Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Controlling Filamentous ("Hair")Marine Green Algae 1

Related FAQs: Green Hair Algae 2, Green Hair Algae 3, Green Hair Algae 4, & Green Algae Control 1, Green Algae Control 2, Green Algae Control 3, Green Algae Control 4, Green algae Control 5, Green Algae Control 6, Green Algae Control 7, & By Group: Bryopsis & Derbesia, Bubble Algae (Boergesenia, Dictyosphaeria, Valonia...), Caulerpa Compatibility/Control, Chaetomorpha, Halimeda, Neomeris, Hair (Filamentous, Attached) Algae, Green Water  (Planktonic) Algae Blooms, & Algae ControlMarine Algicide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; CaulerpasControlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Brown/Diatom Algae

Related Articles: Embracing Biodiversity, Green Algae By Mark E. Evans, Algae Control, Caulerpa Algae, Marine Maintenance, Nutrient Control and Export, Marine Scavengers, Snails, Hermit Crabs, Mithrax/Emerald Green Crabs, Sea Urchins, Blennies, Algae Filters, Ctenochaetus/Bristle Mouth Tangs, Zebrasoma/Sailfin Tangs, Skimmers, Skimmer Selection, Marine Algae, Coralline Algae, Green Algae, Brown Algae, Blue-Green "Algae"/(Cyanobacteria)Diatoms, Brown Algae

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Hi Bob I'm having problems with persistent hair algae. My tank is a Rio 300 with a 125 litre sump which is used as a refugium. The refugium has a three inch sand bed, lit 24/7 and has Chaeto growing in it. I'm running RowaPhos and carbon through the return. I feed my fish relatively sparingly on strained fresh Brine shrimp and frozen Mysis again strained. The tank contains approx 40kg of Live rock in two bommies with plenty of flow from two Tunze 6035s aimed at each other to create dynamic flow. My pH is sitting at 7.9, my phosphates are literally nil and my phosphates are at 0.1. I've got a Malu that's doing really well as is my Maxima Clam, I've got a Goniopora that's doing well, the rest are LPS and softies like Euphyllia, Zoas, leather coral, mushrooms and I have a Hydnophora in direct flow. My fish stock is a Scooter blenny, Bicolour blenny, two Common clowns that are laying every 3-4 weeks, a Chevron tang, a yellow wrasse and a Court Jester. I've got the typical clean up crew of Cleaner shrimps, hermits and the rest. The tank has been running for nearly two years but l lost everything in December due to a power cut and boiler failure at the same time. This is the second stint and the hair algae is still hanging in by the skin of its teeth. I feed my corals with Julian Sprung's Coral snow once a week, is this causing the problems? Help before I lose the plot. Neil from Preston

Gosh Neil, we have quite a lot to discuss. First and foremost, judging from your attached photos and description, I don't consider that you really have much of a 'hair algae problem''¦ Some algae is of use functionally and aesthetically, and the types that make up the sort shown here are not really that deleterious.

So, let's cover some of your statements w/ suggested changes that might make you a bit less fretful re the green filamentous algae in your system. In order, the good-sized sump used as a refugium. I would increase the sand bed (hopefully a fine aragonite) to four or more inches in depth. This will greatly improve its functionality, removing most likely all nitrate (which you don't list as measured) and hopefully a good deal of the 0.1 ppm of HPO4 (which is high, particularly considering your use of chemical filtrant). I do think highly of Chaetomorpha used in these applications but leaving it illuminated continuously won't do; this and most algae and plants require a 'dark period' to do well. I would arrange/use a reverse-daylight-photoperiod (RDP) here, overlapping your tank's light regime an hour or so, but turning the refugium lighting off during the regular 'tanks on' photoperiod.

            Mmm, let's see, I would go away with feeding Brine Shrimp period, strained/rinsed or no. Artemia actually have little nutritive value. Depending on the age and density of your live rock, I might add a few more kilograms here, principally to bolster your waning biodiversity.  I favour the Tunze line all the way around, but would definitely do a bit of reading and rearrangement re their placement. A to one-end and down and back or circular gyre design is far better than what you describe. Your stated pH is a bit low, particularly if this is a measure during the later morning or afternoon. I'd be looking into using a Kalk or Kalk-like supplement to bolster the pH a bit, as well as give you a boost in insolubilizing those phosphates. I wouldn't use the 'Snow' product as it has dubious value period. 

            The fact that your invertebrates and fishes are doing well is the best proof that you really don't need to do anything drastic re your current situation, including the filamentous green algae.

Tank Cleaning Help: Starting Over, Hair Algae Removal 12/29/2009
Hello crew, I've read your site extensively and cant seem to find the answers I need. So I could use some personal attention here.
<Hi Wayne, Welcome!>
I have a 210 which is 2 years old. It was a mixed reef that was going nicely...until I had a tank crash. Then the hair algae took over. So I've been cooking my LR for 6 weeks now.
<It is dead rock now, which may be contributing to your problem, things in the rock still dying off and feeding the algae.>
There's still a bunch of hair algae on the glass, seems, and mostly the overflows of the tank.
<If you have to have it, the best place for it to be.>
After several months of cooking rock, manual removal, cutting back on feeding, large water changes... I've decided to drain and clean the tank, and start over.
<Always an option, not the one I would take, but to each his own.
Remember, nothing good happens quickly in a tank. I'm still 'recovering' from a severe overfeeding episode back in July that wiped out half my tank.>
My question is how to best clean the tank and refugium to ensure that ALL the hair algae is gone.
<It will never be all gone, Any time you add a new piece of rock, another fish or coral, you can introduce it again.>
Let me know what you think of my plan...
1) Drain tank and Refugium (save sandbed in separate tank) <Dispose of sand bed, and rock>
2) Scrub tank and refugium with mild bleach solution.<Fine>
3) Rinse with tap water and drain. <Fine>
4) Fill Disp tank and refugium with tap water/vinegar solution. Run main pump for 24 hrs.<Not really necessary..>
5) Scrub and Drain.
6) Refill Tank and Refugium with RODI water (gonna take a while).
7) Add salt and bring temp back up.
Should I just skip step#2 and #3, and fill the tank with tap/bleach solution instead of tap/vinegar solution? Thanks for your help! You guys/Gals are awesome.
<A couple things to keep in mind. First, if you start over, the sandbed and rock are going to have to be changed, as they have hair algae spores in them. Secondly, if you start over, you are going to get all of those "new tank" problems again - diatoms, probably some red slime, etc. Finally, realize that the algae is there for a reason - it gets enough nutrient to survive and with nothing competing, it will continue to grow. You don't say what you had in your refugium or what your tank parameters are, which may help diagnose the base problem.>
<Before you tear it all down, have a read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm >

Algae, algae, algae........still more algae - 1/24/04 I believe I have the green hair algae. <Kinda like having "THE gout">  It is really starting to drive us insane, my mom's already taken the toothbrush to it but, it came back in a week. <This has been covered way too many times for me to rehash. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm read through all the blue links and all the correlating information>  I have a yellow tang, a blue tang, a sea urchin, a snail of some sort, and 4 algae eating crabs to help but they don't seem to help much. <Age of the tank makes a difference, size of tank makes a difference (especially if one keeps inappropriate fish for the correlating size of the tank), water quality (top off and salt mix) as well as general water husbandry (water changes and chemical additions to the tank) and last, but certainly not least, inadequate water circulation, too just name a few. I guess I rehashed it didn't I?>  I just need some good advice to, rid our tank of algae. <Read the above link and the embedded links within>  What is the best way. It makes our tank look as if it is "dirty" I mean we have hair algae growing on the back of our glass.  I know that saltwater aquarists say algae is good, but I don't like it. <Understood, but algae is good to a point. Read, educate, and execute. You will find the balance, my friend. ~Paulo>  Thank You,  Chris

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

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

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

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

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

Its all about the algae 11/23/03 Hi everyone , I am going to ask a question that's been asked a million times before . How do I rid my 4 year old reef tank of Green hair algae? <its all about nutrient control. I have never seen a marine system that could be cured of plague algae in 2-4 weeks or less with aggressive protein skimming. Most aquarists skimmers are poorly maintained or designed. If you do not get 3-5 cups of skimmate weekly from yours (if not more) then you are one of the masses that fit this bill. Increased water flow and improved skimming alone can likely cure this problem for you> I have read your FAQ's and I am not new to the hobby , although this is my first real battle against this overpowering menace . Lets get the tank stuff out of the way first . I have a 120 gall reef, <check to see that you have 1200 to 2400 GPH of water flow in this system... else add more> with 150 lbs. of Walt Smith's finest rook . My inhabitants are a yellow tang  , a flame angel , and 2 blue Chromes ,all of which have been with me for 4 years . I just added a Lawn Mower Blenny hoping it would help but his blade is not sharp enough . <and the latter is treating the symptom and not the problem (nutrients). You might consider 20% water changes weekly instead of larger ones monthly too... very helpful> I also have a Blue Linckia Star , 2 brittle stars , fire and a cleaner shrimp , also some snails and hermits that do not help . My equipment consists of a ETSS 600 skimmer , <wow... very nice skimmer. Works well, although too tedious to clean and adjust in my opinion. If this unit is properly tuned and giving you good skimmate, then your nutrient problem is severe... re-examine feeding, water changes, weekly instead of monthly changes of carbon (please say you are using carbon <G>), etc> wet/dry minus the bioballs ,numerous power heads , Chiller , and a digital PH meter that is always on . I drip Kalk in my top off water and I change 20 to 30 % every two to four weeks . <very good> This algae is growing off the live rock and grows the most on dead bleached corals that I had from my fish only days . It is extremely hard to remove , it can not be siphoned , only manually removed with a tooth brush. <heavens no... this should never be required... any algae can be starved into submission in mere weeks> It takes about 8 hours to take each and every rock out and scrub them , only to have it return in a matter of two weeks . As you can see I am about to smash the tank with a bat and hope the insurance will cover all the  damage , just kidding , I love this tank and it is a passion , But I can no longer watch it deteriorate. What other avenues do I have. <no worries.. this will be simple... increased water flow may be the ticket here in light of your good skimmer and good water changes. Little things too like never pouring the thawed pack juice from frozen foods in to the aquarium (algae fuel!)... but drain and decant> One other thing, I have various soft corals that are being over run and my parameters are all good . No nitrates no phosphates ,which I am sure are conducive to green hair algae . By the way the algae grows to 4 to 5 inches in length . And I do not over feed .  Please help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Richard <tune that skimmer my friend and increase water flow, again... you should be able to easily get 3-5 full cups of coffee dark skimmate out of this brand skimmer. If not, those nutrients are accumulating. Read the archives and do strategic keyword searches with the Google search tool to learn tips on how to improve skimmate production. Best of luck. Anthony>

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

Hair Algae Hello MacL, <Hi Lui> Thank you for your quick reply. <I try.> Let me clarify that the wet dry filter is a relatively new addition to my tank and essentially a canister filter, as the air intake as been blocked as per the recommendation of a local aquarist, and I am only using mechanical filtration (sponges) and carbon. There is no other media in the filter. <I can understand that. In all honesty my wet/dry is a true wet/dry, I use it to put more oxygen in my tank for the tangs but I have to compensate for the nitrate problem with a refugium.> I have changed the carbon monthly and the mechanical filters are cleaned every two weeks or so, perhaps I should clean them more often as they accumulate a lot of stuff. <If they do that's a sign that you are over feeding or there is too much "stuff" in the tank. Possibly decay of something?> I measure no nitrates and a morning PH of 8.1. I feed my tangs twice a day and they are hearty eaters, the food does not get a chance to fall to the bottom of the tank and everything is gone in a minute or two.  You cannot believe how quick the Naso and red Sailfin are in gathering as much food as possible in a short period of time. <I adore tangs and I know how they can eat, I also know how they can poop for lack of a better word. I really think perhaps you might want to cut back to feeding once a day or possibly pick a day that you don't feed them at all. Tangs eat off the rocks as well so I am sure that they will be fine for one day with no food. For instance, I don't feed on Sundays at all. And my tank has been doing a lot better since I stopped feeding one day a week.>I am not sure as to why I get a reading of 0.02 for phosphates, but I figure the algae itself might account for that. <Algae really shouldn't raise the phosphates unless its decaying and/or dying in the tank.> I do not know the CRI rating of my VHOs. All I know about them is that they are very inexpensive, compared to VHOs sold for aquariums, and they have a temperature rating of 6500 K. <The price of the bulb doesn't matter as long as the spectrum is proper. Many people are using these 6500 K bulbs.> I also do not know whether they are full, half or broad spectrum lamps. I do not have a reflector installed and the depth of my tank is 24". <You are loosing some light without the reflector.> Until now, the only coral I have in the aquarium is doing very well. I realize that I should upgrade the lighting as I build my reef, but right now the hair algae is my concern. Would my present lighting system promote the hair algae growth? <I really don't think it should be.> To recap: I change water twice a week, using RO only (no phosphates and a TDS reading of 7 ppm). <Perhaps you should take this to every two weeks and start doing a larger water change. Perhaps of about 20 to 25%. I suggest this because the amount you are taking out probably isn't enough to provide much dilution of the current water.> I have no nitrates. <0.02 phosphates use a large protein skimmer a canister filter with carbon and sediment filters only (no media) 5 large powerheads 4 hours of VHO/actinic light per day, some good natural sunlight the rest of the time <You know the natural sunlight might be the problem because its got to be diluted through your window glass which is made to change the spectrum. I personally would turn your lighting back on to its proper timing.> ...and I still have green hair algae. <You don't mention your ph Lui and I would seriously consider checking your ph and your alkalinity. I find my tank rids itself of hair algae completely when my ph and alkalinity are at optimum levels. I achieve this through Kalkwasser but there are many other ways to do it. Let me recap a bit, I am concerned at the amount of detritus you are having to clean when you clean your media. It shouldn't be a huge amount especially if you are running a large protein skimmer. I believe your hair algae is feeding off that. MacL> Thanks again Lui

Pulling out my Hair (algae) Dear crewperson: <Hello! Ryan Bowen with you today> I am currently having it out fiercely with hair algae, the bad kind ;). <Sorry to hear that...never fun.> The story: 1.5 years, non-drilled 55gal FOWLR, 36lbs LR, 150lbs 4" DSB, AquaC Remora Pro,  Iwaki 40RLT (closed loop).  pH range 8.0-8.2 dKH 12, temp 80-82 (with fans), Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphate, Silicate all  0.  My charges are as follows; fish are listed in order of introduction over the last 1.25 years: False Percula Clown - Amphiprion ocellaris (tank raised) Orchid Dottyback - Pseudochromis fridmani (very mellow) Fire Goby - Nemateleotris magnifica (lightning fast to hiding spot) Cherub Angel - Centropyge argi (small and gorgeous) Lantern Bass - Serranus baldwini (great fish - needs to be appreciated up close) Pistol Shrimp - Alpheidae sp. (can hear it snapping in other rooms) (2) White-Striped Cleaner Shrimp - Lysmata amboinensis  (have yet to see them clean anybody) Giant Clam - Tridacna Maxima (under MH) Sand Sifting Star - Archaster typicus I have tried RO/DI (w/buffer), water changes (IO salt), higher random flow, Kalkwasser, activated carbon, high alkalinity, productive skimmer and less food. <Curing is harder than preventing, as we all find out.> Finally, my questions: Can my DSB be releasing the nutrients that it has collected with my previously heavy-handed feeding habits? <Only if it's not processing waste properly.> Can/Should I remove my DSB (I really am not worried about NNR with my 2x weekly water changes)? <Have you tested your RO unit?  Perhaps the water being changed into your tank isn't as pristine as imagined.  Take a sample to a high-end saltwater shop, have them run it with a TDS meter.> If I did, I would need to remove the fish anyway, right? <Oh, yes.  A nasty day.> Is going fallow outrageous and out of the question? <No real advantage.> If I were to continue anyway, what size tank would be okay temporarily (5 fish; 2-3 inches)? <I'd get three ten gallon tanks.> How about quarantine-style PVC for hiding? <yes, a good idea.  Low lighting will reduce stress as well.> Without any LR/LS, I would have a lack-of-bacteria issue, right? <Yes, so supplement with daily water changes, and a sponge filter in each tank seeded from your main display.> If so, I could get some new LR from LFS, cure it (doesn't matter how long, I will still have the algae), then put my fish in? <Not needed.  You'll be fine, just keep an eye on water quality.> Would it be okay to leave the invertebrates in the main tank? <Nope, not a great idea.> If I do NOT go fallow, can I reduce feeding to like once a week, or something more drastic? <Yes, just monitor health.  You may want to add some live rock for filtration purposes.  I would also add an inch or so to the sandbed with some mature live sand.  Look for someone breaking down their tank!> Whew, anything else you would like to add ;D? <Yes, you could get a lettuce Nudibranch, but you need to have somewhere for him to go after he's consumed all your algae!  My reef club has 1 or 2 that are always being passed around...lucky slugs!  They get the full tank tour.> Thank you so much for your advice - AND GET NMA VOLUME 2 OUT ALREADY!!!  Rich. <I'm as eager as you are, my friend!  Good luck, Ryan>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hair algae problem 07/29/03 <Hi Tim, PF with you tonight> I have a 180 gal. reef tank with an Ecosystem filtration system.  The tank has been established for over a year now, and over the past five months I've had an unsightly hair algae problem.  I have a power blue tang, sohal tang, lawn mower blenny, bi-color blenny, four PJ cardinals, six green Chromis, a four line and a six line wrasse, and a green mandarin.  I have two clams, a few dozen small hermits, three peppermint shrimp, a few colonies of polyps, six fighting conchs, a couple dozen snails, and about seven LPS corals.  The tank has plenty of circulation, lighting consisting of three 175 watt 10,000K MH and three 5 foot long VHO tubes.  Also have about 200lbs + of live rock, the substrate base is crushed coral and the Caulerpa in the refugium is very healthy.  Also I have been using Sea Chem brand sea gel, the Ecosystem reef solution and Sea Chem brand reef calcium, and reef carbonate.  My nitrate levels are nothing, my pH, my salinity, calcium, and alkalinity are all ideal.  Please help me get rid of my hair algae problem and help me grow beautiful coralline algae. Thank-you Tim Horn <Well Tim, that's quite a collection you have there. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is that it might be phosphate. Have you tried testing for it? If that's the problem I can recommend ROWAphos with no reservations, it worked wonders for me. I would think though, that with all your herbivores, that the hair algae would be history. My lawn mower blenny and tang both chow down heartily on what little appears in my tank. I did notice that you didn't list a skimmer among your pieces of equipment. Why the Ecosystem method doesn't require one (I know, I use it myself) I've found that it does help (and I'm not alone in this). If you do decide to do supplemental skimming, I or someone else can recommend a good brand. Have a nice night, PF>

Hair Algae (7-23-03) How can I get rid of hair algae???  I know what to change to make it not come back but how can I get rid of it right now?  Do I need to take out each base rock that has it and scrub the surface or is there a safe chemical that will make it die off?<I would stick to scrubbing and siphoning and avoid chemicals. Cody> Thanks for your help.

-Turboflotors and hair algae- Thanks for the quick reply, yes it is hair algae. When I purchased the Turboflotor 1000 it said for tanks up to 250g, is this wrong. <I suppose that would depend on who you ask. I rate it for a 50-75g mixed reef.> Only one of my return lines goes through the UV sterilizer. If I remove the DSL from my wet dry and use the chambers for Carbon and/or Chemipure should that help with the hair algae? <Neither the carbon or the Chemipure will help, use phosphate remover even though it's not detectable. Good luck, -Kevin>

Hair's The Problem! (Hair Algae) Hello Crew, I have a problem with green hair algae in my 150 gallon reef. The tank's been running for 3 months now and has a skimmer running 24 X 7 and the water is RO/DI water but yet I still have a huge amount of green hair algae growing even if I pull it out it will regrow back in a week. <Yep- pulling out the algae is basically treating the symptoms, but is not affecting a "cure"...You need to delve deeper to find the root cause> I don't feed the tank anything except an algae sheet every other day for the blenny. Tank inhabitants are (1) Bicolor Blenny (100) Blue Leg Hermit Crabs (Which I regret buying since they've eaten my snails) (50) Astraea snails (had 100 but the hermit crabs have been eating them) and (2) Cleaner Shrimps. I also had a Chevron Tang but he died in a flood and I never found his body (this was 2 months ago). <Sorry to hear that> At first I didn't have any filters running except for the skimmer but I have now added an Emperor 400, and placed a sponge filter on my return pump. <Clean and replace all mechanical filter media regularly...If not tended to, these media can accumulate detritus and become "nutrient traps"> I tested the water coming out of the RO last night and it showed 5 PPM but I don't know if that was because of the tub it was being stored in. <5 PPM nitrate? If so, do check if membranes need replacing, or if, as you suspect, the storage container has some dissolved organic material in it- you'll need to clean or replace it.> Lighting is provided by 220 Watts Of Actinic VHO and 500 Watts of 10,000K USHIO Metal Halide. The Actinics are on for 6 hours and the Halides are on for 5 hours. Calcium is at ~380. Any ideas? Thanks. <Well, what about protein skimming? You should have a skimmer working away, yanking out at least a couple of cups of dark, stinky skimmate weekly. Also, try more frequent, smaller water changes (like two 5% changes per week). Utilize chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon and Poly Filter regularly, and replace them often. Control of nutrient algae is all about nutrient control! In fact, being the geek that I am, I wrote an article called (what else) "Nutrient Control and Export" that's on the WWM site. I think it will answer a lot of your questions- do review this and the many other related articles on the topic on the WWM site...So much material to review here! You'll get rid of the algae with a concerted effort and an attempt to eliminate the root causes of the problem. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Hair Algae & pH Issues in a Nano - Hi guys & gals! I sure miss chatting with you and answering all of the fun questions that get sent in but now that I've let go of some things my life is much more relaxed so I think I did the right thing. Anyway, I am writing with a purpose. I have a terrible hair algae problem and my PH is slightly low in my nano. The specs on the tank are: 10g, 2x13w PC bulbs (1 actinic) run from about 8am to 5pm (I'm getting a timer soon so I can leave these on longer!), about 15lb LR, 2 small Ocellaris Clowns, 1 small Yellow Watchman Goby, 3 or 4 Cerith Snails, 3 or 4 Nassarius Snails, lots of feather and "coin" Caulerpa, 1 cucumber, Ammonia/Nitrites 0, pH 8.0, Nitrates <5, temp 78, crushed granite substrate approx 1" thick, water changes, 1 gallon every week or two and I use RO water for all water changes. Filtration is a trickle filter that's built into the tank (Via-Aqua) with the round bone looking filter media. I don't have a skimmer because with the style this tank/filter is I can't add one without adding a sump which involves plumbing I'm not ready to do. The first problem is my pH. I'm getting a couple of corals and want to make sure they live but I think my low pH may be a problem here (everything else is thriving!). How can I safely bring this up? <I'd start with baking soda... add a little [1/8 tsp.] to a cup of tank water, then add to the tank and test the pH. Repeat as often as necessary until the pH is in proper range.> I know the granite doesn't provide the buffering that other sands and stuff do and I'd much rather have a DSB but I'm afraid of shocking my tank by removing everything and adding sand. Would I be better to use baking soda or just go ahead and do the sand? <I would do both - the granite isn't doing you any favors.> The second problem is hair algae. I was told that phosphates can cause hair algae problems so I bought some PhosGuard and have been running that for 4 days. I don't know what my phosphates were when I put this in but they are now 0. Now I'm assuming (and we all know what that does!) that if my phosphates were actually high enough at the start to cause a hair algae problem, they wouldn't have dropped to 0 in just 4 days so this leads me to believe something else is causing the problem. Any suggestions? <Perhaps too many nutrients present, not just phosphate. Likewise, problem algae is almost always an issues in areas of low circulation, so you might want to add a powerhead, give things a scrub and then see where you stand after that.> Thanks in advance for the help! Ronni <Cheers, J -- >

- Hair Algae and pH Low - Hi Guys, I've been a reader of your excellent site for some time now. Here's my situation. I have a 55 gal. tank with 2 inches of live sand, 50 lbs of live rock. My circulation and filtration is all hang off the back. I have two whisper filters and a bio pack II protein skimmer. The tank has been up for over a year now. Initially, the lighting was poor with two 18 inch fluorescent bulbs. I replaced them with two 55w compact fluorescent combo bulbs. Still not enough light for corals. I want to go in that direction. I am planning on adding a couple of 175W 10K MH bulbs. But in the meantime, I have a hair algae problem. Also, even though I drip Kalkwasser and add Kent super buffer, I can't get the pH higher than 8.0 and the KH is 13. I added a Xenia about a month ago and with the PH at 8.0, I'm surprised it is still surviving, it certainly doesn't pulse at this time.. So here are my questions: What can I do to get the pH moving north? The super buffer says it's goal is to get the PH between 8.0 and 8.3 but from what I read on your site the Xenia like pH in the 8.6 range. Can I add baking soda in small amounts? <Yes.> What do you suggest? <Perhaps try buffering your water change water before you add salts... try to make sure all new water going in has good alkalinity. Would be a good place to start.> On the hair algae problem and I've been taking the live rock out and using a toothbrush to remove the hair algae but it keeps coming back. What can I do to starve the algae out? <You might want to run a phosphate test to see what your levels are - this acts as a ready source of plant food for algae and often becomes a problem from overfeeding. Another thing you can do is increase the circulation inside the tank by the addition of a couple of powerheads.> Will the addition of two 175 MH bulbs increase it's growth or help to kill it off? <It will most likely increase the growth.> I've  got one of those cleaner gang packages from Marine Depot so I have many snails, crabs, etc. They don't feast on the hair algae, so I'm at a loss as to how to get rid of that problem. I have a few small fish in the tank as well. The ammonia and nitrate levels are zero. Thanks. <Cheers, J -- >

Hair Algae Problems Dudes <What up?>...thought I had won the battle with hair algae but after 2 weeks of nothing, it came back?.. I switched from natural seawater to ro water and instant ocean salt mix, with water changes weekly. about 15% or so. Tried PhosGuard by SeaChem and man that did the trick. I figured it had been exhausted and that was the reason for the return of the "green". My question was can carbon leach phosphates that fast back into the tank? <Quality of the carbon is the real question> I change it weekly when I do the water change. <Even bad carbon shouldn't leech anything in a week.> I am running a mag 350 canister filter in a 10 gallon mini reef tank. 1 lawnmower blenny ( but he looks more like an Eyebar goby?) either way he seems to nibble at the green, as well as 1 small wrasse. I have a small ice probe chiller for keeping it cool but it was a freaky hot summer here in Kona and temp in the tank was in the 8o to 82 range at times, ..tank animals are fine and corals open ...feeding for the fish is very small amount of formula one. each fish gets a little chunk( I mean little) twice a day and skip a day once a week.. If I remove the carbon from the filter are there any chances that it may help?. <May try running it on/off every other week.> More live sand?<How much do you have?> live rock? <Can't hurt> .. my eyes are buggy after reading as much as I could absorb on the site about nutrient control. I would rather not use the SeaChem stuff all the time and am spying a remora skimmer in the future. No magic bullet I know but any suggestions ? <Blue leg hermits?  Do you use any snails?  I need more info to provide a decent suggestion.  Sorry!>   Thanks Pete ps: pray for surf!. winter is around the corner!!! <My surf-prayers are with you!  Mahalo and good luck! Ryan>

- Hair Algae: The Battle Rages and Rages... - Hi again all, Thanks in advance as usual.  Here is a summary of my ongoing battle with hair algae.  The reef tank is a 120 with 4' DSB and 140 lbs LR and 30 gallon sump.  I have been battling this menace for about 6 months now and followed all suggestions given to me.  First I purchased a Spectrapure RO Unit (6 months ago).  No noticeable difference.  Next (3 months ago) upgraded from Berlin Turbo trash skimmer to a Euro Reef CS6-1 as recommended by many (getting approximately 1.5 to 2 measuring cups of gunk each week).  I do weekly water changes of 10+ gallons with Instant Ocean.  No noticeable difference.  Water flow is about 1700 gph and is random (2 Seaswirls, 2 Powerheads).  Most LR is on PVC frames although there are a few pieces on the sand to hide the PVC.  Fish load includes:  1 Midas Blenny, 2 Percs, 1 Flame Angel, 1 Lawnmower Blenny, 2 Gobies, 1 Six Line Wrasse, 1 Royal Gramma.  Lots of hermits (and at 1 point lots of snails which the hermits wiped out).  Purchased a couple tuxedo urchins and they died within days.  I use 2 units of Chemi-pure which I change monthly.  They are placed in the filter bags (where display drains into sump) which are washed every other week.  All frozen food is rinsed to remove pack juice before going into the tank.  Only added supplements are Lugol's Iodine (1 drop daily for inverts and Xenia), Tech M (magnesium) (follow instructions), Strontium/Molybdenum (follow instructions), and Kalkwasser.  Occasionally I add Kent Essential Elements in small quantities.  Once a week max I soak food in .5ml of Selcon.  No "pollution in a bottle" is added.  Are there any other suggestions that you might have to help conquer this menace? <Well... do look to quantities of food you may be adding, in spite of the melt water being removed - is still a source of nutrients when it becomes fish-waste. Also, I'd give another try to the tuxedo urchin - could have been a bad source, or perhaps acclimated to quickly. Usually very efficient problem-algae scavengers and generally pretty hardy. Having something that eats problem algae is almost always the best place to start.> It is driving us nuts.  I ripped all the LR out last week and scrubbed it in buckets with water change water to clear it off as I couldn't stand it anymore.  I know you aren't supposed to do this but I am getting desperate.  Thanks, Andy <Cheers, J -- >
- Hair Algae: The Battle Rages and Rages... Follow-up -
Probably a dumb question, but would adding a 30 gallon 'fuge with macro algae's aid in the nutrient export and thus reduce the hair algae through starvation? <Hmm... probably not as well or as soon as you like. The existing algae is already established and will make it difficult to establish desirable algae because they can out-compete for the same nutrients. That doesn't make this a bad idea, I just don't think it will help right out of the gate. Cheers, J -- >

Hair Algae I have a hair algae problem, it has taken over my tank in the last six months. I have changed 90 gallons of water in my tank in 5 days. my tank is a 92 gallon tank. I use a RO DI system, which I have just replaced the filters for except the membrane which is only six months old. I have been told by a couple of aquarium store owners, to do more water changes, take all rock covered with algae, scrub it with a brush till all algae is gone in a separate tub and add about 200 blue leg hermit crabs. But I do have a lot of life in my rock that would get killed off (mushrooms, xenia, etc). One of the  store owners had the same problem. This is what he did and he had great success. I want to know if you have any other ideas that might work. My phosphates are at .1 and nitrates are at .10. but I have read that it  might be inaccurate because the algae suck it up so you cant get a true reading.<Do you have a skimmer on this tank.  If you don't that would help out a ton.  I like the aqua-c remora pro.  That's what I have on my 80 and I love it.  Scrubbing the rock and doing a large water change would also help a lot but would be very stressful on all your critters.  I would just keep up with your water changes and make sure you have a good skimmer.  How about your bulbs how old are they and what is the light schedule?  You can also find tons of info on all this at our site: www.wetwebmedia.com.  Cody>  

Will An Angel Save Me? >I have a reef tank with mushroom corals only.  I have a lot of hair algae. I don't like tangs because I have had bad luck with them in the past getting ick. >>Eh.. mate, it's not *their* fault.   >I want to get a pygmy angel and wanted to ask you which are best at eating hair algae and NOT my mushrooms, lol. >>Angels are NOT noted for their algal control abilities at all. >What about Butterflies.   >>What about 'em? >Do any of them eat hair algae and not Shrooms?   >>None, to my knowledge, are known to eat algae.  Check the mouth and jaw structure on these fish, they're made for picking small and medium sized critters.  Some, as I think you've sorted, are obligate feeders on corals and the like.  However, if you have such trouble with tangs, I don't believe you'll have better "luck" with angels or butterflies.  It takes a lot more than LUCK to do this fish thing.  Knowledge is power, and it'll help you sort your hair algae AND fish selection issues.  If you have any "luck" keeping invertebrates I will suggest instead trying a tuxedo urchin, maybe a lawnmower blenny (an animal NOTED for its propensity to eat hair algae - which might be controlled if you can get a handle on nutrient export).  Marina >I recently set up a tank with 75% dead rock and 25% live rock and in just three months the dead rock has pink coralline algae growing on it and hair algae of course so for $1.50 a pound I will have full live rock in 6-12 months, yea, and it is on the bottom of the tank under the live rock and it is still sporting algae growth! Oh, oh, the dead rock is also sporting quite a few tube worms. I sliced one of my Shrooms and put it in a convo holder I drilled holes in and I am hoping the Shrooms will attach to the rock in a week or two and then I will have dead rock with Shrooms, lol. >>Thanks, mate.  Marina

Bad Hair Day.. >Hello, >>Hello. >I currently have a 75 gallon reef tank w/90lbs Fiji rock that has been setup now since Feb 2003. I have been battling hair algae since the beginning after cycling my tank. My parameters are Ammonia- 0, nitrites-0, Nitrates 0-5ppm, Phosphates- 0(according to Hagen test kit.) >>One thing to note (besides the fact that I, and others, would recommend a different kit-we like Seachem, Salifert, LaMotte..), is that phosphorous very well may be present, but is being taken up by the hair algae, thus leaving you with zero readings. >pH-8.1 - 8.3, Ca-420ppm, Alk-9dkh. I am using a sump with live rock and my turn over rate is aprox 10-12x. My lighting is 2 - 03 actinic, 2 - white actinic. (440watts). CA reactor, 8 watt sterilizer. I had hair algae long before adding reactor. >>I wouldn't expect the reactor to solve the issues that are root causes of such blooms. >I have done water changes every week to once a month since the beginning and no difference. I use RO/DI water for all make up and salt mix.  My water temp is controlled by a chiller and is a constant 76-77F. I am using two 200 gph power heads for circulation in main tank.  I understand that algae needs water, nutrients & light to thrive. My light period has been adjusted from 7-14 hrs with no difference. My livestock is not overfed, as to me this has not mattered because even from the beginning I have had this problem. I have half covered coralline and hair algae live rock. I must scrub algae to clean tank.  What can be done to stop this algae?  I also do not have ANY other type of algae in tank. I do not have to scrub my glass to remove film algae either.  I only have coralline algae on wall and glass with of course the hair algae.  Anything I am missing or not informing you of? >>No, certainly nothing that I can think of.  You've given all the information any of us would want.  I would go ahead and test the make up water both before and after you mix the salt.  I would also find another test kit just to be sure (check the brands I've mentioned).  I'd say that your Ca is a wee bit high, but nothing problematic.  You haven't listed residents, but I don't know that this is entirely pertinent.  I'm still stuck on the test kit, I keep getting a feeling that it may not be accurate.  If you don't have in situ already, I will suggest adding something like a lawnmower blenny, yellow or Z. scopas tang, or small abalone (VORACIOUS consumers of algae!), or tuxedo urchin to consume what's present.  After that, I suggest a non-calcareous macroalgae in the sump with the live rock, with the intention of creating competition between it and the hair algae for whatever nutrients the hair algae is utilizing (most obvious, of course, being nitrate and phosphorous). >I have tried all sorts of sponges, pads, you name it to remove phosphates and organics. Please Help!!  Thank you in advance, Miles >>As I mentioned, Miles, if the algae has already fixed the phosphorous, it won't come up on readings OR be able to be taken up much by such chemical filtrants (until it dies and releases them, at least).  Your lighting might be an issue, but I'm can't make an assessment on the quality of your light without knowing more about its output.  I can tell you that we don't actually NEED actinics (outputting light of 420nm) to grow photosynthetic animals.  Wattage is not a good means of calculating quality or quantity of light for photosynthetics.  More important is knowing color temperature and lumens.  I doubt, however, that the *quality* of your light is the root of your problem, but, consider changing out one of those actinics (the 03 blues) for a full spectrum bulb.  Hope this is somewhat helpful!  Marina
Bad Hair Day, Revisited..
>Thank You kindly for your response. >>You're welcome. >I will as you advised get another brand of test kit. To add further info, I have currently in the tank: 4 blue Chromis 1 Regal Tang 1 Sail Fin Tang (Hawaii) 1 cinnamon Clown 1 Copper Band Butterfly 1 Coral Beauty Dwarf Angel 1 Blue Bird Wrasse- sweet does not cause havoc 1 Tuxedo Urchin 5 Turbos 1 Sand Star Flowerpot coral Colt coral Gobs of blue, red & green mushrooms 2X Torch coral Red bulb Anemone Orange Bulb Anemone Cabbage Leather Xenias Dose Kalk once a week to help precipitate phosphates I have tried, lawnmower blennies, Yellow tangs (I have an omen with yellow tangs, they Always get ich).  Everything that supposedly eats hair algae will not in my tank. >>Unfortunately, this is not entirely uncommon.  However, I must, at this point, make note that for a 75 gallon system, in terms of your fish load you are grossly overstocked.  One tang in a 75 is alright, as long as we're not talking about a Vlamingi or something similar.  But two of any species is ultimately going to be too much (considering adult sizes).  These animals are poop machines.   >Every blenny has starved to death as I have tried two. My urchin does eat it but he is so slow. >>Then I would get at least one more urchin, you see that it's successful, so go with what works.  I might also suggest a tropical abalone. >Yellow tangs did not.  I have found that red foot snails are excellent hair algae eaters, however they quickly die as I suspect my water temp is too high as they require 62 -72F water. >>You definitely suspect correctly. >Is it possible I introduced this algae with my live rock? >>Well.. possible, but the issue really has much more to do with available nutrients than anything else. >I forgot to mention that I have Berlin Red sea Skimmer XL in my sump which is rated to 250gal tank. It produces nice scum at least twice a week. >>Hhmm.. I'm wondering if a skimmer that produces more, more frequently might be helpful (I know, SPENDY).  I'd seriously consider getting rid of one of those tangs. >This algae has really plagued me and I cannot seem to find the source. Is there something leaching nutrients from the sand or rock? >>Could be, though least likely.  As I mentioned, if the algae is fixing it then testing may not show it. >I feed my fish 3 times a week which I feel is not a cause to nutrients. >>I disagree, and this feeding schedule, *especially* for the tangs and butterfly, is neither natural nor healthy. >Back to lighting, I am running 2x 03 actinics and 2x white actinics(12,000K) 110 watts (440 watts total). They were brand new when purchased and I had this problem from the beginning. I believe the lighting definitely helps, but I need this light for the anemones and xenias etc... >>Agreed, lighting is a must for photosynthetics.  If these animals are responding (GROWING) well under this lighting, then there should be no need for change.  I do not believe the 03s could be a "nutrient" source for the hair algae, but I do believe that your fish load IS. >Why would I ONLY have hair algae, no red, slime Cyano, green brown you name any other types of algae? >>This is the one that got its foot in the door, so to speak.  Just because you have one does not mean you'll get the others, and it's unusual to get everything present. >Everything is very healthy and growing well.. along with the hair algae :-) >>Heh..  That song from "Hair" just popped into my head. >Oxygen saturation is fine, gas exchange etc.. circulation seems fine, in fact areas that get direct current have the strongest concentration of algae????  What bothers me is EVERYTHING is healthy. >>Um.. that's just whacked.  Wouldn't it bother you more if it WASN'T healthy?  :p >I just want the algae to die. Bad hair day needs a make over. Thanks for your quick response. You guys are great!!! >>Most folks, once they have their tang(s), don't want to give them up, but I honestly think this would be your best move.  Ultimately, both those tangs in this system will be quite crowded.  Whether or not you feed them enough, you're probably feeding enough to prevent starvation, and this just may be sufficient to add just enough excess nutrients to keep the hair going (thank goodness it's not Bryopsis, eh?).  The abalone is a VORACIOUS algal consumer, check online.  Do test your source water for phosphorous, nitrite, and nitrate before you mix.  If the Kalk is precipitating phosphate out, then that means that it's present, yes?  Something needs to be done about any phosphorous present other than just pushing precipitation.  Oh yeah, the flowerpot, Goniopora, if I recollect correctly, actually occurs in nutrient RICH lagoon areas.  Marina

- Filament Algae Problem - Hello, Let me first just say "thanks" for a wonderful site.  I've learned a great deal here and hope to learn a great deal more. I have a 55G salt water tank that's been running for about 18 months now.  I am having a horrific time with filamentous algae and I'm at wits end on how to get rid of it. First the tank: 55G with a ~27G sump, an AquaC Urchin skimmer, and a Whisper power filter that I use to clean up quickly after water changes and vacuuming.  For lighting I have 4 VHO 110W bulbs, 2 white, 2 actinic.  I only run 1 of each right now thinking that they might be contributing to the algae problem. For livestock, I have the same fish and live rock that I had when I started the tank.  I have a hardy damsel, a strawberry Basslet (Pseudochromis porphyreus), and two tomato clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus).  The larger of the two clownfish has mated up with my Bubble anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) which I've had for over a year.  I have 2 small scarlet hermits and about 7 very large snails for cleaners.  I also have about 75lbs of live rock. The filamentous algae came on gradually.  First I had an infestation of bubble algae, but after carefully picking and scraping, it went down to a manageable level, but then suddenly brown, leafy algae started springing up all over.  Once I started pruning that back, "grape" Caulerpa started taking over from I know not where.  Luckily, that too was easy to prune back, and once I did, I started having a lot of large, leafy, segmented green macro-algae.  At the same time, the filamentous algae started taking over, getting in everywhere.  For the last 9 months, I've been fighting a losing battle to get rid of it.  It's gotten so bad that there's algae growing on my snails! All of my water readings seem to be fine, with only the slightest hint of ammonia on occasion.  At first I thought there was too much light, so I cut back from 4 bulbs to 2.  Next I thought I was feeding too much so I went from twice a day to once a day.  After no results, I dropped down to feeding every other day.  No change, and I went to twice a week.  With still no change, I'm down to feeding once a week and it's having no effect.  I was doing 10 gallon water changes weekly and cleaning out *maybe* a 1/4" cup of skim.  I've started doing 20 gallon changes weekly for the last 4 weeks and haven't seen a change either.  I understand that a) this algae is feeding on something, <Likely phosphate and nitrogenous wastes.> and b) since I've only been feeding once a week for over 6 months now, it's not ME that's introducing the nutrients in the tank, so... where is it coming from? <Once the algae is established, it can operate on much less than you might think.> I use bottled RO/DI water for my changes, and even with that, I pull out what seems like a good two fistfuls of algae every other week.  My current theory is that there is SO much algae that the algae I am not getting is dying and providing nutrients to other algae to grow. <Well, that and your fish produce nitrogenous wastes... these would all combine to make plant food.>  But why isn't that reflected in the water readings? <Quite likely taken up as soon as it appears on the scene.> Please help if you can... <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm > Mark <Cheers, J -- >

Controlling Hair Algae A Rocky Mountain ALOHA! To the crew, <Hello back at ya!!> I have a beautiful Radiant (Iris) Wrasse (H. iridis) that is in a 20 Gal.  Quarantine Tank along with A Juv. Chevron Tang (C. hawaiiensis). Also in the QT are the permanent residents 2 huge Cleaner shrimp (L. amboinensis) and 4 gold strip Neon Gobies (G. randalli). The Wrasse and tang are going into display tanks next week after a 4 week quarantine, the required 1 week copper quarantine at my LFS, and 3 weeks in my QT.<Quarantine at a pet store doesn't count.  The fish can get sick in the transfer to your tank.> Usually 4 weeks in my QT but I have had no problems with using the 1 week at LFS before. 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.>

Pesky Hair Algae Hi, Adam, my son Dave is here today for Father's Day; Dave's been a reefkeeper for years, and got me started.  He looked at my RO system, and told me that it was installed wrong by my former tank service guy.  He says that I've been putting the equivalent of TAP WATER into my tank. Could this have caused my hair algae problem?  << It could, but I've been using tap water in my tank for years. >>(Dave helped me fix the RO system problem earlier this morning).  Thanks much for your thoughts. << The real problem isn't tap water.  Lots of people use it.  But those who do, usually have macro algae in their sumps, frequent water changes, protein skimmers or things like that.  So the water may contribute, but remember you still have to take things out of the water to combat excess feeding.  So, having your RO up correctly is great, but you still need to look at ways to remove nutrients. >> Best, << Good luck. >> Ralph <<  Adam Blundell  >>
Re: Pesky Hair Algae
Hi, Adam...sorry for the late response, but my computer's been down for the past two days.  Thanks for the guidance; so, using good RO water is apparently not a "silver bullet."  I will continue to treat the fish with "tough love" and cut back a bit further on the feedings.  The hair algae is now under better control, but now I think I've got a bit of Cyano (red slime). << Again, watch for excess nutrients.  Also, slime can be removed using a turkey baster, hopefully before it gets out of control. >> Anyway, thanks much Best,<< Good Luck >> Ralph <<  Adam B.  >>

Hair Algae ready to tear down tank.       Mr. Fenner,                                                                      <Hi there>                                                       My name is Christy, and I have been in the " Salt " life for over 2 years now.  I started by purchasing your book  " The Conscientious Marine Aquarist ",  and I swear by it on almost a daily basis.  My friend and I have come to refer to it as  " The Bible ".   I took the advice of many people to go larger with my tank size. I purchased the Oceanic R/R 175 Bowfront.  We have the sump in our basement b/c of  the noise and heat issue.  It was doing great up until we switched our light bulbs at the end of March of 2004. Also at that time I spoke with a rep. from Kent Marine, well he sold me  Coral-Vite and also Liquid Reactor. Under his suggestion I added the Coral-Vite weekly and then added the Liquid Reactor everyday.  I kept this up for a almost 1 month, then stopped on account of the massive outbreak of Hair Algae.   <Yes, related events> Between slamming my tank with all new bulbs and adding additives, I am at a total loss of how my tank turned from beautiful to almost dead.  I now know that I shouldn't have changed my lights all at one time, a little too late for that kind of knowledge.  But I'm also wondering if the additives that I used could've caused more harm than just the lights? <Likely so>   I belong to a site called " Reef Central " and they are all great with problems and questions.  But I am afraid to post on the site regarding my H/A problem as they are all great fans of R/O units, and I do not have one of these. <Mmm, is your source water "that bad"?>   I have found an article that you had written stating that these units aren't a major factor in the home aquarium. <In the majority of cases, no>   So are there any suggestions on what I can do with my tank to get rid of the H/A that is consuming it's beauty? <All sorts. Have you read through the "algae control" articles and FAQs posted on WetWebMedia.com?>   Here are my readings as of yesterday 6-20-04... amonia-0.25   Nitrite-  0    Nitrate-  20   PH-  8.4    Salinity 1024   Temp- 78    I only use the one test kit,  Aquarium Pharmaceuticals  Saltwater Master Liquid Test Kit.  It was purchased in May of 2004, so it is a new one.  I have attached a photo of my tank. It  is an after photo of it  filled with H/A.  My old computer has the good photos of it and it is upstairs I am having a hard time pulling it out of there...                I want to thank you Mr. Fenner in advance as I know that you must be a very busy man.  I am at a total loss here as to what I can do with my tank.  It was such a pleasure when it was beautiful, and not covered in algae.   We have invested so much money in this and it is causing a lot of major headaches.  I was so pleased when I saw that you had an e-mail address that I could contact you directly. Any advice that you can give to me and my husband would be greatly appreciated.  My tanks future doesn't look very good until I can convince my husband and myself to not tear it down.                                                                         Thank You,                                                                              Christy <This hair algae problem can be defeated with a twin approach of lowering available nutrient (stopping the supplementation as you have), water changes (do check your tap for phosphate content), possible chemical filtrant use (like Polyfilter) to remove nutrients, AND the growth of desirable macro-algae (with a light added) in your sump, and possibly the addition of a couple of algae-eating blennies (of the genera Salarias, Atrosalarias). This may take several weeks to a few months, but don't despair, you will win out. Bob Fenner

Hair Algae- Circulation Related? Good Afternoon, <Hello! Ryan Bowen with you today> My hat goes off to you on a most informative and educational website. <Thank you!> My problem is the dreaded hair algae, I have been battling it for a long time now and am at my wits end. My tank is as follows 75G reef with 90lbs of LR 10 Gallon sump 15 Gallon Fuge 4 inch DSB with 440 watts of VHO. 2 actinic and 2 daylight 50/50. My inhabitants are 1 yellow tang 1 coral beauty 2 Percs 1 Banggai cardinal and a LMB <Not familiar with the term> ,a standard crew of blue hermits and a few Astrea snails, also a selection of LPS and softies. I am writing to you as a last resort in hope of a miracle cure...lol.<I laughed too> My water parameters are as follows Amm 0, Trites 0, Trates 0, Phos 0, calc 400 Alk 10 dKH. My lighting is only on 7 hours per day. I have tried it all except I have not yet resorted to chemicals. <Good...Don't> I removed my bio-balls and added a fuge with a 4 inch deep aragonite sand bed with some grape and spaghetti macro algae which in turn brought my nitrates down to 0 from 10. <Great! Sounds like the competition for available nutrients is just beginning.> I replaced my VHO bulbs about 2 months ago thinking that may help but to no avail. <I'm sure your photosynthetic animals liked it.> I use R/O water for changes and top offs and drip Kalk religiously. I have tested my source water and it contains no Phosphates or Nitrates. Is there anything that I may be overlooking? Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated and implemented. <What's your circulation like?  It's one of the most overlooked things in the hobby, in my opinion.  I like to see a reef's turnover rate between 10-20 times an hour. Rio makes a new inexpensive hyper-flow pump, called the Seio.  I'd recommend that you add some flow.  I'm not sure how long ago you added the refugium, but it sounds like it's just starting to take effect.  I'm quite sure that with religious water changes, no more adding fish, and adding circulation, you're going to be rid of this algae.  Do you use a skimmer?  You didn't mention.  If not, I would highly recommend that you add one.  Good luck, Ryan> Thanks for your time and effort, Scott Lewington

Hair Algae Fan Club Hello,  thank you for the fantastic resource you've been in my first year dabbling with saltwater. Sorry if I'm about to write a book but maybe others have the same issues in a year old tank. <Exactly the reason we post these! Ryan with you> I have a 75 gallon FOWLR, 80- lbs of LR, 402 pump for flow, Magnum 350 (will be replaced), an actual working SeaClone skimmer-replaced twice by LFS due to leaks from the so called "easy snap seal" (produces 2 thick cups/week), 4" sand base, 8.1 ph, 1.021, 0-.25 phosphate, 20ppm nitrate, 0 ammonia/nitrite, 77 F, 2 50/50 48" fluorescent. 1 Coral Beauty, 1 Raccoon Butterfly, 1 percula, 1 purple firefly, 2 neon blue gobies, 1 cleaner shrimp, 2 sand sifters, 20 snails. looking to add more fish. All was going well until recently. Now I'm plagued by green hair algae on the rocks.  It sounds strange, but I think it came into my tank on the shell of a snail, about 6 months ago.  I shouldn't have introduced the snail, oops.  It grew in small patches and I picked it out over the months, got lazy, and now it's on most of my rock.  I have tried water changes (I use TAP, it tests 0 phosphate and 5ppm Nitrate), and just purchased an Eheim 2026 to replace the Magnum for better flexibility and biological functionality.  I've always had easily removable brownish/green algae coat on the glass every week or so, it seems to be growing faster now, the coral beauty likes to scrape it off, leaving lip marks.  I rarely find purple (Cyano?) on the sand and a few rocks, not recently.   A few weeks back, I lost one 8 month old clown fish.  It suddenly grew a white slime of sorts and died.  Then, I just lost a new $75 purple tang that was perfectly active/eating and healthy for 2 days, then the next day was fully covered in ich and died that night.  I truly don't have space for quarantine right now, I know......  I dipped it before introduction. All my other fish are healthy and fought off ich after introduction and continued proper feeding with vitamins/garlic (butterfly and coral b.) I'm now frustrated! My confusion is that my tests show good water quality, acceptable Nitrate and barely any phosphate, the temp/salinity/ph are stable. At one point during the summer, I lost power for three days and everything was fine. I don't overfeed, the lights are on for 10 hrs a day.   My tank is rapidly deteriorating into an ugly algae paradise. <Lots of things are contributing to your algae plague.  One is silicates.  They're in your tap water, and without running your water through some sort of filtration, they're adding up.  Phosphate should be undetectable, I recommend RowaPhos for this.  Your skimming could certainly be improved, but it's money better spent on an RO Unit.  More current will help eradicate dead zones in which the algae flourishes.  The last thing you want to do is add more fish now.  Take the loss of the last two fish as a blessing in disguise, it allows you to conquer your algae problems before adding to the bio-load.  If you truly want to get rid of the algae, leech your system of phosphates and silicates, invest in an RO Unit, and do small water changes daily.  This, in combination with better skimming, should solve your problems.  Good luck, Ryan> What are your thoughts? Happy fishkeeping! <Same to you my friend!>

Long green algae, unwanted Dear WWM, <Hi Adam, MacL here> I have a 30g eclipse style saltwater tank, with 1 false eye puffer, 1 Catalina goby, 1 clown fish, and 1 cleaner shrimp and some crabs.. I have a aqua c remora skimmer, and the eclipse filtration through the back, and a mag 900 aerator, along with 30 lbs of LR .. all parameters are good, I have salinity of .026. <Little high, really consider lowering it slowly.> My question is, I keep getting long green algae growing on the aerators and pumps, and now I have them growing all over the LR.. I think it may be from the higher salinity with over nutrients in the water, or possible over feeding from my mom when I'm at the university. <Over feeding will definitely do it. Let me recommend you take a look at the algae faq's http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm. Many people are also dealing with this unsightly stuff. I have gone so far as to take a toothbrush and brush my live rock to get it off. Take a look at those and the connecting frequently asked questions and I think they will answer what you need.> Any tips on how to get rid of this ugly green hairy algae!!!-thanks, Adam <Good luck Adam. I'm pretty sure all your questions will be answered there. MacL>

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

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

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

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

All That Green Has Him Seeing Red! Hey Crew! <Scott F. your Crew Member tonight!> I have a 29 gallon saltwater aquarium that I am trying to get ready for coral.  One of the problems that I can't seem to remedy is that the tank is filled with green hair algae.  I keep the glass clean, but it grows every other place possible (the heater, the power head, protein skimmer, the live rock, even on the shell of one of my hermit crabs).  I have been searching for help on the web, but no one can seem to agree on the best choice.  Here is a breakdown of my aquarium: 29 gallon saltwater Power Compact Lighting Power Head Heater BioWheel filter Protein skimmer Live Sand Live Rock Trigger Fish, Spotted Hawaiian Puffer, 2 damsels, and hermit crabs.   <That's a pretty large bioload for a 29 gallon tank...Really too much for long term success and stable water quality. Reducing the bioload by removing some of these heavy eaters is one of the first things that you could do to improve water quality> I just bought a tap-water filter and some phosphorus remover for the filter, but is that enough?  How much and how often should I change water?  What am I doing wrong? Kenneth Merenda Houston TX <Well, Kenneth, a few suggestions...Good call on the water purifier. Source water with excessive nitrates, phosphates, and silicates is a significant contributor to nuisance algae blooms in aquariums. Controlling nuisance algae is really all about nutrient export processes, IMO. Make sure that the protein skimmer is really cranking out at least a couple of cups per week of dark, yucky skimmate. Clean the skimmer regularly, as a clean skimmer does a better job. Also, consider two smaller (like 5% of tank volume) water changes per week, to help dilute organics before they begin to accumulate and deteriorate water quality. Utilize chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon and Poly Filter, which do a great job at removing nutrients from systems. Make sure that, if you use mechanical "prefilters" or other mechanical media, that you clean and/or replace them often. Other aspects of general good husbandry, such as careful feeding, use of a deep sand bed (to reduce nitrate) and good water circulation, and even manually removing the algae as it appears will all help. With patience, diligence, and persistency, you will see these nuisance algae start to diminish in relatively short order. Hang in there! You can do it! Regards, Scott F>

All That Green Has Him Seeing Red (Pt. 2) Scott <Hello again!> Which fish, specifically do you recommend I remove? <Well, I'd find larger homes for the trigger and the puffer. They tend to be messy eaters, produce a lot of metabolic waste, and will simply get to large for a 29 gallon tank> I took your advice and scrubbed all the algae I could find in the tank.  Its nice to be able to see the live rock again. <Yep- physical removal helps relieve the "symptom", but not the cause. Don't forget that we need to attack the root problem, which is the accumulation of excess nutrients...> My protein skimmer is working, but lately it hasn't really been dark water - more of a light yellow, actually.  The skimmer I have is the in-tank kind.  Should I consider upgrading, or could there be another reason it is not skimmer the nasty stuff? Kenneth <Well, Kenneth- I'd try either tweaking the skimmer until you get that dark skimmate, or possibly consider an upgrade to a better model, like an Aqua C Remora Pro (a great hang-on-the-tank skimmer for smaller systems) or a CPR Bak Pak. Keep at the nutrient-reduction tasks, and that algae will start to be a thing of the past! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hair Algae nightmare Hi Bob, <<Not Bob, by JasonC here drinking coffee with Bob, how are you?>> I have had a hair algae problem for about three months now, I have physically removed it on several occasions and it always comes back. <<not an uncommon condition, my friend.>> I have a 120 gallon tank with a 3 inch sand bed and roughly 100 lbs of live rock. I dose B-ionic regularly and add iodine about once a month. I have an Aqua-c skimmer and run carbon 24/7. What am I doing wrong???? <<Hard to say without coming over to your house and watching your habits for a week or two. The most common cause for nuisance algae is detritus accumulation, either from overfeeding, lack of circulation, or both. I would suggest trying some additional powerheads to increase the flow, keeping the detritus in suspension and then hopefully into your filtration where it can be exported by the skimmer or in the pre-filter pads. You will probably have to get your hands in the tank more frequently to help remove the big chunks. This battle is not won over night. Keep at it. Cheers, J -- >>

Algae Bob, I have recently encountered a hair algae problem in my recently set up 180. The new tank is an upsize from my old 150 and at least 50% of the old water was used. What is funny is that I've had a Yellow , Blue and Sailfin Tang for about a year and a half. When the soft green hair algae showed up, none of the tangs would touch it. Are there some types of hair algae that tangs will not consume? <Absolutely... do give a read over the "algae control" sections on our site... starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the many links beyond... As you're likely aware, most all systems go through a "pest algae phase"... even with transfer of much existing water, materials... There are some forms of algae most everything avoids ingesting... but many other "roads to Rome" for control... Bob Fenner> Thank you, Jim Gasta

Green hair algae How do you get rid of green hair algae???????? I found out the hard way I was leaving the light on too long..........more than 10 hours a day. Now this green furry stuff is everywhere. We tried pulling it off...........turkey basted some off into water, caught some in net and let the power skimmer catch a lot of it, but it is not going away. We changed 5 gal. of the water (54gal) tank, and cleaned all filters but it seems it is only a little better. We also purchased two blue leg crabs and a red lip blenny which are supposed to help. Any Suggestions?????????????? <Many. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the many associated articles, FAQs linked beyond. You will know how to develop and implement a long-term system of maintenance with the understanding gained. Bob Fenner>

Reef tank algae problems Mr. Fenner,  I appreciate all the excellent advice you've given me in the past. I must turn to you once again for a little problem I'm having with my 55-gallon reef tank. It is over-run with hair algae. We've tried several things we've seen on the website, and are putting Caulerpa in the sump in a few minutes to try to clear it up. <This will help> My question is this: I told our LFS-manager the situation and he told me to take the bio-balls out of our wet-dry filter because a reef tank does not need that much biological filtration. <Mmm, agreed in so much that once-established there is plenty of biological filtration from other sources... principally the live rock> The tank has been set up for 2 years. He said that the bacteria in the bio-balls was contributing to the hair algae growth. To believe, or not to believe?  <This is very likely so. I would pull the plastic media. Bob Fenner> Thanks again for all your help and I eagerly await your response.  Thanks again, Tracy

Major Reef Tank Problem (green hair algae) Dear Bob: I haven't communicated with you for a while. I hope everything is well with you. <Yes. Thank you> Bob, I am trying not to become overly depressed about my 92 gallon reef set-up. I've got an out of control hair/turf algae problem that I cannot pinpoint the cause. Here are some facts: <Not to worry... many causes, cures... we can solve this one> -My tank is 15 months old -90 lbs of live rock -20 gallon sump refugium with housing some Caulerpa algae lighted by a 65 watt LOA flourex light about 16 hours/day -EuroReef skimmer - MAG 7 return pump -3 internal powerheads -about 2 inches of aragonite sand. Particle size in between crushed coral and oolite sand -low bioload, i.e., 3 fish, cleanup crew, cleaner shrimp, 4 soft corals, 2 LPS corals, mushrooms, button polyps -top off reservoir filled with Tap Water Purifier water -0 nitrates reading -0 phosphate reading -2.5 mg/l alkalinity <Mmm, this is a bit low...> -450 ppm calcium -IceCap 660 VHO lamp system - 1 95 watt actinic blue URI lamp, 1 95 watt white 50/50 URI lamp, 1 95 watt AquaSun URI lamp and 1 75 watt actinic blue URI lamp Turf/hair algae is completely overrunning my tank. It is growing in between my candy cane coral, on every rock, some of it is up to 1 inch in length, some even on sand, consuming almost all of my button polyps, etc. For about 4 weeks now I have been scrubbing rocks and trying pull out this algae, scooping it out with a net. In addition I have been doing 20% water changes every two weeks. Last week, I even took out half of my rock and scrubbed it in a separate container, but it is now growing again on it. I have had carbon in the sump now for about a week, and also Marc Weiss' new Phosphate/Silicate Magnet product in there for 3 days now. <Get rid of this product> I believe my problem may have begun when I decided I needed to start replacing my lamps since it had been 1 year since I purchased them. I first changed the AquaSun, and noticed within about a week that algae was starting to grow on the rocks below this lamp. I changed the remaining lamps, each being changed about every 2 weeks. <Mmm, maybe a source of stimulation... you know now that you want to cycle the lamps in/out on an "effective life span cycle"> Bob, I am so frustrated. I have had no losses of life due to bad water conditions until now - my normally perfectly healthy 8 month old yellowhead Jawfish I believe got so stressed out from my rock scrubbing and turkey baster blowing that he stopped eating and died, and a new Foxface I got to help with algae control never adjusted and died in a week. Your input would be greatly appreciated, as I am baffled. <You have nice gear, seem quite aware of what is going on (you know what you know) re your system. I would take some simple, plain steps at this point to return your system to "center". As easy as it may seem, raising your alkalinity is paramount to your success here. You don't mention how you raise your calcium, but I would look into two part additives, supplements that contain calcium chloride, and use a modicum of simple baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), a few teaspoons dissolved in system water per day, poured in about the surface... and measure in the AM to see if you're able to boost alkalinity in this way. In addition I would add some of my favorite algae eaters: One or two specimens of Salarias fasciatus or Atrosalarias sp. blennies.  Do get/use a phosphate test kit... this source of rate-limiting nutrient may be playing a pivotal role here... And please read through the many FAQs, articles on "marine algae", "control" posted on the WWM site starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm We can/could talk over the implementation of a calcium reactor (a carbon dioxide infusion type), getting a reverse osmosis unit for your new water use (in place of the TWP)... but that can/will come later. Try to read over the links where I've sent you, and prepare for the changes suggested. In a few weeks, the pest hair algae problem will be in decline. Bob Fenner> Sorry for the long dissertation, but I wanted to give you as much information as possible. John
Re: Major Reef Tank Problem
Thank you for your reply Bob. I did forget to mention that my open brain coral is also not expanding like it normally does, and my pagoda cup coral has not been extending any of it's polyps for about 1 week now. I have been testing for phosphates (SERA test kit) and my readings are nil. I'll take out the Marc Weiss product at your suggestion, but should I keep the carbon in? <Yes> Also, I am using Kent Marine's 2 part Alk/calcium system, and dripping granular alkalinity or calcium (Kent) into my sump if these levels have been low. I do agree my system is not "centered" like you stated. Before all of this disrupt, it seems like all I needed to do was add my 2 part solutions and everything was fine. Another additional step I have taken lately has been adding magnesium because my test results showed lower levels. Finally, I forgot to mention that I am noticing a kind of film with small particles that has constantly remained on the water surface. <From the additives... no big deal... can be lifted off with a clean, unscented paper towel as a "wick"> Again, thanks so much for your advice. I do hope you can help get my tank out of this funk so I can really enjoy this great hobby again. <I'll be here to help if I can. Bob Fenner> John
Re: Major Reef Tank Problem
Thanks once again, Bob. Last question (I think, at least for now!) - do you think I should temporarily reduce the photoperiod? I did this for about 2 weeks (about 4 hrs/day), but I am afraid that my photosynthetic corals may not want this shortened period any longer. <Agreed. I would not shorten, alter your photoperiod. Bob Fenner>

Hair algae Is hair algae detrimental to water quality in a FOWLR system other than visually? <Hmm, actually, generally not... unless there is "a whole bunch" for the size/volume of the system, these forms of life are likely more beneficial than detrimental... "taking up nutrient", packaging it into formats useful for your livestock, providing habitat...> By the way, you may already know this, but Aqua-Medic has produced its own pump for the Turboflotor 1000 which will be available in October 2001. (This is good news for me because of limited space in my sump!) It will be similar in size to the Rio, but of higher quality. <Hmm, no, haven't heard or seen this. Thanks for the notice> Have you ever witnessed a big moray "play" with a lobster? I was in Cozumel last week and filmed about a 6-7 foot green moray chase down and dismantle a large Caribbean lobster; it was very exciting! <Again, thank you for relating this. Have not seen myself. Bob Fenner> Grateful for your time and patience, Ken Kiefer

Mixing cleaner-uppers and hair algae I have 105gal tank w/approx. 85lbs. of live rock and 40lbs of sand. The tank went through a brown algae phase, and has now cycled. 0 amm. 0 nitrite. 5ppm Nitrate. Green hair algae began to grow about a week ago. I have also noticed some bubble algae, and some reds as well. I wanted to mix a 30 gal. classic and 30 gal. reef relief. However, some of the hair algae has grown quite thick, about 2" long and has covered the highest piece of rock completely. Will these clean-up crews tackle this dense patch of hair algae? I tried to pick it off, but it's slimy and proves to be a nearly impossible task. < Sounds like a job for a 'lawn-mower' algae blenny. There are very, very few crabs or snails that eat this stuff. Some tangs will also munch it. -Lorenzo, standing in for Bob-in-Asia>

Hair/Green Algae Bob I have a 55gl tank with (4) 55 watt compacts, (1) CPR BakPak filter, (1) te-5 little giant pump just for circulation, 60-70lbs of live rock, some new a lot of coralline, ph-8.4, nitrate-0, phosphate-3.0(very high),  <Yikes, yes> I am using tap water, and having a lot of green algae and some brown aloe growing all over, I also have (1) yellow tang (1) bird wrasse (1) mandarin (1) true percula, and some yellow polyps, and a couple of mushroom corals that look like they are dying? <What?> what can I do to solve my problem, also 10-20 hermits running around at all times, the tank has been running for 2 yrs now,,,, any suggestion would be great,,, thanks Chris Campbell,,,,, <A bunch of things to consider doing here... For one, due to the age of this system, do place/replace some of the live rock... reasons for this posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com site where I refer you to read over the "Algal Filtration", "Algae Control" sections and related FAQs (where you'll find this soon...)... and "Seawater Use", "Treating Tap" sections... because your source water is one major obstacle here... do get an R.O. unit for your pet-fish and personal use... and grow some macroalgae in a sump (lighted) and/or your main system... Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Hello, Progress Report, and Hair Algae Hi Bob! I've been quiet--but I've been busy. Thanks for your suggestion to find a good newsgroup. I joined one. It's nice, even being new at this, to be able to pass along some of what I've learned, and to learn more. (I'll admit, however, that my passing along your suggestion that Aiptasia be eliminated by a freshwater soak of the LR was met with some consternation and generated some spirited exchanges. . .and there still appear to be lots of "myths" floating around out there as well. . . ) <Yes...> At any rate--I've already done two 25-gallon water changes. Alk has dropped from 5 mEq/L to 3 mEq/L--which in my case is a good thing. Ca has risen from 210 to 255. This increase is just from dilution of the anionic concentration, and from the Ca present in the salt mix, as I'm not supplementing with anything during this recovery process. (Even if I did, I don't think it would help, because the Ca is going to top out at its saturation level as the anionic condition is decreased--what I'm saying is, the reason the Ca level is at 255 now is most likely because that is the highest concentration the water will support. And as the anionic condition is reduced, some Ca that had previously precipitated out will probably dissolve and reenter solution on its own.) pH has come up from a low of 7.75 and is now at 8.0. I think I probably have about 4 to 6 more 25-gallon changes to go before I get a n acceptable, workable balance in the water chemistry. (Mathematically, eight 25% water changes will still leave about 10% of the "bad" water in the tank--even though the aggregate change is 200% of the tank's volume.) <More practice at math...> In case you're wondering how this is working--every night after I finish the water change, I mix new synthetic water in a big Rubbermaid tub for the next night, put a MaxiJet 1200 in the tub with a 300W heater set to my tank's daytime temperature, I tweak the SG in the AM after it's warmed some, and when I get home from work in the evening, viola!--fresh synthetic water, all agitated, at the exact system SG and temperature--and then the cycle starts all over again. <As imagined> Incidentally, I posted my dilemma on the NG on Sunday night, before I had reasoned all this out--and the next day I got a response, from a guy who also lives in Dallas, suggesting that I had an ionic imbalance! He had been through the same thing--and most likely his was also caused by a defective and/or exhausted RO/DI unit. And he suggested substantial, successive water changes. <Yep> I won't keep you long this time--I know you're busy and my work is cut out for me. <...> One question--my bubble coral has hair algae on it--on one spine, the algae is displacing the fleshy part of the animal from the spine. This started recently. I know hair algae on coral is usually a deadly combination. Will this correct itself once the water chemistry is worked out? Should I manually remove as much of the hair algae as possible now? <Leave it be...> Hope you're having a good week. Chat again soon. --James D <You live, you learn. Bob Fenner>

Algae Blues? hey bob, I'm going to place an order with your old pals FFExpress on Thursday for a Friday delivery (taking off work early to acclimate)...I had an algae outbreak of long green hairline algae, all over my rocks and back wall. the first thing I did was scrap most of it off, and siphon through a net into a bucket, so the algae would get trapped in the net and I could return the same water, it seemed to have worked well...then I did my first water change with RO water (I hope that unit helps?).. <Only time will/could tell... likely to be back without the item below...> the fish I plan on buying to remedy my algae are 2 lawnmower blennies (can I get 2?, <One is likely enough... for any but very large systems... really> or will they not get along). a hippo tang, a Sailfin tang, and 2 Mithrax crabs. are these good selections/methods for algae control or do you recommend any other fish...thanks for the advice <These and toss in a comb-tooth tang species (genus Ctenochaetus). They're reviewed, pictured, rated on our www.wetwebmedia.com site. Bob Fenner> bob, before I order it from FFExpress, the lawnmower blenny is the best fish to get rid of my green hair algae (the green algae is on a piece of live rock covering an area the size of your hand and is about an inch and a half long, it actually looks pretty cool, just swaying in the current, is this algae bad?  <Likely not bad, yes to being eaten> one of my clownfish thinks and treats it like its an anemone), I also just bought a R.O. unit, how big of a water change could I do at one time, I have a 55 gallon reef tank, is 8 gallons this weeks and 8 gallons the next week o.k. or too much? will big and frequent changes like this affect the calcium levels in my reef tank?...just one more question about the corals in my tank, my leather corals, flower pot coral, frogspawn, etc. are all doing fine but my mushrooms and polyps aren't...my calcium levels are 450 and ph and KH are fine, I also add iodide and Combisan once a week, and my lighting is 2 55 watt power compacts...any suggestions...thanks again...Jeff <For the rest, pls refer to materials stored on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner in the Cooks>

Green Hair Algae Bob- I just read your response to someone's question about green hair algae. I have had the same problem for the past year and on several occasions it has brought me to the brink of giving up. This is by far the most discouraging event for a reef tank lover. I still have the problem even after adding a lawnmower blenny and a Kole Tang. Quite honestly, I do not think they ever eat the hair algae. Two months ago I decided to leave my lights on for 12 hours instead of 8 and slowly the hair algae is turning white or light green. I currently have four 30 W, 10,000 K light bulbs, 2 actinic and 2 blue. My tank is a 59 gallon Oceanic. I have two power heads for filtration, UV Sterilizer and a 20" US Aquarium Protein Skimmer rated for a 75 gallon tank. I stopped using all additives besides a little calcium when it drops below 400. Ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and phosphates are zero. I only use reverse osmosis purified bottled water when I do my 10% water change every other week.  The only thing I haven't tried is to put competing algae in the tank. I do not know which kind and where I can buy it. Also I have been using a Magnum 350 with Phosguard and a carbon from Chemi-Pure constantly running in it. Should a remove the Magnum and only run it when I want to use some carbon for a few days? I believe you said the life of a carbon is 2 - 3 days previously. Will removing the Magnum filter have any negative effects? Lastly, in your post on 1/7/00 that I referred to earlier you said to use a Polyfilter. Should I occasionally run it in my Magnum? Thanks again for all your help. Rob < Yes to a bunch of what you've stated here... For one, in your first paragraph... it might seem illogical, but increasing the amount of light may well disfavor the green algae... with perhaps nutrient being taken up by other photosynthetic life... that may be producing an allelopathogen (chemicals that affect the metabolism of other species). Very good to read of your limiting "additives"... this will pay dividends as time goes by... Unfortunately, you may know... for every gram of solid material you've added, literally pounds of algae can result... Keep up the good fight... The competing algae can be as simple as a bunch (non-scientific term) of Halimeda or Caulerpa... the two most common macrophytes in the trade... FFExpress sells them, I'll bet. They can be placed right in the main tank in a bright spot... or in a sump if you add one... with a light. I would run the Magnum (or other canister filter) if I had it, continuously... as you've been doing... maybe with the occasional use of a PolyFilter (this product really works)... even though the carbon gets "exhausted" in a matter of hours to days (sometimes minutes...). The carbon is still useful for bio conversion... Have you tried a Mithrax Crab yet? I would... Bob Fenner>

Hair algae hi bob: have had serious hair algae outbreak. Medium level phosphates and lighting are problems. Water quality too. Have addressed water and lights. Have high level skimmer and plenty live rock and sand. Question is: does it make sense to add a filter in which UltraLife phosphate remover is the medium (e.g. Fluval MSF) or will this simply cause the removed phosphate to leach back into the system as some have suggested? Help? Please respond to xxxx. Many thanks! < To me the proposed addition of the designated phosphate remover to its own outside power filter only makes partial or somewhat sense. The phosphate that is in the system will be absorbed, recycled to a smaller and smaller extent, and over time precipitated out as insoluble material... And you will be adding more... not through your tapwater as you state, but in foodstuffs... and this matter is an essential nutrient, not only of algae, but corals, fishes...  Instead, I would "strike a balance" in your case, with algae eating animals (red legged hermits, Mithrax crab, Salarias Blenny, Zebrasoma & Ctenochaetus Tangs... and look into adding some nutrient competitors like fast growing macro-algae... the use of chemical filtrants is not as straight forward and "neat" as folks think it might be... it seems you know this. I do too. Bob Fenner>

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: