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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone! I wanted to see if maybe I could get some feedback on one of my tanks.

I have two whiptail catfish, and let me tell you, had I known they were such little diggers! I knew they like hiding in the sand, so we provided sand for them, but long story short, my substrate and soils have mixed, basically turning the tank into open-soil situation. I think they like to dig after the blackworms. They live together with a blue gourami and ten rummynose tetras.

It's been months (maybe even a year??) like this and the only downside to this situation is that I have a constant case (not overwhelming mind you, but ever-present) of brown diatom algae and more recently a little bit of what looks like black hair algae.

I've long accepted the state of this aquarium for what it is, I'm not about to take out the fish for creating this chaos. One thing I did was put in a mechanical filter with a fine sponge or else the water would just be way too cloudy all the time due to soil being picked up.

The water parameters-
Ammonia & Nitrite- 0
Gh - 3
Ph - 7.3
Temp. 24 C

My doubts - I can't tell if the algae is caused by the exposed soil which constantly creates a nutrient-rich water column or if it maybe could have nothing to do with that but actually with light-quality? More light, less light? Seeing the dwarf sag grow so big and tall, makes me think the light is on the weaker side, but the overall plant growth is pretty good.

I just felt like it was time to get some feedback on this situation, which isn't a life or death kind of thing, just as an attempt to understand and learn a little more. Thank you馃槉


Plant Plant community Green Water Pet supply





The culprit-

Vertebrate Nature Natural environment Water Underwater




Recent black algae development-

Plant Terrestrial plant Arecales Grass Banana family





Brown diatoms that have been around forever-

Water Plant Organism Grass Sunlight
 

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Uh-oh. I'm seeing a lot of what looks like driftwood. Personally, I don't buy the exposed substrate theory. It's the lighting and/or some complication with the driftwood. IMO. Black algae is relatively rare from my understanding and is often associated with prolonged exposure to LED lighting in the purple spectrum.
 

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Nice tank. No need for a major overhaul.
It looks like regular hair algae with soil particles stuck to the algae. You could try increasing the GH for better plant growth. GH of 3 is pretty low. Add a Wonder Shell or two. They're cheap and highly effective in quickly increasing GH without affecting pH.
Also, try running tank without water circulation or perhaps just at night. Add some floating plants?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the feedback everyone! I was hoping the problem would be relatively simple to resolve.

I spent the day slowing raising the gh. My test kit isn't that precise, it says if the color changes with 1 to 3 drops, it's between 3-8 gh (or 50 - 150 ppm). It took 2 drops for the color to change, so I'm guessing it might be around 5 gh?

I can't believe I didn't connect the dots between the gh and the algae (time to do some re-enforcement reading!), especially since I had another tank with green hair algae that went away after I raised the gh, a couple months ago.

About the driftwood, would it be creating a problem by absorbing these nutrients? Is that the idea? The moss is attached to it, but I might consider cutting off the ends, and just leaving in the small part that's anchoring the moss.
 

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About the driftwood, would it be creating a problem by absorbing these nutrients? Is that the idea?
"Absorbing'' would not be the word I was looking for. I was thinking more along the lines of it producing nutrients in the form of decay. But I would in no way want to dispute Diana's assessment that your tank does not need a major overhaul.
 

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Just throwing in my 2 cents.

Dwarf sag is a misnomer. It's generally just a big and tall plant. I've never seen a tank where this plant didn't eventually get big.

I wouldn't worry too much about the driftwood, personally. Wood in a living plant is made of dead tissue. So it's mostly cellulose, which doesn't break down easily. Being dead tissue, I wouldn't expect it to have much in the ways of proteins/enzymes which would break down to produce things like ammonia, phosphates, etc that we generally recognize as major contributors towards algae. Could be wrong, but that's my educated assumption, plus many people keep driftwood in tanks without any issues arising.

You haven't shared any details about your lighting, which is an important factor for controlling algae, especially if your tank is receiving natural sunlight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Just throwing in my 2 cents.

Dwarf sag is a misnomer. It's generally just a big and tall plant. I've never seen a tank where this plant didn't eventually get big.

I wouldn't worry too much about the driftwood, personally. Wood in a living plant is made of dead tissue. So it's mostly cellulose, which doesn't break down easily. Being dead tissue, I wouldn't expect it to have much in the ways of proteins/enzymes which would break down to produce things like ammonia, phosphates, etc that we generally recognize as major contributors towards algae. Could be wrong, but that's my educated assumption, plus many people keep driftwood in tanks without any issues arising.

You haven't shared any details about your lighting, which is an important factor for controlling algae, especially if your tank is receiving natural sunlight.

I don't have the specifications of the light I bought on hand when I'm home, I'll get the box! But they are multicolored led strips - one strip with white and one strip with blue/white/red bulbs.

It's on a siesta light schedule, 5-4-5 hours. I've tried minimizing to 4-4-5, but it didn't seem to affect things much.

It doesn't get much daylight normally, but now in these winter (southern hemisphere) months, right around 2-3pm there's a sideways bit of sun that reaches the tank, but it's very limited amount of time (maybe an hour or two). It gets filtered by the wall of sag on the left-side of the tank though, so I'm not sure how much that's affecting things. Most days there isn't even any sun really, due to cloudy and rainy weather.

I'm so glad you mentioned that fact on dwarf sag! I have some in another tank that stays short, but I do regularly trim it, now that I think of it.
 

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I don't have the specifications of the light I bought on hand when I'm home, I'll get the box! But they are multicolored led strips - one strip with white and one strip with blue/white/red bulbs.

It's on a siesta light schedule, 5-4-5 hours. I've tried minimizing to 4-4-5, but it didn't seem to affect things much.

It doesn't get much daylight normally, but now in these winter (southern hemisphere) months, right around 2-3pm there's a sideways bit of sun that reaches the tank, but it's very limited amount of time (maybe an hour or two). It gets filtered by the wall of sag on the left-side of the tank though, so I'm not sure how much that's affecting things. Most days there isn't even any sun really, due to cloudy and rainy weather.

I'm so glad you mentioned that fact on dwarf sag! I have some in another tank that stays short, but I do regularly trim it, now that I think of it.
If you are able to adjust the color spectrum of your light, I'd suggest trying very little to none of the blue spectrum. With my Fluval light I lowered the blue to 5% and it helped to significantly reduce the algae problems I was having. It's an easy thing to test and doesn't require much effort as long as your LED light has that capability.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The only flexbility the lights have is to turn off the whole strip at a time, so in this case i'd be cutting the light by half, keeping only the neutral whites. Easy thing to try out!
 

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I wouldn't worry too much about the driftwood, personally. Wood in a living plant is made of dead tissue. So it's mostly cellulose, which doesn't break down easily. Being dead tissue, I wouldn't expect it to have much in the ways of proteins/enzymes which would break down to produce things like ammonia, phosphates, etc that we generally recognize as major contributors towards algae.
My understanding is that cellulose breaks down into glucose. And, we know that wood rots even on dry land. In an aquarium setting and under anaerobic conditions, rotting wood will give off H2S bubbles. On a more benign level, rotting wood bits and pieces in submerged potting soil help supply CO2 to aquatic plant roots. At the same time, we spend a lot of time removing large chunks of wood from our soil through the process of "mineralizing" it. So, small, water-logged, tree branches sitting at the bottom of a tank are not as inert as they may seem. :)
 

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On a more benign level, rotting wood bits and pieces in submerged potting soil help supply CO2 to aquatic plant roots.
Roots of submerged aquatic plants don't use CO2. Only the leaves and stems (green parts) use CO2. So CO2 produced in the substrate due to decomposition does not help roots. Only if it is released into the water can plants use it for their photosynthesis.

Little pieces of wood (slivers) can mineralize without causing major problems, but a big (2" by 2") wood chunk of driftwood lying on top of soil can turn the soil anaerobic just by physically smothering the soil layer. I don't think the release of nutrients by seasoned wood--as long as it is not sitting on top of a soil layer-- would cause major problems and might be useful for plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It's been almost a couple weeks now since I diminished the light, using only the white side and not the colored red and blue LED's.

That has definitely slowed the rate of algae, most noticeably on the glass, where I was having to clean weekly, now has been pretty stable. I haven't cleaned it since the last time, to see if I could notice the difference.

Although, to be fair, it could also be the fact that I raised the KH of the water at the same time. So maybe down the line, I should try seeing if turning on all the lights would actually create an issue or not. For now I'm content to keep it as is, as long as I continue seeing plant growth as well.

The brand I got is a generic, locally made LED strip bar light, so the only information they provide on their product is as follows-
Dimensions 58 x 4,2 x 1,5cm
110/220V (bivolt) - 44,4W

Not very informative, but there it is.
 
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