Cyanobacteria (BGA)

Discussion in 'Algae' started by PM, 14 Jun 2008.

  1. PM

    PM Member

    Messages:
    611
    Location:
    London
    At the moment I just cannot get rid of my BGA, I remove as much as poss, and within 1 or 2 days it's EVERYWHERE again.

    Stats:
    CO2: Pressurized - 30PPM (drop checker)
    Filter: Eheim 2322
    Lights: 2x24W suspended (10 hours)
    Dosing: EI - K2PO4, KNO3, Trace all from Aqua Essentials.
    Water change: Weekly - tap water conditioned with Hagen stuff.

    What should I do? What is wrong? I thought this was caused by low CO2/sunlight/low ferts? But I don't seem to have any of these problems as far as I am aware! :(
     
  2. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    I have BGA in my Apistogramma tank at the moment. When I get it it's always down to two reasons;
    1. High organic load in the tank (this is a breeding tank and the fry are getting a lot of food and the tank isn't being disturbed or the mums will freak out)
    2. Poor circulation (the plants have been allowed to grow too much so the parents aren't disturbed)

    Give your whole tank and filter a really good clean. Try and get every bit of mulm out you can. Don't wash the biological media in tap water though; use tank water. Then do a series of daily water changes syphoning off all the BGA you can. You can go up to 50% a day water changes.

    Then look at the water flow. Make sure your filter is delivering as much flow as possible around the tank by trimming plants. You want to aim for around 10 times the tank volume being circulated if possible. If your filter isn't anywhere near this then another filter or a circulation powerhead will be needed.

    You will get rid of it, it just takes time.
     
  3. Matt Holbrook-Bull

    Matt Holbrook-Bull Founder

    Messages:
    963
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    the only really good way to remove the dreaded cyan is to blackout.

    follow a strict 3 day blackout.. turn off co2/lighting, do not feed and wrap it up. after that, the cyan will be gone, as well as alot of other algae types. Its worth doing.. cyan is a bacteria, not an algae.. only really a good blackout will kill the stuff suspended in the water.
     
  4. planter

    planter Member

    Messages:
    427
    Location:
    Surrey
    For me its always been poor circulation. I had the worst case of BGA on a 120 cm HC/HG scape which only started once the hair grass had grown dense. I went with the black out and it worked. After, I installed a powerhead (koralia) the type that are currently used in reef tanks and never had any trouble again. More recently ive noticed a little BGA under the substrate along the front of one of my tanks in the spot that get least water circulation. This was more easy to deal with by algae wiping and syphoning out.
     
  5. PM

    PM Member

    Messages:
    611
    Location:
    London
    hmm, well my filter is 500 ltrs per hour, and the tank is 54 ltrs (but obviously contains less water than that), so I think my flow is good! ALL of the plants visibly move in the current, and it's not over grown.

    I cleaned the filter about two months ago (after maybe 6 months) and it really wasn't that drtry. Also I replaced the white sponge last week.

    Really didn't want to have to do a blackout, but I reckon that's all that is left to try.

    What preparations should I make? What about aeration? I do not have an air pump and can't afford one right now. What do I cover it with? It seems scary but if this stuff doesn't go away then that's what's gonna have to happen! :?

    Thanks for your responses :D

    Paul
     
  6. Matt Holbrook-Bull

    Matt Holbrook-Bull Founder

    Messages:
    963
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    even though you have a good flow, you may have a bad circulation. Generally though, these problems occur due to poor water quality and/or other maintenance issues including co2/fert problems. Remember, even though your using a drop checker that shows everything ok, it doesnt mean that co2 is reaching all parts of the tank. so check and double check.

    You dont need to worry aobut aeration during a blackout. Obviously leave the filters and heater on, but turn off everything else.

    Blackout procedure:

    1. Carry out a 70% water change.. during this remove all signs of algae and cyan, scrape the glass, prune back any infected, weak or damaged leaves.

    2. wrap the tank in black bin liners.. taping these down so as not to let EVEN A SMALL AMOUNT of light in. Then cover the whole lot with a large blanket just to make sure.

    3. leave the tank for 3 days. Do not peak, feed or anything else. Any slight break in this will mean you have to start over. Dont worry, your plants will be fine.. in fact.. youll be amazed at how much theyve grown when you un wrap.

    4. After the period is over, unwrap. Switch everything else back on and carry out another thorough water change/maintenance session.

    then youre good to go.

    You must make sure that you do everything to try and remove any causes, or it could reoccur.

    Yes you have a good flowrate on your filter, but this is never the actual flow rate.. its effected by many things such as; length of hosing, filter media, how regular your filter maintenance is, obstacles in the way of the flow, age of the filter etc. Extra powerheads around the tank can help push water in/out of deadspots, as can clever scaping.

    Blacking out really isnt a scary thing :) its one of the best ways to 'reset' your system if its in dire troubles. But you have to be disciplined, be incredibly thorough in your covering, even a tiny bit of light will be enough to sustain spores/bacteria. You need to remember that algae/bacteria are a much smaller organism than a plant, therefore, they have no reserves like a plant does.. its this feature that youre exploiting with a blackout.

    good luck, and let us know how it goes.
     
  7. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Further to the preceding comments it would also be a good idea to review your dosing. Apart from circulation, waste buildup and maintenance faults, BGA is commonly associated with poor nitrates. Saying that you dose EI is ambiguous because it doesn't really tell us what quantities are being dosed. You could easily have miscalculated the numbers and you could be unintentionally underdosing. Also, is that 48 watts of T5 over a 14 gallon, or is it T8? If it's T5 then that could be a substantial amount of light. Blackouts are fine but they don't solve the problem.

    Typically a 14 USG should receive a little over 2 grams, or about 1/2 teaspoon KNO3 per week, however you may need a bit more if your particular tank happens to be a heavy nitrate consumer.

    Cheers,
     
  8. PM

    PM Member

    Messages:
    611
    Location:
    London
    Hi, it's T5 - the arcadia plant pros.

    I dose a Dash (1/4 tsp) of KNO3 every other day, along with a Smidgen (1/32 tsp)of K2PO4. And then a Smidgen of Trace on the other days. I have some baking measuring spoons to measure these amounts precisely. Does this amount seem okay? I have no idea about grams, or how to measure it that way.

    I also have 1 platy, 7 rummy noses, 5 black neons, 2 black phantom tetra, 2 otto, 3 shrimp, so I would have thought that I would get some nitrogen help from them!

    Admittedly the last few days I have been slacking with dosing, but this BGA problem started way before this.

    Right now my tank is an absolute mess, and cleaning it all again will only last a day or two so I'm not sure what to do phh..
     
  9. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    OK, yes, these are the baseline values. I tend to not rely so much the the fish waste because they contribute NH4 first which then becomes nitrate. The lighting is certainly high which may mean you need to tweak CO2 and nitrate a bit more. I would double the nitrate coming out of the blackout just as a precaution and re-assess after 3 weeks.

    Cheers,
     
  10. LondonDragon

    LondonDragon Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,301
    Location:
    London
    I have two filters in my tank and was still having problems with algea, since I added a pump which circulates much better CO2 distribution and nutrients things look great, the pump comes on when the CO2 comes on and goes off at the same time, I didn't see the point of it carry on working where there was no C02 being pumped in.
    Also I had check the dosing, I wasn't dosing enough ferts, I was following the guideline for EI but since I have a lot of plants and high light it just wasn't enough, in the end I dosed double the amoung recommended and its working great :) Just have to remember to dose it everyday, I have missed a dose or two a week, but I guess with the over dosing it didn't affect anything.
     
  11. Matt Holbrook-Bull

    Matt Holbrook-Bull Founder

    Messages:
    963
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    London makes a good point.. the original EI calculations were based on a normal biomass operating under 2w/g of T8 lighting.. so if you have more biomass, or T5 and/or more than 2wpg then you need to increase accordingly. Depending on the tubes, T5 outputs about 3 times more per watt, hence its popularity.

    Bear in mind that temperature will also drive growth, the lower the temp, the slower the system will run.. not by much admittedly, but it all adds up.

    The best way to check your dosing is to watch your plants and algae growth.. if your plants are showing deficiency then you need to tweak. similarly, if your having algae issues AND your showing signs of deficiency then you need to increase.. if your plants arent growing, the algae will be using what little there is and will flourish.
     
  12. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    This is the bit that got my attention! Maybe leaving a filter two months is fine when everything is fine but when you've got problems clean it weekly in old tank water getting all the mulm out when you do your large water change. Fresh water is the best way to get rid of almost every tank issue, algae included.
     
  13. Matt Holbrook-Bull

    Matt Holbrook-Bull Founder

    Messages:
    963
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    Eds dead right.. I missed this bit in your original post. 2 months is a long time in a planted tank where theres alot of detritus about all the time. I clean mine out monthly at the longest.
     
  14. PM

    PM Member

    Messages:
    611
    Location:
    London
    Cool, well I just spent ALL DAY cleaning the tank, glass, filter, plants (every leaf), and re-planted it all.

    though I threw away probably 60% of plants due to their poor condition. I kinda just planted them back any old how too :oops:

    From now on I will dose double my old fert regime and clean the filter monthly. I'm really cheesed off that I can't even afford any plants right now, but I will see how this BGA thing goes, and if it's okay then I'll start a journal for the scape development, thanks for your support :D

    Paul
     
  15. Matt Holbrook-Bull

    Matt Holbrook-Bull Founder

    Messages:
    963
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    If youve reduced biomass be very careful increasing dosage.. this can lead to higher excesses in the tank, and more issues.

    Its a horribly complex subject dosing, with so many parameters that the only really decent way to gauge how youre doing is to look at your plants. Getting a fast growing plant such as Hygro. Polysperma is a great way to monitor ferts, as its hows deficiencies way in advance of most other species. Its dirt cheap too.
     
  16. PM

    PM Member

    Messages:
    611
    Location:
    London
    Okayyy... SO!

    I super mega cleaned everything as I said before, upped the dosing a bit (about 60% more of each thing), and have better circulation than I've had in a long time (due to lots of pruning and re-arranging things in the tank).

    But I am still getting BGA, admittedly it's not as bad as before, but I still have to pick quite a bit out about twice a week :arghh:

    Any other suggestions? I can't STAND the stuff, I think I prefer other algae to this - at least you can just murk it with Excel!!
     
  17. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Well, you do need to lower your lighting, at least in the interim. You have a lot of light and it's not helping. Continue to do multiple water changes per week and increase your nitrate dosing to double the baseline value. It will take some time but eventually it will go away with elbow grease and high nitrates.

    Cheers,


    Edit: Actually Excel does in fact work, but high concentrations are required. Barr suggests - Large 70-90% water changes daily, vacuum as much of the algae as you can, dose Excel when the water level is low, allow it to remain for about 5 minutes, then slowly refill tank. This can be combined with a blackout.

    When you do your blackout you need to shut down CO2 but dose KNO3 nightly.

    Antibiotics can also be used if you can get it without prescription, or if it is an active ingredient in the algae fighting aisle of your LFS. The suggested antibiotic is Erythromycin. There's a chance it could also wipe out your filter bacteria so you'd have to be very careful. Remember that this treats the symptom not the cause. It's likely that with such high light you need to have higher KNO3 dosages in general. The safer course is to redo the blackout but do it properly. :?
     
  18. PM

    PM Member

    Messages:
    611
    Location:
    London
    Hi ceg4048, in my opinion the lighting isn't that high, 48W of T5 for 14USG - I had 96W of T5 on the same tank when had Iwagumi layout with no problems! (Was dosing with Seachem back then).

    Also the light unit is 20CM above the top of the tank (quite far esp. in proportion to the tank), so the bulbs are at least 50CM from any substrate. Therefore much of the light spreads far outside the tank. I can't reduce it in any way as that's the only unit I have! And it cost enough too. I'm gonna up my CO2, even more-on 1-2 bps ATM, but the last few days my drop checker has been a slightly darker green (which is very unusual for my tank)?

    I'll get some pics up over the week end. Even though I didn't really want to show a half baked layout :bored:
     
  19. Matt Holbrook-Bull

    Matt Holbrook-Bull Founder

    Messages:
    963
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    thats over 3 wpg of T5.. remember T5 output about 3 times the amount of light that a T8 does.

    Clives right, thats a whole lot of light.
     
  20. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Messages:
    1,276
    Location:
    Bexley, Kent
    This just isn't the case and I'd be interested in seeing where you got that figure from. T5's are better but not that much better. The longer the tube becomes the less of an improvement there is over T8's.

    As a rough guide T5 tubes around the 18 Watt figure are about 35% more efficient than equivalent T8 tubes. But at around the 54 Watt mark this figure comes down to about 15% more efficient.

    This if I remember correctly was for the same type of GE fluorescent tube in both T5 and T8. Measurement was using Lumens but this is fine for comparing the same type of tubes.

    James
     

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