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Old 03-05-2003, 01:56 AM
Jeffrey Girard
 
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Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

General disclaimer: don't do what I did unless you understand the
consequences. Otherwise don't blame me if everything dies.

That said, I'd like to present my findings on how I successfully rid myself
of a troublesome and persistent blue green algae (cyanobacteria) problem.
What I've done is not new and is actually outlined quite well on The Krib.
In fact that's basically where I found out about the treatment and the
techniques to follow. I consider this to be a form of chemotherapy. It's
not a cure, in that the underlying causes are treated differently, but the
symptoms are certainly eliminated. And the true treatment, which relies on
patience and discipline, should be easier to stick to and have a higher
probability of success.

In a nutshell, I applied regular pharmaceutical hydrogen peroxide solution
(3% concentration) directly to the blue green algae. Within a day it was
dead and gone. With careful dosing, I had no mortalities or even any
visible distress in any of the fish, plants or invertebrates. And the
biological filter was largely unaffected.

My tank has a net volume of 190 liters (roughly 50 US gallons). It's a
moderately to heavily planted tank, with the bulk of the plants being
echinodorous and crypt varieties. There's also an anubias nana, some
alternathera reinekii and a giant aponogeton boivinianus. Livestock include
5 juvenile angel fish, 4 otoclinus, 6 Amano shrimp, 8 rummy nose tetra and a
pair of black mollies.

Substrate is a mix of Fluorite and Profile. There is no added nutrients in
the substrate. Fertilization is PMDD. Lighting is 175W metal halide bulb.
CO2 is from regulated 20lb tank. Biofiltration is from DIY fluidized bed
reactor; mechanical filtration is from Magnum 350 canister filter.

Water: pH = 6.5, KH, GH = 2.0, NO3 = 3-5 ppm. Zero ammonia or NO2.
Phosphate around 0.05 ppm. Iron tends to be unreadable (i.e. less than
0.01).

Test kits include: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, KH, GH, iron and
phosphate. I have duplicate test kits from different companies for nitrite,
nitrate, pH, KH, and GH. The iron and phosphate kits are from SeaChem (as
is the NO2, NO3 kit).

The first and longest outbreak of BGA (blue green algae) actually drove me
out of aquaria for two years. It had completely taken over the tank -
killed all the fish, all the plants and looked absolutely awful. It took
two years of looking at an empty tank to get me back into the hobby again
(I've been doing this since 1988).

Anyway, I recently set the tank up again. Everything was washed and
scrubbed. I was going to do it right. Did the fishless cycle. Had plants
growing. The whole 9 yards. Anyway, the BGA started in a few weeks after
getting the tank going again. Not much, but enough to be disheartening. I
vacuumed it away and that sort of did it for a while. But then it came back
once I added fish (for obvious reasons). Too much nutrients (esp.
phosphate). I immediately went on the offensive by cranking up the plant
growth. However, I added too many micronutrients (trying to get the iron at
the desired 0.1 ppm range) and caused a HUGE BGA outbreak. Granted, the
plants loved it, but so did the algae. I had to get things under control.
I did several massive water changes. Getting the water back into line was
important, but the BGA wasn't going away. I needed to shock it so that the
plants would be able to regain dominance in the tank.

I though about how to kill the BGA. Some have tried antibiotics, but I
didn't want to go there. I read about barley straw extract, and didn't want
to wait several weeks (hey, it's Cinco de Mayo tomorrow and we're having a
party for 40 guests. The tank's gotta look good and I only had a week to do
it in). Plus the consensus is that straw extract only works on new BGA
growth - not existing. I'm not sure if that's completely true, but the time
factor ruled it out anyway. While browsing the Krib, I read about hydrogen
peroxide. Actually I remember the discussions about it several years ago,
but never paid too much attention (didn't have to then).

There seemed to be two approaches when using H2O2. One is the "dose the
tank" method, the other was a spot treatment method. I know that H2O2 is a
very powerful oxidizer and can do great damage to the ecosystem in the tank.
I didn't want to kill my biofilter, the plants or the fish; just the BGA. I
elected to be cautious and go the spot treatment route. From information I
found on the web, it seemed like 150 ppm H2O2 concentration is considered a
high but not lethal dose for fish. I elected to keep the concentration at
about 25 ppm, mostly since I was trying this out for the first time and I
didn't want to loose my livestock.

Day 1: Took water test measurements. All OK. Shut off filter system.
Measured out 100 mL of 3% H2O2. Used an eyedropper to squirt peroxide
directly onto BGA. Let tank sit for 5 minutes w/o circulation. Turned on
filter and watched. The peroxide reacted w/ the BGA and produced oxygen
bubbles. It was like a catalyst, all of a sudden all the plants started
pearling much more than normal. That lasted about an hour. At no time did
any of the fish or shrimp seem affected.

Day 2: noticeable decline in BGA. Most is dead (grayish), roughly 10-20%
remaining. Shut off filter, and measured out 60
mL. Squirted peroxide on remaining BGA. Fish all doing well.

Day 3: BGA virtually gone. Literally dissolved. Yippee! Water tests:
slight rise in ammonia (0.25 ppm) and nitrite (0.3 ppm). Fish all ok
(shrimp and MTS too).

Day 4: BGA gone. Water test back to normal (0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 5 ppm
nitrate).

At no time did the concentration of H202 in the tank water exceed 25 ppm
(when you factor in the dilution of 100 mL of peroxide solution into 190 L).
There was a slight influence on the biological filter, but that recovered
quickly and completely. It's been a week, and there are only small
pea-sized balls of BGA here and there. Water quality is just where I want
it. All the fish are healthy and behaving normally. I continue to monitor
nutrient levels and attempt long term eradication of BGA via nutrient
balance, not chemotherapy.

My recommendation for using H2O2 for treating BGA: first, use a very small
amount and apply it directly to the algae (even if it's on a plant - that
seems to be perfectly fine to do). Shut off the filtration system so that
the peroxide stays "close" and concentrated on the BGA. It also allows for
the peroxide to be neutralized before it attacks the biological filter. I
preferred to treat the BGA over several days in small doses. I think this
helped preserve the ecology of the tank.

H2O2 dosing is not meant to remove the cause of BGA outbreak, but rather to
remove the living colonies and give the plants a chance to do their thing.
The cure is to get the lighting, fertilization and CO2 dosing in balance so
that the plants outcompete the BGA and keep it from being a nuisance.

Jeff in Raleigh, NC



  #2   Report Post  
Old 03-05-2003, 03:09 AM
Greg G.
 
Posts: n/a
Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

On Sat, 03 May 2003 00:48:06 GMT, "Jeffrey Girard"
wrote:

That said, I'd like to present my findings on how I successfully rid myself
of a troublesome and persistent blue green algae (cyanobacteria) problem.


Very informative report, and an idea I had drifting in the back of my
mind for a while. Just never had so severe an algae problem as to
follow through and document it - although I may try it on a few spots
of algae that are starting to infest my hairgrass. I was worried
about the plant's reaction to this treatment.

Thanks,
G

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Old 05-05-2003, 08:08 AM
Christopher
 
Posts: n/a
Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

Do you have a link to a picture of BGA, I'm interested in knowing what it
looks like, since everyone seems to deem it the SATAN of algaes. Also is
there nothing that will eat it, and did you ever consider UV steralization
to retard the spreading of it?

"Greg G." wrote in message
...
On Sat, 03 May 2003 00:48:06 GMT, "Jeffrey Girard"
wrote:

That said, I'd like to present my findings on how I successfully rid

myself
of a troublesome and persistent blue green algae (cyanobacteria) problem.


Very informative report, and an idea I had drifting in the back of my
mind for a while. Just never had so severe an algae problem as to
follow through and document it - although I may try it on a few spots
of algae that are starting to infest my hairgrass. I was worried
about the plant's reaction to this treatment.

Thanks,
G




  #4   Report Post  
Old 05-05-2003, 07:44 PM
Dave Millman
 
Posts: n/a
Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

Christopher wrote:

Do you have a link to a picture of BGA, I'm interested in knowing what it
looks like, since everyone seems to deem it the SATAN of algaes. Also is
there nothing that will eat it, and did you ever consider UV steralization
to retard the spreading of it?


BGA: Blue Green Algae-actually not algae at all, but Cyanobacteria. Usually
blue-green in color, it grows in sheets, ranging from small sheets that just
cover a leaf or a piece of gravel, enough to cover a leaf, to large sheets that
cover entire plants, sections of gravel or planes of glass. It is easily removed
by vacuuming, scraping or rubbing with your fingers. It stinks when you pull it
out into air.

BBA: Black Brush Algae-this is probably the satanic strain you are referring to.
Black, dark grey or dark green in color. Short tufts of hairs, up to about 1cm
in length. A big tuft can look like a pom-pom, or like a black dandelion seed
cluster before a kid blows on it. Does NOT remove easily-nearly impossible to
remove from plants withot damaging them.

Here is the best visual reference to algae types:

http://www.aquaticscape.com/articles/algae.htm

  #5   Report Post  
Old 06-05-2003, 06:20 AM
Eric Schreiber
 
Posts: n/a
Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

Dave Millman wrote:

Here is the best visual reference to algae types:

http://www.aquaticscape.com/articles/algae.htm


Thanks for the link Dave. Looks like my tank is sporting several
different kinds. Ah well, variety is good, I guess.


--
www.ericschreiber.com


  #6   Report Post  
Old 13-05-2003, 06:44 PM
Dave Millman
 
Posts: n/a
Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

Eric Schreiber wrote:

Dave Millman wrote:

Here is the best visual reference to algae types:

http://www.aquaticscape.com/articles/algae.htm


Thanks for the link Dave. Looks like my tank is sporting several
different kinds. Ah well, variety is good, I guess.


Most tanks do. You will eventually learn what triggers each in your
tank, which might be very different from my tank. For example, I don't
need an Iron test kit. If I see staghorn algae, Iron is low. Boosting it
back up eliminates the algae within days. I used to see more hair algae
when Iron was high, but not any more, probably because I have fewer
overall deficiencies now.

  #7   Report Post  
Old 17-07-2003, 08:43 PM
Christopher
 
Posts: n/a
Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

Do you have a link to a picture of BGA, I'm interested in knowing what it
looks like, since everyone seems to deem it the SATAN of algaes. Also is
there nothing that will eat it, and did you ever consider UV steralization
to retard the spreading of it?

"Greg G." wrote in message
...
On Sat, 03 May 2003 00:48:06 GMT, "Jeffrey Girard"
wrote:

That said, I'd like to present my findings on how I successfully rid

myself
of a troublesome and persistent blue green algae (cyanobacteria) problem.


Very informative report, and an idea I had drifting in the back of my
mind for a while. Just never had so severe an algae problem as to
follow through and document it - although I may try it on a few spots
of algae that are starting to infest my hairgrass. I was worried
about the plant's reaction to this treatment.

Thanks,
G




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Old 17-07-2003, 08:43 PM
Dave Millman
 
Posts: n/a
Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

Christopher wrote:

Do you have a link to a picture of BGA, I'm interested in knowing what it
looks like, since everyone seems to deem it the SATAN of algaes. Also is
there nothing that will eat it, and did you ever consider UV steralization
to retard the spreading of it?


BGA: Blue Green Algae-actually not algae at all, but Cyanobacteria. Usually
blue-green in color, it grows in sheets, ranging from small sheets that just
cover a leaf or a piece of gravel, enough to cover a leaf, to large sheets that
cover entire plants, sections of gravel or planes of glass. It is easily removed
by vacuuming, scraping or rubbing with your fingers. It stinks when you pull it
out into air.

BBA: Black Brush Algae-this is probably the satanic strain you are referring to.
Black, dark grey or dark green in color. Short tufts of hairs, up to about 1cm
in length. A big tuft can look like a pom-pom, or like a black dandelion seed
cluster before a kid blows on it. Does NOT remove easily-nearly impossible to
remove from plants withot damaging them.

Here is the best visual reference to algae types:

http://www.aquaticscape.com/articles/algae.htm

  #9   Report Post  
Old 17-07-2003, 08:43 PM
Eric Schreiber
 
Posts: n/a
Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

Dave Millman wrote:

Here is the best visual reference to algae types:

http://www.aquaticscape.com/articles/algae.htm


Thanks for the link Dave. Looks like my tank is sporting several
different kinds. Ah well, variety is good, I guess.


--
www.ericschreiber.com
  #10   Report Post  
Old 17-07-2003, 08:46 PM
Dave Millman
 
Posts: n/a
Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

Eric Schreiber wrote:

Dave Millman wrote:

Here is the best visual reference to algae types:

http://www.aquaticscape.com/articles/algae.htm


Thanks for the link Dave. Looks like my tank is sporting several
different kinds. Ah well, variety is good, I guess.


Most tanks do. You will eventually learn what triggers each in your
tank, which might be very different from my tank. For example, I don't
need an Iron test kit. If I see staghorn algae, Iron is low. Boosting it
back up eliminates the algae within days. I used to see more hair algae
when Iron was high, but not any more, probably because I have fewer
overall deficiencies now.



  #11   Report Post  
Old 04-08-2003, 05:17 PM
Registered User
 
First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Aug 2003
Location: Glasgow
Posts: 1
Default

This sounds like a better way to go with the BGA in my tank than using erythromycin - I only have small patches of it at the moment. I just did a small test patch and it's bubbling nicely. Weirdly, several of my cories seem to be trying to eat it

In my tank, quite a bit of the BGA is at the front between the substrate and the glass, which I gather is quite a common site for BGA. Do I just poke the dropper right down into the gravel to get to it, or are you only supposed to use the peroxide on the surface of the gravel?
  #12   Report Post  
Old 05-08-2003, 02:02 AM
 
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Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

Heck, why even bother.
Black the tank out for 3 days and be done with it.

Works every time.
See many old post on BGA/Cyano from me.
H2O2 works as a spot treatment.

UV's do NOT help, only the water passing through the UV will be
affected, not anything in the tank.

The genus is Oscillitoria, non heterocystic. Unless you plan on having
bubble like sterile procedure BGA will enter your tank again from the
air.
After a Volcanic eruption/severe forest fire, this same genus will
colonize the soil in roughly 20 days. It might take a bit longer being
inside in a house, but not that much.

Scaping the front edge of the gravel line is fine.
But generally if you have BGA along the gravel line, this means
there's some light coming in from outside the tank.

Add more KNO3 if you have BGA appearing, see my old post regarding
this. You cannot limit this algae by low PO4/NO3. It will laugh at
you.
Every single sample I have ever seen from a planted tank has had this
genus.

Don't bother testing for iron, the kit does not tell you what you need
to know, how much Fe your plants need. Even the 90$ Hach kit had
several issues.

Try this:
50% water change and a good algae scrub remove as much as you can.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of KNO3
Turn lights and CO2 off, increase surface movement. Drape
towels/Blnakets/trash bags etc over the tank so that no light gets in.
Wait 3 days.
Remove and turn CO2/light/reduce surface movement and add:
1/4 teaspoon of KNO3(maybe a tad more than 1/4)
1/2 teaspoon K2SO4
3 rice grains worth of KH2PO4
8-10mls of trace mix.

Add KNO3, KH2PO4, traces 3x a week.
You'll want to add around 20-30ppm of CO2. So at KH of 2, you'll shoot
for a pH of 6.3-6.4 or so. You may want to add more GH, MgSO4 and
CaCl2 are good for this, add about 1/4 teaspoon of CaCl2 and 1/16
teaspoon of MgSO4 after water change. CaCl2 can be found as pool
calcium hardness increaser.

Each dose of KNO3 will add about 6ppm of NO3 extra.
I do not trust NO3 test kits especially and I use a Lamott NO3 kits
which is reliable, but you might not want to spend this much on a kit.
PO4 BTW does not cause algae. I would have had algae for the last 15
years if so.

Rather than focusing on limiting algae, try growing the plants and
addressing their needs. When the plants don't grow well, something
else will, algae. So the focus should be on the plants.

Regards,
Tom Barr
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Old 05-08-2003, 02:02 AM
Jeffrey Girard
 
Posts: n/a
Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

Newtankgirl:
I'm the one who wrote the BGA chemotherapy piece. You can squirt the H2O2
directly into the gravel. You want to get the peroxide in contact with the
BGA. Peroxide is a very powerful oxidizing agent. It does very similar
things as bleach (but without the chlorine, obviously). The point of using
a dropper, as others have noted too, is to get the peroxide into intimate
contact with the BGA in a fairly undiluted state. It's not difficult, and
as long as you don't use too much, you really can't screw up.

My advice is to go slowly and treat a little at a time (say a few square
inches (*6.25-ish square centimeters).

Jeff
"newtankgirl" wrote in message
...

This sounds like a better way to go with the BGA in my tank than using
erythromycin - I only have small patches of it at the moment. I just
did a small test patch and it's bubbling nicely. Weirdly, several of my
cories seem to be trying to eat it

In my tank, quite a bit of the BGA is at the front between the
substrate and the glass, which I gather is quite a common site for BGA.
Do I just poke the dropper right down into the gravel to get to it, or
are you only supposed to use the peroxide on the surface of the gravel?


--
newtankgirl
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Old 05-08-2003, 09:02 AM
Cam
 
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Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

Can the blackout be done with the fish still in the tank?


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Old 05-08-2003, 11:02 AM
Tasslehoff
 
Posts: n/a
Default Hydrogen Peroxide: blue-green algae chemotherapy (long)

Anything bigger than 2cm or .78" can survive for 3 long nights quite
comfortably. I haven't got anything smaller than that in my 4' tank atm so
can't comment on smaller fish.

"Cam" wrote in message
...
Can the blackout be done with the fish still in the tank?






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