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Funkyfishgorl

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Hi, I’m looking for advice as I’m struggling with hair algae in my tank (100cm x 40cm x 50cm) approx 160L/40G. So I’m considering amano shrimp but concerned about my zebra loaches.

Plants:
I’ve attached a photo so you can see the plants I have and the type of algae growing, it’s mainly the slow growing plants that have hair algae issues. I’m also adding a few more plants today as I read that lots of plants taking up all the nutrients can help. It’s mainly full of slow growing plants, I know not good! The only fast growers are the red tiger lotus in the back (which you can’t see as it’s tiny), the pennywort and wavy lobelia. I have hair algae issues mostly on alternanthera reineicki (the tallest) so I cut 98% of the algae covered leaves off then but that gives an ugly leggy appearance compared to how bushy it used to be so manual removal is not working for me. I don’t have CO2 nor do I want to invest in it as it’s too expensive for me.

Lighting:
I have two FluvalSmart Aquaskys form my smaller tanks on it plus the light that came with the tank which is surprisingly very bright. I feed them weekly through the water column but have been meaning to get root tabs for a while. My lights have a sunrise setting on from 9-10 then sunset at 6-6:30 and a 100% blue with a 1% red until 7. The other light comes on 10-6.

Stocking:
Currently in the tank is about 20 make guppies, 1 oto and in a few days when their quarantine is over 5 zebra loaches (straita) and 3 otos. I know my loaches eat snails and would eat baby shrimp, thankfully amano shrimp need brackish water so that’s no issue. But I don’t want them to be terrorised by the loaches, plus the LFS usually has very small shrimp so they would start off small.
I’d really appreciate any advice with my tank, it’d be particularly helpful to get suggestions for hair algae eating species that are good tank mates. I researched flagfish but apparently they are very nippy so even though I was thinking of just getting one, I know from previous experience that you can find a particularly aggressive personality. It would be helpful and interesting to hear other peoples experiences with them. Thanks for checking this out.
 

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Byron

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"Problem" algae such as hair algae, black brush/beard, etc, when it occurs in a planted tank, is always caused by an imbalance of light/nutrients. The goal is to balance the light (this involves intensity, spectrum and duration) with the available nutrients (naturally occurring from fish feeding and water changes along with any plant fertilizers/additives). If the light/nutrients are sufficient for the plants, algae is disadvantaged.

No fish will adequately eat "problem" algae, with one or two exceptions. Shrimp I cannot say as I have no experience with these, but many fish do consider crustaceans a source of natural food so shrimp may get eaten.

The algae I see in the photos, on the plant leaves, is black brush. This is probably the most common species of "problem" algae, I have battled it a few times over the past 20+ years. I have not had it now for four or five years, ever since I managed to work out the light/nutrient balance.

I would highly recommend some substantial floating plants. These are nutrient sinks, and they shade the light. By substantial, I mean plants like Water Sprite, Water Lettuce, and Frogbit; some stem plants also grow well floating.

Quality root substrate tabs are good for substrate-rooted plants like swords, because they do not dissolve into the upper water column which is another algae-discourager. I use Flourish Tabs; the API tabs are less helpful. What liquid fertilizers are you using? And do you have any data on the light spectrum? The "white" light is critical here; blue without a balance of red will encourage algae because plants cannot make full use of it. Algae is not at all fussy when it comes to light.
 
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Funkyfishgorl

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"Problem" algae such as hair algae, black brush/beard, etc, when it occurs in a planted tank, is always caused by an imbalance of light/nutrients. The goal is to balance the light (this involves intensity, spectrum and duration) with the available nutrients (naturally occurring from fish feeding and water changes along with any plant fertilizers/additives). If the light/nutrients are sufficient for the plants, algae is disadvantaged.

No fish will adequately eat "problem" algae, with one or two exceptions. Shrimp I cannot say as I have no experience with these, but many fish do consider crustaceans a source of natural food so shrimp may get eaten.

The algae I see in the photos, on the plant leaves, is black brush. This is probably the most common species of "problem" algae, I have battled it a few times over the past 20+ years. I have not had it now for four or five years, ever since I managed to work out the light/nutrient balance.

I would highly recommend some substantial floating plants. These are nutrient sinks, and they shade the light. By substantial, I mean plants like Water Sprite, Water Lettuce, and Frogbit; some stem plants also grow well floating.

Quality root substrate tabs are good for substrate-rooted plants like swords, because they do not dissolve into the upper water column which is another algae-discourager. I use Flourish Tabs; the API tabs are less helpful. What liquid fertilizers are you using? And do you have any data on the light spectrum? The "white" light is critical here; blue without a balance of red will encourage algae because plants cannot make full use of it. Algae is not at all fussy when it comes to light.
Thank you for your response. Yes I’m in the process of trying to find out what exactly is going wrong, it’s hard to tell where the imbalance is. I added more nutrients as I was on 10 hours at full intensity a day, then reduced it gradually to the 8 hours as descibed in my first post.
Info on the lights:
1 small 1 medium aquasky lights. Both have red, green, blue and 6500 K white LEDs. I found some more info online and attached it.
The light that came with the tank doesn’t have much info other than 10,000 K, 10.8 watts and 90cm.
Fertilisers are Biovert Plus (low/medium planted tanks) and JBL Ferropol root tabs.
Thank you for your suggestion but I’m not sure on the floaters as in my experience with water sprite and the tiny similar version of this they are too prolific and end up shielding too much light. If it’s likely to be too much light I’d prefer to lower the intensity or photoperiod. But I’m also happy to try suggestions that may help. It’s very motivating to hear you haven’t had problems with it for such a long time. Your help is greatly appreciated.
 

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Byron

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The light that came with the tank doesn’t have much info other than 10,000 K, 10.8 watts and 90cm.

You do not want this high a Kelvin, as it is high blue with little or almost no red, and it will encourage algae because they can use the light but plants cannot. The white 6500K mentioned is ideal. And 8 hours should be OK, you could reduce it to 7, but if you get floating plants it might balance out. Floating plants really are an enormous benefit not only respecting the light, but they are "ammonia sinks" so water quality is vastly improved. It is easy enough to thin them out as needed. But your fish will appreciate floating plants, guaranteed.

The brand of fertilizers I am not familiar with, so I wouldn't want to second guess. Can you provide me with a link to online data?

I forgot to ask if you were suggesting that the moonlight setting should be turned off as it’s too much blue with too little red? Or can I keep it on but have a 50-50 balance of blue and red? I like to have a little ‘moonlight’ period (30m-1h) after lights out so I can see my loaches and otos as I’ve read they’re nocturnal.

"Moonlight" is obviously not going to help plants, but here again algae may take advantage. Keep the "dawn" and "dusk" periods minimal, say no more than one hour54 each. Eight hours of full white 6500K light (in one continuous period, always). The remaining, tank lighting off. Fish will be active if there is ambient room light, whether daylight or artificial. They also need a period of total darkness, usually aligned with the night from say 11 or 12 midnight to dawn. No room light at all during this period.
 

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