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FAQs on Algal Filtration 1

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Related FAQs: Algal Filtration 2, FAQs on: Algal Filtration Rationale/Science, Algal Filter Design, Algal Filtration Lighting, Algal Filter Install, Algal Filter Operation/Maintenance, Algae Filters as Food Sources, Algal Turf Scrubbers (ATS) Filters, Algal Filter Troubles/Fixes, & Mud/Algal Filtration, Refugium Substrates/DSBs, Reef Set-Up, Reef Set-Up 2, Reef Set-Up 3, Reef Set-Up 4, Reef Set-Up 5, Reef Maintenance, Sumps/Filters, Sumps/Filters 2, Marine System PlumbingMarine Aquarium Set-UpLive RockLive Sand, Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large SystemsBest Marine Set-Up FAQs 1, Best FAQs 2, Marine Set-Up 1

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Chaetomorpha Quandary...To Tumble Or Not? Hi there WWM crew <Hey! Scott F. here today!> Need help with getting enough water flow thru my refugium to get my Chaetomorpha algae tumbling. I have a 20 gallon tank that I have separated into 3 chambers by gluing Plexiglas walls inside of. The first chamber which houses items such heaters and carbon or anything else I may need to use, gets the water flowed into it via an overflow box from my 55 gallon main tank. It then goes thru a baffle to cut down on bubbles and into my 2nd chamber that acts as a refugium. <A neat DIY approach! Awesome!> It currently has a 2 to 2.5 inch sand bed which I plan to increase to at least 4 or 5 this weekend, and just got hold of a clump of Chaetomorpha about the size of a fist. My problem is water flow. From my understanding and readings from this site, Chaeto needs to tumble around in order to grow. <I have my own feelings on this topic. I am a big fan/user of Chaetomorpha, and I have never kept it in an area with lots of tumbling motion. I've had so much success with this macroalgae that I had to give it away!  The key, in my opinion, is to give it enough water movement to keep algae and detritus from lodging in it and interfering with its growth, as well as decent lighting. Gracilaria, on the other hand (my other favorite macroalgae), is one that you do need to "tumble".> This is where my problem comes into play. The only water flow that I have in the sump/refugium is whatever is created naturally, which doesn't budge the Chaeto. I've tried adding a MaxiJet powerhead but the unit I have, 1200 is way too powerful. It gets the algae tumbling but also causes a sandstorm. <Yep- a problem that is more annoying, IMO!> I was wondering if perhaps something like the Mini jet model of the powerhead, which reads a 13 to 104 gph rate would be sufficient to get the Chaeto tumbling and not cause a tsunami in my little refugium? And can the Chaeto survive long if not tumbling? <As above, I'd try it without taking these measures first. If you are finding that debris is polluting the algae, or nuisance algae is fouling it, then you may need to try one of these options, just to get some movement in there. even then, I don't think that tumbling is a guarantee of success. However, as a macroalgae geek, I love the fact that you are thinking to go to so much effort to keep it happy!> I can't get out to the LFS till Saturday due to work to get whatever I need to help my problem. I am restricted on space and therefore decided on a sump/refugium combo. The refugium area is aprox. 12 inches in length x 12 inches in width (small I know but better than nothing). I plan to use the refugium as a way to help nutrient reduction along with the 5inch DSB I have in my main tank and some critter production as well. <Relax. Things sound fine!> Also a question on the lighting needs for a 'fuge this small. What size light would work well in this case? At the moment, I have a 13 watt fluorescent over the fuge lighting it on an opposite schedule from my main tank. Is this sufficient or do I need more? <Well, you could always go for more, but if the proximity of the light to the algae is low, then you could see how it goes for a while. Perhaps a higher wattage compact fluorescent (like 28 watts or so) would be better "bang for the buck".> Thank you all in advance for any solutions to my problem you can offer. This is the most informative and helpful site I've come across to date, so much so that my head feels like its going to explode from all the knowledge gained and still gaining from your site !! <Yea- my head exploded quite a while ago, so I wear a lot of caps! seriously, thanks much for the kind words. It's our pleasure to be here for you!> Have a great weekend all !! <You too! Regards, Scott F.>

Disease control, role of environment, danger of generalizations and "what's a refugium"? Bob: Am being told:" Disease in a natural environment is rare, especially when an algae/refugium is used as algae produce a ton of elements that aid in fish disease immunity." <Mmm, not to be too much of a stickler... but diseases occur less frequently and are more mild with such systems employed... but I wouldn't use the term "rare"... in point of fact, many algal scrubbing systems are quite prone to water quality problems...> What is such a refugium and how do you build or acquire if you agree with this opinion as expressed by Euro-Reef Customer support when inquiring about Ich control with one of their skimmers and live rock or sand?  <Mmm, please take the long read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the linked FAQs (blue files above)> Thanks Again for your considered and knowledgeable advice. Sincerely, Stephen Pace <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sump/Filter Design Hi Guys, I'll clarify my previous post. If I use the Caulerpa/refugium set-up, I would use this as my sump. It would be located underneath the main tank. The compartment I was talking about for my return pump, is actually the last part of the sump separated from the compartment holding the Caulerpa. This is the reason why I question my idea. Would this be too much flow for the Caulerpa to be effective. <Maybe... it would be better to either place the Macrophyte/s in a separate "refugium" type sump with much more limited flow, or to build in a "bypass" or separate low-flow area for the Caulerpa in the present sump design> The reason I was thinking of not using a skimmer was the benefit of not skimming (coralline algae spores, less heat, plankton, etc), and the skimmer would out compete the Caulerpa. As far as the noxious compounds go, I thought that the 24hr light cycle is supposed to keep those compounds from forming. Thanks again for the help. Mike <The 24 light regimen does indeed do this. I am a fan of using at least "partial skimming"... either alternating time (like one day on, next day off) or a much-undersized unit for the application... rather than no skimming at all. Bob Fenner>

Algae bed/Mud + Refugium? + Skimmer? Hi Dr. Fenner, <Just Bob please> I respect your experience and I appreciate your willingness to share it. I have read through all of your FAQ's on refugia and mud filtration and I would like to bounce a few ideas off you. I am just getting started down the road towards acquiring my first saltwater system. I've been reading for the past 6 weeks and have become a fixture at the LFS's. <A good place to study> The goal of my system is to have a healthy system with the lowest possible maintenance necessary. In addition to the common reef inhabitants, I am MOST interested in keeping one or two Mandarinfish and I am coming to understand the challenges they bring. I have seen some algae/mud systems (no skimmer) in operation and I am very impressed with the quality of the water they produce. I understand that the water in these systems needs to be turned over about 5 or 6 times per hour. Is it possible for this type of sump to act as a refugium and produce enough live food for the Mandarins to eat with the water moving this fast? <Yes> Secondly, what is the survival rate for the plankton if it is being pumped at this speed? <Very high. I would speculate in the ninety plus percentage... those critters are tough> So lets say that you believe the water is moving too fast to grow enough food or the pump is killing too much of the plankton and I add a true refugium above the tank to grow food and other species that aren't suited to the main tank. I'll move the water through here pretty slowly and gravity feed it back to the main tank. <Fine> Now I have crystal clear water and yummy food for the Mandarins. Finally, the skimmer question comes up. I understand you like them and I will probably end up with one. However, I will probably begin without one as an experiment to see how much fish-life I can safely support without one.  <Better to start off with one, then turn it down, cycle it on/off...> The research I have done and the feedback from others seems to indicate that an algae bed/mud system without a skimmer is sufficient if you keep the fish population fairly low. I'd like to do some tests on this theory and try to better understand if/when the skimmer becomes necessary. Finally, I'd like to hear your feedback on running the skimmer, the algae/mud bed, and the refugium together. My thought would be to put the refugium above the tank and the skimmer and algae/mud below in the sump with the skimmer coming after the physical filtration and before the algae/mud bed. <Okay> What of Leng's argument that the skimmer will take the plankton and trace nutrients out of the system? <To some degree true... But what of the advantages of running the skimmer?> Given that the algae/mud bed is lit 24hrs/day, I understand that the use of a refugium that is only lit 12 hours per day on alternate cycle from the main tank is optimal. Can you explain how/why this reduces the fluctuation in chemistry? <Mmm, optimal? Depending on the types of life employed, either lighting regimen can be "optimal" for the system, water overall. Alternating the cycle can save Redox, dissolved oxygen vacillations... leaving the light on continuously on the refugium/sump can accomplish the same> In this scenario (algae/mud bed lit 24hrs/day - refugium lit 12 hours per day opposite lighting of main tank) , what do you think of running the skimmer during the time that the main tank is dark and the refugium is lit. My understanding is that this is when the bugs stay close to the bottom of the refugium and are not brought into the tank in large numbers. Therefore, the skimmer would not be skimming the bugs during feeding time. <A good idea, hypothesis to try out> Would turning the skimmer on and off on a daily basis cause just the chemistry changes I am trying to avoid? Does the skimmer really kill the plankton I have worked so hard to grow? <Systems can be co-opted, marginalized in either case> What about Keep It Simple, Stupid. Am I going way overboard here. I feel that the benefit of biodiversity and food source from the refugium outweighs the cost of complexity. I'd like to get away with the algae/mud bed acting as this refugium - I'm just not sure if the algae/mud bed will feed my Mandarins. <Try it out> Furthermore, I am afraid that the skimmer will become necessary as I add more fish down the road but that's a complication as well. <Yes> That's about it, for now. Thank you immensely, -Jeremy
<Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Algae filtration question Hello Bob I have only four weeks as a marine aquarium hobbyist and by reading all your web site and a few books I know more about it than the so called experts at my office. Thanks a lot for the great web site! <And for your being part of it> I have one question regarding algae filtration. I have a 75 gallon tank. I only have 40 pounds of live sand and 100 pounds of live rock in it for the last four weeks. I am planning to start introducing just a few fish and maybe some invertebrates next week. I have no hurry on this...just keeping it at a slow pace. <Try the hardy invertebrates you intend first... better than fishes for now> Anyways, I have two overflows: one goes into my wet/dry (which I plan to eventually remove the bio-balls!!) and the other goes to a 30 gallon Rubbermaid. I only have a Red Sea turbo skimmer with the submerged pump on the 30 gallon Rubbermaid. I also have a small Rio 600 pump which pumps a regulated flow of water from the Rubbermaid to the wet dry just to keep a safe balance between the two.  <I hope/trust you also have "just" a gravity overflow to this wet-dry sump? Don't rely on any pumping mechanism alone... a disaster in time> I also happen to have a regular and basic 40 watts fluorescent light Home Depot) on top of that just to see when I work under the cabinet. My question is: Can I use the Rubbermaid as an algae filter also? <Yes> Will the skimmer continue skimming even with the Caulerpa inside the same sump? <Yes> Will the macroalgae clog the pumps thus reducing flow- I have no space for divisions - everything will be mixed in the one-space Rubbermaid? <Fashion a reasonable into screen... perhaps going to the bottom of the container... with a bit of egg-crate over a manifold of drilled PVC pipe... the algae growing on rock above this...> Can I just leave the current lamp that I have and just leave it 24hrs on? <Yes. Please read over the FAQs files on Refugiums, Sumps posted on the Marine index on www.WetWebMedia.com  Others have "done" what you propose> I would love to have some algae filtration inside that sump. Thanks a lot for the great reference material provided on the web site. Thanks a lot for answering my questions. Saludos amigo! Guillermo Martinez San Juan, Puerto Rico <Nos vemos my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Algae filtration question Thanks a lot for answering my questions. This will be my last question. at least for now...can't promise thought...more information always seem to lead to more questions. Since this Caulerpa will be kept in a relatively tight space (probably only a small amount of macro-algae can be kept). Is there any species of Caulerpa or perhaps a better species that will do the job better without occupying a whole lot of space. <Please read through the Caulerpa materials stored on www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> Thanks Guillermo

Re: Algae filtration question Bob: Thanks for the reply. I really appreciate your help. I am not sure I understood your idea. Will the macro-algae clog the pumps thus reducing flow- I have no space for divisions - everything will be mixed in the one-space Rubbermaid? <Fashion a reasonable into screen... perhaps going to the bottom of the container... with a bit of egg-crate over a manifold of drilled PVC pipe... the algae growing on rock above this...> I included a diagram (sorry for my poor drawing abilities) of my interpretation of what you suggested. Is what I tried to depict correct? Again, thanks a lot for your help. <A very nice line drawing... with color! This is exactly what I had in mind. Should work out fine. Bob Fenner> Gracias amigo!
Guillermo Martinez

Re: Filtration?? Just tested the water, the nitrates, nitrites, ammonia are zero, but the phosphates are about 1 ppm, but other then that all is ok. I re-read your articles on filtration but they didn't seem to support wet/dry over canister filtration system, so I guess I should just keep reading and hopefully my set-up will keep everything happy. Thanks again. Peace. Jason <Hmm, one ppm of soluble phosphates is too much... do read over the "Algal Filtration" sections... you might be ready to grow some macro-algae... in your new sump (forecasting here), or main system. Bob Fenner>

Time, need for gear upgrade? Hi Bob, I have 45 Gal tank with 30lbs. of live rock, (1) starfish and (1) hermit crab. For Biological filtration I have SeaStorm 60, for chemical and regular filtration I have Aqua/ carbon and a sponge filter) running at 240 GPM and a heater. For a protein skimmer I have a Red Sea fish pHarm protein skimmer which takes only an airstone to run it. I am thinking about purchasing an Eco System for my tank to replace what I have now. Do you think I should replace what I have now or just upgrade some of the equipment? 10% water changes are being done every week to keep up with the good water quality. <Good question... in that it's tough to respond in a thorough, meaningful way... The Eco System (algae, mud, sump, light) filtration is sound, advisable, but what you have now is fine as well... I would likely "just" add the new refugium onto what you have now... and maybe pull some of it off as other places for it to be arose. Bob Fenner>

Re: Time, need for gear upgrade? Hey Bob I am guessing the new refugium you are referring to is a type of protein skimmer. Thanks for the quick response. <Hmm, no, refugium in reference to the sump used for the Eco System filtration itself... sorry for the confusion. Bob Fenner>

Comments on Ecosystems products Hi Bob, <Hello> Comments and not really questions from the gal with the too small tank-- in your opinion. :-) <Okay, glad to have the input> Before you left you wrote some comments on Ecosystems, and I did not agree with you on the difficulty involved. I am a total newbie and never even did freshwater before, not counting a few fish bowls. Anyway you said it was very difficult to do and I don't agree. My livestock (soft coral and fish) tank is beautiful and healthy. The fish get brighter colored than they were at the store. <Hmm, refresh my memory here... Ecosystems as in Leng Sy's Miracle Mud? I said "it" was "very difficult to do"... what is "it"? Leng's systems are about the ultimate in simplicity... no skimmer, only a pump and light...> I did have early problems with my tank, but they were the result of listening to bad advice. They had little to do directly with the Ecosystems. <Okay> However I think that the basic setup is very easy. I don't agree with Ly Seng's recommendations for when to put in creatures-- or algae for that matter. <Please do write him re this. He is very interested in hearing about such matters> Here is the deal, as far as I know: A fellow here has a small warehouse type store and has done quite a few of these tanks. Most of these are really his recommendations. You should wait at least a month before putting in creatures or algae. <Good idea> Ly Seng assumes you are getting cured rock. This may have been a problem as I mail-ordered the rock so it was not completely cured. You need critters before you add algae or it won't "take". The algae takes better if it growing on LR not rubber banded to a piece of rock. <Yes> Also I do the usual water changes and testing. Ly Seng recommends the water changes and not the testing. <Really?> I do 5% a week. And do testing once a week on the main things, and Ca, Alk, and Phos less frequently. Testing results are usually "boring". :-) The one difficult thing is that the testing may *not* show a regular cycle. So you need to wait a month or so, and also be sure your rock has no sulfur smell. <Good advice> Another piece of advice from my experience is this: all other laws of keeping aquaria are the same. So don't listen to GARF etc. :-} <Hmm> Another thing I don't know about is the protein skimmer. I have never had one in the tank, but think it would have been helpful a few times and initially. I may get one for "emergencies". <A good idea in my estimation, experience> BTW, I wish Ecosystems had: 1. better documentation 2. replaced the Rio600 with something else. ( I think generally that these Rios are going into protein skimmers, refugiums, etc. and ruining otherwise good products. The darned Rio lasted only three months, but at least it didn't explode!!!! I replaced this with a MaxiJet 400 but that wasn't even close. I read that the MaxiJet 900 was closer. 3. I think the Miracle Mud is too expensive. And he should change the name as I have seen people who won't use it because of the name. Frankly it isn't anymore preposterous, IMO, than Instant Ocean. Think about it. :-) (BTW, I think he's in Orange County-- this may explain his price scale.) <Perhaps. If you don't mind I am going to forward your suggestions to Leng... very useful> Oh yeah, I wanted to recommend a book (for your readers, probably it's a little easy for you or any marine biologists :-)). Strangely it is the "Marine Biology Coloring Book" by Thomas Niesen. <Hey, I used this book to teach "Nearshore Marine Biology" courses here in San Diego (at State and UC Extension)... and have a review of this worthy tome (and a fabulous colored pencil artistic copy) on the WWM site under "Book Reviews"...> It is very well illustrated and contains lots of neat info. This is not at all on the idiot's guide level. It contains info on various species of fish and inverts; physiology; various zones (reef, rocky shore, sandy shore, etc); form and function. It really lacks a good bibliography but then you have that.  <Write Tom on this, please... he has heard it from me> Plus the "you do it" aspect which is nice for us visual and kinesthetic learners. Also coloring it yourself makes the book a lot cheaper than it would be otherwise. :-) <And more fun, and "magical" in a learning sensu dictu... > Anyway, I hope this all is helpful to someone. Your prolific writer friend. I hope it's not too long. <No worries my eclectic pet fish ichthyologist friend. Bob Fenner> --Jane J
Re: Comments on Ecosystems products
Hi Bob, You asked a couple questions here. >>Before you left you wrote some comments on Ecosystems, and I did.... >>Anyway you said it was very difficult to do and I don't agree. >><Hmm, refresh my memory here... Ecosystems as in Leng Sy's Miracle Mud?  >>said "it" was "very difficult to do"... what is "it"? Leng's systems are about the ultimate in simplicity... no skimmer, only a pump and light...> I may have misunderstood, however I think someone asked how difficult it was to set up this system and you said "very". Of course he could have asked how easy it was to setup! :-) <Yikes> Or it may have been a couple double negatives in there. Unfortunately I can't find the original article, FAQ. <Should be posted on the WWM site... with time, much patience, the Google search feature would bring it up... under Leng Sy, perhaps "Ecosystems" or "Miracle Mud?"...> >However I think that the basic setup is very easy. I don't agree with Ly Seng's recommendations for when to put in creatures-- or algae for that matter. ><Please do write him re this. He is very interested in hearing about such matters> >>Also I do the usual water changes and testing. Ly Seng recommends the water changes and not the testing. >><Really?> Yes, they told me not to test. Take it to the LFS and have it tested occasionally. They do recommend thermometers and hydrometers, though. <Bizarre... folks should measure whatever they "use"...> >><Perhaps. If you don't mind I am going to forward your suggestions to Leng... very useful> Yes, I would appreciate this. <I will make it so> >>Oh yeah, I wanted to recommend a book (for your readers, probably it's a little easy for you or any marine biologists :-)). Strangely it is the "Marine Biology Coloring Book" by Thomas Niesen. >><Hey, I used this book to teach "Nearshore Marine Biology" courses here in San Diego (at State and UC Extension)... and have a review of this worthy Cool class, too bad about the impossible commute. ;-) <Travel is possible> >>tome (and a fabulous colored pencil artistic copy) on the WWM site under "Book Reviews"...> Didn't find the original colored artist copy though? <It was/tis me m'lady> >> sandy shore, etc); form and function. It really lacks a good bibliography but then you have that. >><Write Tom on this, please... he has heard it from me> Coloring concepts is on the net, but I don't see another address. <This is it... they will forward your correspondence> >><No worries my eclectic pet fish ichthyologist friend. Bob Fenner> Hey I like this! :-) <You should... "it" is you> Be writing to thee fish guru par excellence. <You humble me madam. Bob Fenner> --Jane J
Re: A Couple more Comments on Ecosystems products
Hi Bob, I had a couple more comments, based on my experience. Of course, I hope not too many more as this could go on infinitely. :-} <You are right> >Unfortunately I can't find the original article, FAQ. ><Should be posted on the WWM site... with time, much patience, the Google search feature would bring it up... under Leng Sy, perhaps "Ecosystems" or "Miracle Mud?"...> Yes, I could. I did a bit of a search. Lots of info here. I think the points I have made are the same anyway though. I likely turned it around. Look what I did to Leng Sy's name. :-} <<No worries.> > >>Also I do the usual water changes and testing. Ly Seng recommends the water changes and not the testing. > >><Really?> >Yes, they told me not to test. Take it to the LFS and have it tested occasionally. ><Bizarre... folks should measure whatever they "use"...> I didn't test for that more important reason. I was/am curious. I want to know what's going on in the tank. Perhaps at some point I will learn by looking at the creatures, rock. BTW, all other Ecosystem users (6 or so) I have emailed back and forth with, have all tested, at least initially. <I would too> > >><Perhaps. If you don't mind I am going to forward your suggestions to Leng... very useful> >Yes, I would appreciate this. ><I will make it so> Another couple things: They don't necessarily recommend substrate. They say coralline will grow eventually. I disagree. I was very unhappy with no substrate. Although there was enough dust and so on so the fish weren't gazing at their images in the bottom, the tank looked sterile and unnatural. I think a couple inches is sort of mandatory. <Will send this along to Leng... more voluble data points> Supposedly a bare tank aids in the vacuuming of detritus. If you vacuum enough then you won't have the cover for the bottom. <Agreed> I added some and added more later. It's easier to do it at start-up. <Yes> Also he feels the one Rio600 is enough. For a larger tank (I mean than a ten gallon), you need more. Once I put in the MaxiJet 1000 various pest algae disappointed like magic. <Again, agreed> I also add buffer. May start adding calcium. Other Ecosystem keepers also add buffer and/or calcium. Perhaps it depends on what you do with your water. Since I add DI water, the pH is always lower than acceptable. <Yes> > >><No worries my eclectic pet fish ichthyologist friend. Bob Fenner> >Hey I like this! :-) ><You should... "it" is you> >Be writing to thee fish guru par excellence. ><You humble me madam. Bob Fenner> Reinforce your hyperlexic writers and they will write more. :-) <Yes> Anyway I am glad to have a safe forum to write my experiences. The newsgroup isn't very receptive to comments about Ecosystems. It ends up as flame bait. <Hmm, wonder why this is? Bob Fenner> --Jane J
Re: A Couple more Comments on Ecosystems products
Hi Bob, I decided to wait a couple days before writing back. I *like* email, but realize you have LOTS!! <Yes, and thankfully "like" it too> Anyway, I wonder, do you really want an answer to that. I have a few and they are "serious" but I wondered if this was a hypothetical question (not sure that is the right word). >Anyway I am glad to have a safe forum to write my experiences. > The newsgroup isn't very receptive to comments about Ecosystems. >It ends up as flame bait. ><Hmm, wonder why this is? Bob Fenner> <Actually... yes I was/am serious (well, about as much as I ever am... much larger real/philosophical question here/there). I do wonder at your perception/the reality of "receptiveness"...  Bob Fenner> --Jane J
Re: Why Ecosystems is flame bait on ngs (IMO)
Hi Bob, >I decided to wait a couple days before writing back. I *like* email, but realize you have LOTS!! ><Yes, and thankfully "like" it too> It's a darn good thing! (otherwise I suppose you would have another hobby, life style, whatever... :-) <Yes my friend, tienes razon> > >Anyway I am glad to have a safe forum to write my experiences. > > The newsgroup isn't very receptive to comments about Ecosystems. > >It ends up as flame bait. > ><Hmm, wonder why this is? Bob Fenner> >>Anyway, I wonder, do you really want an answer to that. >>I have a few and they are "serious" but I wondered if this
<Actually... yes I was/am serious (well, about as much as I ever am... much :-) >larger real/philosophical question here/there). I do wonder at your perception/the reality of "receptiveness"...> Yikes, this is quite philosophical! But mine might be different than other people as I am on the (very) high end of the autistic spectrum. (Ever wondered about the "wiring" of aquarists?) <Continuously> So here goes. Sorry if this is LONG. I really am hypergraphic. Arguments I have heard (and my comments as to validity): 1. Name of Miracle Mud. Some people are very upset on this one. I say it's no worse than "Instant Ocean". But apparently they aren't thinking of names of *other* products. (IO, Wonder Mud, etc.) No miracle, etc. I agree, but think it's marketing. <Yes... and no real need to be offended... my gosh, there are many folks who believe in "invisible friends", "the Easter Bunny", "Government efficiency"...> 2. Price of Miracle Mud. And nature of it. Some claim it is dirt from his back yard or nearby cliffs and they have seen him dig it. Also he won't tell anybody what's in it. I don't know why he has to, but perhaps he should say on the label something like "(terrestrial, mangrove or whatever) mud; special additives including iodine." (or whatever) <I would respond to such comments with "If you owned the product rights would you let on to its formulation, source? Me neither".> All aquarium stuff is over-priced, IMO. Just look what Southdown sand goes for versus CaribSea. But I agree he asks too much, and-- I think this is important-- that more would try it if the price were lowered. <Price point is important... I have said about the same sort of thing to Leng... but it is, about all he has to sell after all...> There are certain economic principles involved so that the higher price is actually deterring use rather than increasing profits. His actual system is too expensive too. (I got an almost $100 discount or wouldn't be doing it.) 3. The mud is terrestrial (btw, I don't know if it is or not). But this is given as a bad thing, I don't know if it is. IMO, you would have to say terrestrial= harmful in some way. <Don't think it is terrestrial in origin... but do think it has a simple additive nature... like ferrous sulfate...> 4. Some people have gotten the idea that Leng Sy is a scientist and not an inventor/aquarist. That he is selling his findings, more or less. This was never my understanding. <Hmm, his family owns a donut shop type of business... and he has some technical/engineering background from the country of his origin, Cambodia...> 5. Leng Sy overstates his claims or they are confusing. "Professional results etc. "I think there's a bit of truth in that problem, but the degree of overstatement is overstated. It's just marketing. OTOH, his system is easy enough and does produce good results. Salt water is not exactly low maintenance. I am not getting professional results-- whatever those are (?). <I really wish his ad starting with "Got Ich? This will help..." would change...> 6. He is marketing to beginners. I see no problem with this. I am of the opinion that most of his users are *not* beginners, and that I am more the exception. It isn't so easy to find, and a bit hard to get info on. 7. The idea of no protein skimmer. This isn't that new. How about the people with DSBs only? This works. Whether one would benefit or not is another story. I think perhaps one would be useful at times. <Many roads...> My opinion: 8. New idea. Fear of new things. This isn't exactly true either-- I think something of a cross between a refugium and algae scrubber. But fear of new things is "real". <We all tend toward the familiar...> 9. They are selling to beginners. Beginners have no "right" to do this. I think you are supposed to go thru years of initiation until you get into refugiums, etc. Beginners can't do this-- Poppycock, IME. My feeling is that the *some* "elders" in the hobby like their closely guarded secrets-- almost like this is a secret order. Leng Sy opened up these "secrets" to newbies and so on. I think there might be equal amounts of flaming for anybody else trying to sell some advanced idea to beginners. (I wonder what happened to those first suggesting protein skimming or wet/dry? <Luckily the Net didn't exist then... instead folks would tell and write me that I was "full of malarkey"... the PG version> I suppose I could try this if the ng existed LONG ago-- pre-GUI say. Run a dejanews search, I think they are archived forever. Frightening.) 10. (nothing) I just wanted ten things. :-) <I understand> your lengthy email ichthyologist wannabe friend, <You are what you believe and practice. Bob Fenner> --Jane J

Converting 40 gallon to sump I want to convert my old 40 gallon tank (34'' long 24'' deep) to a sump with Caulerpa and live rock for my 100 gallon fish/invert tank. The 40 currently has an eclipse system with the standard lighting. I am also installing a plenum in the sump. <Good ideas> I am thinking that it would be wise to at least keep using the eclipse "canopy" even without the filtration. <Okay> Bob: 1) If I upgrade to the 1x 55 watt SmartLite (50/50 tube), will this be enough light for Caulerpa and live rock even at 24'' deep? Is this a worthy expense? <Hmm... two would be better, but yes, a good start...> 2) The 40 gallon currently has the typical 2x18 watt T-8 tubes. Will the upgrade be dramatic or hardly noticeable (aesthetically)? <Dramatic both functionally and esthetically> 3) When creating this sump, how do you purchase the siphon pump and the return pump? It seems to me that it makes sense to go with two pumps that provide the same gph. . . <Yikes, you're frightening me... use an "overflow box" (I believe in gravity... though it has let me down... sorry about that) and a return pump... look at the CPR products website (link on the www.WetWebMedia.com site) here...> 4) I have read what is on the WWM site about circulation and understand about head placement. In my main tank, can you suggest a guideline for buying power heads for a 100 gallon tank? How many gph per head? <Dedicated? About 3-400 gph at the specified head> Thanks for your time and effort Bob. You are a valuable asset to this hobby !! David Dowless <A pleasure my friend. Bob Fenner>

Water high in sulfates (algae control) Good morning- We have a 460 gallon aquarium with a metal halide, 717 watt light. We have a severe hair algae problem. Our water may be high in sulfates and we've since gone to a reverse osmosis filter and a water holding tank. Our next water change will be the first with this new approach. Will this help to alleviate our algae problem and short of manually taking off the algae, is there another solution?  <I doubt if sulfates are a primary contributing factor here... phosphates, nitrates are typically limiting influences... Many other solutions exist... in broad categories: other nutrient limitation, competitors, predators, allelopathogenic activity (mainly from macro-algae culture...). These are covered in "Algae", "Algae Control", "Algal Filtration" sections and associated FAQs files on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com> Also, we're having a difficult time maintaining a snail population. Is this because of the water?  <Perhaps... do you have sufficient biomineral concentrations? Alkaline reserve? Your snails need both... Maybe they are being preyed upon by another life form... Many possibilities here. See the "Marine Snails" sections on the WWM site as well. Bob Fenner> Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks, Doug

Mud filtration Hello, I read an article from you. The sub caption is "A mud-filter mechanicals set-up.". <Yes> I live in Germany, there we don't have the miracle mud from ecosystem aquarium. So I wanted to ask, if there are other muds for use in mud filters. <Yes indeed. In point of fact, as you likely know from "planted aquarium" experience soils of most sorts contain minerals that can/do act as catalysts... and that there are some such materials in/on most rock, substrates...> Here where I live we have the good advantage that our region was a reef millions of years ago. There we have a strong heavy yellow mud with very high part of calcium carbonate. <Yes... am a visitor to parts of Germany every other year... during the InterZoo show in Nuremberg (Nurnberg) travel about...> Do you know if somebody tried to analyze the miracle mud? <Yes... Leng Sy, the owner of the company is a nearby (Los Angeles, we live in San Diego to the south) friend/associate... tells me he, and others have done so...> About 30 years ago, reef aquariums where started by placing a hand of mud in it, bacteria etc.... <Yes, do know this anecdote... thank you> Please drop me a line. Thanks. Stefan Brunnengr?er <Anytime my friend, danke. BTW, do you read das Aquarium? Bob Fenner>
Re: Mud filtration
Hello Bob, yes but not often reading "das Aquarium", only if I get a free magazine from my dealer. There are not so interesting articles in there. I'm constantly reading "Koralle", where the discuss a mud filtration in the actual magazine. You can have a look: http://www.ms-verlag.de/meeresaquaristik/koralle/index.php <Thank you for this> What do you mean, should I try my mud in front of the door or shouldn't I? <I would just use live rock, not the mud for now> ... using a little tank and a hand full of Caulerpa ... Is only Caulerpa sertularoides working fine? <Yes> What's the real advantage of this algae? <Continuous photosynthesis mostly> Best Regards, Stefan Brunnengrer PS: Nuremberg is my favorite town here in Germany .. the old town ... the zoo ... the wonderful aquaristic shops ... :-) Do you know EW-Zoo in the Kopernikusstrasse? <Yes I do... very nice. Bob Fenner>

Algae scrubbers Robert I have had an on going fight with problem algae for about 3-4 months now. I have a 600 ltr tank with trickle filter, protein skimmer, MH lighting 10000k, lots of live rock, phos guard, no plenum, with nitrite 0, nitrate 5, ph 8.3. The algae started all of a sudden when the tank was about 11 months old (skimmer not working properly, MH old and changed colour, all ok recently), Question would you recommend using a algae scrubber to reduce problem algae in the tank or perhaps any other thoughts, as I'm lost to the problem, I have recently been changing water with the real stuff about 20% monthly, I had been until then using artificial. Thanks for your help Robert Haywood (Queensland Australia) <Please do read over the "Algae Control" and Algal Group survey pieces, FAQs stored on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com... I would use live macro-algae, perhaps add a sump/plenum here... maybe some purposeful algae eating animals (all detailed on the WWM site), and leave your system to slowly re-center itself. You appear to otherwise have a good grasp of what is going on. Bob Fenner>

Mud Filters, Expensive Chaetodontoplus,  Clarions/Mexico Collecting Date: Sat, 6 Jan 2001 01:05:44 EST  Hello Bob,  I have several questions today. My first: what is your opinion and what have you heard about the Eco System?  <Leng Sy's business? As in "Miracle Mud"? A strong concept, and "proven" technology... I use the same sorts of activity, applied principles in our experimental tanks, farm here... but not Leng's mud... too much money for my pocketbook> My friend and I just built a couple (can't build the mud though$$$).  <Ah... and for browsers, the link to this company is to be found on the pages of the same name on www.wetwebmedia.com and considerably more on mud filtration in a FAQ archive file there of the same name> Due to some miscalculations, I built one suitable for an 80 gallon tank, but it is going on a 15 gallon reef. <No worries. Can't be too big... the reciprocal is possible> Next, my girlfriends 6 gallon Eclipse reef tank has a mantis shrimp in it.  <Keep the first, get rid of the last> I can only  hear him. The trap to catch him is about as big as the damn tank. The only fish in it are a pair of tomato clowns. What can I do?  <Drain, the tank, inspect the removed rock (watch your fingers!). Do this while the girlfriend is away... as a present/gift... Much better than the very real possibility of this animal consuming the Clowns... much more overstressing...> Moving rocks is out of the question; it has done so well since we stopped messing with it. Last question: tell me everything you know about the Conspiculatus Angelfish. <A beauty, and if purchased healthy, gotten to feed on formulated foods, fresh/meaty ones... can be kept for many years... In very large systems (hundreds of gallons). Pretty much all I know is stored in archives on the genus Chaetodontoplus on the www.wetwebmedia.com site. Oh, and I think Leng still has one... gorgeous, at his shop in Orange County> I saw one today in a store in Oakland. No where have I seen a real price.  They just say "call us." Well, apparently if you have to "call" anyone for a price, you will not be happy. The thing cost $1500, and was already bought.  Is this a reasonable price? <A bit high... Maybe give the mail-order/internet businesses a ring, check pricing from them (FFExpress.com is a good start here)... s/b able to find a nice enough specimen for $500-800 US> I am intrigued by this terribly expensive angelfish. Many angelfish from the region are not nearly as expensive. I know it comes from deep water. I am actually very curious about the techniques used to catch deep water fish, if you can point me towards and article. The store owner also said Clarions cannot be imported anymore.  True or not.  Thanks a lot,  Josh  <Actually, as of last year the "ban" on collection is Mexico is off, and the few Holacanthus clarionensis that were coming shatteringly (is this English?) from points further south have been surpassed by Steve Robinson's efforts in "the amigo country".... see the article et al on Clarion's posted on the WWM site as well. Bob Fenner>

Mud for Xmas? Dear Bob, Santa Claus is coming, and might be coming my way :-) ...... if he does I am considering one of two things ........ 1) Get a new needle wheel skimmer to replace my Berlin ........ something along the lines of a Turboflotor baby 5000. OR 2) keep my existing equipment, get a new 5'x1'x1' sump (to replace the 15 gal sump), and try to implement a "mud" system in it .... i.e. Miracle Mud, a tonne of Caulerpa, and increase circulation. What would you opt for ??? The "miracle mud" people claim their systems don't need a skimmer ......... I doubt it though, but none the less I would keep the Berlin running. Happy Xmas and New year if I am not talking to you before then. Regards Matt <This IS a tough consideration... Do like the skimmer upgrade idea, but that bigger sump (lighted, with Caulerpa, the magic Leng Sy mud... If I had to choose twixt these two I definitely would go for the latter... and leave your skimmer (current one) going... though you will find most nothing is collected in a while... and your system will (not too miraculously should we lose our minds here) become more viable and easier to care for... actually with or w/o the mud, miracles or no. Bob Fenner>
Re: mud for Xmas?
Hi Bob, Thanks for your previous reply. Going on the idea of putting Caulerpa and LR into the sump, would you recommend the use of mangroves ? Namely red-mangroves ......... I could not find anything on them at WWM. Would you think they are more / less beneficial than Caulerpa for this application ? Would a bit of both be better ??? Or would you say Caulerpa only (or indeed mangroves only) would be better? Cheers, Matt <Am not a fan of Mangrove use... for practical reasons... size of organisms, removal from the wild, needed lighting... and no need... do just go with Caulerpa spp. Bob Fenner>

Sump Question Hi Bob, Long time no question. Haven't heard of you coming to the Dallas area for your beers yet... <Believe you me, I'm ready> Here's my setup and question. I have a 75 w/100 lbs LR, lots of mushrooms, a bubble coral etc, ocellaris, purple tang, flame angel etc. I am using an AMiracle SL150 as a sump with 5 lbs of LR. I am planning on putting some lettuce Caulerpa in the sump which is in my 32" high stand. <Good idea> I have two reasons for this. It would cut down on my nuisance algae, and would be a treat for my Angel and Tang. I have seen the new Custom Sealife power compact retrofit with SmartLamp intended for the Eclipse 3 and wonder what you think of this to light the inside of my stand for the Caulerpa. It's 55 watts of 1/2 8800K, 1/2 "ultra radiant actinic". I would bolt it to the underside of the top of the stand. How many hours a night do you think I should run this? Or do you have a better suggestion for lighting? <This should be mighty fine, and likely 24h/day or if not (second best) and alternate light/dark cyclicity with your main/display systems lighting> Thanks O' wise one. <Soitainly... You must mean wisenheimer!> Marty <Bob Fenner>

Reef questions Dear Dr Fenner, Thanks again for all your help/advice with my prior questions. I've got a sump set up with a lighted area for growing macroalgae and plan to keep it lit 24 hrs/day. You had indicated that several types of macroalgae can be used - I had also noticed that your FAQs indicated that Caulerpa can be lit 24 hrs/day. Are any other species tolerant of all day lighting? Specifically: Halimeda, Gracilaria, Halimeda, Dictyota? <Halimeda to a more limited extent than Caulerpas... the others much more limited still> You've recommended (and I really like the aesthetics of C. Taxifolia), but I've heard that its a nuisance algae and is causing some problems in the San Diego bay area by overgrowing the native flora.  <As would/do any non-native species that can outcompete native wildlife... Only idiots and fools would release exotics into the wild> Are there any concerns with landlocked - Minnesota - aquarists using it? <No... a totally marine species> Would it be best to keep only 1 species of macroalgae in the sump, or several species (in an attempt to minimize harmful leaching while maximizing beneficial absorptive qualities)?  <Hmm, actually two species are better IMO> I realize I'm probably thinking/obsessing too much on this 'algae/sump' topic, but I'm a newbie to the hobby. <Not at all... much to be investigated and popularized here> On an earlier note, you mentioned that I could use better quality live rock than I currently have (mix of Fiji and Belize). How would you rate the following live rock in terms of filtration quality <Let's label this "A"> and in terms of being free on nuisance critters (mantis shrimp, bristle worms, harmful snails, etc)<and "B">: 1) Fiji, 2) Marshall, 3) Pago, 4) Jakarta, 5) Manano? <A and B, rated 10 for best, 1 for worse for the numbered sites above... with a range for variance for suppliers, qualities.  1) A 2-10, B 3-6 2) A 5-9, B 5-8 3) A 6-9, B 5-9 4) A 1-5, B 4-7 5) A 7-10, B 4-8  Lastly, I currently have a red sea Berlin skimmer on my 70 gal tank. I'm thinking of adding an ozonizer. You had mentioned in your book that properly sized aquarium ozonizers don't pose a health threat to humans/tank inhabitants. What is a properly sized ozonizer?  <hundreds of milligrams per hour for most any hobby sized systems> I've had retailers say I should have anywhere from .4 to 2 mg of ozone per gal of water (this large range of 5x has left me baffled).  <A range of efficacy... and usefulness... a wider safety margin than most folks know> If I run a 100mg ozonizer on the Red Sea Berlin skimmer, should I use carbon in the built in air filter?  <Possibly... you can wait, see if you detect anything obnoxious (you won't, the O3 is beneficial in the amounts you can produce... People pay very good money to have this substance introduced into the air their about> If so, how do I know when to replace it?  <About once a month...> I'm using an ORP monitor, so I'm assuming I won't need carbon in the water path. <As I state, you won't detect any difference... this molecule is very transient... and of use in a home/work environment... improves the space. Bob Fenner> Thanks again for all of your help!

How to set up a coral tank I have not had the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian to see this tank, though I had heard it has had its problems (I am, however, a big fan of the Algal Turf scrubbers from Inland Aquatics that are based on Adey's designs).   Of the public aquariums I have visited though, none have had the sort of wonderfully healthy, thriving reef systems that can often be found in the homes of dedicated hobbyists. <Do know these scrubbers very well, and am of the decided opinion they do/can work... but akin to U.S. consumers and older sports cars, they're decidedly not "the market" for the west due to vagaries of simple maintenance...>There is an unfortunate gap between the hobbyists (many of whom have great skill but often don't speak the scientists lingo or have the technical knowledge or understanding of the scientific method the scientists have) and scientists.  I have seen both sides, as I have my feet firmly planted in both realms.<Surprisingly (to me), I have made my living for decades by straddling this same transparent chasm... with a third spot thrown in which is the industry/business side of ornamental aquatics... And have rarely met anyone else who states as you do...> I have sometimes been shocked by how inept some scientists I have known have been in the basic husbandry of the organisms they were working with (not just corals, but fish and plants as well...my main area of training is actually in plant and insect ecology), and dismayed by the lack of respect they often have for hobbyists who often have incredible finesse with (and tremendous natural history knowledge of) the same groups of organisms. <I concur... a great shame and loss to both parties> Just out of curiosity, what realms of endeavor regarding corals and reefs do you walk in?  Are you a hobbyist, scientist, diver, marine livestock dealer, or ...???? (or possibly several of the above?).  I recognize your name as someone active on either the Coral List or the ReefKeepers list (or both?), but I don't recall what your connections with corals are. <An industry/business facilitator by practice, "content provider by income", consultant a few times a year to the public and private sides of livestock, drygoods and "habitat" (mechanicals and controllers) aspects of the interest. Mainly I write, make photographs (and video for many years, but never sold a second), and sell same in the print, electronic worlds. Much of my efforts can be perused on the site:  Home Page . I do call many of the "A" players in the marine livestock trades friends, and do write for dive, in-flight periodicals... even the occasional underwater natural history essay... And give freely of my image work to the ASIH, FishBase... where you might have seen my name mentioned.> Thanks, by the way, for your e-mail....I wasn't quite sure how my comments would be received by coral-list members, some of whom I fear might take offense to my comments! <To heck with them and me for that matter should any object to an honest person's exhortations. Many of the NOAA listserv people have an all-too secular agenda here.... To keep their funding, jobs... Express yourself> Bill <Be chatting my friend. Kia orana (Cook Maori for "Life to you"), Bob Fenner>

Mud/Algae Filtration >I've read your book and was very pleased with it - hoping you come out with additional books in the future. <Thank you, and yes, a few more in search of help in publishing, sales and distribution...> >I have a few questions that I was hoping you could help me with in regard to an EcoSystem mud filter that I'm considering using to replace a wet/dry that I have on a 70 gal reef tank (100 lbs of Fiji live rock). >1) In your opinion, would it be useful to include a protein skimmer (red sea Berlin classic, driven by rio2100) before the Ecosystem mud filter, or should the skimmer be removed altogether? <Yes... and surprisingly enough we do know Leng Sy very well, and did design a filter like his... but using a protein skimmer!!! A few years back, but never on to market... But to answer your query, YES, I would/Do use skimmers with our "mud type" live algae filters> >2) Should UV and OZONE be removed if using a Ecosystem mud filter, or can they remain? <I think these are/would be useful adjuncts to the filtration> >3) Can a calcium reactor me used with the Ecosystem, or is this ill-advised? <I strongly advise it... very useful> >4) Since my live rock is my main ammonia, nitrite, nitrate filtration, could I simply replace my wet/dry with a EcoSystem mud filter, or do I need to cycle the mud filter on a separate tank before using it to replace my >wet/dry? <In almost all cases, simply switching them will work out fine in such scenarios. As you suggest, the established components in the main system will re-adjust, keep bio-geo-chemical cycling going.> >Thanks much! <You're certainly welcome. Bob Fenner>

I would like your opinion on using an Algae Turf Scrubber in a reef > aquarium. I have done quite a bit of research on ATS systems and am considering setting up a 200g tank with an ATS. It sounds like a great idea, but I don't know... > Thanks, Chad Headlee >> Am not a big fan of these stock units as stand alone filters... without chemical filtrant intervention I have found that they generally do not produce high water quality... However, in the hands of an intelligent, diligent operator, this is a very useful primary filtration mode. Bob Fenner

Sump I have a Sealife Systems Pro 75 trickle filter minus the bio balls for a sump, I use Caulerpa macro-algae in the bio balls place but I do not use a light above the filter and my Caulerpa is as green as when I bought it. What I was wondering is if this is okay or should I use the light for some specific reason? >> Only to boost photosynthesis... and all the consequent effects... If you're happy, satisfied with what you have... Bob Fenner

Mud? You referred to using a mud system a couple of times last week. Can you just throw some Caulerpa in the sump under a regular fluorescent tube and control phosphates or is it more complicated than that ? I really don't know what a mud filter is. Thanks >> This is about it... Some folks add mud purposely in addition... to supply possible missing materials, catalysts... Bob Fenner

Adding LR Thank You for your Prompt reply (I am not used to such wonderful customer service). Now I have what may seem like a funny question or two but how do I add live rock (what kind, what do I do with it, what kind of lighting would I need) and what is an algae/mud filter and do I need additional equipment for that. If so, where do you suggest I get the equipment/supplies? <Funny unusual or ha ha... or? There are a few excellent kinds... check the listings at ffexpress.com... for color, size, shape considerations... it is placed in your system, with some steps taken for "curing", a minimal amount of lighting for a reef type system is all that is required... many benefits... maybe take a look at the materials stored on the URL: www.wetwebmedia.com for more on Live Rock... and its uses.  Algae/mud filters the same... the mud itself can be bought from a number of sources... the origin is a friend, Leng Sy in L.A.>  One more thing... Does the Berlin really work well compared to some of the brands with the "needle"? The price difference is not that much and I just want to make sure I don't have to buy another skimmer any time soon. <In your circumstances either will work well... I personally would go with the Berlin> Again, thank you for your assistance. <Again, you're welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Lighting algal filters I have written to you before on my hair algae problem. you suggested getting some macro algae and placing it in the sump. could I get away with using just a florescent bulb on the sump or do I need something else? >> The fluorescent lamp lighting is perfect. A full spectrum type of lamp. And if the algae is Caulerpa, leave the light on continuously. Bob Fenner

Say What Mud? Hello Bob Several weeks ago I contacted you in regards to my hair algae. In your response you suggested a system with microalgae and mud and too replace my bio-balls with liverock. I had requested more details and my e-mail must have found the big dead letter file in the sky. I would appreciate any information you can give me in the proper set up. The way my system is setup now I will need to use a separate tank. The original question was sent on 1/13/00 Thank You Randy >> Hmm, wonder how much I'm actually losing out/to cyberspace?... Check out Leng Sy's site so you can get the skinny on mud/muck algae filters straight from the equines oral interface: http://www.ecosystemaquarium.com/ Basically, these are lighted (continuously generally, though some folks use alternating day light photoperiods with their main tanks, full spectrum... typically fluorescents... sumps with live rock, mostly/exclusively Caulerpa spp. algae (some people use others, mix them)... and mostly w/o skimmers... or with... or occasionally on/off... And further chatting about these systems can be found in bits and pieces on "marine/reef aquarium filtration" articles and book sections on my URL: www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner

hole in the head I have a 125 gal. fish only tank with about 100 lbs. of live rock. For lighting I have four 48 inch, 40 watt tubes. Two of which are 10,000 k daylight and two actinic blue. My fish consist of one fully grown black Volitans lion, a yellow tang, a Sailfin tang and a hippo tang. The yellow has been in the tank for several years and shows no sign of hole in the head.  However, both the hippo and the Sailfin are suffering from a progressively bad case of it. I feed all of the tangs Spirulina flakes twice a day. What can I do? Can the disease be reversed? >> This degenerative disorder can indeed be fought and reversed... Though there are proponents of other major sources of "cause" (stray electrical potential, protozoan infestation), I am of the water quality and nutrition school... Do look into the benefits of algae and mud filtration (as in down in a sump) and adding multi-vitamins and iodine to your food stuffs ahead of offering them.... and do take a look at the pieces on marine diseases... stored at www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner

Miracle mud I have a question regarding miracle mud. What exactly is it, where can I get it and what is a common brand name. How do you use it I have gathered from your answers to questions that it is used for culturing Caulerpa, and how much would you recommend for a 75 gallon reef aquarium.  I have a second question. I have a SeaClone skimmer for my 75 gallon is it adequate or should I invest in a better one for my reef? By the way I really enjoy reading your daily advise. Keeping Things Simple, Chris  >> A friend, Leng Sy (http://www.ecosystemaquarium.com/ is the owner/operator of this co. and chief product... From what I gather (he won't tell me or anyone else that much), this is a natural "mud" plus some additives.... I have some notion about such things... but would rather refer you to "the source" for what it's worth. Check out Leng's recommendations re use, amount... I would (maybe) just stick with the SeaClone if you were totally going the mud and algae filter route... Leng does without these entirely (skimmers) on his established systems... Much more to be discussed going forward. Bob Fenner

Lighting for a sump Bob- I am installing a sump for my 58 gallon tank. Unfortunately I can not fit a 20 gallon tank underneath my stand because it is too wide. The only tanks I can fit underneath my stand are a 10 gallon and a 15 gallon. The 15 gallon tank is 18" high. I would like to keep live rock and culture Caulerpa in the sump but I am concerned about the height of the 15 gallon tank. Are there smaller power compacts that would suffice? Or should I use the 10 gallon tank that is only 12" high. On another note, what is the common name of Caulerpa racemosa and C. mexicana? Thank you, Rob >> If the fifteen will fit otherwise, do use it... twice as good as the ten, though only fifty percent larger... And yes, all sorts of small power compacts are now available ... we use some that come out of China all made up in hoods, with switches, cover plates... that are great... and come in all sizes...  C. racemosa's most common name is "Grape Caulerpa", and C. mexicana... Mexican Caulerpa. Bob Fenner

AT Scrubbers and the like???? Bob, I am wondering if you have any experience with algal turf scrubbers (AT scrubber), algae filters or any type of filtering system utilizing algae? I have read some good things about these various systems. However, it is always from the makers of such systems and I have yet to find someone using one. Also, I have a large lawnmower blenny that has pretty much exhausted all of the natural growth on my live rock. I am hoping that there is something else I can feed him or maybe "smear" on the rocks for him to forage for. I thoroughly enjoy him but if he begins to lose weight I will have to find a better home for him. Thanks for the help, Brad >> Am familiar with algal turf scrubbers, commercially and from a science/history point of view.... Saw some of the early work of (all places) the necropolis of Natural History Museums, the Smithsonian... through their development in the seventies, install of the dismal (yes, a failure IMO... many, many dead, dying organisms...) "main tank" in 1981... Am not a big fan of these systems commercially... they partially work to drive the mechanisms of filtration in the claims... but many by-products of this "driving" are detrimental... not just the unsightly color of water that is produced... that the hobbyist must address: chemically filter, massive water change-out... or suffer poor livestock growth, health consequently. Like the use of skimmers and other technology, algal filters have their upsides and downsides... They "take out too much" of somethings, and "produce too much of others"... Are they "worth it" for hobbyist use? IMO, no. But there are many people who disagree, and a few institutions who have installed and fight with these sorts of approaches continuously. Bob Fenner

Caulerpa Algae Filter Problems I am emailing you this attachment from South Africa. I hope you can help me as I am desperate. thanks again, Shivy. >> Dear Bob, I am seeking your expert advice on a problem I encountered. My display tank is 1800mm x 600mm x 600mm in dimension (148 gallons in capacity). It contains live rock that fills up the tank almost halfway. My invertebrates consist of two Goniopora corals (Goniopora lobata), a Diurnal coral (Galaxea fascicularis),some species of rock polyps, some tube worms, a Carpet anemone, and another anemone and a Coral banded shrimp. My tank is illuminated by two 150W metal halides (10,000K range), a 30W actinic tube, a 30W marine Glo tube and a 58W blue moon tube from Interpet. My photic period for a day is 10 hours. My display tank is connected to a bottom sump tank (1200mm x 450mm x 450mm).The sump has the appropriate filtration system together with two protein skimmers (Tunze and a Visi-jet). For the first six months or so my tanks inhabitants were thriving and doing well. A month ago I setup a remote tank growing Caulerpa algae. The tank is 1500mm x 450mm x 200mm in dimension. At first I put a couple of Caulerpa strands, now the tank is densely populated with the algae. Since then my inverts were not doing that well at all. They have shrunk and are not opening like before. In spite of me dosing the system with calcium, the calcium levels are still 300ppm.the rest of my parameters are as follows: Nitrate=5ppm;Nitrite=0ppm; Ammonia=0ppm;pH=8.3;Phosphate=0ppm;Carbonate hardiness=12.8dKH and the Alkalinity=4.57meq/L. Now my questions to you are why are my carbonate hardiness and alkalinity levels far to high, could my inverts be suffering from this or is it the low calcium levels and are the Caulerpa algae emitting any bi-product that are affecting my invertebrates. Please let me know how the problem can be resolved as it is a major crisis. I look forward to hearing from you soon. From Shivy, South Africa. >> I think you have a good grasp of what is going on here. I agree that the Caulerpa are removing something(s) from the water too well, and in addition may well be adding some allelopathogenic materials (undesirable chemicals that affect other life) into the water. If it were me, I'd immediately tear out about 90% of the Caulerpa and keep its density down to at most 50% of what it is now.     Whatever it is that you've been doing to bolster your calcium and alkalinity, you need to step up (that is, increase): for a calcium reactor, change/add media and increase CO2 bubble flow, for additives, increase dosage and frequency. In the short term do consider effecting a few consecutive large water changes (50+ gallons) every few days.     I would also suggest the addition of about half a kilo of activated carbon immediately, and another half in a week. This will help remove "color" from the water, and some of the organics that are affecting and being released by your corals.     A few things need to happen, ASAP. A reduction in the affects of the Caulerpa, an addition of necessary elements and compounds... Good luck. Bob Fenner

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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