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In mid-May, I was away for two weeks, during which my automatic feeder
dumped far too much food into the tank. There had been some algae in the
tank before I left, but when I returned, I found food flakes everywhere
and, far worse, the small amount of algae I had had, had taken over the
tank!  Great clumps of string algae filled much of the space around the
plants, and beard algae formed in hairy balls around the roots of many
others.  I cleaned up the mess as best I could, changed the water several
times, and got my nutrient levels back where they should be.  I also added
two SAEs.

Gradually, I noticed that the algae was receding.  Not just back to the
status ante quo, but, in a month or so, it had completely vanished!  For a
long time, I would occasionally find one or two of those gray fur balls
down around the glosso and hair grass, but now even those have
disappeared.  Furthermore, there isn't even any green algae on the
glass --absolutely none.

Now, at this same time, I was participating in a beta test of Seachem's
proposed new products, Flourish Nitrogen (FN) and Flourish Phosphorous
(FP). The latter is the same potassium phosphate I have been using all
along.  But the former, the nitrogen supplement, as described on the
label, "provides nitrogen in both the nitrate and the plant-preferred
ammonium form. However, no free ammonia is released because the ammonium
in Flourish Nitrogen is complexed and unavailable until utilized by the

Although I need to add 0.2 ppm PO4 every day to keep the level between 0.5
and 1.0 ppm, I only need to add 2 or 3 ppm NO3 twice or three times a week
to keep the level between 5 and 10 ppm.  The fish and their food evidently
account for the difference.

Nevertheless, I couldn't help wondering if the small amount of XXX
in FN might have contributed to my current algae-free situation.  Perhaps
it gives some advantage to plants over algae.  I wrote to Dr. Greg Morin
of Seachem, and this is his response (used with his permission):

"No direct evidence however many people reported either reductions in
algae or lack of appearance of algae. This can be interpreted several
different ways, (a) a component being added inhibits algae growth
directly or (b) the algae growth is inhibited indirectly due to the
plants out competing the algae because the component added increase
growth response of plants or (c) the algae is out competed for
nutrients because it is incapable of using the component added.

" My feeling is that (b) is the most likely here, with (a) a runner up
and (c) the least likely. Further studies should be able to easily
rule out (c) fairly easily (i.e. no plants in the tank and see if any
algae grows under "ideal" algae conditions)."

I would be interested in other people's opinions.  Thanks.

John T. Fitch
E-mail: JTFitch at FitchFamily_com
Web Site: www.fitchfamily.com/aquarium.html