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FAQs on Freshwater Algae & Their Control 1

Related Articles: 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, Algae Eaters, OtocinclusLoricariidsSiamese Algae Eaters/Crossocheilus

Related FAQs: Freshwater Algae 2, Algae Control In Aquarium Gardens 1, & Freshwater Algae Identification, FW Blue-Green Algae/Cyanobacteria, FW (Brown) Diatom Algae, Brush/Beard/Blackish (actually Red) Algae, FW Algicides, Algae Eaters, Aquarium MaintenanceFreshwater Aquarium Water Quality, Treating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease

Chemical Algicides... dangerous and unnecessary.  Avoid them.

Algae We have had our 20 gallon tank since January.  everything was good until about a month ago.  We have not introduced any new fish into the tank, we have 6 right now:  2 guppies, 3 cichlids, and a sucker. <What kind of cichlids? Are you sure you still have guppies?:-)> The tank is SOOO green.  We have tried algae killer, an algae scraper and tap water treatment.  We change the water every 3 weeks (25%) and the filter is spotless. We don't know what else to do.  You can't see the fish unless the light is on!!!  They've survived through this ordeal, but please tell us what else to try!! <I would start by increasing the water change schedule to every two weeks, or better yet weekly.  Algae is almost always caused by excess nutrients in the tank.  Check out the links below for more information on controlling Algae.  -Gage> http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm  

Brown Algae Hello. We purchased a 26 gallon bow front fish tank around 2 months ago, we bought a Fluval 3 plus filter (never used this filter before but it was recommended by the store workers). It has a regular fluorescent 15 watt all glass aquarium lamp & hood. We have regular stone gravel, and about 8 artificial aquarium plants, temp at 76-78 constant. The fish are an assortment of 5 tetra's, 2 molly's, 1 guppy, 2 dwarf frogs, 1 African albino frog, 1 Chinese sucker, small eel, 2 snails, 2 cherry barb's. The problem we are having is brown algae or spots developing on all the plants mostly closer to the filter. We have read books and found out that it could be caused by over feeding so we only feed the fish once or twice daily. Also from the light being on too long, I believe the books we've read said no more than 10-12 hours a day so we have made sure to keep it on only that long. We cleaned the plants off about 1 week ago and it has already came back. We put Amquel in the tank afterwards (It removes ammonia chloramines chlorine from the water) since we cleaned the plants with tap water. But we are still wondering why this is happening. We have had the tank water tested, we took it into the store where we purchased the tank (pet supplies) and they said that the water is fine. We do not have anything at home to test our own water. Is that something we should look into getting? This is our first big fish tank so we are just learning as we go. If you could help us to find out why this is happening to our tank we would really appreciate it. Thanks, The Wolf family <The brown algae is normal in a newly set up aquarium. Just clean it off once in a while, it will stop growing back soon. As to water testing. This is very important when keeping fish. Aquarium Pharmaceuticals make a good Master Test Kit. It will include everything you need except a nitrate test. Purchase separately. Then read here about establishing bio filtration. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm  When your tank reaches the point where there is no ammonia or nitrite, and nitrate is kept below 20ppm, the brown algae will disappear. Limiting food and light will help with the green algae to come. Don>

I am having problems BIG problems... self-induced... algicide, FW livestock In my bedroom tank which we call the "Love Shack" as opposed to the tank in my living room which is called "Death Row"... <Heee! Leave me in the bedroom!> ...any way LS is having problems, first of all DR had an algae problem because my husband kept opening the patio blinds in the mornings. Then I got some algae fix... <Yikes, dangerous... toxic> ...and we did a 50% water change, but I used some of the water to start the LS before the algae problem became apparent. So now the LS is cloudy as all get out and I do not know what else to do. I have done a 50 % water change, I have tried algae fix as well as tank cleaner where it gets all the organic stuff to clump together. <Counterproductive... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the related files above...> So far no go. In the tank I have 2 blue Haps 2 Yellow cichlids, 4 barbs, 1 Betta, 2 Balas, 2 snails, and my pride and joy Freshwater white cheeked Moray. His name is Hang Loose. <Quite a mix... you realize the Moray is not really freshwater? Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmorayeels.htm and the...> I love him to death. I am somewhat of an invalid and when I wake up in the morning he is right there by my side. He eats ghost shrimp, brine shrimp, and a little mussel as I can see it. Can I make the water brackish? <Now with the other animals you list... the world is vast, animals of environmental condition ranges that do not overlap...> If so how? Will it hurt the other fish? How can I get the water unclouded???? Thank you for your advice.  <Time for you to read, contemplate your options. Bob Fenner>

Brown diatom algae? First, I'd like to say I'm enjoying your articles and FAQs immensely. Quite a wealth of knowledge.... <Ahh, we've been "at this" quite a while, in earnest> I think I'm fighting a diatom algae problem in my tank.  My nitrates are very high, because I'm still struggling to not overfeed.  I have an Eclipse 12 gal tank, heater set at 80, fake plants, small amount of gravel (about 1/4 - 3/4 inch) in the bottom.  This tank is still new, although I did a complete fishless cycle.  I seeded the new tank with filter material and gravel from my previous tank during the cycle, but that has now been removed.  Inhabitants are 1 Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami (Blue), 1 Bamboo Shrimp (Shrimpy) and 1 Gold Banded Pleco (a gift from a co-worker). <Neat> I originally had them all in an Eclipse 6 gal - and decided to give them a new home. <Good move> I now have brown spotty algae stuff - which I can get off the glass easily, but is all over my plants.  Unfortunately, I landscaped with pieces that are too large to pull out and rinse off without tearing the whole tank down.  It looked great before the algae though.... <What a planet!> I'm doing 25% water changes twice a week starting this week, and trying to not give into the "pleading" look on my Gourami's face and overfeed :-) <Heee!> I'm going to keep with this until the nitrates come down again.  I've also changed the timers to cut back on the light some (on at 11AM, off at 6pm) <Oh, I've recently (yesterday) modified the marine Nitrate article, placed on the FW Subweb to suit a few accumulating FAQs. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm Maybe a few more ideas to aid you in turning the diatom "tide"> But I have some worrying developments.... <Oh?> It seems from everything I've read that I'm overfeeding.  Yet my Bamboo shrimp has decided to perch up by the Bio Wheel for hours on end, and stand there grabbing food from the current. <What a character!>   He's become the office favourite by doing this, but one of your other FAQs said this could be a sign of starving.  But if I'm already feeding too much - what do I do? <Ignore it... not likely to starve... add "some" live plant material... see WWM re good selections here... to make sure there's something for all to munch on at their leisure...> And I cannot seem to find the Pleco since moving him into this tank 4 weeks ago.  The first day, he hid under one rock - but now I never see him come out.  The pieces are aquarium safe "garden" pieces - which look like pieces of wood with silk plants attached.  The taller piece is hollow inside - and I'm thinking the Pleco went up there.  But is this normal for him to never be around? <Not for a while... not likely to have "jumped out"... my guess is with your hypothesis. You would probably see this fish if you were looking during the night> And lastly, is there anyone who would go after this algae on the fake plant leaves and eat it?   Will it simply disappear on it's own somehow? <Mmm, possibly... there are other approaches. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the Related Articles, esp. on Algae Eaters, and Related FAQs... linked, in blue, at top...> If I added say a Cherry Shrimp or a Bumblebee Shrimp - would they eat it? <Not much, no> And will they be okay with the Bamboo Shrimp? <Yes, the Bamboo is a filter feeder by and large> Some people have said that Otos are very good with diatom algae - but is that the right way to go? <Mmm, hard to say... this genus of little Loricariids is kind of touchy to much of prevailing water conditions in N. America... and often lost in unstable/small systems... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/otocinclusart.htm and the...> Anyway, any advice you could give would be much appreciated.  I really would like to get the tank back to a cleaner state for my friends. Thanks, Barbara <I hear, read you. Bob Fenner>

Algae Takeover Hello there! I have looked over the FAQs but I am still unclear of what exactly I should do. Quick summary:  46 gallon FW tank.  TetraTec 500 filter, heater (not sure what kind, left over from my SW tank), large piece of driftwood, various plants, 2 clown loaches, 5 albino barbs, 4 green tiger barbs, 1 blue Gourami (sorry I can't spell), 2 gold gouramis, and 5 Otocinclus catfishes.  pH-7, Ammonia-0, Nitrate-<10ppm, Nitrite-<0.1.  I have a duel bulb fixture with one flora sun bulb and one plain fluorescent. I have been adding Kent Freshwater Plant supplement, Pro-plant supplement, and black water expert every other week until the problem started, I stopped them thinking they might be contributing to the algae. I do 25% every other week water changes. Had quite a bit of algae growth about a month ago so the Pleco got booted to the turtle tank and the catfishes purchased as my LFS told me they were better for algae eating. Now the tank is pretty much covered in algae! All the surfaces are coated in a thick layer, including the plants. Some of the plants have died. It is not hair algae but the scummy kind that covers all surfaces. Should I take all the wood and decorative rocks out, suction the bottom, do a massive water change, clean the filter with a vinegar solution, remove questionably dying plants, and pray? Is this a good way to go? It is time for the water change anyways. I just want my pretty tank back. I understand some algae is going to happen and that is ok but this is ridiculous. Thanks for any info you can give! Olivia <Clean everything except the filter. Use a gravel vac everywhere! Under rocks and driftwood. Increase your water changes to about 50% once a week and limit feeding. Something is feeding the algae. Keeping the tank pristine should starve it out. Adding more plants will also help. They use the same nutrients as the algae. Don> FW Algae Issues Hi Bob, I was wondering if you knew how I could avoid a recurrence of algae bloom in my 10 gallon fish tank. I want to set up my tank again that use to have a really bad case of algae bloom. I was frustrated with it so I emptied it and it hasn't been in use since about May 2004. I set up a 5 gallon tank for my 2 bubble eye gold fish and they have been fine in it for the past 8 months. No algae bloom. The 10 gallon tank has a filter system and the 5 gallon tank has a under gravel filter with just an air stone. I have hard water but use the proper water conditioners and etc to maintain the tank. I did a regular weekly partial water change, but didn't seem to work. I reduced the amount of food that was fed to the fish & avoided the use of the light. Nothing seemed to work. I want to use my 10 gallon tank because it is nicer and it will give my bubble eye fish a little more room now since they are about 3" long. Thank you for your help! < Algae blooms are caused by excessive nutrients in the water. It could be food or it could be light. Set up the tank again and feed only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes once each day. Siphon out any food that is leftover.  If you still have a problem it may be too many nutrients in the water itself so you may have to go with bottled or filtered water to start.-Chuck> Kelly Getting The Detritus Out- For Good! Greetings, my aquatic friend!   <Hi there!> |Although I miss our e-mails, at least you know when you don't hear from me, there are no problems.   <It's okay even if there are problems! That's part of the reason that we're here!> Alas, here's a small one-hence this note.  I was having problems with algae, and so on cleaning day (still sticking to the once a week schedule you suggested, with no checks or movement in between) I changed the water about 20%, plus threw away a piece of driftwood that I think was beyond rising help, and was therefore contributing to the problem. I should mention that I think the problem originated from my fertilizer tabs for the plants, as I had A LOT more detritus in the cleaning where they broke apart. <Yep- detritus is certainly "algae food", and the supplemental plant food probably didn't do much good at that point.> At any rate, I also changed one of the filters, but not both. <A good idea...This way, you don't disrupt the biological filtration to a great extent> Here's the problem:  After I installed the filter, a HUGE load of what looked like household dust when you haven't dusted in ages. It spit all of this stuff back into the water that I had so conscientiously cleaned, now it's around the filter base, and slowly but surely making its way to the bottom of the tank.  I was afraid to do any more, so I just left it alone.  I checked nitrites and ammonia and both were okay, so I decided I better leave things until I wrote to you. Where do I go from here?  Also, am I going to unleash a cloud of debris every time I changed a filter?  It seems like this happened-to a lesser degree-the last time I changed the filter on the other side.   Thanks, Cyndy <Well, Cyndy- it depends what kind of filter media that you're using. If you're using activated carbon, Zeolite, or other "natural" media, a quick rinse before use is generally all that you need to do to get the media ready for use. If you are using a "sponge" or other mechanical media, a gentle squeeze and quick rinse will do it. Either way, it would probably be a good idea to siphon out some of the "dust" that settles in the tank, as it's accumulation can deteriorate water quality over time. Hope this helps! I'll catch you soon! Regards, Scott F.>
Getting The Detritus Out- For Good! (Pt. 2)
Scott:  I DID rinse the carbon filter--I think this was stuff that had accumulated (possibly uneaten food sucked through the filter) in the bottom of the filter "pockets" *for lack of a better word. I'm pretty sure it wasn't carbon.  When it came out into the tank was when I pushed the new filter in the pocket.  Also-something just occurred to me-I didn't turn off the filter because I wasn't changing both of the cartridges.  Could that have something to do with this?   <Yep- sounds like some detritus or other material trapped beneath the old filter media. I'd shut the filter off when performing this maintenance, and give the inside of the filter a gentle scrub and rinse. A clean filter works better!> P.S.  Algae is now gone, and tank is once again sparkling-I just want to know for next time.... Cyndy <No problem, Cyndy! There you have my two cents worth! Talk to you soon! Regards, Scott F.>

Algae out of control in fry tank Hi there again! I hope you can help me with a new problem.   I currently have 3 tanks set up - A 5g with 2 adult platies, a 2g full of platy fry (11 of them, about 4 weeks old), and another 2g that is currently cycling (fishless) to be used as a QT tank.  The baby tank started to develop algae first. Brown spots all over the glass and now all over the top sides of the plastic plant leaves.   It was just a few spots at first and I'd wipe it off when I did water changes. Now it's all over, even on the glass below the gravel. And it's looking awful.  Now I'm starting to get some of the same spots in my 5g tank on the decorations and a couple of plants.  I thought I should get an algae eating fish for the 5g, once my QT tank is ready for fish, but my concern is the babies (current and future).  Are there any good algae eating fish, or even shrimp, that I can safely have with small platy fry? < Otocinclus from South America would be good. You may have to fed them algae wafers just to keep them fed once all the algae is gone.>   My platies are a mating pair (I had 2 females, but lost one to Ich a few weeks ago.. I'll get another female when the QT tank is ready). Same in the baby tank.. can I add a fish that won't swallow up my little guys? < Right. Make sure that the smaller fish are in no danger of being eaten.>   I see a lot of "algae removers" in the store, but I don't want to harm the fish or the beneficial bacteria.  I already found out the hard way when I treated my fish for Velvet with CopperSafe and uncycled my tank! The 2g tanks have undergravel filters. The 5g has a power filter with a bio-wheel. The water in my 2 cycled tanks tested fine (Ammonia =0, Nitrite=0, Nitrate <15).  Also, I have very hard well water (high Ph and alkalinity), which my platies seem to love.. but that would concern me when adding any new critters  to the tank. Any advice would be appreciated.  I'd love to just drop a couple tablets into the tank and be done with it, if that's even an option. < When you do a water change try vacuuming the gravel. That will reduce some of the nitrates that the algae is feeding on. Try feeding only enough food so all of it is gone in a couple minutes.-Chuck> Thanks! Jennifer Hair algae Question I have looked everywhere and cant find what I am looking for so I thought I would ask you.<I think based on your description you have a bad case of hair algae but I need a bit more information Alissa, is the tank fresh water or salt water?>  My Aunts tank has got this green string hair like algae, I have looked for information at to what it is but cant seem to get an answer. She is constantly taking it out but it just keeps growing. <There are multiple faq's on the site about algae and there is a website devoted to just algae.  WWW.algae-base.org.> It has taken over. She wants me to ask if you know what it is how to get rid of it and if there is maybe a fish that could eat it and get rid of it. I tested her water and everything is in the right ranges so we don't know what to do, please help. <There are fish that will eat it depending on the type.  We need to know a bit more about the tank, how big it is, what's in it. etc? Good luck Alissa and look forward to hearing back from you, MacL> Alissa

Brown spots on fake plants Hello! I have a freshwater tank 30 gal and my two fabric fake aquarium plants are starting to form brown spots and it is spreading everywhere.   What is this?  Is it some kind of algae?  I did a search of your website and didn't come up with anything conclusive.    I washed one plant and removed the spots but the next day I see more forming already.   I don't want to do too much in the tank because my convicts just laid eggs and I don't want to disturb them too much, but I also don't want this getting out of control.  What can I do?? < Algae are often caused by the presence of ammonia, nitrite or nitrate in the water. The type of algae is somewhat related to your water chemistry and the type of lighting you are using. Service the filter and try to cut down on the amount of light until the convict fry become free swimming and can be removed. Once the fry are gone then you can vacuum the gravel as you do your next water change. Try not to overfed. The algae then can be washed off the plants. -Chuck. Thanks so very much! Leah Canada

Clown Knife and Algae Eater Hey, I just bought a large-size clown fish with 2 other medium-size tropical fish in a 55 tank. I've learned that  the knife is a predator and will eat anything smaller than its mouth. I'm concerned that if I put an algae eater in, the knife might swallow it as food. Since my tank is full of plants and rocks, it'll be difficult to clean the algae. What should I do!? Thanks for your time. <<Hello. The best way to control algae is by doing water changes. Once your tank is established, test your nitrates regularly, and do the water changes accordingly. Algae thrives on organics in the water, and even the best filter will not prevent build-up of organics, you need to remove them by doing partial water changes. Especially with a large predator in your tank, weekly water changes will be necessary. Is this tank still cycling now? You must test your ammonia and nitrites as well, each week! And keep in mind that your clown knife will eventually outgrow a 55 gallon tank. You will need to upgrade if you want to keep him alive. -Gwen>>

ALGAE PROBLEM Hi again. <Hi Paul, MacL here with you this evening.>  I got another question. I got a red/brown thing growing all over my 55 gallon tank. I would scrape it off with my algae scraper, but it keeps coming back. <It sounds like its algae to me or possibly over feeding of the food.> Now, it's all over my decorations and plants. I changed the filter cartridges after my last attempt, but it didn't seem to help. <You are going to have to cut way way back on your feeding.  Your nitrates are way to high.> The water is ammonia=0ppm, nitrites=0ppm, nitrates=5ppm, pH=7.6.  I have 9 cardinal tetras and 2 julii Corys in the tank. <That's a very very small amount of fish. They would eat maybe a tiny tiny pinch of food a day and possibly skip the food on the weekends.> I got a couple air stones and the temperature is 77 degrees. Is this red stuff algae? <Its either algae or uneaten food. I would suggest you add more Cory cats for sure. Possibly a Pleco. as well.> I feed once per day with flakes, which the tetras eat up in a couple of minutes. The Corys get four shrimp pellets overnight. <You are way over feeding for the amount of fish you have. Something we have all done before you berate yourself. Just clean off the plants again and cut way back on the food.> Any suggestions? I'm thinking about taking every decoration out and cleaning them with tap water. Thanks a lot. <Good luck, MacL>

Green Water Hi, I have a guppy tank with snails and guppies only in it I have recently changed the water because it has gone extremely green, so green that you can't see the fish or ornaments. I changed the water and the a week later its green again. What can I do, what is wrong? can you please help? Thanks.    PS all the levels are good in the tank. <<First, please use proper punctuation when emailing us, it takes us a great deal of time to re-write your emails so that other people can understand.. Second, what do you mean by "all the levels are good", can you be more specific? I need to know your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, and if you can, get your phosphate level checked, too. The normal method for combating algae is frequent partial water changes. I recommend you do a 50% water changes twice a week until you begin to get control of the problem. Also, make sure the tank is not getting too much light, either via tank lighting or direct sunlight. Are there live plants in the tank? If not, leave the lights off! And use your nitrate test kit to determine how often you should do your water changes. If you keep the nitrate level between 20-40ppm by doing regular water changes, your algae problem should not come back. -Gwen>>

Light Green Algae Problem We have been getting a light green algae that appears to be dust like and that appears to be too small to be filtered out. It makes the water extremely cloudy green to where we can't even hardly see the fish. Chemicals don't help, changing the water doesn't help. We've changed rock and filters and water to no avail. We've had an aquarium for years but this is something we've never encountered before. We only have freshwater fish in it. Do you have any suggestions? Or do you know what might be causing it? We've done nothing different over all the years, and really don't want to get rid of it. Please help me , Dean Russell  <<Dear Dean; Are you keeping live plants in this tank? If not, simply turn the lights out. You can keep lights on for a couple of hours at night if you wish to look at the tank while you are home. When you are out, or sleeping, ensure that the lights are off. Also be sure that the tank isn't getting direct (or even indirect) sunlight. Algae needs light and nutrients to thrive, and since you mention that you've been changing the water, I must assume the tank is getting too much light. I hope that your water changes are weekly ones...keep up with them! Try to vacuum the gravel as much as possible while you do water changes. If you DO have live plants, you have a problem. It's hard to vacuum with live plants, and you can't keep the lights off for too long. Do you add any fertilizers? Don't, until the algae bloom is gone. Also, cut way back on the fish food. Do NOT overfeed, in fact, you might want to go 2-3 days without feeding your fish at all, and then feed only very lightly. You need to remove excess nutrients from the water in order to control this algae problem. Cut the light, cut the food, and see how it goes. By the way, Whisper makes a diatom filter that is really quite handy against algae blooms and other assorted particulate matter.. It's called the Diatomagic, and in an hour it will remove suspended particles from your water. It's a great way to polish your tank water once a week and leave it crystal clear, because it's so easy to use. Hangs on the back like an Aquaclear. Helps against Ich if you get an outbreak, too. -Gwen>> 

Green Water I know many people have asked this same old question but none seem to help me out. My mother has a 39 Gallon Eclipse System with the Eclipse 2 Filter on it, all came as a package. She has been doing partial water changes about once a week. I also told her to feed less with she cut down to about every other day. She only leaves light on for maybe 5 to 8 hours a day. She has tried so stuff from the local fish stores for clear water with no success. Oh, it is also a African cichlid tank.  < I will assume that the term "African cichlid tank" refers to Lake Malawian cichlids.>  I tested the tank for PH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. All seem to be fine. I bought her a slightly larger algae eater then the smaller on she has. There are no live plants in the tank only the regular ornaments. She has even taken the water down to about 10 percent , there was just enough for the fish to stay at bottom, she cleaned the sides of the tank with an algae brush when the water was down that low. When she filled it back up it was somewhat better but came back rather quickly. I hope you have some suggestions on how I can help her fix it, She has the tank built in to our bar, she did it herself, so creative and its the first thing people see when they come over and its driving her crazy. Thanks for your help, We really appreciate anything you could tell us.   Ricky Daniels < African cichlids like to be crowded and put a heavy demand on any filtration system. The eclipse systems by Marineland are very good. These cichlids are very active and always seem hungry. I would reduce the feeding to once a day with a Spirulina flake food. The rest of the food they can get by eating the algae off the rocks like they do in the wild. Stay away from foods high in animal protein. Reduce the water temperature to 77 degrees and slow things down a little bit. Many people like to keep it up around 80.Vacum the gravel to remove the sludge build up. You would be surprised how much waste is stored there. Service the filter weekly. Don't wait until it is totally full. Filters don't remove waste they just hang on to it until you remove it from the system. Try these along with your weekly water changes and things should clean up quickly.-Chuck> 

Some kinda algae I've got these little red bulbs growing in my 3 month old tank. could these harm anything in my tank?  <That is extremely vague. I really don't know if you have a freshwater tank, or a saltwater tank. If it's a freshwater tank and these bulbs are coming up in the substrate it might be a plant. Shouldn't worry about it. If it's a saltwater tank, and these are located on your rock, you could be speaking about Foraminiferans. These little creatures are basically shelled Protozoans, one celled organisms. they are fine and harm nothing. Since the description and email is so vague it's hard to really know what it is. Good luck. -Magnus>

Freshwater Algae Bloom...  Hey guys, a friend turned me on to your site. It is great. I have tried your advice at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgaefaqs.htm  for controlling my green water algae and nothing is working. I wrote to you a month or so ago asking for advice without a response so I thought I would try again as the situation has worsened. Problem:  I set my 15 gal eclipse tank Jan 1 and stocked it Jan 10th with two Neons, plants, and piece of driftwood I had in my 3 gal eclipse (going for 2 years with no problems). The tank was clear till about the 20th of Jan when it started to get cloudy. I took a sample to my LFS who said it was fine to let it go or change the water with some RO. The cloudy white turned to green in 4 days and I have been battling it ever since. The same thing happened over the past weekend to my tank at work (three gal eclipse mentioned above).  <Hmm...If both tanks are utilizing the same water source, that can narrow the possibilities down a bit...>  I viewed a sample of the water under a 40x microscope lens and included an image (I am a biochemistry graduate student). The algae look like a small green corkscrew worm which had a 360 deg spiral that was twice as long as the diameter of the spiral. I am guessing that it is suspended microalgae. It is on the order of a few microns so no physical filter is going to "capture" it. I have attached a picture to this email and you can find more about the tank here:  http://scrappy.icmb.utexas.edu/brhall/body.html?subject=Aquarium   Tried:  I noticed the problem begin after I got a new piece of sandstone from my LFS. I've since taken that out, with water changes but the green water came right back. I've tried 33% daily water changes with tap water (softened), and 33% daily water changes with deionized water. With the water changes it would be "diluted" but just come back the next day.  <Well, it may very well be that the tap water has excesses of nitrate, phosphate, or silicate. Do analyze your source water to verify this. In the case of the DI or RO water, it could be that the membranes need changing...>  I covered the tank with a blanket for four days, but that did nothing...it just kept growing.  <This could actually be detrimental.. If the algae die, than the resulting decomposition could fuel further algal blooms.>  Barley straw in the filter and floating in the tank has done nothing. Took the water to a LFS who said all the levels were  fine. Even the BioWheel is noticeably green. I took everything out of the tank. Rinsed repeatedly with water all the substrate, plants, and larger rocks. I boiled the driftwood and sandstone, let them cool and replaced them. Washed the plants in saltwater and rinsed and replaced. Added a gallon of the starting water back to the tank with 14 gallons of fresh water. I also added a coffee filter to the filter unit. The coffee filter gets bright neon green within a day, but the tank has been relatively clean  for three weeks, but is still somewhat cloudy.  Wondered about:  I was wondering about wood shrimp or some other organism that eats suspended algae. What about a UV filter (although I don't want to waste the money if it doesn't help)? While I hate adding them, is there a chemical I can use that won't hurt the fish or plants?  <None that I would recommend>  Should I just take the plants out and treat with an algaecide? I am afraid I will never get rid of the algae spores that may be lurking (like in the sand stone). What about some other filter type media like a PolyFilter? Please help.  Tank Stats:  15 gal Eclipse System 1 with bio wheel and two 15 watt lamps (2 watts per gallon at 5400K and 9800K). I got some "brown juice" from a friend's filter to start the beneficial bacteria.  A few live plants that seem to be doing fine.  13 small fish that seem to be doing fine (although my angel fish who got fin rot and was dead in three days?!?!)  <They can be touchy fish. Personally, I think 15 gallons is a bit too small for most Angel Fish. It is a great size for small Tetras, however!>  my own test kit levels: nitrate is 20ppm, nitrite is 0, GH is 0, KH is 100, pH is 7.2, temp 76.  I do not have a CO2 injection  Thanks for your help... Brad  <Well, Brad- don't despair. I would suspect that your source water may have a high level of phosphates or silicates, that may be contributing to the bloom. Your though about using PolyFilter is a good one. You might also want to use activated carbon on a continuous basis. Another though: I have found over the years that simulated "blackwater" (water with high levels of tannins from dissolved peat or bark) seems to limit nuisance algae growth. You may want to try using one of the commercially available "Blackwater Extracts" to help provide this type of environment. Your Tetras would love it, and many plants do well, too...Worth looking into. Remember, nuisance algae, whether it's in fresh or saltwater, is generally all about excess nutrients. You can generally eradicate or control these algae by eliminating nutrients from the water. Do a little more digging, and you'll solve this problem. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Former Crew Member Reports Back From Beyond - I know you guys don't usually recommend products like this but I have to share my experience with you and your readers.
<Thanks Ronni, good to hear from you.> I have many tanks but only a problem in 2 of them, my 10g salt and my 60g planted freshwater Tetra tank. Both of them had serious hair algae problems. In my 10g SW the hair algae was literally covering my rocks so much that you couldn't see them, choking out my Caulerpa, and even clogging my trickle filter if I didn't pull it once a week or so. I ran every water test I could think of and all of my levels were exactly where they should be. I tried a PolyFilter, I tried PhosGuard, I tried Essential Elements, I tried daily water changes, I tried different lighting periods, I tried less feeding, and everything else I could think of. Finally at my wits end I ordered some Algone. When it arrived I placed one of the pouches in the filter of my tank. Within a few hours (yes, hours) I noticed a brownish tinge to the ends of the hair algae. The next day it was a bit more brown, the next week it was thinner, and each day after it has gotten even thinner until now (about 3-4 weeks later) there's only a small portion of what was originally there. I kept a very close watch on my fish and my Caulerpa during all of this and figured at the first sign of stress I would remove the Algone and do a major water change. My fish never showed any stress, the opposite happened! Their colors improved, their appetites were as big as ever (I have 2 very small Clowns that never want to stop eating!), and they were swimming out in the open more. My Caulerpa went back to being the bright green it originally was instead of a pale green, and I also noticed an increase in coralline algae growth (not growing where I wanted it to but hey, at least it was growing!). In my 60g FW planted tank the hair algae would form a cloud that my fish would get tangled in and it was choking out my plants. Again, I tried many different things to solve the problem but none seemed to work. So I placed one pouch of Algone (1 pouch treats up to 55 gallons) in there and let it go for a week. I didn't see it slow the hair algae growth at all. I added another pouch figuring one wasn't quite strong enough. After another 2 weeks I'm still seeing major growth. I let it go for the 2 weeks but it finally got so bad it was driving me nuts and day before yesterday I pulled a baseball sized clump out. Oh well... I was really disappointed that the Algone didn't work in my FW tank but after seeing how well it worked in the SW tank I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who has a SW hair algae problem! Ronni <Thanks for sharing. Again, good to hear from you. Hope all is well. Cheers, J -- >

Green water problems Hi, I have a 55 gallon freshwater aquarium in my shop that has been set up since Thanksgiving and the water is so GREEN! I have contacted my local aquarium specialty shop and they said that I have a microalgae in my water from all the light in the store. They told me all I could do is cover my tank and get some algae tablets, which I did.  The tablets helped a little but the water never is completely clear, and when I covered the tank I left the back open so I could obviously watch my fish (when I can see them) but it's enough to keep the sunlight and most of the fluorescent light from entering the tank.  I don't want to have to keep replacing my fish because they can't breathe in their pea soup water, and I hate that I have a beautiful tank in my store that my customers can't see through.  I have done partial water changes, I have a Whisper filter and a bubble stone, I have 5 assorted catfish, a huge plecostomus, 2 shark things, and a crayfish, I vacuum the bottom of the tank every other week, I even have live bamboo plants. What more can I do?!!!? I have had fish tanks all my life and I have NEVER experienced this problem. >>Hello there :) First, let me ask you some questions. Have you tested your water recently? I would like to know the results of the following if you have: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and phosphates. If not, please take your water to your local fish store and have them test it for those things, then email me the results. How often do you change your Whisper cartridge? Is there any other filtration on the tank? As I recall, the Whisper doesn't have a BioWheel. If I were you, the next time you remove the cartridge you should replace it with a piece of either Fluval foam or Aquaclear foam, cut the foam with scissors to fit into your filter. Then just rinse it once a week, or whenever it gets clogged, do not throw it away. This way, you can keep some nitrifying bacteria, because each time you throw out the cartridge, you are mini-cycling your tank. This probably means your tank is experiencing ammonia and nitrite spikes, which leads to algae and cloudy water problems. While you are at the fish store, you would be wise to buy yourself some test kits, and test your water weekly for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Ammonia should be at zero, nitrite also zero, and keep your nitrate level as low as possible, do not let it get over 100 ppm, max! Do this by doing regular partial water changes. In order to deal with your algae problem, you may also add some phosphate-removing resin to your filter IF your phosphates test high. And ask at your local fish store for some micron pads, something that could be cut to fit into a Whisper filter beside your piece of foam. To sum up: you need to test your water, and you need to add some form of biological filtration to your filter/tank, and you need to add something to your filter to remove the fine algae particles, like a micron pad or Phoszorb. Good luck! -Gwen<< Smallest Pleco for Algae Hello.  I have a small (30 gal) tank with a few cichlids in it and need something to take care of the algae that is quickly building.  Until the cichlids were full size, I had a couple Chinese Algae Eaters in there and they worked great.  Well, all at once, they both got eaten so it's time for a change.  I was considering a Bristlenose Pleco, but is there something else I should consider that stays small, eats lots of algae, and won't get eaten by my cichlids?  I've been kind of anti-Plecos since discovering how much waste they produce so I'm hoping if I get one that stays small, they won't produce much waste.  At least, that's the theory. Thanks for all your help and your great site. -Mike in BFE Illinois (p.s.  This is the Cubs' year!) >>Dear Mike: What kind of cichlids are you keeping in the 30g? I ask because a 30g is a tad small for many cichlids, as they will be far more aggressive in smaller tanks. Which makes me wonder if you will put into jeopardy any new species you might add. Also, how often do you do partial water changes? High toxin levels will also make your fish act aggressively towards tankmates that in other circumstances they would ignore. That said, I think you are better off with the Bristlenoses, anyways. They are the best choice for your tank. -Gwen

Oh Green Water, keep on fishing... FW Good Afternoon,       I have a serious problem w/my freshwater tank.  First of all, I should tell you that the tank is 100 gallons so my problem is pretty big.  I have green water & can't get rid of it!!!!  It isn't algae that is making the water look green, I have several bottom feeders & 1 large Plecostomus who keep a clean tank.  My water is actually green & it is very cloudy.  I have tried the clear water chemicals; which didn't work.  I have broken my tank completely down & cleaned it & every rock that went back in.  I have left the light off.  I have installed a heater.  I have put enough ph decreaser in it that I'm surprised my fish are still alive!  My water is still green!  It makes for a very unsightly tank.  I am desperate for help.....Please tell me what I can do to fix this problem!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank You, Allison Deal Dear Allison, You did not say what find of filter you had, but that is the first place I would start. Your filter should turn the water over in your aquarium at least three times and hour. For bigger fish or more heavily stocked tanks I would have it turn over at least five times and hour. If you are using an undergravel filter then I would get a gravel vac and vacuum the gravel until the gravel is clear of impurities. This may not be a bad idea to do anyway regardless what type of filter you are using. For other types of filters such as a canister or an outside power filter I would check the media often and install some high quality carbon to remove the organics. Your pH decreaser probably has phosphoric acid which encourages algae so I would not use that product any longer. Try 25% water changes weekly too and be patient it may take a few days to get going but you should see some improvement within a few days and be fairly clear in about a week. Good luck. Algae Eaters for Smaller Tanks Hi, <Hello, Katja!> I've read your article at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saes.htm about SAE and found it rather helpful. <Glad you're finding WWM useful, please continue to enjoy it!> However, my aquarium is only 54 liters big, so I can't use the SAE's you've described on the page  due to their size (as far as I know they are app. 15 cm long). I've heard about Pseudogastromyzon myersi (Sucker-belly loach), which is max. 6 cm long SAE ( http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=7757 ).   Is it any good? Can I use it instead?   <From what I can find, these seem to be pretty good algae eaters, indeed.  However, I've also found that they prefer cooler temperatures, so do try not to let your tank get too warm.  Definitely provide this fish with some area of fast-moving water, either from a powerhead or a power filter situated so that the fish can get into the current.  A neat critter - one I've always liked, but never kept.> Does it also jump out?  It doesn't look like it can... <I'm sure it could if it put its mind to it.  I've had Plecostomus find their way out of open-topped aquaria in the past; a lid or screen would definitely be a plus.  You might also consider some of the smaller algae-eating critters, such as Otocinclus cats and algae eating shrimps of the genera Caridina and Neocaridina - you've got a whole world of small algae consumers to look to!> Thank you on forehand,  Katja. <My pleasure.  Wishing you great fun in the hunt for algae eaters,  -Sabrina>

Pea soup! Hello WWM Crew, <Hello Mike, Sabrina here today> HELP!  I have an algae bloom that I just can't seem to get rid of!  The bloom is of the pea-green, cloudy type.   <This reminds me fondly of my pond outside....> My tank consists of a 55 Gal freshwater planted tank with a few fish mostly for algae control purposes.  My lighting is (2) 55 Watt CF bulbs.  The tank conditions are a ph of 7.0, Nitrogen levels of 0, and phosphates of 0.3. <Are your phosphates testing at that straight out of the tap?> I have tried many different things to get rid of this stuff, nothing seems to work.  I can manage to weaken it for a while but it will just come back in 1 to 2 weeks.  I have tried doing large and frequent water changes, and lowering the lighting duration.  My normal duration is 10 hours a day, I reduced this to 6 with no luck.  I even put my tank in total darkness with a dark bed sheet for 5 days.  My plants didn't like this much, <I can imagine.> but the bloom was gone, but then 2 weeks later it was back with a vengeance.  When I can keep the lights on long enough, I have good plant growth, and very minimal anchored algae.  What are my options here? <Well, *how* planted is this tank?  One route, perhaps the best, is to get some more good, fast-growing, hardy plants to outcompete the algae for nutrients.  Another thought, though - are you injecting CO2?  That may help the plants to utilize the nutrients more so than the algae.  Please read these two links for further info:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontags.htm,   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/aqpltnutritients.htm > Would a UV sterilizer be an option?   <Perhaps, if the above route doesn't work.  It is what I plan to resort to for my not-so-heavily planted pond that gets full California sun all day....> I don't really want to tear down and start over and I'm not even sure that would solve the problem. <Agreed.  I do not believe that would be a solution for you.  Hopefully this will get sorted out soon!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina.> Looking for some good advice...  Regards,  Mike Duclos  Durham, NC

Pea soup! - Part two Sabrina, <Hello again, Mike!> I've read those two articles before.  They don't really contain any information that I don't already practice, or anything that I haven't seen before.  Don't get me wrong, I think WWM is the best on the web, hence I'm sitting here asking you! <Well, let's come up with some other ideas, then!> The phosphates in my tap water are actually at 2.3mg/l.  Overall, I believe I do a good job of not adding additional nutrients/supplements/fertilizers to the tank, because I have adopted the philosophy of the plants out-competing the algae.  I'm starting to doubt though!  I don't add fertilizers, some iron once a month for my swords, the tank uses all of the fish waste being produced for nutrients.  I have 6 community fish in the tank, not very many.   <Yes... I see a few slight possibilities here.  Plants need CO2, light, and iron and other nutrients to thrive - if one of these is slightly lacking, they can't make full proper use of the others.  It strikes me that your plants are probably not getting enough nutrients to be able to utilize all the available light and CO2 - an open door for algae.  Do you test your tank for iron?  I would think this is perhaps part of the problem.  Here is another article to read: http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/balance-randall.html  and a list of more on fertilizing:   http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Fertilizer/ . I supplement my lighting with a DIY CO2 injector that produces roughly 25 ppm.  It seems like I have two options, 1) I can go all out and overstuff my tank with a gazillion plants hoping they will stomp out the algae once and for all, <Well, not a gazillion, really, just some goodies to help outcompete the algae.> or 2) I can buy a UV sterilizer and zap the stuff!  I would have to say that my tank is at best only moderately planted, probably halfway between a Dutch and a rocky, bare, African tank.  I do have a bunch of Contortion Val and a good deal of Milfoil for fast growing plants.  If I go with option 1) what other plants would you suggest I try to add? <Well, some easy to grow, nutrient-sucking algae-battling industrial strength plants that I'd suggest: a few floating water lettuce (easy to grow, kinda pretty with their trailing roots, suckers for nitrates), perhaps some water sprite (reproduces quickly, so you'll have some to share with friends, can grow in the substrate or floating), perhaps some elodea/Anacharis as well.> Regarding option 2) what do they really do?   < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphysf.htm - about halfway down, you'll find lots of good info on UV.> will they damage my plants as well?   <Shouldn't, no.> how expensive?   <Anywhere from fifty bucks on up to a few hundreds.> what kind of room do I need, <They are external, a few different styles/designs, so it depends on what you get, really.> where can I get one?, etc. <Most online fish supply dealers - be sure to check out our sponsors' websites, which you can find banners/links to at the top and right of the pages of WWM, also eBay, some LFSs will carry them, pond stores, etc.> Other than these two options is there any other possible solution/fix you can think of? <I'm thinking it might be a nutrient *lack*, really, inhibiting the plants' growth.  Do please go through the linked article and the linked list-o-links to other articles on this matter, I think you might find some tasty tidbits.  Also, consider asking on an aquatic plant forum, see if anyone who has dealt with a similar issue can tell you their recipe for success.> Thanks for your help. Mike <Any time!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Science Fair Project (history of FW algae control)   Bob: can you help direct this guy in the right direction, or send him to an all Freshwater website, if there is one.    Thanks, Suze (Susan Steele/FAMA) <Will do my best. Be seeing you, Bob F> Hi, I'm interested in information about algae control, particularly about bushy nosed plecostomus and the Japanese Trapdoor snail. <I suggest searching these two on the Internet using their common name terms alone and with "aquarium" and "algae" in the search tool> I also would like information about the history of aquariums and how algae has been controlled through the years.  Do you know if any of your back issues contain articles on these topics.  I would be willing to subscribe or purchase back issues if this is there is info.  Please let me know. Thanks, Daniel Stack <A very interesting and useful topic. I think the most expedient search strategy here would involve a reading of old/er magazines and books in the hobby interest. Assuredly, in the past both the competitive use of live plants (for absorbing nutrients and using otherwise algae-fueling available light) and earnest algae eaters like snails were employed... through the modern manifestations of captive aquatic systems (mid-nineteenth century) and are still employed today. Chemical Algicides of various sorts likely appeared in the early twentieth century and continue to date. Bob Fenner>

Algae eaters? Hello, <Hi, Iley, Sabrina here today> It has been a little while and my tank has been running well, except that I just lost all my algae eaters.  While adjusting the filter system, I accidentally moved the adjustment to the water heater and it killed the algae eaters.   <Yikes> The other fish survived.   <Glad to hear that.> One of the things that I noticed is that with my Pleco cats, the algae eaters weren't doing much but hiding.   <Plecs can be territorial, at times.  And depending on what kind of plecs you've got, you may not need algae eating critters other than them.  Of course, many of the fish labeled as 'algae eaters' will eventually refuse algae as a food; unless you had genuine Siamese algae eaters (SAEs), it's probably a good idea not to get any more of 'em.> Currently, my tank is growing algae at a pretty fast rate.  I have been scrubbing the glass with a pad during water changes, but wanted to get some algae eaters to help with this.  Can you recommend anything that will be compatible with the Pleco cats and some skirted tetras?   <Well, as far as eating algae goes, first off, what kind of Plecostomus do you have?  Secondly, I'd like to recommend algae-eating shrimp, Caridina japonica.  These certainly aren't fish, but they'll really tackle algae problems.  They won't eat algae off the glass, though.  For that, you'll probably always have to use a scraper.  There are magnetic ones available that will keep your hands dry, and are almost fun to use - a friend who cares for my tanks when I'm gone calls it an "aquatic etch-a-sketch".> My 29 gal tank currently only has the following: 2  Pleco cats (about 3 inches) 1 goby cat (about 2.5 inches) <What fish is this?  Can you describe?  I'm afraid most gobies aren't really freshwater critters, but brackish instead (white cheek goby, bumblebee goby, etc. - see more here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracgobioids.htm > 4 black skirted tetras (about .75 inches) and 1 tetra (1.5 inches) What other fish would you recommend?  When I last wrote you, I was having problems with fish dying.  I think everything is stable and wanted to re-populate the tank.  Wanted to get a mix of fish that will live with the Plecos, although I know they are semi-aggressive.   <Plecs pretty much keep to themselves - but will be aggressive to one another, at times, or other bottom dwellers.  I don't think you'll have compatibility issues with them, as long as you give them the bottom, and keep an eye out for aggression to each other.> Wanted the mix to live mostly in the middle or top of the tank.  Which would also help then stay away from the cats. <The only somewhat mid-swimming fish I can recommend that is renowned for its algae eating habits is the Florida flag fish.  They'd do okay in your system, I think.  But if you do the shrimps instead, then for a mid-swimming, active fish, a handful of zebra Danios would certainly fit in, and bring some activity into the tank, or perhaps a small school of Hatchetfish , which would frequent the water's surface more.  I'm also actually kinda partial to white cloud minnows - when they grow up a bit, they're really quite pretty.  There are certainly dozens of other fish you should look into.  I'd suggest to stick with something like barbs, Danios, or other tetras, so you have something that schools and can hold its own in a group of nippers.  Enjoy,  -Sabrina> Thank you,  Iley Pullen

The Green Tinge...(Water Discoloration) To whom this may concern, <Scott F. concerned today!> Recently our 3 year old 42 gallon hexagon tank was leaking. My husband bought a sealant specifically made for repairs to aquariums from Regent AQUA-TECH purchased from Wal-Mart for $4.00. We fixed the leak = <Cool!> However, we have encountered a more mysterious problem ever since repair. The water no matter what we have done eventually (within 7 days) becomes extremely cloudy and green looking. When we test the water everything is perfect. When we clean the tank (remove the water) IT IS algae-green tinted. We hardly have any fish in there. the SAME fish including a Pleco and red-tailed shark, which we had in there prior to our leak and repair. (A parrot fish has been in the tank from day 1). We have replaced everything in the tank (entire filter including the bio-wheel, all ornaments, the gravel twice, all air stones, and every single hose). The filter is an Emperor 250 by Marineland which has been an excellent filter. Incidentally we were so impressed and in love with this tank, we purchased a second exactly like the first. The first one was purchased 3 years ago which never ever had this or any other problem up until the repair. The other tank is CRYSTAL CLEAR!  We will clean both tanks on the same day and within 5-7 days the water in the 1st tank starts to cloud and turn an algae-colored green. The 2nd tank will remain crystal clear for even 5 weeks after the water change. We have even taken out the water from the 2nd tank and put it into the 1st tank thinking it had something to do with the water & biological ecosystem with no luck. I have no other ideas. I am beginning to think the whole problem was caused by us sealing the tank, maybe the sealant we used. We are in desperate need of an answer or suggestions. We cannot keep changing the water every week. which it appears we have been doing since the repair (approx. the last 3 months). We are in total awe that we have not lost any fish through this ordeal. Please HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Karen and Brian. <Well, guys, it seems to me that there are two possibilities here. One, as you surmised, is the possibility that the repair material may have had some kind of substance in it that is leaching into the water. The other possibility is that you DO have some sort of algae bloom in there! The solution, in both cases, would be to employ a stepped-up water change schedule, along with use of activated carbon and/or PolyFilter. These materials can remove discolorants and organics from the water (either of which can contribute to the green tinge). In the long run, this increased maintenance schedule and use of chemical filtration media will serve your system well...Sorry I couldn't give you a 100% certain diagnosis here, but I think that we are on the right track...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Little Eaters of Algae Hi! <Hello!> I have an Eclipse 6 aquarium.  I have had it for 6 weeks....it is finally done cycling....no ammonia an no more nitrites.   <Wonderful.> I have 4 platies and 1 Cory catfish.  Is it okay to purchase an algae eater....can you recommend something small?   <I can, indeed.  But you'll find I'm extremely biased, here - getting into my favorite subject, an' all....  Your best bet all the way around is to look for freshwater algae eating shrimps.  These pleasant little creatures come in pint-sized packages packing a punch to pulverize your putrid algae problem - uh, sorry 'bout that....  Do try to find cherry shrimp or bumblebee shrimp, as these seem to stay the smallest and are avid attackers of algae.  You could easily keep half a dozen of either of these kind in your tank.  If you can't find those, next in line are 'the' algae shrimp, or Amano shrimp, the well-known Caridina japonica.  These get significantly larger, so you'd probably only want two or three in your tank.  If you're lucky, you might find 'rainbow' shrimp in as contaminants with the Amanos.  These have a slightly more prominent 'hump' in their back, though not much, and they have a few stripes running perpendicular to the stripe down their back (the Amanos lack these stripes, and the stripe running down their back is much narrower).  They also become neat colors as they age, blue-green or red-brown, and they stay smaller than the Amanos, too, though not as small as cherry shrimp or bumblebee shrimp.  And, failing shrimps altogether, you'd probably be safe to get a single Otocinclus catfish.  These tiny little guys do a number on algae, but aren't nearly as fun as shrimp (uh, in my obsessed mind, that is).> I don't have much algae yet.   <Good!!  Though you might have to feed your new algae-eating-critter on other veggie matter, too.> I don't want to purchase a larger algae eater because of the size of the tank.  And the algae eater has to get along with catfish and platies.  Is the catfish good enough???   <Corys don't eat algae much to speak of (they also like to be in groups of three or more, but in a small 6g tank, that's virtually impossible).  Whether you choose an Otocinclus or any of the abovementioned shrimps, you'll be absolutely fine, in terms of compatibility.> Also, with a tank this  size.....should I do a water change about every 3 weeks....like a 25% water change?   <Well, I'd do water changes closer to every week, but only on the order of 10-15%.  Less water, more often is usually the best bet. Thanks! <Any time!  -Sabrina, the shrimp-obsessed>

Mmmmm.... algae.... Hi.  I have a 6 gallon Eclipse System tank.  I have 4 platies and 1 panda Cory catfish.  I am noticing green algae in my tank towards the top.  I have read many of the articles on your website....have called our local store....the store suggests the Chinese Algae Eater.  Your website says as they get older they eat fish.  Not good.   <Exactly!  Stay away from these.  Not a good choice for algae consumption at all.> Someone on your website suggested shrimp.   <'Twas I, Sabrina the Shrimp Obsessed> I don't really want to go that route either.   <In my twisted, shrimp-infested world, I can't imagine *why*, but hey, to each, his own :)  Have you thought about a couple of Otocinclus?   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/otocinclusart.htm .  How about a true Siamese Algae Eaters (SAEs - NOT Chinese algae eaters):   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saes.htm  ?  Either of those appealing to you?> So....is it really necessary at all to buy an algae eater or can I just clean the tank every 3 weeks or so doing a 25 to 30 percent water/gravel cleaning?  HELP!!!!  THANKS!!!   <You can probably get by without an algae eating critter, but I think it'd make life easier.  I'd recommend smaller water changes more often, and do be careful not to clean too much of the substrate in one go, so as not to remove your entire bacteria colony.  If your only algae issue is on the glass of the tank, you can use an algae pad for it (make sure it's Plexiglas safe, for the eclipse tank).  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Lots of fish, lots of fish waste, and lots of algae - continued Ok, so how many fish should I remove to lighten the bioload and which ones? Thank you! <Well, Thomas, this is really the part that I don't like to be too instructing on.  I know very well how dear our fish can be to us, and suggesting to remove something is never a comfortable issue.  First off, do please double check your nitrate test against another, see if yours is off; I'd really expect it to be more than zero.  So let's recap, here; you have: 8 Leopard Danios, 2 German Rams, 2 Bolivian Rams, 3 Dwarf Gouramis, 2 Angelfish, 2 American Flag fish, 4 Lyre tail Swords, 4 Platies, 4 White Clouds, 6 Neon Tetras, 2 Albino Plecos, and 6 algae eating shrimp in a  58 gallon tank.  My first qualm is with the angelfish in with Neons and white clouds, which will eventually be lunch for the angels, as may the Danios, eventually.  Also, a pair of angels will be likely to try to breed eventually, and will kick the butts of your other fish when they do.  Another point is that platies and swordtails will breed and make tons of little ones for you to deal with (or allow the other fish to eat).  It's really for you to decide what stays and what goes, and depending on what you choose to let go, the number of fish will be different.  Whatever route you take, I'd recommend keeping the plecs, the shrimp, and the Flagfish, who will hopefully help with the algae.  Again, let me reiterate that I hate telling you to remove some of your fish - I know how attached we can get.  Cutting down on feeding and using canister filtration instead of UGF will also help (this last bit with nitrates and plants in mind).  Wishing you and your tank well,  -Sabrina>

Lots of Fish, Lots of Fish Waste, and Lots of Algae - Continued Again Sabrina, <Thass me!> Perhaps I omitted this fact, but I have a Fluval 304 system.   <No, you did state that.> The UGF is used primarily to foster water flow through the substrate.   <This is actually very bad for plants.> Does that change anything?   <Unfortunately, no.  UGFs will still do some serious nitrate buildup, and that in addition to giving the plants a hard time, well, the nitrates will go to being algae food, more or less.> By the way, I don't plan on getting rid of these fish, just moving them to another tank (I'll set one up because I don't want to get rid of fish!  I get terribly sad whenever one dies, so it's generally out of the question.) <Ahh!  Now THAT's good to hear!!  First off, I'd send the white clouds, Neons, and zebra Danios to another tank, to prevent them becoming angel lunches when the angels get big (not sure if the Danios would ever be at risk, but better safe than sorry, IMO).  I'd probably send a pair of rams and the three Gourami along, as well, to try to make the number of fish (and their waste) manageable.  That'll leave you with 2 angels, 2 rams, 2 plecs (Bushynoses, were they?), 2 flag fish, 4 swordtails, 4 platies, and six algae eating shrimp in the 58g.  If this is do-able for you, awesome.  If not, then keep on top of weekly water changes, test often for nitrates and phosphates, make use of phosphate absorbing media if necessary, add plants, cut back on hours of lighting (an hour or so at "noon" fish-tank-time for the lights to be off seems to help keep algae down), feed less, gravel vac more, you know the drill.  Best of luck to you in your battle with evil algae!  -Sabrina>

Lots of Fish, Lots of Fish Waste, Lots of Algae, Continued Yet Again Sabrina, <Me!> Thank you for all of your help.  Here's what I've decided to do.  I removed the UGF and boy did that stir up a dust storm!   <I can imagine!> I find the Red Sea Flora Life substrate to be rather messy.   <Yeah, but it's really Good Stuff.> I went through three HOT Magnum filters pulling out all the debris out of the water.   <I can imagine.  Must've been a dust storm in there.  The Seachem Fluorite that I use seems to be a little less dusty than the Flora Life, and I've seen the dust storms that it can produce.> I removed the Platies, the Swords, and one Gourami.   <I'd still remove the other two gouramis, and a pair of Kribs, but of course, that's dependant upon how large of a tank they'd be moved into.> The angels are still rather small, but when they get bigger I'll relocate the Tetras.   <Excellent.> I also removed all of the plants and put them in a separate bucket of tank water and covered it with aluminum foil and towels.  It remained covered for 2 1/2  days.  All of the hair algae seem to have died.   <I'd expect the algae to be able come back, but with all the measures you're taking, you man never have to deal with it again, or if you do, you should be able to keep it at bay enough that your algae eating fishes and shrimp will probably be able to control/eliminate it.> I've begun replanting the tank and I've also added more plants.   <Wonderful.> I also went out and purchased a Carbo-Plus CO2 system.   <I've always wondered how effective these are, and have been tempted to try one, but I'm still pretty happy with my yeast systems.  I do hope you get great results with this, I'm very interested.> I'm also closing the valves on my power heads during the daylight hours to decrease the amount of CO2 I lose.  I open them up and inject oxygen during the nighttime hours.   <All wonderful.> I had been using only one Hagen CO2 system and that really wasn't doing it.  I had a CO2 level of 6 ppm.  I put this in on Saturday afternoon.  When I tested the water at lunch today the CO2 level had climbed to about 09 ppm.  I'm heading towards a target level of about 15 - 20 ppm (any advice here?).   <I'd think 15ppm is a good point to shoot for.  This is partly dependant upon what kind of plants you have.  The only other thing I haven't seen mentioned is lighting, which, of course, is very important to plants - I'll assume, from all else you've done, you've done your homework here too, and have suitable lighting for the plants you keep.> After the water settled down, I did a 10% water change. Right now my pH is good (around 7.0) and my PO4 level is 0.  I still have some nitrates present, but I'm keeping a watchful eye on that.  The ammonia and nitrites are 0 and 0 respectively.  I've also cut down on the amount of food I've been feeding them.  I'm hoping that the increase in CO2 will produce more significant plant growth. <This all sounds absolutely excellent; I'm sure you're on your way to a pretty amazing system.  Great job, and best of luck to you!  -Sabrina>

Lots of Fish, Lots of Fish Waste, Lots of Algae, and More... Plus Lighting Sabrina, <Me again!> My last e-mail, I promise!   <Don't sweat it - send as many as you like :) > My lighting is by Cora Life.  It's their 48" set of 4 fluorescents.  It has four fans embedded in the housing.  I forget the wattage right at the moment, buy my LFS said it should work well for all kinds of plants, including the ones that need a lot of light.   <Something like this?   http://shop.store.yahoo.com/lamps-now/484xcoraqpch.html  Great choice.> I run the lights about 10 to 11 hours per day. <I think you're all set, and off to a wonderful start, and then some.  Well done.  -Sabrina>

Fish, Waste, Nitrates, Algae, Lighting, Continued... Sabrina, <Hi again, Tom> That's the light set-up exactly.  Now since you're encouraging more questions ( :-) ), <Always!> how long do you think it will take for my CO2 levels to increase?  The Carbo-Plus system gets turned on around 7:00 AM and I turn it off around 9:00 PM.  That's about 14 hours.   <I've never used this system, nor known anybody who has used it.  Swing by the forums http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/index.jsp and post in the plants section, see if anyone there is using it; I think we had a fellah who was going to try it out some time ago.  I'm also interested in hearing your results with it.> Also, my NO3 levels are still somewhat elevated, around 20 PPM.  How long will it take for those to come down?   <Water changes will help you nail this.  20ppm isn't awful, but it could certainly be lower.  As the plants settle in again, they'll help as well, but water changes are always a plus.> The Gouramis have completely vacated the tank now. <Reading that, I could only think, "Elvis has left the building"....  I think you'll have some good success with this tank, Tom!  -Sabrina> Tom

Hair Algae Albatross Greetings & Salutations O' Learned One(s)! <And Greetings & Salutations to you, as well - but I prefer to be learnING than learnED, as I always want there to be more info for me to soak up ;) > I am writing because I am at my wits end - well almost - with my hair algae problem.  Before I get into the particulars, let me lay out the specifics of my tank. Tank: 58 Gallon Oceanic Lights: 1 Oceanic Canopy w/ FL & 1 36" Aqualight.  The lights are on approximately 10 hours per day. Filtration:  An UGF with two power heads and a Fluval 304 Substrate: Flora Life by Red Sea Other: Hagen CO2 system Plants: It's moderately to heavily planted with varying species Fish: 8 Leopard Danios, 2 German Rams, 2 Bolivian Rams, 3 Dwarf Gouramis, 2 Angelfish, 2 American Flag fish, 4 Lyre tail Swords, 4 Platies, 4 White Clouds, 6 Neon Tetras, and 2 Albino Pleco Temmenickies.  I also have 6 algae eating shrimp. <This is really a very hefty bioload, probably a bit much for your tank.  That might be the start of your algae problem, coupled with the UGF.  Also, I'm not familiar with 'Pleco Temmenickies"?  Is Temmenickies a common name?  I can't find any Loricariid under that name on any search - but for obvious reasons, I'm assuming this is a Pleco of some sort ;) > Chemistry: NO4 = 0, <Do you mean ammonia (NH4) here?> NO2 = 0.3 mg/l NO3 = 0, PH = 6.5, PO4 = 0 <Get those nitrites down to zero - nitrites are toxic to fish.> I do weekly 20% (~ 10 gallons) water changes with RO water.  I add RO Right by Kent Marine to add the requisite trace elements.  Lately, I've been adding PH Plus to bring my PH up since it had dropped to below 6. <Zowie.  It'd be better to use part treated tapwater and part RO water to keep your pH where it ought to be, rather than playing pH roller coaster.... not a fun game, at all, as I'm sure you know.  In your case, I might suggest Seachem's Acid Buffer.  Do keep in mind that CO2 injection lowers pH, as well.> The tank became "operational" on August 1, 2003.  When I started it up, I added Bio-Spira. Ok, so I've never had an algae bloom.  I have recently begun to see green algae on the sides of the glass.  I've been using an algae scrapper to get rid of that.  Now the hair algae has been a persistent problem for several weeks now.   <Ugh....  From a fellow algae-hater, I feel for ya, man....> The flag fish don't seem to be all that interested in the hair algae.   <Really?  (sigh) Isn't that always the way - ya get a fish, expecting it to serve a purpose, and instead, it thumbs its nose at you....> I see the Platies and the Swords nibbling at it from time-to-time.  Even the Gouramis snack on it.  Short of removing all the plants and soaking them in a 20:1 water/bleach solution, I'm not sure how best to proceed.   <Most importantly, I really, really recommend that you lessen your bioload some.  All that fish waste has to feed something, and the algae's taking advantage of it.  I'd also double-check your nitrate test, perhaps bring a water sample to your LFS and have them test it; with such a bioload coupled with a UGF (possible factory of nitrates), even weekly water changes it strikes me that there's got to be loads of nitrates in there - and that would definitely contribute to your problem.  Another point to make here, is be certain not to feed your fish too much.  For one thing, leftover food on the bottom will feed the shrimp and make them less likely to eat algae.  For another, feeding less will entice your algae-snackers (Flagfish, livebearers) to browse on the algae a bit more.  And lastly, the most obvious reason, broken down food will feed algae, and more food in the fish means more fish poo, which means more algae, too.> I've scoured your site and others, but what I've found, I already am doing.  I have algae eating fish & invertebrates.  I have a good amount of plants, I change the water regularly, etc., but alas I am now throwing myself on your mercy. :)   <And hopefully we can get to the root of this problem.  God luck to you.  -Sabrina> In advance, thank you!!  Tom Lenzmeier

Hair and barley Dear WWM crew: <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I was wondering if you could revisit the dreaded hair algae issue.   <Okay...> I have a 45 gallon discus tank with extremely low KH/GH, pH=6-6.5, nitrate <20 ppm. <My first thought is "What are your phosphates at?" And nitrates of 20 are plenty to feed algae.> Water changes are made with appropriately replenished RO/DI water.  The tank contains a number of live plants, but few fish  (1-6" discus, 2-1" rainbow fish); therefore the nutrient "load" on the system  is relatively low. <Yup.> Lighting is sub-optimal--only 60 watts of full spectrum fluorescent light for a relatively deep aquarium--but the aquarium also receives a fair amount of natural sunlight.   <This can be a problem in many cases. It seems odd that natural sunlight would adversely affect a tank, but I've heard it does. None of my tanks get natural sunlight, so I don't have a good way to test the theory.> Although not rampant, hair algae continues to grow on some of the plants.  What are the pros and cons of placing some dried barley in a filter bag for algae control?   <Well, the pros are that it does seem to work. The cons are that you need to replace it every so often, and if you put it in the tank rather than in the filter, your fish may tear the barley packet apart and turn your tank into a mess.> Is pH or buffering capacity affected by this "remedy?"   <I've never tried the stuff, so I can't guess.> Does anyone know how barley extract purportedly works? <I've seen it have an effect in a highly-stocked Koi tank that gets some natural sunlight. The owner had tried one of those in-tank barley pads, and the Koi tore it up and made a mess in the tank. Then again, when I was able to measure the phosphates in the tank, the readings were so far off the scale it was scary. The reading was between 4-5 mg/l, if I remember correctly; anything over about 0.4 mg/l is going to contribute to algae. When the Koi owner got his phosphates under control, the algae problem got much better.> Thanks for your input or any other suggestions, and sorry if this subject is redundant (I have seen a few items on the website).  Dana <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

Green water in a 55g sardine can Hi <Hi, Denise!  Sabrina with you today, to help you beat the crap outta your algae> I have a 55 gallon freshwater aquarium, it has no live plants. I only have about 25 fish in the tank including Danios, tiger barbs, iridescent shark and Bala sharks. <Uh.... Only?  Dare I ask, how many of each species do you have?  Yikes....  Bala sharks get 14" long....  and that iridescent shark (Pangasius hypophthalmus) can get a whopping 52 inches (that's more than four feet!!)  Balas are great fish, given large enough space, but it's very, very sad to see the iridescent cats for sale.  No fish store with any decency whatsoever should sell them - and yet we see them, and many other potential monsters, so often for sale.> But I do have a gazillion small snails. <A battle in and of itself, I know.> After about a one or two weeks my water went green and no matter what I do it won't clear up. Could they be causing my green water? <Green water is a form of microalgae that stays suspended in the water.  Yucky stuff.  I wage war with it in my ponds every year.  Some things that will help you, are: A) Reduce your fish load.  You say 'only' 25 fish in a 55g - I have ten fish in my 72 gallon, and it's almost fully stocked.  The higher the fish load, the higher the amount of nutrients (from fish waste) available for algae to use.  B) Get some vascular plants to help you in your battle, they will outcompete the algae for nutrients.  Elodea/Anacharis will serve as a food to some of your fish.  Perhaps get some water lettuce (usually a pond plant) to float on top of the water, thus blocking light to the green water algae.  Water lettuce also is a great plant for sucking up those nitrates.  Many other good plants out there for you.  C) Put your aquarium light(s) on a timer so you can make it turn off for a couple hours at noontime; this will help cut back on algae growth.  If worse comes to worst, there are chemical means you can try, but they are extremely toxic to all plants (algae and vascular plants), and although you don't currently have any vascular plants, I'd rather you tried a more natural way of ridding yourself of the algae, rather than turning your tank into a chemical soup.> I have one tank cleaner <Hmm?  Is this a fish, or a device?  I almost want to assume you mean a Plecostomus?> and there is no overgrowth of algae on tank walls or gravel.   <That's a plus, at least!> Thanks Denise

Diatoms, and the shrimp that eat them Hello! <Hi, Lemia!  Sabrina here, today, fighting the algae war with all you algae-hatin' folks> I've been reading the many FAQ's and other info on your site concerning Diatoms.  Most of them seem to address this issue with regard to marine/saltwater aquaria (unless I am misunderstanding some of the abbreviations).   <Nope, no misunderstanding, you're right.> I have a freshwater aquarium that is almost 4 months old.  Some of the specs are as follows:  46 gallon, Emperor 400 Bio-Wheel filter.  No live plants or rocks.  Water levels as follows:  Ph-7.0, Ammonia <.5 ppm, Nitrite=0, Nitrate=60 ppm (I will be doing a water change tomorrow). KH=5 dKH and GH=9 dGH.   <Fish, yet?  Get that ammonia to zero.  And YIKES! at that nitrate reading!!  There's the cause of your problem (or at least part of it)!> My problem is that over the past 2 months I 've been developing diatoms that just keep getting worse not better.  Before I confirmed they were diatoms I tried increasing the lighting, <Increasing lighting will only help the algae grow....> an algae eater (neither helped at all or made things worse) <Depending on what fish you mean by this, it might not even recognize diatoms as food.> and a chemical algaecide (only helped a little).   <Yuck.  This should be kept as an absolute last resort.  Could be quite harmful to plants, should you ever choose to keep them.> I have since confirmed through my local fish store that I definitely have diatoms. <Kind of a brown, mucky, dust-looking stuff?> They believe (as do I) that it is due to excess silicates in the tank.   <Although silicates are likely a contributor to the problem, the extremely high nitrates are very much to blame, too.  Also high phosphates are definitely suspect.> They recommended use of the Phosguard product by Seachem.  I began using the product a week ago with no noticeable improvement.   <Cool stuff, really.  I've not had need of it in my freshwater aquaria, but it is helpful in my Nano-reef when necessary.> I purchased a silicate test kit and determined that the tank has 1.5 ppm of silicate.  My understanding is that for freshwater aquaria that level should be at .02 ppm.  I have tested my tap water, which is what I use for water changes and evaporation top offs and determined that it has over 2 ppm of silicates.   <Yeah, probably a contributing factor, but you've got a lot going against you what with the super-duper high nitrates.  I'd like to know your phosphate levels, too, I bet they're high.> As a result, I believe that continued use of the Phosguard will not remedy my diatom problem.   <Correct.  You need to get to the source of it, cut off its nutrients.  Phosguard will help, though, in starting to control the problem.> I have been reading up on diatom filters but from what I read, I'm just not sure if they are the correct solution.  I also saw on your website notes on Reverse Osmosis water?? Where would I be able to get that?? I also saw info on Deionization units/water??   <Please start reading here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rofaqs.htm  , then if you're still uncertain, read some of the gobs and gobs of related FAQs :)  I think you'll have more than you ever wanted to know.> I am hoping you can expand on what some of these items are, what they'll do, how will they effect other factors in my aquarium, etc.  Also, if you can give me your feedback on what the best solution would be to remove the diatoms and manage the tank to prevent future breakouts I would be most appreciative. <Ahh....  Now I start in....  First off, please do consider planting the aquarium.  Anacharis/elodea will help with sucking up some of the nutrients, as well as feed some fish.  You might want to plop some water lettuce in the top of the tank, to provide shade as well as to soak up nitrates.  Water sprite, Vallisneria, Amazon swords....  the list goes on and on.  But even more fun....  Bamboo shrimp.  Also called wood shrimp or Singapore shrimp, Atyopsis moluccensis are EXTREMELY adept at consuming diatomic algae.  When first starting out my 72g planted aquarium, I had major diatom issues while the tank was still extremely sparsely planted.  I grabbed some Amano shrimp (Caridina japonica) to try to help, but they weren't too adept at nailing the diatoms (though they did a number and a half on some green algae that was forming).  Just for kicks, I dropped in a wood shrimp.  The thing was a diatom lawnmower!  He truly left an obvious path behind him where he'd been grazing.  You could track him by the path in the stuff.  Just one single wood shrimp in a 72 gallon aquarium cleared up the diatoms in less than a week.  However, I will caution you - there is a drawback to this shrimp - once the diatoms are gone, you'll have to drop in food for him regularly, or he will starve.  These are filter feeding animals by nature, and will simply hold their 'fan-hands' open in the current in the wild to catch bits of food suspended in the water.  But our tanks are just too clean for that to happen; they really must have food that will break into particulate matter (I use Hikari sinking wafers/pellets) for them to 'shovel' into their mouths.  If ever your shrimp is 'fanning' in the current for long periods of time, this is likely indicative that he is starving to death.  From my experience, when well fed, they will only filter-feed when they are at rest.  One more drawback is that you can never, ever use copper in a tank containing invertebrates.  If interested in shrimp, you may also want to dose your tank with iodine weekly at a rate of one drop of Kent's iodine supplement (made for reef tanks) per ten gallons of water.  After I started doing this in my tanks, there was an extremely noticeable increase in health, activity, growth, and color in all of my shrimp species.  Wonderful animals, they are.> Thank you in advance for your assistance and for your patience in reading my lengthy note. <And thank you for my patience in my lengthy reply!  (I'm shrimp obsessed ;D ) Lemia M.

Lots of Algae  9/4/03 I read your articles in wet web media all the time but I still have question regarding algae the so called plants that grows so rapidly in my tank does this mean that my water quality is bad or good or do I lack nutrients in my system, still confused??? <Hmmm... when you say "plants" what do you mean?  Plants or algae?   I assume algae, and if you have a lot f it you probably have a nutrient problem.  If this is saltwater make sure your skimmer is pumping out dark nasty gunk.  Keep up doing weekly/bi-weekly water changes and remember not to over-feed the fish.  By doing tis you will cut back on the nutrients that the algae needs to have.  Thus reducing the algae you your tank.  Hope this helps!  Phil>

Hair Algae... Probably the Result of Phosphates Dear WWM crew: I was wondering if you could revisit the dreaded hair algae issue.  I have a 45 gallon discus tank with extremely low KH/GH, pH=6-6.5, nitrate <20 ppm. Water changes are made with appropriately replenished RO/DI water.  The tank contains a number of live plants, but few fish  (1-6" discus, 2-1" rainbow fish); therefore the nutrient "load" on the system  is relatively low. Lighting is sub-optimal--only 60 watts of full spectrum fluorescent light for a relatively deep aquarium--but the aquarium also receives a fair amount of natural sunlight.  Although not rampant, hair algae continues to grow on some of the plants.  What are the pros and cons of placing some dried barley in a filter bag for algae control? <The best way to combat hair algae... is to get some kind fish/shrimp that consumes it or to check your phosphate levels... this is most likely your problem... you need to purchase RO water..> Is pH or buffering capacity affected by this "remedy?" <I have heard this done before... and from what I have heard it doesn't work!!!> Does anyone know how barley extract purportedly works? Thanks for your input or any other suggestions, and sorry if this subject is redundant (I have seen a few items on the website). <I would just perform water changes... with Reverse Osmosis water [RO] or some type of water without Phosphates in it... Good luck, IanB> Dana

Black Beard Algae - Eek! Hello FAMA, <Actually, Sabrina here, from the WetWebMedia crew, where your message hopes to find an answer!> I am desperately searching for any information regarding Black Brush Algae.   <Argh!  Evil, evil stuff, isn't it!?  Fortunately, there are ways to battle it.> I tried using the search feature on the website, but could not understand how to decipher what the articles were about.  I have been a subscriber since June 2002.  Could you let me know of any pertinent articles on this algae so I may figure out how to destroy it?   <First, a link to help you better understand algae fighting: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm .  Also, another well-put-together site, explaining well the methods of fighting different algaes:   http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/art_plant_algae.htm .  Your best bet for animals to help you with your battle is the Siamese Algae Eater, not to be confused with the Flying Fox, or Chinese Algae Eater, which would be of no help whatsoever.  And a link to tell the difference:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saes.htm .  I'm pretty sure this will all help you get on the right track!!  Good luck to you.> Response is greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Summer Camillo, Fraser Valley Aquatics

More Freshwater Cyano Well, I have had marine tanks for 10 years and I think it at least looks like Cyanobacteria.  It is an emerald green, and beginning to carpet the gravel.   <Yeah, it could very well be Cyano.> It is a 30 gallon tank which now has 5 Otocinclus in it as well as 5 neon rainbows and a black angel.  The tank itself is a planted tank.  But I notice that the "algae" in question continues to spread.   <My recommendation, add more plants (many, many types that will help with the algae fight), consider any of the many algae-eating shrimp species (amazing creatures!), and manually remove as much of the algae as you can during water changes.  It might also be in your interests to test your source water for phosphates, as that might be part of the cause.> Thanks for all info and advise and I swear by your site!  -D <And thank you for the kind words.  -Sabrina>

Algae Bloom I have a ten gallon freshwater tank, which came with all the necessary equipment. <Such as?> However, after the first couple of water changes, my water started turning vividly green after only a few days. I have tried putting algae cleaning solutions into the water when I change the tank, but it hasn't helped. <I am not a big fan of bottled algae cures.  Are you adding anything else to your water change water?  dechlorinator that neutralizes chloramines is probably all you need.> I have no idea what to do about this problem, but it is becoming very hard to deal with...not to mention annoying, and disgusting looking. I looked on Google to see if my question had been asked, but it hadn't. <it is often called green water.> This water problem is virtually killing my fish; I have already lost one neon, and I fear for the other 9 fish in my tank. <It may not be the algae that is killing your fish, if the tank is new (how long has it been set up?) it could be a result of your water quality.  PH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are something you should test for.  If you do not have the test kits your local fish store can usually test for you.> Please, any help or suggestions that you have would be of great help to me. Sorry for the trouble!  Sincerely (and desperately), Brie Gustafson <Nothing to be sorry about here, once we get this algae situation figured out I'm sure we will have you on your way to a beautiful tank.  Is the tank near a window?  What type of lighting is on the tank, and how long are the lights left on?  How often are you changing your water, and how much are you changing?  What type of filter are you using?  How many and what type of fish are in your tank?  The link below is to an article on Algae Control in Closed Aquatic Systems, the links at the top of the page will lead you to archived FAQs on algae control. http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm I'm sure we can get to the bottom of this.  Best Regards, Gage>

Red algae in f/w aquarium Dear Mr Fenner ,  I finally was able to find your web site [whew]. I will give you some of my background and then ask you my question of the day. I am a mother of 4, I work full time and am trying to get my own business going on the side. I have kept freshwater, saltwater, ponds, reptiles and birds, and many other critters. I have been doing this since I was 8 years old. For a while in the early 90's I ran a hatchery and consulting business out of my basement, I had everything from angelfish, Lake Tanganyikan cichlids, rare Plecos, saltwater reef tank, etc. <Wowzah! Quite an aquatic background> I have done some work with our botanical society when they were having problems with their Koi. one of the local vets and I tried to save this fish. it ended up having a pesudoms <Pseudomonas> bacterial infection, I was going there every day and giving this fish an injection of antibiotics. but the infection was so severe we ended up losing the Koi. I also helped the person in charge learn more about the pond, water quality etc. so she would be  more able to keep an eye on things and make sure the maint. was done right on the pond. I am currently helping a customer with a saltwater tank [I am in the process of replacing the silicone on this custom tank]. now the question..... they also have a 10g f/w tank and after they moved up here from another town and set it back up it started to get this type of red encrusting algae growing on everything, I have tested the water, and nothing is out of the norm. the only difference is where the water comes from. this algae grows in a round patch with the outer parts being hard, with growth rings going to the center, the center is soft and easily removed, but it takes some work to get the outer rings of. have you ever come across something like this and is there any way to get rid of this unsightly problem. any help you could give me would be great. <Have seen this sort of thing a few times... and suspect it involves a blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria), possibly in concert (like lichens) with another microorganism. Can be dealt with by placing better-adapted photosynthetic life that will deprive it of nutrients and light (like a floating grass type plant, e.g. Anacharis, Myriophyllum, Coontail... best. Or using (not recommended) an antibiotic> it's not very often I run across something that stumps me, and I don't give up till I find out what the problem is, and this stuff is starting to drive me crazy, it just won't go away. you can e-mail me at XXXX or phone me at 970-858-XXXX. any help or info leading to a solution would be greatly appreciated. Thank You, Patty Ashley <Do try the competing vascular plant approach here. Bob Fenner>

Green water in Tank <Hello! Ryan at the wheel> Why does my 10 gallon freshwater tank turn green within about 2 weeks of being cleaned? I had 5 neon tetras, 2 catfish and 1 sucker fish.  Every time the tank turns green 1-2 fish die. I lost 2 Neons this last time.  I am ready to throw the tank away unless you find a solution. The pet store guy by me recommended buying algae remover stuff but it has not helped. Please advise. Thanks, Scott <Well Scott, this is a little vague on the details.  Do you take water tests?  At the BARE minimum, you should be testing ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH.  You should be able to take a sample of water to a good LFS for testing.  Possible causes of greenish/yellowish water ASIDE from plain poor water quality could be: Lack of water exchange: Dead spots.  Do you have any circulation besides the filter?  You made no mention of equipment used. Carbon Exhausted: Filter media should be changed every 2-4 weeks for peak performance. Algal Growth: Yes, you LFS may have been correct, but probably not.  He's trying to treat the symptoms, not the problem.  Don't dump in any more chemicals until we diagnose this.  Be sure to closely observe your fish-breathing hard is a bad sign.  My guess is really high nitrates- What kind of water change routine are you in?  Do one now.  Go get your water tested, and keep me posted!  Good luck-Ryan>

Green Water in Fresh Water I've tried finding the answer to my tanks cloudiness on your Q&A  but to much to get through. My tank is cloudy but when I drain 25 % of the water which at this point it could be a daily chore the water is green. I've tried less light about  eight hours a day and temp  is at 76.  My fresh water tank has been set up for 6 months. I had this problem before but buy changing the water every few days I thought I got the problem solved, now its back worse the before. I have an overflow   filter that runs all the time and an under gravel filter that I run about 3 hours a day.  I tried crystal clear and it didn't work instead my catfish died ,  20 drops for a 10 gallon tank repeat in 24 hours which I did . Stopped  before all 10 fish  die. <First of all cut way back on feeding and leave your UGF running 24-7.  See if your LFS has a diatom filter of UV sterilizer they can lend you.  If so run it use it and keep doing daily water changes until its gone.  Also try doing some searches on green water at WWM.  Cody>  Please help Thanks Linda

Algae Hi, I hope you can help me. I've been unable to find out just what the filmy stuff is around all my plants in my 20 gallon fresh water tank.<are these live or fake plants>  I did a water change last night and washed all the plants but today the film is back around the plants and there seems to be brown dots within the film and some of the film is stuck on the glass. <sounds like algae to me>  Today I also notice tiny clusters of white dots over the glass.<do you have any pics>  Is this algae or some sort of fungus or bacteria? How do I go about testing to find out what it is?  I've not read anything about what it could be (or else I'm not sure what to look under). Any help you can give me would be appreciated.<do read http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgaefaqs.htm> Thanks,<your welcome, IanB> Lena

Algae Bloom hello all... <Hello, Gage here, on lunch break, longing for a nap.> I have encountered an unexpected problem and do not know the source of my dilemma... in my 29-gallon tank there has been a sudden surge in what I believe to be algae in the water...notice I said in the water and not on the glass.. <noted :-)> I keep the glass clean with a scraper but my water looks murky and cloudy, with a greenish hue. <sounds like algae> I recently removed all the plants from my tank (around 12) because they were being eaten... <maybe the lack of plants allowed for excess nutrients which fueled the algae bloom?> is my murky water an algae overload, or could it be my filter is clogged (my filter sounds fine and appears to be working fine, except the cloudiness) I just did a 50% water change yesterday and it appears that the water is even cloudier now. I don't know what the problem is, hopefully you do...thanks for your help. <Hmm... It sounds like an algae bloom to me, take a read over the following links and related links for more information. http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontags.htm I would also test my water just to make sure everything is in line.  Best Regards, Gage>

Algae Hi, I hope you can help me. I've been unable to find out just what the filmy stuff is around all my plants in my 20 gallon fresh water tank.<are these live or fake plants>  I did a water change last night and washed all the plants but today the film is back around the plants and there seems to be brown dots within the film and some of the film is stuck on the glass. <sounds like algae to me>  Today I also notice tiny clusters of white dots over the glass.<do you have any pics>  Is this algae or some sort of fungus or bacteria? How do I go about testing to find out what it is?  I've not read anything about what it could be (or else I'm not sure what to look under). Any help you can give me would be appreciated. <do read http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgaefaqs.htm> Thanks,<your welcome, IanB> Lena

Invasion of the green stuff! Hi I have a problem with my little 2 1/2 gallon tank that is the home of 1 male Betta. The problem is algae, I think. This stuff is bright!!! green, almost lime green. It seems to begin on the bottom of the tank, and spreads very quickly across the bottom of the tank and climbs the walls. Every day is a little more. I have 2 very small live plants (had 3 but removed it because I thought it might be what was causing the problem). Other than that I have one plastic plant. I have a fine bubble stone to aerate the water, and do water changes at least once a week. The 7 1/2 watt clear light is most always on, unless I put the dark blue aquarium light on. I realize this is only a $5 fish, but I would hate to loose him. The water is clear, not cloudy or green. Is this ok for my fish? Should I get rid of it, and if so, how? Last water change I thought I had it beat, but here I am again, not even a week later and it has covered at least 1/2 of the gravel on the bottom of the tank and is now starting up the walls. Please advise. Thank you in advance for your assistance. Lillian <This is actually harmless to your fish, just annoying to you because it looks so horrible. I've never found a successful way to completely eradicate this algae but cutting back on your lighting period should help. For a while, cut back to little or no light other than normal room light and see if this helps. You can also try doing water changes more often, maybe twice a week. Another thing is to make sure your tank is not getting any sunlight as this will cause excessive algae growth. Ronni>

Strange alga >Hello, >>Good morning, Pete, Marina here. >A few months ago, I saw a strange algae that I've never seen before. It was growing on a piece of driftwood in a freshwater tropical fish tank. Mixed with Neons and cichlids, shrimp and a few others. I can describe the algae but have no pictures because, when I recently came back , the driftwood was overgrown with a ugly green hair algae that wasn't there before and probably overgrew the one that was originally there.  What a loss!!! To describe it, It looked like a miniature version of the freshwater (common name) onion plant, C. thaianum, mixed in with a kelp leaf. >>???   >But the actual leaves were much smaller and thinner, somewhat transparent dark green looking like they were coming out of rosette.  Very fragile looking.  It must have been no more than a centimeter long and looked almost like it belongs in an ocean. It looked great. It was probably, not easy to grow because there was just a tiny patch of it. I wish I had my camera with me at the time. >>Wow, I do, too!  You have me really stumped here. >May you  have an idea what it might be? Or maybe you can direct me to somebody who specializes in these things. >>Let me bounce this to some others, going by your description (and my own lack of access to my library) I'm having a tough time with it.  Would you say it made a "whorl" of sorts?  If you could generate an illustration of some sort that would be helpful (of course, *I'm* awful at rendering.. LOL!). http://plantnet.rbgsyd.gov.au/PlantNet/fwalgae/ http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=freshwater+algae >>Unfortunately, most of what I find is on micro, instead of (small though it was) macro algae.  I am also wondering if it couldn't have been an egg case of some sort, as well.  At this point, I'm stumped.  Let's see if anyone else recognizes this description.  Marina
Re: strange alga
>Salutations Marina, >>Good morning again, Peter. >If you mean by "whorl" as undulations then yes.  A miniature almost translucent dark green kelp leaf comes to mind. >>Well, when I think of a "whorl", I think of something resembling a whirlpool.  So, it sounds as though the "leaf" edges were slightly ruffled, yes? >If I remember correctly the undulations very more pronounced toward the ends of the leafs. Seemed to be growing out of a rosette.   >>This sounds more and more like nothing I've ever seen. >The funny thing is that when I spoke to the pet shop owner he said that is some type of beneficial alga but didn't know what type.  I've even asked him if I could have a piece to try and grow it, even though probably not possible it was embedded in the wood and removing it would leave you with the question of how???   >>Indeed. >Also, I asked him what type of driftwood it was but I already forgot. I think the type of wood it was might have the effect of what grows on it.   >>The wood most commonly offered for sale in shops is not a true "driftwood" (that being any wood that has lain in water for some period of time--enough to become denuded of bark--and then drifts back to shore), but is actually the partial root structure of an African tree, though the name of the species completely escapes me. >He had some other freshwater tanks too but none had the algae or the wood if I remember correctly. I will call the store later when I get a chance and see if I can get the name of it.   When I came back a month or so later to take a photo he had no idea what I was talking about. Apparently they didn't even know what they had.  I've been looking for info on the net to see if I can find it but there is nothing to be found so far. >>As curiosity got the better of me (is it is often wont to do), I, too, did some searching.  I have a feeling that this is some arcane bit of plant material, with little written on it, possibly an original description, but honestly, I have no idea how to go about finding taxonomical descriptions of flora or fauna. >I wanted to also ask if you are from the States or some other part of the world? >>I am a USAinian, through and through.  Mother is Puerto Rican, father is longtime New Orleans native.  I currently live in the greater Los Angeles metro area (talk about a VAST expanse!).  Curious, what gave you pause to ask?  Please do tell! >Cheers, Peter >>And cheers to you, mate.  If I find anything I'll be bookmarking it, and if *you* find anything, please do let us know so we can add it to our database.  Marina
Re: strange alga
>Today driving around town I realized that that I might be able to give a better description of what I saw . It outright had the shape of the common snake plant.  I'm sure it grows out in California, too. It's a very common plant The Latin name is Sansevieria. >>Indeed!  An ubiquitous genus, to say the least.  I know it all too well. >Well, think of this basic shape of leaf shrunk to 1 cm, or slightly less in size, and very thin so thin, that it sways in the water current.(Like a kelp)  Almost translucent and very dark green. A little more whorly than the Sansevieria but not by much. Now, the Sansevieria usually have somewhat solitary leafs but not when pot bound so look at it as a pot bound alga growing out of the wood. I thinks this is much easier to picture then what I described it earlier. >>Agreed, though your previous description was very close to what I've got "pictured", and I have found *nothing* similar. >Hummm... lets see, since I'm the first person to describe it I'll call it macroalgaeus peterus sp. >>I think that would be "peteri", or maybe even "peterii"(?), mate. >Now if I could only find a specimen to prove to everyone that it exists. :-) >> ;^)  Gotcha, it's good to be vindicated sometimes.  Marina

Algae ID without a picture  >That's strange I sent you a reply to the last email you sent me and I don't understand why it came out empty. >>Yes, I was puzzled as well.  No worries. >Well if you haven't received it then: the whorls on the leaves of the alga did kind of corkscrew or turn but not much.  Very smooth undulations as far the leaves go. An d the leaves came straight out of the wood no rhizomes or roots visible. >>At this point, I need a botanist!  I have YET to find anything that fits this description, with no roots or rhizomes, one is lead to the conclusion that we are, indeed, looking to an algal form of floral life.  I am quite officially stumped.  Congratulations!  (Just kidding, I've been stumped before, but not quite like this.  Marina [follow-up] Today driving around town I realized that that I might be able to give a better description of what I saw . It outright had the shape of the common snake plant. I'm sure it grows out in Cal. too. Its a very common plant The Latin name is  Sancevieria. Well, think of this basic shape of leaf shrunk to 1 cm or slightly less in size and very thin so thin, that it sways in the water current.(Like a kelp)  Almost translucent and very dark green. A little more whorly than the Sancevieria but not by much. Now, the Sancevieria usually have somewhat solitary leafs but not when pot bound so look at it as a pot bound alga growing out of the wood. I thinks this is much easier to picture then what I described it earlier. Hummm... lets see, since I'm the first person to describe it I'll call it macroalgaeus peterus sp. Now if I could only find a specimen to prove to everyone that it exists. :-)Pete <Pete... have you tried browsing http://www.algaebase.org/ ? Do consider... begin with the groups and families that share gross similarities to narrow done the field. Kind regards, Anthony>
Re: strange alga ID
<Pete... have you tried browsing http://www.algaebase.org/ ? Do consider... begin with the groups and families that share gross similarities to narrow down the field. Kind regards, Anthony> Didn't find anything plus, these were all marine. The one I'm looking for definitely lives in freshwater. <Ahh... I see. Chimed in late on the query <G>. My advice then is to be resourceful, my friend. Call some local dive shops that are familiar with the FW locales. You can/should easily get a common name(s) from these chaps if not more from an old dog or well-informed diver. Also seek field guides at the local/online bookshops. Without a picture, its a tall request from us bud with tens of thousands if identified multicellular algae! best regards, Anthony>

Identifying Alga >That's strange I sent you a reply to the last email you sent me and I don't understand why it came out empty. >>Yes, I was puzzled as well.  No worries. >Well if you haven't received it then: the whorls on the leaves of the alga did kind of corkscrew or turn but not much.  Very smooth undulations as far the leaves go. An d the leaves came straight out of the wood no rhizomes or roots visible. >>At this point, I need a botanist!  I have YET to find anything that fits this description, with no roots or rhizomes, one is lead to the conclusion that we are, indeed, looking to an algal form of floral life.  I am quite officially stumped.  Congratulations!  (Just kidding, I've been stumped before, but not quite like this.  Marina>

Cloudy, light green water! Hi.  I am hoping you can help!  We have a 20 gallon aquarium with one live plant and 5 fish.  We have had the aquarium for 6 months (and our neighbor had it for years before that) and it has always been sparkling clear until about 2 weeks ago.  The water turned a very cloudy, faintly green color!   I am guessing the cause was either: 1)  over-feeding; I had a sick fish that didn't seem to be eating so I started putting in "extra" food for him to get or 2) my plant has been disintegrating and may have polluted the water.   <It's most likely an algae bloom brought on by excess nutrients from when you overfed.> In any case, I have cut back on the food, pulled out the disintegrating plant stems, changed 1/3 of the water every other day, and changed the filter.  There appears to be improvement immediately after the water changes but by the next morning the water is as bad as ever.  I tested the water and there is no problem with nitrates or ammonia. <Keep up the frequent water changes, it's the best way to handle this problem. You can also get a small amount of barley straw and put it in a mesh bag (a nylon stocking works good) and place it in your filter. This helps eliminate the algae/green water.> Can you give me some advice?  Should I change more of the water...like 1/2 or 3/4 of the tank?  It seems like that might be hard on the fish.  Should I buy some sort of algae-killing solution?  I don't like the idea of introducing chemicals into the water.  What would you suggest?  Thanks so much for your help! <Avoid the chemicals, they often cause more problems than they solve. Do smaller, frequent water changes (20% daily will work) for about a week. And try the straw, many people use it in ponds to prevent and control algae blooms. Ronni> Cyanobacteria Hi!  I've been battling this algae for about a month now, picking it out by hand, it suspended itself from the duck weed in my 77 gallon planted aquarium.  I went to my local aquarium supply and noticed the same type of algae and found out that it is a bacteria.  They recommended that I use Myacin by Aquatronics, remove any activated carbon and cut back on the light.  My tank has 8 angel fish, 2 bottom feeders and 4 Oto cats. Just looking for a second opinion. Thanks, Janet <The problem here is more nutrient control than anything. Once you get that under control, the Cyano will go away. Read http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgaefaqs.htm for some good tips. Ronni>

Mold in the tank Hello, <Hi> Hoping that you can help with a problem we are having with our fish tank.  It is a 46 gallon tank.  There are two filters, one on the bottom and another at the top.  We have mold growing on the glass and can not figure out why or what to do to keep it at bay.  Do you have any suggestions?  The fish that are in there are African Cichlids.  Waiting your reply. Thanks in advance, Darcie Miller <I've never heard of mold growing in a functioning aquarium, this is most likely algae. The addition of a Plecostomus will help eliminate this. The only other thing to do is to scrape the algae off with a scraper. Ronni>

Green hairy freshwater tank Hi, <Hello from Ananda...> I have had my tropical fish tank for approx 8 years, in the past year I have being plagued with problems with green hair algae. I have used various treatments and its taken about 3 months to get it totally out. <Hmmm... chemical treatments are usually temporary, combating the symptom rather than the cause. > Now its come back again, apart from the chemical treatments I can use, is there anything else what I can do to prevent it. <Algae thrives on high levels of nitrates and phosphates. You might want to invest in a phosphate test kit to check your phosphate levels. Phosphate is introduced with fish food, so feeding less can help. More frequent water changes to keep the nitrates down can also help. Alternately, phosphates or nitrates might be in your source water.> Is it caused by too much light, or too little, I have my light on a timer so my fish get approx 10 hrs a day of fluorescent light. Any suggestions would be welcome. The tank is cleaned out about every 4 weeks. David <Try switching to a bi-weekly cleaning schedule. Also, if your lights are more than a year old, replace them. Fluorescent lights change color as they get older, and the light color that it changes to is one that encourages algae growth. --Ananda>

Red bacteria Hello  I am new to aquariums.  I have a 36 gallon freshwater aquarium. I put 5 tiny cat fish in the tank 5 days ago. I previously had 20 or so tetra and 1 blue Gourami.  The fish gallery tested my water and it was fine. I bought 5 tiny cat fish. To get to the point almost overnight I have a rusty red growth on my gravel and plants.  I took the water to the pet store again and it still tested fine.  They gave me 3 doses of erythromycin and said it was a bacteria.  Could it have come from those pesky catfish???  Does this sound like a problem you have dealt with in the past?? Can you please give me some information about how else I can control this such thing?  Thank you for your time, Pam Whitted <This sounds like some sort of diatoms or if bacteria, it's probably Cyano thus the erythromycin. There must be a nutrient control problem in your tank or it could be... not enough of the correct kind of light combined with the nutrients. All of this is conversed at Wetwebmedia.com. Give it a search. David Dowless>

Star Tronics UV/Please read! Hi, I need a UV to combat a re-occurring problem, Green Tank Syndrome. It's in my freshwater 55 gal tank.  I'm able to get a slightly used Star Tronics 25 watt for around $50.00.  Is this a good brand/price?  Would it work for my 55?  The auction ends Fri. <This is a very good price... considering it works, doesn't leak and the lamp isn't too old. It would "work" on your 55 to help with the green water, but... is likely unnecessary. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the associated FAQs (above, in blue) re the several inputs to algae control and consider how you can implement each. You likely have too much available nutrient, a lack of competing life forms. Consider these before the U.V. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Jen P.S. Love the site!

Linking, FW algae experience To the Crew of Wet Web Media, I am building a website right now that I hope to have up sometime next year.   I was wondering if it was all right if I put a link to your site on there.    <Sure. It's the Internet...> The reason that I ask, is that you might not want a link to your site on my site, you might laugh, but some people are funny like that. <Mmm, we link most anything ornamental aquatics related that folks bring to our attention, or we find. Send along your URL when you're ready> Just curious.    Also, I have something that I thought that you might like to know.  I recently came into a severe problem with green water.  I went looking on all of the sites that I know of, and even some that I didn't know of.  Nothing I could find really helped.  People said leave it in the dark, and try live daphnia, but it had already been in the dark for too long, and I cannot find the live daphnia anywhere, so I talked to some people, and I found a surefire way to kill it. I did a 50% water change.  Then I added a product called "Velvet Guard" by Jungle.  Then I added some more nitrogen, and some more potassium.  I wrapped a blanket around the aquarium, and let it sit over night.  When I woke up and looked into the tank, all of the "green" was gone.  I added the extra fertilizer because there are plants in the tank, and the idea was to effect a swing in the limiting factors.  Doing that made phosphate a limiter I believe.  I turns out that the green water was a type of algae called Volvox, and it is related to velvet. <... Volvox? Did you look at this under a microscope? Volvox is usually found as colonies large enough to be seen with the naked eye>   If a medicine will kill velvet, then it will kill Volvox too. Thanks for your time, and all of the awesome help that you guys have given me so far, especially Anthony, WetWebMedia.com is one of the best sites that there is, and My Favorite, Keep up the good work, -Brandon- <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Ole Green River, it keeps on turning' I have a small 30 gallon aquarium, fancy though and it has always been a sore spot for green pea soup water,  I clean it regularly, change 20 % of the water and add proper chemicals, but the algae keeps coming and can never see the fish.  I have tried everything, no light, some light, live bacteria, and everything to stop it, but nothing works.  Now I am told to purchase ultraviolet light purifier at $160 would do the trick??? not sure, can you advise me. I live in Florida, Miami and normally everything is tropical and green here, but not supposed to be in a aquarium. Thanks, Mary Robinson <There are a few general conditions that allow for such "green water"... excess nutrients, light... a lack of competitors, algae-eating predators... Perhaps your tapwater, improper filtration, feeding... We have a few articles on the topic. Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the linked FAQs file beyond. I encourage you to study, seek the root cause/s of your algae problem and solve them... not waste your money, time on a UV sterilizer. Bob Fenner>

Algae of A Different Color! I have a friend with a freshwater tank that he has cichlids in and he's getting the yellow circular spots on his rocks but only on the tops.  It's not puffy or powdery.   Any idea what this might be? <Well, if it's circular spots, it sounds a lot like "golden" diatoms to me ("gold/"yellow"- close enough! LOL). These types of algae are frequently found in systems which have an excess of silicate in the water. Many tap water supplies contain large amounts of silicate, which help diatoms grow like crazy! The good news is that they are only a problem as long as there is a steady supply of silicate, in most cases. Best solution is to utilize a purified water source for make up water such as the water provided by a reverse osmosis or Deionization system. A modest investment in one of these systems can greatly improve water quality and help limit the nutrients which cause these undesirable algae to appear and thrive. Check the algae control FAQs on the wetwebmedia.com site for more information on this topic. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Controlling Algae with Silver I have heard that if you take a ring of coiled silver and put it in an area of high water flow in a fresh tank, it impedes/inhibits the growth of algae. Have any of you heard this? <I have not.> Does it work? <I guess it could, but who would want to try. The basic premise would be to bring silver concentrations high enough to kill algae, but hopefully not adversely affect your fish. This is not a method I would choose to employ. Nutrient control is effective and far safer.> I guess the theory stems from people in the service who put rings of this silver into their canteens to keep the water clean. Any relevance or truth to this? <I have no idea.> I have seen a tank where it is incorporated, and it was all very clean, but there were not a lot of fish, and not a lot of light. The owner said he had not cleaned the glass in over 6 months, and there was not a spot of any algae on the glass or the ornaments. He also had a small portion of a Pothos ivy in the tank. It looked great, but this is a plant to keep in a pot of dirt, not underwater. Furthermore, if this silver ring thing works, why would the ivy stay alive underwater? <I don't know.> I am curious and skeptical about the whole thing, but willing to keep an open mind and try anything once to see if it works. <I would not be willing to try this.> Please offer me any advise and thoughts on this! <There are other alternatives to keep a clean and healthy tank.> Keep up the great site and up to date info! I love it! -D <We do our best. -Steven Pro>

Red Algae (actually, BGA... FW) I have a 30" freshwater tropical tank with a couple of angel fish, 1 Plec, 1 red tail black shark and 1 upside down cat. I have for a long time had a problem with a red growth on the glass and on the ornaments. The growth is not hairy or long/flowing like normal algae. It is not thick but just continues to develop spreading outwards on the surfaces. It is difficult to remove requiring a bit of force to do so. Any ideas what it may be? Thanks, Keith <Well, Keith-it's hard to be 100% certain from here, but it sounds like some kind of diatom growth (yes, diatoms can be red in color). I'd look into your source water, and test it for nitrates, phosphates, silicates. Execute regular water changes, and take care in feeding. Do not leave excess food in the tank. Also-what is your lighting like? You may need to make adjustments, either increasing or decreasing light as needed. Just some thoughts...Do a bit more research on the wetwebmedia.com site under freshwater, and see if anything discussed seems similar to what you're experience. Hope this helps. Scott F.>

Re: Algae problems Hello gentlemen, Thank you for the reply but have to admit, I still am not sure what I am supposed to do about my Algae problem.  I read the whole article you referred me to but it all seemed to refer to salt water not freshwater plant tank. <our apologies... most algae queries are marine. Still... the root cause is the same: nutrient issues. The solution is also the same... controlling and exporting nutrients. Careful feeding, larger water changes, more frequent use of carbon, etc. Natural predators are available too depending on compatibility of tankmates: Otocinclus, flaying foxes, Sailfin Plecos (Gibbiceps), etc> I have a 90 gallon tank w/ 4 bulb 96 watt compact florescent lights on about 10 hr. on timer, <no worries about the lights... algae needs nutrients more than bright light. Nuisance algae really is all about nutrient control> canister filter, ammonia-0, nitrite-0, GH-2,KH-5, Iron 1ppl, phosphorous 0 using Phosguard, pH 6.7 controlled with CO2 injection. <you may need to back off the CO2 for a bit... it does fertilize algae just like plants> Live plants  thriving and doing well. Water changes done with RO water. Have 8 fish, 3 Otocinclus and 3 Farlowella, 2 cardinal tetras.  I do not....repeat DO NOT feed the fish they live solely on the algae in the tank <excellent to hear> and have been in there about 1 month now and growing in size. Not to mention they're cute. <agreed... and although you could use more Otos... there may be more than even they can handle. Do consider reducing the CO2 a bit> I have another algae looks like long green threads coming from the ends of my plant leaves.   <appropriately named "thread algae"... very sinewy and not touched by most algae grazers except the big mean ones (Gibbiceps Plecos)> The Otto's and Farlowellas wont touch the stuff any ideas? <thread algae usually needs to be manually cropped for the Otos to keep it down from low> Gage seems to think it is BGA. After reading every article you have on the stuff I might agree but like I said everything is written about saltwater. Any and all ideas would be greatly appreciated.   I also asked about the continual rising pH in my tank.  Whenever I shut off the CO2 injection my pH goes from 6.7 to 7.6 in 24 hours and that is not good.   <agreed... too severe. I would never recommend co2 without a pH controller to dose it. Quite dangerous otherwise> My GH is 2 and KH-5, I always thought pH dropped with an aging system not the other way around.   <you are correct... it does drop... but CO2 imparts carbonic acid in to the tank which can be off-gassed. This happens when you shut the CO2 off and pH rises (no more acid from CO2 and temp alkalinity is increased through aeration)> I use only RO water to do water changes 20% every two weeks with no additives.   <a little dangerous if the RO water is completely unbuffered... this leads to wild pH swings and possible crashes. You do need a little buffer/hardness for stability> I would think it should be dropping like a bad habit but nope. I am using an iron supplement for my plants and it seems to be working well but I do notice a pH shift when I use it. I am using Aquarium Landscapes formula F at the dosage on the bottle....10 ml per 50 gallons, I use 15 ml.  When I add it I watch the pH dip about . 25 is this normal?   <seems to be a bit much... but it could be due to the softness of the water> it does slowly come back up in about 2 hours. Should I be worried about the shift when I dose.   <more than .2 is a bad habit> I use their test kit to keep iron at 1 ppl.  Sorry for being so long I don't know what I would do without you guys. Thank you for everything!! Philip <our pleasure... best regards, Anthony>

Green Water My 33 gallon fresh water tank is having serious algae problems. The algae seems to be "in" the water as it isn't growing on any of the ornaments but it is "floating" in the water and the water gets extremely cloudy. My local fish store has recommended "Clear Particulate Water Cleaner". This treatment works well but the algae comes back in only two or three days and in a week I can't even see the fish. I am being very careful not to over feed the fish. I have been doing 15% water changes once a week using a siphon device so I clean the substrate at the same time. The temperature of the tank is set at 78 degrees. I have the light on in the tank only 6 hours per day. If you have any advice for me I'd really appreciate it. The last couple months have been very frustrating because of this problem. Thank you in advance, James  <Please see here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontags.htm to begin and follow on through the linked FAQ file. -Steven Pro>

Re: the not so doomed Corydoras Hi Gage! (again!) One last email, I promise! <keep them coming, this is much more fun than work.> I have some more questions . . . really sorry . . . The ammonia and nitrites in my quarantine tank is 0, because it accidentally evolved from a quarantine tank to a mini permanent aquarium, and the filter is well seeded. You said nitrates should be 0?  <OOPS, did I say that? What I meant was Ammonia and Nitrites should be 0, and Nitrates should be low, around 5ppm, but the lower the better. Nitrates can be reduced through water changes, or live plants.> Please tell me how to accomplish this, as only one of my tanks has a nitrate level of 0 (and I thought it was impossible to have a nitrite level of 0) This tank is what all my questions are about! Its a Eclipse system 6, (a six g tank with built in light and filters), that I modified to take a 13 watt CF 5000K bulb. This has been my mini planted tank, which is why the nitrate levels are 0, I think. Anyway, a weird, clear green algae, like blue green algae, has completely taken over it. The driftwood is gunked up, the bright green and healthy Cabomba is "webbed" with this alien goo, and the Hygrophila looks like a blob. My Otos cant eat this stuff. I suspect it might have occurred because the temps were high before I installed a fan (85, down to 80 after the fan) What is this goo? It smells like blue green algae <how's it taste? just kidding, please don't taste it.> (swampy smell), but is clear green. I had an outbreak of BGA before in this tank, and I used the internet-suggested remedy of erythromycin; 200 mg per 10 gallon, since BGA is part-bacteria(?). It worked like magic, but I don't know what will battle this junk. Heellllppp! Thanks, and Aloha. <Both Algae and Cyanobacteria are fueled by nutrients. The trick is to find where the excess nutrients are coming from and remove them. There is a lot of information written on our site regarding nuisance algae, please check out the links below, Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm >

question :) (freshwater system with green water) Hi, I have a 75 gallon aquarium with a live fresh water setup and its been running for about 4 months now and for the past week or two the water has turned green. <You have a nutrient and/or a lighting problem.> I've tried everything 20 and a 50% water changes. I tried not feeding for a few days, not turning on the light. I put new filter media in. I've tried this phosphate pad that I put in with my filter media. It's not sunlight because its in my basement. I have a power head on there too, nothing seems to work. I've asked everyone I know and all the employees at my local pet stores but no one knows and I don't want to spend the money on a UV sterilizer because I don't think I need to. <I agree. No need to spend the money on the UV.> If there is any thing you can think of or you need more info on the tank setup email me back. Please, I'm desperate. It looks disgusting. <Algae, which is what the green water is, needs light and nutrients. If you take those away, the green water will disappear. I would do another 50% water change and then leave the lights off for one week. The green water should be clear by then. If not write back and we can trouble shoot some more.> Thanks, Chris <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: aquarium Hi Jason Sorry about so little info. But my tank is a fresh water aquarium. I have had it going for about 3 years. And I'm still not much help I have 2 glass looking fish maybe tetras, I'm not sure what they are called 1 crawfish, and 1 big red belly ? (fish). I'm going to the pet store today to get more info. But I would still like to here from you if you can help. Thanks Michelle <<Well Michelle, that's a little more helpful. Please tell me a little more about the algae - what does it look like? Does it cover the glass panels? Does it have leaves? What have you been doing to try and get rid of it? How often do you change the water? Is the tank sitting somewhere where sunlight will hit it? AS you can tell from my questions, there are at least 101 reasons for algae to come along and become a problem... Without more details, my answers are just a crap shoot. Here is a link to an article on WetWebMedia that I think will be helpful: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm Cheers, J -- >>

Both Spawning and Algae Problems I have a 20 gallon freshwater tank with a pair of jewel cichlids. All has been fine, but recently I went into the hospital for a month and then things started going wrong. Up until then, the pair had been laying eggs every 2 weeks. Now they haven't in quite some time. I have been doing all the scheduled maintenance on the tank and nothing will spur them on. They also seem to have become very very shy. They no longer avidly swim about the tank. What could be causing this? I change the water the same as I always have and nothing seems to be making a difference. Also I have an abundance of algae growing in the tank now that was never there before. I have live plants but they are being smothered now. I am seriously at a loss here. Anything will help please! Thanks! <Quite likely some seasonal variation in your tapwater is causing both of your problems. It is very common for tapwater to get worse in the summer months; increases in nitrate and phosphate caused by more runoff and then the utility company adds more stuff to combat the nutrients. Increasing the frequency and/or amount of you water changes may help along with use of activated carbon. -Steven Pro>

Re: Thread/Hair Algae Thanks for the fast response. I currently have 5 Otos who seem to eat all algae except the thread! Perhaps they don't know they're supposed to eat it! Thanks again! <indeed the problem must be that they haven't read the same books I have...heehee. At the risk of some fin nipping/aggression you might try some small flying/Siamese foxes. Also excellent algae grazers. If thread algae is very long/tough... manually crop to let grazers control soft new growth. Best regards, Anthony>

Freshwater Algae Difficulties Hi Bob Fenner, I have a 29 gallon hard alkaline cichlid tank with a brown slime "algae" I think, growing throughout it. I was wondering what it is and how if possible to alleviate it. <You can find a lot of information about controlling algae in freshwater tanks here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm -Steven Pro>

Green Stuff I am a "new" aquarium owner. We bought a house in August 2001 and it has an aquarium, 75-80 gals, built in. I thought I finally had it running good and now there is a thin film of green with a green splash occasionally, growing on the glass. This is very hard and can't be rubbed of with one of those scrubbies on a stick that the pet shop sells. I can scrape it off with a razor blade scraper. <try Otocinclus catfish... about 4-6 and 2-3 weeks should do the trick. They are amazing> It has 2 filters, those big black things with the long tube that hang on the side. there is also a little thing that just blows air into the tank. There are 4 Gouramis, 7 neon tetras, 2 orange mollies, and 2 beta sharks. I'm sure my spelling is wrong, but hopefully you will know the general family the fish are in. Any ideas? I'm about to give up on this whole aquarium thing. <wow... hardly a reason to give up at all. Green algae is fairly natural. You just need more natural scavengers. If the Otocinclus do not work, a single gibbiceps Sailfin Plecostomus or rhino Plecostomus will do wonders. They do get large in time however and will need to be traded for smaller ones or kept with large fish eventually. The Otocinclus instead stay small> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Shari Allen <best regards, Anthony>

BGA Secrets Revealed - how one reader did it... OK Bob, the way I did it was as follows. <<Not Bob, but JasonC filling in for Bob while he is away diving.>> 1.Remove all plants and decor to another container. 2.I then added campden (sodium metabisulphate) tablets at the rate of 1 Tab per gallon. 3.No lights, Do not disturb. 4.After 3 days all plants and decor were rinsed thoroughly to remove dead BGA. 5.Syphon off as much mulm and algae as you can see from aquarium. 6.Replant the aquarium and wait with baited breath for the next two weeks. <<so would you say this is strictly for planted tanks?>> The plants do not seem to have been affected at all, and there are no signs of regrowth.
<<good enough. Thanks for the info, will post in tomorrow's dailies. Cheers, J -- >>
More on BGA Secrets Revealed...
It could be done with any decor, You must remember this was done in another container not in the aquarium. I would think that the Sodium Metabisulphate would kill all your livestock if you did this in the aquarium. <<Ahh ok, so you treated the decor in a separate container and removed the BGA from that... but BGA is bacterial, meaning that it is possible to leave it behind in the tank. What's to stop this from coming back in the main tank - given a little time of course... Thanks for the clarification. Cheers, J -- >>

Water conditioner, anti-algae magic water I am looking for an additive that will keep algae from developing in livestock water tanks. Please advise. Tom Miller <There is no such thing. Algae are an amazingly large, adaptable group of species, phyla. They can/will live in, populate any suitable environment that will sustain "higher" forms of life. There are many countervailing strategies people can/should employ to control nuisance levels of algae. Please read through here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the links beyond. Bob Fenner>

Blue Marron, Brown Algae and dying Guppies Hi Robert, <<Greetings Mark, JasonC here.>> Firstly I will go through what I have and my experience, that may help to answer my questions. I have about 8 months experience with a 3' 126 litre home made tank in which I have 5 Barramundi, 1 Eel Tail Catfish and 1 Bumble Bee Catfish. This tank has an undergravel filter and an Aquaclear 200 filter and is decorated with mangrove root, rocks and various plants. I have found this tank a pleasure to observe and maintain. Luckily there has been no casualties and all 7 fish have grown considerably, so much so I am thinking of building a 4 1/2 foot tank with some glass I have, to accommodate there size. <<good idea.>> Because of the Barra's ferocious appetite and the cost of their food I have built another 3" 126 litre tank which I have 3 Hockey Stick Tetra's, 5 Cardinal Tetra's, 2 Male Guppies and 3 Female Guppies and about 25 Baby Guppies. The Tetra's are in the tank for a bit of colour while the Guppies are being bread as feeder fish to supplement the Barra feeding. This tank also has an undergravel filter and an Aquaclear 200 filter and is decorated with rocks and a variety of plants, some to make it easier for the baby Guppies to hide. This tank is only 2 months old and has been a little challenging as I have had a few problems with Guppies dying and a brown algae that seems to be growing on everything, including the upward facing leaves of the bigger foliage plants. I am constantly cleaning this algae from the rocks, upward facing leaves and the glass sides. Then vacuuming as much as I can before it settles. I feed these fish flakes and for the babies Liquid Small Fry. Firstly can you help with the brown algae and how do I control/eradicate it? <<You should avail yourself to the materials on WWM, of interest to you would be these two algae-control articles, one on fresh water and one on planted tanks: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwalgaecontrol.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algcontagb.htm >> Secondly, I don't understand why the Guppies are dying. They seem to swell in the stomach and after death bust open through the anus. <<According to Bob, this is unfortunately this is indicative of a bacterial condition [Chondrococcus or columnaris disease] which can only be cured with the use of Neomycin sulfate. You could also use the Tetra medicated flakes, but you should probably evaluate the cost/benefit of this exercise. I would certainly stop adding new fish to this tank until you have this under control.>> Thirdly, I have inherited a Blue Marron and am keeping it in the breeder tank and was wondering if this is ok with consideration to: How do I feed it with the correct diet? If kept feed properly will it still be a threat to the other fish? Is the neutral PH of the community tank ok? <<read up on these guys: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/shrimpfw.htm >> If there is to much in this email the main thing I am concerned about is the Blue Marron issue, followed by the brown algae then the dying Guppies. Any help would be greatly appreciated as at the moment I am running totally blind. <<Definitely go through the WWM site, there is much information there to help you.>> Thank you Mark <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Green Water Across the Pond (UK) Hi Bob, <Cheers, good sir. Anthony Calfo in Bob's stead. at your service> Please bear with me as I am a bit "greenE myself. <the newness of the hobby.. a beautiful thing: discovery> I have 2 x 120 litre tanks which I purchased because as a single father I wanted a hobby I could pursue indoors. <a great hobby for all the right reasons, for sure> I love the tanks and the fish in them but every time I change the treated water it starts to green up within a couple of hours - I am a novice but I don't have the greatest confidence in the Juwel 400 litre or minute power head and the filter system itself. Are my concerns well founded and if so what do you suggest I do about it, I do have a very limited budget. <John, should be no trouble at all. Please correct me if I'm mistaken. I suspect when you say "green water" that you literally mean that the water in a glass has a green tint...and not just that a green film grows on the interior surfaces of the aquarium. If so, you have a simple, albeit annoying, unicellular algae bloom. The water exchanges are excellent for general aquatic husbandry but in this case bring fresh mineral nutrients into the system to feed the bloom evermore. Please don't stop the water changes... they are necessary. We simply need to find a water clarifying product like pondkeepers use outdoors to control algae. Visit your local pond center/pet store and find a purple/rose colored product that has potassium permanganate in it. Be very sure to not exceed the recommended dose... sparing is fine. Also, be sure to add it during peak hours of illumination as there is a very slight chance of oxygen deprivation to the fish if you added it with the lights out over the aquarium (long story). Please write back if this works well for you (or not<smile>). I suspect you will have your cure for a small fee. After the product clots the algae, do a small water change to remove the sediment (clotted algae) and don't look back. With kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

Clarifying Greenwater  Hi again, <Hi, John. Anthony again> I used the powder as you suggested, it was a few hours ago now -  how long am I giving it to work - there has been some improvement definitely but I don't want to do my small water change if it has not fully done the business <indeed. the efficacy varies...4-6 hours would be fast, 12-16 hours would be typical... if not crystal clear by 24hours perhaps more is needed. Heed any warning on the product label about dosing frequency and know that if the fish looked stressed at any point, a prompt water change and good aeration will likely mend it> I took the carbon out of the filter is this correct. Thanks again for the tip which is a vast improvement on the many solutions I have used in the past. <excellent, yes. The carbon must be removed while the coagulant is in effect. After you have reached crystal clarity and done a water change, be sure to put the carbon back in> John Nightingale <best of luck to you, sir. And just curiously... are you anywhere near Shirley Aquatics? I just contacted them about distributing my coral reef book. Cheers, Anthony Calfo>   

Greenwater Gone...but what do I see? Me again Anthony, <Cheers from across the pond, my UK friend. Anthony> The water is very clear inside the tank now but clear enough for me to see a thick green film inside the tank. I don't know if this is a symptom of or a cause of the green water but either way it won't come off - is there a magic potion I can but? <no and no, sir...in that order...hehehe. I'm very glad the suspended algae is gone. What you see now is normal and natural microalgae (unrelated). The fact that it is not brown or black colored is a relative sign of good health. Consult your local fish store for a compatible "algae eater" for your community of fishes. A peaceful choice would be an "Otocinclus cat" and a more feisty choice would be a "flying fox". Avoid the common plecostomus and all Corydoras for this purpose. No worries at all...a natural symptom of no consequence other than aesthetics. Anthony> Many thanks, John from England

freshwater algae question.. Bob, I set up an eclipse 12 gallon tank for a friend of mine recently. About 2 - 3 weeks after I set up the tank, a growth of florescent green algae is growing in the water. It's an algae I've only seen once before in another friends tank which was also an eclipse. The algae is not growing on the sides of the tank, but all of the water is a bright green. It turns into a hair looking algae that floats in the water. I'm not sure what the problem could be. Any suggestions? Thanks, Maxine <Mmm, a consideration of im/balance... more light, nutrients, space available, lack of competitors, predators... one system's make up, chemically, physically, biologically than the other. Please read here re the issue of algae, control: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm Even though you mention what this is a freshwater system, the principals of management are similar. Read through the links on the citation for much more... and develop a plan of "re-centering" this system... perhaps adding aeration, other filtration, types of life... Bob Fenner>

Question on your site... FW encrusting Algae I was reading your site, and I would love to get some coralline going in my tank. My main concern is that my tank is a freshwater tank, but I gather that I can have some form of a coralline in it. Is this correct? <Mmm, not appreciable... that is, there are encrusting algae, including real Reds (Division Rhodophyta) and others that look reddish... but they're not dominant organisms in aquarium conditions, or in the wild for that matter> Secondly, I started putting in some wafers for an algae eater to clean up the white film (very slight and a new tank) and this nice looking sea foam green algae has appeared on some very porous rock of mine, and I am wondering if it is some calciferous algae that is starting. <Maybe... you could scrape a bit, look under a microscope... perhaps dry some out, test it with an acid...> Could you put me in the right direction on this since this is my first tank? However I know I am doing something right since my angels are breeding and I am not trying to... Thanks Joe Szweda, Orlando, FL: <The right direction? You're on one... a trip to a larger library, your search engines? Perhaps a glimpse: http://wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm Bob Fenner>

Algae eaters (freshwater, planted tank) Dear Robert, I was wondering if you knew about any fishes that ate algae but did not eat/nip/damage the aquarium plants because I am trying to keep a 'planted aquarium'. <Hmm, this list is very long... depending on size of your system, other livestock, water conditions... Do look into the SAE's, Otocinclus... please read over the following files on our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/saesagb.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/otosagb.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/loricariids.htm> I already tried the Ancistrus temminckii but it damages the plants as well. This is the same for the livebearing toothed carp. I have moved them into my other tank and now need a 'algae eater' that only eats - algae. Please help out Keith :) <Read the above my friend, and we'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Algae  For the past few months, I have been having algae grow rather quickly in my tank and am wondering if you could shed some insight on this for me please.  <I will try> I have a fresh water tank - 20 gals. - with just some Neons, a snail and an algae eater in it. I have been keeping the light on the tank 24/7, which I have been told I shouldn't do. And another thing I am wondering about is what kind of water should be used.  <Yes to not leaving the lighting on continuously. Do establish a regular ten or twelve or so hour daylight photoperiod... best with a timer> I've been told to use only RO water and also told that I could use half tap water and half bottled drinking water.  <Your tap may be fine... somewhere about neutral pH, not too hard is fine. Please see the "Freshwater Index" part of our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for an introduction to water quality and treatment here> If you have a minute, would appreciate some help from you...  <Much more for us to discuss, you to discover, enjoy. Bob Fenner> Thanks so much!  Paulette

Red Algae infestation (FW) Dear Bob, This "red algae" stuff is terrible. I don't have a fancy setup, just a 20-gallon octagonal, with about 12 tetras, a clown loach, red tail shark and a regular algae eater. We introduced our first "live" plant into the tank about 6 months ago and now we have this "hairy green/black" stuff growing on anything that doesn't move. We try to change about 40-50% of the water out and scrub off everything (rocks and filter tubes) about every 2 weeks. We replaced all the plastic plants today and trashed the live one 3 months ago. The stuff is still growing. Our filtration is an under gravel setup and we added a Penguin 125 external filter last year. The tank has been set up for about 10 years and pretty stable. We went down to our local pet store and they said there wasn't really anything we could do, but suggested we check the Internet. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Dick Elmore Midlothian, VA <Glad to make your acquaintance... and there is much you can do to combat, turn the tide on this (despite the color) Blue Green Algae (BGA), aka Cyanobacteria (as it really isn't a true algae at all...). Please read over (even though this is a freshwater system, the same biological, technological principles apply) the Marine Index' "Blue Green Algae/Cyanobacteria" and "Algae Control" sections, the Planted Aquarium Index "Algae Control" section and FAQs... posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com site You want to develop a multiple discipline approach here to reduce, eliminate the BGA... making nutrients limited (through maintenance, chemical filtrant use), using competing life forms (faster growing, likely floating live plants)... possibly altering your water chemistry (the BGA modify it themselves to exclude other life...), if you are so interested adding a carbon dioxide infuser... Take a look at the WWM site for more and the rationale for all. Bob Fenner>

Planted Aquariums with real Plants actually, I have some "real" aquatics in the mix already. Just FYI, the caladium, ivy, and Pothos have all been completely submerged for months. Have a good one. <Ahh, figured as much... from your writing content, format... ever think of writing up your experiences, sending them in to the hobby mag.s? Bob Fenner>

Hairy Algae and brown algae Hi Robert, <Howdy Richard> I've got two freshwater aquarium. One is a 37 gallons 30") and the other is a 38 gallons (36"). They have both about 3" of fluorite. Fish are about the same in both tanks 2 Discus (3"), 1 flying fox, 1 and 2 clown loaches, 8 Cardinal and 3 German Blue Ram. The filter are a Eheim Professionel II (model 2028) in the 37 gallons and the 38 gallons is a wet dry with a Hagen 802 for return. They also have both live plants and pieces of driftwood. Lights are on 12 hours and the 37 gallons as Power Compact Coralife 10,000k (55 Watts) and two Triton 24" (40 Watts) = (95 Watts) the 38 gallons as 4 Triton (30 Watts) = (120 Watts). The water parameters are KH=1, GH=3, Ph=6.0 and 6.4, Nitrate below 5ppm Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Phosphate 0, Temperature is 82. In the 37 gallons I have a bad hairy algae problem and in the 38 gallons I have brown algae and the plants are not growing in either tanks very good. My water changes is about 25% twice a week. R/O water with ElectroRight added as a ratio of 1/2 tsp for 9.5 litres. Was adding Flourish at about 1ml twice a week but got suggested to stop for a while. Would appreciate your comment on what could be wrong with my tanks. <Hmm, do sound like nice set-ups... good gear choices... the GH and KH are too low in my judgment (can be raised in a few ways... likely just blending in some aged tapwater...), your water temperature is a bit high... even if you're keeping Discus, some of the plants may not prefer such a high temp... And you don't mention using carbon dioxide... do you have time to read through the archives of "the Krib"? Please look on the website: www.WetWebMedia.com for their URL... and other links to "planted aquarium" sites... You'll soon be cursing my name (not for the lack of algae certainly), for the trimming back of excess plantings you'll find necessary weekly. Bob Fenner>

Algae Control I just read your webpage about controlling algae growth with live plants. It's a great idea, and I would love to use it, but I have a snail. A snail that eats green plants. <Not all... try some Hornwort (aka Coontail in the pond interest), Ceratophyllum demersum.... not palatable to most animals.> What other method would you suggest? I have one 3 year old fan-tailed goldfish and an apple snail in a medium sized bowl and the algae growth has been overwhelming since I got my snail. I would appreciate any suggestions that you have! -Annie Olson <Look for the Hornwort, foxtail/Myriophyllum, Elodea/Egeria... or get/use any sort of floating plant, growing some in large jars for back-up, and let your snail eat its fill. Bob Fenner>

greenish water Hi. I had my tank (15l) with all its bits and pieces set up in it as a birthday present in Dec.  <Had to look twice... a very nice gift, but almost thought you had stated you were 151 years of age! Happy birthday!> So I put water in it, put it where I wanted it and set everything working in it. Put in the bacterial culture I was given (Stress Zyme , I think) read somewhere to put in a small sprinkle of food. And left it. I had been told the water would go cloudy etc etc. So it sort of did that - but not very dramatically.  <Sometimes, especially with folks who are careful, large systems, you barely notice...> Anyhow I noticed that the water sort of had what I would call suspended particles in it, they didn't seem green at first and I thought it might just be that I should have washed the gravel even more thoroughly than I had. Now they are definitely green. I put 8 neon tetras in on Jan 9. They seem really happy. <Is this a fifteen liter tank? Fifteen gallon?> I also got two lumps of very dark dense wood that I was told is some root from a tree that lives in rivers. I left the wood in a bucket for a week changing the water every day, before I put it in the tank.  <Good idea> All was fine. Then a lump of a food tablet fell to the bottom of the tank and I couldn't retrieve it without it disintegrating so I just removed what I could. The next day there was quite a lot of this grungy looking green stuff - looked a bit like jelly really - in that corner - but the piece of wood nearest to that corner was covered in it. The other piece was totally clean. So I whipped out that piece and scrubbed it clean, cleaned the filter sponge and plastic plants, and changed about 20% of the water. I also added some AccuClear from Dr Wellfish. It is definitely less green and now there is no grunge except in the grooves in that same bit of wood. But I can still see the particulate stuff. I checked it out under our microscopes at work but apart from the ciliated protozoa or whatever they are the rest just seem like green tinged clumps of little bacteria - so I think they are living as opposed to being dust from gravel. It ain't being got by my filter (Aqua Systems 450 Microjet) that's for sure. I put an extra finer - pored sponge to see if that makes a difference. <Hmm, yes...> Its not terribly bothersome but I am wondering f I should take that bit of wood out again and let it leach some more - it hasn't got worse and the tetras nibble away at it happily. What do you advise? <More and possibly better filtration, aeration and circulation. Please see the sections of these terms on the website: www.wetwebmedia.com under the Freshwater Index for much more> Also my pH has sat steadily at 7.63-7.66 (Technical pH meter) are other fish going to be OK with that? My tap water is 7.95 - 7.98! We wanted a pair of Dwarf Gouramis. <The gouramis would likely be fine with this high pH... the Neons and other small South American tetras not so much... with time the pH will drift down (due to reductive events in the tank)...> I will be very grateful for your advice. Many thanks Sue Coward <And I glad to render it... Would add increased filtration, water agitation as I mention above... and do look into at least some tropical live plant material to help you in keeping the water quality high and stable... Don't rely on chemical treatments. In a few months you'll be amazed at how much you know about the hobby... Bob Fenner>

Power compact lighting/brown alga Hi Bob, I recently placed a CSL Britelight 10000k PC over my 29 gallon freshwater tank, the only thing I've noticed is lots of algae. I have green algae growing on glass and plants and lots of brown algae over everything, I cleaned it up about 3 days ago and its back with a vengeance. My fish are: Danios, Serpae tetras, punctatus Corydoras, Opaline Gouramis, neon tetras, 2 Otocinclus, and a missing Plecos. I have about 5 plants in this tank, two are Amazon swords and two are onion like with long blade like leaves. Any suggestions for fixing this problem? Also, should I just go back to my old light fixture? thanks, Dave <Hmm, this is likely a situation of too much too soon high intensity light and a dearth of photosynthetic organisms (your plants) to utilize the same in competition with the noisome algae... If it were me I would have (and now would) "phase in" the new light/ing with a trick of wrapping a good part of the lamp(s) with strips of aluminum foil... about half of it for about half the luminosity... And I would place my favorite floating (though it can be anchored) rapidly growing aquarium plant, Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) to use up the light, nutrients, and produce allelopathogenic (don't try to say this word ten times fast) materials to interfere with the algal proliferation... Try both these and you'll soon have a beautiful planted aquarium. Bob Fenner>

Algae Eaters, Snails, Octopi dear Mr. Fenner,                                thanks for writing again. you don't know how nice it is to know someone whoknows a lot about fish. well, then again, maybe you do. thanks for theadvice on the filters. it was really helpful. by the way, which do youthink works better for cleaning algae? <Fish algae eaters are better in almost all types of settings... but beware of the "Chinese" Algae Eater, it can become quite a mean customer. Please read over the South/Central American Catfish, and Otocinclus articles on the WWM site:  Home Page for more> the snail, or the freshwater algaeeater? I don't know because I' v never dealt with algae eaters. but the snail that I do have is really slow. the 16th of this month, I'll be ayear older (12). I'm in 6th grade, and the only subject that I like, is science. <Hmm, do study, develop an eager desire to know all subjects... you will find this enlivening and of great benefit as you grow older, believe me> you know those pesky little snails you get with your plants when you don't wash the plants in saltwater? I have hundreds of them. my fish love to eat them. well I had better be going.     write back.       <Do look into the Loach family (Cobitidae) if you want to rid your system of these snails...>                           from, Joy s. Adams                                                                                   P.S.  have you ever encountered octopuses? <Yes, have met up with these intelligent mollusks underwater on several occasions underwater. They're secretive though, so you have to look for them, keep your eyes open. Bob Fenner>

Algae Hi While we were on vacation we left the lights on for the live plants. When we came back we have a green/algae growth on the glass mainly directly under the lights. This stuff resists Algae chemicals and it also seems to be attached to glass very well, since scraping with the common algae cleaning tools removes very little. Tank: Fresh water 90 gal. with 2 20watt lights. How do I get rid of this stuff? Thanks, Loren >> The best way is by biological means (safest, most long-lasting, simplest)... For such a big tank, I'd look into some of the members of the South American Suckermouth catfish family (Loricariidae)... that don't get too big. Maybe some Bushy nosed "plecostomus" (Ancistrus, Hemiancistrus), or Loricarias, Farlowellas (genera called Whiptail or Twig catfishes)... or some of the gorgeous Peckoltia... If you have big, bruiser types for fishes now, look instead into Pterygoplichthys, Hypostomus, or the beautiful Panaques... Want to see pix, know more particulars about the fishes in these genera? Key them in at the website: www.fishbase.com under Search Fishbase. Bob Fenner 

Hi Bob, I have been having a problem with my little ten gallon tank, and I've called pet stores, asking what I should do but they were no help! Then I decided to check the ole internet and I found you) so I hope you can give me some insight on my problem, I've had a 10 gal. aquarium without a pump for over a year with only goldfish, I changed the water and washed the rocks every 2-3wks or when the water evaporated or was too cloudy. Never had a problem, then I bought a new 10gal. setup with the hood, light and pump, and undergravel filter thing and all of the sudden all over my white seashells and rainbow rocks is this brown slime yuck!! I siphoned out most of the water washed the rocks and shells, changed the filter and put in new water, but lo and behold 3 days later the brown slime returned. You can actually see a blanket of it on top of the rocks. I am using Ammo-Carb with the filter fiber inside the underground bubble up filter system, what can I do or put in there to wash this slime away!! I only have 2 goldfish in the tank they seem to be fine but I'm worried they may not be for long if I keep changing the water so much, or if I don't clear this up soon. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. thanks >> Thank you so much for writing. I do have a simple, effective and safe means to your ends of having a healthy and clean ten gallon goldfish system: Some live plants! With the addition of your lighting and filtration (and growth of those ever-eager eaters) you've provided great conditions for growing noisome algae... and can just as easily dispense with the latter by placing a few sprigs of sturdy type goldfish-friendly plants. My first choice is a bunch or two of Anacharis... May be sold in your area as Elodea. Second would be Myriophyllum, aka Water milfoil or other names, third is Hornwort, Ceratophyllum demersum. Anyhow, print off this e mail and take it to your LFS (real fish store) and ask for a bunch or so of one of these three. Bring it home, take off the rubber band (and lead weight if they come with it) and just let this stuff float in your tank. The goldfish might eat a little or a lot (esp. of the first one), but who cares? The plants will help use up light, nutrients, and even add to your tanks beauty! Easy, eh? One last semi-note, I really would have chosen Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) as my first choice, but so few stores carry it any more. If you find same, it can be planted, but it also grows fine just free floating. Bob Fenner

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