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Assurance Needed

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by MediaOne, Nov 18, 2007.

  1. MediaOne

    MediaOne Prolific Poster

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    Hey everyone,

    No matter what I do I get BBA.

    I realize that low/fluctuating CO2 levels are the most likely culprit... and for this reason I have done everything in my power to maximize and add stability. I have had my ceramic diffusers *cranking* and my drop checker (with lab grade kH 4 fluid) at brilliant yellow (fish jjjuussstt starting to show stress). Lately I thought I would give an inline CO2 reactor a try. So far I have really appreciated this unit for it's efficiency and lack of bubbles in the tank. Last night my aquarium looked like a bottle of club soda. I'm only running dual 54W T5 with a 2 hour peak of 4x54W T5's. Weeks have gone by and it *always* catches up with me.

    So, I need to know what else I am/could be doing wrong.

    Let's assume for the moment my CO2 is fine. I'm experienced enough to know that assumptions are horrible, but please humor me for the time being.

    What are the next two biggest variables?

    Do you think my nitrates are possibly getting low? I am using EI, but maybe they are getting consumed faster than I expect? .... it shouldn't matter ...

    I just tested my iron levels with an iron kit (I know... I know) ... and it reads off the charts. I have been adding Barr's CSM+B and 10% Iron chelate formula (6 caps every other day)... could this be the issue?

    Please help ... I'm losing hope here and I want to move forward from BBA.

    If you give me specific instructions I will follow them (I'll try anything), but please don't give me the standard algae and bba speech. ;)

    Regards,
     
  2. mrkookm

    mrkookm Guest

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    This thread should be helpful.
     
  3. MediaOne

    MediaOne Prolific Poster

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    Thank you for the link.

    Unfortunately it is not helping me.

    I have used Excel.... I have played with Flow ...
    I know how increased plant biomass affects both CO2 & water flow.
    I watch my parameters like a hawk (gh 4, kh 4, no3 20, po4 2, K 20)

    What else .....

    Thank you in advance,
     
  4. tcomfort

    tcomfort Junior Poster

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    Media-

    My hierarchy for eliminating BBA would look like this:

    1. Good and consistent CO2.
    2. Pretty strong flow through all plant beds.
    3. Good NPK for the amount of light and plants.
    4. Good traces for the amount of light and plants.
    5. Consistent water change schedule.

    I think you've addressed all of these concerns already, and it seems that you're doing everything right. Is the BBA all over the whole tank, including all plants? Just on older leaves / just on hardscape / just in one area of the tank?

    I once had a bad BBA mess on my hands, and Tom gave me the following recommendationsspecifically to address BBA. As opposed to you, however, I knew I had bad CO2 and flow to begin with. But here it is, for what it's worth. Like I said, it did do the trick for me:

     
  5. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    This may not be helpful, but I've observed that outbreaks of BBA seem to be restricted mainly to tanks with high iron and/or hard water. Not to say that the high iron causes it, because I'm sure there are many tanks with high iron that don't have it. But personally, I have observed that I can put plants that already have it into my tanks and it withers and dies. I add iron via Plantex CSM +B a couple of times a week but my tap water is less than 5 ppm on GH, KH, and iron (as per my town's water report and also my testing confirms this). I have actually never heard of a serious BBA outbreak where the water was soft or had low iron (not that it hasn't happened, just in my limited experience I see a pattern). Restricting iron completely would obviously have an adverse effect on your plants and may not even be possible depending on your tap water, but overdoing it may only be helping the algae and not really helping your plants, similar to a situation where if you have too much light it gets to a point where it's not benefiting the plants much and it is benefiting the algae greatly so the balance gets tipped.

    CO2 may be a likely culprit for algae and particularly BBA in many cases, but if you've addressed that as best you can there's no reason you can't go on to try to address other possible issues too. It's usually a combination of things, not one individual component, that leads to problems. I had ridiculously unstable CO2 levels in my tank a while back and never saw one hint of BBA. So to take the position that unstable CO2 causes BBA isn't exactly correct, it is a common contributor but there are obviously other issues there, otherwise we could cause BBA in any tank simply by adjusting CO2, and conversely we could eliminate BBA every single time just by stabilizing it. CO2 is just one component of the whole grand scheme of your tank's environment, take a look at the whole thing and start eliminating possible issues one at a time and see what the effect is. Each variable is a contributor to the entire circumstances, sometimes addressing one variable works if that particular variable was out seriously out of balance, but sometimes you have to address multiple variables that are all coming together to contribute to your problem instead of having a single-minded approach.
     
  6. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Excel is excellent for killing minor outbreaks of BBA. The stuff turns reddish or purple, then white, as it dies. And many fish eat the dead BBA. But, I have never had success killing large outbreaks of BBA. For those I always just remove the infested plants, remove and use bleach water on hardscape or other non-living materials in the tank. Then, with only a small infestation left in the tank, Excel works. Correcting the cause of the BBA can keep it from coming back, which, for me, is almost always an over grown mass of plants in the tank, inhibiting the free circulation of the water.
     
  7. mrkookm

    mrkookm Guest

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    Mediaone what is your setup and routines?

    All methods suggested here will get rid of BBA. This I know because I had a bad outbreak of Co2 back over a year ago now in my 90gal. The cause then was straight lack of co2 as movement is never an issue for me due to my sump setup and pump flow. I had taken out all the plants from my tank put 1 cap excel in a 5 gal bucket, let it sit for 2 hours, once plants were replanted I double dosed for a week just to get rid of any stray BBA. I have never had a BBA outbreak since getting my Co2 in check and using the misting method which was via R5K initially, then TBarr venturi style reactor and now Mazzei 384 injection.

    If you have done all the suggested methods, Co2 is where it's needs to be and still getting BBA then it makes me wonder if you have flow in check? Iron is not an issue IME as I dose fairly high Iron everyday of .20ppm. You use your fish gasping as means to determine high co2 level I use that to determine you still might have low flow issues in your aquarium because if you had good flow and surface movement you will not have gasping fish...well at least mine aren't gasping just 'lil' nosy :)

    In my 20 gal tank I have very high Co2 levels as it gets 24x7 Co2 and none of my fish shows any stress or gasps at the surface. I do have good water movement throughout the tank and surface movement to match...see below

    1a.jpg


    Let us know your tank config, routines, param's...... etc
     
  8. MediaOne

    MediaOne Prolific Poster

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    thank you everyone! here are some more comments:

    tcomfort: The BBA always starts on my Anubias and then slowly starts to spread from there. I agree that my flow is fine.
    Some other aquariums that I have seen locally have about 1/4 the flow that I do and they are doing very well.
    I should mention they are higher light tanks also!

    While I have used Excel in the past to pull things around, I have never used it in a spray bottle. I will attempt
    that soon ...

    Carissa: This is very interesting indeed. Let me mention a few more things:

    gH is 4 degrees via a Hagen test kit, and apparently 28 via a pinpoint conductivity monitor. I don't trust the
    conductivity meter at this time and so I stick with the hagen. Our water is extremely soft here - no calcium or
    magnesium. For example, if I complete a 50% water change I have to add about 2 tablespoons of Barr's gH booster.

    Next to CO2 the only other variables I have heard are important to check during a BBA outbreak are nitrate and iron.
    I believe my Nitrate to be correct for two reasons: 1) My leaves are not turning red (on the certain species I have
    observed to change during low nitrate levels). 2) When I reference check my nitrate levels against a calibration
    fluid (20 ppm, made from the directons on this forum) they are always slightly higher than the calibration.

    This leaves Iron ... and my Hagen test and dosing seems to be excessive. In the coming weeks I am going to focus my
    efforts on the iron and trace levels, while holding the other parameters constant. You mention to watch all variables:
    trust me, I only run aquariums in this way.

    vaughn: I have had excel save me from some harsh bba disasters ;)

    mrkookm: my drop checker looks almost the same, but probably more yellow!!! My flow and CO2 is adequate. That is
    a fair amount of iron you are adding there... but if you consumption rate is extremely high than this isn't too
    bad. Especially if you reset the levels each week with a large water change. You know, the classic EI approach.
    I didn't mean to say I have gasping fish now. I mean in the past I have used their comfort level to help me set
    high levels of CO2 in the water. After a few weeks of that I still had bba return.

    Oh ya, my tank is running 24/7 co2 at the moment so that I can eliminate any fluctuations.

    My lights are 6 hours...
     
  9. raun

    raun Junior Poster

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    When I first started my BBA issues were largely caused by my big newbie mistake of too much lighting. I was running close to or a bit over 4 watts per gallon on a standard 75 gallon, which was just too difficult for me to keep happy. Cutting back to 2 - 2.5 watts a gallon, changing nothing else, fixed all my BBA issues.
     
  10. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    Well, it's definitely not hard water in and of itself being the issue. I'll be interested to know what happens. I don't think it's nitrates in particular, again in my tanks I have run anything from near 0 (accidentally) to 50ppm of nitrates and haven't been able to trigger any bba or really any other algae for that matter by changing nitrates. What's your KH? I'm assuming it's probably low if your GH is low but just curious. I should start overdosing one of my tanks on iron and see what happens.
     
  11. MediaOne

    MediaOne Prolific Poster

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    I couldn't agree more. Also, my kH is 4 degrees.

    Made that one too ... now I run 2x54W and it does grow the plants. period. At this point I see no point in using more light (with the species I have).
     
  12. MediaOne

    MediaOne Prolific Poster

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    For the record , this is the trace concentration I have been using:

    1 TBSP CSM+B
    0.5 TSP 10% Iron Chelate

    Mixed in a 500ml bottle.

    Then I would dose 6 caps (30ml's) every other day.

    ---------------------------

    Now I will try this:

    2TBSP CSM+B in 500ML BOTTLE, 3 CAPS PER DAY

    I'm thinking this will give me less iron and more of the other trace minerals. This way I don't run the risk of depriving the plants of anything and end up with bigger problems.

    What do you guys think?

    Thanks in advance,
     
  13. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    What size is your tank?

    According to that type of dosing you will be putting in the equivalent of .18 of a tsp per day of Plantex. If it were me I would just dry dose 1/8 tsp per day. But post your tank size and we can figure out how much iron that will be giving you.
     
  14. MediaOne

    MediaOne Prolific Poster

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    hey Carissa,

    My tank is 90 gallons.

    The ground cover is thick but overall I would say the aquarium only has a moderate level of plants. I say this because there is not a lot of stem plants in my tank.

    That is another thing ....

    It has been recommended to me (and apparently this advice came from Chuck Gadd originally) to get a good amount of stem plants and grow them. Reason being that they will consume tons of nutrients and help me get some stability. If I do try this it will be after I leave the tank for a few weeks with the new iron & trace dosing strategy.

    Thanks,
     
  15. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    Hi,
    Ok with a 90 gallon tank and with the dosing strategy for Plantex that you are going with now, you will be adding about 0.15 ppm of iron each dose. Recommended dosing is 0.1 - 0.5 so that puts you in the range as far as an individual dose.

    But considering the fact that you are adding it every day instead of every other day, you could still end up with overkill. For instance if your plants are slow growers and don't take in much iron in the space of a week, even doing EI with your weekly 50% water changes you could end up with close to 2.0 ppm of iron over time, which is quadruple the higher recommended amount. I think I would cut it back more than that unless you have a very high plant mass or fast growing plants. Plus you will still be working through excess iron that is now in the tank. Maybe you should do a couple of 50% water changes this week without fertilizing any iron and then start dosing Plantex at the amount you said above, but only every other day or every third day and see how things progress. If you see the algae starting to respond, you know that was probably the issue.
     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I had a 90 gallon tank, I added 2ppm of Fe via TMG, never induced BBA.

    It's not Fe, it never was and never will be.

    It's CO2.

    I've changed every nutrient, light intensity and none ever induced BBA with a stable tank.

    I've added too much light, let the tank over grow, other things that reduce CO2, and induced BBA.

    If you are Fe limited, and that reduces the CO2 deamnd, then adding Fe can correlate with BBA.

    But correlation does not imply cause.............

    It's also not just low CO2 either.............at lower light, well adapted low CO2 plants, non CO2 tanks go many years without BBA as well.

    If you start doing water changes to these tanks, say 50% weekly, they tend to get BBA.

    WC's add CO2 spikes, that confuses the plants, and signals to the BBA spores to germinate.

    You cannot limit BBA with PO4 or NO3 or Fe by themselves under controlled CO2/light/other nutrient conditions.

    Spores will continue to germinate over 2-3 week's time and conitnue if you do no correct things fast.

    Generally, there is a 2-3 week delay between poor conditions and BBA outbreaks.
    I've shut off CO2 and mess with the supply and waited, after a week, no real algae response was noted other than slowed or stunted growth.

    I noted recently in a small tank the effects of BBA and over grown poorly circulated CO2. Took about 2-3 weeks. Then progressed.
    I trimmed the tank, the BBA "new" growth stopped.

    CO2 was the same as was the nutrients(water column and sediment are both non limiting and rich).

    Light is high.

    I've "cured" BBA is a dozen tanks by simply reducing the light intensity.
    No other changes where done, this reduces CO2 demand.

    CO2 is 45% of the plant biomass, can change the growth rates by 10-24X faster.
    It's very important to provide stable CO2.

    High, low etc.
    The key appears to be stable long term CO2.

    Algae: well, a good trim and attacking it and being patinet enough to slowly beat it back and correct the tank over a several week time frame is wiser than the sledge hammer kill it all and clean it up in less than week approach that many seem to try.

    In client tanks, 3-4 weeks is typical, I can amplify things and get things done inside 1-3 weeks for most any algae issue.
    But plant health/growth take longer to have them looking good etc.

    BBA is pretty much CO2 related going back decades now.
    Chuck's guide is rather dated and based on some myths.

    By focusing on CO2 more, you will learn more about how to grow aquatic plants much better than giving up, going with a more lean limiting approach to work with your inability to control and monitor CO2.

    Most everyone has a CO2 issue at some point, being able to spot and resolcve it is wiser than having to redo the entire dosing routine and balming the wrong elements for your failures..........

    Some seem to relish that approach however................I spent a few years dealing with BBA myself, but had no web at the time. I knew what to do to get rid of it, but I did not know why and was not sure, today I am and can test and answer that question easily.

    There is always some poster with the perpetual BBA issue.
    I've had local hobbyists with this as well and resolved it for them.
    It has been CO2 related without fail, for myself and everyone I've ever seen to date going back 2 decades now.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  17. MediaOne

    MediaOne Prolific Poster

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    Tom,

    The bottom line here is ... I still have BBA despite taking your advice.

    I have done everything you have ever recommended to me... it doesn't seem to work if I wait one month, 2 weeks etc.....

    Why do you repeat yourself more than provide specific "next steps" to take? I can ask this because I am not ignoring you - I am an experienced aquarist, putting in to practice what you recommend.

    So, if you are up for it lets get some advice specific to my situation. Here are the facts. I know you like those ;)

    1) I am running 2x54W T5 HO bulbs with quality reflectors. Approx 5" from water surface. I have a Giesemann Midday and Giesemann Aquaflora. They are running 6 hours per day.

    2) I have an inline CO2 reactor now (have for a week or slightly longer) and I am adding enough CO2 so that my drop checker (with kH 4 reference fluid) is *consistently* the same color of bright yellow. I had been adding CO2 via a ceramic diffuser for MONTHS and maintained a yellow color also. Right now the CO2 is running night and day in order to maintain stability.

    3) I have an Eheim Pro 3 electronic (spray bar vertical) pointed at the front glass 1/3rd in from the left side of my 90 gallon. Water flow is higher than the other plant tanks in my city that look much better than mine (needless to say no BBA).

    4) I am religious about water changes, trimming the affected areas etc.


    What should I do next in order to see positive changes? I am willing to wait weeks to see how the changes play out (and have in the past). I can provide you with pictures if you need to see what is happening.

    - Should I take the reflectors off of my lights? (doesn't seem like I am using excessive lighting by any means).

    - Should I reduce my photoperiod further?

    Maybe you don't give advice this specific... and that is fine too... but like any good aquarist I am going to explore all variables until exhaustion in order to reach the desired end.

    Regards,
     
  18. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hey Media,

    Couple of thoughts/questions:

    1. You state that you have 'sufficient flow' and that you also use a spraybar.

    a. Could you please advise of filter/pump/gph used for your 90g tank?

    b. Could the spraybar not be circulating c02 enriched water to all areas of the tank? A spraybar tends to push water across the surface, where Anubias tend to be on the bottom of the tank. Can you re-position your DC by the BBA or other places in the tank to verify >= 30ppm c02 throughout? This will help determine if you indeed have 'suficient flow'.

    While you state that your flow is > than your peers, that does not guarantee sufficient flow for your specific setup :)

    2. You state that your DC color is bright yellow and that c02 is run 24/7, but only using 1 wpg for 6 hours and dosing full EI, correct?

    This setup seems out of synch to me, where you are providing a lot of c02and nutrients to the plants, but a small amount of light to drive the use of these nutes. Could this be a LIMITING factor in your growth, which then is a contributing factor that allows the BBA to develop? Perhaps a 9-10 hour photoperiod would be better?

    3. If I had to assume anything, it is that Tom is correct and to try and approach the issue with a fresh set of eyes. Perhaps speaking to another hobbyist?

    There have been many times that I have discovered a solution to a problem simply by explaining the issue, steps taken, etc, to a peer, and the reason comes to me as I am explaining and sometimes almost as soon as they sit down. Just sometimes you can't see something, until the light goes on :) Plenty of things are 'obvious' later in hindsight.


    FYI - I use full EI and 2.5 wpg of 6500k MH in a 180g..... I use a 1800 gph pump to run the tank, so with head height will turn the tank over 6x per hour.......

    I hope this helps.
     
  19. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    FYI

    Sorry about this extra reply as it was a dupe of my original.
    Site forced me sign in again to submit the reply, but I was already signed in. Site response time was bad, and when I was finally re-signed in and re-directed, the duplication had already occured.

    I just deleted the contents as it was the same.
     
  20. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    Just trying to make sense out of the reasoning here so I hope nobody takes offense.

    From what I'm reading, Tom is saying that in nearly every situation he's seen, adjusting CO2 to make it higher and/or stable has cured BBA.

    But certainly BBA has more requirements for thriving than water and CO2. So could we not flesh out those other requirements and work on those, failing being able to fix CO2? Perhaps the root problem is CO2 or at least the addition of CO2 would rectify whatever is causing the BBA. But if you can't fix the root problem, could you not at least work on the symptoms to find a solution that works for you although not ideal?

    I know that low/unstable CO2 in and of itself does not automatically cause BBA. I have three tanks here that can testify to that, I've had every CO2 issue under the sun and back again and cannot trigger BBA. I can add BBA to a non-CO2 tank and it dies. There has to be a reason for that. Something is lacking in my tanks that prevents BBA from thriving. Whatever that something is, doesn't affect my plants. I dose all macros and micros regularly and my plants are thriving for the most part.

    The logical conclusion that I have to come to is that BBA will thrive if you have both unstable CO2 AND some other condition that plants evidently don't require. Granted, there are so many variables in one particular tank it may be really hard to figure out. But there has to be something else contributing to it other than CO2.


    Now another school of thought would be that some set of conditions occurred to trigger the onset of BBA (CO2?), those conditions have since been rectified, but now that it is established it will take strong measures to wipe it out again. That seems to be the case with most algae, once it's established and you remove the condition that is causing it, you still have to go overboard to eradicate it again.

    I suppose it could also be a long standing deficiency of some type....if the plants are weakened over time they become more susceptible to any type of algae, and BBA is what has decided to take hold and it becomes a vicious cycle of BBA killing plants and dying plants feeding BBA.

    Or as Gerry mentioned, maybe a circulation issue...so you have CO2 in some parts of the tank and not in others.
     
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