FAQs on Controlling Cyano/Blue-Green Algae
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Marine Aquarium Algae Control
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Black Algae/Cyano Control
Diatom/BGA question and polyp ID
My name is Chris, and I started my first marine reef tank this
past October (my 30th birthday present from my wife). All is
going fairly well, but I do have two questions. So first off, my
65g tank, containing about 36g Instant Oceans salt water premixed
with RO/DI at my local supplier, 20% weekly changes, 110LBS live
rock (mostly Fiji with a bit of Haiti), 60LBS CaribSea "live
sand" on top of 60LBS crushed coral/stone making a sandbed
ranging 4-6" deep (depending on flow). No sump (yet, will
add in new year)
Red Sea Berlin skimmer (rated to 250g) with Mag pump @550gph,
Eheim classic 2213 canister filled with Eheim Substrat Pro and LR
crumbles, floss on the intake replaced weekly, @116gph. Hydor
Koralia (pre-evolution) 850gph fan, Hydor Nano 240 gph fan,
MaxiJet 600 @160gph. Total flow in the tank is 1916gph.
Livestock 2 percula clowns, 2 cleaner shrimp, 2 blue-leg hermits,
1 stand-sifting star, 14 Astrea snails, 6 turbo snails, assorted
small dusters, hitch-hiker clams (rock boring I think), wormy
dudes. Small frag of Orange Polyps (will ask about these in a
Tank "cycled" if you could call it that remarkably
quickly. Like, I never actually saw an Ammonia spike. For three
days my Nitrites were "up" (1.0, 0.50, 0.25), but both
have been flat at zero since. Various and sundry people kept
telling me to wait, it would spike, but after four weeks I
figured I was safe and bought the clowns. They've been fine.
40 LBS of the live rock was uncured, but the other 70LBS was
bought out of two different established (I think both about 4
years old) hobbyist aquariums near-by.
One person said it was reasonable, because there is so much rock
and sand, that my cycle was likely just really really quick
I check Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, pH, SG and Phosphates 3 times
per week, and KH Ca once per week. Using API test kits.
Ammonia/Nitrite never budge off 0, Nitrate bounces between about
5-20ppm leading up to water-change day.
Phosphates go between 0-0.25ppm, but I'm told that's not
SG is nearly always pegged at 1.023, temp never seems beyond
KH stays around 13dKH, Ca at around 450ppm. Oh and pH is always
Lighting is a Marineland double strip LED (24x1watt diodes with
12 moonlights), one 50/50 Coralife t8 that came with the tank and
a 6500k PC.
I'm planning to move to all LED in the next year, before I
get into corals.
Lighting runs full for 12 hours, moonlights for 24 hours.
I've been feeding the clowns on flaked veggie food, three
times per day (which I thought was a lot, but was on advice from
place I bought them.
They eat vigorously every time, as do the shrimp (doing their
little back-stroke) is this too much?), and started feeding the
polyps 3x weekly using Kent Zooplankton (5ml per feeding,
obviously the shrimp and clowns get some too, despite feeding
directly. The polyps all close, so I assume they're
Okay, first question, I've attached a picture of the polyps.
They guy who I got them off of said they were Orange Star Polyps.
I'm not so sure. Best I've been able to find searching
here and online would be Orange Sun Polyps, but I'm not sold.
What do you think? Also, I've heard both sides, that they do
feed off photosynthesis and that they don't. What say you? Is
5ml zoo 3 times per week sufficient feeding?
<Zoanthids of some sort and feeding okay>
Second, I've had some algae, that I know isn't algae.
Different people have told me it's either Cyano or Diatoms.
I've looked at various pictures and can't decide,
there's some in the polyp pic, as well as in the other pic
I've attached. As you can see, it ranges from crimson red to
brown to grey/black. It definitely prefers areas of less flow, it
grows on both the glass and LR, but especially on LR where there
is healthy purple coraline algae. I generally siphon it off
during the water changes, but it keeps coming back. When I
thought it was diatoms, I assumed "just wait", but
it's been present now for about 6 weeks. Nothing eats it,
though the snails do push it away to eat under it, so it gets
dislodged. Is it diatoms and I just need to be patient, or BGA,
and I'm overfeeding (it's been present since before I got
livestock and started any feeding)? I'm also considering
putting an ounce or so of activated charcoal in a pouch in the
canister for a few weeks, might this help?
<Mmm, there are a few approaches to consider...>
Thanks so much for such a great resource!
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm
and the linked files above... What elements of what you
read/discern are at play here? Bob Fenner>
Re: Diatom/BGA question and polyp ID
A little follow-up: The polyps: Orange Zoanthids?
<Mmm, yes. Zoanthideans: http://wetwebmedia.com/zoanthid.htm
Re: Diatom/BGA question and polyp ID
Good Morning Bob (et al)
Thanks for the reply and the reference. Here's my plan of
- I'm going to add 3 tbsp activated carbon in a media bag to
<Mmm, I'd add a bunch more... likely a "unit"
(bag) of Chemipure or equivalent>
- I'm going to cut back feeding to twice daily
- I'm going to get a timer for my lights (up till now
it's been done by hand, but we're going away for the
weekend for new year's so I had to get to this anyways).
There's definitely been days when the photo period would have
been 14-16 hours if I was working late and forgot to switch them
off on time. Full lights will only be on for 12 hours. Moonlights
- I'm going to keep on siphoning off any that pops up
Thanks so much, I really appreciate how friendly and helpful you
<Welcome and please do consider the addition of a DSB in a
lighted refugium... macro-algal culture there, on a RDP light
regimen. Cheers! BobF>
Re: Diatom/BGA question and polyp ID, Cyano contr.
Okay, more Carbon! I'd read an article in the archive that
prescribed between 3 tbsp to 3 cups, and recommended starting at
the bottom and working up.
<Tis so... but I think you're ready for the "full
The refugium is in the works.
The plan (as it stands) is to have a custom sump, that has fairly
deep walls, with the refugium built into it, above the sump area.
Water will get pumped up into it, where it will hang out with
some nice deep sand (maybe mud?)
and macro, it will then overflow back down to the last baffle
(from where it came) and either get pumped back to the display or
recirculated through the refugium (depending on any disparity
between pump volumes).
<A great design... I do wish there was a commercial maker or
makers of such... By having the 'fuge above, much more
reduced flow can be metered, than all that is going through the
sump and its gear>
Ummmm, not sure how clear that is. I could draw a picture in
Photoshop, but I've got a holiday-crazy two year old on my
lap and things could get ugly.....
<I do think I understand you here>
Anyways, all the best to you and the crew and all your families
season! Many blessings for the new year.
<And to you and yours Chris. BobF>
We have a 85 gallon saltwater tank that has been doing very well for
about 2 years. Lately we have noticed some black algae coming on some
of the rocks. We have 2 powerheads and recently added a third. This
seemed to stop the problem for a bit but now it seems to be back, there
are a few dead spots but not totally. I have tried repositioning the
powerheads, and we do weekly tests, and water changes as well as
scraping the glass and vacuuming the gravel. The rocks are nice and
pink/purple, we have 2 Skunk
Clownfish, 4 Green Chromis Damsels ( one recently disappeared) , a Blue
Hippo Tang, 1 Mandarin, and a Dottyback. There is also some Leather
Coral, button polyps, star polyps, and mushrooms. Our tests are all
coming back within the normal ranges : calcium is anywhere between 380
and 420 , ammonia is usually 0 the odd time it is 0.1, nitrates are
usually between 20 and 50, nitrites, are normally 0 - 0.1. We also did
a silica test which came back at 0ppm. We did have a buttle
<Bubble> Tip Anemone, but about a week ago it just seemed to
disappear ...... not sure what to do and if the algae has anything to
do with the disappearance of the anemone or the fish ?? any suggestions
<The disappearance of the Bubble Tip Anemone and the Green Chromis
likely had something to do with you Cyano infestation as water
conditions would deteriorate with dead animals present. Suggest reading
James (Salty Dog)>
Algae question and maybe a few others
Hello to the crew of WWM and thank you in advance for taking the
time to read over and answer my questions. I'm hoping to
answer a few questions, plus get any helpful advise from your
team along the way.
First a bit of history, I purchased this tank back 2006 and it
was already about three years old and fully stocked with fish and
corals. While I had previously kept salt and fresh water fish
only tanks, corals were completely new to me. I'd like to
list all of the livestock and equipment I currently have, as some
has been lost, changed or upgraded over the years.
Oceanic 92 gallon corner tank, stand & canopy with two 120mm
Pro Clear Aquatics 175 wet/dry, sump
Mag-Drive 9.5, return pump
ASM G-1, skimmer
2 Hydor Koralia 3's, tank circulation
Coralife 24" Aqualight Pro with one Aqualine Buschke 10k 150
watt MH & two
Coralife 65 watt actinic PC's, lighting
Coralife 3x, UV sterilizer
Two Little Fishes Phosban 150, with Pura Phoslock and Kent reef
carbon, phosphate reactor
<...? Why all this HPO4 removing?>
1 Sailfin Tang (7")
1 Yellow Tang (4")
2 Maroon Clowns (4" and 3")
3 Blue Chromis (3")
1 Blue Damsel (2")
1 Engineer Goby (14")
1 Pink Starfish (5")
1 Bubble Coral
2 Heads Dendro Coral
1 Frog Spawn Coral
1 Green BTA Anemone
<And a good deal of BGA>
A mix of Purple Mushrooms, Yellow Polyps, Green Star Polyps,
Kenya Tree Coral, and Zoanthus
All of the fish are adult the corals are of mixed ages.
Two feeding of Omega One Marine Pellets (about 10 pinches, there
very small pellets)
Two feeding of Two Little Fishes Green Seaweed (3"x2"
I hand feed the Engineer Goby one Krill
I feed the Starfish one Kill 3-4 times a week
I feed the Dendro Coral small cut up pieces of Krill
I also feed the Anemone one Krill 2-3 times a week
All of the Krill is rinsed and soaked in Two Little Fishes Phyto
Water change of 30 gallons with Instant Oceans Reef Crystals and
store bought RO water (Windmill or Glacier water stations).
vacuumed from gravel.
Removal and replacement of filter pad in wet/dry.
Removal and replacement of Phoslock and Reef Carbon.
Test nitrates, phosphates, calcium, salinity, ph and kH.
Average test results:
Nitrates 10 PPM
Phosphates .5 PPM
Calcium 460 PPM
KH 214.8 PPM (sometimes higher)
Nitrite and Ammonia always test zero
Clean pumps, skimmer, and sump
Treat for Aiptasia with Aiptasia-X
Change all bulbs
This maintenance list is really for the last year, prior to that
it was not as good.
As I have a small group of questions I figured I'd just list
In between water changes I always get very fine bright green
algae on the glass, even after cleaning its back within 48 hours.
Is there anything I can do to reduce this?
<Mmm, yes... directly... raise your RedOx... indirectly switch
replace some of your live rock (should be done annually... see
WWM re), add a DSB in a tied in refugium/sump... with a RDP
lighting regimen and useful macroalgal culture... Mmmm. Get a
much larger system...>
I also have a very dark red/brown algae
that covers some of my rocks, it even over grows the small amount
of coralline algae I have. It grows in high light areas and oddly
enough it has grown more since my water parameters have improved
(mainly the phosphates dropping). Is there anything I can do to
reduce this algae and promote the coralline algae?
<The photo attached is almost certainly BGA... is it soft to
the touch? Peals off when pinched?>
I believe my water changes of 30 gallons a week are causing the
tank to have a small cycle. Could this be, and how harmful is
<Well, you don't want to have so much change period that
cycling is interrupted...>
I'm in the process and strongly considering some new changes
to the tank.
I'm looking to have a sump/refugium custom built to allow for
the most volume I can fit in my cabinet.
It will add a real 10 gallons of water volume to my system,
giving me a spot for a five gallon refugium. Good/Bad idea?
<Well, the bigger the better...>
I'm also looking to add a larger skimmer with the new space
in the sump.
Currently I'm looking at the CoralVue SRO-2000 INT Good/Bad
<These are good units IMO>
Strongly considering the Red Sea Wavemaster, and using airline
tubing on my Koralias to keep them from clicking when the pump
cycle on and off. As well has upgrading the ballast and sockets
to support a 250 watt metal halide in place of the 150 watt.
The main reason for the upgrades is because I would like to start
adding some SPS to the top portion of my tank. I actually added a
small Pocillopora about 3 weeks ago and so far so good. All the
upgrades would be in stages mainly to cut down on the upfront
cost. First would be the sump/refugium, second the skimmer, third
the Wavemaker, and lastly the 250 watt metal halide.
<Sounds good. Is the order I'd do them>
I've also recently been learning about algae scrubbers.
I'm curious if this could be any help to my system. If there
<they're> what I believe them to be, my small 30 gallon
tank my have a naturally occurring one. As my HOB filter is under
my T5's it always grows thick green algae on the two 1"x
4" lips of the return. And the test parameters of that tank
are always perfect of course there's only one Damsel and
Hermit Crab in that tank. If
this would be any help in my 92 gallon tank I could add a small
2'x15.5' lip to the wall going to the refugium. Worth the
effort, or not the same thing?
<I would go w/ the rest of your plans first>
I would love to have your thoughts on these things or anything
else that you may help me with from the information I provided.
And thanks again for your time.
<You'd do well to learn to use the search tool and indices
on WWM. Thank you for sharing, and do send along specific
questions, and your follow-up input as your plans progress. Bob
Re: Algae question and
maybe a few others. BGA cont., Reef op. f's
Thank you, I really wasn't expecting such a quick reply.
Although I do appreciate your timely response.
<Ahh! In action, watch the timing... a resounding/repeating
theme in human cognitive history/writing>
A few of your questions and mine could have been answered if I
would have given a better history rather than just a current
<You show/display wisdom.... wish I did!>
When I first purchased this tank the previous owner had a list of
problems and failures. And even though I knew little to nothing
about Corals, for the price they were asking ($600.00 for Tank,
Stand, Sump, Light, UV Sterilizer, Skimmer, Return Pump, Live
Stock and Accessories) I felt I couldn't pass it up. At first
I felt that my experience keeping Fresh and Saltwater Fish for
years before would help in my success with Corals, and the rest I
could learn along the way. This was not so much the case, there
were things I never even thought of. The problems I noticed and
fixed right off were more equipment related.
The owner had cut a huge hole at the top of the over flow box to
allow them to put the U drain pipe in the main tank. This also
put uneven pressure on the rubber seal along the bottom of the
drain pipe, causing a small constant drip.
The Skimmer body had been cut or drilled out to allow for a
<?! Not smart>
However it was done so badly and without any type of gasket, that
just as much water leaked out has went in. I noticed these issues
right off and fixed all of them. The Skimmer was replaced with
the ASM G1.
What I didn't realize was how over stocked the tank was, or
how big the fish that were in the tank would become. And how
under sized my new Skimmer was going to be for it's future
job. In addition to the 9 fish I listed in my current setup,
there were originally 7 more. Including 1 Chromis, 2 Yellow
Wrasse, 1 Red Coris Wrasse,
<Gets quite large, rambunctious>
1 Scooter Goby, and 2 Blue Devil Damsel. There were also 3 BTAs,
2 Tube Anemone,
1 Green Flower Pot Coral, 1 Bubble Coral, 1 Flame Scallop, 1
Feather Duster, 1 Star Fish, and another Star Fish I found dead
in the overflow box that the owner had mentioned went missing, 2
Porcelain Crabs, and 1 Banded Coral Shrimp. Out of the
Coral/Invertebrates I only have the Bubble Coral and Star Fish
left. The Flame Scallop and Green Flower Pot slowly died off,
<Very typical, par for this course>
one of the BTA's did not make the move, the other two died
after 2 to 3 years, the Star Fish ate the Feather Duster, and I
donated the Tube Anemone's to my LFS after reading about them
in your book. Of the fish, 1 Yellow Wrasse Jumped out of the
tank, the other was bullied to death by the Maroon Clowns,
1 Chromis died from starvation, (he just stopped taking food,
even live Brine Shrimp).
<Very social animals...>
And the Scooter Goby died of starvation too during a bad out
break of Aiptasia (he couldn't even move over the rocks to
eat Copepods, without getting stun by the Aiptasia, and he
eventually stopped taking Live Brine Shrimp). The 2 Porcelain
Crabs and Banded Coral Shrimp were eaten by the Red Coris
That's a sad thing, to admit all of that, I feel as if I
failed them, after all they were in my care. I also donated the
Red Coris Wrasse and the 2 Blue Devil Damsels to my LFS as well.
In addition to the heavy bio load the tank had no water movement,
besides the return line. I also noticed that the return line
first went through the UV Sterilizer reducing it's flow and
making the UV Sterilizer
pointless. I rerouted all of this with a new Maxi Jet 1200 and
ball valve to run UV Sterilizer and Phosphate Reactor. And of
course the Mag Drive 9.5 is only a return feed pump. The tank
also had a huge amount of Bristle Worms. These were killed off
during a radical treatment for the Aiptasia.
After losing the Scooter Goby to the Aiptasia, (one of my
favorite fish in the whole tank). I removed all of the Live Rock
and put it in a 35 gallon container with fresh mixed saltwater
and a 800 gph pump, covered the container and left it outside in
the sun for a week. Monitored temp which was in the high 90's
almost 100's and changed out the water as needed. The high
temp killed everything, Aiptasia, Bristles Worms, Algae, and
I'm sure a good amount of my Beneficial Bacteria. After this
I went through the cook process, keeping the rock at a temp of 78
to 79 degrees with water movement and changed the water as
needed, until everything was well cycled and safe to put back in
the tank, about a month total time. The rocks that had large
growth of Polyps and the Bubble Coral went into a 10 gallon QT
tank and were treated for Aiptasia as well as the addition of
some Peppermint Shrimp. This was all during the same time the
live rock was being treated outside, the fish stayed in the tank,
with make shift PVC housing during this process. While I killed
every Aiptasia on the live rock and in the tank, I know I had to
miss a few on the rock I kept in the QT tank. I still treat with
Aiptasia X for these guys once a month, however there are very
few, and they don't seem to spread. My understanding is that
a heavy nutrient rich tank, higher heat (was at 82 at one point,
now a constant 76 to 78) and low water flow, basically gave them
a perfect breeding ground and they started to reproduce
asexually, which is what caused the out break of literally
hundreds in the tank.
Now I probably treat about 20 a month. Another problem I had
after this was high Nitrates, even with weekly maintenance the
heavy bio load was causing me to see deep red in all my Nitrate
test. During the beginning of 09 I finally got these under
control, and tested 20PPM on average, sometimes higher. Although
I still was seeing Algae, It never dawned on me to check
Phosphate. The first test for Phosphate turned dark blue
instantly. I changed to RO water and over time saw them drop to
<Still way too high>
I could never get below this mark though. I read a lot on your
site about Phosphate Reservoirs and saw that while I was on the
right track, it was going to take time, as everything in this
hobby. I then added the Phosphate Reactor, and saw a drop to 1PPM
by the beginning of this year.
During a desire to re aquascape and maybe eliminate the Phosphate
Reservoirs, I again broke the tank down, but no where near as
severe before. I simply set up a few buckets of fresh RO water
and a large 35 gallon tub of fresh saltwater. Pulled the rocks
out one by one, dipped in the fresh water and shook them clean
before placing them in the 35 gallon bin of saltwater. Once done,
I thoroughly vacuumed the Crushed Coral
<You might switch this out for sand...>
in the tank, changing out a total of 70 gallons. The Phosphates
instantly dropped to .5 PPM and have never risen above that, and
recently have been at .25 PPM. All this was done about 4 months
back. The reason I'm doing the upgrades I mentioned is so I
can feed my fish a bit more and support SPS, my Sailfins lost a
bit of weight, nothing scary but I don't like seeing weight
loss in any of my fish. It's mainly because I stopped using
the Large Shrimp Pellets from Omega One, do to the fact it's
a Shrimp based food and the whole Phosphate thing. I'm going
to see how the levels do by putting him back on the larger
pellets rather then the small ones he and the other fish eat.
Either way I'll still be feeding far less than I used too.
Suggestions on a good dry food of larger size would be greatly
<Oh, Spectrum brand by a very long shot:
Wow, that was a lot. I don't think I listed all of it before
because I was afraid of length and embarrassed about some of it
I really do feel bad that some of my live stock has died do to
poor care and naivety. I've learned a lot over the years, and
yes I do read your site quite often. I find it very informative,
most of the things that have me on the right track now are do to
your site and book. I put the email together with a few questions
I found some answers to on your site, but felt that since
everyone's tanks just a bit different I'd still ask for
your advise. I'm glad I have and appreciate all the help.
In answer to your question about Magnesium, I have no idea
I've never had it tested.
<I definitely would>
I was under the assumption that if Calcium, Alkalinity and PH
were in line, them Magnesium should be okay.
<Not the case, no>
Considering that you asked, I'm guessing I'm wrong and
should be concerned about this?
<Yes... if out of proportion, all else to do w/ alkalinity and
biomineral content will be mal-affected:
And seeing the Algae with the low Phosphate and Nitrates is
surprising to me too. Any Ideas?
<All sorts... again, the substrate switch out... the addition
of a good-sized refugium, RDP lighting, macro-algae culture... if
you'd like an ozonizer, perhaps a dryer...>
(light cycle 10hrs PC's and 8hrs MH)
The Dark Red Algae does not come off. I've never tried to
peel it off, however I did try to use a stiff nylon brush on it
and nothing. The top is some what soft and my Tangs do eat it if
<Is indicative of a bad situation sorry to state... And can be
used (through its diminution) as a gauge of improvement in your
The new Sump/Refugium is the largest I can fit, with out making
it a two piece unit, and even then I might only be able to add 5
<No chance for one elsewhere? In another room/closet,
Current design is 26"x16"x16" with a
8.5"x15.5"x9" for the Refugium.
I'm planning on having 3" of Live Sand and Chaeto Algae.
With a 12 watt PC 6500k or 10000k, I currently have a 50/50 bulb
in this size, but I didn't know how well it would work. I do
plan on running the lighting opposite cycle of my main tank
lights. Honestly I read a lot over Refugium design on your site,
I'm just limited to space.
Oh and in the main tank I do have 3" to 3 1/2" inches
of fine crushed coral, it's just not under the Live Rock, the
Goby Engineer keeps that area completely free of Crushed
<Again... I'd switch to sand for sure: Sara's new pc.
and the linked files above>
I'd personally like to know if there's a way to avoid
changing out some of the Live Rock yearly, I've read about
this before on your site. However I'm not big on the idea of
the cost or wasting Live Rock. Are there any ways around
<A good deal of it "melts down" and you don't
need to change/add much... 10% in larger systems will do>
I'm going to have to read about RedOx, this is new to me. Is
it something that could be causing my Algae growth?
<Mmm, more like "allowing it"... is an aspect of
From what I had a chance to skim over, it sounds like my new
Refugium and Skimmer will raise it?
Which is good?
But either way sounds like I need to have it tested to know the
<Indeed you are correct>
I also don't' do or know much about Ozone. I'm
guessing this should be on my list of things to read up on
<Heeeee! But of course>
Thanks again for all your help and I will keep you posted on how
things are going. I'm having the Sump built this week, next
month the new Skimmer.
<Thank you for sharing Mark. BobF>
Another Cyano Question BGA in a
29 gallon. 7/25/2010
Thank you for reading this,
<Hi, no problem.>
I know it's another Cyano question. I've looked at the archives
here and have also been searching online for weeks now and am
overwhelmed with conflicting advice. Here's what I've got -
29G Biocube started 12/09, cycled for three mos. with live
Everything is stock - I haven't changed anything. Added pair of
Ocellaris Clownfish in March. Developed free floating green algae a
month later after leaving for a week and letting pet-sitter watch (even
though I put food in
separate food containers!).
<Yeah, that happens.>
Tried to get rid of that with water changes for a month, then got the
Biocube UV filter which cleared it up within days. At that time I was
running activated carbon (after taking out the Biocube filter) in the
LFS told me to stop using carbon after a month so I wasn't running
any chemical filtration. Have a Polyfilter above the bio-balls.
<The bio-balls may be contributing here - they make lots of
Everything looked good so started adding animals every other week. I
Pair of Ocellaris Clownfish
Yellow Watchman Goby
Fighting Conch <Will starve in this setting unless deliberately
9 Cerith snails
6 Super Tongan Nassarius snails
3 Trochus snails
3 Red legged hermits
1 Emerald crab
3 Button Polyps
<A bit overstocked.>
I've had Cyano for about two months now. When it first appeared,
LFS said it's a natural part of cycling - needless to say, now
it's really happy in my tank covering my sand, rocks. Am worried
about my animals. I had stopped all additives to the tank including
Roti Feast and Calcium/Buffer, and am feeding every other day just some
Mysis shrimp. My parameters are calcium = 400, Nitrate = 0 (or very
very close I know there must be some), PO4 = .1, Nitrite = 0, Alk =
300, PH = 8.4.
<There is the trap. You are reading 0 nitrate, so what nitrate that
is being produced is being consumed.>
I don't have a refugium - so no macroalgae. My LFS said to stop
water changes and stop feeding for a week. I put in a phosphate sponge
thinking there has to be something feeding this stuff. I also put back
in activated carbon (both 4 days ago). LFS keeps telling me I need to
use ChemiClean. I just read Robert Fenner's book and realize
I've made a lot of mistakes (should have read before getting the
29G I know!) I'm stumped at this point
and am afraid for my animals -either because of the Cyano or not
feeding them enough. My corals actually look better than I've ever
seen them - fully extended, the brain is like this undulating mass of
green and red and is beautiful - button polyps are reaching up - Xenia
is practically climbing out of the tank. Should I just be patient??
I've given up on my LFS advice. Thank you if you can help me figure
this out. Obviously I'm new to the hobby.
<A few things I can think of off the top of my head. You do not
mention if you have a protein skimmer. If you don't have one, do
get one. You are likely to be amazed at the 'stuff' that comes
out of the water. Secondly,.
regular water changes are a necessity 15 - 20% per week goes a long way
to keeping your tank looking nice. Lastly, You don't mention your
lighting. Suck out as much of the red slime as you can during your
and try keeping the lights off for a couple of days. You can also
reduce the number of hours you keep your tank lit.>
Re High pH And Tons Of Hair
Algae/Lacking Useful Info/Now Toxins/Now Anemone Health/Now BGA
Thought I would give an update in case you have any insight.
As a reminder, I am the poor soul who has the hair algae that wont go
away and had the seemingly toxic tank that had a pH spike, causing me
to move my anemone into a bucket for 2 weeks.
<I do remember you.>
The tank's levels have stabilized. Ammonia, nitrates, nitrites,
phosphates (Salifert test) are all 0.
<Sounds very good.>
The only level that was not normal was my calcium which was at 300.
<And do not forget the all important magnesium.>
I've been dosing Tropic Marin's Calcium powder the last 2 days
to start getting it back up to 400. This is a 6yr old tank with new
bulbs and freshly replaced filters in the RO/DI unit. If you remember,
it's recovering from a pH spike that wiped out almost everything in
the tank except a shrimp, scooter, some star polyps, and the LTA. The
current problem is still the hair algae. It grows VERY fast in spite of
buying 10 Turbos and 2 urchins.
<Will take some time here. May want to reduce your photoperiod to
7-8 hours until things get back under control.>
They, a few hermits, and several small emerald crabs cant seem to keep
up. My TDS meter reads 0 on the RODI unit that I use so the fresh water
SHOULD be ok. I do 10-20 gallon water changes at least once a week,
usually scrubbing hair off of what I can.
The other day, I noticed a black substance in my gravel. Note the
<<... where is this? RMF>>
What is that?! Could that be a clue to the poor conditions that
allow this hair to grow?
<Appears to be Cyanobacteria which thrives in systems with poor
water circulation/filtration and an excess of inorganic and organic
compounds. If you are using any liquid food and/or dry powder type
supplements, discontinue their use now. Your total water flow should be
somewhere near 10 times your tank volume, and more importantly, adjust
flow direction from powerheads and returns so that no stagnant areas
exist and do continue the use of Chemipure. If filter pads/socks
are used, do clean/change weekly. Have a look here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm>
Almost defeated in NYC
<No such word in this hobby, perseverance will win here. James
SERIOUS problem - help
requested. BGA controls 2/22/10
Some tank info for help:
Age: 5.5 months
55 Gallon wide
Small Refugium (made from an HOT AquaClear 70 Power filter) with
65 lbs. LR (43 pounds currently in curing stage for ~108 total pounds
Jebo 304 canister with 2 fine pads, 1 course pad, ceramic Bio-rings,
one pouch of Chemi-Pure Elite (under a fine pad) Nitrate pad (with ~3
lbs charcoal in bags) and 1 4x6 PolyFilter Pad.
<Mmm, a lot of chemical filtrant>
AquaTech 40-60 HOT Power filters with bio screens. Media is a simple
filter media with Activated Charcoal in both.
AquaC Remora Skimmer (added 3 weeks ago)
Hydor-Koralia 3 power heads (x2)
Last H2O change was 18 Feb. 10 and was ~12 gallons (includes canister
Lighting: AquaticLife T5 HO (216w total (less Moon LED wattage and
added 19 Feb. 2010))
Substrate: ~ 1-1.5 inches of Aragonite
Ocellaris Clown (x1)
McCosker's Flasher Wrasse (x4 males)
<Not much space for these>
Mexican Turbo Snail (x2)
Nassarius Snail (x4)
Porcelain Anemone Crab (x1)
Bubble Tip Anemone (x1)
Small Zoanthus colony
Small Star Polyp Frag
Small Trumpet Frag (x2)
Mushroom frag /w 2 green stripped mushrooms
Testing done 02-21-2010 (all done with API test kits)
pH (high): 8.0
OK, now to my issue. Let me preface by stating I have read and read
both here and other places for information and have implemented
everything I can to that is suggested.
In 3 words - Red Hair (slime) Algae
WHAT I HAVE DONE THUS FAR
I have cycled my TAP water out with pure RO water over a period of 2
months so all water should now be RO water.
<Mmm, less tap-effect all the time>
Water was tested prior to adding to tank with everything showing 0ppm
except phosphates which is very minimal... unless I am reading that
test being pessimistic, it is almost non readable.
I am feeding tank VERY VERY lightly to the point I truly do not feel my
livestock is getting enough, though they all seem to be doing ok with
the only exception being the color of the Ocellaris becoming fairly
dark, not the brilliant orange as before. The Wrasses seem to be
maintaining their color.
The bubble-Tip initially had a difficult time adjusting to its new
home, but once the Anemone Crab found it (2 weeks later) and now
resides there, the bubble-tip NOW seems very happy. It moved a time or
two from the front to the rear then from the rear to now the front
middle depth of the tank where it is seems to like and has remained now
for a few weeks. The Anemone gets feed 2-3 times per week primarily
with Silverside and the occasional Marine Cuisine. I just purchased
Selcon to soak the silverside in prior to feeding the Anemone (probably
tonight 1st time).
The Anemone crab has molted its shell within the last few days (not
sure exactly when as I saw the discarded shell while doing partial H2O
<Leave such castings/shells/moltings in place... they are ingested,
reincorporated into the new exoskeletons>
It has become a daily chore to remove as much of the red slime as I can
and it is fairly significant. Only to find it returning just as heavily
as the day prior. Most all open bed area is red with slime with
stringers. It is now just starting to spread on some of the small
pieces of rubble rock lying on the substrate. The AquaC seems to be
working fine, yet not too much is coming out of the water, which, I
must assume, tells me there is not much in the water to remove.
I broke down the Canister last weekend and cleaned everything inside
and outside to include the massive build-up in the in/out hoses. Doing
this alone significantly reduced Nitrates in the water. Was running 20+
every day when tested until this was done and in one day alone dropped
it to 10 where it now remains constant.
I also thoroughly cleaned the Skimmer a few days ago (did not want to
do all heavy cleaning one day to prevent massive loss of beneficial
Both HOT filters have their filters changed about once every 2 weeks
with a rinsing once per week on the opposite week of replacement.
I absolutely understand over-feeding is the primary reason for red
algae. I have dropped feeding to once per day and very minimal when I
do. Any frozen food I feed is rinsed in my shrimp net a few minutes, to
thoroughly thaw and rinse to remove any nutrient rich water caused by
the thawing. If feeding flakes, only 3-4 flakes are introduced and I
allow the fish to decide who wins. The ones still hungry must forage
through the live rock for supplemental feeding. I was putting in
PhytoPlankton for the corals and anemone crab but have ceased doing
that for 3 weeks now to assist in dropping Nitrates. I am using Seachem
Marine Buffer to keep pH steady as if not used will fall back to 8.0
and sometimes lower. I do dose Purple-Up to keep Calcium levels up to
at least 380.
<I would use other product/s>
I did try to use UltraLife Red Slime Remover
once and it caused such a problem by killing off not only the red algae
but everything else (bacteria) and just blossomed my Ammonia and
Nitrites to dangerous levels. I hesitate to try that again as I do not
want to babysit my tank for 24+ hours again doing water changes every
That was not fun! I feared my bubble-tip especially as well as the
corals and fish being unduly stressed.
Questions: Will using Selcon on the Silverside aggravate the
<No, it will not>
Is it advisable to put Selcon on the flakes prior to
<Not really, no>
What in heaven's name can I do now that I am missing to get rid of
this slime problem?
<A few things... Increase the sand bed depth (make a DSB in your
system), switch out the Caulerpa for more appropriate algal genera,
Chaetomorpha of Gracilaria spp., add an ozonizer to increase your ORP,
boost your pH temporarily, likely with Kalk to precipitate out
nutrients at one go...>
I am out of ideas and desperate to get this out of my tank. Please
<Oh, I've got quite a few more. Read here:
and the linked files above>
Marine Tank newbie, Marine lover always.
<Be chatting, Bob Fenner>
Opinion and Help
Requested'¦Cyano Troubles -- 01/13/10
I am in a bit of a dilemma. I am having a major red slime outbreak to
the point of it becoming an epidemic.
<<Not uncommon'¦and have been there myself. It can be
dealt with'¦but will take some time/patience>>
My substrate is turning maroon and growing hair.
To the point it is actually trapping gases (o2, nitrogen??) under
Some tank info:
55 Gallon wide
Small Refugium (made from an HOT AquaClear 70 Power filter) with
macroalgae (recently added x2 weeks ago). 40 lbs. LR (more to be
steadily added as budget allows) Jebo 304 canister with 2 Eheim fine
pads, Eheim sponge (coarse) pad, ceramic Bio-rings and 2 bags of
activated charcoal (one under each fine pad).
<<I would remove the pads, sponge, and bio rings (at least for
now'¦are trapping detritus) and fill the canister with cut-up
Poly-Filter, or maybe a cup or so of an iron-based Phosphate remover.
It has been my experience that limiting/reducing 'excessive'
Phosphate goes a long way to winning the battle against Cyanobacteria
AquaTech 40-60 HOT Power filters with bio screens. Media is a simple
filter media with Activated Charcoal in both.
<<Do be sure to rinse or exchange the filter media at least
weekly to reduce detritus accumulation>>
Red Sea Prizm Skimmer.
Last H2O change was 12 Jan. 10 and was ~13 gallons. Lighting: T5 HO x2
(one 54w Actinic / one 54w 6700K Life-Glo) (Both bulbs just replaced x6
days ago, major improvement).
Ocellaris Clown (x1)
McCosker's Flasher Wrasse (x2 males)
Mexican Turbo snail (x2)
Nassarius Snails (x2)
Porcelain Anemone Crab (x1)
Small Zoanthid colony
Small Star Polyp frag
Various hitchhikers to include spaghetti worms, feather dusters (x3
that I know of).
Latest testing (all done with API test kits):
<<Should be '0'>>
<<With sessile inverts present this is best kept below
<<A major factor here'¦should be less than
pH (high): 8.1
<<Yeeikes'¦say it isn't so! Do check your test kit
for accuracy'¦this should be in the 8-12 range,
I just vacuumed my gravel so I stirred the tank pretty good, thus why I
believe I see elevated Ammonia and Nitrate.
<<Maybe, but still'¦>>
Ammonia normally 0ppm and Nitrate are normally 20ppm (which is still
too high in my opinion).
All livestock appears to be unaffected at moment. So to my problem and
opinion request. I cannot get my Phosphates, dKH or Nitrates down.
<<Look to your source water>>
All water is in my make-up tank at least 7 days before adding to
display tank. Unfortunately I am forced to use tap water until I can
purchase a RO unit.
I tested the tap water straight from tap and the nitrates test out at
10ppm and dKH: 17.9 (lowest scale on color chart), and Phosphates:
<<Yowza, certainly a problem here'¦and no doubt a huge
contributor to your present predicament>>
Today, while doing my weekly water change I replaced the filter media
in the canister, and HOT filters. I actually broke down the canister
and washed my ceramic bio media with fresh water to clean them. I
thoroughly rinsed both carbon bags. I rinsed both ceramics and carbon
bags for some period of time.
<<The carbon is 'used up' very quickly and should be
changed on a bi-weekly schedule'¦or even weekly if
I completely cleaned the canister.
<<These filters should be cleaned weekly to prevent the
accumulation of decaying detritus'¦something very important to
your battle with the Cyano>>
I also broke down the skimmer and thoroughly cleaned it. I am feeding
only 2 times a day now to try and decrease nutrients.
<<That's fine'¦as long as it is not to the detriment
of the livestock>>
I rinse all frozen food in freshwater during thaw to prevent thawed
nutrient rich water from entering tank.
<<Hmm'¦considering the state of your tap water, this may
I am not sure of any other steps I can take at this time to reduce
nutrients. Still my algae continue to bloom. Even after stirring the
sand, vacuuming it, etc.
<<I would simply vacuum the slime from the substrate without
stirring, for now>>
I now notice 3 hours later the red slime is growing/reappearing again
on the substrate.
My request for opinion: I know this Prism skimmer just is not cutting
the mustard. It does produce but hardly anything in two days. I get
black/green stuff but not near what I expect it to produce. Based on
everything I have read on WWM I should be getting anywhere from 1/2 to
a full cup of junk out of the skimmer at least every other day. I get
nowhere near that.
<<This is a subjective measurement based. In a lightly stocked
tank such as yours, skimmate production may well be less. Though I do
agree that a better skimmer would be of benefit>>
If I try and run the skimmer wide open I get a huge amount of micro
bubbles. So I am going to purchase a new skimmer. My question is would
you purchase the Bak Pak 2 or the AquaC skimmer if you were buying?
<<Some folks like the Bak Pak skimmers. But I feel the AquaC is a
better design, and it has excellent customer support should you need
The Bak Pak is a bit cheaper but I do not want to regret purchasing a
cheaper skimmer if it will not meet the demand.
<<For the few dollars difference'¦the AquaC for
How much time should I leave my lights on per day?
<<Something around a normal 'Tropical' schedule of
Also, what else, if anything, can I do to reduce the dKH, Phosphates,
<<I fear until you resolve your source water issue you are not
going to beat this. Something you can try until you get that RO unit
would be to run a canister filter filled with cut-up Poly-Filter on the
container used for your water storage. I used to do this back in the
late eighties/early nineties when I was living in the UK. The
Poly-Filter, while not as cost effective in the long term as an RO
unit, will give you a short-term solution for removing the Phosphate,
Nitrate, et al from your source water>>
I am in desperation mode right now trying to gain control of this
<<There's no magic bullet'¦but it can be beat. Keep
up the filter maintenance and manual removal of the slime, and take
some measures to improve the quality of your source water>>
I have read about every page on WWM related to nutrients, algae,
lighting. There is a ton of stuff there and have incorporated as much
as I can.
<<No doubt'¦but cleaning up your source water is key
Thanks a million in advance.
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
(Another) Cyanobacteria Battle
<Hey Angela! JustinN here!>
The biggest "thanks" for helping so much in the past. The
website as well as your amazing advice has saved me many times (not to
mention all the $$$ saved!).
<Glad to have helped.>
I've been researching red slime algae (Cyanobacteria) due to an
outbreak in my tank. I just wanted to double check that I've taking
the right route.
Here is what I have done to combat the problem:
1) Manual extraction. I siphon the gravel and rocks and in the process
change about 5 gallons of water per day (RO).
<Good -- if you wish to increase the removal rate, while not having
to increase the water change amount, you can also attach a filter sock
to the end of a substrate vacuum, and redirect the flow from the vacuum
into your sump (if applicable, obviously.). This will allow you to suck
out more of the Cyano, without running all the water to waste.>
2) Increase circulation. I have added additional powerheads, some
oscillating, pointed at substrate.
3) Add chemical filtration. I've added additional carbon (changed
weekly) as well as phosphate remover.
<I would try a more purposeful chemical filtration than the carbon,
personally -- PolyMarineBio's Poly-Filter is a personal favorite.
Should be a good addition to the phosphate remover.>
4) Increased performance of skimmer
5) Will be changing lighting (HQI 14K Halides in the mail as we
<The actual efficacy of changing bulbs, and old bulbs affect on
growth of nuisance algaes, is a hotly debated topic -- but doubtful
that this will hurt in any way.>
6) Will be adding live rock after quarantine (on the 2nd week)
Do you have any other suggestions as to what I should be doing?
<This sounds about right from a 'curing the plague'
standpoint -- keep in mind that this is one of the most invasive and
prevalent bacterial species in the history of this planet, and your
chances of total, 100% victory are next-to-nil... It is extremely
adaptable, and will likely always be present in some small
quantities... usually controlled to an overflow, or sump.>
I'm sure that this is a "this too shall pass" issue but
it really is stressful.
Any estimate on how long the problem will last?
<Depends -- how old is your tank? If your tank is under 6 months
old, this may just be a portion of the natural cycle of growth in a new
aquarium -- not uncommon for a 'phase' of cyanoBACTERIA to
occur 3-5 months into the tanks life. It is often referred to as
'New Tank Syndrome'.>
Lastly, would you recommend adding my live rock now, or should I wait
until the Cyano is eliminated?
<Is the rock fully cured, and do you have livestock already in place
in the tank? If no livestock, and the rock has been nitrogen-cycled, I
<I would look at bumping this to the 1.026 range -- most, if not
all, marine creatures prefer a salinity at this level.>
Nitrate- about 0
Temp. 78 Degrees F
<The rest of this looks good... Keep up the due diligence, you will
get the upper hand. Good luck! -JustinN>
Some weird growth 1/4/2010
The above image is of something that is growing on EVERY surface
in my tank. It is white/brown in color. It's what looks like
grass growing on the overflow in the picture. It's growing
everywhere and I feel it's having a negative effect in my
<Can... is mainly a type of algae... Though it doesn't
look like it, probably a Cyanobacteria (only can be discerned by
microscopic examination of distinctive cell structure)... Best to
"fight" on as many "fronts" as you can
devise/employ... see below>
Some softies like a toadstool and Zoanthids have some growth on
them, not much, but I feel it's impacting them
Also, I think it is outcompeting with other algae's that my
Lawnmower Blenny feeds on because since this has
come about it has had a pinched stomach.
<Won't eat this material>
What is this and how can I remove it?
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Macroalgae vs. BGA...which will
<And Gals. What's up Joshua?>
I have a 90 gal salt tank with two Aqua-C Remora skimmers, live rock,
several corals, T-5 lighting (sorry, I am not there and can't tell
you wattage but I know it is more than 3 watts per gallon), two
powerheads (which I have already been informed that the flow is ok, not
great but ok from past emails) a blue tang, a yellow tang, clownfish,
and a Royal Gramma. Everyone has been living together peacefully for
more than a year but I have never been able to get rid of my BGA.
<What have you tried? What source issues do you imagine
I have spent so much money on water changes (10 gal a week of RO/DI)
and siphoning out of BGA, that I haven't been able to invest in
I have stopped feeding frozen Mysis to my fish, with the exception of
once every other week as I have lots of amphipods growing and
reproducing, in order to (at least temporarily) see if that was why the
BGA wouldn't go away. It didn't change at all. All my tests
show zero on nitrates, ammonia, phosphates etc..because of the BGA
<Very likely so>
The only thing I am feeding is dried sushi seaweed from Wal-Mart twice
a week, for my tangs, after which I remove the excess within 24 hours.
I am at a loss. SO, I was given a 50-gallon tank which I am working at
turning into a refugium underneath the main tank, and was HOPING that
by adding a nice amount of Chaetomorpha it might solve the excess
Think it will work? Or will the BGA out compete the Chaeto?
<Depends on a few factors, but if conditions favour the
Ultimately I would like to have a nice looking refugium,
<I'd install this ASAP, with a DSB, fine sand of depth, RDP
light set up...>
and I would prefer a macroalgae that would be a great nutrient
exporter, that wouldn't float around and doesn't require
calcium (I have a hard enough time keeping it balanced lol).
<This is aiding the BGA as well. Solve this issue>
Would sea lettuce be better or maybe turtle grass??
<In general, no>
I am so burnt out on trying to solve this issue that this is my last
desperate effort to get this thing balanced.
<Read... Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm
and the linked files above... Make a plan... the 'fuge and its
contents, plumbing, pump... and act on this out of understanding. Bob
Thanks for all your help,
Re: Macroalgae vs. BGA...which
will win? 12/20/09
Thanks Bob! I have read a lot about the BGA on your site, and the only
sources of nutrient input I can think of is the sea weed
<Mmm, not so fast... what re source water? The hard substrates
(gravel, sand, rock, biomineralized basis of livestock...) in your
but I don't leave it in there long, and without it I have nothing
to feed the tangs lol. I have taken some ecology courses and know that
BGA is a nitrogen fixating bacteria...
<Mmm, not all, no>
so here are my thoughts...correct me if I'm wrong. Cutting out
everything except the seaweed still allows the BGA to grow so there
must be an alternate source. I know that the fish produce ammonia as
well as waste so that must be the other source.
<Mmm, likely to a large extent, yes>
I have two protein skimmers that pull about a 1/2 cup to a cup a day,
as well as a sea cucumber, several hermit crabs, amphipods and about 10
snails. I would like to believe that they do a sufficient job of
consuming detritus and waste, but maybe not. By adding a refugium, it
should increase the nutrient uptake and decrease the amount of free
floating in the tank.
I purchase my RO/DI water from a local drinking water store, and I have
had them do a PC analysis of the content as well as using my home
testers, and everything I had them test for comes back zero (NO3, NO4,
P, NH4) but I have had to adjust the pH using Seachem Reef buffer. I
know that there is no green algae that grows in the tank due to the
crabs and snails, so therefore there is no real competition for
nutrients. Would removing the snails until the green algae out competes
the BGA work?
<Having other, competitive photosynthates is a good idea. One strong
"front" to BGA control>
I would rather be fighting green algae than BGA.
<Is much less toxic in general>
Also, I have looked at several designs for a refugium on your site and
some have separate compartments for the DSB and then another one for
the tumbling macroalgae. Would it be better to do this, or have one
large compartment with anchored algae and DSB?
<IF all the purpose of this live sump IS the stated purposes, having
just two low barrier/overflow weirs to dissipate incoming water
kinetics and on the other side one to contain the substrate and algae
I have been working on the calcium issue, and its been that I have
added too much buffer and its almost back in control. (Several water
changes with no addition of buffer).
I appreciate all the help I get from you guys, it has made a huge
difference and a complicated hobby very enjoyable :),
Oklahoma State University
<Useful exercises in life, learning... valuable input via a
microcosm of our world. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cyano Bacteria --
Somebody told me there was a snail that was excellent for eating
Any ideas as to what the snails name is?
<I'm afraid I don't know. But like I said please try to
address the causes of the Cyano rather than the symptoms. In the mean
time to keep things looking nice try manually siphoning or pulling out
the Cyano bacteria to keep things looking nice.>
BGA Control: Residue found in
Ok Ok here is a new one. I have been having trouble with Red Slime
Algae or Cyanobacteria.
<Not an uncommon problem>
First I cleaned everything I could with a little soft brush to get rid
of the red coating. Then I got some Chemi Clean and treated the
<Hmm, not a fan of chemical controls. It kills the slime, but does
not correct the underlying cause of the slime.>
I have also replaced all the lamps and all the filters in my RO unit,
and reduced the amount of food I was giving.
<Ok, Good, so you are taking steps to correct the root cause as well
I think I was overloading the auto feeder but the lamps were a year old
and the filters were at least 6 months.
<6 month old filters?>
I had to leave for a day so I treated it with Chemi Clean before I left
thinking I would do the 20% water change on my return day.
<That is fine.>
I get home and everything looks pretty good in the tank (180 gallon)
and I go down to my 55 gallon refugium and no red to be found
But I see something I never saw before and I have no idea what it is.
On the bottom of the refugium right above the 5" live sand bed
there is a milky film just hovering above the sand about half an inch
<Die off from the red slime and anything else it may have taken out.
Plus since you let for a day, I assume the skimmer was still off from
Looks like what I have seen on TV when salmon fertile there eggs. There
is a 5" sand bed, two pieces of live rock about 5-6" round
and a 4" thick 12" x 18" Macro algae and a few copepods
or something of that nature in the refugium...nothing to make
"sperm". Do you have any idea what this could be and how much
of a heart attack mode should I be in?
<I would siphon it out as soon as possible.>
It also look like there are 1/4" long and as thin as thread worms
stuck to the glass at this same level. Some appear to be moving and
some do not.
They almost look like scratches in the glass more then worms but I just
don't know. What in the world is going on?????
<Red slime that wasn't killed settling down and feasting on the
Main tank as 2 Tangs, 3 clowns, 1 cardinal, 1 Angel, 5 chromis, 1
Foxface, 1 harlequin tusk, 2 butterflies, 4 turbo snails... so about 16
total 5-6" fish. I also have sump with a giant protein skimmer,
some rubble rock, a bag of bio balls and a regular white filter pad.
The water comes from the main tank and about 1/4 goes through the
refugium and then overflows into the sump and the other 3/4 goes direct
to the sump..............
<Sounds good. You are on the right track correcting the causes of
the red slime. Keep correcting and removing the slime as you see it. It
takes time, but you will win eventually. Remember, NOTHING good happens
quickly in a SW tank.>
Slime algae, snails and feather
Thank you for such an informative site and for helping those of us born
before computers and not search savvy. We all appreciate your
My ongoing saga of a 75 Gallon FOLWR that has been through Caulerpa
which I liked but now long gone, then hair algae which no one liked and
wouldn't go until I removed all the live rock and scrubbed it in
fresh water, which naturally made it dead rock. Next on deck was red
slime algae coating the bottom.
<Sort of reverse desired succession eh?>
In conjunction with a household move, I replaced the tank with a new
one, I replaced the sand with brand new live sand and dipped and rinsed
the dead rock new salt water. I preserved 50 gallons of the existing
water but filtered it through a Vortex Diatom filter. Remember
<I do... they're still about>
While in the transport tub the water tested 0 for phosphates, but
within a week the red slime algae was back.
<W/o competition, predation, why not?>
Livestock is 2 clowns, one coral beauty and a yellow tang plus 2 turbo
and 4 Nassarius snails. In recent months the rock has begun to develop
shades of dark red and medium green and appears that life is slowly
returning. Then last week we have the first feather dusters, 6 on them,
but they're growing from the sand rather than on the rock and
therein lies the problem: Unless the brand new live rock contained it
or the test kit failed to detect it I don't have a phosphate
<Mmmm; possibly... there are other inputs, consequences>
in the tank and the feedings are down to one pinch every other day, but
I still have the Red Slime Algae problem. One thing I'd like to do
is add some livestock that would disturb or churn the sand. My first
thought was more Nassarius snails except as I recall, they'll eat
the feather dusters if they're in the sand.
First, will a sufficient quantity of snails keep the sand churned and
aerated and second, if so are Nassarius the best snails given the
<The genus is amongst the best available, yes>
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Cyano From New Live Rock
the two items in the subject line aren't related, but since my
parameters are important I should probably address that too.
The system is a 90g with 30g sump (18g actual water level) mixed reef,
under 6x54w T5 lighting, 2 Koralia 4's for flow and a Mag 5 return
Skimming is a large recirc skimmer (big recirc pump, small feed pump
for max contact time). Bioload is probably on the high side of medium,
if that makes sense.
On to the problem:
I recently purchased a ~8 pound piece of LR for my tank from a LFS. I
had plenty for the purpose of filtration, this was just for aesthetics.
I examined it closely and saw only sand and detritus around the base. I
washed it in SW and put it in place.
24 hours later, I have a Cyano outbreak. 80% of it is on that rock, so
no doubt in my mind it is the source. In retrospect, it was under VERY
weak lighting (standard home-type fluorescents), so I guess when I got
it home my strong lighting gave it a jump-start.
<Generally, intense lighting is detrimental to Cyano.>
This Cyano is stringing from my other rocks and corals, and all my
softies (plus my RBTA) are very ticked off.
The rock was removed once I discovered this, and is in a bucket with a
powerhead and heater until I figure out what to do with it.
I have read here about Cyano treatment, and I understand the basics of
beating it. Since my only previous encounter was small and brief, I
think (hope?) my reef conditions are OK for me to beat it once the
offending source was removed... however, I am skimming wetter, doing
more water changes (25 gallons in two days so far) and reducing feeding
until this is under control. Is 12g/day a safe amount to change while
this is going on?
<I would not do that much, I'd syphon the Cyano out as needed
and replace the discarded water with fresh sea water and watch your
feeding as you mention above.>
Should I consider adding another powerhead or two temporarily? I have
enough flow to keep the corals happy, but if it will help my battle I
have a couple of spare MaxiJet 1200s I could throw in.
<As long as your total flow is around 900-1000gph, you should be
And, obviously, the rock must be dealt with. Should I just
"nuke" this rock, or will darkness, time and lack of
nutrients take care of it?
<You could keep the rock in a container (plastic pail, etc) of
nutrient free sea water with a small powerhead for circulation. A light
scrubbing as needed and rinsing the rock under a different source of
sea water should return the rock to a healthy state.
Monitor/observe until no Cyano reappears.>
For the record, my parameters are:
phosphates .5ppm (were undetectable until the rock showed up)
ammo/trite/trate all 0
<A little low.>
<Try to keep that mg around 1280-1300>
As you see, I also battle high pH.
<Not dangerously high, and your test kit could be reading
I don't dose anything other than SLOWLY raising the Ca and Mag. It
has been suggested to me that once calcium and Mag are raised to their
correct levels, the (what I'm told is high) alkalinity and pH
should fall in line.
Is this a correct line of thinking?
<Not necessarily, do read here and related articles.
Briefly, keeping the magnesium at a proper level (1280-1200), allows
the entire measured calcium level to be available for calcium loving
With your indicated magnesium level, less than 300ppm of calcium is
only available to the corals. Magnesium is a major element of sea water
and should be maintained at NSW levels, especially so when keeping
calcium loving animals.>
Thank you for your time and dedication to helping me and others like me
who need it!
<You're welcome. Keep reading/learning my friend. James (Salty
Dear Bob, Mr. Calfo,
<Hello, Scott V. with you today.>
I have big problem with Cyanobacteria which has spread out on my
Acropora on peaks, I am trying to blow them with turkey baster
everyday, but it seems it will not want to leave. When I am
blowing Acropora's peaks-end also some part of tissue is
damaged and coral is losing Zooxanthellae. I have tried to bath
coral in tropic Marin pro cure but Cyano is retrieving back.
<This will not do it.>
Cyano was caused by my mistake that I have put china MH bulbs
instead good ones. Please help!
<Well, in the end there are other fueling factors behind the
BGA besides the light, see:
There are other factors at play. As for your corals, you will
need to figure out what is causing the BGA to be so competitive.
Until then keep blowing off what you can.>
Re: Cyanobacteria 5/26/09
Ok, thank you so much, I will keep trying.
<Welcome, this battle can be won! This is a mild case, you
have caught it early. Scott V.>
Red algae... please help!
Hello Bob and crew!
<Jas... no sense sending msg.s twice...>
I hope everyone is great. It's been a while since I have harassed
you (which is hopefully a good indicator), but once again, I am in need
of your expertise! In mid January of this year, I upgraded from my 72
gallon tank to a 120 gallon. I have also made many strides forward with
my set up. I am now running a chiller, RO/DI, a calcium reactor, 2
Tunze power heads with the multi controller, better bulbs in my light
fixture (2 X 240 metal halide Giesemann 1300K), as well as a Tunze ATO
set up. I have also ordered a Mini Bubble King 180 skimmer. (I am
currently using the Aqua C EV 240, but have not been blown away by the
results to be honest). About 2 months ago, I noticed a little bit of
Cyano forming on my sand. I was very confused by this, as my po4 tests
had shown less than .03 on the test kit. I figured I'd better get a
second opinion so I took a sample of water to my LFS. They tested
it with a digital test kit and it was 7.5!!! I purchased a couple
Phosban reactors and a digital test kit. Since then I have gotten my
po4 to .03 and the Cyano has been gone for at least 1 month now.
<... the test... "results" are likely skewed by the Cyano
uptaking soluble phosphate>
My fish and SPS seem to be doing very well. I guess you're
wondering when I am going to get to the point ;-)'¦
So'¦ here is my new problem. I had beautiful purple coralline
algae growing on all my rocks but it seems to have been covered with
this red fuzzy algae (see photo). My tangs pick at it and I have picked
up a couple of urchins to try and cut it down, but it doesn't seem
to be giving in without a fight. My tank (unfortunately) receives a lot
of sunshine (no choice) and I suspect this isn't helping. I do 15
to 20 gallon water changes weekly with aerated RO/DI water, my no3
tests at less than 1 (confirmed by LFS tests).
<See re HPO4 above>
I have also cut down my feeding as well and I have been rinsing the
food. I don't know what else to try to get rid of this stuff. I
really want to see my coralline algae'¦ not this fuzzy red
crap J. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
<See WWM re Cyano control... this is what it/this is. BobF, on
painfully slow Net "access" in Sulawesi>
Thanks again for all your wonderful help.
Re: Cyano Control - Glass Tops
(Bob, do you really recommend these?- Sara M.)
I want to thank the crew for providing a wealth of knowledge.
Wanted to give feedback on my tank condition. My first email was 1/13
or 1/14/09 and here it is May already and I am still combating Cyano
but with noticeable success. It is a very slow process but I can
clearly see the LR has growing spots of pink algae emerging. I guess
like most humans we hope for the quick fix and seem to get discouraged
when results are not achieved overnight. The advice I was give was to
do water changes which I have been doing 1 to 2 times per week and
making sure there was good water flow.
Also changing the activated carbon every 2 weeks and trying to feed
properly. Now I am encouraged because I do see results!
<Great! And good for you for being patient and sticking with it!
With marine aquarium keeping, it is definitely true that "slow and
steady wins the race.">
By the way I have a question. Is it better to have a glass top on the
tank or not.
<Glass tops are almost always a very bad idea for marine aquariums.
It's difficult to maintain proper pH in a covered tank because you
just don't usually get nearly as much gas exchange as when the tank
I used to have one on my 46 bow with the compact fluorescent light
fixture sitting on top and it cracked and instead of replacing it I
bought supports to hold the light fixture up. For some reason I thought
it was better to have evaporation but I was reading The Conscientious
Marine Aquarist 2nd edition and it was mention to have a top.
<Really? Can you tell me what page? I'm surprised Bob would
recommend such... and don't remember seeing that part.>
<<A good idea in most cases to have some sort of "top"
to reduce the very common incidence of life leaving a system.... but if
glass (or acrylic) is used, very important to keep it clean (for light
transmission mostly)... the salt spray, splash removed, algae off...
SW Water Quality Issues:
Silicates\TDS RO/DI Softeners, etc. 5/4/2009
<Hello again Penny,>
I recently bought a silicate test (Seachem) and a TDS Meter and what an
eye opener these two purchases were.
<Hehehe, they usually are.>
Our house runs off of a 400ft well. I have a home RO unit (no DI) and
have recently changed all filters and membranes so these numbers are as
good as it gets so far:
Tap water: 1090 TDS!
RO water: 109 TDS! (so 90% removal rate)
<Less than optimal, but not surprising. What is the water
pressure\temperature? out of the tap?>
Silicates in tank are about 4-5
<A bit high.>
I have some problems with Cyano blooms, could this be because of the
I know is s/b 0 but is 4-5 a horrible number? It's not off the
chart but higher than I like.
<Not horrible, but lower is better>
I run two Phosban reactors (TLF's), one has carbon and the other
has Rowaphos (recently switched
to this from another brand-last water change). I am hoping the Rowaphos
helps brings down the silicate readings, it says it aids in silicate
removal, is this true?
<Yes it does.>
All my water changes have been done with water from a drive thru
dispensing machine which I have checked and it has 3 TDS's which is
stellar compared to my crappy water, and 0 for silicates. But I was
using my 109 RO water for the ATO on my 90g tank. I assume this is
where my silicates have come from.
I am now using all store bought water for everything. I am hoping this
will help turn around my Cyano blooms???
<It certainly cannot hurt, but if you remember the articles I
referred to you earlier, Cyano is normally caused by excess organic
nutrients and\or a lack of competition for what nutrients are
Again, I am not sure how bad 4-5 is as a silicate reading. I am having
a water treatment guy (rep from the drive thru water source) come to my
house and assess my situation and hopefully get me on track to being
able to use my own water source. I was told by my LFS that adding two
DI add on units would greatly help my situation, do you think this is
<You will see positive results with a DI unit. I'm not sure if
two are necessary.>
I was also told by the rep guy that my water softener (which is not
working properly anyways) is really not big enough to handle my TDS/
Hardness count, I should have a bigger model. Do you think this is BS??
It makes a bit of sense to me that the softener does dissolve some of
the hardness and solids in the water.
<By default, you should not use water from a water softener for an
aquarium. Straight RO\DI from the tap is better For that matter, what
does your tap water test out for straight from the tap.>
I am having to do weekly/bi weekly water changes to keep the Cyano in
check on the sandbed which is costing me a fortune in store bought
water now that I am using it for everything (ATO is about 2-3g a
<Hmm, I wonder if it would be better to get a dedicated RO\DI system
for your tank. It will probably be cheaper in the long run.>
So do you think I am on the right track with the above mentioned
<I would not use a softener for your aquarium water, otherwise,
Will the Rowaphos help with silicates?
<Yes, it will>
Will water changes bring them down enough or should I buy a silicate
remover product? If so which one?
<Rowaphos is fine.>
And could the 4-5 silicates be causing my blooms?
My tank is a 90 gallon, about 3-4 months old, 100lbs+ LR, 1.5" SB,
3 Vortech MP40's for movement, 2x250w MH 14,500K (Giesemann),
2xActinic Plus T5's (Giesemann), Eheim 1262 for return pump, Bubble
king 180 skimmer, Nitrite-0, Nitrate-0, Phosphate-0, Ammonia-0.
Is there a clean up crew that deals with cleaning the sandbed
I don't have dead spots really but am wondering if something other
than crabs (don't eat it) will eat the Cyano? Or keep the sandbed
<There are several creatures that will keep your sandbed mixed up.
Read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsiftfaqs.htm >
My fish are: Hippo tang, yellow tang, Foxface, 2 blk clowns, 1 Sixline,
1 lawnmower blenny. Stocking OK?
Everyone gets along great.
My lighting timers are Actinics from 9:30am-8:30pm, MH's are from
11:15am-7pm. Is this too long of a span?
<You can reduce it a bit to help with the Cyano problem.>
Sorry for the long winded email.
One last question.... Do you guys have an address where cases of beer
can be delivered for providing such a great service???
Thanks for all your help, you guys are the life savers of the SW
Re: SW Water Quality Issues:
Silicates\TDS RO/DI Softeners, etc. 5/5/2009
I don't use my softener water for my tank directly. The well water
runs through the softener first before heading to the RO unit. I also
have purchased a booster pump which I forgot to mention before for
I tested my "straight from well" water and it's 1130
Water through our ill functioning softener is 1100. Water through our
RO is 93. These are numbers as of 5 minutes ago. You were asking about
pressure, our house pressure tank is set at 50/20. But for the RO
I do have a booster pump. Do you have any good brand suggestions for an
add on DI unit(s)?
<I buy my RO\DI equipment from these guys -
I have been dosing Kent's Marine Buffer for PH/Alk levels to keep
my Alk at about 9. Could this be a Cyano causer?
I don't dose every day, maybe once a week but ever since I started
dosing it my Cyano started.
Nothing before then.
<Keep up the water changes and stop adding the buffer. I've
found that not adding any supplements when fighting Cyano does seem to
I have been trying to find someone who has Chaeto in Canada as no doubt
I can't ship it across the line. How big of a chunk do you need
growing to be beneficial?
<A small chunk is fine, it will grow very quickly in the right
I am just stumped as to my Cyano cause.
<I know the feeling - been fighting it myself - I'm finally
winning. It does take time. I've been fighting it for a
I don't feel I am over feeding. I am not one of those people who do
no research before getting into this hobby. I feel I have really great
husbandry skills and am willing to do whatever it takes to solve this.
I keep hoping it will go away with all my water changes and lack of
Thank you again for such a fast response. I am still needing an address
to ship the beer to.
<Heheheh I'll have to have Bob chime in here. The shipping costs
to Florida would be astronomical.>
<<Maybe we can just swing by your place to tip a few?
Re: Dwarf Lionfish Health\Feeding (4/8/2009)
Update with BGA control 5/4/2009
Fuzzy still doing well, still not weaned him off live yet, but I leave
him a few days and he then shows interest in dead at first but does not
eat it, but I am sure with perseverance he will come around.
<It can take some time. Just keep trying.>
My nitrates are still quite high, however I do have good news.
<Keep up with the water changes for the nitrates, or add some
The red slime I had is no longer,
I really don't know what I did, except I do not add cycle anymore,
thanks for the tip, and basically I left the tank alone. I used to
clean the red stuff as soon as it appeared, I left it for a week
without touching it and
although initially it got worse after 2-3 days it started to recede,
and within 2 weeks it was gone.
<It likely ran out of stuff to 'eat'>
I have now had 3 clear days without it appearing.
Thought I would let you know as it may help other marine keepers get
rid of this problem.
<Thank you for sharing this.>
P.S. Picking up an Eel today to add to the tank, but he IS eating
lancefish (no weaning required).
<Do read up on its care requirements. Here is a great place to
Algae ID: BGA\Cyano 4/20/2009
Tank is 90 gallons (30g sump, no refugium)
Nitrate0, Nitrite0, Phosphate0,ph8 night time-8.25 daytime, Ammonia0,
I have two bags of Chemi pure elite along with two Phosban reactors,
(one has Phosban, one carbon)
Bubbleking 180 skimmer, 2xVortech MP40's for movement set on reef
crest (stronger flow)
My tank is about 3 months along now, 100+lbs LR, and I have noticed a
slimy dark film on my sand (not super dark), some might not see it but
I do. (like diatoms but slimier) It's darker at night and
during the day but is a visible slime none the less. And in the evening
bubbles form on it, more bubbles at night then during the day. It is a
definite brown color though. I siphoned it all out and cleaned the
substrate and put it back in but I see it forming again now.
At first I wondered if it was the Coral FrenzY I was using (not lots,
maybe four times total in the last month but twice in the last week), I
only have soft corals and was told that they don't need a product
like coral frenzy so I have stopped using it. I have started feeding
very very lightly, poor fishies. But it still seems to be
coming back. I am buffering my Alk to about 10 from 7 (Seachem's
Reef Buffer), which also raises pH up which I hear is good for algae, I
dose at night when pH is low.
But to be truthful I have no clue as to what kind of algae or bloom is
happening. I don't want to just treat with something, guessing. I
am doing all I can, I do 16gallon water changes once a week. I can up
them if need be. The algae (or whatever it is) doesn't seem to be
"wild" or out of control. It spreads mostly in the front of
the aquarium in the open. I can see it mostly (darkest) around the open
brain and plate coral, like a brown border. It isn't on any of the
LR. Is this part of a growing phase of my tank?
<Not uncommon, but not desirable either.>
Or am I doomed? My levels seem good to me but I want to nip this in the
bud, is it one of those things that once it starts it's hard to
<It will take some work, but not insurmountable.>
Or is there hope? Please say there is hope.
<There is hope.>
I am very sorry for the long winded email but I wanted to explain it as
thoroughly as possible. Listing tank readings etc. I am not sure what
to do, I want to catch it early if it's something bad. I hope this
explanation helps. I searched through your website (holy crap!) and
couldn't find something similar, all I read was bubbles on the
sandbed are bad. So I am hoping for the best.
<What you have is Blue-Green Algae (Even if it is not blue-green in
Not at all uncommon in new systems. It is a 'pest' algae that
you will want to keep under control. You can read more about it and how
to control it here:
Thanks very much
Re: Algae ID: BGA\Cyano 4/20/2009
<Hehehe Fighting a minor outbreak myself, I understand the sentiment
I have a good skimmer, good flow, carbon etc.
<Which is good, as I said, it is not at all uncommon in
So basically light feedings and siphon up the infected sandbed and wash
it in FW and replace?
<I would just try to siphon the algae up, but this would work as
Should I increase my water changes from once a week to 2 or 3
<10 - 15% once a week is standard. You can do smaller, more frequent
changes for the time being.>
I have a UV, I hope that might help. I always turkey baster the LR
before siphoning for the WC.
How often do tangs need food? I have a yellow tang, Foxface and hippo
tang. I want to feed less but have read tangs need constant
Two light feedings a day?
<They are constant grazers, two light feedings per day plus some
green or red algae for them to munch on For my tang, I add a strip of
sushi Nori I the morning, and remove it in the afternoon.>
Sorry to be a pain.
<Not at all.>
BGA\Cyanobacteria Follow up: 4/22/2009
I wrote in the other day about my sandbed becoming brown (grey brown)
with bubbles appearing at night.
<Hi Penny, it's Mike>
My LR seems unaffected so far.
I was told by you it was Cyano which is a bummer to say the least. It
has not yet turned into the red carpet as I have seen in pictures.
<It can appear in multiple colors.>
Although because of the thought of it I have been doing 15 gallon water
changes on my 90 gallon tank (30 gallon sump about half full) I do
these changes on Wed's and Sundays to keep it from getting bad (I
The more I read about it the more I wonder what is causing it in my
tank, all my levels are zero.
<Again, not at all uncommon in a new system.>
I tested the phosphate, nitrite, nitrate, ammonia. My Alk was lowish a
while back so I have been dosing with Kent Marine buffer to raise
That's all I dose.
If all my levels are zero how could this happen? I read online that the
ammonia, nitrate, and phosphate levels elevated normally trigger an
outbreak. My tank is about 3 months along now and I can't for the
life of me figure this out.
<I'm fighting a minor outbreak myself and all my readings are
zero as well.
Zero means the nutrients are being consumed as fast as they are
I have a bubble king 180 skimmer which should be good enough
(it cost 1000.00 so I assume it is a better one).
<No direct experience with this model, but I have not read anything
negative about them,>
I have two Phosban reactors running, one with carbon, one with the
Phosban stuff. I have three Vortechs for
movement at almost full tilt, stuff doesn't seem to settle. I tried
to buy the best stuff I could to eliminate problems of low flow and
<All sounds good.>
I have 2x250 MH's, 14,500Kelvin that run from 11am till 7pm. I have
2xT5's (actinic blue) that are on from 9:30 till 8:30. Is my
lighting all wrong? I have no fuge in my sump.
<Adding some macroalgae can help in soaking up any excess nutrients
that the BGA is feeding on.>
My return pump is an Eheim 1262 and I have a Aqua Step UV sterilizer
running, would it be causing the problem?
Please help as I don't know what I am doing wrong.
<You aren't doing anything 'wrong".>
My fish are 1 blue hippo tang, 1 yellow tang, 1 Foxface and two blk
clowns. I feed lightly twice daily and put seaweed sheets out for the
tangs in a clip once a day (1.5"x4" long of grn and purple
seaweed). I can't think of anything I am missing for info so I hope
this will help. Should I be keeping up with my twice weekly water
changes or am I wasting my time?
<Keep up with the water changes and try to physically remove as much
of the Cyano as you can. It will take a bit of time to get it cleared
up, but it will.>
As I mentioned all tests are zero which is odd for a Cyano outbreak
<Not at all unusual.>
Fish have been in for 1.5 months now.
Thanks so much and sorry for emailing again.
You guys are life savers though, keeping everyone sane(ish). ha ha
Attacking Cyanobacteria-You might find this interesting
<Hmmm, well, the problem with this process is that it just kills the
The stuff then just releases all the nutrients that fueled it in the
first place back into the water.
It also does not treat whatever is the fueling factor for the growth in
the first place. Like the thread says, repeat this every two months or
so, but some do not need to....if it is just a new tank and all else
done correctly this will work.
If there is some factor spurring the growth other than the instability
of a new tank and the curing of
the rock, there will be trouble...this will need to be repeated. Who
wants to shut the lights off on their corals every few weeks or
But, siphoning out the BGA is far more effective in my experience (it
actually exports all the junk!!) and if the fueling factor is not
remedied the whole action is disputable. I do very greatly thank you
for sharing this with us. It will be posted for others to make their
own decision....I just personally see problems with the
technique itself. Scott V.>
Re: attacking-Cyanobacteria-you might find this
The problem that most of us have is that we try various methods to
reduce nutrients but the Cyano stays around for months.
<Yeah, the stuff makes you want to beat your head on the wall, I
And although things improve it is a very slow process and at times
seems like we are getting nowhere. And all during this time you are
If we were to begin a program to reduce nutrients and then once
initiated do some aggressive siphoning followed a 3 day lights off.
That should get us a bit of a head start on the Cyano. Then if the
nutrient controls are in place it should prevent reinfection.
<For sure, just another tool to use!>
New Print and
eBook on Amazon
Marine Aquarium Algae Control
by Robert (Bob) Fenner