Category Archives: Plants & Algae

The Importance of “Light” to Koi, Goldfish and Aquarium Fish in General

Why Can’t Koi and Goldfish Live in the Dark? Is “Sunlight” Absolutely Necessary?

It bears mentioning that light has several effects on fish which can ensure your success or failure. Full spectrum lighting with sufficient intensity and spectrum will stimulate the growth of healthy, green sessile algae. Algae benefit the fish in numerous ways including:

  • Providing edible phytoplankton for the fish to consume
  • Providing for the reduction of Nitrate in the environment
  • Raising dissolved oxygen during its photosynthesis during the photo-period.
  • The algae layer is slick, and preferable to any other surface for fish contact
  • I strenuously encourage the hobbyist to allow as much sessile green algae to remain on the ornamentation and sides of an aquarium as is aesthetically tolerable.
The Importance of "Light" to Koi, Goldfish and Aquarium Fish in General
These koi are eating in shallow water but they may also “bask” in shallow water, as well. Ask any experienced hobbyist.

Lighting also provides the fish with certain metabolic capabilities. It is true that without a full spectrum light source such as natural sunlight or biologically accurate full spectrum fluorescent bulbs, the fish will not be able to activate Vitamin D in their dermis and will eventually suffer calcium abnormalities, which may stunt growth or depress the immune response.

Sunlight Improves Koi, and Fish Color

No one who is experienced in this hobby will argue that full spectrum illumination or sunlight will enhance and improve skin condition and color in Koi, goldfish and pond fish.

The REAL Siamese Algae Eater

Folks face brush algae, also known as beard algae, black beard algae, red algae which is a tight, fastidious and hard bristle algae that can cover surfaces and mar the appearance of a fish tank and its ornamentation.

Hardly anything eats it.

The REAL Siamese Algae Eater

I’ve taken rocks and ornaments out into the sun and let the stuff dry (mostly) and when you put it back into the tank it “dies” and becomes palatable for plecostomus. But that’s a lot of work.

The True Siamese Algae Eater supposedly eats this algae. You can bet that the fish would RATHER eat easier algae but if you’re down to brush / bristle / beard algae that’s usually all you got.

Here’s an audio track that describes the True Siamese Algae Eater. Commit these two things to memory: From nose into tail bar, and transparent fins.

Algae Eater

The REAL Siamese Algae Eater
The REAL Siamese Algae Eater
The REAL Siamese Algae Eater
The REAL Siamese Algae Eater
The REAL Siamese Algae Eater
The REAL Siamese Algae Eater

Algae Eater Or Plecostomus Algae Eater Small Tank Algae Eater Species Algae Eater

Algae Eater Aquarium

Algae Eater Care Algae Eater For Small Tank Algae Eater Or Plecostomus Algae Eater Small Tank Algae Eater Species Algae Eater Algae Eater Aquarium Algae Eater Care Algae Eater For Small Tank Algae Eater Or Plecostomus The REAL Siamese Algae Eater

Live Plants and Koi For Algae Control

Koi and plants do fine if the plants are abundant enough. If you “try” one or two plants to see how it goes the group of Koi will consider them quite the novelty and will probably allocate a lot of time to checking them out. Not having thumbs, they experience their world with their mouths.

If there’s ANY gravel in the pond, they will spend time sifting that, and rolling the rocks around, and playing with the plants, and then the plants aren’t the sole entertainment.

 

Veggie Filters: Algae Control Naturally

The prime competitor to algae is simply other plants. All pants consume nitrogen and phosphorus and iron. So, if there are abundant live plants in a system, what’s an algae to eat?

“Hey the plants are hogging up all the nitrogen!” (they whine bitterly)

Veggie Filters: Algae Control Naturally

So if there’s a handy way to put plants in the water column, DO IT. Some people simply put the plants in the pond. If you put enough in, the Koi pick on them a little, get used to them and then cohabit.

Other people net off a section of the pond and put plants in there. That’s how we set up Jimmy Carter’s pond (yes I officially care for his pond and have met him and Rosalyn) at the Carter Center in Atlanta and we just netted an area and loaded it with Hyacinths and Lettuce in the Summer and then Anachris in the Fall. (Year round nitrogen reduction)

Some people make an entirely separate vat of plants and move some water through at all times. This is much the same as bogging plants, as well.

Finally, I made some floating crates pictured above. The crate material are polyethylene floor grates for slaughter houses and such; cable tied together in the form of boxes they float and the plants are in there. Click the image above for the larger version for study.

controlling algae with live plants how to make a veggie filter

plant filters for algae control vegetable filtrtation

Algae Control: Green Water Algae Bloom

Algae Control, Green Water Bloom.

This is an old video with good, current information. Crude in it’s cinematography, but full of good information.  Greenwater is basically just that: Green Water which obscures your view of the fish, but is healthy. It is a product of nitrogen fuel, fish, sun and a failure to have competition from live plants. Chemistry is not the cure. You will do well with a pen and paper as the video presents a lot of information FAST.

Why Algae Matters: Green Algae Blooms

Algae matters because it can obscure your view of the fish and also, string algae can choke a filter.

Good Reasons Algae Matters

  1. Well Algae seems to have some sort of healing effect on fish, whether that is actually a function of “A good home for algae is a good home for fish” or the algae actually provide some sort of consoling cover, or even a healthy nutrient base….Unknown, all good theories. I am sure the pundits know for sure, based on zero research; but careful reading of Grainger’s Electronics and Machine Parts Catalog. (That’s an obscure joke about how awful the extrapolation with some people can be)
  2. Algae oxygenates.
  3. Algae consumes excess nitrate and phosphorus. As some people know, high Nitrate levels are eventually immune suppressive if only as a chronic stressor but equally likely, as a cause of perpetual vasodilation. (injected, veiny fins)
  4. String algae produces what are known as “plant agglutinins” which are ‘sticky proteins’ which bind organic macromolecules and bacteria into large pieces to settle out, ostensibly dropping the particles to a position closer to the plants to be used by their absorptive structures. (Yes, plants have “arrows” to collect their “prey”
Why Algae Matters: Green Algae Blooms
Why Algae Matters: Green Algae Blooms

Why String Algae Matters

  1. Koi will eat String algae except if better food is around they might leave enough to be ugly.
  2. String algae breaks off and spreads and it can glut a pond
  3. String algae breaks off and goes to the filter pump and other filtration structures (the mechanical elements) and pretty much stops it.
  4. If the pH drops a lot, the string algae will die and being a fairly massive plant mass, it will create surplus decay products (nitrogen) and will contribute massively to water quality deterioration even after the pH is corrected.

Why Greenwater Matters

Same thing;

  1. If the pH drops a lot, the string algae will die and being a fairly massive plant mass, it will create surplus decay products (nitrogen) and will contribute massively to water quality deterioration even after the pH is corrected.
  2. Greenwater is not-nice because you got the pond to watch your fish, but noo-o-o-o-ooo not with greenwater.
  3. Worse, greenwater stops you from being able to monitor the occurrence of disease, but also to monitor improvement of diseases you already know about.
  4. A large dose of certain medicines can kill alot of greenwater and again, that die off can contribute massive amounts of nitrogen waste as well as consuming enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and oxygen consumption.

What Is Algae?

Algae are single celled plants. They occur in primarily two forms, one form composes strands which can get so long they appear as “hair” or string and is referred to as “String Algae”.

Fortunately, String Algae is very, very easy to control.

What Is Algae?
What Is Algae?

The second form of algae is a bloom of the single celled free floating type, such as the tiny plant above as seen under the microscope. When you get an algae bloom in your pond, the fish disappear in the green soup.

Algae, as plants go, hardly differs from regular plants on your desk. During the day when the sun shines on them, they MAKE oxygen and consume carbon dioxide. Cool, for the water and the fish.

But at night it’s different. At night the algae CONSUME oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. That’s bad for the fish.

But; most of the time, algae consumes NITRATES, which is good. They use nitrates to grow and live. So in order to keep nitrates down, or, if your nitrates get high, greenwater or other algaes are the solution and the result.

Here’s why algae matters. It differs from one form of algae from another. String algae is one kind of problem and green water is another.

String Algae Control – The Plecostomus

I’ve seldom had a problem with String Algae Control because I rely on a plecostomus or three to do my dirty work. They LOVE String algae and they can live in any water above 56 degrees. At 55 degrees, the just. flat. die.

Above 70 degrees they actively eat green algae to it’s roots and they grow like weeds.

String algae happens to be their absolute favorite of all time. Bar none. I used to roll it up on a stick and even bring it inside to the plecos I had in my fish tank.

In winter, in their overwinter trash can, they eat Zuchini, but let me back track.

Plecostomus for String Algae Control in ponds and tanks
Plecostomus for String Algae Control in ponds and tanks

So there’s this ugly tropical algae eater that actually LOVES algae and eats it CONSTANTLY day and night. I started using them 10 years ago. The ONLY string algae they can’t get is the stuff they can’t get, namely the waterfall.

I traditionally use two plecostomus. In large ponds like twelve THOUSAND gallons I buy two of the bigger ones. In ponds like 2 or 3 thousand gallons I use two of the small ones. Babies in the much smaller ponds…..

TWO? Why two?

Because it’s all you need. Try it, and call me a liar. Pundits who have NOT tried it already do.

Plecostomus for String Algae Control in ponds and tanks
Plecostomus for String Algae Control in ponds and tanks

By the end of any growing season on unlimited string algae the plecostomus will be over a foot long. And they die summarily at 55 degrees. Not 56, but 55.

The fish Lock is carrying is dead, having died in October water. (In Georgia we have warm October days and frigid nights)

A word of warning.

Plecostomus are aggressive in very small facilities. I personally would NOT recommend a pair of plecostomus in less than 600 gallons unless very small. Slow moving fish like Goldfish may pay a dear price if they are pinned and grated by the plecostomus for it’s delicious slime coat and scales.

string algae

At left, a Telescope goldfish that was rasped completely scaleless and died from its wounds from a small plecostomus in a 55 gallon aquarium.

I have only seen this ONCE in a very small tank with Koi, and only one Koi was affected. It would seem, Koi are faster and more wily than Goldfish.

Given a choice, the Plecostomus would eat our effortless string and carpet algae than chase around mobile food.

Using a Veggie (vegetation) filter to stop green water

Algae Free – Using a Veggie (vegetation) filter to stop green water – by Doc Johnson

People with veggie filters have been out there for a long, long time. I’ve been over here using UV’s and algae for Nitrate control and green water control.
One of the reasons I resisted a veggie filter was the hydraulics of the situation which did not lend themselves to this until I went above ground in a pond of 4000 gallons. Then it became possible and practical to gravity feed a veggie filter. The other thing was the root systems of hyacinths can “cash in” a pump in a hurry if the volute allows the torn up roots to get into the impeller. What could you use other than a Hyacinth? Anything grow as fast? Yes…
Anyway, I found this cool, rapid growing duckweed/plant, and so I finally pulled my head from it’s overworked daily routine and decided that I would build a veggie filter. Just to see if I could accomplish naturally what we’ve usedchemicals and UV for for so long.
I am using it in conjunction with the bio functions of my bead filter.
The “plant” is nothing but a kind of Duck weed, except it’s very lacey looking. I was amazed by its growth rate and suspected it might do well as a shade plant which would assimilate lots of carbon and nitrogen.

I just messed around with this idea, “veggie filters”, perhaps on behalf of folks who can’t afford a big UV, and found it to be very effective.

Tom brought me about a tennis ball can full from one of his vats and I put it in the secondary, veggie pond. (600 gallons) and in three days the weed had doubled its bio-mass to cover the whole surface and the main systems’ water went “clear” (Still green tinted) to the bottom.
I had decided to quit the UV running, just for this experiment, and we started with the water running pure green.
I think it’s nothing short of amazing, but the people with veggie filters will say “Duhhhhhhh, what have we been saying all this time????”
UV’s’re great for all kinds of things including clearing green water. I just messed around with this idea, “veggie filters”, perhaps on behalf of folks who can’t afford a big UV, and found it to be very effective.
Live and learn.
Doc Johnson

From Bonnie: “Converted? Hehehehe!
BTW the lacey looking plant that looks like duck weed is Fairy Moss or Azolla. It grows as fast as algae and will clear the water fast! The added benefit is fish do not eat Fairy Moss so it can multiply real fast in a pond. When it over populates the pond, you can take a net and dip out the excess. We use it to mulch our tomato plants. Duckweed grows as fast as Fairy Moss but the fish love to eat it. I feed my Koi duckweed on a regular basis.
Bonnie”