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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 120 gallon has suffered from a bad BBA outbreak for several months. Things were fine until an autodosing malfunction meant no macros were dosed for several weeks - now that it's established it's here to stay even with good conditions (light <50 PAR at substrate, ample CO2, good flow, etc.).

Since I'm not particularly keen on my current substrate and scape, I figure I'll just bleach ('nuke') the tank and start fresh (using new substrate and hardscape) instead of messing around with H2O2 spot treatments and the like. I will remove my rocks before the treatment since they're slightly delicate.

My basic plan is to remove the rocks and a few rare plants I want to save, add bleach to the tank with the canister filter and pumps running (so all the filter pipes, etc. are sterilized as well), let it sit for a day or so, then flush out the bleach with tap water. Some questions:

1. Should I remove my substrate (MTS capped with quartz sand) before the treatment? I don't plan on keeping the soil but would like to sterilize the sand and store it for future tanks.
2. How much bleach to use? I figure around a half gallon should do it?
3. How long will it take for all BBA and spores to be killed?
4. What's the best way to flush out the tank and its plumbing to completely eliminate bleach once treatment is done?
 

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Forget about it, as soon as you add new plants and fish you add BBA spores. Just clean the normal way and when adding all new plants, make sure you keep your water parameters right.

Funny side note. When they grow BBA in labs, they advice to use max 50 par, because it grows better in low light compared to high light;)
 

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You can use bleach for this and then you would be starting with a clean slate.
Duration depends on dose.
As low dose as 1 part bleach: 20 parts water might need several hours or overnight.
Double or triple that and you might get away with an hour or so.

If you want to treat the soil, here is how I would do this:
Add whatever level of bleach you want, and periodically stir the substrate to make sure there are no compacted areas, that it all gets thoroughly exposed to the bleach. Then let it settle, and drain the tank.

Refill, but maybe only half way or less. Slosh the substrate around a lot, and rinse the sides of the tank. Put the filter media in the water, or run the filter (if it will run with lower water level. Or run the filter in a bucket)
Then drain. Do this rinsing a couple of times. You might still smell chlorine, especially if your tap water is treated with chlorine.
Then refill the whole system and add a double or triple dose of dechlor.
Run this, again stirring the substrate a lot.
Drain and refill (add the normal amount of dechlor for the volume), then drain.

Air dry everything, spreading out the soil, just like when you were mineralizing it. Chlorine evaporates. By removing most of it with dechlor, there is very little to remove with air drying. Exposure to warm sunshine will help, but even a cold garage will do it, just takes longer.

When you are ready to set things up again, I would rinse it all one more time, but I doubt there is any chlorine still on anything.
Set up tank, hardscape, plant and fill.
Then do the fishless cycle, giving you a chance to dial in ferts, CO2 and adjust the equipment and water chemistry to how you and your fish will want it.

As noted above, the spores of most species of algae will find the tank again, but by starting with a clean slate, and getting aggressive the moment any species shows up you can probably stay on top of it.

If you still have livestock, you will have to find alternate housing for them.
Set them up in as many containers as needed, air bubblers, HOB or whatever water movement, and add some nitrifying bacteria such as Dr. Tims One and Only or Tetra Safe Start to 'instantly' (a day or two) cycle these temporary aquariums.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the advice all. This is my first BBA infestation in almost a decade of planted tanks, so hopefully the reset will take care of the issue. A couple more questions:

1. How can I tell when sterilization is complete?
2. 1:20 bleach:water ratio means I should use ~5 gallons of bleach? Seems like a lot.
3. I figure a megadose of Prime would be good to use with the flushing water - does 3x sound like enough?
4. How can I ensure the tank is completely free of bleach after the flushing/drying cycle?
 

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I believe Diana covered your last questions in her reply, maybe not directly but if you reread it with those questions in mind it will make sence. the bleach is cheap so no biggie there. the removing of bleach is not much more than removing chlorine so that should be easy enough. all and all good questions and Diana always gives great answers.
 

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Omg.

So you are about to setup another tank without figuring out what caused the BBA. Auto dosing you say. That's not the end of the story. I see you've been reading stupid advice about using H2O2 - which is another way to not solve anything and kill BBA until it comes back.

Ok, here it is. It's very simple: BBA shows up when organics are present in the tank. Note that all ADA tanks record a parameter called "COD". This, simply put, is the amount of organics in the tank. ADA has them at aroiund 6, whatever that means because who knows what tests they run to determine the amount of organics. But one thing is true - they do keep the organics low. Very low.

And that is the end of the story - if you keep your organics low you will never see BBA. Find ways to do it. I have some posts about it, do a search if you care.

If not - try the tried and not true nuking of the entire tank. By the way you can do that by just filling the tank up with tap water. If BBA didn't teach you a lesson this time they will some day - that nuking them does not work. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm quite familiar with the importance of low organics for algae control, and do my best to keep them low with regular siphoning during water changes and ample flow. There may have been a correlation between organics and the autodosing issue (decomposing plant matter from plants in poor health), and the infestation appeared very suddenly (within a few days) around that time.

Yes, good conditions are important to preventing algae's establishment, but in my experience with other algae types restoring good/proper conditions alone does essentially nothing to reduce an established infestation. When it gets to a severe stage you need some method of clearing out all the existing algae - tank-wide gobs of algae don't just die on their own. With BGA, it's erythromycin, and with BBA, bleach seems to be a common treatment. With the new setup I will definitely keep a tighter eye on conditions (including organics).
 

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Black Brush Algae will turn pink when it dies. It is actually in a group called Red Algae.
1:20 (1 part bleach: 20 parts water) is the mildest dose to try. You could make it stronger.
 

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1. Bleach the hell out of everything
2. Rinse it GOOD
3. Soak it ALL in distilled water at around 90 F. seeded with beneficial bacteria for at least 6 hours. Nutrafin Cycle is one of many bacterial floura options

Then go back to your amazing aquascaping life knowing that you've now inoculated everything with beautiful beneficial bacteria that will stave off future algae attacks. Also, keep your new tank as cold as possible after the inoculation. Algae LOVES warm water.
 

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I just recovered my tank that was overgrown with dreadful BBA and Cyano. I couldn't even see A. nanas! Dreadful black-green slimy, furry coat everywhere.

Anyway, I dipped all infested equipment and healthy plants in the bleach. Interestingly, brown Cryptocorines didn't have bba at all. Just a few spots of bba and were quite easily to clean. They probably had some kind of chemical control that prevented bba to form.

I didn't nuke the entire tank though... fish remained in the tank, I siphoned the gravel and removed every little black stuff that I could see. Tons of it actually. Also did like 150% water change. My plain is to start the 2-3x Easycarbo dose and do it for a month or so, as a prophylactic and also to destroy all remaining BBAs that I cannot see.

So, my suggestion is - go for Excel/Easycarbo megadoses.
 

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I have one question though. I dipped my Anubias plants in the bleach and BBAs turned translucent-greenish. However, they still remain on the leaves and are very hard to scrape off, even after three days.

Anything I can do now?
 

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I have one question though. I dipped my Anubias plants in the bleach and BBAs turned translucent-greenish. However, they still remain on the leaves and are very hard to scrape off, even after three days.

Anything I can do now?
At times it takes 2 or 3 treatments to kill BBA. Try another treatment and see if that gets it.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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