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FAQs on Controlling Cyano/Blue-Green Algae 2

Related FAQs: Control of Cyano/Blue-Green Algae, Cyano Control 3, Cyano Control 4, Cyano Control 5, Algae ControlCyano Control 6, Cyano Control 7, Cyano Control 8, Cyano Control 9, Cyano Control 10, Cyano Control 11, BGA Control 12, BGA Control 13, BGA Control 14, BGA Control 15, BGA Control 16, BGA Control 17BGA Control 18, BGA Control 19, BGA Control 20,  & BGA Identification, Marine Algicide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; Controlling: Red/Encrusting Algae, Green Algae, Brown/Diatom Algae

Related Articles: Blue-Green "Algae"/(Cyanobacteria), Algae Control, Marine Maintenance, Nutrient Control and Export, Marine Scavengers, Snails, Hermit Crabs, Mithrax/Emerald Green Crabs, Sea Urchins, Blennies, Algae Filters, Ctenochaetus/Bristle Mouth Tangs, Zebrasoma/Sailfin Tangs, Skimmers, Skimmer Selection, Marine Algae, Coralline Algae, Green Algae, Brown Algae,   Diatoms, Brown Algae

BGA in the wild...

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Caulerpa/Cyano in refugium 11/16/05 Hi Crew, For a group of volunteer experts, you guys should be commended for keeping this site so informative and assisting more novices to succeed.  <Glad you have found the site helpful!> Parameters: 250 gal. FOWLR with large wet/dry, refugium with live rock rubble/Caulerpa, protein skimmer (producing lots of daily skimmate), 40 watt UV sterilizer, trickle filter box with media pad, activated carbon, and PhosBan. Main display has ~250 lbs. of Tonga live rock, live fine aragonite DSB. On top of the refugium I have mini PC's that run 24/7.  <All sounds good. Do consider that in order to thrive, Caulerpa needs about the same amount of light as moderate light corals.> I have a couple of questions: First question is that I seem to be having trouble getting my Caulerpa to thrive or grow in the refugium. The refugium is a section of my wet/dry whereby there is a small power head that pumps water from the main pump section of the wet/dry into the refugium section and the water level weirs over into the skimmer section. The flow seems low but is there none the less. The Caulerpa has been in the refugium for about two months now, and if anything it looks like the "clump" of Caulerpa is shrinking.  <I would definitely consider current as a culprit. Just like any other marine organism, Caulerpa depends on water movement to deliver nutrients and carry away wastes.> Concurrently, I have been having a slight amount of Red Cyano forming on the fine DSB in the main display that I seem to have under control but occasionally it reappears. I seem to be an "over feeder" so nutrient export is important to me, hence Caulerpa in the refugium. I thought initially that maybe the Caulerpa did not have enough to thrive on; however with the Cyano forming, and the high fish load, I can't imagine that the Caulerpa wouldn't thrive.  Last night I went into the refugium section to remove a small amount of red Cyano that formed on top of a section of the Caulerpa and noticed that the Caulerpa was very flimsy and slimy, almost as if I could have agitated the water enough to eliminate the clump. Also it did not seem to have set any hold fasts onto the live rock, but yet it wasn't floating either and there are a few small clumps of it that did attach to the sides of the refugium. I tested Phosphates and the reading was .2 so I am perplexed. <Obviously, the Caulerpa isn't healthy and growing, so it isn't exporting anything. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries to get it established, so I would suggest trying again and increasing the light and current a bit.>

Sudden Fish Loss, BGA wipe-out 7/18/05 Yesterday I experienced sudden fish loss which freaked me out. My system has been up and running for 3 years with no major problems. 46 Gallon About 70 pounds live rock 5-6 inch fine sand bed AquaC HOT skimmer Magnum 350 canister (for Carbon and Mech. filt.) A couple power heads Medusa Temp controller (hooked to small fan and heater) Ground probe Live stock: Regal Tang (I know, too small a tank but didn't do my homework when I first bought him) 2 Ocellaris Clowns 1 Chromis Coral: Bubble, Candy Cane Yellow polyps, and a few mushrooms. 4 Turbo Snails Have not done any tests in a while, SG 1.026 I am currently going through a Cyano out break and got lazy the past week or so and let it build up on the glass. I used the Magnet and cleaned off most of it from the glass, of course there was a ton of it floating around the tank so I reached my hand in and took the screen off the canister filter intake so it doesn't get clogged and it can suck up the floating blue-green algae. About a half hour later I glanced at the tank and noticed the Chromis was dead and the other 3 fish were gasping like crazy. The clownfish were on the bottom gasping and having trouble staying upright, the tang was gasping also but seemed to be handling a bit better (I guess because he is a lot bigger), The starfish then ate the dead Chromis. I had no reserve saltwater so I hurried and mixed a batch of fresh saltwater, (obviously you are supposed to let it mix for a couple days in normal situations) the salinity was a bit off cause it was the last of it (about 1.023), I put the worst of the clownfish in there but he didn't last long and died. I then put a fresh batch of Carbon in the canister filter <Which I hope/trust you rinsed of the Cyano> and let the remaining 2 fish stay in the  tank. <No... move them from the toxified water> The 2nd small clownfish died overnight I think. I believe the starfish ate him too because the central disk was a big bulge this morning . The Regal Tang seems kind of OK, it looks pretty lethargic but I put a few flakes in this morning and it did eat. Also he is not gasping like crazy anymore. The coral and polyps seem to be ok, they extended there tentacles last night to go into feeding mode. The starfish is fine I assume, especially since  it ate 2 fish. I did do an ammonia test this morning and results showed no ammonia (old Salifert test kit though not sure how accurate it is anymore). So could have the tons of Cyano floating around have caused the sudden fish loss? <Oh yes> I don't think it was me putting my arm in the water, I don't recall handling any chemicals or anything that would be toxic. I am at a total loss here. There is also a couple Caulerpa (I believe) stalks growing not sure if that could be hazardous in any way. I do have a small toadstool mushroom that is being taken over by blue green algae, could it have released some kind of poison? <Possibly> The system has been running just fine for 3 years and all of a sudden this happens and I have no idea why. Its kind of discouraging, I wanted to replace with a bigger tank at some point <Much more forgiving...> but am now re-thinking that idea. So any ideas? Thanks. Angelo <The BGA is likely the primary culprit here... need to be diligent about keeping it steadily kept down... A larger system, with a sump/refugium will be much more stable, easier to maintain. Bob Fenner> Terrible tank Bob - thanks for your visit to our club (MASM) in January. I know all of us really enjoyed your talk on Fiji. We all were jealous and interested in going on one of your trips.  <alas... more reason to envy his charmed life... Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob is away in Australia. I will have the pleasure too of visiting your club this Saturday though for the MMC> I was the one who mentioned the mysterious crashing tank problem. I am still struggling with it. My two other tanks are fine and the fish in the bad tank are quite healthy. The problem is that it became overwhelmed with algae - turf and Cyanobacteria. I can't find any imbalance in my testing. The Ph, Alk, Nitrate, etc. all test fine and I've used two different kits - Red Sea and Aquamarine. Any idea what's wrong or what I'm missing? With frequent water changes (2 to 3 times a week) things have slowly improved. Still the algae hangs on and Valonia is now taking hold. All the inverts have died (snail and crabs) and I am afraid to anything lest it die and pollute the tank. I'm quite frustrated and looking for some advice. Thanks for your help <hmmm... we should be able to figure this out. When fish thrive but inverts die it usually indicates a physical parameter of water quality and nearly rules out any chance of a pathogen. My strong advice would be to add a PolyFilter to your filtration and change it monthly for several months (do note the color change of the pad as an indicator of contaminants present...really a great product!). And make sure your skimmer produces at least a cup of coffee colored skimmate every day! No exceptions.. else the contaminants just keep building up. Adjust the skimmer as necessary to make it so or consider upgrading the skimmer. IMO, there is almost no nuisance algae that can't be starved out within weeks with excellent nutrient control. Do say hello if you attend the conference this Saturday. Kindly, Anthony Calfo>

BGA Hi All! Hope all is well. I'm fighting a battle with BGA and I just want to know if I'm on the right track. When I started my tank I checked out my tap water and it looked to be good to go (lucky me ).  <Very common to have seasonal variations in tapwater.> Now that I've upgraded my lights the BGA is just giving me a run for my money. I've found the problems to be 1. lack of circulation 2. Too much nitrate production 3. High Phosphate in my tap water (not so lucky anymore) 4. Too much waste substances in my water (crappy skimmer) <I think you mean not enough production.> The circulation I had were 2 MaxiJet 400's in each corner and upgraded one to a 1200 should I do the other as well? <Yes, I would.> I'm also starting a sump/refugium with mangroves and some Caulerpa (if I can get it). <The Caulerpa will be far more effective at nutrient export.> I'm looking into an ro/di unit and a new skimmer, but can't do both right now due to budget which should come first? <A hard choice, but I am inclined to go with the RO unit right now, since you would be minimizing nutrient import with a RO and improving export with the refugium. You may want to ask the folks over on the WWF chat forum if they have any DIY improvement ideas for the SeaClone. I am sure someone, somewhere has come up with an ingenious plan to improve production.> I have a 55gal FOWLR magnum hot with Biowheel pro 60 one MaxiJet 400 one MaxiJet 1200 SeaClone skimmer I hate this thing) I have the equipment for my sump but just received it and will hopefully be getting it up and running this evening. What am I missing here and do you have any suggestions. <You did not list a return pump for your refugium or a draining device, either holes & bulkheads or siphon overflow.> oh yeah I have a yellow tang, two feather dusters, 1 fire shrimp, 1 skunk cleaner, 5 Turbos, and about 10 hermits, a pencil urchin, and a spiny urchin thanks for all your help and great advice, dela <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

red slime HI, I have a 29 gallon reef tank and I have a really bad red algae problem. What can I do to control it and what causes it? Thanks a bunch, Ryan B <Go directly to WetWebMedia.com, do not stop at Go, do not collect two hundred dollars... Start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm proceeding onto the hours of articles and FAQs files beyond. You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Fighting Blue/Green Algae Hi Bob, <<JasonC here, Bob is away diving>> How are you doing, I have this BIG problem in my 180 gal SPS/LPS. In spite of have gone to water change weekly, 4000 plus gal/hr of water movement, utilizing ozone/UV, carbon/Polyfilter, kept the temp stable with help of chiller, new bulb with 4watts/gal, scooped the sand along with BGA, used syringe and turkey blaster to suck the BGA out, clean the protein skimmer reg to optimize it's purpose, BUT STILL fighting with BGA in fact it has gotten worst it has spread from the sand to the rocks and had choked some of the SPS and killed the Xenia, and almost dying Alcyonium leather and last night had spread to the star polyps. What should I do next I did exactly what is stated in WWM which is to out compete or starve the BGA, which is to reduce additives, lessen the feeding nitrates is now 0 instead of .2. Other parameters alk-3.5 Ca-450, ph-8.0, temp 77. Water make up/change is from R/O and filter media is still brand new (2months). I almost want to turn off the light since I noticed it stimulates it's growth, and I can't go to the medicine route or it will kill the corals. I know BGA is a form of bacteria that feeds on nitrates/phosphate- readings are 0 as of today. I have macro algae and LR in the sump 24/7 to outcompete it's growth but it seems no hope. The only thing I can think of which is the last route is to take all the sand out and LR and rinse them with fresh water but that would kill all the bacteria necessary and not a good idea I assumed. Thanks Rommel. <<well, a lot said - a lot covered. It would seem you've run a full course of treatment. I have a few questions for you, things you did not mention. First - have you run any phosphate tests? While RO/DI works very effectively, it could be defective OR under duress because your supply water has high phosphates so that is a good place to start. You might also want to investigate one or more of the ion-exchange media [like PolyFilter, etc.] that act as phosphate sponges - in the case that you have a high level. Second, are you running a sump or refugium? Your next step might be to try to introduce something that will compete more successfully for the same nutrients required by the BGA. Caulerpa is a popular choice but any macro-algae would work in this case. You could light your sump for 24 hours to encourage macro-algae growth and this one thing would go a long way to starving the BGA. BGA can be hard to deal with given a lack of competition, and certainly with reef lighting the BGA is probably loving life, even as you are hating it. Do be patient, don't rinse the sand just yet. Cheers, J -- >>

Red algae Hi Guys, I'm having a problem with Cyanobacteria I was hoping you might be able to help with. Here are my stats: 29gal Ammonia-0 Nitrite-0 Nitrate-2-5ppm Calcium-just above 400 P04-undetectable lighting-60W NO fluorescent 2.5" aragonite/gravel substrate Emperor 280 + Penguin 170 + Prizm skimmer <do seriously consider a skimmer upgrade... that alone could cure the red algae within weeks> Creatures-2 A. frenatus, 1 humbug damsel, 2 feather dusters, 15lbs. LR The tank is about 3months old and had gone through the usual pattern (I thought) of algal succession leaving just enough mossy green stuff to be pretty and useful. About 1 month ago the cyano started in billowy sheets on the substrate and has since established itself on some LR and glass. The Prizm skimmer is on fulltime and produces 3/4 a cup of something slightly darker than tea daily but certainly not any thick gooey stuff like it should despite constant tinkering.  <yes...some/many think the design is flawed to say the least> I siphon out the cyano every other day and have tried polyfilters/phos-zorb etc but it comes back like clockwork. Been using Red Sea Phosphate test kit which gives a "0" reading but perhaps it's off (that or I've forgotten basic lab skills from college).  <test kits only test for organic phosphate... you inorganic levels may be quite high and contributing to the algae> I confess to using tapwater for changes and makeup  <not a crime> but it tested 0 for phosphate and nitrate as well so I thought it was alright (Anthony-Do you know if our 'burgh H2O is tainted?)  <a relative assessment... I use and recommend purified water to be reconstituted (buffered) for peace of mind and consistency> anyway any advise is greatly appreciated as usual. thanks a ton guys. Adam <increased water flow and a tweaked skimmer producing dark skimmate daily is a guaranteed cure for red "algae". Sometime either alone can do the trick. Have you noticed the mats occur in areas of lowest flow? If so.. perhaps just adding water flow will work (and help to keep detritus in suspension for skimmers/filters). In most cases, both are needed. Do look to attend this months PMAS meeting... we're bringing a great lady, Mary Middlebrook, in from the West coast. She is a marine livestock wholesaler sure to share fascinating insight into the chain of custody and handling of collected fish and invertebrates. Best regards, Anthony>

That Darned BGA Again... Hi Jason, Thanks for the reply, In fact I did perform the phosphate test using Salifert test kits and it undetectable. I'm also using refugium with 24/7 lighting with lots of Caulerpa and LR. The R/O filters are only 2 months old, but I order new one and it should be here tomorrow. I'm also using Polyfilter on a regular basis. I'm thinking of converting either to ecosystem or plenum system with Caulerpa of course and lighting system 24/7, do you think this approach will help with my situation in a long run. <<think you need only add Caulerpa to your refugium and you'd accomplish the same thing as ecosystem or plenum without the disruption of the switch-over. Can see why the BGA has become frustrating. Would just recommend more manual removal and trying to introduce the Caulerpa to kick it in the shins.>> Thank you in advance, RL <<Cheers, J -- >>

Beaten Down by Blue/Green Algae <<JasonC here filling in while Bob is away diving.>> I wrote you a few weeks back about my blue-green problems. Well I do believe I have lost my battle with my algae problem. <<BGA Battle is only over when you give up>> I siphon out 15 gallons and try to remove as much as I can but it always returns. My big question is how did I contract such a horrid problem and how do I prevent it from coming back? <<it is a standard "phase" and unless there's something else around to compete with it, then there's no compelling reason for it to go away.>> I am looking to tear my system down and redo it after a thorough cleaning. I have been battling for months and I have all but given up. I have tried phosphate removers, activated carbon, water changes. <<have you tried adding one or two more powerheads?>> Other than asking the stars I have tried everything I know. <<perhaps you might want to consult the stars at this point.>> I have gotten the advice a few times that a tear down is the best and most effective. Scrub all my 100+ pounds of rock and filter system. <<is one way. Personally, I would keep at it.>> This is a huge ego blow. My first live rock experiment and I blow it big time. <<no one is standing in judgment, this is a common problem.>> I am growing coralline and green on the glass but the bad stuff grows faster and takes over in a few days. <<probably means you could keep ahead of it on that schedule by getting in there with your hands and pulling it out a little more frequently.>> I stepped up water changes to 15 gallons weekly but it matters little to the algae. <<are you using RO/DI water for your make-up solution?>> I just want to know how do I make sure I do not contract it again when I scrub my tank, and how thoroughly will I need to wash to ensure it does not return? <<You could irradiate this tank with gamma rays and if you do all the same things over again, it will come back.>> I am loosing hope and patience. <<no need to lose hope, still more to try.>> I know I need better lighting but I do not think this is the problem. <<better lighting at this point will only make things worse.>> I hope you can be helpful. <<I hope this all the time too - you tell me, was I helpful?>> I have read and reread you articles and letters on the subject and have not found anything that will work. Sincerely, Joseph M Howell <<Do try to up the flow in the tank - perhaps an additional powerhead, and also look into a phosphate test on your freshwater. If you have phosphates, then you're battling uphill, and if they're coming in via your freshwater, then every time you change you are adding more fuel for the BGA. Good luck. Cheers, J -- >>

Miracle Cure for BGA? Hi Robert, remember me, I mailed you a while ago about the problem I was having with BGA. <<Bob's away diving, JasonC here helping out. If you only knew how many people emailed Bob with BGA problems. Is a very, very common problem.>> I have cured it myself using my own cure. <<interesting... sounds like a secret recipe.>> Do you think I should sell the Idea or start making it myself? <<depends, have you gathered any empirical data - it worked on your tank, will it work on others, is it toxic to anything - the kind of questions people will want to know before they buy it. Also, if the active ingredient is something that people can buy at the drug store, you may have a very short career once the secret is out. Sometimes it's better to just share good ideas like this.>> By the way it was %100 successful. Tim Beer. <<on your tank/system, yes. Glad to hear you nailed it. Cheers, J -- >>
Marketing the Miracle Cure for BGA
I see your point completely. <<didn't realize I had been so persuasive, but good stuff.>> I will mail you later with how I did it. <<will be looking forward to this. Cheers, J -- >>

Burgundy algae Dear Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service... Bob is in the process of having all hair from his body removed (except one raised eyebrow) so that he swims faster on his impending dive trip to Australia> Recently I have been getting this deep burgundy algae in my saltwater tank which houses a tomato clown and a yellow tang. The algae starts at the bottom of the tank and then is somewhat slimy and stringy in nature.  <certainly a nuisance "algae" (red Cyanobacteria) or a dinoflagellate> I have removed some of the decoration, washed them and replaced them but it always comes back. My tank is less then a year old, 8 months, and I'm still waiting for what is supposed to be the "good algae" but I am concerned that this is not the one.  <correct... and a sign that you are having some trouble with nutrient export processes> Now about the good algae is it only the red coralline that is the good stuff and is the presence of any green algae on any decorations (not hair algae) referred to as bad algae.  <no... and "good and bad" are relative to your systems needs. But traditionally, any color of coralline algae and a reasonable amount of green microalgae (film) are healthy signs. Brown diatom, hair algae and red slime algae are a nuisance> I am concerned that there are too many nutrients in the tank but I have a protein skimmer so I don't know.  <it should produce dark product every day practically. If so, then look to your tap water quality and feeding habits (any messy or frozen foods making it to the tank bottom before fish can eat it?> I do water changes once a month, should I shorten this period or could it be something else. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <small frequent water changes are always better. 5-10% weekly is better than 25% monthly> Thanks Corina <quite welcome. Anthony>

Kalkwasser and Cyanobacteria Hello.  <cheers, my friend. Anthony Calfo> I have a 30 gallon reef set up right now. I have noticed very small bits of Cyanobacteria that I have been removing manually each time they pop up (infrequent and small, but still present every other week or so).  <removed by slurping out with a siphon, right? not stirring up?> I use RO water for top-offs and changes.  <do aerate first and then buffer before using> My friend who is a fish store guy, told me that using Kalkwasser not only helps with the calcium levels, but can also help (to a certain degree) with alkalinity and might clear out any Cyanobacteria.  <he is very wise on these matters indeed. Agreed> He has done this in his tank. My question is this...I was thinking about using a SLOW Kalkwasser drip in conjunction with Aragamilk to raise both calcium levels and alkalinity respectively.  <I wouldn't bother with the Aragamilk> Is there some danger to this with my mini reef?  <not at all. Kalkwasser used properly is a great benefit. Simply never add so much that your pH jumps more than .2 tenths of a point in a short period of time. Test the first few times you dose to determine how much/how fast. Kalkwasser also improves protein skimming and precipitates phosphates. I wrote about the merits of its use in reef aquariology at length in my book> It is not overstocked at all, and it uses the Berlin system (I emailed before about a couple of anthias, but they reside in a 55 fish only). Meaning that I use a skimmer and LR for filtration with about a 3-4 inch sand bed made from aragonite.  <sounds very nice> I am looking to avoid swings in pH,  <dose kalk after lights are off then> boost up calcium, as well as clean up the cyano, but I am rather skittish about adding anything to my small tank due to the low volume. <again, a simple matter of a concurrent pH test the first few times applied> Currently I simply under-dose Kent Marine Iodine, Molybdenum and calcium on a bi-triweekly basis, which are all supposed to be able to be dosed with Kalkwasser.  <go easy on the liquid calcium (chloride accumulates and is a nightmare in the long-run) and do add Seabuffer to this program. You'll want and Alkalinity test kit too> Any advice on how to approach starting this new Kalkwasser drip or on how to further avoid cyano will be greatly appreciated. Thanks! paullee <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

help! cyano! Dear Bob, <Steven Pro this morning. I am taking my shift answering questions for WWM.> We've got major Cyanobacteria problems and they've been with us for several weeks and getting worse. This red slime won't go away. It bubbles and covers the rocks and then disappears overnight. I've read and read (websites and multiple books). Current treatments: The most logical answer is to remove the nitrate source. We've got almost 100 lbs of LR in our tank so we removed the biobale from the trickle filter in an attempt to remove the nitrate source (level since that bacteria levels peaked has been zero --before the slime it was chronically and inexplicably very high). No change in nitrates/ammonia except a week later I'm starting to see diatoms (maybe it's green algae and I'm just panicking) for the first time since we finished cycling the tank (over a year ago). Should we put the bale back and live with the slime? Our current treatment is dumping the protein skimmer daily (smells nasty!) <This is good production on a skimmer.> and cleaning off the rocks at night by waving my hands over it and scooping it out of the tank with a net. I don't know if this spreads the bacteria or it helps but it seems as if I don't, the stuff gets harder to remove. Sucking the stuff out weekly helps temporarily to keep it from totally taking over but it comes right back. <It would be better to suck it out always instead of blowing it off of the rocks and netting it out.> We are struggling to keep a bit of Caulerpa alive but it is smothered by the slime and it is barely alive even though I clean it off every night. The tang loves the Caulerpa so we keep it in a breeder box which REALLY becomes covered in red slime so I fear it's leaching nitrates. We already took all the rocks out, one by one, and tried to gently knock off the slime in some tank water we also removed, replacing the rocks carefully in the tank. Washed the DLS every few days (a nightmare). Changed the charcoal. Did a %30 water change. I feed VERY sparingly. <All good ideas/actions.> I know we don't have a high bio-load: just 1 large Naso tang, 3 little damsels, and 2 cleaner shrimp in a 125 gallon tank. I was hoping we'd have nice algae for the tang to snack on. He can't eat this junk and it covers the rocks and all his potential snacks. This is hell. Please tell me something new to try. Here are the suggestions I've read: 1. reduce nitrates-our levels are zero and the slime still grows 2. check phosphates-just tested-our levels are very, very low (below .1). May recheck tomorrow. <Test kits are not able to register a reading for organic phosphate, only inorganic phosphate. Hence, you have phosphate just not the kind your test looks at.> 3. increase lighting and burn it off-we don't want to go to metal halide since the tank runs warm. We have power compact lighting (a few months old-2 actinic, 2 full spectrum 6700 K). 4. alkalinity too low- We add 2 part Ca-alkalinity buffers (Kent parts A and B) and our alkalinity is 6.5. Is 6.5 too low? <Is this meq/l or dKH? Probably dKH and yes a little low. Increase frequency and/or amounts of water changes and use a buffering compound.> 5. antibiotics-this is a bacterium-you need to get it out of the system-risk killing the good bacteria and biological filter. This is the only logical solution but it scares me. We have a hospital tank with LR just in case we resort to this. <Do not do this.> 6. Chemi-clean-take out the nitrates chemically to give you a head start in growing other nitrate-eaters (any suggestions?) and continue to try to figure out what's causing the nitrates. <Nitrates are a natural by-product of having fish. Water changes with pure source water, good nutrient export, and possibly the use of a DSB will minimize it.> 7. red legged hermits and turbo snails-I can't believe any creature can keep up with this stuff--would they threaten our cleaner shrimp or any other corals we might want to add? <They will not eat this stuff.> 8. deep sand bed (guess who suggested this)-we've got a few inches of finely crushed coral. It has bubbles in it so we're hoping it's doing denitrification but it does tend to get covered in slime. We've considered starting a DSB but fear it might be too disruptive to our tank inhabitants. We have snails that like to burrow in it and seem to eat the algae so we'd like to keep some substrate. We have considered it as a nitrate source. <A few inches of crushed coral is too much. It is an excellent place for detritus to settle out and hide. Vacuum some of it out with 3/4" or 1" I.D. vinyl tubing, to bring it down to 1/2". 9. macroalgae-I think the Caulerpa introduced the bacteria (slime started growing on it soon after we first introduced it a month ago) but we have some nice green grass-like macroalgae that came with our LR and survives under the slime and grows well. I'm hoping this will help us and I clean it off each night. 10. Filter media (charcoal): Use research grade charcoal. Is one brand better than another? We changed it last week. What about adding a bit of that nitrate sorb or some temporary solution to get a jump start on tipping the balance from this red slime to something else <I prefer Boyd's Chemipure. It will not release phosphate as some brands of carbon do.> 11. increase water flow: This is wrong. I put the powerhead on a LR and the red algae was VERY dense on it by the end of the day Things we haven't tried yet but I think are unlikely 12.silicates-will try the test kit tomorrow 13. C02-Tullock suggests this Other levels: pH:8.2, nitrates=0, ammonia=0 as of this morning. We've switched to Salifert tests hoping they're more accurate. Help! I'm just hoping this goes away but I've read horror stories about how it never does and it chokes the tank. Again, when this stuff covers the LR, does it interfere with the denitrification process and interfere with our biological filter??? Perhaps it's good in that it finally controlled the nitrates and we just have to think of it in that light and live with it. <You do not have to live with it. Begin using purified water for your changes and get rid of some of that detritus trap called crushed coral and things should begin to improve.> Thanks, Allyson <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Cyanobacteria and Poor Skimmer Performance <Greetings... Anthony Calfo in your service> I have an 85 gallon salt water tank with a Remora Pro skimmer and an undergravel filter covered with crushed coral. Water passes through the filter, exits through three holes drilled in the bottom of the tank, through a 15W UV light and is pumped back into the tank by a Little Giant. The lighting is a 47" JBJ "Formosa", which uses two Mitsubishi/Osram 6500K Daylight compacts (36 W each) and two Osram DELUXE 7100K Blue (36 W each) compacts. There are also two powerheads for circulation. Livestock: 2 clown fish, 1 large yellow tang, 1 med blue tang, 1 blenny and 1 shrimp; 6 pieces of live rock, 1 devil's hand coral, 1 brain coral, 1 anemone, some polyps and a torch coral. The tank worked fine for about two years. But for the past several months, Cyanobacteria is covering everything and I can't get rid of it!  <has nothing to do with knighting...everything to do with nutrient export processes (skimmers, water changes, etc)> I scrape it off the surfaces, vacuum and change 10 gals every other week, sometimes every week. The replacement water is high quality RO. Nitrate tests indicate a level of 10-20. Salinity 24. <all fine> I feed the fish every other day with a pea sized piece of frozen food and a 1 x 2" square of dried algae. The skimmer cup needs to be emptied about every week and a half.  <whoa! awful skimmer performance... should be collecting daily...4-8 oz on a tank this size. What you have is algae food in dissolved organics that have accumulated from poor skimmer performance> Notwithstanding the skimmer, I can see bits of a "slick" floating on the surface and getting pushed around. <ughhh!> The guy at the local fish store says the undergravel filter has super saturated the system with nutrients. He says the only way to solve the problem is to plug up the holes in the bottom of the tank, remove the undergravel filter and replace it with live sand to complement the live rock already there. <an interesting idea...but has nothing to do with your algae problem> Changing the setup would be very problematic. To plug up the holes in the bottom of the tank I would have to empty out all the water and store the fish. This would be extremely difficult. The tank is set up ("unofficially") in an office building. I carry the RO water from home in 5 gal. jugs past a security guard. Besides the tank, I have a 15 gal plastic trash can in my office for mixing salt water. I don't know what I would do with the livestock. There's no hospital tank. Do you have any suggestions on solving the Cyanobacteria problem without changing the set up? Do you agree that I need to remove the undergravel filter? If so, how would I do it? Many thanks for your assistance. <the problem is easily cured... tweak the skimmer or add a second/better model. Daily skimming for 2-3 weeks will eradicate the algae without you lifting a finger. Stop stirring it please, it spreads it. Straight siphoning is fine. You do not need to remove the UG yet unless you are ready to tackle the nitrate issue, in which case you will need more than 3" of sugar fine sand in a static bed. Kindly, Anthony>
Re: Cyanobacteria
Thank you for your prompt response. I appreciate your help.  <my pleasure...Anthony> I have read in John Tullock's book 'Natural Reef Aquariums' that algae may indeed be a product of improper lighting.  <True algae yes...very much so. But you are asking about cyanoBACTERIA... a horse with a different color. It grows and is controlled by nutrients as a limiting factor (and as bacteria can even be killed symptomatically with antibiotics (!) where true algae cannot> I am not sure what my problem is though. I have tested my water and received the following results: 0 Ammonia 0 Nitrate >10 Nitrate (Test is in increments of 10 measuring the Nitrate ion) .2 phosphate.  <yowsa! on the phosphates! And that is just measuring inorganic phosphate... your organic levels are likely much higher. If this isn't tested for in your tap water, then something is seriously wring with your nutrient export processes (like skimmers commonly... most are adjusted/able to produce the necessary 4-8 oz dark daily skimmate per 50-100 gallon tank water> I am unable to test for Silicates as that I know of no test for such. I have also noticed less growth with fewer water changes.  <exactly... again, nutrients (like fresh minerals... and perhaps phosphate) from new seawater get used/exhausted between water changes. That doesn't mean that water changes are bad (!) but that your nutrient export processes aren't good (better pre-filtration of source water, skimming of tank water)> I was changing 10% weekly (10 Gallons) and now do them every 2-3 weeks with better results.  <not better for tank overall...just starving algae along with everything else> Oh, by the way I am using a EV 90 Sump Skimmer by Aqua C ( I read good reviews about the products and thought I would try )  <agreed> I did have prism when the tank was first setup.  <sorry to hear that> I believed the box and its claim to be good for up to 90 Gallons,  <hehe... I love this country> it now works well on a 29. I also have a another question. I have recently found Bob Goemans books. I am very interested in his plenum plan.  <do read/research the earliest/original source of all plenum technologies in captive aquariology... Jaubert 1981> I have read about it before but the detail he went into pretty much sold me. What are your feelings?  <really too long to describe here...for that we'll need to meet at an aquarium society meeting and have a few beers. I'll say this though... plenums set up properly by the average aquarist for the average "garden" reef tank do not help or hurt. That is based on my experience as a coral farmer for a decade... in my operation, I used 20,000 lbs of aragonite alone just in my coral culturing vessels. I produced over 10,OOO colonies of Xenia in that time...blah, blah, blah... And in systems set up with and without plenums (but otherwise maintained identically)... there was no difference. The magic of DSB methodologies is all in sand depth. The more the better. Less than three inches and you will fail. Closer to 5+ with fine grain...Aces with good current and husbandry> At this point with my tank I will try anything. Perhaps the rock could be a problem? I ordered the Rock, premium uncured Walt Smith Fiji, from FFexpress on Sept 10 for delivery on the 11.  <Uggh. Somebody should start a campaign to dissuade aquarists from handling uncured rock. It ends up costing you more money in sea salt, water changes and labor!> Well I did not see the rock till the 12th late in the day. Upon opening it smelled bad,  <very normal... it had been out of water for 7-14 days most likely) bad enough to sit in the garage for 3 weeks. Once the smell died away it was another 10-14 days till I got the ammonia and nitrate to fall off to 0.  <a shame... I'm sorry you had to go through the aggravation> I had about 20 pounds of base rock and no problems before the Fiji. Perhaps this tank is doomed to be redone and place my few fish in a 30 till I redo it.  <I don't follow on what you mean by "redo". If we are still talking about the red slime algae...as I mentioned before, it is an incredibly simple symptom to cure. No real labor involved. Just increase water flow to prevent detritus from accumulating, and skim very aggressively for a couple of weeks. At the same time, figure out if there is a nutrient problem (Feeding practice, phosphate in tap, etc) The wife should love that, just what I need is another tank. I turned on one light and everyone seems happy.  <please do get the lights on... really unnatural and inappropriate> Something else odd is I removed all the old substrate a month ago and it smelled bad when I stirred it up for removal. <Holy cow!!! Massive nutrients stirred in top the system!!! There's you cyano food brother!> It was not very thick only 1-2" in places and is was some Samoan Pink Crushed Coral stuff.  <less than three inches of sand is fatal... must be three inches plus or less than half inch... otherwise to develop a nutrient sink that feeds nuisance growths...hmmmmm? familiar?> But the Cyanobacteria would grow on the bare glass. <because of the dissolved organics in the water... this is all about nutrients my friend> Thanks again for all your help. It is so difficult to find someone helpful in Western WA. They are unable to help for the most part and don't even know what they are selling, mistaking a Koran for an Imperator. And those with the knowledge are afraid to part with it so some reason, I am sure the got into the hobby out of love for the trade and after years they feel tied to it and begin to resent it and thus become grouchy. Perhaps I will begin a store of my own someday. <excellent...never enough informed, empathetic retailers... I hope that you do and do it well! Anthony> Thanks again, Joseph M Howell
Re: Cyanobacteria
Well the lights are on and the tank is clean and clear. The fish seem unaffected by the lights being off. On the subject of measurable phosphate I had .2 which I thought was good as with all publications I have read say >1.0 is ideal. <Keep reading... O.O is ideal... more is less> As I meant with 'redo' was to tear down the tank and install a plenum system. But I am still unsure as to its use. You claim it is neither bad nor good and I have yet to see it in use in someone's tank. This is uncharted territory for me and with every article I read regarding it as good I find another stating its faults. The amount of information I have ingested over this Cyanobacteria is alarming, every time I see a algae cure claim I read it. Everything from "magic" algae eating crabs to elixirs and tonics. I have read numerous books but for some reason I always come back to wetwebmedia and Mr. Fenner's teachings. I truly respect the man and envy those who get to work with him. <You are doing so> As a suggestion in the revised edition of his book Conscientious Marine Aquariust include more on algae and Cyanobacteria please the section in his book is small and little help. ( This is a strong suggestion for the man to release another book or update his old one ) I have a paperback copy and have read it to the point the spine has disappeared and the pages fall out. This is one of my first books and still a favorite. But back to my question. I will keep the lights on and watch the tank for a couple of weeks to see is another bacteria blooms occurs. I will change 15 gallons this week and watch for problems. If after a while, in theory, I should add enough aragonite sand to fill roughly the tank to a three inch depth? <I would do so> Should grain size matter or should I mix a few sizes accordingly?  <Does. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm and the links beyond> Another possible problem is my water. I can smell the chlorine when I shower and at times taste it. I use a Kent Marine TFC 24 gpd R/O and I am hoping to add a deionizer eventually but their initial cost and upkeep keep my away. I will also look into more tank water movement. In a 90 ( 48"x18" ) would 3-4 Rio 1700 or 2500 be to much on a wavemaker, I think it will control 4 powerheads, be to much?  <Not too much> I would situate them opposing so as to create turbulence would be my best guess. I must again thank you for your time. Does Mr. Fenner still run a store in CA?  <No my friend... our companies stopped in 1991> If he does I would like to meet y'all and shake your hand. I have decided to look into a small business if only for myself and my friends and to hopefully grow and include more friends.  <Ahh, the pleasure> I had to purchase a powerhead today and watched a shop owner sell a couple a fish tank, filter, gravel, food and fish today for their children. I felt bad for the family and decided to not purchase my powerhead and confront the salesman on his error and inform the couple of the likelihood of the survival of the fish. Fish are a great hobby and an occasional stress reducer except in times of crisis (Cyanobacteria ). Once again thank you much. I only hope I can one day help others as you have helped me. <You will do so. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Joseph M Howell

Cyanobacteria <greetings, Anthony Calfo here> I have had a problem with Cyanobacteria for months now. On advice from another hobbyist in the Tank Maintenance field he suggested that I turn off my lights.  <bizarre...it is not dependently photosynthetic!> I have had them off for 4 days now and I noticed significantly less algae in 36 hours. Are my lights the problem?  <absolutely unrelated...cyano can be controlled by increased water movement, aggressive protein skimming and improved Redox potential... but not by turning the lights out. There is some concurrent activity at hand here> I am running 6 4' 40watt fluorescent tubes, 1 50/50, 2 Actinic, and 3 20,000 lux. They are about 6-7 months old, I know they need to be changed but I have had this algae for 4-5 months. I was also told that I need Metal Halides to keep the rock 'alive' they claimed that my lack of light was causing my rock to slowly die off and release excess nutrients that was feeding my Cyanobacteria.  <if this is the same person that told you to turn your lights off, congratulations... you now know at least one crack addict... hehe. I suspect you mention this because you doubt it to be true yourself. Your cyano exists because you have excess nutrients. Excess nutrient should be from overfeeding or overstocking... but they can just as easily occur in a tank that is not either... but has weak current (dead spots where detritus accumulates) and/or a skimmer that doesn't produce 4-8 oz of dark skimmate DAILY! The nutrients accumulate and slime algae occurs...simple.> I have had no coralline algae growth in this tank.  <that has to do with free calcium and alkalinity levels... dose to maintain dKH at 10-12, and free calcium over 360ppm> It was also suggested to increase my tank movement and a possible wave maker.  <will indeed reduce algae m but should not be necessary... without export of the nutrients through the skimmer or water changes, the cyano will still grow> I will begin with the lights if you think it may be a cause. I have also noticed the fish seem happier in a subdued lighting setting. The tank looks great, no Cyanobacteria. I almost gave up and tossed all my rock.  <would have been a real shame...they have nothing to do with each other> I removed all of it and recycled it for 2 weeks. It looked great so I put it back in the tank and within 6 days the bacteria was back.  <again, the problem is in the tank (nutrient export processes being weak) not with the rock> I have also noticed my skimmer working less with the lights off?  <no explanation...but a promise that the dead algae that didn't get skimmed out with the lights off will come back with a vengeance from the dissolved organics if you don't get a better skimmer. Do you have a Red Sea/Berlin/Prism?> Please help. If I need lights should I go with 1 or 2 halides and VHO setup? <VHO will be fine if you don't intend to go hardcore reef. Anthony> Sincerely, Joseph M Howell

Re: At my wits end (test kits... make that BGA control) Thanks Steve for the input. My lighting is 2 32 watt smart compact bulbs and one 32 watt actinic smart compact. I haven't had a chance to get an alkalinity or calcium test kit yet. Could you recommend one? <I just got some new Salifert kits and like them a lot.> The red slime is slowly, well actually returning at a moderate pace. I neglected to tell you that I had some animals die off. I did a water change about 25-50%. I thought that was enough but I guess that it wasn't. What can I do to halt the return of the red slime. I understand that I may not eradicate it, but I would like to decrease it to a minimum. Thanks for your further input it is greatly appreciated. -Valerie <In general, increasing water motion while decreasing nutrients through efficient skimming, regular water changes, and use of purified water. -Steven Pro>

need your help, Red Slime Problems Hi Mr. Fenner - <You actually got Steven Pro today, part of the WWM crew.> I have been reading every article I can find on phosphates and must admit I am slightly overwhelmed and confused as to what to do next ~ (I went all through the FAQ's in Flying Fish Express and then went on to web media - Let me cut to the chase and give you a brief background: My reef tank is well established, have had it for 7 years - 135 gal. Lighting - 2 superactinics (on 14 hrs/day) and 4 actinics (on for 12 hrs/day). <Do you really have just blue light? Interesting.> My filtration is wet-to-dry (same bioballs that I started with) - a venturi skimmer with a 2500 hp Rio pump. The additives that I use (approx. every 8-10 days) are CombiSan, Potassium Iodide, Strontium Chloride, and B-Ionic Buffer System (made by ESV). Temperature runs around 79-80 degrees, water checks routinely reveal a SG of 1.022 or 1.023, ph 8.0, calcium runs around 450-500, no ammonia, blah blah - phosphates are at 2.0 and the red slime algae is making me crazy. So, my research told me I was doing all the right stuff - good lighting (bulbs just changed 3 weeks ago) good current (I have two supplemental powerheads inside the tank itself) and never overfeed. My tank fish have only been fed twice a week since the inception of this tank. (a purple tang, two clownfish, a flame angel, six line wrasse, derasa clam, coral-banded shrimp, hermit crabs (blue legged) Astrea snails take up residence with live rock, various mushrooms, yellow star polyps, leather, green bubble, anchor, hammer and Goniopora corals.) I use distilled water (that I always buy from the same place) - checked that for phosphates before using - got a zero reading. <Two things. Distilled water is almost always a no-no. Usually the water is distilled in large metal vessels where it can pick up copper, aluminum, etc. Definitely not the best choice. Usually more economical to purchase your own RO unit. Secondly, hobbyist test kits can only test for inorganic phosphate and will not show a reading for organic forms of phosphate. So the water may test cleanly, but be loaded with undetectable amounts.> I have been doing "mini" water changes once a week as that seemed the next logical step in trouble shooting. Last night I siphoned a large quantity of red slime off of the crushed coral and actually go in with a toothbrush (not my personal one, thank you) and brush the red slime algae off the live rock - tank looked great. Now 24 hours later the red slime algae is back just as bad as it was yesterday!!!! (aaarrrrrgghhh!!!) What should be my next step? A light over the sump? Should I continue doing weekly water changes? <Yes, but probably with different source water.> Should I consider getting a bigger and better skimmer? <Does your skimmer fill its couple several times per week? If not, clean the skimmer and pump thoroughly and try readjusting it for optimum performance. You want to fill the collection cup several times weekly with skimmate the color of tea to coffee.> You also mentioned Caulerpa algae, but I am not familiar with that. <It is a macroalgae that can be used to out compete other nuisance algaes and harvested for nutrient export.> I am not crazy about using one of those "phosphate removers" but will do whatever you recommend. <I am not a big fan of those products either. Again, it is cheaper in the long run to pay for great source water than having to buy special removers later and go through headaches.> Sorry this is so wordy. Please let me know if you need any other info. I am going to submerse my head in the tank while I await your reply due to my frustration!~ (only kidding, of course) I appreciate any advice you can offer. Thanks much. Gina Pharo <I hope I have been helpful. -Steven Pro>

Re: Algae after fallowing tank... Bob or Anthony I have my replies below with **. >Bob, ><Anthony Calfo up at bat, my friend> >I reread the section you have on BGA. Here is my problem... >My tank has been mainly devoid of fish and normal feeding patterns >during the fallow period when the outbreak started. I have a prism >skimmer running non stop, ><I don't have a favorable opinion about this model yet... are you >getting 3-5oz of dark skimmate DAILY from this unit... if not,  >adjust >until you do and enjoy the nuisance algae in the meantime...hehe> ** I easily getting this amount. "Dark" is relative! It is ugly green/brown and smells! But should I buy something better for this 55g? Berlin? <Agreed... dark as in closer to coffee than tea. As far as another skimmer, I don't have a strong opinion about Berlins on Reef systems> >have 14 hours of compact lighting running >at 220watts, have three MaxiJet 1200 pumps running, and a Fluval  >304. >I recently removed my aquaclear 300 in favor of a HOT Magnum filter  >I >just received. ><rinsed and cleaned regularly I hope...not allowed to go  >biological?> ** The HOT filter has been cleaned twice this week. All my other filters are cleaned at least monthly. I keep DETAILED logs. I removed HOT filter this morning and put Aquaclear 300 back in place with media, floss, and charcoal. Which filter were you warning about going "biological"? <any media (including carbon) left long enough (over one month) will become decidedly biological. Your cleaning schedule sounds great but way more work than I would care to do> >Over last two weeks I slowed down water changes thinking that might >have been pushing things along. I have green algae growing like mad >from the extra light. ><needs nutrient as much or more than light...is rarely the >catalyst alone> >I have not overfed. ><remember that the little things count...frozen foods are to be  >thawed >and STRAINED... pack juice is rich in dissolved organics that fuel >nuisance algae. Two feedings of frozen food or more weekly can add >some serious dissolved organic fertilizer in a short time> ** Makes sense but I was not feeding anything in the tank while fish were removed....except small chunk of shrimp once per week to anemone, it was frozen, thawed and rinsed. I had purchased from local fish market... I cooked and ate their bigger brothers. I am feeding lightly now but BGA was already in control! <hehe...excellent> >I have an anemone, blue legged hermits and many snails, and 70 lbs  >of >liverock. ><excellent> >I have "vacuumed" the tank twice this week with the HOT magnum and  >its >attachments. Not a bad HOT for this activity. Especially since the >price was $35 on-line verses list of $90 at the LFS. >Should I change water more or less frequently? ><more is almost always better...what is your source water like?> ** I vacuumed tank this morning removing >95% visible BGA. Had to clean HOT Magnum, left out of tank for now. >Should I increase or decrease light? ><little matter with good nutrient export processes (skimmers/water >changes, etc)> >Should I lower temp (currently at 77 degrees)? ><nope...you are already on the lower end> >If I add more pumps for water circulation my fish are going to have >heart attacks! ><nope.. and a good idea, may help to inhibit the algae> >They look they are on a treadmill, I almost have a vortex in the  >middle >of the tank! ><have you seen the wave action on a reef? as long as your flow is >random turbulent and not severely linear you'll be fine> ** Yes I have while diving, but try to stay out of the rough stuff!! >Thanks for quick response!! ><low pH (below 8.3) and low Redox (below 350mv) also are conducive  >to nuisance algae growth...please confirm> ** Tested water this morning here are the details.... Ammonia has risen to < .1 , not surprised here since I have been adding fish over the week. Nitrite = 0 Nitrate .2 measured on low scale. PH has fallen this week from 8.2 to 8.0 , will add buffer and get back over next few days. GH > 200, very hard! anything can be (should be) done? KH = 70, Goes with low PH, I guess.... snuck up on me! Temp = 77 degrees. >Dale ><best regards, Anthony> <actually, bud...it sounds like you are on track and working hard. I suspect it will not be much longer until you see the results you desire (weeks not months) Anthony>

Algae Hello, I?ve tried to refrain from writing you on this subject for as long as possible (I?ve been trying to do my own troubleshooting). However, circumstances have made it necessary to write you. I have a serious problem with a filamentous green algae that is over-growing the tank very quickly. I have read all of the information I can about this subject and have not found any help. I have checked all the water quality parameters and have found them to be in-check (i.e., undetectable levels of phosphate, nitrate, and nitrite). Also, I have included biological control methods such as a lawnmower blenny (which appears to do no good), about thirty hermits (blue and red leg ? again, no apparent help), and a Coral Beauty Angelfish (seems to eat the algae but certainly not fast enough). I use a skimmer some (depending on what I feed). The tank receives direct sunlight for about an hour (when it is not cloudy), normal sunlight (not direct) for about six hours, and actinic light for about six hours. I remove the algae about once a week but it is growing faster and faster. What do you think may be causing the algae? <A lack of competition, predation, sufficient nutrient, lighting...> How would you recommend controlling the algae? <Likely a blue-green algae/Cyanobacteria... the strategies for controlling this group are posted on WetWebMedia.com> Are there any algaecides that are safe for reef tanks? <No> Thank you, Kevin Cossel <Bob Fenner>

Algae after fallowing tank... Bob, Just put all fish back into my main 55g tank after 45 days of fallow. Added fish back over last 10 days. I have another problem. I now have a purple maroon algae that is quick growing. It is in the pictures attached. <Yep... a distinctive Blue-Green Algae, aka Cyanobacteria bloom> I have added hours of light to my daily schedule, but its not dying off yet. I changed some (90%) of substrate during fallow period, that seemed to start it. Can you tell what type it is and what action to take. <Please read over the algae control, BGA sections on the Marine Index on WetWebMedia.com> Fish are all doing well after treatment in treatment tanks. Thanks for advice last time... You saved some fish and a hobbyist! Dale <Glad for both! Bob Fenner>
Re: Algae after fallowing tank...
Bob, <Anthony Calfo up at bat, my friend> I re-read the section you have on BGA. Here is my problem... My tank has been mainly devoid of fish and normal feeding patterns during the fallow period when the outbreak started. I have a prism skimmer running non stop, <I don't have a favorable opinion about this model yet... are you getting 3-5oz of dark skimmate DAILY from this unit... if not, adjust until you do and enjoy the nuisance algae in the meantime...hehe> have 14 hours of compact lighting running at 220watts, have three MaxiJet 1200 pumps running, and a Fluval 304. I recently removed my aquaclear 300 in favor of a HOT Magnum filter I just received.  <rinsed and cleaned regularly I hope...not allowed to go biological?> Over last two weeks I slowed down water changes thinking that might have been pushing things along. I have green algae growing like mad from the extra light.  <needs nutrient as much or more than light...is rarely the catalyst alone> I have not overfed. <remember that the little things count...frozen foods are to be thawed and STRAINED... pack juice is rich in dissolved organics that fuel nuisance algae. Two feedings of frozen food or more weekly can add some serious dissolved organic fertilizer in a short time> I have an anemone, blue legged hermits and many snails, and 70 lbs of liverock. <excellent> I have "vacuumed" the tank twice this week with the HOT magnum and its attachments. Not a bad HOT for this activity. Especially since the price was $35 on-line verses list of $90 at the LFS. Should I change water more or less frequently? <more is almost always better...what is your source water like?> Should I increase or decrease light? <little matter with good nutrient export processes (skimmers/water changes, etc)> Should I lower temp (currently at 77 degrees)? <nope...you are already on the lower end> If I add more pumps for water circulation my fish are going to have heart attacks! <nope.. and a good idea, may help to inhibit the algae> They look they are on a treadmill, I almost have a vortex in the middle of the tank! <have you seen the wave action on a reef? as long as your flow is random turbulent and not severely linear you'll be fine> Thanks for quick response!! <low pH (below 8.3) and low Redox (below 350mv) also are conducive to nuisance algae growth...please confirm> Dale
<best regards, Anthony>

Red Algae Bob, This red slimy algae has showed up on this piece of live rock. It seems to be spreading. Any concerns and do you know what it is??? <Yes to concerns... this is almost certainly a type of BGA/Cyanobacteria... please read over its biology, control on WetWebMedia.com perhaps starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and the links, faqs files beyond. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance.
John Kummer

Cyanobacteria! Mr. Fenner, <Actually, you got Steven Pro today. Anthony Calfo and I have been asked to help Bob out with some of the daily questions.> I've wrote to you about this before, but, I've just about had it this time. I have a 150g f/0 tank with a Naso, yellow, and hippo tang, clown trigger 4", and a lunare wrasse. I have an Oceanic protein skimmer in my sump and an aqua U.V sterilizer. I have 2 airstones and two return tubes that go back into the tank. I put an extra pump in the tank thinking I needed more circulation but that didn't help. I have been feeding the fish less but that didn't help. I have put red slime remover in and that helps a little but then it comes back again. I wonder if my protein skimmer is adequate. How much water should I get in the cup each week? <A good quality skimmer that is functioning properly should need to be emptied at least twice per week. The skimmate (crud) should be dark like a cup of hot tea or coffee.> I'm out of things to try and I am really frustrated. I love having this tank but this constant cyano is driving me crazy. Please help me!!!! <Another suggestion is to use purified water for your water changes and top off, if you are not already doing so.> Kevin Ballard

BGA Bob, I read on WWM that you get more questions about BGA than just about anything else.  <A very common/unpopular topic for sure> Sorry to bug you about that subject now. I've read all the FAQ's (there are a lot there) and the article on WWM and I read CMA. Still I'm having trouble. I have a 55g (should be 55k for all the money I put into it) <Ha!> with more than a dozen soft and LPS corals. I don't have any fish...just a Lysmata shrimp and other necessary crustaceans and snails. I'm a sucker for corals. Evidently I'm a sucker for BGA, as well. For the last couple months it has covered the substrate and now it's jumping up the coralline covered live rock. My phosphates are zero or one degree above zero on the test. I don't feed the tank anything except a synthetic water change every two weeks. I do dose with iodide but that's it. <No other so-called supplements... including sugar-based reef ones?> Since I have no fish to feed, I don't think I have much in the way of dissolved organics. My skimmer fills the cup about a quarter of the way each week. I have some Caulerpa racemosa growing well. I have 288 watts worth of PC's. The corals are growing and splitting among the 125 pounds of live rock. I noticed perhaps a slight change for a day or two when I put a fresh bag of activated carbon in the skimmer's flow path. Speaking of flow, most of the BGA is swaying in the current. I don't think I have a stagnation or aeration problem.  <Perhaps dissolved oxygen is though...> I read also, according to Albert Thiel, that when the lights start to lose their spectrum that BGA can bloom without any nutrient overdoses. <Yes, this is so> But the BGA came on strong about 2 months ago, when these bulbs were only about 6 months old. <This may be all these lamps are good for... Do check with the manufacturer re effective age, spectral drift, lumen depreciation... or a lux meter... I would likely switch them out (half every two weeks)> Would it be useful to replace these bulbs with 10,000k bulbs now? <Yes> Any ideas about my situation before I replace a couple expensive bulbs?  <I would add more aeration as well. Perhaps a Zebrasoma, Ctenochaetus species tang to "keep things stirred up". Oh, another item: Have you considered growing macro-algae? In the 55, or even better in a lighted sump tied into the main system?> I consider 6 months a little premature to lose useful spectrum. The lights are made by Philips; a decent company, I thought. <Yes, one of the best on the planet IME> Thanks for all the help available on this website. I use it a lot to augment my casual perusal of all the information that's available. It's much better than re-reading all my college Bio texts that I didn't sell back to Cal State! -Dan <Ah, good to be of service, have the company. Bob Fenner>

cyano and gelatin-based foods Hi Bob, I read your article on blue-green algae and would like to ask a question about something you said in it: "Be especially leery of liquid invertebrate and gelatin based frozen foods these are notorious sources of DOC." Which frozen foods are gelatin based? <A bunch of them... including the O.N. ones listed below unfortunately> I feed a mixture of Formulas 1 and 2 and some of the other frozen "Formulas" from Ocean Nutrition, plus spirulina and Omega-3 enriched frozen brine shrimp from SF Bay Brine Shrimp, and I'm wondering if these are the types of foods you were talking about in your article. <Just the Formula ones... Wish I had been able to convince Chris (Turk) to switch to alginates, other binders. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Robert Kronisch
Re: cyano and gelatin-based foods
Hi Bob, Thanks for the quick reply. Just to clarify, you said "Just the Formula ones...", by that you mean all the different formula foods from Ocean Nutrition, not just Formula One, right? <Sorry for the confusion... all the formulated foods by Ocean Nutrition are gelatin based/stuck together. Bob Fenner> Thanks again, Robert
Re: cyano and gelatin-based foods
Thanks again, Bob. Maybe that is the missing link in my battle against cyano! Robert <Too likely... There are other "sugar" based products on the market... e.g. vital this and that... that are similar "bad jokes". Bob Fenner>
Re: cyano and gelatin-based foods
Sorry, one last question: Can you recommend any frozen foods without gelatin that would provide good nutrition for my fish (false Percula, pygmy angel, Midas blenny, orchid Dottyback)? The Hikari line... Gamma Foods... San Francisco Bay Brand... Making your own is great... and comparatively inexpensive... especially if you use a bunch. Bob Fenner> Thanks again, I really really really appreciate your help! RK Re: cyano and gelatin-based foods I don't use any of those things. The only things I put in my tank are fish food and kalkwasser, plus water changes of course. Robert <I see. Bob Fenner>
Re: cyano and gelatin-based foods
Thanks again, I will look for those foods. <Very well. Bob Fenner>

Help - Cyanobacteria (maybe) (see pic below) Dear Mr. Fenner, <Howdy> I believe my 55G mini-reef tank has a bad case of Cyanobacteria (blue-green slime algae). This tank has been up for almost 1 year. I am attaching two photos of it so you can see what I am talking about. <I believe you're right> Does the brown slimy stuff covering the rocks look like cyano to you? If not, could you please help me identify what is taking over the live rock in my tank? <Looks like it, can't make definitive identity w/o a microscopic look... Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and the links beyond> I have read your web site discussions on how to deal with cyano.  <Oh!> I have a 15G sump filled with Caulerpa with the lights on 24x7. Nitrate at 0. pH stuck at 8.0. Buffers do not seem to have any effect. Ca at 350. I do not (yet) have a phosphate test kit. <I might get one> I have been using Albert Thiel's Redox+ (Potassium permanganate) for the last week or so, but I do not yet see any improvement.  <Be careful here... KMnO4 is a powerful oxidizer... easy to get in trouble with> His literature says it can take around 3 weeks to see it disappear. My skimmer (Seaclone) has been producing slightly more skimmate since I started using the Redox+. Do you have any experience with Redox+? Do you think the product is worth using to help remedy this problem? <Much Redox experience... A few things to state re the above... do look into a better skimmer for this size, type system... reduction oxidation potential can be "raised" by simple aeration, circulation increase...> I received your CMA book for Christmas and have been learning much. I know I need to do much more frequent water changes. I have started to do this now. <Changing your system is and should be like "steering a large ship with a small rudder"... take your time... you will get "there" with the incremental improvements you list. Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance,
Jay Schudel

Help Again! (seemingly sudden outbreak of BGA... old lamps? nutrient influx? who knows?) Hello Bob, I've had a healthy successful reef tank for the last 7 months. All of a sudden I've had an out-break of Red Slime algae (I think it's call Cyanobacteria?)  <Yes> Unless I'm going nuts, I haven't done anything differently since this problem started about 3 weeks ago. I did add more light about a month ago (total of 120wPC light 30gal tank) and one Cherry/Blood/Fire shrimp (what ever they're called...LOL). <Lysmata debelius by all other names> This red slime is starting to coat everything. it started on top of the substrate, and now is spreading over my live rock. I've tried to suck it up in small amounts by doing a 1-2 gal water change weekly since the problem has started. I've cut down on feeding (every other day now) and increased circulation (added another power head). I've added a few Scarlet Hermits and a few more Astrea Snails as well. I've also kept the ph 8.3-8.4 (I've read this helps). After doing all of this for about 2 weeks now, it seems to be getting worse? Basically I've done everything according to information (for my entire system) that I've read on your site, so I think I'm on the right track? PLEASE HELP BOB! Thanks again! The information on your site has been a great help to me. Thanks, Curvin <Have you read over the sections on Algae, their control? Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm, then on to the accompanying FAQs... and consider the possible steps listed their for control, and what others have done. Bob Fenner>

Stubborn Algae (7 Months and Counting) Bob, Have an algae problem that has me stumped. My tank is 16 Months Old, 120 gallon, live rock, reef setup. 2-175Wat MH and 2 65 Watt Blue Actinic. Tank is doing just fine other than an algae problem that started in the heat of the summer (Central Valley, California) and it just won't go away. The Algae is a lime green type film that covers the front glass and back wall and it comes back literally overnight after I scrape it off. When you do scrape it creates sort of a green cloud as it is removed from the glass. <Hmmm Mmm> Phosphates and Silicates are 0, I have a Kent Marine Silicamaxx R/O/DI unit that I have been using since day one. I make my water up in the garage in covered containers and I noticed the problem started right around the beginning of summer when it is HOT where I live. I put a clear waste water hose on my R/O unit and have noticed the same algae in the waste tube. The R/O water shows no Phosphate or Silicates but I'm wondering if it is possible that this stuff is growing in my Filter and transferring itself to the tank. I figured if it was due to the heat this stuff would die off in the winter, but it is still cranking away. <Not likely the water> I have replaced all of my filters a couple of times except for the actual Membrane filter which runs about $100. Do you think it is possible this is my problem and that it can still be living during these cold winter months? <Yes... it IS still there...> I have tried Phosphate sponges in the tank and no luck. Sometimes I notice air bubbles on the glass, when the algae is really going strong. Stumped and sick of scraping, any ideas? <This is very likely a case of blue-green algae, aka Cyanobacteria (you can check easily with a decent microscope)... These protists are tough to rid a system of once established... they have the capacity to alter their environment, make it more beneficial to their life form and less viable to potential space and nutrient competitors, predators... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm  and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the many associated FAQs... more circulation, using macro-algae... many other avenues for you to consider in developing your eradication strategy. Bob Fenner> Thanks,
J- Godfrey

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

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