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hair algae problem brewing..

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by mikem120, Oct 1, 2009.

  1. mikem120

    mikem120 Junior Poster

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    i think i have a hair algae problem starting in my tank, but i'm not really sure. Most of my plants have this long thin light green almost grey stringy stuff hanging off of their leaves just blowing in the current. some of the stuff is short while some is almost 2 or 3 inches long. i don't know whats causing it much less how to get rid of it. I recently decreased my light time from 10 hrs a day to 8 hrs a day when i noticed the hair and green spot algae starting to grow. I have 4-54 watt t5ho lights over a 75 gallon for a total of 2.88 wpg. i run two bulbs from 3pm-4pm then the other two kick on and all four bulbs are lit from 4pm-10pm then only two bulbs from 10pm-11pm. co2 (5 bps) comes on at 2pm till 10pm. lights and co2 are on a timer. i dose KH2PO4 with KNO3 on Mon. Wed. Fri. (60ML total each day) i dose PMDD Tues. Thurs. Sat. (2X 1/4 tsp each day). 25 to 50% water changes on Fri...dose nothing on sunday. I have 80 pounds of eco-complete substrate, one marineland c-360 canister filter and attached to that is a 45 watt uv sterilizer. i have no heater and the tank stays constant at 80F. i only have one power head inside of the tank, but water circulation seems to be pretty good. the tank itself has been setup for 6 months, but was just water and the substrate and the driftwood for the first 5 months..just within the past month did i add plants and fish. im pretty sure i over stocked it too fast and overloaded the system, which is probably a big cause..I am not sure if I am dosing enough though..what do you think?
     
  2. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    First I'll get the mandatory question out of the way:
    How have you determined that your CO2 levels are high enough?

    Your lighting could stand being cut back on its peak a couple of hours.

    Your fertilizers seem... excessive. I'm not sure if you mean 30ml each or 60ml each 3x a week, but even if the tank is empty that's a minimum of around 200-250ppm each of N, P and K. Or are you dosing some sort of liquid mix?

    If you haven't cleaned your canister in the past month, doing so will help things a little.

    -Philosophos
     
  3. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    I recently had an outbreak of green filamentous algae. It was actually kind of pretty, waving in the current, but I knew what it would turn into, so I manually removed it over a period of several days.

    It hasn't returned, yet, but I know that it's lurking there, just waiting. Constant vigilance is the price of an algae free aquarium.

    BTW, my CO2 levels mirror that of the atmosphere and the filter is a small HOB that is there just for circulation.

    Bill
     
  4. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Is that the stuff we cumulatively spent hours trying to ID a while back before Tom piped in with the answer?

    And by CO2 mimicking the atmosphere, do you mean what standing/slow moving water has naturally, or about 400ppm of compressed CO2?

    -Philosophos
     
  5. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    I think so. This was probably spirogyra. Someone posted a picture years ago on APD of an aquarium completely taken over by it, long strands waving in the current. There were no plants. It looked eerie!

    The atmosphere contains 3 PPM, more or less. That's what's in that aquarium, plus a very little from the soil substrate.

    Bill
     
  6. mikem120

    mikem120 Junior Poster

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    First I'll get the mandatory question out of the way:
    How have you determined that your CO2 levels are high enough?

    Your lighting could stand being cut back on its peak a couple of hours.

    Your fertilizers seem... excessive. I'm not sure if you mean 30ml each or 60ml each 3x a week, but even if the tank is empty that's a minimum of around 200-250ppm each of N, P and K. Or are you dosing some sort of liquid mix?

    If you haven't cleaned your canister in the past month, doing so will help things a little.

    -Philosophos


    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I have a co2 drop checker in the tank that's filled with 4 dkh solution and it stays lime green. I'll try to explain what i was talking about for my ferts..i can't find the website i found it on but its basically 500 ml of water mixed together with 7.5 tsp kno3 and 1 tsp of kh2po4. i drop in 60 m/l of that solution every other day and i just scoop out the PMDD with a measuring spoon every other day. i clean the filter during every other water change using the old tank water. my Nitrites and nitrates are nearly zero and my ph is between 7.2 and 7.8.
     
  7. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Chuck Gadd's Dosing Calculator

    The nitrate your adding to your 75 gallon tank is, 0.18ppm per mL x 60mL as well as 0.03 ppm Phosphate x 60mL every other day, looks ok if your plants are heavy feeders and the CO2 is right. There is a nice description of hair algae that suggests iron is the culprit at this site; Guitarfish.org More likely, as Tom says, it is the CO2 levels are to low.
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    A few bad things here. The solution seems fine.
    Test kits and reliance on them is problematic.

    Drop checkers are rough guides at best, the pH, unless you have very high KH in the tank water seems really really high. Unless you run a KH of 15-20, you do not have enough CO2.

    This is a CO2 issue.

    I think you need to calibrate the NO3 test before you make ANY conclusion about the ppm of NO3 you have in the aquarium. No chart is going to help you escape that.

    See how to make a reference solution from LeftC here(search).

    Do that, then go back and measure the NO3 2-3x over a week, then see what the NO3 is(or is not).

    Adjust accordingly up to about 10-15ppm NO3 using the stock solution.
    PMDD or CMS+B you add via teaspoons? You can make a solution of this using 1 liter of water(or you can 1/2 this amount also) and 2 table spoons of CMS+B. Use soft low KH DI/RO water if possible. Add some Excel(say 20mls) to this or 2 mls of HCL pool acid(muriatic acid).

    Get some Excel to help while you address the plant growth issue (mostly CO2) that led to the algae. Reduce the light intensity(raise the light, add some screen/shade cloth etc to about 30% less or so.

    You can also do a series of 3 day blackouts, with 2-3 days of lighting, followed with another 3 day blackout etc. After 2-3 cycles, this beats the algae down.

    This does not cure the root problem, it only weakens the algae.
    Do a large water change each time you go from to the lighting cycle and you finish the light cycle. Better in the morning as the lights come on.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr




    That will rule out most of the nutrient issue.
     
  9. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    is there now proof that excel is a "little hammer" (as you like to call things :) ) also again GREEN algae species? Or is it still only indirectly via promoting more healthy plant growth? If I have been reading some posts of you regarding green algae, you seem to advice addition of excel. Am I correct?

    greets,

    yme
     
  10. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    There's been proof ever since the words "excel" and "glutaraldehyde" have been uttered in the same sentence. Glutaraldehyde is very biocidal stuff; even at excel's low percentage, it will cause a rash from skin contact; I've had one on my hand.

    Here's a nice little paper on the subject:
    http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/pubs/fulltext/2005/20050003.pdf
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    No, it has little if any noted direct algicidal effects on green algae.
    The effect is indirect, in otherwords, it only helps plants grow.
    Poor plant growth indirectly leads to algae.


    Green algae, like most plants, can and does detoxify the the carbonyl crosslinking, likely via a monoxygenase at the cell surface.

    It does help with BBA and other species of algae but I do not suggest adding lots of it, just wait and fix the root problem, then go from there.

    Excel, Easy Carbo does this with CO2/Carbon balance in the plants, algae, green or otherwise, are not CO2 limited in aquariums ever.

    Plants very often are.
    CO2 balance for the plants is not an easy thing.

    It moved around more than any other growth parameter, light is the most stable, with nutrients being somewhat intermediate, but comprising only 1-2% total plant biomass. Carbon is 40-45%.

    CO2 is best, but if that is a management issue not yet resolved, adding Excel/Easy Carbo etc helps somewhat still.

    With respect to most green algae:

    I've focused strongly over the last few years on CO2.
    Cladophora is interesting and seems related to low CO2, particularly in the initial stages of the light cycle. So if it takes an hour or two at high light for the CO2 system to get going, and then it's not that stable, the plants still grow okay etc, but so does Caldophora.

    When the CO2 is corrected, cleaned, tank is trimmed and cleaned up, tangles of moss and other regions where Caldophora can get caught and regrow, this alga stops growing and is managable.

    GDA is interesting. I've not been able to induce via inoculation from a healthy GDA infested tank to aquariums with good reference CO2. Over time, the only way I was able to maintain the GDA culture was through higher light and less CO2 with plants present.

    In all cases(7 aquarium infestations), correcting CO2 was the key, as well as some patience. I did not try multi blackout cycling however, that shoukld weaken zoospores more than other green algae life stages(GDA is a zoospore stage that pesters us). I would predict the multi blackout + good re evaluation of all facets relating to CO2, adding Excel in the interm, will give the highets likelyhood of management.

    As there are many things I cannot see from the web, many little hammers approach works best as often one of them will work if the other's fail, however, they all really focus more on good plant health, growth rather than algae killing.

    The multiple blackout cycles (3 days of total blackout followed by 2-3 days of normal reduced intensity light, water change right after each stage as the lights come on and right before they are turned off) are designe dto weaken the algae spores and adults.

    The light in between starts them up again and causes them to sporulate(wasting more energy/resources). A few cycles later, most just go dormant rather than trying to cycle every 2-3 days back and forth. Plants however, do pretty good during this time, they do not grow as much, but they have enough to make it through.

    This methods works best on green species.

    After a few weeks of lower light(say 2-3), the light intensity can be raised and CO2 adjusted.

    Anytime more light is added, CO2/nutrients also need scaled up.

    Current,O2, the rate of degassing(sump level changes, tank water level changes affect this a lot, spill over in the prefilters etc, clogging of filter etc etc), dirty CO2 disc, reactors/filter flow reduced pushing through these.

    I wish it was so simple.

    On the web, I cannot see 90% of the issues folks might have.
    For many, it's one or two simple things, easy, they run off and are happy.
    But there are always some that have many issues and just plain bad luck. No way around it, and these are the folks we read about more on line. Rarely the successes;)

    But those successes can teach as well, and the mistakes made by others with bad luck also can teach us where we can go wrong and what other factors are at play there. So they both offer a lot of help as to getting to the root of the problem, as well as management for algae.

    We are much better able to deal with and control algae today than say 10 years ago, or much better than say 20 years ago(no hope for much back then).

    I was lucky but I started wondering why others had so much issue, so I started messing with things to test whether it was some factor/s.

    I am not worried about correcting my planted tanks, it does not take me long to fix things back to a nice state. Even if it does, I know the algae will submit to my focus on plants, trimming and many little hammers. Patience really has advantages many folks do not have.

    I also am curious and want to look at different management methods.
    Nutrients where initially a strong focus, then I moved to CO2 and then light.
    CO2 and light have the largest impact, master those, you master plants very easily.

    Trying to solve your own issues is not hard for me. However, trying to solve all the possible issues folks have on the web?
    That's a challenge!

    In person, it's not too bad.

    I recently beat the Spirogryra(prior Rhizoclonium) using a 3 day black out with a large water change prior, and then right after. But the Spirogyra started to regrow. So I decided to adjust the CO2 and did another blackout in the meantime to beat down the regrowth.

    I know I cannot just do week long blackouts without harming the plants, so the water changes/CO2 adjustment/nutrient dosing + Blackout cycles made more sense.

    After a few cycles, the algae is beaten back, and the CO2 is correctly adjusted. Lower light is used during this time ot reduce the growth rates of algae and to help manage the CO2/nutrients. So this gives more effective CO2 management as well as reduced algae growth.

    Adding all these many little hammers up together, makes a synergistic method that is specific to each type of algae and flexible enough for broad use for all aquarists.

    Still, they all still focus on providing good plant growth and balancing the light to the CO2.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    great post Tom!

    I wish everyone could gow plants/eliminate algae as well as you do :D

    greets,

    yme
     
  13. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Tom, I've got a bit of a rant on this subject. On paper, I see plant growth at our existing dose levels to be nearly worthless for the quantity of carbon. I don't see column dosing as an algaecide being that great either. High level column dosing of excel may offer both, but not one without the other. Spot treating definitely kills a few kinds of algae in my experience.

    When I spot treat BBA in my non-co2 tanks, I can watch it turn red and die within 1-24 hours which is something I do not observe otherwise. I have repeatedly done this to save a perfectly good leaf with a little BBA on the edge of it during weekly maintenance routines.

    The study I linked to indicated LC50 between .44ppm and 1.9ppm for C. subcapitata. So, lets say that .44ppm is merely a point at which C. subcapitata stops spreading. Shrimp aside, .44ppm should be survivable for many fish; Lepomis macrochirus seems to give out at 12.2ppm on the low end for LC50. Even O. mykiss can take a minimum of 2.6ppm for 4 days before its LC50 according to the EPA ecotox database. This means at high dose, it should be possible to slow and kill algae without necessarily harming the fauna.

    In reality, excel is what? 2-3% glutaraldehyde? Lets say 10% to be generous. My dosing looks like perhaps .13mg/L of excel, but we can crank that up to 1mg/l just to be excessive. This makes for .013mg/L of glutaraldehyde, which is about 60% carbon. This means we're dosing .06mg/L of carbon. Lets say dry weight, macrophytes are about 50% carbon, and dry weight entails about 10% of plant mass:

    200*.06 = 12mg

    That's 12mg of wet plant presuming 100% uptake, 780mg in a 65L column. From here I put the question to you; what do you see as a likely uptake rate? You've listed CO2 as less than 5%, even if we double this it's looking like 78mg. This is not a significant amount of growth, even with large leway.

    Now as for non spot-treated column dosing, I don't believe there's a very high chance that excel makes a whole lot of difference, being only about 2.9% of the lowest LD50's.

    Now, if we dose .44 ppm glutaraldehyde and apply the above math, we end up with:

    (200*0.44*65)/10 = 572mg

    Not so bad for plant growth, and it should be at least inhibitory to most kinds of algae.

    -Philosophos
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    You only get 2 CO2's not 5 CO2 really from the Gult.
    The other 3 are bacteria respiration and likely(at least most) lost to the air above the water.

    At high dose, the stuff kills, no doubt about it.
    Fish will be less sensitive than most inverts.

    2ppm is a good target or less.


    Many species of algae, are not susceptible to higher dosing of glut, no more than plants might be, I've burnt and toasted many plants trying this.

    Dips, baths, sprays etc.

    You also have O2 demand with Glut detoxification and respiration of the end products.

    Not a lot really, but if the plants are somewhat C limited, this is a good solution and keeps many species of algae down.

    So it's both, not just helping plants(does this also), but also kills many species of algae. Why green algae are not suppressed once established is curious.

    I suppose some acclimation by both plants and established adult algae occurs.
    Egeria does this acclimatization. I see no reason why green algae may not either.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    2ppm of glutaraldehyde? That's high... either I was wrong about my glut percentages in excel or you'd have to be dumping in entire bottles at a time.

    Would you mind clarifying? It definitely impacts how I think about the issue.

    -Philosophos
     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    This paper pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Glut.
    http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/pubs/fulltext/2005/20050003.pdf

    Another:
    ScienceDirect - Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety : Ecotoxicology of Glutaraldehyde: Review of Environmental Fate and Effects Studies

    Some others:

    http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/pubs/fulltext/2003/20030019.pdf

    In that first paper by Sano et al, 2004, there is a nice dose response toxicity curve.

    You will note that 1/2 of where that curve starts to rise is 2ppm, this is a common exposure limit for some involved in risk management.

    Some use a factor of 10x the LD50 for acute, or perhaps 1/2 for long term chronic toxicity.

    Depends on the organism and the risk factors.

    For us, looks pretty low risk, so 2 ppm might be okay.
    I go a little less personally.

    Regards,
    Tom barr
     
  17. deucebiggss

    deucebiggss Guru Class Expert

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    So I understand you guys correctly, you are putting this in your tank to control algae?
     
  18. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    The first article you linked me to is the one I've already cited in this thread (check the last page ;) ), and used as a reference in the last post I made. I've spent a lot of time reading this paper in the past; it's more helpful than most.

    The second paper is one I haven't taken a look at. A quick glance over makes me wonder why they're determing the LC50's for daphnia and california black worms when it comes to cleaning out an ocean going ship's ballast. Either way I'm not complaining; it's nice to have the information.

    Anyhow, I was mostly wondering whether you dose 2ppm of glut or excel, and if you had some other reason for dosing lower levels of glut in the case that you were referring to 2ppm of excel. Looks like you were talking about pure glut.

    Do you work from pure or 50% glut then?

    What species of algae have you found to be unresponsive at 2ppm?

    Either way, that sort of level would definitely contribute to carbon in a tank.

    And an open question to anyone out there: Does anyone know, with certainty, the perecentage of glutaraldehyde in Excel? I've seen answers ranging from 1.5-5% but no good sources for that information.

    -Philosophos
     
  19. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    No Magic

    No Excel is predominantly a plant friendly source of carbon, not as good as CO2, but it is effective.

    The same reason we always say (see Tom Barr’s post above (or for that matter 95% of his posts;) )) increase CO2 is that healthy plants will outcompete algae. If we cannot or will not stabilize our CO2 to above 25ppm, then Excel provides plant friendly carbon source.

    The active ingredient in Excel is an isomer of glutaraldehyde, which is a biocide, used to sterilize and clean equipment in such products as Cidex and MetriCide.

    Some persist in thinking that messing with glutaraldehyde is a good idea and somehow they will save US $10 a gallon. I just purchased 4 liters of Excel for US $67 including shipping. For this price I get a high quality product, in a safe form and as cheap as I am said to be, my lungs and my eyes, if I had them would be worth the extra ten bucks.:rolleyes:

    Philosophos: Be careful; if you want pure glutaraldehyde, Glutaraldehyde - : Chemicals for Light Microscopy, Histology and Electron Microscopy is a source. It doesn’t contain any of the surfactants the cleaners contain.

    Biollante
     
  20. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    It depends who's hands its in; I use it for algae control quite often. Spot treating will kill off a fair number of algae types within a tank.

    It all depends on how comfortable you are handling dangerous chemicals. Some of us have experience or training, others don't.

    Thanks, I'll look that over and compare. It's something that I've had a constant urge to do; I wouldn't mind mixing my own version of excel and selling it at a more reasonable price eventually. Safety would be my first concern though; I need to look over the handling procedures and courses required to handle it properly.

    -Philosophos
     
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