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Dwc Root Rot (Pythium) Guide


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#1 Guest_Mr_Smith_*

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 04:56 PM

I have had quite a few people ask me for help regarding root rot. With all the DWC growers on this site, (THANKS TO BUBBLEGROWER,)
I felt the need to steal this and share
:zoro:

Root rot is a condition found in both indoor and outdoor plants, although more common in indoor plants with poor drainage. As the name states, the roots of the plant rot. Many cases of root rot are caused by members of the water mold family Pythiaceae. This family includes a genus (type) of mold known as Pythium which was once classified as a fungus because it responds like a fungi to many sorts of treatments. Pythium is also part of the parasitic oomycete class, which are considered to be micro-organisms. I am not a major in micro-biology, but I believe all these terms which apply to the cause of root rot may help explain why there is sometimes confusion about whether Root Rot is caused by a mold, fungus, or bacteria.

Regardless of how you classify root rot, the methods to prevent and treat root rot are well established. You may hear that root rot will end up being lethal to your crop, but many growers (including myself) have successfully beaten root rot and been able to smoke the rewards. Even more importantly, growers need to take the steps to prevent root rot from happening in the first place. From what I understand, the organism that creates root rot is almost always there in your system. In order to prevent it from taking over your whole system and actually affecting your plants, you need to create an environment where root rot just can't survive. Luckily, most of the things you can do to prevent root rot will also benefit your plant so it's a win-win situation.

I would like to share my experience and research on preventing and treating root rot, and I would love to hear feedback from other growers about what has worked for them!

Prevention (these things will also help you control a root rot infestation)
Root rot mostly affects hydroponic systems, but can also result from over watering your plants in soil or other medium. Basically anytime the roots are sitting in water, they are at risk of developing root rot. In order to prevent root rot, you will need change the plant's environment so that root rot no longer has a good place to grow.

Cleanliness is one of the best preventions for pretty much any sort of plant pathogen. Keep your grow area as clean as possible at all times. Clean and disinfect all your equipment thoroughly before each new grow. Maintain a clean reservoir that is free of any dead roots, dead leaves or other types of plant debris because they will provide a rotting breeding ground for bacteria.
Some people like to add beneficial bacteria to their water to help prevent root-related plant diseases and help make nutrients available to the plant. Some of the formulas available are Piranha, Aquashield, VooDoo Juice, Great White, Biozome, Subculture, Rooters, Plant Savers, Micro-Max, and DTE Soluble root enhancer. Most of these can be used with both hydro and soil grows. I personally recommend Subculture B because I've used it successfully to treat Root Rot. I've also personally heard many great things from other hydroponic growers about Aquashield, which is much cheaper.
If you have a hydroponic system, it's a good idea to change your reservoir water regularly in order to prevent any one type of bacteria from overgrowing the whole reservoir. I personally recommend trying to change your water at least once a week. I disagree here Regularly changing your water will also help your plants get better access to nutrients and the roots of the plant love that 10-15 minutes where they get access to the oxygen in the air (just don't ever let the roots get dry).
It is beneficial to try to get as much oxygen as possible dissolved in your water. Therefore it's a good idea to buy a BIG air pump and big air stones for your hydroponic system. Root rot can't thrive in an oxygen rich environment and the plant's roots love it.
Ensure that the temperature of the water never gets warmer than a comfortable room temperature. Warm water holds much less dissolved oxygen than colder water and also provides the perfect environment for bacteria. The maximum recommended temperature for the water in your reservoir is around 72°F (22°C). Trying to maintain water temps around 65°F - 68°F (18°C - 20°C) seems to be optimal for both plant growth and root rot prevention. When your temps are higher than that, there's less oxygen in your water and a better opportunity for bacteria to grow.
Don't let any light get to your roots or reservoir water ever, as it provides heat and light which will promote the growth of bacteria.
SM-90 also seems to help prevent and treat root rot, as well as help your plant overall root health. It's made up of a few different types of oils that happen to kill many pathogens. I also like to have SM-90 around because it will kill aphids, spider mites, and white powdery mold when used as a foliar spray. I personally feel that anyone who grows hydroponically should have some SM-90 around. I've heard that SM-90 may kill beneficial bacteria, so I don't use it if I'm adding Subculture B. I always use one of the other. I would be very interested to hear other people's experience with combining the two(beneficial bacteria and SM-90).


Treatment (when you already have root rot)
If you don't fix the environmental causes of root rot, then it will just keep coming back no matter what you do. Therefore, it's important to go through the list above and make sure you're covering all your bases to prevent a re-occurrence. It's also important to note that affected roots will likely never recover, just like how discolored leaves on the plant will never recover. What you're looking for is new, healthy white root growth.

As far as how to get rid of root rot, using Subculture B (by General Hydroponics) has personally worked for me. I had a 6 gallon Stealth Hydro (top-fed DWC or bubbleponic system) and all my plants were suddenly afflicted with horrible, brown, smelly root rot. I treated the system with Subculture B and changed the reservoir water completely 1-2 times a week. 3 weeks later my root rot was gone. No dead roots or anything, the micro-organisms in the Subculture B ate everything. I have continued to treat my water with Subculture B as a preventative.

I have also heard really great things about AquaShield, which is much cheaper. Once I am through with this container of Subculture B, I am going to give AquaShield a try.

With my hand-watered coco coir grow, I use SM-90 with every watering because my plants seem to grow more quickly and have healthier roots, though I haven't run any controlled experiments. This extra growth inspired me to try SM-90 as an additive in my DWC setup. I haven't had a re-occurrence of root rot with any plant fed water that has been treated with SM-90. However, that could be because of other prevention factors so I don't know if it's the SM-90. I haven't personally tried using SM-90 alone as a treatment for a plant that already has root rot, but I've talked to other growers who've said it will work alone as a treatment for root rot. I would definitely be interested in hearing other people's experience with using SM-90. From what I understand, the SM-90 will kill any beneficial bacteria, so I haven't tried using SM-90 together with Subculture B.

I've also heard some people report success after treating their system with a drop or two of bleach/Chlorox per gallon of water. I have personally never really tried this method because the Subculture B and SM-90 both seem to work so well, and also I'm leery about using bleach unless I absolutely have to.

Not Recommended
Some people like to use hydrogen peroxide to kill all organisms in their reservoir. The conventional wisdom is to add a teaspoon of 35% hydrogen peroxide (buy it from a hydroponic store) per gallon of water in your reservoir. Some people also use the hydrogen peroxide you get from the store and use that directly on the affected roots. It does seem to do the trick in the short term to get rid of the brown slimy roots. However, in my experience, the roots will appear to be doing better for 1-2 days, but end up getting root rot right back. I personally believe that this is because the H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) kills all the organisms in your water (both good and bad) but is then used up very quickly and is undetectable in the water after a day or two. If even one pathogen survived the H2O2, it now has the perfect environment to spread (no competition, nutrients in the water, and the H2O2 has all been used up) It seems like you would have to be constantly adding H2O2 to your water in order to use it as a treatment for root rot. In any case, based on my own experience, I have never been able to successfully treat root rot with H2O2 (not for lack of trying!) so I strongly recommend against using the H2O2 method as a long term fix for root rot. If someone out there has successfully rid their plant of root rot using just H2O2, (and by successful, I mean you were able to eventually harvest the plant) please post your methods! I disagree somewhat with this, I find that preventative use of h202 combined with sm-90 works well for me.

I obviously don't agree 100% with this post, but lot of good info on the subject. Feel free to share your thoughts..


#2 treehugger

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 05:13 PM

Great work! I'd like to add that pythium is common in root bound soil grows and usually terminal without treatment.

#3 Guest_Mr_Smith_*

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 05:23 PM

Not my work, just a good find on a bad forum. Good point about root bound plants..

#4 Stewedscrewed

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 07:18 PM

It's funny this was posted. I'm on my first dwc and noticed this today. My plant looks fine, but here is a little something on the roots.
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image
Not sure if have this or just paranoid

#5 Green-Nubie

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 10:02 PM

You Never bought that subculture b we talked about (stewedscrewed)... That's the problem.

Ok add 5ml of bleach per gallon, change water out twice in the next week. Buy some subculture b, the next week start using the sub b at half the recommend does.. be carefull with the sub b.. to much causes a clearish slime on all roots. But after the slime clears u will have perfect white healthy roots.

If u learn how to use molasses and sub culture b together. That's the holy grail.. constanty farming the bacteria instead of buying it all the time.

A "media" helps the bacteria establish a home. Even a foam sponge works well.

You will also find that once heath growth is established with the subculture in the system, nutrient levels will not need to be as high to achive spectacular growth.

Just my two copper pennies!!!!... :-)

Edited by Green-Nubie, 06 September 2011 - 10:14 PM.


#6 Stewedscrewed

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 06:24 AM

You Never bought that subculture b we talked about (stewedscrewed)... That's the problem.

Ok add 5ml of bleach per gallon, change water out twice in the next week. Buy some subculture b, the next week start using the sub b at half the recommend does.. be carefull with the sub b.. to much causes a clearish slime roots. But after the slime clears u will have perfect white healthy roots.

If u learn how to use molasses and sub culture b together. That's the holy grail.. constanty farming the bacteria instead of buying it all the time.

A "media" helps the bacteria establish a home. Even foam sponge works well.

You will also find that once heath growth is established with the subculture in the system, nutrient levels will not need to be as high to achive spectacular growth.

Just my two copper pennies!!!!... :-)

looks like I'll go pick that up today. Bleach sounds scary!

#7 Green-Nubie

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 07:51 AM

Kills the nasty off with out hurting plants ...and its cheaper than h202 and sm90..

#8 Stewedscrewed

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 10:30 AM

Kills the nasty off with out hurting plants ...and its cheaper than h202 and sm90..


So u recommend me just using bleach in a pinch, it will work and not hurt my girl?

#9 Green-Nubie

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 10:42 AM

So u recommend me just using bleach in a pinch, it will work and not hurt my girl?



there is allot out there to kill the bacteria . but the best iv found is bleach.. its cheap and it works -- start small "drops" to a gallon then work up if needed... Iv found 5ml to a gallon is about right for max killing effect.

sm-90 is a close second but costs allot more..kills off bugs to if used as a spray.

Edited by Green-Nubie, 07 September 2011 - 10:43 AM.


#10 Guest_Mr_Smith_*

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 02:39 PM

SM-90 is a great product. I would never use bleach in my system, I use only products that are designed for horticultural use. To each their own I guess.

#11 Nix

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 04:03 PM

Sounds like brown slime algae, not root rot or Pythium. The algae will lead to root rot if left untreated however. You can use h202 as a temporary fix. It will kill organic matter in your nutrient solution for about 24-48 hours. In no way is it a permanent fix. Using it in a spray bottle to spray the slime off your roots is best.

The only solution I've found for white or brown algae in my DWC is compost tea. It contains Aquashield so you might be ok just using that or something like Sub-B. The idea is get beneficial microbes in there to eat the algae. Mycorrhizae, like those found in Great White also work alone I prefer to brew them in tea.

#12 Stewedscrewed

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 04:06 PM

Sounds like brown slime algae, not root rot or Pythium. The algae will lead to root rot if left untreated however. You can use h202 as a temporary fix. It will kill organic matter in your nutrient solution for about 24-48 hours. In no way is it a permanent fix. Using it in a spray bottle to spray the slime off your roots is best.

The only solution I've found for white or brown algae in my

DWC is compost tea. It contains Aquashield so you might be ok just using that or something like Sub-B. The idea is get beneficial microbes in there to eat the algae. Mycorrhizae, like those found in Great White also work alone I prefer to brew them in tea.

Thanks for your response. I'm trying to find out my best option at this point. So every little thing helps.

#13 Guest_Mr_Smith_*

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 05:24 PM

Cyanobacteria, (aka brown slime algae) is actually mostly clear. It progresses over time and leads to pythium which is what leads to death in DWC. You appear to have pythium IMO. SM-90, H2o2, and Hygrozyme are the products that will help your situation.

#14 Nix

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 09:40 AM

Cyanobacteria, (aka brown slime algae) is actually mostly clear. It progresses over time and leads to pythium which is what leads to death in DWC. You appear to have pythium IMO. SM-90, H2o2, and Hygrozyme are the products that will help your situation.


The guy at my hydro store also recommended Hygrozyme, with disastrous results. Whatever Hygrozyme is, it's steroids for algae. After putting in the recommended amount and waiting for one day, I came back and had so much slime in my res that my pump was completely clogged.

Here was my solution and the only thing I have found that works.

I put bottle after bottle of H202 into my res and it did slow the slime down, killing most of what was in there. However you still have to physically scoop all that goo out. And after a day or so it came back. Putting H202 into the system regularly is not a good solution.

So just scoop out the slime and skip the H202. Drain the entire system. Scrape the slime off of all airstones, pumps, etc. If your roots are in really bad shape then move them to a new bucket and let them soak for 24 hours in a solution of water and H202 or water and Physan 20 fungicide. It's not necessary but running some clean water with H202 or bleach solution will help kill off what remains in the system. Refill the system, add nutes, ph down. Now it's time to brew some slime cure, aka compost tea.

Get a bucket (could be five gallons, could be fifty, up to you), fill it with water, add an airstone, and get those bubbles going. RO water is best but not necessary.

Use one handful (per gallon) of General Organics Ancient Forest. This stuff has 30,000+ strains of beneficial bacteria. Put this in a teabag of some kind. I use paper towel tied up in a bag. You can also just dump it in a bucket and strain it later. You could also combine some stuff from a local hardware store: you want earthworm castings and peat humus. If you only have earthworm castings, those will do.

Put in some Great White or other product that contains mycorrhizae, beneficial bacteria, and trichoderma. Mycorrhizae is a symbiotic fungi and that keeps crud off your roots. You could certainly just use this alone and see improvement.

Add about one capful of Aquashield (liquid compost).

Add a few drops of Molasses so the microbes have some food. For five gallons, I add about a teaspoon.

Let this brew for 48 hours then add it to your res. You can give about one cupful per gallon. Keep it in the fridge (it lasts 10 days) and keep adding a cup a day until it's gone. I can guarantee your plants will love it. There are other products you can use such as GH's Subculture B and M, but I don't have experience with them. The recipe above is fairly cheap considering what you get out of it. The microbes brewed in tea will be more numerous than if you just add the ingredients to your res. Do not add Ancient Forest to your DWC, that part you have to brew as a tea. Even if you are lucky enough to not have the slime curse you will get improved yields by adding compost tea.

Edited by Nix, 08 September 2011 - 11:57 AM.


#15 Stewedscrewed

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 11:12 AM

The guy at my hydro store also recommended Hygrozyme, with disastrous results. Whatever Hygrozyme is, it's steroids for algae. After putting in the recommended amount and waiting for one day, I came back and had so much slime in my res that my pump was completely clogged.

Here was my solution and the only thing I have found that works.

I put bottle after bottle of H202 into my res and it did slow the slime down, killing most of what was in there. However you still have to physically scoop all that goo out. And after a day or so it some back. Putting H202 into the system regularly is not a good solution.
So just scoop out the slime and skip the H202. Drain the entire system. Scrape the slime off of all airstones, pumps, etc. It's not necessary but running some clean water with H202 or bleach solution will help kill off what remains. Refill the system, add nutes, ph down. Now it's time to brew some slime cure, aka compost tea
Get a bucket (could be five gallons, could be fifty, up to you), fill it with water, add an airstone, and get those bubbles going. RO water is best but not necessary.

Use one handful (per gallon) of General Organics Ancient Forest. This stuff has 30,000+ strains of beneficial bacteria. Put this in a teabag of some kind. I use paper towel tied up in a bag. You can also just dump it in a bucket and strain i later. You could also combine some stuff from a local hardware store: you want earthworm castings and peat humas from a forest floor. If you only have earthworm castings, those will do.

Put in some Great White or other product that contains mycorrhizae, beneficial bacteria, and trichoderma. Mycorrhizae is a symbiotic fungi and that keeps crud off
your roots. You could certainly just use this alone and see improvement.

Add about one capful of Aquashield (liquid compost).
Add a few drops of Molasses so the microbes have some food. For five gallons, I add about a teaspoon.

Let this brew for 48 hours then add it to your res. You can give about one cupful per gallon. Keep it in the fridge (it lasts 10 days) and keep adding a cup a day until it's gone. I can guarantee your plants will love it. There are other products you can use such as GH's Subculture B and M, but I don't have experience with them. The recipe above is fairly cheap considering what you get out of it. The microbes brewed in tea will be more numerous than if you just add the ingredients to your res. Do not add Ancient Forest to your DWC, that part you have to brew as a tea. Even if you are lucky enough to not have the slime curse you will get improved yields by adding compost tea.

This sounds great. Thanks for your time




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