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BBA for the longest time

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by Esulli, Oct 2, 2017.

  1. Esulli

    Esulli New Member

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    Good morning,

    I had made my first post a while back introducing myself with hopes of finding help with my algea issues but moved to a new apartment shortly after with plans of making major changes to the tank, so I felt it best to wait and see the effects of my changes before posting for help.
    I have noticed that there are a number of posts about BBA but am hoping to find answers more specific to my situation.
    First my tanks specs:
    75g with injected CO2 (homemade cerges reactor, CO2 on 2 hours before lights, off 1 hour before lights off)
    2x fluval fresh and plant 2.0 run at 75% capacity through egg crate (at the moment, lights come on at 5am, off at 9am, on at 5pm, off at 9pm)
    EI dosing with GLA ferts
    50-75% water change weekly
    Used to clean my canister filters every other week in hopes of reducing organic build-up, but lately have not (probably out of frustration with lack of results)
    I have a rather large variety of plants that I plan to dwindle down to several selected species once I pick favorites. Growth has been fantastic on most species with a few exceptions, mostly, my Rotala macrandra and Staurogen 'purple' have lost most of their color and are not putting out much growth. On the other hand, my Cryptocoryne nurri 'Rosen maiden' has been exploding with new growth and numerous runners and my Staurogen repens is doing amazingly well in contrast to it's cousin.
    My substrate now (2-3 months ago) is a blend of worm castings, peat, and clay with a flourite sand cap.
    My BBA issues started a little over a year ago. I have always had algea issues since going planted but the BBA did not show up until I purchased a Crinum that had some of it (I thought it would be fine as I had done an h202 dip)
    As it currently stands, since hooking up the cerges reactor, going to dirt, and splitting my lighting period I no longer have issues with any other types of algea but the BBA still lingers. It is mostly on my driftwood, Crinums, and spray bars, though some poofs can be seen on rocks and a couple of leaves of plants that are on the driftwood.
    I have tried dosing excel, I have tried breaking everything down and doing h202 dips (it dies and immediately comes back), the split photo period is the newest attempt and has totally gotten rid of my other algea types.
    So, my hope is that someone will have more suggestions for me, or maybe you need more information? Being that my dirftwood is the most affected by the BBA, is it possible that it's leeching to many organics into the water?

    P.S. sorry for the wall of text, typing this very quickly on my smartphone just before work starts.
     
    Phishless likes this.
  2. tiger15

    tiger15 Member

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    I am a long time fish keeper, but a novice in planted tank, still struggling to get things balanced out.

    My planted 75 gal set up is similar to yours. I have CO2 injection, split morning and evening photo period of 4 hour each, 75% WC weekly, and iron, potassium and excel dosing. I do not dose N and P because I have heavy fish load and testing showed 20 and 2 ppm before WC.

    Here are my 2 cents based on my limited experience. Expert plant keepers feel free to correct my assessment.

    You have very rich substrate, that isn't really necessary since you are already dosing EI which may promote excessive algae growth. I have inert dolomite gravel substrate that offers no nutritional value except for boosting Mg, Ca and GH.

    You said that you have been dosing Excel. How much are you dosing? I am injecting CO2 at 1 bubble per sec, which largely eliminated BBA in my plants, but BBA still lingered in my hardscape until I resumed dosing 2x Excel daily. BBA in my hardscape is now gone, but I have light hair, fussy or staghorn algae (can't tell apart) hanging on some leaves which is not ugly or objectionable to me. You need to have at least 2X excel to control BBA, and you may boost it up to 5X after each WC for shock treatment.

    You said you have not cleaned your canister frequently. Cleaning canisters is PIA which discourages frequent cleaning. Allowing your canisters to gunk up can slow flow and CO2 distribution, and build up organic that may impact your plant health. I use two Penquin 370 HOB filters. I have been replacing filter pads about twice a week as soon as bypass begins. you won't be lazy in cleaning HOBs which is quick and eay. I use Tunze CO2 reactor which comes with its own motor pump and doesn't requires canister to drive it. I am very pleased with Tunze. https://www.amazon.de/TUNZE-7074-500-Tunze-CO2-Diffuser/dp/B000N10NQM
     
  3. Esulli

    Esulli New Member

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    Thank you for your reply Tiger,

    I have most certainly been lazy about cleaning my canister filters lately, but in the past have been extremely religious about it and still, BBA was thriving. My excel experiment consisted of double the daily recommended dose (in spite of my vals), 1 time per day, but perhaps I needed to split it to 2 times a day rather than dosing the way I was.
    I have not seen any other types of algea since swapping to the cerges reactor (I would say that I'm at 2-3 bubbles per second.) And splitting my photo period. Drop checker stays consistently at a slightly blue green throughout the lighting period, so perhaps I should up it yet again as there is no sign of distress from the inhabitants.
    It would seem that the best answer from here is to try excel again at two times a day and up my CO2. I have considered dropping the wood in search of another and sealing it entirely in epoxy thinking that it may keep organic decay down, but I feel like this should not be needed as others have driftwood with zero BBA issues.
    I trim the plants like crazy as I find that it really brings on new beautiful growth and am always very good about removing the cuttings that I do not replant.
     
    #3 Esulli, Oct 2, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
  4. Dennis Singh

    Dennis Singh SynKing!

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    Best way to get rid of bba, and it is a long battle is to get rid of all your organics via your filter or water changes. I do bit of both.
    Don't think you have organics in the tank buddy? Just wave your plants, you'll see what comes out, and siphon that gunk out. This you have to keep doing until you see the bba dissipating. This is my best advice for bba, battle organics
     
  5. Esulli

    Esulli New Member

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    Well, I have no doubt that I have organic issues, or rather, after reading posts, it would seem that if I have BBA, then I have an issue with either CO2 stability and/or organics.
    I will say that my Ranunculus is outstandingly good at holding on to crud.
    I used to be an animal whilst siphoning the crud but I have suicidal amano shrimp now, so I have been nervous about them. That could certainly be contributing to my issues but I do try to be good about fluffing everything whilst siphoning (to chase the stuff out without having to stick the hose directly in the plant)
     
  6. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    Purigen will also assist in removing dissolved organics.
     
  7. Esulli

    Esulli New Member

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    Purigen won't work against my substrate or my EI dosing though? In other words, if I use purigen am I opening myself up to other algea by causing a macro imbalance?
     
  8. gsjmia

    gsjmia Lifetime Members
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    With BBA it seems you have to do 20 things right and if one of those are not right, then it happens.

    In addition to general cleanliness and low to moderate light, I think co2 stability is the easiest to get wrong.

    I got an Apex controller which logs PH (not perfect but the closest way I know to track co2. I forget who said on this website but generally treat co2 like it as free (Pikez?)--add way more than you probably are, and the way to control (raise it back up) is by beating it out of the water by surface agitation.

    So, assume your normal PH without co2 is 7, you might add co2 to get it down to 5.5 (with no surface agitation) and then agitate until it gets back up to 6.

    By agitate, I mean adjust the return water to splash and break the surface or cause ripple. This will be hard to do without a constant water level which is what you get with a wet/dry sump, but you get the idea.

    The other thing I did that eliminated BBA is an auto water changer that changes 15% (the water in the sump) 6X a week. I recently was without power due to Irma for 6 days and when the power came back on I didn't realize the co2 tank was empty, so I was without co2 (and lights) for 6 days and then without co2 (and lights) for another 6 or 7 days. Some plants melted but no BBA!
     
  9. tiger15

    tiger15 Member

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    Canister is a DOC and nitrate generator because of its large media capacity to trap gunk. Out of sight, out of mind. It's easy to get lazy with canister, but not easy to detect a gunked up canister. Often time water will short circuit a gunked up media without clear signal. Interestingly, most plant keepers prefer canister over HOBs or sumps for blaming the latter to drive off CO2. One way to reduce organic build up is to empty out the media, install a prefilter, and use the canister for mechanical and circulation. But then you have to rinse the prefilter frequently or else the flow will slow down or stop quickly. I prefer HOBs because flow will never slow down, just by pass over the media which is a telltale sign that I need to replace the media

    After I resumed 2x Excel daily for a week, my BBA in hardscape are dead and my troop of bristlenose cleaned them out shortly. I have high organic loading as I keep robust cichlid with plants. I have not achieved zero algae yet, but I don't mind light fussy/thread algae as they are no where as ugly as BBA. I'm glad that your Val's do fine with 2x Excel as I am interested in Val's but afraid my Excel dosage will kill them

    Another way to mitigate BBA is to spray H2O2 on exposed BBA during WC. They turn weird red and my bristlenose will clean them out in a week. I have BBA in my fish only tanks and I do H2O2 treatment every few months. BBA grow slowly in non-plant lighted tanks but still ugly when it covers rock and intake.
     
  10. Esulli

    Esulli New Member

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    That is exactly how I am feeling. I feel as though I have tried everything 20 times over, and somehow I am still missing the key ingredient. I have since the move, also began aerating the surface again whilst upping dosage of co2 (agreed, co2 is fairly cheap).
    I'm pretty sure that once afflicted with said tank herpes (I mean algae) that I have tried all of the standard procedures: I have been rigorous in cleaning dead matter and mulm, religious about proper dosing and dialing back my light levels, and dedicated to solving any issues with my co2 stability. The only reason I knew about the co2 stability and organics was trying to decipher posts on numerous forums about the subject. I suppose I have not done all of them at the same time though...
    I have gone through every other type of algae imaginable and tried every answer imaginable, and had no luck until this move. This move is when I dirted, when I set up the cerges reactor, and when I started a split photo period with extended intervals of co2 injection. Since the move, cyanobacteria is gone, diatoms are gone, green (spot, hair, dust, etc.) Algea are gone. But the BBA remains.
    I think at this point, until I resolve the BBA, I need to run my co2 all night, dump heavy amounts of excel by the syringe method right onto the beards, clean the canisters and the substrate heavily and often, and probably ditch my driftwood for the mean time.
     
  11. Esulli

    Esulli New Member

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    I should probably mention that I am only running sponges in my canisters at this point, so I guess, that I am running only mechanical filtration. Now, I am bad now about cleaning them out, but I was the golden child of cleaning them out before to no avail. Should I give them up for two large hang on backs? Maybe a pair of aqua clears? I am hesitant to give up my cerges as before i had it my water looked like sprite. I am using a aquatop 300 and an aquatop 500. But if it means no BBA, is give then up in a heartbeat.
     
  12. tiger15

    tiger15 Member

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    You can still use your canister to drive your reactor, just don't put any media in it or put very porous bio balls so it won't trap waste. I have no canister and need to find a self driven reactor. An uncloggable canister reactor is better because flow will never slow down. You can install a prefilter in your other canister for mechanical for easy access and cleaning, but that thing is ugly and you have to find way to hide it. Just see if it improves before investing in HOBs.
     
  13. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    Purigen will not remove any EI compounds that we dose. It is an organic scavenging resin that will trap dissolved organics before they enter the nitrogen cycle( before it turns into NH3).
     
  14. Esulli

    Esulli New Member

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    Alright, I'll add purigen and stripping down the media in my 500 to the list as well and get back to you all when I hope I see results! Thank you!!!
    On a side note, no, I have not had any issues with vals and excel. I think whoever came up with that had whinsy little puny vals or I suppose I could have iron man vals of doom.
     
  15. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    Excel in my case created deformed growth in the vals, not death or melting.
    I only followed the normal dose not the after WC dosage.

    Bio-balls can accumulate debris too, it just takes a bit longer.
    I only know from using in my CO2 reactor.

    Nothing wrong with foam in a canister, I would recommend Poret foam.
    It does not degrade or disintegrate over time like other said foams.
     
  16. tiger15

    tiger15 Member

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    Let's take a few steps back. Is there a correlation between high DOC and BBA?

    Do you have a high fish load? If the fish load is light, DOC build up will be slow. My observation is that plant people typically keep small schooling fish with light fish load, so they have to supplement dosing of N and P. Majority of them use canister filter and it is fine with no concern of organic build up. Also the build up of plant debris is different from fish waste as the former is carbon rich, and the latter is nitrogen rich.

    I am a cichlid keeper including my one planted tank. My fish are big and heavy feeders. Without plants, my nitrate build up can be 40 to 60 ppm in a week so I have to do massive 75% WC weekly. In my one planted tank, the nitrate build up is reduced to about 20 ppm and P 2 ppm by the end of week before WC. So I don't need to dose N and P. I have BBA in my fish only cichlid tank, but the growth is slow as I limit the light intensity and photo period, and only need to treat BBA every couple months. I can't reduce light in my planted tank, and growth of BBA in the hardscape iwas out of control until I resumed daily Excel dosing. I haven't read much complaint of hardscape BBA from the forum so I wonder if it has anything to do with light fish load and slow DOC build up.
     
    #16 tiger15, Oct 3, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
  17. alessandro

    alessandro New Member

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    Hello,
    I'm an old aquarist from Italy with more than 30 years experience, planted tanks have always been my passion, after I was fascinated by Dutch aquariums seen on aquarium magazines.
    I can offer my experience accumulated with many tanks and "experiments" with lights, substates, water qualities, R.O. systems, pumps, filters and everything related to freshwater aquariums.

    In my early days I started my tanks with very rich bottom substrates, Co2, strong light and not so strong water circulation from my filters . I experimented with any possible material in the substrates and invariably sooner than later, I got to battle against algae, with BBA being the most stubborn and difficult to eradicate.

    After many years and many freshwater planted tanks I arrived at the conclusion that one of the primary causes of algae was a rich or a dirty bottom substrate, I always kept my filters clean.
    The right substrate for me is CLEAN GRAVEL, with the concession to bury iron nails in the lower layer and sometimes ( for a faster start a VERY SMALL quantity of Osmocote (a time released fertilizer for rhododendron).

    A good water fertilization plan is needed of course, together with good co2 supplementation and strong water circulation. But the most important trick which I learned was a good start up procedure for a newly set up tank.
    This consists in having many fast growing plants (avoid all the slowest most difficult plants at the beginninig, you can introduce those only after 6 weeks or so)
    Egeria densa, Myriophillum and most important of all, CERATOPTERIS THALICTROIDES a super fast floating plant, which i let grow on the surface almost covering the Whole surface of the tank sucking out all excess nutrients and competing badly against any algae.
    Only after the first 6 weeks, when the filters and the substrates gets colonized by usefull bacteria and the tank starts to get an Equilibrium, I started to reduce the covered surface of the tank by reducing the Ceratopteris from 80% to 70% then to 60% in a very slow process, basically 10% reduction every week till I keep it at 20 to 30% of the aquarium surface, introducing more plant species during this process.

    In your case I have no doubts, You need to change your substrate with no peat or worm castings and use fluorite alone or simple and clean gravel. The use of Iron nails is very beneficial, after few months I invariably find those well rusted with plant roots firmly attatched to them. (when the substate is new and there is plenty of oxygen, there is no way plants may use the iron nails, but as time pass by, some anaerobic conditions arise and plants secrete some chemicals to "melt" the iron and use it directly from the roots).

    I very rarely have algae in my tanks, if not very minor green spots on the glass and my plants do wonders, but I remember BBA infestations back then.
    Never used Excell or any algicide product, never used active carbon. Always used CERATOPTERIS THALICTROIDES as my algae buster, and kept my gravel and my filters clean, strong water circulation with two filters, an external powerfull canister and an Internal italian style biologic filter (10% tank volume), lots of CO2 and regular fertilizer dosing. (trace elements, Potassium Nitrate and Potassium Phosphate). Continuum (daily) water change

    Accumulation of pollutants, or fertilizers or even fish metabolites must be eliminated by regular water changes, but having always many and large tanks, I quickly undrestood that it was not pratical nor possible for me to change large amounts of water on a regular base.
    50% a week or even 20% a week was not possible.

    All my tanks now have an overflow connected to the drain, one connection to tap the water line and one to my R.O. stock water, all this is connected to two timers and two electric valves opening and closing those five minutes every day. (I change about 10% every day) basically I adjust my values so that they keep constant conductivity readings (250-330 microsiemens) and constant ph (6-6,5) KH 3 GH 6. I dose fertilizers quite frequently twice a week and I use conductivity to evaluate how much to dose. After a while i get very precise in dosing.

    If any sign of algae arise I let my Ceratopteris to take over, covering the surface of the tank and getting rid of any algae, then i reduce it gradually back.

    That's it
     
  18. alessandro

    alessandro New Member

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    dear Esulii,

    to resume and make things simple this is my drastic but surely effective recipe for your BBA issue:

    1. empty your tank and clean it, get rid of any BBA covered surface by dipping it in O2 for 30 minutes, then scrape it off
    2 clean your filter but keep all its bacterias alive, no O2 or any other chemicals, just water, keep it wet till you start it up again.
    3 Store all your fish in a big bucket with aeration and heating.
    4 store all the plants in another bucket and throw away each and every one with even the smallest sign of BBA, keep only the fast growing, clean specimens you have.
    5 Take out all your gravel or bottom substrate and wash out all dirt till water comes out clean. Do not sterilize it, it is full of usefull bacterias.
    6 Buy large quantities of Ceratopteris thalictroides, egeria densa and Myriophillum. (80 % of the tank must be full of plants)
    7. Put back your very clean, washed old substrate (do not buy new one, the old one will help start up the tank faster)
    8. Heavily plant the tank with old but clean plants (if they are covered with algae, throw them away) and use only the new ones.
    9 Only simple, easy, fast growing plants, Egeria densa or Elodea, Myryophillum, Hygrophilla difformis and Hygrophilla polysperma on the bottom, lots of CERATOPTERIS THALICTRODES or SILIQUOSA floating on the surface (50% of surface covered at least).
    10. dissolve CO2 day and night.
    11. keep an eye on PH 6-6.5 with KH 2 to 4 (if ph drop below 6, reduce Co2 or increase KH)
    12. 6 hours of light a day for the first week
    13. 8 hours a day second week and afterward
    14 start dosing fertilizers at half dose after first week
    15. resume normal fertilization after second week
    16. 50% water change every week
    17. let the fast plants take over the aquarium growing strong for at least two months
    18 after two months start trimming down the floating plant and the other fast growing (Always keep the Ceratopteris on the surface for at least 20% of the surface ready to let it go if you see any sign of algae)
    19 start to introduce the plants you like.
     
  19. tiger15

    tiger15 Member

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    Great information from an experienced aquatic gardener, and I am convinced the advice is a winning strategy.

    I have been keeping fish for over 30 years, but only started my journey on planted fish tank this year. I am still on the learning curve, and humbled by the many theories and different approaches on how to keep plants healthy.

    There is the dirty tank approach that relies on dirt substrate to provide nutrients, and minimal water change to recycle fish wastes to feed plants.

    Then there is the clean tank approach that uses inert substrate, frequent water change and dosing to make plants happy.

    These two approaches are contradictory, yet many witnessed success in both approaches.

    I never tried the dirty approach, because I keep cichlid that dig so I can't have dirt substrate, and I am used to doing frequent filter and water changes. One thing I am not used to is dosing, as my golden rule of keeping fish only tank is never mess around with the water chemistry, just pick fish that like my water chemistry.


    I
     
  20. alessandro

    alessandro New Member

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    This is the Ceratopteris Thalictroides, (Algae buster) the plant I value more in my acquariums.
    I always keep it, its characteristic to grow with roots in the substrate or better, floating on the surface and its super fast growing speed makes it unbeatable to kill any algae.

    I never start an acquarium without it. ( This is love)

    if you get any kind of algae let it go wild,

    IMG_0924.JPG

    IMG_0925.JPG
     
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