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FAQs on Marine Algae and Their Control 8

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

Related FAQs: Marine Algae Control FAQs 1, Marine Algae Control 2, Marine Algae Control 3, Marine Algae Control 4, Marine Algae Control 5, Marine Algae Control 6, Marine Algae Control 7, Marine Algae Control 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

Orbit Lighting Hi WWM. <Hello>  I have a orbit 48" lighting system with 260 watts. Is this enough lighting for a reef?  <For most inverts, yes. Do search on the Wet Web, this information is there.>  I only have live rock and some snails and shrimp in there. Also have like long strings of green algae growing at the bottom and on the lower rocks. Is this in connection with the lights?  <More so from excess nutrients.>  I keep the blue lights ( 130 watts ) on from noon to midnight and the white lights ( 130 watts ) from 3 pm till 9 pm. so from 3 to 9 there is a full 260 watts on. should I keep the white light off so that the algae can disappear?  <It will only go away by controlling nutrients. See "algae control" on the Wet Web.>  The tank is fallow since 3 weeks ago. feeding is done once a day for the snails, shrimp and crabs, just some flake food mixed with some frozen mysis shrimp and 0.5 ml of Selcon. I let it sit in the cup for about 15 minutes before I add it to the tank. This algae seems to keep haunting me cause I cant figure out why it keeps coming back. I think it is the lights. Should I just leave the blue lights on for 12 hours a day only? or shorten the time? Maybe only 6 hours a day? Maybe the food? Should I feed only every other day? I do a 2 gallon water change every Wednesday and Saturday. I have a 55g reef. One last question. I had a breakout of ich which killed all my fish. A couple of hundred bucks down the drain made me realize that I NEED a QT tank which I have now.  <Might have save a few hundred bucks if you had one to start.> The tank is fallow for 3 weeks. The temp is 82 - 83 degrees. <This high temp increases the algae growth, need to get that down.> How low should I lower the salinity? I have inverts. Sorry that I'm going on and on but this algae prob. needs to be nipped in the bud. Any thoughts would be really appreciated. thanks again.  <As above Teddy, do the Google search on "algae control". Much information is there to help you. James (Salty Dog)>

- Problems with Problem Algae - I have a 90 saltwater tank with live rock. Berlin turbo protein skimmer. Small UV sterilizer. 20 Gallon refugium. I have tried everything I can find in the forum as a solution. All the things known to feed and cause algae to thrive I have tested and found to be non-issues. I have a minimal number of fish of small size and am very careful to not over-feed them. I have halide and T-5 actinic lighting (new) running only for a couple hours a day. There is no outside lighting, phosphates, nitrates or nitrites of a troublesome quantity. I use RO/DI filtered water (with new filters) for make-up water.  I have been battling this issue for at least a year and have exhausted all suggestions from local aquatic stores. The only thing that seems to slow its growth at all seems to be hauling water from another community. Not an ideal situation and not a solution as it still comes back only more slowly. I have tried SST and couple other products to treat it and nothing seems to even affect it. Hopefully the attached pictures give some indication of what it might be and a possible solution. I am more than happy to work with anyone to provide test results or to try any useful suggestion given. <From the photos, I think this is typical Blue/Green algae in mass quantities. I'd tackle this on two fronts: first, I'd start removing the rock and peel this stuff off by hand and perhaps even scrubbing with a tooth brush. Secondly, I'd get a hold of a couple of Tuxedo Urchins... these have short spines [so easy to handle, bump into, etc.] and are ravenous algae eaters. Between these two items, I think you can get ahead of this algae. While you're at it, add some more powerheads to the tank to increase circulation, eliminate laminar flows, and make it harder for this stuff to settle down. Cheers, J -- > <Unable to post photos - typical nuisance algae, see our nuisance algae FAQs/articles for photos.> 

- Problems with Problem Algae, Follow-up -  Thank you very much for your response.  <My pleasure.> I have had up 6 tuxedo urchins in the tank at one time.  <Interesting.>  Along with mass quantities of snails and crabs. They just can't keep up. Looks like a swamp very quickly. I also have three powerheads running that I had taken out to clean in the pictures. I had just cleaned the exterior of the tank so that you could even see. The powerheads are often inefficient due to the algae overgrowing them. My Berlin skimmer is not located optimally and has low production. Its pump is located in a small sump (Converted wet dry) within a chamber along with the pump for return to the tank. I am thinking about relocating this skimmer to the back of the main tank. After reading your FAQ's, I'm also pondering whether or not to upgrade my skimmer to Euro Reef CS6-2+ recirculating skimmer or Aqua-C Remora Pro.  <This would help a little - probably remove some of the agents that are helping this algae grow, but will not remove the algae directly.>  I'm not sure how the Euro- reef would install on my tank or if this would be the correct model for my system.  <Think they make a hang-on version now... not certain, but if not can be put in a sump.>  I can provide more pictures of sump and system if helpful. <That's ok... your original images told the story well enough. I do recall that you are using RO/DI water here, but I'm wondering if there isn't something else at play. Do think you need to plan a weekend when you can break down all that live rock and scrub it clean. Part of your "problem" is that these algae are able to change their environment chemically to their advantage, so that once you have this, you have a hard time getting rid of it. Getting in there and scrubbing everything clean, followed by a large water change - say 50% - would tilt the balance in your favor. A good sand/gravel cleaning at the same time wouldn't hurt. Obviously, you'll need to have a lot of salt water made up for this endeavor, but sometimes you need to grab the bull by the horns. Cheers, J -- > 

Algae Control Hello WWM  <Hello> I'll try to make this simple. I have white sand in my 45 gallon tank but it keeps turning brown/green. On rocks they're slightly brown , but have spots of red/purple algae. Can you give me a list of suggestions how to keep my sand un- brown/green like water change % and frequency, equipment, livestock to help? <Here is a link with everything you need to know. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks <You're welcome>

Algae Problems Hi Crew Member Of the Day.  <Hello Amy>  I have been experiencing a huge problem with different types of algae growing in my sand bed and on the bottom of the glass of the tank. Despite reading Reef Invertebrates, CMA, and countless days of archives on your site over the past two years, haven't been able to track down the cure. My system is a 55 FOWLR with 50 lbs LR and a 2 inch sand bed (1.-2.0 mm grain size) and has been up and running in my house for 2.5 years now.  I have a Fluval 304 and an Aqua C Remora skimmer as my filtration with an extra MaxiJet 1200 for added circulation. My water parameters seem fine to me 0 NH3, 0 NO2, <10 NO3, 1.024 salinity, 79 degrees, Alk 8, & 368 ppm. I have I think a normal fish load with about 8 small fish, Royal Gramma, percula clown, canary wrasse, 3 PJ cardinals, etc.  I feed them one varying cube of frozen food daily, thawed with the pack juice removed. I do a 25% water change every 3 weeks, and at the same time change out the 100g of activated carbon and Polyfilter I put in the Fluval and I am still having diatoms and Cyano algae appearing in clumps and mats on my sand bed. I purchased a Kent Maxxima Hi-S RO/DI unit thinking the source water could be the problem and that did not solve the problem. <Still good to have>  I thought maybe my lights had strayed to the red zone so I purchased a new Coralife Aqua light with 4 65 watts bulbs (because I wanted to) plus thinking it would help ensure my poor lighting wasn't the culprit. My water flow seems fine as the MaxiJet 1200 is in the bottom corner of the tank opposite the return of the Fluval with the Remora returning water to the middle of the tank. The skimmer only produces about two ounces of junk a week and it is very light but I have been in communication with Jason at Aqua C several times over the past two years and he thinks the skimmer is functioning fine. I just cleaned it very well with hot water, and then vinegar and then hot water and replaced the MaxiJet on it with a new one to make sure it is up to speed last month and the performance is constant.  The big question is here; why do you think I am getting the algae problem if I start with good source water, do regular water changes, don't have high nitrates, have good lighting, and have adequate circulation? I am stumped.  In the Reef Invertebrates book, I read about "nutrient sink" conditions. Do you think this is what is going on? If it is "nutrient sink" conditions, can you clean it up or do you have to remove the sand in stages and start from scratch with new sand? Should I try a the bullet goby or algae blenny mentioned in Reef Invert? I went out today and bought a sand sifting star fish, three turbo snails, and three Astrea snails to try and clean up the sand. I already have probably 15 small hermit crabs running around in the tank as a clean up crew but they are not cutting it. Again, any thoughts how I can get my sand clean and keep the bottom of my glass from looking terrible? <Amy, I believe your problem lies in your 2" deep sand bed. With out sand stirring creatures (I see you got a sandsifting star), it does become a nutrient sink. You need to lower that sand bed at least 1/2 inch. Don't add any more sand stars, there will barely be enough food in your sandbed to support one. They do need some supplemental feedings of Nori or small pieces of crab meat or they slowly starve to death. James (Salty Dog)>

Algae Control Dear Crew: Have a 55 gallon salt water tank which has all of a sudden become this lime green pond like color. All testing levels are a-ok and I am at a loss of what to do. Have tried filtering water through multiple layers of cloth and particles are so fine that cloth does not grab any of them. Have used carbon filtering and have done water changes. Have also used fine mess filter cloth in my 3 filters and still seem to be getting no where. I have also used chemicals that were suppose to work over night but this has failed too. I would prefer not to use chemicals as I think this is stressing out my fish. How long does it take for carbon filters to filter something like this out of my tank and is there a better way of proceeding. I am getting so frustrated that I am about ready to go back to my freshwater layout. Just bought Bob's book  [The]  CONSCIENTIOUS MARINE AQUARIST but have found nothing in it to help with my situation. I [am] ready to try anything. If possible put steps to follow and what results I should see in some form of time line. Your response would be greatly appreciated.  <Unusual Derek, you're the second one today with this problem. I'll post a link here for you, should help you out. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm James (Salty Dog)> Thanks <You're welcome>

Algae Control James Salty Dog, Have spent most of the last 2 days reading the various links you have pointed me in the direction of but have not seen anything where the description of algae bloom is like the one that I have encountered. The whole tank is a lime green where you can hardly see from front to back in the tank yet I really do not see anything growing on the live rock. The sites you sent me too seem to actually have a visible presence on the walls of the tank or on the rock. Mine seems to be a fine micro type element that just seems to be in the water. I have done water replacement and chemical treating but to no avail. What in your opinion, since I have only been doing this for 4 months or so, would be a safe course of action? I have used bio filters with carbon, chemicals and water changes so far but would like another opinion and maybe a time line of what to expect in the way of visible results. Are we talking days or weeks before I will see this end.  <Derek, I know something like this can be very frustrating to a hobbyist. The fact of the matter is, something is causing it. I'm not a miracle worker by no means. Just give advice as to what would help 98% of the cases. I believe you are in the 2% category. I re-read your query and there was nothing mentioned if you use RO water. You may have something in your water supply that is causing this, especially if you were using well water, but I don't know that. If you are using tap water, I would suggest an RO water purifier. Then you would have to do a total water change using the RO water. I'll wait for a reply from you. I will then send this out to all the crew members here and see if we can get more input on this. Also, just what are the levels of the tests you performed including calcium levels. Another question, Is the tank getting any direct sunlight? James (Salty Dog)> 

Green Water Victim Hello I have been looking through your FAQs because my SW tank has turned green!  The water is green. This happened about 2 weeks ago, and nothing seems to be helping. Here is a little about the tank: Established 12/04 54G AGA Corner Tank Eheim 2215 Canister Filter (w/ live rock rubble in it) 2 MaxiJet 1200 PH  Aqua C Remora Protein Skimmer Aqua C Remora Pre-Skimmer 75 pounds LR 30" Coralife Lunar Aqualights 2 Percula Clowns Coral Beauty Golden Headed Sleeper Goby Cleaning crew (snails and crabs) 2 chocolate chip star fish Here are my parameters: Ammonia - 0 Nitrite - 0 Nitrate - 0 pH - 8.1 Salinity 1.024 Phosphates - undetectable Silicates - undetectable Temp: 77-78 Here is what I have done so far to try to get rid of the green water: We have added an additional 40 pounds of live rock to bring our total LR to 75 pounds. We have replaced the gravel in our canister filter with live rock rubble. We are running a carbon bag in the canister filter. We have phosphate remover pad in the canister filter. We pulled off our recently added Aqua C Remora Pre-Skimmer in case that was the problem. We have done a 20% water change. (We don't use tap water, we mix our own with distilled and test it thoroughly prior to adding). The water we took our was very green but you can even tell we did anything, the tank still looks green. We were told to reduce our lights to 5 hours a day by the LFS. We did that for a week and no change. Now (due to new LR) back to our normal 10 hours a day.  The tank does not get any natural sunlight. Sorry this is so long! But it seems my water should not be green with zero nitrites/nitrates. I feed sparingly once a day (one day Mysis, next day brine). What can I do to get this green water to go away? It is very ugly and I am afraid it will start affecting my livestock. It has recently been suggested that I purchase a UV sterilizer or a diatom filter. Since both seem to be significant investments, I thought I would ask your opinion first.  <Sounds like an algae bloom that may be around awhile. You say you are using a carbon bag. Most carbons do release phosphates, I would get two units of Chemi-Pure (contains scavenger and ion exchange resins) and run that for a week and see if that doesn't help. I don't know what your calcium level is, but increasing it to 400mg/l will help some also. SeaChem's Reef Advantage Calcium is a very good product to use. You didn't mention the pH/alk readings, wondering what they are. James (Salty Dog)> 

Green Water Victim Still Kicking.. I found it very interesting that another 55 gallon owner has green soup tank today. Hmmm. I wish we could compare notes. To answer your questions: I am not currently testing for calcium, but have ordered the test today. My alkalinity is very low at just 1.5... <I'm hoping this is a meq/l reading and not dKH, but either way it is too low. dKH should be between 8 -12, some people keep it higher.>  ... and pH is steady at 8.1. I have also ordered the ChemiPure and the SeaChem Reef Advantage. I am desperate for any ideas that will make this green water go away!! <Keep in mind Jeff that in this hobby bad things happen fast and good things happen slow. Get your alk level up there along with the calcium. No single thing will eliminate the problem. Watch your feedings and do 10% weekly water changes and definitely clean/replace filter pads weekly. There are no shortcuts in this hobby. James (Salty Dog)> 

Nuisance Algae- It's All About Nutrients! Hello <Hi there! Scott F. here tonight!> I hope you can help!! I have a 90 gal reef and I have something that has started to grow on my live rock and my green star polyps. It came on quickly and is spreading. It is tan in color and looks like little ferns that get longer as they grow. Have any idea what it is and what is causing it? <Without a picture, I'd be guessing as to the exact species of algae that you're dealing with, so I'm compelled to speak in generalities...Let's assume, for our purposes, that this is a nuisance algae species of some sort (what a stretch, huh?)...> I used a turkey baster to blow it off the corals and some of the rock and then ran my diatom filter for 24 hours. After doing that my ph jumped to 8.24 (it had only been around 7.98 - 8.10 and I was having trouble getting it to go up). I talked to my LFS and they told me that my alk was to low and to buffer it and the stuff would die - so I did. I had bought a new test and I am afraid that I may have read the test wrong and actually my alk was high and not low because my alk is now 11.62. <Yikes...> I have also had a very high calcium reading for some quite time it has come down to 450 but I have not added calcium to the tank in almost a month. After reading some more on you web site I am now wondering if my Phosphates are high. I am going to buy a test in the morning and check it. I also was wondering if I might be overloading my tank with too many vitamins and additives. <Great thought. If you are suspicious, you may very well be right on target here.> I started using Coral Vital once daily for a month and just last week went to 2 times a week. When I started using it my live rock started getting beautiful in color and now this unknown algae has taken over. <Well, there is a point where the organisms within the rock cannot keep up with the available nutrients, and the excesses are used as fuel by-you guessed it- the algae! Bob has a great sayings regarding additives, which I have personally subscribed to for years: if you cannot test for something, don't add it into your tank!  Ask yourself why you are dosing something...Is it because your animals need it, or is it because you THINK that your tank needs it? With a few notable exceptions, I think that most systems can do fine with the only "additive" being freshly-made saltwater, which contains all of the essential trace elements required, in natural concentrations. This is the best excuse I can think of for making water changes if you like to add stuff to your tank...Just add water! Try two 5% water changes per week for a while, then back of to one time per week. This can really help, and is a great habit to get into.> If the problem is phosphates, what should I do to reduce them? <Phosphates can be dealt with in a number of ways. The first is to revisit your basic husbandry procedures. Consider your source water. Are you using reverse osmosis/deionized water to make our salt mix? If you don't have one, invest in a quality RO/DI unit and maintain it properly. Raw tap water often contains unacceptably high levels of phosphates and nitrates, setting you "behind the eight ball" before you even begin!  Treating source water is your first line of defense against excessive phosphates. Think about your feeding habits. Are you allowing the "pack water" from your frozen foods to get into the tank? Are you using lots of liquid invert foods? These packing juices foods are very high in nutrients, which can absolutely accelerate nuisance algae growth. Thaw your food in a separate container or net, and feed it carefully. Is your protein skimmer cranking out lots of dark skimmate on a regular basis? If it isn't, adjust it until it does or consider another skimmer. Is your tank overcrowded? Keep population at manageable and sustainable levels for your system.  Next, you could consider using some quality chemical filtration media, such as a good grade of activated carbon, Poly Filter, or a specialized phosphate-removing media like RowaPhos or PhosBan. Remember, these are "band aids", or "assistants" in maintaining water quality and removing these substances. The real key to control is making sure that these compounds don't accumulate in the first place. That's where the aforementioned good husbandry techniques are vital.> I am worried about adding anything because I do not want to cause a snow out in my tank. I did do a 10% water change on Tuesday and I am going to do another in the morning. I hope I can get this figured out as I am leaving on Friday to go out of town. Thank you for any help you have and keep up the wonderful web site the only problem is that I can sit around for hours at a time and read it. Sherry <Hang in there, Sherry. This is an entirely manageable problem. Basically, you need to revisit the husbandry techniques that you use, and refine them accordingly. There is a ton of information on this topic on the WWM site. With a little bit of diligence, refinement of your techniques, and a little patience, your nuisance algae problem will be history! Keep at it! You can do it! Regards, Scott F.>

Nitrate and algae advice - Mar 5 2005 Hi there,  <Good morning Jake, MacL here with you today.>  I've been enjoying your site and refer to it often.  <That's very kind of you.>  I have been struggling for a while with nitrate and algae and I hope that I might get some personal advice. Here are my tank parameters: 38gal FOWLR 1 4-inch lion 1 3-inch Huma trigger 2 damsels 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, ~20ppm nitrate Eclipse hood AquaC Remora skimmer I had been struggling with very high nitrate levels for awhile (40-80ppm), so I bought the skimmer, cleaned the whole tank, and thoroughly rinsed and dried the substrate. (I think it's crushed coral, but not sure as the tank set-up is a hand-me-down.) Right now everything is back up and running (skimmer, fish, etc...), except I have not yet added the substrate. Conditions are improved (nitrate 20ppm), but it did not take long for the tank to accumulate at least 3 varieties of microalgae that I need to continuously fight. My impression is that a 15% water change every week should be more than enough. Most recently I did a 30% water change, vacuumed the bottom, and nitrate was back up to 20ppm in a matter of days.  Water source is San Francisco municipal tap water, run through an Aquarium Pharmaceuticals tap water de-ionization filter (changing filter column regularly). I do not use any conditioners, and nitrate level is 0 upon introduction to the tank. I'm careful not to overfeed, although the trigger especially is a messy eater. I guess the next step is to get better mechanical filtration and circulation in there, in place of the Eclipse.  <You don't mention if you have any live rock, you might find that the live rock assists you in getting rid of the problem. I'm guessing that you are feeding live foods to these fish and you might want to consider trying to get them off to frozen foods instead. Just a couple more thoughts if you don't mind. When you took your tank pretty much totally apart to clean it you basically started the entire tank over. That being done there are some algae that naturally occur as the tank settles into place. This could also explain the high nitrates as the nitrates rising are the end part of a cycle. You could have gone through a small or additional cycle because of the changes you made. I probably wouldn't add the substrate back in if it was me. Simply because without it you can gauge the buildup of detritus in the tank. I'm not familiar with the eclipse filtration system. I'm assuming its a mechanical filtration system. If it has carbon in it then that could be a partial problem right there as it doesn't allow the system to build up all the bacteria that it needs to build up until the carbon eventually wears out. I'd also like to suggest that you check to make sure that you have a good ripple on the top of the water to have good oxygen exchange in the tank. With these types of fish you are going to need to have a lot of oxygen in the tank.> I know there are successively more elaborate ways of dealing with the problem, but it seems like I'm missing something simple. My only guess is that I'm inadequately managing the poo and debris that collect on the tank bottom. Is there some kind of scavenger/algae-eater that will thrive in this tank and help out with the table scraps?  <Not alive but a turkey baster works just get to get out the detritus.>  Perhaps one of the seastars you recommend? I know triggers are said to be unpredictable, but mine is the most timid of the bunch; I'm not too worried about him. Also, if I do get some kind of star, does that mean getting a porcupine or spiny boxfish in the future is totally out of the question?  <My concern with adding anything to this tank is that the creatures you currently house are going to outgrow your tank and very quickie. You don't mention how often you feed your fish. That might be something to look at, its very easy to feed fish like lions and triggers.>

Nitrate and algae advice - Follow-up Hi WWM Crew,  <Hey Jake.> Thanks for your detailed response, MacL. Actually I do have about 35 lbs of live rock. Sorry, I'm a little new at this; I thought that's what "FOWLR" means? <Its what the general meaning is yes indeed but you'd be amazed at what people do put into takes they label as such. I always find that rather then just guessing its MUCH better to ask and refine.> When I cleaned the tank I mainly scrubbed all the algae off and replaced about 75% of the water, removed substrate and re-acclimated the fish accordingly. Given that there is live rock, I pretty sure the tank did not re-cycle, but let me know if I'm mistaken.  <That depends on multiple things like how long the rock was out of the water, how much die off of the bacteria occurred. Once again this called for clarification. I just assisted a gentlemen who totally took his tank apart and bleached everything. Different circumstances do indeed require different answers.>  I don't feed live foods, but rather a variety of frozen foods and occasionally flake & seaweed, and never more than once per day, and not more than they can consume in about 60 seconds or so. Like I said, it's mainly the manner in the which they eat that irks me.  <I know my fish get over fed. The simple truth is that what they consume has to come back out and that's a pretty accurate gauge of the total amount they consume.> Thanks for the advice about oxygen, I'll look into that, but what do you mean by having a "good ripple" on the top of the water? Will the skimmer in combination with an airstone suffice?  <By a good ripple there should be lots of movement in the water. All the areas on top of the water should be moving and there should be no dead sections on the top of the water. I personally prefer not to use airstones in saltwater tanks (unless used inside a protein skimmer for skimming purposes) I have know of people with problems caused by the bubbles irritating or causing problems for the fish. But the idea is to encourage the exchange of gases in the tank with the surface movement.> Also, I'm aware of the overstocking issue -- actually they're not growing that much, but if one of them does get too big my fish store will take it for trade or I might even get a larger tank.  <Definitely sounds like you planned ahead. I wanted to caution you though a lot of times the fish stop growing and then after a couple of years they mysteriously pass away. These fish should have a life span for the most part of twenty-ish years or even more in some cases. Remember to that the advice I am giving you is not just for you but perhaps for someone else in your situation who reads this post. Being prepared, as you obviously are for the future is definitely the way to go.>  Given that I plan to eventually get a larger tank, I don't mind investing in a good filter -- would you recommend one of the Fluvals in my situation?  <I like the Fluval filters as a supplement to the live rock and live sand. I find that if I use the live sand and live rock as my primary filtration methods and then use the Fluval or something similar like it as a supplemental filter I'm able to add PolyFilters or carbon etc as needed. Hope that helps, MacL> Thanks again  <Sounds like you are on track Jake.>

- Green Water Saltwater Tank - I have a 75g saltwater tank with around 100lbs live rock, 90lbs of sand (aragonite), 2 Ocellaris Clowns, a cleaner shrimp, some small purple mushroom coral, some zoanthid coral, and lastly a few dwarf feather dusters. The problem I am having is that my water has turned green, and it seems to be getting darker and darker. When I empty out the protein skimmer all the water in it is green and it has green slime in the bottom of the collection cup. The fish seem to be doing perfectly fine. The corals also seem to be doing fine. I don't know if the shrimp is ok, because I can't see further than about 6" into the tank, so I have not seen him in a few days.  I have 3 powerheads for current, a 200w heater, an Emperor 400 filter with activated carbon pads in it, 50/50 VHO lighting. My ammonia and nitrite read 0. My pH is a 8.2 to 8.4. My nitrate is falling, it seems to be getting lower, it was at 20ppm when I first introduced the corals, but now it is reading around 10ppm.  My LFS has no idea why my water would turn green, and neither do I. I am a beginner and I am worried about my aquarium's inhabitants. It started to turn green after I removed a lot of red slime algae from the live rock by hand then siphoned as much out as I could. Later that same day it started getting cloudy and it has progressively worsened since (it has been 5 days since then now and the tank is *very* green).  The fish seem to breath normal and eat normal and do not seem stressed either. I know this isn't normal or common for a saltwater tank, but I would greatly appreciate any help. Thanks, Stephen. K. <Stephen, it sounds to me like you've got a full blown algae bloom going on. Green water is most often caused by phytoplankton which is a building block of most aquatic life. Phytoplankton derives its energy from the sun via photosynthesis so you're best tact here is to cut off it's source of food/energy. As you've learned, it can "bloom" and become a bane, but under most circumstance it isn't a bad thing. Would this tank by any chance be in the path of direct sunlight? If so... you might want to limit that and then begin with several large water changes. If the tank is not in the sun, I'd cut back your lighting entirely for a couple of days. While this is going on, you want to continue with large [50%] water changes which will export the dying phytoplankton. Also... your skimmer will be busy - make certain it has a place to overflow and clean it daily. Also, obtain a phosphate test kit and determine if there is excess of this nutrient - if so, you'll want to address this issue in addition to the water changes and cut back on the lighting cycle. Good luck... let us know how it goes. Cheers, J -- >

Red Algae Hi crew, my husband and I love your site. You have lots of excellent advice on natural solutions. We have a 180 gal. see through fish only salt tank. Due to our tank depth, we had to go with upgraded lighting. Good news, lots of healthy green with small amounts of purple algae growth going. Bad news, we do get that red dusty algae building on our viewing panes and sand daily. <Very likely a BGA, Cyanobacteria... rather than diatoms, a rhodophyte> We searched your site and it looks like we are not alone.  <Heeeee! Good way to put this!> It appears critters between water changes and vacuuming seem to be your logical pick, so we took off to our local shop. <Well, this is one approach... best to try a "blitzkrieg"... several... including chemical limitation (e.g. good skimming), competition (e.g. macrophyte culture), absorption (e.g. DSBs)...> We didn't want critters walking up our viewing panes, so here's what we were advised to do for our situation. To share, they wanted to know our sand type, surface area, approx. rock reef decor and fish species to help us. <Good inputs> In our case, we have no live coral or plants. They started us off with two sand sifting starfish they claim will love vacuuming our floor of red algae. <Mmm... unlikely> Based on our fish stock and approx. amount of rock towers (we do have quite a few fish rock grazing algae eaters) they recommended 6 scarlet hermit crabs. Because we didn't want things crawling up our viewing panes, those have been left to remain our job. <Well, at least not great numbers...> For that, the thickness of our panels and being acrylic, had a leatherette (soft for dusting not scrubbing) magnet strong enough to make panel dusting easier for us.  <A nice tool to have, use> I must admit, the panel dust is officially gone forever. A quick dusting everyday keeps our tank panels crystal clear. So what's a good wait time in determining if we have a  sufficient number of housekeepers?  <Counting you and your husband you do> From a visual, do we always want to see some of this red algae dust or trust our lighting is creating plenty of food? <Mmm, this sort, group of algae are pretty unpalatable... not really food for most any purposeful marine livestock> Sure would be nice if we could create a job descriptions for these guys!  Debi Stanley-Viloria <Please don't label us, box us in! We're friends, fellow hobbyists, pet-fish type of folk... Please do read re other ploys to limit algal proliferation... maybe starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm And reading through the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

Bad Hair (algae) Days Hello. Since moving 1 yr ago, I’ve had quite a bad hair algae problem in my tank (65 gal. reef; 2 yrs old; 80lbs live rock; 5" sand; 4 fish.) I’ve changed nothing in my approach (use RO/DI, 20% water changes/mo., don't overfeed, clean protein skimmer fairly often (don't let neck get to messy). I did lose my yellow tang during the move, though (I plan to get another today). And my hermits and Astreas have slowly dwindled to about 10 each. (I’d like to get more of each, maybe Turbos instead of Astreas, though). Anyway, to the point, I was wondering if I killed off a lot of the organisms living in the sand bed that would normally eat up the nutrients that this algae seems to be thriving on. During the move, the tank sat mostly empty (had 2" of water, so the 5" sand bed was 60% "dry") for about 8 hours (2 hrs in 50 degree weather; 60 degree for 6 hrs) before I put back in about 25 gal. of saved water plus the new water. 2 weeks ago, I’ve started running a Two Little Fishies phosphate remover, so hopefully that'll help. Do I need to re-seed my sand bed or get a detritivore kit?  <Warren, right now it sounds as if the tank is not in balance, that is there are more nutrients imported than exported. Definitely keep the protein skimmer clean. Change 10% of the water weekly to reduce the nutrients by dilution and I would add a couple bags of Chemi pure somewhere in the filtering system. It may take some time for that bio-filter to re-establish itself. What are your water parameters? James (Salty Dog)>

Brown algae on the walls Hi, Why do we get brown algae on the glass, back flow boxes, and pvc pipes on   our fish tank. <Because "they can"> We need to clean them every 2 weeks. Then about 2 weeks later the brown   algae is back all over again. Is this a normal occurrence or is there something   else wrong in our system. <Mmm, depending on your point of view, the system is "out of balance"... for the (likely Diatoms mainly) algae point of view, it's balanced fine... in their favor> We have 85 pounds of live rock ( does not have brown   algae), 75 pounds of live sand, and a refugium tank with live sand and Caulerpa.  We also have about 12  fish in our 90 gallon tank. Blue tang, Lopez tang, yellow tang, clownfish, coral angel beauty, b&w Heniochus,  mandarin   gobies, and starfish, shrimp, turbo snails, and Nassarius snails. The nitrites are 0 and the ammonia is 0.1. Please help, Thanks, Cindy <You may have excess nutrients, mineral content... not enough alkalinity, insufficient circulation, aeration... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brownalgcontfaqs.htm and the linked FAQs (above) until you're satisfied with your understanding of root cause/s here, and your possible paths of intervention. Bob Fenner>

Knocking Out Nuisance Algae! First of all I would like to congratulate you and your comrades on your dedication to the hobby. <Thank you for the kind words! Glad to be here! Scott F. on the keyboard today!> My problem is red/ brown algae that I have found is free floating and settles over the horizontal plane of my live rock and substrate in my 70 gal tank. I've got WAY to many fish (1-5" Yellow Tang,1-6" Regal Tang,1-3" Flame Angel, 1-3" Fat Tomato Clown,1- 2 1/2" Coral Beauty, 1- 2 1/2" Mandarin Goby, 1- 2" Percula Clown, 5-Green Chromis, 2- Electric Blue Damsels, 1- Horseshoe Crab, 1- Coral Banded Shrimp,15- Blueleg Hermits, 15 Turbo Snails, 1- Green Open Brain Coral, 1- Mushroom Coral, 3-anemones (which propagated in my tank). <Wow! The image of a Tokyo subway at rush hour comes to mind here! Well, at least you recognize that your tank is overcrowded. This is a relatively easy problem to solve. A larger tank, or more tanks...or several gifts of great fishes for your fellow fish nerds!> I've got 50 lbs. live rock, Prism skimmer, 1-145 gph power head and using a Penguin 330 bio wheel as primary filter. For lighting I have 2 96 watt power compacts, 1- 50-50 10,000 k actinic and the other 10,000 daylight. <Well, for a 70 gallon tank with a relatively small bioload, this might work, but it sounds like some modifications to your system are in order. First off, do make sure that the skimmer is cranking out at least a couple of cups of dark, stinky skimmate per week. If it isn't, tweak it 'till it does, or consider upgrading to a more capable skimmer. It must be cranking with that much bioload! A well tuned skimmer is essential, especially in a tank with a high bioload. If you are going to utilize on a mechanical/biological filter like the Penguin, you may need to go to a larger one. At the very least, consider very frequent (like every week or so) media replacement. Otherwise, the saturated filter media may simply release much of it's absorbed bioload back into the tank, which won't help your water quality!> I change 15% water every 2-3 weeks and lately have been scrubbing live rock to get rid of algae. <The water change schedule is not bad, but you may want to consider smaller, more frequent water changes. I am a maniac, and like to recommend 2 - 5% changes per week. Or, at least try 1 - 10% change each week. This can help dilute some of the nutrients that are probably building up in the system. Make sure that you are using high quality source water, such as RO/DI, as this will contain a lot fewer potential nutrients (nitrates/phosphates/silicates) that can fuel  nuisance algae growth.> The fish are mostly 1-3 years old, with some newer fish, but the algae has always been a struggle. My local fish guy wants to sell me a UV sterilizer and tells me that will help, but reading up on your website on the problem, I have yet to see a mention of UV as an answer.  <It is not really a panacea, IMO. I'd rather see you get a more capable protein skimmer, utilize more biological filtration, and reduce the amount of animals in your system. You simply cannot keep that much bioload in the tank and expect not to have algae problems, and potentially other problems down the line. It all comes down to husbandry issues. With few exceptions, expensive equipment investments will not solve this problem.> Is one of my problems not enough circulation? <Well, circulation is a possible contributor to nuisance algae, but the bottom line (not trying to be harsh- just direct!) is that your tank is too overcrowded, possibly under-skimmed, and inadequately filtered. All solvable problems. Yes, it may require some $$ and parting with some of your fishy friends, but the long term benefits will be worth it.> Aside from being ugly, is algae a bad thing, or will it do harm, and will it eventually die out before it hurts fish or corals. <Generally, algae is not a "bad" thing. It's perfectly natural and all part of the web of life. It's just that it is unsightly in our closed systems. The algae that you seem to be dealing with are some sort of brown algae and what is known as Cyanobacteria, both of which result from high nutrient environments. The key to their control is to export nutrients as efficiently as possible. You can accomplish this by moderating your fish population, utilizing quality source water for frequent water changes, aggressive protein skimming, good circulation (as you surmised!), careful feeding, use and harvest of macroalgae to compete with the nuisance algae for nutrients, and a healthy dose of patience and perseverance on your part. Check the WWM FAQ's under algae, and you'll find tons of information on their identification, control, and history.> Thanks for your time. Cam <My pleasure, Cam. Just look into some of the ideas I discussed here and you'll be able to get a handle on this problem more quickly than you think! Roll up your sleeves and get to work! You can do it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> To heck with science, it's weird algae I've got some green algae which moves to light. when the tank lights are off, the algae makes swirly patterns on the two sides of the tank which are exposed to natural light. When the tank lights go on (for about 10 hrs per day) the algae slides off the glass immediately and looks like green smoke swirling around and goes to the bottom of the tank in pools. A few minutes later, the algae has dissolved into the water making it green and cloudy. <Neat... good observation> I do two weekly water exchanges with RO water, all nitrate, nitrite, Phos, ammonia etc are within normal limits. The tank is 140 litres and is 8 weeks old. Live stock is healthy (3 green Chromis and a couple of small clowns).  I'm stuck...... the protein skimmer isn't producing any dirty bubbles either. Any ideas on this spooky smoky algae? <"This too shall pass"... your system is just settling in... some otherwise non-sentient organisms do appear to be "positively photo-tropic"... nothing to worry about here... just let time go by. In a few more weeks when all is settled in more, you can start working on this algae... if it's still about. Bob Fenner>

Algae Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2005 Salty Dog, Right now the tang is 3 inches and the damsel is about 1.5 inches. I have an emperor 280 filter and a powerhead with a sponge filter. I was looking at skimmers but wasn't sure which kind to get (Air Driven/Pump) or even if I needed one. <You should definitely go with a power-driven skimmer, and yes skimmers benefit a system tremendously.>  Would you recommend feeding like everyday 1 to 2 days to help cut back on nutrients?  <There is nothing wrong with feeding everyday, but put very little food in at a time, and as they consume that portion, add just a little more till you get to a point where the fish lose interest in it. That is, there shouldn't be food floating around the tank shortly after you've fed them.>  I thought it could also be the water because I have friends in the area that also share this algae problem.  <Algae is just a normal occurrence in aquariums if the organic load is not controlled.>  I looked and read about phosphates as possibly causing this and I looked into buying a phosphate remover. What is your take on this theory? <Phosphate removers do work to eliminate them but you still have to eliminate the source or you will be using the phosphate remover forever.> Thanks again for the help and the most useful aquatic website IMO. Thanks again. Aaron  <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Major Hair Algae Problem Hi Guys, It's been a while since I had to ask you for help. Your FAQ usually answers any questions I have. This time round, I've been 'hit' by what I will call as Red Hair Algae. I know the usual type is either Red Slime or Green Hair algae. Mine seems to be a hybrid!  <I think what you have Anthony is another form of Cyano.>  I hope you can ID the algae from the attached photos. The more important question is how to get rid of it? Some information of my set-up. Tank plus sump size - 55 Gal My water parameters seems normal; SG - 1.023, pH - 8.3, NH3 - 0 ppm, NO2 <0.1 mg/l, N03 - 10 mg/l, PO4 - 0.25 mg/l, Mg - 1350 ppm, Alk - 6 deg dKH.  I have replaced the carbon with Dick Boyd's Chemi-pure... <The Chemi-pure is a very good idea>  ... and have place 150g of Seachem's PhosGuard in a fluidized reactor.  <Good, also> I'll likely replace my existing Tunze Comline 3110/2 with a AquaC EV120 soon. Lighting is via 4 X T5 (24W each). 2 tubes (10000K and 14000K) are ON for 7hrs, the other 2 (14000K and actinic) are ON for 3 hrs. That is to say, for 3 hrs a day I have 72 watts and for the rest of the time, 48 watts.  < By your mentioning of Coralife Invertebrate Food, I'm assuming you have some corals. If so, your lighting is very inadequate. You need to be around 4 to 5 watts per gallon. The low intensity does contribute some to growing undesirable algae.> Supplements: Seachem's Reef Plus - 5 ml twice a week, Seachem's Reef Builder - 2 teaspoons a week, Coralife's Invertebrate Smorgasbord - 5 ml twice a week.  <This is a nutrient you need to stop using until your problem is corrected. We don't want to add anymore excess nutrients in the system. Years ago I had the same problem/same algae and ironically, at the time was using invertebrate food. I changed my invert food supplement at the time to DT's live plankton. They still make this product and has a relatively long shelf life.> Feeding is with Tetra Marine Flake and Ocean Nutrition's Formula One pellets. Once a week, I also feed a strip (1/2in by 5in) of TLF Green Seaweed.  Water changes are being performed at the rate of 5 gal per week. At this time, I'm using Instant Ocean salt.  <Definitely keep up the water changes.> Sorry for the very, very long letter. Any help you can give will be most appreciated. Real desperate!  <Good luck with the algae problem. James (Salty Dog)>
Re: Major Hair Algae Problem
Thank you for your prompt reply. So basically, besides stop adding the supplements, there is not much more I can do?  <Yes, doing a 10% water change weekly helps much.> I have read mixed reviews about using medication to treat Cyano (e.g. UltraLife Red Slime Remover, Boyd's Chemi-Clean and Kent Marine's Poly Ox).> What do you guys think about them?  <I think they work, but it's just a Band-aid. You can use it to initially kill it, but you have to go after the cause. Generally, high organic levels will cause this due to overfeeding/overstocking the tank. Keep using the Chemi-Pure. Most people go through this phase especially if the tank is newly set up. You will win the battle with good husbandry and careful feedings along with the water changes. It just takes time. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)>

New tank help - algae going wild Thanks...well I have determined that the fish were just hungry. When I sat and watched them for a couple of minutes, they were eating the algae that was "loosened" up by the snail. Geez, I DO feed them! They are back to their normal selves now. Phew! You know what the problem with your website is? There is just SO much great info!!! I am completely overwhelmed. <I DO wish there was some (easy) way to re-arrange the material... perhaps a beginner section... or a "read this first" area, presentation of materials... unfortunately, all time here is volunteered... and we're fresh out...> I did learn that high phosphates and silicates are bad and they help grow algae, so I guess if I learn a little each day without killing any animals I will be very pleased! <We'll see> Ok - last question (for today that is!!). I have cut back on the white light. I have searched and searched but have not found a clear cut answer to this - how much light, and how long (white and blue) does my live rock need for the coralline algae to thrive? I have dual 96 watt white, blue Aqualife light. Thanks! <This too is posted over and over on WWM... learn to use the Google search tool... on the homepage, the indices. Bob Fenner>

New tank help - algae going wild Hi there - OK are my 6 Chromis dumb or sick? I added snails and crabs to the tank to help with the well growing brown gunk everywhere. And now all 6 Chromis are swimming around one banded Trochus snail and rubbing themselves against it. <Ummm, signs of parasitic infestation?> Uh, did I just introduce some parasites that are making them flip out or are they just dumb? The Trochus' are covered in this thick mossy-like stuff. Does this mean I should get a cleaner shrimp, like the skunk or something similar? <What? What for?> I tested my tank water and source water for phosphates and silicates. Guess what, both off the charts high. No wonder I have brown algae. Bought some Phosguard, but just can't afford RO unit now. What else can I do?  Thanks. <Read. Again... on WetWebMedia.com, elsewhere. Bob Fenner> 

She's Seeing Red! (Nuisance Algae) Hi, I have a 55 gal. saltwater tank and a 404 Fluval and Maxi-Jet powerhead that runs it, but I have cleaned the filter and everything in it, and within 3 days, I have brownish-red substance settling all over everything. I had this before I cleaned everything. Do you know what my problem is, or what I can do to solve it? Thank you. Janet <Well, Janet- it's hard to be 100% sure, but it certainly sounds like Cyanobacteria (aka "Cyano"), which is essentially a nasty nuisance algae. The good news is that this stuff is readily controlled and eliminated. The secret is to embrace several forms of "nutrient export" (i.e.; eliminating the "fuel" that drives the algae growth in your tank). This stuff mainly thrives on dissolved organics and similar substances in your tank water. Of particular note is phosphate, a substance that can come in with your source water, and can continue to accumulate in the tank through foods. Phosphate is removed through several methods. First, you can use purified source water, produced by an RO/DI unit. You should also utilize some form of chemical filtration media, such as a high grade activated carbon, Poly Filter, or even the specialized phosphate removing media, such as Rowaphos or Phosban, on a continuous basis. It's also important to use aggressive protein skimming, making sure that your skimmer removes at least a couple of cups of dark, yucky skimmate per week. Use of Kalkwasser (calcium hydroxide) helps to foster conditions which can enhance protein skimming and is thought to precipitate phosphate from the water. This nuisance algae, and many like it, are usually defeated by such techniques. You certainly can do this...Check some of the resources here on the WWM site regarding "algae" or "nutrient export", which should help get you started towards understanding what makes these nasties tick, and how to combat them! Best of luck! Regards, Scott F.> 

Problem Algae Help  Kudos to all of the volunteers at this site! Hopefully a quick question about the addition of canister filter on an existing sixty gallon reef system.  Even though I have read and reread your very informative information on algae control and to the best of my ability put into practice everything mentioned, except eliminating abundant light from windows, my aquarium is still plagued with hair algae. I'm well aware it is a excessive nutrient problem but still working on where they may be coming from. My question is would adding a canister filter in which to run media such as Chemi-pure, and/or Poly Filter help? Would you suggest using one or both or trading out one for the other monthly? I also think the added water flow wouldn't hurt. I have seen some comments from Salty Dog suggesting that he uses this technique. Thanks for this great site!  <Hello Denmaureen. It is almost impossible to keep a completely algae free aquarium without enlisting the aid of filter/critters and fish. The use of Chemi-Pure does help as it has one of the lowest levels of phosphate in the carbon that is used. There are also four resins in Chemi pure that do absorb things that a skimmer won't. I'm assuming you are using RO water or that no phosphates/nitrates are readable in your tap water. Having a Sailfin Blenny (Lawnmower Blenny) certainly helps. I have one in my system and he is constantly grazing on algae. Blue leg hermits along with turbo snails also adds in algae control. If your tank is near a bright window, you may want to decrease the tank lighting time per day. I also use a Magnum H.O.T. canister that is filled with Phosguard to help control algae along with a Rena XP1 which has Chemi-Pure for the media. A 10% water change per week is a must. They are several items pertaining to this on the wet web media. Good luck, James (Salty Dog)>

Attacking Algae At The Source! Man, the more I visit your site the more questions I have... <Part of the learning process in the hobby- and it never stops!> I hope you don't know me by name or my email yet... and sorry for all the questions. <No apologies needed- that's what we're here for! Scott F. with you today!> 90 gallon saltwater tank (rectangular... 4x long, 2 feet deep) with 90lbs liverock, 3-4" live sand. I have fish and invertebrates (hermits, snails, Mithrax, shrimp, and serpent stars). Currently I have a large EHEIM Canister Filter.  Apparently it's adequate (according to store) to filter 125 gallon tanks.  I was trying to read the material, but 80% of it's in German and there is only a few notes in English.  Not sure what the filter rate is... suppose I should start learning German? <Never a bad idea in this hobby, as so many great products and hobbyists come from Germany. Seriously, though- do find the model number and surf to the Eheim website to see if you can get some information on the model that you have...And they do have English information!> I do have a protein skimmer.  I keep reading on your website to empty the cup daily before it runs over. <If you have to empty the cup daily, you've really got the skimmer tuned. Usually, it's a couple of times per week.> I have tried a variety of settings on my skimmer and always have  nice little or large tornado going in my tube... yet it takes about three weeks to have the liquid level in my filler cup hit 2/3 full... but I do get a green sludge up the middle cylinder in my filler cup after about 10 days.  Note, my filler cup is about the size of a coffee cup.  Reading through the instructions, I think I am doing everything right... Does this sound normal???  Am I getting effective skimming? How can I tell? <Well, effective skimming should yield a cup or two per week of dark-colored, foul-smelling skimmate. Sometimes, you will have to forgo the instructions and adjust air or water flow until you're getting the skimmate you desire. Ideally, the sludge should build up in the collection cup, as opposed to the neck of the skimmer...> I have the intake set up 2/3 of the length of the tank with the spray nozzle (returning filtered water) at one end.  My protein skimmer is positioned where the filter intake is. <Good. Ideally, you want to position the skimmer where it will receive the most nutrient-laden ("raw") water from the display tank. This will make skimming more effective.> I currently only have two powerheads (the 1200 series MaxiJet) at the back of my tank set to have their water flow intersect near the middle of my tank.  After reading your articles, I think that two more of these power heads would be good and I do want to set them up one in each top corner with slightly offsetting/intersecting water flows. Am I correct in saying that I do not want any direct flow onto liverock as it will strip away any life matter?   <You are correct...You simply want to have converging flows that create a "chaotic" water motion. Never direct flow right at an animal, as you'll literally blast the tissue off of most corals when you do this...> From my description, would you feel this is adequate and most appropriate given my setup? <Well, I'm not sure what kind of animals that you keep. This will dictate flow and current requirements. Suffice it to say, if you are keeping a variety of sessile (non-moving) invertebrates and coral, you'll want strong random flows; you can never have too much, IMO. Research a bit about the animals that you keep and plan your flow accordingly, and modify if required.> I do want to incorporate corals in my tank when I can afford sufficient lighting. <Ahh- then you do want as strong a current as you can create, if you're talking about the "SPS" varieties. Other coral require slightly less flow. Arm yourself with a good book on corals, such as Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation" or Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals"...Both provide a great deal of practical information on corals and their requirements.> Questions about algae.  I like the green algae... bring it on... but I believe I am getting some nasty stuff as well.  I'm thinking I have some dead matter hanging off some of my liverock and even some of my once nice and green hair algae is turning dark green/brownish with a more matted, tangled look.  I also have what I originally thought was just sand on my liverock... but it appears to be whitish sand like debris that hangs on my rock.  I think part of the problem originally was my filter hadn't been running for potentially 10 days. <Sounds like detritus, or other dissolved organic manual that is accumulating in your system. Be sure to siphon debris regularly, and change water in regular, small amounts weekly.> No casualties except one Starfish (who I am testing the limits on his regeneration capabilities in my quarantine tank).  I have done two 15 gallon water changes over the past two weeks since noticing the filter. <Good start. If you are correcting a possible problem, maybe smaller (like 5%, twice weekly) changes would be more effective.> So I have this nasty looking brownish gunk algae.  Now that I have it, will increased water movement and more stringent water changes etc... just make it disappear over the next few weeks? <Well, there are no guarantees, but increased water movement, regular water changes, productive protein skimming, and attention to overall husbandry should put you in the right direction. Do some basic water tests (pH, nitrate, alkalinity, phosphate) to get a handle on what's going on in your water. You can get some very good clues as to how to mount a counterattack by simply testing your water!> My Algae Blenny is starving... he won't go near it (mind you, he wouldn't go near the nice looking green hair algae either). <Not a surprise to me! Most of the so-called "Algae-Eating Blennies" seem to lose their taste for algae once they sample the gourmet foods we provide our fishes in captivity! Better to address the root causes of algae: Excessive nutrients. With continued attention to husbandry techniques, you'll see your algae problems start to fade away.> The apparent dead matter hanging on my liverock... should this be scrubbed gently with a soft bristle tooth brush? <You certainly can, or you can use a slow siphon, too. Again, try to correct the root cause of the algae problem. By attacking the cause, not just the symptom, you'll beat the algae!> It looks rather ghastly, yet I'd prefer not to disrupt my extensive rockwork.  Will I harm anything with a toothbrush scrubbing? <Not if you aren't overly aggressive> Perhaps get a tub of tank water for the rock and scrub it in there? <Not a bad idea at all...> Last note... for my water changes I am using my quarantine tank to store water.  I premix everything at the approx temperature and salinity and dump into 20 gallon quarantine tank.  Once my water quality improves in main tank, I plan on 15 gallon water changes every two weeks.  If I am testing my quarantine tank water and my salinity and temperature match my main tank water, is this the best way to do water changes for me? <Personally, I do not take water from the quarantine tank and mix it with the display tank. Remember, water from the display tank should be used for the quarantine tank- not vice-versa! Since the quarantine tank may contain fishes that are potential disease carriers, you NEVER want to put water from the quarantine tank into the display. Better to have a dedicated bucket or other large plastic container to mix and store replacement water in. Also, the quarantine tank is really not a permanent feature; just something you set up as needed and break down when you're done...> Do all the 'tap water' nasties disappear when I have my water premixed like this for 10-14 days in advance? <Not really! Sure, chlorine may dissipate, but substances like nitrate, phosphate, and silicate will not (a lot of which contribute to algae, BTW). Better to use some form of pre-treatment, such as a Reverse Osmosis unit. A great investment for treating tap water if you're a serious hobbyist.> Note, my quarantine tank obviously is headed, aerated with small power head and has a small hang-on back penguin filter (will be upgrading to small $90 EHEIM canister for this tank). <Well-equipped, but be sure to break it all down when you're done with the QT> I hope you don't charge by the word :-) <No charge ever, my friend!> Thanks, Dave <My pleasure, Dave. Sounds like you're on the right track...Just take a few of  the suggestions that I've made here, and you'll be on your way to winning the algae war! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Brown algae/diatoms and Aiptasia Hi guys! First, I want to apologize if this is really dumb to e-mail you about, as I love & respect your site. Unfortunately, I'm not the aquarium nerd I hope to be yet, so I don't quite understand all the A's to Q's in the forums. <Me neither> I do know that I have "brown algae" everywhere in my tank, which my local pet store owner explained was actually diatoms. <Likely so... but could be other groups... as well or in addition> He also explained that it will go away as soon as the tank cycles, so I shouldn't worry. <Pretty much so> The tank is only about 4 wks old, & I have 6 damsels. Is this really the case? Will a Bio-Wheel help my tank? <Short answer, yes> Also, (1 last Q!) Why are Aiptasia so bad? I have 2 on my LR (<-live rock?), & they're pretty to me.. Should I consider actually getting rid of them? Thanks so much for any info & the time!! Robin Wilson <Mmm, "bad" is a value judgment... Glass Anemones can be "bad" in that they may sting other desired livestock, crowd out other sessile invertebrates, utilize nutrient you might want available elsewhere... But they are gorgeous in many settings... Bob Fenner>

Help!  Green Water and Maracyn Hi Folks, <Valerie> Thank you for all your work on answering our questions! <Welcome> I have a Queen Angel with one severe Popeye.  I have treated with Epsom salts (twice), and have done 3 days of Maracyn treatment (tonight/tomorrow will be the 4th and 5th days).   The Popeye is still bad and is now showing additional "bubbles" on the Popeye. <Good observation, bad situation. Cases like this prove to be very persistent... months to forever/incurable> I understand that improvement of the Popeye may take a week or so. <I hope you're right> What I am worried about is that today the water in the tank is green!  Could the Maracyn be causing that? <Yes... anti... biotic... Maracyn is a brand name for Erythromycin...> I had removed my charcoal and PhosGuard on the second day.  Should I add it back in? <Nothing> the Maracyn package says that if the charcoal is more than 5 days old it can stay in the system. <Yes... carbons are very rapidly exhausted... ones more than a few hours in use are almost entirely "used up"> I have keep the skimmer running although there is a lot of foam in the sump. I turned the UV off but just put it back on after reading on your site that it can stay on.  All other fish are doing fine. Thank you so much for your help!!! Valerie <Lots to say... I take it you're read through the FAQs on Popeye/Exophthalmia archived on WetWebMedia.com and if not, I would do so (you can use the Google search tool on the homepage)... other than stable, optimized conditions, good nutrition, there is not much else "to do" here. Bob Fenner>

Going For That's 80's Look! (Bleached Corals and No Algae!) Hey Bob and Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I have just set up a Fish only system for a friend - it is 1600x450x450mm and has an overflow system. It runs into a wet/dry filter, which has a Prism pro, 40w UV and a small ozone generator (plumbed into Prism- no RedOx controller). It has a pair of T5 tubes on top (perhaps a little much light but its in a bright room). Recirc rate is around 2500l/h. Its designed to look like a minimalist setup and has a Clown Trigger, Polka Dot Grouper, Marine Betta, pair of Zebra Damsels, pair of Yellow Wrasses and a Scooter Blenny. All coexisting well. <Quite a crowd! A seriously hungry crowd, at that!> However, algae! <I'll bet!> Bright room means heavy algae growth in the tank. <Well, bright room and excessive nutrients in the water can equal algae. Fostering aggressive nutrient export mechanisms is vital in a tank/situation such as this> Maybe a RedOx controller to control water conditions - I don't know how much ozone to add. <Ozone is a help, but it should be used in conjunction with other nutrient export mechanisms, such as aggressive protein skimming (yanking out at least two cups of dark gunk weekly), regular frequent water changes, use and replacement of chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon and Poly Filter> I have been trying to find details on copper poisoning of algae but can't find details and know what it does to the biological balance so I'm unsure of what to do there. <Ahh...better to try the ideas outlined above first. Copper and use of other chemicals to control/destroy algae are really tough to administer, and the potential for "collateral damage" to desirable life forms in the tank is too great, IMO. Besides, using chemicals is really a "band aid", which just takes care of the symptom, and does not address the root cause of the algae problem.> Maybe an algal scrubber with Caulerpa or a cleanup crew - how bout a tiger cowry?- which way to go? physical or biological control of algae???? <I'd try the nutrient export angle, as outlined above. Adding scavengers can help, but they are also bioload, and potential dinner items for your trigger.> Bleaching the tank decor will happen soon so that should take care of the algae growth on the corals. <Well, yes, but again, try to address the root causes> I've been through most of the FAQs but cant find any details on how to successfully maintain  a "Miami vice" bleached white looking sterile marine tank. I know its not the norm anymore but it's what they are after. Can you help? Thanks, Cameron <Well, Cameron- the bleach, ozone, and other nutrient export mechanisms will help! You're on the right track, if that's where you're headed. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Algae Issue - Can't Solve Sorry for all the questions. You guys seem to be the only guys on the web who can give fast, useful answer in quantity. <Thank you for the compliment!> This is concerning nutrient export. My 4 tanks are in line with a sump (20lbs live rock). The water volume flowing though each tank and the sump is 750Gph. (lots of small powerheads in each tank as well.) However, the PhosBan gets water contact with only 200gph. The refugium with the macro gets 250gph. Should I increase flow for each to expedite nutrient export? <Increasing flow isn't really necessary.> How often should I harvest the macro? <Generally, I aim to start pruning the algae once it starts to impede any water current or starts to take over any other species of macro algae. For me, this is about once every 2-4 weeks.> Also, the hair algae grows only in high flow areas. <This is all very strange. There are a few things that I could guess that may be triggering your problem. The first is that there is some rotting nutrients somewhere in the tank -- perhaps detritus or fish waste which is slowly releasing phosphate and other nutrients into the water column. Simply syphoning this out and adding more flow would decrease the chances of having any build up of detritus. The second thing I would look at is that you simply cannot get rid of it because it has already been rooted onto your liverock. I would first attempt to put a clean piece of liverock (this doesn't have to be very large) in the same tank as the hair algae. However, keep this rock away several inches from the algae. See if this new piece of liverock goes any hair algae within several weeks. What often happens in newer tanks is that, when initially setup, the tank contains lots of phosphate and silicates. These will often trigger sudden algae blooms. Once the phosphate is gone (through water changes, macro algae, PhosBan, etc.) the algae will still live. I've read that many species of hair algae can regrow from a single cell, even without phosphate in the water column. If this is the case, simply scrubbing the liverock very well with a toothbrush for the first month may be sufficient. This is what worked for me when I had a Bryopsis problem, along with many turbo snails and a few urchins. Please let me know how it goes and if you have any more questions. Take Care, Graham.> Again, any help is appreciated. Nic

Algae advice I have a 58 gallon tank with a crushed coral substrate. <Fine!  Don't say "hi"!> Currently I am being over-run by green algae (its rather like green hair, but I'm not sure if this is what you classify as hair algae per se). I have had algae cleaners in the tank for some time, 3 emerald crabs, lawnmower blenny, scarlet shrimp, blood red fire shrimp, misc snails and hermits. I have a couple of questions, all of the above do a great job keeping the algae to a min on the live rock itself, but nobody touches the algae on the crushed coral substrate. <Well, there's always the issue of nutrient control.  Are you skimming 1-2 cups of dark skimmate a week?  Frequent partial water changes?  What is your pH\nitrates\phosphates?  Do you use any sort of chemical media?  One of your main problems could be the fact that you are using crushed coral in the first place...not recommended for the home reef, as it is next to impossible for benthic animals to keep sifted\stirred> I know there are a lot of sand sifters that would have helped had I gone that route. <Hmm, should have read your next sentence... :)>Is there anything I can do to clean up the bottom? I have tried pulling up the intertwined algae encrusted bottom but it's a nightmare trying to get it all up. Is there any animals or do I simply need more of them to keep it down. <I would try nutrient control before adding any more livestock> I don't think over-nitrification is the problem as I only have the lawnmower and a clown in there and he eats all the food I give him. I have a sump with a emperor 400 as well as a canister filter running straight out of the tank (can you say a lot of filtration?).  <What about a skimmer?  And what are you nitrates, measured as nitrate-nitrogen?>  What's my best option, I read the algae faq and most deals with prevention, but now that I'm overrun, what's the least evasive way of cutting it back? <Swapping out your substrate ;)  It can be done, with a large tube to siphon it out...then put down a deep sand bed of aragonite> As far as the inverts how long do the inverts typically live? <Hermits only a few years, snails it depends on the species...I would look into some of Ron Shimek's research for more detail> How often do they need replenishing? <Whenever they die ;) - M. Maddox>

Algae in scratches on glass Hello; <Good evening> I have scratches on the inside of the glass of my 55 gal reef tank.  I'm not sure whether I created these scratches by using a metal scraper blade to remove coralline algae, or by using an algae magnet (I hear both actions, if done improperly, can scratch the glass). <Yes> Green algae grows in these scratches easily, making the scratches quite visible ;-) and making the tank generally ugly. Assuming there's no easy way to actually remove the scratches, what's the best way of removing the algae from them?  None of the algae removal items (pads etc.) I've bought from my LFS seem to work. Thanks! <Other than techniques to make nutrients scarce through chemical filtration and/or competition, there is little you can do here. Are both sides of the tank scratched? One side may be better to turn as the front... The above methods are detailed in various places on WetWebMedia.com under marine algae control. Bob Fenner>

Marine Algae Issues Hi crew.   <Hi reader! Ryan with you today.> I know you hate these algae questions.  <My worst question at WWM is still better than ANY part of a real job!>  I know what mine is, its a  green string algae.  I’m just not sure how it got into my tank and why it is  growing so fast.  <Excess nutrients, lack of circulation, ample phosphates.>  I scrape my glass at least once a week.  <Good for the forearms...Quit whining!  Just kidding.>   2 days  after scraping, it is COVERED with this green string.  My tank is 11 months  old, and I have never had this problem.  I assume I brought it in, since I  just added several new corals.  <Likely a live rock hitchhike.>  I have 0 nitrates, both with my own test, and my LFS test.  I have almost no other growth of algae, besides  coralline. <Sounds like the algae you're wrestling with I have Caulerpa, and it grows rather slowly.  I’m  dumbfounded at the growth of this algae.  Literally 2 days after a complete scraping- it is all over the glass.   <Tell me more about your setup- Size, equipment, and water quality.  pH, phosphate, dissolved oxygen all important in this battle.  Take a water sample to your LFS and avoid buying these tests that you'll only use once in a while.> Merry Christmas, Happy holidays, and a good New Year to all of you!!   <And the same to you and yours.  Good luck!> James

An Algae Question, Follow-Up Hi Ryan, <Morning!> My tank is a 90 gallon, 135 lbs LR, 2x250 watt HQI Ushio 10K halides,  1x96 watt PC tube 50/50, 7 outlet closed loop with about 3000 GPH, and a G-X2   skimmer. <Get much out of it?> My water averages 77 degrees, 8.2 pH, 1.023 gravity 0 in  amm, trite and trate.  Phosphate should be 0, I use a Maxima R/O.   The growth seems to have slowed down considerably the last 2 days. <Ah, good> I  am also proud to say I have been ridden of the Cyano I was plagued with 5 months   ago.  <And once it's truly gone, the fight is so much easier!  Good luck> Thanks again! James I will get my phosphate checked to be sure, and Ill test for  oxygen <A good idea... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/d_o_faqsmarine.htm>

Red Mat Algae 12/14/04 I have a 75 gallon reef with corals and fish, 1 year old.... 300 watts of compact lighting on 12 hour cycle. I have recently had an outbreak of red algae that resembles the "typical" green algae on the live rock. <sounds like red Cyanobacteria (AKA a "BGA"... do keyword searches for these terms with the search tool on our home page> at first I thought it was Cyano algae <agreed> ... so I treated with ChemiClean several times with respective water changes. After contacting several local stores I  have found that they are experiencing similar outbreaks. <this does not exclude Cyanobacteria> I use RO/de-ionized water, as do they. <hopefully aerated and buffered before use as evap or for salting... else your pH and/or Alkalinity are likely low or flat (under 8.3 pH by night and under 10 dKH?). If so, this will contribute to such nuisance algae. Get your pH soundly to 8.3-8.6 and ALK of 10-12 dKH> The algae isn't Cyano. algae, doesn't grow long, just stays "velvet like" on the rock...  any ideas? <without a close detail pic or better description, my hands are tied here. Just guessing. Anthony>

Algae Too Hi Mike, The hex is doing great, all my algae is gone and the nitrates seem to stay around 20.  Looking good, and my Condy is doing well!!  A new addition. The problem now, is in my 55 gallon.  The algae is getting worse, just like the 42 hex.  I have a 3.5" Picasso, a Saddleback, a tomato and a yellow tail damsel.  My Temp is 77, Nitrites and ammonia are 0.  But, like the hex, the nitrates are high.  They are getting better slowly by doing the 25% water changes as you recommended.  But, they seem to have leveled out at 80.  I can, and will keep doing the water changes. Maybe 2 weeks and 4-5 25% changes are not enough time.  I want to get another much larger tank, but that seems like it will be at least a year or so.  This tank has been operating about 2 years, and just now having the algae problem.  Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as so far you have hit the nail on the head 3 times with the other tank and the "greenhouse effect"   Thanks again,  and I wish you all a Merry Christmas!!!! <Jon, I am glad that I have been such a good help to you.  I found that if nitrites <<nitrates?>> are too high I would need a protein skimmer or a U.V. sterilizer.  If you have a U.V., when was the last time you changed the bulb? and is the water flow through the unit sufficient?  I would think about getting one of those two units.  If you do, please email me back with more information.  MikeB.>

MMMM....Tangy Good morning, <Morning! Ryan with you today> this is a great site with outstanding information? it's been truly beneficial!  I have a few questions for you this morning.   Over the last 2 months I've been up grading my tank by putting in a 20-gallon fuge (already have many pods), 30-gallon sump, 440-watt VHO system and a 5-inch oolitic sand bed (sugar size) in main tank. <Sound like a man with a plan> This is in a 55-gallon tank with approximately 70lbs of live rock in main tank and roughly 20 in fuge (have a 4 inch sand bed in fuge with 130 watts of PC).   In main tank I have 2 1-inch Sebae clowns, a rock anemone, 15 assorted snails, 15-20 small red and blue-legged crabs.  Only one major upgrade yet to add and that will be a new Aqua-C Urchin Skimmer for my sump (currently have a cheap air-driven model). <Ah, you'll revel at the quality change.>      I would like to add a pair of yellow headed or dusky Jawfish to my tank.  However, I am concerned that they will disrupt my deep sand bed and ruin its intended job.  Is this a valid concern? <They certainly will eat beneficial pods, and in mass.  But, the sandbed won't be entirely compromised- Still a lot of value as a filter.> Also, do you recommend I add any sand sifters to my tank such as brittle stars? <No, they're sifting in an effort to eat up all your hard-grown critters!>    I plan on adding a few corals to my tank and was thinking to go with Xenia, Frogspawn and torch (or I may go with Xenia and a few leathers, not sure yet).  Do you recommend going with a more powerful skimmer or do you think the Aqua-C Urchin will handle the toxins released by the corals and anemone? <Adequate skimmer for this application...Circulation will be your issue!  You've got to keep it suspended in the water column for the skimmer to pull it.> I also have a Penguin 440 in my garage which I could use every so often with activated charcoal to help reduce any toxins. <You can add a bag a high flow area of your sump instead...The Penguin will only add nitrates to your system in the long haul.>     This past week when I arrived home I went to check on my tank and found my yellow tang (had him for 2 years) caught in my rock anemone. I immediately pulled him out and he was in rough shape (ripped up fins and red streaks down his body that looked like rug burn). <I suspect he was ill to begin...Unlikely that he was caught in full strength.> I've had both for some time and I find it surprising he was caught by the anemone and wonder if he could have been sick and possibly weakened before this event? <Mind reader!>  I certainly plan to keep the anemone because it's hosting my two clowns and I really like his colors (deep purple and an almost fluorescent green body).  Perhaps I won't replace the tang, I was worried he'd outgrow my tank...do you recommend any other algae eaters that are fairly active? <Sure, your arm, a razor blade!  Adding bio-load is NEVER the way to reduce your algae issues- Instead increase circulation, and reduce nutrients.  The skimmer should assist quite a bit.> I thank you in advance for you help. <Anytime! Ryan> Best Regards, John McCloskey

Algae ID and Problems (12/11/04) Hi, <Hi. Steve Allen with you tonight.> First off, what a great site, and such a wealth of info. I would be lost and I'm sure many others would be too! <My pleasure to play a small part.> I've been struggling with a slight algae problem for the past month and a half or so, but I can't really see why the algae is there, and I can't quite place what type of algae it is. First off, some tank stats. Its about 30gal, with a 3 inch crushed coral sand bed. About 20 pounds of live rock, and some dry reef rock which has been slowly covered with life such as coralline etc. A Fluval 304 external canister filter filled with ceramic rings increase the bio filtration.<Be sure to clean this inside at least once per week. They are a serious source of nitrates from accumulated detritus.> In the canister is also a phosphate binding pouch. The filter is cleaned every two months or so, it never really gets dirty. <That pouch probably only works for a week or so before being depleted.> Additional water movement in the tank is created with one Eheim powerhead with 600 liters/hour and another maxi-jet with 1000 liters/hour, so decent amount of movement is created. Lights consist of a total of 80 Watts; three HO tubes and another actinic. Lights are on 12 hours a day. In the small sump is a DIY Schuran skimmer, and also a pouch of activated carbon; which is changed every two weeks. Water changes are carried out every 2 weeks with aged R/O reef crystal saltwater, with about 40 liters of 130 being changed so about 30%. Livestock consist of 5 blue legged hermits, a coral banded shrimp, 4 Turbos, a bicolor blenny, maroon clown, six-line wrasse, and a yellowtail blue damsel. Corals are various small clutches of Zoanthus, two actinorhodos, a small sinularia, three polyps of Caulastrea, and a small branch of Euphyllia paranchora. All in all all organisms fair nicely, with even the Caulastrea forming new polyps. The fish are fed twice a day, with a mix of krill, chopped clam, lobster eggs, brine shrimp which have been vitamin enriched. The second meal is a small ration of Cyclops-eeze. Water stats are as follows. Salinity, 1.023 24 degrees Celsius Ammonia,  0 ppm Nitrite,  0 ppm Nitrate,  0 ppm Phosphate, 0 ppm calcium,   400 ppm Alkalinity,  11 dKH Kalk is dosed to make up evap water. <Are you using reliable kits. With your stocking levels, care routines and all, it seems odd that you would have an algae problem with zero nitrates and zero phosphate.> So now, my algae problem is such. When I last did a water change, I removed all the visible algae, but within 24 hours it was back. The algae looks like Cyanobacteria; but it only grows over the gravel, and is usually quite thin so than the gravel is still seen under it. It is light golden in color, and in clumps it is brown. <Sounds like diatoms, or perhaps dinoflagellates.> Only if it is disturbed does it clump together into balls. I've had a small patch of what I could see as Cyano, and it was really purple, but the other algae is another color, and really grows a lot where the rocks meet the gravel. Where the gravel have sharp points, stands of brown algae flow in the current. It also creates a thin film on the glass. If one looks closely, one can see thin single filaments; and a golden sheen on the glass. I don't know if it is Cyano, or if it might be diatoms. Can diatoms form films <yes>, or do I have a problem with brown algae. Also I've noted, that the nearer to the time of lights out, the algae seems to lose its color and disappear, only to be back the next day. I have a small clump of Bryopsis which does not increase in size....I just keep forgetting to remove it because it is under a rock. The tank has been up for about 10 months now. As I said I use R/O water, and my make up saltwater has zero unwanted contaminants. The R/O might contain silicates because it does not have a Ion exchange column. <You can test for this.> What can you suggest I do, add a silicate binding pouch or a, IO column, or is it another type of algae. I've read in a book that algae blooms might be season related because I never had a problem during summer. Cheers for your help, I'm desperate, because the algae grown overnight!!! Chris B <I highly recommend Julian Sprung's "Algae" book. Is inexpensive, has lots of great pictures for ID, and gives a lot of control advice.>

Hair Algae I have a 200gal reef tank that has been over run with hair algae. I have read all your site offers and I am just wanting to confirm with you if my actions I am going to take are the right ones.  I really only have mushrooms and a few cauliflower corals so what I am going to do is place these very few inhabitants in my refugium to give them there light and I am going to shut the lights of let the algae die, change my media VERY often, let my detritus eaters do their job and do active water changes siphoning as much of the dead algae out as possible while at the same time replenishing my refugium, which also was devastated, with the beneficial macro's it needs.  I am going to place some lettuce slugs, improper name I know, in the refugium to ward off the little hair algae that will follow on the corals rocks.  Is this a good plan of action? <Sounds fine thus far... do you have data on system and source water nutrient levels, particularly soluble phosphate? You might want to look into some larger filamentous algae eaters... blennies, tangs... Bob Fenner> John M. Thank you

Hair algae question Hi Guys, Just found you…….I’ve been relying on information supplied by my dealer . I have taken out all of my live rock and scrubbed it down to get rid of this green hairy algae it only lasted for about a week then started up again with a vengeance. I called a dealer out town and he has suggested Rainford's gobies. Before I get them I’d like to know your thoughts. <Before you add fish to take care of the problem I would suggest you identify WHY you have the problem and THEN take care of the why.  This page is about algae control  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm  and this page is about using fish for algae control http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algeatrcontfaqs.htm.  Take a look at these and the other pages that attach to them and lets get you a plan of action.  I know you can conqueror this problem and I'm positive we can help you. MacL> Thanks Ray

Slimy marine system, in the Ukraine! 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. 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 (?). <Mmm, interesting... this genus of dinophyceans is usually found in cooler waters: http://www.utas.edu.au/docs/plant_science/HAB2000/abstracts/docs/Elbraechter_M.html> May DOC & detritus trigger their growth? <Yes> Could you recommend some works (better on-line) about their metabolism? <A simple search with the key terms of the genus, physiology, control...> 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. <Worth trying> Could its deficiency and weakening of macroalgae stimulate the bloom? <Yes... at least a contributing factor> Could an iron addition slow brown slime development? <Yes> 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? <Yes, possibly> Could you advice something against the brown slimes? Thank in advance, Interzoo, Odessa. <There are a few approaches to the control of these biflagellate colonies... Of the few major categories, the one you don't mention is the use of other macrophytes for molecular competition/allelopathy. You might try culturing other groups (Chlorophytes, Rhodophytes) in the same or a separate or tied-in sump. Bob Fenner>

Algae on substrate WWM Crew, Thanks for maintaining such an informative site.  This is my second question to you guys, I appreciate the answers!<Sure, not a problem.> I've attached a photo to this email, I have a well established 60 gallon FOWLR with crushed coral (size 1 and 3) substrate that recently has been developing algae.  It's green and brown, and my guess is its hair algae, but I was hoping you could identify it for me.<From the picture that you sent me it looks like it is Cyanobacteria.>  I purchased a diamond sleeper goby to try to help keep the substrate clean, but before it had a chance it jumped out the back of the tank overnight and unfortunately died.<That is not good.>  I'm not sure it could handle the crushed coral substrate anyway, do you know if it can or it needs sand?<It prefers sand so it can burrow itself in a protective cave.> I have 3 turbo snails, 5 Nassarius, a yellow tang, bicolor blenny, 2 ocellaris clowns and a 6 line wrasse, also 2 cleaner shrimp and what I believe to be an asteroides red knob sea star (South American).  Aqua C urchin and a wet dry.  Recently upgraded to a Mag 7 pump for the return (from a RIO 1700) so the water movement should be better. <O.K.>   Any advice for how to keep this growth down?  Not much growing on the live rock, just the substrate.  Should I just toss the top layer of the substrate?  Get a lawnmower blenny?  Or try another sleeper goby and hope it doesn't jump?  The algae is now about one-quarter inch long in some areas. Thanks.  I just ordered Bob Fenner's book and am looking forward to reading it. Jim <Jim, from the picture that I was able to see the algae looked like it was Cyanobacteria.  If there are "hair like" growths off of it, it could be that it is filament algae.  Either way it is a result of the nutrients in the tank.  I would recommend a phosphate sponge to remove any excess phosphates in the tank and physically removing the algae.  Increasing the water flow in the tank will help. (I.E. a power head or two.)  I lawnmower blenny will help if the algae is a filament algae but, you want to control the source (I.E. the cause and not the effect) One more thing, make sure you are using R.O. water for your water changes and top off water, and cut down on the feeding of your fish.  Good Luck. MikeB>

Algae problems 12/1/04 Hi I searched all over this site and cannot find anything like I have. I have an algae that has air bubbles in it. It is becoming a real problem. I never had an algae problem before. First I saw some hair algae then a little film started covering everything and there is little air bubbles in it. Any Ideas? <Sounds very much like Dinoflagellates or possibly an unusual Cyanobacteria.> Nitrates are a little high but always have been about 15ppm I am  in the process of removing my bio balls to fix that and setting up a refugium built one myself. I replaced all my lights and I think that is when the algae took off. Any thing that eats this? Do you know what it is ? Thank you <Not too many critters will eat Cyano or dinoflagellates.  While a change in lighting can trigger blooms, it is not the lighting's "fault".... there has to be an underlying problem.  I would suggest testing for phosphate as well as upping your water change regime and siphoning out as much of the offending algae as you can.  Also be sure that your pH and alkalinity are at the upper ends of their normal ranges so that coralline algae and corals can out compete the algae.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Several Questions (11/28/04) If only I had found you guys about a month ago! <Glad to help now. Steve Allen this evening.> Primaries: 105 gal tank with bubble ball sump, protein skimmer producing about 50 ml.s daily, 110 watts compact lights (tank is 18 inches tall), 150 lb live rock. Temp 77 all other parameters within normal. <In medicine, we joke that WITHIN NORMAL means "we never looked," rather than "within normal limits."> There is a 1/4 inch coral sand bottom. Food: Mysis, Emerald Entree, Nori.  Inhabitants: 3 Damsels, coral beauty, snowflake eel, arrow crab, cleaner shrimp, flame hawk, and low light corals (mushrooms and polyps). Question 1:  There is a green algae growing (since the end of summer) on the live rock (I didn't recognize it on you FAQ pages). <Check Julian Sprung's excellent Algae book for ID and other useful info. Inexpensive and useful.>  It is in small clumps that raise to about 1/4 inch high. There are no hair-like projections. <I cannot ID on that basis.> Frankly, I find it very attractive but am beginning to worry about this is interfering with the growth of the beneficial micro algae. <Perhaps, but just what do you mean by "beneficial" microalgae.> Any ideas what it is and is it okay in the tank? <The "algae problem" is primarily and aesthetic one. If you like it, keep it as long as you can control it so it does not overrun coral. Most  folks prefer the appearance of purple/red coralline algae to the green stuff. As long as you are testing and keeping nitrates down, this is not a dangerous problem.> This recent worry comes from the issue in question 2. Question 2:  My local shop sold me on a powder blue tang. <How nice of them to sell you such a difficult fish without adequate info.> Curiosity about its home waters led me to the net and on to you. Of course now having read through your pages, I am worried sick. <One can succeed with this fish. Check here for an excellent article Bob Fenner wrote about this fish: http://www.marineland.com/seascope/ss_Issue1_04.pdf > It is a very healthy specimen, colors are vivid and intense and the fish is fat. <All good signs.> He has been in my tank about a week without issue <Yet. Ich is the biggie with these guys. Pray it does not get an infestation.>, no disputes with his tank mates either way and has found several ways through the rock, going in one spot and coming out another. He is extremely shy and as soon as I try to feed the fish, he disappears. <It will take time for him to get used to his new environs.> He is grazing the rock but isn't eating the green algae mentioned above. I have baked Nori so am heading to the store to get dried. <Julian Sprung's Sea Veggies are great and are sold at Petco.> Given the above parameters, do I need to be changing anything to accommodate this powder blue tang? <Read the article.> Question 3: I have a very young and small French Angel that is in my quarantine tank.  He has developed fin and tail rot.  I have added Kanamycin but the instructions are extremely vague. <Most likely because there is little scientific data to support any given course of therapy.> It says that the dose may be repeated in 24 hours. <OK to do so then.> How do I use this product and how long before I can add this angel to my display tank? <I would watch the fish for improvement in the fins. Do some on-line research regarding use of Kanamycin in fish. You might want to see if there is an vet in your area that is knowledgeable about fish. Do not put in the main until clearly improving. I'd also suggest you start saving for a bigger tank. As your angel and tang grow, I'd say they need a 240 to thrive.> Bob <Hope this helps.>

Fish & Algae Questions Hi!  I have a 110 gallon reef tank that houses many different fish (no angels).  First question, if I introduce simultaneously "Centropyge colini" aka Colini pygmy and "Centropyge aurantius" aka Golden pygmy and also a male and female "Genicanthus watanabei" and a male and female "Genicanthus caudovittatus" aka Red Sea zebra will they all be reef compatible and get along with each other? <Likely reef safe enough, but not happy being crammed in with each other at all... I would stick with just one of the four choices presented... have been out collecting aurantius... they occupy large Acropora stands by themselves or single-species associations... Colin's would be the best choice... the Swallowtail/Genicanthus Angels really need more space...> Second question, I have brown algae growing on sand and some rocks - I think it is a slime type algae - I've done more water changes and also have upgraded to a better skimmer and vacuum the sand off the bottom only to see the next day the brown algae comes back.  The only time it disappears completely is at night.  What do you think is the cause and what can be done to fix this? <Does sound like Cyano... but could possibly be transient diatoms... just keep on with your present improvements... along with having your source water checked for nutrients...>   Do you think I need to shut the lights for a few days to kill this or do you think this will just stress my fish and corals?   <Best to leave your time cycles pretty constant. This is/can be a surprisingly large source of stress> Thanks for you help with these problems. Jim Hoffman <Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Turtle weed, Adding fish in three's Dear Bob, <Howard> I am well into my 4th year as a reef keeper, having started with Conscientious Aquarist and relied on WWM as well as you and Anthony's newer books and email advice. I have been a diver for 40 years and wanted to have a bit of wonders of the reef in my home. It is better than my best pictures! <Mine too> My 100 net gallon show tank is supported by most everything available to maintain perfect conditions: a 30 gal refugium with 6 inch DSB full of regularly harvested Caulerpa, a 40 gal refugium loaded with harvested Chaetomorpha and producing both amphipods and copepods. With the 40 gallon filter sump, I have about 160 net gallons in circulation. A 7 unit R/O-D/I, an 0-3 generator with ORP metering-TurboFlotor, 25 watt U/V, chiller, and a big 25 micron canister that is run once a month for a week or so and then cleaned. All this is run by two 700 gph Iwaki pumps and four large powerheads in the show tanks, one in each refugium. Circulation in the show tank is over 3,000 gph. U/V is valved to 150 gph. TurboFlotor/O-3 at about 300 gph. Everything is controlled by timers an sensors so I can leave it for 2 week trips. Filtration and refugiums are in the basement. Ca is maintained at about 400 with Kalk top off. Nitrates are 0 at the suction sump leading to the show tank and seldom detected in the show tank. ORP stays between 440 and 460. Water change is 10 gallons/ two weeks along with 2 cups of fresh carbon and chemical checks, addition of bicarb, Iodine, Strontium, Epsom, to maintain ideal levels and hardness. Temp is controlled 78 to 80, sp gr at 1.034. Mixing/ageing tank and R/O collection tank are aerated and heated. Lighting is 540 watts of VHO florescent (mostly 10,000 K) on the show tank (replaced every 6 months) and metal halide pendulums on the refugiums. Feeding is very light with just a bit of dry food, pods, and freshly hatched brine shrimp once a week. The tang gets a fresh clump of Caulerpa weekly. Numerous small hermits and large snails inhabit the show tank along with 1 yellow Hawaiian tang, 1 true Percula clown, 3 green chromis, 3 Dartfishes, 1 algae blenny, 4 neon gobies, 1 skunk cleaner shrimp, and 1 flasher wrasse. 150 pounds of live rock is well covered with calcareous algae. SPS and soft corals are very healthy. Most of the livestock has been with me since the first year. <Sounds very nice> I have built this system in an effort to create a very low maintenance, naturally filtered ecosystem using all the knowledge available. Perhaps I have failed. I am plagued by turtle weed on the top of my tank and Cyano on the bottom. What else can I do? The snails can't keep up with the Cyano, the tang never goes to the top of the tank where the weed grows, 100 crabs don't get it done. The "algae blenny" gobbles amphipods. Is there another algae eating fish that will get along with my peaceful community and eat the stuff in the top 1/4 of the tank? <Mmm, perhaps increase the lighting on/over your two sumps... add a bit (a few ounces) of activated carbon in a Dacron bag, place it in your filter flow path)... add some new (a few tens of pounds) of live rock... switch out the substrate in the main tank...> I would change the lighting to metal halide but the refugium half full of fast growing Chaetomorpha with MH lighting also has its share of bad algae. <I see> Next subject: adding fish in three's. While I have never lost a fish to a disease process by the quarantining and dipping Fenner system, I have put in three Dartfishes and three green chromis only have a pair drive the third to living in the back of the aquarium. I wish to add a few blue chromis. should I add them in three's? Note: 4 fish have not survived the quarantine tank, Foster Smith credited me for them. <I would, yes> Howard in Wisconsin
<Bob Fenner in Hawai'i>

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

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