Algae With No Nutrients

Discussion in 'Algae' started by Jimdibb, Jun 16, 2019.

  1. Jimdibb

    JimdibbNew MemberMember

    I have a 5 gallon fluval tank that I was keeping a betta in. A small java fern. And three small otos and a nerite snail.

    I was working on getting more plants started.
    The betta died, one oto offed himself (stuck on top of a diffuser sponge on the filter outlet) and another died.

    So now there's just the one oto, some drift wood, a small 2 leaf anubias, some water sprite and duckweed.

    Testing today, ph 6.6, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 0, phosphate 0, gh 2, kh 2. about 8 hours of light split across the day. This is after about a 50% change yesterday. the ph was higher, but the A/N/N/P have been 0 for some time. Recently, I've started adding a partial pump of Aquarium Coop easy green once a week or so to stimulate some plant growth. (so not truly 'no nutrients')

    Biological and sponge filtration only

    I constantly struggle with the ph as the tap water here is 8.6 to 8.8. I mix acid buffer into the bucket when I'm doing water changes and bring it down to try and bring the tank down, but I do end up with swings.

    The problem is algae is running rampant. It's a filmy green/black stuff that scrapes off the glass in sheets. after a week its starting to coat the watersprite.

    The room is on the southern exposure (in northeastern US) but it never gets direct sunlight.

    One question, am I likely in a state where my beneficial bacteria will have crashed ? That oto has been on his own for about 2 weeks, so there's very little waste being produced.

    Question 2, can having water that's 'too clean' drive algae growth up?

    Question 3, will an airstone drive the ph up given the other water parameters. I'm not sure why the ph keeps shooting up otherwise.

    My daughter would like another betta but I wan't to get things straightened out first.

    My other daughter has a betta in a 2.5 gallon round that has an established anubias and java fern and its thriving with no algae or other issues. This is right in front of a window, but on the northern side.

  2. Skavatar

    SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

    1. some of the BB will go into a dormant state b/c of low bioload.

    2. don't think so. unless you have 100% pure distilled water, its not that "clean"

    3. do you know the GH/KH of your tap water? a test kit is only $5-$6. tap with 8.6pH but tank is 6.6pH, that's a huge difference.

    my tank is right next to an East facing window with the blinds open 24/7, a few floating plants, 2 filters, no algae at all.
  3. OP

    JimdibbNew MemberMember

    The tap KH is 3 and the GH is 2.

    the ph is so different because I'm intentionally (good or bad) bringing it down to sub 7 with seachem acid buffer.

    Yeah, I'm not using distilled water, but there has been no measurable nitrate (or ammonia or nitrate)for some time...

    What i'm contemplating is regularly going with that easy green fert, and Excel to get the real plants to start growing better, but I'm afraid it's really going to cause the algae to blast off even more.

    Or maybe I put a betta in there and let it start to build back up more naturally.

    Either that, or a rehome the oto to my 29 and tear the whole 5g apart and start over.

    (I was just looking at your sump thread. good luck with that)
  4. coralbandit

    coralbanditFishlore VIPMember

    The buffer is likely PO4 [phosphate] which with light and water is all you need for algae some say ?
    With plants growing well the PO4 itself may not be an issue but with low/limited growth its energy will be used some how ...
    Most who use buffers curse them for one reason or another .
    RO mixed with your tap is the proper way to reduce your pH ...
  5. Skavatar

    SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

  6. OP

    JimdibbNew MemberMember

    Thanks. I was aware of that, about the buffer, but there's no measurable Phosphate. I'll check it again in a few days.
  7. GlennO

    GlennOValued MemberMember

  8. OP

    JimdibbNew MemberMember

    From the links I believe I am dealing with bga as it thrives in low nitrogen, low oxygen which is a pretty apt description of the tank.
  9. GlennO

    GlennOValued MemberMember

    Yep, cyanobacteria = BGA
  10. OP

    JimdibbNew MemberMember

    Thanks Glenn. So much info flowing in from all directions. This is great.
  11. GlennO

    GlennOValued MemberMember

    No problem. Your plants need nitrate & phosphate. Unless you add more fish my advice would be to begin adding very small regular doses of an all-in-one fertiliser that includes nitrate & phosphate. This will benefit your plants to the detriment of the BGA. Manually remove as much BGA as you can. Were you giving your Oto's supplementary vegetable feed? They need it in the absence of beneficial green algae which you are unlikely to have with zero nitrates.
  12. OP

    JimdibbNew MemberMember

    That's a good point about the food if that's not real algae. Just hung a chunk of the omega seaweed sheet I've had for a while in there. We have dropped in an algae wafer from time to time. Is lettuce something they will eat, or? I kinda assumed there would be enough algae (and that it actually was algae)
  13. GlennO

    GlennOValued MemberMember

    Oto's are fussy about their algae, they like the common soft green algae but won't touch BGA, BBA or GSA. Algae wafers are good if they go for it. Mine love slices of slightly blanched zucchini. Lettuce might work though I don't know if it has much nutrition, spinach might be better.