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HELP! Small White particles on Plants and Decorations

kowy3

New Member
Joined
9 Jan 2022
Messages
3
Location
Scotland
Good morning,

Thank you for reading my post, I am a new member in need of help as I start losing interest in the hobby because of an issue I can't seem to get rid of.

I have a 60L (~13 gal) planted tank with a low bio load. The tank is around 8 months old and fully cycled.
However, in the first 5-6 months, it was not heavily planted. I had a few fast and slow growing plants, but nothing crazy. I started to have algae issues, which I tried to resolve with lowering the intensity of the light and shortening the light period from 10 to 8 hours a day. That did not help at all, in fact just made the algae issue worse.

In the last 2 months, I decided to get more plants and plant more heavily in hope of solving the algae issue. I bought mostly fast growing plants to soak up nutrients in the water column, hence starving the algae. I also invested in a pressurized CO2 system, injecting 1 bubble per second during the light period (that seems to keep the CO2 levels stable and the fluid usually nice and green) and increased the light intensity back where it was. I also started adding in more TNC Complete and TNC Trace fertilizer. The plants loved it, especially the fast growers. I thought that's it, the problem will be solved from now.

Well, not exactly. While I am getting less algae now, it is still more than ideal. Plant leaves are still getting covered in algae, but that's probably because the tank is not perfectly balanced, I can try fertilize less or lower light intensity etc...

What I can't really solve is the small white particles that seem to cover everything in my fish tank. It is more visible after water change and then it gets a bit less visible, but never disappears completely. At this point, this issue bothers me more than the algae, although these white particles seem to be more visible where algae is present as well. I have no idea what it is and how to solve the issue. I have never had this in the first 5-6 months while it wasn't planted heavily. It became so bad, I had to cut all my stem plants back to almost gravel level as they were white all the way to the top... I am hopeless and disappointed.

I took photos of how it looks, please check link below.
4 new items by Gergő Kovács

Please, if you have any suggestions on what it is and how to get rid of this let me know. Thank you in advance.
Sorry for the long post.

Best regards.
 

Hufsa

Member
Joined
22 Aug 2019
Messages
1,453
Location
Norway
Hi and welcome to UKAPS!
Im just gonna answer some things in the order you wrote them if thats okay.
It would also be very helpful for us if you can post in this thread all the information outlined in this post

You cant really starve algae in the way you think. To grow, algae require only nutrients in amounts of ppb (parts per billion), while plants require nutrients in ppm (parts per million). Meaning, algae require an order of magnitude LESS nutrients to grow than plants do. Therefore if you try to starve algae, your plants will starve and die way before you even get close to affecting the algae.
The best way to fight algae is to focus on growing really healthy plants. We dont know exactly why, but this is the best way to do it.
Algae are predatory in a way, and will attack the leaves of plants who are not in good health. When you have algae on hardscape as well, it points towards fairly large issues in your system, likely with CO2, lighting, or both.

CO2 will make your plants grow easier, but it is THE single hardest thing to get right in a planted tank. Never assume your CO2 is good. Have you performed a ph profile to see if your levels are stable throughout the photoperiod? If not you should be able to find info on how to do this on the forum, or likely one of our experienced CO2 users can help you with that when they see this thread.

I think all the little white particles you are seeing are tiny oxygen bubbles produced by the photosynthesis of your algae. Do the white particles disappear for a while if you rub the surface gently?
 

kowy3

New Member
Thread starter
Joined
9 Jan 2022
Messages
3
Location
Scotland
Thank you for your reply.

I see, I did some research on plant health, but I find it very difficult to get everything right.
I haven't carried out a pH profile, but will look into it to see if it's stable.

If I rub anything gently with the white particles on, nothing really happens. I need to run quite firmly for the particles to "disappear", but they are almost like hard particles that do not dissolve. That would explain why the issue gets more visible after water change, because the water, substrate gets disturbed. I just can't figure out what these particles are. My girlfriend has a pea puffer tank and she uses the exact same dechlorinated tap water and fertilizers. While she is getting algae issues, she doesn't have the white particles at least.

Please find additional information on my fish tank:
1. Size of tank in litres: 60L
2. Age of the setup: 8 months (started injecting CO2 two months ago)
3. Filtration: Small Internal filter with moderate flow, Sponge and Carbon
4. Lighting and duration.: NICREW SlimLED Full Spectrum on 80% intensity, 10 Hour duration
5. Substrate.: Tetra Active Substrate and various Aquarium gravel. White Sand as foreground.
6. Co2 dosing or Non-dosing.: Dosing CO2, ~1 bubble/sec.
7. Fertilizers used + Ratios.: TNC Complete + Trace. 1,5ml per day
8. Water change regime and type.: 50% once a week.
9. Plant list + When planted.: Sorry I do not know names, got lots of fast growing stem plants, 2x Anubius petite, some java moss and a small sword plant.
10. Inhabitants.: 6 endler guppies and 4 corydoras.
 

GHNelson

Global Moderator
UKAPS Team
Joined
14 Dec 2008
Messages
5,546
Location
Hemel Hempstead
Hi
My Plan of action would be!
Remove the Carbon it probably has been exhausted.
Plus it will remove some of the fertilizers!
The carbon might be spewing out those particles
Clean the filter and sponge thoroughly.

The filter may not have the capacity to filter a 60 litre aquarium!
Your looking for a turn over of about 10 times the volume....500/600 litre per hour.

What filter make/model?
hoggie
 

kowy3

New Member
Thread starter
Joined
9 Jan 2022
Messages
3
Location
Scotland
That's a good call. I will remove the carbon and see if that helps.
The filter is a NICREW Internal Filter, which is rated for 380L/hour.
It might seem weak, but to be honest it circulates quite a bit of water.

I had a stronger filter at the start, but I replaced it with this because that was generating too much water flow. It was blowing plants and fish all over the place.
 

Andy Pierce

Member
Joined
27 Nov 2020
Messages
291
Location
Cambridge, UK
The white particles look like staghorn algae to me, especially in the last picture. Bubbles per second is not a very reliable measure, but I'm guessing 1 BPS is not enough CO2. Can you please take a picture of your drop checker and post that? Agree to get rid of the carbon - that's not going to help you. Flow is almost for sure insufficient. I'd invest in a powerhead and really get the water moving. "Blowing plants and fish all over the place" is kind of what you want... you should see some movement in all plants in all parts of the tank.
 

tronalon

Seedling
Joined
8 Jul 2022
Messages
1
Location
Elgin, Scotland
Apologies as I cannot see the photos for some reason.

Are the hard white particles about the size of sesame seed? If so, do you have Nerite Snails? I was totally bemused with my tank until I found out those white dots were Nerite snail eggs. Totally harmless and won’t mature but solves a mystery at least.
 
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