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Old 04-11-2013, 08:59 PM   #1 
Sivan
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Algae-causing Light bulbs

I have determined that my light bulb is causing severe brown algae blooms every week. When my fish tank used to receive high amounts of sunlight I had green algae problems, so I move my tank in hopes that the algae will go away. Now that sunlight is not an issue, my light bulb causes brown algae. All in all, I have been fighting algae for about a year now. I would like the madness to end and find a good light bulb that will help me prevent this problem.

I believe it is my light bulb for a few reasons. My light bulb is not the correct size for my 5 gallon tank. It only covers about half the tank and is not particularly bright. I change my water each week and notice the same consistent problem: masses of brown algae seem to pop up on the side of the tank that the light bulb is over. In fact, I have a fake green plant that has one side directly under the light bulb and the other side facing away from the light bulb. The half of the fake plant that is under the light bulb is a dark shade of brown and the other half is green.

I scrub the algae off the sides of the tank walls each week but now my gravel is turning dark brown because the algae is getting bad in it too. I no longer have to just worry about removing it from my decor and walls. Its getting everywhere and I want it gone.

I can NOT get a snail to eat algae or house another creature with my Betta. He is very territorial and attacks anything that is new in his territory. The last time I introduced a snail, he tried to kill it immediately and would not give up even after it was fully recoiled in its shell. I also can NOT have a naturally planted tank due to my living situation for the next year. I may have to do some moving and simply do not have the time or budget to do such a tank. I could manage a mossimo moss ball, although I do not know if having one will help.

I think I need to change my light bulb to help with this algae problem. I can only have up to a 15 watt bulb. I was thinking that LED may help because it is brighter than the dim fluorescence I have now. Do you guys have any brand recommendations? Other options for controlling brown algae? Lighting advice?

I'm really open to anything right now.
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Old 04-11-2013, 11:47 PM   #2 
isochronism
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I have my tanks on a southern facing windowsill for natural light. The larger tank sometimes gets green algae on the side toward the window. I do a large water change and before refilling, I scrape the algae upward with a credit card so it is removed and not released into the water.
My tanks are fully planted in gravel.
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Old 04-12-2013, 01:52 AM   #3 
Dragonlady
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I suggest removing your betta to a new clean tank without the gravel. Next, remove the gravel from the algae ridden nano tank. Then, scrape the sides of the "tank", and clean or dispose of the gravel weekly. Keep your betta out of the same former tank. Does algae still seem to be as much of a problem as before? If so, establish some snails, then some plants. Then, add back your fish. Bettas do not need gravel in their tanks, IME. Balance it out.
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Old 04-12-2013, 07:58 AM   #4 
Sivan
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With all due respect, Dragonlady, I cannot do this. I cannot get snails or plants, as I stated. Also, I have completely removed the algae once before but it has come back. I do not want to keep restarting my cycle. I'd like a more practical solution, especially since it is the light bulb that is causing the algae.
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Old 04-12-2013, 08:01 AM   #5 
MattsBettas
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Stop using the light bulb. You don't have plants, you don't need it on. Turn it on for a short time when you want to view him.
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Old 04-12-2013, 09:15 AM   #6 
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You don't have to do a full NPT setup to have plants. Stick some hornwart in the gravel and it will grow like crazy and use up the nutrients the algae need to grow!
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Old 04-12-2013, 10:22 AM   #7 
Sivan
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Is there not a better light bulb that I could use? A brighter one? Without the light it is actually quite dark in his tank.

Waterdog: What would happen to hawthorn if I left the tank for, let's say, two months untouched? This happens every year at Christmas time and is what I am worried about. How would I plant it? Would it prevent algae? Do I need fertilizer? Would a moss ball serve the same purpose but be easier?
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Old 04-12-2013, 11:00 AM   #8 
Nicci Lu
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When you say brown algae, are you referring to diatoms? This is usually what people mean when they say brown algae. A soft, almost powdery brown covering surfaces? It isn't actually algae, but single-celled exoskeletons.

If so, is your tank fairly new? Diatoms most often appear in new tanks and they usually go away on their own once the tank becomes established. While low light will encourage their growth, the main culprits that lead to a diatom bloom are silicates present in the water (I believe this is usually the case when you have hard water, at least it is in mine- I always have diatoms, but I like them because I have otos), excess nitrates and excess phosphates. If you are getting diatoms directly under your light, this suggests to me that it is not low light that is causing your diatoms.

If your problem hasn't been going on that long, I would suggest just being patient. Diatoms usually go away on their own.

Moss balls are known for being great at combating green and red algae. From what I understand, it's because they are better at using the nutrients other algae needs, so a moss ball will out compete the bad stuff. I don't know if they will help if you have diatoms- they do use nitrates and if excess nitrates are your problem then a moss ball might help. Waterdog's suggestion of hornwort is a good one- you don't even have to bother sticking it in the gravel. Just let it float around on the surface. The moss ball's light needs are a bit less, although hornwort is pretty low light, too. For going on vacation, I would suggest the moss ball, though it will need some form of light.

Exactly what bulb do you have now? A CFL? A 15 watt CFL ought to be sufficient for a 5 gallon. Is there any way you can center it over the tank so the light is evenly distributed?

EDIT: I've heard good things about the Fluval moss ball. It's fake and supposed to soak up excess phosphates. Then no worries about keeping a plant alive.

Last edited by Nicci Lu; 04-12-2013 at 11:09 AM. Reason: Remembered something
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Old 04-12-2013, 01:35 PM   #9 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sivan View Post
Is there not a better light bulb that I could use? A brighter one? Without the light it is actually quite dark in his tank.

Waterdog: What would happen to hawthorn if I left the tank for, let's say, two months untouched? This happens every year at Christmas time and is what I am worried about. How would I plant it? Would it prevent algae? Do I need fertilizer? Would a moss ball serve the same purpose but be easier?
Nope. There is no light bulb on the planet that makes algae go away.

I have 3 tanks at the moment. The two 5g tanks in my bedroom get more sunlight than I would like and have had bad algae. First I added a Moss Ball, Anacharis, and a third plant I can't remember the name of because I thought they could out compete true brown algae. At first it worked because the brown algae went away. But now I have green algae growing on my walls, decor, moss ball, anacharis, forgotten-name-plant, heater, and filter. I didn't even know algae could grow on half the stuff this algae is growing on.

I knew my light bulb is good because I use the 5500Kelvin rated ZooMedic light bulb that fit my tank hood properly and keep my live plants alive. So I assumed it was my photo period. Unfortunately, even an 8 hour siesta light period(that means 4 hours on, two hours off, 4 hours on, off for the night) does not stop the green algae from growing in these tanks. Now I have added a nitrite snail to each tank to simply eat the algae away and I clean off what the snails don't want.

Therefore I can honestly say that putting a moss ball, anacharis, a plant-whose-name-is-forgotten, and a nitrite snail in a 5 gallon tank with a single male betta is needed to control algae in a cycled tank. Not make the algae go away. Oh no, the algae is still alive and well on the walls of my tank in spread out patches. I honestly think that roaches and aquarium tank algae can both survive nuclear fallout. I just want 1 tank wall I can see through.

However, it sounds like your tank is like the 8g tank in my computer room. That is away from sunlight and only has diatoms in it because it is freshly cycled. I'm hoping that when I add the live plants tomorrow the diatoms will be starve out over time. But at the moment, they are a brown power clinging to the walls of my tank that rain down on my sand like brown snow when ever I try to scrape them off.

I prefer diatoms so much more than algae. XD
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Old 04-12-2013, 03:45 PM   #10 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sivan View Post
Is there not a better light bulb that I could use? A brighter one? Without the light it is actually quite dark in his tank.

Waterdog: What would happen to hawthorn if I left the tank for, let's say, two months untouched? This happens every year at Christmas time and is what I am worried about. How would I plant it? Would it prevent algae? Do I need fertilizer? Would a moss ball serve the same purpose but be easier?
Yes there is a better light bulb. Flouresent daylight bulbs are brighter, use less electricity, and make the tank brighter.

Leave it in there 2 months untouched and you'll come back to an underwater jungle. I doubt it would totally choke off the tank, but don't panic if you look in and don't see your fish right away until you mow the grass.

To plant it, just stick the end in the gravel, period. It will sprout it's own roots.

All live plants help prevent algae cause they use the nutrients in the water as fertilizer. Faster growing plants like hawthorne use the nutrients faster than, say, an amazon sword which grows slower.

No you don't need fertilizer. That would only add nutrients to the water and defeat our purpose here.

Moss balls are slow growers and would not use the nutrients as fast leaving more for algae to feed on.

My question is.............are you saying your going to leave your tank unattended for 2 months?
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