Employee blogs written by Paul Pinto

Oh No! Algae?!

»Posted by on Apr 12, 2018 in Blog, Paul P | Comments Off on Oh No! Algae?!

Oh No! Algae?! written by Paul Pinto   Getting an outbreak of algae is definitely one of, if not the most annoying problem you can encounter when running a planted aquarium. Algae comes in many different shapes and forms from free floating green algae that will make your tank look like Ecto-Cooler, to hair algae that will form a carpet over your decor and plants. I’ll go over some of my favorite aquarium way to help control some of the most common nuisance algae. First, a disclaimer: No aquarium inhabitant should be your first choice when combating an algae outbreak. While some algae growth in any aquarium is normal excessive algae growth is indicative that there is a deeper underlying problem with the aquarium usually either too much light or too many nutrients in the water for the algae to feed on. Generally speaking, a planted aquarium should receive anywhere between 6-12 hours of light a day; running more than that can cause excess algae. If you are running your light for this amount of time and are still getting excess algae, your light may be too intense for your tank. This can be fixed by dimming your light if possible or reducing the amount the lights are on. Plants need about 4 hours of light to photosynthesize properly so you can reduce the light levels to this amount for a period of a few weeks to combat algae. Alternatively, you can completely blackout the tank for 48-72 hours; the plants will survive in darkness for a few days but many algae will not. Excess nutrients can come from two main sources in a planted aquarium: fertilizers and dissolved organics. Many people run into algae problems when they overdo it with adding fertilizers into the tank; this causes a build-up of components that if not utilized by the plants WILL be used by an algae in the water. Over feeding your plants will lead the same consequences as over feeding your fish. Try cutting back or cutting out feeding your plants for a few weeks while also doing large water changes to control the algae. Dissolved organics come from fish and plant waste. While a small amount of organics will help feed your plants, a build-up of waste if either your filter or substrate will cause excessive algae growth. To fix this simply make sure your filters and substrate are clean and free of waste. On top of this, increasing the amount of carbon in the water can help make growth more favorable for the plants. Generally speaking plants need higher amounts of carbon in the water to photosynthesize than algae does. This can be achieved through pressurized CO2 systems or dosing a liquid carbon (Flourish Excel). Flourish Excel can be dosed as much as a 4x dose to help kill off algae. This must be done carefully over the course of a few weeks; dosing daily, and increase the dosage by 50% every few days (1x, 1.5x, 2x, etc.). Even if you have everything in check you may still get some algae, every planted aquarium will benefit from having some inhabitants that will help algae growth on your plants and decor in check. A few of my favorites are: Otocinclus These little guys stay at 1.5-2″ an are excellent algae eaters. They are sensitive to poor water quality and swings in water parameters so they should only be added to well matured tanks and acclimated slowly. They are schooling fish so a group of at least 6 is best.    Bushynose Plecos Bushynose Plecos are great because they will not eat plants and do not get as large as most other plecos, staying a 4-5″. They are amazing algae eaters and will eat algae throughout their lives. Heed caution when putting these guys in smaller tanks or tanks with delicate plants, as they tend to bulldoze through the environment uprooting smaller plants.    Nerite Snails Nerites are the best snail for eating algae eating non-stop, they are great for smaller tanks where an algae eating fish might not be feasible. They are also not able to reproduce in freshwater so you do not need to worry about them over running your tank.    Japonica Shrimp Japonica or Amano Shrimp are great for eating algae off of the leaves of your plants and decor. They will also eat small amounts of hair algae. Being larger than most other freshwater shrimp you usually do not need to worry about other small fish trying to eat them.   Siamese Algae Eaters Siamese Algae Eaters are great for hair and bush algae, they will often eat long...

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High-Tech versus Low-Tech Planted Aquariums

»Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Blog, Education, Freshwater Fish, Paul P | Comments Off on High-Tech versus Low-Tech Planted Aquariums

High-Tech versus Low-Tech Planted Aquariums   By Paul Pinto   You may have heard the terms “low-tech” or “high-tech” when referring to planted aquariums, so lets take a minute to define these terms. “High-tech” or “low-tech” is a reference to the amount of light and nutrients that are being added into the aquarium. A “high-tech” aquarium is defined by the use of high intensity lighting, pressurized CO2 injections, and a daily nutrient dosing regiment. In a low-tech aquarium pressurized CO2 injections are not used, the lighting is low to medium intensity, and it may or may not have a daily nutrient dosing regiment. Remember, there is a difference between a planted aquarium and an aquarium with plants in it. A planted aquarium is usually heavily planted, has a substrate formulated for plant growth, and the focus of the tank is based around the plants. There are of course pros and cons on both ends of the spectrum. In a “high-tech” aquarium you can expect rapid growth and very vibrant colors from your plants. Certain plants, such as Dwarf Baby Tears, will only thrive in a “high-tech” aquarium due to their demanding light and nutrient requirements. However, a “high-tech” planted aquarium will be more labor intensive and time consuming to maintain. Due to the rapid growth of the plants nutrients will be used up much more rapidly, so a daily nutrient dosing schedule is a must and large (25-50%) water changes should be conducted weekly or bi-weekly to maintain proper nutrient levels. Pressurized CO2 injection is a must with these conditions to meet the needs of the rapidly growing plants. Without proper CO2 levels the high amounts of light and nutrients will turn your tank into an algae farm. “Low-tech” planted aquariums will be easier to maintain since slower plant growth can usually be expected. Slower growth means fewer nutrients, less plant pruning, and fewer water changes are required. However, there are a number of plant species that will not tolerate these “low-tech” conditions and may either grow very slowly or not grow at all. Also, some plants may not exhibit the bright reds or purples they would have in a “high-tech” aquarium. Nutrient dosing in a “low-tech” aquarium can be done daily, but is more often done weekly or not at all depending on the bio-load of the tank, the growth of the plants, and the total amount of plants in the aquarium. CO2 injection is normally not necessary in a “low-tech” set-up due to fewer nutrients and light but it can help the plants if you do chose to do so. Many people will choose to dose with an organic carbon source regularly or use a sugar and yeast system in lieu of pressurized CO2. Both styles of planted aquariums can be beautiful and rewarding when maintained correctly. Having a “high-tech” planted aquarium is not for everyone, as it requires more dedication to maintain, but the vibrant colors and vigorous growth make it well worth the effort. A “low-tech” planted aquarium, however, is relatively simple to maintain. A “low-tech” planted aquarium is a great choice for beginners or people who love the look of a planted tank but don’t want to deal with the time investment of a high-tech aquarium. Stop into the store today and talk to one of our associates about which set up works best for...

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