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How to Kill Black Cluster Moss in Aquariums

Black Beard Algae (BBA) is one of the ugliest mosses in the aquatic world because of its hardness, toughness and stubbornness.
How to Kill Black Cluster Moss in Aquariums

 Sometimes it can be so difficult to destroy that once blackstrap moss takes over a tank, it's easier to start a new one and I'm totally serious.

In this article, will guide you through all you need to know about this moss, how you can get rid of Black Moss for good, or prevent it from appearing in your tank.

You are watching: How to Kill Black Cluster Moss in Aquariums

What is black cluster moss?

It is one of the most common mosses in aquatic animals. It belongs to the red moss family and can be classified

science as follows:
Suborder: Rhodophyta
+ Class: Florideophyceae
+ Order: Acrochaetiales
Family: Acrochaetiaceae
Genus: Audouinella

It also grows very quickly and when left unattended can grow up to 4-5 cm long.

Black mosses possess water-soluble pigments known as phycobilins, which are localized to phycobilisomes, which gives them their distinctive coloration (from dark green, brownish gray to dark black).

Black moss in the tank can be easily identified; In the early stages, black moss appears as black or grayish spots on surfaces (ornaments, substrate, glass, leaf margins). As it grows, this moss will transform into thick hairy patches that are able to wrap plant leaves and hide hiding places.

Note: Not to be confused with moss horns; This particular moss has a withered appearance and branched filaments in contrast to the smooth black clumps of moss.

Like other red mosses, Black Moss reproduces sexually (making gametes for fertilization) as well as asexually. Asexual reproduction occurs through the production of spores and by vegetative means, i.e. cell fragmentation and division.

The cause of black cluster moss

Black cluster moss is mainly introduced into aquariums through contaminated plants, specimens and substrate obtained from stores or other sources. The main causes of black moss growth in the tank include:

CO2: A lack of CO2 or fluctuating CO2 levels can greatly aid the growth and spread of Black Moss in your tank. When CO2 levels are unstable, plants cannot use available fertilizers and light to carry out photosynthesis.

If your aquarium does not have enough water circulation, not enough CO2 / CO2 levels fluctuate, then you are creating a favorable environment for moss to grow.

Solution: To effectively combat this disease, providing the right amount of CO2 for your aquarium should be the norm; you can use a pressurized CO2 injector or just add liquid carbon, Seachem Flourish Excel is a prime example. This way you can easily add CO2 and there won't be a spike in the carbon level in the tank by any measurable amount. Also, this has the potential to get rid of the black plumage present in the tank.

– Light: Aquatic plants like light, so does Black Moss. Leaving the lights on for hours is an open invitation to moss growth; The more light it gets, the faster it grows and spreads in the tank.

Solution: Reducing photoperiod will slow down the growth/spread of black moss in your tank, this can be accomplished by using an automatic timer that will turn the LEDs on and off each time. day.

Nutrients: An excess of nutrients can also lead to Black Beard Moss.

Solution: Don't overfeed.

Is black moss harmful to fish or shrimp?

Black moss will not directly harm the fish, shrimp, and other animals in your tank as it is not toxic to them. However, you need to remove moss from your tank immediately as they have the potential to be destructive and irritating to plant and animal life.

Here are some reasons why you need to remove it:

– Black moss can stick to any hard surface in the tank: driftwood, glass, filter pipes, rocks, even shells of snails; thus turning the tank into a clump of ingrown hairs that can be unsightly when left unattended.

- This translucent moss has the ability to block the entrance to the hiding places that bottom-dwelling creatures, minnows and shy fish like to roam around.

- Overgrowth of black moss will unbalance nutrients and lead to an unsafe environment for animals. It can also increase fish stress levels by reducing the space they need for their activities.

– Some fish will like to swim and hide in the long, fuzzy hairs of the Black Moss. While this is not reason enough to allow them to grow in your tank, you should remove it.

Is black moss harmful to plants?

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Yes, black moss will harm your plants. You will notice them growing on the edges of your plants. Slowly but surely, it will begin to spread and kill the plant by covering the entire leaf surface including the stem.

When this happens, less light is able to reach the plant and this is important for most aquatic plants to survive. In the absence of light, plants cannot carry out photosynthesis and in the long run will die.

Therefore, the presence of black moss should not be taken lightly, as its uncontrolled spread can kill the health of the plants in the aquarium: the mosses compete with the plants for nutrients. available and also block the light reaching them.

How to treat black cluster moss

Black moss infestation is not something any aquarist should take lightly, its spread can be devastating if left unattended. At this point, the big question arises; How to get rid of black moss in the aquarium?

While there are many methods for removing black moss from a tank, not all of them may work for all tanks. In addition, the effectiveness of this method can vary depending on the level of infection and tank setup.

1. Biological 

This method of combating black moss is through the introduction of moss-eating species. Certain species of fish and crustaceans will help control the presence of moss in your tank. However, you should keep in mind that this method may not be as effective as the others mentioned in this article.

According to many reports, the following species can help control black moss:
- Pencil fish (Crossocheilus siamensis). Adult size 15 cm. Relatively peaceful. Note: Said to be the best black moss eater.
– 7-color fish (Poeciliidae sp.). Adult size 10-12 cm.
Grouper (Xiphophorus maculatus). Adult size 6 – 7 cm
– Amano shrimp (Caridina multidentata). Adult size 5 cm.
- Nerite snail with horns (Clithon Corona). Adult size 1.5 cm
Unfortunately, many aquarists have also had varying degrees of success in controlling black moss with moss eaters. In some cases, there are no positive results at all.

Potential problems:
– Remember that many of the species mentioned above are more likely to eat moss when there are no other food sources in the tank. In other words, they must be hungry.
Hungry animals may also try to find another food source in the tank instead of eating black moss. For example, they may even be resistant to plants.
– Some settings may be too small for moss-eating fish.
– Compatibility with other fish, shrimp, snails, etc. can also be an issue.
– These species can eat black moss when fresh and new. Once it gets bigger and gets rough, they ignore it.

2. Increases CO2 levels in the tank compared to black moss

This method is a more effective way to remove Black Moss and involves increasing the concentration of Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the tank. This process will not remove the moss on the spot, but will gradually inhibit its growth until it is no longer present.

Increasing CO2 levels will also promote plant growth, thereby reducing the nutrients available in the tank for moss to grow. You can increase your CO2 levels in two main ways:

Potential problems:
If you keep shrimp or fish in a tank and plan to use the CO2 method, I strongly recommend that you learn more about this topic. Adding too much CO2 will cause low O2 levels (which can cause suffocation) and a drop in pH, which can also shock the animals in the tank.

3. Flourish Excel, Easy Carbo, etc…

This alternative to gaseous CO2 injection works in a slightly different way than CO2.

It contains a chemical called Glutaraldehyde that has a disinfecting effect when added to the tank water, it will cause the Black Moss to slowly wilt and die. Alternatively, you can try topical medications. This involves using a pipette or syringe to apply Seachem Excel directly to the moss.

- Not only the dose, but also the overdose
– Day 1 – use a standard dose of Flourish Excel.
– Days 2, 3 and 4 – double or triple use
- Dose in the evening, will increase the effect.
In a day or two, you'll notice that the black moss turns red or purple. It means it is dying. After a while, it turns white and begins to fall off.

Tip: Clean your equipment and prune plants infected with black plumage. You should also continue to use Flourish Excel (the normal dose) for a while to prevent the moss from returning.

Note: If you only have black moss in some places, it is better to use a syringe and treat these places individually rather than treating the whole tank. The principle is the same. The only difference is that you need to turn off the filter during the treatment time of 5-10 minutes.

Potential problems:
– Overdosing can kill your fish and shrimp.
– Some plants can wash out and die.
– If you see fish breathing on the surface, it is a sign of too much CO2 in the tank. Reduce dose and change water.
– Many plants are sensitive to Flourish Excel, and will wash out and die.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2 – Hydrogen Peroxide) 

You can always remove black moss from your aquarium using hydrogen peroxide (3%).
To remove moss from plants, you must remove the affected ornamental or aquatic plants and soak them in a bath of diluted 3% Hydrogen peroxide for 3-5 minutes.

When this time is up, remove the affected decorations or plants and rinse them thoroughly with RO water. You can then let them air dry before returning them to the tank.

Potential problems:
Some plants can be very sensitive to Hydrogen peroxide. For example, plants like Monte Carlo, Dwarf baby eyes, Vals, Mosses, Monoselum tenarum, Susswasertung, Riccia, Hemanthius glomeratus, etc.

5. Inject Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2 – Hydrogen Peroxide)

If it is not possible to remove plants, decorations, etc. from the tank, we can use a syringe to spray Hydrogen Peroxide on the infected area or treat the entire tank.

How to use:
– Turn off your filter
– Use Hydrogen peroxide 3% with 1.5ml / 4.5 liters.
– Spread H2O2 evenly over the surface of the aquarium.
- Stir gently to spread the water.
– Wait for 60 minutes
– Turn your filter back on.
In the same week, change the water and add a microbiological supplement.
Ideally, it is better to remove all animals, wait a few days, do a large water change before bringing them back. 

Potential problems:
Hydrogen peroxide can kill beneficial bacteria in the nitrogen cycle because it does not have the necessary enzymes to metabolize H2O2.
Note: If you only have black moss in some places, it is better to use H2O2 through a syringe, injecting it slowly into a mass of moss, rather than treating the whole tank. The principle is the same. The only difference is that you need to turn off the filter during the treatment time of 5-10 minutes.

6. Seachem Flourish Excel + H2O2

Read more: How to Kill Brown Algae in Aquarium

It's basically a combination of both methods - a 50/50 mix of 3% Hydrogen peroxide and Seachem Flourish Excel.

Potential problems:
– Hydrogen peroxide + Flourish Excel may be too much for your pets and plants. This is very dangerous but also effective.
Note: If you only have black moss in some places, it is better to use a syringe and inject it slowly into a mass of moss, rather than draining and treating the entire tank. The principle is the same. The only difference is that you need to turn off the filter during the treatment time of 5-10 minutes.

7. Blackout

This is one of the simplest ways to get rid of black moss. If there is no light, the black moss will die.

Potential problems:
– It can harm plants that need a lot of light but they survive.

How to do Blackout:
If you keep fish, feed them a regular amount of food. Don't overfeed.
– Turn off CO2.
– Do not add fertilizer during power outages.
- Increase oxygen supply. Install a new air pump if necessary.
– Cover the tank with a thick blanket. It should be completely dark in the tank.
– Leave the tank in this way for at least 3 days. Some aquarists recommend 5 days.
– After 3-5 days open half of the tank and leave it for 30 minutes. Let your fish adapt.
– Remove the blanket completely and wait another 30 minutes before turning on the aquarium light.
– Clean the unit as dead black moss can easily clog.
- Water exchange. If it is an aquarium, it is possible to change 50% of water. If it is a shrimp tank – change 10% of water.
– Change your light timer to 4-5 hours for the next week.

8. Regulating the amount of phosphate in the aquarium

Phosphates naturally increase when the waste is decomposed in the aquarium. If the tank is not properly maintained, phosphate levels will continually rise and contribute to moss growth.

Phosphate sources include: dead fish, uneaten food, fish waste, pH & KH buffers, rotting plants.

Phosphate levels can be kept low through the following ways:

Tank maintenance: Make sure the tank is free of dirt and algae. You can do this by scraping the glass, removing the stones and decorations, and also scrubbing them. The bottom of the tank should be vacuumed regularly to remove dead plants, uneaten food and fish waste. Performing regular water changes will also help keep phosphate levels at desired levels.
Feeding: Avoid overfeeding fish or shrimp. They should be fed sparingly and discarded food immediately.
Filtration: The use of phosphate-absorbing filter media.

9. Manual removal

In summary, this method is completely ineffective without any of the other methods mentioned above. Still, it's a great way to improve results.
– Prune affected trees
– Try to remove moss as much as possible.
Use a moss scraper or toothbrush to do it.

How to prevent black moss

It is extremely important to take precautions to prevent the growth and spread of Black Moss. Here are a few tips that can help prevent a black moss outbreak in your tank:

– Buy plants from reputable stores. Most fish shops have established methods to prevent the transmission of parasites into their customers' aquariums. Also, never take plants and animals from the wild

Quarantine/disinfect new crops with a bleach/permanent solution, a hydrogen peroxide bath can also be used for this purpose. This will help prevent moss infestations as well as a host of other parasites and diseases.

– Isolate all new animals (fish, shrimp, snails, crabs, crayfish, etc.) and DO NOT let their water mix with your tank water.

– Always monitor light levels and do not leave lights on for hours. High light intensity for a long time will promote moss growth.

- Perform periodic water changes. It will go a long way in preventing moss growth.

– Perform vacuuming on the surface to remove as much dirt as possible.

– Add live plants to compete with moss for available nutrients. Also, make sure that the aquarium has enough carbon dioxide that the plants will use up for photosynthesis.

Use a filter strong enough for your aquarium. The essence of having a good filter is that it ensures sufficient water flow in the tank and it will help regulate the phosphate level.

- Do not overfeed the fish.

Black cluster moss is one of the most difficult mosses to kill. It usually occurs if there is an imbalance of light, CO2, or nutrients.

Don't let it take over and take over your tank.

Remember that you can't fight moss by fighting moss. You have to find the cause of the moss and you need to work to eliminate that cause.

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