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Varying algae from hell
OK, I'm really, really frustrated, I've been fighting with my heavily
planted 100 gallon for quite awhile now, and I'm to the point of tearing it
down and focusing on my reef for awhile. But, I'm giving it
some time, as I've really enjoyed planted tanks and don't particularly want
to take a break. The problems I've been having are related to huge algae
outbreaks. After I got my tank set up in Colorado, things were good for
awhile (normal), then, I dealt with major hair algae issues for 2-3 months.
Then, in the span of about two weeks, the hair algae dies off, and a major
outbreak of cyanobacteria blooms, covering everything to the point of not
being able to see the fish through the coated acrylic. My next step is to
dose the tank with antibiotics, as the tank is too infested to straighten
itself out on it's own. What is frustrating me is that I can't figure out
why this is happening. Tank specs:
-Tank has been up and running since about late September of last year.
-100 gallon, with about a 35 gallon sump with wet/dry holding a cubic foot
-320 watts in the form of 2 5' URI full spectrum VHOs (not 50/50 actinics or
anything else weird.)
-About 500 gallons per hour circulation through an Iwaki pump
-Substrate is Karl Scholler's recipe (2/3 gravel layered over 1/3
sand/laterite mixture. Some Flourite in top layer left over from previous
-Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and Phosphate all test 0.
-CO2 runs about 15 ppm, from a 20lb can with a welding regulator set to
20psi, running through a Hoke needle valve and Dupla bubble counter into a
DIY CO2 reactor.
-pH generally sits about 6.8, although I'm still dialing KH, resulting in
-All tank water is RO/DI, reconstituted with Kent R/O right (went to RO
after discovering that Denver city water has a GH of about 20 and is prone
to phosphate spikes). Water changes consist of 25-30 gallons weekly.
-Fairly low fish loading, well planted. Tank is somewhat underfed (1x every
other day or so, with little food hitting the bottom.)
-Fertilization consists of sort of daily applications of Karl Scholler's
liquid fertilizer, with very occasional doses on potassium nitrate, as I've
been suspicious that the tank is nitrate limited.
So what I need is some help on where to go from here. Something is
obviously out of whack, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what it is.
The macronutrient levels should all be OK, and I can't think of anything
I've overlooked. I'm seriously considering ripping out the VHOs and
installing 2 96w PCs, as I can do it for about the retail cost of the bulbs
(already have an Icecap 660, and I work at a shop, so I can get stuff at
wholesale.) I'm wondering if the drop in lighting may ease my woes.
Anyhow, all help would be greatly appreciated, as this is really, really
Justin Collins, in algae coated Littleton, CO.