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Algae ID help! Algae infestation 2 hours after tank setup!

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by orion2001, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. orion2001

    orion2001 Guru Class Expert

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    Hey everyone,

    As some of you'll know, I've been growing Dwarf Hairgrass in an emersed form for almost 2 months now. Today I received my shipment of plants and I proceeded to hardscape and then aquascape the tank. Here is what the tank looked like after I was done:

    [​IMG]

    After I finished setting the tank up, I left the lights on (2x20Watt CFLs) for 2-3 hours while I took a break, admired the tank and had dinner. To my dismay, when I started work on my tank again (needed to do a Water change) I noticed that some sort of mat like algae was growing extremely rapidly along my substrate (Seachem Flourite Black Sand).

    I did have a little bit of green algae at the edges of my gravel when I was growing the plants emersed but I did make an effort to get as much out of the tank prior to filling it. Right now I have no idea what algae I have, and nor do I know what to do to beat it. I'm absolutely terrified that I'll lose my plants and hairgrass as I try to battle this crazy fast algae. I'd really appreciate any help that anyone could give me.

    Here are 2 pics of the algae:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Could someone help me ID this algae and tell me what the best plan of action would be for my tank? This algae is forming a mat like structure on the gravel, which I need to pull at to get off of the surface of the gravel. I tried smelling it but no foul smell so I guess it isn't BGA (although I might have trace amounts of it at the gravel edges....not really sure). I tried doing a gentle gravel vac but I couldn't really get this algae to come off on its own. I'm worried that the only way to clean the tank will be to uproot all my lovely hairgrass and then pull all the algae out.

    For now I did a large (80-90%) water change on the tank, made sure the filter and heater were working well and that I established good flow in the tank. I also dosed 1 capful of Excel into the tank (recommended dose after big WC). I also have a large number of Rotala Indica Stems just floating at the surface to soak in extra nutrients. I do think I have a fair bit of rotala indica in my tank to soak in nutrients. My fert routine is going to be:

    1/16 teaspoon of KNO3, 2x a week
    1/32 teaspoon of KH2PO4, 2x a week
    2mls of CSM+B trace solution, 1x a week
    SeaChem Equilibrium 1/16th once a week (Immediately after weekly water change)
    50% weekly water change
    Dose 1-1.5x the recommended dose for Excel (1 ml for every 10 gallons on a daily basis and 5ml for every 10 gallon after 40% or more water changes).

    I'm planning on doing daily water changes as that seems like a good thing to do. What would you recommend I do to beat this algae? I really really don't want to have to take this tank apart. I'm very excited since this is my first planted tank and attempt at aquascaping and it would break my heart to have to give up on this tank so soon.

    Thanks in advance!

    PS- Big thanks to Tom and all the other wonderful ppl on this forum. I've managed to get so far only because of all the useful information I've found on the forums here.
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    It's BGA, and yes, it does grow fast.
    You can do a few things here.

    Option 1: EM tablets, only one treatment for the next 3-4 days ought to kill it.
    Do large 50-70% water change prior and after

    Option 2: 3 Day black out, do large 70% water change daily, add KNO3 back each time, no CO2, cover tank with 2 layers of trash bags, keep out of light, add another thicket towel over tank to ensure no light gets in for 3 days.

    Option 3: Large 70-90% water changes daily, vacuum as much of the algae as you can, dose Excel when the water level is low, allow it to remain for about 5 minutes, then slowly refill tank. You may combine this with a blackout also if you wish.

    You can also use Excel as a spray on leaves, but dilute the Excel at 1 part to 9 and only allow to remain on leaves for 5 minutes or so.

    You can combine EM, Blackout, Excel and water changes/manual removal all at once as well. Organic matter + lower K, lower NO3 etc seems like a good reason to have BGA.

    So a few good flushes, and several higher doses of KNO3 ought to help prevent it from coming back(treat the cause, not the symptom).

    Regards,
    Tom Barr



    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. orion2001

    orion2001 Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks so much for the reply Tom. Do you think my plants will be OK if I do a 3 day blackout? They only just arrived by mail and haven't yet established themselves in the tank.

    Would it be OK if I do daily large water changes where I try to vacuum as much out, then dose excel for 5 mins like you said, then refill the tank and dose ferts. This coupled with dosing Erythromycin. Would it be OK to have a 5-6 hour photoperiod if I do all of the above?

    Thanks a lot, I'm off to do a large water change and try to fix this mess.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    If you add the EM, then do not do the blackout, but everything else.
    the tank will right itself in 3 days or so.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. orion2001

    orion2001 Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks Tom, I'm following your advice. I'll keep this thread updated. Btw, does BGA not always smell bad? I picked up a few mat like chunks today too (looks dark greenish, and is matted very well in the sand substrate) and couldn't make out any discernible smell...atleast nothing foul.

    By the way, do you have any suggestions on how I could get this algae out from the substrate with all my hairgrass without pulling all the hairgrass out? I tried gravel vacuuming today morning during my large 80-90% WC and I couldn't really get any of this algae to come out, it seems to have formed a nice dense matted structure on the surface. I'm going to try breaking up the algae mats with my tweezers before my next WC and I'll see if that helps me when I gravel vac.

    Also, should I use a photoperiod of 4-5 hours or should I just not turn the lights on? (not black out though...there will be some ambient light getting in)
     
  6. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    I get BGA on about half of the my newly set-up tanks. Usually it goes away as the tank matures. If it doesn't, I do what Tom suggested.

    I did have some growing beneath the substrate line, but that disappeared too, after a while.

    BGA is probably the easiest algae to deal with.

    Good luck!

    Bill
     
  7. orion2001

    orion2001 Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks for the reassuring words Bill. When you say the BGA went away, did you have to still manually get it out? I can't figure out how to get it out from my hairgrass and the substrate without uprooting and destroying my hairgrass foreground. I'm pretty bummed to already have algae issues after I spent months researching this and thinking I'd never have algae with a low-light Excel tank and armed with so much information =).

    Another thing I needed some help with is figuring out why I have some white milky stuff coming up from underneath my substrate. I can't really explain it well, so here is a pic:

    [​IMG]

    I first noticed this when I submerged my tank and was planting the Rotala. If I dig into my substrate and stir it around I'm getting this stuff popping up and then looking like a white fog which settles down near the substrate and eventually settles back on the substrate. It doesn't come up on its own, only when I disturb the substrate.

    The only thing I can think of is that this might be related in some way to the Planaria that had started thriving in my substrate when I was growing Hairgrass in the emersed form.

    Has anyone seen this before? I'd really like to know why this might be happening and if it is something to be worried about. Thanks.
     
  8. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    If I had persistent BGA among the plants and in the substrate, I would dose Erythromycin for
    three to five days. I'd remove what BGA I could easily remove and do a partial water change at the end of the treatment. There are other ways, of course.

    That milky white cloud is kind of spooky. Planaria wouldn't cause it. I think you have a "rich" substrate; that might have contributed to it, whatever it is. The cloud seems to be heavier than water since it settles back into the substrate. It could be a mold or a fungus.

    Frankly, if I saw that in a tank, I think I would ignore it. There are a lot of things going on in substrates that we don't have to know about, as long as the tank is healthy. Whatever it is will probably disappear as the tank matures.

    That cloud could be very useful in a tank that was being prepared for a competition. It could represent vapors rising from the ground in a spooky setting, with a few long-stem crypts and similar plants and some rocks for gravestones. Give it some thought. :)

    Bill
     
  9. orion2001

    orion2001 Guru Class Expert

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    Haha, then I guess I'll expect a call from Mr. Amano asking me for my secret recipe to creating white fog... maybe I could even compose a poem to go along with it, then I could sell it for sure! :D.

    Well the erythromycin is being dosed and I think it might already be working. The reassuring thing is that it doesn't seem to be spreading with the lights on today. It was unreal how fast it spread on the first day. I went from a pristine surface (bga only in some parts against the glass walls) to thick BGA mats in 50% of my tank over 2-3 hours! (with the lights on/no ferts/no WC after initial filling up....I know, a very silly thing to do).

    Oh well, I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks a lot guys!

    PS - No comments on my aquascape? It's my first attempt...so I'd really appreciate suggestions/comments from all the veterans out here.
     
  10. Panda

    Panda Guru Class Expert

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    Your aquascape it's beautiful !! good luck with the bga
    how about adding some red plants on the left corner? that driftwood looks great and I know that planting hairgrass is a pain in the ... maybe harder than glosso. I'm going to start a 2.5G tank with HC....I will try !
     
  11. orion2001

    orion2001 Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks Panda and good luck with your nano tank! The BGA seems to be dying off in response to the erythromycin. Still see a little here and there but hopefully it will stay away. I upgraded my filtration to the Aquaclear 50 rated at 200 gph. I know it's a little overkill but my Aquaclear 20 seemed too underpowered and I wanted better circulation in the tank. Also, I might be a tad bit overstocked once the tank is filled with its inhabitants so it should help in that respect too.

    My rotala Indica is not looking too good, I think it's probably to do with the bleach dip (20:1) before introducing the plants in the tank. This is the last time I ever use a bleach dip on plants. It killed my hairgrass when I was growing it out in emersed form and also seems to have killed my hornwort which I bought from the LFS yesterday. It only seems to work on Java fern and Anubias nana without causing any major damage.
     
  12. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    I've used bleach on crypts and hygrophila without any evident effects either short or long term. I fully expected the crypts to melt but in fact they are growing wonderfully.
     
  13. orion2001

    orion2001 Guru Class Expert

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    Hi Carissa,

    I haven't had any trouble with bleaching anubias and java ferns (both are ofcourse very hardy). However a 1-1.5 min dip in a 20:1 bleach dip killed both my hairgrass and the rotala indica. It didn't kill either to the point that it couldn't grow back. In the case of the hairgrass all the leaves turned brown over a week or two and then dried up. I had to instead wait for new leaves to grow, and it took a lot longer for my emersed hairgrass to start spreading.

    The rotalas were a bit more of a disaster. Entire stems withered away and the leaves turned mushy. I had a tough time getting them out without fouling the water. Some of the stems have new growth on the top which looks healthy but the entire bottom portion of the stems looks unhealthy and has withered/dead leaves. I just left 2 stems in to see if I could actually salvage the rotala and eventually propagate them out. I don't think I'm going to bleach dip my stem plants which just came in today.

    Right now my big concern is the crazy number of planaria thriving in my tank as well as some nitrite readings on my test kit. I'm hoping that addition of some fast growing stem plants will help. The rotalas would have really helped if they hadn't all died :mad:
     
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