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Re: BBA and CO2 and iron
- To: <Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com>
- Subject: Re: BBA and CO2 and iron
- From: Thomas Barr <tcbiii at earthlink_net>
- Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2001 12:31:36 -0700
- In-Reply-To: <200104070748.DAA03901 at actwin_com>
- User-Agent: Microsoft-Outlook-Express-Macintosh-Edition/5.02.2022
>>> Tom Barr wrote:
>>>> Your P and Fe are a little low. BBA is almost -always a CO2 problem.
>>>> additions deletions won't do anything if your water is the way you say.
> Adding nitrate to my tank has always stunted BBA growth due to the fact it
> likes high phosphorus.
Plants like both P04 and N03. Not just one. So do algae.
> This algae always loves conditions in which Nitrate
> becomes the limiting factor, since the plants no longer utilize Phosphorus,
> if P and N is low this algae will not grow.
I now have very low NO3 (it is my limiting nutrient) and very high PO4's.
Why do you think the plants are not utilizing PO4 in your example and the
algae are? Both plants and algae use N and P. Yes, every plant and every
algae need both of these. I can watch my PO4 levels fall quite fast in my
tanks. Of course my CO2 levels are good. So is it the N and P thing or is it
the CO2? You have BBA, I don't. Haven't in many years. My NO3's are the
But I did have BBA at one point....as bad as any on this list perhaps. It
grew when I had high NO3's and high PO4's then too. But I did not have
enough CO2. It took awhile to figure it out but that's when you really can
start doing well with plants and have little algae problems and move on to
fine tuning your nutrition of macro's and traces.
I had BBA a long time ago and hated it.
> I've noticed that this algae
> ONLY grows in areas where Phosphorus is quite high, especially where there
> is LOTS of deterious under the gravel, I did a test by moving a lot of the
> deterious into certain places and the algae would only grow on top of the
> gravel in those spots, once it was cleaned, it vanished.
Could be a good substrate for growth and attachment of BBA also. I've never
equated detritus with algae growth. I think in a well run tank detritus has
little bearing on algae. At least if nutrients are well taken care of- can't
do any test until you try out that for awhile (everything correct/in a good
range except for one item). I can assure anyone that high P in and of
themselves, does not equate directly to algae BBA or other types. CO2 is
much more the issue.
There's no P to speak of in the tap water where I now live. A LSF has
beautiful BBA plant display tanks. They use RO etc and I'm quite certain
they have zero PO4's(they PO4 remover also). They seem to think that P04 =
algae. They think I have no clue/don't know what I'm talking about etc. I
listen to the "expert" go on and on about her great planted tank abilities
and incredible wealth of knowledge. I suggested that they add CO2. They did
not like that idea. I heard so many reasons why not to have it from them. I
smiled and left. The other *good LFS* decided to add CO2 on my
recommendation. They don't have BBA anymore. They get the weekly trimming
for trade from my high PO4 tanks now. The other store? Arrogant, bad
customer service, lack of knowledge etc. If you don't know just say so.
Don't BS the customer. Very very bad thing to do. Especially when your
The Tap is rated here at 0.06ppm PO4 on average. Pretty low. They do not
add any to the tap here. I messed without adding any PO4 for about 3 months
or so. I had plants that were about a 3-4 on a scale one to ten, based on
vigor and health. I started adding progressively more and more PO4 and my
tanks have truly bloomed up to the 9-10 range. Many species did complete 180
degree turns. The CO2/K/NO3 etc were maintained in the exact same levels. I
repeated it twice both with and without PO4 additions.
I also did this on four different tanks for the runs.
My old tap water had 1.12ppm PO4. Plants always did great.
And when the plants are happy so are the fish.
A tank full of Amano shrimps buzzing like mad all over a tank 3 hours before
the lights go off near the end of the day is neat to watch. They get
extremely active it seems as the DO levels increase. It seems like putting
them on speed.
>>> Try to keep your pH between 7.0 and 7.2 at most and that
>>>> should take care of it.
>>> I'll raise the CO2 level. Any target to shoot for in pH? 7.0? I'm at pH
> I have had BBA at 7.6+ pH, as far as I can tell it doesn't benifit from CO2,
Well, there you have it in a nutshell. I said and have said for some time
that CO2 is often the cause (of many algae) ... your CO2 levels are too low.
That's the main reason you have BBA. Also why your plants are not utilizing
the PO4's. Perhaps you don't want to add CO2 or lighting.
I'm not quite sure why folks will avoid CO2 like some infectious plague.
Think of all the work, hassle, not having a tank look the way you want,
spending hours trimming off algae, testing, head scratching, dosing this or
that, cleaning yeast bottles, designing all sorts of crap to get around it,
yammering on the APD, spending money on RO/DI PO4 removers, NO3 removers,
spending good money on lighting, algae eaters, Weiss's magic snake oils, and
on and on. Paying the 150$ or so for a decent CO2 set up will solve so many
of the problems folks are having with CO2. In one year's time it will pay
for it's self in most cases. Small little 20's and less can get by with
Yeast. If you have many tanks you really should try CO2 this way.
But if you don't want CO2 you need to try limiting iron rather than PO4.
It's much easier to deal with and control and is needed far less than PO4
for both algae and plants. Iron can be added to the gravel where the algae
can't get at it and the plants can, they have roots, algae doesn't. There's
PO4 in most Tap waters. Iron not nearly as much. Much better choice also
since the plants need much more PO4 than iron. Plants can go quite some time
with out iron(perhaps 3 weeks) but the algae cannot(has less reserves). Not
so for PO4. Plants suffer much faster if you limit this nutrient to zero.
Of course the proof is in the pudding. I've done both and tested/observed at
home and elsewhere. It does work.
I have CO2 on my tanks at home and therefore use a fair amount of water
column iron. I keep my NO3's very low(hopefully in the 1-2ppm range).
> however if you do use Co2 nitrates are going to be depleted a lot more and
> leaving excess Phosphorus allowing the algae to grow.
Huh? If you use the N your also going to use up the P. Both not just one.
Yes, to lesser degree PO4 but you'll still use them up. If you go to zero on
the NO3's algae can't grow either. Both plants and algae need both. There's
trade offs for plants and each algae. That's why good CO2 levels help.
Plants cannot use these (N-P-K and trace elements) unless the CO2/HCO3
demands are met. That's why I nag about the issue of CO2:)
I have N:P in 1:1 or 2:1 ratios. N is used more than P. My tanks "eat"
about 10 times more N and than P. My tanks are very low in N and high P yet
I have no algae and certainly not any BBA.
This is certainly excess PO4's by any standards. Still think CO2 is not it?
You can tell by testing your water. In a tank with 20-30ppm of CO2 you will
use up much more N and P than say in your CO2 limited tank. Many low or non
CO2 tanks rise in these levels after water changes. But you can balance them
as well. You can grow plants in a more limited manner and limit CO2 or not
add it etc but you must also limit something, ideally iron, in the water
column. You do not do this and you have algae. Co2 by itself is a poor
candidate for limiting a tank. That's why so many non planted tanks have
algae and can't grow plants well.
> Some people also claim
> that this algae likes high concentrations of Fe, but I have well over 2ppm
> Fe and as long as I regularly add nitrate, it doesn't grow,
If you added more CO2 it wouldn't grow. Are you suggesting that adding NO3
by itself is causing the algae to go away? So high iron, higher NO3, and low
PO4 will cause it to go away and low CO2?
> I also use
> Natural Sunlight instead of any artifical lighting, the bad thing about this
> though is the tank doesn't look that pretty, sort of yellow, and the fish
> colors look dull and dark in the front.
And natural sunlight? And your comparing this to CO2 enriched artificially
lighted tanks? Natural sunlight and no CO2?
You can get all the N and P you need with fish load. I'd limit the Fe way
way back. Like add *none* at all to the water column. Add iron deep in the
gravel bed instead. Consider Diana Walstead's book. Her approach would
better suit you I think. And it works. I know, I've done it a long time ago
but didn't realize a number of things then. I approached again about 4-5
years ago and used kitty litter then went to 100% flourite to see if that
helped which it did. A low fish load and a number of algae eaters add to
the tank and the tank will generally do very well. I only have to clean the
glass once every 3 months or so. That's good because I'm known not to like
to clean glass:)
One tank I set up as a low maintenance tank has AF cichlids that have bred a
number of times(we lost count) and has natural sunlight from both sides. No
iron etc is added. Some K2SO4 and fish food is all. Growth is slow but
there's only a slight glass algae that gets a wipe every month or so. We
later added 1 watt per gallon to the tank for extra lighting. The P is
rather high from the tap(around 1.2ppm.). No algae except the green spot on
the glass that slowly comes in.
Bet if you try that instead you'll have better algae control.
>> A low of 7.0 and a high of 7.2 if you can. SAE's will help greatly.
> I have one SAE had he's never touched the stuff, part of the problem is I
> cannot starve him, I feed my oto's zucchini and he loves it as well and my
> oto's are already starved. And sometimes he'll be sneaky and take flakes
> when I feed my other fish.
You have one SAE in how big of a tank? You can feed your fish and
should......but back off for awhile and see. SAE's will nibble edges and
will eat BBA. They will also eat a few types of hair algae. If you over feed
them or give them something more tasty all the time they get lazy often.
Otto's can last for many years, some don't make it till the next week. Buy
20 of them and tell me how many make till next year. Are they starving or
coming in with sensitivities? But if you balance the food amount being fed
they will spend most of their(SAE's) time grazing. If you give them some
nice zuke all the time they will not graze as much. The ISO spirulina tabs
are good and I have some algae sticks that I buy in 5 lb amounts for about
30-35$ that are super. SAE's shrimps, otto's, any bottom feeder seems to
really love it. I only feed once a day right at night.
>> Watch what it does(the pH).
>> Keep good overall nutrient levels as best you can.
>> Anubias and sword etc are quite prone to BBA as they make excellent
>> substrates for this algae. Try to reduce the numbers and replace with fast
>> growing stem plants.
> I added Anachris and it only stunted the growth of BBA and killed off all
> the other algaes. BBA can last sometimes months after you correct
> conditions. Some people report taking BBA out of the water and put it back
> in after a few months and it continues to grow.
Wow, now there's another clue as to why it's the CO2.
Why do think the Anacharis stunted the growth? What can Anacaris do that
many other plants we keep cannot? They can use HCO3, bicarbonates. They
don't need the CO2 like most of the plants often kept in tank to do well.
The writing is on the wall. That number 2# sign bad CO2 levels = BBA and
algae problems. Natural sunlight can go either way but most folks have
problems with it. I personally never have but only done 2 tanks. With extra
artificial lighting sunlight always seem to help more than hurt in the cases
I've seen but some BGA along the front surface below the gravel line happens
time to time. Winter time presents a problem with less hours etc.
Add CO2 and keep good conditions, and/or bleach and trim off all the
remaining BBA. Do everything you can to reduce it's numbers/presence in your
tank. Trim leaves, remove and bleach/HP equipment, scrub wood or add wood to
a tank with some Panaque sp pleco's.
The amount of lighting varies greatly from day to day. If it were totally
consistent many species of plants and algae could not exist. This variation
allows weaker competitors such as algae in some cases and plants in others
and a balance in between often also. Many would be out competed completely
if this were not case. So would many species of animals/plants etc.
It is this variation we hope to minimize and allow plants to have the
competitive edge. CO2/lighting/nutrients. You don't have 2 of the three.
> Replace later after the BBA has gone. I think Tom Wood
>> mentioned driftwood. It can make a great place for algae to grow but the
>> pine you have not especially good for it. Pleco's will keep most any wood
>> surface clean. Cleaning dead object(rocks, equipment etc) with bleach is a
>> good idea to reduce the amount.
>> Tom Barr
> I'm a firm believer in Hydrogen Peroxide.
CO2 is more important and much much easier and better as a long term
solution. HP is a good tool for slight control measures but you've done
nothing to solve your algae problem really. It'll come back. I have not had
BBA for years. I don't use HP either. Don't need too:)
But if you have BBA and you want to leave the piece of wood etc in there
this is a good method.
> I dose 15ml per 10 gallons
> directly onto the BBA and it starts bubbling and a few days later it's gone.
> You have to spray directly over it otherwise it doesn't do any good, (not
> enough concentration if you just add it to the water) and no ill effects
> from my fish ever. I sprayed it the other day on my driftwood, and it
> bubbled so much it looks like a champagne glass.
So will your plants if you add good CO2 and balance your tank. Mine bubble
like that for about 6 hours every day. Severe pearling. BBA doesn't have a
Neat idea to squirt it directly on the BBA in the tank rather than jut a
dump in the tank. I did this with Cyano. Used a hypodermic tube. Was not too
happy with that result. Never tried it on BBA though. The fine needled
plants would get Cyano's in the vegetative cone would often died back and
were stunted as a result. They are sensitive plants though, so an Anubias
might be a much better plant to try it on. Maybe I'll try it at that LFS
with the nice BBA display:) Seems like it would hurt the plant if BBA was
attached to the plant or at least give it a good burn. I'd just trim the
leaf and not mess with it. Wood is easy to remove in most cases and then you
can use a number of things to kill it. It's best to get down at the base
where it's attached to add the HP. This is were the growing portion is. Not
at the tips. Your treatment will be better doing this.
Your tank comments have only reinforced the notion of poor CO2 = BBA/algae.
If you do not wish to use CO2 please pick up Diana's Book and read it. The
iron limiting method can really work. You don't have to use soil but it
works also. Flourite will work and so will gravel plus some iron additions
to the gravel bed every so often.