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help with BBA

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by nmullens, May 6, 2009.

  1. nmullens

    nmullens Prolific Poster

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    I have a 120 gal tank 4*2*2 with 2 XP3 filters one with a co2 reactor (DIY Rex) inline. I also have a 802 power head for circulation. I am injecting c02 at about 2bps to reactor and 5bps to a Rhinox 5000 diffuser. Both my drop checkers are almost always yellow. For lights I have a 4' 260 watt compact fluorescent and a 4' dual bulb t5ho ( all bulbs are 6400k - 6700k). I have them on a timer for 9hrs of light a day, my co2 kick's in 3hrs before my lights.

    EI schedule:
    Macro: W,F,Su,M (KNO3=1.9gr , KH2SO4=9.3gr, equilibrium(GH boost and PO4)=1tsp)
    Micro: W,Th,Sa, (Chelated Trace 1/2Tsp)
    Tuesday off day

    Parameters at the end of EI week:
    Nitrate: 20ppm (used calibration method)
    PO4: over 5ppm (used calibration method)
    PH: 6.4
    Kh/Gh: 4
    Ammonia: 0


    I realize that my PO4 is high but I totally cut out K2PO4 last week and only used equilibrium to bring it down, but it was still high at the end of this week, should I just use my Barr's GH Boost instead? It contains (one part MgSO4, three parts KSO4, three parts CaSO4)

    So now that you have my tank specs. I have been getting BBA for the last three weeks. First I just tried to up my co2 and trim leaves but it kept coming back (at this point I also had staghorn but I only see a small amount now). I kept upping co2 and trimming leaves for several week with no success. At the end of last week my hair grass was starting to get it :(. So this last weekend I started spot treating with Excel and H2O2 daily, and I am slowly upping co2 still. The spot treatments are resulting in dead algae every time but it looks like it is still slowly spreading on me.

    Any suggestion on what I can do to get rid of this devil algae would be great.
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Your GH = ~100% alk/KH? Where is your magnesium coming from? PO4 level looks a touch high, which to me says that plants aren't growing fast enough if your dosing levels are right. How's the flow around the BBA effected areas? It might be the CO2 distribution; drop checkers only measure the average CO2 in part of the aquarium that they're in.

    -Philosophos
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Try less light.

    I use 216w on a 120 Gal same size........

    It's all about CO2.

    It takes some time, but keeping good stable CO2, and picking at it is the solution.
    There's some time delay between the cause and the BBA bloom..........

    So ignore the Drop checker.......
    Watch plants and for new BBA growth.
    Add CO2 slowly and add Excel daily(5mls per 10 gal) for the next few weeks and add more CO2 slowly and watch........

    It should stop new growth if the CO2 is good, less light will help to this effect.

    It's one of those algae that teaches you about CO2 good, or...it beats you and you give up. Some get by with limiting nutrients that affect CO2 demand.......then think it's the nutrients, but that's an easy test to falsify and disprove.......

    CO2 can induce BBA however.
    Run an air stone during the day and see:)

    Folks have long had it appear, bump their CO2 back up, clean their Rhinox etc with some Tilex etc frequently, then it does much better and the BBA goes away.

    You do this a dozen times ......then you see that the CO2 is the issue.

    Less light= less CO2 demand.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  4. nmullens

    nmullens Prolific Poster

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    Philosophos:
    I only get the magnesium that is in the equilibrium so about 2% of a teaspoon on Macro day. I think I have good flow I can see micro bubbles from my diffuser bouncing all over my tank.

    Tom Barr:
    With that amount of Excel do I have to remove my shrimp? I have about 50 cherry 20 Crystal, 20 Amino , couple gold bee , 20 green, it would suck to catch them :eek: .
    I will turn off a bank of the CF lights hopefully that will help. Would you spot dose the 5ml per 10 gal of Excel?

    Thanks again for the help!
     
  5. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Find out how much magnesium is in the water supply; get a local water report, should be free. If you can't get it from there, maybe see if there's a local company that distributes bottled watter. They do it for free some times, just to make you paranoid about the evils of tap water. Some places have extremely soft water.In all honesty though, it's probably the CO2; I should've emphasized that more in my own post. I went from BBA infested to almost completely clear after 1 week of spotty over feeding and neglecting my tank, but after fixing my CO2.

    As for the excel, I've dosed 8ml in 65L of water every day at some points, and my Yamato (amano) are just fine. The other shrimp may be more sensitive.

    -Philosophos
     
  6. detlef

    detlef Subscriber

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    Tom,
    you mean running an airstone during the day sets the CO2 level back to the extent to which increased outgassing might support BBA growth?

    Best regards,
    Detlef
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    No issues with CRS's, Cherries, Amano's.
    This adds about 2ppm daily, and it's 1/2 life is 11 hours, and total amount is gone after 24 hours, toxic ranges are about 4ppm for the LD50's to start showing up for inverts.

    This is why I suggest not over dosing Excel, and just being consistent instead and letting it kill the algae slower, but less stressful to critters.

    Most are too impatient and that's likely why they have so many issues to start with:)

    So consistency.........this also provides good Carbon to plants and after 2-4 weeks, the results are pretty clear. Still, this is a 120 Gal tank, not cheap to add Excel to......so focus on CO2.

    BBA will slowly stop and fall out little by little.


    +++++++
    Detlef,

    Yes, I had a reverse timer set up that added aeration at night, but it kept getting moved(the light timer) by the client, perhaps a dozen or so times over a few months. So the aeration kept coming on before I got there and shut off while the lights where on.

    It's also a testable hypothesis to use for CO2.
    More light= more effect, same for dosing NH4 and GW.

    I've done this a number of times all with somewhat similar results, algae everytime, but depending on the filter, organic loading, overfeeding etc....mostly BBA. A little BGA as well, but not as much and only when they forget to dose and other similar things.

    To solve the issue: I used a relay that switches a power cord "on", when the lighting circuit shuts "off". This way, independent of the lights timer, the owner can turn them on/off any old time.........the CO2 is on and the aeration is off.
    Basically a reverse switch that shuts something off when something else is on.

    The strong aeration at night destroys the mulm, keeps tank cleaner, certainly helps degas the CO2 fast(4X faster), destroys any surface film, I use Air mist like the CO2 mist that sticks to mulm and other things to be removed by filters and to lift settling algae off things.

    It's more for higher fish loading and insurance for low O2/running the CO2 higher etc. A redundant system basically that errors on the side of the fish health.

    I'll be installing 3 more CO2 meters coming up here, so I'll be able to check the CO2 well over time(it data logs the CO2 every 10-15 min or whatever interval I chose). Then see about inducing it in a 20 Gal tank I have outside.

    I've tried perhaps 10 different parameters to induce BBA.
    Of those, lowering CO2 in higher light tanks seemed to induce it whereas nothing else to data has.

    Additionally, I've never had issues resolving any and every BBA issue I have ever had other than CO2 alone. BBA has popped up often in my quest to better understand various diffusing methods for CO2. I have 100% correlation with CO2 and BBA, and perhaps 30 replications.

    I have not actively tried to induce BBA in an otherwise stable tank using aeration alone. I've seen correlations.........but I have not tried to induce it. I would suspect BBA would bloom with the treatment if I was to make a prediction.

    You might end up with Cladphora if the effect is mild.............or only during part of the day cycle.........or a few other species........which are partially dependent on other factors besides poor CO2.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. detlef

    detlef Subscriber

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    As always thanks for your reply, Tom.

    By means of airation I intended to remove/destroy CO2 bubbles and build-up of scum off the water surface because these can block light and gas exchange and make the tank look dull and washed-out. I was under the impression that bubbling air during daytime hours only has minor effects on CO2 levels. But obviously it has not if it was done long enough.

    After reading your post I have stopped airation during times of photosynthesis to only a few short intervals of 20 min's.

    On a side note: To date I've done 3 replicates of vitamin additions to tanks and each time BBA seemed to get a spurt. One of the research papers you posted a long time ago supports this observation. The paper claims that vitamin concentrations have been correlated to the initiation of algae blooms:

    Dependence of photosynthesis and vitamin B12 uptake on cellular vitamin B12 concentration in the multicellular alga Cladophora glomerata (Chlorophyta), J.P.Hoffmann, Limnol. Oceanography, 1990

    Best regards,
    Detlef
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Might be something to Vit B12 etc.............

    Think about it...........seriously.

    When the CO2 drops, changes etc, what type of response might a plant have?
    Upregulation of anti oxidants? Leaching nutrients and Vitamins?
    These could easily induce or act as a germination signal.

    You could use activated carbon as a control to remove any Vit B12 etc.

    Cutin also seems to play a role, perhaps it sloughes off and makes it much easier for algal spores to attach when the plants are stressed with CO2...........cutin is mostly reduced carbon...........

    Several possible areas to look at.

    But these things require pretty good specific studies and no one is going to fund planted tank stuff. So not many real answers are going to come I suspect.

    I'm not that worried however, many folks do very well eyeballing things, and sticking to the basics of plant growth.

    Some will always have issues and we can help them etc, but even some of those will still have issues.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. nmullens

    nmullens Prolific Poster

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    An update: I have kept up with the excel and continued bumping my co2 up. The BBA seems to have stopped growing as I don't see any new growth. All the remaining BBA has started to go white. Does this mean it is dying? Also at what point will my shrimp start to eat it? Today is my water change day so I measured my parameters and my PO4 is still 5+.. I haven't added any po4 since before my last 50% water change, and my tap water tested to have 0 po4. Does anyone have any ideas where the high po4 could be coming for? Is there anything in the aquarium that could cause high po4?
     
  11. detlef

    detlef Subscriber

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    Some ideas:

    Any aquarist introduces phosphates to the tank if he uses phosphate-based buffers for the make-up of tank water.

    Also, if you're using a phosphate-based buffer such as Seachem's Neutral Regulator after regeneration of Purigen you'll end up having high amounts of phosphates in your tank water.

    Running carbon may introduce phosphates to the system as well.


    Best regards,
    Detlef
     
  12. nmullens

    nmullens Prolific Poster

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    Hmr, I am not using any kind of buffer and have not used carbon in years. Do you suggest carbon in a planted tank? What benefits would it have in a planted tank?
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Good , you are on the path, plants should be growing much better, see Gerry's CO2 misting report.

    Shrimp will not eat this, just wipe off, trim, scrub, do a large water change and dribble Excel directly on wood/rock, non living items to kill any BBA/algae.

    Have you calibrated the PO4 test kit?
    If the water change is 50% and the ppm is 5ppm, you would expect to see 2.5ppm.........if not, calibrate the test kit, it's likely way off.

    That's more likely where the PO4 is coming from.
    Tap rarely has more than 1.5ppm of PO4, typically 0.5-1.2 ppm is highish.

    Check the tap water report, then make some reference solutions(see LeftC's post on how to do this).

    A good rule: if you do not calibrate test kits, do not use them.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    If it's not the test kit, check your food as well. A lower quality brand of dry food can be loaded up with phosphates. Using carbon is something I avoid unless there's something very wrong with the water column, and then it's usually paired up with major water changes and used for perhaps 24hrs. The exception would be bad tap water; what's acceptable for humans and fish are two different things.

    -Philosophos
     
  15. nmullens

    nmullens Prolific Poster

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    I did use the calibration method to do my tests. I checked my po4 today, one day after the 50% water change and it was about 2.5. My plants do seem to be doing very well but I always thought they were doing good. I am fairly new to the whole planted tank thing, so I don't have a great eye for how they are doing yet. But I like to think I am getting a better feel for it.


    Thanks for the tip on the carbon I will keep that in mind if or when my tank runs into problems. As far as the fish food goes it doesn't say phosphate on it but one of them has Phosphorus Min .6%, and Phosphorus Max .9% I feed about two pinches of that a day.


    Thanks again for the great info guys, hear are some new pics of my tank.

    Image hosting, free photo sharing & video sharing at Photobucket
     
  16. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Phosphorous would be what phosphates are based off of. Very roughly speaking, from what I can see, multiply by 2 to get your mass in phosphates. 2 pinches of food covers a lot of mass, IMO. 200mg-2g on the wide side of things. I'd estimate something like .09-1.3mg/L assuming you're doing EI with about 400L of column. Weigh your feedings if you've got a scale; see what 2 pinches looks like. If the feeding weight and the tap water don't add up, then you've got some other uncontrolled variable floating around. From there, maybe try testing your substrate and looking over the phosphate content of everything you've put in to the tank since your last water change.

    -Philosophos
     
  17. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Tank looks decent, if you have low to moderate light and good CO2, this tank should do very well, good plant choices etc.

    I think time/experience will help you more and more.

    Note, you can mow that hairgrass or "comb" it just like a lawn if you want to keep it short.

    A large pair of scissors and cut cut!

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  18. nmullens

    nmullens Prolific Poster

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    Thanks, I will give that a shot it is stating to get kind of long


    Thanks, I will use a food with no Phosphorous in it for now and see if by next water change I am back to normal levels. If not I will take a look at the substrate and see if it has high po4, it is eco complete. How would I go about testing levels in my substrate?
     
  19. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Sediment based PO4 is rather prickly.

    I do not think PO4 is an issue at all here.
    A few good water changes takes care of most issues, the rest tend to be testing errors/resolution, poor test kits etc.

    Focus on plants, light and CO2...... less on nutrient ppm's.
    Add some Excel etc for now or any thing looks weird etc.

    You will get a feel for it pretty fast.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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