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Re: Algae Challange

> It would seem that algae control is the make-it-or break-it element in
> whether a planted aquarium hobbyist is born or throws in the towel.
> Assuming the basics like equipment, substrate, maintenance, etc are
> reasonable, it also seems that the control of algae in planted aquaria is
> still basically a matter of trial and error.  At least, there seems not to
> be a generally accepted roadmap.  For example, your recent debate/dialogue
> question if it is the "absence of one or more nutrients" or "surplus of one
> or more nutrients" which stimulate algae, or conversely, which cure it.
> Similarly, there are discussions based on maintaining surplus nutrients,
> except a) Phosphate, or b) Nitrates, depending who one reads.

Or iron.... you forgot that one as well(non CO2 tanks etc). There may be a
few others.

> Irrespective of these particular examples, (the subtlety of which I may not
> yet properly appreciate), it is surprising that: 1.  the debate goes on to
> such an extent; 2.  the system of analysis has been very home-spun i.e.
> mostly hobbyists doing their own experiments with lots of simultaneous
> variables, vs. much more mainstream (corporate/institutional/well funded)
> research (likely by fertilizer companies or universities).  Or, is this just
> a statement that the planted aquarium hobby is so very small, no one will
> fund anything? (than how do Seachem, etc get by); and 3. No companies
> produce an affordable nutrient system (a combination of micro and macro
> nutrients, etc) that has been broadly accepted by the advanced hobbyists,
> that vigorously stimulates plants, and limits algae.

Why worry about algae so much? Worry about the plants and their health.
> It appears that the most detailed work on algae control is the Sears-Colin
> paper, written in 1996, Control of Algae in Planted Aquaria
> <http://www.cam.org/~tomlins/algae.html> .  This concludes that PMDD (Poor
> Man's Dupla Drops) is the best way to reach the proper balance of high plant
> growth while limiting algae.  Since then, individual hobbyists
> debate/discuss "tweaks" to that approach.  However some of these "tweaks"
> are as dramatic as reversing the basic premise, e.g. the above "absence" or
> "surplus" of nutrients question, as well as which nutrients to
> increase/limit; adding "water column" nutrients vs. "substrate" nutrients,
> etc.

Well I've done the P limited thing and in greater detail than their test and
with far more tanks and other's systems with very good kits. So has Steve
Dixon. This is old hat.

> Here is the context of my questions:
> I am one of those newer hobbyists recently referred to.  However, I have
> invested much more time than most would consider.  Over the past month, I've
> read everything I can find on Algae control, PMDD, and related topics, as
> well as many other aspects of the hobby.  I have been willing to spend
> significant time and money during this start-up phase (4 hours/day for a
> month).  I am having a significant algae problem, the particulars of which I
> will describe in a minute.

> My broader issue, however, is:  if one doesn't win the algae fight, one will
> not likely continue in the hobby.  Yet, other than the PMDD approach, there
> is little in the way of a roadmap.  Thus, I challenge/beg those of you who
> know your stuff to respond to the following questions for newer hobbyists,
> who are willing/trying to get is right and who will invest reasonable time
> and money to succeed, but who must have reasonable long-term success against
> algae:

And here we are. There's many forums to help and folks give the best advice
they can. I want more folks in this hobby that why I do what I do.
> 1)  Is the Sears-Colin paper fundamentally the current, accepted piece of
> work on the subject.  If not, what is? (I hope the answer is not, "all the
> little e-mails that have flown around since it was written", i.e. I hope
> there is a comparable start-to-finish piece(s) to read/follow).

If you prescribe to the notion of a PO4 limited tank. NO3 limited tank or an
iron limited tank? These are each different multifactorial systems.
If you have fair amount of PO4 input for your growth rates it's a decent
method IMO. If your very low in  PO4's it's not. Therefore you would add
it(PO4) and keep lower NO3 etc. Basically you have number of choices. Which
one is up to you. We have folks adding PO4 to 1:1 ratios of PO4 to NO3 with
no algae. So you tell me, is it PO4 that causes algae? I add it to 1.0ppm. I
seem to have done well for many many years. While those without any have
suffered(all that pure SF tap water without any and it's nice a soft etc).
> 2)  Is PMDD fundamentally the way to add nutrients for high plant growth and
> reasonable control of algae?  (As you likely know, these can be bought,
> pre-prepared, from Homegrown Hydroponics: Poor Man's Dupla Drop
> <http://www.hydroponics.com/info/aquatics/pmdd.htm>  ).  Or, is there a
> group of readily available products that are viable, or better, (such as:
> Flourish Tabs or Jobes Spikes w/ Flourish liquid w/ Flourish Trace, w
> Flourish Potassium, Iron and Excel).  And what about Dupla Drops, etc,
> themselves?  Are they the most straight forward way to go?  Are they
> completely unaffordable?  Is there anything missed by buying Dupla? In your
> answer to this question, please be specific.  I, like many others, are
> looking for a basic path to follow (of which there will likely be several,
> but we need to know what they are to choose/begin on one).

Check out SFBAAPS site both Dixon and I and a few other articles relate to
your questions. Look under "referances".
> 3)  For high plant growth and algae control, as a general matter, should
> nutrients be added to the water column, or to the substrate.  If the answer
> is "to the substrate", and PMDD or Dupla liquids are best (or other non-tab
> products), Florida Driftwood sells a clay ball substrate injection tool to
> do this: Substrate Nutrient Injector
> <http://floridadriftwood.com/substratefertilizernutrients.html>  .  Is that
> what it takes?

Depends on how fast of growth your talking. The faster growth rate will
require more dependence on the other. Slower tanks do fine with sub's only.
higher light tanks do not etc(you need both).
> 4)  If a tank needs to be kicked into high gear, to enable plants to
> out-compete algae, what fast growing plants do you recommend?  Does the
> concept of adding fast-growing plants in reasonable quantity make sense for
> newer tanks, and for most other tanks that are experiencing significant
> algae (assuming nutrients, light, filtration etc are reasonably correct)?

Stem plants are generally fast growers.
> 5)  What test kits and from which manufacturers should one have if employing
> the recommended nutrient plan.  The newer hobbyist may do well to test,
> rather than rely on experience, plant characteristics, etc to ensure correct
> dosages.  However, most are not scientists.

See the site mentioned.
> 5)  Given my current "bloom", and my perception that with the other basics
> covered, reasonably strong algae control is essential to the longevity of a
> hobbyist, I am inclined to have at least 50%-75% of my fish algae
> controlling fish, etc, for my 29g tank this means:  4 SAE, 4 Otto Cats, 6
> Amino Shrimp, 2 Mollies, 2 Swords, 4 Corey Cats, Snails (not sure which).
> This quantity can rise and fall with the level of algae problems.

More is better generally.
> 6)  When employing all of the above measures, generally how long should one
> pause to see if the desired effect is coming, e.g. how long would it take to
> know if PMDD is working, if adding plants is working, etc.  This is
> important, because newer hobbyists may tend to act, or react, to soon.

About three weeks to turn a tank around and have it looking real nice and
perky. I've done this for a long time. It takes time to get decent at this,
be patient and do not give up.
> Do you recommend Diatom filters for periodic use?  Vortex or System 1?

Sure or a magnum micro cartiage works too.
> 7)  Other comments?

Read the articles mentioned. Also Dave' Hueberts.
> As these general points are vital to me and most serious newer hobbyists,
> please focus on the above.  If you still have any cyber-breath left, here
> are my individual current circumstance/conditions for which comments are
> welcome:
> 29g 30" tank.  110 w compact florescent (4w/g) w 2 full-spectrum bulbs 12-14
> hrs/day.

Drop to 10-11.

  Carbo Plus C02 at 66% (I have also read everything on the web
> about the Carbo Plus.  (Other than sometimes mistakenly high quoted cost,
> (only about $150 @ True Aquarium Plants: Carbo Plus
> <http://www.trueaquariumplants.com/prod_list.asp?depID=15&catname=CO2> ), is
> there anything truly wrong with this way to adding C02?)).

No but having low GH will not help. It's more for hard water. Not too keen
on the one I bought abnd the cost in the long run. Merrill uses one with
good results. I'll stick with the tired and true gas tanks thank you.

> KH 5, GH 2, PH
> 6.8 (prior to Seachem Alkaline Buffer and Acid Buffers: KH 2.5, GH 2, PH
> 6.4).

Why do you add "acid buffer"?. You have a low GH, I'd go up to 5 or so
especially using the carbo plus.

 Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate undetectable.

Well no wonder. How about 5-10ppm of NO3 by adding KNO3(stump remover).

 Temp 78-82.  Substrate 3"
> Florite w a box of Laterite below.  Whisper-2 filter.  A few Seachem
> Flourish Tabs and daily Seachem Iron.

You do not need to add daily. Plants can go 3 weeks with any iron. But try
for 2-3 times a week. That seems about best to me.

>  Prime with water changes.  Reasonable
> heavy planting, but by no means full.

Well fill it!

>  For fish: Ottos, Cardinals and
> Coreys.  Not over-feeding.  Weekly 50% water changes.  Cycling was very mild
> due to high plant vs. fish load.
> I have likely damaged my plants from too much handling:  Once to replace
> original large Petco gravel with Flourite, and once to fully replant and
> substantially prune all plants.  There were only one-week intervals between
> receipt of plants (mail order) and each of these two replantings.  In each
> case plants were likely out of water too long (6 hours).

Just keep them damp when doing this work.

> My current plan is as follows:  1)  Add 4-6 SAE, 2 Ottos (4 total), 6 Amano
> Shrimp, 2 Mollies and 2 Swords.  This will be done gradually to adjust for
> boi-load.  2) add 50%-75% more plants using quick growing ones.  3)  use
> PMDD as sole nutrient program.  4)  continue 50% weekly water changes and
> physical removal of algae (not easy without uprooting plants, so I'll err on
> side of little plant disturbance.  5)  give it time 2-3 weeks, and reassess.
> 6)  Keep my fingers crossed.  If plants grow and algae are under control, I
> will somewhat thin the algae-eating fish, add carpet foreground plants
> (Amano influence), and focus on Angles and Cardinals, with others for
> variety (glass cat, Hatchet, maybe a few Fancy Guppies).  I'll try to resist
> messing with the established plants too much, i.e. just let them grow with
> normal maintenance, until everything is very well seasoned (especially me).

Buy stem plants as they grow fast and are good for folks who like to prune.
Tom Barr

PS read the articles.
> From me and others trying to learn to do this right, despite a few bumps in
> the road,....THANKS!
> Caleb Clapp