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Post  Akasha Sun 27 Sep 2015, 16:23

Whilst at pets@home this week (buying dog food not fish Razz ) I spotted the October edition of Practical Fish Keeping and one of the articles in it that interested me the most was fighting algae and how to win the battle. I thought I would come here and share my experiences of battling one type of algae and also a little of what was in the article.

The article covers all of the algae types, including green water and gives useful advice on combating all of them.

I read the section on Black Beard Algae (BBA) especially with interest. For the best part of 6 months I battled with BBA. My entire tank was covered and I couldn't work out where it had come from. I set about researching it's causes and why it's so hard to beat - or shall we say nigh on impossible! I learnt that it's a type of algae that omits spores and so even a tiny amount can soon turn into an entire blanket. At the time I was a member of other forums (I'm only a member of this one now) and I began asking questions from other members. Some of the advice was useful, some of not so useful, some of it downright appalling. In the end the breakthrough came on a visit to Maidenhead Aquatics at York when I happened to mention to a staff member that I was considering giving up on fish keeping as my tank was nothing more than a black hairy blanket and I really just couldn't deal with it. He asked me what my phosphate levels were. I couldn't answer him. Up until that point it wasn't something I was aware of. He went on to suggest that high phosphates might be the cause of the BBA blanket.
I decided to get the water tested for phosphates (Po4) and sure enough the reading was off the scale. At the time my fish were also weak and seemed to be susceptable to random unknown illnesses. They were lethargic too. Soon after I armed myself with a JBL Po4 test kit and decided to not just test the tank but to test my tap water too. To my horror I discovered my tap water reading for Po4 was 1.8ppm ... already in the danger level according to the test kit card.
I realised I had two options. Either run a phosphate remover perminantly or switch to RO water. Because I live in a 1st floor flat and have health difficulties meaning I can't lift anything heavy RO wasn't an option. I decided running a phosphate remover was the best option.
I then came to realise that the removers come in differing types. One type is brown/orange in colour, the other is pure white. I learned that the brown/orange type was iron based and the white type was aluminium based. I have found the aluminium based one works better for me. I now use one by NTLabs.

The article in PFK backs up my theory on high phosphates being the main cause of this difficult to beat algae. Other causes are lack of water flow (not a problem in my tank with two external filters running) and old flourescent lighting tubes. The article went on to recommend shrimps, snails and fish that will help an algae ridden tank. When I was doing my research into BBA and how to get rid of it I came across a fish that will eat it - the Siamese Algae Eater (not to be confused with the similar Flying Fox). The true SAE loves to graze on BBA. I did my research into them so that I knew how to tell the subtle differences between the SAE and the flying fox and I managed to get myself 3 true SAE's and within days they were tackling the black hairy blanket. I still run the phosphate remover though. I don't rely on the SAE's to keep it at bay. I know if my phosphate starts to rise again then the BBA will be back to take over my tank again.
A word of warning though on the SAE ... they grow HUGE! mine are now as big as my ancistrus catfish and having one ancistrus and 3 SAE's in a four foot tank is pushing my luck a little.

So, hopefully that was of some interest to somebody and if I can help just one person rid their tank of BBA then I'm a happy Akasha Smile

Posts : 492
Join date : 2014-07-28
Age : 49
Location : Yorkshire, England

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Post  bridgegirl99 Sun 04 Oct 2015, 10:14

Very interesting Akasha, must confess I've not tested my phosphates, I'll have to look into that.

I found that article interesting too, my problem has been blue/green algae on a tank in my bathroom, that unfortunately catches some south facing sunshine during the day. The tank is currently under wraps for at least 4 days as they recommended, not sure what the fish are thinking though lol.

Its always suffered from the normal algae on the glass of course, but this is the first time I've had BG, and lets hope the last!


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Join date : 2012-09-10
Location : Kent

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Post  Akasha Sun 04 Oct 2015, 14:06

Hi Bridgegirl, glad to of been of some help. I think with BBA it's a process of elimination but knowing what I know now my first elimination target would be the phosphate, testing both the tank and the tap. If it's high in the tap it's going to be high in the tank and running a remover one way to beat it.

When I was researching though I found that a lot of plant fertilizers contain phosphate and so if you have a high reading in the tap and you are adding a fert which contains Po4 then it's easy to see how it can get out of control in the tank. Plants need some Po4 from what I understand but they won't soak up the high levels. My tank is heavily planted but I'm still getting readings for Po4. I tested my tank a couple of days ago and got a reading for 1.6 - this means that I need to replace my remover when I do my next water change/tank maintenance.

I noticed I have a small amount of blue/green algae appearing but it's on the front glass below the substrate level. Like you, I get a lot of natural light as my living room faces south and I have a large 7ft wide window. No matter where I place my tank I can't avoid the light. I'm leaving it for a week or two to see if it spreads, I'm hoping now that the winter is approaching and bright sunlight is going it might cure itself. If not it's a four day black out for me too.

Posts : 492
Join date : 2014-07-28
Age : 49
Location : Yorkshire, England

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