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FAQs on Brown, Diatom, Dinoflagellate Algae 2

Related FAQs: Diatom Control 1, Diatom Control 3, Diatom Control 4, Algae ControlMarine Algicide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; Controlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Green AlgaeSilicates

Related Articles: Algae Control, Marine Maintenance, 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, Blue-Green "Algae"/(Cyanobacteria)Diatoms, Brown Algae

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Placement of probe to measure ORP Thanks for the earlier help, I've got a strange question that I can't seem to find an answer to anywhere. <Okay> A few weeks ago I started to get a diatom bloom in the aquarium.  On the glass, coating the sand, etc.  I purchased a silica test kit to see if I could track down the source of the silicate, and some PhosGuard (Seachem) to get rid of what was in the tank.  Well, the readings in the tank are going down (started at 2 ppm -- per Red Sea Silica Test), current reading is about .75 ppm. <So far, so good. Very many systems have initial cyclical diatom scum outbreaks...> I've traced the source of the silica to my top-off/change water which is supplied by a 4-stage RO/DI filter.  When I tested the tap water the silica reading is off the chart.  According to the local water company quality reports I should expect to see 8.7 to 12 ppm at the tap. <Yowzah!>   Once the water has been through the RO (but not the DI) I see a drop, but it's still above  1ppm.  Post-DI doesn't seem to be a difference. <Shouldn't... the silica, likely as silicate is not ionic... it's not a charged (as in valence) chemical species. Take a look on the Net re what deionization is/does... perhaps a H.S. or college level chemistry text.> The strange part is that I have a TDS meter that measures both the water going into the RO (usually reading 24-32 ppm) and coming out of the RO (always 0 ppm).  Granted, the meter is reading anything in the water, but isn't zero = zero? <Something is awry here... total dissolved solids includes silicates> In a nutshell, I'm confused as to how to get the last of the silica out of the water supply, or if I should just deal with it through regular use of PhosGuard. <You are possibly "overthinking" the situation here... If it were me/my system/responsibility I would either simply ignore the small amount of resulting silica OR look to have it "taken up" in the living processes of the life in your system. Get some live rock, purposeful algae going (perhaps in a living sump/refugium) and you will quickly find there is no "silica problem" and no need to use chemical filtrants> I've provided links to the products referenced in case it helps. Thanks in advance.  Sean Silica Test ( http://www.marinedepot.com/md_viewItem.asp?idProduct=RS3129) PhosGuard ( http://www.marinedepot.com/md_viewItem.asp?idProduct=SC3259) Water Filter ( http://www.aquariumwaterfilters.com/RODI/Barracuda.html) <Much appreciated. Sean, do you understand the concepts of "cycling" and "nutrient availability"? There is nothing wrong with having some silicate, some diatom smears at first... these too shall pass. Bob Fenner>

- Circulation and Diatom Blooms - Dear Bob, Jason C., or whomever: <JasonC again... greetings.> Just wanted to thank you for your reply to my recent questions.  My 180 gallon marine tank is now up and running and so far all is going well.  I do however, have a question or two about a light brown coating beginning to appear on the sand substrate.  The tank has been running now for about one week, and the sand substrate has finally settled down and the water is slowly clearing.  However, a light brown film is developing on the substrate that I will assume is a diatom outbreak. <You are correct.> I am surprised by this because I have taken every measure known to prevent this from happening. <Not necessarily 'preventable' but often the first part of a series of succession... to be followed by other green algae. Likely you were not able to rinse the new substrate as well as you might have thought.> Please note that this setup imported about 30 gallons of water and roughly 50 pounds of mature live rock that I had from another tank that I broke down and sold.  In addition, the new water is 100 percent RO/DI water mixed with Tropic Marin salt, an additional 110 pounds of live rock was purchased cured and hand-picked by myself, a Euro Reef CS8-1 Skimmer has been going from day one, a filter bag with Phosguard is being used just beneath the water return in the sump, and the water flow in the tank itself is more than adequate with two strong return flows from the Mag 18 pump and two additional MaxiJet 1200 powerheads. <I would at least double this number... in a 180 you could put a half dozen of these and still have dead-areas with little or no circulation.> Three fish (a purple tang, pygmy angel, and Scott's fairy wrasse) were brought over to this tank from the aquarium I broke down.  I ran a series of water quality tests and all seems well:  1.0238 specific gravity, 8.1 pH, 9 Dkh, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 5 nitrate.  Here are my questions:  If this is a diatom bloom should I simply ride it out and not be too concerned? <Is what I would do... am doing, just moved from one tank to another myself and am experiencing similar circumstances.> There are no corals in this tank, only live rock, some mushroom anemones, and the three fish.  Should I reduce the photoperiod? <Will have some effect.> Presently, I run 120 watts of actinic fluorescent from 12 hours, and 192 watts of power compacts 50/50 Smartlamps for 10 hours.  Adding additional flow to the tank seems unnecessary, and if the water flow is too low the sand gets disrupted and sent into the water column. <I would disagree... having been diving on only a couple of reefs, what is immediately obvious to me is that there is no practical way to have 'too much' circulation. Most reef fish are accustomed to circulation rates of tens to hundreds of millions of gallons per hours... sometimes per minute.> I was considering a couple of the white sand sifting starfish, but I'm not sure how many for a tank of this size. <I'd skip these and instead get your hands on some Nassarius snails.> Are these worth the investment? <Not in my opinion... will destroy much of the useful fauna in the sandbed.> By the way, the rock and glass do not (yet) show any signs of this growth, so I'd like to keep it in check right now if I can.  Any suggestions? <More circulation.> Thanks for all of your help.  Sam M.   <Cheers, J -- >

- Circulation and Diatom Blooms, Follow-up - Dear Jason C.: <Hi.> Thanks for your quick response last week to my questions. <My pleasure.> I plan to follow your suggestions, and I have already added 80 Nassarius snails and 25 Cerith snails to the tank to help stir the sandbed.  However, they are so small in a tank this size (180 gallons) that more will likely be needed down the road. <I doubt it.> In addition to the light brown diatom growth on the sand, a reddish growth has also appeared and seems to be expanding at a fast rate.  It is growing heavily in those areas with low water flow and direct light, and is beginning to creep up along the base of the glass tank walls.  Given its color (red -- almost a magenta), I'll assume this is a form of Cyanobacteria. <Same stuff... different color.> I have several questions about how to deal with this.  First, to increase the water flow I'm going to need to install a pair of powerheads near the front of the tank.  In a setup as new as this one -- up and running for only 2-1/2 weeks -- the sandbed is far from settled and any strong, direct current will send the sand into suspension.  Any suggestions on powerhead placement to help avoid this, or do you just let the powerheads roll and worry about straightening the sand bed later? <Actually, I like to put a layer of more coarse, heavier gravel over top of a fine-particle sand bed - will stop the stuff from getting blown about.> I'm not a big fan of adding more powerheads, but what other choice is there? <It is your best choice.> Some of the books I have suggest that these growths are simply a part of the 'microbial' action necessary to bring a sand bed to life.  To just leave it alone and let it run it's course.  However others recommend stirring or even vacuuming the upper sand layer to disturb or remove unwanted growths.  What are your thoughts here? <This too shall pass.> A local marine aquarium store owner told me that the slime algae, in his opinion, seems to gain a foothold and proliferate in tanks using power compact lighting. Have you ever heard of such claims? <This will happen under any lighting.> Part of my lighting is 10 hours of two 96-watt 50/50 power compact lights, so I'm going to reduce it to 5 hours a day though my actinics will still run for 12 hours.  Agree or disagree? <Will help a little.> Finally, are there any additional critters you would suggest to help with this matter? <No.> For example, a brownbarred or decorator goby? <Don't eat Cyanobacteria.> Or, is this a waste of time and money given the fact that this is a new setup?  Sorry for all of the questions, but it's frustrating when you believe you've done everything correct and these growths appear so quickly. <Wouldn't be too frustrated - these things are part of the natural course of events.> Thanks for your time. Sam M. <Cheers, J -- >

Damnable Diatoms! >Hello, >>Hello. >I have a three month old 55 gal  tank with 40-50 lbs of live rock. Some coral and a few fish. I am having a huge problem with brown algae. I was told it is Diatom algae and that it is the first to attack new tanks. >>This is likely correct, as new tanks haven't got balanced or sufficient colonies of nitrifying bacteria and tend to have nutrients utilized by undesirables. >I was told to get Astrea snails and fighting conks. (spelling) >>Oh my.. what will these animals do, assuming they actually consume the diatoms, once it's consumed? >They have done very little to rid me of the problem. I siphon the bottom and clean the glass only to have it back in two days. I have a Tetratec 300 filter and a Red Sea skimmer. Two powerheads. What can I do to rid myself of this stuff? Thanks so much!  Melissa >>Well, Melissa, we have a couple of things going on here, especially with your efforts to rid the system of the bloom.  First, STOP wiping down the surfaces or siphoning (vacuuming).  You are removing the desirable benthic bacteria doing this.  This is not to say you can't or shouldn't do water changes, it means that you must try to leave these species of bacteria.  Second, let the diatoms starve THEMSELVES out, it's ugly, it's nasty, it's difficult to do, but once gone through, there should be few, if any, problems in the future.  Third, the animals you've added, to the best of my knowledge, consume microalgae, but not diatoms (I *could* be wrong about this, though).  Often we'll add animals to settle one problem, but if we feed them we give them an easier source of food (assuming they're not obligate feeders).  Now, without knowing what types of tests you've run on your water parameters, and not knowing how well that skimmer works, I can't speak very well to your hardware issues.  I'm not familiar with the Tetratec filter, but if it's a hang-on-tank type power filter, I must advise you that this will likely ultimately prove to be insufficient and unsuitable to the needs of whatever corals you have (unless you mean dead coral skeletons when you mention "some coral").  Also, "a few fish" tells me very little.  In terms of saltwater, a 55 gallon tank is VERY easy to overstock, especially if you've started out with juvenile fishes.  These also must be addressed, so look up the animals you have on http://www.fishbase.org or on our site's Google search engine, and determine what ultimate adult sizes they reach, as well as habits.  Marina

Newbie with Ammonia and Brown Algae?  Hi, first time in this world of saltwater aquarium and I am still a bit confused even after reading through all the FAQ's regarding ammonia spikes. What I have:  55 gal fish only tank  1 maroon clownfish  2 damsels  wet/dry unit with protein skimmer  tank is about 1.5 months old  pH: 8.2  gravity: 2.022  temp: 78F  I started with cycling the tank for about 3 weeks via pinching flake food everyday and then bought 2 damsels. Nothing happened, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate = 0. After about a week, I got a maroon clownfish (about 2.5") and after a week I got this huge ammonia spike reading 0.4, but no nitrites or nitrates.<the aquarium normally takes around 4-6 weeks to cycle...sometimes longer> I have changed the water twice this week (about 10gal each time) and added Cycle (this was Wednesday, Oct. 29).<I would not even bother to add that stuff "CYCLE"> The ammonia is reading last night was 0.2 and there is a lot of brown stuff at the bottom of my tank and walls.<ALGAE> Is that brown algae? <YUP, because of large amounts of organic matter> If so, is that a good sign or not?<it depends if you like brown algae or not lol> Should I add more Cycle? <NO> I also added a Phosphate bag in the sump to reduce the phosphates and there is also a bag of activated charcoal in there as well. The fish look fine, the clown fish looks the healthiest.<good> I only feed them once a day and none of the food really falls to the bottom.<you will just need to sit back and let this newer aquarium cycle>  Should I continue to change water at this rate? Should I be getting rid of the algae?<In order to get rid of the brown algae you will need to use RO (reverse osmosis) water when performing water changes, Good luck, IanB> Thanks a lot!

Silica and the use of it in aquariums II 11/7/03  But the article does talk about diatoms and silica sands, and says that there is no obvious diatoms inhibitor shall we say in using silica over aragonite sands. And that is exactly what I wanted to get your input on!<I think one of us is missing the point here, my friend... not sure who though <G>. I am not commenting on the anecdotal concerns of silica sand as a source of elemental silica for the growth of diatoms (composed of silica), but rather that the structural shape of the grains (angular versus oolitic) is the reason for algae like diatoms to settle faster (more conducive on sharp sand)>  So is it or is it not (silica) a diatoms conductor?  <I believe the question is moot... neither. I say this because any minor favor of grain size to diatom growth is minutia compared to the much bigger issues of nutrient control in an organically rich aquarium. Again, it is moot because your/our aquarium husbandry including nutrient export processes (skimming, water changes, carbon/ozone, etc) should be easily good enough to handle any small disadvantage or not to using silica sand. I cannot be any clearer than that, mate. Use silica sand confidently if you like. Most folks will benefit from the more natural media of aragonite instead (shape and composition, buffering ability, etc)>  thank you Mohammed  <wishing you the best. Anthony> 

Dinoflagellate Problem 7/31/03 Hi Guys, <...and Dolls [great... now the entire musical is running through my head <G>]> I think I have a Dinoflagellate problem (the fact that I can spell it however, is impressive). <depends on the company you keep... but who am I to steal your thunder. Heehee... oh, its one of those days :) > It's rust-brown, somewhat thin with occasional slimy looking strings with small bubbles on them, but I thought all algae had bubbles on it, no? <agreed... consistent with the diagnosis... although not unique to Dinos> Would it help if I posted a photo you could look at? <not really... several very different nuisance organisms it could be/look the same> I have my own web site so I could post a photo and give you a URL if that helps. It's not an out-of-control bloom but I'm concerned about my live rock. I have a few pieces that are just covered in lavender and deep red coralline algae but it seems this dinoflagellate algae is slowly eroding it in some places. The rest of the live rock which doesn't yet have large patches of coralline algae, have more of this algae growing on it.  Overall, the tank is doing reasonably well (55 gallon tank w/15 gallon sump, 60-70 lbs of live rock, 3" sand, older model Aqua-C protein skimmer tangs, clown fish, damsels, anemone, mushroom corals, a couple o' shrimp.) <its common in tanks with areas (or the whole tank) with weak water flow (approaching 10X or less) and especially in tanks with a flat pH (need to be 8.3 steady or higher IMO... and 8.6 for treating Dinos). Do test your nigh-time/AM pH... I suspect it is rather low (8.1-ish or lower)> I'm doing everything I can think of to eliminate/minimize nutrient export. very good> After reading your new book "Reef Invertebrates" (comments about that below) and Delbeek & Sprung's "The Reef Aquarium", it seems that all I can do is keep the pH up high enough, long enough via Kalkwasser, to make it crash, yes? <bada boom, bada bing...er, that is to say... Yes.> I'll soon be moving all this stuff to an 85 gallon tank with a higher turnover rate, Euro-Reef skimmer in a partitioned sump, and metal halide lighting. I don't want to sacrifice all this live rock and sand but I also don't want to transfer the Dinoflagellate either. Suggestions? <good heaves, no worries! No need to sacrifice this rock or any. Dinos simply wax and wane and really do not have so severe an impact on the internal life forms... just the pretty "stuff" on the surface you see at worst. Have faith... aggressive skimming, high and steady pH and Kalk will see you through in just few weeks. Anthony> Steve Bicker  Fenner>>

- Diatom Algae Problems - Hey, <Hello to you, JasonC here...> I have a 25 gallon reef tank. Just recently I have been having problems with diatom algae covering my sand and glass. The tank is about 8 months old and this has never happened before. Water: ph 8.3, temp. 80, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrates close to 0, Alk 10, Calcium 250. I have been dosing with Kalkwasser every night (the slurry method) and the calcium has not changed. I have been dosing for about a month now. I started having the diatom problem soon after I was dosing with Kalk. Will Kalk lead to this diatom bloom? <It shouldn't all on its own.> I have one Yellow Tang, one Black Clarki Clownfish, One Yellowheaded Jawfish, and one Cleaner Shrimp. <A few things come to mind here - the yellow tang is out of place in this system. These fish grow to the size of a dinner plate, and living in this tank is not good for its health. Likewise, you may have just enough biological load here, and if the fish are being fed too much... that could do it. Similarly, you might need an additional powerhead in the tank to boost the circulation a little. This often helps stop the algae from gaining a foothold in the first place.> I have a few hermits and a few snails, and one Sand Sifting Starfish. I use RO water when doing water changes and lately have aerating the RO before putting it in the tank. I switch out half of my carbon every two weeks, about 1/2 of a cup. <You might want to also test for phosphates.> Water changes are weekly, 5 gallons. What would be the best way to get rid of the diatoms? <Think about more circulation and perhaps cutting back on the food a little if you can. If you already feed lightly, then perhaps two small power heads.> Thanks for any advice to help me out! Chris Hepburn <Cheers, J -- >

Brown Algae Has Her Seeing RED! Hi, I have a 45 gallon marine tank. I have an undergravel filter with a large powerhead and an external filter. I have Tufa rock in my fish only tank. My tank is 12 weeks old. I have 2 small common clowns, 1 small Fiji blue damsel, 2 small humbug damsels and 1 large maroon clown. Since I have added my fish, I have started to get Brown spots all over the tank. Its not slimy or hairy and looks a bit 'rusty'. It is on my rocks but mainly on the sand. It is also down the side of the sand towards the bottom of the tank, like underneath it. There is none on the glass. I do regular water tests and they are all clear and normal. My fish are fine and get on well together, no problems there. I thought it could be brown algae, but it isn't slimy or like algae. I have read about macro and micro algae also diatoms Cyano and hair algae, but it appears to be none of those. Does this sound normal for a new tank? Is it something I need to worry about? How can I get rid of it? <Well, nuisance algae are very common in newly established tanks, with their abundant nutrients and limited (or at least, not "matured") export mechanisms. This really does sound to me like some kind of diatom or brown algae. Most of the diatom/brown algae outbreaks in captive systems are caused by silicates and phosphates in source water. You mentioned that you ran water tests...Did you test for these substances? Often times, even though the tank water tests "zero" or "undetectable" for these, many of these (nutrients) are bound up in the substrate, where they can form a "matrix" of material, more or less sustaining themselves.  Also, Tufa rock has a reputation as a great substrate to grow nuisance algae on in marine tanks! The key to all nuisance algae problems is nutrient control and export. This can be accomplished via a number of techniques, such as water changes with quality (RO/DI) source water, aggressive protein skimming, use of chemical filtration media (Poly Filter, carbon, etc.). You can read more about this by doing a search for "nuisance algae control" and "nutrient export" using the Google search feature on the WWM site>   Could I get some turbo snails or hermits? Could it be overfeeding or anything like that? <I am all for snails and other herbivores, but the secret is (surprise!) nutrient control and export...Don't let nutrients accumulate in the system, and develop efficient means to export hem from the system...it's as easy (and as difficult) as that! Oh- and a healthy dose of patience helps, too!> I do have a protein skimmer also. Please help. Thanks in advance Adele <Well, Adele- glad that you employ a skimmer...Make sure that it is producing at least a couple of cups of dark, yucky skimmate a week...Keep working on nutrient control- it works, and you'll see dramatic differences in the algae situation if you are patient and persistent...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Vacation Woes... >Hi Guys, >>And gals, Marina here. >Peace to you all... >>Aye, peace out, mate. >I have a 66 gallon tank (read filled to 55g) setup and running for 3 months now and the foll... 4 small damsels 3 medium clowns 2 bi color blennies 1 Orange Anthias 2 cleaner shrimp 1 fire shrimp 1 carpet anemone >I have a 3 inch coral substrate and it is brownish due to algae growth giving the tank a dirty look. >>Yes, diatomaceous bloom by the sound of it.  Excess nutrients OR light can both be culprits there. >Also have some calcareous rock that I collected from the ocean made up of shells and is very porous. >>Properly quarantined, yes? >I went on vacation for 2 weeks to Australia...Dived and Survived the Great Barrier Reef...AMAZING ! >>You cannot see how green with envy I am!  :p >When I returned I found my nitrates had sky rocketed to almost 70ppm from 5-10ppm...and thankfully my shrimp and anemone were living though I could see some serious aggression in the tank and hair algae flourishing. >>Ahh.. vacation woes. >Tired as I was after the 16 hour flight...I immediately did a fifty percent water change and bought some grape Caulerpa and introduced it to the tank. >>Dedicated, I like it.  Same as I would have done, though I  probably wouldn't have bothered to make the purchase of the Caulerpa, though, but it's an excellent idea. >2 weeks down the line I can see everyone cheerful....Now for the questions...I would like to rid my tank of the dirty look due to the algae...I've scrubbed the glass clean...but the substrate looks woeful. How can I improve this? >>If it's not sand (as in a deep sand bed) and just crushed coral, I would keep turning it to deprive the algae of light, along with vacuuming small areas over the next month or so with the water changes. >My nitrates are down to 25ppm. Another water change is coming up this Friday. Hopefully this suffice to bring down the nitrates to 5-10 again. >>If it's on the order of 50%, then I would expect it to go down to around 15ppm or so, possibly less.  Then begin weekly water changes, at first a couple of 20%-25%, then reduced to about 10% till things are back in order. >I would like to add some sort of background for the aquarium glass...I tried a reef picture backdrop and it looked dull and drab... >>I HATE those things.  Eck. >any other recommendations? >>Yes!  I absolutely love a simple black background.  However, the best way to achieve the best look is to paint it.  I use simple Rustoleum, painted on with a brush--couple of coats--as I tend to splatter when using rollers.  You'd have to turn off all filters, cover EVERYTHING very, very well, and ventilate!  However, a water-based paint would be safer.  In lieu of that, try a very dark auto-window tint, spray water on the back of the tank, peel it and stick it.  The water not only allows it to be adjusted and smoothed, but will eliminate the air between it and the glass that causes that dull look.  It would be safer than the paint method as well. >I have read WWM but haven't seen any on help with backdrops... >>And now you just got it!  :D >I want to buy the Berlin Airlift 90 skimmer to improve water quality. Is this Ok or would it look ugly set in the tank ? I live in Dubai in the Middle East and I have only 1 marine LFS and I do not have a big budget for one of them hang on skimmers.    >>Understood.  I'm not familiar with the brands, myself, I suggest posing your query either on our forums ( http://www.wetwebfotos/talk ) or on another site http://www.reefs.org/phpBB2/index/php.?...  (boy I hope that's a good link!  Otherwise just go to http://www.reefs.org and go to the forums).  You'll get a far wider experience base this way, though you will have to register at either site to post queries. >That's why this model. Is this Ok performance wise ? Is there a better skimmer you could recommend for more or less the same price? Thank You for the great advice that you'll give which is Free and by no means Cheap!  God Bless WWM More... >>Any hardware that's in the tank may tend to be unsightly, though if you get good coralline algae growth it will help disguise this.  Try the forums for a better variety of opinions. >Regards Lyndon Dubai, UAE >>Welcome, and best of luck to you.  Marina.  Peace out.

Don't Get Down From The Brown! (Algae)... Hi crew, 2 unrelated questions if you would be so kind: 1: Is there any evidence suggesting that use of ozone could contribute to fin degeneration  and/or HLLE? <I have not heard of any connection between ozone and HLLE.. More of an environmental "disease". As far as fin degeneration- it's possible that over-dosing ozone can damage tissues on the fish, and lead to other potential health problems. If used correctly, however, ozone is a very useful tool for enhancing water quality> 2. I am in the process of breaking in a 20low which I intend to use primarily as a live rock/gorgonian invertebrate system, with a couple of hard corals; inhabitants will be limited to those collected in two to four feet of water in the Florida Keys. For this purpose, I am lighting with 130watts of power compact, 50/50 10,000k/actinic. The system is less than a week old, and I have moved several gorgonians and some Halimeda and Caulerpa from the tank it is replacing into it. The old system had a little brown algae here and there, but within a few days of being under the PC's it has really taken off, mantling the gorgonians, Halimeda and now the substrate; the usual algae eaters are present and doing their job, but not keeping up. <Algal blooms are common in new systems with abundant nutrients. And, when you add into the equation a lot of light-wham! A recipe for nuisance algae! The key here is balance...You need to activate nutrient export processes, such as protein skimming, water changes, use of chemical filtration media, and good overall husbandry techniques>     To date, I have fed very little, and plan to keep ahead of things with water changes until cycling is complete, but this algae is a problem; this is my first experience with PC's, and I assumed the high light levels would ultimately disfavor the browns. Any  suggestions would be appreciated. <As above, fostering nutrient export processes will really help, as will a dose of patience! In time, and with good water conditions, these nuisance algae will give way to corallines...hang in there!> Along the same lines, assuming use of turbo/Astrea snails, emerald crabs, and blue legged hermits, I would be grateful for an unbiased estimate of how many of each this system should utilize. Thanks for your help, Steve. <Well, it's really hard to say...I'd go for about 6-8 of each...These guys are good with hair algae, but may have minimal impact on the brown "slime" algae...Just keep maintaining good water conditions, and hang in there...These nasty algae will eventually go away! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Brown Algae Blues Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> I've recently started a new reef system (about 3 weeks) and have come across some brown algae outbreaks. My tank is 55gal with approx. 800gph flow rate, 260w compacts( 10,000k/Actinic ), 100gal Prizm skimmer and back filter. The lights are on for 8 hours a day. I frequently siphon out the dead material that has fallen of the rocks but the algae is still growing rapidly. Is this normal?. <Actually, it is quite a normal, and very frustrating experience! New aquariums tend to have an abundance of nutrients, and limited means to export them from the system. There are a bunch of things that you can do to reduce or eliminate it. First, make sure that you employ a schedule of regular water changes with quality source water (RO/DI, or the equivalent). Make sure that you skimmer is yanking out a couple of cups of dark, yucky skimmate per week. It would be useful to employ chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon and Poly Filter, which really help pull out nutrients. Of course, you can also use physical extraction of the algae as well (i.e.; siphon that crap out!). And a healthy dose of patience doesn't hurt, either!> If not, what can I do to stop it. <Check out these links for more info:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm Hope that this helps! Hang in there! You'll beat this thing! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Brown diatom again? 90 gal with 90lbs Kaelini rock put in tank with 1.5" fine sand on 1/10. 2 VHO actinics and 2 MH 175w 10000k now on for 8 hrs per day up from 6 hrs. lights turned on 2/8 when added 1 coral beauty whom is doing well. Also have 1 percula left from 3 added 2/15. He seems to be eating and doing better. Sump with skimmer and 1 350 mag with carbon changed every 3 wks. Also 1 275 gph powerhead. Problem seems to be a diatom? algae that is now over my rock, sand and overflow esp. where the lights hit. If my rock is getting coralline algae it is covered by this brown algae. Also the glass is beginning to get covered with what seems to be a green type algae. Sg- 1.023, ph-8.5, kh-12, ammonia- 0, nitrite <0.3(this is lowest kit measures) nitrate- not 0 but <10 ppm. ca- 417. I use plain RO water (ordered buffer) to replenish tank and I do bi-weekly 10 gal changes up from bi-weekly 5 gal changes. I was told this is probably from overfeeding (ordered phos test kit) How long till I get rid of this and how much do I feed 1 coral beauty and 1 percula? Also I only have 1 sponge in overflow and 2 sponges covering skimmer and chiller pump inlets? Do I need more? thanks <Not to be smart or anything, but this will last as long as there are nutrients for the diatom to feed on. See here (specifically second message down) and beyond for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brownalgcontfaq2.htm. As far as feeding, someone once said that fish are stomachs with fins, meaning that they will seem to eat constantly as long as food is provided. And, what goes in must come out (mostly). I would cut back to every other day, feed very little at a time making sure the fish eat all of it. Stop when they stop. For the green algae, get a good scraper. Hope this helps, Don>

A Rocky Start? Hi guys, <Scott F. your guy today!> As part of my effort to attack a brown diatom slime algae ( or Cyano I do not know which type) that has been covering and blowing over my substrate, I removed my bio balls from my Amiracle wet/dry. <Well, removing the bioballs will help with excessive nitrate levels, but may or may not help the diatom problem...Diatoms are usually fueled by excessive amounts of silicates and phosphates in the water....You need to employ means to export these substances from the water or source water...> I have a 1 month old 55 gallon with 36 lbs of live rock and I want to add 20 more lbs of live rock. The only problem is I only have room in my tank for maybe ten lbs. I want to keep sufficient tank space for fish swimming, algae cleaning, vacuuming etc. <A commendable idea! > My question is now that I have the big space in my wet dry can I put small, inexpensive pieces of live rock to replace the bio balls ??? <I'd rather have them in the "wet" section, myself, but lots of hobbyists put them in the "trickle" section> If the answer is yes, do they always have to be completely covered in water to survive or if they sometimes are just damp and trickled over with water is that ok. <Trickling should be fine. Keep looking into ways to reduce nutrient excesses in this aquarium: Protein skimming, regular, small water changes quality source water, chemical filtration media, etc. You'll be fine! Regards, Scott F>

Diatom Algae I have 90 gal with 90 lbs Kaelini live rock. My tank is now 6 wks old. I have 2 actinics and 2 MH 175w 10000k and UV sterilizer. The lights are on 6 hrs per day for 2 wks now. <When you add corals/inverts, you will need to run 12 hours per day.> I have a mag 350 filter with carbon in it, an AMiracle sump and skimmer, quiet one return pump of aprox 650 gph and a 275gph powerhead. I have 1 coral beauty whom has been in tank for 2 weeks and 1 percula clown. I do not have any invertebrates. 2 other perculas have not made it. They never seemed to eat. Should they have acclimated or could there be water problems? <Hmmm Brian, no mention of a quarantine tank.....better read up on quarantine and marine stocking at WetWebMedia.com! Did you ask to see them eat before purchase? > Sg- 1.022 <I'd like this from 1.023 to 1.025> ph-8.3 nitrite- 0 ammonia- 0 dKH- 10 ca- 387 nitrate- 10. <This would be high for inverts/corals, more water changes, clean filter material often in Magnum.> I do bi-weekly 5 gal water changes, add non-buffered RO water for evaporation and 4 teaspoons of baking soda weekly. <5 gallons in 90 isn't much, increase to at least 10%, more is better. Use a balanced marine buffer, baking soda will throw your ionic balance off and isn't stable.> I seem to be getting a brownish growth over my rock, sand and now inside my overflow and u tube. <Yep, nitrates and probably silicates = diatom algae. Lower nitrates and test for silicates/phosphates, increase circulation.> Today I vacuumed 1/2 of my 1.5 inch fine sand base. <This amount may trap wastes, deeper is better. Vacuuming is called for but will also clean out your pods and sand critters. I like at least 3" sand beds for this reason.> I seem to have aprox. 10-12 turnover rate per hr with the returns at the top of the tank. Is this enough flow to rule out Cyanobacteria? <Cyano grows in a mat in low flow areas and is reddish. Brown algae growing on everything is diatom algae, fueled by excess wastes. Get rid of the wastes, increase skimmer efficiency, increase nutrient export.> Should I get any inverts and what types? <I wouldn't until you get things under control. Lower nitrates, etc.> I was thinking of getting a new overflow to handle a greater flow rate. Then run an aprox. 700-800 GPH submersible out of my sump with 2 returns placed on each side of the tank close to the sand substrate. Is this possible to do and is it wise? Thanks <Your 90 needs 900-1800 GPH turnover. I would shoot for the mid-point minimum depending on what you desire to keep. Look into venturi powerheads to keep the overflows going and drill siphon breaks in those returns or they will siphon down to the sand or depth of the returns. Increased circulation will help, but wastes are primary cause.  Craig>

Diatoms and a few other things... 2/21/03 Hey,<Hey there!  Phil here!> My 35Gal tank has been up for about 6 weeks now with 30 lbs of live rock. Diatoms have covered a fair amount of the rock. I recently added a Remora Pro skimmer, and cranked my water movement up with some extra powerheads. I think the movement is pretty good now with flow from the skimmer, a canister filter, and three powerheads.<Good so far!> I just use tap water now (which I know is probably a big part of the problem), but I'm wondering if it would be worthwhile taking as much of the diatoms off the rock as possible just to see if the new skimmer and water movement help keep the diatoms from re-emerging. Is there any hope of this or do I need to switch to RO water?<You "can not" really remove the diatoms.  You gotta wait them out with good water quality and some algae eating animals.  I would do RO.. there are many other benefits also.> Next thing: I've got bubbles showing up along the back panel of the tank and attached to many spots on the live rock. I suspect it's coming from the skimmer, though it's been running for over two weeks and the instructions said this should stop after one week. Should these bubbles disappear, or do I need to fix the setup somehow?<I believe Aqua-C makes a Bubble Trap designed to stop bubbles from entering your tank.  For 18 bucks it's not a bad deal!> Last thing: The plan is to have two tank-raised perculas and a neon goby in here. Would any species of lawnmower blenny (or any other algae eater) be a good choice of tankmate?<You could try a goby or something of the like.> Or would I be better to go with some little inverts?<A few different types of inverts might be a better choice.> I have a really shallow sandbed (about 1/2") of aragonite if that makes any difference...<Well in that case you should get a cleaner crew.  They will do better than a goby will do.>   Thanks for all your help in the past, and (in advance) for help with these questions.<No problem!  Hope this helps!  Phil> Derek

Giving Diatoms The Heave Ho! Hi Algae Experts! <Well- I've certainly battled my share! Scott F. with you tonight!> So sorry to trouble you with a lengthy algae email! <No problem!> I HAVE read ALL the FAQ's, have read the dailies since they were on FFE, have purchased & read Bob's & Anthony's books at least twice each, and am stubborn, which is why I have not given up yet ;-). I've been battling diatoms for over 7 months, and am wondering if I have missed anything? Here's what I've done in the last 90 days: Confirmed ZERO NO3, PO4, NH3, with Salifert kits. Have silica test kit on order. <The silica test will provide some very important information. As you are aware from your reading, silicates are one of the primary cause of diatom outbreaks> Ca ~420 with nightly Kalk slurry. ~11.2 dKH. No additives, besides occasional buffer. PH 8.4, salinity 1.024, temp 80. Replaced heater with Ebo to keep tighter range. Feed flake food every other day. (4" yellow tang, 4" regal tang, 3" coral beauty, 2" ocellaris clown, (3) 1.5" blue-green Chromis. All are healthy, 2 yrs old & up. Yellow tang stops grazing only to sleep). Replaced non-drilled 55G tank with 75G AGA RR with Mag 12 to boost circulation. This required enlarging the stock overflow slots to handle the volume. Also have 2 MJ900' in tank. Flow is very brisk. Replaced substrate at time of tank change to 4-5" CC.  75lbs 2-4 yr old LR transferred from old tank. Will change to Southdown in March when I travel to Florida. (Let LFS talk me out of sand, which I regret). <I think that you'll appreciate the Southdown, for a lot of reasons; not the least of which that it will foster denitrifying processes without functioning as a tremendous detritus trap> Added 30G sump/refugium with 4" fine aragonite DSB & Caulerpa on RDP. Nitrates dropped from 20ppm to 0, and have never waived from 0. !!!Clue?! -  there is very little algae/diatoms in refugium, which is lit with 15W 6500K NO fluorescent. <Well- may be due to more efficient nutrient cycling and a bit less light (higher nutrients and high light+ algae)...> Replaced PC bulbs with fresh Actinic 03 & 10,000K. This made things worse. Have new 10,000K Hamilton's on order. Actinics are on 12 hrs/day, have reduced daylights from 11 to 10 hrs/day. I really think the lighting has something to do with the algae, although your advice has always related more to nutrient export. <Yep. Light alone does not cause algae blooms...it's ALL about nutrient export...And, in your case, it sounds like silicate may be one of the nutrients that you need to eliminate> Upped blue leg hermits to 40+, snails to 10+ (Trochus & turbo). Replaced all 3 filter membranes on RO unit, have new membrane on order (well water is ~500 TDS, after RO is ~30. According to manuf, membrane is still fine @ 94% removal, and typically removes 96% when new, which should drop TDS to ~20). <Absolutely. The TDS should be as close to zero as possible...Hopefully, new membranes can help> Installed PolyFilter, does not turn color, other than brown. <Brown means it's absorbing organics...not a bad thing!> >Increased water change interval from 2 weeks to weekly 10%. Fresh carbon weekly. Substrate & sump settling chamber is siphoned weekly. <Good husbandry...get the detritus out of there. On the other hand, don't be so aggressive that it interferes with the denitrification processes, of course> Replaced skimmer with AquaC EV-120 w/Mag 5. I have emptied the FULL 2.5 liter Auto-Waste Container 4 times in the 3 weeks that I have had the skimmer! There is obviously a nutrient problem. The skimmate is foul (imagine dead snail odor plus dead anemone odor), dark green to black. Thank you for recommending the AquaC! Good to here! It should really be cranking in a nutrient-rich aquarium...Keep up very aggressive skimming in this tank> Now, $2300 dollars in algae-fighting upgrades later, I am suffering coral losses. Started with "Mushroom Condition 1" (Eric Borneman's Corals - Selection, Husbandry, and Natural History, pg 390), and has progressed to "Leather Coral Condition 1", pg 386. I have lost ~20 Corallimorpharians, all 2+ yrs old, a Sarcophyton, a Sinularia, a Turbinaria, and a frogspawn is in decline. Not to mention a 3 yr old brittle star, & 2 yr old anemone (don't worry will not be replaced). All have been removed at the first sign of decay, and the AquaC warns me by foaming like mad. Thank you again for suggesting AquaC. <Cool- glad you like it. Seems like the nutrient-tolerant LPS and corallimorphs started declining when your export mechanisms improved!> The fish are not bothered by the algae or any of the changes I've made. In fact, I think they are doing even better. The Regal tang would be sure to express his displeasure with less than perfect water conditions by developing ick, and as listed at the top of the email, measurable water parameters appear to be ideal. <Seem fine!> Is there any possibility that 3 10lb pc.s of lace rock (4 yrs old & encrusted with coralline, sponges, tube worms, feather dusters etc) could have anything to do with this? They have an equal amount of algae as the live rock, but I will jettison it if you think there could be a link. !!!Clue?! - algae is only on the lit surfaces of substrate & LV. Well- it's possible that minerals and nutrients within the lace rock are contributing to your algae problems. I really don't like the lace rock. IMO, it can become a problematic organic trap at times. I'd save what life I could, and get id of it. I'm not saying that it's the cause of your problems, but it certainly may not be helping>   Again, sorry for the length of this. Any suggestions will be welcomed. Scott <Well, Scott, it seems like you're on the right track...Just keep up the aggressive protein skimming, nutrient limitation, and things should gradually improve. Make sure that the RO unit is functioning at full capacity, and has high silicate removal capability. Be sure to employ regular (twice weekly is cool) small water changes (like 5% of tank capacity), using high-quality source water, continue to use Poly Filter and a high grade of activated carbon. Stay on top of things, and you will beat it!> PS - I support your advertisers and buy your books, in appreciation of your advancement of our hobby, but wish you had retailers links to Amazon (books) & Marine Depot (sundries). I would love for WWM to get a percentage of everything I spend with them, and would always be sure to link from WWM. <Hmm... Food for thought! Take care! Regards, Scott F>

Brown-Out! This question is for Scott (please, no offense to the crew, but he has been sooo helpful throughout my Dottyback saga).  Hi Scott! <Hello again, thanks for the kind words!> Another question, if I may - my 55 gal tank is starting to look like the set of an old western movie  -  there is a brown dusting of (algae?) on the gravel and my one white coral (which is dead, cured and shrink-wrapped from my LFS) and a tiny bit on the lace rock. <Not one of the more enjoyable parts of fish-keeping, I know!> I have been cycling my tank now since 12/14 and my LFS says that this is normal and will go away in a few months? <True, for the most part. Newer aquariums, with their abundance of nutrients and limited filtration capabilities tend to develop these nuisance algae. They will often subside as the tank establishes itself, and as nutrient export techniques are utilized (i.e.; routine water changes, aggressive protein skimming, etc.) Also, use of quality source water, such as R/O water, will really help with nuisance algae by limiting nutrients that feed contribute to algae growth, such as phosphates, silicates, and nitrates> I have been testing my water to watch the levels of everything and currently the salinity is .20, ammonia is 0, nitrites .7, nitrates are 0, and the PH is 8.2. <Check that nitrite again, okay? You don't want to see any detectible nitrite in an established tank> Is the brown algae normal in a newly cycling tank? <Regrettably, this is quite a normal occurrence. DO you have a protein skimmer installed in this tank? A properly functioning skimmer can yank out a lot of organic materials before they have a chance to accumulate in the tank. Skimmers are indispensable for successful marine aquariums!> I am happy to report that the Dotty has recovered from whatever worm he had and has been his normal splendid-looking self. <That's great to hear! One tough fish, huh?> However, I noticed that his tailfin is ragged again today (after almost fully growing back after the stress from the worm).  Is he stressing out from the cycling? <If he's been in there from the start, I'd have to say that he's undergoing some stress. The LFS really gave you bad advice if they sold you this fish to help "cycle" the tank!> When should I do a water change?  My LFS said not until at least a month as the nitrates have not been established. <I'd have to agree. I'm a big fan of regular water changes, but I'd wait until the tank is fully cycled (ammonia and nitrite are both at undetectable levels). Otherwise, you'll disrupt the very cycle that you are trying to foster> Also, what are your thoughts about adding some live rock? <I think that live rock plays an important role in many kinds of systems, both as a natural "filter" and as a source of food and shelter for many fishes and animals. However, let's wait until the tank has finished cycling before adding some rock. Also, I'd pay a little extra for fully "cured" rock, to help minimize the extra bioload that rock can bring to this new aquarium> As I don't have any sort of lighting beyond the standard fluorescent bulbs that came with the hood, would that be enough to sustain LR? What extra care would I need to keep LR? Any worldly wisdom you could offer would be greatly appreciated! Christy <Well, Christy, you could get by with the standard fluorescent lighting if you don't intend to grow high-light-demanding corals in this aquarium. The rock will still provide your fish many benefits, and you'll still see all kinds of neat stuff grow from the rocks over time. You may want to even consider a deep sand bed to really put your natural system into "overdrive"! Feel free to contact me again if you have questions about maximizing your setup. There's a ton of information on these topics on the wetwebmedia.com site as well. Hang in there-be patient with this tank, and most of all- have fun! You're doing great! Regards, Scott F>

Powdery Brown Algae Hi Bob I hope you have all had a great festive season and will have a prosperous 2003.   I have a quick question:   For many months I have been struggling with a hair algae problem in my FOWLR setup and I finally seem to have beaten it. Since my last cleanup a month ago I have not seen a trace of new hair algae in the tank (where it normally reappeared within days). Something I see in the tank a lot is a brownish kind of "powder" on the rocks and substrate, which I assume are the remains of the dead algae. I have vacuumed out as much of this as I can, but it seems to be impossible to get rid of completely. Does this sound familiar to you at all ? <Yes... very likely a "resuccession" (re-establishment of cycling of these life forms) by the single-celled algae called diatoms. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brownalgcontfaqs.htm and the linked FAQs beyond re limiting these life forms. Bob Fenner> Thanks   Chris

Diatoms/lighting/Ca/skimming Hello again!  My thanks for your excellent responses to my previous few questions, you've earned another couple of questions since you have proven so valuable :) Tank: 150g FOWLR, 3 wks old, cycled & stable, pH 8.0.  Had copepods appear last week and am now getting some diatoms (making a few of the upper rocks brown/rust and spotting the substrate to a good deal), seems to be under control though since adding carbon and reducing light to 8 hrs which is almost 2watts/gal. <Get that skimmer in high gear!> Is that a good idea or not, I've read on your site both ways, to increase light and turn it off completely to avoid diatoms or algae problems.   <Everyone has an opinion. I would turn them down, tweak the skimmer, add some detritivores, and slowly increase the lighting over a month or two until you get it were you want it> Also, after I get fish is it ok to stay to a shorter light period --I know the fish don't need that intensity of light all the time. <Most fish don't care. Just don't put them in a dark tank and suddenly turn on 400 watt halides after a month or two!> I have some coralline algae as well which may be starting to fade (bleach). <Probably they are adjusting to the lighting and tank conditions in general. Be sure your alk and CA are correct> Ca is always about 310 (alk between 10-12) and it doesn't want to get any higher.  I've been adding the 2 part liquids and also Turbo Calcium every day.  Should I keep adding it or increase the amount I'm adding or could there be some other problem? <You're not that far off the mark. High levels of CA and alk are mutually exclusive. You might consider dropping the Turbo Calcium and use Kalkwasser instead. It's very effective. There is a great article about calcium and alkalinity at WetWebMedia. Check on the home page under "new articles."> I am only getting about a cup per day of yellow liquid from my skimmer, but what I've read from your site suggests I should get more, and it should be very dark. <Doesn't sound too bad to me. Tune it up so that it takes less water into the cup. If you are curing rock you should be getting more skimmate than this (and darker)> Is this inefficient skimming or is there just not much to be skimmed at this point? <If you have new live rock there is plenty to be skimmed. If not then there probably isn't a lot to skim. I would play with the skimmer and test it at different water levels (most important aspect of getting a skimmer to run efficiently) and adjust the riser/venturi at various levels> Thanks again for the site and faq's I've learned so much from reading them! <Fantastically great! This is why we exist...to help hobbyists! David Dowless> Mike

Diatoms On The Run <Scott F. following up...> I noticed that the brown algae was slightly lighter in color last night. I based my last e-mail off my readings from  early last week, so I ran some new tests last night. Looks like the cycle is complete (all 0 with exception of Nitrate at 5PPM and dropping). The brown algae seems to be losing its battle. I am just waiting for some additional LR to arrive as well as 50lbs of dry base rock and I will be ready to go. <If you keep up aggressive protein skimming and institute a schedule of regular small water changes with quality source water, your brown algae (and other nuisance algae) will not be a problem> Oh, and I have dropped the DIY surge device idea. I figure I could use that cash / time and spend it on additional rock or a cleanup crew instead. Thanks! Tim <That's a nice idea. I can think of a few hundred things to spend your time and money on...! Good luck!>

Re: diatom bloom I have a six month old, 175 gallon marine aquarium suffering from diatom bloom.  This tank is serviced once a week, therefore I cannot give you any useful water quality info - I don't test it.  Inhabitants include: approx 20 snails, 6 crabs, a sand sifter star, and 6-7 fish.  Also some corals and polyps.  However, we seem to be making little progress curing this problem.  Latest approach - total blackout.  I do not see any references to such an effort on your website.  How likely is this to succeed? Obviously, I am skeptical.  Suggestions welcome - thanks.  Susan <I wouldn't do this "total blackout"... too likely to cause a "crash", loss of livestock... and not to actually cure the root cause/s of your diatom bloom. Do consider the possible approaches listed, detailed on WetWebMedia.com for limiting nutrient (do get test results for nitrates, phosphates), providing consumers, competitors... This is the route to go. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brownalgcontfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

More Diatoms! Dear Craig, <Hi Mimie> I am at loss...I've tried everything, from underfeeding, to PolyFilter, to frequent water changes, to checking for silicates/phosphates to just about everything and the problem still persists. <It can only be one or a combination of several factors. Import of nutrient with food or water or inadequate processing/export i.e.: DSB/LR/skimming, refugiums and so on. You notice the bloom with the lighting because it requires light to grow.> Question: Does stirring up my 2" sand bed have anything to do with it. I perused my logs and there are only two possibilities left, that and the extra lighting. When I turn off the 71000K lamp, it seems to hamper the diatom bloom. At this point, I am thinking of removing all the LS and leaving the bottom bare. Please advice. Just me, Mimie <I favor deep sand beds and a good detritivore/cleaner crew of some good snails, some blue-legged hermit crabs, etc. and I don't disturb the sand beds myself.  The powerheads, Clowns, Blennies, etc. do enough of that. I think you may be interrupting some of the processes deep in your sand and perhaps also releasing some rather noxious wastes into your water.  If this is fine aragonite, I would leave it to some critters and perhaps think of adding more over some time. This could have plenty to do with your problems. Make sure you aren't importing it with replacement water, food, and that your skimmer is working efficiently.  I hope this helps you!  Craig>

Diatoms Hello, <Hello, Kyle, JasonC here...> I have a 180 FOWLR, a 4" aragonite DSB, 20g sump, 20g refugium, and a emperor 400. The tank has been setup for just over 2 months.  I have added detritivore kits from inland and Pac to start the tank then added live rock, up to about 75lbs.   I added 2 cleaner shrimp, and a  bicolor blenny after the first month, then had a red/brown algae slime develop shortly after one month.  I added two queen conches that helped eat that off the sand and after a couple of weeks it dissipated. At one and a half-months I added a Sailfin tang and a fairy wrasse.  After two months with no problems I added 6 small green Chromis and two cardinal fish.  Then last week the tank started getting cloudy, I can only see a foot into the tank.  It is whitish in color.  I took a sample of my water centrifuged it for 10 minutes, poured off the liquid and looked at the pellet material under microscope.  It appears to be little squares, like diatoms. <A possibility I suppose, but in my opinion that Emperor 400 is drastically undersized for this system. You've been gradually increasing your bioload which would eventually overwhelm that filter.> I read your diatom FAQs and most of the discussion is on the slimy stuff.  Could you provide me with any suggestions or ideas to solve this problem? <I would start with a larger filter or perhaps add additional mechanical filtration to the sump. Additionally, be careful about how much you are feeding.> Sorry for the detail here, I just wanted you to have all the details.  Also my ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels are all zero, sg is 1.0235, 78 degrees F and pH is 8.1. Thanks for your help, Kyle Sundin <Cheers, J -- >

Brown Algae Hi Bob...How are you?.. <Scott F. chiming in this afternoon!> I have a couple of question here. I am just a beginner for keeping  a marine reef. I was very upset when I saw my tank with a lot brown algae on my liverock and all over the sand. It look dirty for my tank. <The outbreak of brown algae is a very common part of the start-up for new tanks. Usually, the cause is a large amount of nutrients due to the live rock and other materials in the tank. These nutrients overwhelm the ability of the tank's beneficial bacteria to process them, and the resulting accumulation is algae food! The high level of organics (and thus, the algae) can be brought under control with regular water changes (with quality source water, as phosphate, nitrate, and silicate also fuel nuisance algae growth), efficient protein skimming (make sure that the skimmer pulls a couple of cups a week of dark, foul-smelling skimmate from the tank, and clean the skimmer regularly), and careful feeding of your tanks inhabitants.> I turned on the lights at 1200hrs and off at 2300hrs. Should I leave the lights on for 24hrs? <No- just use your normal day/night cycle> I am really starting to worry- can you help me settle my fear? What is the problem? Is the water quality not good? My tank is 33 gallon. I bought the liverock-about 12kg. Now I have to clean my liverock and tank (do it my tank all aver again). Hope you can settle my problem.. Thanks... <Well- I don't think that you have to break down the tank and start over again. As mentioned above, the algae can be eliminated by improving and monitoring water quality. Be patient, be consistent in your maintenance routines, and I'm sure that you'll be pleased to see the algae start to disappear. Hang in there! Scott F.>

Yucky Brown Algae! Hi, I have been reading over your web page and I'm really impressed. It definitely the best resource I've been able to find on the web. I was wondering if you could by chance help me with my problem. First of all, I have a 29 gallon fish-only saltwater aquarium with a Sea Clone 100 protein skimmer, I've been reading that these don't seem to be well liked, that is just finishing up being cycled. <Hey- if it's pulling a few cups a week of dark, yucky skimmate from the water- I don't care what brand it is...If it works- it works! Granted, some skimmers are consistently more productive, effective, and easy to use, which is why we as a group tend to recommend them so often> After talking to a couple people, they don't think a skimmer is necessary for my tank but can only help my water quality.  What do you think, is it worth keeping on my aquarium or do you think I need to go out and invest in another skimmer? <I disagree with the opinion that a skimmer is not needed. IMO, a skimmer is an absolute necessity- it's your first line of defense against lots of different problems, such as sudden declines in water quality., etc. Skimmers are so important, that I don't think an aquarist should even think of NOT using one, at least until he or she has a tremendous amount of experience in maintaining stable water conditions. Yes, there are some highly successful hobbyists who don't use skimmers, and maintain amazing reef tanks...Believe me, they are the exception, rather than the rule. Apart form these experimental systems, the majority of us should use skimmers. Period! And, if your skimmer is doing the job- stay with it! If it is not doing the job- tweak it or replace it!> Now onto my other question, I have an outbreak of brown algae that covers the bottom of my aquarium after only 3 days after cleaning it by siphoning the bottom of the aquarium. The people I've talked to recommend a number of things including buying snails, using a phosphate/silicate remover, feeding  less( about once a day), and continue to siphon the water to clean it up until it stops growing (this could become a pain since it comes back the next day after cleaning it up). What do you suggest I should  do? Sincerely, Matt Henry <Well, Matt, all of these things can work to a certain degree. However, the first thing to do is to determine what is causing the algae problem. Brown algae outbreaks are routine in new aquaria, due to an abundance of nutrients present in the water. Check to see that the skimmer is producing, as outlined above. Also, do check the source water you are using for nitrates, phosphates, and silicates, all which contribute to these unsightly algae growths. If your water contains measurable amounts of these substances, then you should consider employing an RO/DI unit to obtain high quality source water. Employ regular water changes (like twice weekly, in small amounts), good skimming, don't overfeed, and don't use additives, such as trace elements, if you can avoid it. Algae control is all about nutrient export. Do read more about this on the algae FAQs on the wetwebmedia.com site. You can do it! Just be patient, and follow some of the ideas outlined here! Good luck!  Regards, Scott F.>

Diatom Algae and Poly Filters Dear Craig, How do you do? <Pretty good Mimie, how goes the battle?> In regard to the above, I am slowly but surely surmounting the seemingly insurmountable diatom problem. I've augmented my efforts by adding some macroalgae (Ulva and Gracilaria) apart from the Caulerpa Racemosa. What are your thoughts? Also ordered CombiSan to help bolster the growth of my corallines. Best, MER <The macroalgae are fine as long as you or fish keep them harvested in order to remove/transfer nutrients out of your system. Also keep in mind some of these, like Caulerpas, secrete agents into your water that can limit growth of corals, etc. It can also suffer die back that can cause problems, so be watchful of your Caulerpa. I think you would be better served by regular dosing for Kalkwasser and a buffer/alkalinity supplement. Most of these other supplements are a waste of money. Have fun!  Craig>

Diatom Algae and Poly Filters Dear Craig: Thank you very much for your Bio-Marine Polyfilter suggestion. <Alright Mimie! I'm glad it's working for you! It is something in your water!> Looks like it is working. I placed it in my hang-on-back filter and there seem to be no diatoms on the walls of my tank this morning, which looks like brown dusting. And the PolyFilter is gradually turning to black! <Excellent! You will notice the diatoms will be worse with light and disappear in the dark, they need light to grow.> Just wonder if I can rinse and re-use it. Thanks again! hugs and kisses, Mimie <Unfortunately they need to be replaced. They work by electro-chemically attracting the positive and negative ions of certain pollutants.  Once they are full, they are done.  A little spendy but they work great for this type of problem. I would still look at testing for phosphates and silicates in your source water, I still suspect that is the source.  Have fun!!!  Craig>

Diatom bloom - Help! Dear WWM Crew, I've been dealing with diatom bloom for the past month now and it seems indelible at this point. I started doing 20% water changes for the past month but it comes right back the next day, covering the entire walls of my tank. I also started cleaning the filter media more often and reduced feeding but to no avail. Even stopped dosing Iodine. And I have read and re-read the articles on diatoms from your website. Please advice. Water Parameters: pH = 8.2 ; N02 = 0 ppm ; NO3 = 0 ppm; NH4 = 0 ppm; Spg. = 1.025 ; Ca = 380 ppm; Alk = 4 meq/l ; Temp. = 78 - 80 F; Hardware: 20G tank; 155gph powerhead; Hang-on-back Penguin Filter ; 100W heater; 2 X 55 PC's w/ 71000K white & 10000K blue actinic lamps. 20 Lbs. Fiji LR and 2" LS. Livestock: 2 Blue damsels, 1 Fire shrimp, 1 Green Open Brain, 1 Toadstool leather, 2 Sebae Anemone( I figured the frequent water changes would ameliorate if not, eliminate the allelopathy ), 3 turbo snails, colony of brown and yellow polyps and Caulerpa. Best regards and thanks in advance, Mimie <Hi Mimie, This is likely silicates or phosphates, either could be in your source water, so when you change water you add nutrients to feed the diatoms. Use RO/DI or DI alone on source water to eliminate these nutrients. Test for silicates and phosphates in display and source water to determine your specific problem. Also try a  bio-marine poly filter in your filter to help eliminate these nutrients from the display.  This will pass! Craig>

Re: Diatom bloom - Help! Dear Craig, Thanks for the prompt reply. I do use RO/DI water...in fact, it's purchased from Dallas North Aquarium, a very reputable LFS in the DFW area. I will try out the filter media you suggested. Anything special in it? Like Phosphate free activate carbon perhaps? Thanks in advance. Best regards, Mimie <You're welcome Mimie! Diatoms need silicates and nitrates to grow. Either preventing (source water) or removing (water changes, filter media) silicates and nitrates and waiting for your tank to age will end your problem. Poly filter is a special negatively charged filter pad that will take contaminants out of your water. Check them out at Foster and Smith, one of WetWebMedia's sponsors. You can cut them to size.  Craig>

Diatom bloom - Help! Dear Craig, Thank you once again for the quick reply and sorry for the incessant mail...this will be my last: <Oh, please write whenever the need arises! No apologies necessary!> My tank is about 7 months old. And I do know that diatoms are especially endemic to new tanks. I guessed I overdosed on the iodine. But I was battling green hair algae and BGA prior to the diatom bloom. I took everything apart and scrubbed it down and it went away. But now, diatoms rule. Where could all these silicates and phosphates be coming from? Surely not from the source water. >It is so frustrating, having to look at an ugly tank for months now...Thanks in advance. Mimie <Just hang on and it outgrows the nutrients and dies off. Make sure your skimmer is working at it's best and drawing water from the surface. I would still suspect your water. Investing in a few high quality test kits would go a long way to reducing your frustration by telling you what you are battling and giving you a means of reducing it. If it isn't your source water it is food or supplements. Unless you slack-off on water changes I'll bet your iodine is fine and any additional could fertilize algae blooms. I use Seachem test kits. There are other high quality kits available from our WetWebMedia sponsors. It isn't unheard of to have contaminants in LFS RO/DI water.  It's coming from somewhere! Craig>

Brown Algae Hello my name is Ric. <Hi Ric! Welcome!> I have a few questions. First I have a 55gal aquarium ( salt ) an emperor 280 filtration, Prizm skimmer and two powerheads. I set up my tank about a month ago. I have about 40lbs of live rock. I all so have 40lbs of live sand. I have hermit crabs and snails. All of my levels are right on. My salinity is 0.022. <You are missing a 1.  you mean 1.022? Get that to 1.023-1.025> What I want to know is brown algae a common thing. If not what can I do get rid of it? <Normal for this stage of maturity of your tank. Keep feeding under control, maximize skimming, test source and tank water for nitrates, ammonia, phosphates and silicates. If needed use RO/DI water or equivalent to reduce nutrients driving algae. The algae will crash (and go away) when the nutrient it eats is used up or otherwise eliminated.  Craig>

Brown Algae and bleached coral Bob, I have attached two pics of some brown algae which has been growing in my tank for some time. It is getting worse meaning there is more and more. Can you recognize this from the photos and if so is there anyway to get rid of it. I have been asking around but can't seem to fine anyone who can recognize this algae.  <alas... I knew the name and cannot recall or find it in a handy reference at this moment! Arggghhhh. Will dig for you though :) I do recognize this rubbery species though <G>> It seems to "peel" off the rock in sheets kind of like skin after a sunburn. It also grows scallop type formations. There are patches of it throughout my tank. <yes, indeed... and there do not seem to be many popular predators on it either. My advice would be to experiment with very small urchins (1-3") for control. I favor the diadema long spines or some of the small decorator urchins. Among the commonly available Echinoids, pick almost anything except a pencil urchin (carnivore). Even small short-spine black urchins from Florida may be very fine... just buy them small (coin sized) and pull them before they grow too large and knock many things over. Else they are excellent algae grazers> Second question if I may. I purchased a frag, Pocillopora damicornis I believe, from the Sacramento MARS back in July. I placed it in good light and water flow. It seemed to be doing fine. Two weeks ago while cleaning the tank I noticed it had fallen to the bottom of the tank near the back. I don't know how long it was there. I placed it back where it had originally been. The next day several branches were white and a day after that the whole coral had bleached white. Why do you think this happened and is there anything I can do?  <it suffered light shock from the sudden return to its perch. It really needed to have been moved back up slower over a period of several weeks. Leave it be for now and feed it heavily when possible (baby brine shrimp or rotifers... no phyto here)> Thanks for your help and I look forward to seeing you back in Sac..........soon I hope Jim <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

So much brown algae I am going to scream! Hi Bob & Crew, I am writing to you as a last resort. I have tried almost everything I can think of to clear up my brown algae problem. I have a Oceanic 75 gallon tank, Berlin H.O.T. Turbo Skimmer, <Producing daily, I hope!> Fluval 404 filter, Coralife 9 watt Double Helix UV sterilizer (on a timer set to 8 hours daily), <That is kind of unusual. I would leave it on 24/7. UV's, IMO/E, are not highly effective for most people, but cycling it on and off like you are doing, is really wasting it.> two 802 powerheads, blah blah blah. Anyways the inhabitants include both marine fish and inverts (turbo snails and hermits and red star) plus 1 anemone and a cucumber and about 60 lbs of primo Fiji live rock with really nice purple algae. I store my pre-mixed water for a couple weeks in a garbage bin before each water change as per the advice in the Holy Bible of Fish - "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". I scrub my tank religiously and crank the skimmer while I do this but for the life of me I can't get rid of this brown algae. It grows all over the glass mainly and a little over the substrate (crushed coral). <I would suggest that the crushed coral maybe contributing to your problem. It is known to trap detritus. It may not be the only problem you have, but it is definitely not helping you.> My levels are all immaculate, 95% of the time <Well, that was helpful. I am sorry, but this is a pet peeve of mine. You are asking for someone to diagnosis a problem over the internet based on your description and you leave out some of the most critical information. Please, always give actual numbers.> and the tank is about 10 months old. <Old enough for diatoms to have disappeared on their own by now.> I dose Kalkwasser regularly and am not really seeing much growth in the calcareous algae it is just remaining constantly there. How do I get rid of the algae permanently as this problem is causing a bit of a rift in my enjoyment of this usually relaxing hobby? <Diatoms are generally encouraged when you first set up the tank, but usually runs its course and dies out after a month or two. I would guess you are introducing something to fuel its uncontrolled growth; overfeeding, silica, iodine, etc. Either of the last two could come from your salt mix or source water. I prefer to use Aquarium System's brand of salt (Instant Ocean or Reef Crystals) and reverse osmosis or deionized water.> I understand that phosphates and detritus and other factors contribute to the algae growth and I do change the water regularly but the algae comes back within a few days to a week. Should I just leave it and hope that I can get some purple algae to cycle over it? <No, you need to discover and address the root problem.> I would like to purchase and RO/DI unit but I live in Toronto, Canada and marine gear is really, really pricey here. <Take a look at our sponsors. Several offer very good pricing on RO or RO/DI units.> I don't even know if that would remedy the problem. <It may certainly help. I would also look at brand of salt, too.> I don't know what to do guys. Please help me out if you can. Thanks very much! You are all awesome and are part of the reason at least 5 of my fish are still alive so thanks from them too! <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Re: So much brown algae I am going to scream! Hi again. I forgot to mention in all my haste that I have a heating problem in my tank too. I can't get the heat to drop below 82 because of all the hang-on tank equipment and the lights I have. <This is easily remedied by the use of fans, but 82*F would not bother me too much as long as it was stable.> The lights are on a 12 hour clock and they are one regular full spectrum and one blue actinic. I add reef supplements occasionally. <This could be a source of nutrients. I dose for calcium and alkalinity and very occasionally experiment with iodine. Nothing else is needed, IMO/E, other than regular water changes.> I also have a Powder Blue Tang who has Ich right now but is on his last day of being quarantined with Methyl Blue and is looking really, really happy and healthy. I would like to cultivate Caulerpa for the Tang to munch on and to hopefully overgrow the brown slime. <Caulerpa can outcompete other algae, but far better to find the source, root of the problem and deal with that.> Thanks again! <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Brown Algae Nightmare... Thanks for the help fellas. I guess what I will do is just shop around for a R.O. unit through some of the links around your site. But if I can get one at the Home Depot or someplace like that I will go that route. I seems that if products are labeled as being for use with Marine Fish the price tag is inflated quite a bit. I have tested all the levels and can provide you with the numbers if you like, but as I said they are all pretty good. Here they are though in the event that something might be out of whack. Ammonia is 1.0 ppm Nitrite - 0ppm Nitrate 10 ppm SG 1.023-1.024 pH 8.2 calcium is 450 Phosphate = 15 Temp = 82 alk 3.2 temp is 82.2 - have problem with lighting heat - yet have insufficient lighting lighting - 1-20 watt -actinic "marine glow" + 40 watt - full spectrum fluorescent tank age - 10 months water is changed 10-20% weekly copper - 0 Water is premixed and stored weekly <Well- measurable ammonia is not good! Do re-check and take steps to reduce to zero. Phosphate is too high here. In a reef system, you want it near zero. Water changes, careful feeding, and husbandry will help here> ADDITIVES: FOOD Bob Fenner's Marine Mash - Krill Bloodworms Marine Growth - Flakes African Cichlid Pellets Kalkwasser - is dosed magnesium strontium molybdenum <A recommendation here regarding additives- If you are going to add something, you really need to test for it (referring to the last 3 additives)> TANK 75 G Oceanic Systems Bowfront Fluval 404 X2 802 "Quickfilter" power heads 2 Ebo Jager - 100 watt heaters Berlin "Turbo" Hang On Tank Skimmer <Make sure that the skimmer is removing several cups of dark, yucky stuff a week for maximum efficiency> OCCUPANTS 1 Sea Cucumber 4 Green Spotted Puffers - very docile - not nippy at all 1 Figure Eight Puffer - peaceful too 2 Powder Blue Tang 2 Monos - 2 Orange Chromides - Constantly fighting with each other 3 Condylactis Anemone - 2 look great 1 is looking rough 2 Blue Legged Hermit Crabs 2 Red Legged Hermit Crabs 2 Turbo Snails 2 Astrea Snails 60 LBS Fiji Live Rock 20 Base Rock Underneath LR 2.5" C/Coral substrate with Loose Shells <Consider a finer grained substrate to avoid detritus accumulation, review your feeding practices, do those water changes, and keep on studying! Scott F.>

Brown algae I am having the hardest time getting rid of brown algae in my 55 gal tank. I have tried all that I know to try from reading faq's on here and also articles on other websites, but nothing seems to be working. Tank is 2 1/2 months old, so when it first started I just thought it was the normal cycle you get when you first set-up a tank, but it has been 3 1/2 weeks now and it is still here, growing on live rock, glass, powerheads, and sand substrate. Tank parameters are, ammonia=0, nitrate=1-3ppm <too high>, temp=77-78, salinity=1.024, ph=8.3, dKH=9-10, calcium=420. I have great circulation with 2 powerheads, return from my sump/refugium, and return from canister filter. Running about 1000 gal per hour. My lights are 4x65 watts pc, 85lbs of live rock, added a protein skimmer and sump/refugium with Caulerpa about 3 weeks ago. Now my sump/refugium and Caulerpa also have brown algae on them . I am running carbon and phosphate remover in my canister filter. I use only r/o water tried 3 different LFS for water) for changes and make-up for evaporation. I do the aerate and buffer and salt procedure just like you suggest on here before adding to tank. I have snails and crabs but they can't put a dent in it. It got so bad that 2 days ago I took everything out of tank, including live rock and scrubbed algae off, and also scrubbed glass and vacuumed substrate( 4 inches of Aragamax sugar sand). No algae in sight in tank at all after I cleaned everything, but the next day after I put everything back in tank, the algae was back, and it is getting worse again. I just don't know what other steps to take, after adding sump/refugium with macro-algae, adding skimmer, using r/o water, using phosphate remover, and keeping water conditions at right levels. Only have 2 small fish which I lightly feed and very low nitrates anyway. I have read that silicates can be cause of brown algae also. Was thinking of buying silicate remover , but read that you guys say they really don't work anyway. Sorry for long e-mail <not a problem, the more info the better>, but really don't know what else to do, since I have done just about everything <agreed> suggested on this website and others. I would greatly appreciate any help you could give to help me with this, thanks. <Wow, you have tried just about everything, it sounds like you have a really nice set up. Diatom algae are the first things that come to mind, and your nitrate levels are a little too high. It is possible that the tank is still cycling, there is no guaranteed time frame for a cycle, and taking the tank apart and cleaning it could cause the process to take longer.  I would test my source water before I put it into the tank to be sure that that is not where the problem is origination. You will also want to try tweaking your skimmer to produce more. If you test your source water and it comes out clean, I would be willing to bet that this problem will resolve itself in time.  Best Regards, Gage. The links below have some good info on diatom algae growth.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brownalgcontfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeasfriend.htm >

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