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Re: New tank and Green water blooms
- To: <Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com>
- Subject: Re: New tank and Green water blooms
- From: Thomas Barr <tcbiii at earthlink_net>
- Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 12:05:40 -0800
- In-Reply-To: <200201260848.g0Q8mE221159 at actwin_com>
- User-Agent: Microsoft-Outlook-Express-Macintosh-Edition/5.02.2022
>>> Recently I set up a new tank and densely populated it with lots of plants
>>> (including several fast growing stem plant species).
> NEW TANK is one key point of this green water discussion.
>>> I also gave the tank a small (non toxic to fish) amount of
>>> ammonium, NH4+).
> Small amount of ammonium plus AMMONIATED compounds from my "de-clorimated"
> water was the other.
This may help push the system over the edge and give a GW bloom. But I still
think the contribution from tap water is relatively small. Point and case:
try doing a large water change on a new tank many times(which I've done for
other reasons a number of times in the past), never got any GW.
Another large factor(the factor) is amount of Chloramine in the water. This
will tell you somewhat of _the amount_ of ammonium. Not all water levels
have the same levels added for a number of reasons. This may be why during
certain times of the year folks will see GW blooms and correlate it to the
tap water(this sounds like a very plausible notion to me also). At high
light and NH4 you'll get GW. That much I do know.
But there are places and back in the past where folks still had this issue
long before they used Chloramines in the tap water. My tap down in Santa
Barbara does not have Chloramines. Marin County does have it and it has been
in use for many years there.
During spring/fall turnover, spring melt, switching from well to surface
water supplies etc water utilities often add more chlorine based products to
make sure the water is safe. By testing your residual chloramine levels, I
would suspect a correlation between high levels of Chloramines and those
pesky **seasonal** GW outbreaks to match up well.
I'm also somewhat curious how fast the Amquel plus Chloramine becomes
available to the algae and plants. We would also need know how much
Chloramine we are talking about also. Some taps will have almost none. Some
will have high residuals.
> Are you saying that the GW combo is: new tank, NH4 and no water movement?
High light too. Try it sometime:)
> I now have a filter on the tank. I also have a diatom running today and the
> water is crystal clear, so almost all, say 99.999% of the suspended algae
> has been removed. It probably has less than any typical tank at the moment-
> just because you dont see it, doesnt mean its not there....it is
> microscopic. I suspect, however, that the algae has left something in the
> water that allows it to re-populate, until I run the diatom a few more
> time. I suspect it is something chemical.
I suspect it completes a life cycle and spores sink to the bottom and wait
for another NH4 spike to come along. A chemical would pass through the
A chemical cue yes, I could see that and have predicted this all along. The
algae send out a cue that the other algae/plant are there and they are not
in a dominate but rather declining numbers so they tell each other to send
out spores and ride out the change in the spore form, just like an annual
plant does when the cooler, drier temps come along, it puts out tough
desiccation and cold resistant seeds( or algae spores).
This way it can come in and make an "appearance" like a spring flower then
go to seed when the conditions change. Harsh environments promotes this type
of adaptations. A water column is/can be a harsh place.
>> Consider this: High PO4 levels have not been found to be a direct cause of
>> algae so you cannot blame the PO4 for the algae out break(it happens at both
>> a high and low PO4's).
> Algae does not need much PO4 to establish. It just needs SUFFICIENT water
> column PO4, together with other desireable conditions.
Plants on the other hand do need more PO4.
The *amount* of PO4 needed doesn't matter beyond the sufficient amount, we
will call this the "cell quota". FWIW, many phytoplankton have extremely low
cell quotas. I have a reference of 0.003 ppm of PO4 for a few species and
this is way beyond any detection equipment most folks have. It may as well
be a trace nutrient for algae.
PO4 is a poor indicator/inducer for algae from what I've seen. NH4 and NO3
are not. K+ is a poor inducer/indicator. CO2 is certainly an
>> The pattern I've seen is GW followed by staghorn algae. GW blocks out a
>> number of other species of algae but not staghorn(Entromorpha sp).
> This effective competition may be related to chemicals.
Hard to say for sure. Folks that do large 80% daily water changes still have
no other algae etc. They also are less prone to the staghorn too. I've sat
and let the GW go and added all the nutrients in the water and keep the tank
going like there was no GW present. Other algae do appear but not that much.
Adding carbon to the tank would remove these chemicals if they do exist.
Smaller simple cells use cues rather than production of extra cellular
chemicals to know when or when not to grow. It is plausible but I think the
large water changes also remove the food for any new algae to grow at any
relatively swift speed(and the plants) unless you add the nutrients back.
>> Another element or source of NH4 is uprooting a large plant. The substrate
>> is fairly reductive and holds some NH4+ in many tanks.
>> If you do a water change and remove most of the detrital matter with a fine
>> net you can escape this.
> Uprooting also releases substrate bound phosphates.
I have 1.0ppm of PO4. Where's my algae if this is the cause? It is not a
determining factor causing GW. It takes more than a concentration spike in
this one parameter. If you manipulate the NH4 or the NO3 you will get a much
greater response from a number of algae species. PO4? Almost none that I
could find except in the lower ranges(too low for the plants to do well).
You have to work on one nutrient at a time. Working on two or more confounds
the results if you are trying to assess the intensity of effects on a
system. I've gone through NO3, NH4 and PO4. K is pretty well established
that it causes no algae. I've gone from .2ppm of PO4 to 1.8ppm. Some have
gone over 2.0ppm, no algae.
By using specific chemicals such as KH2PO4, KNO3, K2SO4 etc and a good set
range for these, you can gauge the relative effects on a system by
manipulating one at a time WHILE KEEPING the OTHER NUTRIENTS STABLE.
If you have a set range of:
Adequate traces, light etc
Manipulate one nutrient at a time etc.
>> I believe GW blooms have little to do with uptake of "excess nutrients"
>> except for NH4 exclusively.
> I agree that the NH4 is a factor.
I'd say it is THE factor.
> I can get green water by adding too much,
> although safe-to-fish amounts of NH4 to a tank. The suspended algae seem to
> get off on it. Their cellular uptake must be very quick, and much faster
> than the plant. At least enough of them get fed and start to multiply.
> the AMOUNT of NH4 put into the tank all at once may be the key.
Yep, you got it.
> amounts from fishes, are fine.
I played with this notion by adding a bunch of fish to my GW test tank.
I got nasty GW outbreaks fast even though I maintained the nutrients levels
to perfection(except for the NH4 waste from the fish). This is why we should
not have too many fish. In well established thickly planted aquariums, one
can certainly add more fish/food etc and it will have no effect.
> Small amounts from a water change , even
> from the cloramines, are fine.
Depends on the delivered chloramine residual from your tap water.
>Large amounts from substrate as you suggest
> or from fertilizers is not.
I think both of us have found this to be true!
>> If you perform large water changes there will be few allelochemicals.
> Water changes reduce the concentrations -- they dont eliminate them.
Carbon does. Using it will not increase algae. Amano uses it on new tanks.
So do a few others. So have I. This issue is easily dealt with using this
notion. Maybe it's the NH4 removal?:-)
What the allelopathic chemicals are, how they work and amounts produced are
much more difficult questions.
>> Allelopathic chemicals are not a bad investment for a terrestrial plant but
>> for an aquatic it seems like a bad idea except at low easy to produce
> Aquatic plants and algae produce allelochemicals. If a bad idea, why do
> them have them, even at low levels.
I did not say they did not have them. I said it's a bad investment to
produce large amounts of extra cellular allelopathic chemicals. Low level
production would hinder other plants/algae as a stable time period of growth
passed allowing a dominant succession to proceed. These plants/algae are
much more a "live on less" group(dinoflagellates, BGA's) while the fast
higher nutrient algae/plants(many higher plants, diatoms) are growth
specialist that grow like crazy as fast as they can rather than trying to
weasel out every last ion of PO4.
>> etc. Speed is the key to many of these "weeds".
> Competitive edge may be small, but some edge is needed to allow one plant
> to become dominant. Although each plant produces a small amount of
> chemical, when they get to be large numbers, the concentration increases
> greatly. That may be what the suspended algae leave behind after the
> effects of diatoming or flocculants. I think I will do a large water change
> now that my GW tank is clear.
I've tried this Neil. I tried doing a big water change after and also tried
not doing a big water change afterward. I found that it was easy to
reintroduce the GW by doing the water right afterwards. If I waited 2-4
days, then did the water change I did not get this bloom.
>>> I believe that my tap water
>>> with chloramines is another source of NH4 (after treatment with chloramine
>>> remover, the bound NH4 is treated harmless, but somehow its nitrogen gets
>>> to be available to the plants ).
>> This has been speculated and I think it is a very small effect to plant
>> growth. If the contribution was larger, you'd get more algae blooms the
>> larger the water change. We do not see that pattern.
> I said the plants get nitrogen from the bound NH4. The prime creates an
> ammoniated compound. This may breakdown gradually, so, it is not the same
> as the equivalent NH4 concentration.
It may cause some depending on the amount of chloramine in YOUR water. But I
have Chlorine here. So this is not a factor for me and I can isolate this
without going to RO water. Isolation of these issues will give a clearer
picture of the effect of the nutrients.
Try not adding any KNO3 for a day or so after a water change if you have
chloramine so you can soak up any NH4 present by the plants(If no NO3 is
present then the NH4 will be removed even faster-an assumption). Then on day
2 add what you need of the KNO3 etc. I do this anyway and for no good
reason. I always have. My notion was more about the disturbance of the mulm,
gravel suspensions getting into the water column and adding more N to the
system. By letting it go for a day this removed most of it. I add the
Traces, PO4 and K the water change day but not any NO3.
>> Some tanks are more sensitive for a number of reasons. Filterless tanks are
>> very sensitive and as they get larger, this can be come even more difficult
>> to deal with.
> I once had my 125 gallon tank without any filtration for 6 months. It was a
> 5-year old tank. The plants did not suffer in the least, neither did the
How much light? Low light tanks with good plant mass, no problem. At higher
lighting you will run into problems.
> Again, I was talking about a new tank, where everything was OK, except for
> the fact that the plants were just moved into a new environment, and given
> a little NH4. Under those circumstances, without established nitro bacteria
> to help consume the excess NH4, the plants could not suck it all up....
> leaving some residual to feed the few suspended algae cells that all water
> must have. This is what I think caused my GW. I think the filter would have
> only provided backup to avoid excess NH4.
I agree with that. I hate it when folks that try "NH3 fishless cycling
method". GW water city and algae later. All that NO2 floating around for
weeks. Not good.
> What about the fact that the plants were just moved. At the conference,
> Amano (thru translation) said that when plants are moved, they are
> temporarily "in shock." WDYT?
Well they will get over some of that fast. Switching to adjust for lighting
wavelengths, production of roots etc will take time. If you call this
"shock" then sure. I've had plants moved from one to the other tank with no,
what I would call "shock". Use Riccia for example, no roots to shock and
have the same lighting. No shock.
> I cant remember if I noticed this before.
> Certainly not when they go back in the same tank.[Maybe this should become
> a new thread?]
A long one for sure:)