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magicmagni 07-14-2005 06:19 PM

Need help getting rid of BBA
I'm really stumped by this one. I know the first response for BBA is to check C02. Well I have been in the 30 to 40ppm range now for several weeks and just can't get rid of it!! It is mainly attacking the slower growing Anubia leaves and its slowly spreading from plant to plant. It has even started to appear on some of the moss. It also inhabits the large piece of driftwood in my tank . I have 10 or so otos in the tank that are eating some of it, but I think it is growing faster than they can eat it. A few weeks back I went ahead and cleaned the filters trimmed the affected leaves off and removed as much as I could from the driftwood. Flipped the rocks over that had the stuff growing on it. Basically just tried to make life as hard as I could for the stuff, but it's back again. Perhaps I just don't have enough fast growing plants? the tank is mainly slow growers although I have a good amount of floating plants like Frogbit and watersprite that grow quickly.

Here are the tank parameters:

Size= 4'x2'x2' 125g
Lighting= Coralife fixture with 4x65w bulbs on for 12 hours
Plant mass= moderate
Bio load= 4 adult Discus, 20 small schoolers, few other small fish
Feeding schedule= 3x's a day live and frozen food.

Potassium= 12-18ppm

I do weekly 50% water changes and dose the following after refill:
1tsp Potassium Nitrate
1.5tsp Potassium Sulfate
4ml Fleet enema

midweek I dose:
1/2 tsp Potasium sulfate and Nitrate
2ml Fleet (phosphate)

55ml weekly total of Flourish and Flourish Iron are continually added to tank via a dosing system.

The only other thing I can think of is to stop using the PH controller and just leave the C02 on all day with a calibrated a bubble rate to hit a lower target PH during the day? Maybe reduce the photoperiod too?

Avalon 07-17-2005 04:31 PM

Add more CO2. Never place your faith in a test kit. Algae doesn't lie. Adequate CO2 amounts will halt BBA, but it will not simply disappear. You must manually remove it. I would also remove the driftwood for now. BBA is adapted to grow on decaying material, which is what dw is. Be sure to keep a very clean tank. Debris of any kind must be removed and the gravel must be vacuumed every so often.

The only way I've ever been able to successfully beat BBA is to strip the tank of everything and start anew. Bleach equipment, rocks, etc., and prune all of the plants until they are free of visible algae. However, you must be absolutely sure that when you put everything back in, your CO2 is more than adequate and STABLE.

There is a fine line between enough CO2 for plants, and too much for fish. This is the line you need to ride. Set it, and don't touch it. CO2 24/7 for stability. Excess is one thing, but deficiencies are unacceptable. I keep a planted tank with fish, and a fish tank with plants, so I totally understand your situation.

Hope this helps, and good luck! :)

magicmagni 07-17-2005 07:24 PM

Thanks for the reply. I went through the tank again yesterday and cut off all affected leaves. (mainly the anubia- they are nude now LOL) Flipped over the affected rocks again to bury the stuff alive, Used my gravel vac and a brush to get as much of it off the driftwood as possible (this is a 40lbs piece of wood in this tank anchored to the bottom of the tank so it's not going anywhere). Against my best judgment I added a couple SAE's (they tend to be lazy fishfood/plant eaters when they get older), but I found them both dead today!! Maybe the heat or PH shock? It hit 85F in the tank today and the fish are breathing quite rapidly, but not at the surface. I also added about 20 Amano's and they are doing fine. Also have 35 cherry shrimp on order. I figure the more to eat what is left the better.
One thing worth noting is that the plants havn't really ever pearled. Well, maybe the java fern a little. The only time I get good pearling is when I change the water. Perhaps I should get some riccia in there to use as an indictor plant? If the riccia pearls in the tank that should mean I have enough co2- no?

I recently decided to discontinue using the PH controller and plug the solenoid into the light timer. I have a bubble rate of 1.4bub/sec which is a little slower than when it was automated, but gives me a ph of around 6.6 in the late afternoon according to my probe with all other electronics off. My PH test kit is also saying about the same thing so hopfully the C02 is dialed in now.

Laith 07-20-2005 02:54 AM

I think you're on the right track. CO2 is usually lower than we think/test.

My 200l tank is set at a CO2 concentration of between 40 and 60 mg/l depending on which pH test/probe I use. When it was set at what I thought was 30mg/l I was also getting some BBA. Increased the CO2 and BBA stopped growing and no adverse reaction from the fish.

Another suggestion I have is to raise your NO3 levels slightly. I usually keep mine around 15 to 20 mg/l.

plantbrain 07-20-2005 10:07 AM

A bunch of anubias and high light often ends up in BBA land.
They will grow back, but you need to take care of the CO2.
2 bubbles a second or 2.5 should be good.

Tom Barr

plantbrain 07-20-2005 10:08 AM

Increase the surface movement also!
Just a nice current.....not a torrent.

Tom Barr

chrisl 07-20-2005 04:49 PM

Wow Laith, those are some high co2 and N concentrations. I run a kh of about 5, and ph of 6.8=24ppms, but still have no pearling at all. But been afraid of running it higher. And I also only dose N to 10 in my 75 gal. Again, never really pushed the macros. Guess the guidlines are only 'guidelines' eh? lol


TWood 07-20-2005 05:09 PM


Originally Posted by magicmagni
Used my gravel vac and a brush to get as much of it off the driftwood as possible (this is a 40lbs piece of wood in this tank anchored to the bottom of the tank so it's not going anywhere).

I have experienced a direct correlation between driftwood and BBA in my tanks. Get rid of the driftwood and the BBA goes away.


magicmagni 07-20-2005 09:15 PM

I appreciate the support folks. Since my last post I have taken the glass covers off of the tank to help it stay cooler. I really suspect poor oxygen levels in the tank are causing the fish deaths (thank God not the Discus) and perhaps even the cause of the BBA. I kind of beat you to the punch Tom (but it is reassuring to hear you recommend this) and have increased the surface movement by pointing the spraybars up toward the surface such that there is a rippling effect on the surface. This didn't seem enough though based on looking at the fish so I have also installed an air stone in both corners. They emit a fine mist and seem to really make a difference at least looking at the fish. This morning I increased the bubble rate to-you called it Tom- 2bps..and I was pleasantly surprised to see pearling plants when I got home from work today. ;-)

PH was at 6.4 just before the lights went out. Seemed a bit low so I measured the KH and it was at 3 degrees. What's odd was that it is usually 4. Tested again and got 3. Checked the tap and it was also 3 so it seems that the tap water has gotten softer. I think that when I was using the PH controller it wasn't' delivering enough C02 because the PH setting was assuming a KH of 4, but when it went to 3 then I didn't have enough C02. This was probably happening for weeks and I didn't even realize that my CO2 levels were fluctuating because the PH was on target.

I think without using this controller and just a bubble rate like I'm doing now it won't matter if the KH Fluctuates right? At any rate the true test will be no more BBA. A little more is growing back, but I think that now I've gotten the plants pearling and have good C02 delivery it days are numbered.

Thanks everyone,


aquaverde 07-21-2005 05:35 AM


Originally Posted by TWood
I have experienced a direct correlation between driftwood and BBA in my tanks. Get rid of the driftwood and the BBA goes away.


I'd even take it a step farther and say there's a correlation between the quantity of driftwood and several types of algae, as well as general water quality in the tank. Some woods are worse than others, though.

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