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BBA Infesting Tank - Need help to find root cause. I have recorded A LOT of my tank parameters for reference w/ pictures.

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Hello friends, :classic_smile:

I have been struggling with BBA proliferating in my tank after previously battling green string algae. Currently, BBA is the predominate algae out of control but hair algae is also making a comeback. I will list a number of my tank parameters below and hope that someone has any ideas on how to modify my tank care to stop helping BBA (and hair algae for the matter) grow. I'm feel pretty defeated as of late and am contemplating getting out of the "high tech" tank territory since it has been quite problematic for the past number of months with algae.

Background Story

Some background, in August, I decided to switch to using Aquarium Co-Op's Easy Green (EG) from Seachem Excel in addition to Easy Iron (mistake). The reason I added Easy Iron (EI) was to try and support mini Alternanthera Reineckii and thought I should add some more iron to help contribute to the vibrant red color. I was dosing 2 pumps, twice a week with EI and EG. That's when the BBA started. After doing that for 2 weeks, I stopped using EI altogether thinking that was the cause. Perhaps foolishly, I also thought that I could "out compete" the BBA by starting to now dose EG daily (following George Farmer's fertilizing method) since I am running a high tech setup. I started dosing EG daily for 5 weeks with weekly 50% water changes and the BBA remained steady or got slightly worse.

Presently, I switched back to dosing EG only twice a week still w/ weekly water changes. With every water change, I'm having to remove a lot of BBA including bleach dipping my C02 diffuser and cutting the top of all the Monte Carlo Carpet each time, trimming plants and replanting stems, etc. The BBA may have gotten slightly worse tbh after I stopped dosing fertilizers daily and switched to twice a week.

I don't know what the main cause is. Perhaps my lights are too intense. Perhaps I need to use a different fertilizer. Perhaps by C02 is not dialed in. What I do know is that BBA is thriving now in this tank ever since I started dosing EI and it won't go away. Before I had BBA issues, I had hair algae issues. This has made it almost impossible to keep flame moss (or any kind of moss) b/c algae will inevitably grow on it.

Water Solution Testing

I took these measurements yesterday (10/25) before performing a 50% water change on my 22 gallon long tank. I should mention that the water I use is remineralized reverse osmosis water (RO) using Salty Shrimp "Shrimp Mineral" GH/KH+. I take RO water and remineralize to about 200-220 total dissolved solids (TDS). I follow this method from Flip Aquatics.

  • pH = 6.8
  • Ammonia = 0ppm
  • Nitrite = 0ppm
  • Nitrate = 5ppm

I still don't fully understand how interpret the GH/KH measurements but below are the number of drops it took to change the color of the GH/KH solution, respectively.

  • GH = 13 drops
  • KH = 6 drops


  • Monte Carlo carpet
  • Rotala Macrandra Mini = x9 stems
  • Rotala Indica = x6 stems
  • Flame moss - used to be on the rocks seen pictured but got too covered in BBA and hair algae and now treating in sperate bucket with Seachem Excel and Hydrogen Peroxide. You can see some of it in the one "nice" picture of my tank I included.
  • 3 Buce = there are 2 bigger buce you will see in the "nice" picture and 1 very small one elsewhere in the tank. I also removed the 2 big buce to treat separately with excel and H202 to kill BBA
  • Hydrocotyle Tripartita "Japan" = a few "clumps"
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii Bronze = 3


  • Celestial Pearl Danios = approx. 12
  • Galaxy Rasboras = approx. 4
  • Chili Rasboras = approx. 18
  • Phoenix Rasboras = 4
  • Pgymy Corydoras = approx. 8
  • Otto Catfish = approx. 6
  • Red Cherry Shrimp = approx. 8
  • Amano Shrimp = 3
  • Used to have 1 female betta - R.I.P :classic_unsure:

Lighting / Ferts / Filter / Water Temp / C02 / Type of Water / Substrate / Misc

I attached the screenshot of my Fluval Plant 3.0 light. Looking at another post on this forum, I'm wondering if my lights are too high. You will see that the light cycle starts at 12pm and ramps up to 100% at 12:30pm and goes till 6pm (6 hours total) . I just changed that today to reduce my lighting time in hopes that would slow down BBA growth. However, for the past number of months (6 or so), my light was starting at 11am and ramping to 100% at 11:30am and turning off at 6pm (7 hour total).

  • Filter - Oase Biomaster Thermo 350 w/ Seachem Matrix media, Seachem Purigen and filter wool
  • Water Temp - set to 74 degrees fahrenheit w/ heater that is apart of the Oase filter
  • Fertilizers - as mentioned above, I currently only use Easy Green
  • Lighting - Fluval Plant 3.0. It is handing about 1.5 feet above water.
  • C02 - 5 lbs. tank. Gets to 30ppm about an hour after the lights turn on. The C02 turns on 2 hours before lights turn on.
  • I take RO water and remineralize with Salty Shrimp "Shrimp Mineral" GH/KH+ to 200-220 TDS.
  • Tank size = 22 gallons (long)
  • My tank is in a basement that has a pretty consistent temp, however, I heat my tank as mentioned above. The tank is located next to a window sill so it does get a bit of indirect sunlight every day and it goes with the season. I live in the midwest US.
  • I started injecting oxygen into the tank for about 3 weeks now after I gave up for now on using water skimmers. I suffered to many fish deaths from my nano fish being sucked into water skimmers to their death. (See my other post - I have yet to follow up on it).
  • Substrate - ADA Aquasoil 2.0 with ADA Aquasoil Powder type on top.

Finally....I typed as much info as I knew to provide. If you have any questions, I'm happy to answer. Like I said, all this has made me want to get out of the high tech space for aquariums b/c of how many hours I have spent deep cleaning my tank and trying to diagnose the root cause of algae unsuccessfully. After being in the hobby for almost 2 years now, I still feel very much like a n00b and am humbled and frustrated! :classic_blink: 

Thank you for reading and your help!









Edited by Mr Aqua Man
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On 10/26/2021 at 4:51 PM, Mr Aqua Man said:

Hi @lefty o - thanks for the recommendation. I will consider performing a black out. Would you expect the BBA to start turning red and dying off after the black out? What's the intended result?

Hi @Streetwise, thank you for pointing that out!

the intended affect is to stop new growth, and slow the existing. 

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You are low on CO2. 

Remove all of the blue channel in your light schedule.

Have an 8 hour light schedule, just reduce the intensity 50%. You will bump it up slowly later.

Stop just dosing fertilizer with no goal in mind. Determine some ppm in common ratios and dose those numbers only. And make no changes in dosing for at least 3 weeks. That said, all in one fertilizers are not ideal for high tech tanks.

Are you dosing complete Micros?

Research and try Estimative Index dosing. Or try PPS Pro.

I will say it again, you are low on CO2.

I would spot dose Glut while getting everything thing else under control. Otherwise, you are going to spike ammonia.

Edited by Mmiller2001
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While I can't help with how best to change the conditions in a high tech tank to disfavor BBA, I can say with fairly decent certainty that its presence in an aquarium is not inevitable.  It comes from being infected with it, which is why I now take great care with anything new coming into my tanks. Good luck, and I am sorry to hear you caught BBA from somewhere.


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First, it’s a beautiful scape, I can tell you’ve put a ton of time a effort into it.
I’m mostly in agreement with @Mmiller2001. You should drop your light to 50% and cut the blue spectrum entirely. I’d probably leave the photoperiod alone for now, but you might need to increase it later on.  I’d also spot dose with excel (glut). I don’t have any experience with co2 so follow @Mmiller2001’s advice on that. I like the George farmer method so I just stick with that but cut the extra iron. 

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