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Blue-green Algae Remedy - 1

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<H1>Blue-green Algae Remedy?</H1><DIV id=Qtextbox><P><STRONG>Author: CThompson</STRONG><BR><BR>In a planted tank in the past, I remedied blue-green algae by increasing the amount of nitrate in my plant fertiliser. In the past I have also used the antibiotic Furan-2 with a successful outcome.

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I have blue-green algae in my Tropheus tank, and don?t want to put nitrate in there for obvious reasons, and though I have some Furan-2 on hand, would seek and alternative method of removal.

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I am wondering if anyone has had any other successful eradication methods to remove blue green algae?

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Craig

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</DIV><H2>Replies »</H2><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: jaz1986</STRONG><BR><BR>Try adding some freshwater mussles to your tank... they suck out algae pretty damn well... I had 2 in a 300L tank that was like pea soup... and they sucked it clean within a week... Although... be warned... they will dig into the gravel... and are strong enough to re-arrange features

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thanks

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jared

</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: CThompson</STRONG><BR><BR>Blue-green algae or, cyaneobacteria, is a bacteria and not plant life as with algae. It is also fixed to surfaces, and not free floating as with green water, where the filtering action of mussels would have impact. You can?t get ride of blue-green algae by increasing the nitrate or adding Furan-2, which is an antibiotic.

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Thanks for your suggestion Jared, but the mussels will have no impact.

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Craig

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</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: MagicaDiSpell</STRONG><BR><BR>Hmm, blu-green algae doesn't sound to good, Craig. Are you sure your filter is running ok? Oh, and adding Furan is not really a good idea. Anti-biotic agents should only be used to cure diseases (not to disinfect kitchen surfaces or to get rid of a nuisance in the tank). Overuse of antibiotics creates resistant strains (and I do word this intentionally, apparently these mutations are not quite as random as the older school of evolutionary teaching would have led us to believe), resistant strains create great trouble later on.

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I only ever encountered blue-green algae problems in tanks, where the filter was crashing. I would suggest treating the cause, rather than the symptom, and your fish will thank you as well.

</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: CThompson</STRONG><BR><BR>G?day Sabine,

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It is my understanding that BG algae is found in association with tanks that are either poorly maintained (hinting at your suggestion of cleaning out my filters), or with low/zero nitrates. When my planted tank was up and running, as now with my Tropheus, poor maintenance is not an issue. My planted tank problem was solved as mentioned above by increasing the amount of nitrate I put into my fertiliser (PMDD).

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In this case, I have a nitrate filter (filled with about 10 L of Denitate) in operation on my tank, and adding nitrate is not an option. The filters themselves were cleaned about five weeks ago, they are two large Ehime (2229 and 232

filters. The tank is 400 L and there are only 15 fish in there. Even though Tropheus are messy buggers, I feel confident that my filters are not an issue.

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My understanding is that when one has a BG algae problem, one has an infection, and not an imbalance in the tank that algae itself would indicate. I also agree, one shouldn?t reach straight for the ?antibiotic?, and that is the reason I posted looking for an alternative to Furan-2. Resistant strains of bacteria will come about through misuse of antibiotics. To me, ?misuse? implies not eradicating all of the bacteria you are targeting, leaving individuals that begin to build up resistance to antibiotics. If one uses antibiotics and destroys all of what you are targeting, you are not creating a resistance build-up in the bacteria.

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It is my thinking that my ?cause? as you put it, is zero nitrates. My tank gets regular 1/3 ? 2/3 water changes, and the change water has Tanganyikan salts, KH generator added to it, water ager, pre-heated, pre-filtered, and aged by one to two weeks. I think you?ll agree that the lack of maintenance side of things is not the issue.

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I appreciate your response Sabine and you have given me food for thought in regards to my filters needing changing, and I will see to that this weekend. You are a very cluey person, so further thoughts on blue-green algae from you would be welcome. Please feel free (as I?m sure you will) to contradict anything I may be erroneous about written above.

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Craig

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</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: CThompson</STRONG><BR><BR>Okay, I cleaned both filters on the weekend, and apart from the propellers and magnet area that I obviously missed last time I cleaned them, they were both clean (clean enough).

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Any more suggestions Sabine.

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Craig

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</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: Willy wombat</STRONG><BR><BR>Craig - isnt it generally an excess of phosphates in your tank that is the problem? The cyanobacteria can use the phosphate as a food source in the absence of nitrogen, unlike normal algae?

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What are you feeding the fish? - there are some low phosphate foods available on the market - but these are probably not suitable for your tropheus.

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Tricky problem mate - i cant think of any good ways to control phophates in your tank? Do you know anyone that can test the amount of phosphates in your tap water - these can be quite high in some regions.

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I know that green keepers on golf courses have big problems keeping cyanobacteria off their greens (which form crusty mats - not good for putting you see.) They use a combination of some fungicides and phosphate controls to overcome the problems, but you dont really want to be putting fungicides into your tank.

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Im stumped - never has that problem. Best of luck with it

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Willy

</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: MagicaDiSpell</STRONG><BR><BR>If I remember my plant physiology correctly, cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) are able to live on forms of nitrogen other than nitrates. That was the reason why I suspected a filter crash. If the nitrogen cycle is somehow not quite working, then the likely symptom is a blue-green algae outbreak.

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Even though blue-green algae have been lumped in with bacteria (because of the absence of a nucleus), I would not regard them as an infection. They are unsightly, I agree, but I doubt that they would harm your fish. They are not a pathogen and therefore I would not recommend the use of antibiotic agents. By the by, if you use an antibiotic on the tank, you will also harm the bacterial flora elsewhere in the tank (the filter and the fish), so think about if that is really what you want to do.

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Hmmm, is there any chance that you might have been tooo fastidious in cleaning the filter. Maybe the nitrogen cycle has been interrupted by the loss of some (or sufficient) bacteria in your filter.

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Craig, you were obviously pretty successful with a planted tank, so why not put that experience to some good use and add plants to your Tropheus tank. You know - some Valisneria or similar - that way you remove nitrates (cut down on your waterchanges), phosphates (which may contribute to your problem), add oxygen (that is always good, especially with the warmer weather starting), adds some interest for fish in a confined space (who wants to stare a furniture all day

) and brightens up the tank (what more can I say?). I know you used to add nitrates, but considering that you are keeping Tropheus, maybe a cutdown version of your previous planted tank would be a good idea. I.e. add your plant supplements without the CO2 (or even with some) and without nitrate.

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Just food for thought.

</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: CThompson</STRONG><BR><BR>

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Willy and Sabine,

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a total pleasure to read your considered responses.

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I feed my Tropheus Sera Flora, I don't know how it goes with phosphate levels, but I do have a test kit for this, and will test it due to your suggestion. I am not sure if phosphate has any bearing on blue-green algae however. With my water changes (I usually do a 1/3 water change weekly for a month to five or so weeks, then do a 2/3 water change), I doubt that phosphate would get to any levels that would have detrimental effects, and with the algae I have growing in there (it gets a hard time from the Tropheus), I expect it would soak up what ever phosphate is there anyway that is left behind after water changes. I feed my fish 3-4 times a day, all food is eaten, and it is fed sparingly, which would also reduce the amount of phosphate I am adding.

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Sabine, I don't understand your explanation of your not regarding them as a bacteria because of the absence of a nucleus. I learned that stuff back in high school, which is too many years ago for me. I take your point though. However, I have read that when one has blue-green algae, your tank has an infection. I do agree that they will not harm the fish, at least, I have never seen it do so, and yes it is unsightly, in the extreme. But one negative impact it does have, is that it covers surfaces that the algae would be growing on. My fish eat the algae, and with blue-green in there, there are less places algae can grow. When I had it in my planted tank (eradicated by increasing the nitrate in my fertiliser), it was so covering, that I lost species of plants that were previously doing so well that I was selling the excess off to aquariums.

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I am not concerned about Furan-2 affecting the nitrifying bacteria in my tank, as it has never done so in the past. I also used Furan-2 in the past on my Tropheus when they had bloat (partially successful) following recommendations from Tropheus experts (the reason I still keep it in stock). However, if I used it now the fish are healthy, I am concerned how the bacteria in the gut of the Tropheus will be affected. When used on Tropheus in the past with bloat, I was on a no-lose kind of situation. But now that there is no problems with the fish, will adding Furan-2 wipe out the beneficial bacteria in their gut that is doing what it is meant to do? This is a big reason why I am looking for another answer to the blue-green algae situation.

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I don't believe one can be too fastidious with tank maintenance (I am definitely not in this category by the way) provided one looks after the bacteria (and to a lesser degree water parameters such as pH). I also have an Ammonia Alert in this Tropheus tank, and it has NEVER had any reading, even when the tank was first set up as I added more biological media to my system tank three months in advance, and added this to the filters the day I put the Tropheus in the tank.

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I don't want to add plants to the tank, as that will not be biotypically correct. There are no plants other than algae in their native biotops, and it would not look good aesthetically to my eyes. I believe any benefits that the higher plant forms can produce, algae can do also, which is why I have 5 NEC Triphosphore florescence on the tank promoting algae growth. Having just a few plants in there (my substrate is not correct for plants anyway), will not have enough impact I believe to make a difference to the oxygen levels, I definitely wont get oxygen saturation as I did with my planted tank. And in any case, when the tank was a plant tank, absolutely chocker-block with plants, they had NO effect on the blue-green algae, so adding plants to my Tropheus tank will make no difference to the current blue-green algae, other than increasing the surface area blue-green algae may attach itself to.

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I use an Ehime Surface Suction Extractor on this tank, which skims the surface of the water leaving it completely free of scum, which creates great surface exchange for oxygen. I do have an airstone in there, but it is not on very hard as I bleed most of it off. Do you think increasing this will have an impact on the blue-green algae? I don't see how myself.

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It has occurred to me to use my PMDD on the Tropheus tank to promote the algae growth, as its growth has reduced as the fish have gotten larger. But I don't feel that I am experienced enough with Tropheus to know how adding such ingredients as nitrate (in particular) will have on the fish. Or if I add it minus the nitrate, wether or not this will be beneficial to the algae. I also don't see how this can affect the blue-green algae as it is not a plant.

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To sum up; I will check my phosphate levels, which I expect to be zero.

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I really feel that my tank has been infected with blue green algae, and it is surviving for the same reason it did so in my planted tank - that is, no nitrate, and probably lots of light is helping it too. I believe my tanks turning over of the nitrate cycle is so successful, including the eradication of nitrate, that this is the route cause of why the blue-green is surviving and increasing.

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Having written all that, it has just occurred to me, that if I turn all my tank lights off for a couple of weeks, being photosynthetic, this should wipe out my blue-green algae? My algae will suffer as well, but I guess this could re-establish itself at a later date. I think I just answered my own question, as I 'm sure this will work! Your suggestions Sabine definitely helped, how long do you think I should leave the lights off for?.

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Craig

</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: MagicaDiSpell</STRONG><BR><BR>Craig, you must have misunderstood. I didn't say that they weren't bacteria, but rather that I would not regard them as an infection, i.e. a pathogen. Not all bacteria are negative either.

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When I mentioned that you might have been too fastidious in cleaning the filter, I thought maybe you removed too much of the bacterial population for the filter to function properly. The ammonia alert, by the way, only picks up ammonia, but not nitrite, which I would suspect to be the culprit here. Have you got a nitrite test kit? Might be interesting to measure that.

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Oxygen levels should have no noticable effect on the growth of blue-green algae.

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I probably woudn't add any nitrate to a Tropheus tank. They don't like that very much. But if you are really keen on doing that, why not scale back your waterchanges a little in frequency.

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Hmm, not so sure about turning off the light. Green algae (my guess is they are the ones that you want to grow) need quite a bit of light in order to thrive. I am not so sure about the pigments in blue-green algae, but I think you might be giving them the advantage in a low-light environment.

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Mind you, sounds like you are at the point where you will try anything. You could always remove some of the algae you want to grow and keep them in a bucket outside for the duration. I am not sure how long you leave your lights on. You could start by switching the lights off for a couple of hours during the day (in some plants and algae is has been shown that it is day-length, rather than total light-duration over 24 hours that determine the success or lack thereof of plants).

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Good luck with it Craig. Keep us up to date.

</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: CThompson</STRONG><BR><BR>I have blue-green algae. I don?t want blue-green algae. To get rid of it, these are my known choices;

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1. Add nitrate

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2. Use the antibiotic Furan-2

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3. Turn the lights off

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Nitrate will not be good for the Tropheus.

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Furan-2 will not be good for the Tropheus gut bacteria (?)(with potential long term problems for antibiotic resistant blue-green algae)

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No light will not be good for the algae.

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I see choice three as the one doing the least harm, so I turned my lights off last night, and they will remain off for a month or for as long as I can stand it. Tropheus will get by without algae for a bit (they don?t survive on algae, but on the food I put in there), and it will regrow once I turn the lights on.

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I know my tank has no ammonia, and I believe I have no nitrate (with a large nitrate filter, and in addition, the blue-green will support this). I can?t have nitrite without nitrate or ammonia. I will test this tonight though as I have all these test kits.

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I have two efisubstate filled baskets in my Ehime filters (one in each) they are rinsed in water from the tank whenever the filter is cleaned. The bacteria will remain unaffected by this, as you?ll agree.

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I'll get back to you.

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Craig

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</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: YeW2001</STRONG><BR><BR>Craig -

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Have you added any rocks to the tank recently? I've found in the past that some rocks appear to contain partially soluble/soluble minerals which contain either nitrate or phosphate (or chemicals which get broken down by other microbiological processes to these substrates).

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Just thought I'd mention this in case you've recently added a "nice rock" - which may be the source of the problem.

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</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: Willy wombat</STRONG><BR><BR>Hi Craig -

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Tested your phosphate levels for me yet? These blue green algae are pretty clever - their ability to pull atmospheric nitrogen from the water is a big factor that makes them difficult to control, once they get into your tank.

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I have attached some interesting articles for you to peruse at your lesuire.

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interesting reading

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archived articles

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Really in terms of controling algae or cyanobacteria you need to control either

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1. light

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2. or nutrients.

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If you use antibiotics it will treat the symptom but wont solve the problem in the long run.

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This products (im not sure if it is available in Australia? - but it probably is) may be able to help you:

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possible non-antibiotic cure

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Anyway let us know how it all goes.

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Cheerios

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WW

</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: CThompson</STRONG><BR><BR>Yew, I have not added any rocks or anything new to the tank for months. All rocks and substrate are of the same volcanic origin, basalt.

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Willy wombat ? phosphate level is 1.0ppm. Ammonia = 0 and nitrate the same, 0.

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Thanks for the links you sent me, they were very comprehensive, but one part stayed with me written in ?interesting reading?; ?I try to remember this gift of atmospheric oxygen, when I'm siphoning the slimy cyanobacterial sheets off my gravel, and I try to feel grateful. But that was then, and this is now.?

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It mentioned reducing the photo period, but didn't say turn the lights off. I will have to go back and read at greater leisure

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Craig

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<p></P></DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: merjo</STRONG><BR><BR>Sabine's advice is correct - at least that's what she taught me at Uni!!! Drop us a line Sabine and find out what your favourite star pupil is up to now!!!......Shoooooooosh!!

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Andrea

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merrileebrennand@bigpond.com

</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: MagicaDiSpell</STRONG><BR><BR>Craig,

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I think you might have your nitrogen cycle backwards there. Ammonia is converted to nitrite and that is converted to nitrate. So, yes you can have nitrite without nitrate. In fact, if you don't measure any nitrate (without waterchanges and while feeding fish, which is of course not the case here), I would say that is a definite indicator that the nitrogen cycle is not working properly, I wouldn't even have to test.

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I can tell that you are getting quite exasperated with the blue-green algae. Are there any catfish that might be able to help you????? Just another thought.

</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: CThompson</STRONG><BR><BR>Thanks for all your input again Sabine. I don?t have my nitrogen cycle backwards though, and am very familiar with it and understand fully with your reasoning in regards to no nitrate as you explained.

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I tested again a few parameters, ammonia zero, and the same with nitrate. I feel that without those two, there can be no nitrite so didn?t test this area.

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Phosphate in water change barrel = zero, in tank 1.0ppm, after another 2/3 water change phosphate dropped to 0.5ppm. Sera Flora has a detailed 1.1ppm of phosphorus. I don?t overfeed so feel a little trapped here.

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I turned a light on my tank yesterday to do water change, first time since last Tuesday. There is a dramatic loss of blue-green algae, along with the algae, which the Tropheus have scoured nearly back to rock.

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Craig

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<p></P></DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: MagicaDiSpell</STRONG><BR><BR>Craig,

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You misunderstand. If for some reason your denitrifying bacteria are not doing their job, you will not get nitrate at all. Denitrifying bacteria convert nitrITE to nitrATE. That is why it is so important to check for nitrite. The nitrate measure would be meaningless in this case.

</DIV><DIV id=Atextbox><P><STRONG>Author: CThompson</STRONG><BR><BR>Without bacteria, you won't get nitRATE, with out bacteria, you won't get nitRITE. Without bacteria you will get Ammonia. If one has no Ammonia, then it must be getting broken down aerobic bacteria break ammonia to nitRITE, they also break it down to nitRATE. Anaerobic bacteria break nitRATE down. I have a fully operational nitRATE filter, which is why I have no nitrate in the tank (coupled with water changes). I have no Ammonia, either in my waterchange barrel (in the tap water) nor do I have any ammonia in my fish tank itself.

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If I?ve got no Ammonia (along with no nitrate), and I?ve got fish in the tank (ie, producers of ammonia), then my denitrifying bacteria are doing their job. Unless there is something radical in my understanding that is wrong, I don?t understand what you are driving at Sabine.

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If I take it that I am wrong in not only my understanding if the nitrite cycle, but also in my ability to water test correctly, then I would have sick Tropheus, as they will not handle ammonia, nitrite, or to a lesser extent, nitrate. My fish, though still living in the dark (it will be two weeks this Tuesday the 2nd), are fighting fit and hungry. This in itself would indicate a fully functioning cycled tank, yes?

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Even though my tank is in a dark corner, last night I put a towel around it to further cut any ambient light that may be helping the blue green algae to hold on, as I noted a few small spots where it had grown back, and they were all close to the front of the tank.

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Stopping the light in the tank seems to be doing the job, so if anyone else out there has blue-green algae, this is a drug free method, that so far seem to be able to get ride of cynobacteria.

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Craig

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