Brown/black Hair Algae Removal/prevention

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Ben1232

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Hey guys!

Im having trouble with 2 types of algae, one is black beard algae, its black and fuzzy and grows around the edges of the leaves on my plans and the other is also brown, but its a hair type aglae and that is growing on the parts of the plants where the other algae is not. This has been around since i first set up the tank about 4 or 5 months ago but its gotten worse in the past month.

Ive been trying to find answers as to what to do about it and how to prevent it online but i seem to be going around in circles and im not sure what exactly to do about it.

So far i know that it is most probably caused by low or fluctuating co2 levels but im not sure about how exactly to fix that because ive come across multiple ways and now i have confused myself with an overload of information.

Today i tried soaking the plants in a 10% bleach solution for 5 minutes and managed to remove most of it but i know that isnt going to be a long term fix because bleach amd a fishtank dont mix.
That is the only thing ive done so far as its the only thing that i could wrap my head around quick enough to be able to do something about it right away.

I was wondering if someone could please help point me in the right direction, as i have no idea what to do about it next. Thankyou!
 
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Ben1232

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Ive seen a few videos and read a little about it but im worried that i might stuff it up somehow but i will look a little more into it
 

Taff

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Hi there this is a previous reply on BBA for black brush or black beard algae I provided on another thread but I decided to keep a copy on file so I hope that it helps.

BBA or more scientifically (forget it's actual colour) one of the species of red algae (as it turns red once stained with alcohol for microscopy slides).

Of all algae it is one of the most challenging algal types to fight as it's causes are myriad (in some tanks it might be low flow but in others it's at its thickest on or near spraybars). It also is pretty much immune to algecides unless at such strong concentrations it will also kill off plants and many fish species and invertebrates. Forget all claims of chemicals to kill this type of algae - it is just fanciful marketing.

The best way to beat this algae is very slow and steady.

Firstly reduce light; ideally try for 6 hours divided into two three hour periods with two hours in-between - best to leave this to an automatic plug timer – this helps with all types of algae.

Add floating plants with water sprite (Indian fern) and Amazon frogbit the two best choices. These will compete (and win) with the algae for light and nutrients. They also seem to act allopathically in some way by secreting compounds that act against algae (one theory at least).

Next remove any part of plants which has any of this stuff on them. Seriously be ruthless with any that you can see. Any BBA on the tank itself can be scrubbed off the glass with a plastic scourer (be careful not to trap sand grains which can scratch) and probably no good for acrylic tanks.

Next clean the algae off your hardscapes (everything else) and gravels. This is a real pain but the more you can remove the faster you will win this fight. To clean and kill this stuff boiling is effective but trust me you will not want the smell of bogwood and gravel stew in your kitchen so maybe new gravel might be in order. PLEASE DO NOT REPLACE/CLEAN ALL OF YOUR SUBSTRATE IN ONE GO. The substrate makes up a significant part of your biological filter.

There is also diluted bleach (make sure stuff is rinsed until there is not hint of bleach smell left) and hydrogen peroxide (which is potentially safer than bleach as with rinsing it breaks down into H2O and Oxygen). Hydrogen peroxide can also be used later on in the fight to spot dose underwater within the aquarium.

Something else that is very useful is a compound named glutaraldehyde. This in strong concentrations is a medicinal/industrial steriliser which you do not want. However at much weaker concentrations it is marketed as liquid carbon for aquarium use. Brand names include Seachem Excel and Easycarbo or smaller retailers make their own. Again out of the aquarium wash stuff in a mixture of glutaraldehyde and water. Inside the aquarium it can be used with syringe to spot treat any returning clumps down the road.

All of this cleaning is easiest with 50-60% of the tank emptied. It is then time to put all back in l. New plants might be considered and fast growing plants like Amazon swords will help to outcompete the algae but will also be recontaminated and probably ruined over the next few weeks so spend any budget for plants on the floating plants already mentioned (slow growing plants such as anubias and java ferns should not be introduced until the war is won.

Once the tank is refilled you will have eradicated nearly all of the BBA but it will come back until your plants are using up available nutrients in direct competition with the algae. You can help this by feeding sparingly and vacuuming the gravel regularly.

Feed the plants with liquid carbon/ glutaraldehyde. As well as feeding the plants this is an algicide. Spot treat BBA directly with it in the aquarium using a syringe (turn off filter/powerhead before/during for five minutes so that the stuff stays put) and within a few days it turns pinkish and then dies.

Keep ornaments clean by giving them a scrub if they get a few tufts and trim any plant leaves affected. If your floating plants stop multiplying/growing rapidly add a weekly fertiliser (sounds crazy but rapidly growing plants are the best treatment against bba). Once the battle seems won add substrate rooted plants such as amazon swords ( add root tabs to fertilise beneath the substrate.

Ideally at this stage you can probably stop fertilisers (fish waste) and liquid carbon (fish respiration) and slowly increase photoperiod (lights). If something goes wrong such as lights malfunction (old tubes can be a real problem) which throws the aquarium out of balance you will see BBA again but as soon as you do go back to your liquid carbon and fertiliser and let your floating plants (always leave a few ready for emergencies) beat your BBA for you.

The cause of BBA is always a breakdown of complex balances within the aquarium; every aquarium is different so causes in each aquarium are different and often the cause in one is the cure in another.

A short while ago I had a failure of a lighting unit in a tank with no visible BBA (for years). It took 11 days to fail to fix it then to order and receive the new lighting unit. Suddenly BBA! What does that say about the blame being laid on high light. Where was it worst? In the highest flow areas affected by filter outflows and a spraybar; really high flow areas. So much for the low flow explanation. There was also no change in CO2. Every aquarium is different and interruptions to aquarium balance will also be different.

Sorry there is no easy cure in a bottle but the best cure are rapidly growing surface plants. Indeed if you were willing to wait six months adding watersprite along with liquid carbon and fertiliser would sort out the BBA without all of the hard graft outlined above.

A group of young (True) Siamese Algae Eaters can really do a lot of damage to BBA and most types of algae but as they get older they become virtually useless as they get so little nutritional return for their adult body size. They also become relatively 'surly' even aggressive fish. They become territorial needing 40+ gallons each and even then need a group of 6+ to reduce aggression. Unless it is possible to borrow a juvenile group and then return them once they have done their job is possible I would not advise these as a solution. I have a single (a workable number) one of these and he is a great fish but his algae eating days are long behind him.
 
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As said above it seems like you can never get rid of it. All you can do is maintain it. A question what is your ph mine is 6.6 in one tank and 7 in the other. I have more in the 6.6 tank. Does it grow in high ph levels? I use bleach on all hard items at a 4 to 1 mix soak them overnight remove rinse than let them sit for a month or 2. I have others I rotate. For plants I have been using the peroxide. I full a bowl with peroxide and submerge plant for 2-6 min. This has been working. But the last time I did my java fern destroyed it. It had been dipped around 5-6 times over the course of a year. Lighting on for around 6 hrs. Over the years I’ve tried snails, algae eaters and plecos but nothing works. Best I had was in a 200 gal it only grew on a peice of wood never spread. So does anyone have bba problems in high ph or in large tanks??
 
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