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Re:Re: To much light

Hello Rogeer.  Thank you very much for your comments and information.  I
still have some 
  questions and hopefully you or other members of the list can answer them.

  >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 agree with you but as yet, I do not see the complete answer.

  >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 perused the archives extensively before I set up the tank and the general
consensus seemed to 
be that more is better and having enough cheap light was better than not
enough expensive 
light.  I've worked at an engineering level at a major manufacturer for
many years and my 
experience tells me that there is probably no real special bulbs for the
aquarium.  Just too small 
a market to support the research.  What there is, is lighting used
primarily for other markets and 
for the larger indoor garden type of application.  Right or wrong, I
believe the same quality of 
light can be had by intelligent shopping and can be had for less than half
that purchased at the 
local pet store.  The warm white that I spoke of has been the less
expensive broad spectrum 
bulbs, "good for plants" type of bulbs and the common "daylight" bulbs.  I
must admit that all of 
the bulbs I have purchased have all had a similar spectrum and fell into
the 5000K group.


    >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.

  The algae that I am plagued with appears to my nonprofessional eye to be
red algae.  I 
  purchased several Otos when I set up the tank.  Although I did not have
as many as is 
  recommended, there should have been noticable effect.  There was not and
I now believe it 
  was because the algae is not of a type eaten by the Otos.  However they
stayed fat and 
  usually hiding out in the plants until we installed new carpet when they
comitted mass suicide 
  by swimming up the intake into the tempory pump.  One is left.  I guess
the Pleco was to lazy 
  to care.  I have been searching locally for SAEs but so far they are


  >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.

This is an interesting concept.  It may be that this is the root cause.  In
this case it seems to me 
that if this scenario is correct, there are two options for the aquarist in
planning his setup.  
Option 1 would be the classic method of building a rich substrate.
Maintenance would entail 
replacing nutrients in the substrate as they are depleated but refraining
from addint additional 
nutrients to the water column.  In addition, it would probably be wise to
not change water 
regularly since to do so would be only adding fresh nutrients for the
algae.  Since the only 
additions to the water column for this setup would come form the food fed
to the fish with 
regular removal of material resulting from regular pruning, the chemistry
of the aquarium should 
remain healthy and algae free for an extended time.  There is some evidence
that this is a valid 
system since there is evidence that once a algae infestation has run it's
course, it abates.  What 
do you think?  This approach is not useful to me since I must use a "paint
by numbers" 
approach because I have no concept of what is a correctly fertilized
substrate or how to keep it 
that way.  I felt I was making a random shot in the dark when I set up the
tank and I really 
don't feel I have any better grip on the situation now.

The second approach would seem to be: If it is desirable to feed the plants
daily and if the 
substrate affects the utalization of the nutrients, this system should be
based on a sterile 
substrate.  Consistency of the material would be an issue but any organic
nutrients would be left 
out.  That is, construct the substrate from sand, gravel and kitty
litter(?).  In this case some 
variation of UGF would probably be called for to allow a regular influx of
nutrients to the root 
system of the plants.  From here all the nutrients for healthy plants could
be added to the water 
column and monitored for control.  This would be attractive to me since it
removes any 
guesswork.  Again what is the list's opinion.  I will refrain from persuing
this approach for now 
since it would require a complete rebuild of my setup.

  >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.

Since I have good control of the lighting on my setup, it would seem more
logical to adjust the 
light source rather than putting a filter in the line.  The result with the
high light output in the past 
has been: Allowed the H. Poly. to grow and carpet the surface of the water.
 Algae infestation 
at the surface and on the H. Poly increased significantly.

  >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
  >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.

  We agree completely.  The only problem has been that neither
discontinuing the fertalizer or 
  major water changes have produced noticible results.  Two months ago we
installed new 
  carpet and 2/3 of the water was removed to allow the tank to be moved.
The water was 
  replaced with RO water and fertalization discontinued.  Iron and nitrate
levels dropped until 
  they tested zero but algae growth remained constant.  The only variations
that I have 
  observed that have affected the growth rate of the algae have been
cutting the light by 1/2 
  and filter status/water flow rate.  

  >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.

It looks like I will have to have them shipped in.  As I said earlier, I
haven't found a good 
selection of algae eaters in Austin.  Perhaps my daughter can find
something in Dallas.

I remain stumped.  I bought a big bunch of grass shrimp and added them to
the tank.  If they 
help great, if not they are a good snack for the fish.  I will add algae
eaters shortly.  If I can't 
find them in Dallas, I will try one of the addresses that has been posted.
I believe I have 
changed water often enough to eleminate chemical buildup; unless there is a
high concentration 
of something(?) in the water source.  I would appreciate more comments on
the hypothisis that 
fertilization of the water column is contradictory to a fertalized substrate.

I have been able to adjust all the measurable nutrient levels with the
exception of the 
phosphate.  Although not what can be considered high, I have never been
able to drive it to 
zero.  I believe it to be contributed by the fish rather than the substrate
since I can drive the 
nitrates and iron to zero and were there leakage from the substrate this
should not be possible.  
It would seem that possibly the plants are assimilating the nutrients in
the substrate rather than 
the water column.  If this is the case I will have to rebuild the system.
I have never been able to 
keep a system balanced by supplying all nutrients via the substrate so if
this proves out, I guess 
I am dead!  Many thanks to everyone.

k5vkq at ix_netcom.com
"Still walking in the weeds!"