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FAQs about Using Marine Macro-Algae 5

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 4, 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

Macro-algae can be a boon to aquarium keeping...

Nitrates, Phosphates, and Macro-algae question  3/6/07 Greetings, Crew! Hope everything is going well! <Hello Mina, sorry for the long wait.  This is the fifth time I have tried to reply, let's see if it works.> We are writing to you with hope of getting some of our questions answered.    Basically it has to do with nitrates.  Yes, we have read most of the Nitrate FAQ's, but we're still having some difficulty piecing things together, and hoping you would be able to shed some light on the right path to follow.  So, here goes: We have always understood that the goal is to reduce nitrates and phosphates as much as possible in a reef aquarium, but we can't seem to keep the nitrates down. System: 55 gallon tank (set up since August '06) 80 lbs live rock 25 lbs live sand 50 lbs crushed coral 500w Halide 220w PC (110w Actinic - always on, 110w 10K - off when halides on) 40 gallon sump (25 gallons of which is refugium) 50 lbs live sand small skimmer 110w PC (55 10K & 55 Blue) Parameters: pH 8.2 salinity 1.023 temp 78 deg F Alkalinity 10 dKH calcium 420 ammonium/nitrite 0 ppm phosphate 0 ppm nitrate 20 ppm and climbing Livestock:  Yellow Tang, Coral Beauty Angel, Diamond Goby, Copperband Butterfly <Fragile.  Watch this guy.  Beware of hunger strikes.>, Yellowtail Damsel, two Clarkii clowns (one in the main tank watching the corals, and one in the refuge (banished for stealing food and abusing other fish), chocolate chip star (refuge), black brittle star (main tank), coral banded shrimp (main tank), and arrow crab <Watch him with the clown.> (refuge).  Chaetomorpha in the refugium (medium sized piece). The corals have all been growing well (zoos, mushrooms, SPS, LPS, xenia). They had been dull in color under the PC lights, but now are showing intense colors since we added the halides and put in new actinic bulbs. We try not to overfeed the fish or the corals (0-2 times per day), in fact our sand sifting starfish just died (most likely from starvation). The orange diamond goby digs like crazy looking for food and the sand is very clean. The water looks clear as crystal, though removed water during water changes looks yellow. I've typically changed 15 gallons once a week, though last week I changed 40 gallons in an attempt to reduce the nitrates from 20 ppm. It only dropped to around 15. A week later it is back up to 20 again. <This is due to the activity of bacteria.> The algae in our tank grow very slowly (a small amount of hair algae   in the main tank, the cheto <Chaeto> in the refugium) except for the corraline <Coralline> (red and purple) which has been increasing on the live rock quite well. It is my understanding that green algaes <algae> require both phosphates, and nitrates to grow. The fact that our phosphate level is near zero (due to RODI water use?)<Possibly, more likely your Alk, and Ca levels, and the fact that the algae are using what is left.> probably explains the slow growth. Here is the question . . . if nitrate export through cheto <Chaeto>   growth is desired, isn't SOME phosphate required? <Yes, and the algae are using it.> Am I not fighting a losing battle with the nitrates <You said that you only had one piece.  How much damage can you do by yourself at a buffet?  Add more.> if the alge <algae> can't consume them due to a lack of phosphate? <The two are not interrelated.  The algae are fixing the NO3, you just have more NO3 than the algae can consume.> I know it sounds crazy to think about   deliberately adding phosphate to the system, <You do every time that you feed your fish.> but it almost seems that that's what I would need to do to get the cheto to grow and thus reduce the nitrates. What do you guys think? Does the tank need more time to mature? (The majority of the live rock came out of a matured tank) Do we need more rock? Or maybe we need to change the ground   medium (from crushed coral mix to all-sand bed?) <Adding enough sugar fine sand around the live rock to bring the sand bed to about four inches will help out with the NO3 consuming bacteria.  Clostridium I think?>  We're not looking  forward to breaking down the tank (nor do we want to) <Nor do you have to.>, but the corals need the nitrate level to stabilize below 10. <Corals use NO3 too.>  Any ideas?  <If you are using media like bio-balls, or bio-wheels slowly remove them, as they are NO3 reactors, also clean all filter media weekly.  Wash out the pads well with tank water.  This will preserve the bacteria on them.  Also use activated carbon, and PolyFilters.  Rinse these out weekly with tap water.  The Carbon two to three ounces changed weekly, and the PolyFilters can be replaced after three months.  This should help.> Appreciate the help! <Any time.  Brandon> Regards, Rich & Nina

Macro algae lighting: ?'s  9/28/06 Is 130w of 50/50 (10k:Actinic) power compact on a standard 55 gal enough to keep it thriving? <For? What sorts of organisms, purposes?>    What would be the best choice to go in a display 55? Grape Caulerpa; Chaeto I want to grow some macros to naturally knock the nitrates and phosphates down in my tank, to next to nil I just cant seem to drop to lower than 5-15ppm ever, it's a FOWLR with hope of anemones and a few leathers maybe...any suggestions, <Chaetomorpha over the Caulerpaceans... a refugium... anemone, not anemones> My setup is a 55gal standard Fluval 404 fully loaded with 1 Purigen, and 2 ½ cups carbon etc (bio-media) , a marine land 200 with carbon only, 260w compact fluor fixture, but only 130w 50/50 on right now, 70 lbs beautifully aging LR  and about 4 inches LS assorted critters 1 sand sifter, 16 hermits & 3 emerald crabs, 8 Nassarius snails,  5 baby small asst damsels 2 maroon yellow stripe clowns and a lawn mower blenny,  I want to advance this aquarium to a reef, but cant get my nitrates to drop, <The canister, more... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the linked files above> had a skimmer (Berlin Air lift 60) for a while with no drop in the nitrates so I took it off after 3 mos.  What macro would be the best choice?   <And here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgae.htm and the...> I just don't have the $$$ for a refugium or sump at the moment... <Save up, trade/sell the canister filter, DIY... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm....> HELP!!!??? BTW BOB CMA is an awesome book!!!  The most enjoyable thing is aquascaping by far thanks A LOT Crew only reason I am still in this wonderful hobby!      <Patience, planning... reading... thought, then action. Bob Fenner>    

Re: Macro algae lighting: ?'s  9/29/06 So the prob is my canister filter? <... if/when you read you'll see that this, these are contributors...> What grow light would be the best for a refugium with Chaeto in it? Wavelength and what not, I want it to just grow out of control, that would entail the most nutrient export right?...I have read my self in circle on WWM about this subject just cant make a firm decision.  Thanks again appreciate the help < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugltgfaqs.htm Don't write... read. RMF>

Greens-Caulerpa and Halimeda... competition twixt Algal Divisions   7/30/06 Hey Crew!   My main tank is incredibly healthy-90g with 60kg live rock; ammonia=0, nitrite=0, nitrate=0, calcium=360, pH=8.1. This tank is home to 4 Nemos, 1 eibli, 1 flame hawk, and 1 blue ring angel. <Will need more room... soon>  It also contains 9 turbo snails for which there is barely enough algae to feed. Every piece of live rock has patches of beautiful purple encrusting algae. No green algae seems to grow in it. This leads to my question. My quarantine tank has nice patches of Halimeda, grapelike Caulerpa, and caterpillar weed. I would like to transfer this algae into my main tank. However I am under the impression, from reading many FAQs, that green algae needs nitrate to flourish. So, if I was to move the macro-algae into the main tank, is it likely to survive or will it die? <Conditions there favor/ing the encrusting Reds will likely preclude the Greens doing well> In the beginning (about 1 year ago) the tank was left for about 4 months to cycle and even in this time, no green algae grew. <Likely your lighting, supplementing habits...>   I have moved some hair algae covered rock into the main tank previously and the hair algae slowly disappeared.   I started off doing weekly water changes but have since begun doing fortnightly water changes in the hope I might get some nitrate, but it just won't happen!   Thank you! <Mmm... like some folks lack of understanding re whether the world's terrorist population is static versus dynamic, you do have nitrate being produced... and readily absorbed... I would feed some of the Greens to the fishes here expressly, and/or offer dried human-intended products of same for the purpose. Bob Fenner>

Non-Calcareous Tang "Safe" Seaweed - 07/29/06 Hi gang, <<Hello Chuck...EricR here>> I wrote back some months ago describing a problem in my  'display' macro tank. . . Which Dr. Bob correctly diagnosed as 'blue green algae' (despite its reddish/hairy appearance). <<Mmm, yes...comes in a myriad of colors>> His prognosis was accurate -- albeit somewhat discouraging -- that I was unlikely to be able to eliminate this troublesome nuisance, since it tends to bend systems to its own design. <<Pretty smart fella, that Bobster>> After several years of way-too-much maintenance, I finally/reluctantly reduced the tank to a large field of red seaweed (Gracilaria morph? Not sure. Looks like 'fire' -- but in opaque strands which form clumpy 'bunches' rather than the translucent 'Halymenia' I used to have) along one side. . . separated by a large, open field of white aragonite from an enormous cream-colored double Rasta (slightly larger than a football, and host to a pair of true Percs) on the other side.  The happy end result?  The simple fire-and-ice look of the overall tank (a 60 gallon) now gets compliments. . . whereas my previous efforts at maintaining a seaweed 'zoo' looked pretty darn bad.  The second bit of good news was some Sargassum (hystrix?) <<one possibility>> which I'd cultivated in the system that got overrun was transferred to my main reef. . . where my gluttonous yellow tang and purple tang were good about 'scrubbing' off the troublesome blue green algae (something they seem happy to consume in small amounts). . . and after a few test-nibbles of leaves and stalks, are leaving the new crop of butterscotch-colored leaves to grow without disturbing them.  I realize this isn't a plant that is commonly available (I got mine from a hobbyist for a few bucks on E-bay), but for a guy who thinks the idea of seaweed in a reef tank is cool, and still loves tangs, this is a real plus. <<Yes, so it seems>> I keep mine anchored to several bits of live rock and down on the substrate, to minimize interference with my corals. It's a long way from the lights (about 25 inches down from my just-PC's lighting) but is growing just fine.  Sorry for the uncertainty with respect to names. . . but most of the LFS labels run along the lines of 'red kelp. . . or 'green macro'. <<Indeed>> Chuck <<Thank you for sharing.  EricR>>

Macroalgae Selection   6/13/06 Hello <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> Do you have an opinion on any type of macroalgae that can be used decoratively in the main display? Someone has suggested Halimeda  from Live aquaria. John Arenz <John, as long as you are maintaining sufficient calcium  and light levels in your system, I think that you'll do fine with this macroalgae. It's one of my personal favorites!> Quarantine...Macroalgae  6/5/06 Hi Crew, <Hello Jeff> I just purchased some macroalgae for my refugium.  How should I quarantine it so nothing that came home with it will infect my system? <How comfortable do you feel with your dealer?>  If uneasy, quarantine the same as you would for fish.  In most cases dealers usually keep macro in separate tanks where no fish are present.  If all his tanks are centrally filtered, then we are back to the top.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, <You're welcome> Jeff

Golden Brown Algae in Chaetomorpha   5/15/06 Dear Crew, <<Hello>> I am using Chaetomorpha between my refugium baffles as a macro algae filter.  A golden-brown algae with fine strands has become enmeshed in the Chaetomorpha. <<Likely a blue-green algae/Cyano bacteria>> Rinsing and cleaning the Chaetomorpha periodically with marine water helps but the golden brown algae keeps returning.  What can I do to ensure that the Chaetomorpha and not the golden-brown algae thrives? <<Mmm, if the macro algae is not being malaffected I wouldn't be concerned.  The Cyano is obviously feeding off of something in your system>> I have a 75-gallon reef aquarium with a 29-gallon downstream refugium.  The Chaetomorpha is kept in a space between the refugium baffles which is 5" wide x 12" long x 15" deep.  The Chaetomorpha culture is 3-inches in depth and kept suspended with a strong up flow powered by an Iwaki MD-30RXT pump.  A mesh screen keeps the macro-algae from the pump compartment.  Over this relatively small 5"x12" surface area, I've placed a Jalli compact fluorescent fixture for reverse daylight photosynthesis (RDP).  The fixture's 13-watt "daylight" bulb is switched on by a timer for 8 hours each night.  I can replace the daylight bulb with an actinic bulb, replace the 13-watt fixture with an 18-watt fixture and change the photoperiod.   Which steps do you think will help the Chaetomorpha in its battle with micro-algae? <<The lighting is not likely affect the Cyano, but for the health of the macro algae definitely keep a "daylight" bulb, and if you think growth is slow, up the wattage.  I would also try siphoning out the accumulated "gunk" from the bottom of the baffle/Chaetomorpha chamber...the macro algae is functioning like a mechanical filter and probably trapping a lot of detritus which may be spurring the Cyano>> Thanks very much. Regards, Paul <<Cheers, EricR>>

Clown Surgeon, other Tang... comp., macroalgae avail.   4/1/06 Thank you Bob, that cleared it up somewhat. Also just wanted to ask if you have received an email I sent a week ago. Not sure if it got lost or something? <Don't recall... anything that was missed... lost...> I know you're busy, so if the reason is due to the backlog of questions, I apologize for my impatience. I have included the email here: <Ah, good> "Hi Bob, I am considering purchasing a Clown Surgeon (Acanthurus lineatus) and have researched widely on this fish. I would like your opinion on whether it will be suited to my tank. I have a 900 Litre tank currently housing a blue-spotted ray, and 3 small snowflake eels. I plan to complete the tank with 2 blue-lined snappers and 2 H. acuminatus. Do you see any possible problem if I were to introduce a Clown Surgeon? <Mmm, not with what you list. This may become a/the alpha fish here> I understand they are aggressive and require a higher level of care. And I am concerned it might cause trouble with the snappers. If I don't get the Clown surgeon my other option is an Acanthurus Sohal or a Naso Lituratus. <These can also be "bold", particularly the Sohal> I know that this is involves a high degree of speculation, but I am trying to avoid possible personal disappointment and stress for my tank inhabitants. Have you had any experience with this (these) fish? <Oh yes> Also, I am having trouble finding any retailer in Australia which sells Chaetomorpha...Can you suggest any way in which I can get my hands on some? <Perhaps some other hobbyist... are there BB's for the marine aquarium hobby? I would query otherwise re on Reefs.org, Aquarium Frontiers, ReefCentral re...> (Am also not sure on the current legality of importing/retailing this type of macroalgae.. I have emailed Aust. Quarantine but so far no reply) <Do take care to not break the law> I do have access to red macroalgae however, and I was wondering if red algae is suitable for consumption by any of the above mentioned surgeons. <Many species of Reds, yes> Will (can) it also serve as a denitrifying component in my refugium? <Definitely> Thanks in advance, Joe. <BobF> The Great Chaetomorpha Caper (What Killed His Chaeto?)  - 03/29/2006 Thanks for taking my email. <Our pleasure! Scott . with you today!> I have a six week old 75 gal eventual reef tank, 80# LR with DSB, now completely cycled. Ammonia and Nitrite 0, Nitrate <5. In the sump I have a separate 8 gal refugium fed by a 1/2in PVC branch off my main overflow drain. <Sounds nice!> Soon after the tank cycled--- about three weeks ago--- I added Chaeto to the refugium with very low flow and it grew like gangbusters. Water parameters have been essentially stable throughout. Then (reading somewhere that Chaeto should "tumble") I dramatically increased the refugium flow.  Two or three days later there was a diatom bloom, and then--- while scratching my head--- I noticed the Chaeto had wilted into a rotting mushy ball. I tossed it in the garbage and the diatoms soon disappeared. I surmise the Chaeto released a bolus of nutrients when it died, thus feeding the diatoms. <A very good guess, IMO> Any idea what killed my Chaeto? Besides increasing refugium flow, the only other thing I can think of is that, the week before this happened, I raised my dKH from 9 to 10--- over about 4-5 evenings with B-Ionic #1. Would appreciate any input. Russell in Louisville, KY. <Hi Russell. Sounds like you were really on top of things. However, Chaetomorpha is like any other algae in that it can and does crash when something is not to its liking. Hard to say what did it in. I doubt that the increasing dKH is what killed off your Chaeto. Contrary to what you may have heard, I've always kept this macroalgae in systems with a gentle current. Other macroalgae, such as Gracilaria, DO like to have a tumbling motion. Perhaps the strong water motion damaged some of the woven masses of the algae, which lead to a crash. Could have even been a combination of a few little things. I'd try a gain, but keep the flow moderate, and try to keep excessive amounts of detritus and other algae out of the Chaetomorpha "matrix" to ensure maximum growth and health. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F.>

What Killed My Chaeto? Bob's go... multiple msg. sends?  - 03/29/2006 Thanks for taking my email. <Thanks for writing> I have a six week old 75 gal eventual reef tank, 80# LR with DSB, now completely cycled. Ammonia and Nitrite 0, Nitrate <5. In the sump I have a separate 8 gal refugium fed by a 1/2in PVC branch off my main overflow drain. Soon after the tank cycled--- about three weeks ago--- I added Chaeto to the refugium with very low flow and it grew like gangbusters.  Water parameters have been essentially stable throughout. Then (reading somewhere that Chaeto should "tumble") I dramatically increased the refugium flow. <Mmm... doesn't really need to have vigorous circulation> Two or three days later there was a diatom bloom, and then--- while scratching my head--- I noticed the Chaeto had wilted into a rotting mushy ball. I tossed it in the garbage and the diatoms soon disappeared. I surmise the Chaeto released a bolus of nutrients when it died, thus feeding the diatoms. <Good theory... how would we test?> Any idea what killed my Chaeto? <Likely the tumbling> Besides increasing refugium flow, the only other thing I can think of is that, the week before this happened, I raised my dKH from 9 to 10--- over about 4-5 evenings with B-Ionic #1. Would appreciate any input. Russell in Louisville, KY. <Could have been mal-affected by other changes... in nutrient availability, the cycling in of new competitive, predatory organisms... I would not be dissuaded from trying again in a few weeks to months (sans the tumbling). Bob Fenner in Hawai'i, down with the NELHA crowd, including some old friends who are involved in macrophyte culture... that do use tumbling... but in large settings, complete, axenic...>

Re: Chaeto - looking for the green shoots of success  - 04/19/2006 Hi Chris! Yep- I meant to say ditch the Caulerpa!" I noticed that the other day and thought "What was I thinking?" LOL! I know that Caulerpa has been known to release some compounds that have been shown to inhibit coral growth, so it's not outside of the realm of possibility that it's doing the same to the Chaetomorpha...I really would get rid of the Caulerpa, myself. Hope

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