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Old 12-27-2012, 05:18 AM   #1
skywhitney
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Unidentified Algae - Please Help!


I can't tell what kind of algae this is. Kinda looks like BBA or staghorn to me but I am not positive in either of those IDs. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:00 AM   #2
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figured some specs about my tank might help.

40b
Dual T5HO (Geisemann midday) 8hrs/day
Pressurized CO2, running about ~6 bps (comes on an hour before the lights, off at the same time as lights)
EI Dosing
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:38 PM   #3
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This is staghorn. I know it well, notice my sig line.

Ranges from dark grey to almost white, but with a hint of green if you look close. Longer than BBA, fatter strands when mature, and with a characteristic branching reminiscent of a stag's antlers - thus the name.

Never saw it at all in many, many years until it was imported on a new plant. Since then, I've had many massive battles with it. Now it apparently lays dormant in all my tanks, as it will rapidly make a reappearance should conditions favor it.

It loves high light. Even if the light isn't quite bright enough to induce it alone, it may still appear if there's strong flow across leaves. So it typically appears near the top of the tank, in a strong current. It may also appear elsewhere if leaves are covered with other algae, or weakened for any reason; though it won't grow as fast.

It will grow in CO2 levels from 0 to 60ppm, regardless of stability (or lack thereof). Even in the concentrated output from a power diffuser, the CO2 is no impediment; it simply enjoys the flow. No other nutrient parameter has any significant effect. Only limiting light and flow, plus keeping plants in peak health, prevents it.
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Old 12-27-2012, 04:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkCobra View Post
This is staghorn. I know it well, notice my sig line.

Ranges from dark grey to almost white, but with a hint of green if you look close. Longer than BBA, fatter strands when mature, and with a characteristic branching reminiscent of a stag's antlers - thus the name.

Never saw it at all in many, many years until it was imported on a new plant. Since then, I've had many massive battles with it. Now it apparently lays dormant in all my tanks, as it will rapidly make a reappearance should conditions favor it.

It loves high light. Even if the light isn't quite bright enough to induce it alone, it may still appear if there's strong flow across leaves. So it typically appears near the top of the tank, in a strong current. It may also appear elsewhere if leaves are covered with other algae, or weakened for any reason; though it won't grow as fast.

It will grow in CO2 levels from 0 to 60ppm, regardless of stability (or lack thereof). Even in the concentrated output from a power diffuser, the CO2 is no impediment; it simply enjoys the flow. No other nutrient parameter has any significant effect. Only limiting light and flow, plus keeping plants in peak health, prevents it.
Thanks for the ID! other than limiting light is there anything that I can do to help combat it?
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:14 PM   #5
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If your light is borderline, and you see it appearing in only areas of high flow, it can sometimes be avoided by redirecting flow. My 46G is most similar to your tank. I had to remove a particularly strong powerhead, because there was literally nowhere I could point it that wouldn't induce a staghorn outbreak, at least at my preferred lighting intensity.

As with most algae, it's typically susceptible to the usual H2O2 and Excel treatments, which are well detailed elsewhere. However, my staghorn seems a lot more resistant than others have reported, and these treatments had no substantial effect for me. I eventually found that H2O2 will weaken it enough that an Excel overdose or spot treatment will kill it easily.

The mantra of "fix the underlying problem, else the algae will return" holds 100% true in this case. But this combo treatment has been of great value to me in "resetting" my tank without losing too much plant mass due to trimming, while determining exactly how this algae behaves; which took many months, failed experiments, and outbreaks.
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Old 12-28-2012, 01:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkCobra View Post
This is staghorn. I know it well, notice my sig line.

Ranges from dark grey to almost white, but with a hint of green if you look close. Longer than BBA, fatter strands when mature, and with a characteristic branching reminiscent of a stag's antlers - thus the name.

Never saw it at all in many, many years until it was imported on a new plant. Since then, I've had many massive battles with it. Now it apparently lays dormant in all my tanks, as it will rapidly make a reappearance should conditions favor it.

It loves high light. Even if the light isn't quite bright enough to induce it alone, it may still appear if there's strong flow across leaves. So it typically appears near the top of the tank, in a strong current. It may also appear elsewhere if leaves are covered with other algae, or weakened for any reason; though it won't grow as fast.

It will grow in CO2 levels from 0 to 60ppm, regardless of stability (or lack thereof). Even in the concentrated output from a power diffuser, the CO2 is no impediment; it simply enjoys the flow. No other nutrient parameter has any significant effect. Only limiting light and flow, plus keeping plants in peak health, prevents it.
That is interesting. IME, staghorn appears when the tank has poor circulation and low co2. I think they are one of the easy algae to get of rid. Spot treat with excel and increase flow in the tank. BAMMM!!! They are gone.

But from your description above, it is totally opposite. You must have super staghorn or something different. Have you tried or have someone take a look of your staghorn under a microscope to see if it is the real McCoy?
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:35 AM   #7
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But from your description above, it is totally opposite. You must have super staghorn or something different. Have you tried or have someone take a look of your staghorn under a microscope to see if it is the real McCoy?
I don't doubt your differing experience at all. That's why I nicknamed it "Staghorn on Steroids", as per my sig.

It's also a bit of a shapeshifter. At initial appearance, it's darker and can be mistaken for BBA. That soon passes, and it looks identical to Skywhitney's photo - long, slender, and pale, with the characteristic branching if viewed closely. If allowed to grow unmolested for a longer time, it takes on a more peculiar and distinctive appearance. I couldn't get a decent closeup with my camera, but this picture from Christian Rubilar's MCI guide captures this final appearance perfectly:



He refers to it as Rhodophytas Sp. 3, one of the red algae family (which also includes BBA). Still, I do not discount the possibility that there are one or more lookalikes. Or perhaps even that mine is a mutant strain.

Sewingalot suggested microscopic examination as well. Of course, that was just after I'd managed to kill it every visible bit of it for the first time, and had none to send. If I recall right, shortly after that she took a forum vacation or something; at any rate, the microscopic examination never happened, and since then I lost motivation for the prospect.

Why? Her microscope work did provide some true revelations showing certain types of BGA can mimic and/or form symbiotic colonies with algae. That's valuable since we now know that treatment with antibiotics can be effective, contrary to what one would expect with "algae". But staghorn is clearly neither a bacteria or a symbiotic colony. Even if it could be demonstrated microscopically that there are two types of staghorn, it would have little benefit to the average aquarist without microscope access, if they look identical to the naked eye. More valuable is the simple knowledge that it can respond positively to *reduced* flow, since this is also contrary to what one would expect.

But by all means, if a particular staghorn infestation doesn't respond to decreased flow, try increased flow. Or vica versa. Hopefully the growth patterns in Sky's tank will give an easily readable hint on which to try first, and if that staghorn behaves more like yours, then double-checking and increasing CO2 should also be tried.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:01 PM   #8
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I am seeing it growing in both low flow and higher flow areas of the tank. I have started daily dosing of Excel and increased CO2 slightly so I will see if that makes any difference.

Here are a few more details about the current params in the tank.
PH - 6.8
Ammo - 0
Nitrites - 0
Nitrates - 0 (hmm...might be going through a small mini cycle)
KH - 8 dKh
Phosphates - 10 ppm

I have no idea what the GH of the tank is.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:39 PM   #9
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Default Controlling Algae

Hello sky...

Some algae is the sign of a healthy tank, so it's not something that you can get rid of entirely. Algae is a single celled plant, so it needs water with high phosphate levels to grow. If you feed your fish a lot of flaked food and feed most days, then your tank water is the perfect place for all kinds of algae.

I have no visible algae in my planted tanks and I'm reasonably sure it's because I don't feed flakes, only frozen foods, some dry pellets and and an algae wafer sometimes. The fish get their nourishment from foods with little or no phosphates and a bit of algae that grows on the plants.

If you're like most fish keepers, you feed too much. I feed a couple of times a week and just a little, so there's no dissolved nutrients in the water for the algae.

Take a close look at the ingredients of the foods you're feeding. Gradually cut back on the amount you feed and be more selective on what you feed. Fish get next to nothing to eat in nature and that's worked fine since forever. We need to feed our fish that way too.

Just a thought or two.

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Old 12-28-2012, 04:54 PM   #10
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Thanks for the info bbradbury. I feed NLS theraA pellets every 3 days. That shouldn't be enough to much up my water though, right?

The water out of my tap is showing phosphates so im guessing thats what is the main culprit.

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Old 12-28-2012, 05:52 PM   #11
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Common causes for Staghorn that I've read are the following:

*Low Co2
*Macro nutrient shortage or under fertilizing
*Lacking on tank maint.

Planted tanks are always changing.

Phosphates do not cause algae. I know someone who had 10ppm in their tap and no algae problems.

I hope you get your tank healthy again really soon. It looks like a nice setup.
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:18 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by skywhitney View Post
Thanks for the info bbradbury. I feed NLS theraA pellets every 3 days. That shouldn't be enough to much up my water though, right?
Note that bbradbury keeps natural tanks, and I've always observed he gives advice specific to that style; regardless of the actual style of the person he's replying to.

With your stated EI dosing, CO2 supplementation, faster plant growth, and weekly water changes, you have *much* more leeway when it comes to avoiding nutrient buildup as a result of feeding. Even ignoring that, I'd say your feeding is conservative.

In my experience, even phosphate levels up to 30ppm from feeding and fertilization have no effect on staghorn (at least my staghorn).

Quote:
Originally Posted by skywhitney View Post
The water out of my tap is showing phosphates so im guessing thats what is the main culprit.
Now this phosphate I tend to treat separately. A ppm or two seems ok, and I get 1ppm out of my tap. However, I've spoken with multiple people who have 4-5ppm or more who had chronic, unsolvable algae problems until they either used another water source, or used a phosphate reducing media. Not all people with high phosphates out of the tap experience this, but it does seem to increase the probability of problems.

Exactly why this is, I don't know. Perhaps it's an alternate form of phosphate that behaves differently. Or, since it's an undesirable contaminant for tapwater, high phosphates may be a sign of other contaminants and poor quality overall.

So how many ppm comes out of your tap?

Though even if it's high, I would definitely try all other options first, as getting an RO system or using consumable media will cost you.
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:59 PM   #13
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In my experience with this crap it's super sensitive to h2o2 and glut and will turn a festive red when it gets exposed to it.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:38 PM   #14
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So how many ppm comes out of your tap?

Though even if it's high, I would definitely try all other options first, as getting an RO system or using consumable media will cost you.
Im getting 5 ppm out of tap.

Consumable media really isn't a big deal due to a steady supply I keep for my reef.


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Old 12-28-2012, 10:39 PM   #15
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In my experience with this crap it's super sensitive to h2o2 and glut and will turn a festive red when it gets exposed to it.
Im not lucky enough to get red but there is a fair amount that is starting to turn a nice white color thankfully. Here's hoping the glut is working

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