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Algae, When to Panic?

aralph65

Community Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2023
Messages
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Location
massachussetts
So my current tank,
Which is a fairly heavily planted 20 gal setup, has been running since Thanksgiving, running a Fluval, 207 canister filter, Supplying Co2, measured only by a drop checker, Also run a Fluval plant 2.0 Led light, 8 hours 80% pink 0% blue 37% cold white 100% pure white 100% warm white. Plant growth has been amazing, fish and shrimp health seem great, 1\3 weekly water change, and all parameters are well within healthy happy limits.

So in a previous tank I had running for 9 years I developed cyanobacteria, and I know why, it was because of my neglect, allowing waste to build up in the gravel etc....

I am starting to see some green algae on the spider wood which is typical and I believe normal to some degree. Yes?
I am also seeing some green only on certain plants, particularly my Vallisneria, and bacopa monnieri.

Needless to say I am slightly concerned, so any experts have any thoughts or advice. Last thing I want to see is that stinky cyanobacteria.
Should I rip out infected plants? Though, they are not covered in it yet.

Thanks for your help!!

Andy
 
Hey Andy!

Sounds like you’ve got a bit of experience with plants. A fair bit more than myself. I’ve been fighting green dust algae in my current setup for a while and it’s the first time I’ve really had a stubborn case like it.

Can you share some more details on your husbandry practices besides the light and water changes?

What’s your fert scheme/dosing schedule?

Filter maintenance and schedule?

This should help the experts here get a better feel for your setup and give you an idea on any thing (if anything) is needed.
 
Hey Andy!

Sounds like you’ve got a bit of experience with plants. A fair bit more than myself. I’ve been fighting green dust algae in my current setup for a while and it’s the first time I’ve really had a stubborn case like it.

Can you share some more details on your husbandry practices besides the light and water changes?

What’s your fert scheme/dosing schedule?

Filter maintenance and schedule?

This should help the experts here get a better feel for your setup and give you an idea on any thing (if anything) is needed.
Hey Frank,

Thanks, so it's a fairly new tank setup, only been setup since Thanksgiving, but weekly water changes and have only rinsed filters once since running. As for fertilizers I have been dosing with 2 mil of flourish just once weekly.

Thanks Andy
 
Hey Frank,

Thanks, so it's a fairly new tank setup, only been setup since Thanksgiving, but weekly water changes and have only rinsed filters once since running. As for fertilizers I have been dosing with 2 mil of flourish just once weekly.

Thanks Andy
I try to clean my filters every other month to keep organics to a minimum since there is a direct correlation between algae and soluble organics in the aquarium. Your schedule should be fine, but you might want to take a peak in there to see what’s going on.

What is your substrate? 2mls of flourish per week is very very lean. If your substrate is inert your plants could be starving especially with CO2 and that light. I think the fluval plant 2.0 puts out a healthy dose of PAR even at reduced power.

Using a drop checker for CO2 control has failed me every single time and I don’t think I’m alone there. Get yourself a cheap pH meter and check your pH profile. You will want a 1.0 drop minimum from degassed pH to lights on. Degassed is when you let a tank water sample sit out for 24 hours and measure the pH. The point of this so get a pH without CO2 in the water effecting. So let’s say that pH is 7.4, then you target 6.4 pH with your CO2 injection and try to get the tank down to 6.4 before lights. There is a bit more to it than that but that’s the basics.

A photo of your tank would be helpful if you have one to upload
 
I try to clean my filters every other month to keep organics to a minimum since there is a direct correlation between algae and soluble organics in the aquarium. Your schedule should be fine, but you might want to take a peak in there to see what’s going on.

What is your substrate? 2mls of flourish per week is very very lean. If your substrate is inert your plants could be starving especially with CO2 and that light. I think the fluval plant 2.0 puts out a healthy dose of PAR even at reduced power.

Using a drop checker for CO2 control has failed me every single time and I don’t think I’m alone there. Get yourself a cheap pH meter and check your pH profile. You will want a 1.0 drop minimum from degassed pH to lights on. Degassed is when you let a tank water sample sit out for 24 hours and measure the pH. The point of this so get a pH without CO2 in the water effecting. So let’s say that pH is 7.4, then you target 6.4 pH with your CO2 injection and try to get the tank down to 6.4 before lights. There is a bit more to it than that but that’s the basics.

A photo of your tank would be helpful if you have one to uploa
 
Hi Frank,

My substrate is Fluval Stratum, only capped about 1/3 with Carib Sea sand. I will include day1 picture and 1 from a week or so ago.

I did just recently buy a Ph/tds meter, but was not aware of the correlation between PH and Co2, I will test this over the next couple days.
I will also take a peek inside the canister to see what’s going on inside.

Thanks!! IMG_0830.jpeg

Andy
 
Agree with what Frank said

Re dosing I assume you mean flourish comp? You almost certainly need some macros too, Even though it lists NPK in the label the amounts are so small it is negligible. And when the plants start getting unhappy, even if its not yet noticeable, thats when algae arrives. AR is already throwing a tantrum

Crank the blue up some on the light, plants love that too and its great for color
 
Hi Frank,

My substrate is Fluval Stratum, only capped about 1/3 with Carib Sea sand. I will include day1 picture and 1 from a week or so ago.

I did just recently buy a Ph/tds meter, but was not aware of the correlation between PH and Co2, I will test this over the next couple days.
I will also take a peek inside the canister to see what’s going on inside.

Thanks!! View attachment 4216

Andy
This is a beautiful tank, relax. It is good that you're clear why your old neglected tank went south, but that experience shouldn't be a reason to panic about anything in your current tank that you maintain well and follow the advice by @FrankZ and @Burr740 .

I would panic if I saw a tank where algae refuses to grow, as any natural and healthy environment will have algae to some degree at least. Fun fact is that about half of the worlds oxygen is produced by algae, so I'd start to panic if they were in decline. Also, giving some more credit to algae, I find it really interesting to follow the progress of commercial algae farming. We could give our algae a bit more love :)
 
Hello,

Not sure what NPK is but yes I am using Flourish complete, what is AR?

I shut the Co2 down and will measure ph 24 hours and then restart the Co2 to see if I get a 1 point difference.

I have read that Blue is good but also can cause Algae. I have it all the way down at 0 so I will crank it up for a few days.

I have Shrimp in this tank as well, any thoughts on a good quality Algae treatment. Before this gets out of hand.

The two pictures show what the algae looks like.

Thanks,

**
 

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Hello,

Not sure what NPK is but yes I am using Flourish complete, what is AR?

I shut the Co2 down and will measure ph 24 hours and then restart the Co2 to see if I get a 1 point difference.

I have read that Blue is good but also can cause Algae. I have it all the way down at 0 so I will crank it up for a few days.

I have Shrimp in this tank as well, any thoughts on a good quality Algae treatment. Before this gets out of hand.

The two pictures show what the algae looks like.

Thanks,

**
NPK is Nitrogen Phosphate (K)Potassium. These are the macro fertilizers and are the ones needed in the largest amounts by plants. Relatively speaking of course.

AR is alternanthera reineckii which is the nice red plant you have in the front.

For your current situation, your plants are looking unhappy which is causing the algae. It looks like you have some staghorn algae starting which would be from plants deteriorating from lack of macros.

While you’re getting your pH data for CO2 and dialing that in I would look at getting an all-in-one aquarium plant fertilizer. APT 3 would be good one. I know there is a discount code, I think it’s SCAPECRUNCH @Art is that the right one? You can easily follow the directions. It will take a couple of weeks to see improvement.

You might be able to increase your flourish comp dosing but I’ve never used it so I can’t say how that would work.

I wouldn’t worry about trying to kill the algae right now. I’d worry about making your plants happy again as that will do more for controlling the algae long term than any algaecide will.
 
Last edited:
@FrankZ is right, your plants do not look happy from the more detailed photos that you post, and plant health is important for overall tank health and control of algae.

Besides all the rest, CO2 stability could be a potential cause as well.
I shut the Co2 down and will measure ph 24 hours and then restart the Co2 to see if I get a 1 point difference.
Please don't do this, as the instability that the plants experience (especially taking CO2 down) will cause them to suffer. The traditional method is to have a cup of water to degas for 24 or 36 hours, but you may want to do it faster

Besides all good advice given, I would stress that CO2 stability is key for plant health, and healthy plants will keep your algae in check.
 
The main point to understand is that algae isnt some evil independent entity that just arrived on its own. The reason its there is because the plants are unhappy. Struggling plants are its lifeblood. So focus on getting the plants happy instead of fighting the algae. Do that and the algae will disappear because its food source is gone
 
Hi All,

Thanks for taking the time to respond and educate, I really do want to be successful at this!!

Thanks for the compliments as well!!

Everyone’s comments have given me a better understanding and a new way to look at and approach algae.

Still trying to wrap my head around fertilizing ie, how much, how often, which brands to use etc.

Thanks again, and I will keep everyone posted on how this all goes.

Andy
 
Update:

Alright so 2 days ago I did a battery of tests, everything was great except GH which was approximately at 180ppm, not sure if this would contribute to Algae or not. Seems that a GH that high is more geared to Goldfish and Koi etc...

I also measured the PH while the tank was degassed of Co2, it measured 7.4 and then it went down to 6.3 TDS was at 173.

I also ordered a bottle of APT 3 which arrived today, and I administered the first dose.

Also, I did clean the canister filter, only replaced the phosphate pad and the bottom finishing pad. and rinsed all others.

So, I will wait and see, focus on the plant health.

Thanks again.

Andy
 
This could be a problem. Does this pad remove phosphates? If so, I would remove it as you want to maintain PO4 and not remove it to such an extent it reaches 0. Was PO4 an issue before adding the pad?
So, the canister filter came with a phosphate filter pad, it was pretty beat up, so I replaced it with a new one.
This is confusing because I bought the API phosphate test kit when testing in my old tank to figure out why I had the algae outbreak. The instructions that came with it says that PO4 should be at Zero?
Thanks,

Andy
 
So, the canister filter came with a phosphate filter pad, it was pretty beat up, so I replaced it with a new one.
This is confusing because I bought the API phosphate test kit when testing in my old tank to figure out why I had the algae outbreak. The instructions that came with it says that PO4 should be at Zero?
Thanks,

Andy
Yeah that’s a myth. Phosphate doesn’t cause algae. Unhappy plants do. Plants need phosphate to grow. Phosphate removal works to control algae in tanks with no plants, it’s the easiest to remove and stops all plant life (algae is a plant after all) from growing.

Don’t worry about your GH for now. Your plants have more critical needs which you are supplying with the APT 3.

One last suggestion with your CO2, you might find (probably will) that you need more CO2 to achieve that 1.1 pH now that your plants have the macros being added.

Just check your pH every so often and increase your co2 if needed. The macros were limiting the plants so they weren’t using up all the co2, now that they have macros and micros in the correct amount the co2 might be the lowest limiting factor.
 
So, the canister filter came with a phosphate filter pad, it was pretty beat up, so I replaced it with a new one.
This is confusing because I bought the API phosphate test kit when testing in my old tank to figure out why I had the algae outbreak. The instructions that came with it says that PO4 should be at Zero?
Thanks,

Andy
Plants need PO4.
 
Yeah that’s a myth. Phosphate doesn’t cause algae. Unhappy plants do. Plants need phosphate to grow. Phosphate removal works to control algae in tanks with no plants, it’s the easiest to remove and stops all plant life (algae is a plant after all) from growing.

Don’t worry about your GH for now. Your plants have more critical needs which you are supplying with the APT 3.

One last suggestion with your CO2, you might find (probably will) that you need more CO2 to achieve that 1.1 pH now that your plants have the macros being added.

Just check your pH every so often and increase your co2 if needed. The macros were limiting the plants so they weren’t using up all the co2, now that they have macros and micros in the correct amount the co2 might be the lowest limiting factor.
Hi Frank,

What you say makes sense, so I will remove the filter pad tomorrow, sounds counterproductive.

Okay on the GH, and I will definitely keep an eye on the Co2, I will check it more often.

Thanks!!
 
May 12 2024 update,

Alright so I went ahead and purchased some 24 hour Aquarist APT 3 plant fertilizer, and I have to this stuff is great, the algae never bloomed so to speak, and my plants have been growing like crazy, I have to trim them weekly.

Thanks for all your input.....

Andy
 
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