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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Purpose:
The bleach method is to get rid of various species of hair algae that are not eaten by snails or fish and don't seem inclined to go away on their own when you try various management methods---more nutrients, fewer nutrients, more plants, blackout methods, excel overdosing, H2O2 dosing, etc. The purpose is to eliminate the offending algae entirely. Some of the worst hair algae that often require resorting to the bleach method are Cladophora, Rhizoclonium and Oedogonium. These hair algae species get introduced with a new plant or a new fish. They do not form spores that are resistant to bleach.

For the bleach treatment to be effective, the plants have to be treated with diluted bleach and then put in a new aquarium that is free of hair algae. If you treat them and then put them back in the aquarium they came from, the hair algae will just climb back on them and you will have accomplished exactly nothing. Bleach---sodium hypochlorite---is an oxidizing agent, and it is effective only if it kills the hair algae that is attached to a plant without killing the plant. However, the treatment will injure most aquarium plants to some degree. In almost all cases, if given good care after treatment, the injured plant can recover.

Method:
First you must set up a new aquarium and get it ready to receive the bleached plants. It must be free of hair algae. Gravel, tank and tank paraphernalia may have to be sterilized if there has been hair algae in the tank. To do this treat the gravel with a 10% bleach solution for 10 to 20 minutes and then rinse well. Fill up the tank with tap water, add paraphernalia, and add about 1 cup of bleach per 10 gallons. Let the tank stand with a glass cover for a day or two, then drain and rinse. When everything has been bleached and rinsed, you can put in the gravel, water, etc. and let it stand for a day or two while any residual bleach escapes or is neutralized. Soil from anywhere except near a lake or a pond will be free of the bad kinds of hair algae, and so you can put soil under the gravel without worrying about introducing hair algae. If you put a couple of pieces of dry dog food or cat food in a dish of water that also has a spoon full of soil and let bacteria grow for two days and then pour the contents into the aquarium the organic matter introduced will neutralize any residual bleach, tie up heavy metals in the water, and make the water ready for introducing fish. The bacteria introduced will include bacteria that oxidize ammonia to nitrate, thus greatly speeding the cycling of the tank. If fish are introduced from a tank that has hair algae, they should spend a day in a "rinse" tank so that any hair algae carried along with them will fall down into the gravel and not be likely to be carried with the fish when they are netted out of the rinse tank and carried (with a clean net) to the hair algae free tank. I usually do not introduce fish into the hair algae free tank, but rather Daphnia and snails to control green water and the soft attached forms of algae that snails like to eat.

Bleaching the plants is done with liquid bleach diluted to 5% (1 part of liquid bleach plus 19 parts water), and the object is to kill all the hair algae on the plant without killing the plant. Thin-stemmed plants can usually take 2 to 3 minutes in the 5% bleach, and thicker stemmed plants, and crown plants or plants with thick rhizomes, like Cryptocoryne or Anubias can take 4 minutes or longer. The toughest hair algae is Cladophora, which requires 4 minutes to kill it completely. Fortunately, Cladophora does not spread rapidly and is found attached to the bases of plants and the older parts of plants and not to the newer parts of thin-stemmed plants. The tough, old plants, crown plants, etc, where Cladophora is attached can easily survive the 4 minute treatment. Rhizoclonium, Oedogonium, black beard algae, staghorn algae and other types are more sensitive, and can be killed by two to three minutes exposure. Even mosses can be cleared of hair algae (except Cladophora) without killing them. It is fortunate that so many types of hair algae are so sensitive to bleach.

After the treatment it is important that the plants be immediately put into a well-lit tank with good growing conditions. If left in a jar of water in dim light or in a pan for a day or two they go down hill quickly and die. Even untreated plants don't last long under those conditions.

Once a planted tank is free of hair algae, it almost always stays free of hair algae for years. Hair algae can be introduced with a new fish or a new plant. New fish should be put in the "rinse" tank first, and new plants should always be bleached.

It works for me!
 

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How do you clean the filter? I have shrimps, how do I make sure that they don't bring the hair algae with them? Let's them in a tank for couple of day and hope they are free from it?

If I bleach water sprites, wont they melt like crazy?

thank you for posting this, it is really helpful. Hair algae is a pain....
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Cleaning the filter---If motorized, hang it on or in a tank that has 1 cup of bleach per 10 gallons of water. let it run 12 to 24 hours. If driven by an air pump, soak the whole thing for a day in 1 cup of bleach per 10 gallons of water. Rinse. If you try bleaching the filter media-----bleaching won't hurt, but rinse well. I wouldn't try bleaching activated charcoal. Replace it with new charcoal or boil it.

Shrimp----treat like fish. Put them in a temporary rinse tank for a day or two, then transfer to your new tank. Any filamentous algae they brought with them should be left behind in the rinse tank.

Water sprite---- can take 3 minutes in the 5% bleach. There will be some damage to the thinner parts of the leaves, but the petioles of the leaves and the crown should survive. Like all bleached plants, it will recover best if placed in a tank with good conditions, including good lighting, immediately after bleaching and rinsing.
 

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Hello I leave a tip, I work in a lab and plant micropropagation Bleach use chlorine or pH adjusted to avoid damage to plants. Bleach is very alkaline (pH 14) that harm plants, monopotassium phosphate use to adjust to lower the pH to 7 (neutral) which very little damage to plants and activates the cleaning power of bleach (sodium hypochlorite) the problem is that the bleach becomes iniestable and releases chlorine (toxic gas) must be careful not to inhale.
My lab www.greenbiotec.com.ar
regards
Victor
 

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Has anyone ever tried bleaching driftwood? I am pretty sure I am getting a return of my brush algae from OVER FIVE YEARS AGO. Yes, this stuff is nasty. I was considering spraying the wood entirely and then boiling it. I am unsure if it is even an option to bleach driftwood, as it is porous. Any thoughts?

EDIT: I guess another option would be to bleach my tank with the water and driftwood in it (no fish are in the tank). That way the bleach would kill everything in the tank. Thoughts?
 

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I have bleached driftwood. It may lighten the colour to some degree, depending how much bleach, how long it's soaked, etc. For the time needed to kill algae it won't do much to the colour of most woods used in tanks though.

I am curious as to why the recipe for a 5% solution of bleach did not specify what strength bleach to use.

Today, bleach comes in a number of different dilutions. As for containing other additives, laundry bleach is almost always only sodium hypochlorite and water, though a few do contain some scent. If it has scent it will say so, lemon or fresh scent usually. Some other cleaners have bleach, but they are not usually laundry specific.

Standard laundry bleach for many many years was 5.25% sodium hypochlorite. Nowadays, you'll find it anywhere from 3% to above 7%, and pool bleach is exactly the same stuff, but the strength is between 10% and 11% in the brands I've seen.

If a laundry bleach bottle label says Ultra strength, it's usually 6%. If it's dirt cheap, no name or some off brand, 3%. If it says fabric safe, 4% is commonly the dilution used.

Name brands like Chlorox or Javex that don't say Ultra or fabric safe are usually still 5.25%. But it's becoming very common for the labels to leave out the percentage completely, because it makes it harder for consumers to compare products accurately and I wish it was not permitted to not state the percentage.

Pool bleach, depending on price, can be the best deal, but you can really only tell for sure if the label tells you how much sodium hypochlorite is in the bottle and then you need a calculator to determine the best price per ounce, pint, milllitre or litre, whatever measure you're using

To make a 5% solution accurately, you need to know the percentage of bleach the bottle you have contains.
 

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Just FYI, places that carry hot tub supplies also sell bleach in about a quart sized jar for about $8. It's granular. Check the label to verify it doesn't have any other additives. It's the same as pool bleach, and sold in smaller quantities.
 

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Thanks for the tip ! I'll have to try a hot tub place.

Oddly enough, long before some bright lad came up with Chlorox, all bleach was sold only as dry sodium hypochlorite. If you didn't dissolve it properly or you spilled it, your jeans or whatever else would have big white blotches and sometimes outright holes. Therefore, the dry crystals should be handled with some care, but it sure would make it easier to obtain an accurate dilution.
 

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Just getting back into planted tanks a bit after having my entire aquatic population terminated along with most of the house in the multiple hurricanes Florida experienced back in 2004. I've been out scouting local lakes and canals for plants but the wholesale spraying of these bodies of water to kill aquatic "weeds" has really done a number on some really desirable species. I did managed to finally find "pearl grass" or what I believe is Hemianthus m. but it has some type hair grass entangled at the base. I manually removed as much as possible without totally destroying most of the delicate plant so now I wonder if it can withstand bleach treatment or I should try H2O2 or clip of some tops and try to propagate it that way? Anybody know of another way to deal with this or secure a algae free population from this uprooted mass of plants I have floating in RO water? Thanks.
 
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