The last massive epiphyte trim was nearly 10 months ago, so time to go at it again. I didn’t actually mind the overgrown appearance and the fish seemed to like hanging out under the middle layer of Anubias nana ‘Pinto’. There was considerable shading of the bottom of the Fireplace Aquarium but I didn’t notice that particularly being a problem for either the Cryptocoryne petchii pink or the Microsorum pteropus ‘Windelov’ so that was ok. What finally pushed me to get the scissors out was the increasing amount of black beard algae that was growing on the leaves of the Bucephalandra caterina at the top of mountain on the side in the middle that gets the most light. BBA that gets established is notoriously difficult to get back under control so I figured the best way was to remove it physically altogether.
Causes of black beard algae… still debated
No one really understands what causes black beard algae although there certainly are lots of guesses. Clearly excess light is a factor, since the algae was on only the most brightly lit side of the caterina. My other thought though is a build-up of organic waste and debris. This was a big problem in the original Shrimphaus where there were lots of “can’t be effectively cleaned” hardscape areas. Similarly, debris can also get trapped in densely growing plants, as happened previously with the Marsilea hirsuta carpet. I noticed that during a water change, debris would pour off of the Caterina. Even with vigorous agitation the dense plant couldn’t be all the way rinsed off in its overgrown super-bushy state. Sure enough, after today’s huge pruning I was able to (finally) effectively clear out all the organic debris that had been trapped and rotting at the base of the plant. Sometimes you just need a good clean-out / do-over.