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FAQs on Algae and Their Control In Aquarium Gardens 2

Related Articles: Algae and Their Control in Aquarium Gardens, Algae Control in Freshwater Aquariums by Bob Fenner, Dealing With Algae in Freshwater Aquaria by Neale Monks, (some) Algae (in moderation) Can Be Your Friend, ppt presentation, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, by Bob Fenner, SAEs in the Aquarium Garden, Otocinclus for the Aquarium GardenLoricariids/more than Plecos, and Snails

Related FAQs:  Algae Control In Aquarium Gardens 1, Plant DiseasesFW Blue-Green Algae/Cyanobacteria, FW (Brown) Diatom Algae, Brush/Beard/Blackish (actually Red) Algae,

How do I "disinfect" new plants   /RMF  12/15/14
Dear Crew
<Yasfir, greetings>
How are you all doing?
<Fine; thank you>
Well I hope. I have a quick question, when ever I bring new plants into my tanks I worry about carrying disease,
parasites and other Hitch hikers into my system. Is there any way to prevent this from happening?
<Yes; a few approaches...>
I usually quarantine/acclimatise my plants for a few days to get ride of the hitch hikers i can see <Good; I'd make this time frame a week or two>
but I still worry that I may have missed some thing like parasites, fungi or bacteria.
thank you for any ideas you may have that will help.
<Historically folks have employed "soaks" in solutions of the oxidizer Potassium Permanganate (KMnO3) and Alum (Aluminum Sulfate)... and commercial products made of these and some other compounds... Do read re on WWM... searching by their names. Bob Fenner>
How do I "disinfect" new plants
     /Neale        12/16/14
Dear Crew
How are you all doing? Well I hope. I have a quick question, when ever I bring new plants into my tanks I worry about carrying disease, parasites and other Hitch hikers into my system. Is there any way to prevent this from happening? I usually quarantine/acclimatise my plants for a few days to get ride of the hitch hikers i can see but I still worry that I may have
missed some thing like parasites, fungi or bacteria.
thank you for any ideas you may have that will help.
<Greetings. A 10-minute dip in a potassium permanganate solution (10 mg/litre) will do the trick nicely, getting rid of snails. It's toxic stuff, so be careful with it. Quarantining plants for a few days at 25 C should break the life cycle of Whitespot and Velvet. You can't eliminate bacteria completely though, and in any case, Pseudomonas, Aeromonas and the like will be latent in your aquarium anyway, so your job is to ensure each fish's immune system works properly. Do that, and these pathogens (and arguably Whitespot and many other parasites) will be kept in check. Cheers, Neale.>

Algae on Plants... search, read... DON'T write w/o... WWM NOT A BB       3/9/14
I have a 29 gallon aquarium containing 1 oranda redcap goldfish and plants.
There is a tank divider between the plants and the goldfish. I have a problem with algae covering my Sagittaria Subulata.
Picture below.
How can I clean the algae off the plants without harming them?
Thank you.
<You can't really "clean" algae from plants. Almost always, algae is only a pest in situations where the plants aren't thriving, and yours look like classic examples of plants that are failing to thrive and consequently being colonised by brush algae and/or blue-green algae. So review the aquarium, in particular the key factor of light intensity, and act accordingly. You should also read this:
While there are tweaks (like the use of algae-eating fish and shrimps) that can be used to minimise the growth of algae, these only work if the plants themselves are in essentially good shape, growing rapidly and doing some of the work of suppressing the algae. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Algae on Plants
Thank you Neale. The Amazon frogbit in my aquarium does not seem to be
growing well either, but it is not covered in algae like the saggitaria.
Perhaps it will thrive where the grass will not. I cannot fix the lighting
right now. But how much lighting would the Amazon frogbit need to thrive?
<In my tanks, two decent plant-growing tubes in the hood seems to be
adequate. Cheers, Neale.>
Thank you.

re: Algae on Plants   3/9/14
Thank you Neale.
<Most welcome.>

Planted tank problem, algae, rdg.     2/25/13
I set my tank about 3 months ago. It's 75 gallons. Planted. I've kept fish for more than 10 years, but it's my first planted. And I thought I did enough research.
Filtration: 2 2217 Eheim classic
Temperature: 79'F
Lighting-4 54W T5 from 5 to 7 am and then from 4 to 10 pm. Basically, lighting is on when I'm home and awake.
11 yellowtail Congo tetras,
5 dwarf upside down catfish,
2 leopard climbing perch
Various plants: Anubias, java fern, red Ludwigia, Vallisneria, Amazon swords and other.
All fish and plants are fine. Problem is hair algae. It's everywhere: on the driftwood, on the glass, and, worst part, on my plants. Everything is covered with it, even some snails. I try to remove it manually weekly, but with little success. Not much could be removed from the leaves. Do you have any suggestion what could be done?
<Yes; the usual general avenues of predation, competition, nutrient control... investigation and cure of an imbalance chemically/physically...
These are gone over and over... on WWM. Start reading here:
Scroll down to the green tray marked "Algae Matters"... The Ctenopoma may pose a restriction on algae eaters,... but there are as stated, a few "roads" to consider here as well. Read on! Bob Fenner>

Lighting and plants, and algae     9/14/12
Hi Neale and crew,
Just wanted to pass along some pointers I found very useful from some lighting experts on the web. I had 48 watts of T5HO sitting on right on top of 29 gallons. I was having what appeared to be nutrient deficiencies in my Amazon swords even though dosing Flourish Excel, Potassium, and Comprehensive. The clue was my Pygmy Chain sword which was turning bright red. Something that only happens at high light.
Some lighting guys informed me that T5HO is much more intense and pure than T12, T8, or T5NO and therefore watts/gallon does not apply.
<Ah yes, likely so.>
I was putting so much light in that the plants were bleeding the water of all nutrients and starving. This also explains the algae bloom even when nitrates were at 0 even after 2 weeks without water change. To keep up with that pace I would have needed pressurized CO2 and intense fertilizer schedule.
For 2 weeks now I have turned off 1 light to bring down to 24 watts T5HO.
Still dosing Excel, Potassium, and Comprehensive. Algae has DISAPPEARED from driftwood and glass.
<A very good sign. Once an aquarium has happy plants, algae seems to go.>
Still present chain sword but less. Leaves have returned to green and no holes. I have attached 2 links that I found extremely useful.
Hope this helps anyone else struggling with light like I did. Neale you guys are the best. I'll send finished photos of the entertainment center build out with the Amazon tank along with my Asian tank when they get a little more lush. I'll also send photos of the beautiful Blue Ram pair I have. I have them with cardinals in temps in low 80's. Would never have happened without your help.
<All sounds like you've achieved a great deal.>
Credit for link and all work associated to Hoppy a member of The Planted Tank website.
<Real good. Thanks for writing! Neale.>

slimy problem    3/23/12
Hi Neale how are you?
<Well, thanks.>
I´ve written a couple of times, I have 4 Angelfish and 2 striped Raphaels in a 24 gallon tank, my Angels are growing beautifully and are around 3-4 inches from nose to the last bit of fin (not sure how to measure them) I got rid of the algae-eater but ever since, there´s red-brownish slime accumulating inside the aquarium walls, also all over the live plants and rocks, I am afraid this might harm my fish?
<It will not. It appears to be harmless algae, diatoms more than likely if it is golden-brown and rubs away easily.>
I clean it with the sponge, We do a 30% - 50% water change every 2 weeks, attached an image you can see it over the leaf,
if I clean it with the sponge it will go away but few days later again, please advice,
<Nerite snails are outstanding consumers of diatoms and highly recommended. They do not breed in freshwater aquaria, and kept properly, i.e., in a clean tank with lots of oxygen and not-too-warm water, live for many years. Siamese Algae Eaters and Otocinclus are also good diatom-eaters, though perhaps less good than Nerites. Adding floating plants can also help.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: slimy problem    3/23/12
Sounds good Neale,
how many Nerite snail would you suggest?
<2-3 Neritina natalensis per 10 gallons is about right; for a smaller snail species, you would keep more.>
question, would the Siamese Algae eater harass the Raphaels?
<Shouldn't do. Neale>

Planted tank lighting, algae issue    3/15/12
I have successfully maintained a 55 gallon planted tank for sometime and wanted to try my hand some at some of the red and purple stem plants. 
Understanding that many of these plants need more light I upgraded my lighting from four bulb 28 watt t5 fixture to a four bulb 54 watt t5 fixture.  I also added a pressurized co2 unit.  Well after a few days I had a hair algae outbreak.  The only change I had done was the upgraded lighting. I still did the same biweekly water changes and used liquid fertilizer twice a week and flourish excel everyday.  I had the lights on for 12 hours a day.  Could the increased light intensity be the cause of the outbreak
<Could be>
or should I shorten the lighting period?
<Worth trying. And do read here:
and the linked files above>
  I have read some people have had success controlling algae with a break in the lighting period.   Perhaps five hours of lighting, an hour off then five more hours of light?
<Again... worth trying>
 Thank you for the great website and advice.
<Welcome, glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Algae Problem    6/17/11
Dear Crew,
I have recently been experiencing a huge bloom of brown hair algae along with greenish carpet-like algae in my 55 gallon aquarium.
<Mmm, nutrient availability, lack of maintenance... gravel vacuuming, addition of useful chemical filtrants>
Currently, it is fairly heavily stocked (9 Boesemani rainbowfish, 2 angelfish, and 4 yoyo loaches) and has about 2 watts per gallon of light (t-5 bulb), which is on about 10 hours a day, along with an assortment of live plants. With water changes, I usually add some iron supplement.
<Do you measure for free ferrous ion/s?>
To combat the algae problem, I installed 2 Hagen CO2 Plant Grow systems, in the hopes that my plants would outgrow the algae.
<Mmm, depends on a few factors... IF the algae are "winners" under the current circumstances, they will likely be more benefitted>
To my surprise, the algae actually grew FASTER after I introduced CO2. I was wondering what you recommend I do, and if you think that the CO2 might be contributing to algae growth.
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontags.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Many thanks,

algae problem 4/30/10
Hi, I have a 25 gallon planted tank with a 65 watts of lighting and a yeast co2 system and my water is pretty clean It has been up and running for 7 months. I have a bad algae problem but only on some plants other plants
are fine . Is there any fish or shrimp, other than a Plecostomus, that eat algae ? I don't want any species of Plecostomus because they can carry a parasite that can harm discus witch I plan on getting when I get a 75 gallon .
<Your tank looks pretty good the way it is, and I'd be loathe to add any more fish. At some level, all tanks need to occasional wipe with an algae scraper. To be fair, you can minimise this to once every few months. But you can't eliminate manual cleaning completely. So be sure to balance the benefit of an algae-eating fish, snail or shrimp against the extra load they'll put on the filter and water quality. Anyway, read here for a variety of options:
If you want to discuss further, feel free.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: algae problem 4/30/10
Would carbon help with the algae?
<No. Why would it? Do read about the cause of algae. Then read about what carbon does. See any overlap? Nope. Cheers, Neale.>
re: algae problem
Okay thanks for all the info , I'll start cleaning the algae to day .
<Very good. Have fun! Cheers, Neale.>

55 Gallon Hair/Thread algae 2/21/10
First time writer, long time reader.
<Welcome. Well-visited and well-met>
I have set up a 55 gallon live plant freshwater tank about 4 months ago.
In it I am keeping some hardy swords (Marble Queen Radicans, Indian Red, and three basic Echinodorus) as well as some supposedly fast growers (Val Contort, and some Ambulia). I am also keeping (because I think I'm super
Green-Thumb man) some Rotala macandra, and some Telenthera. The Rotala is slowly dying away, but my Telenthera is flourishing.
My set up is as follows : 4 T5 55 watt bulbs (2x10,000k daylight, 1x6700 red Plantgro, and 1 actinic cause I didn't have the money for another Plantgro). I use straight Turface as my substrate but fert it with flourish tabs. I have two DIY co2 injectors, one on each side of the tank keeping my PH relatively low at just under 6.8. I also daily fert it with the Flourish line, more Potassium than anything but daily regiments of Iron, Trace, and the regular and Excel lines of Flourish. I do weekly 50% water changes and fert the tap water I replace with Leaf Zone and the afore mentioned Flourish line.
My question is I can't find my limiting factor!
<Mmm, my advice/what I would do, is limit one of the above additives and see if this makes a difference>
and I have thread algae all over my tank!
<Are you measuring HPO4? Other nutrients here?>
Cleaning it has gotten harder and harder. I keep three SAE's, and some olive Nerite snails to try and quell the attack, but they always seem to win. My plants are pearling but barely and not enough (obviously) to compete with the algae. I think I have it down enough to make any Macro/Micro nutrient my limiting facet, so what would be the best? I am thinking Iron,
<Worth trying>
but I have been told that my tap water is already swimming in it.
<What does the free Fe measure as?>
Any suggestions would be highly appreciated.
Hair Algae Matt
<Test kits first. Bob Fenner>

A change in philosophy Re Algae contr. planted tanks    2/28/10
Thank you once again for answering my questions on my hair/thread algae question. I have started doing multiple 40% water changes a week (2 or 3) and it has seemed to help.
<Good. Once you have the tank balanced between fish and plants, you really shouldn't find algae comes back, and regular 25% water changes should keep a moderately stocked aquarium in good health.>
I went to an aquatic store about fifteen miles away from my house and spoke to the store owner there about my problems. She advised me of a philosophy that I think every planted aquarium owner should live by : Care for the
plants, not for the algae.
I like it. Tank specs are as follows : 55 gallon, 4x54 watt which I have reduced to 2x54 watt to quell my algae problem.
<Reducing light doesn't necessarily work against the algae: if the fast-growing plants need lots of lighting, limiting their growth will actually make it easier for algae to become problematic.>
Parameters are 6.8- 7.0 ph Nitrates : 10ppm max Co2 Fert x2. My question is I have read online that interval lighting can both help your plants and hurt your algae, which is what I'm looking for.
<This "siesta" period has been discussed and tested. Personally, I find it has no impact either way, but some swear by it.>
I have them on 4 hours/off 4 hours/ then back on, etc.
<No, you have to be careful not to have lots of short periods of light. At least one plant book I have recommends two lots of 5-6 hour periods, with a 1-2 hour siesta in between.>
In your experience has this hindered plant growth?
<I have done both 10-14 hours constantly on, and the same but split in two with 1-2 hour siesta. Made no difference either way.>
In keeping true to my new philosophy I want to look out for my plants best interests and want to do nothing to hurt them.
<My personal thoughts are here:
Generally, lots of floating plants, moderate to bright light, and that's it!>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>

45G Planted aquarium - plant growth and algae issues  12/21/2009
I recently set up a new 45G/165L freshwater tropical aquarium and it has been running for about a month now. I am having some issues with plant growth and green brush algae.
I have it stocked with Hygrophila species (4 types), a red tiger lotus, dwarf Blyxa and 4 Anubias. The Hygrophilas do not seem to be doing very well and are not growing as quickly as I expected in this new tank.
<Blyxa is a tricky species, notoriously so in fact, but the others should be more or less easy to grow. Hygrophila is usually bomb-proof, given sufficient light. If you're having problems with Hygrophila spp., it's almost certainly down to inadequate lighting.>
I have a concurrent tank running (17G) where I am trying to 'grow them out' in that is an Aquastart 500 model and they seem to do better in this one.
The 45G tank is outfitted with 1x39W T5HO Power-Glo and 1x39W T5HO Life-Glo bulbs. They did not have an Aqua-Glo in the T5HO range ( I would have preferred this one over the Life-Glo).
<You're offering about 2 watts per gallon, which should be ample. I take it you have reflectors behind the lighting tubes? If not, add them: cheapest way to get all the lighting you're paying for into the aquarium.>
The Aquastart 500 came with lights that I have not changed since purchasing the tank 11 months ago, and the Wisteria I had in there always had to be trimmed weekly... but such is not the case in the 45G. I have the lights
on in both tanks for about 6 hours, then a 3 hour break in the middle of the day, then another 4 hours in the evening.
<I'd switch to a standard 10 or 12 hours period of lighting, with no break.
Yes, I know this "siesta" period can work and has been used to combat algae, but I suspect a 3 hour break is too much, and if you're having problems with your plants, the whole thing is one more variable you could do without. So switch to a continual lighting period of 10 or 12 hours, and see what happens.>
I dose with the Seachem line of fertilizers - Flourish, Flourish Excel and the Iron. I usually dose the Flourish and Iron daily (about 2 ml each), and the Excel every second day.
<What sort of substrate do you have? Adding liquid fertilisers can work, but to be honest, I find using a rich substrate at least as good, possibly better. Failing that, adding fertiliser tablets into the substrate below the roots of each plant can be very helpful. Also, are you using any type of CO2 system? While not essential, it can help.>
What I am seeing is that the large-leaved Hygrophila species' leaves are curling downwards away from the light, all the Hygrophila's new shoots have slowed down their growth considerably in the last 2 weeks, and green brush
algae is starting to make its mark (on the glass as well as the plant leaves). My H. polysperma's new shoots are also beginning to show less red colouration.
<The lack of red is usually down to inadequate lighting, since the red pigment develops to protect the leaf from very strong light.>
My Otocinclus do not seem to be feeding very often on the algae and each time I see them they are just sitting still on the driftwood.
<Otocinclus only eat green algae and to a lesser extent diatoms; they have zero impact on hair algae, brush algae, blue-green algae.>
I would like to get at least one more bulb for the tank - do you think that these issues are a consequence of insufficient light for the tank?
<Adding more lighting will certainly help, but CO2 will then become a limiting factor.>
Or am I not applying enough nutrients? Perhaps I am not supplying the correct nutrients?
<If you're using them as instructed on the packaging, you should be fine.>
Thank you in advance for your time and patience,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 45G Planted aquarium - plant growth and algae issues   12/22/09

Hi Neale,
<Hello again,>
Thank you for the very quick response! I only have 3mm river pebbles for substrate, which is what I also have in the 17G tank. I use the Seachem tabs in the substrate, and when I did a cleanup of the affected leaves over
the weekend the root systems seemed healthy enough (fat and white), and there were more roots along the stems of the Hygrophilas.
<Well, that all sounds in order.>
However, I did intend to get at least one more bulb post-Christmas so I will try that along with the single period of 10-12 hour lighting and see how it goes.
<Yes, would do this.>
I have the GLO double reflector unit to hold the T5's at the moment.
Curiously the Blyxas are the ones that have taken very well to the new tank and are producing the most noticeable new growth.
<Very odd.>
I do not have a CO2 system as I hoping to get by with just the Excel but I guess if I am increasing the wattage I will need to look into it.
<Indeed, as light intensity goes up, supplemental CO2 becomes more important. But you should get at least some good growth without it.>
Thanks again!
<So long, Marianne... (to quote L. Cohen), Neale.>  

Water Sprites, and planted tank algae control  4/16/09
I have a question about water sprites. I currently have a 46 gallon bowfront with discus. They are doing great and have amazing coloration, but I'm having some brown algae problems. I'm assuming it's diatom algae.
<Very likely, if the stuff is a slippery or greasy brown-yellow film on the inside of the glass.>
Feedings usually consist of flakes, pellets, or frozen foods that are fed twice a day and they eat all the food they are given. I use deionization to filter the source water which comes from a well, and use Kent Discus
Essential to replace minerals. The tank pH is around 6.4 with ammonia 0 ppm, nitrite 0 ppm, and nitrates about 20 - 30 ppm, and phosphate is 0 ppm.
I do about 20 gallon water change every week. I've read that water sprites take in nutrients with their leaves due to poor root systems.
<May well be true. Can't imagine it matters either way.>
Is this true and will a heavy water sprite populations help with my algae and nitrates?
<Floating plants generally can help, provided they're growing rapidly.
Personally, I find Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigata) much, much better in this regard; it grows at an astonishing rate even under moderate lighting. It has long roots that produce a wonderfully shady habitat that
fish enjoy. It's also very pretty, and it's low-lying leaves don't get scalded by the lights in most hoods. By contrast, I've never found Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) either easy to establish or particularly fast growing. I have tanks containing both species, and the Amazon Frogbit grows at least ten times faster! I can remove clumps of the stuff weekly, and yes, my tanks are essentially algae-free. I wipe the glass down maybe once every 2-3 months.>
I read that water sprites make for a good floating plant. I was planning on using them for a floating plant with 96 watts of 6700K CF lighting. I know discus do not like bright lighting. So I was hoping the floating water
sprites would give shading to my discus as well as help starve the algae of nutrients and help with nitrates. Thank you for your time and great advise I always receive from your crew.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Plants (Marsilea; and avoiding algae)   2/18/09 Hello friends, I have a few questions regarding a planted setup i am starting. My tank is 90 gallons, filtered by a Fluval fx5 and heated by a Hydor 300 watt in-line heater. It is lit by a 48'' 260 watt fixture with 4x 65 watt 6400k bulbs. My tank is fully cycled and starting small patches of green algae. <Green algae? That's good news! Green algae -- Chlorophyta -- are most similar to plants in their needs, and in fact green algae almost never grows in tanks with poor levels of lighting. It's also by far the easiest algae to control, in the sense that fast-growing plants tend to suppress it, and shrimps/snails happily eat it.> This is because my bio filter media came from my previous Malawi filter. <Doubt this has anything to do with it.> My question regards the plant Marsilea drummondii. I have read many contradictory husbandry statements about it and wanted to be set right. First is this a suitable submerged aquarium plant? <Can be, but isn't widely grown, the preferred species being Marsilea hirsuata. In any case, it's not a submerse plant in the wild. Normally it's found in wetlands, and while submerged at times, is usually either above the waterline or else able to keep its leaves above the waterline even if its roots (or rhizome, to be more specific) are under water. Like virtually all of these bog plants, if grown underwater, it is extremely demanding in terms of light and CO2. It just isn't able to grow easily underwater compared to true aquatics, so needs a bit of "life support" if it is going to thrive.> I would love for it to grow to the top of the water and hate for it to drown before it gets the chance. It will be planted about 19 inches from the top of the water. I know it prefers slower moving waters that my tank does provide thanks to obstacles i designed to quickly disperse the flow from my filter so i see no problem with that. <It's a bog plant, so bear that in mind when planning.> My tank will have co2 injection prior to plant placement that i am not adding now to avoid masses of algae. While I love the natural look of trace amounts of algae I need to be able to see in the tank. <Huh? Algae isn't the enemy, and shouldn't be viewed this way. Algae is best controlled by healthy, fast growing plants such as Vallisneria. Trying to hold back on the light and CO2 your plants need to settle in just isn't going to help. Far, FAR more important that you get your plants growing, and then manage what green algae appears using shrimps or snails.> I do use a mix of river gravel and Eco complete substrate. I borrowed the idea from Timothy Gross as used in his adventures in aquascaping article. <Most any plant-friendly substrate can work well, so pick and choose whatever you like. Almost never makes or breaks an aquarium.> My fish stocking plans are very small, perhaps a group of Neons or a pair of angels, I am unsure yet. <Neons are Angelfish food, so be careful.> Due to the wealth of knowledge on here I consider myself well armed with fish stocking knowledge and will be attempting to keep my list similar to an Amano style tank. This is the first plant in my stock list so my other plants will be chosen later to compliment and coexist in the same conditions. My other question is about bamboo as a decoration. I Know it will eventually rot but have read it could take a year or more. Am I correct? <Bamboo does indeed need to be replaced periodically. Once a year sounds about right.> Also would adding a layer of aquarium sealant to the ends of the bamboo prolong its life or just complicate mine? <Over here in the UK at least, a tube of silicone sealant would cost about twice as much as ten bamboo canes, so why bother?> Any input would be greatly appreciated. Also I love the new setup on your home page with the nanos, very creative! <That's Sara's work, and she'll be thrilled you noticed.> Thanks! Ed from Detroit <Cheers, Neale.>

Algae control, planted tanks   8/7/08 I have a 46 gallon planted fish tank I was wondering my choices of algae control. I keep the lights on for around 9-10 hours a day . The lights are two coral life fixtures double strip fixtures a total of around 100 watts. It has one 10 k bulb and a power Glo bulb, I was wondering about fresh water shrimp and about how many would I need and what type. Another question would the 10 k bulb cause the algae to grow faster. Thanks Tom <Hi Tom. First off, flowering plants do best under lights between the 5500-6500 K colour temperature range. Low light is defined as 1-2 W per litre, 2-3 W as medium strength light, and bright light as 3 W and upwards. Your tank would seem to have slightly over 2 W per litre, so that's going to be good for non-fussy plants like Cryptocorynes, Aponogeton, and some of the Vallisneria and Echinodorus. But bright light plants (basically anything with a stem rather than a rosette, and especially plants with light green or red leaves) will need more light to do well. Adding reflectors behind the lamps can help, but you may still need to add one or more additional tubes. Bright light plants grow rapidly when they're happy, and somehow stop algae growing around them (a process called allelopathy, not fully understood). So the net result is that the brighter the tank, the less algae is a problem. What algae you do get will be green algae, and that's where algae eaters come in. Cherry shrimps and Nerite snails in my opinion make the best choices, being attractive and inexpensive. The Cherry shrimps will breed, so from a starter population of a dozen, you'll soon end up with hundreds (within a few months). This does assume you have nothing that eats baby shrimps though! Small tetras and hatchetfish aren't much of a problem, but obviously things like Angelfish will be. Nerite snails don't breed in aquaria and don't eat plants. You can add fish that eat algae, but results are mixed so I tend to recommend against this. Do also try using the "siesta method" -- set the timer to make the lights go 6 hours on, 2 hours off, 6 hours on. For reasons not fully understood, plants will adjust to this, but algae seems not to be able to. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Algae control, FW... Loricariid sel.    8/8/08 well as far as tank cleaners I have two whip tail cats <Not really algae-eaters; more sand-sifters (look at their whiskers!) and forage on insect larvae and similar foods in the wild. Can't do well on algae and leftovers! Frozen bloodworms are adored!> and a couple of Otos <Do eat green algae, but also need other foods to live for any length of time. Algae wafers (e.g., Hikari Algae Wafers) work well if the Otocinclus get a chance to eat them. Do keep in a bigger group though, and watch the tank isn't too warm. Both Otocinclus and Rineloricaria prefer coolish temperatures, 22-25C being about right.> and I do have an angel fish but is only about the size of a half dollar do u think it will be able to eat the cherry shrimp <Angelfish can, will eat anything they can swallow. A big Angelfish could easily consume Cherry Shrimps. Cheers, Neale>

Green Algae Problem - 07/13/08 Hi Crew, A while ago I spoke with Bob Fenner involving the green water (Volvox) in my 29 gallon aquarium. I have numerous plants including Cryptocorynes, Amazon Swords, Green Cabombas and a variety of fish (mostly tetras and two algae eaters). I have since then addressed the 'root issues' he suggested. I have added another 20W fluorescent tube light bringing my lighting up to two 20W fluorescent tube lights which my plants seem to like a lot as I am now cutting them back (especially the Cabombas which have reached the surface of my tank). <Sounds good. I agree, when Cabomba is happy, it requires pruning on a weekly basis. Just think of all the nitrate it's removing in the process! Great stuff.> I have added a Fluval 2 Plus underwater filter along with my Aquaclear 70 hang on filter and now have excellent water filtration and circulation. There is no other algae in my tank and all the hair algae I used to have has vanished for some reason. <Allelopathy. Cabomba and many other fast-growing fish actively produce chemicals that suppress the growth of algae. Presumably to help them keep their leaves clean. Whatever the reasons and mechanisms, this works remarkably well. It's counter-intuitive, but more light = less algae.> I fertilize my plants weekly with iron and flourish weekly. I do my 10-15% water changes every 2 weeks and clean my filters thoroughly every other week. <I'd be doing bigger water changes than this, more like 25% weekly. That said, I've found that tanks with vigourous plant growth seem to maintain excellent water quality even with small water changes, assuming the density of fish is low.> I also test my water weekly with test strips and a special pH test kit. Last test results were: GH-60, KH-0, pH-6.5, NO2-0,NO3-20 I have tried plunging my tank into total darkness for a few days, larger water changes, less food when feeding, phosphate Green-X removers, and many other things. <Are we talking about the Volvox still?> I have talked to about 10 different LFS and nobody seems to know how to get rid of it. <It is difficult to remove. The best approach is to remove all the water, and then re-fill the tank with new water. Try not to overfeed the water (including by adding too much plant fertiliser, so going half-dose for a while and see what happens). With luck you'll "reset" the system and the Volvox will be a much less serious problem.> I have done massive research in tons of books and internet websites and to my understanding Volvox algae multiplies extremely fast and is obviously hard to get rid of as I can't find any elimination methods anywhere. <There's nothing that reliably kills it. It is very uncommon in indoor aquaria. Two things you could try would be Fan shrimps (Atyopsis sp.) and Asian Clams (Corbicula fluminea) both of which will eat planktonic algae.> I am at a complete loss of ideas and I have tried absolutely EVERYTHING! I am seriously considering putting my fish in buckets and stripping down my whole tank, cleaning everything (gravel, plants, decoration, tank) thoroughly and add aged water from my hospital tank and restart from the beginning. <Have to say, this is what I'd do. At some point, setting aside an afternoon doing that becomes less of a hassle than messing about every few weeks trying different potions.> However this would be a great amount of work. Do you have any other suggestions? <I wouldn't empty the tank. Here's what I'd do: Put the fish into a bucket. If you can, disconnect and reconnect the filters so they're running in a bucket of aquarium water. Failing that, open them up and place the biological media in shallow basins or bowls of aquarium water so they can get lots of oxygen. Switch off the heater. Now, empty the tank of water as much as possible with damaging your plants. Maybe 50-75%. Fill up with new water. Empty again. Fill again. Repeat until you're happy you've flushed out as much of the Volvox as you can. Switch the heater back on, and once the temperature is correct, put the fish and filter back. With luck, this will dilute the Volvox enough that your standard 25% weekly water changes will enough to prevent the water turning green. Do also take care to clean/change the mechanical media in the filters -- this is the stuff that's physically trapping the Volvox, and once clogged, can't do it's job.> Anything at all that would help get rid of this disaster would be very much appreciated. It seems relentless! <Very unusual case!> Thank you for your time and help! Dave <Cheers, Neale.>

Hello there! I am having a "brush" algae bloom of epic proportions! -- 4/12/08 I've NEVER had algae issues so this is very frustrating for me. I have a 46 bow front heavily planted (Cabomba, red crypt, bronze crypt, jungle val., red val., Anubias, and java fern.) and heavily stocked (1 huge male angel whose mate has passed on, 1 pear leeri, 1 snakeskin Gourami, 9 serpae tetras, 6 red eye tetras, 7 assorted platies, 4 julii Corydoras, 7" common Plec., striped Raphael, spotted Raphael, "clown" pekoltia, dojo loach, 6 whisker shrimp, and 1 lonely skunk loach). Pick your jaw up off the floor, yes I have ALL THAT in one tank, but up until now I've had no problem keeping the parameters in check with weekly water changes and my Fluval 304 (love it!!) But to get to the point, I'm nearing the end of a very problematic pregnancy and have been unable to maintain my weekly water change schedule, thus the brush algae (Nitrates soared!). I've managed to pick back up in the last few weeks and nitrates are now back below 20ppm, 0 ammo., 0 nitrite, no test for phosphates. The algae is clearing up on the gravel and glass but my plants (my crypts in particular) are covered in little fur coats. Am I going to have to sacrifice these furry leaves in hopes that their new growth won't become infested or will it die off the plants as is has the glass and gravel? Thanks for any help!! --Mandi P.S. This is EXACTLY what my plants look like!! YIKES! http://www.otocinclus.com/articles/graphics/blackbrush.jpg <Yowzah! If it were me, mine, I'd wait for now on pulling leaves... perhaps just stay the course, avail myself of some use of Nitrate and Phosphate chemical filtrant use. Bob Fenner>

Please help me! FW, planted tank, algae...   2/10/08 Please help me. I have a 65 gallon corner bowfront aquarium with live plants. My problem is a type of algae. I am guessing that it is hair algae. It is grayish. <Likely actually a kind of red algae (Rhodophyta) despite its colour. Actually very common in freshwater aquaria, typically under low rather than bright light and often where nutrient levels in the water are high.> It started on my Vals and I can actually get some of it off by brushing the vals gently. <Text-book stuff for this type of algae, I'm afraid.> Now is also attacking my Cryptocorynes and I am unable to remove it from them. Below is my tank information. I purchased my plants from a reputable on-line plant distributer so I know it didn't come in with the plants. I change water weekly. Please tell me what to do, I am at wit's end. Arlene <Almost certainly the cure is to make sure you're doing adequate water changes (to keep nitrates/phosphates down) AND to ensure you're providing sufficient light. Fast-growing plants under bright light somehow (reasons unclear still) stop algae. It's some sort of allelopathy, most likely. Anyway, the faster the plants are growing, the less algae you have.> Aquarium Information: I have a 65 gallon Corner Bow Front Aquarium. I set it up the first week of December, 2007. PH: The ph is 6.5 and I have a CO2 infusion into the tank. Temperature: The temperature is 82 degrees. Filtration: 2026 Eheim filter system. Water: The water is ½ RO and ½ tap water. Substrate: I have a heating cable topped with laterite and small gravel. Lighting: 2 strip lights: 36" 40 watt aqua grow lights, 2 Compact Fluorescent 8000K 55/65 watt. This was on a timer with 6 hours on, 2 hours off and 6 hours on. <Hmm... while you seem to have enough light (by my reckoning: 40 + 40 + 55 + 65 watts = 200 W) at 3 Watts per gallon, you might not be providing sufficient CO2 and/or nutrients. Under this much light, Vallisneria should be growing extremely well, and you should be cropping it back every couple of weeks. Hygrophila and Cabomba type things might even need weekly pruning. Hygrophila and pretty much any floating plant are the top choices for algae-busting, and a lot of aquarists suggest starting a new aquarium with Hygrophila just for this, and then remove a certain amount over the months to make space for "nicer" plants as you go along, all the time checking algae stays in check. If you have any reason to believe plant growth is less than optimal, then it could well be your plants are limited in their growth rate and the algae is taking advantage. You could also try tweaking the siesta period, e.g., to 5/2/5 hours instead of what you have now. The are, unfortunately, rather few small fish that eat hair algae, but Florida Flagfish are one consistent recommendation. Cheers, Neale.>

Planted Tank... alleged algal issues  2/7/07 Hi WWM Crew, I Love this site and all the info your guys provide. My question is a planted tank related. Before I ask the specific questions I have, here is my tank details: 175G- Reef ready Bowfront Approximately 20G Sump (plastic) -- with a Mickey mouse filter -- <Heee! Watch out for that licensed product issue...> Plan to drill my 33G tank and build a good sump out of it Mag 9 sump pump 800 W total for heating (100 W under gravel) <Wow> 220W Lighting ( 4 X 55W CF -- All 6500, maybe one 10,000) 40W lighting ( 2 X 20W F -- Currently not used) CO2 injection system ( 5 pound tank, Regulator, needle valve, bubble counter and reactor) 82º F temp PH -- 7.0 (Corrected with CO2, target is 6.5) NO2 -- 0.0 -- 0.1 NO3 -- 0.0 KH -- 60 GH -  80 CO2 injected at about 3 Bubbles per Sec ( tap water PH 8.3) Should I get any other test? <Mmm... depends... if you sense a deficiency issue... for phosphate, iron...> I have a substrate composed of 25-35 G or cured rock ( 2mm -- to 5 mm in size) peat moss, clay and some sand. My tank is set on a continues water change,  I put about 30 drops of water per minute in tank to counter evap. And to slowly do water changes ( drain also connected to tank. I have never had any problems with the water change/ or drainage. <Very nice> Now to my tank's problems I am getting 3 or 4 types of allege <Algae?> in my tank. Before I placed my CO2 system in tank I was getting a lot of Hair like allege, now just a but on tops of drift wood and a bit on return nozzle.  After the CO2 system installed, I started seeing a thick dark green allege on the bottom of the tank. <Likely a BGA... related to residual nutrient availability... I would get/use the phosphate test kit> A light green allege on the back wall mixed with a bit of brown allege. And if I do not clean the front glass a brown allege grows there with in 3 days. On the back wall under the allege that grows there are pockets of bubbles that I can see, when I pop them they just go to the top of the tank and disappear. There is a bit on the bottom too. I know before I installed the CO2 system and before the allege was growing on the bottom of the tank, there was bubbles coming out of the substrate, now I do not see them, I think because of the allege growing there. I have 4 diff types of plants growing well in the tank, 2 diff swords, and 2 diff stem plants. The one grows about 5 cm a week. <Wowzah!> All my water conditions seam to be good, I am not sure if I should try a different test to see if there is something else going on in the tank. Any suggestions you might have would be awesome. <I would lower your water temperature to the mid seventies F., look into the HPO4 kit, do some good-sized water changes, likely try a series of chemical filtrants to remove at least the one essential nutrient to limit the algal growth... and definitely add some purposeful algal predators (e.g. Otocinclus, SAE's...), all covered on WWM> Sorry if this is complicating or if you do not understand. Ask any questions you have that you need to help me. Thank you so much Jason Cloutier <Read my friend. Bob Fenner>

Important Question... Planted tank, beard alg. prob.s  - 9/3/07 Hello, I have a 55 gallon freshwater aquarium. I have a problem with some of my plants. They have a very weird sort of black stringy stuff growing off of them. I have been unable to find out what it is. I was wondering what it is and how I can get rid of it. It started probably a week or so ago, but now it is getting pretty out of control. Thank you for your time. If you can help me out at all I would greatly appreciate it. Derek <Hello Derek. This is almost certainly hair algae. It is very common in tanks with insufficient light. When plants are growing vigourously, they produce chemicals that stop algae from encrusting their leaves. Obviously in the wild this is important, because if they got smothered with algae, they'd die. In the aquarium we commonly attempt to grow plants under low light conditions, and the result is the poor plants can't protect themselves, and they get covered in algae. The solution is two-fold. Firstly, improve the conditions for the plants. Many aquarium plants need at least 2 watts of light per gallon of water. In a deep (50 cm+) aquarium, you will need even more light than that. So check you have this amount available. Secondly, trim away infected leaves. Assuming you do both of these things, the new plant growth should be largely algae free. Cheers, Neale>

Algae - need lots more information to be of assistance  -- 5/14/07 My aquarium is virtually algae free except for this one large piece of drift wood which started to turn green on parts of it. It does not wipe off also tried an old tooth brush to scrub off and was not successful.  Could you tell me if this is algae or what it might be, what causes it and how to get rid of it. Thanks. <Sure sounds like algae. There are many factors which contribute to algae in aquaria, such as overfeeding, over lighting, high phosphate levels. What are your water parameters (definitely check for phosphates, as well as the "usual suspects" i.e., ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate)? How often do you do water changes on this tank, and it what amount? Increasing water changes generally helps combat algae. Also, running a filter media such as the Poly Filter will help rid the tank of excess phosphates, if that is the issue.  Do you use tap water, or filtered water? If the former, be sure to check phosphate level on the tap water. What is the feeding schedule like for this tank? Fish should only be fed what they can consume within 3-4 minutes, once or twice per day, generally. What kind of lights are on this tank, and how long do you run them for? Is the tank exposed to direct or indirect sunlight? These are all questions that should be looked into for solving algae problems... A bit more information about your setup and answers to these questions will help me figure out how to advise you to combat this algae problem best... Jorie P.S. I imagine this is a freshwater tank, as you mention driftwood? But perhaps I am wrong - please let me know!>
Re: Algae - need lots more information to be of assistance PART 2
   5/16/07 I have a 125 gallon 30" high corner pentagon lowlight freshwater planted  aquarium with CO2 injection. <Sounds very nice!> I feed my 5 Discus once a day about what you recommend. Lighting is 130 watt compact fluorescents. Phosphates are 0.1 ppm, ph 6.8, kH 120 ppm, GH 40 ppm, nitrite, nitrate, ammonia 0 ppm. I change 30 gallon reconstituted R/O water once a week. Lights are on 8 hrs. per day and has very indirect sunlight. I have had this tank running for 10 months and have had no problems except for the occasional green dot on the acrylic then one day the algae formed on the wood and spread. I have two large pieces of wood and no algae on the other piece of drift wood at all. The one with no algae is back in the corner the other is directly under the light. Should I take the wood out and treat it with something or maybe cover the aquarium and a couple of days with no lights if too much light is problem. Also I fertilize plants with Leaf Zone recommended dosage every two weeks instead of every week. Eco-complete substrate. Thanks for the help. <Sounds like everything is well thought out and maintained. I definitely do not recommend using any "algaecide" or other "treatment" on the wood (or anywhere else in or around the aquarium), as these products usually just cause more harm then good.  You mention that your plants are "low light" ones - in that case, I'd suggest using a timer on your lights and trying a "siesta" period; I run my PCs on my planted FW tank for about 5 hours, then off 2, then on again for another 5 hours.  While the plants are unaffected by this, algae, being much simpler, can't adapt as well and has tended to die off.  Other than that, perhaps you can re-arrange your pieces of driftwood to position the affected piece not directly under the lights?  Finally, while it doesn't sound to be a huge problem at all, phosphates in any amount will contribute to algae growth; try adding Poly Filter to your filter media to help combat the phosphates you do have.  As for cleaning, what you mentioned previously (i.e., toothbrush scrubbing) is what I usually do; alternatively, you could use a coarser kitchen sponge (one that's just for the fish tank, obviously, and hasn't come into contact with any soaps!) to help.  Sounds like feeding is well with reason, and since you use RO water, there should not be any undesirable elements in the H20.  Re-positioning of the wood and the "siesta" period are my two best suggestions. Good luck! Jorie>

FW Planted tank Algae  1/26/07 Hey guys, I have a massive algae problem in my freshwater tank. I change the water semi-regularly (every 1.5 weeks) and there are many plants, lots of java fern and a large Echinodorus, with some Sagittarius. Lately I have had some very bad algae. It has taken over my Echinodorus completely, and there is rough, bright green splotchy algae all over the glass. The algae on the plant is black and fluffy. How can I get rid of this? <Mmm, a few approaches...> I have many loaches, a spiny eel, Gouramis, a UD cat, pl*co, etc., the rest are not sensitive. Can I use anti algae treatment or what is the best method? <Environmental manipulation, nutrient limitation/dilution, biological cleaners... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontags.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Hairy situation in a FW planted tank   1/12/06 Hi, <Hello> I emailed the crew back on 12/31/06 and still haven't received a response  as of today.  I am forwarding this message again for your feedback.   Perhaps it was the photographs that caused you not to get it?  Thanks  again. Chris <Mmm, maybe... I've recently deleted our accumulated filters... Am hopeful this will abate so much of these troubles> Hi, I have been battling what I believe to be is thread or hair or fuzz algae for several months - see attached photo. <Appears so> I have a 2 year old 30G tank that usually runs about 79 degrees, phosphate levels of .06 - .08 mg/L, <High for free soluble phosphate... likely much more bound up quickly in the pest algae> Nitrate of 2 -3 mg/L, gH 8, kH 5 and a pH 6.6.  I don't add iron because I feel the fluorite substrate provides enough of it. <Likely so> I dose K everyday until I achieve 10-20 mg/L (I don't have a K test kit), <...? And why are you dosing potassium? Not usually rate-limiting> every third day I dose trace nutrients (no iron in trace dosing).  All of my fert.s are made by Seachem and I just "upgraded" all my test kits to Seachem kits so that I could get a more exact or smaller measurement for Phosphate and Nitrate.  I currently do about a 10-15% water change a week, but my NYC water is high in the nutrients that I am trying to avoid so I use denitrate and PhosGuard in my canister filter. <An RO device would be cheaper, better> I am currently thinking about purchasing the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals tap water filter (TWF). <Nah... too puny, hard to use... a gimmick. Look into reverse osmosis... or DI...>   I know it may be expensive in the long run,  but I live in a NYC apt where space and a dedicated faucet are hard to come by. <Don't need a dedicated faucet/tap... install kits (you can preview on the Net) come with gear to tap into existing feed and drain> I currently have an army of Amano and cherry shrimp (12 shrimp all together), 4 SAEs and 2 American flag fish to assist in the algae war along with 5 rummy nose tetras. <Nice> My tank is heavily planted with Ludwigia repens, Ambulia indica, Rotala indica, assorted crypts, Anubias nana, Val subulata, 4 leaf clover, dwarf Hairgrass, Rotala wallichi all under a 110W CF light fixture (3.7 watts-10,000K) using pressurized CO2 attached to a pH monitor. <Very nice> I feel like I have done about everything I can to get rid of all of this algae and I am not sure what else I can do besides increasing the quality of my source water, <Yes> which is in progress.  Can you determine the type of algae I am dealing with? <Not w/o seeing it under a scope... likely a green or two... but could be anucleate (a BGA) as well> Any ideas of what I can do to at least get it under control or minimize it?  Is it the lighting? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontags.htm and the linked files above> When I do get the TWF, should I replace 10G every day for about 3 to 4 days so that I can have nearly 100% deionized water or should I just change 10G every week during water changes and ease the tank into it? <Again... I would blend in some RO/DI water... not get/use the gimmicky TWF... it's really a toy IMO... and a leaky one at that>   Do I still have to add buffer and electrolytes to the deionized water every water change or should I just add the water directly to the tank? <You would if you only used too-pure water...> Please see the picture I attached to get an idea of what I am up against.  Thank you for any advice and thank you for having such a wonderful website. Chris <I would leave off with the supplementing for a while... see "thekrib"... .com re faux Dupla Drops... the rationale behind their formulation... Diana Walstad's articles, book... and get yourself a reverse osmosis unit for your own potable as well as pet-fish use. Bob Fenner>

Re: massive algae bloom   12/6/06 Right now it looks like I'm going to have to restart the tank. How would you suggest I do this and save the healthier plants? Also if I cut off the leaves to the bulb on my dwarf lilies the would the leaves regrow. CJ <Yes to this seemingly drastic action. I have done this in dire cases... along with remedial steps to improve conditions otherwise... with success. Bob Fenner>

Need Help - Green Water Problem, planted tank   9/27/06 I am having a green water problem that so far, I have not been able to get rid of.  To get rid of the green water, I have been doing ~ 75% water changes at least twice a week, cut way back on fish feedings, added more fast growing stem plants such as Anacharis, Bacopa, and Wisteria, and stopped adding the Seachem Flourish ferts. I even tried a blackout, in which I unplugged the lighting and covered the tank with a comforter for 24 hrs.  The problem remains'¦whenever I do water changes, the  green water comes back in about 3 days. <Wonder what the root problem/causes are here?> My tank and water parameters are given below.  Considering that GH and KH were low when I tested yesterday evening, I also added 2 tsp of Epsom salts to boost GH, and a tsp of baking soda to boost KH. I will retest this evening and post the results here. <Okay> Also, am a bit surprised that my CO2 is so low considering that I am using three 2L yeast bottles, which seems to be a bit more than a tank of this size would need for adequate CO2 levels.   Any help would be appreciated!!! - Michael Tank Parameters Tank: 38 gallon tank; heavily planted Age: 2-1/2 months; started 7/7/06 Filter: Aquaclear 50 <Need more than this likely> Substrate: Eco-Complete Lighting: 2 X 55 watt PC; 12 hrs/day CO2 Source: Yeast Reactor; 3-2L bottles using wine yeast; ceramic diffuser Ferts: Fish load (a bit on the heavy side on intention); Seachem Flourish Water Quality Parameters pH: 6.9-7.0; Tetratest pH/pH probe Nitrate: 0; Salifert Nitrate Test Phosphate: 0; Salifert Phosphate Test <Being taken up readily by the algae> KH: 1.6; Salifert Alkalinity Test GH: 0; Tetratest GH CO2: 5-7 ppm; CO2 calculator, http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/art_plant_co2chart.htm <Well... I would "stay the course" at this point... with one change. I would turn off your DIY yeast/C02 reactors... they may be supplying more than carbon dioxide here. Bob Fenner>

Metal Halides in my Planted Aquarium  9/18/06 I have a continuous and heavy growth of green hair algae which has been there since the inception of my planted aquarium approximately 6 months ago.  I have a 75 gallon tank that's planted fairly heavily.  The light I am using is a metal Halide canopy with two 175 watt 6500K bulbs that are 6 inches above the water.   This equates to 4.6 watts per gallon, significantly in excess of the 2-4 watts that I frequently see suggested.  Is this in fact to much light?  Unfortunately I don't have the ability to move the light higher.   <Well, I can't well say if this is "too much" light w/o knowing the types of plants you have.  4.6 watts/gal. certainly is on the high side of light output, so if you haven't already, look into plants with red leaves, particularly those with very fine, filament-type leaves.  Take a look at Peter Hiscock's Encyclopedia of the  Planted Aquarium for particular suggestions as to which plants will do well with this much light.  Also, I know you said your aquarium is "fairly heavily planted", but keep in mind that the more plants you do add, the less nutrients there will be for the algae to feed on.  Also, check your phosphate levels if you haven't already - if you have a problem there, that may well be contributing to the algae bloom.  I like to use PolyFilters as an additional filtration media to help combat phosphate issues.> My other concern is the age of the bulbs.  I believe they are significantly in excess of one year old.  Is it possible that the degradation of the bulbs is causing the growth of the algae? <This could absolutely be causing, or at least adding to, the problem.  The recommend lifespan of bulbs is between 14 and 16 mos.  I'd recommend switching at least one of the bulbs ASAP, then doing the other in a month or so.  You may notice a drastic improvement in that the algae subsides at least some.> Despite the persistent green hair algae, the plants seem to be doing well.  Kenneth Kuhn <Glad to hear that.  Don't know what type of livestock you have in the tank, but conditions permitting, you may want to look into some algae eating fish, such as Florida Flag Fish or true Siamese Algae Eaters.  Hard for me to be more specific without more information as to your setup.  Best of luck, Jorie>

Phosphate in Freshwater Aquaria   7/3/06 I'm aware that phosphate has some major negative factors in marine aquaria. However, I've never seen any information on its impact on freshwater aquaria.   I have a 75 gallon planted discus tank and currently my phosphates are running at about 1ppm.   Should I be concerned? <Soluble phosphate in freshwater can be problematic, but as you point out, along with the general statement/understanding of the effects as graded by size/stability of environments, the worlds oceans are far more stable chemically, physically (biologically...) than even the largest, oldest freshwater... Still, not hard to "overdrive" photosynthesis (mostly algae problems) with too much HPO4 present. I would do what is reasonable (start with filtered source water, likely RO... Use chemical filtrants, utilized live plants for purposeful uptake...) to remove excess phosphate... In most settings this would be most any detectable quantity, but somewhere below 0.1 ppm is likely a good target. Bob Fenner>

New plants... Algae explosion   6/28/06 Hi Crew! Thanks for your selfless dedication to our hobby. I have read and re-read many articles and FAQ's but need some advice from you 'oh learned ones.'... I have a 75 gal. freshwater with angels and Cory's. I could not keep the nitrates down, so everyone says add live plants. So, 7 days ago I stick in 5 Amazon swords and upgrade the lighting to 2-40 watt full spectrum bulbs. Nitrates are great!...Below 10 for the first time since tank cycled about 5 mos. ago.... But I have an algae explosion that has me pulling out what little hair I have left. <Heee! Likely the algae taking up the excess nitrate... driven by the new lighting. The Swordplants are still just becoming acclimated from the move> I am doing 30-40% water changes every day <Won't "do it"> and can't seem to get a handle on this. I have read on this excellent site to cut feeding way back... which I have done, but has not helped. I do not want to use chemicals, But..... Do I need to do a large water change.... <No> keep on with the same amount of changes? <No> The plants seem to be growing new leaves and are looking good. The tanks lights are on about 12-14 hrs. per day. Any advice that you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time....DR <Unless the algae is absolutely "terrible", I would let it "run its course" here. Will peak, die off... revert back to weekly, no-more-than a quarter (25%) changes of water. Bob Fenner>

Hair Algae Keeps Reappearing on Java Fern Even After Bleach Dips - Has it Mutated the Plants? - 05/16/2006 Hi Crew, <Cindy> Is there a form of algae that can attach to a plant and become a part of the plant? <Mmm, in a "manner of speaking", yes> I have been fighting a battle with a form of hair like algae that attaches to the edges of java fern and can't be eradicated with a bleach dip. <Yikes> I am at my wits end and up to my elbows in hair algae'¦'¦well, okay, not quite, but I'm pulling my hair out trying to get rid of it. I have 4 planted Malawi Cichlid tanks which I stock with assorted java ferns, Anubias and Cryptocorynes. 8 months ago I purchased a new bunch of java fern from my LFS which ended up having hair algae. The algae was attached only along the edges of the leaves. When I purchase new plants I soak them in alum, and follow up with a potassium permanganate soak.   <Good, old-timey remedies... that do work in many circumstances> I then inspect each plant thoroughly for hitchhikers and scrape off any eggs and rinse thoroughly. Next, I place the plants in buckets (Home Depot's orange buckets work well for extra large java ferns) and place them under a full spectrum floor lamp and quarantine them for 4-6 weeks.   I know this sounds extreme, but I reinspect after several weeks and occasionally I will find a batch of snail eggs I missed the first go around. After once having a mystery snail infestation that forced me to strip down and disinfect an entire tank and dispose of the substrate in order to eradicate the slimy critters, I don't think I'm going overboard. When I discovered the hair algae I used a 19:1 bleach/water solution and dipped the plants for 2 minutes. The hair algae washed right off but I noticed  the very edges of the leaves still had a darkish tint. I QT'd the hair algae plants after the bleach dip and later placed them in one of my tanks. The algae bloomed all over the tank and attached itself to the tank walls. You could literally watch it move with the current from the Fluval. I scrub down my tank walls weekly and do a 50% water change (Cichlids are messy). <Yes> I removed the plants on several occasions and did another bleach dip.   I thought I finally got rid of the algae and one day I moved a couple of plants to another tank. Now the other tank has hair algae. I took the original plant culprits and did another extended bleach dip which ended up killing them. I'm in a panic because I just received a new shipment of replacement java fern from Thailand and worried they'll end up with hair algae.   <If placed in these same systems, likely so> I've begun buying plants directly from Asia because they are sanitized for export. My experience has been that they are in much healthier than the algae and parasite ridden plants sold by the LFS's.   I'm afraid to place these plants in my tanks until I understand more about what I'm dealing with. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Yours truly, Cindy <Without microscopic examination it is impossible to be sure, but I suspect you have run into a very stubborn BGA/Blue-Green Algae, Cyanobacteria issue here... I rarely suggest this method, but I encourage you to consider utilizing the antibiotic Erythromycin (sold as such, and as an algicide by this and other names) here... Do read (on WWM, elsewhere) re precautions to take... Bob Fenner>
Re: Hair Algae Keeps Reappearing on Java Fern Even After Bleach Dips - Has it Mutated the Plants? & Af. Cichlid Beh.   5/17/06
Bob, <Cindy> I cleaned the 2nd infected tank last night and I think you are right about Cyanobacteria being part of the culprit. <This is almost assuredly the case... can be confirmed through microscopic examination...> I had a couple of lace rocks in the tank. They had what appeared to be a reddish brown gunk, which upon closer examination was actually dark blue green, interspersed with the hair algae. <Color is not a sure indication... but "sliminess" can be telling> I've had Cyano outbreaks before and always removed the lace rock and soaked it in 3:1 bleach solution, followed by dechlorination and an hour or so boil on the stove. (Isn't it usually men who get in trouble for this? <Heeeeeeee! Watch that/this...>   In my house I'm the one who gets in trouble because part of the house looks like a lab and I'm the one who sneaks in new aquariums like some women do clothes!!!) <Mmm, I have a theory that folks/individuals are not entirely all fe/male... but a waving mix... Even that "real" people retain their child-like qualities of wonder, open-ness... I like it!> After reading your articles about how minerals in rocks feed Cyano I've decided to remove all rock from my tanks. Now the challenge will be finding suitable alternatives for Cichlid hiding places for 4 tanks - in one tank my largest Cichlid is a 6" Deep Water Hap (Placidochromis Electra) and the smallest is a 4" Lab (Labidochromis Caeruleus).  The others have cichlids from 2.5" - 4.5" Got any ideas? <All sorts... better to treat the whole tank, even all tanks at once if you're going the antibiotic chemical algicide route. Necessary to whack all the BGA to prevent, slow-down its recurrence> Cindy P.S.  Bob, I talked to you a few weeks ago and mentioned I was getting ready to introduce a young Astatotilapia latifasciata male into a tank with a large female of the same species.  She was alone at the time so I was worried she'd be extra territorial.  The male is all colored up, but only 1/6 her size. I set up a tank divider and moved him in with her.  I left the room for only a moment to find he had jumped the divider.  He was in her cave with her, no less!  She tolerated it, but I was nervous so I moved him back over and lowered the water level.  A few days later I found him with her again so I kept an eye on them and decided it was safe to remove the divider.  She still gets irritated and chases him, especially at feeding time, but it's obvious she's accepted him. This wasn't the first time a fish has jumped a divider on me. <Happens> A few months earlier I introduced 2 young Female Aulonocara Rubescens to a full grown male.  Same thing happened, I left the room only to come back and find one of the females with the male. I moved her back and the next morning I found her with him again!  Those two are still inseparable to this day.  She staked off turf right next to his cave and lip locked the other female whenever she approached.  For a while it appeared the male was going to be monogamous with her (I know, highly unlikely, but he showed no interest in the 2nd female and would chase her away, as well).  In fact, the 2nd female recently chased him for days until her ovipositor was bulging before she got him interested (either that or she laid sterile eggs) and finally began mouth brooding.  Not certain what happened here, she must have aborted because she began eating a week later. <First goes are often rough...> The first female is holding her 2nd brood (I have her 1st fry in a tank and they are 7 wks old). <Neat!> I sure hope you do decide write a book on freshwater husbandry.  I'd buy it in a heartbeat! <Am constantly adding to this work... and have good friends who are also building such... perhaps you will join us. Bob Fenner>

Re: Hair Algae Keeps Reappearing on Java Fern Even After Bleach Dips - & Aulonocara/African Cichlid breeding techniques - 05/20/2006 Hi Bob, My reply is below Bob, <Cindy> I cleaned the 2nd infected tank last night and I think you are right about Cyanobacteria being part of the culprit. <This is almost assuredly the case... can be confirmed through microscopic examination...> I had a couple of lace rocks in the tank. They had what appeared to be a reddish brown gunk, which upon closer examination was actually dark blue green, interspersed with the hair algae. <Color is not a sure indication... but "sliminess" can be telling> I've had Cyano outbreaks before and always removed the lace rock and soaked it in 3:1 bleach solution, followed by dechlorination and an hour or so boil on the stove. (Isn't it usually men who get in trouble for this? <Heeeeeeee! Watch that/this...>   <<I couldn't resist, you seem to have such a good sense of humor!!!>> >And not a great deal of "allegiance" to my gender/identity<   In my house I'm the one who gets in trouble because part of the house looks like a lab and I'm the one who sneaks in new aquariums like some women do clothes!!!)  <Mmm, I have a theory that folks/individuals are not entirely all fe/male... but a waving mix... Even that "real" people retain their child-like qualities of wonder, open-ness... I like it!> <<I wholeheartedly agree with you.  It's these qualities that make life interesting.  It does make it hard to go to work in the morning, especially when you have newly hatched fry you want to stay home and watch all day!!!  Fortunately, I'm having a little midlife crisis, so I'm taking a hiatus from a very demanding professional career while I ponder what I want to do next before I grow up! >Glad as your distal friend to find that you recognize, realize yourself. The utility of such a caesura, re-discovering, re-centering< So right now I have all the time in the world to indulge in these favorite pastimes.>> After reading your articles about how minerals in rocks feed Cyano I've decided to remove all rock from my tanks. Now the challenge will be finding suitable alternatives for Cichlid hiding places for 4 tanks - in one tank my largest Cichlid is a 6" Deep Water Hap (Placidochromis Electra) and the smallest is a 4" Lab (Labidochromis Caeruleus).  The others have cichlids from 2.5" - 4.5" Got any ideas? <All sorts... better to treat the whole tank, even all tanks at once if you're going the antibiotic chemical algicide route. Necessary to whack all the BGA to prevent, slow-down its recurrence> <<Will do.  Any suggestions for safe cave substitutions to the lace rock I will be removing?>> >Ah, yes... am a big fan of many types of natural rock: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/rkwduseaq.htm and the linked Related FAQs file... Would seek out local types... I use condritic metamorphic boulders from down in the canyon... some old bits of marine live rock, some chunked up fungiid skeletons collected from beaches here and there in with my African Cichlid tanks> Cindy P.S.  Bob, I talked to you a few weeks ago and mentioned I was getting ready to introduce a young Astatotilapia Latifasciata male into a tank with a large female of the same species.  She was alone at the time so I was worried she'd be extra territorial.  The male is all colored up, but only 1/6 her size. I set up a tank divider and moved him in with her.  I left the room for only a moment to find he had jumped the divider.  He was in her cave with her, no less!  She tolerated it, but I was nervous so I moved him back over and lowered the water level.  A few days later I found him with her again so I kept an eye on them and decided it was safe to remove the divider.  She still gets irritated and chases him, especially at feeding time, but it's obvious she's accepted him. This wasn't the first time a fish has jumped a divider on me. <Happens>   <<I discovered I had too much media crammed in with my Chemi-Pure bag (I just began testing it out about a week ago) and it was impeding water flow in their tank.  After correcting this the very next day these two fish were swimming and playing together like best buds above their bubble wand and in the current from their Fluval. This behavioral change was like night and day.  Chemi-Pure really works.  It calmed her aggression.  Boyd recently updated their website with a great explanation of how positive and negative ions effect fish behavior.  I'm a believer.  I plan on replacing all my filter media in my other tanks with this.   The two tanks I've been testing it on have happier fish, less algae and the water is cleaner.  Chemi-Pure is a must for cichlids!>> A few months earlier I introduced 2 young Female Aulonocara Rubescens to a full grown male.  Same thing happened, I left the room only to come back and find one of the females with the male.  I moved her back and the next morning I found her with him again!  Those two are still inseparable to this day.  She staked off turf right next to his cave and lip locked the other female whenever she approached.  For a while it appeared the male was going to be monogamous with her (I know, highly unlikely, but he showed no interest in the 2nd female and would chase her away, as well).  In fact, the 2nd female recently chased him for days until her ovipositor was bulging before she got him interested (either that or she laid sterile eggs) and finally began mouth brooding.  Not certain what happened here, she must have aborted because she began eating a week later.  <First goes are often rough...> The first female is holding her 2nd brood (I have her 1st fry in a tank and they are 7 wks old).  <Neat!>   <<I moved her into her own tank last night.  Today will be 13 days that she's been holding and as I understand it Aulonocara hatch at 15 days.  I've been adding some Hikari First Bites powder to her water for the past couple of days hoping she can somehow manage to get some nourishment through infusion.  Is this possible, or can she absorb nourishment through her gills?>>   >Mmm, no< <<I removed her first brood from the main tank after discovering them foraging for food (I'm estimating they were a week old at the time because their egg sacs were gone). ****Before removing her first fry from the community tank I searched online for tips and ran across posts on several fish forums which suggested vacuuming the fry out of the tank rather than netting them!!!!!!!!!  I couldn't believe what I was reading.  Unless the community tank is bare bottom (which most have some form of gravel substrate), the fry would get injured or killed by the tumbling gravel in the vacuum).  I removed all the adult fish and placed them in a heated tub with aeration, pulled out all the plants and décor and used a flashlight to hunt for the fry (they blend in almost like camouflage with the gravel) and gently netted them out one by one.  It was a long night, but I managed to rescue all of them, healthy, safe and sound!**** I am planning on leaving her together with her fry for about a week after they hatch.  I don't approve of egg stripping and I'd like to let her care for them until they're egg sacs are absorbed, at least.  Is there any risk to this? >Not much... Just not done by and large commercially to maximize "production"< She's young, but she seems to be a good mother.  I know with other species (for example, cats) when you remove the young at birth the young miss out on things normally taught to them by their mother. >> I sure hope you do decide write a book on freshwater husbandry.  I'd buy it in a heartbeat! <Am constantly adding to this work... and have good friends who are also building such... perhaps you will join us. Bob Fenner> <<Would love to help in any way that I can.  While on hiatus, which I'm hoping to be until the fall,  I have plenty of time to indulge in this pastime!>> >I look forward to this union< <<P.S.  I would love to send you several photos of the brooding female for your opinion.  I believe she has a terrible case of black spot and plan on treating her after she's separated from this new brood.  In the back of my mind I've been worrying she may have mycobacteriosis.  I got her from the same cichlid breeder distributor I got a Socolofi from 2 years ago which ended up with a case of black spot.  His was clearly black spot (specks) and they hatched and disappeared when the summer weather raised the tank heat up over 82 degrees (another reason I don't keep snails).  This female has a few specs that are slightly raised like pimples, but my main concern is her tail area is almost completely black in areas.>> Cindy >Please do send on any images you'd care to. BobF<

Plant and Algae Questions - 05/05/2006 Hello all! <Hi there - you've got Jorie here today> Hope ya'll are having a good day. <I am - beautiful sunny day in Chicago - hope you are enjoying yours as well!> About 2 years ago, my husband and I set up a FW tank in my old 46 gallon tank.  We added a large! piece of driftwood, several plants, 3 gouramis, 5 green barbs, 5 albino barbs, 1 pleco and 2 clown loaches.   <Do you know what kind of plants these were/are?> All was well for about 6 months, then the pleco started eating the plants so he was moved to the turtle tank and several Oto catfish algae eaters were added.  The tank then started to be taken over by algae! <Yes - I certainly can relate...this can and does happen!> We had our water tested and the phosphates were through the roof.   <Not surprised...> We purchased an RO filter and all water added from then on was/is RO water.  The algae raged on, not only on the glass but covering the rocks and driftwood. <Definitely a good move to switch from tap water to RO...since you didn't empty all the old water out and were only adding water change water (and I'm not suggesting you should have, just pointing out this fact!), I'm not surprised the algae didn't subside immediately.  I've always found the PolyFilter filter media to be the best phosphate remover, coupled with more frequent water changes, adding more plants to use the excess plant nutrients the algae thrives on, and feeding less.> About a year ago we moved so I decided that would be the perfect time to clean out the tank really well and try to get rid of the algae.  Not so.  The tank was covered!  After it was set back up we barely fed anything and the phosphates stayed high.  We were doing weekly 40% water changes as well as constantly scraping the glass and trying to rub off the driftwood.  We also kept PhosGuard in the filter constantly.  The tank became my personal nightmare. <Hmmm...sounds like you did everything I would have tried...can you describe the algae - what color and consistency was it? Some are harder than others to get rid of, esp. the notorious black beard algae (BBA)...> About 10 months later the Oto cats started eating the plants so they were given to a friend, the gouramis killed off the barbs one by one so they went back to the LFS and we were left with just the clown loaches.  I broke down the tank completely!   <Sometimes this is all you can do...> Scrubbed the driftwood, left it out in the sun to dry and kill any remaining algae, bleached the decorative rocks and left them in the sun, replaced about 80% of the water, threw away the plants as they were so covered with algae you couldn't see the actual leaves (sword plants); and much to my personal dismay, I added Tetra Algae Control.  The next day the clowns were dead, covered in a white fuzz. <Yeah, don't want to beat a dead horse and I am sure you learned your lesson, but in my opinion, when you want to rid your tank of something, be it algae, ammonia, nitrite, nitrates, etc., identifying the source of the trouble and modifying behavior (e.g., excess feeding, too much light, etc.) coupled with more frequent water changes is the way to go.  I've never understood the concept of adding chemicals to rid a tank of problems...all you are doing is adding extra chemicals on top of an existing problem!> We did a water change and let the tank sit for a week and then added 4 onion plants.  Initially they were doing fine but now one of them is starting to get that white fuzz on it's bulb and they are starting to develop algae on their leaves though the leaves are growing like crazy.  Algae is starting to grow on the driftwood again and I am about to lose my mind. <OK - again, a description/pic. of the algae would be most helpful.  Also, what kind of lighting do you have on this tank - perhaps it is over-lighted? Also, are your lights on timers? How many hours of light exposure is the tank getting? And, is the tank exposed to direct sunlight? All these factors can result in algae issues.  Additionally, a "siesta" time in lighting (e.g., having the lights off for a couple of hours during the day) can assist in algae control problems.> There have now been 3 vacuuming water changes and 3 weeks since adding the algaecide. <Keep doing water changes...I'd also suggesting running lights less and, depending on what kind of bulbs you have, cutting back.  if you just have the onion plants right now, those are pretty low-light demanding, so, for instance, if you have power compact lights, that would be excessive...would contribute to algae problems.> I am afraid to add any fish as I am afraid they will die. <I initially thought so too, but in reading further and seeing your perfect water parameters, I might reconsider...I've addressed the fish issue below.>   Also, if the algae gets going again I don't know what I'll do.  This hobby is starting to become a dreaded chore. <Well, we certainly don't want that! OK - my suggestions include: doubling your water changes, for the time being, adding PolyFilter to remove excess phosphate, feeding and lighting the tank less.> Now up to the present.  46 gallon tank, large piece of driftwood, 4 largish onion plants. Tetra Tec PF 500 filter, 1 power head and 2 small bubble strips to try to increase water movement (I read algae doesn't like moving water) <This is true - I might suggest you add another power head on the opposite side of where the 1 currently is...more circulation certainly cannot hurt.> Temp 76 Nitrates 0 Nitrites 0 Ammonia 0 pH 7.2 Phosphates 0 (finally!) <Parameters look great - congrats on he phosphates! Still, with the history of problems you are having, the PolyFilter can only help, in my humble opinion...> One 36 inch, 30 watt, Flora sun bulb and one 36 inch, 25 watt Ultra sun bulb on for 8 hours a day, the bulbs are 2 months old <Perhaps consider running just one bulb for now, as you do not have very many plants, and as mentioned above, the onion doesn't require too much light...that, or substantially increase the amount of plants you have - I think you are pretty heavily lighted at the moment.> I read that you need around 4-5 watts per gallon to grow plants (which we really want) but I am terrified that if I add higher wattage bulbs I will just get more and more algae. <I would not suggesting adding higher watt bulbs, as this will simply encourage more algae growth.  4-5 watts per gallon is on the higher end of average; with Anubias plants, crypts, Vallisneria and other relatively non-demanding plants, you will be just fine with what you've got.  Take a look at Peter Hiscock's Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants for suggestions on other low light plants, and even comprehensive discussions on algae control and other lighting issues!>   I know that more plants will take up the nutrients the algae is using to grow but the plants just die by being coated in algae so they can't even photosynthesize.  The onion plants have done the best of anything we have added.  We even tried java moss as we were told that java moss was tough!  It disintegrated and died. <I had the same experience, to be honest! As said above, Anubias plants do well in my tank.  Crypts do reasonably well, but I'd recommend trying the Anubias first.> <Have you tried any Anubias varieties - these are truly tough as nails plants and can withstand a whole lot.  They are also broad leaved and provide nice cover.  I'd recommend trying some - they are super-easy to maintain (in fact, due to the height and lighting conditions of my tank, I can't keep onions, but Anubias plants *thrive*...> Any suggestions as to how to keep my tank from being taken over by algae again?  My LFS is stumped as to why we were having this algae problem, they kept giving advice and nothing ever worked.  I am also afraid that if I scrape the glass and wood that I will just release the algae into the tank, allowing it to float around and attach to the rest of the surfaces in the tank.  Is this a reasonable fear? <I like to scrape the algae right before water change time and siphon out the "floaters" that way...> I also don't think I can bring myself to constantly clean every leaf on these onion plants. <Nor should you have to.  First, let's try to identify what kind of algae you are battling.  As I mentioned above, some are more persistent than others.  Without knowing the looks of what you have, sounds like it *could* be black beard, which is dreaded and many fish will just ignore.  In fact, the true Siamese algae eaters (be careful not to get the Chinese algae eaters, as they won't help, and they get mean as heck!> are about the only fish I am aware of that will eat the BBA.  Possibly Florida flag fish - but these can be tougher to find. I certainly applaud you not wanting to add fish to an unstable environment, but possibly consider trying a SAE to help you control the algae.  Also, you yourself hit the nail on the head when you said more plants - try the Anubias plants - there are many species out there and i think you'll be pleasantly surprised with how easy to care for they are.  Finally, I would still suggest the PolyFilter, additional water changes, adding the additional power head, and cutting down on the amount of time you have the lights on.  Try 6 hours for now, and see how the plants do.  Also, if the tank's in direct sunlight, that will cause an algae problem. Do I sound safe to add fish? <Your water parameters are excellent - I think you should be all right.  Consider the Siamese algae eater, or alternatively, the flag fish to assist you in with your algae problem.  The latter are very colorful...> We were thinking cichlids, can these live with clown loaches? <From the reading I've done, I understand clown loaches are a favorite among cichlid-keepers...can't personally attest, but that's what my research tells me...> If I have to go through the whole algae problem again I think I will just bow out of the aquarium hobby! <Well, we don't want you to do that! You've worked so hard and should be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Plus, with such excellent water parameters and dedication, you are a welcome addition to the hobby...> I hope this is a good amount of information, I tried to present it as it happened and not to ramble too much. <Very helpful background info. - no rambling! Only thing I am missing is a better description of the type of algae you are battling...> I would very much appreciate any advice you could give. <Hopefully I've given you some things to try.  Do check out the book recommend above, as it can give you additional suggestions as well.  Best of luck!> Thanks, Olivia <You're welcome.  Jorie> PS.  I have loved your site and read it regularly for the past 6 years!   <Thank you!> Thanks for ya'lls time! <And yours!>

Plant and Algae Questions - 05/07/2006 Jorie, Thank you for your prompt and helpful reply! <You are welcome - trust me, as a planted FW community tank enthusiast, I have battled all sorts of algae as well, and I know how frustrating it can be!> About your question about the type of algae, it is darkish green, and not slimy, more fuzzy.  When it grows on the glass, one of those magnetic algae scrapers won't remove it at all.  It takes a credit card type thing to scrape it off and even using that it is hard to scrape and I usually end up rocking the tank, I'm so vigorously working!  On the driftwood I use a clean dishwashing sponge with a tough scrubbie side.  On the plants it covers the leaves, stems, everything.  If you look closely you can see little filaments sticking off but it is not crazy long like the saltwater hair algae I once had in my old saltwater tank.  When I try to rub it off the plants it comes off in kind of clumps. <It sounds like beard algae - very tough and durable (as you've noticed!> The plants initially purchased were a really tall grass and what my LFS calls "bunch plants".  Most of their plants are not actually labeled by name, just if they are "bunch" or "potted".  Those eventually died due to the algae and we added potted sword plants.  Those are what we threw out recently.  Now we have the onions. <I understand.> I did learn my lesson about the algaecide.  I just felt at the end of my rope and was desperate for something to kill this algae.  We've spent quite a bit of money on plants and a lot of time on this tank and I don't feel like I can enjoy it.  Don't worry though, no more algaecide chemicals for me! <That's what I figured - wasn't trying to chastise, by any means, just educate...> Ok, the current plan is this...clean the tank really well!!!! <Okay - without chemicals, just scraping and water changes, right?!>  Go and buy more plants, but of the Anubias variety. <Sounds good. I think you will be pleased at how well they do, and how low maintenance they are.>   Possibly get an algae eater or two. <OK> The lights are on a timer so I'll set it to give them a siesta during the day.  We aren't feeding anything at the moment as there are no fish but when we do add some we will feed sparingly.  Sound good? <Sounds great.  I still *highly* recommend the PolyFilter, as even though your phosphate reading is currently at zero, that is most likely because the algae is using all the phosphates to survive.  The PolyFilter is a white sponge-like filter media that can be cut to fit any existing filter media hardware.  I buy them by bulk on www.drsfostersmith.com - it's the most economical way, I've found.> Thanks again for your help and your time, Olivia <You're welcome and good luck! Let us know  how things turn out.  Jorie>

Plant Tank With Algae  - 04/02/06 Hi Everyone, I need some suggestions regarding my tank. It is a 72 gallon planted aquarium with a 265W PC lamp ( built in fans and moonlights ) five inches over it. The bulbs are 2 65W 12000K Odyssea and 2 Hamilton Super Sunlight 55 W bulbs. The filter is an Aquaclear 500 with a sponge, charcoal and Zeolite bags. It is very lightly stocked for the time being - a dozen assorted tetras, two kissing Gouramis, 2 bumble bee cats, 2 African dubawi cats, a Cupid ram and 2 African butterfly fish. I had great luck with plants for a while, until last summer due to a decimation by snails while I was on vacation ( the LFS told me they are plant safe! ). I have had on and off luck with the replanting until a couple of months ago. My biggest problem has been algae growing all over the plants, and the leaves developing brown spots and wasting away. Currently, the plants are a mixture of swords, java fern, java moss ( took over the tufa rock, after the snails left me with only a few strands ),corkscrew Val, dwarf chain sword, some baby tears and a clump of Cabomba carolina. A few others didn't make it. I had to send in my lamp for warranty exchange and it took two weeks to get a new one. In the interim, the tank only received indirect sunlight from an eastern facing window. During that time most of the plants didn't do too well - started growing stunted leaves, and the existing ones often browned, and wasted away. The Cabomba, on the other hand, thrived to the point where I had a nice clump in one corner. About two months ago, though, I put the new lamp on, with half the lights on for 14 hours, and the other half on for about 8 hrs. Algae hasn't been that much of a problem for most of the tank. I have some on the glass and some rocks covered with it ( that's fine for me ). The biggest problem has been that the algae has overgrown most of the Cabomba and some of the swords. Much of the lower leaves have died and come off. Some of the new growth is ok but there isn't much new growth anymore. Does Cabomba do better under low light? < No actually stem plants do best under bright light and CO2.> I dose with Seachem macro fertilizer w/iron and I have flourish tabs in the gravel near the roots. I do water changes ( not as often as I should lately due to school ) and my water parameters are all fine - ammonia - 0, nitrites - 0, nitrates under 10 ppm, pH 6.8-7 ( I have a hard time reading the colors).  The water is NYC tap water, 1-2 degrees of hardness ( general and calcium ). I want to be able to grow the Cabomba so that I can have a nice bushy clump. If it doesn't grow well under these conditions, does do you have suggestions for something similar that would ? < Most stem plants light bright light CO2 and good fertilization. Unfortunately most of the fine leaved plants you are looking at fall into this category. Changing the color intensity to 6500 K will help.> Oh the temp is between 78-80 ( I leave the heater off ). I use Stress Coat ( Can you recommend a dechlorinator I can use instead ? < Ultimate is a very good water conditioner that will take care of chlorine as well as chloramines.> ) during water changes since I don't have anywhere to store water . The only thing I could think of that could cause the algae problem is the sponge in the filter since I don't change it as often as I should, and I have high phosphates, though nitrates/nitrites stays very low to 0. < When the plants are not growing properly they don't utilize the available nutrients and algae takes over. With proper lighting and proper fertilization the algae will become less of a problem.> I also need a suggestion for a nice plant ( besides Java Fern or moss ) that can grow under higher flow rates. I have a corner that receives the output from the Aquaclear. I tried Watersprite there but it came apart. I have a java fern covered tufa rock in the area so I want something different that will grow in the gravel ( I forgot, the substrate is regular gravel mixed with Eco Substrate - I believe that was the name brand ). Any suggestions? Thanks, Eric N. < No matter what plant you put there the flow will push it down or over. Try to break up the direct flow a little bit with a piece of driftwood or a rock. Many crypts, crinums and Anubias species will do well in a corner that does not get as much light as the rest of the tank.-Chuck>

Planted aqua question Seeing Green - 03/08/2006 Bob, <Actually, Sabrina here, in his stead.> I have read every email exchange regarding the use of a UV sterilizer and control of green water.  For several years, I've kept an 82 gallon-CO2 infused-bow front-planted aquarium.  It's very beautiful and I have great luck.   <Sounds great.> Unfortunately, I've gotten busy; hence, I've needed to go to slower growing plants in lieu of those I've had in the past.  This has resulted in a constant battle with green water.  I can't keep the plants fed (nutrients and light) and stop a repetitive algae bloom.  Shortening the lighting time and cutting the feeding is too hard on the plants (yellowing and spindle). <.... then something here is missing, or in too great an abundance....  What the plants can't or won't use, the algae will.  The three key things to think about are CO2, light, and macronutrients/fertilizers.  If only one of these is too "low", the other two cannot be entirely used by the plants and will be taken up by the simpler algaes.  If one or two or all three of these things are in abundance and not able to be used by the plants, again, that excess goes to fuel algal growth.  The trick here is to find what your plants need, and fill those needs WITHOUT exceeding them.  I find that most aquarists tend to OVER fertilize, so you might start there, but try cutting back on one of these factors, one at a time, for a handful of weeks at a time, to see which might be the key.> I've decided to try the Vecton UV sterilizer.   <Effective against green water/free-floating algae, to be sure!  The only fear I have here is that, once you've killed the green water algae, something else is going to replace it....  Those nutrients are GOING to go Somewhere.> Per your advice, it's the best on the market.  My question is: How will the UV affect the nutrient content of the water?  Will it pull/destroy the nutrients I add to the water for the plants?   <Maybe, but not in a significant way, I don't think.  I confess that I'm not too well educated on what happens to "stuff" run through a UV unit, aside from the living things (algae, parasites, etc.) dying.> Will the iron and potassium added hurt the sterilizer?   <I very much doubt it.> Thanks so much for your help.  JJ <Do please consider taking a look at the book "Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants" by Peter Hiscock.  He explains this use of nutrients MUCH better than I do, with nifty diagrams and all.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Seeing Green - II - 03/09/2006 Sabrina, Thanks so much for your note.   <Glad to be of service!> I entirely agree with you on all aspects, and in the past good husbandry has solved all my problems.  I've tried exactly what you've recommended: trying first to decrease fertilizer - over a 6 week period, there was no change, then; gradually decreasing the light: worked great on the green algae; however, the sword plants suffered yellow and drop and the crypts got leggy.  The Nitrogen is in perfect balance.  The tank is as phosphate free as possible.   <Have you tried decreasing fertilizers and CO2 at the same time?  Be wary of your pH when/if you alter your CO2 levels.> I own the "Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants" by Peter Hiscock; <I just love that name.> and unfortunately, he says nothing about the long-term use of UV in a planted tank.  Per all my reading, I'm certainly not the only one to suffer this problem.   <True, indeed.> Many seem to use the UV to solve the initial problem; however, no one reports what long term effects they have on the nutrient balance, plants, problems replacing the green free floating, or nutrient damage to the Sterilizer. <Hopefully, this lack of information represents a lack of negative results!> So, I guess this will be an experiment.   <Prior to shelling out the bucks for the UV unit, you might try something simpler, like adding some good "nitrate sponge" type plants - Elodea, floating Pistia/water lettuce (if possible) or the like.  Perhaps a hardy, nutrient-sucking plant like this will aid you in your battle.> I know the green algae will go away, and I'll let you know what happens after that. <I'd love to hear your results.> Thanks again.  This site has been a tremendous resource for me. <I am very glad to hear this - thank you for these kind words.  Oh - I note your location; any good plant shops in your area, besides Ocean and Aquaforest in San Fran, and Albany in.... wherever it is?  Have you ever taken part in SFBAAPS?  If not, you might have fun with it.  And do feel free to swing by our Silicon Valley Aquarium Society gatherings in San Jose!  Quite a haul for ya, but you might have fun.  http://www.svas.info .  And if you're into Cichlids at all, do check out the PCCA this Saturday - it's a VERY fun group, and I'm not even a cichlid girl.  http://www.cichlidworld.com .  Let me know if you head down for either of these, I'd be glad to say hi.> Joey T Johnston <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Algae on Plants   1/11/06 Dear WWM crew, I'm quite addicted to reading on WWM site. I think it's time for me to make it my home page! I have a 30 gal very well established (2 years) planted freshwater tank. Water quality is usually very good, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, traces of nitrates. I perform my water changes with vacuuming every week. Filtration is a Penguin  filter with BioWheel. For my plants I add iron supplement and Seachem excel ( CO2 supplement). Plants and fish doing great. I have an annoying problem I can not figure out. Dark green algae velvety are growing on my sword plants and Madagascar lace plant. I usually leave some algae on the rocks. Walls are never problems. But plants... Removing them and washing is not an option - plants are very big and very well established. I tried to scrub them but it does not work. How can I deal with this problem? All together I'm not trying to get rid of algae completely but to keep them away from my plants. Maybe I should get an algae eater? Thank you for all your help! Inna < Add Siamese algae eaters and replace your light bulbs. The algae eaters do a great job on this kind of algae and the old light bulbs  may be getting weak and the plants aren't quite pulling all the nutrients out of the water like they use too.-Chuck>

 Algae Covering All The Plants  12/22/05 Hi WWM, I'm going to give a detailed snap shot of my setup so you can better assist me with my question.  I have a 125g heavily planted tank that has been in operation since April of 2003 with (2) Magnum 350 and (1) HOT Magnum 220 filter all with half Laguna Bio Media and Seachem Matrix Biosupport media.  In the event of a power loss (I live in Florida) I have 2 battery operated air pumps with two sponge filters that are on a timer that activate from 10pm to 1030am.  A Carbo Plus CO2 system set on 7 bars (70%) output. Aquanetics 15IL UV sterilizer, ECO Aqualizer Ionizer X 225, and 3 100watt submersible Heaters set at 86 degrees F.  Substrate is (2) part Fluorite and 1 part fine gravel 3 inches deep.  Lighting:  (2) 36" Nova Extreme T 5 HO with lunar lights using (8) 36" slimpaq T5 HO 39w 6700k compact Fluorescent Bulbs which are on a timer along with the CO2 from 1030am to 10pm.  Lunar lights activate at 10pm till 1am.  Fish include:  13 Discus, 9 Rummy Nose Tetras, 2 German Blue Rams, 2 Gold Rams, 4 Oto's, 1 Clown Pleco (when purchased I didn't realize he only ate bogwood, but he grew on me), 1 Bristle Nose, 1 Clown Loach for snail control, but he didn't get the memo), 3 Golden Asian Clams, and lastly a bunch of Ghost and Cherry Red Shrimp.  My maintenance sched is 20g water change every Fri and 30g at the end of each month with Alternating half tank gravel vacuuming on the second and last week of each month.  I had a RO system installed in the house for better quality water prep for the tank.  My question finally; I just retired from the Navy and had to travel to Pensacola for out processing and I was gone a week 15 Oct to 20 Oct ( I live alone), when I got back I had the most horrible case of Algae (hair Algae completely covered my bogwood and blue/Green Algae covered the top portions of the plants).  Since then I've stopped adding fertilizer (Tropica master grow) added another Magnum 350 with a Phosphate pad wrapped around a Micron cartridge and do water changes every other day till now and though it has diminished significantly the Algae persists what gives?  The tank is not by a window, shades were closed anyway.  The bulb in the UV was two months old at that time, The kids were being fed cichlid Attack pellets via automatic feeder.  Ammonia was 0 ppm, ph was 6.7  I didn't check my Nitrite/Nitrate levels cause my testing agent was empty.  Kids were fine though, no apparent stress, swimming happily foraging for live food I'd imagined, good color in the discus, no dead shrimp, no Rummy loss, I'm stumped.  Could it be my lights on too long? Paul < A well planted tank like yours gets some algae sometimes. Usually the plants absorb all of the nutrients and there is nothing left for the algae to feed on. When you get big blooms like this it usually means the plants have stopped growing and slowed down. The extra nutrients are then available for lower plant life like algae to thrive. The first thing I would check is the bulbs. If you are using the same bulbs then they light spectrum may have changed over time as the bulbs have gotten weaker. Try new light bulbs and shorten the photo period for awhile. Higher plants have some storage capacity while lower plants like algae quickly use up any reserves. The new bulbs would favor the plants and encourage growth while the shortened photo period may weaken  and slow down the algae. Discontinue the fertilizers until things stabilize.-Chuck>

She Says She's Running Out of Options (to Control Blue-Green Algae) In a Freshwater Planted Tank  11/30/05 I got such good advice last January that I'm back for more! I really enjoy your site and read the updates every day - who knows when the information will come in handy. <Great to hear. It's addictive, isn't it?> I have a 15 gallon, set up in November, 2004. It is home to 5 Black Neon and 3 Gold Tetras, 1 Otocinclus and 1 Bolivian Ram. Conditions haven't varied since January - ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate at 0; phosphates barely registering; pH stable at 7.2; GH below 20, and KH 30; iron 0. <Assuming the KH is in ppm, then it is quite low at only 1.6dKH. I don't bother testing for iron - waste of time IMO.> The water is tested at least twice per month. <All sounds good> It uses a 55W compact florescent (changed out in August and on 11 hours per day) and an Aquaclear filter rated for 30 gallons containing foam, a small amount of phosphate remover, and ceramic doughnuts, in that order. A power head rated for 30 gallons (but set in the mid range since no one was enamored with the tsunami effect) and DIY CO2 were added in mid-August. The impellers in the filter and power head are checked monthly to be sure they are functioning properly. <Good practice> The heater's set at 79. It's moderately planted on Fluorite substrate with swords, vals, crypts, and Java fern. There are also floating plants, primarily water sprite. I have one piece of wood and a couple of pieces of slate. I replace 2-4 gallons of water every 7 to 9 days after conditioning it and adding a teaspoon of Blackwater Extract. The fish are active and interested in their food - a mix of frozen blood worms and flakes or pellets. I have lost one Oto since the fish were added last December. <Sounds very healthy> The problem is Blue-Green Algae. It has been visible in the tank since January but confined itself to the open area of gravel at the front of the tank where it could be managed through siphoning every other day. On September 8, I noticed hair algae forming, possibly in response to a mild dose of ferts  <<fertilizer>> (half teaspoon) that I put into the tank earlier that week, or to the increased light from the new CF. <I suspect the latter. I have never been a fan of CF lighting on my planted tank. My choices on this side of the world are more limited in terms of spectrum, but I have found that even the whitest bulbs I can buy do not encourage as much plant growth as the equivalent wattage of good spectrum NO fluorescent tubes.> I added the ferts because the plants had stopped pearling and the leaves were starting to yellow. I have continued to add minor amounts (less than half teaspoon per week) of ferts and a lesser amount of Flourish iron up to the present time. <Sounds fine, assuming everything else is in balance.> The level of BLUE-GREEN ALGAE remained pretty much constant until mid-October. Then the hair algae suddenly took over the side of the tank near the filter and the BLUE-GREEN ALGAE "disappeared". The side of the tank containing the power head never had any hair algae in it. By November 2, in spite of the hair algae, the plants were pearling again and had lost their yellow tinge. On November 20 I noticed BLUE-GREEN ALGAE in the gravel. By the 22nd all the hair algae had died - globs of it were floating in the water and were siphoned out. I started checking the water every other day because it was obvious something was up but the results were identical to those listed above. Now the BLUE-GREEN ALGAE is invading the plants and saying hello to the wood. And, in a new twist, the Fluorite under the BLUE-GREEN ALGAE contains gas bubbles that rise to the surface when I siphon the substrate. I suspect that the gas is caused by decomposing hair algae, and that this is feeding the BLUE-GREEN ALGAE? <Perhaps> In my efforts to combat the BLUE-GREEN ALGAE I have read as much as I can find, and have responded over several months by increasing the wattage of the lights, adding the power head to increase the water circulation, and adding CO2 and ferts in the hope that healthier plants would out-compete the BLUE-GREEN ALGAE. The plants are growing well but not luxuriantly. Then again, half of them were completely covered in hair algae two weeks ago. The floating plants have much denser root systems than the same plants in my other tanks and these seem to be a magnet for the BLUE-GREEN ALGAE. I honestly do not think I am overfeeding. I feed a very small amount once per day and watch to be sure it is eaten. The Ram is a sloppy, slow eater who eats in the open space where most of the BLUE-GREEN ALGAE lives but the tetras hang around his lips at feeding time and it looks like they get most of the overflow. They are fed after they clean up his scraps. Based on what I have read, I appear to have eliminated most BLUE-GREEN ALGAE-supporting factors over the course of time, although the lack of nitrates may be an issue. I have never had detectable nitrates in this little tank, presumably because of the plants.  <If the plants are flourishing, then this is perfectly possible. If not, the test kit may be suspect.> I know that I can't eliminate BLUE-GREEN ALGAE, but I'm sure the fish wouldn't object if The Hand stopped making such frequent appearances. <Absolutely> I don't want to add antibiotics because they are not going to fix the imbalance. <Agreed, they would just make the situation far, far worse.> If there is something else you can suggest I'd be happy to try it. <Your set-up mostly sounds very good, but there are still a few options you could try. First of all, your tank would fall into the "high light" category, and as such it is crucial, as you know, to keep everything in balance. Given a pH of 7.2 and a KH of 1.6 dKH, your CO2 level is rather low at under 5ppm. You'll need to get that up a bit to bring things into balance. 20 - 25ppm would be a more appropriate level to shoot for.  Whether you can achieve this with DIY CO2 is difficult to say. Before shooting for higher CO2 levels, it might be a good idea to slightly raise your KH to at least 2 dKH (I shoot for 3 - 4 dKH) to guard against dangerous pH swings. You can do this with a pinch of baking soda (be careful - you may want to investigate the amount needed on a few gallons of aged tap water to determine the levels... only a very, very tiny amount is needed.) To convert between CO2 level, KH and pH, take a look at the chart here: http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/CO2/kh-ph-co2-chart.html > Many thanks from everyone in the tank (well, other than the BLUE-GREEN ALGAE).  Evelyn  <Good luck and thank you for the well-written e-mail. I hope this helps with your aquatic gardening endeavors. John>

Plant Tank, Beating Algae - 10/27/2005 Hi, <Hello.> I have a planted (Amazon sword, water sprite and micro sword) 36 gal tank. I've noticed what appears to be a florescent green algae (please see attached picture). <Mm, there is no picture attached....> This is growing on my substrate and on my plants. What is this? Is it algae? <Sounds likely.> It almost looks like oxidation. What can I do to get rid of it? <Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/AquariumGardenSubWebIndex.html - in the sections under Plant Nutrition and Algae Control.> I've been adding supplements from the Seachem Flourish Fundamentals (Flourish and Iron) and Enhance (Potassium, Phosphorus and Nitrogen) packs. I've followed the dosing schedule on their website which is 3.5 ml of iron daily and 1.75 ml of the others ~ every three days. <Mm, no mention of CO2.... If plants lack a certain type of nourishment (macro/micro nutrients, CO2, or light) they will only be able to use a part of the other types of nourishment. Algae will consume the excess. Sounds like you may have more fertilizers going in than can currently be used by the plants - either increase the missing "link" here, or decrease that of which you have excess.> Thanks, -Rob <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Brown/orange coating on leaves, literacy Hi guys. <Lewis> I've just set up a new 100 litre freshwater tropical aquarium there are currently two fish in the tank and it has been running for two weeks.  just recently I have noticed a brown/orange coating on the leaves of my plants, and there have been several pesky little snails annoying me, is the discolouration caused by the snails or is it something else (maybe the filter, biological filter in tank hood)? thanks Lewis <Mmm, hard to tell w/o more information, perhaps a microscopic examination... perhaps just an algal growth, maybe evidence of some sort of deterioration of your plants themselves... from lack of nutrient, lighting...? Bob Fenner>

Algae Problems I've been reading a lot about how I can control my beard algae problem and I've come across an article about how high levels of iron can promote beard algae. What is your take on this? I currently use Seachem Fluorite/Sand combo with gravel and I have tons of excess Iron. I don't add it separately, but I do add Seachem flourish and potassium once a week. Is there a way I can reduce iron in my tank? My tank is moderately planted with CO2, Otocinclus catfish, a few shrimp, platys (2.5) and cherry barbs (3). Ammonia/nitrites=0 and nitrates are around 18. Any ideas? Chris <Algae problems are usually caused by excessive nutrients. Other things besides iron could cause you problem. Basically the plants should be absorbing everything if they are growing well. I would check the potassium, phosphorus and iron levels. Check these against your tap water and see if you are adding the right fertilizers. Most plant people do large 50% water changes so they don't develop any build up of nutrients-Chuck> 

Green film is ruining my life... and my tank... I've got a huge problem with my planted tank and am looking for anyone with a similar experience. I'm not exactly new to the planted tank thing and my tanks been successful for many years, until now. I have a green film growing over everything and I suspect it is bacterial and not algae.  <Mmmm, perhaps both... Cyanobacteria, aka Blue Green Algae> The reason I think this is I tested for nitrates and phosphates and they don't even register on my test they are so low. Also there is no other type of visible algae in the tank. I completely cleaned the tank as the stuff is easy to remove, just a pain. I then kept the lights out overnight and in the morning before the lights even came back on the stuff was back forming patches on the substrate. It quickly spreads and covers everything in the tank, even the snails. It doesn't seem to impede plant growth all that much because most all the plants are still growing and spreading. It does stink, is very slimy, and you can remove it in sheets.  <Bingo... all qualities of BGA> I set up a 10gal tank with the same fluorite substrate and some java ferns from the infested tank but with no fish, no CO2, and no dosing of fert.s. The PH in the 10gal was around 7.2 whereas the PH in the main tank is controlled to stay at 6.8. The stuff still spread like wildfire. I'm at my wits end and am about to completely nuke the tank. Please advise if anyone has knows what this stuff is and how I can get rid of it. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontags.htm and the Linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Amazon Sword plants with Black Fungus - Makes Sense Now!
Bob and Crew, <Dave> Thanks. I understand more clearly now. I hate it when I go back and re-read the FAQ once I have been pointed to it specifically and it all of a sudden makes perfect sense. <Mmmm, like old age... "beats the alternative!"> One follow up question: If the nutrient level in the water (NO3, in my case - way too high) is the cause of the beard algae, and if the leaf-wasting phenomenon (leaves becoming lacy) is due to a *lack* of nutrients, then I must conclude that I need to research the measurement and possible supplement of other (non-nitrogenous) nutrients? Does that make sense, or am I still missing something? <Well stated... yes, nitrate isn't actually very "available" to aquatic plants... a good idea to provide either lots of fish "wastes", count on slow growth... or provide a complete (N, P, K) fertilizer... and BEST to do this AND have a soil mixed in with your substrate, carbon dioxide infusion....> Got a lot to learn, apparently, that is for certain! <Mmm, well... the way I see it, the more I understand the more I enjoy life...> I recently finished reading (pass 1) "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist"; please let me add my congratulations to the long list for the clearest introductory marine aquarium text I have read. Excellent job. Quite enjoyable. Cheers, Dave <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Bob Fenner>
Re: Amazon Sword plants with Black Fungus, FAMA "sales"
Bob and Crew, <Dave> Thanks again for the response. Illuminating, as usual. Hopefully, this short spate of follow-on questions is not overstaying my welcome. <Not going to happen> Well, I have spent the last several days perusing the WetWebMedia and The Krib web pages per your earlier response, and I now find myself, like the guy in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", with lots of great answers to my questions, but, now, even more questions, some of them quite basic, it appears. At the risk of being pointed to pages that I have seen but skipped in the last several days, I am going to try and make sure I am not going in a completely inappropriate direction here. <Ahh, clarity is pleasurable... and your "quest" will yield this in time, effortlessness> My goal with the freshwater aquarium was to create a planted aquarium which would host a reasonable amount of diverse but compatible freshwater fish, with perhaps a few invertebrates. It is a sort of pre-school step for setting up my 90 gallon marine tank. <Very good to understand a situation, critical to understand what one is about...> I have a 46 gallon glass tank with an undergravel filter as well as a Marineland Penguin 170 outboard filter. I have two AquaClear 30 powerheads, located near the top of the water, one on the left and one on the right, which drive the undergravel filter. I have 2x Blue Tetras, 2x Neons, 2x Green Barbs, 2x Tiger Barbs, 6x Glass Cats, 2x Plecos, 2x Chinese Algae Eaters, 6x Serpae Tetras, 2x Masked Corys, and 2x, Clown Loaches, plus a few various small shrimp. My current plant crop is limited to Amazon Swords, several of which are succumbing to the Beard Algae that started this whole  discussion. <Yes> Now, after reading through several of the WWM/Krib FAQs/Articles, I am a bit concerned about the undergravel filter and its compatibility with the intent to grow live plants. So, my first question is, do I need to dispose of the undergravel filter, and, if so, what would I replace it with? <I would at least "turn off" the powerheads (leaving the plates, risers in place) at this point... the hang on filter will do what you need here> A larger external mech/carbon/bio filter? Or do I need to take a page from marine aquarium technology and set up some sort of sump (I don't have a ready location for this sort of thing with the freshwater tank)? Or what? I thought I had done a good job of going through the set-up FAQs before I started, but, did I make a major mis-calculation here? <I would see how the current hang on does... do monitor your nitrogen cycle initially... as cessation of circulation through the substrate does have some consequences> Some of the WWM webpages seem to indicate that using an undergravel filter is perfectly compatible with plant cultivation. Is this true? <Mmm, strictly speaking, yes... Please allow me a shot to be clear/er here. Non-rooted plants (e.g. "grasses") do not "care" whether there is UG use or no... many rooted plants are disadvantaged by UG use... loss/competition for nutrients mostly... Such that these rooted plants are far better off "planted" in blind pots, or sequestered to an area that lacks UG plates... Overall, almost all "planted freshwater aquariums" are far better off WITHOUT undergravel filtration.> The idea I have forming here is to add substrate (I am using natural 1/8" - 1/4" mixed gravel) so it is deeper, say 2-1/2" - 3" or so (I have about 1-1/2" - 2" right now) and buy or make some small plastic dishes, say 3" - 4" in diameter, maybe 2" deep for each plant and "plant" each plant in an aquatic soil (need to figure out what that means, as well) in one of these Petri-dish sort of things. However, this would seem to restrict me to plants whose root systems are clustered, and would seem to mean I would have to forget any idea of cultivating "carpet" type plantings. This, with considered application of some (small) amount of NPK fertilizer would seem to offer an alternative to disposing of the undergravel filter.  <A good plan, but this is so> BTW, while exploring the possibility of downloading some of the FAMA references in various WWM pages, I see that FAMA is now soliciting requests from subscribers (I am one) for online back-issue articles. They say that they haven't a lot available yet, but the webpage for requesting articles is "Article Request Page"  if anyone is interested. <Thank you for this... good of them, but disturbing for content providers... they do NOT have the legal right/s to reproduce our work... A small concern of mine for my part... as my hundreds of articles, thousands of images that ran in their pages are posted on WWM...> I have requested a few .. we'll see what happens. Cheers and Many Thanks.  Dave <Thank you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Amazon Sword plants with Black Fungus
Bob & Crew, <Dave> Thanks for the info. I have unplugged the undergravel filter (I plan to set up the two powerheads for circulation only) and installed a larger (280 GPH) external power filter, plus I am doing 10% water changes every other day until the NO3 level gets down to something reasonable. <Keep this under 1.0 ppm> I plan to limit the gravel vacuuming to weekly at present until I see what the result of the above steps is. I may need to clean it more thoroughly, but I figured I'd approach that with caution. <Good> I will quit requesting/downloading articles from the FAMA website - I did not realize that that was not sanctioned by the authors. It would probably be a good idea to make that fact more generally known.  <I thank you for this... as a content provider being stolen from, a citizen, human> One (another) follow-up question: can I go ahead and start trying an NPK plant nutrition supplement while the NO3 level is high, or do I need to wait until the NO3 level gets down to 0 - 20 ppm before starting to use NPK supplements? <Mmm, don't know... in my ignorance, I would NOT add it at this point. You might posit the same question on "thekrib"... look into making PMDDs going forward... Bob Fenner> 

Algae problem in freshwater Hey there.  My 130 gallon freshwater tank has been running for about two months now and is moderately planted.  Most of the plants have been growing great and have at least tripled their size as when I bought them.  My ammonia and nitrite test zero, and my nitrate is at 20. (Or nitrite is 20 and vice-versa.  It's late and I forget which is which.)  I have a 10 inch clown fish, two 10" rope fish, a 12" spiny eel, a 6" fire eel, and a 9" Pleco.  I feed all of my fish by hand (dew-worms, earthworms, mealworms, bloodworms, frozen shrimp, etc.), so there isn't any leftover food to rot and add to the nutrients.  I have medium-low light (only 150 watts for my 130 gallon) and no CO2 injector.  I only add monthly iron and fertilizer for my plants.  Unfortunately, during the last few weeks, beard algae has started growing on the edges of my sword plant, my mongo (Mondo?) grass plant, and another leaf plant.  It's started to get worse and the edges of these plants are starting to turn brown and curl.  I'm going to try a test and add a few ghost shrimp to the tank to see if they survive (the eels didn't take an interest to them in my old tank, and I think that they're too small for the clown to bother with, but I'm worried about the ropefish).  If they do, I'm going to add a bunch of Amano Shrimp.  If not, I'm not sure what to do.  I can't get any fish smaller than 4-5 inches long or my clown will get them.  I have a large apple snail in one of my other tanks and was wondering if I should add it to this one, or if it will do more damage to the plants than the algae.  If you could please help me with this problem I would really appreciate it.  Thanks. Dayton < Usually algae is a situation with either too much light or an excessive amount of nutrients in the water. The lighting seems OK so I would go with excessive nutrient build up that can be controlled with regular water changes., regularly servicing the filter and occasionally vacuuming the gravel. Try some algae eating fish like some Garra Sp. or true Siamese algae eating sharks.-Chuck>
Re: Beard Algae
Hi, this e-mail is directed to Chuck.  Thank you for the information regarding the algae growth. but you didn't quite answer the question that I wanted to know.  I do weekly water changes (which are done by siphoning the gravel) and have a Classic Eheim and Fluval 403 (404?) filter that were cleaned about a month ago, so that isn't the problem.  I have a fair amount of plants in my tank, so I think that the low light isn't allowing the plants to absorb as much nutrients as they normally would.  The inhabitants of the tank are all quite large fish that leave a lot of excrement in the tank, which I believe isn't being used up by the plants completely.  I just upgraded my light a few days ago to a total of 220 watts, so I'm hoping that that'll get the plants to be more effective.  Maybe I'll even need to add a CO2 injector.  Now, I can't really add any Siamese Algae Eaters or other similar fish since I have seen my clown knife easily make a meal of a 6" long goldfish.  Any fish that are larger than 6" will probably end up being the main course for the clown knife in the future as he grows (he's already doubled his size in the past three months) so I'm pretty sure that those are out of the question.  So, I guess the one question that I really need to know is if I should add my apple snail to the tank.  Even if he doesn't help with reducing the amount of algae I would still like to have him in this aquarium.  As long as he doesn't eat all of my plants.  So, do you think that he'll do more destruction to my plants or if it'd be alright to introduce him to his new tankmates?  Thank you. < Apple snails get big and they may get damaged by your larger fish wanting to take a chunk out your snails as a tasty treat. They will probably eat the softer new growth of your plants too. As far as you algae problem I still think it is a nutrient problem. Nitrates aren't the only nutrient you have to contend with. Your original tap water may have excessive potassium or phosphorus. The newer lighting hopefully will help You could try some R/O or distilled water and try a few water changes with it to see if that makes a difference too.  When you start with pure water then you are in control of most of the nutrients you add for you plants.-


Black growth in planted tank Dear WWM, I have a 55gal planted tank, running an old Whisper 3, and a pair of 24" 50/50 bulbs. A black, tufty plant/fungus has started growing on the driftwood and filter intakes. I've tried scrubbing it off, only for it to grow back almost overnight. My Otocinclus cats and Corys ignore it completely. The fish don't seem to be bothered, and my swords and java fern continue to grow well, it just detracts from the appearance of the tank. Can you tell me what it may be, and how to keep it in control without having to pull it all off daily. < This is called beard algae. It is caused by an excessive nutrient in the water. You need to do more or larger water changes to remove the excess nutrient in the water. Siamese algae eaters and Garra Species (African Stone lapping fish) work great at keeping it under control but it takes time. -Chuck> 

Fighting Algae in a Plant Tank - 03/15/2004 Please kindly help me with this bugging issue. <Sabrina here, hoping to be able to help!> 1st pic: there's always a collection of waste (??) or algae stuck in between the stems and leaves, so much so that it totally covers the green color. Why? <It's really tough to tell from the pic, but it looks perhaps like diatom algae.> 2ng pix: I know that's definitely algae on the Amazon Sword, but nothing seems to help... I bought Otos n Plecos but they didn't seem to contribute much help. <Yes....  Looks like Black Beard algae to me.  The only animals that may be of use in combating this are Siamese Algae Eaters (Crossocheilus siamensis), Amano shrimp (Caridina japonica), and possibly Florida Flagfish (Jordanella floridae).> Mine's a 60 x 30 x 45 cm tank. Light, 35w for 12hrs a day from 8pm - 8am, CO2 running at 2 bubbles/sec, internal filter, 25% weekly water change with added fertilizer. <Please take a look at the following articles: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontags.htm , http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/aqpltnutritients.htm , http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/majmicrnutrplts.htm , and the following website: http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/ There is a lot of information contained therein regarding combating algae through starving it of nutrients - either by reducing available nutrients, or adding the right nutrients to allow the plants to consume the things that the algae is now thriving on.> Fishes: 15 rummy nose, 2 angels, 1 Gourami, 5 Corys, 1 Plecos, 4 Otos, 6 Serpaes and 6 neon tetras. <Uh, from what I can understand, this is a roughly 20 gallon tank....  if so, this is grossly overstocked....  probably the reason for the algae growth - where there are too many fish, there is too much waste, which feeds the algae.  Reducing the fish load significantly may be the only option to eliminate the algae problem.> Please kindly assist, thank you. Chris Ong,  Singapore <Wishing you and your tank well,  -Sabrina>

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