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Thread algae

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by bsmith782, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. bsmith782

    bsmith782 Guru Class Expert

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    After doing some research on thread algae (later referred to as TA) I have found that there is not much info on the cause of it or even a remedy for the algae other than pulling it out manually. It also appears to not have so much to do with co2 levels and light as much as every other algae does. I have had this pest for awhile but after it becomes thick I usually just take out as much as possible and also remove any hardware it is on and give the pieces a thorough scrubbing. Still it persists.

    During my search online I came across an interesting blog where the person made a correlation relating the algae with strong current, high silicates and high phosphates. Its an interesting read nonetheless. Here it is below.

    http://wetplantlogic.com/wordpress/http:/wetplantlogic.com/wordpress/2009/03/21/thread-algae-woes-thread-algea-understood/

    Now to my tank and some specifics about it.

    37g, Catalina 24" 4x24w t5ho mounted on legs above the tank with a total of 6 hours photoperiod (later referred to as PP) and of the 6 hours only the last 2.5 are with both 2 bulb banks on, co2 injected inline Pre-Iwaki md-10L (installed to give the canister filter more power and break up co2 before canister) then to a Rena XP1 then to the tank, ADA AS I ammazonia sub (no abundance of silicates like play sand), koralia nano near but above filter outlet pointed at the surface for agitation and more flow throughout the tank. I have a drop checker in an area of the tank with the least flow/furthest from current source (filter otlet and XP1) that has 4dkh solution in it and is mountain dew colored for roughly 90% of the PP. tank is kept at 84 degrees and houses 3 discus, 13 cardinal tetras and 4 ottocinclus. I dose EI for a tank that sized and micros come through flourish, flourish Fe and CSM+b that has been mixed with Fe chelate and ferrous gluconate in a 3-1-1 ratio. Water for the tank comes from a RO/DI unit in my basement to which I dose grumpys GH booster to the whole tank on Sundays when I preform my weekly 50% WC.

    My plants are extremely vibrant and healthy with no algae on them except some slight TA on the tops of the taller sp. Some of the plants are L.pantanal, Synognanthus Madiera, polygonum Sao Paulo, Eriocaulon and a not to known Echinodorous Aflame/purple knight. Since my plants are all in great health and some of them are very dependent on good/high levels of co2 I'm going to have to say my drop checker is reading correct and co2 is in ample supply to the flora in the tank. Dosing EI by nature allows more nutrients then necessary so again it seems that's adequite. Fe is dosed not only in excess but with different chelators so this seems good.

    Which is why I posted this on this forum only. I do not want this thread to become inundated with hearsay or old myth that are abundance in this hobby. Hopefull we may be able to point out what exactly causes thus nuisance. So let's do this!
     
  2. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    The word thread algae is too generic. The one in your link, if I'm correct, is one with
    brown to greenish brown color, the thread feel a bit harder than rhizoclonium.
    I don't know the species name. I have it too, it loves current like BBA.
    But other green species like spirogyra, don't like strong current.
    Yep you can still find spirogyra in high flow area, but there will be less than
    in low flow area.
     
    #2 nipat, Jan 1, 2011
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  3. pat w

    pat w Member

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    I had a tough fight with Rhizo. In a new tank, for several weeks (into months) the tank looked like it had a serious, slimy, green, ZZTop beard lookin' thing going. I did what you're, cleaning as best I could, even removing the plants and 'combing' the Rhizo off each leaf; black outs; you name it. Then after a while the stuff just started to clear up and go away. I can't point my finger a any one thing I did, but I 'm glad its gone. Maybe some of the answer is is not something we can buy or do ... just add time.

    Pat
     
  4. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    IMO, this is YOUR main cause right here. Not saying about TA in general.

    That is a LOT of light for such a small tank. I would be careful about assuming you can maintain this level of c02 going forward even though, as you say, all is fine now.

    How long has the tank been setup this way with the light schedule and c02 rate?

    What 'more flow' exists?

    If high current is a suspect, could you not REDUCE the current to where some of the TA exists, change nothing else, and see if it makes a difference?

    Sorry, I have been on a 'no need for such high light' tour recently :)

    Hope this helps a bit.

    Pics????
     
  5. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Sorry if I missed something in the OP, but Steve's blog mentions light driving plant growth but never mentions if he reduced the levels to something more manageable. I am with Gerry, riding on the 'no need for high light' bus. "High light" plants do not need nearly the amount of light we think they do, when CO2 is provided. As I understand it, algae continue to grow at levels of light that inhibit plant growth, that excessive light favors algae growth over plant growth.

    There also seams to be an argument for reducing PO4 based on an erroneous assumption that plants can out compete algae for nutrients - never going to happen. Might it be that algae detect fluctuating levels of nutrients (PO4 in this case) and recognize the change as a sign to propagate? I really don't know, but I keep levels over 2ppm, dose 1ppm/day and have never experienced TA except for when I started this adventure, back before I added any fertilizer to my tank and had way to much light. Back then I had every algae there is. Now, all I have is a slowly diminishing BBA colony.

    Steve points to tanks that use EI and suffer from algae as if EI is the problem. I think a close look at those tanks would show that it is not. IME, light (too much), CO2 and water circulation are more likely guilty as charged.

    Q; Not sure if this is an issue but I notice Steve's chart indicates higher levels of Mg then Ca. Is this another problem or if both Ca and Mg are nonlimiting does it make any difference?
     
    #5 Tug, Jan 1, 2011
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  6. bsmith782

    bsmith782 Guru Class Expert

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    I'll take some pics today so maybe I can get an accurate id but for now TA seems to be about as specific as I can get.

    This is one of the thought provoking things about this algae, this tank has been run the same way as it us right now for over two years from the light to the filter/co2 system.

    Before I started using the koralia (about 18 months ago) I was using the canister with spraybar and was not satisfied with the way co2 enriched water was being circulated and from time to time would get BBA on some of my plants near the substrate. Now it have removed the spraybar, the filter output is in the left rear corner of tank with the flow directed towards the right front corner diagonally in relation to the output. The koralia is placed about 1/4 the total distance from back to the front near the back glass. Then pointed at the surface and also toward the center of the front of the tank (I know it's confusing I'll take pics in a bit). The nice thing about the koralia line of circ pumps is that they provide a very nice unidirectional flow patternthat does not blast one specific area.

    I'm not saying that I agree with the information the author of the blog believes to be the issues with what causes this algae rather it is just about the best documented indtance of someone battling it, sorry if that wasn't clear.

    I also am a firm believer that there is a serous overlighting problem in our hobby too. It blows my mind when I read a post by a beginner in this hobby who may have the same light/tank as I but are running it for 12 hours, are growing only java ferns and Anubis then to top it off they are using DIY co2 or Excel because their LFS said they would be fine ( I think we were all here at one point at the beginning of our relationships with this hobby). With this tank though; the PP is short and if you read my entire post about specific to lighting this tank you will see that the full power of the light is only on for 2.5 hours and this is during the last hours of the PP. This schedule was choosen after many different schedules had been tested than ditched. The main reasons for doing it this way is because at the end of the PP Co2 is at it's maximum saturation, O2 is at it's maximum saturation (due to the excess O2 given off by the plants) and also because this has shown the best plant development and causes the least algae of other shedules I have tried.

    I certainly do not agree with the author when it comes to dosing EI. Though his theory about PO4 I have no info to argue anything to the contrary.

    Like you (I believe) I use my plants as the indicator for conditions in the tank. Along with plants and some may lump algae into the plant group, though I don't; I see algae as an indicator for lack of something. In this tank I have no BBS whatsoever and only slight GSA on the glass. BBA IMO is the best indicator of too much light, not enough co2, not enough flow/circulation or a mix of all. GSA is a product of high light tanks even if you have the most balanced tank lighting/nutrient wise you will need to clean the glass after a while and this is just an aspect of having a high tech tanks I have accepted.

    PS- sorry if I missed anything. I'm replying on my phone and it's a pain to have to keep scrolling up and down to see the specific parts of a q that was asked. Just ask again if I missed it.
     
    #6 bsmith782, Jan 1, 2011
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  7. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    My Bad.

    I didn't mean to sound as if you did. If anything, your situation shows how even a subtle difference in water flow can effect algae.
     
  8. bsmith782

    bsmith782 Guru Class Expert

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    No worries just trying to be as clear as possible.

    I'm confident that the relationship between circulation of co2 enriched water and the development of BBA is pretty clear cut for sure.

    Are you saying that flow has something to do with TA, either the lack of or prominence of it?

    This is what I want to do in this (and really any thread I create that undoubtedly ends up with poor contributions by ppl who believe in the myths and urban legends Tom and other more scientific hobbyists have disproven) thread have intelligently developed hypothesis' being discussed then tested by the same sort of scrutiny that has reason and proof behind it. This may be why some ppl might think I try to be argumentitive or even slightly confrontational with some of my retorts but I promise that it is all on the search for truth in our hobby that will hopefully help many ppl in the end.
     
  9. bsmith782

    bsmith782 Guru Class Expert

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    Okay here are some pics I just took with my phone.

    FTS
    [​IMG]

    Left
    [​IMG]

    Right (the pantanal looks like that because of the flow)
    [​IMG]

    Nice and healthy
    [​IMG]
    There is no BBA at all on the lower leafes of the P.Sao Paulo which is not easy to keep at bay.
    [​IMG]

    This is where the bulk of the algae resides/emanates from the sponge prefilter on the intake of the canister.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a pic showing the filter output and koralia.
    [​IMG]

    I have found that by creating a good amount if surface agitation I am able to put quite a bit more co2 into the water since there is also much more o2 in the water too. One of the nice things about having a pressurized system with a great needle valve. All I have to do it turn up the bubble count to account for the co2 that is lost due to off gassing then I can go a decent amount above that without even the slightest hint of distress from the Discus, Otos or the Cardinals.

    Edit/PS- I have found that with BBA and this algae itvseems to prefer nonliving substrates to grow on. Like BBA on hardscapes (rocks or DW) equipment in the tank like filter pipes or a heater. I'm sure there is a proper explanation for this I just don't have it.
     
    #9 bsmith782, Jan 1, 2011
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  10. ibanezfrelon

    ibanezfrelon Guru Class Expert

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    Hi Bsmith!

    It looks to me that this Koralia pointed to the surface like this could be degassing way too much co2.
     
  11. bsmith782

    bsmith782 Guru Class Expert

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    Hello Ibanez (I have a guitar with the same name!). I actually covered all of that above but perhaps it was lost in all the other info so I will go over it again.

    I have the koralia pointed like that purposely for quite a few reasons that I feel are crucial in planted tanks, especially high light tanks like the one being discussed here. With high light/high nutrient tanks there is a much smaller window you need to be in for things to work as they should. I think of it like this analogy. It's like the difference between driving 20 mph in the snow and driving 100 mph in the snow, when driving faster even small things can cause big problems and you have much less time to correct them.

    -Having good surface agitation let's the water interact with oxygen much more than with out. This allows a much larger amount of O2 to be introduced into the water. When you are injecting co2 into water this causes the fish to not be able to respire efficiently. This is because the co2 to O2 ratio is too high in favor of co2. Introducing extra O2 into the water not only allows the fish to respire much easier but also allows me to put even more co2 into the water. The relationship between O2 saturation and co2 saturation in water is completely separate meaning that just because you have a lot more O2 in the water does not mean that there is no room for co2. With a lime green drop checker for 90% of the PP or roughly 5.5 hours of a 6 hour PP I can only imagine how high the co2 concentration in the water is nearing the end of it.

    -Since I have a proper pressurized co2 system all I do to counter the inevitable co2 loss due to off gassing is turn the knob up higher increasing the bubble rate. Sure I use more co2 like this but the benefits heavily out weigh the negative effect. Which in all actuality probably boils down to me having to replace my co2 tank a week early.

    -Extra circulation is a great benefit to every aspect (except co2 consumption/usage) in our tanks. It keep the tank more tidy, less mulm/detritus settles on plant leaves that can create a very cozy substrate for algae to begin growing. Better/more efficient transportation of nutrients and minerals (ferts) to the plants. More co2 saturated/enriched water gets to those trouble spots in the tanks that we have all had. O2 being taken to the bottom, middle and top where different types of animals spend most of their time.
     
  12. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    Ya, and I find that BBA likes places with high current like outflow opening,
    mouth of surface skimmer. That's why I said BBA liked high current.

    I'm not saying that low flow is the way to control BBA. Since it's not good
    for CO2 distribution. I just don't know why BBA tends to be at places with
    high current. Even Tom used to mention that fast moving rivers tended to
    have BBA.

    http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/algae/1717-get-rid-black-brush-algae-100-a-3.html
     
  13. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    Your picture.
    [​IMG]

    The one on the left (attaching to plant leaves) looks very like Spirogyra.
    The one on the sponge looks like Rhyzoclonium.
     
  14. pat w

    pat w Member

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    B

    How long has that tank been up and running?

    Pat
     
  15. bsmith782

    bsmith782 Guru Class Expert

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    Sorry for the late reply pat, this site likes to let me know when I have a response when it fells like it so it seems.

    I still think its thread although as a person who has not dealt with strand algae much I am no expert. It bothered me so much that one night I stayed up till about 3 taking EVERYTHING out of the tank. I made a strong mix containing peroxide and Excel and let all of the plants sit in it for an hour or so then pulling each one out one by one and running them under tap water removing every visible strand I could find.

    This was a week or two ago and I have not seen any algae since.

    I think it would still be important to try to get to the bottom of this though.

    Pat the tank has been setup for over 2 years as it sits but with the filters over 5 years.
     
  16. pat w

    pat w Member

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    I asked because my bout with Rhizo was on a very "young" tank and maturity may have been the cure. Not so it seems with your outrbreak. I'd keep an eye on it for a while.

    The stuff took over my tank and I thought I'd never be rid of it. Then it just seem to fade away, never to return (so far).

    Pat
     
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