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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Algae?

What makes it grow and spread?
How can it cause Eutrophication?
What does Algae do that can help us?
What can it do to harm us?

Algae is a simply amazing organism. Capable of surviving rather extreme environmental conditions, and can appear any where the conditions our right for it to grow without having to be "seeded" in a sense. It plagues many Reef Hobbyist while some hobbyist work to use algae for good instead of evil! The goal of this thread is to put together a better picture of how something that appears so simple really is far more complex then many of us ever expected. I hope a better working knowledge of Algae and its limits in regards to Reef keeping and how we can better apply that information.

The Core of Algae is Photosynthesis, and its Partner in arms The Calvin Cycle.
Here is a good break down from PSU.edu in three segments that do a good job of explaining the nuts and bolts of the process when in a perfect environment.

Links to Photosynthesis Information Material
https://wikispaces.psu.edu/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=38805715
https://wikispaces.psu.edu/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=38806216
https://wikispaces.psu.edu/display/230/Oxidative+Phosphorylation

What Algae Needs to Live

Light - Light is the driving external force that allows Photosynthesis to happen. As light is made up of many spectrums Algae tends to favor the following areas of the spectrum.
Notice the range they utilize and the range corals utilize. They share the same general spectrums which makes sense due to coral also is utilizing Photosynthesis Methods.



Nutrient Inventory - Algae requires Nutrients to function as does well all life. The Primary Nutrients Algae requires are Carbon (C), Nitrogen (N), Water (H20), "Inorganic" Phosphates (P). Beyond Primary nutrients there are Micro Nutrients. These vary based on Algae types and needs but they are Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sodium (Na), Copper (Cu), Potassium (K), Zinc (Z), Sulfur (S), Manganese (MN), Iron (Fe), and finally Cobalt (Co). The main reason nutrients are separated into Primary and Micro nutrient categories is the level of needs. The Primary nutrients are needed in ample supply to support Algae life. Due to the volume they are used and needed and access to them in the world, they also become "Limiters" Micro Nutrients are needed at such tiny levels they are mostly ignored as the demand is very low to none even with some algae types. The "Limiter" term is used in regards to one or more Primary Nutrients frequently when discussing algae due to the supply of these nutrients falling to low, or being missing limits algae from continuing to grow or even appear in an environment. We will discuss the causes and effects of "Limiters" later.



Photosynthesis Summary



A bit more detailed view of things showing more named component and paths each component of the process is taking.


Glucose Export and Whaaa?
So if you poke around through other diagrams you will see its not just Glucose export its sometimes labeled as having Sucrose or fructose as an export. Being base sugar compounds and base sugar compounds make up the generally referred "other organics" generally refers mostly to a wide range of sugar compounds. (Other non sugar compounds can and will be exported we'll explore that later) Why does do the diagrams differ like this? Well Depending on environmental triggers such as Day and Night or the effects of Limiters coming into play the end results can vary at times based on the needs of the algae and environmental triggers. Generally Glucose will be shown as its the form of sugar compound required in Cellular Respiration (Covering this next don't worry) Glucose can also be converted to Cellulose think building materials. (Cellulose is the structural component of the primary cell wall of green plants, many forms of algae) Glucose also converts into Starch, as we all should know starch is a carbohydrate and is storage for energy within plants. The sugars are used in many forms but as we know from biology class Sugars are a critical component in cells creating RNA and DNA. RNA and DNA are required to be formed in essence as the blueprint to build a new algae cell. Other Organics also includes fatty acids (Lipids) and the building blocks to create proteins. When you look at the chain of events we have Amino acids, sugars, starch energy ect These sugar by products are all the parts and pieces to make more Algae cells.

Sugars and "Other Organics"
While we just discussed the creation of Glucose, lipids, polysaccharides (starch, cellulose) and more, below is a more detail break down diagram of where the calvin cycle adjusts and exports the building blocks of algae life. Here is two such examples the first being "Dark" Processing the Second being CO2 entering the process at position (1) and "Light". Don't stare to hard at these they are merely for examples of how far this little process is and there will not be a test on this segment later on...yet.





Cellular Respiration (Optional read just a tie in to the above)
Cellular Respiration were going to only touch on as you already know its going on but may not have realized it. What is Cellular Respiration? Cellular respiration is the set of the metabolic reactions and processes that take place in the cells of organisms to convert biochemical energy from nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and then release waste products. Although technically, cellular respiration is a combustion reaction, it clearly does not resemble one when it occurs in a living cell. Basically as the ATP bonds are broken this creates energy little explosions of heat energy like a car engine of sorts. Cellular Respiration is a function of all living things.

If you look closely and compare this to Photosynthesis and Calvin Cycle you will will notice this process is integrated within those cycles. Basically closing the loop on the core function of life. Below is a couple of diagrams just showing the process raw form.



Simplified for understanding of some of the Glucose end products.


Just because in the process of making this post ran into this image while digging for good diagrams and it made me laugh...given the situation it was funny.


Non Vascular Plants and Vascular Plants (Hint Algae has no plumbing)
Let start with What is a Vascular Plant? Vascular plants are just as it sounds plants with veins of sorts. Think Trees and Mangroves ect. The most common attributes of a Vascular plant are root based and typically leaf like structures. Vascular plants use the internal veins for "Transport" from one area of the plant to another, reaching literally from one end to the other. This "Transport" system allows vascular plants to move nutrients and energy (Starch) to areas of the plant that are in need, also this allows for the plant to move energy into large areas designed for storage of nutrients and energy (Starch) Leaves on tress are a prime example, large storage units to stockpile and save for a rainy or in this case a non rainy day. Non-Vascular is simply no veins for long distance "Transport" Algae is a non vascular plant. Algae still possess a "transport" method but its very short distance and literally only a means to move materials into and out of the cell membrane. As Algae is comprised of a collection of cells with no interconnecting vascular system "Transport" literally just a cell by cell basis. Its pretty much each cell fends for itself. Now as we know Algae produces Starch (Energy) from the Calvin cycle but lacks a "Transport" system and or a large storage system where does it store these starches (Energy)? Simply within the cell itself, as you can imagine space is VERY limited within the cell for the stock piling of starch. So with a very limited back up supply of reserve energy Algae has to strive to strike a balance with its nutrient supply to maintain its health and prevent death and decay. There is no room to save up much reserves for a possible drought so to speak. Beyond starch (Energy) The Calvin Cycle and Photosynthesis are creating more basic building blocks from Glucose and base sugars. These to are crammed and stored in the tight confines of the cell itself limiting storage space even more. Most of the "Raw Materials" are the building blocks for "The Cell cycle"

Example of Vascular System in Plants


Example of Non Vascular Plant (Hair algae)



Continued on post #43 located Here http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2217294&postcount=43
 

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awesome... grabbing the popcorn, sitting on the edge of my seat, and getting the DVR ready :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
awesome... grabbing the popcorn, sitting on the edge of my seat, and getting the DVR ready :lol:
Haha, slowly putting things together uploading pics so they don't vanish later. Its really hard to find the right starting point I am finding. Going to lay things out then start chasing down the missing rabbit holes. Starting simplier I think will help before diving into things like CO2 supply is low and O2 gets pulled into the cycle and creates all sorts of crazyness like Ammonia :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Bit more added, food is inbound to fuel my ATP needs (get it biology joke)

Jump in if something is worded badly. I am struggling to find a linear way to evolve the information so its not just a bunch of random pot holes of crazyness lol
 

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Refreshing my memory of the Calvin cycle and all those sugar synthesis brought me back to my undergrad days in the sixties and early seventies but why am I here?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Refreshing my memory of the Calvin cycle and all those sugar synthesis brought me back to my undergrad days in the sixties and early seventies but why am I here?
Laying out much of how things function first for those that are not as familiar.
Then when can look into the how algae effects nutrients in a system and its limits. Where it can help and where it can do harm. We gotta crawl a bit before we can walk so we can make sense of why these things happen.

Back to adding to the first post :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Grrr just lost a ton of work forgot to save doh and I was just getting to some of the good stuff!
 

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Just because in the process of making this post ran into this image while digging for good diagrams and it made me laugh...given the situation it was funny.
Just because I am a transportation professional, this is hilarious.

Reminds me of a place that wanted more bike traffic to reduce parking demands (major college town). The #1 complain was that the owner/manager of said place would have bikes chained to the railing/nearby trees out front confiscated by the local PD. Folks would go in, do business, and come back to their chain clipped and bike missing. That area had the 3rd most requests into the locality to install a bike rack but was ignored for 3+ years.

:D
 

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the algae is creating ammonia ?

Haha, slowly putting things together uploading pics so they don't vanish later. Its really hard to find the right starting point I am finding. Going to lay things out then start chasing down the missing rabbit holes. Starting simplier I think will help before diving into things like CO2 supply is low and O2 gets pulled into the cycle and creates all sorts of crazyness like Ammonia :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
the algae is creating ammonia ?
That is a rabbit hole we get to wander down here shortly, yes it can in a few ways. But its not a constant state it is a cause from an effect of a imbalance.....

Its good home work to chase down why I finish laying out the base functions of algae if your up for a challenge.

How it does this?
Why does it do this?
and what causes such to happen?

:thumbup:
 

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At work. Following when I get home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Just because I am a transportation professional, this is hilarious.

Reminds me of a place that wanted more bike traffic to reduce parking demands (major college town). The #1 complain was that the owner/manager of said place would have bikes chained to the railing/nearby trees out front confiscated by the local PD. Folks would go in, do business, and come back to their chain clipped and bike missing. That area had the 3rd most requests into the locality to install a bike rack but was ignored for 3+ years.

:D
Haha yeah, I just hit it at the perfect timing while digging up my saved info on some of the "cycles" lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Will continue adding to the first post tomorrow 14 hour days are killing me, next week at least I should only be doing 4 16 hour days I think that is better.....Nothing like being tied up in a project to build an entire call center in the middle of a active functioning warehouse for 200 people in a total construction time of under 8 weeks from demo to people making calls.....Ironically stealing a few mins between crisises to explore the algal world keeps me sane at work right now lol
 

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Earl and I have both experienced a decrease in the amount of skimmate produced but an increase in the "quality". The skimmate is much darker than it has been in the past. I couldn't help but to notice an emphasis on the export of glucose from living algae. I wonder if we are experiencing an increased bacterial presence by using algae as filtration because carbon is removed as a limiting factor.

All I can say is that it has been really cool watching algae wither away on previously phosphate-saturated rocks all while feeding more and simply scraping off a screen. It is definitely not a secret that I think algae compliments other forms of filtration very well. :thumbup:
 

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Haha, slowly putting things together uploading pics so they don't vanish later. Its really hard to find the right starting point I am finding. Going to lay things out then start chasing down the missing rabbit holes. Starting simplier I think will help before diving into things like CO2 supply is low and O2 gets pulled into the cycle and creates all sorts of crazyness like Ammonia :p
Most people on here are going to have a heavy enough bio-load that they don't have to worry about CO2 levels being too low, especially inside of houses. I am still interested to hear about this process.
 

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I'm on pins and needles about how nutrients come in to the mix. What are they used for? Buildung blocks? Not food? I never did 'get it'. Nitrogen, phosphate, etc...what are they used for?! I have to know!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Most people on here are going to have a heavy enough bio-load that they don't have to worry about CO2 levels being too low, especially inside of houses. I am still interested to hear about this process.
Trick is co2 levels can be present and that process occur. In a chain of events changing something else where changes how other events. So while co2 is present it does not mean it will be used. This is where we have overstepped as this is a complex multi use system its not as simple as A exists so it does B. A can exist and still create C D E ... Results. This is why I'm laying out how it all works in a perfect world which we often get stuck thinking is the only way it operates. As its never in a perfect world we have to adjust for its compensating reactions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I'm on pins and needles about how nutrients come in to the mix. What are they used for? Buildung blocks? Not food? I never did 'get it'. Nitrogen, phosphate, etc...what are they used for?! I have to know!
If you really watch the top charts you can see phosphates enter the fray at one level. But yeah nutrients are a fun ride as they create some of the coolest changes in the algae engine so to speak. It's hard to resist jumping to them as I add info. But I have to resist more ground work is needed first so we can see how it works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Earl and I have both experienced a decrease in the amount of skimmate produced but an increase in the "quality". The skimmate is much darker than it has been in the past. I couldn't help but to notice an emphasis on the export of glucose from living algae. I wonder if we are experiencing an increased bacterial presence by using algae as filtration because carbon is removed as a limiting factor.

All I can say is that it has been really cool watching algae wither away on previously phosphate-saturated rocks all while feeding more and simply scraping off a screen. It is definitely not a secret that I think algae compliments other forms of filtration very well. :thumbup:
Working towards it but the skimmate change has a few good reasons also why display is showing less yet the system is still showing positive growth one of the reasons to the second is tied to non vascular system but it will become clearer as we go.

Glucose is a export but its one of a process while some leaks out its not a proverbial exhaust pipe to the water column at that stage. Good thoughts though.
 
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