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GSA and Phosphate

scoobiemandan

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29 Apr 2015
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Tank - Jewel Trigon 350
Lighting - Jewel Helialux 54W and cheap white LED strip at rear
CO2 - Easylife Liquid Carbon (6ml every day prior to lights on)
Filtration - Fluval 306/1150lph and APS EFX+2000/2000lph
Fertilisation routine - Easylife Profito (30ml weekly after water change)
Maintenance regime - 50% weekly WC, filters cleaned only when flow starts to drop

Only type of Algae I get in the tank is GSA. Covers my Anubias.

I have tried leaving the main Jewel LED light off meaning the cheap white LED bar at the back is the only light source (other than minimal natural daylight, not directly on tank). Removing affected leaves but new growth eventually ends up in the same state. Photo at end to show how low light this is.

Tested Phosphate levels as I'm led to believe that low Phosphate can be a contributing factor in the growth of GSA. 2ppm but I don't know how precise these Api tests are!

Going by pH and kH my CO2 would be around 7ppm, again I understand this is unproven and not very scientific. A drop checker in the tank stays blue so I am assuming CO2 levels aren't sufficient.

Before I go and splash out on CO2 injection I'm wanting to know thoughts on the relationship between Phosphate and GSA. How do I strike a balance with Phosphate when I'm also led to believe high concentrations of Phosphate can lead to outbreaks/blooms of other types of Algae?

I also have an Algae issue with my other tank of a different nature but I'll start a separate thread for that so as not to get to confused here.
 

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ian_m

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Contrary to what the internet says phosphate does not cause algae. I ran with 80ppm phosphate after timer pump failure for a week once. No algae, no fish issues but no monster plant growth either just a waste of fertiliser.

Algae is generally caused by poor plant health leading to plants dying feeding the algae.

You are also confusing liquid carbon with CO2 gas. Liquid carbon does not effect a drop checker or pH or GH only CO2 entering the water as carbonic acid (pH) or carbonate (GH) will change these parameters.

Algae on Anubias is very common, I have it, as they do not like higher light levels will help. I have mine shaded under the tank bracing bar to lower the light level. Even so I occasionally wash the Anubias in diluted liquid carbon to kill the algae.

So I suspect more fertiliser and liquid catbon and reduce light levels will help reduce algae levels. Careful with liquid carbon as obviously it is toxic in incorrect quantities to both fish and plants, though some people report x5 dosing levels with no issue. Some plants are not happy with liquid carbon and just melt away or take ages to adjust before finally thriving.
 

scoobiemandan

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Thanks for your reply.

I understand why you may think I'm confusing Liquid Carbon with CO2 but that's not the case. I was merely highlighting that I was using liquid carbon in the tank. Also, the mentioning of the drop checker was because it's still indicative of the levels or lack of levels of CO2 in the water column, I wasn't under the impression liquid carbon would affect this as well as I also knew that the drop checker would stay blue but for peace of mind sake, I put it in ;). However, I don't mind admitting, I'm not completely understanding of the reasoning of using liquid carbon?? I'm using it only because I stopped CO2 injection, or rather, when I moved tanks never restarted CO2 injection.

You say that high Phosphate does not cause Algae yet I see scientific studies that point to the contrary! What are we to believe eh? As I understand it, Algae spores consume Ammonia but Algae itself consumes Nitrogen and Phosphorus. I understand, furthermore that Phosphorus isn't, in itself, the cause of Algae but it appears to be a contributory factor in feeding already established Algae which stands to reason as Phosphorus is an essential element in photosynthesis. Haha, kinda answered my own question there I think, in that; If I don't have any other type of Algae and Phosphorus isn't a cause in itself then how is higher amounts going to promote the growth of any other Algae!

However, this now confuses me even more. If it's a case of Phosphorus being an essential element for Photosynthesis, why then is GSA attributed to low levels of Phosphorus?

Back to your post; Although the Anubias gets covered in GSA, I wouldn't say is in poor health. For instance, cutting off affected leaves only yesterday has encouraged new growth today, good healthy growth. There are no signs of deficiencies in the leaves that end up with the GSA, other than the fact they are covered in GSA.

Could you also please explain the reasoning behind more ferts and liquid carbon? The tank is rather sparsely planted so I'm assuming adding more ferts/carbon would exacerbate the issue by way of more of an excess of nutrients/carbon for the Algae. I'm a little concerned about adding more carbon because of the reasons you've highlighted.

I'd appreciate your further input :)
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Going by pH and kH my CO2 would be around 7ppm, again I understand this is unproven and not very scientific. A drop checker in the tank stays blue so I am assuming CO2 levels aren't sufficient.
You won't have 7ppm CO2, but all the plants you have don't require added CO2 (or liquid carbon), but you probably could do with more plants. If you have a higher plant mass it helps with tank stability, we don't know exactly why, but it definitely helps.

A floating plant, I like Limnobium, or a sub-surface floater like Hornwort <(Ceratophyllum demersum)> would help reduce GSA.
You say that high Phosphate does not cause Algae yet I see scientific studies that point to the contrary!
In un-polluted water phosphate levels are naturally very low, almost always well below 1ppm. As you add nutrients levels of plant biomass increase and certain plants (including cyanobacteria and filamentous & unicellular green algae) become more abundant.

We now live in a world that is awash with phosphorus (<"about 300% of what was present pre-industrialization">), added via sewage, optical brighteners in washing powder, agricultural run-off etc. There is very strong scientific evidence that phosphorus is the prime metric in eutrophication, of both terrestrial and aquatic environments and that we are adding about 5 kg/Ha P per year, and that the existing phosphorus reserve would take <"a thousand years"> to deplete, if we stopped adding it tomorrow.

cheers Darrel
 

ian_m

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You say that high Phosphate does not cause Algae yet I see scientific studies that point to the contrary
In unpolluted water phosphate is quickly consumed by algae (and plants), which the algae is then eaten by the next life up the food chain before the algae gets a chance to be an issue. However in polluted water there often isn't the next life up the food chain, killed/not present due to pollution so nothing to stop the algae multiplying out of control.


Could you also please explain the reasoning behind more ferts and liquid carbon? The tank is rather sparsely planted so I'm assuming adding more ferts/carbon would exacerbate the issue by way of more of an excess of nutrients/carbon for the Algae. I'm a little concerned about adding more carbon because of the reasons you've highlighted.
Excess ferts won't cause an issue, especially ready mixed that always tend to be more expensive water than fertiliser and extra liquid carbon does have a slight anti-algae effect. Once under control start reducing doses. I came back from multiple weeks away (tank set to holiday dosing mode) and some plants had BBA, so for next couple of weeks doubled liquid carbon and BBA went away.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
However in polluted water there often isn't the next life up the food chain, killed/not present due to pollution so nothing to stop the algae multiplying out of control.
There is a good page on eutrophication from the <"Open University">.

Also I got a reference, that might be of interest, earlier in the week <"http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/yournews/70217">.
Look at a hundred lakes in the agricultural heartland of the United States and you will likely see green lakes surrounded by green fields. The nitrogen and phosphorus in agricultural fertilizers that help crops grow also fuel the growth of algae and cyanobacteria that in excess can turn lakes the color of pea soup.

Yet when scientists looked at 13 years of data from 139 lakes in intensively agricultural areas of Iowa they saw lakes that were surprisingly clear despite extremely high nutrient concentrations.

In a study published October 9, 2017 in the journal Inland Waters scientists from the University of Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota Sea Grant report that the lakes were so excessively fertilized that most of that algae and cyanobacteria containing the green pigment chlorophyll were killed.
cheers Darrel
 

ceg4048

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Hello,
Eutrophication in natural systems is not 100% related eutrophication in our tanks, but there are some similarities.
I completely agree with Darrel that we are endangering our existence as a result of the nutrient enrichment of natural systems, which results in unbalancing the distribution of plant and animal species within the system.
The most alarming example is runoff from agriculture which is quickly killing the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Farmers and governments need to get a grip on policies soon, otherwise, that system will perish.

It's important to note however that it has not been demonstrated that eutrophication automatically causes algal blooms in all systems. In some specific systems, where the nutrient level is high, there are algal blooms. In other systems, eutrophication does not result in algal blooms. So it depends on the system, i.e. what species are present and what the environmental factors are in that system.

In our tank system eutrophication is definitely not correlated with algal blooms, however, blooms may occur due to a combination of factors that may have nothing to do with the level of nutrients in the tank.

So we are talking about OUR system here, not other systems where the environmental factors and species distribution are completely different.
There are some items from the study of other systems that can be related to our tanks.

For example, in Darrel's second reference provides possible insights (and some correlation) into the effectiveness of high nutrient dosing from a plants perspective.
We see repeatedly that in many cases when BGA is present, the addition of KNO3 goes a long way in reducing or eliminating that type of bloom. The article speculates that a combination of factors, including high NO3 levels results in formation of "Reactive Oxygen Species" which damage the bacteria. Whether this is the true mechanism, I'm not sure, but what we do know for sure is that high NO3 levels in our tanks helps the plants and is a deterrent to BGA blooms.

In our system, the appearance of GSA is highly correlated with any combination of poor PO4 + Poor CO2. This has been repeatedly demonstrated.

Furthermore, using a PO4 test kit to determine the PO4 level is folly, and we consistently observe that when the hobbyist depends on test kit readings to determine the level of PO4, the readings invariably show a false high leading the hobbyists to refrain from adding PO4, which then results in a PO4 shortfall. A combination of too much lighting, slow growing plants, poor PO4 and low CO2 levels is a recipe for GSA.

Whether we, as hobbyists, are repeating the folly of the agricultural infrastructure which inundate fields with nutrients and endanger our future, well, I will not argue that point with Darrel.
I will limit my argument to cause and effect in order to clarify the OP's question.

Cheers,
 

scoobiemandan

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Okay, thanks for all the replies, interesting stuff.

Would you say I need to add Phosphorus or just raise the level of the Easy Life Profito I'm dosing?
 

ceg4048

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Hi,
It's difficult to keep up with what product has what ingredients, so I'm always having to research in order to validate my suggestions. According to the Easylife home page https://www.easylife.eu/products/freshwater/plant-food/profito Profito still has zero Nitrates or Phosphates. So it's still basically a trace element mix and they still have the audacity to call this product an all-in-one or "complete" product. I see no point therefore in adding more of zero.

Now, again, we do not really know the level of PO4 in your tank, and as I mentioned, any combination of poor PO4 and poor CO2 can result in GSA. Additionally, it could easily be that excessive lighting is driving the plants to demand more of everything and that a simple reduction in light intensity may resolve the issue.

Anubias is notorious for falling victim to GSA, even under ideal conditions and this is partially due to it's very slow growth rate and it's dislike of strong lighting.
Simply moving the plant to a shaded area may offer some relief.

If other plants are suffering GSA then we can deduce that there is a unilateral shortfall of either CO2 or PO4 or both.

I suggest that you consider using dry salts, KNO3 and KH2PO4 or any commercial product that contains NPK.

I'm not sure if 6ml liquid carbon is the bottle suggested dose for your size tank. It's probably sufficient if you are not observing any other algal types.
Try adding NPK first, remove all damaged leaves, perform frequent and massive water changes and see how it goes. Committing to gas is a big decision, which has it's own set of booby traps, so if you can afford the daily liquid dosing I would try to stick with this as much as possible.

Cheers,
 
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Whether we, as hobbyists, are repeating the folly of the agricultural infrastructure which inundate fields with nutrients and endanger our future, well, I will not argue that point with Darrel.

Something I've considered, dropping phosphate rich water down the drain which inevitably ends up in streams and 90% of the co2 we use being pumped into the atmosphere. Low tech with salvaged rain water is the future of the hobby I reckon :)
 
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Sorry if this post is a bit of a thread highjack.
I've been suffering with algae issues for a while & have been gradually working towards controlling it but I have a question about whether a certain product is the right thing for me to buy.
I am getting what I believe to be GSA on most of my plants as well as an algae film on the glass.
I bought a sera flora 1000 co2 reactor and got the level of co2 properly increased and under control, next, I took the light intensity of my Fluval Fresh & Plant 2.0 to 1 step above the bottom to help with excessive light.
I left the light on for the same length each day to keep a constant in the tests I was running.
I'm very strict with weekly 33% water changes & clean my Fluval 206 every 2 weeks.
I've been heavily dosing TNC ferts until about a week ago along with a squirt of Flourish Excel every day when I switched to the new fert from George Farmer.
The algae from the glass has not returned within a week so I'm happy with that but the GSA remains.
Am I a) right to think the next step is to "overdose" on PO4 and b) is this the right stuff to buy? https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00AU2ONAG/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I3JEBP6H1WO6RM&colid=3PGLK9XTA9HO6

thanks
 

Silviu Man

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Not only Anubias is exposed to GSA contamination. I also have same problem with Legenandra, another slow growing plant. I've tryed many possible solutions with relatively good results. Finaly, one was the best : Spiral Horn, one for 10 litters of water. So, as for many cases, natural way is the best way.
 

scoobiemandan

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Okay, so I double dosed liquid carbon for two weeks and started dosing some TNC complete. It appears as though the GSA has had it's day as it's not returned, however, I now have a case of the dreaded BBA starting to rear it's ugly head. So, what to do ongoing?
 

ceg4048

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Okay, so I double dosed liquid carbon for two weeks and started dosing some TNC complete. It appears as though the GSA has had it's day as it's not returned, however, I now have a case of the dreaded BBA starting to rear it's ugly head. So, what to do ongoing?
Hi,
BBA is a CO2 related algae, so it suggests that you need to increase the liquid carbon dosing. Had you turned the Hilux lights back on? It's unusual to suffer BBA when you have actually increased the liquid carbon dosing.
How long are the lights left on for?

Cheers,
 

Tom43

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The complexity of ecosystems is one of the only lessons I seem to have taken away from this wonderful hobby of aquascaping!

I was having problems with brown diatoms, and then fell ill for a couple of weeks with a persistent flu/cold virus. So I’d let my water changes lapse, and neglected the pruning. What with one thing and another, it was 4 weeks before I did my next water change. The top of the tank was covered in sprawling stem plants, now dropping roots all over the place. The glass was covered in brown algae about half way up (for some reason it didn’t grow in the top half of the tank). And I now had blue-green algae on the surface of the tank clustering around the stem plant leaves at the surface. And green algae on the rocks (which previously were covered in brown algae). I had stopped my EI dosing half way through this period, fearing it would not be good whilst I was not doing the water changes.

So I cleaned it all up: siphoned the gravel, cleaned the glass, pruned everything back severely, cleaned the filter and pipes etc. To my surprise, the water was crystal clear: clearer than it had ever been. And the tank smelled strongly of pond water, which I took as a good sign that the tank was maturing. I did a 70% water change. The water test showed PO4 was up a lot, after I’d removed the phosphate-removing filter material which switching to EI ferts. I have high phosphate in my tap water. Nitrates were up, no surprise. But ammonia was still zero to my surprise (I have 30 White Cloud Mountain minnows, 6 peacock gobies, about 20 amano shrimp and some snails). One thing I had changed was reducing the feeding: I was feeding one every other day rather than daily, and I’ve stuck with this since.

Two weeks later (after resuming normal weekly maintenance and EI ferts) and the brown algae has not reappeared. The blue green algae is dying back slowly. Stem plants are growing nicely, the moss has the tell-tale light green nodes of new growth everywhere, and the tank glass is cleaner than ever. The brown algae is replaced mostly with green, which I think looks pleasant and natural on the rocks. There’s a bit of brown algae where the gravel sits against the glass, but that is easily cleaned off weekly. And the algae film that used to make the glass quite murky by week’s end is far less pronounced.

So whilst I’m no expert, my take-away has been that the tank will find its own balance given time, and too much tinkering might cause more problems than it solves? My tank is now 5 months old. I use injected co2 - I had changed about two months back from using a ceramic diffuser to using an atomiser, placed under the filter inlet to encourage it to dissolve better in the water.

I’ve probably broken all the rules in terms of changing so many things, so quickly! And the best progress took place when I just left it all alone!

This week, I changed my flourescent lighting to LED. I put 2000 lumens warmish ‘tropical’ LEDs at the bank over the heavily planted part of the tank, and a bluer 500 lumens LED at the front over the gravel-dominated area. Hopefully this doesn’t add too much light to tip the balance, as the look of the tank is much improved.

I have a lot of sympathy for what AverageWhiteBloke says about low tech tanks...
 
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