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Pelvicachromis Lover!
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Discussion Starter · #281 ·
Rich, how old are your SAEs? I've heard that they're only affective when young. Mine seem young as they're only about 1.5 inches long. I've managed to kill out most of the BBA, but there are still places where I can see it, and I'm sure it's tucked away in places that I can't see.

It would be wonderful if the SAEs cleaned it out, but I'm not holding my breath. I've just wanted SAEs for a long, long time, and this was the first time I've found them (hence, the reason I got so many).

Last night was their first night in the tank and I have zucchini out so I don't expect they'd be eating much algae, but the zucchini gets removed this morning, and then we'll see.
 

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Rich, how old are your SAEs? I've heard that they're only affective when young. Mine seem young as they're only about 1.5 inches long.
Yeah, that's how big mine were when I first got them about 4 months back. They are still pretty small (maybe 2.5" now?) and still seem to look around and nibble for algae (or something on the leaves) though they are starting to get an appetite for the frozen bloodworms I feed sometimes and even the natural salmon flakes I put in there too.

But I have never seen them actually munch or touch a tuft of BBA.
 
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Please do report back on this. My SAEs seem busy but when I had a decent outbreak of BBA they barely touched it, nary a dent. I have it under control now after a big removal and cleaning of driftwood and all leaves with any BBA, and the SAEs might indeed be helping keep it in check now that's it 99% gone, but they never really helped me get rid of it.

Yeah mine are about 2 inches right now and they still look for all kinds of algae. When they get other foods or are given too much of another food that is when they will get lazy. I had bba but not a spot of it anymore in my tank thank god. I will tell you though my albino CAE does more then the SAE's and that has been since day one.

I had bought 3 SAE's and was sent the albino CAE extra and I have heard they are aggressive all kinds of things well only aggression I seen so far was looking for algae. Other then that he will hide come out here and there but I would say 80% of the day hes looking for algae.
 

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So.....any one actually seen a tuft of BBA, then an SAE come along, mow it down, then the tuft is gone? Or changed nothing but add SAEs to a tank and seen a decent amount of BBA disappear as a result? I've seen my SAEs make their way along, nibbling here and there, eventually find a BBA tuft, nibble or check it out once or twice, and just move right along leaving it pretty much intact. Maybe they need to be starved of all other food options?

Even my 2 BN Plecos barely touched the stuff. But when I removed my large driftwood, which were carpeted with BBA, drenched them in Excel and H202, then let them dry out for a week, all the BBA dried up and died (turned deep red). I put the driftwood back in the tank with the deep carpets of dead BBA and within two weeks the plecos ate all the dead BBA, and the driftwood looked polished!!!

But live BBA? I've yet to see any fish "take care of it". But so often here and elsewhere when one complains of a big BBA infestation people say "Get SAEs!!" I question the efficacy of such advice to do anything like take of such a problem.
 

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Oh, and before someone asks: yes, the mine are real SAEs. I did my research and bought from a reputable source.

(Sorry, hope I'm not being seen to "hijack" the thread. But the idea here is to spur along related discussion to your tank, yes?)
 

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Pelvicachromis Lover!
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Discussion Starter · #286 ·
No hijacking worries! One of the nice things about having a journal thread is that the topics can meander to all kinds of things!

I can't say that I've seen them munching on a tuft of living BBA because I've worked hard to kill it; however, I am utterly surprised at how fast they are cleaning out my Crypt lucens which was the worst covered with BBA. Even after treating it with H2O2 and Excel, there were still black areas. I couldn't tell if it was dead or what, but the the amanos didn't eat it as I expected since amanos are supposed to be excellent at cleaning up dead BBA.

It's funny because of the 10 SAEs I put in, there is just one SAE that is absolutely glued to that area. He refuses to check out any other area in the tank; he's just too busy eating there. I'm seeing other SAEs join him, but they eat a little here, a little there, and go all over. Not this one SAE.

So maybe it's just a matter of different fish having different preferences? I have to say that I am very surprised at how much they've already cleaned out that area. Is it live BBA? I honestly think some of it is, but I can't point to one specific tuft, guarantee that it's still alive, and watch a SAE eat it.

All I can really do is wait and watch to see how well they clean up the tank. I'll get a really good idea of their work when I break the tank down in a couple weeks.
 

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Pelvicachromis Lover!
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Discussion Starter · #288 ·
I'm looking forward to seeing what they did last night. I cut the lights at 5pm (ugh, I hated doing it, but they had been on for 8 hours already). So they've had a lot of time to eat whatever they want. I'm hoping they have done more work on the BBA, but who knows.

I did find live, actively growing BBA in a few places that I can use to judge whether they eat it right away or not.

I'm also working to prepare my other tanks to move and hold the fish during the move.
 

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Discussion Starter · #289 ·
(I tried to post this reply earlier, but the board when down so this post may seem out of place since time has passed.)

Lights on! I looked all around the tank, and I am really impressed. The SAEs are truly cleaning up the tank. They apparently eat dead BBA because all the dead, but still fuzzy, BBA is gone. I discovered a pretty good size patch on one of the pieces of driftwood yesterday, and now it is ALL gone! They're also cleaning out the GDA.

I am positive they're eating the live BBA. The leaves that had it only have black markings where it was. I'm not sure if the black markings is BBA that's been eaten back so far that all that's left is the very base of it or if it's damage to the leaves where the BBA had been. I'll cut off a leaf to examine it closely to figure out what it is, if possible.

Even with all the H2O2 and Excel treatments and with around 40 amanos, the BBA, dead and alive, has not been knocked back this far before. I had some dead BBA along the edges of my older lotus leaves. GONE. Some pieces of the substrate had dead BBA on them which had turned the dead-red color. GONE. And my crypts which no matter what I did, the dead BBA and living BBA maintained a very fuzzy growth on the leaves. Mostly GONE. Very little remains.

I can also see where they've been eating the GDA. The pattern of what they eat is different from the nerites so I can tell which animal ate what, and there's no mistaking that the SAEs are eating it.

If I add otos to the tank (which I'd like to do when I can find them), I may get my dread of running the lights longer just so I can grow enough algae to keep them all fed! I don't mind GDA, especially on the rocks, since it makes them look more like they belong there and weren't just stuck there.

I'm also amazed at some of the plant growth I'm getting. I had bought some very beautiful stems of Pagostemon stellatus from Ingg which I promptly began to kill out. I was very afraid to put them in my tank with the BBA so I didn't plant them for a few days. When I did plant them, I wasn't using all 4 bulbs in my light fixture. So they didn't grow well. Then, on top of all that, I lost power for a week which brought the stems very near death. All that was left were tiny bits of growth at the very tips. Tex_Gal was very generous in giving me some more stems in her care package to me, and this time, with all 4 bulbs running, they took off like crazy! I swear they grew 2" yesterday! They're growing so fast that I made a note of their height today so I can compare it with their height tomorrow to be sure I'm not seeing things!

I'll have to get some pictures soon to show the new growth. I think my tank is finally beginning to take off. It's going to hurt to tear it all down so soon, but I know what to do when I set it back up so it should recover quickly.

All I can say as far as the BBA, go SAEs, go! :biggrin:
 

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wow glad to hear htey are doing the job you wanted them to do! That's great! :) Glad to hear the tank is bouncing back nicely too, that will definitely make the re-setup much easier! :)
 

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Pelvicachromis Lover!
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Discussion Starter · #291 ·
I'm so thrilled with the growth. I can see a big change in plant growth which means they'll be in good shape to take the move.

My Pagostemon stellatus has definitely been growing at least !" per day! It's amazing to be able to watch it. I'm thinking of maybe setting up my camera on a tripod and take pictures every 30 minutes or so which can be put together to actually watch the growth.

The SAEs do seem to really like the GDA as they go from rock to rock en masse, but they still work on the BBA on the Crypts. Right now, there are 2 SAEs on the Crypts. Umm... I take that back. Now there are 4 on the Crypts! Well, one just left. You get the idea. :smile: They're really fun fish, too. Busy little beavers, but very happy go lucky. Reminds me of corys, just different body shape. Their wiggling is really cute, especially when 8 or more are eating from the same spot all together!
 

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they are really good algae eaters and fun(ny) to watch when they are young.
when they get older they are much less active, and eat much less. they also realize flakes are edible by that time and use algae only as a suppliment. but the old ones are smart fish. my oldest SAE (RIP) recognized me from my dad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #293 ·
I've thought about what it'll be like when all 10 SAEs get older. Good thing I actually like them!

I've been withholding food quite a bit to encourage the SAEs to eat algae. Now my guppies are getting into the act! And my pleco has taken to gnawing on the wood again. Maybe I should feed the fish? :hihi:

Plants continue to grow wonderfully! I was given some nearly dead rotala (unkown species, it was in that bad of condition). It's showing signs of growth now! My Pagostemon stellatus stems have reached the top of the tank so I'm going to cut them back and plant the cuttings. It's very clear the higher light is what's working.

My only problem now is the GDA. I'm getting much more than I want (like I'd want any). I think the biggest problem is that the SAEs prefer it over the BBA. Still, there are two SAEs on the crypts as I type so they aren't completely avoiding the BBA.

Today is fasting/trimming/no ferts day (although I did add ferts because I skipped two days last week). I think I'll go ahead and move my otos from my 20L to my 75g. Yeah, I'm going to hate all of this when I try to get all the fish back out when I break down my tank, but I think the more I can clean up the algae before the move, the better off I'll be in the long run. So sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Plus, since I will be breaking down the entire tank, I think that will help me get the fish back out later.

I also have a large 2 liter coke bottle emptied out to use as a trap (especially for the amanos). So the combination of a trap, several very large nets, and having the tank completely broken down makes me believe I will be able to get the fish back out reasonably well.

13 days left until I move the tank so 12 days before the full tank break down. The countdown has begun.
 

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Just something I thought I'd throw out there. These babies:

http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2752410

are awesome for catching fish in a heavily planted tank. Forget chasing them around with nets. This thing is invisible in the water. I place it in the water (and since the fish pretty much cannot see it, no one gets stressed like they do typically after that first try with a net) and then I slowly "herd" the fish I want to get (often with a small fish net) towards it. They swim right in!

To think how frustrated I used to get trying to catch certain fish. I do not think it's taken more than two tries and one minute to catch any fish since I got it.
 

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Pelvicachromis Lover!
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Discussion Starter · #295 ·
Thanks, Rich! I actually have one! They're great for catching some fish, but I don't like using it for faster fish. Even when I do catch them, they are able to get out before I can get them above the surface.

I have managed to get a torpedo bard, a specific cardinal tetra (out of 21 total) and an apisto out of the tank — without disturbing any other fish or plants — in a matter of seconds (of actual time trying to catch the fish). What works for me are large, black nets (around 8" to 10" with 14" handles).

What I do is first study the fish in question to figure out where it wants to be inside the tank. Then I wet the net so it won't have bubbles all over it, and place it in to the back of the general area the fish prefers. And then I walk away for a couple of minutes. This causes the fish to not be so focused on the net. I also think the black color helps to camouflage it. When I return to the tank, I don't immediately attempt to get the fish. This way, the fish isn't focused on me either. Finally, I grab the net and wait patiently for the desired fish to swim in the area. Then it's just a matter of pulling the net up. I have found this to be very successful with as little stress as possible to all the fish in the tank.

I think the main key is to be very slow and patient prior to attempting to net the fish. When you finally do try to catch it, the shear size of the net helps to catch the fish even when they try to swim away.

I'm always afraid I'll hurt a fish if I tried to race behind it with a net so I am very careful to catch them slowly and calmly. As a result, I discovered that this is also the easiest way to catch them.

Now having said all that, just wait until the day I try to catch them all. I'll be posting profanities at how hard it is to get them! :hihi:
 

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well FYI, you will not catch even 1 SAE with a net in under 2 hours. i never saw that product before, so i dont know how well it works. but catching a SAE, is like trying to catch a horse on foot. until its dead, you have no chance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #297 ·
Please don't tell me that! I have to catch 10 of them!

If all else fails, I can always remove all plants and decor, pull away the substrate in a small area, and drain the water, leaving water only in the small area (while corralling the SAEs into that area). I've had that plan in mind all along since I'll be breaking down the tank.

I did manage to catch all 10 SAEs pretty easily in my 5g tanks. At first, they swim all over the place, but then they freeze up a little. At that point, I just held the net against the glass in their area. If they swam out, I'd let them. Eventually, they would stop swimming out (it seems as if they aren't sure how to get away since previous attempts didn't work). Then I gently tap the glass with my fingernail which causes them to swim away, directly into the net. It's just a matter of pulling the net up then.

If I wasn't breaking down the entire tank, I'd be at a complete loss of how to get them back out. But since I will be pulling everything out, including even the substrate, I'm pretty sure I can catch them. It's just a matter of how easy or hard they are to catch.

Ideally, I'd love for them to go into the coke bottle trap so I wouldn't have to net them at all. But I'm not holding my breath on that.

I guess I'll find out how difficult they'll be to catch soon enough. I plan to move my smaller tanks and all fish to my house on Oct 29. That's just 12 days from now!
 

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Another thing you can do is catch them while they are sleeping. You would probably be able to catch one easily before you wake all the others.
 

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Pelvicachromis Lover!
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Discussion Starter · #299 ·
Yeah, that's another idea. I've done that before with hard to catch fish, but not in a tank this large.

I'm honestly not looking forward to breaking down that tank. Unlike many others here, the actual process of planting is not enjoyable for me. Watching the planted plants grow is very enjoyable for me which is why I do the planting part.

One thing that will be good about breaking everything down is that I can create a database of all the fish and plants I have. I have the names of most of my plants, but it's all strewn about in different threads so I can't remember them all.

When Tex_Gal sent me a care package to help deal with the setbacks of no power for a week, she told me how she kept everything documented. She has the name and a picture of all her plants recorded. I want to use her idea so I can keep track of what I have. I can do that when I break it all down.

Plus, I'm looking forward to getting a count of how many amanos and cardinal tetras I have now. I know how many I put in the tank, but I don't know how many have actually survived. I don't think any of the cardinals have died, but try counting 21 of them when they're all over a 75g tank! I can't do it! I should have around 30-35 amanos, but I have no clue if there's really that many in the tank. By breaking it all down, I can see how many deaths I've had, if any, which will give me some idea of how those fish and inverts are doing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #300 ·
Last pics before I tear it all down for the move! Wow, have the plants grown. The tank is really filling in now. I think the plants should do fine with the move. They may get set back a little, but they're healthy enough to handle it.

I'm definitely winning the fight against the BBA. ALL spreading has stopped, and what remains is reducing. With the move, I should be able to clean up any that's remaining and then keep it away after that. I think the combination of being very good with my fert dosing, raising the CO2 again, and having actual plant mass to use up the ferts.

I still have a LOT of the GDA, but I don't really care. It'll get cleaned out when I break down the tank, and then I'll see about keeping it away when I set things back up. But between the amanos, nerite snails and SAEs (and even the guppies like to nibble on it), I think it's good to have in the tank. When I get some otos, I bet they'll love it, too.

I can clean it off of the glass and it does not come back in just 90 minutes so it's not interfering with my viewing pleasure. If I had to live with any algae, this would be the one I'd pick. It actually looks pretty nice.

Okay, does anyone want some pics? I sure hope so because I have *30* pics to post! :biggrin:
 
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