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Multiple blackout method for algae control

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by Tom Barr, Nov 6, 2009.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Blackouts are common suggestion for BGA and a few other species of algae to put some hurt on the algae when trying to fix the root cause.

    The method I'm suggesting here is one that keeps the plants going indefinitely with only moderate stress but really hurts the algae much more over time.

    Remove all the algae you can initially. Really put some effort into this part.
    Large water change(50-70%)
    Refill water without ferts/CO2 and turn the light off for 3 days.
    Cover tank so no ambient, even a little bit, gets into the aquarium, towels, black trash bags 2-3 layer thick etc work well for this. Feed fish etc. Some aerate. Clean filters prior to doing this also.

    After 3 days, the plants might look a bit pale, there might be some left over algae, do not worry. Go after it, do another water change, add ferts/CO2 for 2-3 days, but use less light this time, maybe 1/3 less.

    Shade cloth is pretty good and available from most nurseries/garden centers etc for those that cannot raise their lighting, or reduce the no# of light bulbs easily.

    You will want to look at CO2, perhaps consider adding Excel during this lights on phase and thereafter until the issue/CO2 is corrected. This takes time and observation to fix that part.

    Next, you will want to repeat this same 3 day blackout protocol again.
    You can keep doing this indefinitely until the algae gives up and the tank gets cleaned up and clear.

    This cost nothing, I sell you no magic cure all in a bottle and starts with the basics of algae and plant growth: light.

    Several iterations of this blackout cycling will weaken the algae and any subsequent spores and young adult algae. This also gives you a chance to clean the tank good with minimal algae regrowth, and do a good water changes after each stage.

    This aquarium was toast, 1/2 dead plants from a move in hot weather and full of soirogyra not long ago(5 weeks ago).

    [​IMG]

    After the algae clears up, you can run the lighting at higher intensity but make sure to adjust CO2/nutrients back up as well. Watch plant,s fish very carefully as you adjust CO2, never get impatient and add too much CO2 then wander off and not keep a close eye on the aquarium. Only adjust CO2 when youi can watch the tank and the plants/fish.

    Thus this has less impact on plants and hurts the algae more over time.
    You can even use this method when trying to reduce the rates of growth, although many species will "stretch" and look pale after the 2-3 days time of blackout. They should revert back in a 2-5 days after for many species.

    Blackouts have a rather bad effect on Gloss, HC and a good trim might be most effective, and mowing these carpet plants down to 1/2", 1cm or so, or even lower to the sediment prior to the blackout.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  2. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi Tom,

    As one who generally dislikes ‘shortcuts’, I like this approach, as long as the underlying issue(s) are recognized and addressed.

    Any treatment regimens that will kill algae or cyanobacteria are by their nature a stress on the system and therefore weaken the system leaving it potentially more vulnerable to attack.

    A treatment plan that could be used indefinitely goes a long way toward quickly getting folks back on track and allows for on-going adjustment.

    I know it is hard when folks are unsure of the outcome to continue a regimen on 'faith'. A treatment that offers immediate measurable (observable?) results will be far more likely to be followed.:)

    Biollante
     
  3. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    This method seems like an extension of what many who don't have plants do to manage algae. I know I was doing multiple blackouts before getting into plants. I think this is something we've lost in planted tanks. most of us spend so much time thankful just to have plants survive shipping, or even just surviving in our tanks when we first start, that it feels counter-intuitive to revoke them light.

    How well does this concept work in early stages after using your dry start method? I know how immersion melt can be; an entire tank of it going on, along side figuring out CO2 distribution is something that I'd imagine brings on a bit of algae.

    -Philosophos
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Yes, but this method selectively weaken algae more than plants.
    Then gives you plenty of time to mess with the other variables like light/CO2.
    No snake oil or funny messing with nutrients that typically does not work for many.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    No Snake Oil

    Hi Tom,

    Agreed, the 'no snake oil' part along with the time to mess with other variables certainly makes it worthwhile.

    Though my hydroponic and aquatic plant only tanks; have made me a high nutrient, high CO2 type (until recently high light :rolleyes: ).

    When in doubt, water change and raise everything (except light :eek: ), we can always back-off later. ;)

    Biollante
     
  6. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    in my experience, a 3 day blackout results in leggy plants, large internodia and small tips. a good example is proserpinaca palustris cuba. Again in my experience, it takes quite some time to recover (i.e. look the same as before the blackout).
    Is this just me? or is it general?
    because if one has "some" algae growing.... is it worth doing the blackout without addressing the real cause of the algae?

    I am just wondering :D

    greets,

    yme
     
  7. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    As I've tried Stargrass didn't tolerate it well. Many fragmentations occurred.
     
  8. adechazal

    adechazal Prolific Poster

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    In my experience the blackouts are a great way to hit the algae where it hurts.

    What I want to say however is, don't force the issue of "you better solve the root cause or else..." If we newbies knew the root cause of the outbreak we wouldn't have to do the blackout now would we? (Unless we could assign a root cause and just need to clean up the tank, which I humbly offer is not typically the case :eek: )

    Further, the blackout gives the aquatic gardener a look at what the tank would be without algae, a sense of hope that we might actually be able to attain that beautiful algae free aquarium! :D

    Aaron
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, even with good conditions, CO2, light etc, if you add Spirogryra, it generally will take hold and grow very fast.

    Root cause was inoculation.
    Some species of Cladophora also seem to fall into this group.

    If you stress the alga, then it goes dormant.
    Yes, you do get leggy plants with some stem species, some low ground covers, some species do not look as nice after, but......they sure do not look nice with algae on them either, and this method reduces the labor involved in trimming and cleaning, preening plant leaves. Stem plants recover pretty fast, 3-4 days, some longer(week or two).

    Instead of just getting worse and worse, it stops the spread for a bit, then also stresses algae and lets you clean things up, and work on the root issue.

    Thing is, it never kills the plants, and beats the algae back much more selectively during the time frame used. What good are non leggy stem plants covered in algae?

    No good to me, I'll toss them and trim them out. Save a few tiny bits that I clean well etc. This method(BO) is less work.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Hi all,

    I had oedeogonium after my CO2 pump lost capacity. Noticed it too late.
    I used this BO regime, according to Tom's advice. It took 2 cycles of 3 days to get it under control, together with 75% waterchanges before and after each cycle.
    After the 2nd BO there was still some algae on the leaves but SAE's finished off the leftovers. It didn't come back.

    There were some leggy plants but that's easier to cure than algae.
     
  11. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    Spirogyra used to be main problem for my tank. But after trying an anti-ich medicine,
    the plants' gone bad shape:mad: . Spirogyra was virtually wiped out, I first thought
    it was because of my maintenance since the medicine said it's plant-safe.

    It's now Oedogonium that takes hold, with a bit of Spirogyra. If BO can't control this
    after 4th cycle, I think it's time to restart the tank. Spirogyra seems to be nicer evil
    by now :rolleyes: . At least it doesn't make plants look like having ugly thick fur.
     
  12. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    I got some spirogyra a few months ago. It took 4-6 weeks to go. It came with my R. Wallichii. I increased CO2, removed it daily and made some filter cleaning + major organics removal, it disappeared once I removed my stunted Rotals
     
  13. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    Well, I think I would stop at the 2nd cycle. Because Blyxa Japonica (the big one on the left)
    looks very bad, many dying leaves. I think some stems may be dead. In the photo it looks
    healthier than real life. More Stargrass fragmentations too (you can see one floating).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The plants that seem to withstand black-out quite well are Vallisneria, Vivipara, and Tenellus
    (this one looks unaffected at all). Oh, and Oedogonium too, if you count it as plant.
    Yes, it declines with each black-out, but I guess it requires too many cycles for my case.

    For spirogyra, I agree that black-out is very effective.

    I will leave it as it is by now. Until I've more time to rethink about the tank. Algae doesn't
    kill fish anyway.:)
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Getting careless with CO2, that causes algae and kills fish.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. Dave Spencer

    Dave Spencer Prolific Poster

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    I find black outs to be just about the most potent weapon available in the fight against established algae. Spirogyra is my constant reminder that I have got CO2/flow wrong, and is an absolute pig to get rid of. A series of blackouts interspersed with a brief pick me up period for the plants is the only way I can get rid of this stuff.

    One mistake I have made is to prune some Eleocharis parvula to rid it of some Spiro just prior to a black out. When I took the blankets off three days later, all the tips of the pruned plants were brown and dying. My suggestion would be to give plants a period of visible growth/recovery in between each black out, and to probably not carry out any pruning just prior to a black out.

    Dave.
     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    So I did yet another test, I inoculated Spirogyra by adding some from a culture outside. They increased the light 300% and reduced the CO2 by 1/5th. Did not take long.

    This test focused on reduced light intensity and upping the CO2 without a blackout.
    This proved almost as effective method.

    I have been at this for little over 2 weeks and not much is left now.

    My general conclusions are that Manipulation of light and CO2 can easily reduce this algae as well as a 3 days blackout series. The source is likely too much light and not enough CO2. Which is nothing new for most green algae species:cool:

    I'd suggest a similar case for most all green algae.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  17. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Would you have been able to drop the lighting without upping the CO2 and have this work?

    -
    S
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Probably, but I tend to use both and that accounts for changes I might make.
    We know that less light = less CO2 demand, and that adding more CO2 will also help. So like the BO, it's a one two punch.

    Perhaps the light reduction alone would do the trick, I think it would.

    Is there some fine cut off there for light?
    No, I do not think so as the other things, like ....CO2 play a role.
    So using the light, CO2, and perhaps a BO will give the user the most effective options for dealing with Green algae.

    All the other species of algae are very easy to address,cure by comparison.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  19. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    So when you're getting green algae just when plants reach the top of the tank, less light could probably help?
     
  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Yes, it will lower CO2 demand and slow rates of growth.

    It's a two part effect, light and CO2 together, not just light alone.

    Alternatively, you could simply add more CO2, but then since the plants also affect current as they hit the surface, they also reduce flow which reduces O2. A 3rd alternative is to trim the plants more often. So you have all these other things, that affect one another going on.

    It's not so simple, but if you use all of them and have a more holistic approach, you will have a better rate of success. It's not hard, folks just need to think about how one thing affects the other.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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