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Can someone help me id this 'stuff' on my plants?

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by quatermass, Apr 7, 2007.

  1. quatermass

    quatermass Prolific Poster

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    I've been getting this odd brown muck on my 9 month old tank.
    It is covering virtually all the surfaces and falls off the plants when I
    touch it. It feels slimy.

    Is it nitrifying bacteria or diatoms?

    See pictures please.

    http://mytriops.com/temp/whatisit.jpg
    http://mytriops.com/temp/whatisit2.jpg

    Tank is pretty loaded with fish unfortunately.

    I had a ramshorn explosion and I took someone's advice and added snail
    killer chemicals...duh....
    So of course I got an ammonia spike due to the dead snails.
    The ph of the tank is 6.4 @ 22C so not too lethal and I'm doing water
    changes. But this damn stuff keeps coming back.
     
  2. Frolicsome_Flora

    Frolicsome_Flora Guru Class Expert

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    I would have said it was diatoms, mixed in with bits of detritis that have stuck to it.. sure is alot though.
     
  3. quatermass

    quatermass Prolific Poster

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    Thank you for that.

    I did a 200% water change yesterday with me rubbing the stuff off the leaves. It's all back 24hours later covering everything.

    All the leaves closer to the light definitely have more of this stuff on them.

    My Corys in the tank are courting like crazy...

    I'm at a loss at what to do about the diatoms.
     
  4. Bartman

    Bartman Prolific Poster

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    Does it wipe off easily? I've got a 10g with lots of tiny snails in it. I find I get lots of brown fluffy mulm that settles out on everything without a strong current across it.

    It seems like it shows up overnight (when snails can be active) so I'm pretty sure it's due to the snails because I don't see it in any other tanks.

    Doesn't really bother me much unless I fall behind in my water changes.

    If it wipes off realtively easy but feels a little greasy then diatoms are a logical assumption.

    For diatoms I've found that a few ottos will take care of it quickly. It seems to be their favorite food.
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Try and fluff it off as best you can, doing water changes to get rid of it and addinf a bit more CO2 will help.

    F F- got it right.

    You can try a 2 day blackout + Excel + Water changes each day(no CO2 during this time).

    Add more filtration perhaps also, prune some biomass back, clean well aftrer you do any large changes in the tank(water changes, filters etc)

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. quatermass

    quatermass Prolific Poster

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    Bartman - Yes it wipes off very easily. I can't put in otos as the tank is already at maximum capacity. Ok if its diatoms then I can get to grips with it.

    Tom - Thanks Tom, I've ordered some Excel and I'll give your advice a try.
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Frolicsome_Flora got it right.
    Good news, it's easy to get rid etc, bad news, you have some cleaning and perhaps adding a filter in there as well.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. quatermass

    quatermass Prolific Poster

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    I'd thought I'd follow up with my experience.

    I did a large 100% water change, switched off the lights and covered the tank with some large sheets of black cardboard (I knew they would come in handy one day!) and added a old 2nd internal filter I had lying around.

    I added Stability every day and 2x dosage of Excel on the 2nd day and left it for 3 days.

    After the 3rd day I removed the sheets and switched the lights back on.
    The tank looked ok. I did a large water change and removed any damaged or algae touched leaves. I fed the fish.

    On the 4th day we had our 1st sunny day of the year. The temperature in the tank rose from its more usual 22-24C to 27C. I put on a large fan next to the tank to try to reduce the temp.

    But I got up on the next morning to find 6 dead fish. 4 corys were dead and 2 zebra loaches. I also found one of my Dwarf African Frogs had escaped and died all dried up.

    I did water tests.
    Ammonia 0
    Nitrite 2ppm
    Nitrate 5ppm
    ph 6.4 (usual)
    GH < 3dh
    KH very low 3d or lower

    My clown pleco and golden bristlenose were still alive.
    The white cloud mountain minnows and glowlight tetras were almost unaffected. Just sitting low in the tank that day.

    I added a dosage of Prime to get rid of the toxic nitrite. But it was only 2ppm and the tank was aerated throughout and the surface did have some water movement due to the filter.

    I did the tests using Tetratest sticks and a API freshwater master test kit.

    No diatoms.. But at quite a cost.... I really liked my zebra loaches...

    Yesterday I tried to feed the 2 last corys and zebra loach and they're just not in the mood. probably all stressed out.

    This morning their behaviour is looking a bit more normal.

    I guess I'll never know why the fish died on mass. ph shift perhaps or something toxic from the old inserted filter?
     
  9. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    What is "Stability"? I always suspect it is something I added when I see a problem, so I rarely add anything except fertilizer and CO2.
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Excel:
    1x is enough/plenty, no need for 2x, which killed the fish.
    50-80% would have been fine for a WC.
    Not 100%.

    I think some folks got a bit crazed with Excel and in their impatience, suggested to folks with BBA or Hair algae to bomb the plants at the sake of the fish's health.

    Excel will kill your fish and I think that's more than likely when combined with the 100% daily water changes, the temp might have helped, but was not the entire story.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. quatermass

    quatermass Prolific Poster

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    Nitrifying Bacteria in a bottle by Seachem.
    One of the few that actually works.... :D

    Stability
     
  12. quatermass

    quatermass Prolific Poster

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    Hmm that very startling Tom.
    I used to use 2x dosages in my 250L and it never caused mass death.

    I used 10ml in a 60L. Is that too much? I thought the instructions said 5ml for every 40L.



    :eek:
    oh god, I see what's gone wrong.
    It says 5ml per 40L for the 1st dosage and thereafter 5ml per 250L!
    :eek:

    Well that's me throughly depressed... :(

    Thanks Tom for putting me right.
     
  13. essabee

    essabee Prolific Poster

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    Just a couple of questions.
    1. Water Changes during black out?
    2, Excel during blackout for what purpose/can it be left out?
     
  14. fishcop444

    fishcop444 Junior Poster

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    why the extreme water changes? Why not 30% max? If you change all the water you are asking for the tank to cycle again, which means ammonia and nitrite spikes which can easily kill fish ... algae may be unsightly, but it won't kill fish. Also try getting a UV light-filter if you want clean water and have algae blooms often.
     
  15. Frolicsome_Flora

    Frolicsome_Flora Guru Class Expert

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    unfortunately fishcop, youve misunderstood the nitrification cycle. when you cycle a tank, you dont cycle the water, you cycle the biological filter and the bacteria contained therein.

    making water changes wont effect the biological culture in any way, and if anything, would remove NH4 and NO2.

    The reason we use large water changes when were following EI, is to reset the water column of nutrients. Feasibly, we could do a water change of any amount of water in the tank and it wont harm anything at all (so long as you get the temperature right and treat the water).
     
  16. quatermass

    quatermass Prolific Poster

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    Opps fishcop, me thinks you need to read up on bacteria.

    Bacteria grows on surfaces not water.
    So I've not reduced the nitrifying bacteria colony.

    This algae/diatom seems to cloud the water over time as the tiny particles float in the water at the slightest disturbance. So large water changes are a must to try to remove as much as possible.

    My tank still has this after doing 3 blackouts. But at least its not as bad as it was. If I do a water change weekly then I can hit the diatom colony for 6!

    I've only got a 9 hour light cycle atm and I've thought about adding Dwarf Otos but this would just increase my bioload which I'd rather not do.

    I'm adding daily 2ml of Excel. But its not affecting the diatoms. Not that I thought it would.
     
  17. Frolicsome_Flora

    Frolicsome_Flora Guru Class Expert

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    my Otos love eating the brown stuffage :) i think theyre the greatest fish in the world! so much fun to watch :) also my shrimps can devastate a diatom outbreak pretty well. but this is all treating the symptoms not the cause.

    Do you use a sand substate Quatermass? Ive heard that in the early days (not sure how old your tank is) that sand and even glass can leech silicates into the water column, thus triggering a diatom outbreak. Im not sure how true this is though, Tom any thoughts on this? I seem to see this theory quite a bit.

    Flora
     
  18. quatermass

    quatermass Prolific Poster

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    No, no sand. Its a Walstad style tank. The tank is a Interpet Aq3, that is to say it is U shaped front so the only sealant is on the top, bottom and back.

    Shame there is no Silicate test!

    Yes, I've often heard that diatom outbreaks are due to silicates in sealant or sand. No real proof though.
     
  19. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    1.Yes
    2. Yes

    Blackout stops algae growth
    Excel kills the algae mildly when used as per the label.

    It is never been rated to use much beyond the labeled dose.
    You can use 5mls per 10 gal after each water change.

    Large % water changes are great, this is not and never was an issue of nitrogen cycling, that's why we have plants..............

    Plants remove NH4 directly.
    Removing organic waste, and a source of organic N via large water changes, helps. A clean tank is a happy tank.

    If anyone wants to grow bacteria, simply taking a bucket and running the filter with a few liters of water in there, add some NH3 etc and wait a few days.

    A better method is simply add zeolite and wait. By the time the Zeolite is spent(it may be recharged with a NaCl solution- Na+ replaces the NH4+ at the binding sites), the bacteria is well colonized (zeolite last about 1 month).

    We/you/no one is exclusively dependent on the bacteria in a tank with plants.
    The plants do that job very well.

    I'd say add the otto's, they are few good at eating diatoms.

    I see the theory of silicates, but in FW, limiting Si is rather tough.
    I've not seen any proof that the situation is due to high Si though.

    I know plenty of tap waters that are loaded with Si in other words, and have not had a single diatom for a decade.


    So is it the high Si or something else that's causing this?
    I think that theory is wrought with observational omissions, both in marine and certainly within FW.

    It's like high PO4 = algae in FW planted tanks, where the heck is my algae then?

    Makes no sense.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  20. Frolicsome_Flora

    Frolicsome_Flora Guru Class Expert

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    Tom you mean water changes before and after blackout dont you? not during.. or it wouldnt be a blackout.

    blackout worked really well for me :) amazingly effective
     
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