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Old 07-21-2015, 03:22 AM   #1
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Blue-Green Algae, Cyanobacteria YUCK

Hi everyone, I got home from an almost 2 week vacation and the bits of algae I had been battling had turned into a disaster of blue-green algae (my house-sitter was feeding, but not cleaning tank.) I also noticed a small red sore on one of my cories.

I did a massive clean, invested in a canister filter to improve water flow, cut back on feeding, decreased lighting, and still I see the cyano creeping back very quickly.

After much debate and research (with no clear answers), tonight I dosed the tank with Erythromycin after removing the carbon from the filter. My tank is about a year old.

Now I'm stressing about the beneficial bacteria that may be wiped out (will be, won't be - there are a zillion different answers on the net). The package recommends 2 doses in 2 days, then 25% water change, then 2 more doses in 2 days before 50% water change and putting back the carbon. Does this sound like overkill to you? Should I just do the first two days of doses seeing as I've removed 90% of the cyanobacteria? Or does that actually increase the risk of it bouncing back on me? On the other hand, if I only do 2 days, then maybe my BB will be saved.

Has anyone used Erythromycin and what has been the effect on your BB?

Thanks!!
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Old 07-21-2015, 03:43 AM   #2
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Use a uv defusing filter keeps the algae from the multiplying mine costed about 60 dollars but works great on bacteria plumes and algae plumes,ask about it when you go to your LFS.


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Old 07-21-2015, 03:44 AM   #3
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:53 AM   #4
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I used erythromycin on my outbreak over a year ago. No effect on BB and the BGA never returned.
I followed the instructions on the package.
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Old 07-23-2015, 10:56 AM   #5
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Thank you so much for letting me know that Reygan!
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Old 07-23-2015, 05:25 PM   #6
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UV doesn't always get rid of Cyano because it doesn't go under the light. Some spores will but most just travel across the bottom of the gravel and up the sides. I think you should save your money and don't bother with UV. It is more for green water.

I have had extensive experience battling Cyano. It is usually triggered from having a lot of phosphates and low nitrates. You need to get a decent phosphate test kit and phosphate removal media such as PolyFilter. The API test kit for phosphate is not so great. It is not in the right range in my opinion. Any phosphate over 0.03ppm can cause algae in the right conditions. If you can afford it, then I recommend this:

Hanna Checker Phosphate PO4 Colorimeter - Bulk Reef Supply

If you don't want to spend the money there are other test kits but most are not accurate enough. You can still get by with the API test kit for phosphate. You want it to read 0ppm. Or just trust me and get the poly-filter. Also make sure you vacuum the gravel regularly. it is a waste trap and that is going to cause algae. Going bare bottom is not a horrible idea. Last, Lowering the temp 1 degree or 2 will slow down the rate the cyano grows at.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that anti-biotic kills your filter bacteria. When the treatment is done and the anti-biotic is gone, the cyano usually returns. You have to treat the root cause with is too much phosphate and an imbalance between Phosphate and nitrate.

Edit: Sorry for all the edits, I keep remembering things. The largest source of phosphate in the freshwater aquarium is probably not feeding like many people will tell you. It is most likely your tap water. Mine is 2ppm. A good solution is to pre treat with lanthanum chloride product such as Agent Green from ATM. I will be doing this while I'm detoxifying the chlorine in the bucket. Makes the phosphate precipitate out. LC is not harmful if it gets into the tank. Some LC products also use copper, you don't want those.

Edit: I also forgot that Algae likes low Alkalinity, PH...and high Phosphate. API makes a test kit for KH and GH. I would use baking soda to get my KH to 7. it is fine for plants up to 8. That may help too. I realize it is a lot of money I am asking you to spend. If you can only buy one thing, get the poly filter and plan on changing it regularly to get that phosphate out.
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Old 07-23-2015, 06:08 PM   #7
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I have had some problems with cyano also, but I didn't want to risk my beneficial bacteria, so decided to battle it without antibiotics. Cyanobacteria is photosynthetic, so keeping lights out for several days will help. Also increasing the flow in the tank and the oxygen. I just added an air stone, but there are other ways to oxygenate. A large number of plants that will compete with the bacteria for light and nutrients in the water will also help. It will take a bit longer than erythromycin, but it does work without harming your bio filter. Also, I would suggest upping the number of water changes, as that will remove nutrients from the water column. Good luck with that nasty stuff.
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Old 07-23-2015, 06:08 PM   #8
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Uv does minimize though, I agree that it won't get rid of algae on rocks but whatever gets kicked up won't have a chance to reproduce fast.


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Old 07-23-2015, 06:10 PM   #9
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I just noticed the part where you mentioned a red sore on you cory. Look at some pictures of Fish TB online. (Micro bacteriosis I think it's called) It is very serious and can spread to people. If you think that is what he has he should be isolated from the other fish and watch the others closely. Dr. Walstad says in her book there is not treatment for Fish TB. The tank has to be sterilized. Hopefully that is not what your cory has
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:11 PM   #10
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This is very helpful... A few things. I have a sand bottom. I hover my aquavac over it as I clean. I clean and do a 25% water change every 2 weeks - maybe that isn't enough...?). I am pondering if I should switch to gravel... (but OMG, what a lot of work that would be).

I am on day 3 of day 4 for the anti biotics as I didn't know what other route to go. Today is the last dose, then tomorrow I do another water change and put the carbon back in. I tested my ammonia (obviously usually zero) and today it is at .25 - boo! I have added Prime to detoxify it and stressguard to ease my fish. The good news is that the cyano is gone and the tiny red sore on the Cory is virtually healed - it was about the size of a pencil tip.

I just bought a Nutrafin Phosphate kit - that's all I can get here. I will test my tap water. When I checked my pH last week it was about 7.0 on the nose.

Finally, I looked online for Poly filter and in Canada it just shows water polishing pads... this can't be what you mean. Do you mean the green phosphate removing pads?

Thanks a million. I am on the algae war path.
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:20 PM   #11
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I think you should up the water changes to 2 or 3 times a week for now. Once the cyano is gone then go to once a week. Once every two weeks can work for a very lightly stocked tank. I don't think you said how your tank is stocked.
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:24 PM   #12
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Me again. Just tested my phosphate. My tap water as 0. My tank has 1.0 which boggles my mind because I've 3 25% water changes in the past week and I've barely been feeding them anything!! What gives???

Gah!! I don't have any phosphate removing pads in my new fluval canister... I just set it up this week and used what came with the box EXCEPT I transferred over all the biological media from my HOB filters into the canister to protect my BB.
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:28 PM   #13
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According the AQ Advisor (which I checked today), my tank is stocked at 103% mostly with small schools of tetras - rosy, ember, cardinal, harlequins, but also have 2 german blue ram, 1 platy, 1 bristlenose pleco and now 2 siamese algae eaters.

Just yesterday I took my 2 small clown loaches back to my LFS as I decided they were hard on my bioload and besides they ate my plants.
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:30 PM   #14
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Given the test results and my antibiotics ending tomorrow, what sort of water change should I do before I put my carbon back in.

You know, i LOVE my fish tank, but I am also getting really darn stressed about it!
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:52 PM   #15
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Blue-Green Algae, Cyanobacteria YUCK

When I used erythromycin, I held off doing water changes until day 10. The cyano was still dying off between days 6-9. But you should monitor the nitrates (and ammonia and nitrite while your at it) and let than decide on doing a WC.
My phosphate level was 5+ at the time because I dose phosphates for the plants and to keep the GSA at bay.
Edit: I did not notice a spike in the system after treatment. There is another recent thread on cyano; I will try to find it.

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Old 07-24-2015, 08:46 AM   #16
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Do what ever water change you want first. The carbon should do a very good job of getting any medication out. Put it in for 24 hours then replace it with fresh carbon IMO.
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Old 07-24-2015, 08:54 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenelle View Post
This is very helpful... A few things. I have a sand bottom. I hover my aquavac over it as I clean. I clean and do a 25% water change every 2 weeks - maybe that isn't enough...?). I am pondering if I should switch to gravel... (but OMG, what a lot of work that would be).

I am on day 3 of day 4 for the anti biotics as I didn't know what other route to go. Today is the last dose, then tomorrow I do another water change and put the carbon back in. I tested my ammonia (obviously usually zero) and today it is at .25 - boo! I have added Prime to detoxify it and stressguard to ease my fish. The good news is that the cyano is gone and the tiny red sore on the Cory is virtually healed - it was about the size of a pencil tip.

I just bought a Nutrafin Phosphate kit - that's all I can get here. I will test my tap water. When I checked my pH last week it was about 7.0 on the nose.

Finally, I looked online for Poly filter and in Canada it just shows water polishing pads... this can't be what you mean. Do you mean the green phosphate removing pads?

Thanks a million. I am on the algae war path.
Any phosphate removing pads should work fine. I was actualy refering to this product:



Even though your test shows your tap is 0 phosphate I suspect it still has some. If it were .1ppm or even .08 ppm it would not show up but would accumulate in your tank every time you change the water. You could also just add a lot more plants Don't. I know this next bit sounds counter intuitive but you want your nitrates higher not lower. There is a certain ration of N to P your supposed to have. If it gets skewed too much in phosphates favor then cyano often appears. That's not even all that well know in the salt water side yet but it is is accepted by many of the companies I talk to who develop the products. It's starting to get around. That is why carbon dosing (which makes nitrates go down and phosphates stay the same) often causes a cyano outbreak If you just get rid of the phosphate as much as possible then you have nothing to worry about. it becomes a limiting nutrient for the cyano and it dies.
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:18 AM   #18
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Good morning. For some reason Jarrod, the link you added in your reply above about the filter product to limit phosphate is not showing up... could you repost the link or give me the exact name of the product and I'll google it and find it in Canada?

Would you recommend not using carbon then?
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Old 07-24-2015, 12:23 PM   #19
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Don't get stressed about it Been there done that lol. The erythromycin won't destroy your BB. It is a good idea after treatment to try and eliminate things that cause BGA. Good flow helps. I have a planted tank and I never vacuum my substrate. I do a 50% water change at least every 8 or 9 days and like I mentioned, it never returned.
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Old 07-24-2015, 03:58 PM   #20
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BGA and I go way back. You've gotten a lot of good advice so far, so I'll just reiterate some things.

Low nitrates, high organics, poor tank hygiene, poor flow, and excess light are the main instigators of BGA in FW tanks. UV lights don't seem to do much one way or another, and phosphate levels are, in my experience, not correlated much with algae in high levels, although it's quoted as a reason extensively. IMO, phosphate removing resins are to be avoided in tanks with enough light to have light problems, as it's a invitation for green spot algae.

I wouldn't sweat your BB too much. Erythromycin has not, in the many times I've used it, cause an appreciable damage to my biofilter. Interesting enough, Erythromycin doesn't actually kill bacteria. It's a bacteriostatic agent, meaning it just stops growth; when used to treat infections, it relies on the immune system to fight the infection while gimping the bacteria's ability to replenish itself. Obvious following question is why it kills BGA, and I don't have a good answer, but that is an exception to the rule.
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