Cyanobacteria in the Aquarium: What It Is and How to Get Rid of It
One of the biggest challenges for aquarium owners is an outbreak of single celled organisms called cyanobacteria. They are casually referred to as blue-green algae because they are typically bluish green in color (although sometimes black or red) and aquatic; they are, in fact, microscopic bacteria that, when prolific, form into shiny sheets that look like algae.
Cyanobacteria also act like algae because they create their own food through photosynthesis. Given enough light and nutrients in the water, cyanobacteria can cause a bacterial bloom that can lead to major problems in the aquarium.
A cyanobacterial bloom may be free-floating greenish brown particles that make the water look hazy. The bacteria may also colonize into ugly films of slimy looking growth covering rocks and plants in the aquarium. Uncontrolled, a bacterial bloom can gather into foam or scum on the surface of the tank and give off a nasty rotten smell. At any rate, the proliferation of cyanobacteria is an indication that the nutrients that feed it – organic matter and waste products – are excessive in the water, which can only mean that the fish are in grave danger.
Cyanobacteria problems can be prevented with good fishkeeping conditions and attentive maintenance. In the event that a cyanobacterial bloom occurs, several steps can be taken, the first of which is to reduce the amount of light exposure in the tank. Because cyanobacteria thrive through photosynthesis, depriving them of light curtails their growth.
Together with reduced lighting, an effective way to fight cyanobacteria is consecutive water changes. Water changes up to 20% every three to four days will reduce the concentration of phosphates and waste material that feed the cyanobacteria. Test kits for nitrates and cyanobacteria are helpful in determining when healthy levels have been achieved. And to prevent future problems, it is best to maintain the aquarium with just the right number of fish, highly efficient filtration, and no over-feedings.
At times, though, cyanobacterial bloom can be unrelenting enough to defy light deprivation and water changes. Some fishkeepers resort to antibacterial chemicals, which could be equally detrimental to fishes and plants. A greener, more eco-friendly solution is the EcoBio-Block Family Products, originally designed and currently being used to degrade toxins and pollutants from lakes, streams, and reservoirs in many Asian countries.
EcoBio-Stones, and EcoBio-Pebbles are porous, mineral-rich volcanic stones from Japan. They are embedded with prolific beneficial bacteria (“bacillus subtilis natto”) that can actively multiply every half hour into colonies that degrade organic matter and nitrify waste products in the water. Because they degrade the organic matter that feeds cyanobacteria, the internet radio show Pet Fish Talk feels strongly that EcoBio-Block helped clear up their cyanobacteria problem. (click hear the Special Pet Fish Talk titled “Cyanobacteria”)
Cyanobacteria cannot be totally eliminated from the aquarium. Overgrowth and its toxic consequences, however, can be prevented with optimum water conditions through diligent aquarium maintenance together with proven eco-friendly solutions like the EcoBio-Block products.
May 7, 2009 at 2:59 PM