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FAQs on Algal Filtration: Troubles, Fixing

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algae turf scrubber; no alg.       6/19/15
Hey Bob,
I pretty much know the answer already, however was asked to ask anyhow.
A buddy of mine, after seeing my ATS pull my nitrates from 60 to 0 in a months, and my po4 from 1.20 to 0 in 6 weeks, wanted in on the action.
He didn't like the look of my diy, because of the bulbs proximity to the water.
He decided to buy one from Santa Monica, the one that floats in your sump, uses leds, and an air bubbler.
Its been ten days, and he's had no growth.
<Mmm; can/could be a few things at play here... Very likely at least an existing "balance" of other micro-organisms that are preventing settling, and/or eating the proposed algae>
His phosphates are at least 2.5, (all my checker can read to) and nitrates are near 100.
<Perhaps just these nutrients being too high... def. a factor. I'd do some serial (daily) large water changes to re-set the dynamic here, dilute the in-solution nutrients>

Were concerned because it was not an inexpensive scrubber.
Here's the catch, when he set it up, i told him to use a timer, on 18 hrs a day, off 6.
He neglected to adhere to that, and has been running the led lights on it 24/7.
<I would def. have a dark period>

There is no growth, and he's trying to tell me that something still should grown.
Would running the lights all the time stop algae from forming?
<Can; yes>
Again, I believe it would, however Im asking because he is the one who spent the money on it and is concerned.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Caulerpa Algae Filter Problems I am emailing you this attachment from South Africa. I hope you can help me as I am desperate. thanks again, Shivy. >> Dear Bob, I am seeking your expert advice on a problem I encountered. My display tank is 1800mm x 600mm x 600mm in dimension (148 gallons in capacity). It contains live rock that fills up the tank almost halfway. My invertebrates consist of two Goniopora corals (Goniopora lobata), a Diurnal coral (Galaxea fascicularis),some species of rock polyps, some tube worms, a Carpet anemone, and another anemone and a Coral banded shrimp. My tank is illuminated by two 150W metal halides (10,000K range), a 30W actinic tube, a 30W marine Glo tube and a 58W blue moon tube from Interpet. My photic period for a day is 10 hours. My display tank is connected to a bottom sump tank (1200mm x 450mm x 450mm).The sump has the appropriate filtration system together with two protein skimmers (Tunze and a Visi-jet). For the first six months or so my tanks inhabitants were thriving and doing well. A month ago I setup a remote tank growing Caulerpa algae. The tank is 1500mm x 450mm x 200mm in dimension. At first I put a couple of Caulerpa strands, now the tank is densely populated with the algae. Since then my inverts were not doing that well at all. They have shrunk and are not opening like before. In spite of me dosing the system with calcium, the calcium levels are still 300ppm.the rest of my parameters are as follows: Nitrate=5ppm;Nitrite=0ppm; Ammonia=0ppm;pH=8.3;Phosphate=0ppm;Carbonate hardiness=12.8dKH and the Alkalinity=4.57meq/L. Now my questions to you are why are my carbonate hardiness and alkalinity levels far to high, could my inverts be suffering from this or is it the low calcium levels and are the Caulerpa algae emitting any bi-product that are affecting my invertebrates. Please let me know how the problem can be resolved as it is a major crisis. I look forward to hearing from you soon. From Shivy, South Africa. >> I think you have a good grasp of what is going on here. I agree that the Caulerpa are removing something(s) from the water too well, and in addition may well be adding some allelopathogenic materials (undesirable chemicals that affect other life) into the water. If it were me, I'd immediately tear out about 90% of the Caulerpa and keep its density down to at most 50% of what it is now.     Whatever it is that you've been doing to bolster your calcium and alkalinity, you need to step up (that is, increase): for a calcium reactor, change/add media and increase CO2 bubble flow, for additives, increase dosage and frequency. In the short term do consider effecting a few consecutive large water changes (50+ gallons) every few days.     I would also suggest the addition of about half a kilo of activated carbon immediately, and another half in a week. This will help remove "color" from the water, and some of the organics that are affecting and being released by your corals.     A few things need to happen, ASAP. A reduction in the affects of the Caulerpa, an addition of necessary elements and compounds... Good luck. Bob Fenner

In Need of Weed? >I currently own a 20 gallon tank with an ecosystem hanging on the back with 5 pounds of "miracle mud".... >>Ok. >Here are the contents of the tank: 30 pounds live rock clown fish banded coral shrimp 10 hermit crabs 4 snails I can't get Caulerpa to live in the ecosystem...it keeps dying..... is there not enough waste for it to survive on yet?   >>I couldn't tell you that, as I don't know how long this has been set up. >I want to start adding some reef contents such as mushrooms and maybe a xenia....but I wanted to wait for the Caulerpa to live? >>Honestly, I've never had a problem growing it.  You haven't mentioned lighting at all, and if you wish to keep other photosynthetic organisms, this is of utmost importance. >My measurements seem to be ok.....I have only measured ammonia nitrate nitrite salinity pH >>And...?? >All of those are ok.... >>That tells me nothing, my friend. >The tank is about 3 months old now and water looks great? >>Ah, very new setup, you're not sure of how the water "looks"?  Looks can be deceiving, as I know of no one who can see nutrients, ammonia, etc., in the water just by looking at it. >Why is the Caulerpa dying...isn't it basically a weed?   >>It can be when its needs are met (light and nutrients). >Does it feed strictly on the waste in the water?   >>No. >That is all I can think of.... >>I can't be of more help without knowing more about your setup, filtration, LIGHTING, test results, kit brand (more important than most folks think), LIGHTING.. did I mention lighting?  I grew MUCH C. taxifolia in my first reef using a homemade bank of mixed fluorescents.  It took a good deal of research to determine lumens and color temperature, though.  Sometimes, some folks just CAN'T get this stuff to grow for them, though, no matter how they try.  Marina     

Macroalgae warfare 10/05/03 Hi Crew! I am discovering for myself the major downside of grape Caulerpa, <indeed... it has been documented to be perhaps the most noxious of an already very noxious genus of algae> which doesn't seem to be the threat of going sexual, especially since I pull out from my 'fuge a cup or so every few days.   <correct... the threat of "going vegetative" is easily skirted by interrupting the 3-6 month life cycle by regular thinning> It's a weed!  Some other algae species seem to survive (such as feather Caulerpa and sawgrass) but not thrive.  My Gracilaria (Ogo) didn't make it and my C. racemosa also couldn't compete.  The Chaetomorpha ball hasn't grown in over two months!  but I guess it's doing the job of removing nutrients, don't you think? <Ahhh... not growing but exporting nutrients? How do you figure? Sounds to me like you've made the mistake of mixing algae that too many folks do. They are very (chemically) competitive with each other. Energies used in warfare could instead be used for good vigor/growth. Please have the discipline to use only one algae species proper in your vegetable filter/refugium. Anthony>
Macroalgae and Grape Caulerpa II 10/6/03
By "doing the job" I meant the grape Caulerpa is doing the job.  It's growing like a weed, hence exporting nutrients.   <true... but imparting many noxious compounds in the process that accumulate and harm or kill some fishes and corals over time> If I had to pick one, I guess you would recommend Chaetomorpha, right?  but it's ugly.   <anything but Caulerpa for most aquarists IMO> The Caulerpas look nice. <agreed... but eye of the beholder. If you are willing to make the necessary and labor-intensive concessions needed to keep this macro, you will do fine. Else, you may suffer from it in time like many folks do. Caulerpene, Caulerpenyne, etc ;) > Also, what do I care if the algae are fighting, as long as they are growing? <because none can excel optimally for wasting energies on warfare... and such allelopathy has been shown to kill desirable reef creatures mixed unnaturally with a preponderance of this algae. You really are not very well read on this genus of macros... please do help yourself with a delve into more data on the subject to keep it safely long-term. Best regards, Anthony>

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