Algae is a massive issue in a planted aquarium and everyone suffers from it.
Some more than others. Those who have been in the hobby for a while will know the HUGE benefits of keeping shrimp in a planted tank, with particular reference to Amano Shrimp which are the LARGEST algae eating shrimp I am aware of. They’re SO HUNGRY for food is almost comical. Not only do they eat a lot, they’re big at roughly 3cm long.
Imagine this for a moment: The tank we keep them in has no algae left – they’ve eaten every last scrap and as a result we have to feed them shrimp food. We pop a few premium grade pellets in and within seconds they’re fighting over it. In the end, the largest shrimp wins and swims off the biggest chunk and eats it all to himself (greedy or what?!). The rest battle it out over the smaller pieces and in no time all the food is gone. Hopefully this demonstrates just how hungry these shrimp are for food. They will tirelessly eat algae 24/7, 365 days of the year.
Below is a wonderful picture of how good these shrimp are. The picture (from Tropica website) shows how efficient the Amano shrimp is when it comes to keeping a plant aquarium free from algae. The aquarium to the left had 3 shrimps, the one in the middle had none, while the one to the right had one shrimp during the start-up. They were all planted in the same way: 3 Anubias barteri var. nana and 3 Eleocharis parvula. The picture has been taken 3 months after the start-up. A recommendation is 1 Amano shrimp per 5 L water during the start-up of a new plant aquarium. Once a biological balance has been achieved in the aquarium, you can easily settle for fewer shrimps – e.g. 1 per 15 L water. However, if you have many fish that you feed, then we recommend that you maintain the population of 1 Amano shrimp per 5 L water.
If this tickles your fancy, and you want a stress free way of keeping your tank algae free, then invest today in Amano Shrimp by clicking here. And if you want your order for (tomorrow) i.e. Saturday then you can – just make sure you order before 4pm today 🙂
Reduce your lighting intensity. This will limit the environmental pressures on your plants and decrease the strain they are undergoing. If you can, raise your lighting (height wise) so rather than it being a few inches above the water, it could be 10-12” maybe. If this is not possible (i.e. you have a hood and can’t move the lighting) reduce the number of light tubes you are running and cut it down by half. If you were using 4 tubes, use 2. If you were using 2, use 1 etc. In addition to the above, reduce your lighting duration to 6 hours per day.
Add liquid carbon, such as Neutro CO2 – if you’re already adding it, increase the dose. You can increase this to double without any issues unless you have plants like riccia or vallis which don’t appreciate it. Liquid carbon is hostile to CO2 related algae but not only that, it offers carbon to the plant itself which it desperately needs. Hair algae often changes to a reddish type of colour and then to grey when exposed to higher dosages of liquid carbon (very satisfying to see). Another idea is when performing your weekly water changes, find a small paint brush (which is new) and dip it into some liquid carbon. Then paint the plants which have been effected by the algae – leave it 10 minutes and then top back up with water. You can use this technique on wood if algae is also growing there.
Increase your water changes and this goes for any types of algae. As soon as the algae monster shows up, perform more water changes (minimum of 30%) 2, 3 or 4 times per week – the more you do the better and your plants will love you for it (algae will hate you). Algae loves dirty water with lots of organics and broken down plant matter – invisible to you and I yet very visible to algae. But when you are using your syphon (or however you perform your water changes) make sure you get into every nook and cranny – don’t be lazy and syphon off the top 30% of water – that’s already clean; get right to the bottom and suck up all the debris around the rocks and bases of plants. Make sure your tank is really clean remembering that decomposing leaves break down into ammonia which feeds algae. You should be able to look into your tank and see around the base of plants easily. For some this is going to be hard work but keeping a clean tank is very important if you want success.
In conclusion, this combination of increased CO2 (pressurised and liquid), decreased lighting intensity and duration and increasing your water changes is the way to get rid of your hair algae. Not only that, your plants will begin to respond more positively too – the extra carbon you’re adding will be enormously beneficial to them and they will grow quicker, thicker and a lot more healthily. Lastly, finish off any last strands of algae with an old toothbrush. Twirling it round the algae and twisting as you go will help to remove any lasts stubborn strands. Masterclass over!
Here’s part 1 of 2 blog posts on it. Second part will be updated tomorrow.
Frustrating algae or what?! I think so…
It’s annoying right? Gets everywhere, looks horrible and grows so darn fast. I’ve written about this in my blog numerous times and spoken to countless customers about it. I know how much it can spoil an aquascape but more importantly I know how to fix it.
In order to fix anything, we need to know more about it. We need to know how it’s created, what can cause it and ultimately how to get rid of it. It’s worth mentioning that 95% of all algae is CO2 related. That’s right, you can fix most plant issues in the aquarium if you get your CO2 levels correct and this is something I have been banging out about for ages and you will hear me beating the drum again and again until it sticks. For those of you who are yet to invest in a CO2 system, now is your chance – if you want to deal with your algae head on and make your tank look spectacular you need pressurised CO2. Baring in mind that most algae is CO2 related you can see why having a pressurised set would be useful right? Good. And if you are already using CO2, you’re probably not using enough and your lighting is either too strong or on for too long. I hear lots of people ‘self diagnose’ and say it’s excess nutrients – this is a load of poppycock. Excess nutrients DO NOT cause algae. Lack or unstable CO2 levels, poor water movement, insufficient fertilisers, excess lighting and a lack of water changes do.
So now you know excess nutrients do not cause algae – this I can be sure about. I have loads of nitrates and phosphates in my planted aquarium and I never have hair algae unless something happens to my CO2 levels. With that in mind you need to crank up yours (without killing your fish) and use a drop checker with bromo blue to monitor levels. If you’re not sure about drop checkers, have a look on our website and you will see the different types available. In a nutshell drop checkers all work in the same manner and monitor your CO2 levels. The solution within the drop checker starts at blue and then changes to green if you have the right amount of CO2 or yellow if you have too much. All you need to do is adjust your CO2 flow rate according to the colour change of your drop checker – it’s as simple as that. Get your CO2 right and algae issues are generally a thing on the past – get it wrong and you know the rest. But there are a few other tips I want to share with you:
(end of part 1 of blog post – second post made tomorrow!)
I can almost guarantee that you will have probably seen this at some point in your aquarium. It’s a frustrating algae because it looks awful and can be hard to get rid of. But don’t panic, as I can solve your situation. PHEW! *wipes brow*
Let me first sort out an old wives tale and set some of you straight:
It has nothing to do with excess nitrates or phosphates
Now I’d like to quote some text from UKAPS which is an excellent forum for those who do not know. Clive, who writes a lot on there has a real knack for words and I just love what he wrote:
Hair algae has absolutely nothing to do with high NO3 or high PO4. Hair algae is strictly associated with poor CO2. My tanks always have super high NO3 and PO4 and they never get hair algae – until something goes wrong with my CO2.
Just because you are adding CO2 it does not mean that you are adding enough. Do not fall off the wagon. Do not look for other reasons. Only try to realize the truth. Moss is a low light plant, so when you pummel it with high light it suffers more than other plants if the CO2 is not excellent. Therefore the moss is telling you that it is suffering too much light and not enough CO2. You think your CO2 is good but your moss disagrees. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what you think, it only matters what your moss thinks.
Step number 1 is to reduce you lighting intensity significantly by 50% if possible. This will reduce the environmental pressures on the moss.
You also need to increase your CO2 levels without killing your fish. If this cannot be accomplished by gas injection rate increase then you need to add more liquid carbon and this has to be done daily, not once or twice a week. The liquid carbon is hostile to CO2 related algae and at the same time it delivers CO2 to the plant. You can use the bottle recommended daily dosage or you can multiply that by 2X or 3X assuming that you don’t have plants that respond poorly to liquid carbon such as Riccia or liverworts/bladderworts or assuming that you don’t have fauna that are sensitive to liquid carbon such as some shrimp.
Increase you number of water changes per week for a few weeks if this is possible.
As you lower the growth demand via reduction of the light intensity, and at the same time improve the available CO2, you’ll find that the mosses and other plants will respond positively and will grow faster. The hair algae will subside. Use a toothbrush in a spiral motion to remove as much of the hair as you can.
This advice is soooo good and so honest. Let me know what you think. Have you suffered from hair algae or maybe you are suffering right now from it. Either way, let me know!
Algae is a pain, we all know this and we all try and deal with it in a variety of ways. Some people try and starve algae, others physically remove it. The real answer is to ensure you have good CO2 levels, good nutrients and good water movement. But we also know this is easier said than done.
However, sometimes the balance in a planted aquarium is changed or upset and algae grows. This is both unsightly and frustrating and whilst a quick fix is not the answer (you have to get to the root of the problem), sometimes it needs to be done. Introducing Easy Life AlgExit. I’ve not seen anything on the market before quite like it and it’s made by Easy Life who already have a fantastic range of fertilisers that are very effective. AlgExit eradicates:
BBA (black beard algae)
It’s quite an impressive line up I think you’ll agree!! I’m sure everyone of you out there have struggled with one of the above algae at some time, and I bet you would have found a bottle of AlgExit rather handy, even if it was using it for occasionally 😉