What exactly causes BBA? Part 2 - Bacterial imbalance

Lindy

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I probably can't achieve bacterial balance due to my ph being 5.5 but as long as my fish are happy I find I don't stress too much about it. It did get a lot worse with our prolonged moving saga where water changes were sparse but hey ho
 

zozo

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I'm a "properly established planted tank" fan as well, and I'm sure a lot of the reasons why long-established planted tanks don't tend to have algal "outbreaks" is microbiological stability.
I like this nutshell very much and how it explains certain aspects of how plants get around.. This is not typicaly aimed towards aquatics, but i'm sure they ain't so different, after all 95% aint tru aquatic what we grow.
http://www2.estrellamountain.edu/faculty/farabee/Biobk/BioBookPLANTHORM.html

Scroll down to the part
Mycorrhizae, bacteria, and minerals
Many plants have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria growing in their roots
There probably is much more to it then he explaines here.. Yet not found any data online going much deeper into the subject than this.. But it's very intresting. :)
 

BruceF

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Darrel
I am not against keeping an aquariun clean but his claims seem to lack any real correlation.

"Algae blooms or infusoria explosions are usually the result of excess phosphates in an aquatic system."
 

zozo

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Darrel
I am not against keeping an aquariun clean but his claims seem to lack any real correlation.

"Algae blooms or infusoria explosions are usually the result of excess phosphates in an aquatic system."
There are articles enough to find with people claiming contrary, having a high phosphate but still no BBA.. :) IMHO there is much more to it then meets the eye or drop test. If you measure an excess of something while having algae it is very easy to get to the assumption that this should be the cause. Might be, could be, but what's the cause if it all doesn't fit anymore.. Was it the high phosphate? Or was it high phosphate and something else triggering it? Where the phosphate just plays a minor role as excelerator in the algae growth?

It probably isn't even about keeping your tank clean.. A friend of mine and i refuse to call him an aquarium hobbyist because if you ask me he's far from it he's a bungler with a transparent bucket of water with green glass all the time, throwing food in the tank like the mayor throws candies around during the anual parade.. Constantly plants melting and occasionaly fish dying. But i'm realy impressed to see he never has BBA in his bucket. ;) Sometimes i feel like asking him how he does that. :lol: He has a Labeo Bicolor already for years the only fish which survived it all. Actualy it is sad but what can i do, he likes it that way and thinks i'm a nagging nerd when i start ranting about it.. :nurse:
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Darrel, I am not against keeping an aquariun clean but his claims seem to lack any real correlation.
I agree, I'm not a very "house-proud" aquarist. I don't do any substrate cleaning, but I have tanks with Asellus and snails, which degrade larger bits of organic waste (dead leaves etc).

This was from a thread about Whip-tails
....... "Bright and clean" actually worries me a lot, slightly fuzzy and tannin stained might be better for long term survival, for any of these types of fish. I like some dead leaves and biofilm in the tank. One advantage of some tannins in the water is that they will complex any heavy metals in the water, which could be an issue in soft water. The late Bob Marklew (macvsog23 in the linked post), a fantastic Loricariid keeper & breeder, was successful with fish like <"Lamontichthys llanero">, I'm sure part of the reason was that he kept mulmy tanks, but with very clean water and high levels of oxygenation......
"Algae blooms or infusoria explosions are usually the result of excess phosphates in an aquatic system."
Certainly true of blooms of the "Green Algae", and Cyanobacteria. In natural situations, PO4--- and NO3- are the twin markers of eutrophication.

As well as amounts of algae what is important is the assemblage of species. <"Diatoms assemblages are used a lot in biotic indices">, mainly because they have persistent silica skeleton (frustule), which mean that you can compare the living assemblage of diatoms with the assemblage of frustules from the sediment.

Also have a look at <"Nutrients and Eutrophication">.

cheers Darrel
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I'm not sure it is BBA anymore?
Definitely is, but still not quite in "Gorilla fake fur" territory.

Do you know the TDS of the tank Lindy? I know it is low pH, and I wonder if it has low TDS as well?

I have a small amount of BBS, on filter sponges etc. in some of the tanks. I haven't measured the PO4---, but the TDS is ~100ppm or less, so there isn't a lot of any nutrient present.

My suspicion would be that your BBS will start declining of its own accord fairly soon.

cheers Darrel
 
Last edited:

zozo

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but I have tanks with Asellus
That's actualy intresting.. :) Did you catch them? Can't imagine they are in the trade somewhere.. Recently i had a stray Asselus ending up in the tank, i don't believe it was a aquatic sp. it was dead and a shrimp was feesting on it.. :)
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Tds is 120.
Ok, so I think we would be safe in saying that there aren't a huge amount of nutrients of any description.
Did you catch them? Can't imagine they are in the trade somewhere
I got them out of a pond, but you can <"buy them for scientific purposes">, because they use them as bio-assay organisms in water testing.

Where I've sent <"Riccia or moss"> to people they have often found Asellus in their tanks afterwards, presumably due to juvenile hitch-hikers hiding in the moss.

They are basically really tough shrimps, but with less good PR. Most fish ignore them, but cichlids etc will eat them.

cheers Darrel
 

zozo

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Thanks Darrel :) I'll ask the local water laboratory, they might kow an address or probably have some themselfs.. Maybe i find them after the summer in my own garden in teh wine barrel.. :) If i ever get my hands on them i definitely introduce them to the tanks.. :thumbup:
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I'll ask the local water laboratory, they might kow an address or probably have some themselfs..
If you can't find any PM and I'll try sending some. I haven't had a very good record with sending the larger individuals, but small ones in damp moss looks a viable method.

cheers Darrel
 

zozo

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Hi all,If you can't find any PM and I'll try sending some. I haven't had a very good record with sending the larger individuals, but small ones in damp moss looks a viable method.

cheers Darrel
Thanks for the offer.. :) I'll certainly do that if i can't find them locally.. :)
 

Soilwork

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Can't believe email hadn't notified me of more posts on this subject.

Going back to a hypothesis I presented on page 20 and keeping along the theme of microbiological stability keeping algae at bay I was just wondering. This may be a silly question though so go easy.

If I am injecting enough co2 to deplete my carbonate buffer and force ph to fall, does that mean our microbes can no longer draw on alkalinity to aid in nitrification and ultimately stop them from reproducing?
 

AndyMcD

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Hi Soilwork,

This paper discusses large scale shrimp production and what needs to be added to ensure that the system remains in balance. This includes a section on autotrophic bacteria.

The paper provides chemical equations for Nitrification by autotrophic bacteria, which consumes HCO3:

CarbonateRelationship.jpe


The point is made that unless alkalinity is added to the system, the pH will drop:

"Using this stoichiometric relationship (Eq. (14)), for every g of ammonia–nitrogen converted to nitrate–nitrogen, 4.18 g of dissolved oxygen, and 7.05 g of alkalinity (1.69 g inorganic carbon) are consumed and 0.20 g of microbial biomass (0.105 g organic carbon) and 5.85 g of CO2, (1.59 g inorganic carbon) are produced"

Also:

"4.3 Autotrophic bacteria — impact on water quality
In the autotrophic nitrification process as opposed to heterotrophic processes ... Also there is a significant amount of alkalinity consumed (7.05 g (as CaCO3)/g N) and high levels of carbon dioxide produced (5.85 g CO2/g TAN). For water with low initial alkalinity this can be a significant problem, requiring the addition of alkalinity, in the form of sodium bicarbonate, lime, sodium hydroxide, to maintain an adequate concentration (100 to 150 mg/L as CaCO3), especially for systems with limited water exchange. If alkalinity consumption is not compensated for by supplementation, the system pH will drop. Lowering pH will result in an inorganic carbon species shift from bicarbonate to dissolved carbon dioxide, and this increase in dissolved carbon dioxide could affect some aquaculture species..."

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004484860600216X

Building on the point you have made, this suggests that if the autotrophic bacteria consume the available HCO3, the pH can drop, which may inhibit growth of autotrophic bacteria at low pH.
 

Soilwork

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Great stuff AndyD.

so we know that low ph directly disrupts our familiar species of nitrifying bacteria. Whether this includes heterotrophs as well remains to be seen. You have provided good info on the requirements of bacteria with regards to alkalinity also. This was never in question but relevant nonetheless. I have read many times that bacteria use 7.14ppm of alkalinity per 1ppm ammonia converted to nitrate. Darrel might have more information on this as I believe this statement came from a wastewater treatment page.

My question is:

At the moment that ph begins to fall do bacteria no longer have access to it in order to carry out nitrification?

If the answer is no then in would seem that co2 injected tanks where a 1 point ph drop is the goal are pretty hostile towards beneficial bacteria. Not only in some cases does ph drop less than their desirable range, the no longer have alkalinity to draw on. This would mean that the main function of ammonia uptake in a heavily planted co2 injected tank where all other parameters are sufficient is by the plants. Are we ok with this?

I mean if one can ensure that conditions remain favourable to the plants despite increasing plant mass etc then algae should not have a say in the matter if we believe Ammonia is the algae trigger. Why would ammonia (very harmful to living organisms) not be the trigger?

In a tank that is so precariously balanced such as the one described above, any simple change that may slow the plants ability to uptake nutrients (including ammonia) would lead to a temporary excess. Lowering lighting, reducing co2, altering flow pattern, shortage of nutrients, heaving trimming etc would ultimately lead to a reduced ammonia uptake efficiency. With a small bacterial colony now in equilibrium with plant uptake rate any sudden ammonia accumulate would overwhelm these also. How else could nature ensure ammonia does not destroy the system? It needs something that can grow almost instantly as if by magic that draws on this toxic element....algae. It makes sense to me that ammonia is the trigger. The type of algae then may depend on the ammount of ammonia and other nutrient ratios within the system. Low PO4, Low NO3, low co2, low o2, etc

If we could grow plants whilst also favouring our bacterial colonies would this help to reduce the likelihood of a sudden algae bloom? Perhaps small tinkerings that result in slow steady rate ammonia rise are easily dealt with but larger rapid accumulations are not.

Also is it the way in they ammonia is produced that is the key. Decaying organic matter as opposed to ammonium chloride for example.

This may not be the most elaborate test ever conducted but a couple of months back I tore down my 19 litre walstad tank because it was a disaster. I flung it in the back yard with the soil still in the bottom. Eventually the rain filled it and I began waiting and wondering what lifeforms would appear. After about 4 weeks there was nothing but soil, rainwater and a large dead leaf in there. The water was crystal clear. I would imagine that some form of bacteria would have been eating away at the leaf and creating some kind of nitrogen cycle? Anyway, this is where the experiment gets complicated. My girlfriend was using the bathroom and I needed to pee. I went out in to the backyard as I was desperate and started peeing. I saw the tank and decided to pee in to it. About half a pint. Two days later I came out to put the rubbish out and the tank was full of Green water algae. Now it is like green snotty slime everywhere and I can see little creatures swimming about. Now other than completely disgusted, how do we feel about that?
 

Dantrasy

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This is why I insisted on a house with two bathrooms.

What had you been drinking? 'little creatures' is actually a name of a beer where I'm from.
 
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