Black Film trouble not BBA! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 04:53 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 4
Black Film trouble not BBA!

Hey I need some advice! Ive had a severe outbreak of some kind of black algae attacking my plant leaves. Its not brushy like BBA. Its more of a film that coats the leaves and is NOT easily removed. It pretty much destroys the leaf. It started as a small problem but is now getting out of hand. It seems to only attach/grow on the plants. Does not grow on driftwood or rocks/substrate so much from what I can see. It might a little, but it really prefers the plants and covers a good portion of all my plants now. Tank has been running for several months and only suddenly this problem is taking off. Heres a rundown of my equipment.

Tank: 55g "show"

Lighting: just short of 2wpg, with a 4wpg (mid day burst) of about 3 hours, then returning to a 2wpg for the final duration of the light cycle. WAS Total light time of 12 hours. After research realized this was probably way too much. Reduced light cycle to a total of 9 hours as of this week. Same "mid day 4wpg burst" for 3 hours. Bulbs are 2x54w 6700k, and 2x54w 10k

Substrate: Eco complete and flourite sand mix.

Co2: Pressurized running right around 30ppm checked via kh4 solution drop checker.

Ferts: Green leaf aquatics "green pack" dosed using EI method. 55g tank, dosed on monday, wed, friday, with a 50% water change on sundays.
1/2tsp KNo3, 1/8tsp KH2Po4, 1/8tsp K2So4, 1/8tsp csm+b. Only been dosing a week.

Temp: 78 degrees

Plants: Dwarf baby tears, growing and spreading well but starting to be covered in the black film in places. Regular baby tears, was growing intensely, recently being over run by this black film issue. Telantharis cardinalis, growing very well, but older lower leaves being over run by the black plague film. El Nino fern, CRAZY wild growth, but the black film really likes this plants leaves.

Fish: 3 Roselines, 2 GBR, 3 angelicus loaches, 1 striped raphael. 2 SAE's, 2 nerite snails, 3 Amano shrimp.

Im hoping ive started in the right direction by reducing the lighting duration. With the amount of light im running, and ferts and co2, I assume that a now 9 hour light cycle isnt still too much?

If you have any advice on the details ive given you or see anything out of order please let me know! This tank was doing fantastic untill the plants got tall. Now all the lower leaves get attacked by this black crap and just fall off, leaving long bare stems on some with beatiful new growth on the top 1/3rd of the plant.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 07:42 AM
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Location: Alaska
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You talk about your lighting but is it T5HO or what?

Sort of sounds like BGA (blue green algae) which is bacterial.

Can you post a picture so a proper ID can be done?
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 12:53 PM Thread Starter
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Yes the lighting is T5HO. I will post a pic later this morning
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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Here are the promised pics.

Healthy leaf

Affected leaf

Affected El Nino fern

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 03:36 PM
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looks like BGA to me (blue-green algae) although it is darker in tone
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 03:40 PM
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Re: Black Film trouble not BBA!

Looks like BGA to me which comes in many colors.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 06:58 PM
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+1 to the BGA which really isn't an algae so much, it is a cyanobacteria. Different ways of treating it include complete black-outs and/or anti-biotics. Research these treatments as they both have side-effects. Apparently BGA favors low nitrates and lower flows. So now that you are dosing EI it may just be a matter of cleaning it up, then adding some flow via power-heads etc. Best of luck, hope it goes away.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 08:18 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Alaska
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That looks like BBA when its dying; turns reddish. Its not always brushy looking.

Dose the tank smell bad?

I would remove the badly infected leaves/trim the plants down. Whatever it takes. Reduce photoperiod down to 8 hours. Increase co2 a bit. Observe fish and plants for responses to the increase. Make sure good circulation throughout the tank.

As for the WPG, it is not accurate, especially with highoutput fixtures as they put out more light then a standard T5. Running just 2 bulbs would put you in the highlight category just sitting on its legs. All 4 of them is way too much light.

10K spectrum doesn't do much for plants. At least to my understanding. I would try running your 6700Ks for 8 hours a day for a couple of weeks and see what that dose. Its all about trial and error and finding that balance.

A planted tank is always changing.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 10:53 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Thanks for all of your input . Much appreciated
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-15-2013, 12:27 AM
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Location: kentucky
Posts: 55
it looks like bba to me aswell.i got it like this coated most my plants including my dwarf hair grass.if it doesn't wipe off easy then it's not bga.i've had that aswell and has a weird strong musky smell to treat with peroxide,reduce lighting and increase co2 if possible.these are all things i've used to treat it and have won the battle for the most was my main issue once i reduced that things became more controllable.i'd reduce down to one 54 watt bulb for 8hr with maybe a 2-4 hr burst with the second.when i increased co2 like everyone said i about killed my fish and was still getting it so that isn't always the answer, be takes a while to recover from this, don't give up and fiddle with those things untill you notice things getting better.good luck

Last edited by afuzzy420; 02-15-2013 at 12:44 AM. Reason: spelling
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