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Struggling with staghorn algae

reefaddict

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15 Jul 2020
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tank2.jpg

tank1.jpg

Tank: ADA 45P, 38 litres
Age: 9 months
Filtration; Dennerle Scaper’s flow, 360 l/h filled with Seachem matrix; EHEIM surface skimmer for additional flow and to remove surface scum.
Lighting: Chihiros WRGB2 @ 50% for 8 hours, gives a PAR reading of 100 micromoles on the carpet
Substrate: ADA Amazonia light
CO2: pressurized, kept stable at around 30 mg/L during lighting period
Ferts: I dose daily for a weekly total of 14,5 ppm NO3-, 1,46 ppm PO4- and 6,11 ppm K+; I dose micros accordingly; this regime keeps pretty stable levels of around 4 ppm NO3-, 0,5 ppm of PO4- and 5 ppm of K+. Mg is kept stable at 10 ppm.
WC: 50% weekly with remineralized RO water keeping same stable conductivity of around 300 microS in the tank
Plants: from day 1: Myriophyllum mattogrossense, Anubias barteri "nana", Hygrophila pinnatifida, Bolbitis heudelotii, Hemianthus callitrichoides “Cuba”, Althernathera reineckii “mini”, Hydrocotyle tripartita “Japan”, Rotala wallichii, Staurogyne repens, Murdannia keisak.
Inhabitants: 7 Danio margaritatus, 1 Otocinclus, 2-3 Amano shrimps.
Water parameters: temp. 24°C, GH 7, KH 4, pH ranging from 7 early morning to 6,6 during daylight.

I’m struggling with staghorn algae since Christmas. They grow on older leaves of lower growing plants, while fast growing stem plants seems unaffected. I’ve found different opinions on several forums and internet sites. Apparently, there’s a consensus on an ammonia spikes as possible cause of the infestation, and, in fact, some amano shrimp is missing, probably because of too much micros fertilization. A well-know german producer of ferts thinks that an excessive amount of iron is to blame, but after a couple of 50% WC with a pause in my micros regime, I saw no results but an apparently better growth of staghorn!

tank3.jpg


Here is what I did :
  • Thinking to the event of an ammonium/ammonia spike I carefully serviced my filter and all the pipes restoring maximum flow;
  • I kept my macros regime constant (plant growth seems pretty good as usual), but I reduced my micros to half the usual dose; I see no apparent sign of iron or other micros deficiency.
  • I’ve been monitoring my CO2 levels during 24h with a pH meter: I’m pretty confident about CO2 levels during daylight being at around 30 ppm; apparently, I don’t have much degassing during the night; I tried to use the surface skimmer more frequently to help degassing and improve oxygen levels at night;

I never mentioned glutaraldehyde or H2O2 as a remedy: I don’t want to use strong chemicals without addressing the cause. I just tried once to lightly spray some excel on Bolbitis leaves and this is the result:

tank4.jpg


Any suggestions?
 

JoshP12

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8 Dec 2019
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Canada
Hi all,

Am following with interest - so thought I would share some of my thoughts.
24 degrees - can we drop it down a degree or two without affecting livestock?

Primary reason is to increase dissolved oxygen levels (which I will comment on after).

Ferts: I dose daily for a weekly total of 14,5 ppm NO3-, 1,46 ppm PO4- and 6,11 ppm K+; I dose micros accordingly; this regime keeps pretty stable levels of around 4 ppm NO3-, 0,5 ppm of PO4- and 5 ppm of K+. Mg is kept stable at 10 ppm.
Sounds silly to ask, but how is Calcium?
Apparently, there’s a consensus on an ammonia spikes as possible cause of the infestation, and, in fact, some amano shrimp is missing, probably because of too much micros fertilization. A well-know german producer of ferts thinks that an excessive amount of iron is to blame, but after a couple of 50% WC with a pause in my micros regime, I saw no results but an apparently better growth of staghorn!
I've read that before as well. Let's consider it to be ammonia. If that is the case, then we need to make more efficient bacteria functionality - Oxygen.

Here is what I did :
  • Thinking to the event of an ammonium/ammonia spike I carefully serviced my filter and all the pipes restoring maximum flow;
Beauty.
  • I kept my macros regime constant (plant growth seems pretty good as usual), but I reduced my micros to half the usual dose; I see no apparent sign of iron or other micros deficiency.
If you reduce the micro, you may reduce overall demand of some nutrients. No way of saying when or by how much.
  • I’ve been monitoring my CO2 levels during 24h with a pH meter: I’m pretty confident about CO2 levels during daylight being at around 30 ppm; apparently,
Can always try a slight increase and pay very close attention. If I were a plant, I wouldn't live underwater sheerly because there is less light and air, so I don't think it could hurt to also try this.
  • I don’t have much degassing during the night; I tried to use the surface skimmer more frequently to help degassing and improve oxygen levels at night;
This is where I would pay some attention. Maybe run the surface skimmer throughout the entire photoperiod? Naturally, you will offgas more CO2, so you will need an injection increase -- this will give more O2 during photoperiod. If you are getting surface scum, then this would be the route I would try.

Also, if you have floss in your filter, I'd remove it for now to get faster flow rates and to prevent clogging.


Quick question: how is the pearling? This will give us a crude indication of O2/light intensity.

Josh
 

Kezzab

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Frustrating stuff.

In my experience its hard to 'save' leaves that have been badly affect. Trimming them off is needed.

The excel treatment has killed the staghorn, hence the red. But I've tended to find it easily melts bolbitis fronds too...

How's the flow in that central part of the tank? Could be worth experimenting.

There doesn't seem to me to be an obvious fault in your regime. Perhaps a big trimming session is needed, then you can monitor the new growth and see if you are over the hump?
 
Last edited:

GHNelson

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Hi
I agree with Kezzab:thumbup: ........ hard pruning of all the affected areas will be for the best in the long run!
Stops the plant using energy on badly affected leaves!
Encouraging new submerged growth!
 

tiger15

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Staghorn belongs to the same family of red algae as bba and responds well to peroxide and Glutaldehyde treatment, as evident in your pic turning red after one treatment. Peroxide breaks down quickly into harmless O2 and H2O, and Glut biodegrades in less than 24 hr, so neither is harsh chemical at appropriate dosage. So if it is working for you, why are you afraid of using them temporarily until you balance out the fundamentals. I spray peroxide to exposed plants and hard surfaces in weekly water change and dose Glut afterward after filling up as an algae prevention measures even though I do not have algae. With rare exceptions, plants, fish and inverts are tolerant of Glut and peroxide at appropriate dosage; in fact, SeaChem promotes daily dosage of Glut as liquid carbon (I don’t buy it) suggesting that it is a benign chemical at recommended dosage.
 

Tim Harrison

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I spray peroxide to exposed plants and hard surfaces in weekly water change
That's interesting, what concentration do you use?
And how long do you leave it. do you spray just before you refill for example?
Are there any plants that don't respond well?
 

Siege

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I’d echo what Tim said and the others about oxygen.

Also look at your co2 . You want it light green at lights on.

also think about the skim, move it maybe? Perhaps a circular flow? At the moment it is blasting your stem plants.

A decent external filter with glassware is probably the best advice.....
 

tiger15

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That's interesting, what concentration do you use?
And how long do you leave it. do you spray just before you refill for example?
Are there any plants that don't respond well?
I spray 3% peroxide on exposed plants, rock, heater, and all hard surfaces when the tank is drained down. So they are exposed to as long as it takes to refill the tank. Then I dose 2 ppm glut after refilling.

Vals, Hornwort, mosses and a few non emergence plants are known to be sensitive to glut. Majority plants are not.
 
Last edited:

Zeus.

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They grow on older leaves of lower growing plants

So with it mainly affecting lower leaves, suggests that the flow and indirectly the CO2 to those leaves may be inadequate.
There does seem to be more CO2 bubbles higher in the tank and very few at substrate level which supports the lack of flow theory.

In my 50l Dennerle tank I also have a 'Dennerle Scaper’s flow' which I have coarse sponge filers only in to help improve flow and I have the Eheim skim working in combination with the Dennerle Scaper’s flow output which hit the CO2 bubbles and force them to front of tank straight down to substrate level, Plus I do have my skim set higher than your . I also have a twinstar nano on tank (not sure if it actually helps) but when its on the whole tank is full of the nano bubbles - if the twinstar nano does nothing 'per sa' the one thing its does is give a great visual display of the flow.

I will try and get some decent pics of CO2 bubbles getting to substrate level and Twinstar nano in action once lights are on later ;)

I dose the tank with Urea and no staghorn or BBA issues, thats not to say there isnt any BBA, as dont always keep on top of maintenance of tank esp the cleaning side (WC always weekly 50%++, but the BBA will be very localised on hardscape only or on CO2 tubing.

So IMO the most likely culprit is insufficient 'Flow/tank turnover' and Filter/Skimmer/CO2 injection placement need optimising, plus affect leaves removed and replace the Amano 'if' its no seen soon as it may have jumped/climbed out. I struggle to keep Amanos in my 50L due to jumpers/climbers and when doing a WC in my 500l braced tank there is always a few trying to escape when I am filling the tank climbing the glass.
 

reefaddict

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First, let me thank you all for your help!

24 degrees - can we drop it down a degree or two without affecting livestock?
I'll do that during weekly maintenance, Danios do like cooler water.
Sounds silly to ask, but how is Calcium?
Given a GH of 8° and Mg at 10 ppm, Ca should be around 40 ppm
If you reduce the micro, you may reduce overall demand of some nutrients. No way of saying when or by how much.
I restarted with micros since I saw lighter sprouts on my Myryophillum
This is where I would pay some attention. Maybe run the surface skimmer throughout the entire photoperiod? Naturally, you will offgas more CO2, so you will need an injection increase -- this will give more O2 during photoperiod. If you are getting surface scum, then this would be the route I would try.
Also, if you have floss in your filter, I'd remove it for now to get faster flow rates and to prevent clogging.
Quick question: how is the pearling? This will give us a crude indication of O2/light intensity.
I think that increasing gas exchange is definitively one of the key problems. I run the skimmer with the help of a programmable socket now: it's on every 2 hours for 10 min. This seems at the moment a resonable compromise between too much flow/degassing if kept always on and the formation of surface scum. I know that this way it would not help in permanently increasing flow.
The filter is filled with coarse pumice stone, no floss.
Pearling start in less than an hour from lights on now after several adjustements I made. Previously, it was probably starting later. I think my issues have more to do with night O2 levels.
In my experience its hard to 'save' leaves that have been badly affect. Trimming them off is needed.
The excel treatment has killed the staghorn, hence the red. But I've tended to find it easily melts bolbitis fronds too...
How's the flow in that central part of the tank? Could be worth experimenting.
Bolbitis fronds melted! Done! :oops:. I worked on the flow with an extensive trimming yesterday, now I see most leaves gently swaying
I agree with Kezzab:thumbup: ........ hard pruning of all the affected areas will be for the best in the long run!
Stops the plant using energy on badly affected leaves!
Right, trimming: done.
Staghorn belongs to the same family of red algae as bba and responds well to peroxide and Glutaldehyde treatment,
I'll give H2O2 a try. Do you spray 3% solution in a diluted form?
Also look at your co2 . You want it light green at lights on.
also think about the skim, move it maybe? Perhaps a circular flow? At the moment it is blasting your stem plants.
A decent external filter with glassware is probably the best advice.....
I know CO2 is one of the most important things to check, but I'm pretty confident my levels are ok just before lights on and through the entire phoperiod.
I've never been satisfied with the position of the skimmer :rolleyes:. I have to place it somewhere else.
My tank is in a bookshelf. Unfortunately I had to choose a hang-on-the-back canister filter like Dennerle's Scapers flow because there's no room for pipes on both sides. What I can do is to switch from the lily pipe to a spray bar, that would probably improve circulation a little bit (although the pump has such a small head that a spray bar may be a bad idea...)
So with it mainly affecting lower leaves, suggests that the flow and indirectly the CO2 to those leaves may be inadequate.
There does seem to be more CO2 bubbles higher in the tank and very few at substrate level which supports the lack of flow theory.
Apparently, most affected leaves are not in low flow area but are always the oldest and biggest. Probably the plant drives more "energy" on healty young leaves and keeps them algae free while sacrifying the oldest ones. Tips are much more affected than other parts of the leaves. Does older leaves leach more than new ones? Staghorn seem to prefer places where the plant leaches nutrients into the water.
replace the Amano 'if' its no seen soon as it may have jumped/climbed out. I struggle to keep Amanos in my 50L due to jumpers/climbers and when doing a WC in my 500l braced tank there is always a few trying to escape when I am filling the tank climbing the glass
I found my kitten happily playing with 2 bodies on the floor... He asked for some mayo sauuce with the shrimps, but I firmly refused.
He can't jump close to the tank, it's in a shelf, THEY jumped out

I made a strong trimming, now I try to increase the flow and reposition the skimmer. I would also make some water test today (yes, boring). Then I'll be back in a few days with (hopefully) good news.
 

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