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Algae Challange - and beyond (a.k.a. Newbie #2)

Thank you all for the responses a couple weeks to my "Algae Challenge"
posting.  Here is a brief response to your concerns of that posting, and
some more questions:


Yes, I am new to all of this and was having my first huge algae crisis.  No,
I have no intention of throwing in the towel (although I may lose my job for
spending too much time on fish related stuff).  Yes, I have reduced my
lights.  Yes, I am having fun!


6 week-old 29g, 110w CF, Carbo Plus, Fluorite w a little Latterite below,
Boston Water, moderately well planted, a few Seachem Pond Tabs (recommended
for economy over aquarium tabs), periodic Seachem Iron, Seachem Prime w
water changes, 50% water per week although due to recent addition of PMDD no
water change in 10 days.


Simultaneous with posting, I bought:  2 Mollies, 2 Swords, a Dwarf Clown
Pleco, another Oto; and a week later: 6 small SAE and 12 Amano Shrimp (all
added to my 2 Otos, 2 Corrys (sp?), 5 Cardinals, and 2 Phantom Tetra).
Within 48 hours (and before the SAE and shrimp arrived), my primary algae
infestation (string algae?: 2"-10" long brown, soft and fluffy, cobwebby,
plumes on most plants) was happily eaten by the 2 Swords in a very big
feast.  The majority of the remaining algae (hair algae?: 1/4" - 1" bright
green, non-branching strands growing on plants and somewhat on rocks and
wood), has been eaten more gradually by my vast algae crew.  Some ongoing
growth, but the crew pretty well keeps up with it.

Just as I posted two weeks ago, I developed very green water that is my
current problem.

I dropped my lighting to 65w CF, stopped feeding the fish (so they eat

Added lots more stem plants (tank now quite full).

Bought lots of test kits (which I enjoy doing), a diatom filter (System 1)
and P Clear.

Mixed up and add daily PMDD (from Homegrown Hydroponics), as noted below.

The non-green-water algae is under control due to fish.  The green water is
at least temporarily gone due to last night's P Clear and diatom.


Tap water:   Ammonia 0, PH 8.4, KH 2,   GH 1.5, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, Copper
0, Potassium 0, PO4 0, Iron 0
Tank water: Ammonia 0, PH 7.0, KH 3.5, GH 3, Nitrite 0, Nitrogen 0 ppm prior
to PMDD and 0.25 ppm (Nitrate 1.1 ppm) after 4 days of PMDD,  Copper 0,
Potassium 25 ppm, PO4 6 ppm, Dissolved Oxygen 4-6 ppm, CO2 7-15 ppm
(depending on volume on Carbo Plus), Iron 0.

Test Kits:  LaMotte:  Nitrogen/Nitrate, 02, CO2; Seachem: Copper, Iron;
Sera: PO4; Aquarium Laboratories: Potassium;  Aquarium Pharm.: PH, GH, KH,
Ammonia, Nitrite.

Clearly my nutrient levels need work!  As I am trying to use the
Sears-Collins approach, I am somewhat upside-down, i.e. no Nitrates and lots
of Phosphate.  I do not know where my high Phosphate has come from.  It also
seems strange that with a Fluorite and Laterite substrate, combined with
prior liquid Seachem Iron, I have zero iron in the water.


1.  Where did all of my Phosphate likely come from.  I don't over feed, and
none in the tap water.  Originally, I used Bulls-eye, but stopped several
weeks ago and several big water changes ago.  Is that it?  Regardless of the
source, do I just do a lot of water changes to get it down, or by building
up Nitrate, Iron and Trace will it fall as plants increase overall nutrient
absorption (with all other nutrients being manually replenished).

2.  To convert to generally used nutrient-level terminology,  is my P04 test
result of 6ppm the "P" level?  Similarly, am I correct that I multiply my
Nitrogen count by 4.4 to get to Nitrates (assuming zero Nitrite) and that it
is Nitrate, not Nitrogen, that is generally referred to? I have seen
references to 02 at 112%, what does that mean vs. ppm?

3.  With regard to C02, can I just go by my LaMotte test results, or do I
need to factor in KH and PH?  I have read that the KH/PH charts are greatly
effected by the accuracy of readings, and by buffers.  I have used Seachem
Alkaline Buffer with Acid Buffer to obtain KH 4 and PH 7.0.  This manual
manipulation must negate the C02 charts?  If I can simply test for C02, what
level should I have, 15-25 ppm?  I don't seem to get over 16 ppm and even
there, I get concerned with 02 being low.  Should I add liquid Carbon,
Excel, until my plants produce more oxygen?

4. What should my level be for 02, mine seem very low at 4-6 ppm.

5.  I have never gotten any pearling.  Is this simply due to not yet having
the correct nutrient levels for plants to properly grow.

6.  I mixed my PMDD so I have individual mixes of the 4 components, so I can
dose individually (remember I am still in the
the-more-things-I-can-do,-the-more-fun-I-have, phase).  I am adding
everything, except K2SO4 (I have 25 ppm K already), and giving extra KNO3
(which adds K anyway?) until I reach 5 ppm Nitrate. The PMDD literature says
to add 1/4 ml per day for my 29g (1/12 ml per 10g tank size).  I am
averaging 2-3 ml per day for 29g (3/4 ml - 1ml per 10 gal), or about 10
times the prescribed dose.  Should I go faster, or slower, to reach the
basic nutrient target levels.  Is there any reason not to just hit the
levels in one dose?  I have shrimp, etc.

7.  Since I have a Fluorite and Laterite substrate and no currently
detectable Iron levels in the water, should I strive for iron limited water
(along with, or in place of Phosphate limited) to try the Sears-Collins
concept on high plant growth and algae control?  If one does limit iron in
the water, how does one deal with the other trace elements (one would have
to stop adding trace to limit iron)?

8.  Why doesn't LaMotte nor Hatch sell a Potassium test, but a few of the
cheaper brands do?  Are the other brands' tests ok?

9.  I have not seen much discussion about salt.  Since I have 2 mollies and
2 swords, I added 1/2 teaspoon per 5 gal, which is low for them.  Should I
have more, or less, for my overall tank happiness.  Does the answer change
when I later add angels? (I will likely give away the Mollies because they
are eating my plants).

10.  Given my strangely high level of P04, and my interest in limiting P04
in my water, (not to mention interest in the health of my fish) what food
brand is good?  Occasionally, I feed live brine shrimp, but do not add the
shrimp water (is this where my Phosphate could have come from?).

11.  Does a "cleated trace mix" add Ferrous of Ferric Iron?  If Ferric,
should I really care?

I am sure I have hit the legal limit for the number of questions in one
post.  Thank you all in advance!

Caleb Clapp