Time and the disappearance of algae

JoshP12

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Hi all,

Sometimes people report algae "disappearing" on its own just with time and whatever maintenance they do. Other times, people say we need to remove algae (I have even said this because it makes sense to me).

The discussion of disappearance of algae is not "great" to have as it is unique to the tank (did you starve a nutrient by neglecting the tank, reducing overall demand - did you pay more attention? etc etc etc).

But - I have a specific question/thought which I think aids in all of the above (and likely has "less" impact in the short term, but "large" impact in the long term).

A few months ago, I reached some stability in my tank and I haven't really touched or fiddled with anything aside from trimming and watching - thanks to UKAPS. On purpose, I left a single Buce leaf with some BBA on it - just to see what would happen. Now, growth happens, shading happens, flow gets clogged - this is a changing system - so was the buce leaf shaded at some point ... yes - the buce is fine and growing (and that one leaf is "different"**) - and that may be more of a contributor than what I am about to propose.

**As I watched, the amount of BBA on the buce leaf has reduced. Now, algae's can't store nutrients as effectively as plants ... so during that shaded/reduced time, the algae may have starved (this is plausible). But slowly but surely in 6 months it has started to recede. Aside from the argument that my nutrients/flow/light gets reduced, I am providing an environment optimal for plants and necessarily this already established algae SHOULD be growing. Maybe something is eating it?

I am wondering if it is the Bacteria + Archeae (and protists) in the system.

Is it possible that people reporting that algae will go away on its own - in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, etc - is (at least in part) due to these micro organisms? After said period of time (perhaps years), their tanks are "clean" (rid of algae) and "healthy" (they may have been healthy all along).

Some great posts to shed some light on this are here:
@tiger15 < here> where he mentions that the algaes of new tank syndrome become food for microbes -- but can BBA become food too?
@dw1305 < here>

Some of the sound advice/strategies used to "beat" algae - nuke it, remove it manually, fix your parameters - is going to work. Other advice of just embracing algae in tandem with healthy plants is great too. And there is a < great thread >touching on this.

Just a conversation starter really.

:)

Josh
 

PARAGUAY

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I think the expierence of having the 55gallon afew years back It had quite a bit of algae plants not doing really well. Filtration was the standard aqua one overhead next to the lighting.Non CO2. On a visit to LFS bought a few bunches of Elodea and vallis and talking about the algae the owner recommended a product called Cleanwater . The tank was replanted and the algae product put in the filter. Plantamin was used fertiliser. In a few days the water looked crystal clear and plants really took off The algae all but disappeared
Fast forward a bit using CO2 and problem with external filter lighting changed from T8 to T5 . Problem with hair algae in the tank using EI A lot of plants thriving though . Temporary put a couple of internal filters and powerhead in while the external was out of action. The plants looked even better and hair algae disappeared . Obvious in this instance it was inconsistent flow from the external not right causing the algae:D
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Aside from the argument that my nutrients/flow/light gets reduced, I am providing an environment optimal for plants and necessarily this already established algae SHOULD be growing. Maybe something is eating it?
I'm not sure about things eating it, but I think you naturally get cycles of growth with BBA (Audouinella), because of its complex life cycle with an <"alternation of generations">.

If you have Ramshorn Snails they seem to reduce it on hard surfaces, possibly because they are grazing off the sporelings from the alternation of generations. I've just sent @EA James a Bolbitis plant, I didn't look at it under a microscope etc, but to the eye it looked entirely devoid of any algae, and just had some strands of moss attached to the fronds. There were some snails, but only a few baby Ramshorns, in amongst the rhizome.

There maybe also be a <"requirement for Vitamin B12">, I don't know whether its level is ever limiting in the aquarium.

cheers Darrel
 

Tim Harrison

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I don't think bacteria can consume algae since they are incapable of phagocytosis. However, apparently green algae have been observed consuming bacteria... Scientists offer first definitive proof of bacteria-feeding behaviour in green algae.

Which perhaps supports the origins of multicellularity - colonies of unicellular organisms each with their own specific function eventually fusing through evolution to create one multi-cellular organism. Which ultimately led to the Cambrian explosion.

I often think of algae as pioneer species, hardy species that are first to colonise barren or disturbed environments. These in turn make conditions more suitable for other species and on it goes in ecological succession until a natural climatic climax community is reached.

I guess this happens in our aquariums. A newly set up scape is a barren place until the plants adapt and start to grow, so algae can become common at this stage. As the plants grow and the system matures it becomes biologically stable and robust, and our plants thrive and hopefully algae dies off and/or becomes less noticeable.

It can be a bit of a race for dominance between the plants, and algae before a tank becomes stable, depending on light intensity. And I think this is where a lot of folk get tripped up. That's why it's best to plant densely from the get go and why auxiliary plants are also a good idea.
 

JoshP12

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I think the expierence of having the 55gallon afew years back It had quite a bit of algae plants not doing really well. Filtration was the standard aqua one overhead next to the lighting.Non CO2. On a visit to LFS bought a few bunches of Elodea and vallis and talking about the algae the owner recommended a product called Cleanwater . The tank was replanted and the algae product put in the filter. Plantamin was used fertiliser. In a few days the water looked crystal clear and plants really took off The algae all but disappeared
I wonder what was in that Cleanwater product. The interesting part is that the plants took off and the algae died. Not JUST that the algae died.

Fast forward a bit using CO2 and problem with external filter lighting changed from T8 to T5 . Problem with hair algae in the tank using EI A lot of plants thriving though . Temporary put a couple of internal filters and powerhead in while the external was out of action. The plants looked even better and hair algae disappeared . Obvious in this instance it was inconsistent flow from the external not right causing the algae:D

It seems tempting to say that the flow gave the nutrients, gave healthy, and then allelopathy via chemical warfare. The part that gets me is the temporary part. Did you remove them and then the algae didn't come back? Or did you fix the problem with the external filter?


Hi all, I'm not sure about things eating it, but I think you naturally get cycles of growth with BBA (Audouinella), because of its complex life cycle with an <"alternation of generations">.

If you have Ramshorn Snails they seem to reduce it on hard surfaces, possibly because they are grazing off the sporelings from the alternation of generations. I've just sent @EA James a Bolbitis plant, I didn't look at it under a microscope etc, but to the eye it looked entirely devoid of any algae, and just had some strands of moss attached to the fronds. There were some snails, but only a few baby Ramshorns, in amongst the rhizome.

So, my sporophyte "pieces" of BBA produce their gametes (by using energy - is it ATP in this case? - that they have stored/made via photosynthesis/cellular respiration relationship) -- those gametophytes produce sporelings (transition to sporophyte) and those sporelings are eaten by my ramshorns.

Why don't they eat the gametophytes, Darrel? Are they less tasty? Perhaps like bark - an evolutionary adaptation to protect itself and perpetuate survival?

If we reduce the availability of nutrients/light and have a "relatively (to the situation) good" ramshorn population, then the rate of sporeling formation (limited by nutrient availability - as this limits energy availability) will be less than the rate the ramshorns eat it (the ramshorn population may adapt but the relationships will become complex as we have other food sources for ramshorns). Hence, I notice the recession of BBA - since the shadowing I mentioned has limited energy creation and my ramshorns "eat at a faster rate".

I mean the recession is small - I won't even try to add a metric - but it did recede.

All this, if it had access to more nutrients, then would it "grow" (visible increase in mass)?


There maybe also be a <"requirement for Vitamin B12">, I don't know whether its level is ever limiting in the aquarium.
cheers Darrel

Oh my ... plants need vitamins :oops: ?! I suppose they support metabolic pathways. It's too much!!!! But it makes sense - especially when we look at DNA and RNA ... and even ATP synthase ... we need proteins and those proteins need amines ... ammonia :oops:.

Can they synthesize them themselves via the fertilizer building blocks or are they like us in the sense that they cannot synthesize some and we need to provide those (I mean specifically molecules such as vitamin B12 etc)?

I don't think bacteria can consume algae since they are incapable of phagocytosis. However, apparently green algae have been observed consuming bacteria... Scientists offer first definitive proof of bacteria-feeding behaviour in green algae. Which perhaps supports the origins of multicellularity - colonies of unicellular organisms each with their own specific function eventually fusing through evolution to create one multi-cellular organism. Which ultimately led to the Cambrian explosion.

Even more of a reason to destroy algae ... they eat our precious bacterial assemblage!!!! :p ... but seriously, it's amazing that these strands of green are literally consuming bacterias ... I mean our stomachs do this ... but ... they must have little tools like spears :p.

I often think of algae as pioneer species, hardy species that are first to colonise barren or disturbed environments. These in turn make conditions more suitable for other species and on it goes in ecological succession until a natural climatic climax community is reached.

I guess this happens in our aquariums. A newly set up scape is a barren place until the plants adapt and start to grow, so algae can become common at this stage. As the plants grow and the system matures it becomes biologically stable and robust, and our plants thrive and hopefully algae dies off and/or becomes less noticeable.

It can be a bit of a race for dominance between the plants, and algae before a tank becomes stable, depending on light intensity. And I think this is where a lot of folk get tripped up. That's why it's best to plant densely from the get go and why auxiliary plants are also a good idea.

The crux of this is the competition for nutrients. How do plants actually win the fight? There are obvious factors such as "taking up space so that the algae can't inhabit it (and the evolution of leaves, vascular tissue, and roots help with this)" or even "shading" but it has to be more than this ... no? How come we have spots where algae COULD grow, but it doesn't? Like those tanks with "negative space".

Do they have an evolutionary adaptation that allows them to better sequester nutrients ... it has to be more than the onset of roots (and vascular tissue) -- since many of us dose heavily in the water column and manage to have no/minimal visible algaes. Is it allelopathy? Or is it something that we do not know that we do not know?

Please don't say it is all of the above :nailbiting: :).

Josh
 
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Tim Harrison

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Please don't say it is all of the above :nailbiting: :).
It probably is, no one really knows. High organic conc. plays a role too, it seems to encourage algae. But a mature stable system with a high plant biomass seems to discourage algae, even if the tank has negative space. I think that's why refugiums work well.
 

PARAGUAY

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@JoshP12 l dont think the filter media had a impact on the new plant growth the plants were healthy and Elodea is a fast grower and oxegenator but as the algae disappeared the tank improved the plants did well. The Cleanwater is it says"Baked clay beads and special resin" The CO2 later added l did eventually take the internals back out and back to the 2000ltexternal Why l am convinced flow is so important is that was proof to me but the forum is always saying it. We can sort of test this at times by looking at plants and how the flow of CÒ2 reaches them
 

rebel

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Is it possible that people reporting that algae will go away on its own - in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, etc - is (at least in part) due to these micro organisms?
It would be rather difficult to conduct an experiment to test this hypothesis?
 

dino21

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the owner recommended a product called Cleanwater . The tank was replanted and the algae product put in the filter. Plantamin was used fertiliser.

Could you say if you still use that Cleanwater product and where you purchased it from /who makes it ? have googled but nothing specific found for fishkeeping,
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
So, my sporophyte "pieces" of BBA produce their gametes (by using energy - is it ATP in this case? - that they have stored/made via photosynthesis/cellular respiration relationship) -- those gametophytes produce sporelings (transition to sporophyte) and those sporelings are eaten by my ramshorns.

Why don't they eat the gametophytes, Darrel? Are they less tasty? Perhaps like bark - an evolutionary adaptation to protect itself and perpetuate survival?
The actual life cycle of Red Algae is <"very complex">, and I don't know what triggers spore formation, but in terms of palatability, my guess is that none of the stages of growth are actually very palatable, and that the snails just graze of whatever is present (in the biofilm) in a totally non-selective manner, a bit like a lawn mower (see below).

Land_Snail_radula_tracks.jpg


By Chiswick Chap - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15009732
It would be rather difficult to conduct an experiment to test this hypothesis?
Yes I think you are right, it is back to <"shades of grey"> and the difficulties of finding <"empirical proof">.

cheers Darrel
 

PARAGUAY

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Could you say if you still use that Cleanwater product and where you purchased it from /who makes it ? have googled but nothing specific found for fishkeeping,
No dont use it , had a look around and a company called viovet have it google www.viovet.co.uk Its less than £2 a box so maybe discontinued stock? It's for pond use and marine also. Quite a few of these type products on the market and as it bit like activated carbon only lasts 6 to 8 weeks.
 

Soilwork

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I have to say I love this thread. Someone is thinking beyond the realms of light, ferts and co2 control in their quest to combat algae.

When I read the algae threads, particularly from ‘high energy’ tanks there is always a large time frame from when the inevitable suggestions of messing about with lighting, ferts and co2 levels commence to when things actually start turning the corner. The subsequent success is then put down to the tinkering of one of this three grail parameters. The notion that the tank was maturing all the while during these attempts to manipulate each parameter usually goes completely unnoticed.

Depending on how you start the tank, after a hefty number of months, tanks tend to come in to their own. The water clarity become crystal and they become extremely robust.

The other thing I’ve noticed in most tanks is that BBA is inevitable. At some point it starts to grow. Particularly in high energy tanks where initial success is precariously balanced on a knife edge. The same issues repeat and we keep tinkering until something works. The tank has MATURED. It’s super stable.

I like to leave my tanks alone simply for this reason.

In my experience most algae is caused by overfeeding in an immature tank, too much light and not enough plants. I can kill BBA by doing exactly what you do. I limit its food. You would think this would also hurt the plants but it doesn’t. You just wait it out and the tank will achieve a balance far more complex than light, co2 and ferts. This is when the tank runs clean. Ultra clean without intervention. One of the most important ways to speed up this process I personally believe is having strong light and adequate OXYGEN. I keep oxygen levels high 24/7. Not only does this do wonders for the inhabitants it rapidly speeds up decomposition. Reducing the flow by using most types of air driven equipment means the food doesn’t get blown around the tank and swept in to the filter. It gets eaten before it has a chance to induce algae.

Most tanks are painfully lacking in oxygen despite the ridiculously high rates of flow that the fish are having to battle all of the time. Rarely get to see the fishes true behaviour in these type of tanks.

So in my opinion it is a combination of things but mainly a clean, and mature tank. You can soften the ride algae wise by limiting feed or feed live/frozen foods mostly with a bit of dry flakes. Have plenty of oxygen and lots of patience.
 
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