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It's time: The algae experiments


nabokovfan87
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I have been dealing with algae in my tanks for a very, very, very, very, very long time and I'm literally just done with it and about to throw everything I can.  I kid you not, you can find a video of me taking an hour or two of my day scraping the BBA off of my mopani tank with a glass scraper tool because I had no other method to try to remove it that could touch it.

Tank Setup Details Post
History of the tank Post

I am going to run some tests here and I want to try to log those results for the greater good.  There is a few key notes here that I want to mention up front.
A.  I am not going to change lighting and Fertilizer dosing at all.
B.  One tank is sand, the other is Seachem Flourite Black.  Both tanks have different types of wood and different levels of algae issues.
C.  I will only be trying to fix the issue with a series of assumptions (hypotheses) to test as to why the algae is in the tank.
D.  I am literally willing to fill the tank with bleach at this point and sterilize it and start over, if I could confirm it would solve the issue.  Unfortunately, I cannot, more on this later.
E.  I do need some help, guidance, and push/emotional support to eradicate this stuff.  I have already received a ton of guidance from brilliantly smart individuals and I want to try to approach this with common methods and with very drastic ones if need be.  I want this to HELP someone who has algae and just wants to try to get rid of it. 

First, I want to post this sheet that I found elsewhere on the forum digging for solutions one day.  I feel like it can help and it will be a tool for this type of an issue for other hobbyists.

Secondly, I want to start with a very specific question.  Has anyone here robustly tested easy carbon (or other products like this) and found a "best practices" method for stubborn algae that has infested a tank?  If we know lights and fertilizers are not the issue, if we can specifically hone in on the Plants vs. Algae issue and plan to use chemicals to fight it.... what is the best regiment that has worked for you?

1726486397_EIDosingandcommonAlgea.jpg.30cfce9788bf8f6ce907d041d8f3c2b1.jpg.1ea66a5ca3c318aaf675b629d7352218.jpg
Edit:  Found this!
https://www.aquariumcoop.com/blogs/aquarium/liquid-co2

Quote

How often should I use liquid carbon? Dosing with Easy Carbon is very simple, since the bottle already comes with a pump head. Dose 1 pump (1 ml) of Easy Carbon per 10 gallons every other day for low light aquariums. Use the same dosage on a daily basis for medium to high light aquariums. When in doubt, start with a lower dosage and increase the dosing after evaluating its effects for two weeks.

Liquid carbon can also be used for spot treatment on stubborn algae like black beard algae. Turn off the filter and circulation pumps, and use a pipette to spray a few leaves underwater with Easy Carbon as a test. After a few minutes, you can turn on the filter again. If the algae has been affected, you should see signs of weakening and discoloration in 4-7 days. If the spot treatment is successful, try targeting a few more leaves the next week. Do not overdose the tank beyond the recommended amount of liquid carbon or else the plants in the aquarium may be adversely affected.

Why isn’t Easy Carbon getting rid of algae? If algae is not going away despite regular usage of Easy Carbon, then most likely the tank is too unbalanced in terms of lighting and/or nutrients. Try reducing your daily lighting schedule in 2-hour increments using a power outlet timer, and wait at least 2 weeks to evaluate the results before making another major change.

If your aquarium consistently has very low nitrate levels around 0-5 ppm, your plants may not be getting enough nutrients, so trying dosing some Easy Green all-in-one fertilizer according to the directions. If your aquarium always has above 40 ppm nitrate, you can reduce excess nutrients from the water by doing more frequent water changes, feeding less fish food, or moving some fish out of the tank.

For more information on plant nutrients, read our full article on choosing the right aquarium plant fertilizer for you. Best of luck with your planted tank, and enjoy nature daily.

 

Edited by nabokovfan87
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On 10/19/2022 at 8:18 AM, nabokovfan87 said:

I have been dealing with algae in my tanks for a very, very, very, very, very long time and I'm literally just done with it and about to throw everything I can.  I kid you not, you can find a video of me taking an hour or two of my day scraping the BBA off of my mopani tank with a glass scraper tool because I had no other method to try to remove it that could touch it.

I am going to run some tests here and I want to try to log those results for the greater good.  There is a few key notes here that I want to mention up front.
A.  I am not going to change lighting and Fertilizer dosing at all.
B.  One tank is sand, the other is Seachem Flourite Black.  Both tanks have different types of wood and different levels of algae issues.
C.  I will only be trying to fix the issue with a series of assumptions (hypotheses) to test as to why the algae is in the tank.
D.  I am literally willing to fill the tank with bleach at this point and sterilize it and start over, if I could confirm it would solve the issue.  Unfortunately, I cannot, more on this later.
E.  I do need some help, guidance, and push/emotional support to eradicate this stuff.  I have already received a ton of guidance from brilliantly smart individuals and I want to try to approach this with common methods and with very drastic ones if need be.  I want this to HELP someone who has algae and just wants to try to get rid of it. 

First, I want to post this sheet that I found elsewhere on the forum digging for solutions one day.  I feel like it can help and it will be a tool for this type of an issue for other hobbyists.

Secondly, I want to start with a very specific question.  Has anyone here robustly tested easy carbon (or other products like this) and found a "best practices" method for stubborn algae that has infested a tank?  If we know lights and fertilizers are not the issue, if we can specifically hone in on the Plants vs. Algae issue and plan to use chemicals to fight it.... what is the best regiment that has worked for you?

1726486397_EIDosingandcommonAlgea.jpg.30cfce9788bf8f6ce907d041d8f3c2b1.jpg.1ea66a5ca3c318aaf675b629d7352218.jpg

Thank you for trying all this!

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On 10/18/2022 at 11:31 PM, TheSwissAquarist said:

Thank you for trying all this!

For sure!  I have tried a lot of things, and I have tried the same things many different ways.  We'll see how it goes, but I am going to try as hard as I can to be as precise as need be for this thing to be helpful 🙂 .

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On 10/19/2022 at 2:18 AM, nabokovfan87 said:

Has anyone here robustly tested easy carbon (or other products like this) and found a "best practices" method for stubborn algae that has infested a tank? 

I have tried daily dosing of easy carbon for weeks on end…. I havent been particularly impressed with its efficacy.  Since stopping it, I have not seen a rebound…

I have of late been avoiding easy Iron, keeping feeding a bit lighter, lean dosing fertilizers, lighting with a siesta period.

 

weekly I clean tank walls and remove technical items with growth for a cleaning outside the tank and soaking them with hydrogen peroxide before replacing.  Spot treating rocks, and wood and plants with hydrogen peroxide with filtration off for an hour before restarting. 10 ml in a 29 gallon tank 1 spot per day.

If a plant gets heavy algae on it I trim the area or pull the plant to give it an overnight soak in carbonated water.

 

i have American Flag Fish in quarantine to deploy in another month after quarantine…

 

my 20 gallon has no visible Algae anymore.  Minimal treatment to it, just keeping ferts lean and lighting the same and no easy iron.

 

the 29 gallon display presents well, but requires work every few days to douse little fires as they erupt from a smolder..

 

i am hopeful the flag fish takes over a lot of the removal from plants..

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On 10/19/2022 at 7:58 AM, Pepere said:

weekly I clean tank walls and remove technical items with growth for a cleaning outside the tank and soaking them with hydrogen peroxide before replacing.  Spot treating rocks, and wood and plants with hydrogen peroxide with filtration off for an hour before restarting. 10 ml in a 29 gallon tank 1 spot per day.

Very very helpful bits here.  When you take the stuff outside of the tank and soak it, what is your method for this?  I do have some ideas on "how" but clearly when I did the treatments before I didn't do a great job.

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On 10/19/2022 at 5:18 PM, nabokovfan87 said:

When you take the stuff outside of the tank and soak it, what is your method for this?  I do have some ideas on "how" but clearly when I did the treatments before I didn't do a great job.

Depends on the parts.  I disassemble my Tidal 35 and put all the small bits in a bowl after rubbing off what I can with a  brush and pour on the hydrogen peroxide. Floating plant corrals and airline tubing and tops of ugf tubes get same treatment.

 

bigger things like outflow of hob and heater tubes are scrubbed down and wrapped in hydrogen peroxide soaked paper towels…

 

everything gets rescrubbed and I spray everything down again with hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle and let sit for 10 minutes thN rinse, reassemble, replace.

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I will add a link to this post for the sake of ease on the OP.  I got the bottle of easy green and I wanted to lay out the first set of plans here.

Test 1: Low light, small infestation of "persistent" algae (Staghorn / BBA)
Test 2: High light, CO2 Dosing, heavy infestation of "persistent" algae (Staghorn / BBA)

Fake of clarity, I am going to refer to the low light tank as "right tank" and high light tank as "left tank" which is their position in the room.  I'll go ahead and break down the setups for anyone who is curious.

 Left Tank (High Light):
-29G Tank with glass lid
-36" Fluval Planted 3.0 LED set at 30%
-Tidal 55 Filtration, Sicce Nano Syncra Powerhead w/ spraybar
-Pressurised CO2 Diffuser
-Ghost Wood
-Seiryu Stone
-Seachem Flourite Black substrate
-Plants: Staurogyne Repens, Taiwan Moss, Hygrophilia Pinnatifida, Some anubias nana petite (but not much, not expected to recover).
-Dosing plan: Easy Green, 1 dose 1x per week (Sundays).  Easy Carbon, 1 dose every day
-Notes:  There is a specific branch / section of moss under the light.  The plan is on sundays I will spot dose that section with the full dosage in that spot and then fill the tank up as required with maintenance which will spread the Easy Carbon around the tank once the equipment turns back on.  This is about a 12" section of branch that has been covered in this algae for over 6 months.  The algae was removed as best as possible and has returned, feeding it again to the rest of the tank in force.  This one specific spot on the tank is a key point of this test!
-Notes2: Of note.... this tank has amano shrimp.

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Screenshot_20221020-224706.png.cca3834d0ee0017693dc7109c021165a.png
The problem spot mentioned:
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20221020_225335.jpg.695baa74e68cbf8b182d12e690c0b330.jpg

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Right Tank (Low Light):
-29G tank with glass lid
-24" Aquasky LED light set at 25%
-Mopani Wood, Malaysian Driftwood
-Lava Rock (Red)
-Caribsea Sand Substrate
-Plants: Varieties of Anubias, Susswassertang
-Notes:  This is the same algae in both tanks as everything that was infested started from the same set of tubs.  Tanks are kept in very similar condition and same maintenance schedule.
20221020_225134.jpg.cd0e3bac4c34605f52eba7ae923b9106.jpgScreenshot_20221020-224711.png.46e6b70b351afb5db227a726e35050bc.png
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Edited by nabokovfan87
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On 10/20/2022 at 4:28 PM, Patrick_G said:

Some photos would be great, also how old are the tanks and what kind of fertilizer are you using? 

Left tank is up for just under 1 year. Previously all this stuff was in a 75G / 29G at the old house setup for years.  The Algae started about.... ~3 years ago I would say. Nothing serious until things went into tubs and nitrates and everything lingered and it went off.  I totally didn't mention it, but had intended to.  One of the variables here is that I am certain this is also coming from the water supply in some method.  So when I do something like water changes to remove the spores, it's not working and actually encourages growth if the timing is right.  It's happened 3-4 times where I get a massive boost of algae following a big change.  I've also tried smaller, more constant changes, blackouts, nothing stops this stuff or recedes it.

So yeah... here we are with chemicals now. 

Right tank is technically up for 3-4 months at this point and was barebottom for a little bit of that time (about half).  It's been contaminated with stuff because it was under the stairs (spiral staircase) in a house with construction and pups.  It's been cleaned thoroughly, moved, and setup now for about 3-4 weeks at this point, if I am recalling correctly.  Filtration, equipment, all of that stuff has been running for many, many months just on tubs and other conditions, as well as the plants and hardscape.

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On 10/20/2022 at 8:07 PM, Patrick_G said:

Anecdotally I’ve had luck with Excel when I’ve had stubborn bba.

I've heard that's the one to use, specifically for this stuff.  I have amano shrimp in the most infested tank and someone on the forums here had mentioned some severe issues with shrimp and excel.  I asked for the details, but I don't think the issue was clarified.  I have had some stress signs last time I was doing easy carbon and so I wasn't doing it as constant.  I am going to be speecifically following the directions to try what I can at their risk and excel is next up on the list.  dosing actual CO2 you'd expect the plants to just grow like weeds, but the algae definitely has the foothold and is out competing everything and every batch of plants I dump into the tank.

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Photos added. 

I will add some much older photos of where we started here for the sake of those who want to see it.  Trying to get rid of this stuff,

I have:
-Completely removed all hardscape and soaked it, all plants, etc. (RR Treatment, peroxide)
-Completely recovered a ton of anubias, lost a few moreso recently with the latest spike in the main tank
-This past week, details in my journal post, I removed a TON of algae manually with the tank and cut about 300+ S. Repens leaves off and tried to spread out the plants a little bit.
-Running separate equipment for each tank at all time for any maintenance for these two tanks
-Literally lost the urge/willpower to stare at this stuff and went literal on it....


When I took the plants out of the totes following moving, this was the condition of everything:
Initial Setup:
20210701_153204.JPG.f0ca5ebc58a25a1230c02163bf777c26.JPG
After the tubs:
You can see the Staghorn front and center, the very bright red BBA everywhere else.  This was the worst of it.....
20220311_162240.JPG.76f94b9abf643b4eb429447381036159.JPG

Left tank, this is how / when the algae started to really take hold.  It went from being a minor thing to being this structure almost like tufts all over the wood in flow spots.  You can also get a feel for how many times I've bought 10+ plant pots and tried to out compete this stuff and failed.
1013678471_blackalgaeonwood1.JPG.075d20d59ccdbdb82e871df8428f88d5.JPG1013678471_blackalgaeonwood1.JPG.075d20d59ccdbdb82e871df8428f88d5.JPG

This picture is from the previous setup (prior to two 29G setups) about 3 years ago and this was what it started off as, potentially:
2142357827_75GTank-floweringAnubias.jpg.eec965f858f70bbb2c9123198f570b26.jpg

 

black algae on filter and wood.JPG

Edited by nabokovfan87
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Minor update. I'm doing a week blackout, 4 hour lighting window following that.  This is with regards to left tank. I will still be doing the daily dose of the liquid carbon and keeping an eye on everything.  Details in the journal for the tank with context and all that as to why, but.... I wanted to mention the week delay and slight alteration to the plan for right now.

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On 10/21/2022 at 10:50 PM, TheSwissAquarist said:

So far my go-to cure for algae on plants is reverse respiration. For the rest, I just scrape it off.

Has been done. I've got the photos of the before / after in the RR thread.

 

Didn't work on some of the hardscape and then because of the wood needing to be dried out I guess that limits some options. The algae did die off / change color after RR treatment, but it wasn't phased. It's back, didn't really stop it much. This stuff is way too resilient and it blooms, spores in the water, and then it just goes crazy again.

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No appreciable difference at all after 1 week on the right side tank with the lower overall infestation of this stuff.  There is one specific spot that is pretty easy to monitor and track growth. 

I will keep at current pace on that tank and try to run a longer term test as mentioned to really test what can get rid of this stuff.

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Photos from the WC today.  This is of the infested tank, following 1 week of blackout.  I did the direct treatment on "problem spot" shown below.  It might be slightly difficult to see, but the open spot on the wood was cleared of the moss so I could more directly treat this stuff.  It's very likely on the wood and growing through the moss itself.  More on this in other photos, but it's difficult to see because the plants are above water.  The wood is covered in this black slime, which is that algae and makes it difficult to see the wood itself.  You can also see all the black tufts/spots on the lower section of the wood as well.  In the moss itself, you see the dark green / grey coloration which is that algae again growing a bit too well.

20221030_165719.jpg.fb0a1326c30dc3adf8ce397d1e85e6da.jpg20221030_165727.jpg.b0276fb9ebbadd1f324b90f01f3beec0.jpg20221030_165733.jpg.4d38bb6855c9c10fb44dba7604ef0a7c.jpg

 

This is another section of moss in a shady spot underneath the above photos.
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This is from the rock over towards the right of the tank. Again, the dark spots are the algae in question.

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This is the S. Repens on the front left of the tank.  It's a little difficult to see the black algae on the black substrate, but there is some algae all over there.
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This is a bigger shot of the S. Repens.  The substrate is all over the place from filling the tank back up.  I hope the Hygrophilia pops back to life. We'll see.
20221030_165758.jpg.da65bab9dcf5f31c2820c1819564d02a.jpg

Edited by nabokovfan87
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A few days later and now we have moss showing issues and signs of not enjoying that spot treatment. I do see new growth but what was green is now very pale and turning into goop of sorts. We'll see how it progresses. I might have to rotate around where the spot treatment goes if this is going to be the norm and this moss is sensitive to the treatments.

I believe this is Taiwan moss.

20221104_163107.JPG.06fdc519e9545b3431b5f943725b4068.JPG

Edit: Adding this here if it might help someone. It also explains a lot of the struggle with this stuff.

 

Edited by nabokovfan87
added video
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First, I will say that after thinking about everything, I think someone who modifies an easy carbon / flourish excel type of product with an actual glass / acrylic dropper top will make life a bit easier on the hobbyist.  Even having something like a dropper top similar to how essential oils are used might be helpful (5-10 drops per gallon, etc.) so that you can slowly spot dose from the bottle.

Based on my own health issues, I have decided I probably should be using nitrile gloves and I hope it says something somewhere on all of these products about trying to keep this stuff from being absorbed into the skin.  I haven't looked, but maybe that's something we as hobbyists need to make more aware of.  It reminds me of edd china and why he wears the gloves he does.

From ACO this is their warning:

Quote

Can be irritating if it gets into your eyes, nose, or mouth. It can cause stomach upset if swallowed. If you get Easy Carbon on your skin, rinse off. If you get it in your eyes or mouth, rinse thoroughly for 15 minutes. For USA customers reference the poison.org website.


A bit of math for the sake of it.

1 bottle = 500 ml = ~500 pumps
treating my 30G tank, you're looking at let's call it 165 treatments
which would last just under 6 months if you're talking about daily treatments. 

Considering I'm running two tanks side by side.... this stuff (whatever it is) has to work effectively.

I am trying to double check the info, but I read somewhere or heard on Irene's video above that the glutaraldehyde will break down in light, so dosing it with the lights on might explain why it's "not working" as well I as I would like.  I may end up moving things to dose right after the lights go out just to test if we see better performance.

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Normal tank maintenance on left half of the room today.  I did the normal things, but I am a bit hampered by a hand injury that is still healing. I gloved up and got to work.

I did a slightly different method for treatment this week and I did end up pruning 3-4 S. Repens leaves.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but there was still some stuff to get out of the tank.  The pre-filters weren't as caked with the typical algae as they usually have been, which seems like a good place to start when we look at progress.

Lighting adjustment seems to have helped cut things down slightly, along with everything else going on, so that's a good change.

Alright, let's dive in.  First, this is the damaged area and I did see some of this on the lower section of moss as well.  Wherever the easy carbon touched, the moss melted back pretty hard.

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We do see some of the brown / dead spots that do have new growth and that is a positive sign.  I don't expect the moss to return to it's full color, but we will see.

Second up, I want to show you the spots where I treated for this week.  Again, I did a slightly different method this time around.  I dosed it into the water, not out of water.  I also diluted it slightly to a 50/50 ratio with tank water.

I treated the moss on the rock in a few locations. Some on the rock surface as well as the right half of the rock.
20221106_200013.jpg.6027f4853b920ff2e1a49e91b3b1e1b0.jpg

I also treated the back half of the stump as shown below.  This is mostly a follow up from last time, but I don't think I quite got all of this stuff and so I was a bit more careful.
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Finally I treated one piece of anubias on the wood where I saw some on the roots and leaves.  I also treated a little opening in the wood that has similar tufts of the algae as we see on the stump.  The picture is very, very difficult to see.  If we do see some white / dead algae then it'll be a lot easier next time around to photograph.

20221106_200032.jpg.14bf9a9b532cea33109baf49830a604f.jpg

I let the chemicals sit with filtration off for around 5 minutes and then finished up all my cleaning. 

I'll keep an eye on these spots throughout the week and we'll see how things unfold.

The tank on the right side I will end up dosing a section and lift up the wood to treat a few spots. For now, I am just treating the water as directed for a low light tank and so it's not much of a concern.  The tank has fry in it so I don't really want to disturb things too much.  As mentioned, the hand injury, so this tank is going to get a water change and stuff on Wednesday when the time is correct for my schedule to do so.

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