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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've had this planted setup for about 6 months now, and just about went through a whole 10lb tanks of co2. I was hoping to have a balance by now with my dosing regime, but I still have a few plants that are battling some serious bba (see attached pics). Here's the specs I have going so far:


  • Current Satellite Pro lighting (8 hour photo period).
  • 2 BBS CO2 on a PH controller set to no lower than 6.2 (shut it off at night since plants don't use it then)
  • 30% Water change every Sunday.
  • Dose 1 capful of Seachem Flourish after water change + 1 cap of excel
  • Monday - 1 Cap of potassium + 1 cap excel
  • Tuesday - 1 Cap of Iron + 1 cap excel
  • Wedensday - 1 cap of trace, 1 cap of potassium, 1 cap of excel, and 1 cap of phosphorous.
  • Thursday- 1 cap of Iron, + 1 cap of excel
  • Friday - 1 cap of Potassium + cap of excel
  • Saturday - 1 cap of Iron + cap of excel
I use all seachem products, but will most likely be transitioning to dry ferts later down the road once they are all gone. Got a good deal on buying a box each of their products. I don't dose Nitrate because it seems to stay in the tank around 20-30ppm with the amount of fish I have in there. I use excel to keep the bba to a minimum. I attached a few pics of my setup, let me know what you think!
 

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I have a low tech tank and do not dose and I battled bba. You didnt mention what you use for filtration. I used excel to kill the bba, double dose. I slimmed back on my excel and the bba did not come back. What I think solved the issue for me was removing organics from the water with purigen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Just recently moved to a canister filter coming from 2 empress biowheel filters to help retain co2. I was changing the filter pads every 2-3 months or so. Haven't really got a maintenance routine down for my fluval yet, but I would imagine it would be as simple as changing out the prefilter every couple months?
 

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If you have good light and co2 it's very unlikely that fish and food is giving you enough N&P. If the plants are growing well they aren't going to get saddled down with BBA like that. I would dose all those things and cut back on the FE your already getting some in the Flourish Comp.
 

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If you have good light and co2 it's very unlikely that fish and food is giving you enough N&P. If the plants are growing well they aren't going to get saddled down with BBA like that. I would dose all those things and cut back on the FE your already getting some in the Flourish Comp.
BBA seems to be a weird 'critter'. I had the exact opposite issue you describe, low light, plants growing well enough to need trimmed every few weeks, and the good growing plants were the ones that were attacked with bba, namely my amazon swords and bacopa caroliana. In my case the swords had bba on their tips which was closer to the light and the stems had it on the lower leaves that were partially shaded and the leaves closer to the light were unaffected.

I'm going to subscribe to this thread and hope the op keeps us up to date on how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
If you have good light and co2 it's very unlikely that fish and food is giving you enough N&P. If the plants are growing well they aren't going to get saddled down with BBA like that. I would dose all those things and cut back on the FE your already getting some in the Flourish Comp.
So how would you go about working this into my dosing routine? Dose nitrogen in place of iron half way through the week or something? I've tested Nitrate end of week several times, and it's usually around 20ppm. Don't mind dosing more of it if you think it's worth a shot. Is the amount of phosphorous I am dosing sufficient enough you think?

Kind of why I attached pictures, I don't think I'm technically heavily planted yet to be taking on larger amounts of dosing, or am I?
 

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How long on the fluval and are you running carbon in it? I clean my prefilters every water change and I do 20 to 30% every week to 10 days, I just squeeze them out in old tank water. I'm not saying that there isnt adjustments to be made on your dosing regiment (I am not dosing at this time so I dont claim qualified) but I think going to the fluval and ditching the bio-wheel is going to help you, the bio-wheel is a good filter but not for a planted tank. If I may make another suggestion, if you are running carbon ditch that as well and substitute it for a proper amount of purigen, I wasnt a believer until I broke down and bought it for my 75g and now I am getting it for all of my tanks. From what I have read if the plants are nutrient deficient then it should show up in the leaves which is why I asked the questions I did. Beautiful tank by the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I've been running the Fluval for about 1 month now, 2 months if you count the time I ran it with my bio-wheels to allow it to seed with enough bacteria to run solo. I filled most of it with the bio balls, and left the top compartments half purigen and half carbon. I tried moving my power head around to blow on the plants that have BBA growing on them, hopefully that will help?
 

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Personally if it was me, I would do bigger water changes 50-60% and dose NPK via EI to make sure there's no shortage. I didn't realize you were dosing P (didn't see it the 1st time). The dry stuff (as you mentioned) is really dirt cheap and it last forever. There's a difference relying on Nitrate from fish as opposed to dosing it. The nitrate from your tank came from Ammonia so there's more waste in your tank to get to that 20-30. It's better to dose, bigger water change, dose, water change then rely on waste.

I don't test my water anymore I just make sure I dose within EI guidelines and keep up with water changes. There's alot of wiggle room with dosing, but with waste in the tank I don't believe there is as much.
 

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So how would I add nitrogen to the dosing routine I have now? Would once a week suffice?
I would just go with the dry ferts and follow the EI Guidelines which is usually 3 times per week along with P&K The N in the dry ferts is KNO3 so it also contains Potassium so some don't even dose K separately but I also throw some in. The EI dry ferts are usually bought as a group with all the necessary macro and micro ferts. You'll also save a ton. This way you can be pretty certain there's enough and not just rely on the test kits.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Not ready to go to dry ferts just yet as I still have a couple full bottles of nitrogen and phosphorous still. I'll try working some more nitrogen in my dosing through out the week and see what happens. I'm starting to wonder if a UV sterilizer might help?
 

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I doubt your dosing regimen alone is to blame for the BBA. I think you have a few issues going on here.

First lets address your dosing issue. You're not dosing nearly enough of anything. The flourish products are very dilute. It can take quite a lot of these products to dose with either of the two most popular methods, EI and PPS-PRO.

Below are the amounts of Flourish products to dose 55 gallons using either of these methods. You didn't list your tank size but that's what it appears to be. PPS-PRO is dosed every day. EI is macro one day micro the next. Alternate that except for water change days. example,

Mon. Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potassium
Tues. Iron, Trace
Wed. Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potassium
Thurs. Iron, Trace
Fri. Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potassium
Sat. Iron, Trace
Sun. 50% water change

Code:
[B]Element		EI			PPS-PRO[/B]
Nitrogen	23.7 ml (~5 caps)	3.15 ml (~3/4 cap)	
Phosphate	67.6 ml (~13.5 caps)	5.2 ml (~1 cap)		
Potassium	32.5 ml (~ 8 caps)	5.6 ml (~1 cap)	

Iron		10.4 ml (~2 caps)	0.21 ml (~1/4 cap)		
Trace		36.5 ml (~7 caps)	13.88 ml (~2 3/4 caps)

Second. You say you have 10-20 ppm of nitrates without dosing nitrogen. It's always a good idea to calibrate your test kits before assuming they are accurate. IF your tests are accurate, this is indicative of excess organics caused from over feeding, decaying plant matter, dirty filters etc. Excess organics can cause a mulitude of algae problems. Therefore, it's always a good idea to keep the organics at low levels. There has been much debate on the cause of BBA. General consensus is it's a CO2 issue. I agree that this is most likely the major determining factor. However, I also feel BBA and staghorn, in particular, are also caused from excessive organic waste.

Third. You say you are injecting CO2. You have a PH controller set to 6.2. What's your starting PH? Two bubbles per second on a 55 gallon is pretty low in my opinion. However, bubbles per second is a poor measure. The bubble size is quite variable.

BBA seems to be caused from inconsistent CO2 levels. This can be caused from many things. Poor CO2 delivery and/or uneven water flow in the aquarium.

Here is how I would dial in your CO2 delivery. First what is the operating pressure of your regulator? If it's too low or too high it's difficult to get a consistent injection rate. 15-20 psi seems about right from my experiance. This simple error can cause CO2 levels to fluctuate quite a lot. Add a PH controller and it gets even worse. I don't like CO2 being entirley contolled by a PH controller. They are great insurance if the system gets overloaded but should simply be used as a safety measure in my opinion.

Set your working pressure first. Increase CO2 a little every day and WATCH your fish. Eventually (over a week or two) you will see a change in behavior... gasping at the surface, hiding in one area, darting around etc. That's the threshhold! Now set your PH controller to this PH. That's the maximum setting that should shut off CO2 if something goes wrong. In fact, a tenth of a degree (or more) lower would be safer. Return needle valve to the previous setting or more depending on how close you want to be to that threshhold. We really don't need to keep our CO2 levels at near death levels for good growth.

Remember, PH controllers need to be frequently calibrated for accuracy. Don't rely on a controller without this. Also, CO2 settings will need to be tweaked from time to time. It's not a set it and forget it thing. With experience you'll begin to get a feel for appropriate CO2 levels and what to watch for.
 

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BBA seems to be caused from inconsistent CO2 levels. This can be caused from many things. Poor CO2 delivery and/or uneven water flow in the aquarium.
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This has never been proven and is actually impossible to be true in a blanket statement. If I had inconsistent or poor co2 in a tank that is thinly planted it would have no effect on BBA. Co2 simply increases plant uptake so if the tank requires more uptake to prevent algae it helps, but its the plants uptaking more not the co2 that might eliminate BBA. BBA also does not care about flow. It grows in extremely high flow areas like right on the return and grows in low flow areas where a lot or organic waste is present. I've even seen it growing right inside a diffuser where the co2 is passing thru it.

The only variable that would play a key role in all tanks is organic waste. Whether your tank is low light, high light each setup can only process a certain amount of the waste depending upon light, fish load, feeding, plant mass, bio-filter etc.

I've had several 3 and 4 foot tanks setup with literally 1x turnover, no powerheads or anything else and absolutely no BBA, so you can be assured there was very low flow, in addition filterless tanks that never had BBA. I also did large water changes in the middle of the day which would cause the co2 to change dramatically and the tanks never got any BBA.
 

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This has never been proven and is actually impossible to be true in a blanket statement.
Which is why I said "the general consensus".

If I had inconsistent or poor co2 in a tank that is thinly planted it would have no effect on BBA. Co2 simply increases plant uptake so if the tank requires more uptake to prevent algae it helps, but its the plants uptaking more not the co2 that might eliminate BBA.
Think about the Calvin cycle. Rubisco catalyses CO2 and organic molecules to produce other carbon molecules. Some of these go for sugar/carbohydrate production (among other things) the others go back into the CO2 carbon catalyst reaction with Rubisco again, hence the term cycle.

Rubisco is an "expensive" catalyst to make for the plant. It produces this enzyme based on the level of CO2 available. So if there is little CO2 it won't have an abundance of this enzyme.

This enzyme can take a couple of days for the plant to create in sufficient quantities. If we have fluctuating CO2 levels the plant cannot possibly balance the production of Rubisco. It may exert too much energy creating something that's not needed or not enough. Either way the plant suffers.

Algae on the other hand can adapt very quickly most within hours. So imagine an intelligent algae. Where would you want to position yourself to out compete plants for CO2? The most likely place would be fluctuating levels would it not? The plants won't do as well in this environment. Therefore, it's reasonable that some algae will take advantage of this condition. In fact, in nature BBA is found in waters with greater flow. Those same waters typically higher levels of CO2. The CO2 levels also change much faster as a result. This would suggest that BBA has a particular affinity to take advantage of it's ability to rapidly adapt to CO2 changes.

BBA also does not care about flow. It grows in extremely high flow areas like right on the return and grows in low flow areas where a lot or organic waste is present. I've even seen it growing right inside a diffuser where the co2 is passing thru it.
My reference to water flow was geared at explaining the need to mix nutrients and CO2 equally throughout the entire water column. There are two sides of the coin here, plants and algae.

Lets say you have a plant in an area with very little flow. They won't get as much nutrients as others where the nutrients are being constantly replaced. It's like living in an area with few pizza delivery guys. You simply can't get your pizza when you want it.

There is also the disadvantage of the thickness of the plants unstirred layer (a layer of "stagnant" water covering the plant) in low flow areas. The thicker the layer the more difficult it is to diffuse nutrients through it. When flow is greater the layer thins promoting better diffusion.

The only variable that would play a key role in all tanks is organic waste. Whether your tank is low light, high light each setup can only process a certain amount of the waste depending upon light, fish load, feeding, plant mass, bio-filter etc.

I've had several 3 and 4 foot tanks setup with literally 1x turnover, no powerheads or anything else and absolutely no BBA, so you can be assured there was very low flow, in addition filterless tanks that never had BBA. I also did large water changes in the middle of the day which would cause the co2 to change dramatically and the tanks never got any BBA.
I never said CO2 was the only influence. In fact, I added that I thought organics did play a role.

As far as water changes, that is not considered a fluctuation in my opinion. When I say fluctuations I mean many per day. Natural waters all have CO2 fluctuations. They simply are not as rapid and/or severe as poor CO2 delivery.
 

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I can appreciate the science theories and principals you bring to the table, but most of the things you mentioned for me anyway doesn't pan out within out glass houses. You have people come on here that are running 10x turnover and several power heads and they can't stop the BBA while I'm running 1x turnover on a 4 footer with no powerheads and don't get BBA. The FACT that BBA grows right on the output holes of a spraybar as well as under a plant in a remote area of the tank eliminates flow as well as nutrient delivery as a cause.

I just don't see and I've never seen it in my tanks that within a 2-4 ft setup (most tanks) that nutrient delivery is eliminated. The plants on either side, back of my tank that all look the same more or less. The Pizza delivery analogy you used doesn't work for because that's a yes/no, the tank might have some diminished areas of delivery but that's why you dose in excess. It just ain't happening again in 2-4 ft rectangles, especially with multiple powerheads and strong filtration, which again I have neither.

What is common is organics. Low light tanks can tolerate more, high light less. BBA will grow in both it just takes longer in a low light setup. The one law that is directly relevant Liebig's law of the minimum, which of course states that the nutrient in least supply will limit plant growth and nutrients in excess will have little effect (or something like that). This is the point I was making with the OP, that relying on a nutrient from fish waste especially in a high tech tank isn't good. One your trusting a test kit too much and two if nitrates are that high you probably have too much organic waste and with good light that's a recipe for BBA. It's much better to does Nitrate and clean water with big water changes. That way you keeping the tank clean and also making sure nothing runs low.
 
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