Badman's Tropical Fish

All-Water Boards => Aquatic Plants and Algae => Topic started by: cannsyl on October 27, 2015, 11:15:04 AM

Title: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: cannsyl on October 27, 2015, 11:15:04 AM
So I had surgery last month and didn't keep up with my tank maintenance like I should have...Now I have a BG outbreak...its killing my amazingly planted aquarium.  I tried manual removal and vacuuming and lowing lights.  I'm watching how much I feed, and now I've broken down and ordered EM.  Hopefully that will get rid of it once and for all.  Slimy stuff is just covering all my lovely plants and destroying them and keeping the lights down/out isn't helping them out at all.   >:(

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: curve on October 28, 2015, 05:56:32 PM
It may not be an algae issue at all. Slime algae is not a true algae, it is a bacteria. More than likely, you have what is called cynobacteria. The cause...either high level of organic build-up, or high level of phosphate in your water. In your case, since your aquarium was not kept up with, it is probably from high level of organic build-up. Ultralife makes a great product called Blue Green Slime Stain Remover. It is a anti-bacterial treatment. I've used it personally with very good results.

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: Pat Mary on October 28, 2015, 06:06:07 PM
Forgive me if I am mistaken but I have always heard that cyanobacteria is in saltwater tanks and not freshwater.  Am I wrong?

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: curve on October 28, 2015, 06:13:00 PM
Cynobacteria can be found in both Freshwater and Saltwater aquariums. The Blue Green Slime Stain Remover is made specifically for freshwater aquariums.

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: TwoTankAmin on October 29, 2015, 12:07:44 PM
I battled a few outbreaks of bga. While the above info about the cuases is accurate, it doesn't alone fix the problem. If corrected it will prevent a recurrance once the current problem is corrected. As noted you are not dealing with algae but bacteria. here is how I finally beat mine back for good. I hit it with what i call the "Triple WHAMMY".

1. Manually remove as much of the bga as you can via siphoning. An airline size tube works well and a do a tank vac on the substrate even if the bga is not apparent there. This will help remove excess organics there.
2. Do a large water change, the more the better.
3. Do a single dose of Maracyn or generic Erythromycin (they are the same things).
4.Cover the tank and keep the lights off- i.e a blackout. Keep this in effect for 5 days.
5. Uncover the tank, vacuum the substrate again and do another huge water change.

If you have corrected the cause properly, this should be the end of it.

The sucking off of as much as you can get is important as it keeps dead bga from building up and all the problems this can cause from occuring. The single dose of Em should do the trick and not bother the good bacteria. You should not need more than the one dose. It is also important to insure you have good circulation in the tank, this doesn't mean it must be strong but that it must be directed to avoid dead spots in the tank.

The manual removal and first water change are the first whammy. The EM is the second whammy and the blackout is the third. Combined they should work as long as the excess organics/phosphate issues are addressed.

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: russ on October 29, 2015, 08:52:18 PM
Cynobacteria is a pain in the butt. No doubt about that. Preventing it is much easier than ridding it, if you are aware of what it is and the causes to begin with. While I agree with the "whammies" described above, I have a slight difference of opinion on the whammy order. The first I totally agree with - vacuum and water changes. EM is an antibiotic and may do more harm than good if fish and bio media are left in the tank while treated. If you have another tank you can temporarily move the fish and store some of the bio media in another filter (or move the existing filter, then you can treat the tank without having to completely break it sown and start over). The third whammy - is like basically starving the cyno out. This can be done by blackout (no to very little light entering the tank), feeding your fish much less and still doing partial water changes while vacuuming and picking up the cyno remnants. (You can also add a phosphorus remover media to your filter at this time also)

Future prevention can be rather easy by taking these steps:

* Check your contents of the food you feed. Much contain phosphorus. Feed foods with less of that.
* If your water supply contain phosphorus, then add a phosphorus remover media to your filter.
* Quarantine future fish and plants.
*  Cyno bacteria is not always blue-green in color (can also be black or red) or appear in slimy sheets. The slimy sheet strain is the pita one though.

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: TwoTankAmin on October 30, 2015, 10:03:34 AM
I would not worry about a single dose of EM, especially in a planted tank. i have never lost my bacteria in any way using EM.

What many people do not know about the bacteria is that they live inside a biofilm along with a variety of other microorganisms. This biofilm provides protection against many things.

Research has shown that it takes chlorine up to 39 times as long to fully penetrate the bio-film than chloramine and that this will not kill the bacteria but only puts them to sleep. Ammonia in the water wakes them back up after the chlorine part is gone.

Monochloramine penetrated fully into nitrifying biofilms within 24 hours when fed at a 4:1 Cl2:N ratio, showing a cessation of aerobic activity via DO penetration following application of monochloramine. However, monochloramine penetration did not necessarily equate to a loss in viability, and the presence of excess ammonia in the water system prevented microbial inactivation. Biofilm recovery occurred when disinfection stopped. Monochloramine showed greater penetration compared to chlorine. Monochloramine penetrated into the biofilm surface layer 49 times faster than chlorine within the nitrifying biofilm and 39 times faster in the multi-species biofilm than did chlorine. Phosphate was found to act positively on biofilm development and nitrification
from (

This is why established nitrifying bacteria are not as easy to eliminate as one often reads. However, the bio-film doesn't make the bacteria bullet-proof, it depends on what is involved as to how it might effect things. It is one thing to rinse media in one's tap for a short period vs. soaking it in a bucket of well chlorinated water over night.

I did try several solutions on my worst bga invaded tank but it never worked permanently until I used the triple whammy. Perhaps I should say that one should use this method only when all else has failed?

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: curve on October 30, 2015, 11:13:13 AM
I still like the UltraLife Product Blue Green Slime Stain Remover.  It contains only natural proprietary ingredients biological accelerators.  It is completely safe for all macro-algae/plants, nitrifying bacteria, and fish. It also contains NO ALGAECIDES OR ERYTHROMYCIN SUCCINATE.

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: russ on October 30, 2015, 04:28:12 PM
Something that has not been brought up as of yet is, what happens when any of the remedies work and you wind up with an extensive cyanobacteria dye-off? Be prepared, because toxins released by the dye-off can affect your fish and other organisms in the tank. Be observant and remove any dye-off as soon as possible. Erythromycin to control cyanobacteria was worked out in the rec.aquaria newsgroups in 1992, you should be able to catch the recapitulation of the posts, archived at The Krib.

I am still not a big fan of Erythromycin to control cyno, but I also concede that it can be a last resort.

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: TwoTankAmin on October 31, 2015, 08:26:41 AM
russ- you hit the nail on the head re the potential for problems with a die off.this is why it is so important that one manually remove as mauch as posible before taking the next steps no matter what they are.

In defense of EM and many other (but not all) antibiotics, look into some of the research re biofilms.

A few years back I noticed on a site the owner was insisting that the nitrifying bacteria, which are gram negative, were gram positive. he based this on how the bacteria appeared to be harmed more by antibiotics for gram positive vs gram negative bacteria. What changed his mind in the end was information I provide him regarding the protective effects of biofilms. I would offer this in support of what I am saying:


When dealing with infected biomedical implants, it is important to recognize that bacteria present in a mature biofilm behave quite differently from their planktonic counterparts. In particular, biofilm organisms are far more resistant to antimicrobial agents than are organisms in suspension. In some extreme cases, the concentrations of antibiotics required to achieve bactericidal activity against adherent organisms can be three to four orders of magnitude higher than for planktonic bacteria, depending on the species-drug combination (9, 85). At least three mechanisms have been proposed to account for the increased resistance of biofilms to antimicrobial agents.
from (

This applies to nitrifying biofilms as well and when these contain a variety if microorganisms, the biofilm becomes even more effective at protecting the inhabitants. This same biofim provides some degree of protection against chlorine which takes some time to penetrate through a biofilm. When chlorine levels are low and exposure is short term, such as when rinsing a filter sponge, the risk of killing off one's bacteria is actually fairly low. Before this might happen, one would have dead fish. However, this does not mean we should give up using dechlor and trying to avoid chlorine or chloramine in tanks. These chemicals can be harmful so there is little reason to risk exposing either bacteria or fish to them.

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: cannsyl on October 31, 2015, 08:53:48 PM
I have taken out all the ornaments I can and cleaned them off, I hacked back all the plants I could to remove as much of this manually as I can.  I have 3 filters (eheim 2217, filstar x4, sunsun 303b)running right now blowing water around (the angels are not excited about that they like it still).  I have tried the blackout and manual removal and big water changes/vacs.  I got Erythromycin today and added 2.5mg/L following an article on this site.  I'm pretty heavily planted.  I'll be watching/cleaning everyday for the week or so to stay on top of the die off.  I use Ed and Ken's foods exclusively ( occasional frozen bloodworms but not very often they are like a holiday treat).  I hope I'm going the right way.  Thanks

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: TwoTankAmin on November 01, 2015, 10:30:12 AM
I would have preferred to see you had siphoned the bga off the plants. It comes off really easily so there was no need to cut up your plants.

I would suggest you use the triple whammy method which includes the blackout and the water changes. It is too late for the first change before adding the meds etc. but it is important fo do the one when the BGA has been killed off. Cyano needs light, so by depriving it of this while treating with antibiotics and eliminating causes makes it much harder for the bga to survive enough to come back.

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: steffelem on November 16, 2015, 09:53:29 PM
Cannsyl, how is your tank coming along? And how are you, now, after surgery? That's a lot of work to do!

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: cannsyl on November 24, 2015, 02:33:52 PM
Its looking pretty good now.  Everything is growing back nicely even the hair algae lol  The BG algae seems to be gone everything is getting back to a nice vibrant green again.  I cut everything back so I wouldn't have so much dead floating around when I used the antibiotic.  It was a jungle in there anyway, and still is really.  I just use gravity to drain my tank with the python in stead of water pressure so I never get a really strong suction  :lame:
I am good too.  Fully recovered...had my gallbladder out but all healed up now.  Back to regular tank maintenance.  Trying to get those angels to breed...they keep laying eggs but not gotten any fry yet.

Thanks for asking :)

Title: Re: Blue Green Algae outbreak...Ugh
Post by: steffelem on November 24, 2015, 10:55:32 PM
glad to hear you're better. That's a tough one! Happy the tank's getting back to normal, too. Maybe the angels will be so happy with the pristine (almost) environment that you'll get little ones for Christmas!