Help Looking for some help with my ?algae problem

Mmacey

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Hello, so I have been having issues with my tank which has been established for years. It was doing great until I moved to a new house for school and I was never able to get it back to normal. Now that I have moved back home, I'm trying to get things back to normal. My main issue is this algae, or whatever it is, that is basically intermixed with the sand. The worst part is trying to remove it. If I use my siphon, it is too heavy to suck out. The only way I'm able to remove it is if I remove the wide end of the siphon so that it is just the tubing, but then I also remove a lot of sand. I've tried using this method a few times to get it all out but it always comes back.

Here you can see a big pile of the stuff because I had just tried to siphon it out again. It's very dark and looks black to me, but I can't tell if it is a very dark green or red, which has made it difficult for me to diagnose. However, I posted a second picture of my rocks because the photo shows a layer that is clearly red, but didn't look red to my eye. So now I'm wondering if the stuff in my sand is also red algae. Any help on this issue would be very much appreciated!

20200512_124844.jpg


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About the tank:
- 46 gallon bow front
- Pool filter sand substrate
- 1x angel, 2x silver tetra, 4x cory catfish, 1x bristlenose pleco
- Nitrate (deep clean 1 week prior): 0-10 ppm
- Phosphates (deep clean 1 week prior): 1 ppm
 

KinderScout

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What is your lighting/ferts cycle? We have sand and a looong 40cm siphon head - not much sand reaches the top. Try reducing lights to a minimum for a couple of weeks and stopping any ferts too?
 
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Mmacey

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KinderScout said:
What is your lighting/ferts cycle? We have sand and a looong 40cm siphon head - not much sand reaches the top. Try reducing lights to a minimum for a couple of weeks and stopping any ferts too?
Hi, I haven't dosed any ferts in at least 6 months, but I have Potassium Nitrate, Potassium Sulfate, and Potassium Mono Phosphate. Typically I was dosing the Potassium Nitrate and Potassium Sulfate, but no Potassium Mono Phosphate because my Phosphate levels used to be a bit higher than they are now. I can't remember exactly what I was dosing, but something like 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of each every other week.

As far as light goes, it is currently on for 7 hours a day total in 2 blocks. I cut it back from 8 hours (also 2 blocks) which has been the setting for years. Do you think I should cut this back to even less? I have 2 standard output T8 daylight bulbs.
 

Chanyi

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looks more like a red / dark strain of cyanobacteria.

I would look into that, and if it looks like it then you'll have to use chemiclean or blue / green slime remover, and then:

Reduce light intensity if possible.

Reduce photoperiod to 5 hours per day max (until algae has subsided, then slowly increase back up to 8 hours per day over a few weeks).

Ensure you are providing adequate nutrients for the plants (unhealthy plants promote algae).

Dose Flourish Excel or equivalent Met14 at the “after water change” rate on the Excel bottle once per day.

Manually remove all algae you can.

Manually remove excess organics in the tank by gravel vacuuming and cleaning filter media in old tank water every water change.

Manually remove any decaying or dead plant matter.

Increase water change frequency, and the amount of water changed.

Consider spot treating badly affected areas or dipping plants / hardscape in a Flourish Excel, Met14 or H2O2 + water solution. Google search which method you think would work well, and for general ratios to mix a safe solution. Certain plants can’t tolerate these chemicals, so ensure you do a little research prior to dipping / spot treating plants.

If using CO2, ensure CO2 is dropping the pH of the tank water a full 1.0 – 1.2. To do this, measure the pH of tank water with no CO2 dissolved in it, and then measure again 2-3 hours after CO2 has been running. Ensure the drop in pH is a full 1.0-1.2. If the drop is not there yet, slowly up CO2 over a few weeks until at least a 1.0 drop is achieved, and watch fish / livestock carefully. Adjust CO2 down if you notice fish gasping at the surface and consider running an airstone at night when pushing a 1.2 or greater drop. For example, a tank water pH of 7.5 with no CO2 dissolved in it, should reach a pH of 6.5 – 6.3 for CO2 to really shine, and for maximum plant health.

Consistency in CO2 levels is key to plant health. Keep CO2 levels as stable as possible once a desirable level has been reached.
 
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Mmacey

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Chanyi said:
looks more like a red / dark strain of cyanobacteria.

I would look into that, and if it looks like it then you'll have to use chemiclean or blue / green slime remover, and then:

Reduce light intensity if possible.

Reduce photoperiod to 5 hours per day max (until algae has subsided, then slowly increase back up to 8 hours per day over a few weeks).

Ensure you are providing adequate nutrients for the plants (unhealthy plants promote algae).

Dose Flourish Excel or equivalent Met14 at the “after water change” rate on the Excel bottle once per day.

Manually remove all algae you can.

Manually remove excess organics in the tank by gravel vacuuming and cleaning filter media in old tank water every water change.

Manually remove any decaying or dead plant matter.

Increase water change frequency, and the amount of water changed.

Consider spot treating badly affected areas or dipping plants / hardscape in a Flourish Excel, Met14 or H2O2 + water solution. Google search which method you think would work well, and for general ratios to mix a safe solution. Certain plants can’t tolerate these chemicals, so ensure you do a little research prior to dipping / spot treating plants.

If using CO2, ensure CO2 is dropping the pH of the tank water a full 1.0 – 1.2. To do this, measure the pH of tank water with no CO2 dissolved in it, and then measure again 2-3 hours after CO2 has been running. Ensure the drop in pH is a full 1.0-1.2. If the drop is not there yet, slowly up CO2 over a few weeks until at least a 1.0 drop is achieved, and watch fish / livestock carefully. Adjust CO2 down if you notice fish gasping at the surface and consider running an airstone at night when pushing a 1.2 or greater drop. For example, a tank water pH of 7.5 with no CO2 dissolved in it, should reach a pH of 6.5 – 6.3 for CO2 to really shine, and for maximum plant health.

Consistency in CO2 levels is key to plant health. Keep CO2 levels as stable as possible once a desirable level has been reached.
Thank you for your answer and I will look into this. So it's possible that cutting out my fertilizer a while back could have actually made the problem worse due to stunting the growth of the plants? I will get back on a schedule for fertilizers and cut back the light starting today.

I pretty much cut back all of the affected leaves the other day so I think the plants themselves are good for now.

Also, I am not using CO2 at all and the only surface agitation that I have is from my canister filter return. Would you say this is a good or bad thing in a planted tank? Should I add an air stone for more agitation?
 

Chanyi

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Mmacey said:
Also, I am not using CO2 at all and the only surface agitation that I have is from my canister filter return. Would you say this is a good or bad thing in a planted tank? Should I add an air stone for more agitation?
Canister filter creating light surface agitation is adequate.
 

RDcompton03

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Here is a problem that many people have. You are saying that your phosphates "used"to be higher". Well now you have cyno so the phosphates and other nutrients are locked up in your algae so your tests dont look that bad. But they are there, just in the cyno . If you simply kill the cyno with some product, it will decay and immediately release the phosphates and other nutrients back into the water column and start the problem all over again. Remove as much as cyno as you can manually because removing it removes the problem nutrients and prevents them from getting back into your tank. Add some floating plants because they will suck the most nutrients out of the tank the fastest of any type of plant and will also filter or cut down your light so you dont have to worry with adjusting lighting. And finally reduce your feeding. The more food you put in the tank the more nutrients you add that also feed the algae. If you are no longer dosing ferts than you are putting the phosphates in your tank via your fish food. Most all prepared fish foods contain phosphates and some have a lot.
 
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Mmacey

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RDcompton03 said:
Here is a problem that many people have. You are saying that your phosphates "used"to be higher". Well now you have cyno so the phosphates and other nutrients are locked up in your algae so your tests dont look that bad. But they are there, just in the cyno . If you simply kill the cyno with some product, it will decay and immediately release the phosphates and other nutrients back into the water column and start the problem all over again. Remove as much as cyno as you can manually because removing it removes the problem nutrients and prevents them from getting back into your tank. Add some floating plants because they will suck the most nutrients out of the tank the fastest of any type of plant and will also filter or cut down your light so you dont have to worry with adjusting lighting. And finally reduce your feeding. The more food you put in the tank the more nutrients you add that also feed the algae. If you are no longer dosing ferts than you are putting the phosphates in your tank via your fish food. Most all prepared fish foods contain phosphates and some have a lot.
Ahh this makes a lot of sense. Honestly, I was shocked when I tested the water and had low Nitrates and Phosphates. I want to say that when this problem first started my Nitrates were more like 40-60 ppm and Phosphates were 2-3 ppm.

The good news and bad news about feeding is that I have an automatic feeder. It's nice because it's extremely consistent but bad because I'd say 99% chance I was overfeeding with it. I cut the feeding in half and reduced the lighting yesterday though. I will get some floating plants and manually remove as much as I can. Would you recommend something like Hornwort or maybe Java Moss?

With all of this, would you say it's a good idea to hold off on all ferts until the problem is under control? Or should I continue with a low dose of at least potassium sulfate for the plant's health? I have potassium sulfate, potassium nitrate, and potassium mono phosphate on hand.

Chanyi said:
Canister filter creating light surface agitation is adequate.
Thanks!
 
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Mmacey

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So I gave the tank a thorough cleaning yesterday, removing as much as I could. Today there is already probably a quarter of what I cleaned out of the sand back. However, the rocks still look great.

Unfortunately, my local store didn't have much or plants because of everything going on. He's hoping for a shipment next week. I was able to grab some hornwort though.

So at this point I have cut back feedings and reduced my lighting to 6 hours per day. I am planning to get more plants when I can.

Do you think it would be helpful to get a powerhead so that there is some flow on the surface of the sand?
 

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