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Algae discussion: Periodic Black out's?

This is a discussion on Algae discussion: Periodic Black out's? within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Originally Posted by iamntbatman Well for one thing, he has fairly low lighting levels, below what plants would probably receive in full sunlight (though ...

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Algae discussion: Periodic Black out's?
Old 02-06-2010, 08:11 AM   #11
 
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Originally Posted by iamntbatman View Post
Well for one thing, he has fairly low lighting levels, below what plants would probably receive in full sunlight (though this makes sense; plants growing in a forest stream probably wouldn't be exposed to full sunlight anyway due to the forest canopy).

More importantly, though, he has a ton of floating plants, which do a lot when it comes to shading the non-floating plants in his tank. Yet they thrive, showing that we don't have to recreate "full, direct sunlight" conditions for the plants on the floors of our tanks in order to have them grow and thrive.
Oh you mean dim lite; not cloudy...I was thinking cloudy like B. Bloom etc....

Granted 2 outta 4 tanks of mine don't have the floating plants; but they're sure dim; specially if you look at the Tetra tank and the shrimp farms having t5's in there and less then 0.5wpg with them; but it works for my plants, my eyes and most important my fishy
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Old 02-06-2010, 08:15 AM   #12
 
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Would it then not make sense in order to mimic that in our tank (and possibly for algae prevention) if on/off randomly we have a black out day; does ferts more random then on the clock each & every week, twice a week?

A fish tank is all about balance and the one's out there that had tanks for a while know exactly what I'm talking about with this balance. In nature this balance is achieved by other influencing factors such as named above; but we do not copy cat that on our tanks - Why not if out in the rivers that works plenty well?
Maybe I phrased the OP too poorly...the question wasn't primarily about battling algae (which I've now done plenty off in the 55 to get it where its at now and would appreciate if I'm done with it).

My "main wondering" was about being less on a schedule with lights and ferts; less "on time" and more natural.
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:50 AM   #13
 
Algae is usually caused from phosphate. I recommend to remove it either using a phosphate removal media or use RO water instead. You can buy off RO water from eBy for $50. Just make sure to reduce how long you turn off the light.
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Old 02-06-2010, 11:13 AM   #14
 
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As far as being "more natural", I think regularity is pretty natural. Looking in terms of seasonal, like mean harri mentioned about seasonal debris from different plants and everything, breaking down maybe not the same day every year but in the same order and routine. And in terms of daily, even if there is cloud cover or an occasional rainstorm (or frequent rainstorm since we're talking the tropics), even dark days have uv rays shining through no matter how it looks to our eyes.

I don't think it matters what our schedule is as much as having the same "routine".

I don't know, maybe I still don't understand the OP : ) This was just what popped in my head.
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Old 02-06-2010, 11:24 AM   #15
 
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Algae is usually caused from phosphate. I recommend to remove it either using a phosphate removal media or use RO water instead. You can buy off RO water from eBy for $50. Just make sure to reduce how long you turn off the light.
The OP is not about Alage removal. And not all algae types are caused souly by phosphate and *just like that* removed with RO and I'd be careful with the RO suggestion to use pure RO in tanks to battle algae if you don't know what fish are house in someone's tank that can be a pretty devastating suggestion to someone's tank
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Old 02-06-2010, 11:26 AM   #16
 
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As far as being "more natural", I think regularity is pretty natural. Looking in terms of seasonal, like mean harri mentioned about seasonal debris from different plants and everything, breaking down maybe not the same day every year but in the same order and routine. And in terms of daily, even if there is cloud cover or an occasional rainstorm (or frequent rainstorm since we're talking the tropics), even dark days have uv rays shining through no matter how it looks to our eyes.

I don't think it matters what our schedule is as much as having the same "routine".

I don't know, maybe I still don't understand the OP : ) This was just what popped in my head.
Well as far as the rainstorm/ cloud day I think our dear power company and their ancient power lines out here sure help me "achieve" that one during the winter days to have a "cloud" day hanging over my tanks with the lights being out

Yea I was just really wondering as far as lights our every once in a while rather then scheduled 24/7 and the ferts matter etc....
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Old 02-06-2010, 11:35 AM   #17
 
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Byron with all due respect I have to disagree there! Algae is promoted by a mixture of matters such as poor water quality; waste; no nutrition or too much nutrition, Levels of CO2, and yes also too much/ too little light.

It is fatal in my opinion and my own personal experience in that area to fall for the idea that algae is solely a result of inadequate light only; that is simply not the fact.
I was in a hurry yesterday, having to catch the train into Vancouver, and didn't give this the full attention I should. I see Stephanie in post #10 has caught what I was getting at, so I won't repeat all that. All things being equal, it is light and only light that creates abnormal algae issues. Without light algae can't exist because it is just a plant, and if the nutrients balance the light for the plants' needs, then excess light itself with spur algae. Which is why so many say light should always be the limiting factor. Hope that's a bit clearer. B.
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Old 02-06-2010, 12:26 PM   #18
 
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There have been some very credible points made by several members in this thread. Iamntbatman came close to something that I'm going to explore further, and that is the true conditions in the tropical rainforests. I'll reference my comments to the Amazon basin, since that is what I am most familiar with from my 20 years of research and fish/plant aquaria.

One very important point to understand: most of us want planted aquaria that bear no resemblance whatsoever to any stream or lake in the tropical rainforest with respect to the number and variety and extent of the growth of the plants. This has several aspects. We want thicker plant growth than in a typical stream; we want more luxuriant plant growth than will ever be found in nature; we combine more species in a very small space (the aquarium) than would ever be next to each other in nature and often not in the same river system; and to achieve all this, we have to provide more/different light and nutrients. Then, by doing this, we encourage and promote something that rarely if ever occurs in nature--algae competing with the plants.

If you are luck enough to have been on expeditions to the Amazon [no, I haven't] or have seen any of the many nature guides and videos that show the underwater aquascapes that our fish call home, you must notice that there are few if any aquatic plants in most of them. There are exceptions: the Rio Negro and Rio Guapore systems have more aquatic plants than most any other system in the Amazon basin. And by aquatic plants, I mean plants actually growing in the river/stream/creek as submersed vegetation. When we think of Amazon aquatic plants, for most of us the swords (Echinodorus) come to mind. But most all of the species of Echinodorus are bog plants, not aquatic plants; they spend six months emersed, when they flower and reproduce, and six months submersed during the rainy or flood season. They adapt well to fully-submersed life, and will grow for years; I have one Echinodorus macrophyllus that is well beyond 12 years in my aquarium, and it still sends out runners with daughter plants two or three times every year.

Plants growing emersed do not face algae. And when submersed, there is usually insufficient light to promote algae. And contrary to what one post mentioned previously in this thread, algae is solely the result of light. I had an informative exchange of thoughts with Tom Barr yesterday, partly on this issue of light, and as most of you will know, he is highly respected as an authority on the subject. He clearly pointed out that light should always be the absolute minimum that the plants require in our aquaria; and if we do this, and then provide the required nutrients, the plants will thrive and you will never see algae beyond the minimal amount that is natural in any artificial ecosystem like the aquarium. As you all know, I have been saying the same thing in my posts.

Moving on to nutrients, plants in the Amazon basin assimilate nutrients from the air (CO2) and substrate during the emersed growth period. When they are submersed, their roots are still in the same substrate, the floor of the forest that is abundant in nutrients, organic particularly, and bacteria in the zillions breaking down matter and providing nutrients. The CO2 in the water is minimal by comparison to air, and it is no surprise then that when these plants are submersed their leaves change shape and texture and generally look far worse than any of us would tolerate on our aquarium plants.

I could write more, but I must head off in a moment, so will post this to get started.
Now, to continue from where I left off yesterday (sorry about that)...

Natalie's original questions were (1) on the nutrients and fertilizing between nature and the aquarium, and (2) the light schedule between nature and our tanks. And from these, she asked about blackouts.

I think I've already answered (1) by pointing out that in their native habitat plants do indeed get the nutrients and we have to supply these with fertilizers. Those like Diana Walstad, Tom Barr, Peter Hiscock and Rhonda Wilson to name a few, who advocate enriched substrates of some sort, recognize this and provide for it. Of course, that works fine for substrate-rooted plants and stem plants, but floating plants and those rooted on rock and wood benefit nothing. As I mentioned previously, in nature these various plants are not found together. Conditions where floating plants grow are not the same as where substrate-rooted plants grow. Thus, if we are going to combine all these types of plants, we are going to have to provide that which they individually need. Same holds for our fish.

On the light issue, there is no variance throughout the year, as iamntbatman pointed out. In the Amazon basin, there are ten hours of light and ten hours of complete darkness every day of the year; the other four hours are obviously dawn and dusk. Every plant author I've read recommends providing 10-12 hours (give or take a few in exceptional cases) of light and a minimum of 10 hours of total darkness (no moon lights or room lights which upset the plant's metabolism). This is actually quite crucial to success. 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.

Another point on light in nature: plants grow in the rainforest under the canopy of immense trees. Some receive minimal direct sunlight, some never. Their rate of photosynthesis depends in nature, as it does in the aquarium, on the balance of light and nutrients. Plants will always photosynthesize as long as they can, until something in the requirements is missing. At that point, photosynthesis (growth) stops. Plants actually require much less light than some of us think, much less. In my 115g there are 80 watts of T8 full spectrum/cool blue on for 11 hours each day. And there are floating plants further shading the aquarium. The plant growth is somewhat astonishing to me, when I read authors stating 2-3 watts of full spectrum T8 light is mandatory to grow anything. Diana Walstad and Tom Barr have both pointed out the total inaccuracy of this belief. As I hope I've explained, this comes from nature.

As to the blackout, this is only necessary if the balance in the aquarium is out and algae is taking advantage. The answer to minimizing algae is not to have a blackout--which, over long periods may or may not have a detrimental effect on plant health, something I am still attempting to ascertain--but to have a balance. As nature has shown, when plants nutrients and light balance, the plants grow and there is no algae.

I'm attaching a couple of photos I took yesterday during my visit to the Vancouver Aquarium and Marine Science Centre. The Graham Amazon Gallery contains aquatic displays that are floor-to-ceiling plus a section of true Amazonia forest that you walk through on a wooden path with 25-foot trees, plants, and wild animals free around you--birds, butterflies, tortoises, sloths, marmosets, iguana and other lizards all roaming through the forest close enough that you can touch them. Just inside the doors to the Gallery is a wall of fresh water extending for 20 feet, containing two Arapaima [the world's largest freshwater fish at more than 3 metres [10+ feet] and over 200 kg (400 pounds)], a red-tail catfish at a metre [3+ feet], several freshwater rays, several Tambaqui (pacu) which is the largest characin in SA at more than a metre in length, and a shoal of Leporinus. My photo attached should indicate the darkness of this habitat. This is Amazonia. The second photo is of the discus habitat, floor to ceiling and 7-8 feet across, although they are in the back unseen, but you will note the darkness of the water and the plants at the water's edge. This also is Amazonia, and this is where our swords grow.

Hope this is of some benefit. Good topics Natalie, and questions/comments welcomed. Byron.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Amazon Arapaima1.jpg (60.4 KB, 28 views)
File Type: jpg Amazon discus1.jpg (95.6 KB, 27 views)

Last edited by Byron; 02-28-2010 at 10:58 AM..
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Old 02-06-2010, 03:51 PM   #19
 
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Seriously Byron; I have re-read everything a few times now and the way I know you I must be totally missing / misunderstanding something here because I'd not believe that's your POV the way I(!!!) understand this

The way I'm reading your posts I understand you saying that the ONLY reason algae would grow in a tank would be light. However you and I know that algae thrives when ALL factors are out of balance (being CO2, Nutrition and Light) May that be access ferts and little light; high end light & no ferts...all the various matters that's been discussed here and elsewhere plenty times before and i KNOW that you're not all the sudden over night dismissing the balance factor in tanks (or I'd be deeply disseminated) but real even re-reading it does sound a lit like a stament "light is the ONLY thing being the cause of algae".


On another side note and I know I'm drifting off from the OP now; but since B brought this up: Whoever is following this now the abound Amazon description is exactly why I keep preching left & right here that these high wattage lights are NOT good (The whole 100w over 10g matters). These plants aren't used to this naturally and like I keep saying this WILL (and I know there's a few unfortunate memebers here who can confirm this first hand) these high end lights WILL melt your plants.
Just had to point that out again; can't say it enough

@B the pictures are wonderful; LOVE the paludarium set up that's a very big dream of mine; but not like a tiny 40-50g paludarium set up but more along the lines of what you'd see at a good Zoo the size that'll double as a room divider and then paludarium set up...one day...one day I'll be retired and have all free time for fun stuff Love these pictures thou; wish I could see MORE pictures from that trip
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Old 02-06-2010, 04:16 PM   #20
 
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SOMEONE tell me if I'm way out in left field here

Okay, I have been mulling this light thing over for weeks now and here is how I understand Byron's point. Byron--I apologize if I'm totally mis-interpreting things.

I have to try really hard to explain this because the only way I understand this is to draw a graph in my head.

I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE FOR MAKING THIS REALLY COMPLICATED, but in my head this is the simple way of understanding it.

Okay, plants need a certain amount of everything. If there is too much of something, algae will take advantage (that's stating it simply but that summarizes). Because algae can utilize things in the environment more efficiently than plants (carbonates for instance) then it may just take one extra element to allow algae to grow. If there's too little of something, algae will also take advantage because the plants will only use the other nutrients, etc., insofar as that insufficient element is available. So limiting light is a way to make it so that no nutrient is the limiting factor thereby not allowing algae to use the excess of anything else

I'm going to go out on a limb here and explain in a way of hypothetical example.

Let's say plants need "x" amount of everything. X amount is the optimal that a plant needs for growth. X amount of carbon, x amount of iron, x amount of phosphate, etc etc. Too much will be represented by Z. Too little will be represented by Y.

Perfect balance:

Light: X
Nutrient 1: X
Nutrient 2: X
Nutrient 3: X
Carbon: X

We're going to pretend that plants need only 3 nutrients just to simplify the example

One example of imperfect balance:

Light: X
Nutrient 1: Z
Nutrient 2: X
Nutrient 3: Y
Carbon: X

Problem: Algae in the tank. We cannot identify which nutrient is out of balance, so we go with trial and error.

Remedy option 1: Add carbon (that's the first thing I would try). This will feed the algae excessive carbon and excessive Nutrient 1. However, the plants will only use up to Y amount of everything because Nutrient 3 is the limiting factor. So in this imbalance, algae has extra light, nutrients 1 and 2, and carbon. So adding carbon is going to promote the algae problem.

Remedy option 2: Add less fertilizer. Assuming we have a comprehensive fertilizer and are not dosing individual nutrients, this will bring Nutrient 1 to X (the "right" amount ideally), Nutrient 2 to Y, and Nutrient 3 even less than Y. Carbon and Light (yay for algae) are still in abundance, but the plants can't use them because now they can only use uup to the amount of Nutrient 3 (way sub-optimal). Algae has a field day.

Remedy option 3: Limit light. This will bring the algae AND the plants ability to use the nutrients down to Y. Therefore, everything in excess will be unusable by plants but more importantly by algae. Plants will grow more slowly but just as healthy. In this option we hope that an excess of a certain nutrient will not have adverse effects on the plants (some excesses can cause symptoms in plants such as black spots on leaves).

Remedy option 4: Add more comprehensive ferts. However, if we are already dosing at the manufacturer's recommendation to begin with, I wouldn't feel comfortable adding more, mainly I'd worry about my inverts and the levels of copper etc. going into excess.

Have I helped at all or just spent the last thirty minutes over-analyzing something I'm trying to simplify?
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