Black beard algae in my tank?

ccoria89

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Hello guys,

I’m totally lost on this. I’ve been fighting against what I believe is BBA for like 6 months with no success.

I don’t know what else to do.
I’ve even used Tetra Algae Control which killed all of the algae but 2 weeks later it came back.
I use Seachem excel daily too.

I hope you can help me as I’m desperate.

Fish:
6 neon tetra
2 Otocinclus
4 Red Cherry Shrimp

Tank: 5 gallon

Water parameters: image attached (before water change)
Also I am including a couple of pictures of my tank.
IMG_1659.JPG
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Colin_T

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That looks like blue green algae (Cyanobacter bacteria). It comes in a range of colours from dark blue, dark green, brown, pink and black. It is a photosynthetic bacteria that loves nutrients, low oxygen levels and light. However, it can also grow in conditions without these things.

Reduce feeding, especially if using dry pellet food.
Do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every day for a couple of weeks. Try to physically remove the stuff by syphoning/ gravel cleaning it out.
Increase water movement.
Stop adding the plant fertiliser until it's gone.
If the light globes are more than 12 months old, replace them. Use globes with a 6500K (K is for Kelvin) rating. If you have fluorescent globes, replace the starters too.
 

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The very high nitrate at 92 mg/l (= ppm) also indicates the organics problem. You must deal with the cause, as not doing this no matter what temporary "cure" may occur will only mean the return of the algae/cyanobacteria. Applies to either. And those chemical products have impacted your fish, unfortunately, so don't resort to these as they rarely work anyway (as you've seen). I concur with Colin's advice to clean things up.
 
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ccoria89

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Hello guys,

Thank you very much for your help.
I will try everything you have recommended.

Can you help me to confirm if it is BBA or Cyanobacteria? as I am able to see “hair”

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Byron

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OK, that is black beard/brush algae which has more than one form. It is not cyanobacteria. These photos are clearer to see. Colin's previous advice still holds, but now we should dig a bit deeper to find the cause(s).

Any problem algae is due to an imbalance of light/nutrients. This is a planted tank, so the goal is to find the balance of light (intensity is of prime importance, then spectrum, then duration) and available nutrients so the plants use this and algae is disadvantaged. I have battled this algae a few times over 25 years or so, and finding or restoring the balance is the only way to deal with it. The aim is to discourage it so it does not increase.

We need data on your lighting. Be specific; type, watts, spectrum, duration...everything.

What if any fertilizers are being added? I know Excel was mentioned, this is not going to help anything, as you've seen, so discontinue it immediately. It does harm fish, by which I mean it does them no good and it is making their lives more difficult.

I mentioned the high nitrates previously, so this is one thing you must address. Nitrate above 20 ppm (ppm = mg/l) is too high, and is detrimental to fish. But nitrate is an indicator of high organics, and these obviously feed algae if the ploants cannot make use of all of it. Are there nitrates in the source (tap) water on its own, or are these solely occurring from within the tank?
 
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ccoria89

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Hello Byron,

I’m not sure about my lights as I am using the lights that came with my Marina LED 5G kit.
I’ve contacted them and they mentioned it’s 7000K but not sure. I will try to measure all you have requested using some apps, it’s not going to be exact but I guess it can give us a clue.

Related to the Nitrates I’ve measured using the strips and the results are different to the Tetra App (attaching image). I see Nitrates in a good level.

I won’t use excel anymore.
IMG_1657.JPG


Any additional information you need please let me know. I’m desperate and I need to get rid of this algae.


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ccoria89

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Also, I don’t use any fertilizers.


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Byron

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I’m not sure about my lights as I am using the lights that came with my Marina LED 5G kit.
I’ve contacted them and they mentioned it’s 7000K but not sure. I will try to measure all you have requested using some apps, it’s not going to be exact but I guess it can give us a clue.
This is a major component so we/you need to pin this down a bit. I have basically no experience of LED over aquaria as my five attempts were terrible and the units went back. Much LED is primarily in the blue with little red, and this is the issue. A Kelvin of 7000K indicates more blue than red, but this doesn't tell us everything because we have no idea as to the level of red in this mix. I have seen light with 6500K that was ideal, and other light with 6500K that would not grow plants. Red is key to plants photosynthesizing. Now, if your plants have been in this tank for six months and are still growing well, light is probably OK from the aspect of intensity and spectrum. If so, we can address the duration. How long is the tank light on each day, and is this the same period every day?

Related to the Nitrates I’ve measured using the strips and the results are different to the Tetra App (attaching image). I see Nitrates in a good level.
This is misleading. Nitrates above 20 ppm do affect fish, some more than others, and the duration also factors in. But 20 ppm is as high as an aquarium should ever be for nitrates, and many fish--cichlids for example--will be affected at this level. Generally,nitrate over time weakens the fish, and this then leads to various other issues that the fish would otherwise be able to deal with but in its weakened state usually cannot.

Are nitrates in the tap water? How often do you do a partial water change and how much of the tank volume? Are you cleaning into the substrate (other than where there are plants or hard scape)? Are you keeping the filter well rinsed? Organics accumulate in all these areas, the brown gunk, and these need to be kept minimal.

Also, I don’t use any fertilizers.
Back to my earlier question, if the plants have been doing fairly well for six months, additional fertilizer may not be needed. If so, it will certainly feed this algae, terribly.

BTW, forgot earlier, welcome to TFF. :hi:
 
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ccoria89

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My lights work with a timer.
Light on at 9:30am and light off at 10:30pm every day.

I have tested my tap water and it does not have nitrates at all.

I do a partial water change once a week and I change 50% of the water.
I always clean the substrate as much as I can and do a maintenance to my filter once a month with water from the aquarium.





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Byron

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My lights work with a timer.
Light on at 9:30am and light off at 10:30pm every day.

I have tested my tap water and it does not have nitrates at all.

I do a partial water change once a week and I change 50% of the water.
I always clean the substrate as much as I can and do a maintenance to my filter once a month with water from the aquarium.
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OK, down to some specifics. Reduce the tank light duration, this is clearly one major factor. My tank lighting is on for 8 hours daily (also a timer) as i worked back from the original 12 until BBA ceased to be a nuisance and this was where the light duration ended up. You can go down more if needed, with six hours usually the minimum suggested. But for now, I would reduce it at either end (or both) depending when you are normally home to view the tank; no benefit in having the tank in darkness when you are there each day to enjoy it.

I would be aggressive and go right down to 8 hours. Plants and fish also need sufficient total darkness (meaning, no ambient room light, but complete black darkness) for several continuous hours each 24-hour period, so work around that too. In my fish room the tank lighting comes on at 9:30 am and goes off at 5:30 pm, which allows me to use daylight for the "dawn" and "dusk" periods. Light significantly impacts fish so the tank lighting should not be suddenly on or suddenly off, but with sufficient ambient room lighting before/after.

To the nitrates. Dealing with high nitrate occurring within the tank is much easier than if you had these in the tap water. Increase the volume of the water change, I do 60-75% each week. Keep the filter well rinsed. Don't overfeed. I didn't ask about the fish load, but if it is in balance for the tank volume that should not be an issue.

It will take a couple weeks, and what you are wanting to see is no increase in the BBA. What is there will remain, or you can pull some of it out, up to you, but we need to stop "feeding" it with excessive light and/or nutrients to get it under control. And not increasing is what you want to see to show this is achieved.

You can clean the filter under the tap. I have been doing this for 30 years. Once the tank is established, this is of no consequence. Your plants are taking up most of the ammonia anyway, not bacteria, plus the greater colony of bacteria is in the substrate not the filter, and cleaning the substrate with the water change vacuuming is not going to dislodge it at all. Keep the filter well cleaned. All that brown gunk as I said is organics and that you want to get rid of as much as possible.

Having white gravel for the substrate is ironically also working against you, as this reflect light so the light down there is even more, feeding the algae.
 
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ccoria89

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Well, this is my tank after a water change.
I have set up the timer to turn on the lights at 3:30pm and to turn off the lights at 11:30pm as I’m at home during the evening and I would like to enjoy my tank. Is that a right move?

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Colin_T

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Cyanobacter smells musty and mouldy and lifts off in pieces or sheets. It can get bubbles under it too.
Black beard algae doesn't smell musty or mouldy.

You need a picture on the back of your tank to make the fish feel more secure. You can get aquarium backings from pet shops or use coloured card or even a plastic bin liner. Just sticky tape them to the outside on the back of the tank.
 

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Having the light on too long can also help algae
 

Byron

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Well, this is my tank after a water change.
I have set up the timer to turn on the lights at 3:30pm and to turn off the lights at 11:30pm as I’m at home during the evening and I would like to enjoy my tank. Is that a right move?

View attachment 93252
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Much better. Just make sure there is ambient room light when the tank light goes off at 11:30 pm for about an hour before total darkness. This avoids shocking the fish with sudden darkness. And fish will get used to the schedule, which is why a timer is so important for fish.

I agree with Colin to get a background. As you have colourful fish and plants, a plain black background is best. Non-glossy black construction paper taped to the outside of the back wall works very well, I have this on all my tanks.
 
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ccoria89

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Much better. Just make sure there is ambient room light when the tank light goes off at 11:30 pm for about an hour before total darkness. This avoids shocking the fish with sudden darkness. And fish will get used to the schedule, which is why a timer is so important for fish.

I agree with Colin to get a background. As you have colourful fish and plants, a plain black background is best. Non-glossy black construction paper taped to the outside of the back wall works very well, I have this on all my tanks.
Just an update after a week.
This is my tank after a water change.


I see new BBA growing on my plants and substrate.
Is there anything else I can do?
Or just keeping the maintenance and hoping this thing die anytime soon?

Nitrates are kept on 20ppm

And thank you so much for your help one more time.


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