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Seeking your opinion on my algae strategy.

978 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Seattle_Aquarist

Just seeking some view on my strategy for dealing with my algae issues. I've described my circumstances and steps below and would value your opinions. I suppose the strategy is working but I just want to know if I am doing something inadvisable which is going to cause issues for me in the longer term and just lead to another problem.

I have converted a 6'x2'x2' (180g) tank to an emergent planted scheme with a couple of cascades at one end to add interest (I've only half filled it so its about 120g including a 20g sump). I know this is a mistake, from CO2 retention perspective but I didn't know much about C02 then and I'll explain how I'm dealing with it shortly. and a 800g/hr main pump.

It was a reef tank so I have the original reef lighting system (Arcadia 3x 250w MH). I have fitted C02 (I had most of the CO2 stuff from my calcium reactor - so buying the Co2 reactor was a minor additional expense) and I've upped the bubble count (2-3/sec) to compensate for the sump and cascades.

I have a wide range of plants (crypts, swords, lotus, bolbitis, spadderdock etc) and some fish (6-7 small rainbows, 4-5 catfish and a clown loach or two) just to add some movement for my kids.

Current stats are pH 7.1, KH 10, GH 80, PO4=0.5ppm, NH3=0.

I've had it for about 3 months and going through the usual algae battle (hair algae, fuzz and a little BBA). I suspect much of this is from the excess nutrients (Fe particularly) leaching from the laterite but I think I'm getting on top of it due to the stuff I've read in these forums which have been really helpful (increasing C02 for example - which is having an effect already on the BBA).

I've also reduced the lighting by taking out one of the 250w lamps from the MH light housing as I think this is contributing to the problem (still leaves me with the other two and 4-5 watts/g which is OK I think). I also turn off the lights for a couple of hours in the middle of the day as I read that this also significnatly impedes algal development (something about algae being simple plants that take time tor ramp up their photosynthesis and switching off the lights interrupts this substantially).

I've also read alot about the Excel stuff in these forums so I followed that advice and I have quite an immediate pleasing result. I'll continue this treatment for another couple weeks.

I'm also thinking of reducing my circulation rate (my current pump is about 800g/hr) and getting a smaller pump) as I'm conscious that the cascades I have, sump filter etc are not helping my CO2 retention.

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Hi gronk709,

Although I haven't had any experience with MH. I certainly have had experience with algae. I firmly believe in using Excel, at least initially until passing the initial startup phase. Although I have CO2, I continue to dose with Excel to minimize algae growth in my tanks. Here is what Excel did for me and how I dosed it (see page 20; post 193):

In fact, Excel worked so well I went ahead and bought Glutaraldehyde and have been using it with the same excellent results. I currently dose Excel at 1X recommended dose unless I see some signs that algae is trying to take hold, then I go to 2X.
BTW, Excel helps to add carbon to the system for plant growth similar to CO2.

I didn't see a lot of stem plants, like hygro, rotala, or ludwigia or rapid growers like watersprite listed for your tank. Stem plants do a great job of helping keep my nutrient levels in check when I first start up a tank.
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I found adding KNO3 helped me keep BBA under control along with excell. Probably helped for my water is very soft. Also reduce your lights, for lights are the engine to everything.

How about a picture of the tank?
Hi. Sorry to not get back sooner, but I was away with work. Appreciate the prompt response.

Just to report that all is going well. The Flourish Excel certainly knocked over all the algae. I used double doses (double initial and then double maintenance) for 5 days. Pretty much all the algae was gone by then. I have been using standard doses for a week since and no problems. However, I can see that this is going to be expensive, so I will likely start a PPS dosing regime in the next few weeks - just a soon as I'm sure everything is behaving itself. I'll keep the Excel in reserve for those "special" occasions.

I also increased CO2 injection, reduced lighting (took out one bulb and reduced the photo-period to 8 hours continious) all without any contradictory results.

I neglected to say that I do have a lot of stem plants. I should have mentioned them - sorry. I have hygro, stricta, rotala, E.barthii, some watersprite. Its a bit of a grab bag as I wanted to see what grew and what did not. it seems that everything is growing. And - yes. I take your point about stem plants. I am told that they metabolise nutrients 10 times or so faster than fully submerged or "soft" plants.

I will post a picture - just as soon as I find a camera.

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Hi gronk709,

I'm glad to hear that you are getting a handle on the algae issues, I think most tanks go through some algae problems at start up. I will say that my tank is not totally "algae free", but using Excel / Glutaraldehyde has made it basically unnoticeable.

I found that with several aquariums using the Flourish line (including Excel) got expensive pretty quickly, although I got excellent results. I decided to go with DIY fertilizers and after several months of research decided on the PPS-Pro system. I see no difference in plant growth utilizing the PPS-Pro guidelines verses the Seachem Flourish product line.

Excel was the one Flourish product that I continued to use until a few months ago. I found the following thread on APC and purchased some Glutaraldehyde as a result. My post is #114 on page 12: It took some research, but I found a website in India where testing determined that the concentration of Glutaraldehyde in Excel was 1.5%. I now mix up my own Glut 1.5% solution for $1.66 a liter and I see no difference using it verses Excel. The best part is that I can mix up higher concentration solutions and reduce the ml per dose. Hope this helps!
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