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Hydrogen Peroxide as Algae Treatment?

Contents:

  1. Hydrogen Peroxide: Update
    by August Eppler <augiee/bellsouth.net> (Fri, 18 Sep 1998)
  2. Hydrogen Peroxide: Update
    by August Eppler <augiee/bellsouth.net> (Sun, 20 Sep 1998)
  3. Hydrogen Peroxide: Update
    by "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill/rt66.com> (Sun, 20 Sep 1998)
  4. Hydrogen Peroxide: Update
    by Steve Pushak <teban/powersonic.bc.ca> (Sun, 20 Sep 1998)
  5. Hydrogen Peroxide: Update
    by "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill/rt66.com> (Mon, 21 Sep 1998)
  6. Hydrogen Peroxide: Update
    by George Slusarczuk <yurko/warwick.net> (Mon, 21 Sep 1998)
  7. Hydrogen Peroxide: Update
    by "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill/rt66.com> (Mon, 21 Sep 1998)
  8. Hydrogen Peroxide: Update
    by Neil Frank <nfrank/mindspring.com> (Tue, 22 Sep 1998)
  9. Hydrogen Peroxide vs. cynobacteria (long)
    by Louis Lin <lhclin/aw.sgi.com> (Tue, 02 Feb 1999)
  10. RE: Hydrogen Peroxide
    by Mark Fisher <Mark.Fisher/tpwd.state.tx.us> (Wed, 3 Feb 1999)
  11. RE: Hydrogen Peroxide
    by Louis Lin <lhclin/aw.sgi.com> (Wed, 03 Feb 1999)
  12. H2O2 Dosing
    by Augie Eppler <augiee/bellsouth.net> (Mon, 03 Jul 2000)
  13. Wild Goose chases
    by "II, Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/earthlink.net> (Mon, 03 Jul 2000)

Hydrogen Peroxide: Update

by August Eppler <augiee/bellsouth.net>
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998
To: "Aquatic-Plants/actwin.com" <Aquatic-Plants/actwin.com>

Two new items to report.

1. Recently tried H2O2 on B/G algae. Spot treated a few areas using the
meat injector. Immediate results, nothing, zilch. No bubbling, no
turning white, nothing like what happened with the hair algae. Arrived
home that evening and was surprised to find the treated spots, algae
free. At the same time, my pair of Kribs came out from beneath a piece
of bog wood, leading their new family. The fry appeared to be a week to
ten days old. So, on the dangers of using this amount of Hydrogen
Peroxide. Draw your own conclusions.

2. I've been corresponding with a member of this list for over a year.
On more than one occasion, he's referred to a 10g fish less, planted
tank in his basement as, "the algae farm". Recently he decided to treat
it with H202. Being fish less, we figured we could factor up the amount
of H2O2 considerably. He added 2 oz, and did a 50% water change the
following day. Result. No algae. None. Clean as a whistle. Plants are
now thriving.

Augie Eppler
Green Cove Springs, Fl.


Hydrogen Peroxide: Update

by August Eppler <augiee/bellsouth.net>
Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998
To: Paul Krombholz <krombhol/teclink.net>

Hydrogen peroxide was 3%, standard drug store stuff. Water changes were
done because I wasn't sure about any residual effects of the treatment.
No water changes were done after the last two treatments, no difference
in the condition of the plants or fish. From that observation, water
changes _SEEM_ to be unnecessary. Again, all of this has been on a very
limited and unscientific basis.

Augie

Paul Krombholz wrote:
> 
> The H2O2 treatments sound interesting.  From the material that Steve copied
> from Augie, I see that 2 oz was used on a 10 gallon and several 4 oz
> treatments were used on a 55 gallon, with water changes the next day.  What
> strength was the hydrogen peroxide?  4%?  Why were water changes done the
> next day?  Is there damage to fish or plants if water changes are not done?
> 
> Paul Krombholz, in steamy central Mississippi, where Frances gave us much
> needed rain last weekend and another system may give us more this weekend.


Hydrogen Peroxide: Update

by "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill/rt66.com>
Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998
To: Steve Pushak <teban/powersonic.bc.ca>


On Sun, 20 Sep 1998, Steve Pushak wrote:
 
> Theory:
> 
> There are two or three actions of adding hydrogen peroxide. The first is
> the obvious: the corrosive oxidation by the peroxide radicals.

[snip] 

> The second effect I could think of is the increase in oxygen levels in
> the tank water. I'm not sure this has a direct effect upon the algae but
> read on...
> 
> The third effect I can think of is that the hydrogen peroxide will also
> attack and oxidize several kinds of dissolved organics and salts.

The first of these mechanism seems to me most plausible.  The action
appears too rapid to invoke starvation as all or part of the mechanism. 

[snip]

> I don't know the typical chemical forms of phosphates in solution. 

Orthophosphates; either mono- or dihydrogen phosphate depending on pH.  
These would not be altered by peroxide.  

[snip]

> Areas for concern might be a disruption of bacteria and micro organisms
> both in the water and in the top layer of the substrate and in any
> filter media. [snip]

This is my concern.  If I wanted to use something to indiscriminantly
destroy all of the smaller life forms in a tank then hydrogen peroxide
would probably be a good choice. 
 

Roger Miller


Hydrogen Peroxide: Update

by Steve Pushak <teban/powersonic.bc.ca>
Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998
To: "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill/rt66.com>, augiee/bellsouth.net

Roger S. Miller wrote:
> 
> On Sun, 20 Sep 1998, Steve Pushak wrote:
> 
> > Theory:
> >
> > There are two or three actions of adding hydrogen peroxide. The first is
> > the obvious: the corrosive oxidation by the peroxide radicals.
> 
> [snip]
> 
> > The second effect I could think of is the increase in oxygen levels in
> > the tank water. I'm not sure this has a direct effect upon the algae but
> > read on...
> >
> > The third effect I can think of is that the hydrogen peroxide will also
> > attack and oxidize several kinds of dissolved organics and salts.
> 
> The first of these mechanism seems to me most plausible.  The action
> appears too rapid to invoke starvation as all or part of the mechanism.

Paul Krombholz told me before that algae species are incredibly durable
under adverse conditions. I think he said that brush algae left on
apparatus dry for years will revive when placed under water. Simple
starvation does not kill algae however it might have a big effect on
their ability to recover after a treatment and this might be good
enough.

> > Areas for concern might be a disruption of bacteria and micro organisms
> > both in the water and in the top layer of the substrate and in any
> > filter media. [snip]
> 
> This is my concern.  If I wanted to use something to indiscriminantly
> destroy all of the smaller life forms in a tank then hydrogen peroxide
> would probably be a good choice.

I think the preferable method would be to remove the fish and any
valuable invertibrates preferably to a clean tank without algae to
permit any algae within their digestive tracts to be purged.

The most valuable bacteria from my perspective would be the anaerobic
and facultative types in the substrate and these should have some degree
of protection. In a planted aquarium, perhaps the temporary loss of
nitrifying bacteria is not as important provided that the fish
population is kept light. Algae eaters such as Otocinclus and
Plecostomus might be hungry for several months unless they had
supplementary food. Diatoms and some other forms of algae would be able
to recolonize the tank from the air or from food sources.

Steve


Hydrogen Peroxide: Update

by "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill/rt66.com>
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998
To: Steve Pushak <teban/powersonic.bc.ca>


Steve wrote:

[snip]

> > This is my concern.  If I wanted to use something to indiscriminantly
> > destroy all of the smaller life forms in a tank then hydrogen peroxide
> > would probably be a good choice.
>
> I think the preferable method would be to remove the fish and any
> valuable invertibrates preferably to a clean tank without algae to
> permit any algae within their digestive tracts to be purged.
>
> The most valuable bacteria from my perspective would be the anaerobic
> and facultative types in the substrate and these should have some degree
> of protection. In a planted aquarium, perhaps the temporary loss of
> nitrifying bacteria is not as important provided that the fish
> population is kept light. Algae eaters such as Otocinclus and
> Plecostomus might be hungry for several months unless they had
> supplementary food. Diatoms and some other forms of algae would be able
> to recolonize the tank from the air or from food sources.

Along with the algae and bacteria there's a host of other single-cell and
colonial critters, many of which are beneficial to the tank.  In
fact, many eat algae.  I think agricultural and horticultural
experience teaches that when you kill the good guys along with the bad
guys that you really don't get very much net benefit.  You have to
continue use of the poison or the nuisance simply returns, often worse
than it was before.

This is approaching a point of philosophical difference - something that
probably has no place in this context.


Roger Miller



Hydrogen Peroxide: Update

by George Slusarczuk <yurko/warwick.net>
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998
To: Steve Pushak <teban/powersonic.bc.ca>

Hello Steve,

Augie's report is a very interesting development in the continuous
battle with algae! I hope that H2O2 might be that silver bullet
everybody has been looking for. Eventually the mechanism of its action
will be found -- a plant physiologist, or an algologist, would be an
invaluable resource!

Some thoughts based on my slight acquaintance with H2O2 action on animal
tissues: All animal cells produce one or another form of *catalase* for
protection against effects of free radicals. In practice, dilute H2O2 is
rapidly decomposed by catalase into oxygen and water, before it can do
damage to the cell. That is the reason H2O2 will bubble when applied to
a cut.

Most aerobic and facultative bacterial cells also produce catalases and
thus can neutralize *low* concentrations of H2O2. At higher
concentrations the decomposition is too slow and the bacteria are
killed. 

I know nothing in that respect about plant cells, particularly *algal*
cells. If I were to speculate, I would assume, that algae do not have an
efficient catalase or, perhaps, do not produce a catalase at all,
because in an aquatic environment they might have little need for it.
This would explain the dramatic effect of rather low concentration of
H2O2 -- 2 oz of 3% H2O2 in 10 gal. = 0.005% H2O2.

The question is, do algae produce a catalase? If they do, why is it
*not* protecting them?

Best,

George S


Hydrogen Peroxide: Update

by "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill/rt66.com>
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998
To: George Slusarczuk <yurko/warwick.net>



On Mon, 21 Sep 1998, George Slusarczuk wrote:

> 
> The question is, do algae produce a catalase? If they do, why is it
> *not* protecting them?

Algae and plants both produce low levels of peroxide and superoxide as a
aside to normal photosynthesis, and they have the enzymes necessary to
protect themselves from its effects.  The enzymes are internal.  I don't
believe that they express the enzymes externally and so don't use them to
protect the outer cell membrane.  In fact, I wonder if the enzyme may be
protective only within the chloroplasts where the peroxide and superoxide 
are produced.. 


Roger Miller


Hydrogen Peroxide: Update

by Neil Frank <nfrank/mindspring.com>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998
To: yurko/warwick.net, Steve Pushak <teban/powersonic.bc.ca>

>This would explain the dramatic effect of rather low concentration of
>H2O2 -- 2 oz of 3% H2O2 in 10 gal. = 0.005% H2O2.

Because the syringe is used for spot treatment....  the localized
concentration is a lot closer to 3%...at least for the first few seconds.
This also restricts the damaging effects to a portion of the tank. By the
time the H2O2 disperses to the full aquarium, it may no longer be "H2O2."
Perhaps only the localized populations of organism X would be killed ...
because the tank should be full of them, their relatives would survive.

Maybe a microbiologist (with the aid of a microscope) can help determine if
the diluted concentration of H2O2 after reaction is still high enough to
hurt the needed population of specific desireable organisms.

Neil


Hydrogen Peroxide vs. cynobacteria (long)

by Louis Lin <lhclin/aw.sgi.com>
Date: Tue, 02 Feb 1999

Recently I've been experiementing with hydrogen peroxide as
a non-antibiotic treatment for cynobacteria.  I've been looking
through the Krib and the APD archives.  From the past discussions
(started by August Eppler), the use of hydrogen peroxide to
combat cynobacteria seems very experimental.  So I hope my
anecdotal experience can be helpful to others.

The tank is a new low light set up, 35 gallon, lighted by two 30W
fluorescents.  Alkalinity is 2 meq/L.  pH is 8.0-8.2.  The tank is
not CO2 injected.  The non-plant occupants are malaysian trumpet
snails and ghost shrimps.  There is no fish.  The plants are new
cuttings
from my main tank, and are a mixed of java ferns, anubias and
assorted stem plants.

Cyno is never a problem in my main tank so I didn't disinfect the
cuttings.  So most likely cyno was introduced to the 35 gallon by
the cuttings and it started growing everywhere.

The first thing I tried is to increase the nitrate by dosing PMDD.
I raised the nitrate level to 15ppm, but that did not slow down
the cyno.  I looked into erythromycin but decided to reserve it
as a last resort.  In the past, I had also successfully light starved
cynobacteria in a fish-only tank, but I didn't want to do it in a
plant tank.  So I decided to give hydrogen peroxide a try.
(Interestingly, phosphate was undetectable).

To test out hydrogen peroxide, I applied a little bit of it onto a patch

of cyno using a turkey blaster.  Contrary to August Eppler's report
in the Krib, bubbles almost immediately came up from the cyno.
The next day, that patch of cyno lost its slimyness and I assumed it
was dead.

I decided to try a higher dosage.  August Eppler's friend used 2 oz
in a 10 gallon fishless tank, but I was worry about the shrimp and
snail.  So I used 4 oz, again spot treat using a turkey blaster.

Most of the cyno looked dead the next day.  Unfortunately, so were
many shrimps and snails.  In the second day, I reduced the dosage to
2 oz.  I also used the turkey blaster to blow away whatever cyno that
was remaining on the plants.

More cyno, shrimps and snails death in the third day.  I further reduced

the dosage to 1 oz.  In the fourth day, almost all of the cyno
disappeared.
I didn't count the shrimps and snails, but the lost is probably minimal.

There wasn't much snail and shrimp left anyway.  It looked like I
have reduced the cyno population to a level that the plants can compete
well, and I stopped the treatment.

The plants took hydrogen peroxide quite well during the treatment.
Everything looked good except some tender new leaves of
Hygrophila polysperma.  The new leaves of H. polysperma seemed
to be weaken (not killed) by the hydrogen peroxide.

I also measured ammonia during the treatment.  No ammonia was
detected, but this was fishless tank.  Therefore, it is inconclusive
on how hydrogen peroxide affect the bacterial filter.

I didn't exterminated the cynobacteria.  I can still see tiny bit
of it in the tank but it is not growing.  It is not my intention to
exterminate it anyway because inevitablely, cyno will be
re-introduce by new plants.  The idea is to reduce it to a level
that higher plant can compete well.  Hydrogen peroxide treatment
has achieved this goal for me.

In summary:

- - Hydrogen peroxide is an effective treatment for cynobacteria
   with little affect on plants.

- - As for the amount used, 4 oz per 35 gallon (minus substrate)
   spot treatment is already effective.  That's roughly 2 oz per
  15 gallon.

- - There doesn't seem to be an effective and safe dosage level
   for snails and shrimps, and possiblely for fish.


RE: Hydrogen Peroxide

by Mark Fisher <Mark.Fisher/tpwd.state.tx.us>
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999

> - - Hydrogen peroxide is an effective treatment for cynobacteria
>    with little affect on plants.
> 
> - - As for the amount used, 4 oz per 35 gallon (minus substrate)
>    spot treatment is already effective.  That's roughly 2 oz per
>   15 gallon.
> 
> - - There doesn't seem to be an effective and safe dosage level
>    for snails and shrimps, and possiblely for fish.

My "Introduction to Fish Health Management" (US Fish & Wildlife Service,
2nd ed., 1995) recommends the use of hydrogen peroxide "at 250-500 ppm
(100% active ingredient) for 15 minutes as an effective fungicide for
incubating eggs and 250-500 ppm (30-60 minutes) for treating fish with
external parasites" (page 108).

I interpret this as meaning one probably shouldn't expose fish to more
than 250 ppm for time periods over one hour.  Note that H2O2 is
typically sold in pharmacies as (I think) a 2% solution or so.  Assuming
the density of a 2% solution of H2O2 is 1 g/ml, then one ml would
contain 20 mg of H2O2, or 20,000 ppm.  Using 4 oz per 35 gallons would
result in about 140 ppm H2O2, which might be pushing the "upper end" for
long-term exposure.  I certainly wouldn't go any higher.

Regards,

Mark


RE: Hydrogen Peroxide

by Louis Lin <lhclin/aw.sgi.com>
Date: Wed, 03 Feb 1999

Mark Fisher wrote:
> > - - Hydrogen peroxide is an effective treatment for cynobacteria
> >    with little affect on plants.
> >
> > - - As for the amount used, 4 oz per 35 gallon (minus substrate)
> >    spot treatment is already effective.  That's roughly 2 oz per
> >   15 gallon.
> >
> > - - There doesn't seem to be an effective and safe dosage level
>  >    for snails and shrimps, and possiblely for fish.
>
> My "Introduction to Fish Health Management" (US Fish & Wildlife
Service,
> 2nd ed., 1995) recommends the use of hydrogen peroxide "at 250-500 ppm

> (100% active ingredient) for 15 minutes as an effective fungicide for
> incubating eggs and 250-500 ppm (30-60 minutes) for treating fish with

> external parasites" (page 108).
>
> I interpret this as meaning one probably shouldn't expose fish to more

> than 250 ppm for time periods over one hour.  Note that H2O2 is
> typically sold in pharmacies as (I think) a 2% solution or so.
Assuming
> the density of a 2% solution of H2O2 is 1 g/ml, then one ml would
> contain 20 mg of H2O2, or 20,000 ppm.  Using 4 oz per 35 gallons would

> result in about 140 ppm H2O2, which might be pushing the "upper end"
for
> long-term exposure.  I certainly wouldn't go any higher.

Actually the H2O2 concentration much higher because the real volume
of the tank is less than 35 gallon because of the substrate, and the
H2O2
I used has a concentration of 3%.

I only experienced less death after the third day, on which I dosed 1
oz.
However, most of the cynobacteria was gone then.  So I am not sure
how effective that 1 oz dosage was.  That is the reason I don't know if
there is safe and effective dosage against cynobacteria.  Note that
this is based on ghost shrimps and malaysian trumpet snails.  Fish
may react differently.

As for dip vs. long term explosure.  The shrimps and snails don't
just turn over and die after I dose the H2O2.  I found them dead
the next day I checked the tank.  It is entirely possible that a dip
will not kill the shrimps and snails.  Of course, dipping the shrimp
is not going to cure cynobacteria problem.

Louis Lin


H2O2 Dosing

by Augie Eppler <augiee/bellsouth.net>
Date: Mon, 03 Jul 2000

Ashley Sligh asked:
 
> Is there a rule-of-thumb for dosing H2O2 to a planted tank that has fish?  1
> tablespoon per 10 gallons daily maybe?  What about for dosing a planted tank
> without fish.  I used half a bottle of H2O2 on my tank (29 gal) yesterday
> and it seemed to adverely affect the plants.  Nothing major though.  The
> upper leaves of my hygro poly seem to be wilting, but I'm sure they will
> bounce back in a couple of days (I hope. Also, the leaves on my E. tennelus
> have all of a sudden developed whitish streaks and are pearling like mad.
> All my nutrient levels are in check.

I posted guidelines for dosing, and the consequences of over dosing
three days ago (check the archives).

You weren't very specific, so I'm going to make some assumptions. 

1) Hope this was standard 3%, drug store stuff.

2) If this was a small (16 oz.), bottle, you dumped in approximately 8
oz. If it was the large, 32 oz. bottle, forget it, everything in your
tank is dead.

3) If the tank was fishless, the maximum you'd want to use is 6 oz. (1
oz/5 gallons). Even with that, you'll kill snails, and set the plants
back quite a bit.

4) If the tank contained fish, but no Otto's, you can use 2.5 oz. (1
oz/12 gallons). If it contained Otto's, 1.5 oz (1 oz/20 gallons).

People, please don't arbitrarily dump this stuff in your tank. Hydrogen
peroxide is a very strong oxidizer, it can, and will, kill everything in
your tank if not used properly. Read! Read! Read! Check the archives.
Check the Krib. If all else fails, post a question before, not after the
fact.

Augie Eppler
Green Cove Springs, Fl


Wild Goose chases

by "II, Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/earthlink.net>
Date: Mon, 03 Jul 2000

>There is a very real danger here and it relates to anecdotal evidence and
>misidentified cause/effect.  Without PROPERLY conducted experimentation, you
>cannot be sure that the results you observe are due to the thing you think
>you are testing. If you improperly credit barley straw, peroxide, ozone,
>REDOX, or any of a number of other factors with a reduction in algae growth,
>without being aware of ALL of the other variables which could play a part,
>you haven't learned a thing and you run the risk of sending confused newbies
>off on a wild goose chase.
>
>The answer to this sort of question requires GOOD science, not merely
>observational accounts.

Dupla, Amano, Dernnele and Florida State U all are wrong? Plus my Dutch
friend also? It is possible but unlikely. The more I get onto plants, the
more I find most/all of the Amano ideas are right. Good science on their
part? Not learning a thing? The risk of sending confused newbies off on a
wild goose chase? Well, you had better mention it to them too. Roger added
some word of caution to this notion as did I regarding my query about the
toxicity levels of H2O2.

James said:
>Some of you might disagree, but Dupla rarely introduces a product which
>doesn't work, and they do have the facilities and the expertise to conduct
>research on their products before bringing them to market.

You said it, so now you retrack this statement? Dupla is not doing their
research then as you said? So is it the Straw or the H2O2 that cause the
algae remission(would you agree that the straw is the causitive agent
here?)?  I have noticed "some" new folks should not attempt this but at very
low levels H2O2 is very safe. Will it help your tank? Ask Dupla or the
Germans or Amano etc. They seem to think so for algae. Personally? I cannot
say for certain as of yet. It does seem quite plausible though as a reason.

I have prefaced some of my statements with "Good management" will take care
of it (algae) and H2O2 as a method for algae control or raising redox values
as a potential  method for taking care of algae.

 My query is more about "why" algae doesn't grow in one tank, though algae
has the same access to nutrients as plants in another tank overrun with
algae. With all this blab blab over nutrient management and P limited tanks
and missing this nutrient or that nutrient being the cause of newbie's woes,
I think nutrients and P limitation from the Sears/Colin approach is not
quite right either. Why, if it (P limited)is the case, do plants in my tank
and **many others** do better when P is added? I have high P, NO3, Fe
etc.........all the things according to much of the common North American
dogma are ways to get algae to grow. So all this talk about wild goose
chasing and such seems to be a bit anecdotal evidence and misidentified
cause/effect based on that theory also. Hummm? There's a lot of goose
chasing going then.

Balance is the key. 3 things, CO2,Light and nutrients are what plants need.
Good tank management will solve most, if not all, of your problems. New
folks should certainly try this approach not some cure-all but H2O2/straw
etc should provide some relief from algae if things are not in balance or
give your tank a small boost back to the optimum. Often, a good old water
change will also cause a change in the Redox value too.

 In a well run planted tank there are sky high redox values already
typically if your tank is pearling like crazy. You would not need any extra
straw/H2O2 etc IMO in such a tank. 

Regards, 
Tom Barr


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