Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources (
-   Beginner Freshwater Aquarium (
-   -   Cyanobacteria? (

pittipuppylove 10-09-2012 10:32 PM

Hey everybody,

So awhile ago, just after I first started keeping fish, I got this floating moss ball (not marimo) from Petco that was covered by this forest green stuff that I thought was the moss part. The stuff eventually started spreading, and, being the dum-dum that I am, I thought that the moss was just spreading. I ended up moving it to my 5 gallon betta tank and then the split 10 gallon when I switched to that. It started to spread to the substrate and cling to the plants and I finally figured out that something wasn't right. When I looked up stuff it may be, it looks most like BGA - but the thing that throws me is that it's not really blue-ish and more of a forest green. But I'm pretty much bracing up to treat for the cyanobacteria.

I really have no idea where to start with this stuff, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. The new 10 gallon has been set up for less than a week - would it just be best to completely tear it down and clean everything to an OCD level?

Thanks so much for any help!

AbbeysDad 10-10-2012 09:38 AM

Are you sure it's not just algae? What lights do you have and how long are they on? Reducing the intensity and/or duration may solve the problem. Consider a black out for a couple of days to see what happens.

If it is cyanobacteria, we should better understand the water chemistry to learn what's promoting growth. This bacteria is most fond of water high in phosphates and/or nitrates. Sufficient water changes can reduce these and there are synthetic resins that adsorb these and remove from the water.

It's your call, but I always feel that a total tear down, although sometimes required, is the last resort of a failed system...It can 'solve' a problem, but doesn't really address the root cause which are the conditions that promoted the problem in the first place.

pittipuppylove 10-10-2012 10:43 AM

I really don't know. This stuff doesn't really cling to anything - as soon as you disturb it the stuff falls off. So far it's been managable with the approximately 25-50% water changes I do once or twice a week because as soon as I disrupt the substrate it gets sucked off by the siphon. It seems to form more of a film over the gravel at first and then turns into more of a carpet. The lighting is two 25W incandescant "daylight" bulbs from Menards (I'm waiting for them to die so I can switch to compact flourescents) on a 12 hours on/12 hours off schedule.

I'll test the water today in between a couple of my classes and get them posted. I've got the API test kit, do I need a seperate test for phosphates? Do I need to remove the two bettas for a blackout if it comes to that?

If possible, I'd like to avoid tearing down the tank, I agree that it wouldn't treat the overall problem and that it'd be a pain in the butt to clean the substrate in my dorm's bathroom/showers. I get weird enough looks dumping buckets of water down the shower drain :shock:

Byron 10-10-2012 11:36 AM

Let's identify whatever this is first, before resorting to drastic measures.:lol:

Any chance you can post a photo?

As for water tests, with the API kit can you test the nitrate? [Shake Regent #2 for a good 2 minutes before adding the drops, otherwise the test can be faulty.] Don't worry about phosphates yet. What is the pH? Temperature? And do you know the GH (hardness) of the tap water?

Are there any live plants? What fish and numbers? And what tank size?


pittipuppylove 10-10-2012 01:00 PM

Just tested the water, here's the data (on the day I typically do water changes):
pH - approx 8.0
Ammonia - 0.0-.25ppm
Nitrite - 0ppm
Nitrate - 40ppm

I don't have the GH test, and the nearest fish store (half an hour away) store uses strips to test. I may have to go there today anyway to pick up filter media, and I may just end up buying a bottle of the kH and GH tests to have on hand. lol With gas prices, it may be cheaper in the long run :-P

It's a 10 gallon tank devided into two sections, kept at 78*F, houses a male HMDTPK and male HM bettas, each side has a planted water sprite, floating green cabomba (for the life of me, I have not been able to get them to grow planted), floating dwarf baby tears, random pieces of java moss, and one side has a small java fern plantlet that fell off my main java fern in the 15 gallon. There're also a few pond snails that hang around. It's currently filtered with a Marina Slim s10 that I'm planning on changing to a AquaClear20 that I have just sitting around (hence why I need the filter media). Each betta gets 3-4 Aqueon betta pellets daily, and they eat all of them - so there's little to no leftover food.

Give me a second to get a picture - I have to take it from my phone and upload it from there.

pittipuppylove 10-10-2012 02:21 PM

Ok... Let's see how these pictures turn out. It's not really bad at the moment, so it turns out to be fairly difficult to get a somewhat decent picture of on the less than great camera on my phone.

The tank:

Bits of it that actually showed up in the picture. There's some to the left of the plant and a small amount on the bottom right corner of the picture:

You can see it sticking to the leaf here, but you can't see that it's created a webbing between the lobes of the leaves:

Here's a bit on the Windelov Java Fern, growing between the "fingers" of the leaf:

Sorry for the crappy pics. If it'd help, I can leave it be durring today's water change and take more pictures in a couple days when it's much more noticable.

Byron 10-10-2012 04:20 PM

Yes, that is cyanobacteria, but not bad--yet. We can solve this. But first, a comment on the GH test, don't waste your money. You can ascertain the GH and KH of your tap water from the water authority, they may have a website or can tell you directly. It is useful to know this. Unless something is specifically being done to target the GH in an aquarium, it will not alter very much from the tap.

Cyano is due to high organics as AD mentinoed, and the higher nitrate number indicates this. You mention water changes of 25-50% twice weekly, so that's fine. You may be slightly overfeeding the Betta, one or at most two pellets a day is ample. I would reduce the light duration as AD also suggested.

Have you tested the tap water alone for nitrate? This should be done, as some of the nitrate could be from there.


pittipuppylove 10-10-2012 10:40 PM

Thanks Byron!

I reduced the photoperiod to only eight hours on per day, and being a bit paranoid, I also picked up some Anacharis for it's possible antibacterial qualities (I realize that's not really known if that will help or not, but I figure it can't hurt and I've been looking to add more plants anyway). And I'll reduce the feeding to 1-2 pellets a day. Sound about right?

The most recent water report for Waverly that is posted online is from 2010 and records the Nitrate at 10ppm, but I tested it from the tap in my dorm building and it looks to be around 20-40ppm. It doesn't say anything about hardness, so I'll try to call the city and see what it is.

Thanks again!

pittipuppylove 10-10-2012 11:06 PM

Sorry for the double post, but I also forgot to mention that I dose with 0.8ml Flourish Comprehensive once a week. Should I discontinue that atleast until the cyanobacteria is under control?

Byron 10-11-2012 01:28 PM


Originally Posted by pittipuppylove (Post 1271522)
Sorry for the double post, but I also forgot to mention that I dose with 0.8ml Flourish Comprehensive once a week. Should I discontinue that atleast until the cyanobacteria is under control?

No, the plants need food or they can't help fight the cyano. But cyano is mainly an organics thing.

On the nitrate, that is a concern if the numbers are accurate. Using the API test, you did remember to shake Regent 2 for 2 minutes? If this still results in nitrates above 20ppm, I would get more fast growing plants (stem and floating are best here, the Hornwort will help) and I would use a conditioner that detoxifies n nitrates at water changes. Seachem's Prime is the only one I know of that does this.


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:02 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome