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FAQs about Green Macro-Algae Systems

Related Articles: Embracing Biodiversity, Green Algae By Mark E. Evans, Green AlgaeGreen Algae 2Avoiding Algae Problems in Marine System, 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, Blue-Green "Algae"/(Cyanobacteria)Diatoms, Brown Algae

Related FAQs: Refugium L ighting, Caulerpas, Green Macro-Algae 1Green Macro-Algae 2Green Macro-Algae 3, Green Macro-Algae 4, Chlorophyte Identification, Chlorophyte Behavior, Chlorophyte Compatibility/Control, Chlorophyte Selection, Chlorophyte Nutrition, Chlorophyte Disease, Chlorophyte Reproduction/Propagation,

Your livestock may be eating your algae... and you liking it!

Chaetomorpha and Hospital Tank     1/11/17
Quick question, is it OK to use macroalgae, e.g.; Chaetomorpha in a hospital tank secured by an algae clip, for example during a Cupramine treatment?
<Mmm; no... the algae... most biota will "complex" the copper, other med.s as well... And the copper will kill the algae>

I realize that it's recommended to only use inert substances in a hospital tank, and macroalgae, isn't considered inert, however, I was wondering if it might be an exception?
<No; not at all. IF you were feeding it... and removing the part the animals didn't consume; that might work out. But I would not leave algae in a treatment tank>
The only purpose of having it in the hospital tank would be to help keep the nitrates in check beyond water changes.
<Mmm; better to keep switching out pre-cycled media... like filter pads, sponge filters... along w/ dilution from the water changes>
I would never move the macroalgae out of the hospital tank to the display tanks.
Thanks, John
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Chaetomorpha and Hospital Tank     1/11/17
Perfect Bob, that was my gut thought, but I wanted to check with the experts to be sure! Thanks again.
<Glad to share w/ you John. BobF>

Chaetomorpha raises pH 1/18/12
Dear Wet Web Crew,
I recently added a ball of Chaeto to a 10 gallon QT tank which I had running and noted an increase to pH 8.8 after just a few days. In my reading of different question/answer sites I've seen other hobbyists note the same, but always seem to have others respond that Chaeto alone would not increase pH as high as 8.8.  I disagree. It appears to me that the addition of Chaetomorpha to a marine aquarium may have the ability to raise pH to 8.8.  To prove out my theory I've started a small 2 gallon tank, with nothing except 1/2 cup of clean aragonite <aragonite> sand and 24 hour mixed saltwater @ 1.024, pH 8.4.  I then introduced a compact ball of Chaeto (about 4'x4').  The Chaeto is getting a high amount of light from large T5 Tek light hanging above.  3 days since putting in the Chaeto, and nothing else added to the tank, and my pH is now 8.8.  Is there any other explanation for the increase in pH ?
<I believe so.  The Chaeto is absorbing any excess CO2 that may be in the water which would drive down the pH along with the aragonite sand tending to keep the pH up by it's buffering qualities.  The absence of any nutrient producing animals in your systems also contributes to the high pH since there are no acids present.  I doubt it is actually 8.8 unless these readings were taken with a calibrated electronic pH meter.  Color comparator pH kits are not that accurate, ballpark figures at best.  I have found the LaMotte pH test kit to be far superior to the hobbyist kits but it is a bit pricey.>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Halimeda Nutrients   8/18/11
Hey WWM,
I have read and often hear that Halimeda takes a lot of the nutrients from the tank. Other than Phosphates, Nitrates, and Calcium what other nutrients does it take from the water?
<Some Magnesium of elements hobbyists have test ability for... Other than these, other less to trace materials can be supplied through water changes, feeding of other livestock. Bob Fenner>

Chaetomorpha Growth (Lighting) -- 05/07/11
In your expert opinion, does Chaetomorpha do better with reverse lighting or 24/7 lighting.
<<A 'rest period' is good, as provided by the RDP. This is more natural and thus likely 'better' for the macroalgae'¦it is also more economic (less energy costs, heat transfer, etc.). Lighting a refugium 24/7 is generally suggested when keeping Caulerpa spp. to preclude a sexual event (often brought on by the changing light cycle of day/night lighting), and the subsequent fouling of the system>>
Also, are 2 54 watt bulbs, 1-10000K, 1-6700K to much light on sump with DSB, to grow Chaeto?
<<Not at all'¦in fact, two 6700K bulbs would be my choice here. Cheers'¦ EricR>>

Quick Question on CPR Bak-Pak 3/7/09 Hey Guys, <And gals, hello Mark.> I've searched the site on my question and can't seem to find anything. I set up a 35 gallon hex as a mini reef. Due to space limitations under the stand I'm going to have to custom build an acrylic refugium to fit. Right now I'm just running a CRP Bak-Pak 2 with the Biobale installed and two powerheads with the Hydor flow deflectors for a little wave action. Until I get the refugium fabricated has anyone ever tried to replace the Biobale in the CPR with Chaetomorpha? <I have indeed seen this, it can work. The main thing to watch out for is the output on the skimmer back to the tank. It is very easy for a bit of the macro to work its way up and clog the thing, overflowing the skimmer onto your floor. Other than that your growth there may be a bit limited due to the light that will actually penetrate in and the little CO2 left in the water at that point.> I custom built a hood for the tank and installed a 175w 15000k metal halide. <Ahhh good, are you building the sump yourself? Acrylic is no more difficult to work with than wood, much less to IMO actually.> The back of the hood is open so it looks like the CPR gets quite a bit of light. Any reply would be appreciated. Thanks, Mark <Welcome, Scott V.>

Chaeto heating? 11/15/08 Hi folks, <Hello Scott.> Just a quick question tonight. I want to grow Chaetomorpha in a stand-alone "refugium" of sorts. Do I need to heat it, or will it survive at room temperature? <I would heat the tank to a normal reef range. Chaetomorpha is fairly tough, but a lower temperature will slow down the metabolism.> Thanks, Scott <Welcome, Scott V.>

Manganese effects, growing Chaetomorpha  5/1/08 Again, Hello Crew <Wayne> I've been reef keeping for about 2 years now. You folks have been a great help every step of the way. I'm asking for help again with something that I was unable to find on your FAQS. I hope you can help. <Me too> I have a 210 gal system. I use RODI water. I've always kept a refugium with Chaetomorpha. No matter what the setup, I've never been able to get the Chaeto to grow. I've tried different lights, different lighting schedules, different types of flow through the refugium, I've dosed Iron, replaced old Chaeto with new Chaeto, tried tumbling it and not tumbling it. I currently have it on a 16 hr light cycle...on at 5pm off at 9am. I don't dose iron currently, and do 15gal water changes weekly. During this time, I shake the detritus off the Chaeto ball. Again, this is done weekly. No matter what I do, the stuff just won't grow. I've always used Instant Ocean Salt mix. Do you think changing my salt mix could make the difference? <Might, yes> Also, it just occurred to me that I have elevated levels of manganese in my tap water (well water). I don't believe the RODI system will remove Manganese from my water. <Actually, it should> The TDS readings rarely go above 2ppm. I've never had any problems keeping livestock. I've kept SPS, LPS, Softies, different inverts and fish without a problem. All except Turbo Snails. They always die off after about 1-2months. I'm thinking this is due to the snails my LFS supplies are cold water species. <A possibility, yes> Anyway.. what do you think about changing salt mixes? And the manganese issue? Would these 2 affect my Chaeto growth? <Could definitely. I'd switch to a good brand, like Marine Environments, Tropic Marin...> Thanks again! Wayne <Do grant us your further observations. Bob Fenner>

Anthiinae Placement/Chaetomorpha Growth -- 02/08/08 Hey crew, <<Hello>> This is my first time writing, though I've been visiting your web site for almost a year now. <<Welcome then'¦ How may I assist?>> Because of WWM and very a helpful LFS (ALL ABOUT FISH in Concord, CA) my 125g long is a thriving soft/LPSs reef. <<Ah, very nice to know>> My current stock: 1- 6" Blonde Naso 1- 5" Emperor Angel <<Do be aware, this tank is not large enough for the above mentioned fishes for the long-term. As these grow they will need twice this volume to preclude developmental/behavioral/health issues>> 1-2.5" Purple Firefish 1 large Colt Coral 1 med Frogspawn Misc. mushrooms, hermit crabs, snails, etc... I have a 40g 'fuge (Chaetomorpha) <<Excellent>> Euro-reef RS100 skimmer <<I do like this brand of skimmer'¦ I have an (old?) CS12-3 that a couple of the Sedra pumps just died on. I replaced all with a trio of the ER-modded Eheim 1262 pumps and WOW'¦falling in love with this skimmer all over again! '¦but enough about me [sheepish-grin]>> There are no water quality issues; I do 20g weekly water changes, sometimes more. <<This 'is' about the single-best thing hobbyists can do for their systems>> My Emperor and Naso are my "Pets" and will readily eat out of my hand. <<Yes, can become quite 'personable'>> After several months of waiting, my LFS received 9 Bartlett's Anthias (1 male, 8 female). <<A very aquarium hardy species>> Would this be too many? <<Right now, no'¦but do keep in mind the future requirements of the tang and angel>> How long to qt? <<I don't recommend quarantine for Anthiines'¦best to place directly in the display>> I have a 29g FOWLR (6 months old or set up my 55g (would be bare) what would be the best protocol? <<As stated>> Also I have read/heard conflicting facts on the growth of Chaetomorpha algae. I have a very slow growth rate. I have 40 watts of PC lighting on a reverse cycle. PO4 is undetectable, NO3 10-15 (API and Red Sea test kits) any thoughts or suggestions? <<A couple'¦ Try boosting both light intensity (65w+) and spectral quality (5000K-6500K), and flow (add a small powerhead for circulation) to the refugium. Regards, EricR>>

Chaetomorpha Lighting  1/18/08 Hello Crew, <Tom> I have a quick question. I am having a problem keeping Chaeto alive in my refugium. I have read all the info I can find on my symptoms and I am trying many of the suggestions. I have adding more flow with a powerhead and adding more lighting with 18 watts instead of 9. <Too little light. You do not want the light to be the limiting factor in its growth. I personally have two 65W PC bulbs powering my Chaetomorpha. The online resources very often recommend too little light for this purpose. > The only thing I am worried about is spinning. Does it have to spin? <Not completely necessary. Spinning allows the whole ball to receive light.> The Chaeto is not in a ball at this time and is spread out to a mat form. <It should ball up as it grows.> Thanks for a great site and for your time. Tom <Thank you for writing Tom, good luck, Scott V.>

Chaetomorpha vanishing act... Rate limiting rxns  12/20/07 Thank you for your help in advance. My Chaetomorpha just disintegrated in my refugium and I'm talking a whole 30 gallon of it so thick you couldn't even put your hands through it. It had been growing for about 6 months, and I would give handfuls of this stuff away to people because it grew so fast, now its gone. I reached in the refuge for some to put in my display for a snack for my tangs and nothing. I have a 120 gallon with a 30 sump and 30 refugium. 3 HQI's over display and opposite PC over refuge. Lighting is obviously fine since it grew like a weed for 6 months. Lots of water flow with 2 dart pumps (closed loop), I run a calc. reactor, carbon and SeaChem PhosBan. <"This" may have been "it"> nitrates, nitrites, ammonia always at zero, <Or these lacking...> calcium 400, alk 4. Temp stays around 81.5 day and 79 night. use only RO water. I do 5 gallon water changes every Sunday and only additive that I use is SeaChem iodide. This is an Acro tank and have changed nothing, I like things consistent and stable. A couple of days ago, I noticed some red slime starting to form, so I figured it must be time to change my PhosBan. I run continues and change every 30 days. I was about 2 weeks behind. Now a few days later, its gone! What happened? <Bottle necking... loss of an essential nutrient... HPO4... Like cutting off something critical to your life... oxygen let's say... Bob Fenner> Thanks Brian
Re: Chaetomorpha vanishing act 12/20/07
Also, a continuation of the email I just sent, my water is now very cloudy and my skimmer is overflowing and bubbles everywhere. I'm assuming this is all of the chemicals being released by the algae. <Yes> I'm afraid to test to see what just got released. What should I do? <A massive water change with what water you have pre-made, stored... perhaps the addition of in-line chemical filtrant/s... e.g. activated carbon. If necessary, the removal of purposeful life to another stable system. Bob Fenner>
Re: Chaetomorpha vanishing act 12/20/07
Thank you for your quick response. So are you saying I should not run PhosBan while using the algae. Its one or the other? Or is it possible to run it with say less media in the chamber? <All forms of life (yourself included natch) need phosphate...> Also, when they say you should cultivate your algae, is feeding it to my fish okay, or is that just putting the nutrients back into the water. Does it have to be completely removed from my system? <Is fine, a good idea to feed such algae. BobF>

Refugium question. Confounded By Chaetomorpha! (Chaetomorpha Growth Issues)  7/11/07 Hello Crew! <Hi there! Scott F. in tonight!> This is the second time I have written, and I would again like to thank all of you for your input and the time that you invest in helping the rest of us maintain healthy and successful systems! <We're thrilled to bring the site to you every day!> I am on your site several times a week, and even more frequently if I need to trouble shoot. Writing to you is a last resort for me; I have read and read and read some more (literally all of the WWM pages on refugiums and macroalgae), and I think that I am finally 'reading myself in circles' with this issue. Every time I think I have answered my questions I read something else that sends me back the other direction. I think that I could keep reading for the next 6 months and keep pushing myself in circles, so it is time to get some specific answers. <I'll try not to push you in circles...rectangles or trapezoids, perhaps- but not circles!> I inherited a 180 gallon salt water system almost 3 years ago, and knew (scary as it is) very little about the hobby. I learned very quickly, in large part to your website. The tank had/has about 400 lbs of live rock and a 2-4" sand bed. All of my coral is growing rapidly, and includes * Leather Cabbage coral * Kenyan Tree Corals * Toadstool Leather * Hammer Coral * Green Starburst Coral * Various Button Polyps Due to an unforeseen electrical problem shortly after taking possession of the tank, most of the original stocking was lost; current fish stocking includes * Eye-Stripe Tang * 3 P.J. Cardinals * 2 Engineer Gobies * Keyhole Angel * Yellow Tail Damsel * Pink Skunk Clown * Black & White Percula * large variety of snails including Mexican turbo, Nassarius, Margarita, Queen Conch * variety of crabs * 1 Serpent Star * I currently have new Yellow Tang, Sailfin Tang and 2 Engineer Gobies in the QT to replace what was recently lost to Ich. <Glad to hear that you embrace a quarantine protocol! Do note that the Sailfin Tang can and will get HUGE! A larger tank will be necessary for the future to accommodate this fish.> Also in the QT is a neon goby.. because I think I need one. <A sort of natural antiparasitic approach, huh?> They will be joining the display tank in 2-3 weeks. <Good to hear.> The display tank currently has tons of coralline algae, with almost no green or red algae growth at all. We have had intermittent periods of moderate hair algae growth, as well as red slime algae growth, but nothing recent. <Sounds like you've addressed any excess nutrient issues.> I realized early in my salt water days that I had a nitrate issue, but had little luck controlling it. The more I read, the more I realized that I needed to change my wet/dry filter system over to a refugium, as the bioballs were not helping matters at all. About 5 months ago we had a problem with Ich, and moved all fish into the quarantine tank for 8 weeks. I figured that would be a good time to change things over under the tank and replace the wet/dry with a refugium. The first shot at this was not an ideal set-up due to lack of properly sized tanks and less than optimal water movement through the fuge. One month ago, I replaced the first fuge setup with a 50 gallon sump/fuge that is working very well with regard to water flow. I have about 3" of sand, 10# of rubble rock, a few Nassarius snails and a ball of Chaetomorpha that I bought for the original refugium setup. The mass of Chaetomorpha was larger than a softball when purchased several months ago, and is now about the size of a tennis ball. The lighting in the fuge area is a 26W / 6500K spiral CF bulb inside of a metal plant light fixture (I have looked at many other fuges using the same type of lighting setup) that runs for 12 hours overnight when the display lights are off. Flow through the fuge is about 700-750 gph. I was hoping that the Chaeto would flourish a bit with the new set up, but it has not grown at all...but it has also not lost notable size either. Testing my water at least every other day indicates that I have moderately high nitrates; phosphate testing is inconsistent (I think I need a new test kit. will be picking one up this weekend), no nitrites and no ammonia. According to what I have read about nutrient exchange and the properties of Chaetomorpha, I am confused about why mine is not growing. I have given some thought to water movement within the fuge itself the refugium sits between the incoming water/skimmer chamber and the 'clean' water chamber to be pumped back to the tank) and have considered adding a small power head to the fuge simply to increase water movement. <Good thought. Initially, it sounds to me like you may have too much water flow through the refugium...Usually, we only want modest flow in there. Although you don't need to "tumble" Chaetomorpha like you do with macroalgae such as Gracilaria, water movement does help keep the fronds clear of debris and epiphytic materials that may interfere with the growth of the macroalgae. Perhaps a reduced "flow-through" rate, but a powerhead for movement within the fronds of the algae colony, will do the trick. Worth investigating, IMO!> I have thought about purchasing an additional ball of Chaeto to see if it will grow any differently than the current batch, but I hate to waste the extra ball of Chaetomorpha if it is not going to grow either. <An attitude I understand, but it may be a worthy experiment...Since it's such a readily obtainable macroalgae these days, it may be worth a try. Do inspect your current Chaetomorpha colony to see if it's being smothered by nuisance algae or debris.> Any thoughts you can offer here would be MUCH appreciated!!! <Well, I must say that this stuff is pretty tough NOT to grow. If you're keeping it in an aquarium system with sufficient nutrients. lighting and water movement, I'm pretty sure that you'll get good growth. I'd work on the flow issue and see how that goes...Sounds like the nutrient and lighting issues are satisfied with your setup.> Also, as an aside while I am bothering you, I have one last question. I suspect that the root problem is related to my water quality, but I am looking for some reassurance here. Two years ago I purchased a very healthy, deep rose-colored bubble tip, which split within 1 week of being added to the display tank. <Nice!> The two pieces did well until about 6 months ago, when one of them started to whiten and lose size. Eventually it stopped coming out and is presumed dead. :-( The second was doing well until about 2 months ago, and has started to display the same characteristics. <Sorry to hear that.> The remaining section is in a location that it picked out all by itself and has remained anchored for about 2 years; it is an area of relatively low flow with strong lighting. It has never bubbled on a regular basis (I presumed because of low water flow), other than when it was fed, but now does not inflate at all. It eats dried krill at least 3x a week, but continues to lose size and has not regained any of its rose coloring. <Many possible issues...Most common are insufficient water movement, lighting, and nutrition. My dear friend, Anthony Calfo, has written extensively on anemone care. health issues, and propagation in way more detail than I can go into here. Do use one of the larger search engines and look for his writings.> My pink skunk clown used to host exclusively in this anemone and would not allow the percula to get anywhere near it, but over the last 6 months both of them have been hosting in the toadstool. I have given thought to moving the anemone to a different location, but it is SO deeply rooted that I am not sure I can get it out with damage...and it moved several times within the first several weeks of splitting and hasn't moved since. <I would not move it. The potential for damage to what may be an already stressed animal is too great. Do consider the issues of proper lighting, nutrition, and proper water movement.> Any thoughts here would also be VERY MUCH appreciated. Sorry to have taken up so much of your time. Thanks for your help!!! Susan <No problem, Susan. Sorry that I couldn't go into too much detail on the anemone issue (just not enough room!), but there is soo much stuff out there on this subject that you'll probably find exactly what you need simply by searching on the net for Anthony's writings. Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.> Susan Andrews

Shaving Brush Substrate  2/28/07 <Hi Brandon!  Mich here.> Just a quick question, I am getting ready to add a hang on refugium to my 65 gal reef aquarium.   <Excellent!> I have really been considering using mineral mud (about 4 inches), and livestock being Chaetomorpha algae, live rock, and a shaving brush plant.  This brings me to my question, will the mud substrate suit the brush plant? <Yes.> Am I just better to avoid adding this species all together due to the fact I will have the Chaetomorpha?   <Can try both.> My main goal is to harvest pods for my Mandarin and add biological filtration.   <Chaetomorpha is the most important here.> Your help is greatly appreciated, this site is unbelievable in the amount of knowledge is supplies everyone.   <Thank you for the kind words.> Keep up the fantastic work. <Will try!  -Mich> Brendan

Turtle Weed   2/11/07 Hello. I'm going to setup my LR in an island-style setup and would like to grow Chlorodesmis on the sand around it. Would this be good for keeping pods in, even in the display tank? <Yes but they will still be preyed upon....fish, inverts, etc....> Does Chlorodesmis normally grow in sand? <Not in my experience...prefers more of a rocky setting....read this excerpt from WWM: "Chlorodesmis fastigiata, Turtle Weed... common in the wild, common in marine systems with inadequate competition, available nutrients, lack of circulation, filtration... A couple of shots in the wild" (see article for pics **AJ) ": Fiji, the Andaman Sea."> Well, thanks in advance. <Well....you're welcome...Adam J.>

Algae Control   10/3/06 Hi Crew, <Hi Sam> I have a 10 gallon with fish and mushrooms. It is about 3 years old and I had a hair algae problem which has improved over the past 6 months. Aside from changing a gallon a week I also added a chemical to remove phosphates and it has gone down from being the darkest color on my chart to the second lowest. I also have a fist sized ball of Chaetomorpha to help reduce nutrients. When it doubles in size I remove the new growth which usually is not as compact as the original ball. This past week the new growth started turning grey and when I removed it was very mushy. Is this a sign of problems or is it just lack of nutrients (which in this case is fine with me)? <Probably an excess of nutrients.  I'm thinking you have too many fish in your 10 gallon tank, two would be too many.  I would change 2 gallons weekly and use RO water which can be had at health stores and/or large supermarkets for about 50 cents a gallon.  I'd seriously consider a mini protein skimmer.  Foster & Smith has one that works pretty well for small tanks and will help much with your algae problems.  See here. http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=14676&Ntt=protein%20skimmers&Ntk=All&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Np=1&N=2004&Nty=1 James (Salty Dog)> <<RMF would toss his guess toward the "phosphate removing" material... all life on this planet requires phosphate...>>

Refugium Lighting - Chaetomorpha - 09/30/2006 Hi folks, <Hi, Dave!  I'm sorry this is so late in coming to you....  Our webmail system wouldn't let some of the Crew reply to you.  Though I am able to do so, I have unfortunately been out a bit.> I need lighting for my Chaetomorpha in my refugium.  The refugium is a little more than a square foot within my 33gallon sump with intentions of nutrient export from my main 90 gallon soon-to-be reef system.  I have an inch of miracle mud in the refugium and the water level is about 14", the light fixture would be approximately 6" - 8" from the water surface.    Given that my refugium is tiny, will either of the lighting systems below suffice?   <You don't need a whole lot of light for Chaeto....> Option A:   I'm looking at the CoralLife 9" MiniAquaLight Fixture.  It comes with a 9W 10000K and a 9W Actinic Lamp.  I'd replace the 9W actinic with another 9W bulb. should I be using 6500K for both?  Or can I use the 10000K in conjunction with a 6500K?   <Oh, sure.  No problems with this at all.> Two bulbs totaling 18W of lighting over a square foot refugium?   I could incorporate the two 13W bulbs as mentioned below.  Option B:  I found at Home Depot a 'trouble light' that takes two small 6" power compact bulbs.  Each are 13W and I can easily get either 7000K or 6500K bulbs for it.   <This would probably be perfectly functional.  Please, though, be VERY cautious about the ends/connections where the bulbs meet the fixture, and any other areas that might be undesirable to have exposed to saltwater or evaporation.> I'll have to be creative with the trouble lamp to get it fixed overtop of my refugium.  From reading through your lighting FAQ's for Refugiums, all I picked up out of the material was that 5,000 - 6,500K bulbs would suffice and approximately 5W per gallon for Chaeto.   Am I concerned with just lighting the Chaeto I'm assuming?   <Pretty much.> If so, the area would be less than 4 gallons.. ???  Would it matter much that the 9" light system from Option A does not fully span the width of the refugium as far as the lighting is concerned?   <That's probably just fine.  Just be sure to concentrate the light above the macroalgae.> -Dave <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Wanting to grow green algae, macro, SW   4/14/06 Hi there James <Hi Matthew - Tim answering your question today!>!    My tank is very healthy at the moment and everything is going well except for one thing. I can't get any green algae to grow. <Ah yes - I suppose it is true what they say - the grass really IS always greener on the other side... or perhaps in your case, the algae is always greener in someone else's tank! In all honesty, you are incredibly lucky not to have to deal with green algae problems - others would do anything for coralline algae whilst they fight a never ending battle against green algae!> I'm trying to get some Caulerpa or Halimeda growth but nothing is coming up. <In the case of these macroalgae you will almost certainly have to introduce them intentionally - i.e. purchase them from your LFS or obtain some from a fellow aquarist. With appropriate lighting you will find that even a small branch will quickly grow into a respectable plant.>  I have an abundance of purple encrusting algae. Does this stuff use up all the nutrients that the green algae would otherwise use? <They will compete with each other - but lack of nutrients is not typically a problem in the home aquarium, quiet the contrary.> I do like this purple stuff but I would really like a few greens. Also, the fish in my tank are not algae eaters. Thanks for your help. <Best of luck! Tim>

Re: Growing green macro algae  - 04/14/2006 Thanks for the ultra quick reply Tim! <My pleasure!> I guess you're right about the algae. Most people would prefer the purple stuff. <I know I would! Cursed green hair...> I only have you guys to thank, because before I set up this tank I made sure that I read through all the relevant articles on your site. It's worked a treat! <Thank you very much - your compliments make our efforts worthwhile!>   I know how hard it is to get rid of green hair algae because it overran my old tank. That tank is now my quarantine tank <Excellent to hear - a QT is undoubtedly one of the best investments to make!> and it does have one branch of Halimeda starting to grow in it. <Which you will in time be able to use to start growth thereof in your main tank!>

Marine macro algae, Mandarin systems    6/11/06 Hi Bob, <Sadanandan> I have a 90 litre marine tank with live rock.... My main aim to grow Caulerpa species of macro algae.....(green type) I have two fluorescent tubes....15 watt  SunGlo (Hagen) and 15 watt actinic blue for the tank.... I have placed the algae... at the top most of the tank so the are the closest to the light.... <Most Caulerpa species do better "rooted" to/in the substrate> I just have a mandarin fish <Hard to maintain sufficient live foodstuffs in a twenty some gallon system for this...> in this tank and a single damsel (yellow tail damsel)... and I am not intending to add more fishes to the tank.... Is this light sufficient to help the algae grow? <Should be able to adapt to this make-up, intensity, yes.... though I'd switch out the actinic for more "white"> The tank has been cycling without fish for a month and the two fishes are there for a month now. I added the Caulerpa yesterday only. Parameter of my tank: Ph 8.3 0 nitrite and ammonia 10ppm nitrate. What other parameters are crucial for lush marine algae growth? <Do need some other micro-nutrients (e.g. soluble phosphate), sufficient and stable alkalinity, biomineral content...> Do they require bright light? <Variable by species... some do, some don't> One other question I have is the mandarin I have is a female.. is it advisable for me to add a male mandarin fish the same size or slightly bigger to the tank? Will they quarrel? <... not a good idea> Thanks for your wonderful support for my previous queries... Dr. Anup <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Chaetomorpha  7/15/06 Hey Crew. <Hello Wayne> Your site is great!  A great service you are all providing!  Keep up the great work. <Thank you.> A quick question for you that I couldn't find the answer to on your site. I've had a 40 gal refugium setup now for 6 months, supporting a 120 FOWLR (with softies). I bought a softball size of Chaetomorpha  to start and it has not grown at all.  It hasn't died either.  Over the past few months, I've resorted to buying more and adding it to the refug.  None of it has grown.  I have a 40watt pc, 3"sandbed, live rock, and a powerhead to keep circulation.  The Chaeto is not tumbling, and I can't seem to get it to do so.  It's suspended at the surface by the flow from the powerhead, otherwise it sinks. <I've attached Chaeto to live rock with a rubberband and it grew fine.> I've always struggled with algae growth in my display.   Any ideas that would help the Chaeto grow?  My LFS suggested I add iron to the tank.  I did so for 2 weeks, and hair algae is starting to grow in my display, without any noticeable growth in the Chaeto.  The livestock in my tank won't allow for a cleanup crew. <No cleanup crew adds to the problem you have.  Food should be fed sparingly, that is, feed only what the fish will eat.  You will have to resort to siphoning out any uneaten food and/or waste to minimize nutrients which will become a pizza party for nuisance algae.  Do read here and related links for help on controlling nutrients/algae in your system. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> Water parameters are... Nitrate - 0 Nitrite - 0 Ammonia - 0 PH - 8.3 Calcium - 400 Phosphate - 0 Thanks for your reply! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Wayne

Ulva Hello to all! I recently purchased some Ulva and Gracilaria verrucosa for my 20g refugium (from Florida-aqua-farms).   <both are nice macros... but please don't make a habit of mixing too many species together. Competition> The Gracilaria I just fixed in between some rocks, but the Ulva is just floating around.  Some is at the surface and the rest lying on the substrate.  Is this fine or do I need to fix it within the rocks?   <it does not attach readily... tying it down may help indeed> Oh, while I'm here. I currently have 4x96w PCs on my 65g tank (36"x18"x24").  I am thinking of swapping out 2 of the PCs and installing a 175w MH.  I know you need 1 bulb/24" of tank length.  Since my tank is 36" long, would 1 bulb be fine? <depends on what you are trying to grow. Its impossible for us to say if you have enough light without knowing this <G>. But I can say that one lamp indeed will grow most popular corals in the trade in such a shallow tank> Surfs Up! Jason <Mahalo. Anthony>

Lighting Chaetomorpha (1/22/04)    Hi, and thank you for your good work !! <A pleasure>    I'm searching for a couple of days on the web what is the amount of light (in lumens) the Chaetomorpha algae do need and how many hours/days at most can we light it?  <Don't know how many lumens. Standard output or PC fluorescent lights should be fine. I light mine with 46W of PC. W would not recommend more than 12 hours per day.> Is it the best choice of algae to put in a refugium with a deep sand bed  and to do nutrient export ?! <A matter of opinion. There are pros/cons to all algae. Read the FAQs on Chaeto & Caulerpa and choose which is best for you.> Thank you ! Steve Timmons  <Hope this helps. Steve Allen>   

Mud sump/Chaeto lighting  12/16/05 Hi All, <Hello Chris> I am setting up a miracle mud ecosystem sump and have a question regarding lighting the mud sump - I am thinking of using the sort of power compacts (PLET) that contain the starter gear in the base of the bulb and are designed as a direct replacement for incandescent (GLS) light bulbs. Example here - http://www.bltdirect.co.uk/cat615_1.htm What wattage would be suitable for the Mud portion of the 23x10x12" sump - mud area (where the Chaeto will be) is 10"x11.5" as per the ecosystem design, I have seen the 2410 sump for sale with 13w PC lighting - is this about right?  9w, 11w, 15w or 20w seem to be my choices in the UK <This light would probably work Chris, but you will need some sort of reflector above it to redirect the light into the sump.  I'd go with the 20w bulb.> Finally, what temperature (colour) range (Kelvin) would be most suitable for the strong performance of the mud/algae filter? I plan to probably use Chaetomorpha initially but I would imagine the needs of this would be inline with other algae. <6500-10000 will be fine.  James (Salty Dog)> Cheers Chris

Vague question/response re lighting  11/19/05 Hey guys, I was wondering how many watts might be needed for shaving brush plants in my 90 gallon. I wasn't exactly sure. Thanks. <... depends on depth... a few watts "per gallon"... See WWM re. Bob Fenner> 

Algae and Light Ok, greetings to all <Good evening! Scott F. with you tonight> Yet one more question from the man who should of found this web site before buying the tank.  I have an overcrowded (very) 55 gal bowfront marine tank with a magnum 350 filter.  We had very extreme algae problems for the first 8-9 months it was set up.  This was probably due to gross overfeeding, I want my fish to look like me!  After having the front of the tank covered with algae every day for months I finally quit the constant feeding and established a very regular schedule of feeding and maintenance, including monthly carbon changes, vacuuming biweekly and 10% water changes biweekly.  The next few months saw a steady decline in algae but it still leveled off at a point where I had to clean the glass twice a week.  So the next thing I decided to try limiting was the light.  I put it on a timer and reduced it to 4 hours a day.  The algae disappeared completely but I had almost constant high levels of nitrate >80.  Now I have increased the light to 7 hours a day and the nitrates are staying down <5 and the amount of algae on the glass walls is negligible although it does still grow on the rocks.  Is this method of controlling algae acceptable?  It is a fish only tank and they don't seem to care. <Well- I sure won't argue with regular water changes and use of activated carbon. Are you also using a protein skimmer? If not, do consider adding one to your system. A properly operating skimmer can be your best defense against algae problems, as well as organic buildup. As far as photoperiod (how long the lights are on)-in a fish only setup, that's purely subjective; just be consistent. There will always be some algae to scrape!> One more and I'll stop for tonight.  If you get stung by a lionfish does your reaction get worse each time? Someone told me that and its got me frightened! :)  I am starting to fear the lion. Thanks a million. Bryan Flanigan <I have not heard that one before, but anything is possible, I guess. Allergic reactions, etc., are all very real and very dangerous possibilities. In my opinion, the key is simply to not get stung the first time! Use caution whenever working in a tank containing a lionfish. Take care!>

Lighting Suggestions and Hair Algae Troubles Greetings gentlemen! I am ordering replacement bubs for a 100 gallon tank housing live rock, soft corals and mushrooms. Eventually, I intend to add a bubble or maybe a brain coral. I am currently running 420 watts VHO with 1 actinic, 1 50/50 and 1 Aquasun. I would like to achieve more of a blue look when I replace the lights but I also want to keep the critters happy. 1) Would 2 actinics and 1 AquaSun be acceptable and yet allow some flexibility with adding the new corals that I mentioned? <This sounds like not enough daylight to me. I like a lot of actinic light, more than most people, but I never use more than half actinic to half daylight. If it were me, I would stick with your current selection, one of each, or consider adding another actinic, four lamps total.> 2) What do you think is the best combination for this situation? <I am guessing this is a five foot long tank, 3 140 watt 60" lamps for 420 watts total. I am also going to guess you are using an IceCap 660. You could get yourself another set of end caps and rewire to use four 110 watt four foot lamps. That way you could use 2 actinics, 1 white actinic, and 1 AquaSun.> I am also having a massive hair algae problem accompanied by diatoms. This has been a problem since I first set the tank up. The hair algae grows very close to the rock and nothing will eat it. I only have three fish in the tank and most evenings I feed one cube of mysis shrimp. <Sounds ok> I do vary the diet with small pieces of squid, clam, Formula 2, and silversides, but always in small amounts. No supplements except for B-Ionic. Alk is 5.2, Ca is 280, and pH is normally 8.3. <Your calcium is too low, but probably suppressed, at least slightly, by your elevated alkalinity.> Temp is a constant 79 degrees. Tank is slightly more than one year old. I use RO/DI water for all changes and top-off. <Good! Be sure the maintenance of this unit is up to par; prefilters and mixed resin DI cartridge replaced on schedule.> Lights are on for 10 hours a day. <If anything a bit too short.> Oh, I currently have a T1000 skimmer (trash) and next week I am replacing it with a Euro-Reef. <With either try to make it produce a cup dark skimmate daily.> Believe it or not, I do 20 gallon water changes weekly with aged Instant Ocean. <Very good> 3) Can you help me solve this algae problem? <Nothing you mentioned sticks out, but rest assured nutrients had to come in somewhere. This stuff does not grow in a vacuum. It has to feed on something.> I'm game for doing whatever is needed to solve this problem. <If you cannot starve it out with your new skimmer in about a month, I would be tempted to take all the rock out, give it a good scrub in saltwater, and make a near 100% water change. This is drastic and can be very dangerous/catastrophic if done incorrectly. All the new water must be well aged and adjusted to match exactly for salinity and temperature. You have to remove all the livestock and basically reacclimate them as if you were moving them to a new/different tank. This is not to be taken lightheartedly, but can be done relatively safely. Let's hope the new skimmer and possible new cartridges on the RO/DI work.> 4) I am also hoping that a lighting change with less white light and more blue light will help my situation. Do you agree? <Probably not> Thanks so much for providing this invaluable service. Dave D <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Green Algae and Heat troubles Howdy to whomever tonight! <Steven Pro at your service.> Ok, the refugium is up and running, my mangroves are going dormant still, and I have two more problems: green algae and too much heat. The green algae is covering the glass and rocks. My readings are all zero (nitrates are barely there, and going down), but my phosphates are in the 0.8 range (SeaTest) <This is to high. I cannot remember, but I thought you were using an RO unit.> and all the filters, carbon, and water changes have not improved this. (The "batting filter that is blue/white, a green phosphate filter media, and carbon with phosphate removal particles.) The new (two weeks) Aqua-C is putting out dark green gunk, but not enough. <You will get the hang of this and soon enough the skimmer will starve out the algae.> Still working on this, trying to find the sweet spot. Water changes have not helped much. Every time I clean the glass, the stuff reappears. I have taken out all of the powerheads due to new system with the plumbing all around the top, but is seems there isn't enough flow. We have a Mag 18 return pump going up to the main tank. <This should be more than adequate for your tank.> Should I add on back in, near the front, to "blow off" the algae on a more constant basis? <I would leave the powerheads out for now.> And hope that the green is skimmed out? <It will in time.> Problem with heat: my tank goes from 78 to 84 or even 86! <I really do not like that temperature swing.> Low 60's outside the house, low 70's inside the house, but the tank heats. We left the lights off today, to see if that was the problem. Nope, got to 84. This seems to happen UNDER the tank, where the refugium is. Is this heat from the Aqua-C EV 180? Or the Mag 7 for it? Or even the Mag 18? <Likely the pumps> We open the cabinet doors, and it feels like jungle air - moist heat - comes out. This can't be good. Your suggestions so far, and the many "conversations" we have had, all have helped tremendously(!!!) and I am hoping that you can work that wonderful magic once again, so my fish and brand new corals have a hope of surviving! I'm still afraid for the Devil's Hand - hasn't put out the polyps in a long time, even with a "spot" aimed almost right at it. I'm hoping that I do not have to put in a powerhead, what do you think? -Cathy in Texas <>< <You may want to install a small fan in the cabinet to blow out the heat and cool things off. -Steven Pro>

Shaving brush algae questions- 5/30/03 (The algae, not the item you use with soap and a razor...!) What kind of lighting does the merfolk's shaving brush need? <moderate to bright... roughly 4-5 watts per gallon over 18" of water or less> Also, how deep should the substrate be to support the "stem"? Thanks! <sink the "root ball" so to speak down at least 2-3" in a 5+" substrate minimum. Best regards, Anthony>

Algae Farm Hi Bob, My quarantine tank is a simple 10 gallon, $30 Wal-Mart deal with a cheap filter and a very basic light hood. It works fine to quarantine the new fish and to administer some medication when needed. It seems like a waste to just have it sitting there empty when its not needed as a quarantine tank (which means its empty most of the time). So, I was thinking of turning it into a algae aqua farm for my tangs, but wanted to bounce the concept off from you first. <Good idea... maybe it can/could be tied in with your main system as a sump/refugium with slow flow rate... and the circulation to/from cut off if/when you need/want to utilize it for other purposes?> I was thinking of filling it with water, having no substrate in it like a normal quarantine tank (and for when it is needed as a quarantine tank), and keeping the filter going as a basic water mover. I was thinking of then taking a couple of chunks of live rock / base rock from the display tank and tossing them in, along with a macro-algae encrusted piece of rock from the LFS. I am thinking that the algae should grow like wild fire with the hood on 24 / 7 -- I could then toss the rocks back and forth from the display tank for the tangs to have fresh food. What do you think? Am I missing anything? What could be added to make it better; make the algae grow faster? <Having some water from your main system go through would supply needed/desired nutrients, and in turn modify your water chemistry to the benefit of the main system. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the FAQs beyond.> Thanks for the input, as always! Dale.
<Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

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