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BGA again :-(

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by yme, May 11, 2006.

  1. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi tom,

    I followed more or less what you told me to do (basically more PO4), but now I end up again with BGA,…L

    Let’s summarize what I did.

    I did two weeks ago a two times 80% water exchange to reset my tank and added 2 mg/l PO4 and 20 mg/l NO3. And then the following regime: 0.6 mg/l PO4 every day and 2.5 mg/l NO3 every day. In the weekend, I do a “normal” water exchange of 50% and add 1 mg/l PO4 and 10 mg/l NO3 back.

    This means that per week, I add 5.2 mg/l PO4 and 27.5 mg/l NO3. a PO4:NO3 ratio of 1:5.2 . Not too bad I would say since you suggest in the e.i. articles a KNO3:H2KPO4 ratio of 1:4.

    However, this is now the second times that after increasing the level of PO4, I get BGA. I know that you state again and again that PO4 does not trigger BGA, but clearly, in my tank, something triggered the BGA. Can you make a suggestion what caused the BGA to grow?

    According to my fotospectrometer (calibrated it well), I have around the 2 mg/l PO4 in the tank during the week. The level is raising a bit during the week but not to much. After the 50% water exchange I measure 50% of the original amount PO4 and when I add 1 mg/l PO4 back in the tank, I measure indeed 1 mg/l extra. So, I would say that the PO4 measurements are pretty accurate. And therefore I think I can make the statement that my PO4 level is around the 2 mg/l/. Not too much I would say. And when you look at the added NO3:pO4 ratio, it is also not absurd. So again: WHY do I get BGA????

    I am getting tired of this BGA. Last time I had to do 2 blackouts and large H2O2 treatments to get rid of it. And that resulted in the loss of several species, especially the potamogeton sp. Now, I have only 1-2 stems left and I am not waiting for more plant damaging treatments to get rid of the BGA.

    A very unhappy Yme
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    Well 3 day blackouts are not that harsh on plants and should not do much to Potamogetons, they tend to be fairly tough.

    You might clean your filter more often, vacuum the substrate deeply.
    I'd focus a lot more on KNO3, not PO4.

    Do not use H2O2.

    Blackout +KNO3 or antibiotics.
    Clean the tank good and get any mulm out of the tank.

    I see strong evidence for low NO3 and high organics in the substrate and fliters for causes.

    I can see it appear in the gravel line on the front of the glass when the NO3 drops. I can also see the BGA appear more when the gravel is filled with mulm etc.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    oke, tom, I will clean my filter.

    I cleaned my filter last month. maybe I should do that more often.
    I must say that I my tank is much more cleaner since I dose more PO4 and NO3. No mulm and dirt is collecting at the bottom. But since you mentioned a high organic load, I must confess that I have an 2 year old substrate, that contains peat. Once, it was nicely on the bottom, but now I can clearly see some peat lying on top of the bottom. Could this cause a high organic load?

    In the tank, I have only 20 barbus pentazona, so the fishload is not extremely high.

    The BGA is not spread very far. It is now only in the growing tips in the rotala wallichi. BGA never grows in my tank on the bottom.

    If you think that the old peat is causing the BGA starting to grow, do you suggest to completely change the bottom. (I want sand as substrate anyway, so it would be a good excuse to change the substrate)

    by the, way, in holland we do have acces to antibiotics...

    thanks,

    yme

    ps: I think I increase my No3 from 2.5 mg/l evry day to 3.5 mg/l every day?
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    If you have a chance, get the ADA substrate, I'm fairly sure it's available there. It will be somewhat costly, but you'll see a definite difference if you have had plants for awhile. If that is out, a nice vacuuming and disturbing helps.

    2 year old substrates tend to go sour, good NO3/PO4 tends to prevent mulm accumulation due to higher O2=> faster bacterial cycling of waste and less produced as the plants loose less tissue to decay and translocation to the growing tips.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    hi tom,

    i made a mistake in my second post. i meant that we don't have access to antibiotics.

    as for the substrate, I never have heard of anyone in the netherlands that has ada products. I don't know where to get it. The alternative is a mixture of loam and red clay. I could get those.

    But do I really need to change the substrate or can I manage with just a good disturbing? Is the peat causing the trouble? or is it just the low NO3 levels? (although i can't imagine that my NO3 is too low with the amount added).

    I just want to never have BGA again!

    greets,

    yme
     
  6. achown

    achown Junior Poster

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  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    I can ask around, there is ADA Europe, you might check their site, then there is aquaessentials in England, they sell it.

    I'd just deep vacuum the substrate good in 1/2 tank sections each week.
    Fluff off the BGA, and clean the tank up good. Then keep dosing good KNO3 and stick with that.

    I do not think you need to replace the substrate, but if you want, I'd use the ADA stuff.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    hi tom,

    I just found a bit of BGA. For the moment, I cleaned the plants and there is no BGA visible. So I hope that I can keep it in control by adding more KNO3.

    If you think that my can get rid of the BGA without another substrate, I will just clean everything good.

    I am planning to buy a house this summer, so I will have to move the aquarium, or buy another (bigger!) tank. So I think I will not buy the ada substrate for the moment.

    I checked adaeuro.com, but the only dealers I could find were in Italy. I think that aquaessentials is better for purchasing the products. At least they accept paypal.

    For the future, It may be usefull to know exactly which product you are referring to as "ada substrate". I can´t find that poduct. Is it ada multi bottom, powersand or something else? (almost ashamed to ask this...)

    thank you very much again!!!

    (sort of) ps: I increased the flourish and flourish iron dose to 8 ml of each EVERY day. That was around the same time when I started to increase the PO4 levels. The effect on the plant growth is quite good. but isn´t it a bit much fertilizer for 150 liters?

    @achown:
    Thanks! If the bga really starts to grow in my tank I will order it (and may use it if tom says it is oke). Do you by the way know whether species like elatine tiandra, potamogeton gayi, heternanthera zosterifolia and tonina fluviatilis can handle this treatment? (because I destroyed most of it during my last H2O2 treatment.....)

    greets,

    yme
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    All those plants grow exceptinally well in ADA Aqua soil amazonia medium size.
    When I refer to ADA AS, that's what I mean, I don't use anything other than this, + mulm + a light dusting of ground peat on the bottom.

    This works and makes a nice homogenous mix that is immediately started with bacteria and some organic matter.

    Works very well with EI dosing.

    I think simply cleaning, bumping the KNO3 dosing up will take care of things for you. A few good cleanings and larger water changes.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    hi tom, thank you very much for the answers!

    It is (I think) exactly like you told me: bottoming out of NO3.
    How do I know? (or think I know):

    the last two weeks my PO4 level was, after waterchange and adding back PO4 , around the 1.8. this gradually increased during the week up to 2.5 mg/l 7 days later. Last wednesday, I measured my PO4 levels and it was around the 2.1 mg/l. Yesterday, I added 20 mg/l NO3 because of the BGA. This morning, I measured my PO4 levels again: 1.0 mg/l PO4! an O/N drop in PO4 of 1 point!!! This indicates, I think, that my NO3 levels were indeed too low. I need to add more.....

    but honoustly, how much do my mutated ill tempered plants need to satisfy their need for no3/Po4??? Because i'm from holland, most people dose around the 0.5 mg/l PO4 per WEEK and 5 mg/l NO3 per WEEK. So maybe you can imagine how amazed I am that my 5.2 mg/l PO4 per week and 28 mg/l NO3 per week is still not enough for stable levels. I am still shocked!



    Together, I don't think I will need to change my substrate, but I'll contact you again when (or if) I have a new tank and still not have found a dealer of ADA in Holland.

    thanks!

    yme
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    I think many are shocked at the amount of uptake.
    But it's not always real uptake , some may be due to bacterial cycling(N2 gas lost from denitrification), luxury uptake etc.

    But you can get away with less in many tanks.
    Plants species choices, density of plant biomass, fish-other fert sources, less light, PO4 limiting etc, all can slow things down or appear to.

    Many things are tied into cO2, N, P in balacing the uptake of the other nutrients.

    While we may have gone back and forth with various nutrients, parameters for the environment, BGA grows for defined reasons.

    As long as you know that, you can address any one's issue with it. Inducing algae is a straight forward thing, trying to figure out every ratio, nutrients concentration etc is a pain.

    This is why bioindicators like algae are very useful in monitoring environmental, like our tanks, we can see what sopecies is growing and know what's wrong with the water/system without even picking up a test kit or making assumptions about the tank.

    Such methods cut through everything and make it much easier to solve issues with the environmental conditions of a hobbyist's tank.

    Watch how many times folks discuss BBA and all the wide range of speculation in many of the folk's responses, BGA is similar as is Green water and Staghorn.

    As a rule, algae do not lie. Test kits, our assumptions, these often can be misleading. So we often need to re evaluate to make sure we are not over looking things. And yes, we are very human and we negelect, make errors, often think stubbornly and make assumptions. Finding ways around these failings is a wise approach.

    Of course some hobbyists claim perfection :D
    I ain't one of them.



    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    i agree! after reading lots and lots of posts, it is simply not feassable to check every ratio, level or interacting between different nutrients. Just add enough of everything. look at the algae like you suggest and draw conclusions.

    the only thing thing that I would like to know is whether it is possible to have too much nutrients in the water. for instance, I am now planning to dose 4 mg/l NO3 pe day. This is based on another post of you in which you state that the maximun amount of NO3 uptake rate is generally 3-4 mg/l/day. So dosing 4 mg/l/day would solve any NO3 deficiency issues. So than I would dose 10 mg/l after a waterchange straight away and every day 4 mg/l. this is 38 mg/l every day. But what if, for any reason at all, my uptake rate will go to 2 mg/l/day. than there is a leftover No3 level of 24 mg/l/week (not really taking the 10 mg/l after the waterchange in account). This would lead to a maximum level of 2*24=48 mg/l. So taken togeter: could a level of 50 mg/l NO3 (or any level that is above the 30 mg/l) cause problems in the tank? And what are the symptoms?

    greets,

    yme
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    I've run NO3 at 75-125 ppm, I lost shrimp in the upper ranges after 3 days.

    Unlike other folks, that give lots of "excess" and other non specific data for advice, this is a concreate number.

    50-75ppm never caused any issues with fish, even the sensitive wimpy ones. This is dosed from KNO3. Now if you are overloading a planted tanks, have poor growing plants, no CO2 etc, then the build up is likely coming from organic sources of N, NH4 etc and that is bad for the tank/fish and is good for algae.

    Dead shrimp seem to be the best symtom I've noted for high NO3's.


    4ppm per day is only what the level in the water is doing. It does not say it's plant uptake entirely. It might imply that, but it's likely not the case, plants often take up and store much more than they need.

    But that's fine also, I like a fast happy plant.
    Buit you can run things lean also, but the leaner folks get, the closer they get the edge of stunting their plants.

    Meanwhile, the upper ranges are quitre high, no edge to speak of really, but at very extreme rates, 80-100ppm or above, this gets pretty bad for fish and inverts.

    4ppm x 6 days= 24ppm and adding 10ppm at the start would give a total of 34ppm a week.

    If you had no uptake and did 50% weekly changes with tap that has no NO3, then the max build up would be 2x the weekly: 68ppm.

    If you worry about the upper ranges, do 75% weekly changes, this would max the level at the upper range at around 45ppm or so.

    If you do more frequent or larger water changes, you will go closer to the total added per week.

    You can chose what ever routine and water change % you want, as you get farther away from larger changes, the trade off is that you sacifrice the upper/lower ranges and have less control.

    Some folks hit it and get lucky, most do not.
    So good consistent advice is tough if you meet someone that got/gets lucky.

    I've gotten lucky a fair amount, but a good eye and lot of experience can do that, does not mean their advice makes sense nor will work for you.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    thanks tom!

    this is great advice. you made me confident that even these high levels do no cause issues. And since I have quite a few shrimps in the tank, I can monitor them. Great bioindicators!

    maybe larger waterchanges is an option. I have to look whether my old RO machine can handle it. (10 liters takes 8 hours...) and I will have to find a bigger bucket for storage of the water.

    greets,

    yme
     
  15. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    hi tom!

    I deed an 80 liter waterchange, cleaned my filter and vacuumed the gravel. underneath the blyxa field it was indeed dirty as was the filter. So I hope that this, together with good KNO3 dosing, will free me of the BGA. So far, I haven´t seen it!

    The health in my tank is getting better *being optimistic*
    I got a few old stems of blyxa spec vietnam and yesterday I saw for the first time new growth. I also got a few emers stems of hygrophila balsamica and so far I am the only one (out of four) that submers growth. Also the elatine tiandra and potamogeton species are doing fine.

    but..... (since I am posting a reply anyway)
    The tonina fluviatilis is still melting. A couple of leaves under the growing tip, at the tip of a leaf turns brown. this browning spreads togwards the stem and spreads into other leaves, mostly towards the growing tip. So now there are some stems that have a grwowing tip that is brown in the middle, but the very outer parts are still green. but of course, tomorrow the outer parts are brown as well and subsequently decay. Does this pattern sound familiar?

    I have only a couple of stems left. so action has to be taken in order not to loose it!
    The only thing that I can think of is a high KH, GH (like you implied in a previous post). If I give you info about my tap water could you please tell me whether I hould use more osmosis water?

    I get my water from two stations:
    station 1: KH minimum 132 ppm, KH average: 160, KH maximum: 188 pm. GH 8.4 (pretty consistant). Mg: 9-11 ppm
    station 2: KH minmum: 174 ppm, KH average: 183 ppm, KH maximum: 197 ppm. GH 8.4 (pretty consistant). Mg: 6 ppm (consistant)

    I dilute the tapwater 50-50 with RO water. and I add 4 mg/l Ca and 3 mg/l Mg after a waterchange to avoid Ca/Mg deficiencies.

    My testkits measure: KH: 4, GH:7. Oke, I know they are not accurate. And I know that you can grow tonina fluviatilis in KH3, GH 5.

    Together: Is my KH, Ca, Mg too high? should I increase the percentage of RO water per waterchange? Or does this possibly induces Mg/Ca related deficiencies in other plants that are now growing fine? Or is the melting of the tonina not KH/GH related at all?

    thanks!

    yme
     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    KH seems too high, but substrates can help with Tonia.
    It may have some textural or NH4 preference.

    I've done well with it in Flourite and soft tap water. You do not have to have ADA substrates, but they do help with a few species.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  17. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    hi tom,

    I will change my water exchange regime: 50 liters of RO water and 30 liters of tapwater. this mix would give me a KH between the 2.2-3.3, with an average of 2.7-3.1. I will add Ca to get a level of at least 20 mg/l and Mg to a level of 5 mg/l.

    greets,

    yme

    ps: I just measured my conductivity. it was 700. it used to be around the 400. the increase is likely due to the increased dosing of flourish, flourish iron, kno3, po4. do tonina dislike this (high) conductivity?
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    I do not think conductivity really tells you much.
    Nor have I ever noted any real preference plant wise.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  19. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    hi Tom,

    That is very interesting, the statement about the conductivity. The NBAT even mentions on her website that for a normal community tank the conductivity should not be above 500. So if you say that the conductivity is of very minor importance even for the soft water species, I must say I learned again!!

    And sorry for bothering you again, but I have again a question. (If I annoy you, you should say so, I can imagine that I post to much questions)

    I am noticing that the new leaves of my proserpinaca palustris are coloured more red than 2 weeks ago when I did the lare waterexchange and added 20 mg/l NO3 back. The leaves are not as red as my previous picture of the new leaves (about the small new leaves), but they are significantly redder than before. I can not tell you whether the new growth has smaller leaves. Therefore it is too early. But since you were able to tell from a picture that a was low in NO3 (because of the small, red leaves) I was wondering whether you could tell me if a run again low in NO3. (and BGA again...).

    As I might know I now add 4 mg/l NO3 and 10 mg/l after a waterchange. I estimate that my PO4 uptake is around 0.6-0.8 mg/l per y. So if you multiply 0.8 times 4 (from the ratio of the e.i.) you get 3.2 mg/l NO3. And I add 4 mg/l NO3 per day. So theoretically I couldn´t run low in NO3. But as you say again and again: plants don´t lie! So what would be the wise thing to do???

    Thanks again!

    yme
     
  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: BGA again :-(

    What do you think K2SO4, KNO3, KH2PO4 are?
    Salts. Measure the conductivity before and after.
    While their advice is good in general terms, like conductivity it's just not that specific, several folks had considered using Conductivity to determine when to do a water change due to nutrient build ups.
    But it does not tell you which nutrients and does not take into account things in the substrate, plants influences on Conductivity.

    That is typical.


    Color alone was not the determining factor there, I know what the other issues where prior, the photo had some color issues also.
    The color and the combined info suggested low NO3.

    Many plants possess excellent red color when you take care of the traces/PO4/NO3/GH etc well over time.

    You do not need the low NO3 to do so.


    I think 4ppm a day is enough, just add enough back thereafter. That should rule out the low NO3 and then I'd address the other issues, organic build up in the gravel, filter, dead leaves.

    After you stay on top of things for a few weeks, the tank should clean up well and look very good.

    Don't worry about asking questions, that's what this is for.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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