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Algae and the critters that love it.

Experiments? Controls? Uhhh... is not the general good conditions the real
cure for algae? Critters are just icing on the cake to make sure. How can
you say anything unless you have great conditions as a baseline? Nutrients,
critters, CO2 systems, lighting, substrates etc.

Then you take one factor out at a time and play a nice little old game:)
I suppose you could add a divider in a tank and add some hair algae to both
sides. But you'd actually need to divide it 3 ways. This would take into
account the CO2 and water chemistry and lighting etc. One for the control,
one for the comparison for each critter to be judged. Do you or anyone else
wish to do this? BTW, what is hair algae? There's at least 4 different
genera that are commonly called hair algae. Each is different. If it's dying
or on the way it out anyhow it may be much more palatable to a critter. So
you need to muck your tank up on purpose. Get a good growth of algae growing
well and then add your critter. But your tank is messed up to induce the
algae. Is that a fair set up?  Not all critters of the same species are the
same nor attack algae the same. Behavioral differences.

If you have Riccia stones or branches, Hair grass, moss etc you do not want
flagfish or Rosey barbs. Swhrimps and snailies are a better choice provide
no one eats them. If you have less delicate plants they will be good though.

If you get "enough" of some critter they will overpower the algae at some
point in mass. This is the idea behind lots of Amano shrimps. Enough of them
or flagfish or whatever your trying will work with, if there's an excess of
them relative to a certain tank and it's algae production they will control
it. I've used SAE's in mass for removal of hairalgae.

*** So if*** you have minimal algae production(from good overall conditions)
this quickly becomes a NON-ISSUE what critter you have for control and you
much greater flexibility with both plants and critter choices. Still goes
back to the big three things, Light , CO2 and nutrients.

>  His description of the nibbling of the FFF on Dwarf Hairgrass is
> unremarkable.  I personally, would not start an aquarium w/ dwarf
> Hairgrass; I'd reserve it for a more established tank that's beyond the
> algae wars.

Well you can have the fish and that issue:) Don't attack the grass. My
girlfriend can keep hairgrass and started out with it. She has a brown
thumb. She kills cactus in the desert:) (true story) Snails are the only
algae eater. A comb works very nicely for removal of any algae in hair
grass. It's hair(grass), so do you comb yours? It stays nice and clean if
you do comb it:) 
I don't consider grass, Riccia and moss plants to "need" an established
tank. No plant for that matter. Fish are another story.
I have it in tanks as low as 1.6 watts a gallon. It's done well in all sorts
of tanks. Hell, it grows right outside in the vernal pools near here. It
stays shorter in higher lighting. Does very well in the basic flourite
gravel as does most any plant. It does better in slightly aerobic

I don't and haven't had any Flagfish for a number of years nor intend to in
the future. I like a pack of shrimp, SAE's and my snails. These guys are
classics. I have to collect hair algae in the wild or get some from folks to
play and mess with. These critters attack it and hang all over it when it's
added. I must be doing something right? But they can be useful in the right
situations. Still, I personally was not impressed with flagfish compared to
other critters but they are very tough and hardy.

 I think it gets away from the issue at hand, removing the algae not
bickering over fish:) It's hard to quantify a critter from another one on
this. Some are clearly good.
Best way is still to have good conditions for the plants. Everything else
will be fine if this is done. SAE's, Flagfish, snails, a comb, fingers
shrimps etc will help to some degree but the main issue is still good
overall conditions for the plants.

Richard said:
> They both eat algae."

Not Richard's algae:) He has em and has tried them for years and his hair
algae problem doesn't go away. He's been cursed:) Yes they eat it but not
enough for him. Environmental issues/controls should be considered first.
Then critters. One or two doesn't do it, keep adding more till something
goes your way. 

Another issue is all this yabbering about hair algae. Well I can inform
folks that there are several genera that you call HAIR algae. So which one
are we talking about? Do you even know thy enemy? Some folks call the
"thread" algae hair algae etc. Some fish like one but not the other etc.

Amano shrimps will not eat the Cladophora (Aeragropila) that I like (it
forms nice ball shapes - see Rataj's book) but eat the type I don't like(the
stuff that is sometimes called haystack which is branched, typically
entangled in the gravel. Actually, I like it but not in my tanks). Both
species are Cladophora. There are a few critters that will eat one and not
the other. Splitting hairs, I know:)
Sorry couldn't help but to slip that one in there.

This should give some degree of insight into controlling algae with critters
and environment. 

Tom Barr