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Old 08-08-2012, 04:24 AM   #1
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slimy algae


I thought I had seen all types of algae.....Today, while doing a water change, I noticed I had a long stringy greyish color algae which I pulled apart with my tongs. It had long strands of gray slime. Has anyone had anything like this before? It almost looked fern like, branched out......gray and slimy. weird.
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:37 AM   #2
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Can you post a picture?

When I hear slimy, I think of cyanobacteria, but it's not gray. So I'd like to see a picture of it. A close up of the algae and a FTS would be most helpful.
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:03 AM   #3
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FTS? And it's so hard just to find time to shower, I don't know when I would be able to post pictures, I just work so many hours a day. Anyway, to be more descriptive, my driftwood was pretty much covered in BBA and this slimy stuff was growing in between tufts of the stuff, and on the driftwood amongst BBA. It's not cyano for sure, I have never seen this type of stuff before.....

Tank: 40 gal
Light: T5HO 2 bulbs 24" Catalina/Duration: 7 hours
CO2: 2 BPS 24/7 Pressurized
Soil: ADA Amazonia II
Fish: None
Flow: Strong current in the tank
Plants: C. Helferi/A. nana/N.L. Java Fern/P. Erectus/R. Rotundifolia/Micro Sword.
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Old 08-09-2012, 07:30 PM   #4
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FTS = full tank shot.

Gray branched out algae sounds like staghorn algae, but I have never heard of it described as slimy. You may just have regular "wood snot" which is ugly, but normal and resolves itself in time. However, "wood snot" isn't branchy, so again, that doesn't fit.

That's why I'd really need a picture to be able to have any idea what you have. Without a picture, it's really hard to say what it might be.

Since you mentioned that the driftwood also has BBA on it, you might be best off just pulling the driftwood out of the tank, scrubbing it down, and then soaking it in water with H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) for 15-30 minutes. If nothing else, that should kill the BBA. However, this will not prevent it from coming back. To prevent algae from coming back, it would be important to find out what's out of balance in your tank and correct it. Otherwise, the algae will just keep returning.
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Old 08-10-2012, 06:56 AM   #5
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The BBA is retreating, just slower than I thought, but at least it's going away. It was definitely the fluctuation in the co2. I am now a believer in keeping the co2 on all the time and just keeping adequate surface agitation in the tank. Also, you mentioned "Wood Snot" which actually describes it perfectly. For me, when I look very closely, the structure of the "Slime" looks a little like a sponge in a saltwater tank, like microscopic branches. It looks really gross when I do a water change and the stuff is exposed to air, it just hangs on the wood, exactly like wood snot. I will have to google it lol and see if that's it. If it is wood snot, what gets rid of it I wonder, maybe google will have an answer?

P.S. I wish I had the time to take pictures. I bought a nice Nikon D90 a couple Christmas' ago and don't even have the time to take pictures. I hate working constantly, but gotta pay the bills right? Private school for the kid, mortgage, etc. Who said life would be easy I guess.
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:47 PM   #6
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Believe it or not this is quite a bit better than it was o_O And hey, at least my water is clear. It was really cloudy:



Since this picture, I have turned off one of the 24" T5HO bulbs, so now I am only running 2 out of the 3 bulbs in the fixture, and I have taken out the glosso which was not growing well obviously, and put in micro sword instead, which is putting out new runners already and has been in there for about a week and a half. The pictures color are a little off since I was contending with natural sunlight coming into the room. My wife has ordered new blinds and the old curtains came down.
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:49 PM   #7
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I took these pictures about ten minutes ago. I did a large (80%) water change and while the water level was down, I used about 1ml per gallon of aquarium volume of Hydrogen Peroxide on the branches of the driftwood to see if it would kill the BBA.
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Old 08-11-2012, 06:17 PM   #8
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Oh, my, you do have a problem! But not all is lost. You can fix this. I once had wood develop algae almost as bad and was able to clear it up surprisingly quickly.

While H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) will kill BBA, I would not rely on it as your sole source of attack when the BBA has gotten this bad. The best way to approach this would be to first clean it up manually. It's a pain, but it's the best way to go.

Anything that has BBA on it that you can take out of the tank, remove from the tank and scrub off as much BBA as you can physically remove. Scrub every inch of it. Leave as little BBA as you possibly can.

Then soak anything non-porous (such as rocks, intake pipes, spray bars) in bleach water for a couple of hours. A 1:20 bleach:water ratio should work fine. I generally just fill up my sink with water and pour bleach in without measuring.

Anything porous (such as wood) spray with H2O2 and then soak in H2O2 water. Leave it there for 30 minutes.

After the items have soaked, scrub them again. Often, dead algae will scrub off easier than living algae so you should be able to remove the last remnants of algae that wouldn't come off before. Use any stiff bristle scrub brush you can find that's not full of soap. I've also used magic erasers to clean intakes and spray bars to perfection. Once everything is clean, soak anything that was bleached in water with a high concentration of dechlorinator to remove any trace of chlorine that may remain.

For stuff that you cannot remove from the tank you will have to scrub off the BBA while it's still in the tank. I've done this with wood in tanks before. Yes, it makes a huge mess, but you'll clean that up. You can remove your fish if you'd like, but I never have, and I've never had any problems with my fish, inverts, or snails having done it (however, I wouldn't suggest this for sensitive inverts, such as CRS).

First, turn off your filters unless you're willing to clean your filters when you're done. Otherwise, the filters will get clogged very quickly. Then take anything you can find to scrub off the BBA from the wood. I've used scouring pads, scrub brushes, and toothbrushes. It's a time consuming process, but you have to do this. Scrub every inch of the wood. Get all the BBA off of it. ALL of it. It usually takes me a few hours to do this, but it's well worth the effort. The results are amazing.

Once you've cleaned off all the BBA from the wood, do a water change, doing your best to get all the BBA out of the tank. If you have to do more than one water change, then so be it. You can start out by using a small net to grab as much of the large pieces of BBA floating around which will reduce the need for multiple water changes. I've also used a large plastic spoon to "swoosh" the water around plants and the substrate to kick up debris into the water column so it can be netted. When you think you have netted all you can get, then go on and do your water change(s).

After you've finished your water change(s), turn your filter(s) back on. They should finish cleaning the water. The next day, change out your filter floss as it should be clogged.

NOW it is time to start treating with H2O2. This will kill out the small amount of BBA you could not get off the wood and decor. Use 1ml of H2o2 per gallon for your tank (so 40ml for a 40g tank). Turn off your filters. Use a syringe to squirt the H2O2 directly onto the BBA. Once you've used up the full 40ml, turn off your lights. Wait 15 minutes. Then turn on your filters. Wait another 15 minutes. Now turn on your lights. You can do a water change if you want, but it's optional.

I have used higher concentrations of H2O2 (as much as 4ml per gallon); however, the higher you go, the riskier it becomes. If you have done a good job of scrubbing off the BBA, you should not need to take the risks of using higher H2O2 doses. You can repeat the H2O2 treatments as often as twice a day, but space them far enough apart to be certain that the first treatment has completely broken down (H2O2 breaks down into water (H2O) and oxygen (O)). I generally wait 9-12 hours between treatments.

The more algae you kill with H2O2, the more you will need to keep up with water changes to remove the dead algae from the tank; otherwise, the dead algae will decompose and turn into ammonia which can cause your tank to mini-cycle (another reason why physical removal is preferred over using H2O2 with a bad outbreak of BBA like this). So it's always a good idea to test your water for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates while you're doing all this to be sure your cycle remains in good shape. If you do get a mini-cycle, perform water changes as needed to clean out the dead algae and to keep the water parameters in check. Dose with Prime every 24 hours to protect the fish from any harmful effects of the mini-cycle.

It is always best to catch an algae problem before it gets this bad, but it's not impossible to fix it once it's taken over like this. While my suggestion may include a lot of hard work and may make the tank look disastrous while you're working on it, the results are excellent. The two times I've done this, it has completely resolved the algae problems after just one round of cleaning. So the work is well worth the effort and much preferred over spending months and months of fighting the algae. I've even won the battle over a combination of BBA and Clado using this technique.
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Old 08-11-2012, 06:33 PM   #9
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Having gone over how to clean the BBA out of the tank, I think it's also very important to consider how the BBA got this bad in the first place. Ultimately, you have to figure out what caused the BBA in order to correct the problem so it won't keep coming back.

While BBA is generally attributed to low or fluctuating CO2, I don't think it's quite that simple. One thing I noticed in your pictures is your water is rather murky. That brings up two concerns:

How long has this tank been running?

What filter(s) are you using?

I see that you have a drop checker so I gather you're adding CO2. Are you doing DIY or a pressurized system? What color does your drop checker usually show? Blue? Green? Yellowish-green? Greenish-yellow?

What lighting do you have? What is the photoperiod?

Are you dosing any ferts? If so, which ferts, how often, and how much?

I'd also like a FTS (full tank shot) to get an idea of what the overall tank looks like. This is very helpful in seeing which plants you have and the density of the plant mass.
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Old 08-14-2012, 05:02 PM   #10
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The full tank shot was from a couple months ago when the water was really cloudy. I think it was that way because of all the ammonia the substrate was putting out initially. ADA soil. Anyway, the water is clear now and the plants have started to grow a lot better. I have also cut out one light from the fixture. Now I only have 2 24" bulbs running (T5HO). I will manually try and get off as much BBA as I can tomorrow then treat with peroxide again at higher levels. I don't have any fish in there anyway. I will post another full tank shot when I get home tomorrow. Thanks Complexity. I would love to take out the wood and soak it, but lol it's not going to happen. My wood is so far under all the soil and all the plants are grown around it.....and it took me forever to get it stable the way I have it, I am sure I couldn't get it back the way I have it if I took it out. I will try and remove as much as I can with it in the tank, then peroxide the hell out of it. I will post pictures as I go to show progress.
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Old 08-14-2012, 08:13 PM   #11
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Yeah, I can't take my wood out either for the same reasons. That's why I mentioned cleaning the wood while it's still in the tank. It's great you don't have any fish in the tank. That always worries me a bit when having to do a massive clean up while the fish are in the tank even though I've never had any problems with it harming the fish. It still bothers me.

If you do a good job of physically removing the BBA, you may not need to use higher amounts of H2O2. Keep in mind that the more H2O2 you use, the riskier it is—not just to fish, but also to plants. It is better to do more physical removal and less H2O2 than the other way around. The good news is that if you work very hard at the physical removal, it is possible to have a complete turn around in the tank with just the one cleaning (and a few followup light H2O2 treatments).

Also be aware that Vals, hornwort, and anacharis are all sensitive to H2O2 and should not be treated with it.

Be sure to take lots of before and after pics. If you do a good job with the physical removal of the BBA, I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised with the end result. It's worth capturing it in pictures.
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Old 08-15-2012, 05:02 AM   #12
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Old 08-15-2012, 05:08 AM   #13
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Ok, so tonight, I did a lot of work on the tank. I turned off everything and siphoned out about 90 percent of the water. When the water level was down, I used 3ml per gallon of hydrogen peroxide by pipette on the wood. The wood actually smoked a little, it was weird. Anyway, after squirting every inch of the wood and letting it sit there for about 10 minutes, I filled the tank, added prime......then took out my Rena XP3 and cleaned it really good. After all was cleaned, I hooked all equipment back up, and took pictures. The water is pretty cloudy because I rearranged the Rotala to the left side of the tank and that stirred up the water, but it should clear up soon. Oh, and I also added my fertilizers which I do twice a week....this consists of 1/4tsp Pot. Nitrate, 1/8tsp of the CSM+B, 1/8tsp Pot. Phosphate, and 3/4tsp Pot. Sulfate. I only add the potassium sulfate once a week though.....that's what I was told to do. I think of this tank as medium light planted or so. I am hoping the rotala grows in thick. I took out the P. Erectus......I just didn't like it in the tank
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Old 08-15-2012, 09:13 PM   #14
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Oh, and it's a pressurized co2 system, 2 bps. Injected by inline diffuser from GLA. The drop checker is light green, slightly a little more towards yellow than the reference solution. The only thing I really worry about is the fact that I bought this really nice light fixture from Catalina and its a 3 bulb fixture. It has 2 switches for the bulbs. 1 switch controls the 2 outer bulbs, and 1 switch controls the middle bulb. I have been running the fixture with just 2 bulbs because I have been told using all 3 would be too much light, but I really want to use it because it looks like my rotala is staying green, even at the top of the tank, and my new grass I bought, even though it's growing, some of the tips are yellowing.....I am not sure they are getting enough light.....My photoperiod is 7 hours, should I just keep using the 2 bulbs and lengthen the photoperiod? I was thinking around 10 hours, is that too long? I always thought as long as your supplying the proper fertilizers and co2, the lights could be on as long as the plants could grow?
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Old 08-16-2012, 03:00 PM   #15
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