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Re: Algae Growth

On Tue, 5 Jun 2001, Alex R. wrote:

> Well, mostly they're just growing slowly. I remember I used to get a huge
> pile of pruned plants every week. Now the amount I prune off is not even
> close. For example, I'd always see my Sag's sending up new runners. Now this
> happens quite rarely. In addition, my Ambulia used to be a lot bushier. Now
> it's tall and thin. And yes, some of my plants are dropping older leaves.
> But I think that's more due to the fact that I trip them from the top rather
> than replanting the top and discarding the bottom, and that the leaves are
> severely covered by algae.

I'm not a TMG user, but I understand the process with TMG is to increase
the dose until your plants exhibit rich green colors.  Very reputable
people have reported that they use as much as 2X the recommended TMG
dosage to get the right color.  The iron level at that dosage may test
very high -- like 0.5 mg/l.

I seem to recall that you are maintaining good K and NO3 concentration, so
my next guess would be the one major nutrient that you aren't dosing
regularly.  That would be phosphorus.

8 degrees GH is enough hardness to pull phosphorus out of your water, but
whether or not that happens probably depends on the presence of a "seed"
for the precipitate to form on, and on other factors.  Also, phosphorus
has a strong affinity for iron hydroxides, and I wonder if a new bed of
flourite might contain enough iron hydroxide to sequester phosphate.

At any rate, it appears that your tank is short on something.  My guess
from your description is that it's a major nutrient that's missing, and
phosphorus fits that bill.

The only phosphate test kit I ever used wasn't worth the glossy cardboard
box it came in.  I suspect that most of the other kits are in the same
league.  The best way to test for phosphorus limitation is to add some and
see what happens.

> > Hey, how do you get GH in your aquarium that's lower than GH in your tap
> > water?  Oh, and with 10 GH out of the tank you probably don't need to
> > add any form of magnesium.  The magnesium is already there.
> Beats me. My GH has always been gradually decreasing.

Do you have a growing population of snails?  I think they might be able to
pull quite a bit of calcium out of the water.

> > What drudgery!  You will have better success if you use all of your
> > tools -- herbivores, I mean.  Amano shrimp are elegent (sort of) but it
> > takes a lot of shrimp before they're effective.  And they're expensive.
> Then why do I need to put all this effort into solving this nutrient
> problem? I can just put an army of SAE's in there and not even worry about
> fertilizers or CO2.

Gee, is that a rhetorical question, or a philosophical one?  I've been
scolded before about answering rhetorical questions, so I hope this one is

You can be successful with the no fertilizer, no-CO2 approach, but it
takes some patience.

Nutrient "balance" is a moving target.  If you're going to go for a 100%
nutrient-balanced tank then you're going to spend all your time in the
hobby testing and adjusting dosages, retesting and readjusting, and on and
on.  Probably all the while struggling with the on-again, off-again algae

Using herbivores gives you a little leeway so that you aren't constantly
struggling with the nutrient balance.  You don't have to worry much about
the nutrient balance unless you either come up with a new variety of algae
that your crew won't handle, or the growth rate exceeds their appetite.

> Are all the planted, algae-free tanks with high lighting
> out there nutrient-balanced? I think very few of them are. They are
> algae-free because their owners use algae eaters. I'm sure most people do
> not put as much effort into their aquariums as I do.

I doubt there's any such thing as a permanently nutrient-balanced tank.
It's like the mythical "balance of nature"; it changes constantly and
there is never a static, unchanging point of balance.

I also expect that lots of people reading this put as much effort into
their tanks as you put in yours.  There are probably differences, though
in what they are doing with that effort.  For my part I don't spend my
time trying to "balance" four or five different kinds of fertilizers. I
prefer to spend my time trying to find better plant arrangements and
combinations, propogating plants and searching for new explanations and
solutions for old problems.

But hey, we don't all have the same goals in this hobby.  Do what you most

> If it's this hard to
> make a tank nutrient-balanced (as from my experience), then a lot of
> hobbyists would quit if there were no algae eaters.

Lot's of new hobbyists do quit, even with algae eaters.  If you read
carefully back through our archives I think you will find a lot of letters
of frustration; some from people who subsequently quit and some from
people who now keep beautiful planted tanks.  It's a challenging hobby.

Roger Miller