Embedded Brown Algae

Surfer62

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Hi everyone
New to the forum & my first post. My tank is 2 years or so established.

About 6 hours lighting daily. Dose 8 ml of liquid carbon daily
Weekly water changes around 25%. Root feeding plants have tablet ferts inserted.
Nitrates are managed by Tetra Nitrate
I have 10 ammano shrimp at work.

This thick brown Algae is on everything and can't be wiped off. It is embedded in the leaves. It's been present for months

Any idea what I'm up against and how to deal with it please?
 

JxsPxxle

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I also deal with with issue. I did a little bit of testing and figured it’s mainly coming from fish waste and extra food that settle on top of the leaves. Just vacuum the leaves to or remove uneaten food. This is how I solved it.
 

seangee

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Just FWIW liquid carbon is actually glueraldehyde. This is a powerful disinfectant and in the long term poisonous to fish and shrimp. The manufacturers dosages are carefully calculated so they don't kill your fish too quickly, but they do have an effect in the long term. Its also not needed (neither is co2) for any of the plants in your pics.

Also FWIW Tetra Nitrate minus is closely related to snake oil. There are no organisms that reduce nitrates in a tropical aquarium unless you are able to create a completely anaerobic environment. Water changes are the only way to control nitrates. I recommend 75% per week - every week. That's what all 3 of my tanks get.

Your plants look like they get either too much nutrient or too much light (intensity not duration). These need to be kept in balance as when one is exhausted algae will use the other as it is less "fussy" than plants. Water changes will reduce the nutrients. If the problem is light you could add floating plants to filter it (your cardinals will appreciate that btw) or consider a dimmer.
 
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Surfer62

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Just FWIW liquid carbon is actually glueraldehyde. This is a powerful disinfectant and in the long term poisonous to fish and shrimp. The manufacturers dosages are carefully calculated so they don't kill your fish too quickly, but they do have an effect in the long term. Its also not needed (neither is co2) for any of the plants in your pics.

Also FWIW Tetra Nitrate minus is closely related to snake oil. There are no organisms that reduce nitrates in a tropical aquarium unless you are able to create a completely anaerobic environment. Water changes are the only way to control nitrates. I recommend 75% per week - every week. That's what all 3 of my tanks get.

Your plants look like they get either too much nutrient or too much light (intensity not duration). These need to be kept in balance as when one is exhausted algae will use the other as it is less "fussy" than plants. Water changes will reduce the nutrients. If the problem is light you could add floating plants to filter it (your cardinals will appreciate that btw) or consider a dimmer.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this Seangee - much appreciated!
I'll do some research on the Easy-Life easy at I product.

My experience with the Tetra product, testing regularly with liquid API testing kit, is that it has brought nitrates levels down from 40-60 to consistently around 20. Nitrates are high in my tap water - 20-40.

The tank is fitted with 2 Juwel 45 watt T5 Nature fluorescent tubes. There's a fair bit of surface cover from other plants. So do you
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think it could be lighting intensity
Or more likely nutrient levels?
 

seangee

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I really can't say - its trial and error. One of my tanks looked a lot like that until a week ago and I made sure I kept everything scrupulously clean. I reduced my lighting down to 6 hours and still could not stay on top of it. Water changes and fertilisation were all the same as my other tanks. I like an easy life (not the product ;)) so all my tanks get Seachem root tabs, and flourish comprehensive supplement at half the recommended dose once a week. Finally in desperation I bought an in-line dimmer (they are led lights) and reduced the inensity to 60%. Nothing else changed and within a week the algae was visibly dying and I was able to wipe most of the leaves clean. Plant growth appears normal. I planted out some hygrophila cuttings and they have grown about 2 inches in a week.

I battled nitrates for years as my tap water is consistently at 50ppm. I tried everything out there to try to get it to an acceptable level between water changes (i.e from one week to the next). Some years ago I started using the Pozzani DI filters to pre-filter my tap water. This was very effective (reduced tap water to 0) but as I change 200 litres per week across 3 tanks was time consuming and costly. Since I keep soft water fish like you, and I live in an area where the water is liquid rock I finally made the switch to RO.
 

Byron

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T5 is very bright (intense) lighting. Without replacing the fixture, not much can be done about the intensity, so balancing it better is the option; if you can reduce the intensity somehow, that would probably help, but assuming not... Floating plants help with this. Ensuring sufficient nutrients.

The algae on the leaves is a form of black brush/beard, I have dealt with it once or twice, and also the bushier form which is more common. Light and nutrient balance is the issue. Light is pretty much set as I mentioned above, so let's look at nutrients. There are signs of deficiency in the swords. Substrate tabs will help this, I recommend Seachem's Flourish Tabs as the best I have tried, but there are undoubtedly some good brands in the UK.

As for liquid, you need a comprehensive product. This means all nutrients are present, and in balance to each other in the liquid. Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium that seangee mentioned is a very good liquid, I use this too. There is a product in the UK that should be basically identical, TNC Lite, here is a link I found:

Do not use the TNC Complete, it has nitrate and phosphate and you never want to be adding these if you can help it. The TNC Lite is or should be perfect.

The algae now present will not go away; the aim is to find the balance and then it will not increase, and that indicates success. In time as new leaves appear the older ones with the algae can be removed. It can take a week or two or three before you see improvements, so have patience. Reducing the light by above methods and improving the fertilizers will likely do it.

I also agree, do not use liquid carbon. This toxic substance is highly dangerous to plants, fish and bacteria.

Last issue is the high nitrate in the source water...that is a significant [problem as it is weakening the fish slowly. Nitrates in the source water have to be filtered out before the water is added to the aquarium, as opposed to filtering in the aquarium. Nitrates occurring within the system is one thing, and relatively easy to deal with, but nitrate in the source water needs special attention. @seangee and @AbbeysDad have dealt with this and can better advise.
 

AbbeysDad

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The statement "Nitrates are managed by Tetra Nitrate" throws me off a little and I think the OP meant Tetra NitrateMinus. I've never used this product and am a bit concerned about the product info...
"Tetra NitrateMinus reduces nitrates naturally and promotes bacteria growth.
The particles increase the activeness of microorganisms which feed on nitrate and break it down biologically and reliably."

However, to my knowledge, this requires anoxic or anaerobic bacteria to convert nitrates into nitrogen gas. A condition that simply does not exist in most freshwater aquariums!
What follows is something I wrote here some time ago regarding nitrates in source water...
It's not uncommon (sadly) these days to have high nitrates in source water, especially in agricultural areas. I have high nitrates in my well water I believe due to a 95 acre farmers field across the road that gets ample amount of manure and (I believe) some chemical fertilizer.

My home system does not generate enough pressure for an RO (reverse osmosis) system without adding a pump. Good RO systems aren't cheap and although they'll remove nitrates, you have to add minerals at additional cost.

I first invested in the now discontinued API Tap Water Filter (ION exchange resins). However, the use life of the cartridge for my water was such that it just wasn't cost effective. In a moment of inspiration, I wondered if I reclaimed a filter cartridge, and refilled it with API Nitra-Zorb, could I use it to pre-filter water for water changes. I put the question the API (Mars) Tech Support and they said that they did not know as the product had not been tested in that way. But they also pointed out that the resin use life is often compromised by detritus (Ah...but that would not exist when filtering clean well water!) (API Nitra-Zorb is an ION exchange resin that adsorbs nitrates). The beauty is that it is rechargeable with ordinary (non iodized) salt water, so it can be reclaimed many times. It is sold in pouches, intended to be used in filters.) I cut open several pouches to fill my Tap Water Filter with resin. It works awesome and I have filtered well over 8000 gallons and still going strong! Sadly the Tap Water Filter is no longer available and I'll admit that trickling water through a filter to remove nitrates is a bit of a pain. But for me, it's the most economical way to solve the problem.

I haven't used the Pozzani filter that @seangee used, but there are also other inline nitrate filters - but to my knowledge, none of these are rechargeable which make there cost in replacing cartridges high.
I think you'd be best served by taking every measure to keep tank generated nitrates low. You may need a filter to contain them, but you might get two or four pouches of API Nitra-Zorb so you have two in use and two recharging all the time. Ensure that they are put in the filter last after fine filter media so they see the cleanest water. With your water, you'll want to find the right amount of water for partial water changes to maintain an appropriate nitrate level in your tank.
Note: As the resin becomes less effective due to a detritus coating, it might be reclaimed using a 50/50 bleach/water treatment (like Sechem's Purigen) BUT I HAVE NOT TESTED THIS.
Good luck!
 

Stan510

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Water changes might help..or not changing the water might help. You Should add a Ancistrus or any other algae eaters to help. They have a way of stopping algae from getting going more than they do cleaning out an aquarium of established algae problems.
Adding iron might also green up leaves making them more resistant to algae. Also one last point..low tech plants grow much slower than the perfect Co2 plants you see in vids or magazines. Slow growth will always get some algae.
 

Mick85

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That looks like black beard algae to me. Pain in the butt that stuff! I've just ordered some Easy-Life Algexit and will be trying it out on my BBA.
 

Stan510

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I've gone back to Hydrogen Peroxide. I just went over lightly yesterday my Bolbitis to hopefully kill BBA and that imbedded brown on older fern fronds. It might take a week or so for best results to be seen. Some hair algae died in an hour- turning white.
Always remember- Moss is a primitive plant just slightly higher than algae. They would die if you use too much.
 

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