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Loosing battle with BBA what next?


29 Aug 2010
Hi all

Struggling with BBA its keeps coming back no matter how much I remove infected leaves must have removed a good two thirds of the plant mass now.

Set up is EI (ferts 25mls and liquid Co2 7mls by daily dosing pump) based 220L tank running 4 T5 luminaire (2 on for full 6 hours and plus 2 for 4 hours , Ehiem P3 full of spiorax and spray bar across the lenght of the back, two in tank cirulation pumps, Ehiem surface skimmer, CO2 by two in tank diffusres on 2 hours before lights on off 1 hour before light off at 3 bpm x 2 (6 bpm), temp 24c. Good distribution of CO2 plant leaves all moving no apparent dead spots.

All the bog wood has been removed and the affected leaves mainly Anubis and various forms of Java and Bolbitus removed and any "dirt" washed off, filter cleaned, water changes 50%/week.

Any suggestions?

I'm thinking I might have to strip the tank down and start again shame as it was looking good only being running about 12 months.

Hey Andy, firstly stop removing effected leaves unless fast growers. Best to treat effected leaves with direct dosing liquid co2 wait a few days and BBA will go purple and die saving the leaves of slow growing plants like Anubias..

Next you would benefit by reducing you light some, turn off the additional bulbs that are on for 4 hours. 4 x T5's on 220lts is high light which means small margin of error..
You can easily up your liquid co2 dosing to 20ml in a 220ltr tank. When ive had BBA issues in the past ive run 50ml daily in a 300lt with no issue.
Add a pair of SAE. They are worth their weight in gold if you suffer from BBA. I wouldnt run a large high energy tank without them. They wont eat what is established but they will stop new growth which halves the battle..

Keep up regular water changes and pay attention to your co2, general thought is that BBA is caused by fluctuating co2 levels and organic build up.

What do you learn from pulling the tank down? Its a pain but youll learn a lot from continuing the battle and the gratification when you win is far better than a new set up that gets BBA after another 4 weeks which you still dont know how to fight!

If you have very low plant mass then get a load of cheap fast growing stems for now, any tank that has low plant mass with be harder to manage...

Ultimately you need to be more persistent than the algae :) Good luck.
I have a heavy fish load in my tank for a planted tank so expect algae here and there.
I used to get BBA mainly on Anubis plants. I spot treat it with liquid carbon and have also found running puragen in the filter helps keep it at bay.
I have a similar sized 240 L tank and faced BBA last winter. BBA started on one branch about 4 months after initial setup, then on two branches, then everywhere. It gets to a point where i was prepared to give up but somehow the outbreak stopped.

It is advisable to find the root cause, or otherwise it is easy to get back the same BBA issue as before after a complete-reset/restart.

Here is the list of actions i took which may be of interest:

• High tech high light tank with low temperature - there are articles on UKAPS, TPT on this. As ambient temperature increased in spring, the BBA issue went away. I was running 25 degc during winter, I believe this is one of the key contributing factors. Now I run the tank at 27.5 degc.

• I put in more algae eaters: 2 x SAE and 4 x Amano Shrimps

• Remove as much debris as possible during your weekly 50% water change - if livestock level is high, the debris tend to build up at the roots and on the leaves on the Bolbitus and Anubias. The leaves were very "dusty" and I felt that the Bolbitus stopped growing. When cleaning, used hand to make a current towards the Bolbitus and Anubias to suspend all the debris and suck out as much as posible. Took them out a few times to clean under the tap. Remove all affected leaves on my Microsorum Trident, Bolbitus, Anubias (must remove, or else they will end up contributed to your excess organics for algae growth).

• Took out the BBA affected wood pieces to scrub off the BBA and scrub off the top layer of the wood then put in boiling water to make sure these will not leech organics into the tank anymore.

• I also increased frequency of WC, to 2 x 50% WC a week.

• Clean external filter once - found not much debris there

• Increased plant mass - while remove as much affected leaves/branches as possible, i put in some fast growing plants and point my jet of CO2 bubbled stream towards it

• Reduce lighting - i thought 2 x 28W T5HO (with reflector) was too bright for me, so your 4 x T5HO is on the high side.

• Put in some Seamchem, ADA root tabs.

• No attempt to cut back on fertilizers was made.

• No blackout was attempted.

• No algaecide was used.

Now the BBA is under control, bolbitus and trident growing nicely again. There are GDA, but i don't care about those, as long as i get no BBA.

My setting:

• Juwel Rio 240

• Lighiting: 8 hours a day, 2 x 54W T5HO for 6 hours + 2 x Eheim 7W LED aqualight for 8 hours (sync with CO2)

• Juwel internal filter - upgraded to 1000L/hr pump (Sponge (fine and coarse sponge), purigen, Eheim Substrate Pro) (top right towards top centre)

• JBL e1501 external filter (sponge, Seachem Matrix)

• Pressurized CO2, 2bps, inline diffusor (was in tank atomizer) - Filter outlet --> Chiller --> inline diffusor --> tank inlet (top left towards top centre)

• Tunze 6020 power head turns on when CO2 is on for better circulation, and turns off when light is off for fish to rest.

• 1/2 EI dosing.

• Air pump runs when light and CO2 is off.

• 5 x angel fish - 6cm to 12cm nose to end of fin

• 15 x cardinal tetras

• 1 x red coral pencil fish

• 2 x SAE

• About 10 x Amano shrimps (although I don't seem them often with so many big fishes around)

• 6 x cory - similus

• 1 x BNP

• 2 x German Blue Ram

• 2 x threadfin rainbowfish

Hi Guys

Thanks for the quick response and advice much appreciatted. Take the point about carrying on the fight I'll try the following and report back on the results. Just one thing what are SAE's? Siamese Algae eaters?

My clean up crew are about 10 x Ottos and about 10 x Amanos. Right plan;

1) Reduce light to 2 x T5's 6 hours

2) Increase Temp to 27c

3) Increase liquid CO2 to 20mls

4) Incresase Plant mass with fast growers to out compete the BBA

5) Clean out filter seemed clean last time

6) Increase Water change to 2 x 50%.

7) Will keep the ferts levels as they are.

Soil is Amazonia and in fairness clean. Most pants were attached to wood.

Thanks again.

Could it be because you are adding Ei ferts and Amazonia?

I thought you were better to use an all in 1 feet system alongside the ADA Amazonia?

I could be wrong though, very new to this
Beware that when you increase/change temperature, crypts and some other plants will melt. Crypts will lose leaves then recover by shooting out new ones.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
When you clean your filter I would also add some seachem purigen. It is a selective resin filter media that will remove organics from your water.

Personally, I think keeping water temp between 26 to 30 degrees by itself will not prevent BBA. I have experienced that myself.

I also adopted sifuzi's approach of reducing photoperiod, cleaning out the wastes and encouraging plant growth through ample CO2. These actions helped more to prevent BBA. For those areas already with BBA - i have to remove them manually.
Could it be because you are adding Ei ferts and Amazonia?

I thought you were better to use an all in 1 feet system alongside the ADA Amazonia?

I could be wrong though, very new to this
This is not strictly right. You can use EI with any soil etc. just need to be deligent with high co2 and water changes.
Good morning,

Here´s my thoughts on BBA after dealing with it for almost a year now. And still fighting.
For me none of the causes claimed here and in most sites seem to bee on the origin or solution for BBA issue.

No flutuating CO2 can be a cause. If you have it all the time precisely in the same rate injection where are those fltuations? Don´t go that way.
In my case i have a 40 MM Pollen ADA difuser, a Two Times Cal Aqua CO2 Drop cheker that was being set in very different points of the tank. No CO2 differences. CO2 dissolves in water and with the circulation is everywhere. I find that thing of dead spots one more myth than anyhing else. No dead spots in the tank.

I have a Eheim Pro 4/600 for a 130 liter water. I do have to reduce the OUTflow power for not having plants flying.

Did experiments with 2, 3 and 4 times T5 of 39W each of diferent Kelvins in different elevation positions, but always the same photoperiod time. (7 hours).
Doesn´t matter if i use 2 or 3 or 4 T5 bulbs. BBA always return. This changes in bulbs really do effect on GDA and GSA. But no difference in BBA. Kept coming.

Ferts: Can´t tell if this is a cause, but no matter witch receipe of "EI" i used and try it kept coming. No matter with NO3 in 10:1 to PO4 or increasing PO4, or increasing them all or decreasing acording to light and to CO2 etc etc. Can´t even point here how many receipes i´ve try so far. And also try Tropica Ferts (Special and Premium). BBA kept coming.

Did black outs, and kept return.

In this pasts months i´m having another aproach. I´m having the tank without any lamps but only wyth the natural light of the day in the house (no exposion to sun of course). Daylight that enters my home.
So i turn off lamps and CO2 during 2 weeks. Other time did 3 weeks and 4 weeks. Plants did good and didn´t died. Backwards: Some of them grow better without anylight. Some.. not all.

During this periods i used H2O2 and Excell. Did have my wood and stones without BBA...(APPARENTLY!)
But it kept coming.

Also try 100% RO water. 50% or RO Water with tap water. 60/40 mixture. 30/70 mixture. Different KH / GH values etc. Can´t conclude of improvements.. at this moment is running 100% tap water with a KH 5.

This last time i went on more agressive way.. i took out all the wood and all stones that could be taken out. Not all could be taken out cause of the layout. And trim all leaves and plants really really close to the substract. Was a major trim although my plants never have been affected on BBA. Only Stones and wood.

So i more or less did a REstart. I washed and rub wood and stones with a metal brush. Metal..
no sign of BBA remains.. impossible. No signs after brushing all hardware with a brush metal.
Also have the hardware in bleach for a couple of days before rubing it.

Also fixed the remain hardware that was in the tank so i could rub the stones that was inside.
In resume: I Did all safe and recomended procedures that a hobbyst must do in this kind of restarts including a major clean in the filter, and the glass etc. bot did not begun new cycle. I kept 30% the water tank and all that was inside the filter.

So i set up all stuff and began with few light. Only 2 times T5 of 39 W in the same 7 hours witch gives a 0.5W /liter. Ferts as recommended. Testing with 3 different brands of testing sets i could keep the tank having 20/30 PPM of No3 to 1.8 to 2 PPM of PO4, 20 PPM of K, 0.5 Of Iron .etc.. 30 PPm of CO2 and 8 PPM of O2.

After the initial month plants look lovely growing slower but very very nice. No BBA on them. Never have BBA on them before, so untill here all looks normal. Even in the rest of the tank.

After the initial month i did a clean on the filter cause the tubes were allready dark with organics inside of it.

After this clean, BBA start again only in the Wood and Stones. On Those who have been brushed with metal i started to have BBA again.
Regard that my filter is cleaned according to procedures - Using the water inside of it. No carbon is on it. Only EQuo Stilla ceramics in three baskets.

The New stones i have introduced in this last restart / rescape BBA havent´allready appear on them.

So.. let me think now..

What kind of "thing" could last on stones and wood that could survive the treatment i did before? Apparently none! But BBA is growing right in those stones and wood rubished before. Not the new ones. Only the ones that was before exposed to BBA.
So if this was a matter of light , ferts or CO2 or even the watter it self it would apeear also in the new stones.

Could thought also: What kind of "thing" happen in this last filter maintenance that could trigger this? Or it was a coincidence?. Could be.

But no bacterial colony was vanished. Cause after i always do testing and measure. And also water was clean.
If i had a break down on baterial colony my water would be cloudy. And as i said i take advantage by washing the ceramics and tubes in water filter and put it back again clean of dust/organics waste.

So something trigger this. But it wasn´t ferts or lights or CO2. Those were untouchable. The only thing touched was the filter. But even this can´t be the cause. If so everybody would have BBA after a simple maintenance on it.

I believe something will be forever impregnated in hardware before exposed to BBA just waiting for some chemichal reaction or other thing to bring it back to life.

What have i done that could lead to this? I can´t figure.

Probably, washing the ceramics in the water filter and take advantage of this water could be a major mistake in oposition to what is recomended...probably we should do wash them in this water cause of bacterial colony but after fill the tank with water from inside the tank. There is also bacterial forms in there.

So.. this time i will not trim plants, don´t need to do that. I will not do also any Water Change. Don´t change any ferts or lights or Co2 as i never did in other ocasions.

As the filter was cleaned a short time ago í´m gonna took out again the bloody wood and stones and rubish it all again and put it back in the tank and watch what is going to happen in the consequent weeks after without any maintenance of the filtter.

One thing i have for shure. I never have BBA in any other tank before.
In this one, once BBA established i couln´t get rid of it till today.
For me once it apeear it will be very remarcable for someone to claim sucess in this battle. Never heard..

I will bring news if something new occur.

Big hug to all.
Wow Paulo that's some story! i feel for your troubles.

For me, BBA has affected both my tanks but SAE have eradicated it each time. For my shrimp tank, I used SAE for a few days at a time and it hasn't grown back. I've used Glut/H2O2 at certain points. Once it's weakened, the shrimp seem to mow it down like a well trimmed lawn. :)
btw for the OP, I think you should try the one-two punch technique after removing any liverworts or sensitive mosses. It can be quite good on BBA. I think I tried it once (maybe it was Staghorn can't remember).
Yes indeed after a few days of incinerating with H2O2 the shrimps and other live stock manage to eat the remains of BBA.

But then again she´s like the terminator himself : "I´ll Be Back!" :)

She is a real Pain in the ... H :)
But i will not give up!
I´m going to clean the stones. No mess will be done in the tank. You know.. after doing this for so long we develope skills and technics :cool:

P.S. - Never tryed SAE cause i want to find the origin of BBA.
But i put here my exerience for "Andyone" could take some notes or watch for some equal things we may be doing and compare.
how funny. I seem to be able to get rid of bba fairly easily, but it's the clado I just can't seem to deal with. no matter what i do it's always there.
algae just loves to mess with people...
Wow Paulo that's some story! i feel for your troubles.

For me, BBA has affected both my tanks but SAE have eradicated it each time. For my shrimp tank, I used SAE for a few days at a time and it hasn't grown back. I've used Glut/H2O2 at certain points. Once it's weakened, the shrimp seem to mow it down like a well trimmed lawn. :)

Have to go shopping now but a quick question whats SAE?? Or am I a bit thick Siamese Algae Eaters?
But i put here my exerience for "Andyone" could take some notes or watch for some equal things we may be doing and compare.
Hi Paulo

Thanks for sharing your battle notes with the BBA seems you have tried most things. Its a very persistanrt problem which Ive had before twards the end of a set ups life which for me is about every 3-4 years when a build up of organics in the substrate is inevitable. This was with non EI set ups at which point eveything got dumped apart from the in tank hardware which is bleached, boiled and scrubbed to death.

Intrestingly as you have said I would see some regrowth on just these items is as though they had become seeded with BBA. This time its occured after just 14 months despite adhereing to strict dosing, water/cleaning regiems its as though the massive increase in nutrients that EI brings has speeded the development of the problem.

It will be intresting to see if using loads of fast growers out competes the BBA but then won't this just cause increases in organic waste requiring incresed water chnges etc.

Personally I'm doubting that despite the excellent results some get with EI that lower levels of nutrients, excellent water quality ie like chalk streams/coral reefs is the better way as excess nutrients in these systems we know causes major problems with alge etc food for thought.