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FAQs on Controlling Cyano/Blue-Green Algae 3

Related FAQs: Control of Cyano/Blue-Green Algae 1, Cyano Control 2, Cyano Control 4, Cyano Control 5, Cyano Control 6, Cyano Control 7, Cyano Control 8, Cyano Control 9, Cyano Control 10, Cyano Control 11, BGA Control 12, BGA Control 13, BGA Control 14, BGA Control 15, BGA Control 16, BGA Control 17BGA Control 18, BGA Control 19, BGA Control 20, & BGA Identification, Algae ControlMarine Algicide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; Controlling: Red/Encrusting Algae, Green Algae, Brown/Diatom Algae

Related Articles: Blue-Green "Algae"/(Cyanobacteria), Algae Control, Marine Maintenance, Nutrient Control and Export, 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,   Diatoms, Brown Algae

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

LTA deflated Tentacles / Cyano Problems  11/7/05 Good Afternoon, I have a couple of questions regarding my 55g reef. I believe I may have a problem with my tank as I am experiencing some Cyano problems. Currently my water parameters are as follows: Salinity 1.026 pH 8.2 Ammonia .5 -1 <Trouble> Nitrite 0 Nitrate 0 Phosphate 0 KH 10 My anemone will open it's mouth everyday expelling a slimy substance and it's tentacles are deflated. <A good clue... something is amiss> It seems to almost flip inside out almost everyday. I know an anemone in general is hard to keep, but it was fine for the first two months with the water chemistry not changing much. My maxima clam and pipe organs are doing just fine though. Everything else in the tank is fine except a yellow tang that has died recently from unknown causes, my best guess is starvation as the seaweed I've been trying to feed her is getting taken away by my Clarkii clown. I actually only have about 25lbs of live rock and 15lbs what was sold as live rock but seemed like base rock. So if I count them, it'll be 40lbs which is probably too little for a reef tank. <Is fine for this size, shape, type system> I also have about 30lbs of Lava Rock <This may be problematical... I would at least have the water tested for iron content> I hope will eventually become "live." Should I buy more live rock? <Would help, yes> And if so, where can I purchase it at your site? <Mmm, we don't sell anything (other than the books, pix we produce...)> Here is my tank set up. Standard 55 gallon 80lb live sand 260w power compacts with 130w 10,000k and 130w actinic Tidepool I Mag Drive 7 AquaC Urchin with Maxijet And its inhabitants: 2 Damsels Clarkii Clownfish Fire Shrimp 3 peppermint shrimps 2 conch 1 brittle star 15 blue leg hermits 10 red leg hermits 15 Astrea snails 2 emerald crabs bubble coral Maxima Clam Pipe Organ LTA Rusty gorgonian Various feather dusters Thanks for all your help! <I would keep an eye on the anemone, be ready to siphon/vac it out if/when it dies... something is awry in your system chemically... I would remove the lava rock precautionarily (is this a word?),  <<Not that I can find (other than a specific use in translated online Islamic texts), but we get your meaning.  Marina>> and look into adding some new LR to replace it. Bob Fenner> 

Cyanobacteria and DSB Hi, I have a question about Cyanobacteria in my tank (120gal, ~5" Southdown play sand DSB, ~70lbs or rock, close loop circulation Anthony's design powered by Dolphin AquaSea pump ~2,100 gal/hour, built-in glass overflow Anthony's design with a sump and Iwaki 20RLT pump, 2x 250W MH Ushio 10,000K + 2x 65W Actinic PC, TurboFlotor 1000 skimmer, home made CO2 calcium reactor using Knop Korallith).  Currently I have what I believe a very low bio-load in the tank (one juvenile Six Line Wrasse, one juvenile Banggai Cardinal, Cleaner Shrimp, Cerith snails (a lot), a few blue legged hermit crabs, ~10 SPS frags and some softies).  I should also mention that I use RO/DI water (membrane, sediment filters and GAC replaced around X-mass) for water changes 5gal/week (it sits for a few days in a bucket with a powerhead and then I add the salt and after it sits for another day or so then I use it for water changes) <All good thus far...> and that I do check the specific gravity, temperature and pH before I use it.  I run activated carbon 24x7 and I've been always using Black Diamond. In the recent month it was somewhat difficult to obtain and so I've used other brands as well (Pro-Carb & Kent Reef Carbon).  I have been changing about a half of the carbon every other week and cleaning the sump about once a month. Over past two month I've been observing small patches of Cyano spreading over the sand bed. <Happens> My lights (bulbs are less than 6 month old) go on at 12:30pm and go off at 11:30pm in the evening.  Early in the morning I can't almost see any Cyano but as the day goes on it is more and more visible. <Well stated> When the lights are turned on the Cyano starts slowly disappearing with the exception of the places that are brightly illuminated.  By the time the lights go off a lot of it disappears.  I've started being VERY careful about how much I feed the fish (once a day with a turkey baster trying to feed as fast as they can catch the food to minimize any food being uneaten).  I'm feeding a home made frozen food containing some Nori, scallops, shrimp, krill, brine shrimp and Selcon. Since the Cyano appeared I started executing water changes more frequently (about 5 gallons 3 times per week) and cleaning the skimmer collection cup 2 times a week.  While checking all the equipment trying to identify the culprit I noticed that the hose that feeds the skimmer with the raw water was partially blocked by the calcium deposits that accumulated on its walls and subsequently got loose.  I guess this can explain why the water quality deteriorated and DOC concentration increased. <... would think it would decrease> I have noticed that about a month ago, cleaned up the skimmer and the hoses immediately and have been checking it once a week since.  I had also some issues with the calcium reactor and the pump re-circulating the water within the reactor.  This lead so drop in the alkalinity and Ca levels, which I have tried to correct for a short period of time with dosing both Seachem's Reef Advantage Calcium (calcium oxide) and Kalk shots (as advocated by Anthony in his book).  Once I got the necessary equipment, I fixed the Ca reactor and phased out any other dosing.  Now the alkalinity is around 3.77 meq/L (Salifert), Ca 360ppm (Seachem), Total NO3 Nitrate ion concentration is below 12.5mg/L (Tetra), Phosphate is not detectable (Seachem) and the pH is between 8.1 (morning) and 8.2 (evening) (Seachem). <Again, all sounds good> I tried to vacuum some of the Cyano from the surface of the sand bed with as little of the sand as possible and noticed that about ? inch thick top layer of the sand is bound (not fused) together.  It can be broken up easily with the hose I used to vacuum the Cyano or with the scraper.   I acknowledge that my water quality has not always been perfect (I used to have a yellow tang and used to feed more heavily) but I think that it has improved a lot in the last two month.  However, it seems that my effort is not stopping the slow progress of the Cyano.  I have been reading various articles on the net about DSB lately and notice a few that talk about so called "crash" of DSBs and how Cyano problem is indicative of such crash.  Is my DSB crashing? <Doubtful, no>   Can I recover from this problem or is the DSB doomed to be completely replaced? I will be looking forward to your reply. Regards, Petr <Mmm, well, you really don't have a "problem" as far as I can see, evaluate from the above... transient Cyano/BGA is common... to nearly unavoidable, given the make-up, maintenance you list... There are a few things you can do to speed up the "centering" of the system (that will occur in time...). You might convert part or all of the sump to a lighted refugium, with purposeful macroalgae... You could upgrade your skimmer... You might add an ozonizer... Or "just relax" and not sweat this small, likely transient occurrence. Bob Fenner>

- Cyano and Live Rock - Hi guys! <Hello.> I have a major problem. <Ok.> I went through a complete re-set up about 4 months ago on my 90 gal saltwater tank after a Cyano (the red pretty kind) outbreak got completely out of control - (I didn't know what it was until it was beyond repair).  Everything was going perfectly, until about 3 weeks ago.  I noticed the blue-green Cyano was starting up again.  I did the siphoning, and 15% water changes for the first two weeks, but missed last week.  Anyway, my concern is this - I'm going to be leaving for 10 days in about 3 weeks (I'm getting married) and fear that my efforts now will be in vain, as the Cyano will take control once again while I'm gone. <Quite possible.> I have started to scrub the live rock and have put it into 10 and 20 gal quarantine tanks until I can get all of the rock scrubbed.  I am running a filter on each tank.  My question is, is this basically the same as re-curing the live rock?  Or, as long as the water conditions are acceptable, is it ok to put the rock back into the main tank once it's all cleaned up? <I'd put it back in the tank.> I have a SeaLife wet/dry, 1 Hagan 802, 1 SEIO 620 (not impressed with this one), 1 ViaAqua 305 and 1 Rio 180.  I thought this was great circulation, but apparently it's not. <Most reefs see millions of gallons of water flow through every minute - is hard to replicate this in a fish tank, so the more the better.> I also, have a Seaclone 100 protein skimmer.  I know, junk, but it was a gift from my fianc?  It produces a cup of dark gunk about every 2-3 days. <Production of something is better than nothing.>  I am running PolyFilter and carbon.  Will be trying Phos-Zorb starting tonight.  Any other suggestions to get me through the days I'll be gone, or is it a losing battle? <Are you putting any other additives in this tank - food, iodine... stuff like that? I'd cut back for now if so.> Any help you can provide would be much appreciated.  Keep up the great work! Bride to be in Florida. <Cheers, J -- >

Cyano Bacteria Hello WWM crew, <Hello> Thank you for your assistance in the past, you have been helpful all the times and I appreciate that as much as every one that interacts with you. Wish you well :-) <Thank you> Here is my situation this time, over the last 3 months or so, my 55g reef aquarium has been infested with red slime. I read a bunch of articles on line at WWM and also visited pet stores to try and get the situation under control. When the lights come on in the morning there is almost no trace of slime on the rocks, but there is string algae less than 1/10th of an inch in most places and some (1/4th ) of the aquarium has a little than 1/4th of an inch of string algae or hair algae. About 2 hours after the lights are on, all the sand surface starts turning red and the algae on the rocks too start to turn red. In 3 to 3 and half hours every rock is covered with slime and all the hermit crabs have slime on their shells… it is ooohhh uuuuhhh uuggghhhlyyy. At first I was told that there was not enough circulation, so I removed 4 little power heads and put a couple of powerful power heads (with quick filters) and made sure that I have a wave maker to help and now when a food grain is inside and is not immediately eaten, you can see it turn through every rock and come back out and go back in and back out, but typically anything I drop is eaten in a flash. Yes that is one thing I have done… is reduced feeding to one time a day since I was given to understand that more food caused more waste and by products which fed the red slime. I have reduced day light hours for the aquarium by having a timer, I have replaced my 6 months old compacts with new ones. I have I have introduced a bunch of critters to help. I have used two different type of products to get rid of it and I have changed water several times trying different methods including 70%, followed by 50% water changes. Sea water purchased at Petco was used for all the large volume changes to make sure the balance is right and PH is good. Also cleaned the filter media in canister filters and even replaced filter media at one week interval alternately. I have always changed water every 2 to 3 weeks… recently I have done as many as 3 changes a week, but I limit it to about 20 to 30% change a week. Last night I was reading an article here at WWM and I was wondering if I have too much filtration? An article was saying if you have so much live rock you do not need all the filtration… I need to find out what to do so I can get the situation under control. Following is composition, mix and set up of my 55gallon (hex front Oceanic) reef system LIVE STOCK: AT LEAST 50lb live rock teaming with life! 1 Star polyp corral patch about 3"x4" 1 Sand sifting star fish 1 Condi (pink) anemone 1 Long finger anemone 2 Green Chromis 1 Large hermit crab 12 little red hermits and blue foot hermits 5 Large turbo snails 1 Pepper mint (I think) shrimp to take care and keep the Aiptasia under control (about 3 Aiptasia in stock, oops.. its now two.. one got eaten last night) 2 Cherry red crabs 1 Yellow tang (small) 1 Percula clown (Nemo?) 1 Black devil (he is really a devil… fights every thing and every one in aquarium except the tang and the dotty back) 1 Blue devil 1 Neon dotty back (this guy even attacks crabs and any thing new in aquarium) 2 Anemones from Galveston beach Bunch of little critters, feather dusters (tiny on rocks), and some kind of shrimp biggest less than ? of inch and comes out only at night, lives in rocks, other life forms on rocks not yet identified and tiny star fish etc. HARDWARE and SET UP At least 50lb live rock 3" deep live sand bed, 2" deep crushed shells etc, little rocks etc 1 Oscillating/sweeping head (Zoo Med PS-20) 2 Power heads (on natural wave maker) AquaClear 50 & 70 (each has quick filter attached to it with 2 bags of Algone, as of Sunday 22nd) 1 Large prism back pack protein skimmer 2 canister filters (filled as recommended by manufacturer but no active carbon at moment)  - 1 EHEIM 2213  - 1 FLUVAL 303 48" Coralife lighting (2 Actinic Blue, 2 White and 3 moon lights on timer. 11 hours day and 13 hours night) Temp 76.5 to 78.7 Water chemistry is fine, everything is perfect except for nitrites which are not at zero but at acceptable levels. I know you would have some kind of suggestion and I hope I have given you enough information to go by. Any help is appreciated as usual and thank you in advance. <Samir, I suspect you have a problem with your make-up water.  You didn't mention whether you are using an R/O unit.  I would do tests (nitrate, phosphate) on your tap water.  If you have a pure water place in your town, have them do a TDO (Total dissolved organics) test on the water.  I suggest placing a unit of Chemi-Pure in each of your canister filters.  Make sure you change/clean the pads weekly on the filters including the quick filters.  Also read more here.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm James (Salty Dog)> Sincerely Samir

Erythromycin [ Maracyn ] use as a Cyano control hi, I have a 120 gal reef tank and have had trouble with this Cyanobacteria for a while now. can I use erythromycin [ Maracyn ] to treat the water . I run two venturi skimmers a UV sterilizer and live rock as my filtration. a 500w halide lights currently rationing light to keep down the problem. kind regards Ian  [UK] <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/maralgcidefaqs.htm re chemical algaecides and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/antibiofaqs.htm re antibiotic use. Not a good idea... much better alternatives exist. Bob Fenner>

Cyanobacteria Hello Bob & Crew, I started to see red algae growing on my glass and substrate. I believe it to be Cyanobacteria. I had read as many articles on your site as possible and have changed a few things. I have a 90 gallon tank circulation powered my an external pump with two 1200 Maxi jet powerheads. I have tried the following: Cranking up my protein skimmer, poly filters, tap water filter (It's the cheap one you buy from Doctor Forster and Smith) for make up water and top offs. I know it's probably not the best filter but it's all I can afford right now. I am very careful on my feeding (only two fish in the tank right now) and a Phosphate remover just in case. I guess my question is do you think I need more circulation in the tank?  << Yep, just what I was thinking. >> I have the power heads going on in alternate times. It seems when I have them on at the same time it blows my soft corals all over the place (I have tried setting them in so many areas of the tank but the current is still too strong when they are on at the same time?). << I say blow those corals around.  Or maybe just move more water but not such direct current.  Like adding a spray bar in front of the powerheads. >> Or do you just doesn't cut it? Also have a wet/dry with rock on one side and the skimmer on the other side. Do you think adding some sort of algae to the side with the rock would help at all? << Adding algae is always a good idea. >> Sorry about all the questions. It just seems like when I correct one problem another one pops up. It's so frustrating. << And will happen forever.  Just kidding.  Maybe look into a Seaswirl or a SCWD unit as well. >> Ahhhh now I feel better. THANKS! <<  Blundell  >>

Cyanobacteria problems I have researched all day and I am now more confused than before I started researching... << Happens to me all the time. >> I have been battling 3 month cycle of Cyanobacteria.... I think it is due to excessive phosphates in my source water, which is usually RO from a local pet store. I live in an agricultural area, so I think that it may be fertilizer runoff into the aquifers etc. I can't quote the source, but I heard that Cyano dominates when the PO4 (phosphate?) to NO3 (nitrate) ratio is >1,, i.e. that P04 > NO3 ... but unsure how that is measured (in moles? ion concentration? ionization potential?, << I think it is safer to say that Cyano dominates when both are present, regardless of the ratio. >> etc)  but I haven't been able to find a reliable P04 test  (and the good adolescent folks at Petco don't strike me as Analytical Chemists) so I don't have a reliable test on my source water to determine if it is the source of the P04. Therefore do I need the additional Deionization step (when I scrape up enough $$$) when I can buy such a device? I am at a tossup between the Kold Ster Il product or a Kent  Hi-s...  I know your staff has "approved" the KSI during previous correspondence; any preference between these? << I like Kold Steril units, but I'm not sure if that will fix your problem. >> My intent to control the PO4 was to obtain a Caulerpa (I think mexicana looks the best) << Yes, great idea.  Much better way to go. >> and introduce it into the tank. upon further reading at WWM, all have advised to place macroalgae into a sump or refugium. Which brings me to what is the difference between a sump and refugium? << A sump is the tank you put below the display tank.  A refugium is a type of sump that houses algae and rock and sponge.  Some sumps are not refugiums, because maybe they just have a skimmer or float top off, but no refugium. >> I have seen some small hang on the back types (that I have so far tried to avoid), although I also have a hang on the back filter (whisper 60) and a modified Sea-clone 100, that works better than it did, but still no match for most... I also have a 10 gal tank that I could probably shove under my current cabinet (should the floor not collapse, it is a mere 55 gallons, with say 75# if live rock).  << Hang on the back refugia are great for small tanks, but for 55gal and larger I would put a refugium sump in. >> I have viewed several examples through the links to Ozreef.org, but I am still uncertain as to any significant differences, between a sump and refugium... << Terms used interchangeably for the most part.  But a refugium is a type of sump. >> I don't have current water parameters, although I finally have a Brittlestar   that lived through the acclimation (the LFS kids kept pulling the BS's out of the water, and apparently exposing them to some type of airborne infection/bacteria <<=== is what I heard from the LFS where I got my Brittlestar that remains living... and after my water changes (10% every 2-3 weeks, frequency has slowed due to my uncertainty of the source RO) several Cerith snails lay massive clutches of eggs,, but always seem to get eaten... So after this much rambling, I guess I am looking for verification on   *whether I need a DI process on my source water to eliminate the phos. << No. >> *whether Cyano thrives when PO4 > NO3 or if that is just some crap << May be true, but I don't know about that. >> *any major differences between a sump & refugium; or a link that will explain, perhaps a diagram, etc. << Lots of places to search.  Try www.utahreefs.com/forum or www.reefs.org. >> * the staffs preference between the KOLD Ster-il product or a Kent HI-S system. << I like Kold Steril, but find it unnecessary. >> *verification on the airborne bacteria theory thank you very much, and please pardon my ignorance Ben Ward <<  Blundell  >>

 Chemical control of BGA how  do I get rid of  red slime and are the products  safe  for  fish and inverts <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and beyond, the articles and FAQs archived (linked, in blue, at top) on Blue Green Algae/Cyanobacteria, Chemical Controls... the use of antibiotics as algicides is NOT encouraged. Bob Fenner>

Why is Cyanobacteria bad? I think that red looks nice. And Mandarin feeding Hello and thanks a lot for your help. I have 3 questions: <Okay> 1.-  I've read all your Cyanobacteria FAQs and I've read it's bad and that you must get rid of it, that it's a bacteria and not an algae, <Mmm, actually kind of both> and yet it does keep ammonia low and everything fine.  I'm a beginner and am trying to establish some Caulerpa and other "plant" in my tank, which means some of it dies and this red velvet appears (which I don't find offending), When I see the "leaf" fall and starts looking white, I take it away. I've read all the FAQs several times and don't get why is it bad? <These organisms are "bad" on two counts. Mainly their presence indicates unhealthful conditions for other types of life (invertebrates, fishes, algae...), but also BGA can/do produce toxic by-products that can mal-affect and limit the growth of other life. Folks don't need to panic and clean their tanks out completely, select a poison to try to limit, eliminate BGA if they see it, but should be aware as to possible root causes and seek to limit them... sort of like the mentality of turning a large ship with a small rudder> 2.-I started my tank 2 months ago, with collected saltwater and plants, live sand and live rock from my beach (yes I've read this is not the best) but I'm planning on keeping this simple and affordable.  I have lots of mini-critters (less than 1.5mm), 5 little shrimp (8mm) and about 15 Gammarus/copepods (2-5mm) (which I have seen at night pumps off and a hand lamp placed near the glass) <Neat> Thanks for your advice on this idea. Now, I got a green mandarin last week, my idea is to have a seahorse tank in the near future, and I wanted to begin with a fish with the same food demands but less picky. <Good idea> That's the only fish I have so far in my 40 gal tank, and it seems to be eating all day long, however I don't see anything on the rock when he sucks the water in (no I'm not blind, and I do use a magnifying glass), and I saw him spit back a worm once -one of the many times he sucked from the sand.  So my question is how big is the food for a mandarin? <Often very small... and nearly transparent... AND a great deal more and different types of food organisms come out during the night...>   He looks healthy enough but after reading all you FAQs wouldn't like to starve him at all.  Could I send you a picture just to be sure he's not thin? <Sure> I did see the picture from Lorenzo in your photo section but I don't see where is the "thin part" supposed to be, if you could add an arrow to the part to see it would be great! <It's the underside... "belly" area along the second half of the body. You'll see it be hollow, concave if it's thin.> 3.-As I stated before I'm beginning a biotope system, in the basics only (water, rocks, sand, phytoplankton and zooplankton) and plan to add the seahorses (don't tell me I need a bigger tank I've ordered my tank and will be a 100 gallon tall tank-this is just my experimentation tank-soon to be refugium) and maybe one more green mandarin, I've been feeding a little bit of brine shrimp too, but I'm afraid that it could take over the current critters I have and unbalance my system. <Mmm, no... Brine/Artemia don't really live that long, reproduce in the salinities of marine aquariums>   What do you think, should I quit brine shrimp and keep with what he's been eating or could both critters happily coexist? <I suggest a mix of the two> Thanks a lot and congratulation on your SUPER WEBSITE! Rogelio <Thank you for being part of it. Bob Fenner>

Red slime eater?  11/9/04 I've read that a Foxface will eat nuisance algae.  Will it eat red slime?  <No> Will any other fish eat red slime?  <None with much gusto> Which hermits or snails will eat it?  <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and the related articles and FAQs files (linked, in blue, at top)> I seem to get an outbreak a couple of times a year.  I have treated my tank with UltraLife Red Slime Remover with good results (red slime gone, coralline algae stays, fish unaffected), <Things are not always as they appear> but I would prefer a natural alternative.  FYI, I have a 125 FOWLR with 25 gal sump (usually filled about halfway), 130 pounds live rock, AquaC EV120 skimmer, no other filtration, 1500 gph circulation, 6ft PC SmartLight (192W 50/50) on for 10 hours a day.  Water changes 10 gals every 10 days with top offs as needed, all using tap water aerated for 1-2 days.  Usual temp 77, SG 1.017, ammonia and nitrite zero, nitrates 10-20.  Any comments greatly appreciated. <Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Red bubbles Hi Bob <Linda. Sorry for the delay in response> I just love your web site, I have read for hours and hours and I still do not know what my problem is.  We have decided to take out the bio balls from our wet/dry filter and put in a refugium and the deep sand bed.  We had about 1 1/2 inch  to 2 inches of crushed coral and just put the sand on top.  We probably have 2 inches of the sand on top in some areas maybe 3 inches.  We changed 2 weeks ago and our nitrates were above 100 at the time.   <Yeeikes!> The nitrates have gone down some but we have a bad problem with bubbles all over the tank.  In the sand it is clumping and some of it floats as a clump to the top of the water.  It is red with bubbles.  It is also all over the corals.  My husband thinks this is normal and not to worry but I am so worried. <Me too... this is very likely an "outbreak" of Blue Green Algae (aka Cyanobacteria)... born of excess nutrient availability... and in profusion, BGA can be trouble...>   Should my sand be deeper.  We also did not pick up the rock we just pushed the sand around the  rock is that OK?  Please let me know if this is part of the cycle of the new sand or is there something we need to do?   Thanks Linda <I would do a few things here. One, change a good deal of the water (like a quarter) while gravel vacuuming. Two, place some chemical filtrant in your filter flow path... A few other possible avenues to speed up the die-off of the BGA are detailed here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm Please read this article over and the related files (linked, in blue, at top) as I'm sure you know the layout already. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Red bubbles Bob <Linda> Hi, sorry to bother you again about my blue-green algae. <Not a bother>   We did the 30 gal water change that you suggested, we changed our carbon, we used a soft brush and brushed all the red slime off all the rocks and it looked very encouraging.  Then today the next day the red bubbles are all back. <Yes... simple organisms can have very fast "doubling rates"... if the conditions that allowed the BGA to proliferate have not been substantially altered it can grow right back! As you well know>   I talked to a LFS today and he sold me some stuff called Maracyn.  It says is made out of 200 Mg erythromycin activity per tablet. <Yes... an antibiotic first packaged and sold in the aquarium interest by Mardel Lab.s back in 1969. I was one of their technical liaisons at one time...> We have a 125gal tank and he told me to use 5 tablets every other day for 3 times.  I am just double checking with you because this stuff says it is for freshwater fish, Fin and tail Rot and body fungus.  Is this ok for me to use? <No... or should I state, "not really"... all the algae (and many other micro-organism groups) dying off at once can cause huge havoc in your system... including such a decline in overall water quality that you might lose all your livestock. There are several references to this posted on WWM. Start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgcidefaqs.htm and on to the many linked files (in blue, at top). You will find a mix of results, but one general opinion... there are better, safer ways to "treat" these situations than chemical means.>> He said he has used it for years and learned it from a biologist.  Is it going to hurt my corals, and my clams?. <Very likely yes>   I am so discouraged right now.  Every day my algae gets worse and I will wait till I hear from use to use this stuff. Thanks Linda <Linda, please read over the article on BGA posted on WWM... seek to remedy the cause/s of your BGA proliferation here... enhanced water quality... through better skimming, chemical filtrant use (do you have excess nitrates, phosphate?), perhaps the addition of purposeful macro-algae, a better, larger means of denitrification... many roads exist for curtailing pest algae growth... chemical means are the last avenue to attempt... and are fraught with danger. Read until you understand what you are doing THEN act my friend. Bob Fenner>

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

Cyanobacteria? Need more water flow/better skimming 10/23/04 Hello my name is Jay and I have a question about a black slime that has been killing certain zoanthid colonies that I purchased from a guy. <typically a lack of adequate water flow and/or needing more aggressive skimming (collecting at least several cups of dark skimmate every week> The zoos came poorly insulated and were cold. Most rocks survived but 2. They keep getting this black slime that starts on the rock as slides onto the polyps. It has killed about 60 polyps on 1 rock and wiped out the other. I have been doing coral dips with Seachem's coral dip. <fine company... but marginally useful technique/product IMO> Its mostly Iodine concentrate. This seems to help temporarily but the black slime will just reappear a couple days later and if I don't dip the rock the slime will kill polyps. <I expect that the movement/dipping is actually purging the slime (flow) more than the product> I cant vacuum or brush it off as this slime surrounds the polyps. What do I do? <flow, Joe... er, Jay> I don't want to lose that rock. It has a awesome Jewel box oyster the size of a silver dollar atta11111111tched to it. That makes it extra special but it does not enjoy the dip treatment. <adding ozone into a skimmer would be a tremendous benefit for this problem and the system overall. Do consider> Hopeless in Moses Lake Washington... Jay <hopeless as in sans beer? Aiiiieeeee!!! The inhumanity of it all! First the zoanthids... and now the beer. Oh, wait. Did you mean to say hopeless? My bad. :) Anthony... who is not sans beer.>

Cyano problem Thanks for you help, could you recommend a good hang on protein skimmer, if there is such a thing? <Yes. Look into the Aqua-C line. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimselfaqs.htm and beyond> I have no place to put one underneath.  Found your book.  From a link on your website, imagine that.  If it were a snake I'd be dead.  Anyway, already ordered it.  Thanks again. <You're sure to enjoy, gain by its reading. Bob Fenner>

Blue-Green (BGA) Slime algae (red too) What inverts eat Cyanobacteria? <very few... almost none. It is unpalatable to most and literally toxic to others> I have hermits blue legs turbo and Mexican snails and one or two emerald crabs. <some limited possibilities there... C. tricolor crabs, Turbo sp snails and some comb-toothed tangs. Not the emerald crabs though> None of them seem to interested in eating the stuff. Please help. Thanks, Peter <it is noxious if not toxic. And it would be better to treat the problem and not the symptom... do examine your nutrient export mechanisms... are you getting daily dark skimmate from your skimmer consistently? Do you thaw frozen food and decant the pack juice? Do you have very strong water flow to keep detritus in suspension, etc? A good skimmer alone can eradicate slime algae easily in 2 weeks or less. BGA is all about nutrient control and water flow. Please browse the ton of content on this subject in out wetwebmedia.com archives. Best regards, Anthony>

She's Been Slimed! (Red Slime Algae) Bob, <Scott F. with you today> I have recently moved from a 40 gal tank to a 75 gal. tank and then my problems began. I had been ich free for 8 months and with the move my fish got ick. (maybe because of the new live sand I added ) <A definite possibility. or perhaps a drop in temperature or other stress as a result of the move> I found out that my filter motor had died in my old tank, (must have been for a couple weeks) So, in my new tank I started out with a new and bigger filter (Fluval)(all new media). Two of my fish died from ich. The ich seems to no longer be a problem, but red slime algae is quickly spreading. I had it on one rock, which I cleaned and now it has moved to my sand. I tried removing it from my sand and then left for three days and it is worse than before. The rest of my live rock doesn't seem to have it yet. The only fish I have left are : hippo tang, pajama cardinal, a cleaner shrimp and fire shrimp, and blue-leg crabs. <Not a heavy bioload, so you're okay there> I also have a protein skimmer. <Good! Make sure that the skimmer is adjusted so that it's removing a few cups of dark, yucky skimmate weekly. Red algae (Cyanobacteria) control is all about nutrient control and export, and a well-functioning protein skimmer is your first line of defense> I read a lot of your articles on the web and one guy was changing water all the time and using phos-sorb, etc. You told him to get more live rock. Should I do that since I started with a new filter and media? The tank has been set-up since the middle of November. <Essentially, live rock functions as a natural biological filter in an aquarium. The animals and bacteria residing in the rock will utilize and process nutrients available to them. However, they also produce waste products themselves. I think that live rock is certainly a great addition, along with a deep sand bed (3-6 inches), but you need to get a handle on this nutrient problem> Would I introduce more ick with the new live rock? I want to get more fish of course. My hippo hasn't shown signs of ick since Dec. 10th. Would it help to get more fish to use up the nutrients? <Umm...no! Fish are actually a source of metabolic waste products (i.e; algae food!), so increasing your bioload is certainly not the answer! Let's solve this nutrient problem with a four-pronged approach: First, perform regular water changes (I like small, 5% changes twice weekly) with quality source water (RO/DI is ideal) to help reduce buildup of organics in the tank. Make sure the skimmer is cranking out lots of dark junk from the water, as mentioned previously. Third, consider employing a deep sand bed to help process organics. Deep sand beds have been proven to enhance the denitrification process, which will greatly improve conditions within the tank. Finally, utilize some form of chemical filtration (either activated carbon or PolyFilter, or both) in your system, and replace the media at regular intervals. I am not a big fan of the so-called "phosphate sponges", etc., as these are utilized by most hobbyists as a "crutch", in place of solid basic husbandry procedures. Many of these products have a limited useful live in the system, and if measures are not taken to reduce the source of the problem, it will re-occur continuously.> You had also told the guy to leave his lights on. I thought leaving lights on too long caused green algae problems which I have also started getting. <Well, lighting in and of itself is not a problem. Lighting in conjunction with excessive nutrients is a recipe for nuisance algae growth!> I have a compact fluorescent light with a 10,000 ultra daylight bulb. I have it on for 8 hrs a day. My old lights were half daylight and half actinic. I could still use them on the front of my tank but I was afraid of getting more algae growth. <I'm not concerned about running the lights. Just take measures to reduce the nutrient levels> Oh, I also use RO water but rinse my filters in tap water. I am getting the red slime algae and green algae on my glass and it hard to remove, I never had that problem in my old tank. Thanks for all your help, Cheryl <Again, Cheryl- it's really all about nutrient control and export. Do review your basic husbandry procedures, and alter them as needed to bring about positive results. Be patient! Do test your water for nitrates, alkalinity, Ph, phosphate, etc. If you know what's going on in your water, you'll have a much better handle on how to solve the problems. Hang in thee- read the algae control FAQs on the wetwebmedia.com site. You can do it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

High Nitrates and Cyanobacteria Issues Hey guys, <Hello Jeff!> I seem to have a problem here with high nitrates (running 20 to 30 ppm) in my 215 gallon reef. I have made very frequent water changes in the last month with good RO/DI water, but that seems to only lower it for a day or 2. There is no obvious dead or decaying stuff. Nitrite is 0 and ammonia is 0.5. I have about 100 blue leg hermits seemingly very busy, also 4 brittle stars, and 50 or so Astreas (although we seem to have lost a dozen or so lately). What the heck do you think is going on here? <There are a couple of possibilities: over stocking, over feeding, lack of skimming, but one thought in particular came to mind, how deep is your sand bed now. They tend to dissolve and after a while not support the same amount of denitrification we have come to rely on.> I am going to throw some Halimeda and Caulerpa in the sump tonight, any other thoughts? <Turn that skimmer up, double check your new salt water, and watch all other aspects of proper husbandry.> Also, in a separate system, I am experiencing mucho Cyano (I think) on the sand bed, despite very low no2, no3, and nh3. Ideas here? <I am leaning towards something wrong with your new water. Perhaps your RO/DI needs some maintenance (prefilters or mixed resin bed need changing). Thanks and HAPPY HOLIDAYS, Jeff Yonover <The same to you guys! -Steven Pro>

Beating Cyanobacteria Hey there Mr. Fenner... I've got a problem. <Scott F. here for you tonight> No, I'm not talking about reef obsession (wait, i have that too. oh well...); it's this stupid Cyanobacteria! I can't kill it and I've done everything. I'm sure you get this same e-mail from someone about once a week, but I really have done everything in my power. Is it just a curse from the Fates or something? <You'd think, huh? It can be eliminated, I assure you!> I've lightened up on feeding, lightened up on bioload, skimmed more aggressively, increased oxygen, increased water flow, used PHOSGUARD, used PolyFilter, used carbon, I'm using RO water... I just can't figure it out. The tank is a 20H w/ ~30# LR, a 3" DSB (hence zero ammonia/nitrates/nitrites), 175w 10k MH @ 12.5 hrs a day, skimmer is a BakPak2 w/ Maxijet 900 mod, mech. filter- TetraTec 150, temp is 82 and sg is 1.025. The Cyano is golden brown in some places and darker brown in others. I'm thinking the spectrum on my MH bulb may have slowly shifted towards the red end because It's really the only other thing I can come up with. I'm not sure of the bulb's age since I bought it used (previous owner said 6 moss and that was in Sept, but who really knows?) so I'm going to get a new bulb for myself for Christmas. So, anything else I could try? A little bit of Maracyn is starting to sound like an easy quick-fix... (ok, I'd NEVER do that!!) Thanks!! <Sometimes, it seems that despite our best efforts, this stuff hangs on. It really is all about sustained nutrient control. If you keep doing the things that you are doing, and perform regular, small (like 5% twice weekly) water changes with high quality water, feed very carefully, and avoid extra additives of any kind (i.e; "trace elements", vitamins, etc.), and physically remove the algae, you will see a reduction in this algae. Keep those mechanical filters and the skimmer clean. Just be consistent, relentless, and careful; in these practices, and you will see it go away. You can do it...it just takes time. Hang in there!>

Seahorses in new book, Cyano, Dead fish USPO Hi again everyone! This is fourhand2 from the boards. I've got a couple of questions... first, I can't wait for the invert book to come out. it really looks like it's gonna be something really special! <Thank you!> Here's the question-- in the fish book (I guess coming out in 2004?), <It will likely be the next in the series.> are seahorses gonna be covered? <Yes> You probably know from the boards that I'm pretty in to my seahorse corral. in CMA, they weren't mentioned at all and seahorse tanks are really growing in popularity lately. there's a ton of knowledge floating around about them, but really hardly any published material. heck, I'd even be willing to do some research and write something up if you guys aren't planning on doing it :D seahorses really are amazing fish, and they're no more difficult than any other captive bred fish. <Yes, the advent and availability of captive raised individuals has increased the likelihood of success with these magnificent creatures.> ok, question number two: I've had an ongoing battle with Cyanobacteria in my 20 gal tank for a few months now. it went away completely for about a month back in September, but it's back again. before it went away, it was the nasty dark red (almost black) stuff. now it's a golden brown color, and it's not nearly as bad. it's just kind of a coating on everything. I've taken a lot of corrective measures... I created a deep sand bed (it's actually working!! nitrates measured zero when i tested on Sunday!) and I increased circulation. one thing that's pushed me back a bit is my skimmer. i dropped it on a tile floor when I was cleaning it last week and it cracked a piece of the acrylic divider inside of the "box" (it's a bakpak2). well, I got that fixed with some welding stuff from home depot. I figured while it was out I'd replace the Rio (which gets clogged incredibly easily) with a maxi 900. I ordered a venturi kit from premium aquatics, so it ought to be here by Saturday. so, that'll take out some nasties and it'll increase oxygen. I also picked up some PhosGuard today (I know Zo swears by the stuff) and I put about 2 tbsp in a filter bag in my power filter. lets hope that helps a bit.. I'll test the phosphates on Friday or Saturday. anything else I should try? <If you are not already, I am a big fan of purified water (RO or DI). What most people send in phosphate absorbing resins, increased water changes, blah, blah, blah, they could save money, hassle, and time with a RO unit.> oh, that reminds me, while we're on the subject of nuisance algae, my glass gets covered with algae incredibly quickly!! I have to clean it every day, when so many other people complain about having to clean it once a week. is there something wrong? <Yep, same nutrients fueling one are fueling the other.> I'm kind of happy about it because it's like free phytoplankton every day of the year! final question: I had a red scooter blenny who I found dead a few days ago :( he was eating PE Mysis like a little piggy, so I don't know what happened. I preserved him in some alcohol, so is there any way I could mail him to you guys for a necropsy? <Why do you keep him.> I know it's kind of creepy, but I think you'd have a much better idea than I would. is that possible? <Possible, but I don't really want it.> I just want to prevent anything else from dying if I can.. I've lost three fish in the past 2 weeks due to unknown causes, and they're the only fish I've lost in the year that I've been in this hobby aside from a Firefish that I got ages ago that died three days after I got it from ick... it's harder losing something for no apparent reason than if it were to have ick or velvet, you know? <I understand, but you should be able to deduce the reason. Start with a battery of water quality tests and progress from there.> it makes you feel helpless and vulnerable... well, thanks for all your help! you know, so many of us wouldn't make it in this crazy hobby if it wasn't for you five or ten guys that answer all of our questions!! -will <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Red Algae Attacks! I have a 150 gallon salt water tank and within two or three days after it is cleaned red algae starts appearing on the bottom of the tank and within a week everything is covered with the red algae and it is very unsightly.  Is there a solution?  Thanks, Mike Kazacos <Well, mike- red algae (Cyanobacteria) is usually indicative of high nutrient levels. The important thing is to get to the root of the problem when dealing with such a growth. Water changes, aggressive protein skimming (make sure the skimmer yanks at least 2 cups a week of yucky black stuff), good quality source water, and careful feeding are all important factors in winning your war on this algae. Be sure to check out the many FAQs on problem algae on the wetwebmedia.com site. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Green Algae  Hello all, I'd like to wish everybody a happy day. <Same to you my friend.> I have a couple of questions for you guys.  I have a 90 gallon tank w/ 4 bulb 96 watt compact florescent lights on about 10 hr. on timer, canister filter, ammonia-0, nitrite-0, GH-2,KH-5, Iron 1ppl, phosphorous 0 using Phosguard, pH 6.7 controlled with CO2 injection. Live plants  thriving and doing well. Water changes done with RO water. <sounds like you are on top of things.> Tank has been set up for about 2 months now.  I had a problem with what looked like some green cottony looking algae.  After reading your articles on algae I purchased some Otocinclus (4) and 4 red platys.  They took excellent care of that problem in nothing flat I am grateful to you guys for the info.  Now I have another algae looks like long green threads coming from the ends of my plant leaves.  The otos and platys wont touch the stuff any ideas? <yup, sounds like Cyano. Freshwater, Saltwater, it does not discriminate http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm > Also I took my bubble counter and diffuser out of the tank yesterday because some red slime was clogging the diffuser and I wanted to clean it. I came home today and found the pH had risen to 7.6 from 6.8 I use only RO water to do water changes and cannot figure out what is driving my pH through the roof like this? <Without knowing the parameters of your source water, I would say that removing the diffuser would definitely affect your PH.> I put the CO2 back together and it has started to bring it down but I noticed that it almost constantly runs to keep the pH down. Any Ideas? <test the source water.> As always you have no Idea how much I thank you for being there to help out us beginners.   <beginner? you sound like a straight Pro.> God bless. Sincerely, Philip <Best Regards, Gage>

A Study In Scarlet (Part III)... Scott, <Inspector Scott F. here again> It's me the Cyano sleuth again (haha). First of all thanks for all of your help and your patience. You suggested I up my circulation, I have tried that. The tank is 20 gallons, and I have 290 gallons/hour of total circulation between two circulators plus the skimmer adds more.  Do you think I need more yet? <Sounds pretty good!> On another hand I did a 2 gal water change today, and do one weekly!  Need to keep things in order.  I have a question on the recommendation you made on water changes.  Do you recommend I do two 1 gallon changes per week, or just do a 2 gallon every week (which is my maintenance now)? <I'd do two 1 gallon changes a week. This really helps dilute potential organic build up before it gets a head start. Let's think about this one more time: Your maintenance and husbandry practices are sound, stocking level is good. We seem to have eliminated the "usual suspects". Time to look beyond the obvious, and maybe re-visit some basics one more time. Did you use un-cured live rock? Live sand, or dry sand? Fine or coarse? Even with good maintenance, coarse crushed coral substrates can trap detritus. Are you using a good salt mix? (I'm sure that you are) Not adding any "trace elements" or other additives? RO/DI membranes in good shape? Lighting is okay? Check the phosphate and nitrate one more time. Are the test kit reagents fresh? Dry or liquid? Make sure your test kits are accurate. Finally- do yourself a favor- relax and don't go crazy over this. You seem to be doing everything correctly. Sometimes, despite seemingly "optimal" conditions, something favors the growth of this stuff. If you persist with your maintenance habits, you will see it go away. Maybe on its own-maybe it will fade away as a result of some seemingly simple action on your part that we both overlooked here! You just don't know! But do re-check the things we discussed here, and I'm certain that you'll triumph! We al go through these kinds of trials in the hobby when starting a new system (or even in older tanks), so don't feel frustrated. Let me know how it works out. I'm sure that we'll both look on this and laugh at some point! Hang in there!> Thanks one more time!! Mike < My pleasure! Good Luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Cyano Attack! Pt.2 Scott, I have an AquaC Remora skimmer on the tank and it seems to pull out dark brown, a little lighter than black coffee, skimmate.  Over a three day period it will pull out about a quarter inch of liquid.  I empty it twice a week, sometimes three. I'm assuming its working well or would you suggest I contact the makers? <Good skimmer, good performance, and you're doing a great job maintaining it!> I have a few theories that may be contributing to the excess nutrients, if you could be so kind to give an opinion on them. <Sure, I'll try!> Since my Ca level is a bit low (415ppm) and my alk level is high (4.5meq/L) there is still some coralline die off that is occurring and adding nutrients to the water column.  However this seems odd because the ammonia, nitrite test zero, and the nitrates are low (under 5ppm). <Interesting theory, but I have my doubts...For some of the same reasons that you do, but this is not to say that there are some organics entering the system if algae is dying.> Because my Ca level is low, and the alk high, I stopped dosing Kalk water for top offs, now i just use RO. <Actually, your Ca level seems fine. In dosing Kalkwasser, the usual result is high calcium and depleted alkalinity. Anthony just posted a great article on the site about this dynamic. You should check it out!> I have heard that when Kalk is present in the water it bonds to phosphates in the water and therefore making it insoluble and the skimmer then skims it out.  However this is unusual too, because my phosphates are very near zero, if not zero. <Kalkwasser has been demonstrated to precipitate phosphates and enhance skimming performance- true> I have not been adding Ph buffer to let the alk fall.  Could a higher Ph help fuel the Cyano growth? <Actually, it's usually the opposite. Nuisance algae seem to proliferate at depressed pH levels. We're getting into some chemistry issues that you may want to read up on a bit further, particularly the pH and alkalinity dynamics. There could be some confusion here. Interesting stuff...but beyond the scope of this response! Sometimes it doesn't make sense why this stuff grows, but there is most assuredly a reason! > Other than these three possibilities, I'm dumbfounded!  Read Bobs book and the website and still no clue!  Any other books you can recommend on algae? Any by Bob and the crew? By the way Great book you guys wrote!! <I would refer you to Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation" for an excellent, understandable nuts-and-bolts approach to basic water chemistry, nutrient reduction, and water quality (among other good stuff). This book is an absolute "must have" for any reefer! Also, you may want to look for a new book on the topic by Julian Sprung as well. I glanced at it at MACNA and it looked interesting. Just some other possibilities that you may want to consider here- Cyanobacteria seems to grow in environments with lower water circulation/flow. You may want to kick up the circulation in your system with powerheads or other means. Drive out as much CO2 from your system as possible with vigorous aeration. Siphon the Cyano from wherever it is attached during your routine water changes. Keep a high, stable pH, and keep "doing what you're doing" as far as skimmer maintenance, etc. I love your approach and commend you on your efforts to find out the source of the Cyano. It's an amazing life form (just looks like crap in your tank!), but it will eventually go away, I can assure you, with your excellent husbandry practices and methodical approach. Be patient, don't get discouraged-don't fall for any "Red Algae Destroyer" cures in a bottle. Keep a "stiff upper lip" during this time. Good luck!> Thanks a bunch again, Mike <And thanks again for stopping by again!>

Cyano Attack! Hey Bob hope everything is well, <Scott F. in tonight!> I have a few questions for you today.   I have heard that a 4-6" DSB wont work in a 20 gallon tank.  Is this true?  I'd like to add more sand, i currently have 2.5" and want to add more to make 4" or so.  Is this a good move on my part? <I can't really see the reason why this wouldn't work. The principle of a deep sand bed is the same in a 1 gallon tank as it is in a 1000 gallon tank. The sand bed is a place to process nitrogenous wastes in a natural, efficient manner. Short reducing the amount of water in the tank, I don't see any harm in trying this technique. Just be very rigorous in your maintenance.> Secondly, I have an algae question.  I have a Cyano (red and green) outbreak in the tank the size of Texas.  The sand and the live rock is mostly covered with it.  I know I need to limit the nutrients going into the tank, which I do. <Good. That's the #1 thing that you can do to beat this stuff!> I use RO (tests 0 phosphates), I don't overfeed, I feed the Banggai Cardinal clam bits, usually about 2-3 bits, only what it will take.  I feed the 3 shrimp I have (2 peppermints, and one scarlet cleaner) by hand.  I feed each of them a piece of clam every 2 or so days.  They also clean up whatever the Cardinal doesn't get.  What can possibly be fueling this Cyano?  I have looked on the site and haven't found anything helpful.  I tested before writing this email and my phosphates are 0, nitrates 2.5 - 5ppm, Ph 8.0, Ca 415ppm, alk 4.5. <I assume you're referring to meq/L for the alkalinity?  Your pH could be slightly higher> Any clues on this? <Well, Cyanobacteria are a sign that excessive nutrient is in the water. Granted, the parameters that you have tested for all fall within acceptable ranges, but somewhere, nutrient is accumulating. Do you have a protein skimmer operating efficiently in your system? A good protein skimmer can remove a lot of dark skimmate a few times a week, and this will virtually assure you great water quality. How often do you change the water? Try a couple of small (like 5% tank volume) changes per week.> One last question I have is this.  I know new tanks (this tank is 2.5 months old) go through these algae blooms.  Do you know how long I can expect them to continue?  I'm not concerned with cleaning, I just scrape the glass when its covered, and I'm not trying to completely rid the tank of the outbreaks but I just want a ballpark time period of how long these outbreaks will continue on? Thanks a bunch! Mike <Well, Mike- it's impossible to say. I've actually seen tanks that were several years old that experience Cyano blooms from time to time. Generally, with good water quality and continued adherence to rigorous maintenance practices, you can expect it to subside within a few months. But- keep in mind that it can return with a lapse in water quality. Keep up the water changes and your good feeding practices. You will win in time! Just be patient! Good Luck!>

Pesky Algae! Good morning oh great reef gurus.  <Good Morning! Scott F. here this morning, certainly no guru, but awake and ready to go, nonetheless!> I have some questions about red slime algae, it's causes and solutions to get rid off it. I have a 135 gallon, 4 week old reef tank with about 100 lbs of live rock in it and a 2 inch sand bottom. Temperatures range from 78.5 to 79.5 on a daily basis. The refugium is 32 gallons, has about 20 lbs of live rock, a little sand on the bottom and is lit 24/7. I just added some Halimeda Incrassata, Penicillus dumetosus {Shaving brush} and Udotea {Merman's Fan} to it to try and keep algae growth in main tank under control. Livestock in main tank consists of some soft corals (lettuce coral, several mushrooms, brown polyps, one plate coral) 4 fish (Sailfin tang, Firefish goby, scooter blenny and an Anthias of some type), 4 shrimp, about 100 small hermit crabs and a dozen or so green crabs, about 100 snails, 2-3 Brittlestars and 4 sea cucumbers. Filtration is provided by the rock, a XL protein skimmer and carbon. The rock was acquired from an already established tank and in the 4 weeks this system has been set up, testing has not showed a single trace of ammonia, nitrite or nitrates...(yet). I had a problem (my mistake) with an extremely high calcium hardness level which I am reducing with water changes. I have been feeding Mysis shrimp and Formula II daily from the beginning. I use RO/DI water for water changes and make up water. Salt is Instant Ocean. Other than the calcium hardness problem, which was caused by overdosing with Seachem pH Buffer on my part, I haven't had any problems until now. There is red slime algae growing on the sand bottom to the point where gases seem to build up under it and it moves like it is breathing! I have siphoned it off the sand and rock but it keeps coming back so I am trying to find the cause of the problem. I believe it might be my lighting but I though I would check with you first. I am using 3 150 watt HQI (10,000K Ushios) fixtures for lighting, nothing else. One is on for 8.5 hours and the other two for 8 hours a day. I bought these lights used and was told that one bulb is practically new but the other two are older that 9 months. I am not sure which are the used ones, but the algae seems to grow more (although not exclusively) on one side of the tank which could be the side under the older bulbs. So here are my questions: 1) do I need to replace the old bulbs? If so, is there a way to distinguish older bulbs from newer ones?? <Although really not the cause of your algae woes, you should look into replacing the bulbs at around two years or so. Bulbs near the end of their life span will often demonstrate an obvious color shift> 2) Am I feeding too much and too often? <It doesn't seem as though you're feeding too often, but how much are your feeding during meal time? Is all of the food being consumed? Are you letting the food thaw first, then feeding it to your fishes without letting the pack juices into your system? these juices are very high in nutrient material for algae, and can go unconsumed, thus causing problems if the quantity of this material is large enough> 3) What else do you think could be contributing to my breathing algae problem? what else can I do to help eliminate this Cyanobacteria? <Well, Cyanobacteria is largely the result of nutrient accumulation. Even though your measured water parameters seem fine, you need to look at other things, like husbandry issues. How often do you change the water? IMO, it's better to make smaller, more frequent water changes than fewer, larger ones. Check your protein skimmer's performance, and be honest with yourself: Is it pulling dark, viscous material from the water daily? You should be collecting this material from your skimmer and cleaning it several times weekly. If you're not getting this kind of production, either fine tune the skimmer's water/air flow, or consider upgrading to a better model. Skimmers are your first line of defense against accumulation of unwanted nutrients. Also, a 2" sand bed is not really sufficient for long-term nitrate reduction. A true "deep sand bed" of 3-4 inches or more could make a big difference. Check your pH- is it on the higher side(8.4 or more)? Higher pH values can also help. Be consistent, methodical, and relentless in your husbandry! You'll get through this bloom, I assure you!> Thank you in advance to what I know will be a very helpful response. Gerardo Gomez <And thank you for stopping by! Continue using the resources available on the wetwebmedia.com site. Good luck!>

Reef Tank (BGA...) <<Hey Aaron>> I have a small 30 gallon tank with live rock, live sand, 3 fish, 2 cleaner shrimp, serpent star, snails and some hermit crabs. The problem I am having is there seems to be some red hair looking stuff (red algae?) growing on the rocks and sand. I don't know what it is or if it is harmful. If it turns out to be harmful what do I do to get rid of it? I change my water about every two weeks (10 gal.) I use a UV sterilizer and a filter with carbon and phosphate control. <<Two issues, well, maybe four. Red hair algae feeds on nutrients in the water, do you have a skimmer? If so check function, if not, you need one. Carbon should be changed out often as well as phosphate media or the carbon will leach phosphates into water and phosphate media will release whatever it "captured" into water as well. Change often. Do check source water for any incoming contaminants (ammonia/nitrite/nitrate/silicate/phosphate). Physically remove visible hair algae from rock, etc. and increase circulation in areas it grows. Should make short work of your algae problem! BTW, it's not harmful, just unsightly. Craig>>

A problem with my tank (BGA) hi I searched for "marine aquatic problems red slime algae and found this page with your email address on it. I have got a problem with my tank. over the last couple of weeks had this red slime growing in my tank and it is growing over the coral the sand and over the front glass of the tank. I have sought advise from my local shop and was told that a yellow tang will eat it and to stir the sand but it is too fast growing to keep under control, if your could help me with some advise I would be very grateful Thank you Dean Jeff <Hello, sounds like you have a blue/green algae (Cyano bacteria). I would need a picture to be sure. The trick is to find out what is fueling the algae growth, you can siphon it out all day, but if the nutrients are still in your water, it will keep growing. Stirring the sand could actually help the algae spread. With exception to some hermit crabs, most animals are not reliable for cleaning up the Cyano. I would siphon out what I could and test my water parameters to find out what is feeding this stuff. Check out the links below and let us know if it looks like the algae you are having problems with; also send along the results from your water test ph, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate, etc. Best of Luck, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm>

Tunze Skimmer, Cyanobacteria Bloom, need help. Hi, <<Good day'>> I have been fighting a Cyanobacteria bloom for the better part of two months now. My water parameters look reasonable Salinity = 1.023, Nitrates/Nitrites near 0, PH = 8.2, dKH = 10. The fish and the few corals I have in this tank look good and are growing. My problem is that the substrate is nearly completely covered with Cyano (brown, slimy, forms strands). I suspect that the nutrient levels in my tank are extremely high.  <<This tank is two months old? Ammonia/nitrites/nitrates should be zero, not low. My money is not on Cyano but diatom algae. Silicates + nitrates = diatoms, a brown algae that covers your substrate, sometimes floats, etc. No matter, high nutrients/overfeeding/low current/poor skimming will invite either.>> The reason I suspect this is because my skimmer (Tunze 240) does not seem to able to pull anything out of the tank. I've tried adjusting it till the cows come home with no luck. From all accounts, the Tunze skimmers are among the best but I can't get this one to work. My $65.00 Prism skimmer running on a 29 Gal tank is doing a much better job. I do get a lot of scum sticking to the walls of the column but I can't get foam to overflow into the collection cup. I've tried adjusting it from one extreme to the other (venturi fully closed to fully open) and everything in between. The tank is about 6mo old and I had hoped to move the inhabitants from my 29 gal. tank to this new setup someday. But until I can resolve this current issue these no way I'm gonna risk some corals that I've had for going on three years now. <<Do contact the manufacturer or dealer on how to adjust your skimmer or replace it with something easier for you to use. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimmerfaqs.htm>>  My setup is as follows: 75 Gal Reef tank. 20 Gal Sump 50lbs of live rock no deep sand bed or plenum 3 Maxi Jet 1200 powerheads <<Would ideally like to see 1.5 lbs rock per Gal. the more the better, DSB in tank and or sump, and ten times volume circulation per hour>> Eheim return pump Bioload: 6 Juvenal fish (largest being a Yellow Tang at about 3"), crabs, snails, 2 brittle stars. Since the outbreak I have been running carbon 24/7 (Probably stripping out the essential elements instead of helping) <<Doubtful at this point, change it out often enough though.>> It's my understanding that low dissolved nutrients and low levels of Nitrogen based molecules (NO3, NH4+, etc) are required for Cyano control. Since my tests indicate low levels of Nitrites and Ammonia, it must be the nutrients right? Any ideas would be helpful. <<for diatoms or Cyano my friend. Advise using RO/DI for top off, repair or replace skimmer, increase circulation, keep up carbon and perhaps Polyfilter, and increase incapacity with additional live rock and sand.>>  Thanks John L. Allen <<Good luck! Craig>>

red algae ? I have a 40 gal. tank with live sand and rock. I was reading an article on red algae...the bacteria kind that is like a slimy blanket on rocks. I have one rock that has a velvet-like blanket on my rock, in different places. I thought it was a good thing....how do I know if it is the bacteria kind and should I get rid of it? My other rocks have hard purple coralline algae. Thanks, Cheryl <Definitively, you can look under a high-powered (but light type) microscope and discern the moneran properties of Cyanobacterian cells... but in practicality, if "the stuff isn't taking over" your system, there's little to worry about. Please read through the BGA and control sections here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm for more background, insight. Bob Fenner>

HELP ! I'M BEING SLIMED A sunny South African "Hi there gents" ! (Not sure who will answer):-) <<It's JasonC today... how are you?>> I'm being slimed - by my tank that is ! The dreaded red slime algae is giving me the blue's. My tank spec's are as follows: 250 Liter all glass No livesand bed) 50 Litre refugium (Caulerpa/Livesand/plenum) 100 Litre sump Heater/skimmer/liverock/etc) 4xN/O Sylvania 10000k Fluorescents (on timer approx 13 hrs per day) 2xActinics 40kg's liverock 2 x Clark clowns 2 x Cleaner shrimp 1 x Arrow crab Various mushroom polyps 1 x Leather coral Snails & Hermits Parameters : Nitrate - 0 Ammonia - 0 Temp - A steady 25 degrees C PH 8.2-8.5 Nitrate - Below 5 - expected to go lower with plenum Alkalinity unknown - but coralline algae is beginning to show growth - so cant be too bad ?? Water is being turned over more than 10 x / hr - also carbon in sump powerheads in tank for further flow . Lodgers seem very happy - no losses to date - tank is now 6 weeks old Brown diatom/green hair algae stages have passed and slime now in full flight . SHOULD I BE CONCERNED OR IS THIS ANOTHER PHASE THE TANK WILL PASS THROUGH ON IT'S WAY TO MATURITY ??? <<Well, it is certainly a phase of sorts, but can become a prolonged one if you take no action at all. Even with that turnover rate, I would look for laminar flows and stagnant areas... places where the water flow is either not reaching or just doing the same thing over and over. You might consider adding a powerhead or two to the tank, and face their output directly at each other, creating random currents - this can go a long way to stopping BGA from settling in. In the mean while, you will probably have to resort to manual removal. Do also check this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm >> Your insightful answer will be appreciated. Thanx Hilton <<Cheers, J -- >>
Re: HELP ! I'M BEING SLIMED Hello Jason <<Hello to you.>> I am fine - a lovely 30 degree C day and still only spring ! Thanx for the reply...... First e-mail is attached below : The following additional Questions: DO YOU FORESEE PROBLEMS WITHOUT A LIVE SANDBED AND JUST THE PLENUM IN THE REFUGIUM FOR NITRATE REMOVAL ? <<I think this will work just fine.>> Measured nitrates last night - was below 1ppm - so maybe OK ? <<Sure.>> Currently dosing with Aquamedic Iodine & Strontium also Coralife Calcium. COULD THIS ADD TO BGA PROBLEM ? <<I don't think so, but I would always test for these trace elements before adding wholesale. Even as directed, these can be inappropriate if already present in excess.>> 3 Powerheads already in tank - but might cause laminar flow - so will follow your advise and add 2 more at back of tank. Aimed directly at each other so should lead to some random currents. <<Or perhaps rearrange the ones you have do try and avoid the laminar flow.>> I have read elsewhere that removing said bacteria manually could make things worse by stirring the gravel up and spreading spores even more. <<Only slightly... a good strong current in the system will make it difficult for the BGA to take hold.>> IS THIS A RISK ? <<I don't think so, and in some cases, manual removal is the only way to gain the upper hand.>> Your advice would be welcome. Cheers Hilton <<And cheers to you. J -- >>

Red Slime Algae Hi Bob, Haven't written in quite some time. I have a case of Red Slime Algae. I've neglected my tank over the summer (I've been a bad boy) and now I'm going to remedy it through large water changes every week. I know what needs to be done, but I've seen claims from a few "sellers" that Red Leg Hermits eat red slime algae. Have you ever seen this? <highly unlikely... it is a noxious Cyanobacteria disdained by most and fatal to some. Aggressive protein skimming can also eliminate this problem in mere weeks. Seek to get daily dark skimmate from your protein skimmer.> Thanks, Tony <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Brown algae I looked at your site. I guess I should reduce feeding, clean out my skimmer, vacuum this stuff off the bottom. It is brown, not red, but otherwise looks like Cyano -- very stringy - and change some water every day for the next week or so. Any other advice? <you are quite correct... and thanks kindly to you for helping yourself in the archives. Indeed... nuisance algae control is all about nutrient control. Cleaning and adjusting your skimmer to get a full cup of skimmate produced daily can single handedly cure most algae blooms. A great tool. Water changes, carbon, less feeding, etc. You are on the track to success! Anthony>

red algae battle and I am losing Hi everyone- I am hoping you can help me out again. I can not stop the red algae. <Cyanobacteria?> I have a 55 gallon FO tank with assorted Tangs and the "clean up crew" for a 55 gallon from FFE and an arrow crab, 220 watt compacts (4-55s) about 9 months old. I changed a 8000k daylight to see if it had an effect on the algae. Also a Prizm skimmer, Marineland Emperor 400 filter hanging on back, and a Magnum canister filter with about a cup of bio-beads in it. I recently removed about 2 cups worth of the bio-beads to help with the nitrates. Nitrates read 10-20ppm, phosphates 0, ph 8.2, salinity 1.023. I have been changing 15 gallons a week. Tests on change water are 0 for phosphates and about 5ppm for nitrates. <Tapwater?> I started changing the substrate to a sand instead of crushed coral a few months ago. I have about 20lbs of sand in 1/4 of the tank and a thin layer of the coral on the rest. <Getting the rest of the crushed coral out will be helpful. It is a detritus trap.> I also added about 10lbs of live rock after I read about just "shaking the system up a bit" because it may have settled in a bad place. I have had the tank for 5 years and have never had the red algae this bad. It will cover the back wall in a few days. Are there other things I could check? <Nothing more for you to check, but much more you could do.> I am out of ideas. Any help would be appreciated. <Increase production out of your protein skimmer if it is not collecting a cup of dark skimmate everyday. Try using purified water (RO or DI) for your top-off and water changes. Remove the rest of the crushed coral. Increase circulation.> Thank you AGAIN, den <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Problem Algae Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in his stead> I recently set up a 50 gallon refugium for my 300 gallon reef tank....(I wish I had more room for a bigger refugium !!!). <still very nice!> My question is: I am battling another Cyano bloom both in my refugium and main tank. It looks like the Cyano is killing the Caulerpa in my refugium. The main tank needs to be cleaned almost every 2 days with magnets because the green algae is growing so quickly on the front panel of the acrylic main tank. I used to have to do this only 1-2 times per week ! <mostly a nutrient problem... inadequate water flow and or protein skimming. Skimmers on problem tanks should easily be able to collect a full cup of dark skimmate every single day. Actually quite a bit more until algae is controlled. If your skimmer is not then you know where the algae nutrients are coming from> I turned down the CO2 entering my calcium reactor and I am presently relying on my Kalk reactor for alkalinity/ph control until the bloom subsides. The calcium reactor effluent ph = 7.8 (for now) as opposed to 6.5-6.8 (before bloom). It has been a few weeks, but the bloom continues. <as per above> The lighting in my refugium is a 4000k MH grow lamp bulb. Could this be propagating the bloom or should I look elsewhere, i.e phosphates etc ? <actually, the lights are VERY warm colored and could be a mitigating factor. Aim for lamps in the 6500-10K range> The refugium is lit on a reverse photo period schedule (on for 12 hours, off for 12 hours in opposition to main tank). <fine for pH stability> I ordered a secondary reactor chamber for my calcium reactor to cut down on residual CO@ into the main tank and expect it to arrive this week sometime.  <a good move!> I hope to put my calcium reactor fully back online at effluent ph = 6.8 when I get the second chamber. <agreed> Main tank lighting: 10,000k Metal Halides, 4 x 250w and 2 x 400w, German AB bulbs <way too much light in my opinion. 400 watt halides are not necessary even for the most demanding corals and clams in tanks less than 36 " deep> Skimmer: ETS 1800 Gemini with Iwaki md100rlt feeding pump. <OK... but a finicky model to me for how much they cost> Circulation: 2 Iwaki MD100RLT's on/off in 3 minute complementary intervals. <skip the timer while the algae is a problem... the more flow the better to control the algae> Refugium Circulation: tee off of main pump (MD100RLT). Water goes from tank to sump, to tee. Tee goes 1. directly back to main tank 2. to chiller remotely located in garage and then back from garage to refugium and finally back to sump. Fish Feedings: a. 1/2 Nori sheet daily on seaweed clip for 3 tangs, b. 2-3 feedings per day, each consisting of 3 cubes of various Ocean Nutrition frozen foods. Coral Feedings: DTs live phytoplankton 2-3 times per week (suspended during algae bloom last 2 weeks) <fine food, but do you really have a lot of phyto feeders? Gorgonians and Cauliflower Nephtheids? Most coral by far are zooplankton feeders and such phyto supplements end up rotting in the system and feeding nuisance algae blooms. SPS and LPS corals do not eat phyto as a rule. Most other soft corals eat very little if any at all!> Anemones: Fed krill once per week Additives: Kent Coral Vite once every 1-2 weeks. Water changes: automated 3 gallons per day ( has been offline for 2 months and recently put back in service in the past week) <this has mitigated the algae bloom no doubt. More water changes please> Salt: Tropic Marin Ammonia: none nitrate: none nitrite: none Ph = 8.3 Alk = 8-9 dKH Calcium = 350 - 400 Temp = 80 + .5 degrees phosphate = .2 Thanks for any and ALL advice !! Charles T. Spyropulos <Improved Redox and alkalinity will also help to discourage nuisance algae. best regards, Anthony>

Cyanobacteria Hi Bob. I have a fish only aquarium with coral sand and ocean rock. The filter is a Fluval 304 external (pretty powerful) and I have a Prism hang on protein skimmer. The tank holds 40 gallons but with displacement ends up with 34 gallons. <Your filtration is rather small for this tank. The Fluval is nice, but prone to clogging and cannot provide enough circulation. The protein skimmer, I would describe as adequate at best.> I have six small fish and feed frozen brine shrimp <Please search using the Google feature on www.WetWebMedia.com for our opinions on frozen brine shrimp.> and dried flake food, both only in small amounts. I have this ongoing problem of Cyanobacteria. I have tried all sorts and lost. I can clean up in the evening and by next evening it is all over the sand and rock again, also on the glass. Water tests show zero for ammonia, nitrate, nitrite and phosphate. <Few test kits can accurately test for all forms of phosphate.> I use PolyFilter in the Fluval as an aid to filtration along with the normal filter wool, and sintered glass. The SG is 1.021. I am about at my wits end and am giving it one more month then drastic measures will have to be taken. I'll throw the thing out! <No need for that. Cyanobacteria is easily cured with control of nutrient import (careful feeding and use of purified water), good nutrient export processes (protein skimming, water changes, algae filtration, etc.), and vigorous circulation for promote effective skimming.> Thanks for any advice and all the best. Tony <Please see the extensive coverage of this problem here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm -Steven Pro>

BGA ? Hello Guys, Just a simple question. I have a 75 gal FO tank with a moderate fish load. About every other week I scrape off a thin film of what I assume is BGA (it is bluish green) along the bottom sides of the tank. <I describe Cyanobacteria as similar to a fruit roll up. They form thick mats that, at least to me, remind me of those kids "food".> Since upgrading to a better skimmer, (Aqua-C) I have noticed a drastic reduction of the BGA. <Good> Anyway, while I am scraping, the fish go nuts and devour it. <Probably not Cyano. Few fish eat the stuff. More likely some regular algae.> Is this normal for fish to eat this after it is scraped off the tank? Or is this not BGA and some other form of algae? I am just curious. Thank you, Rob <Have a nice day. -Steven Pro>

Protein Skimmer Just wanted to express my gratitude to everyone at wetwebmedia.com that has helped me to get my tank up and running. After my last question about sumps, I took my system down and replaced the 10 gallon wet-dry with a 30g sump with refugium. Since this change, my tank has never looked better and the Cyano bloom is gone! <Congratulations!> I'm sure with the addition of the new protein skimmer next week, my residents will be in a much better environment for both their and my enjoyment. <Yes> Once again, thanks for all the information and help, you guys maintain a very beneficial service to those of us trying to enjoy this wonderful hobby! <From all of us, you are very welcome. Please tell your fishy friends about us. -Steven Pro>

Cyanobacteria HELP BOB!!!!!!! I have a 43 gal reef tank with the following: <<Greetings, I'm not Bob, but I play one on TV. JasonC here, I will try to help... >> 20 lbs live sand 10 lbs crushed coral substrate 55 lbs live rock 2- 40w t-12 reef fluorescent bulbs 1- 96w power compact lamp 1- yellow tank 2- domino damsels 1- lawnmower blenny 55 gal capacity charcoal trickle filter 100 gal capacity protein skimmer 3 powerheads 8 snails 5 crabs star polyps button polyps my problem is red slime!!!! I have treated the tank with "red slime remover", "no-cya-no" by Ecolibrium and it didn't go away. Also doing 2 15 gal water changes a month. Finally, last month, I took the tank down, put in new live sand, new crushed coral, fresh water dipped and scrubbed my live rock and then set the tank back up with RO water. I again got red slime so I treated it with "Chemi-clean" from Boyd Enterprises. It's now coming back!!!! Can you help me before I chuck this tank!! I have a 90 gal FO tank that is doing GREAT!!!..........Thanks Bob..............Paul <<Well, Paul, 'red slime' is actually Cyanobacteria, also known as Blue/Green Algae, but it's really bacteria. The best combatant in these situations is poor flow and circulation within the aquarium. You might want to try pointing two of those powerheads directly at each other to create random, non-laminar flows. You might also consider upgrading those powerheads to the next more powerful level. Practically speaking, it is almost impossible to duplicate exactly the flows of a natural reef, so you really can't have too much circulation. Here's some helpful reading on those topics: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarfaqs.htm Check those URLs and the FAQs beyond. Cheers, J -- >>

Cyanobacteria What to do?!? Cap'n Bob and Crew, <Ahoy, mate... deck hand Anthony Calfo here while Bob moves his eye patch to the other side and cleans parrot crap off his shoulder> My father has solicited my advice on a huge outbreak of BGA in his 125. I, in turn, have some questions for the master minds that are WWM.  <yes... all masters of our domains> Here's a little background: The tank is a 125g FOWLR. 72"x24"x18". About 120 lbs of live rock, totally covered with BGA except for some coralline here and there. It is an all glass and has no sump as of yet.  <very strong water movement and little or no dead current spots is crucial> Ammonia/Nitrite 0. Nitrate terrible at about 140-160. Spg. 1.024. PH 8.3 <day>. Undergravel filter run by three powerhead 804's.  <a reasonably good fish filter but with live rock, sediments, moderate to weak water flow... can be a disaster with nuisance algae as may be your case... traps too much detritus> Also running a Fluval 404 and a Red Sea Berlin Turbo HOT. <wow... this skimmer really could be upgraded... do consider your options. Aqua C or Euroreef are faves> The substrate is fairly large grain.  <indeed a problem...trapping detritus> Livestock: Naso tang, purple tang, palette tang, 4 green Chromis, flame hawk, red sea coral beauty, yellow stripe clown, neon goby, banded goby, yellow Coris wrasse, 2 cleaner shrimp, assorted snails and reef hermits. <many, many articles and FAQ's on this subject on this site alone... do check out the following and follow the links at the tops of these pages and beyond... also answered a similar question that got posted today (copied below for your convenience)... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cyanocontrolfaqs.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bgacont2i.htm > Here's what I'd like to do to the tank if I can convince him of the need to spend the money: 1. Create a way to use a sump and finally get rid of the undergravel filter. <agreed.... you have a good bit of rock for filtration already> I have seen CPR's siphon overflows and was curious as to whether you had any experience with them or know if they're worth the money.  <I wouldn't take a siphon overflow for free or ever recommend it. They are never foolproof. Not even reasonably fool proof. For the same money or less you can hire a local aquarium service person (or DIY) to come in ...drain the tank temporarily, drill it for bulkheads to have safe gravity overflows> I was thinking of the 1400 gph or the 1600 gph. If we couldn't find any positive feedback on them, we'll more than likely drill the tank. <yes!!! please drill the tank my friend> I was thinking two 1.25" or 1.5" (one in each corner) holes would be sufficient.  <agreed... although more is always better in this case... perhaps a third hole in case the tank ever goes hi-flow reef> There is enough room in the stand to house a 55 gallon that as of now is only being used to mix water for the weekly changes. Or, I personally would like to use something bigger, shorter but longer in the stand, either fabricated or a bought Rubbermaid deal.  <yep> Then, the return pump be plumbed back up to a pvc manifold with 4 exhausts, then into the tank.  <double yep> Looking for info on pumps has left me with a few candidates: Iwaki, Eheim, et al. I know Anthony likes the Iwakis and Bob seems to like the Eheims. Any opinion on model and flow rate?  <hmmm.... 1500-1800 gallons per hour would be a nice ballpark...perhaps more)> Eventually I'd like to see about 9 to 10 times turnover per hour. I'm not exactly sure what the head will be yet as I haven't quite gotten to sketching a plan wanted to hear your opinion first on the preliminary plans>. 2. I'd like him to change to live sand <probably about 120 lbs.> with fine to medium grain. Can I do this in one fell swoop or would that be too traumatic for the tank? <one fell swoop is fine (the day that you drain and drill the tank <wink>... but the amount mentioned is too much or too little. You'll want to be over 3" deep for denitrification or just barely cover the bottom...1/2 inch or less. In between is likely to become a nutrient sink that fuels nuisance algae...yikes!> 3. Lastly, and this may be a ways down the road, switch to a Euroreef skimmer, although I'm not sure it'll fit under the current stand he has now. The stand has 21.5" of usable height underneath. Regardless of this since we may end up replacing the stand, what would be the appropriate size to purchase? A CS6-2? <indeed one of my favorite skimmers and I can say that without ever having got any samples <G>! Target a model for a 180 gallon tank with consideration for your tanks heavy fish load and larger tangs> Also, he was curious as to whether a Kole tang or something else may be able to take care of some of the BGA. <nope... the BGA may even be toxic to some animals that graze it. Its all about nutrient control and starving it out. Improved water circulation and daily skimmate production from a good skimmer alone may take care of this problem in mere weeks with little physical labor!> Thank you so much for everything you and the crew has done for this incredible hobby. Love for it is contagious, and yours infectious. <you know... if I had a dollar for every time I was called contagious or infectious...heehee> Robert Phoenix, AZ <best regards, Anthony>

Blue Green Blues Hi guys: <Cheers!> I'm sooooooo ooo bummed out that I can't see straight. I've got Cyanobacteria problems that I just can't shake.  <relax then... it is one of the easiest problems to cure> I siphon it out carefully; two days later it's back. Lately seems to be getting worse. Would appreciate your advice on what I should do next. I've been on this treadmill for 4 months now and it's getting real old. <its all about nutrient control and export... and in rare cases when those bases are covered... it boils down to inadequate water movement> Tank is 65 gallons with a 20 gallon sump. Running straight Berlin method with a Euro Reef GS6-2 protein skimmer (based on WetWebMedia advice --thanks), which is a bit oversized for a 65 gallon,  <awesome choice! Are you getting skimmate every day out of it? I assume so> and a Knop calcium reactor with Korallith media. Skimmate production about 1/4 cup a day, green colored not black or brown.  <ahhhh... a big part of the problem... your quantity and consistency! This should be darker and more volume every day. You simply need to adjust it better. The foam needs to climb higher in the neck to become drier. As far as the volume... is the pump clean and getting max flow? If so... I'd guess that you have it in the sump but not in a dedicated skimmer box which means that it is subject to daily/weekly fluctuations in sump lever... VERY bad for skimmate production (and a common flaw by aquarists). You will need an internal skimmer box that receives ALL overflow water which fills and then overflows into the pump proper. This will improve skimmate production> I don't think I have that large of a bio load  <with all due respect my friend... don't ever let yourself believe that. I have seen too many systems that had NO fish and were never fed still produce daily skimmate from a well tuned skimmer> -- the skimmer has only one adjustment, the riser pipe, and is a pretty simple device. I clean/dry the skimmer cup every other day and keep water levels constant in the sump. <hmmm... the skimmer isn't after a trickle then is it? BAD> Inhabitants: 11 inches of fish (purple tang, clown, six-line wrasse, flame angel), 3 shrimp, 1 star, 1 eight inch clam, 4 soft corals, polyps, 4 small Acroporas, 3 Mithrax, snails, blue and red legged hermit crabs, 80 pounds of live rock.  <daily skimmate production possible and necessary with this load> Everyone happy and healthy. Bed: about one-half inch of crushed coral. Lights: 12 hours actinics with 7.5 hours of metal halide inside the 12 per day. Food: Nothing gelatin based.  <all good> Only San Francisco Bay Brand greens and meats.  <weak brine shrimp based food...heehee> Only 3-5 minutes per day with no food hitting the bottom. <very good!> Circulation: Was using 3 powerheads on wave timer. Added a 4th powerhead (after reading through your FAQs) that is on continuously in addition the 3 on the wave timer.  <hmmm... serious suggestion to take the powerheads off of the wave timer to get even more flow. Oppose their effluents and let them cross and converge to form random turbulent flow...>  My tank looks like Hurricane Hugo inside.  <reefs are very dynamic... we rarely have flow that is even close... just misdirected (too linear)> Ironically, the BGA got worse when I increased the circulation and skimmate production stayed the same.  <completely unrelated to the increase in circulation and is easily explained by the continuing accumulation of dissolved organics DAILY not removed by the skimmer> Nevertheless, I'm still using 4 powerheads. Makeup Water: I have a 5 stage RO/DI unit that produces water with 0.1 ppm of phosphates. It's the best I can do -- the tap water where I live is way off the charts on phosphates. So all new water entering my aquarium has 0.1 ppm of phosphates.  <indeed a lot. Do try the phosphate removing pads (24-48 hour) they work well. What have your phosphates accumulated to in the tank?> RO/DI water is aged, aerated, temp-adjusted, buffered, and stored in Brute storage containers before use. Water changes: 10-15% once a week. Using Instant Ocean. Water chemistry: SG 1.025, phosphates 0.1 ppm, nitrates 2.5 ppm, kH 11.8, Ca 450. According to your Cyano web page, these numbers are good, yet the miserable stuff just keeps on coming. <I agree that the numbers are good but the phosphate reading just isn't possible. You cannot have .1 phosphates coming in though all water and the tank remain at the same .1 level!!! Really NOT possible. Phosphates are imported through water, food, etc and naturally accumulate. If through no other method, understand that pure water is evaporating, but is being replaced by water with phosphates! And at .1 ppm that will accumulate to a high level fast... you clearly are getting a misreading on the phosphate test kit. Nuisance algae often starts with as little as .04ppm> I'm down to one of three choices: macroalgae, antibiotics, or quit the hobby.  <a better second stage deionizer in the long run and phosphate pads in the interim. Antibiotics are a waste of time treating the symptom> I read through your macroalgae section but I don't understand it. Do I have to keep it lit 24/7 so that it won't go sexual? If so, then it needs to go into a dedicated refugium down by the sump.  <correct, although I personally cannot stand Caulerpa in reef tanks with coral that you want to grow optimally> Can it spread from the refugium microscopically to the tank and sump?  <not microscopically> If I use it and it eliminates the BGA,  <unlikely... but good luck> can I simply remove it with no further ill effects to the tank or its inhabitants? What is the cheapest way to gain the benefits of macroalgae without becoming a slave to it?  <don't use Caulerpa. Use seagrasses, calcareous algae or mangroves> Dumb questions, I know, but some of your posts make it sound like this stuff is from the movie The Thing, and I don't want to trade one can of worms for another.  <you are quite correct. In ten years of intensive coral culture... I would almost never recommend Caulerpa for any tank with coral> I must confess I'm more than a little bummed at the thought of adding yet another pump to my system. <no need to> Sorry for the depressing post. I'm at wits end. I don't feel relaxed when I look at my tank. If I could get rid of this stuff, I'd feel a lot better about my husbandry. Jim <it is always about the nutrient control and export processes. Best regards, Anthony>
Re: Blue Green Blues... Algae and Skimmers
Okay, Anthony, I really appreciate your response and I'm intrigued by your response. You're right -- I have an Oceanic display aquarium with an internal overflow. The internal overflow box has a foam insert that I change/clean twice a week (I have a spare foam piece and alternate them). <hmmm... problem here too... the foam insert is prefiltering the water daily and preventing organics from being skimmed out of the system. Instead they degrade and dissolve in the system (trapped in the foam block) and help to feed/fuel nuisance algae. Even cleaning these inserts almost daily would not be enough! If the inserts are simply to prevent fish from overflowing or large matter from clogging the overflow, then simply use plastic mesh/course gutter guard or eggcrate to allow water (and particulates) to pass through unobstructed> Water drains from the overflow box to my sump which is simply a 20 gallon glass aquarium. The sump has my submersible return pump, heater, and Euro Reef protein skimmer. Water level in the sump does fluctuate, but never more than an inch,  <Yowsa!!!! An inch is a staggering amount of fluctuation! Wreaks havoc on the dynamics of head on aquarist grade water pumps that are already and inherently flawed to not produce consistent water flow (they can fluctuate easily). No skimmer could perform consistently with this setup> which is about 1.5 days of evaporation. Normal depth is 7.5 inches. I can get drier foam on the Euro Reef by lowering the riser tube, but quantity falls off dramatically to almost nil.  <that is because of the prefiltering from above and fluctuating sump levels> The skimmer is only several weeks old, so the pump is fine.  <verify that the sump level if steady suits mfg spec. then drop a small bucket/basin/plastic tub in the sump to catch and overflow the overflowing water from above... the pump must sit in this compartment to get a static water level of raw water to draw from. Combined with the removal of the foam inserts (replaced with screen or the like)... I suspect that these minor modifications will help tremendously> After talking with Euro Reef on the phone, they had me clean/dry the skimmer to eliminate any cutting oil residue, etc., in an effort to boost skimmate production. It helped a little, but nothing significant. <fair enough> I removed the Tsunami and now have all powerheads running continuously on your advice. <cool... at least until the nuisance "algae" is controlled> I have used phosphate sponge in the past, but it doesn't work IMHO.  <really... I have enjoyed the phosphate resin pads often (the ones you use and discard after about 36 hours or risk releasing the phosphate back into the system?)... but I would agree/assert that the chips don't seem to work at all> Do the PolyFilters really work? <yes... a phenomenal all around product!> No offense, but I seriously doubt that skimmate production would increase significantly with a rock-steady water level,  <my experience with it is based on nearly a decade of running commercial marine systems (5,000-10,000 gallons). It really is a big deal <G>. If you care to look further into the dynamics of skimming the reasons become apparent> but I'll do it if you feel that strongly that this will go a long way to eliminating my Cyano problems. <I honestly believe it will help> Conceptually what you're saying about nutrient export for Cyano control makes sense. But I just don't see this skimmer doing that kind of production because I have played with the water level for several days trying to keep it rock-steady, and there was no improvement in production. <I understand your doubts... but once you actually find the sweet spot on the bat... it will amaze you! I have seen so many aquarists get mediocre skimming for years (on light load systems which let them believe that there was not much to skim) and then make an adjustment or change skimmers that suddenly produced amazing skimmate in a seemingly low-nutrient system>  My problem now is trying to find a sump large enough to house the skimmer yet have it fit underneath my tank. My display tank sits 36" off of the ground. Euro Reef has a 10.5 x 13 footprint, a height of 24". They recommend a water depth between 6-8 inches. I've scoured the internet looking for a sump that will work, but cannot find anything.  <hmmm... a non-hobby plastic will be a lot less expensive. Try Wal-mart for Rubbermaid storage boxes and the like. They can easily be drilled and have bulkheads snapped on just the same> The Berlin BS-2 comes close --- http://www.marinedepot.com/a_fl_bs.asp?CartId= --- but it has a drilling for an external pump and is really pushing it in length since my cabinet is only 38" wide  <nice... and cap the hole if necessary> (I still need room for my calcium reactor!) Any ideas? <mount the reactor to the back wall or inside wall of the stand with plumbing straps> The other thing I could try is to make a divider and put it in my existing sump.  <not a bad idea at all> I think I would want to put my skimmer on blocks because I will be cutting my fluctuating sump area in half, which mean water levels will be dropping 2 inch or so per day on my return pump side. <do consider some of the many auto-top off float switches so that you do not become a slave to your sump> My phosphate test kit is probably incorrect. Which seems to be the norm anymore. Lately about half of the test kits I buy put out questionable results.  <sadly I agree! Indeed... it is not possible to get the same reading from a source and a mature tank that has necessarily suffered evaporative effects (concentrating this nutrient that hasn't been exported much or at all> I primarily use Seifert, some Red Sea. Thanks, Jim <best regards, Anthony

Problems with BGA Steven- <Anthony Calfo with the follow up> When you say to do "...several large water changes...". How big are you talking about and how much time in between each? <there certainly is no hard or fast rule for such husbandry... it is all dependant on eminent need. But... little of it matters much because a proper water change is a proper water change. Many aquarists have had occasion to do a 100% water change and suffered zero mortality of their livestock. If you purify, aerate, reconstitute/buffer, mix, salt and then circulate your new seawater in that order with necessary time in between stages...THEN pH, temperature and salinity adjust your new water to match the display... then you have little to worry about. It is all part of the 18-36 hour process that all aquarists should conduct to properly make new seawater that will be safe/gentle on marine life. For your needs... I'll go on record recommending two 50% water changes within a one week period, minimum.> Thanks. Andy <best regards, Anthony>

Purple "Slime" algae Hi guys,  <Cheers, Greg... and may 1000 camels never baptize the hood of your car. Anthony Calfo in your service> I have had a 55 gal saltwater tank set up for almost 2 years now and a few months ago I started to get a deep dark purple algae growing in my tank.  <yes...AKA red/maroon slime algae (Cyanobacteria)... all the charm of a dead hamster> I have lots of dead and decorative corals in the tank and it doesn't get much on them, but I also have a piece of petrified wood that stands so it almost sticks out of the water. Anyway, this wood is almost completely covered in purple. It is cool to look at. It is as smooth as velvet --- completely covering the wood to where you can't see any wood grain at all. Very slick to the touch. I sometimes damage this algae as I move things around, but it always recovers any damaged areas. I just want to know what kind of algae this is and if it is harmful to my fish or tank environment.  <mildly noxious and definitely a nuisance species... a sign of a nutrient problem (lack of efficient protein skimming, overstocking/feeding, inadequate water changes, poor water circulation, etc> The fish do not pick at it or eat it at all and so it grows like crazy. thanks for the info.  <yes... it can be noxious or harmful to some grazers (fish, snails, etc). Do improve water circulation and nutrient export processes. Siphon out carefully...breaking it up can cause it to spread. Anthony> Diggy

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