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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My office tank gets a four hour blast of sunlight daily. The temperature would swing from low 70's on the week days (thanks to the AC) to mid 80's on the weekend (when the AC was off). The tank was over run with algae to the point I thought about shutting it down. I tried CO2, algae removing chemical, toothbrushes, daily 50% water changes, adding 90 gallons worth of HOB filters (2 AquaClear 20s, and 1 AquaClear 50), daily fert and excel dosing. I tried anything and everything and I just couldn't stop the Algae.






















I gave up.








I stopped trying to treat the algae.









Than, almost overnight and completely by accident, I cured my algae problem.

I had started to keep Chili Rasboras in the tank, as part of an elaborate plan to start a second tank at home. I wasn't worried about the algae, because the Chili Rasboras weren't going to be there be in the tank too long, I would move them home, and shut down the office tank (due to the algae). But... as all crazy plans do; nothing went right and my dump plan collapsed. I decided to try to make the Chili Rasboras more comfortable in the office tank, while I figure out things. I added a heater to keep the tank more in range with what the little fish liked. I than added ground banana leaves, because I read they liked leaf litter. That's when the magic happened. The water darkened as the leaf litter settled in to the tank. My HOB would pull the tannin out of the water ( with both carbon and Purigen in the filter, I had downgraded to one AquaClear 50, with the AC20 impeller in it). As the water cleared I saw that the algae cleared too. It was gone, all of it and happened fast...

The algae was gone. All of it!

I ended up removing the HOB, and switching to sponge filter. I decided I like the tea color water better. Its has a warmth to it, my crystal clear tank at home doesn't have.

As you can see from the pictures below, the tank is completely algae free for about 6 months. It still get a full morning's worth of sunlight daily. I've stopped CO2, killed frets and excel and all chemical algae treatments, I've gone to monthly 50% water changes. I still have to cut my plants back, but about a third as often (this might be more do to the stoppage of the CO2 and ferts).

I could easily remove the tea-stained color from the water with a HOB loaded with carbon and/or Purigen, but I like the warmness of the water. Plus the Chili Rasboras seem to love it.







The trick is the tannin. Tannin naturally inhibits decomposition, and has antiseptic properties. It's blocking the growth of the algae. I bet it would work in almost everyone's tanks, assuming the fish would be ok with it. If the tea-stained water look can be fixed with the use of carbon and Purigen in the filter.
 

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The trick is the tannin. Tannin naturally inhibits decomposition, and has antiseptic properties. It's blocking the growth of the algae. I bet it would work in almost everyone's tanks, assuming the fish would be ok with it. If the tea-stained water look can be fixed with the use of carbon and Purigen in the filter.

I would love to disagree with you, but I'm not going to...that's not to say that I agree with your conclusion either though.

I learned some about tannins, probably 10 years ago, when I first started keeping the Acrochordus. I did, eventually, choose to forgo the tannins in pursuit of using purigen, so my current ability to judge your conclusion is somewhat limited at best. However, I would point to the reality that if it were that simple...it would have been discovered a long time ago.

I currently have a simple tub-setup..with a tub-sump. I am not using purigen, but have considered getting/using some Kent Blackwater Extract...as I have in the past.

One thing you may want to factor in is the reduction of available light to the plant leaves caused by the tea-color. Might not seem like much, but without before and after PAR readings...it's really difficult to say.

My setup has only been setup for about 5-6 weeks, so I do have some current algae issues. Initial light source was sunlight through a blind. Now it is just a 23w CF in a dome hanging. I have raised it recently, started adding ferts, maybe, 10 days ago, eliminated the sunlight source, etc. Currently there are no fish, herps, etc, so the only life are plants and bacteria...oh, and algae. :thumbsup: I may order some KBE, but I have metricide that will be here Monday...yet have just added mini pellia to the setup! :icon_roll So, as usual, I'm not quite sure which way is up ATM. :proud::proud:
 

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I have no idea whether or not you're correct in your conclusions, but I'm going to go home today and break up an IAL into my divided betta tank. It constantly grows whole bushels of fluffly green algae that chokes out the plants. I've always attributed this to the lack of a clean-up crew (the fish will harass them to death); however, it can't get much worse for giving tannin a try.

Question: did you pre-soak the leaves before putting them in your tank, or just dump 'em in dry?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
More data needed

I’ve been thinking more about the black water treatment for algae – I still think that the tannin is still the strongest candidate for stopping the algae that overran my tank. I’m also considering that the slightly darker tank (less light due to darker colored water) to be factor.

I really like to set up a study with control groups and real data to be collected.

Lucubration: No, I just added tannin to the water. Much of smaller leaf plants that had leave covered in algae were lost, the larger broad lead plants recover quickly, and new green and happy plants filled in the spaces left by the dead algae covered plants. I pulled the dead plants or leaves, because as they decayed they would just keep feeding the algae. The health plant life filled in very quickly.

Here’s my working theory on what happens with Algae:
Our tanks have a life plant life cycle; were plants feed on in the nutrition in the water column tanks. Plants grow and die within their normal life span. At the end of a plant’s life it dies and decays, adding (returning) nutrition to the water column. Our tanks need to reach equilibrium and everything is fine. We can speed up the cycle, by adding fertilizers to the water, and pushing bright lights, but things can get unbalanced very quickly – which results in algae out brakes.

Algae hijacks the cycle, by smothers the host plant to death. The rotting plant matter is added to the water column, feeding more algae, leads to even more rapid growth of algae. Algae is an infection, and spreads like a disease. In some cases the algae doesn’t need to kill the host plant in order to drive its own grown, we by adding fertilizers to the water feed it. The deployment of CO2 and utilization of high power light can at times be used keep algae in check by forcing rapid growth in plants. (I think there are real drawbacks to high light and CO2 method.)

The tannin reduces decomposition of the plant matter in the tank and inhibiting algae development; breaking the cycle that always exists in our planted tank, but the algae hijacked to favor of its own explosive growth.
Tannin is really neat stuff well worth the time to read about it.

I’m wonder is a balance of tannin and filtration to water clear in most tanks can be achieved that would effectively stop spread of algae. Produces like carbon and Purigen can certainly clear the water, but would the tannin have a chance to work its magic and stop algae before being pulled from the water column. Again setting up some tanks, and control units could really help in the understanding.

Currently my office tank, with its failed cap on its dirt substrate and hours of sun exposure is algae free, with only the addition of black water extract.
At home my larger tank’s algae is keep in check my a trio of Otos.

I've very much like people to try tannin. I'd love the feed back. Tannin might be able to help. We just need more data.
 

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A tank is a delicate ecosystem that is easily out of balance. Algae growth is a sign of imbalance.

It is not always easy or clear to understand why a tank is out of balance. sometimes it just takes time to figure it out.

Here is a few things that could have helped.

1: heater balanced out the temperature swings. All organisms metabolism is affected by temperature. Some are more sensitive and others are more plastic. This fluctuation can cause algae blooms.

2: You transitioned to a low tech tank. You mostly had plants adapted to this. You need a lot of plant mass when you start CO2 and fast growers are needed.

3: you backed off of the fertilizer and got in a routine appropriate for a lowtech tank.

4: you relaxed, stopped fighting it and let nature take its course. You had a good lowtech tank hidden in there from the beginning.

5: maybe the tannins reduced the light levels a bit and slowed down the growth of algae to allow the plants to recover.

The is no one secret ingredient that always works. If you would have kept everything else the same and just added in tannins you would probably still have an algae farm.
 
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