Tuesday, January 15, 2013

So This is Embarrassing...

One goal of the Vicki's Angelfish blog (named after one of my book characters, Vicki Boyd, whose front as a CIA Agent is a freshwater angelfish breeder) is to provide good information to folks around the world who want to successful keep or raise angelfish.

So imagine my embarrassment when one day quite out of the blue, the water in my infant tank turned green.

I was changing 25% of the water every three days. In my other tanks, I usually replace 25% of the water once a week. But the one I cleaned the most had an algae outbreak.

I took an empty water bottle, filled it with water from the tank, and brought it to my local pet shop, Carroll's Pets in Lumberton, North Carolina. The great folks who own the store, Carroll and Shelli, tested my water.

Ph was a bit high for angels, above 7.0, but in the acceptable range.

Nitrates were at zero.

Nitrites were at zero.

Ammonia was at zero.

But then Shelli tested for phosphates.

It was extremely high.

High phosphates will not harm the fish unless the situation gets out of control and in fact, my angels have been thriving. They are very healthy, always hungry (a great sign of good health) and have very high fins, a sign they have a plenty of space to grow and flourish. But the down side of high phosphates is it often results in an algae bloom, which can be very difficult to eradicate. (More on that in a moment.)

So, how did it get there?

It turns out that some communities have old water pipes. Instead of replacing the pipes, which can be costly, the water treatment professionals add chemicals to clean out all the gunk that builds up in the pipes. The result: high phosphate levels.

How to get rid of it:

The most important factor is to keep the water clean. This meant up to 75% water changes every 2-3 days, replacing the high phosphate water with new, clear water. I have no decorations in the tank, as this is an infant tank - very small babies that I need to be able to see, which can be difficult with decorations. Tomorrow I'll discuss cleaning decorations that have heavy algae.

Secondly, I purchased Purigen, which is made by Seachem. It's a great algae reducer. You measure out the required amount, add it to a mesh bag, and drop it into your filter. In my Eheim filter, I used it as one of the layers. As it absorbs the phosphates, it turns from an off-white color to brown. You can rinse it off and reuse it, but it's just as easy and inexpensive to replace it. My local pet shop, Carroll's Pets, carried it so I took it home that day and added it to my tank. I also added it as a precaution to every tank.

It has taken a couple of weeks but the water is noticeably clearer than it was during the algae bloom.

Tomorrow: what to do if your decorations have high concentrations of algae on them.