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RO water & algae problem

Dear George,

	Thanks for responding to my post about RO water and algae problems in APD
#874. It seems the consensus is I need to reduce the duration of my lighting
and fiddle with the water chemistry before resorting to getting an RO
	I said I don't add any fertilizer to the water or have any in the substrate
(besides laterite). I do have PMDD ingredients that I got from that guy who
sells them for 30$ over the APD (I think his name is Neil Schneider). But I
kind of got spooked when people started talking about the supposedly high
level of Copper in his trace element mix (Microplex) and was not impressed
with the results during the period of time I did use it. I think I may not
have been adding the appropriate amount, however (6ml a day to a 55 gal
tank), because the result was an already  bad case of algae simply exploding.
In any event, all the plants seem to be doing quite well without it, but
maybe I'll give it another try using just the nitrate and pottasium

I made a mistake in my original post about my iron level. I said that it was
around 0.5, which is quite high. I was reading the wrong side of the color
code chart. So it's actually around 0.1 (according to the Red Sea kit), which
is within the acceptable realm. But perhaps I don't want to be adding any
more (?). Do you know if the laterite in the substrate can leach iron into
the water and give false iron readings? In any event, my red plants (rotala
macandra and indica, ludwigia, and ammania) all have good coloration. 

I know from a water analysis I got from my water company that my tap water
contains 0.33 mg/l of phosphate, which is on the high side. I said I got a
reading of about 0.2 mg/l with my phosphate test kit, so some of it is being
consumed but that level is still high I believe. Either that or the test kit
(Seachem), is inaccurate. I must say I'm somewhat suspicious of it. Should I
bother with anything like Phosguard or Phos-zorb? You also said nitrate
levels should be around 5 ppm as opposed to 0. I can't find a test kit that
gives nitrate readings that precise (My Wardleys dry tab kit will actually
only tell me I have less than 10 ppm, so I'm just assuming its 0 since I know
my tap water doesn't contain any). I assume Lamotte probably makes one that
exact, but are they the only one?

I also said I fertilize with CO2. However I don't have any kind of reactor.
Its just airline tubing attached to a powerhead which shoots the bubbles out
into the water (the rate of gas from the canister to the powerhead is about 1
bubble per second). My CO2 level is 15 mg/l. Do you know if most people who
use CO2 have higher levels of concentration than that? Perhaps I could use my
Magnum 220 canister filter as a reactor chamber. I used to do that and I know
the pH at least was substantially lower than the 7.0 it now is (I think it
was 6.4 to 6.6 or so). 

One last thing. There was some discussion recently about the CO2/KH/PH table
and its' accuracy. It was fairly technical and I must admit I didn't follow
it very closely, but I remember you took part in it. Is the table still
considered accurate, or accurate enough? If not, is there a revised one that
has been posted recently (the one I have I copied from a web site several
months ago). Thanks again for responding and any additional help. 

													Matt MacGregor

(APD #874 post)
Does anyone here who uses reverse osmosis to supply most or all of their tank
water have what they would call an "unacceptable" algae problem? I recently
tore down my tank, which had been completely overwhelmed by various algae
types  and replaced the topsoil/vermiculite substrate with laterite (1 lb. in
the bottom third of gravel in a 55 gallon tank). I bleached the tank,
equipment, driftwood, and rocks, and used new gravel and water. I did not
bleach most of the plants, but I only put in clippings that were free of any
substantial algae. It's been up and running for a little more than a month
now, and the plant growth and color has been quite good. The algae situation
has certainly improved considerably (it could hardly have gotten worse). But
I still am getting increasing amounts of thread, hair, brush, and green algae
which first began covering the glass and gravel (green and hair) and then the
plants, driftwood, and equipment (hair, thread, brush, green). It's not what
I would call "rampant"  in its' growth, but if it were set up where others
could see it, I would not consider the tank to be presentable, as the glass
and some of the plants are more or less completely covered with algae growth.
I had figured removing the rich substrate and placing my 7 SAEs, 6 otos, and
snails back into a tank with almost no algae in it would combine to keep the
algae to a minimum, but this has not happened. I fertilize with CO2 (about 15
mg/l), have a pH of 7.0, GH 9, KH 5, Fe 0.5 mg/l, Phosphate 0.2, and Nitrate
0. Lighting is 160w from 5 Sylvania 48" F32 T-8's. 3 are 5000k and 2 are
6500k.  They are on for 13 1/2 hrs a day. I do water changes of 1/3 or so of
the tank once a week. I use tap water that I only add dechlor to (no
fertilizer). The additional fish in the tank are 14 neon tetras, 5 blue
emperor tetras, 4 red eye tetras, 4 rummy nose tetras, 3 blood fin tetras,
and 2 black neon tetras. The plants are Bacopa, rotala indica, corkscrew
vals, Amazon swordplant, ambulia, rotala macandra, broad leaved hygrophila,
hemianthus micranthemoides, anubias nana, red ludwigia, cabomba, green crypt
wendtti, hairgrass, pygmy chain sword, ammania, hornwort, hydroductyle, and
duckweed. I had lilaoepsis (dwarf swordplant) but it wouldn't grow so I got
rid of it. All of these factors have remained basically the same since before
I replaced the substrate. 

So, I figure that either there is too much light and/or the water chemistry
is a problem (I don't believe I overfeed my fish, either).  That 160 watts of
light translates to 3 watts per gallon, which I believe is not overly bright
(if brighter than what I've seen most others have). I've never had a green
water problem. As a result, I have begun considering getting an RO unit so I
can directly control the water chemistry in the hopes this will reduce the
amount of algae. But before I actually do that, I'd like to hear if anyone
has found or thinks that will make much of a difference. 

Thanks for any help,