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FAQs on Marine Algae and Their Control 9

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 8Marine Algae Control 10, Marine Algae Control 11, Marine Algae Control 12, Marine Algae Control 13, Marine Algae Control 14, Marine Algae Control 15, SW Algae Control 16, SW Algae Control 17, SW Algae Control 19, SW Algae Control 20, SW Algae Control 21, & Marine Algicide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; Controlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Green Algae, Brown/Diatom Algae, Phosphate

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Algae ID, 'scope, sample, rdg.     5/29/13
Any ideas what this is? It's fuzzy and very moss-like. I have a bit of red Cyano on my substrate and figure whatever this other stuff is it'll compete for nutrients with the Cyano. It's only growing on the back of my tank and the fish don't seem to be interested in it. Should I remove it, or just leave it be?
<Likely a large mix of green/s, blue-greens, Protists... Need to sample and go over w/ a 'scope. I'd remove a good deal of it with a scraper and vacuum every water change. Bob Fenner>

Algae Control 5/12/08 Hi Crew, <Hi Sam> I have a 10 gallon with a number of Candy Cane colonies and a Neon and Clown goby. I have algae on some of the Candy Cane skeleton and can not get rid of it. Some stay clean and other may get it and I can clean them completely. But others I find impossible to clean. Is there any critter you can suggest that may posiibly clean the coral of algae. <I'd probably try a few Blue Legged Hermit Crabs, no guarantees here.> Also any ideas as to why the algae picks on some and not others. <More than likely less water movement in the affected coral area. I'd employ some chemical filtration here such as Chemi-Pure with phosphate remover. You need to control the food source of the algae.> Thanks <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Sam

Algae Control  - 03/25/2006 Greetings.........Ok, after searching the website, and rereading the bible (reef invertebrates) I'm more confused then ever....lets start at the beginning....After doing a FO tank for 10+ years, wanted something new so hooked up with GARF 2 years ago and switched over to a reef system. Using their recipe for about 2 yrs , turning the substrate into clay, having green rocks...etc, something had to change.  Four months ago meet Rusty from SeaChem who had me dismantle the tank....remove all rock (about 150lbs..some wild some aquacultured and some concrete (garfs rock)) and scrub the algae off, remove and dispose of the substrate along with all water.....so here I am 4 months into this project, 125gal tank, 5"dsb CaribSea select, Little Giant circulation pump(725gph), 2 Tunze 6000 powerheads(52 to 264 US gal.) with a 7095 controller which is set to 1 pump off, 1 pump on...the on pump varies from low to high with a 3-4 sec pause...trying to get a wave effect. Eheim canister filter   using Purigen and ROWAphos, 4)96wt PC lights(2-10K 2-actinic)( just replaced the bulbs thinking the frequency has changed )...........water tests all look good, alk and cal are a little low(3.5/375), ALL the corals look awesome, growing like weeds and if it wasn't for this red stuff, I'd be sitting pretty, but this red stuff is driving me bonkers....It reminds me of diatoms( a light power, dusting) when I do a water change (every 2 weeks) and use your trick of a toothbrush attached to the end of the hose, it easily brushes off.....it started on one side of the tank (the lower water movement side), but I can notice it on the back wall.....I'm guessing it's "Cyanobacteria"??......but if it is, documentation says water flow.....and I have it growing on the discharge from the Eheim??? AAARRRRRR So I am asking the dolly lamas advise....please wise one, which road do I take??  <A few questions for you.  Do you have a heavy bioload in the system? You do not mention use of a protein skimmer, very helpful here.  You may have high silicates in your tap water as you do not mention use of a RO/DI unit.  Are 10% water changes made weekly/bi-weekly?  Filter pads in the Eheim should be cleaned/replaced on a weekly basis.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks as always!!

Randy Algae Control <A few questions for you.  Do you have a heavy bioload in the system?> No, 19 clumps of corals, 3 fish, 2 cukes, crabs, snails <You do not mention use of a protein skimmer, very helpful here.> Yes, Oceanic plus series model 4, set to a light cup of coffee. <You may have high silicates in your tap water as you do not mention use of a RO/DI unit.> Yes, Santa Barbara has high silicates, but using a RO unit with a Kent hi-s cartridge to make tank water   <Are 10% water changes made weekly/bi-weekly?>  Water changes consist of 25% every 2 weeks. <Filter pads in the Eheim should be cleaned/replaced on a weekly basis.> No haven't been, cleaning filter pads when a water change occurs.  Just using the OEM pads that came with the filter, have not added any additional or  Poly Filter. <Cleaning/replacing these weekly will reduce nutrients for problem algae.  A Poly Filter cut into squares and placed in the Eheim will be of great help also.  Vacuuming the substrate during water changes is very beneficial in reducing nutrients.> After a water change yesterday, water parameters are as follows: 77.8 temp 1.024 salinity 0 phos .05 nitrate 3.25 alk 0 nitrite 0 ammonia 7.92 ph 325 cal  <Kind of low for corals.> Thanks  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Randy
Algae Control ongoing barely readable corr.    3/27/06
<Cleaning/replacing these weekly will reduce nutrients for problem algae.  A Poly Filter cut into squares and placed in the Eheim will be of great help also.>  We are assuming that the red dusting in the tank is a algae growth caused by an excess of nutrients.  No assuming.  Excess nutrients will promote diatom and nuisance algae growth.>   <Vacuuming the substrate during water changes is very beneficial in reducing nutrients.>  If this is true, it is the root of the problem, I have NOT vacuumed the DSB since it was set up 4 months ago, but I was under the assumption that vacuuming the DSB was a NO  because we would be getting rid of the critters that we worked so hard to grow...<Unaware of the DSB as it wasn't mentioned in the original query.  Would be unnecessary to vacuum provided there are plenty of critters living in it.  Do consider a sand sifting starfish to help along with detritus removal.> 325 cal  <Kind of low for corals.> Yes, target number is 400, but 350-375 for this tank is a realistic number. It seems once the cal goes above 350 is when the diatoms get out of control and I end up with a brown sand. <If liquid type foods are used, use them sparingly...instant nutrients.> Also on a side note, I my almost constantly adding SeaChem reef builder to keep the alk at 3.5  <Do you aerate your make-up water for 24 hours before adding the salt?  Excess CO2 will cause alkalinity levels to drop.  Everything we are talking about here can be found on our site.  Please search/read WWM for more info.  Much more there than I have the time to tell.  In future replies, please do not cut and paste clips of my text.  Makes it more difficult as I have to insert missing carets, etc, and it is not the proper format for posting on our daily FAQ's.  And do capitalize "i's and proper nouns so I won't have to.  Thank you.  James (Salty Dog)> <T> thanks again for your attention<.>
Randy Algae Control
OK...I started confused, and have now moved into frustration. <Welcome to the hobby.> In your comments you suggest a sand sifting starfish, but when searching on www.wetwebmedia.com Eric R. kept saying no, stay away from them because it will decimate the fauna in the DSB.  <I don't believe that would happen in keeping one starfish.  A healthy bed will promote continued propagation of the organisms.  Keep in mind that these starfish will require supplemental feedings of Nori, bits of clam meat, etc, or they will starve to death.   The amount of good they do will far outweigh the bad.  Along with some microorganisms they also feed on detritus and excessive detritus appears to be your problem area at present.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again  <You're welcome> Randy

Algae woes 3/20/06 Hello, My tank is an algae growing machine! I've been reading on reefs.org, and checking wetwebmedia.com to try and diagnose my hair algae problem. Can any of you offer any suggestions? <<A common problem.  Let's take a look...>> Here is the deal: 80g FOWLR. Only one fish, a 3" undulated triggerfish I feed one quarter cube of formula one a day or less. Two Tunze 6100s, so lots of flow. About 70 pounds of liverock. Power compacts (one full spectrum, one actinic). Only filtration is a remora pro with mag 3 pump - I clean it daily. The tank also get a moderate amount of natural sunlight during the day. I thought this might be ok since real reefs get sunlight, and also I have seen full spectrum lighting highly recommended for aquaria. <<This all sounds fine.  The sunlight is fine also, although limiting light is one strategy for controlling algae.>> I want to starve the algae by finding the source of nutrients. I used to have a thin layer of crushed coral, but removed it because it seemed like it was trapping a lot detritus. (The live rock is very active and there was a lot of detritus). <<A thin layer of crushed coral is OK, and with either the CC or a bare bottom, you should be aggressively removing detritus during water changes.>> The other thing I am wondering about is my water. I live in San Francisco, which is supposed to have decent water for aquariums. (Opinions?)  I keep salt water in a covered Rubbermaid with a powerhead for about a week, then change 10 gallons a week. I have another covered Rubbermaid with aged fresh water that is being run through a Kalk reactor and LiterMeter for top off.  I finally got some Salifert test kits, and here are my results: Fresh/mixed water from Rubbermaids: Phosphate 0.1ppm, and Nitrates 10ppm (ppm = mg/L) <<Local public water is highly variable, even within the same region.  Seasonal changes, water authority policy changes and other factors have a lot of influence.  Based on the results of testing your newly mixed salt water, I would recommend an RO unit to remove the phosphate and nitrate.>> Water drawn from tank: Phosphate 1.2ppm , and Nitrates 68ppm (ppm = mg/L) <<Yowza!!  That is quite a bit of phosphate.  I would strongly recommend and RO unit to help prevent importing more via your tap water, as well as considering an iron oxide hydroxide based phosphate remover (the red stuff, not the white stuff) as part of your strategy for fighting this algae.  Also, and very importantly, you don't mention pH, Alkalinity or calcium.  By maintaining these all within normal ranges, you will help encourage coralline algae to out compete the hair algae on your rock.>> I have been removing a lot of algae by hand since the substrate removal, and am hoping that I can solve this problem soon. Would it make sense to leave a lot of hair algae on the back wall of the tank? My idea is that it might use up the nutrients in the tank making it less likely for algae to grow elsewhere, like on the liverock. Sort of like an in tank refugium. <<I would continue to harvest from all surfaces, but don't scrape the glass totally clean.  Harvesting the algae encourages new growth.  The new growth will consume nutrients and the harvest will export them.>> I can't really think of anything else that could be feeding the algae. I notice a get growth spurts shortly after water changes, so I am guessing source water has something to do with it. Are my source water measurements really that bad?!  I am trying to avoid RO/DI unless necessary, since this is only a FOWLR tank. Thanks for any advice. <<Sorry for the bad news, but your source water seems to be the problem.  0.1ppm of phosphate (like in your source water) is plenty to fuel an algae bloom.  The 1.2ppm you are measuring in your tank is VERY high.  I do have several suggestions.... consider the RO unit (DI is unnecessary). If you do get an RO unit, perform several large water changes in a row (maybe 30% per week for a month) Add some grazing animals like a small zebrasoma tang or an algae blenny.  Urchins are excellent grazers, but might become prey for your trigger.  The same is true of snails, but I would still give it a try.  Continue the manual removal and make sure your calcium and alkalinity are in the normal range or a bit high.  Last but not least, be patient!!  Conquering algae problems like yours is possible, but can take months.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>>
Algae woes part 2 3/24/06
Thanks for the info. I really wanted to purchase a Reverse Osmosis unit, but was looking to rationalize the purchase. Thanks for the help! I ordered a Captive Purity system. <<Excellent!  Please realize that it will still take time and effort to solve your algae problems.  A lot of phosphate has been imported into your system and it will take time to get it back out.>> Also, by the way, my undulated trigger will devour anything short of the liverock itself, so I'll have to pass on the cleanup crew! cheers, Eric <<You may want to consider a fish sitter or separate temporary tank for the trigger while a clean up crew works it's magic for six weeks or so.  If nothing else, consider a bristle tooth tang. Your trigger may tolerate it well enough, and any grazing is better than no grazing.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>>

Everlasting Dino. <make that BGA> battle!  3/20/06 Hello WWM crew and thank you for all your hard work. I'm about to give up on this tank.... I've read FAQ's until my eyes have stung countless times. first I'll give you the basics 75 gallon reef ready 48'' long 18'' wide 21'' high 2- 250 watt HQI 15,000k XMs 14'' from the water surface on now for only 5 hours a day to try and help with what I believe to be dinoflagellates (brown, slimy, trapped air bubbles) <Mmm, no... slimy, trapping... is much more likely Cyanobacterial> 85lbs live rock   substrate is about 2'' maybe 2.5'' deep CaribSea aragonite reef sand pH. 8.2 at night to 8.4 just before the lights go out salinity 1.025 temp. is controlled by a Neptune Aquacontroller Jr and is set for seasonal temperature control, 75.9F this time of year. Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate about 20 ppm <Borderline> Alk. 9.92 dKH Ca. 402.5 ppm   I dose 10ml of ESV 2 part calcium buffer system every morning. Po4 almost undetectable    I use RO/DI for top off water and mixing salt. I'm also using Kalkwasser to help with calcium and phosphates along with a PolyFilter pad   Turboflotor 1000 multi for skimming it does skim light colored fluid often although I feel it's not performing well after reading many FAQs. Also a 15 watt Aquastep Pentair Aquatics uv sterilizer with a MaxiJet 1200 (295 gph). 2 Maxijet 1200 for circulation in display with a 600 gph Oceanrunner for return from a 30 gallon sump with about 20 gallons of water. Now and then I run Phosban in a Kent reactor. Livestock, 2 Ocellaris Clownfish 1 royal Gramma   1 yellow tang 1 skunk cleaner shrimp assorted snails and hermits also finding these dead now and again   had 2 Emerald Crabs but one died just a week ago SPS 2 Acropora 1 Montipora LPS 1 Euphyllia Ancora 1 RBTA anemone ( I hope to remove and give to good home someday) 1 Xenia colony that is doing pretty well. All corals seem to be doing ok. My question is this...After doing many 10% water changes weekly and some near 20%. These Dinoflagellates have won! This has been this way for almost 4 months now! I've changed my bulbs. I've siphoned off as much as possible. I've kept PH. up and constant. Started using Kalk with top off water. All fish are in quarantine due to an Ich outbreak and have been for a few weeks now. I feed very sparingly only twice a week for RBTA and Euphyllia. I've tested my RO/DI unit with a Truncheon nutrient salt meter EC/CF/PPM getting no reading at all! I siphon detritus out of my sump once a month. Blow off rocks every water change. Clean my skimmer, column and pump once a week and cup every time it's emptied. The only thing that I think it could be now is my substrate. Please help me! Should I siphon it out and start fresh with a DSB or start the DSB right over the old? <... I wouldn't> Refugium? <My choice, yes> Quit and take up kite flying? <Is fun...> How can you remove detritus from the substrate? <Siphoning, stirring, more circulation, particulate filtration, patience...> That's about everything I've done...Thank you again for all your hard work and dedication to the hobby!   Regards, John McDonald   <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm "and the linked files above...". Bob Fenner>

UV Sterilizer... to UV or not to UV that is the question , alg. cont.   3/15/06 Ok I have a 220 gallon tank that has a real nasty algae problem, the water has turned this murky green I can't see my 3 fish unless they swim up to the front next to the glass, or the back of the tank I have tested my phosphates and it was at .5 so I added Phos-ban  or Phos-guard, not sure what it's name was yesterday, The history of this tank is this, there was a ick outbreak, put fish in QT treated fish there and treated main tank with lower SG 1.009 and Cupramine. After the treatment I put carbon filters back into my 3 powerfilters and turned on my protein skimmer and started to raise the SG back up to normal. well after a few days my water started to turn this cloudy greenish/yellow color. <The algae taking "advantage" of an unstable, predator-less environment (you bumped off most all of the microscopic algae eating life)> I have done several water changes on the tank doing as much as 45 gallon changes and the green water is still there. I think it looks worse since I did the water change this last time.  I have power heads with air stones to bring in air to the water since I have this huge algae bloom. Here is my question. I have been told that the only way I will be able to get rid of this is with a UV sterilizer. <A good part of it... likely so> It will keep the green water away permanently. <Mmm, maybe... if you have circumstances that otherwise don't favor this> I'm not sure if my LFS is trying to push me to buy or is actually giving me good advice. I have so much tied up in this system at this point I would really like to enjoy it. Would a Gamma UV 25 Watt sterilizer be enough for my tank size? <A good start... actually more watts could go here> Doctor foster and smith have it rated for a tank of 500 gallons with a max flow rate of 2000 gph. Thanks for all your help on this. <Mmm, before buying I would read over the materials posted on WWM re UV use in marine systems, algae control... Bob Fenner>

Air Bubbles In BGA - 03/12/2006 I have a 29g, reef tank, lots of live rock, and only 2 Gobies and a buncha snails right now. I have a 65w compact fluorescent (SP?) <Fluorescent.> and 2 24w fluorescents. I have a Prizm skimmer and a Marineland-200-filter (w/bio wheel). That said, I have a constant problem with algae. I did have bad red-slime (hurricane and no power for 3weeks) that is about gone now, I seem to have a constant problem with "bubble-algae". I don't think it is "true" bubble algae though, I am getting it as small clear 1/16" to 1/8" bubbles forming on the very tops of my live rock, about 3-5 inches from water top, in patches of 3-5" around and usually under a thin green or red film. <Ah ha! You still have the BGA (that's the "film"). The bubbles are in fact bubbles...of air.> I wipe the bubbles away with my feeder stick and within a couple days they are back in exact same spots... <Just follow the standard protocol for BGA elimination.> I don't over-feed the 2 fish and I run a bag of phosphate removal material in the filter every other week. <Do you need this?> Any and all suggestions are welcome. <Is that Prizm actually working for ya'?> Patrick <Josh>

Re: algae growth in reef tank  - 03/13/2005 BGA?  I don't know what BGA is but I will search the WetWebMedia site for it. <A too common acronym for Blue Green Algae...>   so in the mean time while I search - the bubbles are something common?    <Not atypical with many systems, gear>   I don't know that I "need" the phosphate removal - I know I did right after the hurricane when I got power back - but I am sure it cant hurt to do it every other week. can it??    <Not likely, no>   as for the Prizm... I do need to empty the cup every couple weeks so yeah, it is doing something... <Real good. Bob Fenner>
Re: algae growth in reef tank  - 03/13/2005
BGA?  I don't know what BGA is but I will search the WetWebMedia site for it.  So in the mean time while I search - the bubbles are something common? <Any excess nutrients will cause some type of algae growth.>    I don't know that I "need" the phosphate removal - I know I did right after the hurricane when I got power back - but I am sure it can't hurt to do it every other week. can it??<Can't hurt, but in my opinion, nutrient control is your problem now.> As for the Prizm... I do need to empty the cup every couple weeks so yeah, it is doing something...<The entire cup needs to be cleaned on a weekly basis or the efficiency of skimmer is dramatically reduced.  The brown sludge must be removed.>

Algae Progression    3/2/06 Hi Bob, <Scott F. at your service today!> Just a further question. My tank has been established for 3 weeks now and has completed it's cycle. However I am starting to notice a light brown algae develop on the glass panels, the coral sand and the rocks. I would like to know what options are open to me to rid the tank of the brown algae in order to begin promoting the growth of green algae? I am aware that I could add snails however I have heard their population size can get out of control. What method would you recommend?? By the way the tank is FOWLR. Thanks again, Joe. <Well, Joe, this is a perfectly normal type of thing in a new system. New aquariums have immature nutrient export processes, and nutrients and light fuel algae growth. Eventually, the brown algae will be "replaced" by green algaes, end eventually, corallines. Do check your source water to confirm that you don't have high levels of silicates in your source water, which contribute to diatom growth. There are two things that you can do to get rid of brown algae: 1) Wait it out and perform routine maintenance, or 2) Kick up your nutrient export processes. This can be accomplished by utilizing aggressive protein skimming, use of activated carbon, Poly Filter or other chemical filtration media, regular water changes with high quality source water (RO/DI- particularly with high silicate removal capability), and growing/harvesting "competitive" macroalgae to export nutrients that would otherwise be used by the nuisance algae. Given time and use of these ideas, you'll see the brown stuff gradually fade away. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Short and Sweet... and lazy ... algae scrubbing tech.  - 02/27/06 Sorry, I have looked, but do not have a lot of time for a simple question.  Wading through a long story for one piece advice is not time effective right now. <Learn to/use the Google search tool...> (going out of town and I need to place an order with custom aquatics, so I need an answer a little sooner)  Otherwise I get a lot of info off your site!! MY QUESTION:  Which Magnetic Algae Scrubber do you find most effective? <I use an off-brand, actually non-branded variety some folks in China (land of commerce, smarter than land of murder), were trying to peddle... and single edged razor blades occasionally (glass tanks)... some folks utilize "credit cards" for some tough algae>   I have the Afloat 350 for my 150 gallon glass tank and the algae in the "scratches" is a bugger to get out and the corners are useless.  It just doesn't seem to have the "pull" it needs to clean the algae better.  I saw a Magnavore cleaner TUNE-UP kit, and I wondered if that product is better, then as it says, it can be cut down to accommodate other Mag-Cleaners.  (I first was using the Magfloat 350 on my 55 gallon and MAN that worked great because of the "pull", so it must be a combo of magnetic pull and the pad.  Over-all, which product (even if I have not mentioned one you know of is best?) Thanks in advance!!   Carrie :) <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Silver Bullet for algae? 2/18/06 Hi everyone, tell me, I thought refugiums were like a silver bullet for the reef aquaria. I have a terrible Cyano problem and have been through all the trouble shooting to no avail.  (I'm the one ready to quit this hobby) Anyways, now the refug has the Cyano. Whaaaa? This really stinks. what are your thoughts? Thank you  Pam <I wish it was that easy!!!  There are no silver bullets and in reef aquaria, good things take time.  A refugium is a good tool for controlling nutrients, but it can take months for it to get ahead of a high nutrient load.  In the mean time, aggressive water changes, phosphate removers and siphoning of the Cyano will be helpful.  Also, be sure that the basics for preventing Cyano are covered... good water movement (10 or more time the tank volume), normal to high pH and alkalinity and careful feeding.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Clean Up Crew For Overstocked Conditions - 02/10/06 I have a 46 gallon bowfront aquarium that I have had set up for 8 months now.  I am wanting to add some sort of clean-up crew to help me with keeping this system as healthy for my fish as possible.  I have done a lot of research as far as what's compatible with my other fish (a 4-inch Niger trigger, a 9-inch snowflake eel, and a 5-inch emperor angel). <<Ack!!  Too much  fish flesh for this tank my friend!>> I know this is too small of an aquarium for these fish and I'm planning on getting one twice this size around April. <<Mmm, may do for a year or so...really need one twice again that size for this mix.>> I am constantly getting these algae bloom, mostly red and green and some brown, <<Likely due to the "overstocked" condition of the tank.>> in my tank so I was wanting to get something to control it. <<Better to address the cause...>> I recently went to my LFS and I purchased 8 blue hermits and 3 Mexican turbo snails and introduced them to my tank without any problems.  Everybody's getting along without any disputes.  I was told by my LFS that I should get 7 or 8 more hermits and a 5 more snails... is that to much in a tank my size? <<You might get by with the addition of the hermits, though the Snowflake moray may take notice of them eventually and thin their numbers...but I wouldn't add any more of the Mexican Turbos to this size tank...if that's truly what they are.>> I want to get some sort of sand sifter as well so I wanted to know what you recommend. <<Do a Google search on sand-sifting gobies.>>   Can you think of any other invertebrates that would be beneficial to my tank and be able to survive the other fish in my tank? <<Hmm, nope...not under these circumstances.>> Thanks for your help! Brian Brantley <<Regards, EricR>>

Cyano or Diatoms?  - 2/11/2006 Good Morning Guys, Red Slime, or what I believe to be, is such a problem in my tank that it is on the verge of making me give up the hobby. <Can be beat.> Description:  reddish brown powdery stuff that is growing on my live rock, corals, sand, tank. <Bob, if this is a powdery stuff it sounds more like diatoms than Cyano/red slime.> How bad is it?  I can tooth brush it off a live rock and that rock can be covered again within 6 hours.  I have to siphon sand almost daily. <Does it come off in sheets or powder form?> Parameters:  80 gal marine Plexiglas tank (16 inches deep) with 150 lbs live rock/sand  with 15 gal sump with bubble filter, <What's a bubble filter?  Not a internal air operated box filter I hope.>  water changes eod, <What's eod?> ph 8.3, phosphates 0.3, <This isn't helping.> temp 25 c, calcium 420, salinity 1.023, ammonia 0, lights 110 w compacts 10,000 k.  protein skimmer = 1/4 cup per week.  Single laminar flow water return. Live stock: Powder blue tang 3.5 inches, French angel pre-adolescent, snowflake 9", flame hawk.  single stony coral (not sure).  Point of interest is the fact that I can't grow any soft corals in this tank.  Mushrooms shrivel to beads etc.  No algae. What do I need to be looking at to bring the red stuff under control? <The snowflake eel is a pretty good waste producer which can lead to the problems you are having if tank maintenance isn't done weekly.  You didn't mention any type of chemical media you may be using, if any.  For starters I suggest you place a Poly-Filter somewhere where water can flow through it.  This will remove much dissolved waste along with the phosphate. Thinking you sump has a tray for this.  You do need to ensure you have around 800gph total flow in your tank, does help.  Weekly water changes of 10% should be carried out along with vacuuming substrate during this process. You also didn't mention what your nitrate level is.  Read here for more help.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm  <As far as the mushrooms shriveling up you need to address your water quality first then consider increasing your lighting.  One 110 watt tube in a 16" deep tank isn't going to do it.> Thanks for any help, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Bob
Re: Cyano or Diatoms?  - 2/11/2006
Thanks for the rapid response James. <You're welcome.> To clarify, its powdery. eod = every other day. <Wow!> So I do the substrate, rock and glass cleaning every other day with 5% (5 gallons) water change at that time which is equaling about 20% per week.  (I really need to get this down to once a week, I simply don't have the time to keep up this schedule). <Understand here.>  But Due to this amount of water turn around, I don't add supplements. <Agreed.>  I do have a poly filter in place, actually two and another sheet filter over the bio-balls. <If you have live rock lets slowly get rid of the bio balls, a source of nitrate.> Yeah thought the bubble thing might arise a question, I just can't think of the name of it at the moment, it is the filter where the water comes in the top and runs down the bio-balls and then is returned to the tank. <Wet/Dry filter.> About the nitrate levels, not sure but headed to my local and will have them check this.  From your answer, I am now thinking the problem is diatoms.  So what do these little devils eat I mean they are thriving. <If this is a relatively new tank, the diatom appearance isn't uncommon but not at the level you are experiencing.>  Isn't this the famous "Red Tides" thing reported periodically in Puget Sound? <Don't know.> If this brings up any other ideas let me know, if the nitrates are zero, I don't know where else to go. <Are you using tap water?  If so, I'd take a sample to a local pure water store and have some tests run on it, see what's in it.  Might want to seriously consider an RO system.  When did the plague begin?  Was it after you added something?  You need to put a polyester filter pad before the PolyFilter and remove this "sheet filter" (I'm assuming this is a polyester filter pad.) that is above the bio balls. The pad above the PolyFilter will extend the useful life of the Polyfilter. These pads should be changed weekly.  The detritus being trapped will turn into dissolved organics if left in the system too long.> Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Bob
Re: Cyano or Diatoms?  - 2/11/2006
Thanks again James.  Update.  Just back from my local and worse fears realized.  Four weeks ago or so, I tore the tank down and buffed out the scratches on my Plexiglas tank.  All live stock and some rocks and sand were put in my hospital tank.  After getting the 80 gal tank up and after 10 days of running the system, I took a water sample in worried about ammonia and nitrate/nitrates levels (new cycle worries).  The  local store gave the system an A-ok.  So back in went the fish and the coral and the rocks and the sand.  And, because I wanted the thing looking good for the Superbowl party, I added some coral and some fish (blackcap Basslet and a  bicolor blenny)  All of these have been lost.  Sure enough, today, ammonia levels are up (2.0) and nitrites are at 20.  I am surprised at this because it has now been 3 weeks and I would have expected the Ammonia levels to have returned to near zero. <Be closer to 28 days on cycling.> But perhaps the water changes defeated this cycle. Now - back to the diatoms.  Store's recommendation: 1. PURA filtration pad (removes silicates which the diatoms use for cell wall construction).<This is why I suggested taking a freshwater sample to a pure water store and having it checked.  I'm guessing it is high in silicates.> Turbo charge (bacteria to get the cycle completed ASAP. 3. Replace light bulbs. <Are they a year old or replace with a different color temperature?> 4.  Once cycled get 40 hermit crabs and some turbo snails. By the way, this tank has been up for at least 3 years prior to this episode. <But as of now it's only been set up three weeks.> The diatoms showed up after using "Slime Away" about 2 years ago.  This was red slime, came of the glass in long sheets.  It went away and then all of a sudden after about a week, this stuff showed up and I have been fighting it ever since.  So what do you think of their recommendations? <Not familiar with a PURA pad.  Can't hurt to try but no matter what you use for a band aid you have to correct the source of the problem or the problem will never end. I'd bet it's in your tap water.  James (Salty Dog)> Bob

Brown Slime  - 2/4/2006 Hey Crew, I have brown velvet slime spreading on live sand, and rocks, and SPS!!!!! <No fun> 1 1/2 year old 50 gallon reef, 400watt 10K MH, lots of flow, 5 small fish, 20 gall sump, 20 gall refugium, lots of SPS frags .03 phosphate, 450 Calcium 11 alkalinity nitrates low Magnesium 1275 <These are all okay> 10% water change every 2 weeks. I'm on it.  I really do my best to follow the rules for these creatures to thrive. I siphon the stuff out, it comes right back.. Please help, I have read your articles already, any new   breakthroughs??  I'm gonna lose my reef??? best, Jenna NYC <Mmm, nope to losing. Your system is "at the age" where parts of the rock, substrate should be replaced, added to... Please use the Google search tool for "Live Rock Replacement"... and read on... as well as "Cyanobacteria Control" (this is likely the organism here)... there are several avenues you can take to improve your system... as you will see. Bob Fenner>

Bob told me to use canning sugar?  - 2/4/2006 Hi, I met Bob and Anthony in Dallas last weekend at NextWave 2006 and I asked Bob a question about how to control a fuzzy tip algae   outbreak. He said I could use canning sugar and that would do the trick. I was so caught up in the excitement of the day I didn't get a   full understanding of how to dose this or why it works. I would really appreciate it if Bob (or someone else that knows about this)   could send me a quick note to describe how adding canning sugar to the tank will stop fuzzy tip algae from reproducing.  It was a real   treat to finally get to meet you guys in person. Oh and Bob, I checked out the Gillichthys mirabilis (aka longjaw mudsucker); nice   to see I have something named a mudsucker after my name! :). <Heee!> I   attached some pics of the algae, for no other reason then I find it sort of comical, especially when it covers a snail shell and makes   them look like a sort of underwater peacock. Cheers, Ryan Gill <This "trick" involves "over-driving nitrification" temporarily by providing a ready (and safe) source of carbon... in the form of a monocyclic/simple sugar. The best is Glucose (though lactose, galactose, fructose... others might be used). A small solution of about a gram per fifty gallons (doesn't take much) is made in some freshwater and this added to the system toward the evening/dark time... once a week for about three times. Takes a few days to weeks to show effect, but generally useful. Bob Fenner>

Algae Control...  Opinion algae/lighting problem?   2/3/06 Hi & Hello from Wales - UK - could do with some advice on lighting/algae please?  <Will try to.> I have a 'Fit-filtration'  4' tank (55 UK gallons) with built in skimmer and filters A 30 gallon sump UV light - on 24/7 Phosphate removal cylinder - using Two Little Fishes PhosBan Water chemistry Nitrate <10 Nitrite 0 Phosphate 0 KH = DKH 9.00 Alk meq/L 3.20 PH 8.2 Calcium 400 ppm Display Tank has about >25 Kilo live rock 2 x medium size clown fish <What kind, maroons etc?> 1 x 5 inch Powder blue Tang 1 x Pretty prawn goby 1 x 5 inch convict blenny 1 x 7 inch convict blenny 1 x 2" Royal Gramma 1 x 6" (body length) spinney lobster (shed's every 2 or 3 weeks) 1 x common local prawn 2 x Turban snails - 1.5" 25/30 red and blue legged Hermits - Sump tank 10 K live rock 1 X anemone various Caulerpa 30 Watt daylight tube and 30 watt actinic both on 24/7 Time-Line Problem started when I purchased a lighting unit from Germany but designed for UK use - Silver Sun make - had 2 x 150 watt (20K) metal halides and 2 x 40 watt actinic tubes I changed one of the Actinic's for a 40 watt Hagan Aquaristic 18,000 Power-Glo tube The Actinic is on 24/7 <Why?  More time for algae to grow.> the Power-Glo is on 10 am until 8 pm the Halides on 11 am until 6:30 pm When this light arrived I brought most of the live rock up from the sump into the display tank - giving it a good scrubbing on the way - <Didn't scrub it in sump or display tank I hope.> Now to the problem's The display tank live rock is covered daily in green (grass/hairy) type Algae and thousands of air bubbles. <By scrubbing you have more than likely released all kinds of organics into the system.> I can brush these bubbles away and an hour later they are back - I have tried brushing the algae off the LR and sucking the removed algae out as I go - but still it persists in covering everything except the corals themselves daily. The new water deflectors fitted last week are covered in these bubbles [IMG] http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b263/dewi123sant/P1010059.jpg[/IMG] Now I have only been at this Saltwater reef hobby for 6 months - but am I correct in thinking that if it was a water pollution problem that there would also be algae on the rock and glass in the sump? <Not necessarily> My corals and animals all appear to be healthy and grow quickly [IMG] http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b263/dewi123sant/P1010058.jpg[/IMG] [IMG] http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b263/dewi123sant/P1010055.jpg[/IMG] Close up of air bubble problem [IMG] http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b263/dewi123sant/P1010057.jpg[/IMG] And the sump is algae free (except for the plants of course) [IMG] http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b263/dewi123sant/P1010062.jpg[/IMG] Now the Halide tubes have no manufactures name printed on them - just 20,000 150 watt met Hal Is it possible that these tubes are 'cheap and nasties's' or are malfunctioning and are causing the algae problem.  <The intense increase in lighting is aiding algae growth.  Algae need two things to grow, light and food.  The later of which you have too much of.  Your tank is overcrowded, importing more waste than it can export.  The five inch powder blue alone is borderline for your tank.  You need to find homes for some of the fish or get a larger tank. Lets see what we have here: 2 x medium clown fish <medium?? 4", 3"?> 1 x 5 inch Powder blue Tang 1 x Pretty prawn goby 1 x 5 inch convict blenny 1 x 7 inch convict blenny 1 x 2" Royal Gramma 1 x 6" (body length) spinney lobster (shed's every 2 or 3 weeks)<pretty good waste producer here.> This load is something I would expect to see in a 180-200 gallon tank. Do search the Wet Web, keyword "stocking levels".  James (Salty Dog)>

Hair algae   1/30/06 First thing first, is there any truth to this? <... scarce can I name salvation, but fearful thunder echoes in mine ears> "The species is Nassarius Obsoleta.( ILynassarius Obsoleta) These snails are excellent and safe for all types of marine and reef aquariums. <All? Sounds like a sales pitch> They don't consume any form of hair algae <Mmm, no. Many types of "hair algae" are unpalatable to them... most especially Cyano/BGA types> but they will help keep it at bay by consuming the detritus on which it feeds.. They eat slime algae - red carpet algae <Not preferentially> you find in your tanks from high nutrient content and inefficient skimming. These are much more active and tend to do a much more efficient job of keeping the glass clean as well. These are a hardier species than Astrea snails and will outlive them . Also, unlike Mexican Turbo Snails, these will not disrupt coral set-up of the tank These snails being detritus feeders also replace the need for hermit crabs which are in fact predators."  (eBay seller)   I have a 90 gallon FOWLR with a 30 gallon refugium, 100 lbs live rock, 200lbs sand, system has been running for about 16 months with optimal h2o.  VERY AGGRESSIVE MIX  triggers, moray, dragon wrasse. <At least the first and last will consume snails...> My real problem is this, my cleaning crew can't keep up on the live rock and the hair algae takes over.  I at one time or another have put at least 200 or so combined blue legs and snails. <Slow moving meals> I'm guessing that my fish do graze on them since now they only come out when the light is off and the fish are sleeping.  Can I just keep buying them, how many is to many, could I buy like 500 and just go at it or would that over do it.  Is there any other way to save my live rock.   <All sorts... posted on WWM...> I read about the tiny white star fish but can't find them anywhere.  Not sure my fish wouldn't just eat them right away.  OH lighting I have 4 55's  two bright two blue normal stuff I think, is it possible I have to much light for what I need? <... possibly. More aesthetic than functional with the life you list. Is it bright enough for your appreciation? Try turning half off... Still bright enough?> I have the brights on for 8 hrs a day and the blues for about 15hrs a day.   I also couldn't get spaghetti algae to grow in my refugium it actually has hair algae growing on it, I have two 15w tubes or something 24 hrs a day.  As you can see I'm not really sure what to do a couple of months ago I took the rocks out and scrubbed the algae off rinsing it in water from the tank.  They looked ok for a few weeks but it just came back and I'm not sure the rest of the gang appreciated it very well.  Thanks so much for your help. <Mmm, I would not use more invertebrate algae eaters here... Do read through WWM re marine algae control... Many useful means... better skimming, manipulation of pH periodically, nutrient limitation/filtering, use of competing life forms... the addition of living sump/s, DSB's... Bob Fenner>

Algae Has Him Seeing Red!    1/25/06 Hi guys, I was curious, is red algae bad for my tank? I have it all over my rocks, apparently I don't have enough light. I have a 90 gallon with 110 watts of compact fluorescent twin tubes. I thought maybe I should scrape it off, I wanted to know what you guys thought first. Thanks for the help. Sam <Well, Sam- algae, in and of themselves are not harmful. Certain forms of algae can overgrow desired animals in your tank, and generally look unattractive. Excessive algae growth (particularly some of the red varieties) are often indicative of nutrient excesses somewhere in the system. You didn't provide information on your water parameters, so I'll just make some general suggestions. First, try to keep phosphate and silicate at undetectable levels (using quality source water, such as RO/DI, and chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon or Poly Filter). These substances are major contributors to nuisance algae blooms in aquaria. In addition, try to keep a steady, high pH and good alkalinity areas. Overall water motion should be brisk, and good husbandry habits (like careful feeding and regular water changes) should be utilized. These are just a few basic thoughts. Do read up under "algae" on the WWM site to find out exactly what algae you are dealing with, and to develop a plan of attack to deal with it if it is causing problems for your system. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> <<Excess algae growth, presence can indeed be real trouble... toxic. Particularly some species, groups... e.g. Cyanobacteria you likely have here. You want to keep this material limited... as Scott states... through various means. RMF>>

Re: It's Looking Better   1/21/06 I ordered all new lights>> <Cool.> 65W Actinic Straight Pin Coralife (RES54085)   Section: Power Compact Replacement Lamps   Price: $48 ($24.00 x 2)   65W 10K Straight Pin Coralife (RES54065)   Section: Power Compact Replacement Lamps   Price: $48 ($24.00 x 2) <That should help a bit or at least eliminate one potential factor in your algae battles.> Right now, I'm looking for a refugium. I see this one, >>> AFLG CPR AquaFuge Refugium Large  , but it hangs on the back and I prefer to put in under the tank. <Is a good product, though I agree, underneath the tank will allow something larger and more accessible.> It's $115.00. I think I'll spring for a bit more if this will help me achieve better, no, EXCELLENT results! <Hehe, never ending options with these reef tanks.> The fish I have are only 1 1/2 inches big. A clown and 2 unidentified non descript species. <So you aren't overstocked.> I want to ask you about my sand. It seems to have diminished through the 5 years. It's barely 2 inches . Should I add more?? <Either add more or take more out, 2' is a nutrient trap, you need either 1'or less or 4' or more.> Thank you for your help! <Anytime.> Pam <Adam J.>

Algae Problems  - 01/12/2006 To Mr. Fenner and everyone at W.W. Media, Thank you so much for your amazing site and the wealth of knowledge available there! I would greatly appreciate some input. <Thank you and will try> I have a std. 55 gal tank. with about 150 lbs of live rock it is stacked high but is visually great and about 1-2 inches of sand scattered about. . overflow box and sump with bio-balls (unlit) a direct siphon to a TurboFlotor protein skimmer (good skimmate) which empties into the sump and all sump water is returned with two 15 H.F. Rio pumps, to the opposite ends of the tank. Also one Fluval 403 filled with only activated carbon. <Change the carbon over to Chemi-Pure or a Poly-Filter.  Will help.  Poly Filter would be better in your case as it removes phosphates and some nitrate.> Lighting is Orbit 65 x 4 power compact, two front bulbs 10000K, two back bulbs Coralife actinic blue, 10 hrs total on time. The inhabitants: 1 blue damsel, 1 Humbug damsel, <Nasty guy> 1 speckled blenny, 1 yellow tang, 1 percula clown, 1 emerald crab, 5 reef crabs, 1 blue legged crab, 1 long spine urchin (body about 3 inches across), 5 turbo snails, 2 margarita snails. a medium rock covered in green star polyps, a hitchhiker outcropping of medium zooanthids, 3 yellow polyps, 2 small polyps of Ricordea, and 1 bubble tip anemone( I know not a good combo with the urchin,<Yes, the BTA will eventually get poked.> but all the inhabitants seem to be harmonious so far, 6+ months) My temp is 78-80 with a heater in the winter/fall and a chiller in the spring/summer Nitrate and Phosphate are normal. <What's normal for you?> And I do a 10 gallon water change every 2 weeks, <Vacuuming sand/gravel should be done during the water change.  I suspect your substrate is loaded with nutrients/detritus.> with RO water top-offs as needed. Whew! The Problem: Now the problem is algae, about 8 months after starting the tank there was a small bloom of what looked like green hair algae. with a small amount of red slime on the glass only. I think both are actually Cyano. The green gradually spread and I have been fighting it ever since to no avail. I cut back feedings till I lost one fish, covered the tank in a blanket and left the lights off for a week, added about 30 snails and 30 crabs which have died over time, added the urchin, all it does is eat my purple encrusting algae,<Most will> yellow tang won't touch it, emerald crab won't eat it, changed the bulbs to new, cut the lights to six hours a day, and scrubbed the algae off with a toothbrush only to have it come back in a 1-2 weeks. Now the weirdest part is that this stuff grows amazingly well on the snails themselves (that has got to be diagnostic for something!) the remaining live snails all look like long-green-haired hippies! I am at my wits end. Obviously this is a systemic problem. Also my tank never developed all that purple encrusting algae on the rear glass except in small isolated patches which sometime turn white and don't spread. <Do you supplement calcium.  Is needed for coralline growth along with keeping dKH at 8 to 12.> Is there too much live rock? <I don't think so.> Too much/Little light or the wrong mix? <Your lighting should be fine for your purposes.>Still too many nutrients? <That is the problem.  Algae needs nutrients and light to grow/multiply.>What is this stuff? <???> Can send photos if needed! <Would help some.  Be sure to downsize before sending.> any comments about my set-up are greatly appreciated, the best stocked LFS owner here is a real jerk. <Too bad.  You can learn more on the Wet Web Media than you will from most LFS owners.> Read here on nutrient control.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> Sorry about the length of this letter and thanks so much in advance for any advice! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Kevin Harriman
Re: Algae Control   2/2/06
James (Salty Dog) Thanks a lot for the reply. <You're welcome.> I will answer your comments as I go - please do not think I am being unthankful for your advice but if I do not ask you questions I will not learn from you. The Actinic is on 24/7 <Why?  More time for algae to  grow. I read somewhere it was as well to leave them on - obviously you disagree so as from tonight they will be in the dark. <Didn't scrub it in sump or display tank I hope.> No - used fresh saltwater and was done in a large glass bowl - and away from the tanks - the 'dirty water' was then dumped. <Was the rock rinsed in clean salt water after the scrub?<By scrubbing you have more than likely released all kinds of organics into the system.> Because most of the LR had been in the sump it was covered in a very fine particle grunge - So how do I get rid of these 'organics' ? <Google search the Wet Web, plenty of info there.> there would also be algae on the rock and glass in the sump? > <Not necessarily> thanks - that was confusing me The later of which you have too much of.  Your tank is overcrowded, importing more waste than it can export. The five inch powder blue alone is borderline for your tank.  You need to find homes for some of the fish or get a larger tank. 9 foot long X three foot six inch high x two foot wide tank will be here soon - <Ahhh, much better.> > Lets see what we have here: > 2 x medium clown fish <medium?? 4", 3"?> both only 1.5 inch > 1 x 5 inch Powder blue Tang > 1 x Pretty prawn goby 2.5" > 1 x 5 inch convict blenny > 1 x 7 inch convict blenny > 1 x 2" Royal Gramma > 1 x 6" (body length) spinney lobster (shed's every 2 > or 3 weeks) <pretty good waste producer here.> Yep I agree - the waste being my money and corals - he ate my big feather duster 4" and the heads off my candy cane coral - I cannot get rid of him because the 4 Grandchildren love him - they named him Thermador!!! and he will eat out of their hands - <I'd put the rascal in a tank by himself.> These creatures were in the tank when I took it over - these have all grown to this size whilst I have had them - none of them were anywhere near this size then. <Understand> I forgot in the first email - I also have an Eheim 2236 taking water post display tank internal filter and skimmer system and returning it then to the sump input side - sump has four baffles - first compartment has polypad <Polyfilter??> mat 2" thick on top then bio balls <I'd slowly remove these.  Live rock will take care of denitrification.  Can add to nitrate levels.> second has 4" bed of coral sand where all the plants are growing third is live rock fourth is 4" layer Siporax tubes If the load on the tank is too high (and I do not doubt you for a moment ) why are my water readings so stable - especially the Nitrate level of <10 which everyone says is very good? I have never had an Ammonia or Nitrite spike - probably because the system bacteria have grown along with the 'beasts' <Your macro algae is using much of this up along with the nuisance algae.> I am using Seachem reef salt When my new tank arrives - I obviously want to move the live rock to it from the display tank - the current display tank will become the sump - the present sump will then be used for breeding brine shrimp (already have one on garden wall - heated etc -) they breed like crazy. How should I treat the LR before placing in the new big tank? <Rinse well in clean saltwater. I'd keep the lights off the new system till it stabilizes/cycles.> You make no comment on the bubbles!!! <I couldn't open the photos.  Really didn't want to comment on it without seeing.  Read FAQ's here on similar problems.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaqs.htm> Thank you for your help - it is appreciated.  <Do search/read our Wet Web, loaded with information easily found.  James (Salty Dog)> Nige This load is something I would expect to see in a 180-200  gallon tank. Do search the Wet Web, keyword  "stocking levels".  James (Salty Dog)>

Overstocked Nano and Algae Problems   1/4/06 Hello, <Hi Joe.> I have a 24 gallon NanoCube tank with two percula clownfish and three seahorses. <Mmm, methinks you need to be reading up on your sea horses, this tank and the livestock within it as well, are completely inappropriate for this species, read here: www.seahorse.org .> The tank has been running for about a year and everything is going well, except for one thing: Algae. <Some nutrients to blame I'm guessing, you have quite the heavy load and nanos are quite unstable and yours doesn't even include a protein skimmer.> Red slime algae, hair algae, and tons of other kinds of algae just keep growing and growing.   <What is your water change regime, do you clean out the sponges in the cube compartments regularly?> I clean the tank glass everyday with an algae scraper, because if I do not do this, after about a week the glass becomes so covered you cannot see through it.  Slime algae grows all over the live rock and live sand.  I purchased some hermit crabs and cerith snails to get rid of my algae problem, but they have done nothing to make it any better (probably just keep it from getting worse). <Or make it worse my adding more livestock to the tank.>   I do weekly water changes of 10 gallons, <Good.> and my nitrates are >10 so I do not know what could be sparking the algae growth. <See my above comments. Also do you test for phosphates, how much water flow do you have? (not so much I'm guessing with seahorses) Maybe some possible detritus accumulation? And last question; how old is your light bulb?> Any suggestions to counter the algae would be very helpful. Thanks, Joseph Marano <Adam J.>

Compact fluorescent fire hazard and algae killer?  1/1/06 Dear WWW crew, <Michael> Recently getting back into salt water after a 13 year hiatus and many things have changed (like spec. gravity going from .019-.023 to now .021-.025). One change for the better as far as I can see now is compact fluorescent lighting. Purchased a lower end four bulb fixture with two 12000k and two true actinics at 65w each. This came in a box ready to go except for removing the packing and plugging it in. The bulbs were held by metal clips and what appeared to be elastic bands as an apparent extra measure of safety. Well, these bands should not be there! <Yikes... need to be removed before firing up...> I have a bulb that nearly caught fire at the base because of one of these bands. Another potentially serious problem (or maybe a blessing) is that one tube cracked (probably prevented the fire). Well, the next day, all of the algae in the tank was completely gone! The two anemones (one Condy and one pink tip) are still doing great as are the turbo snails (the only inhabitants) The anemones will be going to another tank as I set this tank up with live rock and hopefully a pair of Solomon island true perculas along with a "cleaning crew". But will I have to empty the tank and start over because of the broken light? <Mmm, no> What is the stuff that killed the algae so thoroughly but not the anemones or snails and will it hurt fish? Maybe a bold new product? <Just the lighting likely... different... dynamics... organisms (like the anemones) favored over the algae... their removing nutrient/s...> Thank you in advance for any assistance. M Tabor <Bob Fenner>
Re: compact fluorescent fire hazard and algae killer?  01/01/2006
Thanks for the reply. That really sounds too simple. <Parsimony, serendipity often rule> One 65w 12000k goes down, the algae (brown and green) dies one day later, the water clouds. A partial water change does not remove the cloudiness. <Not likely if biologically based> New bulbs have been ordered to see, but 2 65w actinics and one 65w 12000k instead of two to make this big a change just seems highly unlikely. <Could be just a coincidence with some other change in progress...> What about the gas from the bulb that cracked? <Nah... not much, and not water soluble... ditto for the coating on the lamp, bit of halogens... Lo dudo> All levels are excellent except there was a minor drop in pH. Again thank you for your input. Mike T <Interesting to speculate... wish there were a few replicates here (identical systems... do you have a microscope? There may be time still to look/see what the micro- flora and fauna make up are... Bob Fenner>

Aragonite Sand Turning Green - 12/31/05 Good afternoon, <<Hello>> I have a 75gal setup, Coralife 2X65 power compact lights, 1200 gph Mag pump, protein skimmer, wet-dry filter, and the tank has been set up for about 6 months.  Now I noticed that my sand/substrate  has been turning into a shade of green towards the bottom, near the  glass. <<Tis normal>> The surface of the sand seems nice and but the bottom about 1"  thick is like a green color. <<This is algae growing next to the glass where light can penetrate.>> Is this normal? <<Very much so.>> Should I move the sand around to get the green color out of the sand or should I not worry about it since it might be beneficial bacteria. <<Best to leave it be.>> It doesn't look stringy or anything so I don't think it's algae but I'm not sure. <<It is a form of algae...>> Thanks in  advance. <<You're welcome, EricR>>

Bubbles In Algae - 12/15/2005 Hi folks, <Hello Peter.> I've got what I consider a unique question as I have been surfing through pages and pages of algae FAQ and can not find mention of this. First the background.  I have had a 74 gallon tank set up for almost 2 years now. I have a simple 20 gallon sump and 2 AquaC skimmers. I have never had a real algae problem - only the once every couple of weeks scrape off the front glass variety.  I have always used DI/RO water and feed very sparingly. <Is this water being buffered and aerated?> The tank is a mixed fish/invert tank with an Anemone and Maroon Clown, a Flame Angel, and a Pajama Cardinal plus some Star Polyp, Xenia (sp?), Yellow Polyp, and a Clam.  I have PC lighting 4x65W.  Overall the tank has been low maintenance (as much as a reef tank can be). Recently (in the last couple of months), in my overflow box (Oceanic reef ready tank) I have noticed a slimy purplish micro-algae growing on the glass. <OK> It is only in the overflow which remains about 4/5 full. In the algae mat, there are bubbles forming of some type of gas. The bubbles do not seem to break off but are just suspended in a tear drop shape in the mat. I'm wondering if it is BG variety. <That's where I'd put my money...uh, not my mouth.> My question is this, is the bubble most likely just Oxygen (byproduct of photosynthesis) or could it be H2S? <I'd say the former.> I'd like to siphon out the algae but am worried if it is Hydrogen Sulfide that the gas may dissolve into the water supply. <Manual extraction is your best bet. No worries here...> It doesn't smell like sulphur over the overflow, but as I said, the bubbles don't seem to be breaking loose, so I may not smell it.  Would I be better just leaving it alone? <Better for the BGA if you do. Just siphon it out.> Thanks, Peter <You're welcome. - Josh>

More tips in the battle against algae!  12/14/05 The person with this problem reported that he is losing a 6 month battle. I would suggest he not only read WWM articles but also follow the instructions. I can not say that I got rid of it all but you should not be losing ground after 6 months of attempting to resolve it. I will add a few suggestions. One is that when you clean off the algae from an object you first remove it from the tank, place it into a tub of water and brush it off with a stiff brush. Add some competition directly to your tank in the way of a ball of Chaetomorpha.  It is easy to secure, will not pollute and should help.   And if you have it on the glass try to scrape it off in an upward motion so you can remove it. And if you see lots of it floating around after cleaning then use a net to remove as much as possible. <Thanks for the great tips, Samuel. All are excellent suggestions. -Zo>

Algae Explosion  11/30/05 Gentlemen, thanks for such a wonderful resource!  <<Excuse us, but there are two ladies putting the show on for you folks!  We just like to be remembered (and occasionally played with).  Marina and Sabrina>> <You're welcome>  One question I have is regarding a brownish almost rust colored algae which has taken over my ~6 week old FOWLR setup. The tank is a 90 gallon All-glass with Megaflow and 125 gallon Pro-clear W/D (Mag 7 return pump). The tank contains a couple damsels, clowns, regal & yellow tangs and a Foxface along with approximately 100 lbs of live rock. The LR was a beautiful purple shade when introduced to the tank and know the algae has overcome my sand and LR to a brownish almost rusty look.  Perform normal water changes and checks for Ph, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, etc. with no issues. The W/D filter also contains a sufficient amount of activated carbon in the sump for this size tank. As far as lighting is concerned I have a 260w PC (50/50 Actinic03 & 12000K) which I run full spectrum from around 8:00am to 10:00pm.  What is going on here? I've yet to invest in a protein skimmer, could this be a big part of the problem?  <Jason, lets read here for starters. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm  James (Salty Dog)> 

Algae! - 11/28/2005 Good Morning, <Morning! John here with you today> I have read just about every FAQ on algae control you have on this site and have been following the advice for several weeks now.  55 gallon with Aqua C Remora skimmer, 2 800 Rio powerheads, 304 Fluval filter (only has carbon in it, no filter pads, too much of a pain to clean)  <<Then you should not have carbon or other chemical filtrants in there, biological filtration only.  Also, do try the "quick disconnect" valves so that you are more likely to clean it.  Marina>> 4 95watt 50/50 lights. LR and sand.  Amm .25 Nitrite 0 Nitrates 0 pH 8.0-8.2 temp 80-82 alk 7-8 calcium 450-500.  I change out 5 gallons once a week. I don't add any chemicals.  Recently I had to deal with marine velvet, only had 2 fish at the time and both died. <It looks like you may have wider issues at hand here... although low, ammonia levels in an established tank should be undetectable with hobby test kits. Especially in a tank with no livestock. When treating for velvet, did you medicate your display tank? This could be the result of it.> Within that same time my anemone decided to move and got stuck in the powerhead overnight.  <Yikes! I can't count the number of times I have read of this happening. I trust those powerhead intakes will be well covered for any future anemones?> Needless to say he didn't make it either.  So now the tank is empty except for a CBS, small colony of Zooanthids, Frogspawn and Xenia.  This last week I changed out 8 gallons on Wednesday, then again on Saturday to try and get a handle on the algae. Every morning there is a green/brown film on the glass that reappears within hours of wiping it off. Oh, and I'm using R/O water.  Anything else I can do? Are nutrients sneaking in somewhere that I'm not catching?? Thanks for your help <It is likely just your tank readjusting to the new status quo and possible change in biodiversity. However, with regard to nutrients, you may want to consider testing for phosphates. There are a number of courses of action you could take... I recommend taking all of them ;) -- increased flow (no dead spots), aggressive skimming, continued manual removal, and more, larger water changes (5 gallons weekly is on the low side -- I shoot for at least 20% weekly). Change out the carbon frequently and consider adding phosphate removal media in addition. Creating a more beneficial environment for competing coralline algaes (increase your alkalinity) will also help. Finally, you also didn't mention whether you had any remaining clean-up crew. Snails do wonders on film algae on glass. All these, and time, will serve you well. Good luck! John> 

Bringing Classroom Chemistry Home - 11/26/2005 Hi! <Hello> I am asking this question out of months of frustration. It's the same question that you've been asked time and again about chemistry, but I am hoping that there is a  plan to get through this problem. I have a 60 gal. Reef tank that has been set up for about 18 mo. It started as a FOWLR tank in my wife's class room at that time. Last May I bought 90 lbs of live rock and re-cured it at home for 6 weeks. I then moved the tank from my wife's classroom (too much work there!) and brought it home and added the live rock. I let this balance out for a couple of months before adding anything else with the exception of a cleanup crew.  The tank went through a minor cycling with the move'¦never saw any NH3 or NO2, but the NO3 came up to about 60ppm for a time. Skimming and water changes took care of that. Since, my water has shown <3 for nitrates, nitrites and ammonia. Phosphates are 0 as well. PH is 8..2 to 8.4, calcium is 420 and KH is 10-12. Temperature is 78-80F. <Sounds great so far.> The problem is that when it first cycled, hair algae started and I have not been able to stop it. <Typical for a new tank to go through a few months of algae cycles.> It is getting bad enough to choke out some of the corals that I have added since. I have a BTA and a couple of crocea clams that work as great water quality indicators'¦.  <Not a choice use for them.> They are very healthy. How do I get rid of the hair algae. I have cut the light on time back so far that I lost a Hammer coral. <Hmmm, I bet there was more than the light issue to take out the hammer.> I have added a larger clean up crew. I run a canister filter along with an Aqua remora skimmer. The canister filter is cleaned weekly, and I do 10% water changes weekly'¦yet it grows on! I know that it needs nitrates and light to grow, so why is it continuing? <Definitely a Phosphate or other food source in there.> My makeup water is RO.  I just am adding a DI unit to polish it further. The post RO TDS is about 30-40 ppm. <That is pretty high for RO out-put. You should expect 15ppm.> This seems like a place to start. Are there other components to the seawater that can trigger the growth. I do know that when I have dosed iodine that the algae really took off. <I bet it was Iodine linked with Phosphate.> The lights are relatively new'¦this summer. I have a yellow tang, numerous snails crabs and a few starfish to clean up. With 6 small fish, I only feed about ½ of a frozen food cube a day. That seemed very little at first, but the livestock is all fairing well.  <Be sure to rinse your foods before feeding. The packing juices are full of algae fuel.> Is this algae problem some thing that will die off after a longer period? I don't see how to clean the water any better. I also have 2 Maxiflow powerheads, 1 SEIO 820 powerhead and a Rio 600 powerhead for flow in the tank.  <One trick you can try is to drip lime water (Kalkwasser) as evap. water.  The lime water will precipitate phosphates.> Frustrated in Wyoming - Jon <Travis>

Fighting Algae By "Staying The Course"... 11/3/05 Hello WWM Crew, I hope you can help, <Scott F. here! I'll do my best...> I have a 30 Gallon system - setup as follows; 3 x 25watt Fluorescents ( 1 x Actinic 2 x Daylight), Fluval 104 external filter used for polywool and Polyfilter, Fluval 3 internal filter (backup - running all the time), 2 small powerheads, 1 small air driven counter current protein skimmer, about 20lbs live rock with one giant piece of Tufa rock virtually sticking out of the surface (like a pillar in the centre of the tank) - substrate is crushed coral sand which is approx 0.5" - 1.25" covering. Ph - 8.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 5-10ppm, SG 1.022, Temp 24C constant, Calcium 380ppm, Phosphate 0.5 - 1ppm. As you might imagine with phosphate levels like that, I am in a constant battle with BGA (the red one. Coralline algae is steadily growing on powerheads, heater and rocks and there are at least 4 different types of (macro?) algae growing from various live rocks - one of which I know to be Grape Caulerpa, and one of the others is like a lettuce leaf, but is a brilliant fluorescent orange colour, it looks great.  My tank's inhabitants are -  1 Royal Gramma, 2 small (1") Black Percula Clowns, 1 Cleaner Shrimp, 1 small blue/black Brittle Star, 9 Turbo snails, 5 small hermits (2 blue 3 red). There is a small colony of about 10 yellow zoanthid polyps. They got a slight covering of BGA on their tubes at one point when it got particularly bad and this has stayed on them.  I can't seem to get it off them without fear of damaging them by brushing it off them physically. The phosphates are coming under control slightly as I have started using RO water for 10-20% weekly water changes and am also using Polyfilters constantly (changed out monthly) <Excellent procedure. These efforts will pay off in time, trust me.> I feed sparingly, but it is inevitable that food gets blown around the tank and some of it no doubt goes uneaten. I vacuum the gravel each week and clean the front glass a couple of times a week but the BGA growth still comes back after a few days of a water change. <Just keep doing what you're doing.> My questions for you are; Is there room for 1 small blue damsel in this setup? <From a "size" standpoint, yes. But I would hesitate because of the potential for aggressiveness. Rather, I'd look at another small fish, such as a Goby or Blenny, which is more "socially acceptable"> How can I clean the BGA off the polyps without harming them? <You'd really have to use a gentle rubbing motion with your fingers...Even then, the potential for damage exists.> Is the brittle star a threat to any of the inhabitants? <Unlikely, IMO, although this is a generalization. There are some species that can be potentially harmful to fishes.> Why are my phosphates so high?? <I'm suspecting that there are phosphates bound up in the substrate and in the Tufa rock. Food contains a high amount of phosphate; particularly the packing juices from frozen foods. be sure to rinse frozen food carefully before use and feed sparingly.> Could you recommend a hardy photosynthetic invertebrate that I could add to this system (bearing in mind the lighting)? (anemone, coral etc?) <I'd be inclined to try hardy corallimorphs-"Mushroom Corals".> Any help or advice you can offer will be appreciated, Thanks for your dedication to this hobby, I have read Bob's book (The Conscientious Marine Aquarist) and it made great reading, I would recommend this book to anyone thinking of starting a marine tank. Leif. <I'm sure that Bob appreciates that! It IS a great book for any hobbyist! Hang in there; stay the course, and I'm sure you'll be talking about your algae problems in the past tense soon! Regards, Scott F.> 

Loss of Livestock = Nutrients = Nuisance Algae (Marine Algae Control) - 10/24/05 This question may have already been asked, but I cannot find it in your archives.  <Ok, I'll do my best to help you out.>  The simple question is: what can I get to do the job of inverts (snails, crabs, sand-sifting stars) without incorporating them into my new mean, nasty tank? <In an aggressive tank, the clean up responsibility usually falls on the owner. A strict regime of siphoning the gravel and water changes is recommended.> History which you can overlook: My FOWLR (90 gal with overflow, 120# live rock, 60# live sand, protein skimmer, UV sterilizer, Adult Emperor Angel but only 4 in, Med Gold-striped clown, sand-sifting star x 2... <These usually starve to death in all but the largest tanks, and they sterilize your sand bed.>  Med Yellow Tang, Med Chevron Tang, 30 snails, 10 blue-legged crabs) was happy-go-lucky until I added a peaceful, docile little Niger Trigger. He was so pretty with a beautiful shape, and a good addition to my tank without the characteristics of the typical triggers . . or so I thought.  <Unfortunately this tank is overstocked as it is. Very heavy bio-load, you will have to trade-in the current specimens or upgrade eventually. I would encourage 20% to25% water changes weekly at the least.>  Now my previously somewhat bossy Emperor is extremely nasty, the gold-striped maroon clown is very territorial, etc. <Not surprising.> They killed a Yellow Tang within 24 hours, stupidly I added a second one month later but it has earned a place in the tank of evil. I was told a Chevron tang would eat the algae and not be killed, but it has not done much to the algae in 2 weeks since I added him. <Are you quarantining these fish or adding them directly?> The whole tank is very mean now. Most importantly, I see snail shell upon snail shell in the bottom of my tank. Both stars are dead.  <These stars do not fare well in captivity for the most part as mentioned above, accompany that with triggers and high nutrient levels and it's a quick recipe to demise.>  I thought high nitrates were killing them.  <Definitely a factor.>  Religious water changes (50% times three weekly sessions) has gotten my nitrates down  <How far down should be less than 20 ppm. And it will be very hard to maintain that level with so many fish in the tank.> but the algae continues to flourish despite new snails and crabs. I have discovered that the trigger is killing the snails. Yes, I know I should have known that. So now back to my question: What can do the job of snails that the Trigger won't kill?  <I would not add any more animals to this tank whether it be inverts or fish, the limit has been severely passed already, the algae is likely a nutrient problem but aside from that be sure to have plenty of water flow. And since this is a fish only tank you can cut down on the lighting until the problem subsides, just a few hours a day.>  The Tangs won't eat the algae, Blennies would be killed by the Emperor, clown trigger, or tangs.  Is my only option chemical agents to reduce the phosphates? <<What phosphates?  No testing mentioned, no results, nada for Adam - or anyone else - to go on here!  MH>> <No I wouldn't use chemicals yet, most chemicals fix the symptom and not the problem. Look into refugiums as well as possibly removing some of the livestock to allow for easier stability of nutrients.> John Michael Woodward <Adam J.> 

A "Little" Problem with Algae in Reef System Hello whomever is responding today, <<Hello, TravisM with you tonight.>> I been having a little trouble w/ algae in my aquarium... <<Don't we all.>> The first problem is I can't seem to get my coralline algae to spread. << I bet coral growth has slowed also.>> And the second is a green hair algae and some other green algae growing all over the rocks where ever it can. <<Not a good thing.>> My Aquarium specs are: 15 Gal. Tall 1 - 15W Coralife MarineGlo fluorescent (runs from 9:15am-9:30pm) 2 - 13W 50/50 pc's (running from 10:30am-6:30pm) Eclipse 1 filtration system (120 gal/hr pump w/ carbon filtration and BioWheel) 1 Rio 200 w/ a hydor flo deverter <<Surmising "Hydro-flow diverter.>> 2-3" LS bed 18Lbs. LR 2 Reef Hermits 1 Left handed Hermit 2 Margarita snails 1 Rainford's Goby pH 8.2 Ca 450ppm NH3/NH4 0 NO2 0.05 NO3 0  Alk (off the charts) I realized my Tap water is horrible... so for about 2 months now I have been changing 25 Gal every week w/ Catalina water bought at my LFS  Temp 80 F <<I suggest getting a phosphate kit and my bet is you will find a pretty high reading and a cause for your hair algae. Tap water should never be used in an aquarium (especially marine), due to the exact problems you are finding. I am actually very surprised at your 0 NO3 reading since you are using tap water. <<Please note, you may not always get a high reading on the phosphate in a system with prolific algal growth, as algae can "fix" it (holds within its tissues), leaving you with a zero test reading and an itchy scalp.  MH>> It is always best to start with RO/DI water and add the chemicals necessary back to the water so you know what you are adding to your tank.  My second suggestion is to do a large volume water change. This will require aerating, buffering, and heating the new water to match your tank. This is the only way you will get your tank chemistry back under control. With extremely high calcium and Alk you are lucky you have not had the calcium precipitate on you yet. Get your water changed and back in balance and I promise your coralline will begin spreading and your hair algae issue will resolve on its own.>> <<Large = 75%-100%  More than one may be necessary. MH>> I have put any additives in for about 2-3 months now, only bacteria cultures (NitroMax).  Any suggestions would be most helpful.  Thank You again, Don <<TravisM>> 

Algae Troubles, cont'd - 10/21/2005 Hey Crew, <Hello again Clare> In my 75 gallon tank, there has been an outbreak of a rusty colored algae, it is not long, more like a carpet of rust covering my LR, the tanks is about a month and a half old and this is my first problem.<Likely not the last.> In the tank I have 2 ocellaris Clowns, a Twinspot Goby, A Neon Goby, and 3 Green Chromis, they are all doing great and so are my water parameters: pH: 8.3  Nitrate: 10 Nitrite: 0 Ammonia: 0 Calcium: 350 - 400 Salinity: 1.025 Temp: 78- 82 (fluctuates during the day and night) My main question is how do I get rid of this "nuisance" algae? Or is there any creatures that could do the dirty work? <This link will help. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brownalgcontfaqs.htm > Also I have a question regarding my protein skimmer, it is a Seaworld Systems model, but in the month and a half I have had the tank set up, I have never had to collect and skimmate out of the cup, as stated before, params' are fine, and I have the skimmer adjustment valve set as high as it can go, any comments or suggestions to do with my skimmer? <Not familiar with these, but could be part of the problem.> P.S.  I do 12 - 20 Gallon Water Changes bi monthly. Thanks, Clare  <Welcome. - Josh>

Frustrated with algae 10/18/05 Hello everyone, My eight month old 55 gallon seems to have a brown algae problem. The stuff only seems to grow on the sand & glass. All of the rock shows no signs. There are no detectable Nitrates or Phosphates. Here are the things I have tried to eliminate it. - changed out all filters in RO/DI (0 TDS) - boosted alkalinity - drip Kalkwasser at night - numerous water changes (use Tropic Marin for salt mix) - refugium with Chaeto - cut back amount of feeding - increased flow (2 MaxiJet 1200's) The only other thing I can think of is that it's time to replace the bulbs (SunPaq PC's). Could this really be the reason? Thanks.  Tyler  <Tyler, you omitted one of the most important factors...What is your fish load? In a 55, you really shouldn't have more than 11 cubic inches of fish (not length). Example being a four inch puffer will have much more bulk than a four inch wrasse. I know its impossible to figure accurately, but if you exceed that it should be very apparent. Also read here if you haven't. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm. As far as lighting, bulbs should be changed every 10/12 months. The type of bulbs you are using shouldn't cause undo nuisance algae growth. I'm guessing they are 50/50 tubes, possibly one actinic, one 50/50. James (Salty Dog)>

Lobophora variegata control  9/28/05 Hi Bob: Lobophora variegata slowly but surely getting out of hand in my 90 gal- one year old reef. I am surprised that I cannot find much info on how to control it or better yet, eradicate it.  Very little info, including on WWM.  I read some comments on the addition of urchins but nothing concrete.  Can you make any specific suggestion?  Manual removal has been nearly impossible. Thanks. Paul M <Manual removal is the preferred route to go... look into some long tongs, scissors, siphon... Bob Fenner>

Re: Lobophora variegata predators  9/29/05 Bob: Since we don't use tongs and siphons on the ocean reefs to keep this stuff in check, <Nor glass boxes...> I assume there must be a more natural predator. Any other thoughts? <I really like the futo maki at Kamigaki market down towards Kealakekua Bay... wish we were going by there on our way to Two-Step to go diving... before they're all sold out... about noon.> Thanks again. Paul <Mmm, a few tangs, rabbitfishes... Here's the bit on Google: http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2004-43,GGLD:en&q=predators+of+lobophora Bob Fenner>

Questions Re stocking & Brown Algae...  9/24/05 Hi Everyone! <Hello Dan!> Background : I have a 40gal (39.5x15x16) tank. Been up and running since Feb. Contents and parameters are as follows: 28kg live rock Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate <12.5 (tetra test?) Ph 8.2 Alk 8.1dKh Temp 79 - 83F 150w MH (Aqualine 10,000k) 2 x Maxijet1200 1 x Maxijet 900 1 x Maxijet 600 1 x Rio 180 filter pump doing mechanical and carbon filtration only. <Be sure to clean the media on this often (at least a few times a week).  Maybe try a Polyfilter as well.> Deltec MCE600 Skimmer With Nophos bag 1 Phytoreactor (not actually attached to the tank) 5gal water changes done every 2 weeks Kalkwasser top ups at all times <I don't see any calcium measurement above> 2 Maroon Clowns (mated pair about fully grown. She is 5inch?) 1 Yellow Tang <I'm sure you've seen it here before, but, this tank is entirely to small for your Tang> 1 Cleaner wrasse (light/dark blue striped) <I'm afraid this fish is on the boycott list, and is not suited for captivity> 2 small mushroom corals 3 Candy coral frags 1 Goniopora 1 Scallop 1 Red algae frag (not sure of the type) 1 Koko Worm 1 Feather duster Question, is am I overstocked? If so how bad? <I would say more like inappropriately> Also for the last 2 months I've been having the most awful brown slime plague. It is stringy and slimy and grows VERY fast. Since it started I've added the 2 smaller MaxiJets to add flow, replaced my prism skimmer with the Deltec, added the no phos and reduced feeding. All these researched on your wonderful site. But my algae still comes... I can siphon it off at night and next day it is back... I'd appreciate your thoughts... Regards, Dan <I would research BGA, dinoflagellates and diatoms on this site.  See if you can find out your ORP and check that you are getting a good surface agitation.  Maybe try weekly water changes at half your bi-weekly schedule.  Could also try raising pH and alk. slowly to try and outcompete this.  Good luck on this one - Josh> Algae problem  9/22/05 I would first like to thank you for this wonderful resource; it has helped me many times. First I will tell you about my setup. I have a 55 gallon Reef tank with about 60 pounds of live rock. I have a 240 watt Coralife power compact which is on for 9 hours per day. There is a Aquaclear 300 canister filter with foam, Chemi-pure and phos-ban media which is replace every 3 weeks. I have two Maxijet 600 powerheads (170gph) and two Maxijet 400 powerheads(100 gph), all placed opposite each other. I run a CPR BakPak skimmer which I clean the collection cup every 3 days. It is currently producing about one cup of greenish liquid every week or so. It is not a dark green like you describe on may FAQs. I have a 2'' sand bottom and I use R/O water that I purchase from my LFS. My inhabitants are: 1 small maroon clown (1.5 inches) w/ rose bubble anemone 1 yellow clown goby (< 1 inch) 1 sixline wrasse (1 inch) 2 firefish (1.5 inches each) 1 Sailfin Tang (2 inches) 1 Porcelain Crab 1 Cleaner shrimp 20 hermits 5 astrea snails 1 sea cucumber My corals include 1 hammer coral 1 frogspawn 1 torch coral 1 large bubble 1 brain coral 1 trumpet coral Assorted mushroom corals Sorry for the long introduction. :) Now my problem is green hair algae and Cyano. I perform a 10-15% water change weekly and I am very meticulous. I scrub the algae off of every rock with a toothbrush, clean the glass, clean all powerheads, filters and thoroughly clean the skimmer each week. I siphon out the Cyano which blankets almost my entire substrate each week and like I mentioned earlier change about 10-15% of water with R/O. My tests are as follows S.G.: 1.024 pH: 8. temp: 78 at night 80-81 midday amm: 0 nitrite: 0 nitrate: 0 phos: undetectable (which confuses me) Ca: 450ppm I don't add any supplements to the water and I feed twice a day and very carefully. Every flake I put in is consumed, I promise :). After this maintenance, the tank looks great, but literally in 3 days the algae returns and in one week it has taken over again. It grows on the rocks, but not as much as the sand which is almost entirely covered. My LFS is stumped and they say I am doing everything correctly. I have recently started using a product called marine SAT and have noticed an improvement in the hair algae, but the Cyano seems to be getting worse. Is there anything you could suggest, maybe a refugium??? PLEASE HELP this algae is taking over my beautiful tank, and the water changes take me 2 or 3 hours a week. Yikes. P.S. all fish and corals are doing great, in fact corals are looking better than they ever have. Thank you so much for your time. <Ryan, might I first suggest searching the WWM, keyword "algae control".  I think you will find the help you need. On your non reading of phosphate levels...Phosphates are normally at very low levels in a normal system and they are also quickly absorbed by algae.  In my opinion, if you can read a phosphate level, things aren't going good.>  James (Salty Dog)>

Suspended algae  9/22/05 I have a 100 g reef tank that I started a few  months ago (about 6) about a week ago I started to notice suspended algae  in the tank.  Sort of looks like phytoplankton.  Please tell  me that there is a way to rid my tank of it.  The tank was my Mother's and  it is set up exactly how she had it and she NEVER had a problem.  I did a  50% water change two days ago and it cleared some of it up but it is back and it  is just as bad as two days ago.  I have limited the amount of light and I  have not used any nutrient supplements in the tank in about a week.  My  filter feeders seem to be loving it though.  Please help.   it is about  this color...<I wouldn't use any nutrient supplements at all.  Cyclop-eeze has a few different foods for feeding filter feeders without algae explosions which is what you have.  For starters I would suggest getting a protein skimmer since you don't mention use of one.  This is one of the best things you can do to remove excess dissolved nutrients.  Just be sure to get an efficient one.  If your budget limits you, go with a CPR BakPak.  James (Salty Dog)> Ashley

Algae fight 9/22/05 Hi WWM Crew How Is Everything <Smooth sailing here, Adam J with you.> well here's my questions What is the best way to combat algae growing on the glass of my tank, <Well your always going to have some algae growth, (especially on the glass) but if its in excess there are a few issues to address. In fighting algae I believe there are three key factors you have to deal with (lighting, water flow, and nutrient export) As far as lighting there is no way around that, you have to have it, especially in a reef tank, but the algae does seem to flourish under a 'dying bulb' so make sure to change your bulb within the recommended time frame.  The next is water flow, nuisance algae grows pretty well in 'stagnant' areas so you'll want to make sure you have lots of flow in your system, I recommend x10 turnover at the least with x15-20 being even better. As far as nutrient exports there are a few ways to go about it, water-changes, an efficient skimmer, and refugiums don't hurt either.> And what would be the best fish or inverts to help combat the algae. <As far as fish (if you have the room) I like the bi-color blenny (Ecsenius bicolor), they are efficient little herbivores. And as for inverts I really like the Trochus Snail (Trochus Sp.).  Of course I really prefer the 'manual' algae prevention I talked about above this, to the 'biological.'> Thanks In Advanced <Anytime, Adam J.>

Vacation Blues (Returning To An Algae Problem)  9/5/05 Hi everyone, <Hello there! Scott F. here today!> I am a long time listener and first time caller.  First, thanks for the great resource! <Glad that you enjoy it! We certainly enjoy bringing it to you!> I have a question regarding Star Polyps, Frogspawn Coral and my sump/refugium setup. I was away from the tank for a few days on a business trip and had a friend take care of the tank. I know, big mistake. They did ok, but I think they over fed the fish due to what I found when I tested the water and the fact that my dog face puffer in my other FOWLR tank now looks like a fat baby harp seal. <Yikes!> I noticed brown algae in my reef tank and checked my water parameters. Here is what I had pH 8.4 Nitrite 0 nitrate 10 ppm Ammonia 0 salinity 1.023 temp 81 F.   This is in a 75 gal reef tank with 95lbs of live rock 5 inch sand bed along with a 30 gal Sump/Refugium with an additional 15lbs of live rock and 3 inch sand bed growing Chaetomorpha algae. Ok, now where to start with the questions. I needed to knock down the nitrate level so I completed two 15 gal water changes one on Sat and one Wednesday and added 2 8oz bags of Chemipure to the return baffle on the sump/refugium. My Nitrate is now down to 0.   <A surprisingly quick drop in the nitrate level! Remember, your continued good husbandry will help keep it at undetectable levels.> I should also add that I ended up changing my lights from a Jebo quad 65 watt 10k and 03 actinic power compact and Orbit quad 65 watt 10k and 03 actinic power compact to an Outer Orbit dual 130 watt actinic with dual 10k 150 watt HQI. The reason for the change was the Jebo died on Sunday, I did not like the looks of having two sets of lights on the tank and I figured from reading on your site that the HQI 10k lighting would be better or the coral, especially the Frogspawn, in the long run. I have started with 3 hours of light from the HQIs and am working up to 10 hours slowly. <Good...slow acclimation is best for any new lighting system.> However, my Frogspawn and Star Polyp have closed up. I am thinking that the brown algae bloom is from the over feeding. <A distinct possibility.> The algae is on the star polyp.  Any idea on what I can do to get then back out? <Well, it's hard to say. The fact that they are closed up indicates that something is not to their liking. I don't think that it's just the algae on their tissue that is the problem. It can be a number of things. At this point, I suspect that it could be a reaction to the stress of acclimating to a new lighting regimen. Given time and continuity in your lighting, they should be able to make the adaptation.> Or is it just a matter of time before they return to normal.  I have read that the carbon addition, the nitrate and the lights could all be the culprit. <I would suspect the lights, first. Nitrate, in and of itself is not a coral killer. It is, however, a good "yardstick" for measuring overall water quality, so keep an eye on it.> I have added a second set of 18watt 6700k lights to the sump after reading on your site that the 6700k works better than the 10k lights. <A generality, of course- it really depends on the animals the lighting is intended to serve.> I also switched my original set back to the 6700k. I have the sump lights on 24/7 in hopes of getting the Chaeto algae to take off and help with the brown algae.  Should this work am I doing this right? <You could, but I prefer a regular day/night cycle, run opposite of the display tank's lighting.> Also I was thinking of adding another 3 inches of sand to the existing 3 inches in the sump to help with de-nitrification, thoughts on this? <You could. Sandbeds do require some consideration before use, so do read up on them on WWM and throughout the internet.> Thanks in advance, Jeff <MY pleasure, Jeff! Hope that things continue to improve on your reef...Just hang in there and keep doing what you're doing! Regards, Scott F.>

Algae Out of Control 8/13/05 Hey there, how are ya? <Fine, thanks> Need some help/advice.  I've had my 90gal community salt tank for 3 years now.  In the past year, I've had a bit of an algae problem; however, in the past two months it's gotten out of control. I have 95lbs live rock, about 3inches of live sand, keep my tank around 25oc, salinity at 1.0025. The algae can best be described as burgundy/purple in color. It's felt like in appearance, and covers a lot of my liverock. It's like velvet purple carpet!  It easily flakes off in chunks.  It looks awful.  As well, in the past two weeks... I've noticed some green ghastly spots on my live rock.  Kinda looks like a alien/snotty/lime green about the size of a dime. <Yeah... very likely a BGA... aka Cyanobacteria> Biggest concern is the out of control purple carpet like algae.  I can't think of anything that has spurred this growth? <I can>   About 6 weeks ago, I removed my live rock one by one and took a toothbrush to the liverock, gently scrubbing the stuff off in a tub. <Lots of work!> I didn't do this in the tank.  When I was done, I had cleaned off any noticeable purple felt carpet algae off the rocks and had cleaned up the sand from the flaked off algae.  Now, it seems like it's grown back three times worse.  Advice? <Lots>    I was thinking of putting my liverock in my quarantine tank and raising the temp to 30oc to kill whatever it was off?  Advisable?? <Nope>   Would this algae be present in the water without rock to live off of?  Advice?? Thanks, Dave <Mmm, read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and the linked files above, where you lead yourself... likely the route of nutrient control is where you want to head... better skimming, avoiding phosphate in your source water... use of a DSB, refugium, purposeful macroalgae culture... You'll soon see. Bob Fenner>
Re: Algae Out of Control 8/14/05
Thanks for the note. <Welcome> Further, I use a canister filter... don't have/can't afford putting in a sump.  What is a DSB?   <... please learn to/use the search tool on WWM... this is an acronym for Deep Sand Bed...> How can I avoid phosphates in source water? <... this is also covered, over and over on WWM> I am using tap water but then adding a 'chemical' to neutralize it during water changes ~ suggested to me by Big Al's. <Good> In reading that article you suggested... my 90gal tank is about 2 feet wide and deep by about 4 ft long.  I am using a "50% Natural Daylight 600K / 50% Actinic 03 Blue" light.  360o output, 48 inch, 40 watt fluorescent.  I can't afford expensive lighting...  Should I be using a higher watt bulb? <For what?> The lighting does look a lot dimmer than the non-50/50 light I had before.  Should I try to increase the wattage? <For?> Note, I did have a bit of this problem before with the brighter lighting. I do have a protein skimmer and have been using activated carbons in my filtering.  I do only have two powerheads. I'm thinking my steps are:  maybe add one or two more powerheads, increase wattage on lighting, and watch the feeding?  Do u think some more hermit crabs would take care of this? <No> I only have about 5 or 6. Last note, my algae is burgundy/purple... not really blue green.  Do you figure it is likely the same algae problem? <... read... Bob Fenner>

Brown Algae Growth 8/9/05 I have a 54 gallon corner tank (curved glass front). I cycled the tank with 50 lbs of live rock. It is a FOWLR system with 1 cleaner shrimp, 3 small green Chromis, 4 small eel gobies and 1 small maroon clown fish. The tank is 6 weeks old. I do a 3 gallon water change once a week. I use well water and instant ocean salt. My ph is 8.1, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 10 nitrate, 2.0 phosphate <Yikes... too much> and 380 calcium. I just added a Current USA Orbit power compact (65w dual 10000K/ 6500 K full spectrum with a 65w dual actinic fluorescent bulbs) to help coralline algae growth. I have run the lights 12 hrs a day for the past week. In the past 2 days brown algae has covered the glass (minimally) and rock (extensively). <Very typical... given your system newness, make-up...> The rock had very little brown growth this morning and has doubled in less then 24 hrs. This brown growth is now beginning to coat the substrate. The substrate used is crushed Florida coral aragonite which I added 1 week ago. Does brown algae really *grow this fast* or could this be something else. <Does grow this quickly> The rock was clean up until this point in time and only took 2 days to get bad... as far as I can tell.  I feel the tank has a low phosphate level. <Uh, no... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/po4faqs.htm> What could be causing this? <Your well-water, lack of competitors, predators... circumstances> algae bloom to occur so quickly if not the phosphate? I have a AquaC Urchin in sump Protein skimmer with a 1200 maxi pump that I am placing in the system this evening. <This will definitely help> I also use an AMiracle wet/dry filter with a Rio 1700 in the sump. <I'd be reading re modification of this filter... on WWM... learn to/use the indices...> The tank uses 2 power heads: 1 Maxi 900 power head in the tank as well as a Power Sweep which moves 230 and 160 gallons per hr. respectively. Thanks. Sincerely, Wayne <... and the many articles on algae, control... Bob Fenner>

Knocking Out Nuisance Algae! 8/3/05 Hi, I hope that you guys can help me! <I will certainly try! Scott F. at the keyboard tonight!> I am currently in mortal battle with an algae problem that is driving me crazy. First, the tank and setup: 40 gallon tank 40 gallon "package" from TBS (80 pounds LR, 40 pounds LS) CPR Bak-Pak 2 skimmer 96 W 10K PC, 2 X 96W 50/50 PC IO salt and I use distilled water for the mix 4 X Azure Damsels, 1 X Percula Clown, 1 X Lawnmower Blenny Lots of Astrea snails, Bluelegged Hermit Crabs, 1 Coral Banded shrimp. Open Brain coral, Ricordea Mushroom, Branching Hammer Coral, Devils Hand Coral and tons of clams, sponges etc that came on the rock. <Sounds like a neat mix of animals, but I would recommend "specializing" in one group of corals or another; LPS or soft corals. The possible long-term chemical interactions between the different groups of corals is problematic. The Devil's Hand is a notoriously toxic coral to other corals.> Tank has been running problem free for 10 months and is normally absolutely beautiful! <Cool!> Latest tank parameters: Temp: 79 SG: 1.024 Nitrate: 0 Nitrite: 0 Ammonia: 0 Phosphate: 2.0 ppm <Hmm.. phosphate is a bit high, huh?> I came back after a week vacation to a tank so choked with brown algae that you couldn't even tell the lights were on. I cleaned the tank and changed 15 gallons of water. The algae returned over night. Since then I have been changing 15 gallons of water at a time and using a toothbrush to scrub the algae off the rocks. The algae is mostly brownish green and comes off the rocks very easily. In fact, most can be siphoned without scrubbing. I have added carbon to the skimmer chamber and Phos-Guard. This has been going on for about a week and a half now and I have changed a total of about 105 gallons of water in that time. The brown algae returns overnight. <Hmm...sounds like a pretty common, relatively easily solved, but altogether annoying problem! Could be a combination of algae, any of which can be controlled with nutrient export mechanisms, a few tweaks, and lots of patience. As you discovered, the scrubbing and large water change are sort of temporary "band aids" for the problem. First thing to do is investigate your source water. Distilled might be good, but it may contain silicates, phosphates, even dissolved metals in some cases. Do run a phosphate and silicate test on the source water to see if this is a contributing factor. Personally, I'd consider an investment in a quality RO/DI unit, preferably one with an additional high-silicate-removal capability. This will eliminate one possible cause- source water.> I believe an increase in PO4 levels and a high temperature fueled the algae bloom. <I would agree with that!> I keep my tanks in my classroom and the district turns off the AC during the summer months (I'm in north Texas!!) and the tank temp rose to around 86-87 degrees. <Yikes!> I was able to get my ac controller reprogrammed last week to keep my ac on 24/7 and this has dropped the tank temp back to my normal range of 78-79 degrees. <Good for your tank, bad for the school district! LOL> I am hoping that constant scrubbing of the rocks, reduced feeding and water changes will bring the problem under control.   <Consistent, "normal" temperatures will make a big difference, for sure. However, consistent husbandry, such as regular small water changes (like 10% weekly...even two 5% water changes per week with quality source water), very careful feeding (don't allow packing juices from frozen foods to get in the tank, and don't overfeed dry foods), consistent use of chemical filtration media (activated carbon and/or PolyFilter), and overall diligence on all tank maintenance matters will give you the edge.> Everything in the tank seems to be fine. All the fish are healthy, eating and appear happy. Everything seems good, except the algae problem!! <Actually, that's the good news in all of this!> It does seem after a week and a half to two weeks of constant scrubbing and water changes that the amount of algae appearing overnight is diminishing.  However, it is distressing to completely clean the tank and leave a sparkly, shiny, beautiful tank and return the next day to an ugly tank covered in algae!! <I certainly can understand that!> Is there anything else I can do? Thank you, David Culp <Well, David- as above, there are a few minor tweaks that you can employ to help eliminate or reduce this nasty scourge. You also might want to make sure that your protein skimmer is regularly producing skimmate, which is another good way to export nutrients. Remain diligent, optimistic, and calm...you will DEFINITELY lick this problem! Look at it this way- the algae have a several billion year head start in figuring out how to cling to life, so it's just fine if it takes you a few weeks to beat 'em down! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>
Knocking Out Nuisance Algae (Cont'd.) 8/4/05
Thank you greatly for your quick and thoughtful answers.  Wet Web Media is simply one of the best if not the best sources for fish information.  There is probably more good fish keeping information on your website than anywhere else in the world.  The service you guys do is absolutely the best and I thank you! <Thank you for the kind words and support. We're thrilled to be here for you!> I went in today and there was definitely less algae buildup overnight than usual.  It was mostly on the sand and not on the rocks this time.  I tested the distilled water I buy for phosphates and it came out 0.  Current tank PO4 levels are below 0.25 now and the tank temperature is holding steady at 25C.  I took one side of the tank apart and scrubbed the rocks really well and re-aquascaped, I will do the other side tomorrow. I also tested some of the "juice" from some of my frozen food.  I placed a couple of drops in the testing tube with distilled water and tested the resulting mixture.  My testing kit measures in shades of blue.  This mixture turned black!  I think I determined the source of the excess PO4! <Yep! One of the leading causes of excessive phosphates in closed systems is the packing juices from frozen foods! You nailed it!> It turns out ( I learned today) that earlier in the summer the cleaning crew unplugged our science freezer (which they are not supposed to do!) where I keep all my frozen food (Mysis, brine, squid, formula 1 and 2 etc) and left it unplugged in 90+ degree heat for a few days and then plugged it back in, refreezing my food.  I didn't notice anything as didn't know the freezer had been unplugged and the freezer always smells oddly of dead seafood (much to the chagrin of the other teachers!).  So the food sat and rotted for a couple of days and was then refroze - instant PO4!!! <Yep...cryonically-preserved algae bloom on demand!> I am RELIGIOUS in my water changes, I always change 10 gallons every week, week in and week out and my skimmer works great, pulling loads of gunk out of the water. <Excellent...You will definitely beat this thing!> I am very confident I can lick the problem, I think I have turned the corner on it but probably still have a couple of weeks to go. I will take your advice and get a RO/DO unit.  Buying distilled water just gets expensive and I have a 75 gallon FO and 29 gallon FO tank in addition to the 40 gallon reef. <Yep- a worthwhile investment!> Thank you TREMENDOUSLY for your help!! David Culp <MY pleasure! I'm sure your algae bloom will be a thing of the past soon! Regards, Scott F.>  

Yellow algae 7/17/05 Good morning! First off, thanks for your great website. A little background: 75 gallon FOWLR set up about 1 year. Fish: 2 clowns, a blue tang, a yellow clown goby, a Naso tang (I know this fish is probably going to get too big...we didn't realize that before we bought it. The LFS guys said it would be great for our tank... poor researching on my part), <Yes> a scooter blenny, an emerald crab, some hermits and snails.  OK, to my problem...I have this yellow curdy algae-looking stuff growing all over my tank. <Yikes! I guess!> I've attached some pictures. It's on the live rock, tank walls, and even on top of the power head. It isn't on the sand yet though. I can't figure out what it is, and I can't seem to find any pictures of it on the web or anything. <Is likely a "brown" (Phaeophyte), though could be a Cyanophyte...> Mechanically removing it from the walls is easy, except it grows right back! The tangs aren't really interested in eating it. In fact, the Naso tang is really picky and only wants to eat Tang Heaven (any suggestions here are welcome also!). <Posted... on Naso, Feeding FAQs...> Thanks for your time. I've won battles with Cyano before, but just don't know the best way to deal with this. Tait <... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm ... and the linked files above... where you'll lead yourself... till you understand well enough to formulate a plan of control. Bob Fenner>

Major Water Change??? Actually algae control, gaining sufficient knowledge 7/14/05 Hello <Hi there> First and foremost, thank you for hosting such and excellent site, very informative.  I have an issue regarding green water in my saltwater aquarium.  I had this issue once before and my local pet store determined that my water was fine, but, I was not supplying my live rock with a calcium buffer.  I purchased the Kent Marine Tech CB Buffers and the green water went away within two weeks.  Here are the specifics on my tank setup: 29 Gallon Saltwater Tank 1 X 65W 10,000K Daylight & 460nm Actinic w/ Lunar Light Powercompact Remora Aqua C skimmer 2 - Penguin 550 Powerheads at opposing corners 30lbs of Live Rock pH 8.4 ammonia = 0 nitrites = 0 nitrates = 0 alkalinity = normal (no numbers on the test strip) calcium = 420ppm When the water went green this last time I had a Prizm Skimmer in service, that got replaced by the Remora after reading your opinion on the Prizm. Also, I had only one powerhead before reading your website.  Plus I have made weekly 20% water changes.  The water has cleared some but you can hardly make out the live rock, yes, it's that bad.  The residents of the tank are a yellow watchman goby, lawnmower blenny, flame hawkfish, fire clownfish, sea cucumber, 8 hermit crabs, 4 turbo grazers and an anemone.   Before reading your site, I had made the error of resting a piece of live rock against the glass.  I understand now that this is affecting circulation throughout the tank.  My problem is, since I can't see into the tank clearly enough, I don't want to move around the live rock.  My question is, do I proceed with a major water change, i.e. 50% so that I can at least do that? <Unless there was some compelling reason, I would not (ever) change more than 25% of the water in an established system. Much more likelihood of trouble...> Thank you for your help John Fey <John... please read here re Algae Control: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the linked files above... till you formulate a plan of action here... I would check for phosphate, perhaps employ a chemical filtrant... consider adding a sump/refugium, biological control means... Bob Fenner>

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

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