new plant tank woes

> After reading up loads of useful info from this list and the archives, I
> decided to try my hand at a planted tank and set up a 29g about 4 weeks ago.
> fish= 4 zebra danios, 6 rasbora heteromorpha. Filter is an AQ300
> with sponge, Biochem beads, and SeaChem phosphate remover. 
> The main problem is hair algae- it's covering every plant and the
> glass at amazing speeds.
> I'm not using any fertilizers initially so no phosphates are being
> added (other than tapwater).


There are a couple of obvious boo-boos here. The first is that you are
not feeding the plants.  They need nutrients just like the fish.  Any
nutrients that come from the fish food are probably being removed by
the chemical filtration you are using (Biochem beads and phosphate
remover).  Don't forget that plants need *some* nitrogen and
phosphorous to grow - nitrate and phosphate are not 100% bad.  They
also need CO2.  

The second thing is that conditions that are suitable for plants are
also suitable for algae and algae is hardier, i.e., it will grow in
conditions that some plants will not grow in.  A plant tank will
always have some algae.  What you need are some algae eaters to
control the algae.  Most successful plant tanks have a variety of
algae eaters that keep the algae invisible.  I suggest you try perhaps
4 to 6 otocinclus and 1 farlowella, along with some snails
(preferrably Malaysian Trumpet Snails) and some corydoras catfish 
for further algae and detritus control.  Once the plants are
flourishing, there is evidence that suggests the plants themselves
produce chemicals that further limit algae growth. 
The Aponogetons are doing well because they store nutrients in their
bulbs and are living off of that.  The other plants are more sensitive
to the environment. 

> Where is this algae coming from?

Algae spores are everywhere and will burst into life when conditions
are right.  You can't avoid it but you can control it. 

George Booth
R&D Engineer
Hewlett-Packard Company
Loveland, Colorado