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Re:Alage from hell

Many folks experience this problem.

> OK, I'm really, really frustrated,
Lots of algae induced pain.
> - -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
> of media
> - -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
> tank.)

All fine and dandy. Sound like you care and are trying to solve the problem.

> - -Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and Phosphate all test 0.

Uhh huh. BAD. you need P and N. Plants need NPK.  Not too much like before
when you had all that hair algae. Not too little like when you had your BGA.
It's a balance. If your CO2 is good then these two are your main algae
controlling nutrients and then there's the traces and iron. K+ should be in
excess 20-30ppm. But if you have good test kits for the P and N (Lamott or
Hach etc) and maintain a *decent level* you should be fine. Try to hit .2ppm
to .6ppm of P and 1-5ppm of NO3. Keep it in this range and test to see if
this is the case. After awhile you will not need to test to keep this range
unless you suspect something is going wrong(something is going out of

> -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
> fluctuations.
> -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).

Sounds good to me:)The P will help. GH of 20 is fine. I got a GH of 24. I
don't play with it or RO/DI no nothing. I add it right into my tank with
some Amquel/prime and your done. I have soft water fish. They are doing
quite well. My plants are doing super. I do add KNO3, K2SO4, KH2PO4 and lots
of TMG. I HAD some hair algae (no algae last very long in my tanks) but when
I add more P it starts to go away. I keep low NO3's though(not absent1-4ppm
or so) and a good algae eating crew.

> 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.)

Try overfeeding then. Fish food is good fertilizer(adds some N and P). You
do good maintenance and all, sounds like.

> -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.

Get a good test kit and see. Quit guessing. NO3 was zero which is not good.
> 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
> annoying me.

Buy some nice test kits and try keeping things within a good range for the
nutrients. Once you get this you will be fine. You have the CO2 part down
and quit playing with the KH/ adding RO and all that junk. Work on the NO3
and the P. Add extra K and try for about an iron level of .7ppm right after
a water change. Pick at any algae and keep things up and going for 3 weeks.
Now after maintaining this for 3 weeks tell me I'm wrong.

What you will need:
A Lamott N/NO3 test kit
A Lamott or Hach or a Seachem kit etc.
Some KNO3, I use Cooke's brand Stump remover
Some KH2PO4 monobasic potassium phosphate or some form of PO4(tap water is
Test it and keep it in the ranges while keeping up on picking on the algae
present now. Add some more algae eaters. Do water changes with tap water and
adjust to match the KH of the tap for a good CO2 reading.

If your not satisfied I'll refund your money:)Try it if you do not believe
me then tell folks I'm plum crazy.

I've suggested this to many folks over and over and it "works" if you keep
it in the ranges and keep the CO2 up and regular maintenance cleanings. Yes,
it works in both hard and soft waters. Lose the RO. Use it for drinking
water. Taste great unlike my tap water. This will help and is a long term
solution to your frustration.

Go see Chuck and George. They should straighten things out for you. They
don't bite:)

Tom Barr