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Having a problem with algae in my sand

749 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Bruce Haynes
Most of my searches have turned up information about algae growing on the sand bed. I've got green algae apparently staining my pool filter sand grain by grain. I'm prepared to replaced the substrate (I've got a fresh bag of the same sand on hand), but obviously don't want to have to deal with the same problem later.

I think my main problem is that I'm confused by what I've read about controlling algae. Increase light, reduce light, shorten lighting period, add vascular plants.. I'm not sure what to do. I tried keeping some anacharis - it lasted longer than I expected with my Africans, but still not long.

I just switched my lighting to two 20W xenon puck lights from a 4 foot two-tube 32W T12 fluoro with blue actinic and 10k bulbs. I'm not sure it's helped, and I think the light is a bit too orange to suit me.

What do I do?! :-?

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I am having a hard time figuring how that lighting could look anything but bluish. I would remove the actinic. You don't need to scrap your sand as removing and bleaching will make it like new.
BillD said:
I am having a hard time figuring how that lighting could look anything but bluish. I would remove the actinic.
It was very blue. I switched out the fluoro fixture for two small, 20W xenon puck lights last week.

Bleach the sand? Really? I'd worry about getting the chlorine out.
Alowishus said:
Bleach the sand? Really? I'd worry about getting the chlorine out.
After bleaching soak in a dechlorinator and stir it around while it's in there. It'll get the chlorine out.
Great, thanks. I'll do a few scoops every time I bleach a filter cartridge. I don't want to be bleaching my sand regularly, though. What can I do prevention-wise? I don't mind algae on the rocks and glass - it's only when it gets into the sand that it bothers me.
IMO if its PFS or Play sand at the cost I wouldn't bother with bleacing it. Why risk bleaching something for your fish tank to save a few bucks.
The only way to really control algae is to control the nutrients that cause them to grow. Changing lamps, increasing or decreasing the time the lights are on etc will only cause a shift in the species of algae you are growing and generally won't solve the problem. Sometime this action does help and can it better but not actually solve the situation. However, the more intense the light and using actinics will definitely make the problem worse.

To get rid of nutrients you can either:

1) add plants - they compete with the algae. You need fast growing plants and unfortunately most cichlids dig so it can be hard to keep the plants rooted. You can separately container and heavy rock and maybe have some success but that's another story. and you've tried this once with limited success but you could try other plants.

2) add bacteria that are designed remove the sludge (which is carbon), phosphate and nitrate [which are the primary nutrients]. (Disclosure: I do make such a bacteria but there are others). This takes a little longer but the bacteria can get into the sand and other areas you can't and work at reducing the nutrients. A word of caution - if you go this route go slow do not overdose the bacteria as they can bloom and lower the oxygen level in the tank.

3) balance water changes with fish load and feed amount to control the nutrients along with adding some sludge removing bacteria. Basically, increase you maintenance to match the fish (feed) load in the tank.

Hope this helps
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...or switch back to gravel. This is a huge reason I hate sand in an aquarium..way more bother than it is worth.
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