Public Enemy #1: Black Brush Algae and how to fight it
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Public Enemy #1: Black Brush Algae and how to fight it

This is a discussion on Public Enemy #1: Black Brush Algae and how to fight it within the Planted Tank Specific forums, part of the Aquarium Related Chat category; Its a common issue that many of us have fought several times before, and quite a few conquer it for ...

  1. #1
    Mr Know It all
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    Default Public Enemy #1: Black Brush Algae and how to fight it

    Its a common issue that many of us have fought several times before, and quite a few conquer it for good. its black, green or red fluffy tufts appear on driftwood, decor, on slow growing plants and sometimes even the substrate itself.

    The biggest cause is an imbalance between Light, nutrients and carbon (co2 or substitute). Also it tends to favour harder water, as it makes the algae tougher to eat for several species.

    fix the problem

    1) Do you have too much light? This is what drives plant and algae growth. When there is not enough nutrients or co2 for your lighting, algae grows. You would be suprised at how often stock lighting options on newer tanks overkill the lighting on a planted tank. Do not use Watts per Gallon, i cringe when i hear that term because it is innacurate when you compare t12, t8, t5, t2, LED, Halides, etc to one another. PAR is the measurement of light we need. Here is more info: PAR - the real way to measure light
    I cannot stress enough that this is the biggest factor. If its a hood and you figure out you are getting too much light, hopefully you can use 1 less bulb, if not, then you are stuck reducing how long your lights are on. 12 hours on is often too much, 8-10 hours seems the average. CO2 does not = a need for higher PAR, it allows for you to go higher, but also enables you to get decent growth at lower lighting levels (which means less trimming)

    2) Increase or stabilize your co2, thats the biggest thing, if its diy, use two containers and swap em every other week, or use the jello method. If you dose metricide or excel for 'co2' then i would recommend upping the doses to 3x a week. Both light and CO2 utilize nitrates to drive plant growth, if theres an abundance of co2, the plant will spend less nitrogen to get co2, and more to absorb the surrounding light. This will out compete algae. This link goes over co2 and its substitute: http://www.bcaquaria.com/forum/plant...on-dioxide-81/

    3) If you notice the Algae in only a certain spot, check for plant debris or watch the plant leaves to see if there is even flow there. if there isn't flow in an area, then there isn't as many nutrients and available carbon there for plants to utilize, so algae grows. Sometimes a power head or redirecting the outflow will help ease these issues. Remember that a higher current in your tank will often better a planted tank than keeping the surface completely still to maximize co2 concentration (the gain isn't really that much).

    4) Test water parameters at the end of the week before the change and adjust EI regiment as needed. This will help, http://www.bcaquaria.com/forum/plant...d-tanks-23940/
    if you do not know what EI is, then go here: http://www.bcaquaria.com/forum/plant...ated-index-82/

    5) Stock an algae fighting crew, SAE's normally will eat BBA, unless your water hardness is incredibly high. There are other fish, many closely related to the SAE, but some have luck with Mollies, american flag fish, and amano shrimp. Almost always if you overfeed your tank, they wont touch much of the BBA.

    6) trim away affected areas on plants, remove as much as possible. If you try plucking little bits off it may float somewhere else.

    Treating, this is the most argued upon section, there's several ways to do this. KEEP IN MIND DO ALL OF THE ABOVE FIRST OR YOUR PROBLEM WILL NEVER GO AWAY. Using these methods is to remove the algae AFTER you tackled all of the possible causes.

    1) Excel Dosing
    -Tank outbreak, 1.5ml per gallon every second day, over a period of 10-14 days. Dose before Lights out, so it doesn't break down from light (some say 2.5 ml, but you risk your shrimpies). Some do 2.5ml first day and 1.5ml from then on.
    -Spot treating, 1.5ml per gallon in a container (prevents over dosing the tank), and syringe/baster it on affected areas. I recommend filter being off 30 minutes
    -misting, 1.5ml/gallon in the spray bottle, drain out tank to needed level, or remove piece you are spraying, and spray away, finish you water change.
    -For Scaleless fish (ie clown loaches) and arros, dose half as much, theres been reports of sensitivity. If you wish to take an extra precaution, water change before turning filter on.

    2) Metricide 14 Dosing - Similar to excel, slightly stronger, and cheaper, dose half as much as excel (for those exact, 1.7x stronger than excel). Please leave metricide vs excel arguments elsewhere. Do not use the activator that comes with the jug, dispose of it at a local pharmacy.

    3) H202, hydrogen peroxide (standard store bought 3%)
    -Spot Treating - 3 Ml per gallon in a container, turn off filter, baster it onto affected areas, wait 30 minutes, 30-50% water change, i recommend spacing this out from several days to a week between treatings. As it is an oxidizer and your plants will go insane around it. Be ready with a stick to scare away shrimp, they can perish if they forage too long in an area being treated.
    -tank treatment - recommended only after you have spot treated and destroyed most of the brush. Dose 2 mL per gallon, let sit for 30 minutes, then water change. Continue weekly until brush is gone, it should slowly weaken and destroy the remaining brush while keeping to safe levels of the h202. 4mL/gallon will likely kill fish and invertibrates.

    4) Bleach, 1 part bleach:20 parts water, dip decor, plastic plants, etc, anything non porous and not alive. Leave over night, Rinse a lot, then soak it in water + dechlorinator (or let it dry out completely in a breezy, warm area)

    with all methods, the algae will turn rusty red, then turn to cloudy white/gray then it will be munched upon by your stock (in most cases)

    Recommended techniques of spot treament:

    1) Lower tank level as you would a water change
    2) Mist affected areas with metricide/excel (DO NOT INHALE!)
    3) Spot treat areas under the water line as recommended.

    If outbreak is in the foreground cover, grab a clear container, Cut a hole in the botton of it big enough for your baster/syringe tip. Now you got a treatment container. Place it over the affected area, Treat it, weight it down with a flat rock or similar weight. This can even be done with filter still on.

    Upkeep:

    Keep on top of your EI dosing, dont let your co2 fizzle out and jump on the BBA if it appears again before it becomes an outbreak.

    Some go further and dose metricide/excel to the water column daily. Its a form of carbon afterall. from seachem
    "On initial use or after a major (> 40%) water change, use 1 capful (5 mL) for every 40 L (10 gallons*). Thereafter use 1 capful for every 200 L (50 gallons*) daily or every other day. Dosing may be slowly increased in high-growth aquariums. For smaller dosing please note that each cap thread is approximately 1 mL."
    Halve that for metricide 14. Others overdose daily, do so at your own risk.

    Low Tech tanks often have to live with algae, most algaes can be kept down with balance of plant load, light and fish stock, that is the goal of high tech and low, but low tech tanks develop much slower. For brush algae though, little else can be done to limit its growth beyond balancing. Rely on removal of the algae affected parts to prevent its spreading, after all low tech is supposed to be low maintnence. Adding excel in a low tech set up may cause nutrient deficiencies in your plants since growth will increase, so dont mistaken nutrient deficiencies for excel sensitivity.

    Warnings:

    -Excel/metricide/h202: Melts Vals and other plants, Depending on dosage, hardness of water, and the plant itself, results will vary and some have successfully grown vals with either of the three.
    -h2o2: Warning to higher PH tanks, ie cichlid, It poses a greater danger to live stock at higher PH. Lower dose if you must use h2o2, otherwise go for excel/metricide.
    -h2o2: Some dose without a water change, consecutive days (or every other day) of spot treatment have shown to cause nitrate/nitrite spikes meaning bio media is being killed off. If you choose this method, keep in mind results were not much different than with a water change. But if you insist, reduce the dosage.
    -h2o2: Consumer grade is most common at 3%. 6% can still be found though, make sure you read your bottle. Don't bother with commercial/industrial grade, not worth it to dilute, its dirt cheap to buy in any store as it is.
    -THESE ARE CHEMICALS/TOXINs... Remember that, dont be stupid. eye protection, gloves and a well ventilated room are recommended. Treat them as you would your most powerful household cleaners, Just because they may not have an overpowering smell or instant melt skin effect doesn't mean they cant harm you. I've worked in chemical plants and refineries, i've seen what long term exposure does to people.

    Closing Thoughts:

    As with most of our Aquarium Hobby topics, Most of what we know is word of mouth, others experiences and general consesus of "how things are done." I am no expert, im not tom barr, what i am though is a forum addict, i've read many places and many sites on google, i own several Books on Planted tanks, and i've experimented at my fishies expense aswell, that is why im sharing this. There are several opinions on every matter, some completely wrong, many completely valid, so dont be suprised to hear different on how things are done.

    Remember one key point: Different Results for different people, and different people are willing to put more at risk than others. I listed dosages as safe for fish, not most effective. If you play with the numbers, by all means go for it, know that you risk fish and your plants the greater you increase.

    as for moderators, feel free to ammend this, correct, if you feel its wrong or i disappear. I'll do my best to keep the topic current.

    Lastly, If you have any issues, especially trying to figure out about your lighting, feel free to reply in this thread. Just remember we need information
    1. Tank length
    2. Substrate to bottom of bulb distance (if cfl, is it vertical or horizontal)
    3. Fixture type (t8, t5, LED, PC, CFL), even link to actual fixture or aquarium kit.
    4. How long are your Lights on for?
    5. CO2 information. None, diy, injected, or substitute
    6. What ferts do you dose and what schedule
    Last edited by neven; 01-29-2012 at 09:38 PM. Reason: Rewrote the first section

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  3. #2
    Forum Resident thefishwife's Avatar
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    This is great, thanks for posting!

  4. #3
    hoolagal
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    where were you last week !?!?! just kidding, this is super helpful and i am going to print it out and if the bbs comes back i will have these instructions ready ... really appreciate it

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    Forum Novice neoh's Avatar
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    I had nasty bba that would attach itself to my driftwood, had it for months. The way I got rid of it was adding a powerhead to the tank. Not only am I seeing better growth from my plants, but the BBA is gone.

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    Mr Know It all
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    yea the powerheads really help, for a small tank the dirt cheapest POS will give enough current so that the nutrients and co2 disperse nicely without having your fish struggle to stay put

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    Forum Resident alym's Avatar
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    You can also check out our blog, I've been documenting the spray method with metricide with awesome success! ;-)
    Alym Amlani

    Currently tankless!

  8. #7
    Mr Know It all
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    Little update, i must stress the clean up crew part (#5).

    after getting my tank into EI dosing regularly, stabilizing Co2, adjusting the photo period, gettin my current somewhat decent, i've spot dosed with h202. It killed the area's right out for the most part, fizzed like hell.

    My plants survived, the brush looks gray, and dead where i treated, but i failed on aspect. Not a large enough clean up crew to eat the leftovers. almost 2 weeks later, i still have dead algae on my drift wood, even with reduced feedings. So a small shrimp crew doesn't suffice.

    also to note, 2 shrimp wouldn't leave where i was treating, they just wouldn't give ground despite being pestered with tweezers, the h202 killed them within the day, all others survived though (the smallest ones and the oldest ones lived fine). So with this said, i'd recommend to definately spray where you can, then spot treat where you must

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    Gonna sticky this one.
    135g - community
    60g Diamond - brackish tank with 2 Figure 8's,dragon goby, and 4 orange chromides



    Homer the Fahaka
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  10. #9
    Mr Know It all
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    Updated. H202 section embelished, added section for spot treatment

  11. #10
    Mr Know It all Mferko's Avatar
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    for the bleaching trick, it works great, and its the reason i dont employ any algae eaters, I have a cooler of bleach-water on my balcony i reuse over and over, but you dont need to rinse it with water full of dechlorinator thats just a waste of money on dechlorinator, instead rinse it with normal tapwater then let it sit outside until it is 100% BONE DRY (sometimes i use a hairdryer to make sure or speed things up)
    chlorine is a gas at room temp, all of it will be driven off, give it a good sniff to make sure its dry enuff inside.
    i do this once a month it keeps all the lace rock almost bone white, it also has the bonus of resetting the tank environment/territories and help with aggression.

 

 
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