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RE: Algae

Is there any algae killer that I can use that will
not harm my plants and fish?

what should I do to combat this problem.

There are a number of 'algae killers' on the market, but as you don't
mention which country you live in its a little difficult to be precise. I
would suggest however that prevention is a far better way than using
chemicals. That said, the main reason for growths of algae is too much
nitrate in the water in combination with reasonable lighting. You haven't
mentioned a reading for ammonia, nitrites or nitrates in your tank, however
you did say that you have only had the tank planted for about a month. This
being the case you may well be suffering from a fairly common problem in
that your filters and gravel which currently house a variety of bacteria
haven't yet grown to the position that they can denitrify the tank or are
doing so too vigourously for your plants at present.

You say that you are a beginner to fishkeeping/aquaculture. I mention both
as you have listed an interesting number of livestock. The fish that you
have chosen to keep are all vegetarian, the shrimps will in my experience
eat pretty much whatever they can find that's edible. This at the outset
looks good. The creatures are all removing algae, however at the same time
they are all producing waste products. Principally unionised ammonia,
ionised ammonia, urea etc...

Ammonia is fairly toxic to most forms of aquatic life, in an enclosed
ecosystem, like an aquarium, it must be removed or evolved in order to
promote favourable conditions for the creatures within it to survive. The
cycle for evolving ammonia is performed by a number of bacteria, using the
ammonia as a food source and evolving it to less dangerous nitrite
substances. Nitrites are still toxic to fish to a lesser degree (the shrimps
won't like them too much), however these are broken down again by a
different type of bacteria to the form of nitrates which are relatively
harmless to your tanks occupants.

The problem you may well be facing is that the above cycle takes time to
mature. Bacteria need to grow, and will do so given time to meet the growing
amounts of ammonia and nitrites, however as they mature will begin producing
larger amounts of nitrates which your plants at this time appear unable to
use up quickly enough. You may therefore find that you have an abundance of
nitrates in your water leading to the unwanted arrival of algae.

It can take a few months for your biological filtration to settle down and
if after checking readings for nitrates you find this is the problem I would
suggest increasing your water changes to around 25%/week.

You haven't given any characteristics for your local water supply, however,
you may well find that the nitrate content is already in the region of 10-20
parts per million. Anything above this is unlikely to be taken up quickly
enough by your plants and is likely to lead to your problems with Algae
anyway. There are however a number of products specifically designed to
remove nitrates from water to allow denitrified tap water, I personally used
to use nitrogon while keeping Discus. Your other alternative is they use of
a reverse osmosis unit to remove pretty much everything from the water. The
downside to RO water however is that you lose all of the trace elements you
want for your plants as well as hardness which can lead to problems with pH

I hope you have some luck in combatting your problems. I would personally
reduce the amount of light and the duration it is on for. You could also try
a number of floating plants which help reduce permeating light while at the
same time leech nitrates from the water. I would sugest that you check your
water (both in your tank and out of the tap) and hopefully you should get a
better idea of what is causing you grief. Your ideal situation should be:

Ammonia: Less than 0.1 mg/litre
Nitrite: Less than 0.1 mg/litre
Nitrate: 0 - 12.5 mg/litre

Best of luck.



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