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Should I remove my reflectors?

Joined
10 Jan 2017
Messages
80
Location
United Kingdom
Tank: Juwel Rio 125
Lighting: 2x 28 watt T5 Juwel HiLite tubes (one is "Day", the other is "Colour")
Fert Dosage: I was dosing 5ml of TNC Complete everyday, but since noticing algae I have reduced this to 5ml every other day.
Substrate: Tropica soil
CO2 injection: Yes
Filtration: Internal Juwel Filter + external Eheim 2217.

Hi everyone,

On my 125 litre Juwel Rio I have been using 2x 28 watt T5 lighting in addition to reflectors. I was wondering if this is excessive? Lately I've been noticing BBA algae on the hardscape (and dare I say it, some is starting to form on the plants I think). Should I remove the reflectors? I've also noticed some new growth on my Alternanthera reineckii is curling and I wasn't sure if it was related. I was dosing 5ml of TNC Complete everyday (for reference, the weekly dose for a tank my size is roughly 12ml). Since the onset of the BBA, I have reduced this to every other day (my thinking that excess nutrients may have been the culprit). I may be totally wrong, however. Attached are some pictures for reference. I have read that BBA is nothing to do with nutrients, but instead low CO2. However my dropchecker is a dark green by lights on and by the time the co2 switches off (an hour before the lights), it is lime green. I am, however, running about 4 bps which I think is a lot on a 125 litre tank. The reason I am hesitant to remove the reflectors is because I only see pearling when they are attached.

Thank you.
Full tank shot.jpg
Full tank (this is with reflectors removed), then full tank with reflectors
Full Tank With Relfectors.jpg

BBA.jpg

BBA
Curling Leaves.jpg
New growth looks curled. Nutrient deficiency?
Yellowing leaves.jpg

Yellowing leaves. Nitrogen deficiency?
 
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ceg4048

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I was wondering if this is excessive?
Yes, this is excessive, at least until the plants are stronger and/or are receiving the appropriate amount of CO2.
Lately I've been noticing BBA algae on the hardscape (and dare I say it, some is starting to form on the plants I think).
BBA is caused by poor CO2 relative to the amount of light.
Should I remove the reflectors?
It would serve better to remove one bulb for now.
I've also noticed some new growth on my Alternanthera reineckii is curling and I wasn't sure if it was related.
Yes, deformation and any other structural fault in plants is caused by poor CO2.
I was dosing 5ml of TNC Complete everyday (for reference, the weekly dose for a tank my size is roughly 12ml). Since the onset of the BBA, I have reduced this to every other day (my thinking that excess nutrients may have been the culprit).
Excess nutrients are not responsible for algal blooms. Lack of nutrients and lack of CO2 causes algal blooms.
I may be totally wrong, however.
Correct.
Attached are some pictures for reference. I have read that BBA is nothing to do with nutrients, but instead low CO2.
Correct.
However my dropchecker is a dark green by lights on and by the time the co2 switches off (an hour before the lights), it is lime green.
DC should be lime green by lights on.
I am, however, running about 4 bps which I think is a lot on a 125 litre tank.
Poor CO2 has many causes, such as too late turning the gas on or poor distribution. You definitely have the first and may have the second. This issue is exacerbated by too much light. If there were only a single bulb lighting the tank the symptoms may never have been seen.
I am hesitant to remove the reflectors is because I only see pearling when they are attached.
Pearling means nothing within this context and is a flawed metric to use when judging the health of a tank, as demonstrated by the BBA.

Cheers,
 

Harvoification

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Thanks Clive. I have removed the reflectors. I don't think the Juwel t5 lighting unit works with only one bulb. Regarding fertilisation, would you recommend going back to dosing 5ml of TNC Complete a day, or continue with 5ml every other day? Right now I don't have time to mix my own ferts. The problem im facing is that TNC Complete contains nitrate, however my tap water is already 40ppm nitrate so I'm thinking it may be excessive and I could get away with dosing TNC Lite (which doesn't contain nitrate or phosphate). I believe it has been stated that if you want to dose to EI levels with TNC it is 3x the recommended dose per week, so in my case it would be 36ml of TNC Complete per week.

Regarding CO2 dissolution, it's likely not ideal but I'm making do. The diffuser is to the right of the tank, some of the co2 rises into the intake of the internal filter which I'm using as a pseudo in-tank reactor, and those that remain are blown across the tank by the outlet (and the spraybar of my external filter). There are a few that rise to the surface but I'd say most get blown around the tank or sucked into the internal filter. Gas comes on two hours before lights-on.

Could strong flow also be contributing to the BBA? I've read it can be a factor, and it does seem to appear in high flow areas of the tank.
 
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ceg4048

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Thanks Clive. I have removed the reflectors. I don't think the Juwel t5 lighting unit works with only one bulb. Regarding fertilisation, would you recommend going back to dosing 5ml of TNC Complete a day, or continue with 5ml every other day? Right now I don't have time to mix my own ferts. The problem im facing is that TNC Complete contains nitrate, however my tap water is already 40ppm nitrate so I'm thinking it may be excessive and I could get away with dosing TNC Lite (which doesn't contain nitrate or phosphate). Regarding CO2 dissolution, it's likely not ideal but I'm making do. The diffuser is to the right of the tank, some of the co2 rises into the intake of the internal filter which I'm using as a pseudo in-tank reactor, and those that remain are blown across the tank by the outlet (and the spraybar of my external filter). There are a few that rise to the surface but I'd say most get blown around the tank or sucked into the internal filter.

Could strong flow also be contributing to the BBA? I've read it can be a factor, and it does seem to appear in high flow areas of the tank.
If the unit is inoperative with a single bulb then it may be necessary to find some other way to obfuscate the light so that less energy penetrates the water. This can be accomplished by using a darkened Perspex strip or other obstacle.
The problem with BBA is that it is probably the most tenacious and once triggered it does not go away willingly, even after fixing the problem. It will therefore be difficult even to assess whether reflector removal alone has actually solved the root cause. You could use the new growth of the Althernanthera as an indicator however. If a new leaf grows normally then this is a good sign. Best to remove the distorted leaf as it will never straighten out.

Getting those plants healthy and eliminating the BBA may require the use of Excel (or equivalent). The dosage should be enough to turn the black tufts pink/purple within a few days. This may be bottle recommended dosage or some higher multiple. If the changes you make to the timing of the gas and the light reduction are successful then after the addition of Excel and removal of all tufts, new tufts should not re-appear. If they do then you have not solved the root cause and must try again. Obviously, all affected leaves must be immediately removed as they will never recover and only add to the problem.

No one really knows how much phosphate or nitrate makes it to their tap, however, if you do not see Nitrogen stress, such as pale leaves then continue with the reduced dosage and don't worry about it.

Flow that is too strong can cause BBA, but this possibility is much lower down the totem pole. Too much light is at the top of the pole.

Cheers,
 

Harvoification

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Thanks Clive. I have been using glutaraldehyde here and there at half doses. I am being cautious as I've heard mixed reports about it killing shrimp and I have amanos in the tank. I have noticed anecdotally that they are less active on days I dose, and tend to hide. However this may not have a causative relationship. I'm doing a water change tomorrow and was thinking of scraping all the BBA with a toothbrush. Does this pose a risk of flushing spores all over the tank?
 

oreo57

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Thanks Clive. I have been using glutaraldehyde here and there at half doses. I am being cautious as I've heard mixed reports about it killing shrimp and I have amanos in the tank. I have noticed anecdotally that they are less active on days I dose, and tend to hide. However this may not have a causative relationship. I'm doing a water change tomorrow and was thinking of scraping all the BBA with a toothbrush. Does this pose a risk of flushing spores all over the tank?

Yes LOTS of mixed reports..
 

ceg4048

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Thanks Clive. I have been using glutaraldehyde here and there at half doses. I am being cautious as I've heard mixed reports about it killing shrimp and I have amanos in the tank. I have noticed anecdotally that they are less active on days I dose, and tend to hide. However this may not have a causative relationship. I'm doing a water change tomorrow and was thinking of scraping all the BBA with a toothbrush. Does this pose a risk of flushing spores all over the tank?
It would be ideal if you could temporarily re-house the shrimp if there are uncertainties. Glutaraldehyde has various toxicity depending on the species involved. Some plants don't like it either, while others do really well. The problem with using it properly in this scenario is that you cannot use it just here and there. It has to be a daily sustained carpet bombing campaign until the tufts turn pink. Only then will you be assured the campaign was successful. So if there is any doubt about the ability of the flora/fauna to resist the onslaught then either re-house or use a different tactic.

Prior to the advent of Excel ridding the tank of the tufts involved a LOT of water changes in unison with relentless mechanical removal. We really had to kick BBA in the groin in order to evict it from the tank.

Regarding the toothbrush, if used with a net to catch the pieces that would be better. If you can pull the hardscape pieces or equipment pieces from the tank and scrape it (bleach it, peroxide it, or Excel it) clean that would be even better. BBA war is Hell mate. Never you doubt.

Cheers,
 

Gorillastomp

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This is a personnal experience with excel and amano shrimp. I did in the past a 10x recommended dosage for 3 days straight. None of my shrimps died but i was doing 60% WC every day prior the dosage.

I have heard nightmare stories as well.

So i am not sure excel isnt safe for shrimp since for me it was. It can be a reaction with excel and something else.

If you can pull out your affected hardscape of the tank, i would do that to brush it with a metal brush and rince it clean.
 

Harvoification

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So I have removed reflectors as Clive reccomended. Drop checker is now lime green at lights on (although I'm about to run out of co2 and won't be able to get any for a couple of days. That should be fun.

BBA has started to spread to some of the plants. I have started carpet bombing the most afflicted parts of the hardscape with a 1ml syringe today. We will see how well it works. If shrimp tolerate it well I will increase to 2ml.

My plants aren't fairing well, however. My Alternanthera reineckii leaves are starting to look transparant, and others have black patches. I have no idea what causes it. It's frustrating, as for about a month I was getting explosive growth and healthy looking plants with reflectors and 5ml TNC complete per day. Then the BBA appeared, and leaves started to curl. Now plants are suffering. I'm at a loss.
 

ceg4048

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Drop checker is now lime green at lights on (although I'm about to run out of co2 and won't be able to get any for a couple of days. That should be fun.
When CO2 is exhausted and when it cannot be replenished immediately then simply turn the lights off and keep them off until CO2 becomes available again. That part is easy. It's when your lights are on that the problem is at it's most severe.
BBA has started to spread to some of the plants. I have started carpet bombing the most afflicted parts of the hardscape with a 1ml syringe today.
Well, yes, this is simply the result of a geometric rate of reproduction. That's why you need to fight back by harassing the algae and by finding a way to block some of the light. Nothing good ever happens in a tank quickly. The problem may also be flow/distribution related, so maybe look at your filter outlet orientation. In your photo I can see a centrally placed spraybar, which is good. I also see an object on the left and another outlet on the right which seems to be pointed to the left, which is less than ideal. In the early stages, when the plant mass is lower we can get away with a lot, but as the plant mass increases and as the demand for CO2 increases our margin of error decreases rapidly.

Is your filter stuffed with media? If so you can greatly reduce the amount or long term, even replace fancy overpriced biomedia with simple foam. This will improve your flow, which will help. Is it possible to place your diffuser near a filter inlet? This will also help to distribute better.

As I mentioned in a previous post, even if you fix the problem the BBA won't simply go away, so you could try spot dosing. You can also trim the stems and let them float. Black spots and transparent leaves are caused by poor CO2, so this is all the same problem.

Cheers,
 

Harvoification

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Hi Clive,

Thankfully I've managed to refill my CO2 today after work... overpriced JBL nonsense. 20 quid for 500g refill! Trouble is I don't think my JBL reg will work with a FE so they've got me there. I have been spot dosing with excel, which seems to slowly be turning the dosed patches red which, in turn, is eaten by my otos and shrimp. My plan is to drain half the water at the weekend, and dip a paintbrush in excel, and "paint" the affected areas of the large rock to the left. The smaller rocks deeper in the tank I will continue to dose using a syringe.

Regarding flow, on the right is the internal Juwel filter. The diffuser is placed under the inlet, and a lot of the co2 bubbles get sucked in - it's basically a bootleg internal reactor. Bubbles that don't get sucked in get blown around the tank through a combination of the Juwel outlet, which blows CO2 to the left, and the spraybar of my external filter (which is what I'm actually using as my filtration), which blows CO2 toward the bottom of the tank as it hits the front glass. On the far left is a surface skimmer, which is also blowing co2 to the front of the glass at the far left of the tank.
 

Harvoification

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Since I've put the regulator on a new bottle, I can't seem to keep a stable bubble count - I'll set it for what I want then half hour later its slowed by a considerable amount. Is there any way to remedy this?
 

John q

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When you first attach a new bottle or when the c02 switches on there's no pressure in the line, once the pressure in the line equalises with the regulator it should remain stable. That's when you set it.
 

Harvoification

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It's been happening on and off for hours, though? Surely it shouldnt take that long? I guess I'm just frustrated. When I first started everything was going so well. As you can see from the early tank shot, the Alternanthera reineckii and Alternanthera reineckii mini have doubled in size (Couldn't even see the Alternanthera reineckii behind the right stone at the start). The stem plants grew out of control. But now, everything is looks unhealthy and has started to die back. The green plants to the back right and back (I don't know the name) had broad, deep green leaves and now they are narrow and almost look yellow. The Frodo stone that used to look stunning has turned almost brown and looks unslightly, and scrubbing it doesn't to much.

Here's about three weeks after the rescape:
IMG_20210913_192702.jpg


Here's a week ago:

Full Tank With Relfectors.jpg


Now I'm getting next to no new growth, and the growth I do get looks unhealthy. Could the rear T5 be hampering my efforts? I replaced it from a Juwel HiLite Day to a Juwel HiLite Colour which has 1300 Lumen and this spectrum:

Screenshot 2021-10-14 at 22.11.50.png
 
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