Algae - again!

Discussion in 'Plant Problems' started by Laure, Aug 9, 2009.

  1. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    Hi

    I need help identifying this algae. It is tangled up in the moss. It kinda looks like blue green algae (BGA) - cayanobacteria, but there are also thin strands that is probably some green filamentous algae. Could also be a combination.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. wearsbunnyslippers
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    wearsbunnyslippers Administrator Staff Member

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    that looks like cyano :(

    i have battled that for a long time without ever getting rid of it 100%, i was going to try erythromycin but then i broke down my tank so it never got that far... if i get it again, i will still go that route.

    increasing the flow over the area and upping my nitrates did help keep it in check!
     
  3. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    So I know its been a bit quiet yesterday, but if there are no other posts then I assume everybody is in agreement that its cyano. I also know it has multiple causes, the main ones being:
    1. Low water circulation - doubt it, but there may be a possible dead spot or 2. It has also been shown that cyano does not necessarily infest the dead spot. It may originate there, though...
    2. High NH4 - unlikely. But I haven't tested NH4 in a while...
    3. Low NH3 - 10ppm at most recent test. A week ago was 20ppm. Interesting...but plant growth has taken off quite a bit in this past week too, so this may be expected. But there is the counter argument that cyano appears, not as a result of low NH3, but when NH3 hits 0 (Tom Barr)
    4. High PO4 - controversial. Many algae web sites quote high PO4 as a possible cause, however, as far as I can tell on various forums, nobody has ever managed to induce cyano by adding too much PO4.
    5. High disolved organics - possible. I have a few dead and decaying leaves after my tank rescape. A few plants didn't enjoy spending a week in a bucket. But they all have new leaves and growth is pretty good at the moment. Perhaps I need to get stuck into just clipping off every single old leave that has a dead spot or two. New ones are forming quickly enough anyway.
    6. Low O2 - shouldn't the fish be the first bio-indicator of this condition? This could be related to point 1, where low flow=low O2...

    Any thoughts? All in agreement that this is cyano and if so, any good recommendations? I have Seachem Purigen which I can place in the filter to absorb the disolved organics. How long should I leave it in the filter?

    I started a 3-day blackout today. The plants are all healthy, as mentioned above, the growth is great, so they won't take much of a knock. I will do a good vacuum and 50% WC after the blackout. Anything else? I want to stay away from treating the cyano with antibiotics. I actually want to address the cause, as plant growth is good and the cyano should die naturally once I adress the imbalance issue.

    Just some tank info:
    1. 300L with 1200l/h external cannister, spray bar 2 cm under water surface, causing good movement on surface without creating splashing or bubbles
    2. Fairly heavily planted. Plants include java and taiwan moss, ammania gracilis, limnophila sessiliflora, riccia fluitans carpet, 3 swords, a few crypts, 7 anubias nana, plenty of ceratopteris cornuta, java fern, 6 large aponogeton crispus, some hairgrass (eleocharis sp), heteranthera zosterifolia, cabomba green
    3. Dosing with Prof Dirk's fertilizer
    4. 4 x 54W T5 bulbs and 1 x Osram Fluora T8 bulb (21400 lumens; 19 lumens per sq inch)
    5. No CO2 - using Happy Life Happy Carbo (same as Excel or Easy Carbo)
    6. Small fish load: 6 clown loaches, school of 10 cardinals, 2 SAE, 3 otocinclus
    7. Feeding - could be considered heavy, but I don't ever see any food going to waste

    Regards
    Lauré
     
  4. Silikube
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    Silikube Moderator Staff Member

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    How long are your lights on for Laure? Has anything regarding lighting changed in the past week or so?
     
  5. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    Hi

    8 hours per day, from 1pm to 9pm. Moonlight runs from 9pm to 10pm.

    Yes I upgraded T8 to T5 in the last week to 2 weeks. But its been fine up until this weekend, when I noticed the BGA. It could have been there earier, it was just I didn't notice it. Also, on Monday when I was at home due to public holiday, I noticed that the tank gets sun early morning (6am to 7am). You see, I never notice that over weekends! So I will have to cover it with a blanket overnight.
     
  6. Ryan
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    Ryan Green fingers

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    Hi Laure

    In this quote:
    You did mean NO3 and not NH3 right?

    I had rather bad cyano in one of my tanks (this was a few years ago). I tried the blackout route, it worked for a while but then the BGA came back. In the end, I manually removed as much as possible (you can tell that it's cyano by the nasty swampy smell) and also reduced how long my lights were on.

    The tank was this one:
    [​IMG]

    It had lots of vallis, and only 6 (rather small) shelldwellers in it. The P. nigripinnis were added after the BGA was defeated. I never really tested the nitrates of that tank, but I would not have been surprised at all if they were hitting 0. I can't imagine the fish were producing very much waste at all and I certainly didn't fertilise. If you have recently increased the amount of light on the tank, it is possible that now your plants are able to use up more nitrates in the time that your lights are on.

    Hope that helps,
    Ryan
     
  7. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    Hi

    Yes I meant NO3. Sorry it was a typo.

    I did recently increase the lights and you are probably right. I am trying the blackout right now just to kill it, but I want to correct the imbalance, so I may have to dose a little bit of NO3 after the blackout. I will mix 21 teaspoons KNO3 (117.6g) with 500ml distilled water. Then, according to Chuck's Calculator, each ml will raise NO3 level, according to my tank size, by 0.48 ppm, so 10ml will raise the level by 4.8ppm. On the calculator it says the target is 5ppm. So does this mean I dose daily 10ml of this solution, or weekly?

    Erythromycin will surely affect the biological filter too, right? Then after the treatment you are faced with a cycle, and if the fish survive that, you may end up with all sorts of other algae that are triggered by the presence of NH4, such as GDA, fuzz, green water and, yes again, BGA. So I am hesitant to go this route.

    Regards
    Lauré
     
  8. wearsbunnyslippers
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    wearsbunnyslippers Administrator Staff Member

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    hey laure,

    erythromycin is only effective against gram-positive bacteria, filter bacteria and most other bacterial diseases in an aquarium are gram-negative so it will not impact your filter. also why it is not recommended for any other bacterial infections only cyano...

    dying cyano will release toxins so you need to do large water changes i dosing erythromycin, these toxins can have a negative effect on your filter bacteria and also the dying cyano will release some ammonia this leads some people to think that the filter bacteria were affected by the antibiotic but it is secondary causes not direct.

    check out this link it has some nice info on cyano.
     
  9. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    Hi

    Yip, quote from thekrib:

    Bacteria can be divided into two groups, either Gram-
    negative (G-) or Gram-positive (G+). This classification is
    based on if the bacteria stains (+) or not (-) in a special
    staining technique - the Gram staining (invented by Christian
    Gram). Positive or negative staining reaction reflects a
    fundamental difference in the structure of the cell wall of
    the bacteria.
    ERYTHROMYCIN IS AN ANTIBIOTIC.
    Erythromycin is more efficient towards G(+) bacteria
    than G(-). It is one of the safest antibiotics, meaning that
    it does not affect plants, fish or animals. Blue-green
    bacteria belongs to the G(-) bacteria but it is a special case
    with respect to sensitivity to antibiotics (i'm on thin ice
    here, but I think I am correct). They are more sensitive to
    erythromycin than other G(-) bacteria. Fortunately, the
    bacteria important for the nitrogen cycle (your biofilter) are
    of the G(-) type and are much less sensitive to erythromycin
    than the blue-green bacteria. So your biological filter is
    "fairly" safe.
    The reason that some tanks experience an ammonia peak
    after treatment with erythromycin is (probably) not because
    the biological filter is non-functional. It is more likely
    that it is because of the high content of protein released
    from the dead blue-green bacteria which is broken down to
    ammonia and/or nitrite by the "good" nitrifying bacteria in
    your biofilter. This boost of protein to be broken down upsets
    the finely tuned balance of different bacteria in your filter.


    *************

    OK, so what is the dosage? I've seen 2.5mg/l and I've seen 200mg/10gallon. Quite a difference there...

    Too low dosages and you might end up with resistant strains...
     
  10. City bowl
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    City bowl Noob

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    I use Erythromycin for cyano the dosage I go by is 200mg/10 US gallons.
    I've never expierienced any adverse affects from using it,
    but normally after using any medication I dose the tank with Organic Aqua B-Bac.
    I actually dosed a small 10 US gallon tank that had a bad cyano problem a couple of weeks ago,
    and it now had some delicate inhabitants which appear to be happy and healthy.
     
  11. wearsbunnyslippers
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    wearsbunnyslippers Administrator Staff Member

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    i have also seen many different dosages ranging from 2.5mg/l to 5mg/l (200mg/10gallon) some people recommend half dosages thats where the differences come in.

    thanks for the feedback City bowl, nice to get info from someone that has tried it and had a positive experience.

    i was going to ask my vet for EM where are you going to get yours from Laure?
     
  12. Silikube
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    Silikube Moderator Staff Member

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    Any ballpark figures on how much you pay and how much you would get from your vet?
     
  13. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    I have a pharmacist friend who trusts me when I say I will use it in my tank ;)

    I just sent an SMS, so awaiting reply. I think it comes in tablets and capsules. I will post back here when I know more.

    The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that one needs to totally erradicate the spores from the tank. It seems erythromycin may just be the answer. In the short term you will have to deal with possible ammonia spikes, followed by nitrite spikes, but regular WC and a dose of Cycle or something similar may help. I don't know if any LFS stocks Organic Aqua B-Bac. I will phone and find out. In the long run, you probably won't have cyano again if you also address the imbalance. In my case, I think lack of NO3 is a probable cause. I recently increased T8 to T5 lights, so plant growth probably placed higher demand on macros and as a result NO3 may have become depleted, resulting in a cyano outbreak. As mentioned, I have such a low fish stock that I should probably do less WC or get more fish. I am working on the latter...

    Has anybody tried Prof Dirk's Happy-Life Algin Extra? It contains Salicylic Acid as the active ingredient and is said to be effective against all types of BGA. Apparently, it eliminates all spores and also prevent reinfestation this way.
     
  14. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    From www.thereeftank.com, posted by tdwyatt

    Please don't use the erythromycin in the tank. I don't know who told you that the erythromycin wouldn't hurt the nitrifying bacteria, but let me put this in perspective. It is very common practice to treat patients prophylactically with a form of erythromycin that is not easily absorbed (so that most of it stays in the gut) the day prior to gut surgery, as it is a type of surgery that is at risk for peritoneal (abdominal connective tissue) infection from the contents of the gut. Normally the dose is 1 gms at 1, 2 and 5pm the day prior to surgery, and the average volume of distribution for most patients at this dose is about 10 to 15 liters (how much apparent volume to account for the concentration of a drug in plasma) If we assume that it is 16 liters, and that there are approximately 4 liter in a gal, then we have 250mg of erythromycin in a gallon of body fluids, but this is the level that is intended to kill as close to 100% of the gut's flora as possible in the short dosing time that we treat the patient. At normal doses, we treat a patient with 250 Mg every 6 to 8 hours for several days, as the drug is rapidly eliminated from the body. Either way you can do the math and see that even at low serum concentrations, erythromycin is a potent, wide spectrum antibiotic (meaning that it can kill a wide range of pathogens). Even at low doses in the aquarium it will reduce the numbers of nitrifying bacteria, and has little discrimination in which bacteria it kills (the mechanism is that erythromycin binds to certain subunits of the 50S level of bacterial ribosomes, thereby preventing essential protein systhesis in the ribosomes). It's minimun inhibitory concentration (MIC) is as low as 0.003 mcg/ml for some spp of bacteria. Even worse, for some human pathogens, the MIC is high enough not to be affected by the concentration in the aquarium, which leads to the development of mutational changes at the ribosomal level in these pathogenic bacteria, leading to RESISTANCE to erythromycin for those bacteria. To you, this may mean absolutely nothing, but to the medical community, it is the cause of the emerging resistance of many common pathogens that were once very susceptable to treatment with erythromycin. Indescriminate antibiotic use is one of the leading causes of the emergence of these resistances, and believe me, even physicians, I hate to say, are guilty of this. Think about this when you have to pay $80 to $100 for a 7 day treatment with antibiotics when it used to be that $8 of erythromycin used to fix most human infections...

    http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/f43/p ... -3413.html
     
  15. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    Hi all

    Another question: if this is cyano, which we all think it is, shouldn't it have a bad smell? I can't seem to smell anything strange. I also pulled off a piece of infected moss and I don't think it smelled strange. Just smelled like moss normally do. That typical damp forest smell.

    What sort of smell are we looking at for cyano?
     
  16. City bowl
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    City bowl Noob

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    It goes without saying you should be very careful with antibiotics, it's good you've done some research.
    If you cannot identify the algae then messing around with Ethromyacin is really not a good idea.
    You can normally find opposing views on the internet, I was just giving you my expierience with it,
    I don't get cyano often and you should find that water changes and manual removal go along way to getting rid of it.
    Have you tried cleaning it off the moss manually?
     
  17. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    Contradictory views on the net is exactly my problem and that is why I appreciate the experience shared on these forums. My current view is that EM is largely ineffective against fish disseases these days, and can only really be used to treat cayno. More than 50% of people who post on forums agree that EM was 100% effective against cyano. Those that still had problems after treating with EM were the ones not using the full recommended dosage of 200mg per 10 gallon.

    I also feel that it should not affect the biological filter. NH4 spikes reported after treating with EM is as a result of decomposing dead bacteria. Those people that were cleaning out the dead slime and doing 30% WC daily while treating with EM reported no major NH4 spikes.

    I have been particularly careful to never ever miss a WC or cleaning the substrate. I do 40% weekly WC. If this is indeed cyano, then I think it was brought on by low NO3 along with an increase in light intensity.

    Not possible. I tried. I can also remove the moss altogether...

    Judging by the looks of it I think it is cyano. It's green and slimy. Appeared out of nowhere. SAE and otocynclis are not interested in eating it. If it was regular green filamentous algae, then those fish would at least make an attempt. However, this algae is normally as a result of low CO2 compared to lights and nutrient dosing, which is a possibility.

    Regards
    Lauré
     
  18. City bowl
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    City bowl Noob

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    Have you tried washing the moss under a running tap?
     
  19. wearsbunnyslippers
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    there shouldnt be any smell normally... that damp forest musty smell is the cyano, thats what it smells like...

    are nitrifying bacteria in freshwater and saltwater the same (nitrosomonas, nitrospira) species? sometimes what goes for freshwater does not apply to marine and vice versa.
     
  20. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    Good point...

    I still maintain that the people that get NH4 spikes after EM dosing are the ones who don't clean out the dead bacteria and slime.

    Here's a thought: if I remove say half my biofilter media and keep it moist in another tank, will it survive? EM treatment is 5 days, so the bio media I can place in a filter bag and hang it in a tank with good water circulation. My cuttings tank is such a tank. It has a high bioload of guppies. Only concern is nitrifying bacteria like dark places and they would be in quite high light should I do that...
     

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