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FAQs on Marine Algae and Their Control 4

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 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

Tydemania expeditionis 

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Unattractive Sand Bed, Lack of Coralline and Green Live Rock   2/5/08 Dear Crew: <Hello Alesha> Well, here goes. It turns out I had more questions than I thought. I run a 26g DSB FOWLR system. However, I desperately want corals (to survive). I have some accompanying issues, as well. My tank has been up and running for a year. I have conquered most algaes in the first months (diatom, Cyano, hair) but my tank water remains clear with proper parameters at this time. <You should be testing for Calcium, Alkalinity (preferably in DKH), Magnesium, Nitrates, and Phosphates. Ca=400-480ppm, Alk=8-10DKH, Mg=1,350ppm, Nitrates less than 10ppm, and 0ppm Phosphates. ZERO!) However, there are still things which are wrong (and/or annoying) with my tank and I was hoping you can offer some sage advice: My live rock and some larger pieces of substrate (seashells, etc.) have a green tint to them. I have scrubbed/siphoned, but the rock seems to remain/return to algal green. It seems that this may be a lighting issue - since the portions of the rock which are mostly hidden from the light are not green! Seems simple enough - but that's not my luck! I also get a slight greenish film on some of the glass approximately every 2 days, which I magnet-scrape off. Clearly, this is a green algae problem, but my parameters are fine (so it says). What do I do? I'd really like to have purple/pink rocks and crisp white sand - and despite constant reading on the subject (and $2000 into a virtually barren 26g) - my tank looks nothing like the ones in my LFS. I have: 2 false percula clowns 1 green chromis damsel 1 feather duster 1 small (about 1 in.) pincushion urchin (see explanation below) 1 small Turbo snail (not Mexican) (just added) Several clumps of Gracilaria (just added) A few bumble bee snails A few Nassarius snails 1 blue leg hermit. Other detritivores have died intermittently over the last few months. Shall I add more? Hard to tell if they are already "old" when I get them or what - but I do drip acclimate for 2 hours. They survived, then died off over a period of months - is this the average life span of these detritivores? Seems like I had a lot more at one time! I run an Aqua C Remora HOT skimmer, a Magnum Canister filter with carbon and (sometimes) Phosban, a UV sterilizer and 2 wavemakers - and a small fan in the summer. <The Phosban should always be used and the carbon and PhosBan should be changed every 3 weeks> Temperature and salinity are always in the appropriate range. <Temp=77F-82F and Salinity=1.025 s.g.> But as I indicated, I have been unable to keep corals. Each has died early on (after a few weeks): Frogspawn, xenia, blue-green mushrooms, clove polyps - though the mushrooms lasted the longest. I don't want to give up on corals - they make the saltwater hobby what it is, but I am at wit's end as to how to allow them to survive. I've added, a few days ago - giving it ONE MORE TRY - a very small frag of a zoanthid - my first zoo. It opened right away and seems happy - so far. However, I am concerned that this photosynthetic creature needs too much light, as to allow green algae to grow even more. <I did not see where your light was listed, but a Power Compact, T5, or 150w Metal Halide should be used. PC should be at least 130w dual strip> Is there a simple test for TDS? A dip strip? Could this be my problem? I recently started using a liquid phosphate remover (according to the directions), when I ran out of PhosBan. However, even without these removers, my phosphates were never above 1. So why the green scourge? <TDS meters are less than $30 US and should be used at the output of the source water. I recommend RO/DI water with a TDS reading of Zero ppm. Anything more will grow algae. As far as PO4 goes, any reading above 0ppm(ZERO) will grow algae and is too high. 1.0ppm is very high for a reef tank. Anything above .025ppm will grow algae and inhibit coralline and coral growth.> I must have something that is creating this green ugliness. Also, no coralline after one year. Actually a small patch on the skeleton of the frogspawn (as well as little tiny feather dusters!) - but the coralline has not spread - at all. I have just seeded the tank with a another rock (with coralline) from a fellow hobbyist and the new zoanthid has some on its rock - so we'll see what happens. <This is due to PO4, and Alk/Ca levels being off. Once the PO4 is eliminated and the proper Alk/Ca/Mg levels are maintained coralline algae will be everywhere!> I never impulse purchase but I wanted some interesting inverts recently - SOMETHING to make my tank look better - and it seems most stars would strip my sand bed, so I thought the little pincushion would do OK, after being assured by the LFS it was a GREEN algae eater and would be largely indifferent to my coralline. However, I now see conflicting posts online. I am monitoring what little coralline I have. Shall my pincushion (my niece named him "Stewie") go back? <No. I have 7 sea urchins in my 180g and they can't keep up with coralline growth. Proper levels mentioned above will give your urchin plenty to eat.> What kinds of safe inverts/sand stirrers can I get (I think serpent stars are creepy) in a tank this size? I never see Fromias (I like the red kind) in stores and realize the mortality rate of Linckias. What to do? I do love stars. But other interesting invert suggestions are appreciated. <Use Nassarius Snails. They will do the job you seek.> Additionally, I have run the gamut from adding every additive under the sun to this tank in proper amounts (essential elements, etc.) to getting frustrated and adding nothing at all. <Stop adding anything. In a 26g system just do weekly 5g water changes with good clean source water. Check with a TDS meter and make sure it is RO/DI.> I've also used properly filtered tap water both as top off, and for water changes - to not doing anything at all but top off of straight tap water. Still -- green tint. So, at that point, water changes seemed a waste of time - as there was no difference. I am starting them again, however, - in earnest. <Tap water is very unstable as the pollutants from the water company are always changing. Please look into RO/DI water for all your water needs for the tank> My light fixture bulbs are one year old - could this be causing the green? Or are 6 month changes just a way for retailers to make money? <It is a general recommendation to replace bulbs after 8 months> I have resumed B-Ionic and starting using Purple Up, in a renewed effort to keep coralline. Do you think this will help it to grow and combat the green algae while I figure out what is causing it? <No. The PO4 will inhibit the growth> My LFS says they use only tap (same municipal water system) and B-Ionic - what am I doing wrong? They have loads of coralline and NO green anything! I don't have room for a reactor (of any kind), or a refugium, and Kalkwasser seems quite complex. But, as I indicated, I am adding B-Ionic and Purple Up daily. Shall I also add Liquid Calcium? This would be too much, I think - but I have it, if I need it. <Your LFS is using B-ionic which is a 2-part additive. Buffer/Calcium. It is quite possible if their doses are high enough they are precipitating PO4 out of solution and exporting it via water changes and a strong skimmer. Their advise is not good advise. You must test for Alk/Ca to see if it is needed before dosing is done so as not to overdose one product over the other.> Further, I was told by a fellow hobbyist that certain salts - even though very popular - are less than desirable, and to use Tropic Marin. Any thoughts? I believe you may have recommended a brand of carbon, as well - can you restate that, if so? Even carbon can be of low quality, apparently. Tropic Marin is expensive, so I want to get more informed opinions as to this salt before I buy. <Instant Ocean is fine for a 26g. Reef Crystals is better for your application, but if your system was larger I would just stick with the IO.> Additionally, many say GARF Grunge is the way to go - others say it's just ugly rubble with a fancy name. I already have many copepods and amphipods - no need for these - so any opinion as to Grunge helping with any other good critters AND more coralline spores, would be appreciated. However, I like a smooth sand bed - will Grunge give me unattractive rubble? <Yes. Grunge will add surface area for more undesirable algae to grow on. PO4 needs to be eliminated first and then Alk/Ca/Mg maintained.> Also, I have little circular white crusty deposits on the powerheads and back glass - and even on the bumblebee snails' shells! I scrape them off the glass. But there are zillions of them. Do these crusties mean I am doing something wrong - or something right? <These are small tube worms. Harmless.> If I can "grow" these obviously calcareous things (what are they?!) - why no coralline? <Because of PO4 and continually adding TDS from Tap water.> My lights are: 2 of T5HO 24W 10000K 2 of T5HO 24W 400nm actinic Moonlights I have no set light cycle (anymore) - because this too has frustrated me: too much light and I get algae - but not enough and nothing else will grow - UGH! <Lights need to be maintained at a minimum of 8 hrs per day with 12 hr cycle preferred.> Also, toward the goal of getting white shimmering sand (a myth?), can I add some find grain aragonite (or Southdown) to the top of my DSB without damaging any organisms or biological processes? My sand sometimes has a green cast to certain spots on the top of it. I'd like to avoid this in the future. It seems that when surface vacuuming the DSB - the smooth sand (if I add any) will get overturned with the rubble sand and defeat my purpose? True? <The finer sands will always settle to the bottom of the tank and the larger pieces or grains will rise.> Thank you for taking time to read this gargantuan post, and for any answers you maybe able to provide. Aleasha in Baltimore, MD P.S. The clowns and chromis are very happy - at least I am doing something right. <PO4 will not harm the fish. There is plenty of phytoplankton in your system which will help feed your copepods which will feed your fish. Nice food web for FOWLR.> <HTH, Please try to get some RO/DI with TDS 0ppm. Then please test for Alk/CA/Mg and adjust. Then I believe you will see great improvements! Rich...aka...Mr. Firemouth>

Algae drives up Reptile Sales? we've had a 55 gal community salt water tank for 6 yrs & lately have had nothing but problems.  have a wet-dry filter & magnum 350. <sounds good> the bottom is sand.  had some live rock, gave it away. <How deep is the sand, you want it to be less than 1in, or over 4in.  Why did you get rid of the live rock, live rock is excellent for marine aquariums.> lots of red algae on everything, particularly the sand. <excess nutrients?> only 3 fish left!!  get conflicting advice, so thought I'd go to the experts. questions: would crushed coral be better than sand? <If you keep the depth under 1in, either substrate will be fine.  If you are going to go for a deep sand bed you will want to use sand. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm > can colored stones be used on the bottom? <That depends on what they are colored with, I like to use marine substrates for their added buffering ability.> what's the best way to get rid of the algae? <Excellent water quality.  Lots of info on Algae at the link below and the related links at the top of that page. http://wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm > our ph is always very hi - could this be part of the problem?   <How high?  probably not the cause of the problem.> also, should we clean the bio-balls in the wet-dry? <Nope> my water temp is about 80, too hi? <should be fine.> sorry to ask so many questions, but if things don't improve soon  we're ready to dump the thing & get a lizard!! <No worries.  Bearded Dragons are fun, but believe me, fish are far more entertaining to watch, don't give up just yet.> thanks tom & Dottie <Check out the links above and have your water tested, if you do not have test kits your local fish store should be able to test it for you.  You want to ensure that you are using quality source water when you perform water changes, weekly to bi-weekly water changes will help with nutrient export.  Replace the media in the canister filter frequently as well.  A nice protein skimmer will also help with nutrient export.  -Best Regards, Gage>

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

Diatoms :( >Hi >>Good morning, Mohammed, Marina here this morning. >I have an 8 month old 10 gal reef, with 36 W pc smart light. I am running 1 aqua-clear 150 filter and a 201 power-head (Hagan I think).  I have 1 baby yellow tail damsel 1 small tomato clown 1 coral banded 4 blue hermit crabs 1 scarlet crab 1 green torch 1 other torch (looks like galaxy) 1 green star polyps rock 1 encrusted gorgonian rock 1 frag of xenia >>Alright. >I do a weekly water change, and I use tap water.  In the past 2-3 months, I have been fighting what I think is diatoms. It is brown, and easy to come off of the live rocks and crushed coral. I vacuum the bottom, and only hours later, the brown algae comes back onto the crushed coral.  I have about 2-3 inches of crushed coral and about 7 pounds of live rock. >>Ok, you do not have sufficient live rock at 7lbs.  You need a minimum of 10lbs (rule of thumb is 1-2lbs/gallon).  Also, if you switched the crushed coral to a sand bed (minimum of 4") you would gain denitrification benefits.  It's usually recommended to use a sugar fine calcareous substrate for this purpose.  Also, by vacuuming the substrate, you're removing the beneficial bacteria.  If the diatoms are not smothering the photosynthetic invertebrates then let them be till they use up the available nutrients as another course of action.  Like lemmings the algae can starve themselves out, assuming, of course, that the tap water you use does not add nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates.  Best to test the tap water before mixing the salt, then test after mixing to see what your results are. >How do I fix this?  Many people have suggested using RO/di water, however, it is very expensive here. >>It's expensive here as well, my friend. >Others have suggested skimmers, but I don't want to skim, since I don't do water supplements other than the weekly water changes. >>Skimming will remove organic compounds, as well as the critters you don't have since you're using crushed coral.  Put a skimmer on the system. >Is there any other solutions?  The algae doesn't care for photosynthesis, because I have dropped the light period to 10 hours, and it is still there and increasing.   >>It is indeed affected by light, as well as excess nutrients.  You have not completely addressed nutrient export, and not knowing how the makeup water tests out we cannot rule THAT out as a source. >I definitely don't over feed. I actually think that I am starving my fish. >>Then address the nutrient export, consider adding a refugium to the system as well as a DSB (deep sand bed) in which you can grow macro algae that will out-compete the diatomaceous algae for nutrients. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeFilt.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm >>These links should get you started, please also look in the marine aquarium article section and investigate the non-vertebrate life where you'll find much information on dealing with diatom blooms. >I have a friend that has the same setup, except that he is extremely over stocked (suffice it to say he has 7 medium fish, 2 of which are a yellow tang and a coral beauty!!!) and he does nutrients' supplements, and only one water change per month!!! >>As ever, as much art as a science.  I'm rather dismayed to hear of two yellow tangs stuffed into a 10gallon system, and to be honest it will soon become a practice in cruelty to the fish. >Yet he has no algae specks. The only thing different is that he uses different source of tap water. If I use the same tap water that he uses, would that help? >>Not knowing anything else about his system, or either water source, I cannot state equivocally one way or the other.  Many, many variables produce results. >All I want is a system as clean as my friend's. >>Please read these links, let go of the belief that protein skimming will be negative, and be sure to test as mentioned above.  If nothing else, it will be a start by the process of elimination. >Will this kill my corals? because it started to move onto the corals. >>It can, indeed.  Do use a baster or other device to gently blow the algae growth off of the corals, and be sure that they have sufficient light of quality, intensity, and photoperiod, as well as sufficient feedings for them that they'll be able to remain healthy through this.  In the marine aquarium articles you'll find MUCH information on coral needs, including lighting and feeding as well. >I thank you very much for your time and help and hope to hear good news from you in the near future. >>Well, I can give you my advice, and after that it is I who awaits good news from YOU, eh?  Best of luck to you, Mohammed.  Marina

Brown Red Slime-Like Algae >I'm currently experiencing a problem with what appears to be a film-like algae that covers my aquarium glass and some of the sand.  It's brownish red and it easily comes off the glass when I clean it with my magnetic algae remover.  The problem is...it keeps coming back.   >>Sounds like Cyanobacteria, relatively common in systems with nutrient export issues. >I've drastically reduced my feeding portions for my percula and three shrimp, and I've also completely cut out all supplements for about two weeks.   >>Feeding supplements?  I would recommend instead that you address the nutrient export, via aggressive skimming, utilization of refugia and DSB (deep sand bed), as well as small, frequent water changes. >My parameters are all in check with Ca and KH a little bit on the low side due to the removal of my regular addition of supplements.   >>The supplements you use to bring up calcium and alkalinity have nothing to do with the growth of any algae save Halimeda and coralline--both generally desirable.   >Can you tell me exactly what kind of algae this is and what I can do to get rid of it?  My protein skimmer is working just fine.   >>I can only best advice you when given a bit more specific information, such as exact readings of water parameters, what precisely has been tested (for instance, are you testing for phosphorous?), and what test kits are being used.  Also, protein skimmer "working just fine", for my purposes, is a bit vague.  A description of the skimmate is the method for deciding just how well the skimmer is working. >Oh, in case it helps with the ID...when I scrape the film off the glass it appears like a floating membrane of film that's somewhat hair like.  Hope that helps.  Thanks in advance.   >>Right, so, I'm fairly certain that what you're experiencing is Cyanobacteria, a.k.a. blue-green algae (which it often isn't).  Links with information follow: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diatoms.htm >>Both links have links within with more helpful information.  Best of luck!  Marina

Green and Brown And Red All Over! (Nuisance Algae) I wrote about 2 weeks ago cause I had a ich problem with my purple tang. <Scott F. with the follow up today> I was treating my tank with Kick-Ich. <Ahh..."pepper sauce"...I don't like this stuff, myself> After this product didn't help me one bit <Surprise...>, you suggested a 50 percent water change.  After doing the water change, I noticed I was getting a lot of green hairy algae, some brown, and also red slime.  On top of this, I have tons and tons of bubbles covering everything.  I really need some help!! <Well, as much as the Kick Ich makes me want to cringe, I doubt that it was the source of the present algae problems. The types of algae that you are mentioning are usually tied to a few basic causes; among them, low-quality (as in high phosphates/nitrates/silicates) source water, and lack of efficient nutrient export mechanisms. Nuisance algae outbreaks are really all about nutrients, IMO. What you need to do is review some aspect husbandry issues here: Consider using RO/DI source water if you aren't already. Also, employ aggressive protein skimming (yanking out a couple of cups of dark, yucky skimmate per week), use of chemical filtration media (Poly Filter, activated carbon, etc), small (5% of tank volume) water changes twice weekly, and overall good husbandry practices. If you address these issues, I'll bet that your algae problems will begin to go away rapidly. Do check out the WWM site for articles on algae control and nutrient export processes. This should set you on the right course. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Algae Scraping >To the greatest team since the '86 Mets: >>Crewmate Marina here this afternoon. >I just read from one of the FAQ's somebody mentioned using a razor blade to scrape some coralline algae from the front panel of (I assume) his glass tank.   >>Yes, glass ONLY, never acrylic. >The responder did not advise against this.  I have a tough time scraping the inside of my tank.  Is it okay to use a razor blade (metal, last time I checked) inside of a marine tank for this purpose? >>Yes, no problem.  You'll not be keeping it inside the tank, though expect it to rust quickly.  Marina

Onset of Nuisance Algae Hi there. I own a 36x12x18 marine aquarium and have done so for about 3 years now with no serious problems so far (fingers crossed). I used to use fluorescent lighting until last October when I purchased a metal halide which has a 10000k 150w bulb + 2 blue fluorescents. After about 2 months of fitting it, I noticed a couple of patches of Chlorodesmis had began to grow around the heater guard and on top of the power heads, which I never had before. My water quality has never changed nitrate and phosphate are at a minimum, I don't overfeed, and my skimmer is working fine too. Although this algae is present it is not growing rapidly out of control. Is it a common occurrence when one changes lighting as such, will it disappear or will it just have to be kept under control I also use ROWAphos & Kent nitrate sponge)? <Well, nuisance algae growths are a result of lighting and nutrient availability. Yes, IMO it's rather common for different forms of algae to appear in a tank after a significant lighting upgrade. With continued attention to nutrient export processes (Water changes, media replacement, etc., etc.), the growth should subside, or at least stay under control...stay on top of things here, and you should be fine> The other query is that I have a uv sterilizer in my cupboard at home which I got from a friend, but I have never used it. <Don't you just love the kinds of things us fish nerds have lying around? What other hobby lets us accumulate gadgets like this?> Some say it's good to use it & some say it's not. Is its main objective only to kill parasites (which my fish have never had) or would it eliminate this algae completely? <Well, there is some truth to both thoughts. UV is definitely effective at eliminating free-swimming parasites and some bacteria. It can also help destroy free-floating algae, but it is probably not going to have a major impact on algae that has attached to a surface. There is certainly no harm in experimenting with UV in your tank, but your best counterattack against nuisance algae is the aforementioned  utilization of aggressive nutrient export processes, and a healthy dose of patience!> Yours sincerely  Mr. J Robertson  (All the way from freezing cold Scotland) Thanks <Any time! Keep warm! Maybe you could dangle your toes in the aquarium...? Regards, Scott F>

- Algae, Starfish, and Crabs... - <Good morning, JasonC here...> Before I ask my questions, here's some background info... 90 Gallon Tank Canister Filter 27oc Salinity: 1.023 95lbs live rock 2" livesand (ya, I know it should be 3") <Unless you want a deep sand bed, 2" is fine - 3" can cause trouble - 4-6" is best for deep sand beds.> 2 Percula Clowns 1 Fire Goby 2 Watchmen Goby Coral Banded Shrimp White Striped Cleaner Shrimp Pistol Shrimp 1 Emerald Crab 45 Blue Legged Hermits 20 Snails 1 Black Brittle Star (5-6" in diameter tip of leg to tip of leg) Just a few questions for ya guys today...  it's been a while: 1.  I have a nice rusty looking red algae growing on everything.  Looks kind cool on the liverock, but it is also growing on some big fancy sea shells and on the hermit crab shells.  It's growing on my fake plants in the tank and on my power heads too.  I've heard that all this algae is good, but it is turning my tank red.     a)  Why is just red algae growing? <The prevailing conditions support it.>     b)  Is this ok for my tank or should I have more of a clean-up crew (crabs/snails)? <Or look to things you may be doing to encourage it - over-feeding, phosphates in source water, high nitrates, etc.>     c)  How do I limit the growth instead of it taking over my tank? <See my answer to B.> 2.  My hermit crabs keep disappearing. It seems as though I have 3 spots in my tank that are just littered with broken, cracked, vacant hermit crab shells.  I see my Pistol Shrimp pulling them into his lair from time to time. As well, I see my Mithrax picking them up and pulling them out of their shells.  Is it usual to see a huge collection of shells in various spots of my tank? <Sure, when someone is eating them...> Not sure if they are all eaten or if they have just outgrown the shells and moved into some bigger ones I provided. <Uhh... you just explained the whole thing. Someone is eating your crabs. No mystery here.> Perhaps a combination of both?  P.S.  Their shells are going all red algae covered as well. 3.    I have a very nice large black Brittle Star that stays in a little hole in my live rock.  I have only seen a few legs out of the hole in the last month.  I did notice that one day he moved to another hiding spot on the other side of the tank.  Therefore, he has moved out of the small hole once that I have noticed in a month and more or less stays there with a few legs hanging out.  My Coral Banded Shrimp tends to hangout right by his hole.     a)  Do you think my CBS may be preventing the Brittle Star from leaving? <No.>     b)  Does this sound usual?  Will my starfish starve in that little hole? <Probably not.>     c)  Anything else sound a little fishy?? <No.> Thanks for your help guys... Dave <Cheers, J -- >

Algae sufferers, don't give up! Thanks for the advice during my battle with algae. Turns out my well water had significantly changed for the worse, and my RO needed an Anion cartridge and dual DI's. One month after using truly pure water, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I would suggest to anyone on a private well who is battling algae to test for silicates and phosphates, even though they have tested zero in the past. The moderate to severe drought conditions and increased water consumption due to population growth, has altered water tables and water quality quite dramatically in some areas. So, before adding/replacing substrate, live rock, return pumps, bulbs, sumps, refugiums etc as I did, retest your water with fresh Salifert or LaMotte test kits. Remember your LFS is most likely in an urban area with halfway decent municipal water, and the employees may have never fought a nasty algae battle, so no amount of snails or crabs or algae blennies will overtake it. Again, thanks WWM Crew. Scott <Thank you for this. Bob Fenner>

Slimed! Please help, I have a brown slime taking over my tank! <Yikes! Scott F. here to help you get through this yucky stuff> It's been a while since I wrote, as things have been going ok, but recently I've run into a problem!  My tank is an office tank, 72 gallons and been set up since Jan of 2000.  Tank has about 70 pounds of live rock, a sand bed that varies between 1" and 3-4" depending on how the inhabitants have re-arranged things, and 260 watts of PC lighting. (lights are less than a couple of months old.)  Inhabitants are a yellow tang, flame angel, maroon clown, 6-line wrasse and a couple of damsels. All have been in tank for almost 2 years with no problems.  Corals are a couple of large soft leathers, mushrooms, anchor and some polyps. All are thriving for more than a year and a half, except the anchor that was added about 3-4 months ago and is doing great.  Also have a clean up crew, sand bed seeding kit etc. <Sounds good so far...> Tank was originally set up with a canister filter and in-tank air powered skimmer.  This worked ok for a while, but it was too hard to keep canister filter clean and I ended up with a hair algae bloom. <A common occurrence with mechanical filtration media...I like them- but they can become "nutrient traps" if not attended to regularly> That was about 8 months ago.  Over the last 6-7 months I've done the following to fight hair algae, and about 90 % of the hair algae is gone: -Got rid of canister filter and in-tank skimmer.  Added AquaC remora with surface skimmer box. <Great moves!> -Added a HOT Whisper 4 that I run Carbon in, replacing Carbon about every week and a half to two weeks.  No bio-sponge in filter. <Good, good> -Added RowaPhos.  (this was about 6 months ago, I just recently removed it) <I've heard good stuff about this product, but haven't used it myself> -Weekly manual removal of Hair Algae. <Elbow grease works> -Cut feedings back to 2 small feedings a day. <Fine move> -Took my 4 powerheads off of a wavemaker and just let them run constantly. <Easier on the powerheads, that's for sure> The hair algae battle was almost over and I could see an end in sight when about 2 weeks ago I noticed a brown dusting on the sand bed. I assumed it was a diatom bloom, although small, and vacuumed it off the sand the last water change (About 10 days ago).  Since then it has taken over the entire half of the tank and glass.  It is a brown slime now that in the morning when the lights first come on barely covers the sand.  By 5:00 however the slime is thicker and stringier.  IT is a light brown in color.  Is this Blue-green or Dinoflagellates? <I'm leaning towards the dinoflagellate bloom> In fact, there are now brown stringy things that are hanging from powerheads. Some of these strings are 6-8" long! <That is an unfortunately all too common occurrence> All the water that goes into the tank is RO/di.  The membrane in the RO filter is about a year old and the carbon, sediment and de-ionization was changed about 3 months ago.  When I was first battling the hair algae I had trouble keeping alk up.  I tested for magnesium and found it a little low (800 ppm).  Since then I added mg, switched to Instant Ocean salt and add baking soda once a week to keep alk up if needed.  The only other thing I add is a 2-part calcium/buffer plus trace elements as recommended by mfg (Kent). Water tests are fine.  Ph 8.2 low to 8.4, nitrate 0, phosphate below .1 ppm.  I did wonder if the RowaPhos I added 6 months ago got used up and was leeching nutrients into the tank, so I removed it about a week ago and put in some poly filter instead.  This goes in the HOT filter and the water hits it after it has passed through the filter media with the carbon in it.  The skimmer pulls out about a half a collection cup a week of brown scum and the collection cup is cleaned thoroughly every time it's emptied.   <Good! Keep the skimmer cranking out that stuff!> But this brown slime doesn't appear to be getting any better.  I thought my trials were over with the hair algae almost being defeated, but this latest set back is a real bummer.  FYI, I have a 44 gallon tank with almost identical set up with the same ratio of lighting, same LR, same water sources etc. that has not a hint of hair algae or brown slime! <Yep- it's really an individual tank thing...Nutrient control is the best thing that you can do...Continued attention to water quality, regular water changes, protein skimmers, etc. will help. Unfortunately, even though water conditions appear to be excellent, these masses of algae can actually form mats on the substrate that begin to "manufacture" their own nutrients....an annoying proposition, to say the least!> Any help as to what to do next would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance, Kris, PA <Well, Kris- I think that the best way to go is to continue what you're doing- I wish I could point to one thing that would do the trick- but it really is a combination of the things that you already mentioned, along with the secret ingredients: A dose of patience and perseverance...Keep up the water changes, increased circulation, use of protein skimming and chemical filtration media...These techniques do work...It takes forever, or so it seems, at times- but they do work! Hang in there! Regards, Scott F.>
Slimed! (Pt. 2)
Thanks Scott... <Sure! Glad to help!> One last question, <Of course! Ask away...> Would cutting back the light cycle help any?  Since this stuff seems to grow more during the day, I thought I would turn both the actinics and main lights off an hour earlier each night.  Would this help at all? Thanks again, Kris <Well, nuisance algae require nutrients and light in order to thrive, so while you're reducing the available nutrients with the other techniques we've discussed, it certainly couldn't hurt to reduce the light, as well. I'd make sure that you don't reduce the light to the point where the well-being of your other animals is a concern, but I think that you'll be okay reducing it by a hour or so...It may or may not have a measurable impact on the algae, but it's sure worth a shot at this point! Good luck, and keep me posted! Regards, Scott F>

Algae Control in 29 Gallon Saltwater Dear WWM Crew,        I have a 29 Gallon Saltwater Setup with an Emperor 280 Filter, SeaClone Protein Skimmer, and a powerhead. After putting on my new light: AquaLight Compact Fluorescent with 2 Fans, I had an outbreak of algae on my glass and 21 lbs of LR. I was thinking of getting an Algae Blenny, but my Banded Goby ate a smaller goby and I think he would eat the blenny. I have 5 Scarlet and Blue Legged Hermit Crabs, 2 Pincushion Sea Urchins, 3 Bumblebee Snails, and an Arrow Crab. I need something to help clean the algae off the glass. Would you recommend Turbo Snails to help clean the glass? Thank you, Great Site Bob <  The algae blenny should be fine if you get one about the same size of your goby.  A better skimmer such as the remora made by aqua-c would help also.  The snails would help clean the glass.  Cody>

Recurring green algae Hi !!! <Hello!  Scott V. here this morning> We have a fifty-five gallon salt water tank  with several (10) corals and four fish. Maturity is three years. Recently we have been developing a powdery green film on the glass, which is easily wiped but reoccurs within one day. We always have used distilled water, which we distill in our home distiller. Any thoughts on what might create this green film/residue on our glass. <It could be many things, but I would start by checking/investigating a few easy things first.  How often do you check the water parameters?  Be sure to test it for both Nitrates and Phosphate.  Both make excellent fertilizers :) It could also be the result of a change in lighting, either more or less.  The tank has been running for three years.  When were the bulbs last replaced?  Is the tank exposed to more sunlight where it sits now that it's "supposedly" spring and maybe getting more light than it did throughout the winter?  I would start by checking all those, and I would suspect that either the Nitrates or phosphate will be high and need to be corrected. How often do you do water changes, and how much?> Thanks !!!!!!!!!!!!!  <Not a problem at all!  And good luck with your investigation.  Scott V.> Cecilil

Algae information I currently own a 40 gallon tank with sump that has been set up since November.  I am new to the salt water hobby so my knowledge is a bit limited although I try to read as much as I can, I think I do pretty well considering I have set up my system without ever actually seeing a marine aquarium set up with the exception of book and Internet.  Anyways my aquariums water quality tends to fluctuate wildly at times without any apparent reason although I am getting it nailed down. The reason I am writing is because of a recent bout I had with blue / green bacteria. <Algae, caused by excess nutrient (poor skimming, inadequate filtration, inadequate water changes, over feeding, over supplementation, flow rate, etc.) Not really a bacteria but a plant/algae.  Not unusual in a new set-up.> I keep very accurate records on my tank including outlined maps on the reports so that I can plot the progression of macro algae as well as link problems with possible environmental conditions that vary in different spots of the tank (flow rates / lighting etc.).  It took me about two weeks to get the bacteria under control and gone with the exception of two areas of substrate where it still is barely visible in a small patches against the glass.   I know what caused the growth to begin with now I am just trying to nail a few of this organisms behaviors down. <It's essentially a plant. Needs light, food, proper conditions. Upset those and provide proper conditions for corals/fish and it will go away.> Anyway I show from my notes that it prefers low oxygen and low UV areas however will grow in almost any environment and can be controlled with macro algae. <Competition for needed plant nutrients.> The bacteria seem to benefit the same trace elements and food that corals do however there are a few environmental conditions that it prefers that corals hate.  Anyway is there any research on algae and bacteria showing the amount of  O2 and CO2 that algae and this bacteria use?  Basically what it boils down to is that I am able to create an environment that seems to increase the grown of the macro algae but at the same time reduces the grown of micro algae and similar bacteria and basically I want to find out if I am totally off base  with this and it is simply my tank setup or if I am correct in my notes.  Thanks Bill Foster <The corals don't actually prefer this high a nutrient load with a few exceptions. This isn't about water gas content, it is about nutrients needed by algae/plants. The macro algae competes for the same nutrients, so as it grows (under more optimum conditions than the blue/green algae) it out-competes/grows it and takes the nutrients it needs to grow, so the blue/green algae dwindles. You need better nutrient export as outlined above. Sponges, filters etc. all contribute to nitrate build-up and require cleaning at least bi-weekly as well as the listed items above.  Best of luck, Craig>

UV vs. Skimmer Dear Crew: What an awesome group of people and a terrific website!!!!!!!! The only downfall is you can find yourself at the computer screen for hours on end!!   Great reading.  Keep up the good work. Hoping you might answer whether I need any additional equipment. Current setup is a 150 gallon Marine Tank, 1 year old.  Fish Only. 1 Large Clown Trigger, 1 Picasso Trigger, 1 Blue Tang, 1 Sail fin Tang, 5 Yellow Tang, 1 Naso Tang, 1 Mexican Rainbow Wrasse, 12 Damsels, 2 Tomato Clowns.  All are doing very well.  Feeding Seaweed sheets, Brine Shrimp, Formula 2 and periodic Squid etc. The tank has numerous dead coral pieces.  I am cleaning the tank at least every 2-3 weeks due to the coral, powerheads, glass etc. building up with brown algae.  Bleaching and elbow grease always solves the problem.  Question?  Can the brown algae buildup be cut down with additional equipment such as a UV sterilizer or a protein skimmer?  The current equipment setup is:  @ wet/dry's (stand wouldn't accommodate one larger one) Three cabinet setup.  1 Wet/dry on each side.  2 Magnum 350's, 1 with pleated filter, 1 with carbon in the middle.  4 x-large powerheads in tank, 2 spread out on each back side of tank.  Circulation only w/ 1 bag of carbon in each powerhead strain canister.  Lot's and lot's of water movement.   After each cleaning within a day the tank is crystal clear but generally erodes within 3 weeks.  In addition to more frequent water changes (25%??)also how often? is their anyway of lowering the algae growth? PS: I have been using tap water with chlorine etc. remover.  How important is it that I start using Distilled water? Also, is there anyway of brighten up white coral?  Does it brighten more with bleach or sitting in the sun?   What is a good rule of thumb for bleaching and cleaning Dead Coral.  Thanks for any help you can provide!!  Lane   <Hey Lane, a good skimmer would definitely help in this situation, you have a heavily stocked tank and some messy fish, the skimmer will help to remove excess nutrients from the water.  Take a read over our skimmer section for more information.  The tap water could also be contributing to the algae problem, it may have a large amount of phosphates or other nutrients to help the algae grow.  Distilled water will cost you a bundle if you are doing 25% weekly water changes, you might consider looking into an RO, DI, or RO/DI unit.  I have heard good things about the Kati and Ani system from DrsFostersSmith.com. I have not had to do much coral bleaching, I'd say a good dose of bleach and water solution should take care of it, 1cup (straight bleach, no perfumes or dyes) per 5gal of water.  Maybe more bleach, be sure to give them a good rinse when done and let them dry in the sun to dissipate the bleach.  Best Regards, Gage>

One Algae Outbreak After Another... Help! <That's what I'm here for!> Scott....after our last chat I thought I had successfully removed all the algae from the tank (incase you don't remember, I was having an awful problem with green hair algae).  Here is a break down of my current tank setup: 2 damsels 20lbs LR live sand Twin BioWheel 330 filter Prizm hang-on skimmer with surface skimmer and phosphate remover chemical filtration. 2 power heads for circulation and aeration PC lighting Now, only 2 days after a major scrubbing and 50% water change with purified water (from the tap water filter I bought), my tank is turning copper red!  All over the sand and the LR is this new copper red color, that I assume is algae.  What is it? <Cyanobacteria...essentially, a nuisance algae...> Is it good or bad?  If its bad, what do I do to get rid of it? <Not bad, per se...just indicative of an accumulation of nutrients....> Help me out! Kenneth <Well, Kenneth, a couple of things that may make you feel better...First, if I remember correctly, your tank is somewhat new, right? Well, most newer tanks do go through a sort of "algal progression", when different algae bloom and go away...Also, what works for hair algae also works for Cyanobacteria, etc...It's ALL about nutrient export...As we discussed previously, utilize regular water changes with quality source water, aggressive protein skimming, and use of chemical filtration....Remember, you'll see these nuisance algae go away if you correct the source of the nutrient accumulation....Keep in mind that yanking out the algae gets rid of the algae that's in the tank, but won't get rid of the cause...Just follow the steps we've discussed previously, and you'll get through this, I promise! Hang in there! Let me know if you need some more help (or moral support, for that matter!). Chin up! Regards, Scott F>
One Algae Outbreak After Another (Pt. 2)
OK:  I am much calmer after reading your last reply.  I want to give you one last update to make sure I am on the right track, and then ask a few stupid questions. <Ask away...But there are no stupid questions, okay? A question is simply a sign that you have part of the information that you need! Hopefully, I can fill you in on the rest (or lead to more questions!)> First, The update:  against my wishes, my roommate went behind my back and used a fish net to sift through the top layer of live sand to get  rid of (or at least hide) all that copper red color.  That was about 10p last night.  Now around 2p this afternoon, the red stuff (Cyanobacteria, is it?) was back stronger than ever.  Is it supposed to grow that fast? <Yep- it can grow at a frightening rate, particularly when you fuel its growth by burying it (which creates decomposition, which makes it grow back faster). Also, as we discussed, doing this doesn't eliminate the problem- just serves as a "band aid" for a while> My skimmer is also skimming very little.  If I turn it up full blast, it just skims clear water out.  Now, since I only have the 2 damsels and 1 large hermit crab, how much coffee-like water should it be skimming in the average week? <Well, you need to adjust air and/or water to get a good mix, and a nice dry foam/dark skimmate. Ideally, you should try to obtain at least a couple of cups of dark skimmate per week> Oh, and a little background just incase it helps:  This tank, to me at least, isn't all that new.  I have had it going for close to 12 months now.  The tank was originally my roommate's and he has passed it on to me because I have taken such an interest to it.  He has had (not all at the same time) livestock such as a tang, eel, puffer, trigger, snails, hawk, shrimp, and I think that's it.  The hair algae first showed up about 6 months ago when we got the PC lighting (no surprise there).  Up until this point, we kept the glass and filters clean and let the algae take over the rock thinking it was an OK plant decoration.  Now that its my tank and I want to prepare it for coral, I am trying to do everything right to make sure the algae is under control and the tank is reef-safe. <A noble goal! As I've said ad nauseum- it's all about nutrient export...That's practically the whole "ball game", when you're dealing with nuisance algae> Here are my stupid questions: 1) What is a sump?  What is it used for?  Do I need one on a 29 gallon? What kind do your recommend? <A sump is essentially a glass, acrylic, or plastic reservoir, generally situated below the display tank, where water from the display tank is "delivered" ( typically by overflow) for processing. Usually, sumps contain a protein skimmer, heater(s), chemical media, such as carbon or Poly Filter, macroalgae, etc., etc..."Processed" water is then returned to the display tank by external or submersible pumps. A sump can work successfully with any sized tank...You can make one or buy one, depending upon the features or sophistication that you desire. Do a Google search using the word "sumps" for tons more information on them in the WWM site> 2)What is a refugium?  What is it used for?  Do I need one on a 29 gallon? <A refugium is basically a dedicated sump or tank which is designed to provide a "safe haven" for various macroalgae, inverts, plankton, etc. to propagate, free from predation in the display tank. The benefit of a refugium is greater biodiversity, nutrient processing capability, and the creation of a potential supplemental food source for the display. Once again, use the Google search feature on the WWM site for a ton of information> 3)The Reef-Ready tanks they sell in stores all have those over-flow compartments.  What are they used for?  Should I have something like that?  If so, how do I go about making one? <Overflow boxes are designed to pull water from the surface of the display tank into the sump. Frankly, you're better off either purchasing the tank with one installed from the factory, or having your overflow installed by an experienced local fish store...> Thanks sooooooo much for your continued help, support, and patience with my ignorance.-Kenneth My pleasure, Kenneth. The fact that you have so many questions shows that you're learning more every day...Do use the many resources offered on the WWM site for more information. I also recommend that you purchase a copy of Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation" for a lot of good information and ideas on refugiums, sumps, tank configurations, and reef system husbandry. You'll find it an invaluable source of information. Have fun "retrofitting" this tank! good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Tank troubles Hi guys, I am still having trouble getting my tank stabilized.  I have a 55g tank, 65lbs LR, 50lbs+ fine sand, Remora skimmer, overhang pad-type mechanical filter, and two maxi-jet 1200s for circulation... my tank is 3 months old.  I have about 18 various snails and 6 scarlet red reef hermits, a couple damsels, a tomato clown and a neon goby. no corals yet.  I have been plagued by brown algae and it has pretty much killed all the cool stuff that was growing on my live rock. :-(  In attempts to rid my tank of this and taking advice of the FAQs here, I have purchased a RO/DI system, done multiple water changes, cleaned filters daily, emptied skimmate daily, cleaned skimmer cup/shaft every 3 days, and reduced feeding dramatically.  My observations is that the brown algae is still there, even after a few weeks.  I also noticed today that my neon goby is awfully skinny and seems to be dying from starvation.  I just got done feeding him with a extended eye-dropper. he has responded somewhat, hopefully I can recover him.  I need help!... I feel I was overfeeding and that was my brown algae problem, now I have dying fish and am afraid to feed them too much, to top it off I can't get rid of the brown algae and my tank looks awful, not to mention my snails hardly move around anymore, fall off the rocks and definitely do not eat the brown algae anymore.  My water parameters are ammonia 0, nitrates undetectable, salinity 1.024, temp 77, calcium 400, alk 10.2, PH 8.0. This is turning out badly, any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Brian <  Try scrubbing the algae off with a toothbrush during your water changes and keep up with what you are doing and you will eventually beat the algae.  Keep feeding the neon goby with the eye dropper and he should recover as these are very hardy fish. Cody>

Algae War Aftermath! Bob: <Scott F. today!> Well, I have finally won the war against BGA (this time around anyway) though my tank wasn't exactly "covered" I did have quiet a bit on the top layer of my DSB.  Following recommendations of "natural" cures, i.e. better circulation, no overfeeding, aggressive skimming, etc. advocated on this site, I awoke one morning to find it all gone! <Sweet! See-it's all about nutrient control when dealing with nuisance algae outbreaks!> So thanks big time.  Now, in the places where it was thickest, my sand is a brown color, no hairs, or slime, just brown sand in patches.  Should I turn the sand over?  I was cautious of this n a 4" DSB as this would either hurt any anaerobic bacteria or at least stir up something I didn't want.  I did recently add 30 Nassarius which do turn it over some as well as one serpent star who I assume turns it over - although I don't go watch him at night.  55g FOWLR 4" DSB NO3 NO2   David <I'd rather you try to siphon the top 1/2" of sand to attempt to remove this stuff. I would not "turn over" the sandbed, for fear of disrupting the sand and possibly unleashing substances that you would not want to have in your water. I'd keep up with the nutrient export processes, and this stuff should gradually fade away. Keep up the good work! Regards, Scott F.>

Yucky Algae Problem Hi Bob <Scott F. here today!> Hope you can help me sort out 2 problems with my fish only marine system. Problem 1 I can't seem to keep algae blooms down. I have bright green, red and short hair algae in tank. My levels are ph 8.3 nitrite 0 ammonia 0 and nitrate is below 5. I think phosphates. I've not measured but assume this is the problem. Would Rowaphos cure this? <I'm not sure if "RowaPhos" is some type of phosphate removing media, but I'll assume that it is. Phosphate control media are helpful in reducing some of the phosphate that's already present in the aquarium water, but it won't be the solution to your problem. The solution to nuisance algae is to employ both source water "pre-conditioning" (i.e.; reverse osmosis and/or deionization), and nutrient export processes within the aquarium. Nutrient export processes include regular small water changes (I favor 5% of tank volume twice weekly), with pre-conditioned water, use of aggressive protein skimming (try to produce at least 2 cups of dark, yucky skimmate a week, and clean that skimmer often), chemical filtration media (such as activated carbon and/or PolyFilter), growth and harvest of "purposeful" macroalgae in a lighted sump (such as Gracilaria, Chaetomorpha, or Halimeda), and other careful husbandry techniques (common sense feeding, etc.). Check out these FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm   and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm  > Problem 2 I've built a trickle tower following a LFS design for the drip plate he gave me a piece of plastic with loads of holes in it. There are that many so it will not flood. Will a piece of acrylic with holes drilled 1" apart work also is any acrylic be ok. <Well, it really depends on the flow that you need through the filter...I'd test before use. BTW- I'd recommend not using plastic filter media, as they tend to accumulate nitrate, which is a contributor to nuisance algae growth> Hope you can help. Craig Brown <I hope that this is useful to you! I'm sure that you can beat this problem with diligence, patience, and consistent good habits>
The Algae Saga Part 1,252.5  3/16/03
Great site guys.<Phil here, reporting for duty, sir!  BTW, thanks, we try really hard to make this a great place for all.> A lot of helpful info. I did read up on this problem and see a lot of others have this problem too.<Let's see what we can do to fix the problem.  Failure is NOT an option!> My tank is 225 running for about 2 months. Everything was good until I went on vacation for 10 days. When I came home late last night 1/2 my rocks are covered with this slimy smelling green to brown looking hair algae.<Hair algae...> My friend was taking care of the tank and I left him few doses of REEF VITAL DNA along with some frozen food and dry food. He was feeding them every other day. My light where on timers VHO running about 12 HR. MH running 10hrs. 225 lbs live rock 30 sump with dual overflow -Ampmaster 3000 pump. I am also running a 40 watt UV light & Aerofoamer 624 skimmer. The skimmer is making some  very dark green to black stuff plus smells like ocean algae near the jetties at low tide.<Have not heard of this brand... but if your getting skimmate that's good.> I have few tangs ,few clowns ,few  glomas,125  different kind of snails, bristle and sand star fish, few leather ,few clear shrimp,50 small hermits few  polyps, mushrooms.<can you give me the exact number?  One man's few is another's dozen.> My tank  7ft x 2ft x 2ft  with DSB using  Southdown sand 78 to 81 temps. 160 watt Actinic VHO 3 250 10k MH in hood with fans. My water info is 1026 salinity PH 8.0 to 8.1 in afternoon<Try and raise this to 8.2-8.4> Nitrate .5 Nitrite 0 Ammo 0 Cal 475 Alk  14.4 dKH Mag 1375 I don have test kits for phosphate .Do I need one NOW.<YES!  RIGHT NOW... j/k! :)  You do need one, try and get one in the next few days.> OK today I went to my LFS and I was told to us Seachem Phosguard in a 404 Fluval I have laying around plus added poly filter pad to my wet dry. I also was told to stop running MH and just run VHO few hrs each day and do water change.<Yes, to everything but running the MH.  Keep running them.> So when I came home I cleaned out the pad in the wet dry( yes it was very dirty) .I then took small tooth brush and cleaned rocks where the hair algae was hurting my few mushroom polyps and leather. As I brushed the rocks I was sucking the stuff up with the 404 Fluval. After I cleaned off these rocks, I then cleaned the 404 out them filled trays up with the Seachem and coral Life Silicate remover. At present time tanks is a little cloudy but not to bad. The   lights are off for few hrs will put VHO on for 3 hrs later tonight .Unless you tell me different.<Run the lights in the normal cycles.> Do you have any suggestions. Did I do anything wrong? Should I finish cleaning the rest of the rocks or just let the 404 do its job? I was in shock when I cam home and saw my tank like this. What I surprise.<Finish cleaning the rocks.  Hair algae info can be found here www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm > Thanks for your time<No problem!  Hope this helps!> Capt Gene<Ummm civilian Phil>

Re: dark-reddish, stringy gunk I tried looking this up before I wrote, but now think I'm not sure what's wrong.  I have a dark-reddish, stringy substance covering my rock and plants.  It's "flowing" out into the current.   >>This does sound as though it could indeed by Cyano. I have worked at a marine LFS in the past and other employees referred to this as Cyanobacteria, but after searching your website, it doesn't fit that description.   >>Have you looked in the related articles?  Try here--> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cyanocontrolfaqs.htm  looking specifically for descriptions.  Just because it's normally called Cyano (meaning blue) or blue-green algae doesn't mean it has to be those colors.  It can be black, red, green, brown to brownish red, etc. I'm sure you've seen it and probably know exactly what I'm describing because it seems to be somewhat common.  Two questions: 1) what is it?, and 2) how do I get rid of it? Thanks, Mike >>The main issue, whether dealing specifically with a species of Cyano or microalgae bloom is excess nutrients and their exportation out of the system.  If you haven't got a foam fractionator, I will very strongly suggest you get one, they are fabulous for removing dissolved organic compounds that many of these noxious blooms feed upon.  I will suggest you begin a water change regimen using RO/DI water or clean, filtered ocean water, making a few large (50%) changes.   It would be helpful to know what your parameters are, including phosphates.  If you're doing regular, frequent water changes, then your source water may be the culprit--it needs to be tested using a quality kit as well.  Unfortunately, without further information regarding your system and parameters, I can't really help much further.  Hopefully I've given you a direction to go in. Marina

Kalkwasser doing pH problem part 2 Hey Don or the duty person, Sorry about the confusion and lack of info on the Kalkwasser.  I am dosing for my reef as a calcium/alk supplement.  (Not adding just to add, I like my money and wouldn't want to just be flushing it down my aquarium, so to say.) <Oh yes, I understand this <G>> Was using liquid calcium but I also have some bad algae starting and this is supposed to help. Correct?  My pH last night was down to 8.4 and this morning when light had been out all night was down to 8.2.  I set up a dip last night and am dipping the 2 quarts or so in at about a few drops per second.  All your help so far has really helped my aquarium.  If I could just get this algae thing licked, it will all be good.  Recently removed bioballs and prefilter and made a refugium to help the get rid of algae nutrients. <Nutrient control is the key to algae control. The refugium will help, removing the bioballs will help, dilution with water changes will help, good skimming will help. All will take time (Several weeks). Patience. Don> Thanks again.

It's All About Nutrients (Nuisance Algae Control> I wish I'd found your site a long time ago... I have a 55G tank w/ a CPR CY192 (cyclone) combo wet-dry and integrated protein skimmer. Overall, it seems to be working well but I have this constant problem with brown (diatom?) algae covering the sand bed and tank sides. It covers the sand/tank sides in 1-2 days. I have a 2" bed of live/crushed coral along w/~60lbs of live rock. Part of what is complicating this whole problem is that most of what's in that tank now was transferred from a previous tank w/ no protein skimmer (previously set up w/ undergravel and canister filter and a little live rock) and a lot of lace rock which was covered in similarly colored (brown) but hair-like algae. <Ok- a couple of observations here. First, the crushed coral substrates tend to trap detritus and nutrients if not maintained properly (i.e.; cleaned on a regular basis to keep detritus from accumulating. Also, I think that a deeper (3 to 5 inch or more), finer (like the "sugar sized" aragonite substrates) works better at denitrification, and will not trap detritus like the coarse stuff...Consider switching. And, the lace rock tends may be a source of phosphates and silicates, both of which tend to fuel nuisance algae growths in closed systems> I put all the lace rock and live rock into the new tank, thinking that the CPR would help get everything under control. With the higher lighting output of my new tank (220 watts VHO, 50% full spectrum, 50% actinic), the problem got worse. <Yep- abundant nutrients, intense light, and limited nutrient export= nuisance algae!> I pulled out all the lace rock, replaced it w/ live rock and have done a few 20% water changes. In general things have improved quite a bit but I can't seem to get rid of the constant thin film of brown slime. It doesn't seem to be growing on the live rock though, and much of the live rock has beautiful purple/blood red coralline algae growing on it. <Yep- coralline encrusted rock is "defended" from these types of algae...The brown diatom algae tend to accumulate on substrates and on the glass if the aquarium.> I've also begun to slowly remove the bio-media from the wet-dry part of the filter. <Another good means to reduce nutrient levels and increase water quality! Nitrate tends to accumulate in systems that rely on these plastic filtration media, so this was a good call...let nature ( i.e.; the rock and sand) do the work for you.> All of my livestock (3 tangs, lemon peel angel, 4 damsels that survived the cycling period, 2 gobies, 2 shrimp, 1 clown and a couple of clumps of mushroom anemone/corals are all happy as clams, pun intended!) <Glad that the fishes are doing well...But too many fishes that require a lot of room (i.e.; the tangs) in this aquarium! Tangs are going to need a much larger tank to live out anything close to a normal life span in captivity...Hopefully, a big-time upgrade (like 150 gallons or more) is in the future?> Sorry for the long intro... My questions are: How well does this CPR protein skimmer work? The skimmer is designed to be very passive in that water from the tank can bypass the skimmer, although very little I'm sure. <Ideally, the skimmer should receive "raw" water, directly from the surface overflow of the tank, where the majority of organics tend to accumulate...> I had a couple of anemones but they shrank and perished, even though the water quality seemed high. <Yikes! Anemones require very, very high water quality and intense light to survive for extended periods of time in captivity. Also, you really should only keep one anemone (if at all) in a system of this size...> Is it possible that the skimmer is not doing a good enough job, allowing both the growth of this #$(%^()^$ algae and death of the anemones? <Well, it certainly is a possibility. The skimmer is a decent one, IMO, but it needs to be adjusted and tweaked to consistently yank out a couple of cups of dark, yucky skimmate per week. Nuisance algae control is largely about nutrient export. You need to re-examine basic husbandry techniques here, such as water changes. Two small (5% of tank capacity) water changes per week will go a long way towards diluting organics and improving water quality in the system. Use high quality (RO/DI) source water to mix your saltwater. Also, use of chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon and/or PolyFilter, will help remove many organics before they can begin to accumulate. Replace all chemical media regularly. Also, if you are using filter pads or other "mechanical" filter media, be sure that you clean and/or replace them at least a few times a week, as they are amazing "nutrient traps" that can degrade water quality rapidly. Also, review your tank's stocking levels. As mentioned previously, three tangs in this sized tank (or in most hobbyist-sized tanks) is just too much. In addition to their requirements for super-high water quality and oxygenation, these fishes tend to produce copious amounts of metabolic wastes, due to their ravenous appetites. This waste as to go somewhere, and can overwhelm even a seemingly "adequate" filtration system in a short time. Keep refining your techniques, revisiting the "basics", and you'll be seeing a steady improvement in your algae problem, not to mention your water quality!> Thanks for all your collective wisdom...Silicon Valley Steve <And thanks for your enthusiasm and support for our site. You're on your way to success here! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

What is the best way to get rid of red slime - red Cyano from my reef tank? <Nutrient control is the key here. Take a look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cyanocontrolfaqs.htm and the other related FAQ's for a ton of info. Ronni>

Algae Problems Again Hello Crew, I'm hoping to bend your ear for a minute or two.  I have been battling some diatom, hair, and other green bubble algae since my tank has finished cycling about 2 months ago.  I recently started using RO water, hasn't made the problem worse, it just hasn't seemed to help either.  About two days after the water changes the green stuff comes back in force.  I vacuum the substrate every water change, only half at a time, to keep the copepods going.  I try to scoop some of the substrate with a net, this just makes a mess.  I just bought a phosphate test, it read 0.2.  What is an acceptable level of phosphates.  I'm assuming that zero is what I'm shooting for right? <right> Could silicates be the cause these problems as well.  Wouldn't the RO take these out? <I doubt the silicates are the problem here as they mainly encourage brown diatoms and the RO should take them out. >  I don't have a silicate test, if they make one, I'm sure they do.  Another test for me to buy!!!  My wife will be so happy.  Will Poly filter take silicates out?  <Keep changing your water with the RO.  I would recommend doing a 20% water change every week.  Just be patient as it may take a couple months for the algae to disappear.  I don't think the poly filter takes out silicates, but it does take out phosphates.>  Also, one more question.  I've had my fish in QT for the past 4 weeks due to an awful Ich outbreak.  I have left my Coral Banded Shrimp, Hermits, and snails in the main tank.  I only feed the shrimp about every other day, and the Scarlets and the Blue legs seem to really like the algae.  I tested for Ammonia yesterday and it read 1.0 ppm on a Salifert test kit.  My Nitrites were about 0.02.  Also with a Salifert test kit.  Like I said my tank cycled about two months ago and since have had 0 for ammonia and nitrite.  What could have happened?  I checked, and everyone is alive.  Could the skeleton from the Coral Banded's molting cause this?   < The shrimp molting wouldn't cause ammonia or nitrite.  Feed very sparingly and keep up with the water changes and they will go down.  Also consider buying a protein skimmer, it would help with the algae problems. Good luck with the algae, Cody> Sorry for all the questions.  Hope you guys can help once again.  Thank you.  -Vince

Re: super algae! Hi Guys, Thanks for all your help, I am an avid reader and have learned much.  My question is on the minor side, but a bit perplexing/annoying as well. <I'm an avid reader too :)  By the way, you've got Scott, the newbie here.  Don't worry, I'll have someone else double check this one because it's my first e-mail.  Are you nervous yet?>   Quick specs, 55 gallon, CPR bakpak2 skimmer, approximately 1200 gallons per hour water flow, Rios etc, Fluval 404 carbon and blue wool only (changed weekly) 3-4 inches live sand depending on area, 80 lbs-90 lbs of live rock, 4x65 watt pc, 2 blue 2 10k. livestock: 1 large xenia 1 leather coral 1 star polyp rock 1 sun polyp rock bout 7-8 watermelon mush 1 3/4 inch lawnmower blenny 1 small yellow tang and one small mandarin goby 4 Turbos snails 1 large coral banded (soon to be removed) water: 0 nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, 11 kH, 8.2-3 ph, 420 calcium, 1.024 salinity. <What about phosphate? >   As you can see my load is pretty light for my system. Everything is going well, everyone is happy/growing I am planning on a hammer coral and some other polyps and maybe a clown and a flame angel and that is it.  My husbandry is pretty good, I change 10 gallons every two weeks and Fluval + 2 gallons every week.   Now the problem.  I have researched your site and I have never seen this but I get a really bright green haze on my glass every day by the end of the day, (it actually starts growing as soon as I wipe it off.) < In the past I often got that problem with seasonal changes.  Is the tank exposed to any direct sunlight now, where maybe it wouldn't have been a few months ago?> It isn't hard or dark, just a  green/lime film.  My algae for the most part is fine all over the rock,  just green patches where there isn't coralline.  I cannot figure it out.  I had a similar situation when I added lighting a few months ago. <Added?  Are some of the existing bulbs from previous to the addition?  How old are they if there are?  Also, while I'd imagine it would have happened within a couple of weeks, the change in light could be the problem. (No, don't go back to less light :)  How long do you leave the lights on? > >Algae bloom.  What I have done recently is gone from 1/2 inch of live sand in front only (none in back). To your suggestion to lower nitrates (were 10-20 ppm), to my present level of 3 -4 inches.  Nitrates are now zero but I am getting this algae.   <Well, we know it's not Nitrates acting as the fertilizer anyway > I did it about a month ago and is just blooming temporarily?  One more thing, I left for 4 days and my Rio 1400's went out (big surprise there) and that is when it all seemed to start.  Do you think if I keep up water changes this little cycle will just work itself out?   <I think that's just a coincidence in timing.  If that had caused the tank to cycle again you would have seen the spike in Nitrates> Any suggestions would be great. <Keep up with the water changes and give it some time.  If your nitrates are that low, then check the tank for phosphates. It's an excellent fertilizer and also quite common at high levels in tap water in many areas.  Depending on how long your tank has been running, it may just now be reaching high levels in the tank or the amount in your water source could have recently changed (check your source water as well). Also, while they wouldn't do enough to solve the whole problem, I think I would add more snails.  Four isn't very many for a 55 gallon tank.  I would go with at least 8, and maybe as many as 15. You may also have to experiment some with your lighting period.> I cannot complain cause all is well, but I would like to stop this nuisance, or cut it down to every other day so I do not disturb the animals, Frank. <Nope, they don't seem to appreciate all the house cleaning we do for them do they? And I'll still make sure someone double checks this one :)  Scott V.> Re: mold Hi guys, I have some black mold growing in my python no spill clean and fill. Is this dangerous to my salt tanks and my family...How do I rid it...? Please reply. <Not dangerous. Likely a or mix of algae/Cyanobacteria. You can soak the whole of this Python product in a bucket of lightly concentrated (a cup to a gallon or so) bleach water for an hour or so... and then rinse and let air dry... to remove the material if the looks concern you. Bob Fenner>

Algae problems Hey, I'm having a lot of trouble with algae growth. I had beautiful live rock then all of a sudden red algae growth went rampart (might be cause I changed my lights) and covered my live rock. I have a 47 gal with 30 lb. of live rock and a penguin 330 filter with bio wheels and a hot magnum canister. I don't have any snails. How can I get rid of the algae? The tank has also sprouted a small growth of bubble algae. Please help. Thanks, Nick  Ps algae appeared after a green algae bloom. <Algae is from nutrients Nick. Starting with larger and more frequent water changes, and depending on your substrate, vacuuming crud from it (if it's course like crushed coral, you don't mention live sand) then on to the BioWheels and HOT magnum which will produce nitrates that fuel algae growth. Bio-wheels produce nitrates from nitrite, as do the sponges and media in the HOT magnum. These are fine for FW tanks, but they can be a problem in marine systems if maintenance isn't weekly to bi-weekly, no longer. Valonia, (bubble algae) is a sign nitrates and wastes are out of control. It's not the light. A clean-up crew can help, but they need clean water as well. What is your source water?  Should be RO or RO/DI to start with pristine water. Craig>

Hey No Clowning Around!  3/2/03 I have a couple questions for you.<Shoot> My first one is about removing detritus in my aquarium. Every time I do a water change I find  myself sucking up all the "stuff" off the bottom. Also in a few spots on the sand some brown algae starts to grow by the end of the day. I am always mixing up the sand where brown to stop it from happening but the next day it is back. I have just started using carbon for about a week now but do not see any changes with that.<How much water are you changing during a water change?> I have been reading your "Sand Sifters" section and still have questions on what to get to get rid of those two problems. Would a Sand Sifting Star work to get rid of detritus and the brown algae growth?<Yes!> Or what would be the best for this?<Do you have a skimmer?  Skimmers remove large amounts of wastes that add to algae reproduction.> The tank is a 30 gallon. I have about 1 1/2 inches of sugar sized sand. Right now I have 3 species of Damsels. Second question: In the future I am thinking about getting a Dwarf Lionfish. Would you recommend getting one?<You can add one but kiss your damsels goodbye.  Lions are also called "Damsel-Hoovers".> Also what is the largest that they grow to?<6.7 inches> If not a Lionfish, a mated pair of True Perculas. In the tank now I have a Condylactis Anemone.<What kinda lighting do you have? Anemones need strong lights. Plus most Clowns won't host in a "Condy" anemone, there from the Atlantic.  Clowns are from the Pacific.> Would you recommend removing it before I get the Clowns or would it matter?<Most clowns won't even touch this anemone.> What would be the best anemone for True Percula Clowns to host in.<Well, I need more info on your lights, before I would suggest an anemone. BTW, clowns do fine w/o an anemone to live in.> I do not plan on purchasing one just wondering for maybe future thoughts.<Well in that case, Sebae Anemones will host True Perc's.  But Sebae's are very hard to keep, most don't survive in an aquarium.> I have looked at your chart and there are several. Is there one that True Perculas will use as a host more often than others?<Sebae> Sorry for all the questions!<No problem!  Hope this helps!  Phil>             

I'll have a Lime Algae on the Rocks w/ Salt - 2/24/03 Hi Crew, <Hey Phil helping ya tonight...> We just discovered a bunch of flea like critters in our 90 gal reef tank. We have been set up with about 90 lbs live rock, 25 lbs live sand on top of crushed coral, for about 6 weeks.<FYI, mixing two types of substrate is not very good.  It's more work in the 8-12 month picture.> Everything is covered now in a bright (lime) green algae, would that be coralline algae?<No, that probably a green algae.  Do you have a protein skimmer?>   We have a Condy, 4 Bluetail damsels, 1 blue damsel, & 3 feather dusters, plus approx. 60 snails & crabs in combo. Last night I noticed what looked like an egg ribbon hanging off one of the feather dusters.  what could the little "fleas" be? <Copepods..  good to have some fish feed on them!>  Also, I was wondering about adding a purple Nudibranch, but have read that they are very difficult.  Do they attack corals, are they predatory themselves, would you recommend them for beginners? <Not for beginners and some experts.  Some are very hard to keep alive.> Also, how long should they live, I read an article on Nudibranchs indicating some of them will only live a few weeks in captivity. <It really depends...>  In addition, we can't seem to get to a zero ammonia reading. Livestock is all doing great, however.  Our water shows .1-.3 ammonia level, nitrite 0, nitrate 10-20, ph is 8.2, temp 78.any advice? We use dechlorinated tap water (we do have a water softener), and are aging 30 gal in a separate container between weekly water changes., we add ACT to that water and are getting a reading of about .10 ammonia in that tub, too. Do we need to be looking into an RO? <An RO might help...  try letting your water sit in the tub w/ a powerhead for 24-48 hours before adding it to the main tank.  Also try and pick up a skimmer, as this will help w/ the algae!  Best wishes!!  Phil> Thanks,<No problem> Joya

Algae Question Hey Crew, I have a question today about algae.  I have a 20 gallon FOWLR tank in which the sand is covered with brown algae.  I do not think its Cyanobacteria because its not red in color and does not have any bubbles within the strands.  I have had Cyano before and I had successfully got rid of it by the methods I heard from you and others, increased circulation, good skimmer, dripping Kalk, using RO water and all that good stuff.  This is why I'm stumped.  The entire sand is brown, and there is hair like strands on it, a eighth inch at the longest.  Could it be diatom algae?<Possible, more likely a type of Cyano.  I've had a dark red/brown Cyano once before.  What is your bioload?  Try removing the top half inch of sand.> As for maintenance I do weekly 2 gallon water changes with RO water, mixing a day in advance.  Clean the AquaC skimmer cup two to three times a week and I still cant even make a dent in it.  As for tests, 0 phosphates, 0 amm, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate, pH 8.2, Ca 425-450ppm.  Lighting 12 hours a day (65watt PC).  Feeding once a day. I'm completely baffled to why it is so thick and persistent, nothing I do is helping, any ideas? Ideas I have are that the light was about 5 months old so I recently replaced it over the weekend hoping that was the cause.  And I rarely drip Kalk anymore cause my Ca usage is low, can anyone there think of anything else I'm missing?<You might just need something to clean the sand.> Another question I have is, my clean up crew is 10 scarlet hermits, 15 Nassarius snails, 3 margaritas, and 3 Cerith.....is this enough of should I get anymore to help with this type of algae?<Try getting a sea star.  Maybe ask your LFS for some seeded sand.  It will have all kinda of goodies that help clean the sand.  Hope this helps!  Phil> Thanks, Mike

Algae during cycle Hello guys, <Hi, Don here tonight> I have a 55 gallon brand new tank that is 3 weeks into it's cycle. I have 36 lbs of  premium Fiji live rock. The cycling process is nearly complete as ammonia is 0 and nitrite is nearly 0 and nitrate is low. <All good> A lot of things are happening very quickly and I am hoping you can help me out as I'm a new aquarist and a bit anxious with some algae blooms and a new problem that just happened today. First, the algae confusion. I have Premium Fiji live rock and it went through some die off in my tank as it was pink and purple in the store then turned white in my tank and now is slowly coming back to life. I'm not sure whether my tank is getting healthy or not. First, the live rock was quickly covered with brown diatoms which seem to be stopping now. This brown diatom bloom then was replaced by a bright fluorescent green algae bloom that quickly covered the glass front and back, covered some of my aragonite substrate and now I have noticed a couple of patches of Kelly green slime Cyanobacteria forming. How can live rock be covered by both "good" and "bad" algae ??? <Nature> I am working hard to discover the source of nutrients for the bad algae. I use DI water, I did a 20 % water change, I am going to test my water for phosphates and silicates and I am working to fine tune my skimmer to get the dark gunk daily. With everything all happening so fast my head is spinning ! Help ! <Can't see what you need help with! Pretty natural progressions you are describing. You say "I did a 20% water change". Is that the only one? More water changes will help. Right now as the tank cycles, 10-20% per day. The algae are normal (both good and bad) Some scraping is necessary on any tank. Get a good scraper, and a cleaning magnet will help. Keep after it and remember Anthony's recommendation "Dilution is the solution to pollution". Make sure all you water is aged and aerated.> Also, just today I noticed a big swarm of very tiny white bugs crawling on my tank glass. Your site has referred to these critters as Copepods and Detritivores. You say that copepods are "good" and Detritivores are "bad". I'm confused !!! I've had the live rock and the tank going for 3 weeks and these bugs just showed up today. Will they multiply out of control ?? What does their appearance mean ?? <No they won't multiply out of control. Their appearance means things are progressing normally.> Are you able to clear up some of my rookie confusion  and anxiety ??? <Hope this helps, Don> Thanks !!!

- Skimmer question (plus a few others while I have your attention) - Hi. <Hello, JasonC here...> My protein skimmer (an Aqua-C remora w/ a riot 800 and a surface skimmer) is not collecting large amounts of gunk -- I'm very lucky to see much of a volume even after a week. <And that worries you why?> The skimmer is on a 29 gallon tank that is lightly stocked and lightly fed (I have a false percula, a lettuce Nudibranch, a small bubble tip anemone, 2 hermit crabs, 3 red collared snails, 3 peppermint shrimp and a number of feather dusters).  I feed small amounts of frozen krill and mysids probably once a week, but have a good amount of copepods/amphipods/algae that seem to satisfy the clown and the other inhabitants. <My friend, this tank is neither large enough, or stocked enough to be pulling out "large" amounts of gunk - I wouldn't worry about it much, skimming out anything is better than nothing, and you've chosen a good skimmer to do it with - no worries.> In addition to the feeding, I have 110 watts of PC over the tank.  The tank has been up for about 2 months now (an upgrade from an older, existing tank) w/ 40 lbs of live rock, 2 and 1/2 inches of live sand and 12 hours of light a day.   I keep getting a lot of algae growth.  I know this is normal in new setups, but it waxes and wanes.  The algae growth indicates to me that there is a buildup of nutrients in the water.  I have tested the water and don't read any nitrates, ammonia or nitrite (I understand that the algae may be using the nitrate as it develops), but think that something must be out of whack. <Did you test for phosphates? Did you consider that nitrate [a nitrogen-laden compound is also a "nutrient" that would be used by algae, perhaps the reason why your tests read zero.> pH remains pretty constant at 8.3 and salinity at 1.023-1.025  Would increasing the size of the pump on the skimmer increase foam production and waste collection? <Only marginally - again, you don't have a very large system or bioload here.> Also, would increasing the depth of the sand bed to 4-6 inches help to cut back on what might be feeding the algae? <Nope.> Finally, one of my collared snails, the largest, has been acting very strangely.  He began extending off of the live rock and today I found that he had fallen off of a rock and quit moving.  I took him off the substrate and placed him on a rock and he hasn't moved since.  I did lift him up to see if he was still alive and he responded with some movement.  What would cause this sudden behavior change and do you think it would be best to remove this snail from the system before he dies and releases toxins into the water as he decomposes? <Charles Darwin in action - natural selection. Most of the snails available for fish tanks really aren't great reef inhabitants, mostly because they tend to fall over, fail to right themselves and die. As for polluting the tank, perhaps you might want to do an experiment and see if your skimmer pulls any more gunk if/when the thing does croak. I much prefer Nassarius snails as they actually keep the sand bed clean, which in turn will likely reduce that source of "nutrients" you are looking for. Algae eating snails rarely keep up with demand.> As always, thanks in advance. Chris F. <Cheers, J -- >

Green algae problems-help please! Hello, <Hi Steve, Don here> I am having dire problems with green algae that I cannot figure out despite my best efforts.  I have a 55 gal wet/dry I have converted over to a reef tank with some fish (no bioballs or pads).  It has been established for 4+ months, and I have 5 corals (mostly frogspawn), a yellow tang, two damsels, a coral beauty, and various snails such as Cerith, Astrea, and crabs including many red scarlet reef, and a couple of emerald green crabs, and a cleaner shrimp.  The cleaner shrimp just shed his skin, and I am told they will only do this if the water quality is very good.  I have 50 lbs of live rock, and about a 3" live sand bed. <Nice setup, might consider another inch on the sandbed> I use reverse osmosis water only, and do a 10% water change every other week.  I have 2 power compact lights that are 96 watts each (one blue one white) that are on for 10 hours a day.  The water temperature stays constant at 78 degrees f, and the salt level is 1.025.  I have a remora pro protein skimmer that does a fine job of collecting green skimmate daily.  I sometimes even put in a PolyFilter in to pull out even more contaminants.  When I test my water, all chemicals are within acceptable parameters. <Acceptable? Very subjective to the individual, number would help next time :)> I feed the fish every other day at most and they seem to be ok with that. The yellow tang does not seem to eat the algae that is growing on the rocks.  I was under the impression a yellow tang would thrive on the algae, but this is definitely not the case.  Is this tang picky? <This tang just doesn't like this algae>  This algae is not long and stringy, but grows in bushels and will completely cover my rocks unless I pull it out and scrape it off with a toothbrush.  The algae also tends to break off and lay on the sand bed which makes my tank look like one big green algae container. <Been there, seen this> What am I doing wrong?  The tank is not near a window so the only light it gets is normal room lighting plus the power compacts.  About 1 week after a good sized water change (say 15-20 gal) and scraping off excess algae, the algae buildup will reappear and begin to take over my rocks, pumps, sandbed, again.  What am I missing? <Nutrients are building up (say in about a week, eh?) A couple things to think about. Rather than 25-30% water changes every other week, how about 10% weekly or better yet 5% twice weekly? You may be surprised at the difference. Second, do you "blow" off the rock with a small powerhead? Try this as well to get the 'gunk' in suspension so the filtration can extract it. Let us know how it works>Thanks for your assistance.  Steve. <My pleasure, Don>

Nuisance algae on new live rock - 2/11/03 Hey Paul, Its me again Chris. <Hey Chris, it's me again, Paul. Glad to hear from you.> I have a second question for you. <No problem> I bought two pieces of live rock. Each was about 6 and a half pounds. The one rock when I bought it it was covered in green hair algae. I really like the shape of the rock is mainly why I bought it. <Cool> I want to get rid of the algae. I have read about people soaking live rock in bleach and acid to do this <C'mon. No way. Don't do that. That's crazy talk, in my opinion> but in a couple of the holes in the rock are three little different kinds of crabs and shrimp. <Exactly why one wouldn't do something like the preceding burning them with bleach and acid> I do not want to kill them. <Good for you Chris. It would be unethical> Can I just pull the rock out and scrub it with a toothbrush? <Exactly. Also, if you have hermits or snails and even some fish would eat that off there. No need to go nuclear here> what would you suggest doing to get rid of the green hair algae? <Toothbrush in a Tupperware bowl or bucket with water from the main tank (great excuse to do a water change) and just scrub the heck out of it. What is left will probably be consumed by a great many helpful herbivores and detritus eaters already existing in your tank> I really appreciate you guys answering these questions!!! <My pleasure really, Chris. No problem> Also for a 25 gallon tall do you think 2x55 watt light is too much? <Well that depends on what is going to be kept in there. Might actually be too little. There are some rules for lighting tanks. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm Very high end article but one that can be trusted. The deeper the tank, more light will be needed. I have 2x65 watt on my 20 gallon regular. (read as in, not tall, heheh)> The tank I have is only been running for about a month and I have to scrape the walls daily to get rid of the algae. The algae on the walls is brown and there are also some small spots of the green hair algae on the walls also. should algae be growing this soon in my tank? <Alas yes as it is part of the cycle. It will be gone with regular water changes with good source water, proper fish selection and sizing for your tank, proper corals and invertebrates, and of course, the proper filtration.> Thanks again, <Thank you. Let us know how it all turns out. Keep the questions coming, my friend. Paulo, off to bed> Chris Hepburn

Photoperiod, algae growth Crew, Thank you for your help.  I have another simple question. I have 4x65 watt pc on my 55 gallon.  I keep reading about day/night effect.  Does that mean that you actually run your white bulbs 12 hours then your blue bulbs 12 hours on another timer through the night? Thereby never running them together but still running each 12 hours a day?  Do they need to be on at the same time to be effective?  Is that the same as running them both at the same time, then no lights all night( how I run mine now)?  Will this cut down on algae?  If so I am sold LOL. <Hi Frank, NO, run both on a regular 12 hour cycle. Some folks run the actinic lights for 12 and the white bulbs for 10 to enjoy the phosphorescence of some corals under actinic light, nevertheless, the photoperiod should be 12 hours. The way to rid yourself of algae is not to play with lighting, but to increase nutrient export, water changes, skimming, circulation, chemical and mechanical filtration and maintenance of same. Blue green algaes tend to be fueled by nitrates or phosphates. Get after your water quality and all will improve!  Craig>  

Re: Red Slime Hi Guys, <Hello> Been about a month since last question. I used the search feature for red slime FAQs but it didn't produce any related articles. strange. <Most all our materials refer to such life as Blue Green Algae or Cyanobacteria> Anyway, I have run into my first problem since June startup. (probably because I remarked to LFS personnel that I was surprised to not have had any problems!) I turned my 29 gallon quarantine tank into a mini reef about two months ago. All softies in great health, 40 pounds live rock (nice and lots of life), 1 scooter blenny, 2 one inch maroon clowns, 1 six line wrasse, and one half inch "candy cane" blenny. 2 snails and 3 hermits. closed system with 3" live sand HOT Prizm skimmer, 175 BioWheel (leftover from fresh water days), 2 power heads with the rotating output. 110 watt Helios lamp 50% actinic. Not getting any coralline growth and have small outbreak of red slime algae. Water quality is great with weekly 3 gallon changes of store bought distilled water which I have tested. Nitrate never above 10. nitrite and ammonia 0, Cal. 400-450, iodine .06, alk had a recent dip to 7 dKH, <This is too low> PO2 was high but food prep has changed to reduce this and levels are now at .5. <Still too high> I am pretty good at maintaining water quality (I think). Gas exchange may not be good as there is a film covering about 75% of the water surface. <I'd wick this off with a new all-white paper towel> I will try to modify the skimmer to collect the surface water, not the best choice in skimmers. I am worried because my 55 gal is in full blown red slime heaven and I borrowed some rock from this tank to set up the mini reef before the problem was evident. What can I do to get rid of it and what causes it? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and the linked FAQs files and articles (in blue, above)>... I also started using ChromaPlex and Phytoplex about 2-3 times a week 5 ml. each time. not sure I even need these as I understand that iodine is the main food component for my softies (polyps, mushrooms, torch, something that looks like frogspawn but with single stalks with a white dot on the end)... thanks guys, Kevin in Gloucester Ma. <Read on my friend. Bob Fenner>

DOC levels Over the last two years I have seldom done water changes based on various opinions.   <OK> For the last two months, however, I have changed 20% each month.   <excellent> I have a very good RO unit.  As a result, I'm having an algae outbreak, and now hair algae is developing on the dead spots on the cup corals, no doubt from the slight silicate that my RO filter can't remove.   <Are you teasing me <G>? Two years without water changes and DOC levels off the scale... 2 years of accumulated and concentrated waste products... and you really think the trace amounts of silica (possibly) slipped past your admittedly very good RO is the cause of the algae? Are you pulling my leg? DO test your DOC levels, my friend, and consider the premise mentioned and that your coral polyps not opening and the ensuing algae outbreak are the results of nutrients simply reaching a critical mass. Your water changes not only may have been unrelated... but they may very well have staved off a crash> All other corals and  fish are thriving.   <hmmm... each has a different tolerance, bud. Somebody has to be the first to show signs of stress. You are talking about fish and coral that could not be more distantly related> I have candy cane corals which have propagated from two stalks to seven in the past six months.  I haven't had a fish die in two years and several of my fish are seven years old.  My water quality cannot be too bad. But I will take your info to heart. Thanks <good to hear. Best regards, Anthony>

Nuisance algae- 2/5/03 from Bob in Manchester UK hello there, I found your site by accident & have had great joy reading some of the faq sections.. I now find my self with a problem in my marine tank...> here goes... I have a hexagonal marine tank measuring 3.5 feet deep by 2 feet wide I have 1 tomato clown and a few anemone in there. <some caution here... multiple anemones of the same species can be difficult in the long run... and multiple specimens of different species is likely impossible. Works at best for a year or two (chemical aggression)> All life in the tank is a`ok  my problem is algae. I think it's filament algae everywhere big clumps of it. lighting wise I have a 150 metal halide filtration is via external power filters. I have tried chemical solutions and even reduced the lighting to 6-7 hours per day.. <The reduction in light may not have been necessary or helpful. It does not at least address the main problem (minor): nutrient levels. Most any nuisance algae can be controlled by limiting nutrients (good protein skimmer, careful feeding, extra water changes, increased water flow, etc)> I thought calcareous algae might stop the filament type taking hold ????   <sometime yes... if the growth is strong enough... will outcompete, but only within reason. Could simply be too many nutrients> would the addition of a uv help ??? <almost certainly not. Do get a skimmer to produce dark skimmate 3-5 times weekly if not a full cup daily and you will watch that algae wane in 2-3 weeks without any extra labor on your part> please could you suggest anything ?? many thanks <best regards, Anthony>

Re: algae problem Dear Crew,   Thanks for the site, I have learned a lot thus far and am trying to fine tune my aquaria<Keep learning/sharing>.  Specs: 55 Gallon tank, 70 lbs of live rock, 1-1/2 inch live sand bed in front only (approximately 20 lbs)  I have two Rio 1400's, one along the back which pushes all detritus from back to front then another high up front, I even have another 800 mid level.  I follow the food trail and there is adequate circulation throughout.  I have a CPR backpack 2 skimmer, a Fluval 404 w/one section filled with floss (change weekly) 4x65 watt JBJ retro hood. livestock: 2 inch Basslet large coral banded shrimp 1 small yellow tang one 2 inch blue damsel two small snails 3 hermit crabs one med green bubble tip anemone 5-6 small watermelon mushrooms small piece of polyp rock one 1 inch mandarin goby nitrite, ammonia, nitrate 0, 8.1-8-2 ph, calcium 350.    Basically, everyone is fine but I haven't had much coralline algae growth and what I did have became consumed by green algae after I added my lighting a few weeks ago. Brown algae on the glass as well, with a green tint.  I keep my lights on 9 hrs <sounds reasonable> and the tank has been up for about two years (but less than a year as reef style)  I do not understand why my algae is so much when my nitrates are 0.  I change 10-15 gallons every two weeks. <Smaller amounts, more often (5% twice weekly) may help> As I said it all really started after my lighting, but I need that. <yes you do> I have a very small bio load and plan on adding one more dwarf angel and a few corals(    want to keep it light). Is it possible my skimmer isn't doing enough? <yes> I get about a quarter cup every day but it is not that dark, like ice tea with darker slime around the cup.  I added some macro algae <What type? If Caulerpa studies are showing it to be more a liability than asset for some corals>.  Any other suggestions? <Check the source water. Check for phosphate in addition to others listed above. Consider RO - DI or RO/DI for water changes, top offs. Nutrient export/dilution is the key. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm. A DSB may be of benefit>  Also I have one  15 lb piece of bowl rock left Originally a FO tank.  It is two years old and has much algae.  Would that be considered live rock after a while<yes>?   I do not want to use any additives other than Calcium, Iodine, Strontium.    I want to rid it naturally. <good approach>  Thanks for the help. <No problem, Don>

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