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Bad BBA and Thanks to the list


>From: "Stu Elston" <selston at utk_edu>
>To: "Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com" <Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com>
>Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 14:45:57 -0500
>Reply-To: "Stu Elston" <selston at utk_edu>
>Subject: Bad BBA and Thanks to the list

>Olga wrote:
>>Subject: Bad BBA
>>>Kekilat writes:
>>>> BBA is still 'under controlled' in my tank. What confused me is the fact
>>>>  that nitrate and phosphate are both nil as indicated by my Tetra test
>>>>  kits.
>>Kekilat, I'm surprized that no one else has said this but I will. Have you
>>read Sears and Conlin's paper on controlling algae in a planted aquarium?
>>Nitrate being nil is one of your problems? You should have *some*. I
>>suggest you read the paper. It is available in the archives and on the Krib.
>I'm going to come out of lurking for a moment to second
>Olga's advice and to post thanks to the list in general for
>coming to my rescue about 4 weeks ago, by having provided
>me with a wealth of accumulated info to consider when I
>encountered a truly demoralizing outbreak of algae.
>A power failure during a vacation in winter had left almost
>all the fish dead from low tank temperature; decomposing
>fish led to a nutrient spike that promoted the algae
>outbreak (The power fail was real, the rest is hypothesis).
> I tried to combat this with water changes, but because the
>remaining fish continued to die, I put off replacing any
>fish.  The BBA got MUCH worse - what started as 1mm long
>tufts of dark green-black at the margins of all the leaves
>evolved into 1.5" to 2" long light-green-grey silky, fluffy
>stuff that covered every leaf and (I'm guessing) amounted
>to a mass equalling that of the remaining vegetation.  
>Eventually, I realized that no fish meant nothing to feed
>the plants and that, in effect, the plants were feeding the
>BBA.  I hauled out the LaMotte nitrate test kit and found
>that nitrates were undetectable.  Phosphates (I use the Red
>Sea test) registered 0.1 ppm.  I decided, based on what I
>read in the Sears/Conlin paper, that my tank was
>nitrate-limited, and that the relatively (relative to
>nitrate) high phosphate level was favoring the algae - not
>to mention that the plants were being starved.   So I went
>out looking for potassium nitrate and ended up buying a bag
>of sodium nitrate (just 1 day (!!) before everyone on the
>list started talking about stump remover - which I now also
>have :) ), and mixed up some stock NaNO3 solution to use
>with the  Kent Freshwater Plant Supplement I normally use. 
>Since then, I have been adding nitrate (for the past week
>or so in the form of KNO3) to keep the level near 3-5 ppm,
>have removed as many affected leaves as I dare, have
>increased the amount of fast-growing stuff (CT/Water
>Sprite, Rotala indicia, H. polysperma).  I've also found 3
>SAE's and also added 2 corys and 6 platys, slowly over the
>last week.  Oh yes, 3 otocinclus cats that I thought had
>died with the rest of my original fish popped out of a
>tangled mass of BBA-infested crypts; I guess they had been
>hiding.  Anyway, even though the PO4 shows at the low end
>of the range of my test kit
>(0.1 ppm), I can see my PO4 readings fluctuate between 0.1
>ppm and roughly 0.05 ppm (midway to my eyeballs between the
>test kit's zero reading (yellow) and 0.1 ppm
>(light-yellowish green)) in inverse correlation to the NO3
>levels, which fluctuate between 3 to 5 ppm and near zero,
>as I dose with KNO3 (to make the 3 to 5 ppm) and as the
>plants take it up, driving it to zero again.  At first,
>this cycle happened over the course of a single day.  As
>the plants recovered, the algae died back (and was
>mechanically removed), and the fish were added, this cycle
>has increased in length to span several days.   Now that my
>fish load is back up near original levels (as of this past
>weekend), I hope I can let the fish feed the tank, but I
>plan to continue testing and watching.  While the algae is
>far from completely gone, it is almost completely under
>control again and is still diminishing.
>I could never have brought this tank back - I would have
>either given up or torn the tank down and started over -
>without the appreciation of the law of minimums and the
>techniques I've learned from this list, especially from
>discussions of the Sears/Conlin method and from remarks by
>Neil Frank, Karen Randall, and others who give consistent
>and carefully articulated advice without getting embroiled
>in the occasional flame wars.
>Thank you all again.
>Stu Elston (selston at utk dot edu)
>Department of Physics and Astronomy
>University of Tennessee
>Knoxville, Tennessee