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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I recently upgraded to a bigger tank (46 gallon bowfront) and a pressurized CO2 system. My previous attempts at high light tanks had been hampered by algae since I was using yeast CO2. Plants just didn't grow well, or grew well one week and then sat stagnant for the next two weeks. I had black beard and green dust algae issues. I fertilized regularly to no avail.

I thought adding pressurized CO2 would solve all that...but it seems it hasn't. I have a 2x96W CF light on the 46 gallon tank, and I only ran 1 bulb for the first two weeks. CO2 was at about 3 bubbles per second. Everything went well. Some brown algae growth, but the ottos took care of that. Then I decided to try adding the second bulb. I put it on for only 3 hours during mid-day. The algae rolled in. Within days my anubias were coated with black brush algae. Within a week my glass was coated with green dust algae and the brown algae returned with a vengeance. Up until I turned the lights on, I had been fertilizing lightly, and then upped the ferts a bit with the second light. I also started adding Excel. I do a weekly 30% water change following the EI method. All my macro ferts are within normal levels (according to test kits).

What am I doing wrong?
 

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What am I doing wrong?
If you get an answer that works, be sure to let me know. I've been fighting the exact same issue. Do you have a drop checker? How are you measuring (estimating) CO2 ppm? I think I might be on the right track now. What I'm doing is cranking the CO2 up until I get max pearling. Color is more on the yellow side that green, but I think it's doing better. Watching fish and plant...that seems to be a key.
 

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That's a lot of light. You don't have much room for error with that amount of light, if things are a little out of balance you'll get algae real quick. You also need a lot of fast growing stem plants with that much light. Do you have those?Why are you using that much light?
 

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Most run way too long of a photo period with high light setups. The same way that higher light gives you less room for error so dose the longer photo period. What plants are you growing that need this kind of light? And how long is you photo period?
 

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trying to give an answer online with different water parameter and plant selection is tough. I can only suggest following for now:
-up your water change to 50% weekly if not, 30% every 2-3days
-turn off your other light for now
-make sure you have the adequate co2 level (get a ph and a kh test)
-clean your glass regularly, don't wait till it builts up
 

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Ditto what Houseofcards asked about substrate, light duration and plant mass. If you just recently set all this up and put nothing but slow growers in the aquarium but the ferts are dosed to "the normal levels" you could easily have an issue especially by doubling the light..

On the up side, it sounds like you noticed a distinct difference just from the lighting (but don't forget you also added more ferts). Go back to the setup you had when things were going well and get things back to "good". Then try again but more slowly with the lighting i.e. just a couple of hours with the 2nd light and little or no more ferts until your test kit shows a deficiency or you see one in the plants. Change one thing and give it a week or two to settle. About the only thing that happens quickly in this hobby is algae growth when something goes wrong.
 

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Green dust algae on the glass is common. I scape my tank every week, I just think of it as normal maintenance. I think those who don't have that are considered "lucky". Brown algae (diatoms) are typical of new tanks. How long have you had this set-up? I would expect that to go away after time and Otos should help a lot with that. That leaves your other algae...Black beard. All I can say is make sure your CO2 is tuned in right. I won't repeat what others said about light and ferts. Treating the beard algae with excel will help get rid of it. You can use a syringe and dose it right around the algae. Turn of the filters and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. It should kill it fast. Also Siamese algae eaters do a good job with beard algae.
Good luck!
 

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Growing plants and fending off algae is a matter of balance. Injected CO2 is a great help, but as you found, it's not the single answer. If it was, everyone would get it and be algae free.

Here's my way of obtaining a balance.

1. Ensure excellent filtration. Many planted tanks require more filtration than non-planted tanks.

2. Injected CO2 is an excellent choice and one of the things to be done early. Now work with your CO2 to dose about 30ppm or more, especially since you have BBA. There are charts that can help you determine what pH you need to reach to obtain 30ppm, but just as a basic rule of thumb, dropping one full pH point will get you in the ballpark. So with my pH being 8.0, I got for about 7.0 pH with the CO2.

Also get a drop checker to help give you a visual guide to how close or far you are from 30ppm. Blue is low, green is okay, yellowish green is great and I push mine even past that to more of a greenish yellow.

And as mentioned above, check for when your plants are pearling. If they aren't, check your CO2.

However, as you inch the CO2 up more and more, keep a close eye on your fish for signs of stress. If they begin gasping at the surface, take the CO2 down a notch. That will then be the highest amount of CO2 you can inject.

3. Get your ferts ready. I recommend dry ferts with the EI program (water changes are 50% weekly, not 30%).

4. Buy lots and lots and LOTS of plants. Fill the tank full. Get cheap plants to fill the tank while your permanent plants are growing in. Having a large plant mass will do wonders for preventing algae.

5. Now add the plants and start using the ferts. Cutting the ferts in half does not prevent the ferts from being in the water column, it simply means your plants are only getting 1/2 of the ferts they need. Do not cut the ferts. Instead, increase the plant mass.

Be very religious with your ferts. Every morning as lights go on. Alternate macros and micros, skipping just one day a week to create a 6 day rotation. You can toss the dry macro ferts directly in tank, but you'll need to mix the micro ferts with water in advance. Don't skip on the ferts. It it to plants what skipping a day of food would be to you.

6. Keep your lights LOW. The lowest successful setting is best. With the amount of lighting you have on that tank, I would only run 1 bulb, never both. Consider the second bulb a backup.

At this point, if you have your CO2 raised high enough, you'll notice the BBA will stop spreading. Now what you have left to do is kill/remove the BBA that's already in the tank. It won't disappear on it's own.

This is where Excel and/or H2O2 treatments can help. Also, physically cut off the leaves with BBA to get rid of that. I have overdosed Excel and H2O2 in my 75g tank with 55 amano shrimp without a problem.

Keep removing the BBA until you're finally rid of it. You can get rid of it because you've raised your CO2 up high enough to stop it from spreading. So you will no longer have the problem of removing some BBA only to have more grow overnight. You'll know when the BBA stops spreading. You'll clean off your intake or outflow tubes, and then you'll notice they aren't getting BBA again.

There is no magic bullet. It's a balancing act. Concentrate mostly on the plants. If you stock your tank with lots of plants, give them all the CO2 and ferts they want and then MATCH that with the amount of light that gets them pearling, but no more than that, then you'll have plants growing like magic.

Do these things in these steps, keeping in mind that you should always keep the lights low before planting, and then use the very lowest amount of light you can use for the plants to pearl. Inch the light up only slightly at a time (15 more minutes longer photoperiod, for example).

None of this works for GDA. I like having it because it feeds my SAEs and Nerites. Otherwise, the rule of thumb on that is to let it completely take your glass over, and in 3-4 weeks, it will die off on its own (vacuum up the remains) and will be gone. I never have that much patience.

Good luck! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all your replies. Here is some additional info: My substrate is ADA Aquasoil Amazonia. This somewhat complicates the CO2 issue. It's been lowering my tap water (7.5-8.0) to around 6.0-6.5 pH. So I'm not sure if this is interfering with my CO2 calculations. I should have 30+ ppm. KH is 0-1 degree. GH is 0-1 degree. A drop checker will give inaccurate results in certain conditions, right?

As for plants, I have a big mass of Rotala as my "mop" plant, but even that is suffering. It should be growing like a weed. Lower leaves have a brownish almost translucent tinge to them, but this could just be a coating of algae. I also have lots of java ferns, anubias, dwarf hair grass, and moss. The bumping up of the light was mainly to get my hair grass lawn to grow in, which it hasn't done under the lower light. Maybe just an incompatible match up of plants? What's a better low light lawn if that's the case?

The BBA has stopped spreading and I've cut the worst infected leaves off, so I know I'm doing something right. Light period is 10 hours.

I just made an auto-dosing system as well out of a powerhead, a pitcher full of fert mix, and a digital timer. Hopefully dosing a little every day will help keep my ferts level and in check. I've also turned my CO2 up a bit, since my most of my plants don't pearl at the moment (only the java fern does a bit). I'm hoping this will help.
 

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Are you using 4KH solution in your drop checker? If you use that it should be accurate under all conditions.

Do you have a picture of the tank? It may help us get an idea of whats going on.

Remember its going to take time for algae to go away and for plants to respond to different light, ferts, etc. It will not happen overnight or even in a week.
 

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Toss that drop checker in the trash and learn how to use CO2. As long as you use a crutch, you'll never discover the possibilities and you will be far more willing to second guess yourself. The vast majority of problems people have is with CO2. They think it's adequate, but it's not, and they blame something else and start running in circles like a dog chasing its tail.

For CO2 rookies, leave the fish out for a while and experiment. Blast the tank with CO2 and find out what is really possible; discover the dynamics of nutrient uptake rates, what algae appear in certain conditions, how to beat it, and most importantly--how to grow great plants. Then add fish (lower the CO2 first) and discover the fact that you need to work around sheer quantity and balance it with efficient distribution methods.

Having Aquasoil means nothing. I have Aquasoil and use 100% RO water. The only additives I use are CO2, N, P, K (typical powders), and Tropica traces. It doesn't get much more simple than that, and there's nothing I can't grow. Don't make excuses; drop the charts and the petty particulars. Get your hands dirty and make mistakes. Keep it simple and you might just find all that you've been looking for all along.
 

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I have done co2 with fish as a beginner and had no problems. A drop checker is not the end all, but it is a good base line it will only be a crutch if you let it. I shoot for a kh4 and a gh of 4. With a high light tank try for a 6 hour photo period until things get in line. This will increase your margin for error, I use this trick with a lot of beginners. If you fish can take it slowly push the co2 up just a little a day till you notice stress signs. When they stress back off a little and it is set. When things are right the bba will turn grey then white as it dies off.
 

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With a high light tank try for a 6 hour photo period until things get in line.
I don't understand the reasoning for that at all. Cutting the light period far below than what it should be will only cut algae back temporarily and cause the plant growth to slow down, which is what you do not want. It is just a matter of balance, and cutting the light duraation in half is not going to make things balance out. I have never keep my light period below 10 hours, and typically I keep it at 12 hours.
 

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I don't understand the reasoning for that at all. Cutting the light period far below than what it should be will only cut algae back temporarily and cause the plant growth to slow down, which is what you do not want. It is just a matter of balance, and cutting the light duraation in half is not going to make things balance out. I have never keep my light period below 10 hours, and typically I keep it at 12 hours.
I think you do understand. "Cutting the light period far below than what it should be will only cut algae back temporarily". The cutback is to get algae under control so you can start over.

I don't think I have a tank with light duration over 10 hours.
 

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I have never keep my light period below 10 hours, and typically I keep it at 12 hours.
I'd love to be able to keep my lights on this long. How many wpg of lighting do you have in your tanks? And what size are the tanks?

I used to run my lights 12 hours a day, but when I started using my TEK lights, I had to cut back. I now run two bulbs (1.44wpg) for 7 hours with a "burst" of all 4 bulbs (2.88wpg) for 5 hours. I hate having such a short photoperiod because I want to see my tank!

How are you managing to get 10-12 hours every day?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
My photo period is 8 hours, so should I reduce it or increase it? I've been upping CO2 daily, and one night my fish really started to feel the effects so I've backed off a bit. My (homemade) drop checker is green to yellow at 4dKH. I've built an auto doser that doses N, K, traces, and Excel daily.

I haven't found I've needed to add phosphate yet, what are the signs of a P deficiency? No green spot algae on the glass.

Things seem to be getting a bit better, though the BBA is still persisting. Although, it's not the compact and tight to the leaf kind like before, it's the bushy long tufts now.Green dust has backed off a bit and so has the brown algae. My hair grass still won't grow though. Guess I have to keep tweaking things.
 

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I hate to bring this up but do you have enough water movement in the tank. Sometimes we don't get a good "mix" of the nutrients and the CO2 to all areas of the tank. So we end up with plants growing well in some areas and not so well in others with algae in places. Are there any "dead" (water flow) areas?

I increased flow in my tank (not necessarily filtration) and things have really begun to pop!
 

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There is plenty I don't know about algae, but I've come to accept two simple rules.

Rule #1: If you're having algae issues, 90% of the time, it's due to not enough CO2 for the light you have.

Rule #2: If in doubt, see rule #1.

I'm adding enough CO2 to my 180g tank that the PETA folks will probably come knocking. The pH meter, which is carefully calibrated regularly shows a pH of about 5.6. By the CO2 chart, this would give me around 300 ppm. My drop checker is yellow - and that's with a 5 dKh solution. My W. African chiclids are breeding and the fry are growing up just fine. Amano shrimp show no stress at all and cardinals and rummynose are happy as can be.

Until I cranked the CO2 up, algae issues (thread and BBA) were kicking my rear end for about 4 months. Prior to that, the tank had been almost algae-free for over a year. Watch the fish and drop the pH by 0.1 units per day. They'll let you know when they've had enough. Back it off a tenth or two and you should be all set. You should also see some pretty good pearling if your plant mass is sufficient and you're on top of macros & micros.

Every tank is different and sometimes the solution takes a bit of trial and error. My other 46g medium-light tank is happy as can be with one CO2 bubble per second and a small dose of ferts once every month or two. If in doubt though, see rule number one. ;)
 
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