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Re: New tank blues

Doug in sunny New Haven wrote:


>The tank is a 20-gallon long; 3-5 inch gravel substrate with
>laterite in
>the bottom third; 55 watts of light (1 20W Triton, 1 20W GE "plant
>aquarium", 1 15W Penn-Plax cheapie);  Aquaclear 200 filter running
>peat and a sponge; DIY CO2; moderately stocked (6 glowlights, 5 otos,
>2 brass tetras, 1 pencilfish) and planted with half a dozen swords,
>ludwidgia palustris, pond penny and some corkscrew vals. PH is 6.8.
>is 4. CO2, according to George Booth's chart, should be in the 18 to
>ppm range. Nitrates are between 0 and 10 ppm -- it's a Tetra test :-(
>For a while I was using PhosSorb (sp?) in the filter but took it out
>because it did not seem to be having an effect on the algae growth.
>water company report indicates minimal nitrates and phosphorus in the
>tap). I used the Duplaplant tabs initially, and have been using the
>DuplaPlant 24 drops every day.  The lights are on a timer, 11 hours a

I prefer not to respond to posts where "Dupla" appears.  Their system
is self contained and it seems best to leave answers on (partly)
Dupla-complient tanks to those with some exprience with them.  But
none of those folks responded so I dug this back out of the
archive and I'll give it a shot.

>I When the algae growth became really bad two weeks ago, I removed
>many of the
>plants and gave them the 5% bleach treatment and manually removed
>much of the
>other algae in the tank.  I did three, 50% water changes over a week
>and have
>done two smaller changes this week.  The algae always returns in a
>day or less.
>It grows on the edges of leaves, on the surfaces of weaker leaves,
>and just
>about every other object in the tank except the fish!  It forms,
>long, flowing
>gossamer type hairs that can be removed with some rubbing.

Probably this bleach treatment wouldn't have solved your problem.
Once the algae are established it seems that you would need to tear
the tank down and bleach everything in order for that to help.
However, you may have set your plants back a little by pulling them
out and stressing them with the treatment.  That would do more to help
the algae than hurt it.

In such a new tank the water changes probably aren't doing much for
you either, but they would reduce your fertilizer levels.

>Anybody see anything obviously wrong that I'm doing here?

Nothing obvious, but I think you need to keep in mind that this is
still a new tank.  In a more mature tank there might be
counter-balancing biological effects that will help keep the hair
algae under control.  Disturbing the tank with bleach treatments and
the extreme water changes probably will delay the development of those
more "natural" controls.

>My thoughts: 1) Plants may be too close to the
>light source.
>A 20-gallon-long with a 3-5 inch substrate leaves less than a foot of
>clearance in many places. 2) I'm lacking some nutrients? I  looked at
>the analysis of Dupla drops in the archives (thanks again, George!)
>it would seem most of the trace elements are covered, but ... 3)
>Light "day" is too long, too short?

I have a 20 gallon long that grows plants very well.  I wish some of
my "show" tanks did as well.  I have a thinner substrate than yours
but I doubt that's a problem.  You might eventually want to remove
some of the substrate to get more head room; a 20 long is a shallow
tank and most sword plants ('cept e. tenellus) are capable of growing
out the top in no time.

Nutrient problems probably aren't implicated here unless you are
really overfertilizing or overfeeding the fish.  Maybe some dupla
maven can give an opinion about what to do with the fertilizer.  In my
experience though, hair algae like you describe can be a problem in
tanks with no added fertilizer and light feeding.

I think your light "day" is fine, but I think you might reduce your
light wattage, let things settle down and see what happens before you
go on.  Keep removing the nuisance algae, go back to smaller regular
water changes, leave the plants in place and don't do any unusual
treatments.  As far as the lights are concerned, try removing the GE
plant and aquarium light.  The remaining triton and penn-plax should
give plenty of light for a 20-gallon long.

And, as someone else suggested today, get something that will eat the
hair algae.  Search the archives for advice on that.

Roger Miller