What exactly causes BBA? Part 2 - Bacterial imbalance

fablau

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ShawnMac

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Unfortunately, your account hardly qualifies as an experiment. It is an anecdote at best. What also bothers me is the language commonly associated with other pseudoscience: "detox" and "believe" or "belief".

An experiment would contain tight control over other variables in order to prevent confounding explanation. It would also include a control tank and some degree of replication. In addition you entered the project with an assumption of your conclusion which has heavily biased your interpretation of observations.

We have no proof that these levels are toxic or create growth issues as you present nothing to support it other than your own heavily biased anecdote. There are many examples that would indicate otherwise.

I simply cannot see how the case example presented provides enough quality evidence to somehow change the discussion away from good management and horticultural practices to some ill defined trace nutrient dosing range as a catch all explanation for any type of algae or growth issues.

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fablau

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Ok, whatever... I explained on my posting mentioned above that there is not any scientific data and my results are just from testing and observing. But of course what your are bringing out here is NOT the point of my intent nor the point of this thread. The point here is to find a way to combat BBA, and in my case, I have found it :)

If you think that what I wrote has no value, just ignore it, but please, don't lecture me on what's an experiment or not. Just ignore what I wrote, maybe someone else will find it useful.
 

AndyMcD

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Shawnmac, have you heard of the Higgs Boson particle? Theoretical physicists had hypothesised the existence of a particle that may help to explain mass in the 1960s. Only very recently, after huge amounts of money have been spent on a particle collider at CERN has this been proved by experimental physicists. Due to theoretical physicists, the experimental physicists knew where to look.

Having studied science, I appreciate exactly where you are coming from. However, realistically, it is highly unlikely that anyone will invest the resources to prove the cause of outbreaks of BBA through experiment alone.

I admire Fablau for hypothesising a potential cause of BBA outbreaks. I'm aware that Fablau has read published scientific literature to help support his hypothesis.

Realistically, to move forward in this hobby, we'll need to focus resource where it is most likely to lead to a definite result.

Personally, I admire Fablau for investing his time and having the courage to publish his hypothesis. Maybe his thinking will help us all to get closer to a cause.

Having said this, I agree with you that only through scientific experiment will we prove or disprove a hypothesis.



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ShawnMac

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I do not take issue with the sharing of the experience, but it shouldn't be given a pass as a scientific approach and if presented in that way it should stand up to scrutiny. So if you want to call it an experiment cite a single article behind a pay wall and aggrandize the conclusions, expect a little skepticism. It's probably good. It's not a personal attack. Even a hypothesis has to stand on some legs. The conclusions need much more. Even as hobbyists we should demand solid evidence and reasoning otherwise we will find ourselves chasing every new idea to come along or trying to replicate every anecdote...this is not a good approach. Sorry for not handing out a pat on the back, but I didn't feel it was actually constructive. Maybe the thread should be renamed random ideas and experiences on BBA in order to prevent folks like me from getting confused.

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AndyMcD

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Shawnmac, please take a look at the following paper (at the end of this post) which talks about how too high a concentration of Magnesium ions affects the efficiency of the enzyme Rubisco, which is a critical enzyme in plant photosynthesis.

I think Fablau is onto something because I've also read about how the effect of photorespiration also affects the efficiency of Rubisco, when plants are exposed to too much light when there is insufficient CO2 (or too much O2). I'm sure you'll agree that there is plenty of anecdotal information about plants becoming unhealthy and algae outbreaks when they are exposed to too much light / insufficient CO2.

I'd love to investigate further whether environmental changes can impact on a plant's ability to photosynthesise. If inefficient, do they become unhealthy, leaching organics and minerals, which algae can utilise (perhaps indirectly through bacteria).

I don't think Fablau claimed that he had designed an experiment to scientifically prove a hypothesis. He carried out a personal experiment to test an idea.

This thread may be about random ideas, but some of us are trying to dig a little deeper and come up with some new ideas to help tackle a problem which is causing a lot of people in the hobby a lot grief. If you want proof through experiment, be realistic, you won't get it. The resources aren't there. At best, we can analyse what scientists have published and create the best argument we can, to fit the anecdotal evidence of people in the hobby.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/17968513/?i=3&from=/23112176/related

"Mg2+ in various concentrations was added to purified Rubisco in vitro to gain insight into the mechanism of molecular interactions between Mg2+ and Rubisco. The enzyme activity assays showed that the reaction between Rubisco and Mg2+ was two order, which means that the enhancement of Rubisco activity was accelerated by low concentration of Mg2+ and slowed by high concentration of Mg2+."
 

fablau

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Thanks Andy for supporting the idea that both toxicities and deficiencies may lead to enzymes inhibition. I think that is a key point of our discussion here.

As I already said, my contribution to this thread as well as on other forums is not scientifically proven, and I have no scientific data, everyone should read that on my thread mentioned above:

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...csm-b-toxicity-experiment-42.html#post8967746

I have never claimed to have scientific data in my hands proving my conclusions, I stated exactly the opposite. And of course, I used the word "experiment" in its most general meaning, as the dictionary states:

Experiment: a test, trial, or tentative procedure; an act or operation for the purpose of discovering something unknown or of testing a principle, supposition, etc.


I hope this clarifies everything :)

Shownmac: no pat is necessary, thank you for your concern ;)
 

ShawnMac

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Is Mg actively or passively transported into plants? The paper is in vitro so if plants can actively control Mg uptake then I do not see how this would be an important citation as plants would avoid Mg levels that negatively effected health. Were the investigators looking at toxicity induced by environmental factors or how Mg impacts certain metabolic pathways? Important considerations, IMO.

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AndyMcD

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Is Mg actively or passively transported into plants? The paper is in vitro so if plants can actively control Mg uptake then I do not see how this would be an important citation as plants would avoid Mg levels that negatively effected health. Were the investigators looking at toxicity induced by environmental factors or how Mg impacts certain metabolic pathways? Important considerations, IMO.
Important considerations, I agree.

'Luxury uptake' in plants would suggest that they take in more than their needs for future use, but whether this excess makes it as far as the cells carrying out photosynthesis, don't know.

You're correct. This may irrelevant.


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AndyMcD

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Shawnmac, the following two links to Wikipedia describe how magnesium deficiency and photorespiration both effect the photosynthetic efficiency of plants and may ultimately impact on the health of plants.

There is lots of anecdotal evidence of insufficient CO2 causing on outbreak of BBA. There is lots of discussion about other potential causes too. Why should a reduction in CO2 directly benefit an organism that uses photosynthesis to produce energy and grow? Other indirect mechanisms must be at work, that the aquarist may be controlling. What could these be?

This information on Wikipedia seemed relevant:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnesium_in_biology#Plant_physiology_of_magnesium

In animals, it has been shown that different cell types maintain different concentrations of magnesium.[6][7][8][9] It seems likely that the same is true for plants.[10][11] This suggests that different cell types may regulate influx and efflux of magnesium in different ways based on their unique metabolic needs. Interstitial and systemic concentrations of free magnesium must be delicately maintained by the combined processes of buffering (binding of ions to proteins and other molecules) and muffling (the transport of ions to storage or extracellular spaces[12]).

In plants, and more recently in animals, magnesium has been recognized as an important signaling ion, both activating and mediating many biochemical reactions. The best example of this is perhaps the regulation of carbon fixation in chloroplasts in the Calvin cycle.[13][14]

Magnesium is very important in cellular function. Deficiency of the nutrient causes disease of the affected organism. In single-cell organisms such as bacteria and yeast, low levels of magnesium manifests in greatly reduced growth rates. In magnesium transport knockout strains of bacteria, healthy rates are maintained only with exposure to very high external concentrations of the ion.[15][16] In yeast, mitochondrial magnesium deficiency also leads to disease.[17]

Plants deficient in magnesium show stress responses. The first observable signs of both magnesium starvation and overexposure in plants is a decrease in the rate of photosynthesis. This is due to the central position of the Mg2+ ion in the chlorophyllmolecule. The later effects of magnesium deficiency on plants are a significant reduction in growth and reproductive viability.[3] Magnesium can also be toxic to plants, although this is typically seen only in drought conditions.[18][19]

Also, the following appears to be relevant concerning the effects of a deficiency of magnesium:

Magnesium has an important role in photosynthesis because it forms the central atom of chlorophyll.[1] Therefore, without sufficient amounts of magnesium, plants begin to degrade the chlorophyll in the old leaves. This causes the main symptom of magnesium deficiency, chlorosis, or yellowing between leaf veins, which stay green, giving the leaves a marbled appearance. Due to magnesium’s mobile nature, the plant will first break down chlorophyll in older leaves and transport the Mg to younger leaves which have greater photosynthetic needs. Therefore, the first sign of magnesium deficiency is the chlorosis of old leaves which progresses to the young leaves as the deficiency continues.[4] Magnesium also is a necessary activator for many critical enzymes, including ribulosbiphosphate carboxylase (RuBisCO) and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC), both essential enzymes in carbon fixation. Thus low amounts of Mg lead to a decrease in photosynthetic and enzymatic activity within the plants. Magnesium is also crucial in stabilizing ribosome structures, hence, a lack of magnesium causes depolymerization of ribosomes leading to pre-mature aging of the plant.[1] After prolonged magnesium deficiency, necrosis and dropping of older leaves occurs. Plants deficient in magnesium also produce smaller, woodier fruits.

The following relates to photorespiration:

Photorespiration (also known as the oxidative photosynthetic carbon cycle, or C2 photosynthesis) refers to a process in plant metabolism where the enzyme RuBisCOoxygenates RuBP, causing some of the energy produced by photosynthesis to be wasted. The desired reaction is the addition of carbon dioxide to RuBP (carboxylation), a key step in the Calvin–Benson cycle, however approximately 25% of reactions by RuBisCO instead add oxygen to RuBP (oxygenation), creating a product that cannot be used within the Calvin–Benson cycle. This process reduces the efficiency of photosynthesis, potentially reducing photosynthetic output by 25% in C3plants.[1] Photorespiration involves a complex network of enzyme reactions that exchange metabolites between chloroplasts, leaf peroxisomes and mitochondria.

The oxygenation reaction of RuBisCO is a wasteful process because 3-Phosphoglycerateis created at a reduced rate and higher metabolic cost compared with RuBP carboxylase activity. While photorespiratory carbon cycling results in the formation of G3P eventually, there is still a net loss of carbon (around 25% of carbon fixed by photosynthesis is re-released as CO2)[2] and nitrogen, as ammonia. Ammonia must be detoxified at a substantial cost to the cell. Photorespiration also incurs a direct cost of one ATP and one NAD(P)H.
 

Soilwork

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I'd like to offer my experiences if I may. I was running a 46 gallon bowfront with little success using live plants although I never remembered having an algae problem. Perhaps a little GSA on the back glass. I was running 3 large tanks at the time and water changes were becoming difficult for me. I had heard about naturally planted tanks that could be accomplished using soil and fish food. I became I Walstad fanboy and researched her methods heavily. I couldn't add the soil to my 46 bowfront straight away but I thought It might have been a good idea to adopt some of her other methods in preparation so I stopped doing water changes and decided I would let the plants do the filtering. I introduced a siesta period and decreased surface agitation and stopped gravel vacuuming.
At this time I was running 2 x 25w t8 tubes with a black gravel substrate and fluval 205 filter. Within a couple of months the only plants that survived were jungle val, Anubis and a crypt. My ph was 7.5 and always had been. The black gravel and driftwood were covered in BBA. This tank was a messy swamp.

Dirt would fix this I thought. I finally set my dirt substrate up with added clay and crushed coral. I even added coral to the filter with all the same parameters. I added lots of new plants because this time they were going to survive right? Wrong. All my plants began to die except the ever resilient crypts and Anubis. BBA algae did not go away.

During this time I had set up a 19litre Walstad tank that would house shrimp. The soil in this tank has been mineralised and the layer was only an inch think if that. I stuffed this tank full of plants. I did not get any Algae. I didn't feed the shrimp often and they were fine. Only problem was two of the Amazon swords in this tank outcompeted the other plants and that's all I was left with.

My small Betta tank in my bedroom was not a Walstad but again I thought it would be a good idea to adopt her methods. Less water changes, more plants etc. My Betta died. It contracted an unstoppable case of finrot. This tank hardly even had a flow because the Betta could not handle it which made it even worse. The surface was thick with scum most of the time. I feel so bad about how I had kept that Betta but I just didn't understand at the time.

Back to the 46...I started to get heavily in to carbon limitation and convinced myself that starving the plants of co2 was pointless. I became obsessed with it. I decided to clean up my act having failed with the Walstad approach. I cleaned the filter religiously, added activated carbon and a second filter with a uv light (Ich problem another story) to increase flow. I manually removed all the BBA. Just sucked the infected gravel up and took the driftwood out completely. I started adding easy carbo. I had added the juwel high lite fixture too by this point with reflectors. The tank was spottless and the plants looked great! BBA never returned. I started to get GSA on nearly every single leaf. When I took my readings I found that I now had 0 nitrate or phosphates so I began adding EI. GSA went away on new leaves. I got to the stage of injecting carbon. But I removed the coral I don't know why (didn't want the co2 to be in bicarbonates form?). (Tap water Kh of 3 dkh) Still soil substrate capped with gravel all this time. I dialled in about 1 bubble per second and watched my tank turn in to a jungle. After a while I decided to have a go at a proper aquascape now I had mastered co2. I removed probably two thirds of the plants. When I uprooted I kicked up a lot of the substrate. Shortly after I had made these changes I noticed my swordtail acting strange. Very skittish and observed some fin fraying on my cardinals. The shrimp stayed under the bogwood and the ottos moved to the side of the tank opposite the diffuser. I noted my ph to be yellow probably 6.0 or lower. I had my co2 to come in 3 hours before lights to ensure full co2 saturation at lights on as advised by ceg0408. The night after I had kicked up the gravel my tank went very cloudy for a few days. BBA has now come back accompanied by BGA although that did begin growing with high co2 along the front at substrate level. Over the last couple of days I turned co2 off completely and increased surface agitation and flow immensely and now im cleaning filters whenever I can. Since the co2 has gone off the shrimp are out and about and the sword has gone back to normal and so have the ottos. The BBA and BGA are still there (BGA in small quantities) but they haven't grown much. Now after reading threads about Walstad admitting her tanks have been struggling for oxygen and threads such as this one I am really wanting to go back to low tech which focuses heavily on supporting autotrophic bacteria colonies and reducing BOD.

Would running purigen and activated carbon help remove dissolved organics in the water column thus preventing feeding hetero bacteria? What about ammonia adsorbing medias? How can I increase oxygen in my canister? Is floss a good idea to have in a canister as it gets so horribly dirty?

Hope you could follow my story I have probably left a few things out but that is pretty much how it has Gone over the last 3 years.

Thanks
 

ShawnMac

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The information still does not address the ideas I had contested, which was this concept if micro nutrient toxicity. The information pertains to deficiency which also negates an organisms methods of transporting or storing the nutrient as a deficiency in the environment ensures an intracelluar deficiency. If plants, and I do not know the answer, can actively regulate uptake and or store surpluses, then there is a mechanism to prevent detrimental effects from excess in the environment. Since plants cannot move and must deal with a range of conditions I would wager many are capable of this for many nutrients. Toxic effects would be extra cellular, in areas where the plant meets the environment, not intracellular.

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Soilwork

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Since BBA has resurfaced I have somehow managed to cultivate nearly every single algae going in my tank. I have BBA, BGA, GSA, green hair and staghorn algae.

If you want, I can make step by step changes to my tank to try and eridacate them all. Preferably leaving glut addition till last. I can tell you everything about my tank and we can go from there. I can also provide pictures.
 

zozo

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What interesting turns topics can have.. :) How about science is the new religion?? :crazy: And in a very broad perspective this is so very true..

Religion the art of believing so to speak and science the art of knowing. Both like a couple being in love, can't live with or without eachother, fighting over their first born child called Confundo.

No matter how hard you try both still based on believing you know what's behind the big black hole.

A Rabbit?? :pompus:
 

AndyMcD

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Soilwork, I'm struggling with a hair algae outbreak at the moment, which I thought I had beat, but I'm not so sure. I don't feel at the moment that I can advise anyone what to do. However, I'll give you some feedback based on this proposed theory (which is unproven).

I'll also repeat tips recommended by others.

I have had some improvement with a 3 day blackout, on hair algae and spots of BGA. It's not a permanent solution. Need to find the cause. In my case, probably excess fertilisers in a new tank / insufficient water changes. It may help you reset your tank. You could start here.

Before and after a blackout, a deep clean to remove as much algae and waste / organics is recommended. Large percentage water changes before and after. Make sure to clean out filters.

In general, extra CO2 and better flow / distribution is recommended and reducing light intensity while you figure out what may be happening.

Listening to Scapefu and reading this forum, phosphate may help with GSA.

BGA may be a sign of filters (or pipe work needing a clean?). Blackout helped to get rid. Add cardboard strip on outside of tank to prevent daylight getting to affected areas.

Back to the theory.

tank that would house shrimp. The soil in this tank has been mineralised and the layer was only an inch think if that. I stuffed this tank full of plants. I did not get any Algae. I didn't feed the shrimp often and they were fine.
Soil was mineralised (less organics?). Less of it. Effective and hungry clean up crew feeding on emergent algae. Healthier plants? Lots of plants producing oxygen to help A bacteria.

My Betta died. It contracted an unstoppable case of finrot. This tank hardly even had a flow because the Betta could not handle it which made it even worse. The surface was thick with scum most of the time.
Sorry not to soften this next quote from Wikipedia

"Fin rot can be the result of a bacterial infection (Pseudomonas fluorescens, which causes a ragged rotting of the fin), or as a fungalinfection (which rots the fin more evenly and is more likely to produce a white 'edge'). Sometimes, both types of infection are seen together. Infection is commonly brought on by bad water conditions, injury, poor diet, or as a secondary infection in a fish which is already stressed by other disease."

Pseudomonas Fluorescens is a type of heterotrophic bacteria. This link also suggests it is a producer of vitamin B12, which BBA needs from other organisms to re-produce (vitamin auxotrophy) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/8060790/

Uprooting plants has possibly released bacteria, organics (new adjusting or unhealthy plants) and ammonia into the water column, leading to a bacteria bloom. This may be why the tank went cloudy.

When your lights are on, I think you should have the CO2 on and keep surface agitation low. Let healthy plants produce oxygen. If livestock suffering, turn down CO2 rate. When lights are off, increase surface agitation. Air pump on a timer or raise your filter outlets to the surface. This will help to get oxygen into your filter.

Purigen will help remove ammonia, I think. However, where is the source of organics / waste leading to the ammonia?

Carbon filters may help to reduce organics, but change after 3 months. If they are accumulating organics, could become food for H bacteria?

Not sure if this is much help. Only a suggestion as to possibly why. Many more experienced people on this forum who can provide better advice.
 

AndyMcD

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The information still does not address the ideas I had contested, which was this concept if micro nutrient toxicity.
If plants receive too much (or too little) micro nutrients through the water column, does this lead to them being unhealthy? For example, does an excess (or too little) affect their ability to photosynthesise? Too little means they are unable to produce chlorophyll. If unhealthy, do they leach organics?

There is another thread in the algae section asking why EI helps to prevent algae. You might want to raise this point there?
 
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Would running purigen and activated carbon help remove dissolved organics in the water column thus preventing feeding hetero bacteria? What about ammonia adsorbing medias? How can I increase oxygen in my canister? Is floss a good idea to have in a canister as it gets so horribly dirty?
Hey Soilwork.
Purigen does help prevent organic build up. Water changes even more so. I've always done large weekly water changes in my low tech tanks, for the sake of the fish but perhaps its what helps with algae too. Do not use ammonia absorbing material. A tank should enough filtration, plants and water changes to cope with the bioload, providing the bioload isn't excessive. Ammonia absorbing material will starve both your filters and plants and when you forget to change it on time, there'll be trouble in the tank.
The only way to increase oxygen is to provide enough surface agitation. That's where oxygen exchange occurs. Without any surface agitation, and especially if the plants aren't doing well, there will be lack of oxygen in the tank, which affects the entire mini eco-system.

I do not use floss in the filters. Coarse to medium sponges work extremely well with water clarity. I have not seen "dirty" water since I started using them in my filters. They don't clogg and slow the flow like floss does. Also consider using prefilter sponges on the intake which you can wash more often. Shrimp love them.

Diana Walstad method is fine except for her advise not to use filtration and surface agitation. I believe she subsequently revised her opinion on that part. In a low tech tank the bacteria in the soil that produces CO2 relies on oxygen to do so. Without oxygen, different types of bacteria flourish that produce methane, hydrogen sulphate and other harmful gasses instead. You need to cultivate a balance, with the right type of micro-organisms flourishing to have a healthy tank, by providing what they need. If you limit the oxygen, then everything from nitrogen cycle, to plants and fish severely suffer. The tank will turn into a dump. Oxygen and flow should be sufficient to reach the substrate where the bacteria needs it. Plants with big root system help deliver it better around the substrate. Snails like MTS help prevent detritus buildup in the substrate that can affect oxygen delivery, so do shrimp which are great shredders.

In my experience lack of micronutrients does severely affect the plants to the point of killing them but isn't necessarily a trigger for algae. Plants just aren't healthy, that's all. However, in a tank that relies solely on plants for filtration, the story is different as there's no back up for ammonia build up. Most types of algae are related to excessive ammonia production and organic build up.

I can produce tens of pictures from my tanks with plants that suffer deficiencies and not a sign of algae. Here is one taken a few years back. The tank has sand substrate and is still running though with more plants and bit healthier looking. It was my quarantine tank so I never paid much attention to it. The only time it has had algae, and severe at that, was when growing fry and overfeeding. It was overrun by algae then
The pictures below is an example of severely nutrient deficient tank without algae. Filtration is 15x in this tank, although via two small filters and I've always done 50% water changes. My point is, deficient plants don't trigger algae in a low tech tank. I can't speak about high tech tanks but I would assume algae doesn't change it's food habits.

SmallTank4_zpse1ee928d.jpg


SmallTank2_zpsff531405.jpg
 

AndyMcD

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Sciencefiction, thank you for your detailed response. Good to hear from someone more experienced. Andy


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Soilwork

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Thanks Andy. I have already kind of thought of a step by step action plan to try and figure the cause of these algae's. They are have all appeared an live together so there must be some causal that they all have in common.

I understand where you are going with the black out but I am reluctant to do this. Like you said, this does not address the cause of the issue and a black out may lead to plant decay which could further increase the problem?

The Betta tank only got green spot algae. It was a small 5 gallon. The Betta would surface regularly and his dorsal fin would contact the biofilm. This is where the finrot started. It did not attack any other fin. After I noticed this I tried everything to stop it. I even moved him to the shrimp tank. But he eventually had to be euthanised. Interestingly enough the Betta tank with the biofilm did not get much algae at all.

I honestly believe I destroyed the bacteria with such a low ph. I know that the co2 chart is based on a scientific calculation that does not hold much degree of accuracy in an aquarium due to other effects of acidity but a ph of 6 and a dkh of 3 indictes a co2 level of 90ppm it couldn't have been anywhere near that level in my tank surely? The drop checker only ever turned dark green.

Anyway since I destroyed the bacteria? Heterotrophic bacteria may have reproduced quickest and taken over the tank?

My first port of call is going to be manual removal of all algae, cleaning of the filter media (which may upset the autotrophs?) huge water change. I am going to then continue with EI dosing and leave co2/o2 levels at equilibrium. I will keep up with this heavy maintenance schedule and gas exchange rate and if algae returns then we can then move on to. Something else. Another algae reset and increased co2.

The last time I reset the algae. I added carbon to my filter and dosed easy carbo. The BBA did not returned. The problem is that if glut is destroying the bacteria it does not reveal the cause and so I would like to use this strategy last if possible.

I will probably remove the floss from the filters as the gunk they collect is rapid and heavy. It would be better that the gunk dissolve in the water column where is can be removed via water changes.

The BGA started to show with the addition of higher lighting and co2 if I remember rightly. The ribbed fluval 205 tubing is a nightmare for collecting gunk. And even though I cleaned it thoroughly before adding co2 just short of a moth ago it looks like it has grown back. Stopping the fluval then switching it back on forces lots of detritus back in to the water column.

As for co2 injection if it does get switched back on. I'm going to have it come on with the lights so that it is being removed by the plants as it is being injected. This should help prevent ph falling so much?

Thanks

Edit: I meant glut is destroying the algae
 
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