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Cyanobacteria in the freshwater planted aquarium

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Cyanobacteria in the freshwater planted aquarium
Old 05-01-2013, 07:38 AM   #91
 
The Nitrogen fixing property of Cyanobacteria could possibly have something to do with things I have read about low or high Nitrates in the tank. My Nitrates are unreadable:

Cyanobacteria - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 05-01-2013, 10:02 AM   #92
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemo the Clownfish View Post
The Nitrogen fixing property of Cyanobacteria could possibly have something to do with things I have read about low or high Nitrates in the tank. My Nitrates are unreadable:

Cyanobacteria - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


+1

(and getting kinda technical also).

What can happen is that nitrates can get low because nitrates are also consumed by anaerobic/anoxic bacteria in addition to plant life. When low the cyano can tank nitrogen gas from the water column and thrive. Which further reduces other netrients like phosphate for the plants. So tank can rapidily become cyano dominated instead of algae plant dominated. and unlike the initialy temporary bloom this bloom is a long term systemic problem. So the basic operation of the tank must be adjusted.

But when you kill the lights the cyano dies off faster then the plants which returns nitrates to the system. So that when lights are returned the plants now are in control again. And by adjusting lights and feeding you can keep the plants in control indefinately. You may even setup a situation where a small unnoticable amount of cyano is created with lights on each day that dies off each night. Effectively pumping nitrogen gas into nitrates to feed the plants.

But in these forums the person with a 6 month aquarium that is getting that first fustrating cyano bloom (after the temporary intial blooms) doesn't need to know all that.

Which is why I say kill the lights and suspend feeding until it dies off.

Anything else is just technical mumble jumble to the new hobbist that only serves to cloud the mind and not uncloud the tank.


Still just my .02
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:24 PM   #93
 
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Originally Posted by xfatdannx View Post
So going back to the "organics" causing and feeding cyano. Could that be from an over stocked tank? I've been talking about moving my current fish to a larger tank, could getting a smaller amount of fish with less waste help curb the cyano?
I had cyhanobacteria occur when I didn't clean the canister filter; it disappeared solely from cleaning the filter. Overstocking the tank can cause it. Overfeeding the fish can cause it. Neglecting water changes can cause it. Too much light--if organics are present which they usually will be--can cause it.

In all of these, organics is the issue. Control (limit) the organics, and balance the light, and you will not see cyanobacteria. Plants help a lot by using organics/nutrients.

Byron.
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:34 PM   #94
 
"Bacteria overgrowth, often referred to as bacterial blossom or bloom, will cause cloudiness. In fact, the water may appear to be gray or milky, but the bacteria does does not tint the water yellow, brown or even green. Anytime the water takes on a distinctly yellow or brown tint, the problem is dissolved organic material rather than bacteria, so you can rule out bacterial blossom as the root cause.

It is wise to remember that there can be multiple issues going on at the same time. So if you have tinted water that is also very cloudy, rather that being clear but tinted, consider the possibility that more than one problem is occurring, and act accordingly.

DOC - Dissolved Organic Compounds
You may have heard someone say tinted or cloudy water is caused by DOC, and wondered what that means. DOC stands for dissolved organic compounds, and simply put is any organic matter that has broken down in the aquarium water. It could be fish waste, uneaten food that has decayed, decaying plant parts or even a dead fish that has decomposed.

All of these sources can result in organic compounds that become dissolved in the water, thus changing the makeup of the water. Can these compounds harm the fish? Yes they ultimately impact the health of your fish, because over time they will contribute to changes in the water chemistry that are harmful to the fish. Dissolved organic compounds also will give rise to unpleasant odors and cause the aquarium to look less attractive.

Tannins
One cause of brown or yellow water that is usually not a problem is tannin. Tannins are present in driftwood, and over time will leach into the aquarium water, staining it yellow to brown. Tannins have the effect of lowering the pH of the water, as well as softening it. For some fish this may be desirable, and even recommended. This is particularly true of fish from South America that require soft acidic water to thrive, and promote spawning."
Copied from http://freshaquarium.about.com/od/pr...rium-Water.htm
Yellow or Brown Aquarium Water

By Shirlie Sharpe, About.com Guide


Last edited by equatics; 05-02-2013 at 08:47 PM..
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:23 AM   #95
 
So here is where i am now...I have moved the 6 phantoms from the 6gal to the 20 tall as the 20 tall has finished its cycle. 0ppm for ammonia and nirites and about 10-20ppm nitrates. The nitrates fell off drastically too.

Here is where i am confuse, beaslebob is saying nitrates, or the lack thereof is the cause of cyano and byron is saying that its all organics. Byron, you say you run tanks with little to no traceable nitrites correct? Just wondering if i should start looking to stock it up a little more to add more nitrates to the system and keep it in check, or will it be fine if, in the off chance, i decide just to leave the 6 fish in there by themselves.

thanks again guys.
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:41 AM   #96
 
Wink Article - Dissolved/Particulate Organics In Aquariums

Sorry if I'm interrupting you - I'm sure someone will reply to you further down.

I'm copying this entire article from another site because it's so interesting and enlightening.

"Dissolved Organic Compounds Explained Written by Cecil Griffith
If you’re like most planted aquarium owners, you want a healthy algae free aquarium. You dose fertilizers regularly and make sure you don’t over do the lighting, but you still manage to have some problems when it comes to fish and plant health. Understanding dissolved organic compounds and how they effect your planted aquarium will help you sustain a enriching environment for your aquatic plants and fish.


What is a dissolved organic compound?
An organic compound is any compound that contains one or more atoms of carbon. Natural waters, freshwater aquariums and saltwater aquariums contain a great variety of soluble organic compounds. These include such compounds as sugars, fatty acids, humic acids, tannins, vitamins, amino acids, proteins and urea. Suspended organic matter in water includes remains of organisms in various stages of decay and living phytoplankton, zooplankton, fungi and bacteria. Sometimes each of the concentrations of individual organic compounds is not measured. Instead it is more common to measure total particulate organic matter, biochemical oxygen demand, or chemical oxygen demand. These variables are indicative of the total quantity of organic matter in water.

So where do they come from?
The major source of dissolved organics in aquaria is the natural biological processes that accompany having a tank full of fish that are fed often. Fish feed, fish wastes and other particulate organic material are colonized by bacteria which break the material down into dissolved substances. The basic step is for particulate carbon to become dissolved carbon. More fish and more fish feed means a higher concentration of organic substances.


How to control excess dissolved organic compounds?

There are many ways to control the amount of organic carbon in your system. Remember, there are two general types of organic material: particulate and dissolved. There are ways to remove both from your aquarium.
First, limit the amount of particulate carbon in your aquarium. This does not mean reducing the number of fish in the tank or reducing the feeding amount (but these would surely help). It means cleaning the mechanical filter component of your filtration systems often.
The filter pad is where a majority of the particulate material will get trapped. If your system is heavily stocked you might have to clean this every couple of days but the reward will be worth it. Organic material trapped on the filter pad is of no benefit to the aquarium environment - remove it often. Some people use charcoal in their filters to help remove some of this material.
Next, if your aquarium has a substrate; clean it regularly with a siphon action gravel washer. The gravel at the bottom of an aquarium is a good place for particulate organic material to collect - so getting rid of this material will help.
Getting rid of the organic material on a regular basis will go a long way towards keeping an aquarium healthy and keeping disease away. So how often is a regular basis?
That has to be decided on an aquarium by aquarium basis. If you have a lot of fish and feed a lot you'll have to clean the mechanical filter and substrate more often than a person with a few fish who feed sparingly. The major way to get rid of dissolved organic carbon is water changes. This is a simple method but most people are a little lazy about this.
The people with saltwater tanks are very concerned about dissolved organics. They use protein skimmers, meters and control devices for ORP, ozone, and other things specifically made to control the compounds.
People with freshwater planted aquariums have the added benefit that plants are able to help with this by using some of these organics. By doing 50% water changes, cleaning filters regularly, correct fertilization, not overfeeding, and doing all the necessary maintenance involved helps to promote a healthy aquarium."
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:48 AM   #97
JDM
 
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I suspect that the low nitrates might be a symptom of the cyano. They fix the nitrates and they drop and the cyano shows up. Unless you are testing the nitrates daily, and not many do, you wouldn't know what the timing really was, which came first, the low nitrates or the cyano invasion. There are a lot of unkowns and probably misconceptions about these guys, and I certain don't know much at all but adding nitrates just seems like a grasp at a fix that may not do anything either way and other things that you can do will serve you better.

I have less than 5ppm nitrates in my tank and not because of water changes, it just doesn't rise due partly to lots of plants circumventing the normal cycle that produces nitrates and due to some plants that use nitrates and perhaps some microbiologicals are in place that do as well.

Jeff.

Last edited by JDM; 05-03-2013 at 09:00 AM.. Reason: grammar
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Old 05-03-2013, 10:24 AM   #98
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xfatdannx View Post
So here is where i am now...I have moved the 6 phantoms from the 6gal to the 20 tall as the 20 tall has finished its cycle. 0ppm for ammonia and nirites and about 10-20ppm nitrates. The nitrates fell off drastically too.

Here is where i am confuse, beaslebob is saying nitrates, or the lack thereof is the cause of cyano and byron is saying that its all organics. Byron, you say you run tanks with little to no traceable nitrites correct? Just wondering if i should start looking to stock it up a little more to add more nitrates to the system and keep it in check, or will it be fine if, in the off chance, i decide just to leave the 6 fish in there by themselves.

thanks again guys.
And now we know why I don't like to get all technical.

Plants of various types can use different form of nitrogen and problably all other organics as well.

Just like farmers rotate crops like corn and wheat with soybeans. Because corn and wheat use ammonia/nitrate and soybeans fix nitrogen from the air and form nodgules which return nitrogen to the soil.

The over all idea is that, by whatever process, the slower growng plants we like use some ratio of organics. But less desirable, faster growing forms of plant life may use those organics in another ratios or other forms such as nitrogen gas.

When things get out of balance and the ugly plant life (yea I know in bacteria like cyano) takes off, I simply kill off that plant life by killing the lights. So it dies off and returns those nutrients in the form the desirable plant life can use.

So we can talk limiting nutrients, water changes, anti bacterials, whatever. All of which is confusing especially to the new hobbists.

Just to keep is simple, kill the lights and stop adding food until the uglies die off.

Then adjust lights and feeding so it stays away.

my .02
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:43 AM   #99
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemo the Clownfish View Post
Sorry if I'm interrupting you - I'm sure someone will reply to you further down.

I'm copying this entire article from another site because it's so interesting and enlightening.

"Dissolved Organic Compounds Explained Written by Cecil Griffith
If youíre like most planted aquarium owners, you want a healthy algae free aquarium. You dose fertilizers regularly and make sure you donít over do the lighting, but you still manage to have some problems when it comes to fish and plant health. Understanding dissolved organic compounds and how they effect your planted aquarium will help you sustain a enriching environment for your aquatic plants and fish.


What is a dissolved organic compound?
An organic compound is any compound that contains one or more atoms of carbon. Natural waters, freshwater aquariums and saltwater aquariums contain a great variety of soluble organic compounds. These include such compounds as sugars, fatty acids, humic acids, tannins, vitamins, amino acids, proteins and urea. Suspended organic matter in water includes remains of organisms in various stages of decay and living phytoplankton, zooplankton, fungi and bacteria. Sometimes each of the concentrations of individual organic compounds is not measured. Instead it is more common to measure total particulate organic matter, biochemical oxygen demand, or chemical oxygen demand. These variables are indicative of the total quantity of organic matter in water.

So where do they come from?
The major source of dissolved organics in aquaria is the natural biological processes that accompany having a tank full of fish that are fed often. Fish feed, fish wastes and other particulate organic material are colonized by bacteria which break the material down into dissolved substances. The basic step is for particulate carbon to become dissolved carbon. More fish and more fish feed means a higher concentration of organic substances.


How to control excess dissolved organic compounds?
There are many ways to control the amount of organic carbon in your system. Remember, there are two general types of organic material: particulate and dissolved. There are ways to remove both from your aquarium.
First, limit the amount of particulate carbon in your aquarium. This does not mean reducing the number of fish in the tank or reducing the feeding amount (but these would surely help). It means cleaning the mechanical filter component of your filtration systems often.
The filter pad is where a majority of the particulate material will get trapped. If your system is heavily stocked you might have to clean this every couple of days but the reward will be worth it. Organic material trapped on the filter pad is of no benefit to the aquarium environment - remove it often. Some people use charcoal in their filters to help remove some of this material.
Next, if your aquarium has a substrate; clean it regularly with a siphon action gravel washer. The gravel at the bottom of an aquarium is a good place for particulate organic material to collect - so getting rid of this material will help.
Getting rid of the organic material on a regular basis will go a long way towards keeping an aquarium healthy and keeping disease away. So how often is a regular basis?
That has to be decided on an aquarium by aquarium basis. If you have a lot of fish and feed a lot you'll have to clean the mechanical filter and substrate more often than a person with a few fish who feed sparingly. The major way to get rid of dissolved organic carbon is water changes. This is a simple method but most people are a little lazy about this.
The people with saltwater tanks are very concerned about dissolved organics. They use protein skimmers, meters and control devices for ORP, ozone, and other things specifically made to control the compounds.
People with freshwater planted aquariums have the added benefit that plants are able to help with this by using some of these organics. By doing 50% water changes, cleaning filters regularly, correct fertilization, not overfeeding, and doing all the necessary maintenance involved helps to promote a healthy aquarium."
This is exactly what I have written over and over on this forum. I could give you dozens of sources for this same information, it has the basis of scientific fact. Thanks Steven for posting.
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:56 AM   #100
 
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Originally Posted by xfatdannx View Post
Here is where i am confuse, beaslebob is saying nitrates, or the lack thereof is the cause of cyano and byron is saying that its all organics. Byron, you say you run tanks with little to no traceable nitrites correct? Just wondering if i should start looking to stock it up a little more to add more nitrates to the system and keep it in check, or will it be fine if, in the off chance, i decide just to leave the 6 fish in there by themselves.
First: Cyanobacteria is caused by organics, period. Without organics, there is no cyanobacteria. Life on this planet began with cyanobacteria, and organics feed it.

Second: Controlling organics is the only way to deal with cyano, since you are getting at the root cause. Now, organics are obviously present in any aquarium with fish that are fed, as the article Steven cited states. We want a balance so the fish are healthy, the plants have what they need and are thriving, and the less desirables like nuisance algae and cyanobacteria are not present.

Some will cite the lack of sufficient nitrates as the cause of cyano. This does not hold water, when you have aquarists like myself whose aquaria never have higher than 5 ppm nitrate, and some run at zero (with our basic test kits). This is not to say that if organics are beyond what the system can manage, and nitrates are low, cyano may be more likely. Fine. But it is the organics that cause this. As for raising nitrates to supposedly fight cyano, this does not make sense; nitrates do impact fish, so why increase something that is likely to cause stress for fish when it isn't the answer anyway?

Some will cite water current as the culprit. Insufficient current or too much current have both been given as causes. This doesn't have much basis either; I have had cyano in a tank with no filter, and I have had it occur worst right at the filter return spraybar.

Some cite light as the cause. This is partly true, as cyanobacteria is photosynthetic and thus requires light. But hundreds of us have lights over our aquarium and they run for decades with no cyano in sight. Light is just one necessary factor. Which is why doing a blackout is temporary and the cyano will return if the organics are not dealt with.

Hope this helps.

Byron.
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