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Any aquarists in the house? #5239519 10/14/19 03:39 PM
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Mad_Hatter Offline OP
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Wondering if anyone here keeps freshwater aquarium and battled black beard algae? (the fuzzy black variety)...Aside from rehoming the fish and nuking the tank with bleach (which I'm reluctant to do), are there any OTC/DIY remedies? I have it and it keeps coming back...it's a pretty darn hardy variety. I've tried Tetra and Top Fin algae treatment but neither seems to work. I picked up a couple black Molly's because they supposedly eat algae and they do pick at it but it's hardly getting rid of the algae.

Any ideas?

Last edited by Mad_Hatter; 10/14/19 03:41 PM.
Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: Mad_Hatter] #5239522 10/14/19 03:43 PM
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Rehoming the fish and a good bleach soak for the tank should be the quickest and easiest.

How often do you do a water change? When you do what percentage and do you clean your sand? Do you use an under gravel filter?


Last edited by JohnnyJohnson; 10/14/19 03:45 PM.

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Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: Mad_Hatter] #5239528 10/14/19 03:56 PM
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Yeah, it's a tough one. Some plecos, snails and inverts will nibble on it if times are tough. Other than that, manual removal along with water changes should clear it.

Black beard algae is most commonly caused by having the lights on the tank on for too long. Excess nutrients in the water column will do it too (feeding too much, not enough water changes).

I keep my tank lights plugged into lamp times and don't keep them on for more than 8hrs/day at most. 3 of 4 of my tanks are loaded with live plants.

In all the years I've kept tanks/fish, I've never added anything chemical-wise to battle algae. Adding livestock to try to deal with it often makes it worse because you are increasing the bio load in the tank by adding more critters.

Last edited by JTK; 10/14/19 04:01 PM.

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Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: Mad_Hatter] #5239530 10/14/19 03:58 PM
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What type of pump are you running? what size tank?


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Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: Mad_Hatter] #5239536 10/14/19 04:06 PM
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I dont have one now. But when i did, i ran a penguin bio wheel. Turns the water over and aerates it well.Holds beneficial bacterial on the wheel. I did not use an undergravel filter, but i did use a hand held siphon vacuum to clean the gravel, and do a water change at the same time. Never had a algae problem. Dont' run the lights at night, dont have the tank in bright daylight.

$20 amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Marineland-P...+bio+wheel&qid=1571090406&sr=8-4
[Linked Image from images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com]

$5.00 amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Python-Pro-C...gravel+vac&qid=1571090462&sr=8-9
[Linked Image from images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com]

Last edited by spasm3; 10/14/19 04:08 PM.

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Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: Mad_Hatter] #5239538 10/14/19 04:10 PM
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Mad_Hatter Offline OP
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Ok...

- admittedly I don't do enough water changes. I got stuck on using that Tetra water maintenance stuff that supposedly allows you to go long periods without changes.

- I don't have the lights on timers. I just flick them on in morning and off PM.

- I've got 2 filters running. A Penguin bio wheel rated for 30gl (my tank is a 20 tall) and a in tank Top Fin corner filter rated for 80gph but I dial it down as the Bettas don't like too much water movement at the top.

- no under gravel filter; haven't used one since I was a kid.. you think that might help?

- like the water changes I've not been the best about filtering the gravel.. maybe that's where an under gravel filter could help???

- yeah.. adding the 2 Molly's threw off the balance and the tank had to cycle again. That's why I'm reluctant to bleach everything... I'd have to cycle all over again.

Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: Mad_Hatter] #5239545 10/14/19 04:16 PM
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I use an API master test kit and both my nitrites and nitrates are in the safe range.. with the nitrates at 0ppm and nitrites in the "normal" zone.. can't remember the ppm's for that. (nitrites are the less toxic one's, right?)

I have had a problem with alkalinity and pH. Which is weird because I have hard water (GH)..how can I have consistent problems with alkalinity and pH with hard water? Shouldn't the Cal/mag buffer?? Or is it not "available"?

Can pH/alkalinity problem be the source of my ongoing algae issues?

Last edited by Mad_Hatter; 10/14/19 04:16 PM.
Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: spasm3] #5239548 10/14/19 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by spasm3
I dont have one now. But when i did, i ran a penguin bio wheel. Turns the water over and aerates it well.Holds beneficial bacterial on the wheel. I did not use an undergravel filter, but i did use a hand held siphon vacuum to clean the gravel, and do a water change at the same time. Never had a algae problem. Dont' run the lights at night, dont have the tank in bright daylight.

$20 amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Marineland-P...+bio+wheel&qid=1571090406&sr=8-4
[Linked Image from images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com]

$5.00 amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Python-Pro-C...gravel+vac&qid=1571090462&sr=8-9
[Linked Image from images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com]

That's similiar to the filter i have although the bio wheel is garbage..it gets loaded up with that slime and stops spinning. I got tired of replacing it so I ditched it. I need to invest in the siphon. I used to just stir things up before using a pitcher to change the water. The tanks nowhere near a window so it only gets the light from the hood (a CFL) and diffused ambient light.

Can light spectrum (a CFL for energy savings) contribute to the algae growth? Never thought of that until now...

Last edited by Mad_Hatter; 10/14/19 04:23 PM.
Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: Mad_Hatter] #5239550 10/14/19 04:22 PM
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spasm3 Offline
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I think changing water and vacuuming the gravel will help a lot. I never used and under gravel filter, i just stirred the gravel with the siphon , in to a bucket. Took about 5 minutes, removed a lot of debris, i did this once a week removing at least 3-4 gallons and replacing.

Last edited by spasm3; 10/14/19 04:23 PM.

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Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: Mad_Hatter] #5239600 10/14/19 05:25 PM
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4WD Offline
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Had tanks for years - all big ones given away and just a couple 10 gallon now. Have always run both under gravel and circulation filter.
Use a catfish, an algae eater, and a couple snails - other fish are barbs of a couple type. No real plants.
Go a year between cleaning the tank - but swapping/adding about 3 gallons of distilled water/month - and a couple of the drops for nitrates and bio-business.

Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: Mad_Hatter] #5239607 10/14/19 05:40 PM
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JTK Offline
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Originally Posted by Mad_Hatter
Ok...

- admittedly I don't do enough water changes. I got stuck on using that Tetra water maintenance stuff that supposedly allows you to go long periods without changes.

- I don't have the lights on timers. I just flick them on in morning and off PM.



Those are two problems right there. Too much lighting, too much nutrients to feed algae.

Nitrites are toxic to fish and if you are able to read them with your API master test kit, your biological cycle is not complete. A healthy established tank should produce nothing but nitrates and the PPM of nitrates will creep up daily between your water changes. I don't allow nitrates to exceed 20ppm in my tanks. I tend to do weekly ~75% water changes. One of my tanks can go every 2 weeks. Excessive nitrates will eventually make the fish unable to fight off illness. Not changing enough water and just topping off will eventually skew the dissolved solids in the water column to the point the pH will crash and kill everything quickly. This is another reason why regular water changes are important. It will keep your tank's water parameters in line with your tap water.

I hate bio-wheel hang-on-back filters. AquaClear is a much better option with rinsable sponge media.

Last edited by JTK; 10/14/19 05:42 PM.

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Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: Mad_Hatter] #5239609 10/14/19 05:41 PM
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SirTanon Offline
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Originally Posted by Mad_Hatter
Originally Posted by spasm3
I dont have one now. But when i did, i ran a penguin bio wheel. Turns the water over and aerates it well.Holds beneficial bacterial on the wheel. I did not use an undergravel filter, but i did use a hand held siphon vacuum to clean the gravel, and do a water change at the same time. Never had a algae problem. Dont' run the lights at night, dont have the tank in bright daylight.

$20 amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Marineland-P...+bio+wheel&qid=1571090406&sr=8-4
[Linked Image from images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com]

That's similiar to the filter i have although the bio wheel is garbage..it gets loaded up with that slime and stops spinning. I got tired of replacing it so I ditched it.

I have one of those exact filters on one of my tanks. IMHO, it's a very good filter, but you're right about the bio-wheel. On that filter, and my others, I have done some modifications.. some call it "hot rodding" the filter. I toss the cartridge that comes with it and instead load it up with a combination of:
Ceramic bio-rings. I use two types: Fluval External Power Filter Hex rings and Fluval 'U' Biomax. These bio-rings house a huge amount of beneficial bacteria.
Reticulated filter foam. I am using Aquaclear 30 and Aquaclear 20 foam inserts, which come in 3-packs for a great price.. but there are lots of other options. Also houses a ton of beneficial bacteria.
and some finer bonded filter material to finish/polish the water. Marineland makes the MarineLand PA0100 -312-square inch- Bonded Pad which can be cut to fit.

I also have an older Walmart "Regent" filter on my 27 gallon Hex tank.. both that tank and the Regent filter were bought used... i had my doubts about the filter, but after hot-rodding it, it works amazingly well and holds a TON of beneficial bacteria, which is what you really want. Heck, a properly hot-rodded filter will easily hold 5 to 10 times the amount of beneficial bacteria that the bio-wheel can.

On both of them, I have also put a filter pre-sponge on the intake to further boost both filtering efficiency and biological filtration. I got them in this 8-pack for $4.

Something else to consider is a quality air driven sponge filter. I use these AquaPapa filters which also include additional biological filtration ceramic balls. I buy them in 2-packs, but they are also available individually. Just a little air flow from an air pump moves lots of water, and also provides aeration.
[Linked Image from images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com]

Originally Posted by Mad_Hatter
I need to invest in the siphon. I used to just stir things up before using a pitcher to change the water. The tanks nowhere near a window so it only gets the light from the hood (a CFL) and diffused ambient light.

Can light spectrum (a CFL for energy savings) contribute to the algae growth? Never thought of that until now...

It can.. different wavelengths definitely can trigger different behaviors and growth rates in plants, etc.. but in this case, I'd say it's more the AMOUNT and DURATION of light.


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Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: Mad_Hatter] #5239676 10/14/19 06:36 PM
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I've had great success with targeted peroxide treatments and tank blackouts. Only fish I species readily available I know of that will eat BBA is the true siamese algae eater (Crossocheilus siamensis)

Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: JTK] #5239698 10/14/19 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by JTK

Those are two problems right there. Too much lighting, too much nutrients to feed algae.

Nitrites are toxic to fish and if you are able to read them with your API master test kit, your biological cycle is not complete. A healthy established tank should produce nothing but nitrates and the PPM of nitrates will creep up daily between your water changes. I don't allow nitrates to exceed 20ppm in my tanks. I tend to do weekly ~75% water changes. One of my tanks can go every 2 weeks. Excessive nitrates will eventually make the fish unable to fight off illness. Not changing enough water and just topping off will eventually skew the dissolved solids in the water column to the point the pH will crash and kill everything quickly. This is another reason why regular water changes are important. It will keep your tank's water parameters in line with your tap water.

I hate bio-wheel hang-on-back filters. AquaClear is a much better option with rinsable sponge media.

I may have gotten the nitrate/nitrites things mixed up. My test kit normally registers zero of the bad one and a few ppm of the less harmful one. That one usually registers in the safe range of ppm like you mentioned. It's not a lot of ppm.. maybe something like 20 as you mentioned. I have had the bad one spike on me before if say a fish dies and I don't notice it for a few days or the fish get overfed, sometimes my daughter will drop some food in to "play" with the fish. She likes how they come to the top and nibble on her finger and she can "pet" them.😂

Yeah, I'm not to fond of the non-replenishable (one and done) filter media, the cost adds up. I've thought about ditching it and seeing if I can get a large piece of that washable sponge media you're talking about and trim it to fit. Just never got around to it..

I think I'm gonna ditch the Tetra water maintenance stuff (are you familiar with it?) and go back to water changes. TBH, I started using it because I just got lazy about the water changes. Funny thing is I usually have clear water for the most part, so can it still be cycling? The only time it gets cloudy is when I overfeed.. it's a sign that I am and need to hold back on the feedings.

I've got a couple extra of those smart home plugs I use for living room lamps. They're connected to the Alexa ecosystem I have going. I can set them up on a timer basis so that will help control the light time. Do you guys think it's better to run an old fashioned tungsten lamp as opposed to a CFL??

I haven't really considered using a under gravel filter or the sponge filter that SirTannon suggested because I didn't want the sound of a pump. In the old days pumps were pretty loud but maybe they've gotten quieter.. anyone have a recommendation on a quiet air pump?

But as to treating/killing the algae it sounds like there's no direct stuff to do it... just kinda address what's causing it to grow (light, water quality etc)?

Here's a pic of the tank..I recently moved the plants most covered with the algae to the opposite side of the tank (to the left in the pic). If you look closely you can see the black brim on the plants, that's the algae.

Also, any ideas on why I have such a hard time maintaining pH around 7? Both of the alkalinity and pH like to drop off and the pH settles around 6.2'ish usually.. which isn't horrible for some of my fish like the Molly's (iirc prefer brackish water) Betta (I understand they prefer a slightly acidic water?) but the Cory's and Platty's I think prefer a more neutral pH. So I've been trying to keep it around 7 but no lower than say an upper 6. Wonder if the tap water i add to top off is acidic, never tested it??🤔

Anywho..I appreciate the advice. I've got a couple things I can change up.

[Linked Image]

Re: Any aquarists in the house? [Re: Mad_Hatter] #5239783 10/14/19 08:44 PM
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