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Algae? Diatoms? Thoughts?

Scarlett123

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Sorry about the cloudiness- tried polishing pads- Seachem pristine- cleaning filters in tank water- frequent gravel vacuums- Tetra water clarifier, etc. all to no avail.
The brown stuff on the rocks does not rub off. I have a pretty heavily planted tank. I thought it was brown algae until I reThank you in advance!
 

PheonixKingZ

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What are your water parameters and how many hours a day do you leave your tank light on for? Also, do you have any floating plants?
 

Byron

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Welcome to TFF.

Yes, we will need more data, on the light (type, wattage, spectrum, duration), fish load, plants, etc. We may be able to solve the water haze issue too, these are all connected.
 
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Scarlett123

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Water parameters ph 7.6, kh 3, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 5. I added aragonite to up the kh that was at 0. Tap water ph 8.3 but was dropping to 6 so tank wouldn’t cycle for a few months until I figured out the kh issue (not in the api test kit I was using to test the water). As soon as I added the aragonite it slowly stabilized the ph and tank finally cycled. Went through a lot of prime but didn’t lose any fish - except the poor platy I scared into a shell when cleaning the gravel too emphatically... tank has been cycled a few months and the cloudiness won’t go away. Regular (2-3 times per week gravel vacuums because a bit overstocked and wow can swordtails poop).
Light is a fluorescent one that came with the tank and it runs probably too long- from 7:00 am to about 9:00 pm. 120 VAC, 60 Hz, 20 W. Was worried because my plants are numerous. My floating plants are hornwort but they melted almost immediately upon entry into my tank about four months ago. They they look like floating tumbleweeds with about 2 inches of each stalk filling in nicely now.
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Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions!
-scarlett
 
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Scarlett123

Scarlett123

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Welcome to TFF.

Yes, we will need more data, on the light (type, wattage, spectrum, duration), fish load, plants, etc. We may be able to solve the water haze issue too, these are all connected.
Thanks for the welcome! The only additional question I didn’t answer was stocking. I have two male and three female swordtails, 5 glotetras, two male and four female platys and one tiny pleco. Of course there are about 13 3 day old baby platys waiting to be transferred to the nursery tank. One more in the community tank that I haven’t been able to catch with my turkey baster but not for lack of trying lol.
 

Byron

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On the light...this is on for too long. I would reduce the photoperiod down to 8-9 hours. Use a timer so it is consistent each day, this is actually very important for fish as well as plants. Fluorescent tubes last about 12 months; they will still light, but the intensity has weakened considerably by then and is usually not sufficient for the plants. I always see algae increase if I happen to have forgotten to replace a tube on one of my tanks, with several ity can be difficult remembering though I do have a schedule written out. Check the spectrum on the tube; something in the range of 5000K to 7000K is best; "daylight" tubes at 6500K are ideal.

If the tube is 20w as you said, this is a 24-inch T8 fluorescent tube. The best tube for an aquarium here is the Life-Glo (same length and wattage obviously), I use this over all my single-tube tanks.

You mentioned KH and pH, but what is the GH (general hardness)? This is the most important for fish, and I fear you may have a problem looming here. Livebearers (mollies, platies, swordtails, guppies, Endlers) all must have moderateely hard or harder water. If the KH is only 3 and the pH was lowering from 8.3 to 6, the GH isd going to be very low. And this will eventually result in the deaths of the livebearers. Some of them can manage in soft water for a few months, but they are slowly being weakened internally making them more susceptible to other problems and always a shorter lifespan. We can suggest how to fix this once we know the GH, KH and pH of your source (tap) water, not the tank water.
 
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Scarlett123

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Hi and thanks for the response. I will get a gH test kit and get back to you. The pH from the tap is 8.3 and in the tank it had gone down to 6.0. After adding aragonite it has been holding steady at 7.4 to 7.6. The kH went from 1 to 3 and has been holding steady after adding the aragonite. I’m not sure if the plants are using the minerals and dropping the hardness of the water. Our tap water is stated to be hard but I haven’t tested it myself. I’m not sure how to determine if the fluorescent light is daylight range but I do know how to buy one that is. Also I’ll get a timer and I’ll report back. Thanks again!
P.S. thoughts on getting a snail to help with keeping the brown stuff in check?
 

Byron

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Hi and thanks for the response. I will get a gH test kit and get back to you. The pH from the tap is 8.3 and in the tank it had gone down to 6.0. After adding aragonite it has been holding steady at 7.4 to 7.6. The kH went from 1 to 3 and has been holding steady after adding the aragonite. I’m not sure if the plants are using the minerals and dropping the hardness of the water. Our tap water is stated to be hard but I haven’t tested it myself. I’m not sure how to determine if the fluorescent light is daylight range but I do know how to buy one that is. Also I’ll get a timer and I’ll report back. Thanks again!
P.S. thoughts on getting a snail to help with keeping the brown stuff in check?
See if you can ascertain the GH from your municipal water people, check their website. No point in buying a test you may only use once. We need to know the tap water GH, as it will be the same in the aquarium (unless it is targeted, another story).

Plants could not reduce the GH like this. The pH would not fall this much if the tap water has a hard-ish GH (and KH). Until we know the exact numbers for the tap water, we/you are just guessing in the dark.

Aragonite will raise pH and KH but not GH, at least it never has for me, unless you have the substrate aragonite sand. But let's get the numbers.

Snails do help, but not with "problem" algae. On the light, look at one end of the tube, there will be writing. See if the Kelvin is given, or whatever words there are. A number followed by "K" is the Kelvin rating and this involves the spectrum which is important for plants. Did this tube come with the tank new, or is it used?
 
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Scarlett123

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See if you can ascertain the GH from your municipal water people, check their website. No point in buying a test you may only use once. We need to know the tap water GH, as it will be the same in the aquarium (unless it is targeted, another story).

Plants could not reduce the GH like this. The pH would not fall this much if the tap water has a hard-ish GH (and KH). Until we know the exact numbers for the tap water, we/you are just guessing in the dark.

Aragonite will raise pH and KH but not GH, at least it never has for me, unless you have the substrate aragonite sand. But let's get the numbers.

Snails do help, but not with "problem" algae. On the light, look at one end of the tube, there will be writing. See if the Kelvin is given, or whatever words there are. A number followed by "K" is the Kelvin rating and this involves the spectrum which is important for plants. Did this tube come with the tank new, or is it used?
B7078CD9-1872-4734-8926-0656C7EEDB39.png
Here is my annual tap water quality report
 

essjay

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The two figures you need from that list are alkalinity (water company term for KH) and hardness (ie GH)
Alkalinity/KH average = 41.4 mg/l which is the same as ppm. This converts to 2.3 dH
Hardness as mg/l CaCO3 average = 46.8 mg/l and ppm which converts to 2.6 dH.

You have soft tap water with low KH.
I have no idea how anyone could call a GH of 2.6 "hard". Even their highest quoted figure is only 54 ppm/3 dH.

You mentioned KH and pH, but what is the GH (general hardness)? This is the most important for fish, and I fear you may have a problem looming here. Livebearers (mollies, platies, swordtails, guppies, Endlers) all must have moderateely hard or harder water. If the KH is only 3 and the pH was lowering from 8.3 to 6, the GH isd going to be very low. And this will eventually result in the deaths of the livebearers. Some of them can manage in soft water for a few months, but they are slowly being weakened internally making them more susceptible to other problems and always a shorter lifespan. We can suggest how to fix this once we know the GH, KH and pH of your source (tap) water, not the tank water.
As Byron said, this GH is too low for livebearers unless you do something to make the water a lot harder.
 
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Scarlett123

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The two figures you need from that list are alkalinity (water company term for KH) and hardness (ie GH)
Alkalinity/KH average = 41.4 mg/l which is the same as ppm. This converts to 2.3 dH
Hardness as mg/l CaCO3 average = 46.8 mg/l and ppm which converts to 2.6 dH.

You have soft tap water with low KH.
I have no idea how anyone could call a GH of 2.6 "hard". Even their highest quoted figure is only 54 ppm/3 dH.



As Byron said, this GH is too low for livebearers unless you do something to make the water a lot harder.
I wasn’t sure how to interpret the hardness from the water quality report, so thank you. I’d be happy to adjust the parameters. Any suggestions? I prefer more natural means like adding rocks or something if that would be sufficient. Also will have to figure out how to get to the tube as it is enclosed in the hood to get the Kelvin value. That’s a project for tonight after work though :)
 

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I wasn’t sure how to interpret the hardness from the water quality report, so thank you. I’d be happy to adjust the parameters. Any suggestions? I prefer more natural means like adding rocks or something if that would be sufficient. Also will have to figure out how to get to the tube as it is enclosed in the hood to get the Kelvin value. That’s a project for tonight after work though :)
Before dealing wiith adjusting water parameters, I'll just explain the units so you won't have confusion going forward as to the values for GH and KH. In this hobby, the units we use are ppm (parts per million) and dGH or dH which are German degrees. In the report essjay interpreted for you, they are using mg/l (milligrams per liter) for the GH and KH. It is identical to ppm. I prefer dGH only because the numbers are smaller and easier for me to relate to. You can convert betyween these using the number 17.9, multiplying dGH by 17.9 to obtain the equivalent ppm, or dividing ppm by 17.9 to get the equivalent dGH. That is how essjay got 2.6 dGH from your 46.8 ppm (ppm being the same value as mg/l).

Now to adjusting parameters. The GH must be considerably higher (= harder water having more dissolved calcium and magnesium) for livebearers; they are not in good shape now (physiologically speaking) and will only decline. There are two ways to achieve harder water.

You can buy mineral salts. "Salt" here does not mean salt as in table salt (which is sodium chloride, a specific mineral). All minerals have "salts;" mineral salts are substances extracted from bodies of water. Some examples of mineral salts include sodium, chlorine, calcium, phosphate, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, and phosphorus. For aquarists, GH is primarily the salts of calcium and magnesium, though the other minerals mentioned can be present. But calcium is the main salt. There are salt preparations intended for rift lake cichlids that will work. Marine salt is not the same and should never bee used for freshwater fish because it also contains sodium chloride, the common "salt" as in table salt or sea salt. The rift lake salt mixtures do not contain this salt.

The main drawback to these salts is that you must prepare the water outside the aquarium. When doing water changes, you need to have some container in which to dissolve the salts into the water and reach the necessary GH before you can then add that water to the aquarium. Otherwise, you will have fluctuating GH/KH/pH and this is detrimental to fish and can kill them. Another issue is expense. At least 50% of the aquarium volume should be changed once every week, at one time to achieve maximum benefit from the water change.

A second method is to use a calcareous substrate. Aragonite sand works well for this. I used this method many years ago when I had a tank of mollies and one of rift lake cichlids, fish that must have a higher GH and pH. There are other members who do this and they can explain their processes.

Final point...livebearers must have this higher GH and pH, but soft water species are better with what you naturally have (very soft water and an acidic pH). Some soft water species can manage in harder water, up to a point, but they will without question be better without this. I don't know what other fish you have, though I think I can see a tetra or two; these are softer water fish. If you do go down the road of harder water and keep the livebearers, you might want to consider moving the soft water fish (if any) elsewhere.
 
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Scarlett123

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Before dealing wiith adjusting water parameters, I'll just explain the units so you won't have confusion going forward as to the values for GH and KH. In this hobby, the units we use are ppm (parts per million) and dGH or dH which are German degrees. In the report essjay interpreted for you, they are using mg/l (milligrams per liter) for the GH and KH. It is identical to ppm. I prefer dGH only because the numbers are smaller and easier for me to relate to. You can convert betyween these using the number 17.9, multiplying dGH by 17.9 to obtain the equivalent ppm, or dividing ppm by 17.9 to get the equivalent dGH. That is how essjay got 2.6 dGH from your 46.8 ppm (ppm being the same value as mg/l).

Now to adjusting parameters. The GH must be considerably higher (= harder water having more dissolved calcium and magnesium) for livebearers; they are not in good shape now (physiologically speaking) and will only decline. There are two ways to achieve harder water.

You can buy mineral salts. "Salt" here does not mean salt as in table salt (which is sodium chloride, a specific mineral). All minerals have "salts;" mineral salts are substances extracted from bodies of water. Some examples of mineral salts include sodium, chlorine, calcium, phosphate, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, and phosphorus. For aquarists, GH is primarily the salts of calcium and magnesium, though the other minerals mentioned can be present. But calcium is the main salt. There are salt preparations intended for rift lake cichlids that will work. Marine salt is not the same and should never bee used for freshwater fish because it also contains sodium chloride, the common "salt" as in table salt or sea salt. The rift lake salt mixtures do not contain this salt.

The main drawback to these salts is that you must prepare the water outside the aquarium. When doing water changes, you need to have some container in which to dissolve the salts into the water and reach the necessary GH before you can then add that water to the aquarium. Otherwise, you will have fluctuating GH/KH/pH and this is detrimental to fish and can kill them. Another issue is expense. At least 50% of the aquarium volume should be changed once every week, at one time to achieve maximum benefit from the water change.

A second method is to use a calcareous substrate. Aragonite sand works well for this. I used this method many years ago when I had a tank of mollies and one of rift lake cichlids, fish that must have a higher GH and pH. There are other members who do this and they can explain their processes.

Final point...livebearers must have this higher GH and pH, but soft water species are better with what you naturally have (very soft water and an acidic pH). Some soft water species can manage in harder water, up to a point, but they will without question be better without this. I don't know what other fish you have, though I think I can see a tetra or two; these are softer water fish. If you do go down the road of harder water and keep the livebearers, you might want to consider moving the soft water fish (if any) elsewhere.
Thank you; very informative. Yes we have 5 glotetras in the tank with the Livebearers. Also the three original zebra danios. I have the nursery tank that is 6.8 gallons shown in one of the pictures above. Perhaps I can convert that one to the tetras tank. I prefer the aragonite substrate option as it seems like less large fluctuations would occur but I would think 20% water changes more frequently would foster less gH fluctuations.
 

Byron

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Thank you; very informative. Yes we have 5 glotetras in the tank with the Livebearers. Also the three original zebra danios. I have the nursery tank that is 6.8 gallons shown in one of the pictures above. Perhaps I can convert that one to the tetras tank. I prefer the aragonite substrate option as it seems like less large fluctuations would occur but I would think 20% water changes more frequently would foster less gH fluctuations.
Given the species here, they will manage in moderately hard water but I would avoid very hard water for them. It depends upon where you end up with the GH, but it is still true to say that if you removed all non-livebearers you could raise the GH and pH (the pH will go up on its own once the GH/KH are higher) without having to worry about how high, and the livebearers would be very happy which means healthy too. :fish:
 
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Scarlett123

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Given the species here, they will manage in moderately hard water but I would avoid very hard water for them. It depends upon where you end up with the GH, but it is still true to say that if you removed all non-livebearers you could raise the GH and pH (the pH will go up on its own once the GH/KH are higher) without having to worry about how high, and the livebearers would be very happy which means healthy too. :fish:
So now that I have a path forward on those issues any suggestions on the brown stuff growing on rocks an the cloudiness (or will changing lighting out and more floating plants and the timer fix that)?
 

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