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FAQs on Marine Algae and Their Control 6

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

Related FAQs: Marine Algae Control FAQs 1, Marine Algae Control 2, Marine Algae Control 3, Marine Algae Control 4, Marine Algae Control 5, Marine Algae Control 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

Amongst the best general algae-eating fishes are the tangs of the genus Ctenochaetus.

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

The Joy Of Removing Algae From An Acrylic Tank! Hi Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I need some help with common maintenance.  My first problem is with what I am calling a "mystery algae".  These are tan dots that are growing on the walls of my aquarium.  These are not a light brown dusting like the diatom algae that is easily scrubbed off.  These are firmly stuck on the aquarium walls, much like a coating of spray paint (except dots are approx 2 mm in diameter).  I have attached pictures to assist in describing these dots (a close-up and a distance shot for relative size comparison).  Can you tell me what this is and how to best eliminate this nuisance? < Still, they do appear to be some form of diatom to me. Not all diatoms are easily brushed away. Attention to nutrient export processes, use of chemical filtration media, and a lot of elbow grease are the best ways to defeat this stuff.> My second problem is related to these dots in that my aquarium is acrylic (180g) and much effort is required to remove these dots. <As someone who has a love/hate relationship with acrylic, I can relate!> An algae scrubber pad will eventually remove the dots but this requires over an hour of intense scrubbing and is much more of a workout than I would like.  I have also used a credit card (stuck in a slow cut in PVC pipe).  This does require much less force but it has also left several scratches in the acrylic.  Last I purchased an "acrylic-safe" Mag Float.  These dots can be removed by continuous scrubbing with the Mag Float for nearly a minute per softball-sized patch but, the next time the lights turned on I noticed thousands of hairline scratches. <Yes, I've done that myself. I'm afraid that I don't have any great solution other than to "scrub carefully".> I have a minor diatom problem, which is easily removed with a quick swipe of an algae pad but these dots are a huge challenge.  What is the best way to clean an acrylic aquarium without scratching it? <Again, I have no other solution than gentle scrubbing with a softer scrub pad. If anyone out there has any techniques that they would like to share with their fellow hobbyists, we'd love to hear!> My last question is regarding what I assume to be Cyanobacteria in my refugium.  I have attached a picture of this as well.  Does this appear to be Cyanobacteria? <Yep> I am growing red Gracilaria in my refugium but this red/brown slime eventually trapped so many bubbles that it floated itself and the Gracilaria to the surface.  Assuming this is Cyanobacteria, I need to increase circulation, increase skimming and reduce feeding - correct?   <These are some of the keys to control Cyanobacteria outbreaks, yes> I am already flowing approximately 150-200 gph through this 20g refugium. I suppose I could use a small powerhead inside the refugium but I think the dense Gracilaria impedes the water flow so much that not much flow is present at the sand's surface.  I am already having trouble keeping the Gracilaria in the sand so I am concerned that the additional flow would make this nearly impossible (as well as resulting in a constant sand storm).  Do you have any recommendations for increasing flow under these circumstances? <I'd just use carefully dispersed flow from the powerhead, perhaps with a spray bar> I feed very lightly three times daily (fish consume all food in under 1 minute) so I do not feel I am over-feeding but my phosphate level is 1.0 PPM so maybe I do need to cut-back a little. <Maybe. Try two feedings a day for a while and see if you can notice a difference> I do use RO water and it measures less than 0.1 PPM PO4.  I am also using Phosphate sponge to attempt to reduce the PO4 level.  I think improving my skimmer might be my greatest need since I can only get it to produce about a cup of skimmate every 2-3 weeks.  I have a Berlin (non-turbo) skimmer, for which I have ordered a "foam jet" nozzle to replace the original venturi.  I have read that this change makes a drastic improvement in this skimmer.  Do you think I am on the right track or do you have additional recommendations? <I definitely think that you're on the right track! An efficiently functioning skimmer is your first line of defense. I hope that your modification will have a great effect!> Thank you so much for your help!  As usual, this email ended-up being lengthier than I had planned but I tried to provide enough detail so you do not require follow-up information. Greg <No problem, Greg. You already seem to have a good handle on what's going on, and how to make things better here. Keep at it, and I'm sure that your algae problems will be a thing of the past! Regards, Scott F>

Acrylic & Algae headaches (Bob's go) Hi Crew, <Hello Greg> I need some help with common maintenance.  My first problem is with what I am calling a "mystery algae".  These are tan dots that are growing on the walls of my aquarium.   <I see them> These are not a light brown dusting like the diatom algae that is easily scrubbed off.  These are firmly stuck on the aquarium walls, much like a coating of spray paint (except dots are approx 2 mm in diameter).  I have attached pictures to assist in describing these dots (a close-up and a distance shot for relative size comparison).  Can you tell me what this is and how to best eliminate this nuisance? <Some sort of encrusting green. The paths that might be taken to reduce, eliminate such pest algae are posted on www.WetWebMedia.com in various articles, many FAQs files> My second problem is related to these dots in that my aquarium is acrylic (180g) and much effort is required to remove these dots.  An algae scrubber pad will eventually remove the dots but this requires over an hour of intense scrubbing and is much more of a workout than I would like.  I have also used a credit card (stuck in a slow cut in PVC pipe).  This does require much less force but it has also left several scratches in the acrylic.  Last I purchased an "acrylic-safe" Mag Float.  These dots can be removed by continuous scrubbing with the Mag Float for nearly a minute per softball-sized patch but, the next time the lights turned on I noticed thousands of hairline scratches.  I have a minor diatom problem, which is easily removed with a quick swipe of an algae pad but these dots are a huge challenge.  What is the best way to clean an acrylic aquarium without scratching it? <Look to biological means... algae eaters/predators, competitors...> My last question is regarding what I assume to be Cyanobacteria in my refugium.  I have attached a picture of this as well.  Does this appear to be Cyanobacteria? <Yes>   I am growing red Gracilaria in my refugium but this red/brown slime eventually trapped so many bubbles that it floated itself and the Gracilaria to the surface.  Assuming this is Cyanobacteria, I need to increase circulation, increase skimming and reduce feeding - correct? <And look to reducing direct sources of nutrient influx, like your source water> I am already flowing approximately 150-200 gph through this 20g refugium.  I suppose I could ass a small powerhead inside the refugium but I think the dense Gracilaria impedes the water flow so much that not much flow is present at the sand's surface.  I am already having trouble keeping the Gracilaria in the sand so I am concerned that the additional flow would make this nearly impossible (as well as resulting in a constant sand storm). Do you have any recommendations for increasing flow under these circumstances? <You already have too much flow/rate through this refugium... please read on WWM re> I feed very lightly three times daily (fish consume all food in under 1 minute) so I do not feel I am over-feeding but my phosphate level is 1.0 PPM <Yikes! Too high> so maybe I do need to cut-back a little.  I do use RO water and it measures less than 0.1 PPM PO4. <Mmm, should be zero> I am also using Phosphate sponge to attempt to reduce the PO4 level.  I think improving my skimmer might be my greatest need since I can only get it to produce about a cup of skimmate every 2-3 weeks.  I have a Berlin (non-turbo) skimmer, for which I have ordered a "foam jet" nozzle to replace the original venturi.  I have read that this change makes a drastic improvement in this skimmer.  Do you think I am on the right track or do you have additional recommendations? <I agree with your looking into a better skimmer... perhaps an Aqua-C or Euro-Reef product> Thank you so much for your help!  As usual, this email ended-up being lengthier than I had planned but I tried to provide enough detail so you do not require follow-up information. Greg <Do invest yourself in time spent reading over the materials archived on WWM... the indices should be of use to you... and following the blue/highlighted links to other articles and FAQs where they lead you. Bob Fenner>

Re: Acrylic & Algae headaches Bob, <Greg> Thank you for your response!  I have spent hours reading through your terrific web site and I do have a few follow-up questions. Regarding elimination / removal of the "encrusting green" algae dots that are so forcefully stuck to my acrylic aquarium: By "encrusting green", are you saying this is a green coralline alga? <Nope... very likely this is a Chlorophyte... and not calcareous (though could be)... but NOT a rhodophyte/coralline Red> I have been trying to grow coralline on my LR for months with very slow progress.  I am dripping Kalkwasser and my Ca level typically stays around 380-400 ppm.  If what is on my acrylic is green coralline (although it appears tan-ish to me), would any attempts to eliminate this not also reduce the coralline algae I am trying to grow on my LR?  What methods do you recommend for preventing such algae on acrylic (I have read all WWM postings I could find on the subject, but need clarification). <Likely your lack of success in fostering red/coralline algae is linked with a lack of alkaline reserve... or possibly a poor ratio of magnesium with calcium (should be about 3:1. The green probably has little to nothing to do with the lack of coralline.> Regarding the Cyanobacteria in my refugium:  I have now modified my Berlin skimmer by replacing the original venturi cone with an external Kent venturi.  WOW -- what a difference this made!  I can now dial-in nearly any amount of foam I want to be produced.  I added the refugium because I want to add a pair of mandarin dragonettes to me 180g tank so I am building-up a healthy copepod population (I also wanted the Gracilaria for phosphate export and to feed my tangs).  Adding algae grazers to the refugium was a concern because I did not want to add anything that would eat the 'pods.  Would red and/or blue leg crabs be ok to add to the refugium, considering this? <I would not have Hermits here> I have read that some Clibanarius digueti, Clibanarius tricolor and even Margarites pupillius eat Cyanobacteria.  Which of these would you recommend in my situation? <None> Since I do use RO water and it measures nearly zero phosphate, I am not yet certain of the source of my high phosphate level.  I suspect it must be coming from food but my fish do quickly consume all food I place in the tank. <Mmm, still goes "into" the system... even going through them> I typically feed a 3"x4" sheet of Nori and Formula 1 or Spectrum pellets each day.  I also feed my BTA Selcon-soaked silversides about 2-3 times / week but this is all I really add to the tank (other than the Kalkwasser drip, using RO and a Kalkwasser reactor).  Do you think my 1 PPM phosphate level could be due to just what I am feeding? <Yes... or possibly your substrate... some carbon media...> Thank you for you (most-appreciated) help! --Greg <Sounds like you're well on your way... I would look into boosting the lighting on your refugium... perhaps adding some newer/fresh live rock there... maybe a deeper sandbed... Bob Fenner>

Re: Acrylic & Algae headaches Hey Bob, you're fast on the keyboard today -- that last response took almost no time! :-) Regarding the tan / green encrusting nuisance algae that is appearing on my aquarium, is there anything other than reducing phosphate and improving upon my skimmer you would recommend for reducing or eliminating this problem?  Flow is about 1700 GPH, lighting is 390W power compact (50% 10,000K + 50% actinic) and from the water parameters I sent previously, all parameters appear to be in-check except for the high phosphate level.  I have Nerites, Astrea and Cerith snails but none of these appear to eat this type of algae. <The use of competing forms of algae, in addition to what you have in your refugiums> Regarding the Cyanobacteria in my refugium, you suggested "Look to biological means... algae eaters/predators, competitors..." but you suggested against using hermits or margarita snails.  What other algae/bacteria eaters exist that would work in a refugium but  not eat the 'pods or Gracilaria? <Actually, sand stirring organisms like Nassarius snails, Archaster stars... their activities will indirectly disrupt the Cyanobacteria> As far as boosting the light on the refugium, I am already using 80W of power compact lighting.  It is so bright, it is beginning to bleach the red Gracilaria in some areas so I was even thinking I might have too much light.  Do you think this is a proper amount? <Yes, for Reds... as stated, do look into other species of algae> I do have very little live rock in the refugium - just some rubble pieces stacked in a corner but I have about 6 inches of aragonite sand as substrate.  Do you recommend I use even more than 6" of sand? <Not really... this is about optimum... the loss of volume from adding more isn't worth it>   I have also been using Black Diamond activated carbon.  It is not supposed to release phosphate back into the water but it has been in my sump for nearly a month now.  Could this be causing / adding to the phosphate problem? <Do soak some in a bit of freshwater and test that water for soluble phosphate> Thanks again!!! --Greg <Bob Fenner>

- Titanium Oxide use in Aquaria - To whom it may concern, A product gaining popularity in the construction industry called TiO2 produced by a company called Green Millennium is used as a photocatalyst self-cleaning coating application system whereas it uses the energy of UV light to decompose organic materials keeping buildings clean. TiO2 will not allow algae or bacteria to grow as well on surfaces sprayed with it. My question is does anyone know of its use in the aquarium, or am I just brain-storming? <I've never heard of this product's use in aquaria. How would you get the UV light to the tank to actually make this stuff work? You do realize that most aquarium bulbs do not produce light in the UV range and as such would not activate this compound or produce the desired results. If I'm not mistaken, this product is designed to work in sunlight. Am very doubtful that this product will produce anything but trouble.> Their Marketing Director claims there are no detrimental effects to fish, only to bacteria and algae. <Hmm... would that include the bacteria that make up a biological filter? Much to be skeptical about these claims.... does your man have this running in his fish tank? Does he have anyone using this material in their fishtank?> I have a 300 gal. custom marine tank with artificial coral that I do not want affected by unsightly algae. <You may have picked the wrong hobby.> It is not yet up and running. I considering spraying the product on the coral and glass only. <I would not do this for all the tea in India.> Could you imagine never having to worry about unsightly nuisance algae. <I can imagine it, but don't want to under these circumstances.> In addition, this may help with the establishment of Macro algae since there would be less competition with the ugly algae. <Perhaps.> As stated - it does not allow bacteria to grow on its surfaces because like algae, TiO2 will decomposes it. <Don't like the idea of the presence of a metal oxide in a marine tank... sounds very, very sketchy.> I want to spray this on the glass and artificial coral only. What do you all think? <I wouldn't do it for a million dollars.> Is this a great product for my desired use? <There is really no data that I know of that would point in one direction or another, but... it just sounds wrong to my ear. In the absence of proof, I tend to go with my gut instincts.> Or should I avoid its use? <I would avoid it like it was plutonium.> Chris <Cheers, J -- >

-Titanium Oxide use in Aquaria, Late Follow-up - Dear J --, Thank you for your reply. <My pleasure, sorry it's been so long since the original message.> I sort of felt the same way as you do, however I still thought I would ask. I do know that TiO2 has been used in Japan (actually I never been to Japan) for Koi ponds to help against algae. <Interesting.> I know that Koi is a tough fish however. Their director does state that they have many tests results in use with fish. You are correct when you indicate that UV light is a requirement. I was not aware that no bulbs exists that would produce the desired range. How about bleach to lessen algae growth... only kidding! <Right.> Chris <Cheers, J -- >

Another Dicky Shrimp and Mandarin Question >Hello hello!  Good-day to all!  Arg, I must be going through a transitional phase with my tank because I am just swimming (hehe, or is that "oh no"?) in questions!  This is going to be a long one, so please forgive me! :)   >>We shall try.  ;) >I wrote in about a very sick Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp recently -- I thought it might be a lack of iodine, but I failed to mention that I do weekly water changes, about 5 gallons (from a 55 gallon tank) and in asking around I hear this should be sufficient to keep the iodine in the tank at respectable levels.  If that's true then there's definitely something else going on with my shrimp because he's looking worse every day.  (Btw, I have had a miserable time finding an Iodine test kit so I added the lowest suggested dose as a precaution until my LFS can get a kit, Wednesday -- if the planets align properly). >>Honestly, it would be better not to dose at all until you can properly measure.  In the meantime, you should be able to feed it raw shrimp as a dietary source of iodine.  Another question for you is - Is this the only arthropod in the tank?  If so, then we might look to insufficient iodine/calcium levels as the culprit.  If NOT, then that is far less likely (assuming the others are healthy). >>In addition to the symptoms mentioned in my first email (weak legs that bent in funky ways, missing leg and antennae tips) I noticed that one of his little body parts -- something like a pair cilia-type deals located directly above his gills, inside his clear carapace, are moving *very* slowly in comparison to the much healthier looking shrimp I have in the tank.   >>That just answered question one.  I would have to surmise that there is something wrong specifically with this one shrimp, and unfortunately for it and the hobbyist, there is a real dearth of information on diseases of these animals.  I would recommend isolation (separate system) and watching the other animals. >(The healthy shrimp's "cilia" move impossibly fast, faster than I can count, the sick one's cilia flop up and down less than once per second).  I've searched for some sort of identification so I could give you the proper name of the part, but I could barely find pictures that were detailed enough to mention maxillipeds much less this tiny little inner appendage thing.  At any rate, this little gadget seems to have some brownish gunk at it's base.  Before he shed the last time the gunk was *very heavy* and the little thingie barely moved and it seemed it moved with great difficulty.  The gunk disappeared when he finally shed but it almost immediately re-infected him and is seemingly getting worse than the last time.  So, if this isn't an iodine dilemma what is it and do you think it's contagious?   >>It could be a bacterial, parasitic, viral, or other infection.  It's really very difficult to tell.  Isolate, and should you like to experiment with antibiotics I recommend Spectrogram. >My other shrimp doesn't seem to have any related problems and I'd like to keep it that way.  eek. >>Then definitely separate the sick one. >Whew ok, now to less-stressful things.  I have a minor (so far) problem with Cyanobacteria.  I used to keep a golden-headed sleeper goby (until I lost him in a very unfortunate heater mishap over a weekend when I was out of town) and he kept all that under control, but since that sleeper goby died I purchased a psychedelic mandarin dragonet to keep the prolific and newly-unchecked microfauna (namely Planaria) under control.   >>You, my dear, have a terrible nutrient export/control problem.  I suggest upping the weekly changes to 50% minimum, starting with one full water change (do be sure it's properly aged and matched for temperature, salinity, pH). >The mandarin eats just about anything it can find, including the Mysis I feed, but my concern is that those two fish seem to fill very roughly the same niche and I worry that adding a sleeper goby might take away a lot of the mandarins "wild" food, do you think these guys could happily live together?   >>They won't quarrel, but your system is likely slim as it is for just the mandarin.  Deal with the excess nutrients that are likely the cause of the Cyano issue, and the rest should fall into place.  Along with water changes, consider the addition of a refugium (make it approximately 1/3 the volume of the tank).  If you don't skim, a good skimmer might be very helpful.  You may also have an issue with phosphate/phosphorous (I don't know anything about the source water for your w/c's). >Like I said, the mandarin eats the food I feed the rest of the fish in addition to the "wild" stuff he finds in the tank, and my old Sleeper did the same.  When I kept the Sleeper he was fat and sassy and now that I have the Mandarin *he* is nice and rotund, but I don't want to compromise that by keeping them *together.*  And on that same note, I'm partial to the beauty of the V. strigata, but I've seen some other sleepers that seem to be just as dutiful, for my purposes (stirring the sand bed) would you suggest something else instead?  I don't mind the way sleepers re-arrange things at will, I just want something to shake up the sand a bit. Thank you for your patience and time!  Have a fantastic week! >>For the time being, I really think you should deal with these other issues first.  Worry about adding a fish to stir sand later, as a 55 is rather small.  If you MUST have sand stirring, consider an Archaster typicus (sandsifting sea star).  One ONLY. >Rachael >>Have a good weekend.  Marina

Attacking Algae Problems... Hey Folks, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I am starting to go nuts!!  My tank seems to take up every ounce of time I have, and with all this effort I am putting in I feel as if nothing is going right. <Yikes...Hopefully, we can get you back to your "happy place"?>   My LR will not seem to grow anymore coralline, its been almost a year.  I think more and more keeps disappearing, but then again, when you enter the "Twilight Zone" your judgment does get impaired.  I am developing a CBA Cyano outbreak, and  I have this red, velvety to fluffy, algae growing everywhere (different from the gelatinous CBA).  I am trying so hard to get my water parameters inline but certain #'s just won't budge.  I am constantly adding top off water, which is my own fault.  I put the system together last year for the first time in about 7 years.  I used all my old equipment.  Once in place and running there was no way to remove my wet dry box from underneath so I had to modify and use as a sump.  Well, its not big enough I guess.  Especially now that it houses a slide in refugium (still under development) two MAG  pumps, the tank return, a sponge filter and my heater.  Absolutely no room for anything else....let alone water. <Yikes!> So here's the dilemma.  I feel I cannot move forward on anything with this tank because I cannot get things right.  Here's what I have: 55 gal FOWLR, spg=1.021, ph=8.3, alk=9.8 dKH, ammonia=0, nitrites=0, nitrates=10ppm, calcium=300, temp=78-80. Circulation provided 2 X Hagen 402 mounted in opposite corners blowing towards center, Mag7 3/4" return from what I think to be a 20 gal sump (recycled old wet/dry). An additional Hagen 802 and the sump return are center mounted blowing toward front corners of the tank. Skimming accomplished by a Aqua C EV120 powered by a Mag 5 pump. Lighting is a Coralife 4X65W PC, 2 actinics & 2 10000K on for about 8-9 hours a day with the actinics coming on an hour before the 10K and off an hour after. 6+" DSB with 1" of LS from the Gulf of Mexico, 70+lbs of LR from the same, 2 Ocellaris Clowns, 1 Sand Sifter Star, 1 Brittle Star, a bunch of mixed snails, and what I think is the makings of a small Xenia (that's for another message) that hitchhiked on the LR and is growing steady. LR is encrusted with many bivalves as well......It think I covered everything.... <Sounds okay so far...Calcium may be a bit low (shoot for 350ppm plus), the specific gravity should be closer to natural sea water parameters (1.025 is a good target). Perhaps these parameters can account for some of the difficulty that you're having growing coralline algae> Oh yeah, weekly maintenance includes a 10 gal water change, and complete cleaning of skimmer and prefilters. I use municipally treated NY City tap water. Let it stand to dissipate chlorine at least 24 hours. No room for RO/DI system. <Well, that may very well explain your nuisance algae problems and persistent nitrate. Purified water sources (RO/DI) can eliminate many of the compounds which can lead to these outbreaks> Problem # 1.....I dose anywhere from 1tsp to 1/2 tsp of Kalkwasser nightly via a drip in a gallon of water.  I have also been adding about 1-1/2 tsp of SeaChem magnesium every 3 days.  I cannot get the damn Calcium number above 300.  What am I doing wrong?  I think the rest of my numbers are in line.  Why can I not get this number higher?  I feel that this is why the coralline is not growing.  What else can I do to get this stuff to grow?  Trace elements?  Lugol's? <Well, the answer to your concerns is not more additives. Yes, it would be nice to have 300ppm calcium, but there is a relationship between alkalinity and calcium. It's difficult to achieve both high calcium and high alkalinity. There is definitely a balance that you have to accept. Do test your magnesium levels as well. if you're going to be adding things, you have to test for them> Problem # 2....Cyano...I know I should be using RO/DI water at this point.  And I know that Phosphate test kits are not accurate, but I did buy a test out of desperation, and the phosphate number comes in at 0.05....I don't think that's high? <Well, it is high enough to contribute to a nuisance algae problem>   My nitrates are not zero, granted- but I have spoken to many other hobbyists on the board with water change regimens a lot more lenient than mine, higher nitrate levels, and their tanks are doing wonderfully.  What else can I do here?  Polyfilter? <Well, you do need to understand that every tank is unique, and what is good in one tank is disastrous in another. The nitrate, in and of itself is not the sole cause of your algae. It is, however, a "yardstick" of overall water quality. There is no one magic cure for algae problems. It's really a combination of things. Yes, PolyFilter and/or carbon can help, but you need to get to the source of the problem. Your source water will keep you at a slight disadvantage, so you may want to utilize RO/DI in some form; maybe you can buy the water from a "water store" if you opt not to purchase a unit.> Problem #3...and what of this red/deep maroon/deep crimson/burgundy fluffy type algae that is growing on everything?  I don't know what else to do and what else to check.  Doesn't seem like anyone want to eat it either. <It is definitely a Cyanobacteria of some sort. The bottom line is this: Nuisance algae problems are almost always caused by nutrient excesses, period. You need to address the root causes of this accumulation. Your husbandry practices sound good. I really think that a quality source water will solve many of your problems, as will increased circulation, smaller, more frequent water changes, and aggressive protein skimming...Make these minor corrections, and keep doing what you're doing> Guys please don't take me as whining like a baby.  I am just so frustrated!  I want this to work for me and it seems all I do is work on this tank everyday.  I just feel like I am always putting out fires of some sort or chasing the rabbit around the race track like greyhounds do.  My family constantly jabs at me because all I do is work on this tank...and its not like I have anything complicated in there.  What is it going to be like if and when I get to the good stuff?  The animal that I think is a Xenia seems to be doing well and growing.  the fish are happy, I just don't know what else.  I am not going to quit, but I sure feel like it.  I just want to see something beautiful in return for my hard work and effort...that all.  Please help!! Thanks as always, Louis <I understand your concerns and frustrations, Louis. we've all been there before. In the end, it's usually simple things done repeatedly over time that will win out. Your nuisance algae problems are not impossible to solve. You simply need to make some adjustments, stay the course on your maintenance practices, and keep a positive attitude. I know I didn't provide you with a magic solution, but hopefully, looking at things from a fresh perspective can help. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Nuisance Algae Nightmare! Hi again <Hey there. Scott F. with you today!> I set my Salt aquarium since May 2003 it is a reef aquarium with 5" of sand bed, live rock, I am using a Euroreef 8 skimmer, I have a Korallin calcium reactor, and all this in the sump, parameters look OK: PH=8.45 At peek of light ( two Hamilton tech metal halide 14,000 k ) Temperature= 75,6 Salinity= 1022 Nitrate= 0 Calcium= 390 Alkalinity= 5.6 Phosphates= 0 I had read all kinds of articles. I have Mr. Fenner's book and it says that if nitrate and phosphates are high this is good food for algae. <True!> Mine is 0 for both. I thought my test was wrong for phosphates so we ran a test in a friend's aquarium. His aquarium is around 2 ppm,  but he does not have algae problems. My rocks get green with different kinds of hairy algae. I scrubbed the rocks and it grows again, I had cut the light period, lowered the temperature to 74 Fahrenheit and nothing seems to work. I am getting crazy, please give an idea of what to do. I am new on marine aquarium but I studied a lot before starting my aquarium, but on this problem I am out of control and I do not know what else to try. Best Regards, Andres Saravia <Well, Andres- as you are finding out, algae problems can be among the most annoying problems in aquarium keeping. However, they are also among the most "solvable"! Algae problems almost always arise from an excess of nutrients somewhere in the system. You may not see measurable nitrate or phosphate in the water, but it is somewhere in the system, possibly the rocks. Also, if you source water has detectable levels of phosphate or nitrate, you may be unwittingly contributing to these excesses. Start by testing your source water. Another suggestion is to use chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon and/or PolyFilter on a regular basis. Work that excellent protein skimmer hard; make sure that you are getting at least a couple of cups a week of dark skimmate. Also, be sure to siphon detritus from the rocks and substrate, where these materials can collect and contribute to algae problems. Consider increasing your tank's circulation as well. Do some reading on the WWM FAQs about nuisance algae, where you will find tons more information. Most important of all, don't give up...Find a maintenance regimen and just stay with it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Enjoying His New Hairless Look >Thanks so much for this website. >>Most welcome. >I reluctantly removed all the bioballs from my wet/dry of my 90 gal. reef tank and it took a little while but the hair algae that was starting to get out of control is rapidly disappearing. >>Wow, only in conjunction with the removal of the bioballs?   >I had been doing frequent partial water changes also. >>Aah.. thus, my mantra - When In Doubt, Do a Water Change! >Nitrates have gone from off the chart to 20-40 ppm and hopefully with a few more water changes will soon be near zero. >>Do a few VERY large w/c's and you'll see better results MUCH quicker.  I'm talking 75%-100%  (yes, a full w/c can be done with well-aged water that meets and matches all other parameters). >But now that I have LR in my sump , I had two quick questions. Since I have no DSB or Caulerpa in my sump and I don't see it becoming a refugium, should I still put a light over the sump, and if so lights on opposite main tank or 24/7.   >>No, no need at all.  Specifically in regards to alternating lighting cycles, this is done to prevent large shifts in pH seen in small captive systems, especially those where there are large demands on certain minerals (i.e. calcium) which promote alkalinity/buffering.  If you have no macro algae to light, nor any other photosynthetic life which would require it, lighting would be entirely unnecessary.  Consider making the sump a refugium in the future, though, I think you may be pleased with the results. >Right now I added an old 15 watt fluoro. from a smaller tank I used to have (don't know if this had anything to do with hair algae going away or not).   >>No, not entirely unrelated, but if it were, the effect would be the opposite.  In any event, to grow even Caulerpa, 15W, unless very close to it, would be ineffective. >Second would it be worth my money to purchase one of those mini 27 watt CSL mini lights with the actinic/white combos? >>Nope, not to light live rock. >Thanks again for all the great help!  Kevin >>Very welcome Kevin, enjoy your new hairless system! Cyano or Brown Algae - 2/27/04 I searched your website, but could not find answers about the algae in question. <Lets see what I can do>  I have a 55 gallon ecosystem with 60lbs of live rock.  It also has a sugar fine sand bed 3 inches but two engineer gobies keep sand bed moved around.  Example: 1" in one spot, 5" in another. Water flow app. 900 gallons per hour.  4-110watt VHO, 2-50/50, 2-super actinic. I developed a rusty brown to red fuzzy micro algae that I cannot get rid of.  <Sounds like Cyano but could be any other type though> I have been diligent with water changes and have even gone periods without feeding the tank, except calcium and buffer.  Calcium runs +/- 400.  Alkalinity around 4. Fish: clown fish, 2 damsels, lawn mower blenny, yellow tang, mandarin goby,  2 engineer gobies. Garden display reef,  30-40 corals all  seem to be growing. Bubble tip anemone has split twice.  The algae was introduces with macro algae for sump.  Algae continues to grow even with periods of non feeding especially on corals like clove polyps, between mushrooms, and between rocks.  What is it? <Well, we note info on our website for algae and algae control. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm There is no magic answer here. Diligence, continual upkeep is the best solution.> Will something eat it? <Check the links on the page I listed above> Should I have critters  (i.e. hermit crabs or snails) in sump? <Not necessary may even be counter productive>   I am not sure if I have enough information for you.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <All of our suggestions are on the site under the link above. More maintenance as described in our FAQs section is about as much as I can tell you. No silver bullet, per se ~Paul> Barbra Buehrer

Algae Wars hey guys, <Hello! Ryan with you> I have a 100 gal SeaClear with 2 Fluval 404s a CPR dual BakPak ( pulls about a half cup a day of brown stuff in both collectors every day) and a 804 power head to aid with circulation. I have attached a pic of the golden brown stuff that is all over the tank. I have started to get a green film on the front pane but this stuff goes away and comes back each morning about an hour after the power compacts come on. parameters are sal. 1.023 ammonia  0 nitrite  0 nitrate 5-10 ph 8.2 kH  10 calcium 400 temp  78 phos none detected I do a 25% water change every 2 weeks religiously. <Switch it to weekly until you get this under control.  Are you testing your source water for silicates?  I would switch to RO water if possible.> I have a 3-4 inch  crushed coral substrate with 55 lbs of live rock.  <3-4 Inches of crushed coral is trapping lots of gunk!  I would suggest replacing this with live sand. http://wetwebmedia.com/livesand.htm>   stock of fish is 1 lemon peel 1 banner 1tomatoe clown 1 psychedelic <How are you providing pods for this semi-obligate feeder?> 3 emerald crabs 2 brittle stars 1 coral banded 1 horseshoe 1 Sebae anemone 50 hermits (blue and scarlet) 50 snails (turbo Margarite Nassarius Trochus) feeding is 2 times a day all is cleaned up within 5 minutes. <OK> dose 2 times a month with 1 cap of marine snow for anemone. <Target feeding?  Marine snow is certainly not enough.> water is now getting cloudy on top of all else. <Add up all the circulation in your system.  It should be 10 times turnover rate per hour.  You may want to add a dedicated closed loop circulation system.> using floss carbon (  about 2 table spoons) and bio max in one Fluval and floss and bio max in the other. have bio material in the CPR as well. what is causing the water problem and brown stuff. <You don't really need all this biological media: It may be leading to some of your problems.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm> I age my water in a aerated and circulated trash can a week in advance tested water in can and don't see a problem there. Help! should I get a refugium? <Never hurts, certainly would benefit your livestock.> try to follow Mr. Fenner's book as best as I can. starting to see coverage on nice live rock that finally began showing a lot of nice colors. what do you suggest. <I suggest: Better source water, RO/DI.  More circulation, at least 10x.  More live rock, you should have nearly 1 pound per gallon ideally.  Replace crushed coral with live sand.  I know this sounds like a lot, but all of these voids can lead to algae problems.  Good luck, and keep researching! Ryan>

First Algae! I have a 100 gallon saltwater tank that has been running for about a week now.  All of the water tests are turning out according to recommended levels.  I have noticed that the live sand is turning a light brown color.  It was an off white a week ago.  Is there anything that I should be concerned about with this color change? <Nope, it is just algae rowing on you sand.  This is the first of a few different types you will encounter in your aquarium career.  You can also find lots of info on all this and more at our site: www.wetwebmedia.com.  Cody> Thanks, Steve.

First Algae II Thanks for the info. <My pleasure!> Do I need to do anything to get rid of the algae or do I just leave it alone? Thanks, Steve <You can just leave it alone.  If it starts to get out of hand you can add herbivorous animals to keep it under control.  Many of the fish offered in the trade are herbivores so the algae is essential to them as a food source.  Cody>

Algae Problems! Hello Sirs, <No "sir" required- just Scott F. with you today!> Thank you for this site, it is great, I have read lot of your answers about high Ph and still I will send this question,  My 400 litre tank has Ph 8.7. KH is 9.9. all parameters Nitrate, nitrite, ammonium, phos and silicate are 0.  The tank is 9 months old and I have 4 fish ( yellow tang, blue tang, Salarias and one blenny) and one brittlestar, 3 corals and some Turbos. My problem is dirty looking algae and high Ph, The algae is green on the bottom and brown on the top, I can siphon the brown part off but it comes right back, the algae is really dirty looking, it crows also on glass and when I clean it with a sponge and when rinsing the sponge the water is almost black. So how to get things right ??  Should I use baking soda? What can I do with the dirty thing ?? <Well, nuisance algae are always caused by  a combination of excessive nutrients and light. Really, the first step is to rethink your nutrient export processes. Protein skimming is your first line of defense here. If you are not utilizing a protein skimmer, do consider purchasing one, as it can make a huge difference in reducing dissolved organics. If you already have one, be sure to adjust it to produce a couple of cups full of dark product per week. Much of the nutrients may be bound up in the rocks and substrate, hence your low levels of compounds like phosphate shown on your test kit. Also, be sure to utilize quality chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon, or Poly Filter pads. Continue your regular water changes, removing any detritus that you encounter during the process. with your continued effort, these procedures will ultimately defeat your algae problem.> The Ph has been this high for 7 months, so it hasn't dropped over time. <This is a bit unusual. Does it vary from day to night? Also, what is the pH of your source water, prior to mixing salt?> I have changed water every week, about 20 litres, also I  ship on the algae off the rocks and every where.  Help, Please, my tank don't look good at all...Thank you again and greetings from Finland John <Well, John, I think that you're on the right track with your frequent water changes. Don't get discouraged by the continued algae growth. Given time and your efforts, it will eventually go away. Try to find the source of your algae bloom, and correct it if possible. You can do it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

New tank algae issues - 1/30/04 You guys are an invaluable resource. <Thanks and so are those who choose to ask questions to be placed for all others to learn from> 40 gal 130w pc moonlight fixture (actinic 12 hours, 10K - 10 hours) Remora Pro 2 Aquaball PH HOT Magnum (running only micron filter) 35 lb live rock (cured) 60 lb live sand (4") 2 clowns 1 tang 1 Chromis 1 Jawfish 5 Narc snails 4 turbo snails emerald crab sally long legs crab arrow crab 1 green star polyp running 5 weeks since cure and cycle <A very new tank> Water tests perfect for 5 weeks temp 77 - 79 only problem other than minor green algae on LR (over coralline) is recurring Medium Brownish colored patches over the sand bed.  No thickness, not even joined together - like the top thin layer of sand changed color.  I have raked this a few times and comes back a day or so later.  Per DSB sand research, I'm trying not to disturb it too much. <OK. Well, this is part of the cycle still. Just because  there is no Ammonia, Nitrite, or Nitrate reading doesn't mean there aren't other parameters still "aging" and "maturing" the water. This is part of the new tank syndrome (as it were) What is it? <Knowledge is power, my friend. Here are a few of my favorite links with more links to areas of interest to you (Be sure to click blue links  to other areas of interest): http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/biological/biofiltr.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgae.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-01/eb/index.htm (note MYTH 15 this is the most important point and the one that relates to you) Any idea about how to control it and what caused it? <Please read through the links above and gain knowledge from others past experiences. There is no reason to re-invent the wheel here. The information is there for the taking. Good luck ~Paul> Thanks a bunch! Rick

The Algae Phase... Hi Scott <Hi there!> How are you? <Just fine, thanks! Hope that you're well!> I am having a bit of an algae problem in my tank.  I am running my lights on during the day as well now and this is causing an increase in algae. <Well, remember- it's light AND nutrients...> Its not think sludgy algae but rather the brown dusty type on the front back and side glass of the tank on the front substrate as well. <An absolutely normal part of any new tank start up.  It will pass with time and aggressive nutrient export mechanisms. Not fun to go through, but it is sort of a "right of passage" in almost every tank.> Really does not look good and if I clean it its back in no time.  How can I get rid of this. <Take a look in the Articles and FAQs on the WWM site. we have some great stuff on nutrient control and nuisance algae elimination. Lots of tried and true ways to combat these yucky algae!> Will an introduction of Caulerpa in my sump combat the algae? <Caulerpa or other macroalgae can help combat the nuisance variety by competing for the same nutrients, but there are other steps (all covered on the WWM site) which should be taken, too.> Thanks Ziad <My pleasure, Ziad! With a little time, a few adjustments, and a lot of perseverance, you'll knock out these nasty algae soon enough! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Toxic Algae? (1/27/04) Hi, <Howdy. Steve Allen here.>    I have Brown Algae, not like the one I had when my tank was new, that seems to get my Yellow Tang sick. My tank went through all the algae that I know of. Now the tank is almost free of algae but there are these Brown Algae that just won't go away.    My Yellow Tang was sick and it was in the hospital tank. When I put it back to the main tank the Yellow Tang was doing ok for a day or so and it was eating those Brown Algae. Then the Yellow Tang stopped eating altogether and its fins were collapsed. <Certainly something is amiss. Unlike people, fish are usually smart enough not to eat things that are dangerous to them. Hard to say for sure that it's the algae itself versus something else in the tank.>    Every time the Yellow Tang is in the main tank and eating those Brown Algae, it gets sick. This is just my assumption but I check the water and it was ok. <Zero ammonia and zero nitrite?> Only thing I can think that could have gotten my Yellow Tang sick is the Brown Algae that I haven't seen before.  Can you identify this Brown Algae, or stuff, is? It is darker brown then the brown algae that I had when my tank was new. <Kinda hard without a picture. I'd suggest you have a look at Julian Sprung's "Algae: A Problem Solver Guide." You may find it in there along with some good information on ridding one's tank of undesirable algae.> Hans

Algae issues - 1/23/04 Finally I set my marine aquarium 150 gallons reef and every thing was going fine,< Ahhhhh, a new aquarium. Very nice> it has been set for about 6 months but in the last month I had algae problems and now my aquarium looks like a golf court with filamentous algae all over the rocks even on an Spondylus americanus, <Well, the first nine months are still somewhat hit and miss when it comes to cycling. I subscribe to the point of view that just because your tank doesn't have any measurable nutrients doesn't mean that your tank is finished cycling. See here: http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-01/eb/index.htm In any event, I think it is important to note that the best way to battle algae is to look to the root causes of its existence. Usually related to low water circulation, high nutrients from over feeding or not timely enough water changes. Also, be aware of any other chemical constituents that are being added to your setup. I wouldn't add anything to your tank unless you test for it. Just add top off water and change the water at least once a week or so> I had my temperature around 78 Fahrenheit and I am lowering the temperature to 74 Fahrenheit, <I don't feel this is necessary or will do anything to curb algae growth> also using my skimmer EuroReef 8, <A great idea> also I am cutting the light period from 10 hours to 7 hours per day. (Two metal halide 250 Watts 14000 K) <Not exactly necessary either. If you have corals I would especially not do this. Water changes (with quality mixed saltwater) and keep nutrient levels as low as possible (nitrates as well as phosphates or even an overdose of iodine). Also, give the tank some time to really settle in. The article above says it all. I have subscribed to that ideology for some time. Additionally, can you add some snails and hermit crabs? They will aid in keeping hair algae to a minimum. Please read our articles and FAQs on algae reasons and cures here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and this entire page is really helpful as well: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm Just click the links that most apply to you. Last weekend I scrub the life rocks to take as much algae as possible but I am worried about this crazy blossom, it took me at least 10 ours to clean the entire system. <Wow, I can believe it. Knowledge is power my friend and you are well on your way. Will take some time and diligence.> I made a phosphate test and it looks like is on the parameters. Any suggestions? <See above and read like your tank depended on it>

Nuisance Algae (1/20/04) Hi Chris here from Tauranga, New Zealand. <Steve Allen here. Live in Utah, but visiting Bob in beautiful Kailua-Kona this week.> I am having this problem currently with my marine aquarium. I have an algae in my tank that is a red at first in color and then brown, <Rusty brown dusty stuff would be diatoms. The other would be Cyanobacteria. Either way, a problem of too much fertilizer in the tank.> I have large quantities of air bubbles on it, it grows upwards in a string-like fashion, I grows up the tank glass and looks bloody terrible. <Sounds like hair and slime algae.> My tank is 6Ft long, then 400cm by 400cm, I have fish, Tangs (blue and yellow) I have a green Rasp and many more <not too many, I hope>, I also have cleaner shrimps, A clam, I have a sea anemone. Can you please tell me what it is or help me understand how to get rid of it. <Test your water for phosphates and nitrates. On or both of these is likely high enough in your system to be fertilizing this. You need lots of light for the anemone. This accelerates the growth as well, but if you get the nutrient load down, the bad stuff will go away eventually.> IT DOESN'T SEEM TO AFFECT MY MARINE LIFE, The fish seem to nibble at it occasionally it is the view from the out side that is alarming. I have asked many people in new Zealand how to deal with it know one seem to know how to actually get rid of it though. <Keep the nutrients down by not overfeeding or overstocking. A good water change regimen is vital. Use a phosphate remover if yours is elevated now. Start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/scottsh2ochgart.htm  > Please help <hope this does> Kind regards, Chris.

Will An Angel Save Me?  Not This Time! >Marina, >>Hello. >I did not have time last night, but I tested my water tonight.  All perfect and Nitrates under 2.5.   >>This doesn't tell me much, what was tested for?  Also, algae tends to fix nutrients, especially phosphorous. >In the future, before you start INSULTING people and telling them to get a handle on nutrient export "assuming" like all you so called experts do that we all overstock and overfeed our tanks why don't you "ask" what my water quality is if I didn't tell you?   >>I never claimed to be an expert, only experienced.  I can surmise that there are issues if you're consistently having "bad luck" with fish like tangs.  Unstressed fish are able to fend of infections and parasitic infestations - poor water quality = stress.  Seen it more times than I can count. >I didn't email you to have you insult me and my fishkeeping ability. >>Maybe not.  Insulting you wasn't my intention.  Educating you was. >I simply asked if you knew any Angels that eat hair algae.  I am not stupid. Everybody knows Lawnmowers eat hair algae.   >>Oh, you'd be surprised!  Not everyone does. >I don't want one.   >>Fair enough. >I have a 38 gallon tank with 15 pounds of dead rock and 15 pounds of live rock, a Fluval 203 with one whole liter of Matrix crammed into it and all the bio-rings that came with it that has been set-up for 3 months and I have never had more than one fish in it at any time (a Damsel to condition the tank and currently a Yellow Twinspot Hog) and both were under 2 inches so I would say my water quality is fantastic. >>Alright then.  Apparently you know best.  Good luck with your algae problem. >I knew that without testing it, but went ahead and tested it to prove it to you so you won't continue insulting people by automatically assuming their water quality sucks. >>You *do* realize that you've proved nothing to me, right?  I didn't see the test, the kit, or the results.  ;) >You know what happens when you assume. >>Ah yes, here it comes..! >YOU MAKE AN ***HOLE OUT OF  YOURSELF! (Edited for content) >>There, do you feel better now?  Good luck with the algae, and the fish.. well, ALL the "luck" in the world, because it appears that's what you rely on, eh? Mark  -  Federal Investigator >>Marina, Local Assumer and Insulator.

- Goodbye -  I am a Federal Investigator. <A civil servant... do you treat all people who help fund your paycheck like this?> Luck has nothing to do with anything I do. <You will learn different one day.> Just the facts. They are the only things that hold up in court. <This is not court, it is a fish tank... there is no judge to arbitrate.> I tested PH, Ammonia, Nitrates, Nitrites and Alkalinity. All perfect. <If I had a dime for every time someone said that to me, I'd have at least a hundred dollars. There are so many things that can be 'wrong' with tank water that will never show up on a hobbyist test kit. You should understand that we field hundreds of questions each day with people who claim their water is perfect when in truth it is far from perfect. Forgive our combined skepticism.> Who said I had an algae problem? I didn't and I don't. I emailed you to ask if there are pygmy's that eat hair algae. I DID NOT SAY I HAD A HAIR ALGAE PROBLEM! <"I have a lot of hair algae." Who said that? I think you did. Is it not a fair assumption that if someone says this, and then asks about something that might eat it, that they in turn have a 'problem' with hair algae? I think you need to relax... stop splitting hairs over semantics. We are not on trial here. To answer your question directly, no, there are no pygmy angels that I am aware of that eat hair algae.> I have less than 1% of my live rock with hair algae on it.  I have about 50% covered with a lovely purple coralline algae. You have so many people emailing you and sucking your **** or **** (Edited again for content) whichever that is with a name like Marina I am assuming you are a woman you can't handle somebody telling you where to go. It is sad to see you be so petty that you have to instantly belittle people e-mailing you for advice. I was not emailing you anyway, I was emailing Anthony who gave me great advice before.  <Ever hear of that Rolling Stones tune, "You can't always get what you want..."?> Why did you have to answer my email and not him or somebody with tact and a personality.  <Mark, please find a new place to ask these questions. Your rudeness and inappropriate language are simply not welcome here. I've bcc'd this to Anthony, just in case he wants to respond to you, but somehow I doubt he would tolerate this type of treatment of a fellow crew member.   Farewell, consider your mail blocked/deleted from the WWM crew mail box.  J -- > 

Mushroom Corals... and e-mail etiquette/considerations 1/20/04 Anthony, Thanks for the advice on the Mysid shrimp. My mushrooms are doing well.   <very welcome... good to hear.> I have read that it is controversial to feed them. <Hmmm... no controversy here. Just perhaps the wrong hobby literature across your desk. Corallimorphs are clearly known not to be fully autotrophic. Some feed heavily organismally, others more so by absorption... but all will starve in time if not fed at all (they cannot be sustained by photosynthesis alone). Some aquarists escape target feeding if they have enough incidental matter (fish food/feces... other corals being fed, rotting/recycling nutrients from macroalgae, etc.) in the system. But have no doubt that they are feeding> What is your advice?  Some say never feed them at all.   <it depends on the species. Research the needs of each as you would any other coral. For example, Ricordea are unique in the group as weakly feeding organismally and needing, or at least tolerating, much brighter light than most other Corallimorphs. The general rule for the most 'Shrooms however is low to moderate light and moderate to heavy feeding (Discosoma, Rhodactis, etc)> You will be happy to know I have one fish in a 38 gallon tank, lol. I bought a Twinspot Hogfish.   <ahh, yes... a fine fish for small aquaria. 4" max at adulthood> He is fantastic. Eats anything and is constantly cruising the tank and when I sit next to the tank he comes right up to me begging for food.  I also thought your email was very well worded and I was happy to read your, "thank you very kindly my friend......" at the end. Along those line, I wanted to bring to your attention a rude person, Marina, who answered my recent email and felt the need to insult my water quality and my fishkeeping ability. <I have had a chance to read the communications between you two and really don't see the chide. I suspect instead that this is more of a case of the medium (e-mail) being limited and allowing an interpretation that was not there (whatever it is that inflamed you). Regardless, your use of an expletive was truly uncalled for. I'm hoping you imply were having a bad day/week and see things differently now. More importantly, I hope that you are in better spirits. This is, after all... just a hobby. A very pleasant and relaxing one at that. Nothing we do or say (not the least of which by the impersonal medium of e-mail) should get any of our panties in such a bunch. No worries> All I did was ask if you or Bob if you knew of a pygmy angel that ate hair algae. I did not say I have a hair algae problem.  She felt the need to take my question and tell me my water quality was poor and I was overfeeding my fish.  Talk about leaping forward.   <we really do need you to be more understanding and empathetic here. Marina is in fact one of our very hard-working crew... an entirely volunteer staff I must add. None of us are paid, and Bob has been hosting this site for years without any assurance that what little revenues we get from advertising will even cover the expenses for a server that can handle the tens of thousands of surfers trafficking our site each week. For the sheer (and sometimes staggering) amount of e-mail we get each week, we have to make some inferences when folks write in without giving much information. Nuisance algae is not only the biggest problem we hear about in marine tanks, it is perhaps the number one reason why frustrated marine aquarists get out of the hobby. Marina did/said exactly what any of the rest of us would/need to do in our (volunteer) efforts to serve the greater good> If I told her my fish died she would have probably called the cops telling them I killed my wife! On top of that when I emailed back she did not apologize, but continued to insult me. <I have read the text and disagree here> I know it is hard to find good help and I wanted to lodge a complaint against her. <OK> If she continues insulting people like she did to me I am sure you will have many more complaints. Thanks a bunch. Love your and Bob's books. Mark <please do try to see the matter differently in hindsight, Mark. The time we spend on WetWebMedia is time spent away from work, families and other worthwhile endeavors. With all due respect, we owe you and our other friends/readers nothing more than an honest shared opinion. If you need more than that, I suggest you recall what you paid for our service ;) Chill brah... its a good hobby and we are good people. To better days. Anthony>

Kind Words >Marina,   I have, in the past, asked a few questions to help with my saltwater tank on this website. I've been reading this website for about a year, daily. Every once in a while, there seems to pop up a couple of jerks. Lately... the federal investigator. Please, don't let this person have an effect on your ongoing advice. Everyone there is doing the best they can, with novice and experienced aquarist, to help solve problems. It is much appreciated! You handled the situation well...better than I would have, anyway. Thank you for helping the rest of us, who know we have a problem.   Please don't post this, as this is to only let you, and "The crew", know you are appreciated, and well thought of.  Thanks,  Steve  >>Thank you, Steve, your words are indeed very much appreciated.  I was surprised to see the reaction, especially given the fact that "The Federal Investigator" had titled his query "Re: Water Quality".  In any event, I would indeed like to place this, at least so all the others on the crew will be able to read this.  Thank you again, Marina

Growing A Tank-Not Algae! Hi Scott, <Hey, There!> Thanks again for your mail.  I've asked someone is South China to send some things to me, and I'm not sure if I'll receive them or not but I wanted to check something with you first.  I was thinking of trying to set up a "reef-top aquarium for clownfish" as described by John Tullock in the Natural Reef Aquariums. <A neat concept...great book, BTW> I have the Magnificent anemone and a Percula Clown so I'm trying to get more Percula and also later some clams and a 6-Line Wrasse.   However as I have an algae problem, I really want to get some hermit crabs, snails and a cucumber to help clean up.  I probably can't get them in the end, as I've asked before for and the answer always comes back as "not available" however if I do I'm a little concerned if the 6 line-wrasse would make a quick lunch of the snails and crabs?  I also have the peppermint shrimps and need a few cleaner shrimp that I'm worried the wrasse may eat.  Seems John's not worried about the shrimp and the wrasse but I'm worried about the snails and crabs if I get them.  Also I wanted to put some kind of other fish in later like the orange lined cardinal fish or something else and I've read that the wrasse may be a difficult tank mate to others.  Perhaps I might like to add a goby some day too.  What do you suggest? <So many gobies to choose from.. I'd check the WWM FAQs for some good choices...> Also about the algae: Tomorrow I plan to rub the brown hair algae of the rocks with a tooth brush, then let it settle.  Then vacuum the substrate while changing 100 litres of water (my total is about 350 liters) with RO water.  Change all the cotton pre-filter mater to new material.  Purchase and add a Aqua Medic phosphate filter.  From then on top up only with RO water ( a little expensive as it's very dry here and I have to add water every day and don't have an RO filter, well sort of expensive, about $2 USD/ 19 liter bottle of RO water)   Do you think that this will be helpful in the algae control? Greg <Well, Greg- it seems like you've got the handle on creating an effective water change regimen. Keep up the good work! This will definitely help with algae control! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Encrusting Algae and High Calcium Help - After reading your forums, I am in trouble, and I can't figure it out.  First off I have a 75 gallon tank, with a mix of 20 lbs of live sand and 20 lbs of crushed coral, about 40 lbs of live rock (well sort of live), A Marineland (?) Magnum 350 pro with 2 bio wheels, a Red Sea hang on Prism Skimmer, 2 Rio powerheads, and 24" of airstones.  The tank is about 3.5 to 4 months old.  I have about 16 or so hermit crabs, a couple of lobsters, algae blenny, Foxface, sand sifting goby, 2 convict damsels, and a cleaner wrasse.  I feed them a cube of frozen brine shrimp and about a half a teaspoon of flake food twice a day. <A quick word of caution to you about your lobsters: they are not to be trusted. Although they may make interesting pets, they are predatory and will eventually kill a fish or two of yours. I kept a lobster many, many years ago only to find my Royal Gramma one morning neatly cut in half along the color line. Not realizing the obvious, I let the lobster stay. Several days later I saw my clown trigger frantically swimming around the tank with the lobster clamped onto the poor fish's tail. Needless to say, that was when the lobster went back to the store. When it comes to lobsters, this is not a "chance" but an eventuality.> My Calcium is between 520-540 ppm.  Yes, that's correct!  I have stopped adding liquid calcium weeks ago, change water, weekly, and yet it has still to drop.  Any clue WHY the calcium is staying so high? <No, but it won't go down in a week... especially given the lack of things that would consume it. Would continue to change slightly more water than normal on your regular schedule. It will go down in time.>  PH is around 8.3, after it dropped to 7.8 earlier in the week. This is after adding Kent pro*Marine pKH, buffer.   Another thing that is happening is I have a green type material covering growing all over the coralline, killing it slowly.  Now this is not green algae, as its hard, and even the snails and starfish cannot remove it. <It is still algae.> I took out an old coral skeleton, which contained this green growth, and scrubbed it with a toothbrush, and later a diluted bleach and water mixture.  I made only a slight clearing of the material off the coral piece. <Yeah... leave it out in the sun for a while... the stuff is likely already dead.> Phosphates are around 1-2 ppm, Ammonia, Nitrite are at 0, nitrate is around 10-15 ppm.  I also notices the water as a whole has a slight greenish tint to it. <Could be an effect of the glass of the tank.> My canister filter uses the water polisher filters that turn green and slow down to a crawl within two days once inserted into it. <Is the nature of canister filters... when I ran a Magnum filter oh so many years ago, I had four cartridges, one always in the filter, one soaking in bleach, one drying out, and one being rinsed and ready to replace the cartridge in the filter - about every three days.> My lights (Which is a CustomSeaLife 48" 65 x 2 10k daylights and 65 x 2 actinic lights; and a 48" 50/50 florescent) are on around 14 hours a day.  After reading FAQs here, I will cut back to 12 hours.   I'm at a loss as to what is growing in my tank, as far as this green growth and the fact I cannot get my Calcium to drop.  Do you have any suggestions? <Just as listed above - the green encrusting algae isn't really anything you can do anything about. Just guard against over-feeding and try to get the phosphate down.> Help! John P. <Cheers, J -- >

- Algae Problems - Thank you for your time I've have a 75g saltwater tank with 2-3 inches of live sand about 50 pounds of live rock it been running 6 months I have a 55gal wet-n-dry somebody told me the best way to get rid of green algae is a product called Neta-sea tank scrub it has covered a lot of my rock ps also have some plants; I have been reading your q-a for some time and like what you have to say' so please will it help or hurt my tank are what would you do thanks <I am not familiar with this product, and am not a fan of additives to deal with algae control. There are several paths you can take, I'd start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm Cheers, J -- >

Waging War On Algae! Hello folks, <Hiya! Scott F. here today!> It has been many months since I have wrote to you.  I will try to be brief. <No problem> I have a 90 gal reef set up, and it has been running for about 3 years. I am having a problem with green Cyano and green hair algae. I consider myself somewhat experienced, but feel a bit foolish since I cannot solve this common problem. <Please don't- it IS a frustrating problem that happens to every aquarist at one time or another...> In fact, I am pretty frustrated and am seriously considering shutting it down.  The only hold up is my kids love it (algae and all) and they do not want that to happen. <Neither do I! Let's get to work!> Here are my stats - 90 gal All Glass with Tidepool sump & bio wheel 750 gph pump 3 - 402 Power heads 4 - 55 watt PC lights 90-100 lbs live rock Berlin Turbo skimmer Fish - 1 4" Regal Tang 1 Royal Gramma 1 Percula Clown Critters- Serpent Star 1 Blood Shrimp Various snails and hermits Corals- 2 Colt Corals 6 Leather Umbrellas Finger Leather Plate Coral Yellow Polyps Brown Polyps Large Gorgonian (brown) Water Quality- Temp - 78 Nitrates - 0 Nitrites - 0 Ammonia - 0 PH - 8.1 to 8.3 Phosphates - 0 (the test kits are 3 years old) <Get new reagents, okay?> About a year ago, I bought the Berlin skimmer to help with this problem. <If it's not yielding at least a couple of cups of dark, yucky skimmate per week, you need to adjust it or ditch it for a better model...> Then I started using all R/O water (heated and circulated for 24 hrs first) about 6 months ago because I thought it was the tap water.   <A good theory> The problem seems to be getting worse.  I am only feeding the fish every other day or so; so scarcely that I feel they are not getting the proper nourishment. <That's not good, either...> I am doing 10 gal water changes once and sometimes twice a week. <As long as it's good quality water, this is a good practice, and you should continue. Make sure that your RO/DI membranes are fresh...> I suction out the Cyano and hair that will come off when I do the changes.  I realize that there must be too many nutrients in the water, but this thing is taking up way too much of my time, and I wouldn't mind that if it was helping, but as I say, I think the problem is getting worse. <Well, this is definitely about nutrient export-or lack thereof. There are a few more things that you can do. I didn't see any mention of chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon or Poly Filter. Utilizing high quality chemical media, and changing them regularly and frequently can make a huge difference in water quality...> Is it possible that because the live rock is covered, it is not breaking down the nutrients as it normally would? <An interesting thought. I suppose that there is some merit, but a lot of the denitrification and other "filtration" occurs deep within the rock...> I confess the skimmer is not producing very much waste (1/2 inch in the cup a week) and it seems it is producing less since I went to R/O water.  I have talked to my wife about it and we both agree we have to do something, or shut it down. I am certainly not overstocked, and don't believe I overfeed. <Certainly doesn't sound that way...> The corals are doing fine, in fact, the Umbrella and Colt have split a number of times.  I remember reading somewhere that the BioWheel could be a problem. <Not a problem, but a potential contributor to nitrate. Of course, it appears that your nitrate is undetectable.> Any suggestions for our final attempt? <I suppose that there are a few things that you can try here. First thing would be to continue your water change regimen. Make sure that the source water that you are using is of good quality. Consider increasing circulation even more within the tank. Good circulation is a potential deterrent to algae proliferation. Second, consider your tank's alkalinity. It should be high. Additionally, you might want to consider a deep sand bed, to assist in nutrient export and processing. Keep that skimmer producing! Even established, nutrient poor systems can yield skimmate regularly. Above all- keep at it! Don't quit. Algae problems are among the most exasperating in the hobby- but they are eminently solvable! Keep at it...Persistency and tenacity will help you win!> I value your opinion, and thank-you for previous and present advice for all of us. John   <Thanks for the kind words. We're all in this together, so keep up the fight! Regards, Scott F.>

Red Slime (1-2-03) What causes red algae in a saltwater aquarium?<There can be many things but most commonly the problem is excess nutrients.> I have it growing on some of my live rock. How do I control or get rid of it?<A protein skimmer would probably be you best bet.  Please read here for more information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/index.htm.  Cody>

- Algae Woes - Respected crew, This is the second time we have been forced to ask for your guidance, we have been utilizing the search feature for most of our questions. Normally we find the answers we need and learn much more in the process. This time we couldn't find an answer so we are forced to pick your brains, Please. We have a 44 gal pent 40 lbs. live sand (full of critters ) 40 lbs. live rock 65 watt x 2 ( one actinic / one 10 K ) 36 watt x2 ( one actinic / one 10 K )     - lights on 12 hours a day with dawn/dusk Prizm skimmer 2217 Eheim canister filter two power heads ( at different levels for circulation ) two anemones ( one curlicue and one LTA ) two yellow head Jawfish one six-line wrasse one orchid dotty-back one lawnmower blenny one gold-stripe maroon clown one tiger pistol shrimp one blood shrimp numerous red-leg and blue-leg hermits one squamosa clam ( growing rapidly ) Porites coral with worms Millepora coral without worms Montipora coral ( growing out of control ) one pulsing xenia ( about to split into three ) one Gorgonia one pagoda cup one clump of xenia ( standard issue ) pH = 8.4 temp = 76 ammonia = 0 'trates = 0 'trites = 0 Ca = 440ppm Sparse feeding for fish every other day, target feeding once a week for anemones & shrimp All are healthy and happy and we even have started seeing new growths of coralline algae and feather dusters. We had a problem with green hair algae (hence the lawnmower blenny) which is now under control.  However, now we have an opaque/white slime growing on a piece of live rock and one of the shells of a hermit crab.  We have tried scrubbing it and blowing it to no avail.  Is this a bad sign? <Not really.> What is it and what can we do to be rid of it? <Likely colorless Cyanobacteria, BGA which is a nuisance algae. More about this here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm > (Our tank does not get any direct or indirect sunlight) Secondly, we are having a daily recurrence of green algae on the glass.  When cleaned with the magnet, the tank becomes "dusty".  Could this have anything to do with our new "slime"? <Could be, but could also be unrelated - fairly normal, especially in relatively new systems. Wouldn't be too worried and would simply guard against overfeeding, perhaps try to improve overall circulation - I realize there's not much room in there for many more powerheads. Perhaps replace the two you have with two larger ones, facing them directly at each other to create a random, turbulent flow. Fish and corals will all appreciate the current.> We have "tweaked" our skimmer so as to get the dark skimmate daily and we do 10% weekly water changes with gravel stirring. We are at a loss, PLEASE HELP!!!! Jeff & Angie
<Cheers, J -- >

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