Re: Algae eater problems


It is pretty normal to get algae on the tank and plants...and it is as much
a part of the natural ecology of rivers and seas. So don't get too worried.
Most plants don't mind a moderate algal load...they *are* designed to cope.
And some of the more aggressive algae eaters can often do more damage to
the plants than the algae!

In my experience any of the Garrinae (such as Epalzeorhynchus, Labeo and
Garra) make reasonable to excellent algae eaters depending on their
motivation. Siamese flying foxes seem to be the best, and red-tailed sharks
pretty indifferent. But bear in mind they are really aufwuchs eaters: green
algae is fine as it is easy to digest, but don't expect them to eat brown
algae (diatoms) to the same extent, or hair algae (Cladophora) at all.

Plecs are more variable. Whiptails, Otocinclus and Twig catfish make almost
o impact at all. Young Hypostomus and "Pterygoblichthys" are better, but as
they mature their sheer size makes them less plant-friendly. Panaques are
vegetarian, and happily eat the leaves as well as the algae. All of the
Loricariids make good all round scavengers, but don't expect too much.

Snails are hopeless. Mollies can be effective, but are picky feeders and
will damage fine leaved plants. Similarly, Scats adore hair algae, but
uproot the plants as well. Gyrinochelinus (Chinese sucking loaches) are an
absolute waste of money.

Providing the plants are vigorous, the easiest thing is to remove the
heavily overgrown leaves that have hair algae. Nothing else will destroy
it. Green algae won't bother most plants, and makes excellent forage for
cichlid and livebearer fry.

7.4 isn't particulary high and all save the most delicate plants will adapt
to it. If you have hard, alkaline water from the tap (faucet), then for
heaven's sake go buy plants that like that kind of water! Otherwise you are
fighting an uphill battle. Ask any outdoor gardener, and they'll tell you
it is always best to buy plants to match the soil.

In hard water (like London, where I am), Vallis, Sagittaria, Ceratohyllum,
Anubias, many Crypts, Microsorium, Pistia, Hygrophila, some Echinodorus,
and Aponogeton all do very well. Just keep the aeration minimal and the
substrate rich, and above all the lighting bright; and the plants do fine.
Ceratophyllum (Hornwort) does overgrow, and will shade the lower plants.

Ludwigia, Bacopa, delicate Crypts and Echinodorus (including the Dwarf),
Ammania and pretty well anything with red leaves DON'T do well in hard
water. I always figure that if a plant isn't doing well in your tank,
replace it with one that will!

Incidentally aeration oxidises some minerals making the inaccessible to
vascular plants. Experiment to find the minimum filtration and water
turnover. None of your fish is demanding, and in a tank your size aerations
is probably not important.

Cucumber is uneccessary for the loach (but a shoal is!). They are
invertebrate predators. The vegetables will be eaten by your "algae eaters"
in preference to algae, though.

Hope this helps,



From  Neale Monks' Macintosh PowerBook, at...

Department of Palaeontology, Natural History Museum, London, SW7 5BD
Internet: N.Monks at nhm_ac.uk, Telephone: 0171-938-9007