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iron, blood worms and hair algae
A while back I inquired as to whether iron from the haemoglobin of blood
worms could possibly be sufficiently significant as to promote the growth of
hair algae. There were no responses to this posting.
Yesterday I took out the Sera test kit. I added 5 drops of the reddish
coloured liquid dripping from thawing blood worms into the test vial. To
this I added sufficient tap water to make up 5 ml. (my tap water contains no
detectible iron). The water took on a very slight reddish (not pinkish)
tinge. Then I added 3 drops of reagent and allowed this to sit for 24
Tonight when I took at look at the vial, the contents were very pink. The
reading indicates a level of 0.5mg/l iron. This was not meant to be a
quantitative experiment, merely a test to determine whether a significant
amount of iron would be released from blood worms as they thaw. Since
haemoglobin is a protein molecule, the iron contained would be released
through bacterial activity into the water column. In tanks where I no
longer add iron through direct fertilization and where there are slow
growing plants, hair algae (the coarse kind) grows in profusion. This may
be the explanation.
I feed my fish a diet of mostly frozen foods because they won't eat flakes.
Generally, it's brine shrimp for breakfast and blood worms for dinner. At
one point I used to thaw the blood worms and rinse them before feeding to
the fish, but the fish did not 'smell' them. So, I usually just wave a
chunk of frozen bloodworms around and let them thaw out in the tank. It
would appear that there is considerable haemoglobin, and thus iron, being
released through the thawing process and that this may be a contributory
factor to the development of hair algae in aquariums where fish are fed
large quantities of frozen blood worms.