Another bba thread please help!!!
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Old 12-26-2011, 05:22 AM   #1
Dixiedodge7369
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Another bba thread please help!!!


Hi I've been keeping fish for 20 years but I'm a planted aqurium newbie...
I have a black beard algea issue that takes over my Anubis and java ferns horribly and is starting to latch on to my amazon swords. A little bit on rocks and driftwood but not horrible. I've been reading everywhere trying to figure something out but I figured I'd just ask...
I have a 55g 78w of t5HO light 6500k 8000k bulbs that I keep on for about 8 hours. seachem fluorite substrate, pressurized co2 that I try and keep my drop checker greenish yellow. I keep fish so I don't want to kill them.. German and elec blue rams 4 plecos 4 panda cories and a couple misc fish. I dose 1/2tsp kno3 and 1/8tsp of kh2p04, k2so4 and 1/8plantex Csm+b on opposite days. 5 gallon daily water changes before I dose and about 25-50% weekly changes. I have a enemies canister filter and a power he'd so I have good circ.
About 2 months ago I tore the tank apart big water change pulled all the plants and such bleached everything non living. And dipped my plants in a 1-20 ratio of bleach water which got rid of all my bba tank looked perfect for a few weeks but it came back I've tryed peroxide with filters and lights off to try and keep it at bay but no luck... This time it's really bad.. I was thinking of adding excel but I wasn't sure if I could add it with mynco2 running? Any tips would be greatly appreciated thanks
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Old 12-26-2011, 07:13 AM   #2
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BBA will keep coming back if you don't fix the problem. A few reasons for BBA can be low flow, high organics in tank, or just plain old too much light which can pretty much cause all kinds of algae to appear.
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Old 12-26-2011, 04:07 PM   #3
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I'd try excel. You can spot treat the places where the bba has taken hold. Just use a syringe and squirt the excel on the algae. If any of it is exposed to air when doing a water change, and you can squirt the excel on the area at that time, that works even better.

I don't overdose my tank, I just use the daily dose recommended, and use a small syringe. Turn off the filter for 5-10 minutes to try and keep the excel near the algae.

You can also dose excel along with CO2. That isn't a problem. If you have plants that can be adversely affected by excel, start with a half dose and work your way up to a full dose.
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:16 AM   #4
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You have two issues to deal with. (1) Prevention and (2) Eradication.

Prevention: The first thing is to figure out what's allow the BBA to grow. The BBA spores are in your tank, and I have never found a way to get them back out. Just about everyone gets them at some point. They come on the fish we buy or a plant we traded with someone or maybe the decor. However it gets in our tanks, it gets in. Once in, it's there forever. So you have to create an environment that the BBA does not like.

To accomplish this you need to focus on your plants. Make the environment as happy as you can for your plants. You're already doing a great job with dosing ferts and injecting CO2. To battle BBA, you may need to increase your CO2. You need to get it to 30ppm to stop BBA from spreading.

The way I did it was to creep up the CO2 very slowly and carefully until I noticed that it affected the fish. At that point, I dropped the CO2 down one small notch and that was my setting. I also used a pH controller which I found invaluable in ensuring that the CO2 levels remained stable all day and all night.

You'll know when the environment is no longer BBA friendly as the BBA will just stop spreading. New leaves on plants will grow and not get it on them. You'll bleach a rock and it will remain BBA free. At that point, you've won half the battle.

Eradication: Now you have to deal with the second problem: getting rid of the BBA already in the tank. There are a lot of different ways to do this, but my preferred method is to use the regular 3% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). It's really cheap at any drugstore or grocery store. I like to do the full tank treatment which means to use between 2-3% of the tank size. For example, on my 75g tank, I would dose a total of 2/3 to 1 cups of H202 in the tank.

2 * 75g = 150ml (which is the same as 5oz or about .63 cups) = 2/3 cup of H202
3 * 75g = 225ml (which is the same as 7.6oz or about .95 cups) = 1 cup of H202

To prepare for the H202 treatment, turn off the tank's filters and lights. After measuring the total H2O2 you'll be using, get a large syringe or a turkey baster and squirt the H2O2 onto the worst areas of BBA in the tank. Once you've used up all the H202, wait about 15 minutes. Then turn on the filters and lights again. Allow the H202 to circulate throughout the tank. No water change is needed! The H2O2 breaks down into H2O + O which is water and oxygen!

I've done this twice a day on my tanks without any problems. Be sure to start off at the lower dose and work your way up, checking to be sure everything's fine. I've even gone as far as 4% applications without problems.

While you're doing this, be sure to take out anything you can easily remove, such as rocks, spray bars, etc. to clean outside the tank. Soak in bleach for half an hour or so. I've heard 5% solution suggested, but to be honest, I just fill up my kitchen sink and pour in bleach without measuring. Once the've been bleached, scrub clean and then remove the bleach with a dechlorinator like Prime.

As long as you have corrected the situation in the tank that's allowing the BBA to grow, you will get rid of it for the most part because it won't grow back on the areas you've cleaned and treated. There will always be a few little traces of it here and there, but that should be about it. Nothing to detract from the tank. If you start to see more, then you know to fix the environment very quickly so it can't spread and to spot treat it right away.
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Old 12-28-2011, 05:08 AM   #5
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Complexity. Thank you for the long write up I very much appreciate it. I keep my drop checker at a greenish yellow which I'm assuming is about 30ppm I haven't tryed inching it up to see if I can get any more co2 without effecting the fish. That's a big worry of mine I don't want to hurt the fish I have some nice plecos and rams that I dont want to loose. Maybe the next day I have free I will try and move it up a little and have the chance to watch the fish all day. I already have a air stone run while the lights are out to make sure there's oxygen in the water. I haven't tryed the peroxide I will tho I did dose some flourish excell for the past 2 days and I noticed that on a few plants which I directly squirted excell on the bba is turning red. I will watch to make sure it doesn't spread and try and beat it to the punch if it does. Once again I really appreciate it and I will try the peroxide! And try and up my co2 a smidge
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Old 12-28-2011, 05:37 AM   #6
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You're welcome. Your situation is a bit perplexing because you've already hit on most of the things I would target as being ideal. Having the drop checker showing greenish yellow should indicate a high level of CO2.

And, yet, what I know about BBA is that it is triggered by either low CO2 or fluctuating levels of CO2. Either way, CO2 is the key.

You've already done all the right things to kill existing BBA, yet it keeps coming back. That indicates that there is something in the environment allowing the BBA to grow. That brings me back to the CO2.

So let me ask you this. How are you controlling the injection of CO2 during the day vs. night? Is it on the timer with the lights? You mentioned having a bubbler at night. I wonder if that's dropping the CO2 levels at night, causing the CO2 to fluctuate enough for the BBA to grow?

Would you consider not using the bubbler at night? Would you consider getting a pH controller?

I know CO2 is the issue. It needs to be both high and stable. If it's already high, then let's see if there's any problems with it not being stable, and if it's not stable, then let's see what you'd like to try to make it more stable.
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Old 12-28-2011, 07:04 AM   #7
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Well I use the elec solenoid to turn the co2 on and off and I don't touch the adjustment. But I do notice that when turn the co2 and lights on in the am the drop checker is blue. Which means the co2 is low. I will try and not use the bubbler. My only worry is with lights off when plants start pulling in oxygen and releasing co2. Tell me a little more about this ph controller I'm not quite sure what that is.
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Old 12-28-2011, 08:30 AM   #8
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You know how CO2 affects the pH in a tank? You can control how much CO2 is dosed in a tank by controlling the pH level. That's what a pH controller does.

The pH controller has a probe that goes into the water to constantly measure the water's pH. That goes to the controller where you set the pH you want to maintain. The CO2 regulator is plugged into the pH controller. Whenever the pH is higher than the setting, it turns on the CO2 regulator which doses more CO2 into the tank. When the pH reaches the setting you've set, the pH controller shuts off the CO2 regulator which causes it to stop dosing CO2 into the tank. This ensures that the CO2 level is very stable at all times and allows you to maintain a very high CO2 saturation in the water without having to worry about what happens at night (because you set it to what does not harm the fish at night).

Think of a pH controller like a light timer except it doesn't turn the CO2 regulator on/off based on the time, but the pH of the water. So it's very responsive to the amount of CO2 you have in the tank.

Another benefit that I like is that it prevents the dreaded end-of-tank-dump that happens when the CO2 cylinder empties out. What happens is the cylinder becomes so empty that it can't maintain enough pressure for the regulator to read properly. That causes the CO2 to just dump all the last bit of CO2 into the tank which has killed all the fish in tanks before. With a pH controller, even if an end-of-tank-dump happens, the pH controller would register that the pH is dropping and would turn off the regulator. It can't dump anymore CO2 into the tank when it's turned off so that actually stops the end-of-tank-dump from actually dumping a bunch of CO2 into the tank. The CO2 is measured not by pressure from the regulator, but from the pH reading in the water itself.

It'll set you back about $100 for a pH controller. Most people don't use them, but I can't imagine having injected CO2 without one. It just takes all the ups and downs out of the equation and keeps everything stable. I think the expense is what keeps most people from getting one, but when you consider how much is invested in the plants and fish, I think it's money well spent.

Here's a link to it on Amazon. Also look up google shopping and no ebay links allowed Look for Milwaukee pH Controller model SMS121

http://www.amazon.com/CO2-Controller.../dp/B0007DHSQY
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Old 12-28-2011, 08:40 AM   #9
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Oh, something that I should mention that makes the whole thing make sense.

During the day when the plants are actively growing, they use up more CO2. Therefore, the pH will rise, causing the pH controller to turn on the regulator so it will dose more CO2. The more the plants grow, the more CO2 they need, the more the pH controller will cause the CO2 to be dosed in the tank.

However, at night, the plants are not growing. So there's no reason to keep dosing the CO2. As CO2 evaporates out the surface, some CO2 needs to be dosed to maintain a stable level, and that will cause the pH controller to turn the regulator on to dose some CO2 into the tank, but not very much. Since very little CO2 is being used at night, very little is dosed at night.

In this way, the pH controller does alter how much CO2 is dosed into the tank during the day vs night. It is done based on need. And this is why it does not harm the fish.

The problem with dosing CO2 at night without a pH controller is that it's not based on need so the CO2 builds up higher and higher and higher which is harmful to the fish. However, this is not an issue with a pH controller.

This is why a pH controller is able to maintain a stable CO2 saturation in the tank day and night without harming the fish.
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Old 12-28-2011, 05:11 PM   #10
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Ok yea that seems like something every tank should have I will defr pick one up that should make my life Easter thanks again for all the help
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Old 12-28-2011, 05:59 PM   #11
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You're very welcome. I hope it helps with the BBA problem!
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Old 12-28-2011, 07:48 PM   #12
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On that note... I may try and decrease my nighttime surface agitation... I had not been using a bubbler for a long time until my 55g jungle was actually suffocating my fish at night >.< I may pick me up a smaller air stone... or something. Hmm
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Old 12-28-2011, 11:24 PM   #13
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When you get your pH controller, don't try to set it to what you expect will be your final setting. Set it to a higher pH just in case. You want to be sure you first get things running stable. Then you can slowly inch your way down while watching to see if there's any effect on your fish. You can always cut the lights and darken the room one day to mimic nighttime effect when you start getting close to what you think will be your final setting.

Until then, I would leave things as they are. Sure, the BBA may spread some, but the fewer changes, the better. Since you know you're about to make a pretty big change by switching to a pH controller, there's no reason to fiddle with things until then because you will have issues with the CO2 building up at night if you don't do something.

I'm actually going through the inching up process myself right now since I just restarted my CO2. I had to get a new probe because I had not taken care of the old one, and the pH it measured was higher than I had expected (used to be 8.0, but it's now reading 8.5!). Our water source was changed in our area so it's possible the pH really is different OR maybe the probe just isn't calibrated. I honestly don't care what the reading is as long as it reads the same number each time. So my first step was to get it stable at 8.0. I finally got that in good shape, and then I moved it down to 7.8. I just moved it down a little more. I'm about to put my drop checker on so I can get a feel for how much CO2 is in the water. I used to bring the pH down to 6.0 so I know I'm not anywhere close to 30ppm, but I've accomplished the first step: stability! From there, it's just a matter of maintaining that stability as I inch the pH down (and the CO2 saturation up).

Of course, everyone does it their own way so you don't have to do it my way. This is just how I prefer to do it. I prefer stability over most everything else. I think it's good for the fish, inverts, and plants. I believe they can adjust better if there aren't a bunch of wild swings.
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