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Re: Hair algae

> I have a 70 gal tank that has been a nightmare with hair algae.  The tank
> has been up for 4 1/2 months and I can't find that balance that causes the
> hair algae to die back.
> Here is some info on the tank:
> 4 40W bulbs powered by a IceCap 660 ballast
> 3 Aquasun, 1 Corallife Trichromatic
> Photoperiod 12:12

Try a blackout for 4 days. Do a big water change before and after.
This will hurt the algae pretty good by itself. Put 2 thick blankets etc and
let no light in for 4 days.
> CO2 (from a cylinder) at 1-2 bubbles/sec is injected into an Eheim 2215
> canister filter
> Substrate Gold is used in half of tank (back and sides) and is covered with
> Estes Deep River gravel.
> PMDD from the Sears-Conlin paper

Make sure things are good here.
You want a target of about 5 to 10ppm of NO3 all the time. A K of about
20-30ppm and a P of about .2 to .5ppm. CO2 should be at least 20ppm. Recall
the level of lighting in the paper. It's quite low. Even so I've noticed
even at _less than 1 watt/gallon_ I add P as a routine with less algae
presence than without adding it (to about .5ppm). Plant growth is excellent
even at low levels. Lighting does not seem to be such a big factor IME.

 Some claim that the P is causing the algae but I think it has much, much
more to do with NO3's/NH4+ levels or lack of something(CO2, K, traces). You
can still have low NO3 but if there's a NH4 spike for whatever reason, algae
will creep in and attack. Same goes for high NO3 levels with moderate to
high levels of P. Or absent NO3. You can have high P and N levels but no CO2
and less light. Or you can have high NO3 and very low P. There are a few
other combo's. But plant growth will be better if the NO3's are kept in the
5-10ppm range and you can have pretty much whatever you want for PO4. Folks
have gone all over up above 2ppm but I'd stick to about 1.0ppm or so and
perhaps to .5ppm for those that are conservative. As long as there's enough
for the plants. 

> 6 Ottocinclus
> 3 Farlowella
> 1 Gold nugget Pleco
> 6 Blue Rams
> 15 Silver hatchetfish
> 30 Cardinal tetras
> 5 Corydoras sp

> Temp 78-82F
> KH 1
> pH - target 6.5 +/- .2

That KH should come up, add some baking soda or potassium carbonate. Shoot
for about 3-5 KH and a pH of about 6.5 to 6.8. Those fish are fine at my KH
levels which is 8 times your level. Add some stuff for your GH also.
Some more algae eaters would not hurt. Shrimp/SAE's would go best with those
fish. You got some CO2 issues going on I'd bet.
> The initial planting went fairly well for awhile.  The Cabomba especially
> was growing very vigorously and needed to be thinned and replanted at least
> 1x/week for the first month or two.  Eventually the E. tennellus carpeted
> the remaining unplanted foreground as planned.    The larger swords were of
> suspect quality and slowly produced new leaves but smaller (6-8") than the
> original (10-12") leaves.  They never really grew with the vigor I have
> experienced in the past.

CO2 and macro's(NPK) and they will. You may need more Traces.
> Hair algae started on the older leaves which would have been expected.

Attached to the edges? Get some SAE's. Perhaps 6 or so. Sounds like

> About a month after the tank was started something triggered an outbreak of
> Ich and instead of treating the tank I raised the temp to 86F.  The Ich
> disappeared in a week or so, but the hair algae exploded and I haven't been
> able to control it since.  The hair algae eventually spread to entire tank
> and suffocated the bunch plants.  They were replaced with Cabomba since that
> grew the best initially.  Within 3-4 days hair algae was growing on the new
> plants.
> About 1/2 way through this ordeal I doubled the K2SO4 and noticed the algae
> start to thin out and die back but it never completely disappeared and came
> back with a vengenance.

Well you were likely just low on K then you drove some other nutrient down
like NO3. Using PDMM blindly is not going to solve this for you.
> Here is some recent water test data (ppm)
> Fe        NO3        PO4        PMDD        K2SO4
> .08        2.4        .1                6ml              12ml
> .11        2.2                            6                  12
> .14        2.3                            4                   8
> .13        1.7         .1                4                   8
> .12        1.7                            4                   8
> .11        2.1                            3                   6
> .09        2.2         .1                0                   0  20% WC
> .07        2.0         .1                0                   0
> Other than the fish load being high, is there something that I'm missing?

Is this weekly readings or daily? Looks too stable to me. Nothings growing
(being used up) it seems. Or the kits are not that accurate, some other
testing problem perhaps. Your CO2 levels are good(are they?) and you have
good lighting and you really think that your iron and NO3 measurements are
that precise? Yet algae is growing on plants in 3-4 days fast? Something is
not right here. I'll you figure that one out.

 My tanks use at least .2ppm a day of PO4. A good lab grade ion meter could
get this accurate but your not doing those NO3 readings with a kit. The iron
issue has been brought up recently. The more I look into the issue of iron
the more it gets very unclear so what do the readings even tell us at this
point? I think a qualitative approach to your iron would be a better method.
I use a factor of 10 times more iron(as a base for micro's, I use TMG and or
SeaChem) and P than you do.
And I don't have algae issues..........

 Just watch the plants and keep a good control on your NO3 with excess K. If
P gets less than .2ppm add some.
Your fish load is not that high. More water changes would take care of
things better if your concerned there.
> I also have a 55 gal that has been up for 3-4 years and doesn't have a touch
> of hair algae.  I have 300 W of light via 4 florescent tubes, CO2 injected
> into a Fluval 203, and I add a splash of PMDD every day or every other day.
> Both tanks based on the Sears-Conlin paper.

CO2, NO3 and K. I bet if you added some KH2PO4 to that tank it would grow
even better. Try a spike of it. Just try pulsing it 2 x a week and note
changes. You may need more traces.
CO2 alone could be the reason for the difference. Do filters have the same
flow rates all the time? Canisters are good but check them to be sure. Some
tanks clog filters better than others due to fish type/load/driftwood/moss
> What is the limiting factor here?

Well the P/C paper is suggesting to make PO4 the limiting factor in a low
light tank as it is in many natural FW systems.

 Is there too much K2SO4 which is impeding
> the photosynthesis?

Doubtful. You'd have to go well over 50ppm.
> Any advice on how to take control of this mess?

If it's a 70 gallon, I'd do the black out first 50% water change before and
after. Remove all the stuff you can first do a good trim etc then the water
change then the blackout. Wait 4 days. Remove and do another water change
50%. Add 1/2 teaspoon of KNO3(dry). 3/4 teaspoon of K2SO4. Add enough trace
mix to get up to .5ppm. Add KNO3 every 3 rd day and the traces. See if your
P goes to zero. If so you'll need to add some of that later. Keep your CO2
at 20-30ppm. Everything starts with that. Even the best folks get nailed by
the CO2 every so often. Raise the KH to 3-5(and GH) and keep the pH a slight
bit higher(6.5 to 6.8).
You seem willing to work and understand all this so it should be relatively
easy for you and you have most all the chemicals you need to do this. Just
watch your NO3 mostly and have decent CO2. SAE's will help greatly for now.
Tom Barr 
> Thanks
> Dave