Aquatic Plant Forum banner
1 - 3 of 3 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
In the last 3 years I've had 4 tanks that were either free of algae or the algae was a direct result of something I did and the problem easily corrected. My opinion is not directly related to EI or PPS but I hope it has some merit. I'd say that in all 4 cases the plants had an "advantage" at some point and they "took over". How did the plants get ahead and how they maintained their dominance I can't say. Here are my assumptions;

Tank 1
Densely planted 55 gal. with extremely vigourous plants from the very beginning. The plants were grown for about 3 weeks in an unsual environment were they reproduced at almost insane rates. After transferring them to a tank containing 100% new Fluorite they continued the fast growth, but not at the same rate. About 2 sq. inches of hair algae appeared about day 5 and a blackout took care of them. The tank ran for about 6 months with no algae whatsoever, no fertilizing of any kind the first 3 months, and very lean additions of N and P later (NO3=2-3, PO4=0.25, 1 ml. of Fluiorish every 4-5 days). Water changes - 5 gals every week.
Assumption, advantages for the plants
The plants had the advantage of being very strong, not transported for days, and functioned 100% from the very beginning.

Tank 2
100% RO and 100% garnet (inert gravel, very much like glass). The algae appeared only if I overdosed a little or if I neglected to dose. Very lean dosing of N, P, Fe, Mg, and Ca.
Assumption, advantages for the plants
The fast growing wisteria in that tank used up all the available nutrients (not that much to start with)
The light was rather low - glosso would always try to grow vertically.

Tank 3
110 watts over a 25 gal., EcoComplete, Peat, Dupla Baccies. Narrow Leaf Java Fern, Anubias, Glosso. GH of 13 due to the EcoComplete. Very little fertilizing amounted to pale plants but no algae at all. Adding small amounts (N=3, P=0.25, Mg to bring the GH to 16, 10 drops Fe/TE daily) of PPS fertilizers and reducing the light period from 10 to 7 hours resulted in explosive growth. Only adding PPS fertilizers did not improve the situation. Algae (BBA, Staghorn) took over when I let the tank evaporate 50% but never appeared again when resuming good care.
Assumption, advantages for the plants
Luis magic hand.
Strong light limits algae, almost sterilizes the entire tank, but plants survive.

Tank 4
5.7 wpg, 100%RO, 100% garnet. Very little fertilizing in the beginning. Severe pale growth. No algae at all. Adding PPS fertilizers up to NO3=10 and PO4=0.5 + Fe/TE and Ca/Mg did not improve the plants. Reducing the light period did not change anything either.
Reducing the light to 3 wpg resulted in explosive plant growth even with no fertilization at all. No algae at all.
Assumption, advantages for the plants
Lack of nutrients limited the algae but the plants grew (pale).
Strong light limits algae, almost sterilizes the tank.

That's all folks!
--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
I liked the last two quotes in that article. Real scientists as it looks, not some internet stars.

Regular maintenance, balance - ok. But here's another thing: I've had tanks which where so stable that even letting them evaporate 30% (months without any maintenance) did not lead to any algae growth. Plants do not die. Actually some plants really explode in growth at times - maybe a seasonal thing, maybe accumulation of certain elements. You can refill the tank whenever you feel like it and nothing changes. No algae, no disbalances. If I remember correctly there where also periods when the lights were on/off on a funky schedule because the timers got messed up after power outages. My point is - here's an indestructible tank that does not develop algae despite many basic things being way off.

I have no idea how such extremely stable tank can be intentionally made to happen. The only thing I can think of is that all of these tanks (I've had 3 or 4 like that due to my natural laziness I guess) had a long time to develop. One of these tanks started as just water and gravel (no CO2, very low flow, and not even light!). There where a few fish and there were a few Amano shimp from the beginning. I never planted plants in it - they grew up from seeds in the substrate (was taken from an old tank) I guess and about a year later the tank was full of plants to where there was little room for the fish to swim. There where mosses and some kind of Hygrophila. Also the new plants sprouted for the first time only when the seasons changed - one morning I realized that the tank actually got light - a 1 or 2 hours of sunlight when the sun was raising only.

In these extra stable tanks algae could not live even for a few hours. I've seen BBA completely disappear within 6-8 hours if introduced into such a tank. It just evaporates - maybe it gets really weak and the shrimp eat it. Except 15-20 Amanos cannot take care of every single BBA dot there is in 6-8 hours. It's almost like BBA melts away into the nothing. What caused that? Certainly not low N and P, certainly not low organics. The extra Oxygen that the filter pipe introduces when it discharges 20 cm. above the evaporated tank?

There is something to be said about letting the tank develop naturally. By constantly doing something in the tank we disrupt certain natural processes, some kind of trends. That is especially true if the tank is high speed - lots of light, CO2, nutrients - and if you don't really know what you are doing. A few years ago here on APC I described a way to start a planted tank that employed the idea of very gradual addition of fertilizers - daily amounts which where dictated by the plants themselves. I called it "SubZero" because you could never test the fertilizers with common test kits but if you added them every day you knew they were there. The main point of that approach was to interfere with the natural processes in the tank as little as reasonably possible. By using SubZero you actually end up ramping up the plant's metabolism to a level where you can add considerable amounts of ferts but a few hours after that nothing is left in the water. I have had two algae appearances with that approach (Staghorn and Cladophora) and in both cases stopping the fert additions and two 30% water changes later (over 3 days) got rid of the algae immediately. The Staghorn may disappear easily but the Clado is a different thing. Yet it did disappear completely in 3 days. I used to believe that what was happening was that the tank was forcefully made completely void of macros and micros but now I know I do not know anything.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
Ardjuna,

I reread your algae article a few times because it brings up a lot of good points from different directions which is not common for the planted tank forums around here. Below are two things that you may find interesting:

1. One view is that algae is like a disease and show up as result of stress (bad light, temperature...). You don't know but I am the inventor of the algae-erasing pen using fiberoptic cable to direct UV light at algae and spot burn them from a close distance. After hating algae for may years I realized a simple thing - seeing algae as enemies doesn't have to be so. Look at algae as ancient organisms that have learned to adapt in all kinds of crazy situations. They are way more amazing than any fake digital creature that a billion dollar entertainment outfit can put in front of your eyes. In a way - look at them with respect. That funny mind exercise may help you to look at the tank in a different, broader way. It is not about exterminating, overpowering, and not even about outcompeting. It is about understanding. No wonder we usually fear things we do not understand and fear is often associated with aggression.

2. So I had these few strangely stable tanks which I really cannot describe. I was thinking about them after I wrote my post above. It is indeed strange to have a system that is so stable. Certainly in Nature there is no such extreme resilience and stability. In Nature everyting always changes - high water or drought bring a very different dynamic to the body of water. How is it that I had such unnaturaly stable tanks? I have no answer to that but I think we can look at that like this: An aquarium is an isolated system. At least much more isolated than Nature. So in that system it it possible to have extremes in either direction. There are not very many safety nets, buffers, insurances either way. Extreme instability and extreme stability can happen indeed. Sort of like an antisocial, isolated person. If that is so then we can say that the the average planted tank is one that is more toward the unstable state. There are plenty of posts about people going on vacation and "shutting down" or "slowing down" the tank because without constant care it deteriorates. Deterioration is expected in "New School of Planted Tank"! Tanks that "run slower" (lower light, no CO2, etc) seem to be more toward the stable state.

The title of this thread is misleading. Reduced algae are not a result of some "New School" of higher aquarium education in which just 4 things matter (CO2, ferts, light, and water changes). "New School" is about the effort that you put to force the system in a state we call "clean". Read item 1 above again.

And here's some more about item 2 above: There are enough people that will show pictures of tanks run using EI or PPS that are both "clean" AND stable. Just a few EI fans can show such pictures and there is always the same common thing - these tanks are always old and well established. An old tank is a completely different animal than a new tank (6-12 months old). So you can start your way to stability by forcing things to be your way, then at some point the tank gets established and you certainly attribute that to everything you did. But the truth is you can arrive to that established stable stable state by not doing anything at all - just leave the tank develop with very low light, no or very few fish, and no or very little CO2. So it turns out that both "Old School" and "New School" achieve the same thing. Except we will all agree which approach leads to much more risk of all kinds of issues along the way. Drop the ball once and both EI and PPS will bring algae quickly. EI can do that literally overnight because of the ultra high concentrations of chemicals floating free in the water, excess light, and excess CO2 which suffocates the biofilter among other bad things. The cure for any problems with EI or PPS is more of the same - more water changes, more ferts, more CO2. More one of 4 things, more effort, more aggression.

I may start a new thread - "Why fast food is so tasty, cheap, and satisfies both my hunger and my mind?" I see quite a few parallels with the mentality of many planted tank folk. As an old rock-n-roll song goes "You want it - we got it!":
 
1 - 3 of 3 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top