Planted tank before the new aquascape

How I removed BBA from my fish tank

How I removed BBA.

Iv never had a tank without plants. So to be honest ripping out all my plants and being able to see everything was something I wanted to experience. A fresh start. The reason I recently done this (recent to this post) is to completely remove BBA (Black Beard Algae).

My planted tank before I removed all the plants
My planted tank before I removed all the plants

My only worry was that the fish might freak out. Once there are no plants left, and nothing to hide behind they could potentially die from the stress. Especially the Otocinclus as they mostly hide behind the plants on the back wall, and my Rainbows, Diamond Tetras tend to dominate the tank. However I found a different kind of behaviour with the Otos that I’ll talk about towards the bottom of the post.

The problem

BBA has been growing for months in the tank now. After many hours on many separate occasions I have chopped it all out, scrubbed it and scraped it out. The BBA still persisted. I used triple dosing of Excel which I’m pretty sure killed off many of my Diamond Tetras (Down from 18 to now 10). H202 spot dosing worked but the BBA just kept spreading. So my efforts were useless.

BBA in my planted aquarium
Plants covered with the Black beard (brush) algae
BBA in my planted aquarium
It may not look like much, but when the whole tank is covered it can become very unsightly

How it all started

I’m pretty sure the BBA appeared because I started dosing Excel to ‘help plant growth’. Fluctuating co2 levels can be the cause of BBA, as the algae adapts quicker than the plants.

Eventually, I had enough of how bad the BBA looked. So I ripped out all my plants. I don’t dose anything anymore and my lights are only on for 6 hours a day. Something that can help is removing high biological waste such as dead plant matter and of course any dead bodies, so I thoroughly cleaned out my 406 canister filter.

I love this giant villas, I’ll be restocking as soon as I’m satisfied the BBA has disappeared

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Removing giant, jungle Vallis from my planted aquarium

What Iv now done

After trying everything suggested online, how i removed BBA was to completely remove all my plants. After removing all plants I forked out for some decent looking rocks. Rather than my normal cobbles I found from the garden. These will provide some sort of hiding place for the time being, although not very tall, until I can start replanting. They’ll also have algae grow on them for the Otos, over time.

New rocks for aquascaping, and my old cobbles
My new rocks, and the old cobbles I’ll no longer be using
New rocks for aquascpaing, and my old cobbles
These new rocks, are more of a natural looking aquarium rock and go really well with the black gravel

My fish went a bit crazy at first having a large open tank and no cover. However not long after, they settled back down very quickly. The Otos which I thought would have a hard time coping without all the plants actually seem to do better.

My aquarium after removing all my plants
How I removed BBA, I removed all my plants and started again
How I removed BBA by removing all my plants
The empty tank with my new rocks placed inside

Preventing BBA from coming back

The number one cure to preventing BBA, or any algae issue, is to figure out whats causing it. For example, too much light, too many nutrients, not enough nutrients etc. So that my efforts aren’t wasted im going to prevent it growing back, by planting more plants.

So before, I had a tank full of Vallis. While this is a lot of plants, maybe Vallis isnt the best at using up all those excess nutrients compared to floating plants or something like Pothos. Especially if it isn’t growing fast. This would allow Algae such as BBA to thrive. So after I removed all my BBA covered plants, I added a load of plants from my Shrimp tank, and a ton of Pothos from eBay. Read about what Pothos does, and how to add it to your aquarium here. To put it short, Pothos is great for soaking up all those nutrients making it hard for algae to grow. The floating plants are also great for doing this.

At the moment that’s all the plants I have added, keeping my eye on any new signs of Black Beard Algae. So with those two plants combined, I should be on my way to preventing future algae growth.

Unusual behaviour

After removing all the plants and having an open tank, with a few fancy rocks, the Ocotocinclus now swim around searching the ground for food and demolish any vegetables I put in. Before i’d see them before occasionally at night on the vegetables and you could tell something had been at it. But now however they’ll finish off a slice of pepper or cucumber until all is gone but the skin. This was not my expectation at all.

#otocinclus #otocincluscatfish

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New aquascape with all plants removed and new rocks added

New aquascape with all plants removed and new rocks added

The plan

Once I’m convinced the BBA has stopped growing, and is no longer spreading, ill order a whole load of plants. Probably enough to plant the entire the tank in one or two goes. I have also ordered some Seachem Root Tabs once in preparation for the new plants.