Controlling Brown (beard?) Algae

Gary1962

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Seem to have an on going problem with algae growth.

It's sufficient to coat my plants with a thick brown layer, leading eventually to them dying off.

Water change 24% weekly. LED lighting limited to about 10 hours a day.

Tap nitrates are between 20-40. Tried API detox - no improvement.

What else can I try, apart from RO water, without harming my cycle?

LFS suggested treatment to reduce phosphates..?

I've started to build up plant stocking and supplement with 2ml of Neutro Co2 and ferts.

Usual/current 87L tank parameters:

Ammonia & Nitrate: 0
PH: 8.2
Nitrate: 40-80 - can't differentiate on the API scale.

Any thoughts or advice appreciated.
 

Dave125g

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I would increase the water change percentage, and for now get that photo period down to 6 hours a day.
 

aussieJJDude

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Dave125g said:
I would increase the water change percentage, and for now get that photo period down to 6 hours a day.
Agreed, try reducing it to a 6-8 hour period and then seeing if there is a change. Sometimes excess light will cause algae.


Some people I know have had great success in reducing algae pop in their tanks by increasing water circulation....


Even though its a bandaid fix, spot treating with H2O2 will kill off most of the algae which will help you get on the path of getting things right.
 

Dave125g

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The thing is... Excessive algae growth is caused by in imbalance. Too many nutrients and/or too much light. More nutrients then the plants need will feed algae, same with light. Here it seems like both. If you change 50% of your water weekly it will remove the extra nitrates that the plants can't use. Most plants only need 6 hours of light per day. Decreasing the amount of light and larger water changes will help your plants out compete the algae.
 

aussieJJDude

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That's definently true. Algae outbreaks are due to an imbalance of 'something' in the tank.
 

capt.r3d

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Definite imbalance, you have an awfully high ph for plants maybe getting some sort lockout which is leaving excessive fets in the water? How are your plants growing over all? Have a look at this scale, you should test iron lvls in your take too see if they are high iron lockout will block potassium uptake. I'm not sure what counts as high though.
 

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Gary1962

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Really appreciate the education & advice, everyone - thanks.

I think my plan will be to go with a reduced photo period and increased water change % - perhaps split into 2 changes a week.

I think the only other 'natural' way to lower the nitrates, and maybe the PH, would be to blend in a % of RO water over each month. My only concern with that is if my schedule will allow me to be consistent.

Heavier planting should also help me swing the balance in the favour of the plants Vs algae, right?

Perhaps I should stop the liquid ferts but continue with the daily Co2 dose too?
 

capt.r3d

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I am not a aquarium plant expert may want some help from someone who has grown plants succsesfully with a higher ph. My water out of the tap is about 7.5 my aquarium is about 7.3. I bet loweing the ph a bit will help maybe ad some wood or rock that lowers ph natualy over time. but more mico nut uptake will lead too more macro uptake inturn leaving less for the algae.
 

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Agree with what has already been said. Also you could try Purigen to absorb the nitrates until you stock up on more plants.
 

Dave125g

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My ph is also 8.2. Its a bad idea to start messing with it. My plants do great, with no excessive algae. Just back down the ferts and photo period and you should see an improvement.
 

capt.r3d

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I wouldnt mess with it, that is why I asked how your plants were doing to see if there was any visible deficiencys. If the plants are doing great then maybe les fets/light will help is your tank mature? or is it newly set up.
 
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Gary1962

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Thanks again guys.

Some of my plants do okay, despite the build up of Brown algae over their leaves. After I take the algae off with a toothbrush, they look in decent shape.

The harder leaved plants, like Anubis and Java Fern, have tended to better.

Whereas the softer leaves species seem to fairly quickly go brown and turn to mush.

I'll see if I can post a few photos tonight.

Dave125g, what types of plants do well for you in your high PH water? And what type if ferts/dose do you use? (I've read that species that feed from the water column are preferable when nutrients like nitrate are high).

And what is your water change regime?

Perhaps blending in RO water (to reduce nitrates) is not a good idea, where it will cause fluctuation in the PH level.
 

Dave125g

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I change 50% weekly and about 80 % monthly. I have mostly root feeders, so I only give seachem root tabs. I have Italian vals, wisteria, Argentina swords, amazon swords, a corkscrew val (which don't do well) and a few Java ferns.
If you blend RO water be careful. It will drop your ph and may shock your fish. You may also find that your ph will become unstable.
 
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Gary1962

Gary1962

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Some photos that might help better illustrate the problem I've been battling.

Please let me know if these bring any further thoughts to mind
20180126_195449.jpg
20180126_195434.jpg
20180126_195423.jpg
20180126_195407.jpg
 

Dave125g

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To be honest another thought is ramshorn snails. They'll eat just about any type of algae out there. Most people consider them to be pests. Not me there a great clean up crew and part of a natural ecosystem. There eggs and babies also provide a nice snack fir a few of my fish.
 

capt.r3d

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I would not cut with R/O water either there are no minerals in it you could get a PH crash If you really want to lower your ph go buy a fresh organic lemon and add a few drops of juice to couple gallons of water then pour slowly when you do a water change You will want to monitor the PH though everywater change or when you see evaporation. Nitrates are not what's causes a high or low PH in your water well they do sorta I will try to explain.

One of the key nutrients is nitrogen (N). Plants can take up N in the ammonium (NH4+) or nitrate (N03-) form. At pH's near neutral (pH 7), the microbial conversion of NH4+ to nitrate (nitrification) is rapid, and crops generally take up nitrate. In acid water(pH < 6), nitrification is slow, and plants with the ability to take up NH4+ may have an advantage.

Water pH also plays an important role in volatization losses. Ammonium in the soil solution exists in equilibrium with ammonia gas (NH3). The equilibrium is strongly pH dependent. The difference between NH3 and NH4+ is a H+. For example, if NH4+ were applied to a water at pH 7, the equilibrium condition would be 99% NH4+ and 1% NH3. At pH 8, approximately 10% would exist as NH3.

Scientific mumbo jumbo cut and pasted from Alberta Agro website

So in short your nitrate uptake is very slow at your PH lvl which makes all nutes/mineral uptake very slow.


It is how much dissolved solids like minerals and Hervey metals in your water especially calcium that decided PH. So I am really thinking your PH must be to High for those plants. So maybe look for plants that would do well in a discuss tank or plants from Africa. Your water column feeder plants will like water as close too 6.5 PH as you can get it.

Good luck
 

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