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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been fighting BBA for a long time, unsuccessfully. It's a drilled 90 gal. with the overflow going to the top of a 2-stack wet-dry/sump. I've been feeding the CO2 to the top of the wet dry (with media) and have a pH probe in the sump controlling the CO2 flow prior to the return pump (1250 Eheim).

I had set up a dosing system prior to the previous trip, but I'm concerned that something went wrong and I blasted it with too much PPS pro. Upon returning from this most recent trip, the photo shows what I found:
. I had totally turned off dosing anything during my absence, but had a 2 gal./day water change going.

I've cleaned the wet/dry, removed ceramic media and left the cleaned sponge in the wet-dry. (left out the ceramic media due to csm+b leaching fears.)

I'm going to put in 6 bags of Eco-complete instead of Turface. Using a Finnex LED light fixture. pH controller set at 6.1. KH about 3.

Questions: 1. Do you think feeding CO2 into the top of the wet-dry is problematic? Causing a lowered Oxygen level? I have very little surface agitation, trying to keep the CO2 in, but the fish seem sluggish.

2. Should I try to clean the existing plants (out of the tank) or use healthy ones from my 110 gal. (which looks fine without water changes or fertilizers......same water, HO lighting instead of LED and a pH setpoint of 6.4.

3. I'm going to Eco-complete. Will start PPS pro dosing w/o CSM+B. Should I add agitation withing the tank. Although I enjoy the peace of a nearly-still tank, what I've been getting isn't very attractive.

4. Since I'm not going to be on a trip for a while, I can fine-tune this system until it's RIGHT. What would you change, and how would you make this look Great? Thanks....a lot.
 

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My suggestion:

1. Do not attempt to clean the algae of the plants as it is pointless if you cannot solve what is wrong with the tank. What you want to see is new healthy growth or tips that is growing algae free. Once this appears then you can technically start cleaning up the algae mess. If you attempt to clean the algae of the plants now without solving the underlying problem then you are just wasting your time because algae like BBA will simply grow back. Healthy leaves can technically grow untouched by BBA once the conditions are right.

2. I'd start with the CO2 but a check on the nitrate levels might give you a clue. BBA is something that has a hard time growing when all the water parameters and CO2 is correct. If you can get a good KH kit and a PH pen (w/ calibration solution) then you can try to figure out your CO2 concentrations by using the PH, KH and CO2 chart. You should aim for 30+ ppm CO2. Never trust a drop checker or a PH titration kit for determining CO2 levels.

3. Reset the tank parameters by doing 50% for the next 2-3 days BUT make sure you can put the nutrients back. I would use the fert calculator and dose the tank 10 ppm NO3, 2 ppm PO4, 5 ppm K, .2 ppm Fe from CSM+B. If you know your water is soft then dose some additional Ca and Mg. 5 ppm Mg and another 5 ppm Ca is ok. Most of the time Ca and Mg exists in the tap.

4. Recheck the nitrates and phosphate levels at after 2 to 3 days. Nitrates and phosphate must never be 0 and should end up higher than 10 ppm NO3 and 2 ppm PO4. If these are 0 then simply dose to hit 10 and 2 ppm nitrate.

5. If you've only been dosing K from the PPS-Pro or whatever fert method you are using then seeding the tank with 5-10 ppm K is a good way to make sure you have non-limiting amounts of it. I usually aim for 20-30 ppm K. Most of the time K levels increase in the tank. You'll need K2S04 fert for this.

It should take 1-2 weeks to see good growth but once it happens then you are on your way.

What I would avoid doing:

1. Don't mess with the light schedule or light intensity. If you fix your tank with a lower light intensity or a shorter photoperiod then going back to the original setup will require to recalibrate the CO2 and nutrients for that levels. Never mess with the lights once they are set unless you cannot provide CO2 or the nutrients needed.
 

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So you are basically going to rebuild the aquarium.
The little I can suggest is to reconsider the Eco-Complete substrate. It is coarse, too light to hold plants and most importantly have unpredictable impact on balancing nutrients.

To use or not to use the old plants question I would use them, they have a good chance to recover. And for the dosing, I would do 2 ml per 10 gallon solution #1 macros with 50% weekly water changes until the plants grow back. During this time and after, dose of 1/10 of the recommended solution #2 micros will be optimal, unless you see pale new growth. Leaving plants without daily micro addition may not end up well.

Your existing 2% automatic water change is unlikely adequate. There are many things, like substrate, wood, rocks and so on, leaking and dissolving due to CO2 injection, ruining the water column parameters. If you want to have it under control than get a cheap conductivity reader. It will tell you when and how much water needs changing. Read more and here.

And take the wood out, it is a BBA magnet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the responses. The Eco-Complete is enroute, so I guess I'm committed; sending it back would be some serious $$. Plus, I've always wanted a dark substrate.

My big frustration is the contrast between my two tanks....the 90 gal. that is overwhelmed with BBA and my 110 with black angels. Exact same water supply. (I have a water softener but the supply comes from before the softener for both tanks). Here's a photo of the 110 after my absence:
.

This is the technology behind the 90 gal.:


Here's a comparison of the 2 tanks:


Filter: 90-wet/dry 110-Eheim 2215 canister
pH 90- 6.2 110-6.3
Water change 90-2 gal./day 110-none
light 90-Finnex LED 110- two HO fluorescents
substrate 90-Turface 110-soil w/Turface topping (soil 15+ yrs old)
CO2 Into top of w/d in-tank Ista reactor
nutrients PPS-pro earlier none ever

Same fish food (more for angels), exact same water supply.

I've gotten concerned (perhaps unnecessarily) that I overdosed with CSM+B when dosing the 90. That's why the removal of the ceramics from the w/d and the change of the soil.

I have the pH probe downstream of the wet/dry "stack" which is fed from the tank overflow. I could move it but it's hard to believe that's the cause of the problem.
 

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Just a quick look, but the 110 with the Angels has a canister filter with heavy plant mass (good) the 90 has a wet/dry with low plant mass (bad). That BBA has been building for a long time. So something has been off for a long time. Can you confirm co2 (which is a problem with wet/dry) and light intensity/duration.
 

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Assuming it's good light, (do you know the intensity) then 9 hrs is probably too long, if your having issues cut back on duration. Also I'm very skeptical of the co2. How does it not degas going through those bioballs.
 

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Assuming it's good light, (do you know the intensity) then 9 hrs is probably too long, if your having issues cut back on duration. Also I'm very skeptical of the co2. How does it not degas going through those bioballs.
The CO2 line feeds the bioball container. No air comes in from the overflow, so the bioball container is not a source of loss. Plus, the pH probe is downstream of the bioball container.

I have no idea of the output of the Finnex light. It's about $125 on Amazon so I would suspect it's not all that much.

The light is a "Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light Plus Moonlights"....$135 on Amazon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
dzega: I agree; but plant growth is minimal in the 90. I'd like to understand the real problem before replanting.

Right now the 90 gal. has only fish and a Turface substrate.

That's it.

Given the BBA problem, I thought I'd slowly lower the pH setpoint until I saw fish distress, then back off by 0.1. The water KH is "blue at 2 drops, yellow at 3" in both tanks. Same as my well water. Although I use a water softener to remove iron, the water for both tanks is taken from before the softener.

Right now the pH in the 90 gal. is 5.6!!!!!
Fish are swimming happily; no signs of distress. The pH/KH table doesn't go below 6.

I've checked the pH of the tank right near the overflow (as opposed to after the stack) and it's essentially the same, 5.6. Right now it's a bare tank with Turface, no plants whatsoever. Happy fish. (???) Why?

I've cross-checked the pH readings by testing the 90-gal. water with the 110 probe, and the controller in the 90 reads about 0.1 -0.2 low.

Before I landscape the 90 and add plants I need to understand what's going on.
 

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Not that familiar with the light, but BBA will grow eventually in high or low light, depending on the maintainance required for each setup. It will take longer to grow in a low light setup, but it will eventually grow. Looking at the pic, it looks like that algae has been there a long time and the tank wasn't maintained on a regular basis. Sometimes with a lot of dense growing plants the tank will take care of itself longer, but that tank doesn't really have anything growing so the algae took over based on the organics and the light.

If your confident that your co2 is good and your dosing. That just leaves light. Now too much light with high organics (inconsistent or too small water changes, too much food, too much stock) and low plant mass that will definitely give your BBA. You can still get the BBA with less light it would just take longer.

Someone with experience with that light hopefully will chime in. My guess is that's a deep tank and the plants weren't really growing that well so the BBA took hold over an extended period of time.

Edit: What is your PH without adding co2.
 

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The water KH is "blue at 2 drops, yellow at 3" in both tanks. Same as my well water.
That would indicate 1.5 dKH in 5 ml I guess. That’s not a problem.

Right now the pH in the 90 gal. is 5.6!!!!! Fish are swimming happily; no signs of distress.
What signs you talking about? Fish love low pH, unless they are from Tanganyika.

The pH/KH table doesn't go below 6.
Here you have tables with any pH. Take a cup of aquarium water and let it sit overnight. The following day, test for pH. If below 7 than CO2 tables are not applicable. Though, a simple bubble rate count doesn’t lie.

Although I use a water softener to remove iron, the water for both tanks is taken from before the softener.
You need pH, KH, Fe, Ca and Mg analysis of your source water. Also, a TDS reader would help with aquarium water quality maintenance due to substrate, CO2 and pH interactions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Edit: What is your PH without adding co2.
In the 110, when I run out of CO2, it'll go up to 7.8. Not sure on the 90, I'd guess 7.6.

I'll be home for the next few months, so I'd like to enjoy it. Even when I was home, It would go through a cycle..BBA....redo...hope the new growth continues so I could cut off the BBA, then watch it deteriorate again. I suspected that during one of my absences the dosing pump overdosed, so I changed gravel, washed ceramics in wet/dry and left it for 2 months (another trip) without any dosing. Came back to what was pictured. Now all I have in the wet-dry is sponge. Other than the light (which has gangbuster reviews on Amazon) the only other diff. between the 2 is the wet-dry vs. the canister. With all the edges very tight, I can't see why that would matter; Also, the pH of the water TO the aquarium is very low, so even if the wet-dry leaked the CO2 input would compensate.

Under the 110 I have a 20 gal. tank of guppies. I'll probably put in the Eco-complete, fill it and then see how low (on the pH meter) the guppies can tolerate it. But I'm still very puzzled as to why I can go so low without gassing anything.
 

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Under the 110 I have a 20 gal. tank of guppies. I'll probably put in the Eco-complete, fill it and then see how low (on the pH meter) the guppies can tolerate it. But I'm still very puzzled as to why I can go so low without gassing anything.
The guppies don’t care about pH but certainly can be poisoned by high CO2.
 

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"so I changed gravel, washed ceramics in wet/dry and left it for 2 months (another trip) without any dosing."

So you basically restarted the tank, with a most of the bio-filter gone since your changed the gravel. If you ran lights 9 hrs and didn't dose the tank there's no way anything is growing but BBA.

"But I'm still very puzzled as to why I can go so low without gassing anything."

If your going from a ph of 7.8 to about 5.8 that's alot of co2, without any real uptake by the plants. Something is off since the fish aren't having any issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Edward: As I type this, the pH of the tank is 5.6 and the fish are swimming happily. My plan is to risk a couple of guppies, learn the lowest pH that is fish-safe in my system, then bump it up 0.2.

Then I'll risk the cardinals, loaches etc.

I'd love to understand why I can run it so low. I didn't think KH of 2.5 would allow this without gassing the fish.
 

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Edward: As I type this, the pH of the tank is 5.6 and the fish are swimming happily. My plan is to risk a couple of guppies, learn the lowest pH that is fish-safe in my system, then bump it up 0.2.

Then I'll risk the cardinals, loaches etc.

I'd love to understand why I can run it so low. I didn't think KH of 2.5 would allow this without gassing the fish.
You didn’t see my post #12.
The guppies don’t care about pH but at the same time are sensitive to CO2 levels. You are all about CO2 –> KH -> pH correlation. This is ok until something goes wrong. For example pH probes are ok when taken out of calibration solution but then shortly after can go wrong fast. Also, when there are tannins, organic acids from peat and so on, than the actual CO2 levels are unknown because the pH is wrong. You can get misleading CO2 information and therefore assume wrong CO2 levels.

CO2 as carbonic acid in water is a mild acid. It lowers pH up to around 3.65 pH max, which is not a problem for fish or plants. (Except Tanganyika cichlids) In order to achieve so low pH while having low CO2 level, the KH must be low to zero.

Anyhow, this is not your problem. And there is no need to torture or kill fish in order to find the highest CO2 levels.

Your aquarium doesn’t need more than three bubbles per second. If you set it to the three bubbles per second, you can be sure you have enough CO2 and not torturing fish. No need to play with pH and KH either. Keep it simple.

I have some more questions in post #12.
 

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Hey!!! I got this BBA and Hair Algae Killer that works wonders. It took 3 weeks to see it disappear completely. I'm on the last week of 4 recommended for the treatment. I have a 120 gallon and if I would take the time to post pictures you'd be surprised. I got it from elevateshrimp.com. It's shrimp safe and plant safe and all of my plants are just taking off now. I've never been happier with my tank. Seriously give it a try. You'll only need one bottle. It's $20 or something cheap like that.

I'll agree with Edward up there that the driftwood is a BBA magnet. It only took a few months of being in the tank before BBA showed up everywhere. But that was because my water parameters were terrible and fluctuating. I've fixed the problem with a different source of R/O water, different lights (My one light was too powerful but not enough displacement), added co2, and did this amazing treatment. Picked off BBA here and there and removed old hair algae growth after new growth sprouted. It takes time, but if you do this treatment you'll be very happy and will probably find me on here and thank me again. I'm telling you it works wonders. I am not affiliated with this place one bit, just very very very satisfied with the progress.

I have black substrate in my tank, it's fine and is growing plants just fine. Adjusting your water parameters and correcting them to what's in your tank is very important. I believe that you can grow any plant in any substrate (Obviously not ANY substrate but you get what I'm saying) with the right water parameters for your unique setup. A tank is a huge eco system and each one is completely different depending on what you have in your tank.

If I were you, I would:
1. Remove as much of it as you can. Manually pick it off with your fingers. It's not easy as its tough to grab, but it can be done.
2. Do massive water changes. Get your water parameters to where they need to be according to what's in your tank.
3. Use this algae killer Hair Algae Killer ? ElevateShrimp
Do the regiment as it states. It's very simple. I have a plastic syringe that I use in the tank and I squirt it on the source of the algae. Do water changes right before each dose each week. 50% water changes, FYI, could get costly with your source of water.
4. A month or so down the road, come back on this site and send me a message telling me how awesome I am.

Hope this helps, and I wish you the best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Brian727: Thanks, but I'd like to find the source of the problem, rather than treating the symptom.

The pH of my aquarium water, after sitting overnight, is 7.2. I checked the KH again today, using the overnight-sitting water. It turned green at 6 drops. (About the same with the aquarium water). Edward: I don't understand dividing the # of drops by 2. My instructions show a 1:1 relationship between KH and # of drops.

Something strange is happening here. With the pH at 5.6 (caused exclusively by pH injection) and a KH of 6 (or even 3, yesterday ???) that guppy should have been in severe distress with CO2 poisoning (over 300 ppm CO2). The angel aquarium works fine at pH 6.3 and no water changes; pH controller & Istamax dissolver. The 90 is a mess. The difference between the two is the wet dry, which is sealed at the top & bottom.

Edward: You said "CO2 as carbonic acid in water is a mild acid. It lowers pH up to around 3.6 pH max, which is not a problem for fish or plants." I don't understand. Isn't CO2 in excess lethal to fish?
 
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