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Re: The Desparate Cry for Help

Thayer Syme wrote, Sunday, March 29:

.........My girlfriend and I returned from vacation a couple days ago to a
30 gal
>disaster.  The black hair algae that we had been fighting for months is now
>beyond control.  After much consideration we have set today aside to tear
>down the tank and follow the recommended 5% bleach attack.  Obviously
>glass, gravel and rocks are easily treated, and cleaned, but we are
>wondering about the driftwood in the tank.  So far we have removed it and
>boiled it for a bit.  I expect the algae is now dead, but it is still
>covering the sticks.  Is it alright to bleach it as well and then
>declorinate?  Or is this frowned upon due to the porosity of the wood?
>Our plan is to use a 10 gal Q-tank with original tank water, with several
>water changes over the next week or so to flush out the fish without too
>much shock.  Then slowly rebuild the new water in the 30g so that we don't
>loose to  much stock in the process.
Boiling ought to do it, as long as all parts of the driftwood get boiled.
Bleach should do it, too, and you don't have to worry about residual bleach
after you have thoroughly rinsed the wood.  The only requirement for using
5% is when you are treating the plants and trying to give just enough
treatment to kill the algae, but not the plants.  All other parts of the
system---tank gravel, decorations, etc. can be bleached for much longer
times.  You can put a couple of cups of bleach in the water and treat these
things for days.

The only tricky part is bleaching the plants, and, here, you should use 5%
and treat the plants for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on how tough they look.
Thin-stemmed delicate plants like Ceratophyllum or Najas should get only 2
minutes. Plants with thick stems or rhizomes such as large swords, crypts
and anubias, can take up to 4 minutes without much damage.

It is important that there is a tank with good growing conditions already
set up to recieve the treated plants.  Putting them immediately in good
growing conditions minimizes the bleach damage.  Letting treated plants sit
around in a pan for days while you get the new tank ready is a good way to
do them in.

You need another tank to put the fish in while you are treating your tank
and plants.  Almost certainly, some small fragments of the hair algae will
be carried along with the fish.  Perhaps some can come along inside the
fish in a form that could survive passage through the digestive tract.   I
have been successful in keeping this algae from being carried, again, when
the fish are moved back into their original tank by having an inch or two
of coarse gravel in the holding tank. keeping the fish in the holding tank
for a week or two, and having no lighting, other than room lighting for the
holding tank.   The algae that came with the fish will accumulate under the
gravel and is unlikely to be picked up when the fish are transferred back.
Of course, it is important to use a clean net to transfer the fish to their
new, hair algae-free home.

This should work, and it is worth the effort.  It is not difficult to keep
hair algae from getting back in your tank if you treat all new plants, and
put all new fish in a holding tank for about a week.

Good luck.

Paul Krombholz, in summer-like central Mississippi.