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Re: pH Problems?

>......Desperate to get my tank in order BEFORE my big plant order comes
>from AquaBotanic! <grin at Robert>,
>Gregory  [To see everything Gregory wrote, see Dec. 16 APD]
I have looked at your pictures, and it is definitely blue-green algae.
Even the purple-colored stuff is bluegreen algae, probably a different
species.  The rise in pH was very likely to your addition of baking soda
(sodium bicarbonate).  Personally, I have no use for sodium bicarbonate.
If I want to increase the KH of my water, I add a small amount of
agricultural lime or ground limestone.  This way I increase the calcium
levels, and calcium is a macronutrient.  I used to have calcium deficiency
symptoms frequently in my plants when I used the local tapwater, which has
no measurable calcium or magnesium but has a GH of 9, entirely due to
sodium bicarbonate.  All that bicarbonate makes the water alkaline and
therefore makes it difficult to get any calcium dissolved in the water.

You have a lot of vallisneria in the background that does not seem to be
getting nearly as much light as the foreground, where you do not have that
many fast growing plants.  Perhaps if you direct more light onto the val,
it could get cranked up and perhaps hold down the BGA somewhat.

I have found that livebearers do a good job grazing on soft algae,
including BGA.  You might try some guppies, platies, or swordtails.  (Do
Discus eat guppies?)

You noted that your fish seemed to be breathing rapidly at a pH of 7.3 or
so, and, thus, you were worried about increasing the CO2.  I don't think
that the CO2 levels at a pH of 7 or higher could be high enough to stress
fish.  I would recommend a little cautious experimenting.  Reduce the CO2
flow and see if the respiratory rates lower.  Actually count the number of
respirations per minute.  Try increasing the CO2 just a little bit.  Does
the respiratory rate increase?  I don't want to be responsible for the
death of any of your fish, so be cautious in your experimentation.

BGA seems to tolerate low phosphorus pretty well.  Phosphorus additions to
a BGA infested tank of mine did not make it grow any better, but did
reverse a decline in my population of ramshorn snails which were dying out.

BGA, when well-lit, makes toxic substances that make it difficult to eat
and digest, but if it is kept in very low light for a few days the levels
of toxins decline and it becomes edible by ramshorn snails.  I have cleaned
up tanks by turning off the lights and waiting for the snails to clean it
all up.

Paul Krombholz, in well-watered central Mississippi, having a mild
December, so far.