Hi Folks ! One thing I learned about this hobby by now is that algae is an ugly poorly understood monster
Well, to most hobbyists it may be........
that has no clear preferences and seems to occur in all different kinds of situations.
I do not agree.
They are used specifically for rapid bioassessment of water ways in the USA, as per the EPA.
I can use them rapidly to analyze water parameters and conditions of most planted FW and marine tanks by sight alone...........
The best of us have developed an intuition of fighting it, but the rest of us are learning mostly on our own mistakes. This can be pretty painful at times.
Well mostly myths, corrleation and the belief that correlation = causation by most hobbyists sure do not help.
Adding to this, folks say grand ideas, we should do this or that, but then they never do or do not do it right and their results do not support their conclusions.
Lack of controls also presents a real issue to anyone wanting to analyze algae and plants together.
If you lack the control to produce a well run planted tanks as a baseline, and are willing to perturb things to seek an answer to a question, then it's rather difficult to answer much.
Few, if any aquarist are willing to do so, thus there will be a lack of folks able to answer such questions. I've done a great deal to isolate, find cause, identify, suggest, discuss and use research for support in this hobby.
I am a graduate student who is trying to use statistical modeling to study complex processes. So, I thought why not try what I've learned to study algae growth.
Well, then look at Bachmann's work in Florida with macrophytes and algae, Raven's, and several text on culture methods, The EPA's rapid assessment and diatom use.
Lots of data to use and play with there.
Such approach can find really interesting nuances that we have not noticed before. Hopefully this will shed some light on the problems we all are struggling with.
Well, if you play with data enough..........you can find most anything to support a speculation..........
A good model can help however, but good data will not be found here in this hobby nor good assumption to build into the model.
To conduct such research we would need to collect alot of data about algae growth.
This should include a lot of detail that may have any kind of influence on the algae. To collect such data I thought to create a simple web application, not any more complicated then this forum or email program where anyone can enter their algae observations. I intend to make this data public unless data contributor wants otherwise. Anyone could visit this resource and see what problems other folks had, what condition they occurred in and what treatment was helpful.
A model is only as good as it's assumptions and data
I'm not trying to discourage you or the project, however, many have looked into this notion and idea before you. There is data, there is a lot of data.
But little testing that's useful specifically for aquatic plants and algae together. Aquarist are much worse at methods than researchers.
You can do the analysis etc, but if the data is suspect, poor controls etc, not much can be said even with the best number cruncher around.
Most research on the topic has been done at UF.
In a sense, I only suggest organizing the data that is published on the aquarium forum like this every day in a way a computer can deal with.
Once we collect enough data we can study the conditions of combination of conditions that influence the algae growth. This can definitely turn up some interesting data. Such approach is very good for finding subtleties that humans don't notice very well. Based on my experience, I'd say we can start analyzing data statistically when we have 500+ entries per algae type.
Even with 500 experiences, a few years ago even most everyone assumed PO4 excess caused algae, some think excess NO3 causes algae still, or Fe etc etc.
Does not mean you are right.
I was the one person out of maybe 10000 that said PO4 excess did not cause algae.
I was right. And I knew it.
I did not need stats.
A good test method and a well designed test will answer a lot more with much less effort. Lots of numbers, data and manipulations might be nice and sound impressive, but the bottom line is did the data support the conclusion or not.
I can develop pretty much everything necessary on the technical side, but it's hard for me to predict the support something like this will have among the aquarists. So, if you think this is interesting and you think you may spend a minute or two sometime filling out the data form, please, post here. Also, if you would be interested in collected data, let me know as well. In general, what do you think of this idea. Ask me if I forgot to explain something.
Well, you might consider:
What elements related to plants start a tank off and keep it there dominated by plants and not by algae?
As any wise researcher will tell you, a good question is the place to start.
I'd focus on that data.
Light(intensity, type and area spread)
CO2 or not, Excel
Starting plant biomass and species type
Sediment type/nutrient supply
Nutrient dosing water column
What is known about inducing specific species of algae
The species of algae
And so forth.................
I do encourage you, do not get me wrong here, if we were in class, I'd hope a Phycology core class would address the issues the same manner.
Pick up some basic algae text and go from there.
Then look at Crisman, Bachmann, Hoyer's etc work at UF, there's also the Florida lake watch data base, you can play around for a long time there.
Those are natural systems, but many of the issues do apply here.