Plagued with BBA and GSA - Should I start over? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 06:56 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Plagued with BBA and GSA - Should I start over?

Hi all,

I know there are numerous threads that exist on BBA, how to cure it, causes, etc.
I'm relatively new to the hobby, but I have educated myself extensively on it.

Here's my dilemma: When I first set up my tank, I didn't know what I was doing at all.
What started as a small, single patch of BBA, soon took over my entire tank.
After crying profusely for 2 months straight, and threatening to never own a tank again, I learned enough about my mistakes to have relative success in dealing with most of my algae issues.

At first, I had high lighting, no pressurized CO2 (only API CO2 Booster supplementation), and not enough plants to start.

Now, here's my current setup (tank has been set up for around 8mths):

Aquarium: 6g Fluval Edge with included filter
Lighting: 14w LED that sits on top of tank glass (834 Lumens, unknown PAR)
Substrate: Eco-Complete and some Super Naturals Sand
Fertz: PPS-Pro Method, .5ml Macro dosed daily, .25ml Micro dosed daily, not a fert, but also dose .5ml API CO2 Booster daily
Plants: S. Repens, DBT, Assorted Buce, Banana Plant, Rotala, Creeping Jenny, Anubias Nana Petite, Monte Carlo, DHG, Water Sprite, Utricularia Gramnifolia
Livestock: Asst. Neocaridina, 3x CPDs, 2x EDRs, 1x Zebra Nerite
CO2: Pressurized CO2, diffuser placed under filter, drop checker always green when lights on.

I have been spot dosing H202 for riding the tank of BBA. Though it's showing relative success with the BBA turning red, I think I'm still getting some new BBA.

My rocks are especially hit hard by it. Where I've spot dosed H202, the BBA has turned red, but not gone away. It's like a puffy red coating on most of the rocks.

Slowly but surely the GSA is disappearing, and I'm starting to see the gray of the rocks re-emerge.
I've also removed most of the leaves from the buce and anubias with BBA.

Attached are some images.

The tank doesn't look bad, per-se, but I just hate that my rocks are covered with BBA and dead red leftover BBA.

I'm almost to the point of wanting to take the tank apart and start over, but I'm not sure if that's the best move.
My questions are:

If my parameters are correct, will the BBA continue to turn red and the red eventually go away?
Should I scrap it all and start over?
Are there other things I can do (besides emptying the tank of livestock) to help eliminate BBA?

Could really use some advice.
Thank you in advance for any help.

Please let me know if more pics or info are needed.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 03:38 AM
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Yes if your parameters are correct the BBA will go away. I've read that for years here but it actually has happened in my tank recently.

It's very likely you have too much light over the tank. Cut back some or shade the tank, I used ordinary plastic window screen mesh before I bought programmable LED lights. There's a limit, your plants will suffer if you cut back too much. Be sure the actual water pH is right when lighting goes on and turn off CO2 a couple hours before lights go out and make good and sure you've got good surface water movement all the time. Drop checkers are nifty little things but they are slow reacting.

Cooked BBA is edible, your shrimp ought to be eating it. GSA softens up if you overdose phosphorus. Plants may not need it but I sure do!

Increase water changes in amount and frequency when fighting algae. Earlier this year I increased light too quickly over a newly scaped tank and BBA appeared. Dropped noon light back by a couple hours, doubled up on already huge water changes and crossing my fingers and knocking on wood think it's gone again. Water changes are underrated. Nitrate may be 'perfect' but there are an infinite number of other chemicals in the water that help algae more than they help plants that we cannot test for.

Maybe I'm lazy but would much rather work on improving conditions than take everything down and redo it. Unless your plan is perfect the same thing is going to happen again as the tank has to recycle and redevelop the various microfauna populations.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathyy View Post
Yes if your parameters are correct the BBA will go away. I've read that for years here but it actually has happened in my tank recently.

It's very likely you have too much light over the tank. Cut back some or shade the tank, I used ordinary plastic window screen mesh before I bought programmable LED lights. There's a limit, your plants will suffer if you cut back too much. Be sure the actual water pH is right when lighting goes on and turn off CO2 a couple hours before lights go out and make good and sure you've got good surface water movement all the time. Drop checkers are nifty little things but they are slow reacting.

Cooked BBA is edible, your shrimp ought to be eating it. GSA softens up if you overdose phosphorus. Plants may not need it but I sure do!

Increase water changes in amount and frequency when fighting algae. Earlier this year I increased light too quickly over a newly scaped tank and BBA appeared. Dropped noon light back by a couple hours, doubled up on already huge water changes and crossing my fingers and knocking on wood think it's gone again. Water changes are underrated. Nitrate may be 'perfect' but there are an infinite number of other chemicals in the water that help algae more than they help plants that we cannot test for.

Maybe I'm lazy but would much rather work on improving conditions than take everything down and redo it. Unless your plan is perfect the same thing is going to happen again as the tank has to recycle and redevelop the various microfauna populations.
Yes, the idea of starting over is terrifying. Haha. That's why I'm hoping it's not a lost cause.

The light does have a timer mechanism, where the light can be set to various intensities.
Unfortunately, when power is cut (I am using a power timer) and resupplied, it goes to full 100% intensity.
The power timer is the only way I can build in a midday rest period.
Otherwise, it's a straight 9hr / 24hr cycle.
I guess I need to manually adjust the light down when it first engages.
Thank you! Great suggestions.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 04:06 PM
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Either put shade and use the timer or reduce the % and forget the timer. I've got light over my tank for 18 hours a day but half is very low, 30% and less with a noon of 60%. It's a balancing act as plants need length of day as they cannot take in enough energy in a blast of light but if it is too low they'll starve.


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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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Either put shade and use the timer or reduce the % and forget the timer. I've got light over my tank for 18 hours a day but half is very low, 30% and less with a noon of 60%. It's a balancing act as plants need length of day as they cannot take in enough energy in a blast of light but if it is too low they'll starve.
Thank you so much for your help. I actually already had some plastic mesh screen that I think could work perfectly. I attached a pic. This reduces the light substantially, and I'll need to figure out the balance of how much out to block. Since the intensity is way down, I added 1.5 hrs to the light duration for a total of 9hrs lights on. In regards to the balance, any way to know that it's right?
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 10:34 PM
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Putting shade on a tank is fine, but you need to make sure the plants are getting enough light. Some of those carpeting plants you have need good light. You could run dimmer light for 18 hrs it's not going to grow high light demand plants.

You need to find out about how much PAR you have. If shading the light reduces the intensity to much you need to either shorten the photo period or use a short burst of 2 hrs strong light and the rest dimmer.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-18-2020, 03:24 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Asteroid View Post
Putting shade on a tank is fine, but you need to make sure the plants are getting enough light. Some of those carpeting plants you have need good light. You could run dimmer light for 18 hrs it's not going to grow high light demand plants.

You need to find out about how much PAR you have. If shading the light reduces the intensity to much you need to either shorten the photo period or use a short burst of 2 hrs strong light and the rest dimmer.

M
Thanks. Unfortunately, my light on this tank does not have multiple intensity settings when used with a timer. So, since it must be at 100% while lights on, I have shaded approximately half the LEDs to bring the intensity down. If I see any reaching from the DBT, I'll adjust the screen to allow more light.

While I do understand the use for PAR and what it represents, isn't that more of a recent metric used in aquariums? I don't have a PAR meter, so I'm planning to go off visual cues, reading the plants reactions, algae, etc. Hopefully, can get my levels balanced based on observation.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-18-2020, 04:54 AM
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I would actually do the opposite and keep the current lights you have but pump up the CO2, this will help the plants grow more and it'll complete more with the algae

It's what Tom Barr always recommends and since you have the pressurized system it seems like it will work easier rather than trying to throttle back.

I would recommend doing a 6 hour high light photo period with the CO2 cranked up and see how the plants grow for a few weeks, the algae should be outcompeted for nutrients.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-18-2020, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fadedheo View Post
...
While I do understand the use for PAR and what it represents, isn't that more of a recent metric used in aquariums? I don't have a PAR meter, so I'm planning to go off visual cues, reading the plants reactions, algae, etc. Hopefully, can get my levels balanced based on observation.
Yes PAR is more recent, but its the best right now at understanding what some plants need to grow. Before all the LED lights came out it used to be WPG (watts per gallon), but there were issues with that based on tank size.

I mostly made the point because you said you added 1.5 hrs, that won't help if the plants need stronger light. As @monkeyruler90 stated, you do want to make sure your getting the most out of your co2, but in hardscape heavy tanks with limited plant mass you can only get so much out of co2, since it's directly related to plant mass for nutrient uptake, so your left with lights, increasing water changes, and even using carbon in the filter will help alot. Every startup I do, i start with 4 hrs of light and move up from there. I've grown full carpets with 2 hrs peak and 4 hrs total and zero algae.

P.S. You could try scrubbing the rocks with some excel/glut on a toothbrush, followed by using a filter tube to suction it out.


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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-18-2020, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you! I really appreciate all the suggestions.

Generally speaking, is there any consensus on whether a longer lighting period (10hrs) with moderate intensity or shorter lighting period (6-8hrs) with high intensity is "better" for algae control and fast plant growth?

I also realize that consensus is a dirty word in aquarium speak. Haha

My drop checker is already slighting ticking toward yellow at the end of the lighting cycle, so I'm concerned that increasing that to compensate could harm my "bugs" (as my wife calls them).

My CO2 distribution/efficiency probably isn't the greatest. I have the diffuser under my outflow from the HOB filter. I know canister is better, but if I spend any more on my tanks, my wife will leave me and take the kids. I like my wife, and my kids are cool, so that's not ideal.

I'm leaning toward the slightly reduced intensity, and I'll report back in a couple of weeks.
I already wish my lights could be on longer (currently 8.5hrs), so a shorter lighting period seems like someone's taking my candy away, and I'm a grown ass man.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-18-2020, 03:40 PM
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Generally speaking, is there any consensus on whether a longer lighting period (10hrs) with moderate intensity or shorter lighting period (6-8hrs) with high intensity is "better" for algae control and fast plant growth?
LOL on the family and wanting to see your tank.

There can be no consensus on what's better. If you dim the lights and its not enough for the plants then you end up with dying plant tissue and even more algae even if you dim the lights. As mentioned increasing the light period will just grow algae. If that was a cure, no one would buy expensive high-lighting they would just increase their light period and grow anything.

Sorry nature doesn't always work into your ideal viewing period in your man cave.


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