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Slow, Creeping, Black Plague of Aquatic Death!

Actually, itís nothing that serious yet.  I just needed a catchy title!
There is a new algae (I think itís algae) appearing in my tank, and I need
some advice.  It is small, black and hard.  It is appearing in spots on my
Hairgrass, Anubias, Christmas Moss, Riccia, rocks and driftwood.  It isnít
too bad yet, but I can see the potential for it getting much worse if it isn
ít stopped soon.  Itís kind of like a hard, black form of green spot algae,
but worse!  It is forming a hard crust on some leaves.  If it were to
completely cover a leaf, it would certainly die because no light can get
through it to the plant!  I performed a water change two nights and tried to
remove some of this stuff.  At that time, I had only noticed it on my
Hairgrass.  I used my fingernails and tried to scratch it off, but it wouldn
ít budge.  This stuff felt very hard, rough and bumpy, kind of like a Brillo
pad.  I was too afraid of destroying the delicate blades of the Hairgrass,
so I just left it alone after a few attempts.  Since then, I have noticed it
growing in many other areas of my tank.  What could possibly cause this?  Is
it even algae or some other plague?  I canít imagine it has anything to do
with any of the elements of my tank being out of balance.  I keep all
parameters at the recommended levels as per the instructions of Tom Barr and
many others.  (Great big thanks to Tom Barr, by the way!  My tank is looking
great thanks to all your advice!)  I perform regular water changes, plant
prunings, nutrient additions, use pressurized CO2 and high lighting.
Everything else in my tank is looking good and growing well, except for this
black, crusty algae.  Whatís up with that?  Any advice would be appreciated!

While Iím at it, Iím going to re-ask a question I never got a response on.
Just recently, new snails have appeared in my tank.  These are snails I have
never seen before.  I donít know where they came from because I havenít
added any new plants, rocks or dťcor to my tank since I first set it up
almost two months ago.  They are small, disk-shaped snails.  Actually, they
look kind of like snails with clamshells (well, half of a clamshell to be
exact).  Their shells look like the top half of a clamshell.  They are
small, slow moving and, so far, live only on my Vals.  Does anyone have a
clue what kind of snails these are (if they are snails)?  If so, are they
good or bad snails?  Should I be worried about them doing any damage to my
plants?  TIA for any advice!


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