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BGA advice needed

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by fosteder, Feb 7, 2005.

  1. fosteder

    fosteder Guru Class Expert

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    It's a little embarassing really. Slimy blue-green sheets smothering my tank. It's the first time I had seen BGA in one of my tanks before. Of course this was the first planted tank I had ever made too. At the start it went well. Plants grew. Then it attacked. I read online about it. "Poor water conditions", "high phosphates" were the two common reasons that I heard. As for "poor water", I do 30-50% weekly water changes. As far as high phosphates go, yeah, I have them. 1 ppm out of the tap. A little over 2 ppm in the tank. Then I read a post by Plantbrain on another site (which led me here), and learned that I needed to dose KNO3. Well, a week later, and a Greg Watson order later, I am ready to declare war on BGA. I just need to review my plan with the people, who have some experience with this.

    Tank Specs:
    20 gal long
    2 W/gal standard flourescent
    PH - 7.8
    NO3 - somewhere between 0-5 ppm, you know how test kits read ;)
    KH- 5 deg
    GH - less than 1 deg
    PO4 - 2.5 ppm
    Plain Gravel w/ Jobe's plant spikes
    CO2- none currently, I had done a DIY reactor but it didn't work well, so I had abandoned it.
    Plants - lightly planted (30% of bottom area)
    Fish - 13" of fish (barbs, cories, ottos)

    Tap water:
    Ph - 6.8
    Kh - less than 1 deg
    Gh - less than 1 deg
    NO3 - 0 ppm
    PO4 - 1 ppm

    Plan of attack-

    BGA - scrape as much as I can get off the gravel. Should I do a blackout period to kill it all? Can the affected plants be saved or should I just toss them out? (some are much less covered than others)

    Dosing-

    KNO3- ¼ tsp at water change (this should bring me to about 15 ppm, for the tank volume, I think). Do I need to do this more frequently than just at water change.
    PO4- is the 1 ppm out of tap going to be enough? Or will I need to dose this as well?
    CaCO3- Add this to achieve around 5 deg for KH & GH
    MgSO4- See above
    CSM+B - How much How frequently?
    Fe & K- Right now I have flora-pride ( I'm just using the rest, then I will dose using Greg W. ingredients). I'm dosing this as per bottle instructions at water change
    CO2 - Do I need to do CO2 given the low light level, low plant level? If it will help than I will do it, if it will hurt than I won't.

    I'm will be doing 50% water changes once a week.

    I am really looking for advice on what to do with the BGA in the tank, how much and how frequently to dose the fertilizers. And whether I should start DIY CO2 again. Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to give as much info as I could.

    Thank you all in advance for the advice…..
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA advice needed

    Do want to use CO2 or not?
    Adding CO2 will improve the growth rate by 2-6x at least.

    Blackout for 3 days will kill it, it will not prevent, nothing will, from it coming back except decent conditions, particularly KNO3 dosing and NO3 levels.

    Once you decide on the method you wish to do(CO2 or not), I'll advise further.

    I would vacuum out the jobe sticks from your gravel.
    Add CaCl2/MgSO4 (41:Ratio) till you get 3-5 degrees GH.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. fosteder

    fosteder Guru Class Expert

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    Re: BGA advice needed

    Yes, I will use CO2. It will be a DIY setup though. I am currently setting up a 55 gal and pressurized is out of the budget for right now. My plan is to get pressurized within the next year (hopefully sooner, with some tax return money).

    Thanks for the 4:1 ratio tip. That saves me some tinkering and guesswork.

    Before I black out, should I manually remove as much BGA from plants and substrate as I can, or does it matter?

    Why should I get the plant spikes out of the substrate? I was told these were great to feed sword plants and other root feeders. Is this some more bad advice I have received from the internet? Bad advice from the internet, I know it's hard to believe! :rolleyes:
     
  4. Cornhusker

    Cornhusker Guru Class Expert

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    Re: BGA advice needed

    fosteder, dig one of those plant sticks out of substrate in six months, you will see what they look like, a cigarette fiiter! there are better choices out there, like seachem plant tabs that fully disolve. black alge is the worst one to get rid of, been there. regards, cornhusker :) :)
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA advice needed

    Here's the deal:
    Try out those DIY reactors I have , this will max the DIY CO2.
    Use no less than 2, 2 liter bottles of DIY.

    Yes, remove all the algae you can(any type) before treatment. Then treat, then correct conditions.

    You'll add: 1/2 teaspoon of KNO3, 2x a week from now on. Maybe more.
    Jobes cause algae.
    Need more reason?
    Thye are fine as long as they are way down there and you don't plan on uprooting, we forget and then up they come.

    Plants will take from the water column first, then the roots, why transport something when you don't have to?

    If there's enough in the water column, why bother?

    My swords turned into "trees" without nothing besides sand.
    Same for Crypts.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. Greg Watson

    Greg Watson Administrator
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    Re: BGA advice needed

    It's been quite awhile since I've done DIY CO2 ... but my favorite setup is three bottles ... I replaced one bottle each week ... it gave me a very steady and stable source of CO2 ... this also worked well on the occassions when it was necessary to be gone for a weekend, it was a stable enough system to allow me to swap out the next bottle a couple days later than normal without a significant drop in total CO2 production

    I finally wanted "more" CO2 than I felt I could create using DIY and switched to a pressurized system ... but you can be very very successful with a DIY CO2 setup ...
     
  7. fosteder

    fosteder Guru Class Expert

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    Re: BGA advice needed

    So following this line of thinking, if I decide to fertilize with chelated iron in the water column, there is no need for a substrate like eco-complete? That's good....and cheap.

    2-3 bottles of CO2....I like the idea of staggering the three bottles to allow for changes in my personal schedule. No Jobe's spikes.

    I'll take a look at making those venturi reactors.

    Thanks for all the advice guys. I'm sure it will turn out well.
     
  8. fosteder

    fosteder Guru Class Expert

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    Re: BGA advice needed

    Tom, here is a little update, with a few more questions:

    I removed all of the plants. Threw away the plants that were most infected, and removed the BGA from the lesser infected planted by rinsing it off (I guess I should have done a bleach bath?). While they were out, I manually removed as much of the BGA from the substrate as I could. I also tried to remove the plant spikes. This proved tricky since they were mostly dissolved and broke into tiny pieces. I then did a water change (50%), during this I tried to vacuum the tiny little pieces of plant spikes. I then replanted the tank. It looked great. Then the blackout period began (Thursday night). Sunday night, the tank looked absolutely beautiful. I did the 50% water change, and dosed ½ tsp KNO3. Here is what my dosing regimen has looked like this week, PLEASE CORRECT ANYTHING THAT NEEDS IT:

    Day 1: 50% water change, ½ tsp KNO3. 7/8 tsp CaCO3 + MgSO4 (4:1 ratio, this was done incrementally until Kh was 5 deg, Gh was 3)

    Day 2: 10 mL CSM+B (1 Tbsp per 250 mL water solution), 10 mL Florapride [K2O (3%), Fe (.19%), Mo (.0005%)] I'm only using this stuff for until it runs out, then I will be buying some chelated Fe from Greg.

    Day 3: rest

    Day 4: Same as Day 1 (no water change)

    Day 5: Same as Day 2

    Day 6: rest

    Day 7: rest

    I know how you feel about tests Tom, but since I don't have much experience in growing weeds underwater, I tested to get a general idea conditions. Ph - 6.5, Kh 3 (Kh has since been raised to 5deg)….on the charts this should be around 30 ppm….I know, this may not be accurate, but I wanted a general idea. KNO3 read somewhere around 40, PO4 read somewhere around 1.5 ppm.

    I have also bought some more plants (dwarf Hairgrass, Water Sprite, Cryptocoryne Wendtii)…I would now consider it a medium amount of plants.

    Now that you have an update of the situation, I have observed some BGA on some of the leaves/roots of the Rotala rotundifolia. I have also noticed some algae either BGA or green on the gravel near the filter, its hard to determine which (no plants here). Also some spot algae on the glass near the filter. None of these algae are there in any large amounts.

    Is this algae normal after a blackout period and fight with BGA? I know patience is sometimes a virtue, but if something is still amiss, then I want to nip it in the bud, so to speak.

    Do I need to do anything about the algae I see, or will it go away with continued dosing and CO2 (do I need to try to increase this some more?)? Or do I need to change anything in the dosing regimen?

    Thanks for your advice,

    Derek
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA advice needed

    You did the 3 full day blackout anc covered the tank so that no light got into the tank?

    That is a detail you need to do.
    Brushing off the plants is fine, this should remove the excess BGA, 3day blackout has killed it in everycase, if you left the tank uncovbered, it may make it through and be able to survive.

    To remove jobe sticks: Vacuum the substrate

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. fosteder

    fosteder Guru Class Expert

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    Re: BGA advice needed

    I covered the entire glass of the tank with cardboard. The wooden hood housing my lights was on the top. I suppose light could enter through tiny gaps in the hood or cardboard covering or maybe the cutout for the filter, but that's it. I'm not trying to be difficult. :eek: Obviously, if it (BGA) is still in the tank, I did something incorrectly. I will just have to black it out again, and make sure nothing can get in. The tank looked perfectly clean after the first blackout. Just a little frusterating....
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA advice needed

    Well something with the follow up then, sounds like the 3 day trick should have done it. It'll come back if you do not correct the main issue.

    Clean your filters good.
    Prune back any over grown weeds.

    Then do the 50% water change removing all you can.
    Fluff the plants before the water change, swish them around good.

    Then do the water change.
    Add KNO3, then do the blackout.

    Trash bags, 2 deep.

    Wait 3 days, remove, do another 50% water change, add KNO3 back(1/4 teaspoon per 25 gal on tank)

    Make sure to do the KNO3 often thereafter.

    If it does not seem to work, go back to the beginning and go through it carefully.

    CO2 check always.

    While all these things may appear frustrating and uneeded, they are in a certain sense, the goal is improving plant health and growth here, the blackoutr just kills the algae, the rest of these things help plants grow better.

    So each step will help and all of them will really help a lot.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. fosteder

    fosteder Guru Class Expert

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    Re: BGA advice needed

    I will do whatever it takes to get rid of the BGA.

    Thanks Tom.

    Derek
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA advice needed

    Another person I helped did not do the follow up. Some folks claim they did, but I know when someone is not telling me everything anmd is simply frustrated and thinks the antibiotics work and solved their problem.

    Algae do not lie. Blackout will quickly be reinfected if you do not do the KNO3 and cleaning. Antibiotics have the same issue but takes logner for reinfection, but neither work if you fail to add KNO3.

    That's what causes the BGA. I can do/have done this over and over again and can repeat this test easily.

    Regards,

    Tom Barr

    "Did you specifically add the KNO3 or did you merely do the blackout?

    If so, yes, BGA will return and it will also return after treatment with antibiotics. It'll take longer though(month or two vs a few days).

    Algae appears not because of a lack of antiobiotics, that is rubbish.
    It occurs because the conditions are unfavorable to plants. All the antibiotics and blackouts do is kill what's there and beat it back.

    Low/no NO3, poor maintenance are the causes, not a lack of antibiotics or blackouts..........

    You beat back what's there and then correct the conditions afterwards so it does not return.

    You have not treated the cause unless you added KNO3.
    I could have easily told you it'd be back if did not do this step.

    So you better get some and use it unless you like doing this over and over. Adding KNO3 will greatly enhance the plant's health as well. Antibiotics do not grow plants.

    Your original problem was poor NO3 and maintenance. While BGA may be gone for the time being, you will get another type of algae you cannot kill with antibiotics or blackout.....then you'll be back to the same old problem with less options till you figure out you need to address the plant's needs.

    So whether you use antiobiotics or blackout, you still need to fix the cause in the first place. Blackout and rapid reinfections allowed me to pin point the cause for the BGA in the first place. Antiobiotics would have never shown me this extremely important cause.

    It also quickly lets me know that the person did not follow the blackout routine with additions of KNO3 during and afterwards.

    Algae never lies, it tells me what is wrong with respect to plant growth and nutrient needs. You see any and you know what to do before it ever gets out of hand. But before that ever occurs, you can watch the plants grow and if see any lull or something not growing quite right, then you can address the issue long before algae enters into the tank.

    You do not need to work that hard at it, just do basic routine maintenance.

    Add the KNO3/KH2PO4, traces, 2-3x a week for CO2 planted tanks.
    Do regular water changes, 50% weekly works well.
    Prune, clean filters etc.

    It's not a large work load and the tank is very stable once you start doing this. KNO3/KH2PO4 are cheap and available in the UK.

    Then you no longer have algae talks, you discuss plants....which was the original goal.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
    __________________
    Education is the one
    thing no one can take
    away from you. "
     
  14. fosteder

    fosteder Guru Class Expert

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    Re: BGA advice needed

    When I did the first blackout, I must have misunderstood your instructions, because I did not add the KNO3 during the blackout, but immediately following the blackout and water change. But I did add KNO3, twice that week.

    The only other thing that wasn't per instructions was I only had one bottle of DIY CO2 runnning (I only had one bottle available), I did mix it with much more yeast than normal to produce a much higher rate of CO2. I now have 2-2liter bottles that I can hook up.

    At any rate, I started the blackout again last night. I removed/cleaned/pruned/fluffed all plants. I scraped the sides of the tank. Then I vaccumed the gravel really well (I found another piece of Jobe's plant spikes doing this). I cleaned the decor and equipment in a bleach solution, and rinsed it well afterwards. And I put new filter media in. Replanted the tank, filled with water (50%), added the KNO3. I then blacked out using doubled up, black trash bags (even over the filter/hood cutouts). I then draped a doubled up blanket over the tank and stand to make sure no light was getting in.

    I'm sure it will work this time, I don't see anything that I've forgotten.

    I do have one more question. I should remove the CO2 during the blackout period, right?

    Thanks for being patient with a newbie Tom.

    And I look forward to talking plants rather than algae.

    Derek
     
  15. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA advice needed

    Jobes are great for inducing algae in the water column.

    Ever wonder how I found that out?

    The addition of KNO3 during the blackout is key.
    Adding after the blackout is over as well.

    This will work for you now.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  16. fosteder

    fosteder Guru Class Expert

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    Re: BGA advice needed

    From what I have read/seen/heard on this site I'm betting it involved a test that effectively isolated the effects of the jobe's from the rest of the nutrients added to the water column (with a comparison to a similar tank without the Jobe's of course). I would really enjoy hearing about it though.

    Which brings me to a question. I (and I'm sure other people) would love to read about the tests that you have done with your tanks in regards to nutrients, what cause what and why (kind of in a lab report form I guess). Are you planning to ever put that kind of stuff on this site? I'm sure you have your hands full with the newsletter and getting the site content fine tuned, but it would be really cool later down the road to be able to read some of your research, I'm sure it would be a great learning experience for me.

    I'm sure you have something like this planned for the newsletter. I'll just have to be patient. :)
     
  17. hadog

    hadog Prolific Poster

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    Re: BGA advice needed

    Tom
    What is the logic behind adding no3 during the blackout, or upping it for that matter when fighting this stuff?
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA advice needed

    Poor plant growth= algae

    NO3 when low signals BGA to grow with decent light, poor maintenance.
    Once there, will hang on good. If beaten back, the spores will not grow when the NO3 is higher.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  19. hadog

    hadog Prolific Poster

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    Re: BGA advice needed

    Well if a little is good then alot should be better and then more than alot should be .... ....I know people aim for 10-20 ppm....there must be a level that we should not cross.
     
  20. fosteder

    fosteder Guru Class Expert

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    Re: BGA advice needed

    Two week update:

    Things look great! The BGA is non-existent. The only visible algae is a little bit of hard spot algae on the glass (which gets scraped off). I have made a venturi reactor and that is working great.

    Some of the plants are growing like weeds (water sprite, rotala), others are still recovering (a couple crypts got "crypt rot"), Dwarf Hairgrass and Dwarf Saggitaria are finally putting out new growth. Things are looking up.

    Thanks for all of your help. It's time for me to start worrying about growth and aquascaping! :D
     
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