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Major Issues with Tank - Algae Take over

Discussion in 'Algae' started by craig20102010, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. craig20102010

    craig20102010 Aspiring Aquascaper

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    hi,

    Im new to the forum and new to aqua-scaping altogether.

    After reading many articles on aqua-scaping tanks i came to the conclusion that you needed a higher light source for smaller tanks to produce the same light intensity as a larger tank. It would appear that this now may not be true :(?

    current setup is:

    45 litre Tank
    2 x 24watt PL-L lamps (one sunlight, one pink) on for 8 hours (been cut back today to 6 hours)
    pressurised CO2 using atomizer (not currently working, awaiting decent non-return valve) so im using an Co2 bubble ladder instead with a drop checker. Running same time as lights.
    substrate: JBL Manado on top of JBL Aquabasis plus
    Filter: 200 L/H canister Filter on a spray bar
    Dosing EI ferts 3x week Micro and 3x week Macro
    15 fish in total: 10 neon tetra 1x female guppy, 3 flying fox, 1 ram.

    Ammonia: 0 ppm Nitrite: 0ppm Nitrate: 5ppm (currently dosing Nitrate other wise it ends up as 0 ppm)
    KH: 14 GH 21 PH 7.0

    Problem iv got is green water which iv now had for couple of months and also a hair type algae that looks like staghorn but im unsure if it is or not. It pulls off the plants really easily but isnt slimy and more like a string but it grows very fast and can cover the entire tank in a week. :(

    i need serious help with this its just running out of control and ruining the hobby. Is my light too powerful which is what is causing the problem or is my filtration not adequate?

    thanks in advanced! Hope someone can help!
     

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  2. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Craig,

    Sorry to hear about your troubles. Thank you for providing the detailed info on your setup and equipment. It is very helpful in trying to figure out what could be going on.

    In short, it is your light levels. Light levels needed are proportionate to the tank size and volume, bigger tank means you need more light. Your tank is roughly 12 gallons of which you are running about 48 watts of light. That is quite a lot for your tank. For example, I am currently using 24 watts of T5 on a tank of 20 gallons.

    Green water is a clear sign of too much light for too long.

    Did the algae show up before your troubles with the CO2 or after? A bubble ladder is pretty much a joke when it comes to diffusing/dissolving CO2.

    You most likely have green hair algae as well. Very tough to get rid of. Lets start with the green water, if you have access to a UV filter running that for several days to a week should clear it up. If not a blackout of 48 hours with a large water change before and after can combat it. After your blackout (no light and the tank is covered so no ambient light enters) you should make some changes, primarily cutting your light to only one of those bulbs. CO2 should come on one hour before the lights to ensure it is at an adequate level. Secondly, very important you improve the efficiency of your CO2 system. Get that atomizer up and running! :whistle:

    The hair algae you will have to diligently remove every time it rears its ugly head. Do you keep shrimp? If you do not keep shrimp you could use API algaefix to fight the hair algae. It will kill inverts, however. Follow the directions on the label.

    Recommended reading: James Planted Tank: Algae Guide

    http://www.aquascapingworld.com/threads/if-you-are-new-to-planted-tanks-you-should-read-this.5025/


    Good luck and remember that no one enters this hobby trouble free. These hiccups or disasters teach you things and move you closer to an aquascape/planted tank you can be proud of. Keep at it. Both of my new tanks recently have had bouts with algae, it will happen. I plan to share how I dealt with them once I get the journals going.
     
  3. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Craig
    Welcome to the world of setting up a new aquascaped tank.

    All the information you have provided will help you to solve your concerns a lot faster now.

    Lighting can be a night mare these days as there are several types that can be used providing you use the correct light for your tank, remembering every tank is different.

    Your inhabitants "Could" be a concern as you seem to have fish that prefer different water conditions.

    When the FM guppy has her fry and they start breeding you could be over loaded very quickly.

    I suggest you run this program it will help you.

    http://www.aqadvisor.com/

    Keith:):)
     
  4. craig20102010

    craig20102010 Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Hi thanks for that info.

    Iv managed to get the atomizer up and running. At the moment its only producing 1Bubble per 2 seconds so that needs turning up a bit plus the solenoid isnt turning it off altogether which is annoying but easily sorted i should think. What is going in is being dissolved near enough 100% as im using a second filter as a power head to blast water at it. Sadly i cant really see if my drop checker is yellow or green yet so i dont really want to increase the rate just yet.

    i do have hair algae but i think its Cladophora, Blanket Weed :( if thats what it is in the tank its really annoying! the green water really got bad when i decided to chop away the foreground plants as i thought it was cloudy due to all the poo being trapped under the leaves of them so disturbing the substrate as certainly made it worse.

    I will try a black out for 2 days starting from tonight and hopefully ill be able to see my tank after that. What about dosing ferts etc? should i just leave that for the two days along with Co2?

    i have shrimp in there but iv only seen one cherry since i put the three in :( so i fear the others may be lost or hiding very well.

    If i only have one 24watt bulb will this be enough to grow Cuba and Rotala wallichii as i love both of these plants!?

    How do people manage to keep small nano tanks when there running 5wpg? iv seen a few on galleries and there running something like 3x 18watt CF lights but the tanks only 10gallons and there tanks are clean as a whistle. :S

    i forgot to mention i only have that guppy in there to stop her breeding with my other guppies at my other address otherwise i have fry everywhere!
    Cheers Craig
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
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  5. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Craig,

    With the blackout you can discontinue the ferts and the CO2.

    When your solenoid turns off the pressure still in the line can cause some bubbles to squeeze through, so if the CO2 doesn't shut off right away I wouldn't worry too much about it.

    Good CO2 supply is the key to getting a lot of plants to grow. Considering you are knew it is best not to start with your foot all the way down on the accelerator, light controls the speed of things. The algae has shown you it is too much. Also, remember not all light is equal. 24 watts of CF is not equal to 24 watts of PL which is not equal to 24 watts of T5 which is not equal to 24 watts of LED. CF<PL<T5<LED

    Don't let the galleries fool you. When having struggles its best to slow everything down. You should be able to grow those plants with adequate CO2.

    Drop checkers when combined with atomizers can give false high readings since CO2 gas directly enters the chamber. Also remember that drop checkers have about an hour lag time in their reading. You will want a green to light green reading the moment your lights come on.
     
  6. craig20102010

    craig20102010 Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Hi Shawn,

    Thanks for that. So LED is the most powerful in the light spectrum for plants? because i remember reading up that LED weren't that good for planted tanks.

    I will certainly order my self a new ballast tonight and re wire that up so that i can run just the one 24w PL-L lamp and hopefully i can still grow Cuba and Rotala wallichii since the tropica website says it needs >1 watt per litre [​IMG]. At the moment the ballast i wired up is only designed to work with them both connected at the same time. Shame really :(. I was looking at swapping them to a twin 18w incase 1x 24w wasnt going to be powerful enough to grow the plants i have.

    My Co2 drop checker is at the oppersite side of the tank to the atomizer and the power head is on the same side as the drop checker so sort of forcing the bubbles away from the drop checker in order to stop that happening as easily.

    The information you've given me though is very helpful and i will certainly make a start on reducing the lighting! :)

    Cheers Craig
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
  7. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    I can tell you've definitely thought things out and have a good analytical mind that will certainly help you.

    Suggested reading: http://www.tropica.com/en/tropica-abc/basic-knowledge/co2-and-light.aspx

    I looked and indeed tropica recommends those levels. Common convention is a watt per liter or watt per gallon rule of thumb, however many in the hobby will tell you that is not best practice and a simple guideline.

    LEDs have a lot of variation. Some LEDs of the same wattage may not have the same PAR output, so it is always hard to say with them at the moment. In most cases you need less wattage of an LED to get the same growth as a higher wattage fluorescent tube. The tank in my avatar picture was grown under LEDs.

    You could do a twin 18watt and see how that goes. Sounds like you have a fair amount of flow, however beware too much surface agitation. You want a gentle rolling ripple otherwise you could gas off a lot of CO2.

    Do you have photos or video of your setup?
     
  8. craig20102010

    craig20102010 Aspiring Aquascaper

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    At the moment i have a fair amount of flow but i dont plan or want to keep that internal filter in there. I keep putting it in and taking it out all the time when the water clears etc. The water how ever has never been crystal which is very annoying.

    Even with the second internal filter in theres no surface agitation its only the lowest amount of flow it can be set too.

    Do you think ill have enough flow when i cut it back to the 200 l/h external pump? or would i better off having a small internal with a higher l/h? i got the external to increase room.

    Here are a couple of photos of my current setup

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    How it started!! I wish it looked as crystal as that again!


    [​IMG] Algae Problem 1- not sure which algae this is but i think its Cladophora, Blanket Weed because of how it feels
    [​IMG] This is the Co2 diffuser i now have setup on the tank. Its directly under the spray bar which isnt really that powerful :(
    [​IMG] Co2 Drop checker and Co2 non return valve with Co2 tubing and a needle valve.
    [​IMG] Co2 Fire extinguisher and regulator with solenoid and needle valve.
    [​IMG] Green Water problem, This is the worse its been. No foreground plants (pogostemon helferi)
    [​IMG] The custom light setup that i wired up into the tank. Complete with cooling fan to keep the top of the tank lid cool.
    [​IMG] The cleanest its been since iv had it setup. You can see in this one the plants go right up to the front on the bottom. This has now changed now so that there are hardly any foreground plants
    [​IMG] This is the tank with the foreground plants removed but green water starting to develop.

    I hope these photos help.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
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  9. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Great! thanks for the photos. Really helpful.

    Probably cladophora, you are right. Comes up in clumps, right?

    In picture 3 I see the bubble ladder, is that shortly after putting it in? How long had the tank been up and running at that point. The growth on the R. wallachi looks good. You are getting some nice colors under the higher light, but no growth troubles. Had your custom DIY light (nicely done BTW) been running from the star? when was that added?

    I think most of your troubles are related to CO2 supply. We know you have adequate light but in the final picture you can see some plants stretching, long spaces between leaf nodes, you also get the algae bloom. In some others we also see the tips of the stems stunting, a good indication of CO2 shortage. The first photo has stunting too and looks like that is prior to pressurized CO2.

    IMO, you may want to keep the light levels and focus on CO2. I think your green water was a result of playing in the substrate. Did you do a water change afterwards? Always a good idea to change the water after messing in the substrate. A blackout and followed by some reduced lighting (may just cut it to 4 or 6 hours so you don't have to rewire) as you pick out the algae. Tooth brush is good for picking out clado and other hair algae.

    For flow you are looking for broad flow of about 10x tank volume l/h. Instead of a second filter you could look at adding a surface skimmer like an eheim skim 350. I've found good surface skimming and a clear scum free surface allows you to increase CO2 injection. With surface skimming you could bring your drop checker to yellow. A word of caution however, only increase CO2 when you are home to observe throughout the lighting period in case you get too much.

    Once you feel you have a handle on it you can go to 8 hours of light.
     
  10. craig20102010

    craig20102010 Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Right where to start lol!

    The Algae i have does come up in clumps and sort of attaches its self to the plants and and just hangs on. Easily removed though doesnt even stick to the plants its sort of just hangs off them but it doesnt half grow back fast. Heres a picture of it at its worseRR

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for the comment on the lighting :). The lighting has been setup right from the start as this was my plan the whole time to have a high light tank. unfortunately the pictures are a progression with a bit of going backwards and forwards between Co2 systems and diffusers etc :(. Ill try clear up where i can.

    So the first picture was how it started out. I had a bristle nose plec in there at the time and due to no decent caves etc he destroyed the substrate totally digging it up to a complete mess so that the soil was then lying on the top rather then on the bottom where i left it. He's out now and moved onto a bigger tank with a friend with other BN of opposite sex.

    Them plants came from a low lighting tank at home and were clearly struggling a bit due to no nutrients or substrate or Co2.

    Second picture shows the plants taking hold and i bought some new ones like the R. wallachi and the colours on it were fantastic when i first got it as you can tell. At this point i was still playing around with Co2 and i bought a drop checker and stuck it in and was using DIY yeast mix. I was finding that the drop checker was going a healthy green and sometimes yellow with the ladder hence going backwards to the ladder again from a ceramic glass disc.

    Third picture shows the plants taking hold and the R. wallachi was starting to grow new green shoots from the very bottom of the substrate which i was massively pleased about but i had the problem with the cladophora from this point and it was starting to grow. I was only dosing JBL ferropol 24 at this point though at the rate of 1 drop per 50 liters as instructed. After doing several tests on the water i could never get my nitrates to be above 0 ppm. So thinking the nitrate test kit was past its sell by date i bought a new one to find the same results. So the plants were soaking up all of the nitrates every day (the water in the tap only has 5ppm) Hence the conclusion of cladophora i think.

    I then changed my dosing to then EI dosing from Aquarium Plant food and was massively impressed with that so thats what im doing now and the results are amazing with it. Nitrate ends up been around 40ppm by the end of the week when a 50% water change is due so its perfect as the nitrates sit around 10-20ppm. Im in no doubt that the plants have around an uptake of around 5-10ppm a day due to the lights.

    The whole time iv been playing with different Co2 levels as in i didnt ave a solenoid and also going back and forth from some weekends with no Co2 and during the week low Co2. Untill now iv got my Fire extinguisher set up and all working and its now running into a Atomizer which im still trying to fine tune (little hard to see drop checker) i could do with a drop checker that has a white back ground behind it to make it a bit easier really to tell the colour. Im still to this day trying to get my Co2 levels to the right amount. I know if i stick the ladder in with a Co2 yeast Mix i will get a healthy green if not yellow colour though. So it is possible. Im just trying not to waste the Co2.

    In Picture 10 and 11 the cladophora nearly wiped out my R. Wallachi :( luckily i kept up with the EI dosing and iv noticed new Pink shoots coming off the old stems which had gone a horrible brown colour so i think i may of saved it.

    All the plants Pearl like crazy when the lights are on so they are growing as fast as they possibly could and im sure that iv got a nice over dose of ferts in there so maybe just Co2.

    I dont think i did do a water change after i done all the snipping :( i think i done it before then decided i wanted to cut it all back :S i cant remember it was literally Friday when i did that. I then went away for the weekend and came back Tuesday to a tank of green!!! lol!

    I was sort of aware my little external 200 l/h wasnt up to the job :( so i went out and bought a Fluval 106 external but it was too big to fit the pipes into the back of the tank and just a clumsy filter setup over all :( i would of loved to of been running that. I would need to buy some sort of thinner pipes with adapters to make it work or at least more flexible. Unless you know of a better filtering system?

    With the Internal in there (380 l/h on full) and my External (200 l/h) i will have 580 l/h which is roughly 12x the flow but i really didnt want to have to keep an internal in there if im honest :(. Im stuck ill have a look at these skimmers and see what the deal is with them. I thought they were only for salt Aquariums and iv never really seen what there all about so ill be looking at that tonight.

    Iv reduced lighting down to 6 hours a day now but there off for another 24 hours while im doing the black out.

    Very pleased that you've said that it may just be Co2 thats the problem but just incase iv ordered a 18-24w single ballast so i can wire the single 24w up or buy a second ballast (as there small) and run twin 18watts in a similar way to how iv wired the current.

    How will i know if i have too much Co2 if im bringing it to yellow? i thought yellow was the final stage of the Co2 drop checker as in it doesnt change to any other colour after yellow?

    Could you just briefly explain stunting? Is it when the stems grow long with no leaves in between im guessing?

    Thanks a bunch for this im Looking forward to this maybe working :S..
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  11. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Craig, I think you are on the right track and have been coming to the right conclusions. CO2 is tough to get right and had been a sticking point for me as a beginner.

    Drop checkers are good for finding the ballpark, after that you use plant growth and fish behavior to fine tune. If your fish look stressed, hide during the photoperiod, or gasp at the surface you have too much CO2. If your plants stunt and have poor growth a lot of times that is CO2. Since you are dosing EI you shouldn't have any nutrient deficiencies leaving CO2 as your limiting factor.

    Unfortunately the hair algae is a real PITA. I honestly don't know of anyone who has eradicated it once getting it. The trick is to physically remove it every chance you get. API algaefix can take care of it, but will kill your shrimp. If you have a separate tank or temporary holding area for your shrimp you can remove them and dose API. I dosed algaefix on my 30c when I got a bloom of algae prior to putting shrimp in. I also did a blackout and some serious cleaning of it with a toothbrush and 10 mm hose to suction out things I couldn't pull out. I filtered with some carbon after a big water change to make sure all the algaefix was gone. Shrimp are doing just fine. You could use that process with the algaefix, you still have to be vigilant about removing the hair algae and to be safe I would filter with carbon when finished with the dosing regiment. The GDA on the sides is tough to combat but usually just sticks to glass and is easily wiped off with each water change. It comes with higher light, in my experience.

    CO2 could get you sorted, I think. good plant growth will keep things at a minimum. Problem is the hair algae is so plant like it does well when plants do well. Things like BBA, GSA, and BGA tend to not do as well.
     
  12. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh and that picture isn't clado, I don't think. Or at least the typical clado I think of.
     
  13. craig20102010

    craig20102010 Aspiring Aquascaper

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    hmm well thats typically what i have throughout the tank algae wise its either Clado or Rhizoclonium. Only thing is "james planted tank Alage" site describes Rhizo as slimy. This stuff isnt really slimy i wouldnt say. Its rather string like and tears away like string as well and almost feels like a cotton when you get it out the tank.

    I think i only have one shrimp left although i wouldnt know as i hardly ever see her either! I do have another tank as a medicine tank that i could use to keep the shrimp in for the time being if i can find them!
     
  14. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Craig

    Algae is sorry I cannot use the words for it.

    First you have to find the cause then fix that first, if not after you remove it all it will still keep coming back.

    If you decide to use a quality Algae killer I would remove all the inhabitants first as there is a chance it might effect the fish.

    With the Shrimp with that ram and one FM guppy I would be very surprised if it was still in your tank.

    I have never used any algae remover and I can not help you there all I know some work better than others.

    Keith:):)
     
  15. craig20102010

    craig20102010 Aspiring Aquascaper

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    update on the tank:

    On removing the towels and what ever else i had over it to try stop light i wasnt that impressed.. But i carried on anyway and done a 50% water change.

    The results:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    so it would appear it has made a difference :). Its not crystal still but its certainly a whole heap better. Admittedly i think it looks a bit of a mess at the moment and i certainly need to sort out the plants in there to fewer varieties i think. Maybe remove all the Crypts i have at the front and the pogostemon helferi.

    What do i do next? do i leave the lights off for the next day and cover it again or do i resume lighting but now with it switched to just 4 hours of lighting?

    iv cleaned the drop checker with some bleach and rinsed it thoroughly and its come up like a dream so i can clearly see a blue shade on it now. I should be free from 12 onwards tomorrow to mess around with Co2 levels also.

    Picture of the algae iv removed from the tank thats also plaguing me. Tried to get the best close up as possible and spread it out a bit to try ident it:

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for the advise Keith. Iv still got at least one Cherry shrimp that i can see she has been hanging around while i was doing the water change etc.

    Cheers for all the help so far.
     
  16. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Craig

    Before you do another block out and water change.

    I would take out every piece of hard-scape you can and scrub it clean, even the heater and the filter which I would also give it a complete cleaning inside and out.

    The outlet looks like it could do with a good cleaning as well.

    If you see any algae on the leaves I would cut those leaves off.

    Finally clean the glass.

    By doing all of the above it should certainly help.

    Keith:):)
     
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  17. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    I absolutely agree with Keith, a serious very thorough cleaning will help. The algae you have is a variant of hair algae, to ID it further isn't of use to us anyways.

    A series of blackouts can improve things. After 2 days, do another 2 day blackout. 6 hours of light is minimum for it to do much good to your plants, as they need to ramp up a little. Things would be easier to get a hold of with less light. My 30c has a high powered light over it and I cannot reduce it, so I actually have gone through a similar process with it as you are now. I had BGA bad as well as some nasty filamentous diatoms. Things are on track now after a big cleaning and a series of blackouts. The other thing that really helps is getting the plants to settle in and grow well, so you will need to be sure your CO2 is sorted. Adjust daily over the weekend, little bits each day. With your light levels you are going to want a yellow green. I've found surface skimming helps critters deal with higher CO2 levels. You can use the pH, KH, CO2 table to estimate your CO2 if you have a pH and KH test kit.

    [​IMG]

    You want to shoot for 25 mg/L to 60 mg/L. You most likely want to be on that higher end with the higher light. Some folks have gone as high as 80 mg/L.
     

    Attached Files:

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  18. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    I would test at the time lights come on, half way into the photo period, and again at lights off.
     
  19. craig20102010

    craig20102010 Aspiring Aquascaper

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    After day one i increased the atomizer to around 2 bps on my bubble counter and by the 13:00 it was running around a yellow/lime green

    [​IMG]

    The Ram and the guppy were gasping for air near the top of the tank so i was thinking maybe this was a bit too much Co2.

    I used the little chart above and i could only record from 13:00 onwards to 16:00 (lights out). Both readings came back with around KH 15 and PH 6.8 which puts it at 70mg/l according to the chart which would confirm why the fish were gasping a bit.

    iv adjusted the timings this time for the Co2 rather then slowing the rate down. I know at this rate i can achieve a yellow drop checker at least.

    Co2 was turning on at around 7:30 in the morning and lights came on at 10:00.

    Adjusted now so that the Co2 comes on at 9:00 and lights come on at 10:00 and Co2 off at 15:00 and lights off at 16:00 this should allow the drop checker to be more of a light green rather then yellow. Ill do a test of the water tomorrow as well in the morning and afternoon to see how the Co2 adds up.

    Done a little more cleaning inside the tank as well. Removing more hair algae where i could see while lights were on.
     
  20. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like a good plan, Craig. The timing you are at now is fairly typical of most setups. Hopefully that will work. Fighting algae takes time. I always remind myself that bad things happen quickly in a tank and good things slowly.
     

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