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Still getting BBA but I can't figure out why

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by mike, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. mike

    mike Guru Class Expert

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    I have a 33G tank that still has a slight BBA problem :confused:, about 3 to 4 weeks after a new leaf appears I’ll start to see BBA and by month 3 I’m cutting it off. This happen to my Anubias, sage and fern leaves.

    Here are my tank specs

    33G – inert substraight. The tank temp is about 78 to 80 degrees

    Filtration is a Fluval 405 using a spray bar pointing slightly up. I have a decent ripple. I also have a Korolia 450 pointing across the tank. I see the plants sway in all areas of the tank.

    CO2 is injected via a Rio 800 with a needle wheel, it’s fed into a spray bar lying on the substraight across the tank and it only comes on when the CO2 comes on.

    Lighting is 1 x 39w T5HO with no reflector but it’s in a DIY light box painted white and it’s about 8 inches above the water surface. I figure that’s medium light.

    Plants are nothing hard to grow. Anubias nana (3 x) barteri (2x), Java Fern (2x), Rotala Indica, Hygrophila difformis, Java moss, Sagittaria.

    KH is 4.75 dKH and PH starts at 7.2 (using a PH Meter)

    I start injecting CO2 about 2 hours before the lights come on. When the lights come on the PH reading is at 6.7. According to the charts, which I know are not accurate, my CO2 is in the mid to high 30 ppm. By the time my lights go off, about 7 hours later, the PH is 6.4, which indicated CO2 is in the mid to high 40 ppms.

    EI dosing using wets calculator to make solutions.

    KNO3 solution that gives 7.5 mg/l of NO3 (3x per week)
    KH2PO4 solution that gives 1.3 mg/l of PO4 (3x per week)
    CSM+B solution that give 0.5 mg/l of Fe (3x per week)

    Other than the BBA I find I’m losing more Hygrophila difformis leaves that normal. The ones that come off don’t show any deficiency. I’m assuming that it’s due to the proximity of the spray bar on the substraight being close to the Hygro.

    Can anyone see why I’m still getting BBA?

    Thanks

    Mike
     
  2. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    There's only one reason: CO2.

    You know it, but still you use it ;)

    It's more important to have your CO2 high in the morning. With an unregulated system it's more difficult to start with a high value in the morning and keep it like that. What you could do is program an on-off cycle with your timer, this way you can maintain the high bubble rate you need to get the CO2 up to the level you want, and the on-off cycle to keep a steady level. You can do this by starting full on until the CO2 level is ok and then an on-off cycle of 15 minutes. Measure the pH during the day and correct accordingly until you have the desired setting. This will give you a more consistent CO2 level.

    If you have materials in the tank that influence pH, the chart is useless. Also the measurements might be off. If pH is 0,1 more than you measure you're already off by 10 ppm, if KH is 0,5 off that's another 5 ppm. So your 30 ppm might be just 15 ppm. A good drop checker might help a bit.
     
  3. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    I wonder how well the dissolved organics are being handled? Have you got many fish in the tank? Perhaps the Fluval isn't coping?
     
  4. mike

    mike Guru Class Expert

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    So is it better to try and ramp up to a PH of about 6.3 at lights on and then slowly come down to 6.7 by end of day by cycling to CO2 off and on as you suggest?

    What is a regulated system? Do you mean using a PH Controller?

    Scott, I have 3 Zebra Loaches, 4 ottos, 5 cardinal tetras and about 20 live bearers. I just flooded my 125G tank and in about 3 weeks I’ll be moving most of the fish to the 125G. I will keep by 33G going with shrimp and red phantom tetras.

    I know the live bearers cause a heavy bio load but I do weekly 50% to 60% water changes.

    In any case, I’ll start to bump up the PH in the morning and ramp it down throughout the lighting period.

    Thank you both for your input.

    Mike
     
  5. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Try to keep it at 6.3 throughout the day, you can switch CO2 off one hour before lights switch off.

    Yes. Some people love them, some don't ;)
     
  6. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    I would not advise ramping down throughout the lighting period. An hour or so prior to end of main photoperiod is fine, but you want to keep the c02 CONSISTENT and STABLE as possible. Ramping c02 down while plants are engaged in photosynthesis is not advisable IMO :)

    Many of us find that at close to a full point drop of the ph is needed. So, starting at 7.4 say just prior to c02 on should result in 6.4 and a good start. Ensure of course the fish and critters are not stressed at this point...
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    The pH drop methods works....if............the degassing is complete each night.
    This is also an unknown and often was not the case till I switched to all wet/dry filtration.

    I had 10-20ppm CO2 left 12-14 hours later.
     
  8. mike

    mike Guru Class Expert

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    That may be a problems then. I checked my PH this morning, 9 hours after it's been off, and my PH is 6.9. It normally goes up to 7.2, it still has about 8 hours to go before it turns back on but I won't be home to check.

    Also, how do people raise their PH/KH. Right now I'm using baking soda to maintain my PH at 7.2. I have also heard people put a little bit of crushed coral in the filter, is this better than the baking soda?

    Thank you,

    Mike
     
  9. Seattle_Aquarist

    Seattle_Aquarist Guru Class Expert

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    Hi Mike,

    When Christel Kasselmann did her presentation here last Saturday she mentioned that she thinks there is a relationship between BBA and excessive Iron. You might try a 50% water change and cut back on the CSM+B and see if BBA slows down.

    My Siamese Algae Eaters (Crossocheilus oblongus) eat Black Brush Algae (BBA) but only after I have weakened it with Excel or Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2).
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    If there is a relationship, what defines excess Fe?I want specific values............

    I'd also like to know why my tanks lack BBA.
    Since I dose 1-2 ppm per week of Fe.
    Falsifies the claim.

    Still, if the plants are not growing due to poor CO2.............then there is no need to dose 0.5ppm 3x a week.
    If the tank have less light, same thing also applies.
    But in a low light tank with good CO2, dosing Fe low or high should not cause an issue either way.

    If so, then there is an obvious lack of control in the test.
    Eg, there is dependency on other factors.
     
  11. pejerrey

    pejerrey Prolific Poster

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    My 2 cents:

    I would make sure that there is enough surface agitation (no splashing) to provide enough oxygen so you can properly provide well distributed co2 without suffocating the fish.

    Forget about the chart, look at the tank.

    once you rule out co2, then see what other limiting factors you may have.

    I'm fairly new at this but I haven't yet found a credible example of algae growth caused by excess of something besides light.

    You can blame it on excess of light or lack of co2, whatever you want to call it, for the most part. For me, call it either way.... it's the same.

    If there is lack of macros or micros you will see deficiencies (assuming light/co2 are good).

    If you really don't want/can't increase or improve the co2, try shortening the photoperiod or raising the lights or both. This will decrease the need for co2.

    Switch to EI levels or method if you are changing that much water anyways, that way you will know is not the ferts.
     
    #11 pejerrey, Sep 22, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2012
  12. Marcel G

    Marcel G Banned

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    I have a similar problem with BBA. I have read already that a lack of CO2 should be the cause.

    I don't use any pH controller so it's hard for me to keep constant CO2 levels during the day. But I have raised the CO2 supply to the level my critters behaved weirdly (so after that I just cut down the supply a little = I can't go any further). That means for me that the CO2 supply should be at maximum level (so if I had pH controller the level could not go any further, even though the pH controller can keep a steady level, which I can't without using one). So how can it be I/we have a lack of CO2 in my/our tanks? Is it really so important to keep CONSISTENT & STABLE CO2 level? It's hard to believe that. I know of some tanks using lesser CO2 supply (and about the same lights + ferts volumes) having no problems with BBA. Also I have one nano tank (60L) where I don't have ANY critter, so practically no bioload. At the substrate I have 40-60 umol PAR (measured by Apogee MQ-200 PAR meter). I have very good flow, and CO2 bubbles are carried by the flow directly to my hairgrass. But despite this there is BBA on the eleocharis. How is this possible? Because the CO2 bubbles are flowing through the grass constantly, they should have enough CO2 (much more then elsewhere). Also the hairgrass is growing quite well (as well as other plants). There are no deformations on plants. All have good color. Nearly all of them are pearling. Still the BBA is growing on some of them (especially on the hairgrass). Does anyone know how can that be?

    PS: Also I forgot to mention that I dose EasyLife EasyCarbo to this tank (besides the CO2 supply from my pressurized CO2 set).

    Also I have spoke with two experts on algae on Charles University in Prague, and they told me that in the freshwater aquariums the algae there are not in the form of spores (that is very rare), but in the form of vegetative cells. So the whole debate of "what causes the spores germination" seems to be meanigless. The question should stay in a way "what the vegetative cells need to grow?". And if it is the same as with plants, they need just light and nutrients.
     
    #12 Marcel G, Sep 27, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2012
  13. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    Low O2 + Fluctuating CO2 + Dissolved Organics = BBA

    Don't get LOW and FLUCTUATING CO2 mixed up - they are not the same thing.

    I had very bad BBA problems in my tank a few years ago, it is a lot better now, as a result of doing 3 things:
    Increasing surface turbulence + increasing flow through my CO2 reactor to help smooth out the CO2 supply + adding an extra canister filter to handle dissolved organics.

    I still have a bit of BBA here and there, but it's not too bad now.

    Futher addressing the 3 points above, I think I could knock it out completely by:
    Using a sump instead of O2 "hogging" canisters + replacing my single stage regulator with a dual stage regulator + Using large biological filtration area in sump (plenty of O2) to get rid of all the dissolved organics.

    I think that would sort it out once and for all.

    It will be the combination of those three things above, I'm almost certain of it.

    Perhaps we could knock together a simple table of tanks that have BBA and tanks that don't and see how the above three points check out?

    Scott.
     
  14. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    I can easily induce BBA if CO2 is at a low level when the lights turn on. This is also the problem of most unregulated CO2 systems. Setting the system at a steady rate, it greatly falls short of reaching the optimal level when the lights turn on, when plants seem to need it the most. This is why I previously mentioned to use a high bubble rate, reach the desired CO2 level fast, and then cut it back by switching the system on/off regularly with a timer.

    You could ask the experts about the Ankistrodesmus genus (GDA), maybe they want to reconsider their opinion... ;) Also I think that spores are mainly used as figure of speach for things that float around.
     
  15. mike

    mike Guru Class Expert

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    Dutchy,

    As per your recommendation I started doing this one week ago. My PH goes from about 7.2 just before the CO2 comes on an it's about 6.4 when the lights come on. About 30 minutes after the lights come on I start to cycle the CO2 off and on every 15 minutes. By doing this I'm maintaining a PH of about 6.3 through the photo period. I then turn off the CO2 about 30 minutes before lights off and at about the same time the lights go off I start a powerhead to gas off the CO2.

    I'm visually monitoring some new plant growth for BBA. In the past I would start seeing some about 3 - 4 weeks later so it's too early to tell if the BBA will stop. One thing I did notice is my plants seem to have a deeper color, is that because the higher CO2 levels are causing the plants to me more efficient with nutrient uptake?

    In any case, I'm now also fighting a Diatom outbreak in my newly setup 125G (not the tank with BBA). I'm going to get about 20 ottos this weekend to help. It's my understanding that a Diatom outbreak is common in a newly setup tank with a soil substraight and that it will go away with frequent water changes and time. So I guess I wait. I will be posting some pics of my 125G shortly.

    Thank you for all that you guys do to help.

    Mike
     
  16. captnphil

    captnphil Junior Poster

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    Isnt 39w low level light for your tank?
    Adding Co2 to low light with slow growing plants in an overpopulated aqua. Why do you get algea.
    And did you test your tap water for phos that wouldn't help on a 50% wc.




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  17. mike

    mike Guru Class Expert

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    I believe it was because I had very little CO2 in the tank at lights on, probably less than 10ppm and ramping up to 25 to 30 PPM about 4 to 5 hours after lights on. Right now, given my PH readings, I would say I have about 25ppm at lights on, which should be sufficient for the amount of light I have. From what I understand, BBA is caused by fluctuating CO2 during the early stages of the photo period.

    The Phosphates out if the tap are unreadable and the water report shows it at .007mg/l. I would say that is a non-issue.

    Mike

    Mike
     
  18. hbosman

    hbosman Guru Class Expert

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    I've finally won the BBA battle and as it has been said, it must have been a CO2 fluctuation issue. I would slowly increase the CO2 bubble rate over a course of days until it looked like the Cardinal Tetras were breathing heavily. I would assume that was my highest CO2 level and yet I still would have BBA growing on the equipment, substrate and back glass. I tried lowering light levels, turning on the CO2 even earlier in the morning and still no success. Since I had surface scum issues as well, I raised the Koralia water pump towards the surface to get rid of the surface scum. I noticed then that the Cardinals breathing reduced and the drop checker looked more greenish then yellowish. I increased the CO2 wanting to see more yellow and over the following weeks noticed my BBA wasn't coming back after it was manually removed.

    What you might want to try is, when you have think you have the CO2 at its highest safe level for your most sensitive fish, increase the surface turbulence and when the fish look happy, increase the CO2 even more. Watch the speed of the gill movement of your fish. When it appears faster then normal, increase surface turbulence. If the gill speed slows down, increase the CO2 a little more. Use a drop checker to get you to the starting point, use the fish gills to fine tune the final amount. Adjust using the needle valve and surface movement. Keep in mind, fish will adjust to higher CO2 levels so you should do a 50% water change before introducing new fish. Over the next day or two, the new fish will adjust to your normal CO2 levels.

    I'm thinking CO2 absorption in water might not be linear. It takes a high bubble rate to get the CO2 to sufficient levels in the morning but maintaining that level would be dangerous so off gasing it with surface turbulence keeps the rate of increase in check. My bubble rate is a continuous stream for 8 hours, uncountable yet, 5 lbs still lasts 3 months on a 57 gallon aquarium. So CO2 cost hasn't gone up enough to notice and my surface scum and BBA are seriously reduced.

    Anyway, this is what worked for me. Do we have a new acronym? gfps (gill flaps per second) :)
     
    #18 hbosman, Sep 28, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 28, 2012
  19. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I have a lot of Hair grass in my 70 Gallon and in my old 60 Gallon cube, never once had BBA on the grass.
    I've added vegetative cells from other tanks, and BBA got all over the wood in the 60 Gal at one point, but then easily wetn away after CO2 was corrected.

    So while they feel it is rare, in the context of the planted tank and CO2 enrichment, I do not think they have looked specifically at these cases.
    Tertaspores and other vegetative cell release needs to occur for it to take over and and spread, and new hold fast need to happen for a bloom to occur.

    I'm not sure they can say this as we have witnessed many cases of blooms and new rapid holdfast development in aquariums with plants.
    Perhaps the veg cells can do this alone.........but something induces that behavior regardless of the type of propagule being discussed.

    So it is far from meaningless.
    The observations do not match their claim and there's no other explanation offered.
     
  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    "Propagules" might be a better more general term.
    "Sprouting" of those cells might be a better term than germination, which is more specific to seeds and since algae do not have seeds...........
     
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