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FAQs on Marine Algae and Their Control 13

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 8Marine Algae Control 9, Marine Algae Control 10, Marine Algae Control 11, Marine Algae Control 12, 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

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Algae Control 1/23/08 Good afternoon, <Hi Greg> I recently ran into a brown hair algae bloom that has become quite frustrating. The tank is about 3 months old with LR, some snails, two small Blood Shrimp, and Mushroom Corals (no fish). The tank had been doing great for months.? Ammonia, nitrite, phosphate, and nitrate are all zero according to Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kit and all animals are doing fine. The kit for phosphate is pretty coarse at the low end (.25 ppm is first reading from zero), but the reading is off scale, low with no hint of color change due to phosphate. This brown hair algae is unbelievable. I can siphon it all up just before lights out and by morning it has already covered patches of the substrate and glass. What kind of algae grows this fast with no light? If I let it go more than a few days, it will cover half or more of the substrate and glass. Algae strings can get several inches in less than two days! It gets so thick that bubbles are trapped below the layer of algae. I really don't have the time to siphon this stuff everyday and for a tank with no fish I'm stumped what could be causing this. I just added a phosphate remover (Phosguard by Seachem), but after one day the algae is growing back again. Should I just let the stuff completely cover the tank and hope it will die off or what. I'm determined to get rid of this stuff somehow, but what I'm doing isn't working.? Do phosphate and nitrate levels have to be at absolute zero to get rid of hair algae? Any suggestions? <First off, it is important to keep your phosphate and nitrate levels as low as possible. What you are experiencing is not uncommon in a new system. The bubbles being trapped below the algae indicate to me that it is more of a Cyano bacteria problem than algae. You do not mention use of a protein skimmer and/or chemical media such as Chemi Pure. This goes a long way in eliminating nutrients in the water. Do read these links and related articles above. <<James... where are the links? Your sign off? RMF>> Thanks, Greg

Zooanthellae growing outside animal Zooanthellae Problem? 1/24/08 Greetings, <Hello Greg> I recently wrote you concerning a problem with what I thought was brown hair algae. <Have seen.> However, after reviewing all the facts surrounding the algae outbreak, it occurred to me that the outbreak coincided exactly with some zooanthids expelling some brown stringy substance shortly after placing them in the tank. The zooanthids arrived via mail very stressed from temperature extremes and were not happy. They eventually expelled large amounts of this brown stringy stuff from every polyp and then declined rapidly. I took them out of the tank and cleaned up the brown stringy stuff as much as possible. <Should have left alone.> I have read that they were probably expelling Zooanthellae. <Can do this if conditions are not to their liking.> Within a day after this, a brown stringy layer began covering the substrate and glass at an incredible rate. I have removed it every other day and added Phosguard. Nitrates measure 0 ppm on test kit. Is it possible for Zooanthellae to grow outside the animal with plenty of light. <No, is a unicellular symbiotic algae that thrives in the coral itself.> I had no algae problems for months before this, only good growth of coralline algae of all colors. If it is Zooanthellae, how do I get rid of this stuff. Can I starve it without harming other corals (Mushroom/brain). <Wouldn't do anything but change 10-15% of the water, this should pass. Are you using a protein skimmer and or chemical media such as Chemi Pure? This will help much here. Do read here for a better understanding of Zooanthellae. http://library.thinkquest.org/25713/zooxanthellae.html> Thanks for your advice, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Greg

Do I need a UV and other questions 01/22/2008 Hi everyone.. <<Hello, Andrew here>> Great site! Thank you for ALL of your help. <<Thank you>> I am new to saltwater tanks. I have been following your advice for a couple years after starting a freshwater tank. Now I'm moving into a more challenging adventure! The Saltwater tank! I have a 55 gallon tall tank. 36wx18dx21h. The tank has been up for 7 weeks. Started slowly with 20 lbs. of "local" live rock first. Then added another 50lbs. of "shipped" live rock 2 weeks ago. The tank did a small cycle after the 20 lbs. of "local" and an extreme cycle after the 50 lbs. of "shipped" rock. It has been fully cycled for 9 days now. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 15 nitrates (my LFS says I have 0 nitrates when they tested) .Calcium 360. I have a wet dry filter with bio balls, protein skimmer, 2 retrofit lamps with 96 watt each. (1) blue (1) white, and a SunPaq? 96 watt 50/50 lamp. I also have a Rio 2500 as my return pump (turned down) and (2) 295 gph circulating pumps in the tank. <<ok>> I added 3 damsels after cycle completed a little over a week ago. Two yellow tails and one blue fin. I added a sally light foot and a Mexican turbo about 5 days ago. I had some blue hermits, maybe 3 from the beginning. I also just added a button polyp nugget last night. <<Damsels do get aggressive, you may consider swapping these at some point>> I am currently having a diatom bloom, as well as some type of red bubble algae? Not sure what it is. I can't find a pic of it. My LFS guy came out and looked at it and he said he had never seen it before. It is in the right side of the pic. It is spreading to another rock now. They look like reddish purple capsules. Could you tell me what they are? <<The red algae is Botryocladia SP. Handle this in the same manner as green bubble algae and not pop the pods in the tank.>> Also, could you suggest some reef safe sand sifting creatures to stir my sand bed? (2 inch live sand). <<This will depend on what stock the tank is going to have in there in the future. Cerith snails are good as they spend most of their time rummaging and buried in the sand bed>> Also, does my button polyps look ok? Did I place them correctly? <<The Zoanthids look very nice indeed. Look fine where they are>> My LFS told me I need to get a UV sterilizer. They suggested a Turbo Twist 9 watt for my tank. Says it will help with my algae and potential ich problems. Stated that it will not cure ich, but it will help it from starting. They also had me add a ground probe into my sump for electrical currents. They are willing to sell me the UV at the online price that I have found at $80.00. They sell them in their store for $150.00. Should I run it 24/7? Or should I just run it during daytime? <<Not a bad price for the UV. Personally I don't run them, never have done and don't feel I need too. Never suffer water quality issues without one>> I REALLY appreciate all your help! I am so confused with all the different info I keep getting. I am sorry for all the mixed questions! You guys and "girls" are great! Thank you! Raesunrae <<Thank you for the questions, hope it helps. A Nixon>>

Algae Removal 01/19/2008 Hi there. <<Hello, Andrew here>> Until recently I have had no end of trouble with algae, ranging from green hair algae through to brown / yellow / red slime algae. I have largely managed to combat this with the addition of a phosphorus remover in my sump and various livestock additions,, turbo's, tang etc. however, I still have problems, I have one surviving patch of hair algae, unfortunately smack in the middle of a colony of clove polyps and my substrate and base rock still gets a coating of slime algae from time to time. My levels are all mostly spot on ie ammonia, and nitrite at 0 / 0.1mg/l and nitrate at 0 / 5mg/l sg is 1.024. any suggestions as to what I can do to get rid of this final eyesore? <<The key to removing plague algae from the tank is to stop this at source, rather than trying to keep masking the issue. For algae to grow, it needs nutrients and algae will get these nutrients from area's such as lighting, water and food. When testing your water, its usually very possible that high nutrient levels do not show up on the results because the algae in the tank is already absorbing it to aid its growth. What you do actually see on the water tests is what is left over, and this is usually a very small amount. To kill off the algae, you need to stop it at the source. So, test water that is used for the aquarium to see if it shows phosphates or nitrates, look at lighting and how long it has been since you changed the bulbs, look at your feeding regime and maybe cut it back a little>> <<Thanks for the questions, A Nixon>>

Re: Algae Removal 01/19/2008 hi Andrew, <<Hello again>> thanks for the quick reply. not to sure which is relevant? My source water goes through an ro unit before mixing, my salt, at the very least claims, to have zero nitrates and phosphates (Brand: red sea, not sure if you are familiar with it?) <<Not a bad Ro unit at all, good>> the tank is 100 gallons and the lighting comes from 4x 38w t5 tubes, all of which are approx 8months old is this to old? <<Bulbs should certainly be fine, working on 16 months exchange>>, I feed twice daily with flake / other dry food and frozen mixed food, mysis etc, enough for the fish to consume in approx 2mins is this too often? <<You could certainly cut your feeding down a bit to once per day, or even once every other day ( my current feeding cycle ). Do ensure that any frozen food is washed out with RO water is this is prone to carry a high level of phosphates>> I only have a small stock of fish, 3x damsels (different species) 1x clown and 1x yellow tang so not much food enters tank. I also feed coral with approx 20 ml marine snow once a week. I forgot to mention previously that the phosphourus remover seems to be working, my readings for that are zero, like you say though, maybe just because its already been absorbed. <<Besides feeding cut down a little for the fish (coral feeding fine), another area to consider is flow. How much do you have? for a reef tank, you want to aim for a minimum of 25 x water circulation. So, on your tank, you want to be aiming for around 2500 GPH water turnover>> <<Thanks, A Nixon>>

Minor problem... SW algae learning    1/1/08 Hello, I have some live rocks in my saltwater tank, and its kinda cool to just watch the rocks because there are creatures all over it. I'm pretty sure there's some anemones and maybe some coral and some other stuff, and some worms. Really weird. but anyway over the last couple of days there's been brown stuff forming on the sand and the dead coral I put in there, is this bad? Or is it just harmless algae? <... could be bad... if too much, the "wrong" types of algae... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/algaeasfriend.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

CORAL HELP... alg. cont.  12/28/07 Hi Bob, <Hello Nick, Scott V. with you.> I have a 70 gallon saltwater reef tank that has been set up for 5 years. In it I have a Coral Beauty, Yellow Tang, Firefish, 3 Cardinals, and a Royal Gramma. My corals consist of 2 Colts, a Mushroom rock, Hammer, 2 hard corals, 2 leathers, 2 star polyps, and Xenia. I have a 260 watt power compact for light source. <OK> I perform a 25 percent water change bi-weekly with mixed water that has been heated and aerated for 3 days prior. My temp 75F, ph is 8.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate on the low side usually. My problem is a terrible amount of hair algae and bubble algae growth. Also I get a high amount of algae on my glass as well. <Nitrates would read higher if not for the algae growth.> Recently I had a leather go dormant, and rebound, and one of my colts went dormant as well, but has not rebounded. It looks like it is dying, and part actually broke away from the main trunk. <Not good.> I dose with amino acid supplement, calcium, iodide, strontium, etc. <Are you testing for these?> My question is what am I doing wrong? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you, Nick <Assuming you have adequate water flow, filtration, and bulb spectrum I would look in two places. First, your nitrate level, all the usual suspects: over feeding, mechanical filtration trapping detritus, substrate doing the same, additives, source water, etc. You will need to figure out where the nitrate is coming from in your specific system, and possibly increase your water changes to combat it. Then I would take a look at the additives you are adding to your system. If you are not testing for the levels of the specific additives, do not add them. It is very easy to overdose and poison a tank. If you test your calcium/alkalinity you can dose with a good two part solution such as B-Ionic. This combined with your water changes will provide all the major and trace elements you will need in your system. Do also consider adding a refugium if you do not have one, this will definitely help. Good luck, Scott V.>

Another algae question.. sorry  12/23/07 This crew runs a great site that I can't get enough of, please keep up the good work. <Am trying...> I have a question about algae that all of my LFS have never heard of or seen (so they say). I have an algae outbreak that seems to be growing over all my stars and preventing them from coming out, it grows on everything. This is not hair algae. This algae is more like a light green dust, on the glass my magnet can get it off the glass with one slide, the rocks and stars are a different story. I have had this for about 3 months now, and have tried everything I can think of to prohibit the growth. Everyone says my phosphates are too high, but using two different test kits and having 3 LFS test, my phosphates are not detectable. <... need microscopic examination. The articles posted on WWM can walk you through discerning the major "what" this is here... My best guess is either a tough type of Green/Chlorophyte or a Blue-Green/Cyanophyte... but have to look... through a scope> Water movement is by the sump return (500gph) and a power head (270gph) all in a 75 gallon tank with a 20 gal sump. The skimmer is getting a lot, but it seems to be reproducing quicker than the skimmer and filter media can catch it. I clean the skimmer daily and change the media every 2 days. Media consists of one phosphate pad and one micron pad. I also have two bags of Phos-Zorb in the sump. <Good> The tank has only a few fish, and 20-30 different corals/mushrooms. Tank has been running for about 18 months. <Oh... if you remove too much soluble phosphate your Cnidarians will decline...> Lighting: 250W MH 10K & 192W Actinic PC (PCs on for about 10 hrs a day, MH about 6-7hrs) Which I did try running w/o the MH and the PCs only 2-3 hrs a day. Phosphates: 0 Nitrate: 0 Ph: 8.1 Temp: 80 Ammonia 0 SG: 1.025 Ca: 480 <A bit high> Alk: 6 I read somewhere that algae can be consuming the phosphates before I can test for them, if this is true how would one know if they were high? <A few tests... that are beyond the scope of aquarists unfortunately. You need more competition, biological means of nutrient reduction here... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm and the linked files above... a refugium, DSB, macroalgal cult... Bob Fenner>

Algae Control 12/12/07 Hello WWM, <Hello Michael> Thank you for the great info your site has already given me, love your site. <Thank you.> I have had brown/green zoanthid button polyps in my 30 gal reef tank now for about a month and a half. They we're doing great up until a week ago. I had a green algae explosion in the tank. Its the kind that forms "mats" on the sand. I also have some "hair" algae and brown diatoms that have taken off recently (about a week) Well some of the green "mat" and "hair" algae has grown onto the sides of the polyps and are causing them to close (I think). <Yes, a good reason.> My parameters are Ammonia 0, Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0, pH 8.4 and the temp. is 81 F. I am trying to cut back the time my lights are on each day (down to about 8 hours, instead of 12 hours), also turning off my lunar lights completely. <The lunar lighting has no effect, visual accent only.> The polyps that do not have any algae growing on them are still opening fully and are bright neon green inside. I am also feeding each polyp live adult brine shrimp every other day. I wasn't washing the brine shrimp with tank water before feeding (just using the water they come in) could that be what is causing the algae explosion? <Some brands are processed as is, no rinsing and can lead to excess nutrients in the system. I've found that Hikari is the cleanest and is what I used mixed with Selcon as one of the foods on the menu.> Is there anything else I can do to help my polyps and to remove the algae? <I'd start here and also read related articles above. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm> Thank you, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Michael A.

Re: Maybe Aiptasia And Something Else'¦ follow up... alg. et al. succession in a new tank  11/19/2007 <Hello again Jason, Mich here.> My 75g SW tank has been up and running for 11 days. <Please take things slow.> All the tests have come back: SG 1.024 PH 8.2 AMM 0 Nitrites 0 Nitrates maybe 5 temp 79-80 I just got this algae bloom. Brownish looking algae on the sand bed and discoloring some rocks. I believe this is ok? A friend said this was going to happen, then it will go away. All part of cycling I hope? <Yes.> I'm also small bug-like, shrimp-like, looking creatures scurrying about the rocks. <What a terrible way to describe oneself!> I picked a few out of my filter pad chamber when I changed the filter pad today. Any idea what these are and are they a menace to my society? <Likely Scuds (Gammarus shrimp) or Mysis shrimp both beneficial fish food. Some pics here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/amphipodfaqs.htm > Water is still super clear though. <Good, carbon is good for polishing the water.> I just bought a Berlin Classic yesterday. Waiting for it to arrive before I can skim. <Huh? Thought you were using a Pro Clear?> That's all for now. The advice is much appreciated. <Happy to share! Mich> Jason

Re: Maybe Aiptasia and something else... Follow up 11/25/2007 Happy Turkey day Mich, <Thank you Jason! Hope your was wonderful!> hope you were able to take a quick turkey break. <Oh yes.> The Algae bloom is still in full effect. How long does it tend to last? <It varies.> My tank has been cycling since start-up on Nov. 10th and the algae has been around for about a week. <Not long.> I don't think it seems to be getting worse. <Well, this is good.> It's brown-like algae on the sand bed, but not underneath the rocks, and some green hair-like algae is appearing on the wall of my overflow. The few snails and hermits I have in there are loving it. <Glad to hear.> How many snails, hermits, or other inverts would you recommend for a 75 gal reef tank? <I, myself, am not a big fan of the hermits. I generally don't keep them. As far as snail go, likely not as many as you LFS likely recommends. Perhaps a few different species with dissimilar diets. Like not more than 10 of any one species. Snails often starve in captivity.> I have not done any water changes yet due to the fact the system is cycling still and my tests are still all good. <This is irrelevant. I would still recommend water changes. It will help with the algae and is a good habit to get into. More here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/scottsh2ochgart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watchgantart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm > Your information is appreciated as usual. <Happy to provide it Jason.> Thanks <Welcome! Mich> Jason

Is there a point of no return? Hair alg. control  11/15/07 Hello All, As always, thank you for sharing your knowledge with all of us out here trying to learn the intricacies of this hobby! I'm hoping you can shed some light for me. I've been in this hobby for a little over a year now, and I'm at a crossroads. I have been battling hair algae for many months. (I'm talking a good six months). As you can guess, after six months, I'm about ready to nuke the tank! I have researched until my eyes felt like they would fall out, and I have tried what seems to be every trick in the book to solve the problem. Yet, I still can't kick it. I wonder if there comes a point where you can't win and you should just start over? <...depends on what you mean by "start over." There certainly come points when you should sit down and carefully consider every aspect of your tank and be willing to make big changes in your setup or the way you do things.> Here is where I believe I went wrong........I started the tank with tap water, and I did not have much a clean up crew for a long while. The tank is a four foot 55 gallon tank, with about 35 lbs of live rock. Since the hair algae attack, I have been trying like heck to find the source. I tested the tap water and found it has phosphate. So I switched to RODI. That didn't change anything. <When you switch to RODI, did you do a 100% water change? --or the equivalent over a period of time with large water changes?> I upped the circulation to three powerheads, and that did nothing. I cut the lights. I stopped feeding frozen Mysis and switched to a few pellets of Formula One. I do weekly 10 gallon water changes, and now am doing 5 gallons twice a week. I top off with PH adjusted aged water daily. I'm understocked <no such thing really> (one velvet fairy wrasse, one clown, and two Pseudochromis). I don't overfeed (everything is consumed in the water column. I'm guessing 15-20 pellets of Formula One for four fish). I had a canister filter (cleaned every other week), and removed that a week and a half ago. I have an AquaC Remora skimmer. My T5 lighting is just now a year old, and the problem has been happening for six months. <Interesting... have you ever changed your bulbs? You should change your bulbs every 6 months.> I have been manually removing the algae, but it just doesn't help. I've upped the clean up crew (dozen asst crabs, 6 Nassarius, 6 Astrea, three Turbos, one peppermint shrimp) Every time I do a water change, I have to clean all the powerheads and the heater as well, since they get all gunked up with the algae. Algae is actually growing on the snails. It's unbelievable. What I do not have is a sump or refugium. My original plan (prior to all these problems) was to upgrade this tank to a 75 because I hate the narrowness of the 55. So, with the tank I have now, I don't want to sink a huge amount of money into it, especially if it is possible that it won't solve my problem. I don't have room for a sump below. I've been toying with the idea of adding a refugium off to the side, <Never a bad idea. You know, you COULD set up your 75g and turn the 55g into a refugium for it. :-)> but I don't know if that will help me at all. I know it cannot hurt, but again, since I'm hoping to upgrade, I don't want to waste money to get a refugium going, only to have that not help my problem either. (cost of overflow and pump and container, in addition to the new bulbs needed for my T5 light) <new bulbs might help> So, here is my question. Is there a point that can be reached where you just can't win the battle? <Let me tell you something one of my friends likes to say: "this isn't a hobby, it's a lifestyle." Ok, well, my friends is a bit passionate, but it is true that marine aquarium keeping is not something you can do leisurely only "whenever you have spare time" (at least not when you're just starting out). So, no, you don't ever have to give up, but there may come a point when it's just not worth it to you personally.> Am I missing something here? I'm considering breaking down the tank and starting a new one when the timing is right for me. What worries me though is that I can't find the source of the problem, and I'd worry like crazy that the same thing would happen in a new tank. <Indeed, if we don't learn from our errors, we are doomed to repeat them. I suggest you 1) change your bulbs 2) raise your calcium and alkalinity. Although your levels are acceptable, raising them might help favor coralline algae over hair algae. See here too: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/grnalgcont5.htm> I just can't deal with this anymore, unless there is something I've overlooked. Levels are as follows: Temp 78 Ph 8.4 Alk 10 Nitrate 0 Phosphate 0 <Unfortunately, this test result wouldn't tell you how much *organic* phosphates you might have in your tank.> Calcium 350 Salinity 1.026 1.5 inches of Caribsea aragonite sand Lastly, a recent problem (last few weeks) is that I have been losing a lot of snails. I top off daily with fresh water, so the salinity is stable. The temp is also stable. Could there be something that is feeding the algae, which has now reached toxic levels to the snails that I'm not testing for??? <I'm not sure the two are related. But please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snaildisfaqs.htm> Hopefully you can shed some light for me. I think I only have two options............break down the tank, or spend a lot of money to make a lot of changes. <Or, another option, take the afore mentioned suggests and just wait and see what happens.> Your advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. Regards, Kim <De nada and good luck, Sara M.>

Help... Mmm, algae control   11/15/07 Hi all hope everyone is ok. I have a query I hope you can help with, firstly my set up is as follows; 280 litre tank, Good selection of live rock, Crushed coral sand bed approx 1 inch, Fluval 405 external filter, Hydor 300 watt external heater, Aquaclear 30 powerhead, Prizm skimmer ( I know you don't rate these but mine actually works quite well apart from it being a bit noisy!) And Arcadia over tank Luminaire T8 lights. MY livestock include 2 Percula clownfish, 1 Regal tang ( my Fab wife has agreed in principle to a 150 gal tank after xmas yee haa) <Nice!> 1 Fire shrimp, 1 reef lobster <Keep your eye on this. Predaceous> and a Red scooter blenny. All my water parameters are ok and all livestock healthy, active and feeding well. My tank has been set up for approx 4 months now and I have been using R/O water for top off and water changes for the last 2 months to try and combat brown coral sand which is slowly starting to work. I usually clean front, back and sides every few days but I have noticed recently that this needs doing almost daily now? It looks like a light white dust when I look through tank from the sides all over glass, any ideas? <All sorts...> Also because my tank has 3 inch wide brace bars at the top I am unable to mount my Prizm skimmer in the orthodox way, I am having to sit the skimmer slightly higher and letting the water weir over my brace bars is this ok? <If it works...> Also to try and combat micro bubbles I have placed 2 pieces of filter foam on the outlet of the skimmer, is this ok or is it a nitrate factory? <To some extent... if cleaned frequently... at least weekly, not so much> Many many thanks for all you past, present and future help. Micky <Mmm, do look into adding a refugium... If you're fortunate enough to get the 150 gallon, I'd make the present tank into it... and add an in-sump skimmer there... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugrationalefaqs.htm and the linked files above... measuring space, chatting with significant other re placement... and start being extra nice... Bob Fenner>

Algae Problems 10/27/07 Hope everyone there is having a good day. <Not bad.> I'm having a bit of a problem with an algae that I'm not too sure what it is - one LFS said it was diatoms, another said it was BGA. It started around 2-3 months ago by showing up on one of the rocks, since it has spread to most of the rocks, rear and side walls. I'll include a picture, but the best description I have for it is it looks like wet cotton balls that have been torn apart, it's golden brown in color, it grows over the coralline, it grows in little tuffs, and grows in all areas of flow (high to moderate). The only place it hasn't been found on yet is the SSB (1" or less). I've taken all the measures I've found on your site (reduce feeding, increase flow, regular water changes (have always done that), have ball of Chaeto in the fuge, and added PhoSar by Warner Marine in a reactor), but nothing has seemed to put much of dent in it. At this point, I'm not even sure it's an algae. I try not to bother you guys unless I hit a brick wall, and on this one, I just seem to be spinning my wheels. Here's all the info about my setup: 5' 150 gallon display housing only SPS corals (plumbed directly beneath it in the basement) 2 sumps and a fuge (about an extra 50 gallons) Fuge has 6" DSB (18x30") 54 x turnover of flow Euro-Reef CS8-2-RC feed directly from the "collection" sump (the skimmer fills 3/4+ of the collection cup in a 6-7 day period with dark nasty skimmate) Have begun a 24 hr slow drip of Kalk Korallin calcium reactor Change out 25 gallons every 2 weeks (Tropic Marin) All water is made with RO/DI with inline TDS meter reading 0 Run PhoSar in homemade reactor Run AC in homemade reactor (changed monthly) About 250 lbs of LR 2 X 250W MH (adding a third tomorrow) Temp 78 Ammonia and nitrites 0 (Salifert) No3 has always read 0, even with new test kit (Salifert) Po4 is 0 (Merck) Calcium 450 (Salifert) ALK 11 (Salifert) Mag 1175 (Sea Chem) ORP 460 20 SPS frags 1 clam 3.5" Yellow Tang 5" Naso Nang 2" Flame Angel 2" Tomato Clown 7 x Blue Green Chromis 1 Sand Sifting Star lots of snails and a few blue legged hermits The only recent changes have been the removal of a DSB in the display (advice from LFS about 10 weeks ago) - was 4+", now 1" or less. And am in the acclimation process with new bulbs (20K XM) - old ones were year old 14K Hamilton's. The algae started on the right side of the tank and remains heaviest on that side, so LFS thought it was a good bet that the bulbs had "shifted" and are at least part of the problem. Hopefully I've included everything needed to get a good diagnosis of the problem - and as always, thanks for the great job all of you do. <Mike, in my 30+ years in the hobby, I've never seen anything that looks identical to your problem. I would have said cyano, but your description of "wet cotton balls" doesn't fit in. I'm thinking the bubbles shown in the pics are hydrogen sulphide packets which may have developed when you removed most of your sand bed. Try squeezing some of this stuff and see if it doesn't smell like rotten eggs. Bob may have a better idea when he views the pics. Have you tried siphoning this off? James (Salty Dog)> Mike <<Likely the disruption of denitrification with the removal of the DSB, the switching of lamps are factors here... I'd physically remove as much material as practical... use GAC... and be patient. RMF>>

Re: Algae Problems 10/28/07 James, <Mike> Thanks for taking a look, I was afraid this would be one of those abnormal deals. The algae with the bubbles were there before I removed the DSB. I have siphoned it bits at a time, but did a pretty thorough job siphoning it out last week. A pretty decent amount of suction separates it from it's base, but leaves the scalp behind. I got all the big patches (like in the photos), so I don't have anything big enough left to give it the smell test. I'll be looking  forward to Bob's diagnosis - thanks again. <You're welcome. You may want to try using a toothbrush to clean this off the rock a little better. Do read today's (Sunday) FAQ's for Bob's comments. James (Salty Dog)> Mike

Algae? 10/27/07 Hi there and thanks in advance for your assistance. There seems to be a sort of mossy algae growing on some of my LR and I wondered if there was a way to clear this up. <Again, the picture doesn't help all that much. But I've had stuff that looks just like this and I think it's hydroids of some sort, which collect debris.> My turbo snails don't seem to take much notice of it as they are too busy on the back glass majority of the time! <Snails wouldn't eat hydroids (if that's what it is). I got rid of most of it by just brushing the rocks with a tooth brush, then vacuuming up the debris. Maybe this will help more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hydrozoanfaq2.htm> I recently used a product called Purple Up, I'm sure you're familiar with it. <Ugh, yes.> It worked wonders and coralline algae growth <I'm not sure it was the purple up...> has definitely improved but since the bottle has been empty for a few weeks this stuff appeared and started covering it up. Any suggestions greatly appreciated. <Use calcium chloride and baking soda (or Kalk or some two-part solution) to maintain your calcium and alkalinity. Unfortunately, if this is the same stuff I had, it will grow right over coralline algae (but without killing it oddly enough). See if my tooth brush and vacuum method doesn't work for you...> Regards K.
Sara M.>

Re: worried beginner, Algae Control 10/26/07 Chris <Hello> As I said I haven't introduced any fish as of yet, and a film of algae covered the sand bed last week (dirty yellow), <Might have been diatoms too.> when I introduced Phosphate remover last night that all disappeared, I'm not going to hinder the growth of the nice purple coralline algae on the rocks am I (with the introduction of phosphate remover). Mo <It will probably return, the phosphate remover would not have acted so fast. This is pretty common in new tanks and should pass in time with proper maintenance. The purple coralline algae will be fine.> <Chris>

Dinoflagellates Suggestions Hi Sara, <Hi, sorry for the late reply (I've been in NYC).> I have been following your correspondence on "The Last Straw...........Dinoflagellates." I recently had an outbreak of dino, and after doing some book and web research I came up with three suggestions: phosphate/silicate removal, fresh carbon, and raise alkalinity. I checked my alkalinity and found that it had dropped to 5 dKH. Over a few days, I was able to raise it to 11. I also changed my carbon cartridge, and used "Soluble Phosphate Out" (unfortunately, no longer available) which also claimed to remove silicates. I can't tell you which of these actually worked, but within a week all the Dino had been reduced to detritus. <Sounds good to me. Though, I think what I identified in that other series of emails as Dinoflagellates may have been some kind of Cyano. Without the aid of a microscope, I've always had a little trouble telling one oozy microbe from another. If Bob says its Cyano, he would know better than me. In any case, for those people who do actually have dinoflagellates (or Cyano for that matter), these are some good suggestions, so thank you. The only thing I'd add is that water changes are also important. That and if you're using RO/DI water, you shouldn't have silicates in the water.> Hope this helps, <I haven't had these problems for some time now, but I'm sure this will help other people still struggling.> Scott <Gracias amigo. Sara M.>

Re: Algae Control 9/26/07 Thanks Salty Dog. <You're welcome.> Had someone on one of the message boards (Michigan Reefers) suggest it was Bryopsis. Any chance it is that? <Yes, probably what it is.> Or maybe it doesn't matter given that the remedy is about the same. And while I have your attention, what do you think the attached picture is? It is starting to sprout up at several places. Looks like a little water plant I'd see in my pond. I keep looking through all the material on the website and reference books I have but with so many species out there, just can't seem to find pictures that match what I am observing. <Mmm, looks like Mermaid Cups/Wine Glass (Acetabularia) to me, but they have long stalks. Bob? James (Salty Dog)> Russell

Re: Algae Control 10/04/07 Hi James, many thanks for your swift reply, will remove airstone, agree it is cause of mess. And will try lights off for a week. <Or more.> Will update you soon, <Good. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Mickey

Marine tank - brown colored algae, reading/using WWM  -- 9/24/07 Hi guys- great site! I have read it over the passed few days trying to find someone that is having the same problem as I am. So much reading. <Better to hone ones searching skills at some point> I have a 65G tank that has been set up for 8 months now. I have suffered my share of typical algae blooms but this one seems to be kicking me down. It started about 6 weeks ago when I started topping off w/ RO water from the LFS. <Mmmm> In the top off water I use Kalk in a DIY dripper. Down to the problem. during the day a nasty looking brown looking and in some areas green beard algae covers everything. Rocks, overflow, spouts, power heads, etc. On the bottom (2-3 inches of aragonite) is a brown dusty-sparse beard like algae. <Likely a mix... with BGA...> I can blow it off with the power head easily and it will stay gone for a few hours but then returns. I can blow most of it off the rocks too. The beard on the overflow seems to need scrubbed off. The weird part is, it goes away at night, but after an hour of the lights on the next day it's all over the place again. Turn the lights off and it goes away in a couple hours and so on. I vacuum it out and scrape it off the glass but somehow it always comes back. What are some things I can try? <Reading> I do water changes; skim a medium green cup every day. My nitrates are around 40ppm too. I just started removing the bio balls slowly last week in an effort to make the nitrates go away. From what I know I don't need the bio balls anymore since I have about 60 LBS of live rock. Thanks! <Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and on to where you lead yourself. Bob Fenner> --Andy

Re: marine tank - brown colored algae   9/25/07 Thanks! I have posts at reef central and have read through many of theirs and yours user post forums. But I hear and read so much conflicting advice. <Mmm, discerning minds...> From one web site and LFS to the next, they tell me something different. <What you "hear" though is up to you... Like any other field of interest, one needs to sort fact from unsubstantiated opinion. Can you do this?> Some say do a 50% water change, some say add nitrate sponge, some say remove bio balls and some suggest to vacuum; others say don't vacuum all the way to leave it alone. <All possibilities... and there are more> I was hoping to hear 2 cents worth from a known expert.  <Then read where you were referred> I have noticed that some little bubbles are getting caught in the moss on the rocks. That would be bubble algae I assume? <Mmm, mostly Cyano showing... too much nutrient available, too little competition...> Here is a picture incase my words aren't describing it accurately. Thank you, I really appreciate it!
<Keep reading. BobF>

Marine Algae Control 9/7/07 I have a 90 gallon AGA corner overflow reef only and have been having issues such as algae on live rock. I'm using a 30 gallon sump with a classic Berlin skimmer and dose with Kalkwasser using a carboy setting on a bucket in addition to using calcium supplement etc. <Is the skimmer producing well? What other supplements are you using?> I have a mag1200 for circulation and the water cascades into the corner overflow? No Durso. The water afterward flows into a bag filter set in the sump. <Are you getting at least 15X turnover in the tank using only 1 pump? Are all areas of the tank getting good circulation or do you have dead spots where detritus can collect?> Possible source of algae is originally I had a deep sand bed (play lot sand- silty) and after about a year I sucked it all out. <I don't put much stock in the DSB causes algae blooms school of thought, more likely from overfeeding, overstocking, or bad source water and lack of water changes.> I am wondering if when I placed the live rock back in it became seeded from silt? <Doubt it> It is a mess and a shame since the LR has a lot of life. Unfortunately, I have lost almost all my SPS about 200.00 worth and growth is retarded with all. Suggestions... I feel I need to start all over again. <Most likely unnecessary with a little work and patience.> Should I take out the LR and place in a garbage can with a lid and black it out for about a week with the Berlin inside then afterward scrub, clean and replace. <This process is often called "cooking" and I think it is often more work than is necessary. What you need to determine is where the nutrients that are fueling this algae is coming from.> Meanwhile drain aquarium clean with bleach or just rinse out well and dry to kill spores. Coarse sand or no sand for light vacuuming - refill with ro and salt. <Sounds like too much work to me for something that may very well not fix the situation permanently.> Can I use the aquarium water to black out with or should I make fresh RO with new salt and buffer? <If you go this route you need to do very frequent water changes, so what you start with will not matter too much. Most importantly what are your water parameters? Do you have phosphates or excessive nitrates? How is you tank stocked? How much do you feed and how frequent are you water changes? Do you use RO/DI? If so are the resins and membrane old? Many thing too look into here before tearing down the tank.> <Chris>

Re: algae... control... English comprehension  -- 09/08/07 Okay you're right a lot of work. I just came from my LFS and he asked me where I got those plugs from (corals from Garf) good source but remove coral from plug?. <? No> Very interesting, indicating that the plugs where not cured all the way. He said that he has seen algae like this on concrete when Portland cement has not cured enough. <Does, can happen> My water parameters checked out well but for high alkalinity which explains why 2 out of 3 gorgonians died when arriving one week later and the third is withdrawn. <Not likely... Sea Fans are not hardy animals by and large... What is your measured Alkalinity?> I didn't have a lot tied up in corals except the electricity to run it 2 -250mh and 4 -110watt (only running one 250). During my dilemma I set up a side tank 30 gal. and put in LR accordingly. No skimmer, lighting etc. and no coral. After 1.5 mo the rock was smooth and porous no algae but macro. conclusion... I decided I better start over versus blacking out the tank seemed easier and don't want spores. I have it behind a wall in the basement. <...> Rock in Rubbermaid and will be adding a few pieces back in every week. No DSB. <Can't make out what you're referring to, nor what you're looking for here... Try showing to others to see if what you intend makes sense. Got me. Bob Fenner>

Can You Give Me Your Opinions On This Please. Reef Central Thread (Lights Out For 3 Days). Alg. cont.    8/22/07 Hello again, <Hi there, Mich here.> my second email to you today! <But not your second email ever! This is a familiar address.> I am apparently causing a bit of a "fight" on Reef Central (I won't state my opinions on that site :) ). <Stirring up the kettle are we?> I am not sure if you're aware of this thread <I am. Have read in its entirety several weeks ago.> or not but I was wondering if you could give me your opinion on it? <I can and will.> http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1078532&perpage=25&pagenumber=1 My personal opinion which has not gone over well at all is that this is simply a temporary fix to the real problem. <I would agree.> How can turning your lights off for 3 days solve a problem? <When combined with a large water change may help to in part address the issue.> Yes it may kill the algae and let you siphon the dead algae out. It may make the problem go away for a while. I still believe that you are masking the real problem and not dealing with it. <You are correct here.> This is hardly different than dumping chemicals in your tank in my opinion. <I would however, disagree with you here.> You kill the algae, don't fix anything, your tank looks pretty for a while, then you have to do this all over again. <This is true, if the only thing that is done is turning off the lights, but this process can be useful in getting a leg up on the problems at hand when done in combination with a large water change and overall tank maintenance.> While I know storms may cause cloudy water, and cloudy skies which would block some sunlight, I don't think the intensity of the sun is the same here in Michigan as it is on the equator. <You are absolutely correct, remember back to earth science how the earth rotates on its axis... the rays at a greater angle in Michigan than at the equator.> Cloudy is cloudy, it's not light free, or barely lit. Do I think turning your lights off for three days is going to kill your tank, probably not, <No, will not.> I still don't see how people think this is a cure. <Is not a cure. But can be a useful tool.> Right now I am just completely frustrated with all of this. Will you please just state your honest opinion on this matter? <Again, it is not a cure. And does not address the initial cause of the excess nutrients and resultant algae build up. But I think it can be a useful tool to help get a poorly maintained tank back on course. Especially if the reason behind the poor tank condition is a result of neglected maintenance and minimal water changes.> Thank you. <Welcome. Mich>

Re: Can You Give Me Your Opinions On This Please. Reef Central Thread (Lights Out For 3 Days).  8/23/07 Thank you Mich. <Welcome!> I do agree with everything you've said. I can see how this would be a great tool in a neglected tank to get things back on the right track. However a tank that is not neglected IS going to grow algae at some point, good or bad. In your opinion should a technique like this be used in a tank that is healthy, has good water parameters, good coral growth, and healthy fish? <Doesn't sound like it would need it.> One last question. My feeling are that the algae most likely would end up coming back, UNLESS you did some major "cleaning" once the algae disappeared, <I would agree.> sorry that was not the question. Here's the question, <OK.> when you purchase live rock from a LFS (pretty much dead rock), and cure it in the dark, it bleaches and is eventually cured <Doesn't need to be cured in the dark.> ........when it's added to the tank it sprouts algae, almost every time, Halimeda, and other algae do this commonly....... <Yes.> SO if rock is cured in the dark for a month, how can algae that lived on it in the ocean come back <It is extremely resilient.> (not everyone cures rock this way but I have)? Sorry that question was terribly worded. <Mmm, clear as mud?> Thank you for all your thoughts. <Welcome!> By the way the fact that my email address looks familiar made me laugh, yeah, I ask you guys a lot of questions. <Heehee! I noticed.> Thanks so much. <Glad we are able to help! Mich>

Marine Algae Woes  8/21/07 Drew WWM Crew -- As always, everyone has been so helpful over the last couple years. Thanks so much for the service and advice you provide! Now, on to the good stuff. I have a 90 gal FOWLR that's been up and running for almost 2 years. I'm very lightly stocked with 1 tomato clown and 2 firefish, and a various assortment of snails. I plan  on adding another appropriate fish or two in coming months and [gasp] maybe try my hand at some easy corals. However, I'm trying to first fix a hair algae problem that has plagued me for the last year or so. This problem has caused more upset stomachs  than I care to share! I've got a constant battle with green hair/thread algae covering my 70 lbs of rock and substrate. My coralline is spotty at best, and at times looks like it's going to start taking  over, but then it fades out just as quickly and the hair algae returns. I've taken the following steps to try and combat it: - upgraded flow by replacing powerheads with a Tunze 6000 - upgraded skimmer to an AquaC EV-180 - bumped bi-weekly water changes from 15 to 30 gal - more frequent changing of RO filters - light feeding, 3-4x a week, varied diet, etc. - buffer with Seachem Marine Buffer, aerated / heated RO water <All good moves> My calcium used to run low around 260-270, and I started dosing B-Ionic calcium only,  which keeps it fairly level around 325-350. As for lighting, I run 2x 65W actinic and 2x 65W 10,000K, for a photoperiod of 12 hours. I typically swap the bulbs after 8-12 months of use. I've also included other useful setup and chemistry info below. 1. Could my lighting be the culprit here? <Mmm, not by itself, no> 2. Does anything chemistry-wise look out of whack? <Not of what you list... but...> 3. I currently have a very, very shallow substrate - approx 1/4" layer of sugar sized aragonite. I read about the benefits of a DSB, but do you think that could be a benefit here? <Yes... but I'm a much bigger fan of placing such in tied-in sumps/refugiums rather in main displays> 4. The rock is getting a little old, I guess. Would I benefit from swapping some of this old with some new stuff? <If there's room, likely adding a bit in, over, amongst the existing, yes> I've been tearing my hair out trying to figure this out, almost to the point of driving me out of the hobby - well, not quite, but you know what I mean. I could use any suggestions here, as I feel I've tried almost everything. At this point, I'm crunched for space and don't have room for a refugium or a Calc reactor, but I'm willing to try almost anything else. Help, please!! Thanks to the entire crew. Drew from Philadelphia, PA <A few approaches to consider... Easily done... laid out here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Hair and Brown Algae Problems  8/21/07 Dear Bob, <Mark> I am really hoping you can help as we have hit a brick wall. <Don't do car repair...> We are having problems with hair algae. Despite scrubbing and changing of filtration as well as the introduction of macro algae and maintaining excellent water quality the problem is as follows. <Other paths...> Our efforts against the hair algae are successful for a day or two, however, we are constantly left with this brown fuzz which seems to coat all the rock and even the macro. It can be easily removed but returns within 48 hours sometimes even less. It is unlike anything I have seen it has no plant like structure but looks more like short very thin brown fuzz which turns into cotton ball like structures when scrapped off. The hair algae, of course, also returns. <The conditions which allow it have not changed... light, nutrients, lack of competition, predation...> We use only RO/DI water, tank has been up and running for about 4 months, good clean up crew in place with 6 Nerites, 12 Nassarius, Stomatella, 6 astrea, a couple marginella as well as red legged hermit crabs, but even the snails grow the same brown fuzz. There are no seahorses in the tank at the moment, it gets fed 1 cube of Mysis once every other day with no spikes. Plan was to put in 4 Northern Erectus, but was waiting for the tank to mature. Water parameters as follows Temp 72 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 0 Phosphates 0 <Likely all nutrients that you can/are trying to measure are being rapidly incorporated...> DKh 12 PH 8.2-8.3 Ca 450 Mg 1250 We have also tested the RO/DI water before using it and all parameters are 0. We use Salifert testing kits all are in good shape, new, none of them expired. Macro algae growth is existent but slow, even the C. prolifera <Look into better algae than Caulerpas...> is slow growing and that usually will grow in a bucket in the dark. We are using a skimmer which collects a moderate amount of brownish/green skimmate, UV also in place. Sand bed is about 1.5-2" deep CaribSea aragonite. It is a 38 gallon tank with a life reef overflow, 40lbs LR hooked up to a ProClear Aquatics 150 wet /dry filter <Trouble> with excellent water circulation driven by a Mag 9.5. Spray bar on top as well as on the bottom blowing across the sand bed. Lighting 96W PC 10,000 with .3 actinic. We use Chemi-Pure and Phosban in the chamber where the bioballs <These are a principal source of trouble here> normally would be in the wet/dry filter as well as LR rubble. Also on the sand there what looks like a diatom bloom in some areas. This is driving us crazy. We are waiting for this to clear up and for the macro to grow in a bit more before ordering horses. Does anyone know what this could be, or any suggestions on how to get rid of it. <Most everybody here does> We have also added extra bacteria into the system even after it cycled in the hopes that it would out compete along with the macro this scourge we seem to have going on. We are totally stumped and have no idea what to do. There is coral in the tank mostly softies and gorgs which are all growing really quite well. I am attaching a some pictures. Any help or suggestions appreciated. Thanks Mark <Mmm, the conversion or addn. of a refugium with DSB, alternating light cycle, Chaetomorpha/Gracilaria... removing the bio-balls, possibly the wet-dry period... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm and the links embedded and at top... Bob Fenner>

Re: Hair and Brown Algae Problems   8/22/07 Dear Bob, <Mark> In reading your answer, I found a miscommunication. I stated that we have a ProClear Aquatics wet/dry filter 150. In the next sentence I stated that where the bioballs should be we have placed Chemi-Pure, Phosban and LR rubble there are no bioballs in the filter at all. <Okay> I would also like to ask what is the <trouble> with ProClear and their wet/dry filters. <Mmm, overdriven nitrification mostly... Posted... and the negative consequences therein> Based upon this do you have any other suggestions as I have already read everything in the link you have provided Thanks Kindly Mark <All sorts... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/wdmodconv.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Brown Diatom Algae/Green Hairy Algae 8/23/07 Hello Crew, <Hi> Third time writing, but I do guarantee you I've spent nearly everyday on the site finding very much useful information. Thanks for your contributions to us hobbyist aquarists, and my livestock probably owe you their lives! <Actually that is your doing, we just offer a little guidance.> I had a question about nuisance algaes that thrive when high nitrates are present. I was wondering, although rather unsightly to look at (especially brown diatom infestations), if they thrive by absorbing nitrates, then does it actually provide a benefit of sort by keeping nitrates lower than if these nuisance algaes did not exist in the tank or are completely eradicated through water changes and aggressive skimming? <They do help some, but you are not really removing anything with the algae, just making it unavailable until the organism dies. Skimmers and water changes do remove nitrates permanently.> My question comes as my brown algae epidemic is subsiding substantially. I've been getting by doing 25% water changes monthly, keeping nitrates at 5ppm or lower. But will the absence of nitrate absorbing/eating nuisance algae push me to do water changes more frequently to control nitrates (I'm considering adding 1 or 2 more fishes). <Probably will not make a significant difference here, they are just not large enough. Macroalgae can remove more and are easier to harvest, removing nitrates and phosphates permanently.> Any light on the subject would be appreciated. Thanks! Robert from California....again. <Welcome>


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