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Identifying Algae

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by srozell, May 9, 2005.

  1. srozell

    srozell Guru Class Expert

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    I believe I've seen Tom write somewhere that if you could tell him what algae you have, he can tell you how to get rid of it, or what nutrient you are missing.

    My question is how do you identify your algae accurately. Aren't there 1000's of types? Aren't many of them similar in appearance?

    If I want to know EXACTLY what type of algae I have, what is the best path to follow?
     
  2. Greg Watson

    Greg Watson Administrator
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    Re: Identifying Algae

    Take a picture, post it in our gallery and ask what type it is ...

    Greg
     
  3. srozell

    srozell Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Identifying Algae

    Well, to that end I just went out and bought a Nikon Coolpix 4800. It's supposed to take good macro's.

    Now all I need to do is figure out how to work it!

    I hope you all look forward to my fabulous algae pictures! :D
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Identifying Algae

    There are only a few noxious species that infest our tanks(about 10-15), not thousands.

    It's a combination of experience and looking under a scope. There are perhaps 10-50 species of diatoms that are in the tank, but......diatoms are seldom an issue, there are many species of phytoplankton, but only one that bugs us.

    The other issue that while there are 1000's present, only a few become a problem and perhaps only 50 to 100 species total at any one time.

    Rather than species identification for every species, we simply need to know the species that is becoming a problem.


    Diana Walstad seemed resigned to give up completely as have many others labeling the algal issue a community, which is true, but when an algae problem appears, it's the blooming of one or 2-3 species, not 1000's or hundreds etc.

    Rather than giving up, knowing a little bit about the algae of question, being able to reproduce and induce the alga's growth is a key if you want to understand the environmental conditions that allow for it's growth and control.

    Chasing after the problem, only when there is a problem(due to alack of control over the tank's environment) is a very very poor way to solve a problem. To critically test a weed, algae etc, you need to be able to culture it so you know it is growing due to a lack of CO2, additions of NH4, low NO3 etc.

    I have to grow weeds to kill them and then go back and repeat the test for confirmation.

    To my knowledge, no other planted aquarist has ever done this.
    I've suggested they try it, but few take me up on the offer.

    Few are willing to trash their tanks full of algae.
    All they are willing to do in experimenting is get rid of their probhlem, which showed a lack of environmental control to begin with.

    Without having the control to confirm and being able to go back and induce, you cannot answer why a certain algae grows or not.

    Many plant folks are willing to test different nutrients to improve plant growth, and different nutrient routines..............

    But few are willing at add NH4 or lower their NO3/CO2 etc to get an algae bloom. They talk about algae in terms of their mistakes rather than anything done purposely.

    Observation versus experimentation. Many try to experiment but only to cure the issue rather than seeking why it's growing in the first place.
    Chasing after a problem after it's already started and waiting for it to appear makes testing for it makes for a rare event and you miss why it grows and is induced in the first place. You'd have to be very very lucky..........

    But they can see and test to see the conclusions I have reached are valid and solve the algae problem they have in virtually every case if they really address the environmental issue.

    EI allows a good simple method to control most all of the parameters except CO2. So the focus is on maintaining good CO2 typically takes care of things with a little pruning and work after 1 to 3 weeks to whip a tank back into shape.

    Most all algae issues are dealth with the same way, reset the parameters, clean out the algae, add herbivores, prune and maintain the tank.

    A specific species can tell me what is wrong if their is one , perhaps two problems........multiple species means there are big issues....so CO2=> NO3=> K+=> PO4 on down the line is a good flow chart.........

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. srozell

    srozell Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Identifying Algae

    A word to the wise: Do not get distracted by a forum response in the middle of refilling a tank after a water change.

    I really like your response Tom.

    I am an aquariast, not a biologist, nor a chemist, however I love plants enough that I'm willing to try growing the algae to figure out what it likes.

    Since the algae is on a plant I can easily transplant, I'm moving it to a tank that shares all the paramaters minus the CO2. I figure that's a start. After that I would consider lighting variables and dosing variables.

    It also sounds like you reccommend dosing with NH4 to see what happens.

    Here goes nothing... then off to clean up the water spill.
     
  6. srozell

    srozell Guru Class Expert

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  7. m lemay

    m lemay Prolific Poster

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    Re: Identifying Algae

    Looks like BBA to me (black brush algae).
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Identifying Algae

    Ditto.

    CO2, CO2 and CO2.

    Where are the plants?
    I see lots of gravel, algae and a little plant.

    Add more weeds.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. srozell

    srozell Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Identifying Algae

    I left a section of the plant with the Most BBA on it and cranked up the CO2. The plant has almost doubled in size since I did that 3 days ago. The algae hasn't.

    The cutting I put in a non CO2 tank hasn't shown much growth, algae or otherwise, but I shall monitor it.

    That plant is in a small corner of the tank where I could watch it. There was also a huge weed that was growing beside it that I just sold. I have placed a new weed in it's place.
     
  10. srozell

    srozell Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Identifying Algae

    The snails were snacking on the remains of this plant in my CO2 tank today. It looks like the BBA lived out it's cycle and didn't start any new growth anywhere.

    I rather enjoyed watching fellow plant enthusiast point at my BBA at the front of my tank with disgust on their faces, and watching that disgust turn to shock when I told them I put it there on purpose. What I'll enjoy even more is showing them that the imminent disaster that they predicted now has no chance of coming to fruition.

    Now if only I could find a magic bullet for Hair algae.
     
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