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Here's My Issue With BBA

AverageWhiteBloke

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WWWhhhooaaaa there I knew it was a bone of contention :D I'm not going down the route of testing for nutrients to fathom out my dosing regime.
The tests were £29.99, I use the gh/kh for checking my water for re-mineralising de-io water and making 4dkh solution and this was £10 quid and some bromo for my DC is £8.99 plus £3.50 delivery which was in the kit in the form of a PH test.
So as useless as the other tests are I got them all and a nice case for keeping my stuff in for as well as the ammonia kit for testing newly set up tanks for its presence at least. £7.50 Bargain as I needed the others anyway.
I think it's fair to say that the hardness tests are accurate enough for what we are doing and I can't afford a conductivity tester.

You will notice that I posted I had not stopped any dosing other than the PO4 after the tests, the only reason I cut it out for a while was to experiment with my tank. PO4 is notorious where I live, I have talked at length with LFS owners and breeders from my area and all are agreed as well as the water board results that PO4 is extremely high. They all talk about their different ways of eradicating it. So why not see if limiting po4 in my tank makes any difference nothing to loose I guess. I was only doing it to the next water change then starting again at my regular doses. My macros had po4 in so just added the others at same as usual dry.

The nitrate test I did out of curiosity but had some relevance, my German blue Ram died of unknown cause. I have kept many of these fish and the german as oppose asian versions are susceptible to nitrates. The fish darken heavy breathe and eventually go. This has happened to me many times especially with very young fish so I can't put it always down to coincidence. That fact that it happened again and an inaccurate test showed v high nitrates hints that might have been the case.
Perhaps if I had done the inaccurate test earlier I might have saved the fish. Who knows.

Don't worry though I haven't took my eye of the ball :D I might add though that it's not a simple case of resetting the water with a big weekly change. Depending on my work commitments sometimes my tank needs to wait a while.

Am I forgiven?
 

ceg4048

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Well, here's the thing mate:

Not the greatest of photos, but this is a female ram guarding a clutch of eggs buried deep in the P. steletta on the left. She's keeping a golden ram at bay. This tank was dosed at over 3X EI values which means that NO3 was dosed at higher than 60ppm. PO4 at around 10ppm. Typical conductivity was around 680-750 microsiemens. Now, OK fair enough, eggs never made it to hatching. They were either eaten/lost, these were terrible parents, so I can't say whether the extreme conditions would have affected hatching.
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Here's the male. This male was super aggressive and attacked and killed all the other rams in the tank. Could that have been nitrate induced aggression? Possibly, I can't say. I can say that none of the fish ever experienced the symptoms you described, which easily could have been NH3 or NO2 symptoms. It's entirely possible that you were doing something or not doing something which coincided with high NO3 levels. If you were making the same mistake then you would have similar results. That NO3 test kit tells you nothing. Were you aware that some NO3 kits actually convert NO2 to NO3 as well, so that your measurement is actually NO2+NO3? That's how bogus they are. I mean, you even mentioned that you sometimes skip water changes. Is it possible that the fish died of some other form of pollution? Could it have been due to CO2 toxicity? What are the symptoms of PO4 poisoning? Does anyone even know? People throw toxic rubbish into their tanks like pH buffers, they find any possible excuse to not change water and then when fish die, it's because of some totally wacko NO3/PO4 test kit reading. If you are using RO water, then you know absolutely how much NO3 you are adding to the tank on a weekly basis. Organic NO3 from the nitrogen cycle is more or less cancelled by plant uptake, so how could the NO3 value be off the chart? If you decide that you have to skip a water change then you should lower the dosing, not because you are trying to have less NO3 buildup, but because you want to reduce the organic waste in the tank. People go on and on and on about how Amazonian fish require this Ph, or that conductivity, or some fancy black water extract, but somehow no one ever gets around to the fact that Amazonian waters are pristine and unpolluted, and that maybe the fish have evolved a low tolerance for dirty water. Maybe if we were as maniacal about water changes and reduction of waste as we are about nutrient buildup, we might see dramatically better results.
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Cheers,
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
The water companies add orthophosphate's ("for control of plumbosolvency") to drinking water and these combine with any lead (Pb) in the tap water and precipitates the lead out of solution as insoluble, pH stable, lead phosphate compounds. If you want the technical term it is - PIMS -"phosphate induced metal stabilisation". Wessex Water add phosphate to our water even though it is straight out of a limestone aquifer and almost infinitely buffered, softer water they buffer up to increase the pH.

I've tested some water from the NW of England (on the AAS), and it had so much phosphate in it we had to re-calibrate with a new set of standards even after we had diluted it x1000, so I would imagine you don't need to add any.

If you are interested in a conductivity meter Hanna do some fairly cheap good ones. We use "Waterproof TDS / Conductivity Tester - Low Range - Hanna HI-98311" as our ones for field work etc., but even a £25 one from Ebay will give you a moderately accurate reading, you just need to make sure it is a "low range meter".

cheers Darrel
 

AverageWhiteBloke

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It's entirely possible that you were doing something or not doing something which coincided with high NO3 levels
Possibly, the size of my water changes are not generally too big. The excess build up if there is one! I can imagine being the case. I think from the start I may have over estimated the amount of ferts being needed, my tank is not too brightly lit and I don't change a lot of water but I started at the top end of dosing gradually reducing this down by 1ml monthly to look for a negative response from the plants but you once said not to do that as more ferts encourages the plants to uptake more so I went back to the full dose. If had been doing bigger changes it would have probably been ok.
That doesn't explain the death of the ram solely on the nitrate I'm just adding it into possible suspects list :D Po4 deaths have never been heard of AFAIK and I think I can rule out co2 poisoning, it was the only fish effected and I don't really push my co2 to extremes.

these were terrible parents
They are notoriously bad parents, even getting the eggs off them before they have chance to eat them is hard work. :D
they find any possible excuse to not change water
Not in my case :) I look for an excuse too change water, unfortunately I often work away from home monday to friday, Sunday I go to my parents and Saturday night is family night with my daughter so I get a four hour window on saturday afternoon to do as much as I can. Now that would be ok unless my missus goes into the "you don't spend enough time with your daughter all your bothered about is that fish tank" mode :D So it gets neglected for the sake of keeping her sweet so she'll put my co2 on and add the ferts I leave her.;)
I think that why I've steered away from EI dosing and more the PMDD+PO4 method trying add what it needs a day rather than a little excess relying on a water change at some point. I often get a random water change in at some point by pure fluke so that would blow my mind about where I was with EI dosing on certain days of the week.

I've tested some water from the NW of England (on the AAS), and it had so much phosphate in it we had to re-calibrate with a new set of standards
That seems to be the general census of opinion round these here parts, I did come across it in an earlier fishkeeping life but in them fish only tanks I used chemical media to remove all nasties. Everybody who asks me how my tanks coming on gives the same advice to get the po4 out of the water round here it is apparently the scurge responsible for many a algea ridden tank but they are mainly fish only stuff so things apply different to what I'm trying to do.

At least I now have my de-io back again :thumbup: which means I'm dealing with a blank canvas and dealing with known quantities in my tank (other than obviously natural waste from fish and food)

So back to square one I guess and it has to be said the BBA is clearing a little with the 2xEC dosing hopefully if it goes I can keep it in check.

BTW just on the point of the measuring nitrate I was aware the the kit did convert NO3 to NO2 to measure it, I did check for no2 to start with which came up as Zero so there was no need to subtract that from the results. I don't want to get back into test kits though and stray away from this topic of killing BBA :D
ALTHOUGH! I found a bit of stuff on calibrating test kits by using a known solution using de-io and kno3 which I have so might have a little experiment, even though the results will be invalid due to so many other factors I'll just feel clever for the day :D

Looking at the TDS on Ebay cheers for that.
 

plantbrain

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FYI, there are no toxicity levels for PO4 for the EPA on critters.
This is more likely a salinity issue which means you need far beyond 100ppm, same for K+.
I'd even say this is true for most species of warm water fish and N03.

Fry are different matter, shrimp are hyper sensitive compared to fish however.
RCS, Fires, and CRS all bred for me well.

So I see little risk here nutrient wise.

CO2?

Much harder to measure and test and monitor, nutrients do not move around much, easy to test and dose.
CO2? Much more difficult.

You cannot rule that out without calibration and confirmation, so do not assume you can :thumbup:
That is a very bad assumption.

It's far more toxic than any of these nutrients other than NH4/NO2/some trace metals etc.
But those are not high anyway and can be measured reasonably cheap.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

AverageWhiteBloke

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The problem I have found with Rams particularly is they are a hard fish to diagnose any problems with as they can randomly die without any visual symptoms. I have kept and bred them for a long while although the ones in my current tank are just for show. I have had fish from different places and kept them in different environments from a general low maintenance tank to super clean monitored growing on and breeding tanks. If ones gonna go its gonna go :D I know some Discus breeders who have had no luck in keeping them at all. It's fair to say that Asian versions are much hardier than European versions but they are often treated with hormones to get more colourful males or longer fins which I don't really care for.

Most information on NO3 and fish health mostly relates to long term problems if kept constantly in high levels but again that's up for debate. There are a lot of posts on various boards about the same symptoms as mine, fish darkening, fast breathing and hiding away a lot get put down to nitrates so I wasn't ignoring the possibility especially when cross referenced with a V high nitrate reading from the test.

As for the PO4 it seems a shame that my water company adds it, I live 7 mile from the reservoir where the water comes from and often visit. The area is mainly moss and granite which results in V soft water so I guess that why they add it. Using RO water again gives me back some control of what ends up in the tank. In fact I would probably get better water than in my tap by just getting it straight from the reservoir :D :rolleyes:

So the BIG question I guess is I know an imbalance of either or can promote algae by weakening the plant giving the algae the upper hand but at what point will the excess nutrients promote it in even a healthy tank? Are we saying that if the plants and everything else are right no amount will cause algae? That's a question I have always wanted to know and there's no more qualified to answer that than right here :)
 

Dave Spencer

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AverageWhiteBloke said:
....at what point will the excess nutrients promote it in even a healthy tank? Are we saying that if the plants and everything else are right no amount will cause algae?

Pretty much, in my experience. I would guess this the point where Tom would say the plants are defining the system.

Dave.
 

ceg4048

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That's right. The fundamental principle is that in our tanks, an excess of nutrients cannot trigger algae. Algae are triggered by something else and then after it's triggered they will feed on the nutrient content. So as Tom says, a eutrophic dosing regime will expose any weaknesses in your technique. You'll find a ton of posts where the OP states that he/she recently started EI dosing and then got algae, but what really happens is that the dosing program is only one fraction of keeping plants. Your BBA is not triggered by nutrients. We know it's a CO2 issue, so BBA will appear in any type of dosing regime. In an EI tank the BBA may grow faster than perhaps it would in a less eutrophic regime, all other factors being equal. But BBA doesn't care. If your CO2 technique is very poor then the blooms will be massive and tenacious. End of story. Lowering your PO4 may lower the BBA's growth rate but it will also lower the plants growth rate, and if your PO4 test kit has lied to you, and you've withheld PO4 in response to their readings then your plants will suffer secondary stages of PO4 deficiency while the BBA will just carry on.

As I've said, it's a Catch-22. Reducing the nutrient loading will reduce the growth rates of everything, but you'd better solve the fundamental problem, otherwise you'll induce more problems than you'll ever solve.

If your municipal water supplier has pumped more PO4 into the water then, as Darrel mentions, this might indicate a the possibility of high lead content either due to environmental pollution or due to the lead in the pipework. So maybe your fish are dying of lead poisoning if they are in tap. Since everyone's tap water is different it might explain why some people have no issues using tap while others report problems. But since few people consider heavy metal poisoning or herbicides and so forth, it's much easier to blame PO4/NO3 or GH.

Cheers,
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
If your municipal water supplier has pumped more PO4 into the water then, as Darrel mentions, this might indicate a the possibility of high lead content either due to environmental pollution or due to the lead in the pipework.
there probably wasn't ever much lead in the water supply, the water companies are adding it as a "belt and braces approach" to new, tougher environmental legislation. I assume the cost is a fairly minor factor as they add it to our tap water (at about 18dKH, pH 7.8 & straight out of a limestone aquifer) even though the chance of it dissolving any lead from pipework must be less than nil.

cheers Darrel
 

plantbrain

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AverageWhiteBloke said:
The problem I have found with Rams particularly is they are a hard fish to diagnose any problems with as they can randomly die without any visual symptoms. I have kept and bred them for a long while although the ones in my current tank are just for show. I have had fish from different places and kept them in different environments from a general low maintenance tank to super clean monitored growing on and breeding tanks. If ones gonna go its gonna go :D I know some Discus breeders who have had no luck in keeping them at all. It's fair to say that Asian versions are much hardier than European versions but they are often treated with hormones to get more colourful males or longer fins which I don't really care for.

So the BIG question I guess is I know an imbalance of either or can promote algae by weakening the plant giving the algae the upper hand but at what point will the excess nutrients promote it in even a healthy tank? Are we saying that if the plants and everything else are right no amount will cause algae? That's a question I have always wanted to know and there's no more qualified to answer that than right here :)


Well, plenty of forums have folks killing fish all the time without any plants, fert dosing or CO2.
Plant folks rarely do replacement test to see which factor added to planted tanks cause the observations/killing fish or sick etc.

All I need to do is show a few cases where I add those ferts, CO2 etc.....=> no dead fish.
Dead fish? Then my results are simply put; inconclusive, I cannot say why the fish died, only why they did not in the 1st case there.

"Imbalance" is not a good adjective, it's not specific. Non limiting vs limiting are more specific. Liebig's law applies very well for our systems . Imbalance might imply a "ratio/s" but I've done plenty of wide manipulation with ratios and found not evidence they cause issues as long as the individual nutrients do not become limiting.

These same Liebig's laws applies to algae also.
What are limiting values and non limiting values for algae then?

Micro_Growth_Curve_Use.jpg


Concentrations in the dry matter or the "uptake rates" or concentration in the media/water are equivalent.
So if you are above the C range for algae, then addign more, no matter what, will not increase growth or encourage algae.

A non limiting ppm/concentration of fertilizer is defined by this concept.
Thus adding more cannot encourage algae growth more than this.

So..........what ranges are limiting for algae that bug us?
They tend to be about 10 to 1000X less than the non limiting levels for FW plants.

CO2? About 100x less.

PO4? Not too clear, but for plants, down in the 50ppb ranges for weedy species and the algae periphyton, less than 10ppb. Lower than any test kit or method available, even top research places cannot good consistent measurement from field samples at these ranges with decent accuracy. We know this from the Everglades restoration project in the USA, lots of funding and money are spent for management there.

Algae are used as indexes, mostly diatoms, for good biological health monitoring since they are far more ubiquitous than plants in aquatic systems.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Dave Spencer

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plantbrain said:
AverageWhiteBloke said:
"Imbalance" is not a good adjective, it's not specific. Non limiting vs limiting are more specific. Liebig's law applies very well for our systems . Imbalance might imply a "ratio/s" but I've done plenty of wide manipulation with ratios and found not evidence they cause issues as long as the individual nutrients do not become limiting.

Regards,
Tom Barr

I have never liked the use of balance/imbalance when it comes to fertilising planted tanks. As long as my plants have enough of everything on their plate to eat, the ratio becomes largely irrelevant. They take what they want, and the rest goes to waste.

That is why it is good idea to gradually back off the dosing figures given in EI, as Tom often says, so that a point is found where the plants have access to all they need, and there isn`t too much left over being scraped from the dinner plate in to the bin (garbage).

I find that the better I nail the flow around the tank, too, the further less ferts are required.

There is no balancing involved. Just make sure your plants have enough of everything, but minimise the waste, so that less money on ferts is going down the drain.

Dave.
 

AverageWhiteBloke

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Wow all good information. I was having a think about what everyone here has said and it crossed my mind, without knowing what I know now I attempted to increase the conditions for growth by turning up the ferts and the co2 thinking that the BBA would be beaten off by the plants. This it turns out is not the case as improving growth in plants also accelerated the algae growth.
So is there an argument for reducing ferts, lighting but not the co2 in a bid to slow growth while in the period of over dosing EC? I can remember Clive saying that higher nutrient levels force higher uptake rates for the plants. I'm thinking here while the EC is doing its job by killing off the algae are we also giving the BBA it's best fighting chance by creating better growth conditions for them both.

Would there be any point in keeping the plants just short of being deficient, while your killing the BBA? I suppose that would be dangerous though as it would be too easy to misjudge it and under dose the plants tipping it back in the BBA favour.

I feel that there may be some sense in there somewhere :D but that goes against the grain of not reducing ferts to clear algae but I suppose the reduction in lighting will accommodate that. Its a sort of taking the tank gradually back to low tech while killing off the Algae then gradually bringing it back to its full growth potential.

Just some thoughts no facts to back that up.
 

Burnleygaz

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If it was me i`d reduce the lighting (time + intensity)but keep the ferts+CO2 the same whilst nuking the algae daily with EC/excel and manually removing as much as i could each day
 

AverageWhiteBloke

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Yeah that's pretty much what I'm doing, just thinking if increased ferts=increased plant uptake and growth with everything in order then by default does that mean the algae is also increasing uptake and growth so it would be an option to reduce the ferts to a point of slow growth while your blitzing the algae with EC which I'm assuming doesn't do any harm to the plants.

I don't know
 

plantbrain

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Good flow helps with mixing, but also with good O2 for the fish.
Since respiration is both CO2 and O2 exchange, fish are better off with good flow, so are plants.

While we can use more and more CO2 at higher light PAR, lower PAR gives us much more wiggle room.
If you subscribe to "less is better" "Sustainable" and better management for errors humans make, then it should certainly start with less light wattage.

Then apply the light => drives CO2=> drives nutrients.

While I promote EI or modified EI dosing, I also strongly promote sediment ferts as well, wormstrates, DIY soils, ADA AS and other similar items on the market.

This offers better management with water column dosing as well,.
It's also very easy once set up.

As you can likely see, this is a lot about plants, management and little about cures for algae, but that's indirect, through good plant health, BBA will not bug you and if so, not much at all. If it does......then you look at CO2 and the myrid of different issues that surround CO2 variation.

CO2 is no easy fix for many.
Slow methodical adjustments and careful watching.

Worked for me, works for most that are patient.

This plus good light management, ruling out ferts......then you can really do well and rarely have algae issues, then it becomes what your old goal once was: gardening and scaping.

Remember that goal?
:D

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

AverageWhiteBloke

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Remember that goal?
:D Vaguely, just trying my best to understand what's happening in the tank.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
So..........what ranges are limiting for algae that bug us? They tend to be about 10 to 1000X less than the non limiting levels for FW plants". & "Algae are used as indexes, mostly diatoms, for good biological health monitoring since they are far more ubiquitous than plants in aquatic systems."
This reminds me of the lab when we used to use distilled water rather than de-ionised. About every 6 months or so we had to clean out the storage aspirators as they would grow a very fine fuzz of green algae (Chlorophyta). The de-ionised water doesn't have this problem, and really is H2O, rather than a dilute solution of salts.

It was a very fine fuzz of algae because we were in a situation where the nutrient component of the light - C02 - nutrient triangle was at a very low level (and probably for the limiting nutrient in the ppb range).

cheers Darrel
 

AverageWhiteBloke

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If you subscribe to "less is better" "Sustainable" and better management for errors humans make, then it should certainly start with less light wattage.
I have turned duration down for now and see how I get on, I have 70 watts made up of of 3 t8 tubes so I also have the option of reducing the watts if needs be.
Conditions seem to be improving at the moment with the changes I have made to distribution of co2 and movement in general. I have removed any BBA from plants with plenty of spare leaves by clipping off the affected leaves and sprayed the EC directly at any affected ones that were not growing so well hoping to build them up a bit.
I don't think the 2x dose is actually killing off existing stuff unless directly sprayed but it is definitely having an effect on new BBA growth. 8)
It's early days in the battle though only time will tell, I have plenty of patience and time it's just EC I'm running out of :D

I hope no one thinks I'm ignoring or not taking notice of any advice in here, I just find that at times I try something for a while then read a post that says I should have been doing something else so If I can get as much info as possible I'll stick to what's improving my set up. I guess no two systems are the same, no one fix will sort everybody's problems as making one alteration will affect so many other factors.
 

greenink

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This is a seriously useful thread. Love these "here's the science bit" ones.

What does 'unstable' CO2 actually mean?

a) concentration varying in both lights on and off
b) concentration varying during lights on
c) concentration dipping below a certain level during lights on

Assume it's (b) which would explain why we aim for CO2 to reach a 'plateau' level at lights on by starting it early, and don't care about switching it off early, as long as the level doesn't drop significantly by lights off.

So the trick is setting a bubble rate that exactly matches CO2 drop off through evaporation and plant uptake, and starting it early enough to get it up to optimum levels before lights go on. And not varying it day by day too much as you search for the optimum rate. Easier said than done.
 

AverageWhiteBloke

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Its more usefull to me now than it was when I started it :) makes a lot more sense now I understand a bit of the lingo.
Its been really good reading back through an old post some things I didn't fully at the time make more sense when I have tried them and seen the improvements they made. In fact now would be a good time to put a picture of the tank then and now (I know there is already a post for this)
 
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