Setting Up A new Dirted Plant Tank Episode 4: Fertilization, Algae Bloom, More Improvement

During the period after previous episode, I observed that the plants started to show starving symptoms without any serious algae problem. So I realized it is the time for fertilizing. I bought N, P, K, Fe and micro element fertilizers from a previously known person who is preparing DIY liquid fertilizers. I read before many good feed backs about the products and the prices are also really competitive comparing with other commercial fertilizers.

After receiving fertilizers, I followed the instructions suggested for low tech tanks in despite of high tech tank requirements. Then my problems with the algae started. I had green hair algae bloom at first stage. They have been mostly removed manually by winding them around the tweezers and then a 50% water change followed to reduce the level of potentially excessive fertilizers. I believe that the dose was excessive because I had never had that much algae before and the bloom occurred just after 2-3 days of time later than fertilization. But that was only the beginning. Invasion continued for a few more days, maybe around one week. During the period I also stopped dosing fertilizers. When green hair algae problem solved, I removed the one and only SAE which was grown up more than enough and disturbing other fishes.

Design Change and Algae

Days after when I was thinking that the algae problem has been solved, I decided to make some changes on the design with some gnays stones. I added some stones to the tank but then I realized that the sizes are a little bit smaller than it could be and my sand is insufficient to create the scape that I want to make. Then I decided to left them as they are for that moment but also I put the note for the sand into my buying list. And I also realized that I may use a driftwood covered with moss in the design and added also driftwood into my list.

While I was adding and trying to arrange the stones, the monte carlo plants are also replaced to the tank’s front side. For mosses, I was planning to tie them on some lava stone but now my plan is to tie them on a driftwood. Maybe I can use them in both ways in the future but first I need to buy the driftwood then I will re-evaluate accordingly.

After a while and when I started thinking about the design was getting shaped, algae problem returned. But this time it was stronger than before even I was not dosing any fertilizers. From the first time I observed bubbling sand I understood that I am also having blue-green algae this time. The first possible reason which first popped into my mind was the plant leaves which are collected and decomposed by the external filter. It is always a good chance for blue-green algae(cyanobacteria) to grow over the substrate, decomposed materials and stones by using the nutrients released from these kind of residue.

Blue-Green Algae (Cyanobacteria)

There are only two options available for this issue. The first one is using an antibiotic or algicides containing erythromycin. The second one is cleaning the tank, substrate, filter, collecting waste materials and applying a dark out at least during 3-4 days of time. The first method is the fastest was to kill the cyanobacteria but also kills the beneficial bacteria in the filter, sand and over the stones etc. I preferred the second way and after maintenance and cleaning, I applied dark out during 4 days after stopping also co2 fertilization. And I turned the lights on for around 3 hours and checked the algae. But they were still there and I decided to make another water change around 30%. Then extended the dark out period more.

Improvements and Livestock

After a few days I have completed my DIY lighting hood and replaced with the original cover. It has four 13W T5 tubes (existing ones) and three 24W T5 tubes to improve lighting while the dark out was ongoing. In every 4 days I turned only the lights on for around 3 hours. After 13 days of dark out I finally decided to turn the lights on. As a beginning the lighting period set around 9 hours per day with 5 tubes only.

During the dark out period 2 SAE, 3 otocinclus and 9 pygm corydoras have been added to help removing the remaining and dead algae over the stones and plants. I was always liked these fishes but especially the oto cats are really very good on eating green algae over the glasses. You can see in the below photos how capable they are eating on green algae. (not blue-green algae) I highly recommend oto cats for all kind of tanks with peaceful fish. After having these changes, I decided to convert the tank to a planted shrimp tank. So this means SAEs will be removed later. But for now they will stay to help on the fight against algae.

Read more on Planed Tank success–>

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