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I need help with algae infestation!

Badmans Tropical Fish Message Center: General message area: I need help with alge infestation!


Thursday, March 07, 2002 - 09:29 am
I have a 29 gallon freshwater tank. I have had a major problem in the last few months with an alge that has taken over my gravel. I dont know what it is called but it is dark green and hairy looking. I try removing it by taking out the top layer of gravel, but a couple of days later it is back. I feed my fish twice a day (morning and night) and I have a standard carbon filter and a H.O.T filter. I have mostly Guppies and a couple of little catfish. I do leave the light on for about 12 hrs. each day, but I have always kept it on for that long and never had this problem. Should I try using my UV filter? Please help! Thanks alot.



Thursday, March 07, 2002 - 01:29 pm
Sounds like a type of algae called Beard Algae (or sometimes its called hair algae, but there are several types of "hair" algae).

There are very few fish that will eat this, so if you want to buy a fish to eat this algae, try a Siamese or Siamensis algae eater (NOT a Chinese algae eater...if your LFS is a biggger pet store with no real fish gurus that work there, they'll probably think you mean a Chinese algae eater..or at least that has been my experience), algae eating shrimp, or a Red Bruno Pleco. If you happen to run across a fish called a gara pingi pingi, these do an acceptional job as well. The Red Bruno pleco is one of the only plecos I've seen eat the stuff, but take my word from personal experience, these go after the stuff like crazy. Whenever we get a shipment of them in at work, we move any beard algae covered decorations in their tank, and usually after a day or two, they're clean of beard algae.

As far as preventing this algae or stopping it from growing, I would probably cut back feeding to once a day or even once every other day. Make sure all the food you put in the tank is being eaten. There shouldn't be any food hitting the bottom except maybe some pellets for the catfish. If your filter provides a strong current, turn it down or even off during feeding so it doesn't "throw" the food all over the place.
If you don't have pellets for the catfish, I would get some so you don't have to rely on the catfish finding flake food that falls to the bottom.
Duration of light is ok, but if you're getting a sunlight from windows, try blocking it to cut down the amount of light the tank gets.
A UV filter won't help, because this algae isn't waterborne, a UV filter can only work successfully if whatever it is you're trying to kill can pass through it...I suppose you could get a big UV sterilizer like they're now using at some of the main post offices, but you'd probably kill your fish too.

The main thing to reduce and eliminate the algae from growing is to eliminate its source of "food," which is generally nitrates in the water that generally comes from food (eaten or uneaten) and fish wastes. If you haven't done a water change in a while, do one, but never take more than 50% out. Its really better to do several smaller changes than one big one, so I would reccommend 10% changes every week, 20% every two weeks, etc...
If you don't have a gravel vac or gravel siphon, buy one, and do a gravel vac when doing your water change. If your gravel is quite dirty, be sure you don't disturb the gravel too much, as you don't want to release a lot (or actually any) of the waste from the gravel into the water. There are many theories as to how a gravel vac should be done. If you do have gravel that is fairly dirty, what I might reccommend is to do a very thorough gravel vac. Start in a corner, put the vac straight down into the gravel, and don't pick it up or move it until the water running up through the gravel is clear (until there's no more waste coming up from the gravel). After the water is running clear, pick up the siphon and move right next door and do the same thing. Stop the gravel vac after you've taken out a certain % of the water in the tank. For instance, if you want to do several water changes over the next few weeks to get the bottom clean, only take maybe two or three gallons out per cleaning. What you want to do is continue the gravel cleaning where you left off the previous cleaning. The theory behind this method is by cleaning the gravel very well, is will be less and less dirty each time around until eventually, you'll probably get the entire bottom or close to it cleaned in one water change. This works quite well if you stick with it.

Also, make sure you keep your filters clean, as they can trap quite a bit of waste as well.

If you're like me, you have questions, so I'll stop here.


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