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Spirogyra and eleocharis belem

Discussion in 'Algae Control' started by Matt F., Mar 29, 2010.

  1. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi, All!

    I am a bit worried.

    Three weeks into my start-up, I notice strands of green algae attached to the substrate, rocks, eleocharis belem, and the sides of the aquarium.

    Here are the tank's specs:
    The tank is 3 weeks old.
    55 Gallon Aquarium 48x13x20"
    CO2 Injected 6 bps, also I dose excel
    Daily water changes during the first two weeks, now I am down to 50% 1x week.
    ADA Aquasoil substrate with Power Sand.
    Currently I have one Eheim 2028 w/ hydor eth 300 watt heater (flow turned down)
    I will add my established Eheim 2026 after the aquasoil cycles.
    I have dosed 1/2 tsp K2SO4 3x per week
    AFA Archaea 48" T5HO 2x54 watt 6000K (german bulbs and reflector)
    Photoperiod: 6-7 hours per day


    Something I notice about the new E Belem growth:

    the new growth/runners are taller than the mother plants.

    What do I need to do to PREVENT the spirogyra (Or thread algae) from getting worse???

    Any help would be appreciated.:cool:
     
    #1 Matt F., Mar 29, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2010
  2. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    After reading a whole bunch of good stuff on the topic, I have decided to make a few changes. Please offer advice, critique, etc:

    1) I'm going to remove and trim a majority of the algae tomorrow.
    2) I'm going to do a 50%+ water change to get rid of the excess nutrients. I started to dose EI today with macros (despite the fact that my tank is NOT heavily planted). The E. Belem is sitting on a nice bed of fresh aquasoil (no need for nutrients while the aquasoil is still releasing NH3.
    3) I'm going to do shorter lighting periods for this next week. I decided that 108 watts of T5HO is plenty.
    4) Should I dose GH booster and excel?
    5) I'm going to lower CO2 from 6 bps to 3-4.
    6) circulation is an issue (I can't turn up my 2028, and my 2026 is on my other tank).

    What do you all think?
     
  3. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    ADA AS is tricky during the start up, especially if you don't have many plants as you said. The soil releases ammonia that triggers algae.

    Dosing EI won't worsen the things, but I'm not sure it will help with AS as it is mineralised already. Tom even suggests dosing half EI or not whith this soil when algae issues I think. In anycase, I don't think it will do harm. Maybe more expierienced people with this soil will help better here.

    Lowering CO2 is a bad idea though. It won't harm unless you have fish and will just ensure plants have enough CO2. Optimizing CO2 is very important, read the topics here. Use a drop checker, target a lime-green to yellow tint and increase it watching for fish if you have in the tank. Having a good flow is another point

    In addition to optimizing CO2 diffusion and flow, planting the tank densely with fast growing stems is the most important part when starting a tank in my opinion. They are the best ammonia consumers.

    Another option that will help for sure is getting some masses from your cycled 2026 into your uncycled 2028. Established bacteria will help removing ammonia.

    Keep also with frequent 70-80% WC, 2-3 times a week until problems solve.

    Lowering light (by removing reflectors or putting the luminaire higher if possible) or reducing photoperiod to 6-8h will also help. You can increase light later when algae is controlled

    Other options with this soil will be a cycling without plants, light and fish.
     
  4. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    Are you sure it's spirogyra?

    I think most filamentous algae happening in the startup period of ADA soil is Rhizoclonium.
    Easier than Spirogyra, when things settled down it'll be gone. ADA recommends changing
    water 2-3 times a week in the startup period.

    If it's really Spirogyra, flow and CO2 are your friend. I won it (hooray!).
     
  5. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks to both of you.

    I've already established a tank with HC and Eleocharis Acicularis. There is a bit of algae on start-up, but once things balance out, it becomes manageable.

    In this case, some of the eleocharis belem that I started with was infected with spyrogyra (thin, robust, long filiments that are hard to remove from leaves, substrate, hardscape, etc.). I've dealt with hair algae before, and aside from upping CO2 and current, you don't have to do much.

    This is much different.

    So far...

    I spent a few hours cleaning the tank of infected leaves. I trimmed all the dead leave and those that are infected. I used tweezers to remove a majority of the spiro after cutting them from the source. Some of the spiro was attached to the aquasoil substrate. I pulled that out of the tank, too.

    I have reduced CO2 to 3 bps and decreased Excel (from 20 ml after a water change to 5ml). I have a feeling that spirogyra loves CO2.
    I dosed a bit of K (1/4 tsp of K2SO4) after the waterchange. I will hold off on EI since my tank isn't planted heavily. I was sucessful growing HC (semi-slow grower) just dosing Brighty K (Potassium Sulfate?) for the first few months. Plants did well.

    80-90% of the sprirogyra is in the trash. Most infected leaves have been removed. I have eliminated ferts except lowered levels of CO2 and lowered levels of excel. I will also reduce photoperiod from 7 hours per day to 5-6.


    About the CO2 situation...

    I heart that spirogyra loves the same conditions as plants. This being said, I would assume that it is true that spirogyra loves CO2, just as plants do (hence increasing it's ability to photosynth and grow). If I reduce CO2, the growth rate should slow down. Will spirogyra be able to metabolize Excel just as plants do, or should I switch over to excel dosing exclusively? I heard only higher plants are able to metabolize Excel.

    any suggestions?
     
  6. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    All algae is photosynthetic, and all of them have lower CO2 requirements than plants. Ever seen a stiff stem on algae? The need to support structure? Calcium is a small part of plant structure, but it's mostly carbon doing the work. Algae thrives off low CO2 because it has a fraction of the requirement. I'm betting an increase of CO2 will help your plants to compete better. Backing off the dosing hasn't helped to control algae either. If you try to push the equilibrium back on one sort of algae, there's another one to take its place. If you go back to a balanced dosing, there's always spores hanging around to spring back up. With non-limiting nutrients and CO2 creating light limiting growth, algae seems to disappear every time.

    Spirogyra likely won't respond to excel; it tends to be the red algaes that are more sensitive. If you want to try really kicking it around with the stuff, kill all your filters, spot treat a full dose in one small area, and wait a good 10 minutes before turning the filter back on. If it's not turning white after a couple days of that, then excel isn't an option.

    If you haven't cleaned your filter lately, give it a try; NH4 buildup will do all kinds of nasty things to encourage algae.
     
  7. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    Dan,

    Thanks for the input. I am familiar with the concepts of EI. I've also battle many different types of easy algae.

    This algae seems a bit different. NH3+4 are high in the tank now (this is an aquasoil start-up). I am dosing K2SO4 which, iirc is the only needed nutrient in the aquasoil routing for a 3-week old tank. The filter is clean and needs a full colony of nitrifying bacteria.

    I need more biomass from the eleocharis belem and I need more circulation in the left side of the tank. less light and higher CO2 levels in the water. I'll keep dosing Excel in addition to injected CO2.

    What throws me off about this algae is that it seems to do well in high CO2 situations (gas and excel). Since the plants are just starting off, the algae is reigning king. I expect that to be the case, but I want to ERADICATE the spyrogyra from the existing plants. I realize we can't prevent spores, but some of the plants I planted were infected unbeknownst to me.

    Cutting off the infected leaves has left the tank 80-90% spirogyra free.
     
  8. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you take the average look over a tank, you'd think BBA does well in high CO2 conditions when everything is dosed properly too. That's how algae competition goes; the limiting nutrient at hand always induces the algae designed to take advantage of it.

    At the same time though, NH4 pushes out algae like nothing else. It's hard to really have a grounded opinion unless you can compare two identical systems with and without NH4.

    Running aquasoil with full EI dosing on fill day won't hurt anything, and you won't have to be concerned with limiting column nutrients from all the water changes required to keep the NH4 in check.

    To be honest, 2x54w is excessively high light; it's a challenge to provide enough CO2 for that level of light, let alone keeping up with the pruning. You could alternate between two bulbs on the 1/3 mark and have a tank that you don't need to worry so much about CO2 in. A tank like that is equivalent to running 3.24wpg of T8. For the first 3 months your bulbs are going to also be cranking out 50% higher output; make that about 4.8wpg of T8 equivalence. I'm guessing when you say AFA Achaea and German 6000K, you mean Geissman bulbs with at least semi-parabolic reflectors. I run the same bulbs; you don't need both on to get results. One at a time alternating will do just fine, throw in some bursts if you like. If they're spaced all of 1-2 inches apart, try to return the fixture. You can buy a hood and retrofit in a couple of Sunblaze T5's (made by Sunlight Supply, the people who make Tek lighting) into it for what George Lo likely charged you, and you'll have better spread. You'll even get Geissman 6000K bulbs and some half decent reflectors.

    While you're back at the store, look over his tanks. He's a nice guy, a brilliant aquascaper, and he grows some nice plants. Unfortunately his tanks on non-show days (from the bit I've seen) have more algae in them than most of us would accept even with neglect.
     
    #8 Philosophos, Mar 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2010
  9. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    double post
     
    #9 Matt F., Mar 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2010
  10. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi, Dan-

    I'm suprised to read that 2x54 watts of T5HO is "excessively high light." I would assume that if I bought the retrofit kit you suggest with the same T5HO bulbs and better reflectors (tek?) my light would be even more intense...what would be the upside to doing this?

    I think part of the problem is that I started with some infected plants. Aside from the spirogyra, I do not have much if any algae. Part of my problem is a lack of plant biomass and aquasoil.

    FWIW, I carpeted a 20 Long with HC under 62 watts of T5HO. I used EI and 2-3 bps of CO2. Didn't get any algae whatsoever over the course of many months.

    The lack of circulation on one side of my tank (other eheim is on a tank with the 55's future inhabitants), the fact that I started with infected plants (emersed growth), and a lack of plant biomass all caused me to spend a few hours trimming and doing water changes. At this point if I add nutrients to the water column, I will just be feeding the spirogyra which has the upper hand (can zero in on nutrients, CO2, and other goodies more easily).

    My question (wanting to work with what I have): why not let the aquasoil provide most all of the nutrients (with the exception of K) while the plant grows biomass. Then, when the plant is fully established, increase water column ferts?

    I grew HC from 1-2 stem grid plantings into a carpet prior to my knowing about EI. I just dosed ADA brighty K (Potassium) and did frequent water changes.
     
  11. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    btw here is a pic a few days after planting:

    whole tank..jpg
     
  12. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    I agree with all that was said. Continue dosing EI and do the water changes will let you focus on light and CO2 balance. Then, accept the fact that with AS you'll have algae for few months until things are stable. Just remove algae and prune too much infected plants. Often, with time and not too much interventions on the aquarium balance, things go fine.


    PS: I understand now, tank started with really no plants. Make it fully green from the start. Once algae is gone in few months, replace fast growing stems with what you like: much less expensive on the long run as having expensive plants melting all the time from algae costs a lot
     
  13. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you bought the two retrofit kits I'm suggesting, you'd have the opportunity for better spread. The reflectors might be a bit better, but you'd only be running one at a time alternating between the two so that you have light coming in from two different angles throughout the day, which offers better coverage to the lower parts of your plants.

    All plants are "infected" algae spores are all over the place, and always have the potential to grow. All we do is try to prevent that from happening. Think of it like ich... or athletes foot.

    You can run a tank on tons of light and not get algae depending on how you treat the tank. It's a little hard to get an objective look at why your 20 long worked if it's not running right now.

    Running off your substrate only is presuming that plants only uptake through their roots. Plants uptake many nutrients through passive diffusion through their stomata found all over the stem and leaves. Why ignore the possibility to deliver nutrients to the entire plant? Given how few nutrients algae needs to continue growth, why feed the algae while starving the plants?

    You can do ADA dosing, and yes you can run a lean PO4 limited column. This is not going to prevent algae unless you're using a phosban reactor or similar. The equilibrium point for algae is far lower from any plant. Keep in mind that HC is also relatively little plant considering how much they have for roots, and if you push a steady growth rate out then you aren't giving much surface area for algae to take hold; trimming removes developing algae before it has a chance. It's also very easy to hit non-limiting CO2 if all you're growing is a carpet of HC.

    Try ADA out with stems where the bottoms can hang around for months or years as the plant is repeatedly pruned. For that matter, try keeping a tank running on ADA dosing for more than a year without replacing the substrate. The ADA method isn't designed to make a sustainable (or reasonably priced) tank, which is what many of us are after. It doesn't tend to hold out against algae long-term either; I've seen enough ADA tanks not on show day over at AquaticQuotient to say that the ADA system leaves people chasing algae a whole lot more. This site has had an influx of their members at times, most of them asking how to get rid of their algae problems.

    I'm honestly not sure why people fear dosing the column so much given the success that has been had with heavy dosing. It's not like it's expensive or anything, especially if you've been paying for ADA fertilizers in the past.

    After seeing the picture, I would recommend that you increase your plant density; more plants from the start creates a much more stable system.
     
  14. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks Dan for the clarification. I agree that the ADA fert regime does not do well long term. I used EI on my 20L with HC, which worked out well. The plants really colored up nicely, and they looked much healthier. I plan on dosing EI with this tank after it is established with enough plant mass, which is something that I am lacking.

    I'm focusing on water changes, excel, non-limiting CO2, water circulation, potassium sulfate, GH booster, and 5 hour light periods for now. This seems to be keeping the spirogyra at bay (from rearing its ugly head).

    That tank shot was taken about three weeks ago. Runners are going in every direction, and the plants are still growing like crazy.

    FWIW I has an 18" Archaea light over my 10 gallon planted tank (with aquasoil, etc). This light was so intense that I had several bouts of thread, hair, and BGA.
     
  15. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    This is the third day of manual removal of the strands. For those strands I cannot pull off, I cut the whole leaf. I hope this is putting a hurt on the algae. 95-98% of it is gone. I've done daily water changes while doing this. I've dosed potassium sulfate, co2 gas and excel. The sprirogyra doesn't seem to be comming back fast at all.

    surgical removal is working, I think!
     
  16. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    My experience with this kind of algae is frequent manual removal doesn't help.
    But removing it while changing water is not too much a hassle.

    I found that when I change water flow pattern, used to be spray bar pointed
    upward, now change to downward 45 degree, to increase overall flow around
    the tank and decrease CO2 loss. There were less and less Spirogyra to remove
    every week. It's slow process, taking about 4-6 weeks.

    Well, my main point is manual removal didn't help for me, changing the
    environment in the tank did.
     
  17. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    With algae in general , manual removal alone will never help, unless done forever. You always have to optimize tank conditions that are favoring algae to favor plants instead
     
  18. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    I get that in order to prevent algae, everything has to be in optimum conditions. 98% of the spirogyra (that was attached to the leaves and substrate) has been manually removed, surgically. The remaining spyrogyra has not decided to grow at all since the last time I worked on the tank. The remaining threads are wilting.

    I think the spirogyra growth was catalyzed by the AS's ammonia/ammonium release and the lack of plant biomass. Now that the plants are filling in nicely and i am doing frequent water changes (coupled with the manual removal for a few days), the algae has been put in check.

    So far, no new growth!
     
  19. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Great news, keep us informed. By the way, my post didn't mean that manual removal is useless. It is very useful, but alone, it won't make it as algae grow very quickly. But I see that you fully got it :)
     
  20. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi, Johnny-

    After a few days of 98-99% spirogyra free living, I am afraid it has grown back mainly on thr hardscape (rocks) in my tank. I have removed these long threads with a toothbrush and tweezers. My ammonia dropped to .25ppm, so today I started dosing KNO3.

    The plants have a few strands growing, but not like before.

    I've heard that this algae goes away on its own in time...do you think this is the case?

    I have also addes stem plants to the background.

    My lighting period these past two days have been up to 6 hours (maybe the cause of the spiro growth). Prior to this I was doing only 5 hours, and there wasn't that much growth.

    This stuff is a tough algae to get rid of.
     
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