My Plan For Stubborn Cynobacteria - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-11-2020, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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My Plan For Stubborn Cynobacteria

I have a discus tank which results in...



Higher nitrates, higher Phosphate, and more nutrients. Currently I do 3X 50-60% WCs a week turning over a minimum of 150% per week.


My tap water parameters: 5-10ppm Nitrate and 1ppm Phosphate.

At the moment my tank is bare bottom. Lighting is T5 down 4-5 hours max.

And the only way I can see forward is going against the grain of Discus normality. Which means returning to substrate (to hold plants) pressurized Co2 and ferts to grow plants and as many fast growing plants I can find that will survive at discus temps.

Given the above factors is there anything else I should consider? After 3 months of this stubborn algae I'm at my wits end.

Please advise
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-11-2020, 08:55 PM
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If it's cyano, use Chemiclean.

I don't understand why you NO3 and PO4 and other nutrient levels are high? How many discus at what size in how big of a tank are we talking here?
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-11-2020, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Quagulator View Post
If it's cyano, use Chemiclean.

I don't understand why you NO3 and PO4 and other nutrient levels are high? How many discus at what size in how big of a tank are we talking here?
450L/120 gal with an extra 80L of filtration via Fluval FX6 and Oase 350

Previously I had 8 discus but needed to re-home one due to a crazy amount of violence. I also have 24 lemon tetras.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-11-2020, 11:31 PM
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Three 60% water changes, is actually about 95% of the water replaced in a week rather than 150% as you replace some of the new each change. However, if you are replacing 95% of the water and still getting high nitrates (how high is high?) something is going wrong somewhere... over stocking, over feeding, cycle issue etc.

Have you checked everything - in the tank itself not just your tap - hardness, ph, nitrates etc. gives you an idea of what's happening.

I don't think planting the tank is going to help unless you work out the root of the problem.

What have you tried so far to resolve the cyano?
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-12-2020, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tamsin View Post
Three 60% water changes, is actually about 95% of the water replaced in a week rather than 150% as you replace some of the new each change. However, if you are replacing 95% of the water and still getting high nitrates (how high is high?) something is going wrong somewhere... over stocking, over feeding, cycle issue etc.

Have you checked everything - in the tank itself not just your tap - hardness, ph, nitrates etc. gives you an idea of what's happening.

I don't think planting the tank is going to help unless you work out the root of the problem.

What have you tried so far to resolve the cyano?
I appreciate the reply and input here but the highlighted part makes no sense to me.

My tap water is 5ppm Nitrate and 1-5ppm Phos. (Phos fluctuates.) The plan is to eliminate excess Nitrate and Phos and reduce lighting to counter the cyno.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-12-2020, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RollaPrime View Post
I appreciate the reply and input here but the highlighted part makes no sense to me.

My tap water is 5ppm Nitrate and 1-5ppm Phos. (Phos fluctuates.) The plan is to eliminate excess Nitrate and Phos and reduce lighting to counter the cyno.

When you do multiple changes, you are taking change some of the old water and some of the new water from the previous change, so you can't add just add them together - i.e. three 50% change don't mean you've changed out 150% of the original water.



After the first 50% change you have 50% old water and 50% new water in the tank.
After the next 50% change you 25% old water and 75% new water in the tank

After the next 50% change you have 12.5% old water and 87.5% new water tank


As you are doing fairly big changes it shouldn't make much difference to you, but it might be one of the reasons you don't see the nitrates drop as much as you'd expect if you are assuming at the end of the week you've change out all the old water and more.


What's the nitrate reading actually in your tank water rather than your tap? 5ppm is fine and if that's your tap your very unlikely get it any lower in the tank. Changing as much as you do I'd expect it to be close to 5ppm in the tank. If you are thinking of going planted you need some nitrate and phosphate anyway as they need that for growth.


My suspicion is that you are incorrectly blaming nitrates/phos, unless you are generating an awful lot I wouldn't expect your tank to be that much above the tap. Again, need the tank, rather than tap, reading to be sure. Once you have cyano it will hang about until you kill it - dirty substrate and low flow can be triggers but often just resolving those won't stop it. You need to clean thoroughly to remove it visually and then completely black out the tank (no light, even ambient from the room) to kill it off completely or it will return.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-12-2020, 06:46 PM
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Get some floating plants. Will both cut light reaching tank and also clean water. You won’t need CO2 because they have access to all they want in air. About 1/3-1/2 tank covered in frogbit will work. Fish will also be happier with a little floating cover.
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-12-2020, 07:05 PM
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Can we get some more details, including:

What actual tank water parameters are?

How many T5 bulbs are you running? Trying to understand how much light is going into the tank

What are you feeding and how often?

How often do you clean the filters?

Really hard to help unless there are more details!
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-12-2020, 10:32 PM
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I've had cyanobacteria in 3 of my tanks. Aggressive removal by hand and use of the product chemiclean has helped cut it back a TON.
My 75g planted tank was covered in cyano bacteria. After spending 4 hours crunched over the rim removing every bit I could see and ding 2 rounds of chemiclean (dose-48 hours-wc) and currently there is only the tiniest bit..have hair algae now but that's my fault for adding an extra light I didn't need. Side note: if you have a lid clean the lid and rim of the tank the lid sits on-had a lot of cyanobacteria build up here.
Rachel O'leary on youtube started using some other product to deal with cyanobacteria but never did a follow up video to see if it was any help. Not tried it so cant comment on it.

Due to photobuckets new bs cost for use of images on forums I have deleted all photobucket accounts. I apologize if you enjoyed or found my photos helpful.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-13-2020, 09:22 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grobbins48 View Post
Can we get some more details, including:

What actual tank water parameters are?

How many T5 bulbs are you running? Trying to understand how much light is going into the tank

What are you feeding and how often?

How often do you clean the filters?

Really hard to help unless there are more details!

My Nitrates reach 10ppm every 3 days. Phosphate at about 5ppm. Ammonia and Nitrite are both 0ppm.
I feed FDAB and various flake/ My lights are led 2XT5. Specifically 62W combined. However I have purchased and brightness adjustable unit. The following pics are an example of the the interface and output. Not an actual setting I'm using as it hasn't been added to the tank yet.




And the resulting output






I clean the FX6 filter once every 2 months. I have an Oase 350 filter and one third of the canister is an internal pre filter. The oase is damn near pristine. I remove the internal pre filter and clean that every two weeks...



Quote:
Originally Posted by AquaAurora View Post
I've had cyanobacteria in 3 of my tanks. Aggressive removal by hand and use of the product chemiclean has helped cut it back a TON.
My 75g planted tank was covered in cyano bacteria. After spending 4 hours crunched over the rim removing every bit I could see and ding 2 rounds of chemiclean (dose-48 hours-wc) and currently there is only the tiniest bit..have hair algae now but that's my fault for adding an extra light I didn't need. Side note: if you have a lid clean the lid and rim of the tank the lid sits on-had a lot of cyanobacteria build up here.
Rachel O'leary on youtube started using some other product to deal with cyanobacteria but never did a follow up video to see if it was any help. Not tried it so cant comment on it.
Chemi clean isn't available here. I watched O'leary's cyno vid too. She does great content but I haven't seen a follow up either.

@tamsin I hate to disagree especially since you took the time to provide advice about my situation. That said, your view on what constitutes a percentage of water change is completely off and foreign especially to discus keepers who rely heavily on water changes. Some even do 90% daily... Which wouldn't be 90% by your calculations. I apologize in advance if it's just my comprehension which is at fault here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
Get some floating plants. Will both cut light reaching tank and also clean water. You won’t need CO2 because they have access to all they want in air. About 1/3-1/2 tank covered in frogbit will work. Fish will also be happier with a little floating cover.
Keeping discus means I need more surface tension to compensate for the lower amount of oxygen at higher temps. Now that I'll be adding CO2 I wont be able to reduce that level of surface tension and the floating plants will most likely get churned into mush seeing as they thrive in calmer conditions. I have looked into pothos (spelling?) but I'm not sure a jungle sprawling outside of the tank will go down well with the lady in my life lol
...

I appreciate all the info and feedback guys, I really do. My understanding of what sustains cyno is excess light, nutrients, phos and nitrate. As my discus have grown I believe the nutrients and nitrate have become more of a factor and like the rest of you, being a planted guy I believe a decent amount of plants to out compete the cyno is perhaps the best option. I purchased a tub of seachem Phosguard and will add that to the oase pre filter if the plants don't eliminate it. Blackouts have an adverse affect on it. I recently did a 5 day black out and it began to die off which is why I spent way too much on an adjustable output led unit to replace the T5s.

Last edited by RollaPrime; 02-13-2020 at 09:40 AM. Reason: quote
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-14-2020, 12:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RollaPrime View Post
@tamsin I hate to disagree especially since you took the time to provide advice about my situation. That said, your view on what constitutes a percentage of water change is completely off and foreign especially to discus keepers who rely heavily on water changes. Some even do 90% daily... Which wouldn't be 90% by your calculations. I apologize in advance if it's just my comprehension which is at fault here.

It's probably my explaining, I feel like it would be easier with props


Imagine you have a cup of milk, pour out half the milk and top up with water, you'd agree I'll now have 50/50 water and milk - right? If you pour out half of that 50/50 milk/water cup top it up with water again - do you now have a glass of pure water? After all that's two 50% changes ... so you'd think that means now you have 100% water? Nope, you still have milky water!! (Feel free to try it ) To be accurate you now have 25% milk and 75% water, because when you poured out half the glass the second time you were pouring out some milk and some of the new water, not just milk. If you kept going you'd eventually dilute it until you couldn't detect milk. On the other hand, if you poured out all the milk in one go and then refilled with water then you would have 100% water. That's why two 50% changes don't = a 100% change.... and a 90% in one go change makes a 90% change. You'd need to do 3-4 50% changes to achieve the same dilution as a single 90%.



1st 50% change = 50% new water

2nd 50% change = 75% new water
3rd 50% change = 87.5% new water

4th 50% change = 93.75% new water



Now, to make it worse, imagine the water you are refilling with already has some milk in! Just like your tap water already has nitrates.


If your tank has 10ppm and your tap has 5ppm your numbers will look like this:


1st 50% change = 7.5ppm

2nd 50% change = 6.25ppm

3rd 50% change = 5.625ppm


That's assuming no more nitrate is generated, when we know it is as it's raising from 5 to 10ppm in 3 days. Assuming your water change is every 3 days that makes your number look like:


1st 50% change = 7.5ppm (raising to 12.5ppm)
2nd 50% change = 8.75ppm (raising to 13.75ppm)
3rd 50% change = 9.37ppm (raising to 14.375ppm)
4th 50% change = 9.6875 (raising to 14.6975ppm)
5th 50% change = 9.84375 .... and so on


As you can see it stabilises out just under 10ppm. It's physically impossible for you to water change your nitrates lower.



I apologise for all the maths, which is a bit off topic to your original question


10ppm nitrates shouldn't cause the cyano though, it's not a terrible number. My water comes out the tap at 40ppm. If you wanted to try and reduce it, and it wouldn't be by much (we're talking the difference between stabilising around 5.3ppm v. 9.8ppm) your best bet would be floating plants or plants with the roots in the water as they grow strongest with access to CO2 in the air. A regular planted tank would be nice, but I wouldn't count on it making a significant difference to nitrates. And, if you do drop them you'd end up needing to add them back in to keep the plants healthy.



The fact you saw the cyano die off with a five day blackout is great, I think that is your cure. My advice is to physically remove as much cyano as you can, use a tooth brush and a syphon, take anything out you can to scrub. You want the tank to look cyano free. Then do a five day blackout again, making sure to cover the tank to prevent ambient light. Fingers crossed once you've done that it won't reappear. Lowering the light following should help make sure. I've successfully cured it that way myself.
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-14-2020, 01:01 AM
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I mean maybe this is oversimplified but you can either cut the light intensity or length back, put plants and co2 in, or use RO water to cut back on contaminants even more.

Is there a y chance there is detritus on the substrate or is this just glass and water?
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-14-2020, 03:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamsin View Post
It's probably my explaining, I feel like it would be easier with props


Imagine you have a cup of milk, pour out half the milk and top up with water, you'd agree I'll now have 50/50 water and milk - right? If you pour out half of that 50/50 milk/water cup top it up with water again - do you now have a glass of pure water? After all that's two 50% changes ... so you'd think that means now you have 100% water? Nope, you still have milky water!! (Feel free to try it ) To be accurate you now have 25% milk and 75% water, because when you poured out half the glass the second time you were pouring out some milk and some of the new water, not just milk. If you kept going you'd eventually dilute it until you couldn't detect milk. On the other hand, if you poured out all the milk in one go and then refilled with water then you would have 100% water. That's why two 50% changes don't = a 100% change.... and a 90% in one go change makes a 90% change. You'd need to do 3-4 50% changes to achieve the same dilution as a single 90%.



1st 50% change = 50% new water

2nd 50% change = 75% new water
3rd 50% change = 87.5% new water

4th 50% change = 93.75% new water



Now, to make it worse, imagine the water you are refilling with already has some milk in! Just like your tap water already has nitrates.


If your tank has 10ppm and your tap has 5ppm your numbers will look like this:


1st 50% change = 7.5ppm

2nd 50% change = 6.25ppm

3rd 50% change = 5.625ppm


That's assuming no more nitrate is generated, when we know it is as it's raising from 5 to 10ppm in 3 days. Assuming your water change is every 3 days that makes your number look like:


1st 50% change = 7.5ppm (raising to 12.5ppm)
2nd 50% change = 8.75ppm (raising to 13.75ppm)
3rd 50% change = 9.37ppm (raising to 14.375ppm)
4th 50% change = 9.6875 (raising to 14.6975ppm)
5th 50% change = 9.84375 .... and so on


As you can see it stabilises out just under 10ppm. It's physically impossible for you to water change your nitrates lower.



I apologise for all the maths, which is a bit off topic to your original question


10ppm nitrates shouldn't cause the cyano though, it's not a terrible number. My water comes out the tap at 40ppm. If you wanted to try and reduce it, and it wouldn't be by much (we're talking the difference between stabilising around 5.3ppm v. 9.8ppm) your best bet would be floating plants or plants with the roots in the water as they grow strongest with access to CO2 in the air. A regular planted tank would be nice, but I wouldn't count on it making a significant difference to nitrates. And, if you do drop them you'd end up needing to add them back in to keep the plants healthy.



The fact you saw the cyano die off with a five day blackout is great, I think that is your cure. My advice is to physically remove as much cyano as you can, use a tooth brush and a syphon, take anything out you can to scrub. You want the tank to look cyano free. Then do a five day blackout again, making sure to cover the tank to prevent ambient light. Fingers crossed once you've done that it won't reappear. Lowering the light following should help make sure. I've successfully cured it that way myself.
Just wanted to give you props for explaining the water changes quite well! Did it more justice that I would have!

OP- there are online calculators for this as well if interested.

FWIW- BGA can be in a fully planted aquarium as well. I would think to myself, what it is that you want out of this discus tank? Do you want a planted tank, or do you enjoy the bare bottom tank?
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-14-2020, 12:32 PM
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Have you tried a UV sterilizer yet to combat the cyano? When I started my tank, I had a stubborn combo of cyano & greenwater, and despite trying erythromycin, blackouts, etc, nothing helped until I put in a Green Machine. That totally turned the corner for me.

Pothos or any terrestrial plant which will grow in water works wonders in sucking out nutrients. Other options that might be more palatable to the missus are syngoniums, purple wandering jew, sweet potato vines (there are a couple of ornamental varieties that come in chartreuse and a purple-black), golden jenny, etc. I've found the roots attract algae, but it doesn't spread to anything else. There are videos online where people float anthuriums or peace lilies in styrofoam rings after washing the dirt off the roots. Haven't yet tried this myself, but would like to give it a try with some colorful anthuriums.

Could you also perhaps put some fast growing stems or rooted plants like water sprite in pots? Or tall emergent plants in pots?
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Unread 02-14-2020, 05:31 PM
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Have you tried a UV sterilizer yet to combat the cyano? When I started my tank, I had a stubborn combo of cyano & greenwater, and despite trying erythromycin, blackouts, etc, nothing helped until I put in a Green Machine. That totally turned the corner for me.
I didn't even consider the UV. I get it on the top of my bacopa colorata and nothing seems to rid it off. Perhaps if I turn my UV on after the next water change? It is a good thought!

I'll just need to remember to click it off after a day or so. If I remember correctly the UV messes with the chelated iron and can make the tank cloudy? I'll need to look this one up again...



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