Lake Malawi Species • Black Beard Algae Help...

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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby DJRansome » Fri Mar 26, 2021 5:30 pm

IMO BN do not eat black brush but your mileage may vary. It's growing now and you want it to stop right there? Reduce the stocking, reduce the light, reduce feeding, reduce nitrates and eliminate phosphates altogether. If you do all these things just a little, maybe you can stop the increase of the algae.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby BC in SK » Sat Mar 27, 2021 11:22 pm

sir_keith wrote: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.

Not true at all. Many, if not most fish will eat it.
I think it's the expectation that fish will some how completely eliminate it or eradicate it, that leads to statements that fish do not eat it. But they certainly do.
If you have a lot of black brush algae in the tank, and grow it well enough......you will see that even most cichlids will eat it at some point in time. Mbuna will graze on it occasionally. Go a week with out feeding the fish and especially young mbuna, will spend a fair amount of time grazing on it. The green waste coming out of the fish, after a week with out adding food in the tank, is proof they actually eat the stuff. Another example , I had a large female Blackbelt that was a fairly fussy eater. Since I feed variety, there were short periods of time feeding frozen, and no pellets, and she would not eat what I was feeding. Not only do I see her eating the black brush algae, but i see the waste coming out of her is green. Now, with really established Black Brush algae, I'll grant that cichlids won't eat enough of it to make any real difference.
But algae eaters such as common pleco (Pterygoplichthys pardalis), Gold-spot salifin pleco (Pterygoplichthys joselimaianus, CAE, and BN pleco will not only eat it, but they will consume huge amounts of it. Huge amounts! Again, it's the expectation that a fish would eradicate or eliminate it that leads to the notion they won't eat the stuff. Many of these algae eaters will spend most of their day making a pass over the algae. There is a very noticeable difference between black brush algae that is less then 1/8" or black brush algae that has grown to 1/2" or more. By making a pass over it every day, the new growth is eaten, and the algae stays very short. These same tanks with the algae eater removed, and now no algae eater in the tank, the black brush algae grows to 1/2" or longer with in a few months. Put the algae eater back in the tank, and after many months, it will be eaten back down to 1/8" or less. Another example, when I only had a CAE in my 180 gal. , he was kept away from the ends of the tank by aggressive cichlids. Unable to make a pass at both ends of the tank, the black brush grew to over 1/2" at both ends but was kept down to less the 1/8" in the middle part of the tank.
None of these fish are "goats". They won't eliminate a source of food by eating it down to nothing. But they certainly will eat it. And algae eaters, large amounts of it. Occasionally, a common pleco will eliminate very old black brush algae by spending a number of hours on a rock, or completely eliminate dying black brush that has turned red/pink (for example when a rock has been placed on top of BB blocking out the light for many days/weeks and then the rock is removed exposing the dying algae) but normally they only eat the new, young growth.
Now, one place I don't really want Black brush algae in my tanks is on the plastic plants. My bigger plecos, like the common and Joselmanius do not even go on plastic plants as the surfaces are really not large enough for them to go on let alone frequent. So every few many months I remove the plastic plants to treat them and it completely eliminates the algae on their surfaces. My very first attempt was with hydrogen peroxide . I did this in the bath tub. At the time I had a 6 foot piece of drift wood with plastic plant tied to it. Oddly enough, the middle part of the 6 foot drift wood did not die off very much, and with in about 2 weeks looked just as it did before while the rest of the plastic plants looked like new again. I rinsed the plastic plants by submerging them in hot water to get rid of the hydrogen peroxide but since the 6 ft. piece of driftwood was longer the the bath tub only the ends got submerged and the middle only got water pored over it. It then became obvious to me that it was actually the hot water treatment that had killed the BB and not so much the hydrogen peroxide. I have used a hot water treatment many times over the last few years and it works 100% to kill BB algae.(though it can grow back in a matter of weeks/months). I also just realized why I have a curved streak along the side of my 125 gal. where the BB is very short (and almost eliminated in comparison to the lush growth on the other side of the streak). It's where the water runs off the wall of the tank when I put back new water during a water change. The wall is submersed in new water and exposed to chloramine for the time it takes to fill the tank. So I think it's not just the heat of a hot water treatment that makes it so effective, but at least in part to chloramine. Its speculation on my part, but many algae can have symbiotic relationships with bacteria, and BB may very well be one of those. Chloramine kills bacteria; might be killing bacteria that it needs to survive.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby sir_keith » Sun Mar 28, 2021 12:49 am

BC in SK wrote:
sir_keith wrote: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.

...Not true at all. Many, if not most fish will eat it... I think it's the expectation that fish will some how completely eliminate it or eradicate it, that leads to statements that fish do not eat it...


I actually agree with most of what you said, and in some respects the issue is one of semantics. At a practical level, the issue is not which fishes will eat black beard algae, or whether fishes will eradicate black beard algae, it's whether some fishes will control it in an aquarium under normal (non-starving) conditions. Some fishes can do that to a much greater extent that most, amongst them are the usual suspects- SAE's (and a handful of other cyprinids), some plecos, mollies, flagfish, etc.. Adding such fishes to an aquarium with a black beard algae problem is a useful, if incomplete, way of dealing with the problem. I believe that's what the OP was asking about, because clearly his Mbuna were not doing a very good job of controlling his black beard algae problem.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby BC in SK » Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:02 am

sir_keith wrote:
I actually agree with most of what you said, and in some respects the issue is one of semantics. At a practical level, the issue is not which fishes will eat black beard algae, or whether fishes will eradicate black beard algae, it's whether some fishes will control it in an aquarium under normal (non-starving) conditions. Some fishes can do that to a much greater extent that most, amongst them are the usual suspects- SAE's (and a handful of other cyprinids), some plecos, mollies, flagfish, etc.. Adding such fishes to an aquarium with a black beard algae problem is a useful, if incomplete, way of dealing with the problem. I believe that's what the OP was asking about, because clearly his Mbuna were not doing a very good job of controlling his black beard algae problem.

Yes, we are pretty much in agreement. I just think it is important to point out that many fish will eat it, not just SAE's. I regard plecos as sort of a "lawn mower". First of all, you need to have enough of it to make it worth while for the pleco to feed off of it. Large enough flat surfaces, as well. They won't waste the energy if they can't get enough food from it.
But if your intention is to get rid of it entirely, I think you'll have to look beyond algae eating fish.
Getting back to the hot water treatment that I use every few months on my plastic plants, i think this could be a fairly simple solution for some people. If you want the black beard algae off your rocks or other decor, take them out of the tank, fill a 5 gal. pale with as hot as water will come out of your tap and place the decor in the pale for about an hour. You could even do this in stages if you do not want to remove all of your decor at once. To give everyone an idea how effective this treatment is, I have a recent video taken 4 days after my plastic plants were treated with hot water. The bottom and sides of my 125 gal. tank are covered with a thin layer of a stucco pre-mix (sand and cement). This was done largely to provide a better surface for Black Beard to attach to. The base of my plastic plants are made from the same material (stuccco pre-mix). Note on the video the lack of BB on the plastic plants, as well as how 'clean' the base of the plastic plants are (same material as bottom and sides of tank) since the base also received the hot water treatment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ohx9uUQEcIg Now in 6-8 months the plastic plants will get reseeded and start to look much like the bottom and sides of the tank and require a new hot water treatment, but it definitely removes BB for a period of time.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby DJRansome » Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:15 am

Agree with all. My fish may have eaten any and all algae...probably did. But they did not work as a control measure for me with no change in other feeding.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby sir_keith » Sun Mar 28, 2021 12:11 pm

BC in SK wrote: ...Getting back to the hot water treatment that I use every few months on my plastic plants, i think this could be a fairly simple solution for some people. If you want the black beard algae off your rocks or other decor, take them out of the tank, fill a 5 gal. pale with as hot as water will come out of your tap and place the decor in the pale for about an hour. You could even do this in stages if you do not want to remove all of your decor at once. To give everyone an idea how effective this treatment is, I have a recent video taken 4 days after my plastic plants were treated with hot water. The bottom and sides of my 125 gal. tank are covered with a thin layer of a stucco pre-mix (sand and cement). This was done largely to provide a better surface for Black Beard to attach to. The base of my plastic plants are made from the same material (stuccco pre-mix). Note on the video the lack of BB on the plastic plants, as well as how 'clean' the base of the plastic plants are (same material as bottom and sides of tank) since the base also received the hot water treatment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ohx9uUQEcIg Now in 6-8 months the plastic plants will get reseeded and start to look much like the bottom and sides of the tank and require a new hot water treatment, but it definitely removes BB for a period of time...


Yes, maybe for some people, but not very useful for tanks like this, with abundant live plants. Black beard algae loves to grow in the dense, intertwined roots of established Anubias, and if that happens, the only way I've found to combat it is with SAE's, who love picking algae off all the tight spaces in the roots. As you pointed out earlier, plecos have no interest whatsoever in algae that is this difficult to collect. :fish:

P. S.- Don't mind the Java ferns in pots; they just arrived and I have yet to attach them to rocks.

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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby SenorStrum » Mon Mar 29, 2021 3:45 pm

Good advice all the way down the thread. Did you mention whether you have plants?

I had to figure out how to operate within the confines of having plants in my Mbuna tanks (Devastating story for another thread) and still control algae. Siamese Algae Eaters (SAE's) DO go very well with Mbuna. The more there are together, the better they seem to do, though. I guess they're scooling fish because I had a single SAE in a tank for a few days and he absolutely lost his mind and hid. We threw some Afra cobues in there and he came right out and started schooling with them and was back to his old self. I have a group of 7 of them in the big tank. No problems, and they keep hair algae and BBA to a minimum. They do not require plants.

AND bristlenose plecos. They eat different types of algae, and get along well. Here though, I would offer one thing - just get the brown ones. They make albinos and super reds and lemon drops and whatever, but...like... cichlids...right? They're curious, persistent, and have the social manners of a middle-schooler. Do you remember middle school? Did you want to stick out? More camouflaged is more better, IME. We found this with Albie the Albino pleco. Andre the Acei would not leave him alone, but there was really not anywhere to hide. My wife and I are available to help you come up with names for your fish for a nominal fee.

Lights- lots of discussion on lights. People wanna tell you to turn them off. I am not as strong of will as DJRansome. I want to see the fishes :) I took a cue from Diana Walstad's excellent book "The Ecology of the Planted Aquarium" and started running my lights with a "siesta" period in the middle of the day of about 4 hours. It helps to slow the algae down at least when balanced with plants, by limiting the afternoon algae advantage.

If you want chemical control, you can dose Seachem Excel. This is actually a disinfectant called gluteraldehyde which will kill algae, and everything else if used wrong. You can dose to the instructions on the bottle, and it will help to knock it back, but what I've found is really effective is to mix it 3:1 water to excel and put it in a spray bottle and label it very well "DANGER POISON!" cause that's what it is, and then spray the offending algae with it outside of the water. Remove the rock, or lower the water level, or whatever, and then rinse it off after about 1 minute. I've used this technique to get green spot off anubias leaves, as well as BBA off rocks. It will turn orange/red within a day or two and die way back. Repeat every couple of weeks as necessary. I just leave it there as part of the aufwuchs as mentioned above.
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Re: Black Beard Algae Help...

Postby DJRansome » Mon Mar 29, 2021 6:17 pm

SenorStrum wrote:Lights- lots of discussion on lights. People wanna tell you to turn them off. I am not as strong of will as DJRansome. I want to see the fishes :) I took a cue from Diana Walstad's excellent book "The Ecology of the Planted Aquarium" and started running my lights with a "siesta" period in the middle of the day of about 4 hours. It helps to slow the algae down at least when balanced with plants, by limiting the afternoon algae advantage
I tried this but it did not work for me. What did work was injecting CO2 but I did not want to invest in a system for the long term.
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