What is BBA?
Black Brush Algae is a type of a red algae. It gets it's name from it's appearance as a brush. Numerous thin blackish-green threads grow from one single point which attaches itself to any surface, from rocks,driftwood, leaves of slow growing plants (Anubias sp) and even the aquarium glass walls. BBA forms numerous brush-like bushes,about a cm tall.
They multiply rapidly from spores.Multiple bushes come together and can form a thick mat. In severe cases of infestation, the affected leaves die. It can grow in low pH conditions as well as in conditions where the water hardness is high.
The accompanying picture below shows how thickly BBA can cover a surface area, in this case a driftwood.
How to control BBA:
It is important to stem BBA growth in it's early stages itself. Once it establishes itself and gets a stronghold, it is extremely difficult to get rid of it completely.
High levels of pressurized CO2 supply can inhibit BBA and it is then easier to get it under control.Once CO2 levels are consistently high, BBA tends to weaken off and starts detaching from it's hold-points and drift freely in the aquarium. It is important that these free floaters are siphoned off with daily water changes.
One product known to help in controlling BBA is Phyton Git from ADA,Japan. An application of diluted Phyton Git on the affected part of the leaves (works only on all Anubias sp) will turn the BBA reddish and effectively weakens it. This is then easily eaten by Amano shrimps.For this method to work,one will have to remove the plants out of water and then apply Phyton git, else drain the water and apply the solution directly on site (this can be done only if the aquarium is in it's initial stages and not established with livestock as it wont be practical to drain off a tank like this)
How does one get rid of BBA in it's early stages using natural control methods?
Algae eaters like Ottocinclus and Nerite Zebra snails can help control the shorter forms by grazing on them. The only known fish to eat the BBA is the Siamese Algae eater Crossocheilus langei.
About the Siamese Algae Eater
The Siamese Algae eater is one of the best algae eaters available commonly. They are schooling fish and are best kept in schools upwards of 6 individuals.Extremely agile swimmers,they can be quite a task to catch in a densely planted tank.They are howevery good community fishes and will not bother other fish. The juveniles make the best additions if the intention is to get them focused on eating the algae. They are work-horses like the Ottocinclus and will be constantly foraging and going after algae throughout the tank.
They do however,tend to get used to the other fish food being fed and can at times take a liking to this easily available means of getting fed. It's best to lower the frequency of feeding,especially when you want them to focus on eating the algae.
The video above is a rare clipping of the Siamese Algae Eater in action, devouring the BBA.