The battle of algae...

Discussion in 'Algae' started by Sean J, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. Sean J

    Sean J

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    So, we all face this battle. Fresh Water and Marines alike. But what I find interesting is the way in which we combat algae growth with marine tanks. There are a few approaches to doing this on the Salty side, but what I'm thinking, is why not take the same battle to Fresh Water as well?

    Firstly, removing Nutrients.

    There are many ways to remove excess nutrients in a Salt Water setup. I'm going to go through 4.

    Chemical:

    Chemical removal is usually the first step. Adding a product to remove Phosphates is generally the first step. So products like Chemi Pure Elite, Seachem Phosguard, Seachem Purigen and a few others, is a good first step. These products remove excess Phosphates that the algae would usually take up. Thus, eliminating the algae. There is a strange tendency in fishkeeping to not want to go the chemical route, but these products have been developed for this purpose. I'd never dose a chemical into the water column, but something that remains in the filter, which can easily be removed is a great idea.

    Biological:

    On a marine system there are also biological ways to remove algae. Like making an Algae Turf Scrubber. This is basically a separate place, remote from your tank, to actually physically grow algae, so that it removes excess nutrients and stops algae growing in your Display Tank. It is incredibly effective. The basic principal is that it provides a place, with an adequate light source to grow the algae. All you do is clean the screen every once in a while, and boom, excess nutrients are exported out of your system.

    Secondly, you can actually grow Macro Algaes in your system to remove excess nutrients. We have a number of them in the marine world, but I'm not sure of any "not so invasive" ones for fresh water. It's kind of the same principal of The Scrubber, but the algae actually grows in your tank or sump. It's better for it to be in the sump though, but on Nano tanks, there is usually no sump. There are actually very pretty varieties in the marine world.

    Thirdly, bacteria. Adding a variety of Bacteria strains to your tank to help maintain the water quality. The bacteria use up the excess nutrients, thus clearing out them pesky nitrates. Works very well as well. Products like Seachem Stability, MicrobeLift Special Blend, Brightwells MB7, Prodibio, etc... These products provide multiple strains of bacteria to utilize the excess nutrients in the tank. They work really well, and contrary to popular fresh water belief, they are to be used in a routine maintenance schedule to ensure that you have enough different strains of bacteria in your tank. They are also a great way of eliminating Cyanobacteria or Blue Green Algae from your tank. The bacteria overpopulate the tank and leave no more nutrients for the cyanobacteria to feed on, so the cyano starts dying off. It's not an overnight fix, but it certainly works.

    Also, adding fish which eat pesky algae could also work, but once the algae is gone, then what? What if they are finniky eaters and don't accept prepared foods? Then you could run into problems. Honestly, how many fish REALLY do a good job of clearing out algae?

    Mechanical:

    There is one item in particular on a marine system which we could not really do without. That's a skimmer. A skimmer removed DOC's (Dissolved Organic Compounds) from the water column. This is a mechanical way of removing excess nutrients like fish poop and other waste products. I heard a while ago, that skimmers do exist for Fresh Water tanks, but I don't know how good they are to use. There is one thing which could act like a skimmer does, but it's not mechanical filtration, which brings me on to the fourth point:

    WATER CHANGES:

    It's probably the most important part of the whole process. Water changes are necessary for one major reason: The export of excess nutrients in a closed system. But believe it or not, water changes on a marine tank, are not as big as on fresh water tanks. Perhaps that is for cost cutting, but maybe also to preserve some sort of balance. What a 50% water change will do for you, is to remove 50% of the excess water column waste build up in your system. If you do a good gravel clean, it will also remove the excess undissolved organic compounds before they enter your water column, and thus polluting your water. So you will prevent excess nutrient spikes in your water.

    So all these things you've just done, will drop your Nitrates and Phosphates to 0ppm. Well, hopefully. This is a good thing. Or is it?

    Now you run into a problem with Fresh water tanks. In Particular, Plated Tanks. The plants also need the nutrients to grow. So now you have to add some nutrients back to the tank. But that is a good thing! Now that you have your base level of nutrients in the tank, you can work out EXACTLY how much you need to add back into the water column! This is a brilliant thing! You can work out a schedule that adds the correct amount of plant nutrients at the correct time. Plants should grow like mad, without the pesky algae growth. Provided that you did the calculations correctly of coarse!

    But then the nutrients start spiraling out of control again? One water change, fixes that issue almost immediately.

    With a combination of the above, I really believe that the Algae Battle could be won, by each and every Fish Keeper out there... Marine and Fresh Water alike.

    Thanks for your time...

    Sean:mad:
     
    imran sheik likes this.

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