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Discussion Starter #1
Siamese Algae Eaters aren't carried in any of the local stores here, and I'd guess they'd be hard-pressed to get rid of the BBA in the filter unit, in their own bodies, and other places. Is this the only way to completely get rid of Black Brush Algae 100%?

Tear everything down, soak every non-living thing that was in contact with the tank water in a 20% bleach solution (I'd go so far as 50%) for several minutes, discard all plants, and quarantine all livestock for a week just in case they have some of the algae in their systems, then start all over from the ground up.

I've never had a problem with BBA before, that is until I got some plants from someone and some root tabs from someone else. Not sure if it was the plants that were infected or the root tabs.
 

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Spot treatment using H2O2 will work however fixing the source is likely to be your best long term solution. What are your tank specs? (size, lighting, NO3, KH, PH, fish load, type and amount of plants....) You may also want to consider ordering some SAE's online.

Here's some info on using H2O2:
http://www.gpodio.com/h2o2.asp

Hope that helps
Giancarlo Podio
 

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gpodio said:
Spot treatment using H2O2 will work however fixing the source is likely to be your best long term solution. What are your tank specs? (size, lighting, NO3, KH, PH, fish load, type and amount of plants....) You may also want to consider ordering some SAE's online.
I agree 100%.

FishQuestions: Please use the I need help Template that is sticky'd at the top of this forum. It will help us give you a route of action to take against your algae that will help you succeed in the battle of algae. 100% tear down's should never be neccesary IMHO. If you take the time to tear down 100% and not fix your problems then what is to say that next time will be any different? In most likelyhood you will just be overran with algae a few months later again. Might as well fix your problems, since they will just keep coming back without correction. Save yourself some time and effort. Not knowing your tank specs though I can not give you any suggestions on how to correct your algae problem.

Matt
 

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Discussion Starter #7
What's the Walsted Approach? I'm thinking about just removing my fish to a holding tank and then nuking the BBA infested tank with a ton of hydrogen peroxide. Wait a couple days, then change out all the water. How's that sound?

The tank is roughly 50-55 gallons.
I'm running two 40-watt fluorescent bulbs.
Just your ordinary power filter rated for a 50-55 gallon tank. Getting a HOT Magnum Pro through the mail soon.
Pea gravel substrate.
Rotala, Aponogeton, Sword, Cryptocorne.
Neons, Plecos, Ottos, Barbs, Danios.
AP liquid test kit.
No fertilization.
No CO2.
Weekly water change 25-50% and gravel vacuum.
Up and running for years now.
Got BBA after introducing a foreign plant or root tabs that someone gave me.

Where is a reputable place online to get SAE? No local fish stores here are able to order SAE. They only place orders for the Flying Fox and Chinese Algae Eaters.
 

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Amano Shrimp are another good BBA eater, just in case you find those locally. Frank often has them in stock: http://www.franksaquarium.com/freshwatershrimpfarm.htm

I would not nuke the tank, a matured tank is far better than a newly setup or nuked tank, get some BBA predators and you should be fine. If the plants are growing well then I wouldn't do anything else.

Hope that helps
Giancarlo Podio
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Do you know of any place online to buy some SAE? I'd like to get some Amano Shrimp, but I'm afraid my bigger Barbs or even the Plecos will go after the shrimp and eat them. A SAE is too big for even the Barbs to eat. And does nuking a tank totally mess up the biological filter?
 

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Not in the concentrations I used in that article, but whole tank treatment wasn't very effective at eliminating BBA at those concentrations, spot treatment on the other hand worked perfectly. If you were to 'nuke' the tank with a higher concentration then yes I'd imagine you'd kill all the bacteria. Better to remove the filter and place it in a bucket with tank water to preserve the bacteria. Use a powerhead or similar to circulate the H2O2 in the tank rather than your filter. But again, I'd look to get the SAEs first and then give them a little help by using the spot treatment method a little at a time before your weekly water changes.

I've never ordered fish online so I am unable to suggest a good source. I'm sure there are many and others will hopefully suggest some of the ones they have had good experiences with. I usually drive once every 3-4 months to a good supplier and stock up on everything I need, this way I get to choose my fish and plants personally.

Hope that helps
Giancarlo Podio
 

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Stop trying to use SAE's to solve this issue.
I do not think they will solve the long term issue.
I have non CO2 tanks that have been exposed to BBA but do not have any algae at all nor any algae eater other than a few snails.
I don't need any SAE's.

Adding a proper substrate for a non CO2 tank and stopping the water changes will improve things dramatically.
Light is fine.

I'd add about 1/2" ground peat and some mulm from the existing tank's gravel to the bottom of the tank.
Add 3"-4" of Onyx sand over top of this.
Stop doing water changes
Add lots of plants, trim off all the BBA
Add water for evaporational losses only.

You can also use sand 2-3mm and soil soaked a couple of week in place of the onyx or peat.

I've found the onyx/flourite does much better over time than the soil/sand mixes.

The BBA will go away on it's own if you do this.

Also add some floating plants, not a lot, maybe 10% of the surface area covered max.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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True... SAEs are not "required" at all to have a BBA free tank, but it's also true that they do a great job of cleaning it up! So why wouldn't one also resort to these for help? Wouldn't the combination of natural predators along with proper tank management be easier than either one on it's own? I haven't needed any in my low light tanks either, but when faced with the problem I find they do help a great deal. I've seen tanks beat BBA with proper management alone, just like I've seen SAEs and Amano shrimp do it on their own too. Long term you would be better to find the cause and fix it, but what harm is an SAE or two going to do in the meanwhile? It will only help.

Giancarlo Podio
 

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I never said an algae eater would harm a tank.
But if the person cannot find them locally, then this is an issue.

The method by itself can solve this without the need for the fish. It's fine to add them, any algae eater is pretty much, but if they are hard to get and will cost $$$? Work with what you got.

This person said they have a hard time getting them and may expect them to cure the issue. Maybe , maybe not. Personally, I'd not put so much faith in algae eaters, I've seen both non CO2 and CO2 tanks that these fish did nothing to the BBA also.

Believe me, folks in the past had horrid BBA issues with CO2 plant tanks tried to get these fish and used them a lot before they figured out the CO2 was the primary issue. There were many infestations back in the late 80-90's. Even with these fish, the algae still dogged many people.

I had a dozen in a 20 gal furry Anubias tank with low light, they never ate it all and the tank was still infested. I removed them and neglected the tank, stopped doing water changes. It went away. I've had past issues with a little BBA here and there and was able to beat it back with a few SAE's, but those were CO2 enriched tanks, I've not had iisues with a non CO2 method unless I did not follow certain routines like not doing the water changes and regular fish feedings, good substrate etc.

Best to go for the method and add algae eaters as icing if they are available. Not everyone has access to these fish.

Sometimes you'll get lucky if the case is mild, but if you work the method and use the algae eaters, that will help the most. Until they can find some fish locally or decide to mail order, do the method and give it a try. It's cheaper than the fish and mail order. SAE's end up fat and lazy later so they are not useful after a peroid, so you still get back to the method and the hopes that these fish will tip then scales till you figure out how to get the tank going with a good method or plan on adding fresh SAE's every year or two.

I don't worry much about the algae eating effects so much for these reasons but adding algae eaters never causes harm generally. Just do not expect them to cure the issue in a non CO2 tank and put all your faith, money and efforts in to acquiring them.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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I agree that algae eaters alone can't solve serious algae problems, but IMO they can greatly slow down it's progression. I used to have problems with BBA. I had some SAEs in this tank but I have never seen them eating BBA, so I decided to remove them. In a few days algae started to grow on all of my plants. Reintroduction of SAEs prevented further expansion of algae. In my opinion SAEs usually don't eat old and well established BBA, but they are very effective in removing BBA that just started to develop.
 

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I believe that there is no way to fight BBA. They just appear one sunny day and can disappear in a day for no apparent reason.

The only practical approach that I personally know works is to mercilessly remove gravel, plants, decorations, or equipment as soon as it shows any signs of BBA.

Tom, reducing the water changes - is that a personal experience that you have had success with? Is it based on something in the BBA physiology/reproductive cycle?

--Nikolay
 

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The non CO2 approach works well if applied. Yes, I've not had issues when I added some infected rocks and wood and few plants. The BBA died when added to the tank.

I think CO2 is a sure fire method to get rid of it and stop it from growing if you apply the CO2 method for growing plants.

I think the non CO2 approach is also a sure fire method is you fully apply the method.

If you do a CO2 level 5-15ppm during each day, it's very likely you'll get BBA if you have the spores.

If you have a large bioload, low plant biomass, do lots of water changes in a non CO2 tank, you can easily get BBA.

Some plants really get infected also, swords, Anubias, Crypts and ferns.

If you have to keep SAE's in your tank to prevent BBA, your method has room for improvement.

I've kept non herbivore/critter tanks for a few years to see if herbivores are required or otherwise somehow needed.

My interest was does the Algae that is eaten by the herbivores really improve plant growth and health vs an inorganic dosing routine.

I've found that the tanks did better using inorganic forms surprisingly and no herbivores in terms of algae presence and growth of the plants.
I did not expect that.

I'm not sure about the life cycle specifically for BBA. I do know how to manage it in both CO2 and non CO2 tanks.

I also know that herbivores will help in some cases but if they really do tip the balance, there is room for improvement in the tank in terms of the method.

I had 2, 4gal non CO2 tanks, try and keep a SAE in there. Or if you cannot get them in your neck of the woods. Each step towards attacking algae is a good idea. Bleaching the plants or adding copper can also work, pruning etc. There are many things that will help to prevent issues with BBA. Each step will help and make it more difficult for algae to grow when you start combining them together.

But like a CO2 enriched plant tank, good plant growth => less algae growth. Things are slower, including algae growth. This gives time for the bacteria to reminerlize the dissolved organic matter.
Water changes, some inorganic nutrient additions will throw this cycle off in these tanks. Seems to really do a number on algae and also in natural lakes with plants.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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It seems that this thread has gone the way many old threads about BBA have gone - if you got BBA be patient and work hard. There is no quick solution, short of a tank teardown.

To lighten the mood here are some rather amusing bits about fighting BBA. A few months ago we discussed BBA on the DFWAPC mailing list so I went to a Russian aquatic plant forum to see what those folk have to say about BBA. To summarize it - BBA blooms and the associated frustration are a common thing to talk about in Russia and the ex-republics. People had tried some very radical things in trying to figure how to fight BBA - including a 30 min. boiling of affected rocks (with no success mind you, according to the hobyists that tried to make "BBA soup" the algae survived) and closely observing for hours on end if SAE would actually eat BBA.

Here's what I found interesting; There was a single article that everybody refered to that seemed more or less valuable, but still failed to incover a quick solution to a BBA problem. The author claimed that the following things would directly fight BBA:

- Raise the pH to 8.5
Because it's believed that BBA came from Asia (supposedly Vietnam, via Germany)where the water is acidic, so a high pH should work.

- Vacuum the bottom of the tank very well, stop all circulation, remove bottom feeding fish
The idea is that BBA feeds on floating organic matter. Reduce the organics themselves, the current that bring them to the BBA, remove the fish that stirs the bottom organics and BBA will most likely die.

- And here is the winner: Pour enough fine grade active carbon in the tank to cover completely everything in it with a uniform black layer. Vaccum out the carbon after about 2-3 weeks (if I'm not mistaken).
That is the approach that made me write all that. It's radical, funny, and almost scary :D The idea behind using the powdered carbon cover is to directly suffocate the BBA. The author claimed that the fish and plants are not really affected negatively.

...Because the Russian speaking folk are very ingenious people who are quick to try the wildest experiment I got carried away reading the crazy things they had tried and suggested to install a bare UV bulb in the tank canopy and nuke the BBA. Someone wisely pointed out that plants also have the ability to be harmed by UV radiation. I casually disappeared from the Russian forum for a few months...genius at work, you know... :D

--Nikolay
 

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No way to control BBA? I've not had any issues with it for a decade. But I did as bad in the past as bad as anyone here.
I've helped people's tanks in person many many times to solve this algae issue. I cannot be getting this lucky for this long. CO2 is the key if you use gas.
No water changes seems to do it for the non CO2 tanks.

BBA grows fine here in the USA in most streams and at high pH's just fine. I have it at my research site and the pH is 7.8. Most algae are cosmopolitian FYI(Desmids are the only exception). Vietnamese algae:)

Changing the CO2 levels will influence algae like plants, but this one does fine at higher pH's. You could just put salt in the tank which would also hurt the BBA. Or copper sulfate at low concentrations, especially with Crypts.

You can set a BBA covered rock out dry for 6 months and then put it back in the tank and the BBA will start growing again. Many intermittent streams have BBA covered rocks that become actively growing after the rains come.

BBA needs such a small amount of nutrients to grow well, there's no way you can do this and still have any plants...........at least for any length of time. The organic matter theory is also questionable as many people have low organics and do many frustrating water changes in an effort to beat the algae.

Fish questions does 25-50% weekly. I use to do that much if not more when I had BBA.

Carbon, well, who knows. I ain't going to try it nor tell anyone too:)
How long will it last afterwards? It might work, I don't know. I would think it would do the same thing if you turn the lights out and ran the water through a carbon filter on the same tank.

Still gets back to that issue.
Once you kill it, how do you keep it from coming back?

Non CO2 tanks don't have any BBA even though I introduced it many times. These tanks had very high % of DOM so the high organic matter feeding the algae does not seem to be a valid reason either.

Adding enough CO2 has been reported by myself, Germans and folks all over to solve the BBA problem. Seems pretty clear, try it yourself a few times by introducing it and then try messing with your CO2 levels to see if you can induce it's growth.

If you have a non CO2 tank, you can also try introducing it and see if it takes or not if you do this method Diana Walstad suggest. Mine's slightly modified but essentially the same.

On CO2 enriched tanks:
We tried everything with pH, NO3 and PO4. Then copper, barley straw, fruity pebbles, motor oils....no wait, that was snake oil:) None of it worked.

Enough CO2 has worked on every tank that had BBA I've dealt with.
I use to have a covered tank, the difference was adding enough CO2.
That was over 10 years ago. I've had plenty of time to play around with other possibilties.

Most folks in the world really don't give a hoot about BBA, except for the aquarist that gets it in their planted tank. Thus not a huge amount of research is done on the species.

It does not hurt to remove as much of it as you can without hurting the plants and is not a bad idea either.

Speaking of Russian UV's, some poor guy over in RU had a horrid time making a UV, they could only find a 6ft UV bulbs so the device became one of those gigantic monsters. Necessity is the mother of invention, I've made more crap than I care to admit. Some thrive on making DIY stuff as hobby by itself.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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niko said:
I believe that there is no way to fight BBA. They just appear one sunny day and can disappear in a day for no apparent reason.

The only practical approach that I personally know works is to mercilessly remove gravel, plants, decorations, or equipment as soon as it shows any signs of BBA.

Tom, reducing the water changes - is that a personal experience that you have had success with? Is it based on something in the BBA physiology/reproductive cycle?

--Nikolay
Nikolay, I don't feel one needs to be so drastic, heavy pruning of infected leaves, manual removal, H2O2 spot treatment, good CO2 levels and introduction of predators such as SAE should work very well.

I guess SAEs go on an individual basis, I've been lucky with my SAEs as they have been good at eating BBA, even at their current fat adult stage, they did a great job at clearing out BBA from a friend's discus tank recently. I don't think tearing down a tank is necessary, a mature tank has too much going for it than a newly established or nuked tank, I'd rather deal with the problem and beat it as it is very possible.

Just as I opened my mouth about my main low light tank having no BBA, I visited the unfortunately neglected tank last night for the first time in several months, now there is BBA in it! Figures.... I have neglected it however, substrate is in bad need of fertilizers, water change has not been done in over 3 months (usually once a month or two at most), water level was low and spray bar was emersed which is what I believe is responsible for the BBA showing up as CO2 levels dropped a lot compared to when there is no surface agitation. But I've had it before in this tank and it whent away on it's own with proper management so I'm confident it won't be a problem here for long.

In the past when I first started with high light tanks, I got into all sorts of BBA problems, never really had it before in many years of keeping low light tanks. Back then Tom suggested that CO2 levels were to blame, I was using DIY CO2 in a 55 gallon tank with 3WPG of light. Although CO2 levels were high, they were not stable. I got myself a pressurised CO2 tank and the BBA stopped spreading. The existing BBA however didn't want to go away, it just sat there in a static state, not spreading nor dying. I introduced some SAEs, they did clean some of it but left the older pieces alone. I treated the stubborn areas with H2O2 using a syringe and the SAEs were eating the now bright pink BBA like it was candy for a child. BBA was never visible again in this tank until I removed a huge shrub of crypts and java fern attached to a piece of driftwood, looks like some leftover BBA was still hiding under these plants where the fish were unable to get to it. I have not touched it to see if the SAEs will eat it, if not I will spot treat it with H2O2 and see if the SAEs go at it again.

So while I do feel that SAEs and Amano Shrimp are a huge help in dealing with this problem, correct tank maintainance does have a lot to do with it. These natural predators will give you a far greater margin of error when it comes to managing your tank. I have a plant only tank and while it's fun to test and find the perfect levels, it sure isn't as easy to keep clean as tanks that also have snails, ottos, ancistrus, SAEs, shrimp and other algae eating critters.

Hope that helps
Giancarlo Podio
 

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FYI, in the 1990's folks really had no clue about how to get rid of BBA or most algae.
It was a real nasty algae that caused many plant folks to plain give up.

Algae is often used to determine how polluted and what is polluting a stream or lake for environmental studies.

If you know what species is growing there, then you know what the problem often is specifically. This is why I do not need to know the other parameters in a problem tank many times or at least the main problem.
It helps to know, but often it is not necessary in many cases.

Ginacarlo mentions that BBA stops growing but does not spread when he raised the CO2, this is when you have an alga beat. Sometimes I've seen it die off and tuirn white when more stable CO2 was added. Many times I've seen it just stop growing but I still had a lot covering the Anubias or something.

SAE's can pick it off in these cases for sure over time, H2O2 etc methods work great, so does trim and bleaching. I have not found Amano shrimp that effective at it's control personally.

I am not sure why then BBA stops growing at these stable high CO2 level and why it dies off in some tanks vs just stops growing in others.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 
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