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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 12-07-2013, 01:13 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Fort Worth, TX
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BBA Questions

So currently I have very few plants in my 120 gallon. The only plants are what survived from my last planting attempt (2 anubias, a java fern, and some other time of broad leaf plant). I have what I think is BBA but am confused on how it can exist. I was hoping to understand better before I try planting again.

There is a moderate stocking level and I do not dose any type of ferts including C02. The only light on is one 4' 54watt T5HO sitting about 28" above the substrate that runs about 8 hours a day so I don't think there could be anyway that I'm running to high light levels.

I was under the understanding that BBA needed high light levels? Could it be b/c my other parameters are so far off? The only thing feeding these plants are from the fish.

I will be adding a much higher plant density along with a regular fert schedule and possibly liquid carbon very soon, but wanted to understand the BBA better.

A couple pictures are attached. The plants have been neglected and in very bad shape.

Thank you
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 12-08-2013, 01:52 PM
Algae Grower
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Amherst, NS Canada
Posts: 142
Someone will be along to tell me I'm wrong shortly but here's my thoughts...

1. Nature abhors vacuums. You've set up a container of water with light, and nutrients (if you have fish, you have nutrients) and very few plants. The tendency is that some sort of living thing will colonize this area. There is more than enough "slack" in the system for algae (in one form or another) to take up residence and fill this void.

2. Algae acts as a pioneer species. If you look through the posts, a huge proportion of the people looking for solutions to algae problems have tanks less than a year old. Most of the rest have had some change in their tank in the recent past. I believe that algae benefits from immature systems that have fluctuating parameters. Once people get past this stage they deem themselves expert and point to their management skills at providing low levels of nutrients (or light) or high levels of nutrients (CO2 included). Now personally, I like high nutrient levels so I know the plants can grow well. I also believe that filling a tank with healthy plants pushes the system towards a multicellular dominated system (plants vs. algae).

3. Specifically to your question about BBA. There does seem to be a tendency for certain types of algae to do well under specific conditions. In my experience, BBA seems to have among the widest tolerances for these conditions. BBA seems to do well in both high light and low light. In my tanks, BBA seems to like direct light, lots of floating plants seem to slow down and/or completely eliminate its growth. I'm not sure why, though a lot will point to CO2 demand. Can't say this isn't true, but in my experience even low light tanks that shouldn't be CO2 taxed benefit from "shade".

4. I think suffering plants "attract" algae. Everyone complains the algae is killing their plants, but at this point I really believe "suffering" plants cause algae. No insult intended but your plants do look like they're suffering.

5. Everyone has algae. Experts that spend an hour or two primping their tanks every week have minimal algae. Novices don't seem to consistently spend time cleaning their tanks have problems that get out of hand. That's not to say novices don't encounter more large scale infestations, but patience seems to be its own virtue. With consistent management, a lot of these problems seem to sort themselves out more or less on their own. Once people are confident in their methods, they don't think twice about using various methods (excel, H2O2, etc) to eliminate the problem. If conditions no longer favor algae, it will disappear on its own but this is very unlikely to happen in a time frame people will find acceptable especially if you start with a large amount of algae.

I have lots of experience with BBA. I have it surviving in all my tanks though most of the time you'd be hard pressed to find it. It does become noticeable when I slack off on management. This means I skip water changes, and don't dose. When I get back into my routine, clean the tank, resume water changes and restart dosing it more or less recedes on its own. I'm not sure what component has the greatest effect.

Hope this helps.


Wishing I had a pithy quote
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 12-08-2013, 02:00 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Posts: 30
Thanks for the reply. It definitely helps and basically what I was thinking to begin with. I know my plants are suffering. I lost a huge number of plants about 6 months ago due to ignorance and became bitter, neglecting the surviving plants even further. I think I have it figured out now though.

Thanks again!

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