Tuesday, April 21, 2009

V is for Victory!

I hereby officially declare victory against Blue Green Algae! One week later and there is still no sign of the monster coming back. The water and plants are clean, the tank sides barely show any regular green algae growth at all. Fishies all seem a lot happier as well. Amazing what a little water current will do.

Teddy's tank at work received a similar treatment. Yesterday I did the water change plus cleaned all his plants and removed most of the java moss which seemed to the the main thing that harbored the BGA. There is enough clean moss left on the driftwood to start it growing again. Then I introduced a small air stone and adjusted the air flow to create some water movement but not to freak him out too much. Bettas like quiet waters...

A big sigh of relief. Now, for the next project, we'll have to do some Guppy breeding. All these problems have depleted the population.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss...

or, more appropriately, moving water grows no algae.

The Guppy Girl tank is showing no sign of Blue Green Algae growth so far and even the regular green algae have lost their enthusiasm. Could I have finally cured the tank? It is so nice to see the bright white sand and vivid colors of the plants with fishies swimming around happily!

I am beginning to think that the whole problem could have been avoided if I only used an air stone to improve aeration and encourage water movement in the first place. It would seem with one filter in the corner and lots of plants to block the current, the water gets very stagnant very quickly. This created perfect conditions for BGA slime to thrive. The air stone is on the opposite end of the tank from the filter, so, in theory, the water circles from one to the other.

So, with this small success, I decided to do a small experiment: Teddy's tank at work is again starting to grow BGA again, though not at the same rate as the one at home. This afternoon I introduced the same little air stone connected to a small air pump and was surprised to immediately see the water moving a lot. How? Well, a lot of debris, like parts of leaves, strings of BGA, shed shrimp exoskeletons, is suddenly swimming around. That's also sign it's time to clean the tank, but I thought with the experiment I'll wait till Monday.

Teddy is a bit freaked out never having had air current in his tank before, but I'm sure he'll adjust. It's probably better for him in the long run anyway.

On a funny note, today I observed one of the Amano Shrimp clean a large swath of BGA off one of the Lutea leaves, clean to the "bone". Man, those guys are good cleaner upers. Just imagine - if I had about 20 of them in there, I'd never have the algae problem in the first place. I just hope he doesn't get a tummy ache... Do shrimp even get tummy aches?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tentative Success.....??

Next time I will watch what I type - my last entry's title was ominous. That night I checked the tank at night and found 2 smallest fish dead plus two close to death and obviously suffering, so they had to be euthanized with Clove Oil. It did not look good. But to be honest, some of them did not look too hot before the treatment with the BGA remover, so possibly the change in water chemistry stressed them out more and pushed them over the line.

The tank/water itself looked good, though. No more signs of Blue Green Algae growth! Just to be sure, I checked the water parameters and everything was fine except ammonia, which shot to 1 ppm. The bottle of BGA remover did mention this could happen, so I was not surprised. I quickly added some AmQuel+ to neutralize ammo and then, after giving it some time to work, I cleaned up the leftover bits of BGA and changed about 25% of water. The last thing I did? I put in an air stone on the opposite side of the tank from the filter outlet. Looking at my male guppy tank, I realized that was the other difference between the tanks. Hopefully more water movement will prevent the blue slime from coming back.

Teddy's tank though is not doing much better, even with the backdrop added. The BGA is starting to strangle the java moss so I may have to do the same treatment and figure out how to add an airstone to his 5 Gal hexagonal tank which is pretty much sealed shut. Hmmmm....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Death by Algae...

It will be me who dies of frustration over this disgusting blue-green slime! Completely ignoring my attempts to destroy it, the Blue Green Algae keeps coming back with a vengeance. Introducing lots of new plants to the tank did nothing. I succeeded in making the tank look a lot nicer but a week later, the plants were smothered in it and probably unable to breathe and grow.

I also did extensive water testing. Here are the results:

ammonia: 0 ppm (perfect)
nitrite: 0 ppm (perfect)
nitrate: 5 ppm (very good)
phosphates: 2 ppm (? but assuming this is good)

Any other parameters are the same as other tanks as I use exactly the same additives and water for all of them. So why this one????

I was desperate so I went to Big Al's and asked them if they had anything at all that could control it - I was ready to use heavy duty chemicals if I had to! To my surprise they did! It's called "UltraLife Reef Products Blue-Green Algae Remover" and is supposed to be safe for all fresh water plants and fish.

This past weekend was Easter and having two parties at home I did not think I would have time to take care of the tank. But on Sat. night opportunity presented itself. Stupidly I downed two cans of Pepsi when our friends were here and, at 1:00 am, found myself wide awake. So I decided to do the tank anyways. Might as well use the time productively.

After scraping the algae off the walls, the water was so dirty and thick with debris, I could not see the bottom despite a strong light shining on the water. Then I picked out each and every plant and literally scraped the BGA off every single leaf on every plant. Did the same for rocks and driftwood. Luckily this stuff comes off pretty easily. I also mechanically removed large globs of it covering the sand. Then syphoned about 90% of the water.

Once I replaced about 50% of water I rearranged the rocks and plants, topped up the water, cleaned the filter and pump and removed the carbon from a new filter bag - the old one was filthy from decaying algae and was slowing down the filter.

And finally, I added the BGA remover. Actually, that was not my last action - to be safe, I have also put a dark background around the back and sides of the tank. In the past I did attempt to block out the sunlight from this aquarium but I now realize that I did so with white paper, which pretty much defeated the purpose. This time I used the typical aquarium backing paper. This is really the only thing I can see different with this tank - it is in a northern window but, outside is our garage, which is painted white, and it reflects quite a lot of sunshine.

Completion time? 4:00 am! Oh, but it was such a satisfying work.

36 hours later I am happy to report the leftover bits of the algae (you can NEVER remove all of it, short of filtering 100% of the water and sand) have lost their typical bluish color and look positively sickly green (Yeahhhh!!!). There is also no sign of regrowth so far. Could this product really work as well as it boasts? Now that would be the first! If this works (and I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed), I will have to do the same to Teddy's tank.

On a sad note, I've lost my last original big mama Guppy and I cannot help but think it had something to do with the algae. She was a beautiful, healthy, large female and I'm glad that at least I have lots of her offspring.

There is good news, too: Aparently gold fish do grow their scales back! I was watching Lady Lydia the other night and realized some of the missing scales have been replaced. Interestingly, the new ones are a bit lighter than the older ones, so they still look like they are missing, but on closer examination I have confirmed they are indeed scales. She only has two more spots to fill on the other side.

Teddy has also been doing well regrowing his dorsal fin - it is now about 1/2" long.

And, last but not least - I have at least two female Amano (Japonica) shrimp in my male guppy tank and they are heavy with eggs. On my son's urging, I have done some research and decided to attempt to breed them. It is supposed to be very hard but I have always liked a challenge. Have to visit my favorite store again (Big Al's) and buys some supplies, but it should not be too expensive. Besides a challenge, I really need some more shrimp and the store supplier has been very slow. Can't find the darn things anywhere at the moment. Maybe I can get my own.