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re: brown algae problem

Hello Shireen,

There are a couple of places you can look for information on algae, 
if you have not checked them yet.  The KRIB is a good source.

Though it may seem odd, you do not want a tank to have undetectable 
nitrates. Lack of nitrogen will limit growth of higher plant life.  
This lack of contributes to algae problems.  There is an excellent 
article on this that you should read at:

I do not know much about brown algae, but I assume that a tank that 
is doing well will have little or no problem with it.  I have found 
that plants are significantly easier to grow at a pH of 6.5 to 7.  Of 
course there will be exceptions to this.  You should check the 
requirements of your plants.  One reason for this, is that plants
have much less access to carbon dioxide at higher pH levels.

I suspect your substrate will be a big problem with your tank.  Not 
only is it increasing your pH, but I have read that calcium will bind 
phosphates when in a newer tank, but it leaches phosphates in older 
substrate.  If this is true, and phosphate rich water was added 
previously, than you will have a constant phosphate problem in this tank.

If you do change the substrate, most plant people use very small 
gravel and use a substrate additive to it.  Since you have already 
been using Natural Gold fertilizer, you may want to try Substrate 
Gold as well.  I have never tried it, but it is supposed to be good.  
If you can't get this in your area, the web address is:
I have tried Dupla Laterite, and I know this is an excellent 
product, but this is not always easy to find, and would suspect that 
it is much more expensive.

- Darrell