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Sweet smelling algae - help please
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shikasta
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Joined: 30 Aug 2008
Location: Edinburgh

PostPosted: 2009.03.14(Sat)6:10    Post subject: Sweet smelling algae - help please Reply with quote

So I thought I had my aquarium under some degree of control but weirdness has overcome it again.

I have a bunch of floating plants which had acquired an odd musty smell whenever I disturbed them for cleaning. I assumed it was the thread algae since it smelt kind of like algae and the plants usually had a bit tangled round the dyeing leaves. Then I noticed that the roots of some of the healthy floating plants looked like they had a slimy turquoise bubble round them. I looked up cyanobacteria somewhat instinctively and found that that has an earthy smell like I was experiencing.

I presumed that this was because I had failed to dose Flourish Excel for about half a week since I ran out and haven't had time to buy more but when I came to cleaning today, although the old leaves and green tangled algae smelt of musty earth, the slimy blue-green stuff smelt like fruit.

I can't describe what kind of fruit but it was a sweet smell quite like fruit sweets have. It was quite pleasant really but somewhat strange since I can't find any mention of it anywhere.

As a precaution I have blacked out the tank for the rest of today and tomorrow to try and starve it and buy me time to find out what the hell is going on.

The tank is healthy otherwise, has a UV filter and a wood shrimp filtering the water as well as two gravel filter power heads.

So, any ideas guys? Sweet, fruity smelling light turquoise slim growing on the hairy roots of plants. It's mostly the ones on the edges that get it. the middle seems to be too dark for it to grow.

Thanks.
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Darkblade48
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Joined: 21 Jun 2004
Location: Yokohama, Japan

PostPosted: 2009.03.14(Sat)8:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

A picture would be much more helpful, but from your description and the word "slime", my first instinct is cyanobacteria/BGA. However, as far as I know, it doesn't smell "sweet"; for me, it smells earthy as well.

A blackout isn't a bad idea, but you should try a 3-4 day blackout instead of 2 days as it won't be enough to kill the algae.

Also, while blackouts are great for eliminating algae, without addressing the root problem, the algae will continue to come back.
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BarebackDreamer
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Joined: 23 Feb 2007

PostPosted: 2009.03.15(Sun)13:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my experience, BGA can smell sweet.
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shikasta
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Joined: 30 Aug 2008
Location: Edinburgh

PostPosted: 2009.03.16(Mon)6:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's reassuring that someone else has found BGA to have a sweet smell. I finally identified the odour as under ripe melon. After some hunting using that key word I did find a rather useful description of what it may well be. Oscillatoria tenuis according to http://www.cee.vt.edu/ewr/environmental/teach/wtprimer/taste2/frontpg3.html

I can't really get a photo of it since it doesn't look like anything out of water. And under water the camera can't get a decent shot. Just looks out of focus. But it looks like I found my culprit and the blackout is turning some of it into matted blobs which must mean it's not happy.

Thanks guys.
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Darkblade48
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Joined: 21 Jun 2004
Location: Yokohama, Japan

PostPosted: 2009.03.16(Mon)10:54    Post subject: Reply with quote

An interesting experiment carried out by Virginia Tech students; however, your conclusion that you have this type of algae might be a bit premature. Basing it solely on smell is never scientifically valid, so to actually identify it 100% would require a microscopic sample, etc.

But, in general, a blackout will make most photosynthesizing organisms unhappy Smile
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