Sudden Algae Growth

Discussion in 'Algae' started by kinezumi89, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. kinezumi89

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    Once again (I feel as though I start a lot of threads this way), I wasn't sure what forum to put this in, but I'm hoping that pleco afficionados know a bit about algae.

    As a short introduction, about two weeks ago I set up a 55 gallon tank. I moved a male betta and a female BN pleco from their cramped 10 gallon home into their new spacious abode, as well as the filter so as to cycle the tank. Because it is a clean tank (not new new, it was used, though not for the last 20 years or so), I had been feeding my pleco a bit extra to make sure she wasn't hungry (that is, until her little constipation stint, more on that in the other thread).

    She kept our last tank spotless, though I know some have mentioned that plecos aren't the best for algae control. Anyway, tonight (right after feeding her, of course) I noticed algae growth on the front pane of the tank. Unfortunately it's already fishy bed time, so pictures will have to wait until tomorrow, but even then it's so fine I'm not sure it will be visible to the camera (I may have to stick a white tupperware lid behind it or something).

    It's green and looks like very fine hairs or groups of hairs, less than a centimeter long. It's only in the center of the front panel.

    My questions are:

    1. What causes sudden algae growth? Where would the spores have come from?

    2. Last weekend I introduced a piece of driftwood. I know driftwood sometimes sports a white algae, but could this green algae be related?

    3. Do you happen to know (currently based on description, though again I will upload pictures tomorrow) what type of algae this is? Is there anything else I should do, besides letting my pleco take care of it?

    4. I read in a different thread that plecos are actually omnivores, while I thought they were pure herbivores. So tonight, I tossed in a sinking shrimp pellet (very small) and she absolutely went nuts. (As an aside, there is actually less protein (by 5%) in the shrimp pellets than in her algae wafers, since I know lots of protein is bad for plecos.) Two nights ago I put in thin slices, one of each, of cucumber and zucchini, so I think she's pretty well fed at this point. I was thinking of not feeding her this weekend so she would go back to eating the algae, as she used to be diligent about munching on the walls in her previous tank, though as I said I've been feeding her a bit more. Knowing that she had a little feast a few days ago, and that she's a little on the pudgy side (either due to constipation, eggs, or...being pudgy) would that be alright? When I clean the tank on Saturday I plan to wipe off the majority of it, but I would like her to go back to doing her job (after all, what am I paying her for? ;))

    5. Initially I had planned to add a nerite snail once my tank was cycled. However, I then became afraid that there wouldn't be enough algae to go around. Now, knowing about the sudden bloom covering a good two square feet or so, would a nerite (with my roughly 2"-long pleco) be alright? We'd also, if possible, love to get another pleco (a variety that doesn't get very large). Would this work? If so, would we need to choose between a nerite or another pleco?

    Thank you for any advice! :)
  2. Aquarist

    AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,

    :animal0068:I have moved your thread from Pleco's to Aquarium Water/Algae section of the forum.


  3. OP

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    Thank you Ken! I didn't see the Algae forum.
  4. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Hard to say exactly what type of algae you have. May be the start of BBA or hair algae.

    An imbalance between lighting and nutrients. In a planted tank this would include both ferts and CO2. In a non planted tank this would be the balance in water parameters with lighting.

    It is very possible this algae was attached to the driftwood. How did you treat the wood? Boil? Bake? Soak in water?

    What are your current water parameters? How many hours a day are your lights on? What type of lighting do you have? Flourescent, CFL, incandescent? Do you have live plants?

    Yes, plecos love shrimp snacks. I have a foot long Common that went commando on a dozen Ghost Shrimp.

    Depending on tank size, pH and other inhabitants, snails and plecos can coexist. I do not recommend snails when the pH drops below 7.0 as the acidic water will erode their shells.
    Thank you for any advice! :)[/QUOTE]
  5. OP

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    Sorry for not providing enough information!

    I most recently tested the water yesterday morning (I'm testing every other day since the tank is cycling). pH was 8.0, ammonia 0-0.25, nitrite 0, nitrate 5.0. This was the first test that I've actually gotten a nitrate reading, though to be honest it's the first test that I've actually let it sit the full 5 minutes (it's the API Master test kit). Since I've found out that the waiting time is important, I will definitely be doing that from now on. Today I will do a water change to take care of the ammonia, and I picked up some Prime yesterday to replace the normal water conditioner (chlorine and chloramines only) that I have been using.

    It is in view of the window, but we usually leave the blinds closed, so it's just whatever light filters through them. The lights are usually on between 8am or 9am until about 10:30pm (but they will go on a little later this week as it's spring break and I will probably sleep in. They went on at 10am this morning). I have a timer on my 10 gallon with an incandescent bulb, but these fluorescent bulbs are old, and you have to hold the button down for awhile until they turn on, so timers don't work. My boyfriend is looking into the lighting situation, and we'd like to replace the ballasts and get a new bulb to replace the burnt out one, such that we would be able to use a timer.

    There are three bulbs in the hood; one is mostly burnt out so we don't use it. The two that we run are 34W each, one is pink and the other is either blue or green (with the burnt-out bulb being whichever color that one isn't; this used to be my parents' tank and at the time (many years ago) that was the going thinking on lighting, I guess to accentuate the fishes' colors).

    The only inhabitants are the male betta and young female pleco. Eventually there will be an angel fish, two apistos or a dwarf gourami, six platys, eight tetras, six cory cats, a nerite snail, and a bamboo shrimp, minus one betta (who will go back to his 10 gallon home, unless he can behave himself, which I doubt). It is not planted, only fake plants, but once it's fully stocked and running smoothly, I would like to include a few good beginner (low-light) plants.

    To treat the driftwood (which is a bit smaller than football-sized) I scrubbed it (with a never-been-used brush) under running water, boiled it for two hours (changing the water once in the middle), soaked it overnight, then boiled it for another hour. I also scrubbed it during each water change, though I don't know how much effect that had. The water changes during boiling were definitely brown, but one week later the tank water is not noticeably any browner. There is no white algae growing on the wood, which I know happens sometimes. The pH has dropped by 0.2, but it was 8.2 to start with, and many of the fish I plan to include do best in more acidic environments, so that is a good thing for me.

    I think that's everything. Thanks for the information on snails and pH, I'll be sure to not drop it that much.

    Edit: I forgot to mention, it seems my pleco (with my threats of suspending her wages) has been eating the algae. There's still a little bit, but definitely much less. I did try to take a picture yesterday, but it was so fine that it didn't show up at all. However, if you can see something I'm doing that can cause algae growth, I would still love to know so I can prevent future blooms. Thanks!
  6. pirahnah3

    pirahnah3Fishlore VIPMember

    It sounds like the lighting has most likely caused the algae. Most tanks only really need about 8 hours, plus or minus 2, then again a fully planted tank is an entirely different animal. Dena has a great thread in her sig about algae and it is a wealth of knowledge.
  7. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    I agree with the lighting. A non planted tank needs very little lighting, in the 4-6 hour range. I have one tank that only gets ambient lighting as it is near a window.

    I would try leaving the lights off for a couple of days. And, feed your pleco less so he will munch on the algae.

    If this doesn't stop the algae then we can look at the lighting tubes. You mentioned some were old. Depending on how old and depending on what those blue and green tubes are, they could be the cause too. But first things first. Cut the lighting and feed less through the weekend.
  8. OP

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    14 hours is probably a little too much! Fortunately it's already mostly gone thanks to the pleco, but I will definitely decrease the light each day. I looked through the link in your sig, unfortunately it didn't mention the type of algae I have. Thanks for the info!

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