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FAQs about Calcareous and Coralline Algae 1

Related Articles: Coralline Marine Algae, Red Algae in GeneralCalcium and Alkalinity ExplainedAvoiding Algae Problems in Marine System, 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, Blue-Green "Algae"/(Cyanobacteria)Diatoms, Brown Algae

Related FAQs: Coralline Algae 2Coralline Algae 3, Coralline Algae 4, Coralline Algae Identification, Coralline Algae Behavior, Coralline Algae Compatibility/Control, Coralline Algae Selection, Coralline Algae Systems, Coralline Algae Nutrition, Coralline Algae Disease, Coralline Algae Reproduction/Propagation, Red Algae in General, Red Algae 2, Red Algae 3, Red Algae Identification, Red Algae Behavior, Red Algae Compatibility, Red Algae Selection, Red Algae Systems, Red Algae Nutrition, Red Algae Disease, Red Algae Reproduction/Propagation, Marine Macro-Algae, Use in AquariumsMarine Algae ID 1, Marine Algae ID 2, Marine Algae Control FAQs II, Marine Algaecide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; Controlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Green Algae, Brown/Diatom Algae

The at-times elusive encrusting red/coralline algae.

Anemone and Coralline Algae Hi, you answered my last email months ago in reference to live rock, and thank you. It has been, oh, I guess 5 months now since my tank went from fish only to a starting reef tank. I have a small bio-load 3 Regal Tangs, and 2 False clowns (LFS stated they are a mating pair??). I also have one Anemone. First question is: The clowns have no interest in the Anemone.  <A. ocellaris are notoriously picky about anemones and none need them to survive. Many live without host anemones in the wild><<!? Not... All Amphiprion are ONLY found in close association with cnidarian hosts in the wild. RMF>> the LFS said they would be attracted to this Anemone. I do not have a clue what type of species it is, it's white with long tentacles, and has an orange base. Any idea on the type,  <sounds like a dying long tentacle anemone. No such thing as a healthy white tentacled anemone... just bleached dying ones that can linger for months to a year if you feed them enough. Read the following article and the other links on this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/anemones.htm> and the compatibility for my clowns?  <there is a clownfish/anemone chart on this page above> It also has not made its mind on where to live, just wondering the tank. Sorry for the vague description I really do not have much more on this species and neither does the LFS.  <quite alright, my friend...this is a common question (weekly). Your LFS needs to know that their shipper is sending them doomed animals if they are getting white anemones. They are naturally brown or green. Some cutthroats dye the white ones yellow... jerks> What can you recommend for the mating pair of clowns? I understand the Sebae are not recommended for rookie at heart. My tank is 50 gal. 60 or so lbs of LR. What about the Carpet Anemone? <very bright lights are necessary for all host anemones... VHO or MH plus weekly feedings will be necessary whichever you choose. The carpet is a reasonable choice for a larger tank> Lastly, my LR has many different color Coralline Algae. Some of the algae are developing small white spots along with larger sections. From the postings I would suggest to myself that my water parameters are off.  <yes. most often the case> However my Ca is in the area of 380 to 420. I checked three times and did the average. My alk is in the area of 9-11 dKH.  <just a bit low if the test kit is accurate. 12dKH or higher as the tank matures and their demand/colony increases> I bought in to the mix bag of reef additives such as Strontium, Iodine, and reef elements, the moly whatever, and such. I use Kalk with RODI for top off. So I also use super-buffer from Kent every 2 weeks. All other parameters are 0. My skimmer is the only filtration used,  <overall sounds good> and really have not had to do a water change for over a month, actually 6 weeks. I have checked the levels and all seem to be correct. No Ammonia, Nitrite, or Nitrate. I don't even have bad Algae problems. I killing the good stuff it seems. What can I do?????  <sugar-based calcium is fantastic for corallines (Calcium gluconate like Seachem's Reef Calcium)... just not useful for much else <wink> keep up with the Kalkwasser too> I would like to someday move away from additives and have a very natural tank.  <consider frequent and/or automated water changes to do so> I am trying to take my time and go slowly. Thanks in advance, and have a better day. Robert. <best regards, Anthony>

Coralline Algae Problem <Anthony Calfo in your service> I am requesting consultation on what appears to be a very acute coralline algae die off, I saw the first signs today (though it may have been visible yesterday, I had been awake 40something hrs when I got home last night). I have 50# of live rock, 2 big rocks are the most beautifully coated with purple and the tops of them are affected, as are the small purple patches on my walls, which were fine over the weekend and are now ALL completely white. <no worries.. usually very easy to diagnose and always redeemable within months> History: 15 month old 40gal Eclipse reef with lots of polyps and overstocked with fish, but no change in occupants since 8/01. All the inverts look great, the water parameters today are pH 8.3 NH3 0 NO2 O NO3 25 (pretty stable) Ca ~430 KH 11 PO4 0.4 <that rules out one of the culprits...sudden Alk depletion> While I know this isn't perfect, the only one that has changed is KH.  <actually a fine batch of numbers in general> In recent weeks it's been 7-8 and so I added more Seachem reef buffer 3 days in a row early this week, bringing it as expected to 11.  <OK..7-8 was really pushing your luck> My "snowstorm" problem seems to have gone away suddenly- last night I added the twice weekly Seachem Reef Carbonate and it didn't do it for the first time in several weeks.  <did you actually see a precipitation (AKA snowstorm)?> I have been adding Seachem Reef Complete (Ca) erratically. I used to add it 2x/week religiously. When I changed to aragonite substrate in 11/01, my Ca was always high even without it. I thought it might be contributing to my snowstorm, so I haven't added it in 2 weeks. Other recent activity (lots) 1. on 2/22 I upgraded my light to the power compact for Eclipse hoods. I rapidly advanced from 4 hrs to 8 then sort of forgot about it, still 8hrs. Gets some natural sunlight in the am also. <WOW...the number one cause of coralline bleaching... sudden increase in light. BINGO. Some aquarists also experience this without new lamps or fixtures when they do a water change with the lights on... then all of the corallines left high and dry under the bright lamps (with the dropped water level) bleach white right down to the water line within 24 hrs> 2. Over the weekend I removed my plenum (took all day, removed all inhabitants into heated circulated Rubbermaid's, removed all substrate and plenum, rinsed tank bottom clean with RO, emptied dry, filled with 60# sugar size live aragonite sand (Coralife?)). Everything looked great at the end of the ordeal and still does (full polyp extension, happy looking fish). <no worries here> 3. Yesterday added 1# of GARF Grunge. (Could there be a specific thing in there that is bad for my algae but not anyone else?) <nope... did not help or hurt> 4. Added some Caulerpa on Monday, doesn't seem to be doing very well. Does this excrete toxins as it dies? <very much so... I can't stand using Caulerpa in garden reef aquaria... many complications (inhibiting growth of stonies, discolorants into water, antibiotic properties...just awful and unnatural for scleractinian reef displays> Filtration is PolyFilter and carbon and Phosguard, all fresh at the beginning of the month.  <excellent> My protein skimmer after a long period of not working well is finally producing well this week (cleaned by my engineer sister over the weekend). <excellent again... and a sugar cookie for her> I know this is a lot of background for one question, but I love my purple algae and I have a feeling it isn't a simple question.  <on the contrary... a common question and simple solutions> I realize there are a lot of variables but any suggestion as to emergency intervention would be much appreciated! <the number two cause of corallines bleaching by the way is a sudden drop in salinity as with the sudden influx of gallons of freshwater or less saline saltwater for evaporation top-off. You however, have had the pleasure of bleaching them from new sexy lights without a gradual acclimation. Be grateful that you didn't wipe out a tank full of corals due to light shock at the same time. hehe... we live and learn. Try Seachem's sugar-based calcium (Reef Calcium- a gluconate) for 2-4 months faithfully... great for growing corallines (although not much else). Best regards, Anthony> Tracy Creek Atlanta

Coralline Algae Problem II Thanks for the reply... I am still left with questions... my lighting is actually unchanged since about 3/1... I increased from 4 hrs to 8 hrs over ten days from 2/22-early March, but nothing happened back then. Do you expect the bleaching to be delayed by three weeks?  <honestly, no... seems likely to be another cause> Can I continue to increase the photoperiod back to 12 hours, and if so, at what rate should I increase it now? <really tough to say without a luxmeter. Increasing an hour per week seems reasonable to me though> Also, I think that my snowstorm problem I have been having was caused by my adding the Ca gluconate you suggest... my Ca stays at 420 or so because of my aragonite, and the weeks I add the SeaChem Ca I have much worse snow storming and KH is 7-8.  <it seems highly unlikely... are you confusing a simple temporary clouding of the water with the catastrophic "snowstorm"? A "snowstorm" is a sudden and severe crystalline precipitation of calcium carbonate that looks literally like snowflakes polluting and aquarium an is quite dramatic! Your calcium/carbonate levels plummet within 12-24 hours and it can be fatal to many, most or all livestock in the tank at times. When you say "snow storming" this implies to me that it happens to you regularly and such a thing is nearly impossible within weeks (gross neglect would be necessary). We should be clear on this term first. What is your drop in chemistry and over what period of time?> I stopped adding it 2 weeks ago and the snowstorm has resolved and my KH is finally back up to 11 now. Should I just add it anyway? I am afraid I am going to have one of those alkalinity and Ca crashes if I keep adding the Seachem Ca. Is this a misconception? <hmmmm...it sounds to me like chemically the tank is a bit out of whack, so to speak. My advice would be to stop using separate supplements and after several large water changes (at which time calcium and alkalinity will be slightly depressed but at least more balanced) you should use a two part liquid calcium supplement like B-Ionic or Sea Balance. This will keep your Ca/ALK ratio in balance to stabilize the tank. Best regards, Anthony> Tracy Creek

Yellow Spots... Maybe Algae, Maybe Encrusting, Not Definitely Coralline Bob - Thanks for answering all of our questions. I have yellow spots growing on the sides of my 75 gal saltwater tank. The spots are as large as a dime and start as a small dot. They have to scraped from the sides with my fingernail. Is this a type of encrusting algae?  <Not a very encrusting variety if so...> If the spots were purple, I would say they were coralline algae spreading from the live rock. Any ideas? <Lots, but none re this organism or mix... Please read through the many materials posted on WetWebMedia.com re algae, their control, marine system maintenance. Bob Fenner> -- Thanks

Lucky, with anemone, clownfish Dear Bob, Love your site and all the time you have put into it. I have a few questions that I need to ask. I guess that I have been LUCKY, cause I add no chemical and have had my 75gal. for about 4 years now. <Perhaps lucky, but also smart... there is no to not much need to "add anything" to a properly set-up, stocked and maintained system.> I have about 45 to 60lbs. of live rock. I have several fish that I still have since I first started. I have just bought a Sebae Anemone and it is fine and the Clown is fine, but they have nothing to do with each other.  <May not be "compatible"... this happens... or may take some time to become acquainted> It has been about 3 1/2 weeks and still no change. One last thing, all of the live rock and my jets, glass is purple and don't know if this is a good sign or what. <Better than not> I live in a very small town in Mississippi, so I don't have very many resources that I can go to for facts. <We have each other. Bob Fenner>

Protein Skimmer, Coralline Algae Will heavy protein skimming affect my Coralline Algae growth? <Yes, it should encourage it.> I need to buy a more efficient protein skimmer. The one I have the collection cup is only a quarter full after one week. So from what I understand it should be at the most a quarter full a day. <Try several attempts at adjusting it before you end up tossing in the towel. Also, try cleaning the pump and impellor of mulm. This is a frequently overlooked duty in maintenance. -Steven Pro> Thanks for the response.

Corallines <Aloha, POG... Anthony Calfo (Oahu native born but residing in PA) at your service> Hey Robert, a quick ? on coralline algae...I am adding calcium and Kent dKH buffer daily as per directions....been doing so for over a month, pink coralline seems to start in little spots, but by evening it seems to be disappearing?. <very strange if so... test your ph swing over the same period of time. If more than .2 we may have something to talk about> I have been reading your site and was wondering about adding baking soda like it was mentioned in a few replies on the site. Or is patience just in order.... <more so patience in the 1-4 month picture... but you should definitely see some great progress by 4 months. Judicious use of sugar-based calcium has been demonstrated to quickly encourage coralline growth if nothing else (I agree that it is not very effective for scleractinians)> live rock coralline seems to have receded and stopped growing. <hmmmm...not a good sign> I have a total of 5 anemones (Caribbean and rock anemones ( not Aiptasia) and curly q.... I am working on the Latin names. All levels are fine...nitrates a bit high but reducing them with small water changes weekly. All fish are happy as well. Any suggestions would be a huge help. I am hunting up as much info on this as I can and seem to be going in circles. <what is your ph and alkalinity specifically?> Thanks, Pete <regards, Anthony>

Re: aloha Aloha Anthony, thanks for the crazy fast reply!!!! You miss the surf? <POG... at times, I miss everything about Hawaii. A truly magical place. We left when I was still a child but I can't be stopped from visiting and returning. Just magical.> ...not the best winter...yet!!!! OK I tested the ph, 8.4... as close as I could see. As for alkalinity, I do not have a test kit for that (yet!) <yes...pH is fine, but do confirm your alkalinity. Hardcore reefers suggest over 11dKH but I wouldn't blame it on your corallines if it is at least 7dKH> I forgot to mention before, This tank has been set up for over a year. I never really looked for coralline before...I was more into the cool black lava rock center piece (65 gl. hex) and the fish. no corals at that point. It has been moved once, but used half original water. Water changes weekly (8 gl.) with instant ocean salt mix.  <excellent!> wet dry filter,  <no accumulating nitrates, right?> as well as mag 350 canister. As for my second tank was set up as a reef tank just recently ( 2 months) with live rock, lots of coralline....discovered the (woven ( sea urchin) later as he gobbled most of the coralline. He is gone. <ahhh...yes.> That too seems to have stopped growing. Same filter set up and additives in both tanks. Both have 165 watts power compacts ( new bulbs) No hair algae and only light dusting of green on glass by days end. More light? stronger? I am stumped!! <no worries about the lighting...little impact in this case unless your water changes drop the water level low enough with the lights on... this is a surefire way to bleach corallines. People often notice a lack of corallines above the water change water level line and blame it on exposure to air. Air is not the problem... air without water to diffuse the bright lights is the problem. Such folks can stop the bleaching by simply turning off the bright lights during the water change. If your corallines are bleaches/nonexistent below the typical water change level as well, than this may not apply to you. Ultimately... I'd suggest you buy a little bit of fresh rock with killer corallines (even a tiny piece...collected in Hunauama Bay...no!!!) and run through a single bottle or two of Seachem liquid calcium (gluconate) for just a couple of months. If the corallines aren't strong in 8-12 weeks after that... there is something else wrong> Dude thanks again for the fast reply. POG <Quite welcome... and by the way, you wouldn't happen to have (w)vee fruit growing in your yard? One is a true Hawaiian if you crave it, I hear <smile>. Too bad they can't be exported. kindly, Anthony (Koni)>

PC and coralline algae Dear Bob, We are trying out a VHO Power compact lighting setup (full spectrum and actinic) after having 2 full spectrum and 2 actinics standard fluorescents for the past year. With a fan, we're able to keep the temp stable. Over the course of 3 hours, some beautiful purple coralline algae that was growing on the side glass is becoming patchy and is breaking up. Chemistry has not changed. Searched a few list servers and people are saying that coralline doesn't like lots of light. Is there a compromise?  <Always> Is there a range of intensities that coralline likes? <Mmm, yes> Will other species take over? Or do we have to choose? <There may be succession here... other species, groups taking the place, niches of the encrusting red algae in your system... this happens with overt changes in predisposing factors, environmental changes...> Did a search of your FAQ's and lighting topics and I don't see this specifically addressed. I quote the following from a list-serve... " The coralline algae on my live rock has been bleached by my power compacts. 288 watts on my 55gal with half of those watts being 7100k actinic, the other half 6500 or 6700k. I now have 500 watts of 12000k MH on the 55gal. I have heard that this Kelvin color temp in MH may not bleach the coralline algae like the compacts did. Is that just wishful thinking? What measures if any can be taken to avoid the bleaching and still allow the big horsepower for the lighting?" <The intensity and spectral make-up of light, among other factors involving light and not, all play into what organisms, groups are favored, disfavored. I would just "wait, see" for a few weeks at this point. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Allyson

Re: PC and coralline algae Wow! Quick response! Should we start by reducing the number of hours our lights are on and slowly increase the hours, thus adapting the system. Or should we just switch and maintain our regular light cycle? <Don't know enough about the rest of your biota... likely not a bad idea... something total lumens about what things were, grading to what they will be over a months time or so. Bob Fenner> Allyson

Aquariums website www.MalawiCichlidHomepage.com (Geo in Athens and Med. life i.d.) Hi Bob, I wish you a Happy New Year FULL of my questions.. <Have seen your articles in FAMA and spoken with Sue Steele there re your excellent site.> Is it possible for you to identify either that snail-like animal and the red plant ?? They were both collected in the Mediterranean in 30 cm of water.. if this will help you (in December).. Thanks for any help !!! <Mmm, the first is a coralline (Rhodophyte) algae of some sort, the second of course some sort of gastropod mollusk. No time to look up for now. Will post on WWM for others input. You must have reference works for the Sea Life of the Mediterranean? Bob Fenner> George J. Reclos Ph.D. Pharmacist - Immunologist Holargos (Athens) - Greece

Re: Geo in Athens  Hi Bob and thanks for your nice comments which - believe it or not - still make me blush !! <You deserve them for your fine work in our interests on your site, magazine publications> If you can come up with the scientific information about the coralline algae and the mollusk it will be good (and any references will be appreciated). My main concern for the time being is what to add in the water to make sure those creatures will have something to eat. If I add some pygmy angelfish (or flame angels) will they feed on the coralline algae or stay with the green one ?? <Oh... the Coralline as here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corallinealg.htm and an offering of what you have on/in your live rock for the gastropod (for now), while closely observing where it tends to spend time, feeding> May I add that whenever we have a request for a reputable source for marine tanks there is only one website and book that come in our minds ?? I guess you already know that. <And for Cichlids? I'm sending to you!> Thanks once more !! George <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Would like to have some pink/purple coralline algae growth I have a 47 gal hex tank. Water is as follows Cal. = 420, KH = 9, pH =8.2/ 8.4, nitrite = 0, Phosphate = .50/1.0, nitrate is a little high, but fixing with smaller more frequent water changes. I used my pool test for total alkalinity and found it to read 210 PPM, I thought alkalinity and KH went hand and hand, why the difference. <Mmm... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the articles, FAQs beyond... calcium need not be much of a part of total alkalinity...> Temp is around 76. For lighting I have 1 250 watt metal halide 5000k, 2 15 watt blue, and 1 15 watt 50/50 bulb. The 3 x 15 watt bulbs come on @ 7:30 am, the MH @ 8:30 am. The MH goes off @ 9:00 PM and the 3 X 15 watts @ 10:00 PM. I just added the MH about 2 months ago, I had to fab. a hood. I use 2 Fluval 303 canister filters, 1 power head in bottom of tank for water movement. I use the SeaClone skimmer. <Mmm, the canister would be better replaced with an "open format" filter (like a hang on) and your skimmer could use upgrading...> The additives I use are liquid gold every day in smaller dose than recommended. Iodine every day. coral Vite once a week. Strontium and molybdenum twice a week. I have half live rock that has the pink coralline, and half base rock. But it seems that the coralline doesn't spread to the base rock. the base rock gets a green/brown look to it. The glass gets a brown looking algae on it that is very hard to get off, lots of rubbing is needed. I do have some mushroom corals and a few feather dusters along with a few corals that I don't remember the name of. I have a couple of Tangs, 1 cardinal 1 long nose Butterfly, 1 Tricolor Angel, and 5 Blue leg crabs. What do I need to make the pink/purple coralline spread. Thanks for your time. Rodney <Thank you for writing... a few things will likely help here... Raising the calcium concentration to 450-500 ppm, elevating KH to 12 or so... can be done with additives... I would check, have your LFS check to see if you have sufficient magnesium (s/b about three times the concentration of calcium) as this might be holding back your encrusting reds. In the longer term, do look into something like a CPR BakPak, perhaps a refugium, maybe even a hang-on or sump type "mud" algae filter... in place of the Canister, SeaClone. Bob Fenner>

Coralline Algae Bob- I was reading an article penned by you located at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corallinealg.htm. I was wondering if there was any difference between the algae in your article and the encrusting coralline algae located off the coast of California?  <Mmm, same groups down sometimes to the genus level as the tropical corallines... and both gorgeous. Dave Wrobel wrote widely on such "cold water reefs" incorporating these rhodophytes... still haven't caught on largely.> They look identical to me...but I'm wondering if they are. Thanks in advance. D.M. Daniels <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Too much coralline algae too much? Can one have too much coralline algae? <Mmm, it is possible... mainly as a function of it out-competing other biomineralizing livestock for nutrients (principally alkaline and biomineral matter)... and looks-wise, sure... if you can't see into the tank...> I have a 30 G reef setup and everything in it is purple! The rock, snails, and hermit crab shells are all covered with coralline. It's beautiful to look at, yet is it spreading too freely? <Maybe... Please read through the coralline algae materials stored on the WetWebMedia.com site. There is a search feature there to hunt by key terms. Bob Fenner>

Help on Growing Coralline Algae Hi Bob <<Hello, JasonC here filling in while Bob is off diving.>> I have a 6' x 2' x2' reef tank up and running (8 months) all is well but I wish to get more red/purple coralline algae on my live rock, to replace the grey look I get a lot of green on the rock/glass but want the red/purple is there a formula to grow this type of algae see attached pics <<Coralline Algae is just that, algae which means it will usually grow with very little help. The big secret, and it's not much of a secret, is that coralline needs calcium to grow. The coralline that is on your rocks now will spread, it just takes time and nutrients. Do read Bob's article on coralline algae: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corlalgfaqs.htm >> Many thanks in advance Wayne <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Reef Redux Mr. Fenner,  The time has come, and I now must redo my 55-gallon reef tank. My question is if I scrub and/or boil the live rock, will it ever grow coralline algae again? Or should I keep it wet and simply pull all the little pieces of hair algae off one at a time, and will that work? As always, I thank you immensely for all your help. Thanks,  Tracy <Corallines will grow on/over most any hard surface... if you kill the ones on the rock now, other/spores can be cultured on it later. Bob Fenner> 

Coralline Algae I have my saltwater aquarium set up now and put some live rock in it about a month ago. Anyway, my question is about the live rock. I have noticed that the coralline algae seems to be receding slightly (it might just be me). What might be causing this and is it something that I need to be concerned about? <Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corallinealg.htm and the associated links, FAQs files. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Kevin

Dosing Solution Hi Bob, read in one of you articles that a person was have a little difficulty growing Coralline Algae. You stated that most people stock a lot of Live Rock in order to grow the Coralline Algae. Is there a rule of thumb of how much Live Rock a tank should have? Example: 1~2 lb. of Live Rock per gallon? <Something like this... depends on shape of tank, density of LR product, its shape... you/one can always add more later. Pls read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrfaqs.htm> In your opinion what is the best type of Synthetic Salt to buy? <This is posted on our site here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seah2ofaqs.htm> Because I am running out of Instant Ocean and I am think of going with a different brand. I have tested Instant Ocean and it seems to have a level of Calcium of 300 PPM <Mmm, this should be higher... Bob Fenner> and it buffers the pH pretty well. I am not to sure about the Magnesium levels and Trace Elements. Thanks, David Garcia

Tank setup. l Mr. Fenner, I apologize for what has been happening. I have no idea why my text is not getting through?  <Me neither... but no worries> Anyway, the reason I was writing to you is because I am trying to cycle my tank. I have a 55 gallon marine tank. I added tap water to the tank and turned all my equipment on. A week later I added 30 lbs of semi-cured LR. At this point my skimmer started skimming. Three days later I added another 45 lbs or Rock. One of my friends recommended that I throw a dead shrimp in there and let it decompose to help the cycle.  <Yikes... there was/is plenty of other sources of starter media/decomposition from the live rock... pull the shrimp carcass out.> It has been four weeks now that the rock has been in there. All my testing has not shown any changes until today. For four weeks the ammonia was at .25 ppm, nitrate 10ppm, and nitrite .5 ppm. Just last night nitrate dropped to 2.5 ppm and the nitrite dropped to .2 ppm. The ammonia is still at .25 ppm. I have cleaned my canister twice because it was getting filled up with sand due to my shifting of the rock. After the cleaning, I added water that I let aerate for a week. Those are the only water changes that I have made. Are my test results normal? <Hmm, yes... under the circumstances. Likely the addition of so much new LR so quickly for this size, shape system... and the addition of the shrimp... forestalled establishment of cycling... Hold off on adding any livestock at this point.> This morning I also noticed a brown type of algae building up on the tank walls and the sand. I am not sure if this is normal either. <Yes, normal. To be expected.> On a side note. I also noticed that the green, purple and red coralline on the rock is turning white. Is it dying? <Yes, some... along with other changes, succession.> Please refer to the close up of the rock that I sent you. It shows the white spots on it. There is also some white hairy stuff growing on the rock. Unfortunately I don't have a pic of that. I did notice on your FAQ about someone else experiencing this. Can I do anything to stop the coralline from turning white and stop the hairy white stuff from growing on the rock? <Yes...> My equipment is as follows: 1)55 Gal rectangular tank 2)Ehiem 2026 Pro II Filter Media: (1) Ehfi Mech (2) Ehfi Substrat (1) Pad and Pillow set (1) 3 Pak carbon pads 3)Bak-Pak 2 protein Skimmer w/bio bale 4) (2) Maxi-Jet Powerhead (1) 600 and (1) 900 5)New and Improved JBJ lighting. (4) 55W power compacts. Two daylight and two blue, 10,000K each. Thanks again, -RK <Read further on the WWM site re corallines: http://wetwebmedia.com/corlalgfaqs.htm is the "pro" coralline algae FAQs section... You can boost, retain this encrusting algal growth with attention to pH, alkalinity and biomineral content at this point. Do keep monitoring your water quality otherwise, doing water changes if more than 1.0 ppm of either ammonia, nitrites... And we'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Reef tank (algae control) Mr. Fenner, I appreciate your continued help and all you do for the marine aquarium hobby.  <Ah, everyone needs to feel important. I am glad to be so here> I once again need your expert advice. I'm beyond frustrated with my reef tank. I currently have an outbreak of ich, and have moved my fish to a quarantine tank, and am lowering the salinity and temp to attempt to clear it out. (right track?)  <Yes> but the ich I can deal with. my biggest problem is algae. we finally got our live rock about 50% covered with coralline algae, then it was suddenly (in approx. 1 week) taken over by what looks like a carpet-like green and brown algae. I clean it off the glass weekly, but it comes back full strength by the end of the week. I can't figure out a way to get it off the rocks at all. any advice would be greatly appreciated.  <Have you read through the mass of materials on algae causes/controls posted on our site? Please start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm See all the blue colored links above? I know they're a bunch of them. Do read through these> one final question. have you ever heard of "Reef Vital DNA, enhanced reef life energizer" by Marc Weiss companies, inc.? we got it because it says it enhances coralline algae growth. I have been using it steadily (as directed) for over a week. could this stuff be encouraging my algae growth? any ideas? <This product is trouble. Discontinue it, return it and demand a refund. It is helping the algae problem almost assuredly> sorry this email was so long, but I have so many questions, and you're a fountain of knowledge on this subject. thanks again!! Tracy <No worries my friend. Study. Bob Fenner>

Lighting for coralline algae Dear Robert, It's really great to get the reply from you in so short a period of time. Do you think that 36W compact fluorescent will have enough intensity for growing coralline algae in 22 gallon live rock only tank? i.e. 1.6 Watt/Gallon. (Along with good calcium, Strontium, alkalinity, pH, and none algae competitors). <Yes> One of my friend has got a new tank and currently undergo second stage of Nitrogen cycle, i.e. little ammonia and rising nitrite. <I see> He bought some live rocks with purple coralline algae, which I personally think isn't appropriate time. But anyway after two days, the coralline algae started to vanish and some area turned to white/bleach. <Yes... "chemical imbalances"> What do you think of the following is the main reason for vanishing or bleaching? (a) Medium Nitrite level (b) 1.6 Watt/Gallon in Compact Fluorescent Lighting (c) New water quality in new tank <As a percent? 80% (c), including 30% (a)...> Do you think the vanishing will stop eventually? <Of a certainty yes... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Alexcych

Lighting for coralline algae Dear Robert, I have searched the web and read all the article in your web site. The information provided in your site is both helpful and educational. <All! No wonder we have so much bandwidth in play!> I have some questions about lighting requirements on growing coralline algae on live rock. For growing coralline in a live rock only tank, is that the intensity (watt per gallon) need as much as possible? <No... there are many species of encrusting red (et al color) algae. Some take very little light, others more intense... None as much as what aquarists growing Acroporids, tridacnid clams provide. Other materials/inputs may be missing: biomineral content, alkalinity principally... or you may have too much in the way of chemical competition by way of other algal growth... or too much in the way of predation (many hermits, urchins eat corallines...)> If we want desired purple, do we need high intensity or low intensity? <"Medium" is fine. A couple of watts per gallon of compact fluorescent, metal halide let's say very generally> What will NITRITE be affected the growing of coralline algae? Coralline Still exist or vanish? <Nitrite presence can indirectly effect coralline growth/health... as it is an indication of incomplete cycling... Not the nitrite itself, but the conditions which are allowing, producing the nitrite... Better to make efforts at coralline enhancing after the system has cycled. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Acych

Coralline Algae Bleaching Bob Over the last three weeks I've noticed my once purple coralline algae is beginning to turn white. In a number of locations entire portions of rock have bleached white. The fish and corals don't seem to be effected. All my water test seem to be fine except the dKH which is always around 5 -6. I have trouble getting it up and am constantly adding Kent Superbuffer dKH. I have not added calcium because it seems to stay around 450 dropping to about 400 between water changes. About two months ago I put in a RO system and have been using RO water which requires me to use the dKH builder to get it up around 10 before doing the change. But it drops off fast in just a couple days. Does this sound right? <Yes, right and wrong...> And do you think this has anything to do with the bleaching? <Yes, likely there is a deficiency in total alkalinity at play here, though other inputs may be lacking as well.> The tank is 135 gal and I change @ 25 gal every 2 - 3 weeks. Any help would be appreciated Thanks Jim <Hmm, well... I would "jump ahead" and use a calcium reactor and all it entails... In the shorter term you could add simple sodium bicarbonate for a while... Please read over these possibilities, on our site, starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/alkmarfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Coralline Algae Dear Robert, Thanks for your quick reply. The original tank in keeping these 2 live rocks: 15 Gallon Tank, 24" (L) 12" (H) 12" (D) Only 6 pieces of Fiji Live Rocks, no corals. Lighting of 2 pieces of standard 20W fluorescent tubes, one day white, one blue. <Ah, so not so much different than your set-up> Is that true that the 18W power compact tubes in Mini-Might will have a bigger intensity than the 40W standard fluorescent tubes that my friend used in his tank? <Mmm, yes... per watt consumed, per square surface area, per useful photonic energy> In my case, do you think it is better to put one more 18W Mini-Might to the existing one in my hex tank? <Yes> Since my tank is 20" high, will the 36W Mini-Might bleach the purple coralline algae? <Bleach? No. Also, this algae is likely just recuperating from being moved at this point. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Alex

Coralline Algae Dear Robert, Thanks again for your immediate reply. Do you think that two Mini-Might of total 36W will be better for my live rock, fish only and no corals tank? Will 36W be too bright for my small fishes? If I put one more 18W to my existing 18W, can I put two or three pieces of cured live rocks in? What will be the best light combination for my tank that consists only live rocks and fishes, no coral tank? 2 white and two blue or 3 white and 1 blue? Thanks, Alex <Mmm, please read the "marine light, lighting" pieces and FAQs archived on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com These queries are addressed there. Bob Fenner>

Coralline Algae Dear Robert, I have a problem on the coralline of my live rock. Try to ask a few pet shops people here but they all give me different answers. <Perhaps there are different answers> Talk to a buddy of mine and he suggests me to give you a e-mail. I have a hex tank made of Plexi-glass. Each side of the bottom is 10" and height of tank is 20". Only equipped with CPR BakPak, 200W heater, a internal power head for circulation and no fish. Last week, my buddy gave me two pieces of small live rocks all covered with purple coralline algae and 3 small damsels. ( Level of Calcium 400ppm and alkalinity 9 dKH.) <Last week...> But there isn't much room on top of my 10" hex to put a big lighting fixture. I only bought a new Coralife Mini-Might with 2 9-watt power compact tubes, one daylight 5000K and one actinic blue 7100K. I don't know if the light intensity of 18W is enough to grow or maintain existing purple coralline. <If there weren't too many competing and/or predatory organisms in this system, maybe> Do you think that coralline on live rock need a high intensity light, or low intensity light? <There are species that require either and some that can only live with one, high or low... Not trying to "be funny". This is so. To the point, under what conditions (light et al.) was this rock and coralline growing before your getting it?> Is my 18W Mini-Might got enough intensity for a tank height of 20"? <Not for much in the way of "light-using life".> If the intensity isn't enough and I put 2 sets of Mini-Might, i.e. 36W, will this be too much intensity? <Not too much> Will 36W be too much intensity and bleach the purple color on coralline to white? <Again, what were the prevailing light, water quality parameters where the rock came from? Unless it had "just been there" a short while, this is what the life in/on the rock is "used to"> I won't be added any soft corals in future, only want to keep the purple coralline algae on the 2 pieces of live rocks (each L/R size 6" x 4" x 3"). Do you have any suggestions on lighting I used on my 20" high hex tank? <Hmm, actually, to get/use a larger tank. I agree with you that your options are too small with the dimensions of this system... fluorescents don't fit it... metal halides overheat it...> Also, is it true that the growing of coralline algae also rely on spectrum of light? <Yes my friend. You know important things about these rhodophytes. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/corlalgfaqs.htm> Do we need to replace the power compact tube around 9 months, despite it is working? <Yes, again please peruse our site re this topic: http://wetwebmedia.com/lighting.htm and the many related files.> Thanks for your help. <A pleasure, honor and duty. Bob Fenner> Best wishes, Alex

Coralline Algae Quick question for you Bob. Coralline algae. It's starting to "prosper" quite well in my tank. I have over 100 pea sized growths on my tank. These are all green. I'm going to let it encrust the entire back and sides, and the lower 1" of the front... does this sound okay? <Sure> I do see about 10 of the pink variety starting to grow as well. Is there a reason why the green grows so rapidly while the pink took over a month longer to begin growing?  <Mmm, yes... conditions favor this type/species... more light, perhaps lack of available biominerals, alkalinity... perhaps predators are eating the encrusting reds... a few other possibilities> I'm wondering if different color coralline grows better under a certain "color" of light. <Yes... not so much apparent color but wave lengths, intensities...> Not so much that I care whether it's green, pink or purple, just my curious nature pondering a question that wasn't answered by your FAQ's. - Euge <Point taken. Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Cleaner shrimp parasite and coralline algae questions Dear Bob, <Lorenzo here, responding for Bob-in-Indonesia> Well we survived ick thanks to your recommendations and now we have a cleaner shrimp problem. I mentioned that our shrimp had a growth on its side and you said there was nothing we could do about it but live with it. Now the shrimp's antennae are starting to look like they are becoming brittle. Is this related? Could the parasite be depleting the nutrients the shrimp needs? I've started feeding it vitamin enriched flakes (any vitamins we need to look specifically give it?) directly and added some calcium to the water. We can test the calcium levels since we purchased a kit (rather expensive). Our tang visits his shrimp regularly so I suspect he's eating parasites. <Sounds like you're doing pretty everything you reasonably can, for this shrimp.> I've also noticed that the beautiful coralline algae on our live rock from Fiji is dying off. We have florescent lights (2 actinic 2 full spectrum) and given the heat and blackouts in California, we're reluctant to upgrade to metal halide since we'll need to get into chillers. Do you think that increasing the calcium level would help? Our LFS recommended we add some every day. <Hmm. Coralline usually does fine under fluorescents, unless your tank is particularly deep, or the bulbs are quite old (>1 year) Metal Halide is definitely not necessary for healthy coralline. Yes, increasing the calcium level may help, especially if it's quite low, and if the 'full-spectrum' bulbs are more than 10-12 months old, I'd replace those as well. My favorites for standard fluorescent fixtures are the 180 degree (internal reflector) 'Trichromatic' from Coralife, the 'full-spectrum' from the local Home Depot definitely won't do. If you really want to upgrade your lighting without moving to MH, look to Power Compacts, or compact fluorescents, as they're sometimes called. Most modern, efficient lighting currently available to the hobbyist. Not cheap. But cheaper than MH! (especially the electricity!) -Lorenzo>

Getting Coralline Algae to Grow <Lorenzo Gonzalez here, doing my Bob Fenner impression...> <<And who says the copy isn't better than the original? Bob>> What is a simple way or what do you need to do in order to get purple or nice coralline algae to grow and what does it need in order to thrive and is that supplement/food available? <The best way to get started is with a bunch of nice live rock, carefully selected from your local fish store, or with some 'hand-picked' live-rock from Flying Fish, or Gerald, at Indo-Pacific Sea Farms, (www.ipsf.com) sells 'frags' for just this purpose. As for supplements/food, you could use (sparingly/half-recommended-dosage) the Kent Coral-Vite - this is a mineral rich concoction suitable for a healthy/growing tank of live rock and calcareous algaes. When it comes right down to it, most people grow their purple/pink coralline by just putting a bunch of live rock in the tank and waiting patiently...  -Lorenzo>

New tank setup (sump file) Hi Bob, I have the new tank setup and so far all is well. I did not lose any life in the move to the new tank. That's the first time I have done such a move. <Ah, congratulations> I also took some pictures and they can be found at: http://www.cia.com.au/winone <Very nice, like the side to side image/text layout> Please let me know if there is anything I have forgotten to do? <Hmm, do an experiment with your sump by turning off the power and checking to see what happens with the water level there... you may need a larger container down below... or at least to mark the highest level you want to have it filled to with the tank in operation (lest it overflow should the power go out...)> I was wondering what needs to be done to get the pinky-red algae growing? What water parameters favour the pinky-red algae? <Please read over the "Coralline Algae" FAQs on the www.WetWebMedia.com site here> Thank you for all the help you have given me over the last couple of weeks. Without your help I would still be struggling away trying to fix one problem after another. Many thanks :) <You are welcome my friend. Glad to be of help. Bob Fenner> Warmest regards Lucien

Coralline Algae Rob, I have read your website and have found lots of useful information. I just started my first marine tank I have had freshwater tanks for the past 10 years). I'm having trouble growing coralline algae. It is either bleaching or just wasting away. The tank is a 20H, I have a twin-tube fluorescent hood with one actinic blue bulb, and one full spectrum bulb centered around 5500 K. The calcium is at 400 ppm, the alkalinity is at 9 dKH, the ammonia and nitrates are almost undetectable. Any advice to remedy the situation would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Adam Weingarten <Hmm, don't know what exactly you're looking for... the set-up you describe "is fine"... for culturing coralline red algae... do you have predators that may be eating it? Other nutrient availability? Competing photosynthates? If no to the above... time going by will grant you encrusting algae... Bob Fenner>

No Coralline Algae Growth Robert, The growth I spoke of in my last message has terminated. Now my problem is that I cannot get a growth of coralline algae (the purple type) on my live rock. The existing coralline seems ok but does not look healthy. Here are all the chemicals that I put in the tank. Any ideas??? Supplements added to my 90 Gallon tank; -B-Ionic 1 and 2 20ML per day -Kent Liquid Calcium 5 ml per day (kept at level of 440) -Strontium- Molybdenum 10 ml per week -Chelated Iron 5 ml per week -Combi-San 10 ml per week -Coral Vital 35 ml per week <Oh... my... this is a real mish-mash... depending on what's been put in, is still in solution... where are the readings for alkalinity, biominerals (calcium, strontium), iron... I would definitely drop the "snake oil" sugar/non-vital product... it's a scam and likely causing you trouble here... And do get, use test kits... and record their readings... and do look into just using a calcium reactor... and getting out of the "Supplement Madness" game... you're a prime candidate.> My tank: 90 Gallons, Power compacts and Fluorescent lamps 20 Gallon sump Protein Skimmer 6 small fish 200 pounds of live rock All water is deionized <Doesn't matter if the water you start with is de-ionized... with all the stuff you're pouring in... Please do read over the "Supplement", "Calcium", "Alkalinity", "Algae Filtration", "Calcium Reactor" and relate FAQs sections posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com site. I'd really like to help you save money, your mind and happiness in the hobby here. Bob Fenner>

Filters (coralline algae) Bob, I have a couple of questions for you. First, I have a 125 gallon aquarium and I am looking to upgrade my filter. I currently have two Penguin Bio Wheel filters and have been looking into going to a sump of some sort <Good idea... maybe run all...> I have been looking at the Pro-Line wet/dry filters and the Maxi Reef filters. <Seem like nice units.> I have read that these will cause the nitrate levels to rise in the tank so I started looking for something else and saw the Amiracle Berlin filters. <Better to leave the "wet-dry" media out of all wet-dry/trickle filters in fully-established live rock systems.> The bottom line is I am really confused about what to do. I would like to get something that will increase the quality of my water. My water is currently at all the good levels but I seem to be doing a water change about every two weeks. <A good practice in all systems> I currently have six fish and around sixty pounds of live rock. I'm really not sure which direction to go. I was interested in the Amiracle Berlin filters but I can't seem to find much information on them.  <Take a look over their site (Link, and articles on marine filtration, FAQs galore: www.wetwebmedia.com> Can you please help point me in the right direction? My second question is that I can't seem to get any coralline algae growing in my aquarium. I currently have three five foot VHO bulbs, two white one blue, and my Calcium and Alkalinity levels are where they should be. Am I doing something wrong? <Many possibilities here... likely either HOW you're keeping those biomineral and alkalinity readings "where they should be" (i.e. supplement poisoning), or the presence of certain predators, competitors for light, nutrients... see the articles on coralline...> My aquarium has been set up for six months now and went through the green and brown algae blooms but never seemed to get into the purple coralline algae. Thank you for any help you may offer. Gianluca <I suspect you need to elevate your alkalinity... a calcium reactor would be best all the way around for this and other benefits... and extend the daylight time... Much more I need to know re your set-up. Gear, history, livestock. Bob Fenner>

75 Gallon Reef System Hello, I was wondering if you might be able to answer a few questions I have on my current system. First I will list exactly what I have and the supplements I provide. I have had this system setup for about two years now. It includes a 75 gallon tank, 4-55watt Power Compact lighting system, Berlin Red Sea Skimmer, Amiracle slim-line series sump, two little giant pumps, I use 4 small powerheads in the tank to keep water circulating. I use CaribSea substrate, I keep the Ca around 400-450, Ph 8.0-8.3, Temp fluctuates around 78 at night, and 81 thru the day with the lights on. I use SeaChem additives, currently use iodide, Powder form of reef advantage, and Marine Buffer. I also use Chemi-Pure in the sump and Seachem's product for removing phosphates from the water. I always top off the water in the evenings with distilled water, usually around a gallon per day. I currently have around 100lbs of live rock, a leather coral, fox coral, med. size clam, polyps, pagoda coral, several mushrooms, etc. I had a very large collection of corals until the tank crashed. But anyway, having said all of this; My problem is that I cannot get the coralline algaes to start growing in my tank on the glass or the live rock. I have fought with this for the past year. Every time I start to see the purple start to become visible on the live rock, in a few days it just disappears. I have had this reoccurrence for the past year. Every time the coralline algae starts to develop it seems like it crashes every time and disappears. I have no idea why this is happening, but I have had this same cycle for the past year or year and a half. I was wondering if it could possible be the alkalinity levels in the tank, or if the growth was consuming other minerals in the tank. I have thought about adding a calcium reactor and CO2 system to the tank. I hate to invest that much money though, if it will not cure the problem I am having. Also, I was going to ask for your opinions on what calcium reactors you would suggest in the event that I do invest in the system. I hope I have provided enough information for you to have some suggestions on what might be the cause of this. If I have not, please email back to me any additional information you might need. Also, I do not have any current readings for alkalinity in the tank. I do know when I kept a daily log of testing, my alkalinity was always low. But I do appreciate your time and I hope you might be able to help with this problem. Thank You Matt Smith  <Thank you for your thoughtful, complete message. You are definitely on "a/the right path" here... and indeed, would bet most all that the coralline quandary is due directly to the lack of alkaline reserve in your system (you should at least get a test kit for) and the indirect cause the supplements that are precipitating out carbonate/bicarbonate (the alkalinity) in your system's water... And further, that the simplest, most assured route to go... you list... is a calcium reactor... And very possibly (because the cost per gallon is about the same), a much larger system... Do take a read through the pH, alkalinity, supplements, calcium et al related pieces stored on our site: Home Page , and we'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Coralline Algae i.d. Hi Bob. Could you describe in details how to identify coralline algae? Secondly, if these algaes are growing on the power heads, is it okay to remove them or ignore it? Please advice. Thanks. >> Don't know if I can... they're encrusting with CaCO3 base material... so, if you dry some, it'll turn white, foam with the application of an acid... have no pores (old designation, Nullipora, to distinguish...)... Do you have a microscope? Or, can you feel the matter with your hand? If it's hard, this IS likely some type(s) of coralline algae. Okay to ignore on most anything... would remove from viewing panels (gingerly, like with fancy commercial plastic scraper or credit cards), but that's all. Bob Fenner

Re: Lighting Bob, In your book you state that reef systems can take some pretty intense lighting. However, I also notice that one of your responses on coralline algae states that corallines grow best under low light conditions. I currently use two 48 inch fluorescent marine lights in my 72 gallon aquarium. How do I encourage coralline algae growth and maintain an adequate level of lighting for viewing the aquarium? >> Ah, the ever-present question of balance. Yes, boosting your system by intense lighting generally favors other forms of algal life, in particular various species of greens (division Chlorophyta), over the reds including corallines (division Rhodophyta). In your stated circumstances I wouldn't be concerned about over-intense lighting. Your system is not that bright. What you can do to increase your coralline growth is assure sufficient levels of alkaline reserve (alkalinity) and biomineral concentration (in particular calcium). You want 3.5 or higher meq/l of the former and 350-450 ppm of calcium respectively.  Do you know how to measure, boost these parameters? You should look into useful test kits, develop a logging mechanism for your testing, and study the various ways of raising and stabilizing these important water quality measures. You might well benefit from reading over the materials on marine pH, alkalinity, calcium and related matters posted on the site: Home Page  Bob Fenner

Is white growth (algae?) on live rock a good thing to have in a reef tank? >> Not a problem... typically these are sorts of encrusting red algae that are missing something (generally biominerals or alkalinity). Bob Fenner

Reef Tank I have a 90 Gallon Reef Tank. I currently use 4 - 100w VHO lights. Two URI super actinic and 2 actinic. My problem is that the algae on the rock is bleaching out. The only algae that stay red is shaded by rock or down low in the tank. Alkalinity is 3 and calcium is 450. Do you think the lights are to strong? I am using ESV additives for alkalinity and calcium. >> Hmm, the lighting is bright, favoring other algal forms... but you can probably recover the corallines... Try adding a teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) a day... if/till you can register more than six milliequivalents per liter of alkalinity (it won't happen)...  Bob Fenner

Trace elements O.K. One more question, no, not a question, I'll call this a puzzle in which I don't have all the pieces to finish myself. I did a little experiment. I have a built in overflow chamber in my 75-gal aquarium. It also has a protein skimmer, Fluval 404 canister filter, 2 1,000-gal/hr powerheads, some live rock, aragonite substrate, and a few fish. All my fish are very healthy, including my 4 to 5-inch juvenile imperator angel. However, my coralline algae is suffering. A was digging around in a box of supplies my friend gave for the aquarium and found some mineral/trace element chalky-octangle-porous chips of about 4-inch diameter and 2 inches thick. No label was provided with the chips but I was suggested to break it in half and drop one in my overflow chamber. I did this.  To my surprise I saw amazing coralline algae growth on the glass and bottom of the overflow chamber. It may be good to note that the chamber also contains a few bio-balls which shade the bottom of the chamber. Surprised at what I witnessed after the first chip had completely dissolved (1-2 weeks), I wedged one between two pieces of live rock that had decaying coralline algae. Nothing happened that I could see to this coralline algae. However, the algae in the overflow chamber began regressing. I then added another chip to the overflow chamber and witnessed another growth spurt. I hypothesized that the overflow chamber allowed a local concentration of what ever was in the chips to increase, giving the algae the ability to grow by supplementing what was otherwise lacking. I thought of purchasing and adding trace elements in higher doses that may be more appropriate for my tank volume. I was previously thinking about adding Kalkwasser (too poor to buy a reactor, yet). Now, I doubt that the increased growth was a result of supplemented calcium by the chips? Further complicating the puzzle, I contacted Aquarium Systems, and found that newly mixed Indoor Oceans salt water at 1.026 has calcium at 400 ppm and alkalinity at 3.02-3.5 meq/L. I do add baking soda at the doses recommended in your book every week. It seems that the concentrations provided by the Indoor Oceans salt mix provides an optimal condition for coralline algae growth. Of course one would expect consumption of the elements, but the 7.5% weekly water change should replenish anything lost. Can you give your opinion on the coralline algae growth? I would love to get this effect throughout my tank. I apologize, I feel that test kits encourage me take unnecessary steps in maintaining my water quality. The fish seem to love the water and that is good enough for me. Can you make conclusions without knowing exact concentrations? I also wondered if my skimmer may be 'over skimming' and depleting the elements? Thanks, Jeff >> Lots of interesting observations here.... Does seem that the "block" (alkalinity booster) did more good in your filter flow path... and the same material was probably more toxic than beneficial when/where you wedged it in between the rocks... You can buy the same mix of carbonates, bicarbonates as liquid prep.s... and do get/use a test kit at least for alkalinity and calcium to use along with them.... and get ready to study up re the interrelationships of these phenomena... Bob Fenner

Help Bob: Tonight my wife noticed something awful. My coralline algae is getting covered with green algae. I've written before, so you know the tank conditions. What should I do -- Get rid of my wife, or is there some way to reverse the situation? <A few things can be done... either changing the chemical and physical conditions to favor the encrusting reds/disfavor the greens (like elevating pH, insolubilizing phosphate by administering... Kalkwasser to a pH of about 8.4-8.5...), or adding some (more) green algae eaters (Mithrax Crabs, Salarias Blenny (one), Blue Legged Hermit Crabs...), placing organisms that will produce chemical antagonists (the usual plug here for macro-algae in your main tank, or a sump... ideally as a lighted mud/muck filter arrangement... Or just allowing "succession".... Keep the wife> I stopped Kalkwasser and started adding 5 ml of calcium each day along with tech A&B (plus usual chemicals each week). <Ahh, see above> By the way, it was 80 degrees here in Indy today!!!! Being a southern boy, I love spring when it's supposed to be here (not May, as usual for the Midwest). <Yeah, this last week visiting with friends in PA in the fish business and hobby, it was nicer there than back home in San Diego... Bob Fenner>

Live Rock Read your daily Q & A and use your book as the marine bible, thanks for some great information. Several questions: I have a FOWLR set-up, do I need to add supplements to support/promote coralline algae growth? If so, do you recommend Seachem-Reef Complete? What is your recommended calcium value 420, 450? In all my research I have been unable to determine if I need to provide an alternative food/supplement for my cleaner shrimp? Please advise. >> Hmm, well, if you'd like to "boost" or optimize your coralline growth... you can provide some "extra" calcium/and other biominerals... in whatever format/brand product... And do be aware that alkalinity is also absolutely necessary... If it were me, I'd be satisfied with anything around 350-400 ppm of calcium... but not at the expense of alkaline reserve... keep this in the 4 + milliequivalents per liter range and you will be the "tops" in coralline growth contests! An inexpensive way to boost alkalinity, BTW is simple baking soda, sodium bicarbonate (the principal ingredient in those "for aquarium" bottles...). The Cleaner Shrimp feeding question... if yours is interested/hungry, it will become "first to the dinner table" when you offer anything meaty to your fishes. Not to worry otherwise. Be chatting, Bob Fenner

Calcareous Algae Bob, I am currently curing live rock with various beautiful shades of calcareous algae. I want to know what I need to do to provide an environment for it not only to excel, but more importantly spread. Can you give me 1) the specific additives I should use with the recommended dosages and 2) the lighting requirements (appears this type algae prefers less light). I currently have no corals or any other invertebrates in the tank. Second question, is the treatment of the purple, white, green and orange algae (calcareous) all the same? Is one color more dominant that will in time will overtake the others? Thanks, Mark >> What good/careful writing here! To culture encrusting Red (Rhodophytes), and other Divisions of algae is sometimes an easy, other times a seemingly impossible task.  The essence of this proposal is providing the necessary elements (lighting, biominerals, alkalinity mainly) in the absences or balance of competing and predatory life... Per the first question, there is no "A,B,C" of just "what to pour in" that can be prescribed... but something along these lines that includes a suggested use of test kits... principally calcium and alkalinity... Now, please follow along with me here, because there is a very simple relationship that many folks seem wont to understand... to their detriment, and the makers of supplements glee... between many of the "additives" like Kalkwasser and other simple (mainly CaOH, CaCl2) compound purveyors and alkalinity... for the most part, these aspects of manipulation are mutually exclusive: when you add carbonates/bicarbonates and the former, one of them "loses", i.e. precipitates out as non-useable material... So, if your plan includes (and this is the worst way I would actually go about this), using Kalkwasser or one of the products that just contains ostensibly the same single compound method of introducing calcium... you will have to strike a balance between biomineral (let's say 350 ppm of calcium) and alkalinity (let's say 3-4 milliequivalents per liter). Now, that being stated (and a real source of frustration for many reef keepers, and bandwidth on my part), I would not go this route, unless you have the time, patience for it... Instead, to have the second-most chance for success in the arena of supplying necessary alkalinity AND biomineral, do look into the "two part" products that yield both... OR (drum rolls please), skip right ahead to the very best technology, a calcium reactor... utilizing CO2 gas...  Articles and questions re the culture of corallines can be found archived at my www.wetwebmedia.com site if this input is too slight. The lack of predators and competitors is probably straight-forward so we'll leave off with more explanation here. The amount of light is important in the competition arena... as intense lighting will favor other photosynthetic life as you point out, with the encrusting, low-light forms living mainly "under" the rock, rather in full view (BTW, from the wild, to aquarists' use, they do generally "flip the rock over" from how it is found!)... so lower full-spectrum lighting (20k lumens) as a rule (at the site, you might want to borrow a lumen or PAR meter...) is the route to go... with other light-using organisms either kept nearer the surface, or if high-intensity types, excluded from the system.  And yes, to your query re the apparent color of coralline and other encrusting forms... They do have different light et al. requirements and do change by the species depending on the same, the types of pigments that predominate depending on your system circumstances, and the storage foods they are employing... By providing different micro-environments and making the system variable (more, less light month to month, changing lamps... foods to your other livestock...) you can influence one group over others... Bob Fenner, who wishes you had been his lab partner in his Phycology classes

Coralline algae Bob, my 180 gallon tank is being over run with purple coralline algae. There is a solid blanket on the back glass and I have to scrape the front every two weeks. Any advise on how to slow this growth down? Thanks tom  >> There are a bunch of folks who would gladly trade tanks with you... but there are a few ways to cut back on the encrusting reds. You can cut back on your calcium concentration (are you supplementing? Cut back!). You can add some competitive encrusting green algae... like a Halimeda species... And increase your lighting... this favors non-red algae photosynthates. There are some encrusting red algae eaters... but let's hold off on these and opt for these other controls for now. Bob Fenner 

Help and Thks for Conscientious Marine Aquarist Bob,  Thank you for writing The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, it has been by far the best investment in my efforts to maintain and sustain a marine fish environment. After nearly 1 1/2 years my success rate is probably lower than Shaq's free-throw percent. The last 6 months there haven't been a lost specimen, but Damselfish and Triggers are pretty indestructible. With the 100 lbs of live rock in the 110 gal tank, what products/additives will promote the growth of lavender coralline algae. Any suggestion would be appreciated. Thanks and best regards, Anthony >> Thanks so much for writing... and pumping me up! Do check into the "combined" alkalinity and biomineral supplement lines (your coralline algae and rock need both)... My favorite lines (currently) are made by Tropic Marine, Kent Marine and SeaChem... and if you'll be going this valuable adjunct route, do get/use alkalinity and calcium test kits. Next, the Big Reef and a calcium reactor! Bob "too short to dunk" Fenner

Sustaining the cond.s to grow Corallines I have Fiji live rock and in certain places it has gone white. After increasing the calcium it finally started to turn purple again, I use Kent Marine Expert Series Turbo Calcium. However, every time I do a water change I notice that it starts to die off again. What's going on and what can I do to increase the growth of the purple algae? Steve Kolobaric <<A few things might/may account for the apparent die-back of your corallines... the more likely have to do with chemical reactions that have to do with a loss of alkalinity... a necessary aspect along with biomineral availability... I would get/use an alkalinity test kit.... and strive to keep this concentration above 5 milliequivalents per liter... Additionally, I would pre-mix and store my new/make-up seawater in another container for a week or more before use. Bob Fenner>>

Coralline Algae Hi Bob, thank you for the help with my Anchor coral. I am happy to say he seems to be doing fine. I did add the vitamins.  My questions is concerning coralline algae color. I have the pink starting to grow over my rocks and back glass. Some of it is either turning white or is just white to begin with. Is that a normal color or do I have a problem? Nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, phosphate are all 0. My calcium is 450. Do I have an alkalinity (spelling???) problem? This is the one test kit I currently do not have. Please advise. Thank you, Andrew >> It is possible that you have hit the proverbial nail on the head...do get an alkalinity test kit... and don't worry unduly... the coralline will turn colors... and return to pinkish to red (if those species are involved) with a balance of alkalinity and biomineral concentration. Bob Fenner

Coralline algae. Description of tank: 30 g (24" x 12" x 24"), CPR Bakpak II w/ bio-bale removed, Hamilton PowerCompact lights (2 x 55 watts, 24 "), 1 24 " 20 W actinic bulb (dusk and dawn), 2 Rio 600 powerheads, approx. 45-55 lb. of Marshall Island Live rock, aragonite reef sand, occasional use of carbon and poly-marine filter pad Problem: Tank has been up and running for 2 years. All animals doing fine (6-line wrasse, lawnmower blenny), corals (Xenia, Sinularia, bubble, hammer, tons of mushrooms, green star polyps), derasa clam, bulb anemones, scarlet hermits, brittle stars, Astrea and margarita snails but here is my problem.All of the corralling algae is dying on my live rock and it is beginning to look like base rock. When I first got it the lager grew like crazy and was completely purple. Now, the rock is white and the only thing that will grow on it is short green large (not hair) that smells like pine tree. The corralling algae is going nuts and growing everywhere else except the rock (the glass, powerheads, skimmer box, etc). My powerheads are completely purple now!! I have checked ph and nitrates and both are fine (0 nitrates).  I am using the same supplements that I have always been using (ESV b-ionic, iodine, strontium, and an occasional HBH balance block. I have experimented with light duration but nothing seems to change. Again, my corals and clam are growing great.  What do you recommend I do? Lights, supplements? And how do you think I can make that "pine tree smelling algae" go away? Thank you for your help. >> A bunch of things stated here of import... and a lot to say. Firstly, your tank has undergone a not-unpredictable evolution if you will... given its size, original assembled livestock, feeding and chemical introduction.  Re the current coralline algae die-off, mystery loss... and "pine smell"... this may have something to do with selective predation on some organisms parts)... but is much more likely due to chemical circumstances (natural and induced) in your system... But more (or only) to the point... how to reverse the trend. You're doing a great deal to forestall the loss of diversity and algae in your set-up through the gear you're using and maintenance procedures... I do have an idea of how to "re-start" your system back to where you might want to be: A big addition or supplanting of your current live rock and substrate. By (re)placing a good part of these materials (with clean, mostly cured material) over/in place of the older stuff you have, more alkalinity, alkaline earth, and other matter will be readily supplied, and along with other new organisms will jolt the make-up and dynamics of your system. I would not do anything different with your lighting, other than the routine replacement of lamps... and would mention that the adaptation that your corals and clam have exhibited will "take a hit" with this proposed change... but will re-adapt. Otherwise, if you've been happy with the results of the supplementing practice, I'd stick with your routine... but do look into a move into a calcium reactor...  Bob Fenner

Bleaching?? Hi, I have a 46 gallon reef tank with a Sea Clone protein skimmer, and three Rio powerheads. My tank is filled with Fiji live rock, numerous corals including, 3 different kinds of mushrooms, 3 different leathers, hammer coral, star polyps, and button polyps, and Goniopora (flower pot). I also have 3 camel back shrimp,1 fire shrimp,1 serpent star, turbo snails, scarlet and blue crabs. My fish include a Mandarin, Six-line Wrasse, Firefish, and a Damsel. I have had the tank for about 8 months, and recently noticed that my live rock started turning WHITE. I hope you can tell me why. My skimmer cup accumulates brown-foamy liquid very quickly. I have been providing the tank with trace elements about twice a week. But that's about it. I have just recently bought a product by Seachem that is called Reef Complete. It includes calcium, strontium, and magnesium. Will this help? Will my live rock ever go back to looking nice? I have fluorescent lighting (Magtinic daylight, actinic blue) that stays on from 7:30am till about 10:30pm. Also, is there anything I can do to promote coralline algae growth? Thanx >> There are a few possible "missing something's" here... for one your lighting... though the lamps may still be "working" they're past their effective lifespans... (their intensity has lessened and they've phase-shifted...) Start replacing the lamps, one every few weeks (mark them with a permanent marker and rotate them out henceforth, every seven, eight months on your time schedule)...  The alkaline earth additive should definitely help. Start using per the manufacturers explicit instructions. There are a few other things you could do to promote coralline growth.. but do us all a favor first and get/use an alkalinity and calcium test kit and tell me what your values are. Bob Fenner

Purple Algae Growth My question is that I cannot get my purple coralline algae to grow. I dose with Kalkwasser and use high output lighting (Metal Halide and 2 VHO lamps).  I use Reef Crystals and do water changes every two weeks. Any suggestions on how to boost up the purple algae or any other products that I could be  using?? Thanks. >> Hmm, well you need at least to look into alkalinity (takes both this and calcium to grow corallines), and the possibility that you have Hermit crab species that are eating your corallines faster than they can spread... Or that you have other life that is out-competing your corallines for alkaline earth minerals, and other nutrients (like some fast growing macro-algae)... Any of this "ring a bell"? Bob Fenner How do it Grow?! I have had an 80 gallon reef tank set up for almost a year now. My problem is that I can not get my coralline algae to grow. I used about forty pounds of live rock that had been dried out completely to get rid of an Aiptasia problem I had in another tank. I also used ten to fifteen pounds of good Fiji rock. The coralline growth is scarce on the previously dried rock and doing well on the Fiji rock. I dose strontium, calcium and coralline booster by Mark Weiss. What am I doing wrong? My other question is that it is getting time for me to change my lights. I have two 175 watt metal halides that have 10,000k bulbs in them. And two pairs of 55 watt power compacts with actinic bulbs.  Should I stay with this set up or switch to 20,000k metal halides and day light compacts? Any suggestions would be appreciated. >> Hmm, a mix of possibilities as to the lack of coralline on your older rock... but I would switch to a "two part" supplement system (my choice? Either SeaChem or Kent Marine) from what you're presently using. Do you have alkalinity and calcium test kits? Save yourself some money on additives and invest in these. But, from what you're listing here, you're doing "nothing wrong"... it may well be that other life forms are favored by your system configuration... The lighting I would keep as is... with switching just one of the lamps of the MH and CF out in any given month.  Bob Fenner

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