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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 120 gallon has suffered from a bad BBA outbreak for several months. Things were fine until an autodosing malfunction meant no macros were dosed for several weeks - now that it's established it's here to stay even with good conditions (light <50 PAR at substrate, ample CO2, good flow, etc.).

Since I'm not particularly keen on my current substrate and scape, I figure I'll just bleach ('nuke') the tank and start fresh (using new substrate and hardscape) instead of messing around with H2O2 spot treatments and the like. I will remove my rocks before the treatment since they're slightly delicate.

My basic plan is to remove the rocks and a few rare plants I want to save, add bleach to the tank with the canister filter and pumps running (so all the filter pipes, etc. are sterilized as well), let it sit for a day or so, then flush out the bleach with tap water. Some questions:

1. Should I remove my substrate (MTS capped with quartz sand) before the treatment? I don't plan on keeping the soil but would like to sterilize the sand and store it for future tanks.
2. How much bleach to use? I figure around a half gallon should do it?
3. How long will it take for all BBA and spores to be killed?
4. What's the best way to flush out the tank and its plumbing to completely eliminate bleach once treatment is done?
 

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I would discourage you from bleaching. There is a post here somewhere on a one two punch that uses h2o2 followed by excel. The treatment is whole tank and is very effective. Just make sure you follow the dosages and instructions.
 

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I have struggled with bba and have had excellent luck using an od of excel to kill it off without harming any of my fauna and a side benefit of excellent plant growth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm looking to completely redo the tank so want to go with a surefire method to completely sterilize it for a fresh start. After some further reading it seems like a 1:20 bleach:water ratio should do it. If anyone has input on flushing out the aquarium after treatment it would be much appreciated.
 

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oof. also would discourage against bleaching. if its just bba, maybe you can pick up some algae eaters. I know reticulated AE's cleared up my bba over a month or so. but if you're set on it...

I would say ditch both the sand and MTS. Its not worth your time to try and salvage, especially if you have a lot of heavy rooting plants; ripping them up is going to throw dirt everywhere. For your hardscape, if you bleach just dunk them in a rinse tank after, and overdose that rinse tank with prime. Bleach is essentially chlorine.

Glass Canvas has a good overview:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L432a2hzn3k
 

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...so want to go with a surefire method to completely sterilize it for a fresh start...
I think this line of thinking is misguided. It is pretty much impossible to keep spores of a common algae like BBA out of your tank. If the conditions are right, BBA will come back, even after sterilizing "everything".

To get a "fresh start", I also would recommend the H202 + Excel one two punch method. This will essentially eradicate the BBA. Yes, you'll still have spores, but you'll also eventually have them if you try to sterilize everything. So in the end you still need to properly maintain your tank to prevent its return.
 

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don't bleach!
I had horrible BBA in my 120....my very large /thick pieces of driftwood were covered 100%...the back wall needed to be shaved....the gravel was almost entirely bba....

I pulled the driftwood and set it outside (I live in ND, I set it out during the month of Feb. where temps can go -40 and we can go weeks without getting above 0)...

Then I pulled the plants I cared about....left my angels in the tank...didn't lose a single fish!
*I did shave the back wall and then during water changes I would spray the walls with h202
* I hit the gravel hard with h202, but I ONLY did so when doing major water changes....
* then the driftwood came in doors....I hit that really hard with h202....nearly let it soak in straight h202....

It is now late April....driftwood is clean and dry and ready to go back in the tank. The tank is not 100% free of BBA but more than 90% is gone....

I reduced my lighting a bit also
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
In almost a decade of planted tanks this is my first BBA infestation. I've already identified what condition allowed it to establish itself in the first place, but as I'm sure many other hobbyists on this site know simply reverting to ideal conditions won't cut it to eliminate an established algae infestation.
 

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Yea if your set on bleach then 20:1 is a common ratio of water to bleach. Ive used this successfully a few times to kill spyrogira which is just the worst. I let the hardscape and tank soak for a couple hours. Afterwards i rinse and then use heavy dechlor soak followed by air drying for a day or two.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Coincidentally I do have some spirogyra too, though it's not nearly as bad. I guess that means I'll use ~5 gallons.
 

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May I offer another suggestion. If you are wanting to change substrate take your filters and put them on the container you will house your fish so you keep your cycle. Tear down the tank and clean it. Replace your substrate. Dip your plants with bleach mix which will kill the algae and any snail eggs etc and then replant. This way you will still have your bio filter in your canister intact. A good heavy dose of excel for a few weeks will kill any residual bba.
 
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