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FAQs on Marine Algae and Their Control 5

Related Articles: Avoiding Algae Problems in Marine System, Algae Control, Marine Maintenance, Marine Scavengers, Snails, Hermit Crabs, Mithrax/Emerald Green Crabs, Sea Urchins, Blennies, Algae Filters, Ctenochaetus/Bristle Mouth Tangs, Zebrasoma/Sailfin Tangs, Skimmers, Skimmer Selection, Marine Algae, Coralline Algae, Green Algae, Brown Algae, Blue-Green "Algae"/(Cyanobacteria)Diatoms, Brown Algae

Related FAQs: Marine Algae Control FAQs 1, Marine Algae Control 2, Marine Algae Control 3, Marine Algae Control 4, Marine Algae Control 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

Elysia (Tridachia) crispata, the Lettuce Sea Slug. Photo by Stormbringer/Steve. 

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Knocking Out Nuisance Algae! Hi <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I really appreciate your website and all the valuable information that it contains.   <Thanks for the kind words- it's our privilege and pleasure to be of service!> Anyways, I have a 90 gallon tank that is a mixed reef. The fish consist of a pair of clowns, Algae Blenny, Strawberry Fish, and a Rabbitfish. The lighting consist of 2 175 halides (ab 10k bulbs) and 4 110 watt VHO, the bulbs are probably 6-8 months old. I use a Euroreef CS6-1 skimmer and have a very healthy refugium tons of grape Caulerpa and Chaetomorpha.  All make up water is RO/DI.   When I wake up in the morning and the VHO's first kick on, my sand bed is completely covered in this brown algae. After the halides kick on the algae is completely gone except where there is shade.  any idea what this stuff is (picture included, the algae is underneath the xenia/frogspawn)??  Some type of dinoflagellate? <It is kind of hard to tell from the picture, but it looks to be more like a typical algae to me, as opposed to a dinoflagellate (although I would not rule out the possibility). These algae can be quite annoying, as you are discovering! Almost always, the root cause of these nuisance algae is excessive nutrients somewhere in the system. Despite excellent quality makeup water, and good all-around water quality, these many nuisance species can actually "fix" food from organics found in the tank's substrate (part of the reason why, on many occasions, nuisance algae seem to proliferate despite seemingly good water parameter readings!).> This stuff started when I got a nice chunk of grape Caulerpa from a fellow reefer. <Could be coincidental-or it could be a real "gift" from a fellow reefer!> It has progressively gotten worse over the past 2 months. It spread from the refugium to the main tank. I don't know what to do. I am only feeding 1 cube of frozen food every other day.  Ammonia/nitrite/nitrate all undetectable. Any suggestions?? I do need to increase my circulation. I'm only using 2 MaxiJet 1200's and a mag7 for my return. <Well, I'd attack this problem like I would any other nuisance algae problem: Focus on nutrient export processes and trying to maintain water parameters that tend not to favor algae proliferation. You have a great skimmer; make sure that it yanks out at least a couple of cups of dark, yucky stuff per week. As you surmised, increased circulation can also help. Increased oxygen levels in the aquarium are quite beneficial in many ways! Check alkalinity and pH and make sure that both are at stable, high levels. Utilize aggressive chemical filtration, with activated carbon and/or Polyfilter media, replaced regularly. Try a stepped up water change routine, like two 5% changes per week. Make certain that your RO/DI unit is in top shape, and that the membrane and other cartridges don't need replacement. On the outside possibility that this is a diatom problem, make sure that your water tests very low or undetectable for silicate. When manually extracting this stuff, don't stir up the substrate- just siphon it right out of the tank, so you don't spread it around.> I'm really worried that this stuff is going to continue to worsen thus ruining my tank. Thanks for any help/suggestions Matt <Well, Matt- the key to nuisance algae control lies in diligence. Keep on top of things; be consistent, repetitive, and patient. With minor husbandry adjustments (even if conditions look good at this time) and patience, you can and will defeat this problem. Stay with it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Killer Algae? Hey Crew! <Scott F. your Crew Member Tonight!> Recently Bob was at our MARS meeting in Sacramento CA and did a great presentation on algae.  After the meeting I followed up with him on an algae problem that I am having which we speculated may be the results of poor top off water.  Following up on this, I tested the water and found it and the RO system to be fine.  In doing some more research I found a possible cause and possible solution, but was hoping you can offer a second opinion and maybe a less radical fix. The algae seems to be the same as Gambierdiscus toxicus described in Julian Sprung's book, Algae.  It is a fast growing brown algae with a slimy appearance with trapped air bubbles attached.  Sprung describes it as being toxic to both Turbo and Astraea snails.  This fits as I have found a number of my snails tipped over and dying.  Even my little Lawnmower Blenny died. <Yikes!> It is also aggressive, killing a colony of green star polyps and zoanthids. <Absolutely, Gambierdiscus is a very nasty algae, and can do all of the things that you said...> Sprung recommends not doing any water changes and letting it run it's course, saying it can last weeks or months!  It's been a month so far but not knowing this I have conducted three water changes, 25 gals each in a 135 gal tank, over two weeks.  Even though I siphon out as much of the algae as I can, days later its back and more of it! <Physical removal of the algae is helpful to remove the "symptoms", but not the "cause"....> As if it thrives off the water change. <Despite the RO water, it is possible that either some minor element is being replenished with the water changes (possibly silicate or orthophosphate?)...> Advice from the LFS is to break down the tank.  They recommend "cleaning" the algae off the live rock in clean salt water using a power head. Then, remove ALL the substrate replacing it with new.  This is a pretty radical solution!!  If it is a solution.   <It really is overly aggressive, I think. Not to mention, disruptive! And, if the issue is nutrients, disrupting the established biological processes and adding new water that may contain more "algae fuel" is a recipe for more problems! Better to find the root cause. I would test for silicate and phosphate repeatedly. It is possible that this algae is "manufacturing" its own food at this point, which is probably why Julian recommends leaving things as they are.> The tank has been up for about five years and I have never replaced the rock or substrate.  I have always run a skimmer, calcium reactor, very good water flow, 2 - 4 inch sand bed, excellent water quality and lighting.  Up until recently it is the kind of tank which can take injured corals from LFS and make them whole again. I was told it may be "old tank syndrome" where pollutants build up over time, trapped in between the rock and under the sand bed they eventually cause the phosphates and nitrates to increase to uncontrollable levels.  I know Bob recommended changing the live rock and vacuuming the substrate periodically which I can see would prohibit this problem from occurring, if this is in fact the problem.  What suggestions would you recommend? Have a beer and wait for it to run it's course?  Replace the substrate and clean the rock? Or some other ideas?   <Well, I would agree with both Bob and Julian on this one. I'd occasionally siphon or stir some of the sand bed around the rocks, and maybe replace some of the rock over time. But with religious maintenance practices (regular, frequent water changes with quality source water, aggressive skimming, use of activated carbon and/or Poly Filter), you should see this algae start to fade away.> This is starting to make me nervous because I can't get a handle on it. Here are some quick numbers:  Sg 1.025, Ph 8.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20 ppm. Calcium 412.  As always your help is appreciated. Jim <Well, Jim, the nitrate level is a bit high for a tank with an established deep sand bed, so you may want to consider increasing sand bed depth to help foster additional denitrification. I'd still look into silicate and phosphate, as well. I think that with continued good husbandry on your part, coupled with a few minor adjustments to the tank, and this algae should gradually fade into oblivion. Oh- and you could have a beer anyways...Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Algae Dear Mr. Fenner: Our nitrates are high.  Not too excessive this week!  The green algae won't go away! It accumulates all over the front, sides and back of tank so thick we can not see into the tank.  Without torturing our anemone, clown fish, pink Pseudochromis, green Chromis', seahorse, and misc. crabs and snails, what can we do?????? <A few things... add some nutrient competition life, jazz up your filtration (chemical, skimming)... Please read the (let's see, what's a spiffy descriptor?) "plethora" of information on marine algae and their control, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and on to the linked areas (in blue, at top)> We performed 4 consecutive water changes in 12 hour cycles, the nitrates went down, but the green bloom returned.  No amount of scraping gets rid of it.  We use a bioballs filtration, two power heads, the tank is blocked off for the seahorse, is circulation the problem? <Take a read on WetWebMedia.com re bioballs... may be time to give them the old heave ho> Any input you might have would be most appreciated. Thank you, Tom & Cori Foster <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Attacking Nuisance Algae! Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. at your service!> Sorry to bother you all once again.   <Never a bother! We're here to help!> I have a 75 gallon with 2 false perculas, 3 green Chromis, and a common Firefish. I have 90 lbs of LR on which I have noticed a dark purple almost black algae.  It looks like a hair type algae, but it grows much slower. <Could be a nuisance algae like Gelidium...Hard to say without a pic...> The 10 scarlet hermits I have pick at it sparely.  I am wondering if there are any 2 tangs I could add to this tank to help control this growth. <In this sized tank, even one tang would be pushing it, IMO> I know a yellow would be the best due to there adult size, but I know mixing is not a good idea especially in a small tank.  Could 2 yellows coincide here? Or is it too small? <The Yellow Tang would be your best bet, but they do need their room, too. Another possible choice would be the Kole Tang, which tends to scrape algae from rocks, particularly diatoms. However, I would not recommend two tangs in most tanks; and yes- yours would be too small for two.> If so, I was thinking maybe one yellow tang and a lawnmower blenny.  However, I have heard that lawnmowers will pick on Firefish.  Is this true? <In my experience, the Lawnmower Blenny is a cool fish, and it can be a bit ornery at times, chasing other small fish around, but not usually causing any damage to speak of. However, as algae consumers, my personal experience and opinion is that these guys are highly overrated as "algae eaters". Once they get the taste of prepared foods, they seem to favor them over algae...Best to utilize aggressive nutrient export techniques to help eliminate nuisance algae, rather than rely on a little fish with gourmet taste!> Thanks in advance, Jeff Dokos <Glad to be of service! Regards, Scott F>

Knocking Out Nuisance Algae (Cont.) Further to my email about a month ago regarding coralline algae not growing and hair algae taking over. I went through all the possibilities mentioned, including major clean ups, water changes and carbon use. The system is now on the improve with coralline algae clearly growing but controlling the hair algae manually is proving difficult. <Yep. Hair algae can be very tough to deal with. You just have to continue aggressive nutrient export mechanisms, and you'll continue to get results...> Neither my lawnmower blenny nor the two species of hermit crabs I have touch the stuff. <They unfortunately often fail to meet our expectations as "algae eaters". You cannot depend on them to do it all, but they can help.> The tank is 50G, water parameters are all fine (specially now that I have done couple of major water changes). It has a light biological load and is very lightly fed and the system has a large turbo clone skimmer which seems to be working well and pulls the amount of skimmate I would expect for a light load. I am not sure I can do any more with regards to nutrient export!! <Just keep at it...! If possible, you should attempt to use RO/DI water for source water, and a god quality mix. I know previously that you've used natural sea water, but> At the moment the only thing I can do to keep this stuff under control is reduce the photoperiod, use only actinic and use a brush to remove the hair algae in a bucket during the weekly maintenance but then it grows back. I have been told that Foxface is the only fish known to eat toxic hair algae but they are too large for a 50G. <Correct. They also can not be expected to eat all of the nuisance algae...I still think that you need to keep working with the nutrient export techniques> I had a bi-colour angel before and he kept the rocks clean but then damaged a couple of my corals. Recently I read an article that suggested a coral beauty angle is a safer bet when it comes to corals. Can you make any suggestions for a fish that will pick the remainder of the hair algae so I don't have to brush the rocks every week or am I set to continue doing this for a while.... <If you are determined to use an angelfish for algae control, I'd be quite careful...The C. bispinosus (Coral Beauty) is, in my opinion, the safest bet...However, my best advice is to keep up with the other nutrient export mechanisms. In the long run, these techniques will accomplish the job! Good luck, and hang in there! Regards, Scott F.>

- Problem Algae - WWM Crew, I have an algae problem in my reef aquarium that I have been fighting unsuccessfully for several months. Specifics of my setup are described below. My aquarium uses a 40 gallon breeder tank equipped with an AquaC Remora protein skimmer and pre-skimmer box. Lighting is provided from a 96 watt power compact SmartLite, which I run about 10 hours per day. The tank contains about 40 pounds of live rock for biological filtration and about 1 inch of aragonite substrate. Two powerheads are used to provide circulation, each being rated at 160 gph. The Maxi-Jet 1200 that runs the protein skimmer provides circulation as well. The tank has been up and running for about 10 months. The tank is currently stocked with 1 Firefish, 1 small yellowtail damsel, 1 Chromis, 1 serpent star, 2 peppermint shrimp, about a dozen hermit crabs, and about a half-dozen snails. The fish are fed sparingly once a day. I exchange 10% of the water biweekly, using Instant Ocean salt pre-mixed with distilled water. Distilled water is also used as makeup water for evaporative losses. SeaChem Marine Buffer is added biweekly to maintain pH and alkalinity. I maintain the water temperature at 75 F and the specific gravity at 1.024. The pH and alkalinity range from 8.0-8.2 and 4.0-5.5 meq/l, respectively. Calcium tests in excess of 600 mg/l. Nitrate (NO3-N), runs from non-detect to about 0.4 mg/l. During the first 2 months, I used well water to mix saltwater and for makeup water. The phosphate (PO4) levels in this water turned out to be high and on the order of 1 mg/l. I subsequently switched to using distilled water and started using PolyFilters to reduce PO4 levels, which reduced concentrations to less than 0.2 mg/l. About 2 weeks ago, I started using PhosBan in the media chamber of pre-skimmer box. PO4 concentrations are now about 0.03 mg/l as measured using a Salifert test kit. Recent testing showed NO3-N to be non-detectable and PO4 to be less than 0.03 mg/l. With these nutrient concentrations, I expected reductions in algae growth rate. However, filamentous algae has rapidly colonized the aragonite substrate in a mat. Filamentous algae and bubble algae also grows in crevices of the live rock. Microalgae grow rapidly on the glass. I have also tested the distilled water, salt, and marine buffer for PO4 in an attempt to determine if I was inadvertently adding PO4; all results were non-detect. I am at a loss as to why algae is growing out of control. Could the use of the well water with high PO4 levels during the first 2 months have contributed to this problem? <Oh sure.> That is, has PO4 precipitated out on the aragonite and live rock and is now coming back into solution and enhancing algae growth rates? <Hmm... probably not. PO4 is plant food - so it's going to get used if it's available.> If so, is there any way of rectifying this problem short of replacing the live rock and aragonite? <Wouldn't be concerned and wouldn't replace the rock/sand.> Any suggestions you could provide to get my algae problem under control would be greatly appreciated. <I see a pygmy angel or perhaps a tang in your future. At the very least, you need some dedicated herbivores to help make advances against this - keep things in check. Likewise, you might also consider another powerhead and getting in there with your hands to remove some of this algae, keep its numbers in check. More information for you here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm > Thanks for you help in advance and the great service that you provide to the marine aquarist community. Stew <Cheers, J -- >

Algae control Dear Bob and Company- I am having a problem with my 46 gallon tank, that contains approx. 45 lbs. of mixed Fiji/Florida rock. The tank contains the following livestock- a Percula Clown, a Hippo Tang, a Royal Gramma, a Neon Dottyback, and 2 Chromis. All are small specimens, about 1-1 1/2 inches, except the Dottyback, which is about 2 1/2". Clean up crew consists of Hawaiian left hand hermits, Blue Hermits, Scarlet hermits, a Lettuce Nudibranch and a Brittle Star, as well as Turbo, Astrea and Cerith snails. Equipment is an Excalibur hang on skimmer, a Custom SeaLife UV unit, a Hagen AquaClear 500 and 2 Hagen 402 powerheads, one of which directs water through the UV unit. I have a colony of Green Star Polyps and Xenia. Temperature is kept at 77-78 degrees, specific gravity at about 1.024, with make up water provided by a 4 stage RO/DI unit that was purchased in April. I drip Kalk solution through a Kent Aquadoser. In the AquaClear I was using a mesh bag filled with SeaChem's SeaGel, a mixture of carbon and phosphate reducer. I do 7-12 gallon water changes twice a month using Coralife salt, add Kent Strontium/Moly and Kent concentrated Iodine weekly. PH is a solid 8.2 during the day, lights are on ( 2 Custom SeaLife PC smart lamps, 96 watts each) for about 12 hours daily. Fish appear to be healthy and active, numerous copepods and polychaete worms are visible at night time when I get the flashlight out. The Florida rock seems to be fine, with tons of Ghost feather dusters and some rather sizeable clams active. I just started dripping Kalk in the last few months, as I could get no new coralline growth, and it started growing everywhere...pink, purple and green. I have a bed of CaribSea aragonite and live sand that is about 1 1/2 inches deep. (Sorry, forgot to mention the tank will be two years old in December) About a month ago, I switched to Marineland Black Diamond carbon, 16 ounces in the mesh bag inside the AquaClear. Since then I have had stunted coralline growth, and perhaps recession. There are some bare white spots developing on the live rock, but I wrote that off to the walking Brillo pad, a.k.a. a Boring Urchin that hitchhiked on the live rock. It has gone from about 3/4 of an inch to nearly 2" in diameter. With the Florida rock came some Aiptasia, that I keep in check with Kalk paste. But now I am getting blooms of diatoms on the substrate, hair algae growing wild, small Cyano outbreaks, and Aiptasia are popping out with alarming frequency. I know all indications point to poor water quality, but using a RedSea test kit, the nitrites are 0, nitrates come in at 0-3 ppm. The Star Polyps and the Xenia are spreading quite well...except the Xenia stalks are getting lengthy, perhaps in response to my shortening of the light cycle, which I cut down to about 8 hours, and only 1 96 watt fixture to help control the algae outbreak. When I clean the tank weekly, I stir the substrate, scrape the glass, wait for the filter and skimmer to extract the debris, and then do my water change. I feed sparingly, and discontinued frozen food ( which I defrost and rinse to make sure I am not adding unused nutrient to the water ) as well as not using Kent Phytoplankton for the same reason. Please give me your suggestions, as I had a beautiful tank up until a few months ago... the only thing I can think of is that perhaps the Marineland carbon is inferior, or perhaps I am somehow building up phosphates that the SeaGel was keeping in check <I would test your phosphates and see what they read> ( but how can that be with a young RO/DI unit that has a membrane flush feature?) I gave brief thought to falling for ads and dumping chemicals into solving the problem... and go back to the lessons I learned from your site and from my local fish store... be a better aquarist! Any help you could give would be most appreciated, as a reefkeeping student- you have a wonderful classroom, and treat issues as the only stupid question is the one not asked... < if your phosphates are high do a couple of water changes to bring them to 0 There is a product I use that I have found to be awesome it is called ROWAphos it is product out of Germany and it works! hope this helps MikeH> Thanks in advance Paul Fillinger

Clear Slime? 150 Gallon fish only system (Blue Ring 5", French 3", 2 Flames, 3 Grammas, 3" Hippo, lemon peel, Kole tang, assorted hermits, few snails left- woops.)  Wet dry (hotgun wads), protein skimmer, 8 and 15 watt UV v.v. slow flow, 6 x turn over. Phosphate, carbon and nitrate adsorb materials utilized from time to time.  Fed primarily formula 1 & 2  foods, blood worms, Spirulina flake, dried seaweed (Sprung) and formula 1 and 2 pellets. Lighting a lot. 1 x 4foot 50/50, 1 4ft.  daylight 1 36" 50/50 and 1 36" daylight 1 36" actinic (comes on early).  everyone seems happy and healthy except frequent disappearance of Astrea snails. Oh, 1.020 density all else test low. Fair amount of red slime and green algae. Also coralline algae growing in 3cm or less spots. Probably due to Actinic. Powerheads at each end for circulation.  Film growing on my decorative coral that serves as a base for 50 lbs of live rock. It is 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick and flows with the water movement. Almost transparent to white color, seems to grow more prolific in the shadows. Some of the red algae does get long between water changes (hair) Any ideas on the clear slime.. mucous? <I have a feeling that the clear slime is another form of algae, or organic material. The fact that you have Cyanobacteria in the tank is a sign that some organics are accumulating in the tank...I'd revisit basic husbandry procedures, such as water changes, protein skimming, etc> Too much UV a danger? <It certainly can be a potential problem, but if you've properly sized your UV and flow, you should be okay...> How much food is enough? <Enough that your fishes will consume all of the food within a few minutes, without leaving uneaten food behind to accumulate and degrade water quality..> Also two cleaner shrimp. Infrequent cleaning but when they ride around on the Blue ring it is a sight to behold.  Any advice would be appreciated. <Just keep up with the basics here...Sounds water quality management (frequent water changes and attention to other husbandry issues), and you should be fine! Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Attacking Nuisance Algae! I have been reading your FAQ's for the past couple of weeks and have found them to be extremely helpful. Thank You for sharing your knowledge and experience. <And thank you for your kind words...Sharing and learning together is what WWM is all about!> I have a 4 month old 70 Gal Tank with a bunch of live rock in it. I have 280Watts of lighting in the tank (mixed blue and white light). The water characteristics (PH, Alk, Nitrate, Nitrite and Ammonia) all look good. I currently have 10 red legged crabs (small guys), 5 turbo snails and 3 Green Crabs as the primary clean-up crew. I have two very small damsels, one percula clown, one small royal gamma, three small feather dusters, two sand anemones, and one skunk clownfish that hosts in one of the anemone. I have about a 3 inch base of sand, with about 1 inch covering of crushed coral on top of the sand. Lately, I have started to see a bright green covering of some sort of Algae on the crushed coral, as well as on some of the shells etc. The bright green stuff is slowing starting to cover some of the coralline algae on the live rock as well. It seems to be almost coloring the shells etc, since no amount of scrubbing seems to get it off - and I do not want to use any soap or bleach etc. on them. <Right- you don't want to do that...> Last week I also saw some big brown bubbles (1/4 inch or so) appear on top of one of my live rocks. I read a bunch on your site about green bubbles, but not brown. The two questions I have are -- 1) the bright green algae doesn't look too bad, but is it bad for the tank? Should I worry about removing or eliminating it somehow? I have been adding calcium to the tank to facilitate the growth of coralline algae - will the green algae hurt the growth of coralline algae? <Well, in and of itself, algae are not "bad", merely indicative that conditions are right for them to prosper. When the growths start getting out of hand, it usually means that there are significant levels of nutrients in the system. I do recommend checking factors such as phosphate, which is a good indicator of overall water quality. Fortunately, these types of algae blooms are easily controlled by stepping up nutrient export mechanisms, such as aggressive protein skimming, use of chemical filtration media (activated carbon and/or Poly Filter), regular, frequent water changes (try 5% twice a week) with high quality source water, and regular cleaning and replacement of all mechanical filter media (like prefilters and sponges). They will not "harm" corallines, per se, but they will smother and out compete them for light and nutrients, if left unchecked...> The Brown Bubbles - are the algae too? and if so, should I remove them? What is the best way. <Well, the brown bubbles can still be a form of bubble algae, or they could be something worse- dinoflagellates...Most likely, you're just looking at another form of nuisance algae that is easily and effectively controlled by some of the previously nutrient export methods. Sure, you can manually extract some of them, too- but concentrate on the cause with the nutrient export techniques, too...Given time and a little effort, these blooms will become a thing of the past...> I would truly appreciate your assistance. Thank You SA <My pleasure, SA! Hang in there- you'll be able to beat the nuisance algae if you stay at it! Regards, Scott F>

Grass in the tank? (10/23/03) Thanks for telling what I have. Last question what type of algae is it. What's it called? <Ah, algae ID is not a strong point of mine...I can tell you it's "some sort of hair algae", but not much beyond that. If you could send a slightly larger/clearer photo, I can give it to one of the crew who's better at the algae ID game than I am. --Ananda> Thank You very much,  Brian

Algae Woes? III + a Goniopora Question >Hi Marina, >>Hello again. >Thanks for your reply.  If you love Seafood Hong Kong is the place.   >>So I hear.  My youngest sister lived on one of the nearby islands for several years, unfortunately seafood is NOT her thing. >We have several markets that display fish/Shellfish/crabs/sea cucumbers whatever... that you then pick (sentence to death) and they cook them for you.  Well at least you will enjoy teasing your palate.. >>And here I am hungry. >Any way I had asked "the coral guru" at WWM about the compatibility between different mushroom genus and I would appreciate very much if you could at your convenience get someone respond to that. >>I'll take a look around, I'm going to assume you mean Anthony.   >Last evening I picked up a type of  Goniopora coral.  Bright Lemon in colour, very eye-catching to the point of looking dubious, do you by any chance happen to know if it is possible to dye a coral? (could it possibly be done with say organic material like turmeric?) and if indeed there is a bright lemon coloured Goniopora? >>I know for a fact that many anemones are dyed, though with what substance I couldn't tell you.  Based on that, I don't see why a coral couldn't be dyed as well.  I, personally, have never seen any color other than green in Goniopora, but I am not the coral expert.  However, in perusing my book, "Corals: A Quick Reference Guide", by Julian Sprung, I see pictured (on pages 36-37) brown Goniopora, A branched Goniopora from Indonesia that is a lovely dark purple with whitish centers, a red species from Bali, and from the Solomon Islands a light, lemony yellow Goniopora.  It is on the pale side, but distinctly yellow. >In Hong Kong they dye some freshwater fish (it has no effect on the fish) namely the Indian Glass fish with fluorescent colors, the colours then fade away within a few weeks.   >>FYI, those fish are not dyed in the classic sense, they are injected with dye. >A few years ago I recall a guy that told me that they do this in Hong Kong. >>Yes.   >Still waiting for the Damn Bubbles to stop.  Will get some abalone after they are done with my algae, maybe I will eat them myself...just kidding ;). >>I've never had abalone myself, but I'm certainly willing to give it a try!  Marina >Regards, Jorell

- Algae ID, Follow-up - What causes it and how do I make it go bye bye?? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeasfriend.htm Cheers, J -- >

Algae Woes? >Hi Marina, >>Hello Jorell. >Thanks for your reply. >>You're quite welcome. >The algae growth is more than that, I do not have a digital camera so I could not take a picture of my tank. >>Right, then I think the abalone might be a good choice. I had picked up a few Abalone some a few years ago when I was fishing and dropped them into my tank but they all perished in due course.  I have however noticed several small Abalone in the piping. i.e. in the pipes that bring the water to and from the chiller. These guys however seem to be happy in there and do no come out into the main tank area.  I guess the parents bred in the tank and the larvae was sucked out by the filters, the ones in the chiller got hold of something and survived.  I recall some time ago I experienced the same thing in my canister filter.  However now that the canister is connected directly to the under gravel out put it has no chance of that happening. (If you recall I had that  under gravel powerhead shooting out streams of small bubbles.  Well that is still going on but it is now diffused into the canister). >>Oh yes, I remember!  Love telling about it, too. >I will go down to the supermarket and buy a couple of those Abalone and put them into my tank.  In Hong Kong we have a live food section in the supermarket that sells Abalone, Live Clams, Scallops etc etc... >>Wow.. that sounds great (I love seafood, too). >Anyway, your take care and have a great weekend.  Kind Regards, Jorell >>I shall, and yourself as well.  Marina

-Algae conquering the aquarium- Below is the email exchange.  The algae has overtaken my tank.  I have two urchins in there and they are doing nothing to eat the green algae.  I would say it has covered more than 60% of my live rock.  HELP!!!! <Well, first check the basics of algae control http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm . Check your phosphate level (should be undetectable, any "trace" is a ton!), reaffirm that your top-off and water change water is pure, make sure you're limiting nutrient input, yada yada yada. If the tank is large enough for a tang, just about any Zebrasoma tang should chow it. I would try getting some to grow wild in the refugium, and before adding any more grazers, completely cleaning most of it off of the rocks to give them a head-start. Good luck! -Kevin> -Algae ID- These are showing up in patches on my live rock.  I am running the ecosystem and it has been up since June, using Caulerpa as the main macro.  Any clue what it is? <It looks like Cladophora sp. macro algae. Looks nice, if it starts getting out of control, just about any surgeonfish or urchin should readily chow down on it. -Kevin> Thanks! Adam

Algae Battles... I have been reading your website regarding control of hair algae and coralline red algae and I am getting a little confused from some of the responses <Well, let's see if we can clarify a few things...Scott F. with you today!> My tank has been set up for almost a year and used to have a reasonable growth of coralline as well as three species of Rhodophytes including two which I suspect are a kind of Botryocladia sp. I had a small outbreak of hair algae but as the other red algae grew the hair algae subsided. Now the cycle has reversed. The coralline and the other red algae are hardly growing and the hair algae is taking over and starting to grow on the coralline which tells me something is not right as I understand that corallines have chemical defense systems that stop other algae from growing on top. <Crafty little algae, those corallines, huh?> The tank is 55g, Nitrates and Phosphates are close to 0 and I do 5% weekly water change (sea water is what is available here) and supplement with Calcium chloride and sodium bicarbonate to bring the Ca to 450ppm and KH to 9. I have a skimmer but I don't use Carbon filtration. My questions are: 1- How important is Carbon use and could chemical warfare be the reason for the lack of growth? <Carbon is a very important filter media for the removal of dissolved organics and other potential chemical problems, such as the allelopathic compounds released by corals, as you indicate. However, I don't think that these compounds are causing the nuisance algae growth. In regards to the skimmer: Make sure it's yanking out at least a couple of cups of dark skimmate a week for optimum results.> 2- I read in one of the responses that Calcium only needs to be around between 350 - 400, but other discussions suggest that below 390 you get no growth and they mention 450 as the magic target (I would rather add less than more) <This is one of those topics that aquarists love to debate...I suppose that the higher number is a better target, but it really depends on the requirements of your animals. 350 and up is a fine area to shoot for to help induce coralline growth, but there are other factors, such as magnesium, water motion, lighting, temperature, etc. that come in to play....Not to mention, a healthy dose of patience on your part!> 3- How important are iodine, strontium and magnesium supplementations given that is likely that all the ratios are now out of whack after 12 months of the above water change and supplementation process... <As mentioned above, these elements are important. However, I think that your regimen of regular, frequent small water changes will help keep the ratios in proper balance...I believe that, in many systems, additional supplementation (with the possible exception of Kalkwasser, buffers, and maybe, iodine) is not really needed. Money spent on salt mix to conduct frequent small water changes is much better spent. The other thought here: Yes, natural ocean water seems to be the best stuff, but in captive situations, it may not be. There are many compounds and impurities which accumulate in natural sea water when it's put into closed systems, and there may be some die off of otherwise beneficial plankton in the water, which can further degrade water quality. There are very specific methods to prepare natural sea water for use (see the WWM site) which can help reduce the potential of nutrient accumulation. Perhaps a good experiment might be to try using a good quality salt mix and RO/DI source water for a while, to see if you get better results...? Just a thought...Hang in there, and keep up the good work!> Thank you in Advance Ashraf <Hope I was of some assistance to you! Regards, Scott F>

- More on Lighting - I hate to be a bother but I have one more question that deals with what I asked below.  If I run both of those lights at the same time, do I run the danger of too much light? <No way, it would take much more than that to over-light it.> Can that help nuisance algae to grow? <Provided that there are ample nutrients, yes. You should be working to keep any phosphate and other assorted nutrient accumulation at a minimum.> My tank is about 9 months old now and after a really bad hair algae break out I am totally clean now.  I was running both lights before.  I'm not sure if running both lights had anything to do with my hair algae, but I just want to make sure that if I do run both it won't have any negative effects. <Julian Sprung wrote a great analogy in The Reef Aquarium (volume one I believe). Think of this in terms of a stereo, with the power button being available nutrients, the volume dial being the level of light, and the noise coming from the speakers as algae growth. With the power off, you can turn the sound all the way up and there's still no noise. LOL, I hope this makes some sense, at least it does to me! -Kevin> Thanks so much for your help! Steve

Knocking Out Nuisance Algae! I have a 65 gallon reef tank that is the standard 2 feet tall.  I have 4 96 watt PC bulbs (2 actinic, 2 10,000K) and I have mostly LPS and soft corals. I also have a rose anemone.  I have the lights on a timer and they are scheduled as follows:       08:00 actinics on     10:00 10000K on     20:00 10000K off     22:00 actinics off I seem to have algae growing on the rocks that are all closer to the top of  the tank, thus closer to the lighting.  Should I cut down on the hours of lighting? <I think that your lighting schedule is fine. Personally, I think that the algae is really a function of nutrients in the water, not the light, per se. Excess nutrients and abundant light is a natural recipe for algal growth! Sure, cutting down on the light might help a bit, but it's more of a "band aid". Work on the nutrient export angle here...> Anything else you can think of?  I have tested the water and have found no phosphate or nitrate. Thanks!- D <Well, the amount of phosphate in the water that can trigger a bloom of algae can be as low as tenths of a percent, often below the detection threshold of most hobbyist-grade kits. Phosphate is best removed with aggressive husbandry procedures, such as protein skimming, frequent small water changes with quality source water, use of chemical filtration media, such as Poly Filter and/or activated carbon, and brisk circulation within the tank. Detritus-even small amounts- can accumulate in all of those nooks and crannies on the rocks, leading to nuisance algae blooms.  Did you catch the part about "quality source water"? Are you using RO/DI water? If you are talking about diatom algae, hen silicate is your culprit, and silicate is best dealt with by using a quality RO/ID unit to treat your source water before you mix it up with salt. Also, keep in mind that some of these nutrients are not detectable in the water, but are bound up in the rocks and substrate. Careful siphoning during regular water changes can help remove some of this stuff. In the end, it's all about nutrient export when it comes to defeating algae. Just keep up with your solid, consistent maintenance practices, feed sensibly, and watch carefully. Your algae bloom will soon become a thing of the past. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F.>

Knocking Out Nuisance Algae (Pt.2) Thanks for all the kind words.  I too hope it will become part of the past. Since the problem started I have added a sally lightfoot crab to feed on algae from the rocks and also added a brittle sea star, as well as 50 Astrea snails.  I do a 15% water change every 2 weeks, and always use dependable R. O. water for changes and top-off.  I have a refugium to help remove nutrients while growing Caulerpa prolifera and C. racemosa.  From what I can tell the algae is Chlorodesmis fastigiata.  I found this on the WetWebMedia website and it is very close to what I have. <This is actually a rather attractive algae, but not when it's invading your tank! These algae generally prefer substantial water movement, among other factors, and usually don't last too long in the aquarium.> In addition to using Caulerpa macro algae to remove nutrient, I also infrequently use the PolyFilter pads to remove PO4.    Any other ideas for me? <Well, it's best to keep doing what you're doing. Given time and the continuous application of good husbandry practices, this bloom should diminish and disappear completely. Manual extraction of the algae is also helpful...> Thanks again! I love your site; it is very helpful for new-bies and pros alike! <We have a blast bringing it to you! I think that you're doing the right stuff here! Stay the course! Regards, Scott F.>

ALGAE AND LIGHTING I have a 75 gallon F/O saltwater tank.  I know that certainty impurities in the water are mainly responsible for algae growth, but would like to know if cutting down on my hours of lighting will help prevent/eliminate algae.  Right now I have the lights on a timer and they are staying on 8 hours per day.  Thank you, James <No light, no photosynthesis... less light, less algae... one of a few key factors in algae growth/control. There are others. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm "and the FAQs beyond". Bob Fenner> James Hall

Your books bought both books the natural reef invert book and Conscientious Marine Aquarist which I enjoyed both very much !! just a thought but not everyone that buys and reads these books have PhD's !! <You'll soon be "speaking" the lingo... and relating what seem like obscure concepts, formulae... I assure you> and knowing that ya would like to see people using the scientific names I feel it would be a great idea to have the punctuation of these names somewhere in the back would be such a great help ! <Agreed... but "have to" leave something's out... and many folks have what they consider to be fine pronunciation (the medium IS the message) that is VERY different from others> with out having to look that info up else were to continue to read the book!!  cause ya have to admit they can be a bit of a tongue twisters to say the least !! <Again... you will be surprised at how quickly you will be versed in Linqua Latina and leave the realm of non-pet-fish-cognoscenti... You'll see> lol and I know I had to skip past many due to being somewhat retarded I guess heheh <Nope. Just unfamiliar... as yet> one other ?? that I didn't read about is when growing any type of algae when is the best time to harvest it ?? <When it's too big, too much... most are best regularly "pruned" by being pinched off (with fingers), fed to the main tank or removed> I have Caulerpa prolifera and it grows quiet well but after reading that you guys don't really like it due to many issues looking for some sea grass !!  but my LFS has his in his main display tank which lights are off every night and either has got lucky that is hasn't crashed like stories I have read ?!?! <Happens... but not all that frequently> kinda confused on that !#!#$@!$ I have some as well in my main display and some as well in my fug which I leave light on 24/7  as it grows out should ya pull out the older parts or clip the new and leave to older to try to spread out further !?!? <I would do both... likely on a weekly basis... keep it cropped, illuminated in the refugium> how long due most wait till harvest time?? hope I'm not to confusing here but maybe cause am confused on that issue thanks for the great site and books love them and turn everyone I talk to  check them out before doing anything !! <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Bob Fenner>

Algal Bloom, Excess Nutrients, or Sexy Caulerpa? >Hi crew, >>Greetings Robert. >My tank has been cloudy (white on top, yellowish green on bottom) for about 2 weeks now.  I've been perusing articles and concluded that it's either an algae bloom or some Caulerpa gone sexual. >>Well, my own initial reaction (assuming you have Caulerpa in situ) is that it could be.  If it's gone sexual the "plants" themselves tend to die, dumping lots of nutrients in the water, which can in turn cause a micro algae bloom. >Don't have a phosphate test because my LFS is out.  Other parameters are normal (pH 8.2, SG 1.022, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate all 0).  Tank is 120 gals with 100lbs live rock, wet/dry, skimmer (filling up the collection cup in about 2-3 days with good coffee colored foam).  1 Rabbitfish in tank, who has pretty much eaten all the Caulerpa that hitchhiked on the LR. >>If the fish has eaten it, then there's little chance it's gone sexual. >My question is how do I get rid of the stuff?  Read lots of articles about how to prevent it, but none about how to get rid of it.  I've been running with activated carbon (yes, phosphate free) for a week now, no improvement.   >>Have you performed a few VERY large water changes?  That would be my FIRST move, as carbon tends to become saturated very quickly in a saltwater environment.  Then, I would CRANK up that skimmer, it's performing well for you, so just bump it up a notch along with water changes.  Also, I'd go for something like a Polyfilter before carbon, just in case you do have phosphorous present. >I was running 12 hours full light (with an extra hour before and after just running actinics).  I've dropped it (today) down to 8 hours (and no actinics).   >>The presence or lack thereof of actinic lighting will make little difference here.  Reducing the full spectrum photoperiod is a good idea, it just might give you enough bump, along with the large water changes, to get a handle on whatever nutrients the algae is fixing. >I did a 10% water change a couple of days ago. >>Pardon the phrase, but that is like pissing in the ocean.  50% or better.  I'd do 50%, three times, every day or every other day, and see what I get.   >Any other suggestions? >>If you haven't already, consider a refugium as well. >As to the source, I think it was overfeeding, plus I started using frozen Formula 2.  I defrosted it at room temp for about a half hour before feeding, so I figured that would work to keep phosphates low.  Am I wrong?   >>Well, I'm not really sure how defrosting would address phosphorous issues, I really don't think they're temperature dependent.  Overfeeding could be an issue, a balance must be found between ensuring your fish get plenty to eat and addressing nutrient export issues. >It is odd how the tank was fine until I used the Formula 2,  but once I get a phosphate test kit I will check source water too (I use RO from one of those aquarium Pharm-tap water conditioner tube things, thinking about going to a real RO/DI source, any suggestions?). >>I believe LifeReef makes good units, but I am not the best source of that particular information.  I suggest posing the question on our forum, http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk  Also, do a search on our site for "Marine algae control". >Thanks in advance, Rob >>You're welcome.  Marina

Algae problems Hi, <Hello, Scott V. here>  Thanks in advance for your help. <No problem >This is the 3rd time I'm writing to you and it will definitely not be my last. Short history of tank: 45 gals 75lbs live rock 20 lbs live sand 2 powerheads 201 & 301 Amiracle SL-5 hang on filter 1 Hippo tank 1 Goldbar clown 10 hermit crabs 1 sally lightfoot crab 5 snails 1 cleaner shrimp 2 feather dusters 1star polyp 1 spaghetti coral 1 hammer coral 1 fox coral Tanks been up and running for over 3 months all water perimeters are good, salinity 1.025 Lights are left on for 11 hours a day, no natural light hits the tank. Light feeding twice a day, 15% water changes every 2 weeks, using a tap water purifier. Clean algae off glass weekly. I have just noticed what I assume is hairy algae growing on the LR. How do I get rid of this? <Trick question?  Depends on the cause, which must be determined> Also in my live sand bed there is brown and also a bright green I believe algae growing there, how should I remove that? Fish and coral all seem find except the fox coral has not been opening the last few days. Any advise I would greatly appreciate. <First, I would at least double the number of hermits and snails. You may not have as big of a problem as you suspect, but just need more interested diners to partake of what's available.  Algae growth itself is caused by excessive nutrients or too much/too little light.  You said water parameters are good, but I don't know what you are checking.  The culprit for algae is usually Nitrates or Phosphate, or both.  Also, check your source water.  You may be inadvertently fertilizing it.  If that looks good, or is resolved, you may have to play with the lighting.  You may have too much light, or not enough light regardless of how long they are left on.  However, I would look to Nitrates/Phosphate and more snails/hermits to start.> Thanks in advance <No problem :)  Scott V. > - Randy

Filtration and Algae Problems Hello crew, <Hello! Ryan here> I really appreciate the wealth of information you guys provide the aquarium community. I've decided to try to improve the quality of my tank water to try to alleviate several problems. <Water quality truly is the biggest challenge in the hobby> My Setup: For 2 years, I've been running a 50g tank with a Bak Pak 2R skimmer, 2.5-3" DSB, LR, and 2 maxi-jet 600 powerheads. 2 96w power compacts on 10hrs/day. My tank is located about 10 ft away from a brightly lit, but diffused window. <OK> I have 1 yellow tang, 1 royal Gramma, 1 Banggai cardinal, 1 percula clown, snails, crabs, and a banded coral shrimp. Corals: 1 branching hammerhead, mushrooms, green star polyp, red kelp, and a finger coral. Personally, I don't think my tank is biologically overloaded. tank water chemistry: ammonia=0, nitrates=5ppm, spGravity=1.025, temp=80F, pH=8, Alk=Normal, calcium=450ppm. Replacement tap water: phosphate=45ppb, silica=3.5ppm. I do a 5% water change every 2 weeks, dose the tank with calcium and phyto/zooplankton weekly, replace evaporated water every few days. Also, I feed my fish lightly once a day. <Nice> My Problems: I am plagued by micro algae growing on the viewing panes and blue/green growing where the sand meets the viewing panes. <Not surprised> Also, my water is a slight green tint to it. The algae appears every few days. Is this unusual? <Not when you use tap water in your reef> All my corals seem to be flourishing except my finger coral. I can't seem to get it to open up or grow. It has been slowly (talking at least a year) shrinking in size. <It can be finicky-and demands a higher water quality than it's tankmates.> My Proposed Solutions (please let me know what you think): To fix the green tint to the water, I am planning on using activated carbon. <YES> However, I am not to sure what would be the best method to administer this. Since my tank doesn't have a overflow (so, I can't seem to reliably use a sump), I was thinking about purchasing a Marineland 125 bio wheel power filter. <You'll be setting yourself up for problems with nitrate later on.  For versatility, running carbon and water polishing I would go with a magnum canister filter.>  Does this house enough carbon to effectively filter my tank? It's rated for a 30g tank, but the 50g version won't fit on my tank with the skimmer. <You've got to overshoot here> For the algae and general cleanliness of the water I'm planning on adding more fine sand to the DSB (this is the first time I am adding more to it after 2 years, I know, I goofed) to a minimum of 3".<4-6 is generally considered a DSB> Also I was thinking about purchasing a RO/DI unit for makeup water but not sure if I need it. <Yes, this will help with MANY of the problems you are having.> In summary, my filtration system is: Bak Pak 2R Skimmer, power filter for mechanical/chemical filtration, LR, and DSB. Should this filtration system be sufficient? <You didn't mention how much live rock.  If you're up around 1+ pound/gallon, I'd say filtration is adequate.  In my 55, I keep 120 pounds of live rock, and rely primarily on my skimmer and regular water changes with RO/DI for nearly all my water quality issues.  Best of luck! Ryan> Thanks!  Jason

Lots of Algae  9/4/03 I read your articles in wet web media all the time but I still have question regarding algae the so called plants that grows so rapidly in my tank does this mean that my water quality is bad or good or do I lack nutrients in my system, still confused??? <Hmmm... when you say "plants" what do you mean?  Plants or algae?   I assume algae, and if you have a lot f it you probably have a nutrient problem.  If this is saltwater make sure your skimmer is pumping out dark nasty gunk.  Keep up doing weekly/bi-weekly water changes and remember not to over-feed the fish.  By doing tis you will cut back on the nutrients that the algae needs to have.  Thus reducing the algae you your tank.  Hope this helps!  Phil>

- What is it? - I have a 75 gallon plenum reef/fish tank with a 45 gallon refugium with 24 hour skimming.  I have two 150 watt MH lights suspended approximately 18 inches above an uncovered tank.  I feed flake food between once a day to every other day with an occasional feeding of frozen mysis (sp?) shrimp.  I conduct 5 gallon water changes weekly.  I have been keeping an eye on two small growths of hair algae that appear threatening but have not developed. What I am seeing increase though is the presence of a small seed like solid covered with what I presume to be hair algae.  I try to vacuum them up with the water change but I cannot seem to get them all.  Any info on what they might be? <Not at all sure... any possibility of a picture?> They do not appear to be fixed to anything, they simply float around. Could this be controlled by a gravel vacuum? <Possible.> Just wanted to say that I love your web site and all the things you do.  Sorry to say that I missed Bob Fenner hear in Denver a couple of months ago.  Any future plans? <Always, but none in Denver just yet... stay tuned to the daily FAQs and you'll see mention of upcoming events.> Thanks again, Scott <Cheers, J -- >

-Little green hairy "seeds"- I have a 75 gallon plenum reef/fish tank with a 45 gallon refugium with 24 hour skimming.  I have two 150 watt MH lights suspended approximately 18 inches above an uncovered tank.  I feed flake food between once a day to every other day with an occasional feeding of frozen mysis (sp?) <Mysis> shrimp.  I conduct 5 gallon water changes weekly.  I have been keeping an eye on two small growths of hair algae that appear threatening but have not developed. <With appropriate nutrient control you can enjoy small patches without fear of them spreading> What I am seeing increase though is the presence of a small seed like solid covered with what I presume to be hair algae.  I try to vacuum them up with the water change but I cannot seem to get them all.  Any info on what they might be?  They do not appear to be fixed to anything, they simply float around.  Could this be controlled by a gravel vacuum? <Hmmm... could they simply be pieces of gravel coated in hair algae? They'd be easier to remove by popping off the large tube on your gravel vacuum for pin-point siphoning. If you wanted to get them all out you wouldn't necessarily have to do a water change; simply siphon through some filter pad and put the water back afterwards. I wish I could be of more help! -Kevin>

The brown/red yuckies I have A 55 GALLON WITH PROTEIN SKIMMER, FLUVAL Canister filter live rock, live sand and have 5 damsels, my tank has been set up for 2 months, my ammonia is still a little high, problem is I am getting brownish red film forming all over my sand and a little on glass, what could the problem be, if this is a problem or not <Sounds like the beginnings either diatoms or Cyano. Both are a direct result of water quality issues. Are you doing regular water changes? I would recommend 3-5 gallons twice weekly until the stuff disappears and then 5 gallons or so every week as a part of your regular maintenance. Make sure you use a high quality filtered water for top off and to make change water with. Bet this will help with the other water problems (i.e. ammonia that should be 0) too.  Don>

- Kiss my Sargassum!!! ...or at least remove it - I am about 60 days into setting up a 55 gal reef tank.  About half of my 85lbs. of live rock is completely covered with Sargassum algae.  I am not particularly fond of its looks, and was wondering if I should try to remove it in order to grown corals later on. <In the mean time you can use it as a great nutrient export method by periodically removing large amounts of it. If you think it's ugly, then by all means, get it out!> If I remove it and encourage the coralline algae to grow and cover the rock surface, will it eventually prevent the Sargassum from returning?   Thank you,  Randy <Once it's all removed and hasn't grown back, I wouldn't expect it to return at a later date unless you reintroduce it. Good luck! -Kevin>

Algae or Weed - Is There A Difference? Hi <Hello there! Scott F. with you today!> I was wondering if you could help me out with a problem. <I'll give it my best!> I have what seems to be an algae problem. Although I have been told that it could be a weed. <Algae-"Weed"- to most aquarists, they are one in the same! LOL Algae are very important, of course, and "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", as they say...> Here are the details: 1) 2 foot marine tank 2) All levels are normal 3) Phosguard is now in (Although Phosphates may have been high before) <As you are aware, phosphates are a major contributor to nuisance algae blooms...> There is this hair like green algae all over the tank. It grows very quickly and is about 2 inches long in some places. It is  all over the live rock and substrate. <Well, it sounds to me like it could be either Bryopsis or Derbesia, both which assume a "hair-like" appearance, and are certainly nuisance algae to most of us!> Every couple of weeks I pick it out of the substrate and the longer bits of the rock, but it comes back with a vengeance. <It is indeed a very tenacious algae. The best we to eradicate it is to eliminate the causes. Fortunately, the cause of these algae is nutrient accumulation. More on this in a bit...> I have reduced the light to about 8 hours a day. <it can help, but light alone is not the problem...Light and nutrients working together is the problem!> First of all do you think this is a weed or is it algae ? <Call it what you want- it's an algae..> It is incredibly annoying and it makes the tank look like crap. Is there anyway I can keep it under control ? Or will it be there forever ? <There are a number of ways to keep it under control. Keep in mind that a little algae is important, but there is certainly a limit for most of us!> It is easy to pick off the long bits, but the short bits are hard to get off.. and I believe that potentially picking things off could cause spores to be spread ? <Well, the algae can spread and propagate in new areas of the tank if harvested carelessly...Best to remove manually and siphon at the same time> There has been a small amount of sunlight that has been exposed to the tank for a couple of hours during the day. I have now put a sheet over the tank (during the day and while the light is off) to see if that will make a difference. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated ?  Most people I have asked say things like.. "yeah its annoying.. there is nothing you can do about it"..  So hopefully there is something that can be done.  I presume that if it is algae then it shouldn't be as much of a problem then if it's just say a weed. Regards, Simon <Well Simon, it is certainly possible to eradicate this nuisance algae. The key is nutrient export. Mechanisms such as protein skimming (producing at least a couple of cups of dark, yucky skimmate a week), small (I like 5% of tank volume), frequent (try twice weekly) water changes with high quality source water (RO/DI), use of chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon and PolyFilter, replaced frequently, are all helpful. Maintaining good water movement, stable environmental parameters (i.e.; pH, high alkalinity, specific gravity), and proper temperature can all help, too. I've just touched on some ideas for nutrient control, which is the key to beating this algae...If you are diligent, consistent, and relentless in your husbandry techniques, you'll beat this algae, er-"weed" into submission quite easily! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Algae Growth, Coralline Die Off I had a few questions about my reef tank. Over a period of about 6 months I have been seeing my coralline algae die off my rocks and the back of my tank and hair algae start to grow.  What used to be fields of purple is now starting to turn green. All my levels pan out perfect.  My calcium is at 450ppm.  My carbonate hardness (kH) is at about 10 on the German scale.  I believe it is supposed to be between 7-12.  I use a 5 chamber RO/DI unit. There are no phosphates in my water.   <What about silicate? Are you testing the source water or the tank water. There will not be any phosphate in the tank cause the algae is using it up! What about the cartridges in the filter? On my RO/DI I have to change the silicate filter every 400G. Check some of these out> No ammonia.  No nitrites.  My nitrates sit in between 20 to 40 ppm.   <Bringing Nitrate under 10 will help.> I have 4 new bulbs in my canopy that I replace every 6 to 8 months.  The bulbs are 55 watt each.  Two blue, and two white.  I have a Berlin protein skimmer.  I have a Fluval 404, and a UV sterilizer.  My tank is a 55 gal.  As far as trace elements I used Reef Solution for the first 3 to 4 years, and recently switched to CombiSan.  My tank has been up and running for about 4 and a half maybe 5 years now.  The problems were starting to happen before I changed trace elements.  All my corals are thriving and growing and have been for many years.  I just don't want this algae to get out of hand.  I have a mated pair of skunk clowns, a mated pair of yellow shrimp gobies, Queensland Dottyback, and an algae blenny.  Thank you for your time, and can you please give me some advise.  Clint Conway   <Check this site (WetWebMedia.com) and use the search engine to find more ideas about controlling hair algae. Hope this helps, Don>

Uncontrollable Hair Algae - 08/14/03 Bob, <Well, not Bob, but I'll do my best> HELP... I have been battling a major outbreak of hair algae for over a year now. I did some equipment upgrades this past Winter which didn't solve anything. My local reef store has sold me chemicals that have done nothing either. All water tests I have done indicate no reason for this hair algae. [calcium 500, dKH 9, nitrate < 1, ph 8.2 morning - 8.4 evening, magnesium 1087, strontium 5, ORP 367, salinity 51.8 mS, temperature 80 - 81 deg., PO4 obviously is zero in aquarium water (algae consuming all)- calcium Rx effluent is .1 and RO water is .03 PO4, Iodide .03 / Iodate 0].  I have also tried the "clean-up" crew from GARF. Not much help, it grows back as fast as the critters eat it. <Well, first off, there must be something to feed that hair algae, it doesn't just grow from nothing. Have you looked at using a DSB to help denitrification? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm Reading on ahead, I saw the reference to the sponge filter, I would remove that. Unless cleaned almost daily (or better yet, daily), they become nitrate factories.> This is my set-up; a.. 75 gallon reef ready oceanic      b.. 60 - 80 lbs live rock (Fiji) on top of 2 1/2 inches aragonite  c.. Hamilton hood lighting with two fans, two 55w actinic blue power compacts and two MH 175w 10k. Originally actinics were on for 12 hrs and MH's for 8, but due to tank temperature increasing to 84 degrees and algae problems, I cut actinics back to 8 hrs and MH's back to 5 (about two months ago). Still no decrease in hair algae. Also changed out all bulbs 2-3 months ago. d.. Tsunami wave maker with 3 AquaClear 802 powerheads. e.. AquaC EV-180 skimmer with Sen 700 pump. 1 cup skimmate every couple days. f.. 1502 Korallin Kalkreaktor using Knop-Korallith g.. 20 gallon (10 gallons actual water) sump with Eheim 38 liter return pump. In sump is skimmer / one filter sponge / and return pump. Occasionally I'll use activated carbon. Also have cooling fan over sump. h.. Top off water (adding about 1 gallon a day); using SpectraPure LiterMeter Dosing system with a 13 gallon white Rubbermaid garbage can. Make-up water is supplied by a 5 stage R.O., Membrane changed every 2 years, prefilters and carbon every year. Reef store tested TDS and it was 18. (no problem there apparently). Every two weeks I change out 10-12 gallons of aquarium water using top off container as a batch vessel. (Mix Coralife salt with a powerhead at least a day ahead of time) I.. Live stock; 1 Blue Tang, 1 Clown, 1 Yellow Tail Damsel, 1 Yellow goby who recently lost his pistol shrimp friend, 1 cleaner shrimp (one died), what is left of GARF clean-up crew snails/crabs (had two emerald crabs but they died too), <The problem with most clean up crews, is that there are to many of them, they'll eat themselves out of house and home and then starve.> 5 bunches of finger leather corals, 1 brain coral, 3 lettuce corals, 1 bubble coral that is barely hanging on, 2 rose anemone that used to be as big as my hand. Now they stay about the size of a 50 cent piece, and have turned white in color over the last few months. <Ok, I think the lights are affecting the corals, as is the change in your feeding regimen. Your corals where eating the leftovers from your fish, and you've cut back on their food, as well, the light cut also cuts out another food source. As well, leathers are notorious for their allelopathy (hopefully this'll wrap), here's the link for the pages that reference allelopathy. You might want to up your carbon to once a week (run for 3 days [carbon fills fast] and remove it, and replace the next week). Be sure and find a low phosphate brand. Also, look at a phosphate sponge. Something else to try, would be a massive water change, say 3/4 of the tank water. Another possibility might be an algae eating blenny. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algeatrcontfaqs.htm mine scarves up hair algae, it took care of my problem in a few months.> One of them recently split in two. A few scattered mushroom corals. I am only feeding my fish a couple times a week to try and help stop algae. A brown algae also appears on the glass a few days after cleaning it off. All-in-all, I would say the corals are not thriving. When the lights are on they do not open up as they did before. The fact that I have lost several crustaceans, leads me to believe that is some sort of clue. When I first started this hobby in 1995, I had better results with much less equipment. I am sure you can understand my frustration. I have up-graded equipment thinking water/lighting parameters would only get better and inhabitants would benefit. Not the case! I hope I have given you enough information for diagnose. Thanks for any and all advice,  Randy <Good luck Randy, let us know how it turns out, and remember, nothing good happens fast in a reef tank. Have a nice night, PF>

-Preventing algae- Hi, I am in the process of setting up a saltwater F/O tank.  This will be my first attempt at saltwater and I have heard that I will get algae sooner or later. <That you will> If I do proper maintenance and do not leave the lights on for extended periods, is it still inevitable that I will get algae? <You'll get some algae, not necessarily a problem algae bloom. Check out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm for info on preventing problem algae.> If so, how long before it starts? <Within the first few weeks you'll get some diatoms (brown dust-like algae), then green algae. Not a biggie, just control the available nutrients. Good luck with the tank! -Kevin> Thanks, Larry

Algae Problem Hi WWM Crew, I have been doing  a lot of research on your site and I'm not sure what to do.  Let me start by listing my FOWLR set up: 125 gal. (long) glass tank. 20 gal (high) glass sump 2 siphon overflows (w/ sponge filters),  1 Mag-drive 9.5 pump (800 gal/hr) 150 lbs live rock 1" deep CaribSea special grade reef sand Excalibur protein skimmer activated carbon sack (after skimmer/before return pump) UV sterilizer 3 power heads (690 gal/hr total)  and 1 Rio 1700 (625 gal/hr) submersible pump in tank for circulation. Power compact w/ 2 96w pc 50/50 bulbs  on for 4 hrs per day Light strip w/ 2@30w 50/50 & 2@30w regular fluorescent   on for 12 hr per day Occupants: 1 Yellow Tang 1 Red sea Sailfin Tang 1 Purple Tang 1 Coral Beauty 2 small Ocellaris Clowns 5 Blue legged hermits 5 Red hermits 1 Cleaner Shrimp 3 Peppermint Shrimp 10 small snails 1 Hammer coral 1 Flower pot coral 1 green star polyp 1 Pumping Xenia Maintenance: 30 gal water changes every month with RO water Change Carbon every month dose 90 ml of B-Ionic calcium buffer every day (2-prts) Temp: = 80?F S.G. 1.0255 PH   8.2 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 0 KH 7.4 Alk 2.63 My problem is I got this brown Algae that covers the substrate.  IM not sure if its Diatoms or BGA.  I stir the substrate and it seems to come back over night.  The tank has been running for 10 months.  Any suggestions would be appreciated. <Check here for help with diatoms http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diatomfaqs.htm and her for BGA  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diatomfaqs.htm. Hope this helps, Don> Regards Mike

Algae and corals Hello I have a 75 Gallon reef tank with a 20 gallon sump. I have about 90 lbs of live rock, 5 inches of Southdown sand. A yellow tang A strawberry Pseudochromis Bubble coral Yellow cup coral Leather coral Star polyps. Open Brain. I had a really neat sail fin tang but he got sucked into my DIY Durso overflow. About a month after the tank cycled the obligatory diatom bloom seemed to fade away, I was getting a nice growth of coralline algae but then summer hit and the diatoms or some sort of red slime has hit with a vengeance. My parameters are: 0 ammonia 0 nitrite about 5 nitrate 1.024 salinity. Ph between 8.2 and 8.6 (took a water sample into the LFS and they got 8.6, my home kit was getting about 8.2). about 340 calcium 9dkh hardness. temp about 80. I have started using filtered water from the store instead of straight tap water as it seems to get worse when I add a large amount of top up water. My star polyps never open any more and are covered in algae, the leather coral does not expand much and his polyps do not extend, I have tried moving him to a lower light part of the tank, the cup coral has turned from bright yellow to a greenish color and doesn't seem to extend its polyps. Nothing bothers the bubble or brain coral. I feed the tang dried red seaweed which it really likes but the stuff breaks apart and floats on the surface. The tank is smelling of hydrogen sulphide and is rather unpleasant to be around. I cannot see any black spots or bubbles in the sand but I do have a plenum in the sump. I read on your site that this can sometimes create smells. It is in a high water flow zone with a lot of air being pushed into the water from the overflow so I doubt its anaerobic. Could the problem just be the crud floating on the surface? I use two Berlin airlift skimmers but they do not pull from the surface. The smell went away after the tank cycled but came back when the algae came back. Could it be rotting algae? I would appreciate any advice to get rid of the algae and cheer my corals up. I would like to add some more fish such as a six line wrasse but I found my Pseudochromis is extremely aggressive to anything his size. I am starting to lose my enthusiasm for the reef tank with the smell and algae. I would like to recover it before I lose all my coralline algae. <I would start large water changes (30% or so) for several days, siphoning as much gunk as you can. More flow will help as well as macro algae to compete with the nasty stuff. Try to get some surface movement as well to help with gas exchange. Hang in there and work on the water quality and you can come through this. Don> thanks again.

Algae Hey Guys!! I have this ugly purple algae taking over my tank!! I took the advice of my local fish supplier and he said to get an urchin, it died in 2 days. <ugh, better to fix what is causing the problem, rather than try to make up for it later.> I thought at first it was a coral but then this junk just kept growing and I cant seem to get rid of it :(   <coralline algae is purple, but is usually considered good.> I have a 55 marine tank with 4 damsels 1 serpent star a bunch of snails (that wont even touch the stuff ) 2 mushroom corals That I think are dying now from this stuff . and some hermits.. can you PLEASE help me out thanks Rita <Sounds like it could be Cyano bacteria, if you could get us a picture of the stuff we could tell for sure.  Cyano comes in all kinds of colors, check out the link below and the linked articles and FAQs to see if this is what you have and how to control it. -Gage  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm  >

Problem Algae 07/13/03 Hello WWM crew, <Hi Alex, PF with you> I have had some great luck with a 10 gallon nano reef and a 40 gallon reef. Never experienced algae problems. This time I decided to setup a larger reef system. Specs: Main tank: 135 gallon all glass aquarium 250lbs home depot play sand 200lbs Vanisi LR (that had major die-off due to it being stuck at the airport for 2 day's in the heat) 3 x 150 watt HQI Metal Halide with 10K Osram bulbs and 2 x 40 watt Philips actinic bulbs CPR overflow box rated at 1400 gallons/hr Tunze Stream pump rated at 2250 gallons/hr 1 Healthy Kole tang 5 peppermint shrimp Some snails/hermits (handful of each) Some SPS corals (frags doing well full polyp extension), Healthy Gorgonian, Healthy Chili coral, Healthy Spaghetti Leather, 2 Toadstool Leathers, Zoo's, Mushrooms, polyps all healthy (all softies soon to be placed in own softie tank, main tank to be transferred into clam/SPS only) Sump/ Other Equipment: 30 gallons 20lbs Fiji LR Mag 18 return pumping 5ft head Chiller / heater EuroReef 8-2 GEO calcium reactor RIO 1700 return for refugium Refugium: 42 gallon display hexagon set side by side with main tank 80lbs Fiji LR 40lbs LS 300 gal/hr CPR overflow box to sump 8ft Proquatics 240 gallon/hr canister filter with carbon only Some Caulerpa Xenia small starting colony Water parameters other tank info: Lights were on 12hrs/day recently changed to 10hrs/day (MH and actinic) Tanks is 5 weeks old PH 8.4 tested with test kit, Aquacontroller shows 7.90night 8.15day Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 0 Alkalinity approx 3.6 meg/l KH 12dkh Ca 620 too high, changed ca reactor use to day hours only also changed made output changes today ORP 425 Problem: All kinds of algae are dominating both the main tank and refugium. It's all over the LR and even the substrate. Corals seem to be capable of keeping it off their tissues but barely as it is all around them. Started with diatoms evolving into a feathery kind of algae and now also a bright green more stubby algae. On top of that maroon colored red slimy algae (Cyano I assume). I have ordered 10 Turbo snails today and also 50 Margarita snails. I am very reluctant to add any other planned SPS or clams as I really need to clear up this algae problem. Skimmer is pulling out every day 1/2 to 3/4 cup of fairly dark skimmate. I use on occasion ozone but not for more than 1 day/week at 50mg/hr as ORP seems to be high. Do you think that adding the snails will make a significant difference along with aging of the tank to become a little bit more mature? All corals seem to be fine and show growth. So does the Xenia in the refugium. Everything seems to be happy and doing well including the only fish, a 4" Kole tank that loves the algae. It just looks terrible with the algae. Algae even grows right in the path of the Tunze stream ejecting water at 2250 gallons/hr and also right in the return pushing an estimated 1200 gallons/hr and off course everywhere else. What to do? Thanks in advance and thank you for a great website and forum! Alex <Well Alex, I think the answer is that your tank is 5 weeks old. The vast majority of tanks go through cycles of algae before they stabilize. IMO 50 margarita's is too many. 10 or so would be much better. If the problem continues for four or five months, then I'd be worried. OTOH, have you checked for phosphates in your water?>

- More on Algae Control - Hi WWM crew (whichever), <Kevin here today> Yes I was right to warn all those newbies against anemones! <Haven't been following the message board lately, but you're right, anemones are not for beginners.> Anyway, I  don't literally mean that it is really causing the algae. But I have either turtle weed or very liberal amts of hair algae and I am pretty certain that it is from too many nutrients. I feed the fish first and then the shrimp as they steal food and then the anemone. <Daily anemone feeding? That's a bit much, unless you're trying to convince a BTA to divide or something.> One of the anemone has decided it is happy in the back of the tank which is  difficult to get at. <They never care about your feelings do they...> Since I didn't have the problem before, I am gathering that over nutrients is the problem. BTW, I am using the AquaC Remora skimmer. And doing 2 gal water changes weekly. I really want to get at this before it becomes  uncontrollable. <Have you run phosphate and nitrate tests lately?> I am thinking maybe I need something to eat it, since I am doing other things right. (Better coordination might help. Or selling them to the LFS. :-)) <No need to ditch the anemones, the cause of the algae problem is likely from a combination of factors, not just overfeeding the anemones.> What does a good job for a 40 gal? I thought that a small Kole might work? <Koles are best at micro algae, plus you'll have to remove it as it grows.> Other ideas: emerald crabs, lawnmower blenny (I have a bicolor so don't know if this is a problem). <You could try the lawnmower provided the bicolor isn't already overly aggressive and there's plenty of hiding places in the tank. If the algae you have is standard issue Bryopsis, see if your LFS has any "Mexican turbo snails", these are usually pretty huge (1.5-2" in diameter) and they absolutely plow through hair algae. A half dozen or so would wipe out most of the algae in short order.> I finally got my small bluer Coral beauty and he is in QT right now. Has a couple-three weeks to go. Looking good and has gained a half inch. <Coral beauties are gorgeous little critters, especially the darker purple/blue varieties. I take it he's well fed in QT!> Oh yeah other critters: bicolor blenny, Royal Gramma, cleaner shrimp, 2 BTAs (small), Rhodactis, star polyps, green stripped 'shrooms. Some snails and hermits. <Although I'm sure you've seen it, check out the algae control article http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm, make sure you have undetectable an undetectable phosphate level, little to no nitrate, and that you're top-off water is free of any nutrients. Good luck! -Kevin> --des

- The Never Ending des/algae Situation - No prob, Kevin. I've been called worse. heehee. Hmm, well this doesn't exactly jive with what I have read given I don't have a lot of light (144 watt), but I will cut down on the feedings anyway. <Although feeding is important, it is no substitute for adequate lighting. They can't get the same stuff from eating that they do from photosynthesizing (has to do with some type of carbon, I'll look it up if you like). That said, it's still going to be running on a negative energy budget if your lighting is not sufficient. Compacts are borderline, so who knows.> I got a suggestion from the LFS-- a royal or blue tuxedo urchin. He says good things about them. Might rearrange the LR, was his only negative comment. He said they were more likely to spread coralline than really destroy it. He is  usually pretty good on his suggestions, but I recognize he is trying to sell stuff! <Urchins may work, crowns stay reasonably small and shouldn't make too much of a mess. Diadema urchins are exceptionally good at tearing through the tough stuff.> re: Bryopsis <Ah, so you've battled before I see!> Yes, I ended up with quite a drastic solution. I put all the affected LR in a box for a month. Didn't do much for the coralline but it really worked for the Bryopsis.  Not sure I want to go that route again. :-} The tank has been looking great 'til I got the anemone and have maybe had them a  month. This is why I have been thinking it is the overfeeding. However, it could be that the critters and water changes took care of any serious prob.s before I got the anemones and this tipped the balance. <Well, the overfeeding seems terribly simple to fix. I don't see your anemone starving to death on a once a week feeding routine.> > <Check your DI water, make sure the cartridge isn't getting old. The nutrients are coming from somewhere, it's all about ruling out possibilities.> Yep I'll check this as well, though I haven't had the DI cartridge long. > <It's the nutrients that are the problem, not the sunlight. W/out an overabundance of... Well I understand this. But it must be a catalyst without which the algae can't grow. I have had three different setups and this is the first time I have had algae in the Nurce. This includes during my bout with the Bryopsis. Still I am inclined to think it is significant as I have never seen it before. <Could be, at this point, I think I'm out of guesses! Time for a pile of herbivores!> Yep no, Naso. BTW, the LFS guy did give me a nice hint for feeding the anemone, which I will try. He said the acrylic sticks with the point are nice (I have one) but the point is too dull for putting on small pieces of fish or shrimp, so he suggested sharpening with emery or utility knife. <I'm a get in the tank and feed the thing by hand kind of reef keeper myself. This is not to say I recommend sticking your hands in every five seconds... so much for leading by example...> So I guess I will test all waters-- nitrates, phosphates. Decrease my  feeding of the little anemone beasties, and try my LFS suggestion. But I'd like your  opinion on the blue tuxedo/royal urchin. I read the FAQs on WWM, did a search on both ReefCentral and WWF. Both look ok on this except for the "landscaping". Heck, I  have heard that big Turbos do this and I have a couple gigantic ones. I'll also be  adding a bit of PhosGuard -- well if I have phosphates that is. <The tuxedo urchin should be fine (may have referred to it earlier as a crown urchin, sorry), see if you can snag a long spine diadema urchin if that doesn't work.> And maybe  I should clean out the Nurce and start over on the water. Yuck. I can't wait. <Yum, algae scum. My fav!> NOT. <True that> Thanks again, --des I hope this is not one of those never ending threads of mine. I had a couple with Bob, and it was shortly after that that he got a team together. I have always wondered if I had something to do with that. :-) <Hehe, you never know...>

-The never ending des algae situation: Chapter 3- ><Although feeding is important, it is no substitute for adequate >lighting. They can't get the same stuff from eating that they do >from photosynthesizing (has to do with some type of carbon, I'll >look it up if you like). That said, it's still going to be >running on a negative  energy budget if your lighting is not >sufficient. Compacts are borderline, so who knows.> Hmm, well that doesn't jive with what I read earlier either, many different sources, including one of your buddies here. I was told that for a BTA, this was ok. Not fantastic but workable. <I'd consider "not fantastic but workable" as borderline, not that it was definitely inadequate.> Of course I suppose we shouldn't get into the Big Mac theory of anemone keeping? :-) <Let's steer clear of that please!> > I got a suggestion from the LFS-- a royal or blue tuxedo urchin. He says good things about them. Might rearrange the LR, was his only negative comment. He said they were more likely to spread coralline than really destroy it. He is  usually pretty good on his suggestions, but I recognize he is trying to sell stuff! ><Urchins may work, crowns stay reasonably small and shouldn't >make too much of a mess. Diadema urchins are exceptionally good >at tearing through the tough stuff.> Ok an urchin it is!! <Do it up!> > <Well, the overfeeding seems terribly simple to fix. I don't see >your anemone starving to death on a once a week feeding routine.> Ok will try this. Maybe feed right before a water change, would be ideal. <Doesn't really matter when you feed it, it's still going to "poo".> ><I'm a get in the tank and feed the thing by hand kind of    >reefkeeper myself. This is not to say I recommend sticking your >hands in every five seconds... so much for leading by example...> <Ew, I didn't mean that comment as I keyed it... I don't recommend sticking hands in the tank unless truly necessary!> It's not that I won't do that, example or not. However one of my anemones has decided to hide way way in the back. I  can't reach. I'm sort of thinking what fun are they anyway? He's ready to be replaced by a nice leather. I've heard some people have done well with them hosting clowns. I've seen some pics, prolly photoshopped but what the heck. :-) <Hah, maybe you've uncovered a conspiracy?> > <The tuxedo urchin should be fine (may have referred to it >earlier as  a crown urchin, sorry), see if you can snag a long >spine diadema urchin if that doesn't work.> Ok sounds like a plan. What about getting a small Rabbit fish and trading him in when he gets to big? I've heard they will just about eat any algaes. <Yep, but I don't see how that's much different than getting a juvi tang. Try the urchin, this may be an easy solution, who knows.> > And maybe  I should clean out the Nurce and start over on the water. Yuck. I can't wait. > <Yum, algae scum. My fav!> > NOT. > <True that> Delicious , you add some skimmate and it's wonderful! :-) Thanks again, --des did I warn you I was loquacious?

Knocking Out Nuisance Algae! Hello, <Hi! Scott F. at the keyboard today...> I emailed you a couple of weeks back with a series of  problems with my 40 gallon reef setup. My main problem was with hair algae that has been thriving for a good 4 months even though RowaPhos, and quite a number of steps have been taken to eliminate. What I did fail to mention was my tank is skimmed with a Prizm skimmer. Now I know now that these aren't quite rated very highly! Even though I don't have much in the tank, would you advise upgrading to a Aqua-C Remora, and would this go along way to helping?? My Prizm is producing foam but probably only have a dark cup a week! Please advise! Thanks in advance. Carl Stevenson <Well, Carl- the Prizm has a reputation for being a rather inefficient skimmer by many hobbyists. However, if you can tweak it to get a couple of cups of dark, yucky skimmate a week, than it's good enough for me! A decent skimmer should be able to extract two cups of skimmate fairly easily, even in  a system that is relatively lightly stocked. I think the Remora is an outstanding skimmer, as are all Aqua- C products. However, even the best skimmer will not do the whole job if other nutrient export mechanisms are neglected...Keep at the water changes, use of chemical filtration media, etc. In time, you'll win out... Remember, treat the cause, not the symptom! You can do it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

A Hairy Problem! (Derbesia) Hey  guys, small question for you. Little trouble with a green type algae... I looked through as much of the site as I could, harassed a biologist friend of mine and scrubbed the rocks clean twice... it's back ..from what I identify on the site it seems to be Derbesia? (sp?) ..Looks like small feathers or ferns... have a small convict tang and a lawnmower blenny but both seem uninterested. <I have a lawnmower blenny, and I love him- but these fish HAVE to be the most overrated "algae eater" around! Mine is much much more interested in frozen foods than he is in algae of any kind! I'm not totally surprised that your Manini was not too interested in your algae...No one seems to like the taste of this stuff! Although, if you crop it down a bit, some of the tangs or other traditional "grazers" will possibly eat it.> Tank is a 10 gal. mini reef set up.. I do weekly water changes... close to 50 % direct from the ocean... I live a block from the ocean. <Curious- what part of Kona are you from? Using ocean water from just about anywhere near shore can potentially bring in a lot of nutrients, believe it or not, and nutrients, as you know, are a big-time source of algae problems in closed systems.> Corals  are all open and have seen growth since the tank has been set up..6 months.. Coralline is looking good too. Any suggestions?. <Well, my suggestion for dealing with these kinds of nuisance algae is to utilize aggressive protein skimming, use chemical filtration media (carbon and PolyFilter) perform regular small water changes (like you're doing), and to increase water flow.> I have a Mag 350 canister filter for filtration... I keep that clean and change carbon in it bi monthly. Water parameters all in proper range.   Little frustrating this stuff! Thanks POG <I hear ya, POG- sometimes these algae problems plague us despite our best efforts at containing them! Sounds like you're doing okay. My suggestions would be to consider pre-treating your ocean water before use- I know that sounds insane- but it really is the best way to use natural sea water. Or, you could consider using a synthetic mix with high quality source water (RO/DI) to see if that helps. Let me know your progress...Don't quit- you can beat this algae bloom! Malama Pono and a hu'i hou!  Scott F>

A Hairy Problem (Pt. II) Cool, thanks for the cracking fast reply.. as always .. <We try our best!> Pre treat ocean water... as in letting it sit for a day or so? I get the water from a few different spots... no beach spot... vacant lot near my house, water is deep and always active movement happening. <Well, the preferred pre-treatment of natural sea water seems kinda ridiculous, but it works: Let it sit in a dark place for a week or so, filter with carbon or PolyFilter for a while, and then it's ready to go...Public aquariums that use NSW go to even further extremes...The thought here is that there is a potential for bringing in harmful parasites, bacteria, and other nutrients that will be of concern in a closed system> The stuff seems to be heavy on one rock <Seems to always be that way- one rock may have a supply of nutrients that favors the algae- even in a well-maintained tank like yours!> ..If all else fails I may return that one to the big blue sea and snoop for another one. <LOL> Thanks dude//ps: I live Kona side... a block from Magic Sands... South Swells are great this summer!!!! THE POINT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) Aloha dudes... keep <Sounds cool- gotta tear into some at Pinetrees soon... My backside moves are a bit rusty... Rip up a clean one for me this afternoon, bro! Later...Scott F>

A Hairy Problem (Pt. 3) Wicked...I'll try the advice on the sea water...lots of rocks in the sea...no surf today FLAT.. <Bummers..."Ya shoulda been there yesterday..." LOL...> The doldrums have arrived...I did notice that a few of the "cowry" snails I have seemed to be grazing on the hair algae? Is that possible or wishful thinking? POG <Well, POG- I think the jury is still out on those cowries...Some people claim that they just eat nuisance algae, and others claim that they munch corals in the process! My best advice would be to give one or two a shot and see how they do. Be prepared to move 'em on out if they start causing problems, however...Good luck! And pray for surf...South Swell on the way.... Regards, Scott F>

Knocking Out Nuisance Algae Good evening fellas... <Scott F. your fella today!> Just a quick question... I have a 90 gallon salt water system in a rectangular tank.  The front of the tank does receives indirect sunlight during most of the day and direct sunlight for not more than about an hour.  My live rock seems to be growing some nice burgundy encrusting algae (??) which Big Al's Aquarium said was a good thing. <If it's coralline algae, it's very cool!> I also have two small patches of green algae just at the front of the tank. It almost looks like 'Astroturf' from a distance and up close looks like a green powder (it's definitely not a hard algae). Big Al's said it sounded to them like a 'grass algae' which is bad. <Well, if it's Bryopsis or Derbesia, it can become a nuisance. In and of itself is not a problem, but it's indicative of high levels of nutrients- common in a new aquarium.> I have been through your algae section and couldn't really identify it. Got any suggestions on what it might be??  Does it sound good or bad? What kinda of critters would feed on this?? <Well, without a picture I have to speculate that it may be one of the algae mentioned above, or any number of other green algae. I like algae, but, like many organisms, you need to keep it under control so that it does not overgrow more desirable animals. The two algae that I mentioned can be consumed by herbivorous fishes, such as tangs, etc., if you keep it cropped low (it gets tougher when it's older and taller, so some herbivores may have trouble with it).> I have some blue-legged hermits, snails, pistol shrimp, coral banded, cleaner shrimp, black brittle star, some gobies and clowns. Know of anything that might like to eat up my green grass??  Dave <Well, the aforementioned hermit crabs, as well as tangs, Rabbitfishes, some blennies, and good old-fashioned "elbow grease" (i.e.; scrubbing and manual removal). Of course, the best solution is to prevent it from growing in the first place...Aggressive skimming, water changes, and overall good husbandry practices on your part can help export nutrients that can cause such blooms in the first place. Keep "fighting the good fight" against nutrients excesses, and you'll be fine! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Algae ID/Cyano trouble/mandarin feeding tip Just wanna report a few things and reiterate how important quarantine is. Because I FAILED to quarantine a small colony of red kelp (macro algae - right?), specifically Gelidium pulchellum. <Hey- you heard it here, folks!> Do you guys have any info on this species? <Do a key word search on this species on the 'net...There are some very good sites focusing on macro algae, such as those supported University of Hawaii's Dept of Tropical Agriculture, among others...Really good reading, albeit a bit academic...> It took me many hours to identify, it has spread and seeded red Cyano bacteria. <Bummer...lots of other possible factors, too> A battle I will begin with vigor!  (aggressive skimming right?) <Yep- and water changes with high quality water, and good water movement, etc...> Also, an apparent breakthrough! My mandarin seems to love "Zooplex"  from "Kent Marine". I was told this bottled liquid zooplankton came out a few months ago. Since I've been using it, my mandarin seems to "pick food" way more often and seems more energetic. Wanted to get the crews' thought on this product. <Don't personally use this product...Very interesting to hear that this product is having a positive effect on your Mandarin...Perhaps some of our other readers may have some experience and feedback about this product... Hey- if it works- Keep using the stuff! Do observe carefully, and observe the long-term effects of it's use (i.e.; impact on algae growth, water quality, etc) Thanks for sharing! Regards, Scott F>

Absent Algae !! >Hello Crew!! >>Hello Pat!  Marina this morning. >Well, a couple of months ago, I was having a terrible problem with hair algae.  I was really at my wits end with it, too!!  So, what I did was I first raised my salinity to 1.025 (it was 1.022), placed a Polyfilter into my canister filter, started dosing calcium every night, and administered Seachem Reef Builder twice a week.  Presently, my calcium level is at 375 ppm, my alkalinity is at 10 dKH, my ph is at 8.2, and all the hair algae has disappeared!!  The corals seem pretty happy, the coralline algae is looking great, and the fish all seem ok with it, too!!  My question is, was my approach to getting rid of the algae an acceptable one?? >>If it works, and you didn't kill anything except that which you desired to, then yes, it's acceptable.  Only ONE of the changes you made is *normally* associated with hair algae/nuisance algae eradication, but they (with the exception of the Polyfilter) are ALL associated with happy coral growth.  Go figure!  At this point, I say, if it ain't broke... ;)

Peach fuzz algae everywhere! Hi again, I've checked your (great) data in your site but can't find an answer (or cure) for my current algae problem. Quick history-Finally got rid of the infamous hair algae <gasp!> ,let the tank sit, and added approx. 15# of 'almost cured' Tonga rock to boost the systems bacterial basis. Things started ok, kept checking the basics for any spikes, then I noticed a 'peach-fuzz' like algae starting to appear- no listing in your archives, it appears to be light brown. I went on vacation and had a fish die, the babysitter son) left it there for 3 days although he did call and tell me it was dead the first day!) <Lovely, gotta love the fish-sitters> so I'm assuming this added to the mess I came home to. It seems to be under somewhat of control though I have lost all my algae control critters during the hair algae problem. Is this possibly a slight cycle ,I have ordered a algae control package for lack of anything left in the tank. Suggestions and possible ID?? <No idea what type of algae it is but try a long spine urchin or some pincushion urchins in combination with big snails and herbivorous fish. Check your phosphate level as well, it should be undetectable. To jumpstart the process, it wouldn't hurt to remove some of the worst covered rocks and scrub the algae off with a toothbrush. Good luck, -Kevin> thanks again, Steve.

Water quality and algal growth Hi guys , <Hi, PF with you tonight.>     After 3 months of a horrendous hair algae outbreak in my brand new 3 month old tank I decided to upgrade from a TWP de-ionizer cartridge filter to the SpectraPure 2000 5 stage RO/DI unit. I am relieved to say the Spectrapure is so easy to hook up to my faucet and it will cost me less money to make water in the long run as I was only getting 30 gallons out of 1 TWP DI cartridge. <Sounds nice> I do not have fish yet. My phosphates and silicates with the TWP were still too high at .22 and .80 respectively. <Yipes!> I had my aquarium water professionally tested for these results. <Would that we all could do that.>     The SpectraPure tech support guys were extremely nice and knowledgeable and I want to thank you for recommending their products. <I'm not sure who recommended them, but on their behalf, thank you.>     Now comes the scary part for me. I have just finished the massive undertaking of draining my tank, discarding the substrate, scrubbing clean the live rock, cleaning my tank and all hoses pumps etc . <Hopefully your not quite thankless chore will result in a nice looking tank.>     I want to now start over with my new and (hopefully) improved SpectraPure filtered water and live rock. I know to aerate my water for 24 hours once I mix in my instant ocean salt before filling my tank. <Don't forget to heat it, and balance out it's pH. RO/DI can change the water's pH, there are products out there that will bring the water in line with desired end of things (most offer 8.3 pH). Low pH contributes to algae growth.>     The guys at SpectraPure feel that I should no longer have a hair algae problem. Other people tell me that when my tank goes through its cycling process my hair algae will come back but eventually cycle out. <I'm one of those "other" people. A lot depends too on your feeding regimen, and the biological controls (i.e. clean up critters) you have in your tank. Certain fish and inverts eat hair algae.>      I really felt compelled to start over as my live rock was totally covered in hair algae and it was clogging everything. I am hoping the SpectraPure will be my a good part of my solution to this problem along with good skimming etc.     Do you think that after my diatom and green algae stage come and go my hair algae will come back even with my new water ? <Maybe yes, but nothing in this hobby is certain. I would recommend looking into a clean up critter package to deal with it when it comes back. Some tangs and blennies eat hair algae, as do certain kinds of hermit crabs and snails. If find it ironic that if you read through the older literature, having hair algae was once a sign that your tank was doing well, and I once saw a comment about how pretty it was waving in the current. My how things change. At any rate, the skimming should help. If you have an ongoing problem, there are phosphate sponges that can help to. I've heard (and seen) of success using PolyFilters and ROWAphos. Have a good evening, and good luck. PF>

Problem Algae Hi guys, <Hi Matt, before I go any further, your email came with an attached .dat file, hopefully not viral in nature. You might want to look into this.> I've got something I've been struggling with and nothing so far seems to work.  I have a green "slimy" type of algae that has started growing on my live rock.  It started small, but is now taking over nearly half the tank. <Sounds like Cyanobacteria to me. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm is your next step> Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are all fine, but I have noticed a decrease in material produced by the protein skimmer over the last couple of months. <Have you checked for phosphates?> Thinking maybe the pump was wearing out, I replaced with the "upgrade kit" to change my Berlin HOT skimmer (which is sitting in my sump) to a "turbo". While this has increased output to the skimmer, it's still not producing much at all. < You might want to do a google search and look for any DIY mod.s to boost output.> Water parameters are good as far as I can tell, I did have an actinic light go out a couple of months ago, but before I could replace my mushrooms were doing better, and all other life stayed the same or improved, so I just didn't replace the bulb.  (Still using 2 96W pc bulbs on a 90 gallon tank). <Well, as long as everyone is happy. Actinics are more for us than the animals/plants. Don't forget the annual change out though.> Any idea of what this is, or what to do about it?  I've tried finding an answer on WWM, but so far, not a solution... probably not looking in the right place. <See the link on BGA I posted above.> HEELLPPP!!! I'm very concerned about this condition. Matt <Well Matt, hopefully that link gives you all you need. Have a good weekend, PF>

Hairy Hairy Algae How do I control or better yet get rid of hair algae <Many ways to get rid of this, I prefer the natural way. Get a clean up crew (hermits, snails, etc maybe a tang <Zebrasoma species, or a Ctenochaetus species> the only place it isn't growing is where I have Cyano out-breaks . I have the Cyano under control now but the hair is killing me. Looks much like the shores of Mystic CT.<I am enclosing some links, do read more FAQ's about algae control at WWM, IanB> < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ctenocha.htm> < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zebrasom.htm> < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algcontFAQsMar.htm> HELP !!!!!

What Really causes Algae? Hello again, <Good evening, PF again> I am not sure you are correct in saying that daylight does not promote algae growth per se. <Well, I think it's more a matter of how things are defined, see below. > The values in my tank are immaculate: no nitrate, no nitrite, no ammonia, extremely low phosphates and silicates -I use Rowaphos religiously since the tank has been set up- Ph and alkalinity spot on. Nevertheless when spring came and the tank was getting more light I begun to notice a patchy green film on the screen and some hair algae at the back. I covered the tank during the day for the past 4 weeks and it all is back to normal... is it not the case that light is a type of nutrient? <I'd consider light more a catalyst than a nutrient> too much and algae will start? <Daylight itself is not the cause. Remember, all the animals in your tank are producing nutrients that will feed algae: aka poop. The daylight is adding to the available energy for the algae to use, but they still need fuel (nitrates of some sort) to grow. If you more aggressively skimmed your tank and ran/changed carbon (a phosphate free carbon naturally) the extra light would not fuel any growth. I'm not advocating you go out and buy a new skimmer and run carbon hardcore, covering the tank seems to be working, and is a cheap efficient solution. I know people who raise (and those who used to) corals in commercial style greenhouses, lots of sunlight there but no algal growth.> Cheers, Massimo
<Hope that clears things up, PF>

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

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