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Posted By: greg <gregandeileen@juno.com>
Date: Tuesday, 6 August 2002, at 2:02 p.m.

I am forever amazed that despite the number of years I have been doing this I still learn new things all the time. About a third from reading, about a third from others, and about a third from plain dumb luck!

Ever since I went with the dual UF/powerheads and powerfilter system, my algae problems have dropped way off. I still have a small amount, but I don't sweat it. The truth is a small amount of healthy green algae is good for the water- it eats the last-stage nitrates out of the water. But I always though it would be nice if there was some way to keep it off the glass and silk plants- less cleaning at the bi-weekly cleaning!

I used to have some of the plastic stack-rocks. They were OK- I built a small cave for the Clowns. But when algae grew on them the algae-eaters could not clean the plastic- the algae grew into the pores of the plastic, and I would have to scrub the stack off once in a while.

About four months ago, I wanted to add some real river rocks. I went to the landscape yard (where I buy most of my decor) and sorted through a huge pile of natural smooth river rock. I chose darker pieces, all about 4-6" diameter and somewhat flattened (for stacking) Nice stuff! And all for $6.

When I got home, after washing the rock I built my Clowns a nice rock formation- about 2' long, 3 layers high, and full of loach motels. They moved in within hours, and stay there during the day (the holes are shallow enough you can see them, but they are happy because they are in the shade.)

As I expected, in about two months the rocks had a nice patina of green algae-growth. But I noticed the cleaners could buff them clean- the rocks are smooth enough the algae can't grow inside the pores. So there is a nice balance of algae growing there, with the algae eaters being able to feast on nice green, soft algae.

But a great thing happened. The rocks are so friendly to algae growth (lots of 'fish-stuff' in the rock formation!) they are an absolute algae magnet. The algae on these rocks seems to be removing ALL the nitrates from the water. Why? Almost zero algae is growing on my silk plants, on the glass or in/on the filters! I mean about zero!

So the loaches get caves, the tank looks better, and almost all the algae grows on this formation, which the cleaners keep under control. And the greatest part is the formation looks better with a slight coating of algae- very "under-water" natural!

If you want to duplicate this, buy rock that is NATURAL smooth river rock. It should be very smooth so the algae can't grow into the pores. And if it is river rock, it most likely will have no reactivity and cause Ph shift.

As I said, sometimes you learn things from dumb-luck. I spent $6 to decorate the tank better as a river bottom, and give the (spoiled) Clowns caves to live in, but I ended up with a much better ecosystem for the entire tank, and much less cleaning!! GREG

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