Battling Hair Algae in the 220

Posted by Dustin Wunderlich on

Got Algae? Don’t lie…

I do. Shit happens. So now I am trying to get rid of it. But getting rid of the algae is one thing…and obviously it is important.

But the bigger question is, “How did I get this algae in the first place?” It is one thing to fix or “patch” something that is wrong in your tank. It is a better move to figure out what caused it. Figure out what went wrong in the first place and you have better shot of not only fixing it, but also making sure it doesn’t happen again.

So my tank got out of BALANCE. I say balance all the time and it really can’t be emphasised enough. Let’s peal back what happened on it. My 220 has been getting a great deal of love recently, when I say love, I mean water changes and also me playing maybe a tad too much with certain fertilizers.

I have been doing a nice job of hitting the 220 with 20% or more water changes recently. One of the things I did however was that I recently added a significant boost to the lighting. I now am running 2 Quad-HO T5 lights. (these lights rock by the way) So my plant are getting kicked with 8 bulbs that are 54 watts each. 230 watts. That might sound like a bunch, but those is really only lightly over 1 watt per gallon on a 220 gallon tank. Another thing to consider with these lights is that they have to pound down through 30 inches of deep tank.

Here is what I believe caused the algae in my tank. I did a pretty large bull-dozering of the front part of the gravel it my tank. (To confess, while I highly doubt I’ll ever setup a planted aquarium without some for of my dirt, there are some draw backs to it when you really want to move some gravel.)

I did the best I could at removing some of the dirt that was up against the glass. I am going for a cleaner look, without the dirt being visible below the gravel. “You can’t make an ommlet without cracking some eggs” …well I cracked some eggs made an omlet ate that sucker, and left the plate a little dirty and now it is hard get cleaned up.

There is another factor here. While I did a decent water change during the process and felt I left the tank clean, it wasn’t clean enough. I also did something else, I left town and didn’t cut the lights back on my tank. I was running them for about 8 hours. I basically stirred it up really good, left some crude on my plants, didn’t get all of it off and left the tank. So now the parts of the plant that have some dirt on them are feeding the algae to grow on them. (You would have thought I would have learned my lesson on this as I had some dirted tanks in the green house where I am constantly removing plants and stiring up the tanks—now the greenhouse only has one dirted tank for kicks as I have a good dosing regimen out there now)

And here comes the final blow. I have my boesmani trained to eat duckweed when I don’t feed them. While I was gone for 4 days, my “Boes” ate all of my duckweed, my light reducing, excess nutrient absorbing, helping me fight algae, duck weed.

Perfect storm for some algae.

Now to the fix.

The most important part of the fix is to get rid of the light. I am not going to be too technical here, but the light feeds the algae. Algae is a simple organism and can easily take what light you give it. SO DO NOT GIVE IT ANY LIGHT….

I also scrubbed the heck out of all of the driftwood and removed any leaves that had algae on them.

Yes. Manual removal sucks, but you have to get it out of there as best as you can so that it doesn’t spread all over.

The thing with algae is that it thrives on reduced water quality AND light. So you have to knock out both.

My lights were off for 4 days straight. This probably will make some of you mad as you (Like me) want to turn your lights back on and look at what you are doing. If you are a fishtank junkie, like myself, you can get away with turning them on for just an hour or so, then cutting them right back off.

Another thing I did was I started to pound the Liquid CO2. See the link to Liquid Fertilizers HERE

This is super strong stuff so I recommend that you get accustom to using it.

I believe this works as you are adding a strong chemical that is too much for the algae to handle, while at the same time, you are boosting the plants (which can handle it) with more CO2. So you are reducing the algae while giving the plants a boost.

Again, the biggest thing is the reduction of lights and the control of your water quality. I stirred my tank a big old mess and gave the algae the perfect environment to grow. While reducing lights and improving water quality, the added CO2 will give your tank a “pop” while it kills the hair algae.

Please note- This is one of those things that you aren’t quickly “out of the woods yet” You will be killing algae which will be increasing your ammonia again so you will want to stay constant with your water changes.

Another tip. While you are siphoning out your water, don’t be afraid to go down to just the bare tube and put aside the larger diameter (Penis pump part if you will Use the smaller tube and literally with the tube, scrap the algae off of the driftwood while the siphon is running. This might take some care and practive, but is worth the effort as you are doing two things in one step.

You all are members reading this so don’t hesitate to message me about this with any question. Please copy the link from the web browser and put it in a message along with “Goldfish” Or “Silverfish” in the subject. I will reply via the comments so that everyone can see and benefit from this.

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