still have that. I would have expected 15w for this tube, but 18w is possible, hence the other info. We need to pin down the exact light as that is almost certainly your issue, or a major part of it.

    Are the plants live? They seem to be in the photo, but the algae is pretty heavy. If yes, I assume you are not adding any fertilizers?

    With the above information, we should get this resolved. One thing I will mention now though, is to do a larger volume water change every week. I do 50-60% of each of my 8 tanks once a week, at one time (meaning, not two 25% changes on different days, but one 50-60%). The more water you change, the more organics are reduced. When you vacuum into the substrate, does a lot of detritus come out, clouding the water in the tube?

    Byron.
     
  5. Vossy121

    Vossy121 New Member

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    Hey Bryon, thanks again for replying

    I'm at school atm so I'll check on the light later today

    No the plants aren't live, just plastic
    I don't recall the vacuum tube being that cloudy but I'll clean the tank when I get home and have another look.
    Thanks again
     
  6. Vossy121

    Vossy121 New Member

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    Hello again, I've attached photos of my light. I just clean my tank with about a 60% water change! It is settling now, I will upload a picture later
     

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  7. Vossy121

    Vossy121 New Member

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    Here's the tank all clean!
     

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  8. Byron

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    I tracked down the present light you have, here [this link is the smaller tube, but doesn't matter as the important data is the same]
    https://www.lampreplacements.com.au...PS-LifeMax-TLD-Tube-10w-T8-4100k-(330mm).aspx
    and it is T8, so that is good (T5 would be way too bright and frequently the cause of algae in aquaria).

    The spectrum (colour temperature, the Kelvin) is 4100K which is on the "warm" side but without live plants this is less of an issue. With Kelvin, the colour temperature (nothing to do with heat) of light is "warm" with lower numbers and "cool" with higher. The lower the number the more red and less blue, and the higher the number the more blue and less red. I know it is a bit confusing as this 4100K is termed "cool white" but that is only by comparison with their "warm white" which is even lower K.

    Over aquaria, light around 6000K to 7000K is generally closest to mid-day sun. I see they have such a tube, here:
    https://www.lampreplacements.com.au...PHILIPS-Alto-TL-D-Tube-18w-T8-6500k-(563-2mm)
    When the time comes to replace the present, you might consider this one. It will give a truer rendition of fish and plant colours.

    Speaking of replacement, the tube weakens as it burns, and will normally need replacing long before it actually burns out. This is more crucial with live plants, but still worth doing without plants. I am going to suggest live floating plants next, so I would replace the tube every 12 months. I do this on all my tanks.

    Moving on to the algae issue. As I said previously, algae is normal especially without live plants, but it would be preferable to keep it more in check. There are a few ways to do this. First is with floating plants. I don't know what is available in the fake plant line, but you might try live floating plants. These are easiest to grow because they are close to the light, they can take up CO2 from the air which is easier for the plant, and they will readily take up nutrients from the water. This means the algae is being thwarted by less light and fewer nutrients. The fish will also benefit, as they do not appreciate overhead light and dimming it with floating plants is very natural. Few fish habitats see direct sun, having overhanging terrestrial vegetation or floating plants.

    Reducing the light duration will help, but not as much as adding live floating plants. You can have the light on a timer, and schedule the on/off so it is on when you would normally be home to enjoy the aquarium. Fish don't need much light, and provided the day/night periods are regular each 24 hours, they will be fine. With the other changes, you could stay around 7-8 hours of light.

    Increase the volume of your weekly water change, as I previously mentioned. Half the tank volume will go a long way to reducing organic nutrients feeding the algae. There will still be plenty for floating plants. And clean into the substrate, as you appear to be doing. That is where the organics collect, which is natural, and the many types of bacteria that live in the substrate are important to a healthy aquarium, but without live plants in the substrate there is no need to let these get to excess.

    With this is a regular filter cleaning/rinsing. During the water change, remove both filters and rinse the media. Organics accumulate in the filter obviously, and these can impede water flow as well.

    This should go a long way in keeping this algae at bay.

    Byron.
     
  9. Vossy121

    Vossy121 New Member

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    Hey Byron, thanks for the advice.

    That light is probably due for a change since it has been in there for probably 4 years +

    With the filter I always rinse out the media and scrub all excess algae off with a toothbrush, so cleaning sure isn't the problem haha
    I also add a small filter that I had laying around. Will that reduce the organics?

    Can you suggest any floating plants that are cheap, look good and do the job?

    You advice has been very helpful!! Thanks a lot!!
     
  10. Byron

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    As I think I referenced previously, this is less of an issue without live plants, when the weakening light would not be sufficient for plants and algae would take advantage. But here, so far, the algae is the only "plant" so it will use any light.

    No. Organics accumulate in an aquarium from natural sources. Fish food is excreted, any decaying plant/fish matter, organics in the tap water (you might be surprised how much this can be sometimes), wood, leaves (used as decor), etc. Filters cannot remove these organics per say, only "modify" them. Water changes, cleaning the crud out of the filter(s), cleaning organic matter from the substrate, feeding less, having fewer fish, live plants...these will all reduce organics somewhat. I'm not suggesting you should remove fish, or necessarily feed less, only pointing out the things that do remove organics. Filtration does not, in the same sense. It may break them down, but they are still there. Chemical filtration products like PolyFilter or Purigen cannot remove organics from the system, only "capture" them from the water. Now, some chemical filtration will reduce them by this process, but then the filtration substance itself has to be removed or in some cases it can be cleaned. But the point is that the organics will remain until the aquarist removes them somehow.

    I can't comment on the expense, you're in Australia and I'm in Canada and I've no idea how expensive aquarium plants may be there. But there are several that are good floaters. Water Sprite (Ceratopteris cornuta is the best species for floating) is my favourite. Very similar is Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes). Frogbit, provided it is the true tropical species Limnobium laevigatum (there are two temperate species that usually do not do so well in heated tanks) is also similar in basic design; all three have interesting dangling root masses that fish love to browse through. These three are substantial plants. There are some others that are very small, like duckweed, that is useful but doesn't add much in the way of interest to the aquarium. Slightly larger are the Salvinia species.

    I have all of these I've mentioned, and I would aim for the first three. You will only want one species, as they will spread fairly rapidly (easy to thin out at the water changes as needed). I have Water Sprite in my 90g, with a surface area of 48 by 18 inches (6 square feet), and if I leave it alone, the three or four plants will cover the surface within a couple weeks and be on top of each other.
     
  11. Vossy121

    Vossy121 New Member

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    So is it worth keeping the extra filter?

    Plants are pretty expensive here so I'll have a look when I go to town (I live half an hour out of a big town)
     
  12. Byron

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    Hard to say. When an aquarium is biologically balanced--by which I mean that the fish load is not greater than what the aquarium can be expected to support (fish size, species, numbers)--and if live plants are present, filtration in the sense of the filter equipment is a minor function. If the bioload is being pushed to excess, more filtration (the equipment again) may help, or it may not. There is a common myth in the hobby that somehow more filters benefit; they do not, all else being equal. And they may be detrimental.

    This is a 20 gallon tank, with a low/moderate fish load (they will grow and that impacts more than presently at their relatively small size) so one filter should easily handle things. I don't know the filters, but most manufacturers will recommend the filter for certain sized aquaria, and I would not exceed that. So if one of these filters is rated for "up to 25 gallons" or similar, that filter will do the job, unless something is overloading the system.

    The other thing to consider is water current; the more or larger filters, the more water current. Many fish find this stressful. Remember that fish have to live in the water 24/7, and if they are battling a current this never stops, so they have no respite. And just like us running up a hill compared to walking on level ground, it wears them out. I have plenty of evidence of this in my larger tanks where the filter obviously has to have more power to ensure the tank water is being circulated and passed through the filter. Many of the fish will remain out of the strongest current, even to the extent of swimming in the opposite half of the tank. This clearly tells us that the fish find it easier to "live" this way.

    Byron.
     
  13. Vossy121

    Vossy121 New Member

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    I'll keep it in until I clean it next to see if there is any difference
     

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