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Re: Tank imbalance

Phil Behrends wrote:

Now my problem: Green water. My plants seem to be growing well and are
pearling every day. I just have this persistent green water problem. It's
not the consistency of "pea soup", but green none the less.

So, my diagnosis is some sort of imbalance. I believe I understand the
concept of a balanced aquarium, but perhaps not the implementation thereof.
According to my test results, the aquarium should be close to being
balanced, right? What am I missing? How do I know when an aquarium actually
is "balanced"?

I reply:

I don't really understand the concept of a balanced aquarium at all. I am
beginning to wonder if there really is such a thing. I know for sure that I
add every micro and macronutrient that plants need to survive to the water
column and still I get very little algae. I am pretty sure everything is in
excees except for light. The only for sure thing I have ever seen that
actually caused algae is massive overfeeding. One time I accidentally dumped
a 1/2 cup of shrimp pellets in my tank just before leaving on a 5 day
holiday. Now that will cause an unbelievable amount of algae in a short time
but now I am wondering if the algae was causing by the depleted oxygen
levels in the tank more than the sudden dose of excess nutrients.

I have noticed that people that have high light levels tend to have more of
a problem with green water than those with lower light levels. I have no
idea what causes green water but once it is there playing with the nutrient
levels just doesn't seem to do anything. I think the explaination lies in
the shape of the algae cells and the fact that they are floating. The algae
cells are spherical and are therefore ideally suited to absorbing diffuse
light coming from all angles. The more algae you get floating in your tank
the more diffuse the light is and the less light that reaches the lower
levels of your tank. The algae always gets a crack at some nice bright light
at the surface of the tank but the plants do not. This condition seems like
it will persist  for a long time before it will spontaneously go away.

To solve the problem you can try and grow plants that will shade the surface
of the tank or you can use a floculant to remove the algae.

If it were me I would also add some fertilizer especially Potassium Nitrate
to you tank even though I don't think it will help you with green water. I
just figure if I add everything plants need all the bases will be covered. I
don't specifically add Phosphate but I feed fairly well and I am sure that
there is Phosphate being supplied by the fish food. If your nitrates really
are zero some of the time then your plants probably aren't getting something
they need some of the time. I think this is especially true if you have been
using a floculant to remove the algae. The green water really seems to scrub
the water of a lot of nutrients and I think they need to be replaced once
the algae is removed.