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Old 02-29-2012, 02:35 AM   #1
maknwar
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Default What causes cyanobacteria?

My 40B keeps breaking out with cyanobacteria. What would cause this over and over? I've got an Eheim 2217, co2, medium lighting. Only thing that is different in this tank is that I use ada Amazonia as a substrate.
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Old 02-29-2012, 03:03 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by maknwar View Post
My 40B keeps breaking out with cyanobacteria. What would cause this over and over? I've got an Eheim 2217, co2, medium lighting. Only thing that is different in this tank is that I use ada Amazonia as a substrate.
Low nitrate levels or not enough circulation often seems to get the blame.
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Old 02-29-2012, 03:46 AM   #3
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Low nitrate levels or not enough circulation often seems to get the blame.
I have heard this same explanation of low nitrates causing BGA but really wonder if the low nitrates are more the effect of the BGA rather than the cause as the cynaobacteria actually use up all the available nitrate which would give you low nitrate readings when your system is being affected by the BGA.
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Old 02-29-2012, 03:59 AM   #4
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I don't believe the low nitrates or poor circulation, I think it is a bacteria that you need to kill off and it can be introduced through new plants, fish, etc. I just had it for the first time in a very old established tank and had to use Erythromycin too get the job done.

I noticed the top inch of my substrate (Flourite) had a white substance that was not there before I killed it off but I think it settles in to these low oxygen areas and robs O2 from the plant roots, I was having trouble growing S. porto velho prior to the Cyano but after the treatment it took off and grew like crazy and a couple other plants showed marked improvement. It also only collected on Riccia, Fissidens, and other mosses in my tank. I'm sorry to hear your having this problem over and over, this is some stinky stuff.

I am certainly no expert but these were my observations.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:01 AM   #5
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Sunlight and warm color temp lights have been implicated. Even a short duration of sunlight on the tank can make it take off. Erythromycin is the best way to completely get rid of it.
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Old 02-29-2012, 05:21 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by maknwar View Post
My 40B keeps breaking out with cyanobacteria. What would cause this over and over? I've got an Eheim 2217, co2, medium lighting. Only thing that is different in this tank is that I use ada Amazonia as a substrate.
High phosphates are the primary cause, but high nitrates also contribute. Cyanobacteria do not need much light.

I'm on well water in a subdivision built on old farmland. My water is occasionally high in phosphates and nitrates, and phosphate levels and subsequent cyanobacteria blooms seemed to come in conjunction with wet weather. Makes sense, since water drains into the aquifer, taking phosphates and nitrates accumulated in the ground from decades of farming with it. I had this problem with almost every tank for over a year initially, until either algae or plants became established. Needless to say, I'm a little less meticulous about algae than I used to be when I lived in town, especially in my non-planted, cichlid tanks.

Erythromycin will kill it, and is good for the occasional or one time outbreak. But since this a continouos problem in this tank, it doesn't address the underlying problem. Remove the source of phosphates and remove the problem, but that may not be possible. Since I have no control over my water, my solutions have been either to plant hardy, fast-growing plants like cabomba and hornwort that outcompete cyanobacteria for nutrients, to let algae grow and let my African cichlids or other algae eating fish graze it, to reduce the photoperiod on my tanks, or some combination of the three. Once the bulk of the nutrients is used up, water changes only add enough to support what is growing, rather than promoting a blossom of cyanobacteria. I've not had an outbreak in well over a year now, running 50 tanks.

Interestingly, cyanobacteria has been linked to the "zombie" alligators of Lake Griffin, Florida. Run off from muck farms increased phosphate levels in the lake, promoting cyanobacteria growth, which in turn out-competed higher plants and algae. Few fish eat the stuff, so most fish species declined in the lake. But gizzard shad do eat cyanobacteria. Shad produce high amounts of thiaminase, which breaks down thiamine (vitamin B1). As the shad become more populous and other species declined, the gators ate more shad. The unbalanced diet caused the gators to take in more thiaminase, which prevented the alligators from getting the proper amount of thiamine. The gators suffered brain damage due to malnutrition, causing lethargy and paralysis. And thats the recipe for "zombie" gators.

WYite
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Old 02-29-2012, 05:27 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Wyomingite View Post
High phosphates are the primary cause, but high nitrates also contribute. Cyanobacteria do not need much light.

I'm on well water in a subdivision built on old farmland. My water is occasionally high in phosphates and nitrates, and phosphate levels and subsequent cyanobacteria blooms seemed to come in conjunction with wet weather. Makes sense, since water drains into the aquifer, taking phosphates and nitrates accumulated in the ground from decades of farming with it. I had this problem with almost every tank for over a year initially, until either algae or plants became established. Needless to say, I'm a little less meticulous about algae than I used to be when I lived in town, especially in my non-planted, cichlid tanks.

Erythromycin will kill it, and is good for the occasional or one time outbreak. But since this a continouos problem in this tank, it doesn't address the underlying problem. Remove the source of phosphates and remove the problem, but that may not be possible. Since I have no control over my water, my solutions have been either to plant hardy, fast-growing plants like cabomba and hornwort that outcompete cyanobacteria for nutrients, to let algae grow and let my African cichlids or other algae eating fish graze it, to reduce the photoperiod on my tanks, or some combination of the three. Once the bulk of the nutrients is used up, water changes only add enough to support what is growing, rather than promoting a blossom of cyanobacteria. I've not had an outbreak in well over a year now, running 50 tanks.

Interestingly, cyanobacteria has been linked to the "zombie" alligators of Lake Griffin, Florida. Run off from muck farms increased phosphate levels in the lake, promoting cyanobacteria growth, which in turn out-competed higher plants and algae. Few fish eat the stuff, so most fish species declined in the lake. But gizzard shad do eat cyanobacteria. Shad produce high amounts of thiaminase, which breaks down thiamine (vitamin B1). As the shad become more populous and other species declined, the gators ate more shad. The unbalanced diet caused the gators to take in more thiaminase, which prevented the alligators from getting the proper amount of thiamine. The gators suffered brain damage due to malnutrition, causing lethargy and paralysis. And thats the recipe for "zombie" gators.

WYite

So the moral of the story is don't eat BGA or you will turn into a zombie.
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Old 02-29-2012, 05:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyomingite View Post
High phosphates are the primary cause, but high nitrates also contribute. Cyanobacteria do not need much light.

WYite
Now let's mess with the high side:

I dose 30-45ppm of NO3 and 15 ppm of PO4 as KNO3 and KH2PO4 weekly to this tank, see any evidence of BGA? Any algae for that matter?



Tank also is dosed 2 ppm of Fe as a proxy for traces......as CMS +B.

If what you stated is true, then how come I do not have algae or BGA?

If could be many many things(this we cannot ever be 100% certain).......but those 2(PO4 and NO3 being high) are not it(this we can be certain).

I think 15ppm and 30-45ppm a week of those would qualify for being on the "high" side.

Maybe I just got lucky this one time? I have about 50 tanks going back 20 years with similar results:
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:18 AM   #9
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Great story, Wyomingite. I have been out of the game for a few years but low O2 levels always seem to have a hand in this.

That's not a problem in your tank, Tom. I want my Red Ludwigia!
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Old 02-29-2012, 05:42 AM   #10
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So I guess it begs the question: In tanks where phosphates are limited, where does the cynaobacteria get it's foothold? In tanks where folks aren't dosing PO4 it still appears..
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:12 AM   #11
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I think it's cause you have a ton of plants in there already?
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Old 02-29-2012, 05:38 PM   #12
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"Cell-bound and extracellular phosphatase activities of cyanobacterial isolates"; Microbial Ecology; Whitton, et al, 1991.

Toxic Cyanobacteria in Water: A Guide to Their Public Health Consequences, Monitoring and Management; World Health Organization; edited by Chorus and Bartram, 1999.

The Biology of Cyanobacteria; University of California Press; edited by Carr and Whitton, 1982.

"Competition between picoplanktonic cyanobacteria and heterotrophic bacteria along crossed gradients of glucose and phosphate"; Microbial Ecology; Drakare, 2002.

Doesn't really matter whether ya believe me or not, Plantbrain. The literature tells the story.

I'd hafta say ya don't have phosphates in excess of what yer plants are using. Yer plants are well-established and ya have enough light to keep growth at a pace that keeps algae and cyanobacteria blooms under control. If yer also dosing CO2, then the plants have enough carbon to use up the phosphates, leaving nothing or little left to promote a cyanobacteria bloom.

Brian Mc, low O2 levels are a result of eutrophication induced by the cyanobacteria, rather than being a direct cause of the cyanobacteria bloom. Once cyanobacteria get a foothold, they outcompete other microrganisms and higher plants, killing them, releasing more nutrients in the water through decomposition. Decomposition uses up O2. In addition, the reduction in DO can release bound phosphates from organic and inorganic substances in contact with the water into the water column, creating an even larger pool of phosphates for the cyanobacteria to use. It's a self-perpetuating circle. Unlike algae and higher plants, cyanobacteria can photosynthesize in anoxic conditions, so low DO is irrelevant to their continued survival and prevents competition due to plants and algae reestablishing themselves.

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Old 02-29-2012, 05:45 PM   #13
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Very interesting. Thanks for the info.
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Old 03-02-2012, 05:22 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyomingite View Post
Doesn't really matter whether ya believe me or not, Plantbrain. The literature tells the story.
Poorly applied literature references tells a story, but does not support your claim. Was there shallow dense submersed vegetation in each study? No.......

Was this an aquarium? No........

Misapplied references do not offer support.

Particularly when we have many many aquariums where folks dose KNBO3 and KH2Po4 at 20ppm and 2 ppm respectively or higher, and have for many years(going on 2 decades now).

Those results falsify your claim.
There is not and, buts or maybes about it, it does not say WHY BGA forms, blooms, grows well etc........it merely states what cannot be the the cause independent of other factors.

For your claim/hypothesis to be correct, we'd have to see most folks getting BGA, but that is simply not the case. In natural systems lacking dense wetland plants, loading N and P can cause algae blooms. If you add fertilizer to a dense submersed plant lake, you get more weeds.

Quote:
I'd hafta say ya don't have phosphates in excess of what yer plants are using.
I have 3-7 ppm as PO4 at all times. Clearly quite non limiting to any and all BGA and any and all algae. This is NOT something new either, I've had high PO4 and have suggested folks to dose it since 1996 in articles.

Quote:
Yer plants are well-established and ya have enough light to keep growth at a pace that keeps algae and cyanobacteria blooms under control. If yer also dosing CO2, then the plants have enough carbon to use up the phosphates, leaving nothing or little left to promote a cyanobacteria bloom.
Plants(macrophytes, this will include Chara and Nitella) are not competing with algae or BGA for nutrients. Light perhaps, but not CO2 or nutrients. The point where P becomes limiting is roughly 3ppb for most algae and BGA, for submersed plants, it's around 50ppb. This is over an order of maginitude.

CO2 is even a larger factor.

Plants do quite well if the focus and their needs are met, that is the goal here, not to limit or outwit algae/BGA.

Here is a much better study that supports what we see in aquariums:

http://lakewatch.ifas.ufl.edu/LWTEAM...macrophyte.pdf

These lakes actually have aquatic submersed plants in them.
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:18 PM   #15
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How high of phosphate levels do you need to induce cyanobacteria?

When I was derping around with dosing, I got to a point of dosing 20ppm of phosphates three times a week. That's 60ppm in a week, not including what is already existing in the water, and what is added with my heavy fish feeding. Not a single speck of cyanobacteria during that time.

Only time I got cyanobacteria was during the startup of my tank last year - this was when I seriously lacking on flow - just an old HOB filter and an old powerhead on a 65-ish gallon tank. Erythromycin, manual removal, and adding of flow (XP3 + 240gph koralia) resolved it the problem.

EDIT: I think I found the (partial) answer.
Quote:
Box 8.2 Thresholds for phosphorus control of different cyanobacterial ecostrategists
Knowledge of the prevalent ecotypes in a given water body leads to the following consequences for total phosphorus management:
• If scum-forming ecostrategists prevail (such as Microcystis spp. or Anabaena spp.) cell numbers
and biomass are likely to decline if total phosphorus concentrations can be brought well below 50
μg I-1 P. This will also reduce scum formation, because less cells and colonies will be available to
concentrate into scums. Nonetheless, some scums will probably continue to occur until
phosphorus limitation becomes so severe that cell density (and therefore turbidity) decreases to
the point where the depth of light penetration is as deep as the depth of large areas of the water
body (Zeu = Zm). Under these conditions, vertical migration of these taxa is less effective because
their buoyancy regulating mechanism requires some time in the dark (see section 2.2). Therefore,
they lose their competitive advantage over other phytoplankton.
• If dispersed ecostrategists prevail (such as the filamentous species Planktothrix agardhii,
formerly named Oscillatoria agardhii) very pronounced "switches" may be expected. As
phosphorus limitation reduces filament density, and thus turbidity, to the point where the
relationship of the depth of light penetration to the depth of the mixed layer (Zeu/Zm) is greater
than 0.4, these species are likely to disappear quite abruptly, and turbidity will increase even
further, thus stabilising the result.
• If metalimnetic ecostrategists prevail (such as Planktothrix rubescens), the water layer above
these cells is usually quite clear. Very low concentrations of total phosphorus (often below 10 μg
I-1 P) are necessary to decrease turbidity further and thus increase light intensity down to the
depth inhabited by these species. If this can be achieved, metalimnetic ecotypes may disappear.
If not, hydrophysical measures may be more successful in controlling their density.
• If nitrogen fixing ecotypes prevail (such as Anabaena spp.), reduction of total phosphorus down
to concentrations effectively limiting biomass will cause dissolved nitrogen concentrations in
excess of uptake by phytoplankton. Nitrogen fixation is then no longer an advantage in
competition over other cyanobacteria and algae. This may induce disappearance of the nitrogen
fixing species.
It is talking about total phosphorous, and not phosphates, though.
Quote:
The term total phosphorus is preferable to the term total phosphate, because results are reported
in terms of phosphorus rather than phosphate. This is important because the weight of the PO4
molecule is about three times that of its central P atom, and lack of specification in reporting
results as to whether they refer to μg PO4 or μg P has caused considerable confusion in the
literature.
Interesting tidbit on the 2002 article mentioned above:
Quote:
In treatments where carbon limitation slowed down the growth of heterotrophic bacteria, picophytoplankton became abundant and these organisms showed a positive response to P in combination with a negative response to glucose.

Hmmm, I wonder if low dissolved oxygen + phosphate = cyano proliferation? Meh, I'm sure it's not that simple....LOL! Low dissolved oxygen could easily be had if you have poor water movement, though!
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