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El Natural Diana Walstad's low-maintenance, soil-based 'El Natural' method for keeping plants and fish.

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Old 06-21-2019, 08:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Explain this to me...

So you may have seen my recent post about my plague of GSA in my 2 month old tank. I'm doing everything "right". Adjusting my fancy Planted+ 24/7 CC light to the "perfect" low light conditions. The GSA is relentless. The tank looks awful.

Well this is what puzzles me. I had a bunch of java ferns (2 types) left over so I threw them in a huge glass bowl and stuck it on a shelf that has a suspended Planted+ 24/7 set to *MAX* for *12 hours*! (Shelf is destined for terrestrial plants.) The bowl is exactly 7 inches from the light. I even threw an overdose of dry ferts in it just to see what would happen. There is not one speck of algae. The plants are lush and vibrant while the same plants in my carefully light controlled tank are a mess, covered with GSA!

So... is high light really the culprit with algae? Theoretically, that bowl should be heavily infested. (I do supplement Excel in my tank at 2x the recommended dose if that factors in. Would that demand an increase in light? The tank is very heavily planted with a sword, crypts, anubias, 2 types of Java Ferns and some hornwort.
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Old 06-21-2019, 09:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Explain this to me...

The text book on aquatic algae has not yet been written. If we knew exactly how anyone can eliminate algae as a problem, there would be few of us with algae problems, and only temporary problems then. When I'm moved to my new location I plan to try to do some experimenting to see if I can shed a little more light on that subject. My chance of accomplishing something of value, other than entertaining myself, are very low.

My experience with green spot algae is that if you have a surplus of phosphates in the water you don't get that specific algae. And, my experience with black brush algae is that if you let the CO2 in the water fluctuate (during the photoperiod) you will be very likely to have that specific algae problem. Other algae are still largely mysterious to me.
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Old 06-21-2019, 09:53 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Explain this to me...

Haha! I'm still waiting for "The" textbook! Diana's is as close as it gets really.
Actually my PO4 stays at about 2 according to my API test kit.

Here is a photo of the same plant in 2 different conditions. The first leaf is Java fern from my high light bowl. The second is a leaf from my GSA tank.

This is literally keeping me awake at night!
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Old 06-21-2019, 09:58 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Explain this to me...

My first Walstad aquarium had waay too much light. Was gorgeous for awhile. (You can look back on my first posts here from 2013 to see it.) I eventually got hair algae and then the dreaded cladophora but I never had GSA, at least not enough to bother me. Always a bit on anubias. Makes you wonder if GSA thrives in low light.
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Old 06-21-2019, 10:09 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Explain this to me...

I think it's the excess of Micro nutrients that'll trigger the algae.
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Old 06-21-2019, 11:06 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Explain this to me...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post
I think it's the excess of Micro nutrients that'll trigger the algae.
If I had to guess, I would say it is the excess of a very few micro nutrients that has the most effect on algae problems. I keep being intrigued by Diana's statements in her book about algae and iron. Iron is a unique nutrient, so it could make sense that it might be a key nutrient where algae is concerned. It is unique in that bioavailable iron can't stay that way very long in aquarium water. It tends to combine with other ions to form unavailable compounds, and it also gets "consumed" by growing plants very quickly. Add to that the effect that high light has on it, per Diane, and it gets even more interesting.
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Old 06-21-2019, 11:11 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default

This is just anecdotal, but my GSA (which is quite mild) only shows up on the parts of my tank that are getting sunlight. Could just be related to higher light in general though and not specifically to the spectrum of sunlight.
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Old 06-21-2019, 11:16 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Explain this to me...

I have read that blue light can increase algae growth. I believe it had something to do with the availability of iron. Then I've read other places that this is nonsense. That being said I do have the light set to go to 10% blue (no other colors) from 6pm to 9pm then ramp down to off at midnight. And I have occasionally dosed with Seachem Flourish a few times just to boost the anubias and java ferns. Maybe this was'nt a good idea.
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Old 06-21-2019, 04:13 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Explain this to me...

Fertilizers. If a fertilizer actually works to increase plant growth, great. I've gotten much better floating plant growth adding a micronutrient (only) fertilizer every couple 2-4 weeks.

If you get algae as a result, maybe not so good.
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Old 06-24-2019, 12:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Explain this to me...

As a further experiment, I put one of the ailing anubias in the high light bowl about a week ago. It's being blasted with high light and overdosed fertilizers and yet is recovering nicely and new leaves are algae free. Leaves aren't curling. Only the oldest leaf looks bad. This just flies in the face of everything we're taught about low tech... and anubias for that matter!
Edit: I will continue the experiment and report back periodically.
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