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The Causes and Control of Algae

Discussion in 'Algae' started by Solcielo lawrencia, Jan 11, 2016.

  1. Solcielo lawrencia

    Solcielo lawrencia Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Excess traces appears to induce certain kinds of algae, including GSA, GDA, BBA, and BGA. It also appears that if plants suffer from trace nutrient toxicity, it accelerates the establishment of algae, probably because they are able to utilize the excess trace nutrients. Since reducing or ceasing trace dosing, there has been a drastic reduction or elimination of algae in my tanks.

    Here are some of my observations over the past three years to support my hypothesis:
    =========

    BGAcyanobacteria
    Low nitrate, low flow, and low O2 are often stated as the cause. However, even when nitrates were 100+ppm, and flow was directly over it, it was still present. Low O2? Very unlikely with enough surface agitation and HOB filters, but I have no way to quantitatively test. In my low tech tanks, after numerous large water changes without dosing traces, it dies back. When excess traces are added, enough to cause toxicity in plants, BGA grows again and will even smother plants. I've also observed that when plants die in small containers, BGA eventually establishes. Perhaps this is the result of the nutrients leeching out of the plants and into the water column which BGA can then use.

    So why is low nitrate often correlated with BGA? Because low nitrate limits the growth of plants, which limits trace nutrient uptake, which results in higher concentrations of traces in the water column, which somehow causes BGA to grow. Thus, I conclude that BGA is somehow induced by excess traces and toxicity.

    BBAblack brush algae
    Fluctuating CO2 is often stated as the cause as well as organics. However, I’ve never been able to consistently induce BBA outbreaks by varying the amount of CO2. CO2 concentrations were varied from 45+ppm down to 15ppm, to 30ppm and back up at least half a dozen times over the past year and half. No noticeable change in BBA growth were ever observed. However, the biggest impact on reducing BBA growth was when trace dosing was ceased. Some of it even died and turned pinkish. As for the “organics” claim, I infer that it is actually the nutrients in the organic matter that somehow induces BBA growth.

    So why is fluctuating CO2 sometimes correlated with BBA? Because low CO2 results in low nutrient uptake, which results in higher concentration of traces in the water column, which somehow causes BBA to grow. Thus, I conclude that it is not fluctuating CO2, it is excess traces that somehow induces BBA growth.

    GSAgreen spot algae
    Low phosphate and low CO2 are often stated to be the cause of GSA. However, even when PO4 was >15ppm and CO2 was >40ppm, GSA was still present. I would scrub it off each week but it would establish in 4-5 days, sometimes faster. When trace dosing was reduced, GSA would also reduce. When traces were ceased, no new growth even as PO4<1ppm and CO2 <15ppm at maximum concentration. (CO2 was on for only 5 hours of the 10hr photoperiod.)

    So why is low phosphate and low CO2 sometimes correlated with GSA? Because low phosphate and low CO2 both reduce plant growth, which reduces trace nutrient uptake, which results in a higher concentration of traces in the water column, which somehow causes GSA to grow. High concentrations of phosphate also reduces toxicity of traces by binding to them, rendering them inert. (The term ‘precipitation’ is what is being described here.) Therefore, adding excess levels of PO4 is one way to counter toxic trace concentrations. Thus, I conclude that it is excess traces that somehow induces the growth of GSA.

    GDAgreen dust algae
    Low CO2 and high light intensity are often cited as the cause. However, I’ve varied the amount of CO2 over the past year and half several times but no correlation was observed. I’ve also raised and lowered the light fixture numerous times to reduce and increase light intensity but no correlation was observed. Recently, CO2 was also reduced to ~15ppm at max concentration. If it’s low CO2 and too much light, then there should be be an explosion of GDA, but there isn’t any at all – the tank is spotless. The only correlation that was repeatable was the reduction of traces. If traces were reduced, GDA reduced. If traces increased, GDA increased.

    By now, you can probably figure out why low CO2 and high light intensity are believed to be the cause of GDA. Low CO2 results in slowed growth, which results in low nutrient uptake, which results in higher concentration of traces in the water column, which somehow causes GDA to grow. While there may be a correlation with low CO2 and high light intensities, neither are directly causal. Thus, I conclude is that excess traces somehow induces the growth of GDA.

    =======
    So it appears that reducing toxic levels of trace nutrients is key to reducing and eliminating certain kinds of algae. If you are overdosing traces, depending on how much you are overdosing, then multiple large water changes are necessary to lower the concentration to safe levels. But if you are overdosing traces in excess of 50 times, (this is not a wild guesstimate, but an actual calculated number from a popular fertilization dosing method), then several large WCs would not be enough to bring the water to safe levels. Dozens upon dozens of large WCs would be necessary.

    Lastly, I do not believe it is excess traces alone that causes algae to grow. The scientific literature indicates that certain kinds of algae have a symbiotic relationship with certain kinds of bacteria. If these bacteria were eliminated (by antibiotics or other means), then the algae will be deprived of certain nutrients that the bacteria synthesize, which starves the algae, which ultimately results in algae dying off. This symbiotic relationship is probably why GSA grows in circular patches, because it grows with the bacteria, which grows in the same circular pattern. It’s also probably why GDA does not to grow above the water line of the water change level, because the bacteria dies when exposed to air and dries out. This relationship probably doesn’t apply to BGA because it’s not an algae but a photosynthesizing bacterium.

    https://classicalaquascaping.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/causes-and-control-of-algae/
     
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  2. lucasgg

    lucasgg Active Aquascaper

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    I conquered my BGA by cleaning out my sand (full of detritus for 3 years) and cleaning my driftwood. Detritus obviously was my main cause, and I have had green water since. Then I re-scaped.
     
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  3. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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  4. atriz

    atriz New Member

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    great post
     
  5. jagermelifter

    jagermelifter Aspiring Aquascaper

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    good stuff


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  6. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    In general I am wary of a "catch all" cause to multitudes of algae. If excess traces are a primary driver in the growth of all these algae why then do some grow exclusively and others are not present?

    Thank you for sharing your observations, but your hypothesis and conclusions are poorly supported. If you wish to improve you will need to cite your literature review sources, particularly where you are drawing a conclusion from your observations. You will also need to replicate your findings, or better yet, have another person replicate it.

    Since you have a single causative agent it wouldn't be too difficult to test while controlling for the multitude of confounding factors found in your aquariums.

    Observational analysis is merely a starting point and not sufficient to draw these types of conclusions.
     
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  7. Solcielo lawrencia

    Solcielo lawrencia Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Because some require a symbiotic relationship with bacteria to grow. The bacteria produce certain nutrients that aren't provided by fertilizers, which in turn allows the algae to grow, which then provides the bacteria nutrients such as oxygen.

    When Tom Barr provides scientific evidence to support his claims, I'll just throw the hundreds of articles about excess nutrients as a contributing factor of algae growth. If he's able to provide even just one article, does this one article take precedence over the hundreds of others that claim the exact opposite?
     
  8. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    that would depend upon how you are using the evidence in the research papers and if it supports your position. What matters is that the conclusion drawn from the literature by someone who has a PhD within the field is to be taken more seriously than of someone who is not an expert in the field. It is not personal. I see this same phenomenon in my field by lay people who seem to think their reading of the research and the conclusions they draw are as valid as the leading experts within the field. It is particularly perturbing when their conclusion is contrary to the experts. Most of them do not even know how to evaluate the quality of research...they read the abstract and the discussion and think they know it all.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016
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  9. Solcielo lawrencia

    Solcielo lawrencia Aspiring Aquascaper

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    The proof is in the pudding. If you can't stay on topic, then any argument you make is invalid and completely irrelevant. This is the same strategy Tom has used to silence any criticism against EI over the years, by directing the focus on the person or by making faulty arguments and pseudoscientific claims. I once believed his words over my own eyes, but the evidence strongly indicates that those words are wrong.
     
  10. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    I am not making a personal attack. You are, however, taking it personally. I'm sorry you do not like the answer. I replied to the question you posed, so please do not accuse me of veering off topic.


    Please address the issues with your methodology and conclusions. Particularly, why if micronutrients are a primary driving factor for these types of algae can they occur independently of each other? If the primary cause were the same, it would stand to reason all would appear if that condition was met.

    In my experience GDA occurs independent of CO2 levels and can grow quite fine when conditions are favorable to plants. Light levels seems to be the primary driver. Higher light is more likely to induce GDA whereas lower light levels and it is non existent. This is fairly consistent in my observations, some tanks are EI dosed others are neglected. My plant holding tank gets barely any ferts...because I'm lazy. The glass often gets a layer of GDA. My 90 cm tank also gets some ferts below EI levels and has GDA. Although not as bad as the tank with less dosing.

    The approach is the same as it has always been, grow plants well and you won't grow algae. The paradigm isn't how not to grow algae it is how best to grow plants.
     
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  11. Icethunder

    Icethunder Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Yes, this is definitely a sure way of success(y)
     
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  12. Solcielo lawrencia

    Solcielo lawrencia Aspiring Aquascaper

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    That's what Barr has said for many years, and it sounds nice, but my concern is why? He can't answer why and neither can anyone else.

    The real answer is quite the opposite of everything he's claimed. Stop doing water changes and lets see just how true that statement is.
     
  13. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Solcielo lawrencia

    That makes a challenge for you providing you can back up your findings with recognized scientific proof and where it was done and how plus all your qualified references including qualifications other wise it will not be worth the paper its written on.

    Its a Thesis for someone doing their Doctorate.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
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  14. scottward

    scottward New Member

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    Solcielo you must have the most awesome tank and a whole heap more cash in your pocket! Less traces, less CO2, wow!

    It's amazing that something as simple as overdosing traces could cause all the algae problems as you've detailed above. You'd think Tom Barr with his years of study would have figured it out, or somebody else, if it were so damn simple.

    By the way, when I was 12 I had a goldfish tank. Very very simple tank. The only nutrients added to the water were via fish food (just a small pinch daily). That tank used to turn green in no time, but there was nothing excessive going on. Why?
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016
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  15. Icethunder

    Icethunder Aspiring Aquascaper

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    water change is carried out due to the reduction of organic waste, and not due to excess nutrients.
     
  16. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    I believe if you place a glass of water in a sunny location it gives you a good growth of Algae to feed your shrimp.

    I do know my bird baths are in a semi shaded area and the base is covered in algae that requires regular cleaning.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     

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