what is algae control philosophy, with empirical support?
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Old 02-22-2013, 05:47 PM   #1
TheDrake
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what is algae control philosophy, with empirical support?


They used to say that limiting one nutrient, like phosphate, could keep algae in check vs plants. Now the norm seems to be EI, providing all nutrients plants need without limits. Is the philosophy then that, when plants have everything they need, they successfully out-compete algae? In other words, what keeps algae (but not plants) in check in a healthy planted tank? And do we have experimental evidence to support our answers?

thanks for enlightening me!
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:00 PM   #2
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A healthy planted tank will keep algae in check. Healthy plants growing well along with some algae crew and good maintenance.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:46 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDrake View Post
They used to say that limiting one nutrient, like phosphate, could keep algae in check vs plants.

thanks for enlightening me!
Well I tried that and got the worst algae invasion ever! The more I think of this the less i find it makes sense. Algae's needs are so less than plants, how can you limit nutrients without limiting plants? plants will be affected well before algae no?

So limiting nutrients can only hurt plants not algae in my personal, newbie, opinion.

I keep 1ppm phosphates now in my tank, plants are fine, no algae invasion.

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Old 02-22-2013, 06:55 PM   #4
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Yes, do not limit your nutrients. However, lets say you have a low light tank, decent bioload, no CO2, few plants. Do you need EI? Most probably not. I wouldn't dose EI for that setup. The waste from fish will be enough to supply the plants. In fact, i would think that EI would just build nutrients over time to a very toxic level since they arent being consumed and even teh 50% WC wont reset the tank enough such that the buildup is being managed.
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:23 AM   #5
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EI is a waste of dry fert. My tank got massive algae when I was dosing with EI. I switched to PPS-Pro a week ago and most algae are gone. At least they don't grow on my glass.
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:55 AM   #6
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Sorry to hear issues with EI. I been dosing EI for 4 months, never had algae blooms that weren't due to other issues like CO2 or rescaping the tank without doing a water change. I have had over 100ppm of nitrates as well as i was dosing 2x EI on accident. Still no bloom. Its really dependednt on CO2, flow, and plant biosmass. If you dont have many plants or they arent that large, or have low light, EI might give you issues as youre just dumping tons of nutrients in. But seriously to get to that point, you would have little adding to that kind of tank in teh first place.
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Old 02-23-2013, 03:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDrake View Post
Is the philosophy then that, when plants have everything they need, they successfully out-compete algae?
I always hated the "out-compete" claim. It's inaccurate. If there's competition, then something must be limited. But in EI, nothing is limited.

So we can't claim competition, unless it's for something else that we're not adding - which the algae needs, and the plants do not yet will still use and eliminate. Possible, but not proven, and certainly not the only possibility.

To tell the truth no one really knows why it's possible to grow plants without algae. There is little scientific or empirical evidence that directly applies, and likely not to be any for a long time, as there's just no environmental or economical reason to perform such research.

However, that's a very limited view. Instead view every planted tank hobbyist as a researcher, and every tank as an experiment. Now you have thousands of long-term studies in progress, and though individually they aren't as controlled or in agreement as some would like, together their scope greatly exceeds that of any traditional scientific study.

But it is of course up to you to interpret the results.

To sum up my interpretation:

1) Provide all the plants can actually use, and little more. If there's any question, always err on the side of excess, which is tolerated far better than deficiency.

2) Algae is initially caused by poor plant health or conditions, but once present, it seems to create conditions favorable for itself. Use its presence as a sign that you may not have fulfilled #1, but if you're certain you have and the algae still persists, attack the algae directly.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:24 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanLe View Post
EI is a waste of dry fert. My tank got massive algae when I was dosing with EI. I switched to PPS-Pro a week ago and most algae are gone. At least they don't grow on my glass.
I dose EI and my tank looks pretty decent:



How about a Video of another?

http://youtu.be/V3VNwfNtNA0


I can also find nice examples of bad algae for every single method of dosing.

So clearly and without any doubt, there are no issues with my own tanks and those of many many other people using EI. If you had an issue with CO2, or light or both prior...........then EI will only highlight those management issues, since a non limiting potentially limiting nutient is removed.
So nutrients are no longer DEPENDENT.

This helps teach people to manage their CO2 and light.
Which are far larger players in making the long term management of the aquarium much simpler and easier to reach the hobbyists goal.

Balance includes Light and CO2 also, not JUST nutrients alone. If EI causes problems or algae, it's not EI's fault, its yours, mine, or whoever is using it.
Do not blame nutrients because you have not mastered light or CO2 or both.
It's not the nutrient's fault, if it was, my aquariums would not be possible, but clearly, they are.

So this suggest it MUST be some other cause other than excess nutrients if you failed. Same logic applies equally to me or anyone.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:33 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by DarkCobra View Post
To tell the truth no one really knows why it's possible to grow plants without algae. There is little scientific or empirical evidence that directly applies, and likely not to be any for a long time, as there's just no environmental or economical reason to perform such research.

However, that's a very limited view. Instead view every planted tank hobbyist as a researcher, and every tank as an experiment. Now you have thousands of long-term studies in progress, and though individually they aren't as controlled or in agreement as some would like, together their scope greatly exceeds that of any traditional scientific study.

But it is of course up to you to interpret the results.

To sum up my interpretation:

1) Provide all the plants can actually use, and little more. If there's any question, always err on the side of excess, which is tolerated far better than deficiency.

2) Algae is initially caused by poor plant health or conditions, but once present, it seems to create conditions favorable for itself. Use its presence as a sign that you may not have fulfilled #1, but if you're certain you have and the algae still persists, attack the algae directly.
Agree 110% with this.

I think we can say some about what causes specific species of algae to bloom.

There is strong correlation for some possible reasons, many of which are indirectly linked to poor plant growth, or lack of maintenance and trimming, general care.

Also, if we find one likely cause for algae, say low NO3= BGA.........this does not imply all other possible reasons might not be true, or not, there may be multiple reasons for algae.

Setting up controls for an experiment for algae and/or plant growth implies that the aquarist has complete mastery of light, CO2 and ferts, as well as good horticultural skills, that's a tall order for a newbie to acquire. Even an intermediate hobbyists. They try, but it's very hard for them to isolate and figure out things step wise.

And without a control for the test, they cannot isolate much independently. Some will have good light and CO2 balance, and thus do well with EI, others, not so well, the same can be said for ADA, PPS, PMDD etc, we can find nice algae ridden tanks for any method of dosing.

This is not surprising since algae are not limited in all cases, only the plants are. So there's strong empirical support, but it's falsification, not causation.
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:23 PM   #10
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Thanks so much everyone for your thoughts. Maybe EI is not universal, but lots of people seem to be using it with great results. So my question is not whether it works, but why. When CO2, light, and ferts are within certain parameters (for which we seem to now have a pretty good feel), one starts with lots of healthy plants, water is changed regularly and organics are low, plants thrive and algae all but disappears. Why? It’s not for lack of space—algae could grow on the glass, wood, leaves, water column, etc., but it doesn’t. Why? Raising NO3 and seeing BGA disappear is correlation, not causation. NO3 is not toxic to BGA, right, I mean, it needs N too right? Same for PO4 and GSA, e.g. I’m sure GSA likes PO4, and if we were trying to raise GSA we would need some P in the mix somewhere, right? Adding these ‘algae foods’ will not in itself make algae go away. So what is it about these ‘magical’ parameters we use that favors plants over algae? I can only imagine 2 explanations--either:
(1) abundant healthy happy plants under ideal parameters outcompete algae for a particular nutrient that it needs, e.g., given everything else it needs in unlimited amounts, plants are better than algae at capturing PO4. but as dark cobra says, if PO4 is not really limited either under EI, how can there be competition?
or
(2) abundant healthy happy plants under ideal parameters release some sort of allelopathic chemical that inhibits algae. Identify that and you stand to make some money!

or something else we have not yet imagined..intervention from Poseidon?

Thanks for amusing me here; I’m just the sort of person who wants to know why.
cheers
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Old 02-25-2013, 04:32 PM   #11
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There is also evidence, scientific evidence that healthy plants produce substances that inhibit the growth of other plants and algae. Although the research on this matter is far from being complete.

Aquatic plants are known to to do this, not just the emersed ones.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allelopathy

Maybe I begin to be off-topic.

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Old 02-25-2013, 04:59 PM   #12
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Default what is algae control philosophy, with empirical support?

I've found that since I've been keeping only shrimp planted tanks this my temperatures are not tropical (65-72F) algae is not a problem. Co2 and ph seem easier to keep stable.

Changing water or not, didn't make much difference. (Again, there is no fish in this tanks)

Dosing didn't make much difference as long as there was no limiting factor.

Imo, given that there is enough plant mass... Light is the key to the rate of growth or metabolism of the tank, thus dictating the need for more or less nutrients including CO2.

And temperature dictates how stable it is.

I compare algae with cancer. We all have cancer cells in our bodies. We need to NOT be a good host for them to thrive.
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Old 02-25-2013, 05:01 PM   #13
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Default what is algae control philosophy, with empirical support?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDrake View Post
Thanks so much everyone for your thoughts. Maybe EI is not universal, but lots of people seem to be using it with great results. So my question is not whether it works, but why. When CO2, light, and ferts are within certain parameters (for which we seem to now have a pretty good feel), one starts with lots of healthy plants, water is changed regularly and organics are low, plants thrive and algae all but disappears. Why? It’s not for lack of space—algae could grow on the glass, wood, leaves, water column, etc., but it doesn’t. Why? Raising NO3 and seeing BGA disappear is correlation, not causation. NO3 is not toxic to BGA, right, I mean, it needs N too right? Same for PO4 and GSA, e.g. I’m sure GSA likes PO4, and if we were trying to raise GSA we would need some P in the mix somewhere, right? Adding these ‘algae foods’ will not in itself make algae go away. So what is it about these ‘magical’ parameters we use that favors plants over algae? I can only imagine 2 explanations--either:
(1) abundant healthy happy plants under ideal parameters outcompete algae for a particular nutrient that it needs, e.g., given everything else it needs in unlimited amounts, plants are better than algae at capturing PO4. but as dark cobra says, if PO4 is not really limited either under EI, how can there be competition?
or
(2) abundant healthy happy plants under ideal parameters release some sort of allelopathic chemical that inhibits algae. Identify that and you stand to make some money!

or something else we have not yet imagined..intervention from Poseidon?

Thanks for amusing me here; I’m just the sort of person who wants to know why.
cheers
This is a great summary of what has been bothering me for a while. Thanks for putting it into words so clearly. There is definitely something going on that is being used by planted tank enthusiasts but is not yet completely understood.
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