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Brown Algae on plants

(10 Posts)
MyFirstName Tue 18-Nov-14 08:23:01

Hello, <waves> New to this topic. After some help please.

We have just got a new aquarium for my DD. It has been set up for a week and then we have added 2 guppies and a woodshrimp. We will in a couple of weeks add a few neon tetras. Everything seems to be going well (I think). I have been testing the water and nitrates/nitrites in the mid-level but going down (which I believe is normal), ammonia 0 and ph 7.5.

Fish seem happy, we are making sure we do not overfeed. But I am having problems with one of my plants which is becoming covered (I think) with Brown Algae. We got the plant from PetsRUS (or whatever they are called), though most of the rest of the stuff we got from the local aquatic centre so not entirely sure what the brown-algae covered plant it - but I think it is a Dracaena-Sanderiana.

Having googled I am not sure what to do. Some advice seems to say increase your lighting. Some seems to suggest less lighting. Some say just leave it - it is normal in a new tank and will go on its own. Some say take the plant out, wash it and put it back.

Lighting wise we have the lights for the tank on 12 hours a day. (It is an Askoll 44l tank like this) fishkeeper.co.uk/product/askoll-pure-medium-aquarium-kit though not in vile pink thank god

The tank is not in the window - so I do not think there is too much daylight (which I know can be a problem with algae).
Oh and the only other difference with this plant as opposed to the others (which seem fine) is that this one is tucked away from natural light more than the rest of my plants - the filter/heater blocks it from 50% of the daylight from the room iyswim.

Sorry for the epic first post - but wanted to provide the whole picture to see if anyone could offer some advice please. Should I just leave it? Move it to a different part of the tank? Wash it? More light? Left light?

Thank you kind people. flowers

EauRouge Tue 18-Nov-14 08:27:44

Brown algae is very normal in a new set up. It usually stops growing once things are established, so it's nothing to worry about smile

EauRouge Tue 18-Nov-14 08:31:33

Oh bugger, what did I press? I hadn't finished! Anyway.....

Can you post a photo of the plant? Because Dracaena sanderiana is not a true aquatic plant. This happens quite a lot, some plants that are not true aquatics are sold as such (I think it's a problem with the supplier rather than the shop), but it is a problem because it will end up dying and rotting.

Your tank was not cycled properly before adding fish so you need to keep a really close eye on the water readings and the fish. I wouldn't add any more fish for another few weeks and you will need to add them very gradually to prevent large ammonia spikes. This explains all about the nitrogen cycle. How big is the tank?

MyFirstName Tue 18-Nov-14 09:27:36

Tank is not big - 44L. I heard about the 6 week cycling and was all set to do that but the Aquatic shop said I didn't need to - just a slow introduction of fish would do the trick. We are only going for a few Neons on top of the 2 (+ 1 shrimp) we have - and DD is aware they need an established tank so may have to wait for a few weeks. Pic of plant attached.

When I bought it I did ask if it was a true aquatic plant or just decorative but the lady in PetsRus looked at me like I was mad!

I will keep testing the water every other day and keep an eye on things. Should I be doing frequent water changes (happy to do so) at this stage to help things along, or only if x happens. I am aware (and your useful link show, thank you) I need to encourage the bacteria so was just planning on doing it once a week so that I did not inhibit the bacteria growth. Should I be doing it more frequently at this stage?

EauRouge Tue 18-Nov-14 09:54:38

Adding fish slowly is the old fashioned way of doing it- most people now do a fishless cycle because it's safer. I wouldn't add any neons tbh. You can probably keep another couple of guppies in there but that would be about your limit. Neons need to be in a large shoal and there isn't room in the tank you have, so it's very likely that if you got a couple they would start picking on the guppies.

You may need to do frequent water changes, if you do water tests every day or every other day then that will tell you what's going on. You need to keep the ammonia and nitrIte as close to zero as you can. What you're likely to see is the ammonia level rising first (this usually happens in the first week so you may have missed it), followed by the nitrIte about a week or so later.

Changing the water won't inhibit bacteria growth by much, the bacteria grow in the filter. You need to make sure that when you clean the filter sponges that you don't use tap water because the chlorine will kill off the good bacteria- you can use water taken from the tank to clean the sponges, they don't need to be super-clean anyway. Just enough to rinse off the big bits of crap. You also need to use dechlorinator to any new water that you add to the tank.

MyFirstName Tue 18-Nov-14 10:29:37

Thank you for this. I am a bit annoyed at the shop then tbh. I went to an expert (or so I thought) rather than PetsRUs to try and get proper advice. Oh well. Not much I can do about it now.

Have just done a water change (just to be safe really, and to practise more before DD takes over at the weekend <eek>)

Current levels are now
Ph75
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0.8
Nitrate I think 2. It has certainly gone down a bit from testing before the water change.

You maybe able to help me on this one please - I am really struggling to "read" the Nitrate test level. (Others are all fine to read) Tis all just vague shades/intensities of pink. I have a Nutrafin Mini Master test kit. www.amazon.co.uk/Hagen-Nutrafin-Essential-Mini-Master/dp/B0002DI2ZA The "what colour from pale pink to less pale pink is the water" analysis for the Nitrate is not easy for me let alone DD - and I would like it to be something DD could read more on her own (with supervision). Is there any easier to read test around that you would recommend please - paper strips or something - just think it would be easier to match something on paper than the water in a test tube.

Again, thank you so much for this.

Oh - and the brown algae...just wait it out?

EauRouge Tue 18-Nov-14 10:58:32

You are by no means the first person to be given duff info by a shop, and you won't be the last. Some shops are much better than others though, so you might be able to find somewhere else local. Maidenhead Aquatics is quite good if there's one near you, they are usually based in garden centres. There are lots of good independent shops too. Look out for anyone who looks like they don't see a lot of sunlight grin or just ask them about their own fish. If they don't speak for hours at length about every fish they've ever kept then they might not be the geek you're looking for.

It's tricky because so much has changed in the hobby in a short amount of time and some people are taking longer than others to catch on. Some people still see it as an inevitability that you will lose fish when maturing a new tank, but it isn't and I never have when doing a fishless cycle.

I have the same test kit and it can be tricky to read. Try holding the test tube in front of a piece of white paper and standing with the window behind you. It's hard to get an exact reading but it should give you an idea. The dip stick tests aren't any easier to read tbh, but they would be easier for your DD to use.

Yes, you can just wait out the brown algae. You can wipe it off the glass and the leaves of the plant (or just cut those leaves off) and once things are established you'll get green algae instead grin Seriously though, a bit of algae is normal but it shouldn't get to the point where you can't control it with a weekly scrub of the glass and a water change. If it does then you can do tests to figure out what's causing the excess algae.

EauRouge Tue 18-Nov-14 11:04:07

BTW do you mean 20 for the nitrAte? It's usually measured in PPM (or mg/l which works out the same) and 20 sounds about normal. It needs to be kept below about 30 by doing regular water changes, but you might also need to test your tap water because it can have a high nitrAte level in some areas.

Your nitrIte isn't at a deadly level but keep an eye on it because it will probably be rising at the moment.

pH 7.5 and ammonia 0 is all good.

MyFirstName Tue 18-Nov-14 11:30:43

Can I say I love you (in a fishy kind of way). Thank you. I may get some stick test-things for DD to use on a regular basis (she is only 8 but wants to be a Marine Biologist when she grows up - Octonauts have a lot to answer for!) and has so far shown a lot of maturity with the whole thing. We will get the test tubes out once a week - but she can keep an eye on things more frequently with the sticks. She knows that the key is looking after the water and not feeding them too much.

And yes 20 for the NitrAte. Can you tell I am learning grin

EauRouge Tue 18-Nov-14 11:48:45

Your DD sounds ace grin There's a lot to learn but keeping the water (and bacteria) in good nick is the key. If you're getting that right then the fish pretty much look after themselves, with a bit of food obv.

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