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FAQs on Freshwater Algae & Their Control 2

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 1, 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

How to remove the Maconkey Agar in aquarium, FW algae control?        7/3/19
<... Maconkey Agar... the bacterial culture medium?>
How to remove the Maconkey Agar in aquarium that is a pathogen for my goldfish if it appears. Changing water, scrubbing tank just remove it but it will be back when the aquarium has some waste by foods, fish poops.. it makes water cloudy, sticking at the tank and stuck inside the filter but wipe the tank wall by the white napkin could see the pink color on there.
Could smell it through the top of tank, smells sour like the yogurt.
My tap water is softener, has very low Ph. I'm using Seachem Gold Buffer non-phosphate to buff Ph up.
<I would go outside your house... to a tap in the yard to get your aquarium water. It is highly unlikely that all water is being softened>
Changing brand new tank and brand new equipment, using chlorine disinfected and run the Nitrogen cycle again, using inline UV sterilizer and media reactor phosphate removal after the cycled done but it doesn't work.. It keep coming back..
<The algae I take it>
I have 3 goldfish being dropsy when Maconkey Agar appears. Where is that come from ?? ( tap water, fish, or in the house atmosphere..). How could find out what's cause this happen? How to remove/treat or control it for it not coming back and keep aquarium healthy?
<The algae spores can come from the air... or stuck on gear, foods. Best to "treat" by providing conditions that disfavor them, as you state re better water quality. Otherwise having competitors like other fast-growing plants...>
This is a negative -gram, how to treat if doesn't kill the nitrifying bacteria.. ??
It's challenge me, turning my fish keeping life more difficult.
<Let's have you read re freshwater algae control:
And the linked files (in blue) above. Bob Fenner>

BBA Question; planted tank algae control... approaches       7/14/14
Hey Crew,
Have yet another question. And whoever said FW is so much easier than salt is crazy. :) Starting to get a BBA bloom (or what I assume due to research is BBA). In reading, it tends to grow in high light with no fast growing plants. I was told that in creating a planted tank one/two American Flag fish were almost essential.
<Mmm, depends on the type (species, palatability) of algae... other fishes, snails... can be of great use... Platies and many more>
I know that adding more fish to combat an algae should never be a first "go-to" to combat the problem.
<Mmm, perhaps second or third... behind competition and nutrient limitation as a mode, form of attack>
My other concern with these fish would be the compatibility with my neons,
<Mmm, no... Jordanella are too aggressive and "like" very different water (hard, alkaline)>
and possible problems for food with the Oto's.
<Possibly... you are feeding your Otocinclus I take it>
I was thinking of using my upcoming holiday ( 5 nights) to complete a partial blackout. I would still be getting sunlight to the tank from the windows, but not using the tank's lights. What is your best course of
<As usual; to have you read:
and the linked files above>
I have read 800 different things
<Might I ask you to JUST read WWM for now
. You're confusing yourself apparently; by introducing too many and disparate inputs, opinions... sans seeking to understand underlying science, logic>
from wiping the algae off the plant, adding snails/fish, throw the affected plant away, add floating plants, etc... Thanks again!
<Categorically: Nutrient deprivation, competition, predation... Bob Fenner>

Brown algae... FW? using WWM     12/3/16
So i have a problem with brown algae how do i resolve it. Every month
<Regular maintenance s/b done weekly... See WWM Re>
 i change 1/3rd of my aquarium water and my filter is caked in brown algae and on my glass and statues are brown algae also... what do i do?
<Read.... learn... find out what this is: Dinoflagellate/s? Diatoms? Something/s else? Educate yourself re means to control: Eliminate, export nutrient, provide competition, consumers?
Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm
then the linked files at top; where you lead yourself. Write back if/when you need specific input.
Bob Fenner>
Re: algae problems.... FW...    12/8/16

Everything is within normal limits 0 nitrate,
<Zip? Not likely. I'd have your water tested by another kit; and HPO4?
0 nitrite, 7ph, and no ammonia. I'm not sure what you meant with the photos? Each photo is 900k.
Thanks for your help.
<The reading.... BobF>

newly cycled tank, fungus, low NO3     6/12/16
Thank you very much! I'll start with the Ancistrus and get some Amazon Frogbit or water sprite, even though algae has yet to rear its ugly head.
<Glad to help.>
I do have a follow-up question, if I may. There is quite a bit of white fuzz growing on the rotting food and, to a lesser extent, on the bogwood. I presume this is some sort of fungus. Attached is a photograph of it growing on some crab meat; a few Betta pellets and grains of sand are entangled in the fuzz.
<Likely fungus and/or bacteria. Quite predictable where "fresh" wood is used. Not a problem in itself, but will add to the bio-loading the filter has to deal with. So best to remove such wood, allow to rot elsewhere, e.g., in a bucket in the garden for a few months, then use. Or else chuck out and use something pre-cured. Wood from the beach is usually good.>
Strangely, despite six weeks of cycling without a water change, nitrates tested this morning (using an API liquid test kit) at less than 5 ppm. They were at 5 ppm when I first used the liquid kit five days ago and appear to have gone down, despite an average of 50 Betta pellets per day having been dropped into the tank in the meantime. Ammonia and nitrates are zero.
<Agreed; odd. I would certainly give the tank a thorough clean and complete water change. I'd check the filter and rinse the media in tap water of the same temperature as the aquarium. I'd siphon out any/all of this fungus and uneaten food. But then I'd assume the filter had cycled by now, and act accordingly. Zero ammonia and nitrite are what you expect from a mature tank at this stage.>
I'm not sure what is going on, which makes me a bit nervous about putting fish in the tank. It seems unlikely that the plants are consuming all the nitrogenous waste themselves. Could the fungus be consuming the nitrogenous waste and turning it into more white fuzz?
<Possibly, but I don't know. They're saprotrophic, and these organisms usually break down complex organic compounds and release CO2 and ammonia ions in exchange.>
If so, should I be concerned about this?
<See above; I wouldn't be overly concerned provided ammonia and nitrite have been zero for some days, weeks at this point.>
Again, thank you for your help.
<Going forwards, act as if the tank was being cycled with fish. Add one or two small Ancistrus, feed sparingly, and don't feed at all if ammonia or nitrite rise above zero. Cheers, Neale.>


Strange Algae       2/10/16
I have looked through your site trying to locate this type of algae unsuccessfully.
<Try here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/BeardAlgF.htm
Can you please help me in identifying it? Thank you so much for any assistance.
<Slimy? Have a microscope?... Read. Bob Fenner>

Re: Strange Algae       2/10/16
Thank you Bob. I must have blown right past it by trying to find an image.
I appreciate your quick response.
<Mmm; well; I hope this is/was helpful. IS the algae slimy to the touch?
Again, would really like some sampled under a microscope... for salient characteristics. Likely a red, but might be a BGA... Cheers, BobF>
Re: Strange Algae       2/10/16

Yes, it is slimy to the touch. Unfortunately, I do not own a microscope.
<Rats! Well; the exclusion of both types of algae are similar... nutrient deprivation... via water changes, use of chemical filtrants, stocking of vascular plant competitors, careful avoidance of adding N, P, K. BobF>

FW Algae control       2/15/15
I have had to travel extensively for my job for the past 6 months and so my tank maintenance predictably suffered. Now that things have settled down, I have taken a look at my tank’s current state and am trying to figure out how to take it back from the algae that has taken over.
Tank Specs:
72 gallon with 2 HOB filters and 2 LED light strips
10 x Congo Tetra
1 x M. fasciolatum
<Microctenopoma fasciolatum? Nice fish.>
2 x S. nigriventris
4 x Anubias var
1 x C. natans
Water tests normally before my last water change with no ammonia or nitrites and nitrates at <10 ppm.
Prior to beginning my travels I had 3 more M. fasciolatum and 4 more S. nigriventris ☹, so I am hoping to restock once I figure out what is going on and how to fix it. I have attached pictures of the algae that I am seeing that I can't identify.
<Just generic "filamentous algae" of the type that sprouts in moderately well lit tanks without fast-growing plants. No easy fix as such, though some fish, for example Florida Flagfish and Siamese Algae Eaters, graze it down extensively. Unfortunately I can't think of any African fish that feed on the stuff to the degree they'd be useful; while things like Distichodus surely do, they also eat plants as well, and Mbuna would be right out as well!>
One kind is a dark puffball that is everywhere. I don't believe it is Blackboard Algae because I have fought that stuff before and it is not bristly. I am also getting green, stringy algae along the bottom and trailing off of the C. natans leaves. In addition, my Anubias all have green algae on their leaves that can't be effectively rubbed off with my hand.
<Quite so. Anubias are magnets for most types of algae. In the wild they live in places where they are partially shaded, and in aquaria really thrive in settings where there's a surface canopy of plant life, such as floating Indian Fern or even Vallisneria leaves. What they don't like is direct light. Because they grow so slowly, they have little impact on algae in the tank.>
This is the first tank I have had with live plants and I am trying to figure out how to address the algae issue without hurting the plants.
<To some degree, you could choose to ignore it. Algae at this sort of level won't be doing any meaningful harm. But if you find it objectionable, then a mixture of algae-eating animals (for example Nerite snails) combined with the addition of some fast-growing plants could be helpful. If you're aiming for an African set-up, then things like Lagarosiphon (an Elodea-like species that thrives in bright light) and of course floating Indian Fern (Ceratopteris, which despite the common name, is widely distributed across the tropics). Basically, anything that grows quickly, quickly enough to need frequent pruning, will keep algae under control.>
I have tried to introduce some Otocinclus to the tank but they disappeared after a few days (Congos?).
<Possibly, though Otocinclus are problematic at the best of times, being half-starved on import and very unhappy in the warm, oxygen-poor situations they commonly experience in fish tanks.>
I have reduced the feeding to smaller portions 5 times per week and tried to do some water changes and suck up everything I can see but it comes back. Can you suggest some more ways to address my issue? Is there a better option for an algae-eater that will clean the Anubias but not eat my plants?
<Most algae-eaters are fine with Anubias, with the exception of the larger Loricariidae, such as Panaque, which shred their leaves "accidentally" while rasping at the algae.>
Thank you.
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Sudden bright green algae problem       4/3/14
I have a 75 gallon with 6 Congo tetras, 7 emperors, two angels and one Bristlenose Pleco. I put a hornwort plant in there 2 weeks ago, a couple of days later there was a bright green algae outbreak on the bottom of the tank and now the water is cloudy green.
<Mmm; no fun... the Hornwort/Ceratophyllum addition may be unrelated... and unfortunately the color of this/these pests may be indicative of blue-green (Cyanobacteria), rather than green (Chlorophyte) outbreaks>
I put the hornwort in a 10 gallon tank with no cloudiness.
I cleaned the algae and did a 50% water change and nothing improved. The Bristlenose Plecos obviously do not eat that type of algae.
<More weight to the poss. of this being BGA>
Someone at the LFS said to keep angelfish at 77-78 instead of 82F, so I turned the temp down at around the same time the algae started.
<This may help>
The tank is cleaned every week at least with the gravel vac and there has been no other changes. I can't figure this one. Thank you
<Well; there are "several roads to Rome" and algae control (nutrient deprivation, competitors, predators...)... I would have you read a brief synthesis of my ideas on the subject:
scroll down to the tray "Algae Matters" here in WWM's FW Subindex...
Questions, concerns? Please write back. Bob Fenner> 
Bright green algae is back       4/15/14

I hit the enter button and it this message was sent too soon. Anyway I have a 75 gallon tank. Two angels, 7 emperor tetras and one Bristlenose Pleco. I had a problem with bright green algae that was getting worse and worse a
few weeks ago. The Bristlenose would not touch it, so maybe it was toxic.
About 10 days ago we took out all the fish drained the tank hosed it outside, and scrubbed it. We scrubbed the decor with hot water and put everything back in. It was crystal clear. The tank has very little substrate due to the amount of crap a Bristlenose produces. A least twice a week I gravel vac everything on the bottom and a lot of stuff comes up.
This made the tank really cloudy a day ago and it did not clear up, then this morning the bright green algae was on it's way back. Ammonia and Nitrate are perfect. I ran out of Nitrite stuff. I wonder what could be causing this? I had one live Hornwort plant in there when it happened the last time, so I put that in another tank, now it just came with no plants in the tank. Should I get an algae remover or a UV sterilizer? thank you
<.... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Email to Neale about possible blue/green algae      4/16/14

I have a 75 gallon tank. Two angels, 7 emperor tetras and one Bristlenose Pleco. I had a problem with bright green algae that was getting worse and worse a few weeks ago. The Bristlenose would not touch it, so maybe it was cyanoBACTERIA.
<Sounds plausible. Take some out. Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) has a very distinctive look and smell. It's slimy, often looks sort of streaky or fibrous, and smells like mould.>
About 10 days ago we took out all the fish drained the tank hosed it outside, and scrubbed it. We scrubbed the decor with hot water and put everything back in. It was crystal clear. The tank has very little substrate due to the amount of crap a Bristlenose produces. A least twice a week I gravel vac everything on the bottom and a lot of stuff comes up.
This made the tank really cloudy a couple of days ago and it did not clear up.
<Normal and in itself not a problem. After big changes to an aquarium there's a lot of silt thrown into the water. Strong mechanical filtration should help. You can also by flocculants (often called "filter aids") that clump particles together, making them easier for the filter to remove. These do work amazingly well.>
Then this morning the bright green algae or maybe cyanoBACTERIA was on it's way back. Ammonia and Nitrate are perfect. I ran out of Nitrite stuff. I wonder what could be causing this?
<Almost always a mismatch between the amount of light and the types of plant being grown. Oddly enough, nitrate level isn't necessarily a triggering point, nor the messiness of the fish; I've got a Panaque in an aquarium that can poop like a horse and whatever I do nitrate stays relatively high, but algae is not a problem in that tank. On the other hand, I've got a smaller tank with just a few Cherry Barbs and Limia, and blue-green algae has recently become a major headache there. What's the difference between the two? Lighting. The small tank gets some direct sunlight this time of year, and I recently re-planted it, and the plants don't seem to have taken off. One of the two lights is a Gro-Lux type plant-enhancing pinkish tube, which I hadn't used before. Somewhere between these factors is the trigger that's cause blue-green algae to go bananas in a tank that otherwise used to be clean as a whistle. The bigger Panaque aquarium has bunches of floating plants that block out most of the light before it hits the water, and it's also got quite heavy filtration. So even though I honestly don't maintain that tank nearly as often as I should, simply cropping the floating plants every week or two removes massive amounts of nitrate from the water while the filter keeps the water moving too quickly for blue-green algae to be happy.>
I had one live Hornwort plant in there when it happened the last time, so I put that in another tank, now it just came back with no live plants in the tank. Should I get an algae remover or a UV steriliser?
<UV doesn't do a huge amount for blue-green algae; it works well against "green water" type situations where you have planktonic algae, typically diatoms in aquaria.>
Someone said to treat the tank with antibiotics.
<This can work very well -- but will do prevent the blue-green algae coming back, which they will if conditions still favour them. There's a holy trinity for blue-green algae that includes wrong/too much lighting, sluggish water movement, and high nitrate levels. Generally, if you find plants are growing poorly in your tank, then blue-green algae will make up the difference, using up the light and nitrate the plants aren't using.
Make sense? So the best cure is to find some plants that grow quickly.
Depending on your tank, two good options would be floating plants (Floating Indian Fern is ideal) or bunches of easy plants like Vallisneria.
Basically, anything you'd crop back every week or two. If you have rampant plant growth, you'll almost never have Cyanobacteria.>
The tank was clear in the last several months in a place with more light, but now this stuff. Bob Fenner suggested a link but that was with endless posts with no answer. I think someone said at some point to empty the tank and bleach it, but that sounds drastic. thank you
<Do have a read here:
Those are my personal thoughts and experiences. Cheers, Neale.>

Outdoor acrylic algal issue      3/15/14
Hey all!
Big fan!
<Heeee! A large Gorgonian came to mind>
Huge acrylic tank outside.  Approximately 1,000 gal.  Set-up about a year ago, had some chiller and functioning issues so just looking to re-stock it now.  Currently the water chemistry is healthy, but we have massive algal bloom issues.  There is a UV on the filtration system.  No live plants inside.  Front panels are exposed to sun throughout the daylight with no shading
Do you think this is a direct sunlight issue or something else we can do to combat it?
<Is at least a sunlight issue... Along with fluctuations in temp.... I WOULD add live plants, use Carbon to restrict nutrients, and SHADE! Wow, that's bright>
Thanks much.
Jackie C.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Outdoor acrylic algal issue    3/16/14

Thanks so much! I will suggest these ideas to him.  Thank you.
<Welcome... Years back our service co. had a similar account... acrylic, outdoors... In Pacific Beach here in San Diego... though it was in a tree-shaded area, this 180 gal. system was a pain to keep clean. BobF>

Algae from sunlight, FW, SW, doesn't matter...     4/1/13
First off, I really appreciate your time! I have a 55 gallon tank that I have maintained for years. I have recently moved and my new house has windows galore, and the house is in an open area, so there are no trees and the sun shines all day. I placed my tank in the best place that I could, but of course now I have pea soup. Everything reads normal, like in years and years past, like when my water was crystal clear. I would hate to give up my hobby because I bought a house with too many windows. I haven't been able to find anyone on the Internet with my problem ( heard of it short term, but not the long term like I seek) I talked to a guy at a local fish store, and he told me that I should get a uv filter, and run it while the sun is out, and turn it off at night. Opinions?
<The UV can/will help to zap/kill free floating/living algae et al., as well as help more indirectly to raise RedOx, dissolved oxygen, oxidize algal-feeding nutrients... Other ways exist to aid your algal control efforts. These are archived on WWM>
 Thanks for any assistance!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Algae problem driving me crazy   7/12/12
<We ask that people restrict their file sizes to hundreds of Kbytes... yours is six megs... >
Good Morning, we are having a problem with Algae and are at a loss to know how to get rid of it.  I'm hoping that you can identify the algae type for me, what causes it to grow so rapidly and how to get rid of it. I have attached a couple of pics, I'm thinking some kind of Hair Algae maybe.  We have a 400 litre tank, external canister filter Aqua One 2700L with UV, do two 20% water changes per week, and feed our fish mostly once day. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10, PH fluctuates between 6.5 and 7.
<A bit low...>
 Our water is taken from our underground bore but even though we won't have chlorines etc we still use a little API water conditioner for any heavy metals. This Algae seems to go really quick, we can hand remove it and 3 days later it's grown all over again.  We have had to cut back most of the plants and removed any that were too coated. Our tank has been running for 7 months and this algae appeared about 6 weeks ago.  We did have a clown loach with suspected white spot and had the heat up to about 29 for about 10 days a few weeks back, could the heat have started it?
<Could be a factor>
Hope you can help, we just want our tank back looking healthy.
<... may be a "beard algae" (a Rhodophyte) or a Cyanophyte... ID, control,
read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Algae on  aquarium glass?   7/11/12
Hi there. I hope all is well in your world.
<Yes; thanks>
As I'm sure you can see, I attached two pictures to this e-mail, and I believe those spots to be some sort of algae.
<Likely so... either a Cyanobacteria or a Red/Rhodophyte... but could be another Division (botanical equivalent to zoological phylum). Only way to really tell is sampling, looking under a scope. possibly a little stain work>
 It's extremely difficult to remove, and it shows up weekly.
<Good clues>
I have searched online for hours in an attempt to find out what this is and what I can do to prevent it, to no avail.
<Oh, do read on WWM... here:
and the linked files above. All will be revealed>
 Any article I can find on anything that seems even remotely close to it is all about saltwater or reef tanks. My tanks are all freshwater. I do get the easy to remove brown algae from time to time, but these unsightly dots and smears are so hard to remove my fingernails can barely get it off. I've been using your site for years now and have found it to be extremely helpful. I would certainly appreciate it if you could get back to me on this, when you have the time.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Lighting and algae    5/16/12
Dear Crew
I had a problem last year with a build up of brown/black algae - it wasn't the hairy type, more of a stubborn black patch on plant leaves mostly near the surface of the tank.
<Mmm; some of these can be very persistent, pesky>
 It went away after adding Easycarb liquid carbon.   I've seen this begin to return despite adding Easycarb.  Could it be to do with an increase in excess nutrients or perhaps old fluorescent lamps?
<Either, both>
 My lamps are probably about a year old - time to change them?
<Depends on what type, how long on... The best measure: PAR, PUR meter/metre>
 Could it also be that I haven't hoovered the substrata for a while (I left it as I assumed it was healthy for the plants).  Perhaps a light clean of the floor would help?
<Likely so>
many thanks
Dr Patrick Nunn
<As many welcomes. Bob Fenner>

Tufa Rock and Hair Algae 3/1/12
Hi Crew,
<Hello Rebecca>
So I see on previous posts that Tufa rock seems to be implicated in some cases of hair algae troubles. What exactly is it about Tufa that could contribute to more hair algae growth than what you would get with other rock?
<Depending on where it formed or where it was collected from, Tufa rock may contain  significant detrital components along with phosphorous and can be problematic re nuisance algae growth.  Best not to chance it.>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Rebecca Bray

Planted Tank, fish sel. for pest control   11/9/11
Dear WWM,
Usually this would concern marine topics, however I do have a 20 gallon freshwater planted. My goal when I purchased it was to make a tank that would be almost self sufficient, obviously it needs water added on occasion due to evaporation and flow provided, my end product has a small heater, and filter, and standard light (also receives ample sunlight). Stocked with Micro Sword which is growing across that tank; Amazon Sword that has more than doubled in size and number of leaves; Argentine Swords which grow and are a nice back drop, Java Fern slow growing, and what I believe to be a Ludwigia peruensis that likes to loose leaves every time new ones grow in.
I also have two Apple Snails, Six Ghost shrimp that keep having babies whom I can never find. I would assume this is due to the free swimming larva encountering the filter. One common Pleco. I also have gnats that like to land and die in the water much to my dismay. Is there a fish I could get that would not have a high demand or be over-whelming to my tank that would eat the gnats and algae? The algae I already identified to be Green Spot Algae rather than a non-photosynthetic type. Thanks.
<Depending on water temperature and water chemistry, something from the killifish or livebearer groups would seem most appropriate here. At low-end tropical temperatures, Florida Flagfish can make excellent algae eaters.
They're territorial but not especially aggressive. Other pupfish-type Killies might be used depending on their availability in your area.
Livebearers are good for tanks with moderately hard to hard water. Alfaro cultratus is an exception, doing well in soft water, though it is difficult to breed and eats mostly insects rather than algae. On the other hand, Limia nigrofasciata is an excellent algae-eater and unusual enough that passing on excess fry is easy to do. The Dwarf Mosquitofish, Heterandria formosa, would be an excellent choice for your tank, being so small it'd have minimal impact on water quality unless you kept hundreds. Naturally, you could go with plain vanilla livebearers too, such as Endler's. Just as an aside, the Plec has no place in this tank and will cause trouble before long; neither will it do much/anything to hold back algae. Replace with an Ancistrus instead; these are smaller, reasonably good algae eaters, and very easy to keep. Otocinclus might be an option too, but they're delicate, dislike warm water, easily starved, and often die within a few months or a year of purchase. Cherry Shrimps are much easier to breed, and they're also more colourful, and in my opinion the best all-around shrimps for most tanks. Do bear in mind that Green Spot Algae isn't going to be removed by any fish. To deal with this algae type, you want to adopt a preventative approach, perhaps through a combination of physical removal of what you have now, Nerite snails for scraping away new colonies before they start, and the use of fast-growing plants (ideally, floating plants) to inhibit algal growth. Cheers, Neale.>

Retail Questions. FW Algae control and GF issues    8/23/11
Hello everyone,
<Hi Jessica>
Thank you for such a great website, I use WWM as a reference quite frequently. I could use a little advice about a few things. I am currently employed as the 'aquatics specialist' at a locally owned business. I am looking to improve things, and possibly make my job a tad easier. We have 9 four foot sections of Marineland Retail Systems.
<Am familiar w/ these>
I recently did away with the marine side of things as I felt it was a disservice to the great industry, and went ahead and converted everything to fresh.
One of my biggest issues is the management of algae buildup. It seems that to keep everything algae free, I must physically scrub each tank nearly twice weekly. I find it hard to keep up. The two sections I converted from marine to fresh, are not on drip systems, are also our community fish-I am able to keep a Chinese Algae Eater (I don't care for them, but admit they do a good job)
<Only when small... these are very predaceous fishes... dangerously so; and very lazy cleaner-uppers w/ size. If you can keep track, placing small Loricariids (even the big/ger Plecos, though Ancistrus et al. are better)
in each sub-unit/tank and selling them off as they age can be of use...>
in each tank and those sections do well. The rest of the sections are on drips, and even with peaceful fish the CAEs tend to die off. These tanks test 0/0/0, and despite algaecides (which I despise using, and only tried for a short while) and UV sterilization, I get brown diatom and green spot algae. I have tried phosphate removers with little success. It is difficult to use long handled algae removal tools, with the lack of space in the openings of the MARS tanks. The lights are on 12 hours a day..which is a problem in itself..but not one that I can resolve. All tanks are bare bottom, gravel was removed years ago.
<Mmm, I would not use Algicides of any sort, but would advise the use of good quality activated carbon in your filter flow path... switched out half every half month... See WWM re this practice and rationale; and being careful re introducing excess nutrient (rinse all frozen and live foods ahead of feeding most importantly), AND the growing of as much live plants as you can order and practically keep. Further, you might want to study re the lamps used and switch out ones that culture algae in the non-planted tanks>
The other issue I wanted to check on, is that I frequently have issues with diseases of the goldfish sections in general.
<VERY common... the quality of goldfish in the trade overall is appalling.
MOST all have parasitic, infectious and handling issues>
Very unfortunately the feeder fish are kept in the same sections with the other fancy goldfish and cold water fish.
<NO! These MUST go on a separate system. Have whomever is in charge here contact me directly re>
Solutions I have come up with have not interested management. Every week I wonder if it is going to be a "good" or "bad" week with the goldfish. I do feel that this is a supplier issue,
<Not altogether, no>
but have not been able to resolve it. It seems that sometimes when the feeder fish come in, either immediately or a few days after, most of the fish will mostly end up laying on the bottom. The next day, most are showing signs of what I've assumed is columnaris (they appear to rot)
<Environmental, handling...>
it runs through them quickly and I lose most. This usually carries over to a few tanks in the sections, despite UV, although sometimes the fancy goldfish seem to be the 'initial' carriers. I have not found effective treatment or prevention. The larger, hardier
fish may show signs of tail rot or hemorrhagic septicemia. The fish do, however, appear healthy before they go into the tanks, so I'm not sure where the blame lies. Everything would point to poor water conditions, but I have tested again and again and the two sections test at 0/0/0. I frequently joke I can keep the most difficult fish alive, but not a single goldfish.
I would appreciate any help you can offer, I'm not sure if there is a way to improve filtration or something else in the systems that would help turn things around. I realize there are many cons to these systems, but I am trying to work with what I have. Thank you very much.
<Much to relate re the GF issue... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm
and the linked files above as you have time... Take notes down to share w/ mgmt.... And have them contact me. Bob Fenner>

encourage algae ?   8/21/11
Hi Crew,
As always, same old great informative site. Thank you thank you.
<Glad you're enjoying WWM!>
I have a maybe unusual question : how to encourage some green algae ?
<Easy: bright light! The Chlorophyta prosper in the same conditions as higher plants, which is why green algae is commonly seen in well maintained planted aquaria.>
Have a newish one foot cube tank, about six gallons of effective water.
Bottom is 1.5" deep 40% sand from Hainan in one area, 60% round river stones elsewhere (bigger than gravel but not boulder sized.) Fairly well planted, plants seem happy. Anubias is growing like mad, some stem plants, some dwarf swords. In strategic areas at the bottom a 50-50 mix of lake dirt and sand. One pretty big piece of wood. A 200 liter/hour in-tank filter with a nylon sock over it.
<Sounds good.>
After a couple of weeks I dropped in some small horned Nerite snails and one red onion Nerite snail, since these supposedly can't reproduce in fresh water.
<Apparently so. They'll lay a million eggs, but nothing seems to come from them. In any event, Clithon corona in particular is a euryhaline, brackish water species that very likely has marine, planktonic larvae.>
I've thought of adding a couple trumpet snails for the sand but still trepidatious about that :)
<Understandable. Clea helena can be a fun alternative; though it does breed, it does so slowly, and being carnivorous, a given aquarium simply can't maintain as many as the omnivorous Melanoides spp.>
About two weeks ago I added about ten ghost shrimp. They seem to be happy as clams in the wild. Swim all over, at least two have shed their skins, one has eggs now. I have fed them a half a shrimp pellet once or twice just to watch them fight over it, but in general I don't feed them at all.
<Indeed, they often seem to thrive on benign neglect.>
They are all over the tank all the time looking for food. If I feed them they sit in a group and tell fish stories or something. The water definitely has a green tinge from a distance but up close looks pretty clear. There's some algae on the glass but the snails chomp that and sometimes the shrimp. Mostly the shrimp like scouring the wood and the plants and the rocks are clean as a whistle now.
<Sounds very healthy and balanced.>
So everything is fine, no complaints. What I'm worried about though is that I have to go on a trip for two weeks. I don't want to make any big changes but I don't want them to starve, either. Would you trust the apparent equilibrium or would you add a fish feeder and risk fouling the tank ? How much wild algae is enough, or how do you encourage more without encouraging too much more ?
<I wouldn't. There is likely enough algae, detritus, and decaying plant material to feed your shrimps and snails. If they're growing (and this is often obvious on Nerites because new-growth shell looks odd compared to wild-growth) then they're happy. If they're breeding, then doubly so. If you must, add an algae wafer once a week, of the sort used to feed Suckermouth Catfish. Nerites won't eat these, usually, but shrimps love them. An occasional source of calcium is worthwhile, too, and good algae wafers should contain some of this essential nutrient, but otherwise, a tiny piece of unshelled shrimp or a krill will do the trick nicely. Good luck, Neale.>

Feedback/Algae Control 7/21/11
Hi Crew,
<Hello Alan>
I wanted to first say thanks for the site and the time you all spend answering questions.
<You're welcome.>
My 180gallon Oceanic tank has a center glass piece.
The water line is probably about 1/4" below that.
Anyway, because it's not totally emerged the standard cleaning crew don't touch it yet it is constantly getting covered in algae. Is there anything I can do to keep algae from growing on that part of the glass?
I was thinking of smearing petroleum jelly but I don't know how long that would last. Any ideas?
<Yes, I'd try the Lifegard Silicone Lubricant. It has a viscosity thicker than pancake syrup (Yum) and I
believe it will last for quite some time. Take a look here.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

algae in new planted tank 10/26/10
Hi, I just started a planted 45 gallon tank about 3 weeks now. Already I'm starting to get algae. My filtration is with 2 filters, First is a Fluval 305 and secondly I have an Aqua clear 70. For media I'm using the stock media that came with the Fluval and the same for the Aqua clear. My lighting is a JBJ 36 inch dual compact fluorescents with 10,000K and 65,000K bulbs which I run about 10 hours a day. I also have a basic Co2 system that I just installed a week ago. My question is what media should I use in my filters to help reduce the algae as well as any other suggestions you may have? Thank You, Brian
<Hello Brian. There really aren't any media that reduce or eliminate algae. To a degree, phosphate and nitrate removers *may* help, but there isn't a fixed relationship between these nutrients and the occurrence of algae problems. You can, for example, have quite high nitrate levels but no algae problems if the aquarium is in other ways optimised, in particular, by having lots of fast-growing plants. The art to algae management is getting the right amount of light for the plants chosen, and ensuring that those plants are growing as rapidly as possible. In fact a more economical approach to nitrate and phosphate removal is to deliberately grow fast-growing species like Indian Fern and Hygrophila that improve water quality while outcompeting any algae. Hygrophila in particular needs intense light to do well. Often, the tanks with algae problems have slow-growing plants, either because such species are chose, for example Java fern and Anubias, or else lighting isn't enough for Hygrophila and other fast-growing species to thrive. I hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: algae in new planted tank 10/26/10

Thanks for the info. I did just add java fern maybe I should remove it????
<Not necessarily. By itself it doesn't cause algae problems. But neither does it eliminate them, and under direct light hair algae will grow on its leaves as readily as on wood or stones.>
I also have, (3)Rotala macrandra
<Quite demanding in terms of light.>
and, (3) Lloydiella (Lysimachia nummularia)
<An amphibious plant with a limited lifespan underwater.>
Below is what I just ordered for the tank but have not planted yet. Val's, Corkscrew (Vallisneria americana)
<Generally easy to grow; a good algae out-competer, though prone to hair algae at the edges.>
Dwarf Baby Tears (Hemianthus callitrichoides) (potted)
<Difficult to grow; needs CO2, and the pots grown commercially are the marsh form that will likely die back before growing into the underwater form.>
Sword, Red Rubin (Echinodorus 'Rubin')
<Reliable, old favourite.>
Ludwigia, Broad Leaf (Ludwigia repens)
<Given good light and CO2, can grow like a weed, but a tricky species for beginners.>
Any suggestions on what I should keep or remove to help with the algae?
<In terms of algae control, Hygrophila polysperma and floating Indian Fern are the two easiest species to use. If Hygrophila polysperma won't thrive in your tank, it's likely no other fast-growing stem plant will either, so it's a great "miner's canary". Unhappy specimens are mostly stem with small leaves; happy specimens have dense, bushy foliage. For algae consumption, Nerite snails are by far the best for keeping the glass clean and to some extent large plants, while various algae-eating shrimps can clean more delicate foliage. Fish are hit-and-miss, but Siamese Algae Eaters probably offer the best performance with the fewest hassles. Cheers, Neale >
Re: algae in new planted tank -- 10/28/10

Hi Neale,
Just wanted to follow up from our last e-mail, I took your advice and purchased some Nerite snails and Siamese algae eaters. I can see they are already going to town on the Algae! I also added a Nitrate and Phosphate remover to my Fluval lets see if it helps.
One last question about Co2, I have a basic system that does not allow me to control the output. My LFS told me to run an air pump at night to offset the Co2 since plants do not use Co2 at night? I installed it directly under the diffuser. Not sure it this is the correct thing to do? I'm I hurting my Co2 levels by running the air pump when the lights are out? Any suggestions?
Thank You
<Hello Bryan. Adding CO2 to an aquarium at night is, at best, pointless.
With an unregulated system, excess CO2 could, in theory, lower pH and stress fish, though the risks are pretty small. You are correct that while plants take up oxygen 24 hours a day, they only use CO2 during the daylight hours while photosynthesizing. Do read my article on CO2 in the current WWM Digital Magazine, here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sickly Dwarf Gelius Barb, now kinky loaches, algae on (nee) Echinodorus 10/2/10
Wow...that's what I call service, thanks!!
<Not bad for free'¦>
Okay, will decrease temperature a little, and look into anti-Hexamita medication (mysteriously and collectively referred to online as a treatment for discus, it seems??)
<Indeed. Hexamita is one of the so-called Discus Diseases, and in fact is most often encountered among cichlids generally. Whilst I doubt this Barb is suffering from Hexamita itself, it may be something similar, and an anti-Hexamita medication might help.>
Will keep you posted.
While I've got you, am I permitted to ask a couple of unrelated questions? Will try to be brief (not easy for me, as you know). I have 5 loaches, 2 striata and 3 yo-yo.....both my striatas were "cast-offs" from different aquatics stores, I spotted them swimming in random stock tanks with other fish, totally unnoticed by the shop. One is very small (partly why I bought him), but I've noticed that he has a strange kink in his body (just behind the dorsal fin). Could this be the deformity of the spine that I read about in loaches? How will it effect him long term?
<Kinked spines are either congenital, caused by malnutrition, or much more rarely, caused by some sort of trauma. There's nothing you can do to fix them, but they don't seem to cause the fish undue harm, at least not under aquarium conditions.>
I also have an issue with algae on my live plant leaves. I have some tall Amazon swords, and a few of the leaves have very lovely brown smears on them, plus what looks like black spots (like felt tip) on one or two.
<Yes, very common with Amazon Swords, typically in situations where light intensity is not that high, and the aquarium isn't densely planted with fast-growing plants. Certain fish help, particularly those sorts that eat Red Algae, but improving overall conditions for the plants will be the main issue. Do read:
Despite my reading, I can't seem to find an accurate description of it online - I thought it was brown algae/diatoms but it doesn't completely fit that description....???
<Brown Algae and Diatoms are different things. Brown Algae are the kelps and bladder wracks, and they're essentially absent from freshwater environments. Diatoms -- sometimes called Golden Brown Algae -- are unicellular things that form thin, greasy films on the glass walls of the tank. Occasionally they bloom in the water. They're basically harmless and tend to go away by themselves once the aquarium settles down. Snails eat diatoms readily, so control of the few remaining diatoms is easy. Red Algae form the bushes, threads, and small but hard spots seen on glass, solid objects, and of course plants. These are among the most difficult algae to eliminate.>
The shrimp, panda Corys and zebra snail have all had a go at eating it, but it won't shift - and I can't seem to scrub it off manually. Some of the leaves are perfectly clean.....so will this be a case of simply removing the algae stained leaves altogether, is there nothing I can do?
<To some extent, plants combat algae themselves under good conditions. A decent clump of floating Indian Fern will go along way to removing nutrients from the water and suppressing the growth of algae. Otherwise use fast-growing plants such as Hygrophila and Vallisneria under intense lighting -- ironically, one of the best ways to fix algae problems is to add more light so your plants can grow more rapidly. If you aren't pruning weekly, then your fast-growing plants probably aren't growing as quickly as they should be.>
Thanks very much!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Green Hair Algae, and BGA... FW     9/1/10
Hello All,
I have read your posts but still have not found the answer to my little problem.
I set up a 150 gallon freshwater planted tank about 5 weeks ago.
<Very good..
After reading, I have found that the brown algae is a usual problem with newly set up tanks and that it should clear up on its own.
<Diatoms rather than brown algae. They're not the same thing at all!
Diatoms are the golden-brown "slime" that forms on the glass, and sometimes in the water as well, making it cloudy. If you can see tufts, it's not diatoms. Most of the brown, dark green or black hair algae you see in aquaria is actually red algae, so named because of how it appears after being treated with alcohol.>
I have recently noticed that exact thing. At week 4 the brown started to die back from my decorations, drift wood and walls of the tank but it is still covering my ground cover (I do not know the name) and Anubis plants.
<What you have here are not diatoms, but red algae. Usually caused by insufficient light, though it tends to appear on Anubias and Java ferns almost no matter what. A few fish are good at eating this stuff, most notably the true Siamese Algae Eater, Crossocheilus siamensis, an excellent schooling species that does well in aquaria like yours. I'd add at least
half a dozen.>
I am not sure of the name but I have actually taken a toothbrush to manually uncover my plant leaves in the fear it will suffocate them and kill them off.
<Yes, such algae can cause problems in the long term, though mostly to the degree it's unsightly. Break off infected leaves on things like Anubias, but otherwise rely on the Siamese Algae Eaters.>
Now I have now noticed the bright green hair algae (and some black bearded algae) everywhere. It looks really nice and has coated the driftwood, back panel of my aquarium tank, air hoses, decorations, etc and it looks beautiful.
<Yes, can look very nice, especially on bogwood and rocks. But it does play havoc with your plants, making it difficult for them to get light to their leaves.>
I only clean the front and the sides every couple of days to keep it from growing on them and as well as keeping the green dots of hard algae that grows. This, I have read, is a sign of a good quality tank, which I am pleased to read, since this is my goal.
<Up to a point, yes, but algae also means you have the wrong conditions for your plants. Broadly, when plants are doing well, algae does badly. How much light have you got? I suspect, not enough. Also use floating plants or tall plants to shade Anubias, because these hate direct light.>
My dilemma is this...this green hair algae has also taken to my plants. It looks much better than the brown algae still plaguing my ground cover and Anubis but I am still concerned about it smothering the ability to photosynthesize.
Again, I have taken a toothbrush to scrub but some of the leaves are too delicate to do this. Anubis is hearty but the others cant take it. I do have what I think is and actual SAE but he has yet to show any interest.
<For one thing, you need more than one. You need a school of them.
Secondly, there are lookalike species like the Flying Fox. Our friends at The Krib have an excellent guide to the different species sold as Siamese Algae Eaters here:
The one you want is Crossocheilus siamensis. Note its colouration and single pair of barbels.>
Can you please point me in the right direction for the brown and green algae covering my plants? I have included a few pictures.
<Very likely a combination of better light, fast-growing algae-busting plants like Indian Fern, and a decent school of Siamese Algae Eaters needed here. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Green Hair Algae 9/3/10
Hi Neale,
The lighting I have was an issue for me to find. After months of looking, I have chosen a Nova Extreme 6 x 54w light fixture. It was meant for salt water so I removed the actinic bulbs and replaced them. Now I have 3 10,000k and 3 6,700k 54w bulbs. It was the biggest fixture I could find since my tank is 48" long but 30" wide. Because of this bigger width, I needed a light fixture that was wider. This gives me a total of 354 watts for my 150 gallon at just under 3 watts per gallon.
<That's a lot of light. To be fair, if the tank is more than, say, 50 cm/20 inches deep, you need a lot of light. But still, without fast-growing plants to "use up" some of that light and the nutrients in the water, algae
problems are likely.>
I was told, during my research, that this should be a sufficient amount of lighting. If I need more, what bulbs do I replace with what? I live in a remote location, so I do not have access to simple or unusual things and the ordering can take six weeks. Also, I do not have real floating plants but a fake philodendron that floats.
<Do order some floating plants. Indian Fern and Amazon Frogbit are both superb because they grow at or below the waterline, so are less likely to be damaged by hot air under the hood. It's not just shade that counts, but consumption of nutrients from the water. There may also be an allelopathic effect as well, where fast-growing plants inhibit the growth of algae. In terms of rooted plants, look at fast-growing species such as Hygrophila, Vallisneria and so on.>
This gives shade but also provides a place for fish to hide and swim in (this is also coated with my green algae). Hence also the dilemma of finding more SAE's. I will cut all the leaves that have the BBA and brown algae on them but am fearful that they wont grow back.
<Anubias don't usually grow back lost leaves, but they do steadily grow new leaves at the leading end of the rhizome. What you can do is periodically trim the rhizome into smaller lengths. The new leading ends will sprout leaves.>
At least that will give them a chance. I am also going to be removing all the driftwood with the BBA on it and dry it out. Hopefully that will kill what's on the wood. Someone mentioned a reverse osmosis system and UV lighting system to kill the algae spores. Is this true? Will this work?
The planted tank is new for me and I'm extremely frustrated.
<No need to be. Your tank looks very healthy. It's just a question of getting the balance of plants right. Imagine a garden where you pick all the weeds and leave the soil bare. Eventually weeds come back. You need a mix of bedding plants and shrubs to fill out the soil, the fast-growing cover plants stopping weeds becoming a problem, while the taller plants add character. Same thing here. You have light and nutrients, and that means *something* will grow fast. If you don't have the right plants, algae picks up the slack. But trust me, in a tank like yours, a combination of fast-growing Vallisneria, Hygrophila and hybrid Aponogeton plants would do well, plus some Cryptocoryne and Anubias for darker green spots. Stick some floating plants on top, and crop these back once they cover more than 25% of the surface.>
I have been preparing for over 6 months for this tank and have little resources near me.
<You should be able to buy plants online. Aponogeton hybrids are sold as dry tubers, so they're super-easy to obtain.>
Everyone I know has a saltwater tank so they can't help. Should I pull all my real plants out and put them in a qt tank until I figure out what needs to be done before they all die?
<No, no, no. You need to create a balance, that's all. It's a case of adding plants until you get a balance that works.>
Also, after reading your SAE description, I'm afraid I may have the false SAE.
<Often the case unfortunately.>
It was given to me as an unknown fish and was very diligent in trying to research what it was. It has the black stripe that goes into the tail but now am trying to decide on it's coloring to determine which it is, real or false.
<Count the whiskers at the front, is there one or two pairs? If one pair, it's an SAE; if two pairs, it's the Flying Fox.>
<Do also add some Nerite snails, one per 3-5 gallons. Very good algae eaters. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Green Hair Algae   9/6/2010

Hi Neale,
I do understand that this is actually quite a bit of light for my tank but, as you stated, the actual width is what directed me to that decision. It has been long and difficult but after removing most of the driftwood and drying it out, along with trimming as much algae coated plants and leaves, and scraping algae off of all four sides of the tank, the diatom algae has
seemed to completely disappear (as I was told it would) and the green hair algae has slowed down.
I have left all of my plants in the tank as you directed and have keeping an eye on the growth rate. The driftwood would have normally been coated within a few days to a week and I have yet to see any growing back at all.
It has begun to grown on the black background acrylic so I know it's not over but the rate at which it was growing has dwindled.
<Some algae is fine, and I'd argue plastic objects as well as rocks and bogwood look better with a bit of algae on them. The point at which algae becomes a problem varies with taste to some degree, but if it's smothering plant leaves, that's definitely a problem.>
I'm still concerned about the plant leaves that have this growing as well as the BBA that is starting to take over from where the diatom type algae has stopped. Ugh!
<Black Brush Algae, various types of red algae, are tricky to handle once established. To a degree, they prosper when fast-growing plants don't; so if you can get things like Floating Indian Fern or Hygrophila established and growing fast, red algae tends to be a minor problem.>
I am excited, however, to say I have double and triple checked my SAE and it looks to be the real deal! It has one set of whiskers.
The bad part is I have yet to see another one of these at the local aquarium shops.
As for the floating plants, I am unable to order online since I am in Okinawa, Japan. No one ships to here and the local aquarium shops are very limited with English.
<Funnily enough, when Bob Fenner (the owner of WWM) lived in Japan as a teenager, as a "military brat" of some sort, he had a job in an aquarium shop and used to stick bits of Floating Indian Fern into each bag of fish.
So Floating Indian Fern at least does exist in Japan. Try using the Latin name. Even here in England, we don't call this plant Floating Indian Fern -- asking for things in Americanese doesn't always work!>
I may be able to take a photo copy with me and see if I can match some plants.
<Cool. Latin names will also help.>
My other problem is that they are FILLED with pond snails.
<A cosmetic problem usually. There are snail traps on the market, or you can make your own using an upturned saucer and some catfish pellets. Google is your friend here, to save me having to write the whole thing out. But do bear in mind sails turn food into more snails. Typically snails grow fastest in tanks that are overfed, or fed foods that the fish don't/can't
eat properly. So with that said, controlling food input while usually cause snail populations to die back as the adults can't breed as quickly. Various loaches, catfish, puffers and cichlids will also eat snails, if sufficiently hungry.>
I have been battling some plants I received for about three months now to rid them before I introduce them to my tank. I cannot get potassium permanganate shipped but have found and "Aquatic Plant Disinfectant" that has the PP mixed with water already sealed in bottles. I ordered this and used it but had to dip my plants a minimum of three different times before I didn't see any more snails.
<Yes, but do be careful: potassium permanganate is very nasty stuff, and will kill your plants if used too much.>
I, personally, am anti-snail since I have had nothing but bad luck with them in general (always from aquarium plants).
<Look at your fishkeeping habitats. Snails are like cockroaches in kitchens, while they are unsightly, they tend to imply a deeper problem. For what it's worth, I ignore snails, and let my loaches and puffers treat them as live food. Clea helena, the Assassin Snail, is a godsend if loaches and puffers aren't viable in your particular tank.>
I do understand that different types give different results with low rates of breeding but I prefer not to add them intentionally.
<OK. But do look at marine aquaria, where snails are seen as useful "clean-up crew". I don't necessarily advocate adding snails, but they can be useful in tanks with soft substrates, and they are excellent all-around scavengers.>
Once the algae seems to be in check, should I leave the leaves that may have residual green hair algae on them or should I try to remove all those leaves?
<Removing one or two leaves is harmless, but if you take away too many, the resulting plant can look a bit spindly, in which case pruning an entire stem might make more sense, so that a new stem grows to replace it. All this will depend on your plants. Anubias is a plant that should be pruned very carefully because it grows so slowly, but ugly Vallisneria plants can be removed in their entirety and their daughter plants left to take over, while Hygrophila can stand pretty harsh pruning if given good light and sufficient fertilisation.>
I only ask because the whose bottom half of some of my plants are covered with them so I would have to cut them down to the gravel and have them grow back from that.
<As I say, will depend on the plant species in question. In the case of Vallisneria for example, algae tends to smother the older leaves close to the surface of the water. If you're careful you can snap old leaves off at the base, and new leaves will grow from the white crown just above the substrate. Hygrophila will probably need to be pruned anyway to keep it looking bushy. But the thing is that if your plants are really plagued with algae, then pruning isn't the solution, better environmental conditions are. To some degree, life is easier if you experiment with plants and see which ones do best, and throw out the others. If algae is a problem, fast-growing plants will be part of the solution, and you need to keep adding more of them until the algae starts to get suppressed.>
Thanks for all your helpful advice for a planted tank novice!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Angelfish Compatibility Question, now, Algae issues 2/22/10
I am back! (to a certain extent of course)
3 of them have died off, not from starvation, because the stomachs were full when the fish were found.
But I think it is that the shipment was bad.
The remaining three seem to be very spirited, to a point they annoy the other fish... now that there is the slime algae, the one that isn't algae, but is bacteria. this means that the tank has bad water quality right?
<The only way to know what the water quality is would be to test it. Yes, algae, as you read last time we corresponded and I linked you to some algae pages, will thrive in tanks with high Nitrate. So, regular testing will
ensure that you're doing enough maintenance to keep Nitrate down. However, please read here, because this is not the only cause of algae:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwalgcontrol.htm. In any case,
though, you should be testing regularly, and not allow the growth or absence of algae to be your only indication of water quality. The fact that you've lost some fish is something that would cause me to be testing weekly. Let us know if you have any questions after reading. Good to hear you're still hanging in there and working on that tank -- I'm sure your hard work will pay off!>
From, the noob fishkeeper

Re: Empire State of Mind - FW soft/hardness, and HPO4, algae...  2/1/2010
Thanks a lot for your input, Neale!
<Happy to help.>
After a lot of tinkering, I have created my own cichlid salt mix where one teaspoon added to a 5 gallon bucket of de-chlorinated tap water creates water with 3-4 KH, 8 dh a PH of about 7.4.
I would have liked to get the KH slightly higher, but adding relatively more baking soda to the mix increases my pH too much (I don't want to go above 7.5 for the kinds of fish I currently have/ will have in the future).
<I agree.>
After doing more reading on water chemistry, I became more aware of the importance of phosphates.
<No importance at all, in freshwater systems anyway. Why are you worried?>
I don't own a phosphate kit yet (ordered one, but I also read that many kits only test for organic phosphates, anyway), but the New York water utility states that our tap water contains about 2 mg/l (Ortho-) Phosphates, described as "Water additive for corrosion control". I have battled green algae blooms in the past, but after leaving the lights off for a week and then adding more fast growing plants, I seem to reached an uneasy equilibrium (water definitely looks more greenish than in my quarantine tank, but I don't get full-blown blooms).
<There's little evidence phosphates have anything to do with algal problems. Do read here:
Most algal problems come down to lack of fast-growing plants and the wrong type/amount of light.>
So here is my question: Assuming that my water does contain 2 ppm, would the (Ortho-) Phosphate act as a buffer in my still close to 0 KH water?
I tried to find more info on phosphate based buffers, but couldn't determine the answer for certain. My worry is that if I start aggressively removing phosphates in an effort to get extra-clear water, my pH might crash. What do you think?
<Above pH 7, the effects of phosphate acids are unimportant; it's really down to carbonate and bicarbonate.>
Thank you so much!
P.S. I did read the FAQ's on phosphate in fresh water etc, but didn't seem to find the answer.
<Because no-one cares! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Empire State of Mind - FW, HOP4, algae    2/1/10
sounds good. I was worried about phosphates because I read in numerous places (incl. WWW) that phosphate levels at 2 ppm or higher often result in algae problems.
<In the past this was often supposed. Indeed, even now, the precise causes of algae "problems" remain obscure, and mostly you hear opinions rather than fact. At face value, yes, in the WILD, eutrophication of water bodies,
i.e., rapid increases of nitrate and phosphate levels, does usually lead to algae blooms. Sometimes these are natural, as in upwelling areas of the sea, and sometimes man-made, as when agricultural run-off gets into lakes and rivers. But broadly, yes, there is a connection. However, the problem with applying this to aquarium conditions is that an aquarium isn't a comparable system. There are plenty of aquarists with tanks that have high nitrate and phosphate levels, and yet no algae problems of any kind.
Conversely, some people constantly wrestle with algae problems despite very low nitrate and phosphate levels. So there are other factors at play. What the whole Amano trend towards planted aquaria has revealed is that fast
growing plants do, somehow, prevent algae problems. Some argue it's about nutrient uptake, others the plants cut out light, and yet others that there are allelopathic effects between plants and algae. It may be a combination of all three. But certainly, stick a big clump of Indian Fern in a messy cichlid or catfish tank, and algae stops being a problem, assuming light intensity is sufficiently bright for the Indian Fern to grow fast.>
I am getting close to upgrade to a 75g with real lighting (have an Eclipse system now, which makes it tough add enough lighting), but wanted to iron out all my water issues before I do. If you think that that my current
latent algae issues are not going to become a full-blown problem once I am using at least 3W/gallon of 10000/6700 light (provided I include enough fast growing plants), I am happy and shall leave my 2 ppm of phosphate alone.
<I agree. Provided you choose your plants carefully, you shouldn't have problems. Floating plants are easy in this regard because you just chuck 'em and let them do their thing, but they can look a bit messy! If you're going with "pretty" plants, then you need to look at things like Hygrophila, Vallisneria and so on. Essentially anything that grows like a weed should do the trick. These tend to be the species adapted to environments with lots of light, and also seem to be the ones that evolved mechanisms to deal with algae that might smother them. Algae magnet species, like Anubias and Java fern, are obviously of no use at all.>
Thanks a lot!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Angelfish Compatibility Question, now, Algae issues 1/16/10
Thanks thanks again for your reply!
<You're welcome.>
yes, its a typo... =(
<Okay, I just wanted to make sure.>
well, I guess Ill start at 7 hours. But wont less hours of light kill the Amazon swords?
<They should be okay with this period of lighting if your lights are strong enough to start with.>
By the way, I also have this weird lily plant thing that I got from Wal-Mart. Its not a place I usually buy from, but the plant was from seed.
The package said that all 4 seeds will germinate. Will guess what? Only one did.... Oh will... It only cost 2.38 anyway....
<If it's growing, then you must be meeting its needs, so even though I'm not sure what this is, it should be okay with the shorter photoperiod.>
So you saying that a angels color stays the same through its life?
Wow... There goes ordering online again...
Also, I would like to say something. In my oldoldold 10 gal tank, I have 2 female guppies my friend gave me. Unfortunately, one of the guppies got its head bitten off. There were no other fish at the time. One of them just had
this gash 2mm deep into its head. I was horrified, but I didn't have a place to put it. So I put it into a net and hung it on the top of the tank.
Sadly, the guppy died 2 days later, no sign of infection. What could have caused this?
<This could have been trauma from running into rocks or decor, or anything in the tank. It's unlikely that the other guppy bit off its head, unless the injured one was tiny, and the other an adult. I'm not sure... any injury that severe meant the fish most likely wouldn't have made it, either with or without infection.
Re: Angelfish Compatibility Question, now, Algae issues 1/16/10

Thanks for the tips!
<You're welcome.>
Wow. I usually spend 1 hour a day reading on WWM. I think I'll slowly shorten the time the light. I have this UV that a old employee owned store recommended me. It works, but I also think that it also worked too well. I have... Brown, green, beard, fuzzy, and maybe the green slime. Too much excess light I think.
<Also review that article I linked you to previously for the myriad of other causes of algae... it can really take a while to figure out what's going on.>
The online order say that you get a mixed angelfish. It could be any. So you might get a really cool one, or a really lousy one. Since angelfish's color doesn't change, Ill rather try to find it at a petstore.
<Oh, okay, I get it now. I wouldn't bother ordering this fish online -- Angels are easy to find, and shipping is usually around thirty bucks or so, even if you're only buying one fish! Much better to scan the pet stores and see who's got what, and even find out if more are due in, before purchasing.>
The 10 gal didn't have any rocks just a forest of hornwort that I had to give away when I moved... Well, that was a long time ago anyway. What's your favorite strain?
<The pair I have is Koi. I like them because they've got so many different colors. The silvers are nice too, though. When you're looking, just make sure and really examine the fish you're thinking of getting for any sort of bumps, lumps, or bruises! Torn fins are okay, and will heal, but you want to stay away from fish with any other physical problems.

Algae problems. On plant leaves    1/15/10
Dear crew,
sorry to disturbed you again, but what should I do to remove the algae growing on my plants leaves?
<You often can't, which is why prevention is the key. Certain snails (e.g., Nerites), shrimps (e.g., Cherry shrimps), and to a less extent fish (e.g., Siamese Algae Eaters) graze diatoms and green algae from leaves, and do so without harming the plant. But hair algae, brush algae, blue-green algae, etc. won't be eaten by anything, and once they're in place, the only solution is to remove the affected leaf. While removing one or two leaves won't do any harm, if you remove too many leaves, the plant will die. The usual solution is to [a] ensure water quality is good; and [b] install some fast-growing plants under reasonably bright lights so that algae are suppressed (the reasons why this happens are obscure, but it does happen).
In many cases, simply adding a good size clump of floating plants will do the trick, e.g., Indian Fern.>
And my java ferns are all in the substrate, not buried, but will they thrive?
<They will eventually die. These are epiphytes, and MUST be grown well above the substrate. I will make the observation here that slow-growing plants like Java fern and Anubias are "algae magnets" unless complemented with some fast-growing plants that offer them some shade. The idea you can grow a tank of just Java ferns under weak lighting is a total myth, and invariably ends up as an algae-ridden aquarium. If you don't mind the algae, that's fine... but if you do, you have a problem,>
Thanks very much!
<No problem.>
P.s. If I get a single angelfish will it be bad if I use the guppy fry as live food?
<Angelfish will happily eat Guppy fry, and indeed big adult Angels can eat male Guppies. While harmless enough, assuming the fry are bred at home (don't ever use purchased feeder fish), Angelfish do need a wider range of foods than just livebearer fry. Include a good quality flake or pellet food as well as invertebrates like bloodworms and brine shrimps. The more variety, the healthier your Angels will be, and the better their colours and behaviour. Cheers, Neale.>

10 gal. FW with Grn alg. prob...   12/11/09
I have a ten gallon tank that is about 4-5 months old. I have a big green algae problem. It grows all over my tank glass and I have to clean it every two weeks because it comes back that fast.
<Algae is a symptom rather than a problem. In a balanced aquarium, algae is not a problem at all. In my tanks, I scrape away the algae from the front glass every 2-3 months, but otherwise that's it. Nothing more. A sensible
number of fish, lots of fast-growing plants, and a few carefully chosen algae eaters (such as Nerite snails) is all you need. Tanks with persistent algae problems usually have other, more serious problems: overstocking,
inadequate water movement, insufficient water changes, or not enough light to keep fast-growing plants healthy.>
I not only want to know how to get rid of it for good but also I would like to know why and how it grows back so quickly and how I can prevent it. I know it is good for tank but still I would like to know.
Thank you,
<Do review conditions in your aquarium. You can't make algae go away permanently any more than you can stay healthy for the rest of your life just by taking a single tablet of medicine on the day you were born.
Keeping a tank algae-free is about balancing all the various environmental factors. See here:
<Cheers, Neale in the rain.>

Algae, FW, prob., reading   11/15/09
<Hello Brittney,>
I have an algae problem, but I'm not sure what kinds and how to fix it.
<Do start by reading here:
In general, algae isn't a problem and more a symptom. Algae thrives under specific situations: poor water circulation, overstocking, infrequent water changes, direct sunlight, lack of fast-growing plants. Almost always, by reviewing each of these and making the necessary corrections will prevent algae problems. You can then physically remove whatever algae is in the tank. Adding a few algae eaters (such as Nerite snails) can clean up minor spots of algae, but only if the underlying conditions are preventing major algae problems from developing in the first place. A very common mistake is to think adding a big algae eater like a Plec will fix things: it most certainly will not!>
One kind that I've noticed is white. It stands up-right on decorations, plants, and rocks and has little fingers at the end.
<Now, if this is white, it surely isn't algae, By definition, algae are coloured by the photosynthetic pigments in their cells. White threads or tufts are going to bacteria and/or fungi. These only develop in really dirty tanks that are grossly overstocked and note getting enough filtration or water changes. The exception here would be if you'd added some uncured bogwood, as this will sometimes sprout fungi as it cures underwater.>
The other kind is everywhere. It's a brown color, and grows pretty quickly.
<If we're talking about brown slime on the glass and solid objects, these are diatoms. They're most common in tanks with poor lighting and unstable water conditions. In healthy tanks they tend to cause minimal problems, and a combination of fast-growing plants and a few algae-eating snails should slow their growth down dramatically. In my tanks, I clean the front glass maybe once every 3-4 months!>
What kinds of algae are these, and how can I fix it?
<Do see the linked article above. Algae problems aren't so much "fixed" as "prevented", and for that bright lights and fast-growing plants are always part of the package. Floating Indian Fern is a good choice since it is completely undemanding in terms of substrate and water chemistry. It needs upwards of 1.5 watts per gallon to grow quickly, but once established, is a first-rate algae beater. Maintaining sensible stocking levels and offering regular water changes are also very important. The addition of algae-eating snails, shrimps, or possibly fish may be helpful, but by themselves these are rarely the instant cures retailers suggest. Indeed, if you think about it for a moment this makes sense: since animals are the things producing the nitrate and phosphate fertiliser algae consumes, adding any more animals, even algae-eating ones, will only speed up the rate at which algae can grow. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: algae  11/16/09
Dear Neale,
<Hello Brittney,>
I wrote in about an algae problem, and after reading I'm confused why I have one.
I have a 130 gallon tank stocked with 3 mollies, 4 large tetras, 7 Neons, about 8 guppies, 5 platys, 6 rainbows, 10 ghost shrimp, and around 40-50 new fry (which I plan on giving away/selling). I feed them flakes and supplement 2-4 times per week with beef heart, algae flakes, and dried bloodworms.
<All sounds dandy.>
I've had the tank set up since mid July, and fish since mid September. I've done 25% changes twice and with the most recent change (being about one week ago) I vacuumed the gravel.
I have a canister filter rated for an 150 gallon tank.
<Often manufacturers are optimistic on the tank rating -- think about how car manufacturers describe miles/gallon in terms of fuel consumption, or cereal producers how many servings per box. I prefer an objective measurement, turnover. For small community fish, you want a filter rated with a turnover four times the volume of the tank, i.e., in your case 4 x 130 = 520 gallons/hour.>
It has about four growing plants in it and two large aquarium lights. In addition to the live plants, I also have a 2 large and 2 small fake floating plants.
<Live floating plants are by far the best algae-beaters. Can't stress this point too strongly. Bob has written about his time in Japan working in a tropical fish shop, where custom was to place a piece of Indian Fern in each bag of aquarium fish. Since keeping the plant myself, I've learned why Bob is so enthusiastic about the species: it grows so fast it beats algae; it's to crop, so you can use it to physically remove nitrogen and phosphate; it's a perfect hiding place for female livebearers and their fry; and it's eaten by herbivorous fish such as Goldfish, Severums and Ameca splendens, making it an ideal "holiday food" as well as dietary supplement. I'd consider a clump of Indian Fern almost as essential as the heater or filter. Great thing about it is its cheap, too!>
I have a heater rated for an 150 gallon tank set at 79F.
<Little on the warm side for Neons and Platies.>
I also have an air pump rated for an 150 gallon tank that has two hoses going into a long bar that creates a bubble wall.
<Usefulness of these often misunderstood; while they add little/no oxygen to the system, they do help in terms of water circulation. But that said, these will drive off CO2, and that can be problematic in tanks with plants (underwater plants, rather than floating plants, which don't care). So there's a balance to be struck here.>
The room it's in has large windows with no shades, so it gets indirect sunlight all day as well.
I'm trying to think of everything, so that I can improve whatever is needed.
<How fast do your plants grow? Unless you're cropping back plants every week or two, your plants won't be combating algae. That's the real "secret" such as it is. No-one really knows why fast-growing plants deal with algae so effectively, but they do, and it's remarkable. I have a pretty generously 180-litre system with carnivorous fish and a large Panaque catfish, but hardly any algae in it thanks to a huge clump of Amazon Frogbit and Indian Fern. The only algae of any kind are diatoms on the glass, but these grow so slowly I scrape them off maybe once every few months. Yes, a Garra helps trim them back to a degree, but the bottom line is that fast-growing plants will "balance" the ecosystem in most tanks very, very effectively.>
When I set it up and for the first water change I added bacteria from a bottle that I bought at the LFS.
<Usually a waste of money.>
I also have a large rock that was in the tank when I bought it. It appears to have been meant for an aquarium, but I can't guarantee that. I did wash it, and the other three decorations I bought, before putting them into the tank. When I fill it I use the outdoor hose, but I always add a dechlorinator. I do put the hose into the tank a bit, I'm not sure if this is bad. When I set it up I added aquarium salt, but have since stopped since I read that it is basically useless.
This brings me to a question. Would be safe to add a bit of marine salt with the aquarium salt still in there?
<You can substitute marine salt mix for aquarium salt should you need to, and the two types won't "react" in a bad way with each other. But having said that, why? Most of your fish will resent the addition of salt, and it certainly won't fix algae problems. When using salt for therapy, e.g., for treating Ick, you want to use aquarium salt, not marine salt mix, because marine salt mix will alter pH and hardness, which you don't want.>
I read the article on algae before asking my first question, but it seemed to refer to something I don't have.
That's why I asked. I know it must be annoying having to answer questions that are already answered on your site, but after searching for an hour trying to find the type of gunk in my tank, I couldn't find anything.
<I see.>
I've been looking around for Indian Fern, but can't seem to find any locally. Does it go by a different name ever?
<It's Latin name is Ceratopteris thalictroides. Any half-decent online plant retailer should stock it.>
I'm also planning on getting some kind of algae scrubbing wand, so that I can scrub the sides.
<OK. To be honest, I use plastic pan scourers, but whether they're 100% safe I cannot say.>
I don't have anything meant specifically for circulation in my tank, could this be a problem?
<Not if the filter is sufficiently large. Some filters with the inlet and outlet at the same place (e.g., as is the case with internal canister filters and hang-on-the-back filters) may not have the "push" to circulate water all the way to the end of the tank. External canisters are better because you have the inlet at one end and the outlet (the spray bar) at the other end. But if your filter isn't like that, then arranging a big airstone or installing a powerhead at the end far away from the filter may be helpful.>
If it would help at all to send you photos I'd be more than happy to. I may sound extremely ignorant, but I don't feel that I should be having these problems as I tend to my tank daily..
<I agree.>
However, there is obviously something I'm doing wrong. Please help, I would feel terrible if this starts to affect my fish!
<Algae in itself isn't a disaster, but it can be a sign of underlying issues, so do review what's been said above. Feel free to write back and discuss further. Cheers, Neale.>

FW algae problem  11/13/09
Dear all,
I have a tropical fish tank with a capacity of 150 liters. The number of fish in my aquarium is below thirty (2 Corydoras, 2 angelfish, 3 Danio, 1 rosy barb, 6 mollies, 2 gold marble Bristlenose catfish, 5 three spot Gourami, 4 black tetras and 3 Siamese algae eaters).
<Quite a busy tank there, and some of your livestock choices are questionable. But I'm sure a fun aquarium to watch and play with.>
The lighting is 2 x 18W T8 (Sylvania Daylight Star + Sylvania Gro-Lux) which are on for 8 hours a day.
<Gro-Lux tubes tend to be of limited value when used with aquaria. Once popular, they are now very largely obsolete, even though they make the fish look pretty. I'd recommend just two warm white or bluish-white tubes. These penetrate the water better than the pink light from the Gro-Lux. You probably also need to leave the lights on for longer; 10 hours is about right.>
I feed the fish twice a day, a little bit in the morning and little bit in the evening. The filtering is with a canister filter, capacity 1100 liters / hour, the temperature is around 26 C. I change 10-15% of the water weekly and clean the filter monthly. The problem I am currently experiencing is a type of algae that has managed to cover all my plants, especially the Anubias.
<Anubias is an "algae magnet"! One problem is it is meant to grow in the shade, and if it isn't, it gets smothered. There are different types of algae. Have a read of my article here, and see which kind of algae you are dealing with.
The best general solution is to [a] provide strong light; [b] add some fast growing plants, such as floating Indian Fern; [c] add some Nerite snails and Cherry Shrimps; and [d] check there is good water current along the bottom of the tank.>
Please take a look at some pictures I took recently. Can you help me?
<Cheers, Neale.>

FW Algae control, Feeding and General Questions. 8/6/2009
<Hi Jamie.>
We have a new 26-gallon tank, about two months old that contains several fish. They are all very small fish and include:
4 Cory Catfish
6 Pearl Danios
4 Guppies
3 Rasboras (with black triangle on body)
All fish appear to be very happy and water readings have been great. We now have brown algae growing in various places in our tank. All over the plants (fake), filter, decorations, etc. Upon doing some research on-line we have found several recommendations to increase oxygen level, increase light or amount of time light is on, reduce food (probably overfeeding) & possibly add a Pleco to the tank.
<I agree with the first four, disagree on the Pleco.>
My questions are.
1. How do you increase oxygen level safely in the tank? Would adding a bubble bar help?
<Not as much as setting your filter to disrupt the surface of the water..>
2. I know I am probably overfeeding in getting used to the number of fish? How often should I feed and how much?
<Once a day is fine, and feed no more than can be consumed in 2 minutes or less.>
3. What about adding a Pleco. Are they compatible with the other fish in the tank? I know I was reading they are very territorial and to only have one per tank unless you add two at the same time.
4. How large to the Plecos get? Our largest fish is only about an inch and a half long. Would this be a problem?
<A Pleco will get too big for this tank. Depending on the species, up to 18 inches. (45cm)>
Thank you for all your help and for responding to peoples questions like this. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
<You don't mention your water testing results (ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate) You likely have an excess of nutrients in the tank. Doing 10 - 15% per week water changes, coupled with reducing the amount of food fed should go a long way in reducing the algae.>
<Have a look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaint.htm
and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oquality.htm >

Fresh water aquarium, Algae issues I have a fresh water aquarium that I set up a couple of months ago. I do my regular 1/4 water changes once a week and I can't keep my aquarium from turning green. <Oh? Quite common for aquaria to experience algal bloom within the first few weeks. Usually settles down.> I was given the aquarium by a friend and he used it as a salt water aquarium. It is a 75 gallon tank. I thought it might be the lights so I removed the blue lights and left the white ones. I tried replacing all the water twice and it still turns green. <How much light is there? If there is light but no plants, then algae will prosper. The more light, the faster the algae grow. Marine aquaria tend to have very strong lights because corals need a lot of light. Unless you have a lot of fast-growing plants, particularly floating plants, then algae can become a real problem if the same lights are used on a freshwater tank. Assuming you have "strong" lights (by which I mean upwards of 2 watts per gallon) I'd be sure and stock the tank with lots of fast-growing plants. Some good choices would be Hygrophila polysperma, Cabomba, Vallisneria, and as floating plants, either Indian Fern or the Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum). These will "use up" the light and inhibit algal blooms. It will take a few weeks for the rooted plants to become established, but floating plants usually settle in at once.> I am using the correct amount of water conditioner and salt. <Salt? In a freshwater tank? Unless you're keeping brackish water fish, there's no need to add salt, and good reasons not to.> I test the water myself and take a sample to the pet store also for testing and its always perfect. what can I do? <Cheers, Neale.>

FW green thread algae question... red algae... Cyano?   12/5/08 Crew, As always, thank you for any knowledge you can impart herein. I have a green thread algae problem. I have a 120g FW setup. Substrate is about 3" thick of a mix of equal parts pond soil (Schultz's), sand and eco-complete. Some gravel on top of that. A lot of Mopani wood. Plants include crypts, java fern, wisteria, water sprite, Anubias and swords. lighting is 6x54w t5 HO, 6500k bulbs, 3" from water surface, individual reflectors, 10 hours/day. Filtration is 2 overflow boxes to 1 1/2" drains, down into a 40g sump, which is about half full. The bottom of the drain pipes are always below the water surface. Those flow into 2 drain socks, which I change about every 3-4 days. They are pretty brown when I pull them, but not too clogged (I never got water pouring over the top of the socks). I run a DIY 'tube' off a Rio pump that is rated at 400gph no head. The tube is 4" in diameter, and roughly a foot long, filled with biomedia and some carbon. The tube has a screen pump side, then some poly floss to help get small particulates. I check the bio media every couple of weeks in there, but end up having to rinse out only every few months...the filter socks catch just about everything. The floss catches what little the filter socks don't. The sump also has a couple of heaters and thermometers, as well as a Quiet One 4000 return pump. By my calculations using the head less calculator on reefcentral.com, it is pumping about 600 gph (or roughly 5 times the water volume when calculating about 100 in the main tank and 20 in the sump). The returns are split left and right, with wide nozzles, pointing down away from the surface (trying to minimize surface disturbance and CO2 loss). I have no CO2 supplement currently, although I am trying to figure out a way to do it DIY...which isn't easy for a 120g tank (can't fit a 5g bucket with water, sugar and yeast under my tank!!! :) ) As off 3 weeks ago, inhabitants were as follows: 6 signifer rainbows, 1 to 1 1/2" 7 harlequin Rasboras, 1" 6 turquoise rainbows, 1 1/2 to 2" 6 Irian Jaya rainbows, 1 1/2 to 2" 5 Congo tetras, 2" 2 roseline barbs, 2" 2 golden nugget Plecos, 4" and 3" 1 queen arabesque Pleco, 2" 1 king tiger Pleco, 3" 1 spotted prawn, 5" body (but surprisingly mellow and non-confrontational) 3 albino Corys 3 sterbai Corys 1 tinanti cichlid (also very mellow, not overtly territorial) a few mystery snails and some unidentified hitchhiker snails (brown shells, get about 3/4" in diameter) I know - a lot of stocking, but it is a big, deep and tall tank. I then pulled the Rasboras and signifer rainbows out - didn't like the look. Too 'busy.' I was right - the tank looked a lot better after pulling them out. At the same time, I also changed my feeding routine from every day to 3-4x per week. I feed mostly black worms, with some flake and blood worms mixed in. Whatever I feed is consumed within 1 minute. I also put some cucumber and zucchini in there from time to time, and it looks like the Plecos munch on it. I throw some wafers in the tank at night, as well as some Spirulina flakes. I also hooked up a Fluval 405 canister filter with the filter pads, some filter floss, and some more biomedia. I did this to try and polish the water (however, it didn't really make a difference). Also put in 4 led moonlights. All fish are growing very well and are well behaved. The plants are doing okay - green, but not growing much, with the exception of the wisteria, which is doing well. I don't know what the limiting factor(s) is/are...could be ammonia (biomedia too productive), nitrate or CO2. With those plants, I don't think that 330w of t5 HO lighting is an issue. Tank is about 7 months old. Water parameters have been constant for many months - 7.5-7.6ph, 77-80*F, 55-70alk, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and less than 5 nitrates. Even when I went on vacation and didn't change any water for 2 weeks, the nitrates still were about 5ppm. Phosphates are present, between 1 and 4ppm (the API drop test isn't the best quality). TDS, if it matters, is usually in the 200-250 range. Water changes are typically every week, somewhere between 30-40%. I use a mix of RO/tap to get the parameters I am looking for. Problem - I've always had a trace of green hair/thread algae, but it has just been that - a trace. nothing every more than 1/2" long, and that was rare. I don't physical remove..something gets it (snails would be my guess). But after pulling the fish from the tank, changing the feeding routine as well as putting in the Fluval, it is getting much worse. It is now attaching to the glass with little black dots, and it is starting to grow rather long, and is very pronounced. Any thoughts? Less food and less fish should mean less waste, which means less ammonia, less phosphate and less nitrates, right? My tests don't show any significant changes. Could it be the additional flow with the Fluval? The moonlights? The substrate (yeah, I know, that is a lot of substrate)? I've always been one to let the tank adjust to changes, and it usually works out just fine. Does anything stand out to you? thanks Paul <Paul, the short answer is you have red algae (the long threads) and these are very difficult to shift once mature. As you understand, few fish eat mature red algae threads, at least, not the sorts of fish you'd want to keep in an aquarium! Moreover, unless you remove the infected leaves, there's no manual way to reduce red algae problems. Red algae is most common in tanks that are heavily stocked and with relatively high levels of nitrate/phosphate. The "antidote" is bright light and lots of fast-growing plants. You'll have to physically remove the existing red algae, but once the fast-growing plants are established (which will take a few weeks) they will have an allelopathic effect, minimising red algae growth. Certain fish will nibble on new growths, particularly things like Crossocheilus siamensis and Jordanella floridae. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: FW green thread algae question  12/5/08
Is 330 watts of t5 at 6500k enough light? and what plants would be best, considering I don't use co2 supplement. something like Anacharis? more wisteria? the floating plants don't do so great because of the overflows. maybe some duckweed? thanks Paul <Paul, do please check you use capital letters where required! One of the (few) house rules! As for lighting, "strong" lighting is somewhere around 2.5 to 4 watts per gallon, but this does depend on various factors such as the depth of the tank. If your tank is much over 60 cm/24 inches in depth, you need to be generous with the lighting because only a fraction will reach the bottom of the tank where the plants are. In any case, while you can estimate how much light you'll need up to a point (typically, 4 tubes running the full length of the hood works well with light-hungry plants) -- eventually it all comes down to trial and error! It's usually best to over-estimate the light requirement and then cut out some light with floating plants. As for the plants that have the best allelopathic effect, almost anything that grows fast should do the trick. Hygrophila, Cabomba, Egeria, Ceratophyllum, Ceratopteris thalictroides and so on all work well. Funnily enough, under some conditions Vallisneria seems to be a hair algae-magnet, at least in my experience. Generally what doesn't work is anything slow growing: Crypts, Java moss, Java fern, Anubias, etc. Floating plants can be great, but Duckweed does need regular culling otherwise it does take over. (I just spent an hour this morning doing precisely this; while Duckweed is great for optimising water quality, and provides lots of cover for my baby halfbeaks, it needs to be managed.) Limnobium might be a better, easier to manage alternative, and a great choice for moderating over-bright light for those plants (such as Anubias) that aren't wild about such things. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: FW green thread algae question  12/5/08
My apologies about the 'caps.' I will endeavor to meet the house rules. :) <Cool.> With lighting, I have 6 T5 HO tubes, and with the depth of substrate and gravel, the bottom is about 20" from the surface. I will hope that is enough (adding more will be difficult, both with space and money). <I'd have thought this amount of light would be ample. Indeed, you may have algae problems precisely because there's lots of light but nothing using it up.> I will try some of the plants you have listed, particularly the Limnobium. Cheers. Paul <If you can pop over to Berkhamsted, you can have some of my Limnobium! It's doing rather well! Otherwise, a good value floating plant. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: FW green thread algae question  12/5/08
Ah, and a question I forgot to ask - are there any plants that I can use for nutrient export that do not require lighting or very minimal lighting? <None. The point to nutrient export is it's all about turning nitrate into protein. The more a plant grows, the more protein it makes. Given the rate at which fish pump out ammonia, only fast-growing plants will have any impact. It's the same reason why mangroves don't substantially reduce nitrate in marine tanks: they're growing too slowly.> I have the sump beneath, and could use it for that purpose (although I'd prefer not to). Paul <Using "vegetable filters" external to the main aquarium can work extremely well, but it's an approach that works better in the lab than the home. See for example the book 'Dynamic Aquaria' for discussions thereof. Outdoors, things become much easier, and unfiltered ponds work precisely because the plants and algae absorb the ammonia before it can poison the fish. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: FW green thread algae question  12/5/08
"<If you can pop over to Berkhamsted, you can have some of my Limnobium! It's doing rather well! Otherwise, a good value floating plant. Cheers, Neale.>" At this time of year, I am staying in San Diego and avoiding anything north! <<RMF too... it's ding dang cold, even in Mira Mesa!>> Thanks again for the help. Your explanation of needing fast growing plants makes sense...something needs to get the ammonia and nitrate out of the water fast, and the plants I have (Anubias, java fern, swords) just can use it fast enough. With a plant that could use it faster, it will compete with the algae, and hopefully starve the algae out. <It's a trifle more complex than this, with fast-growing plants actually producing chemicals that kill algae, and thereby keep their leaves clean in habitats where they'd otherwise be smothered by algae. If you think about it: how do plants keep themselves algae-free in the wild?> I've had duckweed in the past and don't mind the pruning. With a tank that size and with a moderately heavy fish load, I am cleaning the glass a few times a week and changing water once a week. Pruning out duckweed isn't a big deal. Cheap plant, delicate looking (rather pretty I dare say) and fast grower...good combination. <I like Duckweed too; and as a nitrate remover it's unbelievably good. But in some tanks it can cause problems. That said, it is pretty, and as one of the two or three smallest flowering plants known to science, a definite curiosity as well. Like cockroaches, starlings and rats, we often ignore the sheer brilliance of organisms we consider "pests" without appreciating just how well they work.> Paul <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: FW green thread algae question  12/5/08
<It's a trifle more complex than this, with fast-growing plants actually producing chemicals that kill algae, and thereby keep their leaves clean in habitats where they'd otherwise be smothered by algae. If you think about it: how do plants keep themselves algae-free in the wild?> Are you referring to Alleochemicals? <Yes indeed!> By the way, have you ever read Walstad's book on planted aquaria? Interesting read. <Nope; aware of it, just never read it. I'm a low-tech planted aquarium guy: I buy a bunch of plants, throw them in, and pull out whatever doesn't do well. Mostly, my herbivorous catfish puts a limit on how fancy my planted tank can be!> Paul <Cheers, Neale.>

HELP!! FW? Algae... no data of use or reading  9/24/08
Hi, my aquarium has been turning a really dark dark green (you can't see ANYTHING if you look across from it). It turns that green in only 2 days...I changed the entire water and it lasted for 5 days at he most but then it turned green again. The fish don't seem to mind at all but I do. I've seen little insects (like fleas) around the inside glass of the aquarium (they don't go in the water). Pleas help!!
<Help yourself. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm
and the linked files above.
Bob Fenner>

Fish tank inquiry, algae   9/1/08 Dear Crew, <Hello,> A part of the wall in my fish tank is covered with little brown and sort of green dots. Is it algae or something else. <Likely algae; if moving about, then possibly planarians. In either case harmless, though planarians thrive best in dirty tanks where there's stuff for them to eat.> Also, the tips and leaves on some of my artificial plants have brown stuff smeared on them. The same brown stuff is on some areas of my gravel bed as well. Is it just algae or dirty stuff? <Algae.> I do water changes often but they still remain. After I was the brown stuff off it comes back even with lots of water changes. Thanks <Golden-brown, slimy algae is typically diatoms, and these are a particular pest in tanks with poor lighting and variable water quality. Adding additional lights so that you can install fast-growing plants usually deals with diatoms pretty briskly, and most snails, but especially Nerites, will eat them. Red algae (despite the name) looks dirty green and usually forms tufts, often on the edges of leaves. Again, this implies poor lighting because the plants can't grow fast enough to hold back the algae. High nitrate and phosphate tend to favour red algae. Finally, there's blue-green algae (and again, despite the name) can appear in a variety of colours. It's very slimy and has a nasty musty smell when removed from the water. This is VERY strongly associated with tanks that have poor water quality (high nitrate/phosphate) and not enough water flow. A little algae is no problem, but if algae become a pest, covering the gravel and plants, then you need to figure out what's favouring them, and act accordingly. A photo of your mystery brown spots will help, as will data on the tank, especially size, filtration, water quality, and lighting. Cheers, Neale.>

Re:  Fish tank inquiry, algae  -09/02/08 I just wiped away the brown spots today when I was cleaning the tank, so I am unable to supply a photo. Sorry. My tank is 26 gallons bowfront, with a fluorescent light 15 watts, Aqueon 30 power filter, and the Ph is slightly acidic. The temperature is 78 degrees F, and the ammonia/nitrate/nitrite levels are stable. It uses plastic plants so the algae won't be taken away unless I wipe it away. Will anything other than snails eat it? <If the algae can be cleared away with a wipe, best do that then. In all honesty, it'll work better and more cheaply. Adding algae-eating fish increases the nitrate and phosphate, speeding up the rate at which algae grow. If you're unlucky, you'll end up with real nuisance algae like blue-green algae that isn't easy to shift. Nerite snails are great for lightweight algae removal and have a low impact on water quality. Adding floating plants often helps by cutting down the light and removing nutrients from the water. But your tank has so little light -- barely half a watt per gallon -- I don't think even hardy species like Indian Fern will grow. The dim light is certainly going to work in the favour of diatoms rather than "pretty" algae like green algae. Diatoms aren't as fussy about light intensity as other types of algae. In short, there's really no easy solution here beyond simple application of a sponge to the glass once a week! Cheers, Neale.>

Algae... where is it? FW   7/22/08 Hi, I have three guppies in a 20 gallon tank. I would like to add a couple more. However, I have a question. I have no algae in my tank. I was told this means I have an unhealthy tank. <Wouldn't worry about it. You almost certainly do have some, just not much, and the Guppies will eat much of it anyway.> Why would no algae form? I don't know if any of this makes a difference, but I do turn the light on for them during the day and they are in a room that gets natural light through a door with a window that faces the side of the tank and indirectly through windows. Thanks. <All sounds fine. If the water quality and water chemistry are good, I'd not worry too much about the lack of algae. Enjoy your tank. Cheers, Neale.>

Nuts!!! Algae *ell in freshwater, planted 75g. tank!!! reading   6/26/08 ...I don't really expect an answer BUT after reading your info. on WWM, I still cannot find an answer as to why algae is running amuck in my barely 2 month old freshwater planted tank? I have about 20 Otos which when bought, was assured they would take care of the problem; NOT. <Depends... on the type/s of algae... many are unpalatable, some even toxic> ...I have had freshwater and saltwater tanks for years and have never had the mess I have with this new tank. OMG!! Why did I think this was going to be easy? <You tell me> ...I am a 61yr, still working 40 hr week, <Yikes... hope you enjoy the work> female and want to address this problem and ASAP would be nice. Im getting ready to yank out the plants, give the fishes away, remove the substrate and send this 75g nightmare to tank heaven; otherwise known as the garage. PLEASE, can you help or advise or pray or something? D.L. Sanders --...it's belief that gets us there... Dodie <... Need info re set-up, water quality tests... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/AquariumGardenSubWebIndex.html scroll down to "Algae Matters". Bob Fenner>

Green water, lights out, chemical savior? FW  6/19/08 Hi again crew, <Hello> I know there are tons of articles on "green water" algae blooms on your site, but can't seem to find the specific advice I'm looking for... <Ok> My tank is a 55g FW, new setup, lightly planted so far. Lighting is 260W of CF, and I'm using CO2. Cycling was done with the aid of Bio-Spira and a couple of hardy paradise fish. Ammonia, NO2, NO3 are all 0, and except for a brief and barely noticeable "spike" in NO2 they've been reading 0 all along thanks to the Bio-Spira. GH is around 5 dGH. KH maybe a bit high at 5 dKH? pH at 6.8 - 6.9 depending on if the lights are off or on. <Sounds nice.> I'm pretty sure know what caused the bloom-- I cleverly dosed the tank with nitrogen fertilizer, thinking that since I had very few fish to produce nitrates, my plants would appreciate some vittles. I used half the recommended dosage, but 2-3 days later I had 55 gallons of pea soup. Tank was just too sparsely planted to use up the nitrogen, I guess. <Probably> I tried turning off the lights for 1 whole day, which actually cleared up the water amazingly well. But after 2 days with the lights back on, the bloom was back with a vengeance. <Expected> So, my questions are: 1. Will keeping the light off for 2 days straight be likely to deal a more long-lasting blow to the algae? <nope, need some water changes to remove the excess nutrients.> 2. Will 48 hours of darkness significantly harm my plants-- a variety, including some crypts. <Doubtful> 3. Would it be as effective (and kinder to the plants) to have the lights on for a short part of the day -- if so how many hours would you recommend? <I would leave as is, light is not what is fueling the bloom.> 4. I thought read something in your FAQs about using potassium permanganate, but is that safe for fish (at a dose that will put a dent in the algae)? <I would skip it, nutrient control is the answer here, water changes will help greatly.> Thanks! <Welcome> -Dave <Chris>

Algae, wood use, using WWM  -- 06/02/08 HI Crew, My question is that I have a 125 gal. fresh water tank. I have noticed light and dark green spots all over the gravel. my temp is 81 deg. soft water ph 6.5 .Does this pose a threat or do I need to get it treated. and how. can you use any driftwood for fish tank. Thanks For Al l You Do. Darby Woody. Morganton NC. <...? Please see WWM re Freshwater Algae, Drift/wood use. Your answers and more are already posted. http://wetwebmedia.com/ Bob Fenner>  

Need FW Algae advice   5/30/08 Hi Bob and Sabrina and Crew, long time no talk. Hope all is well. <Gage, howzit?> I have a problem with brown diatom algae in my Goldfish tank. I cannot shake it and am looking for advice. I suspect the problem is related to my lighting, either too much or too little. Here are the facts: No3= ~10ppm No2= 0ppm GH= ~150ppm KH= ~300ppm PH= 7.8 Ammonia= 0 Silicate in tank= between .03 and .1 ppm Silicate in source water= between .5 -1ppm <Mmmm> The tests (besides ammonia and Silicate) were taken with a dip strip. I am too cheap to buy a nice kit because it is rare that I test my water. The tank is a 36gal corner which houses 3 goldfish that are a little smaller than golf balls. It is about 18" from the sand to the surface of the water. The light is a Coralife 24" T5 plant light which contains 1 6700k bulb and 1 "color max" full spectrum bulb, both are 14watts. The bulbs are about 5 months old and are lit on a timer for 8 hours a day. I am using an Eheim Pro canister filter filled with bio media, a couple filter pads and some carbon. The carbon runs for about 3 weeks then gets tossed. I have 4 Anubias, 4 Java fern, one fast growing plant whose name I do not recall, a bunch of giant duckweed floating around and some elodea for the fish to munch during the day. I feed 10 pellets of New Life Spectrum goldfish pellet once a day. I do weekly water changes of 40%ish and de-chlorinate with Prime. I add nothing to my tap water besides Prime. <I'd skip this altogether. I don't use any dechloraminator with my goldfish under similar cond.s> I have never had algae that does not go away eventually but I just cannot get rid of this stuff, it covers my rocks, plant leaves, and glass. The tank has been running for about 5 months. I think I have included everything except for the color of my fish. Let me know what you think. Best regards, Gage <Mmm, well... you could get more "serious" re chemical filtration... perhaps try to make something like soluble phosphate more limiting... and/or use a higher percentage of RO or other filtered water... or add yet some more competing green plant/s, like (my fave) Ceratopteris... These are about all that I would consider. You might try writing Sab directly as well (she doesn't frequent the WWM specifically, but nowadays runs our new bb). Good to hear from you! Bob Fenner>

Re: Need FW Algae advice  05/30/08 Thanks Bob I will try some or all of the suggestions. no dechloraminator? Doesn't that cause dead fish? <Mmm, no... or not necessarily. IF there is "enough" other material for the chlorine/chloramine and its derivatives to interact with, there is actually little cause for concern. In fact, in years past, "Chloramine T" was a fish remedy! Bob Fenner>

Black coloured algae in tank -05/15/08 Hi I have a 3Ft tank with African Cichlids in it. My water has always looked great... last week my Electric yellow died for no apparent reason and the same day I noticed lots of fry in the tank. Did she die during childbirth? <Unlikely. Perhaps she starved to death, since they can't eat while mouthbrooding, which is why you *must* isolate the females for several weeks (ideally months) to "fatten up" before placing them in a tank with males of their species. If she died, the fry could easily have swum out.> I removed the fry and then all of a sudden this creamy/brown slimy stuff appeared everywhere. I did a water change, taking out almost half the water, the tank seemed fine for a few days and then all of a sudden the tank is now very cloudy with black soot looking algae? all over the rocks, gravel and plants (all artificial). <Doesn't ring any bells I'm afraid. Blue-green algae is notorious for suddenly appearing, but is very distinctive in appearance. The usual "black" algae is hair algae, actually a dark reddish-green, but again, it is very distinctive.> I cant seem to find any info when I Google images for black looking algae, nothing looks like the stuff in my tank. yesterday I vacuumed the tank, took out and cleaned the plants and rocks and its all back again just as bad as yesterday. <A photo would help. But by default, here are the things you do: First check water parameters, at minimum nitrite and pH. Secondly clean the filter, obviously taking care not to harm the bacteria but otherwise rinse out any detritus. Finally, do a big (75%+) water change and give the gravel a deep stir and siphon while taking out the water.> Thanks in advance for your help. <Cheers, Neale.>

Lighting Freshwater Aquarium/ Algae Control 5/12/08 Greetings to the Crew. <Tom> Simple question, I think. I am trying to gain control over an algae (BBA) problem in my 180 FW tank. I use bio-ball filtration. I do a 40 gallon per week water change. I have 20 boesemanni rainbows and 4 clown loaches and a couple of Cory cats. I feed judiciously. Anyway, after selectively killing large chunks of the BBA with a feeding syringe of 3% H2O2 (being careful to keep from directly hitting fish), I now want to kill it off the rest of the way. What do you think of only lighting one half of the tank? <It will deplete the algae in the non-lit half and spur more in the lit half.> That way, the rainbow fish could hang in the lighted part when they wanted to, and the loaches would be comfortable in the darkened side. I would still cycle the lighted side in regular day-night pattern. Do the fish 'need' more light? <No.> There are no plants in this aquarium. The lights I have are two T-5 strips (50 watts, I think for each.) <The fuel source for the algae is coming from somewhere, water used in water changes/feeding. You will need to track it down, otherwise you are treating symptoms and not the problem.> Thanks Tom <Welcome, a link and related FAQ's pertaining to your issue below. Good luck, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwalgcontrol.htm

Questions. Always with the questions. FW Algae learning   4/25/08 I have a l55 gallon freshwater tank that's currently inhabited by 13 Neon Tetras and 3 Platies and a number of live plants. I know this isn't the best combination of fish, but I didn't realize that when I started out and bought the poor buggers. Eventually I'll separate the Neon's into a smaller plant less tank (with some Cory's too), but not until I've fixed the problems in the current one. By problems, I mainly mean a persistent algae bloom that I can "control" through frequent water changes and the heavy use of a diatom filter. Basically, I do a 30% to 40% water change, pop in the filter, leave it in for a few days and then take it out. A few days after that, when the algae bloom is really starting to gain ground again, I repeat the process. <Ahhh> I've taken the following actions to control the algae bloom. They all seem to work a little bit, but none of them by themselves or in concert vanquishes the green stuff. - Repeated dosing with Algaefix, an algaecide by API. <A poor idea...> This worked to an extent but never eradicated the bloom entirely. I can get better effect by using the diatom filter, so I've stopped with the Algaefix dosing entirely. <Good> - Restriction of the fish to an every other day feeding cycle, and being stingy with the food on the day they get fed. Poor fish, they always seem so hungry. The idea here was that if the cause of the bloom was from excess nutrients in the water coming in via excess feeding, restricting the amount of food provided would reduce the level of nutrients to a point where the bloom would go away. - Reduction of the amount of light to the bare minimum necessary to keep the plants from dying. Originally I had two 40W Aqua-Glo fluorescent bulbs. I found that if I dialed the timer back to where the bulbs were only on 8 hours a day, the bloom would grow slowly enough that I could go nearly an entire week before it got to a point where the diatom filter was needed. I subsequently replaced one of the aqua-glo's with a sun-Glo (4200K) which is not supposed to have the correct wavelengths of light to stimulate photosynthesis so that I could leave the lights on for longer than 8 hours. The algae bloom is a bit stronger now, but that could be because of the longer days now that we're heading towards summer. - Frequent monitoring of the level of ammonia, nitrates, pH, KH and GH. I know from my monitoring that the tank's *pH* is a rock solid 7.8 and that the *ammonia and nitrate* levels are pretty much zero as near as I can tell (thanks to the algae, likely). <All good...> So, with all this information, I've been able to narrow down the source of the algae bloom to one of three causes. (1) The artificial lighting. The thing is, I know that most people with planted tanks have much higher light intensities than what my tank has, so the artificial lights cannot, by themselves be the source of the problem. If that was the case, then everyone who had a planted tank with a higher intensity than mine would be having exactly the same problem that I am. (2) Light coming in from a nearby window. I knew it wasn't a great idea, but I installed my tank near a window. The thing is, the window is underneath a second story deck and never gets direct light except during the summer and even then only in the hours before sunset. Even then, there's never direct sunlight on the tank. There's a window shade that, while not opaque, does reduce the intensity of the light that does come in. So, it's entirely possible that the source of my problem is the light coming in from the window and the only solution is to move the tank. Boy, I really don't want to do that. (3) The third possibility is that there's too much phosphate in the water. I went out and bought a phosphate test kit and found that my tank water has a phosphate concentration of around 0.5 ppm. <This is high> I thought this was odd, as I hardly feed my fish at all and do frequent water changes. Besides, the algae does a great job of keeping the nitrate levels down near zero so why wouldn't it do the same with the phosphate? <Not a/the rate-limiting factor... is in excess relatively> In a flash of insight I thought to check my tapwater, and lo and behold it has a phosphate concentration of 0.5 ppm. <Ah, yes> So, I have a couple of courses of action and I wanted your advice on a couple of things. As I see it, I can move the tank to as far from a window as I can get it and I can buy some sort of system to get rid of the phosphate in the tapwater. <Is what I'd do, in addition to... boosting competition with the use of other photosynthates... plants> I'd prefer to do neither, but before I do either I want to know if one is contributing more to the problem than the other. So, here's my questions for you folks: (1) Is a phosphate concentration of 0.5 ppm by itself enough to cause a persistent algae bloom like I'm describing? <Mmm, along with other factors, yes> (2) There's this stuff out there called Phos-Zorb. The idea is that I can put it in a filter and use it to pull all the phosphates out of the water in the tank. If I then maintain the water level of the tank with distilled water for a while, I should be able to see whether removal of the phosphate alone takes care of the problem. Is doing this with the Phos-Zorb a good idea, or am I somehow going to kill my fish or something by using this stuff? <Better to go the longer-haul-fix of getting, using a blend of RO water... and for you to use the RO as well for your drinking, cooking purposes> (3) If removal of the Phos-Zorb takes care of the problem, what sort of RO/DI system do I need to get. <Mmm, just a "cheapy" from a large hardware store... learning to divert the "stored" water nightly to a container for water change use...> I gather that an RO system by itself doesn't remove Phosphates and that I need a specific resin to take care of phosphates, but I can't really tell from your FAQ's what specifically I want. Here in the NW we have extremely soft water. I have to add salt to the water I put in the tank to keep the Platies alive. Otherwise, they die quite quickly. <Mmm... I'd look into other means of raising the bar here... on alkalinity> Anyhow, thanks in advance for your advice. You guys were great when I was having problems (the soft water issue) with my platies a few months ago. Regards, Aaron Cooke <A bit more reading on the use of simple aquatic plants (perhaps just Ceratopteris floating... or Myriophyllum... the RO device, time going by, perhaps a bit more circulation, mechanical filtration (the addition of a large hang on or canister filter...) I wouldn't get into the chemical filtrant habit. Bob Fenner>

Tank questions about 2 different tanks... Endogenous algae prob.s/SW, Piranha tank plant sel.   04/14/2008 Hello, <Hi there> Tank- 200 gal (7'Lx2'Wx2'H), 130+ pounds LR, 40 gal refugium plus a large hang-on refugium, 3-XP3's canisters, 2 Rio 2100 (694gph) and 3 Penguin 1140 (300gph) power heads on sides and back of tank. And a Coralife 220gallon Protein Skimmer.\\ <Mmm, I'd upgrade> Fish- 8" Russell's Lionfish, 3 triggers Niger, Humu, and a Bursa all 4", 2 yellow Tangs 4", 5" Foxface Lo, and a 13" Wolf Eel. I also have a lot of Red Mushrooms, Button coral, and 2 different leathers. And I do a 30gal water changes (w/ RO water) every 2-3 weeks. This tank has been up and running for over 3 years. I get brown algae out breaks, I also have green (hair) fuzz algae on most my rocks and back and sides of tank. I was told since I clean my canisters once a month (not often enough), <This is so... I'd clean them at least weekly> that the entire gunk they collected just creates more Nitrate, lots. What I should do is over time keep the skimmer and get rid of the canisters and add more power heads for more current so that the LR (and refugiums) can do there jobs. (20gph times your tank size ((4000gph)), so I need 1720gph more in my aquarium) Does that sound alright? <A beginning...> I do use Chemi-pure and Phos-Zorb in each filter. I also test water a Reef Master Test kit. My Nitrate and Phosphate are both low and are in the safe ranges but they both show up, always have. <These measures of nutrient ability are not entirely "accurate"... the real bulk of this matter is being expressed, taken up by the algae and BGA (the brown stuff)> I also have allot <Won't correct this time... a lot> of this bright yellowish-greenish sponge (Cecilia I think) <Not this feminine appellation; though a fave Simon and Garfunkel tune> growing on my LR. Is it bad or good? <Mmm, more of the latter> I'm setting up a 90gal (4'Lx18"Wx2'H) FW, I'm going to get 3 baby Red Belly piranhas. I do plan on having plants growing out the top of my aquarium. Just the roots will be in the tank. So with that said should this set-up be OK for 2-3 adult size Red Belly piranhas in the long run? And what kind of plants besides Bamboo should I use? <Yes and if only one, my fave, Ceratopteris> Thanks for all your advice Matt Owens <Welcome. I'd get a better skimmer, perhaps ditch the canister filters altogether, or clean out weekly as stated... add more/new live rock... and likely skip the Serrasalmines (too skittish and boring as you'll see)... Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Green Water -- 03/18/08 Hey there! My RES is a little over 6 years old and everything has been going great!! All of a sudden after the last water change my water has turned green! So green that I cant see my turtle swimming in tank, and that can't be fun for him either! He's no where near the window so there is no direct sunlight and the tank is as clean as it could possibly be! Is there any other things that it could possibly be??? Thanks Hillary <This is, as you seem to suspect, algae. It means you aren't doing enough water changes and the filter is inadequate to the task. Sunlight + nutrients in the water = algae. So do more water changes, and upgrade the filter. For terrapins, you need a filter providing not less than six times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, and I'd recommend at least 8-10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. A bigger tank will also help by diluting the problem. Nothing else will work. While the terrapin likely doesn't care about the algae as such, the fact you have algae at all indicates poor environmental conditions, and long term that opens you up to healthcare issues that are expensive to treat and painful for the animal. Cheers, Neale.>

Redfield Ratio for algae control   2/26/08 I love your website. This is my first question, and I'm a little apprehensive that you may have answered it previously and I failed to find it. I tried... <No worries> What do your experts think about use of the "Redfield ratio" as a metric to guide water chemistry for the control of algae? <An interesting observation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redfield_ratio re a proportionality of principal bio-elements in the sea and the phytoplankton there> I have a 110 gal planted freshwater tank that's been up and running for 9 months. I use RO water to replace evaporation and to keep GH and KH where I want them. I inject CO2 to control pH and nourish plants. I rarely change water, but I have zero measurable ammonia, nitrate or nitrite. I have never tested for phosphates. Plants and livestock are doing well. I do have to work to keep algae under control. I've reduced lighting -- which helped. I still get hair algae which I remove manually as best I can; what I think is black algae which grows in clumps and seems to like my bogwood; and the uniform short green "fur" that grows on flat surfaces under direct light. <Can be bugaboos> What I've read about Redfield ratio seems to make sense. I haven't seen any specific guidelines for how to keep the nitrate: phosphate ratio at 16:1 which supposedly is the magic number. Have any of your experts used Redfield ratio? <I have not> What are their impressions? <Well... limiting "something" (typically soluble phosphate) IS a general approach to limiting pest algal growth... but some HPO4 is absolutely necessary for your "real" plants...> Any easy rules of thumb or products for adjusting nitrate and phosphate or am I on my own to figure it out? <Is an interesting speculation... but I don't think trying to establish this ratio in a captive system is going to work... However, there are other means... of mediation (anaerobic bacterial most celebratedly)... I do encourage you to read about, seek out a useful phosphate test kit... measure your source water, the system... Though bear in mind that these are dynamic patterns... the "amount" of phosphate available is not going to "show" as much is bound up in the algae, your plants, mulm to a smaller extent... and being added via feeding on your part on a regular basis> Thanks for your patience, assistance and a great resource. Mark in Easton, KS. <Thank you for your sharings. Bob Fenner>

Beneficial bacteria, reading re FW algae/BGA    2/26/08 Hello. How are you today??? <Fine; and you?> Im e-mailing you because I have a question (obviously.) Anyway, I have a 45 gallon tank with cichlids and a whisper power filter. However, there are mushy stringy slimy things growing in the "net" thing in my power filter. Is this gooey stuff supposed to be the beneficial bacteria? <Mmm, not likely... Is probably algae, perhaps a type of algae amongst a group that is bacterial... Cyano...> Or is it just dirty stuff I need to clean out? What does the beneficial bacteria look like? Last, how do you clean the filter without killing too much beneficial bacteria? Thanks a ton. -Dave <Read a ton: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwbgafaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Algae problems, FW   2/21/08 Good day Crew, Here is my hoping that you may be of help to me. My girlfriend and I have a 55 gallon tank that has Two Jack Dempseys as its inhabitants. The male being 9 inches the female bout 7 inches in length. These fish were raised (believe it or not) on dry Cat food and are two of the most colorful Jacks that I have ever seen anywhere. A while back say 4 months ago I added a Corallife power compact 110 watt light that I had from and old Salt water setup. The light contains twin 55 watt 50/50 bulbs, actinic /10k. In the last couple of months a green fast growing algae has begun to invade and take over the tank. I have tested the tank water and found 10 ppm nitrate and 1 ppm phosphate (Salifert). I have also tested the tap water used to maintain the tank and found it to be free from nitrate and or phosphate. I have stopped the Dry cat food feeding and started a more traditional method, Cichlid pellets. Also we have been doing weekly water changes and gravel vacuuming in an attempt to get a handle on this scourge. Filtration is an Emperor 400 with BioWheel running. Other that the obvious Cat food issue (possible source of PO4) and the odd lighting arrangement, what would be your guess as to the root cause of this sudden outbreak. thank you for any help that you may provide me. Mark <Hello Mark. Algae is always a problem in tanks without fast-growing plants. Without fast-growing plants, there's really nothing you can do about it. Sometimes the rate at which algae grows isn't very fast, but then you change something (e.g., replace the light bulbs) and suddenly it becomes more obvious. Direct sunlight is another trigger, and at certain times of the year your tank will be getting more sunlight than at others. Adding fast-growing floating plants like Amazon Frogbit or Indian Fern is the obvious way to tackle the problem head on. But otherwise, don't worry about it. Fish like algae, and virtually all cichlids eat at least some, so it's good to have it in the tank (especially if you plan on breeding your fish). Increasing water circulation can help as well. The easiest thing is simply to scrape away the front glass and leave algae to grow everywhere else. Cheers, Neale.>

Algae on My Snail, Causing Me Discomfort - 02/07/2007 <Hi there!  Mich here tonight.> My snail has algae all over it, it can't be good for it.   <It's really not detrimental to it.> What do I do? <If it really bothers you, you can remove it with a little manual manipulation, perhaps with a paper towel.  Hope that helps.  -Mich>

Unidentified algae, FW, reading  -- 1/26/08 Dear WetWebMedia, <Rachel> I have a question about my 20 gallon tropical fish tank. My question is about a weird type of algae that I can't identify. Here is what happens: first, I'll have just cleaned my tank completely because the algae gets so terrible and completely green, and then my tank will be fine for about two weeks until it starts to get really cloudy. <Mmm, not good... Very hard on your livestock...> After about a week or two of the cloudy water, the water starts to turn green. The algae isn't growing on any of the ornaments or anything, it just seems to be growing in the water. <There are "free floating" types...> It'll get so bad that I have to then clean it again. <Ahh, no> I don't know what I'm doing wrong because I haven't changed anything and the tank has been set up for two years and I've never had this problem. <Mmm, things unseen change, changing here... a dominant life, cycle establishing itself...> It isn't in sunlight and I don't have my light on any longer than I used to. <Good point> I have guppies, zebra danios, and platies in the tank, along with a Cory catfish. I don't overfeed them. I just don't know what to do anymore. I have a filter in there that is for 20-40 gallons. I just have no idea. Please help me out. Thank you so much. Sincerely, Amee <Likely adding some redundant filtration, circulation, possibly a chemical filtrant will help here... Perhaps a higher-plant competitor... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

UV TurboTwist 3x and Fluval 404... FW filtr., alg. contr.  - 1/24/08 Great site, very helpful! I've got a 55 gallon tank with two Aquaclear 50, each with a small piece of foam, and then filled with carbon. A Fluval 404, bottom two sections foam, top two Bio-max. <Hmm... I tend to consider carbon a waste of time in freshwater tanks. Here's my pop-quiz for you: what does carbon do that water changes don't do better? Bzzz... Nothing! Carbon in Old School fishkeeping from back when people avoided water changes, doing 25% per month or even less. Carbon removed the organics from the water, stopping it go yellow. Since we now do big water changes every week, the organics never reach a concentration where they cause problems to freshwater fish, so the carbon is redundant.> It's a healthy tank, with 9 Discus, from 2" to 4". Two Cory cats, a small Pleco, and a Tiretrack eel. I've added a Coralife Turbo-Twist 3x (9 watt) mostly for green water algae. <Green Water is not normally a problem in freshwater tanks. It's more a pond issue. UV filters have next to now effect on things like hair algae or the diatoms that cover the glass. Healthy plants are a far better way to deal with algae, to be honest.> Can I still run my Fluval at full blast? If I have to slow down the flow for the UV, how will that affect my biological filtration? <It's a Catch-22. If the water is pumped too quickly through a UV steriliser, the microbes aren't all killed. But canister filters need rapid water flow to keep the oxygen supply inside the canister adequate for the needs of the bacteria. Realistically, I'd always favour filtration above UV; I'd sooner have 100% biological filtration capacity but only 50% UV efficiency than the other way around. UV is undoubtedly useful in marine tanks, but in freshwater systems it's a luxury, so there's no need to squeeze out every drop of performance from the contraption. Regular water changes, rapid plant growth under strong lighting, and control of nitrate and phosphate levels will have a dramatically greater impact on fish health and algae control.> Thanks, Joe <Cheers, Neale.>

FW algae problem  1/14/08 Hello Crew, (Neale?) Thank you for great site. <Thanks for the kind words.> I have a question about my 20 g planted tank. Tank is about 4-5 months old. Fish: harlequin Rasbora(6) cardinal tetra(6) ram(3) <All nice fish, carefully selected by the looks of things.> Plants: Anubias, Vallisneria, water sprite Temperature-84 F NH3-0 NO2-0 NO3-5 ppm Light-2 w/g No CO2 <OK.> The problem is that the Vallisneria quickly grow to the top of the water and it looks to me like water sprite is dying because of the Vallisneria. <Vallisneria can, will dominate given the chance. You have to be fierce at pruning time, removing excess plants on a regular basis. Do also be aware that Vallisneria softens water, removing carbonate hardness. So rampant Vallisneria growth can have an impact on the water chemistry of an aquarium.> Before that the water sprite grow very nicely. Now algae is becoming a real problem. <Specifically, which sort of algae? Red algae (actually looks blue/green and forms long straggly threads) is a major problem with Vallisneria. It sticks to old leaves close to the surface. The only solution here is to remove infected leaves FROM THE BASE OF THE PLANT as soon as you notice the algae. Green algae (tufts of short, grassy looking algae) is generally less of a problem and is adequately controlled using snails, shrimps, algae-eating fish of various types. Anubias will always get covered in algae in brightly-lit aquaria. It has no ability to prevent this, and apparently wild plants live in shade, so these plants actually PREFER darker aquaria. In any event, the easiest way to deal with algae on Anubias is to wipe the leaves manually. Since Anubias is correctly attached to rock or wood, you can sometimes remove the plant (and its perch) to the kitchen sink, and wipe down the leaves carefully with your fingers under a gently running cold tap.> What options do I have stop algae grows? Can I add a few Oto cats to my tank? <If the algae is green algae, then Otocinclus may be an option, but they don't tend to do well in the warm water Rams need. They are also far from easy to maintain. So I'd tend to reject them in favour of something easier to look after. If your tank has neutral to slightly basic, moderately hard water then shrimps and snails are definitely good choices. Nerite snails won't breed and do an excellent job of eating algae, and the value of Amano shrimps and Cherry shrimps as algae eaters is well known. In acidic conditions, your best bet would be juvenile Ancistrus, though adults would be too big for your tank, or at least too disruptive. Ditto for Siamese Algae Eaters (Epalzeorhynchos kallopterus). Do remember that fish and invertebrates essentially manage soft green algae; they have little to no impact on brown algae ("diatoms"), red algae ("hair algae"), or blue-green algae ("Cyanobacteria").> Should I add some more plants? <Certainly worth a shot. Perhaps replace (or at least reduce) the Vallisneria planting in favour of reliable algae-beaters such as Hygrophila or floating plants like Ceratophyllum. Do also try other things: check the tank isn't receiving direct sunlight, and also try controlling the amount of light. A siesta period between light periods seems to harm plants less than algae. Set the timer for the lights to 5-6 hours on, 2 hours off, then another 5-6 hours on.> Thank you for your help Mark <Cheers, Neale.>

Am I right to let algae grow? 1/9/08 Hi there, Found your website the other day and I'm hooked (no pun intended!). <Glad you enjoy.> I've been reading various articles on the site about algae and the control of it. I have algae in my tank but have left it, let me go into a bit more detail. <OK.> I'm new to fishkeeping and bought a Rena Aquacube from Pets at Home, a good starter tank and all is well. I have 3 White Cloud Minnow - I did have 5 but 2 died, though they seem happy and content with just the 3 of them. 3's a crowd can't be described for these fish. I also have 2 platies. I have about 1 and a half inch worth of substrate and I have live plants which look very nice, despite the algae on them. <The Rena Aquacube contains 43 litres of water, or about 11 US gallons. This isn't much water, and well below what you really need for either White Cloud Mountain Minnows or Platies. On the other hand, WCMMs especially need to be kept in groups of at least 6 for long-term success.> I did have 3 types of plant but removed one type, sadly can't remember the name. This plant seemed to be causing most of the algae in my aquarium, plenty of hair algae too so my friend who used to keep fish advised I removed it to see if there was a change, which there was. I still get algae but not as much as what I used to. The fish seemed to liven up too. <Plants DO NOT cause algae; quite the reverse in fact, they are the ONLY thing other than manual removal that will reduce algae. If you have insufficient lighting (less than 2 watts per gallon) then plants won't grow, and in dying, they pollute the water, encouraging the growth of algae. Adding "algae eater" fish doesn't help either, because while they may trim back algae on some surfaces, they also pollute the tank in the process, speeding up the rate at which algae grows.> I bought some anti-algae stuff in a bottle but upon reading the rigmarole about how to use it I decided against it. <DO NOT USE THIS STUFF! Creates more problems than it solves.> I clean my tank weekly, but seeing as one of my Platy's (Phoebe) decided to give birth unexpectedly I've increased my cleaning routine to twice a week. However, algae still forms. I have a fake rock formation, made of plastic which is where the algae likes to form, also the glass gets green spots on which I remove with magnets. I clean the glass and use a gravel Hoover to suck up detritus (love that word!) and also clean the breeding net the fry are in. I have left the rock formation and has a good coating of algae but the water is still crystal clear. <Algae is basically harmless. What it tells you is that the tank is not "balanced" in the sense that there is more nitrate/phosphate in the system than the plants (or water changes) are removing. In tanks with lots of fast-growing plants (i.e., plants that need trimming every couple of weeks) you get virtually no algae, however much lighting the tank receives, and almost regardless of stocking levels. Strange but true. The mechanism is unknown for certain, though allelopathy probably has some role.> I just want to check to make sure that I'm ok in doing this. The 2 Platy eat the algae from the plants, rock formation and also suck it off the breeding net, I wouldn't say it is out of control but just wanted to know that I'm ok leaving algae in. <Platies do indeed enjoy algae.> Apologies for prattling on just for a simple question but I just like to make sure I'm doing the right thing and that I'm not harming my fish/aquarium by letting algae grow though not out of control. <No, no harm done.> Keep up the great work! <Thanks!> Adam <Cheers, Neale.>

... Corydoras repro... algae/"mold" poor English   12/16/07 hi WWM crew I've been keeping my tank maintained perfectly, its a 25 gallon community tank. but last week I noticed a lot of mold on the bottom so I started cleaning it and I got a snail. this week I noticed even more mold growing on the bottom. so I started cleaning it and I saw baby Cory catfish -.- just my luck probably sucked up a fee of them. so now what can I do to get rid of the mold and keep the babies safe, I probably have about 10 babies also I noticed some small worms wiggling around every once in awhile and fish eating them. Mmmmm? thanks for your help <Greetings. Assuming these are something easy to rear like Corydoras aeneus or Corydoras paleatus, your best bet is to move the fry to a floating breeding net/trap for the first month or so, and then to another tank. Corydoras fry grow quite slowly, but after about 2-3 months they are safely mixed with their parents. Cheers, Neale.>

... Corydoras repro... algae/"mold" poor English... bad to worse   12/16/07 this doesn't answer my question, what's going on with my tank? whys the mold growing and how do I get rid of it? and I cant move the babies since they are good hiders and they are big enough to be with their parents. <Feel free to say "thanks" and extend common courtesies such as using proper spellings, grammar, capital letters, etc. Certainly avoid taking the attitude that you paid for my services and I didn't deliver. The "house rules" for messages to WWM crew are on clearly posted on the FAQ address page, so there's really no excuse for not making an effort to be polite. Your bad manners dealt with, let's turn to your fishkeeping skills. Mould grows in dirty tanks and can't grow in clean tanks. Period. End of discussion. Moulds can't grow on clean gravel or bare glass because they can't find anything to eat there. If your aquarium truly has fungi growing along the bottom of the tank, then you have a lot of organic detritus there for them to eat. So clean and/or replace the substrate and keep in clean as part of your normal maintenance regime. Dirty tanks lead to high rates of fry mortality. When rearing fry "the cleaner, the better". Cheers, Neale.>

Big time algae problem... FW?  11/29/07 Hey, ladies and gentlemen! It's been awhile since any major problems, but I've got one now for you! I noticed a few weeks back that I started getting a "dark green/brown" algae on a lot of the rocks in my tank. It's pretty "stringy/grassy" I guess, maybe a few centimeters long, but it's getting out of control and looks terrible. Parameters seems to be ok, tank has been up and rolling strong for a good 9 months. I've also been keeping my tank around 79-80 or so with lights on for around 9 hours per day. Any thoughts on how to fix this nasty issue? Ps: your stuff is super helpful! <Aaron, it sounds like you have "hair algae", actually a kind of red alga despite its appearance to the contrary. In any case, it is one of the most difficult algae to shift once established. Essentially you have to physically remove what you can, and then use strong lights (2 watts per gallon upwards) to boost very rapid plant growth using fast-growing species like Hygrophila and Cabomba. The plants will (in ways not fully understood) suppress the growth the hair algae. There really aren't any fish that do much to destroy hair algae, though Siamese Algae Eaters will eat a certain amount if sufficiently hungry (i.e., not fed anything else for several days). Neither do snails or shrimps have much impact. As with any algae problem, adding "algae eaters" can (will!) increase the nutrient loading in the water, speeding up the rate at which the algae grow. The triggering factors for hair algae are typically low to mediocre lighting, moderate to high levels of phosphate and nitrate, limited water movement, and direct sunlight. If you have a fish-only tank with either no plants or only a few slow-growing species, then it's easiest to mechanically remove what you can and learn to love what's left. Fish happen to like the algae, and small fish and shrimps especially love foraging in the stuff for tiny bits of food. It's a natural part of the aquatic world, and can actually look quite nice when allowed to grow over dramatic rocks and big bits of wood. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Green water -continued  10/20/07 Hi Bob, (note: the previous message is attached below) I don't think that the problem is a lack of denitrification. Not to go against what you are saying because I wouldn't be writing if I didn't respect your advice... It's my fault because I didn't explain my situation correctly. <Okay> I do not have a high nitrate problem, which I believe would indicate a need for more denitrification. I use to have horrible nitrate problems (before June) until I changed to the new filter, and btw, when I said I had "bio-balls" I meant that I have round sintered glass beads ranging in size from 3/16" to 3/8" in size. <... different> In total I have 3 liters of them in the filter. <Great> In addition to the "beads", I have 1 liter of sintered glass tubes (rings?), a foam pad, and 2 fiber pads. My Nitrates will usually rise about 5ppm per week if I do not change out any water (is this normal, low or high?) <Is low-ish> Lately however, I have been changing out so much water (2-3 20% changes per week) that my nitrates are barely detectable. Still my water wants to turn cloudy green. <Interesting> I have been using a DE filter to clean the green out of the water, but when I am done you can see the problem returning within 8-12 hours. Understanding that the algae need nutrition, and since all other bases have been covered, could it be possible that there is a shortage of heterotrophic bacteria? <Yes... and Protozoans> Can algae feed directly on organic waste? Since I do not have the nitrate problem that I once had, I am wondering if my system is just not producing the ammonium that it should, but rather, is directly feeding the algae. If so, how does one address this issue? <A few approaches... again, more live plants, more substrate... other avenues of increasing the diversity of the habitat, surface area> Lastly, to put it all on the table to see what you think. In June I made several changes, which 1 or a combination of has brought about this issue. 1) I got rid of a huge 12" Pacu in trade for several small fishes of much less total body mass. 2) I got the new filter, with media. 3) I added 3 pieces of drift wood. <This might be having a discernible effect.> 4) I changed from using pure carbon, to using Chemi-Pure. I have discussed the other changes with you in past discussions, but what about the Chemi-pure? What is in that stuff? <GAC and a resin... in a Dacron bag...> Could it be a contributor? I noticed a stain on my fiber filter pad that looked like rust. Do you know if Chemi-pure has iron oxide in it? <Does not> Does it introduce anything else into the water that could promote algae? <Not likely> Lastly, lastly, I have thought of spiking the filter with bio-Spira, but that is costly if not necessary, besides I do not know if it would even provide the necessary bacteria. What do you think? Thanks for your site and your time, Scott <I do wish there was a simple way of tying a live sump/refugium into this system... growing some plants, having a DSB with an alternating day/light cycle with your main tank. Whatever organism/s (likely BGA) that have established themselves, you've got to disrupt them somehow... to re-establish a dynamic favoring your livestock... and you. Bob Fenner>

Re: Green water -continued  10/20/07 Bob, <Scott> I read your article on BGA. I had not seen it before, but I think this is now starting to make sense. <Good> I went to my LFS today and the guy there insisted that if I change out my florescent bulb and lower my Ph that my problem will go away. <Possibly> After reading your article I can see why he suggested this. My bulb is about 3 years old which he says will increase the "bad" wavelengths and is 6000K of light, and the one he suggested is 18000K and puts out more red and blue wavelengths and less green. Also, lowering my Ph (although it is only 7.6 and not 8.0+) seems to agree as well. Btw, he recommended Sea-Chem Acid Buffer which does not contain phosphates. This is great because I was not happy with my other choices of either high Ph or high phosphates. <Okay> He thinks that if I do this (above recommendations) and continue with my DE filtering and excessive gravel vacuuming that my problem will go away soon. Do you concur? <Might... You could add a UV sterilizer and it would definitely go... but would this address causative issues?> To me it seems like an awful simple solution to a very old and elusive problem, but I think I will try this approach for a month or so and see if it works. I like simple, especially if it works. Scott <Me too... Consider myself simple... though I don't do much work! Heeeeee! I would try what was suggested Scott. BobF>

Algae issue - short black fur 10/3/07 Hi WWM crew, I have hunted everywhere for a solution to my algae issue with no luck. It looks like short dark brown/black fur. It's about 6-7mm (0.3 inches) long and really thick (just like fur) and it's covering all of my rocks and even most of the plants. I have been looking for solutions such as creatures to eat the algae, but have had no luck. I have other tanks in more daylight and they don't have this algae problem so it's not a question of light. The tank with the problem is a 200L community freshwater with alkaline pH, 26 degrees Celsius, low population (2 small calvus, 2 Bristlenose cats, 5 small to medium rainbows, 1 small dickfeldi, 1 medium butterfly, 1 medium Kribensis). The tank is mostly landscaped with rocks, but there are some hardy plants (still getting shredded by the fish!) and 1 long, thin piece of driftwood. Hope you can help because my once beautiful tank is looking like some weird furry alien landscape - very bleak and dull!! Thanks!! Lachlan <Despite the blue-black colour, this short furry algae is a type of red algae. Nothing really likes to eats it. Almost certainly the problem is lack of natural plants while having relatively bright lighting. For example, you usually see this sort of algae in either unplanted tanks or tanks with slow growing plants like Anubias and Java fern. So, there are two options. The first is to add fast growing plants like Hygrophila, Cabomba, or even floating plants. Through allelopathy, these plants will prevent algae of all types growing. You may need to increase the lighting in the tank for this to work though -- paradoxically, algae is more of a problem in poorly lit tanks than strongly lit ones! The alternative is to accept it as part of the environment. The fish certainly won't care, and especially at breeding time, this hair algae forms a home for the micro-organisms baby fish like to eat. About the only fish I know of that eats this type of algae is Jordanella floridae (the Florida Flagfish) though only when hungry. How effective they will be against an established population I can't say, but since they're nice fish in their own right, definitely worth a shot. Cheers, Neale>

Freshwater Algae ID? - 10/07/2007 Hi Crew, What the heck are these things? Since the photo is somewhat un-focused, let me explain what you are looking at. They are 3/16" green cylindrical, growths on the glass directly under the sides of the light. They are built with concentric rings and refract the light in a bow-tie fashion like a CD ROM (you can see the refraction in the photo and if you move your head the "bow-tie" shaped reflection rotates around the growth. I looked at them with a magnifying glass and can see nothing in the middle. Also, my Pleco's are not eating them, but keep the rest of the tank spotless.  The tank is a fresh-water, South American biotype, and water conditions are close to perfect. There are no live plants in the tank because the silver dollars eat them upon entry. Thanks, Scott <Difficult to say for certain... photo too blurry. But probably some sort of calcareous green alga. Such things do exist in freshwater habitats. They can be difficult to remove, though a safety razor blade will do the trick. Generally a sign of good water quality and relatively bright light. Cheers, Neale> <<The image appears to have been lost....  -Sabrina>>

Bamboo shrimp, green water   9/28/07 Hello - I am raising plants in a tank that gets 2.5+ hours of direct sunlight a day (it is a bit of an experiment on my part). Surprise, surprise, I've get a green water problem. While the plants seem to be slowly winning, I thought I would accelerate the process by introducing a bamboo shrimp. He appears to be happily eating. My question: is he eating the single-celled algae that are the green water, or is he *just* eating the daphnia that are the other animal I introduced to try to combat the greenness. Thanks! -- Greg <Hello Greg. The answer is a little from Column A, a little from Column B. Atyopsis spp. shrimps are opportunistic feeders, and will take both zooplankton and phytoplankton. They also eat decaying organic matter, which in terms of aquarium husbandry means they happily eat things like catfish pellets and algae wafers. If you're looking for a way to turn green water clear, Atyopsis almost certainly *won't* do that. They just don't strain the water efficiently enough at the size bracket of things like planktonic green algae. The true phytoplankton specialists in freshwater ecosystems are things like bivalves at the large scale and planktonic crustaceans (including Daphnia) at the small scale. Cheers, Neale>

Re: bamboo shrimp, green water -- 10/09/07 Thanks for the input. Interestingly, the water has gotten much less green since the shrimp's introduction, and he is producing poo pellets at a riotous rate. Perhaps phytoplankton species come in different sizes, and he is filtering out the larger varieties? If you are interested, I'll keep you apprised on how the experiment goes. -- Greg <Hi Greg, Thanks for the update! I imagine the water is getting less green for other reasons than the shrimp (typically, "green water" comes and goes in blooms). But if you're finding evidence to the contrary, so much the better. Useful to know, and share with others in similar situations. And yes, do let me know how things work out in the long term. Cheers, Neale>

Re: bamboo shrimp, green water -- 10/09/07 Thanks for the input. Interestingly, the water has gotten much less green since the shrimp's introduction, and he is producing poo pellets at a riotous rate. Perhaps phytoplankton species come in different sizes, and he is filtering out the larger varieties? If you are interested, I'll keep you apprised on how the experiment goes. -- Greg <Hi Greg, Thanks for the update! I imagine the water is getting less green for other reasons than the shrimp (typically, "green water" comes and goes in blooms). But if you're finding evidence to the contrary, so much the better. Useful to know, and share with others in similar situations. And yes, do let me know how things work out in the long term. Cheers, Neale>

Please help with this problem!!!!!!!!  -- 08/31/07 <<Hi, Kelley. Tom here.>> I have four rubber eels, a ghost fish, four neons, three algae eaters. <<And a 'shift' key on your keyboard, Kelley. (You've kept your post short but it still needs to be proofread before I can send my response to you and our site.) ;) That small 'editorial' moment aside, you've an interesting collection of life going on. You don't specifically describe your 'algae eaters' (the list is a long one) but I would guess that they're not of the bottom-dwelling Plecostomus variety. Your eels (Caecilians) would have made their presence, and teeth, known to a nice, plump Pleco laying on the dinner table!>> My tank is green! <<Either an algae bloom or, your algae eaters are on strike. I'll assume the former.>> All of the algae destroyers say don't use with invertebrates. What now? <<Turn off the lights and block any sunlight that might be reaching the tank. A large water change might help to get things started but won't 'cure' the problem. The main thing is to cut out the light source(s) for a few days. Don't use 'chemical' means to get rid of the bloom. Unattractive as your green water may appear, it's not dangerous/toxic for the fish or eels.>> Please, I'm so afraid my eels will get hurt. <<They won't if you keep the chemicals out of the tank, Kelley.>> Thanks, Kelley <<You're welcome. Tom>>

Freshwater brown/purple hair algae... Brown, "beard"...   8/8/07 Hi, WWM gurus! It's been awhile since I required your assistance, but I seem to have hit a road block with my fw aquarium. Having algae in the aquarium is no issue to me as I do have algae eaters (a few Otos, Bushynose Pleco, whiptail) which I keep more for enjoyment rather than for their algae eating capabilities. But I've encountered a type of hair algae which I cannot seem to get rid of. <This is a tough variety...> I've a 70 gal. tank with three 30W aquarium fluorescent bulbs, 14 cardinal tetras, 4 clown loaches and the aforementioned algae eaters. My tank is quite heavily planted with various Anubias(?) and java fern and moss on natural driftwood. Filtration is quite strong. The tank has been successfully operated for nearly three years now. But recently, this brown/purple hair algae has shown up and no matter how much trimming I do, it comes back. It's now overrun my tank. They seem to sprout from one small point and then grow into a bush-like shape...very light and flows with the water. The algae is attached to plants (in particular, the edges), my filtration system...everywhere. I've looked around your site but it seems most of the responses point towards some type of bacteria, but I really don't think this is the case. This is hair-like in appearance is does not take the form of slime whatsoever. What type of algae am I dealing with here? I'm sure it's a common one, but once I figure out what my adversary is, then I'll bring out the big guns! In the meantime, I'm of the thought that the less additives in the tank to deal with problems, the better. It's most likely environmental, anyways (read: my own darn fault). I have attached a couple of photos for you. Thank you so much, fellas! Regards, Ted <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontagfaqs.htm and the linked FAQs file above... and where embedded... re "Beard Algae"... onto the Krib (.com) coverage. Bob Fenner>

Tank specific question(s); FW, maint... alg. cont.    8/8/07 Hi, I recently found your web resource and am impressed with the audacity of your sites premise. You offer something that is foreign to web content - you intend to give personal attention to as much incoming traffic as possible. Being conscious of this, I'm sorry that I have the types of questions that I do. I almost feel like this should be some sort of pay service! But, here goes: <Heeeee! Okay> info - I re-setup my 55 gal. freshwater tank ~8 weeks ago. I cycled it with 6 diamond tetras that were then immature (1-1.5 inches) and a 1" alto compressiceps. They were added to the tank with 4 fairly large live plants, mature swords + crypts, and 2 Microswords. The tank has an undergravel filter that I am running with 2 powerheads ( one powerhead has a small air intake that helps add oxygen.) I also have a 5-15 gal. waterfall filter that I use with a simple sponge media (i.e. sans carbon). I have this filter on there just because I had it sitting around. If the water gets stirred up or if I notice stress I will, infrequently, use carbon in the filter media just to try and remove any trace elements that might be causing the problem. In terms of pertinent tank info, I have about 130 watts of lighting and the tank is tall so it is ~18 inches to the bottom from the fixture. I do weekly 9 gal. water changes since week 3 of the tank's cycle. At week 3 I started to have algae problems (I had just started water changes and was also fertilizing my plants so this probably started from unfavorable water conditions) and by week 4 I added 5 Siamese Algae Eaters and about 30 Nerite snails. I now have way more algae eating capacity than I need and no algae problems. At week six I added 2 golden balloon rams from my LFS and at week seven 2 Ludwigia and a crypt spiralis. Throughout this process I have had 3 large rocks in the tank which contain many caves and crevices that the fish like to frequent. I feed 2 small pinches of Spectrum general formula 1mm sinking pellets and 1 H20 stable spectrum wafer 2x a day intermixed with frozen brine shrimp substituted for the pellets every other day. I also add a green vegetable regularly for the SAE's and the snails. On to my questions. 1.) The compressiceps is very slow growing, but at some point he will mature and reach 3-4". Right now he is ~2" and semi territorial but in no way aggressive beyond a minor chasing of interlopers. In other words he only adds stress to new fish but not current fish. As he grows should I worry about his interaction with the 2 rams that I have in tank? <Possibly... some variability in this (and most all other species)... but in this volume I give you good (enough) odds of these getting along... If not...> He pretty much ignores them now, and all the other fish as well. All information that I can find points to him being fairly communal but If he is going to get worse with age I want to prepare in advance. I don't mind him eating any, and all, eggs/fry that appear. 2.) In terms of my algae eating brigade, I have a few questions. In a tall 55gl I know I have too many things eating algae. I am shooting for a planted tank and I do have 2+ watts per gallon combined with plant fertilizer 2x a week, so my concern is poisoning the rest of my tank with overfeeding in order to ensure that my bottom feeders and suckers have enough to eat. I don't want to have algae problems but I also don't want poor water quality from overfeeding either. So, what number of Nerite snails and SAE's do you recommend? <Mmm, am not such a fan of the snails... and your SAEs may fight "too much" at the current stocking rate... and are "the devil" to catch out in such settings... You may find yourself trapping out a couple... and possibly harvesting the molluscs occasionally (a glass ash tray or such... with greenery in it overnight...)> The SAE's are very active and I have been thinking of moving 2-3 of them along with 10-15 snails to another tank. I'm hoping to add about 1 wafer per day for the algae crew that I keep in this tank instead of the 2+ that I need now in order to keep everyone from wasting away. <A good plan... use two nets with the minnows...> 3.) As this is (at least hopefully) a planted tank I've been doing a little DIY CO2 addition. I've been using 2 2-liter soda bottles with 2 cups sugar and 1/4 teasp. yeast. I change them every 2 weeks. Do I need this addition for the plants that I have? <Does likely help> The comp. doesn't seem to mind the extra acidity and the rest of the fish actually enjoy the resulting lower PH so I don't mind having it, but it does add extra labor that the species of plants I have may not require. ( plus I have no reactor and, I'm pretty sure, a small leak so the amount of CO2 I'm getting from my setup is minimal) Also the PH will vary night and day because of my simple system and if its not necessary I want to remove this element of stress to the fish. Sorry I don't have numbers for my buffering capacity or my night/day PH but I'm a poor hobbyist without a testing kit. (instead I try to stick to the slow and safe approach to everything. ) <Mmm... a good philosophy this last... I would get/use an alkalinity test kit... check periodically/record...> 4.) The diamond tetras are voracious eaters and I sometimes worry about them out competing the rams for grub. I always watch the feeding and make sure that something either falls to the bottom or ends up in the ram's mouth. I don't want to overfeed however so the bottom is perhaps a better indicator. Will the rams successfully find food that has already found its way to the top of the gravel? The SAE's wont touch the pellets that have gotten into the gravel. <They will/should, yes> 5.) I would like to have my fish be comfortable enough to spawn. Is this realistic given the distribution of species I have? <Mmm, yes> The rams are clearly mated. They swim and interact with one another 95% of the time. And I have enough tetras that they ought to find at least one mating pair. <More of a group effort> So far I have seen no sign of spawning amongst my fish. <Easy to miss> The tetras are mature but the rams are still immature as they are recently acquired from the LFS. Any tips? <Patience, study, observation> I plan on covering one of my rock faces with java moss ASAP. Any other tips? I don't care if the eggs/fry survive but the actual occurrence of spawning is indicative of happy fish and I want to get that far (at least). 6.) I have a glass tank cover, is there an advantageous distance to keep the water from the top? <Mmm, just a crack/opening to the surface... unless you have livestock that can/will exit...> I want to maximize O2 and CO2 transfer. The farther I make the distance, the more my waterfall filter ruffles the top and removes CO2 from the tank. My only concern with filling the tank too high is a reduction in the O2 entering the water (maybe my plants compensate for this?) <Very likely you are fine here with the pump/powerhead induction... mixing at the surface> 6.) Finally, my generic question that you are going to refer me to past articles on ( I did look beforehand ) I thought that these diamond tetras were much hardier than the rest of the fish in my tank but the last time I did a water change and also added 3 plants they acted strangely. I was in the tank with my arms 3-4 times over a day because of a floating plant and I changed the direction of the water current. As a result all 6 of the tetras went to the center, bottom of the tank and floated together without moving. They are generally VERY energetic in their movements. Is this sort of activity enough to make them herd cautiously in the center of the tank, or should I be looking for other elements related to water conditions? The comp, rams and SAEs are behaving normally. This behaviour has been on going for ~24 hours. <Interesting... Maybe this is/was "just" behavioral... as you hint, from being "scared" by your hands in the tank... > Thanks in advance, and sorry if I've rehashed old questions. The accessibility of old articles does affect my, and other's, penitent towards researching our questions. I wouldn't go so far as to complain about the past articles organization, but I would say that accessibility is adequate but minimal. <Thank you for sharing, writing so thoroughly. Bob Fenner>

Mysterious Catfish Deaths (and brown algae) -- 07/03/07 Hi crew, <Hello.> This is my first time writing to you. I have been an avid reader of your pages for almost a year, and I have gathered much information. I have also kept fish for quite a long time, and I have never encountered these problems. <OK.> Firstly, aquarium stats: 29 G glass bowfront, about 6 months old. Inhabitants include 3 green cories, 3 Oto, 1 medium angelfish, 4 various platies, 2 neon rainbowfish. Moderately planted (a couple of swords, sparse java moss, a couple java ferns, some floating elodea), 24 W T-5 lighting, no CO2 or air pump, filter for 60 G (300GPH). Ammonium, Nitrites = 0, Nitrates = 10 ppm. Substrate = Eco Complete. 1 piece of driftwood. pH = 8.x? (it is really high, and the tests have not been very accurate). Water changes are 25 - 30% once a week (very regular), siphoning the unplanted areas and under the driftwood and replacing with treated tap. <The high pH is alarming. It may be an issue with your test kit. Test kits designed for the "low end" around pH 5.5-7.5 tend to be inaccurate at the "high end" around pH 7.5-9.0, and vice versa. So, check that. Second, what's the pH of the water straight out the tap? Your selection of fish wants a pH around 7.2-7.5, but what matters more than pH is hardness, so you want to check that as well. If you live in an area supplied with exceptionally hard water (such as water from a limestone aquifer) you can easily have a pH slightly above 8.0. Not ideal for things like tetras and angels, though they can adapt.> Issues: Cories with degenerating barbels/fins. The cories (had 6 at first) were fine for the first few months. They grew from baby size into adult size and were super active. They also had nice fins and barbels. Then, java moss began growing everywhere, and their barbels started deteriorating. Then a couple died. I thought it might be the Java Moss collecting debris and making high local nitrates. But I cleared out almost all of it and the curies still seem to be suffering from fin rot/barbel degeneration. I put in a new Cory from QT a few weeks ago and it's barbels seemed to be deteriorating! Then it died. Why is this? All the mid to top dwelling fish (including the angel) are active and eating very well, and have nice fins. Also, the curies seem lethargic and hide under the driftwood all day, only coming out to get food. <Almost certainly the water quality at the bottom of the tank and especially in the substrate is suboptimal. The reason the new Corydoras died was it couldn't adapt to these conditions, whereas the old Corydoras have (to a degree) adapted. Anyway, check the water circulation. Many filters do a good job of moving water around the top of the aquarium but the water flow at the bottom can be relatively poor. If the Java Moss is accumulating silt, then that's a good clue that this might be the problem. Adjust the filter, or add an airstone or two at the bottom of the tank to improve water circulation.> Additionally, the Otos like to hang out near the top of the tank. If I recall, they used to like hanging out on the plants. But there seems to be something bothering them because they hang near the surface and don't eat much algae. This lead me to think there was something near the bottom that bothers them, but I can't identify it. I do siphon the unplanted areas of the bottom every time I do a water change. <Sounds as if there's a lack of oxygen at the lower levels, again suggesting poor water flow. Otocinclus are fishes of fast-flowing streams, and are exceptionally sensitive to static water.> Is the Eco Complete doing something strange to the fish? What could the culprit be? Usually fin rot is associated with nitrates but I tested the water at the bottom of the aquarium, and the nitrates were at 10 ppm! (same as the surface). <I can't imagine the Eco Complete is the immediate problem. Are you using under tank heating of any kind? When using deep, rich substrates, under tank heating is recommended. Basically you thread a heater cable through the substrate, and when this is warm, it sets up convection currents that slowly circulates the water. Works very well and the plants thrive, but it's a little more expensive to do than a regular heater.> Finally, a there is a large amount of brown algae infestation in my tank. It is covering all of my plants and the java moss too, making it a furry brown carpet. To the best of my knowledge, it doesn't seem like there should be a lot of algae. Is the lighting causing this? I don't have a CO2 system, and it is not convenient for me to install one, so I was wondering if there was any other way to combat this problem. I don't mind the algae on the glass, because I can scrape it off, but the algae on the plants is what's bothering me. <Brown algae -- diatoms -- are almost always a problem in [a] new aquaria and [b] tanks with insufficient light. If your tank is more than a few months old, then the problem is probably lack of light. Fish and snails have modest impact on brown algae though they do eat some. Much better to boost the lighting levels. For various reasons plants prevent algae from growing when they are doing well. So make sure you have at least 2 Watts per gallon of water, and that you are using the right type of light (i.e., a plant-friendly one rather than a generic aquarium light).> Thanks for your advice, Alex <Good luck, Neale>

Nitrates and Green Water   6/10/07 Hello! <<Hello, Vicki. Tom here.>> I've been reading through your FAQs on green water, since my tank has a sudden and terrible case of it. All of the responses stress the importance of testing the nitrate and ammonia levels in the tank. My question is this - is there any way to lower ammonia or nitrate levels without increasing the number of water changes? I'm worried that if I change the water any more frequently, I'll destroy the beneficial bacteria and have to cycle the tank over again. <<Vicki, provided the water changes are performed correctly, there's little chance that these will harm your bio-colonies which are housed primarily in the filter media. That said, you can also change your water too frequently which might seem at odds with what your research has turned up. We'll take this up later in your post but for the time being, think in terms of the quantity of water changed versus the frequency of the changes.>> Here's a little background: I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank with 4 mollies, 2 guppies, 3 tetras, a kuhli loach, a horsehead loach, a Corydoras catfish, and a snail. <<Off the subject just a bit, Vicki, but your ten-gallon tank is over-crowded with incompatible species. For example, Mollies prefer hard, alkaline water (consider these to be brackish water fish) while Guppies prefer soft, acidic water. Same goes for your Loaches. As an aside here, Corys are highly social little critters that really do best in groups, not alone.>> The PH is stable at 6.9 and the temperature is 78. <<This isn't too bad for any except for the Mollies.>> Up until three weeks ago, I had a goldfish instead of the mollies. He died, I replaced him with the mollies, and within a week, the water was cloudy and green. <<Skip Goldfish until you're in a position to get a much larger tank, 30 gallons or better.>> First, I tried reducing the lighting (the lights are now on about 1 hour/day). <<An appropriate move here, Vicki.>> Then I tried adding about a tablespoon of aquarium salt (replacing it proportionally after water changes). <<The correct methodology but unnecessary. The Cory, Guppies and Loaches don't appreciate salt in their water and, under different circumstances, the proper salt to use for Mollies is Marine salt, not aquarium salt.>> I also added plants - I now have four of them. <<Good move for several reasons.>> When none of that worked, I tried taping a piece of water to the outside of the tank on one side, to reduce the small amount of sunlight that comes in. For the past two weeks, I have been doing 20% water changes every two days. <<Let's pick up on this once again. The green water you're experiencing is the result of an algae 'bloom' likely caused by an excess of nitrates and/or ammonium in the water. (The reason for testing for nitrates is pretty straightforward since these are largely responsible for the nutrients needed for plants/algae to thrive. Checking for ammonia/ammonium may be a little less obvious but ammonia (NH3) exists as ammonium (NH4) at lower pH levels. This is also somewhat temperature-dependent but pH is the bigger factor here. Since ammonium is also used by plants and algae -- in some cases before nitrates are -- this explains why this test is also important.) You've got a lot of life going on in a small environment which contributes to a proportionate amount of waste from the fish and, potentially, uneaten food. In a stable tank, a 20% water change once a week, or even two weeks, would be sufficient. In your case, however, I would recommend a single, 'massive' water change as opposed to multiple, smaller changes. My rationale is that a 20% change still leaves ~80% of the suspended algae and nutrients behind. These increase rapidly over a couple of days and you're back at 'square one', i.e. the reason why the smaller changes aren't really correcting the problem. One massive change on the order of 80%-90% will dramatically reduce both the algae and nutrients and allow your other measures to take hold and combat the algae growth.>> I've changed the filter cartridge once, but left the plastic sponge in, which is supposed to house some of the beneficial bacteria. <<You haven't specified the size of your filter, Vicki, but it's possible/probable that it's smaller than what is needed based on your stocking levels. Good for you, however, that you left the sponge in place. This is where the lion's share of the bacteria reside.>> I've also thoroughly vacuumed the substrate. I used to have a small amount of algae on the tank decorations and glass, but this has all died while the green water problem continues to flourish. <<Part of your plan is obviously working, Vicki. We just need to get rid of the suspended stuff.>> I admit, I haven't purchased a nitrate or ammonia test kit, yet. They seem fairly expensive and I'm not sure how the nitrates or ammonia could be high after all the water changes I've done. <<You don't need to start with an entire test kit if it's not in the budget right now. Individual kits for ammonia and nitrates, alone, can be purchased from virtually any LFS in your area. It's a good bet that you could find these even cheaper online. As for how these compounds could still be high, simply put, you have more going in than coming out. Algae is exceptionally prolific and you've got plenty of sources of nutrition in your tank right now.>> If the levels do prove to be high, should I change out even more of the water? <<Yes, but by quantity, not frequency.>> Won't that kill off the beneficial bacteria and cause my tank to re-cycle? <<Not to any significant degree. Fish rid their body systems of ammonia through specialized membranes in their gills, not through their waste. In other words, your fish will be providing the bacteria with a pretty steady supply of ammonia even after a large water change.>> Thanks very much for your help! - Vicki <<Happy to do so, Vicki. You may want to re-evaluate the size of your filter, as I mentioned. Within the realm of common sense, of course, it would be pretty hard to over-filter your aquarium as you currently have it set up. Best of luck to you. Tom>>

Brown splotches  3/13/07 I have a 55-gallon freshwater tank.  Conditions okay according to dipstick. <<Does not tell me anything. Do you have number readings?>> I have brown stuff growing on sides of tank/on plastic plants.  Is this nothing more than brown algae? <<Diatoms.>> I have a "golden mystery snail" or something like that that I thought would take care of it because it is supposed to eat algae.  It has never been at all interested.  Should I purchase a different animal to consume this, or am I wrong about it being algae? <<Much is posted on this on WWM. Try decreasing photoperiod, lowering nitrates, DOC's through more water changes. ..and please use the search feature...much is there for your use.>> Thanks! <<Glad to help. Lisa Brown>>

Changing rocks in an established tank  - 03/10/07 Thank you so very much for your time and help with my occasional questions. My fish and I appreciate it. Hopefully this one is a very quick one. I'm bored with the current color of the gravel rocks in my aquarium, so I bought enough bags of a new color to replace the old ones with. Are there any concerns I should be aware of before making the switch; i.e.. Remove the fish temporarily into a container while doing the change? <<Catching on your fish may prove more stressful than working around them, especially if it is pebbles and not cloudy.  My only concern might be the amount of your bio-filter that will be removed with the substrate.  Might be prudent to remove in smaller amounts over time.>> When opening the bags of gravel rocks, should I wash them first? <<Rinsing will do.>> Should I put a new filter in my tank (old one is okay, but just want to be safe)? <<Not unless you want a new/additional filter.>> Are there any additives or extras needing to be put in the water? <<Aside from dechlorinator, no.>> This is my first ever tank which I set up about one year ago so is well established, no unusual deaths (not counting the live fry eaten by the parents). Been using a product called Nitraban, <<No need to use this in an established tank.>> Do partial water changes regularly to keep from nitrate build up. <<Partial water changes are key to a healthy tank. Keep it up.>> and about once a week drop in an anti-ammonia dissolving tablet just in case. <<This is not beneficial to your tank.  Nitrifying bacteria feed on ammonia, and your tank is well cycled, so no ammonia should be readable; these tabs aren't necessary.>> The youngest fry are currently 2-3 months old -unless I have more hiding somewhere since I keep abundant decor so everyone can hide if they want. Also, my tank is in a room in an underground basement, so it's impossible for any outside light to get in. I don't have a bad problem with algae, but noticed it builds up faster the longer I have the tank light on, often for several hours per day. Tank is by the computer and I really enjoy them, and named most of my fish. I've read that using anti-algae formulas will do something that "starves out oxygen" in the tank. Is this true? <<Can be, are often hard on biofiltration, and ignore the source of the problem. I am not a fan at all.  Try limiting the hours the aquarium light is on.>> I do have an aeration pump.  I've just been cleaning the fake plants and decor by hand and discarding the filthiest of rocks, hence a part of the reason I want to dump the white rocks and put a new color in also. I've already read mollies are a vegetarian type of eater, so am I right to assume it's okay to leave some algae on plants to allow them to peck at? <<Not strictly vegetarians, but certainly need lots of vegetation in their diet.  It is best to leave some algae for them to pick at.>> My Corydoras I read are carnivorous and blood worms are healthy for them. The mollies enjoy them also. Are blood worms healthy for mollies? <<Can be part of their diet certainly.  Do be sure to offer all of your fishes as varied a diet as possible for optimum health. Lisa.>> SK

10 gallon fish tank with algae! FW -- 03/09/07 Hello, I have a 10 gallon tank with 4 baby fry starburst platy's.  I've had this tank set up for about 4-6 wks.  I've done a 25% water change last week and I took out the contents and washed them with water, shook them out and put them back in.  I did this to clean off the algae that won't stop growing.  The tank looks dirty with this alga.  It literally only took days for it to look worse than it did before!  What do I do?! <<Likely diatoms.  Lowering nitrates/phosphates/DOC's and light will help.  Tends to lessen with maturity.>> I'm afraid to get a Pleco for fear it will eat my little babies. <<Most Plecos are far too big for your tank, and are major waste producers, which will not help your situation.>> I'm also afraid to put that anti algae stuff in the tank for fear it will harm the babies. <<I am not a fan of such products.>> Is there any way to treat this problem without killing the baby fry?? <<See above 'and patience.>> Thanks in advance, DTJ <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Re: 10 gallon fish tank with algae! FW -- 03/09/07 Thanks for your reply. What are DOC's?  What are diatoms? <<Dissolved organic compounds. Diatoms are a common occurrence in tanks 'nothing to really worry about.>> I have a water testing kit and can check it again but my last check on Feb. 25th showed a pH of 7.6, high range pH of 8.0, ammonia of .5 ppm, nitrite of .25 and nitrates at 0.  Since this date I did a 25% water change. <<Your tank is not even cycled yet.  Get on large daily water changes and tests until both ammonia and nitrite are ZERO.  This will also help keep nitrates down, so long as your source water isn't introducing them.  A quick test of your tap water will tell.>> How do I reduce what you mentioned? <<As stated above.>> I read that the light shouldn't be on more than 10-12 hrs per day.  How much time do you recommend the light be on? <<If you are not growing plants, can be very few hours, for your viewing.  Timers help keep these hours consistent.>> Thanks again, (in advance) DTJ <<Glad to help again. Lisa.>>

Algae and Nitrate, FW    3/4/07 Hello, <Hi Bob, Brandon with you today.> After 20+ years away I find myself back in this wonderful hobby. <Welcome Back!> There's one huge difference this time around, the internet is here! <Times they are a-changin> I happened to come across this site, there's so much great information available to the aquarist today! Thanks to folks like you!! <You're welcome.  We're here for wonderful people like you!> My girlfriend was given a 55gal. setup last year, after more careful study I found only the tank and heater to be useable. I built a stand (can probably use as a jack-stand for my pickup) and canopy then purchased a Marineland Magnum350 / 2 bio-wheels,  260 watt Power-compact light fixture with 4x65watt lights which I have 2 65 watt, 6700K daylight and 2 55 watt color-enhance, plant grow pink lights in. The tank is planted with about a dozen plants. I cycled with 7 Zebra danios, always careful to not overfeed. Toward the end of the cycle when Nitrates started to rise the algae came. I began adding my tank cleaner fish and now have a male and female Bristlenose Pleco and 2 Otocinclus Catfish. The lights stay on usually no more than 12 hours, normally I cycle them so the full 260 watts are on for around 8 hours. I have a phosphate remover additive (Ferric Hydroxide) in the canister with the carbon . Currently the Nitrates, Ammonia and Nitrites in the tank are at 0 or not detectable, Ph is 7.0 but I just discovered the Phosphates are 1ppm(mg/L). I have done several 10% water changes in the last few weeks, but my tap water is also 1ppm phosphates. My problem is the brown algae choking out the fine leafed plants such as the Cabomba, Anacharis and Micro Sword.  My research on the net tells me that Nitrates and Phosphate need to be available for algae to grow, <Plants need these compounds too.> I see no Nitrate in the water....?  Would C02 added to the water help? I just started adding a carbonator "Natural Aquarium Vital" from Marc Weiss Co. <Not familiar with it.  I would leave this out though.  In the long run it should not be necessary.> My long term goal is to have Discus fish, got to get thing "right" first! <Congratulations.  Discus are one of my favorite fish.  I have two, that I just got to breed.    I would recommend that you bring the Ph down SLOWLY, by adding some bog wood, and Black Water extract.  These fish live ideally between 6 - 6.5.  Before you do this, I would add the C02 as you were talking about.  The plants will benefit from this, and it will lower your Ph.  Cut the C02 off at night though.  I would also invest in some iron supplements.  These can be added to your makeup water for water changes.  Iron is essential to the development of chlorophyll, and will help your plants tremendously.  I did not see where you mentioned how long the tank has been up.  If less than two months add the C02, and the Fe and give it some more time.  See what happens.  The balance should shift to the plants.  Nice Pic by the way, but I would remove the rock, and add some drift wood, and some of the taller plants like Java Fern and Crypt.  Discus like to hide, as they are kind of shy.  Ultimately you are going to have to remove some of the tank mates due to the adult size of discus.  Mine are about nine inches in diameter.  Also for the plants check here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/groplts101.htm, as well as here http://www.thekrib.com.  The latter has a wealth of information on plants.> Thanks for your time, Bob <You are welcome, I hope that I have been of some assistance.  Brandon> Attaching a pic

Staghorn Algae, FW   3/3/07 Hello Crew: I've searched your website but can't find any information specific to "Staghorn algae".  Is there another name for this? <I have seen references to Compsopogon sp. being a possible name.  I'm not really sure though, as my last search led me to an article about marine algae> I am encountering considerable trouble with excessive growth of Staghorn algae.  I have tried reducing the amount of light the tank receives and have cut the light time to 10 hours per day.  I have tried using Algumin from Tetra (active ingredient: Simazine) <I am not familiar with this.  Some sort of algicide perhaps?> <<Yes... and toxic... the principal ingredient in a few pet-fish and pond algae "remedies". RMF>> to no effect.  I have tried frequent water changes and removal by hand as well as removing infested plant leaves. <Removing the leaves is one suggested course of action> I do not seem to be having an impact and it is getting worse and starting to grow everywhere.  The tank has two Plecostomus and 4 Otocinclus, but they don't seem to be eating it.  The aquarium does not get exposure to direct sunlight. <I have heard that rosy barbs (Barbus conchonius) will do the trick here, but I cannot verify that.> Water parameters are: ammonia: 0 ppm nitrite: 0 ppm nitrate: 25 ppm pH: 7.5 I am running out of ideas to try and combat this problem.  Is there any other course of action I can take to reduce the growth of this particular type of algae?  The tank lighting consists of two 18W florescent bulbs.  One has a 10,000 K spectrum (Sylvania AquaStar) and the other is a special grow-light (Sylvania Gro Lux) with spectral peaks at about 400, 420, 550, 600 and 650 nm. <What you have here is a nutrient imbalance that is favoring the algae.  Try increasing the level of chelated iron, free nitrogen, phosphate, potash, and dissolved C02 in the water.  Also your lighting is way less than optimal for plants.  Even if you had a 10 gallon tank you would be just scratching the surface.  A general rule of thumb is 2-4 watts per gallon.  Or 30 watts per square foot of surface area.  Obviously this is going to be higher if the water is dark due to dissolved tannins, perhaps lower depending on the species of plant, much higher if you have swords.  Try increasing the water flow in the tank with a small powerhead or two.  Read here, > Any suggestions would be most welcome as it is becoming quite the problem. <See above.   http://aquaria.net/articles/plants/barr-dose/, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/groplts101.htm, and http://www.thekrib.com I hope that you find this helpful, Brandon.>

Algae  2/5/07 I will try this again - not sure why pic didn't come across - it is in the body of the message. Anyway... do you know what type of algae this is and how I can eliminate it? <Ahh... is "the dreaded" "Beard" algae... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontags.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

FW UV use, algae impact  - 12/06/06 Hi.   <Greetings to you!  Michelle here.> I understand that UV will kill free floating algae.   <Yes.> I assume that if I have algae already growing on my rocks, the UV will not  hinder it.  Would this be correct?   <This is true.> I have Tropheus that graze, so I don't want to cut down algae growth on the rocks.   <No need to worry.>   Thank you for your assistance. <You are welcome. -Mich>

Algae Problem  12/5/06 Hey crew, My tank has algae. How can I get rid of it? Thanks Kyleigh < Algae is caused by too much waste in the water and too much light. Do a 50% water change vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. If you have live plants then leave the lights on for no more than 10-12 hrs per day. No live plants? Then just turn them on when you want to see the fish. Feed the fish only once each day. Feed them only enough food so that all of it is gone in a couple of minutes. Some algae is normal. Scrapers are available to get algae off of glass.-Chuck>

White stuff on rocks??  Please help 11/21/06 We recently set up a  55 gal tank. At first we filled it with 5 gal of water from our aquatic retailer and put our red claw crab in it while we were treating our 10g tank for ick. <Okay> After removing him we filled the rest of the tank (with water from the same aquatic retailer) <? Why not water from your tap?> added more gravel, plants, and then our lava rock.  We added bio Spira and now two day's later we noticed this white stuff (attached pictures) on the lava rocks and going up into the filter. <I see it> The tank does not contain any live plant or fish. We wanted to start adding our upside down catfish and our black ghost fish but are afraid that what ever this is will harm them. <Mmm, not likely... however... these two fish species are not very compatible behavior or water quality wise... the Mochokid cat prefers hard, alkaline water... is very "outgoing"... the Apteronotid likes much softer, acidic conditions and is very non-competitive...> While the red claw crab occupied the tank (only for 2 days) we only added maybe 2 blood worms and a couple of pellets. Our tank tests ok, everything is good except our ph and alkalinity is just slightly low. We have taken the rock out and are soaking it in very very hot water. Can you tell me what it is? <Is a mix of opportunistic algae, along with populations decomposing organisms likely... taking advantage of the lack of predators, availability of space, presence of food you added> Will it overtake the tank and spread even after removing the rock and cleaning it? Will it hurt our fish? <No and no> Do we need to remove all the water and clean everything including the filter (start over?  ;( I hope not) Is it from adding the Bio Spira? <Again, two no's> Im sorry to ask so many questions we just want our tank to be perfect for our fish. <No worries> Thank you so so so much for your time, we appreciate it very much!!!! Brandi <Best for you to understand the basics of "cycling", "succession" in new, sterile aquatic environs... Do you have test kits for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate? Have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above? Do so, relax, and enjoy. Bob Fenner>
Re: white stuff on rocks?? Please help  11/22/06 Thank you so much for all your help and how quickly you replied!!  I read the link you sent me and it helped me understand the process much more clearly. I had a couple of questions but I do not want to take advantage of the help you provide. If I am asking to much please let me know. <Okay> My 55 gallon has the white algae,  but has not gone through any spikes in the nitrite, do I continue to wait for this to happen or does the bio Spira bypass the spike in the levels? <May do so> We only have a test for the: NITRATE, NITRITE, TOTAL HARDNESS, TOTAL ALKALINITY, AND PH. I will get one for the ammonia this week. Should I continue to leave the tank empty until the spikes in the levels occur and go back down? <I would wait a good week to see if there are any measurable amounts of nitrogenous compounds... As the system cycles there will be accumulating nitrate> One more question, I was unaware that putting my upside down catfish (Rocky) and black ghost ("night of the living dead") together was not good. Thank you for that information!!! <Welcome> They both are doing great both are very energetic great appetites for blood worms and have amazing personalities ( my black ghost has actually put little "Rocky" in his place and they get along great, is it ok to keep them together if they are doing well? <Only time can/will tell> I would say the tank is more suitable for the black ghost but "Rocky" zips around playing and eating, he's like a little rocket. Again thank you so much and I am sorry to bother you, I'm sure you are extremely busy, this is the only site that actually responded to me and I am so happy to have found it. <Bob Fenner>

FW Algae   11/19/06 Hello there: My name is Cody and I have a couple of questions for you. <<Hi, Cody. Tom here to answer them 'hopefully. :) >> First one is that I have a 55 FW. It's been up and running for 4 years or so. In the past few months I noticed some spots of  dark green hair algae growing on some of the fake plants and other items in tank. I was just wondering if it would harm the fish or not. The fish have been in the tank for about 2 years. <<No harm to the fish, Cody. Just an indication of excess nutrients and lighting in the tank. The 'kicker' here is that this type of algae utilizes nitrates and phosphates, among others, which can be readily introduced into the tank via water changes. You may want to examine any changes that you've made in the last months that could account for the appearance of this algae. Has there been a change in lighting or in the duration of lighting for the tank? Are you using the same source of water for changes, i.e. have you changed from using RO or RO/DI water to using tap water? Definitely a few variables at play here but, to answer your specific question, this algae won't harm your pets.>> Second question is that I have a 29 FOWLR. I noticed that it has some green hair algae growing on the fake lava rock but not on the live rock. Why is that and is it normal? <<In a word, competition. The micro-organisms and, yes, algae that occupy the live rock are out-competing the green hair algae for nutrients. A similar principle to utilizing live plants to handle algae problems by having something in the tank that deprives the nuisance algae of what it needs to proliferate. In your case, the hair algae is only being out-competed at the site of the live rock and not elsewhere which is why it seems to be showing up on the fake rock. Kind of interesting that the nutrient levels are walking such a fine line but I don't see anything 'abnormal' about this.>> Thanks Cody <<You're welcome, Cody. Tom>>

Spring water versus well water; preventing algae growth in new tank   11/8/06 Hey guys... <and girls - Jorie here!> I just happened upon your site today and have spent a better part of the day reading! <Wonderful!>   What a great service you are doing to all us "beginners". <I learned much of what I know from WWM...> I currently have a 10 gal with 3 Cory cats, 1 (it said blue at the LFS, but my research says it is a 3 spot (?) Gourami, a couple Neons and 2 black skirt tetras.  I have had this tank for almost a year (from start to current only 4 casualties-yeah!!!) <Ummm, you aren't suggesting four fish deaths in a year is good, are you?!  Many freshwater fish live for years when kept in proper conditions...> Anyhow, my question is NOT about my 10 gal tank, but about the 55 gal. I just purchased. <OK.> I have not set it up yet, but will soon. <Glad you are reading first.> I have well water with (of course) a water softener system. I have never had my well water tested, as I use bottled spring water for my little 10 gal. tank. <Spring water is often lacking essential elements and minerals the fish need.  Better to use DI (de-ionized) or RO/DI (reverse osmosis/de-ionized water) instead, and add back certain essential elements...>   (My brother-in-law used well water for his 30 gal. tank and was OVERRUN with thick, green algae, changed to the bottled water, and has not had a problem since.) <Yes, bottled water won't have phosphates, which is likely what was present in the well water to cause the algae, but again, there's other essential elements missing...> I have never had a problem with algae in my tank, in fact, do not even have any type of "algae eater" in my tank. <Don't need an algae eater with proper amounts of water changes, not overfeeding, proper lighting, etc.  I also like to use a filter media called "PolyFilter" to help combat phosphates in the water.>   My problem arises here, I REALLY don't want to buy 55 gallons of spring water PLUS extra water for regular water changes. (what will I do with all those empty jugs!!)  and I don't want to end up with all that algae.  I don't (and never have) used any treatments in my established tank, so I really don't know the best course of action here for the new 55 gal with well water...HELP! <I highly recommend investing in a quality RO/DI unit, such as the Typhoon III from www.airwaterice.com. Yes, it's a bit expensive upfront, but you only have to replace the filter cartridges approximately yearly, and the membrane once every three years or so.  I then use a combination of Aquarium Pharmaceutical's Electro-Right and pH Adjust to add back those elements which are missing from the purified water.  Again, to combat algae, the suggestions above will likely do the trick.> Thanks for such a great site and any help you may provide. Roni Knox North Carolina <Best of luck, Jorie, Aurora, Illinois.>
Re: Spring water versus well water; preventing algae growth in new tank
 - 11/09/06 Jorie, Thanks for the suggestions! <You're welcome.>   I will definitely take it into consideration. <For what it's worth, we absolutely LOVE our RO/DI unit and it has truly paid for itself in the 3 or so years we've had it.  And, our algae issues have all but disappeared...>    And I really wasn't suggesting 4 losses was a good thing, just that I am a beginner, and expected many more than that! <OK! Four is sure better than 44, right? Enjoy your new tank...Jorie> Roni

Question on algae growth   9/19/06 Greetings to all of the WWM Crew!  I hope this day finds all of you as happy with life as I am. <Ahh, thank you>   I have an odd question and, I guess, a confirmation of thought process.  We have some actively breeding cichlids; yellow labs and yellow peacocks for now, hoping my black Pembas will be next.  We currently have some labs, peacocks and Kribensis in a 30 gallon grow out tank and a yellow lab with a large buccal pouch in a 10 gallon isolation tank until she releases her fry. <Sounds like a business there!> By the time her fry will be large enough to go into the grow out tank and not be eaten, the other fish will be large enough to head to the LFS.  Here is our dilemma.  The 30 had a large amount of algae in it from overfeeding the previous residents, which the cichlids went through like power lawn mowers.  After we empty the 30g, how can I quickly encourage a lot of algae growth so the new fry will have an additional source of food when we move them in? <Mmm, I would not be so/too fastidious in scrubbing all the algae from the glass/sides... the residual will re-populate the tank in a short while>   The algae was so bad in the other tank that it was waving in the current off of the sand and it took the babies less than a week to clean it up (approx. 22 babies).  If I put a good pinch of flake food in the tank every day for a week or so, would that help or is there something additional that I can do? <Could offer more small foods, more frequently... but this sounds/reads fine> Of course, I also want to keep the good bacteria in the biological sponges in the 2 Whisper 40 filters that we use on the tank. <Just rinse these gingerly in tank water...> As an additional note, the pH is 8 and the dKH is 14, which I think might be a little too harsh for plants. <Not all types, species...>   When was the last time you had someone ask how to create a nuisance instead of eliminating one :-)! <... all the time> All of you at WWM provide an awesome service and have been very beneficial in our endeavor to become "fish keepers" instead of "fish havers". <Ahh!>   My wife and I thank you as do our charges; 150g African cichlid tank, 75g community tank with Gouramis and Rainbowfish and our grow out tanks.   Thomas N. (Tom) Bilello <Bob Fenner>

FW Algae ID... for a book   7/12/06 Hi Bob! You seam to be an expert on marine algae. I don't know how much you know about freshwater algae? <About the same degree of paucity> I am writing a book on freshwater aquariums and I am looking to find the Latin names of the most common freshwater algae.... A least down to genera's.... <Just genera> Can you help me or can you point me in the direction of someone who might know..? Best Regards Peter Petersen Copenhagen, Denmark <Mmm, I'd send a note to Hans Baensch in Germany here. The actual genera are quite mixed... depend on the country in question, what they've placed (mainly in the way of live plants) that determine what becomes dominant... and as with marines there is "succession" in freshwater systems... Bob Fenner>

Green Tank  7/10/06 Dear Crew, <<Greetings, Isabel. Tom>> I have a 20-gallon tank with only three fish in it.  I have had this tank with the Whisper filter for a long time.  Everything was going smoothly until we moved.  We lived in a village and had village water.  We now have moved to a lake and have a well.  The first thing we did was have the water tested and installed a water softener.  My husband and I cleaned the entire tank because it was getting cloudy and green.  We thought it was probably due to the move and length of time since we had cleaned it after the move. <<Might have been due to the move but seems unlikely that you would develop a serious algae problem without extenuating circumstances.>> Two weeks later the water is so green that you cannot see through it. <<Hardly makes for an "attractive" aquarium, does it?>> I bought a new filter thinking mine was too old.  I now have the new and the old filters running (they are not getting dirty) and I put in a gadget that "blows" the water around for circulation.   <<I'm glad you didn't simply go with a new filter and discard the "old" one. At any rate, filtration isn't the problem.>> When I changed the water, I used the start right drops and the drops of chlorine as I have done in the past. <<Jungle (TM) purports that 'Start Right' dechlorinates water so, if true, adding chlorine (not a good idea) would likely be ineffective. Your algae "burst" is due to the nutrients in your well water. These become most prominent in the summer months when the water warms in the lake and the "goodies" at the bottom of the lake rise and make their way into your water table and, hence, your well. The water softener, as you've already deduced, don't eliminate these. In a nutshell, algae will proliferate where there is a supply of nitrogen (such as "run-off" from lawn fertilizers - my folks lived on a lake in Michigan), phosphorus, potassium and, of course, light. I'd bet good money your well water has all of these...except the light.>> I need help.  I do not know what is wrong. <<Technically speaking, Isabel, nothing is "wrong". It just isn't "right" for aquaria purposes. I don't vouch for the efficacy of the product but "Algone" reportedly clears up aquariums with the problem you now have. Should you choose to use it, we'd like to hear back from you as we like to share this information with our readers. Good, bad or indifferent. We support products that "work" and will gladly advise against those that are simply a waste of money.>> Isabel <<Hope I've been of some help. Tom>>

My 27 gallon planted tank, mis-mixed livestock, lacking bio-filtration   7/7/06 TANK: 27 gal. Fluorite + Florabase, Eheim 2222, 9W turbo twist UV, CO2 via Milwaukee regulator (daytime only), Hagan bubble ladder as diffuser, Coralife 55x2 (4 wpg, often just burning one light to reduce algae threat), LED lunar lights FAUNA: 3 Panda Cory, 2 Dwarf Oto, 2 Yoyo loaches, 1 Clown Pleco, 1 Dwarf Gourami (removed from tank to 5 gallon because acting aggressive), 2 platies, 2 mollies and 4 guppies FLORA: Anubias Nana, Hygro Tropic Sunset, Crypt Wendtii Gr/Br, Water Hyssop, Dwarf Crypt, Rotala rotundifolia, Hygro corymbosa, Taiwan moss, Stargrass, Riccia, Cuba, Pearl Grass, Weeping Moss, Microsword and much, much more. CHEMISTRY:   pH 6.1 <A tad low> No2 0.3 <Should be zip> kH 20 ppm GH 60 ppm nHh3 0.6 <Dangerous> Po4 0.3 <Too high> Routine 50% H2O changes weekly. Bottled fertilizer applied weekly. QUESTIONS: (1) The female molly just gave birth to 30 fry (+ 5 stillborns). I bought fry food and feed twice daily (before and after work). Apart from keeping their fry cage clean, what more should be done to help improve them mature? <... need harder, more alkaline water... Have you read on WWM re the nutrition of Mollienesia?> (2) The mollies and guppies (unfortunate gifts from a well-meaning friend) need salt. But my panda Cory's don't like salt. Which suffers? Do I add salt for half the tank, or deprive them of salt to appease the other half of tank inhabitants? Which need is greater? <Yours... for another system to separate these two> (3) The dwarf gourami is aggressive with all other fish. Is he ok in a 5 gallon tank or should I find him a new home? Or is there possibility that his aggressiveness will subside? <How many females do you have present?> (4) My ammonia seems high. <It is... deleteriously so> There is no fish or plant rot that I can see. There is blue-green algae on the glass between the tank and substrate which I keep disrupting by trying to remove by scraping clean. Apart from water changes, is there a way to reduce the ammonia? <... You likely have inadequate provision for/of biological filtration... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwammfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Julianne McCaffrey

FW Cyano in a Service Acct.  7/6/06 I have a tank that I maintain that has really bad Cyano.  It's a lightly planted 55g tank.  It's got 260w of new (several months) PC lighting - Coralife, a new Eheim canister, a Maxi-1200 for flow, a few rosy barbs, a couple of angels and a few tetras.  They replaced an older acrylic tank with a new glass one.  When I put the new tank in I replaced most of their deco and all of the gravel.  I did a 75% water change at that time as well.  Since then I have been doing 50% water changes every two with RO/DI water every two weeks (for two months now), and manually (by hand) exporting all the really thick Cyano.  I know my water is clean - I make it myself and use it in all my store tanks which stay pristine. They (the tank owners) swear up and down that they've cut back on their feeding, and they're using NLS pellets. <NLS we'll take as Pablo Tepoot's New Life Spectrum... a fairly "clean" food> For the life of me I can't figure out where it's even getting the nutrients to grow, but this Cyano is THICK, and I can't kick it.  Nutrient control has always worked for me and I'm just baffled.  Thanks for the input. Scott <Mmm... well... because you are in the trade, know what you're doing, and this BGA has been so persistent and dominant, I would likely remove the fish livestock and either "nuke" this system and all its gear with a bleach solution, or even go the Erythromycin/antibiotic route. If it were you/my home system, I would try massive water changes, adding some aggressive live plant/s (likely floating...), some source of alkaline earth material (to "feed" the vascular plant/s). Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Algae Bloom  6/5/06 I have a 75 gallon freshwater tank, ammonia, and nitrite are 0, and nitrates are 20-40, <A bit high...> My water is cloudy most of the time. <... insufficient filtration, circulation?> I used a diatom filter for 3 days and it cleared up nice, <A "band-aid"> but the diatom filter matter was plugged solid with green algae. I have some ferns in the tank and also a lot of lighting, 2 65watt dual bulbs 10000k/6700k and 2 65 watt actinic 460/420k. <Not this> My actinics are on at 7am, and at 9am the 10000k/6700k are on. The 10000/6700 turn off at 8pm and the actinics are off at 10pm and then the lunar lights are on all night. I would try an algae remover but I have some crustaceans. Would using CO2 help?? <Possibly> Will this bloom make my fish sick?? <Could> Thanx for your help. Bob <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontags.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

FW algae problem   5/28/06 <<Hello, Sharon. Tom here today.>> I'm in the process of setting up a 75gal freshwater tank which will eventually house 5 fancy goldfish. I've had the tank set up for about a month (no fish) because I want to let it cycle correctly. <<Well done! Love to hear this.>> I have the lighting on a timer to come on twice a day for about 5 hours in the a.m and 3 in the p.m. I think because of this I now have a bad green algae problem. <<Not likely a contributor to an algae problem, Sharon. Where lighting is an issue, it's generally because someone is leaving their lights on for periods in excess of 10-12 hours at a time. If your tank is getting direct sunlight, however, this can be an issue.>> It's all over my plastic plants and the one ornament I have I'm constantly scrubbing the walls of the tank to keep it at bay. I bought Algaefix which really hasn't fixed anything! <<Toss this product out. We never advise the use of chemicals to treat algae problems since they can/will be a detriment to other life in the tank. One suggestion, if you aren't already doing this, would be to follow up the "scrub-down" with a healthy water change to help remove the algae that you've dislodged from the tank walls.>> I would like to know if I have to tear down the whole tank and start over or what treatments would you suggest I use to finally resolve this problem. <<Strongly consider adding live plants to the tank, Sharon. These will tend to out-compete the algae for nutrients and, essentially, starve the stuff out. Also, be aware that algae growth is typically self-limiting in that it almost always shows up in new tanks only to disappear or, at the very least, become far less problematic. On a final note, when you do introduce your fish to the tank, feed them appropriately and keep the bottom of your tank clean of uneaten food/detritus. These contribute to nitrates, in particular, which lend themselves to supporting algae growth.>> Thanks for a great site. Sharon <<Good luck with your new tank and new pets, Sharon. Tom>>

Attn: Bob Fenner, Variety of questions... on Bettas.... health... and snails... comp.... and algae    5/2/06 Hi Bob (if you don't mind the familiarity), <Not at all... is my name...> Thanks for your reassurances.  Terrence and Edmund are both doing fine, in fact Edmund's fins look a bit less curly.  I did get Terrence to try bloodworms and he loves them. <Few Bettas can resist these>   The patchy white spot hasn't spread, though I haven't seen him blow any bubble nests lately. With more frequent water changes (10% 2x a week, 40% once a week out of a 2.5 gallon tank) the water is still 0 ammonia, now 0 nitrites, and the nitrates are hovering around 20 ppm.  I've been feeding less-- skipping a day occasionally, and when I do feed, 2-3 Betta pellets with sometimes a bit of bloodworm, or sometimes just a bloodworm.  Still too much? <Not likely> I have a good number of Malaysian burrowing snails-- I'd hazard a guess of 10. <Soon to be more>   Except for two old ones of maybe 3/4 of an inch, they're all about 1/4 inch or smaller.  I used to have a large population of small Ramshorns, but not long after the move to this new tank, the Ramshorns have gradually died off except for one, whose shell is covered with white scratches.  (I'm it's because my water is soft and slightly acidic.  All the Ramshorns started looking that way as time went on, though the burrowing ones haven't shown any shell problems.)  I was wondering if the die-off may have raised my nitrate levels, and if the waste of the current population could be contributing.  The snails came in with plants from my LFS (and then proceeded to multiply); I knew they were coming and kept them in hopes they'd help keep the tank clean.  If you think they should go, I'll remove them via blanched zucchini or something similar. <Might want to just do this occasionally to keep the numbers in check> I've also had some small smudges of algae on my tank walls, and true to your word in the snail article, the snails aren't eating it.  It's not very noticeable unless it's right between you and the tank light.  It showed up after I added aquarium salt-- any connection? <Likely so> There is also some green on my filter floss where it's moist but not underwater, as well as an iridescent sheen on the surface of my water.  The filmy iridescence has always been there and I take out as much as I can with water changes.  The green growth I've seen before.  Any advice for getting rid of any of the above stuff? <Posted... see WWM re>   I have been keeping my light on too long (about 14 hrs) so I'm setting up a 10-hr timer, and I'm assuming the growth has to do with the high nitrates as well.  I scraped some of the algae off the walls... should I go after the green stuff on the filter floss? Thanks again, Terrence's mom (attached is my last email) <Be chatting, reading. Bob Fenner>

I Have read that high nitrates can cause unwanted algae blooms...    4/9/06 <Can> I have a 37 gallon and a 10 gallon tank. In the 37 there is A huge goldfish, 1 gourami, 4 platys, 2 Corys, 2 angelfish. <Goldfish not good to keep with tropicals...> My nitrite is finally down to about 0 for about 3 months now but the problem is my nitrates. They are so high! <How high?> Same in my 10 gallon which has 7 zebra danios and 6 neon tetras. I have no clue how to get my nitrates down. <... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm and the linked files above> I do excessive water changes - about 20% every weekend. I have been at this forever and they are still really high! I read that plants may use nitrates for something (can't remember what) so I added some potted plants (in little yogurt containers with soil and rocks on top) and they are actually growing little roots! <Good... takes a while> I added them into my 10 gallon tank so I could experiment because it is easier to take care of the plants because the tank is small and I can easily move things around. Also, the 10 gallon is shallow so I don't think I need exact and strong lighting because the light is so close and so strong for a 10 gallon tank, right? <Mmm, not necessarily> I have just some 15 watt regular white bulbs that my LPS sold to me. These are my first MAJOR tanks, I had little things when I was little, now I'm 15. My mom has a successful 250 gallon pond in our backyard and I understand that algae is natural, but I have the ugly brown stuff when she has nice green fluffy stuff. Should I add more plants because on one of the FAQ sites of yours I read that plants use about the same nutrients as algae. <Possibly... read> I also read the brown stuff will go away on it's own but it has been about 4 months since it has come... I set the 37 tank in the end of December. How long will it take for this stuff to as you said "go away on it's own?" <Maybe never> Will more plants reduce the time? <Likely so> The plants also look really nice when they are alive! I always went to PetSmart and got plants and brought them home and put them in my like 1 gallon bowl for my fish when i was like 6 and they always died! If you could email me back that would be great -  this is the first time i have used your site so I do not know I you post my question and your answer and I have to go searching for it. Thanks! - Marc <Read my young friend. Bob Fenner>

FW Blue Green Algae Problem  - 03/25/2006 Hello, I am currently enjoying your web forums under the name (Bmage29).  I had posted a post on suggestions on how to rid my 55 gallon FW community tank of hard dot algae, but got little/no response.  I have had the tank for three years or so, and have noticed the algae at the end of it's first year.  I easily scraped it of, and only a small almost foggy imprint of where the algae was remained.  Today the algae has rapidly developed along the corners of the tank right next to the silicone.  I am currently using the Kent Scrapers and a magna-float algae scrapper and having very little success.  I have read that the use of a razor blade will work, but I fear I will scratch the glass in the process.  If I try to clean using the Kent scrapers, it will occasionally slip and take off some silicone.  Do I need to fix what breaks off?  Are there any other ways to get rid of this algae?? I will readily try any suggestions since the tank is my display and I have a major family event in a few months.  The last thing I want them to see are the green corners of the tank. < This blue-green algae can easily be removed with a single edged razor blade on a glass tank. On the silicon it then becomes a different story. These algaes are usually found on tanks that have been set up awhile. I suspect it is a combination of an excessive nutrient and old lighting. I would recommend that you rub the corners with and algae pad to remove as much of the algae as you can. Then do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Then change the light bulb(s). As florescent lighting gets older it changes and loses some intensity. These weaker lights sometimes promote these type of algaes. I would also recommend that you increase the volume of water when you do your water changes or do them more frequently. Siamese algae eaters and some species of Plecos help control this stuff too.-Chuck>

What is this black stuff?  - 03/11/2006 I have used your site many times and have found an abundance of useful information, but I can't seem to find anything for my particular problem.  (This may be due to the fact that I'm not completely sure *what* my problem is.) <Or not unlikely that there is not much re posted... will never be "finished">   Anyway, I have this black "pepper-y" looking stuff covering the bottom of one of my tanks.  (This particular tank has been a handful recently.)  I recently had a bacterial infection which was treated with Maracyn as per package instruction. <Ah, a good clue>   A few days after  treatment, I noticed these black spotty grains covering the gravel and plants (artificial, by the way).  I removed all of the fish to another tank seeing as how I don't know if this stuff is dangerous. <Not generally in systems with good maintenance...>   My question is, what is this stuff, and how do I get rid of it? <Likely a type or types of blue green et al. algae. Will "go" in time with your system re-centering itself... You can "speed up" the process by doing extra frequent partial water changes, using chemical filtrants (hence removing chemical food)...> I don't mind tearing down the tank, but I'm not sure if I should throw out all of the decorations and sterilize the filter system, or if this is something that I can control without doing so. <Is> The tank is currently empty, as I am not sure if it poses a threat to the fishies. <Some, but not much. There are some algae-eating animals, like many "Plecos" that can be negatively effected, but most fishes, no> Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated.  Could this be a strain of algae, another form of bacteria, or something else entirely?  Again, thank you, and kudos on such a wonderful site! -Mandy <I would leave off with a total tear down here if you have time, patience... allow the "good" microbes (they were harmed by the Maracyn/antibiotic) to re-establish themselves, add the chemical filtrant and all should settle itself in your favor in a few to several weeks. Bob Fenner>

Rust colored deposit... FW   2/6/06 Thank you for your response. all but one neon are now gone.....but the harlequins are fine. The Pleco will be getting a new home soon (getting too big). Any thoughts on what the rust colored deposit is? thanks Chris <Algae, likely mostly diatoms... see WWM... Bob Fenner>

One Out of Four Tanks With An Algae Problem  - 2/4/2006 My parents in the Philippines have 4 flower horns each in a separate 20 Gallon Aquarium but there is this one particular flower horn that within a day of cleaning the tank the water turns green and streaks of green (is this algae??) < Probably.> can also be noticed on the base of the tank.  They have tried replacing half of the water of the tank to almost 3 times in a week but the problem seems to be persistent.  The tank has a pump & an overhead filter but this doesn't seem to help.  The fishes are fed with 'Grand Sumo' - the brand name of the flower horn fish food they've been feeding the 4 flower horns for almost a year now.  They don't have any problems with the 3 other tanks but only with this one.  Do you have any suggestions or answers with this kind of problem?  Thank you so much in advance and hope to hear from you soon. < Check the water in all four tanks for nitrates. If the readings are all the same and the filtration is all the same then the problem is indirect room lighting. Light from an adjacent window or lamp is probably the answer. remove or block the light source and the algae should match that of the other three tanks.-Chuck>

Sudden Death of Fish, Heating Issues I have a 10 gallon tank, heated.  I did a partial water test today and here's the results:   pH - 7.2, Ammonia - 0, Nitrites - 0, Nitrates - 40 - 80ppm (too high but since I just did a water change (25%) last week - should I do  another one? <Yes... I would do "serial" water changes (once a week here) of about 25% every week until your nitrate reads below 20 ppm., and look into means to restrict its accumulation. These are gone over on WWM> Will all these changes stress out my fish?) <Possibly... an issue of balance, choice... of which is more stressful>   Tankmates are: 1 male black molly, 1 "rotund" sunset fire platy (she's  figured out to hang out underneath the fry net during their feeding  times and to eat the fry food as it sinks), 3 SF platy fry, and a  GAE.   <Mmm, a CAE?>     This morning I noticed my tank was down to 77º (I always keep it at  80).  I fiddled with the heater some and before long it was up to  79 again (whew - no broken heater).  Anyways - I lost a SF platy  (the "skinny one") today.  It was just lying in the bottom of the  tank.  No injuries or anything that I could see.  I'm  guessing the temperature change is what did it in. <Maybe a minor contributing "cause", but not the sole contributor here> The heater I have is  a fairly cheap one from Wal-Mart.  Could you recommend a more  reliable brand? <Look to Ebo-Jager, the Aquarium Systems products lines...>   I prefer the internal/submersible ones as they  fit inside a decorative "log" that also holds the filter.   <Me too>   Also - my GAE has begun chasing the remaining fish around. <Ahhh... time to remove, trade this animal in>   The  GAE is constantly scouring the tank (day or night) but if the other fish swim too close he'll chase them.  I've read on your site that  he may grow up large enough to do them harm. <Yes> I feed him algae  pellets every now and again but the other fish eat them first so I  don't know how much good that does.  He's not very big (1.5" or  so) and he seems to be keeping the tank fairly clean - how much should  I feed him?   <You can try bits of blanched terrestrial vegetables... which won't foul the water... but, as stated, I would remove this animal>   Finally - last question (sorry to pester but you guys are so darned  helpful!) my littlest platy fry is acting weird.  She sits on the  bottom of the fry tank (mesh) and barely moves.  If I jiggle the  net a bit she'll wriggle around but I'm thinking she may have a  swim-bladder issue as she really can't seem to get off the bottom of  the tank.  Please advise.     Thanks so much for any/all help - you guys rule!!!  :D     ~~ Jill ~~ <Likely environmental and/or genetic influences at play here. I would not act/treat the system overtly. Bob Fenner> Nitrifying Bacteria Doing Their Job  12/24/05 I was wondering if you could help me. I have a fresh water tank with under 10 mid size fish. I am pumping the water fairly fast into a (vertical) plastic bottle with holes cut in it filled with bio balls and some white filter cotton material. the water also goes through a mechanical filter (sponge) first, and I replace about 20% of the water once a week and clean a quarter of the balls once every 2 weeks. However, algae is growing like crazy in my tank...there is not too much light either. Do you think this is because my bio balls have become a nitrate factory? <Check the nitrates. I am sure they will be high. Filters catch the waste and break it down from toxic ammonia and nitrites down to less harmful nitrates. They do not remove the nitrates. These must be removed or diluted with water changes or by using live plants. You can get ahead of the game by cleaning the filter often, vacuuming the gravel while doing a water change, and by feeding your fish once a day. Fed them only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. Ring out the sponge too. This should help.-Chuck>

Goldfish, Algae, and Tankmates - II - 11/25/2005 (Um.. it's 12/2/05) Thanks for all of the information! <Sure thing.> I just have one more question. <Okay.> The algae on the rocks has spread to the plastic plants and tank decor. Is this harmful or just a "cosmetic" problem? <Mm, mostly cosmetic.... but could be an indication of an overabundance of nutrients (nitrate, phosphate....)> What can I do to get rid of it?? <Read, on WWM, about controlling algae - there's a lot of info in the Freshwater Plant section as well as the Freshwater section.> Thanks again!! <You bet!> Amanda <Wishing you well, -Sabrina> 

Algae Eater With Guppies - 10/17/2005 Hi, <Hello.> I have a 36 gal tank with guppies and live plants. I have had some algae growth on my plants and hoped you might suggest a good fish to add to my tank that will eat algae on the plants but is safe to keep with guppies and their fry. One of the people at the LFS I use a lot suggested Otocinclus. <A very effective, but very sensitive fish.> I've also read about using Plecos, but that they can damage plants if they are large. <Ancistrus "Bushynose" Plecs are a good choice, and stay under 5" roughly.> The algae on the plants appears to be mostly green hair algae. There is some on the glass and a little on the substrate that appears to be more of a green slime. Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated. <You might consider shrimp of genus Caridina or Neocaridina.... the "algae-eating" shrimp, Caridina japonica, and the "cherry" shrimp, Neocaridina denticulata sinensis v. red, are both readily available in the hobby now and excellent consumers of algae. Not to mention cute!> Thanks, -Rob <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Trout Pond, BGA, illiteracy 7/27/05 Hi there, I was just on a website where I found your name and i <The personal pronoun "I" is capitalized> was kind of curious to know if you knew much about Blue Algae, And the effects on rainbow trout, <A bit> I have a trout pond in Alberta, Canada that is stocked with about 400-500 fish and I recently noticed a problem with blue algae on the shore, <... the color may have nothing to do with...> the pond is aerated and is fairly large but now I have nothing but dead fish. What Are your thoughts and how can I fix this problem so it doesn't happen again.       Dan <... you need to buy a microscope... read re identification... easy to do. And, yes, can be quite toxic... easy to avoid in most settings... some bits re this posted on WWM. Bob Fenner> Algae on Rocks 7/18/05 Hi, I'm new to the hobby , and I am having a problem with excessive algae on my lace rock, I asked the question at a local pet store how to solve this problem, the expert at this particular store informed me that I should soak the lace rock in a heavy concentration of bleach  solution over night and then rinse it in the morning for ten minutes then throw it back in. Do you think this is a good idea or not, I'm a little concerned about my discus and live plants. Thank-you George < This is good solid advice and will work well. The key is to rinse it very well before putting it back in the tank.-Chuck>

FW Green water I have a 180 gallon tank and it has been up for 2 years. 2 days ago the water turns green like lime green and is very cloudy. I don't know what's going on. I changed the carbon and sponge and poly filter in the sump and have a large skimmer running. I changed half the water yesterday and i look at it today and its better than yesterday but still cloudy and still green. What is this and what do i do? How's it caused? >> The green water is caused by a free floating algae. The source is likely a change in lighting conditions, perhaps your tank is getting more sunlight than usual, or you have changed the artificial light. Best way to get rid of this is complete darkness for a week or two, coupled with 50% water changes every 4 days or so. You can use a blanket - with the lights off - and keep the tank dark. The algae will die off, so you will have to be sure to do the water changes. Good Luck, Oliver

Bubble algae? Hi, I've just been to the Roman Baths at Bath, and noticed some floating green bubbles in the water, fairly spread out. I think I noticed about four, but I wasn't really searching for them. Anyway, the bubble was mostly above the water and there was a hair-like thing trailing from it. It always seemed to have a "forward" motion, as the "tail" swayed and waved behind and beneath the bubble as it moved, as if the hair were propelling it. It seemed fairly obvious nonetheless that the bubble thing wasn't moving on it's own accord.   I could try to describe the size but it would not be accurate at all.  <Smaller than a breadbox? Larger than Czechoslovakia?> I was thinking it might be one of those ones that floats until it can attach itself to a rock, as there seemed to be some of that sort around the edges in the corners, but something like that also sounds like it should cover more area unless the heat keeps it in check (I doubt the Baths are cleaned...). I have no picture and cannot find one online. Any idea what it is? Thanks a lot.  -Jen- <No clue. Bob Fenner> 

Green Water Hi. I received a 6.6 gallon plastic aquarium for my birthday, but I seem to have a problem keeping it clean. The water turns green within a week, put new filter cartridge in and after a week it's pretty green. I tried the changing 20% of water, it makes no sense to me. I use a bubbler, I have upgraded to a better filtration system. I only have 2 swordtails in it, is this a problem? One pet store told me this is natural process. This is very confusing to me, my mother always had an aquarium & her water was never green!  I don't get any joy out of looking a nasty looking fish tank, when I go to the pet store and they have a hundred fish in 10 gallon tanks & always bright & sparkling water! I also have a Betta in a huge jar & a smaller tank with 3 guppy's. I am already losing interest as I can't seem to get the problem corrected and I seem to get a different story each time I speak to the pet store. It always costs me more money and I'm not seeing any results! Would I be better off with different fish in it? Is using a plastic tank causing the problem, would I be better off buying a glass tank? Any help would be appreciated, thank you. LLG <Continue with the water changes and reduce feeding and the time the lights are on. It will clear. Adding plants will also help. The green, free floating algae you have is not uncommon in a new tank. It is part of the normal cycling process. The algae is feeding on the nutrients in your water. Water changes and reduced food and light will starve it out. Don> 

Hey Crew (Diatom or Cyanobacteria problem) Hey Crew <Yo!> I have a buddy who has a real problem, and a real fish problem. <Fishaholics Anonymous... trade one crutch for another I say!> I told him to email you guys, because you haven't steered me wrong with my marine setup, but he asked me to do it, and please direct me to any links if you have already answered this question. <Will definitely do> Here are the specs  55 Gallon Long Crushed Coral Substrate 2 Emperor 400s Water Quality Superb Ammonia: 0 Nitrites: 0 Nitrates: 0 11 African Cichlids Large Pieces of Slate and Granite for the aquascaping Weekly 30% water changes Here's the problem: My buddy continually fights with a red substance that sticks to everything. When you put your finger on it and wipe away it just disappears like dust, but returns in a few hours. First of all what is this substance (We have been reading and we think its Cyanobacteria.)? <I think you're likely correct> Our LFS told my friend to treat the substance with EM tablets for a few days, and then do a water change. Is this a recommended strategy for this type of problem? <Negative... Erythromycin will not "cure" the root cause/s here. Don't stoop to antibiotic use...> Do you have any other suggestions to take care of this substance? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the linked files above> Could it be the granite or slate?  <Not likely... not a source of nutrient... and the hardness and alkalinity they're adding is of benefit> Could it be the water source? <Always a factor> The reason this perplexes us is that he has another 10 gallon tank that has a very large cichlid in it and the substance came and went away, and has not reared its ugly head since the inception of the tank. <This does happen... perhaps a better "microbial mix"> Please advise when you get a chance  Thank you, and always in awe of your genius, Eric Ross <Well, the thanks I'll gladly take... Bob Fenner> 

Brown Algae, Green Algae, Freshwater Algae Hi all! After checking the search as well as the forum I can't seem to find an answer to my question. First a background: Tank size--50gallon set-up for month with holey rock and some Val's. Fish--15 juvenile Peacocks and an Oto Parameters: Ammonia--0 nitrite--0 nitrate--20ppm PH--between 7.8 and 8.4 GH--300ppm KH--100ppm My problem is that I'm not only getting brown algae, (told this is normal in new tanks), but also what I can only assume is brown hair algae. There is some green algae starting to grow but I'm more concerned with the hair. Any suggestions/comments? Thanks! I've found your site to be very helpful in all my fish endeavors! :) <Most algae are caused by excessive nutrients. Your holey rock from Texas is nothing more than limestone leaching minerals into the water and feeding the algae. The Oto will not like the hard water generated from the minerals in the water. Get some Africans that will eat the algae and like the same water as your peacocks. Try and find some Ps. saulosi. They are pretty and not very aggressive.-Chuck>
Brown Hair Algae - II
Thank you Chuck! This is my first try at cichlids after years of fresh and salt aquariums. I knew the Holey rock would give off minerals but didn't consider that they might be the cause of the algae. Is there anything, besides the African, that I can do to prevent, or at least slow the growth in the future? <After a while the minerals will leach out and not be as bad and the algae will subside on its own. Common cheap Plecos will work but will get large and have to traded in occasionally.> As for the Oto, I'll put him in another tank where he'll be better off. I wasn't quite sure if he would be alright or not in this one. Thanks again for the advice! You're all wonderful! < Moving him to another aquarium was the right thing to do.-Chuck>

Green Water I have a 55 gal freshwater tank that has been setup since January. It has lots of plants I don't know all the names, but they are all doing well and growing. In the last two weeks the algae bloom has gotten worse I have been doing water changes weekly 10 to 15 gals. Lately with the algae problem Twice a week. I last did a water change on Wed. today Sunday the tank is so green that you can't see the plants in the back. The problem started two weeks ago when the 10,000k coral reef light burned out after two months. I replaced it with a full spectrum 65,000k light. I also have a aquarium plant light on the tank. Both lights are 4FT and on 12 Hours a day. Nitrates, nitrites, ammonia are all at zero. Phosphates are high at 5. I put a Phos-Zorb pillow in last week but it hasn't helped. The fish are 4 dwarf Gouramis, 2 Bettas Male and female, 2 tetras, 2 green catfish, 1 spotted catfish,1 panda catfish, 1 angelica catfish, 2 Siamese algae eaters, 1 giant Danio. I also stopped the CO2 that I was putting in using the yeast method at the same time figuring it was contributing to the algae problem. Any suggestion would be appreciated. Would a product like Algone help? <I'm not a fan of chemical cures. And this type of green water outbreak is fairly common in new tanks. Anything that reduces the amount of food in the water will starve it out. Including increased plant growth. I think your best course of action is a big water change. Enough to get some light down to your plants. Then a series of smaller daily water changes, 10 to 15 gallons, until the water clears. Between the water changes and increased plant growth you should clear in a week or so. Don>

FW Red Fungus I have had a fish tank for about six months now, and got a light to put in the tank at Christmas. Since then a layer of red fungus has formed on the stones. I clean the tank every 4 - 6 weeks, and change only 20 - 30% of the water as I was advised by my local pet shop, AQUARIUS. Since Christmas I have had seven dead fish, five Neon Tetras which I got in October and were fine until Christmas, and two Corydoras, which, as with the Neons had been fine. Both breeds I have kept successfully before now. Does the red fungus have and part in the death of my fish??? <You are correct here... this is no doubt a "Blue Green Algae"... and is at least indirectly linked to your fish losses... That is to say, whatever the conditions are that have allowed/favored the BGA have also contributed to their demise. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the Related FAQs (linked above). Bob Fenner> 

Fish poisoned with algicide/clarifying agent Hi there. I used a product called Accu-clear in my tank, which was going green with an algae bloom. It had 2 of my breeding discus in it. Both discus instantly got sick and one to the point where it was lying on the bottom of the tank and gasping for air. Can you help me and give me some information on what I can do to help this fish? <Change the water IMMEDIATELY... as much as you have good water (about the same chemistry, temperature) on hand. Increase aeration... Bob Fenner>

Algae Problems Help. I just added some No More Algae to my fish tank to try and get rid of the algae growing in it. I just re-read the bottle and noticed that I was supposed to remove the carbon while using this. I've now removed the Whisper Bio-Bag from my filter. How long do I leave the Biofilter Bag out of the filter? If I take out the filter my tank won't be clean and the fish won't be able to breathe. I am new at this and don't want to kill my kids fish. Please reply soon. Linda  < Some algae is a normal part of every aquarium and is to be expected. Chemicals may treat the symptom but the problem will return. If algae is a problem then you need to kick up the tank maintenance. I would recommend a 30% water change while vacuuming the gravel. Clean the filter by rinsing the bag out with a high pressure garden hose and replace the bag. Feed only once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. There are also many algae eating fish that do a great job. Ask your local fish store for suggestions on which ones will suite your needs. Weekly water changes of 25% should really cut down on the algae. If bright light is a problem from a nearby window then cover that

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