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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello.

My 32 gal was stabilized for 4 months and I introduced Elodea sp. to it with an standard lamp (1 bulb, 20 W). I added, just for fun, a DIY CO2 system and the Elodea sp. literaly bloomed. Since this success with and easy plant I decided to dump the elodea, and move into a more elaborate planted aquarium. Therefore bought a new lamp, a pressurized CO2 system and added a layer of a new substrate, at episodes. I first bought the lamp, programmed ot a timer for 10 hours of light however, it came with two 10000K bubls and two 12000K bulbs, I left them for a while 15 days and brown algae (I never had it before) literraly covered my aquarium (i was on vacation so it was a catastrophe). I cleaned it, did a water change, and changed the 12000K bulbs for two 3600K. I decided to add the new substrate and CO2 system since i read that CO2 and a little more of acidity might bring down the algae bloom. It did slow it down, however, now I have green algae and green hair algae which pearl and pearl for hours to be, while the brown algae is receding or at least growing slowly.

I am monitoring the aquarium weekly and it has these stable values:

Hardness 80 ppm
Alkalinity 200 ppm
pH 8.0
Nitrites 0 ppm
Nitrates 0 ppm

Even if I increase the CO2 bpm count, the pH doesn´t seem to go down from 8.0. I removed a limestone rock to try to reduce my alkalinity and therefore reduce the pH to fight off the algae bloom. Needles to say, the few plants that are left seem to be getting browner and weaker, instead of growing, only the green algae seems happy and pearling. I take the growth of algae as a signal of the presence of ammonia, phosphate, and such nutrients.

Any tips on what should I do next to save my plants?

Any help/tips?

Tank:

32g Long
84 watts of fluorescent lighting (T5 21WX4: 2x10000K, 2X3600K)
CO2 Pressurized system @ 1.5 bpm
Driftwood
Second nature Cascade filter
Powerhead at 60 gal/hr
1 dose sechem fluorish and iron once a week.
30% weekly water change
Fed once a day
More specs at my profile

Plants:
HYGROPHILA POLYSPERMA
BACOPA SP. 'PANTANAL'
CABOMBA CAROLINIANA VAR. CAROLINIANA
Java moss remnants

Fish:

2 Cychlids

These are pictures of the current state of my aquarium:





 

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I noticed a couple things that might explain your problem.

#1. Your CO2. By 1.5 bpm, do you mean 1.5 bubbles per MINUTE? If so, that is far too low to add the carbon the plants need under that much light. 1.5 bubbles per second would sound better, but bubble count is purely subjective - a measure for your tank only. This is used once you have objectively measured your CO2 (do a search on here for "drop checker", easy way to accurately gauge your in-tank CO2 ppm.) to keep in a similar range. For example, just running the CO2 line into your aquarium @ 1 bps would give much different results than running it through a diffuser or reactor @ 1 bps.
#2. Nutrients. The presence of algae does not mean that there are adequate nutrients in the tank to grow plants. You will need to add Macro nutrients for the plants to live/grow. Nitrogen/Phosphorous/Potassium, plus trace elements(which you already have, in the form of the Flourish). There are many different fertilizing plans available, depending on how you want your tank to grow. Take a look in the Science of Aquatic Fertilizing section on here for some ideas of what might work for you - look at the PPS-Pro and the EI plans for a general idea. But remember, plants need far more carbon than anything else to grow, so straighten out your co2 first.
#3. Light - Your lights are nice, but they might be too much without the first two elements i mentioned in place. The problem with too much light is you run into problems (algae) very quickly. Maybe try only using 2 of the 4 bulbs until you feel comfortable with everything else. It will still be plenty to grow the plants you have.
#4. very general in nature, spend a couple hours reading up on some of the "how to" threads/articles on here, and don't get too frustrated.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for your answer!

1.- I mistyped, it was 1.5 bubbles per second. And I have a CO2 reactor (redsea, it's in the pictures), works like a charm, the CO2 "mist" is uniform. I'd say the CO2 system works perfectly, but still pH won´t go down . Could it be the cascade filter and powerhead surface turbulence? Is it better to remove them and get on to another kind of filtering device?

2.- I agree, I'll read about fertilizing and start with a fertilizing program asap. I assumed wrong about the presence of amonnia, phosphates and potassium due to algae, then.

3.- I've already reduced the length of light periods (8 hours instead of 10) and I'll keep in mind removing two bulbs.

Thank you for your answer!
 

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Another thing that will help with the algae is to add a lot more fast growing plants. They will help asorb the nutrients that the algae also feed on.

The brown algae (diatoms) you have is common in newly setup tanks. Adding a small school of Otto's will help.

You want as less water turbalance (surface agitation) as possible, to keep the C02 loss down. In this case a canister filter would work great.

I just started using a drop checker to measure my C02 levels, I wish I had sooner. These are very easy to use. You can tell if your C02 levels are:too low,Good or too high at a glance. I highly recommend you get one to determine if your C02 levels are indeed good.
 

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I would say, get a drop-checker (check out Green Leaf Aquariums, they have a nice one for a good price.)and then turn the CO2 up. Make sure to keep an eye on your fish too, if they seem stressed or start gasping at the surface turn it back down and agitate the co2 out of the water. (air stone, HOB filter)

After I got a drop checker, I found my CO2 levels were much lower than I assumed.

The key to algae is understanding it is usually linked to ammonia + high light in the tank, which fast growing stem plants will help filter out. The ammonia could be leaking out of your existing plants as well, so as soon as they get healthy the algae will likely recede. Don't be afraid of phosphates either, it has pretty much been disproven that higher phosphate levels lead to algae outbreaks.
Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have a drop checker (it came with the CO2 pro system) and it is always blue, no matter if I raise CO2 to 3 bps. Turned off the cascade filter to avoid loss of CO2, added some Vallisneria sp. and Elodea sp. (fast growing are they?) to compete with the algae. Couldn't find fertilizer, had to order it.

Fingers crossed.

4 hours later after water change, these are the parameters:

TH 0
Alk 180 ppm
pH 7.5
NO2- 0
NO3- 0

After all these changes, fish seem as happy as ever. Algae, too! :p
 

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Looks like the CO2 is at least registering with your pH drop, but that could be from something else. to use the drop checker accurately, you need to add 4dKH solution instead of tank water, mixed with the pH reagent. this gives an even, accurate scale to judge the color against, since @ 4dKH, true green is roughly 30 ppm. I'm not familiar with the red sea reactor, but I've heard it maxes out around 2 bps. I had a much larger reactor that would back-log with gases after a couple hours. If you are seeing a build-up of gas inside the reactor, you might need a more efficient way to add co2 - look here for a cheap easy idea that would get you where you need to be. I implemented something similar, and it works remarkably well.

As for the algae... IME, it gets worse before it gets better, especially since you will have to wait a little bit for the ferts. Some sage advice I read on here - focus on the plants, be diligent with manual removal, and after you start fertilizing, look at this thread for an effective way to finally kick the algae in the butt. And most important, don't get too frustrated. Once things start working, it will be worth it. :)
 

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I have a drop checker (it came with the CO2 pro system) and it is always blue, no matter if I raise CO2 to 3 bps. Turned off the cascade filter to avoid loss of CO2, added some Vallisneria sp. and Elodea sp. (fast growing are they?) to compete with the algae. Couldn't find fertilizer, had to order it.

Fingers crossed.

4 hours later after water change, these are the parameters:

TH 0
Alk 180 ppm
pH 7.5
NO2- 0
NO3- 0

After all these changes, fish seem as happy as ever. Algae, too! :p
Once you get your ferts in aim for 10ppm of Nitrates & keep the phosphates at 1ppm.

Those plants should grow fast for you. Get has many fast growers in there as you can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
I just wanted to thank you all for your guidance and advice on the terrible algae bloom I had recently, I wanted to share my solution for all those who have the same problem.

As people here advised, I lowered by an hour the photoperiod, and made 30% water changes weekly. I added fast growing plants such as Cabomba sp., Ceratophyllim sp., Vallisneria sp. and Egeria densa, to suck up the nutrients. I raised the CO2 to 3 bps, used a bit of AZOO pH lower and that stopped the growth, it was then when I started dosing with 2 times the recommended dose of Seachem Fluorish EXCEL and in just a week: POOF! Algae was gone.

However, this left a lot of dead algae in my substrate, and about a week later, I started dosing the Potassium Nitrate (lab grade) and before I could say "grow"I had pearling cyanobacteria (gree-blue algae) now blooming in my substrate, I tried sucking it up but didn't work. I did two things to stop in on its tracks: changed the 3500K lightbulbs to 10000Ks and added a single 500 mg dose of claritromicin. Two days later a 50% water change and so far it hasn't come back. Though I still have a lot of debris on my substrate.

BTW, I added a canister filter (instead of cascade) lately to see if the gravel got less debris, doesn't seem to have quite an effect on it. Any advice? Is physical removal the only way?

Anyway, I wanted to add some pictures of the tank after all these changes, see for yourself the improvement! It was well worth it!

Plants now thriving in my tank:

LOBELIA CARDINALIS
EGERIA DENSA
HYGROPHILA CORYMBOSA 'SIAMENSIS' (personal favorite)
CABOMBA CAROLINIANA VAR. CAROLINIANA
BACOPA SP. 'PANTANAL'
CERATOPHYLLYM DEMERSUM

UNIDENTIFIED SPECIES (SMALL, WHITISH ON THE VERY FRONT OF THE LOBELIA, came along as debris with the LOBELIA and just grew, any help to identify it would be thanked)

Fish:
Two Hybrid "False parrot" cichilids.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
21 days later (sic) from the first pictures:









I can't believe those Hygrophila and the Cabomba are the same from the first pictures! (I just put them more up front).

This is the plant I haven't identified yet. Any help from acuabotanists out there?




Thanks to you all!
 

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Getting like 3 to 5 ottocinclus should help with the clean up process, otherwise just doing some good vaccuming on your next few water changes should help. You will probably want to vac soon so you don't get ammonia and nitrite spikes from the decaying material.

The plant is hygrophila polysperma "Sunset." It's a beautiful plant and I am think I am gonna try and get some soon.
 
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