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FAQs on Controlling Green/Chlorophyte Algae 2

Related FAQs: Green Algae Control 1, Green Algae Control 3, Green Algae Control 4, Green algae Control 5, Green Algae Control 6, Green Algae Control 7, & By Group: Bryopsis & Derbesia, Bubble Algae (Boergesenia, Dictyosphaeria, Valonia...), Caulerpa Compatibility/Control, Chaetomorpha, Halimeda, Neomeris, Hair (Filamentous, Attached) Algae, Green Water  (Planktonic) Algae Blooms, & Algae ControlMarine Algicide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; CaulerpasControlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Brown/Diatom Algae,

Related Articles: Embracing Biodiversity, Green Algae By Mark E. Evans, Algae Control, Caulerpa Algae, 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

Elysia (to some Tridachia) crispata, a Lettuce Nudibranch

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Turtle Weed versus Hair Algae IDs 7/30/05 Is Chlorodesmis fastigiata turtle weed and hair algae the same thing? <Nope... not even close my friend. There are more than a few general of so-called (nuisance) "hair algae". But only one turtle weed I know of: Chlorodesmis> From the pics I could find on the site, my algae is the turtle weed. <Bright green tufts... requiring extremely bright light and high water flow. See algaebase.org for more details versus Derbesia and other types of hair algae> Problem is that lately it has been growing out of control in my 130g tank. <ahhh... no way that its Turtle weed. Chlorodesmis is a slow growing ornamental. "True" hair algae is a fast growing nuisance. Most all aquarists experience the latter at some point in time from nutrients accumulating (weak water change schedule, poor protein skimming, etc.> I had it fallow for 5 weeks due to ick and then introduced my fish...Porc. puffer, 6 yellow tail damsels, Chromis, pink damsel, Foxface, raccoon butterfly, and lawnmower blenny back into the tank slowly over 3-4 weeks in order of aggressive fish last.  After doing this the algae is worse even though it was still present when the tank was fallow. <Indeed... a big influx of nutrients to feed it: fed fish pooping daily> Parameters are 0 except for nitrates which always run 5-15 due to messy puffer. Cant keep any snails other than bumble bee because of BF and puffer. They leave the bumble bees alone but they don't eat the algae. <Ironic, isn't it? :p> I scrape with brush the algae every other week but this is proving exhausting. <Yikes! This IS spreading it! Unless you strap that toothbrush to the end of a siphon tube and suck out the broken fragments as you go along> I get 3-4 cups a week on skimmer and use two powerheads- about 150gph&220gph- a maxi-jet 1200 on skimmer and AC 110 and Penguin 440 powerfilters for water circulation. <Fabulous! Hmmm... have you checked your phosphate and DOC levels (Salifert has a DOC test kit from Champion Light and Supply company for example)> I have read on the site people want to grow this stuff? In my tank it has just gone nuts.  I personally don't hate the way it looks, my husband does, but I have to admit now that it is encroaching on some pretty nice looking purple encrusted. Any other suggestions. Thanks ahead of time. Sherry <Try changing small amounts of carbon weekly instead of larger amounts monthly... use poly filters on your supply/source water (and display) and keep skimming aggressively. It will reduce in months. Maintaining a high and very steady pH at 8.6 knocks it down quickly too and is no harm to fishes or corals if kept steady. Best regards, Anthony>
Re: turtle weed 8/3/05
I replaced my phosphate remover just recently... when I noticed a growth in the hair algae. This is helping and the algae is slowly losing it's ability to stay adhered to rock. So it is slowly receding. You mentioned DOC levels for testing. What is this? <An acronym for Dissolved Organic Carbon> Have not heard of this. I test for the normals... nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, ph, hardness. Also might be a dumb question but are poly filters different from polyester filters? <Yes... Polyester is a base material for mechanical filtration, Polyfilters are a product that incorporates chemical filtration...> I have both but am wondering if these are the same. Also I will do the smaller amount more frequent change of carbon. Also you said that brushing without siphoning will spread the algae. I usually let my filters catch it. So this is not good as well and I should not brush it away? If yes than this is good for me. <Better to vacuum out as much loose algae (and the nutrient that it represents, will recycle), after brushing> What phosphate removers/reducers do you recommend. <Posted on WWM> I have used several types in the past and have found the pads to work pretty well, as well as phos ban, but what do you recommend?  Thanks so much. Sherry <Please include previous correspondence. Bob Fenner>

Green Hair Algae 7/28/05 Hi, gang.  Thanks for all the help.  Everything I have had to un-learn and re-learn has been from you guys (and gals).  I hope after reading this you will realize that I have "played by the rules" and researched the FAQs diligently before writing. <Thank you> Setup:  +/- 65 gallon custom-made reef-ready tank (according to the invoice, but I don't think it's that big), EcoSystem mud sump (you are right about Bob Smith, he helped me a great deal in the beginning) <Unfortunately no longer with Leng...> 3 X 96W power compacts (started with two, added a third - 10,000K, "true" actinic, and 50/50) and what started out as 95 lbs. of live rock and 20 lbs. of live sand.  After years of buying critters on rocks and cleaning substrate, I now have a lot more rock and a lot less sand.  I've added some other stuff over the years, cooling fans (replaced noisy, expensive Ice Caps with no-name, ultra quiet ones bought on EBay for $20), <Thank you for this> moon lights, etc.  I'm basically happy with the setup, but don't even get me started on the moron that built the tank - the tank is deep in the first place, but the cap has no doors up front so the extra height makes it impossible for me to reach the bottom to do maintenance without severing my arm at the pit. <Typical, trouble> When he set it up, the overflow sounded like Niagara Falls, so he stuffed it full of bio-bale - more to come on that... The following inhabitants are thriving in it:  2 ocellaris clowns (perhaps a mated pair, I bought them young and tiny early on and now one is a lot bigger and darker and I occasionally see a foamy ball that I believe may be eggs?), <Mmm, no> 2 zebra gobies, 4 green chromis, a lawnmower blenny (quite fat and happy) and (I know I need to sell him) a blue hippo tang that started off not much bigger than a quarter and is now bigger than a moon pie.  One turbo snail (Dr. Doolittle sized), Mexican red-legged hermits, mutant Hawaiian left handed hermits (why I only have ONE turbo snail left) assorted small snails (bumblebees, Nassarius), a Trochus/conchy thing, two peppermint shrimp, etc. I have one gigantic toadstool leather and its offspring, cabbage leather, finger leather, frogspawn, watermelon mushrooms, metallic green hairy mushrooms, assorted button polyps and Zoanthids, and... purple mushrooms, pulsing xenias and encrusting green star polyps that multiply exponentially. These guys should not be surviving in this tank.  I'm not even going to talk about my water quality, you would be appalled. <Fortunately, all have "grown up" together...> Sorry for the considerable amount of background information, now to the question part: Old age (four years) and a mass extinction of snails bought on EBay (my fault, coldwater snails and my tank is on the warm side) have taken their toll.  I have an outbreak of green hair algae and turtle weed.  The aforementioned bio-bale in my overflow looks like "Swamp Thing".  I want to overhaul my tank completely, so after researching your site here are my plan and questions: Would it be OK to remove the bio-bale from the overflow, clean it in saltwater (it is teeming with itty-bitty critters) and replace it?   <Yes> And with that in the overflow, would it be possible to remove the bio-balls in the first chamber of my sump and add a small footprint skimmer?   <Yes> (AquaC Urchin would be the best I could fit in there).  Then I would like to remove, gently scrub and replace my live rock (I have lots of little mollusks and feather worms living in my rock), but I see in the FAQs you recommend actually replacing some of the live rock.  How much can/should I replace (with cured live rock from the LFS)? <Twenty percent or so> And while I am at it, I want to build back up to the recommended 1" of live sand - same thing; can I safely add live sand at this point? <Yes> Can I do all of this at the same time, as well as my yearly partial mud change? <I would do one item per week...> And finally, since I am going to be basically breaking down and setting back up, how much water can I safely replace at once to try and get my nitrates down? <I would never change more than about a quarter of the water if I could avoid it> Thank you so much in advance.  The amount of information on your site is at times overwhelming but I could NOT do it without you! Happy and successful reef keeping, Rebecca Dishman <Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Green Hair Algae, Rebecca's input re cooling fan and moon light sources 7/28/05
Thanks a million, Bob.  I wish I could give you a big hug! <Consider yourself hugged in return> FYI, here are my fans: http://stores.ebay.com/Windydayzz and my moon lights: http://stores.ebay.com/Fishbowl-Innovations I'm extremely pleased with the quality and design of both, as well as great service, and would recommend them. Rebecca L. Dishman <Outstanding. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Green hairy algae and high nitrates 7/26/05 We have a 45 gallon, 16 month old reef aquarium which until about six months ago was perfectly balance chemically.  Oh yeah, live rock, live sand, and Aqua Clear wet./dry filter, a CAP 1800 pump, an unknown protein skimmer, and some charcoal.  Then, around January, the nitrates went really high (200+), but now they are in the high O.K. range and we are getting a lot of green hairy algae.  I've been reading your chat board and you have mentioned the protein skimmer should put out a couple of cups of sludge a week and ours doesn't even need to be dumped but every couple of weeks.  The skimmer was suggested by the aquarium shot where we got our tank, I think it is locally made (Jacksonville, FL), it wasn't expensive ($100), and is installed in the sump as per directions.  I'm thinking we should get a better skimmer due to the stupid algae.  We have 6 fish, one clam, one spiny oyster, and four corals.  Any suggestions?  Thanks. <Depending on size, six fish could be a bit much for a 45 gallon tank.  For skimmers to work efficiently, they must be cleaned weekly by removing the brown sludge that builds up on the riser tube.  For algae control Google "algae control" on the Wet Web Media.  James (Salty Dog)> Kim

Hair Algae/Dying Snails - 07/17/05 I have a 75 gallon tank and fifteen pounds of green hair algae! <<Mmm, been there before myself...>> Ok, I cannot get rid of this stuff.  I only have one clown fish and a cleaner shrimp. a bunch of scarlet and blue hermits...I have tried everything...every time I add snails they die off. <<Yikes!  This is telling you something...>> I don't know if it is the larger crabs killing them or what. <<Maybe...but likely the "or what.">> Would a UV Sterilizer help here? <<I doubt it.  Not to say these devices don't have/serve a purpose, I just consider them too high-maintenance and of limited benefit in marine systems.  You're better served with an ozone generator in my opinion.  Though this is not necessarily the solution to your problem.>> Should I remove all 90 lbs of my live rock and put it in a tub with a power jet in the dark? <<Is an option...though for the benefit of any photosynthetic life on the rock you might do better to remove, "gently" scrub in clean salt water, and place back in the tank.>> I had a great tank but everything died off except what I mentioned. <<???!!!... Did you determine/correct whatever caused the die-off?  This may be the source of your algae problem.>> I recently replaced about a 3rd of the substrate and that didn't do it either. <<Wouldn't expect it to.>> I think it may be my skimmer...it doesn't produce much and I have to baby-sit the darn thing to keep it working....if I got a new skimmer would it do the trick? <<A quality skimmer can definitely help and should be your first purchase before a UV or ozone unit (ER, Aqua-C, and ASM are good skimmers to research).>> How frequently should I scrape this and do water changes? <<Likely weekly to bi-weekly.>> Is there an additive I can use? <<No magic elixirs I'm afraid.>> Is calcium good or bad in this instance (as in dosing Kalkwasser)? <<Calcium is good...the addition of Kalkwasser can also help by raising/boosting pH and precipitating phosphate.>> Help- I am at my wits end with this stuff! <<Make sure your calcium and alkalinity are where they should be (might even boost the calcium just a bit), use Kalkwasser for evaporation replacement, add a "quality" skimmer (try running the skimmer a bit "wet" for a couple weeks), and try to keep your pH in the 8.4-8.6 range...If simple nutrient export is the issue this may alleviate your problem (along with prudent feeding, water changes, et al).  If not, you're back to just treating the symptom and will need to determine what is feeding your algae (that "tank die-off" is bothering me...didn't suddenly change salt mixes did you?).>> Thanks! Jeff <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Hair algae 7/15/05 I have a 90 g w/ 150lb of LR. I have green/brown hair algae and red slime. I have had this problem for about 7-8 months. It started on my sand bed and now on my LR. I use RO water. I have 3 maxi jet 900's. My wet/dry is rated for a 200 g tank with a Little Giant 4-MDQX-SC 1350 gph. I use a Custom Sea Life ? chiller and 18 watt UV. I just replaced my Aqua C Urchin pro w/ a Coralife 220.Thinking that it might be the problem. My bulbs are only 2 months old. My lights go on at 1:30pm and turn off at 11:30pm. I have about 15 SPS's. I dose w/ Bionic every day. I use an Eheim 2215 canister w/ phosphate remover regularly. 75 blue leg crabs, 20 snails and 3 tangs. I don't think I feed to often, very little once per day. Nothing ever falls to the bottom. I do a 10-15% water change per week and try to siphon all the red slim out. The hair algae doesn't come off the rock. I can't pull it or scrape it off. I just bought 4 sea urchins to the mix and they haven't done much.   All my water premi?es are good. Zero phosphates and zero nitrates. My sand is now ok. The only thing I could think that could have been feeding the algae is what I found in my sump on Friday. When I installed my new protein skimmer I found a one inch layer of light brown debris mud like sh*# under the area were your bio balls go (now has LR). Does any one know how often you should clean out your wet/dry? <Depends... about as often as it needs... likely monthly at the least> Should you clean the LR that's in your wet/dry and could this be the cause of my algae breakout. <Mmm, some shaking, removal of accumulated detritus is likely a good idea> Sorry this is so long but I am getting ready to tear down the reef if I have to look at this stuff take over any more. PLEASE HELP!!! Thank you, Jason S <... Please read... here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the linked files above... Consider changing the wet-dry to a sump/refugium... Bob Fenner>

Green Water Hello there, Small problem I have checked your site and I have not really found an answer that can help me. I have green water in my saltwater tank. It will not go away. Even though I want it to it will not. How do I get rid of it? I tested everything and it is all good. Why am I getting this green water? I used to have such a pretty tank now I have a farmers pond in my living room. HELP! Kenny <Hi Kenny, There is a lot of info on conditions causing green water. Simply type "green water" in the Google search engine and follow the resulting links. You can start with : www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalg.htm  www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm    www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm  Almost all of these water conditions are due to excess nutrient/insufficient export/water changes/overfeeding or elements present in the source water.  Craig>

One man's account of a titanic struggle... with Bryopsis Hi Bob, I just wanted to let you know about a new log I have started keeping to chronicle my battle with Bryopsis and hair algae. Please include a link to the page if you feel it adds value to the readers of WetWebMedia.com Thanks Mark Linton <Thanks. Will post. Bob Fenner>

Cutting the Hair Algae  Dear Fellow Reefers,<Phil reporting for weekend duty!> Here are the specs on my tank...75 gallon setup for about months, Eheim Canister filter with media, protein skimmer about a cup of green stuff twice a week, power heads, air stones, 25 watt UV sterilizer, 250watt heater, no sump or refugium.  Lights JBJ Formosa 65x4, two 10k and two actinic.  100 +lbs of LR and 3 inch DSB.<Might want to try and add one more inch to this>  pH on the low side at 8.2<Mine is between 8.2-8.3>, Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia are all zero.  The pH is constantly buffered with baking soda, any other good ideas to get this higher?<Kalkwasser baby!!!  Read up on it on WWM!>  The only commercial buffers I have found will only buff to 8.2.  Not testing for calcium or iodide, my bad!!!  I am trying to make up my mind on how I want to begin doing this either manually or with a calcium reactor.<I dose manually on my reef tank, but it is only 29 gallons.  On a 75 you might want to go with a reactor, it's your call.>  I know iodide is good because my shrimp and sally light foot crab have all molted (sp?).  I was adding phytoplankton once a week for inverts, stopped because of algae growth.  Also coral excel is added once a week.  Inverts. Sally Light Foot, Emerald Crab,15+ Blue legged hermit Crabs,15+ 4 different kinds of Snails, Red Serpent Starfish, Green Brittle Starfish, Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp(2), Coral Banded Shrimp(1), Sea Urchin, Arrow Crab, Feather Dusters, Stripped Mushrooms, Ricordea Mushrooms, Xenia, Turquoise Pineapple not doing good ( bad shipping-no water in the bad at arrival), <That's not good!> Sebae anemone. Fish...Flame Angel(1)Royal Gramma(1)Firefish(1)Algae Blenny(1)Yellow Tang(1)Percula Clownfish(2)  I have a hair algae problem that is not out of control yet but I don't want it to get worse.  I have read through several articles and FAQ's on your website but I am more confused.  One of the biggest things mentioned was to get a lawnmower blenny to eat this algae, well I have one and guess what... she eats the real food I feed the other fish.<LOL> once in a while she will pick at the rocks but not often enough.  I also get the film algae on the glass yet. current snail population handles this well.  This is what I thought about doing, adding another 5 scarlet hermits, 5 zebra hermits and 100 snails-25 of each different kind, Cerith, turbo, Mexican, red foot moon.  Possibly some more sally light foots and emerald crabs.  I don't want to add any more fish because I am already at my limit.  What are your thoughts on Nudibranchs?<There are algae eating ones.  They only eat algae, but once your algae supply is gone they starve.  If you do get one make sure you have a new home waiting for it as soon as your algae is gone!!>  Some people say they are good some say they are bad.  I have also have thought about making some small colonies of macro-algae but it would have to be in the main tank because no refugium, is this ok?<It's ok, I have some macro-algae in my main tank.>   I know I would have to trim it frequently.  The fish are feed once a day with a combination of formula one, formula two , and prime reef all soaked in Zo?  About once a week I also feed frozen krill, squid, and brine shrimp for a treat.  Would it be better if I feed the fish once a day or twice?<I feed my main meal around 6PM.  With a small "treat" every morning around 7AM.>  Should I cont. to use all of food at once or should I vary it?<A good way to see how well you are feeding is to look at the fish.  Do they look and act healthy?  Are they growing normal?  If they are, you know you are feeding the right amounts.>  Will changing the feeding schedule help with the hair algae?<Possibly.  Doing weekly water changes has helped many people in the past.  Try doing a 10% a week water change.  Also try running carbon, it also can/will help.>  I do feel that I over feed at times approx. 2 tsp. of food is added everyday.  Fish consume most but some lands on LR where it is quickly picked up by inverts.  I do use tap water for water changes and at this time it is out of the question for me to purchase a RO/DI unit due to money.<I don't use RO/DI and have found the cause of my algae woes to be overfeeding and not enough water changes.  I used to do them bi-monthly, have now started weekly and have little to no bad algae.>  Any thoughts or changes you suggest would be greatly appreciated.<Hope this helps!> Thanks Annette<Your welcome!  Phil

Hair Algae and "Warm Fuzzies", Too! Hi Scott, <Hello again!> Thanks for the quick reply.   I have changed about 75% of my water in the past month and have been pulling out the live rock and scrubbing like crazy but the hair algae WON'T COME OFF! Is there a better way to scrub? sandblasting). I actually had someone at my LFS tell me that I may have to get rid of my rock! Is that possible? Now that would be the last straw, I have about $1000+ in rock! <Well, I wouldn't do that. If you are going to physically remove the algae, I'd use a razor blade, or one of those stainless steel barbecue-grill-scrubber-thingies, which can definitely remove the algae with a little "elbow grease" on your part. There will, unfortunately, be a little "collateral damage" caused by this process, but it is a very successful means of physical removal of algae. In addition to all of the other nutrient control and export processes that we've discussed, physical removal (either by fishes or by your own hand) is part of the process. BTW, if you are actually considering "disposing" of the rock (thankfully, you're not!), why not just remove it and place it into a large plastic trash can or other container, filled with saltwater, hooked up to a protein skimmer, and don't light the rock for a few weeks. It's kind of a pain, certainly disruptive, and definitely a last-ditch thing! And, once again, there will be die-off of desired life forms during the process. Quite frankly, you're far better off working on the nutrient export processes (water changes, use of chemical media, etc.), and other obvious measures (like changing expired RO membranes, examining source water quality, etc.) and giving them sufficient time to work. > Should I continue with Phosguard, I heard carbon puts phosphates in the water(?). <Well, some of the "lower end" carbons out there do, indeed, contain some phosphates that can leach into the water. However, most of the commonly available "reef" carbons are advertised as "phosphate free", so read the label carefully on the carbon that you are considering to make sure that it is listed as "phosphate free". Far more phosphate is introduced through foods and source water, so I would not be as concerned about carbon as a phosphate source.> My Skimmer is doing fine. Have you heard of an oxidizer to lower dissolved organic carbon? <Well, there are various chemicals and compounds that perform this function, but their application is far to demanding and problematic for most people to work with...I'd keep it simple> Algae killing formulas? <Most of these "algicides" are really products that you'd want to stay away from. Again, the "collateral damage" issue comes into play: Any Algicide that kills "nuisance" algae will also kill "desirable" algae as well...Not worth the trade off, IMO>    Lawnmower Blenny?   <Lawnmower blennies are a good consumer of algae (at least mine was, until it got a taste for frozen foods!), as are some other fishes, but you have to remember that they are contributing to the bioload of the tank with their metabolic products, and the addition of the fish will potentially add to the problem of nutrient accumulation! It's always better to address the "source" of the algae, and attempt to eliminate it, rather than throw a "band aid" on the problem, as the sayings goes. I think that you're on the right track so far...stay patient> I am desperate to try anything to get my Coralline back and start enjoying what I'm sinking all this money into.  I'm trying not to panic. Thanks again. Rich <Well, Rich- I have been there myself (several times, actually!), so I can totally appreciate your frustration! Just keep telling yourself that the problem can be solved through your diligent efforts. It won't be quick, and it won't be easy, but you can do it! Algae has probably caused more potentially successful and talented reefers to quit in frustration than just about anything else. Please don't be one of them! Remember, we are talking about closed systems, which are totally dependent on their owners for nutrient import, control, and export...With a proper "point of view", you won't lose sight of that, and the algae problem will be another one of those experiences that you will be able to help other aquarists with down the line! Best of luck to you in your efforts! Regards, Scott F.>

- Toxic Hair Algae - Hi again, I just went thru your algae control section (excellent info) trying to see if hair algae can have a toxic side effect. I finally beat the stuff, but my two remaining corals seem to dying a slow death, a cabbage and sand polyps. Is it possible that the algae can leave some sort of poison (for lack of a better term) that can linger in the tank? <It is possible yes, but much less probable.> Or just that they were mildly affected and going thru a long, drawn out death? <I'd side with this opinion.> I have asked locally with no success. I just don't want to start replenishing my reef to watch them die also. <Do a large water change, and you will eliminate this as a possibility.> Many thanks in advance Steve <Cheers, J -- >

Pulling His Hair (Algae) Out! Hello Bob & Crew: <Scott F. your Crew member tonight!> Let me start by telling you what I had, and that is a 110 FOWLR with beautiful Coralline Algae covering all the live rock.   Then I decided to venture into a reef tank so I purchased a Giesemann with 2x250w 10k metal halides w/ 2x65w PC actinic.  I run the light 8 hrs a day.  Since then Hair Algae has taken over completely covering the Coralline (which is horrible to me) and I have been struggling with solutions.   I use RODI water. My tests show no Non-Organic Phosphates in RODI water or tank water, Nitrates=0, Alkalinity=3.5meq/L, PH=8.2, Calcium=375 to 400.   My livestock is 1 Yellow Tank, 1 Coral Beauty, 1 Orchard Dottyback, 3 Cleaner Shrimp, 2 Ocellaris Clowns, 1 Neon Goby, 1 Bubbletip Anemone, and 2 Feather Dusters.  All is well with them.   I have been treating with Phosguard and manual cleaning constantly which is really getting to be a hassle.  I am no longer enjoying my tank!   I am ready to sell the Giesemann and go back to my FOWLR which is a shame.   If you have any last suggestions before I abandon the reef I sure would appreciate it.   Thanks, Rich    <Well, Rich, I hate to hear of your predicament! I have to admit that I've been down that road before, and it is not fun! However, there are some things that you can do to attack it back! Granted, you are not getting any results for phosphate or nitrate on your test kit. Organic and inorganic phosphates are a major "fuel" for hair algae. Don't blame the algae on your lighting system; it's not the sole cause of the algae problem. Lighting, in conjunction with nutrients, is the cause of nuisance algae growth. Sure, the enhanced lighting made a difference, but it was not the sole cause of the algae bloom. Of course, it's not always cut and dry when it comes to defeating hair algae. It's all about nutrient export (as you are probably sick of hearing)! Even though your test kits read undetectable levels of these nutrients, it's still possible to have hair algae. The key is to really engage in "hyper-husbandry", as I call it! Start by performing two small (like 5% of tank volume) water changes a week, using high quality source water...By the way, make sure that your RO/DI membranes are not in need of replacement. Next, utilize chemical filtration media on a continuous basis (I'm talking about activated carbon and/or PolyFilter, which are superior organic removers!). The Phosguard is a great product, but it is more of a "band aid", and cannot be relied on to be the sole means of chemical filtration. Don't forget to tweak your protein skimmer until you are regularly obtaining a couple of cups of dark, yucky-smelling skimmate twice weekly. Skimmers, as you probably know, are your first line of defense against nutrient build up. Another possible measure you can take is to grow and harvest some "purposeful" macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria in your sump. These macroalgae will compete with the nuisance algae for nutrients. Be persistent, patient, and relentless in your husbandry. Don't deviate from this plan...You can beat this algae bloom, but it will take time. Please don't quit just yet...Remember, algae have been on this planet for billions of years, and have demonstrated remarkable adaptive capabilities. They cannot be defeated quickly...Hang in there, and you will be successful. Don't quit! Regards, Scott F>

All That Green Has Him Seeing Red! Hey Crew! <Scott F. your Crew Member tonight!> I have a 29 gallon saltwater aquarium that I am trying to get ready for coral.  One of the problems that I can't seem to remedy is that the tank is filled with green hair algae.  I keep the glass clean, but it grows every other place possible (the heater, the power head, protein skimmer, the live rock, even on the shell of one of my hermit crabs).  I have been searching for help on the web, but no one can seem to agree on the best choice.  Here is a breakdown of my aquarium: 29 gallon saltwater Power Compact Lighting Power Head Heater BioWheel filter Protein skimmer Live Sand Live Rock Trigger Fish, Spotted Hawaiian Puffer, 2 damsels, and hermit crabs.   <That's a pretty large bioload for a 29 gallon tank...Really too much for long term success and stable water quality. Reducing the bioload by removing some of these heavy eaters is one of the first things that you could do to improve water quality> I just bought a tap-water filter and some phosphorus remover for the filter, but is that enough?  How much and how often should I change water?  What am I doing wrong? Kenneth Merenda Houston TX <Well, Kenneth, a few suggestions...Good call on the water purifier. Source water with excessive nitrates, phosphates, and silicates is a significant contributor to nuisance algae blooms in aquariums. Controlling nuisance algae is really all about nutrient export processes, IMO. Make sure that the protein skimmer is really cranking out at least a couple of cups per week of dark, yucky skimmate. Clean the skimmer regularly, as a clean skimmer does a better job. Also, consider two smaller (like 5% of tank volume) water changes per week, to help dilute organics before they begin to accumulate and deteriorate water quality. Utilize chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon and Poly Filter, which do a great job at removing nutrients from systems. Make sure that, if you use mechanical "prefilters" or other mechanical media, that you clean and/or replace them often. Other aspects of general good husbandry, such as careful feeding, use of a deep sand bed (to reduce nitrate) and good water circulation, and even manually removing the algae as it appears will all help. With patience, diligence, and persistency, you will see these nuisance algae start to diminish in relatively short order. Hang in there! You can do it! Regards, Scott F>
All That Green Has Him Seeing Red (Pt. 2)
Scott <Hello again!> Which fish, specifically do you recommend I remove? <Well, I'd find larger homes for the trigger and the puffer. They tend to be messy eaters, produce a lot of metabolic waste, and will simply get to large for a 29 gallon tank> I took your advice and scrubbed all the algae I could find in the tank.  Its nice to be able to see the live rock again. <Yep- physical removal helps relieve the "symptom", but not the cause. Don't forget that we need to attack the root problem, which is the accumulation of excess nutrients...> My protein skimmer is working, but lately it hasn't really been dark water - more of a light yellow, actually.  The skimmer I have is the in-tank kind.  Should I consider upgrading, or could there be another reason it is not skimmer the nasty stuff? Kenneth <Well, Kenneth- I'd try either tweaking the skimmer until you get that dark skimmate, or possibly consider an upgrade to a better model, like an Aqua C Remora Pro (a great hang-on-the-tank skimmer for smaller systems) or a CPR Bak Pak. Keep at the nutrient-reduction tasks, and that algae will start to be a thing of the past! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Riding Out a Neomeris Algae Bloom Hello, <Hi! Scott F. here this evening!> I have a 125 gal. reef that in its beginning, I added some lace rock at the recommendation of an aquarium shop where I live. It seemed to introduce the Caterpillar weed (Neomeris annulata) algae.  I crop it to get rid of it, but it accumulates rapidly. I have tried yellow Tangs, Scopas, and yellow eye tangs.  None seem to eat it snails and crabs also stay away. Do you have any recommendations to get rid of it? Thank You. Shawn <Well, Shawn, this algae tends to be difficult to eradicate, as you have suggested, and few herbivorous fishes will touch the stuff, as you are now aware! I think that this species is infinitely more "desirable" (ok, make that "tolerable") than the disgusting Bryopsis, or other nasty algae. They are actually kind of interesting, as their thalli contain calcium-sort of like an ugly version of Halimeda, if you will. In my opinion, the best way to get rid of this stuff is to do what you've been doing- yank out what you can, and ride out the "invasion". These algae tend to disappear once the tank gets more established, and less abundant supplies of nutrients are available to them. Of course, other algae will arise to take their place once things get going, so an ongoing nutrient control/export program (i.e.; water changes, use of chemical filtration, protein skimming, and general good husbandry techniques) will really help you reduce or eradicate future nuisance algae growths. Be patient, hang in there, and you'll see these fuzzy little algae start to disappear. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

A Hairy Problem (Hair Algae Control) I will try to keep this short. 90 gal with 90lbs Kaelini rock, 1.5" fine sand. Tank setup on 1/10/03. I have 1 coral beauty since 2/8 and doing well. 3 percula clowns that never seemed to eat have passed. 2 actinic and 2 175 10000k MH turned on 2/8 and now on 8 hrs per day. water parameters are good (will send them next email) except for phos which was 1.0 on 3/9. When the lights first went on I had a brown diatom bloom. <Well, the phosphate level isn't helping...do look for ways to reduce it- higher quality source water, aggressive protein skimming, use of chemical filtration media, such as Poly Filter of activated carbon, etc.> I cut down on feedings and increased my water changes to 15 gals bi-weekly. The brown algae is gone but now green microalgae is beginning to take over. It is on the glass, rocks and sand esp. where the light hits directly. I know this is not all bad and the coral beauty has some food but I do not want this to take over. I was hoping to go slow with stocking as I am going to increase water turnover from its present 12x to aprox 20x, add a refugium (looking at hang on with 5 gal capacity) and maybe increase my sand to 4". Should I get some inverts now to control the algae? Which ones should I get and how many? Thanks <Well, algae "succession" is a natural occurrence in reef systems, with abundant nutrients common in the early stages of the tank's existence. It's really all about nutrient export, as I touched on above...Just keep doing what you're doing, give it some more time, and it will gradually go away. It is certainly helpful to get some herbivorous animals to assist with the control of the algae. I'd get an assortment of snails, such as Strombus, Trochus, and Nerites species. You could also get some herbivorous hermit crabs...Many vendors offer algae control "kits" that can really help, and they have appropriate numbers of animals for various sized tanks. DO a little research on the net as to which ones could do the job for you. Good luck! regards, Scott F>

Pulling His Hair (Algae) Out! Hi WWM Crew, <Scott F. with you tonight> A friend of mine has been beaten by the persistent hair algae monster, and is ripping down his tank.  I agreed to buy his 90lbs of green covered rock for only $2 per pound.  Since the rock is Manano and Marshall Island I think it is worth some work. <Yep> My question is: How do I completely kill and remove the hair algae so that it absolutely will not infest my tank?  The rock is currently in a separate bare tank with a heater and a power head. Regards, Craig <Well, Craig- I'd use a great protein skimmer in the tank, execute regular water changes, and give it some time. Export nutrients in a big way! Run a filter with activated carbon and Poly Filter, too. Manually remove as much of the hair algae as you can...Keep at it...That rock is good stuff, once you get past the algae! Good luck! regards, Scott F>

Re: Hair Algae Gentlemen, I am a daily reader of your website and love it as most people do. First my equipment and stocking! Reef Tank is about 9-months old 180-gallon tank with 38-gallon sump VHO lighting (280 watts full; 140 watts actinic) 175-watt Metal Halide (10-k) 1400 gph main pump Euro-Reef CS8-2 210 lbs of Fiji Live Rock 120 lbs of crushed coral sand (#3) 36-Watt Double Helix UV Two 300-Watt Heaters Two converging 400 gph power heads for water flow Pinpoint Ph Meter Electronic inside/outside temperature gage (with alarms) Sump Mounted 12" fan Other Equipment 60 GPD RO/DI unit Water Quality Ph 8.35 - 8.50 Alkalinity 12.6 dKH Ammonia 0.0-ppm Nitrite 0.00-ppm Nitrate 5.00 ppm Calcium 300 mEq/l Specific Gravity 1.025 Phosphate 0.2 <BINGO> Temp range 78 to 80 Additives Dose Kalk for make up water Iodine as needed Livestock 3 Domino Damsels (each 2-in) 1 Yellow Tang (4-in) 1 Maroon Clown (2-in) 1 Naso Tang (8-in) 2 Scooter Blennies (1.5 in) 1 Lawnmower Blenny (4-in) 4 Emerald Crabs 1 Sand-sifting Star 1 Conchs (5-in) 30 Astrea snails 30 Blue leg and other Hermit crabs 50 Scarlet Hermits 50 Red-legged (Mexican) Hermits Corals Xenia Button Polyp Red Mushroom Frogspawn Galaxea Feeding Habits Minimal feeding trying to restrict nutrient import. Water Changes Every two to four weeks Activated Carbon 10oz every two weeks Current Problems Hair algae Too many hermit crabs Over the last several months hair algae has been coming on to the point were it is crowding out some of my corals and covering some rock in totality. I've been restricting the feeding of my fish trying to limit nutrient import and up until a couple of days ago was running a Red Sea Berlin skimmer. Based on the advice Anthony provided I purchased the Euro-reef cs8-2 and survived the subsequent explosion from the wife. I told her Anthony made me do it! <good plan> I'm trying to tune in the Euro-reef now to get the generally accepted amount of skimmate daily. I'm so very tempted to pull rock and start scrubbing because this algae looks so bad. I've read on the website that starving the algae with a good skimmer would solve the problem. How long should I wait before results should be noticeable? <2-3 weeks> All my fish are healthy but hungry. Is my stocking too much? A phosphate reading of 0.2 ppm doesn't seem that bad but I realize 0 is better? <Hey David, no need to starve the fish, make sure the skimmer is producing well, perform more frequent water changes to get the phosphate level down.  Once the phosphates are down the algae should start to die off.  -Gage> Thanks David

Re: green algae Dear WWM Crew, Thanks for a great service.  I having a terrible battle with green algae and need your advice.  This system: 55 gallon tank, 50 or so lbs of live rock in 2.5 inch live sand bed, prism skimmer, large canister filter/pump, powerhead - total water movement about 600 gallons/hour with around 2 gallons of filtering divided between 40% biomedia, 40% carbon, 20% foam.  Lighting is 110 watts of power compact with 50/50 Coralife lamps.  Inhabited by 6 fish, 10 crabs, 10 snails, 2 stars, 1 anemone, and 4 soft corals.  Chemistry is good. I have tried constant removal of algae - every 2 hours or so, with prefilter cleans and water changes.  I have tried lowering water temp.  I have tried constant water changes. I have switched from 110 watts of daylight to the 50/50's (hoping to make the coral/inverts happier while hurting the algae).  Sigh ... how do I end the constant green algae.  In the morning the tank is fairly clear (especially after I scrub it down at night and change water- I even suck next to the scrub brush) but within an hour or two of the lights coming on its murky and the glass has a fine coat of green.  I've survived and dealt with the brown hairy algae with above methods and usually beat it in a day or so and I've treated red algae.  How do I make this plague end? Thank you in advance for your response, M. Ross Dayton, Ohio <This is a nutrient bloom driven by light and nutrient. I would imagine nitrate/phosphate/silicate/iodine is the nutrient source(s). I would start with testing my source and tank water for ammonia/nitrites/nitrates/phosphates first.  50 lbs of rock (suggest 1.5 lbs per gallon), shallow sand bed (traps wastes, detritus) canister filter with sponges, bio-material, sponge pre-filters with bio-material, etc. all produce nitrates if not cleaned **weekly**. Sand bed should be deeper or maintained (vacuumed). Take care of the nutrients introduced or trapped by the above methods and your green algae will disappear.  Take care, Craig>

Eliminating Nuisance Algae Bob, <Scott F. with you today!> I continued to be troubled with Derbesia, which has overwhelmed all Caulerpa in my refugium.  I can scrub the rock, but it just regrows. I would not mind if I could keep it confined to the refugium. As an experiment, I soaked one of the Derbesia-covered rocks in my 110 gal fish tank in RO water for 10 minutes, and then replaced it in my tank. This appears to have completely paralyzed the Derbesia (and hopefully eliminated its "roots" within the recesses of the rock).  The coralline algae appears intact (@ 24 hours).  I continue to have adequate biologic filtration in my trickle filter and 55 gallon refugium. <Hmm...interesting protocol...> My question is this...if I were to remove all rocks from the fish tank (~50 lbs), scrub the Derbesia of them, and then soak them for 10 minutes in RO water, before replacing them in the tank...would you expect the fallout from death of organisms within the rock to be sufficient to disrupt the tank? <Quite possibly, the die off could be extensive among the micro and macrofauna in and on the rock.> Or would the remaining live rock, algae and trickle filter along with the protein skimmer manage the load? I am hopeful that I may have found a means to eradicate Derbesia without toxic chemicals or heat sterilization. Thanks, Sam <I suppose that this may be a possible "fix" for the problem, but I think it be better to look at the root cause of the nuisance algae breakout and eliminate it (not to mention the potential "collateral damage" caused by the fresh water dip. In fact, the die off of plants and animals could load up the system once again with nutrients that can lead to...algae.) Otherwise, if conditions (chemically and otherwise) remain the same in the tank, you'll experience the same problem again and again, IMO. Eliminating nuisance algae is all about nutrient export! Start by reviewing the basics: Make sure that the protein skimmer is working well- pulling out several cups of dark, stinky product a week. It's definitely your first line of defense. Also, revisit your husbandry techniques: Employ frequent (like twice weekly) small (approx 5% of tank volume) water changes. This will help prevent nutrients from accumulating. Be sure to use quality chemical filtration, such as activated carbon and Poly Filter pads, and change them  frequently. Be sure to clean and/or replace any mechanical filtration media (i.e; pads, filter "socks", etc) regularly, as they can accumulate detritus and contribute to the organic/nutrient load in your system. I'm not a big fan of Caulerpa, but if you're using it in your system, harvest some on a regular basis (very carefully, trying not to tear any of the fronds in the process, as they may leach noxious substances into the water). This will essentially remove nutrients from the system permanently. Finally, if you are utilizing plastic media in your trickle filter, consider removing them, and letting your live rock and sand (a 4-5 inch bed of sand can do the trick) do the biological filtration and denitrification for you. All of these are basic things; you may have thought of them before...But reconsider and re-evaluate their use, and what benefits they can provide. It might just make a difference! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Algae Problems - <Greetings, JasonC here...> hey gang, I have been battling good ol (ya right) hair algae for some time now, done numerous things I could thing of, changed to R/O water, stopped feeding romaine (just in case), cut back feeding, did water changes every 4 days, get a good cup of dark skimmate daily, no more glass cleaner used, keep my nitrates at 10ppm (130g FOWLR, 220 pounds rock, handful of someday large fish, not yet), now I'm thinking its lights, I have 8 36" fluorescent tubes, all 30w, 2 of them blue actinics the rest mixed other Phillips ones I got from a trans shipper, (5000k and 10,000k black, white, something like this), could this be to much light causing this?
<Well, it stands to reason that a photosynthetic organism like algae would be dependant on light... the more you have, the more it can photosynthesize.>
, they are usually on 12 hours daily, I'm thinking of just using 4 tubes for a while and leaving the other 4 off, will this cause any negative die off on the rock?
<It won't hurt the rock, but may only have a marginal effect on the algae.>
 fish? <They won't care.> thanks for any thoughts guys, just cant seem to get rid of this hair algae, keep vacuuming it during water changes, even took out every piece of rock one at a time and scrubbed it with a toothbrush once, all looked great for a couple days, then it started taking over again, still have plenty of coralline algae (will the less light affect this? <Not really.> don't want that)...thanks as always.....Riot... <Do consider obtaining either a Poly filter or similar product that can remove phosphates from the system. Likewise, I would do a thorough set of tests to make sure any one parameter is not way off... including phosphate. Something tells me there are other reasons this is a problem. Do you have anything in the tank that eats algae? You might want to consider such an addition. Cheers, J -- >

Green hair algae Hi , I like to ask some  questions regarding green hair algae . <Fire away! I have lots of experience with this subject> What's  the fuss about green hair algae (GHA) growing in the marine aquarium ? <It grow at an astronomical pace and will quickly (days to weeks) take over your aquarium. It will choke out corals like yellow polyps and even grow on the glass of your tank. Once it is established, it's hard as heck to get rid of> I believe other than aesthetics it actually helps to control ammonia, nitrates and so on, am I right to assume it that way ? <It will take up nutrients in the water...and grow, grow, grow...until everything is covered in a hair algae mat. Of course this doomsday scenario assumes that you make no effort to eradicate this stuff. If you have this stuff in your tank, I suggest getting rid of it as soon as you see it rather than waiting until it's established. A cleanup crew of various critters will help if the algae hasn't covered your tank yet> My existing aquarium is about 150 gal. using overflow, external canister filter and Sea Clone skimmer. <Have you checked your phosphates, silicates, and nitrate levels recently? I hope the Sea Clone is working for you. Many hobbyists don't like it> Lighting is using Metal Halide.  Live rock about 50 ~ 80 kg (or lbs?), sand bed about 1 inch thick.  The system had existed for about 4 months. Life stock consists of : 2 Sea cucumber (red coloured) 8 Feather duster worms, <I had hair algae that choked and killed a couple of dusters while I was on a two week vacation> 1 Flower anemone, 4 Candy striped shrimps, 1 large anemone, 2 hermit crabs, 3 ~ 4 snails, 1 small hairy crab, 3 Snappers, 5 Anthias, 1 Bi-color angel, 3 Damsel, 1 Saddle Clown, 1 Leather coral, <Hair algae will even grow on a leather coral> 1 Staghorn coral, Red mushroom & Some pulsing xenia <All of the corals listed are subject to being irritated by hair algae growing amongst the polyps> Could you kindly recommend some fishes that would feed on GHA ?   <Unfortunately, it's always a 50/50 chance of getting a critter that will eat this stuff. Apparently, it doesn't taste very good. Please realize that no matter what species of fish you choose, the fish may or may not eat the stuff. But some species do have a good reputation for being fairly consistent in their hair algae consumption. Chief among these are: Salarias fasciatus (lawnmower blenny), Zebrasoma xanthurum (purple tang), and sometimes Zebrasoma flavescens (yellow tang). Most tangs are a descent bet. If you have a small algae problem consider getting some of the algae pack critters (crabs and such) offered by many online retailers. I suggest that you seek to find what is causing the hair algae to grow and change the conditions. Read the articles and facts at Wetwebmedia.com. There are many fish listed and other suggestions for eradication of this pest archived at WWM> Best regards, David Leong <Have a good evening and good luck getting rid of the hair algae! David Dowless>

Re: more hair algae stuff.... Thanks Jason, no phosphates, I have used HBH's phosphate pads many times anyway and of no help, <No phosphates because you use the pads, or no phosphates because you tested for them?> the use of these pads does cut skimmer production by about half I've noticed, my mother has 2 reef tanks and swears that her Foxface eats all hair algae, though I read here at WWM that fish wont eat it, I have a Naso and blue tang, as well as a blue angel, they don't touch it, do you have any experience with fish that eat this stuff? <How about a tuxedo urchin... these are pretty voracious algae eaters.> seems like my only answer, am going to use all my lighting as it looks much better, and you suggest cutting it back is not the answer <I suggest that it is only part of the answer.> ......Riot.. <Cheers, J -- >

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow! Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!>     My name is Sal. I'm having a  problem with hair algae. This is a seahorse only tank. I have 6 Ocean Rider Ponies. Since I must maintain low water flow rates I am looking for some critters to help me out. <well, I'd look into some of the small, herbivorous hermit crabs that you can get from various etailers, such as Inland Aquatics and Indo-Pacific Sea Farms.> 38 gallon....35 lbs live rock....CPR Bak pak 2.....110 watt 10000k pc lighting....ammonia 0.....nitrite 0 ......ph 8.3......calcium 450....Alk 11dkh... <Water parameters look okay- curious as to the nitrate and phosphate levels, though> I use 25 Nassarius snails as a clean up crew. these guys are great at taking care of detritus, but I don't feel like they are going on the live rock and eating hair algae. I don't want to use hermit or Mithrax crabs because they will compete with the seahorses. <Well, again- I'd recommend the truly herbivorous varieties, as they are small, and will not compete with the seahorses, in my experience> I was hoping you could recommend a snail or any other seahorse friendly critter that will eat hair algae off of live rock. Thank you so much for your help. I greatly appreciate it! Sal <Well, Sal- I understand the concern to avoid animals which compete with the seahorses. I think the best thing to do is to try to eliminate the things which enable the algae to thrive. I recommend really kicking the skimmer into high gear, so to speak, and make sure that it's producing at least a couple of cups per week of dark, yucky skimmate. Also, consider using RO/DI water for your source water, if you are not already. Perform small (like 5%) water changes twice a week. Utilize chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon or PolyFilter, and change them out regularly. Hope that these tips help make the hair algae go away! Take care, and good luck! Regards, Scott F>  

Hair algae hi I have a 38 gallon seahorse only tank with 25 Nassarius snails. I have a hair algae problem. I was wondering if a Rainford goby would be a good addition to this tank. <To help with hair algae? It won't help. I suggest that you read our facts on hair algae. Check out our home page under articles> I want to eliminate this algae or at least keep it under control. <Don't we all! David Dowless> thanks Sal       

Hair's The Problem! Hello, My 55 gal reef tank has been established for about 3 months now (I am new to reef tanks), and on two of my many pieces of live rock, I am getting an abundance of long sweeping green algae.  I get a little bit of green algae on other rocks, but not like these two rocks.  The algae is several inches long and sways in the current.  I have a three corals (frogspawn, hammer, Acropora), a Yellow Tang, a couple of damsels, many snails, a blue Pohnpei clam, and a couple of emerald green crabs.  My chemical levels are fine, but I do not know why I am getting such an abundance of growth on just two rocks. <Well, a lot of the problem could be favorable amounts of nutrient materials (detritus, etc.) within the rocks and in the aquarium water. Sounds like hair algae to me, and hair algae is indicative of high nutrient levels. Do check phosphate and nitrate levels in the tank, as well as in the source water.> I have two 96wt power compacts that are on for 10 hours a day.  Should I remove the rocks from the tank and scrape off the excess algae? <Mechanical removal is good to physically get the existing growth out of the tank, but the real goal should be to remove the root cause of the algae-that being nutrient levels favoring its growth.> Some of the green algae is beginning to turn red.  What is the cause of this condition? <Once again, it's all about nutrient export. Make sure that your protein skimmer (I'm assuming that you're using one) is pulling out at least a few cups a week of dark, yucky skimmate from the tank. Review your feeding and husbandry procedures (such as water changes). Do conduct small water changes twice a week (5% is good), with good quality source water. Be consistent and relentless in achieving and maintaining the highest possible water quality> Can you recommend some good algae eaters that will do well in this environment? It seems as though my Yellow Tang cannot keep up. Thanks. Steve. <Well, Steve- I think that adding more algae eating fishes is probably more detriment than benefit at this point. Adding bioload to the aquarium is not what you need to do at this point. Please get the algae problem in check before adding new fishes to this system. If you are diligent and patient, you can do it! Review the algae control FAQs on the wetwebmedia.com site for more ideas. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Hair Algae Monster Hey Guys !!!! Just wanted to thank you for encouraging me not to give up on fighting the "Green Hair Algae Beast"! ... and to give you an update so that others may learn and not resort to chemicals: My battle with the green hair algae monster is starting to shift in my favor after 3 months of agony. I think that the new Aerofoamer 848 (vs. old ETSS 1400 skimmer) that was put into service a month ago is helping me win the battle. But, I also think that the ETSS would have been just fine had I removed the old bio-balls and replaced them every six months. Nowhere in the manual does it say to do this, but it does say this on their website...YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO THIS with this skimmer! I also am continuously running PolyFilter (for the last month per your recommendations) in a canister filter which has reduced phosphates to undetectable using Salifert test. Another thing I did was vacuum, vacuum, and more vacuuming with a toothbrush connected to a rigid manual plastic siphon which was connected to an input to a Marineland 350 canister filter (again on your recommendation). The manual siphon was used to prime the pump when the flow into the canister was interrupted from sucking algae close to the surface of the tank. The manual siphon also has a nice long rigid tube that helped me reach to the bottom of my tank. I also vacuumed the bottom of my sump after removing all of the bioballs that were put in to minimize bubbles back into the tank. The new skimmer does not create any bubbles in my tank so I figured it would be easier to clean a bare sump in the future. FYI: I found a Shop Vac Wet vacuum cleaner that is all plastic and includes a built in pump to pump water from the vacuum's water container to the sink or back to the tank. I just covered the vacuum's filter with an aquarium grade filter material to trap particulate matter. I love this thing and plan to only use it for aquarium maintenance ($99.00 at Lowe's!). Also, I have been doing water changes every day (~ 6 gallons a day for my 300 gallon reef tank over the last two weeks). Lastly, I replaced a lot of cleaners as well, more Trochus snails and margarita snails mostly, mixed with some small red-legged hermit crabs. I actually started feeding my fish and corals a little more aggressively since the hair algae is dying off so rapidly. It is turning brown and giving off copious amounts of air bubbles! The last thing I will do is to put my calcium reactor back on-line as soon as there is very little sign of any hair algae left. In the meantime I am resorting to my Kalkreactor and Kent SuperBuffer for calcium and alkalinity control, although this is expensive for a large tank. Again, thanks for keeping me on the straight and narrow. And algae problem sufferers do not despair. If I got rid of my hair algae problem without chemicals, you can do it to! Just take Anthony's, Bob's, Steve's, et al's advice. Thanks again for all your help! Chuck Spyropulos <You are quite welcome. Thank you for the update. I am sure other aquarists will find your report enlightening and inspirational. -Steven Pro>

Caulerpa Control Hello All! <Good evening! Scott F. here tonight!> I have a mature 75g tank, with excellent water quality and have never had any major problems (thanks, in no small part, to your website!). <Glad we can be of assistance!> Several months ago I added some liverock with several types of Caulerpa on it.  The Caulerpa is doing very well, my Blue Tang is very happy with his eat-in kitchen, and the tank looks great! <Awesome!> However, it's getting to the point where the Tang cannot quite keep up with the algae, particularly the hair Caulerpa. I trim the Caulerpa (more like pull out HUGE chunks of it) on a weekly basis, but it's getting to be very difficult to do so, due to tons of baby starfish that like to hide in the Caulerpa (I emailed you about these guys a while ago). <Caulerpa is a very aggressive-growing, prolific macroalgae. It can be difficult to eradicate once it gets established. Part of the reason why many of us are becoming decidedly anti-Caulerpa!> My question is: Do you think it would be OK to add a Yellow Tang to eat up some of the algae?  I think my tank could handle it, as I only have the tang, a couple of Chromis fish, two ocellaris clowns and a Flamefish. So, given that my Blue Tang is medium-large sized, could I get a small Yellow Tang so that there's no question of dominance?  Am I inviting trouble?  If the Yellow Tang would not be recommended, is there some other form of algae control (not elimination, just control) that you would suggest? Thanks! Jes <Well, Jes- I think tangs are a great natural macroalgae control, but IMO, your tank is a little too small to accommodate both of these fish for their natural life spans. I know a lot of hobbyists will disagree, and many people do maintain this combination of tangs without troubles. They will get along, given enough space and resources. However, blue tangs can reach almost a foot in length, and the yellow tang also needs a lot of room as well. If you had a larger (100 plus gallon, 6 foot length) tank, then I'd be inclined to say yes, this would be a good idea. This is my opinion, of course, but I really think that it would be better to hold off on that second tang. I'd still recommend manual extraction of Caulerpa from the tank, in addition to keeping your tang fat and happy!. Good luck!>

The Urchin's New 'Do... Greetings, hope everyone had a nice Turkey Day! <Yes- thank you! Scott F. here, struggling with the leftovers!> Since upgrading the lighting a week ago on my 55g FOWLR tank to 260w of power compacts I have noticed that the algae on my Blue Tuxedo Urchin has tripled. The urchin seems to enjoy it as he/she no longer hides with the lights on, and has not been grabbing as many bits of rubble to camouflage itself. Attached below are 2 pics, one from 4 days ago and one from today. I have not seen this algae appear anywhere else in the tank, but was hoping for some identification to make sure its not going to become a problem. Of course I would prefer to see the urchin without his green wig but if it makes him happy....Ugg I sound like my mother. <Well- it looks to me a lot like Bryopsis, a hair-type algae (appropriate, huh?). This algae usually appears in higher nutrient systems, but is generally harmless. In fact, some of us weirdoes actually find this stuff attractive (at least until it overgrows your Zoanthids, etc.> I'm guessing that if I wanted this stuff to go away I would need to place the urchin in my QT tank for several weeks with no lights and supplemental feeding. Thanks guys, Emo <Usually, these types of algae can be controlled with simple methods, such as simply pulling the stuff out by hand. Also, you should do a bit of investigating on nitrate, phosphate, pH and alkalinity levels in your tank. Re-evaluate your husbandry techniques. Are you changing water weekly or more often (in small amounts, with high quality source water)? Is your protein skimmer pulling out several cups of dark, yucky skimmate weekly? Nutrient control is usually the #1 means to reduce or eliminate problematic algae from aquariums> ps. I think this is my 3rd email to WWM since I jumped into the marine aspect of the hobby about 4 months ago. Sorry to bug you guys so much, but its always after failing to find answers through my limited researching skills:) <Don't ever apologize for contacting us. That's why we're here! But do use the Google search feature that we have on the wetwebmedia.com site as a means to quickly find information on topics that interest you. Good luck! Scott F.>

Bubble Trouble? Dear Sirs:  I have set up my first reef tank 5 months ago and it is doing well. A few weeks ago I purchased some more live rock for my tank and I noticed recently something that looks like pea size green eggs, there almost the size of a small vitamin capsule, I don't know if it's good or bad. <You have Valonia, or "bubble algae". While they are not harmful per se, they can multiple rapidly and create problems for other, more desirable species. You can remove them by carefully prying them up and siphoning them out, taking care not to rupture the membrane in the process, as this will result in the release of products which will lead to more of them appearing throughout your tank!> I am concerned because they seem to be multiplying slowly unless it's just my imagination. <Not your imagination, they can multiply rapidly under favorable conditions! They can be persistent and maddening if you hate looking at them, like a lot of people! Unfortunately, there are no herbivorous fishes which regularly consume them. Some people employ various small crabs to eat them, with mixed results (some end up munching on corals, too). If it were me, I'd try to siphon as many as I could out. Keep up your high water quality and good husbandry techniques, and you should be able to keep them in check.> Could you please give me your input? I am so thankful for experienced people like you.  Connie <And I'm so glad to help people like you, Connie! Good luck!  Scott F.>

SeaBAY (the club in SF, not the anemone) Dear Bob and Anthony: <howdy> I belong to an organization called SeaBAY and we meet on alternate months here in the SF Bay area.  What would it take to get you fellas out here for a visit? <Mmm, we've been out there... this year. Anthony will come out most anytime... for hugs and sunshine.> >Also, I have something that looks just like a grape (sea grape?) growing on my L.R.  -- is this okay for the fish if they eat it or should I remove? <I'd leave as is... Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalg.htm see what you have down towards the bottom? Usually not too much of a pest (not me or Anthony, these algae). You can take out the rock, scrub it off later if you'd like. Bob F> Your ardent fan, Connie C.

SeaBAY (great San Francisco/Bay area Aquarium Club) Dear Bob and Anthony: <cheers, dear> I belong to an organization called SeaBAY and we meet on alternate months here in the SF Bay area.  What would it take to get you fellas out here for a visit? <for Bob it is usually beer... I'm partial instead to those flaky little pastries called "lady locks/fingers". Ha! But seriously... ahh... it usually takes... an invitation :) The requirements would simply be airfare and a place to sleep and time in the schedule. We can feed ourselves and will be sure to decline any remuneration (any such monies belong in the clubs coiffeurs!). <<Antoine, you're cracking me up... am sure they're moolah should stay in coffers, not their hairdressers!>>That's it my friend... the cost of travel. Bob has a copy of this in his folder and will respond with some indication of his schedule/ability. For me... please look over the schedule here to see what works best for the club: http://www.readingtrees.com/meet_the_authors.htm February is a possibility, else it may be best after June.> Also, I have something that looks just like a grape (sea grape?) growing on my L.R.  -- is this okay for the fish if they eat it or should I remove? Your ardent fan, Connie C. <no worries at all... this likely algae will be quite fine for them to eat. If they do not, however... be careful that it does not grow into wildly. (even some decorative algae (C. racemosa) can be a nuisance... or this may even simply be Valonia type). With kind regards, Anthony>

Algae Problem in New Tank Hello Oh wise and all knowing one. <Hmmm, we'll just see about that!> I have a 6 week old at the moment FOWLR 75 gallon tank with 35 more gallons in a 55 gallon sump.  80 pounds of live rock in main tank 220 watts pc and 220 watts of VHO I have gone thru the brown diatoms now glass being covered with green algae also on glass in back and on power heads and rock. My phosphates are according  to my Salifert test kits at 0. nitrates are 1. nitrites 0 .ammonia 0  my ph during day 8.32. I do 10 percent water changes weekly just wondering if this is one of those phases that I should not worry about and that it will go away. <Very likely.  Have you tested your make-up water for above and silicates?> Also one more question I am dosing Kalkwasser I am planning to go reef . but before dosing Kalkwasser I measured 250  after 3 days of dosing Kalkwasser still 280 or 290 I tried supplementing with Kent liquid calcium still after 6 hours from putting that in the tank I am at 280 to 290  what to do? Thanks for any insight. Still learning, John S <We are all still learning John! I would test calcium and carbonate alkalinity and maintain within 380-450 for calcium and 3.5-5meq/L for carbonate alkalinity. 380 and 3.5 together would be ideal. The Liquid Calcium should raise your calcium as directed on the label. If your Alk is particularly high this would possibly result in low calcium readings. Kalkwasser does a great job of maintaining calcium but it is difficult to raise it significantly because of it's caustic nature and high pH. It is better to raise calcium with a supplement and then maintain it with Kalk.  The algae is likely a stage you are going through, but be mindful it does need nutrients to grow and that they are in the system, coming from somewhere and being utilized by the algae.  You don't get them on your tests because the algae uses them and keep them locked up in vegetative matter where they can't be tested for. You need to work on introducing less wastes and exporting more, perhaps more than 10% until you get established.  This will pass!  Craig>

Dunno, but it's green! (algae, marine) Howdy! <cheers, dear> I am having trouble with a green algae bloom in my 140 tall tank. I know, lots of frequent water changes, and change the carbon. However, the green film has turned all of the rocks green,  <this microalgae is common where flow is low and when nutrients accumulate (usually recently poor skimmer performance)> and my Devil's hand (?) coral has a film of green covering it. (I'm not sure that it IS a Devil's Hand - it is a pinkish color, looks like a fat cactus, and has small yellow "hands" that look like small flowers all over it.)  <Lobophytum... the "hands" are polyps... no worries here> Right now, it is all shrunk down, no "flowers" are out, and it looks horrible! Can the poor thing be saved?  <absolutely and easily... do increase water flow and get that skimmer producing 6-10 oz daily like it should <. I recall seeing your system and being surprised a little that the skimmer could keep up> When fully extended - blown up? like a balloon? - it is only 2" tall, so just a baby. Right now, maybe 1/2" tall. I'll look through the pics to see if I can find one of this coral; if you could direct me as to where to start looking?  <Eric Borneman's Aquarium Corals is a fine ID book to have on hand for this purpose> Hoping to hear from you soon,-Cathy Hughes in Texas <>< <remember... nuisance algae control is all about Nutrient control. Skimming alone can usually reduce such algae in 2 weeks or less. Extra water flow helps. Kindly, Anthony>

Green slime (?) algae My marine tank has developed a green algae, almost like a cellophane type. I vacuumed the tank, but it was back within 18 hours, is there a way to get rid of it, either through chemical or other? <Absolutely! This is caused by several factors. We want to wean you away from the chemical idea and give the real poop! The perfect place to find out exactly what you need to know is: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm Please jump there and check it out. You will have your algae under control in no time. Craig>

Hair Algae WWM Crew.... <<Greetings, JasonC here.>> I have a 72 gal reef tank that is about 2 years old that is undergoing a hair algae nightmare. There is thick green fine hair algae everywhere, and now some Cyano' has started to grow on the hair algae. It is not Bryopsis, as this stuff is fine hair like with no visible stalks or stems. It removes easily in clumps, and floats around the tank until it clogs intakes for the powerheads (2 MJ 1200's and a smaller MJ at the lower level, all on a Wavemaster pro timer). The tank has a sand bed (between 2-5" depending on how fish have re-arranged things) with a IPSF sand bed seeding kit added a long time ago. Tank also has about 60 lbs of LR since the beginning. Fish load is moderate (yellow tang, three damsels, flame angel, maroon clown and six line wrasse.) Corals consist of some star polyps, mushrooms, Sarcophyton and Alcyonium soft leathers. Also a clean up crew from about 18 months ago. No livestock has been added to the tank for some time, and most all of the inhabitants are well over a year and a half in the tank. Lighting is 260 watts of PC in a custom fan cooled hood. Bulbs were just changed about 2 months ago. (2 actinic, 2 10000k) The original filtration was a canister and an in tank skimmer. I thought the canister was fueling the hair algae with nutrients (even though they tested 0) <<Well... some of the 'nutrients' can't really be tested. I would also examine your feeding habits and perhaps look to cutting back by at least half of what you are doing now.>> so about a month ago I got rid of it and the in tank skimmer and put on a Remora with the MJ1200 pump and overflow/bubble trap box as the only filtration other than the LR/sand. The skimmer's cup fills up in about 2 days with a dark green liquid. I also added some "Rowaphos" from FFExpress that sits in the output section of the skimmer box. Since I got rid of the canister filter and got the better skimmer, the hair algae has not receded, yet I do not have to clean the glass but once a week instead of 2-3 times as before. <<Well... I think your upgrade of the skimmer was a wise choice, but a skimmer alone will not deal with an extreme algae problem.>> All water added to the tank is RO/DI. Water tests fine (O amm, nitrate, nitrite: phos less than .1ppm, ph 8.4, Alk 3.2 mil/eq/litre.) I did have a bout with low Alk about 4 months ago, then realized that the salt I was using was low in magnesium. I slowly brought mag. up from 800 to about 1250ppm and switched salts and now use Instant Ocean. Since then maintaining Alk has been no problem. Water changes have been 15 gallons once a month, but I think I'm going to start doing 5 gallons/week. But still, I have the hair algae! I am thinking of adding a hang on the tank power filter to catch loose strands of algae and run carbon in. <<Every little bit helps, and to that point, you should also do as much manual removal as you can, perhaps even daily.>> Beyond that and water changes with removing the most hair algae possible, I am out of ideas! I also have a 44 gal tank with almost the identical setup from the same stores, but it's never had a lick of hair algae. Any help/ideas would be greatly appreciated! <<I would suggest you bail on the wave timer, add another MaxiJet 1200 and face at least two of these pumps directly into each other. As interesting as the wave timers can make things, I think sometimes they actually cut back on the total water movement and you end up with areas of the tank that see little of that circulation. What typically happens with these types of algae problems is that there just isn't enough circulation which then allows the algae to take hold, and then over-run the tank. More, better circulation will help this.>> Thanks, Kris, PA <<Cheers, J -- >>

Mithrax crabs Dear Bob: First of all I have to tell you that your book is my bible. I keep it near my 60 gallon saltwater reef tank and as a result it looks pretty dog-eared. (It's had it share of salt water). I had a bad case of bubble algae and the fish store recommended Mithrax crabs. <Very typical.> My husband came home with one really full-sized crab and he couldn't do the job, so we got a bunch more, most of them small. I have four false Percula clowns, 1 pygmy angel and 1 royal Gramma, also a bunch of small crabs. I have a feeling I am missing some crabs, and now am frightened that I'll lose one of my clowns. They are all juveniles and one in particular is not a fast swimmer. The Mithrax crabs have done a good job but I now realize I have too many and would like to get rid of the largest ones and keep maybe one or two of the small ones. Question: How do I accomplish this without emptying out the tank. <I would try to trap they. Use the Google search engine on www.WetWebMedia.com looking for traps, mantis shrimp, etc. We have discussed several commercial and a few DIY traps.> Is it my fertile imagination that one night soon I'll lose a clown to one of these crabs? <No, a very real possibility.> And should I have any at all. <One to two small ones.> If I got a tang would that crowd my tank and would he eat the bubbles? <Depends on species, but probably yes and no respectively.> This is early Monday a.m. in California. I don't know where you are but I sure hope you check your email often. I think we need to take action within the next few days. PS We put some ROWAphos in our pump along with the carbon filters and it looks as if it's helping with the phosphate level, which was never sky-high as I have a protein skimmer and conscientious about cleaning the substrate. Thanks so much for your help. Connie Cavan <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Maiden's Hair and a diving question.... (Goin' to California with an achin' in my heart) Hello Mr. Fenner,  Phil here, I have a patch of Maiden's Hair in my 12 gallon Eclipse. It's getting bigger everyday. I plan to remove it and cut it down to size today. Its about the size of a baseball, my Tomato Clown seems to think its an anemone.  <Neat> Should I remove most of it or just trim it? <I'd try cutting away about half... see how the Clown does... keep the patch at about what you consider manageable size/shape, attractive> Thanks! BTW I will be in LA area from Aug 15 through Aug. 24. I am a certified open water scuba diver. Could you point out any good diving sites? Thanks again!  <Mmm, well... I'd make it on down to Laguna Beach if you could... Scotchman's Cove... and there's a couple other sites near there (that might be better depending on the day's tides, currents, waves). If you can spare the time to drive up north, there are many fabulous sites (with a 7 mil suit or dry) in and around Monterey... Jade Cove all the way to off of the Aquarium... Do chat this up with the local dive shops, do take care in planning your dive/diving your plan... and DO dive with a local buddy who "knows the terrain". Bob Fenner>

Hair Algae I have a 300 gal reef with 0 nitrates since adding an additional skimmer since ETS-800 is not big enough. My problem is I let some hair algae overtake the tank. I am using RO/DI water and I tested phosphate level and it wasn't bad, but I added Seachem remover. I purchased 200 hermit crabs and they haven't put a dent in it or can't keep up with it. I don't feed the fish at all. I only add Seachem iodine and strontium. Calcium is per Knop reactor. What advantage would Caulerpa in sump with reverse lighting help? <This could very well help your situation. Caulerpa would compete with the hair algae for available nutrients. At the very least, it would add a source of planktonic life/food to your reef tank.> I have 75 gal sump. Corals and fish look great otherwise. Should I try more crabs? <Not a fan of hermit crabs.> I am at my nerve endings! I pull out 2 cups of algae a week by hand. PLEASE HELP! <Try the refugium and review the extensive writings on WWM regarding algae control. -Steven Pro>

Bubble algae I have some concerns about the bubble algae in my tank. The tank is a 120 reef with fish and corals. The fish I have are: hippo tang, flame angel, Copperband butterfly, Foxface, royal Gramma, blue damsel, scooter blenny, and an o. clown. I have a couple emerald crabs too. I don't have a lot of bubble algae bubbles, but the three or four I usually do have get really big. The last two I picked off were twice the size of a golf ball. This has been going on for about six months. The reason I am worried about the algae is because I was at the LFS looking for corals and their tanks are covered with bubbles. How can I tell if the algae is going to go into sexual reproduction?  <no conspicuous outward appearance. But don't wait for it. You can tie a toothbrush (plastic zip/cable tie) to the end of a siphon so that the brush extends forward slightly. You can then scrub and siphon simultaneously so that "spores" are not spread when you rupture the bubbles> Do you think the fish I have help with bubble algae control?  <none at all likely> I've also read about Sailfin tangs liking it.  <yep... and Naso tangs too> Thanks! -Becky <best regards, Anthony>

Hair Algae problems Can Nori seaweed cause hair algae problem. RGibson <Not likely... not much "fertilizer" content (little nitrate, phosphate to it/dried, the Red Algae Porphyra). Bob Fenner>

Green Algae Question Regarding the Bryopsis in particular, I have read on a few other pages that Lettuce Nudibranch (Tridachia crispata) has successfully taken care of this nuisance algae. I also understand that they are rather hard to keep, mostly due to starvation from what I have read. I was looking for any input on this particular species to see if this would be a natural or at least decent predator for this algae. <Yes, will eat algae, but far better to eliminate the source of the algae (nutrients).> Currently this is all occurring in a 135 gallon tank with a Berlin Turbo acting as the skimmer with no real noticeable effect on deterring the algae growth. <Do you have to empty the cup every other day?> In fact, I just see the damn stuff popping up here, there.. soon to be everywhere. All in all, would this lovely little sea slug be a helpful ally in my upcoming battle, or will he/she just become even more of a pest to the overall scheme of things? -Andy <Could help, but I am more of the mind of discovering and correcting the root cause. -Steven Pro>

Green Algae Question II I too am interested in the root of the problem.. I tested everything again today and received the following results. PH 8.2 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 0 Temp 78 Alk lists in "normal" range of test kit Calcium about 400 O2 also reads "normal" Phosphate 0 - I wish I could be more specific about the "normal" readings but unfortunately, I am unable to determine what the exact reading is other than "normal". <All of the above seems good.> As for the Berlin skimmer, I emptied out a bunch of lovely smelling green gunk from it today, but I haven't seen much of a need to empty it every few days at this point. It currently is running full bore, and it seems to be working like it should, but not to the point where it needs to be emptied frequently. <I would play around with the skimmer some more to attempt to increase production; allow more air into skimmer, clean pump to increase flow, etc.> I am currently trying to battle a small BGA outbreak as well with this Bryopsis algae, but it looks like the BGA is starting to settle out. Are there any more tests that I can run on this that you would recommend, or anything in particular that I can look for to try to pinpoint this issue? <How old are your lamps, how often do you perform water changes, what salt mix do you use, what is your source water, do you feed too much, etc.?> Further background on the tank - 135 gal, 4 60" VHO - 1 super daylight, 2 50/50, 1 actinic pumps: Mag drive 950 in sump, 4 AquaClear 402 in tank. fish: 2 clarkii clowns, 1 Sailfin tang, 1 flame angel, 1 black ray shrimp goby, 1 fire goby. Inverts: 3 sand sifting stars, 1 rather large green carpet anemone, a few purple mushroom corals on a rock, 2 cleaner shrimp, 1 peppermint shrimp, about a dozen or so hermits (mostly blue legged, 1 scarlet and 1 other (he is getting big though). 150 or so pounds of live rock. <Take a look at the articles and FAQ's on algae control for some other ideas. There is a reason. Algae requires nutrients to grow. You just have to find out where they are coming from and correct it. -Steven Pro>

Green Algae I Think? I have a problem I have been unable to solve. my water parameters are ok, and lighting, tank has been up for 3 yrs, and I defeated the hair algae problem with the introduction of a protein skimmer that actually worked,  <excellent... the first and best course of action> and R. O. water. My problem is that green algae that seems to come back in a matter of hrs, I have done everything and have been reading all the articles on this problem, but I am a little confused. ultimately , I would like to get something to eat this stuff off, something really hungry, because I am tired of scraping it off every morning.  <high Redox levels and high pH (8.6 by day) will help to inhibit it) my inhabitants are: 2 scarlet hermits, 1 convict tang, and 1 sharp nose puffer, they all get along great in my 55 gal.  <comb tooth surgeons like the Kole/yellow eye and the Chevron are the most outstanding algae grazers> I am also on a budget, and can't really afford a fish that costs a million dollars.  <OK... Kole it is then <smile>> aside from bleaching the rock, I cant get rid of it, and till now I refuse to populate my tank with anything else till I resolve this problem, coz it seems pointless, ultimately I want to get some starter corals, and spread some coralline algae on my tank walls, stead of this unsightly algae, its really getting to me ...lol, and I have no idea what to do next....thank you...your like a fish genius from my reading, so I figured you the person to ask.  <a bit of coralline rich live rock to seed the tank with and upkeep of calcium and alkalinity levels will introduce corallines to compete with the nuisance algae in every way. Reef Calcium (like Seachem's) are quite good for growing corallines. Do consider. Best regards, Anthony>
Re: green algae I think? II
ah haa I think I understand, the coralline algae will compete with the green algae, and if I get some calcium in the tank, it will feed off it, and in tern be healthy, taking over the green algae's territory.  <exactly!> but I read that I could use ordinary baking soda to raise alkalinity, <to grow coralline (and corals, etc) you need both calcium and carbonates (Ca and Alk). Baking soda provides carbonates... but not calcium. It is an inexpensive but less stable way to buffer a marine aquarium IMO. Great for a fix.. but a tribuffer (Seabuffer) is better in the long run. Kalkwasser will be fine for calcium source. Forget all and make your life easy by using a two-part liquid supplement instead (Like B-Ionic or Sea Balance)> is there an mixing equation IE: amount per gallon?...and a specific time to dose it IE. night or day?  <if separate.. buffer/soda by day when pH is high (it will drop it) and Kalkwasser by night when pH is low (it will raise it)> also is there a good compatibility table for fish and inverts....before I go shopping for fish , I want to make sure I am not going to wake up one morning like I did when I first started, with a panther grouper, and a bunch of damsels and find out that the grouper had the damsels for breakfast....lol? <I love Bob Fenner's Conscientious Marine Aquarist and Dick Mills, The Marine Aquarium (Tetra press... even has an actual table of compatibility). Bob's book is newer and far more helpful though... truly a must. Best regards, Anthony>

Silver Bubble We've observed a couple of silver bubbles developing on the live rocks in the reef tank over the past several weeks. One of them has almost reached the size of a golf ball. They are not soft or pliable, but hard. What are these? Should they be removed? <Sounds like a kind of bubble algae, maybe Valonia ventricosa. Most consider them to be a pest, but I am not bothered by them. If you do remove them, do not break them open. Try to get them to pop off.> Thanks for your help. April <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Green algae question: Bryopsis Attached is a picture of some green algae that is starting to grow in my aquarium. It seems to be doing rather well as there are a few patches starting to grow. This, by far, is the largest of the patches. I am trying to figure out a few things about it. 1: what is it <Bryopsis sp> 2: is it a "pest" algae <severely a nuisance> 3: should I remove it / harvest it <good luck... bores into calcareous substrates and is difficult to extract completely... better to starve it out with aggressive protein skimming and high pH (8.6) and alkalinity (12dKH+)> Lastly, there is also a kelp like algae in the same picture just to the left of the big green blob. I am trying to figure out what kind that is as well, but I am not too worried at this moment because it does not seem to be reproducing rapidly. < a Sargassum sp... do enjoy it, not a nuisance although you will need to control its growth eventually by trimming> Thanks <best regards, Anthony> Andy

Benefits of Reading Ahead - Problems with Hair Algae  Hi, I hope that it is still Jason answering for Mr. Fenner. <<it is indeed, hello to you.>> I just want to say a couple of things, then onto a question. Jason, I want to take this moment to say hi. <<Greetings to you, sir.>> I read the daily FAQs, and as I think the most of Mr. Fenner, and his knowledgeable opinions, and advice, I also want to say that I really enjoy reading your answers also. I must say that the two of you really complement each other in the way you give your advice, and the style that you go about it. <<why thank you.>> One other thing, and this is just my opinion, but it is one that a lot of other readers will agree with. I read a email, ( I think it was on Friday) from a person who was asking all kinds of basic questions about filter systems, and all sorts of things. Now I don't want this to be taken negative in any way, because while I am in no way any kind of expert on this subject, I really just want to urge the person with all my heart to please read, read, read, and then still read some more. This is a hobby that you go into, I hope, for the long term, and by not reading constantly and learning, I can honestly guarantee that your days in this hobby will be numbered, and that you will give up. Either from the cost of expensive mistakes, or from sheer frustration of keeping a saltwater system running properly. <<ah yes, the person you speak of has also availed themselves to the discussion forum so hopefully in time he will also be keeping a healthy tank with a few less angels and lions.>> Believe me, I've been there a few times. <<myself as well.>> It is an amazing hobby to get into, but do it with your heart, for you, and all the living animals whose fate is in your hands! <<another brother CMA>> Now for the question, MY setup is a 125G. FOWLR tank. I have, in the past month redid the whole filter system. I now have a setup in the basement with a refugium containing Miracle Mud, with Caulerpa, and lit 24/7. Also a separate sump for LR. I have a Berlin XL skimmer, use RO water, and my lights have been converted to also be sufficient for a reef system. I have a clean up crew of snails, and various hermit crabs. I have tried all the different ways to cut back on algae but I still have an outbreak of hair algae that has taken over the LR, and all other surfaces. The only thing I thought of trying is a bigger cleanup crew, ( I know mine is way to little for my size system), I also thought of trying a one time cleanup with some type of additive ( chemical ?), <<don't give in to that impulse...>> but I know this cannot be good for the system, especially since the Caulerpa in the refugium is just a beneficial type of algae that any additive cannot differentiate from, and will basically end up destroying my filter system. What I thought of was cutting down on the time my lights are on. I was thinking if I let the lights go on in the morning before I go to work, so that the fish wake up, and I can feed them, then let the lights go off during the day when it gets into daylight hours, and then letting them come back on for the evening when it gets dark, till finally turning off for the night. Will this have a negative effect psychologically on the fish by screwing up their daily light cycle. <<I think so, yes.>> It is probably not a good idea because I will eventually want it to go back to a normal daily light cycle, and this will then again disrupt their habits. <<ah ok, on the same path...>> What would you recommend as a daily light cycle? ( I have a low light system that goes on a 1/2 hour before the main lights, then shuts off, and comes on again 1/2 before the main lights go off, and stays on 1/2 hour after, in the evening, to mimic a dusk, and dawn effect). <<Then 12 hours for the main cycle with the 1/2 hour before and after for a total of 13 hours. Will this help any in fighting the hair algae, or am I better off doing something else, and leaving the light schedule as is? <<try adding a powerhead or two.>> I think I will also add to my cleaner upper crew. By the way, I wasn't always using RO water. I just started in the past 2 months, around the same time that I upgraded my light system. <<So then this will kick in at some point soon.>> My skimmer has also only been installed for 2 weeks. <<and this as well>> Do you think that the tank will cycle out the bad algae by itself with time with the new equipment. <<might, but more flow in the tank will help.>> I CAN be patient, and wait it out, IF that's what it takes before starting to build the reef. <<good, then begin waiting it out...>> I cannot get into all the nooks, and crannies to siphon it out, or remove it manually either, and tearing down the setup to scrub the LR is out of the question. My fish are all well adjusted, and I don't want to freak them out. <<they'll get over it, this is much less traumatic than capture and transport from the wild to the store and to your house.>> I anxiously await your answer!! Greg N. <<Sorry it took so long to get back to you. Cheers, J -- >>

Ctenochaetus strigosus/Derbesia/Bryopsis Hi Bob, <Steven Pro this morning.> I'll keep this as short as possible. I know you're overwhelmed with mail. <Between the three of us, it is not too bad.> I've been reefing for over 12 years and have never had an algae problem until now. I believe it's due to my skimmer taking a crap and trouble for over a month trying to get the new skimmer I bought to work properly (presently waiting for a new, redesigned impeller to be sent by the company). Incidentally, the new skimmer was not cheap. It's a Red Sea Berlin Turbo geared for 250 gallons. Worked like a dream for about 2 weeks then wouldn't perform. When I contacted Red Sea, they informed me the original impeller was flawed and they now have a "redesigned" impeller. In Red Sea's defense, I did receive a prompt response from the company. I don't, however, understand why they put the unit on the market or didn't pull it off or recall it as soon as they realized it was flawed. I'm sure I'm not the only Reefkeeper who ended up with one of the flawed skimmers. At any rate, I've been without sufficient skimming for 4 to 6 weeks now, and low and behold, the Derbesia/Bryopsis have made their appearance in force. Yes, I am attempting to cut back on nutrient addition, but I have 3 large Tangs (Blonde Naso, Yellow, and Hippo (Paracanthurus hepatus)) in this 180-gallon system who prefer to be fat and happy. I've been considering adding a Yellow Eye (Ctenochaetus strigosus) to this system to assist in algae control. First, will he eat these types of algae, <He will eat some of this algae.> and second, will the Zebrasoma flavissimus. pulverize him if I do add him?  <Yes> Any other suggestions in ridding myself of this plague would be greatly appreciated. I don't like or use crabs--the majority end up killing and eating snails. What's your opinion on the Emerald crabs?  <Ok for eating some bubble algae, but I do not completely trust them.> Any good for this problem? <Maybe helping somewhat, but your better option is to get your skimmer working again and go back to your regular maintenance routine. Without the extra nutrients, the nuisance algae will disappear in time.> What snails are the best in your opinion? <I prefer Turbans to Astreas, but a mix is always good. Trochus, Nerites, and Cerith snails are all good and I like Limpets, too.> I've always had Astreas, Turbos, etc., but they don't appear to be putting a dent in this problem. None of my existing Tangs are the least bit interested in this algae. Any suggestions (other than getting my much-needed skimmer back in action) will be greatly appreciated. <No, get your skimmer working and maybe in the mean time, step up your water change regimen.> This wasn't so short after all, was it?:) Thanks <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Valonia Problems? Bob, I seem to be close to having an outbreak of bubble algae. All water parameters are fine (pH - 8.2, Temp - 79, Nitrates - 0.00, Alk - 3.2, etc.). I noticed a small amount of bubble algae on my live rock right after I placed it in the tank about 4-5 months ago, but recently it seems to be spreading everywhere. <<that is the nature of most any algae, given the right conditions>> I have green algae growing on the glass (front and sides) and a pretty good growth of red coralline algae growing on the back of the tank, but none seem to be spreading at the rate of the bubble algae. <<yes, very successful life form>> Are there any inverts or fish that feed on the bubble algae. <<Mithrax crab comes to mind.>> The algae is not a real problem yet, as I only have 3 small soft corals in the tank, but I've read that the bubble algae can choke out corals over time. Any help would be greatly appreciated as usual. <<do read through the following pages: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalg.htm - think perhaps about manual [with your hands] removal>> Thank You, Phil in San Diego <<Cheers, J -- >>

Problem Algae <<JasonC here, Bob has gone diving in the tropics>> I hope you and your family had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. I e-mailed you a few weeks ago regarding the horrendous hair/turf algae problem within my 92 gallon reef tank. This algae has been everywhere, all over rock, growing out of candy cane coral, etc. I have been doing weekly 25% water changes, totally cleaned out my sump where there was a lot of dead plant matter and grunge that was a by product of my Caulerpa grow-out area, siphoned rock, scrubbed rock outside the tank, added periodic carbon, etc. My problem appears to (maybe) slowed a bit, but I still have growth on the rock and in the candy cane. My bio load is low (only 3 fish) and I do not feed much at all (small pinch of flake once every 1 to 2 days). I am still concerned, as my Astrea snails have been slowly perishing or turning over more and my corals never seem to all be happy at once (my pagoda cup is alive but the polyps have not surfaced for over 4 weeks, <<mine comes out at night, son's you know>> my colt coral does not extend it's polyps on a continuous basis, my bubble looks well most of the time but still shrinks up periodically, <<not abnormal>> and my pagoda cup coral has also been spewing out brown goo some lately). <<could be a couple of things, but these often slough-off a mucus coating to keep themselves clean.>> At your previous suggestion, I was thinking of adding an algae-eating blenny or tang, but I am afraid my current water condition would stress and kill a new addition right now. <<Maybe not, a Tang might be excited to have such a smorgasbord of algae... >> Do you think my problem could be: 1. New improved Kent Marine 2 part solution is too much? (dosed daily) <<no, calcium 2-part systems are not known for creating problem algae>> 2. Possible stray voltage from power heads? <<no, again this is a red herring - would not cause this problem>> 3. Non-living sand bed, as I do not have any copepod, amphipod, worm activity what-so-ever <<if you have live rock, then at some point your substrate will liven up. Additionally, these breed well in these types of algae blooms so you probably do have several of these.>> I was thinking of creating a deeper sand bed and seed it with some live sand. My current aragonite grain size is probably about 1.5-2 mm. Do you like the "go for it" conversion method where I take everything out and do a 4-6 inch sand bed addition with the sugar-sized or oolitic sand, or should I add to my existing 1-1/2 inch bed (and eventually cover part of the existing rock)? <<no... go slowly.>> Sorry for all of the information again, but I am determined to right my once pristine system. <<be patient, will most likely take more time and more work.>>

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

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