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Re: 2nd desperate call for help!

On Tue, 25 Jan 2000, Grant Miller wrote:

> I posted a message last week about cloudy water.  The postings at that time
> were all about c02 and virtually nothing else!  For a Newbie like me, it is
> interesting, but I need help with algae.  My tank has taken a bit of a turn
> for the worse since last week.  Despite 2-3 water changes a week, the water
> is turning green now.

If you're already feeling desperate then you need to stop, take a few deep
breaths and sit back.  You may be blowing things out of proportion.

> I think the plant mailing list is wonderful for experts and newbies alike.
> If there is another archive that could help a new comer like myself, could
> you let me know, too?

Tom Barr gave you the Krib reference.  I also think you would profit by a
few more hours reading in the APD archives.  The archives contain a lot of
discussion of problems similar to yours.

> To save time, here are the conditions of my tank from last week.  They
> haven't changed much (except the colour of the water) since then.  I really
> feel that the water changes are only treating the symptom not the cause!

The cause may just be that you made a number of changes in a short period
of time to a tank with a fairly heavy fish load and ample light.

> Here are my (which have been quite stable for a while now):
> - -	48 gallon aquarium
> - -	Eheim professional series canister 2224
> - -	120 watts of fluorescent lights (1 powergrow and 2 fluorescent plant
> lights from Home Depot)  Lights are on about 14 hours per day
> - -	Temperature 78 F
> - -	pH fluctuates from 6.6 - 7.0, but today it is 6.2 (after adding ph balance
> a week ago) I cant seem to keep it up to 7.0.

I don't know what "ph balance" is but if this is a phosphate-based buffer,
then it certainly isn't helping your problems.

> - -	Ammonia is 0, Nitrites are 0, Nitrates are 12.4 ppm (same as always)
> - -	ph, ammonia, nitrites, kH, gH are from Freshwater Master Test Kit
> (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals).  Nitrate kit is Tetra.
> - -	kH is 3, gH is 1 (always about the same)

There are several helpful and knowledgable people on this list from the
Vancouver area, and even more in the area that aren't on the list.  Soft
water like yours can cause problems and you should probably get some local
advice from experienced plant keepers.  Find out if they need to harden
their water, and if so, how they do it.

> - -	C02 injector (DIY brown glass jug jobs.) It lets off bubbles at about
> 1-2/second
> - -	There is some green algae starting on some of the driftwood that I have in
> the tank
> - -	Water is a cloudy whitish to green colour, but not like pea soup (Ive
> seen that beforewhere I had ammonia build up due to loss of biological
> cycle)
> My Flora and Fauna are as follows:
> - -	About 25 to 30 plants ranging from Java Fern to Wisteria

If these are large, healthy plants then 25 or 30 plants should be enough
to control a reasonable nutrient load.  If they aren't large and actively
growing then this isn't a lot of plants.  I once removed more than twice
that many plants (70 C. wendtii plus a few other odds and ends) from my 55
gallon tank just in doing a heavy pruning.

> - -	I use a little laterite in each area where a plant is growing
> - -	I fertilized with a no name brand of aquarium plant fertilizer, but
> switched to Tropica Master Grow recently
> - -	5 Clown Loaches
> - -	3 SAE, 2 CAE, 1 Pleco

The first 8 fish on this list, as they near full growth will max out the
carrying capacity of a 48 gallon tank.

> - -	2 Weather Loaches
> - -	10 Neons
> - -	5 Rasboras
> - -	3 High Fin Tetras
> - -	3 red ball Mollies
> - -	2 very big Black Skirt Tetras
> - -	4 Lemon Tetras

Even at juvenile sizes, your tank is very near it's carrying capacity.
You might consider taking some of these fish back to the LFS, or setting
up a second home.  The fish will thank you.

You have enough algae eating fish that you shouldn't be seeing nuisance
growth of attached green algae.  If they aren't eating the algae, then
probably you are feeding too much.

In an earlier post you said that you fed enough that the fish didn't eat
the plants.  These fish aren't generally plant eaters; the clown loaches
may poke holes in broad-leaved plants and the "pleco" may damage leaves by
rasping on them.  Only a few "plecos" eat much algae.  The three SAEs
should provide enough algae control and the mollys are good for that too.
That makes the CAEs and the pleco good candidates for downsizing.

> Things I'm considering:
> 1. Ripping out the 4-6mm gravel and putting in a substrate of kitty litter
> and cover with some new smaller gravel.  A lot of people say that feeding
> the plants from the roots deprives algae a chance to grow in the water
> column.  This option will be a major one and I'm worried about breaking my
> biological cycle.  It might be worth it though.

Don't take down your tank because your water is starting to turn green.
Feeding the plants from the roots works pretty well, but success usually
depends on you knowing how the plants are supposed to look and grow.
Right now you're better off getting this setup to work and building some

> 2. Live with it and see if it heals itself.

Good.  It may or may not heal itself.

> 3.  See if the Fairy weed from my friend's outdoor pond begin to grow in my
> tank to take up the excess nutrients in the water column.  The problem is
> that light is precious and I don't want this to become a problem either.

I have no idea what Fairy weed is, but I figure that this is the wrong
time of year (in temperate northern climes) to be bringing plants in from
outdoors and expecting them to do your tank any good in the short term.
If you want a fast-growing nutrient sponge, consider getting e.g. hornwort
or egeria densa (anarcharis) from either the LFS or a friend.  These
should already be growing.

> 4.  Take out the c02.  God bless Disky for taking the time to talk to me on
> ICQ.  I need more info about this one.

Leave it there for now.  It appears to me that CO2 gives a relative
advantage to the plants, not the algae.

> 5. Cut the light back to 9-10 hours of day.  I don't like this one because I
> won't get to see much as I work as a teacher from 8-4...

I run mine from 10 AM to 10 PM.

> Any other suggestions to help out?  Looking forward to your comments!

I get green water in one of my tanks if I prune heavily in the late fall.
At that time there's direct sunlight on the tank for a period in the
morning and heavy pruning is all it takes to trigger an outbreak.  I
suspect though that direct sunlight in the winter in Vancouver is not your

You can treat the symptom directly by using a flocculent, then filtering
with floss packed in your filter or with a fine filter like the micron
filter that is used in Magnum filters.  I usually need to do at least two
treatments to clear the water.  There are several flocculants on the
market.  Don't exceed the manufacturer's recommended dose or dosing

Roger Miller

In Albuquerque, where the ski season has been mostly cancelled by a little
girl in Ecuador.