Psa: Algae Management In The Planted Aquarium

Vishaquatics

HI FishLore,

After years of battling multiple different species of algae and beating it successfully, I have a pretty simplified guide now to having algae free planted tanks.

I can give more in depth reasoning if requested, but here's a general guide to having an algae free planted tank.

Cause of Algae: Ammonia and CO2
All algae species are originally present in the water through spores. The adult algae is what we actually are able to see in our aquariums and this is what we strive to get rid of. An abundance of ammonia and lack of CO2 is a perfect combination that allows for spores to become adult algae.

Algae is NOT caused by "excess" nitrates and phosphates. Otherwise I would have an algae farm when I dose 60ppm of nitrate per week and dose 15ppm phosphate per week. Algae is caused by organic decay (produces ammonia) and an insufficient amount or fluctuation in CO2.

What causes organic decay? Unhealthy or transitioning plants that are lacking sufficient nutrients and/or are shedding their emersed growth. As a result of these conditions, the plants release ammonia as they decay and die.

What causes an insufficient amount of CO2 or fluctuations? A lack of CO2 injection or the use of DIY CO2.

Note: I am not stating that light "causes" algae. This is because aquatic plants can be grown in the strongest source of light (direct sunlight) without algae, so it goes to show that if you have high enough CO2 and fertilizer levels, you won't have an issue with algae even with super strong light sources.

Algae Treatment and Cure:

The first treatment is simply manual removal. I do not condone the use of algaecides unless it is truly the last option or the issues in the tank have been fixed but the adult algae needs to be removed. Algaecides like hydrogen peroxide and excel when used in high quantities can pose an issue for the beneficial bacteria colonies in the tank.

The second treatment option is the use of a UV sterilizer. This is really to be used after the algae has been manually removed or in the case of green water. The UV sterilizer will kill the algal spores or adult algae floating in the water column.

Here's the cure for most algaes:

Start fertilizing your aquariums with a complete formulation of nutrients including nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium, and the rest of the trace elements (zinc, boron, molybdenum, etc). Thrive by NilocG is a great option for beginners and dry fertilizers are a better option for the more advanced aquarists or those with large aquariums.

Inject CO2 into the water. If you're already doing this and still have algae issues, your CO2 levels aren't high enough. Disregard your drop checker or your pH/kH tests and just watch your livestock. Bump the CO2 high enough until the point that your fish become slightly stressed and start to gasp at the surface for air. Then lower it just a tad down. Lower it just slightly so that the fish return to their normal state, but the CO2 levels aren't lowered significantly. This threshold CO2 level between stress and no stress is where you want the CO2 level to be at permanently. This level is the perfect concentration of around 20-30ppm CO2 which is ideal for aquatic plant growth.

Increase your filtration. Over filtration is often better than under filtration. Try to use established filter media if you have any. Increased filtration equates to less ammonia and allows for a larger margin of error in the aquarium.

For those who do NOT want to start CO2 injection:
Your journey to an algae free tank just got 10x more difficult. Lowtech tanks are often famed for being "low maintenance" but that is anything but the truth. Having an algae free lowtech tank requires optimal and fragile balance. Not saying it isn't possible but it is way more difficult than it leads on to be. In order to have an algae free lowtech tank, do a split photoperiod and fertilize sufficiently. Keep the photoperiod at around 8-9 hours and split it 50/50 with a 2 or 3 hour rest period in between. Thrive is perfect for lowtech tanks. Experiment with lighting levels. Some lights are straight up way too powerful for a lowtech tank. Too much light without enough CO2 and fertilizer is asking for an algae disaster. Get a high quality 6500K light for a lowtech aquarium. 6500K CFL grow bulbs often are great for lowtech aquariums because they aren't too powerful, they're cheap, and they last quite long. Make you sure you keep up with fertilization and filtration.

Pressurized CO2 does not have to be complicated or expensive. It is very easy to use and makes a HUGE difference.

Here are is a specific list of algae I've encountered (ranked from easiest first to most difficult last) and how I got rid of them:

1) Diatoms:
Diatoms are simply caused by new tanks. A lack of sufficiently established media and high light often paired with no ferts or CO2 will cause diatoms. Diatoms are also common in tanks with sand although there has been compelling evidence as well that the silicates in the sand do not trigger diatom explosions. The cure to diatoms is simply to wait it out. Let your filter media become more established and keep fertilizing your plants sufficiently. Keep up with water changes and within a few weeks or days, the diatoms will be gone.

2) Green Water Algae:
If you notice your water starting to get cloudy or developing a green tint, act immediately as this is green water algae. This is a free floating algae that makes the water a dark green if not addressed immediately. It is often caused by excess ammonia in the water due to plants decaying and/or overfeeding food. Large water changes, increasing filtration, and adding UV sterilization is the best way to get rid of this algae. Adding UV sterilizers are EXTREMELY effective and it is the only way I've quickly gotten rid of this algae without having to perform multiple large water changes over the course of many weeks.

3) Slimy Filamentous Hair Algae:
This is the most primal sort of hair algae. It is caused by excessive ammonia in the water. To cure this, manually remove it and then increase filtration and flow. Also increase fertilization and CO2 to be on the safe side as well. This is actually very easy to get rid of and often disappears within days of fixing the necessary issues.

4) Green Spot Algae:
Getting rid of this algae is very easy. It is usually due to a lack of CO2 and phosphates. Simply increase phosphate dosing to a healthy 5ppm per dose and if that doesn't work within a few weeks, increase the CO2 as well. The only reason why this can be slightly difficult is that it doesn't go away within days or hours like some of the other algae, and can be a bit persistent.

5) Black Beard Algae and Staghorn:

This algae is often notorious for getting rid of, but that is often because treatment is often attempted incorrectly. Most people blast this algae with excel and hydrogen peroxide but it will come back because the root issue hasn't been addressed. This algae is due only to fluctuating and low CO2 levels. Very easy to fix. Simply fix your CO2 levels (increase it or get a pressurized system) and the algae will turn red with hours and disappear within days. This treatment works for both staghorn and BBA. If you have BBA, you most likely also have staghorn algae and vice versa. The two show up when there isn't enough CO2 or fluctuating levels.

6) Green Hair Algae:
The good old hair algae. It isn't coarse, but it isn't exactly soft to the touch either. It literally looks and feels like hair. This algae is the culmination of everything out of balance in the tank and it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what caused unlike BBA and staghorn algae. The best thing to do with this algae is to remove as much as you can manually and then upgrade or clean the filters, increase CO2. Keep up with water changes and eventually this algae will go away. Once it goes away, it generally doesn't come back as long as good conditions are maintained.

7) Cladophora:
This is a very difficult algae to eradicate, but not impossible. It is caused by a lack of CO2, but it tends to be very hardy unlike BBA and staghorn algae. Manual removal is often best and then the increase CO2 should kill the remaining algae.

8) Spirogyra:
This is by far THE WORST algae I've ever dealt with. Even after increasing filtration, increasing CO2, and really dialing in on my fertilization regimen, I still battled this algae for a long time. The problem with it wasn't that it was growing super thick and suffocating plants, but that it's growth was so wispy and sticky that it was definitely visibly tangled in the plant, but it was impossible to try and remove. Spirogyra often doesn't grow thick and only establishes itself in tanks that have been set up for a long time. This is likely the last type of algae your tank will experience before it is truly algae free. Even after fixing everything, it may still persist, just little strands tangled up in the plants. It won't grow too much more, but it will be there. So what's the cure here? Time and patience. It is a long lived algae that is very persistent. But if conditions have really been made better, the algae will eventually disappear and stop growing. It takes a LONG time though.

I hope this guide helps you if you're struggling with algae. If you'd like more information or any of my scientific reasoning, please feel free to let me know.
 

Crazycoryfishlady

What about cyanobacteria? We switched my moms tank from sand to glass pebbles due to diatoms and other algae not leaving the white sand alone.
Mom didn't like it.
Told her changing it wouldnt fix the problem, but now there's excessive cyanobacteria in the tank.
It makes a thick film on the walls, decor and sometimes edge of the waterline.
There aren't many plants in her tank, and I have plans to change this so I can try to outcompete the cyano.
Do you have any advice for it?
 

Vishaquatics

What about cyanobacteria? We switched my moms tank from sand to glass pebbles due to diatoms and other algae not leaving the white sand alone.
Mom didn't like it.
Told her changing it wouldnt fix the problem, but now there's excessive cyanobacteria in the tank.
It makes a thick film on the walls, decor and sometimes edge of the waterline.
There aren't many plants in her tank, and I have plans to change this so I can try to outcompete the cyano.
Do you have any advice for it?

How's the filtration, nitrate levels, and what species of plants does she have in her tank? Do you use fertilizers at all?

I believe I've encountered blue green algae (cyanobacteria) in the beginning of a few tanks, but I'm not exactly sure if that is exactly what I encountered. Regardless, online sources recommend increasing nitrate levels and I'd personally recommend an increase in flow around the tank. Maybe add a circulation pump. Sometimes a strong current discourages weak algae like blue green algae from sticking to surfaces and this kills them.
 

Crazycoryfishlady

How's the filtration, nitrate levels, and what species of plants does she have in her tank? Do you use fertilizers at all?

I believe I've encountered blue green algae (cyanobacteria) in the beginning of a few tanks, but I'm not exactly sure if that is exactly what I encountered. Regardless, online sources recommend increasing nitrate levels and I'd personally recommend an increase in flow around the tank. Maybe add a circulation pump. Sometimes a strong current discourages weak algae like blue green algae from sticking to surfaces and this kills them.

I think it's only got four. plants.
For most of the time it only had twp.
An amazon sword with a massive root system, a small crypt parva, and a newly added young val, and another type of crypt.
I haven't dosed ferts, and she's only got a single betta.
I don't test the nitrates often, or do as many water changes on this tank as I should.
It's just got a whisper 10 in it, but I could try to get a sponge filter and some bubble stones instead.
Do you think a long stone strip on the bottom would help deter it?
He betta has quite large fins so I don't want to increase above filtration too much or it'll become too difficult for him to swim.

Maybe just moving the filter to the middle instead of one side? I do notice the algae only sticks to the smooth solid rock instead of the pebbly bottom of the tank when it's by the filter.

I want to add a lot more plants, probably more swords and crypts, maybe some anubias and a mat of marimo moss of java/christmas moss?
Do you have any plant suggestions? Would stems like bacopa be better since they'll grow feeder roots?
She has one mud snail in there too.
Usually nitrates can get pretty high though, probably up to 30 or more at times, and then dropped to around 15 when water is changed a lot.
It might even go higher than that occasionally due to neglect.
My mom doesn't do water changes much.

I have flourish but don't dose it.
Thinking about getting two bottles of thrive just cause, and looking to get fluval root tabs.
Do you recommend something else?

Should add some java ferns huh
 

Vishaquatics

I think it's only got four. plants.
For most of the time it only had twp.
An amazon sword with a massive root system, a small crypt parva, and a newly added young val, and another type of crypt.
I haven't dosed ferts, and she's only got a single betta.
I don't test the nitrates often, or do as many water changes on this tank as I should.
It's just got a whisper 10 in it, but I could try to get a sponge filter and some bubble stones instead.
Do you think a long stone strip on the bottom would help deter it?
He betta has quite large fins so I don't want to increase above filtration too much or it'll become too difficult for him to swim.

Maybe just moving the filter to the middle instead of one side? I do notice the algae only sticks to the smooth solid rock instead of the pebbly bottom of the tank when it's by the filter.

I want to add a lot more plants, probably more swords and crypts, maybe some anubias and a mat of marimo moss of java/christmas moss?
Do you have any plant suggestions? Would stems like bacopa be better since they'll grow feeder roots?
She has one mud snail in there too.
Usually nitrates can get pretty high though, probably up to 30 or more at times, and then dropped to around 15 when water is changed a lot.
It might even go higher than that occasionally due to neglect.
My mom doesn't do water changes much.

I have flourish but don't dose it.
Thinking about getting two bottles of thrive just cause, and looking to get fluval root tabs.
Do you recommend something else?

Here's what I'd recommend.

1) Acquire more plants. Don't go for java fern, java moss, any mosses, anubias, and crypts. They grow too slow to outcompete anything. Try something like wisteria, broadleaf watersprite, ludwigia repens, rotala rotundifolia, bacopa monnieri, creeping jenny, dwarf sagittaria, guppy grass, anacharis, etc. Pack this tank full of fast growing plants.

2) Add a circulation pump. The Blue green algae has formed in a deadzone without flow. Pumps are relatively cheap ($7 for a small one on amazon). Hopefully the pump is adjustable so the flow won't be too much for the betta.

3) Dose Thrive. Root tabs aren't really necessary and flourish is quite ineffective as a good fertilizer. Do a 50% water atleast once or twice a week. I'd only recommend dosing Thrive if the actual plant load increases.
 

Crazycoryfishlady

Here's what I'd recommend.

1) Acquire more plants. Don't go far java fern, java moss, any mosses, anubias, and crypts. They grow too slow to outcompete anything. Try something like wisteria, broadleaf watersprite, ludwigia repens, rotala rotundifolia, bacopa monnieri, creeping jenny, dwarf sagittaria, guppy grass, anacharis, etc. Pack this tank full of fast growing plants.

2) Add a circulation pump. The Blue green algae has formed in a deadzone without flow. Pumps are relatively cheap ($7 for a small one on amazon). Hopefully the pump is adjustable so the flow won't be too much for the betta.

3) Dose Thrive. Root tabs aren't really necessary and flourish is quite ineffective as a good fertilizer. Do a 50% water atleast once or twice a week. I'd only recommend dosing Thrive if the actual plant load increases.

Awesome advice.
Thank you. I do have some wisteria, bacopa and a small amount of dwarf sag and can get rotala and more ludwigia. I'm also going to message you about my plants in my other 10 gallon betta tank, that one doesn't have a huge algae problem, but it has other problems with the plants. I'll have to do that after my week vacation, the lights just got turned off lol
Hopefully I can fix my moms tank up and make it look super nice for her and her betta.
 

skar

I was all proud of myself for running plants without co2...
Kinda burst my bubble here.

I don't mind green spot algea, but the bba is a real pest.
 

Vishaquatics

I was all proud of myself for running plants without co2...
Kinda burst my bubble here.

I don't mind green spot algea, but the bba is a real pest.

Yeah, I used to be a huge Lowtech dude until I found CO2. It really makes things way easier for the tank and makes my overall maintenance each way less.

If you do choose to add CO2, I can almost guarantee your BBA will go away. It has worked for me and my clients every single time
 

angelcraze

Wow beautiful write up! I really appreciate it

Keep the photoperiod at around 8-9 hours and split it 50/50 with a 2 or 3 hour rest period in between.
I will increase my light rest siesta to 2.5hrs. Do you think I need complete darkness? I have a low PAR light that stays on because I like the look of the subdued lighting. Is 7hrs ok or should I increase it to 8hrs?

Thanks a bunch!
 

Vishaquatics

Wow beautiful write up! I really appreciate it


I will increase my light rest siesta to 2.5hrs. Do you think I need complete darkness? I have a low PAR light that stays on because I like the look of the subdued lighting. Is 7hrs ok or should I increase it to 8hrs?

Thanks a bunch!

What are the tank specs and what type of algae are you facing?
 

angelcraze

What are the tank specs and what type of algae are you facing?
I know it's more complicated, I'm trying a combination of things. But thanks for asking, so here goes...

It's a 120 gallon tank. 60" x 18" x 26" high.
Filtration:
Eheim 2075, airstone (could be increased)
Lighting:
18 x 1W 10000k LEDs with 90° lense angles
8 x 1W 6500k LEDs with 90° lense angles
On for 4hrs, off for 2.5hrs, on for 4hrs (adjusted from 1hr siesta)

RBG 50W fixture with .02W diodes and 120° lense
3W 10000k backlight
On for 7hrs

Conditions
Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate 10-20ppm

Parameters
KH 3
GH 3
PH 7.4
TDS ~100
Temp 26.5c / 80F

Plants
Amazon sword (about 10)
Melon sword (like 15-20, some are new and still transitioning)
Hygro araguaria and pantanol (angustifolia)
ReneikI sp.minI (grows green with red undersides)
Val rubra (not so rubra haha)
Dwarf sag (needs root nutrients, added a couple Osmocote tabs recently)
Water lettuce, giant duckweed, riccia
Random mix of houseplants and bamboo growing emersed

Fauna
8 angelfish
3 blue rams
1 BN pleco
4 tetras (in the middle of restocking)

The algae is a bit of green spot and diatoms. Green spot on the back glass at the backlight area, and in the front glass if I don't keep up. I get diatoms in all my tanks, so I'm not sure exactly what's causing it for me. My pleco eats them though, so not a huge problem, just there. To help make the tank healthier (because I believe the healthier the plants, the healthier the fish, the healthier the tank), I've started adding more fast growing or stem plants, floating and emersed plants, siphoning well where I can, keeping filters clean, and recently started dosing ferts and added some more root tabs. I also have swords planted in dirted pots. I will be adding a container of dirt for the vals.

Root tabs are API, Flourish and Osmocote.


20190512_133856.jpg

I had an intestinal worms outbreak in this tank and finished treatment 1.5 years ago. During treatment I kept decor simple, removed extras and scrapped my stargrass carpet to make siphoning easier. I've been adding DW here and there and working on a foreground again.

Hope that's enough! Thanks!
 

Vishaquatics

I know it's more complicated, I'm trying a combination of things. But thanks for asking, so here goes...

It's a 120 gallon tank. 60" x 18" x 26" high.
Filtration:
Eheim 2075, airstone (could be increased)
Lighting:
18 x 1W 10000k LEDs with 90° lense angles
8 x 1W 6500k LEDs with 90° lense angles
On for 4hrs, off for 2.5hrs, on for 4hrs (adjusted from 1hr siesta)

RBG 50W fixture with .02W diodes and 120° lense
3W 10000k backlight
On for 7hrs

Conditions
Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate 10-20ppm

Parameters
KH 3
GH 3
PH 7.4
TDS ~100
Temp 26.5c / 80F

Plants
Amazon sword (about 10)
Melon sword (like 15-20)
Hygro araguaria and pantanol (angustifolia)
ReneikI sp.minI (grows green with red undersides)
Val rubra (not so rubra haha)
Water lettuce, giant duckweed, riccia
Random mix of houseplants and bamboo growing emersed

Fauna
8 angelfish
3 blue rams
1 BN pleco
4 tetras (in the middle of restocking)

The algae is a bit of green spot and diatoms. Green spot on the back glass at the backlight area, and in the front glass if I don't keep up. I get diatoms in all my tanks, so I'm not sure exactly what's causing it for me. My pleco eats them though, so not a huge problem, just there. To help make the tank healthier (because I believe the healthier the plants, the healthier the fish, the healthier the tank), I've started adding more fast growing or stem plants, floating and emersed plants, siphoning well where I can, keeping filters clean, and recently started dosing ferts and added some more root tabs. I also have swords planted in dirted pots. I will be adding a container of dirt for the vals.

Root tabs are API, Flourish and Osmocote.


20190512_133856.jpg

I had an intestinal worms outbreak in this tank and finished treatment 1.5 years ago. During treatment I kept decor simple, removed extras and scrapped my stargrass carpet to make siphoning easier. I've been adding DW here and there and working on a foreground again.

Hope that's enough! Thanks!

Beautiful tank! Thanks for the extra info.

You are likely getting the green spot algae due to low phosphates. The ferts you use don't have much phosphate in it, so I'd recommend to either start dosing a new all in one fert or to purchase KH2PO4, which is purely phosphate fertilizer. I'd also make the phosphate fertilizer a water column fertilizer rather than a root fertilizer. The lighting doesn't seem to be an issue here. If anything, I think you've got it dialed in quite well.
 

Vishaquatics

For anyone wondering, I recently compiled a list of materials and prices needed to make a BRAND NEW pressurized CO2 system. This is my personal set up and it is very economical.

I did all my CO2 systems on a budget and they work quite well.

$30 7lb New CO2 tank- https://beveragelements.com/beverag...ylinders/7-lb-co2-cylinder-steel-recertified/
It's not amazon, but I've purchased 4 cylinders from these guys and their product is really good!

$52 regulator (I use this one)-

$10 CO2 diffuser:

$10 CO2 tubing:

There, a fully equipped, brand new, and pressurized CO2 system for $102. It's quite a deal for a fully pressurized system.

You could probably lower the price if you're able to find used regulators, tubing, diffusers, or a used tank.
 

-Mak-

Yeah, when I was starting out I thought a good light was the most important factor and only dosed flourish, barely knew you could inject CO2. I got a really nice Fluval CFL, perfect size fixture for my small tank, except it turned out to be too powerful and I had so much algae :'D

I've found the best algae prevention to be a large, healthy, growing plant mass. It may be even more effective than light limitation.
 

Vishaquatics

Yeah, when I was starting out I thought a good light was the most important factor and only dosed flourish, barely knew you could inject CO2. I got a really nice Fluval CFL, perfect size fixture for my small tank, except it turned out to be too powerful and I had so much algae :'D

I've found the best algae prevention to be a large, healthy, growing plant mass. It may be even more effective than light limitation.

I agree with that, but in order to have a large, healthy plant mass, there needs to be adequate fertilization and that usually includes CO2 injection and macro + micro fertilization. I never recommend light limitation unless the person has a tank without CO2. In that case, the only option left would be to limit the light.
 

Merilial

Thanks for this guide! I'm hoping to start a planted tank -- I was going to do a low tech set up but your CO2 setup post really has me considering otherwise!
 

Dgm

You can have a beutiful planted tank using low tech. Start simple.
 

Vishaquatics

You can have a beutiful planted tank using low tech. Start simple.

Agreed. However it is a lot easier to use CO2 to begin with. It’s so easy to use and makes a huge difference in what you can grow and algae management.
 

Dgm


20190509_111604.jpg Just hate to hear someone doubting if they want to try. We all love this hobby so much we tend to jump in the deep end I have a big tank at home but this small one at work takes no effort at all and it very easy and enjoyable,
 

Vishaquatics


20190509_111604.jpg Just hate to hear someone doubting if they want to try. We all love this hobby so much we tend to jump in the deep end I have a big tank at home but this small one at work takes no effort at all and it very easy and enjoyable,

Nice tank. However, there’s visible hair algae in there. This post was meant for people who want to create an algae free tank. Anyone can set up and enjoy a Lowtech tank as long as they are also okay with enjoying the algae that will almost always come along with it.
 

nikm128

Got anything against purple algae?
 

Vishaquatics

That's a variety of the staghorn/bba type algaes. Only way to get rid of it is increasing the CO2
 

nikm128

I'm not injecting any CO2 on that tank, would it do any good to turn off the airstones then?
 

Vishaquatics

I'm not injecting any CO2 on that tank, would it do any good to turn off the airstones then?

Most likely not, the CO2 needs to reach a concentration of around 30ppm and it won’t get anywhere close even if the air is turned off
 

nikm128

Hmmm, I'm a bit puzzled. Before I added the plants to this tank and completed the stock, it was nothing but a little bit of green spot algae that I left for the snails to graze on. The purple algae just appeared a day or two ago while the spot algae almost vanished completely, so I'm assuming it is being outcompeted. Unless I'm mistaken, plants release CO2 at night yes? And more fish use more oxygen, and produce more CO2? I don't understand how there would suddenly be a lack of CO2 in the tank.
 

angelcraze

nikm128 Was the water in your cleaning bucket purple? Or do you see actual purple algae? I once had purple algae and it was the water in the cleaning bucket. It was after an algae or bacteria (not sure) die off. So makes me think it's either dead algae spores or another algae/bacteria outcompeting like you said. It didn't take long to get rid of it with water changes Kind of curious though if anyone knows for sure!

Tx Vishaquatics (Koiman) for your help. The water fert I'm using is Profito Easy Life. I should get a phosphate test for sure. I will say my Manicipality uses phosphates to raise pH. Is it the sane form? My pH stays at 7.4 despite my KH and GH only bring 3 degrees in that tank. So I'm wondering if I already have phosphates, and possibly too much? Can too much phosphate cause diatoms and green spot? I always thought green spot was due to higher nitrates. Unless it's a balance between the two I need? In any case, I'm going to get a phosphate test, thank you!

Also considering co2, but because I have so many tanks and move fish often, I'm afraid I'll need co2 on all my tanks or I won't be happy anymore with my other tanks. My other tanks are fully dirted. Thoughts?
 

Vishaquatics

Hmmm, I'm a bit puzzled. Before I added the plants to this tank and completed the stock, it was nothing but a little bit of green spot algae that I left for the snails to graze on. The purple algae just appeared a day or two ago while the spot algae almost vanished completely, so I'm assuming it is being outcompeted. Unless I'm mistaken, plants release CO2 at night yes? And more fish use more oxygen, and produce more CO2? I don't understand how there would suddenly be a lack of CO2 in the tank.

Fish and plants do produce CO2 (plants at night like you mentioned), but it’s not nearly in high enough concentrations to actually make a difference. The average tank only has around 2-3ppm of CO2 granted there’s no injection. The purpose of adding CO2 into a tank is to allow the plants to really thrive and grow. Once the plants are thriving, they will produce allelopathic chemicals which kill algal growth. CO2 levels optimally need to be 30ppm or in the ballpark. Sometimes even higher
 

Vishaquatics

nikm128 Was the water in your cleaning bucket purple? Or do you see actual purple algae? I once had purple algae and it was the water in the cleaning bucket. It was after an algae or bacteria (not sure) die off. So makes me think it's either dead algae spores or another algae/bacteria outcompeting like you said. It didn't take long to get rid of it with water changes Kind of curious though if anyone knows for sure!

Tx Vishaquatics (Koiman) for your help. The water fert I'm using is Profito Easy Life. I should get a phosphate test for sure. I will say my Manicipality uses phosphates to raise pH. Is it the sane form? My pH stays at 7.4 despite my KH and GH only bring 3 degrees in that tank. So I'm wondering if I already have phosphates, and possibly too much? Can too much phosphate cause diatoms and green spot? I always thought green spot was due to higher nitrates. Unless it's a balance between the two I need? In any case, I'm going to get a phosphate test, thank you!

Also considering co2, but because I have so many tanks and move fish often, I'm afraid I'll need co2 on all my tanks or I won't be happy anymore with my other tanks. My other tanks are fully dirted. Thoughts?

Greenspot algae is normally caused by low phosphates, but can also be caused by a low amount of CO2. Greenspot algae can be one of the harder algaes to fight off. In my shallow tanks that receive an absurd amount of direct sunlight, I used to have trouble keeping the GSA away even when there was no other algae. I couldn’t get my CO2 levels high enough via injection so I simply added a shade cloth to cut down on light and the GSA went away. Now, that’s not normally the case for most indoor tanks since the lighting from LEDs and fluorescents are nowhere close to the suns output.

My go to for getting rid of GSA in indoor tanks is to up phosphate dosing (note that phosphate tests are not very accurate) and to increase CO2.

If you do choose to do CO2 on multiple tanks, there are regulators where one gas tank can inject many tanks. They have some GLA ones which can do up to 5 or so tanks but they’re very expensive
 

Wraithen

Fish and plants do produce CO2 (plants at night like you mentioned), but it’s not nearly in high enough concentrations to actually make a difference. The average tank only has around 2-3ppm of CO2 granted there’s no injection. The purpose of adding CO2 into a tank is to allow the plants to really thrive and grow. Once the plants are thriving, they will produce allelopathic chemicals which kill algal growth. CO2 levels optimally need to be 30ppm or in the ballpark. Sometimes even higher
Just curious where you got the allelopathy idea from. Its popped in my head from time to time to explain why plant growth seems to combat algae, but aside from plants hitting other plants, I haven't heard of it being studied, and even then, only in limited amounts. Has someone conducted studies or is this a small theory?
 

Vishaquatics

Just curious where you got the allelopathy idea from. Its popped in my head from time to time to explain why plant growth seems to combat algae, but aside from plants hitting other plants, I haven't heard of it being studied, and even then, only in limited amounts. Has someone conducted studies or is this a small theory?

There are studies online using aquatic plants (I believe duckweed and hydrilla) were some of them.

I believe it though because it really makes sense. After giving it a lot of thought and reflecting on my own personal experiences, I came to a conclusion. Algae is super opportunistic and can use a variety of nutrients and CO2, etc. So what gives plants the edge over algae? It has to be some form of chemical warfare/inhibition. There is NO way that plants “outcompete” algae since I’ve had algae living in water with 0 nitrate 0 nitrite 0 ammonia and literally received no fish food or has any fish. It’s insane. Algae can live at such a bare minimum.

The reason why CO2 injection is almost vital in combo with ferts is to facilitate tremendously lush and vibrant growth which gives the plant enough energy to create allelopathic chemicals. That’s also why a dense plant mass in the beginning is vital for all tanks so that there is a high enough concentration of allelopathic chemicals in the water. It might also explain why a tank full of slow growers is more likely to get algae as the overall metabolic rate is much slower so less allelopathic chemicals are produced compared to crazy fast growers like Anacharis and rotalas.

At this point, I’ve sort of realized that the presence of algae is just an indication that something is wrong with the plants due to lack of CO2, lack of flow, nutrient imbalances, etc.
 

angelcraze

Greenspot algae is normally caused by low phosphates, but can also be caused by a low amount of CO2. Greenspot algae can be one of the harder algaes to fight off. In my shallow tanks that receive an absurd amount of direct sunlight, I used to have trouble keeping the GSA away even when there was no other algae. I couldn’t get my CO2 levels high enough via injection so I simply added a shade cloth to cut down on light and the GSA went away. Now, that’s not normally the case for most indoor tanks since the lighting from LEDs and fluorescents are nowhere close to the suns output.

My go to for getting rid of GSA in indoor tanks is to up phosphate dosing (note that phosphate tests are not very accurate) and to increase CO2.

If you do choose to do CO2 on multiple tanks, there are regulators where one gas tank can inject many tanks. They have some GLA ones which can do up to 5 or so tanks but they’re very expensive
Thanks! I won't get a phosphate test then The green spot is not that bad I guess. It's easy for me just to use a blade at water change time. I'm sure my pleco eats the algae after it's dislodged. It's mostly where my backlight is. It's only 3w of 10000k LED, but grows the algae since it's directly behind the glass with an opaque white background.

I used to get them in my 90g with similar lighting, but now that the plants are dense and sweeping the surface, I don't see any anymore. Actually nothing! I also added water lettuce to help shade and suck up nutrients.

Do you know if the phosphate salts my manicipality uses to raise pH are the same that plants use?
 

Vishaquatics

Do you know if the phosphate salts my manicipality uses to raise pH are the same that plants use?

Sorry, no clue about that
 

PascalKrypt

I don't know, if CO2 and flow are so crucial to not getting algae, why do all the outdoor ponds in our nearby forest (full of decaying matter, the pond floor is several inches of mucus before reaching soil) have zero visible algae? In fact, what would even be the outdoor equivalent to CO2 injections?
Not saying that it isn't useful, but I have trouble accepting it as the critical factor in not getting algae when there are loads of examples of non-CO2 injected bodies of water with zero flow that nonetheless do not experience algae issues.

I do like that chemical warfare theory as a better explanation of why heavy planting with fast growers seems to prevent algae from forming in a new tank than outcompeting. Especially since a lot of fast growers are free-floating and would have no advantage over access to nutrients than free-floating algae (compared to rooted plants). It makes a lot of sense.

I'm curious if in your experience, temperature matters? I seem to experience more algae issues in heated tanks than unheated ones (and at that, the more the higher the temp is), but it may just be due to other factors. I have not set up two identical tanks to test...
 

Vishaquatics

I don't know, if CO2 and flow are so crucial to not getting algae, why do all the outdoor ponds in our nearby forest (full of decaying matter, the pond floor is several inches of mucus before reaching soil) have zero visible algae? In fact, what would even be the outdoor equivalent to CO2 injections?
Not saying that it isn't useful, but I have trouble accepting it as the critical factor in not getting algae when there are loads of examples of non-CO2 injected bodies of water with zero flow that nonetheless do not experience algae issues.

I do like that chemical warfare theory as a better explanation of why heavy planting with fast growers seems to prevent algae from forming in a new tank than outcompeting. Especially since a lot of fast growers are free-floating and would have no advantage over access to nutrients than free-floating algae (compared to rooted plants). It makes a lot of sense.

I'm curious if in your experience, temperature matters? I seem to experience more algae issues in heated tanks than unheated ones (and at that, the more the higher the temp is), but it may just be due to other factors. I have not set up two identical tanks to test...

That’s a good point you bring up about these ponds and lakes with zero flow yet no algae and tons of organic decay. There is a ton of CO2 in these bodies of water, both created by tons and tons of organic decay as well as from CO2 enriched groundwater. There are many ponds and streams in areas such as Brazil (Barr report had a thread about this), where they actually measured the ppm of dissolved CO2 in the water and it was an astonishing 20-30ppm of CO2 dissolved in the water. So these seemingly “non injected” bodies of water are saturated with a ton of CO2 and plants grow great there as a result. Even though there is no flow, the CO2 is still nicely distributed because the entire substrate is likely producing the CO2, not just one small point in our tank when we inject CO2 from a point source. That’s why flow is necessary in our tanks because it allows for good CO2 distribution.

The only reason why we use CO2 injection is because it allows the plants to reach their full potential and truly thrive. I think it’s reasonable that the last function that plant cares about is producing the allelopathic chemicals to fight off algae. The primary objective is to simply sustain itself and propagate. Ensuring minimal competition (aka algae and other plants), probably comes last so they only produce these allelopathic chemicals when they’re truly happy AKA when they’re growing in CO2 and nutrient rich water.

As for the organic decay producing tons of ammonia, the reason why it’s likely not producing much algae is because the ecosystem has been around for (probably) many decades or even centuries, giving ample time for the body of water to create a huge base of beneficial bacteria. The bacteria convert the ammonia rapidly. The key to this in nature is a deep substrate which is likely the case in these ponds and lakes where the substrate is like 10 or so feet of straight mulm with tons of great bacteria.

Link to CO2 in natural bodies of water:
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/scie...reams-leak-a-lot-of-carbon-dioxide-180947791/

https://eos.org/research-spotlights/why-is-there-so-much-carbon-dioxide-in-rivers

 

Wraithen

That’s a good point you bring up about these ponds and lakes with zero flow yet no algae and tons of organic decay. There is a ton of CO2 in these bodies of water, both created by tons and tons of organic decay as well as from CO2 enriched groundwater. There are many ponds and streams in areas such as Brazil (Barr report had a thread about this), where they actually measured the ppm of dissolved CO2 in the water and it was an astonishing 20-30ppm of CO2 dissolved in the water. So these seemingly “non injected” bodies of water are saturated with a ton of CO2 and plants grow great there as a result. Even though there is no flow, the CO2 is still nicely distributed because the entire substrate is likely producing the CO2, not just one small point in our tank when we inject CO2 from a point source. That’s why flow is necessary in our tanks because it allows for good CO2 distribution.

The only reason why we use CO2 injection is because it allows the plants to reach their full potential and truly thrive. I think it’s reasonable that the last function that plant cares about is producing the allelopathic chemicals to fight off algae. The primary objective is to simply sustain itself and propagate. Ensuring minimal competition (aka algae and other plants), probably comes last so they only produce these allelopathic chemicals when they’re truly happy AKA when they’re growing in CO2 and nutrient rich water.

As for the organic decay producing tons of ammonia, the reason why it’s likely not producing much algae is because the ecosystem has been around for (probably) many decades or even centuries, giving ample time for the body of water to create a huge base of beneficial bacteria. The bacteria convert the ammonia rapidly. The key to this in nature is a deep substrate which is likely the case in these ponds and lakes where the substrate is like 10 or so feet of straight mulm with tons of great bacteria.

Link to CO2 in natural bodies of water:
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/scie...reams-leak-a-lot-of-carbon-dioxide-180947791/

https://eos.org/research-spotlights/why-is-there-so-much-carbon-dioxide-in-rivers
So you're saying I need to add about 6 inches of leaf litter. Got it.
 

Vishaquatics

So you're saying I need to add about 6 inches of leaf litter. Got it.

Try around a foot, have the tank constantly fed from a groundwater spring, and also have some peat formation on limestone and BAM, you got CO2 enrichment
 

PascalKrypt

That’s a good point you bring up about these ponds and lakes with zero flow yet no algae and tons of organic decay. There is a ton of CO2 in these bodies of water, both created by tons and tons of organic decay as well as from CO2 enriched groundwater. There are many ponds and streams in areas such as Brazil (Barr report had a thread about this), where they actually measured the ppm of dissolved CO2 in the water and it was an astonishing 20-30ppm of CO2 dissolved in the water. So these seemingly “non injected” bodies of water are saturated with a ton of CO2 and plants grow great there as a result. Even though there is no flow, the CO2 is still nicely distributed because the entire substrate is likely producing the CO2, not just one small point in our tank when we inject CO2 from a point source. That’s why flow is necessary in our tanks because it allows for good CO2 distribution.

The only reason why we use CO2 injection is because it allows the plants to reach their full potential and truly thrive. I think it’s reasonable that the last function that plant cares about is producing the allelopathic chemicals to fight off algae. The primary objective is to simply sustain itself and propagate. Ensuring minimal competition (aka algae and other plants), probably comes last so they only produce these allelopathic chemicals when they’re truly happy AKA when they’re growing in CO2 and nutrient rich water.

As for the organic decay producing tons of ammonia, the reason why it’s likely not producing much algae is because the ecosystem has been around for (probably) many decades or even centuries, giving ample time for the body of water to create a huge base of beneficial bacteria. The bacteria convert the ammonia rapidly. The key to this in nature is a deep substrate which is likely the case in these ponds and lakes where the substrate is like 10 or so feet of straight mulm with tons of great bacteria.

Link to CO2 in natural bodies of water:
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/scie...reams-leak-a-lot-of-carbon-dioxide-180947791/

https://eos.org/research-spotlights/why-is-there-so-much-carbon-dioxide-in-rivers

Thank you, this was very insightful! I actually have a tank with both its set-up water, some of the plants and the substrate (aforementioned decaying mucus) taken from a pond (we happen to have one in our backyard, it isn't man-made or maintained and is always crystal clear. Bursting with tadpoles and nymphs every spring). It has been running since February, has no filter or heater, a minute airstone that I sometimes turn on for some surface agitation when it gets warm. I have done a grand total of 2 water changes since its set-up, 50% soon after set-up and 20% this week. There has never been a speck of algae or fungus in it, the water isn't even tannin stained to my surprise. Guess this would explain why, I essentially super-seeded my tank. I have other tanks with near identical set-up, except the soil was taken from the yard outside (after rainfall or otherwise in moist places). They are also nearly algae free with no water movement, though this is little bit of fine hair algae below the duckweed in the back, behind the lights. It does have a heater though.

One tank (with a set-up identical to the one above, but without heater) with a load of algae that I purposely created by tossing in wooden branches from outside turned crystal clear within a handful of days after I started a daphnia/seed shrimp colony in there. It seems they manage the algae tremendously well when there are no/few predators around that eat them. I was thinking that may also help explain the clarity of water/plants in natural ponds, which all have a high density of micro-life.
 

Wraithen

I feel one heck of a sump project coming on!
 

PascalKrypt

I feel one heck of a sump project coming on!
Hmm, or you could just constantly collect non-toxic leaves from outside and toss them in?
 

Wraithen

Hmm, or you could just constantly collect non-toxic leaves from outside and toss them in?
I don't think my stock would like the halved amount of space to swim in
 

PascalKrypt

I don't think my stock would like the halved amount of space to swim in
I don't think they'd like the ammonia spike from tossing in half a foot of leaves at once either
To be fair we also have a much smaller body of water, so CO2 saturation should be achieved easier than in an actual pond so you shouldn't need a foot of litter in a 1.5 foot tank. I hope.
 

nikm128

nikm128 Was the water in your cleaning bucket purple? Or do you see actual purple algae? I once had purple algae and it was the water in the cleaning bucket. It was after an algae or bacteria (not sure) die off. So makes me think it's either dead algae spores or another algae/bacteria outcompeting like you said. It didn't take long to get rid of it with water changes Kind of curious though if anyone knows for sure!

Tx Vishaquatics (Koiman) for your help. The water fert I'm using is Profito Easy Life. I should get a phosphate test for sure. I will say my Manicipality uses phosphates to raise pH. Is it the sane form? My pH stays at 7.4 despite my KH and GH only bring 3 degrees in that tank. So I'm wondering if I already have phosphates, and possibly too much? Can too much phosphate cause diatoms and green spot? I always thought green spot was due to higher nitrates. Unless it's a balance between the two I need? In any case, I'm going to get a phosphate test, thank you!

Also considering co2, but because I have so many tanks and move fish often, I'm afraid I'll need co2 on all my tanks or I won't be happy anymore with my other tanks. My other tanks are fully dirted. Thoughts?
Yes, it is actual purple algae on the glass
Fish and plants do produce CO2 (plants at night like you mentioned), but it’s not nearly in high enough concentrations to actually make a difference. The average tank only has around 2-3ppm of CO2 granted there’s no injection. The purpose of adding CO2 into a tank is to allow the plants to really thrive and grow. Once the plants are thriving, they will produce allelopathic chemicals which kill algal growth. CO2 levels optimally need to be 30ppm or in the ballpark. Sometimes even higher
Interesting that I've never had it before then, I guess for now I'll just have to settle on wiping it off until I can get a CO2 setup
 

PascalKrypt

You know, I've thought about it some more, but something still does not add up. If allelopathy is the reason why in a planted aquarium algae is kept at bay, then how about non-planted bodies of water? Why are plantless ponds (with e.g. pebbles on the floor) not overrun with algae?
 

Wraithen

You know, I've thought about it some more, but something still does not add up. If allelopathy is the reason why in a planted aquarium algae is kept at bay, then how about non-planted bodies of water? Why are plantless ponds (with e.g. pebbles on the floor) not overrun with algae?
Do you mean home ponds or like in the ground thousands of gallons of water ponds fed by rainwater? If you mean the latter, I'm not sure I've ever seen them be very clear. They are usually gunky looking with tons of suspended stuff in the water. If you mean home ponds, I know a lot of them run powerful UV and they tend to be stocked with things that eat algae and plants anyway.
 

PascalKrypt

Do you mean home ponds or like in the ground thousands of gallons of water ponds fed by rainwater? If you mean the latter, I'm not sure I've ever seen them be very clear. They are usually gunky looking with tons of suspended stuff in the water. If you mean home ponds, I know a lot of them run powerful UV and they tend to be stocked with things that eat algae and plants anyway.
I'm talking about originally manmade ponds that are several hundreds of years old and have been 'overrun by nature' if that makes sense. There are quite a lot of them near me. Some of them are heavily planted, but others not at all (instead the floor is covered with leaf litter or stones, depending on if there are trees nearby). Both types can have clear or murky water, but algae growth does not really seem to occur in them, with the exception of cyano when we have heat waves in the summer. Some are large like you describe but I know of at least two that shouldn't be more than a few hundred to a thousand gallons. They are choked with amphibians and insect life in summer but seem pretty much devoid in early spring and winter (not really too many inverts either, water is super soft).
I do concur with the theory that the microlife inside may be eating all the algae that form. Hmmm.
 

Vishaquatics

I'm talking about originally manmade ponds that are several hundreds of years old and have been 'overrun by nature' if that makes sense. There are quite a lot of them near me. Some of them are heavily planted, but others not at all (instead the floor is covered with leaf litter or stones, depending on if there are trees nearby). Both types can have clear or murky water, but algae growth does not really seem to occur in them, with the exception of cyano when we have heat waves in the summer. Some are large like you describe but I know of at least two that shouldn't be more than a few hundred to a thousand gallons. They are choked with amphibians and insect life in summer but seem pretty much devoid in early spring and winter (not really too many inverts either, water is super soft).
I do concur with the theory that the microlife inside may be eating all the algae that form. Hmmm.

Likely the algae is being eaten. In the colder months, algae growth is way less and sometimes nonexistent if the water freezes over. In the warmer months, as you said, the pond is flourishing with life. Tadpoles and some aquatic insects feed primarily on algae and decaying matter, but especially algae. I remember watching a video online about someone who uses tadpoles as an algae control in their outdoor pond. I guess if you have enough, it would be effective.
 

Jack B Nimble

You know, I've thought about it some more, but something still does not add up. If allelopathy is the reason why in a planted aquarium algae is kept at bay, then how about non-planted bodies of water? Why are plantless ponds (with e.g. pebbles on the floor) not overrun with algae?
This is my pond right now in direct sunlight and now my wetland filter has plants I have zero algae all summer. I can attest that it is fact a wetland filter which is gravel and plants with water fed from bottom up your water will always be crystal clear. Mine has a waterfall stump and moss so I have tannins which I like.
1560544429491.jpg
1560544485205.jpg
 

ShamFish97

Vishaquatics (Koiman) I have not injected or used any form of CO2 in my tanks. Is this something I should begin doing? What do you suggest? Petco has the CO diffusers you hook up to an airline, as well as a miniature "tank" which I'm assuming hooks up to something as well.
 

Wraithen

Vishaquatics (Koiman) I have not injected or used any form of CO2 in my tanks. Is this something I should begin doing? What do you suggest? Petco has the CO diffusers you hook up to an airline, as well as a miniature "tank" which I'm assuming hooks up to something as well.
You are much better off avoiding those kits unless you have 5 gal or less tanks. At which point it seems like a waste unless you are going for a specific art form for a contest.
 

Vishaquatics

Vishaquatics (Koiman) I have not injected or used any form of CO2 in my tanks. Is this something I should begin doing? What do you suggest? Petco has the CO diffusers you hook up to an airline, as well as a miniature "tank" which I'm assuming hooks up to something as well.

I recommend CO2 systems for everyone, but not the kits since they’re expensive and don’t last long. My own setups are under $150. If you’re interested in knowing the parts, feel free to let me know
 

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