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Is it possible to eliminate algae by sterilization

tiger15

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Algae has to start somewhere, via spores or baby algae hitchike with contaminated water, plants or fish. If I can sterilize water with algaecide and don’t introduce new contamination, is it possible to eliminate algae permanenty.
 

erwin123

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Algae has to start somewhere, via spores or baby algae hitchike with contaminated water, plants or fish. If I can sterilize water with algaecide and don’t introduce new contamination, is it possible to eliminate algae permanenty.
its easy to do an experiment, fill several test tubes with water from your tank, "sterilise" it with different brands of algaecide. leave the test tubes somewhere where they get a reasonable amount of heat (if in a cold climate), and monitor to see if algae appears in the test tube after a few weeks.
 

Hanuman

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Algae has to start somewhere, via spores or baby algae hitchike with contaminated water, plants or fish. If I can sterilize water with algaecide and don’t introduce new contamination, is it possible to eliminate algae permanenty.
Short answer is no. Not possible. Unless you are in a sterile lab environment with very strict protocols in place, it is virtually impossible. Algae spores and bacteria (like BGA) can be airborn, so you can clean, brush, burn and sterilize all you want but algae will come back eventually, and faster than you think.
 

tiger15

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its easy to do an experiment, fill several test tubes with water from your tank, "sterilise" it with different brands of algaecide. leave the test tubes somewhere where they get a reasonable amount of heat (if in a cold climate), and monitor to see if algae appears in the test tube after a few weeks.
Actually Donnie Wong had conducted an experiment comparing a bottle of tap water versus aquarium dosed tap water exposed to sunlight. As expected, contaminated tap water turned green quickly, but not pure tap water.

Short answer is no. Not possible. Unless you are in a sterile lab environment with very strict protocols in place, it is virtually impossible. Algae spores and bacteria (like BGA) can be airborn, so you can clean, brush, burn and sterilize all you want but algae will come back eventually, and faster than you think.
Yes, airborne algae spores such as BGA cannot be prevented, but water born algae theoretically can be. Note that algaecide cannot sterilize 100% algae species without also killing plants, BB and fish with some recalcitrant algae stick around. But if it can eliminate some stubborn algae such as bba or thread algae, it’s an accomplishment.
 
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Hanuman

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Actually Donnie Wong had conducted an experiment comparing a bottle of tap water versus aquarium dosed tap water exposed to sunlight. As expected, contaminated tap water turned green quickly, but not pure tap water.
Tap water is somewhat filtered and treated with chlorine and/or chloramine. Consequently, pathogen and spore load are reduced. I am pretty confident if he was to leave that little experiment run for over a month he would slowly see algae develop in the tap water bottle. In fact he could run the same experiment with some brand name water bottle (basically RO water) that the end result would be the same, assuming of course that bottle is uncapped. The rate at which algae develops would probably be slower due to the poor mineral content.
Yes, airborne algae spores such as BGA cannot be prevented, but water born algae theoretically can be. Note that algaecide cannot sterilize 100% algae species without also killing plants, BB and fish with some recalcitrant algae stick around. But if it can eliminate some stubborn algae such as bba or thread algae, it’s an accomplishment
BGA is a bacteria despite its name, but many algae spores are also airborn. Not being an algae expert I can't say which are airbone and which are not, but to me it is virtually impossible to eliminate even the only-waterborn algae spores because it would require an extreme level of sterility which cannot be carried out in our homes/tanks. Spores can survive extreme conditions and still be viable for future reproduction. My opinion on this is that going down the path of sterilization is in fact a bad approach because all these algae can be controlled without eradicating them if you are properly taking care of your tank. The idea of wanting to eradicate something usually finds its roots in the fact that we don't understand how things work and because we believe they are a thread to us. Not that algae are a threat, but certainly become an annoyance if we let them proliferate due to a lack of understanding.
 
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Simon Cole

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Note that algaecide cannot sterilize 100% algae species without also killing plants
Based upon the idea that they all share the same genetic ancestor. The thing is, we share many genes with lettuce, but that doesn’t make us part salad. You would need to convince me that all algaecides are non-selective.
Not being an algae expert I can't say which are airbone and which are not
Water droplets are airborne. A coconut is also airborne in a hurricane. I am guessing spore mass is a bit lighter that both, so perhaps around 30 ng.
 

seedoubleyou

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As already aluded to, no.
A Steriliser by virtue does what it was named to do. It sterilises the cells within the algae to stop them spreading, and to be most effective you’d require the right UV and flow rate.
A Steriliser is merely an additional tool in combatting nuisance algae, you need to be manually removing it too, and shifting things within your tanks parameters to give the plants the upper hand.
ie. Lighting schedule, co2, fertiliser, water changes, deadspots, flow, detritus build up etc…..
 

tiger15

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Based upon the idea that they all share the same genetic ancestor. The thing is, we share many genes with lettuce, but that doesn’t make us part salad. You would need to convince me that all algaecides are non-selective.

Water droplets are airborne. A coconut is also airborne in a hurricane. I am guessing spore mass is a bit lighter that both, so perhaps around 30 ng.
Humidity in indoor environment is in vapor form, not water droplets as in rainstorms, so it it not capable of transporting algae spores from one water body to another. Outdoor windstorm is different and can seed new water bodies with algae, plants, and even fish and crustaceous. This is why swimming pools and outdoor water fountains need to be chlorinated to prevent algae and bio growth.

Many algaecides are selective such as Glutaldehyde and API Agaefix. Glut is effective against BBA, but not Clado, green thread algae, green water, BGA, GSA and GDA. Agaefix is effective against Clado, green water, and green thread algae, but not BBA , GSA and GDA. Chlorine is broad spectrum that can kill all algaes but also fish and plants so it is off limit to aquarists.

If one can find a broad spectrum algaecide that is safe for fish and plants, shouldn't it be effective against all algaes. Note that biocides and algaecides must be applied periodically or else their effect will go away.
 

jaypeecee

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BGA is a bacteria despite its name, but many algae spores are also airborn. Not being an algae expert I can't say which are airbone and which are not, but to me it is virtually impossible to eliminate even the only-waterborn algae spores because it would require an extreme level of sterility which cannot be carried out in our homes/tanks.
Hi @Hanuman

Use of a UV-C sterilizer should kill any waterborne algae and cyanobacteria. No chemicals needed. I've used UV-C sterilization to good effect several times. Just need to ensure that the dwell time is optimized.

JPC
 

seedoubleyou

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In a word, no.
UV sterilisation will not eliminate algae. It sterilised the cells to prevent reproduction. You would be required to manually remove the algae also, or use other methods to help eradicate it.
 

tiger15

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In a word, no.
UV sterilisation will not eliminate algae. It sterilised the cells to prevent reproduction. You would be required to manually remove the algae also, or use other methods to help eradicate it.
When I said sterilization, I don’t mean by limiting it to UV alone but also chemical sterilization. UV can sterilize only free floating algae and spores, but not attached algae. If you can root out attached, free algae and spores by chemical and physically means, I don’t see why you cannot eradicate certain algae as algae don’t start spontaneously and must be seeded. That said, some algae spores are air born, hitchhiked with new plants, fish or tap water, or contaminated on glass lids and equipment waiting to be seeded. If you dose algaecide on regular basis and prophylactically, I don’t see why you cant eradicate certain algae, but never all algae. There is no broad spectrum algaecide that can eradicate all algae without also killing live stock and plants, for example, chlorination. Glutaraldehide is effective against BBA but not Clado, and AlgaeFix is effective against Clado but not BBA, and neither is effective against GSA. So the premise of eradicating all algae by sterilization is not possible, but eradicating some algae is possible.
 

FrankR

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What about Hydrogen Peroxide?
The saltwater lunatics dose their tanks with H2O2 or use oxydators to keep algae at bay.
 

JoshP12

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Based upon the idea that they all share the same genetic ancestor. The thing is, we share many genes with lettuce, but that doesn’t make us part salad. You would need to convince me that all algaecides are non-selective.
I ate my ancestor for dinner 😳.
Water droplets are airborne. A coconut is also airborne in a hurricane. I am guessing spore mass is a bit lighter that both, so perhaps around 30 ng.
Sheesh and we thought the lean dosing thread was comedic - that cracked me up … like the coconut 😂.
 

seedoubleyou

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What about Hydrogen Peroxide?
The saltwater lunatics dose their tanks with H2O2 or use oxydators to keep algae at bay.
Do they?
Edit: decided to Google it as I should of initially. I kept reed tanks and always dipped frags in H2O2 before going into the tank, to remove excess algae.
I never realised it could be dosed into the tank either.
I never had algae issues, other than a severe outbreak of bryopsis once. I killed that off with Flucanazole, and never had an algae issue ever again.
 
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seedoubleyou

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When I said sterilization, I don’t mean by limiting it to UV alone but also chemical sterilization. UV can sterilize only free floating algae and spores, but not attached algae. If you can root out attached, free algae and spores by chemical and physically means, I don’t see why you cannot eradicate certain algae as algae don’t start spontaneously and must be seeded. That said, some algae spores are air born, hitchhiked with new plants, fish or tap water, or contaminated on glass lids and equipment waiting to be seeded. If you dose algaecide on regular basis and prophylactically, I don’t see why you cant eradicate certain algae, but never all algae. There is no broad spectrum algaecide that can eradicate all algae without also killing live stock and plants, for example, chlorination. Glutaraldehide is effective against BBA but not Clado, and AlgaeFix is effective against Clado but not BBA, and neither is effective against GSA. So the premise of eradicating all algae by sterilization is not possible, but eradicating some algae is possible.
Ah my mistake. Do chemicals actually sterilise cells like Ultra Violet light does?
 

zozo

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I'm not a fan of any chemical treatments against whatever... I rather use elbow grease... But "The one-two punch tut at the planted tank.net"
Is about applying Glut and Peroxide in 2 short bursts over a short period. And it seems people that did it report it works very good against algae.

I never tried it... Use at your own risk...
 

Hanuman

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Yes both chemical and the method works just fine. I have used that method but there is something that one should do after such a treatment is do multiple WCs perhaps even three during the week because the amount of organics generated by such a treatment will most likely re-initiate a new algae outbreaks. The amount of WCs will depend on how much algae there is. Something to note with that method is that if you have, Valisneria, Rotala Ramosior 'Florida' or other Rotala in fact, Najas sp. Roraima etc etc that treatment will most likely kill the plants or at least strongly damage them, so removing those plants (if possible) prior the treatment is a must. I've been in that position so I know for a fact those plants do not like those treatments.
 
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zozo

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Most if not all truly aquatic plants will not take chemicals like glut and peroxide very well their tissue is too soft and gets damaged... Potamogeton sp. is also one of them.
 

tiger15

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I'm not a fan of any chemical treatments against whatever... I rather use elbow grease... But "The one-two punch tut at the planted tank.net"
Is about applying Glut and Peroxide in 2 short bursts over a short period. And it seems people that did it report it works very good against algae.

I never tried it... Use at your own risk...
I have been dosing Glut and spot treating with peroxide prophylactically for years. Based a toxicity data and personal experience, Glut has low toxicity that dosing as much as 5X as recommended by SeaChem will not harm life stock. I only spot spray with 3% peroxide on exposed plants and hard surfaces when I drain down the tank during weekly water change. I don't recommend dosing peroxide because it is hard to control the effective concentration as peroxide is volatile and light sensitive. That said, I am indirectly dosing peroxide when I refill the tank as sprayed peroxide will fall off, but unlikely to reach toxic levels to life stock.

I don't think there is anything wrong dosing chemicals prophylactically to aquatic garden as homeowners regularly dose herbicides to their lawn. Even though Tom Barr and Dennis Wong preach fixing the fundamentals to stop algae, they both recommend using algaecides as the last resort. Dennis is marketing his own brand of repackaged Glut and Barr has many discussions on various algaecides. I am sure Barr, Wong and many aquarists use algaecide more often than they admit.
 
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