Hair/Black Beard Algae help please!

Dave Stanford

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Could someone please help identify this problem and perhaps offer some advice?

I have a small planted tank, ~80litres, and have been unsuccessful in treating what I believe is either hair or black beard algae, see photos.

I have tried reducing light, stopping plant food, with and without liquid CO2 (no CO2 injection), all to no avail. The plants seem healthy enough but they are all covered with this black, hair-like algae.

Lights are on fairly low for about 7 hours, water change 10-20% weekly and I don’t overfeed the fish which are all doing well.

I have tried hair algae treatment and Flourish Excel but the problem has slowly worsened over the last few months.

This is my first attempt at a planted tank so any help, advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Fisher2007

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I'm no expert but I'd start by cutting away the effected leaves, doing min 50% water changes per week (without fail), continue to dose ferts and get your CO2 back on the go to a lime green drop checker right through the photoperiod (make sure the drop checker is green at the points the lights come on, so you'll likely need to switch the CO2 on a couple of hours before the lights come on). Continue to dose flourish or similar at the max permitted dose
 

jaypeecee

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Hi @Dave Stanford

I have a couple of questions:

1 Do you have very little flow in your tank? Is the algae growing in areas of minimal flow? Does it sway with the flow of water?

2 Do you have any algae-eating fish in your tank?

JPC
 

Dave Stanford

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Thanks for your question.
I don't think there's an issue with flow as I have an Oase Biomaster 250 and there is good flow all round the tank with plants swaying gently.
I have three ottos, two snails and a couple of Amano shrimp but they're not making much impression.
The water quality is good and there is virtually no green algae anywhere.
 

Tim Harrison

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Hi Dave, can you post some FTS and tell us more about your tanks stats, such as light make, fertz dosing regime, CO2, etc, it might help us determine what the problem is. However, I suspect that low or fluctuating CO2 levels, poor nutrient levels, and high organic levels might all be factors.
 

Dave Stanford

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Hi Tim
At the moment I'm using one Aquasky 380 at about 70% for 8 hours. I stopped the ferts for a while which made no difference but I've just restarted using a pump of Tropica Premium every other day. I'm not injecting CO2 but have been using Flourish Excel at 1 capful (5ml) every day and I don't have a drop checker.
Does that all sound about right?
 

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dw1305

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Hi all,
........I have three ottos, two snails and a couple of Amano shrimp but they're not making much impression.
Can I ask what sort of snails they are? Nerites are really good at cleaning hard surfaces, like rocks and glass, but won’t clean up plants etc.

Ramshorn snails will clean up BBA on plants, but they won’t eat mature tufts, they just graze off the sporelings.

Cheers Darrel
 

jaypeecee

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Hi @Dave Stanford

Following on from the post above by @dw1305, I did wonder about your adding a Siamese Algae Eater to your tank. But these fish would out-grow your 80 litre tank over time. The thing about SAEs is that they will eat algae from awkward places. Indeed, they are renowned for eating Black Brush Algae (BBA) and this often grows on the edges of leaves. If you decide to go this route, ensure that you get the genuine SAE. There are other fish that are similar in appearance. Here's a good starting point:

https://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/crossocheilus-atrilimes/

JPC
 

jaypeecee

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Nitrate is between 10-20 but I’ve never measured phosphate.
There are two zebra snails in the tank.

Hi @Dave Stanford

OK, nitrate is good. If you don't have a phosphate test kit, fair enough. Opinions are divided on UKAPS about test kits but I'm a firm believer in using them. I use the JBL phosphate test kit.

@dw1305 mentioned Nerites of which Zebra Nerites are one example. So called for obvious reasons.

JPC
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Hi @Dave Stanford

I must confess to getting a little confused. I think I'm suffering from forum overuse! Anyway, the algae in the photos that you previously attached is not BBA (in my opinion). It looks more like hair algae. You might want to take a look at:

https://greenaqua.hu/en/alga-tajekoztato

JPC
I’m pretty sure it is a red algae, the green algae have the same pigments as higher plants and are grass green.

Cheers Darrel
 

jaypeecee

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Hi @dw1305

cc @Dave Stanford

I’m pretty sure it is a red algae, the green algae have the same pigments as higher plants and are grass green.

So, would that make it BBA or Hair or something else? And, whichever it is, how can it be eliminated? Do you think it would help to reduce the lighting and/or reduce the ferts? I read a forum post elsewhere in which Tom Barr was proposing a total blackout - a bit like dealing with BGA/Cyanobacteria.

JPC
 

sparkyweasel

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I would increase the size and frequency of water changes, as much as you can manage to start with, reducing when the problem is sorted, but still ending up with more than you are doing now.
Also look at a complete fertiliser, as Tropica Premium is only micronutrients, if you can get your plants growing strongly they will compete with the algae better.

And btw;
Welcome! :)
 

jaypeecee

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I’m pretty sure it is a red algae...

Hi @dw1305 & @Dave Stanford

Looks like you may be correct, Darrel. I found this:

https://www.aquasabi.com/aquascaping-wiki_algae_algae-in-the-aquarium

Scroll down the page to Red algae > Staghorn algae. Note the comment:

"Red algae (Rhodophyceae) in freshwater aquaria usually belong to the very wide-spread staghorn and black beard algae (BBA). Their colour is not red by nature, they are usually grayish. However, they turn reddish when you immerse them in alcohol. This test makes red algae very easy to identify"

JPC
 

Dave Stanford

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Many thanks for all your replies.

I dropped a leaf covered in the algae into a small glass of gin and there was no change in colour, certainly no red. It doesn’t seem to have a tufted structure like bba.

I have use EasyCarbo in the past but stopped when this issue started.

See attached for another closeup.

Do you think CO2 injection rather than liquid carbon would help?

Dave
 

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dw1305

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Hi all,
I dropped a leaf covered in the algae into a small glass of gin and there was no change in colour, certainly no red.
It is definitely a Red Algae.
"Red algae (Rhodophyceae) in freshwater aquaria usually belong to the very wide-spread staghorn and black beard algae (BBA). Their colour is not red by nature, they are usually grayish. However, they turn reddish when you immerse them in alcohol. This test makes red algae very easy to identify"
A lot of Red Algae <"are blackish">. We don't have a <"definitive ID at the moment"> for BBA.
Opinions are divided on UKAPS about test kits but I'm a firm believer in using them.
You are likely to get a <"reasonably accurate value"> for phosphorus (P) from a test kit, mainly because a lot of phosphate compounds are insoluble and a number of these are coloured. The main thing to note would be whether the quoted result is given as <"phosphorous (P), orthophosphate (PO4) or phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5)">.
I would increase the size and frequency of water changes, as much as you can manage to start with, reducing when the problem is sorted, but still ending up with more than you are doing now.
Also look at a complete fertiliser, as Tropica Premium is only micronutrients, if you can get your plants growing strongly they will compete with the algae better.
That sounds pretty fair advice.

I would add some more plants, particularly a <"floating one">. Have a look a the "Duckweed Index" links in the linked threads. It could also be a sub-surface floater, like <"Indian Fern <"Ceratopteris thalictroides"> or Hornwort <"Ceratophyllum demersum">.

cheers Darrel
 

Tim Harrison

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Hi Tim
At the moment I'm using one Aquasky 380 at about 70% for 8 hours. I stopped the ferts for a while which made no difference but I've just restarted using a pump of Tropica Premium every other day. I'm not injecting CO2 but have been using Flourish Excel at 1 capful (5ml) every day and I don't have a drop checker.
Does that all sound about right?
Thanks for the image and info Dave. I think @sparkyweasel 's advice makes sense too. Here's what I'd do...

Reduce your lighting to around 60% with a 6hr photoperiod.
Definitely do a couple of 50% water changes every week and at least 1x50% water change every week thereafter once the algae is under control; algae thrives in environments with high organic load.
Give the tank and filter a spring clean and stay on top of maintenance thereafter.
Plant more plants, and perhaps float some inexpensive stems to soak up excess organics, or/and get some floating plants.
Remove all infected leaves from existing plants.
Definitely use an all in one fertiliser, like TNC Complete or Tropica TPN+ or Specialised.
 

jaypeecee

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You are likely to get a <"reasonably accurate value"> for phosphorus (P) from a test kit, mainly because a lot of phosphate compounds are insoluble and a number of these are coloured. The main thing to note would be whether the quoted result is given as <"phosphorous (P), orthophosphate (PO4) or phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5)">.

Hi @dw1305

Many thanks for your reply.

As I may have said elsewhere, I use the JBL PO4 (sensitive) test kit which is obviously (?) measuring the inorganic phosphate ion (orthophosphate).

JPC
 

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