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Re: A different kind of algae

> From: Destard at aol_com
> Date: Sat, 22 Mar 1997 22:56:20 -0500 (EST)
> Subject: A different kind of algae
>      I set up a fifty-five gallon aquarium roughly 6 months ago, and it has
> been flourishing for the majority of that time.  However, recently it has
> developed incredible algae growth all over the leaves and the sides of the
> aquarium.  This algae is a type which I have never encountered before.  It
> forms in very thick, slimy sheets, and comes off very easily.  The real
> problem with it is that it grows at unheard-of rates and totally cuts of
> light to my plants.  It advances easily at the rate of two to four inches per
> day.  My aquarium also developed an unusually strong odor along with the
> algae breakout.  I normally associate a strong odor with blue-green
> algae/bacteria, but this algae seems to be very different from blue-green
> algae.

It sounds *just* like the blue-green algae that I'm (unfortunatly) 
familiar with.  You didn't mention its color, though.  It should be 
amenable to antibiotic treatment.

>      My tank had four forty-watt Gro-Lux bulbs on it, which were replaced
> during the algae breakout with three Coralife Trichromatic bulbs and one
> Gro-Lux.  Previously I had been using Kent Freshwater Plant Supplement and
> Kent Iron as plant fertilizer, plus Kent Essential.  Again, during the algae

That seems like a lot of additions.

> breakout I was able to scrape together enough to switch to Dupla fertilizer.
>  I am doing a five-gallon water change weekly and adding one 20L DuplaPlant
> tablet at each water change.  I am adding one DuplaPlant24 drop daily.

You don't say anything about fish in the tank.  If you *are* feeding 
fish, then 5 gallons/week from a 55 gallon tank is probably a low change 
rate for long-term maintenance of water quality.

>      Before the algae breakout, my tank was filtered by a Fluval 203 with
> ceramic pre-filter rings and foam, plus a Whisper 3 for mechanical
> filtration.  I "injected" yeast-produced CO2 via a upturned soda bottle.
>  Give or take a week, at the time I first noticed the algae breakout was also
> the time when I replaced the Fluval with a trickle filter.  This caused my ph
> to promptly shoot up to about 7.6 from 6.8.  (note--I experience significant

It sounds like your trickle filter drove your added CO2 out of the water. 
This isn't too surprising since gas exchange is something that trickle
filters are supposed to promote.  Of course if you're going out of your
way to add CO2 then you probably don't want a trickle filter stripping it
all right back out again.  A trickle filter probably will give you a
higher nitrification rate than you can get from your previous setup but
unless you're carrying a high fish load in the tank you shouldn't need the
added nitrification.  Besides, your plants actually need at least some of
the ammonia that your nitrifying bacteria are consuming. 

> ph swings from day to night, as the ph goes from 7.68 or so at the highest
> point and 7.24 or so at the lowest point, as measured by the Pinpoint ph
> Monitor.)  I then started to inject CO2 with a diy reactor, in which water is
> pumped through a 2" wide reaction chamber filled with Fluval ceramic
> pre-filter rings.  I am not sure how efficient or inefficient this reactor
> is.

Its hard to say much about your CO2 system without knowing something 
about the alkalinity in your tank as well as the pH.

>     So, please offer any suggestions you may have as to what caused the
> problem, what type of algae it is, and what remedies you would suggest.  I
> have read everything I can find regarding all the subjects mentioned above
> before posting to this newsgroup, and was unable to diagnose what the problem
> was.

It sounds to me like blue-green algae.  Its fairly normal to see an
outbreak a few months after a tank is first setup.  Bluegreen algae can be
controlled by treating the tank with antibiotics.  Erythromycin is most
commonly recommended, but I've also seen other antibiotics work.  I just
wish I could feel comfortable telling someone to use antibiotics in their
tank.  I've even seen copper work well, but it is rather toxic.  As to the
cause of the outbreak... 

People here might disagree a little, but in my reading and experience,
bluegreen algae are pretty much ubiquitous.  They only become dominant
organisms (= a problem) when extreme conditions allow them to outcompete
the plants and green algae.  Simply changing aquarium conditions is not
usually effective in getting rid of them after they've established
themselves.  You need to nuke them, and then change conditions so that
they won't again become dominant.

I suggest going back to your original filtration.  In addition, if you
feed fish in the tank you might want to increase water changes to at least
10 gallons/week and consider whether you are overfeeding your fish. 

A sudden growth of green algae might be a promising sign that things are
turning around. 

> Robert

Roger Miller