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How to clean up BBA covered plants I get from client's tanks that I redo

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by Tom Barr, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Nasty, BBA infested, covered Anubias, ferns you name it.

    I toss the plants into the non CO2 low light sponge filter only tanks out in the garage.

    1-3 weeks later, they are clean.

    No chemicals are used like Excel etc.

    there's a lot of RCS, and I feed them 1-2x a week or so, but not much else is done.
    Light is on for 8 hours.(shop light with T8's and electronic ballast).

    I've done this maybe 20 times now.

    Now can someone guess why this happens?
    I have a hypothesis.
     
  2. ltb420

    ltb420 Lifetime Members
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    My guess would be the low lighting level and the shrimp. Once the BBA is weakened and dying the shrimp can then come in and pick it apart.
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Likely just the very low CO2 levels.

    BBA comes from streams and optimal CO2 seems to be 5-10ppm.
    If it's lower, which is often the case in non CO2 tanks.............then it quickly dies.

    While in a CO2 enriched tank, even after you correct the CO2 issue that was low or variable for a few days........then BBA will continue to live.
    If the CO2 is stable and high, plan growth good, DOC lowish, then you never get any BBA bloom.

    It's that transition range area that dogs people with BBA.
     
    Barliman likes this.
  4. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    In your garage do you add fertz? If not could K or Fe be the limiting factor and not CO2? (thinking about all possible variables to BBA growth, I know BBA doesn't require much)

    I was always curious if you have any pictures of these tanks in your garage? You often mention them but I don't think I've ever seen pictures.
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    they ain't pretty
     
  6. UDGags

    UDGags Lifetime Charter Member
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    Yeah, but I'd bet we learn just as much from the not pretty ones :)

    One the topic of BBA I finally got it under control in my 125g by cutting back the amount of fertz I was dosing. I cut back my ppm amounts by about half and watch the plants now. I've been on cloud 9 the past few months after defeating it.
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well a 20 gallon tank, a shop light and a sponge filter with plants and shrimp in there. Not sure a picture is required to learn anything from that.

    Oh, yea, there's water in the tank also
     
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  8. ltb420

    ltb420 Lifetime Members
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    Makes sense that explains why so many have difficulty with DIY CO2. This also explains why it can be difficult to get rid of BBA even when you dial in CO2. When I had my bout with BBA the only way I could put a dent in it was to get CO2 dialed in, manual removal and spot treatment with excel. Even though the CO2 was dialed in the BBA didn't go away till I removed it or killed it manually.
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Pretty much the case for most folks.

    If you catch it early, then attack it aggressively, then the blooms never get out of hand.
     
  10. Whiskey

    Whiskey Member

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    DOH!!!!! That's what I've been forgetting!!! THE WATER!!

    No wonder 30 PPM of CO2 was so easy :facepalm:

    Whiskey
     
  11. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    That's interesting... Doesn't that sound like the classic idea that "excessive nutrients may lead to algal blooms"? And if not, why that would work?
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Same reason a few folks found it worked for them 20 years ago:

    http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Fertilizer/sears-conlin.html

    Steve Dixon and myself falsified the hypothesis.

    But making a nutrient more limiting than CO2, reduces the CO2 demand, and CO2 issues are more an issue than ferts, specifically PO4.

    So for folks who cannot manage their CO2 effectively, for whatever reason.....................PO4 limitation can sometimes work if they happen upon a balance there. But...........many cannot do that method either without algae.
    No one method will work 100% of the time.

    But we can rule out what does NOT cause algae.
    No hobbyist can cover all their bases, but when we have excellent results and we know we have no limitations, then we can say something.
    Then you have a good reference.

    Also, you can clean things up real nicely, then try adding more etc. A dirty BBA covered tank full of algae, not the best test subject.

    I simply showed that non CO2 low light tanks can easily kill and eradicate BBA covered plants.
    Unlike Bleach, Excel, H2O2 dips, spot treatment,s the leaves look good after and recover using non CO2 methods.
    This is NOT about using LESS CO2 gas, it's about not adding ANY at all.

    I've never had BBA in a non CO2 enriched planted tank.
     
  13. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    Thanks for this thread -- I've had low-level BBA since introducing pressurized CO2. I cautiously crept the level up over a few weeks. Then there was increased surface scum, so I added a skimmer, and later, a powerhead for additional circulation. Each change was another fluctuation in CO2 level, more cautious adjustment, shorter photoperiod, etc. By the time I figured out how to dial in the CO2 level with the circulation/gas exchange situation I have, I already had a BBA issue. Small, but present. Slowly spreading (but not getting too thick) even with good CO2 levels. Three months worth of low-level, slow spread throughout my stauro carpet, even with a 1.6 pH drop, 1.2 of that by the time the lights come up.

    So, last weekend after reading through this thread, I shut off the CO2 completely, and started Excel as my source of carbon. Four days in, I have a whole crap-ton of low-level red BBA. Additionally, the fish and shrimp are all a lot more active. The shrimp are especially happy, clearing all that out.

    I think I'm going to keep this up for 4-6 weeks, at which point I'll re-evaluate whether or not to turn the CO2 back on. So far, the plants don't seem any worse off for it. I'll keep y'all posted...

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks for this thread -- I've had low-level BBA since introducing pressurized CO2. I cautiously crept the level up over a few weeks. Then there was increased surface scum, so I added a skimmer, and later, a powerhead for additional circulation. Each change was another fluctuation in CO2 level, more cautious adjustment, shorter photoperiod, etc. By the time I figured out how to dial in the CO2 level with the circulation/gas exchange situation I have, I already had a BBA issue. Small, but present. Slowly spreading (but not getting too thick) even with good CO2 levels. Three months worth of low-level, slow spread throughout my stauro carpet, even with a 1.6 pH drop, 1.2 of that by the time the lights come up.

    So, last weekend after reading through this thread, I shut off the CO2 completely, and started Excel as my source of carbon. Four days in, I have a whole crap-ton of low-level red BBA. Additionally, the fish and shrimp are all a lot more active. The shrimp are especially happy, clearing all that out.

    I think I'm going to keep this up for 4-6 weeks, at which point I'll re-evaluate whether or not to turn the CO2 back on. So far, the plants don't seem any worse off for it. I'll keep y'all posted...
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Such a method will work good if.....you do not have high light, it you are low to moderate light, then it should do pretty good.


    Another way to deal with this: automated water changes. If you change say 10%-20% per day, then you also do not get any BBA.
     
  15. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Very interesting Christophe... Do you still fertilize? same rate as before or less?
     
  16. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    I was doing 7.5 ppm NO3, 1.5 ppm PO4, 10 ppm K twice a week, along with micros to 1.3ppm Fe in four doses. Things have really slowed down, so I'm cutting back by half. I might be able to cut out dosing NO3 entirely, as the level in tank is staying around 20ppm so far. I'll keep up the 50% per week water changes, but since I mix RO and tap, I can prep it a bit in advance to make sure it degasses before the change.

    I really wish when I set this up that I went with a wet/dry filter -- There's a lot more headroom to turn up the gas when you are also oxygenating really well.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I was doing 7.5 ppm NO3, 1.5 ppm PO4, 10 ppm K twice a week, along with micros to 1.3ppm Fe in four doses. Things have really slowed down, so I'm cutting back by half. I might be able to cut out dosing NO3 entirely, as the level in tank is staying around 20ppm so far. I'll keep up the 50% per week water changes, but since I mix RO and tap, I can prep it a bit in advance to make sure it degasses before the change.

    I really wish when I set this up that I went with a wet/dry filter -- There's a lot more headroom to turn up the gas when you are also oxygenating really well.
     
  17. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Thank you Christophe. Please, keep us posted!
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    This does not matter either way.
    As far as algae...........

    I can certainly dose less in a non CO2 tank(or more), but the algae are certainly not limited by ferts in either case.
    Not by an order or two of magnitude.

    The plants? That's another story.

    Therein lies the disconnect most hobbyists seem to have trouble with.
    Way too much focus on ferts, not enough on light and CO2/O2.
     
  19. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Tom, I was asking that question right because I know that Co2 may be related to dosing in the way that when dosing is unlimited, co2 may be limiting, and vice versa. Christophe said that lowering Co2 helped in his situation, So I was curious to know if he also reduced ferts proportionally.
     
  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    But the issue is not about ferts, he adjusted CO2(Excel based, which is slowign growth rates down likely 60-80
    %), not the ferts. They are just a secondary post factor.

    When you add 2 dependencies, you end up with say 9 different outcomes if you just have 3 levels for each of the 2 variables.
    This quickly becomes much harder to get any information out that you might think.

    It does work if you have controls and have mastery of the issues to start with.

    Troels and Ole did this for 1 plant, in isolated no sediment sealed tanks using Riccia and light and CO2. Ferts where non limiting to make them independent.

    [​IMG]

    You can see 9 different rates of growth, covering about 20X differences in rates of growth, which is huge...........
    So seeing improvements in a practical tank might not be so easy. But the article and test was well founded and applies well to most cases in planted tanks.

    Doing this with all the different ferts?
    Different KH's and different plant species?
    Impossible.
    You can isolate one or two variables at a time, you can use Liebig's law to predict, but that's about all.
    Over time, you can build and understand after doing a number of test.
    It's not some silver bullet thing, never was.
    It's basic stuff and basic horticulture.

    Tropica says what I've said for many years.

    http://tropica.com/en/guide/make-your-aquarium-a-success/

    Interesting tid bit in lumen's per watt:
    http://tropica.com/en/guide/make-your-aquarium-a-success/light/

    Ole, Karen Randall, Troels, myself, we do not disagree, that's the hobbyists that do all that.
    We go "yes, hobbyists love myths and such, and that's the real problem." The Science and how to is pretty well understood and basic.

    This is one reason I suggest non CO2 methods, so that other folks can see the slower more patient methods also work and work very well for little labor input.
    Many that try too hard often have algae issues, they end up chasing one myth to the next, and never really focus well on CO2.

    Now this might be due to the nature of their system, maybe their fish are more touchy than other species, and O2 are low.
    That has nothing to do directly with CO2 or ferts, but is a key in helping you add more CO2 with less/little stress to fish.
    Same with good surface movement.

    I've not seen any evidence myself personally that adding too much CO2 causes algae or detriment other than to the fish/livestock.
    Some have claimed they have.............but I've got some pretty high CO2 levels and a lot of fish and no such issues.
    There's no need to lard on CO2 however either.

    If you trim off something, then the CO2 if you are over doing it would be the best choice to trim back. Ferts would be the last.
    BBA is almost always a CO2 issue one way or another, some suggested Organic matter build up, I'll leave that one out there as an unknown yet.
    The non CO2 tanks have little water changes so the Organic matter build up is quite high.
    I've dosed plenty of plant cuttings AND 1/2 dead plants, obviously stressed, never got any BBA or HAIR ALGAE.
    Not to a non CO2 tank anyway.

    CO2 enriched tanks?
    Yep.

    There's a lot of trade off between the two main types of planted tanks to be certain, but you can isolate and make some assumptions on single variables.
    For BBA, you need to have some CO2 enrichment (More Variable CO2).
    Same for hair algae(LESS variable CO2).
    There's some delay on BBA appearance, less so on Hair algae.
    Plant growth is almost always much better if you get Hair algae vs BBA.

    Still, adding Excel, moderate light, well, not many would predict that BBa would survive anyway. Ferts? Well if growth is 60-80% of what it was, then you can assume 60-80% of the ferts needs can be cut also.

    Note, that is very different than what I observed, I use No excel at all, just plain old tanks without water changes(well,once every 1-3 months or so), shrimps(RCS culls), sponge filter driven by aeration, 2 shop lights.
    BBA died off, we already know that BBA will die with Excel applications.

    If you stop the gas, then add excel, then things slow way down.
    But if you add neither, the algae still goes away and things slow down even farther.

    Note, I do not add ferts to the non CO2 tanks except maybe once every 1-2 weeks and then only a tiny amount.
    Maybe 5% EI.

    Decent feeding of livestock can off set that some also. Excel dosing means you can still do water changes, perhaps once every few weeks instead of weekly, but you can still 1-2 a week
    I wrote a discussion about EI and Excel dosing modification a few years back. I did not discuss algae so much, but more a hybrid method.

    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/4266-Hybrid-methods-fusing-dry-start-excel-with-non-CO2
     
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