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The algae farmer
We are all algae farmers to one extent or another,
eradicating it is not the goal, controlling it is. It is not at all
unusual to have the tank "cycle" through different stages during the first
six months or so where different forms of algae seem to be present and
then decline. I set up a tank recently with similar spec's as yours
although with somewhat less light. (i.e. 100watts of T-8 fluorescent in a
50 gal compared to your 160 watts of T-12 florescent in a 70 gal) Here
are my thoughts:
1) find the Sae's if you can, put 4 - 7 Otto's in even if they're
small. Also I have had very positive experience with Red Ramshorn snails
as detrivors and hervivors.
2) don't feed the fish at all for a week or so and then very
sparingly. I don't know what other fish you have in there but most fish
are herbivors to some extent and will graze on algae esp. when they are
hungry. We'd all eat more spinach and cabbage if that was all we could
3) I would nip the green water in the bud by 20 - 30% daily water
changes with no light and a shrouded tank for a day or two. This will
bother the plants some, but you said they were doing well and two days of
dark is going to bother the green water algae much more than the plants.
The daily water changes (with water sans nitrate and phosphate of course)
will dilute the green unicellular organisms and reduce the liklihood that
their massive die off from lack of light won't cause O2 depletion.
4) I would consider turning off one of the tubes for a month or so
for the following reason: I am assuming that you are somewhat of a newbie
and your learning curve at present is very steep, you are learning a lot
as you go. This is my situation as well. The more light you use, the
more energy you put in the system the better you need to be about keeping
the system in balance. Your range of acceptable water parameters (i.e.
nutrients like ammonia, phosphate, nitrate, iron) balanced with other
micro nutrients is more exacting the more light you use. Being
conservative to start, I think gives you more room to screw up and
recover. Once the plants are growing and better established, and you have
a experience and understanding of your particular system you can add more
light. 120 watts on a 70 gal is still a good deal of light and the only
difference you would see for all but the most demanding high light plants
is reduced rate of growth.
4) lastly, I would set up a Co2 infusion system. Algae can take
C02 out of the water better than some of the plants you mentioned thus
giving them the edge currently with the amount of light and lack of Co2.
These are my thoughts. These are not truths. Use them or discard them as
you see fit.
Miles Morrissey Easthampton, MA - USA
mmorriss at sophia_smith.edu