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Substrate/Algae Question/Poll

Posted By: Mr Leadfoot <leadfoot@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Tuesday, 29 October 2002, at 6:10 p.m.

OK, I'm hunting down a possible cause of an unsightly thread/beard algae, which is most noticeable on the edges of plant leaves in my tanks, although it is also present to a lesser degree on fake plants, ornaments and on some slate.

While green algae looks very natural to me, this thread algae gives the impression of a dirty environment to me, and I'd rather not have this algae ruining my otherwise clean, crisp aquascape (although some may beg to differ).

Now, in its early stages this specific type of algae looks like fine black threads akin to lint. As it matures, the algae is much more noticeable and tends to bunch together, giving it a beard-like effect, although the threads remain much finer than facial hair. The threads are wispy and become quite long (several inches is not surprising), and not as dense as black hair algae (which when mature looks like ground cover), thus the name "thread" algae.

The algae is not easy to remove by rubbing or even scrubbing with a brush, or algae pad. Interestingly, it is very easy to remove if you grab it and pull it straight off the plant, or whatever else it is clinging to. Weird.

While I suspect the cause of this algae to be high phosphate levels, I have yet to find a phosphate test kit, which would be only the first step in an attempt to control this algae. Now, if this algae is indeed fueled by phosphates, my area's water supply might be high in phosphates compared to other areas, so not all aquarists may see this type of algae. The other possible contributor to this algae might be the type of substrate I use, and/or if substrates can harbor phosphates, which could then build up to levels high enough to accommodate this algae's proliferation.

As you can see, this attempt to find what's causing this problem could be a lengthy one for me, so, I'm turning to the members on this board for some assistance via some relatively quick and easy responses, in the hope that any info might help me reduce the amount of time involved in what's become an endeavor.

Now, I also know there are fish reputed to eat this type of algae, and I acquired an SAE specifically for this purpose, which is q-tine right now, but I'll be treating the symptoms, not addressing the cause. Wouldn't it be nice to know how to get rid of this stuff, especially if you get it in a tank too small to house an SAE?

I would appreciate if you would please answer the following questions. I would also like to hear from those that DON'T have this algae, because information you provide may help me, in case I've overlooked something. Also, please keep in mind that the questions below assume that you keep a relatively clean envionment for your fish, and perform a rota of maintenance tasks such as water changes, and removal of unwanted debris.

1) Have you experienced this type of algae?

2) If so, on what surfaces did/does this algae grow in your tank?

3) Do you have live plants?

4) Do you have gravel, sand, or,...?

5) If gravel, is it epoxy-coated, like the commonly available WonderRock?

6) Do you have a UGF?

7) Is your lighting low, medium or high?

8) How long are your light on?

Comments or suggestions?

Thanks so much for your time.


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