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FAQs about Marine Macro-Algae Use/Rationale

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, Marine (Macro) Algae 5, 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


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  >>

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> 

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> 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.

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>

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.>>

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>

Too much macroalgae? Hey, I have a 65 reef tank and the algae which is the (plants) in my system is growing rapidly I was wondering if I should get rid of the plants, what is the positive side and the negative effect of this choice?  And I was wondering do I really need these plants or should I get rid of it?? please help <Well, first of all, I'm assuming you mean a macroalgae of some sort - Caulerpa, I'd assume.  Caulerpa can grow with surprising speed.  There are definitely some serious benefits to having macroalgae in your tank - primarily nutrient export (the macroalgae sucks up nutrients that would otherwise contribute to massive growth of undesirable Algaes, like Bryopsis, hair algae, Cyanobacteria....).  However, there are other macros that are more easily managed than Caulerpa, like Halimeda and Chaetomorpha.  Start reading here, under "Marine Micro/Macro-Algae & True Plants" for gobs of info:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/index.htm  -Sabrina>

Macroalgae and Mangroves - 8/18/03 I've read a few article lately about using mangroves to reduce phosphates and nitrates. Is this method preferred over using macroalgae? <not at all IMO. Many macros can far out perform the slow-growing mangroves as a nutrient export vehicle> I'm am planning of setting up a 90 gallon tank with several messy eaters in it. I have a Berlin skimmer with a Mag drive 500 to power it. <seriously consider a better skimmer my friend. Something more aggressive and reliable. EuroReef or Aqua C rank high> Even though wet/dries can be nitrate factories, I would like to utilize the bio filtration for these fish. <no worries... necessary and helpful for large bio-loads> The tank will include about 45-60 lbs of live rock with about 20 lbs of base rock. Could I place any natural nitrate reducers in my sump. Thank you <an inline DSB would help significantly with NNR. Anthony>

Heavy metals and macroalgae 11/15/03 Bob (or whoever answers this) <Anthony Calfo in your service> First, I really, really like your web site.  Great resource and I refer to it all the time. <thanks kindly... do tell a friend> to make the question short.  Do macro algae and other marine plants filter out (absorbed, export or whatever) heavy metals?   <yes... heavily in some cases. Not uncommon though among plants and algae. You may recall industry using various plants (Hyacinth) for doing the same. And what of the role of bog plants in wetlands and aquatic ecosystems? Huge role> I especially like your pages on marine plants and thought they mentioned that marine plants also do some filtering out of heavy metals.  If I missed that page could you provide me a link? <I am not aware of that specific page... do simply use the google search tool from our home page wetwebmedia.com to toggle and seek your desired subjects please> The reason I am asking is that I am constantly chatting with other saltwater keepers who just don't seem to get the importance of naturally balancing out the ecosystem using plants.  Sure you need to look at the entire system but to me the single most important thing is to establish a thriving plant growth and then do the rest. Bob Beasley <indeed... and the most underrated of all perhaps, turf algae> PS  can you tell I am an old freshwater natural tank guy? LOL. My current 10g fresh has 30 guppies 5 platies, sand, plants and light.  no circulation of any kind not even an air stone.  All I do is replace evaporative water and feed the fish.  Been up two years no and all fish grew up from the original 2 guppies and 2 platies. I kept one tank like that for six continuous years.  And a small salt for 6 years also.  But I didn't know about macros and plants for salt. <do peek at our coverage of marine plants in algae in our new book too if you get a chance ("Reef Invertebrates")... its the most comprehensive in the industry to date. kind regards, Anthony>

Macroalgae Mania! Hi Scott <Hi there!> I am thinking of adding some Caulerpa into my sump. <A good move to use a macroalgae, but I am partial to Chaetomorpha, myself...> I currently have the sump filled up with Siporax. Would this be a good idea? <Well, Siporax is a sintered glass media that assists in colonizing bacteria for biofiltration. Not a bad idea, but I think that a well-established reef system with live rock can do the same thing> Don't like the look of Caulerpa in the main display but hearing about how beneficial it is for filtration, I came up with the idea of sticking some in my sump. <That's an ideal application...> I only have my lights on at night for about 5 hours would this be enough light for the Caulerpa, during the day I get quite a bit of natural light? <Try it and see... You may need a longer "lights on" period for the macroalgae in the sump.> I also mentioned to you that I set my lights to go on for a few hours in the mornings, and man did this create allot of terrible brown algae so I have changed the lights cycle to only go on at night again. <Well, remember, algae blooms are as much a function as nutrients as anything else. Light is just a "catalyst" here-not the cause. Consider aggressive nutrient export techniques to help alleviate the problems. Don't forget that it is common in new tanks with immature nutrient export mechanisms...> I also have noticed that the Siporax in my sump still looks very clean, nothing building up on it yet? is this because of the light load? <Well, it is unlikely that the biofilm of bacteria are going to be visible, at least initially...> The Siporax has been in there for a few months already and it looks as if I put it in there yesterday. A friend of mine has been reading up on this filtration called miracle mud? Can you tell me more and if its as good as say they say it is? <I'd check out Leng Sy's Ecosystem Aquaria site for more information. It's a valid technique, and there is a ton more information out there than I can provide in this response! Back to the reading for you! LOL> Thanks Ziad <Always a pleasure! Regards, Scott F> Algae- The Good, The Bad, and The Best! Hi Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I have been dealing with a diatom problem since setting-up my 180g aquarium 10 months ago.  At least, from reading the FAQs at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brownalgcontfaqs.htm I think the brown dusting on my glass sounds like diatoms.  It is fairly easily removed but it returns in only 1-2 days.  I use RO water and I don't *think* I overfeed as my fishes always hungrily finish all food in under 2 minutes.  I also have several brittle star, hermits, sand-sifting goby, etc to clean-up any 'leftovers'. <All good nutrient control and scavenging techniques, but there are more things that you can do> From what I have read, using a good skimmer is probably the most important step in eliminating diatoms. <Well, actually, skimmers are excellent at removing many of the excess nutrients and substances that contribute to many different nuisance algae, and I recommend a skimmer for every tank, but if you're dealing with brown diatoms, the causative factor is often an accumulation of silicate in your source water. RO is a good start, but you may need to use a "high silicate removal" cartridge on the RO unit, or utilize a silicate-removing chemical filtration media somewhere in your system. Otherwise, every time you change your water, you are re-supplying the algae with "fuel" for more growth!> I have a Red Sea Berlin (non-Turbo), powered by a tee off of my main return (Mag 18).  Although the skimmer can produce a significant amount of foam, this foam is generally white in appearance and the collection cup is filled with fairly light-colored skimmate.  I reduced the venturi airflow so I get a dark-colored skimmate but, at this rate, it takes about 2-3 weeks to fill a 16 oz. collection container.  Is it possible that there is very little waste/protein in the water to be extracted by the skimmer? <Not usually. Even very well-established, nutrient poor systems will contain enough organics for a well-tuned skimmer to produce something dark and yucky weekly, or even more frequently. Keep tweaking that skimmer until it produces, or consider a more capable skimmer...> Ammonia and nitrite test zero, nitrate tests 10-20 PPM.  Temp is 77F and salinity is 1.0235 SG.  If this amount of skimmate production seems entirely too low, do you have suggestions for increasing skimmer output (without just increasing water extracted)? <No specifics for your skimmer, as I have not used it before, but it usually has a lot to do with getting the right air/water mixture into the unit, a considerable amount of time, and use of colorful metaphors in the process. In other words, it's a pain! But keep trying!> Unfortunately my red leg and blue leg hermits seem to think Astrea shells are in fashion these days so I think I need to supplement my janitors. <Yep- I've seen that, too!> What is the best diatom cleaner for glass (or acrylic in my case)? <Well, as a "cleaner", Trochus and Strombus are good ones, IMO. The best thing to do is keep the silicates and other nutrients out to begin with...> If I order more snails, I want to ensure they are able to right themselves before a crab moves in.  I have several Nerites and Ceriths but neither appears to have a strong appetite for diatoms (some Nerites at least try but they cannot keep-up with the diatom growth). <I use this species, and find them more interesting to look at than effective as a nuisance algae control, myself. They are pretty cool, though!> Apparently my sand sifters are doing a very good job of keeping diatoms off the sand because I never notice a problem there. <Good> I am in the process of adding a 20g refugium to this aquarium so I am hopeful this will help to reduce the diatom problem as well provide 'pods for a mandarin and food for tangs. <A refugium will definitely help process organics to reduce some nuisance algae> I have read that mangrove is one of the most efficient consumers of nitrates and I have read that Caulerpa is the best consumer of nitrates/phosphates. <Well, in my opinion, and the opinion of many others- mangroves simply grow too slowly to be considered an efficient nutrient export mechanism. Caulerpa is a great consumer of nutrients, but has some potential drawbacks to its use in some cases, such as a propensity to crash and release its gametes and adsorbed nutrients back into the system. Look for the macroalgae Chaetomorpha, which is every bit as prolific as Caulerpa, without any of the "dark side"! Or- you could try propagating Gracilaria parvispora, a great and useful algae!> Which do you recommend growing in a refugium (or do you recommend both)? <Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria, baby!> Of the various types of Caulerpa, what type is the best at NNR and phosphate reduction -- without releasing toxins or being overly-invasive?   <Other hobbyists may disagree- But I feel that none of them are without this potential problem!> Since I have many tangs, I was planning to grow IPSF's 'Tang Heaven' in the refugium as well but I see they offer three types (red, yellow, gold and green).  Which type would be most attractive /beneficial to tangs and how would 'Tang Heaven' compare to Caulerpa or mangrove for NNR or phosphate reduction? <"Tang Heaven" (Gracilaria) is an awesome macroalgae, which would be my first choice for organic nutrient control. However, many people seem to find it a bit tricky to grow. I would utilize any of the Gracilaria species, but I prefer the red variety. The limiting factors in its propagation are nutrients, lighting, and water motion. Try to keep it well lit, and in constant motion.> As always, thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge with all of us in the hobby! --Greg <My pleasure, Greg! Keep working that skimmer and limiting incoming nutrients, and things should work out okay! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Refugium macro for tang food/nutrient cycling 3/28/04 Anthony, Thanks again for such a prompt response!   <always welcome> I am left with one remaining question...  Since you suggest against adding Caulerpa (and Bob suggested I use a macro algae other than my red Gracilaria) <I did? Mmm... nah. RMF>, what do you suggest I use for nitrate/phosphate export and to feed my many tangs?   <Frankly... I don't think you should give up on Gracilaria so easily. It is the most readily consumed and one of the easiest to keep by far. Any else I can think of is substandard. Still... as a suggestion, Ulva/sea lettuce types if you prefer> Since space limits me to only a 20 gallon refugium for my 180g aquarium, I need a very efficient method of nitrate/phosphate export (although my nitrate level has never been measurable, PO4 has been excessive). -Greg <Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha (not edible) are two of the very best. Anthony>

Macro algae for nutrient export Hey team! I am planning on using a custom-made, hang-on, refugium with macro algae on my 20 gallon mini-reef at the office. The macro algae, a Remora, and ~16lbs. of live rock will be providing the filtration for the system. I understand that Anthony prefers other macros over the Caulerpa. I'm interested in trying something else, too. I checked http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marvascpltfaqs.htm and it looks like most of your favorites require a pretty deep sand bed. My refugium has baffles that are about 2" deep. What species of macroalgae would you suggest based on these limitations? <many species of Chaetomorpha work well, Acetabularia and Neomeris are very attractive (more aesthetic than anything), Codium is interesting and also do consider many of the more calcareous algae species (Halimeda, Penicillus, Udotea) Best regards, Anthony> Thanks! -Jeremy

Feeding kelp Greetings to the Wet Web Posse! <<Yo yo! JasonC here at your service...>> Fantastic site! I read so much info here. Hate to bug you guys but I have two questions that I'm dying to have answered. <<No worries.>> First: I have a 50 gal. With a 175MH FOWLR that is slowly sliding toward a reef tank. A rescued bubble coral from a friend started it. Following success there, a BTA and some star polyps have moved it further along. I have Halimeda coming out of my ears and I am starting to grow other (turtle weed and Derbesia I believe) green algae. I have a yellow tang in QT now and will be adding it in a few days. I was wondering (now to the question) if the tang runs out of algae in the tank, if I would be able to feed it kelp or other macro algae from the ocean? <<I'd say yes to the "other" macro algae, but I'm not sure a tang would eat kelp - it's a little tough. Certainly worth a try.>> I live in Long Beach, CA. and frequently see giant kelp and other stuff on/near shore and in the bays. What are the risks and precautions for doing something like this? <<I would be careful of anything that comes from close to shore as it will likely contain some concentration of common pollutants, none of which you want in your fish or your tank. Stuff collected from farther out would be better advised, but again there's no guarantee that the tang will eat it.>> Second: I have a Berlin (red sea) skimmer driven by a Rio 2700 in my sump that does not seem to pull out much gunk. I cleaned it last month (as per suggestions on your site) and still have not seen much production despite a dramatic increase in the amount of fine bubbles in the column. I have seen a little more Cyano in the tank but this could be due to my recent upgrade to the 175 MH or to iodine additions (started with the introduction of the star polyps). <<Oh for certain, a 175w MH will grow any algae like weeds.>> Any ideas how to boost skimmate production? <<Not really, skimmers can only skim what's there. If your bioload is light, then there's not really a whole lot to skim.>> Thank you so very much for your time. Best regards. Karl Palm <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: please help (Oh green water, keep on moving...), part II I have a protein skimmer but no live rock yet, I was just getting ready to put some in when this algae problem started. I use a tap water purifier that I have done all water tests on and it is fine. <<What did you test? A TWP is not sufficient to remove all the possible suspects that might be causing your algae problem.>> I tried a few turbo snails but they died off. <<These aren't going to help with green water anyway.>> I have talked to my local fish guy who has been helping me a lot since I am a beginner aquarist and it has baffled him. I was thinking of getting a small amount of Caulerpa , what do you think about that but I eventually want to grow a reef when I get more settled and I don't want that to ruin that set up. <<Don't add anything else until you've dealt with this problem - the Caulerpa won't help at this juncture. Honestly, I still think you need to explore your source water a little more.>> thanks <<Cheers, J -- >>

Plants for nitrate reduction Hello to whomever may be answering questions tonight! I just have a couple of simple questions. I'm trying to reduce nitrates. I've been reading the faq's on your site, and noticed that plants have the ability to lower nitrate levels. Could you please recommend a few?  <Mmm, Halimeda, Caulerpa species grow best/fastest for the purpose in hobbyist systems> Would these plants take over my tank or make burrowing difficult for my sting-ray?  <Yes> If so, I'll just put them in the sump, but I was thinking that the tangs might like to graze upon whatever plants were introduced to their home. Thanks for your help, you guys rule (: Ro <These are actually not plants, but algae/thallophytes... you can look up true/vascular plants, use them... or both in a sump/refugium... a good step for many purposes. Bob Fenner>

Feeding fresh algae Dear Bob, <Hello> I just wanted to check your position on feeding marine algae that I might collect on the beach to my Ctenochaetus strigosus. I live on the South Coast of the UK and it would be relatively easy to get hold of some macroalgae from our beaches. Would there be a practical way to preserve the nutrients and get rid of possible microbial or viral diseases (freezing?) and also eventual pollution washing?), so as not to harm him unduly? <I think this is an idea, resource worth trying. As you likely know, such material has been used as fodder... If it were me, I'd rig up a simple marine tank with low lighting, something in the way of filtration (perhaps just an air-powered sponge filter)... and leave the collected algae (of a few, "softer" species... reds and greens, but not browns) to simply float, lose whatever "hitchhikers" it has over a week or two's time... try feeding them... if they're accepted, go on to trying various ways of preparation and storage: parboiling, rinsing and freezing, microwaving, blending and freezing in cubes, and freezing altogether for handy use.> Also, I hear a US public aquarium has very successfully used broccoli to augment the intake of vitamin A in HLLE disease in blue tangs. What do you think about feeding some organically grown broccoli to my Ctenochaetus? <Worth trying. But, many folks simply use liquid vitamin supplements applied to all sorts of foods to augment iodide, C, D et al. nutrients> Finally, he/she's about 10cm long. What length can I expect him to achieve in a 60 Imp Gallon system where his only housemate is a small Huma Huma trigger (4cm)? <Perhaps another 5 cm. over time... they're slow growers comparatively> Thanks for your answers and for your illuminating insights throughout your site. Massimo, Brighton, UK <Thank you for your participation, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Refugium I have a question concerning a refugium set-up. I currently have a 55 gallon refugium that is on an opposite lighting cycle than my display tank. The refugium contains 60 lbs of live sand and some Caulerpa algae. I have read some articles that make me think that there are better algae or other methods to do the same thing (reduce nitrates, etc.). I would like any information or resources about refugiums. <It depends on your tank. If you have a mostly fish tank and nutrient export is your priority, Caulerpa or Dictyota would be my choice. If you have corals, I would avoid both. Then depending on your corals and the type of plankton you wish to generate Seagrasses, such as Thalassia, or Chaetomorpha would be my favorites.> Thanks for your help, Mike Winston <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugium Follow Up I do have corals mostly LPS and soft leathers. Will the Thalassia or Chaetomorpha also remove the nutrients <Yes, to an extent. The Chaetomorpha is your best choice. It is more effective at nutrient export than the Seagrasses and it will encourage zooplankton for your LPS.> and if they will where can they be purchased, none of my LFS have this? <You should be able to find it at many online e-tailers. I know http://www.eastcoastclams.com/ has some. It is not listed, but just email him and I am sure he will send it to you. You should look around though. You don't want to pay shipping on a handful of algae. It would be more cost effective to buy something else for the shipping fees.> Thanks again <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Converting Caulerpa refugium to misc. algae More questions baby bubba crew, <no longer... I am now... a knight... who says... "Ni!"> What other types of nutrient export can be used besides macro algae? <wow... a tough question to answer in less than 10,000 words. At least by me. Bob and I turned over something like 30 pages into the editor just on refugiums (without pictures!) for the new book (Reef Invertebrates). There are tens of species that can be used. Animals filters, Vegetable filters, true plants, micro- and macroalgae. Syconoid and other sponges, tunicates... so many great creatures> I have heard of people using xenia as a nutrient export. Are there benefits? downsides? <briefly stated... Xenia is fast growing, weakly noxious and fairly stable. It is also quite saleable. That makes it useful as an "animal filter"> How about cryptic zones. <fascinating with sponges and tunicates (and other filter feeders, worms, etc). They are slow to grow, variably noxious and precarious. Only recommended if you are willing to work harder for it> And lastly what are your thoughts on using quality natural seawater. <Never!!! Too tedious to prepare safely. No less expensive after processing (ozone, carbon, test kits and additives to temper its seasonal variations in bio-minerals, etc). And where are you going to draw natural seawater from that isn't along a populated coast with effluent from millions of people living inland polluting the first few miles of it. No way dude. Not likely safe or worthwhile. Synthetic seawater mixed with purified H2O is extremely consistent and safe... I'm willing to pay for that small bit of insurance> As you can tell I am trying to be nature boy with my reef tank. <why don't you make a jersey shore biotope display with a sandy beach with beer cans and needles littering it? Just a suggestion> Once again thanks in advance. Tom G. <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

Macroalgae Rationale In a previous response to inquiry (ref. 410) you had said that some macro-algae in my sump or system would be good for the tank. Can you explain to me what and how to go about achieving this? By the way thanks for your help on the previous inquiries. The local LFS keep wanting to sell me more chemicals and i refuse to put anything in my tanks that I'm not sure of. Less is more and natural solutions seem to work alot better. >> Live macro-algae in a sump attached to a display system is a winner on several counts. By having this algae either on an alternating light/dark cycle with the main tank, much variability in water quality (chemistry and physics) is reduced... more stable pH, dissolved oxygen, many other factors are more homeostatic. The added volume of the sump and lack of predators there also allows for incidental or intentional culture of foodstuffs for your specimens in the main system as well. For most systems, the sump is provided with some live rock, and if any "mulm" accumulates, it is also best left in place. Live macro-algae is situated in/amongst the live rock. The green algae of the genus Caulerpa can be illuminated continuously, i.e. 24 hours a day. Other forms are best put on a light/dark cycle alternating, including overlapping a few hours if you desire, with the display system's lighting. Bob Fenner, who agrees with your philosophy on aquarium management: only use tools, substances that you understand.

More on the Tang, Nori, and Cyano I got the small (now) Sailfin Tang for my forty gallon breeder. I fear at the rate he is growing, he/she won't remain small long!! So anybody who wants a very fine Tang... So my question is about this. I am afraid that to accommodate my Tang's ravenous appetite I have succeeded in overfeeding my tank. As, and this is strange, I have some Cyano in the front of the tank (at least I think it is Cyano) but none in the back. <... okay> I added a largish Maxi jet (1000) on one side, so I doubt it is circulation. You also thought this was sufficient. So I am thinking it must be I am overfeeding. <Perhaps... and more likely a "true" Green Algae than Cyanobacteria...> The trouble is they always say don't overfeed, but how much exactly do I feed? <Try Nori... not much potential for pollution... and frequent partial water changes... monitor some aspect of nutrient/metabolite accumulation like nitrate concentration... and let this be your guide> The trouble came, I think, when I tried to add some Nori to the tank with a clip and later to just rubber band it to a piece of rock. The stuff was blowing around all over. When the tang would bite a piece off it left more to sail around the tank. Yikes. <Cut in smaller strips, fold and pinch in the clip> Anyway, I stopped feeding the Nori (somebody suggested there were differences in Nori but I don't know what brand to buy). Also anything to make it less scraggly? Right now I am feeding Spirulina flake, ON flake, and frozen brine supplemented with vitamins and some of Ecosystems garlic elixir Also with vitamins and iodine). I am looking at my watch and giving him about two minutes worth, if you get my drift. But how often a day?  <Two, three times...> I have heard that they graze constantly, and I now don't think I have enough algae on the rock to satisfy him/her. (Btw he/she does look very good and the colors have come out a bit since I bought it). So I must be doing something right. I just don't want the Cyano. I hope this isn't too much to ask. :-) (I have an Ecosystems tank and i think the algae in the sump has just starved off the other Algaes perhaps? But not the Cyano. I know it's not really algae and i did read and reread your articles and FAQ.) <Yes, possibly> Also could it be something else? Like coralline? It is actually pretty and doesn't seem slimy. It is even growing in the sand and on the backs of some snails. I am scrapping it off with a credit card, but it seems too maroon for coralline. It isn't dusty like diatoms. Sorry if this is going on and on. I hope not incoherently. :-} Thanks again. --Jane <No worries. Bob Fenner who sees you with a larger system, soon.>

Plants for marine systems? I have currently 5 fish, royal Gramma, raccoon butterfly, domino damsel, yellow tail damsel, common clown, live rock, pc of coral & fake coral in a 28 gallon tank. Is it a good idea to add live plants for food. ALL IS DOING WELL <Lorenzo Gonzalez, responding for Bob-in-Indonesia. That raccoon will eventually be waaaaaay too big for that 28 gallon tank. None of those fish you listed eat algae. But most of them would eat the little crustaceans that would come/grow/breed with a healthy batch of Caulerpa in your system... regards, Lorenzo>

Re: nitrates high! Dear Bob, OK now I'm REALLY confused. I quote you from the site you referred us to: "by using a typical wet-dry you will find a surplus of nitrates produced... and need to find ways to rid the system of the same... Instead, more "balanced" filtration approaches like using live rock, macroalgae, a mud sump... won't." Where do you describe the "mud sump"?  <Oh... let's see... do need to write a complete "piece" about these... How about here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm Please read through these FAQs and use the Google search feature on our site (WetWebMedia) with the words "mud", "sump", refugium, Leng Sy...> Isn't our crushed coral what they call a deep sand bed that has denitrifying bacteria? <If deep enough, not too-circulated, depending on grade, composition...> Would rustling through it disrupt this even if there is detritus in it? <Yes, to some degree> Everything I read said the trickle, while expensive, was the safest way to go (aside from a totally LR system).  <The "safest" way to go about what? Live aquatic closed-system filtration? Depends on many qualifying criteria, but not the "safest".> If we remove the BioBale, how will the ammonia be broken down?  <By nitrifiers elsewhere in the system... once going (cycled) there are plenty> How will LR do anything different from the BioBale? What's the best course to transition? <All this posted on our site... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm  and beyond in the "Curing LR" FAQs sections> Last night, we vacuumed out a huge amount of black gunk under the bio-bale. Hopefully we did not kill any helpful bacteria (or that gunk wasn't anaerobic bacteria). Nitrates are still sky high. I'm reluctant to change much more water since it's now approaching 50% in 3 days. <Not clear to me here... what is approaching fifty percent?> If we go out and buy lots of cured LR, won't a lot of that die in the transition and make matters worse? <Some die off, but likely no problem.> Then, we REALLY need a protein skimmer, right? Even, then, isn't that too traumatic? <Do you not have a skimmer currently? You very likely would/will benefit from ones use> In answer to your light question, our light is 4x20 watts (2 actinic, 2 full spectrum). Can LR survive OK on that? <Yes> We planned to be fish only (except our hermit and cleaner shrimp). It gets hot and we did not want to go metal halide/chiller. <Do try at least "some" live rock... you will not be disappointed I assure you> I can't seem to find a place that sells macroalgae. Where do you get that stuff. I've been hearing about some Caulerpa ban??? Regardless, I'm sure our little tang would love to snack on it. <Do check with the e-tailers posted on the WWM Links Pages> You just can't win. Sorry to always be so discouraged. Even if our system crashes, it has be 8 months of happiness (in between the crises). Thanks, Allyson <Ah my friend. You are on the brink of clarity. Do keep your eyes on the prize and study. Bob Fenner>

Reefing Hi Bob and experts, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Today I have two questions to ask. 1) Do the corals that we newly brought need to blow off the sand, or debris from the coral rock before we put in the main tank ? <rinsing in an acclimation bucket would be nice. It is critical though at all times/stages that detritus and sediment NEVER be allowed to settle on any coral that does not receive it naturally. And when in doubt, assume it needs to be removed. Sediment on many coral is theorized to dramatically reduce the already precarious level of oxygen in the micro layer of water surrounding all coral. If that layer is suffocated by poor water flow in an aquarium or shipping vessel... or is sediment lies atop too long... then local anoxia can quickly cause tissue death/necrosis. There is also concern for a rapid development of biotic activity (bacteria... even mostly non-pathogenic ones) which consume oxygen and can mitigate the situation> 2) I intending to purchase more algae for my refugium, what are the pro and con having lots of algae in a tank :? <I just don't know where to begin with this question. It really depends on the scope of your tank and the purpose of the system (coral growth, display, actual coral farming/fragging...etc). Still... I personally see far more harm then good from Caulerpas. I prefer Seagrasses and calcareous Algaes (like Halimeda). If you will try Caulerpa... fertilize and harvest it VERY systematically... else you will be a slave to the threat of it going vegetative and causing serious problems n the system. Also sheds noxious compounds that impede coral growth especially in systems with poor/no skimming, lack of chemical media etc. A really complicated dynamic.> Thanks, Regard Danny
<kindly, Anthony>

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