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FAQs on Freshwater Algicide Use

Related Articles: Algae Control in Freshwater Aquariums by Bob Fenner, Dealing With Algae in Freshwater Aquaria by Neale Monks, (some) Algae (in moderation) Can Be Your Friend, ppt presentation, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, by Bob Fenner, Algae Eaters, Otocinclus, Loricariids, Siamese Algae Eaters/Crossocheilus,

Related FAQs: Freshwater Algae 1, Freshwater Algae 2, Algae Control In Aquarium Gardens 1, & Freshwater Algae Identification, FW Blue-Green Algae, FW Algicides, Algae Eaters, Aquarium Maintenance, Freshwater Aquarium Water Quality, Treating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease,

Post septicemia Ryukin     5/14/13
My 2 yr old Ryukin seems to have gotten septicemia post trying an algicide
<... toxic; not worth "it"... As gone over and over on WWM.>
 the pet store recommended. I didn't want to treat him with antibiotics if not necessary so I did 50% water change and put in stress Zyme as well as a new filter pack.
 He seemed to be on the mend losing his red streaks and coming up from the bottom but today I noticed he has lost a patch if scales and has become "twitchy" at times. He is still a little more lethargic then normal and being "antisocial" but is eating and better then a few days ago. He is a single goldfish in a ten gallon tank
<Needs, or will need more room than this. Goldfish are sensitive to metabolite accumulation; and very messy>
with a generic filter which I change at least once a month but do frequent small water changes. I have live plants ( java ferns) and a couple small aquarium pieces. Should I just get the antibiotics???
<Mmm, no; won't help and may hurt>
 I am not noticing any fungus or external parasites.
<?... Bob Fenner>

Suddenly sick cichlid, iatrogenic    7/14/12
We have a 60 gallon tank with one Pleco (maybe 12 or 14 inches long),
<Needs more room than this>

 2 blood parrot cichlids, and one convict cichlid. PH is 7.8, Ammonia = 0, Nitrite = 0, Nitrate = 20+.
<Keep under 20 ppm. See WWM re>

Temperature is stable between 77 - 80. I noticed some algae growth around the white plastic parts of the Fluvia canister filtration system. The tank has been set up since about May and has been pretty stable, though the nitrates occasionally slip up to almost 40 where they were when I noticed the algae. I did a water change and left town two days later for a week. I used an automatic fish feeder while I was gone, set to feed twice per day. It is not the best process and the amount of food is not consistent, but I watched it for a week before and it seemed okay.
When I got back, I had full on algae bloom. I still did not see a lot of algae growth on surfaces, but the water was very green. The fish were fine, healthy looking, swimming and visiting with us, and eating the pellets and bloodworms we offered. I tested the water and everything was the same with nitrates back up around 40, PH at 8.0 and everything else at 0. I did two partial water changes which helped lower the nitrates, but did nothing to minimize the algae bloom. Two days ago, I did a 50% water change and added Algaefix.
<A mistake; toxic... PLEASE search ahead of writing us>

 Last night our convict got erratic and flapped crazily across the top of the tank. Then he returned to normal, but his feeding was off.
Today, he won't eat at all. He has gone downhill all day. This morning he was mostly swimming normally, now he is laying on the bottom of the isolation tank we put him in. His color was normal, now seems a little light. We did not notice any unusual white, now he seems to be a little powdery or velvety. His breathing is getting more and more labored.
We put him (might be a her, we don't know) in a separate tank and added Maracyn.
<Of no use here>
 I've researched many things online and don't have a good resource locally that we know of. All that I've read has rendered me quite confused.
Do I add salt or not?
<.... see WWM...>
Do I use Parasite Guard or not? Do cichlid  pellets and flakes provide enough vegetable food or do I need to ensure the fish get more (when he starts eating if I am able to save him)?
Thanks for your site and any help you can offer in this situation.
<You've written a good record of the causes of the troubles here. Too much NO3 (and likely other nutrients) due to... insufficient filtration, maintenance... Poisoning of the system w/ the algicide... Fix the environment here... Bob Fenner>

fancy goldfish, Algicide use 3/4/11
<p>Hello, I obtain Fancy Goldfish and am wondering if utilizing Jungles No More Algae Tank Buddies is/are compatible with my Fancy &amp; Black Moors Goldfish. I would like to see if so, so that I can rid my tank of algae but I do not wish to hurt my fish- I enjoy them very much.<br><br><br></p>
<p>Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android</p>
<Is too toxic... see WWM... the search tool... re chemical Algicides for freshwater use period. Bob Fenner>

Follow up question after research (RMF, does Photo_111909_003.jpg look familiar?) 11/20/09
<<Does... microbial of some sort, as you state. B>>
After searching the web, I found one brief reference on your website to "circular white spots with hollow center" that I believe applies to my problem. (See Re: Freshwater Community Tank 7/9/09, answered by Neale) This exchange what makes me believe what we have is a fungus, but I don't see a confirmation of what kind & what the harm may be nor how to treat.
<They do look like either fungal or bacterial moulds. Not sure which. But either way, does imply pretty ghastly conditions inside the tank in terms of filtration. Fungi and bacteria feed on organic matter, and to get colonies as obvious as this takes some doing!>
We have a 135gal tank that's been set up for approx 60 days that started an algae growth. The odd thing is what you will see in the photos...those white circular patches which appear on every surface & appear to be clearing/eating the algae. We are not new to fish keeping but this is a new problem for us & we want to treat it correctly.
<I have never seen anything like this before. It certainly isn't common!>
We only have two Severums & a Gourami in there right now, so it is definitely not overstocked/overfed.
<And yet something is feeding these fungi/bacteria...>
We have cut the lights way back & cleaned the front of the tank so we could see in! The concern is that it is a fungus or something harmful to the fish. They still appear healthy.
<Unlikely to be directly harmful, but it's worth mentioning that things like Aeromonas spp. bacteria that break down organic matter under normal circumstances can become pathogens when the immune system of fish becomes compromised. So again, there's an issue here that needs to be resolved.>
Will just cleaning & controlling the algae get rid of the problem or do we need to use some other treatment?
<I'd take a long, hard look at the system. I'd check a few things. Is the filter turnover rate adequate to the size of the tank? For big fish like yours, that's something upwards of 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. Does the filter have enough useful media? Carbon and zeolite are largely redundant in systems of this type, but biological and mechanical media are important, and both should be cleaned/replaced on a regular basis (every 6 weeks or so, perhaps more often if the filter clogs up quickly). How deep is the substrate? Unless you have an undergravel filter or are growing plants with roots (pointless with Severums, but I'd mention it) then the gravel need only be just deep enough to cover the glass. Anything above that can trap faeces, uneaten food, etc. Is there anything "rotten" in the tank? A classic source of fungi is non-cured bogwood; as the wood decays, fungi sprout. Is the water silty? If you're using sand rather than gravel, if the sand wasn't cleaned well, silt gets trapped on everything, making things look white and murky.>
Thank you!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Follow up question after research... FW, microbial, colonial growths 11/21/09
I forwarded your reply (thank you, Neale) to my husband so he could check the specs you mentioned on the tank and filtration. His information is below:
A few more explanations about the system.
The tank is currently filtered by an AC110 and a Rena XP3, we also have a MaxiJet 1200 (295GPH) with sponge intake recirculating lower level water.
Substrate is 3M ColorQuart about .5-1" Deep. There is approx. 6 Medium pieces of Malaysian Driftwood. This system was running in a 46Gallon tank for at least a year (well the AC110, the Rena was added). We moved into the new tank keeping the media.
<As stated before, bogwood can be a source of organic matter. If you see white threads growing copiously on the wood, then that's one very probable source. Take the wood out and allow it to soak (cure) somewhere else until no fungus remains. This takes quite a while, which is why bogwood is expensive. An old approach is to stick the wood in the cistern of a lavatory for a few months. This will ensure it is constantly flushed with clean water.>
The new tank was doing great for 3 weeks. I then installed my new T-5 Lighting and the brown algae bloom started, followed by a green bloom. I cut back the lighting duration. I noticed the white spots just prior to dialing back lighting duration.
<Light isn't a factor here.>
There is no carbon in the system, only filter pads, ceramic rings, and sponges.
This is my first closed filtration system in a long time, (5+ years). Most of my tanks use trickle filters.
This tank is up for only 8 weeks (mind you using previous tank filtration and decorations), so there is minimal left over waste nor a rotting carcass.
Most interesting is that these white rings definitely are attacking the algae bloom. The fish seem to be as happy as ever. No appetite loss, no change in swim behavior.
<Good to know.>
With tank location I can watch the fish behavior for 2 hours min a day. The tank gets no direct sunlight. Tank temperature is at 75 degrees. No rings appear anywhere that there is no algae. After a closer look the rings appear to be brown algae related. Some rings have expanded past green algae, but the green algae remains, however no brown algae remains inside any ring on the tank.
Since the tank sits in a dark room it was light for 10 hours a day. That has been reduced to 4 hours.
<I would add some floating plants like Indian Fern, and offer good lighting for 10 hours. If nothing else, the Ferns will absorb nutrients from the water.>
Water changes are weekly 25-33% though sometimes it goes 2 weeks. Filters alternate cleaning so every couple weeks each filter gets cleaned.
I knew that regular water changes were being done & that we were running two filters. my husband's very good about staying on top of that & I'm glad he could provide more details about the system.
Do you have any additional thoughts? I did read where fungus & algae can be symbiotic, but I couldn't find anything specifically relating to an aquarium.
<These symbioses are what we call Lichens, and these aren't applicable to aquarium conditions. Among other things, few Lichens are aquatic.>
I guess because it's not common there is not much readily available information. any additional suggestions/advice is welcomed.
<What I would do is take out the fish, stick them in a big bucket. I'd take the filters off the tank, and ideally have them running using water from another bucket. If that isn't possible, I'd take the biological media out from them and lay these in a tub of water so they're just covered, and that means they get oxygen so won't die back. I'd thoroughly clean (maybe replace) mechanical media in the filters. I'd then deep clean the aquarium.
I'd replace the substrate if possible with plain vanilla gravel, but if that isn't what you want to do, I would thoroughly clean the substrate you have using hot water. I'd scrub the glass of the tank, wiping away as much of the gunk as I could. Use things like vinegar, lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide if you need some extra help wiping away stubborn stains. I'd then put the whole thing back together, and hope for the best. More specifically, I'd do everything possible to prevent a reoccurrence.>
Thanks, Julie
<Cheers, Neale.>

Red Ear Sliders question, sys., Algicide use 11/20/09
I have two baby red ear slider turtles in a 10-gallon tank with an overflow filter and a UVB lamp that is on 10 -12 hours a day. The rocks in the tanks are getting lots of algae and I was wondering if it's safe to put
algaecide in the water.
<Neither safe nor sensible. Using an Algicide is like vacuuming a carpet:
it gets rid of the dirt that's there, but doesn't stop the dirt coming right back. Total waste of money. Algae will grow in any tank with adequate light and moisture. The spores come in via the air and presumably drinking water, as well as attached to whatever rocks, filter media, animals you have. The best approach is simply to accept it, and wipe away with a sponge or plastic scrubber whatever is excessive. Nothing you can do with chemicals will stop it coming back. Installing some fast-growing floating plants like Indian Fern will dramatically improve things, and prevent algal grown below the waterline. Algae becomes a pest when there's an imbalance between the number/size of the animals, the amount of plants, and the volume of the water. Big tanks that are lightly stocked and have lots of fast-growing plants rarely have algae problems. The further you are away from that ideal, the more likely algae problems become.>
The local pet shops don't know the answer to that question, so I figured I'd ask you guys. Took the whole thing apart yesterday and cleaned it, but the algae will be back before I know it.
<Indeed it will. As you presumably realise, a 10-gallon tank is adequate for at most three or four months where Sliders are concerned. As they grow, they pollute more and more, and the more nitrate and phosphate in the water, the faster the algae grows. Within a year or two, your two Sliders will need a tank 55 gallons or more. Do not underestimate their growth rate, and do not ignore the fact males are very aggressive.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Questions. Always with the questions. FW Algae learning 4/25/08 I have a l55 gallon freshwater tank that's currently inhabited by 13 Neon Tetras and 3 Platies and a number of live plants. I know this isn't the best combination of fish, but I didn't realize that when I started out and bought the poor buggers. Eventually I'll separate the Neon's into a smaller plant less tank (with some Cory's too), but not until I've fixed the problems in the current one. By problems, I mainly mean a persistent algae bloom that I can "control" through frequent water changes and the heavy use of a diatom filter. Basically, I do a 30% to 40% water change, pop in the filter, leave it in for a few days and then take it out. A few days after that, when the algae bloom is really starting to gain ground again, I repeat the process. <Ahhh> I've taken the following actions to control the algae bloom. They all seem to work a little bit, but none of them by themselves or in concert vanquishes the green stuff. - Repeated dosing with Algaefix, an algaecide by API. <A poor idea...> This worked to an extent but never eradicated the bloom entirely. I can get better effect by using the diatom filter, so I've stopped with the Algaefix dosing entirely. <Good> - Restriction of the fish to an every other day feeding cycle, and being stingy with the food on the day they get fed. Poor fish, they always seem so hungry. The idea here was that if the cause of the bloom was from excess nutrients in the water coming in via excess feeding, restricting the amount of food provided would reduce the level of nutrients to a point where the bloom would go away. - Reduction of the amount of light to the bare minimum necessary to keep the plants from dying. Originally I had two 40W Aqua-Glo fluorescent bulbs. I found that if I dialed the timer back to where the bulbs were only on 8 hours a day, the bloom would grow slowly enough that I could go nearly an entire week before it got to a point where the diatom filter was needed. I subsequently replaced one of the aqua-glo's with a sun-Glo (4200K) which is not supposed to have the correct wavelengths of light to stimulate photosynthesis so that I could leave the lights on for longer than 8 hours. The algae bloom is a bit stronger now, but that could be because of the longer days now that we're heading towards summer. - Frequent monitoring of the level of ammonia, nitrates, pH, KH and GH. I know from my monitoring that the tank's *pH* is a rock solid 7.8 and that the *ammonia and nitrate* levels are pretty much zero as near as I can tell (thanks to the algae, likely). <All good...> So, with all this information, I've been able to narrow down the source of the algae bloom to one of three causes. (1) The artificial lighting. The thing is, I know that most people with planted tanks have much higher light intensities than what my tank has, so the artificial lights cannot, by themselves be the source of the problem. If that was the case, then everyone who had a planted tank with a higher intensity than mine would be having exactly the same problem that I am. (2) Light coming in from a nearby window. I knew it wasn't a great idea, but I installed my tank near a window. The thing is, the window is underneath a second story deck and never gets direct light except during the summer and even then only in the hours before sunset. Even then, there's never direct sunlight on the tank. There's a window shade that, while not opaque, does reduce the intensity of the light that does come in. So, it's entirely possible that the source of my problem is the light coming in from the window and the only solution is to move the tank. Boy, I really don't want to do that. (3) The third possibility is that there's too much phosphate in the water. I went out and bought a phosphate test kit and found that my tank water has a phosphate concentration of around 0.5 ppm. <This is high> I thought this was odd, as I hardly feed my fish at all and do frequent water changes. Besides, the algae does a great job of keeping the nitrate levels down near zero so why wouldn't it do the same with the phosphate? <Not a/the rate-limiting factor... is in excess relatively> In a flash of insight I thought to check my tapwater, and lo and behold it has a phosphate concentration of 0.5 ppm. <Ah, yes> So, I have a couple of courses of action and I wanted your advice on a couple of things. As I see it, I can move the tank to as far from a window as I can get it and I can buy some sort of system to get rid of the phosphate in the tapwater. <Is what I'd do, in addition to... boosting competition with the use of other photosynthates... plants> I'd prefer to do neither, but before I do either I want to know if one is contributing more to the problem than the other. So, here's my questions for you folks: (1) Is a phosphate concentration of 0.5 ppm by itself enough to cause a persistent algae bloom like I'm describing? <Mmm, along with other factors, yes> (2) There's this stuff out there called Phos-Zorb. The idea is that I can put it in a filter and use it to pull all the phosphates out of the water in the tank. If I then maintain the water level of the tank with distilled water for a while, I should be able to see whether removal of the phosphate alone takes care of the problem. Is doing this with the Phos-Zorb a good idea, or am I somehow going to kill my fish or something by using this stuff? <Better to go the longer-haul-fix of getting, using a blend of RO water... and for you to use the RO as well for your drinking, cooking purposes> (3) If removal of the Phos-Zorb takes care of the problem, what sort of RO/DI system do I need to get. <Mmm, just a "cheapy" from a large hardware store... learning to divert the "stored" water nightly to a container for water change use...> I gather that an RO system by itself doesn't remove Phosphates and that I need a specific resin to take care of phosphates, but I can't really tell from your FAQ's what specifically I want. Here in the NW we have extremely soft water. I have to add salt to the water I put in the tank to keep the Platies alive. Otherwise, they die quite quickly. <Mmm... I'd look into other means of raising the bar here... on alkalinity> Anyhow, thanks in advance for your advice. You guys were great when I was having problems (the soft water issue) with my platies a few months ago. Regards, Aaron Cooke <A bit more reading on the use of simple aquatic plants (perhaps just Ceratopteris floating... or Myriophyllum... the RO device, time going by, perhaps a bit more circulation, mechanical filtration (the addition of a large hang on or canister filter...) I wouldn't get into the chemical filtrant habit. Bob Fenner>

Staghorn Algae, FW 3/3/07 Hello Crew: I've searched your website but can't find any information specific to "staghorn algae". Is there another name for this? <I have seen references to Compsopogon sp. being a possible name. I'm not really sure though, as my last search led me to an article about marine algae> I am encountering considerable trouble with excessive growth of staghorn algae. I have tried reducing the amount of light the tank receives and have cut the light time to 10 hours per day. I have tried using Algumin from Tetra (active ingredient: Simazine) <I am not familiar with this. Some sort of algicide perhaps?> <<Yes... and toxic... the principal ingredient in a few pet-fish and pond algae "remedies". RMF>> to no effect. I have tried frequent water changes and removal by hand as well as removing infested plant leaves. <Removing the leaves is one suggested course of action> I do not seem to be having an impact and it is getting worse and starting to grow everywhere. The tank has two Plecostomus and 4 Otocinclus, but they don't seem to be eating it. The aquarium does not get exposure to direct sunlight. <I have heard that rosy barbs (Barbus conchonius) will do the trick here, but I cannot verify that.> Water parameters are: ammonia: 0 ppm nitrite: 0 ppm nitrate: 25 ppm pH: 7.5 I am running out of ideas to try and combat this problem. Is there any other course of action I can take to reduce the growth of this particular type of algae? The tank lighting consists of two 18W florescent bulbs. One has a 10,000 K spectrum (Sylvania AquaStar) and the other is a special grow-light (Sylvania Gro lux) with spectral peaks at about 400, 420, 550, 600 and 650 nm. <What you have here is a nutrient imbalance that is favoring the algae. Try increasing the level of chelated iron, free nitrogen, phosphate, potash, and dissolved C02 in the water. Also your lighting is way less than optimal for plants. Even if you had a 10 gallon tank you would be just scratching the surface. A general rule of thumb is 2-4 watts per gallon. Or 30 watts per square foot of surface area. Obviously this is going to be higher if the water is dark due to dissolved tannins, perhaps lower depending on the species of plant, much higher if you have swords. Try increasing the water flow in the tank with a small powerhead or two. Read here, > Any suggestions would be most welcome as it is becoming quite the problem. <See above. http://aquaria.net/articles/plants/barr-dose/, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/groplts101.htm, and http://www.thekrib.com I hope that you find this helpful, Brandon.>

I am having problems BIG problems... self-induced... algicide, FW livestock In my bedroom tank which we call the "Love Shack" as opposed to the tank in my living room which is called "Death Row"... <Heee! Leave me in the bedroom!> ...any way LS is having problems, first of all DR had an algae problem because my husband kept opening the patio blinds in the mornings. Then I got some algae fix... <Yikes, dangerous... toxic> ...and we did a 50% water change, but I used some of the water to start the LS before the algae problem became apparent. So now the LS is cloudy as all get out and I do not know what else to do. I have done a 50 % water change, I have tried algae fix as well as tank cleaner where it gets all the organic stuff to clump together. <Counterproductive... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the related files above...> So far no go. In the tank I have 2 blue Haps 2 Yellow cichlids, 4 barbs, 1 Betta, 2 Balas, 2 snails, and my pride and joy Freshwater white cheeked Moray. His name is Hang Loose. <Quite a mix... you realize the Moray is not really freshwater? Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmorayeels.htm and the...> I love him to death. I am somewhat of an invalid and when I wake up in the morning he is right there by my side. He eats ghost shrimp, brine shrimp, and a little mussel as I can see it. Can I make the water brackish? <Now with the other animals you list... the world is vast, animals of environmental condition ranges that do not overlap...> If so how? Will it hurt the other fish? How can I get the water unclouded???? Thank you for your advice.

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