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Algae and Other Problems

Hey everybody, I have some questions to ask of
everyone on the list.  My situation might be a bit
complicated, but I'll try to be concise.  I've been
mailing Erik Olson about my tank, but I don't want to
annoy him 
Of course Erik, feel free to chime in if you don't
mind. :) I'm about to hit you all with a ton of
details, but I don't want to leave anything out.

Anyway, here it goes.  My tank is 30 gallons.  It has
three 30 watt lights, two Vitalights and one Coralife
50/50.  The substrate is old, mulmy gravel covered
with about an inch and a half of Flourite.  There is
some  laterite in there from a planted tank from
awhile back as well as some Flourish tabs.  
(The tank itself has been running for 9 years, with
Java ferns and anubias being the primary plants most
of the time.) 

I use the Flourish liquid (.8 ml divided over the
week) and the iron suppliment (.25 ml per day).

Yeast co2 is hooked up to a bell on top of the
canister filter spray bar.  The filter is empty, both
because I don't need filtration and because I can't
get it open.
The ph is about 6.8, GH-100, phosphates-.1ppm,
nitrates-0 (until I added some nitrate of soda),
temperature-77, kh-unknown at the present time
(because I haven't been able to get a kit), although
my buffer was recently tested at 20. 

I have been using RO Right in the lower recommended
ammount in distilled and/or Tap Water Purifier water.
5 gallons are changed a week to keep down phosphates. 

Plants are Heteranthera zosterifolia (the fastest
growing plant ever), Hygrophilia polysperma and
difformis, Rotala marcandra and wallichi, Bacopa
caroliniana, E tenellus, Hydrocotyle leucocephala,
java fern, Limnophila sessiflora, a nymphea lotus,
Myriophylum sp, a bit of Liliopsis, and some

Fish are two Steatocranus tinanti, 8 "Columbian Red
Tail" tetras, 6 otocinclus, 3 SAE (just added), and
one 9 year old + Pekoltia vittatus.   

Now, my problems.

1.  calcium deficiencies.  My tenellus leaves continue
to look chalky and sometimes bent a bit after trying a
variety of calcium suppliments.  I've tried calcium
chloride, gluconate, and hydroxide.  None make a
difference.  I recently tried a very small ammount of
a Kent marine buffer that I at first thought to
contain calcium carbonate.  Then I realized it has
carbonate, bicarbonate, and other salts of magnesium,
boron, and potassium, but not calcium.  I should have
paid attention.  What a dunce I am.  Anyway, I
understand the carbonate form is best.  What is a good
source for it?  My buffer had been tested as zero
before the addition of the Kent stuff.  Will the
calcium carbonate help that and prevent the ph from
going down too far?  Will the leaves be greener and
straight?  I got some macrandra at an auction that had
very small leaves, but the new ones are normal looking
(NOT indica).  I don't understand why this plant is
actually improving while the tenellus is looking

2.  An undefeatable thread-like algae.  This stuff is
the worst.  It's pale green closer to the lights, and
blacker closer to the gravel.  It grows as branched
bunches on leaves.  The stuff in the Baensch atlas
called beard looks like it, but I can't tell from the
photo if it is also in those ugly little bunches.  It
has a very coarse texture, and is not slimy at all. 
It grows ONLY on tenellus, liliaopsis,and java ferns. 
Nothing else.  Awhile back, I had a planted tank with
screaming phosphate levels due to my tap water. 
That's when it first showed up.
I can understand it showing up then, but it persisted
even after I took out all plants except for the java
ferns, java moss, and anubias, and only added 5
gallons of distilled water with no extra nutrients and
30 watts of light for the next year.  Starvation
doesn't work.  The SAEs have eaten almost all of the
normal fuzz algae in the tank, but as far as I know,
haven't attacked this stuff as ravenously.  (yet) I
see one or 2 BBA bunches on occasion, but for some
reason, it hasn't spread (I'm keeping my fingers
crossed) I added the nitrate of soda to get about 4
ppm of nitrate after getting zero readings, thinking
this would speed up plant growth while actually
hurting the algae.  Combined with my algae crew, it
has.  Except for this stuff. It's ruining my chain
swords.  I keep removing affected leaves, only to have
it return.  If I listen carefully, I can actually hear
it taunting me.
How can I get rid of it?  AUGGGHHHHH!

3.  Too much space between the nodes on the Limnophila
sessiflora and Myriophylum.  I have 3 watts per gallon
of good light.  Isn't insufficient light a cause of
I would think the 50/50 would give enough blue light
to keep things bushy.  I know the sessiflora isn't the
bushiest of plants, but this is ridiculous.  An inch
and a half on some stems. Even though the extra
nitrate has speeded the growth of some of the other
plants up, the Limnophila has not very much, which
makes me doubt that it's growing too fast to be bushy.
SOME bacopa stems have leaves much smaller than stems
right next to them.  I don't know why that would be.

Whew!  I thank anyone with the patience nad expertise
for this post in advance.  If you don't want to
respond on the board, please mail me at
Millsman7 at yahoo_com  
Thank you.         

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