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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone - this is my first post. I recently got into aquascaping and after a lot of research ordered Adana products. Now, I've had the tank cycling for 1 week. I have no fish yet, but I already have algae. I used Powersand and Amazonia II soil which set my current pH at 6.4. The ammonia is off the charts at 8. I have a 38gal tank with a canister Eheim filter and a powerful light which is on 8-12 hrs a day. Temp is around 76-80F. For substrates I used were Bacter 100 (generous amount), Tourmaline BC, Penac W, Penac P, and Clear Water. I also added Top Fin's Bacteria Supplement. I have 12 plants in the tank - anubias, java moss, etc.

Here's the problem: I have what looks like three different types of algae. One is on some plants and looks like short hairs. The other is on most plants and appears as brown deposits on the leaves. The third one appears on just one driftwood - white, milky and slimy clusters on wood. The plant leaves are already rotting and the water is murky white - getting clearer. I've attached pictures of all three. Any help with algae identification and solution would be most highly appreciated. Thanks. :pray:

Gary
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Does any know a possible solution to this problem? I can't seem to figure this one out. Any help would be highly appreciated.
 

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The ammonia levels seem to be quite high. If the test is indeed accurate then you will want to do a few large water changes over the course of the week to reduce the ammonia, especially if you want to add fish anytime soon.

The short hairs are probably black beard algae (BBA) from what I can see in the picture. This algae goes away with good CO2 levels, or if you dose flourish excel directly onto the algae with a syringe.

The second picture isn't that clear, but it looks like the java leaf is decaying which happens sometimes due to old age. If there is indeed a film covering the leaf and it comes off easily, then it is diatoms (they aren't algae). They will go away on their own and usually show up in new tanks.

The third picture looks like fungus to me which sometimes happens when you add wood to the tank. That should also go away on its own within a few days or so. It isn't harmful at any rate.

The milky white water is from a bacterial bloom. This will subside on its own when the nutrients released by the soil have settled. The bacteria is using the ammonia/organics to grow so water changes should help reduce this problem.

Also, I would suggest you lower your lighting duration to 7 hours for the first few weeks until the tank stabilizes, otherwise you will get some horrific algae problems. What type of light are you using? What are the watts, and spectrum (Kelvin rating).

Your tank doesn't look too bad though. Hope this helps :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks a whole lot for the tips, Zapins. Here's my current situation:

The milky water is now almost crystal clear. The plants are starting to grow and are releasing new leaves. But now the algae problem is more intense. The fungus on the tree (third picture) has spread and now short hairs are growing through it. Some plants have died. What worries me the most, however are the amounts of dust on plants and with the soil. The stuff stirs up really easily and might release more ammonia into the tank. I have a feeling it's Amazonia II soil. What do you think I should do?

Thanks
G
 

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it is VERY early in the life of your tank, just give stuff time....
 

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ADA AquaSoil is famous for releasing tons of ammonia in the beginning. Your nutrifying bacteria has to grow to mass to catch up. The plants I can see are all slow growers. It helps so much to cram your tank with fast growing plants at first. They can use the ammonia up before algae can get a grip. It really makes a difference in whether you get algae or not. It's not to late to add some of these plants. They will outcompete the algae and it will not be able to grow since it has no nutrients (all used by the fast growing plants). Buy some cheap fast growers like wisteria, hornwort, hygros, ludwigias, etc. Floaters like frogbit, salvinia, red root floater will also help as they block the light and use the ammonia.

1. Reduce light (ditto on what Zappins said).
2. Remove algae, trim plants affected, spot dose with excel.
3. Cram tank with fast growers.
4. Do water changes.

The following was advice from someone else about water changes. (Sorry I don't know their name.) It's great.

In terms of [AquaSoil]the first month is the most crucial month because in this time frame you are doing alot of things......
Just to give you an example(of course this regiment is not the absolute)
-water change everyday and adding plants and setting up the tank in first week
-water change every other day and perhaps adding some algae eaters second week
-water change twice or once a week and adding more algae eaters and some fish
***notice also you can add fertilizers even during the first week***
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the replies. I think the dust now has become the main culprit as it's settling onto the plants and is suffocating them. The soil is now very saturated with dust. Lost 4 more plants over the the weekend. At this point, I'm not sure it's worth replanting the plants. I'm thinking to switch back to start over and switch to regular soil aqua soil. What do all of you think? If I fix the algae problem, will the dust (which I suspect is from Amazonia II soil) issue be ale to be fixed or will it always be present?

Thanks again for your help
 

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When using AquaSoil, you must be very careful not to stir up the soil. Do not pull the plant out of the soil. If you must, cut the root and leave it in the soil. Also, you need to be very careful when changing water. You must pour it in a way so that it will not stir up the substrate.

As for algae problem... AquaSoil and Power Sand are very rich in fertilizer. This will result in algae for a new tank if not treated properly. You should 1) plant A LOT of rapidly growing plant that will suck up all the extra fertilizer, 2) use a second filter with activated carbon to suck up ammonia and 3) do water change every day for a week or until ammonia level becomes normal. This should prevent massive growth of algae in the beginning.

First tank is always very difficult. Be patient. Sometime it is necessary to let the water settle.
 

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pikovsg - hate to tell you but I had the same problem with Amazonia II. I fought it for 4-5 months. I eventually switched over the Amazonia regular. Nothing helped. I was NOT moving plants around causing dust. You can click on my 125g link at the bottom of my sig for the full story. It was horrible. I think they made some bad batched of the stuff, because some say they have not had any problems.
 

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pikovsg - hate to tell you but I had the same problem with Amazonia II. I fought it for 4-5 months. I eventually switched over the Amazonia regular. Nothing helped. I was NOT moving plants around causing dust. You can click on my 125g link at the bottom of my sig for the full story. It was horrible. I think they made some bad batched of the stuff, because some say they have not had any problems.
I guess i am a member of this club. For me, it was with regular amazonia and PowerSand special. Fortunately, i heard that Amazonia II had some issues, but note that Amano is still recommending it for hard water areas (which is what i believe he said at the Atlanta AGA meeting). My tanks had no measureable NH4 on or before week 4. I changed water very very frequently-- 50% per day for the first week! Every other day for week 2-3. I did this mostly to help clear the water and naively thought that the plants wouldnt mind the ammonia Even with all the water changes they took 4-6 weeks to clear.
I introduced a lot of plants initially, including many fast growing species. This helps alot. Many of the plants did well and there was limited algae (mostly dust and brown algae which was not troublesome).
Although i didnt get the algae from hell, I now believe that i lost several plant species which were sensitive to NH4+. I tested NH4 and then added fish at week 4. However, I wish i tested all along to monitor the change. It would be good to know if levels were low enough to add algae eating fish during week 2 or 3. Perhaps because of the water changes, i didnt have too much algae.... I also got and white fuzz on some of the wood.
In retropect, i should have used zeolite to help suck up the ammonia. I ignored this good advice that i got from Tom Barr. I really thought that water changes would be sufficient. There is always something new to learn!
To control other algae that developed during month 2, i decreased the light during and intensity. I should have done this from day one. Initially i was running 4 T5HO's for 12hrs. I changed to two @ 10 hours and four at 5 hours. This abated some of the algae. I didnt realize how much light i was getting from my Tek lights. Reduced lighting is important as Zapins recommends. Less light helps stabilize the nutrient levels and prevent stuff from running out. That is another complication with the ADA setup which does not encourage adding nutrients for the first month. I finally added 2 SAEs to one tank during month 2. SAEs are highly recommended for red and other hair algae. A few more algae eaters in all my tanks on or before 4 weeks would have been better. Ramshorn were all i had been using in 2 tanks. Now that i am upping light and nutrients, i am adding ottos and more SAEs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This is a bit overwhelming. As this is my first fish tank since childhood (20 years ago), I don't think I should have gone with the ADA setup. I've done a ton of research prior to getting the aquarium, but it seems like the research I've done is not enough for an ADA setup. Amazonia II seems like the soil for a seasoned fish-keeper, and not someone who is just starting out. Being in Boston, I talked to a few local pet shops and none of them know of ADA and Amano. The replies I got were in tune of "This seems to be a very advanced substrate system" and "we have no idea how to even begin to deal with this". So with that said, I feel like I should take the soil out and restart again with Flourite or Eco-complete. I still would very much like to keep a lot of plants in the tank. What do you think? What kind of substrate would you recommend? What kind of additives? I have a "Jungle" brand tablet CO2 system in the tank, but it's hard to measure it and I'm not sure if I'm ready for CO2 with my experience. Any advise would be huge.
 

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This is a bit overwhelming. As this is my first fish tank since childhood (20 years ago), I don't think I should have gone with the ADA setup. I've done a ton of research prior to getting the aquarium, but it seems like the research I've done is not enough for an ADA setup. .
I agree that it is complicated. More information is needed even for the seasoned gardener. I certainly could have benefited from better and more accessible info. I understand that ADA is working on that thru their new web site.

So with that said, I feel like I should take the soil out and restart again with Flourite or Eco-complete.
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I dont recommend it at this point. You may be over the hump. Now you can take advantage of some of the other advantages of that substrate.... unless the particles are decomposing and are not retaining their physical structure.

I still would very much like to keep a lot of plants in the tank. What do you think? What kind of substrate would you recommend? What kind of additives? I have a "Jungle" brand tablet CO2 system in the tank, but it's hard to measure it and I'm not sure if I'm ready for CO2 with my experience. Any advise would be huge.
You definitely need to get the algae under control. It means a lot of trimming, adding algae eaters, doing large and frequent water changes, reducing light, adding more algae free plants, etc. Something else not mentioned is to be sure that the plants have sufficient nutrients -- of everything, including the major macro nutrients (NPK), hardness minerals(Ca, Mg) and then the suite of traces. Dose small at first. Some of these may be in your tap water, supplied thru water changes, but maybe not. Of course the no. 1 macro nutrient is carbon. I am not sure whtat you get with Jungle. Sufficient carbon or CO2 is critical , so you may also look into Seachem excel (which i personally have not used), or CO2 injection. Adding baking soda can also supply carbon, since the substrate makes the water acid. Low pH shifts the carbonate equilbrium from carbonates /bicarbonates to CO2. Less light will make the plants less needy for C and the other nutrients which helps something from running out. Algae can do better in imbalanced nutrient situations.
--Neil
 

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You can also dose Prime if your ammonia is still over the top. I changed water every other day dosing prime with w/c and on opposite days dosed Prime again. I cramed my tank with fast growers. I limited light. IT will subside. Just hang in there. ADA Aquasoil is the BEST. Sometimes it takes 6 -8 weeks for ammonia to stop and become 0. When you finally get it kind of low add some ottos, amano shrimp and black mollies. Mollies will eat algae. I would spot dose Excell onto algae, it would die and the clean up crew would eat it. Wonderful work.

Like Frank said- if your soil feels like little gravels it's still ok. Mine felt like mud, compact and slimy. If you have a diatom filter stick that on to clear up any dust clouds. Also with your water change you can go carefully along the plants and soil and try to suck up the dust. It might be that the dust is dead diatoms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks - this gives me hope. I'll check the soil status tonight and see if the substrate is still holding together. If it is, I'll cram the tank with new plants. Any particular way you seed the plants in with minimal dust clouds. I'll get some Excel online as well. Do you suggest using Easy-Life Easycarbo instead of CO2 with my experience? I checked on ammonia status – still unchanged, of the charts high. Nitrates and Nitirites are also there at very high levels. I pruned the plants and took out the dead ones. The algae on the tree is starting to take over the tree. Is there a good place to get Excel quickly? Should I be doing 20% water changes every day?
 

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I haven't read the whole thread, but what I find interesting about newbies using AS is that if they came from having fish only tanks they are used to doing massive gravel washes to take waste out. This is a definite no-no with AS. I'm not saying you did this, but you simply can't stir-up the substrate, it's soil, not sand. I'm using AS II in several tanks right now and really like the stuff. If I do rearrange hardscape or plants and the AS gets stirred up I have a 1/2" filter hose at the ready and just suck that area right out of the tank. If you can use the soil without stirring it up alot it's actually a good beginner soil IMO since it's very forgiving in terms of adding water column ferts. I've had tanks setup with AS and AS II for years and still don't fertilize religiously.

Other than not stirring up the soil the biggest factor IMO with new tank setups are the lights. In the first month you simply don't need to run lights more than five/six hours period. At this point I would trim where you can and suck out anything you can with the hose I mentioned and keep up with water changes. You could do them daily for a few days then go to weekly if the tank looks O.K. If you keep your lights in control you should be able to rebound assuming your other things are inline.
 

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You can get Excel at the big box pet stores, LFS and online. I don't know where you are or if you have access to a Petsmart or Petco, etc. My local Petsmart carries it. It's cheaper by far online.
 

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CO2 will help no matter how experienced you are.

Honestly your tank doesn't seem too bad. I think you should give it time, keep the lights on for 7-8 hours and let things settle. Virtually all new tanks have algae issues, so what you are experiencing is not uncommon. Don't waste more money until you know it won't work.

If in two months time your tank hasn't settled in then you might want to think about getting another substrate to cap the aquasoil. Fluorite or eco-complete are good choices for this. Ultimately even in the worst case scenario you won't need to tear the tank down or get rid of the aquasoil.

Patience :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Just ordered Excel from a local shop. That should cover part one – getting rid of the mass algae on the log. What about taking that log out and boiling it for 10-15 minutes? For part two I'm planning to go get a bunch of plants tonight and plant them into the tank. Are there specific ways to plant the plants without stirring up dust clouds that have worked for all you in the past? How often should I be changing water? I think my light is two 50W tubes turned on 8-9 a day. The tank is 36"x12" and is 20" high at 38gallons.
 

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If your ammonia numbers are still off the charts I would change 40% of water every other day. If not, but a little high then 2 x a week. If you can take the log out then you can use peroxide to treat it. See this link.
http://www.gpodio.com/h2o2.asp
You can also use a weak bleach dip of 20:1 water to bleach. Make sure afterward that you rinse the log and then soak in HEAVY prime/water solution. Since it's wood and porous I'd lean to the peroxide. It just turns to water and oxygen.

You can use tweezers to plant the plants. There are cheap sets on Ebay. I got my set there. Many sellers have these. Here is a link.
http://cgi.ebay.com/Aquarium-Plants-Landscaping-Tools-Aquascapin-Kit-5-Pcs_W0QQitemZ120108381171QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0

Are your lights T5's?
 
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