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Interesting algae and tank resistence observation with raising fry

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Tom Barr, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    In my 180 gal tank, I have been breeding Sturisoma for about the last 6+ months regularly.

    In trying to maximize the fry survival, I've tried a few different methods. The one that seems to work the best is a floating tray method:
    [​IMG]

    This tray has become very foul and covered with 3-4 different species of algae, just like you would expect from a neglected aquarium. While there is exchange with small holes drilled in the tray, the fish and exchange rate is likely less than the tank itself. Still, there is no algae in the main tank. Only in the tray. Algae eaters are inside and outside the tray. Nutrients are the same except for fish waste which is higher inside the tray. Light is higher, about 110 micromol inside the tray, but in the tank, it will depend on where, but there are spots on the wood and glass that are this high also, and no algae there.

    As there are no plants inside the tray, CO2 is not much of a factor.

    Possible reasons for having algae in the tray:
    1. High fish loads(NH4/organic N)
    2. Poor current
    3. Too much light
    4. Poor gas exchange


    Why is there no algae in the main tank?

    That is what strikes me the most about this.

    1. Spores are clearly present and getting into the main tank continuously
    2. Algae eaters are present in and outside the the tray
    3. Light is the same is several locations
    4. Overall nutrients in the main tank are the same as inside the tray, but the tray has fish and food at higher densitiy.


    I find it interesting that the main tank resist algae blooms.
    I have noticed many streams to have these same patterns, areas of nice clean plant growth, then 50 meters way, foul algae mess.

    My question is how, why do these patterns exists.
    I see these same patterns in Lake Tahoe or the Delta of the Sacramento River.

    Light does not appear to be good at explanatory rational.
    Current seems like a good candidate as does organic loading from fish/biomass (poor gas exchange is also part of current).

    I suggested some years ago that NH4 was a cause for GW blooms, and other algae perhaps. This seems false, but the increasing fish loading sure seems to cause algae in every test I've done or seen.

    So it seems there's something else at play.
    I did this same type of test by progressively adding ore and more fish/shrimp to a tank in the past, so current was not an issue, only the loading and got algae every time.
    So if not NH4, what then?

    I still find it curious that the algae only infest the tray locally and and not the entire aquarium.
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    FYI, I leave the algae in the tray for good reason, the fry seem to do better when it is present(they eat algae after all).
     
  3. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    O2 levels? The O2 level in the tray might be less than in the rest of the aquarium.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Maybe, but even with the O2, I've had this same algae appear with a whole tank as I progressively added more and more fish/shrimp. The O2 was fine as I had 14x the current and a good surface ripple.

    But it might help here. Still, low O2 is harder to test and account for vs adding O2, say like a pure gas to the system etc.

    Could be..........but does not explain the whole tank and why would algae care either way? they are not limited and photorespiration occurs at higher light etc and becomes more an issue, it can reduce algae growth, but low O2 really has not been implicated in algae blooms, only as a secondary response once things start to rot. Still, I can measure the tray for a 24 hour period and see.
     
  5. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    The Devil(s) You Say...


    Hi Tom,


    Were you anywhere other than UC Davis (ASU Sun Devels48, UCD Aggies 14:p) I would recommend taking a peek at the difference in Redox potential inside and out.:)


    You have set up a great demonstration of areas of poor circulation, were you to replace end panels or the bottom with mesh, Redox potentials rise inside more closely matching the outside areas and big surprise, algae diminishes.

    Add an air stone or two, less algae. Adding a small pump inside container will have about the same effect as a couple of air stones. Actually I think that the added oxygen AND circulation favors the bacteria that process the organic material, Redox potential rises, algae diminish.

    Run a charcoal filter inside container to remove organic material algae greatly diminishes as Redox potential raises.

    Most folk with no algae begin culturing algae by simply setting up an area of poor water flow, some use plastic or stones, some use plants, lighting is not all that important, though the better the lighting the better the algae. Measuring Redox in these areas can be tricky since as with measurements in substrates the act of measuring can introduce material that may not have been there. :rolleyes::confused:


    I am sure there are many variables but the whole buildup of organic materials, lowered dissolved oxygen, there seems to be threshold of some sort.


    • I can only define that threshold in terms of ORP.
    • Somewhere in the 330-350 mV and above range it becomes difficult to culture algae (or common pond snails, for that matter).
    • Somewhere in the 280-300-mV and below range algae are a certainty.

    Obviously the ORP value is not itself the reason, after all I can create a solution with an ORP of 350-mV with no nutritive value at all.

    It appears that as the Redox potential is lowered by the increase of organic material, perhaps a clogged canister filter, thus reducing flow and with it, even distribution of nutrients, oxygen and CO2 as well as reduced biological breakdown of organic material, followed by an algae bloom.


    • Something I have observed lately and do not understand is that if the dissolved organic material has a higher carbohydrate (perhaps also lipid) then protein composition it seems to be more favorable to algal growth.
      • This may be the reason I cannot come up with a better “threshold” number (the ORP scale is logarithmic).
    • Dissolved organic material is hard to measure (for me anyway) and determining the composition of the material even harder. I think until the components that make up Redox potential can be readily identified, ORP values are our best bet spotting the problems and making corrections before things get out of hand.
    • In my observations I have noted that as the flow dynamics change, due to filters clogging, pumps degrading, plants growing and so forth that the distribution of CO[SUB]2[/SUB] is what I notice affected most.
    • With my limited mental capacities I figure the flow is disrupted for everything,
      • the fertilizers simply have more staying power as the unused portions build up, (they get a better opportunity to take advantage of Fick's laws)
      • whereas CO[SUB]2[/SUB] and O[SUB]2[/SUB] dissipate.
    • The tendency we hobbyist have is to think that distribution of nutrients and gasses are even throughout the tank, but the truth is that there can exist wide variations throughout.

    I have also observed filters, particularly in less established systems that compete for system resources, decrease ORP values and often dissolved oxygen as well while establishing themselves. We (hobbyists) tend to think of “cycling” as an event when in fact there are a number of “cycles” occurring and “the Nitrogen cycle” is actually a long term process with plateaus and stops and starts. Within this I have been able to identify what t my untrained eye appear to be successive groups of bacteria (and fungus) coming and going, it seems quite a stunning process.


    Oh well I know I am the proverbial chopped liver…:eek:


    BiollanteA


     
  6. Florin Ilia

    Florin Ilia Lifetime Charter Member
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    Extremely interesting discussion. Intuitively I now feel that high fishload may be a plausible cause for my Staghorn infestation that follows me across tank setups. I have about 45-50 cm of fish in a 45 l tank (18 in of fish in 12g) and the tank is also rather tall.

    My fish are very shy and stay hidden so they don't easily generate an impression of "high fish load" (the tank looks empty).

    I'll see if I can get around to measure ORP. And I'll definitely try reducing the fish load and see what happens.
     
  7. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Well, here's what is my interpretation: How can algae "sense" to germinate and bloom? Chemical signaling. This chemical signal exists in a range where plants don't grow. the chance for the algae to dominate and complete it's lifecycle is present. O2 can be part of this chemical signal. This theory also explains why in some streams there can be parts where algae dominates and parts where there is no algae. The chemistry of the water, related to O2 or CO2, could vary. This would also explain the situation you have.
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Redox is better for sediments, O2 better for fish and water column.

    I have both, but I'll go with O2 and then maybe see about the small air pump.
     
  9. JJP2

    JJP2 Lifetime Charter Member
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    This is interesting... perhaps since algae is a much simplier organic structure than plants, it can only break down nitrate when it is present in the NH4 form. This would occur with high bioloads. It could also occur in low bioloads when there isn't enough bacteria present (new tank) to convert it.

    John
     
  10. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    To ORP Or To DO That Is... Well... A False Dilemma


    Hi Tom,


    Redox in the water column indicates things I can do something about; Redox in the sediment is interesting, in fact I have had a couple of “fermentation” grade probes buried for over a year, in addition to regular measurements in various tanks and test beds.:)


    Sudden changes in Redox levels in the water column indicate the need for immediate action.;) Trending or small changes in the water column can indicate need for adjustment or maintenance. :)



    Given the fact that we can have reasonable control and therefore knowledge of what we introduce into our aquariums, we can interpret with fair accuracy the conditions of our systems based on Redox potential.:)


    Having tracked a number of water parameters over the years including dissolved oxygen, I can understand that each has its value, but I have found that the Redox potential is simply a better indicator/predictor of system status/health.


    Given that the cost of a decent ORP/pH/temperature device is under a US$100.00, are reasonably easy to calibrate and care for, I think it the hands down winner over the more expensive and limiting DO meters and with my ORP/pH/Temperature meter I can track my sediments as well.:cool:



    Biollante

     
  11. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Nutritional Source


    Hi John,

    Until recently “my definition” of dissolved organic material included NH[SUB]4[/SUB]. NH[SUB]4[/SUB] is actually the most plant usable form.:)

    It seems to me that the increase in organic material results from some event; a large critter dying unnoticed, happens quite frequently, sick critters tend to seek shelter, hide, people with busy lives may not notice for a while. Or slower processes of over feeding, dying vegetation, pumps slowing, filters becoming clogged or less efficient. Also we tend to underestimate the loads of bacteria and such that inhabit our tanks.:)
    Suddenly increasing critter population in new or not very well established tank are a well-documented causes of increased organic material.:gw

    Weather it is algae, snails, bacteria, hydras, or what-have-you that “bloom,” there is a nutritional source that supports them, and as far as I can determine they are all indicators, symptoms, of water quality. That perhaps not-so-coincidentally can be expressed in terms of Redox potential.:)

    Biollante

     
    #11 Biollante, Sep 8, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2011
  12. feh

    feh Guru Class Expert

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    Pop another tray in with fewer fry and less food in it and see what that results in? Maybe even a 3rd tray with nothing but water flowing in and out from the main tank. See what kind of results you get in those 2 trays and compare. How fast the organics in the tray build up could play a role in this. You have a higher bio-load polluting the water in the tray, even though the fish are eating the algae, there is still more waste being added back into the water from them eating it, the lack of good flow doesn't help since things are already building up faster than it can be removed.
     
  13. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    This is indeed an interesting thread.

    Tom if I understand correctly the fry that you have in the tub are growing well and you are not loosing many? Most of us on here no doubt also have quite a lot of experience breeding fish and know that high water quality is imperative to good fry growth and maximal brood size. It therefore seems clear that the water in this tub musn't be that bad - if it were the fry would be pegging it pretty quickly (??).

    Is it possible to get hold of some lab grade testing gear and test the basic water parameters, ammonia, nitrites etc, and compare them to the main tank? Might be a simple case of going back to basics.

    It seems there is no doubt that the higher concentration of dissolved organic matter in this tub as a result of the higher fish load is a big contributing factor. There is going to be a lot of bacteria in there processing all that waste. Little fish have such high metabolisms so they are constantly munching away.

    But the 'processor' of this organic matter, i.e. filteration, is not available in sufficient capacity.

    I was thinking along the same lines as feh above, putting in additional trays and making slight changes to see what comes of it.

    Perhaps the starting point would be to get several trays at the same point (i.e. covered in algae) and then make one change to a tray and see what improves the situation.

    It seems the only option for filteration in one of these trays would be a simple air powered sponge, if it can be made to fit??

    Could a bag of zeolite be simply dropped into a tray and then replaced with another one every 24 hours?

    Scott.
     
    #13 scottward, Sep 11, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2011
  14. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    Tom - sorry if I missed above - but this tank that you are referring to here was otherwise doing well i.e. vibrant plant growth etc etc? Do you happen to remember what type of filtration system it was using? Would be interesting to know if the system had hit the stops in terms of biological filtration.
     
  15. 1077

    1077 Guru Class Expert

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    If fish are doing well, and it is primarily algae in tub that is of concern (foul water different types of algae reported).
    I might try moving the tub to different area such as where return water from filter can more easily flow through the tub.
    Could be protein's not easily seen at surface contributing to condition and perhaps more flow would reduce this ?
    Should think oxygen level's at surface would be greater than at mid to lower regions, so perhap's more movement is needed
    (larger holes in tub) and more flow ?
     
    #15 1077, Sep 14, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2011
  16. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    What about just shutting down and disconnecting the filter on the main tank? :)

    I bet no matter how good the lighting, ferts, CO2 level/dist etc is, the tank will foul up pretty quickly.

    That obviously being the extreme worse case. It would be interesting to see if, when the number of fish in the tank was increased and algae started to rear it's head, if doubling, say, the filtration would keep it in check?



    Scott.
     
  17. chopsticks

    chopsticks Prolific Poster

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    This all sounds like the Amano prescription against algae (in order):
    1. Check if there are too many fishes for the amount of plants
    2. Check if the filter needs to be cleaned
    3. Add chemical filtration media
    4. No lights for 3 days
    5. Cut a bit the fertilizer

    Seems like the old man got it empirically…

    Regards.
     
  18. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    I Do So Hate People Saying I Am Disagreeable, Just 'Cause I Am


    Hi Scott,


    Not to be disagreeable,:) but I rather disagree…:eek:


    While I would not recommend it,


    • an established well-run,
    • well planted,
    • particularly larger tank with little or no algae,
    • apparent ORP values in the 350 mV plus range.

    Such a tank could quite likely run for a considerable amount of time with reasonable circulation. :D


    • Quite possibly, the tank adapting to operating without further need of outside filtration, especially with a strong water change regimen.
    I would expect a few weeks of somewhat reduced water quality that might include a little temporary algae, perhaps a bit more snail activity.:cool:



    Biollante

     
  19. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    Thinking about it some more, I think the answer is, 'it depends'.....

    If the tank and it's population of fish was only just within the capabilities of the filtration, then shutting down the filtration suddenly would surely foul things up pretty fast. On the other hand, a lightly populate tank could indeed probably cope just fine, as you say with just a little temporary algae.

    I understand that plants do help with the water quality, but surely only within limits, and I think the number of fish that can be kept in the tank is probably a lot less than people coming from a fish only background realise (i.e. me?). :)

    Scott.
     
  20. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Depends,The EvilPlantMonster Muses Ruefully In That Evil-Opininated Way


    Hi Scott,

    Well perhaps you could cut me a little slack I was referring to Tom Barr’s big beautiful tank, not some pushed to the edge, haphazardly maintained, toxic pit of a tank.

    In the case of the tank pictured, there is no “depends” (http://www.depend.com/special-offers) about it!:rolleyes::cool::gw



    Biollante

     
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