Dusko's Algae Guide

Ray

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Thanks for your patience and your answers Clive - you make a good case and well argued. I will download the Tom Barr report and leave you in peace now ;) I still suspect the water change is a blunt instrument for combatting ammonia, but it may be the best we have. Most people do weekly changes which means an ammonia spike 1 day after water change will have 6 days to trigger alage before it is cleared by another change. Hmmm.
 

ceg4048

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Hi Ray,
That's why Barr suggests 2 or 3 water changes per week the first few months of a new tank and especially when using some enriched substrates like ADA AS. :idea: I've convinced myself that it works, and that it's the most effective combat tool.

I just went out last week and got about 5 liters of Fluval Zeo-Carb and chucked it in one of my filters. The jury is still out but the water seems a bit clearer at least. I'm still going to do my weekly changes though. There is only one thing in the world I hate more than water changes - and thats cleaning algae from a glass bathtub. :p

Hey James, thanks for that bit of clarification. I remember trying Scott's terrestrial fertilizer which contained urea and ammonium nitrate. It worked well as long as I had a huge biomass, dosed small amounts and kept up the water changes, but it was living on the razors edge and any other mistakes I made seemed to be exacerbated by using the product. I was under the impression that urea broke down into other components including ammonia, but if urea is not available to algae then that might explain things. I'm very interested in understanding the mechanism of how TPN+ binds the ammonium nitrate. Can't argue with Georges success using it. 8)

Cheers,
 

Ray

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ceg4048 said:
I just went out last week and got about 5 liters of Fluval Zeo-Carb and chucked it in one of my filters.
Oooo, keep us posted. Tell me, when the zeolite bonds with the ammonia is that in a form that can still be broken down by the filter bacteria? i.e. does the zeolite act as an ammonia capacitor aborbing ammonia spikes while allowing the filter bacteria to work at a constant rate?

EDIT

Found this link which seems to answer my question, (apparently Zeolite is popular with the reefkeeping crowd):

http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i3/ze ... ilters.htm

After a while, the Zeolite is exhausted and needs to be replaced. If the bacteria remove the ammonium from the minerals why doesn't the filter run forever? First of all, the bacterial films will slowly clog up the pores, thereby reducing the adsorbing capacity, secondly other ions will also be adsorbed onto the Zeolite. As the bacteria do not remove these ions (at least not preferentially), they will slowly become enriched and therefore reduce the number of places available for adsorbing ammonium.
How long will your Zeolite last Clive?
 

ceg4048

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Hi Ray,
Yes, the capacitor analogy is an excellent one. The ammonia is bound and after a while the bacteria can feed on the trapped ammonia. As your quote says though you get clogging and the zeolite should be replaced at the same interval as other biomedia (couple months or so - no freebies in life mate :arghh: ) However, Barr ssems to indicate that zeolite can be recharged by soaking it in brine. I'm still looking into this as I'm not sure what sort of concentration or duration is required to recharge, or whether it's indefinitely rechargeable.

Cheers,
 

Ed Seeley

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ceg4048 said:
Hi Ray,
Yes, the capacitor analogy is an excellent one. The ammonia is bound and after a while the bacteria can feed on the trapped ammonia. As your quote says though you get clogging and the zeolite should be replaced at the same interval as other biomedia (couple months or so - no freebies in life mate :arghh: ) However, Barr ssems to indicate that zeolite can be recharged by soaking it in brine. I'm still looking into this as I'm not sure what sort of concentration or duration is required to recharge, or whether it's indefinitely rechargeable.

Cheers,
Zeolite will dump ammonia if there are even small amounts of salt in the water. Koi keepers have used Zeolite for years to help with bursts of ammonia and have then fallen foul of it when adding salt to treat diseases!

So it's not that's it's recharged, like a water softening ion exchange resin, but the contents are dumped in the prescence of salt. When I've recharged it I've just left it overnight and I've only re0used the stuff about 5 times until it gets rather brown and then dumped it as it's so cheap to buy new stuff for the amounts I use.
 

ceg4048

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Thanks Ed! :D I bought brand name and it wasn't so cheap. Where do you get yours?

Cheers,
 

Ed Seeley

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I got a bag of it from my LFS years ago and as I only use it in Killifish fry tubs and similar I'm only just getting to the end of it! You might be able to pick up the stuff for koi ponds at very cheap prices, but that's usually large pieces. As it's just a natural rock though it would be too hard to break it up I suppose!
 

plantbrain

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As far as dosing NH4, thats a multifactorial thing.

Isolated, in a high light(one major massive factor), adding excess rates of NH4 will certainly induce algae repeatedly.

Try adding it it to a new tank also.

Now remove your filter and add it to the tank(this removes the filter bacteria, which as any aquarist knows.........oxidizes the NH4 to NO3.).

Then tell me what you see........

Add high light is you want to see fast responses also.

Are you simply adding some extra NH4 for the filter bacteria or are you really adding ferts for the plants?
The folks that have used NH4 in the past used very little and never much more than .4ppm or so and this amount fell rapidly to zero fast.

Why would it not?
The plants and sediment have lots of bacteria, so does the filter.

What about in a new aquarium? Say that first month?
Try dosing it there.

Also, try dosing NH4 and then shut off the CO2.

Don't just piece meal NH4 dosing and not add the various senarios that can obviously influence algae blooms.

Light is the first one, then CO2, and then the plant biomass fish load etc.

If you like to dose NH4, do so with fish.
We came to that conclusion many years ago after playing around with NH4Cl dosing, Jobes sticks and soil and shultz's violet food drops.

Anyways, NH4 is extremely toxic and dosing errors can cause far more issues with it than KNO3, which has massive range.

If you really think NH4 is so great, remove your filter and try dosing it for 4-8 weeks, then see.

Put your theory to the test and try and rule out the other factors.
It's not quite as simple and contradictory as many like to claim.


Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Ray

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Clive - how is your Zeolite coming along? Obviously since you only get hardscape algae anyway this will be hard to know. :D

Plantbrain - your point is well made that we should not underestimate the power of filter bacteria to reduce NH4 to NO3. What happens, particularly with regard to algae, if I cut down on the water changes in a high tech CO2 tank?

Thank you,

Ray
 

ceg4048

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Hi Ray,
Yes, it's a bit difficult to say. I think I have a little less GSA on the front glass, but the water is a bit clearer - that's probably because the Fluval product is a zeolite plus carbon so I reckon the increased clarity is due to the carbon. It also may be that I have a wider margin of error as I did have to change out my CO2 bottle last week and had to reset the injection rate. I had to play see-saw with the needle valve for a while but I saw only a very small appearance in hair down in the carpet. It could be that had I not used the zeolite I might have seen more. :rolleyes: Hard to say. I still do the water changes though so I would have to stop that in order to have a more accurate indication.

Cheers,
 

nry

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Ray said:
Plantbrain - your point is well made that we should not underestimate the power of filter bacteria to reduce NH4 to NO3. What happens, particularly with regard to algae, if I cut down on the water changes in a high tech CO2 tank?

Thank you,

Ray
You know he'll say try it yourself don't you?! :)
 

plantbrain

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You can easily cut down with water changes on a high tech high light CO2 tank and go no water changes for long time frames. You will need to balance things using test kits then and dose according to a set of parameters. PPS methods suggested this, but you need not use that, just the ferts, use the test kits correctly and consistently, that's not PPS, that's just maintaining residual levels of nutrients. Hardly PPS's proprietary "discovery". Folk's had been doing it and folks also suggested water changes to prevent any other errors and unknowns from causing issues as well.

When folks claim that they did it all and give no credit to folks that had done it and make no effort to see if someone else has already done the methods before hand, it's really a crappy way to promote your ego. That's my beef with it.

However, there's no reason it will not work, I've never claimed that water changes are 100% absolute, however, they are very useful and much easier than doing test for many parameters for 99% of the hobbyists. EI derived everything from PMDD, it just make a different assumption about PO4 and made larger water changes, took into account higher light/CO2 effects. Add common sense and manipulate things with a control. About all I did, they set the ground work up.

That can be done using test kits as well.

But folk's have different goals, some hate water changes and some hate test kits.
Actually, I've never met a single hobbyists that likes to test NO3 etc.

Have you?

Some hate both, but I can make water changes fast and simple/automate etc, I cannot for test kits.
So non CO2 methods work better there.

Still, Dusko's article works well.

If you want to ask the questions, you need to do the work yourself, do not expect other folks to do it.
they might do it wrong like Paul did, he never tested his theory about PO4 causing algae, neither did ADA, Dupla and the entire bunch.

You do not want to get caught with your pants down.
So you should check yourself.
Stop relying on others.
See if it makes sense to you.
Not me.

Remove the filter and swap in a powerhead instead.
Measure things closely over time. Freeze the samples daily at the same time(or 2-4x a day for the first 2 weeks etc)

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

ceg4048

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Hey Paulo,
That website fails the reality check within the first couple of paragraphs with statements like;
"...Cause:

Nutrient Imbalance – potentially excess N, P, Fe..."

As you yourself have demonstrated excess nutrients can never be the cause of algae. EI prooves this because we dose excess and the result is the disappearance of algae.


And also;

"...Cure:

Increase CO2 - This will stimulate plant growth, which should help the plants out-compete the algae for resources..."

While increased CO2 is the cure, the author's reasoning is faulty. Plants don't compete with algae for resources anymore than elephants compete with mice for resources. Each fills separate niches in the environmental food chain and each requires vastly different quantities of resources. This is why trying to starve algae fails as a policy. Algae require such vastly lower nutrient quantitites that if your were to starve them of nutrients the plants would have failed long before. In fact the only relevant demonstartion of competition is between algae and bacteria. Nitrifying bacteria remove huge quantities of NH4. If they didn't the fauna in our tanks would be in deep trouble. While healthy plants do remove some NH4 it is their relationship with bacteria that that enables the bacteria to out-compete the algae for this critical resource. Healthy plants provide the bacteria with increased oxygen and plants also convert the inorganic forms of nutrients like CO2, NO3 and PO4, and redistributes these nutrients in organic forms that the bacteria can digest such as sugars and proteins. Many people forget that bacteria need carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous too. Healthy plants provide an infrastructure upon which the bacteria colony can thrive and build. It is therefore the bacteria colony that do the competing with algae, not the plants. Poorly maintained filters, high organic waste, poor CO2 and poorly fed plants in the presence of high light conspire to ruin this infrastructure at which point algae then seize the opportunity for advancement.

Newly setup tanks lack this important bacterial infrastructure and that's why a tank is most vulerable to algal attacks during this period. This is also why high flow rates, proper distribution, water changes, proper CO2 levels and high nutrient availability are the keys to success in a planted tank. The contention that excess Fe or excess Si or excess N or P causes algae is absurd. Really, the only thing we need to worry about is excess NH4.

Cheers,
 

gratts

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I find it amazing that, having read this article, I took a Biology exam yesterday. The biggest exam board in the UK, and I had to write through gritted teeth that excess phosphates result in algae in aquatic environments.
That's all that's credited in mark schemes, absolutely zero mention of ammonia. Purely phosphates.

No wonder there's such misconception :rolleyes:
 

Fred Dulley

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gratts said:
I find it amazing that, having read this article, I took a Biology exam yesterday. The biggest exam board in the UK, and I had to write through gritted teeth that excess phosphates result in algae in aquatic environments.
That's all that's credited in mark schemes, absolutely zero mention of ammonia. Purely phosphates.

No wonder there's such misconception :rolleyes:

I had to do that aswell.
 

Dusko

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Hi all and BIG thanks to London Dragon for inviting me to this forum.
I am glad to see Tom Barr and George Farmer around UKAPS.org forum :D

This thread will definitely move my lazy butt into re-editing this Algae ID article of mine which I didn't revise in a long time.
First of all this article was written by a person which has English as his second language so some things might sound very strange I believe ;)

Some of you might know me from Aqua Hobby (as a part of the AoA Mod Team), some from Barrreport.com and some even from PFK.

Err... Yes except there are some fundamental flaws which should be noted, primarily because the author bases his/her explanations on the premise that somehow nutrients are a root cause of algae, which I believe is preposterous.
Just for future reference I am a bloke so his will do :lol:
No I never stated (at lest that wasn't what I meant) that nutrients are the cause of algae but instead the unbalanced nutrient levels are (e.g. high PO4 but very low NO3, or fluctuating CO2 levels, low O2, etc...).
This article was originally written for Aqua Hobby beginner members which kept repeating that NO3 and PO4 are causing algae + for easy Algae ID-ing.

"...Fast growing stem plants are very famous for keeping algae at bay for their ability to uptake nutrient in no-time. .."
You see most newbies plant one Anubias and one Java Fern and call it a planted aquarium. They ask do they need ferts and others advise them to start dosing NPK+traces. Dosing methods are generally suggested for heavily planted tanks and overdosing might cause the system to become eutrophic again which might cause acidification of the system even this depending on tap water used (low GH/KH).
In this case I find it necessary to stress about using fast growing plants until the newbie gets the "green thumb feeling".

This article was not written for professionals like you, but beginners (of course everybody can feel free to read it, comment, critique, etc...).

Dusko wrote;
"...It is very important performing 50% water change per week. This way we limit nutrient build-up..."
ceg4048 wrote;
Nope, the real reason we do water changes is to limit ammonia build up.
I do 50% weekly WC in hi-tech tanks to prevent them from becoming eutrophic and not to remove NH4 (what NH4?).
How can I have NH4 issues if I maintain my aquarium properly;
Not overstocking, not overfeeding, plants pruned regularly, keeping filters clean, moderate surface agitation for good gas exchange (good Oxygen levels) and sufficient water circulation (good nutrient transport), light gravel vacuuming, good CO2 levels, EI dosing, good buffering capacity, using soil/clay substrate which has good nutrient (NH4) binding capacity and preparing the soils before flooding the tank (dry start method by Tom Barr).

Lots of people stress about CO2, NPK, traces but not many mention one which is as important, O2.
Stating that NH4 caused algae is (for me) the same as stating that it started raining because of the clouds.
Where did those clouds come from? Something sure did bring them to life ;)

It is not the NH4 that caused the algae (sure it was) but "the reason causing the NH4 to spike". And water changes will not remove this reason which caused NH4 to spike.
We know that Nitrosomonas bacteria is involved in NH4 oxidation into NO3 (but first into NO2 by Nitrospira). This bacteria is aerobic and needs good O2 levels to be able to consume NH4.
If NH4 becomes an issue that means that:
- O2 levels decreased! Why?
Summer time causing higher temperatures, clogged filters decreasing circulation, overgrown plants, insuficiente surface agitation, etc...
- enough O2, good surface agitation, clean filters but still NH4 spiked! What now?
Very likely clogged substrate, one gets tired of performing light gravel vacuuming, or not enough shredders like shrimps, snails, which caused organic build-up clogging the substrate's Oxidising Microzone which if kept clean of mulm keeps nutrients locked in the substrate and oxidizes NH4 into NO3. Once clogged, aerobic bacteria will be reduced causing dead spots in the substrate from which nutrients can leak back into the water column (e.g. algae on Glosso).
Don't get me wrong, mulm is good when in the substrate, but not when it clog the entire surface of the substrate, and therefor it is essential to perform light substrate vacuuming at least once a month, IME.

"...Liquid iron will, if over dosed, favour Hair algae..."
There must be a difference between low Fe levels and high Fe levels, if not then it is same dosing 5ppm of CO2 and 30ppm of CO2. I mean the CO2 is present right, even if it is only 5ppm?!
Hair algae usually strike in the newly started systems because of the unsettled substrate (all nutrients simply float around the water column making them available to Algae and Plants - FeOOH which is used up through Siderophores).
Once the substrate develop aerobic and anaerobic zones, and starts to accumulate mulm things get better.

Dusko wrote;
"...The best fertilizing method so far is the Estimative Index method (by Tom Barr), where nutrients are dosed every 2-3 days instead of adding all nutrients at once giving algae chance to scavenge..."
You don't agree with this? Why? Are you suggesting that it is possible to dose yearly or monthly amount of ferts at once? That would be cool to be honest. I am a low maintenance kind of guy :) and this would suit my life style BIG TIME!
As stated above this article was meant to help newbies, so they don't go crazy on fertilising.

Imagine a newbie getting algae and starting to dose every day the weekly recommended dose in a medium light Excel/Easy Carbo tank just to get rid of the algae that maybe appeared simply because he/she had no surface agitation at all and a weak circulation pump :? ;)

There are some good things in that article of mine worth reading (for newbies especially) and I have a slight feeling you went hunting for mistakes only :D
But I do respect you for all the critiques though, thanks to them I will take some time and update that blog (I have a very busy schedule but will do my best).
NOTE! I am no scientist just a simple hobbyist with lots of enthusiasm and with a will to help others. Sure I am not perfect.

Nice to be around here and once again thanks to London Dragon for the invite.

Kind regards, Dusko
 
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