Interesting Concept

Discussion in 'Plant Problems' started by Laure, Jul 17, 2009.

  1. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    Hi all

    In our fight against algae I am sure we have all read many different theories and proposed action plans. I have come accross this very interesting article on a forum, unfortunately in Spanish. http://www.drpez.net/panel/showthread.php?t=154436

    Enter the link in google and then click on "translate" when google returns the results. The google translater is not perfect, but it works to a point where you get the general idea.

    In summary, this article proposes the "Method Of Controlled Imbalance". This means that one works towards a balance/imbalance in the aquarium that favours only one type of algae, namely GDA (green dust algae), which is easy to control and remove. There are some very interesting points. There is also a debate on another thread between the author and Tom Barr. http://www.drpez.net/panel/showthread.p ... ge=1&pp=25
    Once again, use google translator, although Tom posts in English.

    I came accross this in my research as I recently discovered some BBA and have been trying to kill it off. An interesting fact is that Tom states that BBA can be induced by an increase in PO4 and then not adjusting the resulting higher CO2 demand. Since I don't add PO4 (I use Dirk's Drops and he states it contains no PO4), the PO4 in my tank is as a result of feeding fish. I also do not inject CO2, so increasing the CO2 was never an option for me. So what I am thinking now is perhaps I should try to limit PO4 by running a PO4 absorbing resin in my filter, something like Seachem PhosGuard.

    Plants need some PO4, but not much. Excess PO4 will result in BBA and some other forms of algae too.

    Further to fighting algae, there are some interesting points around what they call "bio-indicators". For example, too little NO3 and H. Zosterifolia (stargrass) turns black. Too little Mg and Anubias Nana leaves go yellow. Too much Mg and Rotala Walichii dies. And so forth...

    Any thoughts? If anybody is prepared to take the time and read the article above and the debate with Tom Barr, I would appreciate it if you could post your comments in this thread.

    Regards
    Lauré
     
  2. philfarm
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    philfarm Algae harvester

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    Interesting bits of research laure, thanks 4 posting, will give it a look once i get back 2 a computer..
     
  3. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    Anybody else actually read this? ???

    I guess it wasn't that interesting...
     
  4. wearsbunnyslippers
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    wearsbunnyslippers Administrator Staff Member

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    hey laure, it was a lot to read :p

    but i found it extremely interesting, it just seems like to different points of view, EI might not be the best way to do things, but it is simple cost effective etc. it works.

    the bio indicators are also interesting, but for most people i do not think they will all apply, this guy was growing mono cultures and experimenting, if you add rotala walichii to your tank and it melts, you might think now it is excess Mg, but it could be loads of other things too, like low light, low CO2 etc. this guy and tom barr have way too much time and energy to spend on experimenting...

    i tried the refield ratio to get rid of cyano, and i had no other algae except cyano, so it kind of works, if i get it again, i am going straight to EM coz even though i was keeping it in check, it never went away totally, and every time i did something different or was lazy with the dosing the cyano would flair up again...

    i will be watching my setup more closely now for bio indicators, but i will still carry on with EI.
     
  5. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    Yes - a lot of reading! What I got out of it so far is a better way to try and fight different forms of algae. Many people just starting up a planted tank, like myself, do not have the skill and experience to deal with too many variables. So this method of stopping everything and slowly dosing one thing until you reach a certain outcome seems to make sense. At least one then knows what your particular aquarium requires. I agree that all tanks are different and have different requirements in terms of nutrient uptake. People have different combinations of plants in varying quantities and some like more of one thing and others less. It probably helps to know what each plant's basic requirements are and then choose accordingly. Then after a while the plant growth will determine a differrent requirement...
     
  6. wearsbunnyslippers
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    wearsbunnyslippers Administrator Staff Member

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    if you stop everything and only dose one thing at a time, how do you know that you arent going to cause other problems, with deficiencies, algae is very opportunistic and might grow when the plants arent doing well...

    i also dont want to be experimenting with my display tank...
     
  7. Pikkie
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    Pikkie Algae harvester

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    So what these people do is only dose KNO3 with high light and high CO2? Surely they need to dose some traces... It was a lot to read but what I found interesting was that one can control the amount of CO2 that the plants use via Phosphate dosing... That's pretty cool. I think if one have limited CO2 supply it will be a pretty good idea to keep phosphates limited... Like in PMDD :-\ What do you guys think?
     
  8. wearsbunnyslippers
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    wearsbunnyslippers Administrator Staff Member

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    i had green dust algae that went away after i started dosing phosphates...
     
  9. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    Probably the only way to limit PO4 is with Seachem PhosGuard in your filter. Or you can stop feeding the fish and use exclusively RO water... ::)

    It seems, based on what I've read, that even a densely planted tank requires only 1g PO4 per 2000L! Fish food usually provide more than enough, especially if keeping discus and feeding them well. Of course, you can increase dosage of KNO3, CO2, traces and light. That will also make PO4 the limiting factor. Tom Barr has been on about limiting factors forever and a day in his discussions.

    Issue is: light drives growth. Higher light = faster growth = higher demand for cellular building blocks (carbon). So you need more CO2, etc...

    Plants need PO4 to utilize CO2, so with a high light, CO2 injected tank you cannot eliminate PO4 altogether and expect good results. But you can limit the supply - Christian Rubilar and Tom Barr (EI method) both insist on 50% weekly WC.

    Think I may have to buy a bigger water preparation container... ;P

    @Pikkie: what they do is prescibe a protocol for dealing with different types of algae. However, the goal is not algae control, but dosing regime. Read on, you will see.

    In most of the protocols they do 50% WC, then only dose KNO3 at 1g per 200L every day until green spot algae (GSA) appear on the glass. GSA appear due to lack of PO4, or more correctly, imbalance between PO4 and NO3. By only dosing KNO3 every day you manually create this imbalance (excess NO3 compared to PO4). What you do then is count the total amount in grams of KNO3 you dosed during this period. That will be your tank's consumption amount and will consitute the weekly dose of KNO3. It is best to then divide this value in 3 equal parts to be dosed on alternate days, as per EI method. Then clean your glass of GSA, 50% WC, and start dosing the KNO3, traces, Ca and Mg.

    Now if you get GSA on the 2nd or 3rd day after starting this protocol, you can assume there is not enough PO4 in the tap water and the fish food combined. You will then need to dose PO4.

    It is a rather uncomplicated method. The argument is that each tank is different. People keep different combinations of fish, tap water in different areas have different chemicals, plants and planting density vary, fish feeding vary, etc. etc.

    Basically, you work out your particular tank's consumption point. Then you are able to calculate your dosing amounts. To do this you use a bio-indicator. In this case, a harmless algae like GSA, which can just be cleaned off the glass and once the imbalance is restored it won't return again.

    I was very interested in the bio-indicators. I want to write to Christian and ask if he can contribute a nice article on the subject.

    Regards
    Lauré
     
  10. wearsbunnyslippers
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    wearsbunnyslippers Administrator Staff Member

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    the 50% water change is like pushing the reset button on your tank, it is assuming that your tank would be using up most of the ferts your are dosing.

    i like Christians method of finding how much PO4 to dose, i am going to try this now in my new setup. with high light you definitely need to add PO4 to stop the gsa, and KNO3 helps for gda, so i will be interested in seeing what the ratio actually is between n and p. around 15 or 16 to one like redfield or if it is much less.

    it was a super interesting read, i hope more people take the time to read it.
     
  11. Pikkie
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    Pikkie Algae harvester

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    So what if you don't get GSA with 1g per day? You dose more KNO3 every day? Because with the 50% WC there can't be a buildup...
     
  12. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    @Pikkie

    I suppose you have a point there...

    However, it is known that an imbalance between NO3 and PO4 will cause GSA on the glass. According to Christian, this can be repeated. That is why they developed a protocol/method for inducing GSA. Tom Barr is another guy who swears by methods he can test repeatedly and reproduce the expected results.

    I am assuming that by adding 1g daily for a week and you don't get GSA, your plants consume more than what you add. So perhaps then do a 50% WC after the week and try 1.5g daily for the next week?
     
  13. wearsbunnyslippers
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    wearsbunnyslippers Administrator Staff Member

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    here is his thread on apc, very interesting read - thanks for pointing this out laure!
     
  14. wearsbunnyslippers
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    wearsbunnyslippers Administrator Staff Member

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    check his point here, it is super important:

     
  15. tyronegenade
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    To remove phosphate from the water column you need to raise the pH to 7 and dose 2 parts (mol) of calcium to every part of phosphate. For an acidic tank with soft water you need much more Ca2+ than phosphate. You can experiment by adding Calcium Nitrate to your tank instead of KNO3. It would be better adding the Ca(NO3)2 at night when you have switched your CO2 off (else you will get CaCO2 precipitating) and the pH is rising.

    A word of warning: Ca(NO3)2 is an acidic salt:
    Ca(NO3)2 + H2CO3 <=> CaCO3 (s) + 2HNO3
    Your water needs to be buffered pretty well, but that is the job of the clear bottle of the Bellstedt Fertilizer mix. You can use the dosing calculator here: http://aquatic-art.blogspot.com/2009/01 ... ncies.html

    Regards
     
  16. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    You don't get GSA in low light, so you can't use GSA as an indicator if your light is not strong enough. But strong enough is a vague statement. I think it just takes a bit of experimentation. I don't have 3WPG but I get GSA when nitrogen is out of balance. That is reason A.

    Reason B is that the aim is to grow plants optimally and we all know light drives the rate of growth. So also be prepared to have lots of maintenance when you do this. A fundamental part here is that dosing is fairly lean; you only dose what is consumed by the tank. So this method use dosing as the limiting factor as opposed EI where you also have high CO2, but with high dosing too and you use light as the limiting factor.
     
  17. Greystoke
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    Hi all,

    I finally managed to read the article (in English). My Spanish is not so hot, but I did manage to unscramble some of the "unfathomables" ;D.

    I think there's a lot to be said for this process. At least it gives you an idea of the fertz consumption (besides playing around with algae). I don't however see how you get around testing NO3 and PO4 levels regularly.
    I would try the gsa "test" just once, and - after that - simply maintain the Redfield ratio, but - strangely - Rubilar seems to think that RR is a falacious theory (wonder why?).

    My new 300L is about to start-up, and as my plants take-off in growth and numbers, I will seriously consider adopting this method.
     
  18. Laure
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    Laure Algae harvester

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    I agree. Ratios? Does not work.

    As a general rule, plants from asia and africa are priority consumers of phosphate, while plants from South America are priority consumers of nitrogen. So in a tank with mostly Asian plants, would the RR work? Think about it...

    Another respected plant guru also don't believe in ratios...Tom Barr. In a tank with beautiful red plants he has been dosing N:p in a ratio of 2:1.
     
  19. Greystoke
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    I respect your opinion, and I'm sure there are plants with specific needs, however . . .
    It could possibly be argued that the chemical environment in which the algae evolved millions of years ago, was less emancipated than the later environments in which the higher plants evolved.
    Today we see algae growing next to plants, but we also see plants growing in areas where there are no algae at all. Which means that there must be a condition of chemical balance in that environment that favours the plants but not the algae.
    Besides,
    what am I to do with these references ?
    • The role of nitrogen-phosphorus ratio in selecting for dominance of phytoplankton by cyanobacteria or green algae and its application to reservoir management.(by: A. P. Levich; Laboratory of General Ecology, Department of Zoology of Vertebrates and General Ecology, Biological Faculty, Moscow State University, 119899 Vorobyovy Gory, Moscow, Russia December 1994.)
    • The nitrogen : Phosphorus ratio as a factor regulating phytoplankton community structure : Nutrient ratios
      (by: BULGAKOV N. G. and LEVICH A. P. ; Moscow State University 1999.)
    • The Impact Of Nitrogen And Phosphorus Concentration And N/P Ratio On Cyanobacterial Dominance And N2 Fixation In Some Estonian Lakes
      (by:ILMAR TÕNNO; Institute of Zoology and Hydrobiology, University of Tartu, Estonia. 2004)

    They all support Redfield.
    Tom Barr couldn't give me an answer on that one either. So . . i'm confused.
     
  20. foo
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    foo Algae harvester

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    I really like this method, just a pity so much is lost in translation :(

    I decided to give this a shot specifically because I needed to determine the amount of KNO3 to dose in my tank. I started dosing 3.6 ppm KNO3 per day and right about at the end of week 1 I started getting GSA.

    Not sure if I'll use it for PO4, but might give it a shot a bit later.
     

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