BBA is killing me! Thinking about going low-tech because of it - Page 5 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #61 of 65 (permalink) Old 01-04-2013, 04:12 AM
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Originally Posted by houseofcards View Post
Personally I feel Co2 is part of it, but is it the biggest part of keeping BBA and other algae away? Why is the water change so essential to keeping things pristine? Pretty simple to me your diluting any nitro organic decay, but at the same time your creating fluxing co2 levels are you not? If you increase water changes to every day are you going to get more algae because of the constant co2 flux. I don't think so.
The control for that is simple:" use activated carbon(AC), same for allelopathic chemicals, add AC. This removes those organic chemicals effectively.

Do we see less BBA in tanks where they use AC? Purigen?

You can also add organic forms of N, say more fish, more fish food etc. Or add NH4, say urea or NH4Cl.

I've done it and postulated a long time ago that NH4 was a potential inducer for Green water. But I was able later to add 0.8 ppm per day of NH4Cl without any Green water or algae blooms.

I tried fish loading, progressively adding more and more bait minnows till I got a crash, GW, followed by staghorn and finally some BBA. About 100 3" bait minnows ina 25 Gal tank with foreground rug plants only. A stemy planted tank would require a lot of fish for this to occur.

I think works more like this:
If you switch to Daily water changes then this becomes more stable(CO2).
If you do it say one day a week, then it's less stable. Daily water changes works pretty well with CO2. Dose after etc, we do this a lot when there are "issues" and it does tend to fix many "issues". Folks experience excellent growth post water change day.

It's those days in between that cause issues if the CO2 is poor.

I do 2x a week for some tanks, once a week for others, once a month for some. Generally based on how much pruning/moving weeds around I do and light umols. Fish loads are quite large for all 3 tanks.
CO2/very high light tank has the CO2 around 55ppm. A couple of Hair algae issues.
CO2/mid light(180) has CO2 about 70 ppm. Virtually no issues.
CO2/low light 70 Gal, no issues, CO2 is about 50ppm.
O2 is 7 ppm to about 9.5 ppm depending on time of day.

Every so often, the CO2 will run out and I'll not notice or catch it for 1-3 days etc. Plants seem okay with this overall, algae not an issue, if you go a week etc, then?

The other issue I had when using disc and some diffusers: they did not add enough CO2 in the start of the day cycle. If i measured later in the day, I had ample CO2, if I measured every 15 min from light= 0, till light on for 2 hours, I had much less.

In other tanks, the built in overflows degassed too much to keep up with the CO2 delivery system. I would gas fish or not have enough CO2, very hard to balance that. Adding a bean animal or other type of prefilter made this issue go away.

Still, all these things tend to get back to CO2. It's(CO2) not a simple thing.

Tom Barr
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post #62 of 65 (permalink) Old 01-04-2013, 04:35 AM
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I agree with the comments above. Co2 is not a simple thing since I've been keeping track of it with a co2 sensor.

CO2 is not an algaecide. It's just that you create conditions in your tank to cause the nasty hairy BBa growth. It's always around in some form or another. You'd want invisible form. So keep the co2 stable and appropriate to your light levels.

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post #63 of 65 (permalink) Old 01-04-2013, 04:40 AM
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My take on BBA is that organics cause it. The tank is dirty although it may look clear as a mountain stream. Maybe I missed it but in 4 pages of posts there was only one mentioning of the filter (A Fluval 406 on this 60 gallon tank). No note what is in the filter.

Two experiences about successfuly getting rid of BBA.

Tank 1 - made me think organics cause BBA.
Tank 2 - made me think good plant growth stops BBA.

Tank 1:
160 gallon tank.
About 50 3" fish (Black Halfbeaks, wild).
No CO2.
2 large size Eheims (4 gallon volume each) but full of crappy biomedia that never looked well colonized.
No mechanical filtration.

One day - an explosion of BBA. Found a few dead fish. Removed fish, changed 30% water every other day for 10 days. Added mechanical filtration. BBA went away completely. Removed mechanical filter.

After a few days - a new BBA explosion. Found dead fish again. Turns out fish were getting territorial with age. When I didn't feed them they got really nasty with each other to the point of killing. Changed water again - 30% every other day. Ran mechanical filter again. Fed fish well but never let food linger in the water or fall to the bottom. BBA went away after about 5 such water changes.

Played this game 3 or 4 more times until all but 1 fish was left in the tank. Every time the water changes got rid of the BBA. The mechanical filter must have only helped.

Conclusion:Got the notion that decaying matter causes BBA. And the remainings of that matter maybe minor but they support the BBA once it appears.

Tank 2:
High light.
High CO2.
65 gallon tank.
Prunning 1 to 2 handfuls every week for years.

Negligible amount of BBA + Clado for years. Up and down but never taking over in a too noticeable way.

Some of the BBA was forever on top of the sponge of the CO2 reactor (where the CO2 microbubbles come out).

Filter is ridiculous - AquaClear. No mechanical filtration. Volume of biomedia is about a pint and a half. Ridiculous. Part of the problem. Or so I thought.

Got sick of constantly present BBA + Clado and never really figuring out how to make to deal with them. Excel never helped, just slightly reduced Clado growth and killed Valisnerias. Embarked on a war:

Vacuumed bottom for a few weeks to remove organics. Bottom stayed clean after that. BBA + Clado still there.

Reduced N and P. Plants slowed growth. Clado gone. BBA - same.

Ran out of CSM - got Fluorish this time. Plants started growing very well despite lower N and P. Figured out old Trace mix was too old. Tank looks like new now, a month later. BBA gone. Discus spawned first time ever.

Introduced new, heavy BBA with some Anubias - within 2 weeks that BBA is now just tiny dots, going away too.

Conclusion:Got the notion organics are not the only culprit. Good plant growth does something to BBA.


1. Clean your tank very well.
Filter must have good mechanical AND biological filtration. Good amount of biomedia (Aim for 10% of tank volume. Yes 10%. More if possible.). Good flow through the media at all times.

2. Make sure the plants grow well.
Not sure how that works in a non-CO2 tank especially if BBA is already looking like it looks on the pictures on page 1.

3. Animal that eats BBA for sure - Styphodon ornatus. A goby that can completely clear a 3 sq. inches of BBA in 2-3 days and not harm even fine new Java Moss leaves. Problem with it - it likes to clean one single area and nothing else.
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post #64 of 65 (permalink) Old 01-04-2013, 11:25 AM
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I've been saying that in almost every post.

Originally Posted by houseofcards View Post
...It's not an Algaecide like the way Excel is used. It needs good plant mass to be effective.
But I do feel it's treated that way here. It's the first remedy even before the OP shows pics or even describes his/her setup.

Startup tanks and tanks that are old have two things in common. They both have uncontested organic waste in the water column that eventually breaks down into ammonia and they both are algae targets. If you look at new tanks, even the smallest bit of ammonia causes problems that's why the bio-filter gap has to be bridged with A/C, Purigen, Seeding, Large Water Changes.

Old tanks have a build up over time and even with all the water changes, etc. there is still a build up and eventually the tank is not sustainable. YMWV based on light, load, etc.
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post #65 of 65 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 03:31 PM Thread Starter
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Update on my BBA situation

Excel spot treating seems to be working for now. I've also noticed that some of the BBA on my anubias is starting to turn red without any spot treating as well. I'm hoping more of it starts to die off. I'm assuming the die off has something to do with the change of flow in my tank I did about a week ago. The crypts that had some staghorn on them also don't have it anymore. Also, the little bits of hair algae are also gone.

Looks like everything is going good for now. As time goes on, I'll keep updating about my situation

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