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Help with Algae and Lack of Plant Growth

Katie656

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23 Jul 2017
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Hi all,

I set up this current tank 4 months ago as a replacement to my Fluval Roma 125 high tech planted tank. I have always struggled a bit with algae, however I have never experienced problems before like I am experiencing now! I am growing every type of algae imaginable including green spot, green dust, stag horn, black beard and diatoms. I know I am having algae problems because my plants aren’t growing, but for the life of me I can’t get the plants to grow. Please help!


Tank: Aqua One OakStyle Urban 230 (245 litres)

Lighting: Nicrew SkyLed Plus + the Fluval Plant 3.0 lights from my old tank at 20% (I only turned the Plant lights on 2 days ago and plant to slowly increase them over the next week or two)

Substrate: sand with plenty of root tabs

Filtration: Fluval 306 external canister (I also have a powerhead to create more flow and push the CO2 bubbles around)

CO2: Injected

Fertilisation: EI dosing with dry ferts purchased from Plant Food U.K. which I make up to their recipe

Water Parameters:

Ammonia 0 ppm

Nitrite 0 ppm

Nitrate between 10 and 25 ppm

PH 6.5

KH 4dH

GH 8dH

Stocking: moderate (1x Angelfish, 7x Dwarf neon Rainbowfish, 2x Harlequin Rasbora, 1x Oto, 1x Cory, 1x Bristlenose Pleco)

Planting: various crypts, Echinodorus, corkscrew Vals, Hygrophila polysperma, Heteranthera zosterifolia, Amazon frog bit, salvinia, and a few more.

Things I have noticed:
-The floating plants and some of the fast growing plants develop holes in their leaves
-Only the plants are affected by diatoms, and it’s mainly the fast growing plants


I am obviously doing something very wrong but I just don’t know what.

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ceg4048

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I am obviously doing something very wrong but I just don’t know what.

Hi,
Your flow/distribution methods are suspect. The first photo shows the spraybars mounted very low and is too far beneath the water's surface. Also, it seems there are two pipes. The one on the left is pointing too far up and I cannot see the holes on the right side pipe. I see a powerhead mounted on the far right side, which is the worst place it could possibly be. The powerhead needs to augment the flow of the spraybars and currently it is doing nothing. I suggest that you re-position the powerhead so that it is directly beneath the spraybars exactly in the middle at that gray colored union is and all holes and pump outlets should be facing towards the front glass.

I cannot see your method of diffusion so it's difficult to determine if adjustments need to be made.

Cheers,
 

Katie656

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Thank you for your reply ceg4048.
All the holes in the spray bar are directed at the water surface towards the back glass. Originally I had them pointing down towards the back to the tank, but I was told I needed more agitation at the water surface.

The powerhead is positioned where it is to move the CO2 around the tank, the diffuser is just in front of it.

I will make the changes you have suggested, and again, thank you.
 

Cd2021

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Hi Katie,

You have the exactly the same tank and issues that i had/ have on my tank. Ceg has been a fantastic help for me and starting to see some great results. I'd certainly recommend having a read of the thread.

Thanks Chris
 

Katie656

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Hi Chris, thank you for directing me to your thread. I’ve just read through the first page, and so far it has been extremely informative. I look forward to reading the rest later this evening.
 
Last edited:

Katie656

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Just an update on what I have done so far.

-The spay bar is now directed at the front glass of the tank
-The powerhead is now situated under the grey connecter of the spay bar, directed at the front glass
-The CO2 diffuser is directly beneath the powerhead so that the bubbles get sucked in and pushed around the tank... hopefully
-I have taken a sample of tank water and am letting it gas out so I can get a actuate pH reading off my tank waters pH
-I have purchased 2 700 LPH pumps to replace my current powerhead and will situate these on the back glass when they arrive. I would like to split the CO2 tubing and have a diffuser under each powerhead. Would a plastic Y splitter work with CO2?
-I have removed the Fluval Plant lights and just have the Nicrew lights running at about 80% for 7 hours.

What I plant to do at the weekend
-Measure my CO2 hourly throughout the day and adjust my CO2 turn on time accordingly

I just want to thank you guys so much. I know overcoming the algae issues is going to be a hard slog, but it’s so nice to have a plan in place. If I can just get these plants growing like the weeds they are meant to be, I’ll know I’m heading in the right direction :)
 

ceg4048

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The CO2 diffuser is directly beneath the powerhead so that the bubbles get sucked in and pushed around the tank... hopefully
Hello Katie,
I suggest that you move the CO2 diffuser to the filter inlet tube so that the bubbles are sucked into the filter,
This accomplishes dissolving of the gas into it's aqueous form. The problem with placing it under the powerhead is that the powerhead is at the top of the tank where the gas will have an easier time escaping out the top of the tank. We really are not interested in bubbles per se. we want to dissolve the gas so that it stays in solution and therefore goes where the water goes. When the gas in in bubbles they are fighting the water. Allowing the gas into the filter allows more travel time for the gas to dissolve.
Sometimes the gas into the filter causes the bubbles to travel to the impeller chamber where you can get some cavitation of the impeller, which we want to avoid, but this should always be the first option if an inline injection option is not available.

Cheers,
 

Katie656

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Unfortunately it appears that an inline diffuser is not an option due to the ribbed hosing of the Fluval 306 filter. I know that others have used different hosing on the filter or somehow connected a diffuser by other means, but I’m a bit reluctant to try this a incase I mess it up and end up with a very wet floor. I am planning on upgrading the filter at some point and will definitely get an inline diffuser then, but for now I’ll just have to make do.

I did have the CO2 diffuser under the filter inlet a long while back for a bit, but moved it for some reason. It maybe because it caused a rattle, or maybe it was because I was concerned about the nitrifying bacteria, I can’t remember. I will move the diffuser back to below the filter inlet tomorrow, see how it goes.

Thanks ceg4048
 

ceg4048

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Unfortunately it appears that an inline diffuser is not an option due to the ribbed hosing of the Fluval 306 filter. I know that others have used different hosing on the filter or somehow connected a diffuser by other means, but I’m a bit reluctant to try this a incase I mess it up and end up with a very wet floor. I am planning on upgrading the filter at some point and will definitely get an inline diffuser then, but for now I’ll just have to make do.

I did have the CO2 diffuser under the filter inlet a long while back for a bit, but moved it for some reason. It maybe because it caused a rattle, or maybe it was because I was concerned about the nitrifying bacteria, I can’t remember. I will move the diffuser back to below the filter inlet tomorrow, see how it goes.
Hi Katie,
A shame about those Fluval filters. I forgot about their unique hose configuration. Well routing the gas bubbles into the intake is the only remaining option. The rattling is definitely annoying and can wear out the impeller blades. There is a way around this, but that involves either modifying the impeller blade tips which allows them to chop the bubbles up easier or by replacing the stock impeller with a different impeller, called a "needle wheel" impeller. There are third party suppliers , but you would have to find one that specifically fits your brand and model. In any case, these are very effective, whether store bought or DIY modified.

The issue of harm to nitrifying bacteria is a red herring and we've discussed this many moons ago in the thread Best and simplest way to inject CO2? so this is not something we need to worry about.

Cheers,
 

Katie656

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Thanks for the reassuring Ceg, re the nitrifying bacteria. I have moved the CO2 diffuser to below the filter intake and all bubbles are been sucked into the filter, it will be interesting to see if this makes a difference to the drop checker.

I am also very pleased with how the new position of the spray bar and the power head is making the plants sway. There appears to be equal movement from both left to right and front to back.

@Driftless, do the Eheim hoses fit well onto Fluval? I am worried about leakages.
 

Katie656

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I did a partial water change today and was able to get a good look at the water exiting my filter. With the whole spray bar the steams of water were only reaching about halfway across the tank. I removed half the spay bar and the water streams were reaching the front glass. I have positioned the 2 pumps on the other side of the tank to ensure there is still plenty of flow on that side too.

I positioned my CO2 diffuser under the filter intake for a few days last week, and it kind of worked well. However there was definitely CO2 building up in the filter, which would come out every few minutes in a kind of filter burp, and bubble up to the surface. Today I have placed the diffuser under one of the pumps to see how it works in comparison. I can always move the diffuser back. I’m sure I’ll have to play around with the positioning of everything a bit.

I tested my gassed out tank water pH earlier in the week and it was around 7.7. Today I checked my pH levels at rough hourly intervals during the day, and it went something like this:
12:15 CO2 switches on
12: 30 6.7
13:30 6.7
14:30 6.4 (tank lights come on)
15:30 6.4
17:00 6.4
18:00 6.3
19:00 6.3
19:30 CO2 switches off
I don’t think this is bad?
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ceg4048

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I tested my gassed out tank water pH earlier in the week and it was around 7.7. Today I checked my pH levels at rough hourly intervals during the day, and it went something like this:
12:15 CO2 switches on
12: 30 6.7
13:30 6.7
14:30 6.4 (tank lights come on)
15:30 6.4
17:00 6.4
18:00 6.3
19:00 6.3
19:30 CO2 switches off
I don’t think this is bad?
Hi Katie,
This is actually quite bad. It should not take 7 hours to drop the pH by 0.4 pH units. Ideally, we want to drop the pH by 1 full unit within about 1 to 2 hours. Was this with the bubbles going into the intake?
When you have the burping this can sometimes be reduced or eliminated by removing some of the filter media which improves the flow rate and helps to diffuse the gas faster.

I removed half the spay bar and the water streams were reaching the front glass.
Yes, again, this is due to less pressure loss along a shorter tube. What you can do is to simply exted the solid tubing inside the tank in order to move the spraybar to the center. From that last photo it still looks like the two powerheads are too far below and that the outlets are still pointing in every direction except straight and level.

Cheers,
 

Katie656

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Thank you for your input cleg, I know there is still a bit of work to be done in regards to the flow. I am already planning on putting some solid tubing at the start of the spray bar so that the water exits at the centre of the tank like you suggest. I can then have a circulation pump either side of the spray bar, and remove those little directional nozzles so the water exits straight forward. The pump on the right is going to be a problem though as it will have to binder the spray bar.

I can certainly try removing some of the media out of the filter, there is plenty in there.

When I did the pH test the diffuser was under the circulation pump, not the filter intake. If I get time at the weekend I will do the test again with the diffuser under the filter inlet. I have only got one day off work this weekend though, but I will do my best.

I thought the 1 degree drop in pH was a 1 degree drop from my gassed out reading (which is 7.7)? My pH was already a degree below this when the CO2 came on and dropped a further 0.4 degrees before the lights came on, at which point it stayed pretty stable. I would be a bit nervous about dropping the pH down any further as the drop checker (which contains CO2 supermarket premixed 4dKH solution) is already lime green.

Although it’s early days, I believe that I am already noticing some plant growth, especially on the Heteranthera zosterifolia, which is excellent.
Thank you for your help so far, it is very much appreciated.
 

Katie656

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I’ve moved the circulation pumps higher and removed the nozzles.
I am doing a long day at work tomorrow but will move the CO2 diffuser under the filter intake when I get home. So that I can monitor things on Wednesday.
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ceg4048

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I thought the 1 degree drop in pH was a 1 degree drop from my gassed out reading (which is 7.7)? My pH was already a degree below this when the CO2 came on and dropped a further 0.4 degrees before the lights came on, at which point it stayed pretty stable. I would be a bit nervous about dropping the pH down any further as the drop checker (which contains CO2 supermarket premixed 4dKH solution) is already lime green.
Hi Katie,
OK, I misunderstood your explanation. If the natural pH of the water is 7.7 then the target pH is 6.7.

Looking at the last photo at the bottom showing the pumps, they are still a bit low, but if it's the best that can be done then that's how it goes. I would try to rotate the pumps 90 degrees so the the bulky head is turned down into the water and which would raise the outlet a few inches. This might not be possible due to the wiring though, and if you are seeing an improvement already then that might be good enough.

Cheers,
 

Katie656

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It’s been a while since I last posted, I apologise. Life gets in the way sometimes.

I have made a few changes since I last posted, hopefully most of them for the better! First I have a new filter, an Aquael Ultramax 2000. I feel this is much better suited to the tank size than my old 306. I also purchased an inline diffuser, which appears to be doing a good job.

I have removed the circulation pumps I purchased, I wasn’t loving them, and have gone back to my old power head which circulates 900 LPH and placed it on the opposite side of my tank to the filter spray bar.

I know Cleg, you are going to tell me my spray bar and powerhead are too far below the surface of the water, but I have been having terrible problems with my floating plants when they are higher. They either are getting pushed right under the water or are gathering up in one area of the tank. Please, tell me if there is a way to overcome this?

The plants do appear to be growing better since my last post, but so does the algae, I fear that most of my plants aren’t salvageable any more. However I don’t want to buy anymore when I know they are going to get covered in algae.

A problem for a long time is the plants developing holes, including the floating ones. Because the floating plants are getting holes I believe it’s more than a CO2 issue. What are others thoughts?
 

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Katie656

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An old photo showing holes in the floaters
 

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ceg4048

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I have made a few changes since I last posted, hopefully most of them for the better! First I have a new filter, an Aquael Ultramax 2000. I feel this is much better suited to the tank size than my old 306. I also purchased an inline diffuser, which appears to be doing a good job.
Hi Katie,
Regarding your floating plants there really is not a good compromise. You either have to optimize your flow distribution for the submerged plants, who are at a disadvantage or you live with the issues below the surface in order to prioritize the floaters. I suppose that if you had very dim lighting then it wouldn't be an issue, but I would remove the floaters temporarily to another tank or container in order to solve the main problem.

The photo shows that the spraybar segments are not centralized. I've fixed this by extending the hose so that the spraybar is shifted over to the center. In fact, if your filter has a much higher throughput then you can add more spraybar segments and that will reduce the force of the jets, which might help the floaters.

Also, looking closely at the spraybar, it appears that some segments are pointed up, others are horizontal and yet others are pointed down. I suggest that you align all the holes to point horizontally. This is a key issue for spraybars. Their effectiveness is greatly reduced when holes are pointed in different directions.

I assume also that you are removing the affected leaves and mechanically removing as much of the algae as you can during your water change? Leaves that are attacked by algae never get better. We have to depend on the new growth coming in to be algae free, assuming we have fixed the problem.

I'm not sure about the holes in the floaters, but sometimes they get water droplets sprayed on them and the droplets act as magnifying glasses in the sun by burning the leaves. If you have a way of restraining the floaters to one of the four corners, perhaps a darker corner then that might help.

Cheers,
 

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