Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Aquascaping Answers: Algae Free

Each week in Aquascaping Answers, I do my best answering your aquascaping and aquascaping related questions. Just leave your question in the comments section!

This week's questions both deal with common misconceptions. The first is probably going to be a bit of a let down, but at least you know you aren't doing anything wrong!

When you're working with CO2 setups with proper fertilizer dosing, can you eliminate algae? When I see pictures, I never even seen specs of green dust algae on the glass. Is this because of the good tank balance or are people putting their best foot forward and cleaning up the tank prior to photo shoots?

When you see pictures of an aquascape online for a competition or just for show, most of the time you won't see any algae at all. This is achieved through proper fertilizer dosing and lighting, but also via manual removal and maintenance before the photo is taken. It is almost impossible to create an aquarium setup without algae. Algae is natural will always be present. Dosing correctly and keeping your tank in "balance" will keep algae in check and minimize (but not eliminate) it. Often, manual algae removal is required as that last extra step to make a balanced tank really sparkle. I don't know anyone who doesn't scrape down the glass now and then. It's just a part of keeping a planted aquarium. Keeping a well balanced aquarium just means you have to do it much less often.

Could you post some more info on stocking Planted Tanks? Like, not recommended fish/algae eaters, but post what bio-load of fish Planted tank are good with?

There are many differing opinions on stocking levels for aquariums, it's best to do, but the general rule of thumb is about 1 gallon for every 1 inch of fish. Some fish are dirtier than others though, so you'll have to adjust this slightly. Also, remember to determine the gallons per fish based on the full size of the fish, not what size it is now! For planted tanks, this rule relaxes, but only slightly. I wouldn't push it much beyond this stocking limit, even with lots of plants. So if you have 25 inches of fish to house, I wouldn't try to cram that in anything smaller than a 20 gallon with lots of plants.

Ask a question about aquascaping, keeping aquatic plants, plant-friendly fish, lighting, CO2, fertilizing, or any other aquarium plant related question in the comments to this post, and I'll answer them in next week's edition.


  1. what about a post for beginners trying to find an affordable way to light their planted tank? Lights can be rather expensive and all the options are daunting. Can screw-in type compact fluorescent bulbs be used? Address questions like that.

    I've been researching planted tanks for a while and am hoping to plant my 29 gallon tank in the near future, so thanks for the blog!

  2. Thank you for a terrific blog! I've just started to set up my first planted tank. Soon I will be adding fish.

    I once read an article about a guy who tried to maintain a planted aquarium. He overstocked it with fish, made some bad choices about plants. When algae showed up he did almost everything wrong leading to the death of the entire tank, plants as well as fish.
    So in his second attempt he decided that every plant and every fish he put in the tank was going to be there for a purpose. He used different fishes for keeping different algea in check. He choose different plants for their appetite of different nutirents, and he mixed heavy bottom feeder with water feeders. His goal was an aquarium which functioned similar to a small eco-system.

    If I could find that article again, I wouldn't ask about it here. But unfortunatly it's lost in cyberspace...

    So my question is:
    What fishes (or other organisms) can be beneficial to your tank and what fishes should you try to avoid? (for example what fishes will eat the leaves, root up the plants or pollute the water?)

    / Nils from Sweden

  3. Very good post. Man y beginners think "algae free" means totally nil algae whatsoever, when the fact is as you have stated that all tanks always have some algae here and there.

    Even the picture you posted could be analyzed if it was higher resolution and you would see some algae.

    The good condition of the plants and the low resolution of the picture fools the eye so you only see the awesomeness of the plants.

    I have seen newcomers complain about certain algae on some plants and when they show pictures of them it's tiny specs blown up with a macro objective on an old leaf, but if they take a step back and display the whole tank you can't even see it.

  4. What about an article on using Leaf Litter in Aquascaping? Or, aquascaping a Coldwater aquarium?


Popular Posts



Planted Aquarium Books