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Re: Black brush algae

On Sat, 3 Oct 1998, Wim Hanssens wrote:

>  ... This is the third or the fourth time I've
> posted something Black Brush Algae related and up to now I haven't got a
> satisfying answer yet for the question below.
> ... can somebody please explain to me why I've
> got BBA on ons side of my 30 gallon tank and not on the other(not one single
> strand). I have several rocks in there. All but 2 are covered in the stuff.

I once had an apparently identical problem.  Oddly, also in a 30 gallon 
tank, but I doubt that has much to do with anything.  Two rocks on the 
left side of the tank were completely carpeted in the stuff.  It looked 
pretty cool, really.  There was no black brush algae elsewhere in the tank.

I added two young chinese algae eaters, just about 1 inch long, and they
cleared up all of the black brush algae on those rocks in a couple weeks. 
Subsequently, the algae appeared on some previously uneffected anubias. 
The CAE's kept it off the broad surfaces of the leaves, but it continued
to grow along the leaf margins.  Of course, the obligatory CAE warning... 
these are nasty creatures that shouldn't be kept with weak swimming fish.

In my tanks, black brush algae has been a problem mostly with moderate 
planting, dim light and high nutrient levels - pretty typical of tanks 
set up and maintained mostly to keep fish, but with a few plants added in.

> You will have a hard time convincing me that balanced conditions exist in
> one side of my tank and not in the  other; (the uncovered rocks ar near to
> the covered side). I've got the tank for about 2 years now, and have tried
> with and without CO2, frequent water changes/less frequent, fertiizing
> heavily/not at all. All this leaves the BBA unimpressed.My platys tug at the
> stuff all the time, but this does not help either.

I can only speculate about why the stuff only grows at one end of your 
tank.  It appears to me that black brush algae attaches firmly to some 
surfaces but less firmly to others.  Perhaps the surfaces at one end of 
your tank don't allow firm attachment, and so your platies can tug it off 
fairly easily, keeping it at unnoticable levels.

> I'm no expert , but the only sensible thing I've read so far (not on this
> list) is that BBA came with Crypts from the East, and you've either got it
> or you haven't. SAE's might be able to keep it under control, but I will
> only be able to try that in my next thank, as this one is being permanenly
> overstocked by my Platies. I've been lurking on this list and a German one
> for nearly two years now and reading several magazines. I have yet to see a
> reproducable method to get rid of BBA. If there were, you could probably get
> rich selling it.

I found that SAE's will eat it, but they prefer to eat other types of 
algae so might not make a dent in the black brush algae until after 
they've cleaned up everything they find more palatable or easier to get.  
I also found that ghost shrimp will eat it, but in my tanks they eat so 
little of any algae that I would need a large army of them before they 
would have an impact on a significant problem.

I can find black brush algae now in several of my tanks, but it isn't a
problem.  It seems to attach very firmly to porous surfaces like wood and
some types of stone and little isolated tufts of the stuff cling there
very stubbornly.  But under bright light with low nutrient levels it just
doesn't seem to compete with fast growing plants and green algae. 

You can probably fix the most immediate problem by removing and bleaching
the overgrown stones.  Of course, with no other changes the algae will
probably return.  Without more detail about your tank I really can't give
much advice on what else to try, but from my experience you might 
consider brighter lighting, denser plantings and lower fish loads. 
> as a last note: if all it takes is a balanced tank then why did the Goldfish
> tank have BBA. Surely your goldfish have just as much rights to a balanced
> tank as your other fish? FWIW I think in this case the (sudden?) temp
> difference is what killed the stuff, plus the fact that SAE (or others) can
> "prevent" an outbreak (when hungry enough), but will not clean up a BBA
> infested tank.

I agree that "all" it takes is a balanced tank.  It may be tough to
find that balance, particularly if you don't control your platy

My experience is that balance alone will control black brush algae and
other nuisance algae growths, but with no other changes the algaes will
remain present at background levels.  If you then select plant species
that compete well with the nuisance and use the right algae eaters the
algae may completely disappear. 

Good luck,
Roger Miller

In Albuquerque, where hundreds of hot air balloons (and their pilots) 
from all over the world are gathered for the annual Balloon Fiesta.