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Re: To much light?

Onis Cogburn wrote:

> Hello everybody.  I haven't contributed for some time but I have been 
> reading the mail.  I have a problem and would appreciate some 
> comments/suggestions.


First, my 55 gallon tank is lit with 160 watts of NO flourescents, on 12 
hours/day and there's very little algae in the tank.  So, your light 
levels alone aren't the problem.

I've read the comment on this list that warm-white lighting favors hair 
algae.  I can't say that is true - I think its coincidental that all of 
the tanks where I have recurring hair algae problems are lit with 
warm-white lights.  In all cases I attribute the problem to either
periods of direct sunlight, insufficient water changes and/or too-long 
photoperiods - not to the color of the lights.  But then, that's still 
something to try.

I notice that your fish-list is a little low on good algae eaters.  My 55 
has two full-grown SAE and two clown plecos.  The clowns aren't effective 
algae eaters, by the way.  American Flag fish are cunning little guys 
with a taste for hair algae, and you might try adding a few of those.  I 
recently added groups consisting of one male and three females to two 
10-gallon tanks that had a hair algae problem remaining from the winter 
when the tanks were getting full sunlight.  They cleared it up.

Adding algae eaters doesn't really get to the root of the problem, 
though.  It just reduces the symptoms.

The details of your setup are fairly complex, with the mixed substrate, 
multiple filter media, DIY fertilizer and amended RO water.  This 
complexity isn't necessarily a problem, but it does make it difficult to 
isolate a problem.  So you'll have to take what follows in that context...

It's possible that your substrate is rich enough that your rooted plants 
are getting most of their nutrients (except for carbon) through their 
roots.  In that case they are doing relatively little to compete with the 
algae for the nutrients in the water column.

Some of those water-column nutrients result directly from your fish and
there's little you can do about that, but you're also adding additional
nutrients with the DIY fertilizer.  You can eliminate the fertilizer.  

You may also be able to add floating plants that will compete directly 
with the hair algae.  Those of course would also reduce the amount of 
light reaching the submersed plants and algae.  I don't particularly like 
floating plants, so that wouldn't be my course.

Given all that, I suggest leaving the lighting low for the time being,
removing all of the hair algae you can see with something like a
toothbrush or cat comb, doing a large (30 gallons or so) water change to get 
the dissolved nutrients down and stopping all fertilizer additions.  
Leave the lights low for about as long as you can stand to discourage the 
algae from rebounding, then bring them up to 160W, 12 hours per day.

If the hair algae returns, then get some effective hair algae eaters. 
Flag fish are great, Erik Olson said that Ameca splendens eat hair algae,
and some people say that mollies do, too.  There may even be some shrimp
choices.  Petsmart has been carrying Flag Fish (the local store labeled
them as American Flag danios), Ameca splendens are hard to find, and the
only mollies I've seen recently have been those bloated-belly mutants. 
Gross.  My favorite LFS has been carrying a shrimp they call "blue 
japonica", which appears to be a surface-feeding critter.  Good luck 
trying to maintain a population.

You might even try changing your warm white tubes out for something with a 
higher color temperature, but that's purely speculative.

Good luck.

Roger Miller