Green hair algae discussion

Beastije

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I need some help with algae questions. I never mastered the area of aquatic plant keeping to avoid algae overall but lately it is getting out of hand and i would appreciate an advice.
I have a tank, 54l, just 4 small fish living out the rest of their lives and one large snail (and usual pest snails ). Plant wise it is not very occupied. It has a fist sized moss ball, one medium large anubias, two floating stems of ludwigia that were chewed off and najas plant as a fast grower. It used to have hornwort too but the algae kept getting into it so for now i took it out (month ago). It has a large filter and 9 hour a day of led lights on middle intensity setting.
I don't over feed, i don't fertilize and i assumed the najas would pick up the excessive nutrients and the hair algae would disappear. It hasn't.
Au contraire brown algae appeared on all the glass, so i returned the neritina I removed about a month ago.
The hair algae is growing through the moss and in the filter media. I recently removed the najas and the anubias and gave it a peroxide bath before returning it back to the tank. That was about 3 weeks ago and so far there is no change in the algae growth, except the addition of the brown algae.
I thought when I balances the nutrients from input water and the feeding and the fast growing plants the algae will go away. But why didn't it yet? Should I just wait longer?
Thanks
 

Byron

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Algae is an opportunist, it can use light that may be inadequate (spectrum) or insufficient (intensity, either too much or not enough) for higher plants, and obviously nutrients will always be available with fish being fed. "Problem" algae of whichever species in a tank with plants is controlled by the balance of light and nutrients. The aim is to get this balance suitable for the plants. There is no other way to effectively and safely deal with problem algae.

Adding some more plants would help. Floating plants like Water Sprite, Frogbit, Water Lettuce really help here because they shade the light and being very fast growers they take up an incredible amount of nutrients. Even smaller floaters would help some, but the more substantial plants are best. You might have to use a comprehensive fertilizer though, as a very few fish will not provide much in the way or organic nutrients. The light could also be reduced, maybe 8 hours. Use a timer so it is consistent every day, this also helps plants (and fish) and thwarts opportunistic algae.

Do not dip plants in anything; if is really is strong enough to kill algae, it is harming the plant. Anubias is robust and less likely to be seriously harmed, but it is not necessary and just more of a risk. The only way to control problem algae is correcting the balance.

Can you post photos of the algae, just so we can be certain.
 
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Beastije

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I used to have light on for 6 hours a day three months back, the algae issue was the same. I had a lot of hornwort in the tanks growing fast, super fast, and yet it was filled with algae, that is why I took it out. The Najas guadalupensis doesn't suffer with the algae growth so much, so i thought I would give it a try as the main fast plany. My water has a mid level of NO3 levels and the brotia I thought would produce a lot of waste.
I have a generic fertilizer and a plain sand, so maybe i am missing some core nutrients.
The brown algae scares me a bit. Will go take a picture.
 
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Beastije

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Byron

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I used to have light on for 6 hours a day three months back, the algae issue was the same. I had a lot of hornwort in the tanks growing fast, super fast, and yet it was filled with algae, that is why I took it out. The Najas guadalupensis doesn't suffer with the algae growth so much, so i thought I would give it a try as the main fast plany. My water has a mid level of NO3 levels and the brotia I thought would produce a lot of waste.
I have a generic fertilizer and a plain sand, so maybe i am missing some core nutrients.
The brown algae scares me a bit. Will go take a picture.

All problem algae is caused by the imbalance. It may be that the light is too intense for the level of nutrients and the needs of the plants. Or the spectrum may be detrimental to plants (algae doesn't care about any of this!).

Nitrate is mid-level...don't know what this means, what is the actual nitrate reading? Nitrate will feed algae too, but not much for plants. And there are 17 nutrients plants need, some of these are likely minimal if even present.

What is the fertilizer?
 
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Beastije

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NO3 is 26 mg/l and the fertilizer is local made by a plant seller, used widely here, in 10ml per 20l it should contain the following:
K 2, 2 ppm, Mg 0,3 ppm abd micro FeDTPA 0,15 ppm, MnEDTA 0,08 ppm, Cu 0,002 ppm, Zn 0,003 ppm, Mo 0,003 ppm, B 0,002 ppm.

Due to snails i was reluctant to use it because of cuprum content.
 

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Nitrate...this needs to be kept as low as possible, at or close to zero. Fish are affected by nitrate; it is best viewed as a slow weakening of the fish generally. The species, level, and duration all factor in, but nitrate does harm fish. Is any of this occurring in the source (tap) water? That is one issue, the other is occurring within the biological system of the aquarium, and the latter is more easily controllable.

If the fertilizer preparation is intended for aquatic plants, OK.
 
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Beastije

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The 26 mg/l is tap water level. My test in the tank show zero, but up to 50 mg/l in tap here is considered ok for planted tanks as they use it as nutrients. Am i getting it wrong? I thought my levels means no fert could be needed as fish food and nitrate level in tap means i am 'feeding' the plants sufficiently
 

Byron

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The 26 mg/l is tap water level. My test in the tank show zero, but up to 50 mg/l in tap here is considered ok for planted tanks as they use it as nutrients. Am i getting it wrong? I thought my levels means no fert could be needed as fish food and nitrate level in tap means i am 'feeding' the plants sufficiently

Aquatic plants use ammonium as their source of nitrogen, not nitrate. If the tank has fish, there will be ammonium. Nitrate does impact fish, so as low as possible is in the best interests of the fish.
 

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My instant thought was reset the lighting to the lowest level. Small tanks are harder to manage than bigger ones.

If you can get them, switch to Tropica ferts. https://tropica.com/en/plant-care/

Plants can use nitrate but much less efficiently than ammonia. They basically reverse the cycle th get it back to ammonia to use it.
 
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Beastije

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I just retested tap water and tank water and both have NO3 at zero with the same test, so who knows what the hell is flowing in through the pipes. I will add a bit of fertilizer to the tank and will keep an eye before changing something else, will see. Thanks!
 
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Beastije

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So I am back here, three or four water changes since. I used fertilizer twice since then, I added naias plant, I removed java moss except for a small part, added second larger anubias, resetted the light to the third lowest point instead of the larger one and the situation is even worse.

The naias is not prospering at all, I added frogbit too, it is dissolving now. I barely feed the fish, every two three days, and I removed the snail from this tank three days ago (and added the java fern so it wouldnt eat it).
Should I fertilize more? It seems like I am only feeding the algae at this point. I could also remove the floating ludwigia, which are not prospering, but not dying..or replant them, but they will be gone if I return the snail back. The floating mess is food, I just fed the 4 remaining fish. Maybe I need to reduce the water changes to once a two weeks?
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Hair algae in my experience does well and when there's at least one of 14 nutrients plants need is missing or insufficient for plants to grow. Algae can survive at extremely low levels of nutrient but plants will either not grow or die and melt away. When all the nutrients are available at sufficient levels plants do well and grow and for some reason hair algae dies back. You can do water changes all day and you will not get nutrient levels low enough to prevent the growth of hair algae.

NO3 is 26 mg/l and the fertilizer is local made by a plant seller, used widely here, in 10ml per 20l it should contain the following:
K 2, 2 ppm, Mg 0,3 ppm abd micro FeDTPA 0,15 ppm, MnEDTA 0,08 ppm, Cu 0,002 ppm, Zn 0,003 ppm, Mo 0,003 ppm, B 0,002 ppm.

Due to snails i was reluctant to use it because of cuprum content.
Just looking at the fertilizer information it doesn't include nitrogen, phosphate, calcium, sulfur, chlorine, and nickel. In my option if it isn't in the fertilizer you probably don't have enough in the tank. So assume these nutrients are deficient unless you can prove there is enough.

As to the levels in the fertilizer scientist have measured the amount in plants and based on that Mn should be 50% of Fe, Boron and zinc should be at 20% of Fe, and copper should be at about 6%. Nickel and molybdenum are at 1%. So your iron and manganeses are fine (i personally prefer 0.1 to 0.05ppm of Fe). Unfortunately that means your fertilizer is deficient in boron, zinc, and copper. Unfortunately the levels in your fertilizer are typical of most fertilizers intended for aquariums..

I have kept shrimp and snails at a copper level of 0.02ppm and didn't see any change in behavior or reproduction. Most of the copper in in an aquarium come from copper pipes used to deliver tap water. And tithe US the max allowed in tap water is about 1ppm.

As to nitrogen Plants can use nitrogen from ammonia, nitrite, urea, amino acid an nitrate. Plant can use all easily except nitrate. Since we cannot measure most of these in my opinion in a planted tank nitrate levels should be kept at a low level BUT NOT ZERO. 5 ppm should be fine and there are many people on this forum that normally see more than that in their tap water or from fish waist.

For starters i would check your PH and GH. Fe DTPA in your fertilizer woks best at a a PH of 7.5 or less and will probably work up to a PH of 8. it won't work above that. Also check your General hardness (GH) The GH test only detects the presence of calcium and magnesium. if your GH is very low you may need to increase it with a GH booster increasing the GH by one degree. 1 degree is all that is needed for plants and all GH boosters have both calcium and magnesium.

Also what are the ingredients in your fertilizer. Fe DTPA and MN EDTA for example. are copper and zinc Cu EDTA, Zn EDTA or CuSO4, ZnSO4?
 

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