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Removing Hair Algae (Black Beard Algae)

Discussion in 'Algae Removal' started by cooledwhip, Apr 5, 2016.

  1. cooledwhip

    cooledwhip Member

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    I recently started seeing lots of black hair beard algae all over my plants and some on my filters and I think it is developing on my walls. I have a 20 long, aqueon LED lights, I dose Flourish, I have Co2. What should I stop doing/start doing?
    Thanks

     
  2. Byron

    Byron Member

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    The simple answer is that you need to find the balance between light (intensity, and duration) and nutrients that is sufficient for your plants but no more.  This beard or brush algae will occur with too much light (intensity, or duration, either can be a factor) or too much nutrient supplements.
     
    I am not much experienced with LED lighting, having only tried a couple fixtures, but unless the light is specifically intended for planted tanks and thus has a spectrum around 5000K to 7000K, it will probably be too blue.  This will encourage algae, because plants need red and blue and the red in many of the LED fixtures is minimal at best.  Algae is not fussy like higher plants are when it comes to light and nutrients.
     
    If the light is not sufficient to drive photosynthesis, then the Flourish Comprehensive (I assume this is the Flourish product) and the diffused CO2 will be of little value to the plants but will encourage brush/beard algae.
     
    Byron.
     
  3. cooledwhip

    cooledwhip Member

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    I have an Aqueon OptiBright kit form petsmart. It is white LEDs and has RED leds as well. It also has a button where it can have Blue leds but I always leave that off. So I always have red LEDS and White LEDS.
     
    Should I try having the blue LEDS on too?
     
    I see what you mean about the blue and red because in my other spare tank that I house my spare plants in, it's ONLY blue lights and there is so much algae (it doesn't bother me in that tank though)
     
    I'll stop dosing Flourish.
     
    Should I stop doing CO2 as well? I have the fluval co2 kit with the small CO2 canisters. I usually fill the CO2 diffuser once in the morning, once when I get home from school, once at around 2 hours later. Should I stop CO2 all together? I just want this gone.
     
  4. Akasha72

    Akasha72 Warning - Mad Cory Woman

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    try getting your source water tested for phosphate. For BBA to thrive there has to be something out of balance and in many cases it's phosphate - or rather an excess of it - that is to blame.
     
    The problem with BBA is that it emits spores so a small amount soon turns into a blanket. It's also difficult to remove and your attempts to remove it helps it to emit yet more spores and so a vicious circle begins.
     
    How big is this tank? There is a specific fish that will eat BBA but you need a large tank as they get very big. There is a shrimp too I believe that will eat it but I'm not sure of which kind
     
  5. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Akasha's points are well taken, but knowing your light, I would guarantee this is the issue.  I'll try to explain.
     
    First, light is made up of colour wavelengths.  There is no such thing as "white" light in nature; the combination of the various wavelengths results in the colour hue of light, which is why "white" bulbs/tubes cast such varied hues--it all depends upon the makeup of the wavelengths.
     
    Aquatic plants need red and blue light to drive photosynthesis.  But green/yellow light, although it does not drive photosynthesis, still impacts the growth; it may be that it is brighter (red and blue light alone, such as the so-called plant or aquarium tubes, are less intense than tubes with red, blue and green), but there is also the fact that natural sunlight has strong green/yellow.  We can use the Kelvin scale to measure colour temperature, and there is also the CRI (colour rendering index).  I'll come back to this.
     
    Most LED lighting is high in the blue and very weak in the red.  I have seen the Aqueon Opti-Bright, I was considering trying one of these a couple weeks ago.  In my view this is not good light over a planted tank.  I also tried the National Geographic LED which has similar red LED's, and that was not at all sufficient.  When we talk of red, blue and green light, we mean that the light output has to be high in these wavelengths, but the light has to be "mixed" to provide an even colour rendition.  Light that does this will have a Kelvin rating between 5000K and 7000K.  The higher the K number, the "cooler" the white light, meaning more blue and less red in the mix; the lower the K number, the "warmer" the white light, with less blue and more red.  A Kelvin around 5500-6500K is equivalent to the sun at mid-day.  Fish and plant colours will be rendered true, and plants will thrive (assuming the nutrients required are all available).
     
    When the light and available nutrients are balanced, plants use both and photosynthesis to the max, until the point at which something is no longer available.  Now, different plants have different needs when it comes to light intensity and nutrient supply; slow-growing plants use less, faster-growing use more.  The number of plants in the aquarium also factors in to this balance.
     
    If light is insufficient, in intensity primarily but then in its colour spectrum, plants cannot make use of it, which means they also do not use the available nutrients, and algae can take advantage.  This is what is occurring in your tank.  And I have been there, with beard/brush algae, more than once, so I know how finicky the balance can sometimes be.  Presently, I have this algae in a couple tanks, but it has not increased in over two years, simply because I have the balance and it can't take advantage.  This is the only way to deal with this algae.  Any attempts to "kill" it or have fish eat it is more like a band-aid, not a real cure, because even if these methods do work (frequently they don't), the algae is still finding a foothold and that means it can surge ahead easily.
     
    Getting back to your light.  The CO2 being added is almost certainly not helping the plants, because in my view this LED light is not sufficient to really drive photosynthesis.  There are "plant" LEDs on the market, Marineland make one, but they are very expensive, and ironically they use more power than comparable T8 fluorescent lighting, all else being equal.  It would help to know your plant species and number (a photo of the tank should tell us this) as we may then be able to suggest options.  Also, the GH of the water is important; this you can ascertain from your municipal water authority, likely somewhere on their website in the water data.
     
    Byron.
     
  6. cooledwhip

    cooledwhip Member

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    Thanks for scaring me....
     
    I have a 20 long. Should I take it to pet smart? Do they test for phosphate? I plan on getting some amano shrimp.
     
    BTW the 20 long is barely stocked. I was just about to stock it but I want to make sure everythign is perfect. I have some guppies and a bristlenose albino pleco now.
     
  7. cooledwhip

    cooledwhip Member

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    For plants I have
    S repens
    Hygrophila Pinnatifida
    Java Moss
    Glosso
    Narrow Leaf java Fern
    Rotala Rotundifolia
    Ludwigia S Red
    Lots of pearl weed which I added today
    Baby Tears(The tall stem one)
    I have a couple of other plants too but I don't know their names.
     
    I'm going to just ask this.
     
    What light setups should I have for this 20 gallon planted, and for my 10 gallon planted, and for a 2.5 gallon aquascape? Money isn't a large limiting factor, because I know this is a good investment, but I don't need some super expensive german light or something.

    BTW here are PICTURES of my tank. I just changed the water and heavily re arranged my rocks so there is a lot of murk and crap in it. My tank is fully cycled, what I think might have happened is I recently started putting in Osmocote plus, like a lot of it in my tank, it was a couple weeks ago but I guess it's starting to let out the nutrients now.
     
    http://imgur.com/a/R9bLN
     
  8. Akasha72

    Akasha72 Warning - Mad Cory Woman

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    I'm from the UK so I've no idea if they can test it at petsmart - our equivilent is pets@home I think and they only test pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. I first got mine tested at my small independent lfs and they can test for everything. Once I knew phosphate was extreemly high I got my own tester. Mine's by JBL and is very very good
     
    There's no need to be scared, it's just best to know what you are dealing with. Byron has made the points on your lighting system and poor lighting can cause algae but high phosphate can also cause BBA and this is why it would be a good idea to find somewhere that can test it. Some of our American members might be able to suggest somewhere that can do that for you :)
     
    I can't help you with the lighting as it's something I don't fully understand myself. I'll leave you in Byron's capable hands there :)
     
  9. Byron

    Byron Member

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    We are beginning to see the cause of the algae.  There is an excess of nutrients, and low lighting.
     
    Nutrients first.  Phosphates in NA is unlikely to be the issue here, and when I see the lighting specs plus the other data, I would all but guarantee it.  The osmocote likely are releasing nutrients (if memory serves me, these are not aquarium products but intended for terrestrial plants).  As I hope I explained previously, excess nutrients like this plus the CO2 in the absence of sufficient light to balance is a recipe for algae.
     
    First, I would stop the CO2 and remove/reduce the osmocote tablets.  Then replace the lighting.  Here you have three options.
     
    1.  LED.  If you get a good unit, this will work fine.  it will be very expensive (the most expensive of the options), and you will have to get a very good light that is of the correct spectrum for plants.  This would probably be my choice over the 2.5 gallon tank.
     
    2.  Flurescent tube.  This would work fairly well for the 10g and 20g tanks, but in the tank with CO2 you are dealing with more high-tech which means more light.  A T5 fixture would provide this, but without the CO2 (the other tanks mentioned presumably) this would be way too much light.  A single T8 would work over the 10g or 20g tanks if low-tech or natural method, i.e., no CO2.
     
    3.  Incandescent (screw-in bulbs).  This in my view may be your best option, at least for the 10g and 20g if low-tech (no CO2).  These are the least expensive fixtures, though not always easy to find but as you are in the USA you should be able to track them down.  They will take two bulbs, and here the CFL (compact fluorescent) are ideal.  Get the "daylight" bulbs with a Kelvin of 6500K.  The smallest wattage is 9w (equivalent to 40w of old incandescent), and two of these over the 10g and 20g (without CO2) will be perfect.  I have these over my 10g and 20g and the plants thrive.  You can increase the intensity with higher wattage, which would help with the tank using CO2 diffusion, though here it might be better to go with T5 to ensure better coverage and intensity.  I would want to look into this one more before being firm.
     
    Now to your plant list.  You have plants that need high light (and will benefit from CO2), but also plants that willnot do well with this, unless you can plant them in shade.  The CO2 will not benefit or harm them, but the light can.
     
    It may help to see what is achievable.  The first photo below is my 10g with two 9w CFL 6500K bulbs.  There is no CO2, and I use Flourish Comprehensive SUpplement, 1/4 of a teaspoon, once a week.  This is not the "prettiest" tank, as it is used to raise my Farlowella fry and the pygmy corys which spawn continually (hence the dry leaves which is excellent infusoria for fry), but it shows the plant growth possible with very little fuss.
     
    The second photo is my 20g, now used to QT new fish.  This tank varies a lot as I remove plants when they get too thick, and this tank can sit without fish for months.  Same lighting as over the 10g, and same nutrient supplementation except 1/2 teaspoon once weekly.
     
    Byron.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    I don't know of any stores that test for phosphate.  It is just not commonly done for fresh water tanks.  But it should be.  API does make a phosphatye test kit but the color shadding makes it hard to distinguish once you get below 100ppm.  I found the API kit at Petco. I could not find the JBL kit Akasha uses.  I recently purchased a Hanna instruments phosphate meter.  It's a little pricey ($56) but with a resolution of 0.1 there are no conventional aquarium kits with that kind of accuracy.  Also unlike conventional kits you can check the accuracy of the meter with an optional accuracy test kit.
    http://www.amazon.com/Hanna-Instruments-Phosphate-Photometer-HI713-25/dp/B008BVO1IW?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00
     
    Ammano shrimp (in fact any kind of shrimp) will help but they alone cannot elliminate the algae.  Only the correct nutrient conditions can do that .  Osmocote plus is designed to release fertilizer into soil at a rate terrestrial plants like.  It may be releasing fertilizer to fast for your aquarium.  Osmocote does contrain Phosphates.
     
    Algae are generally single cell organisms. including BBA.  If one single cell brakes off of the main cluster it can start a new plant.  Unfortunatly when a pond dries up the wind picks up these cells and they get mixed in with the dust the air typically carries.  So no mater what you do, algae will get in your tank and spread if the nutrient conditions are right.
     
  11. cooledwhip

    cooledwhip Member

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    Thank you so much sir for the response. I have stopped CO2 alltogether and have stopped putting in the osmocote. 
     
    The problem about the CO2 vs No CO2 thing is that I don't have a super expensive setup for CO2. It doesn't manually do a bubble every 5 seconds or anything like the nice systems do so I don't know if it "counts" as CO2. 
     
    This is the "co2" system I have: http://www.amazon.com/Fluval-Mini-Pressurized-20g-CO2-Kit/dp/B0049RL3H4
     
    I fill the diffuser on average 3-4 times a day. I also have a bubble atomizer and some paintball tanks with CO2 as well as a lot of DIY co2 ready to go. At the time I thought my lighting was sufficient enough. 
     
    I have a couple of plants right now in my tank that are just taking over and could provide shade for the plants that need shade. If that is a problem I can relocate the plants that are less needy to light and require shade.
     
    For the lights, again, I don't know if my CO2 counts or not. As of now I am leaning towards the flourescent tube. I say that because if my current "co2 setup" would suffice, then I would for sure rather half the flourescent tube.
     
    And your tanks are just beautiful. the way the plants flourish; like I never see that shade of green in my tanks. For the 10 gallon I will use the CFL bulbs. Could I just use any desk lamp? I would rather use some kind of fixture. I will be using 2 for the 10 gallon. 
     
    If I did buy a T5 for the 20 gallon without CO2, what would happen to the plants? I also assume I need a T5 holder?
     
    For the 2.5 I will just use a CFL.
    Thanks so much
     
    BTW I know you said you were breeding those fish and you have leaves in them, my guppy just randomly spawned fry one day. She didn't even seem pregnant, she was one of the smallest ones in the tank, that's why I kept her with the others because I didnt' suspect she was pregnant. I came home from school and I saw about 3 fry swimming around, scooped them up and I put her and the eggs into my empty 10 gallon which I was going to use as a QT.
    The fry are doing well now and are officially 1 day old. I have some indian almond leaves, would th ose be beneficial to the fish fry? They are dried out. Thanks
     
  12. Byron

    Byron Member

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    It is a nice feeling to see fry in one's aquarium.  I still get a thrill after 20 years, when I spot a fry hiding in the floating plants.  The leaves won't hurt, but with livebearer fry they are larger than many egglayer fry, and usually well able to take prepared foods.  Crush up a few flakes in you fingers and sprinkle the surface.  The fry will easily eat this.
     
    To the lights...I personally would invest in a proper hood for the tank.  The 10g and 20g anyway; incandescent for the 10g.  These have the benefit of directing light into the tank and not dispersing it into the room, which not only is useless to the plants but makes it harder to observe the aquarium.
     
    As for the 20g...I have never used CO2 so I won't guess concerning the linked unit.  But the point I want to make is about the balance, which is the issue with the algae.  If you decide to stay with the CO2, and other members can comment on its effectiveness, going with a T5 fluorescent fixture taking only one tube would likely be best.  But if you decide to forget the CO2, then you could either go with a single tube T8, or the incandescent like the one for the 10g.  The nice thing about the incandescent is that you can get stronger CFL bulbs, but I just don't know if this would be sufficient to balance your CO2.  Hopefully others will be able to suggest something on this aspect.
     
    With the 20g, again I would recommend a proper hood.  But the light fixture will be specific, so decide what you want first.  Though, once you have the hood and fixture, you can lift off the fixture and use another if it is roughly the same dimensions.  I know the T8 and incandescent fixtures used to be interchangeable like this with the basic black hood units.
     
    I don't want to lead you astray on any of this, because lighting is not inexpensive.  But it is so varied that it can be difficult to find what works best.  I will say that T5 fluorescent is quite bright, and depending upon the nutrients, this could be more algae trouble.  There have
    been several threads recently with troublesome algae caused by too intense lighting.
     
    Byron.
     
  13. cooledwhip

    cooledwhip Member

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    I think I'll go with the T8 for the 20g and stop the CO2. will my plants still thrive? Could I grow carpeting plants with the T8? and if I decide to use a T5 and co2 in the future can I just change the bulb? I don't know about an entire hood for the 20g but I'll consider it.
     
    For the 10g, I plan on using CFL's. I saw the outcome on your tanks which honestly are amazing. How did you attach them? Just use a desk lamp? Or did you use a fixture? I'll be using two.
     
    Actually I just checked my light hood on my 10 gallon and it has the two prongs where it looks like I could put a T5 or T8 bulb... It has the little hole thing. I might actually get a T5/T8 bulb to put in there. This is the light I have on my 10 gallon: http://www.petsmart.com/fish/lights/top-fin-aquarium-led-hood-zid36-27512/cat-36-catid-300073
     
    It looks like I could put a bulb in there...
     
  14. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Unfortunately for us, every type of fluorescent lighting is unique and only those tubes will work in that fixture.  So you have T8 (the "basic" fluorescent), T5, and then some others less often seen.  But only the specific T8 tubes will work in a T8 fixture, etc.  So it would mean a change from a T8 to a T5 fixture.
     
    As for carpeting plants...maybe, depending upon the plant species.  I am not fond of carpet plants, so I don't try them, but generally they need more light and more nutrients to balance, and here CO2 may enter the factors.  However, since you have relatively small tanks that are not deep, you might get by.  But at this poiint, I would recommend incandescent over T8, as it is easy to increase the light intensity with higher wattage CFL bulbs.  This cannot be done with any fluorescent lighting; the tube (in T8, T5, or whatever) in a specific length will be a specific wattage.  The only way to increase intensity with fluorescent lighting is to either add more tubes, or go to longer tubes; the latter obviously isn't feasible if the tube is end to end lengthwise as it is, and adding another tube means a new fixture.  The incandescent with two 9w CFL Daylight bulbs over my 20g high is more than adequate; and I could increase the light by using 13w or higher bulbs.
     
     
    I have the standard aquarium hood over both my 10g and 20g tanks, with an incandescent fixture taking two screw-in bulbs, and I use 9w Daylight 6500K CFL bulbs.  This is fairly inexpensive for smallish tanks, and frankly I would never do anything else.  I have a hood onmy 29g and 33g tanks too, though those are both T8 fluorescent (single tube).  I have low to moderate lighting, which is sufficient for my purposes.  I only have plants that will thrive under such light, and I don't have to worry about bright light for the fish (which is an important concern for many fish species).
     
     
    This is a LED fixture, and only the lighting units as now included will work.  The manufacturer might make different ones for this unit, I don't know.  But you will not be able to use fluorescent tubes or incandescent bulbs in this, only LED.
     
    And I will suggest that this is not going to be good plant light.  It is blue and white, with basically no red.  Red is the most important colour for aquatic plants, as it drives photosynthesis.  Blue is also used, but red is the most crucial.  Green is third, and while it does not drive photosynthesis, it does improve plant growth so it must have some purpose.  Probably intensity.  Plants are the colour they are because they reflect that particular light; so green leaf plants are reflecting green light, red leaf reflect red, and so forth.  This is also why true colour rendition of plants (and fish) depends so much upon the colour wavelengths of the lighting.  A Kelvin around 5000K to 7000K is best at this, which is not surprising since this is the Kelvin of the sun at mid-day, and this is what all plants on earth have evolved to use.
     
    Byron.
     
  15. cooledwhip

    cooledwhip Member

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    Okay I have decided I will go with the CFL's. I can go with 2 6500K cfl bulbs now and in the future if i plan on using CO2 I can just get a higher wattage correct? I plan on using 2 for my 20 long and 2 for my 10 gallon. I want to get a hood for the 10 gallon but I don't really want one for the 20 gallon. What kind of fixtures are my options? I am pretty sure I can find a hood for the 10g easily but for the 20 I really want to be able to see top down.
     
    For the price and the compatibility, I think the CFL's are much better than the incandescents.
     
    I'm very excited now I know which lights I need to get for my plants. I can't wait to get rid of the LED's and really see my plants flourish. I have the boxes and everything for my old LED lights, would anyone buy them or is it just worth it to keep them and use them on another tank if I happen to get one in the future? (not a heavily planted)
     

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