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Thread: Understanding String Algae

  1. #131
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Bumping up for Cab.

  2. #132
    Nisai
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    Mike:

    I made a quick scan of these past 13 pages - did anyone mention the occasional (seasonal) use of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) dissolved in the pond water as a possible deterrent for the string-form of algae?

    S. Stone

  3. #133
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    No, I have not heard of anyone using Epsom salts for string algae control. I'm interested in what you know about it. Have you used it?


    I am aware that in the reef aquarium hobby there has been some success eliminating Bryopsis (a type of marine algae, not string algae) from reef tanks by elevating the magnesium level to considerably higher concentrations than occur in natural seawater, using a magnesium additive (not magnesium sulfate). I understand elevated magnesium has not affected other nuisance algae common in reef tanks. But, I'm not a reef aquarist and have not kept up with practices in that hobby.

  4. #134
    Nisai
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    OK – strange tale. When I first started the conversion from swimming pool to koi pond in February of 1996, I bought and put 26 little (tosai) pet-shop koi into the pool. For some reason or other that I can’t recall now, the owner of the pet shop (tropical and fresh-water fish) suggested that Epsom salts would be a “helpful” additive to the pool water. Over the next 19+ years, every now and again, I have added one or two large packages of plain Epsom salts to the intake water of the pool skimmer. The fish respond with seeming to be immediately more “comfortable” in the water. Several of them, particularly the one tancho, tend to get red and “veiny”. This condition seems to lessen with the addition of the Epsom salts. The pool, partly in sun and partly in shade, has always had a nice, short carpet of lush green algae, from top to bottom. But there has never been any sign of string algae. However, the quarantine tank, an 8 foot show tank with a permanent filtration system which is left running all of the time, occasionally DOES get mild outbreaks of string algae. I don’t think that I have ever gotten around to adding Epsom salts to the quarantine tank.

  5. #135
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Well..... How about adding some to the quarantine and let us know what happens after some time goes by?

  6. #136
    Nisai
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    Except that - the string algae in the quarantine tank has appeared only on a VERY FEW occasions over the years - and it shows no sign, yet, of being there this year. I'll keep you updated.

  7. #137
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Zinc Oxide

    Well, it is that time of year again. Postings about string algae (blanket weed) are popping up around the internet. All of the usual moans, groans, recommendations and comments are being repeated. One commenter on a popular U.S. forum has recommended use of zinc oxide as an effective, inexpensive and long-lasting remedy widely used in Europe. I do not know how widely used zinc oxide may be. I do, however, have great misgivings about the use of metals in koi ponds. My thinking parallels those of a regular poster on UK boards who goes by the handle Manky Sanke. His thoughts about using zinc oxide, edited down for space, are pretty much summed up in the following:

    Re: Blanket weed / Zinc Oxide
    Postby Manky Sanke » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:58 pm
    I'm afraid there isn't a simple answer to this question but I can give some background information for anyone who might be considering using zinc oxide as an algaecide.
    Back in 2009 I went on a bit of a mission to see if there was any truth in a popular rumour at that time that Cloverleaf Blanket Answer was full of zinc that would guarantee to kill koi. ***
    At that time I was assured that there was some zinc oxide but that the content was trace amounts only. Zinc is essential in the diets of fish (and us) and zinc or zinc oxide is often added as a food supplement in human, animal and fish foods. …. I [liken] the necessity of zinc in a diet to that of salt which is a subject that we all understand.
    We know that some salt is essential in our diets and that we would die without it but very high amounts of salt in a single dose is fatal or that excessive amounts over a long period is bad for long term health. The same can be said of zinc.

    A couple of years later I was asked to help a health expert identify a few problems and there were suggestions that the zinc oxide levels were no longer only trace amounts and that the actual amounts in that product varied. I have no direct evidence as to whether that might be true so I can't comment on Blanket Answer but, in general, what could have been happening is that higher amounts of zinc oxide were dissociating (breaking down) into zinc under certain water conditions. The amount of zinc oxide that dissociated into zinc wasn't predictable so some people may have found the product ideal, some may have found that it killed their koi. That much I know is possible because chemicals in water behave differently according to such parameters as pH and anything in the water that might help to bind them in any particular chemical form.

    Zinc oxide [itself] won't kill algae but it naturally partially dissociates in water into zinc which is an algaecide. The question is how much zinc oxide is necessary, under any particular set of water parameters, to dissociate into a zinc concentration that is high enough to kill algae but not become so high that it will have a long term effect on the koi.

    It isn't possible to give a simple answer to that question because of the wide variations of parameters so if anyone says "this much worked for me" that isn't proof that the amount they used will be safe under all other pond conditions.

    *** I'm not sure that I'll ever be happy to recommend any zinc compound as an algaecide. There are people who use copper as an algaecide and swear that it's harmless to koi because they've used it for months and haven't wiped out their pond (yet?). Copper and zinc have similar effects in that they are definitely toxic and their toxicity depends on calcium hardness (CaCO3) and carbonate hardness (CO3). Their toxicity also depends on what other heavy metals might be dissolved. Lower pH and lower levels of GH and KH also makes them more toxic. Since sub-lethal concentrations of copper can accumulate in fish tissues and become immunosuppressants it's possible that a koi might survive being exposed to a low level of copper for years or it might fall victim to the first disease that comes along. Therefore a low level of copper might wipe out a pond this week if the pH, GH and KH are low but it may not kill any koi if they are high. On the other hand, the same dose of copper where the pH, GH and KH are high may cause the death of a fish next year if a disease infects it due to a weakened immune system, or never if the fish is never exposed to a disease. Copper toxicity is that complicated.

    My concern is that zinc, which is another heavy metal, will have similar complications regarding toxicity. That's why I said that just because someone says "this dose worked for me" that isn't a guarantee that the same dose will be safe in a different pond. *** But before I used any such product [containing zinc oxide] I would want convincing answers to "what research had been done, with what ranges of water parameters and over how many years?"
    ricshaw likes this.

  8. #138
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    My water lettuce, aka quiapo in Philippines, does its job with nitrates and phosphates.

    Sent from my XT1068 using Tapatalk

  9. #139
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Sent from my XT1068 using Tapatalk

  10. #140
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    String Algae As a Food: Supplemental Information

    In the event anyone has continuing doubts about whether string algae is a natural food their koi consume, I recently came across an ambitious study of the feeding practices of 16 herbivorous species of African rift lake cichlids. Among the subjects studied was the favored foods. The finding relevant to this thread: “A filamentous green alga, Cladophora sp., dominated the farms of most cichlid species, but was not ingested often. Cladophora are known to be unpalatable due to their chemical defences and poor amino acid contents. Therefore, this alga seems to be utilised as a substratum harbouring epiphytic diatoms for grazers and is a less preferred food item for other herbivorous cichlids. “ See, Hiroki Hata, Akifumi S Tanabe, Satoshi Yamamoto, Hirokazu Toju, Masanori Kohda and Michio Hori, Diet Disparity Among Sympatric Herbivorous Cichlids in the Same Ecomorphs in Lake Tanganyika: Amplicon Pyrosequences on Algal Farms and Stomach Contents, BMC Biology 2014, 12:90.

    Thus, even when focusing on herbivorous fish that have evolved in the company of Cladaphora algae, it is found that it is not intentionally consumed. There were, however, three species whose stomach contents included a measurably significant amount of Cladophora. Two of these were browsers in their feeding behavior and one was a ‘scraper’. No attempt was made to determine why these three species’ stomach contents differed. It may be reasonable to assume the ‘scraper’ consumed some Cladophora simply because it’s feeding behavior took in all algae on the rock being scraped, although other ‘scraper’ type feeders appear to have avoided Cladophora. With the browsing type feeders, incidental consumption could be the explanation. Given that Cladophora species dominated in all the feeding territories, I find it telling that none of the 16 herbivore species had evolved to take advantage of the most available algae. Cichlids are not carp, obviously, but when true herbivores avoid the most plentiful algae in their ecosystem, it is worth noting. String algae is such an amazing product of evolution.

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