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FAQs on Marine Algae and Their Control 18

Related Articles: Avoiding Algae Problems in Marine System, Algae Control, Marine Maintenance, 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,

Related FAQs: Marine Algae Control FAQs 1, Marine Algae Control 2, Marine Algae Control 3, Marine Algae Control 4, Marine Algae Control 5, Marine Algae Control 6, Marine Algae Control 7, Marine Algae Control 8, Marine Algae Control 9, Marine Algae Control 10, Marine Algae Control 11, Marine Algae Control 12, Marine Algae Control 13, Marine Algae Control 14, Marine Algae Control 15, SW Algae Control 16, SW Algae Control 17, SW Algae Control 19, SW Algae Control 20, SW Algae Control 21, Marine Algicide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; Controlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Green Algae, Brown/Diatom Algae, Phosphate

It's hard to near impossible to make an accurate identification based off description. If you want to continue this correspondence I would suggest sending along a photo as well as your tanks chemical readings,
specifications and age.
Determination to Division (eq. to animal phylum) requires the use of a microscope.

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Algae Problems!!! 4/12/10
Dear sir,
I have a cyanoBACTERIA <Cyano> and green hair algae in my salt water aquarium.
My question how can I get rid of all these algae growing to my tank and safe for my corals and fishes.?
Is almost three months I still have all that algae. What is best to do?
Kindly assist and advice me to this matters.
Here is my aquarium picture
<You offer little information here. No water parameters, tank size, maintenance regime, stocking level, use of protein skimmer, etc.
<I suggest you read/employ guidelines found here.
Thank you very much and waiting for your guidelines.
<You're welcome, and I might add that I like the looks of your aquascaping.
James (Salty Dog)>

algae, contr., SW 2/26/10
<Hi Dean>
I have an ongoing problem I hope you can help me with.
<I'll try>
I have a 125G salt tank with about 100 pounds of live rock and 8-10 fish. I have been battling hair algae for about 3 of the 6 months this tank has been set up.
<Look to your stocking/ feeding>
I bought a Aquaripure nitrate removing filter a couple weeks ago and currently waiting on that to establish.
<This is a denitrator. Be aware that these are difficult to run without an ORP computer>
My filtration is a Marineland Tidepool with the single large BioWheel.
<An integrated sump. Does the wheel trap debris?>
Should I remove it, and if so how?
<With the amount of live rock you have you could probably safely remove this, assuming your fishes are not too large. If they are then that is your problem, not the wheel>.
Is this wheel causing my algae breakout?
<Probably not>
My nitrates read 0 but could be a false reading if algae is consuming it all.
<I have to ask -- if your nitrates are so low why have you added a denitrator? All life needs some NO3 and you will deprive your system of it with this>
I feed sparingly and remove phosphates.
<How are you removing this, and what are your test results for it?>
Should I remove the wheel? I can't remove it slowly like removing a few bio balls at a time but can maybe stop it from spinning then remove later. I have done all the tricks for the hair algae there is but I'm convinced it's this wheel.
<You could try removing it, but I doubt if this is THE answer. Combating algae problems is best done by 'attacking from all fronts'. Have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm. Maybe try a refugium set up to out-compete the algae>
<Cheers, Simon>

26/02/10 Re: Hair algae
<Hello Dean>
Thanks for your response.
<No problem>
As for fish, I have a Yellow Tang, 2 Brown Tangs
<Are these Ctenochaetus? What species?>
, 3-4 Damsels, a Lawnmower Blenny
<I would be surprised if this is getting along with your Brown Tangs>, Scooter Blenny, Copperband Butterfly.
<This is overstocked with three Tangs, depending on what they are and how big depends on how much overstocked. Please capitalise these names in future correspondence Dean if you could>
I am feeding dry algae sheets every other day,
<How much? Are these eaten immediately or do you leave them in the tank?>
frozen brine once a day that I rinse in RO water, and sometimes shrimp that is also rinsed in RO water.
I run the Aquaripure because I was told you do not want any nitrates in a tank, and I do not know what a ORP computer is.
<Mmm, you do need 'some' NO3, these units can efficiently remove all, to the detriment of the system. They should only be employed when nitrates are high, and yours are not. An ORP computer is a computer that measures/ adjusts the Oxidation Reduction Potential inside the denitrator. This turns the pump/ flow on and off when required. Without this, you will find you are constantly fiddling around with drip/ flow rates etc. Also there are some bad H2S smells that can come out of these units because they are operating in anoxic conditions. The computer prevents this.>
I doubt the BioWheel is trapping much debris <Me neither> but I have removed it and in its place I added live rock rubble.
<Mmm, may be counterproductive here>
Other than the fish I have 3-4 Mushrooms, a Leather, Zoanthids and polyps. Also one Anemone. Could it be my feeding and if so, how much would you feed and what?
The algae really took off when I installed a new MH light with fluorescents. Also I am looking into a refugium set up now.
<This will help, benefit>
Bought some macro for the tank.
<Yes, this is a good weapon>
Thanks Dean
<No problem Dean. You really need to attack this from all directions, and your main weapon is good old fashioned elbow grease. Removing algae, water changes etc. Grow some competing macroalgaes, reduce numbers of fishes, maybe look to using some GFO in a reactor to limit PO4, aggressive skimming. There are many other small things you can do, learn about by reading. Spend some time trawling through the FAQ's here on WWM, there are MANY such. These problems are difficult but also beatable. Simon.>

Re: Ozonizer/Air Dryer Questions (and now nuisance algae too) -- 02/19/10
Hey Eric,
<<Hey Bella!>>
I thought I would wait to see how the ozonizer did before asking you a few more questions.
I have an Ozotech 150 ozonizer,
<<Ahh'¦an excellent make>>
I still can't get air thru the Taam dryer even though I shortened the lines,
<<Hmm'¦a 'reversed' check-valve maybe?>>
and I can blow air through it so it's not blocked,
the Luft pump is new and the diaphragm seems fine.
<<Must say I find it very odd that this pressure-rated air pump can't 'get through' the bead dryer>>
So for now I'll just clean the ozonizer.
<<Follow the manufacturer's instructions re and this will be fine. I have been doing some reading/research of late and it seems that the use of an air dryer, at least at a non-commercial level, may only be of 'nominal' benefit at best. This is based on some tests performed by Randy Holmes-Farley utilizing a single make/model of ozone generator'¦so while interesting/thought provoking, is hardly conclusive. Still, cleaning the Ozotech every 1-3 months beats removing/drying silica beads a couple times a week>>
My ORP has settled down, staying right around 350 unless I add water etc.
<<Very good'¦ You could increase this somewhat by utilizing an ozone reactor as opposed to the skimmer (I've become convinced that a reactor is a much more efficient means of utilizing ozone in aquaria)'¦but this reading is fine>>
I should have told you I did calibrate the ORP meter before using it.
Also I do have ozone safe tubing; I just didn't make that clear.
<<Excellent'¦thank you for the clarification>>
I am still adjusting my magnesium to get it to the correct level and have started adding baking soda to get the Alk up to par (Was in the low end of normal).
Question time: sorry for the length of it.
<<No worries>>
Tank is 95g high, 250W MH light with Phoenix Hex Arc bulb (2 months old), 125 lbs live sand, 175 lbs live rock, (tank is about 3 yrs old) 2 Vortech mp 10, 1 Maxi-Jet updated to 1200 gph, 1 Hydor 3, LifeReef protein skimmer w/500gph pump. 1 Firefish, 2 clown gobies, 1 maroon clown, 1 6-line wrasse, 1 Arabian wrasse, lots of Asterina starfish, snails, hermit crabs. Some SPS frags and LPS frags and a Maxima clam. My problem is algae,
<<Mmm'¦oh so common>>
I have never gotten rid of diatom algae since I first set up the tank but through this website I have gotten it to where it just needs the glass cleaned a few times a week,
<<Ah'¦hardly a 'problem' then>>
but right around Thanksgiving I started to get the green stuff.
<<Not talking about green-bean casserole I take>>
I couldn't place why till right around Christmas when I discovered that my R/O membrane needed replacing (letting 2ppm get past it) although it was only 3 months old.
<<Mmm'¦ It's not unusual for an RO membrane to 'allow' a small TDS reading. Most any membrane will have a less-than-100% rejection rate (and is why many reef hobbyists employ DI (deionization) in conjunction with RO)'¦with many of the 'better' ones rating at 98% rejection. And even this value can be hard to measure/quantify for the casual hobbyist. A good rule-of-thumb in my opinion is'¦ If the membrane is providing a minimum ten-fold rejection based on the TDS reading of the untreated source water, then it does not need replacement. In other words, if the TDS of your source water is 200ppm and the effluent from your RO unit reads 20ppm or less'¦then all is fine re the membrane. In actuality I find the quality TFC membranes offered today will usually read less than this unless you live in an area like Bob where they are pumping 'liquid rock,' which can greatly shorten the useful life of the membrane (Do consider installing and utilizing a 'flush-unit' to increase the life of any membrane)>>
Got a silica test kit and tested the tank water and silica was at zero so I just continued with the weekly 15g water changes. Nitrates were and still are at 10,
<<Be sure to validate this test kit>>
ammonia 0, nitrites 0, phosphate 0, silica 0. I thought adding the ozonizer and improving the ORP would help,
<<Is of benefit>>
but no evidence of that yet, in fact the hair algae is growing,
<<But is not a panacea>>
and about 2 weeks ago I noticed some short green stiff algae starting in a few places and yesterday I noticed some of the red slime starting. I just don't get it.
<<Do you employ carbon to filter the skimmer effluent? I have dismissed its use in the past with most all these hobby-grade generators as unnecessary. Partly due to ozone having a very short half-life of a few seconds when applied to seawater, which means little to none should ever 'escape' the skimmer and sump to return to the display, and partly due to the low output of the hobby-grade generators. But I'm starting to think otherwise re the necessity to filter the effluent with carbon as there's more to it than just any residual O3 present'¦ The oxidizing effect that provides the benefits we want from utilizing ozone, also generates undesirable byproducts in seawater such as Bromate, Hypobromous Acid, etc'¦. Ozone is also quite effective apparently at converting Ammonia to Nitrate, which might explain your reading above re. All in all'¦based on observations of my own system and further reading/research, I suggest you pass the effluent from your skimmer over carbon when employing ozone>>
There is so much flow in this tank now that I have to turn off the pumps in order for the fish to have some chance of getting the food. I feed several brands of pelleted food, and only give maybe 1/8 tsp. one time a day.
<<Mmm, I suggest a least a 'couple' small feedings a day. Starving/depriving your fishes is not the solution to algae issues'¦in my humble opinion>>
Total water flow is 5220 gph + whatever from the skimmer return. Which exceeds the 20x flow that this website says you need (1900 gph for a 95g tank right??).
<<Indeed... Though 'need' is relative to the system and its inhabitants>>
There is so much flow that the algae is actually flowing sideways. I thought about adding a tang but this seems too small a tank for one, and it doesn't really address what's going wrong anyway.
<<Bingo'¦need to determine the fuel source for the algae. But be aware it is not always possible or even practical to eliminate this (the other living organisms in your system require some measure of nitrogenous compounds for survival, and even to thrive). Many times the answer lies in creating/optimizing conditions for the algae to be 'outcompeted''¦as in employing a lighted 'vegetable' refugium>>
I cannot add a refugium because the cabinet opening was only made big enough for a canister filter (which WWM said to take off)
<<I would employ the canister as a 'chemical' filter utilizing cut-up Poly-Filter. This quality media absorbs a wide range of organic and inorganic compounds'¦and changes color to tell you when it has been exhausted>>
and the only other way to install one would involve cutting thru a wall and taking out floor to ceiling kitchen cabinets.
<<This is indeed unfortunate'¦a refugium would certainly be of benefit>>
My husband would really freak then.
<<Don't wanna freak out hubby'¦>>
Seems like the harder I try the worse things get. Any suggestion?
<<Add a DI canister to your RO filtration, utilize carbon to filter the ozone treated skimmer effluent, and employ the canister filter with the Poly-Filter medium. Fighting nuisance algae is often a battle with many fronts>>
<<Happy to share'¦ Eric Russell>>

Hair algae, SW, reading 2/13/10
I am currently running three tanks, 120, 47, and 30. Two of them are fine, and all are established. However, I am having a serious problem with hair algae in the 30 gallon tank.
Testing shows no problem (also my PH was a little low last week). I used the same RO/DI water in all my tanks. 10% water changes weekly. Remora skimmer (on the 47 and 30), and Fluval 205's on both of them.
I have no idea why I am having such a problem with hair algae only in the 30 gallon tank.
I guess what I would like is some advice on getting rid of it, and preventing it from returning.
<Sure. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FilamentousGrnAlgC.htm
and the linked files where you find them, and deem them pertinent. Bob Fenner>
Thank you for your help.
Jeffrey Castaldo

Hair Algae? Making Me Crazy/Algae Control/Jack Daniels If You Please 2/4/10
Hey Crew,
<Hello Chris>
I know you here it over and over but all of you are awesome.
<Thank you.>
I have never seen a sight with so much information and so helpful. I use your sight constantly. I started my first saltwater tank in May and now have 3 tanks.
My daughter and girlfriend and I love learning and caring for all of our new friends. The tank I need help with is our oldest one (only 9 months). It is a reef tank, 75 gallons with a 30 gallon sump. We have 4 actinics, 2 halides and at least 100 lbs of live rock. I check chemicals at least twice a week and always top off with RO. Ammonia and nitrite are always zero, pH is generally 8.4, alkalinity 8-9, CA 400-440 and temp 79-82. I battle nitrate now and then but in general it is around 5 almost never above 20. The tank has been pristine (I am probably one of the keepers you talk about that can't stop messing with the tank) but I am now waging war against some type of hair algae, I think. It grows rapidly on any live rock that has light exposure that doesn't already have a coral or anything living on it. I
have checked phosphate repeatedly but the test kit I have is very hard to tell color difference on.
<Yes, generally phosphate is absorbed by algae as soon as it forms. You likely wouldn't get a reading unless it was forming faster than the algae can absorb it.>
It seems like it is always at the lowest color. Yesterday I added a phosphate reactor and Phosban to the system. Whatever it is it creates a mat of brown particles that form in a mat over everything. It is concentrated more on the fibers of the algae though. I use a bulb syringe daily to break the mat apart and clean the rock.
<Mmm, go here, look anything similar to the pics? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm>
The filtration removes them to the first particle filter which I change. In 24 hours it is all back and the hair gets longer. I looked at the brown seed like particles that form the mat under a microscope and they appear to move. It is green and brown and has what appears to be eye like spots. Is this algae or some type of worm and is it related to the hair or two separate issues?
<May be pods of some type.>
It is making me crazy and ruins the appearance of the tank.
Will the phosphate reactor solve the problem?
<Unlikely, a protein skimmer would do more for you here than anything else. You do not mention the use of one so I'll assume you do not have one. It appears you have excess nutrients in the water and with the presence of good
lighting as you have will accelerate the growth. Steps to eliminate/control the problem can be found in the links below.
I have attached a photo of the algae. You can see the brown green particles on the left under the clam in the algae.
<Not really resolved enough for me to see any detail, but it appears to be nuisance algae.>
The algae is dark green with a bluish streak at the center of the filament. I have read tons of your articles and Bobs book on invertebrates. I can't find anything that specifically addresses my issue. Help!
<See/read all related info contained in the links above and implement the advice. This problem is not going to go away overnight, as it didn't start overnight. It will take time and patience. James (Salty Dog)>
<<Mmm, no... this is a Chlorophyte... Likely Bryopsis. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/BryopsisF.htm
and the linked files above. RMF>>

Re Hair Algae? Making Me Crazy/Algae Control/Jack Daniels If You Please 2/5/10
Wow you guys are amazing. Super fast response.
<You're welcome.>
This is the picture on the FAQ you sent me that looks most like what I have.
Here is another photo from my tank. Sorry couldn't get a clear shot.
Is this Bryopsis or Derbesia. I couldn't tell from the FAQ?
<Yours or the FAQ picture? Mr. Fenner believes what you have is Bryopsis.
Read FAQ's here for help/advice. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/grnalgcontfaqs4.htm>
Are the pods what new hair is growing from?
<No, and it was just a suggestion. Without actually seeing it/them makes it nearly impossible to ID.>
Should I continue the attack on them?
<On the algae, yes, implement what you have read and read above link.>
OK so a few more facts for you and then what I think my game plan should be. If you could just tell me if I am on the right path that would be great.
<As above.>
I do run a Super Skimmer. It produces about 3 inches of Skimmate per week.
<Cleaning the riser/reaction chamber every couple of days will increase efficiency of the skimmer.>
I also use a UV sterilizer that dumps into carbon media.
I have a Sohal, a Kohle <Kole>, two Percula Clowns, Foxface, Bicolor Pygmy Angel and a Niger Triggerfish. All are small less than two and half inches. I also have 3 shrimp and a Tridacna. Corals are Pulsing Xenia (over taking the tank) Frogspawn, various mushrooms and elephant ear.
<Too much load for this system which in turn promotes excess nutrients, and most of your fish will need larger quarters in the near future.>
I feed once a day 1 cube of Formula 2 and one cube of Formula B. I used to feed twice but have been trying to limit nutrients for over two months.
Should I feed less? They devour it in 2 minutes and still seem hungry. I am worried they aren't getting enough.
<I wouldn't feed two cubes at once. Spread it out over three daily feedings.>
Should I switch them to flakes? Is this less nutrient input?
<Would be less nutritional. Frozen foods will generally produce more waste in the water unless rinsed in a net prior to feeding. You might give the New Life Spectrum Pellets a try. A very nutritional food with little waste, is all I feed.>
Rest of my plan, yes or no?
Switch out my actinics -- 9 months old.
<I would not use this lighting for now, especially with four of them in a 75 gallon tank. Actinic lighting peaks in the mid 400nm range and can promote algae growth. There is enough blue present in your MH lamps to promote
photosynthesis for other light loving animals. If anything, cut it down to one or two actinics.>
Do I need to switch the halide bulbs also?
<I don't know, they are generally effective in the rated Kelvin temperature for a year.>
Decrease halide time from 8 hours to 6. (actinics run 12)
<Halides are fine, I'd decrease the actinic photoperiod to a couple of hours before the halides come on and turn back on for a couple of hours just before the halides turn off.
Remove the rock -- again! And scrub in RO.
<No, do not do this, you will be killing other life present in the rock.>
Continue to blow off the pods daily with a bulb syringe.
What about raising the light unit higher? It is about 8 inches above the tank now.
<Is fine.>
Continue to use the phosphate reactor.
<Might as well, you bought it.>
Is this enough or should also try the pH increase and the ferric oxide?
<????. PhosBan is a synthetic ferric oxide.
Leave pH alone and read/act where you were sent.>
Again thank you!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Chris Terrels

Re Hair Algae? Making Me Crazy/Algae Control/Jack Daniels If You Please 2/5/10
Thanks James!
<You're welcome, Chris.>
Are you guys funded by sponsors, donations or both?
<A little of both, and I believe some may come out of Bob's wallet. What say you, Bob? We are strictly a non-profit organization, the crew's time is donated, no paychecks given out here.>
<<Not money from me, but perhaps its equivalent, time, effort. Most of the incoming monies are from commercial sponsors who believe in what we do (educating, inspiring their present, future customer base); and most outgoing is for content; principally our on-line 'zine. RMF>>
I would like to contribute to your cause if you are donation based.
<Great, and will be appreciated. Go to this link, scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will
see a donate tab. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm
James (Salty Dog)>
Chris Terrels

Fuzzy green hair algae 2/4/2010
Hi Crews,
<Hello Vincent.>
Been searching WWM but could not find the answer.
Anyway, my old tank were not perfect but I was happy because free of pest and algae. Till the day I upgraded to my dream tank
<A nice size.>
It has been 6 months now and full bloom of diatoms ( golden brown color, what a beauty color) which I am not really worry, but the type of green hair starts grows on the rock surface and growing, growing and take control over the tank.
<The same factors that fueled the diatoms drive the algae too.>
This kind of hair algae ( the type you see at the output of the power head) is very short and hard to take them
out. I try to brush but only help a little. What can I do to get rid of these?
A little about my system : Reeflow snapper for return, 3 mj mod 1200 for circulate. 500 watts MH and 2 x54 for T5. on for 6 hrs/day, BM200 skimmer, and GFO..Sum with Chaeto algae...
<No magic bullet apparent here. Stocking and feeding may well be the culprit. Or even just the die off of algae spurring the growth of new algae.
Cut back on whatever feeding, scrub and water changes. All the same old suggestions for this issue:
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Nuisance algae question -- 01/30/10
I know these are your favorites. ;-) I have a 75g mixed reef that has been running since August 2007. There are 6 fish: 2 Banggai cardinals (2.5 years old now!), a Rabbitfish (2 years old), 2 clowns and a royal gramma. There are numerous corals: 3 Montipora capricornis, 2 Montipora digitalis (1 individual originally), a Seriatopora, 6 Sinularia (3 individuals originally), a Euphyllia (frogspawn), a Plerogyra, a Fungia, a Trachyphyllia, and 6 different kinds of Zoanthids and anthelia. There are also 2 clams (crocea and squamosa), and the usual assortment of snails, hermits, and worms. Everyone gets along famously.
In the display is a Tunze Nano wavebox and a Turbelle Stream. In the sump, a Reef Octopus Extreme 160 and an Eheim 1262 return. I also run a Korallin calcium reactor and a float-switch auto top-off through a Precision Marine kalkreactor. Make-up water is RO/DI and tests at 0 TDS (from the meter on the unit and with a secondary handheld). Salinity is 1.025, temperature is between 79 and 81, pH is 8.0 to 8.2, alkalinity is 8-9 dKH, and calcium is right at the saturation point (I don't test it regularly, but I do have to scrape a fair amount of precipitate off of the glass every week or so and maintenance my pumps often for the same reasons). Nitrates are consistently zero. Lighting is 2 175w 15000K halides (7.5 hours/day) and 130w of actinic PC (12 hours/day). Water changes are 10-15g every 2 weeks.
<So far, so good>
I started experiencing a nuisance hair algae problem a little more than a year ago when I moved the tank to a new house. I have done metaphorical cartwheels in an effort to stop it, with varying degrees of success. I began straining the melt water away from the food (1 cube of Piscine Energetics Mysis daily, which everyone has been eating for more than 2 years now). I increased the flow with the wavebox. I ran a Phosban reactor with RowaPhos for a while but gave up because of the expense of the media (I could not keep it running for more than a month before it solidified and I needed to replace it: I chalk this up to the reactors). I upgraded my skimmer (from a fine AquaC EV-120). I replaced my old DI unit with a brand-spanking-new RO/DI unit. I dosed ethanol (3-5 ml/day of 190 proof) for about 8 months and achieved great results with it. The algae would die back to the point it was almost gone. The only problem was when I stopped, the algae returned as strong as ever, so I would start again. In an effort to kick the ethanol habit, I installed a refugium with Chaeto in a new sump I had Precision Marine build for me (they are right down the road from me in Austin). I stopped the ethanol when I installed the refugium a month ago, and the algae is back.
<The refugium takes time...>
Do I need to give the refugium more time, or am I missing something here?
<Ahh! The former and possibly...>
The move placed the tank in a position where it gets a significant amount of real sunlight (which is very attractive). The only other issue I can think of is that my water changes (along with routine vacuuming of the substrate) are performed by my LFS. I have tested their RO water (which I don't use) and it is about 50 ppm TDS. I assume they use the same water to make their salt water. Are either of these things the culprit?
<Could be contributing causes>
Or is it something else in my routine/design?
<Could be, but what?>
The algae is not overgrowing my corals, but it is unattractive. Should I just get used to it?
<Mmm, not necessarily.>
As always, many thanks for your time and efforts.
<The refugium has macroalgal culture? An RDP? A DSB? Perhaps a review here:
and the linked files where you lead yourself.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Nuisance algae question -- 01/30/10
Thanks for the response. The refugium is running on RDP (12 hours/day), has a 1" sand bed
<I would greatly increase the depth here. Read:
"and the linked files above">
(the main display is 1-2"), some LR pebbles, and a big ball of Chaeto as well as Caulerpa prolifera (I think; it's the closest thing I can find in your Reef Invertebrates book, with long, broad and spiral-shaped leaves).
<Mmm, I'd ditch the Caulerpacean>
I will give it more time. The Chaeto is fun to watch during the refugium "night," as it hosts a variety of tiny brittle stars, sea stars, and Polychaete worms. I've also seen what looks like a tiny Nudibranch, although I suppose it could be a small Stomatellid snail.
A related follow-up question: I installed a simple clip-on shop fixture from Home Depot in the refugium with a 20w 5000K CFL bulb rather than purchase a considerably more expensive fixture designed for a refugium. Is this bulb
adequate/advised for the macroalgae that I am growing, or should I have something closer to 6500K?
<Is likely fine if you're seeing growth. I'd replace it later with a higher temp. one>
<Do increase the sand bed depth... BobF>

Algae Help... reading 1/23/10
I have an on going algae issue in my saltwater aquarium. It was getting better and then recently (past few weeks) has gotten worse again. I have noticed that since I have had the tank up a window which gives direct sunlight almost all day has the curtain up. Do you think that the direct sunlight could be a factor. I have checked all levels and nothing shows up, I know algae absorbs Phosphates etc., but this is really mind boggling if you could help it would be greatly appreciated. By the way, I do weekly water changes.
<Mmm, there are a few approaches to consider... all well-covered by reading here: http://wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Rehabbing the neglected reef: getting a neglected tank under control. 1/12/10
Howdy WWM Crew,
<Hi Liz.>
Can't wait to see who I get this time. It's like reaching into a grab bag and knowing that no matter what (who!) you pull out it's going to be good.
<Well, you got MikeV today, and thank you for the kind words.>
I'll try to get to the point and keep this as short as possible. I have <exhaustively and multiple times> read the pages about nutrient export, nitrates and phosphates. I have implemented just about everything I should and/or can but I'm hoping that maybe there is some trick, idea.... something that could possibly help more as I have a situation I haven't really seen addressed in other emails.
<Well, lets see what you have.>
I bought an established but very neglected 125g saltwater tank the end of 9/2009. I salvaged all the live rock (100+lbs, it was worth saving) and crushed coral (not so good, wish I'd known to just pitch it and start over with the substrate). I also inherited a nutrient problem that was visible at the time in the form of massive, and I do mean massive amounts of hair algae. Oh, did I mention that this is my first foray into saltwater? I'm learning on the fly.
We broke down, moved and hour away and set the tank back up all on the same day being very careful to keep the live rock and CC damp. Everything came through with flying colors, never tested positive for ammonia or nitrates (had different fish in the tank at the time, didn't loose any of them).
However, my first water parameter tests revealed nitrates at 60+ and phosphates at 5+!! The tank came with crappy equipment which I've been upgrading just as fast as I can.
<That would explain the hair algae.>
I have added in a dedicated 10g refugium, bare bottom with a few chunks of live rock and Chaeto (which is growing like mad). The fuge overflows into a 20g sump (about 10g of water in there) that has baffles to maintain a constant height for my skimmer and a separate return pump area.
<Sounds good.>
I upgraded the SeaClone skimmer to a PM Redline 125 that is pulling massive amounts of NASTY dark brown crud out, sometimes more than a cup a day sometimes less.
The sump also has a large chunk of LR in it and a giant hermit crab that was banished from the DT for being too destructive.
I am running Phosguard in hard plastic media containers in my sump baffles so all the tank water passed through it. I also just started using a Polyfilter pad on the other side of the baffles. It's already changing colors (tan) after just 2 days in the tank!
<Everything you are doing so far is right on the money.>
Tank occupants/other stuff:
100+ lbs of mature live rock
CUC: 8 blue leg hermits and 18 turbo snails and 2 margarita snails
1 yellow tang (still very small 1.5")
Ocellaris clown (2")
Green mandarin (juvenile, and I do have a huge pod population and will be supplementing with live pod colonies for diversification. As of right now the mandarin is fat and happy!)
assorted softies: pompom xenia, neon Palau Nephthea, green hairy mushrooms & red mushrooms, green Ricordea, assorted colonies of Zoas and Palys and green star polyps.
<Do run carbon in your system, you have a few soft corals that can be pretty noxious.>
I also have a small frag of purple digi (high in the tank) and kryptonite candy cane (also high).
4x96w PC lighting 12 hours a day, have new bulbs on order (2 12k and 2 50/50)
DI water run through 4 huge DI canisters with a TDS meter between the last two. I get it at a LFS. Water tests 0 for TDSs, NO3 and PO4. This is used for all water changes and top off water
I feed <frozen> formula 2 & Mysis in the evenings, just a couple small pinches that the fish clean up quickly.
<All good here too.>
Water parameters via brand new API regent tests:
Ammonia/Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 0 <this is new, it dropped in stages from 60, to 20s then hovered at 5-10 for several weeks. In just the last 3 weeks or so it's been consistently testing at 0>
!!!phosphates: .5 (not happy about this, but better than the 5 they started out at)
<It is on its way down. Keep at what you are doing.>
pH: 8.3
calcium: 450
KH: darn, knew I forgot a test but my KH has never been a problem.
<Do get a kit, but you are correct, it is probably fine as long as you are doing regular water changes.>
I am having a horrible red slime/Cyano outbreak right now. It is all over my CC. Is not growing over the rocks/corals yet, but the CC bed gets a thin covering every day that gets thicker as the week goes on (I siphon it off once a week during 10% water changes). It is driving me nuts.
<The hair algae was consuming all of the nutrients, but since you are getting that under control the Cyano is taking its place.>
I had a nasty diatom bloom that finally went away just to change into the Cyano bloom. I feel like the harder I try with this tank and the better my water parameters look the worse the tank seems to look.
<hehehe... yeah, sometimes it does seem that way.>
I suspect my LR and CC are leaching phosphates at this point.
<Probably your substrate.>
I have some bristly green algae growing really thick on some of my rock and sparsely on others.
<Bryopsis Have a read here:
It does not look like soft hair algae. It is short, tufted, brilliant green and does not pull off easily. The hair algae disappeared, the rock looked really good then this stuff took off and grew in. That doesn't bother me as much as the Cyano though.
<It can be a pest algae as well. I have some in my tank, but it is localized to one area, so I leave it.>
Something I've noticed is that the Cyano is only growing where it gets good light exposure and good water flow. It is growing just in the front part of my tank where the flow is strong enough to 'ruffle' the CC and make the strands of Cyano blow in the flow! It seems to die back at night, then come on strong under the lights. There is no Cyano where rock shaded the CC.
<Completely normal.>
I guess my question is, how do I help my tank recover? How do you get ahead and 'rehab' a tank that has been so neglected? In addition to my 10% weekly water changes I've started doing 2-3g small water changes every other day trying to dilute the pollution.
<I'm betting there is a lit of, for the lack of a better term, crud in your substrate that is feeding the cyanoBACTERIA. I would clean as much of it out as you can and vacuum your substrate as much as is reasonably possible.>
I've considered adding a DSB to my fuge, but wasn't sure if it would help in such a small space (just a standard 10g tank).
<If space permits, you may want to consider a larger refugium. where you could use a DSB>
If the LR and CC are leaching, what is the best way to handle the problem?
Should I try the Kalk trick and try to precipitate out the phosphates? Is this something a newbie should attempt?
<I wouldn't Just keep up with regular water changes, perhaps moving up to 15 - 20% weekly>
Are there any other measures I should be taking?
I was considering taking out more of the CC (it's about 1" deep now, was over 4" when I set the tank up and I've reduced it slowly) and adding/mixing in some fine sand. Two part... I was hoping getting rid of the old CC might help my nutrient issues and also that the sand might be of benefit to all the various small critters. My CC is very alive, all kinds of pods, worms, mini brittle starts, etc. I don't really want a DSB in the main tank, just like the look of the shallow beds better.
<After vacuuming the CC, adding in some fine live sand could be beneficial, even if only to fill in the spaces so food and waste can't get down there.>
I hope there are some additional tricks of the trade you can share to help me get my phosphate and probably residual nitrate (I assume I'm getting 0 readings not because the nitrate problem is gone but because the algae in the tank is using it) problems under control.
<You assume correctly. You are doing everything right. As I mentioned before, aside from larger water changes, vacuuming your CC substrate, and adding some fine sand, the only other thing I can suggest is to be patient.
As I am fond of saying in these emails and from time to time, repeating to myself when I am having a problem with my tank, is that nothing good happens quickly in a marine tank. You have made great strides in a relatively short period of time. the 'last mile' as it were, always takes the longest..
Thank you so much!
<My pleasure.>

Re: Rehabbing the neglected reef: getting a neglected tank under control. 1/25/2009
Hi Mike,
<Hi Liz, my apologies for taking so long to get back to you.>
Thank you for getting back to me so quick.
Since it seems I'm doing pretty much all I can I guess I'll just keep up and hope that things improve. I might shoot that ugly Cyano some ugly looks just to make me feel better.
<It helps!. That and manual removal...>
Had a couple other questions...
When I add in the sand, should I mix it in with the CC or make a layer on top?
<You can just add it on top and perhaps rake it in with your fingers - it will work it's way down with time.>
I did a little experiment last night. I put about 1/2c of crushed coral in a cup of freshly mixed (0-PO4) saltwater. I rinsed the CC and let it drain for a few seconds (wanted to get rid of detritus and tank water) before adding in the fresh saltwater. Agitated a couple times, then let it sit overnight. I tested the water this morning and got a phosphate reading of 2! Not the most accurate of scientific tests but I think it clearly shows my substrate is leaching/harboring phosphates. Ugh! I've been siphoning out the CC & Cyano a little bit every day or two in addition to my 10-15% weekly water changes.
I'm a little worried about sucking out too many of the good critters living in the CC. I rescued a mini brittle star from the water bucket yesterday after siphoning. Is this a bad plan to siphon out the CC? I do one side of the tank one day, the other the next time. I do have a lot of live rock so I'm counting on it to maintain my pod population (for my mandarin) and other little CUC members.
I agree that it is leeching and you are still on the right track.>
Which of my corals are considered noxious (I would guess the Palys and Zoas, but wanted to clarify)?
Here is the list again so you don't have to weed back through my previous email: assorted Zoas & Palys, just added some yellow polyps, neon Palau Nephthea, pulsing pom-pom xenia and a new frag of unknown xenia (does not pulse, but its not supposed to), green star polyps, green Ricordea, red mushrooms, hairy mushrooms, kryptonite candy cane & a tiny frag of purple digi.
<The Zoas and Plays are the worst>
I was running carbon, but got worried about phosphate leaching from it and stopped, switched to using Polyfilter instead. Will the Polyfilter pull the coral produced toxins?
I can go back to running carbon no problem, just got to find a good brand.
<I've had good luck with either the Marineland or Chemi-Pure>
Thank you so much for you time and hand holding.
<My pleasure as always

Marine Algae Control, Using WWM; 1/9/2010
Hey Crew,
<<Hello Jason.>>
I have some marine algae that looks like a fern when it's pulled out. Only problem is that each time I pull it out, it spreads and grows even more. How do I deal with this? Thanks.
<<It's hard to near impossible to make an accurate identification based off description alone. If you want to continue this correspondence I would suggest sending along a photo as well as your tanks chemical readings,
specifications and age. In the meantime see here in an attempt to
identify, your algae as well as a method of attack;
Plenty of info there, and that's just articles, not even FAQ's.>>
-Jason Quan
<<Good luck, Adam Jackson.>>

Re: Marine Algae Control, Using WWM; 1/9/2010
Thank you,
<<No problem Jason.>>
it looks like Bryopsis and either some turtle weed. I have not tested yet but will soon. How do I deal with these?
<<I would look toward a nutrient issue, possibly an over abundance of dissolved organics. For control methods refer to links provided in our original correspondence, here are a few more;
Good luck, - Adam Jackson.>>

LS Bed Vacuuming/Algae Control 1/4/10
I apologize for my inexperience and I have read so much info on WWM that my brain is actually hurting. Even still I am digesting as much as I can and I am sure I am missing some key elements.
<No need to apologize, no one is born with experience.>
I will start off with a simple question I believe, and not sure I have read/found the correct answer yet.
I have seen numerous references on your site to vacuuming the substrate but unsure if it is possible to vacuum a LS bed without sucking all the sand in.
And is it advisable for fear of sucking away beneficial organisms?
<It may be necessary at times if the bed is lacking enough organisms to keep it clean.>
What is the recommended way to vacuum a sand only (actually Aragonite) bed if there is one?
<My method is to use a smaller size gravel vacuum and pinch the hose enough while vacuuming to prevent the sand from getting siphoned out. I vacuum my bed this way during every water change.>
I am having a SERIOUS outbreak of red hair algae now (along with brown algae) growing on both the LS and LR. I have plucked as much as I can off the LR. I have began steps to reduce nutrients by feeding less (from 3-4
small feedings to only 2 times/day), thawing then rinsing frozen food prior to introducing into the tank, using Ocean Nutrition Formula One and Two pellets and occasionally an Omega One food with Garlic flake offering. All fish generally ignore the pellets and the flake. I do try to remove uneaten food but am sure I am missing some of it. Hopefully the Nassarius will take care of those.
<May want to hire more Blue Legged Crabs.>
Some information about tank and livestock:
55 Gallon wide (about 2.5 months of age)
Small Refugium (made from an HOT AquaClear 70 Power filter) with macroalgae (recently added x7 days ago).
<Will help some in reducing nutrients.>
~40 lbs. LR (more to be steadily added as budget allows and have another 5 pound rock curing at moment)
Jebo 304 canister with 2 Eheim fine pads, Eheim sponge (course) pad, ceramic Bio-ring and 2 bags of activated charcoal (one under each fine pad)
<The pads will act as nutrient sinks if not cleaned on a weekly basis. You may want to try Chemi Pure Elite in place of the charcoal, a combination of phosphate remover, ion exchange resins, and a very good grade of carbon. This media is relatively inexpensive at etailer shops.
One example here. http://www.premiumaquatics.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=CHEMI-ELITE&Category_Code=Americanmarine>
AquaTech 40-60 HOT Power filters with bio screens. Media is a simple filter media with Activated Charcoal in both.
<Be careful in choosing activated carbon as many of the cheaper brands will release phosphates into the water.>
RedSea Prizm Skimmer
<Not really enough skimmer for your tank in my opinion. An AquaC HOT Remora would be a very efficient skimmer for a 55.>
Last H2O change was 23 Dec. 09 and was 20 gallons
Hydor Koralia 4 Powerheads (x2)
Ocellaris Clown (x1)
McCosker's Flasher Wrasse (x2)
Mexican Turbo Snail (x2) (one added 48 hours ago)
Nassarius Snails (x2)
<I would increase the snail population to about 8.>
Porcelain Anemone Crab (Neopetrolisthes maculosus) (x1) (added 48 hours ago)
<Will not do well in this system. It feeds on planktonic food and mucus from their host anemone and is difficult to acclimate to prepared foods.>
Small Zoanthus colony
Small Star Polyp frag
Various hitchhikers to include spaghetti worms.
(Recently lost a Royal Gramma due to Ich)
LATEST TESTING RESULTS (1/3/10) All testing using API reagents newly purchased.
Ammonia (NH3/NH4) = 0
Nitrite (NO2) = 0
Nitrate(NO3) = 20
Phosphates (PO3- / 4) = 0.5 Ã
Alkaline (dKH) = >214.8mEq/L
<Alkalinity on the high side.>
pH (High Range) = 8.3
Salinity = 1.023
Temperature = Bottom: 76.1 °F / Middle: 78.0 °F
My one and only larger Feather duster (dime sized, hitchhiker) recently disappeared (maybe hiding in rock less his feathers) right after using Aiptasia X for Aiptasia removal near it but trying to be careful not get any on it (all filter, water movement stagnant 5 minutes prior to use and about 15 minutes after use before restart). Did the Aiptasia X hurt it?
I need to advise the porcelain anemone crab was not yet in the tank. I did see some remnants of its feathers after use of the Aiptasia X but now I see nothing.
Did it possibly move?
Red hair algae blossoming at a very fast rate and within last few days.
Brown Algae still predominate on glass and LS. Added a 2nd Mexican Turbo Snail to hopefully get that under control. As stated above I have reduced feeding. Rinsing frozen foods (Mysis and Brine Shrimp) to remove thawed
water, recently added the macroalgae refugium (about 2 weeks ago) to help reduce nitrates. Continuing to add a cleaner crew as budget allows (any immediate recommendations in this area?).
<As mentioned above.>
What can I use or do to bring Phosphates down?
<As above, Chemi Pure Elite or a product called Rowaphos.>
I have not yet changed Canister filter pads as am awaiting them to arrive via mail order since no LFS has Eheim products on the shelf. I have, however, lightly rinsed these twice to get rid of heavy debris.
How can I drop down my dKH ? I am doing water changes (~15 gallons at a time) bi-weekly.
<Will come down in time, do not use any buffers until.>
Any help would be appreciated.
<Do read here and associated linked files.
James (Salty Dog)>
Respectfully submitted:

Diatoms/Dinoflagellates, whatever it is, it's slimy, on the substrate and creeping elsewhere, and I don't want it! -- 12/09/09
Hi Crew,
<G'morrow Peter>
I hope you can help. I have a 65 gallon reef with the following specs:
Ammonia: 0, Nitrites: 0, Nitrates: 10ppm, Phosphates: 0, Alkalinity: 10 dKH, Calcium: 420. I have very recently noticed a brown slime layer on the gravel.
<Mmmm, could be a few things... perhaps Dinoflagellates, more likely a Blue-Green Algae/Cyanobacteria, but could be a mix of these and/or other microbial life. A simple few hundred power 'scope, and some reading re ID are needed to ascertain.>
This now appears to be growing on the reef. I noticed today that two Kenyan tree corals are not opening fully. On closer inspection, it looks like they also have the brownish growth on them.
Is there anything that can be done to slow/eliminate this problem before all my corals are covered?
<Mmm, yes... the standard approaches to control are typically divided into nutrient control/deprivation (not allowing in via foods, water et al.; chemically filtering via GAC, PolyFilter, other filtrants; Competition with other photosynthetic life (Macroalgae et al.), mechanical removal (siphoning, gravel vacuuming); Predation (once again, need to know what this actually is, but DSBs, some snails, Hermits to extents, possibly fish life that nibbles, turns over the substrate... may be of value); and chemical algicides (the least commendable, most dangerous, only short-term solution).>
I had a similar problem in a second tank a few months ago that had Caulerpa on live rock. Within a couple of weeks the entire tank was covered in brown slime including the Caulerpa which died. I may have cross contaminated somehow.
<Mmm, let's have you read a bit:
Take some time here... when you can be calm, uninterrupted to "trouble shoot" your situation, by leading yourself through the linked files as you find them of interest, possibility. Do write back when 1) You think you may know more specifically what this life is, 2) The root cause/s of it being here, 3) A plan you're developing to counter its progression. Bob Fenner>

Re: Diatoms/Dinoflagellates -- 12/15/09
Hi Crew,
I have continued to watch the development of this problem in my tank. I have noticed a couple more items that I hope will help with identification. First, there are a lot of air bubbles being created during this outbreak. I read that this may be due to photosynthesis of the organisms.
<Yes; a likely source here>
Also, I have been using a turkey baster to blast any build-up on the rocks and corals. While doing this, I have noticed long spider web like strands attached to the live rock etc. Apparently, they become visible because detritus kicked up by the turkey baster sticks to them. Does this provide any more insight?
<Mmm, not in terms of root causes, or suggested probable courses of action, no>
I have continued water changes, kept changing filter material in sump, added more Astrea snails in hopes that I can stop or at least slow this problem down until I learn more. Phosphates are reading zero ppm at this time.
<Likely being "taken up">
Root cause of this situation may have been contamination from another tank that had something similar. That tank has no corals and is still not clean.
Thanks for the help
<Solutions to these sorts of issues are best occasioned over long time frames... months. Do try to be patient. Bob Fenner>

Dirty Sand Control And Possible Overstocking/Nutrient Control/Coralline ID 11/23/09
Hi folks,
<Hello Toly>
I have a 45 gal tank with 5 fish and a cleaner shrimp. The tank has been established for eight months now and I am planning to add some easygoing corals, but first I want to take care of the dirty sand problem. It has brown / purple patches all over, like diatoms and coralline powder. Also, since I have upgraded the lighting I started getting some green hair algae on LR. My Nitrates are around 20. I do about 5% water changes weekly.
<Nitrates too high for this system.>
I tried a few Nassarius snails for sand sifting but they haven't done much, if anything, to improve it. So right now I am considering adding an Orange Striped Goby (Amblygobius decussatus) for the sand and algae control, but not sure if this will be overstocking it.
<Will depend on the size of your other fish.>
Right now I have Banggai & PJ Cardinals, Coral Beauty, Sixline Wrasse & Royal Gramma, a Caribbean Cleaner Shrimp and a few snails.
<I would not add any more fish to this volume of water. You will just be increasing your nutrient/nitrate level. A protein skimmer would help very much in reducing dissolved nutrients, thus lowering nitrate levels.
Another suggestion is to use a gravel/sand cleaner type siphon when you change water. This will remove much of the accumulated detritus and further enhance water quality.>
I am planning to add some Zoas / mushrooms / Ricordeas fairly soon and don't want to overdo the bioload. I use an Eheim canister filter (just the filter pads and carbon) and a skimmer.
<Swapping the carbon out for Chemipure will also help your nitrate control, and do ensure the pads are cleaned/replaced weekly. Accumulated waste on the pads will soon lead to additional nutrients if not removed. Do read here for more information.
One option I'm considering is swapping out PJ Cardinal for the striped goby if the load is going to be too much.
<The gravel cleaner will do a much better job than the goby.>
Appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Bryopsis Control - MgCl2 Dosing? -- 11/12/09
Hello Crew,
I have been reading about controlling Bryopsis with Kent Tech M MG Supplements. Keeping a high level about 1600+ ppm for a few weeks kills the weeds apparently. Have you heard anything about this?
<Mmm, yes... in fact, as an olde timey gardener, Magnesium salts are sometimes used as herbicides in terrestrial applications>
People report that no other brands of mg have an effect on Bryopsis with the exception of Kent Tech M.
<Mmm... well...>
The ingredients are listed as Deionized H2O, MgSo4, and MgCl2. After checking other popular brands of Mg additives I find that many do not have any MgCl2, or lower concentrations than Tech M. Is it possible that high levels of MgCl2 impede some biological processes of Bryopsis?
<Indeed; it is certainly possible>
The only other factor could be trace amounts of copper in the Tech M but copper typically doesn't affect algae - well at least in fresh water environments.
<Nay! Copper compounds are used extensively in algal control in all kinds of waters; including fresh>
I know that the high amount of Mg will raise the Ca and skew the Alk, but what about boron? Wouldn't it plummet with this high dose?
<Depends on how high; but you are correct to be concerned re ratios in driving anyone concentration higher/lower>
Do you foresee any adverse reactions to livestock in general from this?
<Not if done w/in reason... but...>
Thanks for any help you are able to provide,
<As luck/fortune would have it, I have just yesterday re-sorted the marine algae subFAQs into "by genus" pages... The one for Bryopsis & Derbesia is here: http://wetwebmedia.com/BryopsisF.htm
Have a read through, and we'll be chatting, Bob Fenner>

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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