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Help! Probable cyanobacteria in a 2.5 gal!

Discussion in 'General Freshwater' started by elinore, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. elinore

    elinore AC Members

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    Hello! I have a huge algae problem in my little 2.5 gal. It was set up for about 3 years, with a little Red Sea filter, planted with lots of java fern and a pretty Anubias nana with a beautiful female crowntail betta who just recently passed away. The algae must have been introduced with the anubias about 2 years ago, and has been a real battle for the last year and a half. Since my betta has passed on, I think this is a good time to get rid of ALL the nasty algae and keep it out of my life forever! I *think* it's cyanobacteria. It's very easy to manually remove, but it grows super fast so I've just been struggling to stay ahead of it, with weekly removal and small water changes. I do larger water changes every 2 weeks. What I would really like to do is set up the tank with new gravel and a few new plants, and turn it into a cherry shrimp setup. My problems are: I would really like to keep my existing plants alive, and I don't know how to get rid of all the nasty algae without completely taking apart my tank and filter!

    If it's impossible to save the tank and filter, I would be ok with buying a new one and starting everything completely over, but I really would love to save my plants, especially the anubias. Is there any way to salvage the plants? Thanks SO much for any help!!!
     
  2. Celes

    Celes AC Members

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    I've found that Hydrogen Peroxide is great for getting rid of cyano. You can just turn off the filter, wait for the water to settle, and spot treat.
     
  3. schapman1886

    schapman1886 AC Members

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    Sorry, noob here, but how do you spot treat under water?

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  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike Large Member

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    Clean off all you can and then blackout for 3-4 days then more water changes. Worked for me.
     
  5. jm1212

    jm1212 Pterophyllum scalare

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    Use erythromycin. It won't harm the biological filter in your tank and will kill off the cyanobacteria. That said, it will come back if the underlying problem is not fixed. What are your water parameters?


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  6. elinore

    elinore AC Members

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    The water params were very stable, 0 ammonia and nitrites, low nitrates. I made sure to do a lot of water changes, and I'd change the water after I scraped the algae off so it wouldn't be left to die and muck up the water. I did try a blackout and antibacterial medicine, which helped for a little while. I set up a temporary 2 gal tank to hold the betta and the filter because I wasn't sure if the meds would kill all the beneficial bacteria in the filter or not. I kept up the blackout for 7 days then did a major water change. The medicine I tried is called "Maracyn-Oxy", and was recommended seemingly knowledgable aquarium store employee but after some online research I doubt it actually had any effect against the cyanobacteria. I tried it anyway, just in case. The algae stayed completely away for maybe 2 weeks, but then returned to its normal growth levels.

    When the blackout didn't work, I thought it must have been caused by me overfeeding my betta (though I didn't think I was), so I put her back into the temporary setup for 3 weeks. There was no change in the growth of the algae! I do have a light for my plants (a 10 watt mini compact fluorescent colormax), so could that be giving the algae enough energy to grow like it does?
     
  7. OrQidz

    OrQidz AC Members

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    when I've had cyano before, it was always due to too much light and not enough water changes. When I corrected the light issue and kept up with good routine water changes and such, it went away and hasn't come back. 10 watts doesn't sound like a lot, but over 2.5 gallons? Maybe that is too much? What's the general rule about watts per gallon? I thought it was like 2-4 watts per gallon or something...you've got close to 5 watts per gallon so maybe it's too much. I could be completely wrong....but if it is so persistent I think it is something about your set up.
     
  8. dundadundun

    dundadundun ;sup' dog? ;woof and a wwwoof!

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    elinore... i think i'm picking up what you're putting down, here.

    keep in mind, cyano thrives in low nitrogen environments. your nitrogenous compounds are ammo (Nh3/Nh4), nitrite (No2) and nitrate (No3). moderate no3 (~10-40ppm) is the idea as low no3 will likely only perpetuate its recurrence.
    it's also a photosynthesizing bacteria... although there are cases where blackouts are useless.

    with this in mind, you may want to experiment with shading some of that light and dose some no3 after large w/c's to keep a steady supply.

    how you get rid of it is your business, but how to keep it away not only relates to maintaining your tank, but your light intensity and nutrient levels as well.
     
  9. elinore

    elinore AC Members

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    I'm currently thinking that perhaps I will break down the tank and treat the plants with several doses of peroxide and a round of erythromycin. I think I'll get rid of my current gravel, dry the tank out, scrub it with peroxide, wash it thorougly and leave it dry for a week or so. When I set it back up, I'll just buy a new filter and start from scratch. I can use water from another tank to help cycle it, but I'm in no rush. Since I agree that the lighting is probably at least contributing to the problem, I think maybe I'll try some little floating surface plants to block the light, and if that's not enough I'll play around with the lighting more. I'll definitely leave it set up with plants only for awhile. Hopefully all this will be enough to kill any traces of the cyanobacteria!!!
     
  10. elinore

    elinore AC Members

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    Update!

    Ok, update! I decided to declare all-out war on the stupid cyanobacteria. I began by removing all the old gravel and scrubbing the heck out of the tank. I broke down the little filter and scrubbed that as well. I removed all my plants (one Anubias nana and lots of java ferns) and manually cleaned the leaves. I then replaced them in the tank, started up the filter and spot treated with peroxide twice, 24 hrs apart. Everything seemed to be going well, and there was no sign whatsoever of the cyanobacteria. Two days after the peroxide treatment, I transferred some filter media into the tank to help get a new cycle going. Around this time, I started noticing that my anubias wasn't looking so great. Most of its leaves began to look just "off" to me so I started watching carefully. To my horror, almost all the leaves soon began to disintegrate. Apparently, my anubias did NOT like the peroxide treatment!!! It's not dead, and looks like it will come back eventually, but it is not pretty at the moment. The java ferns didn't love the peroxide, and most of them showed some damage, such as small brown patches, in the leaves, and a few lost leaves, but nothing terrible. I was quite surprised that the anubias was the one that suffered most. I would have guessed it would have been more resilient than the java fern. When reading about using peroxide to kill cyano, I did not find anyone who had a problem with their plants. Perhaps my plants reacted so badly because the tank is so small? I did a 50% water change an hour after I used the peroxide, thinking I wanted to give the peroxide some time to work before I changed the water, and I had only found warnings about it being toxic in "large" amounts to animals, not plants, and I was only spot-treating, so I never really considered it would hurt my plants so badly. The first two pics are of the anubias's disintegrated leaves. The third pic is from just before I anchored it to a lava rock. It's finally starting to sprout leaves again, so I think it just needs some time to recover. IMG_1298.JPG IMG_1303.JPG IMG_1309.JPG Anyway, I replaced the gravel with "Tahitian Moon Sand," which looks wonderful. I bought a new, healthy Anubias nana and attached both it and my old battered anubias to lava rocks. I replanted all the java fern and added root tabs and a pretty little marimo ball. The tank looks great (well, except for that poor anubias but it'll grow back eventually). So far, no cyanobacteria!!! I'm limiting the light to try to help keep it away, and I will be looking for some sort of floating plant to help shade the light, once I can find some that don't come with snails. I tested for copper (none whatsoever!) and the tank is cycled and ready to go again, so I'm thinking of ordering some shrimp in the next week or so. I'm leaning towards yellows, which I think would look great against the black sand and bright green plants.

    IMG_1298.JPG IMG_1303.JPG IMG_1309.JPG
     

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