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FAQs about Using Marine Macro-Algae 4

Related Articles: Marine Algae, Algae Can Be Your FriendRefugiumsAvoiding 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: Marine (Macro) Algae 1, Marine (Macro) Algae 2, Marine (Macro) Algae 3, Marine (Macro) Algae 5, Rationale, Identification, Selection/Compatibility/Control, Systems, LightingNutrition, Disease/Pests/Predators, Culture Algae Use in Refugiums, Coralline Algae: Use in Marine AquariumsMarine Algae ID 1, Marine Algae ID 2, Marine Algae Control FAQs II, Marine Algaecide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; Controlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Green Algae, Brown/Diatom Algae

Your thoughts on my in tank macroalgae garden concept.   03/9/06 WWM Crew, I am planning a large concrete tank, a few thousand gallons. <Whoaaaa, I'm getting jealous now.> It will have a standard refugium, but I am toying with the idea of an in tank macroalgae garden that will give me all the benefits of the macroalgae [either Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria] and will also serve as a constant food source for the herbivores. My concept is to build a pvc frame,48x15x12,then cover bottom and sides with 1/2 square plastic mesh. All preliminary dimensions.] The pvc will be end capped so the frame will float. <Aw, no hiding places for the fishies?> It would be positioned towards the back of the tank and secured in such a way that I can pull it forward for easy harvest and maintenance. It would have a dedicated light source.    The fish will be able to nibble at it thru the mesh, but most of the macroalgae and pods within would be protected. What are your thoughts on my combination floating refugium, pod house, veggie garden concept? <Well Rip, it sure sounds like a good plan.  Try it, isn't going to cost much to build it.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Rip

Regarding the use of Macroalgae and DSB in a unorthodox remote manner  2/26/06 Crew, Hope you are all well. <Doing well thank you! Tim answering your questions today.> I have been unable to find any reference to this idea and would like a singular or collective opinion if you have interest. For those of us who have smaller reef systems with no room for refuge, sump, etc. (at least no room we are allowed in the living room or I would have 10 interconnected tanks); <My situation also at present... though stay tuned as I am intending on soon posting a useful article regarding this issue!> Here are my assumptions - Since macroalgae does a wondrous job ( specifically Chaeto and Caulerpa, Chaeto being my preference ) <Mine too - Caulerpa has a host of problems of its own!> in the removal of dissolved organics/excess nutrients - and a DSB if maintained properly can be wondrous as well - and a DSB can be remote Could it be possible to have a non-connected system (i.e. LARGE Rubbermaid container) with the proper heat, moderate circulation and enough lighting to effect macroalgae growth, to basically use as a tank water  purifier.  I can envision swapping 10 gallons of change water out of the tank with 10 gallons out of the remote system and letting the DSB and macro 'process' it for later use. <I would not recommend this, although I appreciate your thinking. The reason is that doing water changes do not simply reduce the level of DOCs in the water, keeping nitrates and phosphates under control, but also i) removes a variety of other chemicals that may be in the water that may not be filtered out by algae or a DSB, for example the toxins released by some corals and other animals ii) water changes actually are important for adding chemicals to the water, in particular trace elements that may become depleted otherwise. Of course with regard to the latter, you could supplement these manually with additives, but I would still be concerned about a potential build-up of toxins in the water.> I could set this up in the garage even in colder months with the proper insulation and heating and have an available supply ready to use as change water.  Would also ensure that when/if the DSB got icky or Caulerpa went crashed, there would be no main tank crash. Just a wild thought and thanks for any input, if you feel its warranted. <I would recommend avoiding this option> My only other options is to hypnotize spouse to put a 120g in the formal living room that can have a refugium...<If you manage this, please do tell me your technique as I have been trying the same for some time now, but so far my spiral print-outs have been unsuccessful!>.but she might see that coming.. Take care, Bill

Re: Regarding the use of Macroalgae and DSB in a unorthodox remote manner - 2/28/2006 <Hello - Tim responding again. I hope that you are well!> Yet another reason that WWW is one of the best sounding boards <Thank you very much - we do try!> - that is an EXCELLENT point - I thought that I had thought all the options through and the non-exported 'stuff' simply did not enter my brain. <Thank goodness - most of it is the kind of 'stuff' that you do not particularly want entering your brain either! :o) > Especially considering the new dragonette that I just got acclimated and has been spewing a little mucus during acclimation :) <Do ensure that your tank is adequate to support this lovely little fish - or that you have a replenishable source of copepods!> Interesting how diatoms seem to be attracted to any amount of mucus from every nook of the tank..... ewww..  Oh well, water changes it is :).  I also noticed that one of my Strombus snails appeared to be expelling multiple cloud bursts of gametes - I thought most all snails copulated in some way and then laid egg strands - is this something you have ever seen? <No I am afraid that is not something that I have experience with - perhaps other members of the crew will be able to comment on this. In any case, do check the WWM site for more information.> I can't imagine it is an efficient way of reproduction with the speed at which they move :) <Interesting point!> I could not get a pic fast enough, then it went on its merry way cleaning the rock.... Take care Anchored Algae?  12/04/05 Are there any algae or marine plants that can be anchored in the main tank for a little added pod production. <Yes a great deal of choices. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgae.htm for ideas. I have a FOWLR tank full of flowing reds and greens. Their ability to survive will depend very much on the tank inhabitants (no tangs!) and their taste for macroalgae. As for 'pod production in a refugium... do be aware that the production is likely due to the lack of fish/predators in the 'fuge, not due to the macroalgae. Best regards, John>

System Setup questions... macroalgae, cnidarian choices 11/6/05 Hi there crew, Great job on the site, you guys keep it up!!! On to the question, I have a 75 gallon tank (79 lbs LR, <1" of fine aragonite) with a 10 gallon wet dry going to convert to a LR sump and take out bioballs in time. I have a Sea Life Systems skimmer and wet dry, rated for a 125 gallon tank. Ok, on to what I am going to get... I am going to get an Aqua C Remora Pro w/ Mag 3 pump, a Hang on tank Refugium (5 gallon) and put 20 lbs of Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Sand, and 6 lbs of Marine BioSediment as substrate (in the fuge') Live rock rubble, and Chaeto, do you suggest any other types of macro to go along with my Chaeto? <Mmm, nope... not in this size, type of set-up> I have 440 watts of VHO, 2 actinic, 2 white 4 48" 110 watt bulbs actinics on for about 11 hrs each day, whites for about 9. I also have about 1100 gallons per hour in water movement, (tank has cycled... completely) Right now in the tank I have a T. crocea I believe, a Yellow leather coral, and a soon to be returned carpet anemone! Now, I've had an idea about my lighting situation, I would like a tad of an upgrade, so here it is.... I have a canopy where my 4 lights are, and the bulbs are only about 2" from the surface of the water, so no space for halides there, so instead I am going to cut a sizeable hole in my canopy so that the light from this fixture https://host100.ipowerweb.com/~marinean/shoppro/metal_advancedhang.htm <<This is a secure site - https = secured site (hypertext transfer protocol secure) - one may have to be logged in to view, have not verified. MH>> will be able to shine into my tank. The hole will allow the MH light to shine through into my tank, however I am slightly worried about the MH burning my VHO's which are across the canopy, and if I removed part of the canopy, the lights would be in direct contact with the MH, a worry? <Possibly, yes... metal halides get very hot... need to shield from the other lamps, canopy...> The corals I will start with are: -1 Yellow Leather (already in) -1 Candy Cane Coral -1 Plate Coral -1 Brain Coral -1 Button Polyp -1 Colony Polyp -1 Hairy Mushroom -1 Bullseye Mushroom This list is for starters, do you see any problems in the list? <Mmm, just the usual garden mix allelopathy issues... and the Yellow Sarcophyton not being easily kept... positioning/distancing colonies, taking care with husbandry/maintenance to dilute interspecies conflict effects... should be fine> As soon as I get rid of the carpet anemone I will be starting to stock the corals, unless suggested otherwise by you. As of now my params are: pH: 8.2 - 8.4 Nitrate: 5 - 15 (I keep em' a little high for my clam) Nitrite: 0 Ammonia: 0 Alkalinity - 12 dKH Calcium: 450 Temperature: 78 - 81 Salinity: 1.025 I try to dose my tank as little as possible but instead do a weekly 10 gallon water change with Reef Crystals Sea Salt. Thanks for you overview/review/comment/criticism Have a great day, Clare <Thank you for writing so clearly, well, and sharing in general. Bob Fenner>  Old lights, i's 11/3/05 Hello I am setting up a new marine tank (48"x24"x24") and i will be taking one light off my old tank (a 40 watt marine-Glo) to use on the new tank whilst the live rock cures. Once that has occurred i will add the other light from my old tank (a 40 watt power-Glo) as well as the livestock (2 percula clowns, 1 hawkfish, 1 banded shrimp, 1 coral (id unknown)) These animals are all traveling well. Will the 40 watt lighting be sufficient to promote macro algae growth on the live rock? <Mmm, no> If not, will both lights be enough? <Two normal output fluorescents of 40 watts? No> Do i need an upgraded lighting system? <Likely so> By the way, I'm bemused at why tangs are so popular to cut down the algae. I HATE tangs! but i LOVE the macro algae. I learnt from a past experience never to get another tang after my previous one nonchalantly munched away all of my prize macro algae and wouldn't touch the hair algae. Thanks for your help! <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgae.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> 

Macro-Algae Choices for Marine Refugiums  10/20/05 Hi Crew! <Hi Steven.> Another question (hopefully I am not boring anyone). <What I’m sorry I was dozing off, just teasing. No worries.> I read the FAQ sections regarding Caulerpa and the movement towards banning of it. <Already banned in my state, irresponsible discarding is to blame.> I have had some growing in my refugium section of my wet/dry for about a month now.  It was placed on top of crushed live rock and I have mini PC lights on it 24 hours. <Good be sure to prune it, keep it in check and avoid a “sexual” event.>  I have also read about most of the "Crew" really liking Red Gracilaria much better.  <Yes but it is very difficult to grow, Chaetomorpha is a good alternative.> My question is does either of these two work any better in a refugium, (i.e. controlling nitrates, natural filtration, fortification, etc.)? <Grac. Would be better…if you could get it to grow, most can’t.>  How long does a refugium need to be established before recognizing the benefits? <Varies from system to system but a few months in my experience before noticing drastic changes.>   Can I place both plants in the refugium? <No, one will “strangle” the other in competition.> In addition, I have read that both of these are beneficial to Tangs if offered to graze on periodically. <Yes tangs are herbivores.>  Are either of the two better suited for this? <In my experience tangs definitely prefer the Grac.> Thank you so much for helping us "novices trying to do the right thing" from making wrong decisions. <Your welcome.> Regards, Steven   <Adam J.> Chaetomorpha Chaeto  9/30/05 Hi, I just received some Chaetomorpha and was wondering if I could place it in my penguin 170 without the filter cartridge, with some live rock rubble on top of the algae because its really stringy and I don't want it all over the place. Also would 7 watts of PC lighting be enough and when will I see some pod growth. <I believe there will be too much turbulence inside of the filter box.  A hang on refugium such as an Aqua Fuge which can be had for about $75.00 with pump, would be the way I would go.  Pods have to be present before reproduction can begin.  In a refugium they are slowly pumped into the main display leaving enough behind to continually multiply thus providing a continual live food source.  In your penguin, they would be shot out before any breeding could begin.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks Aiptasia in the Chaetomorpha - 09/11/2005 Good morning fine folks!  Hope you're having a nice relaxing weekend. <More or less, yes.  Thanks.  Hope you've had a good one, too.> I received some Chaetomorpha from a fellow aquarist a couple of days ago through the mail.  It was very compacted but otherwise looked nice and green and healthy. <Nifty.> I put some of it in my 20 GAL holding tank and the rest in my "in tank refugium" in the main tank.  The refugium is nothing more than a box made of egg crate and wrapped in window screen to contain the algae and keep the Yellow Tang out. <So far, so good....> Tonight as I was feeding the tank, I noticed something sticking out of the Chaeto.   <I'm hearing the "Jaws" theme starting, here....> Upon closer inspection, there seem to be MANY Aiptasia living in it.   <Insert hysterical scream> I thought they would only be introduced via Live Rock.   <Anything they can grow on can introduce them.> Could you please take a minute and look at the pictures and tell me if I have the ID correct?  Is it Aiptasia? <Yes sir.> If so, I'll just throw the Chaeto out so as to make sure it does not get into the main tank. <I would probably store it in your separate/quarantine system and kill the little guys with Kalkwasser injection.  Either way, good to get 'em out of your tank.> Yet another "plug" for quarantining EVERYTHING wet that goes in your tank. <Yes, agreed.> http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y195/navajo001/aip3.jpg http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y195/navajo001/aip2.jpg http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y195/navajo001/aip1.jpg As always, THANK YOU for your time and all that you do!  Still hoping to get enough experience and confidence to be able to volunteer my time to your site someday. <Hey, gain that confidence quick! (grin)> Thank you, Tom (The Tool Man) <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Seaweed culture  8/31/05 Bob I was going thru ORA's website on how they culture seaweeds. What do they mean when they say they use "An air-generated method of tumbling the algae in large vats is employed to culture them." <Air bubbles, from pressurized air, are released in a circular (torus) fashion on the bottom of circular tanks, lifting water and the algae and turning it "donut fashion" in the water... gives all exposure to light, moves nutrients about. BobF> http://www.orafarm.com/algae.html regards Perry Re: Unidentified Green "Grass" Macroalgae, lighting 8/14/05 Hello, <Hi again> Thanks for the help identifying the Chlorodesmis and the link to the page about the other green macroalgae.  It was very informative.  BTW, do you think that it is advisable to run the light (32 w PC) in the refugium 24 hours a day on the Chlorodesmis or would it benefit from a "dark period?"  Many thanks! Best, Christopher <Almost all other life other than Caulerpa spp. should be afforded a "dark period"... I would run the light during all the hours when your main systems lighting is off, overlapping a few hours with the sump/refugium. Bob Fenner>

Reef Aquarium Set-up 7/30/05 Hi there! <<Hello - Ted here>> I'd firstly like to congratulate you on a site that is packed full of information - reading through some of it has finally given me the inspiration I needed to set up a larger marine tank of my own - its awesome! :)<<Thanks for the feedback.>> So, I'm currently in the process of setting up a 60 gallon tank, with a 20 gallon sump, incorporating 3 sections - refugium, skimmer and return. My first question is about the cycling process for a refugium setup. I have cycled a tank with plastic biomedia before and fully understand the cycling process - is the cycling process exactly the same for refugium setup? i.e. drop in a few shrimps, and away you go? <<The cycling process is identical.>> To kickoff the cycle, what would you think about just stocking it full with about 20 kg.s of uncured live rock?? <<Cycling a system with live rock is good method.>> Will it start getting a bit messy and require way too many water changes?<<How messy and how many water changes would depend. How fresh is the live rock? The less time the live rock is out of water, the better the chances that organisms will survive the relocation to you new setup. Decaying material in the live rock feeds the cycle and the more decaying matter, the stronger the odor of decay and the more water changes.>> One last question - I live in Australia, and am finding it almost impossible to get hold of any Chaetomorpha for my fuge - is this species of macroalgae unique to certain areas or should it exist on all coral reefs?<<There are several species of Chaetomorpha. The one most commonly found in home reef systems in C. linum. It is also called spaghetti algae>> If I still have no success obtaining Chaetomorpha, what is your opinion on Caulerpa?? How high is the risk of it going sexual and leaching nutrients back into the wate?<<If the goal is nutrient export, then I would use Chaetomorpha. It does not have the issues that Caulerpa does. Caulerpa can go sexual with excessive growth or changes in lighting. It is simpler to use Chaetomorpha. Many successful systems use Caulerpa so if you can't find Chaetomorpha anywhere, go ahead and use Caulerpa.>> Thank you so much for your time. <<You're welcome!>> Paul <<Cheers - Ted>> Refugium question Aloha Mr. Fenner, mike here, i had a question about live refugium starter kits. i currently have a 30 gallon reef system with a 15 gallon refugium/sump. my tank has been up for about 2 yrs now.  my only filtration is a small Penguin Biowheel filter and a Seaclone 150, it seems to be doing an alright job. <Fine for this size system, with good care/maintenance overall> (i was going to pick up a Georeef skimmer cs6-1, i also wanted your opinion about overskimming). <No need to switch here> the starter kit i was interested in was the inland aquatics flora and fauna kits. they can be found here http://www.inlandaquatics.com/prod/prod_refu.html . <Ah, yes. Know the owner/manager, Morgan Lidster. A fine fellow> would you suggest using this product to boost ones refugium? <Yes> do you have other suggestions for a more natural type of biological filtration? <Mmm, the periodic trading out of substrates (rock, sand...). Not easily done in Hawai'i.> I'm afraid the types of algae included in the kit may try to reproduce and cause my tank to crash (the Caulerpa algae mainly). i have already spoken to the personnel at inland but i just wanted a second opinion. your opinion and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Aloha mike <Considering your success, apparent good care, powers of observation... I would not be concerned re one type of algae over-populating this bit of water. Keep trimming it and you'll be fine. Bob Fenner> Containing "Chaeto" (Keeping Chaetomorpha Where You Want It!) Hi Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> Thanks for the previous response to my worries of a die off in my tank, the nitrogen cycle has settled down nicely now and I'm just waiting for the last little bit of nitrite to disappear and the nitrates are progressively dropping (down to about 10ppm now) and the axinellae polyps are looking very healthy. <Glad to hear that your tank is headed in the right direction!> I have become addicted to trawling through your site and I've learned so much from it, thank you. <We're thrilled to be of service!> I have another question though; I have bought some Chaetomorpha on e-bay which arrived in great condition compared to the Caulerpa which arrived half dead (I have since binned the Caulerpa having read so many bad things about it) <I can't blame you for doing that!> The Chaetomorpha arrived as a kind of ball of spaghetti and I'm not sure whether I'm supposed to unravel it all or just drop it in the tank as is. (i.e. does it need 'planting' or can it just be 'dropped' in the tank and left to it's own devices). (Bearing in mind that the water flow in the tank just carries it around and I'm concerned for it getting tangled on my polyps) Any advice would be much appreciated, Thanking you kindly, Leif Hinks, Birmingham - UK <Well, Leif, with Chaetomorpha, it's really easy- you literally drop it in the tank. No need to unravel the stuff...In fact, you'd drive yourself mad trying to do that! Generally, I recommend employing this macroalgae in the sump or refugium, for the very reason that you cite: It tends to move around! However, I have seen it in displays a number of times. Since this algae tends to grow in a dense "ball", you can literally "impale" it with a toothpick or small dowel, which can hold it in place. Alternatively, you can utilize fishing line to gently tie it to a rock. Either way, this algae grows rapidly under conditions that it finds to it's liking, and you'll really appreciate it's capabilities as a nutrient export device! Enjoy it- and share it with some friends when you harvest it! Regards, Scott F.>

Growing Algae In A Marine Tank...or...Build It And They Will Come! - 06/14/05 Good Afternoon from San Diego! <<Good evening from South Carolina!>> I've got a new marine tank. <<Congrats!>> It's been up and running for about 4 months, with the nitrification cycle completed about a month ago.  I use a canister filter, bio-wheel and 30 pounds of live rock for filtration, etc.  I'm planning on purchasing another 30 pounds Fiji rock soon, in 5-10 pound increments. <<All good...make sure you service that canister filter weekly/bi weekly at most.>> Three damsels currently reside in the tank as well.  The tank is only a 60 gallon - but seems to have good flow and current. <<Seems?>> The water quality is excellent - as far as readings from test kits, temperature and gravity goes.  I have taken advice of my veteran peers (on WWM) and do one small thing at a time - then wait, check readings, wait once more - then make the next move, etc.  It's a slow process - but a very enjoyable and satisfactory one at that! <<You are the exception my friend...I hope you are able to maintain your restraint!>> (FYI - I'm purchasing a protein skimmer soon) <<I would have done this before now.>> My question is about algae and live rock.  Would I need to encourage algal growth for the tank?  Would the live rock normally produce this? <<The TANK will normally produce this.   Have no fear, algae in one form or another will make itself known sooner or later.  For other than calcareous algae, most aquarists strive to prevent/restrict algae growth.>> I've had the rock in the tank for only a week.  In your forum, you mentioned many life forms could appear from the rock.  How long would that normally take to see growth from any form? <<This will depend on the quality of the rock...presence of grazers/predators...>> Even though I'm pleased with the water conditions, clarity is perfect, etc - I fear I may not be using adequate lighting, or the physical location of the aquarium may be poor.  Lighting is a 40W single fluorescent tube - a plant/aquatic type with 1600 lumens and 2700 color spectrum. <<Your fears are well founded here, you need better lighting for the rock's benefit.  My recommendation for this tank would be a minimum of two 65w 6500K PC lights.>> The tank itself is in a very bright room against the wall, sans direct sunlight.  I do not have/use a timer or regulated lighting schedule for the tank. <<Get a timer.>> Using this setup - not a speck of algae of any kind in the four months of operation.   <<Not surprised...your lighting is dismal.>> Maybe this is fine?  Well, possibly fine for the current venue with the damsels.  However, I feel if I were to move up to some other types of fish, I might need to get that algae growth going.  Is this true? <<This suspiciously sounds like you are thinking of Tangs.>> My hope is to eventually graduate myself into a reefer - well, that's a long ways down the road.  I'm enjoying being a novice at the moment! <<Ah...do strive to learn all you can BEFORE making the plunge.>> Anyway, what are your thoughts on my situation?  Is a tank without algal growth acceptable? <<Actually no...algae is a very natural/beneficial part of a marine system...the trick is to keep it from reaching nuisance/plague proportions. Will the live rock, after a time, produce desired algae? <<Very likely, yes.>> I will end up with 60-75 pounds of LR over the next few weeks. The desired product for the near future is FOWLR, consisting of a blue tang, fire angel, maroon clown, yellow tang OR butterfly, a couple Catalina gobies and a cleaner shrimp.  Too much bio-load for my setup perhaps? <<Yes...your tank is too small for the tangs.>> Is anything in this list a potential problem for others?  Or possibly too difficult for a beginner such as myself? <<Yes again...the Catalina gobies require much COOLER water temperatures (below 72 degrees) than the other fish...these fish are best kept in a temperate/species specific environment.>> Well, that's the plan for the short to medium term.  Long term, I'd like to move into a reef, but I know that will require substantial equipment upgrades, replacements, knowledge and so forth. <<You seem to have a good understanding of what's ahead...>> Am I fine with those livestock choices - or do their presence require more than I possess currently, in a non-algal environment?  Can they live happily without it? <<Dietary requirements for algae can be easily supplemented, but do rethink your stocking plan re this tank.>> Thank you and all the folks at WWM for your time!  The information you put out is a welcome - and comforting thing to a nervous and eager beginner such as me! <<Thank you...one more reason why we do what we do <G>.>> As always - I'll keep reading your forum.. <<Good advice for all.>> - Jim <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Growing Porphyra perforata and Kappaphycus alvarezii (Opening A Sushi Bar?) - 06/10/05 I am trying to grow two types of Red algae (Porphyra perforata and Kappaphycus alvarezii) in 20 gallon fish tanks.  I have synthetic seawater (Ricca chemical) and Instant Ocean mix.  I also have a hydrometer, floating type for specific gravity determinations. I am using a chiller at 25C/77F for temperature control with light source and air circulation provided within a Conviron growth chamber.  Rio pump 2500 for circulation through the chiller, fitted with a nylon filter over intake.  The pH is maintained at 8.0.  Do I need to have rocks or other means of attachment for growth of the two species listed?  I want to culture the macro algae, which was shipped on wet ice, but am having problems getting it to grow in the 20 gallon tanks...any suggestions would be helpful.  I want to ONLY grow the algae, no fish involved. <<Well Dennis, my first suggestion would be to separate the two species if they aren't all ready to eliminate energy loss due to competition (chemical aggression).  Next...the P. perforata; according to my research, is a northern Pacific algae...likely the water temp should be in the 68-72 degree range for it to prosper...the K. alvarezii; again, according to my research, is a tropical algae...bumping its water temp to 79-80 degrees may increase growth.  Based on this you may need to operate two systems, or specialize in one species of algae.  As for rocks, both algae are found attached/overgrowing a substrate/other sessile organisms, so it probably couldn't hurt to add a few, though I don't know about the algae's ability to reattach.  You might find that obtaining specimens still attached to a substrate will be more suitable for propagation.  Providing intense lighting, increasing water flow, and supplementing iodine/iron may prove beneficial as well.>> Thank you, Dennis O'Neill <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Macro Algae...Which one? - 06/06/05 Dear Crew: <<Greetings>> I am looking for macro algae for my 29-gallon "suspension" refugium.  I built it specifically to allow water to flow from the bottom of the skimmer compartment upwards into the algae chamber.  The water then flows through a sieve and overflows into the return chamber where an Iwaki MD30RXT pumps it into a 75-gallon reef aquarium laden with live rock and oolithic sand.  Hopefully, the flow can keep macro algae suspended and tumbling in the refugium. Currently, the refugium is bare with no live rock or sand to serve as algal anchors. <<I like to put a deep sand bed here.>> Each weekend, I perform a 25-gallon water change to supplement the efforts of my Remora skimmer and to keep my anemones, coral and fish thriving.  I want the macro algae to reduce the need for massive water changes and to out-compete diatoms since my Kold Ster-il unit does not filter silica. <<I'm not aware of macro algae doing much of anything for silicates.  But adding it for nutrient export is still a great idea.>> Is there any consensus regarding the "best" macro algae for my needs?  I originally had Gracilaria parvispora in mind but there are postings to indicate that it does not do well in a nutrient-poor environment required to prevent diatom outbreaks. <<My vote would be to add Chaetomorpha linum for nutrient export...and not sweat the silicates.  Diatoms usually show as part of the natural algae progression during a tank cycle, but subsequent outbreaks are usually easily controlled with adequate water flow in the system.  Silicates are best controlled by water filtration.  If you don't have a diatom problem now, the fact that you are doing such large water changes as often as you are would suggest that you don't have much (if indeed any) of a silicate problem with your make-up water.>> Regards, Paul. <<Eric R.>>

Refugium Question - 06/03/05 Ok I recently bought a large CPR refugium.  I currently have a DSB in it with Chaeto growing in it. <<Super!>> My main and on going problem is the issue with Cyano I cant manage to get rid of it and since the water flowing through the refuge is so little it seems to grow like a wildfire in there. <<Solution is simple...step up the flow.  Chaetomorpha algae is appreciative of high water flow...Cyanobacteria is not.>> I have a 75 gallon system very lightly stocked with fish heavy LPS and soft corals. ETSS Reef Devil and all my other specs are in line as to where they should be. <<OK>> I only feed maybe 3 times a week and my fish scarf everything up. <<I would feed more often than this...at least daily.>> I have tons of flow going through my tank but I still can't manage to kick the Cyano. <<But you stated the flow through your refugium was little.>> And the Cyano in my refuge seems to keep killing chunks of my Chaeto. <<Yes...large/heavy amounts will cover/smother.>> I use RO/DI water and I will be changing the filters on it soon.  But how can I get rid of the Cyano in my refuge. <<As already stated.>> Some ppl have told me that this is where you want Cyano but I don't want any at all. <<A small patch or two is no real problem.>> Main question over all is how do I get rid of the Cyano in my refugium because it is disgusting and it keeps killing my Cyano? <<Kick up the that flow through your 'fuge.>> Thanks hope I was clear. <<Clear enough, yes.>> Stephen <<Eric R.>>

Macro algae distributors Dear Bob   I've bothered Anthony Calfo lately with too many questions so I thought I'd give him a break :)     Referencing the "Reef Invertebrate" book that Anthony and yourself wrote, I've been trying to find anyone  who sells macro algae like the pictures in your book (specifically page 71, the sample of Caulerpa, Ochtodes and Botryocladia).  I've found three different strains of Caulerpa but nothing on the two red species.   Can you point me towards some links?  I'd really like to grow some of that red algae in my refugium. Thanks for your time   V/R   J.J. Johanson <I'd contact Morgan Lidster at Inland Aquatics (Terre Haute, Indiana) and Gerald Heslinga of Indo-Pacific Sea Farms (Big Island, HI) re. Bob Fenner> Regarding your advice Hi there Bob, hopefully this email will get to YOU PERSONALLY. Just so you know, you have a great reputation in the Las Vegas Valley!! <Man, I've got to get some of those nose, glasses and mustache disguises!> Upon reading and reading to avoid having to bother you with an email, I stumbled across this in the WWM and I am now not 50% confused but 100%! lol! I have been researching adding macro-algae to my marine tank, and I have decided that Caulerpa is just too unstable and I don't want a 24-hour light on it. Anyhow, I have decided that the red kelp and several other NON-Caulerpa varieties are the way to go. Then I found an email where one of your guys, Anthony, said to an emailer to only pick ONE type of macro-algae as different kinds will fight (chemical warfare). <Mmm, to some extent...> Okay, but if it is all Grac., but different colors, isn't that okay. Does that mean I can't add shaving brush then? Does the kelp release toxins when they go asexual? <Sort of release different chemicals all the time> Or do any of the non-Caulerpa release toxin and cloud the tank when they go asexual??  <All life produces compounds that affect all other life... there, that's pretty much all-inclusive> What can we mix? <What you desire... some will "win out" over others depending on specifics of your situation... light, nutrients, et al... Bob Fenner> 

Finalizing Skimmer Selection... Ok, I've acquired a used 150g Oceanic Reef Ready tank, with a 29g sump and 29fuge. Between sump and fuge is a Little Giant 3mMDQX-SC to return with the Oceanic overflows/returns. I'll Plumb 1/2" pvc around the bottom under sand, with outlets coming out into 45 degree elbows on t's. I'm thinking 8 outlets centered around bottom from a Won Brothers Sen 900GA submerged hidden in rocks, but accessible if needed, eliminates 5ft of the head that way, instead of underneath tank. That's the idea for water movement. <It certainly can work, but an internal pump may impart significant heat into the tank. A properly designed closed loop essentially operates with no real head pressure, and has the advantage of keeping the pump out of the tank. Just a thought.> Dilemma: Trying to decide on skimmer, with looking over the FAQs and skimmer impression till I'm cross-eyed, Would the ASM G-3, extruded acrylic similar to Euro-reef 6-2, or the Ev120 being the 120 is $30 more than G-3, or the Ev180 that is $79 more. Of course that is even without the pumps for the Aqua C, would have to calculate a pump in that as well. <I have seen and personally tested the G3 not too long ago, and find it to be an extremely capable, easy-to-operate skimmer. Based on the experience that I had, I would not hesitate to recommend it. It offers a lot of "bang for the buck", too!> Also the on going expense to run the skimmer being considered. The ASM is a Sedra 5000 pump. Or would a My Reef Creations (local company) MR-1 with Sen900 pump being $250 plus about $80 for pump, The MR-1 is a Becket type, the DIY Anthony Calfo has on this site or Tunze Comline. Of course, something that I don't have to manipulate daily so it will skim would be appreciated. Granted don't mind the dumping of cup at daily feeding time. <Gosh, all of the skimmers that you are considering are good models, offering value and performance. I'd go with the G3 based on it's simplicity.> I have about 30" of height available, so shouldn't be a problem, person got it from had a EV120 on a box under the stand.  About 200Lbs LR overall. Skimmer and additional rock will be in sump side. I'll have to put a baffle on side with skimmer so that only the filthy water is skimmed, and output of skimmer on other side of baffle. <Certainly can work.> Rock and about a 10"dsb in 1 29g and acquire some Chaetomorpha (sp) Halimeda, and Chlorodesmis. Which would be best, a Combination of the 3? <A combination is always nice, but I'm a big fan of Chaetomorpha, myself.> Some Ulva Lettuce Plant-Aquacultured also in the fuge, harvested to feed tangs/angels. 65w pc light.  Plan on a A. Japonicus, Paracanthurus hepatus, Zebrasoma flavescens, Centropyge bispinosus, Couple Nemateleotris magnifica, 2 tank bred Amphiprion ocellaris, 1 Juvenile Pomacanthus imperator (until signs of getting stress in confines then trade with a club member that has larger system). <I'd forgo the Emperor Angel altogether, unless you are ready to accommodate the fish for its entire life span.> Lighting, Thinking 2T5 6500 from 9am-8pm and 2 Hamilton 175w 14k from 11a-3pm. <Lighting scheme sounds fine for many animals; of course, you need to tailor the lighting for the animals that you intend to keep. Best of luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Deep sand bed and Chaetomorpha Hi Guys:  <Hello, Howard> Just let me thank you for your time in advance.  <You're welcome> I've been going through you site looking for advice on my new tank and I have to say it was very helpful. I've had a Mini Bow 7 with a refugium mud/Chaetomorpha I've built. It was ran successfully for two years so I've thought to build a better version. Now that I'm almost done with building the new tank, I'm just wondering if a deep sand bed would be a better alternative to a mud filter in the refugium. <You don't how large the new tank is that you are building> <<Wha? RMF>> I've been reading that water flow should be high for a deep sand bed but growing Chaetomorpha should have a slower flow. Should I favor the sand bed or the algae or should I compromise? Also the algae in my tank gradually grows pale compared to the dark green color when I've first received it even though it grows like crazy sometimes. Perhaps I'm missing certain nutrients in the tank? My water chemistry is pretty much ideal with 0-ammonia, 0-nitrates, calcium-460.  <No need to keep calcium that high, 375/400, dKH 8 to 12>  My refugium is about 3 gallons and light with a 18 watt CF 50/50 bulb. I use phosphate pad on the overflow but I do not test for phosphate. 1 gallon water change performed every other week with siphoning. My tank is stocked with zoos, soft coral, purple firefish and a small goby all light with two 36 watt 50/50 CF light. Sorry being long winded but just one more question. I've want to have better coralline growth. All I've been seeing is just a hint of purple on some of my rocking and more of it on the glass but nowhere as much as other rock I've seen. Maybe I should be testing my alkalinity?  <Yes, do test. Low dKH doesn't help your coralline growth.>  my Ph is mostly at 8.3 but it does drop to 7.6 sometimes (during the day). Do I need supplements?  <Try SeaChem's liquid calcium supplement. This has to be used with your regular calcium supplement as it will do little to raise the calcium level. It is just a good *supplement* for growing coralline. James (Salty Dog)> 

Growing The "Good" Algae! Dear Crew, <Scott F. at your service tonight!> Your web site is invaluable and very absorbing. One can make a career out of reading and pondering all the FAQs. <Ain't that the truth!> I will try to be succinct. I am very close to establishing a 210 gallon fish only marine aquarium. I also have a 26 gallon quarantine tank as part of the set up. My first question relates to algal growth. Although I do not envision a reef setup, I would like to grow coralline alga for aesthetic reasons. My tank dimensions are 72x24x30deep. Provided all other conditions are met, what is the minimum number of watts per gallon I will have to provide for adequate growth. Can I get by with less than the 4-5 watts per gallon recommended for full-blown reef set ups? <While a true "watt-per-gallon" figure is not all that telling, it seems like this would be sufficient to grow many coralline species, provided all of the other criteria for its growth are met.> My second question has to do with macroalgae for nutrient export. I have a 50 gallon sump which will be filled with live rock as substrate for an algal turf. For reasons that you made clear, I intend to establish a monoculture and I would like to have your opinion as to the most desirable species to use. The criteria, would involve ease of maintenance and pleasing appearance. I will look forward for your reply. Sincerely, Joe Steinberg <Well, Joe, I'm inclined to recommend my favorite macroalgae, Chaetomorpha. It's an attractive and hardy algae, which can grow rapidly, and doesn't have the propensity to go "sexual" and release its gametes into the water, like Caulerpa species are prone to do. Also, it doesn't need to be anchored to rock like many other species. Since Chaetomorpha is easily harvested, it's an ideal macroalgae for nutrient export purposes. Do check it out and consider this awesome algae as your prime candidate for your system! Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.> Macro Algae It is always the concept regarding Caulerpa and other sea weed feed off of the waste and nutrients in the water...but what do they excrete?  <Basically, oxygen during the day, CO2 at night.>  They basically filter feed right?  <They take in dissolved nutrients/organics. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: question about Caulerpa and other seaweeds If they take in dissolved nutrients and such, they still excrete more than pure CO2 or O2....what I mean to say is you would still need water changes.....no matter how much macroalgae you have, aggressive skimming and water changes are still necessary. <A tank always does better with frequent water changes.  You are replacing many lost trace elements along with reducing nitrate/phosphate levels.  Some companies such as Boyd's advocate no water changes necessary using a product they manufacture called Chemi-Pure.  It is a great product, but it will never replace water changes.>  A lot of people tell me they only put in top off water and never do changes because of skimming and having a refugium, and I was just wondering about this...<Keith, it is very difficult to duplicate nature in small closed systems.  Most seaside aquariums have their water pumped in offshore to replenish/change their seawater in their display tanks.  If they thought they could get away without out it, they would.  James (Salty Dog)>

Aiptasia infestation & quarantine question Dear Crew,  <Hi Paul, MacL here with you this fine and lovely day.> Last week, I obtained a half-pound of live Gracilaria parvispora (Ogo) from a dealer in Hawaii. I specifically asked the dealer if I needed to quarantine the Ogo before adding it to my downstream marine refugium. His emailed reply was no. <First and foremost, quarantine everything!> Upon adding the Ogo to my refugium, I noticed a few dead amphipods. A few days later, I discovered three 1-inch Aiptasia specimens attached to the glass and to a clump of Ogo. I've never had Aiptasia in my tanks before. After spending all night throwing out everything in my refugium including live rock, quarantining the Ogo in a bucket after the fact, sanitizing my refugium and hoping that the Aiptasia hasn't made it to the main tank, are there any other precautions I should take?  <You should be aware that lots of people use Aiptasia in refugiums for nutrient export. On the other hand its possible that this dealer was unaware that he had Aiptasia in his Ogo. Most people are going to say that you don't have to quarantine grasses etc before you put them in your tank because usually they come out of a situation where they've been used for nutrient export.> Regarding the dealer, should I simply warn him to check his Ogo tanks for Aiptasia or should I also demand my money back? What is customary?  <I might email him and tell him that you ended up having to put the Ogo in quarantine because you found some Aiptasia in it and you didn't want to chance having that go into your tank. I'm sure he didn't mean you any harm, but if you feel very strongly about it you might see if he's willing to give your money back or perhaps you two can come to a compromise. You'll need to treat the Ogo in quarantine to remove the Aiptasia from what's there.> 

Aiptasia Infestation Dear Crew,  <Hi Paul, MacL here with you again today.> (1) If Aiptasia is used in refugiums for nutrient export, how does one prevent the Aiptasia from contaminating the main aquarium?  <The people I know who are using it in this manner are keeping in enclosed in their sumps. So far they are telling me that they are not having it move. I personally wouldn't like to take the chance. One person I know who is cultivating it in their refugium has a second tank with softies that contains peppermint shrimps and copperband butterflies in the line before his main tank, so he controls them that way.> (2) Is it common for growers of Gracilaria parvispora to culture it in tanks with amphipods and other marine creatures, such as Aiptasia?  <With pods, definitely. With Aiptasia, probably not. But there are many people who don't view Gracilaria the way that others do. To them its a nuisance. This is something that is changing as more people begin to use it in their refugiums.> (3) Are you aware of any suppliers of live Gracilaria parvispora and Chaetomorpha linum within the 48 states? (I live in Colorado.)  <Honestly no I'm not unless Inland Aquatics has it. However, I do know that there are lots of people trading it on lots of websites. One with people close to your area would be www.reeffrontiers.com. They have a lot of people based in the western United States who are using Chaetomorpha.> Thanks very much.  <Its been lovely to talk with you Paul, if we can be of any further assistance please let us know. MacL> 

Chaetomorpha help The problem/questions: I'm having a problem with Chaetomorpha slowly dying. Small sections are turning from dark green to clear and those clear sections eventually go limp and dissolve or break away. I have tried placing the colonies at different heights within the tanks but with no improvement. Gracilaria in this same system is growing rapidly. Ochtodes is doing well but growing slowly. Micro algae exists, but is kept under control by snails and other tiny invert grazers to the point where I no longer need to clean the glass. The macro Algaes are separated by a reasonable distance, but is it possible these are conducting some sort of chemical warfare?  <Yes> I chose these varieties because I believe they are less noxious then most. What is your opinion of chelated Iron in a marine system? <Generally ferrous matter is not rate limited in marine systems, but it does little possible harm to add it> I have heard anything from definitely not to it's a requirement of macro algae. I have started adding Kent Marine Iron supplement for the past month, but that doesn't seem to make a difference one way or the other so far. The setup: The system is 3 months old consisting of a display and refugium with several types of macro algae. It is currently fishless but has two L. debelius and a good assortment of micro-fauna. Both tanks use compact fluorescent lighting - ~4w/gal in the display and ~5w/gal in the 'fuge. The lights are on 10 hours in the display and 18 hours in the 'fuge on a reverse schedule.  Everything is growing well except the Chaetomorpha. There is a fist sized colony in the display directly in the path of one of the returns; it tumbles freely. The second colony in the 'fuge is much large and is stationary with moderate water flow; it rests on a 2" bed of Kent Bio-Sediment. Water parameters: Temp: 80-82F Specific Grav: 1.022-23 pH: 8.2 KH: 110-160 mg/L Calcium: 440-520 mg/L <This is a bit high... I would let drop to about 400 ppm> Ammonia: undetectable Nitrate: undetectable Nitrate: ~5 mg/L Phosphate: undetectable Silicate: undetectable Free Iron: undetectable Chelated Iron: 0.1-0.25 mg/L <I strongly suspect that the Chaetomorpha is indeed being "deselected" for biologically in your system... and would either move it to some other separate system, or let it go. Bob Fenner>

Multiple macroalgae in refuge 3/30/05 Hey crew, It has been over a year ago that I bought a Mandarin without knowing it's special eating requirements. With your help and hours spent reading the FAQ's, I still have a healthy and happy (guessing here) Mandarin. I believe this is mainly due to the refugium I added about 8 months ago. I am looking to complete this upgrade and wanted to bounce a few ideas off you. The refugium is a 75g (24" x 30" x 24") tank that sits above and to the side of my main display (150g). It is lit by 2 x 65w (10,000/6,700k and 460/420nm) Current SunPaqs.  The fuge is separated by two internal dividers that are 12" tall which create three identical chambers. The top 12" of the tank is open air. Each chamber overflows into the next and water is gravity fed to the display from the 3rd chamber. <Sounds very nice!> 1st chamber - filter feeders. Got this idea from Anthony's book. It has a 6" sand bed with a top layer of flat rocks for xenia, feather dusters, and rock boring crocea clams. Got the xenia started but lost two clams.  2nd chamber - mud filter/copepods.  The idea here was to cultivate copepods for the Mandarin. Blend of Miracle Mud and Carib Sea Mineral Mud form a 3" mud bottom. I tried growing Gracilaria in here but it kept being overgrown by Cyano.  I eventually want to add Thalassia (Turtle Grass) to this chamber. Is mud a good substrate for Thalassia? If so, I plan on adding 3" more of Mineral Mud after I plant the Seagrass. The water height in this chamber is only 12". Can the tops of Thalassia stick out of the water? If not, how high should I raise the water level? The reason I am thinking Thalassia here is for the epiphytic material produced. This is a good source of food for pods correct? <The mud is an ideal substrate for Thalassia and it will provide good habitat and food for tiny crustaceans. I suspect that it will grow to the top of the water and either stop growing or bend over. It won't grow out of the surface of the water. Gracilaria is difficult and requires quite a bit of water movement to grow well and so it doesn't get overgrown with other algae.> 3rd chamber - nutrient extract/amphipods Less that 1" aragonite sand with live rubble rock on top. The amphipods seem to like this chamber the best because of the larger substrate. I also keep Chaetomorpha in here which is doing great. I have started to give it away.  <Right on! Rubble makes great amphipod and copepod habitat.> I have had great success growing Mysis shrimp and amphipods in this refugium. I see copepods every now and then but I'm guessing there are tons I don't see. Unless, I have always wondered, do the larger Mysis shrimp and amphipods eat copepods?  <They may prey on them to some extent, but I wouldn't sweat it. The amphipods and Mysis will produce plenty of tiny offspring to provide food to tiny mouthed animals in your system.> If I have to raise the water level in the fuge, will I need to add more light to keep the Chaeto growing? I recently pulled the Gracilaria out of the 2nd chamber and put it in the sump which has specs similar to the refugium. The section that contains the Gracilaria is about 20" x 30" x 24" with a water column height of about 12". It is lit by 1 65w (10,000/6,7000k) Current SunPaq. The general consensus is for only white light on macroalgae right? <Chaetomorpha will grow in very low light, so you should be fine. White light isn't necessarily better, but appearance doesn't matter in a 'fuge and whiter lights generally produce more usable light per watt, so you get more for your money.> The air bubbles from the overflow keep the Gracilaria tumbling constantly so I hope to get some good growth to feed my Tang. I should mention that I have taken the covers off my refugium and sump to allow more light and aid in evaporation. It gets pretty hot in Las Vegas.  <Ahhh... good. The Gracilaria should do much better here. Good luck managing the heat!> To the most important question. I have read many responses that warn against putting different kinds of algae in the same refugium. The thought is that they will spend energy competing against each other and not exporting nutrients. **Deleted quotes from the FAQ's**  <I absolutely agree. In addition to competition with each other, the "soup" of chemicals produced may also stunt coral growth.> Does this idea of only having one type of Macro apply to the whole system. If the Chaetomorpha is in the refugium above the tank and the Gracilaria in the sump, will they still compete against each other? Can I add the Thalassia to the second chamber of the refugium even though it overflows into the chamber with the Chaetomorpha? Does Thalassia compete in chemical warfare even though it is a grass rather than an algae?  <The plants and algae that you are using are among the "friendliest" and the competition will be decreased by the fact that they aren't in physical contact. I think your plan seems reasonable. I would however, suggest that you use small amounts of carbon changed frequently to help reduce the amount of competitive substances.> One more question related to macroalgae. I have a 70g that I am setting up as a FOWLR predator tank. The tank is not pre-drilled and I don't want to use an overflow. I bought the largest CPR AquaFuge hang on the back refugium to use for nutrient export and threw in some Chaetomorpha. I figure with messy eaters I am going to have a nutrient problem. I have a 6" DSB, 90lbs live rock, and the AquaC Remora Pro. Do you think I will need mechanical filtration? I have stayed away from Caulerpa for my reef tank because of the negative things people say about it. However, most of the negatives apply to reef setups. Can I use Caulerpa since this tank will only have a few fish like a trigger and/or a puffer? Would this be a better nutrient exporter than the Chaetomorpha I have in there now?  <Caulerpa would be fine in a non-reef tank. Mechanical filtration would be beneficial if the filter is large enough and cleaned weekly or more often. I would also consider a clean up crew consisting of a few brittle stars and one or two sea cucumbers.> Any input would be appreciated. I sincerely thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. The only consolation I can offer is that I always make sure my LFS have the "CMA", "RI", and "BoCP" books on hand and are aware of their value. Mostly because they have been such a big help to me. cheers, Eric Nightingale  <Thanks for the kind words and support! AdamC.>

Macroalgae for the Refugium Sorry to be a pain but I want to get my refugium set up right! I have some Halimeda growing in my display tank. It seems from reading your FAQ?s that one species is recommend for a refugium. Is it alright, if I have the Halimeda in my display and something else in my refugium? (say Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria).  <Yes, the Chaeto or Gracilaria will be fine John. James (Salty Dog)> 

Refugium algae harvesting 2/22/05 Dear Anthony, After taking your advice I recently set up a 20 gallon refugium for my 90 gallon tank (I didn't have much space). I have a 4" sand bed with two types of macro (Chaeto & Gracilaria). When I bought the Chaeto about two weeks ago it was the size of a soft ball. Now it has tripled in size. <outstanding... truly one of the best genera for nutrient export/refugium use> It was tumbling around but now it is starting too get to big to move around freely. My question is how much should I keep in the refugium? Should I cut it back so it can tumble around again? <yes... exactly... do figure out your cycle of harvest (2, 3 or more weeks to halve it and keep it tumbling). And do be strict and habitual about harvesting it for long term success> Also It seems the fine sand that I used really compacted well and I was wondering if I should add more now or wait until it is below 4"? <not compacted... dissolved my friend. Oolite has a half life of about 18-24 months in aquaria. Do add more to maintain your desired bed depth> P.S. Is any one else amazed that you can buy a book and then ask the author questions. Well I am! Thanks again for all your help! <thanks kindly, but the honor is ours :) Anthony>

Another DSB-LR-macroalgae-refugium question... Hi there! I have been reading through the WWM extensively for my project of starting a 90 gal reef tank. I have come a long way since I'm a beginner and am now fine-tuning my future set-up. Your feedback and answers are very important to me and I will not bypass any of your recommendations. Thanks in advance!  My questions and hesitations regard the refugium and the display tank DSB.  I'll start by explaining what I'm leaning to.   There would be a 4" DSB of aragonite (CaribSea Aragamax Grand Bahama Reef Sand: 0.2-1.2mm with some shells and bigger bits) in the display tank. I'm planning to put a small LR rubble zone as well as a cup or two of Chaeto in the display tank to help keeping the display tank's DSB alive. I guess I'll put around 90 lbs of LR in the display. Now the fuge would be about 30 gal with a 6" DSB of sugar-fine aragonite, a 20lbs rubble of LR and some macro-algae (I'm interested in Chaeto or Thalassia or Gracilaria or Ulvales). There will be a Wave2K device in the display tank and there would be a 600 gal/hour of flow from/to sump-refugium (a Quiet-One pump). <Mmm, a few things... if you can make the sump larger... I would... and do think about arranging the flow through the actual refugium part... to be less... what you have in mind pump, actual gallonage in flow, sump... will result in some thirty or so times turnover per hour... too much for the Chaeto, DSB> The fuge will be on reverse schedule and I'm planning to skim only at night when the fuge's light is on and the display tank is dark. I think it's important to mention that I would eventually (after min. 6 months of waiting) get a mandarin in there (display tank, of course). I want to produce a lot of plankton in quantity and diversity.  <It's obvious you've been doing your homework...> Here are my too numerous questions (sorry...): -After reading Dr. Shimek's article on setting up a DSB, I figured that the 0.2-1.2mm aragonite sand is lacking something. According to him, the DSB should include 40% of finer sand, that is between 0,06 and 0,12mm. Maybe it's not important enough to bother about it. Is it worth it or even useful to mix finer sand with the previously stated aragonite sand to get a better DSB? <Is of greater utility, yes... in the longer haul, a year or more, of minimal consideration... finer sand will be made otherwise> -For that matter should/could I mix some Biosediment from Kent of Mineral mud from CaribSea with the 0.2-1.2mm aragonite? If yes, do you have a preference for one of the two brands for the purpose of mixing it with aragonite sand? <You could use this material... I wouldn't... in the present circumstance (flow rates) this material is going to be "blasted" all over the place... If you can arrange to segment off the refugium part of the sump for lower flow, or better, place another sump/refugium in parallel... this "mud" matter can be placed... again, something very much like it will accumulate in time... from your LR... mulm...> -Regarding the macroalgae, I have eliminated the Halimeda because of competition with the corals for calcium and the Caulerpa for obvious reasons.  Now I'm hesitating between Chaeto, Thalassia, Gracilaria and Ulvales. Which one do you recommend best for my refugium? <Actually, all... If you had to choose just one? The Chaetomorpha... but if you could combine them, I would do so> Can I mix some of these? If not, can I mix them if there is one species in the display tank (let's say Chaeto) and another one in the fuge (maybe Thalassia or Ulva)?  <Yes> Maybe there is still a risk of chemical aggression and competition between the species when likewise "separated". <Yes, definitely... it's "in the water"> -I read on WWM that the water flow to the fuge should be fairly slow for the plankton but very strong for the macro-algae. What do you recommend in my situation? <Ahh!> Is my flow rate (6X volume of display tank per hour, meaning 18X the volume of the fuge) a good compromise? <Actually... the flow rate is a function of actual water volume (less than manufacturer estimate) per the REAL gallonage in your transit volume sump... this will NOT be 30 gallons... for one, the tank itself you will find is actually NOT thirty gallons (231 cubic inches in a gallon... go and measure), two, you won't be filling it all the way (as you will have a flood if/when the power or pump/s fail)... three, the contents of the tank (sand, rock, biota) displace some good part of the water volume... At any length, you will likely have less than ten gallons of actual water... My reason for encouraging you to upsize or add another sump> -I would like the system to feed the corals with plankton and not almost exclusively sustain the mandarin. Would it be wiser to give up the mandarin then? <Makes little difference... what goes in the Mandarin... will also help sustain your corals> Can such a system feed both the mandarin and the corals (and maybe two other small non-sifting-fishes)? <Yes> Shimek insists a lot on NEVER putting a sand-sifting creature in a system with a DSB. I want the mandarin very much but if you say to forget it, I will.  <Up to you... will add interest> -Can I feed the fishes with macroalgae from the refugium? Not everybody seems to agree on that. <You can> -Will I still get some benefit from the trace elements present in the aragonite sand even tough I'm on a reverse schedule (pH will be more stable and aragonite won't dissolve?)? <Yes> -Are the macroalgae I mentioned likely to compete with the corals for nutrients? <Yes, to extents> -Do you know where on the net I could find more detailed summarized info about each of these algae species? <Good question... no, I don't... but there is a HUGE amount of such data to sieve through in the scientific literature... and we have some articles on WWM re doing such searches> Here are three other questions that are not related to our subject, if I may take the opportunity to ask: -Is there a species of host-anemone that is not so risky to put in a reef tank? <Captive produced Entacmaea quadricolor number one> -Is it true that all LR that is not in full light are going to die? <No... it might surprise you to know that live rock is actually a good deal buried in substrate in the wild... that the "live" part folks "turn up" is actually "upside down" in the wild... out of the sun for the most part.> Some say to use base-rock at the bottom of the tank for that reason. I tough people were placing corals on the LV and that they would always be shaded anyway. Not sure to understand how to organize that. -Is there a way of organizing a somehow similar "micro-fauna-autofeeding-system" in a freshwater tank? <Yes... not commonly utilized in the U.S....> I again apologize for the long e-mail. Many thanks! Regards, Dominique Capelle <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: A short follow up... Re: Another DSB-LR-macroalgae-refugium question... Thanks for the quick and informative reply Mr. Fenner! <Welcome> So I will segment off a bigger fuge or place it in parallel (will discuss it with appliance person), reduce the flow with a valve, and mix a small amount of biosediment to the two DSBs. <Ah, very good> Now I still need to narrow down the choice of macroalgae I want in my system (fuge and display). I noticed that there somehow seems to be a friendly disagreement between you and Mr. Calfo about the use of macroalgae.  <Yes... and many others of us here (WWM) and the aquarium spiel world at large...> I remember some sentences from Anthony such as "please discipline yourself to use a single species of macroalgae... mixing is counterproductive... chemical aggressions...". Can you help me in my selection? <Yes... and in an effort to be clear/er... there are many species of algae on reefs in the world... mostly delimited in size, dominance by predation rather than competition... Similarly, in captive systems of size there is little difficulty of chemical competition problems...> As I said I'm interested in Chaetomorpha, Thalassia, Gracilaria and Ulvales. Are some combinations better (less competition and chemical aggressions)? <Yes... per unit... grams of organism let's say, the vascular plants (e.g. Thalassia), reds (Gracilaria, Chaetomorpha) are less toxic/trouble than greens (Ulva) in this order> My first concern is plankton production (don't know which one is better for that, best "epiphytic value"...). <All in all, considering what conditions prevail in most marine aquariums, the reds are better here> Of course, food source and nutrients export are also interesting "side-effects". Maybe it helps to mention I don't want to use more than 2-3 watts per gallon in the refugium (maybe not enough for Thalassia). I'll have 5 watts per gallon in the display. <The Thalassia has a much (likely an order of magnitude or less) rate of metabolism... it just doesn't "grow" compared to thallophytes... How to put this... we're back to the "argument" of whether to use more than one species... Which is what I would do... Will cc AnthonyC here for his (likely diverging) opinion... but I would place at least a macrophyte in addition to the embryophyte here... maybe one in the refugium, the other in the main tank> Regarding this: <<-Is there a way of organizing a somehow similar "micro-fauna-autofeeding-system" in a freshwater tank? <Yes... not commonly utilized in the U.S....> Is there information about it on the WWM, I didn't find any. If you had some reference (website or literature) it would sure be greatly appreciated.>> <There are no popular works/hobbyist in English as far as I'm aware. I would pay a visit to a large/college library for more information> Thank you so much! Regards, Dominique Capelle, from Montreal (Canada) P.S.: May I ask where you are located? <I am in S. California (San Diego). Anthony resides in Pittsburgh, Penns. Bob Fenner>

Re: Another DSB-LR-macroalgae-refugium question... Hi Mr. Fenner! Nowhere else do I get such complete and detailed replies. So it shall be Thalassia and Gracilaria in my refugium as well as Chaeto in my display tank. Nice of you to have cc to Anthony. Will be interesting to have complementary points of view. Am I right in saying that none of these (Thalassia, Gracilaria, and Chaeto) are likely to into a sexual repro phase? Thanks! Regards, Dominique <Seagrasses rarely "go to seed" under captive conditions... and algae... do reproduce by sporulation and sexually... but these genera, not a problem. Bob Fenner>

Growing Plants & Algae Date: Thu, 8 Dec 2005 Hello all, first time questioner (<---a word??) here!! <Hello Jonathan, James here to help.>  I have a 24"x24"x12" turtle tank (no turtles of coarse) that I would like to turn into a "plant factory". I have Grape, Spaghetti, Prolifera?? And one other Caulerpa I can't identify (looks similar to maple leaves) Grape kelp, and a Mangrove.  I would like to also use this tank to breed/seed live sand. I trade these plants/macro's locally. How should I "stock" the tank to promote nutrients the plants/algae need??  <I would try putting a baffle in the area where the pump will be, that is something to cut down the turbulence, and I would try some of Ecosystems Miracle Mud as the substrate. I'm sure within a month this will be teeming with critters.> I currently have a 20 gallon housing this stuff now and it has 5 dwarf hermits, 5 Nassarius, 5 Turbos and a pink Anthias. The problem is that the grape kelp and grape Caulerpa are doing great but all the rest seem to be beginning to "melt" (first turning white at tips) seemingly do to lack of nutrients?? <This is where the Miracle Mud comes into play, it's loaded with iodine/nutrients.>  I dose Kent Super chelated Iron and Iodine daily... <You only want to dose calcium when using Miracle Mud, the saltwater macroalgae do require some calcium.>  and the sand is literally crawling with life but the plants don't seem as happy as they used to be.  <It will also help to change 10% of this water weekly.> Everything else seems to love life!! The Fastest results are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate but my Aq. Pharmaceuticals Nitrates shows 20!!, which do I trust??  <Make sure both kits are actually measuring the same nitrate level. Some kits measure low range and some high range.> Fastest: Aq. Pharm:  Amm:0 Amm: 0 (very slight change, near zero, but seemingly "some") Nitrite:0 Nitrite:<.25 Nitrate:0 Nitrate:20-30 (hard to tell exactly which is closer) pH: 8.2 pH: 8.0 (both tests run at same time on same water sample!!) If 20 is correct shouldn't the plants be happy?? This seems to be the case on all my other tanks, Fastest reads near 0 but AqPham reads near double!! Which should I trust??  <Check the range of the kits as above. Good luck, Justin. James (Salty Dog)> Please help!!  Thanks a lot!! Justin Botryocladia Predators Hello. <Hey, Mike G here> I recently purchased a red grape macro (Botryocladia sp.) and would like to know if there are snails that will eat algae, but not touch my red grape macro. <An astonishing array of herbivorous marine life will consume Botryocladia species macroalgae, I am sorry to inform you. I would think it would be consumed soon after you began to fill your tank.> Also, would a lawnmower blenny eat the red grape macro? <I would think so.> Macroalgae In The Mix! WWM: <Scott F. at the keyboard this evening> I’ve been reading through your FAQs on the Ecosystem Mud filter approach. Since these are not dated, I can’t tell what is the most current line of thinking, but did note that there seems to be mixed feelings on this even among your staff. That’s fine and perfectly understandable. <Good, 'cause we do all have different opinions based upon our own experiences, which gives our fellow hobbyists an honest point of view.> New information comes along all the time. Can you give me an update on the following questions: <Will try!> 1. I see a lot of conflicting info on use of Caulerpa. Toxicity, etc. Is it still recommended? <Caulerpa is a great macroalgae that is prolific, easy to care for, and good at exporting nutrients if carefully harvested on a regular basis. Nothing is new here...It is prone to "go sexual" and release its cellular material into the water under the right circumstances, and some also theorize that it may produce substances which are potentially toxic to some corals. I prefer more "benign" macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha. In addition, it is actually illegal to keep in some areas, such as Southern California, where it has been released into the wild, to great disdain.> <Editor's note: Under State law (Assembly Bill 1334), the sale, possession, and transport of Caulerpa taxifolia was prohibited throughout California in September 2001. Please see here: http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/rwqcb9/programs/caulerpa/caulerpa.html > 2. Is it okay to use a micron sock and prefilter sponge with this system? Do these remove the desirable critters? <In my opinion, using these filter socks is fine; you just need to clean them very frequently. Yes, it is certainly possible that some desirable organisms will be removed by such mechanical filtration, but I believe that the benefits of these "socks" far outweigh any disadvantages, as long as you pay attention to very frequent maintenance.> 3. Is 24 hour photoperiod still recommended? Noted FAQ that Anthony answered where he pointed out possible sexual crash, but then I also understand this is key to claim of keeping pH and oxygen levels more stable. <I have employed a 24 hour cycle with macroalgae with good results, but a "reverse daylight" (i.e. light the macroalgae when the display is dark). In actuality, the "reverse" daylight technique is a more natural system; I don't think that keeping macroalgae in "stasis" is really  natural> 4. I see a some refugiums that don’t use the ‘Mud’. They sometimes also use live rock in the sump w or w/o the algae. In these cases, is the 24 hour photoperiod detrimental to the live rock? <Well, it could be disruptive to the organisms which inhabit the rock, but the bacterial processes are probably unaffected.> 5. Are the bioballs that ecosystems recommends necessary? Will these become a maintenance issue down the road? <I don't think that they will become problematic. From my understanding, these are actually used to keep debris from the macroalgae from escaping the sump.> If you’ll indulge me on one more issue I’m struggling with: I’m trying to choose my aquarium size and have option of 18”, 24”, or 30” height. I like the look of the 30” height, but understand that it will drive the lighting requirements. I haven’t seen any quantitative numbers on this though. Is there a formula for determining difference in lighting level required to achieve same intensity as a function of water depth? <Good question. I'm sure that there are certainly some highly scientific studies on this, and some applications of the inverse square law and other principles that can apply. However, I am a simple guy and I like to keep things well...simple. Here's my take on it: I tend to favor the 24" high tank, because you can still utilize 175 to 250 watt halides for most corals. In a 30" high tank, conventional wisdom is that you will need 400 watt halides. This is not "scientific"; merely based upon the work of hobbyists and personal experiences. Of course, there are many hardcore reefers who believe that you need such intense lights even in 14" tanks! I guess it all adds up to the fact that there are no right or wrong answers to every situation. You just need to assess the needs of your animals and take it from there!> Thanks for your help. Bob. <Glad to be of service, Bob! Regards, Scott F.>

Dying Chaetomorpha... needs more water flow? 1/29/05 Hey guys. Just a quickie for ya, if you don't mind. I have an upstream refugium with a few bundles of Chaeto, and for some reason it is turning white and dying off.  <the most common reason is a lack of water flow. Chaeto is very hardy with regard for lighting (5 watts per gallon will do)... but it is very needy for water flow so strong that it stays tumbling> I run a system with a fairly high nutrient load, since it is a softie tank, so I am a bit confused as to the issue here. I have a 10K regular wattage fluorescent bulb, run opposite of my display tank. Is it a possibility that Iron is depleted too rapidly in my system? <not likely the problem here> I dose b-ionic daily, and it lists iron as one of the trace elements... but I am wondering if I need to supplement further. At any rate, I though Chaetomorpha was not an algae that dies off as it has been, so I am a bit confused.  <correct... it is quite hardy and not prone to events of sexual die-offs... particularly if/when you have been harvesting it regularly> Any speculations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! <this is a common question and problem... most always a lack of water flow. Apply enough to make the Chaeto ball tumble. Anthony>

Dictyota for Nutrient Export? I was wondering if Dictyota can be used for nutrient export in the sump or is it more of a plague? My LFS has some for free but didn't want to get it before I knew what it was, its the blue green species of it thanks <Hi!  Dictyota is highly noxious and is a poor choice for nutrient export.  Chaetomorpha is much better in this application!  You know what they say about a free horse...Cheers, Ryan>

Caulerpa\phosphate\nitrates Hi, <Hello there> I was reading some articles on reducing phosphate and came across Phosphate solutions 7/31/03 stating "I'll put some Caulerpa too for helping to reduce phosphates. <do consider a safer and more stable macroalgae like Chaetomorpha, Ochtodes or Gracilaria for this purpose> What are the problems with Caulerpa? <There are some folks here that believe that the likelihood of species of this genus going reproductive and thereby toxic (and unattractive mess) too much trouble... as well as Caulerpas being too aggressive growers... taking too much out of the water that reefers might want for other life's use... and that their growth discolors the water too much... and that it grows so quickly as to be a pain to keep harvested> My understanding is that Caulerpa, Chaetomorpha, Ochtodes or Gracilaria will help reduce phosphate and nitrate. <Yes> Is that correct? Is there anything else that they help reduce? <Most any, all nutrients, biominerals... if boosted (with light mainly)> I was unable to find a picture of Chaetomorpha, Ochtodes and Gracilaria due to my browser at work, is it possible to e-mail me a picture of what Chaetomorpha, Ochtodes and Gracilaria looks like? <Mmm, some of these may be presented on WetWebMedia, but you're likely to get them fastest by doing a Google search and looking through their "pictures" feature. Bob Fenner> Thanks Mohamed. Lighting macroalgae Hi crew!! My revamped 90 gallon is up and running.  I bought a few SPS corals(Bali Acropora, Montipora, birds nest) tonight, and they are doing very  well.  My local store( RI- Rumford Aquarium, an excellent, clean,  informative store) gave me bunches of Green Grape and Feather Caulerpa with my  purchase.   <Great to hear of "good" stores> I have a 32-gallon rubbish barrel re- circulating water to my tank( for added water volume). I would like to have this barrel house the above mentioned algae to absorb nitrates and such.  What is the best lighting, in watts, bulb type, and Kelvin, to make these thrive? <Mmm, tough to say w/o dimensions provided... but something that you can afford to run continuously to drive photosynthesis (Caulerpa can... and some folks, me included, believe should be illuminated continuously to discount the likelihood of it "going sexual"... Do read re. Probably a small compact fluorescent unit> My re-done reef is doing very well, and it is in large part due to the information that you have given directly and off your website.  Thank you  for both!!! James Providence, RI <Bob Fenner, born in Northkingston, both parents in Providence> Vegetable filter in refugium After much reading online and in your excellent Reef Invertebrates (RI) book, <Hi Mark, Matt here answering questions for Bob 'n' Anthony> I'm planning on utilizing Gracilaria in my refugium for nutrient export and some plankton generation (and for my tang to chow on when he's been good). My problem is that I have yet to run across a discussion of how to confine the algae so that it won't run through the sump baffles and into the intake of my main pump or skimmer pump.  In RI, you mention allowing the Gracilaria to "tumble" in the sump's water flow- to my thinking, this requires corralling the algae mat somehow, perhaps with plastic mesh.  Would you be kind enough to direct me to (or post) a description of how best to do this? <Sure!  I think most people put their macroalgae in a separate container connected to the sump, and then use some sort of grating to keep the contents where they're supposed to be.  No reason you can't keep the algae in the sump though!  I would construct a box of plastic egg crate (A pic of it here: http://www.ristandassociates.com/stock/plastic_eggcrate.html)  It looks like a white grid.  Cut out some large squares of this, and connect them together with plastic zip ties.  All this stuff should be available at a Home Depot or good hardware store.  The box will allow flow through, while containing your Gracilaria.  Hope this helps!  Matt> Thanks, -Mark- Source for neat plants, algae and sea grasses 11/30/04 Hi Guys, Been reading your stuff for quite awhile. <cheers> I'm getting ready to set up my next tank and would appreciate a little input. It's a 375g - 96x30x30 that will incorporate a 150g sump (dual protein skimmers plus any other filtration stuff) and a 150g refugium. Lighting will consist of 2-250w MH HQI 14k & 2-250 MH HQI 10k plus some various PC lighting for dusk/dawn effect. I will be using a DSB in both the tank and refugium. Sorry, but it will be a somewhat mixed tank - primarily SPS with a few softies and a minimal fish population. My original plan was to incorporate the tank DSB with sugar fine sand,.2-1mm, (6") and grow some sea grasses in it, which brings question #1 - is this suitable for Syringodium or stick to Thalassia ? <the latter is easier to get and keep (its shorter and better suited for aquaria)> The refugium would use fine sand,1-2mm, (7")with some Halimeda and Penicillus, which I think would harbor more 'pods for export to the main tank. <actually... Chaetomorpha would be best of all> What kind of flow should I have through the refugium ? <something around 20X turnover or better for vegetable filters> I plan for a total of about 6000gph with most of it going through the sump. >may not be enough flow for the display (depending on the exact coral species you keep... especially for SPS - need 20-40 X minimum)> Sound reasonable or should the 2 DSB's be switched? <I don't follow here> Any other observations would be great. Regards, Greg <I just bought Thalassia, Chaetomorpha and more from www.billsreef.com. Fab chap from NY area. Covers plants and algae and knows his science. Do consider. Anthony>

Ich, Macroalgae and medication 11/12/04 Hello again to the WWM guru! <Hardly a guru, but glad to help!> I wanted to get some further input on the ammonia situation in the OT tank. Unfortunately the Flame and neon goby are covered with ich now. The LFS rep & I discussed the constant spikes despite my using cycled water and daily WCs. Guess what we figured out...I have been placing a piece of LR in there, which naturally had some die off (yes, it was newer rock, duh!!). <Yup. That will do it.> Now the thing is this, I put them quickly into the fuge (which has been unplugged from the main tank), and got a "reef safe" ich treatment to treat them while there. <The problem with these treatments is that they are most often made reef safe by recommending such a low dose that they aren't effective.> Here's the big question...wouldn't you know, there's a shipment of Macroalgae on the way and I 'm not sure if its safe to put them in the fuge while the ich treatment is proceeding. I'd place the algae in my main tank, but the hermits would likely have a heyday with them! What would you suggest?  <I would suggest having passing on the macros or letting someone else hold them for you.  I also suggest that all of the rock that will be used for a display be cycled BEFORE adding any livestock.  Your sick livestock should be treated in a separate tank, and any future additions should be quarantined.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>  Allegra in SD Chaetomorpha question 11/10/04 In Today's Q/A there was mention of Chaetomorpha and to allow it to roll around. Is this a part of the requirements for successful growth of this plant?  <Chaetomorpha does not root and does best when it is not allowed to simply lay on the bottom of the tank, but it is very forgiving.  I have successfully grown it without keeping it suspended.  IME, the most important thing is to thin it often and not allow it to become too dense. HTH.  Adam Zoanthids and algae with air bubbles Howdy Bob and crew! Thanks in advance for the fantastic site and all the time you guys put into helping people like me. ;) First off, my water: SG: 1.0245, PH: 8.2, Calc: ~430, dKH: 11 Alk: ~3 (I think, I can't recall exactly honestly), Nitrates: 0, Nitrites: 0, Ammonia: 0, Phosphates: 0.0-0.1,  Temp: 79.4-80.2 (throughout the day). It is a 70 gallon tank (36 x 18 x 25; was limited by width where it was installed and figure the extra water volume would be a good thing) and currently I'm doing 20 gallon changes once a month with top off water from evaporation as needed (sometimes just a little every day; I top off in the sump). Large wet/dry (for a 150g system), with built-in skimmer (from ProClear), Eheim 700g/hr pump, 60lbs live sand (3-4" DSB), 90lbs premium live rock (gorgeous rock, 60lbs came out of a 4 year old 400gal reef that was taken apart and sold in pieces; all was cured and completely covered on coralline). 150w Ebo/Jager heater (in sump) and lastly the CurrentUSA Orbit 36" 2x96w PC fixture (10,000 and 6,700). << All sounds good, but the lighting seems a little low. >> Livestock: 2 Ocellaris Clowns, 1 Rainford Goby, 1 Scooter Blenny, 3 Emerald Crabs, 1 Sally Lightfoot Crab, 2 Fire Shrimp, 8 or so Snails and 2 sand-sifting Starfish, some Bubble Caulerpa racemosa and Caulerpa mexicana. *whew!* Ok, my two questions! 1)       I've got some Zoanthids (brown Button Polyps specifically, not sure on the exact name). They came attached to a nice piece of live rock but I've noticed some brown "sticks" protruding from the rock, almost pushing up the polyps. Tonight I observed what I thought to be tentacles coming out of the ends of the sticks (looked like 2 each). Could these be some form of worm? << Very good possibility.  If so, I'll say they are beneficial. >> They are very thin, probably <1mm. I did not notice them originally when I brought the specimen home (they could've been there, I just didn't notice), but sine they've become more "prominent" the polyps seem to but suffering some; losing color and some are not quite opened all the way (though most are and are responding well to target feeding with a turkey baster). Just not sure what to do with these brown sticks! << I'd leave them be.  If the polyps are large enough to cut, you could always propagate them onto other rocks. >> 2)       I've got some hair algae in a few places (nothing overwhelming, just two parts on two pieces of rock). My Rainford Goby and my Scooter Blenny seem to enjoy nibbling on it ( as do the Emerald Crabs, and as it wasn't much I just leave it alone. The Goby and Blenny primarily eat Emerald Entre and whatever 'pods are living in the Caulerpa (they police it pretty often; especially the Rainford). Actually, the Blenny kind of nibbles everywhere; sand, rocks, frozen food. He seems very happy and well fed; both the Blenny and the Goby have noticeable belly's, I hope that's a good thing! If not, I have fat fish. ;) The question about the algae: It seems to be fairly consistently covered in small air bubbles (as is the Caulerpa actually). I figured it was either CO2 or O2, but was unsure of it and if it was something to be concerned about. I do have good circulation/aeration, but as far as I can tell it's not bubbles from that. << It's nothing to be overly concerned with, but usually the bubbles on algae is seen in unhealthy tanks.  I'd watch the water motion and nutrient levels. >> Thanks in advance for all your time! :-) ~Jeff <<  Blundell  >>

-Refugium & Macroalgae question- Hi, Larry here. <Hello, Kevin here> I have a 120g FOWLR tank with a remora pro skimmer and 2 BioWheel 400 filters and power heads for extra water flow.  I have about 40lbs of live rock as well.  I just purchased a CPR 19" AquaFuge which hangs on the back of the tank to help with nutrient export and help keep my nitrates down which are running around 30ppm. <Remove the bio-wheels, problem solved!> My goal is to lower the nitrates to 15-20ppm. <Why not to undetectable?>  My fish are all healthy and I am not feeding too much.  The tank is stocked with a blue tang, purple tang, flag fin angel, false eye puffer, Heniochus, tomato clown and a cleaner goby so I don't think its over stocked.  My nitrites and ammonia are always 0. My questions are what type of media do you recommend for the refuge- live DSB or mud and what type of macro algae are most efficient at using up the nitrates? <My preference has been to use a DSB, but mud 'fuges work well also. Chaetomorpha is my favorite macro as it is not nearly as much of a pain in the butt as Caulerpa is.> I know that adding more live rock to the tank would help but I don't plan on adding more than another 15-20lbs. Currently I change about 18g of water every 6 weeks and don't plan on changing more often because I have enough work to do maintaining a 75 reef tank.  My tank is 1 year old and all the fish have been doing well.  Thanks, Larry in Minnesota gearing up for the 4 month deep freeze. <Good luck1 -Kevin>

Algae Queries For my sixth year Advanced Biology higher project I have decided to do  Algae growth and the factors effecting it's growth. I realize I will have to  grow it in the laboratory and then will immobilize it into jelly beads, using a solution to measure the uptake of carbon dioxide. I would be grateful for any advice on a better experiment or any changes I can make to mine to add to the reliability of results etc. (keeping in mind it is a school experiment, so nothing too advanced or complicated.) thank you very much, I would be really   pleased if you could get back to me with some feedback, Susannah Bennett >>>Hello Susannah, At the most basic level, algae needs light and a nitrogen source, (nutrients) and or a phosphate source to grow. So, you could vary the amount of nutrients and light in different cultures. One has no light, but high nutrients, one has tons of light, but no nutrients, one with high light and high nutrients, med light and high nutrients, etc, etc, on and on. :) Same with phosphates depending on how complicated you want to make this. You can measure the nutrients in the water, and phosphates with test kits.   I would use a macro algae such as Caulerpa, and simply weigh it, rather than messing with solutions and jelly beads, but that's just me. :)Seems like that is needlessly complicating things. Regards Jim<<<

Macroalgae out of control Hi there << Hi. >> I am having problems in my reef aquarium with macro algae growing rampant. << This isn't a problem, you should learn to love algae like me. >> I've always had a small patch of macro growing on some live rock since I started my reef a year ago. It has always struggled to flourish. The last few months it has taken off to the point I pruned it from the rock it originated from. Now it has spread to various rocks and competes for space with my zooanthids which I don't like. << I don't like Zoanthids either. Just kidding I know what you meant. >> It looks like a miniature Elkhorn fern or Staghorn fern if you are familiar with that, It has branching leaves. I also have these hard green patches of calcareous algae growing too much. I do weekly 10-15 % changes and I have an ev120 and refugium packed with Chaetomorpha that grows great. I feel its a nutrient problem but my nitrites are only 5ppm. can I remove the rocks and scrub off the patches of pesky algae?? << Yes you can, but I wouldn't. I'd either do nothing, or maybe increase my herbivore load (like Rabbitfish or emerald crabs) which are known to devour this stuff. >> << Blundell >> 

Gracilaria Refugium Hi guys. <Hello! Ryan with you today> I would like to set up a Gracilaria refugium next to and above my 180 gal. reef tank (tank is not running yet). The size is about 35 gal. Could you help in telling me how you would set it up? <Yes, lots of flow to keep the Gracilaria suspended in the water column, moderate light.> Will there be sand at the bottom? <I'd skip it, unless it's enough sand to aid in denitrification, like over 5 inches> What size grain? <Sugar-fine> Where do I purchase the Algae? <Don't buy it, just get a few clippings from a fellow reefer...Reefcentral.com is great for trades.> How does it take foot hold? <It grows in big balls, that roll with the current.> How much lighting? <3 watts/gallon> How many time the water should turn over? <10> Will this refugium produce lots of food for the corals that reside? <Yes, but a still algae, such as Chaeto, may provide more nutrient export and may help develop zooplankton in more volume.> Thanks for all the great advice. <No problem!  Ryan> Stephan G. Ulva for Refugium Hello Crew, Is Ulva a good macroalgae for nutrient export in the refugium?  I have a bunch growing in my refuge but don't know if I should crop it or not. Thanks for your help. Roy <Ulva and Enteromorpha (Order Ulvales), aka Sea Lettuce are excellent green algae for refugium use... for nutrient export as well as food. Bob Fenner>

Macroalgae + Corals? 8/1/04 Hi, First I want to thank you all for organizing such a great site to provide and promote good aquarium husbandry system. <thanks kindly... please do tell others about us> I have a question regarding of reef aquarium set-up: It is a good idea to have a tank setup up with macroalgae grown (harvested in a regular basis and prevented them from going sexual) and some corals? <macroalgae can serve a very useful purpose as a vehicle for nutrient export as well as substrate for cultivating natural plankton> What would your opinion be if I set up a 40g aquarium with 6" sand bed + several sp. of macro algae + life rocks + some soft corals without a sump. <macroalgae are very competitive... please stick with one species ideally. Mixing them is a bad idea in the long run IMO> For circulation, I would use a  DIY SCWD closed loop system (estimated to run at about 700gph) in additional to a protein skimmer. <excellent> Will this kind of system (macroalgae + softies in a same tank) likely to fail? <not really... the more we/you mix... the more you simply have to be diligent about water quality:  weekly water changes, daily changes of small amounts of carbon, aggressive protein skimming, and you'll be fine for years> Honestly, I do not know why actually most aquarist grow macroalgae in the sump but not in the tank itself. <macros are noxious and compete with corals for space & light and with chemicals> Thank you. Leo <kindly, Anthony> Putting Macroalgae In The Mix! Hi Guys, <Hey! Scott F. your guy tonight!> What macro algae do you recommend for a refugium.  Caulerpa doesn't seem to be the best choice. <Ahh...My fave is Chaetomorpha linum. It's a wonderful macro algae that is both attractive and prolific. It is relatively undemanding, too- and does not have the tendency to release sexual products into the water like Caulerpa. It looks for all the world like one of those pot-cleaning scrub pads...Really neat stuff> And does micro algae create any type of plankton or food for corals?  I was  under the impression it does but I was told at my LFS that this is not so. <Well, you're both right...Although the macro algae does not "create" plankton, it does provide foraging and living area for a variety of organisms, who reproduce within the "canopy" that the macro algae provides. As such, it is a great "habitation space" for planktonic organisms and epiphytic materials. There are many benefits to macro algae use in refugia- this is just another one!> Thanks for your time I love your site. Chris Dial                                                             <Glad to hear that, Chris! We really enjoy bringing it to our fellow hobbyists each and every day! Grab that macro algae and get going'! Good luck! Regards, Scott F> 

- Thanks, Now More Questions - calcium, algae... thanks for the info j- <My pleasure.> another quick question! all the algae in the tank was gone in one day as the angel had a ball after i added it! so now am wondering, i just started to add liquid calcium to the tank it is by Kent, it said to add 1/4 teaspoon a day up to 1 teaspoon a day everyday depending on what specimens i had! <Hmm... best to follow these directions - more is not always better.> will i have a calcium problem if i do this everyday <At the levels you are adding, quite possibly.> {can you measure calcium amounts? <Yes, there are several test kits available to the hobbyist.> and do you need to? <Based on your haphazard method of adding calcium, you should.> if so where can i go to get this? <At your local fish store.> and since i run chem pure will this do any good or will this suck up all the calcium in the chem pure! <No, I don't think ChemiPure will do anything to the calcium you are adding.> i was under the impression that adding calcium to the tank would help the shrimp molt and turbo snails grow bigger shells. is this true? <Not exactly - through natural chemical processes, there is almost always free calcium for your snails to use and in typical snail fashion, they use it very slowly. The shrimp does not need calcium to molt.>  and the different algae would show up! <Really just the pink and purple encrusting algae, coralline and the green algae Halimeda. Other green, brown, and red Algaes are more like plants and don't require calcium as much as other things like potassium, phosphate, and nitrogen.> by the way it is so sweet to watch a cleaner shrimp go to town on cleaning my blue angel, i like the cleaner goby, but the much thorough job is being done by the shrimp, it makes me just want to stay at home just to watch this beautiful work of art! am sorry i said just one? but here is another couple 1. i want to feed micro stuff to my scooter blenny, can i buy this ghostly food somewhere? <Scooter blennies - Dragonettes - need live food, which typically only comes from large, well-established tanks. You will be hard pressed to keep this fish alive if this is not your situation. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm > and i am interested in taking home school to increase my knowledge about the wonders of this beautiful hobby we are so blessed with, i want to do it right , so is there a course i can take through email or something? <Better to start investing in some books - start with Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Robert Fenner.> once again am with everybody else this site rocks... <Cheers, J -- >

Algae Aquascaping? I have seen salt water tanks with macro algae purposefully placed in for a more natural look. It looks nice, I'm just wondering if it is a good idea. << I think it is a wonderful idea.  Better to have than coral (but don't tell Calfo I told you that). >> I have a 125 gal. that is going to be a reef tank. Would it be ok to use some for aquascaping in a tank with corals? << Oh it is highly recommended that you do.  It provides many benefits. >> If so, what kinds of macro algae could I use and how far away from the corals should I keep them.<< My algae and corals grow right on top of each other.  I would use any of the Dictyota species, and most Caulerpa.  Just not C. racemosa because it is a little too prolific of a grower. >>  A blue tang is on the list of possible tank occupants. I have a feeling it would eat any of the macro algae's placed in to the tank even if supplied with adequate amounts of Nori to graze on.<< Even more reason to have the algae, it provides a great secondary food source. >>  Any input is appreciated. Thanks, Shauna. << Hope it all works out well. >> <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Hair Algae in Refugium Adam, Regarding our conversation below, I had read several WWM postings advising against using Caulerpa so I initially used only red Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha.  The problem was that Cyano continually overtook these (presumably due mainly to my high PO4 levels) so I needed to add algae that would grow quickly enough to help me combat the elevated PO4 levels (along with water changes, etc.).  The Cyano overtook a lot of the Caulerpa also but at least the Caulerpa was resilient enough to last a few days between cleanings for me to remove the Cyano again.  I used PhosBan and Phoszorb, added a more powerful venturi to my skimmer, changed my filter pad, siphoned the substrate and performed a few 15% water changes but the Cyano continued to invade my refugium (main tank has never shown a trace of Cyano or any nuisance algae other than diatoms).  Finally, out of desperation, I isolated my refugium from my main tank, added erythromycin to the refugium and let a powerhead provide circulation in the refugium for a week until all Cyano was gone.  After this I re-started circulation between my main tank and refugium and performed another 15% water change.  The refugium has now been Cyano-free for about a week (fingers still crossed) but now the hair algae and the macro algae are battling it out.  I have added more red Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha to the refugium but they are being overgrown by hair algae.  So, although I would love to use only Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha, they are unable to survive in my refugium at this time.  In fact, the Caulerpa is being greatly limited by the hair algae growth as well so maybe this will keep the Caulerpa from "going sexual"?  From the attached photo, you can see the small amount of Caulerpa I have (and the hair algae problem on the rocks and on the macro algae).  I have only about 4" of access above the 20g refugium so manual removal of algae is difficult.  Do you have any additional general recommendations to get my refugium under control for NNR, PO4 reduction, 'pod production and macro algae production (to feed many tangs) - all without nuisance algae? << I LOVE ALGAE!  That sounds nerdy I know, but you can ask me all the questions you want on algae.  Sometimes I will even have answers.  Anyway, for refugium use I recommend trying some Caulerpa racemosa.  It is a nuisance because it grows so fast and so well.  But in a refugium that is what you want.  If not that, then I recommend Caulerpa taxifolia.  I wouldn't worry about it going sexual.  To prevent that, I recommend harvesting it often, but that isn't an issue now, since you don't have it rapidly growing yet.>> I have Anthony's & Bob's books "Reef Invertebrates" and "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" but I am just looking for any additional help as well.  << My two favorite books. >> Thank you for your time and advice!  << The other advice I will give is to look at some other sumps.  See how your friends are doing it, and what algae they are using.>> --Greg
<< Adam Blundell>>

Hair Algae in Refugium 6/5/04 Adam, Regarding our conversation below, I had read several WWM postings advising against using Caulerpa so I initially used only red Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha. The problem was that Cyano continually overtook these (presumably due mainly to my high PO4 levels) so I needed to add algae that would grow quickly enough to help me combat the elevated PO4 levels (along with water changes, etc.). <I have had the same problem in the past and attributed it at least in part to low water movement. It is a frustrating problem!> The Cyano overtook a lot of the Caulerpa also but at least the Caulerpa was resilient enough to last a few days between cleanings for me to remove the Cyano again. <Is such circumstances, I can see why you would choose Caulerpa!> I used PhosBan and Phoszorb, added a more powerful venturi to my skimmer, changed my filter pad, siphoned the substrate and performed a few 15% water changes but the Cyano continued to invade my refugium (main tank has never shown a trace of Cyano or any nuisance algae other than diatoms). <Good steps to take. Cyano often blooms in response to disturbance (like adding a new component to the system). It is especially likely to appear where current is low. Iron oxide hydroxide phosphate removers (Salifert, ROWAphos, Twolittlefishies) are vastly superior to alumina based products. The iron based products look like fine red kitty litter. They absorb much more phosphate per weight.> Finally, out of desperation, I isolated my refugium from my main tank, added erythromycin to the refugium and let a powerhead provide circulation in the refugium for a week until all Cyano was gone. After this I re-started circulation between my main tank and refugium and performed another 15% water change. <Erythromycin is very effective at killing Cyano, but it does not solve the underlying problem, and it also liberates the nutrients bound in the Cyano. Isolating the refugium and following up with water changes was wise.> The refugium has now been Cyano-free for about a week (fingers still crossed) but now the hair algae and the macro algae are battling it out. I have added more red Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha to the refugium but they are being overgrown by hair algae. <Harvest the hair! If it is growing fast and you continually harvest it, you will be accomplishing a great deal of export. Eventually you will get ahead of it.> So, although I would love to use only Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha, they are unable to survive in my refugium at this time. In fact, the Caulerpa is being greatly limited by the hair algae growth as well so maybe this will keep the Caulerpa from "going sexual"? <No one really knows why Caulerpa "goes sexual", so I am not sure if the presence of the hair algae will help prevent it.> From the attached photo, you can see the small amount of Caulerpa I have (and the hair algae problem on the rocks and on the macro algae). <You photo was not attached, but I have experienced the same problem, and know what you are describing.> I have only about 4" of access above the 20g refugium so manual removal of algae is difficult. Do you have any additional general recommendations to get my refugium under control for NNR, PO4 reduction, 'pod production and macro algae production (to feed many tangs) - all without nuisance algae? <The conditions that favor different Algaes is complex. Temperature, light, nutrient levels (and the ratios of different nutrients to each other), etc. can all affect which Algaes dominate. Changing the lighting on the refugium as well as employing phosphate removers may shift the balance. Deep sand will take care of NNR, and the simple presence of non-predated habitat will take care of 'pods.> I have Anthony's & Bob's books "Reef Invertebrates" and "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" but I am just looking for any additional help as well. Thank you for your time and advice! --Greg <My best advice, and I am sorry that it is really very self evident, is to keep up what you are doing.... Harvest the undesirable algae, perform regular water changes and employ phosphate removers (One problem could be that macros might be more phosphate limited than hair algae, so phosphate removers could make things worse). Do try changing the color temperature of your refugium lighting. This may help. Best of luck! Adam>
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