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BiOrb algae problems and solutions

Algae in the BiOrb

Over the years biorb forum members have asked about algae issues in the biorb. Occasionally asking, is it a fault with the aquarium itself or something else contributing towards it? As with any other aquarium type if the tank is cycled (we recommend fishless), maintained weekly and stocked slowly with suitable fish they have a very good chance of being a long term algae free healthy environment for your fish. Below are a few points that are worth considering/checking if you are strugling with algae, but most importantly if you are at a loss or want some additional advice come and visit us on the biorbforum, there are lots of members willing and happy to help, share their experiences and point you in the direction of stickies for reference.
 

What is algae?

There are different types of aquarium algaes ranging from green water, surfaces covered in green, black or red slime, to something that attaches itself to decor etc resembling hair. Some of the most commonly discussed algaes on the forum are listed below:
 

Brown diatoma algae

This is very common is a newly established aquarium, it will usually wipe off easily and assuming the aquarium is maintained adequatly and stocked sensibly it usually disappears as quickly as it appeared. If you have this appear in a established biorb it can indicate your lights are not on for long enough or excess nutrients are present in the BiOrb.
 

Green water algae

This can be very frustrating and exteremely difficult to eradicate as unless the cause is not rectified it will very quickly grow, even with multiple water changes. It consists of microscopic algae that is suspended in the water coloum. A chemical free solution can be to have a complete tank black out.
 

Blue/green or red slime

This isn't actually a algae itself but a cycnobacteria. It will very quickly cover aquarium sibstrates and decor and can cause water quality to deteriate very rapidly.
 

What causes algae? 

Algae requires a food and or light source to survive and grow. Commonly nitrates and phosphates can be the main contributing factor.
 

Nitrates

Nitrates can become elevated if there is excess food and fish waste in the tank. Another contributor can be over stocking the biorb, stocking too quickly, over feeding and dirty filter sponges. Good tank maintenance is key to keeping all levels in check along with sensible and slowly stocking of the biorb. (you can find detailed information on this on the biorbforum). Some tap waters are high in nitrates, members have found using Seachem denitrate under a orbit filter sponge works with great results.
 

Phosphates

Phosphates can become elevated much the same as nitrates if there is excess food and fish waste in the tank. Another contributor can be over stocking the biorb, stocking too quickly, over feeding and dirty filter sponges. Good tank maintenance is key to keeping all levels in check along with sensible and slowly stocking of the biorb. (you can find detailed information on this on the biorbforum). If running it in the filter, it is also worth checking that you are using a quality brand of activated carbon. A lot of forum members use the Seachem matrix carbon with good effect. Unbranded activated carbons can have excess phosphates in them, there is additional information on the activated carbon page.
 

Common causes of algae growth

Too much light - We recommend to have the ilight on for approximatly 8 hours a day, this will help with minimising algae growth but also replicate what the fish would have in their natural habitat. For safety reasons it is never recommended to house a biorb in direct sunlight however a very bright room can also be a contributing factor, keeping blinds or curtains drawn during the day throughout out the summer months will help greatly.
Elevated Nitrates - Over feeding, over stocking, stocking too quickly, inadequate maintanance and dirty filter sponges will also contribute towards elevated nitrates.
Elevated Phosphates - Activated carbons can leech phosphates into the water, buying a good quality branded activated carbon is recommended. Over feeding, over stocking, inadequate maintanance and dirty filter sponges will also contribute towards elevated phosphates.
 

Combatting algae growth

In the first instance we would recommend to test your source water. (Liquid test kits are more accurate). This will tell you first off if there are issues with your source water quality, in particular elevated nitrates and phosphates. Check your stocking, maintenance and feeding regimes, stocking and maintenance guides can be found on the biorb forum. Check aquarium light levels, sponge and biorb subsrate cleaning. Regular changing of filiter sponge is recommended.
Plants, there are real low light plants that will do really well both with the halogen light or iLight. We have found anubias nana or java fern tied onto decor do well also moss balls, all will feed off nitrates in the biorb and with the added benefit of being easily moved to one side for weekly maintenance and no fiddly planting.
 
If you would like further tips and advice on how to use this BiOrb filter method and all aspects of the biOrb, biOrb Flow, BiUbe, BiOrb Life and BiOrb Halo aquariums please come and join us and post any queries on the biorbforum, we are always happy to help!
 

 

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