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fish identification and diatom algae issue

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Oct 4, 2018
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I picked up a ram chiclid 3-4 months ago. They had the fish labeled as a German Blue Ram. However it's not coloring up and I'm not sure if this is because of bad breeding or if it might be either a Bolivian ram or gold ram instead. He does have a black spike on his front dorsal fin, although the pictures don't show it. Also, not sure if its a male or female. Anyways the fish is doing great, very active and eats well. Always comes up to the tank and interacts with me. Sorry about the photos, he moves so much it's hard to get an in-focus close up. My other question is on diatoms. Had the tank around 10 months and still having horrible diatom algae issues. It takes down all my live plants, covers the leaves, and my tank walls. water changes once per week, water levels all look good, I try not to overfeed. Tank kept at 81/82. Good water flow. Plants do grow but eventually are covered in diatoms. Would love to know what I can do to fix this so I can get a lush green look to my tank. Thanks guys!


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I would suggest the species in the two photos is Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, the common or blue ram (and not the Bolivian, M. altispinosus), given the red in the iris of the eyes, and the fish may be female though it is difficult to see the fins clearly. As to the variety, I cannot say if this is or is not the German Blue; gold ram does suggest itself to me too.

Now to the algae...we need to ascertain if this is diatoms or a form of black brush/beard algae which many confuse with diatoms as the brush/beard is often brown. If it comes off of surfaces easily with your fingertip, it is diatoms; beard/brush will not come of plant leaves and will need serious scraping/scrubbing to get off of solid objects. A photo might help.

Also, what is the GH and pH? And the light? And are any plant additives being used?
Thanks for the help Byron. I think it must be diatoms. Scrapes off walls easily and brushes off plant leaves easily, except I end up ruining the leaves in the process! Not using any plant/water additives atm just dechlorinator. I'm embarrassed because I don't know my GH (is this something I should be checking regularly?). PH is 7.1. I'm using the stock light that came with Fluvial Flex, specs say it's 7500K LED. Bought another light just in case and that's just a small 8W LED strip light, usually don't have it on though. Will try to post picture of algae when I get home.
You should pin down the GH of your source water, and it would be useful to test the aquarium water too just in case they differ; they are not likely to unless something in the tank is targeting the GH, such as calcareous rock/substrate that would increase the GH. Aside from this, once you know the GH of your tap water, it can be assumed that it will remain at that level or very close to it. So maybe get the GH from your water authority, on their website? No need for a test kit you may only use the once. I don't bother testing GH unless it is an aquarium where I am increasing the GH for some reason. The pH is different, it may fluctuate, depending upon the GH and also the KH, and several other factors. I asked about GH because mineral content of the water is a factor in plant growth, including algae.

The light at 7500K is a tad blue and this may be one issue. Aquatic plants require red and blue light to drive photosynthesis, and of these red is the more important. Interestingly, green also improves plant growth even though photosynthesis is not driven by this colour. Walstad reckons it is the mix of red/blue/green that is so comparable to mid-day sun that explains why green in the mix helps plants. Green light adds to the overall intensity even though it does not drive photosynthesis.

Your plant situation may likely be the light and lack of nutrients, either or both. When plants cannot use the light fully, due to insufficient intensity, spectrum or duration, and/or insufficient nutrient availability, algae will take advantage. Diatoms are said to be low light inducing, and also silicates in the water.

I'll check the photos when posted; but if this easily comes off without harming the leaves, it is sounding like diatoms. But if you end up damaging the leaves to remove it, more likely brush/beard those these I have found impossible to remove from plant leaves.

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