Lake Malawi Species • Black Beard Algae Help...

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Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby GarPac19 » Wed Mar 24, 2021 4:56 pm

Does anyone have a "tried and true" method for removing Black Beard Algae from a 90 gal tank with 25 Mbunas? I believe my issue is overdosing with nutrients (ie. Cichlid Trace, Salt etc) as cause of the problem. That said, I'd perfer to treat entire tank since BBA seems to be spreading daily. I appreciate any insight/help for fixing this issue.

Thanks all.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby DJRansome » Wed Mar 24, 2021 5:33 pm

I don't have a chemical that will remove it, keep it away and not hurt your plants or fish.

If you remove the source of the problem it will diminish over time and disappear permanently.

Same as any plant, light and nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates make it grow. Remove those and it will go away.

Water changes to keep nitrates at 10ppm or under. Feed less and remove debris from filter and substrate. Scrub your rocks to remove it physically as much as possible. I scrub then soak mine in a hydrogen peroxide solution while I am draining and refilling my tank. If possible I remove the rocks and soak in a bucket. For monster rocks dribble minute amounts of hydrogen peroxide on the exposed surface during a water change, minimizing the amount that gets into the tank water.

Then cut off the light. My tanks have lights off 24/7 except when I have guests. The room is naturally lit by 2 west facing windows but there is a porch overhang so not much natural sunlight, but plenty of light to see the tanks unless I am doing an inspection.

Once you are algae free you can experiment with a number of hours you can have tank lights on without the algae starting up again.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby GarPac19 » Wed Mar 24, 2021 6:27 pm

Makes sense and thank you.

Also, i failed to mentioned that the problem arose when i did an entire substrate change to coral and shells. This algae growth began about 1 month after laying in the new substrate i mentioned - like a reddish brown color (new to me after 30 years in the Hobby). Any other thoughts are appreciated.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby DJRansome » Wed Mar 24, 2021 6:41 pm

Reddish brown when adding substrate that has any silicone in it (like actual sand) often brings diatoms for months, but it eventually goes away on it's own. Black brush algae is a different thing.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby GarPac19 » Wed Mar 24, 2021 6:49 pm

got it straight now, thank you.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby sir_keith » Thu Mar 25, 2021 8:29 am

Biological control: Crossocheilus oblongus. Works for me! :thumb:

siamese-algae-eater.jpg
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby DJRansome » Thu Mar 25, 2021 6:54 pm

sir_keith, don't they like plants and to be in groups? They would be OK in a 90G with 25 mbuna??

25 mbuna is a lot for a 90G IMO unless they are all demasoni.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby sir_keith » Thu Mar 25, 2021 8:51 pm

DJRansome wrote: ...sir_keith, don't they like plants and to be in groups?... They would be OK in a 90G with 25 mbuna?...

I don't see why not. The SAE's do like plants, but they are not essential. And they do like to be kept in groups. I keep Tanganyikans exclusively, and have SAE's in all my tanks larger than 55g, usually in groups of six. This includes several tanks containing Tropheus, which are the Tanganyikan eco-equivalent of Mbuna. The SAE's are fine, now ~3"TL at 3-4 years old. Don't believe all the online claims that they grow to 5-6"; this seems to be true only in really large tanks with massive water flow, or in ponds. It's worth a try! :thumb:
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby DJRansome » Thu Mar 25, 2021 8:54 pm

I've always wanted to try but was put off by their requirements. And of course now I have no algae. Do they eat regular fish food if the algae is gone?
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby sir_keith » Thu Mar 25, 2021 9:07 pm

DJRansome wrote:I've always wanted to try but was put off by their requirements. And of course now I have no algae. Do they eat regular fish food if the algae is gone?


Sure, they thrive on spirulina flakes. This is a lousy pic of one of my Ophthalmotilapia tanks (too many reflections from the afternoon sunlight), but you can see that the SAE's seem to be having fun schooling together. They are very social fishes, and I think they're pretty.

IMG_2259.jpg
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby Smeagol » Fri Mar 26, 2021 12:21 am

Why is algae a problem? I thought mbuna are natural grazers that like to graze algae off rocks. I even read some threads where people said they are trying to grow algae for their mbuna to graze on.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby DJRansome » Fri Mar 26, 2021 8:31 am

It's great if you get the right kind to grow slowly enough for the fish to keep it trimmed. Most people like the green algae.

It is hard to get the kind you want and to achieve a balance to provide enough for the fish without a six inches of raggedy looking algae, or black bristles all over everything.

The threads you want to find are the ones that start off like you describe and then keep reading about when it gets out of control.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby nathanieltyler90 » Fri Mar 26, 2021 9:23 am

Yeah I would add some a few algae eating fishes there, instead of using any chemicals that may harm your existing tank.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby sir_keith » Fri Mar 26, 2021 1:46 pm

Smeagol wrote: ...Why is algae a problem? I thought mbuna are natural grazers that like to graze algae off rocks...


It depends on what kind of algae you're talking about. There are only a handful of freshwater aquarium fishes that will eat black beard algae, and none of the Mbuna are among them. SAE's are perhaps the best known fishes that will eat black beard algae.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby GarPac19 » Fri Mar 26, 2021 2:47 pm

Gents - i truly appreciate all the insight regarding algae growth and/or Tank management. My situation, is new and looks kinda nice anyway. Am just trying to avoid reaching a level that becomes out of the ordinary. Also, for variety and contrast, i am considering a Bristle Nose Pleco, thoughts?

BTW @ DJransome, thanks again for your speedy input. For clarification, it's 25 Mbunas between Lab Hongis and White Labs, all raised together and getting along well, even for the occasional dart between Males.

Look forward to comments!

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