Fwd: Re: Algea Info

Hi All!
        I said I wasn't gonna do this, but I am due to the overwhelming
response!  Gee, I felt so important with all that email this morning!  Here
it is... Algae Info.  And this is not my article, but it was forwarded to me
by April of April's Healthy Hatchery some time ago, and it sure helped with
my little green water problem. 
        It covers lots of info, how to determine different types, and what
to do about it.  And it's easy to understand!

>>  algae is a natural
>> consequence of having a container of water with nutrients and a light
>> source. Bad algae is either an indicator of bad water quality or is a
>> of algae that tends to overtake the tank and ruin the esthetics the
>> aquarist is trying to achieve. The label of "bad" is entirely
>> For example, one type of green, hair-like algae is considered a
>plague by
>> some American aquarists, yet is cultivated by European aquarists as a
>> valuable addition to most tanks, serving as a dietary supplement for
>> fish.
>> Blue-green, slime or smear algae
>> Grows rapidly in blue-green, slimy sheets. Spreads rapidly over
>> everything and usually indicates poor water quality. However, blue-
>> algae can fix nitrogen and may be seen in aquaria with extremely low
>> nitrates. Sometimes seen in small quantities between the substrate
>> aquarium sides. Will smother and kill plants. This is actually
>> cyanobacteria. It can be physically removed, but this is not a viable
>> term solution as the aquarium conditions are still favorable for it
>and it
>> will return quickly. Treatment with 200 mg of erythromycin phosphate
>> 10 gallons of water will usually eliminate blue-green algae but some
>> experts feel it may also have adverse effects on the biological
>> bed. If erythromycin is used for treatment, ammonia and nitrite
>> should be carefully monitored.
>> Brown algae
>> Forms in soft brown clumpy patches. In the freshwater aquarium, these
>> usually diatoms. Usually indicates a lack of light or an excess of
>> silicates. Increased light levels will usually make it disappear.
>> removed by wiping the glass or siphon vacuuming the affected area.
>> Green water
>> Green unicellular algae will sometimes reproduce so rapidly that the
>> water will turn green. This is commonly called an "algae bloom" and
>> usually caused by too much light like direct sunlight. An algae bloom
>> can be removed by filtering with micron cartridges or diatom filters.
>> UV sterilizers can prevent the bloom in the first place. Green water
>> is very useful in the raising of Daphnia and brine shrimp.O but it
>> in thick patches and looks just like a
>> green beard. It grows up to 4 cm. It cannot be removed mechanically.
>> This does not indicate bad water quality but grows very fast and
>> overtakes the tank, making it a "bad" alga. Can be eliminated with
>> Simazine (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals "Algae-Destroyer").
>> Hair algae
>> Grows in bright green clumps in the gravel, around the base of plants
>> _Echinodorus_ and around mechanical objects. It has a coarser texture
>> "beard algae". Beard algae will ripple in the water current, hair
>> tends to form matted clumps. Individual strands can get to 5 cm or
>> This is easy to remove mechanically by twirling a toothbrush in it.
>Can be
>> troublesome if left unchecked. This is a popular food supplement for
>> among European aquarists.
>> Thread algae
>> Grows in long, thin strands up to 30 cm or more. Tends toward a dull
>> color (hard to tell because it is so thin). Usually indicates an
>excess of
>> iron (more than 0.15 ppm). Easily removed with a toothbrush like hair
>> algae.
>> Oith copper.
>> Prophylactics for Algae
>> Algal spores are everywhere and will always be present in an aquarium
>> unless drastic measures are taken. For fish only tanks, a properly
>set up
>> ultraviolet sterilizer will kill algal spores in the water and
>> them from gaining a toehold. For planted tanks, this is not a good
>> solution since the UV light will also oxidize trace elements needed
>by the
>> plants and will limit the plant's growth potential. Unfortunately,
>> conditions that are good for growing plants are also good for growing
>> algae. Fortunately, plants will usually out-compete algae for the
>> available nutrients. However, if there is an imbalance of nutrients,
>> will opportunistically use whatever is not used by the higher order
>> plants. Different algae will utilize different nutrients, causing
>> outbreaks of new algae types in apparently stable tanks when a
>> imbalance occurs. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To
>> avoid introducing a new algae type to a planted tank with new plants,
>> simple bleach dip seems to work well. Mix 1 part bleach in 19 parts
>> and dip the new plant in it for 2 minutes. Immediately rinse the
>plant in
>> running water, then immerse it water containing a chlorine remover to
>> neutralize any remaining bleach. This will kill the algae and only
>> temporarily slow down a healthy plant. Plants in poor condition may
>> succumb to this treatment, but they probably would not have lasted
>> Algae Eaters
>> The most effective control of algae in a planted aquaria is via algae
>> eating fish. It is especially critical in the set up of a new tank to
>> sure algae does not get established before the plants have had a
>chance to
>> establish themselves. For this reason and to help theOy are usually
>> considered expendable and are removed after a month or so. It is
>> to NOT FEED THEM. If they are fed, they will not be quite so eager to
>> consume algae. When they are hungry, they are eager consumers of most
>> algae types seen during the break-in period.
>> _Otocinclus_ sp.
>> _Otocinclus_ are diligent algae eaters, but are best kept in schools
>> to their small size. One per 10 gallons is a useful rule of thumb.
>> species of otos are seen in the shops at various times; most are good
>> algae eaters but some seem to prefer the slime coat on fish to algae.
>> Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to distinguish the "attack
>> from normal otos. Otos seem to be very delicate fish, but this is
>> due to capture and shipping abuse rather than an inherent weakness.
>When a
>> fish shop gets some in, it is wise to wait a while before purchasing
>> account for die offs. Most people report getting a dozen and having
>> die over a period of a few months until just a couple are left. Those
>> seem to last for a long time.
>> "_Plecostomus_" sp.
>> _Plecostomus_ is the generic name for a wide range of sucker-mouth
>> Only the smaller types are useful in a planted tank, since the larger
>> varieties tend to eat the plant right along with the algae. Two
>> types that are useful are the "bristle-nose plecostomus" and the
>> plecostomus" or Peckoltia. Both stay under 4" long and don't seem to
>> too much plant damage. Sometimes broad-leafed plants like Amazon
>> will be scraped a little too closely by the plecos, so they bear
>> Their diet can be supplemented by blanched zucchini and bottom feeder
>> tablets. They also appreciate a chunk of driftwood in the aquarium to
>> satisfy their need for cellulose.
>> Siamese Algae Eater
>> _Crossocheilus siamensis_, the Siamese Algae Eater. 
>> Siamese algae eaters, _Crossocheilus siamensis_, is a very good algae
>> eater and is known to eat black brush (red) algae. The only problem
>> that these fish are hard to find in the United States. There are two
>> common fish in this family. The most commonly seen is
>> _Epa1zeorhynchosOorsline
>> Reprinted from The Kitsap Aquarian
>> Kitsap Aquarium Soc. - Nov. 1989
>> ================================================
>> Oh, to be the envy of other hobbyists by growing and propagating 
>> beautiful aquatic plants with ease.  Book after book tells you  how
>> fulfill that dream.  Talking to other hobbyists and store  personnel
>> the pros and cons of each species has helped  tremendously.  by this
>> you figure you're ready to rush out and  plant your "Aquarium
>> tank.  You purchase what you can  afford and the plants look great
>for a
>> short period of time.  But -  soon you notice that algae is starting
>> grow on you plants and/or  glass.  Now what?  Wait and see what
>happens or
>> should something be  done to stop it now?  Maybe it will go away.
>> ALGAE CANNOT BE PREVENTED.  I have been attempting to have a 
>> planted aquarium for more than 5 years now.  The plastic  plants just
>> not making it.  I have not been a complete failure  at growing plants
>> earning HAP points, but I am much better at  growing algae!
>> I decided that if I truly wanted to get rid of this algae problem, I 
>> first better understand the why's and how's and what to do about  it.
>> Algae in my tanks has never gotten to the point where I can't see my 
>> fish, but at times, it has managed to partially cover plant leaves, 
>> glass and yes, even the gravel.  YUK!!!
>> I always felt that in small quantities it gave a more natural look to
>> aquarium.  Trying to keep it under control, however, was another 
>>  Algae not only grows and multiplies fast, but if it gets out  of
>> can be a real danger to fry and/or small fish.
>> Both old and new tanks may experience a "bloom" of algae.  If it's O,
>> matted, tiny single cell and 
>> branch-like algaes.  Algae has a cell wall, contains CHLOROPHYLL (a 
>> green pigment), and can manufacture its own food.
>> Chlorophyll allows algae and other plants to convert carbon dioxide 
>> water (in the presence of light) into carbohydrates and oxygen in 
>> process known as photosynthesis.
>> Even as in your aquatic plants, the different colors of green, 
>> blue-green, brown and red are derived from pigments.
>> Algae survives not only in tropical, but frigid waters as well.  
>Algae in
>> the coastal and marine waters vary according to light  intensity,
>wave and
>> tidal action.  One form of marine algae is brown  seaweed which has
>> found to have grown to 164 feet in length.
>> Green algae is mainly found in fresh water and has several varieties 
>> can invade a tank.  
>> "Fur algae" is the type that covers rocks and logs, etc.  In small 
>> outdoor pools one can see this type of algae.  It seems that no 
>> how often the glass is scraped, one cannot totally get rid of  it. 
>> green dot algae is my biggest problem.
>> "Green thread algae" is that stringy, ugly dark green algae that can 
>> envelope plants in no time, not to mention trapping small fish and/or
>> small fry as well.  It reproduces by microscopic sexual organs or 
>> "vegetatively".  
>> Green algae does signify a good balance and is beneficial to your 
>> vegetarian fish as long as it doesn't get out of control.  It can be 
>> introduced into a tank either by water or plants and can serve as a 
>> spawning medium.  If left unattended too long, it can become firmly 
>> attached to plants, gravel, etc. and it's not always easy to detach.
>> "Blue-green algae" can be compared to bacteria and fungi because all 
>> single-celled organisms that have no cell nucleus.  (These plant 
>> lack "root, stems, leaves and embryo formation within a parent 
>> This algae can be described as the type that forms a slimy  covering
>> anything it comes in contact with.  It also can form an  oily scum on
>> water surface.
>>  O S.E. Asia.  
>> It also forms from nitrate-rich waters.  Because one cannot 
>> remove this algae the leaves of plants affected should  be cut off
>> disposed of.  The name "red" does not describe the  true color.  It's
>> of a brownish dark green shade.
>> Green water is caused by colony algae, a group of cells together, or 
>> single-celled algae that are invisible to the naked eye.
>> Scientifically, this may include Chlamydomenas, Volvox, Chlorella 
>> Sciendesmus.  Green water can be caused by either too much  light or
>> enough plants in the aquarium.  Large water changes are  needed to
>> the problem.
>> There are a number of ways that one can choose to dispose of algae.  
>> have found that sometimes they work and sometimes I just think they 
>> working!!
>> The following is a list of remedies I've been advised to try over the
>> past 5 years.  If you have an algae problem, perhaps there will be 
>> something here that you haven't thought of or tried as yet.
>> 1.     The use of chemicals.
>> 2.     Temperature rise or fall.
>> 3.     Better maintenance
>> 4.     Light - too much or too little.
>> 5.     Change in substrate.
>> 6.     Increase or decrease the number of fish.
>> 7.     Increase/decrease the filtration & aeration of filtration 
>>        apparatus.O a tank through air currents, 
>> brought in on plants and can grow in the conditions your tank 
>> one can seemingly never completely destroy it.  I have  found that
>> maintenance (including the toothbrush) and water  changes provided
>> best control.  I wonder if I can get HAP points  for this bothersome
>> problem?
>> ===========
>> AQUARIUM PLANTS by Dr. K. Rataj and T.J. Horeman
>> THE MANUAL OF FISH HEALTH by Dr. C. Andrews, A. Exell & 
>> Dr. N. Carrington
>> ==
>> Living With Algae . . . Since You Can't Get Rid of It
>> by Karen A. Randall
>> Reprinted from the 10/93 issue of "The Daphnian", official
>publication of
>> the Boston Aquarium Society
>> I have had a number of conversations with various members  in the
>past few
>> months about algae problems.  In fact, this  subject came up so often
>> the Home Show tour, that Lee  Finley laughingly suggested that we
>> an entire issue of  "The Daphnian" to the subject, or at least form a
>> study  group, (Algae Growers of America?)
>> Well, for those of you who are members of the Aquatic  Gardeners, you
>> they beat us to it.  They recently  published an issue almost
>> devoted to articles on  algae. 
>> Here, then, is the distillation of what I've experienced, read and
>> surmised about some of the many forms of algae.   
>> I categorize algae in two different groups, better and worse.   Under
>> "better" category, I place many of the true green  algas; the ones
>> have the same requirements as higher  plants, and cannot be avoided
>> (although they may be  minimized).  In the "worse" category are all
>> others, such as, blue-green (cyanobacteria), brush, beard, brown,
>> (diatoms) and  free floating algae.  
>> Let's deal with the "better" algae first.  This is the equivalent of
>> in the garden.  It is not possible, or even desirable to completely
>> this type of algae.  In fact, if you put a jar of plain tap water on
>> windowsill, sooner or later you will find algae growing in it.  There
>> algae spores in the soil, in tap  water, and even in the air.
>> The trick is to keep the algae from getting the upper hand while 
>> the higher plants to flourish.  To do this, you must  make sure you
>> meeting all the needs of your plants, while  leaving very little in
>> way of excess nutrients for the algae.
>> Plant your tank _heavily_ from the very beginning with fast  growing
>> plants.  Fortunately, fast growing plants are also very  often
>> inexpensive, so don't skimp.  You can pick up large bags  of Water
>> cheaply at the monthly auction.  This is just  what you need.  
>> Make sure your plants are supplemented with trace elements,  but keep
>> nitrate levels in the tank as low as possible.  Do not  over stock
>> tank with fish, and do not over feed.  Make sure  you are doing hefty
>> water changes on a frequent basis. 
>> Finally, make sure your lighting is in balance with the nutrients and
>> available in the tank.  As a rule of thumb, unless Omust be removed
>> manually, either by you, or  your fish.  Lets start with the
>> among the fish world. Mollies are great at algae removal.  The
>problem is
>> that they do best in brackish water, which is not good for your
>> Some people keep them successfully in straight fresh water, but I
>> had much luck keeping them that way.  There are a number of sucker
>> catfish that can be used.  Avoid the larger "plecos" because they can
>do a
>> lot of damage if they go  on a rampage (most do from time to time). 
>> people swear  by Ancistrus sp., but they may dine on tender plants
>> the  algae supply dwindles. Pecoltia sp. are a good choice. 
>> sp. are always safe, but you'll need a lot of them.   My personal
>> is either the Flying Fox (Epalzeorhynchus  kallopterus), or the
>> Flying Fox (E siamensis).   Both  of these will eat quite a bit of
>> and never damage plants. 
>> Both get a bit territorial as they grow.  The Flying Fox is worse,
>but it
>> is also prettier and more readily available.  I find that if you keep
>> several, their aggression is directed mostly toward each other, and
>> limited to the occasional split fin.  
>> O.K., the clean up crew is in place, but what if they still can't
>keep up.
>>  Algae can get out of control at times when your  nutrient/light/CO2
>> is out of balance, or if plant growth is retarded.  This can happen
>in a
>> newly set up tank where plants  are still settling in, or as a result
>> medications or other  chemicals being introduced to the tank.
>> Now it's time for you to get to work.  Obviously, you will be 
>> algae off the glass as part of your regular maintenance  routine. 
>> people say not to bother trying to remove algae  from plant leaves. 
>> contend that algae will only grow on  dead or dying leaves.  In my
>> experience, this is true in a  properly balanced tank with CO2
>> supplementation.  However, in  tanks without CO2, I have found it
>> while to remove soft Oeaves of slow growing plants such  as Anubias
>> and Java Ferns.  Use your judgement.  Small  leafed plants choked
>> algae are not worth the trouble.  With  these, divide out a clean
>> to replant, and throw the rest  away.  Filamentous algae of various
>> can be removed by  winding it around a toothbrush.
>> "Worse" algae many get started in a tank due to poor water  quality. 
>> there is any question about the cleanliness of your  tank water, fix
>> problem before bothering with anything else.
>> If Water quality is not a problem, and your tank is properly 
>balanced, it
>> is possible that your tap water contains phosphates. In this case you
>> need to use some filtering system,  chemical or R.O. to remove the
>> phosphates.  Otherwise, it will be very difficult to solve an algae
>> problem.
>> Here is a sampling of various "worse" algae types, and the best  ways
>> dealing with them.  
>> _Brush Algae_
>> This algae is usually dark grey, sometimes silvery.  It grows in 
>tufts on
>> the edges of large plant leaves, and on decorations and  equipment. 
>It is
>> difficult to remove manually.  Its presence is  almost always a sign
>> high nutrient levels in the tank.  It will often disappear
>> when water conditions have  been improved.
>> _Blue-Green Algae_
>> This is actually a cyanobacteria.  It comes in many (sometimes  lurid)
>> colors, but is characterized by it's slimy texture.  It is easily
>> dislodged, and rolls off in sheets.  It often gives the tank an
>> unmistakable swampy odor.  Blue-green algae can fix  nitrogen, so low
>> nitrates and clean water will not stop this  horrible stuff.  Left
>> unchecked, it will suffocate the plants. I  don't think anything will
>> it.  The good news is that there  _is_ a cure!  200 mg of
>erythromycin/ 10
>> gallons of water will  kill it, usually over night.
>> _Green Water_
>> Also known as an "algae bloom", this irritating phenomenon 
>> occurs in a newly set up tank, or is the result of a  major upset in
>> biological filter in the tank.  Even massive  water changes will only
>> temporarily improve the clarity of the  water.  Given time, these
>> usually disappear as  mysteriously as they began, but if you don't
>want to
>> wait, here  are a couple of options to try. I have had good luck on
>> several  occasions by simply turning the lights off for a week.  This
>> seems to be enough time to kill the algae, and while it may set 
>> growth back a little, it does not seem to do any permanent  harm to
>> higher plants.  Another method is to introduce a  large number of
>> to the tank.  These will eat the free  floating algae cells, and will,
>> turn be eaten by the fish. Ong is not the  problem, the other
>> is an excess of silicates in the  water.  These can be removed using
>> product called  "Phos-Zorb" in your filter.
>> It has been suggested that you can prevent the introduction  of
>> algae spores into your tank by sterilizing new  plants in a mixture
>of one
>> part bleach to 19 parts water for two  minutes.  The plant should
>then be
>> rinsed thoroughly and  immersed in water containing a chlorine
>> neutralizing solution.   I personally have not gone to this extreme. 
>> prefer to look  over prospective plant purchases carefully, and buy
>> specimens that are clean, robust and healthy.
>> Don't get discouraged by algae.  Remember that if you keep  your
>> quality good, and provide the best possible  conditions for your
>> the plants will out compete the worst of the algae.  As for the algae
>> does turn up anyway? It's  time to start weeding!

Shelley Peacock <speacock at starcon_com>

"2 kids, 2 cats, a bird, a dog, a bunny & 6 aquariums,
and I wonder why my local pet store owner loves me..."