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Topic Review (Newest First)
01-07-2013 04:31 PM
shinycard255 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
01-04-2013 12:25 PM
houseofcards I've been saying that in almost every post.

Quote:
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.
01-04-2013 05:40 AM
niko 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.
No BBA.

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.


Overall:

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.
01-04-2013 05:35 AM
mistergreen 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.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
01-04-2013 05:12 AM
plantbrain
Quote:
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?
Etc.........

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.
01-04-2013 04:53 AM
plantbrain
Quote:
Originally Posted by james1542 View Post
Thanks for all the info. A) So I'm lead to belive BBA colonizes when CO2 is deficient or when it's levels are inconsistent. B)Also if the plants are growing and doing well, then there will be no black brush algae colonizing. From my encounters with BBA, I could see both of those hypotheses being true.
Yep I'd agree with that.

Quote:
A few general observations: In a tank with no supplemental carbon and very high light, I had no BBA until I did water changes with city tap water. The more water changes I did, the more this stuff would colonize, but if used RO water, I had no more colonizing. Based on what I've read here, I would imagine the tap water was high in CO2, and the temporary rise in CO2 spurred the BBA colonization.
Yep, I'd agree with that also.
What might you do to test to make sure?
Degas the tap water really well, then use that for water changes by slow exchange without exposing the plants to air(this will quickly supply them with a lot of CO2 from the air exchange).

You might even try this without degassing the tap water.

Then see if you get BBA.

If not, and then you repeat the test while exposing the plants to air, then you have a a much much more likely culprit.

Plants are like a factory ina way. If you sudden increase production say 10X faster, but do not account for downstream production or it's justa blast through the factory, this upsets the entire assembly line.

It takes awhile to get things back in order.

Plant's enzymes have trouble readjusting and this seems to give the algae a signal( no clue how), maybe the sudden rapid change in CO2 is a good signal itself?

Like your tank and Dave's non CO2 tank, the plants did in fact adapt to LOW CO2. They grow, just slower. when you suddenly add a lot of CO2, this throws everything into Chaos for the plants.

If you live in a stream or lake/pond etc, and suddenly there's a large increase in CO2.........this means there's likely nutrients along with that CO2 since it's likely the CO2 is from organic decaying matter that runoff added from the valley/watershed around the water. Not a bad cue to start growing in a good spot if you are an alga.

Better than say O2 levels, or nutrient levels. But those likely play some role also.

Still, we find nice plants growing well in natural systems where the CO2 is stable. These spring fed systems have been in wonderful shape with plants for 500 years in some cases in Florida(The priest took notes that went with Ponce de Leon in his search of the fountain of youth in Florida). Those same springs still, have lush beds of aquatic plants.

Quote:
Regarding B) generally when the plants are growing really well, the BBA is not spreading. Now is this because the CO2 levels, and/or perhaps the tank conditions are stable and therefore the stimuli for BBA to colonize are not there, or is there some sort of allelopathic effect that is only generated by growing plants that keeps the algae from colonizing? I was reading through an awful planted tank book a few months ago, and that was one of the nice sentimental points the book made (healthy plants will produce allelopathic chemicals that inhibit algae), which I have not seen talked about much outside that book. Since the book had so much misinformation I have to think that Idea could be bogus as well.
I refuted this a few times, so did Ole, you can search for more on allelopathy. I provided a few methods to test for controls. Also, what sitb likelihood that all 400+ species/types of aquatic plants all produce the same chemical cocktail that works on all algae equally in many tanks with many different biomass and growth rates?

A few Billion to one might be generous odds. And that's just one of the issues with the observation.

Quote:
Finally my last mixed question/statement. Would the build up of CO2 at night, if you run it 24/7, promote BBA colonization?

Oh one more, has anyone looked into the life cycle of the BBA? Anyone know the Latin name? I'm guessing there are some spores being exchanged, and probably some environmental cues that trigger their development and release? If we knew exactly how this stuff operated we would have a much better chance not getting it in the first place.
I doubt that BBA is ever CO2 limited, nor any algae for that matter.
Plants? Certainly, this is very very common. Like palnts, the algae only use CO2 during the day time, maybe a few minutes after sunset, but not much more than few minutes after.

Audouinella is the genus.

Common in streams with 5-10 ppm of CO2(Sheath and Wehr Freshwater Algae of North America, 2003).

You can find plenty on this topic on google.
01-04-2013 04:19 AM
houseofcards 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.
01-04-2013 03:54 AM
plantbrain
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave-H View Post
I see you give this advice over and over, but the fact that you won't even consider that there might be exceptional cases seems to be a bit too rigid of a mindset to me. I don't want CO2 in my low light tank, like I said, and the fact that you haven't seen something in 20 years doesn't mean it isn't true.

Respectfully, your advice didn't work for me and it's not clear to me that it's 'fact' that CO2 correlates so closely to algae.
Oh, I've more than considered exceptional cases.

I did in fact say there are other factors that lead to long term algae issues, current, filtration, general care, if you have some hypothesis you'd like to pose that says X causes BBA, I'm all ears.

Every single case I've addressed for myself and others in the last 20 years have all been, without a single exception, due to some type of CO2 issue.
We are talking well past 100 tanks.

I never said there are not exceptions.

Try messing with your CO2 and see if you get algae then. If you want it to happened even faster, add a lot of light. Drop checkers have many issues, if I used them and thought they were accurate, all my tanks would also have algae.

Yes, I'll get algae in tanks time to time. But I can beat them back pretty well. And I've gotten good enough to induce the algae and then go back and test to see if I can get rid of it. GDA is the only one I cannot induce easily. Most any other is pretty easy to do.

I think most assume they maxed their CO2 levels, they gas their fish. But they rarely go slow and progressive in small incremental adjustments, then carefully watch. Watch the plants and..the new algae growth. This is what I was telling Shineycard255.

Like most hobbyists, we are impatient.
If we adjust the cO2 slow and progressive, notch by notch on a good needle valve, make sure we have good current, clean the tank often, keep up on things routinely, use less, not more light, then algae is not much of threat.

A recent example:
1.2 W/gal of Tek T5's at 36" from the gloss. About 30 umols.



Another:


This is complete control over algae in such tanks.
Even with minimal plant biomass, eg, not just tanks full of stems.
Both tanks got a little BBA.
Typically about the 3-5th week in and both cases where due to........yep, CO2. The new growth stopped completely after careful tweaking.

But the old BBA? It stayed awhile.
I killed it with a big water change, sprayed the wood with excel, done.
In the larger Gloss tank, I have some BBA on the rocks, but it's never gone farther, and I've spot treated here and there, it's slowly dying off.

Older leaves the plant has given up on also get BBA.
After a big hack on my Starougyne lawn in my 180, the anemic whitish shaded leaves are suddenly exposed after trimming the tops.
Those leaves are not adapted to the high sudden light. The plant responds by not "defending them". A small amount of BBA covers a few leaves after 2-3 weeks till the new growth buries the BBA leaves and they decay away as new growth piles on.

In my 120 Gallon, there's a few short tufts of BBA on some spots of the wood that are below the water change line(roughly 70% in that tank).
The CO2 is obviously plenty good for any plant that's added in there, but BBA still will slowly grow. Why?

It cannot be due to the CO2, so I'd say there are exceptions also.
However, the BBA is so minor, it's hardly problematic, but it is there.

Nuisance algae where it causes real issues are/is due to CO2 however. I've yet to see otherwise. One might argue that new tank start ups are prone to BBA or other species more than any other tank, it might be due to new tank CO2 demand is not yet dialed in. But it could be due to something else.

I've fixed many friends, club members BBA issues and been hired to fix such issues. Some have taken a few years to figure out some things, some only a few days. Many try everything else, then finally after exhausting every other cure all, come back.

I was that guy myself.
Even then, I doubted for years and years.
Maybe I'm just lucky 100 out of 100 times?
Maybe, it's possible. But I've never relied much on luck.
01-04-2013 02:39 AM
shinycard255 So I did my PH and KH tests finally...

PH 6.8
KH 11

So then based off the chart here, I want to shoot for around 50ppm of CO2 in the tank. Is that correct?
01-04-2013 01:31 AM
houseofcards
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave-H View Post
..and it's not clear to me that it's 'fact' that CO2 correlates so closely to algae.
Yes it's way to general. This is 'The Planted tank' not 'The Heavily Planted Tank. The CO2 will only buy you so much since it's directly related to plant mass. Of course light, waste load and other factors are at play, but I see so much advice to correct CO2 before anyone even sees the OP's tank. Why does CO2 work at all. The plants increase uptake and get rid of nh3, etc in the WC. It's not an Algaecide like the way Excel is used. It needs good plant mass to be effective.
01-04-2013 12:04 AM
Aquaticz hmmmmm check out Nicko's flow thread & filter thread. You might think diffrently.

someone probably already said this but..... turn off your equipment before doing the excel kill BBA thing. best to use a syringe and douse offending areas very slowly and limit hand/arm movement.
let it stand for 10 -15 min. Then do WC - add macro ferts- excel & micos - If you do it right ....ut will be all gone in less than 2 weeks. However heed the CO2 warnings - get a drop checker and a good needle valve ( not a clippard - go for a NV-55) GLA sells them.

HTH
01-04-2013 12:03 AM
james1542 Thanks for all the info. A) So I'm lead to belive BBA colonizes when CO2 is deficient or when it's levels are inconsistent. B)Also if the plants are growing and doing well, then there will be no black brush algae colonizing. From my encounters with BBA, I could see both of those hypotheses being true.

A few general observations: In a tank with no supplemental carbon and very high light, I had no BBA until I did water changes with city tap water. The more water changes I did, the more this stuff would colonize, but if used RO water, I had no more colonizing. Based on what I've read here, I would imagine the tap water was high in CO2, and the temporary rise in CO2 spurred the BBA colonization.

Regarding B) generally when the plants are growing really well, the BBA is not spreading. Now is this because the CO2 levels, and/or perhaps the tank conditions are stable and therefore the stimuli for BBA to colonize are not there, or is there some sort of allelopathic effect that is only generated by growing plants that keeps the algae from colonizing? I was reading through an awful planted tank book a few months ago, and that was one of the nice sentimental points the book made (healthy plants will produce allelopathic chemicals that inhibit algae), which I have not seen talked about much outside that book. Since the book had so much misinformation I have to think that Idea could be bogus as well.

Finally my last mixed question/statement. Would the build up of CO2 at night, if you run it 24/7, promote BBA colonization?

Oh one more, has anyone looked into the life cycle of the BBA? Anyone know the Latin name? I'm guessing there are some spores being exchanged, and probably some environmental cues that trigger their development and release? If we knew exactly how this stuff operated we would have a much better chance not getting it in the first place.
01-03-2013 11:54 PM
Dave-H I see you give this advice over and over, but the fact that you won't even consider that there might be exceptional cases seems to be a bit too rigid of a mindset to me. I don't want CO2 in my low light tank, like I said, and the fact that you haven't seen something in 20 years doesn't mean it isn't true.

Respectfully, your advice didn't work for me and it's not clear to me that it's 'fact' that CO2 correlates so closely to algae.
01-03-2013 11:22 PM
plantbrain
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave-H View Post
I am glad to see this comment, because it's hard to digest the message that algae issues can be resolved largely by having good CO2 levels/flow/etc - it's just not true in all cases.
I've yet to see otherwise in 20 years.


Quote:
On my tank, I had my CO2 running steady 24/7 with massive flow and a high enough levels to kill off some fish and all the invertebrates - a bright yellow DC! That was a clean restart of the entire tank, and included some aggressive Excel use and constant pruning etc. The BBA came back and took over the tank within a couple of months.
You can gas the fish with poor O2 and low CO2.
Does not imply there was ample CO2 for the plants, or that other factors were not accounted for.

To get a reference tank, you must have mastery of the control in any test, otherwise you have no methods comparison. A tank without BBA being an issue is a reference tank.

Running CO2 24/7 means you add more stress to the livestock than adding it only during the light period. There's no good reason to do this, timers are 5$.
Adding CO2 only when the plants are growing (during the light cycle) means the plants will add more O2, so you have more buffer/wiggle room with CO2.

Drop checkers are not the best method to measure, gauge CO2.
I have several tanks and the CO2 ppm is all over the place.
I made CO2 reference solutions to check as well as KH reference solutions.

I also measured O2 and changed all my filters over that produced 1-2 ppm higher O2. Cooler temps also make it easier to keep O2 higher and slows plant growth. Which makes adding CO2 even easier.

Even my 180 which is about 83-84F, has 70 ppm of CO2 after 1-2 hours.
Amano shrimp likely help, SAE's definitely help.

When starting a new tank, I do more water changes and care till things grow in. for some client's, I'm only able to do this once a week. So they might get a little algae in the start up phase. But I knock it back and then a couple of weeks later, things are fine. If the tank is at home, then I can take better care of things in the new tank start up.

I think given your goal, you should stick with it.
If the CO2 algae thing is a real monkey on your back, it'll be waiting for you to master it. A lot of folks have to beat this thing. Even if your goal is different

Just the way some of us are.

Client tanks are very instructional for myself, they illustrate what goes wrong even with good care when the CO2 tank runs out mid week. How plants and algae respond. Corrective measures to fix things thereafter.
I think you'd be best off adding CO2 to the low light tank given your goal. You would end up with maybe 3-4x the growth rate and be able to keep most all plant species together.
01-03-2013 08:46 PM
Dave-H I keep thinking about doing that (starting up the CO2), but there is no algae and the plants are beautiful so the only effect would be that the plants might grow faster. I don't need any extra maintenance so I am just leaving it as is and trying to sell the CO2 system.

Actually, I'm sort of leaning the other way lately. I am going for low maintenance, low tech, low light and seeing how easy this can be! My technique is to use easy plants, hardy fish, and lots of diversity (snails, shrimp, frog, loaches, etc). For the last few months I've done maintenance exactly 1 time per month (huge w/c/) and the tank is ship shape!!
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