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FAQs on Marine Algae and Their Control 7

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

Related FAQs: Marine Algae Control FAQs 1, Marine Algae Control 2, Marine Algae Control 3, Marine Algae Control 4, Marine Algae Control 5, Marine Algae Control 6, Marine Algae Control 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

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Algae Identification      3/25/20
How are your algae identification skills?
<Much better decades back when I was actively taking phycology classes in college>
I had a confirmed case of Ostreopsis in one of my tanks that I thought I was able to eradicate.
Recently the slimy snotty algae started to come back but it doesn't look like dinoflagellates under the microscope. Any ideas what it may be?
<Need more magnification to see flagella... Doesn't look apical nor clear on one end to be Ostreopsis... have you tried staining (with iodine et al.?) to determine storage food?>
<Bob Fenner>

Re: Algae Identification      3/25/20
I haven't. The yellowish photo was taken 40x which is as powerful as my scope is. It definitely doesn't move. I am thinking it could be some type of chrysophyte.
<Maybe; not as common as Dinos. B>

Re: Algae Identification     3/26/20
Curious as to what your recommendation would be to get rid of them.
<Posted on WWM>
After my tank was riddled with the Ostreopsis I raised nutrients way up, nitrates 40/ phosphates 1.02, and blacked out the tank.
<... won't do it. What's going to happen w/ these and other nutrients?
They're still there... once light is available, like Ahnold, they'll be back>
At least under the microscope the Ostreopsis is no longer there. From my understanding Chyrsophytes share a similar mechanism as Dinoflagellates. Should I bring the nutrients down?
<Yeah; a few ways to go, and other... read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm
and the linked files above. BobF>

Nuisance algae 11/21/04 Urgently! Dear crew, Interzoo, Odessa, Ukraine LFS. online. Brown slime has been developed in one of our reef aquaria. In some places its film even stretches in threads. <Hmmm... perhaps a dinoflagellate> It covers sand, algae (whose growth is strongly affected) and some soft corals: cabbage & Lobophytum, whereas Alcyonium & Sinularia are too smooth for them. The current has no effects: the cabbage coral, foul with them is placed under a laminar jet. We tried to identify the species. Our assumption are: Prorocentrum maculosum (?), P. lima(?), P. concavum (?). May DOC & detritus trigger their growth? <yes... easily. This is often caused by lack of water flow and excessive nutrients. Improve nutrient export via a proper protein skimmer that yields nearly a full cup of coffee-dark colored skimmate daily. The algae will go away in 3 weeks or less by simply doing this. Improved water flow helps too> Could you recommend some works (better on-line) about their metabolism? <I am only familiar with hobby literature my friend. Most only> As to the water parameters, we know that low pH stimulates their grows. Unfortunately appropriate indicators are absent on the local market. Both nitrates & phosphates are zero, temperature is 76o - 8o F, s. g. 1,023 - 1,024. Carbon change has no effects on brown slime development. 10 % change of water brakes it, but after two days the grows renews. The films Randy Farley Holmes recommends to add an iron in reef aquarium. Could its deficiency and weakening of macroalgae stimulate the bloom? <perhaps, but this most likely is simple a nutrient export deficiency> Could an iron addition to low brown slime development? We had three causes of Alcyonium poisoning. The symptoms are: polyp's retraction & abundant slime secretion. While transferring in the other clean aquaria under strong stream, they became healthy after a week. Could such illness be caused by an "old aquarium effect" or be the poisoning by metabolites of dinoflagellates? <the latter perhaps due to their sometimes noxious nature> Could you advice something against the brown slimes? Thank in advance, Interzoo, Odessa. <best of luck, Anthony>

Dead zoanthids - Cyanobacteria 11/5/04 Two weeks ago, I had a bad case of red slime, an F/S recommended I added Ultra Life's Red Slime Remover, so I did <Aiiiieeeee! No, please say it's not so :( This is an anti-biotic. Do look up the root definition of the term. Or, no... I'll spare you: anti-biotic: against-life Sure... it kills the Cyanobacteria... and so much more! And sadly, red slime algae is staggeringly easy to kick without hardly lifting a finger. Its all about controlling nutrients. Not allowing thawed pack juice from frozen foods into the aquarium, skimming aggressively, increasing water flow and water changes. A cure in 2 weeks or less> and it worked great. The red slime was gone but also an entire colony of zoos. The zoos closed up and are turning a dark brown should I just give on them and declare it a lost or should I just wait and see? How do you even know when a zoo is completely dead? William <water changes, good water flow and time/patience my friend. And please do read through our archives on BGA/Cyanobacteria/Red Slime Algae my friend. So much info. Anthony>

The Terrible Twosome-Dictyota and Bubble Algae! I misidentified the algae. It is Dictyota. I have read bad things about this stuff. <Ackk! It's my absolute most hated algae! At least with diatoms, Cyanobacteria, Bryopsis, and others, you can employ defined nutrient export techniques to limit their growth. Dictyota is not really caused by excessive nutrients; rather, its "roots" (no pun intended here!) are the result of lack of competition and growth through fragmentation (a tiny fragment of this stuff can relocate elsewhere in the tank, only to cause a new area of growth). This stuff loves hard, undefended surfaces (like live rock!).> Sunday, I spent 3 hrs removing each rock and carefully scrubbing off the Dictyota and the round Bubble algae. <Another of my least favorite algae!> I rinsed each piece in separate buckets 3- times. Now, how do I keep it from coming back because the tank looks great now. <Well, that's the tricky part. The best way (and it's annoying to hear now!) way is to carefully screen live rock and other materials for these algae before you place them in the tank! Containment to a few select areas will help, too; some people actually enjoy them! In fact, I recall Anthony commenting on how lovely the patch of Dictyota I had in my tank was! They are actually attractive, but they are hard to control. Unfortunately, there are no grazers that will reliably consume these algae with any degree of consistency. There are, in my opinion and experience- two reliable ways to limit (notice I didn't say "eliminate", 'cause it's virtually impossible to completely eradicate either of them, IMO) their rampant growth. First, good old fashioned, careful manual extraction is one way. Second. available growing surfaces should be encouraged to colonize coralline algae or invertebrate life forms that will out-compete these algae for available space and nutrients. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Bleached coral rocks I had Bryopsis taking over my tank. I took out the infested rock and bleached it.  what do I need to do before I can place it back in my tank? << I wouldn't. >> I do not want to introduce bleach to my system. << Exactly.  With all the money we invest in our systems, I wouldn't risk the health of the animals to something like bleach.  Instead I'd look for different ways of fixing the problem next time, and this time just use the rocks as home decorations. >> the tank has been very well established and holds a lot of difficult to keep corals. << Again, another reason to not risk the introduction of the bleached rocks.  I'd just count them as a loss and move on. >> PED, concord <<  Blundell  >>

Mowing The Lawn (Macroalgae Removal) Hi There <Hi! Scott F. with you tonight!> I'm having a heck of a time with macro growth in my reef. I know the presence of the algae is indicative of a healthy system but it is overrunning my zoanthids and covering the rock. It also grows across the substrate. It even grows on the turbo snails in the tank. <That's some SERIOUS algae!> I added a couple Emerald Crabs but they have done little or nothing. The pruning and brushing of the algae just seems to make it spread more. Would a Lawnmower Blenny help?? I had a Kole Tang in the tank but moved it to a 200 gal recently. <Neither of these fishes eat macroalgae, in my experience. The Kole is a detritivore/microalage (diatoms, specifically) grazer. The Blenny tends to favor softer, hair-like algae growth.> The problem with the algae was present when the Kole was in the reef tank so removing it didn't make it worse, He never showed an interest in the algae. Would another attempt at a different Kole help?/ Or maybe a purple tang?? <A Purple Tang (a Zebrasoma species) would be more likely to consume macroalgae than a Ctenochaetus species (i.e.; the Kole).> Would the Purple Tang bully the fairy wrasses I have?? <Hard to say. A more reliably peaceful choice (IMO) would be the good 'ol Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens). Generally, a very peaceful fish that minds its own business.> I really want that algae under control! <I'd say that a combination of careful manual extraction by you, and selective munching by an appropriate herbivore is the best way to go. Hope this works out for you! Regards, Scott F.>

Algae Control Issues Hello to everyone. <Well hi! Ryan with you today> I have had a problem recently with Cyano and hair algae blooms for several months. <Never fun> Here are some pertinent facts: 75 gal reef, 4" sand bed, approx. 75 lbs. plus live rock, nitrite zero, nitrate < 10, phosphorous almost zero, fish load minimal( 2" fairy wrasse x 2), feeding minimal, TAP WATER FILTER for preparation of H2O,  2 65 watt 6500 K compacts and 2 65 watt actinic for lighting. Adequate number of Astrea snails, red leg hermits, zebra hermits, 2 emerald crabs, peppermint shrimp x 1. Problem started approx. 4  months ago when I decided to remove the medium sized crushed coral and replace it with  fine aragonite sand bed. The debris that came up from the substrate was unbelievable and that is when my problem began. <I bet> My question is the following. Does Kelvin rating have any influence on Cyanobacteria or other unwanted algae? <It takes more than light to create algae- nutrients, phosphates also needed to complete the cycle for algae to grow.> The tank is coming around after significant losses and persistent  manual cleaning, but I must say I'm getting tired. <Are you skimming the tank?  Also, please read up a bit on deep sand beds, yours is on the small side and may be less effective.  I have only had productive sand beds at 6 inches or more.  See ya! Ryan> Thank you. Jim/ Long Island, NY http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algcontbrf.htm <I think you'll benefit from this article!>

Brown stuff on sand Hi there Crew, <How goes it, Michael here today> Just LOVE your site.  Have been known to be up till 3 AM reading!  Very addictive.  <Done the reading till 3am thing many a time; and as far as the site, I'm just standing on the shoulders of giants, here...> A bit of history on our tank:  We had a 30 gal. tank for 9 mos. then switched over to a 60 gal. We increased the live sand to 2-3" and added 50 lbs. more of live rocks for a total of l00 lbs. LR.  We have an EHEIM Filter hooked up (I know we probably don't need this filter since we have all the LR but using it to filter the water before it goes into the chiller so the chiller doesn't get all messed up - Oh, by the way, we took out all the beads stuff  from the canister and just left the carbon pad in  in place of the beads, put in 6 filter pads).  <Clean those filter pads every 2 days or so, or you're going to be seeing high nitrate levels> Since setting up the 60 gal. tank, its been 4 mos. and  we've been at this now for l3 mos.  Have really been enjoying the tank. Tank inhabitants:  2 False Perculas (approx. l l/2" - 2"), 2 large Green Chromis- 2"+ (what was left of orig. cycling fish), 1 Regal Tang (half dollar size) <60 gallons is too small for any tang IMO>,  8 dome shaped Nassarius snails, 10 Vibro Nassarius snails?,  hermit crabs and 4 Margarita snails, a frag of Frog Spawn (2 heads orig. now 4!) <nice>,  2 diff. heads of Candycane corals, 1 with 14 polyps & 1 with 28 polyps, l large colony of Pulsing Xenia and several small frags from the large colony, l Crocea Clam (orig. l", now 2 l/2"),  and l Rose BTA E Quad. (found out after the fact thru your site:  Anemones & corals don't mix - luckily our anemone found a spot it liked on top of a LR towards the top of the tank under the MH and has stayed put). <I have what was going to be a reef tank until I decided anemones were just too cool...now it's a species tank :)> Tanks specs.:  SG l.025/l.026, temp. runs between 77 - 79 deg., pH 8.l to 8.2, dKH  9.5 to 10,  Alk. 3.35 - 3.5, CA 420 -425, NO2 (0), NO3 (20) <Way too high, and will likely cause algal problems>, NH3 (0). In the last 3 - 4 weeks, we've noticed: (1) the front of the tank getting a bit green (but easily wiped off  (2) lots of brown spots on the front & sides of the tank, needs to be scrubbed off with elbow grease! and 3) most annoying part and driving us crazy: golden reddish/brownish stuff accumulating on the sand like dust. It's not reddish/maroonish in color like we've seen in some other tanks. <Pest algae\Cyanobacteria due to high nitrates is what you're seeing> We've skimmed the sand of this stuff and doing 20 percent water change each week and 3 to 4 days later, we can see it starting up again and by day  6-7, you really notice it and we're skimming the sand again along with water change. What is causing this golden brownish stuff to keep coming back??? <This stuff doesn't come from nowhere - you have excess dissolved organics.  Try removing those filter pads out of the Eheim permanently, changing a larger % of water, and using a high quality activated carbon in combo with a phosphate remover, e.g.. Seachem's Seagel> We feed the fish l frozen cube of Mysis every other day and flake food on other days.  RBTA is fed every other day with either shrimp, Mysis, prime reef.   Every 3 days, we feed the tank with either DTPhytoplankton, Liquid Life Bio Plankton or Kent Zooplex.  Are we feeding the fish/tank too much??? <Possibly.  Try target feeding instead of mass feeding if you don't already> One last question, would it be OK for the fish if we were to lower the tank temp. from 77-79 to 76 - 78 F or would this be a bit too cold? <I've had marine fish only tanks at 76 for years with no prob.s, but I'd keep it closer to 78 with corals> Thank you for your time, knowledge and assisting us newcomers to this hobby.   Much appreciated. <Hope I was able to help.  Watch that nitrate level> Nemo   <M. Maddox>

Brown hair algae I have a 72 gal bowfront w/ approx 60 lbs of live rock , a 4'dsb , a AquaC remora pro skimmer, 2 250 MH 10000 k , and CSL t4 hooked closed loop to a SCWD. also I have a chiller and Eheim 2227 wet dry. enough about tank, recently I have had an explosion of brown hair algae growth, I don't use RO but the only thing my tap water "deep well" is high in is silicates, my tank levels run around.06 <Youch that is very high. And silicates can feed some types of algae growth.> I have no detectable ammonia , nitrate, nitrite, or phosphate. my sg is 1.023 chiller set at 78 I add tech cb for calcium I ad strontium and iodine. what is causing the sudden explosion of growth and how do I stop it,<The silicates definitely may be feeding it. I know I had to remove some sand with silicates in it for the same reason.> is a RO going to be a "silver bullet" at this , I don't have room for the RO collection drum in my home, I would love to get an RO though, <Understandable.> is there anything that will eat brown hair algae? I currently have a yellow tang and a lawnmower blenny. <I've had turbo's that would eat it but I didn't get the impression they liked it as they moved through it as fast as possible. I've also been told green Mithrax crabs will eat it.> as well as snails and hermits. I haven't done any drastic changes but just had an explosion in hair algae growth and the tang, blenny, snails wont touch the stuff. I have heard that a lettuce Nudibranch will eat the hair? <They will eat Bryopsis, perhaps you need to go to algaebase.org and make sure what you have is brown hair algae?> if what will, this stuff has covered 30% of my tank in one week, I try manual remove but don't even make a dent, it is attached so hard I have to use tweezers.  <I have taken a bucket of salt water and scrubbed every rock etc and then returned them to the tank before.  You don't mention what your ph is. Dripping Kalk seems to help get rid of hair algae by raising and making more stable your ph.>   any help would be greatly appreciated. <Let me also suggest you read through these Faq's and see what you can find there to help as well http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brownalgcontfaqs.htm  Good luck, MacL>


Algae Problems... Dear Reefers, <Scott F. your fellow Reefer here tonight!> Firstly a big thank you to Anthony and Bob for their excellent book Reef Invertebrates, and to all the others at WWM for their devotion to the cause. <We're thrilled to be here for you!> I apologize in advance for the length of this question, but I hope you can help me yet again. <Will give it my best!> When I started my first marine tank just over a year ago the simple objective was to create a natural 100 gallon reef tank with no skimmer. <Ohh...I don't like the "no skimmer" thought. And when you really think about it, skimming is a "natural" process, which mimics the processes occurring in nature when foam washes up on shore, etc...Food for thought here> I realized that this was a minority set up, so I have had to modify the general advice given on your site accordingly. However, I was recently encouraged when reading FAQS Dips/Baths 1 where in the last item on page 30 Bob Fenner suggests "replacing a wet/dry system with  a Berlin system at the very least - to a continuously lit Caulerpa and mud filter at best", so I now feel able to ask the following question. <Ask away> The mud and algae sump which I use is similar to an Ecosystem style sump in construction but uses sugar fine aragonite and CaribSea Mineral Mud with 1lb of added aquarium laterite, instead of Miracle Mud. It also uses 12 hour reciprocal lighting and mixed algae rather than 24 hour lighting with only Caulerpa. <I like the 12 hour vs. 24 hour photoperiod, myself.> The main tank has live rock and a 3.5 inch deep sugar fine aragonite sand bed, with 150w MH lamp plus fluorescent actinic lighting, and 10x water turnover returned through multiple nozzles, with no powerheads. The main tank seems fine -  thanks to your help. The 2 fish ( a Comet Assessor and a successfully freshwater dipped Amblygobius hectori ) and corals ( Mushrooms and Star Polyps, Euphyllia and Acropora etc, with lots of Xenia ) are doing well, with the Acropora growing 1cm a month. <Good to hear!> I add 1 gram of mussel or scallop and 125ml live phyto plankton daily, with a balanced addition of 6ppm Ca as CaCl2, MgSO4, NaHCO3 and Na Silicate also daily. Ca is kept stable at 420ppm with alkalinity at 3.5 Meq/l. NO3 and PO4 measure nil. Temperature 76 F, with 2 gallon water change per week. After about 10 months ( 2 months ago now) the main tank developed a small patch of algae not seen before. It is dark brown, filamentous and under the microscope each hair like thread appears to be composed of rings like an annelid worm. The threads are single and continuous, without forks. The algae seems to be able to move. It clumps into blobs when it is dark, and spreads out over the objects surface when the lights are on. If you cover it with sand, it seems to work its way up to the top again. However, there is no movement detectable under the microscope. The algae is not attached in any way. It is very easy to blow off the surface. However, it seems to suck the life out of any coralline and Halimeda algae on which it grows. Is it possible to identify the filamentous algae, or is this too difficult from the description? It matches the description of a Phormidium species given in Delbeek and Sprung vol. 2. <I'd really have to see a picture to do a good job for you...A number of species fit the general description...> The growth in the main tank has been brought under control by the micro fauna. Unfortunately some has been washed via the overflow into the mud sump, and is now all over the bottom and over the macroalgae. This is mainly Caulerpa prolifera, Halimeda and a prolific twiggy algae from Tim Hayes, with some Gracilaria etc. I removed the Caulerpa racemosa after reading your FAQs on the associated toxicity problems <Not a bad thought!> The main tank has a large visible population of Spionid worms, around a tenth the number of Terebellid worms, and a population of an unknown species of small worm ( < ? inch long ) which coats itself in sand grains and rears up noticeably on the surface of the sand bed. This one actually seems to pull at and eat the brown algae. <Interesting!> I tried waiting to see if the problem would resolve itself in the sump also, but it has been over 2 months without noticeable change and if I turn the sump lights on now there are dark brown blobs all over the C. prolifera as if it has blotches. After the lights have been on a while the blotches dissipate as the algae spreads out, so it is not as noticeable. The algae is also covering the substrate with a matted film, similar to a spiders web, with holes where the other life forms scoot in and out from underneath. I therefore have decided to take some remedial action. <Yep. Algae problems almost always have their root (no humor intended here) in nutrient excesses somewhere in the system. Either you are importing nutrients (for example, by the use of source water or additives), or you are accumulating it somewhere (such as in filter media, substrate, etc.). Even with undetectable phosphate, it is still possible to have nuisance algae blooms. Many tests measure Organic vs. total phosphate, or material is bound up in substrate, not in the water column. Lots of possibilities. Although it won't remove phosphate, protein skimming excels at removing dissolved organics before they become problematic. Do consider utilizing some skimming in your system. When you see what a well-tuned skimmer can pull out of your tank in just a few days, you'll never again want to run a tank without one- trust me! Do review the chemical parameters of your source water, too. Lots of undesirable substances come in with source water, and are replenished every time you do a water change! Consider a good source of RO/DI water. Make use of good chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon or Poly Filter. Finally, discontinue the use of any additives which testing does not indicate a need for. This is a great practice! Let your water changes with a good source water and quality salt mix act as your "additive" protocol and see if that makes a difference.> As far as I can see there are only three differences between the main tank and the sump regarding algae growth - lighting, flow and grazers. The lighting is provided by 4 x 18 inch long T8 15w Triton fluorescent tubes driven by a Tridonic digital ballast. On 12 hours each night. Should I change these for bluer light? Is there any benefit to using "Marine White" tubes rather than Tritons, perhaps mixed 50/50 with actinic? <Well, I'd be inclined to go with a full spectrum lamp for the macroalgae, but this will probably have little impact on the algae bloom in the display. Nutrients plus light equals algae growth...> The flow in the sump is laminar, as the mud filter is designed as a sedimentation chamber, with any sediment to be processed by the mud fauna. The main tank drain is split between the mud filter and pump sump and I could increase the flow slightly by restricting the pump sump supply, but flow restriction is not recommended in your site. <Agreed> Would a powerhead in the mud sump be any help, or as I suspect would it just blow the problem algae back over into the main tank? <I think that you're right. Pass on that idea!> With regard to grazers, the only obvious life forms in the mud sump are self-perpetuating populations of Mysid and Gammarus shrimp and Isopods, with a few Stomatella and Dove Cerith snails. <Not bad- common to most systems..> There was a larger species Cerith and an Astrea phoebe in the beginning but I cannot find these now, and no further large mollusks have been added. None of the worms from the main tank have appeared to make it over to the mud sump by themselves, so I tried moving a few of each in a cup with some sand. On subsequently inspecting the mud sump after feeding the Spionids it became apparent that there were lots of very small bristle worms, about 1/3 to 1 inch long, living under the algae film. They could be Eurythoe complanata, but pictures of these vary according to source so I am not sure. There were a few larger adult specimens in there in the beginning, when I also fed the sump daily with part of the finely chopped mussel etc, but I had not seen these for a while. Is there any explanation for the appearance of these babies now, and what are they eating? <Hard to say. Its possible that they were somehow imported into the sump from either the display or the addition of other materials. They are probably feeding off of some organic material found in the sump.> As I am trying to introduce the same microfauna as in the main tank, are the tiny bristleworms likely to help, or will they hinder matters by eating the worms I am trying to introduce? <I wouldn't be worried about them> In the early days I saw one of the adults trying to pull a bristle star under the sand, unsuccessfully. They do not seem to have teeth, but they swallow things whole if they can - and their mouths are extensible. Even the small ones could swallow the mini worms from the main tank. If necessary I could borrow a spider crab or trap a few bristleworms with bait to reduce the population. <Again- I would not be overly concerned unless you're noticing some bad effects on your tank as a result.> Are there any other grazers which could be safely added to the mud sump to eat or at least break up the algae? <I think that you have a nice selection already> The mollusks suggested in Reef Invertebrates seem to ignore this type of alga and prefer diatoms on the glass and rocks.. Is it worth adding a few to the sump anyway - in which case which species would be best? <You could- but the benefits may be negligible. I like Trochus, Strombus, and Turbos.> I have never tried a hermit or Mithrax crab as they are warned against in RI for delicate systems. <Yep- they can and will nip at coral, too!> However, blue legged hermits are recommended by Delbeek and Sprung for tackling Cyanobacteria. They would certainly have the necessary equipment to eat the stuff if only it tasted good to them. <They are good algae eaters, but you really need to get to the root cause of the bloom in order to prevent this form happening again> How do McDonalds manage it? As these are very small would you recommend them for the mud sump? <I'd pass, myself. Their tastes could change to beneficial creatures!> Would Paguristes cadenati or Mithrax crabs also eat the problem algae, or would they be more likely to cause problems for the balance of life in the mud sump? <Again- I'd pass for the reasons that you are thinking of> Is there a small shrimp that eats algae of this type? I have seen Thor amboinensis (Sexy shrimps) for sale, but RI does not say what they eat.  It does say that Lysmata debelius (Blood shrimp) is a good scavenger. Would that be worth trying in the sump. <As scavengers, sure- but not algae eaters.> I presume that a fish, such as a Kole tang, would probably eat the macroalgae in preference, and may not touch the problem algae. <Well, many herbivorous tangs would do that. Kole's are in the Ctenochaetus genus, and favor diatoms and "harder" growths of algae, which they "scrub" from rocks with their specially-shaped mouths.> In any event I am not sure that the sump could sustain one without additional feeding, as well as being rather small physically - with an 18 inch square centre portion - so it would only be a temporary solution. <And not a good one at that- IMO!> The Kole would ultimately have to be put in the main tank where it may be too aggressive for the residents. If not, would a Kole be worth trying in this way? <I like the Kole Tang- but a Zebrasoma species is better at the softer algae growths that you seem to have...Still- many tangs may not touch the stuff that you are dealing with. Don't put any tang in the sump-just the display. Best once again to address the cause.> I quarantine everything for 4 weeks, so I need to plan ahead with any live additions before this becomes a real problem. <Good work! Great to hear!> I would really appreciate your considered advice on the most effective long term solution. Best regards, Eric Bright well FZS <I hope that my input is useful to you! Good luck in defeating this algae problem! Regards, Scott F.>

Nuisance Algae Nightmare...What's The Cause? I have a terrible green hair algae problem for the past 6 months. I tried everything. I really think it is coming from the phosphate that is leeching or bonded to the live rock and sand. My Salifert phosphate test reads zero but I think that is a test for the phosphate in the water column. Not sure if it's called organic or inorganic phosphate. I need to get rid of the phosphate that is bonded to the live rock and sand. What would you recommend to release or removed this phosphate. Thanks Alex <Well, Alex, it is certainly a probability that phosphate is in the substrate, and it may very well be contributing to the problem. If it is in the substrate, you may want to consider the physical removal and replacement of some of it. In my opinion, phosphate is best removed from the water column through chemical means, which can be accomplished through the use of media such as Rowa Phos or PhosBan. It does not take much phosphate in the water to contribute to the problem. Do measure other water quality parameters, too. Protein skimming is helpful at removing dissolved organics from the water, which can contribute to nuisance algae problems, but it will not remove significant levels of phosphate. And, you need to perform consistent water changes with a quality salt mix, verify that the carbon that you are using does not leach phosphate into the water, and feed carefully. Foods contain lots of phosphate. It doesn't really take all that much phosphate to cause massive algae problems. Salifert is a good kit, but there are some other ones out there that are even more sensitive. All in all, a combination of careful maintenance, good feeding technique, aggressive protein skimming, use of chemical filtration, and tenacity on the part of the aquarist are needed to defeat most algae problems. Maintaining a high KH will also help in your fight. If you believe that the substrate is truly the cause, then do consider slowly replacing some, and observe the results (positive/negative) as you go. Good luck! You can do it! Regards, Scott F>

Algae Problem Hello Bob, A question from bonnie Scotland for you. I have a 240 litre  tank and am having problems with green hair algae attaching to my corals and sides of tank. I give the tank a weekly 20% water change and have tried reducing the lighting to try and stop the growth, to no avail. Talked to local stockist about adding snails to tank, but was advised not to add snails as I have 2 blue/black leg hermits,4 black/white legs and about 8 red legs in my tank which would probably eat the snails. Have recently added a sea hare but this can't cope with the amount of algae that is growing. All water tests are ok. Only have one powerhead fitted at moment and wonder if fitting another to opposite side of tank would help. Hello Bob, A question from bonnie Scotland for you. I have a 240 litre  tank and am having problems with green hair algae   attaching to my corals and sides of tank. I give the tank a weekly 20% water  change and have tried reducing the lighting to try and stop the growth, to no  avail. Talked to local stockist about adding snails to tank, but was advised not  to add snails as I have 2 blue/black leg hermits,4 black/white legs and about 8   red legs in my tank which would probably eat the snails. Have recently added a   sea hare but this can't cope with the amount of algae that is growing. All water  tests are ok. Only have one powerhead fitted at moment and wonder if fitting  another to opposite side of tank would help. ***Hey Bonnie, Jim here. What fish do you have in the tank?  How much are you feeding? What skimmer are you running? Do you have a sand bed, if so how old is it? What kind of lights are you using? How old are the bulbs? How long do you run them each day? Are you running a refugium? These are a few questions that may shed more light on this. Is this Bryopsis that we're talking about here? Bryopsis looks a bit like small feathers, or mini Caulerpa. The first thing you need to do is lose most of the hermits and get some snails. You can keep the red legs. Snails are the janitor of choice for algae, and as you've found, hermits are next to useless. Red legs are not quite as predatory as the blue legs, which makes them better reef inhabitants. The next item is circulation - I would increase it a bit with another power head.  You also may have a nutrient export problem. More water changes, larger skimmer, less feeding or a smaller bioload can all help the issue. Sounds like you're doing more then enough water changes, although I can't say for sure until I hear what you have in this tank. Jim***  

Algae Problems (9/9/04) Hi there Wet Web Crew, <Hello. Steve Allen tonight.> Have been reading your daily Q & As and some of the links and find it very informative and helpful. <Glad you find it so.> My tank specs. read SG l.025, pH 8.2, dKH 9.0, Alk. 3.20, CA 410, NO3 25, <A bit lower nitrate would be nice and might help with your problem.> NO2 0, NH3 0. Water temp. set at 78 degrees +/- a degree.   I'm also using a hang on skimmer for the tank.  <Are you getting a good amount of yucky dark skimmate?> I have a 60 gal. reef tank with a few frags, 5 fishes <how many, how big?>, and yes, a Rose BTA! Didn't realize you don't mix corals and BTA until I happened upon your site. Luckily, the BTA has found a spot it likes and has stayed put since being placed in the tank. <Chemical warfare may yet ensue.> However, I have a problem and not sure what links to look up or what it's called. I'm doing weekly water changes  of 15 to 20% and find myself scrubbing off green algae and brown spots off the walls of the tank often.  If I'm doing weekly water changes, why am I getting those tough brown spots on the tank walls? <Because your nitrates are still a bit high. Also, check your phosphates. Too much fertilizer is the reason.> Also, I'm puzzled as to why the top of my sand bed lately is turning a dirty brown with bubbles on top, occasionally, the bubbles group together and float to the top? <Probably slime algae or Cyano.> I've scooped off the top layer of the sand to remove the brown guck and vacuumed the sand  but it comes back? <Until there are fewer nutrients in there it will keep coming back.> What is this condition called and how do I get rid of the BROWNS? <As above. May I also suggest you purchase and read the book Algae: A Problem Solver Guide" by Julian Sprung. Inexpensive and useful.>  It's driving me crazy and probably my fishes too as I'm in the tank! <Understood. You may want to get some algae-grazing and sand-stirring snails. There was a recent excellent article about these by Anthony Calfo at www.reefkeeping.com> Thank you and I really appreciate all your help and advice. Marilyn <Read and heed and you should be able to lick this. Good luck.>

Macroalgae out of control Hi there << Hi. >> I am having problems in my reef aquarium with macro algae growing rampant. << This isn't a problem, you should learn to love algae like me. >> I've always had a small patch of macro growing on some live rock since I started my reef a year ago. It has always struggled to flourish. The last few months it has taken off to the point I pruned it from the rock it originated from. Now it has spread to various rocks and competes for space with my zooanthids which I don't like. << I don't like Zoanthids either. Just kidding I know what you meant. >> It looks like a miniature Elkhorn fern or Staghorn fern if you are familiar with that, It has branching leaves. I also have these hard green patches of calcareous algae growing too much. I do weekly 10-15 % changes and I have an ev120 and refugium packed with Chaetomorpha that grows great. I feel its a nutrient problem but my nitrites are only 5ppm. can I remove the rocks and scrub off the patches of pesky algae?? << Yes you can, but I wouldn't. I'd either do nothing, or maybe increase my herbivore load (like Rabbitfish or emerald crabs) which are known to devour this stuff. >> << Blundell >> 

Algae hi aqua man and friends <Hi Fishcakes!, MacL here with you tonight> I have a 45 gallon saltwater tank with Corallife lighting and a pretty decent setup with the rest of the mechanical stuff. <Sounds nice> I have about 20-30 pounds of base rock with some red and green algae on it, <Nice coralline algae is a good thing.> tanks been running for 2-3 months I believe and sand has been getting brown algae, comes and goes. <Sounds like diatoms> Recently it had some brown/green/pink/red on it in small spots. know the dang things a blanket of algae.... all water conditions are in nice ranges ... its not live sand but what could I do to stop it from getting any "worse" ? <I think you are having problems with diatoms, take a look at this article and see what you think, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diatoms.htm> thanks

Algae Bloom Guys! Adam! <Girl, MacL here with you tonight, nice to meet you.>   I wish I'd set up a freshwater tank!!! <No you don't honestly, I know you are frustrated but you wanted salt.> Anyway, my 72G is up and running again with 75lbs of live rock two shrimp and two 2" fish since last Tuesday. <With ya so far> And I have an algae problem. The first two days I had Cyano. <Not surprising most people do.> Then the hair algae started to grow all over the live rock. <Nasty stuff> Having upgraded the lighting from 130watts to 390, with 50% being daylight in either case, the algae grows right in front of your eyes. <I can't even imagine that.> I have a few ounces of RowaPhos, some carbon and a 4"X8" PolyFilter in my wet/dry, but they don't seem to help. <Are you using bioballs in the wet/dry/sump?> I'm running a Magnum H.O.T with nylon wool for mechanical filtration. <Any carbon?> I've been dosing Kalkwasser to keep ph at 8.3 during the day and 8.1 at night -I am waiting for my alkalinity and calcium test kits. <Do you check from Silicates and phosphates at all? Do you use R/O Water?> Nitrates do not register -I guess that's what is limiting the bloom. Temp is between 77F and 79F depending on lights and salinity is at 1.024. I feed very sparingly these days. It takes me two weeks to go through one half inch cube of frozen food. <Sounds about right for the small load you have.> I do dose one tbsp of micro-vert every alternate day for the featherduster worms. Within 5-6 hours of daylight bulbs turning on, the water starts getting cloudy with algae. <I've not personally ever heard of this. I know my tank has stuff moving in it all the time but its more like bacteria etc.>  Then I turn off the daylight bulbs, leaving the actinics on for another 7 hours and by next morning the water is clear again, only to repeat the cycle again. <I'd suggest running some carbon and/or you don't mention whether you have a protein skimmer or not?> The sides and the back of the tank were clear 5 days ago. <In all honesty I must clean mine every single day as well.>  Now you can't see the background very clearly! I have a 4" Kole tang in QT (1 day so far). that is another fiasco!!! I Methylene blue dipped him for 10 minutes and now he is terrified of me. He was eating at the store, but now just runs in to the back of the QT rather violently at the sight me! Has no interest in Nori or live brine shrimp! Next time I'm wearing a mask when dipping a fish so they won't be terrified of me later! <He will come around I promise, with patience and good food.> So, getting to the questions. I am at a loss now. I can cut my daylight bulbs down to 6 hours a day for a few more weeks and see what I have and give the macroalgae on the rock time to grow a little more and start competing. but I'm not holding my breath. <You could just leave the lights off for a couple of days as well but I'm really thinking its some of this stuff we've been talking about in the previous paragraph.> Been there done that! Hair algae is so much more efficient at pulling nutrients out of the water. <Very true> I read on your site that corals produce toxins that limit algae growth. I'm thinking of getting some mushrooms and putting them in without a QT to check that theory out. I'm also thinking of putting the tang in the display with a week long QT or less. <You are taking a chance doing that.>  I know I should be more patient, but that is so very had to do when the tank you have put thousands in to and hours and hours of your free time in to looks so ugly! <I understand I do but answer my questions and lets see what we have going. I'll help you through this.  MacL> Thank You! Narayan

Algae Bloom follow-up 27 Aug 2004 Dear MacL! <Hi again Narayan!! I hope I actually get this mailed, the electricity has gone out on me three times now lol>   Let me start out by saying I was very very impatient. Before I got your answer, I broke down and put the Kole tang in the display with only a 2 day quarantine!!! I've lost everything to ich twice before and QT my fish between 2 and 3 weeks now, but in a moment of weakness did this rash move... hope I don't regret it too much. <Me too, you know you took a chance but I can understand why you did it as well. Might be a wise idea to get a Cleaner shrimp or two to help out.> Anyway the good news is, he is doing fine and getting along with the other fish. Seems much happier in the bigger tank (vs. 10G QT) and the live rock. <Wonderful to hear.> The bad news is he doesn't eat anything I feed the other fish and I don't think he is eating any of the hair algae yet. His mouth looks fine, but he had plenty of opportunity to damage it while in QT. His stomach seems empty, but he is fat behind his head so he might have enough reserves to last a little longer... <The hair algae might be a bit long for him to eat, its probably going to have to be cut off so he can do it.>   To answer your questions, in my wet/dry, I'm running only half the Eheim bio media stuff... <I like their biomedia but like all biomedia it can hold detritus and therefore cause nitrate raises.> I'll be removing half of that when the macro algae and corals are kinda established. But the DSB is full of bubbles and a half dozen Nassarius snails keep the top half inch stirred up. Yes, I'm running carbon (Eheim carbon sponge) along with poly filter and RowaPhos in the wet/dry, not the canister. <You might think of temporarily adding carbon to the canister simply to get a more concentrated flow> The RowaPhos created a brown mess in the filter and on top of the substrate. <Been there done that, I put it in a stocking now.> I'm planning on switching to the phosphate sponge from Kent marine I think?! <I've had a lot of luck with SeaChem's products lately.>   I have a remora skimmer that produces an ounce or two of skimmate that is like dark tea or light coffee every day. <Might should be a bit thicker.> I do not check for silicates or phosphates. I don't use RI/DO water... yet... waiting to move out of the apartment and in to a house first... My calcium is at 380ppm and rising -I'll cut down on the Kalk when I reach 400ppm. <I think your tank is slightly out of ionic balance. Please take a look at the threads talking about that. > I was shipped an alkalinity kit that had expired -for the second time by the same company! So, I need to get one from the LFS.  <good luck Narayan, MacL> Thank you... Narayan

Algae bloom update 27 Aug 2004 Thanks for your fast reply. <I have my emails caught up for a change! 'm so proud lol> I didn't realize that the hair algae could be too long for the tang! I'll do a water change and try to siphon off as much as possible this weekend. <It will give him a chance to really get eating.> I do have two skunk cleaner shrimp, but they only come out after lights out. I will also add some carbon in the canister filter when I do the water change, and update you guys on the results in a week or so... <Please keep us updated.  Good luck, Narayan!> Thank you, Narayan

Algae problem 16 Aug 2004 I have a three tank 200 gln system (reef, anemone with 'display' macroalgae, and a fishless refugium) on a common sump with good water parameters which spawns some unwanted hair algae ONLY as epiphytic growth on my display algae. (Ironically, my fishless refugium spawns none, or else the 'critters' devour it before it becomes noticeable with the same lighting package and less flow.) <I'm just guessing here but I think you can see a direct affect between the fish that have to be fed something and the food they eat.> What sort of hermit/snail/etc. can I count on to consume the hair algae without devouring my kelp, Ogo, Botryocladia, Ulva, etc.? <Major problem because most will devour anything.> I'm guessing emerald crabs would devour everything. . . not sure of the rest. <They are opportunistic for sure.> Any thoughts? I also have a lawnmower blenny which could be transferred from my main reef to this tank, but I figured he'd be an all-around glutton as well. <I'd have to say he would probably be one of the best choices and my personal preference is turbo snails.  I also like pin cushion urchins.> Alternately, would upping the color temp on the PC in this tank help? (Currently I'm using a 96 watt white 7500). <That might depend on the age of the bulbs as well.> Thanks in advance for any help on this. <Hope this helps you, MacL> Chuck

Perfect Tank Dear Ryan <Hi there Kirt, MacL here with you today. Ryan must be busy.> My son has a friend that has a 200 gal with never any algae in it at all. <Nice job for him.> His fish are doing great with never any losses. His coral and sand is always pretty white and he says he does not take any decorations out to bleach. He wont tell us how he does it do you have any Ideas? please <A lot depends on his lights, his supplements, how often he does water changes and many many other things like that.  I know many many of what I would consider the top people in the field who still fight algae along with the rest of us.  I can tell you this, the bigger the tank the easier it is to take care of. Let me suggest that you start here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm and read as much as you can possibly find about setting up a tank and what causes algae growth etc.  I have to say its something I do on a regular basic.  Oh and tell the friend that he should share his knowledge.> Kirt Joseph

Growing Pains! Greetings <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I will try to get the point. <Sure!> I currently have a 55 gallon tank that is leaking. not a bad leak but one that requires me to replace the tank, and that leads me to my questions. I am currently battling hair algae (It's evil!) <Yes it is!> on my rocks and such ...in my attempts to defeat this foe I have increased water flow , changed light bulbs (PC) added a refugium and the hair algae is now taking over the Caulerpa. I do use PhosGuard and my nitrates are near 0. I use RO/DI water from local fish store. <Great steps...> My Skimmer is a Excalibur....doesn't always make good foam. <Do adjust air/water flow until it does, or consider replacing it with a skimmer that produces consistently (like a Euro Reef). Algae problems are almost always entirely about nutrient export issues. Increasing nutrient export options will solve the problem almost without exception!> Ok, now I want to set up this new 75 Gallon Oceanic Reef Ready tank and my questions are Can I re-use the rock and sand that I have in the tank. <Sure, but I would address the algae problem first, and solve it before transferring these materials to the new system> I planned on starving the rock of light and just power head to kill it all off ....also the sand I would like to reuse ...and should it be added on the bottom  with new sand on top or new sand on the bottom and seeded sand on top? <I'd mix it in, myself> I would also like to reuse the refugium. One more question. Do you know how many GPH Pump I can use on 75gal Oceanic Reef Ready? Currently MagDrive 7 Running closed loop on the 55 gallon with two power heads. <Hmm...Not certain for this specific tank, but I'd contact Oceanic directly for that one. If you are shooting for SPS corals, I would aim for a minimum of 10 times water volume, maybe closer to 20!> If you need any more information I will be glad to answer. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again for your time. Joel Haase <My pleasure, Joel- hope this helped! Regards, Scott F>

It's In The Water- Isn't It? (Seasonal Water Quality Variation) Hi to whomever I have the pleasure of speaking with today. <Scott F. at your service!> I have a question regarding nuisance algae growth in my 55 gallon FOWLR aquarium. I have had my tank up and running for several years now and every summer I have trouble with diatoms or some other form of algae appearing. My filtration consists of a Fluval 304, an AquaC Remora skimmer, and 45 lbs of LR.  When I test the standard parameters that I monitor (pH=8.2, NH3,NO2, and NO3 =0, Alk=10, Ca 400) they appear to be great as usual.  The temperature is the only thing out of the norm.  In the summer in southeastern Pa, my tank temperature creeps up to 82-83 degrees but doesn't appear to be a problem because it is stable there.  I use regular tap water without an RO/DI unit and don't have trouble with the diatoms and algae except in the summer.  Do you think the phosphates in my tap water increase in the warmer/summer months which cause the diatoms and algae to grow or do you think it is the warmer temperature that allows them to grow more so than during the rest of the year?   <Wow...Tough one. Probably a bit of each, as both are implicated in nuisance algae bloom. Diatoms are generally indicative of silicates in the water. If it were me, I'd bite the bullet and invest in a good RO/DI unit to use either year 'round, or strictly in the summer when this issue arises. You might want to consult your local water department and inquire if they are adding anything to the water on a seasonal basis that might be affecting the water quality.> Will a DI unit without the RO assembly remove phosphates. <Should do the trick. DI units are more efficient than RO, generally speaking, but I'd consider an RO/DI unit with a high silicate removal membrane. This way, you're covering all the bases!>Thanks, Ray <My pleasure, Ray! Regards, Scott F.>

Algae problems Hi, I have a 55 gallon marine tank with some live rock (ordering more soon) and I've been having horrible algae problems. All the algae that grows in my tank is a gross brown slimy smelly algae which is very gross. My algae problems were never bad until it really started coming in for the last 2 months. I started feeding my fish only tiny bits of food each day but it hasn't helped at all I've made a lot of water changes as well which did not help at all. My sand bed is usually cleaned during the night by  my hermits but when I turn the lights on in about an hour all the brown algae covers my whole sand bed and rocks are completely covered as well and my water has become very clouded. I was thinking that maybe my problems were related to not having enough cleaning force (hermits and turbo snails, I only have 10 dwarf hermits and 2 turbo snails) I was wondering if buying a whole lot more hermits and snails would really help. I was also wondering if I should buy a new filter. I have a emperor 280 BioWheel right know but I wondered if a wet/dry filter with a protein skimmer would keep my water clear and start to keep algae growth down.<< Okay the new live rock is a great idea.  Also, you really can't overdue the water changes.  But the idea of a protein skimmer is the best idea.  I would definitely invest in a large skimmer soon. Maybe even just a filter sock with water flowing through it. >> If you could send me any help in keeping my tank clean by telling me what to get or do it would really help. The algae is starting to really effect my corals coming out. Thanks for reading my message and please send help soon. Thanks a lot << That's the best I can think of, but adding more snails and crabs can't hurt. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Getting rid of algae?  8/2/04 Dear Mr. Fenner, << Blundell here this morning. >> I have a 60 gallon reef tank that has a lot of algae in it. I have just received a lot of money for my birthday and I going to get some upgrades for my tank.  << The true sign of a hobbyist. >> I recently removed my Emperor 280 filter because it was producing a floating brown algae which cleared up after I removed the filter. I was wondering if I should buy a fluidized bed filter that has more than enough gph for my tank, 133 to be exact. I'm already buying a U.V sterilizer for my tank because I believe it's necessary to prevent huge algae and disease outbreaks.  << I'm not much of a fan of either.  I would suggest more investment in live rock,  or live foods like phytoplankton.  I believe adding phytoplankton is kind of the  "miracle cure" in many algae situations.  I would also look at your tank, and see what it needs.   You said you have a 60 reef, maybe new lights or more live rock is what you need. >>  Thank you. Sincerely, Evan Morris <<  Blundell  >> -Got Algone?- Hi, Hope all is going well there for you guys.  I wanted to know if you had ever heard of a product called "Algone". <Yep, looks like sawdust in a bag, for a premium price ;) > They have their own website. <As can anyone with $20 to blow these days.> There are so many products out there that don't work, I just wanted to check with you. <All negativity aside, this is where the WetWeb, reefs.org, and Reef Central forums become your best ally. I have seen this stuff, sold it to curious customers who wanted to try it for themselves, and have had it work wonders with a random batch of hair algae in a small reef tank. This is not to say that I am in full support of it, since I haven't had enough experience with it to formulate an opinion. I say try it, it supposedly sucks out nitrate and phosphate, which is never a bad thing. -Kevin> thanks, James

Pest Algae Hello <How goes it, Michael here> I have a Thirty Gallon Marine tank.  I currently have a blue damselfish, a Percula clown, a lawnmower blenny, and a Yellow Tang. <Your tang needs much more swimming area than a 30 gallon, 75 gallons at least> I also have three common hermit crabs.  I have had my tank for almost one full year now and have been struggling with algae growth.  The algae that grows in my tank is a brown film like algae and also specs hard to remove green algae on the tank walls.  I was wondering if my tank light might be causing the problem it is 2 18 watt fluorescent bulbs.  Is this lighting way to much for my little tank? <Rarely is there "too much light", and light isn't the source of the algae growth.  Excessive dissolved organics\nitrates\phosphates are most likely the problem> Is there any additive that I could use to lower the algae growth? <I'll never recommend algaecides>  I have been looking on the Internet and the only thing that offers help to clean my tank is Boyd's ChemiClean. The label says it is safe for fish and most inverts, but I still am a little weary of putting Chemicals in to my tank. Do you have any ideas of any additives that may help me? <Well, your main problem, like I said, is organics of some type.  Do you have a protein skimmer?  If not, get one (the AquaC brand skimmers have worked great for me).  Do you use any chemical media at the present?  Try regular activated carbon, or Seachem's Seagel.  I've had no personal experience with Chemi-pure, but Thiel recommends it.  Also, and most importantly, how often do you perform partial water changes?  Is your mix water free of nitrates\phosphates?  Implement all of the above and I bet you'll have a lot less pest algae growth> Thank you <Anytime> Tom <M. Maddox>  

Brown Slime Algae (7/12/04) Hi guys, <Steve Allen tonight.> Here's the deal. I am stumped as to the cause of brown slime, string like Cyano on my aquarium sand. <Brown slime is usually dinoflagellates.> Tank Details 9 months old with no fish yet <excellent patience>, just a clean up crew, peppermint shrimp, emerald crab, 55 gallon, 50 lbs premium live rock, 2 output flow tubes in tank, w/overflow box inside tank. Food ( I only put in 1 small shrimp pellet a day for shrimp to eat) Lights: 2 URI VHO bulbs, one white, one super actinic (purple) 95 Watt each, Lights on 12 hrs a day Additives: Only Kent Liquid Reagent Substrate: 3 " Sandown Play Sand Upgraded to Aqua C EV 120 skimmer one month ago, emptying gunk 2/week Water Source: Tap water filtered through Spectra Pure 5 stage DI/RO unit before mixing with Instant Ocean Salt for tank, top ups with filtered fresh water   Ammonia - 0   PH - 8.2   Phosphate - USING LAMOTTE TEST KIT - Between 0 and 0.2 (color closer to 0)     Salinity - 1.024     Nitrite - .02 mg/l     Nitrate - <5mg/l     80  degrees     Alkalinity - 8 dKH     20 % water change weekly     Pumps: Mag 5 for skimmer and sending water back to tank from sump     Iwaki for other side of tank, runs water thru Rainbow heater and back to tank I was hoping that my upgrade to EV 120 skimmer and addition of Liquid Reagent would take care of Cyano. <I am not really familiar with this additive, but I would not trust any additive to control algae.> I've had this on my sand since the tank was 1 month old. It never gets worse but I just cannot make it disappear. It's ugly and frustrating.   Given my parameters, any guesses on the cause of my persistent Cyano ???? Signed Stumped ! <This is perplexing. You may want to try increasing or changing the internal circulation. Getting pH and alk up a bit will sometimes help with dinoflagellates. Search WWM for pix & more info. You may also want to pick up Julian Sprung's "Algae: A Problem Solver Guide," which is a very useful and affordable resource. It may prove helpful.>


Beginner With Algae We recently purchased a 55 gallon glass aquarium and decided to go with salt water after doing a "little" research. after setting up with our live rock and sand we let the aquarium sit for about a week, and upon suggestion from one of the managers at our local store added 3 fish that would help speed up the cycle of our tank (about an inch a piece) they worked great the tank is up and running and looked beautiful, no sign of any problems.  Everything is reading normal and being tested everyday.  About 3 weeks ago we added a Picasso triggerfish and an eel (not sure the specific name). Things have been wonderful, until 1 week ago we started getting brown algae everywhere, rocks, heater, anything that stands still in there.  It is unsightly and we don't know how to get rid of it. <Usually it just rinses off. Lots of people use a bucket of salt water and rinse it off it in. It is a normal part and it usually goes quite quickly.> The guy at the pet store states this is normal...(but very unattractive on a tank). We removed everything out of the tank (except the fish and filter of course) and it still has progressed. <It will until it runs its normal course and you get the bacteria built up to handle it. The other thing you need to address is what is feeding that bacteria. Whether it be lighting, lighting time or organics in the water.>  We don't have a protein skimmer, running on a Fluval 304 filter and 2 32 watt tank lights. <What's the spectrum of the lights? > They are on for a while during the day...and I am thinking that we are definitely overfeeding (2-3 cubes of frozen food a day). <Might be wise to cut back on the feeding and lessen the lighting or perhaps change the spectrum of the bulbs.> I honestly think we should have done more research and don't want to face a very expensive lesson so please help!  I tried to read up on your website first but everything has acronyms and I am clueless to them. <Glad to help you with any acronyms needed.>  No live rock (just what came in the bag) or anemones, just fish....if you need more info before helping please let me know....we need serious help   Thanks, Just beginning in Michigan  <Live rock will only help you. I would suggest that you might also talk to some people in clubs near you. Michigan has a topnotch club called Michigan Reefers that I think you'll enjoy and you can contact them online. WWW.michiganreefers.com>

Water flow reducing nuisance algae 7/6/04 Anthony: You asked me to send an update on how things went with my algae problem after your advice to increase my water flow. I think you were correct. After a month of tripling the original flow in my 75-gallon tank, I still get a patch of red algae here and there and there is some hair algae, but it's not nearly what it was. It's very manageable now <ah, very good to hear. You can polish off the rest of it likely with more aggressive skimming and tweaking your feeding regime (smaller feedings, more frequently if needed) and being tidy with feeding habits like never adding thawed pack juice from frozen foods into the aquarium (always thaw froz. foods in cold water, then strain meat away for feeding... else the pack juice is rocket fuel for nuisance algae/nitrates, etc.)> (a toothbrushing here and there every few days) and I suspect it will get even better as I refine my flow system. I'm embarrassed to say that when I first wrote about this problem, all my water flow came from my return pump, probably about 450 gph. <wow... remarkably slow/low> Now I've got four power heads totaling 1,340 gph in the tank. What a difference. The fish and corals seem more healthy too. <indeed more natural> Here is my next question: I'd like to get the power heads out and replace the return pump so I can use the PVC ring setup that goes around the top of my tank for all my water movement. (It's 1/2" PVC with eight openings that is currently supplied by my small Little Giant pump.) <very good> However, I'm afraid of flooding the tank. I have two 1" holes in the back of the tank. One is now used to link the return pump to the PVC ring. I figure I can switch that to a second drain and then just plumb the new return pump directly into the PVC ring that runs around the top of the tank. However, I can't seem to get a consistent figure on how much water 1-inch holes in the back of a 75-gallon tank can handle. <they say up to 600 gph at a noisy running siphon level... but that is dangerous. Frankly, Id count only about half as much: 300 gph per 1" hole max> I would really like to do it this way both for aesthetics and because I could better direct the flow to all parts of the tank. But I really, really don't want the worry of possible flooding. <rather than be at the mercy of your drain holes as a rate limiting factor, why not feed the PVC ring manifold with a pump from inside the aquarium? this will be independent of the return pump on the sump and as such have no influence. No chance of flooding for it (they are unrelated). You can get some very small pumps that push a lot of water (like those submersible "silent ones")> (In fact, I've thought of just buying a large, fish-safe powerhead, like a big Rio, and running its output directly into the PVC system. I'd still have a powerhead in the tank, but I wouldn't have to worry about overflow. <I should read ahead <G>... yes, exactly> Plus, I'd probably get a little more power from my Little Giant pump by disconnecting it from the PVC ring and letting it return directly into the tank.) <no worries... you can get submersible pumps for this that far exceed the Little Giant of choice here and are more than you need> Questions, questions. Sorry this is so long. Again, you were correct about the water flow and I greatly appreciate your advice. Matt <best of luck, Anthony>

Yuck- It's Another Algae Problem! I have a 60 gallon reef tank, and lately this weird brown stringy algae with bubbles at the tip is appearing. I'm pretty sure its bubble algae. <Hmm.. sounds more like some other form of algae to me- maybe even dinoflagellates. Hard to be 100% certain without a pic.> I was wondering how do I get rid of it, what eats it or what do I have to do to get rid of it. Also, there is this algae on the glass and I don't know how to stop it  from appearing thanks.-Evan <Well, Evan- without a lot of background information on your tank, it's hard to make a absolute recommendation here. Fortunately, the WWM site has vast resources devoted to algae ID and control. Start with this article and check the other resources from there: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm I hope this points you in the right direction! Regards, Scott F>

- Algae Woes - Hello All: Thanks for the great resources!  Do you guys need donations? <Just don't donate the hair algae!> I am having problems with green hair algae.  I have a 75 gallon reef with a 30 gallon refugium where the skimmer resides.  I have some fish and a few SPS.  I do not want to stock anything more until I eliminate this issue. I have guiltily reduced my feeding frequency to every other day with no effect.  My Turboflotor skimmer is set to a wet foam to quickly eliminate waste.  It produces a clearish green muck.  My test numbers are as follows:  Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0, Phosphate 0-5 (the scale color codes are hard to distinguish), Ammonia 0, Ph 8.2.  I was unable to determine the calcium level because the color change between a completed test and incomplete test was too vague (I am expecting it to be low 200 Meql or a little better)  I do not totally understand the calcium/Alkalinity/Ph relationship yet. <You can read more about that here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm > And I plan on developing a better method of calcium addition, I currently use a liquid calcium additive that is suppose to be "balanced".  I see a lot of growth on my two clams and snails are getting bigger. As I was reading your FAQs someone referenced bubbles in the algae and you called them dinoflagellates (sp?).  What I have occasionally has bubbles... Additionally it was suggested that I cut in half my already reduced amount of illumination, to 3-4 hours to eliminate the algae.  I am using 2 96 watt VHO actinics, and 1 150 watt MH for a total of 7 hours.  They are on at different times.  Is it a good idea to reduce to 3-4?  I am also increasing the volume of water changed to 10 gallons per week. <Well... a couple of things come to mind here. Once algae problems have set in, incremental changes rarely have the desired effect. You need to take more drastic action. Reducing the feeding is a good start, but you'll probably have to get in there with your hands and clean some of that stuff out. Likewise, you probably need to take a look at increasing your circulation within the tank. The additional water changes will also help, but as I mentioned, don't look for any one thing to make a difference - you'll need to do all and then keep at it. More reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeasfriend.htm > Any info would be helpful! Thanks. Scott <Cheers, J -- >

Dinoflagellates....Help! First my tank specs: 44 gallon pentagon...sumpless AquaC Remora skimmer (running 24/7) Aqua Clear 300 running PhosBan, Purigen, and Foam Filter 70+ pounds of LR 4-6 inches DSB Lights: 1 250w 13k MH running 12 hours a day Hang on fuge housing Chaeto (and some dino too...ugh!) Lots of flow...2 MJ 1200s sawed off mod to randomize flow set on a wave timer...also two smaller Minijets down lower to keep the sand from accumulating a ton of this crap Various corals and a RBTA Fish: 2 False Percs, PJ Cardinal, Cherub Angel, Lubbock's Wrasse This problem began a few months ago...the dinos are definitely the photosynthetic kind as they only appear during the light cycle. I routinely blow it off my corals and rock with a baster. At first I thought it was a case of hair algae but eventually it started to look more like bubbly snot strings...my tank specs are PH 8.0-8.1 (lower at night)\ ALK 3 mg...trying to get that up with buffers but not really working temp 78 deg. stable...no fluctuations Nitrite Amm. 0 Nitrate...hardly noticeable on Seachem test...no more than 5-10 I am thinking of cutting my cycle down to 8 hours and I have already tried to cut back feeding...every other day and only enough that the fish need to eat...I have stopped feeding my RBTA all together as it really doesn't need supplemental feeding anymore. Here are my questions: 1. What can I do to curb the dinos?? << Skimming, but you are already doing that.  WATER CHANGE.  Grow more macro algae to compete with them, and lots of snails.  I mean lots, like 3 per gallon. >> I have been able to slow its growth...by no means it is out of control BUT who is to say I wont come home to a tank full of snot :) 2. My friend runs an ozonizer and can get me a complete set up with controller for around 150 bucks...not too bad...I have heard people getting good results and no results from using a ozonizer to combat Dinos...any ideas? << That may work, but I hate paying for expensive equipment.  But for $150 even if it doesn't help this problem, it will still help the tank in other areas. >> 3. I am looking into dripping Kalk to raise my PH and alk...would this be a good idea? << I like this idea. >> I really don't have a lot of room to put a doser in but looking to make one that would fit (smaller than the Kent's) above my system. << I add mine to my top off water. >> 4. I do regular water changes every two weeks (at least 10%)...sometimes every week...should I start changing daily? my RODI doesn't put out a ton of water so I don't know if I can keep up with a daily changing regimen. << No daily is overkill.  Try a 30% change every week or so.  Also, adding some more live sand or live rock will really help out as well. >> Please help...I really don't want this to get out of control...I finally got some clean up critters...probably not enough for my tank (around 15 snails) but it is a start...they seem to be cleaning up my powerheads (which accumulate the most Dinos by far!) but I don't know if it is really Dinos or just hair algae...the snails are margaritas, Turbos, and Cerith I think. I also don't know if I have a problem with oxygen in my tank...I was running a airstone in the tank to help although we are using AC because of the hot summer temp...so I don't know if my PH isn't optimal because I don't have enough oxygen in the room...HELP! :)<< Start with the water change, and more snails.  Go from there and see what happens. >> Bill <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Green reef (algae problem) Hi! I have a 45 gallon reef tank with some seriously green water.  Green enough that I can honestly say that I miss being able to see my fish. I've got a couple of damsels, a small hippo tang, a tomato clown, and a rose anemone, and a few other miscellaneous inverts and macroalgae.  I use and Eheim Ecco canister filter, CPR BakPak skimmer, an Ebo, a couple of powerheads for water flow, 196 watts in powercompacts, and about 50 pounds of liverock.  My system is about 9 months old, but saw a major revamping about 3 months ago.  My water conditions are perfect, aside from about 10ppm of nitrates.  The green started two weekends ago when I was out of town for a few days, and has become progressively worse ever since.   I did add iodine, strontium, essential elements (all Kent), and calcium (Salifert) with a water change before I left (about the time things started to head downhill)...big mistake?   I did a 15% water change a week ago, and another 25% change yesterday, but the green just comes back with a vengeance.  My LFS assured me that it was because of the heat spell, which made sense to me, because we DID have a heat spell last week which brought my water up to around 82, but I've since brought it down to 78 and the problem continues.  I clean the skimmer daily, I've got all my fish fasting, and I've been using RO/DI water with Tropic Marin sea salts for the changes. Aside from water changes...what can I do?  UV sterilizing?  Will my system be fine if I just sit it out and wait for nature to run it's course through my tank?  Thanks for your help! Scott << Scott, it just may be your lucky day.  A club member of mine had this exact problem about two months ago.  People suggested everything, and he tried everything.  Then one day he added a UV sterilizer.  None of us thought it would work, but it cleared it up in one day!  It was unbelievable.  Please borrow or purchase one, and let me know if that works.  I would be very interested to know if that was the real solution, or a coincidence. >> <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Dying tangs and mystery algae I have had a 72 gallon tank running now for three years.  Current tank inhabitants are a Maroon Clownfish (added 2 1/2 years ago), six line wrasse (added almost three years ago), Highfin Cardinalfish (added three years ago), Watchman goby (added 2 years ago), Royal Gramma, Pajama Cardinalfish, and blue Chromis (all added a few months ago). Water Parameters are as follows:  ammonia=0, nitrite=0, nitrate=5, phosphate=0, ph=8.2-8.3.  I have lots of hard and soft corals and a starfish. My tank used to have a ton of coralline algae to the point where it became annoying.  About six months ago, I scraped off the coralline algae and then my tank went through a series of mishaps- the power went out for 14 hours, the heater got unplugged for a day in the middle of the winter, my powerhead on my sump broke, you name it!  When the sump broke, a lot of water leaked all over and out of sheer emergency, I added a bunch of tap water because I didn't have any RO water available.  This is when all the problems started.   I lost my yellow tang in the power outage which I had for over 2 years.   Then several weeks later, I started to get a colorless/slightly copper algae that started to cover all the rocks.  Some of that is left still, but then the algae mainly turned into a hairy green algae.  I have tried everything to get rid of it- I turned my lights off for a day and then left them on for only 4 hours a day for over a week.  I lost many of my corals, which I have now replaced. I tried getting new bulbs in my lights.  I tried adding phosphate sponges. I did water changes with RO water. Then I got about 20 snails and 60 hermits.  Practically all of them are dead.  The shells are empty now and lying in the sand.  My sea urchin (which was over a year old) lost its spines and died.  I have tried water changes, using "Chemi clean", manual removal, but the algae keeps coming back. It covers the back wall, the powerheads, some of the rocks, my Porites coral, and my green polyps.   No matter what I do, it keeps coming back.  Earlier I mentioned that I lost my tang in the power outage.  Well I love yellow tangs and wanted to replace it. So I got another one.  It lived about a month then got thin and died.   So I got several more.  I have bought probably at least four or fiver.  They live one or two days and then they die.  I always notice they have a slight reddish color on the top and bottom edges of the dorsal fins and also red where the transparent fin connects.    I decided to wait a couple of months to get a tang. Then I got another yellow tang last weekend.  It was a perfectly healthy specimen.   Fat and full.  It had been at the pet store for several weeks.  As soon as I put it in the tank, it started grazing the rocks and ate some of my Caulerpa.  I watched it graze for hours and felt that it was going to adjust very well.  When I got up the next morning, the tang was lying on its side breathing heavily.  Then it died.  I took it out and put it in a plastic bag to see if the pet store could find out why it died so rapidly.  I also brought in a sample of water and a bag of the algae.  The tang again had the reddish coloring on the top and bottom and where the fin connects.  The pet store thought for sure it died of ammonia poisoning but when he tested the water, the water was fine (the parameters I mentioned earlier).  We figured the algae might be the culprit, so he took some home and looked at it under a microscope.  He called and said that it had microscopic creatures in it that kind of look like copepods.  He described them as being oval shaped with two horns on one side and a thin tail on the other side.  He seems to think that this creatures were eaten by the tang and that maybe they attacked its gallbladder.  Have you ever heard of this happening?  << I have not heard of this happening. >>Are these creatures a host of the algae?  << Typically if a fish is going to eat the algae, it is because they know it is good for them.  They have natural instincts that tell them not to eat stuff that will kill them. >>Could it be dinoflagellates?  If so, I do I possibly get this out of my tank?  Am I ever going to be able to keep a tang again? << Of course, I'm not sure how we'll figure this out, but I'm sure we will. >> Herbivore creatures have seemed to die very quickly lately-- hermits, snails, sea urchin, flame angels, arrow crabs, and of course the tangs. << Don't add any more fish.  Lets tackle the algae issue first. >> The starfish and all my other fish are fine.  I am sorry this is so long.  I just can't find any information and I don't  know how to fix my problem.  Hope to hear from you soon. << I would suggest testing the tank water for some other elements, copper in particular.  Also, I've seen craps and snails all die when alkalinity was high, so please check your alkalinity as well. My next advice is to run a protein skimmer, and grow as much "other algae" (like Caulerpa taxifolia or C. racemosa).  They will compete with whatever you have, and hopefully remove the nutrients that are causing the problem. >> << I realize this has been going on for a while, but patience will pay off, just keep waiting. >> <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Hair Algae in Refugium 5/30/04 Hi Crew, I have a quick question for you this time.  My refugium is being overgrown by hair algae, which is choking-out my Gracilaria and Caulerpa.  What do you recommend I add to eat hair algae (but that will not eat 'pods).  I have a Synchiropus picturatus and a Synchiropus splendidus so I cannot afford to impact my 'pod population.  I did add a few red leg hermits and two tiger tail cucumbers to the refugium (I also had a Cyano problem) but these do not appear to have any impact on the hair algae. <No hermits are really good algae eaters.  You may consider a comb tooth blenny (Sailfin, lawnmower, bicolor, etc.), but your best bet may be manual removal.> I have a small pygmy angel that loves hair algae (and I would love to remove it from my main tank because it also loves to nip at my Lobophyllia) but I am concerned it would eat 'pods too.  I also have a lawnmower blenny but, as well as it likes carnivore pellet food, I am also concerned with this fish eating 'pods. <The angel is a much bigger risk to 'pods than the lawnmower blenny, but even the blenny may eat quite a few, even if it is only incidental to eating the algae.  However, the impact will probably be no greater than any other control method.> Would a lettuce Nudibranch be a good choice or do you have a better suggestion? <Lettuce Nudibranchs would likely eat the Caulerpa before the hair algae.  I am still thinking that manual removal is your best option.> Thank you for the help! --Greg <Glad to!  Adam>

Pesky Hair Algae 6/14/04 Hi, guys...thanks again for all your help over the past two years; you are truly terrific.  I would like to ask you another question. <Thanks for the kind words, and fire away!> I have a 140-gallon reef tank, including a modest number of fish, including one purple tang, a true percula, three small sapphire Chromis . a Midas goby and two lawnmower blennies, along with an assortment of soft corals.  (The tank was converted from a 75-gallon in January).  I have been dealing with an increasing hair algae problem for the past two months, and have recently been attacking it vigorously.  Taking your advice, the situation has improved substantially, and the corals are looking much better.  But the hair algae is still somewhat of a problem, and I would like your views on whether there is anything else I can/should do. <Looking at your pics, it either isn't all that bad, or you are doing a good job of controlling it.> After reading your article and FAQs on hair algae, I have, during the past two weeks, brought my alk up to 10dKH, cut the lighting (PC compacts) to about 11 hours/day, reduced the amount of daily food, added 20 more snails and hermit crabs, kept the mechanical filter (sponge) clean, basted and brushed religiously and have been filtering out the phosphate weekly with Kent phosphate sponge granules (removing after 48 hours). <Are you also maintaining calcium in the proper range (380-420)?  Also, if the Kent phosphate sponge is a white colored alumina based product, you may wish to seek out one of the safer and more powerful iron oxide hydroxide products (looks like red kitty litter).  Otherwise, it sounds like you are taking the right steps.> I also have been using a Poly-filter and Chemi-Pure (though the latter probably needs replacement -- it's been in the sump for about 4-5 months).  I have always used a Euro-Reef skimmer (which seems to be taking a lot of "gunk" out of the tank), and have had a fair amount of Caulerpa in the tank for a while, though some of that went "vegetative" about a week ago, and so I removed and thinned it where necessary.  I have always used RO water, and have been doing my water changes (about 30 gallons every two weeks). <All sounds good, although I am in favor of using small amounts of carbon and changing it frequently.  Also, I have never really felt that products that supposedly remove all of the "bad stuff" and don't remove any of the "good stuff" can really live up to their claims.  These products are costly and probably of little benefit.> Is there anything else I should be doing?  More frequent and/or larger water changes?  Increasing the use of Chemi-Pure (or another form of activated carbon)?  More frequent changes to the Poly-filter?  Cut the food down even more?  Reduce lighting further?   <It would say just to keep up what you are doing and have patience.  It often takes many months to turn around a serious algae problem.  You can probably save some money on the Chemi-pure and PolyFilters in favor of the iron based phosphate removers (they are a bit more expensive than alumina based).> I don't want to overdo it (the "perfect" is probably the enemy of the "good"), but would sure like to eliminate the hair algae entirely if possible.  Or should I leave "well enough" alone, and just keep doing what I'm doing?  Perhaps just more patience is the right PX.  I am attaching two photos of the tank, in the event that this will help.  Sorry for the length of this letter.  And thanks again for all your splendid assistance! Best, Ralph (Block), Westlake Village, CA   <Wow!  You answered your own question.  Eliminating every trace of algae is probably impossible and may not even be desirable.  It gives your fish something to nibble on and serves as habitat for microcrustaceans.  If you can get close without making yourself insane or going broke on phosphate remover and sea salt, I would take that as a win.  And time does definitely help!  Best Regards.  Adam>

Re: Pesky Hair Algae 6/14/04 Hi, Adam...thanks so much for your very valuable guidance.  I'll look into your suggestions such as iron oxide hydroxide and small, frequent carbon changes, and will just continue to peck away at the problem, being patient. I was hoping that I was pretty much doing the right thing, and you have confirmed this.  Much obliged  Best, Ralph <It is my pleasure!  I probably should have mentioned some brands of Iron oxide hydroxide phosphate removers...  Rowaphos, Salifert and Two little fishes all make versions.  Although you will probably be limited by which one is available to you, I would shop price if you have a choice.  Regards.  Adam>

Silica Substrate And A Nasty Algae Bloom Hello All, <Hi there! Scott F., here today> Thanks for all your help in the past. <You're quite welcome! We're thrilled to be here for you!> I made a mistake when setting up my reef 75G Reef Tank.  I used Silica based sand (aprox 100lbs).  I am having trouble controlling algae growth in the tank now. <Yuck> The tank has been up for 3 months ( a transfer from a smaller tank that was running a year). I have  50 lbs of live rock. Aqua C 180 Skimmer Eheim Canister (w/ 2 bags of Chemi Pure) Power Compact 4x 65  (12 hour Photo period) 33 Gallon Sump 5 Fish Small False Perc (2") Royal Gramma    (3") Coral Beauty        (2") Yellow Tang         (3") Hippo Tang          (3") Various Soft Corals Clean up crew (snails, hermits, 1 bristle star & 1 Serpent star) I use R/O water and change 15% every two weeks. I have brown algae and green hair algae problems.  What suggestions do you have for correcting the problem other than removing the sand? Would a "fuge" help? What type of Macro Algae should be used? If sand removal is my only option, How? <A refugium could help to export some of the nutrients. My favorite macroalgae for this purpose are Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha. The silica-based substrate will continue to be a factor in your algae problems. It's hard to say just how much of a contributor, however, because it really depends upon the rate of dissolution of your substrate material. On the whole, I'd rather ditch the silica material and replace with live sand. You can do it all at once, or slowly, one section at a time (either way, you'll be disrupting the system and exposing it to some trauma). I suppose the more conservative approach would be one section at a time. Continued use of chemical filtration media (activated carbon/Poly Filter) can help export additional nutrients and compounds, as well.> Last I did a lot of research on the skimmer (should have invested that time on sand research) and chose the Aqua C.  I am getting little skimmate from the skimmer about 1/4 cup every 2-3 days I keep adjusting the gate valve to try to get better performance but no success, any suggestions? Thanks, Brian <I'd contact Jason Kim at Aqua C. Her's a super guy, and can give you a lot of tips on making this excellent skimmer do a better job. Usually, it's just a series of simple adjustments that will do the trick. Good luck to you! Regards, Scott F>

Nasty Nuisance Algae! WWM Guru's, <Not a guru- just Scott F. here today!> I have been in this hobby for about 2 years and owe much of what I know to you and this site. What I don't know yet is a result of not yet reading it on my daily visit to WWM. <That's a very flattering compliment. Thanks! We appreciate the kind words!> I have a 26 gallon Bow-Front Reef set-up (about a year old now) with most softies and a few SPS. There are 3 relatively small (<4 inches) Tridacna clams, and four small fish (a coral goby, a 3 inch Midas blenny, a 3 inch "Yellow Coris" wrasse and a 3 inch Orchid Dottyback). I have the requisite clean-up crew consisting of a mixture of Blue and Red Leg Hermits, Scarlet Hermits and snails. I have about 38 lbs of live rock, a Fluval 204 Canister Filter (that I clean every 2 weeks) and an Aqua C Remora protein skimmer with the MaxiJet pump and skimmer box. I have a 24 inch fixture with a 150 watt 10,000K HQI and 2-5500K actinics. The top of the tank is covered with egg crate to help keep it cool. I do weekly 5 gallon water changes with Red Sea Salt. Currently my parameters (tested by me and verified by my LFS) are: Specific gravity 1.025, pH is 8.3, 0 ammonia, nitrates and nitrite. Phosphates are about 0.1 which is a little high according to the LFS, Calcium at 400 and alkalinity at 10. Every second day I dose the tank (at night) with Ocean Blend's Calcium and Alkalinity.  <Sounds okay...> Having said all of this my tank looks like crap. <Don't hold back your feelings...let it all out- heh, heh!> Over the last 6 weeks it has developed a greenish brown algae that is collecting everywhere. I have to remove it every two to three days. I have placed carbon and phosphate sponges in the Fluval but they don't seem to be making an impact. My last 2 water changes have been about 8 gallons each, pretty massive in a 26 gallon tank (really about 19 gallons of water). I am stumped as to what to do here. I thought that my regimen was a sound one and in the absence of any real chemistry issue I don't know what else to try. Is the phosphate critically high at 0.1? Is the tank horribly over-stocked? Is there something else that I should be measuring? Help!! Bob Jones <Well, Bob- I think that you should get a silicate test kit and run some tests on your source water and tank water. I'll bet that you have significant silicate levels in your water. Silicate is very commonly implicated in brown algae blooms. Despite your excellent water change regimen, you're essentially re-fueling the algae every time you make a change. It's important to pre-treat source water to obtain the most purified source water possible. I'd look into a good RO/DI unit, preferably one with a good silicate removal stage as well. With your continued good husbandry (but with better source water!) and aggressive protein skimming, your nuisance algae problems will soon be a thing of the past! Hang in there! Regards, Scott F> 

Attacking Red Algae... On top of one of my life rocks are little clear bubbles covered by a thin red film. <Yuck> I thought they were just air bubbles on the rock and when I touched them, the red film ripped. Is this all algae? <Sounds like Cyanobacteria, "red slime algae", commonly found in tanks with excessive nutrient levels, particularly phosphates> I can send I picture, but the digital image usually is blurry. My phosphates are pretty high. I put phosphate remover in my canister filter but that seems to only last a day. <Phosphate removal media usually have life spans on the order of weeks, depending on the amount of phosphates in your system> Someone told me about Rowaphos, how long does that last? <Weeks to a month, depending on concentration, as indicated above> Is phosphate remover the only way to remove phosphates? <Nope. You can help export phosphates through aggressive protein skimming and use of chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon, etc. Careful feeding, and use of quality source water will also help do the trick. Don't give up! Regards, Scott F.>

A Pestilence of Hair Algae (5/24/04) Hey guys, <Steve Allen tonight> I have a green hair algae problems, what is the best way to eradicate in a reef, some certain cleaner critter? <Lawnmower blennies usually eat it, but relying on a critter to control it is folly in the long run. Hair algae is the result of too many nutrients (AKA fish waste and excess food) in the system. And also have in my fish only tank with triggers, how do I remove without cleaner critters as the triggers will undoubtedly kill them. <A large Lawnmower Blenny ought to be safe.> Thanks, Louie <Unfortunately, you're barking up the wrong tree here. The hit-and-miss addition of "hair-algae-eating" critters is not the answer. Getting your nitrates down to under 10 and your phosphate to zero is the solution. This requires serious discipline in stocking and feeding and water-changing. All you need to know on this is already on WWM, as this (plagues of undesirable algae) is probably one of the top ten most common problems we get asked about. Search on "hair algae" and read for an hour or three. If you have a lot of it on your rocks, you could try removing them one at time and scrubbing it off in a plastic pail of saltwater with a brand-new (never used in detergent) plastic dish brush. But it will only grow back if you do not get the fertilizer out of the water. Good luck.> 

Algae control 4/28/04 Do I need to feed it still?   <if you still see the feeding tentacles at night... yes, please> If so, how, since all the flesh is gone? <seems so by day... do look for tentacles at night> Also, how do I take care of an undying red-algae strike in my tank? <will be easy... it is simply about nutrient control (read more in our extensive archives about curing plague red/any algae. Feed carefully (never throw frozen food straight in the tank... thaw and drain away pack juice which is rocket fuel for algae), get dark skimmate daily from your skimmer (tweak it or get a better design/brand), do weekly water changes, etc)> I've done water changes but it keeps coming back everyday! Is it toxic for my tank? Your response is greatly appreciated once again... <much to read/learn in the archives my friend... please use it well. It is what we've all worked so hard to build for friends like you in need of information. Anthony>

Red hair blues Hi There <How goes it? Michael here>  I have a 90 gal reef to be with a small hammer, Galaxea and several zoanthids. There is a hippo and Kole tank, 1-clown, a scooter blenny a royal Gramma. 3 cleaner shrimp, several hermits and 30 or so assorted snails. For filtration I have a ev-120 in a sump divided from a 20 gal refugium with 3 types of macros, about 4" of sand and 5" of rock. Lately I have a bad slime algae outbreak. it started when I upgraded to halide lights, but has always been a bit of an issue even before the halides. <Nuisance algal blooms are an indicator of sub par water quality. What are your nitrates and phosphates??> It seems there is a lot of detritus in the refugium. <Could definitely be the cause of high DOC's - why is it still in there?> I don't have critters other than naturally occurring pods in there and the red algae is bad in the refugium too. I'm getting frustrated, the fuge was put in to combat the algae an the skimmer upgraded for the same reason. I change 10% of the water a week with RO/di. <May want to change a bit more, or more often> I really really want to get rid of this slimy red algae. would removing all the sand and algae and just having the big skimmer and more rock the way to go? <No reason to do anything that drastic, I'm sure we can solve this> should I vacuum the sand in the fuge?? Should I pour bleach in the tank? (just kidding). I have read all kind of stuff on this awesome site. Can you help?? <Try the following: Test your nitrates and phosphates. If your nitrates are above 5 ppm, change your water more often, or change a larger volume. If you detect phosphates, try using Seachem's SeaGel or Poly Bio Marine's PolyFilter to remove them. You may also want to purchase some of the tiny Mexican red leg hermits from www.garf.org, as they eat slime "algae" (Actually Cyanobacteria). Let me know how it turns out, and send me your nitrate\phosphate readings. M. Maddox>

Red Hair Blues (4/29/04)  Thanks for the response. <Hope I helped!> I will change 15 gal out this week and get a phosphate kit. <Always a good investment> They have been at 0 from the LFS results but I don't totally trust them. <I recommend obtaining an accurate kit of your own> They've given me too much totally wrong advice. Should I vacuum the fuge out?? <try stirring up the slime and siphoning it out>  I don't want to disturb the sand bed. <Yes, be careful if it's a DSB> Nitrates have been between 5 and 10 and getting better. <Try to keep below 5>  I will let you know what's going on. <Sounds good>  Thanks!! <No problems, good luck - M. Maddox>

I want one! (4/29/04)  Thank you Michael for your advice. <Glad to have been of service> FYI to clarify, the tank is a 180g and I have budgeted space & money for a 300g in a year or two to house these guys as they get larger. <Excellent>  The golden puffer IS gorgeous, the nicest I've ever seen, and he's a little bigger than my clown trigger, so they get along ok. <*turns green*>  The only chaos is at feeding time when they and my full-grown snowflake mimic one of those B-movies where piranha attack some pour soul that fell in the water! <Judging from the thrashings of my 1" brackish puffers, I can imagine!>  I am using Phosguard already to combat the phosphate, and along with water changes and scrubbing rocks clean (outside the tank) it is working slowly but surely. <Awesome. Keep at it and you should be relatively free in a few weeks>  Thanks again and have a good day. <Anytime, and you too. M. Maddox>

Algae Bloom Hi guys, <hello! Ryan with you> I have just started a tank about 1 month ago and I am growing some sort of algae. <OK> It looks like dandelion seeds (the fluffy ones that get everywhere). It is growing very fast but it has seeded itself under my LR ledge there are now 2 colonies I will be sending pics soon as I can.<OK> Also how long before I grow macro algae I got some velvet looking stuff. <I'm not sure I understand your question> It is green velvet red velvet purple velvet, and bright orange velvet stuff. Thanks for your time guys. <Hi, I don't really know what you're looking for here- But I'll refer you to a great article on nuisance algae. Read on: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm >

The Return of The Brown Plague! (Nuisance Algae)  Hi - I have had for some years a 75 gal reef and for the last 2 years have tried aragonite sugar sand substrate. I had a child related major tank stress (pump unplugged due to sucking air w/ resultant annoying noise!) for 3 days which killed 95% of my corals.  <Yikes!>  4 of fish did fine. Lost Mandarin, still have a 5-6" Blue Tang, 4-5" Purple Tang, mature Percula Clown and mature Royal Gramma. I was already having a brown hair algae or Cyanobacteria overgrowth problem, and in researching this found your site.  <Great for both of us!>  I realized part of my problem might have been having only a 2-3" sand bed and dead circulation zones due to live rock, so I  decided to revamp everything due to the disaster. I built my own acrylic sump w/ an intake baffle and a output baffle w/ a 6" deep x34"x15" aragonite sugar sand bed in between.  <Sounds very nice!>  Using a MagDrive 2400gph pump and a manifold in the tank with 8 returns and a CPR overflow box rated at 1600gph with extra pump output diverted over the sand bed. Filtration is only a  Red Sea Berlin Turbo. Only 1/4-1/2" sugar sand in the tank.  <Good practice if you're not looking at a deep sand bed in the display tank>  I added 6 Turbo snails, 8 'red foot moon snails' (Nassarius?? sp.), 12 Astreas, 48 micro hermits. Using ReefCrystals @ 1.023-1.025, 77-78 degrees w/chiller. 2 110w actinic white VHO, 2 110w actinic blues. Fine for ~3-4wks then here comes the same brown stuff! Problems:??  <Well, all sorts of potential causes here. First and foremost may be source water. You may be utilizing water that has high levels of nitrate or phosphate. RO/DI water is a big help. If you are using an RO/DI unit, be sure to check the membranes and replace them if they become exhausted. Continuous use of activated carbon and/or Poly Filter can help remove some of these substances once they are in the water. Make sure that you protein skimmer is yanking you at least a couple of cups of dark, stinky stuff each week. If it isn't, adjust it 'till it does, or get a new skimmer! This is one of the most important pieces of equipment that you can have in a marine tank. Also, don't forget that most new tanks experience such algal blooms, as the nutrient export processes within the tank are not yet mature. Regular small water changes with high quality source water is another step you can take to control the buildup of excess nutrients>  I used the same sand from the old tank and topped off w/ one new bag to get the 6" depth. I did not rinse the old sand as it had lots of nice 1 -1 1/2" worms in it.  <Very beneficial, IMO.>  The tangs are too much bioload?  <Well, they can be very "productive", in terms of waste. Personally, I think that two tangs in this sized tank is too much. I doubt that it is the sole cause of your algae bloom, however. Usually, nuisance algae blooms are a result of several factors. The solutions are almost always the same: aggressive, consistent nutrient export practices, and the passage of time>  Other? Solutions:?? An order from Indo Pacific Sea Farms w/ live sand booster, sifting stars&clams, more snails and hermits, amphipods?  <Adding bioload.. hmmm>  New live rock? <Can help, but not the "only solution">  Better skimmer? <A very good step>  Ditch the old sand?  <How about supplementing with some "fresh" live sand>  I already plan to replace the tangs w/ a flame angel and a flame back angel due to size.  Anything else?  <A good move, IMO>  Thank you very much, Puzzled in Texas, George Mannel  <Hang in there.. Things will get better! Review the concepts briefly mentioned here, and go to it! Regards, Scott F.>

Ongoing Algae Problems 3/30/04  I have a 40 gallon breeder reef tank that has a 4" sandbed and the following inhabitants:  1 - Blue Tang  2 - Flame Scallops  1 - Rose Anemone  1 - Cleaner Shrimp  1- Emerald Crab  4 - Hermit type crabs  2 - Sand Sifting Stars  1 - Small Bubble Coral  1 - Small Metallic Green Moon Brain Coral  1 - Small red Zoanthus  1 - Medium green star polyp  20 lbs of live rock  Is this overcrowded?  <Perhaps not now, but as things grow.... Also, the blue tang will quickly outgrow this tank.>  Several months ago I started having issues with a brownish red colored algae showing up on the glass and the top of the fine sand. Initially I tried reducing the feedings to every other day which consisted of the following:  2 tsp of marine snow and or a small sliver of Cyclop-eeze  1/12 or less of a frozen food cube (formula 1 or 2 etc. )  1/4 frozen cube to anemone once per week  Very small cube every other day to the shrimp  <Sounds reasonable. Do watch that most of it is getting eaten by something. The algae you describe sounds like Cyanobacteria, and it's growth is supported by low current along with elevated organics.>  After reducing feeding to every other day to reduce waste the algae continued so I tried a red slime powder product but had no luck. Then I tried a product called Chemi clean, no luck with that either (did thorough cleanings prior to and after treatment including water changes) I currently use R/O water purchased at a Culligan R/O retail machine at my local Wal-Mart and doing faithful water changes (7 gals) every two weeks.  <R/O from a source you like you described is iffy. You don't know how well it is maintained, and these machines often have copper plumbing.>  I ring out the prefilter sponge weekly and the sump sponge every 2 weeks. I had been rinsing the blue floss filter and reusing but started using new thinking that the bacteria and or algae may be lingering in the filter media. Is this possible?  <I would discard disposable filter media just to be sure. I would step up the prefilter and sump sponge to every few days.>  I then tried Kent's Poly-Ox but found it was sensitive to inverts as it killed two of my sally lightfoot.  <This is very powerful stuff. I would strongly recommend a RedOx meter when using this.>  I also tried SeaChem's Phosguard product, a Poly Filter and carbon. No luck.  <Hmmm... Generally reducing phosphate helps here. I am thinking more and more that this is a water movement problem.>  I then begun to wonder if it was the excess light that was getting in through the closed blinds and open half moon style window. So I had the window professionally tinted and put black construction paper over the half moon window to reduce the daylight. My lights (192W compact flour) come on at 4:00pm and shut off at midnight)  <The extended photoperiod could be contributing, but I wouldn't suspect too much. I certainly applaud your commitment!>  I was told that if I purchased a UV sterilizer and continued to scrub off the algae and stir up the sand that it would flow through the UV and kill the algae and or red slime bacteria. I purchased a Aqua UV brand with a wiper to clean the algae off the quartz lens. It is an 8watt since I probably only have about 33 or so gallons after the displacement by sand & rock. All of my parameters look good. Nitrates occasionally get between 5-10 but never higher. Tonight's Phosphate test showed zero. I am so frustrated and don't know what else to do.  <The UV may help a bit, but it won't actually be exporting any of the offending nutrients. I would suggest the same plan, but using heavy mechanical filtration to remove the bits of algae. Clean the filter immediately after this process. Repeat frequently, and you should get ahead of it fairly quickly.>  Also, If I bought a microscope and put a sample on a slide would I be able to determine if this was in fact a bacteria or just normal algae? Do you have any pics of what red slime bacteria looks like under a microscope? Thanks for your time. Robert  <I am not sure what to direct you to look for, and a more accurate ID doesn't really change the treatment.... More water movement, mechanically filtering bits of dislodged algae, aggressive water changes and a skimmer. Best Regards. Adam>

Extreme Algae HELP ME! HELP ME!      I am running a 20 gallon with 10 gallon sump, FOWLR tank with a percula, barnacle blenny, cleaner shrimp, and Rainford goby.  I also have three turbo snails and two hermit crabs.  My water is testing at 0 = nitrates, nitrites, ammonia and dKH= 10.  I have an AquaClear 150 running in the main tank and an AquaC urchin skimmer in the sump.  I have extreme algae growing in my tank.  It is micro algae, green, and no sooner do I scrape it off that it is back (grows back in about 1-2 hours).  I have been changing the water everyday for three days and still no help.     For lights I have a custom SeaLife 120Watt hood with two Moonlites and they are on for 10 hours actinic blue, 8 hours daylight +actinic, Moonlite all night.   I was wondering what can be done to solve my insane, out of control, running wild, green algae problem.<It probably is nutrients in your water source...try purchasing an RO/DI unit and filtering your water....do check phosphate levels within your water. IanB> Thanks, Mike

Algae Control and Other Issues (3/23/04) Dear Crew, <Steve Allen today> Thank you for all the help in the past and in the future.  I was curious if there is a specific email address I should send my questions as I do frequently not get replies. <Odd. I do remember reading the reply to the cowfish/Dottyback query in the daily FAQs very recently. Perhaps you have some sort of filter on your e-mail locally or at your ISP that is blocking our replies. All queries go to crew@wetwebmedia.com>   My last question that didn't receive a reply was this "Thank you for the help so far, WWM has been very helpful.  I was interested in buying a cowfish and a royal Dottyback. <Bad combo. The Dottyback will likely harass the cowfish, which then may release its toxin and kill everything in your tank, including itself. Also, cowfish eventually get very large and will likely eat your inverts. I would not consider them "reef-safe."> The cowfish is just a little (for now) yellow guy with black dots and of course you know the royal dotty back.  Are these guys safe with false percula clowns, banded coral shrimp, green brittle star, and algae blenny.  I have read that the cowfish is omnivorous and I do have a fair bit of green algae and black algae (trying to get rid of, just got another powerhead to increase water movement as WWM stated). <Good move. Nutrient control is the key. Don't count on a Cowfish to eat this. It is not known for algae-grazing.> I have also read that the royal Dottyback is very territorial will this be a problem with the other tank mates?? <It will harass and smaller, similar-shaped or timid fish.> I am wanting to do a partial reef partial fish tank are these 2 reef safe, I know the cowfish nips at some corals, anemones. <In other words, it is not reef safe.>  I also had a question about the power head I just bought.  Are all powerheads submersible?  I bought the Pro 4 by Hagen, which pumps 240-425 GPH, it has a water line located on the side.  Am I able to submerse it as it states it is a submersible?? <Most Hagen's are, but you can easily contact them at their excellent website and inquire.> Finally I read that you should have a GPH flow of 5X -10X the tank size.  Now are these imperial or metric GPHs. <Well, there's no such thing as "metric" gallons. Metric is liters. Imperial gallons are used in the UK and maybe some other former colonies. They are bigger than US gallons. The US gallon is about 3.8 liters and the Imperial is about 4.5.  I am 99% sure that the flows on Hagen's are listed in US gallons.> Just curious not to worried as they are FAIRLY similar. <Actually, the difference adds up quickly as you get to larger amounts:  240-425 USG is 200-354 IG.>   I also was curious about algae control.  I read over http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and did what I could.  The main thing was to increase the water movement. <Nutrient control is more important.> I added a 400gph pump which after a few days seems to have encouraged the growth of the algae. I have removed all water that comes with frozen foods but still no luck. <Measure your nitrates and phosphate levels. Get them down if high. Phosphate is especially important to keep very low to zero. Do you use RO water? If not, you may be introducing large quantities of these algae fertilizers with every top-off and water change as levels are quite high in some localities.>   The algae in question is black and forms long threads and has spread rather quickly in the last week. <Sounds like slime algae.> I also have a lot of coralline algae by the looks of it on my aragonite is this bad? <Coralline usually sticks to rocks & glass rather than sand. Could it be more of a purple Cyanobacteria. Check some pix on the web.> I have tried to purchase snails but my local store never seems to have any on hand.  Could you please tell me the difference between snails, trachea snails and turbo snails in terms of algae control and coral compatibility? <Read the snail articles and FAQ on WWM--the info you need about snails is there. Rather odd that your LFS has no snails. Did you ask why? Most have zillions because they profit greatly by selling them.> Thank you so much for everything, and I do apologize for the lengthy emails.  I just feel as though I get the run around at my local fish store. <Are there others that are not too far away you could check?> Thank you again, Todd Hawman <Hope this helps.>

Dangerous Dinoflagellate, Or Just Another Yucky Nuisance Alga? I hate to bother you guys, but I've cruised the site for two days and can't pin down my problem.  I have an 8 month old 58, light fish load, mushrooms, xenia, all very simple and basic (in keeping with my abilities!).  I also have/had some Caulerpa in the tank to help with nutrient export.  About two weeks ago, I started getting a sort of brownish, hair like algae growing on he substrate first, then onto everything else.  When it gets on the Caulerpa, the Caulerpa turns a reddish color, and a sort of slime forms on it, inside which I get lots of air bubbles.  The air bubbles are forming on the rocks now too, and I gotta tell ya, slime-encased air bubbles are not a pretty site.  I removed as much of the Caulerpa as I could (worrying of course that I was removing my nutrient export system).  That just seemed to make the algae (if it is algae) grow faster on the substrate, live rock, etc.  After reading everything I can find, I'm a bit worried that this is Gambierdiscus toxicus.  My lawnmower blenny is starting to behave a little strangely, sort of hyper and generally behaving out of character with his usual laid back demeanor.  I've also had a couple of snails die in the last week.  Wish I could find a pic of a tank with the Gambierdiscus in it to see if that's what this is.  My questions are:  Is this probably Gambierdiscus toxicus, will it hurt my blenny, and whatever it is, how do I get rid of it?? Thanks, Tom <Well, Tom, without a photo-in fact, without an analysis by a aquatic botanist, it would probably be tough to determine exactly what species you're dealing with. The bottom line is that I'd assume that all of these types of algae are potentially problematic, and that their control and eradication should be a priority! These types of algae are generally easily eliminated through stepped-up nutrient export processes, such as use of aggressive protein skimming, use of activated carbon and/or Poly Filter, and quality source water. When removing this yucky stuff manually, take care to siphon the algae without breaking off and distributing the algae throughout the tank! It can spread very quickly if given the opportunity! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

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