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Build Thread Soil is not your problem

raj

Community Member
Oct 31, 2022
23
66
Oregon
So there is this stupid thing going around groups that Landen has contaminated soil and that the Kelb that grows is impossible to eradicate long term. So I took up the challenge and had people ship me Landen soil that was already confirmed infected or from same batches.

I set up this 40b 1 month ago. Since there as not enough Landen I layered Tropica as base and put unopened bags of Landen on top followed by infected Landen.

To encourage algae growth I only did one water change 2 weeks later and didn’t put any filter on it.

3 weeks later I had algae growing on substrate which I sent to Chris to confirm as Kelb, so now we are set.

We have the algae, we have contaminated soil.

I’ll document this tank to show the soil is not the real issue here.

The method I will follow

I will follow EI as my dosing method. That’s what I do for all my tanks. I do not test ferts, PH it anything else.

Water changes every 3-5 days as I find time until tank stabilizes and slow move to once a week waterchange

Water changes will be 70-80% as my other tanks

Algaecides will be used in needed but not at start. The initial goal would be to let some initial algae cycle out like GDA and Diatoms.

Dosing will be using Thrive. I will start dosing from this week even tho soil is new.

Fish may or may not be added since this is going to be a temp tank just for this experiment.



Today I did my only second water change and I put a Ehiem 2215 on it. The tank will get a second Ehiem once I get another double tap which I accidentally broke.

After waterchange I dosed Amquel for chlorine removal and some Aquarium Buffer since in new tanks PH is too low and it takes longer to cycle.

Before and after picture’s below. And a closer photo of algae.
 

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Raj I love this experiment. Many here may not know the frightening tales of the power of this particular algae, but it has frustrated some very accomplished people in the hobby to the point of giving up and starting over.

Really looking forward to seeing where this goes.
 
That stuff gave me a fit for probably a year. But its not some impossible tank wrecker. Just have to be extra persistent with manual removal and cleaning. Also like any other algae it thrives if plants are unhealthy and recedes if they are thriving. But thriving plants alone wont get rid of it like a few other types. This one takes some work

I still get the odd strand pop up here and there. The one good thing about it it doesnt aggressively stick to anything. Just have to get it out as soon as you notice it
 
I think I pulled out something similar from my tank. Have it in a cup of water for a month in near darkness and it's still alive lmao and this is after hitting it with algae fix, hydrogen peroxide, and glut.

Funny thing is Im not using Landen. Im using UNS controsoil. Im pretty sure the algae came from one of my outdoor miracle grow set ups though. I very rarely buy plants that arent from Joe (last purchase was probably 2-3 years ago though so idk if that lines up with when he had to deal with it) or not TC.

I notice I have less of it now that my tanks cooler cuz of the winter temps (83+F summers, 73+F winters). Think I pull out like a grape size amount (total amount) every week from various spots (high flow+close to surface, lower flow+middle of the tank, havent seen it near the sub yet).
 
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My theory is, it thrives in lower PH.
Hence one of the things I am doing is trying to buffer my tank up. This algae is more common in the soils that buffer tanks lower than what ADA did.
Also lower PH impacts how quickly your tank cycles due to slower beneficial bacteria growth.
I am probably going to switch from sea hens aquarium buffer over to dolomite or potassium carbonate/bicarbonate if I see improvements.
 
Ive had it show up in the sand tanks which have a degassed ph in the mid-7s. I dont think a higher ph will necessarily kill it...might slow it down a little
I think I pulled out something similar from my tank. Have it in a cup of water for a month in near darkness and it's still alive lmao and this is after hitting it with algae fix, hydrogen peroxide, and glut.

Funny thing is Im not using Landen. Im using UNS controsoil. Im pretty sure the algae came from one of my outdoor miracle grow set ups though. I very rarely buy plants that arent from Joe (last purchase was probably 2-3 years ago though so idk if that lines up with when he had to deal with it) or not TC.

I notice I have less of it now that my tanks cooler cuz of the winter temps (83+F summers, 73+F winters). Think I pull out like a grape size amount (total amount) every week from various spots (high flow+close to surface, lower flow+middle of the tank, havent seen it near the sub yet).
Just going to chime in and say that there are lots of algae that look almost identical, so unless you’ve gotten it IDed under a microscope/by a lab it’s really up in the air whether or not it was/is the same algae. When Ryan introduced it to other tanks without moving the affected Landen, he said it was easy or at least a lot easier to get rid of. It’s mainly a terrestrial soil-based algae and what makes it particularly vicious apparently is that it forms a symbiotic relationship with the substrate that allows it to bypass all the normal methods of algae control.

Very interested to see where this goes. I redid my tank with Landen in May and luckily didn’t have an issue.
 
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My personal history, about a year and a half ago I bought 3-4 bags of landen to add into my existing soil tanks, which I did, say half a bag to a 75 gal. Then a couple months later this stuff showed up in all of them. Wasnt a huge deal at first beyond just a pita, but I also had to be away from the tanks for a lot during this time. Anyway thats how it was introduced to mine.

I have a few soil tanks and a few with blasting sand. Things get moved between them all regularly. It popped up a little bit in some of the sand tanks but never more than a strand or two. It would definitely establish if allowed to hang around though
 
Just going to chime in and say that there are lots of algae that look almost identical, so unless you’ve gotten it IDed under a microscope/by a lab it’s really up in the air whether or not it was/is the same algae. When Ryan introduced it to other tanks without moving the affected Landen, he said it was easy or at least a lot easier to get rid of. It’s mainly a terrestrial soil-based algae and what makes it particularly vicious apparently is that it forms a symbiotic relationship with the substrate that allows it to bypass all the normal methods of algae control.

Very interested to see where this goes. I redid my tank with Landen in May and luckily didn’t have an issue.
It was IDed by Chris under microscope
 
I never had mine officially tested. The timeline coincided with the soil addition and this was some crazy stuff Id never seen before. Also in one of the fb posts we compared batch numbers and mine was the same as some others who had the issue. And pics of the algae matched. So a lot of circumstantial evidence but Im pretty convinced that what I was dealing with

Also it may be important to note that in my case I only added a little bit to each tank, around the above mentioned half a bag to a 75 gal. So my instances of dealing with it and eventually eradicating it may have been easier than someone who started a brand new tank using 100% of the stuff.

Raj's tank here too, is not 100% built on <supposed> contaminated soil. That could be a whole different ballgame
 
2nd waterchange, 3 days gap.
Tank is now in a bacterial bloom stage. Something I usually like to see but I hope it doesn’t turn into green water.
Some pics of tank before, I sucked up some fo the algae gently but video was too big to attach, 80% or so water removed, water added back slowly, it’s cold tap water since there is no fauna, and after water change.
Also products currently in use, Amquel, Seachem Aquarium Buffer and Bee shrimp GH+. I usually don’t use PH or GH buffers except for start of tanks.
 

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So there is this stupid thing going around groups that Landen has contaminated soil and that the Kelb that grows is impossible to eradicate long term...
Just to clarify, while some folks may have claimed it was impossible to eradicate, @ryancamaratta and I did not. I did recommend switching the substrate rather than fighting it, because I believe this contamination is a "product failure" (which is a term similar to "manufacturer defect" but has a broader scope) and no one should have to fight an unusually resilient algae for over a year so that they can use an aquasoil. But this recommendation was not an admission that the algae is somehow impossible to beat, but rather a cost/benefit analysis, and I don't think I was clear and careful enough in my statements on the original Facebook post(s) where this all blew up. We are just as invested at stopping exaggerated rumors as anyone else. When there are two polar opposite possibilities, I usually find that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

...the Kelb that grows...
Additionally, it's "Klebsormidium", not "Kelbsormidium", so "Kleb" for short, not "Kelb". It was named after a German botanist named Georg Albrecht Klebs, when they restructured the Hormidium genus, so Klebsormidium=Klebs' Hormidium.

How did Chris confirm this? Also, is there a writeup somewhere about the specifics of Kelb?
There isn't a good writeup, so I might as well make one.

The Klebsormidium genus is taxonomically distinct from almost every other algae in the hobby. The closest relationship to any other algae that I've found is that Zygnema, Mougeotia, Spirogyra, and Coloechaete are also Charophytes, but that's a very distant relationship.
DomainEukaryota
KingdomArchaeplastida
SubkingdomViridiplantae
InfrakingdomStreptophyta
PhylumCharophyta
ClassKlebsormidiophyceae
OrderKlebsormidiales
FamilyKlebsormidiaceae
GenusKlebsormidium

The Klebsormidium genus is commonly associated with soils. It's primarily a terrestrial algae, though many species will thrive in freshwater environments as well. There are currently 25 accepted species, 10 of them are listed as being viable in freshwater environments, the others are only documented in terrestrial settings, and even some of the species that are freshwater viable were nevertheless collected in non-aquatic environments (for example, one was found growing "luxuriously on the bark of a tree" and another was found growing on exposed concrete.

Identifying characteristics include parietal (lying against the side of the cell wall) chloroplasts (as opposed to axial, etc.) that occlude <70-80% of the cell wall (if it occludes more, then that's indicative of the Ulothrix genus, which is a Chlorophyte, completely unrelated, not even the same Infrakingdom), unbranched filaments, mucilagenous (slimy, the filaments are coated in mucilage), very small filament diameter (it's quite a light, wispy algae). I utilized an Algal Identification Facebook Group which consists primarily of researchers, ecologists, etc. for the initial identification, but I've double checked it and followed up on a number of alternatives to rule them out. Luckily, the particular form of these chloroplasts are quite distinctive and indicative, making it a relatively easy algae to identify to the genus level. I've made no attempt at this time to identify the species.

Here are the parietal chloroplasts from Raj's sample. When viewed from the front or back, it appears to fill the entire cell, but from the side (blue arrows) you can see that they're lying along the cell wall, wrapping about 50-60% of the way around the cell, on average:
20231204_205751.jpg

Here's a picture from the original identification of a sample provided by @ryancamaratta:
20231013_210512.jpg

You can compare these to a diagnostic drawing showing a filament and a zoospore, pulled from Wikipedia, by Pentecost, Allan [Artist] (2016) at Freshwater Biological Association [publisher]. It has a Creative Commons license and should be fine for me to include:
Klebsormidium.jpg

Here is a possible aplanospore, now as a note, it's possible that this is actually a zoospore and I just didn't capture the flagella, flagella can be quite difficult to see in standard brightfield microscopy. I am using some mildly oblique illumination to make such features more visible, but I can't guarantee that it was enough. Really, phase contrast or DIC is best for viewing flagella like this. The majority of the green mass beside it was Chlorococcum, but the characteristic parietal chloroplast is preserved in the aplanospores and zoospores even though the aplanospore is a very different shape. Nevertheless, there are other non-filamentous algaes with parietal chlorpolasts, it's not nearly as diagnostically significant as it is in filaments.
20231204_211047.jpg


This pcture is just for fun: chlorophyll flouresces red under UV light, so this is the Klebsormidium sample illuminated with incident lighting from a 365 nm flashlight. Unfortunately, I can't get any images with my 60x or 100x objectives using incident light, but it's still interesting.
20231204_215122.jpg

Identification can *only* be made with a microscope. I can place Klebsormidium, Mougeotia, Spirogyra, Zygnema, and Oedogonium (which isn't even a Charophyte) next to each other and I can't tell the difference. This is a really important point that a lot of people miss! You can't just look at a picture of a tank and say "oh, I've had that algae!" It doesn't work like that.

The only macroscopic clue is that the spore phase can result in a green dust-esque coating prior to the filamentous phase. I haven't been able to document this clearly though, because every sample I've received so far has also had an abundance of Chlorococcum (one of many GDA genera) algae. It's unclear if Chlorococcum just happens to enjoy a similar environment or if it was just a coincidence, but I haven't had an opportunity to culture a pure Klebsormidium sample to observe and record this preliminary phase. Until then, there's no way of knowing if you just happened to have some GDA and Kleb at the same time, or if it truly is Kleb without microscopy, though with enough circumstantial evidence we can at least say that most of the claims related to the specific Landen batch are highly plausible. Any claim associated with another soil would require verification, it's an absolute shot in the dark, and algaes like Spirogyra and Oedogonium so far seem to be much, much more common.

I've exceeded the 10,000 character limit, so I'll finish up with another reply :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 
Continued from above:

Klebsormidium reproduces via both biflagellated zoospores (which can swim with their flagella to new locations, where they attach themselves, loose their flagella, effectively converting to aplanospores, and then grow filaments), non-motile aplanospores that are carried by water currents to new locations, where they attach and grow filaments, and through fragmentation. As a largely terrestrial genus, being found even in desert sand dunes, it is extremely resilient to dessication. It uses akinetes (which are not terribly unique, in and of themselves) which are energy storage structures with thickened cell walls that can survive, dormant for long periods of time in adverse conditions. They can even become aerosolized and spread through the air. This makes Klebsormidium uniquely adapted to hitchhike via an aquasoil. Most freshwater algaes are not capable of this.

There's quite a bit of mystery surrounding aquasoil production, with many conflicting sources, and virtually no high-quality sources, regarding production methods. most seems to agree that commercially produced aquasoils are kiln-dried/"baked" though I have seen a number of sources claiming that the temperatures used in drying are "low" to avoid degrading included organic material. "Low" is undefined however and may simply mean something like "lower than calcination temperatures" which is typically 600-800°C (1,100-1,500°F). My current (untestable) hypothesis is that this batch of aquasoil was kiln-dried in a large batch, but wasn't held at a high enough temperature for long enough to kill the Klebsormidium in the center of the batch. This would explain why even some of the same batch number is unaffected, but with so little information about the process available, it's just a guess.

Additionally, I suspect, but cannot prove, that the akinetes are present beneath the surface of the aquasoil grains. This is the key point that would explain the patterns we've seen. Klebsormidium is not normally a difficult algae to deal with. It's actually quite a mild algae under most circumstances. I have taken plants with Klebsormidium algae directly from an infected tank, and placed them in my tank, with visible algae still on it. It didn't even show a hint of a problem. @ryancamaratta moved plants between tanks as well, and never had a problem. But moving a pot of contaminated soil to another tank *did* cause a bloom. Unfortunately, I have preliminarily attempted to look for akinetes within a grain of soil, but I couldn't see anything. I'm not sure if this is because they aren't present or because I don't know how to detect them. I'd like to try staining to see if I can make them more visible (if they're present). Since not every grain may be contaminated as well, I'll have to sample a large number to be sure. I'm still working on that and I'm still very much open to the possibility that I'm wrong there, btu that's what I'm investigating (if @ryancamaratta ever gets me those soil samples 😝). Raj's sample is particularly difficult for this purpose because I don't know what's Tropica soil, what's from the unopened bags of Landen (which may or may not have been contaminated) and what's from Joey's tank (confirmed contaminated). Technically, that may affect the usefulness of the test as well, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

The point is: if the akinetes are present beneath the surface of the grains, then as the grains of soil deteriorate, they have the potential to continuously release new akinetes. These akinetes are energy and nutrient storage structures that are designed to a) help the algae survive adverse conditions and b) give the algae a boost as the beginning that allows it to get going even if if competition is stiff. It uses this strategy to try and quickly bloom and smother its competition in nature. It's a "boom-and-bust" cycle type of organism. Botanists would simply refer to this as annual/seasonal. It's not a perennial algae that slowly grows and hangs around all year, like Pithophora or Aegagropila.

What I would actually *like* out of this whole mess, is to see aquasoil manufacturers be more transparent about their quality control processes. Another industry in which kiln-drying is a common feature is lumber, and as a woodworker hobbyist (in addition to my aquarium and microscopy hobbies) it's something that I work with relatively frequently. While ostensibly, kiln-drying wood is performed to reduce warping and wood movement during and after production of an item, an overlooked, but arguably more common and more important purpose is to kill any pests that might be living in the wood, from bugs to fungi that can threaten lumberyards, goods, and homes alike. It seems to me that this is an issue that Aquasoil manufacturers should consider as well.

My goal is *NOT* to imply that Aquasoils are bad in some way, or even that Landen aquasoil is "bad". That would be an incredibly misguided conclusion to pull from this. Every manufacturer has manufacturing defects, it's just part of life. But if consumers demand and reward transparency and high QC, then manufacturers may be persuaded to provide those things.

As a side note, Klebsormidium is one of the contenders for the "most closely related to land plants" of all the algaes. The issue is still undecided, but land plants are pretty firmly descended from Charophytes. The three top contenders are Kleb, Coleocheate (GSA), and Chara (a macroalgae that is easily mistaken for Ceratophyllum spp.). That's not to say that they have the most in common with land plants, Tom Barr has said multiple times that Cladophora and perhaps Pithophora (might add Agaegropila too, which used to be classified of Cladophora, but is actually in the Pithophoraceae family) acts the most like land plants, which is what can make them a bit more challenging to get rid of. Ironically, Cladophorales are some of the most remotely related (to land plants) of all the green algaes.

Ironically, I've enacted some rather drastic treatments for an annoying GDA (Tetraselmis) in my 75, and then I had a huge cyanobacteria bloom (Phormidium). With all of this instability in my tank, Klebsormidium managed to get a little foothold, and bloomed in my tank. I used my planting tweezers to handle a sample and forgot to clean them before using them in the tank, I've been documenting the algaes in my tanks for months now and had never seen it before. This was the first time any of us had managed to get a bloom in a tank that didn't contain the soil. But, it literally lasted about 2 weeks, it's already under control and just about gone. Yet again: it's not a difficult algae in the absence of the contaminated soil. Getting rid of it was super easy, barely an inconvenience (IYKYK). I didn't even do anything, it started dying on its own. I didn't even do a water change, lol.

Here's a filament from my tank:
20231127_162733.jpg
 
Originating from the soil is what makes this different from other algae issues because you cant just clean it up, get the plants happy and overcome it. That is the formula for 99% of the algae we see in this hobby.

What makes "soil the problem" here is that it comes loaded with <a germinating source> that keeps on giving no matter how good your husbandry is or how fat youre plants are growing. Spend the weekend cleaning it up real good? Congrats because there is another wave coming

I assume it will finally exhaust from the soil. But I pity the folks who've set a new tank up using 100% contaminated soil (for lack of a better term). They are in for a long road.

In my case I only added maybe 15-20% to an already established tank. Thats what Raj did here too if I understand correctly, except his tank is new. So it will exhaust faster, produce less, and be easier to overcome in cases like that

What Im sure Raj will prove here is that good husbandry and plant growing can overcome it. But soil is definitely the problem, IF it is true that the soil is where it comes from.
 
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