Extreme cloudiness and brown algae explosion overnight/LF algae eater advice

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Kentaaa

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Hello everyone!

I am desperately in need of some advice! I purchased a 75g tank about 2-3 weeks ago. I would imagine the tank is cycled by now, and all of my parameters are perfect (0ppm Nitrate/trite, 0ppm Ammonia, 8.2 pH). The tank is filtered by a Fluval 406 that I pulled off of my established 46g planted community tank. I replaced the 406 with a brand new 306 because the flow was just too strong for that small of a tank. The 406 is working MUCH better on the 75g, and since the tank is inhabitated by Cichlids it needed strong filtration anyways due to their messy eating habits. Also, the filter was already cycled which was an added bonus. Although I will have to "re-cycle" my 46g due to the new 306, the tank is inhabited by all hardy community fish which can handle surviving through a tank cycle. After hooking the cycled 406 up to my 75g, I added a full pouch of Marineland Live Bacteria (instantly cycles up to 40g), and conducted a seven-day Seachem Stability regimen, just to ensure that the front of the tank (gravel, decorations, rocks, etc.) was cycled as well. I planted a handful of live plants that were also taken from my 46g, so I'm sure whatever bacteria that was present on the plants was transferred as well.


Like I said, everything was going great, until about three days ago. The water began to appear cloudy, and patches of brown algae began to form on the gravel and (resin) driftwood. I am used to this occurrence when cycling tanks, but I figured that since the filter was already cycled/established, and with the use of bacteria additives, the tank would not suffer from "New Tank Syndrome". A presumption that I can now see was incorrect. This morning when I entered my fish room, my jaw hit the floor. The tank was so cloudy that it was barely visible, and the brown algae had completely encompassed all of the decorations, rocks, caves, and most of the gravel. I have cycled MANY tanks in my day, but have NEVER seen anything this severe. The fish seemed perfectly fine, and eagerly ate their breakfast ("Hikari Red Blood-Parrot Plus" Pellets). I quickly tested the water using my API Master Test Kit, and again all parameters registered at 0ppm.


From what I have learned, brown algae is caused from an imbalance of the water's chemistry and quite often appears during cycling when parameters are constantly fluctuating. However, since all parameters point to zero a chemistry imbalance is not the culprit. I have also seen brown algae occur when a tank is not receiving enough light (although this is more likely to occur in planted tanks). I have recently shortened up the tank's photoperiod when I first saw signs of algae growth, but I doubt the change was significant enough to cause a bloom of this magnitude. There are live plants in the tank, but due to the low quantity I would not consider it a true "planted tank". I dose the tank with 7.5 mL of Seachem Excel (liquid CO2) daily, and about 7 mL of Seachem Flourish (fertilizer with trace minerals) once a week (or at times once every five days if the plants look wimpy). Now yesterday I did forgot to dose the tank with Excel. I am leaning towards this being the reason that the algae exploded overnight. A few months ago in my 46g, I skipped a day of dosing Excel. The next morning, the ENTIRE tank was covered in algae. I could not fathom how the algae spread that quickly. I do not recall whether the algae was brown or green, but after Googling this incident I found that I was not the only person to experience this problem after skipping a day of dosing CO2. Although this does make sense why there was an algae outbreak, it does not answer the question of why the water is so cloudy. If the water parameters are perfect, what more can I do?


As a course of action to solve this problem, I have decided to perform 15%-25% water changes every day (equates to 10-20g of water depending on how busy I am that day), until the water clears up. I usually NEVER miss a day of dosing all of my tanks, but some mornings are just so hectic that sometimes it slips my mind. From now on I will make absolute sure that the tank is dosed with at LEAST Excel every day, just in case this is the cause of the algae outbreak. Fertilizing (Seachem Flourish) will be used less frequently for now until everything is back to normal. I am thinking once every ten days (instead of every five or seven) will be sufficient. I will probably make a run to my LFS tomorrow to pickup fresh carbon as well as a bag of API Bio-Chem Zorb. I'm sure by now the carbon in the 406 is inactive since it has not been changed for several months while it was hooked up to the 46g. I have found through trial and error that Bio-Chem Zorb does an OUTSTANDING job at removing impurities that cause cloudiness. Every time I have used it, my tanks are crystal clear within 24-48 hours. I never have to replace it either. Once the water clears, it usually stays that way. I will remove the Bio-Chem pouch once the water has cleared to prevent any possible leeching. I was very impressed with the other products in API's "Zorb" lineup as well. There was an incident where one of my tanks had somehow accumulated 25ppm worth of nitrites. I lost a Discus and a Ghost Knife because of this, but by some miracle did not lose any others. With the introduction of a Nitra-Zorb pouch, and three 20% water changes (over the course of three days), the tank was back down to 0ppm. I swear by these products.


Back to the predicament with my 75g, I am also considering incorporating an algae-eater into the tank to help in the reduction of the brown algae bloom. I have a ~4"-5" Farlowella in my 46g that is slowly outgrowing the tank who would be PERFECT for the 75g. Like I said, the 75g will be a South/Central/North American biotope so I only want to add species from these continents. I am not too fond of Plecos (the common ones at least), and the only other algae-eater I can think of from South America is a Farlowella. I was considering a catfish, however I do not know of any that ONLY eat algae. Currently in the tank so far are two 2"-2.5" female Blood Parrots as well as a 4"-4.5" male Kirin Parrot (Blood Parrot x Flowerhorn Hybrid). Although the Kirin is definitely more Flowerhorn than Parrot, he is VERY docile and seems uninterested in anything but food. I will insert a photo of them below this paragraph. Once the water conditions are straightened out, I plan on adding an Oscar, Green Terror, Redhead, Firemouths, and Geophagus. They will all be juveniles, and I do realize that once they reach full size the tank will be EXTREMELY overstocked.. This 75g is simply a grow-out tank in order to add some inches to these fish before dividing them up and placing them into my various show tanks. Would a Farlowella be compatible with all of these fish, plus the ones that are already in the tank? If not, what would you recommend doing? The 46g (where the Farlowella currently lives) is inhabited by all peaceful community fish. There is an adult Angelfish in this tank, and at times when the Farlowella swims in the open water to find a new patch of algae or moves along the glass, the Angel will try and go after his tail thinking it is a worm. He has never caused any physical harm or damage to the Farlowella, but this is because whenever the Angel gets close enough to his tail he darts away so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. He is MUCH quicker than the Angel and also has "cat-like" reflexes, which helps him dodge the Angel's attempted advances. I worry that he won't be so lucky with larger, faster, and more aggressive tankmates.
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Basically in a nutshell, I would like to know...


1.) What could cause a tank to become THAT cloudy and completely covered in brown algae overnight if all the parameters are perfect?


2.) Other than 15%-25% water changes daily, adding a pouch of Bio-Chem Zorb and fresh carbon to the (Fluval 406) filter, vacuuming the gravel daily for waste/leftover food, scraping off new algae growth (allowing a few small patches to continue growing), dosing the tank with Seachem Excel daily, decreasing the frequency of fertilizing (Seachem Flourish) the live plants from every 5-7 days to every 10 days, and introducing an algae eater, is there anything else I could/should be doing to help rectify this problem?


3.) Would my Farlowella be a good candidate to move into this tank to help eliminate the algae explosion? Or would the Parrots and other South/Central American Ciichlids terrorize and/or try to eat him?
3a.) If not, based on the tank's size (75g) and on the species that are already/will be in the tank, what would you recommend as an algae eater that is NOT a Pleco and is native to South/Central America?
3b.) Are there any catfish on the aquarium market that will solely eat algae off of the decorations and glass?




Thank you all SO much for your input and help!


Kentaaa
 
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Aster

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I don't know anything about the cichlids, Farlowella, or the brown algae, but I can say that 0ppm of nitrates does not sound right. A cycled tank should have 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrites, and some form of nitrates, since nitrates are the end product of the nitrogen cycle. If fish are producing ammonia and the bacteria are converting ammonia to nitrites, and nitrites to nitrates, logically there should be nitrates.

Otocinclus catfish, or otos, eat algae (in fact, if they aren't getting enough algae, they must be fed algae wafers). However, they are tiny compared to the other fish you have, and I have no idea if they work out with them.
 
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