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RE: BBA all over...HELP !!

> >><Original submitter's name lost>
> >>
> >> My tank is full of BBA.
> >> The rear glass is 100% covered by some 1cm of them.
> >>
> >> That's not all. They are present on almost every decor and plants.

More than likely, you have either way too many fish in your tank or are
feeding way too much.  Your tap water may also be high in nutrients.

> >> However, I plan to kill the BBA spores by using Potassium
> >>Permanganate.

Much of this would definitely kill everything left in the tank.  Bleach
is a bit less expensive and won't stain your silicone.

I've been successful several times over just by gaining control of
what's already in the tank.  Here are a few suggestions, each of which
will help to a degree.  If you implement all of these, you'll probably
get rid of your algae within 2 months.

First, control your feeding.  If you're feeding too much, reduce the
amount you feed.  If your fish suffer from too little food, reduce your
fish load.  In a newly planted tank, you probably don't want more than
1" of fish per gallon of water.  

If available, feed live foods.  What Richard Sexton said about flake,
wafer, and frozen foods is true.  They dump a ton of nutrients directly
in the water. 

At the same time, increase your plant load.  The algae is there because
there are enough nutrients in the water for the algae to absorb and
grow.  If you have enough plants, they will sequester the nutrients.  

If your plants are stem plants, you can snip the relatively algae-free
growing tips and discard the older, algae-covered stem and older
leaves.  This will permanently remove nutrients from the tank in the
form of the discarded plant material (and the algae that covered it).

CO2 injection helps both algae and plants grow faster.  In this case, if
you have stem plants and too many nutrients in your water, you want them
to grow as fast as possible.  That way you can prune and remove plant
tissue more frequently.

If you're not lighting your tank properly, you probably aren't getting
good plant growth.  A good rule of thumb is at least 2 watts fluorescent
lighting per gallon of water.  This isn't a hard and fast rule.  Optimal
lighting is a function of what plants you're growing, how much available
nutrition and CO2 are available, tank surface area, depth, and
light-stealing obstructions.  This is just a good rule of thumb for
beginners.  Incandescent lighting can be used, but the rules are
different (they make really good heaters, but aren't very bright on a
per-watt basis).

Add algae eaters.  Snails are good.  A few species will eat plants. 
Others will eat weakened plants.  Others only eat algae.  Ghost shrimp
are good.  They graze on algae, and eat BBA.  Some fish will nibble on
algae.  I like platies for that purpose.  Most fish fry will also nibble
on algae.  Algae eaters will convert algae back into nutrients.  The
nutrients are then re-consumed by either algae or plants.  Eventually,
the plants win.

If you're changing your water a lot and you keep getting more and more
algae, change it less.  If you're not changing it much and getting more
algae, change it more and feed less.  If you don't feed much and don't
change your water much, the waterborne nutrient levels will plummet to
near zero.  First, the algae will die or be consumed.  After the algae
is taken care of, gradually begin or increase feeding (as your plants
fill in more).  You may choose to turn off your CO2 at this time if you
want to decrease your maintenence.  I change my water infrequently
because my tap water has too many phosphates and because I don't like to
precondition my water with phosphate absorbers.  It works.  I do have to
add tap water occasionally to increase my calcium and phosphate levels. 
If you go too long (about 6 months or longer) without changing water or
feeding, you may wind up with a plant crash and subsequent cyanobacteria

> >> After uprooting all plants, and the filter still intact and running,
> >> will Potassium Permanganate kill the beneficial bacteria in the
> >> filter media and gravel?

Potassium permangenate (KMnO3) is a powerful oxidizer that will kill
pretty much everything.  If you insist on using an oxidizer that won't
leave your tank toxic, you might consider uprooting the plants, removing
the fish, and dumping a bottle of drug store Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) in
the tank.  It'll kill everything that's left as well, but it breaks down
to water and oxygen over the course of a day or so.

> From: BlackNet Runner <br at ldl_net>
> I am not sure on this one.  I would be worried about the long term
> effect of that tho.  Potassium has a very long 1/2 life (something like
> uranium)

Potassium occurs naturally in a stable nuclear state.  Radioactive
isotopes of Potassium may possibly have long half-lives, but KMnO3 is
not likely to be radioactive.  Half lives are not an issue, and
Potassium is a plant nutrient.  Plutonium (Pu) is a radioactive element
with a long half life (and highly toxic as well), but is not available
to your average non-nuclear physicist.

David W. Webb
Live-Foods list administrator