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Can I fight hair algae with more plants?

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I have a variety of fish tanks. For most, the primary plant is guppy grass because it grows voraciously in my water. But in all the tanks where guppy grass is the primary plant, hair algae is also ruling supreme. The two go together like gin and tonic from what I can tell. Tanks are all different but somewhat mediocre lights, same water, some on timers and some not. None of these seem to correlate. 

Tanks that do not have hair algae do have other types of algae. One has carbon and guppies and no algae like ever which is also weird to me, maybe I should just try more carbon in more tanks. One has cichlids and loaches and lots of red plants and grows a sort of patina algae but never hair. One has grown mass staghorn algae but rarely any hair algae, and also sports a higher percentage of red plants. Another only has moss growing, fairly crap lights, and no hair algae.

I’m guessing my water has decent nutrients and in the tanks where it’s just guppy grass, the grass is leaving too much over and boom, happy algae. When the guppy grass grows under high light it turns bright red easily; other plants retain red well even with crappier lights. Is it possible that in tanks with redder plants they’re absorbing more iron that would otherwise help hair algae thrive?

or, should I just pony up and get timers for everything and go from there? I clearly want the answer to be more red plants. Far more fun to buy and install. 

Edited by RovingGinger
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As part of a plant community devoted to figuring out what makes for the healthiest hair algae for long term growth I'd have to say, I don't know. But you have got me thinking about red now. And hair algae. And even red hair algae. I hope that doesn't become a thing.🙂

No more red plants? No, more red plants!

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Sounds like you have algae control through nutrient competition down but there is a 'wildcard'. Allelopathy!

Although I'm not a fan of Walstad there is some value in her book. Book quoted below.

"Different species of plants produce different allelochemicals. Ditto for algae. Thus, the possibilities for unpredictable interactions in the home aquarium are truly enormous."

"Allelopathy may explain the unexplainable..."


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Hey, what's wrong with red hair?

The tanks that confuse me the most are my livebearer tank and cichlid/loach tank. They're right next to each other on the same light timer running similar lights (NICREW). But the cichlid/loach tank has zero hair algae, not sure I've ever spotted it in there, while the livebearer tank has quite a bit and grows more very quickly. 

Livebearer tank was started with guppy grass. Cichlid tank was started with mostly red/brown crypts and what I think is brazilian pennywort. Now it sports a wide variety of plants, lots of reddish options. All plants present in the livebearer tank are also present in the cichlid tank, but not all plants in the cichlid tank are also present in the livebearer tank. Notably, there is extremely little guppy grass in the cichlid tank - I only ever put in a few strands and it never took off like it does in tanks where it's the dominant ingredient.

This is where I think maybe allelopathy pops in? And where the approach of diversification of plants seems to in practice trump the approach of one main plant in a tank. 

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Sibling when I ranted about mystery of algae in one tank next to the other: maybe those fish just eat all the hair algae. 

me: they’re not meant to eat hair algae. 

sister: they’re not meant to eat all the little surface plants either but they do (referring to duckweed)

Maybe this is an occasion to bring out Occam’s razor and scrape some algae manually. 

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