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FAQs on Controlling Green/Hair, Chlorophyte Algae 4

Related FAQs: Green Algae Control 1, Green Algae Control 2, Green Algae Control 3, 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

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Hair algae in yellow polyps   3/25/06 Love your site! You have helped me out several times before. I have a couple of questions. How do I get hair algae out of, and in between my yellow polyps? <... reduction of available nutrients, competition from other photosynthetic life, use of specific predators, chemical filtrants...> Every where else is fairly clean of algae, but is it growing in between the polyps. I first noticed it when my yellow tang looked like it was trying to eat the polyps but was actually going after the hair algae. What do you suggest? <Mmm, to read on WWM re> I have an enormous colt that I need to trim back. What do I need to know if I cut this coral? <Posted as well...> Thanks for all of your great help. Dallas <Learn to/use the indices, Google search tool on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Help unknown algae  - 1/30/2006 Hello Crew, Thanks for the great site!  I have a question regarding 100+ sprouts of an unknown macro algae that growing all over my 3 week old "Fiji Premium Live Rock".  I have 90 lbs of it in my 50 gallon new reef tank.  I guess I want to know if it is a problem, and if it is a problem what should I do to remove? <Mmm, might be Derbesia: http://www.google.com/search?q=derbesia+identification> I do not have a sump to place competing favorable Algaes.  I do have a Magnum canister filter and an Aqua-C Remora.   Thanks in advance for your help. <Need more info... or to direct you to the articles, FAQs files on WWM re Algae Control... Bob Fenner>

Re: Help unknown algae   1/31/06 Bob, <Tom> Thank you for your response.  What more information do you need (I have included 2 more photos)?  I reviewed your links and they did not seem to help me understand what I am up against. <Really? A bit wider search will show this genus is hard to control once established... most "algae eaters" find it unpalatable...> I have a yellow tang, scarlet hermits, Mithrax crab, Astrea, Cerith, and Nassarius snails and none of them will eat it. Your advice is greatly appreciated. Tom Hobson <Umm, go back young man... to WWM. Read re Green Algae, Control... Bob Fenner>
Re: Help unknown algae   1/31/06
Bob, <Tom!> I'm sorry but I must be a little too dim... <Mmm, nope... gauging from below you're at least in the Metal Halide class of intensity> but I do not see the light.  I have read the algae control section.  I have restricted food for the fish (nutrients).  I have added, "tang heaven red and green" from IPSF.com to compete.   Ammonia    0 Nitrite    0 Nitrate    5 Ph    8.3 Alk    300+ <Mmm, the last is likely calcium concentration in ppm?> I have not tried an urchin, or Elysia.  The only other things I think of is to pull the rock out and try to razor blade the plants off or throw it away and start over. <Not yet...>   Is there some little tidbit that I am missing that will prevent me from tossing the live rock? <Yes... I'd try the Kalkwasser trick here once or twice. Mix up a batch and add some till the pH reaches about 8.6... should precipitate soluble phosphate and really shake the Green. We'll "escalate" (Shades of "Nam", and soon the Middle East) what you might do here next if this doesn't do the trick. BobF> Tom Hobson
Re: Help unknown algae   1/31/06
Bob, <Tom> I guess I need to cut the chase here.  If this rock is going to be a continual problem, I want to throw it out and start over with a new batch of live rock. <Mmm... not really a good, practical approach. The new rock (or even no rock at all!) can/will develop the same algae/problem from spores left about, and prevailing conditions... Best to take a sort of long haul, steering a large boat with a small rudder attitude here... create competition for nutrient, reduced nutrients period, and allelopathy means of control...> As costly as this may be, I would rather spend the money than beat my head against a wall.  This tank was supposed to be an enjoyable hobby right now it is pain. <Believe you me, I understand... as stated, categorically I'd launch a blitzkrieg with the three avenues above. Bob Fenner> Tom Hobson

Bubble algae problem  - 01/12/2006 After I introduced some new live rock into my tank a ton of bubble algae have been overtaking it. Previously no bubble existed in my tank and even at the beginning of this problem the few clusters of algae developing were retrieved easily by hand (not braking them but always one or two explodes within the cluster). <Best to siphon out... with a small diameter bit of rigid tubing attached to a length of larger flexible> But now there are bubbles all over the rocks and not in clusters but also single ones. I have no other problems with algae, neither Cyanobacteria, diatoms or hair algae. I have a refugium with biosediment and 4 mangrove plants and Caulerpa in it and when tests for phosphates and nitrates are performed only phosphate gives a reading of less than 0.2ppm (which is the minimum of the aquarium pharmaceutical test range). Nitrate reads 0ppm. <May well be that these essential nutrients are being scavenged, not in solution...> A keep a record since I began my tank more that 1 1/2 years ago of all my readings all are consistent (even when changing test kits brands throughout that period of time the results are similar or identical). What will be my options here, introducing some kind of fish or invertebrate that feeds on it or water parameters must be adjusted? <More the latter... I would switch out the Caulerpa for other algae (groups... Reds), maybe try the "Kalkwasser Trick"...> Just to give you another thing that is maybe marginal in my parameters is alkalinity which is at 7dKH. Calcium is between 450-500, <I would raise former, drop the latter...> ph is 8.2(the refugium is lighted on a reverse cycle so I think this is or should be somewhat stable) and ammonia and nitrite are 0 according to my test kits (red sea and aquarium systems). Thanks! <These are covered on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Re: Bubble algae problem... the Google search tool   1/13/06
Sorry for my ignorance but, what is the Kalkwasser Trick or where did I find this explanation? <Sorry re... to expedite matters, let's give you "fishing" instead of a/the fish: use the Google search tool on WWM, view the cached version with these two words...> Thanks for your recommendations. Actually I'm using Kent super buffer dKH in an attempt to bring the Alk up to around 10 or 11 that is where I previously kept before started using a Coralife 2 part buffer and calcium additive. Since using that product the Alk never raised from 7 even when I stopped using the calcium part of the system. <Thank you for this data. Bob Fenner>

I have a quick question about green algae, using WWM  12/29/05 In my 55 gallon fish only marine tank.  I have 1 small piece of live rock I recently put in there.  The tank has been established for over a year.  At the time I only have one clown fish in it.  I put the other clown in a 29 gallon with 1 piece of live rock that I am cycling for a Q T.  I have done my second 20 gallon water change over three weeks and will do another next week.  I am changing over to R O water from the store water machine.  But I am constantly turning over my substrate (Crushed Florida Coral) due to a thin layer of green algae that forms over it.  It is not overtaking my tank but it's just annoying and unattractive.  One thing that I did do is take one of my two BioWheels from my big Emperor filter and change it with the new one from my smaller emperor in my Q T to give it a jump with the bacteria.  In my 55 I have a SeaClone 150, 2 Hagen model 70 powerheads, a 250 watt Tronic heater, and an emperor 480 filter.  Can you please help me with my problem.  My local fish store told me to change the water over to R O, and get live rock in there, and make sure I have plenty of water movement.  Could me taking one of the bio wheels out and changing it with a new one have messed things up.  If so how long do you think it might take to get back to normal.   Thanks a lot. Aaron <Could be a few things... and in turn there are a few approaches to controlling pest algae, green and otherwise. Please start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and onto the linked files at top where you lead yourself. Bob Fenner>

Need Real Help On Algae Control - 12/12/05 Hi Guys, <<Hello>> Need your wisdom, again!  I've been battling Green Hair algae for more than 6 months and am losing the war!  Please correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I read on the web, this type of algae needs PO4 and NO3 to survive, right? <<Tis the popular notion, yes.>> My initial measurements showed PO4 = 0.25 mEq/l and NO3 = 25 mEq/l.  To bring down the PO4, I used a PO4 removal media (Aquaz PurePhos) in a PhosBan Reactor.  Also, I did weekly water changes of 45L using Coral Life salt to try and reduce the NO3. <<All good...but you need to determine the source of the phosphate/nitrate.  Do you use filtered (RO, ion exchange, etc.) water?  Have you tested your top-off water?  Have you tested the salt mix?  Both are potential culprits.>> The PO4 was soon at zero or near zero (using the Salifert kit).  But, it did not help to reduce the algae. <<Likely still present, but being utilized by the algae so fast it doesn't register.>> If fact, it seems like the algae grew. <<Seems I read somewhere someone speculated that large growths of algae are able to produce their own nutrients.  Whether true or not, you should employ manual removal as part of your battle plan.>> And, I can't get the NO3 down with water changes (in fact, it went up to between 25-50 mEq/l). <<If the salt mix is the culprit the water changes are only making things worse.  You need to determine this by testing after mixing a fresh batch.>> So, I decided to try a Denitrator (AquaMedic Nitratreductor 400).  It's been running for about 6 weeks and has brought the NO3 down to about 5 mEq/l (note - weekly water change still continuing). <<Well and good...but you still need to determine the source of the excess nitrate.>> However, the algae is still there!  And it is definitely growing. <<You are only treating the symptoms...the algae is still getting plenty to feed upon regardless of your test kit readings.  Not to say the measures you've taken won't have an effect, but recovery after the fact is always a slow process.>> I am at my wits end and could really use your advice. <<Find the source of the PO4/NO3>> Particulars of my tank as follows, Tank Size - 39 Gal Sump Size - 16 Gal Equipment: Return pump - Eheim 1260 Lights - 6 X 24W T5 (all less than 6 months old).  Photoperiod less than 6 hrs a day. <<I would use a "normal" photoperiod (10-12 hrs.).  Reducing the photoperiod does more harm than good overall in my opinion, and really does have little effect on your algae problem.>> PhosBan Reactor with Aquaz PurePhos (replaced in Sept 05) AquaMedic Nitratreductor 400 AquaC EV120 skimmer driven by a Sicce Extrema w/addition of Ozone Measurements as of 10 Dec 05: SG - 1.024 pH - 8.36 KH - 8.48 dKH NO3 - 5 mEq/l Mg - 1260 ppm PO4 - 0 mEq/l Ca - 360 mEq/l (I know this a bit low!) ORP - 440 mv <<Be careful with this...approaching unsafe levels.>> Live Stock: 1 Yellow Tang <<Your tank is too small for this fish.>> 1 Six-line Wrasse 2 Clarke Clown 2 Cleaner Shrimps Some mushrooms and buttons What do you guys think?  Anyway to help? <<Start the manual removal on a weekly basis...up your pH to 8.5/8.6...increase calcium to 400...and most importantly, strive to identify and reduce/eliminate the source(s) of the PO4 and NO3.>> Regards. <<Good luck, EricR>>

Hair algae and Caulastrea - 12/1/05 Hi Crew, I had a hair algae attack about a year ago. It was on everything everywhere. It is not gone but under control thanks to your help. Although it pops up here and there it is pretty much confined to two small rocks with mushrooms and two candy canes. I use a toothbrush every few weeks to clean them. It also grows on my snails which I also brush when it looks like they have a pony tail.  But lately I have another kind growing that just does not come off. It looks like grass, is strongly attached to whatever it is growing on and it very tough and coarse. <Does indeed sound like a hair alga.> What kind is it and is there a way to get rid of it? I do not have much but it grows where I would rather it not be. I can chip the rocks they are on to get them off but it is also on my candy canes. <I wouldn't chip... it'll just pop up elsewhere anyway. best to identify the cause and control this, in addition to manual removal. To get started, I would look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalgcontfaqs.htm> Regarding the candy cane, there is a tan one with green centers and each head is smaller than a dime. One head has divided. The other is burgundy with a light blue center. It had one head that was dead, one that just had a center and very little flesh around it and the third was about the size of a dime. The little head has more flesh and the good one is now about the size of a nickel and looks very plump. Is there any reason why it is not splitting? <Could be any number of factors. It will need regular feeding for optimum growth. May asexually reproduce by budding/branching in addition to fission.> Thanks to the Crew and to Marina for the editing. <Fortunately, in your case, I don't think she'll have to ;). Best regards from Shanghai, John>  <<Fantastically easy query to post.  (Only had to hyperlink.)  Thank YOU!  Marina in the Motherlode>>

Hair algae - 29/11/05 I have a 125 gallon fish only tank that has been set up for about seven years. Recently I have developed a serious hair algae problem that I have not been able to cure. I had a SeaLife wet/dry filter with CPR overflow, a HOT Magnum 350 and a Prizm skimmer on this tank. I recently disconnected the wet/dry and added another whisper filter for the time being. I also have about 100lbs of live rock, completely overgrown with algae. my plan is to tear down the tank and replace the old crushed coral with aragonite, and turn the wet/dry into a refugium under the tank which will be lit opposite to the main tank. Also [I plan] to scrub all the live rock to remove the algae. I will also use the HOT Magnum on the tank. Any suggestions would be welcome. <I would be testing for nitrates and phosphates and looking for approaches to reduce them. Depending on the fish load, removing some of your bio-media and relying on the live rock for filtration may help your lot. Replacing the crushed coral is probably a good idea, unless you vacuum it diligently and regularly. You may also want to investigate the purchase of a more powerful skimmer, and ensure you have enough circulation in the tank to get all -- or at least most -- of the detritus to that skimmer. Finally, after seven years, it may be time to cycle some of the rock out for fresh live rock. For more ideas, do read through the algae FAQs on WetWebMedia.> Any thoughts on using a U V sterilizer, or is that counter productive? <No harm or benefit> Thanks. <You're welcome! Best regards, John>

Hair Algae And Fish Stocking - 11/14/05 Hello Crew! <<Howdy>> It has been a while. Thank you for all your wisdom to date! <<We hope it has been helpful.>> I am writing to ask you several questions about my 120g reef tank. I have a wet/dry filter, protein skimmer, UV sterilization (8 watt), mixture of actinic and metal halide lighting. It is stocked with about 90-100lbs of live rock, several soft corals (mushroom, polyp, and brains), coral banded shrimp, blood and skunk shrimp, 75-100 crabs, and 10-15 snails. I have several fish: Percula Clown, Hippo Tang, Yellow Tang, Flame Angel, 2 Fire Fish, Banggai Cardinal, Lawn Mower Blenny, Striped Goby, and 3 Anthias. <<Mmm...a tank full...>> Here are my questions: 1.Recently I have had a huge green hair algae bloom. <<Might be the fish load.>> I have tried (and trying) the suggested ways to decrease the algae. I do 10% water changes every 10-14 days, I have been feeding less, I have checked the PO4, <<Likely the algae is using the available PO4 before it can be detected.>> I decreased the amount of lighting to 8 hours a day, <<I never recommend decreasing the photo-period.>> added more crabs, hand plucked the larger thickets, my nitrates are normal, but I am losing the battle. Any other suggestions? <<Well, I don't believe in starving fish...you might want to consider finding another home for the Hippo Tang to reduce the bio-load. You can also try raising pH to about 8.5/8.6 and make sure calcium stays above 350. But I'm sure you read about all this in our FAQs.>> << <giggle> <hint hint> >> Anything I can add to the tank that will destroy or eat the algae? <<Not with any consistency...besides, you're just treating the symptom...you really need to find and eliminate the cause.>> 2. Do I have too many fish in my tank? <<Ah...I think so, yes.>> 3. I have a green polyp coral that has been overrun by the nuisance algae, the polyps have ceased coming out, if I can control the algae do you think it will come back? <<Very likely it will recover once the algae is under control.>> Thank you. Dr. M <<Regards, EricR>>

Attack Of The Caulerpa!  Reefer Forced to Take a Hands-off Approach 10/22/05 I'm hoping someone has a solution for what has me ready to abandon my many years of marine aquarium keeping. <<uh oh...sounds like trouble...>> The Caulerpa housed in the refugium has migrated to the main tank and is threatening to completely take over everything. <<Not uncommon...this genus of macroalgae is known for its invasiveness. One of several reasons I prefer Chaetomorpha for refugium use.>> Unfortunately, I had hand surgery earlier this year and with my hands in casts was unable to stop the progression in time. <<Ouch! Hope things are getting better.>> My tank is sixty gallons and I have, live rock, which is being completely taken over, six small to medium fish and a few corals. I think because of the small size of the tank that a fish big enough to eat this Caulerpa would not fare well, if this is even a possibility. <<Mmm...maybe>> Since, my hands are still recuperating does anyone have a solution to this problem? <<Enlist a friend to help/contact an aquatic service... EricR>>

Green Algae Problem/Clam Questions  10/20/05 Hello Crew, <Hello Ethan> I have looked on your website to help me with my green algae problem. Do you have any other suggestions to help me with the vast overgrowth? My 120 reef tank is approx 8 months old, I have a hippo, yellow, dwarf angel 2 Firefish, 1 royal Gramma, lawn mower blenny, striped goby, 1 percula clown, one blood shrimp, 1 banded coral shrimp, and a skunk cleaner, a couple of feather dusters, a mix of soft corals (mushrooms, polyps, and brains) 75-100 crabs, and a handful of snails. I do 10-15% water changes every 10-14 days, I have a protein skimmer, metal halide and actinic lights. What else can I do?
<What brand protein skimmer are you using?  Nitrates/phosphates that encourage nuisance algae growth will come from overstocking, overfeeding and detritus in the substrate.  I think we can eliminate overstocking.  Controlling the amount of food that is fed helps considerably.  Feed small amounts until the fish seem uninterested. Its a good idea to use foods that are high in protein.  When changing water, it is recommended to use a sand/gravel cleaner siphon to remove detritus present in the substrate.  I practice what I just mentioned.  My new tank has been set up for one year with no nuisance algae and nitrate levels that are unreadable with my test kit.  Refugiums also help considerably.  With macro algae present in the refugium, the nuisance algae's food supply becomes restricted.  I'm going to guess your biggest problem is excessive detritus in your substrate. My second question is about my T. squamosa clam that seems to be getting 'pale', what do you think is going on? I think I have adequate lighting and I supplement with phytoplankton. <If your tank is a 72" long model, adequate lighting for most clams will be around 700-800 watts.  As far as feeding, I'll attach a couple of letters here from Barry Neigut (www.clamsdirect.com) regarding feeding.  James (Salty Dog)> Dr. E <<James... where are these links? RMF>>

Green Algae 9/16/05 Dear Bob, <Glenn here today.>      Thanks for your help along my Saltwater Endeavor. I am having a bright green algae growing on the walls of my tank which doesn't come off all that easy.      If this a good thing to leave growing and have as a back drop or should this algae be removed? If so what's the best way to remove that algae? (Nudibranchs??)      A friend of mine whose been a long time saltwater keeper says that green algae is a good sign when there and bad if its not? What's your take on it as I don't know whether to leave it or remove it? <I would add a few Astrea snails as they seem to be the best glass cleaners and will consume many types of algae.  Just be sure to flip them over if they get turned upside down as these snails tend to not be able to right themselves and will die if left upside down.  I would not add a Nudibranch unless you have really done a lot of research on them and feel that you can provide the proper conditions for these somewhat more difficult creatures.> Thanks <No problem.> Jay

Bubble algae 8/29/05 Hi Whoever is there today, <Howdy Sharon> Please can you give some advice. I've scoured the website and can't seem to find an answer. I have one little collection (about 8 little bubbles) of what I think is black bubble algae on one of my live rocks. It has been there for several weeks now and hasn't spread as far as I can see; the bubbles are just getting bigger. This is on one of my biggest rocks and there is no chance of taking the whole thing out of the water. There is no other algae problem in my tank so I don't think there is a nutrient problem in the water. Should I try and scrape the bubbles off? I have been reluctant to do anything so far in case that makes it spread somewhere else. What do you suggest I do? <I would try rubbing it with the end of your siphon during water changes... if it doesn't all come off, no big deal... with time, likely it will go of its own accord. Bob Fenner> Many thanks, SharonJ

Algae Outbreak! Hey Guys (and gals), <Scott F. your guy today!> I have a question on controlling my sudden bloom of green hair algae. I have a 90 gal reef tank with several fish, and cleaning crew. My RO/DI unit read 7ppm on my TDS meter yesterday, and my Salifert Phosphate kit read 0 phosphates.  I have a 48" Aqualight pro w/ 2 150w HQI's and 2 96watt PC's that is almost a year old.  I replaced all bulbs last weekend, thinking it would help, realizing it was time to replace at least the pc's.  My tank has a good amount of live rock in it (80lbs or so) and a 20 gal refugium (small but all I had at the time). I do sporadic water changes at about 10gal every 2-3 weeks but did a 20gal last night. <Try to get in the habit of smaller, more frequent water changes. Relatively easy to do.> I feed about 1 cube of Mysis shrimp (Hikari, I believe), and maybe a bit of flakes or pellets once in a while to mix things up and get food to my monster sized anemone.  My live stock: Fish: 2 Skunk Clowns, 1 Red Scooter, Purple Tang, Neon Damsel, Brown Foxface, Bicolor Pseudochromis. Corals: 3 types of mushrooms, Rasta Coral, Brown Star Polyps, Sea Mat, large Frog Spawn (doing awesome), Xenia. Others: Serpent Star,  a few red and electric blue hermits, Brittle Star, and a host of snails. <Sounds like a nice mix.> one note: I realized that my temperatures were fluctuating a bit much but that has since come under control with the lowering of my AC.  The tank was going from 78.8 - 81 in a single day.  It's  now with in a degree to a degree and a half. <Well, it's good that your phosphate level is undetectable, but I think that there is more to it. Do check on the need to replace your RO/DI membranes. Also, consider things such as increasing flow, more aggressive protein skimming, etc. Check under the many, many FAQ's and articles we have here on the WWM site about "nutrient control" or "nuisance algae", and you'll find plenty of information. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>  

Correcting Some Common Problems... Dear Crew, <Scott F. with you today!> Sorry to annoy you again. <Never annoying us...We're here to help!> My new 230 gallon tank is inundated with hair algae and pest anemones. After reading and reading articles in your web site, I have concluded I could be fighting a losing battle. I had intended to set up a quarantine tank and remove all my fish, I also intended to let my main tank go fallow. To ensure that no ich lurked there, if I completely covered the tank at the same time to remove all forms of light would this rid the algae and anemones?. <It might put a damper on the algae, but the anemones may survive. I think it's more wise to go to the root of both of these problems-Excessive nutrients somewhere in the system, supporting their growth. Thoroughly review everything that you do with this system, from stocking to maintenance to feeding. Husbandry issues can cause these problems. Consider starting with your source water. Do you use RO/DI water that is free of excessive nitrate, phosphate, and other potential algae "fuel"? Do you run an efficient protein skimmer, producing skimmate on a regular basis? Are you conducting frequent small water changes? Are you running chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon, Poly Filter, etc.? While use of these media is not a "crutch" to replace proper husbandry techniques, they can help maintain good quality water between water changes. Think about nutrient export. Lack of proper nutrient export processes is probably 90% of your problem. Nuisance algae and anemones almost always are the result of these deficiencies.> Or should I drain the tank, and start from scratch, with new rock, bioballs and sand? <You could, but it may simply be better to modify the system and correct some of the things that are causing the problems.> Ensuring that I screen any future in habitants prior to entry. Would I need to do anything else if I went down this path? i.e. Treatment to the tank prior reestablishment. <Well, as I suggested, establishing more effective nutrient export processes is the way to go. Also, consider reviewing feeding techniques and stocking as well. These are all easily correctable problems. Start by looking in the WWM article index and reviewing some of our articles on maintenance, husbandry, and nutrient export. The information is all there to help you correct or re-start your system. I briefly touched on some ways to correct the problems that you are experiencing; there are many other ideas on the site, so do take a look!> In the mean time I shall attempt improved lighting filtration. And water changes, I intended to install an abalone, I've been told these are wonderful with algae. However if this is as successful as some of the FAQs I have read I would rather restart now while I have no corals and a low fish population. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. John <Well, John you could re-start the system if you want, but it may be better just to correct the problems that you have. Creatures like abalone, snails, etc. are helpful, but they are no replacement for properly designed systems with efficient nutrient export systems...Get to it- you can do it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

When Good Algae Go Bad! (Nuisance Algae Control) Crew : My 100-gallon reef recently experienced an amazing explosion of microalgae, somewhat breathtaking if it weren't for the obviousness nastiness involved. <I can appreciate that! Scott F. with you today.> I know what caused it, mostly, and I was hoping to get some idea from you guys exactly why it happened. The algae in question are Chlorodesmis fastigiata and Valonia macrophysa (turtle and pearl <bubble>), from what I can tell. <Yikes! Valonia is at the top of my "All Star" nuisance algae list...Are you sure that you're dealing with Chlorodesmis (aka "Turtle Weed")? It's generally not considered one of the easier microalgae to grow, as it requires intense light and lots of water movement. Unfortunately, most herbivores tend to avoid this algae, as it does contain some noxious predator-inhibiting substances, so manual extraction is generally the way to remove it. You're certain that this is not Bryopsis? This is a very common misidentification...> Live rock is about a 100lbs of Fiji, and about 100 lbs of live, sugar-fine aragonite sand. It's a very lightly stocked tank (baby Royal Gramma, 2 small Tomato Clowns, and a medium Regal Tang.) I've focused mainly on softies, with a few LPS corals hanging out around the bottom. Param.s are : sal 1.024 (via refract), temp 83 F, Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate 0/0/0, and phosphate 0. Of course, these 0 readings mean that my test kit simply can't detect any, I'm sure there are lingering amounts of these substances. <True, but it's a very nice trend to see> I run a canister filter with 4 bags of ChemiPure and 4 Poly Filters, rinsing thoroughly every week and replacing 1/4 of both filter media at the same time. <Good habit there!> Water changes are once every week or two, about 15%, with phosphate free and nitrate free water. I've actually cut back on the nutrients going into the tank in the last 4 months or so, before this green explosion began. I quit using Marine Snow and DT's, and feed the fish less than I used to. <Another excellent habit> The only thing I've changed in this time period has been the lights! I used to run 230 watts of CF, 1/2 10,000K and 1/2 Actinic 03 blue. During this time I had to look really hard to see any green micro algae at all. About 3 months ago I side-graded to a DIY 440 watt VHO setup, with an IceCap 660 ballast and 2 URI Actinic VHOs and 2 Ott Lites from Home Depot. Ott Lites, according to the cranky customer service rep I grilled on the phone, are full spectrums that run around 5200K with a CRI of around 92ish. My softies and Zoanthids started growing bigger and faster, and my hammerhead LPS starting growing much faster. All of the 'good' things seem to be doing very well with the new lighting arrangement. So, my first question is this (finally) : Are these low-temp bulbs from Home Depot the culprit? And, exactly why? I know that green algae prefer the reddish colors present at a higher percentage in these lower temp bulbs (if I recall, 600-780ish nm wavelengths), but how could this cause such an explosion? I've pulled out about 8 lbs of green stuff - algae I could get my hands on - and a lot more stubbornly sticks to almost everything. It's so bad it's almost funny - the usually egg-sized Mr. Snail is about the size of a baseball, most of which is an afro-like growth of algae on his shell. I've uncovered lost colonies of Zoanthids - like discovering a lost Mayan city - by pulling out fistfuls of green stuff. <My position on nuisance algae outbreaks is that the root cause is almost always excesses of nutrients AND available light, as you no doubt have concluded yourself. Yes, certain wavelengths of light are more "useful" to algae, and will grow them better, but I'd be hesitant to blame just the lights. Interestingly, even though both of these algae are regarded as "pests" in the aquarium, neither is generally regarded as strictly a result of poor husbandry. In other words, they can flourish even in well-maintained tanks! Unfortunately, manual extraction is generally regarded as the best method of ridding your tank of these annoying algae. A slow siphon equipped with a toothbrush, or careful use of a tweezers can help. Some species of Naso and Zebrasoma tangs will occasionally dine on these algae, but they do get quite large. Complete elimination may not be possible, but you may be able to reduce them to a point where they will not dominate the tank!> I have bubble algae that grew so quickly and forcefully that pearls of it grew into and was surrounded by the flesh of saddle leathers. My tomato clowns don't hide in the rock work any more - they just hover in forests of green like they're nestled in a bubble tip anemone! <Grr...Again, manual extraction is probably the best way. Continued attention to good husbandry is also helpful. Unfortunately, the best way to avoid this stuff is to very carefully screen new live rock to prevent it from getting into the tank to begin with. It doesn't take much of a "seed" culture to get the outbreak going. Perhaps even removal of the affected rock with intense scrubbing in a separate container may be the only to rid your tank of these guys. They generally arrive as "hitchhikers" on live rock, and don't just appear in otherwise algae free systems.> The second question I have is : why if my phosphates and nitrates are so low, can just low temp lighting cause this explosion? <I'd be surprised, myself. Very accurate phosphate test kits (like Merck, Hach, or LaMotte) can reveal the presence of a lot more phosphate than you might think. It takes so little of this compound to trigger nuisance algae growth. On the other hand, you don't seem to have problems with any of the more common nuisance algae, so these levels may truly be in check. Do continue to also monitor pH, alkalinity, and temperature as part of your routine> I thought that both lighting and nutrients were needed, and in the absence of one the overabundance of the other wouldn't matter. Apparently I am wrong ! Thanks for clearing this up - SLC <Well, Shannon, since you have nothing to lose at this point, why not bravely experiment with different lighting to see if it makes a difference in your case? I would be a bit surprised if this makes a huge difference, but you never know. In then end, you may need to resort to continued tedious manual extraction or possibly replacing the affected rock. Either way, don't stop your excellent husbandry habits. You can and will get through this. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> 

Hair algae problems 5/16/05 Hi Crew, I'm recently in the midst of a battle with Green Hair Algae that has taken over my one and a half year old 55 gallon tank. I tested my phosphates and nitrates (0 phosphates (LaMotte kit) and .05 nitrates) but despite these "good readings" I still have this problem. I was using Kent Liquid Reactor but I stopped using it prior to the water change and won't continue with it. My other water readings are: DKH 8 PH 8.2 temp 78 salinity 1.025 2 VHO 95 watt bulbs only 3 months old on for 8 hours per day <This all sounds good. See comments below about low PO4 and Nitrate readings.> I changed all of the cartridges plus the RO membrane on my Spectra Pure 2000 and did a 40 % water change on my 55 gallon tank yesterday. I have an EV 120 Aqua C skimmer that's working fine. How frequent should my water changes be to rid myself of this algae? How much should I change? I have only 2 clownfish and feed only 1 time per day.  <I would suggest checking the PO4 of your RO water. Carbon is made porous with phosphoric acid, and unless it is rinsed, it can leach a lot of PO4. Assuming your RO water is PO4 free, I would perform 15% water changes every two weeks until the problem is under control. You may consider the addition of a couple (1 per 40 gallons) of turbo snails and possibly an algae eating fish like a blenny or bullet or Rainford's goby.> How long do you think it will take for the algae to "starve" and go away? How is it possible to have good test readings from reputably accurate test kits like LaMotte for phosphate but still have an explosion of green hair algae? I hope you can help. THX  <Zero readings for PO4 and NO3 can be deceptive since algae can be consuming these nutrients as fast as they are introduced or produced. At least some manual removal is very helpful if not necessary. This can be done with a stiff plastic brush in a bucket using water removed during water changes. With scrubbing, water changes and the introduction of a few grazers, I would still expect it to take a couple of months to get ahead of this problem, but be patient, you will win! Best Regards. AdamC.> 

Valonia Dear Crew, I really appreciate your site and find it very informative. I am always amazed at the boneheads that jump all over somebody when they don't agree with the advice they receive. That being said, I have a question about Valonia. A few years ago I had a few Valonia in my 65 gallon tank, and emerald crab took care of the problem and the tank showed no signs of Valonia. After a tank crash that I think was caused by the death of an orange tree sponge, the crab died. The Valonia has gradually increased to the point where I need to take more aggressive measures to rid my tank of this nuisance. I have read ALL the information on Wet Web Media and its seems that the best answer is to get another emerald crab.  <Yes> I have two questions. First, other than the usual nitrate reductions advice is there anything else I can do? <Do not overstock the tank, reduce nutrients.> Second, I am concerned about my other livestock getting munched by the crab if I get it. I have two peppermint shrimp, a scooter blenny, a six line wrasse, a purple tang, and two percula clownfish. I am very worried that the peppermint shrimp and the blenny are potential victims. How threatened are they?  <Not to worry. I have an emerald crab sharing the same tank as two cleaner shrimp and four small fish. Haven't had a problem yet.> Any other ideas that might be helpful?  <Get another emerald> Thanks for any advice you can provide.  <James (Salty Dog)>

Hair algae Hi Crew, I am trying to get a major hair algae attack under control. My question is in regards to some Caulastrea that has some hair algae right around the head. Should I try to brush it off or am I more likely to cause more damage than good?  <I don't think I would try that. Lawnmower (Sailfin) Blennies are great controllers of algae. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks  <You're welcome>

Knocking Out Nuisance Algae! Dear WWM experts, <Yikes! "Expert" is a scary title! How 'bout us "fellow hobbyist who's made plenty of mistakes in his time...?" Scott F. here today!> I have a 46 gal. marine w/ live rock and crushed coral substrate setup for 4 months.  No fish, just hermit crabs, small queen conchs, sea stars, and a feisty Coral Banded Shrimp.  I have a Visijet skimmer (I took the plunge - to be replaced by Remora skimmer next week). <Good skimmer...you'll like it!> I am in the midst of an ongoing, heavy algae bloom with water column visibility (green water) between 6 inches and 1 foot for about 3 weeks. <No fun at all...> I bought a Magnum HOT and ran the micro filter to clear the water overnight but had no luck.  Should the Magnum clear the algae bloom or should I switch it for a vortex diatom filter? <Well, any mechanical filtration that you employ will just be a "band aid"; the real important thing is to get at the source of the algae. You need to find out the cause of the algal bloom. Nuisance algae blooms almost always have their source in excesses of nutrients, coupled with available light. Run some basic water parameter tests (pH, nitrate, phosphate, alkalinity) and I'll wager that you might find something amiss. Think about how nutrients could have accumulated in the system: Are you feeding excessively? Liquid foods are particularly suspect if used heavily. What kind of source water are you using (RO/DI)? Are you conducting regular water changes (small, frequent changes work best, IMO)? Do you regularly employ chemical filtration media (i.e.; activated carbon and/or PolyFilter)? Do you keep a good water motion going at all times? Are you using lots of additives? If so, ask yourself what you are using them for? Your more capable Aqua C skimmer will help yank out excessive nutrients before they have a chance to accumulate and degrade water quality.> Thanks for your insights, Matt <My pleasure, Matt. I hope these ideas give you a starting point in your investigation as to the cause of your algal bloom...The truth is out there! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Hair Algae and Aiptasia Question 3/22/05 I am purchasing an entire Reef setup from someone. It has been up and running for about 4 years. Here are the specs: 75 Gallon - Drilled in two places on back 40 Gallon Sump with a Mag 24 Return Pump Aqua-c EV-180 with a Mag 7 6 x 65 W PC. 2 Actinic, 4 10k 4-5" DSB 125 lbs live rock Livestock -Various Corals - Mostly softies -Too many fish - Vlamingi Tang, Sailfin Tang, Hawkfish, Tomato Clown, Domino Damsel, Three Stripe Damsel, Yellow Tail Damsel -Inverts - Blue Linckia, Tuxedo Urchin, Astrea Snails, Serpent Star, 2 Green Brittle Stars, 2 Coral Banded Shrimp. <Quite a crowd! I don't agree that there are too many fish, but the tangs certainly belong in larger quarters. No less than 300 gallons for a Vlamingi!> I will be moving the tank to my place on Friday. There are a couple of rocks that have some Aiptasia (maybe 10 total in the tank) and some hair algae. When I move the live rock, what do you suggest to eradicate them before putting them back in the tank? I was going to hit the Aiptasia with some Joe's Juice. I was also going to scrub the live rock in tank water prior to putting it back into the tank. Any thoughts?  <Sounds like a good plan. You may also wish to place the rocks that had Aiptasia on them into the sump or otherwise segregate them so that you can keep an eye on them for Aiptasia growing back.> Going forward, I built a new Sump/Refugium out of acrylic and will have some macro algae growing in there. I will also not be putting all of those fish back in there. Way too much livestock. Hopefully this should help eliminate the problem.  <Agreed. Good husbandry and reasonable stocking should solve the problem, but be patient, it could take months!> Also, do you have any suggestions on the best method to transport the fish and coral? I need to dismantle the tank, drive about an hour, put the tank back together (including replumbing for the new sump), put the water back in, and then add the livestock. I am going to transfer as much of the water as possible. Keep in mind that I am in Michigan and it isn't exactly warm up here this time of year. Thanks in advance, Brian  <Ahhh... you got the right guy! I have moved more tanks (mostly my own) than I care to think about. I would suggest getting a few large shipping Styro boxes from a local fish store along with a couple of handfuls of various sized bags (get lots. It is easy to underestimate how many you will need and you can always take the extras back). Each animal should go in it's own bag and into a box. If an animal is too large for a bag, it can go into a bucket. Double bag fish and double or triple bag corals. A trash can lined with a trash bag works well for transporting water and Rubbermaid type toter containers are good for rock. Take lots of towels! Remove the corals first, then rock, then most of the water. This will make it a snap to catch the fish. Just be careful that you don't remove rocks with fish inside or drop rocks onto fish! Plan well starting days in advance. Set up as much of the new equipment as possible and have plenty of spare plumbing parts so you don't have to run to the store. Have a good plan for getting the tank set up to a point where you can get all of the animals in and go to bed and finish the next day if you have to. I have had bad personal experience and have heard other's horror stories associated with moving DSBs. I would discard and replace it. Moving it in the tank might work, but is very dangerous (broken glass) and disrupting it kills much of the life and liberates A LOT of organic matter. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Waging war on hair algae Bob, <Mike G here> I wanted to get your thoughts on introducing a Sea Hare to take care of some painful green hair algae? <Sea Hares are wonderful consumers of hair algae. It may aid you in physically removing algae, but will certainly not solve your problem single-handedly. They are messy eats, and minute particles of Hair Algae WILL get released every time they take a bite. Also, their feces will contain partially digested hair algae, and possibly hair algae spores. A sea hare would be a wonderful warrior in your battle against hair algae, but you need to also eliminate the problem that is causing the algae in the first place.> I've had the aquarium up 8 years and have never had a battle like this with hair algae - I feel I'm starting to lose the battle. <That's a very common feeling when one is pitted against hair algae. I had problems with it when I first started my tank (15g). It was completely eradicated by doing 2 gallon (10%) water changes every other days and by adding a refugium of 25% of my water volume (5g) to my system.> It's been going on 8 weeks now. I've seen 2 Sea Hare species for sale: Aplysia punctata & Dolabella auricularia. Fosters & Smith rates Aplysia punctata as extremely delicate/expert with serious negative affects from possible ink secretions. Aplysia punctata isn't found on WWM. <I recently purchased a Sea Hare to control my Caulerpa problem. The only species available was Dolabella auricularia. I can assure you that he does a godly job on Cyanobacteria, Bryopsis, bubble, and pretty much any microalgae he comes across. I think that if he were to come across hair algae, he would eat it with gusto. Of course, he does not eat Caulerpa. It figures.> Dolabella auricularia is mentioned twice on WWM and a seller of it praises its traits without a mention of any issues with the species. I know it also secretes ink as well, but what about hardiness? Would you pick one over the other & how toxic is the ink? <Mine has "inked" in my tank twice now...either time with absolutely no negative effects. Granted, I do run a skimmer that is quite large for my tank (CPR BakPak), and I did a 10% water change as soon as it inked. Upon researching hares, I have found that Aplysia produce a considerably more toxic ink than Dolabella. I think a Dolabella would be the way to go if you decide on getting a Hare. As a side note, the hare toxins can be easily removed with carbon and a water change.> For back ground, I've been following all the algae reduction husbandry: All water changes & evaporate top-off done with buffered/aerated RO water from Kent Maxxima Hi Silicate (changed out all membranes 4 months ago), 30% water changes every 2 weeks (every one now), thaw, rinse & strain food prior to feeding, careful not to overfeed, 1800+gph turn over, over-powered skimmer (AquaC EV120), 45gal refugium w/ DSB & Chaeto, 520w PC lights that were recently changed, phosphates reading zero, but running PhosGuard as precaution. The green hair algae is still kicking my tail. I think I've narrowed down the original cause to a partially blocked line on my skimmer, which started the outbreak 12wks ago and then was fueled by a continuing die off of all my turbo snails (past email). About 6 weeks ago, 20 Turbos went through QT for a month - lost about 3 in QT. At the time, I thought it was just a natural/unlucky die off. Since they've been introduced into the main tank I've lost about 18. Originally, only the new ones seemed to go. My old ones are covered in coralline algae, so they were easy to tell apart. Now the old ones are going too, seems like one every 4-5 days and that's just the ones I can see. My 30+ Cerith & 40+ blue legs seem completely unaffected. My two "indicators" - RBTA and Hippo tang couldn't be better. I brought the Turbos in to help combat algae problem - now I think they're fueling it. I'm to the point now of thinking about taking all the Turbos out & putting them into QT. Any thoughts? <Certainly. If I were you, I would remove all of the turbo snails, as they do not seem to be doing anything more than providing nutrients for an algal bloom. It sounds as if your refugium is completely adequate, so you can't really expand on that. What really ended my hair algae infestation were 10% water changes every other day. This may be extremely difficult for you considering your tank and refugium sizes. However, It may very well be worth a try. You may also want to look into a high quality phosphate reducer. Lately, more and more people have been reporting success with PhosBan. It really all depends on what you think would work best in your situation.> I've been scrubbing the LR manually with a toothbrush & then immediately doing a water change to try and remove as much of it as possible. Last week I thought I delivered the final blow by spending 4 hours and manually scrubbing every single piece of my 180lbs of LR, one at a time, always submerged, in a bucket of saltwater from the tank. I used 3 separate buckets of saltwater to keep the algae export as high as possible. I certainly staggered it, but it looks to be getting back up. With the toothbrush method, do you think I'm doing more harm than good by spreading it around? My thought was that dislodging it and removing some though the filter & water change would be more effective than just letting it grow unabated. Any other advice? <I think that you are only spreading it more when you scrub it off the rocks. You are releasing minute particles into the water, which can easily find new places to lodge and form new "colonies" of algae.> Since I've been way too involved in algae recently, I wanted pass on a personal observation that the most productive hair algae remover in my tank is my Foxface Lo (Siganus vulpinus). After watching my tank for hours, he is certainly outperforming my robust lawnmower blenny and seems to be getting the better of my spineless clean-up crew. I've seen him wipe out 3 long sprigs of hair algae in a 90 second window. I just haven't seen him get much press for that on WWM or anywhere else and besides, he's a gorgeous fish and I haven't seen a single negative trait from him (having slightly venomous spines probably doesn't help him, but I'd find it hard to see how I'd get stuck by him). Just wanted to sing the Rabbitfish praises a little. <Rabbitfishes are well-known and wonderful herbivores. Glad to hear yours is working out for you.> BTW - wanted to get your thoughts on a sump/refugium I've designed and am thinking about having built. Especially concerning transition methods from one chamber to the next. I've attached the layout. As a note, the PVC return pipes in the refugium will be covered by a 6" DSB & the 2" ball valve into the refugium is designed to support complete gph control through the refugium. The overall design goal was to maximize the efficiency within the footprint & have an uncluttered/clean appearance. All my aquarium equipment is in the mechanical room below my office, so space isn't an issue. My current sump/refugiums were born from a series of upgrade bolt-ons over the years. Restricted water flow through the refugiums, wasted water volume due to in-line plumbing spacing & general clutter were the reason for the potential new sump. <I see no problem with your design for your sump/refugium.> So sorry for the length of the note - I just realized how long it is. Obviously, I'm excited about the hobby and can't express the gratitude in having the joint knowledge of WWM available to me and other enthusiasts. Get to me when you can & feel free to break the note up if it makes for easier reading. <The length of your email is not a problem. I can only hope that I have provided answers to all of your questions. Mike G.> 

Marine hair algae Hi there, <Actually it's not There anymore, it's M. Maddox now. I had my name legally changed, it got too confusing> I emailed you a while back asking for some helpful advice with dealing with my hair algae problem, unfortunately it still persists and I'm wondering if you have any other good ideas? <I can try> Here's a recap: 1200 or so litre system comprising of a 6ft tank, 4ft sump, the sump is now split 50:50 refugium and bio ball filtration as per your suggestion, the refugium has some macro algae (Caulerpa) and also 3 mangroves, oh and a Picasso trigger lives there too. <Slowly take out all of the bioballs if you have enough LR to support the biological filtration (~ 1kg/15 liters)>  The sump also has a oxygenation chamber, i.e. water comes in and gets oxygenated to saturation. 2 x 250w halide lamps, 15k, recently replaced, Lighting is now decreased to 9am-->2pm (5 hours per day). <Not that great for corals, and light isn't the cause - bring it up to at least 8> Always use RO for water changes and red sea salt. Did a recent 50% water change (1 month ago) normally aim for 10-15% per month. <Larger water changes will ALWAYS help...> All values that I can measure seem good, nitrate and nitrite almost 0, ammonia 0. pH drops to maybe 7.9 at night and can rise to 8.4 during the day, I know there is a bit of fluctuation there. <Because of your 'oxygenation chamber' and dual skimmers, I would think you have very high concentrations of CO2 in the house...try cracking a window in the aquarium room> Temp 25.5 daytime 25.0 night. All controlled by an IKS pro I've been trying Algone as well as other generic phosphate absorbers, including Kent Phosphate Sponge and RowaPhos. I always run carbon and replace frequently. <Ditch the Algone, carbon + phosphate remover is recommended> Inhabitant wise I have: 4 yellow tang 4 various clowns Mandarin Red Sea cleaner wrasse Lots of hermits and snails 2 cleaner shrimp 1 large cowry 1 peppermint shrimp About 10 green Chromis (1inch long max) A few soft corals like medusa, pulse corals, etc., and they have spread well Various mushrooms, all of which thrive I run a pair of skimmers (one Deltec and one AquaMedic) which are over sized and do well in skimming lots of good brown scum. <good> I still have LOADS of hair algae and I'm really down hearted by it all, someone advised a calcium reactor as the side effect of the CO2 might help, another person advised a Kalk stirrer, it's all money and I don't mind spending the money but I don't want to shell out money and get no results, do you have any suggestions please? I'm desperate!!  <I would suggest picking up your pH anyway you can, to around 8.5-6 stable 24 hours a day. Getting more air movement into the room that the aquarium is housed will likely help, outside air would be even better. A calcium reactor is not going to help keep your pH elevated, in fact, it will make it harder to do so. A Kalk reactor hooked up to a dosing pump on a timer to dose at night will help a lot, as would increasing the photoperiod. Contrary to popular belief, lighting is NOT the limiting factor in algal growth! Might I recommend purchasing a 'Sea hare' (a Nudibranch that eats hair algae, can be found through most online vendors) and\or some 'pencil' or 'pincushion' sea urchins, as well as a bit less feeding, and larger\more frequent water changes. If you do only one thing, get that pH up and keep it up - likely this will cause it all to disappear in a few weeks. I had the same problem, and I fixed it with large frequent water changes and a high pH> Thanks <You're welcome, good luck!> Adam <M. Maddox>

Green algae bloom Hi, I have a 200 gallon reef aquarium that is not overstocked and very well balanced. All readings are 0 with Nitrates always 10ppm or less. For some reason lately, I am getting a severe algae bloom on my glass. It's a light green, not like hair algae. It almost looks like diatoms but not the brown color. I will scrape the glass completely clean and then the next day it's back. As far as chemicals go, I only add a small amount of trace elements every 2 weeks. I do have a calcium reactor on the tank and a great protein skimmer. The temperature is very stable at 79 degrees using a chiller and 2 heaters. It has 2-4 inches of live sand and live rock. I have 3 250mh lights on timers for ten hours a day, not counting the actinics 12 hours a day. Can you tell me what this is and how do I get rid of it?  <Joe, I'm posting a link here that should help you out. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm. James (Salty Dog)> 

Hair Algae Hi,  <Good day> I have a 120 gallon tank (100+pounds live rock, 200 gallon rated skimmer, multiple powerheads, 40 gallon refugium (mangroves, 3 or four different types of algae with the lighting running on opposite cycles from the main tank) which had been setup for 3 years until approx. 3 weeks ago when I moved. Up to that point the tank was balanced perfectly. My corals were thriving and my fish seemed as happy as you could be confined to 120 gallons. Anyway, I now have an issue with Hair Algae which prior to the move I didn't have. I have narrowed it down to the difference in the water that I have been using after the move to top off the tank. I will correct that problem by hooking my RO unit back up and performing some frequent water changes. My question is what type of fish will eat "Hair Algae" I have read that certain forms of hair algae are toxic to fish? Will a Sailfin Tang do the trick?  <Depends on the type of hair algae. I would try a Sailfin Blenny (Lawnmower Blenny) first.>  Will the Sailfin attack my cleaner shrimp?  <No>  Other fish ideas are welcomed since I don't want to have to grow my tank to 500 gallons to support the growth of the Sailfin. I really don't want to cut the lights on the tank because my corals will take a beating.  <I have posted a link on algae control which will help you. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)> 
Hair Algae Follow- up
 Follow up - I already have a very fat and happy algae blenny. I will acquire another house mate for him ( should I be concerned about them fighting?).  <No>  After reading through your site it seems that my "Hair Algae" is without a doubt Turtle Weed / Maiden's Hair Plant (Chlorodesmis sp.). Does this change your opinion on what would help with containing this? <Actually mail order shops sell this macro type algae as a means of controlling hair algae by getting the lion's share of the nutrients. I don't believe Sailfins will eat it, but not positive. If it is unappealing to you, just try to keep your nitrates/phosphates/excess food down to a minimum. There are some good FAQ's on the Wet Web in dealing with this. James (Salty Dog)> Other items in tank 75 hermit crabs 50 snails 2 cleaner shrimp 1 yellow tang 1 six line wrasse 1 bi color angel 1 red stripe angel 2 clowns 6 cardinals - (3 Kaudern's , 3 spotted) 1 sleeper banded goby 2 Barred Dartfish 2 sea cucumbers 6 peppermint shrimp in refugium Thanks again.  <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> 

Green Hair Algae Hi <Hello there> Would appreciate some pointers to the next steps in getting rid of green hair algae that has been present in my 100 galls reef tank for around three months, tank has been set up around 9 months and I am gradually introducing inverts, I am a novice to inverts and there care. I am performing a 15% water change every 2 weeks using RO water. Have a protein skimmer and UV sterilizer on 7*24. Have phosphate remover (Rowaphos) in an external canister filter, replaced every 6 weeks. Metal Halides are on 10 hours per day. I have a 20 gall sump with bio balls, I have not introduced any other algae such as Caulerpa as I am not sufficiently sure of what to do in this regard.  Water parameters seem good, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate all 0. KH around 8, I have only recently started to pay attention to calcium, it was about 300 three weeks ago but I am now ensuring it remains around 400. Phosphate was tested today and is zero. I feed my 9 fish twice a day, once with Mysis and then with "marine cuisine". I add phytoplankton to the water once a week. In addition, I feed a sun coral twice a week Mysis and a little phytoplankton. I have a clean up crew of 2 cleaner shrimp, 3 red legged hermit crabs, half a dozen snails and today I added a pincushion urchin. Today I set up an additional power head aimed directly at a particularly troublesome clump of algae in the hope that it dislikes the water movement. <It does> Not sure where to go next, I have read that removing bio balls from the sump could be a valid action although do not understand the science behind that. Perhaps adding Caulerpa is the next step or maybe a ton of snails and a couple of emerald crabs. Would appreciate some advice on my next steps please. <Mmm, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm scroll down to Algae, Control... and make a big pot of coffee/tea... and Read On! Bob Fenner> 
Re: Green Hair Algae
Bob Thank you for your reply although with all due respect a pointer to a web page with data relating to all conceivable aspects of marine aquaria is not too helpful. <Mmm, seemed the best way to refer you to the mix of possible inputs... chemical filtration, use of macrophyte competitors, biological controls...> I think my original email suggests that I am not completely clueless and have made some efforts to research the subject of green algae problems, I have implemented several initiatives gleaned from the web pages you identify but some assurance that I am on the right track would have been helpful. <Does seem like you are... sorry for the apparent terseness... To summarize, you DO seem to be "hitting on all cylinders"... with water changes, good skimming, use of Caulerpa... I would toss the bio-balls, give measures for soluble phosphate, any other measure for the "usual suspects" of chemical nutrients that are in your system and source water... the excess nitrogenous matter is likely being rapidly taken up by the Chlorophyte. There is still a myriad number of "things" that could be at play here.... Such that I encouraged and still encourage you to read through the general articles on "Algae", "Green Algae"... control... in the hopes that "something" will click. Hoping to be better understood, Bob Fenner> 

Help with Green Water Dear WWM Crew:  <Hi John, MacL here with you tonight. Let me apologize I've been having migraine problems sorry for the delay in response.> I have a 150 gal and 30 gal wet/dry with bio balls and an AMiracle protein skimmer with a very large cup on it. I get about 1/4 cup of skimmate every week. setup with the following: 1 Moorish Idol 1 Yellow Tang 1 Hippo Tang 1 Flame Hawk 1 Pygmy Angel 1 Diamond Watchman Goby 1 Six Line Wrasse 1 Firefish Goby 1 Sailfin Algae Blenny 1 Condy Anemone Several large leather corals and a large colony of green Star Polyps Several small blue legged hermit crabs and snails SG - 1.021 pH - 7.9 Amm - 0 Nitrates- 0 Nitrites- 60 - 80 I perform a 20% water change every 2 weeks. This tank is about 8 years old, however, I have only owned it since June of 2004.  <Sounds lovely!> My question is twofold. First, I seem to have green water. The substrate looks green when looking through the top of the tank to the bottom.  <Not necessarily green water but definitely an algae bloom.>  I feed Formula 2 twice a day. I am curious if a canister filter would remove the green color from the water.  <A canister filter or any other type of mechanical filtration filled with Carbon or with a PolyFilter will take it out.>  All the livestock seems to be doing well.  <That's the most important thing.> Second, I need to know how to raise my pH and lower my nitrates. I would like to get them down around 10-20 at the most.  <Way to high obviously. My first thought is to cut way back on your feeding. The carbon will help temporarily if you do get the canister.>  Is this possible with a canister filter?  <Many people feel that the nitrates are brought about by the bioballs, especially if the tank is as old as your is. They feel that the bioballs get a rise in nitrates from a detritus build up. The solution is to remove the bioballs but that can effect the stability of your tank. Especially if that is the major filtration. You don't mention if you have live rock in the tank and powerheads for circulation but the one thing I might mention is to be sure you have lots of surface movement for oxygen exchange.> Second, I am curious about the amount of skimmate I am getting for such a large tank and skimmer. The skimmate is dark green in color, but I do not get much of it.  <You might need to clean out your protein skimmer with vinegar. Hope this helps. MacL> Thanks for your help. John Banks - Idaho, USA
Green water addendum 16 Feb 2005
I did forget to mention that I have about 160lbs of live rock. The lighting is 2 96W compact fluorescent 10000K and 2 420NM Actinic lights. The Actinic lamps stay on 14 hours a day and the 10000K lamps are on 12. Also, I have 3 Hagen 802 powerheads. Currently, the bio balls are the only filtration in the sump. Can I get away with feeding once a day or should I still feed twice, but feed less.  <I would try to cut down and if that doesn't work then go to once a day.>  Also, my hippo tang gets small white spots on its body that seem to come and go. The show up and a day or two later, they are gone. What could they be?  <On a hippo its probably ich but he's obviously handling it. You might include a cleaner shrimp for some assistance. Oh and you have live rock so you have filtration other than the bioballs. So if all else fails you might contact the crew and get some instructions on getting rid of the bioballs. Good luck, MacL>

Thin film of green algae on tank glass My tank is a 55gal I'm running it with Emperor 400 filter, H.O.T Magnum canister, 2 Penguin 550 power heads, AquaC Remora skimmer. I have about 60 pounds of live rock, 126 pounds of live sand. Lights are 260 watt Coralife Lunar Aqualight, 2 10,000k , 2 actinic blue and 4 lunar LED. The setup has been running for 8 months. I have 2 percula clowns, coral beauty, neon goby, 1 four stripped damsel and tri color blenny. invertebrates are cleaner and coral banded shrimp, 20 blue legged hermits, 15-20 Astrea snails 9 bumble bee snails, purple tip anemone. Corals are 1 mushroom rock, 1 colt coral, 1 button polyp rock. I have been having a problem with green algae- like film forming on the glass inside aquarium. I wipe it off and comes right back in a few hours. I use Instant Ocean reef crystal for salt mix. Do you think the extra trace elements are too much for tank? <Maybe... but am given to make the statement... is the algae that "bad?" aesthetically? Not a functional problem> Lights are on nine hours. I do 10% water changes every week with R.O. water. With the filtration mentioned above do you think it would be possible for me to take out the emperor 400 and rely on sand bed , live rock, skimmer and canister for filtration sand bed is 4-5 inches deep. I would still use the power heads for circulation would you think there would be enough flow. how about a U.V. sterilizer, would that help the green stuff? <Not much> Protein skimmer has only been in four days just started collecting today I also added 40 pounds of live sand today too because I was reading up on your input about DSB. <Oh! The skimmer will GREATLY help... takes time... a few weeks... a DSB might be of value here as well> I was using SeaClone skimmer before and always had to adjust air flow not a good skimmer. I've been having the green problem for about 3 weeks now. I've always had too wipe the inside of glass once a week but not this bad. Water parameters check out okay 0 ammonia 0 nitrites < than 10ppm nitrates ph 8.0 a little low and I added some SeaChem reef buffer. Your help would be appreciated very much. Big Fan of WetWebMedia!! Andy <Good info. Andy... there are, as you seem well-aware, a few fronts to counter such algae outbreaks... am sure you have read over our large, accumulated input on the topic: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm Bob Fenner>

Algae Issue - Can't Solve Hi Guys, <Hello, Nic!> great page, really bad for late night reading :) <Thanks for the compliment! :)> My problem: I have an annoying case of hair algae in my 140 G Zoanthid system.  The algae is not bad, but always too much. <Hair algae is quite a pain to deal with.> My tanks are 4x 6" deep, 18" wide, 72" long. 4x T5 bulbs per 48" of tank (2x Blue (not actinic), 2x 6,000K) are suspended 13" above the surface (when I have them lower zoos don't open fully). The bulbs are brand new. My phosphates are 0, nitrates 0.2, PH is 8.2-8.3, KH 14, Silicates are not detectable. There is a 36x18" sump housing Brillopad and Razor Macro Algae. 4" Sand Bed, well aerated by the razor's roots. <How old is this sandbed? The sandbed may be the cause of the issue, which I will follow up in detail later on.> I do 10% water change weekly with RO/DI water and Tropic Marin. Skimming is done 24/7 with a Remora Pro (pulls out very little gunk. I don't feed) I run an Eheim wet/dry canister filter with substrate, PhosBan, and Seachem Matrix Carbon. Additives are Seachem Reef Plus, Iodide, Magnesium, and Marine Buffer. I've had this problem forever now, I need some help. With Phosphates, Nitrates, and Silicates 0, organic phosphates ebbing skimmed and the bulbs not being old, I am out of ideas. Last thing I could blame would be the Eheim Canister filter or the additives. <Hair algae is definitely a sign of too many nutrients in your aquarium. Phosphate is likely to blame. Keep in mind that you can only detect phosphate which is in the water column, not phosphate which is bound up within the algae. Meaning, that your phosphate could be entering the tank and being quickly consumed by all of your inhabitants. This is why you can still test undetectable for phosphate, yet have a large hair algae problem. I would recommend to first find the source of the problem. The sandbed first comes to mind. How old is the sandbed? The sandbed can be a huge source for accumulated wastes. Detritus, food, wastes, and everything else you could imagine will often settle within the sandbed. The sandbed only has so much space to fill before it reaches its limit and starts to release it all back into the tank. It would be a good idea to get 10ml of water within the first inch of the sandbed (using a syringe) and test that for phosphate. If not the DSB, I would next look at your additives. Check your carbon for phosphate. Simply put some carbon in the same glass as your tank water for 24 hours. Then, test that water for phosphate. There could be many sources, and pinpointing one or even multiple causes may be difficult to do. One thing that I would not hesitate to do is purchase yourself some Rowaphos or Phosban along with a Phosban 150 reactor (these often work best, and are fairly cheap - often under $50.00). I would run this media to absorb any phosphate that may be present in the water column and any phosphate which may be being added. I would also try to pull out as much algae as possible from your tank. I've also found that Turbo Snails do a great job in cleaning up hair algae. A few dozen should make a good dent in the hair algae population.> Maybe too little critters? (I have about 50 Cerith, 20 Astrea, 20 hermits, and 75 Nassarius on 36 square foot of tank.) Would tangs survive these shallow but low tanks? <I would first attempt with the ideas I suggested above. I suspect a small Kole tang would be fine in such a shallow tank, although it will be cramped as it gets larger.> Thx for all the held I hope to get. <No problem. Take Care! Graham.> Nic

Persistent hair algae Hello, <Hi John H., MacL here with you today.> I've been fighting a hair algae problem for the past several months.  I believe a hurricane-induced 3-day power outage contributed to the initial bloom. <Understandable.> My water parameters seem perfect, but I suppose this could be because the algae is uptaking the nutrients.  Parameters are: ph=8.3, NH4=0, NO2=0, NO3=0, Ca=450, PO4<0.1, Salinity=1.023.  Tank is 75 gal. and now has about 75 lbs of Fiji and Marshall Island live rock, an Eheim 2217 canister filter (cleaned on a regular basis), CPR BakPak2 skimmer (ditto), 2 MJ powerheads, and 1-2" aragonite sand bed.  Lighting is 260W PC, 10K and 03 actinic with 12-hour photoperiod. <How old are your bulbs?>  Current occupants are only a Halichoeres chrysus wrasse, neon goby, and about 2 dozen snails and crabs.  I feed frozen Mysis and enriched brine, always rinsed in fresh water first.  I feed every-other day, and I "target feed", so that each fish gets a few shrimp and little goes to waste.  Doing this, one cube of food lasts about a week (is that too much for only 2 small fish?). <Seems a little heavy but sounds like you are doing it the right way.>  I do 5-10% water changes every week, using RO/DI water.  Each week I manually remove as much of the algae as possible, sometimes scrubbing the live rock in a bucket of salt water. Within the past month, I've removed 30 lbs. of base lace rock (covered in hair algae) and replaced it with cured Marshall Island rock.  But the problems persists...algae quickly grows back on the rock, glass, and even on the shells of hermits and snails. <Man do I understand that I've been fighting the same battle but I just won the dang thing. One thing I would suggest doing is checking your phosphate and nitrate levels and getting them both to zero. And I have to admit I only won my battle when I added a Foxface fish.> So with that background I have a few questions: is 1 cube of food per week too much?  could nutrients be hidden in the sand bed? <It could be leaching nutrients for sure> (I think I've eliminated all other possibilities (?))  should I upgrade my skimmer? <Upgrades are always good maybe cleaning it out with vinegar first?> currently it gets about 1 cup of skimmate per week.  Sometimes it gets nothing for days and then suddenly starts producing again, but maybe that is normal with a light bioload. <It could be or could be that something is causing it to react at that time, like a food addition or something stirred up.> Do I need a refugium/sump? <They help with nitrates and phosphate export.> I currently have some Caulerpa and Halimeda on the live rock, but the algae grows right over it. Should I add more algae grazers -- more snails, or maybe a yellow tang or lawnmower blenny? <I'd add a Foxface, honestly one saved my tank.> Should I reduce my photoperiod or even go with no lights for an extended time? <You can do that but it will hurt your live rock to some degree. You might consider cutting back on your photoperiod. Also do you get any direct sunlight?> or should I just keep doing what I'm doing and hope my patience outlasts the hair algae?!  Sorry for such a long email, and thanks for your help and very informative site. <Emails are great John, don't worry about that. Hope I've given you some ways to go. MacL> John H.

Hair Algae I have a 200gal reef tank that has been over run with hair algae. I have read all your site offers and I am just wanting to confirm with you if my actions I am going to take are the right ones.  I really only have mushrooms and a few cauliflower corals so what I am going to do is place these very few inhabitants in my refugium to give them there light and I am going to shut the lights of let the algae die, change my media VERY often, let my detritus eaters do their job and do active water changes siphoning as much of the dead algae out as possible while at the same time replenishing my refugium, which also was devastated, with the beneficial macro's it needs.  I am going to place some lettuce slugs, improper name I know, in the refugium to ward off the little hair algae that will follow on the corals rocks.  Is this a good plan of action? <Sounds fine thus far... do you have data on system and source water nutrient levels, particularly soluble phosphate? You might want to look into some larger filamentous algae eaters... blennies, tangs... Bob Fenner> John M. Thank you

Hair algae problems HI, I read a few articles on the site about other with hair algae problems however, having already followed all the advice there, plus spoke to my local water life chemist and 3 separate shops, I'm desperate I have tried Changing lights and timings Close nearby curtains to stop natural light Turned off nearby radiator to stop excessive heat Added 4 yellow tangs Added 1 sea hare Added powerheads for improved circulation with canister filters with a phosphate remove in Implemented a second skimmer and ozone Cut feeding down and moved to feeding ever 2-4 days Water tests always show 0 nitrate, 0 phosphate, 0 nitrite etc.  My LFS described my water sample as "bloody perfect mate". Yet the hair algae keeps growing, I appreciate there must be phosphates for it to grow but how can I kill it off? << Well I would first have suggested lots of snails and hermit crabs.  Like two of each per gallon.  If you've tried that... well then I'm not sure. >> The tank is 1600 litres 100kg+ of live rock Has 2 x 250w 14k MH Controlled by Iks Aqua star, 2 Iks 3500 current pumps, 2 x Eheim 1050 internal, 2 x 1260 externals from sump (return pump) 1 x TurboFlotor 1000 skimmer 1 x Deltec afp600 skimmer Certizon 100 ozonizers I use RO water for changed and the TDS meter says the RO is fine. I use RED SEA salt mix for making up water. << Well there must be some source of nutrients. >> Inhabitants are 4 x yellow tang 1 x torpedo fish 3 x Maldives clown 1 x red clown 2 x Atlantic anemone 1 x bubble anemone 1 x Malu anemone 1 x red sea cleaner wrasse 2 x cleaner shrimp 1 x peppermint shrimp 1 x sea hare 5 x green Chromis (small) Loads of red legs Loads of snails (Turbos) << This is great to see.  I recommend maybe setting up a refugium.  You need to start growing macro algae to compete for the nutrients, and to produce inverts to eat that hair algae. >> Please can you help? Thanks << Try the refugium, and growing as many pods as you can. >> Adam <<  Blundell  >>

Algae Problem Dear Bob, We have a Caulerpa prolifera problem, too much!!!!!! We have a small 75 liter Sea Horse tank with live rock and some coral. Are there any natural ways of dealing with this problem like tangs, crabs etc? We are concerned that the tank is too small for tangs. Are there any smaller species? Hope you can help...... Regards, Rod & Andrea Connock >>>Hello Rod, Your tank is indeed too small for any tangs, even the smaller Zebrasoma species such as the yellow tang. I assume, from the fact that you have it in your display, that you like the looks of it so long as there isn't too much of it. Going on this assumption, the only solution in your case is to manually harvest it. Letting it grow too much will also cause it to go sexual and crash, causing a massive influx of organics in the system. If you want to be rid of it, you can pull it all off manually, and keep with it every time you see it pop up. Introduce more grazers, crabs, urchins, etc and eventually you should be rid of it. Keep in mind too, algae needs light and nitrogen (or phosphates) to grow. It's growing because you are providing it with so much food. Lose the Caulerpa , and you may see other problem algae take it's place. Keep nutrient export in mind at all times. Right now, it's your Caulerpa to a large degree. Easing up on the feedings will help as well.   Cheers Jim<<<

Bubble algae v Coralline Hi all, I have noticed that some of my bubble algae (I kind of just let it ride, doesn't seem to hurt anything) has coralline growing on it. Will the coralline eventually kill the bubble algae? If so the seems like a pretty easy way to control it. Anyone that has had this battle happen please let me know who wins. <Hmm, interesting question.  I don't think either really 'wins'.  The coralline doesn't seem to hurt the bubble algae, and vice versa.  The bubble can usually still get large and reproduce even with coralline on it.  I have had tanks with this type of situation and, left unchecked, the bubble algae will spread rampantly.> Thanks, -Ryan  

Green Hair Algae, New Rock Added Greetings Crew. <Hi! Ryan with you today> Once again thank you for all of your past help and guidance. It has proved invaluable. <Good to hear> I have read some of the info that you have provided on hair algae and I do have a few questions of my own. My SW tank (55 gal.) has been running for about 8 months. At 6 months I added an extra 20 lbs. of LR (for a total of 60 lbs.). During the original cycling process I experienced the usual growth of reddish brown then green algae. Hair algae has existed for many months but had seemed to balance and even started to slow down in growth until I added the extra LR. Is this just co-incidence or does this bloom of hair algae make sense. <When you added the live rock, some life died, as to be expected.  The die off created dissolved nutrients-Fueling algae growth.  I'd recommend a better skimmer for this problem> I don't want to panic as if the algae growth just needs to take it's course I can maintain that. <In time, the nutrients will work their way out...As long as you're not overfeeding.> Not only does my new LR have the new algae but it has thickened on the more established LR too. <I'd use a fresh toothbrush on it, taking out each rock one at a time.>I use distilled water when making up my salt water and do a 5% water change weekly. My nitrates and phosphates are always 0. The only fish that I am feeding are  two Perculas so it is easy to monitor their eating so that I don't over feed. I am constantly pulling the hair algae off the rocks especially around my polyps but it seems futile and I hate scaring the invertebrates and fish as it can get fairly disruptive to them as I scour the tank pulling off the algae. I will be adding a few more fish to this tank and wonder if a lawnmower blenny would help keep things at bay or is there a better natural maintainer for this nuisance algae ? <Just you.  Increase skimming, circulation.  Algae blenny will help a bit.  Good luck! Ryan> Any suggestions would help thank-you.  Dean

-Narrowing down the source of hair algae- Hi crew <Hello, Kevin here> After trying all methods trying to rid of hair algae, I have finally come to the conclusion or guessing that it is either coming from nitrates, phosphate, or silicates. <Add dissolved organics to that, and subtract silicate.> I have hair algae growing on all of  my live rock and is covering all of my coralline. My nitrate and  phosphate test zero but I know it can be the algae consuming it before you get a reading. <Indeed! This stuff will literally store phosphate inside its cells until its regular supply from surrounding waters dries up (no pun intended). That said, it's very possible to have zero DETECTABLE phosphate, and still have a trace of it in the water column that has been liberated from the algae by grazers.> My silicate is 1 ppm after changing to a Kent hi-s RO/DI. My previous RO had silicates off the charts but I finally got it down. Does silicate bound to the rock like phosphate does? <Not sure but silica will not promote hair algae growth, some people believe that it spurs the growth of diatoms (since they make their 'shell' out of it) but that's debatable.> I thinking of trying AZ-NO3 if it is my nitrates therefore starving the algae or getting a PhosBan reactor if it the phosphates. <I had a nifty design for a resin filter all drawn up, and then TLF came out w/ the PhosBan reactor, which was almost the same thing! I'd suggest this little filter for use with regular carbon and phosphate removing resin filtration.> Will PhosBan or Rowaphos release the phosphate that is bound to live rock. <Nope, not until it's liberated by something else.> How can I test where it is coming from. <If you have no detectable phosphate or nitrate and if you are purifying your input water adequately (like it sounds) and limiting food input to the system, a final scrub down should take care of everything. Individually scrubbing down each rock outside the aquarium, combined with a large water change and vigorous use of phosphate removing resin will no doubt take care of this problem once and for all. I'd toss in a few good grazers afterwards to pick up any stragglers. -Kevin> anything would be appreciated. Thanks, Alex

Hair Algae Follow-up MacL or Adam... <Hi Narayan, MacL here with you again.> I don't know if you guys remember, but to summarize, I have a 72 gallon tank that I re-setup with a deeper sandbed and a lot more live rock. I got a 4" Kole tang per Adam's suggestions since I had no herbivores. <Very nice choice> First I had a problem with the tang not accepting food for 4 whole days. As predicted by MacL, he came around. He still won't accept any food I feed the other fish or from me, but he is grazing a lot. His stomach is always full and he is always pooping green stuff.  <Definitely a tang !!!> As always with every bit of good news some bad news seems to tag along. When he scrapes off the hair algae off the live rock, he also scrapes off the purple coralline!!! <The coralline will come back I promise, its been weakened by the hair algae, as soon is the hair algae goes away the coralline will take hold on a much stronger basis.> The other problem is he can't keep up with the hair algae on the rocks. He is not interested in grazing on the glass either. I need more herbivores and so I got 2 turbo snails. They haven't done much to date. <Turbos are funny, they sit for a while then they eat like crazy.> What are my options? I can't add a second tang or rabbit fish in a 72G. <Well I have ten Turbos and would like to have more in my 120.> Blennies dig! <A lawnmower might be an option.> At the rate at which the Kole is eating and the algae grows, I need at least two of him for the rocks alone. <I really think you are going to have to cut or pull a lot of the algae off by hand and just let him keep up with it after you pull.>  And another two or three for the glass. <My Turbos really like the glass> At the rate at which the Turbos eat, I need 30 to 50 of them for the glass alone -again they are more interested in grazing on the live rock than the glass. <you might consider some urchins as well>  Looks like I'm going to have to be the second herbivore! What are my options? I love the Kole and will not get rid of him to get a rabbit fish! He is so much more mellow than the powder brown and yellow tangs I used to have though not as pretty. <Try what I'm suggesting with the live rock, if it doesn't work then you can always add another herbivore but I think you'll find if you eliminate some of what's there the Kole and Turbos can handle it. MacL> Narayan

Hair Algae Control 26 Aug 2004 Dear Crew <Hi Rich, MacL here with you this day>: Thanks you for your help in the past on many subjects, and thank you for helping me again in the current.  I have tried most all methods for hair algae control, but it is proving very difficult (if it were gold, I'd be rich!). <Lots of people have that problem so don't feel alone.>  I have come to realize that I have not yet tried an actual grazer, besides hermits & snails.  So, I purchased a Jeweled Blenny (a.k.a. "Lawnmower") the other day to assist me (yes, in quarantine).  I went back to your website to compare what I have to the pictures you generously provide.  So, now I am not sure whether I have a Salarias fasciatus (my intention) or a S. ceramensis, the Seram Blenny.  My first question is, are there any distinguishing markings between these species, so that I can know for sure? <For a detailed description check out www.fish-base.org> Secondly, are they both exceptional hair algae eaters? <In my experience yes.> Since this is my real goal, I can deal with S. ceramensis just fine, even with the estimated extra inch. <You might need to chop some of the hair algae off so they can eat it.> Thanks again - "all hail the Crew"!  Rich

What tang will eat Bryopsis? Will any tangs of the genus Zebrasoma eat Bryopsis? << Doubtful.  But possible. >> My tank now looks like a rain forest, where you literally cannot see through the tank ( I was on vacation for a few days). << That is how I like my tank to look.... but the wife sees otherwise. >> I don't want to boil the rock I paid $700 for, and I've wanted a tang anyways. << Don't boil it!  That is bad.  I would rather see you add a bunch of hermits/snails and manually remove the algae.  Or, just learn to love it and live with it. >> I'm looking at either a Z. xanthurum or Z. desjardinii preferably. Any thoughts? << Between the two, I would think the Z. desjardinii would be a better choice, but still not likely.  You could try a rabbit fish, or a Combtooth tang like a Chevron. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Bryopsis control 20 Aug 2004 I'm having a major problem with Bryopsis. <Sorry to hear that Brandon.> I was able to keep it somewhat under control, but I had to go on a sudden business trip for 2 weeks. I get home, and my tank looks like the top of a rain forest canopy. <YOUCH> I pulled out what I could, but it is even on the sand. <Turkey baster works wonders for that.>  It is so thick on the glass that my Magnavore can only make one pass and it is jammed with algae. <Major problem there.> I have put 3 crispata Nudi's in the tank, along with several snails and hermits, but they aren't making a dent. The only advice I've gotten is to boil the $600 worth of live rock to kill the Bryopsis. <Well I can tell you that I've been known to pull all of it out, put it in buckets, scrub the Bryopsis off.> That doesn't seem rational, and besides, if it is on the sand, what would keep it from coming back? The tank is about 2 months old. I only have one fish, a Pacific Redstripe Hogfish. I have a massive Precision Marine Bullet skimmer, and all parameters are now normal after cycling the liverock. What is my best solution at this point? Do I leave the lights off for a period of time? <Cut back in your lighting some, raise your calcium levels. Cut WAY WAY back on the feeding of the fish. Something is feeding the Bryopsis and you have to figure out what it is. And you have to get what's in there out.  Take a look at this http://www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm for basic ways to take care of the tank and avoid algae.  Now for your more immediate problem.  I really advise the bucket method then you don't put tons of spores back into your tank.  Do you have a way to run carbon in your tank? Good luck and lets follow up on this, MacL>Thanks!

Algae on live Rock 13 Aug 2004 Hey Mr. Fenner, <Hi Francisco, MacL here with you today.> As usual...the website rocks and has been a savior many times! <I have to tell you personally every day I marvel at this site.> My question today is one about algae on live rock. Recently I moved from Wisconsin to Florida and took all my live rock with me. Before I left my live rock had long (about 4" strands) of green, thick algae. I am setting up my tank again now in Florida and was wondering if there was anything I could do to stop the spread of the algae in my new tank. <You don't say the size of your tank. If its large enough to support one I would suggest a Foxface or a tang of some type to keep the algae mowed down.> The rock has been out of the water for about 5 days just covered in wet newspaper. <You'll need to give it some time once its back in the water. If you have any of the dead algae on it I would suggest taking a tooth brush and scrubbing it off.>  Any suggestions would be very, very much appreciated. <If your tank isn't so large there are a number of invertebrates that might do the job for you including a Seahare and crabs from the Mithrax crab species. Hope this helps you. MacL> Thanks again!

Hair Algae Hello, <Hi Lui, MacL here with you tonight> I have a 125 gallon saltwater tank that has been running for over one year now. It hosts about 100 lbs of live rock with plenty of coralline algae growth on them, three tangs (red Sailfin, Naso and yellow), a cleaner shrimp and two urchins. Also living in there, are a yellow tail damsel, a brittle starfish, a scallop, two sand sifting starfish, a blue starfish, a few hermit crabs and snails, and a single leather coral. Everyone is doing extremely well except for some nuisance green hair algae that I cannot get rid of. <Hate the stuff.> I do not have a sump and am relying on the live rock, 3" coralline sandbed, protein skimmer and a wet/dry filter to keep the tank alive. I have 5 large powerheads setup to move the water but to not disturb the inhabitants. I have homemade lighting made up of four 110W 6500K VHOs (only two are on most of the time the lights are on, the other two get on once in a while when I'm showing the tank) and two 40W blue actinics (300W total lighting most of the time, but can go up to 520W); the VHOs have been recently changed, the actinics are over one year old. I am concerned that the VHOs are too close to the top of the tank, less than 6", but I have no way of raising them. <I may have spotted your culprit already. The wet/dry filter might be providing the nitrates or possibly holding the proteins that are feeding the hair algae. I speak from experience on this myself. I have a wet/dry on my 120 gallon tank and I love it for its oxygen saturation. However, I had to install a refugium to combat the nitrates held in the biomedia.> In trying to eradicate the green hair algae, I have cut down the lighting to four hours per day, two in the morning and two in the evening (the lights are on only during feeding time). The tank has a lot of natural light the rest of daylight hours and the fish and leather coral seem quite happy with it. I have also performed 20% water changes, twice per week, for the last 6 weeks -- <Have you checked your water for phosphates as well? The water changes could be a part of the problem. Using R/O water can be a solution to this. Also the newest in filtration that Kold Fusion filtration removes phosphates as well as I understand it.> including three total live rock cleansings (remove all the rock, scrub them with a toothbrush in saltwater, then place the rock back -- quite a job, good thing the rocks are large). <That might also disturb the bacterial bed on the live rock so you need to be very carefully about doing the entire bed of live rock.> I measure very little phosphate, < 0.02, and use only RO water and good quality salt. <Thank you for including this, I still believe your problem might be in the nitrates from the wet/dry. I also would like to see NO phosphates at all in the tank. Believe me I do understand how very hard that is to achieve. Phosphates can be found in flake foods as well. And believe it or not some salts can contain a higher amount than is good for the tank.> Although the tank and fish seem very happy, the hair algae is omnipresent. <The bristle mouth tangs might be another option, they can be very effective against it.>If I let the algae go, it will cover everything in the tank in less than one month. <Nasty stuff I do agree.> At this point, I'm contemplating changing my lighting system to a more conventional reef type. <I do think one thing you might need to consider is updating your actinics. I usually try not to let my lights go over a year in age.> Will that be the answer? <You need to look at the spectrum of light for the tank, the depth of the tank is important as well. Let me suggest you take a look at the FAQs on lighting located at  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/index.htm.> What else could be wrong? I have taken extreme care in building this tank and am on the verge of being ready to add some corals, but I have to eliminate the algae first, at least to keep the lights. <I think maybe you need to do some adjustment to your lighting spectrum as well.> Thank you for your help. <Good luck Lui, please let me know if any of this helps you, MacL.> Lui Valente

Hair Algae Hello MacL, <Hi Lui> Thank you for your quick reply. <I try.> Let me clarify that the wet dry filter is a relatively new addition to my tank and essentially a canister filter, as the air intake as been blocked as per the recommendation of a local aquarist, and I am only using mechanical filtration (sponges) and carbon. There is no other media in the filter. <I can understand that. In all honesty my wet/dry is a true wet/dry, I use it to put more oxygen in my tank for the tangs but I have to compensate for the nitrate problem with a refugium.> I have changed the carbon monthly and the mechanical filters are cleaned every two weeks or so, perhaps I should clean them more often as they accumulate a lot of stuff. <If they do that's a sign that you are over feeding or there is too much "stuff" in the tank. Possibly decay of something?> I measure no nitrates and a morning PH of 8.1. I feed my tangs twice a day and they are hearty eaters, the food does not get a chance to fall to the bottom of the tank and everything is gone in a minute or two.  You cannot believe how quick the Naso and red Sailfin are in gathering as much food as possible in a short period of time. <I adore tangs and I know how they can eat, I also know how they can poop for lack of a better word. I really think perhaps you might want to cut back to feeding once a day or possibly pick a day that you don't feed them at all. Tangs eat off the rocks as well so I am sure that they will be fine for one day with no food. For instance, I don't feed on Sundays at all. And my tank has been doing a lot better since I stopped feeding one day a week.>I am not sure as to why I get a reading of 0.02 for phosphates, but I figure the algae itself might account for that. <Algae really shouldn't raise the phosphates unless its decaying and/or dying in the tank.> I do not know the CRI rating of my VHOs. All I know about them is that they are very inexpensive, compared to VHOs sold for aquariums, and they have a temperature rating of 6500 K. <The price of the bulb doesn't matter as long as the spectrum is proper. Many people are using these 6500 K bulbs.> I also do not know whether they are full, half or broad spectrum lamps. I do not have a reflector installed and the depth of my tank is 24". <You are loosing some light without the reflector.> Until now, the only coral I have in the aquarium is doing very well. I realize that I should upgrade the lighting as I build my reef, but right now the hair algae is my concern. Would my present lighting system promote the hair algae growth? <I really don't think it should be.> To recap: I change water twice a week, using RO only (no phosphates and a TDS reading of 7 ppm). <Perhaps you should take this to every two weeks and start doing a larger water change. Perhaps of about 20 to 25%. I suggest this because the amount you are taking out probably isn't enough to provide much dilution of the current water.> I have no nitrates. <0.02 phosphates use a large protein skimmer a canister filter with carbon and sediment filters only (no media) 5 large powerheads 4 hours of VHO/actinic light per day, some good natural sunlight the rest of the time <You know the natural sunlight might be the problem because its got to be diluted through your window glass which is made to change the spectrum. I personally would turn your lighting back on to its proper timing.> ...and I still have green hair algae. <You don't mention your ph Lui and I would seriously consider checking your ph and your alkalinity. I find my tank rids itself of hair algae completely when my ph and alkalinity are at optimum levels. I achieve this through Kalkwasser but there are many other ways to do it. Let me recap a bit, I am concerned at the amount of detritus you are having to clean when you clean your media. It shouldn't be a huge amount especially if you are running a large protein skimmer. I believe your hair algae is feeding off that. MacL> Thanks again Lui Pulling out my Hair (algae) Dear crewperson: <Hello! Ryan Bowen with you today> I am currently having it out fiercely with hair algae, the bad kind ;). <Sorry to hear that...never fun.> The story: 1.5 years, non-drilled 55gal FOWLR, 36lbs LR, 150lbs 4" DSB, AquaC Remora Pro,  Iwaki 40RLT (closed loop).  pH range 8.0-8.2 dKH 12, temp 80-82 (with fans), Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphate, Silicate all  0.  My charges are as follows; fish are listed in order of introduction over the last 1.25 years: False Percula Clown - Amphiprion ocellaris (tank raised) Orchid Dottyback - Pseudochromis fridmani (very mellow) Fire Goby - Nemateleotris magnifica (lightning fast to hiding spot) Cherub Angel - Centropyge argi (small and gorgeous) Lantern Bass - Serranus baldwini (great fish - needs to be appreciated up close) Pistol Shrimp - Alpheidae sp. (can hear it snapping in other rooms) (2) White-Striped Cleaner Shrimp - Lysmata amboinensis  (have yet to see them clean anybody) Giant Clam - Tridacna Maxima (under MH) Sand Sifting Star - Archaster typicus I have tried RO/DI (w/buffer), water changes (IO salt), higher random flow, Kalkwasser, activated carbon, high alkalinity, productive skimmer and less food. <Curing is harder than preventing, as we all find out.> Finally, my questions: Can my DSB be releasing the nutrients that it has collected with my previously heavy-handed feeding habits? <Only if it's not processing waste properly.> Can/Should I remove my DSB (I really am not worried about NNR with my 2x weekly water changes)? <Have you tested your RO unit?  Perhaps the water being changed into your tank isn't as pristine as imagined.  Take a sample to a high-end saltwater shop, have them run it with a TDS meter.> If I did, I would need to remove the fish anyway, right? <Oh, yes.  A nasty day.> Is going fallow outrageous and out of the question? <No real advantage.> If I were to continue anyway, what size tank would be okay temporarily (5 fish; 2-3 inches)? <I'd get three ten gallon tanks.> How about quarantine-style PVC for hiding? <yes, a good idea.  Low lighting will reduce stress as well.> Without any LR/LS, I would have a lack-of-bacteria issue, right? <Yes, so supplement with daily water changes, and a sponge filter in each tank seeded from your main display.> If so, I could get some new LR from LFS, cure it (doesn't matter how long, I will still have the algae), then put my fish in? <Not needed.  You'll be fine, just keep an eye on water quality.> Would it be okay to leave the invertebrates in the main tank? <Nope, not a great idea.> If I do NOT go fallow, can I reduce feeding to like once a week, or something more drastic? <Yes, just monitor health.  You may want to add some live rock for filtration purposes.  I would also add an inch or so to the sandbed with some mature live sand.  Look for someone breaking down their tank!> Whew, anything else you would like to add ;D? <Yes, you could get a lettuce Nudibranch, but you need to have somewhere for him to go after he's consumed all your algae!  My reef club has 1 or 2 that are always being passed around...lucky slugs!  They get the full tank tour.> Thank you so much for your advice - AND GET NMA VOLUME 2 OUT ALREADY!!!  Rich. <I'm as eager as you are, my friend!  Good luck, Ryan>

Halimeda Removal 7/12/04 I have a 90 gallon predominantly SPS tank.  The tank is infested with Halimeda and I'm VERY tired of manually removing it.  The even bigger problem is its growth is interfering with frags for space and its demolishing my calcium levels.  I use a calcium reactor and my tank seems to be the ideal breeding ground for this algae.  Is there anything that might eat it?  Any suggestions? <heavily calcareous algae like Halimeda are generally unpalatable to most herbivores. I cannot think of any reliably reef-safe grazers for you. You are remitted to manual extraction. Be prepared to do a hearty water change right after to remove it all by hand... try to cut it down to the rocks or gently chisel it off (use a sharp chisel to wiggle and scrape it off clean). Avoid tearing the "leaves" up much for fear of noxious exudations (low risk) to the corals> I probably remove a 2 quart container per month of the stuff.   Matt <no easy solution here Matt... just make sure you don't contaminate your tank with fresh deodorant for how deep your arms will be in the aquarium <G>. Best of luck, Anthony>

Algae, Algae, Algae - 7/1/2004 Dear crewperson:<Hi, MikeD here> I am currently having it out fiercely with hair algae, the bad kind<You're not alone> ;).  The story: 1.5 years, non-drilled 55gal FOWLR, 36lbs LR, 150lbs 4" DSB, AquaC Remora Pro,  Iwaki 40RLT (closed loop).  pH range 8.0-8.2 dKH 12, temp 80-82 (with fans), Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphate, Silicate all  0.<Excellent>  My charges are as follows; fish are listed in order of introduction over the last 1.25 years: False Percula Clown - Amphiprion ocellaris (tank raised) Orchid Dottyback - Pseudochromis fridmani (very mellow) Fire Goby - Nemateleotris magnifica (lightning fast to hiding spot) Cherub Angel - Centropyge argi (small and gorgeous) Lantern Bass - Serranus baldwini (great fish - needs to be appreciated up close)< a true under appreciated great fish!> Pistol Shrimp - Alpheidae sp. (can hear it snapping in other rooms) (2) White-Striped Cleaner Shrimp - Lysmata amboinensis  (have yet to see them clean anybody) Giant Clam - Tridacna Maxima (under MH)<Here's likely the source of your problem.  As a rule clams don't work well in FOWLR tanks because, 1) they are often picked on by the fish, and 2) they need too much lighting. Usually MH's are too much for a FOWLR, particularly a smaller tank like a 55!> Sand Sifting Star - Archaster typicus I have tried RO/DI (w/buffer), water changes (IO salt), higher random flow, Kalkwasser, activated carbon, high alkalinity, productive skimmer and less food. Finally, my questions: Can my DSB be releasing the nutrients that it has collected with my previously heavy-handed feeding habits?<Not likely> Can/Should I remove my DSB (I really am not worried about NNR with my 2x weekly water changes)?<I wouldn't> If I did, I would need to remove the fish anyway, right?<Correct.> Is going fallow outrageous and out of the question?<IMO it's uncalled for> If I were to continue anyway, what size tank would be okay temporarily (5 fish; 2-3 inches)?<Keep in mind, temporarily usually means uncycled, thus can cause fish loss> How about quarantine-style PVC for hiding? Without any LR/LS, I would have a lack-of-bacteria issue, right?<correct> If so, I could get some new LR from LFS, cure it (doesn't matter how long, I will still have the algae), then put my fish in? Would it be okay to leave the invertebrates in the main tank? If I do NOT go fallow, can I reduce feeding to like once a week, or something more drastic?<Again, not necessary> Whew, anything else you would like to add ;D?<My suggestion is to set up a nano-reef tank for your clam, then remove it from the FOWLR tank once it's established. Once that's done, cut back on lighting and you should be fine.> Thank you so much for your advice<You're welcome> - AND GET NMA VOLUME 2 OUT ALREADY!!!  Rich.

Green water? WWM crew, <How goes it, Maddox here tonight> I'm having problems with my saltwater tank. It's totally green. <Not fun...> I have looked for hours on your most excellent site <I'm grateful for being able to follow in giants' footsteps, to borrow a phrase from Newton> for some reference to my specific problem, but I couldn't find an answer. Please help me out. My tank specs are as follows: Started 12/25/03 about 6mths. ago 55 gal. Marine, 45# of Fuji live rock, 5 Damsels, Clown, Mandarin Goby <Do make sure that this fish is able to find the food it needs - copepods, amphipods, and other small crustaceans as it doesn't readily take prepared foods>, 5 Hermits, 6 Snails, Flower Anemone, and a Bubble Anemone. Use Wet/Dry filter, and small Protein Skimmer <What type?  Is it collecting at least a cup of skimmate every few days?  Green water \ Algae doesn't appear from nowhere; it's caused by excessive dissolved organics.  You should be collecting a cup of skimmate at least every 3 days if it is functioning properly>. Lighting is PC <Watts?  Color temperate?>. I religiously change 6 gallons of water per week. <Might want to up that to 12 gallons a week until you're able to get the organics under control> I had a problem with Brown Algae in the beginning, but cured it by using distilled water from store. I recently purchased a 6 stage RO/DI unit to help curb the money vs. water problem. <So your make up water is completely free from nitrates and phosphates?> I have not lost any livestock since the tank was started <good to hear> and all chemical parameters are normal i.e.: PH 8.3, Ca=550mg/L, PO4=0, et al. <What about nitrates?> Had a large outbreak of Turtle Weed (?as best as I can tell) recently. The water started looking green, so I pulled out most of the Turtle weed by hand. <Most macro algae are beneficial> The water continued to get greener and greener. It is now to the point that I can't even see my LR. <Ouch definitely not good for your anemones> Please advise on what the actual problem is and what I should do to get clear water again. <Are you employing any chemical mediums?  If not, I would definitely recommend using a Poly Filter from Poly Bio Marine, and Seachem's Matrix carbon or SeaGel, perform more frequent water changes, and make sure your skimmer is working efficiently.  Also, test your Nitrates and make sure they're under 10ppm> Thanks, David <Good luck, and let me know how it goes - M. Maddox>

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