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Green dust algae and herbivores

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by Tom Barr, Feb 25, 2006.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I've recently been able to induce Green dust for more than a week or two.

    I did this by using newly redone tanks without some small little critters and by removing some killi fish that appear to be eating the critters.

    These are small aquatic herbivorous insects or perhaps the herbivores are smaller and these are eating the actual herbivores, I have not identified the insects or the possible microscopic insects.

    But......after leaving the GDA alone for about a week, the population appeared to grow rapidly, then the green dust went away and is only in high current locations.

    There are cherry shrimp in the tank and they appear not to eat the insects.

    I wondered why I never had GD for long, I've tried to induce it many times.

    When we wipe off the GD algae, it'll swim around and attach again. we keep repeating this cycle, it'll never go away easily.

    But........if we just let nature take it's course, and let the GD go to the sexual spore stage and die off or be eaten by these critters, then it'll go away on it's own and not return.

    By continuing to disturb the algae and the cleaning the glass, we perpetuate the the problem actually.

    I've noticed this same pattern after leaving it alone for week or two back in 2000 and here recently.

    I thought it was the shrimp maybe, some nutrient, maybe higher plant biomass etc, but just allowing it some time and in 2 weeks of good growth, decent plant biomass, some shrimp, it's gone away on it's own.

    I think GD is a very poor competitor.
    So it will colonice glass very fast and recolonize.

    But you'll notice since we keep glass clean by cleaning frequently, we also provide a good place for the GD to grow without competitors.

    After the GD dies back for 2-5 days, then you go in and scrub off the harder algae, then the GD does not return and you have low glass algae issues from then on.

    The GD seems to need to go through this cycle and once done, should not bother you again.

    Weeds will populate a newly tilled disturbed soil, but as time passes, these early succession weeds will die off and be outcompeted by more combative species or by herbivores, I believe this is true for the GD algae as well.

    GDA will do well, as many early succession weeds do, with good non limiting nutrients and high light.

    But as light decreases, so does GDA, likewise, as competitors move in, the GDa dies back also. As herbivore populations increase it appears that the GDA also backs off.

    If you scrub GDA off, you'll notice where it resettles again.
    Generally the lower flow areas and high light.

    If you allow the GDA to stay awhile, allow the herbivores and other algae grow on the glass, the GDA will go away in the low flow areas and only a small amount will be left in the high flow areas(the flow blast the other herbivores away, but some algae can live there, eg green spot algae.

    I do not have the whole process of other possible processes figured out, but I have enough information and observations to make some testable approaches. It'll take time, but GDA will go down like all the algae before it.

    This ecological approach rather than herbicide/algicide approach is much better at solving the issues and understanding their causes.

    By understanding the ecology and dymanics there, we can be much better at dealing with the control with or without the algicides approach also.
    When dealing with weeds, simply killing a weed and then allowing the seeds to live will not be smart..........it's much more intregative that this and interwoven.

    This packs a one two punch but the natural method should be used first, seems to work where algicides fail and it also addresses the plant health better.

    All algicides affect plant growth to some degree, just like all herbicides will affact and lower crop yields also, the trade off makes it worth while for the crops though.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    BTW, the reason I suggested the herbivores : there are many small herbivores crawling all over the tank where the algae is not now.
    The only spots where GDA is present is under high current. Normally, that is the harshest place for GDA to grow due to high ciurrent, but it's also the best place to get away fro the herbivores also as well as good place since some algae is dislodged providing new, but safe substrate to grow on.

    Wiping the glass clean might remove some of the slower growing more competitive algae and hurt the herbivore matrix, not allowing it to fully establish.

    We know it's not nutrients because we have good nutrient levels, the same even, in tank with and without the algae. You can slow it down some with the nutrients/less light/less CO2............but not kill it off. There are other factors that appear to do that.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. colonel

    colonel Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    Intresting stuff Tom, thanks for sharing your finding with us! :) I never had GDA in the past, until recently when I swiched to higher lighting and had trouble with plant growth. Then it was like BAM! green glass all the time, I tried to wipe and scrub, and water change it away but that only worked to slow it and by the end of the week it was always back.
    Since swiching to the mist method for the past few days there hasnt been any sign of it coming back yet, though Im sure chances are better than not that it will, when it does I will let it go, and run through its life process and see if I have the same good results letting it sort of fight its self, and weaken before cleaning and waterchanging it away.
    Thanks for all the research, I know it is very helpful to me in my tank keeping expierences :)
    Matt
     
  4. jrneuzil

    jrneuzil Expired Subscriber

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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    Ok, Let me see if I got the right. Been fighting the green dust for a few weeks now.
    So I should just let it be, let it grow and after it dies off then clean the glass and such. What about the dust that grows on some slow growing leaves. Will the plants be ok and the dust slowly disppear from them ?

    Thanks.

    JR
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    Yes, just let it be for a couple of weeks, I know, I know, hard to resist.
    Crank the CO2.

    The other approach, turn off the CO2 and the light for 2 days. Then still leave it alone, then wait 3-4 days and see it it grows more..


    If not, then clean it off.
    If so, leave it alone for a little while.

    I need to figure out if these herbivores are the reason, the CO2(probably not unless it's a mild issue).

    I had so much GDA that my surface was green and bubbly.
    I might try not adding CO2 for a couple of days also, that seemed to work well also.

    I clean my tank once and quickly vacuumed the water out, then durmped it in the toilet. I waited 5 minutes to flush and the after flushing, the bowl was green from the little suckers attaching to the bowl!

    I know I'm not too far off from figuring this alga out.
    Still a ways to go. But I have induced it and I have cleared it in several tanks now.
    It's just a matter of time now.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. Roman

    Roman Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    I believe you many things Tom, but this. I don't know.

    If I leave my GD alone it will cover glass and then plants and everything goes good-by...
    In 2 weeks it gets so thick on the glass I can't see anything inside tank. And it doesn't seem to be dying. I was desperate in the past, left small 50l tank to go his way, but didn't help.

    Now it's empty again. I will restart it for the third time in 6 months. Just when I was thinking I'm in control, everything went to hell. Just like that...

    I will go with less light this time, even if I think that this is not the main problem, but it will slow things down. Less work for me :)

    I suspect my south east window may be problem. There is a lot of light coming in early in the morning directly on the front glass when lights on tank are still off.

    But then again, maybe I have some mutated GD from hell, that's always the option...
     
  7. tnnlynch

    tnnlynch Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    My GD is at a current low level for the history of my 1 year old tank. Better CO2? Maybe. Definetly better plant mass. I still have some stubborn BBA and some green spot algea in small areas as well. Blackouts have helped reduce the other flareups I have had but have never removed completely the GD.

    When I ignore it for two weeks it recolonizes rather quickly. So, while I await your the completion of your full testing, I find the thought of letting GD go unchecked to get rid of it is counter to my experiences.

    Thanks
    Tom
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    Well, a window is a great source for GD, there's a definite relationship there.
    I have tanks that get hit every afternoon and have for a long time. Two tanks have GDA, but some cured themselves so to speak.

    I'm still not clear why the other tanks have the GDA still other than the Killifish picking off every critter in the tank(the tanks that are "cured"=> no killi fish). Plant biomass is very high in both tanks. Same size, lighting etc.
    Not much difference.

    The GDA is far from over, but I have a few ideas to work with now I've manged to grow the alga in multipe tanks finally.

    CO2 seems to be a big issue with GDA also, turning the CO2 off for a day or two after you clean a tank might help. I did that and it appeared to work.
    I'm a long way from being sure about this, but I always start off this way and go from there as I rule out one by one. At least I can grow it finally.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    I know your feelings about leaving it alone.
    That is typically counter to what I know as well, that's why the two tanks surprised me.

    Critters, or a good scrub + water change, then no nutrients for 1-2 days might be another way. If I let the CO2 taper off, I seem to get a re emergence, but if I turn the CO2 off entirely after a scrub, then it has not come back.

    I need to do this a few more times and it will not hurt to try these methods as I go through them either. the worst will be you are back where you where anyhow, the best: you figure out a way to beat it and then share it with everyone that is suffering.

    I know chemical means are not required.
    I tend to try those only if everything else has not worked and I have not seem evidence that it'll be useful here or would come to that point.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. jrneuzil

    jrneuzil Expired Subscriber

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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    Ok Tommy boy, I am at the end of Week one without cleaning the glass or doing anything to the dust algae. Today was water change day and I sure was tempted, but I decided to follow you lead and let it go. The Glass in nicely covered but does not seem any worse that it did two days ago. I am a little nervous about leaving it go, but i will.

    JR"
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    Let it go another few days.
    Turn light off for a day and then clean good + large water change and do not add any ferts for 1-2 days.

    See what that does.

    GD does not harm plants, like GW, so you can afford to play around with it and see what affects it. Gw was a nice model since it alos had that quality but I also found out how to induce it easily. I am not yet there with GDA, I do not know why it appears and disappears yet.

    I know how to get rid of it generally for myself.........but it needs to be consistent to be useful to everyone.

    I'm down to only one tank that has any left:(

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. jrneuzil

    jrneuzil Expired Subscriber

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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    Ok then, I will go with no lights on Wednesday and do a good cleaning on Thursday morning. I will stop adding ferts on Thursday and resume ferts Saturday.
    Sound ok?

    JR
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    Yes, see what happens.

    I'm not certain it'll work, the next step would be turning off the CO2 for 1-2 days. You do not want to do that for more than 1-2 days ever though unless if combined with a blackout.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. Roman

    Roman Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    But when covers leaves, that can't be good for plant either. It's not like it goes on plants in every case, it usually hangs on glass, but when things are really bad it goes to plants as well.

    You can't keep it alive? I can for any period of time :D , actually I can't kill it at all. I can control it to some extent, but that's all.
     
  15. reiverix

    reiverix Lifetime Members
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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    I got GD in my 55g with flourite and 4 x 40w NO T-12 in shoplights. I got GD in the same tank when using 54 x 4 HO T-5 tek lighting (very high light). I broke the tank down, boiled the flourite, scrubbed the glass with household cleaning sprays, let it air dry for about a week, rinsed the glass down, filled it with untreated tap and ran the filter for several days. Then I drained the tank and refilled with treated tap, added new plants, dropped the lighting down to 2 x 40w of NO t-12 in a shoplight. The GD still came back. Pressurized Co2 was a constant in both setups, so was EI dosing and 50-60% weekly water changes.

    So the 55 with flourite always gets GD, no matter what lighting, high or low.

    Now, I run a 1.3g with 13w PC light, a 2.5g with 26w PC light, a 10g with 65w PC light. All these tanks are dosed Excel x 2 daily. The 1.3 and 2.5 get EI at 50% and the 10 gets EI at 100%. All get weekly water changes. The 10 is also pressurized Co2. None of these tanks ever had big GD problems even though the lighting is higher. So what's the difference between these three and the 55g? The 55 has flourite, the other three have aquasoil. Even when the 10 was running pressurized but no excel it still wasn't getting GD.

    I practically never have to clean the glass on the 1.3 and 2.5. The 10g is still settling in so I occassionally clean the glass but there's hardly anything on it at all, I would probably need to clean the glass once every 4-6 weeks.

    The glass on the 55 has always needed a good cleaning 2-3 times a week.

    the 55 has always had an Eheim 2026. The 1.3 has been both HOB filtered with one scape and is currently not filtered or circulated with the new scape. The 2.5 has always been filtered with HOB. The 10g has been non-filtered, powerhead circulated and is currently HOB filtered and powerhead circulated. So the 55 has always had the best quality filtration and circulation.

    Can anyone explain why the 55 always gets GD if it isn't the flourite. And NO, I cannot swap the substrate in one of my other tanks for Flourite to test my assumption :)

    I did the weekly cleaning and water change on the 55 last night but I did not touch the glass, so it's currently running with 1 week's worth of GD. I'll let the GD stay and see what happens.
     
  16. wapfish

    wapfish Prolific Poster

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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    Certainly can't explain it for you, but there must be many others, like myself, who have high llght/CO2 Flourite tanks with only minimal GD problems. It is true that since I've gone to considerable length recently to clean up detritus and water flow and overall water quality in the tank, the modest GD I used to have is now quite minimal (barely one cleaning a week). My water is hard KH(7-8)/GH15-16 FWIW.
     
  17. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    Well, my last tank is dying off just as I'd predicted if I left it alone.

    There's some hardned green dust, it's sort of different, not so soft, has muscilage, spotty pattern.

    This seems to be the end of the cycle for the vegetative growth.

    If I attacked the GDA and cleaned and wiped it off, then it would and did get worse. GDA will also form a nasty green film slime on the water's surface when really juicy.

    This neglect method took about 2 weeks total.

    Some things that might help:

    Turn CO2 off for 1-2 days, maybe lights also.
    Do not do water changes etc
    Do not scrub it off
    If you do a water change, don't add nutrients back, (traces are okay).

    Wait 2-3 days, then add them.

    The no CO2, the no ferts etc are done only for a 1-2 day peroid really, plants are fine for that long and no algae will come along.

    Substrates:
    I've seen this same thing occur with Flourite.
    I thought it might be the Amano shrimp I added and I got tried of scrubbing the tank. Looks like it was just letting the algae go.

    Every single tank I've had has done this same process with GDA.
    Same pattern and control results.

    This is 7 tanks that all did the same thing.
    2-3 times might be luck.

    I'm still unsure of it.

    ADA substrate is what I now use, but this patterned occured back in 2002 when I was doing this with GDA in hard water also.

    My tank water is RO/Tap mix to KH=2.

    I tend to doubt that hardness plays much role, nor substrate.
    I still don't quite know what triggers a bloom.

    That is the key for me.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  18. jrneuzil

    jrneuzil Expired Subscriber

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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    Tom,

    Update. Two days ago in my last post it appeared the dust had stopped growing so we were going to shut down the light on Wednesday and clean up on Thursday. Last evening I observed that the Dust Algae was growing again and appeared to be even sprouting very short extenitions like things.
    That being the case sould I proceed witht the lights out plan for Wednesday and Thursday or should I let it go longer still before I do that.

    Thanks for all your help.

    JR
     
  19. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    Well, there is a defintiely turning point for this alga.

    That much is clear to me after doing this 7-8 times now.
    It has nothing to do with me scrubbing either.

    Perhaps a mild case can be scrubbed off and harassed to death.

    But when the alga begins to form patchy thicken films, and only very light films eslewhere, that's when it's completed it's cycle and is the time to attack.

    At this stage, the alga will not swim and reattach to the glass and you can remove it all.

    This seems to take a week or two, I also tried added some floating cuttings to block the light. This also seemed to help a little.

    But even under full 6w/gal lighting, the alga went through all the stages and only formed something like a soft green spot alga type of film.

    By attacking this alga, we never allow it to go all the way to the less resistant (to control) life stages.

    Once it does, then we can go in and do a nice water change, scrub etc and then no longer have it come back.

    This is the pattern I've seen 7-8 times now.

    I've thought it might be simply getting the plants/roots growing good and getting the tank's growth rate up.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  20. handimn1

    handimn1 Junior Poster

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    Re: Green dust algae and herbivores

    I was told to take black garbage bags and cover aquarium for 4 days with the lights turned off and no light getting into it!
     
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