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FAQs on Marine Algae Eaters as Controls 2

Related FAQs: Marine Algae Eaters 1, Scavengers/Clean-up Crews for Marine Aquariums, by Bob Fenner, Some Fishes Are Good For More Than Just Looking At, by James Fatherree, Algae-eating Blennies, Algae ControlMarine Algicide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Culturing Macro-Algae; Controlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Green Algae, Brown/Diatom AlgaeSnail Selection, Snail Compatibility,

Related Articles: Algae Control, Marine Maintenance, Nutrient Control and Export, Marine Scavengers, Snails, Hermit Crabs, Mithrax/Emerald Green Crabs, Sea Urchins, Blennies, Algae-eating Blennies of the Genera Salarias & Atrosalarias, 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 Algae Filters,

Elysia (Tridachia) crispata, the Lettuce Sea Slug. Photo by Stormbringer/Steve. 


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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

algae eating compatible fish with Mandarin Dragonet  12/21/11
Hello Crew,
I have a 70 gallon display with a DSB and a lot of live rock, 40 gallon refugium with some rubble and Chaetomorpha Algae, Orphek LED lighting system, Hydor Koralia pumps covered in mesh screen, Wavemaker, some Ricordea Florida Mushrooms, one RBTA, several LPS and SPS corals, about 20 small Hermit Crabs,  Bumble Bee Snails, Cerith Snails, cleaner clams, Maxima Clam, Crocea Clams, Feather Dusters, 1 Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp, 1 Blood Red Fire Shrimp, 1 Red Fromia Starfish, 2 Orange Spotted Nassarius Snails, 1 Ocellaris Clown Fish, and 1 Mandarin Dragonet. I just put my Dragonet into the display a couple days ago after a 4 week quarantine and a fresh water dip. I was very happy that I was able to get him to eat frozen foods while in quarantine. I found it easy as he was the only one in there so even though I didn't actually see him eating for a while, I knew he was as the chopped frozen bloodworms were all gone so it had to be him.  My parameters are:
Ammonia         0
Nitrates           0
Phosphates     0
<How is NO3 and HPO4 rendered to 0.0 ppm?>
Calcium       450
KH               11
PH                8.3 with lights on, goes down gradually to 8.1 when
moonlights are on
Temp            78 degrees F
SPG              1.025
I dose daily with B-Ionic two part liquid which does a great job of maintaining, but I plan to start slow dripping Kalkwasser separate from my automatic RO top-off system after the holidays.
<Fine; an acceptable practice>
 I feed everyone a tiny bit daily except my RBTA who gets fed twice weekly.
I boost my pod population in my refugium every 2 months. Everyone is doing great except my Seriatopora stellata (Pink Birds Nest Coral) which has bleached completely white.
<... likely chemical allelopathy twixt some of your LPS>
 I've had her about three weeks. Started her at the bottom for a couple weeks, and when I moved her to mid-high level, she turned completely white almost overnight.
<Mmm, maybe lighting to an extent then>
I'm just going to leave her alone and see what happens. All my other SPS Corals are growing and getting very bright.
I know that Blennies are territorial and not a good match with a Mandarin Dragonet, but I would like to add just one more fish to my system that is a good algae eater. My tank is very peaceful, my RBTA has anchored and doesn't move(probably because she gets chopped clams or shrimp twice per week and is quite happy where she is) and my shrimp think they own the place. They are quite comfortable, and I don't want to disturb that balance. Is there any Blenny that may work or should I stick with a very small tang like a Scopas Tang or perhaps a Flame Angel? Thanks much for all you do.
<Thank you for sharing. Your passion and intelligence come through in your writing. T'were it me/mine, I'd go w/ a smaller Tang of the genera Zebrasoma (perhaps the Scopas or a Purple) or Ctenochaetus here...
Salarias, Atrosalarias blennies might prove too aggressive, overly competing for food... and the Centropyge/s... too nippy toward your Clams and Cnidarians. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: algae eating compatible fish with Mandarin Dragonet  12/21/11

Hi Bob,
<How is NO3 and HPO4 rendered to 0.0 ppm?> I'm not certain. I use foam on one of the power head intakes in the display tank and on my skimmer (AquaC EV-180) intake in the refugium. I clean the foam and my skimmer twice per week in tepid water and do 15% water changes every two weeks. I use Salifert tests for HP04 and API for N03- liquid tests for all  except ph (I have a pinpoint PH meter) and I've tried a couple different  kits to verify accuracy so perhaps there are just trace amounts not  enough to register on liquid tests or perhaps the skimmer, clams, Chaeto, and  pods take care of it?
<<I do think you're right on the last. You have a well-balanced set-up, good operation/maintenance practices>>
  I thought if it wasn't enough to register on the  liquid test kits I shouldn't worry about it. Should  I be using a more sophisticated test for these?
<<Not really; no>>
<Mmm, maybe lighting to an extent then> How long do you think it would take to recover if she does recover?
<<Perhaps weeks, months>>
 I  really don't think she's dead, but I am no expert and could surely be wrong.... This may be a dumb question, but how will I know for certain she's dead if she is?
<<Algal growth over the white/skeleton>>
Thank  you so much. I've become infatuated with the hobby, and I get it. 
As for the fish to add, I agree. My clams are stunning and their mantles are so plump and bright, I don't want them to be harmed in any way nor any other life in my tank. I think I knew the answer going in, but it's nice to know someone concurs. Thanks so much for all the knowledge and comfort I've gained from your site. Happy Holidays to you and your crew!! May 2012 be a great year for us all!!
<Life to you. BobF>

Green Hair Algae Eater? 9/19/09
Greetings Crew!
Hope all is going well with you at WWM.
<Going just fine.>
I've written in the past about green hair algae and how it varied in my three tanks. I've gotten back from vacation and am planning on getting an "algae eater" for each of my two tanks - the one without the problem has a Bi-Color Blenny and Flame Angel who are cleaning things up. I've gotten a Lawnmower Blenny specifically to eat hair algae for my 29 gallon tank, the cutie pie only likes the type of algae that grows on glass so the tank looks like an overgrown forest...the other occupants are Flame Hawkfish, Pink Spotted Watchman Goby, Clown Fairy Wrasse, and two Pajama Cardinals. I was wondering what you would recommend for that tank. I'm thinking another Bi-Color Blenny but I'm not sure that it will be able to find a
hiding/perching spot with my territorial Flame Hawkfish.
The other tank has a green mandarin, Barnacle Blenny, Yasha Hase, pistol shrimp, Skunk Cleaner Shrimp, and a Peppermint Shrimp. I had an Eyelash Blenny in there but took it back to the LFS because it ate all the food I put in there and was making a mess of the sand scape, it got really cute in two weeks - looking like it swallowed a marble! So who would be fairly calm and not bother the other inhabitants while eating all that hair algae? My parameters are good - all three tanks 0 Nitrite, 0 Phosphate, pH 8. Water change is 10-15% weekly.
<The source of the algae problem lies within your text...too many fish for a 29 gallon tank. An excess amount of waste/nutrients is providing food for the algae explosion.
Is best to tackle the source of the problem rather than add to it by adding another fish in an already overstocked tank. Do read here and linked files above.
Thanks in advance!!!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Jamie Barclay
Re Green Hair Algae Eater? 9/19/09

Thanks James (Salty Dog)!
<You're welcome.>
You are absolutely correct! I am over stocked. Sometimes, you forget what is right in front of your face. I had this set up for a year without any hair algae then recently it started. I'm getting ready to set up my 225 gal in the next few weeks so I will be moving many of them over there - the Pajama Cardinals and Clown Fairy Wrasse (if he will leave shrimps alone).
<A gorgeous fish which does not lose it's color in the absence of a female.
And, should not bother the shrimp providing they are not mouth size.>
I'll be letting the Lawnmower Blenny stay there until the 225 gets "ripe".
<Sounds like a plan to me.>
Thanks again,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Fighting conch, sel., algae control    - 09/08/08 Hello WWM, About a month or so ago, I added a 3" long fighting conch to a 125g FOWLR already containing the following: Bluechin trigger, Foxface lo, neon Pseudochromis, purple tang, flame angel, Longnose hawk, cinnamon clown, 2 Mithrax crabs, 2 small pencil urchins, a coral banded shrimp and a pistol shrimp (LR hitcher). No acts of aggression from anyone, except the trigger stealing freeze dried plankton I hand feed the coral banded now and then. <It will eventually consume this animal. the Mithraculus, likely the urchins...> There's algae building up on the sand substrate, and I bought the conch in order to stir it up a little. <Mmmm... not likely> It now spends all of its time buried, so that didn't work. I'm thinking of adding 50 or so blue leg hermits. <... I wouldn't...> What's the chance they'd kill the fighting conch...low/med/strong? Chris S. <Let's have you read on WWM re Algae in marine systems, roads to their control... You're not headed in a useful direction here. Bob Fenner>

Lettuce Sea Slug, as algae eaters...  - 09/08/08 Hi all, I have read a couple places that lettuce sea slugs can be used to control green hair algae...is this true? <... by and large (in actual application in hobbyists systems, no... These slugs only eat certain varieties/species... and the types found in aquariums... are rarely amongst these. Bob Fenner>

Red Slime Eaters 5/3/08 Hello, <Hello Amanda> We have recently found at least three different species that consume the "red slime" Cyanobacteria in our two nano tanks. Since there seems to be a dearth of information regarding biological controls for red slime, we felt it proper to share. The first is the common (according to WWM) bristleworm - the dull orange/gray variety. We have a number of small ones in our secondary tank, and they emerge from the substrate to climb the walls and devour sheets and chunks of the red slime with gusto. They then backtrack quickly along their path and disappear into the substrate, usually hiding in a small shell. As I write this I am watching a 3-cm worm eat about 1 square cm of Cyanobacteria. The second is a crustacean, ranging from 2-5 mm in body length. I have included a photo taken under our microscope at 40X. Many of these "bugs" have large praying mantis-type front limbs, which have been described before on your site, but some do not. These creatures are often observed scraping the Cyanobacteria with their mouthparts. <Mmm, interesting. Bob may have an idea what it is.> The third organism has appeared in our primary tank, where the red slime is being consumed by a greenish-yellow growth. Under the microscope the greenish stuff appears granular, with the grains on the same scale as the red slime cells themselves. This leads us to believe it is a type of bacteria. I have also included a photo of the back wall of our tank. Note how the green is arranged in a linear "front", with little to no green left behind. More desirable types of encrusting algae are filling in the gap. We hope this interests some of you. <It certainly does, Amanda. Will share with others. Thank you. James (Salty Dog)> -Amanda T

Nice pix. RMF.

Recommend an algae eater? Hello y'all <<G'Morning, Andrew today>> Thanks so much for your help to-date. You guys (gals) are great! <<Thanks for the kind words>> So mine is a 72g bow, set up 7 months (having transferred over live rock and sand from a 26g bow that was a year old). I've a below tank fuge, and all is doing well enough. <<Sounds good>> Roommates include: sunburst Anthias, clown, midas blenny, 2 each scissor tails, 3 each fire fish, 1 purple Firefish, a candy stripe cardinal, and a peppermint and a fire shrimp. A few assorted mushrooms, polyps, and a toadstool. <<The sunburst Anthias (Serranocirrhitus latus) does need to be in a larger home, more in the region of 125 gals or more.>> I'll get one more purple Firefish (started with a compatible pair and one just disappeared), and then would like something that will eat algae. <<Sounds fine to get another, fingers crossed they pair up>> There is not a lot of green hair algae yet, but it's starting on the back glass and on the powerheads. Fortunately still very minimal. Must be because of light stocking and the fuge with spaghetti algae? <<Possibly...However, it has to be pulling nutrients from somewhere to grow. Are you showing any high nitrates or phosphates?>> What would you recommend. I was thinking of a coral beauty. Or do you have another suggestion for an algae eater given my tank inhabitants? I though maybe the coral beauty might harass the sunburst given that they're somewhat same color and body shape. <<Personally, i would take the sunburst to a LFS, get credit on it, and then get a nice lawn mower blenny. This will tackle the algae area's for you. You will have to move out the Anthias anyway, due to its size>> Also, I'm seeing more bubble algae than I'm able to get in there and clean up - try to keep my hands out of the tank as much as possible. I'm thinking two small emerald crabs. Do you think they would pose a problem given my small fish population? <<Mithrax are a potential suitor to the bubble. Read more here first before making the informed decision to buy http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mithraxfaqs.htm >> Much further down the road I'd then like to add a mandarin goby and a small red starfish. Will the 72g bow house all of these sufficiently? <<As long as a good population of copepods are apparent, yes, fine with the mandarin, starfish, touch and go in my opinion. Read more on star's here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm >> Thanks so much, Stormy. <<Hope the above helps, thanks. A Nixon>> Aiptasia & Sea Hare comp.... & Bio. alg. contr.    2/3/08 Although our 55 gallon FOWLR has been doing fine (fish growing & happy, no death, stable water) I have three nickel sized Aiptasia and some hair algae. Can/will the sting of an Aiptasia injury or kill a Sea Hare? <Won't be the best combination but certainly not the best solution for both problems. For the Aips see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/aiptasia/aiptasia.htm. And the causes of the Hair Algae must be addressed first. The Sea Hare will just be recycling the nutrients the algae use. Read on Nutrient export etc. Olly>

Sea Hare (Aplysia dactylomela) And "Ink Scares" In A Take-All Battle Against Hair Algae! - 01/28/08 Thanks for the great site; it's really helped me understand my reef aquarium. <<A collective effort…we're pleased you have found it of use>> I have a 55 gallon reef setup with a Major Hair Algae problem. <<I trust you have perused our articles/FAQs re…>> I've had the setup for about 2 years and since getting some new corals, mushrooms, and additional pieces of live rock 6 months ago, hair algae has begun to take over and I'm considering desperate measures to get rid of it. <<Mmm…if the pest alga was not a problem before, obviously one or all of the additions have upset the "balance" of your system. Perhaps your filtration methodology is now insufficient for the bio-load. Or perhaps the new rock introduced a contaminant (Phosphate). All speculation at this point, I must admit>> *Background info: My nitrates, phosphates are continuously at zero. <<Likely not…just consumed by the algae/corals faster than can be detected>> Perform bi-monthly water changes at 10%. <<Monthly changes of 20% might be called for/of use here>> I reduced lighting from 12 hours to 8 hours (but now my BTA and corals don't seem as full or bright). <<Indeed…Others may, but I never recommend reducing the lighting photo-period just to battle nuisance alga>> *Livestock: Mated pair Maroon Gold Striped with BTA, Lawnmower blenny, yellow Tang, random soft leather corals, 2 open brains, one large closed brain, green bubble coral, green torch long tentacle coral. <Quite the "reef garden" eh>> Inverts: 15 Turbo Snails, 15 Nassarius snails, 10 Nerite Snails, 3 Emerald crabs, 20+ hermit crabs (blue & white legged), Sand sifting cucumber, Caulerpa and Macro algae. <<Caulerpa "is" a species of Macro Algae…and mixing species of macro algae can be as problematical as mixing corals re fighting for space, allelopathy, et al>> *Hardware: Lighting: T-5 HO: 2 Actinic, 2 10,000k; Protein Skimmer, <<Might also be time for a bigger/better skimmer>> 2 powerheads, <<More "flow" will also be of help re the nuisance algae, and coral health in general>> Filter, <<This will be a large source of your problems if not attended/cleaned "at least" once a week to prevent buildup of decaying organic material. And if you're not already, consider adding some chemical filtration (carbon/Poly-Filter)>> with No sump, temp kept at 76F. Now after taking some rocks out and manually pulling out hair algae they've started to grow back!! Grrr! <<Indeed… You need to find/address the "source" of the nuisance algae>> It is completely overrunning my blue and purple mushroom patches and I don't know what to do... <<I've listed a few avenues of investigation>> I'm considering adding a Spotted Sea Hare (Aplysia dactylomela) or similar one available after seeing before and after photos of them eating hair algae. <<Can be quite efficacious re, but is not a panacea. You will still need to address the source of your nuisance algae issue>> My issue: I'm away for a day or so and can't monitor my tank in case of an INK issue with the Sea Hare. Will the Ink kill my livestock if I can't do an immediate water change? <<The "Ink" may well prove fatal in small closed-systems, but this will not likely be an issue. Unless attacked (I don't see any problems with your current stocking list), these animals are quite content to just roam the tank and graze. I have kept several of these fascinating creatures over the years and have never experienced any problems with "inking">> Are there any other non-toxic sea hares or animals I can add to get rid of the hair algae? <<Aplysia species are the most efficient at this that I am aware…though these will also vary among individuals in their "effectiveness">> Could you please provide other reef suggestions to solve this problem? <<I have made a few…but finding the "source" is key here>> Thanks for your help. *Please email me your response or notification that you've responded. <<We always do>> I'll be anxiously waiting... <<Do read/re-read on our site re nuisance algae, its sources and methods of control. Start here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm ) and follow the associated links at the top of the page>> Thanks! <<Cheers, EricR>>

Re: Sea Hare (Aplysia dactylomela) And "Ink Scares" In A Take-All Battle Against Hair Algae! - 01/30/08 Thanks for the reply! <<Very welcome!>> Follow up question: My fish guy says the Sea Hare may eat red algae and he's not sure about it eating Coralline growth on live rock. Does it eat Coralline? <<This has never been a problem in my experience…these creatures generally feed on "filamentous" algae>> I've attached some pics of my algae infestation. <<Yes, I see…not so bad as some I've witnessed, and even experienced myself. I must also make mention…that lovely Sea Apple you have is of more concern/poses a greater risk of poisoning your system than any inking issue with the Sea Hare>> Thanks a lot guys! <<Great gals here too… Happy to help, EricR>>

Algae Control, Urchin selection 6/22/07 Chris, <Hello> Thanks for your quick response. <Sure> I had a follow-up question. <Ok> While my 110g display is running fallow, the algae is starting to grow and grow and grow . . . This was all being kept in check by my lawnmower blenny and yellow tang before I removed them to the HT (neither survived). I have lots of hermits and snails, but they aren't really doing much. <Can be picky eaters at times.> Someone has suggested an urchin to control the algae, but I'm wary of that because I intend to introduce a few easy-to-keep soft corals once I get everything running and back into shape. <Some can be troublesome with corals.> Are there urchins that are reef safe, or do you suggest some other organism to help control algae during the fallow period? <As always I suggest the main organism for algae removal is you, manual removal will help lots here, both removing the unsightly algae and in the same step remove fuel for future algae to metabolize. But there are some urchins that can be utilized here, although bringing problems of their own. Some may sample corals while just about all are known to be bulldozers, knocking loose corals are rocks about, not particularly agile creatures for sure. Several suitable species are available, specific species are found in the FAQs.> Btw, in searching the urchin FAQs I came across the picture of the yellow goby with an urchin spike through its head. That is one of the coolest pictures ever. <Quite, although not a great day for that goby.> Although my tests show 0 phosphates, I imagine that there are some phosphates present--just being used up by algae before they register on test. <Yes, most likely.> I'm saving for a RO/DI unit, which should help in the long run, but until then I have ordered some PhosBan to run in the sump. <The RO/DI will probably help more than any livestock you add to the tank. I would probably not spend the 20 or 30 dollars on the urchin and apply it to the RO/DI unit, more long term benefit here.> <Chris>

Possible addition of small urchin. Algae Control 2/27/07 I have a question regarding the recent proliferation of hair algae in my system. 29 gallon 1 65 watt 10k PC 1 65 watt Actinic PC 35lb of Fiji & Tonga 3-4" of aragonite substrate Remora skimmer (produces .5 cup of dark skimmate per day), with box attachment for surface skimming, I also added some porcelain rings (can't remember name of them) for added surface area. Aqua clear 20 filter for minor mechanical filtration and added carbon filtrant. I use Tropic Marin Pro Reef Salt with my tapwater. No other additives Established for 1 year. Inhabitants include 1 lemon goby, full grown yet tiny 1 neon goby, 2 growing ocellaris clowns, can the big one ever nip! 1 Skunk cleaner 1 Blue/yellow damsel, exceedingly well behaved med frogspawn, <Frogspawn> candy coral, xenia several hermits and various snails <Too many fish in your 29, causing excess nutrients in the system.  I'd remove the damsel.> My problem started in Nov/Dec when I was putting the maintenance on my system on hold while busy finishing my basement and trying work and have a family life at the same time. Anyway, I left water changes for 6-8 weeks and only did the minimum to keep the protein skimmer clear and the water level up. In the meantime, I had the beginnings of my hair algae problem that I thought would go away once I got the parameters under control. The one thing I see now is that the particulate in the water is captured by the growing algae without hitting the filters, definitely not a bonus for keeping nitrates/nitrites down. <No, is not.  Do you have around 250-300 gpm total flow rate?  This will help keep the waste in suspension allowing the filter to capture more of it.> I do extensive physical removal of the nuisance stuff, along with my weekly water changes of 15-20%, I have also doubled my flow rate in the system with 2 more power heads. My question is due to the fact that I still don't have the algae under control, would it be prudent to add a small Egg Urchin to the fray? I am nervous about it not targeting my nuisance stuff and going after my coralline and other "good" algae. My plan was to buy one (urchin) for just the short term and I have permission to take it back to the LFS once it appears to be under control. Will it harm any of the other inhabitants like the xenia, sponges, tubeworms? Also if everything is at least worth a try, how do you remove them from the system without getting poked? Net or rubber gloves. <Definitely not a net, I just carefully pick them up with my hand.  The urchin you suggest, the Hairy Pincushion or Sea Egg is a good algae eater and, will also eat Caulerpa.  It has a habit of collecting most anything to put on its body as camouflage.  This may include soft corals etc.  The urchin will not directly harm your corals/tubeworms, but rather indirectly by it's antics.  Also read here and related links for more info.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> Thanks again for your opinions. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog) Jeff

Caribbean Biotope + Herbivores in a Nano cube   1/24/07 Hey guys. <Hi there, Mich here.> I'm planning a Caribbean biotope in my 24 gallon tank.  I haven't been able to find much info on the net regarding setup or types   (different reef types, depths) of these aquariums, and I was wondering if you knew any good ones. <John Tullock has an excellent book called The Natural Reef Aquarium, which is arranged by geographically area.  This would be an great resource for you.>   On another note, I can't find any herbivorous Caribbean fish! <How about a Redlip Blenny (Ophioblennius atlanticus), would be appropriate for a 24 gallon tank.   Would best be off using the herbivorous Mithrax crabs or is there some other option? <Mmm, don't know that I would call the Mithrax crab herbivorous, they do at times prey on small animals, so I would use these with caution.  I would consider using a snail or two, not much more in such a small tank at there will most likely not be enough of a food supply and may result in starvation.  Turbos, Astraea, Trochus, Nerite, Cerith and Nassarius are all possibilities.>     Thanks. <Welcome!  -Mich>

Selective Hair Algae Herbivore? - 01/03/06 Greetings Crew! <<Hello Greg!>> Hopefully 2007 finds you well and prosperous! <<Doing well so far...as for prosperous, hmmm...I guess time will tell...but thank you>> I do have a minor dilemma I hope you can help me solve. <<I shall be happy to try>> My refugium has begun to grow significant amounts of hair algae.  Although I have two 50-gallon refugiums, the lower refugium (bare-bottom, used for growing Chaetomorpha) is the refugium with the algae problem. <<Hmm...>> The upper 50g refugium has a 6" DSB, Chaetomorpha and feather Caulerpa. <<Ack!  I see/hear this a lot (mixing macro-alga), but prefer/recommend folks choose on or the other.  Not only do the alga fight/compete/release noxious compounds and expend energy re that could be better utilized, but the two have differing care requirements>> These 2 refugiums support a 180g display tank with 200# of LR, SPS and LPS corals as well as several tangs, small wrasses, maroon clown pair, mandarin, inverts, etc. <<I see>> Water parameters are as follows: Salinity=1.025, Temp=77F, pH=8.3, alk=5 meq/L, NH3=0, NO2=0, NO3=5 PPM, PO4<0.5PPM, <<This last may be your problem re the hair algae.  Try to get this below 0.02 and see if it helps (Poly-Filter and/or a Ferric Oxide media along with increased/more efficient skimming)>> Ca=380 PPM.  All water is provided via an R.O. unit.  A 6' airstone protein skimmer processes all overflow water from the main tank and a Red Sea Berlin skimmer is used to remove any remaining contaminants from the surface of the lower refugium. <<Are these skimmers performing efficiently?  Perhaps an upgrade is in order>> The larger skimmer produces approximately 1 cup of skimmate daily and the Berlin skimmer produces skimmate only if the larger skimmer has been out of adjustment or sometimes after feeding. <<Unfortunately this "measurement" is of little/dubious use (akin to "watts of light per gallon") as a system's capacity for producing skimmate is highly variable>> I would like to add some sort of herbivore to my lower refugium to control the hair algae issue. <<Mmm, also of dubious use in this instance as most any macro algae predator will also prey upon the beneficial organisms culturing in the refugium...even if this is only the epiphytic matter on the Chaetomorpha>> Since my purpose for the refugium is NNR and to provide a continuous supply of food for my mandarin and for the corals, I want to add a herbivore that would eat hair algae but would not disturb the 'pod population or eat the Chaetomorpha. <<Therein lies the rub...  About the only critter I could recommend that may "selectively" prey upon the hair algae would be a sea hare of the Family Aplysiidae.  If you go this route, do be sure to acquire tropical specimens (I believe Ocean Rider, Inc. sells viable eggs of a tropical species from Hawaii).  But my experience with sea hares, like most any organism obtained for algae control, has been highly variable>> I do have a flame angel I removed from my main tank for nipping at corals.  It is a terrific hair algae grazer but I suspect it would eat the Chaetomorpha as well. <<Possibly...but more likely it would make quick work of the copepods, amphipods, etc.>> I have added a few blue leg hermits but they are not making much of an impact. <<Overrated algae grazers...and much too opportunistic for my display tanks, let alone for addition to a refugium!>> I assume they would probably eventually eat the Chaetomorpha as well. <<Not before the "other" food options are exhausted I think>> Most options I can think of will probably eat 'pods or macro algae (lawnmower blenny, lettuce sea slug, Mexican turbo snails.). <<Agreed...though the lettuce sea slug would probably "just die">> What do you suggest? <<Other than already stated?...attacking the problem at its source.  Reduce the amount of measurable PO4...and if the funds are available, consider investing in a proven quality skimmer (Euro-Reef, AquaC, H&S, etc.)>> Thank you, in advance, for the help! --Greg <<Always a pleasure to assist.  Eric Russell>>

Naso Lituratus alternative for algae control   12/27/06 Hi, <Hello there> I have some kind of kelp like macro algae growing all over my live rock in my reef tank. I was considering using Naso Tang (Naso lituratus) for controlling it since it is competing with my corals, but since my tank is only 75 gal, and I know that Naso will outgrow it sooner or latter (plus possibly damage corals) I am hoping you can suggest an alternative fish (preferably or any other solution). Tank mates are 2 Percula Clowns, Yellow tang (eats every other kind of algae except that one) and cleaning crew : several Cleaner and Peppermint shrimps, snails, hermits and brittle stars, plus assortment of soft and hard corals. Tank setup is 75 gal main display, 20 gal sump and 10 gal refugium (swarming with variety creatures and Caulerpa). <... well...> Here is the picture of the algae, and I was hoping you can identify it. <The image didn't come through... see WWM re.... needs to be a jpg, bmp of small size, attached...> It came on a live rock (which I believe came from Fiji - according to Marine Depot). While I am able to remove it from most of the rock, and I do like to use macro algae for Nitrogen/Oxygen control, it is now getting to less accessible places among the corals where I can't reach it or I can damage the corals. Thanks, Mladen Covic <The choice of biological control is determined on the basis of the type, especially Division of algae involved... If this is a BGA there are not many predators to consider... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algeatrcontfaqs.htm and the linked files above... I would consider a Salarias, Atrosalarias species here myself as a first try. And a look/see under a microscope at what phyletic level this pest is for sure. Bob Fenner>
Re: Naso Lituratus alternative for algae control  12/30/06 Thank you for your reply and I am sorry for any kind of misunderstanding and for image not coming through (though it was jpg, "only" 57K and attached). <We have (ongoing) issues with our webmail service... I would not be surprised if the difficulty were on "our end" here> I hope I can have another shot at your answer while providing more details and trying the attached picture again: <Sure, and did come through... a brown algae right?> First, it is a brown macro algae, of the kelp type. Leaves are brownish green, 1-2" long, 1/4-1/2" wide, with dark brown spots on the surface, ragged edges under magnification. Leaves are spreading from well formed brown-green stem, 1/8 in diameter, covered with dark brown, 1/32" long, protrusions. After several weeks of growth (reaching 4-5"), this plant starts developing spherical "fruits" (up to 1/4" in diameter, lighter brown-green) along the stem, close to the top. Now, on your page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brnalgcomp.htm, you have a picture of some algae ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Algae%20and%20Plt%20Pix/Brown%20Algae/Sargassum. jpg) that you have identified as Sargassum hystrix. <I think you are correct> It looks quite like my algae, though that picture shows little detail. In that articles on that page, it is mentioned that it should die off after 6 months. <Usually does w/in this time frame> If my algae is Sargassum hystrix, I find that extremely hard to believe since this plant has some kind of risom or root that has survived scrubbing when the live rock was collected and shipped, 3 weeks of my curing of the live rock, and my very meticulous scrubbing of the rock after the curing. <Mmm, can originate (and proliferate!) from a single surviving spore... doesn't need rhizomous material...> And the algae is blissfully growing, despite my pruning, for almost 6 months now. And every time I prune it (sharp "pointy" bone cutter) I try to cut to the rock (which I usually do) and the algae sprouts again from the same spot, probably from the tiniest  piece of that root that was left buried deep in the rock. <Heeeee! Sorry for my amusement> As for the Blennies, that you have suggested, can they really eat this type of macro-algae. <Mmm... some species... but not likely much of the ones offered stock in the trade, no> From your site, I would think they would go for "finer" filamentous and green algae. Is there any specific Blenny that goes after the "big" algae? <Well... not likely to find any such for sale... You could search for the distribution of this Sargassum, and use Fishbase.org... sorting by the area/geography... to find potential predators... but...> I hope I am not taking too much of your time by asking you to help me again. <Oh no... this is an enjoyable, intellectual (even fun!) exercise for me... Why I choose to engage others...> Your site has been extremely helpful to me and the amount of the accumulated knowledge on it is extraordinary. One thing however, if you don't mind me giving you a suggestion, can make these pages even more helpful. I have noticed that many people, when contacting you with their problems, are sending you the pictures that are illustrating their problems or accomplishments,  and when you publish their questions and your answers, those pictures are often omitted. <Ahh! We/I do post all that are sent, that we "get"... often they get lost in the shuffle (the Crew doesn't move the original post to where they'll be noticed (are lost in the responding process), or there is some "issue" with/twixt our web-mail server (as with your original effort)... What improvement I'd really like to make is to re-visit and make available the 22k or so images on the site that are mine, in larger sizes... ala sites like Fishbase... but we must need generate more revenue to hire someone to do the likely re-scanning, spiffing up, sizing, making pages, linking... for these... And going forward, to do the same with folks image-work sent in... with much more information//fields possible... like the site where the image was made, size of the individuals shown... A friend is working on the likes of "banner ad" JavaScript... so, perhaps in 07...> Providing those pictures, either inside the article, or as follow to link, would be extremely beneficiary since it would help us cut on repetitive problems by recognizing our stuff on someone else's picture and/or provide the basis from which we can formulate more specific questions or comments. <Totally agreed> Of course if there is an issue with the storage space or the time and the effort required for the maintenance of those pages and files, I will understand. <Used to be that the cost of storage and bandwidth was an issue... the costs for these has greatly diminished in recent years... it's the time/labor of going back at this point, along with the "mystery" issues of email, graphics not getting to/through us that is limiting currently. Thank you, Bob Fenner> Thank you again, Mladen Covic <Oh! And I do encourage you to consider a Naso species for eradicating this Phaeophyte... it will likely do so... and in very short order!>

Sea hare sel., comp.  12/30/06 OK, so after moving my tank (150g Berlin, 250lbs live rock, light bio-load) I had a huge outbreak of long green hair algae. Covered everything. Tried cutting back on the light, but I only achieved making it's color less attractive. After reading all I could, I decided I didn't want to go with scraping, chemical, etc....but add a natural solution. When weighing out the pro's & con's of such grazers, I settled on a sea hare, <Mmm, what species?> as it seemed to be the most voracious grazer. I wasn't so worried about it dying, as my tank is quite healthy and there is much for it to eat....... but with such a nocturnal creature, how on earth would you know if something that you rarely (if ever, lately...) see? <Mmm, the results of their night-time foraging?> Also, in a 150g, how much pollution/death could I be facing if I do not find the body? <Could be appreciable depending on the species, size... your filtration, maintenance...> 250lbs of rock is a pretty sizable pile to dig through. Thanks in advance, my briny friends!   -Pat <Do take care to try a tropical species (not a cool/coldwater one), that is, and stays small-ish. You have read here?: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the linked files above? There are other "biological means" to consider... Bob Fenner>

Naso Lituratus alternative for algae control   12/27/06 Hi, <Hello there> I have some kind of kelp like macro algae growing all over my live rock in my reef tank. I was considering using Naso Tang (Naso lituratus) for controlling it since it is competing with my corals, but since my tank is only 75 gal, and I know that Naso will outgrow it sooner or latter (plus possibly damage corals) I am hoping you can suggest an alternative fish (preferably or any other solution). Tank mates are 2 Percula Clowns, Yellow tang (eats every other kind of algae except that one) and cleaning crew : several Cleaner and Peppermint shrimps, snails, hermits and brittle stars, plus assortment of soft and hard corals. Tank setup is 75 gal main display, 20 gal sump and 10 gal refugium (swarming with variety creatures and Caulerpa). <... well...> Here is the picture of the algae, and I was hoping you can identify it. <The image didn't come through... see WWM re.... needs to be a jpg, bmp of small size, attached...> It came on a live rock (which I believe came from Fiji - according to Marine Depot). While I am able to remove it from most of the rock, and I do like to use macro algae for Nitrogen/Oxygen control, it is now getting to less accessible places among the corals where I can't reach it or I can damage the corals. Thanks, Mladen Covic <The choice of biological control is determined on the basis of the type, especially Division of algae involved... If this is a BGA there are not many predators to consider... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algeatrcontfaqs.htm and the linked files above... I would consider a Salarias, Atrosalarias species here myself as a first try. And a look/see under a microscope at what phyletic level this pest is for sure. Bob Fenner>

Cyano eaters? Not much of any   11/5/06 Hi,    I've read that amphipods will eat Cyanobacteria. Do you know  of the best species of amphipod for this task? Or do you know  of a better  animal for the job? <Mmm, as far as I'm aware, not much BGA is consumed by Amphipods... or any other crustacean group. And no other fish/group... I'd see WWM re other countervailing strategies for controlling BGA>    I have a red headed neon goby, 1sexy shrimp, 3 Nerite snails,  1 blue legged hermit crab, xenia, half inch sand bed, and 3lbs live rock all in  a six gallon tank.    Also wondering if there are any species of seahorses that  can be kept in a tank this small. <Not well, or safely, for long> Thanks, Greg <Bob Fenner>

Algal control (Phaeophyte) via Echinoids  10/24/06 Hi, <Hello> One of my friend have a reef with a lot of algae (Lobophora variegata) he would like to know which urchin would be the best for eating these alga : Mespilia globulus or the Diadema setosum? thanks! <I would go with the Diadema species if this tank has space, a suitable mix of (non-pin-cushion) species. Bob Fenner>

Advice re... algae, SW... learn to/use WWM  9/25/06 Hi there - I have a question (or two) regarding my current saltwater aquarium and hoped you might steer me in the right direction... <Will try> I've got a 60 gallon tank, devoid of fish, that's been basically sitting for the past year indoors.  It's been up and running the whole time with correct temp, gravity, etc, and has about 30 Lbs of live rock.  A long ways back, the tank developed a serious algae outbreak, and I just now cleaned it up.  It had pretty much all the types - including the blue-green algae.   The algae covered everything - live rock, sides of the glass, you name it.  Anyway, I decided enough was enough - I was going to do things right and keep on top of it from now on. So, I scrubbed each piece of Fiji rock and discovered what it's SUPPOSED to look like...  (I'd forgotten since the algae took over!), did a 25% water change, cleaned out all the filter media and vacuumed the sand.  Looks pretty good once again!   I waited a couple days, and now I've done a check on the water - ph, ammonia, nitrite/nitrates, etc.  Everything is at the correct levels. So, my question is - how long should I wait before adding fish once again? <Mmm... because of the long duration... presence of BGA... I'd actually like to ask, assure myself that you've dumped all the water, used chemical filtrants here first... likely the algae has rendered the system otherwise quite toxic... I would proceed cautiously with stocking>    I'm assuming all the good bacteria is still (mostly) in the sand and filter media, so the water is ok - and the water change & tank cleaning should have taken care of the high nitrates, yes? <Likely so> I did a lot of reading on your site - and I think I've got everything covered to keep that algae down to acceptable levels.  I plan on 25% water change twice per month (sound ok?) <Yes> - keeping the lighting to 8 hours a day, max - and I'm going to purchase a bunch of snails. <Mmm... okay> So, do you think I've got it in hand - or can you offer any suggestions? <?> I was told snails really make a difference, is that true? <Can... positive and negative> What about hermit crabs? <Am not a fan> An article I read said they can and do, attack snails.  Are there any types you can recommend? <... posted>   Last - is there a "suggested" amount of live rock that should be in the tank? <....... also posted...> I've heard 1LB of rock per gallon of water, is that right?  Is more better? Well, thanks very much - just for reading my lengthy email. I really appreciate any advice you can offer!   - Jim <Keep reading. BobF>

Re: Advice... snails, SW  9/25/06 Last question - (then I'll read - promise!) :) <Too late> The snails - a good bet?  You said positive AND negative.  Can I ask why? <Can be helpful, but can/do often die easily... are vectors for many parasites...> Any type of snail you'd recommend? <Posted> Based on the state of the tank (prior) the green algae wasn't very present, like the BGA, red and brown stuff.  Not sure if the snails eat the other types (I know - I'll READ about it) - but, since there's no green "good" algae currently in the tank, are the snails pointless? Thanks... - Jim <Read my friend, read. RMF> -

Tang for algae 6/24/06 - Bob, <JasonC here today.> Could you advise what would be a good choice of Tang/Surgeon for eating mainly hair type/filamentous algae? Don't really want a Yellow Tang (Z. Flavescens) as my local aquarist gives accounts of them sometimes being highly territorial. (I have - at present - a fairly "peaceful" set up). <It is my observation that this territoriality comes from these fish often being the first fish in the tank. If you add one to this existing community, I don't think it would be that big of a deal.> Aka :     1 X Emperor Angel (Pomacanthus  Imperator) 1 X  Coral Beauty Angel (Centropyge bispinosus) 1 X  Three Spot Angel (Apolemichthys Trimaculatus) 1 X  Golden Headed Sleeper Goby (Valenciennea Strigata) 1 x  Orange Spotted Sleeper Goby (Valenciennea puellaris) 2 X  Purple Firefish (Nemateleotris Decora) 1 X  Royal Gramma (Gramma Loreto) 2 X  Long-Fin Bannerfish (Heniochus Acuminatus) 4 X  Green Chromis (Chromis Caerulea) 4 X  Blue Damsels (2 each- exact species unknown) 1 X  Big Long-Nosed Butterflyfish (Forcipiger Longirostris) 1 X  Rainford's Goby (Amblygobius Rainfordi) Tank is 84" X 21" X 21" with around 45Kg Live Rock, 12 Super Turbo  Snails, 4 Turbo Snails, 3 Red Legged Hermit Crabs, 12 Blue Legged Hermit  Crabs and 3 Mithrax Crabs. Filtration is 2 X Tetratec 1200 External canisters,TMC V2 600 Protein  Skimmer, and added circulation with 3 X Rio 2100 power heads. RO water used at all times, TMC Pro-Reef Salts. NH3/NH4 - Nil, NO2 - Nil, NO3 - less than 12.5mg/l, PH buffered at  8.3, SG1022,Temp 25.7c, ORP @ 300-325 (ORP. ph & temp digitally  continuously monitored). Weekly 50 Imperial Gallon water changes. Fully fitted 32"X16"X12"  "Hospital/Quarantine/Refugium" tank. Eventually (in some years to come) I want to graduate to "fish and hardy invertebrate" system and then eventually on to a full "reef" system (obviously with far fewer fish).   My considerations are:      A. Japonicus (White faced tang), A. Coeruleus (Blue Tang),     A. Achilles (Achilles Surgeonfish), Z. Veliferum (Sailfin Tang), Z. Desjardinii (Indian Ocean Sailfin Tang). Finally, can I say your book has been of really great help, and is  frequently referred to by myself for guidance. Kind Regards, Andy B. Preston, Lancashire, UK. <Andy, I'm not certain I saw an actual question in there... any of those Tangs would be a good choice in my opinion, including the Z. Flavescens. Cheers, J -- >

Lettuce Sea Slug/Systems    4/10/06 I have 4 lettuce sea slugs in my 29g reef (yeah, probably 2 if not 3 too many). <Maybe four too many.> I have had them in there for a couple months.  Only one of them explores the entire tank, another explores sometimes, but the other two and the "sometimes" one mostly hang out on the glass at the top of the tank, in the direct flow of my power filter and obviously near the light, and the two don't move hardly at all.  I have a couple of times taken them all and placed them within the rock but they end up back at the tank top. My question is, is this considered "normal"?  I figured they are partially photosynthetic but they are getting little if any solid food, other than what they may be filtering/catching in the water flow.  should I be concerned with their health?  <Yes, the Lettuce Sea Slugs are photosynthetic but need sufficient green algae to survive.  Without providing this they will soon perish.> they so far don't seem to be adversely affected, at least on the outside. Patrick  <James (Salty Dog)> 29g, Prizm skimmer, Marineland bio-wheel 200, 2x65w compact fluorescent, about 30lbs live rock, 1 goby and 1 blenny, several hermits and astrea snails.

Brooklynella from Brooklyn, Ctenochaetus tangs   3/18/06 Dear wonderful WWM crew     First off let me thank you guys the best (and most time consuming) website in the world. <I'll say!> Unfortunately I found it a year in to the hobby, and it cost me literally hundreds of dollars worth of "stuff" and a big box full of that same "stuff". <Most all of us have these... I've got a few...>     Anyway, back to my questions. I recently made 3 purchases from my local retailer. The first I made was a juvenile 3-4" blonde Naso tang. After visiting it in the store for 3 weeks, I took it home and acclimated it. A little nervous at first but now 3 weeks later bold and an absolute pig! MY next purchase was a 3" tomato clown. Once again after 3 weeks at the retailer I brought him home and he was great for about 24 hours. Then I noticed him not interested in for and his eyes were cloudy. <... a wild-caught fish...> So I turned to your website for advice. Boom, 10 minute freshwater bath with Quick Cure (formalin and malachite) then re-introduced in the main tank. ( no means for quarantine) After that he still looked bad on one side of his body, so the next day I got a 10 gallon tank for QT/hospital. <Yay!>     This morning I did another 10 minute bath with the formalin and got great results body slime was gone but his breathing was still incredibly rapid and was not interested in food, so back to the hospital and treatment to be continued. How long should I continue the treatment until I try another one just in case this doesn't work? <I'd try to hold off until the breathing rate is more "normal"... fishes have real trouble with loss of packed cell volume (hematocrit)... Can/often die from the result of "not being able to breath"... secondary effect from... many influences> I am also concerned he has not eaten in 2 days, so I have been adding some Selcon directly to the water. How can I get him to even be remotely interested in food? <... posted... on WWM>     Next question, how long does it usually take Brooklynella to "appear"?. <A day to a few> The reason why I ask this is because I want to know if it was in the fish form the store, or in my tank from a clownfish death about a year ago. <Should be gone from a previous infestation if this long w/o a host> None of my other fish are affected at all (2 tangs, diamond goby, and damsels). <Oh! The damsels could act as reservoir hosts>     One more question before I go, If another fish came up with the same sickness , say a Pomacanthus angel, can they be in the same QT together? <Yes> Can I use the same FW bath water? <Almost always, yes... aerate it though>     Just one more comment, I bought a very juvenile tomini tang (Ctenochaetus tominienisis) about one inch in length <Wow! Tiny!> and is now about 6 inches and I have to say this fish is absolutely the best algae eating machine in the world, that is on top of its beauty and want to "tell the world" about this rare beauty, everyone should have one. <You have done so>     Sorry about my rambling on and on, and thank you in advance for your response and advice. Thanks, Dino from Brooklyn
<BobF in HI>

Snails (But, I Think He Was Asking a Question..)  11/22/05 They are the biggest I've seen. They primarily feed on detritus & algae. They are also completely harmless to all invertebrates, gorgonians and all known and/or available corals on the market today; ranging from SPS (small polyp stony corals) such as Acropora Sp. and other similar Reef builders to every commonly available soft coral and most sessile invertebrates including gorgonians and higher forms of fauna such as Caulerpa. 

The species is Nassarius obsoleta.( ILynassarius obsoleta) These snails are excellent and safe for all types of marine and reef aquariums. They don't consume any form of hair algae but they will help keep it at bay by consuming the detritus on which it feeds.. They eat slime algae - red carpet algae you find in your tanks from high nutrient content and inefficient skimming. These are much more active and tend to do a much more efficient job of keeping the glass clean as well. These are a hardier species than Astrea snails and will outlive them. Also, unlike Mexican Turbo Snails, these will not disrupt coral set-up of the tank These snails being detritus feeders also replace the need for hermit crabs which are in fact predators. <Okay! Thank you for your input. Bob Fenner>  Are these snails good for sand sifting? Will 250 make a huge difference in my 250 gallon tank? I have a major algae problem.  <Mmm, would have to try and see...>
Re: snails Read my questions...The info on the bottom is just info from some fish website.  11/23/05 The information below about the snails I found on the website that I ordered them from.. Will they sift through my sand and consume waste products? <Sorry for the lost response yesterday. The only "way" to tell if these snails will "do" what you'd like is to actually try them. How to state this more fully... Each system's make-up being different, some species of snails live, eat what aquarists intend... for a time, or not depending on water chemistry, physical make-up, types of other livestock, microbial, macrobial life...> Are they as good as Tongan Nassarius? I am having a major algae problem in my tank so I need something to sort through my sand. What would you recommend? <I do not recommend snails period for reef aquarium algae control. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the linked files above> I have not received my snail order yet but I can cancel if they are not good sifters.  The snails that I ordered are the Nassarius obsoleta.. Are they what I need to get the job done? <Won't likely solve your algae problem, no... Read. Bob Fenner> 

Lawnmower Blenny as Biological Algae Control/Compatibility  9/24/05 Hi, <Hi Chris, Adam J with you.> I've written to you a few times now, and always have obtained great help from you guys.....Cheers. I'd just like to run this one past you. I have a 30 gal tank, with a fair amount of green hair algae but it actually looks more like a very delicate Caulerpa variety. If I leave it unchecked, it takes over some regions of the tank. As fish, I have a maroon clown, six-line wrasse, blue damsel and a midas blenny. A few corals too. All have been in the tank about a year now. I know mixing blennies is not wise, but my midas swims around a fair amount and has only one home in the tank, so would it be safe to add a lawnmower blenny to keep the algae in check, or will there be war? <To be honest your tank has a heavy stocking load already so I can't recommend adding any more fish to your tank.  Also you are right to be nervous about the introduction of one blenny to another that is already established.> <<And a thirty is just too small for this species. RMF>> Before the midas I had a bicolor blenny, but he started chewing on my Turbinaria, so he flew out. Will a lawnmower blenny develop a taste for coral tissue? <I have seen reports of aquarists claiming that lawnmower started nipping at polyps but personal observation tells me it's the algae in-between the coral rather than the coral itself.  To compensate for your algae problems look into means of nutrient export such as water changes, protein skimmers and refugiums.> Cheers for your ideas, <Anytime.> Chris <Adam J.>

Algae eating helper or expensive snack? 8/30/05 Good morning Bob, <Is this... Thomas Stearns... from the grave?> Let me first start by thanking you for the sound advice we have received from you over the years, once again here I am with a question.  Our 72 gallon tank has been converted to a more aggressive habitant tank.  It presently houses a Lunar Wrasse and a Picasso Trigger.  Both enjoy a great amount of space and freedom (the trigger known as "Pablo" ripped apart a 3 year old bristle star that we had) as well as the convenience of being fed at least twice a day.  During the last tank cleaning I noticed that the top was getting scummier and that the glass was coated with algae more often. The water within is great, the tank hold over 100 pounds of live rock, 2 inches of live sand, a Fluval 304, powerheads (3) and skimmer complete the assemble.  The question is; 1. What kind of crab, snail, and invertebrate can I put in this tank that would help, and? <None that the fish wouldn't destroy... It's you... with the strong forearms...> 2. What other kind of fish would find a home here? <Mmm, may seem odd, but you're "topped-off" stock-wise... this system and its current occupants would not likely tolerate an addition> Sincerely, "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." - T.S. Elliot <"Che credesse"... Bob Fenner>

Algae Hi Crew,  <Hi Sam> I have a small 10 gallon (22 months) with an algae problem that started about 4 weeks ago. I have been trying to do all that you recommend plus I added 6 turban snails (not sure what their real name is) and they are on the glass all the time. And I put in 3 lettuce slugs which are supposed to like hair algae. All my algae is cleaned up except for the hair algae. It  is not getting worse but these slugs are just gliding right over it. Now I am worried that these creatures are going to starve because there is nothing else for them to eat. <More than likely.>  By the way hair algae does have something positive to it. My tank is now loaded with pods and you can see all sizes and shapes in the hair algae. Any ideas would be appreciated.  <I don't know what your fish load is, but you might try a sailfin blenny (lawnmower blenny). They are very good at cleaning up most hair algae. James (Salty Dog)> <<NO! A ten gallon tank is too small for a Salarias blenny. RMF>>

What fish eat algae We have a 37 gallon tank with: 1 neon Dottyback 1 tomato clown 1 pink tipped anemone 1 blue damsel We need something to eat algae out of our tank but we can't fit a tang into our system. Do you know what we could use to eat the algae?  <My choice would be the Lawnmower Blenny, sometimes sold as the Sailfin Blenny. James (Salty Dog)>

Bad Algae Control, Bad Punctuation >Hello again >>Hello. I'd like to kindly ask that, for all future correspondence you please use proper capitalization and punctuation, and especially NO netspeak. You'll notice that I have retyped your whole message. >Sorry to pester you, so I'll try to make this quick again. I read on your site for algae control, Turbo/Astrea snails were recommended as well as hermit crabs. My tank is 45 gallons and I have 2 Turbos, and about 5 or so hermit crabs, can you give me a species/how many to add? Thanks again. >>Hermits should be limited to about 1/ten gallons actual volume. The Trochus snail may also be helpful, but not a one of these creatures actually addresses the root CAUSE of problem/nuisance algae. If you're really having a problem and you cannot sort how to control nutrients (which is the main thrust of our nuisance algae control FAQs/articles - do re-read all), then I suggest re-evaluating your set up/husbandry procedures. Also, I'll recommend a slim tome by Julian Sprung, "Algae: A Problem Solver Guide". He addresses both desirable and nuisance algae here, very helpful. Marina 

Saltwater Algae Eaters I have a new 30 gallon saltwater aquarium which I setup January 1. After 2 months I got the nitrogen cycle established and added my first permanent fish last week, a gold banded maroon clownfish. <It sounds as if you are on the right track so far.> Brown algae has begun to form on the live sand substrate, the glass walls, and artificial rockwork. <This is common and expected in newly established marine aquariums. You are not alone on this one.> The tank has been getting about an hour of direct sunlight each morning for the past two weeks due to the angle of the sun. That will soon no longer be the case as the sun gets higher in the sky. <Light is not usually the issue where a pest algae species is concerned, as is popular belief. Most pest algae are a result of excessive nutrients, such as nitrates and phosphates, in the water.> Can you recommend an algae eater for this type of tank? <I can recommend several, but I would be unable to guarantee whether or not they would make a dent in - or even go after - your pest algae species. Herbivores are also generally messy eaters, releasing fragments - and consequently spores - of your beloved algae back into the main tank when they dine. Also, their feces only contribute to the nutrients in your system, feeding the growth of more algae. Indeed, some herbivores are outstandingly efficient at what they do, but that often leads to their demise as they consume all of the algae in the home aquarium, only to effectively starve themselves. That said, herbivores are a wonderful means of keeping pest algae in check, but should not be used to eliminate it. I would recommend your correction of the cause of the problem (excess nutrients), as opposed to trying to mask it (herbivores to consume algae). There are several products on the market made specifically to absorb phosphates and nitrogenous wastes, though simple, regular water changes are just as effective as these products in most cases. As a side note, your algae problem may just go away with time. Remember, your tank is still new and establishing itself. Good luck, Mike G>

Stocking 75 gallon Marine System & Covering Unwanted Holes Hi WWM Guys, <Hello Spencer> I have a 75 gal with live rock and a varied number of snails that I got for algae control as per some articles I read at WWM. My abalone and top crown snails died for some reason but the rest seem to be doing fine. I have some hair algae growing on my live rock but nobody seems to want to eat it. I'm thinking about getting a lawnmower blenny or a black Sailfin blenny to finish up the rest of the algae. Which is going to do better? <The Lawnmower> I prefer the looks of the Black. I also have read article about hermit crabs (scarlet or blue legged) and some guys think they eat algae like crazy and some thing they are a waste. What is the consensus opinion? <Don't think there is one> One last question, I have only one corner for my overflow and the last guy that owned my tank removed the quarter sized punch-outs next to the inlet slots and some of my livestock gets into my overflow then get stuck on my strainer and dies. Is their any devise which stops up the semi-circles that have been removed? Thanks, Spence <I would cut or have cut a thin piece of acrylic sheet, with overflow slots... and adhere (carefully, with acrylic solvent... this in place on the face of your currently modified overflow. Bob Fenner> 

Death to Caulerpa! Hey all, Everyone here has seen my tank. It's a pretty nice tank, and I am proud of most of it. Well, perhaps I should rephrase that. I am proud of everything except my Caulerpa. Grape and Parasail dominate my tank. The grape hitch-hiked on my Ritteri's foot, the Parasail literally grew out of the rocks. I saw it as benign, and left it. Huge mistake. For several months now, I have not seen my rocks. The Grape really does not grow too much, but the parasail does. It covers the rockworks, and has smaller stems and tough roots, making it impossible to extricate.  <I lived through this same problem quite a while ago. Aggressive manual removal which included hand picking and a stiff bristled scrub brush along with dropping the temp allowed grazers to get ahead of it.   Eric Borneman wrote a phenomenal piece on the specific nutrient ratios that favor certain "algae", Cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates, etc. It is hard to find (I recently looked and came up empty). If you can find it, it has some very useful information that could be used to develop a strategy based on manipulating an easily controlled nutrient (Nitrate perhaps).>  It grows over my corals, imbeds its roots in their flesh, and starves them of light. It grows around 4 to 5 inches a day, and will not go away. Daily I pull out about this much:

I have just recently acquired a 6" Sea Hare from IslandReefs.com. The owner there, Tom, says he feeds them Caulerpa as they have run out of hair algae. Sadly, I have yet to see mine even notice the stuff! He just glides right over it without a second glance...eats my Ulva sp. Seaweed, my Nori, my Seaweed Selects, and my Hair Algae, but not my Caulerpa. Tom swears they do, but I have yet to verify that. <I have also heard the claim that these guys will eat Caulerpa, but I would try and find out which kind they actually did eat. With such a noxious battery of defensive chemicals, it is very likely that some might be more or less palatable. Also, it is likely that Caulerpa will only be consumed as a last resort. If other foods are offered or available, they would be eaten first. So, you may have to starve the See Hare into eating it.> What other means are there of naturally controlling Caulerpa? I do know that a specialized species of sacoglossan Slug, Oxynoe viridis consumes Caulerpa and Caulerpa only. I also know that no online vendor or local vendor sells them. Help! I HATE MY CAULERPA! Mike Giangrasso <You could take your cue from the loonies about San Diego bay and in Australia and put a big tarp over it... Oh, No! Even better.... blast it with bleach. Wait! Huge doses of Copper Sulfate delivered with a fire hose! OK, all of those ideas would kill everything in your tank, just like they killed everything in the immediate area they were applied in the wild. And for our next stupid human trick, we'll rid Hawaii of chameleons by exfoliating the whole place with Agent Orange (the herbicide, not the 80's Orange County surf-punk band). Sorry for the sarcastic rant. As for the O. viridis, try IPSF, Inland Aquatics and do a search on RC. Those are your best bets. Hope this helps.  AdamC.> 

Sea Hare (Dolabella auricularia) question 2/3/05 Hi, We have a local reef club and are thinking of making a group order for the Dolabella auricularia from Blowfish Aquatics. They are supposed to be great algae eaters (will even eat Cyano).  <Good... becoming voracious when large! Although effective, the tremendous appetite of these critters becomes a problem when they deplete the available algae.> The owner of Blowfish says that several have released ink at one time in their tanks with no harm to any fish, etc.  <It is possible that ink release is completely harmless, but keep in mind that your LFS's system is probably at least many hundreds of gallons and may be elaborately filtered. Would this still be harmless in your home aquarium... I don't know. In any case, if you are desperate to solve your algae problems and want to risk it, I would advise running carbon continuously while you have this animal, and be prepared to move them around from aquarist to aquarist as they deplete available food from each tank.> However, we can't find anything on the web that says they do or don't produce deadly toxin when scared or when they die. Before we order, we are hoping you can advise us.  <See this article by Dr. Rob Toonen: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/oct2004/invert.htm and note the interactions listed for various animals that come in contact with the ink. Also note that the size of the system used for the testing is not specified.> Thanks for any help you can provide! <Hope this helps! Best Regards. AdamC.>

Cleaning algae Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2005 Hello WetWeb crew.<Hello Terry>  I have some algae growing on the inside glass of my SW tank that my scrubber magnet won't clean. Would some snails help. If so what kind would you recommend. <Snails do help but don't expect miracle results. I would probably go with the Trochus snail.>  I have read that Turbos can't upright and eventually die. <Yes if they are inverted they are not able to upright themselves. When people purchase Turbos from my dealer he doesn't put water in the bag with them for that reason. James (Salty Dog)>

Starfish and Other Questions (1/11/05) Hi there!  Recently found your website--very interesting and helpful, particularly for the new tank enthusiasts! Thanks! <Steve Allen with you tonight and glad to be of service.> We set up a 46gal. tank the first week of September '04. Had problems with algae (to say the least--it looked like an algae farm, or forest), so sought help from [all] our local shops. We are now proud owners of innumerable snails, hermits, emerald and other crabs. <Many crabs are not reef safe, and many do not eat algae.> Also 2 gobies and 2 sand sifting stars sand-colored).  We were told these critters would control algae and help keep natural balance in tank, and no need to worry about special foods. <Not true. As mentioned above, many crabs do not eat algae. Some hermits do, but not generally effective for control. Many snails are helpful. Sand-shifting stars not at all. Your tank is too little substrate to sustain two of these, if even one. It will strip you substrate of all beneficial micro-critters as well. Serpent stars are better scavengers, and I much prefer a fleet of Nassarius snails for stirring sand.> One star died within 2 weeks. We are learning you rarely get responsible or thoughtful answers or advice. <Regrettably, not a few LFS employees are more interested in your wallet than your success.> Apparently, by purchasing them, we unknowingly agreed to starve some if not all of our new pets. Unacceptable. There must be SOMETHING we can do....? <Read up on this site and elsewhere about the requirements for each of your critters. I heartily recommend Fenner & Calfo's "Reef Invertebrates." Also, for algae ID and control, try Julian Sprung's "Algae: A Problem Solver Guide." Anyway, I noted someone else asked you about feeding stars already in captivity, but there was no definitive answer regarding whether, once the deed's done and you have a star, there's anything at all that can be done to keep it from starving. <It may take frozen Mysis and other frozen marine foods placed on the sand.> If needed, I'll release it in the wild, but would prefer to feed it, as apparently the waters off the east coast of South Florida are contaminated and dangerous...? <PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, NEVER, EVER, EVER release any captive critter into the wild under any circumstance. This is illegal in most places and terrible for the environment. Such critters can overrun and destroy native species. Have you not heard of the mussels in the Great Lakes, bird-eating snakes in Guam, or the Northern Snakehead in eastern US lakes? Please visit www.invasivespecies.gov for info. It is far better to humanely kill a critter you can't find another owner for than to release it. Can't you just return the star to the LFS where you bought it? I see no harm in trying to feed it in your tank. Just be careful not to put too much food into your system as excess nutrients are algae fertilizer.> Please let me know if there's anything I should try, and also if there's some limit to the amount of other sorts of tank cleaners one should keep?  We were told the more the merrier, but we are obviously having doubts now... <The more the merrier for the LFS's bottom line. You will notice on the internet that all recommendations for large "cleaning crews" come from folks who make money selling them to you. A couple of dozen effective snails, maybe a dozen hermit crabs, and a couple of serpent stars (not Ophiarachna incrassata) would be a good start for your tank.> Thanks!  Marina <Hope this helps.>

SW Plecostomus? Hello Dr. Fenner, <Just Bob please. I have no doctorate degree> I saw your photo of the Plecostomus and was wondering if a fish with similar grazing habits exists for a marine/reef systems ?  I really enjoy your work! Thanks Steve Vales <Not catfishes... but there are algae eating fishes and invertebrates who utilize similar feeding strategies, feed on equivalent types of algae. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algeatrcontfaqs.htm and on to the FAQs 2... linked, in blue, at top. Bob Fenner>

Fish to eat algae? Hi There, Could you tell me of a good fish to keep in a 75 gallon tank with a maroon clown and a domino damsel.  I'm looking for a fish which will eat the green grass like algae on one of my pieces of life rock but leave my mushroom corals alone??  Any ideas??  << This is my favorite question in weeks.  I like it because there are so many options.  I guess I'd recommend a Kole or Yellow Eye tang.  They do a pretty good job of eating algae and are great tank mates.  Otherwise maybe a lawnmower blenny. >> I like the idea of a dwarf angel but am afraid he may nibble on the mushrooms. Thanks for such a great website, Simon. <<  Blundell  >>

Tang with ich, what do I do? Dear Adam,   I guess I had my hands in the tank one too many times ... Over the past week, I was making a lot of circulation changes -pretty much adding or removing a pump every alternate day. Today I installed the surface skimmer box to my remora pro. Six hours later my Kole tang is down with Ich!!! << Yep, sounds like too much stress. >>   All my livestock was quarantined for 3-4 weeks. The tank was fallow for 10 weeks the last time I had ich -march 2003. Unfortunately I made the mistake of introducing the Kole tang last June with just 2 days in QT -he was very miserable in the QT I was ready to give up the hobby due to a hair algae problem that he solved. That decision is now haunting me.... << We all have tough times in this hobby. >>   I just set up the QT today with water from the display. Tomorrow I'll be tearing up my 80 lbs of live rock to catch my three fish. << I wouldn't do that.  I'd wait it out. >> I'm planning to have the orchid Dottyback and ocellaris clown in the 10G QT, and the Tang separately in a 50G tub with 15G of water. Alas my spare skimmer will be on the 10G. Since the tang is the only one with symptoms, I want to treat him separately from the other two. Does this make sense? << It makes sense, but I wouldn't remove the fish and treat them. >>   After treatment, and a 8 week fallow period, I intend to introduce the clown and Pseudochromis back to the display. As for the tang, I've realized that a 72G isn't big enough for such an active animal... Would an abalone or some of the less toxic seaslugs keep the glass and live rock hair algae free? << Lots of snails. >> Or do you see a blenny in my future. Tangs are definitely out until I get a 6+ foot tank someday! << I really wouldn't remove the fish and go fallow.  If it were me I'd just leave everything alone.  I think you will cause more problems. Hermits and snails are the best for algae control, and I'd stick with them. >> Thank You, Narayan <<  Blundell  >>

Algae consumer search Dear Bob, I'm beginning to have a hair algae outbreak in my reef (29 gal).  Being in the hobby 30+ I do all the correct things to prevent as little nutrients for the algae as possible.  Water changes (10%) done on a weekly basis with Reef Crystals.  Using tap water for mix.  Never could measure any nitrates or phosphates in my tap water.  I just don't believe using RO/DI water is drastically going to change the algae growth.  What suggestions would you have for an algae consumer?  Preferably a fish, but not necessary.  I understand lawnmower blennies (had one before) are selective on the type of algae they eat. Thanks, Salty Dog <Hello, MikeB here to help today.  Even though the tap water doesn't show phosphates or nitrates that doesn't mean that there are not any in the water.  Another element that is in tap water is silicates and even iron.   Those too can cause algae growth and can be mitigated by the use of RO/DI water.  The best fish for that size tank is a lawnmower blenny.  Any tangs would easily out grow that size tank.  Hermit crabs, Emerald crabs and various types of snails will also help with the situation.  Good Luck MikeB.>

Marine system algae bloom I have a 75 gallon marine aquarium that recently had an algae bloom in which I lost some of my favorites.  I have done water changes faithfully and it appears I am winning the war.  However I still have some bubble and green hair algae.  So recently I added 2 green myth. crabs and I do have a few scarlet and blue Mexican hermits...my question is how many "cleaners" and what type can be maintained in a 75 gallon tank? <Not able to state given the provided information... more than you list if you have a good deal of live rock> What type and how many should I have to keep my tank healthy?   <Up to you... what you consider "healthy"... You should read through WetWebMedia.com re set-up, maintenance aspects in lieu of such "crews"> Many places sell the big "attack packs" which I purchased when I originally set the tank up about 2 years ago.  The quantity seems like overkill, and indeed I did see the "cleaners" thin out in number.  Your wise advice is, as always, gratefully accepted. Thanks, Jeff Wagner <We agree as to these "kits"... read my friend... there are many ways to get you where you want to go... nutrient limitation, export... rather than establishing predator-prey relations twixt producers (algae in this case) and consumers. See WWM re. Bob Fenner>

Red slime eater?  11/9/04 I've read that a Foxface will eat nuisance algae.  Will it eat red slime?  <No> Will any other fish eat red slime?  <None with much gusto> Which hermits or snails will eat it?  <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and the related articles and FAQs files (linked, in blue, at top)> I seem to get an outbreak a couple of times a year.  I have treated my tank with UltraLife Red Slime Remover with good results (red slime gone, coralline algae stays, fish unaffected), <Things are not always as they appear> but I would prefer a natural alternative.  FYI, I have a 125 FOWLR with 25 gal sump (usually filled about halfway), 130 pounds live rock, AquaC EV120 skimmer, no other filtration, 1500 gph circulation, 6ft PC SmartLight (192W 50/50) on for 10 hours a day.  Water changes 10 gals every 10 days with top offs as needed, all using tap water aerated for 1-2 days.  Usual temp 77, SG 1.017, ammonia and nitrite zero, nitrates 10-20.  Any comments greatly appreciated. <Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Brown hair algae I have a 72 gal bowfront w/ approx 60 lbs of live rock , a 4'dsb , a AquaC remora pro skimmer, 2 250 MH 10000 k , and CSL t4 hooked closed loop to a SCWD. also I have a chiller and Eheim 2227 wet dry. enough about tank, recently I have had an explosion of brown hair algae growth, I don't use ro but the only thing my tap water "deep well" is high in is silicates, my tank levels run around.06 <Youch that is very high. And silicates can feed some types of algae growth.> I have no detectable ammonia , nitrate, nitrite, or phosphate. my sg is 1.023 chiller set at 78 I add tech cb for calcium I ad strontium and iodine. what is causing the sudden explosion of growth and how do I stop it,<The silicates definitely may be feeding it. I know I had to remove some sand with silicates in it for the same reason.> is a ro going to be a "silver bullet" at this , I don't have room for the ro collection drum in my home, I would love to get an ro though, <Understandable.> is there anything that will eat brown hair algae? I currently have a yellow tang and a lawnmower blenny. <I've had turbo's that would eat it but I didn't get the impression they liked it as they moved through it as fast as possible. I've also been told green Mithrax crabs will eat it.> as well as snails and hermits. I haven't done any drastic changes but just had an explosion in hair algae growth and the tang, blenny, snails wont touch the stuff. I have heard that a lettuce nudibranch will eat the hair? <They will eat Bryopsis, perhaps you need to go to algaebase.org and make sure what you have is brown hair algae?> if what will, this stuff has covered 30% of my tank in one week, I try manual remove but don't even make a dent, it is attached so hard I have to use tweezers.  <I have taken a bucket of salt water and scrubbed every rock etc and then returned them to the tank before.  You don't mention what your ph is. Dripping Kalk seems to help get rid of hair algae by raising and making more stable your ph.>   any help would be greatly appreciated. <Let me also suggest you read through these Faq's and see what you can find there to help as well http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brownalgcontfaqs.htm  Good luck, MacL>

Curing live rock and Herbivore choices 7/29/04 Thanks Adam. I'll pass on the tusk and the marine Betta! I'm currently finding out how smelly the process of curing live rock really is!!! BTW, I have Fiji live rock from LiveAquaria.com and it is waaaaay better than anything I've seen at any LFS (here in Rhode Island or in NYC) for 3 to 4 times as much. Having to cure it is the only downside!<Curing your own rock is a lot of smelly work, but you can end up with a far superior product.  Do keep up with the water changes for the good of your nose and the life on the rock!> As for herbivorous fish, would the flame angel be 'herbivorous' enough or would I really need a rabbit fish? I'd really like something less high strung than a tang, but more active than a blenny.  Thank You, Narayan <Centropyge angels are decent herbivores, but will probably get a lot of their diet from prepared foods you feed.  Most Tangs and rabbit fish are quite "energetic" to put it nicely, but not a lot of middle ground exists between them and blennies.  Do consider tangs of the genus Ctenochaetus (Bristletooths) like the Kole or chevron.  They tend to be fairly tolerant and are excellent herbivores.  Best Regards.  Adam>

OTC algae attack packs How's it going over there? <Hi Sean, MacL here.> I was wondering if the algae attack packs which they sell (which include   scarlet reef crabs, turbo snails, and dwarf red tip hermit crabs), would eat the beautiful coralline algae found on live rock. Do you think it is worth adding algae attack packs to aquariums with live rock? <I can only tell you that from my experience they will eat coralline algae.> Sean F.

Reef System install and HTML issues on WWM I own and have read your book "Reef Invertebrates" Calfo and Fenner 2003; I agree it is an excellent resource. In addition I own and have read the following (approximate titles since they are at home and not at work) : Reef Secrets, The New Marine Aquarium, Corals for the Mini-Reef Aquarium, Your First Marine Aquarium, Natural Approach to Marine Reef Aquaria, and read all of your plumbing FAQs and Articles. <Okay> I started studying toward the goal of a Marine Reef Aquarium in my living room over a year ago and took the message to heart about patience. I ordered the tank in November and just got an intact one delivered this week. Previously the LFS delivered a tank but it was chipped for about five inches along one of the back corners of the glass and I rejected the delivery because I didn't want to put some 1500 pounds of salt water into a six foot long aquarium with some chips in the glass. <You were wise to refuse this tank> I have previously printed and read the whole plumbing section out of your website even though on both the printers at home and at work the last right-hand several characters are missing which makes reading it more challenging. <I'll bet... there may be some HTML issues... I am not well-versed in their repair but will cc Jason.C here who is> Since I got your e-mail below I spoke to the people at the LFS and spoke on the phone to Mr. Leng Sy about Ecosystems. Over the weekend I went out and bought a 46 gallon bow front which I set up in the dining room as a marine reef with an EcoSystem 60 for filtration, two 175 gph powerheads, about 28 pounds of live rock, 30 pounds of sugar sand oolitic type, and 10 lbs of live sand. I justified this as a combination experiment and as a species tank for an orange eye urchin for the future since obviously the urchin wouldn't be particularly reef safe for the 155 gallon. I spoke to an additional person at Ecosystem who happened to be female and she said that Tangs were good to use to cycle the tank as they were very hardy; my husband had wanted a lemon tang and I got a small one and plan to move him to the 6 foot long tank after it is ready in October. <Mmm, I do not concur that Tangs are good to cycle marine systems... in fact, I am a fan of not using live fishes period for this task> Meanwhile, my main question is, if the tank is for an urchin does that mean it should be the only algae grazer in the system besides the Tang or should I follow the advice about 1 blue legged crab per gallon, etc. for other algae eaters. We would like to have a tomato clown and its anemone in the tank, one urchin, the tank for awhile until it moves, and then perhaps a bicolor Pseudochromis. Please advise as to what other livestock would be appropriate: should I get brittle stars, etc? What corals can stand being around the urchin? I got a glass lid with a light with two u-shaped power compact fluorescents. I only have about 1/2 inch of sand in the whole bottom because Leng Sy said so. I have been planning to have a 5" deep live sand bed and two protein skimmers on the other 155 gallon tank. <I would hold off on all other "algae eaters" for now... and add what you will at a later time after this system has been up a few months. Much easier on all concerned> Thank you, Laura <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Bio-Load Question Hello Guys, <Hi! Ryan with you today> Just to preface this message, I attempted to check the WWW site for possible answers to my question, however the page could not be viewed (could not find server error ). Anyway, I hope you don't mind. <Not at all- and I bet you learned a ton in the process as well> It seems I am almost daily (maybe some exaggeration but not much) pruning the Caulerpa/algae within my 180G, 200lbs (Florida LR), Hamilton MH and PC's (12 hour cycle), 30G sump, Shorty Turbo Skimmer with Rose anemone, Squamosa Clam, (2) Dottyback, various Mushrooms, and various Zoanthus, numerous (100's) snails/crabs . I have about 10 different kinds of Caulerpa /plants/algae (red/green/tan) including: Halimeda, Grape, Feather, Red Macroalgae, Brown Macroalgae, and what looks like Red Turf.  I am considering the purchase a couple different species of tangs, and blenny to assist with algae control, a Yellowstripe Clownfish for the anemone and 3-4 Blue/Green Chromis for continuous viewing. <OK> My questions are: Am I being overly concerned with this pruning deal <No, and if the algae grows, then there are nutrients to export.>  and am I over populating this tank and causing too heavy a bioload. <You're looking at adding some fish here- they certainly could help.  A Foxface may be a better algae consumer than a blenny, in my opinion.  I would keep it to 2 tang sized fishes, and you could add quite a few damsels for a school.  The clown is acceptable as well.  As long as you stock slowly enough for the bacterial populations to keep up without a crash, I think you're balancing out quite nicely.> Any response will be welcome. You guys are the best to lend your time and suggestions to paranoids like me. <I'm just another paranoid my friend- But instead of being worried about just my tanks, I worry about yours too!  See ya, Ryan>

Valonia and Mithrax (3/13/04)   Greetings and a huge thanks to all you in the crew for providing me and others such invaluable guidance, in the year I've been reading the posts daily, my tanks are UNBELIEVABLE!! Everything is growing and thriving at exponential rates. <Good to hear.> Which brings me to my question. I am getting a ton of green bubbles popping up all over the live rock in my 40 gal reef. I know nutrient control is the issue, and I've greatly cut back my feedings, tweaked my Remora for optimal skimming, and do 2 gallon water changes twice a week religiously. I have been hearing more negative than positive comments lately about Mithrax crabs being destructive and difficult at best to remove when larger, so I'm hesitant at putting one (or any crab) in my system. <Wise to be cautious.>   Additionally, it seems to be the general consensus that in trying to remove Valonia (various species) one has to be very careful not to puncture the "bubble" so as to not release spores into the water column. My question is: if I do put a Mithrax crab in, isn't that exactly what they do, puncture the algae, and consume it (if they have a liking for it) so why does it not spread under these circumstances? <Some risk I suppose, but does seem to work for some.> What are your thoughts on just slicing the bubbles open as soon as I see them appear (i.e. real small) with a razor blade? <Vacuuming them off would probably do better. Anthony & Bob's book (Reef Invertebrates) recommends attaching a toothbrush to the end of the siphon. That way you can suck up spores as the bubble bursts. Another option would be to remove rocks that are heavily infested and scrub all the Valonia off in a bucket of saltwater before returning the rock to the tank.> Doing this persistently, would the situation get worse, or better, not allowing any to reach a size greater than 1/8th inch? <I would worry a bit about making it spread more. Your nutrient control approach is vitally important to successfully controlling this algae.> I was thinking doing this, the skimmer and other inhabitants would consume/remove any spores that may get released.. <Will help to some degree.>   Other than that my tank is looking awesome, and in less than 3 months running, the ENTIRE back face of the tank is totally encrusted in what appears to be at least 4 colors of coralline algae, and the fauna is exploding! ((I chose not to add any fish until 6 mo. to a year) <Your patience will be richly rewarded. Keep up the good work. Choose your fish carefully and quarantine them.> Thanks again for all you've done to assist! keep up the good work. Blair <A pleasure. Hope this helps.>

Long spined sea urchin... excellent algae grazers 2/11/04 I just bought a long spined sea urchin a couple of days ago.  I was told at the pet shop that they eat algae off the glass of the aquarium and fine particles in the sand.   <they were exactly correct> Now I have been reading on the internet that it was in the past common practice for divers to kill sea urchins because of the negative effect they have on the reefs.   <not exactly... urchins are direly needed for reef health (as evidenced by the struggles of the Caribbean and other reefs without them). The only reference I can think of is in reference to the stupid practice of fisheries (for kelp) killing them. But that was for $/commerce... not reef health> I have a small amount of live rock in my 75 gallon aquarium (about 15lbs) Would I be wasting my time getting anymore?   <few are needed. Stick with what you have likely> I have been getting live rock a little at a time when I see neat pieces.  My last question is, will starfish destroy a reef tank too? <depends on the starfish... brittle and serpent stars are safe... most others are not. Read more about them here on our website and in our new book "Reef Invertebrates" by Calfo and Fenner. Anthony>

- Jeweled/Lawnmower Blenny - I posed the following in the marine fish forum to deafening silence! :-) So I am sending the message directly to the crew in the hopes of some input from you. Thanks in advance for any advice. Hello, I purchased a Lawnmower Blenny to get an algae problem under control. It is currently in my quarantine tank with a handful of Caulerpa that I don't really know whether it is eating. Does anyone have a clever way of finding out if this animal is eating it? <Perhaps only put a little bit of food algae in there... but I must caution you, even though many call this the 'lawnmower' blenny, it doesn't eat all algaes, only certain types and I don't think Caulerpa is one of them.> It mostly hides from me whenever I'm near the tank. It has been in my QT almost a week and I am giving it two weeks in the QT before "go-live date" in my geekspeak vernacular. :-) <Sounds fine to me.> My tank is a 30G and as such, I assumed it would not be large enough to sustain this animal long-term. That's OK, because my LFS will take it back for 50% purchase cost, and that's fine with me to "rent" such a worthy animal for this purpose. <Makes sense.> However, my tank does produce a healthy amount of algae owing to my very high light output - 30G tank is lit with three 90-watt VHO tubes for a total of 9 watts per gallon. I understand the benchmark for keeping one of these happily well-fed is a 55-G tank. However, many 55G tanks are lit by less than 270 watts total! Is this a factor and can I keep this worthy pet possible? <Well... the 55 benchmark as you call it has as much to do with surface area - your lighting will help, but the blenny might well consume everything quicker than it can grow back.> Or must I go back to plan A and return him to the LFS after a month or so of fattening up? <Time will tell.> Thanks for any help or insights. Paul <Cheers, J -- >

Red Collar Snails Hey Crew, <Howdy (My man!) Curtis> Went out today looking for some new snails to help combat some recent algae growth in my tank.  My LFS was all sold out of my usual (turbo and Astreas), but had a few Red Collar Snails (also found them named Red Foot Moon Snails... or Norrisia).  I've seen them there and at a few other places fairly often, and the employee told me they were pretty good at combating slimy algaes, not to mention they look pretty cool to boot, so I picked up 3 of them to throw in the mix (55gal/60 lbs LR/ 15-20 Astreas/ 10 Turbos/ 20 Red Leg Hermits/ 20 Blue Leg Hermits/ 5 or so unidentified random snail stragglers). <Mmm...> Now that I'm home and admiring them, I've been trying to find some info on them.  Really have found very little so far... Seems they like cooler temperatures (below 74 degrees) which is not so good with my tank (78-80).  Not much discussion about them on the boards either... I found a few posts recommending against them, but not much else.  Do you all know what their deal is?  I'm guessing the beef on them is because they like the cooler temps, but I'm not quite sure, yet.  As I see them often, I've got to assume that people buy them... If you have any insight with regards to people having success with these... or lack there of, I'd love to hear.   <Thanks for bringing this up (the use of cool/coldwater organisms in tropical settings)... Ahem, Norrisia norrisi... is actually in the same family as many of the snails used for the purpose you state (Trochidae)... but is abidingly a cold to cool water (usually found in no more than 60 F.... NOT a tropical animal. I would not sell, would not use such in warm water. Bob Fenner> Regards, Curtis!

Indian Ocean v. Red Sea Sailfin III 11/11/03 In Calfo and Fenner's new book Reef Invertebrates they list Z. veliferum as a potential bubble algae control creature;  did they mean to include all members thereof  (including the Pacific or Hawaiian Sailfin) or is the Desjardin Sailfin the one commonly believed in aquaristics to be the right candidate? <as stated in the last e-mail, my friend... they are the same species (Desjardin/red sea Sailfin is simply a Z. veliferum) but anecdotally they are believed to be more inclined to rasp bubble algae: <<it is possible that a race of fishes (same species...different locale) is evolved or predisposed to eating some prey items over another. There is a strong belief in aquaristics that this is the case with the Red Sea Sailfin>> best regards, Anthony>

Fish Selection Dilemma  Hello Crew,  Truly appreciate all that you guys do in helping us newbies get on with our new found hobby! I have a quick question. I have a 45 gal tank (FOWLR) that has been up and running for almost a year now. Current inhabitants are 1 Clown, 1 Firefish, 1 Scooter Blenny, 1 Peppermint shrimp, several Hermits & Snails. I have about 50lbs of LR. This is where my problem resides. This rock is really top shelf stuff. The problem is that it is covered with Caulerpa. The stuff just keeps o growing. I've been very careful feeding the fish and have the protein skimmer (CPR BakPak 2R) on full all the time. I pull out about 2 - 3oz of skimmate (dark tea color) every other day or so. Phos = zero. Not sure where the added nutrients are coming from to fuel the growth! Any ideas? I've removed much of the long stuff and every couple of weeks, I dive in to remove any growth I can grab. I was in one of the LFS in my area and was discussing this problem. They had suggested a Foxface or Yellow/Blue Tang to help maintain the Caulerpa growth.  All that I have been told re: the yellow tang is that some eat the stuff and others don't bother with it. From what was demonstrated to me in the LFS, the Foxface appears to really go for the stuff. The Dilemma: I have only a 45 Gal tank and believe that neither fish would do well, right (needs more space)? If not these guys, what other fish could help with the Caulerpa, get along with the others and be happy in a smaller environment? There was one other suggestion from the LFS: remove each piece of LR and "scrub" off the Caulerpa. I really don't want to do that!  <hi Rick I would add a fox or yellow tang, get them smaller they will have plenty of room and will help prune Caulerpa thanks Mike H>

Algae Woes? >Hi Marina, Jorell here, it's been a long time.  I hope you are well. >>Hello Jorell, doing fine, thank you.   >I have been feeding the Majestic Purple Laver, and she just gulps it down.  She is doing fine.  I found this real cheap (well cost effective) Chinese made skimmer venturi style in my LFS and gave it a shot, and it works like a charm the pump and skimmer cost me $36.00 that's good huh? So much for the news. >>That is a great price.  Who'da thunk it? >Ok I was just reading about algae control and this person who, well, "over succeeded", why can't I be so lucky?  I am fighting a battle with a type of hair algae at the moment, I am sure that the new skimmer will help but I want to identify it and find out if the lawnmower blenny will eat it, also what other marine creatures will?  I have tried a few and nothing seemed to touch it with the exception of my Paraglyphidodon oxyodon who picks on it from time to time which is not enough. >>As I can see by the picture, this much is clear.  Have you considered abalone?  They can be quite voracious in their habits, but care must be taken that they always have enough algae to eat lest they starve once clearing a system. >I have found a picture of it on the web that I am attaching, hope you can help with identifying it. >>Ah, I see, so this isn't the algae in YOUR tank?  If you have this much growth or more, then consider a small tropical abalone.  There is no guarantee the Lawnmower blenny will do this job, it tends to be rather hit or miss.  Other than that, my significant other "rented" a yellow tang when his setup was new and it took care of the problem very quickly (in a 135gal).  Hope this helps, and do take care.  Marina

Too LITTLE Algae??   >WWM Gunk Guru: >>Surely you can't mean ME. >After months of fighting hair algae and Cyano-slime, I seem to have suddenly reversed fortunes. I have a Lawnmower (Jeweled Rockskipper) Blenny that has feasted for months since the setup of my 100 gallon reef tank on all kinds of single cell annoyances, gaining a stomach that would make a Hell's Angel proud. To give him some buffet dining partners, I added some small Sally Lightfoot crabs and a Rock Boring Urchin (true name, it's not very exciting to watch) along with 100 small blue leg and red hermit crabs, and about two dozen snails of various flavors. I've also upped my skimmer to an Aqua-C Remora Pro, and setup a nice little ozonizer that spits out 100 mg of O3 per hour and keeps the Redox at about 310 mV or so. I've finally added a juvi Regal tang (Doryiatus disneyus) that has a bottomless stomach for algae ... and, I now have to squint like Clint Eastwood to find any algae at all. The drawback it that I've noticed my Blenny is losing some weight, and the Sally Lightfooters seem to have less and less to munch on. The Rock Boring Urchin cruises over the entire landscape much more frequently in what I assume is a heightened search for yummy green snacks.  So (here's the question, thanks for waiting) >>Believe it or not, my pleasure! >...have I over-controlled my algae? >>It certainly sounds like it, especially if you're relying on the algae alone to meet the dietary needs of these denizens.  Could it be time to consider setting up a 'fuge for macros? >I could stand to give away or lose everything that needs it, except for the Blenny, who was my first fish and has survived major ammonia spikes and a 10-minute fresh air dip... >><GIGGLE!> >Thanks, SLC >>Would it be out of the question to set up a 'fuge or otherwise supplement their diets?  If not, consider either or both options, with the additions of Nori and romaine lettuce.  Otherwise, you may very well indeed have to remove some of these animals, and I would start with the Sally Lightfoot crabs and some snails.  Crabs first, for sure.  I'd like you to keep the urchin, just because it's really boring.  Marina

Amblygobius (actually other) species that eats algae Hi all, <Hello there> I contacted previously about Amblygobius rainfordi, and realize that this is not the fish for me. Thanks for the advice and info. I would still like a goby, and I like the look of the Amblygobius gobies. I for article at WWM it was indicated that some species eat algae. I have a well established 135G tank of 3 years, with a refugium . One of the reasons I am interested is I have heard that they will eat hair and other filmented algae's. I have normal algae growth, but my tangs just won't touch the stuff. Thanks Bryan <Mmm, a few pertinent points to (try to) make. One is that there are some algae species that most all fishes refuse to ingest... perhaps they're unpalatable for chemical, physical reasons... And approaches to these algae control lies elsewhere... Second, there are better blennies for cropping filamentous algae than gobies in general... Look to the genera Salarias, Atrosalarias if your system is large enough. Please use the Google search tool on WWM here for much more. Bob Fenner>

Cutting Up The Carpet (Dealing With Nuisance Algae) - Doin' That Yellow Tang(o) Hey Scott, <Hello again, Jim!> Thanks again for all the help.  No questions tonight (but more are coming!). Just wanted to share a little hair algae experience. <Please do...I have a love/hate relationship with algae, and love to hear about it from other hobbyists!> Bought a rock with several nice little Ricordea mushrooms, only problem was it was covered with hair algae and what I later guessed was Cyanobacteria (maroon-colored fur).  Were the only specimens I could find here so I bought it and thought I could clean the rock before I put it in the display. <Uhh-Ohh...think I know where this is heading...> Wrong!  Soon I had a red and green lawn growing all over the live rock (100 lbs). <Yuck!> Read through all the FAQs.  Tried the tooth brush with a siphon trick. Only seemed to get worse. <A good technique, but a proverbial "band aid"!> So in desperation I bought a yellow tang (also from somewhere in the FAQs) and put him in the tank.  (I know, I will have to be punished for not quarantining the fish, but had been watching him for months in the LFS and I was desperate and only have two other fish in the tank). <We'll let it slide this time, LOL> Anyway, after about five minutes of hiding he went to work.  24 hours later, no hair, no Cyano and the fish seems very happy and healthy. <Sweet! Love to hear that! I'm wondering if your algae may have been something other than Cyanobacteria...Most herbivorous fishes just won't give that stuff the time of day!> He even gingerly shaved the toxic rock, between the mushrooms, and trimmed a featherduster (of hair algae, not feathers).  And what a beautiful fish.  I have never seen anything so yellow. <Yep- now you know why these guys are the perennial favorite of the hobby!> (Now if I could just get him to clean out the skimmer and do the water changes.) <Not to mention, pay for the operating costs of the tank!> Thought it might be worth passing along to anyone suffering from long hair and red fur. Saludos, Jim <Thanks a ton for passing on your experience! Just keep up your good husbandry (nutrient export processes) as well, and you'll have one happy tank for years to come! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

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