Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cyanobacteria…what is it, and can we get rid of it very easily?

Cyanobacteria…what is it, and can we get rid of it very easily?

The short answer is NO! Once it plagues your pond or fish aquarium it’s there to stay. If you want to use the word it’s very contagious, then it would be rightfully so. It is in every water biotope in the world and it’s one bacterium that is next to impossible to totally get rid of completely. Even with antibiotics it will eventually become resistant to them and become a super bug.

It has the capabilities to photosynthesize and gets it energy through such. It’s prokaryotic and it is known to be the earliest form of microorganism life on the planet, better known as Blue-Green Algae (a filamentous form of algae) or String Algae, which is a misnomer used for its name. The chloroplasts found in higher order plants and eukaryotic algae all evolved from cyanobacterial ancestors by means of endosymbiosis. 

If left unabated it can grow to several feet long and cover everything in sight. It can and will make a beautiful pond and/or aquarium look unsightly to onlookers. It will cover and smothers any competing plant life it clings to including saltwater inhabitants like in mini-reef aquariums. It takes no prisoners and makes everything its breeding ground. The older your system is (pond or aquarium), the better it likes it.

Normally a newly set up aquarium is not plagued with this bacterium, but as it ages then all bets are off. Even with proper maintenance and water changes it will eventually show up.

The small 5-gal experimental aquarium in the next eight photos is now over two years old. It has been cleaned up some with the cropping of the cyanobacteria long thread like stands before disinfection takes place.  Through the 8-day pictorial history you will be able to see just how one tablespoon of Hydrogen Peroxide @ 3% solution will bring this bacteria under control and yet not hurt the higher order of plants or its inhabitance.

Hydrogen Peroxide is a very strong oxidizing liquid/chemical that when use in an aquarium and/or pond reacts like Ozone can and becomes a bacteria disinfectant. Barley Straw actually makes a form of Hydrogen Peroxide that is slowly released through bacteria decomposition of the straw back into solution to help control this nuisance bacterium.

A better way of controlling cyanobacteria is with the antibiotics that are naturally created through the biological filter like that in an AFS. The problem is as filters age (clog) their ability to create enough of these antibiotic substances are lessen. In the pond this could be because of a change in weather conditions that will in turn affect the filter ability to produce these antibiotic in greater numbers to adversely influence the cyanobacterial growth. In the aquarium the filter also plays the same role but the gravel and available foodstuffs may become more assessable to the cyanobacteria to get a better stronghold in such a small confined space.

A lot of hobbyists believe the competition of available foodstuffs with higher order plants will be too competitive for cyanobacteria to grow, but they are wrong. Many algae’s along with cyanobacteria will begin to form on plant leaves as the tank or pond ages. Caridina multidentata AKA: Amano Shrimp from Japan may be a good Band-Aid at first for some of the algae’s but not all and definitely not for cyanobacteria.  The plethora of different algae’s can overwhelm the hobbyist into submission if evasive action isn’t taken immediately to rectify the problem. 
So, with each monthly water change a little Hydrogen Peroxide added to the replacement water will go a long way in keeping cyanobacteria under control.
Day one, Hydrogen Peroxide is added.

Day two.
Day three.
Day four.
Day five.

Day six.

Day seven.
Day eight.

Not 100% gone but under control.

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