FAQs on Marine Algae Identification
Related Articles: Avoiding Algae Problems in Marine System,
Control, Marine Maintenance,
Nutrient Control and Export,
Marine Scavengers, Snails, Hermit
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"/(Cyanobacteria), Diatoms, Brown
Related FAQs: Algae ID Visual
Guide, Marine Algae ID 1,
Marine Algae ID 2, Marine Algae ID 3, Marine Algae ID 4, Marine Algae ID 5, Marine Algae ID 6, Marine Algae ID 7, Marine Algae ID 8, Marine Algae ID 9, Marine Algae ID 10, Marine Algae ID 11, Marine Algae ID 12, Marine Algae ID 13, Marine Algae ID 14, Marine Algae ID 15, Marine Algae ID 16, Marine Algae ID 17, Marine Algae ID 18, Marine Algae ID 19, Marine Algae ID 20, Marine Algae ID 21, Marine Algae ID 21, Marine Algae ID 23, Marine Algae ID 24, Marine Algae ID 25, SW Algae ID 26, SW Algae ID 28, SW Algae ID 29, SW Algae ID 30, SW Algae ID 31, SW Algae ID 32, SW Algae ID 33, SW Algae ID 34, SW Algae ID 35, SW
Algae ID 36, SW Algae ID 37, SW
Algae ID 38, SW Algae ID 39, & Marine Algae Control FAQs 2, Marine Algaecide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; Controlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Green Algae, Brown/Diatom
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Marine Aquarium Algae Control
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
I have a yellowish tan covering on my liverock. The closer to the
light, the more the covering. Can you identify this?
<A form of BGA.>
Is it a type of algae?
If so, any suggestions?
<Sure, all archived here:
42 gal sump
29 gal. refugium with Chaeto
Bubble King mini 180 skimmer
2 Vortech MP40Ws
Red Dragon 6.5 pump
The tank is about 2 months post rock curing.
Lighting: Aquaillumination LEDs set at 80% blue and white. Is my
lighting too bright?
<Artificially high, will be tough to sustain and no reason
1 royal gramma
3 Bartlett's anthias
1 flame angel
All appear healthy and are eating
20 hermit crabs
1 Tongan Strombus conchs
2 super Tongan Nassarius
1 chocolate chip sea cucumber
<Welcome, Scott V.>
"Bugs" ID sans pix, info.
<Okay... hi there Kenny>
Ok have little bugs that kind of look like a tiny smooth green leaf
with an even smaller little red antennae (poker?) coming out of the
backside or maybe front cant really tell what is the head or tail of
these things. Don't have a clue and they are only about a
centimeter long and maybe a third of a centimeter wide. Wish I could
get pictures for you and have searched the net for something close but
no luck, camera wont focus well enough either.
Thanks for any help
<Mmm, maybe a bit more clue-wise? Is this freshwater, marine, on
your house plants? Really need some clear pix... a few hundred Kbytes
max.... Bob Fenner>
Need help, please 05/20/09
Let me say first of all that I bow in your long shadow of aquatic
knowledge. I hope someday I will come close to knowing all
that you know. I'm still new to saltwater aquariums and
am forever fascinated. With that I will cut to the
chase. I have a 120 gallon reef display(no corals yet) with
a 55gl refugium. And recently have noticed some new growth that I
cant identify. The first picture attached is some sort of bubble
<Mmm, actually... there are bubbles "stuck" in the
Looks like air bubbles but definitely is not. The second pic is
what looks like a white fungus. This white spiderweb-by growth
has covered my LR and is now growing in overflow boxes and
<Mmm... could be a few things... need a closer up pic, better
resolved to guess better>
I cannot find anything on your website on either of these two.
Hope you can help. FYI. I am still, yet slowly, adding equipment
to my tank. I am getting metal halides this weekend but for now
am running standard fluorescent lights. I do not have a protein
skimmer yet but that is next on the list after the lights. All
measurements are within reason except nitrates are at 80ppm.
<Way too high>
Tank is 78 degrees.
Have a great day.
The Shoemaker Family
<You as well. Bob Fenner>
Macroalgae ID... Bubble algae... green AND red!
<Hey Melanie, Mich with you today.>
Could you please ID what I have growing in my tank?
I assume it is some kind of macroalgae.
<Yes, looks like Botryocladia skottsbergii to me. More
I know all about the Valonia.
<Umm, I see...>
Thanks for all your help.
<Hope this helps,
<<Sara... where's the graphic? RMF>>
Macroalgae ID... Caulerpa nummularia
What about this stuff?
<Looks like Caulerpa nummularia to me. In my opinion it is a
nuisance algae, though some use it for nutrient export. In
California some species of Caulerpa are illegal, though this is
not one of those species but is still not desirable in my
opinion. Once established, it is very difficult to rid from your
system, with manual removal, which may include chiseling rocks,
being a common method of extraction. If it were me, I would try
to remove as much as possible as soon as possible.>
This picture must not have went through on the original
<No it did. Just a brain fart on my part, sorry. Is WAY past
What is this??? Nuisance Algae...
I have this growing on some rocks, tried to scrub it off with a
toothbrush and bristle brush and it doesn't come off at all,
almost like coralline algae? But the color is off right?
<Uh-oh! You don't want this! Is Lobophora...
You will need to remove the rock from your tank and manually
remove it, perhaps employing a chisel to remove from the
Another set of rocks, this set has burgundy stuff on right,
<No worries on this, is a coralline>
same look as the brown, then more brown on left
My Vortech has snotty brown stuff on it, I have to use a scrub
pad each week when I clean to get it all off.
<Mmm, is a nuisance algae, keep cleaning it... but remove it
from the system to clean it.>
My sandbed is also getting a brown film on it that clings
together like a carpet, very faint, not heavily infested yet (not
red or burgundy like Cyano).
<Likely a diatom, you need to reduce your nutrients.>
I have three Vortechs moving some serious water in my 90g, tank
is about 3-4mth old, all levels zero (phosphate, nitrite,
nitrate, ammonia) but silicates are 3-4 but I have switched to
Rowaphos from another phosphate media and have changed from my RO
well water as top off water (109 TDS) to store bought water with
a TDS reading of 4-5. My RO/DI unit is on it's way from the
I am getting the double DI to battle my very very very high
TDS's (direct 1130 out of well).
Any ideas what all this stuff is?
Since I have stopped using my well RO for ATO water my skimmer is
producing way more skimmate, but I also changed to Rowaphos about
the same time so my water is on it's way to getting better (I
<Yes, does sound so. Just keep up on your husbandry, do
frequent water changes, don't overfeed, etc.
Re: What is this??? Nuisance Algae...
Sorry to be a PITA but this bad stuff seems to be on quite a few
So basically I would be taking my tank apart an hammering apart
<Mmm, unfortunately this algae is aggressive.>
I read the articles and get that it's bad but what exactly
does it do?
<Will become the primary life in the tank, to the detriment of
most all else.>
My tank seems to be having one drama after another.
<Sorry about this.>
I have great husbandry skills (weekly 15% water changes and once
a day light feedings).
<Excellent! Will serve you well, but as you've seen,
despite these excellent husbandry techniques this algae has
spread quickly and aggressively.>
For nutrient levels being high wouldn't my levels be off?
<Mmm, the algae can be taking up the excess, thus showing
little, to no residual.>
All are zero?
I have a 90g with a hippo tang, yellow tang, Foxface, 2 clowns, 1
Sixline and a lawnmower blenny.
<Wish there was only a single tang.>
Too many fish?
<At capacity in my opinion.>
I am so bummed to have to take out rocks to chisel them.
<Is a pain for sure.>
This stuff is in nooks and crannies-toss the rocks?
<Mmm, I'm hoping it's not that bad. But it is a
challenge to remove.>
Does it come on the LR or have I done something wrong?
<Likely hitchhiked it's way into your system. Not anything
you did wrong.
Unfortunately, you were missing the knowledge to know how much of
a nuisance Lobophora is before it got a foothold.>
Happy mothers day to me, sniff sniff.
<I am sorry Penny. I do hope it is not as bad as you
Hope your Mother's Day got better.
Sorry for your frustrations,
Algae ID: BGA\Cyano 4/20/2009
Tank is 90 gallons (30g sump, no refugium)
Nitrate0, Nitrite0, Phosphate0,ph8 night time-8.25 daytime, Ammonia0,
I have two bags of Chemi pure elite along with two Phosban reactors,
(one has Phosban, one carbon)
Bubbleking 180 skimmer, 2xVortech MP40's for movement set on reef
crest (stronger flow)
My tank is about 3 months along now, 100+lbs LR, and I have noticed a
slimy dark film on my sand (not super dark), some might not see it but
I do. (like diatoms but slimier) It's darker at night and
during the day but is a visible slime none the less. And in the evening
bubbles form on it, more bubbles at night then during the day. It is a
definite brown color though. I siphoned it all out and cleaned the
substrate and put it back in but I see it forming again now.
At first I wondered if it was the Coral FrenzY I was using (not lots,
maybe four times total in the last month but twice in the last week), I
only have soft corals and was told that they don't need a product
like coral frenzy so I have stopped using it. I have started feeding
very very lightly, poor fishies. But it still seems to be
coming back. I am buffering my Alk to about 10 from 7 (Seachem's
Reef Buffer), which also raises pH up which I hear is good for algae, I
dose at night when pH is low.
But to be truthful I have no clue as to what kind of algae or bloom is
happening. I don't want to just treat with something, guessing. I
am doing all I can, I do 16gallon water changes once a week. I can up
them if need be. The algae (or whatever it is) doesn't seem to be
"wild" or out of control. It spreads mostly in the front of
the aquarium in the open. I can see it mostly (darkest) around the open
brain and plate coral, like a brown border. It isn't on any of the
LR. Is this part of a growing phase of my tank?
<Not uncommon, but not desirable either.>
Or am I doomed? My levels seem good to me but I want to nip this in the
bud, is it one of those things that once it starts it's hard to
<It will take some work, but not insurmountable.>
Or is there hope? Please say there is hope.
<There is hope.>
I am very sorry for the long winded email but I wanted to explain it as
thoroughly as possible. Listing tank readings etc. I am not sure what
to do, I want to catch it early if it's something bad. I hope this
explanation helps. I searched through your website (holy crap!) and
couldn't find something similar, all I read was bubbles on the
sandbed are bad. So I am hoping for the best.
<What you have is Blue-Green Algae (Even if it is not blue-green in
Not at all uncommon in new systems. It is a 'pest' algae that
you will want to keep under control. You can read more about it and how
to control it here:
Thanks very much
Bubble or Banana, Algae Id, 4/8/09
I bought some live rock with this attached. I was told it was banana
algae which is, I understand, beneficial.
<Looks like Neomeris annulata to me, harmless and neat.>
It is a singular specimen and quite sturdy, about 3/4 " long. I
also have, on a separate piece, some small bona-fide bubble algae and
whilst researching that on the net I discovered not all bubble algae is
I started to worry!!!
<The bubble algae can quickly become problematic, however the
Neomeris annulata is not part of the problem here.>
The tank is a 90l Nano and has only been up for about 5 days so water
parameters are forever changing!!!!
So, this is a pic (sorry for quality), over to you guys...
<Not to worry here, but watch out for the bubble algae.>
<Chris><<Lost file, pic. RMF>>
|Diatoms: Attack of the Brown Scum
Hey crew, just a quick question today.
Please refer to the attached picture. What is the brown
"stuff" on the live rock? Is this diatoms, Cyano, natural
coloration or something else altogether.
<Looks like diatoms>
When I purchased the rock they were an off-white/beige color.
Tank is 50 gal and I have an Aqua C Remora skimmer, the last set of
test readings were done last week, readings were: Ph - 8.2, Amm -
0, NO2 - 0, NO3 - 0, Phos - 0.25, salinity 1.025. Inhabitants are 2
false Perculas, 1 royal Gramma, 1 bi-color blenny, 1 cleaner shrimp
and 7 turbo snails.
<Phosphates are a little high, You may want to add some
macroalgae to compete with the diatoms.
Secondly, would you say I am close to my stocking limits with this
Thanks in advance for your help.
<Yes, you are close to maxed out.>
| RMF bets mostly BGA
|Two quick saltwater questions
I have two quick questions.
Refer to this photo:
1. Have you ever heard of algae growing on the antennae of
<Mmm, yes... though I don't think this is a
"normal" or healthy condition for most species>
The big zebra hermit crab has what looks like red algae on his
antennae that wasn't there until recently. It runs the entire
length with a bigger clump right above the eyes.
2. Do you know what type of short hair algae that is in the
<Might be a Derbesia species... can you send a larger/more
highly resolved image?>
It doesn't rip off the live rock easily and none of the animals
(four species of hermit crab and three species of snail) eat it.
The hermit crabs do think it's a nice jungle gym though.
<Heeee! Please read here:
and the linked files above... to gain an understanding of what your
options, challenges may be here>
Like me nice crop of bubble algae?!
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Brown Algae (Diatoms)? [Yup!] -- 03/03/09 I
am not sure but I do believe my brown algae problem is Diatoms.
<<Yessiree'¦but hardly a 'problem' based
on your pics>> I am attaching pics of my problem...please
feel free to use these pictures as needed on your web site.
<<Thank you>> FYI this is a new tank and is still
cycling. <<So is experiencing the normal/natural algae
succession'¦ (In my best 'Master Po'
voice'¦ 'Ahh, patience Grasshopper')>> I
have read a lot about starting a new tank and am pretty well
convinced this is Diatoms. <<Indeed>> My tank is a
125H (60x18x24) hoping for a reef if I can get past my
intimidation level. <<A time for
reading/research'¦ Do see WWM re>> I am running 2
250w MH lights 12hours a day, 2-1300 gph powerheads cycled for 15
<minutes> alternately, 30g refugium w/ 50/50 pc light on
24/7, 2 cheap skimmers doing pretty well, Plus a homemade O2
fuser that adds O2 through my return pumps about 1 time per hour
flooding the tank with micro bubbles. <<Mmm, do read here
and among the linked files
(http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaqs.htm). Micro-bubbles can
be problematic>> Let me know what your opinion is of my
algae problem. <<Is not a problem'¦ Let your tank
keep cycling as it is'¦and start your research re your
desired biotope to replicate>> Thanks- your site is great
and I find a lot of good reading. <<Me too! >>
<<Cheers, Eric Russell>>
New Print and
eBook on Amazon
Marine Aquarium Algae Control
by Robert (Bob) Fenner