Why do specific plants get algae but not others?
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Old 04-03-2015, 03:34 AM   #1
ahem
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Why do specific plants get algae but not others?


After reading quite a bit on algae and what can allow it to proliferate, one thing that seems missing from the information is an explanation why specific plants in the aquarium will get it and others don't. For example in mine, I get green fuzz on some red myrio plants but not other red myrio plants. It usually happens toward the top so I just cut it back, it grows so fast it is usually back in a week or two. But the odd thing is that one myrio can have green fuzz algae all over it but the myrio right next to it is pristine (in addition to my other stems plants like my rotalas).

I have also had no luck with hairgrasses in my tank (eco complete + river rock on top). They always develop a fuzz algae, again even when the other plants in the tank are algae free.

I don't need tips on how to control the algae, I have a whole system for that now that has been successful, just curious about the individual plant issue. Anyone know what is up with that? I feel like that might be a clue of something we're missing in the algae game.
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Old 04-03-2015, 03:50 AM   #2
Bob Madoran
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I've curious about that as well. I've read numerous posts from people saying this plant or that plant or whatever is prone to get certain algae. I know for me, the only algae I ever see is on dwarf hair grass and x-mas moss. But, those are the only two things my bristlenose pleco won't touch, so I don't actually know if the other plants are really getting any algae or not.
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Old 04-03-2015, 04:15 AM   #3
ahem
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My RCS LOVE my myrio, I am guessing because it gets algae. But they usually seem most interested in whichever one happens to have the algae. But I do see them on other "algae free" plants. So in my case, I don't think the RCS are ignoring some plants and thus allowing algae to proliferate on them.

It might be two things, related to the specific plant, perhaps related to the plant's health, and then something related to plant species that allows some species to be more prone.

Bump: Also my RCS like my hairgrass when I have it in there. But the algae appears to grow quicker than they can eat it.
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Old 04-03-2015, 03:26 PM   #4
Linwood
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It's a very good question. From my reading (but no knowledge) it would seem to relate to change - algae will grow best on plants that have a surface that is not growing rapidly. My guess is that rapidly growing surfaces are churning (for want of a better word) with active cells that may be more prepared to defend against attaching organisms.

Kind of like your toenail compared to your forehead.

I do not believe (again, with no evidence against) that it is because these slow growing plants cannot compete for nutrients, and fast growing ones do, and so the algae is starved. I mean it's flowing water -- no way the leaf can suck so much nutrient out of the surface that touches that there's no more for algae on the surface.

I think (more speculation here) that some surfaces are shaped differently, especially for something like BBA that grows on edges. My guess is the microscopic shape is more amenable for whatever kind of structures the algae builds to attach. Combine that with a rapidly changing (at the microscopic level) shape due to growth.

All guesswork. I hope a biologist shows up with real info.
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Old 04-03-2015, 04:07 PM   #5
ahem
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linwood View Post
I think (more speculation here) that some surfaces are shaped differently, especially for something like BBA that grows on edges. My guess is the microscopic shape is more amenable for whatever kind of structures the algae builds to attach. Combine that with a rapidly changing (at the microscopic level) shape due to growth.

All guesswork. I hope a biologist shows up with real info.

I think that is a good hypothesis on why specific species might be more susceptible. It does not explain why I end up with one myrio with algae on it and one right next to it pristine with no visible sign of algae. I think understanding this might be one missing link in why algae happens.

Last edited by ahem; 04-03-2015 at 04:19 PM.. Reason: readability
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Old 04-03-2015, 04:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
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I think that could be a good hypothesis on why specific species might be more susceptible. It does not explain why I end up with one myrio with algae on it and one right next to it pristine with no visible sign of algae. I feel like understanding this might be one missing link in why algae happens.
Water flow and direction and light and shadow?

There's so many variables, maybe the individual plants vary as much as children do, why will one child get a doctorate and the other end up on skid row.
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Old 04-03-2015, 06:07 PM   #7
ahem
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linwood View Post
Water flow and direction and light and shadow?

There's so many variables, maybe the individual plants vary as much as children do, why will one child get a doctorate and the other end up on skid row.
I have a Finnex Planted Plus, which on my 20G L was an algae machine until I got that on a timer. To get light for more of the day I created accent lighting from the little Truelumen lgiht strips (now I have sunrise/sunset, evening/morning, twilight, etc...). When I first did it I had one Truelumen light strip I left on 24/7. I noticed the plant right under one of the LEDs on it got algae on it. So I think a light can have a "spot effect".

In my current situation however, I made sure no LEDs were running continuously so this wouldn't happen. I think it is like you are saying perhaps, that it is something specific to an individual plant. I'm guessing plants can also have minor diseases that perhaps make them more susceptible.

But one thing that is interesting is there is not a viewpoint that plants are "sick with algae" as in something wrong internal to the plant is creating the opportunity for algae to grow (and then perhaps spread to the rest of the tank). Algae seems to be viewed as an independent external phenomenon.

Where are the algae biologists when you need one? There has to be some in these forums.
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Old 04-03-2015, 06:50 PM   #8
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I think of a plant as a complex organism with an immunity system. If you keep it happy (give it all the nutrients it needs and carbon for the amount of light it gets) it will resist algae. I think the algae is all over the tank waiting to attack a defenseless plant.
If the light is too strong, then I think the rapid growth can reveal more deficiencies in the aquarium (be it low or irregular CO2 or a missing nutrient, etc). I have an ammania grac. plant growing under a T5 and one growing under an LED - same tank - and the one under the LED grows 2-3x faster, but has algae - the slow grower is free of it.
Two side by side plants is hard to explain - maybe placement of root tabs?
Great question and I hope some more biology comes out of this discussion.
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Old 04-03-2015, 08:35 PM   #9
ahem
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Good hypothesis. I would extend it and say that systems aren't always linear like we think but multi-modal, with tipping points and runaway effects. With algae on a plant, it seems like it can create a runaway effect by (1) parasitizing the plant in some way further impairing the plant/immune system, leaving it open to even more algae growth and/or (2) block some or all of the the light to the plant, further weakening it. Might explain why one plant gets overtaken by it but another doesn't (at least not initially).
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