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Old 11-22-2005, 04:05 PM   #1
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The Dreaded BBA

Well misery doesn't love company. I feel for TankGirl having to break down her tank as evidenced in this thread. http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewto...65951&start=20

I'm looking for a practical solution to solving this problem and breaking down my tank(s) doesn't seem practical. What does is to find the correct nutrient levels and work towards achieving that.

The problem I'm having is that with all of the research and reading I've done, it doesn't seem like anyone has a handle on how it is ultimately controlled. To make matters worse, much of the information is contradictory which makes me speculate that we aren't dealing with one species of algae, but several species. Some say control is achieved through high CO2 and high pH. Others say high NO3 and high PO4 is the problem. Still others say it thrives in low NO3.

My BBA is in 3 seperate planted tanks all with different nutrient levels. Obviously I've cross pollenated these, but the point is the BBA is thriving in a vast variety of conditions. My discus tanks with no plants have no BBA. Hmmm.

One article went on to say that after driftwood was treated with bleach several times. Left out to sun dry between treatments, and placed back in a completely sterile tank, the BBA began to reappear in a few weeks. Can the spores of this stuff really be that tenecious?

Something must be out there that will kill this scourge and prevent it's return. I'm not going to throw out over 200lbs of eco-complete, along with filters, driftwood and filter hoses. I'll keep you posted and start a log on each of my three planted tanks.

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Old 11-22-2005, 04:09 PM   #2
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I will be very interested in seeing how you make out. One of my little secrets is that I have a decent amount covering my driftwood as well. It hasn't extended to any of my plants (any closeups of my fish pics near the driftwood will reveal the sad truth) and I have no idea as to why it stopped multiplying or spreading any further.
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Old 11-22-2005, 04:45 PM   #3
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Brian, do you have invertebrates?

There are some treatments that will kill BBA. However, in most cases the best approach is one that attacks on two fronts. The first being getting everything lined up in order as far as water parameters and nutrient levels and then culling infected leaves. Secondly is adding a population of BBA algae control specialists. Assuming you do have some invertebrates let me lay out the method and technique to ridding your tank of BBA.

Step one.

Set CO2 levels in your tank so that they are always within the range of 20-30ppm throughout the photoperiod. In most cases this is the culprit as in many cases determining CO2 levels is problematic. To make certain your readings aren't being skewed by another acid or base you need to check your water parameters. Take a quart or so of water from your tank and leave it in a bowl overnight. Perform a pH and KH test on this bowl of water the next day. Record the results and compare to a CO2 chart. If the results show more than 2-3ppm of CO2 you have something causing an interference in getting accurate CO2 levels. Post back and I can help you with a guesstimate procedure.

Step two.

Proceed to step 2 only after you are certain you have properly solved step one.

Trim away BBA infected leaves. If this means you will be trimming away more than 50% of the leaves then you should trim away only the worse 50% infected leaves. Always leave at least two leaves per plant. As soon as new leaves begin to grow out start removing the other infected leaves...this needs to be done no less than twice a week, daily is better.

Step three

Immediately after preforming step 2. Do a 50-70% water change. After the water change add 10 ppm of NO3 in the form of KNO3, 15 ppm of potassium in the form of KCl or K2SO4, and dose a trace nutrient provider like TMG, Flourish, or Plantex as per the recommended amount. Don't dose PO4 or Fe.

Step four

Add a BBA control crew consisting of true SAE's (at least 1 per foot of tank length), Amano Shrimp, and Rosy Barbs. Long finned Rosy Barbs are the preferred choice as they are slower and don't have as much dither factor. Rosy Barbs are excellent BBA eaters.

Step five

Repeat steps 2 and 3 at least weekly, twice weekly is preferred.

This method has worked for me many times on many peoples tanks both locally and online though forum help. It is very critical that each step be done correctly. You are correct, there are many species of each type of algae. Spores are everywhere and short of pulling and bleaching everything every few months algae is impossible to kill and not have again. The best approach is to eliminate it visually and then make sure to keep the tank running with an environment that favors plant growth over algae. If you consider where algae's niche is it makes it easier to control. Algae flourishes when water contains high amounts of organic water, ammonia/ammonium even in trace amounts, stagnant water, water with very low CO2 levels, or water that contains little plant nutrients. Notice than you will often find a pond with algae growing rapid yet no fish...algae gets by on several orders of magnitude less nutrients than plants. So it should stand to reason that algae occupy a different niche than plants and strictly speaking plants and algae aren't competitors for the same nutrients so limiting nutrients will only limit plants.

Once the BBA is gone you will probably begin to see GSA. GSA is a sign of a healthy tank and in most cases maintaining a bit higher ratio of NO3 to PO4 will eliminate this innocent algae.
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Old 11-22-2005, 04:50 PM   #4
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All I can say is WOW Steve. I will follow this advice to the letter. KUDOS to you and if it works we'll tee it up at Amelia. LOL
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Old 11-22-2005, 04:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianNY
if it works we'll tee it up at Amelia. LOL
Careful my friend, I may just hold you to that threat. LOL!
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Old 11-22-2005, 06:41 PM   #6
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That's no threat man. I've been looking for an excuse to go back there.
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Old 11-22-2005, 11:26 PM   #7
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That's great to know for the future. I'm currently in the process of breaking down my tank and bleaching everything to kill off the dreaded BBA. My tank is not planted yet though; it will be when it comes back up. I'm changing over from a SA Cichlid tank to a planted community, and have been looking forward to that anyways.

Thanks for the directions though!
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Old 11-23-2005, 12:10 AM   #8
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CO2 injection will keep bba from spreading. Overdosing Flourish excel has worked for many (I dosed 5 times the normal amount for a week). Direct spot treatment with H2O2 will work also.
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Old 11-23-2005, 05:15 AM   #9
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Thanks for the reply Simpte. My problem with using either the Excel or H2O2 treatments is the size of the tanks. Two 55s and a 125. In both labor and cost it doesn't seem practical to me.

Both the 55s are low light tanks with no CO2 injection. One of these tanks I'm using primarily to grow out my DBN fry. So it's a bare bottom for ease of maintenance. This tank contains only epiphytic plants. Jave Fern, Java Moss and Anubias, plus lots of driftwood. As plecs are big waste producers I change water daily, yet this tank has the worst BBA infestation.

I'm kind of equating the spores of this algae to brine shrimp eggs. It's near impossible to kill either. This means that I must create the conditions which do not favor it's growth, and that means getting the chemistry correct.
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Old 11-23-2005, 06:50 AM   #10
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Just for curiosity's sake, how long is your lighting period on the BBA tanks?
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Old 11-23-2005, 07:33 AM   #11
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Brian, how do you plan on completing Step 1 of Steve's advice in your lowlight non-co2 tanks?
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Old 11-23-2005, 08:13 AM   #12
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OK. Time to start answering some questions.

Steve. I've no algae clean up crew save 8 otos. SAEs, and shrimp aren't available at any lfs so I'd better order them on line. I suppose I can pick up a few rosy barbs. Is there a shrimp species that works best?

I let some water stand over night and measured pH and KH. pH 7.6 8O , KH 6. Now I've a pH monitor in this tank which reads 6.8, however using the reagent test the pH measured 7.0. KH is still 6.

PG, 330 watts over a 125g are on a timer. The lights go on for 1 hour in the morning (so I can view the tank before going to work). Then for 10 hours (between 2 and 11 PM) The 2 low light tanks are lit from between 6 AM and 11 PM. I know, that's probably way too long.

Ernie. I'm not going to start on the low light tanks until I've completed the 125. One battle at a tim. I'm thinking of taking all of the anubias from these tanks and treating them with the Excel in a 10g.
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Old 11-23-2005, 09:29 AM   #13
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Best of luck to you Brian, as you know, I will follow this closely.

I have kept my CO2 at 30ppm (unless my high phosphate water is skewing my CO2 results.... pretty likely!) and kept my NO3 dosed, with daily TMG and probably thrice weekly K2SO4, weekly 50% PWCs, so I feel like I was following all of the rules. My lights are on for about 10 hours a day on a timer. My infestation was such that once I got started trying to massively prune and eliminate everything by hand, I realized I had to pull the tank apart to do it. Now that I am back to just a few tufts visible on some bits of substrate I am ready to keep it at bay.

I'll pick up some barbs - my tank is not very heavily stocked ATM while most of my boesemanis are juveniles - and look into getting a better handle on my actual CO2 levels.

None of my other tanks have this at all and most of them are at a bit over 2wpg, but I do use Excel in those tanks.

Brian, I think Amano shrimp are the best ones for you.
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Old 11-23-2005, 01:29 PM   #14
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Thanks Liz. I'm still wondering about the pH rise from the water sitting overnight.
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Old 11-23-2005, 04:20 PM   #15
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Brian, pH likely rose as CO2 gassed out. Tap immediately out of the faucet is typically high in CO2 and O2.

Amano shrimp only nibbled on BBA for me, but Red-nosed (Caridina gracilirostris) spends more time on it, but are rarer (looks cool though). The latter swim around too and are more entertaining imo, but that may make them more tempting to fish. Nerite snails are great, likely more fish safe, but need a covered tank because they like to go on walks. HTH
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Old 11-23-2005, 05:52 PM   #16
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Well, Brian, I'm not sure my theory would work for your tank, but I suspect tanks need at least 12 hours (your one tank is probably wayyyyy too much, though) and not less than 12 hours. I think all of us shortening length of lighting is contributing to algae problems. This is only something I'm suspecting though -- not something really I'm sure of. I'm extending my lighing on my 55 to see. It kind of goes with Summer having lots of light when plants are growing and Winter with less hours of light and plants not growing...
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Old 11-23-2005, 06:10 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Amano shrimp only nibbled on BBA for me,
Yeah not all my amano shrimps eat the algae in my tank. Some of my amano's prefer to eat my plants instead lol.

I do remember having some sort of hair algae on my java ferns, which my shrimps took care of pretty quickly.
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Old 11-25-2005, 07:37 AM   #18
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Anyone have any suggestions on where to get these shrimp? Most won't ship during the winter months.

PG - I've been a little suspicious that leaving the lights on for an hour in the AM might be favoring the algae as well. Still, I want to try and get the chemistry right because I don't think BBA cares much about how little or how much light it gets. Also this is now the only brand of algea in my tanks.

Joe - I want to assume that the CO2 gassed out of the vessel of tank water that I let stand overnight just due to atmospheric pressure. The thing is, if that's potentially the case why did Steve ask me to test it for comparison?
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Old 11-25-2005, 09:42 AM   #19
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I'll check some of my sources Brian. Are you interested in the Amano's only?
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Old 11-25-2005, 10:03 AM   #20
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I think I'd like to try several species JC
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