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Re: PH Problems?

Gregory Gooden wrote:
"One of my tanks is a 125 Gallon. It's been set up for over 6 years now. Has 
3.5 inches of "fine" natural gravel, not quite sand. It gets "vacuumed" 
occassionally, but hasn't been changed in that 6 years.  It currently has an 
Eheim "ThermoFilter" cannister, a Fluval 404 (with 15watt UV Sterilizer), a 
Magnum 350 (attached to the bio-wheels) and an EboJager 150watt.. 

Hmmm... you didn't mention how much lighting you had previous to adding the 3 
watts/gallon. What was it? What was your fertilization routine? What type of 
plants do you keep? You weren't also doing any water changes during the 3.5 

"For a long time, I've had pretty good success with it, including plants. But 
starting about 6 months ago, I started battling SERIOUS algae problems. At 
first, it was brush algae. So I added 3.0 watts per gallon (2x96 and 2x50) of 
Compact Flourescent (love those guys at AH Supply!) and added a CarboPlus to 
pump up some CO2 in there along with very minimal additions of TMG and Fe 
cause I'm inspired by ya'lls plant tanks! (this, coincidentally, is roughly 
the same time I found this list, so I found lots of great advice! Thanks!). 

Wait a minute... You ADDED 3 watts/gallon to your previous lighting setup? By 
doing this and only putting in minimal additions of TMG and Fe then you 
started feeding the algae. Am I right in that you weren't adding any sort of 
fertilizer to the tank before you added the lighting? What's the grand total 
of watts/gallon of lighting do you have over your tank now? You need to 
balance out your lighting, fertilizer and CO2 in order to kill off this algae 

"So I took OUT the carbo plus and replaced with cannister CO2 and a CO2 
injector. Pearling was immediate (and only on the algae! :( ).  I halted ALL 
nutrient additions (TMG, Fe, Discus Trace, etc.). "

::Cringe:: You were providing the plants only lights and CO2 and they were 
therefore inhibited by growing by the lack of fertilizer. They can't grow in 
this condition and therefore aren't able to battle algae. The addition of 
fertilizer/nutrients does not cause algae by itself. The imbalance between 
your lighting, fertilization and CO2 is what causes it.

"GH: 4
KH: 2
PH: 6.4 (it's remained there for ages due to distilled water changes)
NO3: 50 m/gl
PO4: 2.4 (yeah, HIGH!)
TEMP: 85f

Notice how low your kH is. Did you know that the CarboPlus lowers kH? What's 
m/gl? Isn't that supposed to be mg/l? If it is and that number for PO4 is in 
ppm or mg/l then BOTH your NO3 and PO4 are high. The plants can't take in any 
of those macro nutrients since they don't have any of the other nutrients. So 
the NO3 and PO4 are left for the algae to dine on. It's possible to have PO4 
in high quantities but NO3 has to be balanced w/ that. I think Tom Barr has 
done experiments w/ having high quantities of PO4 w/o causing algae problems. 
I think he came to the conclusion that adding PO4 above 2 ppm is useless. Tom 
B, care to chime in on this?

"GH: 4
KH: 3.5
PH: 7.2 (!!!!!)
NO3: 75 m/gl (increased?)
PO4: .5
TEMP: 85f

These values aren't surprising. By increasing your kH you'll also increase 
your pH. By continuing to do RO changes you are continually taking out ANY of 
the much needed micronutrients that are needed by the plants to fight off the 
algae. Get your lights, fertlization and CO2 in order and you'll see your 
algae start to recede.

"So for some reason, a totally stable pH (stable for a  long time) is 
suddenly HIGHER without buffers present AND with injected CO2... Algae 
thrives and plants do NOT (cept for the cabomba and jungle val!). 

Baking Soda is a buffer.

"Now, HOPEFULLY someone will see something STUPID (I've been known to be just 
that.. Grin) that I'm doing (perhaps just making changes too fast??), but 
here's another clue..

Yup, you made changes to too many things waaayyy too fast. Whoaaa... wait a 
minute. I just did some math on your lighting. You said "I added 3.0 watts 
per gallon (2x96 and 2x50) of Compact Flourescent" but for a 125 gallon tank 
that's only 2 x 96 + 2 x 50 = 292 watts and therefore only 2.336 
watts/gallon. Am I right in that you had 83 (?!) watts on your tank before 
you added this lighting to get a grand total of 3 watts/gallon.

In any case here is something you can try-
Cut back on the lighting to just your power compacts. That should give you 
about 2.3 watts/gallon.
Keep your CO2 levels.
Start dosing your fertilizer again to the recommeded levels on their 
respected bottles.
STOP doing changes w/ RO water.
PATIENCE is the key. It will take you weeks to get things back in order.

By the way, I DO think that your algae is BGA. But to make sure take some of 
the filmy algae in your hand and SNIFF it. Does it smell like a swamp?? =D If 
it does then it's BGA. As you said, its a bacteria and not an algae. How long 
has it been since you did maintenance on your Eheim? Check the archives and 
The Krib for ways to battle this cyanobacteria. 

My webpage:
San Francisco Bay Area LFS Review page:

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