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In defense of the bleach treatment.

Olga wrote:

>.....Blair, I don't recommend that you bleach your plants. It only wreaks havoc
>on the plants and won't prevent algae in the long run.....

>...Steve, it's true that tearing down a tank and thoughly sterilizing it etc.
>etc. (which is VERY drastic) will get rid of the algae to start with but I
>am of the opinion that that is a waste of time. It will be impossible to
>NEVER allow one drop of foreign water that just may contain an algae spore
>to get in your tank. What if you get a new fish? Are you going to bleach it
>to make sure that every drip of water on its body is algae free? And even
>bleaching plants to the point of death is not a guaranteed way to kill
>algae. I've had red algae on a rock recover after many minutes in bleach.

I feel the need to reiterate that I got all my plants free of hair algae
using the bleach treatment back in the late '60s and I have had remarkably
few problems with reinfestation.  I have looked up many of the bad hair
algae species in botany books, and I havn't found any that have resistant
spores that withstand drying.  I can recall only two reinfestations that I
have had.  The first was when I got some plants in trade and didn't see
that Cladophora was attached.  It survived my routine, two minute treatment
and I soon noticed it in the 15 gallon tank where I had put the plants.  I
treated the plants again, this time for four minutes, and I also treated
the tank and gravel.  The plants survived, and this time the Cladophora was
gone for good.

By the way, I have not seen any big problem in getting the bleach rinsed
out of the gravel.  I rinse a couple of times, let the gravel drain and let
it sit overnight.  The next day the bleach smell has changed to a kind of
oxidized sulfur or burning kitchen match smell.  One more rinse, and the
gravel is ready to go.  Alternatively, it can be allowed to dry, and it
will also be ready for use.  In bleaching tanks I fill them up with
tapwater, put on a tight-fitting glass cover, pour in about a cup of bleach
per 10 gallons, and let it sit for a couple of days. I would also bleach
rocks and other things like that just as long.   Then I rinse several times
and things are ready to go.

The second reinfestation is one that I am in the process of eliminating
now.  A student came in with a Chinese algae-eater that was the sole
survivor of his aquarium, and I unwisely dumped it directly in a planted
tank.  "Fur" algae (Oedogonium) showed up a few weeks later.  What I should
have done is put the fish in a quarantine tank for a few days and then move
it to my planted tank. The quarantine tank has coarse gravel in the bottom
and is lit only by room light.  Pieces of the algae that might come in with
the fish fall down in the gravel.  After several days, any algae that might
be in the fish's digestive system should have gone through and also fallen
down in the gravel.  I have acquired fish from tanks heavily infested with
various kinds of hair algae, and the quarantine tank method has always
stopped the hair algae from getting in my tanks.

 At present, I have removed samples of all the plant species I have in the
infected tank, bleached them and succesfully established them in gallon
jars on the windowsill.  They still appear, after two months, to be free of
the fur algae upon examination with a magnifying glass.  I have moved about
half the fish into a quarantine tank for a several weeks, and then on to a
tank free of hair algae.  It is time now for me to move the remaining fish
to the quarantine tank and then throw out the remaining plants, since I
have hair algae free examples of every species, and bleach the tank and

It is a fair amount of work, but my interest is in pushing nutrients and
growing plants rapidly.  With optimum amounts of nutrients, light, and CO2,
any species of hair algae will rapidly become an unbearable nuisance.
There are some forms of hair algae, such as Cladophora, that simply won't
go away if you try to starve them.  If anyone has had Cladophora (the green
bushy one that sticks to the gravel and plant stems) and actually had it
disappear by starving it, I would like to hear about it.

The bleach treatment will not get rid of green water algae, bluegreen algae
(Cyanobacteria), or many other soft, attached types of algae.  But it
really does get rid of a big variety of the tough hair algaes that ramshorn
snails are unable to eat.  There may be some kind of hair algae somewhere
that the bleach treatment can't eliminate, but I havn't run across it yet.
I have eliminated a branching, coarse red alga, black beard algae,
Cladophora, Oedogonium,  Rhizoclonium, and other unbranched hair algae.
Given the way I want to fertilize my plants, I have to eliminate hair
algae.  I use snails and Daphnia to keep the other kinds of algae under

Paul Krombholz in Jackson, Mississippi where clouds and moisture are
increasing.  Could there be some rain on the way?