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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
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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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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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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DJRansome said:
...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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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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DJRansome said:
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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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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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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Smeagol said:
...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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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
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!

G
 

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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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sir_keith said:
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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BC in SK said:
sir_keith said:
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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sir_keith said:
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.
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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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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