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Thread: Norm Meck on Green Water . . .

  1. #1
    Honmei KoiCop's Avatar
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    Norm Meck on Green Water . . .

    I read a very interesting article by Norm Meck entitled "Green Water: Myths, Facts, Theories II" which was posted on Duncan Griffiths' website:

    http://www.koiquest.co.uk/GRENH2O2.pdf

    His contrarian position (that heterotrophic bacteria eating the dead algae produce an antibiotic which then keeps them under control) differs from the commonly accepted tactic of starving them of the necessities of life (food, light, etc.) and has my head spinning.

    Anyone else checked this article out?

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    Honmei
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    Hey Don,

    Yes, we discovered this years ago when we first went to the Dutch Koi show. A lot of hobbiests there believe in probiotics as a way to clean their systems and keep them healthy. One of the benefits for this is that it controls algae. We add the bacteria every week at our store with great results.

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    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Norm Meck's studies have been very enlightening over the years. I believe he has identified one of several interacting factors, but not "the answer". While it is true that in some instances a large water change will result in a greening of the water, it is not always so. On my old pond I did very large weekly water changes and did not suffer green water other than on rare occasion.

    There is also coincidental (and I think contributing) relationships with establishment of the nitrifier community and the clearing of the water. The unicellular algae favor ammonium as their nitrogen source (not nitrate, as is so often stated), so as nitrifiers compete the favored nitrogen source of the algae is depleted. Nitrate can be used, but is much less efficiently consumed. Basically, the algae have to metabolize the nitrate into ammonium before further breaking it down to the elemental nitrogen required.

    There is also a relationship with the establishment of algae on the pond walls and other surfaces. These algal species emit chemicals into the water which retard the growth of other algae species. Virtually all aquatic plants engage in continuous chemical warfare. This is why healthy submerged aquatic plants will not be covered in algae despite all other surfaces being covered. As a leaf fails, algae will colonize it, and the plant will succumb if there is an algae present for which it has not evolved a chemical repellant. You can research this chemical warfare among plants by researching "allelopathy".

    And, we know that within the pond there are microscopic critters consuming the unicellular algae, and in time larger creatures... the rotifers fry feed upon.

    So, there is competition for resources, poisons from decomposition, allelopathic poisons and predation all occurring... and more interacting factors than these.

    And when considering all of this, think of all the clear ponds with heavy algae growth on the walls, the natural streams of clear water where all the stones in the streambed are slippery with aufwuchs, but not green algae, and the vast stretches of the open ocean which are nearly lifeless, with no algae in the water.

    I think algae are one of the most fascinating of all lifeforms, and really very little is understood about their world.

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    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    After posting above, I went looking for some papers on allelopathy I saved for future reference. As so often happens,I cannot remember where I stuck them. But, I came across one of interest. In the Journal of Phycology in 1969, there is a paper by G.P. Fitzgerald concerning an experiment with a Pithophora algae, a type of filamentous algae. Four aquaria were set up. Each had an equal population of guppies. A mat of the Pithophora was placed in two and the other aquaria went without.
    The guppies were fed alike. Lighting was the same. Within 7 days the bare aquaria had green water. The aquaria with the filamentous algae remained clear. There was no apparent relationship to the nutrient content of the water, either at the beginning of the experient or at the conclusion. If anything, the green water algae consumed a bit more phosphate than the Pithophora, but all tanks had more nutrient than required. The alellochemical involved was not identified.

    In a particularly sleep-inducing 1993 article by the limnologist R.G. Wetzel entitled "Humic compounds from wetlands: Complexation, inactivation, and re-activation of surface-bound and extracellular enzymes" [these guys need a journalism headline writing course!], it was found that various polymerized phenols inhibitory of algae growth are very persistent, decomposing at a rate of only 0.5% to 1.0% per day. In other words, absent water changes, these chemicals will build up in concentration in a pond where they are being released.

    It's a very complex environment our fish inhabit in our little ponds.

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    Honmei KoiCop's Avatar
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    Russell . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Russell Peters View Post
    Hey Don,

    Yes, we discovered this years ago when we first went to the Dutch Koi show. A lot of hobbiests there believe in probiotics as a way to clean their systems and keep them healthy. One of the benefits for this is that it controls algae. We add the bacteria every week at our store with great results.
    What probiotic bacteria are you using?

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    Honmei KoiCop's Avatar
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    MikeM . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    So, there is competition for resources, poisons from decomposition, allelopathic poisons and predation all occurring... and more interacting factors than these.
    I gather from your posts that from your studies you've come to believe that Norm's heterotrophic bacterial antibiotic theory is merely one of many contributing factors, but not the controlling factor, involved in clearing green water and filamentous algal blooms?

    Any reaction to Norm's Catch-22 Hunch that the antibiotic producing heterotrophic bateria are from the aeromonas/pseudomonas families? My initial reaction to that was, were that the case, folks who used koizyme would be shooting themselves in the foot re: algae control. Your thoughts?

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    Honmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoiCop View Post
    What probiotic bacteria are you using?
    Hi Don,

    We use a product called Bacta-Pur Klear, it is, as the container says, a selected community of beneficial microorganisms, including nitrifiers and denitrifiers. Eliminates toxic ammonia and nitrite levels. Clarifies pond water and reduces soluble phospates and nitrate.
    We bring it in from Canada, they are the same company that packages Lithaqua in Belgium.

    Russ

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    Honmei KoiCop's Avatar
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    Russell . . .

    thanks for the info.

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    Honmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoiCop View Post
    thanks for the info.
    No problema!

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    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Don: I think Norm Meck has been on the right track in getting us away from the limited view that nitrates and sunlight get all the blame and that controlling them gives a remedy. His kitchen laboratory has produced results consistent with the results of "real scientists". There are times when the barley straw tactic works. He is explaining how that can be. Sometimes it does not work, or does not work so well. We need other explanations for that.

    As for the aeromonas/pseudomonas hunch.... there are a lot of species within these genera. Not all of the species attack fish wounds, at least not in quantity. (And, we should distinguish between internal bacterial infections and external ones.) So, even if the bacteria decomposing algal cell walls is in the genus aeromonas, I'd not assume that it is the same aeromonas that causes ulcers in koi. I've not read up on it, so I can't say. But, koizyme is supposed to work by creating competitive exclusion. That is, the bacteria released consume the same foodstuffs as the aeromonas, causing the aeromonas population to fall. It would seem that the products of decomposition would be the same. That is, the poison released by decomposition would still be released.

    That said, I had a period of greenish water this summer. It was never pea soup, but definitely greenish. It lasted about 3 weeks. I had a year+ old bottle of koizyme in the refrigerator. Rather than keep it any longer, I went ahead and used it. That was about 2 weeks, maybe 3, before the greening arrived. I didn't make a record of it, so I'm not sure. It does not seem rational to me that one contributed to the other. But, I guess there could have been a connection. If the koizyme competitively displaced all forms of aeromonas, and then died out (which it does...that's why it has to be added repeatedly), perhaps it took a couple of weeks for the aeromonas population to rebound. In the interim, some green water. It's a theory. Maybe someone else can come up with a protocol for an experiment?


    BTW, old timers will tell you that one of the best ways to cure a fish with a bacterial infection is to place it green water. Want to venture a guess about that?

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