Brown slime in my nutrient
First time Hydroponics, I created a flood and drain system with air stone pump and water pump in the reservoir. I planted transplant size several different vegs in 1 gallon containers. medium used is pea gravel in the bottom and then a layer of coir chips and a layer of lava rocks on top to keep coir from floating. The reservoir and tubing is light proof. The nutrient in the flood stage is not exposed to light because i flood it during the night. I run pump only once a day flooding the plants from bottom up, to below the rocks for 30 minutes. This is outdoors in north texas where the temperatures have already been in the mid to high eighties.
Two weeks later i notice brown slime on my tubing and container walls and the color of the nutrient is also brown. There is no green algae. No bad smell. Plants seem to be growing just fine. Different plants were put in at different size. So some are growing fast others slow. For example, tomatoes are flowering, zuchini is fruiting, others are various stages. Only a few lattice in this set up.
Now I know that water turned dark brown when i pre-soaked the coir in water. So, brown color may be ok. But the slime? Should I worry about it? Thanks for the help.
Yes. In my yard there is an area with quite a bit of slope/grade. I built my flood and drain box there. I thought it was going to be easy but it took me a quite a while. This was built in mid-march, so what you see is now 4 weeks growth.
I used part of a pallet to build my 40"X40" square 18" deep in ground box. I built it that deep thinking that i will use it for the final growth stage as well. But now I realize that just one tomato plant will take up the entire area. I lined it with water tight black plastic and built a Bell Siphon in one corner. I did not fill it with any medium. Just placed my transplants in one gallon containers (tomatoes) inside this box. The Blue plastic 30 gallon drum with opening cut out in the side (which is seen covered with black plastic) is located with its bottom about 3 feet below the bottom of the box. The top of the water level in drum is about a foot below the bottom of the box. The water pump black hose goes from the drum to the box and siphon tube comes back to the drum. Later i added other plants to the same box, planted in various size net cups or gallon containers. Now I am using pretty much all the area of the box and have (about 20 good size plants and several lattices and herbs. Now the plants are ready to be moved out of this box into another area (which is still under construction). You can see all the plants: tomatoes, zuchini, okra, various squashes, cucumbers, bell peppers, herbs and some lattices. They are all doing pretty well.
You can see the set up in the pictures attached.
The slime cannot be seen in photo. It is just a thin brownish film on the tubing that is dunked in the drum. If i touch it i can feel that slimy feel between my fingers.
First is that it's typical to get a "thin" slimy film/feel on the sides of the reservoir and tubing after a while. But I'm real confused because you said the blue plastic drum is seen covered with black plastic, but I clearly see the drum exposed in the pictures. That drum is not light proof the way it is in the pictures. Also you said that the water/nutrients aren't exposed to light because you flood the system at night. But in picture number 3, I clearly see a couple small pools of water. Third the way you have your system setup the nutrients are exposed to all kinds of contaminates, especially being outside in the elements. Anything from soil born pathogens and/or fungi spores blowing in the wind to bugs. There is no doubt that hundreds of bugs are getting in there looking for moisture, and dying in the process. Then you flood the system flushing them through your system.
My first thoughts are that the blue drum is not covered, and thus not "actually light proof" (along with the pools of water in the flooding box) and growing algae. The brown color may be from the coco fiber if it wasn't pre-washed thoroughly (possibly even if it was). I usually let it soak in hot water for hours, then do it again at least 3-5 times before using. The color wont hurt the plants, but I try and leach out as much of the color as I can. The last thought is that you are getting so much organic debris (bugs, leaves, dust and dirt) in the system it's inevitable that you wind up with something growing in it.
That brings me to something else I wanted to ask. You said that you noticed something growing after two weeks, but the system is 4 months old. So how often do you change the nutrient solution, and clean out the system? In a system design that collects a lot of debris like that, the longer it goes without cleaning it, the more time the system has to build up contaminates, and/or grow bacteria and fungi. I also wonder what the water temp is? Higher temps will aid in unwanted things growing in it as well.
Thanks for your insight. So, what you are saying is a thin slimy layer on the hoses is normal. Some clarifications and some answers: The drum is light proof, take my word for it. The black plastic covering, i meant the opening in the drum through which you get access to the inside, put pump in and so on, is covered with plastic. The pump is run at night. I had run the system to make a video just before I took those pictures, that is why you see water. I had graded the inside of the box so well, not even a drop of water hangs around after it is drained. There is absolutely no green algae in the box or hoses or the drum.
The Bell Siphon is covered with a filter. so no extraneous stuff goes into the nutrient. Believe it or not, there is not much debris or critters in the filter or in the box. I emptied it out today and it is very clean.
I might have misquoted somewhere, the system is 4 weeks old not 4 months and yes, i did not change nutrient yet, but i compensated by a lot of volume to begin with. The volume needed to flood is only about 3 gallons and I started with 20 gallons.
As I said I am moving plants out of this into different system. I will update on that later. Thanks.
The terms "thin" and "slime" are quite subjective. But anytime you add food (nutrients) to water, you'll generally have some type of micro-flora eventually begin to grow (especially if you don't clean it out for months at a time). What type it is the question. However I'm quite confused now because you first stated "Two weeks later i notice brown slime on my tubing and container walls," and in your last post you now state "There is absolutely no green algae in the box or hoses or the drum."
Algae isn't always green, there are different types, as well as grow in other colors. Green is just the most common. I'm still unclear where your thin smiley film is. I know the blue drums I have are not light proof. But if when you look inside yours it's pitch black dark inside, I guess it must be coated with something on the inside, or much, much thicker plastic than the ones I have. I see plenty of blue light when I look inside mine.
I can't really tell if it looks like a problem to me without really seeing it. But one of the biggest signs of a problem you say you don't have. Those would be a bad (musty) smell, foamy water, and/or cloudy water. But if the water is clear and not cloudy, not foamy or smells like a mold. The plants foliage and roots are fine, and your only symptoms are a very thin layer of a slimy feeling substance in places. I don't think there is anything to worry about, especially if you have had the issue for months. Though I wouldn't let it go that long between nutrient changes myself, and I always clean out the system when doing a nutrient change.
Sorry this is a late comment
The brown stuff is called biota, i get it all the time and its actually a good thing to have in your system,( bad for your emitters though) what biota is.... is a bunch of living organisims that are living and growing in your system that are actually all the health benifical orginisims that are suppose to be in a hydroponic system. Take a sample and look at it under a microscope it will be teaming with microbes and nematodes. here is a link to explain>>>>>>>>>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-wpbhnom70
I almost forgot..... what nutes are you using ?
Last edited by CAPT38; 01-22-2013 at 03:11 AM.
While I agree that microorganisms can be beneficial. And as far as I can tell the term "biota" is referring to beneficial microbes. Just the fact that it's a living microorganism does not mean that it's beneficial, so you can't just lump all microorganisms together. Pathogens are microorganisms as well. And yes, if you look at the water through a microscope you will see it's teaming with life, but what life? Beneficial life, or pathogenic life???
If all microorganisms are beneficial, then I guess that the fungi pythium (plant microorganism) that causes root rot is beneficial? It's never been beneficial to me or anyone else, all it does to our plants is kill them. You need to be trained in microbiology before you can even begin tell the difference between a beneficial microbe (biota), and a pathogenic microbe by looking at it (even under a microscope). Beyond the fact that there are two types of microorganisms (beneficial and pathogenic), those can be broken down into two more categories. Plant or animal organisms (both are living organisms). Both plant and animal organisms have both beneficial and pathogenic organisms. So to just lump all microorganisms together and call them beneficial just isn't true.
And then there are the aerobic bacteria which convert ammonia to nitrite one of which is the Nitrosomonas Bacteria they eat ammonia,and they absolutely LOVE it, but Streptomyces is the Doctor of micro organisims it actually secretes compounds that are equal to antibiotics. Trichoderma can be a good fungi to have because they physically attack and destroy pathogenic fungi ( its actually a mold). On the other hand mycorrhizal fungi form an impenetrable physical barrier on the surface of plant roots and help to ward off, pathogens such as fungi pythium,that take advantage of weak and/or damaged roots. Thus the best defense is to keep roots healthy in the first place. You can add silica to your system which will strenghten your plants roots which will help them combat disease.....The disease may still be present, but it is not able to do its damage. Bacillus subtilis, Paenibacillus polymxa, Bacillus circulans, and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens are all benifecal in fighting off pathogens.
So ideally the beneficial microbes out compete pathogenic species and form a protective layer on the surface of living plant roots, in short the good microbes usually fight the bad ones so they are lumped all together in the ecosystem that you created there is no way around it.
>>>>>>>>>>>> How to Avoid a bad case of Root Rot <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
1. Monitor plants and roots frequently
2. Maintain a clean system – change and sterilize reservoir weekly.
3. Design your system to combat pathogens
4. keep your nutrient reservoir between 68 and 72F to maximize root growth ( 80F and up will cause a fast case of root rot )
5. Constant aeration – maintaining high dissolved oxygen levels inhibits pathogens and accelerates root growth
6. Keep a lid on your reservoir to keep plant matter and light out
7. Maintain a low pH of 6.2 or less to inhibit Verticillium, Phytophthora, Fusarium and pythium growth.
Micro Biology is awesome!!! It was my favorite subject in school.
Last edited by CAPT38; 01-22-2013 at 09:17 AM.
That is where my issue is. You cant just assume every situation is "ideal" and just lump all microorganisms together in order to call them all beneficial, thus pretending that pathogens don't even exist. That's exactly what I see in the video, they make no reference to pathogens, and just define "ALL" microbes as beneficial life. There's a distinct difference between beneficial microbes and pathogens. And it is quite possible (and easy) for pathogens to be able take over if given half a chance too.
Last edited by GpsFrontier; 01-24-2013 at 07:14 AM.
Let me try to explain it this way.
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving (abiotic), and the living,(biotic)
Some examples of abiotic factors are coco coir, hydroton, light, wind,( the fan in your green house) even the synthetic nutrient in your water oh yeah the water is abiotic also.( so are sound waves)
The Plants, the micro orginisims, bacteria, fungi, the bees and insects that pollinate your flowers the aphids and the ladybugs that eat them even the cucumber beetle thats carrying the pathogen Erwinia tracheiphila (bacteria) which cause bacteria wilt.
( Which are Biotic)This refers to micro-organisms that live and thrive in water (bacteria, fungi, archaea and algae), and microfauna ( protozoa, nematodes).
Are the total living micro orginisims by volume in any given enviroment
Bacteria and fungi have diverse metabolic capabilities and are the principle agents for the cycling of nutrients and convert them into nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulphur They may be free living or symbiotic and active in the decomposition or build-up of organic matter.
Protozoa and nematodes are the main link between microflora and larger fauna. They regulate the populations of bacteria and fungi by eating them and are the key to mineralization of nutrients. nematodes, adn protozoas, prey on other aquatic microfauna such as amoebas and bacteria. ( some bacteria are the nasty ones that we dont want in our systems) nemetodes, hydras, and amoebes and protozoas feed on them thus creating a food web.
Consists of the micro-organisms (protozoa, nematodes, bacteria, fungi, archaea and algae, and pathogens )
In essence we have created our very own ecosystems so actually< this is a metiphore> you the "God" of your hydroponic ecosystem.
Last edited by CAPT38; 01-28-2013 at 03:27 AM.