Algae discussion: Periodic Black out's? - Page 3 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #21 of 35 Old 02-06-2010, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
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I know exactly what you mean and agree.

But forgive me for giggling a lil here - Its just so cute in the first part with the everything, something, other things....its a cute way of explaining it ... just careful when you reply to a algae thread how you word THINGS and don't say "Your thing is out of balance with the other thing"

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post #22 of 35 Old 02-06-2010, 05:32 PM
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I know exactly what you mean and agree.

But forgive me for giggling a lil here - Its just so cute in the first part with the everything, something, other things....its a cute way of explaining it ... just careful when you reply to a algae thread how you word THINGS and don't say "Your thing is out of balance with the other thing"
Sorry--trying to be tooooo general there. I had to map "things" out with my own tank to believe Byron's advice to me about my own algae issue here. Once it was on paper like that, everything totally clicked and I finally understood.

Stephanie's updated tank profiles:
29 gallon 10 gallon
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post #23 of 35 Old 02-06-2010, 05:40 PM
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post #24 of 35 Old 02-06-2010, 06:23 PM
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I had started to respond to the scenarios set out by Stephanie and then got so muddled... It may be easier to set out general comments hopefully covering the specifics in Natalie's #19 and Stephanie's #20 posts.

First, we're considering algae itself, not cyanobacteria which is something different (organics issue) nor diatoms which I believe is unique and thus requires its own handling. True algae, be it green, hair, brush. Second, we are considering algae in excess, as opposed to normal algae that will be in all tanks.

I am not of the view that algae appears if there is too much of a particular nutrient. I believe it only appears if there is more light than the plants can use. I went back to my discussions with Tom Barr and will excerpt this comment from him:
Also, as with any sustainable goal with aquariums, LESS LIGHT is the key.
Less light= less algae growth, slower plant growth, less CO2 demand which in turn means less nutrient demand etc.
Light is not the only reason algae grows, but light is the reason it grows to excess. I think it would be unusual for algae to be in excess if the nutrients were present beyond the level that could be assimilated by the plants in the given light. If the nutrients are all at the level required by the light (intensity and duration), the plants will use all this to the minimum factor, light in this scenario. Having excess carbon or excess iron is I think unlikely to cause excess algae if there is not excess light.

If carbon (CO2) is the limiting factor, the plants can't use the light any longer and algae will. However, the whole point behind my approach is keeping the light minimal so this situation will never arise. There is an abundance of CO2 in our aquaria from different sources, fish and biological. I have evidence of this in my own spare plant tank. There are no fish in this tank, and it has been running with plants culled from the other tanks since last July. I add Flourish once a week, and do a 40% water change once a week. The plants are growing as well or very nearly as well as in the fish tanks. The plants are certainly not falling apart as one might expect if they had no CO2. So it must be coming from something or somewhere. And it is; mainly I suspect from the water changes. I'll leave that topic for another thread, the detrimental effect of water changes.

[Has that caught anyone...?] Other nutrients are the same; any excess within reason will not result in algae unless the light is greater than what the plants can use. Unless light is present, beyond what the plants need in balance with the nutrients, algae doesn't stand a chance.

There is also the issue of plants being able to store some nutrients when they are in excess of what the plant immediately needs. Some plants are better at this than others, and with varying nutrients. The danger with pushing too many nutrients in the tank is not the algae (which again needs light beyond what the plants can use) but the detrimental effect on some plants by some nutrients.

Reducing nutrients is the last thing that should be done to combat algae, to the point of never being an option. Without sufficient nutrients, plants can't use the light, and the algae will only get worse, as Diana Walstad points out with examples in her book.

Are we getting closer to grasping all this?

Byron.

P.S. Natalie, I am going to post a new thread with some photos from yesterday, probably in the Freshwater Aquarium section, as I intend to use them as examples of light requirements for fish in general and also as ideas for aquascaping which is often asked.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]

Last edited by Byron; 02-06-2010 at 06:29 PM.
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post #25 of 35 Old 02-06-2010, 07:01 PM
B there's no way you could have muddle my post even more

I think the whole point of my post was that an excess of nutrients is utilized by algae if, due to a limiting factor other than light, light becomes excessive as well. The relative "optimum amounts" of anything drops with the limiting factor, and light has to follow suit. Light IS the factor in excess if nutrients are carbon are limited, no matter what the carbon source. Not that the excess nutrients are the problem, the fact that they are able to be assimilated because of the presence of algae-feeding light is the problem.

Good summary:
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[Has that caught anyone...?] Other nutrients are the same; any excess within reason will not result in algae unless the light is greater than what the plants can use. Unless light is present, beyond what the plants need in balance with the nutrients, algae doesn't stand a chance.

The point about nutrient storage by plants is interesting and shows how in nature no algebraic equation is going to capture the whole picture.

Stephanie's updated tank profiles:
29 gallon 10 gallon
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post #26 of 35 Old 02-28-2010, 09:38 AM
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Plants recognize all light and use it to varying degrees and in various ways. It may not be to photosynthesis (grow), but other processes occur in for example dim room light instead of total darkness. Example: weeds growing along the roadside. It has been noted that the weeds growing at the base of an incandescent street light did not flower and seed by the autumn, and then froze when the first frosts came because they were out of sync. The same species of weeds where there was no streetlight flowered and seeded in early Autumn as intended, and lost their leaves by winter. The reason was that the red spectrum of light in the incandescent street light affected the plants' internal metabolism and caused the cycle to be thrown off, to the plant's detriment. I won't go into this whole complex issue of red light and how plants use it, but the example shows how small unobtrusive (to us) issues can greatly impact our plants in the aquarium.
I am probably the last person you all thought was reading this thread with great interest. Your discussions have such a strong application to the marine hobby that i am always interested. That being said, Byron, I have a question. If I understand correct, you are suggesting that the use of moon lights or even indirect light at night is detrimental to plant growth. My first thought is the moon shining bright in the night sky. So does the moon help to limit unwanted growth in nature? Can you elaborate further?

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The plants are certainly not falling apart as one might expect if they had no CO2. So it must be coming from something or somewhere. And it is; mainly I suspect from the water changes. I'll leave that topic for another thread, the detrimental effect of water changes.
I would enjoy seeing this "another thread," if I am understanding correct that you think water changes can be detrimental to plant growth. Is this related to nutrient balance and limitation? Again, more thoughts would be wonderful.
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post #27 of 35 Old 02-28-2010, 11:26 AM
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I am probably the last person you all thought was reading this thread with great interest. Your discussions have such a strong application to the marine hobby that i am always interested. That being said, Byron, I have a question. If I understand correct, you are suggesting that the use of moon lights or even indirect light at night is detrimental to plant growth. My first thought is the moon shining bright in the night sky. So does the moon help to limit unwanted growth in nature? Can you elaborate further?
We must be careful to separate what occurs in the aquarium from what occurs in nature. We both/all know that the aquarium is not a simple microcosm of nature; in the very small confines of an aquarium the processes that occur in nature are often greatly amplified with varying results. So what may occur in nature is not necessarily the same as what will occur in the aquarium under similar conditions such as a "moon" light.

Just as the sun does not directly penetrate many of the fish and plant-bearing streams or bogs in the Amazon, neither does moonlight. If sunlight is diffused by overhanging vegetation so must moonlight be. At the same time, placing a moon light over an aquarium is adding more "light" than one might expect due to the relatively small area and the intensity of such a light.

Fish and plants in the wild receive 10 hours of complete darkness every day of the year. Peter Hiscock, a trained biologist, states this, and says in the aquarium plants must receive total darkness for 10 hours. Plants use this to rest, as do fish of course. While I cannot say that a "moon light" would be sufficient to cause photosynthesis (I suspect not), it is sufficient to cause a change in the plant's perception. I remember reading some time back about car lights shining through the window having an impact on aquarium plants and fish. I know that when I have shone a flashlight into a darkened aquarium [not a regular thing, I did it to check up on my Tatia perugiae the first week I had them as they are strictly nocturnal and I wanted to ensure they were settling in and feeding at night] it only takes a few seconds for the fish to react, and that is not much of a light.

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I would enjoy seeing this "another thread," if I am understanding correct that you think water changes can be detrimental to plant growth. Is this related to nutrient balance and limitation? Again, more thoughts would be wonderful.
I'm almost afraid to start it. This came out of a discussion I had with Tom Barr, who is an advocate of few if any water changes, along the lines of Diana Walstad; she writes of doing one pwc every six months, no more. Tom's reason has to do with CO2 levels, that increase substantially with a water change (there is considerable dissolved CO2 in tap water, which is why one gets all those tiny bubbles every time, and why you let it sit for 24 hours to allow the CO2 to dissipate out before checking the pH of tap water). In our discussions, he noted that with all my floating plants I have a slightly different situation and water changes are less of an issue because the floating plants use a lot of CO2. There's quite a complex equation in this, that will need a thread to fully explore, but this is the gist of it.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #28 of 35 Old 02-28-2010, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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I am probably the last person you all thought was reading this thread with great interest. Your discussions have such a strong application to the marine hobby that i am always interested. That being said, Byron, I have a question. If I understand correct, you are suggesting that the use of moon lights or even indirect light at night is detrimental to plant growth. My first thought is the moon shining bright in the night sky. So does the moon help to limit unwanted growth in nature? Can you elaborate further?



I would enjoy seeing this "another thread," if I am understanding correct that you think water changes can be detrimental to plant growth. Is this related to nutrient balance and limitation? Again, more thoughts would be wonderful.

Interesting - So you're saying (and excuse my dim question but I have nooooo SW knowledge as you know) what makes our algae issues thrive/ develop is the same trigger points in SW? Do you have the same kinda algae in SW?

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post #29 of 35 Old 02-28-2010, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
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I'm almost afraid to start it. This came out of a discussion I had with Tom Barr, who is an advocate of few if any water changes, along the lines of Diana Walstad; she writes of doing one pwc every six months, no more. Tom's reason has to do with CO2 levels, that increase substantially with a water change (there is considerable dissolved CO2 in tap water, which is why one gets all those tiny bubbles every time, and why you let it sit for 24 hours to allow the CO2 to dissipate out before checking the pH of tap water). In our discussions, he noted that with all my floating plants I have a slightly different situation and water changes are less of an issue because the floating plants use a lot of CO2. There's quite a complex equation in this, that will need a thread to fully explore, but this is the gist of it.

I'll start one Don't know much about T Barr's approach but Diana's and I find it very interesting....Maybe another experiment ahead of me after lowering the lights now who know's

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post #30 of 35 Old 02-28-2010, 01:06 PM
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Interesting - So you're saying (and excuse my dim question but I have nooooo SW knowledge as you know) what makes our algae issues thrive/ develop is the same trigger points in SW? Do you have the same kinda algae in SW?
Our reef tanks and your plant tanks are directly related and experience a lot of the same problems. The terms are different, but at the end of the day we are dealing with the same stuff. Hair algae is common, but we also have all sorts of other algae problems to deal with, and some complicated problems that occur when phosphates get high in a high pH environment.

For the record, I have yet to do a water change on my 180 FOWLR tank set up in May 2009. I have always felt water changes are dramatically over pushed and have very little practical purpose in certain environments.
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