February Meeting

Sunday, February 27th, 2022 at 10:21 pm

At a special Sunday meeting, eleven people joined via Zoom to hear Bailin Shaw, of the Chicago Aquatic Plant Society, talk about algae. Every planted tank keeper has dealt with this nightmare!  Algae is ubiquitous, even “experts” have to deal with it. It can be controlled, but not fully eradicated. Bailin shared some strategies to control this annoyance.

What is algae? They are both unicellular and multicellular organisms in the kingdom protista. They posses chlorophyll-a and reproduce by either asexual cell division (simple algae) or other forms of reproduction (multicellular algae). They reproduce in stalk-like structures, called a thallus.

How does it get into a tank? They use the same nutrients as plants, but plants typically outcompete algae in a planted tank. However, if there is a nutrient imbalance, too much light, lack of flow, or too little CO2, algae can proliferate.

There are many types of algae and each one causes different problems and requires different treatment to control. Examples of algae: black brush/beard, diatom, hair/thread/fuzz, cladophore, blue green, green dust, green spot, pea soup, or staghorn.

Here’s a brief summary of the different types of algae, causes, and potential remedies.

  • Black brush: type of red algae, grows in clumps on leaves or hard surfaces
    • Mostly caused by insufficient CO2 or excess organics
    • Can be removed manually, by increasing CO2, increasing flow, or spot treat with hydrogen peroxide and add amano shrimp or Siamese algae eaters (after spot treating)
  • Blue green: gram-negative slime bacteria
    • Caused by low nitrogen, poor lighting/flow, or high organic leves
    • Remedied by dosing nitrates, blackout the tank (if plants are healthy), increase flow, add fast growing plants, spot treat with hydrogen peroxide
  • Cladophore: branching filamentous algae, intertwines hair grass and fine plants
    • Can be caused by low CO2 and nutrients, hard to control in healthy tanks
    • Can be removed manually, by increasing CO2, balanced nutrient dosing, spot treat with hydrogen peroxide, or add amano shrimp (after spot treating) 
  • Brown algae: coats surfaces
    • Caused by new tank, poor flow/lighting, or high silicates
    • Remedied by being patient, giving the tank time, increasing water changes, or adding otocinclus
  • Hair/Fuzz/Thread: wide variety of filamentous algae, can be hairlike, soft green, or long and fine
    • Caused by low CO2/nutrient levels, poor flow/maintenance, or from disrupted biological filtration/dead fish
    • Treated via manual removal, clean filter/increase maintenance, increase CO2, blackout the tank, or add mollies/amano shrimp
  • Green dust: spores that coat glass, easy to wipe off
    • Causes by low CO2, and seems to proliferate in healthy tanks
    • Remedies: increase CO2, remove with algae scraper, allow it to run its course (3-4 weeks), add dwarf bristle nose plecos (best choice), nerites, or otocinclus
  • Green spot: multicellular parenchymatous green algae. Grows in hard, circular spots
    • Caused by low phosphates, sometimes poor flow/low CO2
    • Can be treated with a razor/siphon, increase phosphates, increase CO2, or add nerites
  • Green water: free floating single cell protist with flagella
    • Caused by ammonia spokes, nutrient imbalance or low CO2,
    • Treated by balancing nutrients, 3-5 day blackout (if plants are healthy), diatom/UV filter, daphnia in breeding net, or life branch of willow leaf
  • Staghorn: short branching strands that look like horns, attaches to plants, equipment, and hardscape. grey/black and coarse
    • Caused by low CO2 or dirty tanks and high organics
    • Removed by increasing CO2 and balancing nutrients, remove manually, spot treat with hydrogen peroxide, or increase maintenance and clean filters

Finally… MARK YOUR CALENDARS! 2022 AGA Conference in Chicago, Illinois from September 29-October 2.