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Re: algae and bio filtration bacteria

>> I had the same problem. Tom Barr recommended considering ammonia the
>> problem, 

then Tom Barr wrote:
>*IF the plants are in sufficient density, IF they are supplied with proper
>nutrition, I highly doubt that a non measurable NH4 residual is going to
>cause an algae outbreak. Most NH4/NH3 test tend to be decent and not as
>subject to problems as say NO3.....

>My beef with NH4 is only as an inducer for resting algae spores. At say
>..... 0.25ppm of NH4 might induce a number of algae to sprout and grow. Even
>if the residual only last for 12 hours etc and is gone(bacteria, algae and
>plants use it up fast).
>Most plant tanks will suck out the NH4 very fast. Adding the filter will
>remove even more. It will mix the tank better than a powerhead alone in most

Now, what about in a tank where the plants are not capable of sucking
nutrients quickly, say when the plants are not at peak health or in a new

Recently I set up a new tank and densely populated it with lots of plants
(including several fast growing stem plant species). The tank had flourite
(mixed in with gravel, 50/50), CO2 injection and 2.5 wpg light. No filter.
The plants were pearling almost immediately, but all were not growing as
fast as they were in the tank from which they were plucked. I performed
weekly and biweekly water changes to help get things going. My water has
good amounts of everything, although in small concentrations.  
Then I got "cocky." I added some macro nutrients (NO3, K) ... and... added
a tiny amount of my Miracle Grow (MG) solution for a little PO4 (and as Tom
reminded me, I also gave the tank a small (non toxic to fish) amount of
ammonium, NH4+). 

One of the outcomes: green water! Was it due to excess nutrients that the
transplanted water plants were not ready to handle, was it specifically the
phosphate or ammonium ( in combination with higher initial iron from a new
flourite substrate), or was it going to happen anyway? In retrospect, I
should have avoided the extra water column nutrients until the plants
settled in, started excreting their various allelochemicals and the tank
with its various microorganisms matured a bit. I believe that my tap water
with chloramines is another source of NH4 (after treatment with chloramine
remover, the bound NH4 is treated harmless, but somehow its nitrogen gets
to be available to the plants ).  Maybe using a filter (with old filter
material) could have helped to remove NH4 not used quickly enough by the
new plants. In fact, that is what I would have recommended to someone else.

BTW, adding the MG to my other mature tanks has never resulted in green
water.  I can get that to happen in different ways :-) One message: effects
of liberal fertilizer usage is probably different in mature tanks with lots
of healthy plants vs. non-mature tanks or ones with plants that are

Algae are common in new setups and must run their course. What are people's
experience with initial blooms of suspended algae (green water)?


Neil Frank / Aquarian Subjects (interesting old books and magazines)