420 Magazine Background

Brown Algae cyanobacteria and the Cure

Michael Hunt

Well-Known Member
Howdy folks!

Been battling some serious pathogens in my reservoir the past few months and figured since there isnt much info on the site regarding this exact issue, I would share what i have learned so far.

What is this “brown slime algae cyanobacteria” he’s talking about, you might ask. This isnt some snotty root slime that clouds reservoirs and smells on rotten eggs. It’s far harder to deal with than that. It grows in thick whitish clumps on airstones and any porous surface in the reservoir. Cracks in fittings, elbows, pumps, water chillers, EVERYWHERE. It’ll grow so thick it can clog even a 2” drain line. It also coats roots and suffocates/ starves plants. It has a very subtle earthy smell to it and does not cloud the water.

Through research and weeks of experimentation, this bacterial “infection” can survive in the light or dark, oxygen rich or depleted waters, cold or warm, H2O2 (30+%) seems to feed it as it appears to reproduce rapidly with large amounts of oxygen, bleach doesnt eradicate it. Sent roughly 2 gallons of it through a 10 gallon system only for the blooms to come back. Physan20 seems to knock it down significantly but is really hard on plants. Even after heavy doses of physan, the bloom came back in about 5 days. Beneficial bacteria, and enzyme treatments only make it worse. Tea recipe's can mitigate the problem, but one lapse and BOOM! Its back. If any of the above treatments cures your problem, you likely do NOT have this bacteria in your system. Consider yourself lucky.

At this point, it seemed all hope was lost of ever getting rid of this nasty s***. Until, my research led me into the reef tank world. You know, fish tanks, with living coral and other aquatic plants in them. Turns out these folks deal with waterborn pathogens, algae, bacteria and other water based demons i wouldnt wish on a worst enemy all the time. All while still maintaining living plants and creatures in the water. Perfect. Maybe there’s a solution in here that wont harm our delicate root systems. And there is. It’s called Erythromycin. Commonly used for wide range of bacterial infections in humans and animals, including fish. (Hint hint, a water soluble solution to mix into a fish tank, or this case a reservoir).

Low and behold, most local pet stores carry this stuff in little powder packets. Or a larger, much pricier tub ($189US here). It takes 4 days to do a full dose of treatments. And, i have not gotten to test this with plants in the system since we have lost the last 3 plants i’ve tried to run to this bacteria. But, its been 2 weeks since the first 4 day treatment, with no water changes at all, and everything is still crystal clear and no algae/bacteria growth OF ANY KIND. Since this stuff is designed to be used in fish/reef tanks, i cant imagine its going to harm root systems.

To sum this up, if you have this mystery growth in your reservoir, and NONE of the traditional methods seem to work, dont start replacing everything like i did before giving ERYTHROMYCIN a try. I’ve got another seedling on the way and will get to test this out with a plant here soon. I’ll make sure to report back on that once she’s in the water. Also going to test out a low “maintenance dose” of erythromycin with every water chance to ensure it never comes back.

I hope this helps someone out there trudging through the endless pages of funky reservoir cures out there.

Good luck out there and happy growing! :yummy:
 

Bill284

Member of the Month: March 2021; April 2022 - Grow Journal of the Month: April 2021 - Plant of the Month: Nov 2021 - Member of the Year: 2021
Howdy folks!

Been battling some serious pathogens in my reservoir the past few months and figured since there isnt much info on the site regarding this exact issue, I would share what i have learned so far.

What is this “brown slime algae cyanobacteria” he’s talking about, you might ask. This isnt some snotty root slime that clouds reservoirs and smells on rotten eggs. It’s far harder to deal with than that. It grows in thick whitish clumps on airstones and any porous surface in the reservoir. Cracks in fittings, elbows, pumps, water chillers, EVERYWHERE. It’ll grow so thick it can clog even a 2” drain line. It also coats roots and suffocates/ starves plants. It has a very subtle earthy smell to it and does not cloud the water.

Through research and weeks of experimentation, this bacterial “infection” can survive in the light or dark, oxygen rich or depleted waters, cold or warm, H2O2 (30+%) seems to feed it as it appears to reproduce rapidly with large amounts of oxygen, bleach doesnt eradicate it. Sent roughly 2 gallons of it through a 10 gallon system only for the blooms to come back. Physan20 seems to knock it down significantly but is really hard on plants. Even after heavy doses of physan, the bloom came back in about 5 days. Beneficial bacteria, and enzyme treatments only make it worse. Tea recipe's can mitigate the problem, but one lapse and BOOM! Its back. If any of the above treatments cures your problem, you likely do NOT have this bacteria in your system. Consider yourself lucky.

At this point, it seemed all hope was lost of ever getting rid of this nasty s***. Until, my research led me into the reef tank world. You know, fish tanks, with living coral and other aquatic plants in them. Turns out these folks deal with waterborn pathogens, algae, bacteria and other water based demons i wouldnt wish on a worst enemy all the time. All while still maintaining living plants and creatures in the water. Perfect. Maybe there’s a solution in here that wont harm our delicate root systems. And there is. It’s called Erythromycin. Commonly used for wide range of bacterial infections in humans and animals, including fish. (Hint hint, a water soluble solution to mix into a fish tank, or this case a reservoir).

Low and behold, most local pet stores carry this stuff in little powder packets. Or a larger, much pricier tub ($189US here). It takes 4 days to do a full dose of treatments. And, i have not gotten to test this with plants in the system since we have lost the last 3 plants i’ve tried to run to this bacteria. But, its been 2 weeks since the first 4 day treatment, with no water changes at all, and everything is still crystal clear and no algae/bacteria growth OF ANY KIND. Since this stuff is designed to be used in fish/reef tanks, i cant imagine its going to harm root systems.

To sum this up, if you have this mystery growth in your reservoir, and NONE of the traditional methods seem to work, dont start replacing everything like i did before giving ERYTHROMYCIN a try. I’ve got another seedling on the way and will get to test this out with a plant here soon. I’ll make sure to report back on that once she’s in the water. Also going to test out a low “maintenance dose” of erythromycin with every water chance to ensure it never comes back.

I hope this helps someone out there trudging through the endless pages of funky reservoir cures out there.

Good luck out there and happy growing! :yummy:
Hey Michael hope your well today.
Sorry about your issues.
I have used Hydroguard in the past with great success.
Just in a clone sprayer but worked great for the exact same issue.
I've also heard good things about Sensizym but never tried it.
I'm sure more expert members will jump in soon see what they say.

Stay safe
Bill

It's not my fo
 

Michael Hunt

Well-Known Member
Hey @Bill284 thanks for the input! unfortunately hydroguard has no effect on this bacteria. It is not a true algae, and is VERY resistant to most common methods of cleaning. I have tried hydroguard, hydroshield, canazyme, hygrozyme, microbe teas of at least 2 different recipes with no success what so ever. I even tried pool shock (extremely diluted), and even a diluted solution of physan20 and still couldnt keep it under control. If physan and bleach wont do the trick, its a true monster. And likely the cyanobacteria im talking about
 

Michael Hunt

Well-Known Member
Here’s what it looks like outside the water
8A74F150-C21B-43BD-A7CC-340B73788AB4.jpeg


C4492A5A-F136-47D0-A756-C908FE602817.jpeg


0753EAAF-8541-49B9-BCDD-81DA1DF3BA0A.jpeg


953F7BC6-1B33-4E75-8A15-F1A5C888F6F8.jpeg


04F00C28-71CC-4E9D-88D1-50B9BECA9CA2.jpeg
 

Bill284

Member of the Month: March 2021; April 2022 - Grow Journal of the Month: April 2021 - Plant of the Month: Nov 2021 - Member of the Year: 2021
Hey @Bill284 thanks for the input! unfortunately hydroguard has no effect on this bacteria. It is not a true algae, and is VERY resistant to most common methods of cleaning. I have tried hydroguard, hydroshield, canazyme, hygrozyme, microbe teas of at least 2 different recipes with no success what so ever. I even tried pool shock (extremely diluted), and even a diluted solution of physan20 and still couldnt keep it under control. If physan and bleach wont do the trick, its a true monster. And likely the cyanobacteria im talking about
Oh dam sorry.
Hey @Rexer Are you busy. :Namaste:
Can you make any suggestions.
I'm not versed in dwc , that's my only suggestion.
Hold on with out me going back and reading it again how are your temps?
And one last question light leaks any chance light is getting in?
Just a thought.

Stay safe
Bill
 

Bill284

Member of the Month: March 2021; April 2022 - Grow Journal of the Month: April 2021 - Plant of the Month: Nov 2021 - Member of the Year: 2021
Here’s what it looks like outside the water
8A74F150-C21B-43BD-A7CC-340B73788AB4.jpeg


C4492A5A-F136-47D0-A756-C908FE602817.jpeg


0753EAAF-8541-49B9-BCDD-81DA1DF3BA0A.jpeg


953F7BC6-1B33-4E75-8A15-F1A5C888F6F8.jpeg


04F00C28-71CC-4E9D-88D1-50B9BECA9CA2.jpeg
That's not algae it's freeken mashed potatoes, what you feeding her? :19: :laugh:
Sorry can't help myself sometimes.
But holy crap not what I expected.
Your going to have to do a biopsy to find out what it is. Yeiks

Stay safe
Bill
 

Michael Hunt

Well-Known Member
Oh dam sorry.
Hey @Rexer Are you busy. :Namaste:
Can you make any suggestions.
I'm not versed in dwc , that's my only suggestion.
Hold on with out me going back and reading it again how are your temps?
And one last question light leaks any chance light is getting in?
Just a thought.

Stay safe
Bill
This stuff grows in the dark. Even with the light off for days. Most of the testing has been done with the light off since my last plant died a few weeks ago. So there’s definitely no light causing this. Water temps never got above 68* and this stuff kept growing even in 60* water.


That's not algae it's freeken mashed potatoes, what you feeding her? :19: :laugh:
Sorry can't help myself sometimes.
But holy crap not what I expected.
Your going to have to do a biopsy to find out what it is. Yeiks

Stay safe
Bill
Well it was just thanksgiving down here so i figured . . . . Hahaha. Yeah this isnt your typical pythium outbreak. Im well aware of how to deal with the usual culprits. This aint no usual culprit we’re talking about here. I’d almost call it a super bacteria
 

Rexer

Member of the Month: April 2021, Feb 2022 - Photo of the Month: July 2021 - Grow Journal of the Month: Nov 2021
I'd like to call in @FelipeBlu



leagues ahead of me, and hopefully he's encountered it, or knows someone who has and can offer insight.



I didn't know you were still fighting this stuff Michael. Hopefully the ERYTHROMYCIN treatment will work, or another option for treatment is found.

Either way, thank you for posting this.

Edit- looks like it's been solved FelipeBlu, but thought you'd be interested in seeing
 
Last edited:

Michael Hunt

Well-Known Member
I'd like to call in @FelipeBlu on this one and @farside05

both are leagues ahead of me, and hopefully they have encountered it, or know someone who has and can offer insight.



I didn't know you were still fighting this stuff Michael. Hopefully the ERYTHROMYCIN treatment will work, or another option for treatment is found.

Either way, thank you for posting this.
Oh yeah i’m still down here fighting the good fight. But i think it has been won. 2 weeks and not a single bloom in sight. I mainly wanted to post this for anyone down the road experiencing this issue and can learn from the road i’ve been down.
If erythromycin kills it, its a bacteria, not an algae.
Agreed. It is in the same family of cyanobacteria as “blue-green algae” which is also not actually an algae but a bacteria of the cyano variety
 

Michael Hunt

Well-Known Member
Terrifyingly interesting!
Thanks for sharing!
GL!

Thanks Rex!
:48:
Thankfully it’s not a common issue and from my research seems to effect dwc and rdwc growers most. But, if it takes hold, it can feel impossible to get rid of. Impossible without the help of Erythromycin :high-five:
 
Top Bottom