Red/BBA & Experimental Fertilizing

freshgoby

Junior Poster
Jan 8, 2007
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AKA Lots of Issues and Wondering If I Should Start Over Fresh

I've had an ongoing problem with what I believe is Red algae/Black Beard algae.
It is definitely a dark red, attaches to the edges of my plant leaves, the intake tube of my filter, and coats the open areas of substrate in colors of black, green, and red. It does not grow long, but is more like a slime coat that adheres so well to the point that I have to use my fingernail to scrape it off of the filter intake tube. If I turn over the substrate it comes back within a week.

I'm wondering what I'm doing wrong – though I have a few guesses. Please let me know if my hypothesis and proposed answers are headed in the right direction.

For several months now I've been trying a lot of things with my tank to find a way to fertilize that is inexpensive and works. I've placed Osmocote 14-14-14 pellets, Jobes plant spikes for ferns, and Highland Rim pond tablets in the substrate – all have had some sort of result in boosting and sustaining growth, but I think certain kinds of nitrogen in the ferts are undesirable and can cause algae blooms if I kick up the substrate – so I try not to. However, when I placed the pond ferts in the tank, I kicked up a lot of crap and had an ammonia and nitrate spike and crazy growth from my plants (plus a small red/brown-algae bloom for the first week). The whole spike lasted about two and a half weeks.

I loved the growth I got and that got me interested in dosing individual ferts – so now I'm playing with EI. The earlier spike and plant growth had me thinking KNO3 was my limiter, so last week I dosed a ½ tsp and the nitrates went up but plant growth wasn't what I got after the pond-fert accident. By the end of the week I had a slight bloom of GDA on the tank walls. I'm planning on getting KH2PO4 now and dosing EI to create a constant among the 7-billion variables of aquarium keeping.

I do weekly 40% water changes. GH has been consistent at 8°, and after the water change KH is up at 5°. Unfortunately I have not been testing to see what the KH is at the end of the week before the water change.

I do not add Excel as of right now. I used to in the past but never saw a difference in growth.

Questions:
Since the ferts are in the substrate, I was wondering: Is the reason I get the red algae because of my high-lighting low-CO2 setup? And/Or the lack of consistency in fertilizing my water?

I'm concerned about all the stuff I've put in my substrate, and what it could screw up if I decide to re-arrange my tank. At this point should I tear down my tank and start over clean with EI dosing and making my own substrate fert tabs?
 

VaughnH

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Jan 24, 2005
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Low CO2, especially if it is erratic CO2 ppm in the water, does lead to BBA. And, Excel does kill BBA, at least when dosed at 1.5X the recommended dosage. That's been my experience. High light intensity encourages both faster plant growth and faster algae growth.
 

freshgoby

Junior Poster
Jan 8, 2007
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Okay, so I've been doing reading all day on CO2 and I've been thinking.

What if I tear down my tank, clean out all the algae and ferts in the substrate and...
#1. Set-up a DIY CO2 yeast-injection hooked up to barr's venturi reactor
AND
#2. Dose with EI and my own hand-rolled ferts?

Good Plan?
(Tearing down the tank sounds really drastic though...)
 

VaughnH

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The hand rolled ferts? Can you smoke them?:D

Seriously, why not just use EI and not do the substrate fertilizing? It isn't necessary.
 

freshgoby

Junior Poster
Jan 8, 2007
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I read these articles (see links below) and thought it might be possible to make substrate tabs. That's what I meant by hand-rolled. If I'm wrong I'm wrong but if it's possible I still think it would be cool to make them.

Practical PMDD Information

How To Dose Plantex CSM + B

Anyway, I think I'm going to order the rest of the ferts and clean out the tank when they come in and start dosing EI. Tomorrow I'll get some Excel...it's just too d*mn cold today.
 

jerime

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Jan 23, 2005
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The DIY co2 is also a major source for BBA, which in my experience, is the hardest algae to battle with. I've used DIY and finished with it after all sorts of algae came through, mainly the bba.
Use the pressurized system - it's better.

Excel does kill BBA if much overdosed (i've found it much higher than 1.5 times). It will also kill some of the plants as well...

Good fert regime (EI) and pressurized system will help you clean off the BBA in your tank.
 

Frolicsome_Flora

Guru Class Expert
Jan 12, 2007
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If you have a REALLY bad problem, maybe consider doing a 3 blackout as per Tom's guidlines. Then, when your ready to unwrap the tank, make sure your dosing EI fully and have stable CO2.. thatll be as good as pretty much starting over.

Although a 4 day blackout didnt shift my BBA caused from my hit and miss DIY CO2 system. Now Im all stable again its certainly stopped getting any worse, soon Im hoping to see it back off a bit.

Might not be apropriate, but just a thought if you have a multitude of different types of algae.
 

freshgoby

Junior Poster
Jan 8, 2007
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The algae is not really bad. Just annoying. Like I said it covers the edges of leaves and the open areas of substrate enough for me to not like looking at those things and regretting pulling out some otherwise fine leaves.

I do have a birhday coming up and have been dreaming about a pressurized CO2 system since August...I've read that the cost is generally around $100 right?
 

Frolicsome_Flora

Guru Class Expert
Jan 12, 2007
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with pressurised CO2 its worth making sure you get a good setup. I made the mistake of going cheap to start with and had huge problems before sending it back, twice.

Our kits in the UK are more than yours over there, planted tanks are still very much a novelty here and hardly anyone catters for us properly, which is annoying to say the least.

Tom and Hoppy will be best to let you know what the rough costs would be State-side :) worth doing though, really alot. Well, essential in my opinion. Stable CO2 is probably the most important aspect, and the one that most mess up.
 

VaughnH

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I don't think you can get a new pressurized CO2 system for $100, but if you watch the for sale areas of as many forums as you can, and jump real quick when someone offers one for sale, you can get a used system for about that much. My Milwaukee regulator cost me about $75 as I recall, and the CO2 bottle was around $40 or so (on ebay), then another $15 to fill the CO2 bottle. It is hard to get a lot cheaper than that. I found that buying a used regulator on ebay seems much cheaper, but by the time I bought a needle valve and all of the various adapter fittings needed I spent much more than the Milwaukee regulator cost, and still didn't have a solenoid. (If you haven't figured it out yet, I tried to go cheap, but ended up paying double cost by buying lots of stuff I didn't use before buying the Milwaukee unit.)