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Too much filtration?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:42 pm
by Miabean
I'm new to the group here so please be nice. I've had aquariums for many years and currently have three setups. My 55 gallon south American tank is driving me crazy. I have brown and green algae and can't seem to figure out why.

There's only 4 SA in there with a few Cory cats and a pleco. This tank has an insane amount of filtration at this point and still the algae persists. Below is the setup. Can you give me some advice on what to do?

Fluval FX4 with black and white diamond media plus Purigen and Phosguard.
Fluval 406 with a massive amount of carbon, ammonia remover, and more phosguard with an inline Turbotwist 18w UV light.

Water temperature is 80 and according to the master test kit, the water is perfect. I don't know what else to do at this point. The room has no sunlight at all.

Re: Too much filtration?

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:43 am
by awanderingmoose
Algae, beyond some limited amount that you can never really avoid, is the result of excess nutrients combined with too much light. Biofiltration will break down ammonias into nitrates, but the nitrates still have to be removed via water change or consumed by plants. If not, algae will fill that role.

When you say "the water is perfect" do you test for nitrates and phosphates? What do you use for light, and how long is it on? Does the tank get sunlight through the windows? Any live plants in the tank? If so, how are they doing?

Not knowing any more than you wrote above, two things I'd suggest trying for some short-term relief are a couple of water changes with reduced feeding between, and shutting off your light for a few days.

Re: Too much filtration?

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:23 am
by Bd79
Do you have any plants in the tank to use any excess nutrients?

Re: Too much filtration?

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:03 am
by Miabean
Thanks for the feedback. According to the test kit, these are the parameters below that I'm seeing. I always test twice to make sure I got an accurate reading. I'm an engineer so anal retentiveness is a lifestyle. There are about 10 Marimo moss balls in there and they are nice and green. The light is a Current USA LED model 4007 48" and is on about 8 hours a day. There is no sunlight in that room. I can try cutting down the food that I give them but they seem to munch it all up before it hits the bottom.

I thought the crazy amount of filtration and the UV light would have kept everything away but something isn't right. I forgot to add that there are also about 10 Nerite snails in there as well.

Ammonia-0 ppm
PH-7.6/7.8
Nitrite-0 ppm
Nitrate- 0 ppm (I've seen 5 ppm 2-3 times) I test every week.
Phosphate- 0 ppm

Re: Too much filtration?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 7:56 am
by nodima
There is something wrong. No way your Nitrates are zero. With that load, I'd expect the Nitrates to build to 40 or so weekly. The API nitrate kit is notorious for settling, it is vital to shake it significantly. It also could just be old too, I've had that give bad results too.

How long has this tank been set up? Brown algae I'm thinking could be diatoms which generally occur in new tanks. But it could also be BBA.

Re: Too much filtration?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:15 am
by Old Newbie
Turn the light off when you are not viewing your fish. The fish don't need the light, it is purely for your benefit. No light equals no algae. And make sure your Nitrate kit is not too old and you are shaking bottle #2 for at least 30 seconds prior to use.

Re: Too much filtration?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 9:29 am
by ironspider
Miabean wrote:Thanks for the feedback. According to the test kit, these are the parameters below that I'm seeing. I always test twice to make sure I got an accurate reading. I'm an engineer so anal retentiveness is a lifestyle. There are about 10 Marimo moss balls in there and they are nice and green. The light is a Current USA LED model 4007 48" and is on about 8 hours a day. There is no sunlight in that room. I can try cutting down the food that I give them but they seem to munch it all up before it hits the bottom.

I thought the crazy amount of filtration and the UV light would have kept everything away but something isn't right. I forgot to add that there are also about 10 Nerite snails in there as well.

Ammonia-0 ppm
PH-7.6/7.8
Nitrite-0 ppm
Nitrate- 0 ppm (I've seen 5 ppm 2-3 times) I test every week.
Phosphate- 0 ppm


I had the same problem, I reduced the amount of light to about 5 hours per day and got a pleco, but I see you have a pleco. But like nodima said, there is no way you are at 0 nitrates. I'm up to at least 40 by my next weekly water change.

Re: Too much filtration?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 3:45 pm
by awanderingmoose
Agree with the other posters, seems like your nitrate reading must be off. Otherwise, there is nothing to fuel the algae.

As it happens, I'm running a smaller version of the same light you have on a heavily planted tank, and despite a high plant load and supplemental Flourish Excel and ferts, I have still had algae issues, which gives an indication as to how powerful that light is. Fortunately there was an easy fix - the light is programmable. Reduce the intensity, and see if that helps. For me, the sweet spot was around 70% or so. Reducing the time on helps too. If you like to have the lights on morning and evening, get a programmable timer that shuts them off for a period mid-day.

Re: Too much filtration?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 9:07 pm
by Miabean
Thanks everybody for the help. I bought a new API kit that has a date of 2022 on it and I shook the #%$& out of it. I'm still seeing 0 on the ammonia and nitrites but I got a 10 or maybe a 20 on the nitrates, the colors are very close to each other on the chart. I did a water change last Thursday. So any ideas on what to try? Shouldn't the UV light be killing the algae that's in there? I'll try leaving the light off and see if that helps.

Re: Too much filtration?

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:45 am
by awanderingmoose
10-20 nitrates makes more sense than zero. That's not high by any means as compared to what many/most people see. So, my suggestions focus on the light aspect:

1. Reduce time of light. If you want to do an on-off-on cycle, get a cheap and reliable programmable timer like this: https://www.amazon.com/Century-Heavy-Di ... B00MVF16JG. Adjust how long you have it on based on aesthetics vs algae growth. My (heavily planted) tank is 4 on, 2 off, 4 on. For a nonplanted tank, you will probably want more off and less on.

2. Reprogram your light for less intensity. I say reprogram, but it's as simple as the downarrow black button on the remote.

3. Leave the light off entirely for about a week. Water change before and after.

UV sterlizers work great against water-column (greenwater) algae. Against surface algae, they will kill some/most of the spores that pass through, but all that does is slow the spread - some spores will still find their way to a surface. The trick is to first get the problem under control. Aggressively and frequently wiping down surfaces (together with the above suggestions) should help - it will kick the algae into the water column for the sterilizer to kill.

With a UV sterilizer in the tank, I don't think I'd recommend adding algae eating fish, since once you get the problem under initial control, there may not be enough food for them (caveat, I've never run a sterilizer personally, so this observation might not be right).

Re: Too much filtration?

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:26 pm
by Miabean
That's definitely the route I'm taking with the light and hopefully it works out. I just set up another tank in that room so I can finally get my Flowerhorn and I don't want to have the same issue in the new tank.