BBA and CO2 - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
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BBA and CO2

Hi guys, I'm about 3-4 weeks into compressed CO2 (GLA system). I'm up to about 5 bps and have the drop checker green, but not light green, yet - slowly increasing. I have 2 photoperoids, 1.5 hrs in am, 6 hrs in pm. Currently have 1 T5 HO light with a 6.7k and a 10k, and getting a second T5 HO light this week which will have 2 6.7k in it. I am using an atomic diffuser in the middle of back of the tank (you can see the tubing in the center of the tank in the pic below). I have 2 HOB emperor 400's on each side of the back (again can see the intakes on each side on the pic below). I have an intank UV sterilzer I run about 6-7 hours/night. 90 gallon aquarium with small gravel as substrate - put it in the tank prior to learning about planted aquariums. Temp is ~ 78 degrees, pH in the high 6's. Zero nitrites, just trace nitrates. Water is RO water that has been run through a whole house carbon filter plus a water softener.

Plants look great, water looks great, fish are living and growing great. Issue has been BBA recently. First on the crinum on the left of the tank and the 2 little tufts of microsword (which have done nothing since their introduction about 2-3 months ago), next on the leaves of my swords as well as the wisteria, now on the leaves of my ludwigia. I've attached some pics of what I have going on. Livestock-wise, I have a bunch of angels, 12 small BN plecos I've added recently, a couple "giant" otos, and an irridescent shark (a family favorite I can't get rid of).

I've read up as much as I can on the BBA from Tom and others here on the site as well as other sites. I've added the UV, purigen, doing water changes as best I can for a tank this size. I've been slowly increasing the CO2, having it come on an hour prior to the start of each photoperoid and stopping about an hour prior the end of the photoperoid. I use Excel and have increased from a cap and a half to about 3 caps a day, thinking of going to 4 caps/day. I feed with Flourish comprehensive 2x/week, seachem nitrogen and phosphate 2x/week, and leaf zone once a week. I have some seachem fertilizer tabs throughout the gravel. I've trimmed as best I can, but don't want to decimate the plant through trimming (i.e., the mircoswords are completely covered with BBA).

Any other thoughts? Thanks in advance.







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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 05:29 PM
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has the BBA been getting any better since the addition of the CO2?
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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I thought perhaps it was at least not progressing, but noticed last night it was on the ludwigia, plus in the deeper (older) sections of the big bunch of wisteria in the back of tank. I'm not 100% sure it wasn't there awhile though.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 05:46 PM
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What size is your tank? 5 bpm seems a bit high for only getter green and not light green.

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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90 gallon. I'm using 2 emperor 400 HOB filters though (total of 4 biowheels, total of about 800 gph between the 2) which I understand can increase the CO2 demand. I keep the water level maxed out at all times however. Having trouble taking the plunge on a canister due to flooding concerns from both me and my wife, plus have a lot of $$ invested in those emperors.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 07:41 PM
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I'm not an expert but for that size of tank you may want to consider using a co2 reactor. I have a 75 G and use a reactor with 3bpm lime green. Just a thought. Other than that I don't know what to tell you about the BBA. I had difficulty with it a while back but instead of treating it I tried to learn how to make my plants grow better by slowly making adjustments to lights and ferts. That truly is the only lasting way of getting rid of it. Hope one of the algae experts can chime in. Good luck!!!

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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I'm rather new to compressed CO2 - currently using an atomic ceramic diffuser. I'm not familiar with a reactor - is that in place of the diffuser?
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 09:22 PM
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Yes. It works on the principle of suspending the co2 longer in the water to allow for more efficient use. Google co2 reactors and you will get plenty of hits. Look on this forum as well. Lots of them are DIY but I am not so inclined so I bought the Aquamedic CO2 reactor 1000. Very happy with it. But as I mentioned you could have to tweak your ferts. You can read about them on this forum as well. Tons of info!!! I use dry ferts as they are far more cost effective for a larger tank. Your lighting period doesn't seem excessive. When I was starting out I read so much on this forum my head just about exploded. Still learning

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 10:09 PM
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I see many things wrong with this set up. The substrate for one is less than ideal. Too large of diameter stones. They should be between 2-5 mm in size & yours looks like they could be coated. You want non coated substrate which will help your CEC cation exchange capacity allowing better nutrient exchange for the plants. The larger particles will also trap more organics creating more ammonia both have been being suspect for a possible secondary trigger for BBA, ( MAYBE)! Not to mention poor CO2.

That brings me to the atomizer diffusers. I stopped using them. They work but require regular cleaning & high pressure to operate well. They also create false readings on drop checkers because the micro bubbles get caught in the drop checkers making you THINK you have more CO2 than you really have. From my experience I believe they create dead spots & still the age old problem of not being that good at diffusion. Look into reactors.

You also mention r/o water with whole house water softners. Many use sodium chloride which is bad for plants or even potassium chloride, which is not good because of the chlorides in it. You would be better off boosting with GH booster & adding baking soda for your Kh, than adds some liquid trace, or use your tap water before the softner.

Last edited by Hardstuff; 01-28-2014 at 03:23 AM. Reason: miss spell
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardstuff View Post
I see many things wrong with this set up. The substrate for one is less than ideal. Too large of diameter stones. They should be between 2-5 mm in size & yours looks like they could be coated. You want non coated substrate which will help your CEC cation exchange capacity allowing better nutrient exchange for the plants. The larger particles will also trap more organics creating more ammonia both have been being suspect for a possible secondary trigger for BBA, ( MAYBE)! Not to mention poor CO2.

That brings me to the atomizer diffusers. I stop using them. They work but require regular cleaning & high pressure to operate well. They also create false readings on drop checkers because the micro bubbles get caught in the drop checkers making you THINK you have more CO2 than you really have. From my experience I believe they create dead spots & still the age old problem of not being that good at diffusion. Look into reactors.

You also mention r/o water with whole house water softners. Many use sodium chloride which is bad for plants or even potassium chloride, which is not good because of the chlorides in it. You would be better off boosting with GH booster & adding baking soda for your Kh, than adds some liquid trace, or use your tap water before the softner.

That's definitely true about the substrate. When I started the tank back in July, had no idea I'd be getting into plants as never had before, and used gravel. I'm using pellet feeders, but see no way to change out the substrate short of an entire tear down which I'd rather avoid, unless there is a technique to switch it out.

I'll check out the reactors. Would hate to have to bump the CO2 even higher than it is now (~ 5 bps) but will do what I need to do.

The softener does use salt (I'm assuming NaCL, it's a culigan model), but it is before the R/O unit, so I'm assuming everything is removed from the water coming out of the r/o. I'm getting some seachem equilibrium to add to it.

Thanks again!
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 11:59 PM
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Sorry my bad on the soft water sytem. You are right may not be bad if before the r/o. I think I would still rather have the tap feeding the r/o though, which would come with a trade off if there is chlorine or chloramines before the unit.

Yes you are right about the substrate not being planned for the plants. What you could do but would be a lot of work , would be to remove the upper half & add in some Flourite & some API laterite. It will help improve your CEC exchange. Some may say eco complete but that doeS alter the ph somewhat & IT IS EXPENSIVE! I take a purist approach & like to measure my ph & kh to estimate my CO2 level. It works for me . Its not an exact science. Your shooting for good stable CO2 levels that do not bounce around a lot & not gas your fish either. 30ppms of CO2 is the ball park figure you are shooting for.

Your HOB filters are really hurting you as well. A sump may be the best but my only second choice which is all I run are canisters. IMO ehiems are the best. Fluvals are second best choice but everybody has their favorites. You are out gassing alot of CO2 with those HOB filters. Your CO2 level will be outgassed fast as soon as CO2 goes off. Another thing is I think you said your CO2 comes on 1 hour before lights. I have found from my experience that is never enough. For me its been 2-3 hours before, but lately I have been running for a couple of hours late at night , this has helped my tanks greatly. My CO2 & PH has been more stable & the fish do not seem to mind.


You can run an external reactor through a canister for more stable CO2 or you could check out a google search on Tom Barrs internal CO2 reactors. They work great an can be hidden behind dense plants. Thats all I have been using & I love them. If you decide to make them they take only about 1 hour or less to make & the materials will only set you back about 10-12 bucks!

Another thing, if you are using R/O water do not de gas the water . Stir gently while adding the gh booster & trace , baking soda. This way you will have more CO2 in your R/O water creating less CO2 depletion!
Hope this helps.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
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That sounds great - it might be a bit easier and cause less disruption to pull off the top half of the gravel and replace, I'll definitely look into that!

I may have to bite the bullet and go to a canister filter. I love my emperor 400's and had a very bad experience with a horror of a Magnum 350 canister filter with leaking, but I'm leaning back towards to a canister. Leaking on my wife's hardwood floors isn't a great experience (for me mainly!).

I've seen an Aquamedia CO2 Reactor-M, which looks pretty close to Tom's DIY reactor with a built in powerhead. That may be a bit better than my ceramic diffuser.

Thanks again, I really appreciate the help! This is brand new territory for me
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 01:42 AM
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Emporer filters, while I love them, and have used them with lots of success, use pressurized spraybars to spray the biowheels. So while your co2 system is introducing the gas to your water at 5bpm, your emporers are removing it quite rapidly. If you go with co2, you might want to consider a canister for filtration. I have been using the marineland c360 with good success on my 75 gallon. Will be introducing co2 when I can afford it.


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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 02:28 AM
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You may have a lot of light, but almost no nutrients for the plants to use to grow well. (It depends on what specific light fixture you have, and how good it is.) You need to read https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=21944 and start dosing following the appropriate table there. Also, now is the time to leave the drop checker behind. You now have the CO2 concentration in the right ballpark - well above 5 ppm - so the best way to find the optimum bubble rate is to watch the plants and fish. For the plants, first you have to be dosing non-limiting amounts of each of the nutrients - NPK and trace elements. Then you can slightly increase the bubble rate, and watch the plants for a few days to see if they grow better or pearl more. If they do, you caused that by adding more CO2, so add a little bit more, and repeat, taking several days of observation between increases in CO2. If an increase doesn't improve the plants, drop back to the previous bubble rate - you are probably at the optimum bubble rate. And, if the fish start suffering from the CO2 - clustering at the surface or laying on the substrate or losing their coloration - drop back to the last bubble rate where that didn't occur.

When you have BBA growing, the first thing to assume is that you don't have enough CO2 or you are letting the bubble rate change considerably from day to day.

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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 02:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Hoppy, is the dosing schedule I listed in the initial post not sufficient then? I'm using liquid ferts for now, so it is slightly different than the post you referenced. I am increasing the CO2 time as well.
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