Aquarium Algae

I let my aquarium slip a little after my heart attack. I wasn’t really up to maintaining it as lugging heavy buckets of water around was out of the question. It did OK as it is quite self-sufficient, but it did suddenly get a little overwhelmed with algae after a while.

Balanced Ecosystem

The tank is a heavily planted one. I diffuse CO2 into the water from Soda Stream cylinders so as to promote healthy plant growth. I then rely on the plants to act as natural oxygenators and filters to keep the water purified. If the balance of CO2, nutrients and light is just right it survives as a perfectly balanced little ecosystem.

Whilst my back was turned the CO2 cyclinder ran out and that blance was disrupted. Before long algae started to take over and soon coated almost everything in the tank. The plants then struggled and their oxygenating and purification processes slowed somewhat. Fortunately the fish all seemed unphased and I soon started to address the situation.

I reinstated the CO2 supply, did a series of water changes, introduced some more algae eating shrimps and adjusted the lighting regine. I haven’t quite managed to get on top of the situation yet though. Finding that elusive balance of nutrients, lighting and CO2 supply isn’t easy and the algae still seems to have the upper hand. It’s difficult to get rid of all of it. I clear it our one day but within a day or two it’s back. If left for a week or so it soon coats the plants, carpets the substrate and clings to the glass.

War on Algae

I think it’s time for a concerted war on the algae. I’m going to have to start plunging my arms into the tank every couple of days, removing as much of it as I can. I use a siphon tube as a small vacuum cleaner to do so. This means that I’ll be doing small water changes as well. I’m also in the process of replacing some of the filter media (bit by bit). The filter doesn’t actually do much as it’s on a low setting and the plants take care of most of the filtration. However, while I’m having a war on algae I may as well make sure everything is functioning well.

I might even look into replacing the lights. You can after all get systems that are wi-fi connected and controlled by an app these days!

Plants vs Algae

I want to add some carpeting plants too. The ones that I did have in the foreground of the tank succumbed to the algae infestation so it would be nice to reinstate them at some point.

The Aquascape Today
Carpeting Foreground Plants

The image above show how things looked before my heart attack with a lush carpet of foreground plants. Replacing them won’t be easy though as I initially got these delicate plants established before the tank was fully flooded with water. Getting something similar to grow in this manner now might be difficult. There’s also no point trying yet until I have the algae under control.

This is how things look at the moment.

The Aquarium Today
The Aquarium Today

As you can see, the lush carpet of foreground plants has gone. The Java Fern in the centre of the tank has taken over somewhat. The background plants need replacing now as well. These will be easier to get re-established but again, not until I have the algae under control. I I added them now, the algae would just coat them and make it more difficult to remove. The slow-growing Anubias on the right hand side has grown huge and there are actually a few more of these hiding behind the Java Fern. The Java Moss above the Anubias was removed as it was quite a chore to manage but looking back on the first picture I might add some more again as it did look nice. I also need to re-establish the white gravel ‘path’ through the centre of the aquascape so as to give it some depth.

Lots to do, but I guess that’s part of the fun and challenge. Let’s hope I can post another photo in a few months time with things looking good once again.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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