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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For those that don't know barley straw is being sold as a means to combat algae in ponds.

Does anyone have a first hand experience with barley straw or barley straw extract?

Does it suppress some algae, all algae, or is it a worthless product?

--Nikolay
 

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I believe it does the same thing hydrogen peroxide does to algae because it releases hydrogen peroxide into the water column.
 

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Barley straw releases Hydrogen Peroxide in the presence of sunlight so it doesn't really apply to indoor aquariums.
 

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so if you can't find barley straw, then you can just add hydrogen peroxide?
 

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hydrogen peroxide is used for spot algae control. I think its the increased oxygen that kills the algae. I don't think hydrogen peroxide is that great for plants. Your best bet with algae is getting the plants to grow well.
 

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Aside from any possible chemical properties it may have Barley Straw is most effective as a tanning agent. Pretty much it just makes the water darker so the algae are starved of useful light. At least in ponds anyway.
 

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IUnknown said:
hydrogen peroxide is used for spot algae control. I think its the increased oxygen that kills the algae. I don't think hydrogen peroxide is that great for plants. Your best bet with algae is getting the plants to grow well.
Then why doesn't O2 or ozone work or just straight up H2O2 to the water column? This is still a big mystery to me... current thinking by "experts":

- Plants don't 'outcompete' algae, so it isn't nutrient limitation.
- Plants might produce excess O2/high redox which kills algae, but then H2O2, O2 or ozone should work
- Alleleopathy, but not with our huge water changes, shady science here, etc, etc...

So we have no idea, other than the satisifying Zen gardening principle of "Focus on growing plants not on preventing algae...." :D

btw- in terms of this even being effective in ponds, I've seen several "credible-looking" studies that disputed this, but I could not find anything peer reviewed.

Jeff
 

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There are many forms of oxygen. Stable oxygen is the life essence while highly reactive oxygen in the form of free radicals destroys living tissue by oxidisation. It is what causes us to age.

I'm thinking if lower level plants such as algae are more sensitive to this form of O.
 

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aquoi said:
I'm thinking if lower level plants such as algae are more sensitive to this form of O.
Okay, so... add ozone, it decomposes through a radical route, so does peroxide. Why doesn't dosing peroxide/ozone directly to a tank help?

This is all terrible pseudo-science at best, especially the cosmetic example you give. Its fine to hypothesize but the next step is to test your hypothesis, or at least give me a reference to something peer reviewed... You could setup two small tanks, introduce plants and algae to both at the same levels dose one with peroxide, don't dose peroxide for the other, take pictures as the weeks go on. But until someone does this experiment it senseless to talk about radicals beating back algae.

A non-pseudoscience prediction is that radicals will readily oxidize any organic matter in your water column, such as tannins, organic matter and the chelating agent holding your iron in the proper oxidation state... you can find this in any water treatment handbook.

Jeff
 

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JLudwig said:
Why doesn't dosing peroxide [...] directly to a tank help?
Yes it does. :) Most folks aren't dosing enough, and thank goodness they don't because it's not at all safe for fauna.

Six months ago, my 20G was infested with a HEAVY HEAVY infestation of numerous species of algae; the worst of which is BBA. I really didn't feel like tearing everything down and bleach so I did the 2nd best thing (the first is of course being patient and do the nutrient control route :oops: ): (1) removed all fauna and (2) dumped ~300 ml of a 3% H2O2 solution (Kroger brand). Within 3 days, all the algae either disappeared or turned white. The plants did not seem to be majorly damaged, except for the mosses/liverworts and the H. zosterifolia had black edges. Did several 50% water changes and lowered light intensity for the next few days to avoid triggering a green water bloom. Afterwards, all the plants resumed photosynthesis as if nothing had happened. I also waited 2 weeks after treatment before adding back the fauna just to be on the safe side.

Now folks, don't get the wrong idea and start dumping H2O2 into your tank because you will surely kill all the fauna and possibly trigger a green water bloom. ;) The point of this post is to point out that H2O2 works if dosed in a high enough concentration and that it's a more convenient alternative to tearing down a tank and bleach everything.

THE FINE PRINT
I would like to point out something very important Mr. Ludwig noted earlier: "Focus on growing plants not on preventing algae..." While we currently do not know why and how algae appear/persists but there exists a clear correlation: healthy plants => less algae. So the cheapest and most effective method of algae control is to grow healthy plants. You cannot be a successful aquarist w/o realizing this IMO.
 

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I would also like to second the thought that the best defense against algae is healthy growing plants.
 

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JLudwig said:
aquoi said:
I'm thinking if lower level plants such as algae are more sensitive to this form of O.
Okay, so... add ozone, it decomposes through a radical route, so does peroxide. Why doesn't dosing peroxide/ozone directly to a tank help?

This is all terrible pseudo-science at best, especially the cosmetic example you give. Its fine to hypothesize but the next step is to test your hypothesis, or at least give me a reference to something peer reviewed... You could setup two small tanks, introduce plants and algae to both at the same levels dose one with peroxide, don't dose peroxide for the other, take pictures as the weeks go on. But until someone does this experiment it senseless to talk about radicals beating back algae.

A non-pseudoscience prediction is that radicals will readily oxidize any organic matter in your water column, such as tannins, organic matter and the chelating agent holding your iron in the proper oxidation state... you can find this in any water treatment handbook.

Jeff
You misinterpreted my meaning for aging. What I meant was the oxidisation of living tissue which causes every living thing to age and that includes plants, animals, etc... never cosmetic. And it's a concept and an idea, everythings starts with an idea. I don't think it's senseless to talk about ideas in a discussion forum.
 

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cS said:
Yes it does. :) Most folks aren't dosing enough, and thank goodness they don't because it's not at all safe for fauna.
Well, by this standard bleach also is an effective algae control reagent. If peroxides are needed at levels that are harmful to fish to suppress algae, I really doubt plants/or barely straw are using this mechanism... Let me rephase, why can't I dose small non-lethal levels of H2O2 or ozone to suppress algae? If you have direct evidence for this in a controlled experiment, I'll be more than happy to change my views.

I should explain why I'm being a bit of a pill here... There is a lot of unsubstaniated scientific nonsense in this hobby, and I aggressively go after people who promote these viewpoints. The current truth of the situation is that there is no viable and tested explanation for why a bunch of plant growing happily keep algae from appearing. This point is not made enough, and it is something everyone new to the hobby should know. This fact encourages experimentation and exploration of variables/new techniques and creative DIY alternatives. Stuff such as "O radicals inhibit algae growth" sends people down the wrong road of experimentation, for example my hypothetical technique of peroxide dosing.

Advancing a viewpoint such as oxygen free radicals (this one is a pet peeve of mine, sorry) inhibiting algae growth, stated as a matter-of-fact without any experimental confirmation is not only bad science, but irresponsible. Its this know-it-all attitude that kept me on a cookbook approach for way too long and really held back my success as it kept me from experimenting on my own, thinking the whole time I was doing something wrong within the technique. There is no answer, and at the end of the day, "Focus on meeting plant needs" is much better science than SWAGs about root causes of algae inhibition. Barley straw, until tested experimentally by a third party in a controlled experiment, is bad science and nothing more can be said about it right now.

Jeff
 

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Hello Jeff,

I apologize for not making my post any clearer. I was not advocating H2O2 as an algae CONTROL device. It is meant to KILL everything at a safer & more convenient level than BLEACH. I made it a point to emphasize that fact. After such, I wrote again that please do not misunderstand that I am suggesting folks to add H2O2 as a continuous method to control algae. Even after that, I quoted you and emphasize further that healthy plants => less algae; and that in the end, it is the best current method for effective algae control. I think I triggered a misunderstanding by quoting only part of your message that is relevant to what I had to respond: H2O2 do suppress algae when added to the water column in large enough quantity. I do not know enough about the reactive nature of radicals so I didn't get into that discussion nor did I quote that portion. :wink:

Let me rephase, why can't I dose small non-lethal levels of H2O2 or ozone to suppress algae? If you have direct evidence for this in a controlled experiment, I'll be more than happy to change my views.
It doesn't Jeff and the lack of "small non-lethal levels of H2O2" in your previous post is where I misunderstood you. Apologies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Ok, as I see barley straw (and H2O2) are questionable ways to kill algae.

Yesterday I talked about barley straw to some folk that have been setting up ponds for 28 years. They said that it does clarify the water but one needs to use it in 1/4 of the recommended amount, otherwise it colors the water almost to the point that it looks like cofee.

In any case I was not convinced that it's worth it buying the stuff and experimenting with it.

Yesteday I did something else too - I poured 5 mls. of 3% H2O2 directly over a small clump (about 1/8 sq. in.) of Cladophora. I treated 3 clumps like that. Today there was no difference in the appearance of the algae.

I'm starting to think that good sterile practices as well as using strong, healthy plants are not nonsense things when starting a tank. Personally I believe that's the case with BBA and Cladophora.

--Nikolay
 

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So - I am late to this discussion but needed an answer re: barley straw and found it here. I guess it is not a good product for an indoor aquarium. I have large fancy goldfish and am worried about introducing ottos or SAEs to the tank because the orangas and moors are very curious and might nip them. I am about to order some plants suitable for goldfish - will that take care of the algae problem? I have some plants now but maybe not enough to ward off algae? Do I need to get a pleco?
 

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My understanding of how it works...

It does nothing when first putting it in the tank. It begins to decay after one to two months, taking about 6 months for the entire process to complete. If water flow with high dissolved oxygen moves through the straw and it is exposed to light, it enhances bacterial activity in the straw. This activity breaks down the lignin in the straw and it forms homic acid. Homic acid then acts as a flocculant, causing many of the nutrients algae needs to precipitate out of the water column. The flocculation is what clarifies the water, and the homic acid is what adds the tint to the water.
 
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