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Staghorn algae battle

Discussion in 'Algae' started by Maboleth, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. Maboleth

    Maboleth New Member

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    I've read many articles about Staghorn algae and people usually say it's because of some high ammonia spike. I cannot prove that, I get 0mg/l ammonia and 10mg/l nitrates.

    However, my problem is that staghorn algae grows almost exclusively in the brightest spot of the tank (middle part) and on stem plants that are near the surface. My lighting setup is 0,5l/w, fresh t5 neon tubes.
    I tried with covering the middle part of the tank's top glass with baking paper to diffuse and decrease the power of the tubes. But I don't see any improvement so far... I'm also adding DIY CO2.

    Is there any creature or fish that eats this dreadful algae? I'm manually removing the affected leaves wherever I can, but what I get is just a short-term relief.
    I have Nerita snails, Otos and Amano shrimps and none seem to eat that... I can't be certain for Amano's, they usually work at night. Or maybe I need much greater army of Amano's to battle staghorn...

    Any advice would be helpful.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013

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  2. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Sorry to say it but no critters like to eat it. While organic spikes can cause algae blooms that is not the exclusive cause. Algae is opportunistic and take advantage of situations where plant growth isn't maximized. In your case I would say it is light levels exceeding your CO2 supply. I am not a fan of DIY CO2, the output is inconsistent and dispersion methods are inefficient.

    A double dosing of Seachem excel or other gluteraldehyde product (liquid carbon source) will zap it, but it will come back if the reason it showed up is not fixed. Follow the double dosing for a week and give a good water change at the end. Watch shrimp for any stress, should be safe for fish.

    I would either add pressurized CO2 or reduce your light levels.
     
  3. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    Use Seachem excel directly on it to kill it. This will also bbenefit the plants and help them grow stronger and more robustly. Once the plants are established the algae will have a harder time gaining a foot hold.

    Good luck,

    John
     
  4. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    A much more prudent approach than my suggested carpet bomb. :whistle: Direct application is a good idea, if that doesn't work...carpet bomb!:mad:

    H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) is another nice direct application algae zapper, best to not dose a tank though. It gets tricky as it oxidizes organics and once you run out of organics in the water it starts to try its hand at your critters. In other words a safe dose one day could be dangerous the next day.
     
  5. Maboleth

    Maboleth New Member

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    Thanks everyone!
    I've read on several places that liquid carbon can easily kill shrimps. Actually, some people say they're fine even with 4x dose, but some report that they devastated their numbers with regular doses. Whom to trust? I love them all dearly so much, so I wouldn't want anything bad happen to them.

    I've also read that battling algae with liquid carbon seems to be good at first, but once the course finishes, algae can bloom stronger than ever. :( I also have several Vallisnerias, I don't know if they like Easy Carbo or not?

    The trick is, I still haven't found the cause of staghorn algae. I don't have many fishes, my tank looks clean. I also have loads of Ceratophyllum floating. It provides a shade for lower low-light plants, fish love it and it looks beautiful. That plant is also a nutrient-sponge with anti-algae properties. Currently all of my plants flourish, so it's really hard to pinpoint the cause of staghorn.

    Adding EasyCarbo with syringe seems a bit safer. What concentration should I use?

    ShadowMac, I know, I don't like DIY CO2 either... fluctuation of CO2 is SO evident on the plants... they start pearling for several days and then it starts to weaken soon after... Yeast mixture runs well 7 days at best... everything after that is very uneven and low. However, I don't currently have funds to buy a pressurized CO2... probably won't have in the next 5 or so months.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  6. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Maboleth

    I use Seachem Excel about 3-4ml every day in my 75cm shrimp tank and the Cherry Reds, Chameleon, and Darwin Red nosed are all breeding.

    In saying that if I over dosed every day and directly on to the shrimps it might be a totally different story.

    I have spot "Sprayed" onto algae and it works far better than over a general area.

    The WWW is full of "It will not work" and 99.9% its other causes or not used correctly and in one case I know of a very reliably product was getting bad reports simply because it was used incorrectly, and it spread all over the WWW.

    Keith:):)
     
  7. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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  8. letsgodisco

    letsgodisco New Member

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    I am not sure if the 0.5l/w is a typo or not, but if not, this is 2watts per liter. This is a lot. Especially without CO2 injection, but even with that.
    (if just a typo than sorry for this comment)

    Easy Carbo and the other similar stuff does not kill shrimps if provided in proportion. You can definitely use it with the prescribed dosing, but even more than that is still safe. What it kills, though, is simpler plants (mosses, riccia, java fern and the like).
     
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  9. Maboleth

    Maboleth New Member

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    Thanks John, interesting article. Photoperiod in my tank is 7,5h a day... that's not an issue.

    CO2 yeast fluctuations is one possibility. That got me thinking... maybe I shouldn't add any CO2 in my tank (not until I go pressurized) to avoid any CO2 fluctuations? Maybe those high&low CO2 levels are worse than having no CO2 at all? What do you think?

    0.5l/w was a typo, it's 0.5w/l. :) I have loads of java mosses and ferns... should I be concerned with adding a liquid carbo? All of my mosses & ferns are growing like crazy and I wouldn't want to see them melt.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2013
  10. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    I would say any fluctuations that lead to an imbalance gives algae a chance to out compete aquarium plants. Plants require higher nutrient loads at a steady rate, whereas algae is a lower order class that can thrive on almost anything.


    -John N.
     
  11. chiangstar

    chiangstar Aspiring Aquascaper

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    When you talk about CO2 fluctuations, doesn't turning pressurised CO2 on during the day and off during the night (via a solenoid/timer) cause CO2 fluctuations?

    Cheers

    Simon
     
  12. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    Great question. You're absolutely right. It does cause fluctuations, however the impact here is minimal. When a pressurized CO2 turns off usually its also when the lights go out. Algae much like plant photosynthesize to consume and uptake nutrients. When the lights are out, the process is stopped for both algae and the aquarium plant. Thus, one does not out compete the other in dark situation.

    -John N.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
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  13. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Not that far back if I can remember correctly DIY Co2 units can cause a few concerns unless you know exactly what you are doing and its monitored correctly.

    Co2 is not required when lights are off.

    Run a airstone at night.

    During the light on period try to keep the surface water movement to a minimum ( filter outlets below water surface) and no air stone.

    This info came via an experienced C02 user BUT it worked for him and may not suit every ones tank and system.

    If I am wrong please correct this and if necessary I will remove it.

    Keith:):)
     
  14. Maboleth

    Maboleth New Member

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    Well, I thought about fluctuations during the day. Yeast begin to rapidly release CO2 initially, then day after day it's less and less. If you shake bottle you get more CO2, but that's only temporary, for a few hours.
    Many of my plants are slow-growers, so... I don't know. If I stop DIY CO2, I will see the effects (positive or negative) in a few weeks... that's a bit too much.

    All I know is that reaching the equilibrium, even when the parametres are not ideal, is better than having ups and downs on a regular basis.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
  15. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    I wouldn't stop the DIY CO2, it is still beneficial. The real mistake when using DIY is that you shouldn't make it a system dependent upon CO2 supplementation. It is of great benefit to low light setups, however the fluctuations throughout the lighting period and decrease over time leads to algae blooms and less than ideal plant growth when your light levels demand more CO2. You need to reduce the light or add pressurized CO2. If you have only mosses and ferns you won't need a ton of light anyways.
     
  16. Maboleth

    Maboleth New Member

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    Ok, I will continue to use DIY until I go pressurized.

    I don't have only mosses and ferns, I have 10 different plant species, but those two are taking large part of my tank.

    But tomorrow I will buy EasyCarbo, enough is enough. Today when I was doing regular maintenance in my tank with 30% water change, I noticed that staghorn infected my beautiful flame moss that was planted on a redmoor branch, as well as floating Val's leaves and ferns... I have cut all of the affected leaves and did a nasty flame moss cut.
    This algae is so ugly, I cannot stand it. I will dose EasyCarbo with a syringe. The first on the list are Styrogene repens plants that are also infected but hardy enough to test the EC on them.

    I also plan to dip my Anubias plants in a 25% EasyCarbo solution for 5 minutes. I guess EC will be less toxic to the plant than a bleach dip.
     
  17. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Maboleth

    Looks like you are understanding the Co2 process, please let us know how the dipping goes.

    Keith:):)
     
  18. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    I would be careful with direct application to soft leaved plants. I think John meant hardscape for direct application. It can burn plants. Your best bet is to simply cut away any infested plant leaves.
     
  19. Maboleth

    Maboleth New Member

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    ^^ And you would be correct. I have overdone it on my A. nana. I put the plant for 5 minutes in a 15% solution (10% less than I stated in my previous post) and the leaves after several days developed brownish-yellow spots and patches. Oldest leaves are most affected, while the younger ones are spotless, but this was certainly too strong, even for Anubias plant to handle. The algae did die... but the cost was too high.
    The trick is either to weaken the solution or to halve the time, from 5min to 2,5 or something.

    As for the staghorn in the tank, after 4 days of treatment, I see no improvement. However, at least I didn't detect new ones. I'm adding a regular, mid-dose and so far none of my fish or shrimps seem to care.
     
  20. greenfinger 2

    greenfinger 2 Active Aquascaper

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    Hi Maboleth, Sorry to hear About A nana But they are strong little plants and may recover ;) When i had staghorn algae it took about 10-15 days till it was all gone you should start to see it go a nice pink colour soon then you will know its on its way out :)One thing i was triple dosing liquid Co2 but there are no fish or shrimp in my tank
     

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