54G – What Happened?

July 11th, 2009

I’ll start by saying that this 54G aquarium is giving me more trouble than just about any aquarium I’ve setup before. It’s not the aquarium itself, but I just can’t seem to get the darn thing balanced and happy without ending up with beautiful views like the one below. I am using a few things that I don’t usually use in this aquarium. It’s my first time using a metal halide pendant, so I’m still figuring out the best light duration. Additionally, I’m using leftover parts for my CO2 system, and not the filter I’d prefer to use. So, those are my excuses.

54G - Uh Oh, Algae!

Now, what I’m trying to do about it. At least according to my test kits, my nitrate is at 10ppm and phosphate 1ppm, which is exactly where I want them. Nevertheless, I’m not sure I can trust those values because the plants aren’t looking like they’re that happy, although the algae is. I also decided to rearrange the rockscape that I did have in this tank, adding a large rock with much more character than the previous one. This allowed me to add a bit more height to the rockscape than I had before. Before repositioning, I pulled all of the rock out, and scrubbed them to get as much of the black-brush-algae as I could. I’m sure it’s a matter of time for it to return, but hopefully I can get my water parameters inline before then.

54G - New Rock Arrangement

I may be forced to bend a few rules for this tank if I can’t rectify the situation entirely through water/light/CO2 adjustments. Unfortunately, there are no native plecos (or other suitable suckerfish) to Maryland, and grass shrimp are just quick treats for the bluespotted sunfish. If I have to add some bristlenosed plecos, it probably wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I’m going to try and avoid that for the time being. Comments welcome!

8 Responses to “54G – What Happened?”

  1. warren Says:

    Have you thought about importing your live biocultures from the filters in the other healthier tanks? It is possible if you can import a different balance of nitrifying bacteria from a different tank, that would have a shot at colonizing your tank. The other idea I have is that most of the chemicals you add come directly from the waste of the fish, which comes from which food you feed them. Try a different feed, and for a bit, less of it?


  2. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Warren. Actually, this tank was running for years prior to rescaping, so it already started with a filter, full of biocultures. I suppose I could try running media from another filter…

    What’s interesting about the planted tanks, is that I don’t want 0ppm of N/K/P. Accordingly to the test kits, the levels are where I want them for plant growth. It’s quite possible that the kits are off by a little bit, but they shouldn’t be way off. As for food, these fish are wild caught, and don’t take non-live foods, which I feed sparingly. Perhaps I need to add a ton more plants.

  3. Brandon Says:

    I had a similar problem not long ago in a similarly aged tank, and have slowly been winning the battle by adding EXTRA Nitrate. First I tried adding Phosphate, which only encouraged its growth, but when I doubled my Nitrate dosing I am definitely seeing the plants now winning the battle. I also inject a fair amount of CO2 and have a pretty strong current throughout the tank, but I don’t know what affect those factors have, just FYI.

  4. guitarfish Says:

    Hey Brandon, thanks for the tip. Just out of curiosity, what substrate are you using in your tank?

  5. Brandon Says:

    > 90% Flourite, and some Eco Complete. It’s all been in the tank continuously for at least 3 years now!

  6. Mark F. Says:

    I’ll tell you what’s going on in this tank: you’ve achieved a perfect native biotope – that first photo looks exactly like the shallows of the nearest reservior! Sorry – I couldn’t resist that tease!

    In the second photo, what’s the tall, grassy-looking plant in the rear of the ‘scape, to the left of what appears to be ludwigia? It’s very graceful-looking.

    Brandon’s suggestions sound good to me … but, if they don’t produce the same results for you that they’ve done for him, I cast my vote in favor of “breaking the rules”, and tossing in a few ancistrus!

    If nothing else, your blue-spotted sunfish appear well-adjusted to tank life – specifically, less shy and more out in the open. Is it possible that the algal bloom helped with that?

    The hobby is always an adventure, isn’t it?

  7. chongyu Says:

    Hi i’m new here i follow your blog regularly. Could it be that your mh pendant is too close to the water surface?
    Btw, your lush foreground looks perfect.

  8. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the extra info Brandon. I’m using Amazonia Aquasoil (Type 1), which I think might partially be playing a role here too.

    Mark, believe me, I’ve definitely thought about calling it an algae-ridden biotope, but that doesn’t always go over well with the Mrs. I believe the grassy-looking plant you’re referring to is a Potamogeton species I found. The blue spots are definitely out and about, except when the light is the brightest mid-day. When all the lights are on, not a single fish is visible. This makes sense to me, as smallish wild fish, if you weren’t hiding in the grassy during the brightest part of the day, you were likely lunch!

    Chongyu, you’re right that raising the light might be another option for me. You’d think I should be able to balance out the nutrients/light/CO2 where it’s at, but if it persists, I may end up raising it up.

    Thanks everyone!