Bleaching anubias to kill BBA. Do I submerge the roots and all?
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Old 06-22-2008, 06:33 PM   #1
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Bleaching anubias to kill BBA. Do I submerge the roots and all?


I have the most magnificent anubias plants, but they have BBA on them. These are LARGE plants. I've been afraid to put them in my tank because of the BBA. It's a worse algae than I expected.

Is it okay to give them a bleach soak, roots and all? If so, what is the concentration of bleach to water and how long do I soak them? Of course, I'd then plunge them into a bucket of extra strong dechlor to stop the bleach when they're finished soaking.

One of my main questions is about the roots. There are a ton of roots, and there is no way I can bleach the leaves without the roots getting bleached too. Will this kill the plants?
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Old 06-22-2008, 07:25 PM   #2
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i usually only put the leaves in, sometimes the rhizome. but there isnt any reason why it wouldnt be able to take the bleach on the roots to, i just like to save it the added damage (and i keep mine planted so the roots are algae free). i do 2 minute soaks, but anubias can handle more. im not sure how much bba can handle.

it shouldnt. but maybe, you can hold it by the roots and keep most of the roots from submerging; unless you want the roots bleached to be extra careful.
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Old 06-22-2008, 07:56 PM   #3
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Thanks, Marko. The roots are all over the plants so there is no way to successfully submerge the leaves without getting the roots in the bleach. As I said, these are very large anubias plants. The rhizomes are huge with leaves all the way up. The leaves aren't directed on just one side. Think of the rhizome as a tree branch with leaves in all directions. And there are also roots all along that branch. That's why whatever I do, I know the roots will be affected.

What is a good ratio of bleach to water to try? Would 1 part bleach to 19 parts water work? Or should I go weaker or stronger on the bleach?
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Old 06-22-2008, 07:58 PM   #4
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thats the ratio i used and it worked well on my nana and nana petite.
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Old 06-22-2008, 08:09 PM   #5
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Okay, that's what I'll try. I did test it out with one part of the anubias (broke off a part of a rhizome), and it seems to have worked well. But that was just a few days ago, and I don't know what the long-term affects would be.

But I can't wait any longer with my anubias or just leaving them in buckets will harm them, too. So I thought I'd double check before doing this to all my anubias.

I knew the plants had BBA on them when I got them (And I am NOT unhappy with what I received! Not in the slightest!). I just hadn't ever had to deal with BBA, and it's turned out to be a bit more difficult than I expected. So my initial idea of putting them in my tank with good CO2 went out the door because I'm afraid it could backfire and I'd end up with BBA throughout my tank. So I want to kill it from the anubias before those plants even come close to my tank.

For better or worse, it's time to start bleaching. Wish me luck!
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Old 06-22-2008, 09:15 PM   #6
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The 19 to 1 ratio is what I use and it works well with Anubias. You have nothing to worry about with the roots just make sure that the plants fully submerge so all the algae is killed. Have another bucket ready with water the same temp and with declor added to stop the the bleach action.

Anubias are very hardy so I would not worry too much about bleaching them, just don't leave them in the bleach for more than 3 minutes or so. I think the longest I left them in the bleach was 5 minutes.

You will need to gently rub the leaves to get rid of any dead algae before you place them in your tank.

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Old 06-22-2008, 09:45 PM   #7
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Well, I did it. ALL of the anubias has been bleached, dechlorinated, rinsed and is now in my 75g tank. Here's what I did, and I will update the results in this thread because I find too many threads where advice is given, but no one ever comes back to say what the results were. I try my best to update with results so anyone who reads this thread in the future won't be left hanging at the end.

I had to use a 3 gallon bucket given the size of the anubias. Fortunately, I have four of these buckets.

I used a ratio of 1 part bleach to 19 parts water. I then set the timer on the nearby microwave for 2 minutes. When I put the anubias in, I had to weigh it down to be sure all the leaves were in the bleach solution which only required that I use a small glass from my cabinet.

I then used the same 1:19 ratio for the dechlorinator in another 3 gallon bucket. I have a gallon size bottle of Stress Coat I'm trying to use up (I've switched to Prime now) so I decided to use the Stress Coat liberally to stop the chlorine action on the plants.

When the 2 minute timer went off, I tried to rinse the plants in plain water, but they're too large. So I did the best I could and then plunged them into the bucket with the dechlorinator. I continued to do this with batches of the anubias until all of the anubias had been bleached and placed in the dechlorinator bucket.

From there, I took a 3rd bucket with another liberal amount of Stress Coat. I plunged each plant in that bucket, pulling it up and down to be sure all parts of the plant was rinsed off. Now I used a fourth bucket in my sink with tap water constantly running in it (to fill and then overflow the bucket). I took each plant, one at a time, and rinsed it in that water. As I did, I grabbed a rock and used zip ties (those plastic ties with metal in the middle you get for just about everything you buy with a cord) to create fast anchors for the plants. As soon as I had a rock tied to the anubias, I ran it to my tank and dropped it in.

I repeated this for every plant.

I added Prime to my tank at the quantity you would use for the full amount of water in the tank. So since my tank is a 75g tank, I used enough Prime for 75g of water. This was to ensure that I didn't accidentally get all the bleach off the plants. This was more for the fish than the plants.

I did not try to pull off any of the dead (now gray/white) BBA since it was so strongly attached, it would rip the leaves instead of coming off. So that is now in my tank. I hope it's dead.

I have just shy of 40 amano shrimp in the tank. I don't know if they'll eat the dead BBA or not. Only time will tell. My hope is that the dead BBA will eventually melt off as I've seen people report it doing when they've used hydrogen peroxide to kill BBA.

My goal now is to (1) watch extremely closely for ANY signs of living BBA anywhere in the tank and take action instantly if I see it. (2) Get my CO2 up and running (I hope to do that later today). (3) Concentrate on caring for the plants, not fighting the algae. And (4) keeping the lights dim while I see what happens to the BBA.

From here, I'll just have to wait and see what happens! Wish me luck! This is one way to learn how to battle an algae problem! Buy the algae on plants!

I want to make it absolutely clear that I was fully informed that the plants had BBA when I bought them and am in no way upset that I'm having to deal with it now. These plants are worth it! So if anyone knows where I got these plants, understand that I am extremely happy with what I received. The source of these plants has been wonderful, and I'd get more in a heartbeat, if possible.
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Old 06-22-2008, 09:52 PM   #8
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Oh, I forgot to mention a little tip that I use to determine whether I have removed the bleach from the plants (or from anything I'm bleaching).

I smell my hands!

I do not wear gloves while working with bleach which means my hands really stink of bleach. It is a smell you cannot wash off. However, as I use the dechlorinator, it also removes the bleach from my hands.

So when my hands smell good again, I know the water my hands is in no longer has any active bleach in it.

This is one area in which I will recommend Stress Coat over Prime. Prime STINKS! But Stress Coat does not. So when whenever I'm working with bleach and my hands stink from it, I wash them in Stress Coat. They come out smelling great!
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Old 06-23-2008, 10:14 PM   #9
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Good luck and let us know the outcome. I'm considering bleaching some plants as well.
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Old 06-24-2008, 04:50 AM   #10
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I'll definitely give an update.

So far, I have anubias with gray fuzz on them. Nothing's really changed in 24 hours so I'll just have to wait.
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:41 AM   #11
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Hey, can you use this method on other plants? I have BBA on Java ferns, crypts, and a few other plants. How can I kill it off those?
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Old 07-28-2008, 06:22 AM   #12
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Complexity? HOw about an update!
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Old 07-28-2008, 04:13 PM   #13
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Update is bad news. I've lost almost all of my anubias, including those that I have had for a year and were never dipped in the bleach.

About the only thing that survived the bleach dip was the BBA. And each plant was dipped for a minimum of 2 minutes (used a digital timer). I've removed all the of the anubias to another tank, but it continues to rot. I do not believe this is related to the BBA or bleach. The whole thing turned sour after I ordered anubias from one person with most of it looking good, but one rhizome had rotted. Got a refund for that, but I question whether that anubias brought something into the tank that infected the rest of my anubias. As it is now, I have only a fraction of what I started with, and most of that is not doing well. I'll be lucky to keep a few plants out of the whole mess.

Outside of that, you'd think the bleach dip would have at least killed the BBA, especially considering that I am using pressurized CO2. But nope. Now I have BBA throughout my Fissidens fontanus. I'm going to have to remove it completely. And it's grown in so well. If it wasn't for the BBA... I also have some BBA on my java ferns, and I'm getting something that has just started growing on the border of the leaves of my Hygro. Can't tell if it's BBA, but the location and size of the algae looks suspicious.

I had hoped to have the tank fish free for a little time so I could use H202 or Excel overdose to kill out the BBA, but my fish are having problems so I opted to keep them in the tank while moving only the clearly sick fish.

After this experience, I will never ever again put anything in my tank that has BBA no matter how much I've bleached it until it has grown in another tank for over a month with no reoccurrence of the BBA. I'm fortunate since the infected plants can easily be taken out of the tank since it's tied to driftwood with the exception of the Fissidens fontanus. So far, my BBA outbreak is very small. But it is there.

The best suggestion I can offer is to remove any and all plants with BBA asap. Completely remove any mosses with BBA; they're a total loss. Remove any BBA infected leaves or stems. From there, crank up the CO2 as best you can and ensure a very good fert program to help the plants out-compete the BBA as much as possible. Add nutrient hogging plants to ensure plenty of plant mass. Then you can try the H202 or Excel overdose method for spot treating, but to be honest, I think that should be done in another tank. That way, you won't put your fish or inverts at risk, and the BBA infested plant is removed and unable to spread the BBA spores to other plants.

Or in other words... get all BBA out of the tank one way or the other the instant you see it. This is not an algae to play games with.
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Old 07-28-2008, 04:52 PM   #14
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Have you ever tried using H2O2 with fish? Worked very well for me. I did it both in full tank with fish and spot treatment in tank with fish.

Eliminating Algae with H2O2

If you use H2O2 correct it wont harm the fish.
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:45 PM   #15
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I dont know where I got the idea, but i pulled out one of my annubis covered in green spot algae and used a toothbrush to scrub the leaves with hydrogen peroxide. no immediate results, but over the next few days the algae on the leaves disappeared. The leaves and plants are still growing fine. I did the rest and it worked great.
Like I said, dont know why I tried it, but it worked. Individual results may vary.
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