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BBA in hardscape

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by tiger15, Sep 10, 2017.

  1. tiger15

    tiger15 Member

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    I was able to control BBA in my planted tank using 5x excel after water change, followed by 2x excel daily. My plants are slow growing Java fern, Anubias, Bolbidus and Buce. BBA were cleared from my plants and hardscape, except when I returned from vacation not able to dose daily.

    About a month ago, I stopped dosing excel and hooked up a pressurized CO2 system. CO2 works wonder and free my plants of BBA cleaner than excel. However, BBA returned to my hardscape, infesting filter inlet pipe and strainer. So I started dosing excel again. BBA Is not new to me as it preexists in all my non-planted tanks if the photo period is too long.

    Is it common to have BBA on the hardscape in CO2 injection tank? I thought CO2 enables plants to out compete and starve off BBA that extends above and beyond the plant tissue.
     
    #1 tiger15, Sep 10, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Plants never out compete algae. Algae need very little nutrients to grow well. If there are any at all, algae will have enough. But, healthy, growing plants are not often colonized by algae, so if we do whatever it takes to get healthy growing plants, algae are rarely a problem. Why this would be true is a mystery to me, but as long as it is true I feel I can avoid any serious algae issues.
     
  3. tiger15

    tiger15 Member

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    Algae is like fungus, which only grows on dead or dying fish. But fungus doesn't grow on hardscape, algae does.

    CO2 makes plant healthy to fight off algae, but doesn't prevent algae attack on hardscape. Do most CO2 people still dose excel, or just ignore hardscape.
     
  4. DutchMuch

    DutchMuch Junior Poster

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    I know some dose excel who have high tech tanks.
    Personally I don't use excel, but I have it.
     
  5. burr740

    burr740 ~~ Lover of Micros ~~
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    A clean tank full of thriving healthy plants doesnt get BBA on the hardscape either. Many theories exist as to why, much like why the plants themselves dont get it, but I dont believe anyone knows for sure.

    If you look at @Tom Barr 's tank with all that manzi wood, you wont see any BBA. He doesnt use Excel as far as I know. Same goes for my tank, which doesnt have as much hardscape atm but its always been the same case.

    However, if something happens to stall the plants or make a few unhappy, co2 runs low for example, then boom, you get BBA on the hardscape, substrate, etc.

    If you're having BBA issues, regardless of where it is, there is a problem somewhere.

    If the plants are all happy, and there's plenty of them, then you might need to keep things cleaner, like the filters. Also might need to raise the co2 or improve flow depending on how much you have now.

    Surface agitation and good flow helps O2 levels, which will allow for higher co2 levels to be favorable to livestock, higher O2 is good for the system in general. The surface should also be clear and free any sort of film.

    Take a look at all those things and see if there any room for improvement. Focus on cleaner conditions and more efficient CO2.
     
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  6. tiger15

    tiger15 Member

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    Can it be allelopathy or EI dosing effect of excessive micro nutrients that keep algae out in Tom's tanks by selective poisoning? I guess Tom doesn't know either.

    Having kept fish for a long time, I have been keeping my tanks obsessively clean to keep fish healthy. I haven't changed the routine after converting one 75g into a planted tank. I still do 75% water change weekly including substrate vacuuming, clean filter twice a week, and maintain a high water turn over rate of 10+ times an hour. I have a power CO2 reactor, so water agitation, O2 level and CO2 distribution shouldn't be the issue.

    However, I only inject CO2 at 1/2 bps because I don't want to lower the pH below 7 because I keep hard water fish (African and American cichlid) that won't survive in acid pH. The CO2 level is probably no where near the optimum 30 ppm, but my plants are free of BBA ,and growing.

    My substrate is dolomite gravel, rich in Ca and Mg but inert otherwise. I dose 20 ppm K (K2SO4), 10 ml of Flourish, and 0.5 ppm chelated DTPA Fe in the water column weekly. I don't dose nitrate or phosphate at all because my heavy fish load is producing 20 ppm N and 2 ppm P before water change.

    Obviously, the condition is not optimal for my plants, that's why I still have BBA on the hardscape. What else can I do to improve?
     
  7. burr740

    burr740 ~~ Lover of Micros ~~
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    Allelopathy is often suggested as a reason for this phenomena, but Ive seen knowledgeable folks make convincing arguments why it's not the reason. My personal understanding falls short of having an opinion one way or the other.

    It's not selective poisoning from EI level micros. Ive spent the better part of 3 years dosing 1/50th - 1/100th EI micros with very high light, in several different tanks at the same time, and still only get BBA when the plants are unhappy.

    Low CO2 is almost certainly the problem in your case. 1/2 bps is literally nothing in a 75 gallon tank, even with the best diffusion.

    Some co2 is better than none at all, as long as its stable. This is true, but it comes with a few caveats, primarily how much light you have. You can get by adding small amounts of co2 to a low light tank. But once you get into the med-high light ranges, this no longer works.

    The reason it doesnt work is because plants allocate their resources in completely different ways when there's plenty of co2 vs. not enough. Plants in a low co2 environment manufacture RuBisCo to compensate. it's an expensive enzyme to make, energy-wise, and it takes several days to adjust.

    Low or inconsistent levels of co2 keep the plants "confused" bouncing between one state or the other. You may not notice anything from a visual standpoint, but the plants inner workings are in a constant state of adaptation. Which means they are somewhat stalled, not thriving and growing as well as the are trying to. And this is when BBA shows up - for whatever reason exactly.

    I used to keep Cichlids back in the day, but never had plants and co2 along with them. One thing to know is the PH drop from CO2 doesnt affect the KH or GH of the water. So I "think" they could handle more co2 than your using, but Im not entirely sure about that.

    You can dose less K by half. And probably be better to dose less Fe, or get it all from Flourish Comp by increasing that. Flourish comp has relatively low non-Fe micros compared to Fe. Some of these micros need to stay within a certain ratio to Fe, Mn especially. If those get too far out of whack things can go sideways.

    As long as you're using Flourish for the micros, .1 additional Fe would probably be better than .5. You could also dose 2x week instead of once (yeah, that Flourish is gonna get expensive) Try it just once a week first and see.

    Im not saying this is exactly what you should be dosing, just some thoughts on what I'd probably try if it was me.

    CO2 sounds like the primary issue
     
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  8. tiger15

    tiger15 Member

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    Thanks for the info. I am a techno guy and love the science behind plant keeping.

    I have never measured PAR, but estimated that I have medium to low light. I currently only have low light epiphytes: Buce, Java fern, Bolbitis and Anubias attached to rock so my cichlid can't uproot them. I experimented with a few stem plants in pot (Rotala and Ludwegia) but they didn't make it, apparently not getting enough light and/or CO2.

    My planted tank is not a typical planted tank with plant the focus, and light fish load. My planted 75g has large and robust cichlid, and moderate plant mass. My goal is not an aquatic garden with small schooling fish, but big fish and bold plants co starring. I never thought the set up would work at all, but surprised my cichlid didn't destroy everything. My low light epiphytes are establishing and show slow growth, though not in top conditions I believe.

    My planted tank experience started 6 months ago, evolving from Excel dosing, DIY CO2 reactor for two weeks, and now CO2 injection. I am learning my way and amazed how techno a planted tank can be, in comparison to keeping fish only. My golden rule of keeping fish only is don't mess around with the water chemistry, just do frequent and massive water change. Keeping plants require the opposite of constant adjustment of water chemistry, in addition to balancing light and CO2.

    The reason I dose K heavily is that I don't know my K level without a test kit, and I read that over dosing K has no toxic effect. I dose Fe every other day, alternating between Fluorish Compre and DTPA Fe at 10 ml and 0.5 ppm total for the week, not at each dose. I don't think I was over dosing Fe because my test kit showed no detectable Fe after dosing. My substrate is dolomite gravel with zero iron reserve. Isn't it the way I am dosing is EI dosing simplified, overdosing eveything except N and P, and do massive water change weekly to reset.

    I will resume Excel dosing at 2X daily to combat BBA on hardscape. I will experiment dialing up CO2 cautiously to see how my fish react. Stay tune.

    IMG_3912.jpg

    IMG_3904.jpg

    IMG_3905.jpg
     
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  9. slipfinger

    slipfinger Article Editor
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    Not much to add to this conversation other than what has already been said, but I can confirm what @burr740 has said regarding fluctuating Co2.

    I was having issues with my needle valve floating. It would stream bubbles faster than humanly possible to count for no reason. I would turn it down to try and correct the issue, check the next day and 1bps. Turn it up a little, next day streaming like mad again. You get the the picture.

    Anyways through all this BBA showed up. Got a new needle valve, things are consistent again and BBA has all but disappeared.
     
  10. snarkingturtle

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    @tiger15 I've got a similar sort of set-up to yours but with a mud turtle instead of cichlids. It's high pH (~8.4) because of my well water, inert substrate (river gravel in my case), no rooted plants, and my light is even lower. Another difference is no added CO2. I also dose a lot of Fe because of the pH. I don't have BBA but I do have a lot of green fuzz algae and a bit of hair algae. A lot of the advice for planted tanks (as opposed to a tank with plants) doesn't really apply. I'm not stressing about it at the moment but I'm reading this thread with interest hoping for an idea I can use to straighten my tank up.
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I get a light, very short BBA like algae, but it's not a nuisance. Spot treat with peroxide is easiest when you do the water changes. the organic matter and stirring up of the tank, that helps.
    I often cover the wood with moss or liverwort, then no algae gets on the wood also.

    when you do a water change, that's a good time, the best, to clean filter intakes, or other non live materials, no tank operates algae free for years really, you have to do a little work.
    Mist bottles work good for large surfaces. Paint brush or tooth brushes for detailed work. Submersed, pipette in still non moving water.

    Excel/glut is much more toxic, thus kills better but also burns everything vs the peroxide.
    Peroxide is pretty mild to plants and fish comparatively.

    It's also very cheap, far cheaper than Excel.
    Finger nails also work.

    Still, good CO2 management is generally the root of all evil BBA. Same for hair algae. And GSA on the glass if you dose ample PO4.
    The other algae are more related to other issues: low N, BGA etc, Staghorn you pulled up a lot of much and CO2 is also poor, GW, potentially the same deal, or new tank, diatoms, new tank, not cycled etc.
    There's no real correlation that accounts for any one specific potential cause for GDA, but filtration and good general growth, enhancing growth seems to cure it long term, BNP's eat it 100% of the time, so, there's a good herbivore that's cheap and easy to find to add to the tank and it keeps the glass clean of other algae.

    So mostly just good care, we all slack off, but a day or two of work, you can right any tank's issues in person.
    Just clean things, filter, equipment real good, water changes, get any mulm or dirt floating around.
    Then check the lighting and CO2 timing to be sure they are in synch, Then the CO2, gas bottle, delivery, pH drop, target etc, KH.
    Ferts, add them. Easy thing to rule out there.

    Filter...............I've seen several tanks get BBA from old clogged filters. Other tanks get old clogged filters and no BBA. Why? I suppose a combination of several things, rather than single variable like say low CO2.
    Could be slightly less CO2 and a clogged filter= even less CO2 being delivered also to plants, due to lower current, more O2 demand, less O2 coming in, poorer plant growth= less O2 beign produced.

    Quite a few different ways that could run.

    GW can be induced by pulling up an organic sediment, or plain sand with say osmocoat or jobes fertilizer sticks, but older ADA AS does this also if you pull plants up and get a dusty mess, then do not follow with a large water change soon thereafter.
    UV takes care of it. But annoying for many.

    Adding inorganic NH4 from NH4Cl did not induce GW however. I'd speculated it, but never confirmed it. But adding a jobes stick seemed to work every time to the water column.
    BBA is the most persistent algae and the most damaging to plants.

    So most of the questions are surrounding it. Hair algae is likely the next hardest one to remove.

    Generally advanced folks are more interested in the plant's growth and appearances, which respond 1st, than algae.
    Why? Algae typically are there because something is pretty wrong with general plant tank care.

    But the focus is always on the plants.
    You can tap down the algae in non live material many ways to clean it up even more.

    Some folks do not bother or are that aggressive. As long as the plants look good.

    This said, I've added Buce, Anubias, many species of pants from a client's tank or given to me that were covered with BBA, to my tanks at home to watch.
    Non CO2 and the Garage tanks as well as the richer dosing for the inside tanks, even the non cO2 tank.....................the BBA dies off and the leaves are clean after 1-2 months, after 3 months, the plants are thriving.

    This is with no treatment of any type.

    Peroxide kills that devil Red moss weed.
    I hate that stuff. But turn off the filter, spot treat and it'll turn a weird light orange and die.

    Algaefix will cure Hair algae, but remove it as best you can and fix that CO2, it also will kill shrimps, maybe not all of them, but most of the Amano's.
    Maybe 1/4 of the cherries. I wanted to use it to cull off all the lower grades and then catch a few high grades to keep the lines pure. They are too tough for the algaefix.
    But it's good for green hair algae. Peroxide does not work well on green algae generally.
    Red algae, staghorn, the Red moss and BBA, sure. BGA? Sure. GDA, GSA, Green thread and hair algae? Nope.
     
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  12. Jason King

    Jason King barrreport.com
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    Tom for reference, I see they sell peroxide in different percentages, 3%, 6, 9, 12 etc..

    Does this matter? What's your preference?
     
  13. tiger15

    tiger15 Member

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    I know moss is sensitive to Excel. Can H2O2 be used to spot treat moss?

    Will Algaefix kill snail, and moss?
     
  14. DutchMuch

    DutchMuch Junior Poster

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    Has copper in it, yes. kills inverts. As for moss idk.
     
  15. tiger15

    tiger15 Member

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    API Algaefix does not contain copper, but an organic compound called Poly[oxyethylene(dimethyliminio)ethylene(dimethyliminio)ethylene dichloride]: 4.50%.
     
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