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Re: That old beard algae

Tom Brennan has a serious beard algae problem:

Tom, I would urge you to work on the water chemistry problem 
before (or instead of) tearing down the tank. If you don't 
solve the problem now, your new tank will have the same 

First, as you noted, too much fish food may be at least part 
of the problem. Try reducing the feeding to no more than once 
a day. (The fish may get a bit hungry, but a little dieting 
won't hurt them.) Second, keep up with the water changes, 
monitoring the nitrate and phosphate levels. Does the 
phosphate concentration drop as expected with the water 
changes? If not, than you are either adding large amounts of 
phosphate, or leaching it from your substrate. (I don't know 
the composition of Osmocote. Does it have high phosphate? 
Your phosphate reading of 30 ppm is astonishingly high. Are 
you sure of the decimal point? You want to get it down to a 
trace (or no more than 0.1 ppm)).

	I would also suggest adding lots of very fast-growing 
plants, such as water sprite (Ceratopsis), Rotala indica, 
ludwigia, and such, to try to sop up as much of the nutrients 
as possible, and to provide increasing shade. I recently 
added some Riccia (a floating liverwort) which grows rapidly 
and forms rather attractive rafts which my angelfish like to 
much on. When it starts getting out of hand, you can simply 
scoop some of it out.

	 The water changes and the reduced feeding should 
help with the nitrate problem. You probably should also check 
your iron levels. Excessive iron levels may also be 
contributing to your problem, and I see you are adding 
regular iron supplements. You may want to stop them or reduce 
them, at least temporarily until you get this problem.

	I hope your problem is not excessive phosphate 
leaching from your enriched substrate. If so, I fear you may 
have to tear the tank down after all. But it is certainly 
worth pinpointing the source first!

Rick Denney, Dickinson TX
rdenney at ibm_net