View Full Version : fish tank question

04-10-2007, 10:52 AM
I have a few tropicals in a fish tank and after many failures finally established a thriving plant population.
My problem is a similiar thriving population of Black algae. Its the fine hair-like filament type.
Does anything eat it, I dont want to use algicide as it will stuff my hard won garden.
I have a large bristlenose catty who does a great job but wont touch the black stuff.
The tank would look much nicer without it as it coats all the rocks and wood and parts of the filter. It a bugger to remove manually,, really hang on.
thanks for any suggestions

Little grey men
04-10-2007, 11:27 AM
Mate, that black stuff is a real pain. There's only a few types of fish that will eat it.not sure what types, but I know there hard to get. Pleco's I think.
If you don't want to use chemicals, you have to clean everything with the algae on it and change your tank water a lot,as in 20% a couple a times a week until it's gone. I actually got rid of all of my plants and replaced them with artificials and reduced the light time as the algae was taking over the tank. Big Time. I have a troop of eight Bristlenoses that hardly even touch the algae, they seem to be happy eating the big bit of avacado wood sitting in the tank.
You can clean your plants and rocks with very very diluted bleach.
Good luck and happy cleaning:-/

04-10-2007, 11:31 AM
Im no expert, but what about a luderick?

04-10-2007, 12:33 PM
gday rando,not sure how long you have had this problem for but maybe limiting sunlight or your aquarium lighting.another solution could be to change the type of bulb that you have,there are heaps of different bulb types and they make a huge difference!

04-10-2007, 03:47 PM

Rando, if it's frech water, try a plecostamus (pleco for short)

They grow quick and love the algae.

They aren't real cheap, but worth every cent.


04-10-2007, 05:06 PM
this is commonly known as 'black beard algae. Very tough or hardy type of algae. Turning off or reducing the photoperiod (light hours) will not have as much affect as it would on the green type algae, but may slow it a bit.
You said you have been 'working' on growing your plants......have you been using plant foods or fertalisers?...if so this is what the black algae thrives on, excess nutrients in the water. Your tap water may also be high in phosphates or nitrates and these also act like 'fertilisers adding unwanted amounts of nutrient into the water. Get an aquarium shop to test your water for these things. If this were the source of your problem, you could get a reverse osmosis filter to get the 'purest' water possible.
Not many fish eat the black algae, but when I had the problem I was advised to try a few Siamese Algea Eaters and they mowed it down pretty quick (see link). Dont go to 'Pets are us" or anything lol, go to a dedicated Aquarium as they are commonly mistaken or misnamed as there is a similar species called a Chinese algea eater, who wont touch the black algae.

So yeah, get your tank water AND a sample of your tap water tested for phosphates and nitrAtes, and try and source a few of those fish and see how you go. Black algae sucks. HTH

04-10-2007, 05:07 PM
oh yeah heres the link

04-10-2007, 07:56 PM
Thanks guys
I'll look around for an SAE.
Yes and no to your question .
Ive tinkered with plant food a bit as i kept losing plants , but once i saw that they were growing i let them be and fortunately they have continued to thrive.
Light period is part of the problem Im sure as i get a bit slack monitoring the hours the light is on.
Ive had it a while now ,but it is starting to get out of control.
Are you still fishing the river??, hows it going,making a few bob i hope.:)

Thanks again to all for your advise

04-10-2007, 08:51 PM
hey mate the easyest way to keep regular hours with the light is to get a $10 timer from bunnings then you wont have to worry about turning it on or off .

04-10-2007, 11:18 PM
i bought a timer as well and think it was a great investment.we had 3 big purple spotted gudgeons and about half a dozen incisus rainbows in a 3x2x2 foot tank, but they got what we were told was tuberculosis,when they got pretty sick we destroyed them and were very dissapointed.im still in the river,just waiting for some bait to pop up but its still a bit early yet,plenty of time to catch up on network and painting,never a dull moment!!!!

04-10-2007, 11:40 PM
that dark blue fine filament algae is a problem. My plecostomus doesn't eat it. I haven't found anything that does, but it does seem to come and go according to some cycle I don't get. yet.

It is starting off in a very small way in my tank again- 3 things have changed;
1. less 'higher' plants, ie green ones with leaves, in this case a big sword plant
2. rain water for water changes instead of tap water
3. One 4' tube of the three is blown.

I reckon the solutions include -
-water changes with water that doesn't add fertilizer
-make sure the light is right - even flouro tubes that are still bright 'age' or so I have been told, and the spectrum changes
-plant more plants with roots and leaves so that those plants can use the nutrients before the algae - on this point, check the fish are eating all their food, and go back to the water change issue including whether the new water had fertilizer in it
-try the fish above that eat it - in saying that, I reckon they'd probably eat everything else in the tank first.
- go to an aquarium shop you trust -one with lots of healthy plants in established tanks would meet your needs. If you are on the Nth side pm me and I can make some suggestions. Some fishos are cichlid mad, and for them the only good plant is no plant, second best, plastic plants

05-10-2007, 10:39 AM
Clean the tank, get rid of the alge reduce your lights to 8 hours and build a co2 reactor cost bugger all to build and maybe uswe some iron tablets at the roots. havs seemed to work for me and i have breeding discus in the tank

05-10-2007, 10:56 AM
Ive tried those timers twice, and both times the timer has given up the ghost.
What does the CO2 do and how do you set one up.

05-10-2007, 11:55 AM
Hi mate, I have had the black crap too and wasn't able to get rid of it easy:'(

I ended up cutting all the leaves that were affected, using a wire brush on all the logs and filters in my tank. emptied the tank totally of water keeping my fish in a fishing tub for a couple of hours. I also removed the gravel and cleaned it in a bucket just like you do when you first get gravel (i had it all over my gravel too:'(). I didn't clean the filter material so that the bacteria could start working again (otherwise you have to do the 4 week cycle again for a new tank:-/). This stopped it and i had a clean tank for about 4 months... then it came back:cry:

I had approached a number of north side aquariums who said that it actually comes it tap water some times.. Have you noticed it at any aquarium shops?

As a couple of people have said there is only a couple of fish that will eat it and I think they need to be some what starved to go near it.

I tried to get a heavily planted tank happening also, it was ok for a few months but I had some of the finer leaved plants dying off. I also got one of the cheap Co2 things from ebay that use yeast to make it, don't bother with these systems. if you want to inject Co2 into your tank use the proper gear for it. I n the end I just planting a few Anubias, these are hardy and don't require a lot of light or food.

Good luck!!


05-10-2007, 10:07 PM
one way to generate CO2 is to make home brew!!

06-10-2007, 09:43 PM
Will aquatic snails eat the black stuff?

I know a lot of people don't like snails, but I never had any problems with them.

08-10-2007, 12:40 PM
G'day mate, also had the same problem solved it by accident was going to set up
co2 but too expensive bought this stuff from Seachem called floureish excel plant food. Which is some kind of liquid c02 that you put 5 or so mls in every couple of days, turns out side effect of this stuff was all algae turned white & disappeared after about 2 weeks have just run out of the stuff & algae is starting to grow back again. cheers

08-10-2007, 05:50 PM
hey mate ive had planted tanks for many years now and have gona through the black algae phase. the only fish i have found to eat it is the flying fox shark and the ottocinclus catfish. plecos may eat it to but are far to big and messy for a highly prized tank. another way to guarantee the erradication of algae is to start again, treat the areas by diluting 1 part bleach to 3 parts water and soak anythin wit algae in it for 3 mins and 30 seconds for plants then wipe away the algae. also find the rite amount of fertilisers and co2 going into the tank. cheers steve

08-10-2007, 08:50 PM
Had to consult the expert on this (The missus as she has fish tanks and all sorts everywhere) she has suggested getting a water test and check your phosphate level. Apparently the higher thr phosphate the more the crap grpws. Also, i dont know how long your tank has been set up for but she says that the algae phase is a natural occurance and will probably go away over a period of time if all your levels are correct. Go to your local fish expert shop to get the levels checked.

08-10-2007, 08:58 PM
I have a few tropicals in a fish tank and after many failures finally established a thriving plant population.
My problem is a similiar thriving population of Black algae. Its the fine hair-like filament type.
Does anything eat it, I dont want to use algicide as it will stuff my hard won garden.
I have a large bristlenose catty who does a great job but wont touch the black stuff.
The tank would look much nicer without it as it coats all the rocks and wood and parts of the filter. It a bugger to remove manually,, really hang on.
thanks for any suggestions

Rando I used to be an Aquarium specialist working nearly 8 years in total in the industry. I have a few questions I'd like to ask if I may. Firstly what sort of tropical fish do you have? What temperature are you keeping the water at? Are you using any substrate fertilizers and liquid fertilizers? Do you use CO2 injection? What type of lighting are you using? There are so many different fluro tubes on the market these days all of which achieve good but different results. You can also go more expensive and go mercury vapour or metal halide lighting depending on how much you want to stretch your budget. Another thing is water changing. How much do you change and at what intervals? The more you change your water the less phosphates you will have in the tank to promote algae growth. When I kept a lush aquarium with CO2 and fertilizers etc I also used to do a partial water change of up to 50% every day. Something to remember is that when most fish live in a near perfect environment they are constantly being flushed out with fresh water every second so this is hard to mimic in an aquarium type of situation. This is why things can become unbalanced so easily and instability resulting in algae blooms happen. Once you get that particular type of algae there is not a lot that can be done about it. If you get fish in there that might eat the algae (Plecostomus and Bristlenose catfish won't) then you can kiss the plants goodbye as well. Only thing I can suggest is take a water sample to your nearest aquarium shop (preferably one with a lot of experience and expertise) and let them test your water for everything like PH, hardness, carbonate hardness, nitrates, nitrites etc.
I have only touched the surface here so feel free to PM me if you would like to run through things in more detail with me. I still have some VERY RARE books worth a lot of dollars on keeping great planted aquariums. One book in particular called NATURE AQUARIUM WORLD by TAKASHI AMANO shows hundreds of actual photographs of some of the best set up aquariums in the world and in great detail describes what they do and use to keep it a great set up. If you live close to me then I am happy to show you the books and run through all of what I know.



08-10-2007, 10:00 PM
Thanks Poodroo
The tropicals are a mixture , just the basics , nothing flash. Angels, Pearl gourami, tetras , rasboras, odessas and a bristlenose. Your typical suburban community tank .
The light is a gro- light but is 2 years old. No co2, No fertilisers generally ( very occasionally if i remember i put in some plant liquid )
Water changes have been less than diligent lately, but the fish seem to be coping okand growing nicely . I do a 2/3 change fortnightly
Have i read your reply correctly ,, plecostomus WONT eat black algue, ,,what about glass shrimp.?
Poo, its not a major setup only 90 lts, and really only to amuse myself and my two little girls.
Having worked to get the plants growing actively (finally)I a bit reluctant to upset what other than the algae is a nicely balanced system.
The tank is about 6-7 years old now and the black stuff has been around for a while but it is really coating all the rocks and wood now.

08-10-2007, 11:00 PM
No worries Rando. All the UV capabilities of that gro light will have long been exhausted by now so time to upgrade I think. Water conditions are a huge contributing factor and the more fish you keep the more diligent you will need to be with filtration and water changes to keep the nitrate levels and the phosphate levels to an acceptable level. Once you start to grow that particular type of algae it is going to grow everywhere including inside the filter. It in itself is harmless if kept under control. If it blooms to the point where the plants can no longer compete for light then the plants will eventually suffer. There is a product on the market known as "PHOS-ZORB" which can be added inside most mechanical filters which can help to take out the phosphates. What sort of filter are you running? If you use a canister filter then you can combine a lot of filter materials to get a combination of mechanical and biological filtration. Highly recommend using products like siporax combined with the filter wool and activated carbon but be warned that if you are using carbon that only the activated carbon should be use as it is treated at extreme temperatures to burn out all the impurities that block it up. The cheap stuff which you can buy that isn't activated is already 90% blocked so it is not very affective. The other thing that you need to bare in mind with carbon is that you cannot re-use it. once it has done its job it should be discarded or you will run the risk of all that is trapped within the carbon breaking down and becoming a very potent pollutant and you can find your fish dying rapidly as a result of an ammonia surge.


Little grey men
09-10-2007, 11:02 AM
Anybody ever had a problem with your plants growing too well. Mine went crazy after I put in one of those special pinkish fluro tubes. I got sick of cutting them back, no light was getting to the bottom of the tank. They've been replaced with artificials now which don't look too bad if you muck around with them. I trimmed them to different shapes so they don't appear as too uniform.
My wife kicked up a stink when I told her what I was doing but now she's quite happy with the result. The tank is a lot easier to keep clean also.