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FAQs on Controlling Filamentous ("Hair")Marine Green Algae 2

Related FAQs: Hair (Filamentous, Attached) Algae 1, Green Hair Algae 3, Green Hair Algae 4, & Green Algae Control 1, Green Algae Control 2, Green Algae Control 3, Green Algae Control 4, Green algae Control 5, Green Algae Control 6, Green Algae Control 7, & By Group: Bryopsis & Derbesia, Bubble Algae (Boergesenia, Dictyosphaeria, Valonia...), Caulerpa Compatibility/Control, Chaetomorpha, Halimeda, Neomeris, Hair (Filamentous, Attached) Algae, Green Water  (Planktonic) Algae Blooms, & Algae ControlMarine Algicide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; CaulerpasControlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Brown/Diatom Algae

Related Articles: Embracing Biodiversity, Green Algae By Mark E. Evans, Algae Control, Caulerpa Algae, 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

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Nitrate/ hair algae  9/27/07 Hey Crew, <Hey!> Long time reader first time writer. my tank is 75 drilled, 30 gallon sump, 125 lbs live rock, 3" sand bed, CoralLife 125 super skimmer,2x 150 watt 10k MH + 2x 54 watt 20k blue actinic t5 + 2x 54 watt 14k daylight, cascade 1500 canister filter filled with poly fill only. for motion extra motion in tank I have a Hagen pro 420 power head 360gph the main return pump is Rio 17hf, I have approximately 35 lbs of live rock in sump, along with 1" refugium mud and 1/2 lb various Caulerpas growing; lots of amphipods and copepods, calcareous sponges all your typical fuge creatures. for live stock I have 1 lawnmower blenny, 1 fuzzy dwarf lion , 1 Fiji blue devil damsel, 1 yellow Chromis, 1 bullet goby, 1 Sixline wrasse, 1 nine inch leather toadstool coral, 1 aprox 8 inches across frogspawn coral, one 6 inch Tridacna crocea, 4 sand sifting stars, 1 pair of breeding coral banded shrimp, 2 black brittle stars, Nerite, Nassarius, Trochus, Astrea snails between 1- 20 of each plus whatever is breeding i have baby snails from time to time. i think that covers it. I have been doing 5 gallon water changes on Tuesdays and Thursdays I use only distilled water that i treat with ph 8.2 and once a week purple up. <5g water changes twice a week on a system as big as say, 90g total water volumes is not enough. Work for water changes in the range of 25% to increase nutrient export and to replace trace elements, and stability.> salinity i keep @ 1.023.<1.025 is better for micro faunas and is more like Natural Seawater Levels.> water tests consistently show as follows calcium 450ppm, ammonia 0-.01,nitrite 0-.05, phosphate typically between 0,0.25- and .05ppm, most of these are moderately acceptable no? <NO. Phosphate levels should be maintained below .02ppm and better if they are not detectable on a hobby test kit. The use of a phosphate resin is advised. Remember to change the resin every 30 days if iron based.> but my dark nemesis is nitrate It has gone from 2.0 to 50+ ppm I have my lights on timers. the fuge I was keeping on when the main tank was dark now after tip from a reef guru I will try keeping fuge lights on 24/7to keep the plants going nonstop. the problem with this tank and my nano (same test results same problems) is the hair algae and nitrates I feed once a week to ten days PhytoPlex, frozen red Cyclop-eeze TM, and for fish and inverts frozen Mysis the occasional fresh clam or raw shrimp . the nitrates and the hair algae. what am I doing wrong please help. I know your the crew to go to. thank you for all you guys do. respectfully, Dan <Dan, the feeding is not the problem, per se. The real problem is the source water may contain nutrients that you are continually adding to the system. You also didn't mention if a strong protein skimmer is being used. For now, increase water changes and add Kalkwasser to your Evap replacement water. This will help to precipitate phosphates. I personally use a quality Activated Carbon and a phosphate resin on all my SW systems. Try to find RO/DI water or possibly purchase a unit. This will also help. Finally, the nitrates are a little high at 50ppm but that is not really bad. Maintaining this level at zero would be yet another benefit to strive for. I would think thru larger water changes with quality source water(0 TDS) and some resins the tank will really come around.-Rich aka Mr. Firemouth>

Hair Algae killing all good algae. Hair Algae, Phosphates 9/6/07 Hi WWM, <Hello> I have a big hair algae problem, my rocks are completely covered in hair algae and I can't see any good algae for my tangs and my blenny has gotten really skinny. I have tried siphoning it out of the tank, I have tried water changes, but 1 day after I clean the tank it grows all over everything again. <Water changes and siphoning are not immediate fixes, take time and dedication to work.> There are also all the bubbles in the algae which cover the rocks. But its not bubble algae, they are just bubbles stuck to the algae. <Gases released by the algae mostly, O2 most likely.> My phosphate is a little bit high and this is probably the cause.<Almost assuredly.> I used to have a snowflake eel and I never had hair algae with him in there, my nitrates were always >30 and I used to do a 20% water change every week to keep it down. Now I do water changes every three weeks because of less pollution, but I think the weekly water changes kept the hair algae away. <Agreed> My Lawnmower Blenny does not eat the hair algae and my yellow tang, convict tang or blue tang don't eat it either. <Hope this is a big tank to house 3 tangs.> My water parameters are: <10 Nitrate, 0 Nitrite, 0 Ammonia, .50 Phosphate (a bit high), <Very high, people often see problems even when test kits read 0, .5 is very very high.> pH 8.2, Calcium 350-420. If you could tell me a way to get good algae back in my system, I would really appreciate it, my Blenny really needs it. Thank you, Maison <You need to figure out what the source of the phosphates are and eliminate it. The hair algae will out-compete the macroalgae you desire, so until it is under control getting macros to grow will be difficult.> <Chris> 

Hair algae problems!!! -- 08/17/07 Hey all.... <Justin> I have been battling a hair algae problem for some time now. It has really started to get to my patience level. Even to the point of giving up my tank!!! <Mmm, only so many inputs, outputs to consider...> Anyhow....here is the skinny. I have had my tank up and running for over a year. <Ahhh! One... see WWM re augmenting, replacing part of the LR, substrate... > Within the last three months I have had a bad hair algae problem that I cannot contain. All of my levels are within normal ranges, <Might be being adjusted by the algae...> my lighting is new, water temp never changes because of a chiller and I have taken every piece of live rock out of my system at once and cleaned them and then put them back into the tank. Still it comes back. I was told to try Algone <I would not> and still is grows. I was told to try a tuxedo urchin and sea hare's, but still it grows. <The conditions allowing/fostering "it" haven't changed...> The newest thing that I was told to do was to try adding Ammonium Nitrate as the LFS thinks my water is too lean. Whatever that means. Any ideas? I have read the stuff on your website about it, but I can't seem to find out an answer of what works. Here is the breakdown of my system. 120 gallon with refugium and sump system. 2X250W metal HQI halide system from CoraLife=692 total watts of light CoraLife chiller Euroreef skimmer PH:8.2 temp: 80 degrees Ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 0 Phosphate: 0.1 Magnesium:1350 Calcium: 410ish Carbonate Hardness: 10dkh I do water changes every week to two weeks and I perform a 15% to 20% water change each time. The micron filter bags get changed each time that I perform a water change as well. Thanks again for your input. One more thing....over the months I have lost a lot of blue and red hermit crabs. If I buy a bunch more, would that help out? Thanks, Justin Wayne <I would go the competition and bio-nutrient limitation route... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Green Hair Algae...what else can I do? 8/16/07 Hey crew! <Hello> I need some help with a relentless case of hair algae. I've got a 55 gal with a clownfish, firefish and a goby, 80 lbs of live rock and a couple of emerald crabs. I've been doing 12 gal water changes 2x/week for weeks now. Water parameters all read 0, including phosphate. <Have you tested your source water?> I use RO/DI water mixed with Instant Ocean salt. I use a protein skimmer constantly and clean every other day. I use carbon in between the filter pads in my sump and I change them and the carbon weekly. The live rock was covered something horrible but I took it all out and scrubbed it off but it's growing back again. I feed the animals brine shrimp. I now rinse the shrimp, could the algae have been a result of not rinsing, I just drained it before? <Stay away from brine, very little nutritional value, try Mysid or a good quality pellet.> I don't know what else to do...I'm getting a brown film/algae growing on the glass almost daily that I scrap off and use a turkey baster to siphon out. I have 3 powerheads in the tank and great circulation. I've read Scott F's article on algae and followed it to the letter for 2 months now and I still can't make a dent in this...what else am I missing? Thanks! Jennifer <Step up your attempts to remove the algae manually, by doing this you are both removing the eyesore and the fuel that drives it's growth. Try cutting your feeding in half as well, this is also a common source of problems. Poly-filters may help some as well, they are quite good at removing phosphates and other organic material. I am guessing that your source water is the ultimate cause here, test it before adding it to your tank and see what the readings are, once it is in the tank the algae will use the phosphates up before your can test for them. Just for fun also test your water change water after adding the salt, I have never had a problem with IO but have heard that people get phosphate reading after adding it, and while I don't put too much stock in this it may be worth testing for.> <Chris>
Re: Green Hair Algae...what else can I do? 8/17/07
Hi Chris, <Hello> Thanks for your response. <Welcome> I incorrectly told you brine when I meant Mysis shrimp. <Ah, much better.> I was feeding 2/day, but I've cut it down to once. I do have a PolyFilter in the sump as well. Should I increase the water changes? I've tested prior to adding salt, I'll test after. <Worth checking out, although I doubt you will see a problem here, and 2X a week water changes is plenty. And just to be clear the Ploy-Filter I am referring to is chemically absorbent, not just the polyester filter material available for sale.> I bought the RO system about a month ago, prior to that I bought water at the LFS, who used a RO. <This very well may be your problem, often the LFS' RO is not properly maintained and may have fueled the algae growth.> I've also used bottled purified water which I tested. Where did I go wrong? <I bet you see an improvement now that you are using your own RO water.> I'll keep up on manually removing it from the rocks. Also, in the FAQs I've read that you should try to get the calcium levels up to get rid of green hair, does that sound accurate to you? I've was adding calcium (Seachem) but stopped because I thought it might contribute to the hair algae. <Will help establish Coralline algae to compete with the hair algae.> Thanks again for your help! Jennifer <Welcome> <Chris>
Re: Green Hair Algae...what else can I do? - 8/17/07
Chris, I've tested all water sources for phosphate before adding salt and they always tested 0. Maybe I need to get a new test kit. I'll keep up on the water changes and scrubbing rocks, power heads and glass. Thanks for your help...it's much appreciated!! Jennifer <Very good, I would guess the RO from the fish shop was the source, now that it is no longer in use I think you will start to see improvements.> <Chris>

Green hair algae  11/16/06 Hello, I have a 75 gallon tank with live rock, three blue hippo tangs, <Will need more room...> an ocellaris clown, a three stripe damsel, an orange spotted blenny, a maculosus angel, <... needs much more room> a cleaner shrimp and some snails and crabs.  I have been dealing with hair algae for a few months now.  I recently sold two of the blue tangs and the angelfish. <Oh... good> I realize my aquarium was overstocked.  I perform a 15% water change every week with RO water.    My test readings have been progressively decreasing - Nitrates - 30ppm, phosphates - 1ppm.   <Mmm, still too high for these> I have an Eheim wet/dry filter, <Like the company, but not this product... See WWM re>   aqua c remora pro, two actinic bulbs, two daylight bulbs - 3 watts per gallon.    I've been told to purchase a sea hare to eat the algae.    <Mmm, might help, though not a for-sure thing... will pick/choose the species it wants to eat, reject most all> My question is should a 10-12 hour light cycle be reduced to avoid algae growth. <Not generally a good avenue to take... that is, not usually effective... Need to address root cause/s... like excess nutrient availability (which you have), a lack of use by organisms you want, export mechanisms... all covered on WWM> It is currently on for 5-6 hours per day.  I'm afraid increasing the photo period will increase the algae growth.  My goal is to have an adequate water quality to start adding some soft corals without nuisance algae.  I greatly appreciate your advice. Thank you, Michael <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm and the linked files there... till you understand your situation a bit better, your options... I strongly encourage you to consider changing your filtration, perhaps adding a sump/refugium... a DSB, lighting there... Bob Fenner>

Tips for combating green hair algae  -- 4/15/07 Hey crew -- <Hi Chris, Jorie here.> Hope this e-mail finds you in good spirits. <Indeed- you as well.> I will keep my question as short and sweet as possible. I have a 125 gal. reef with a 45 gal fuge. I am having a major problem with green hair algae. Due to a Niger trigger and a flame Hawkfish, I am limited to the cleaners I can put into the tank. My nitrates are at 0, phosphates at 0 and I am running 750W of 15K MH for 8 hours per day. This algae is driving me crazy and starting to take over some of my corals. I have done lots of reading on this subject and aside from breaking my 4 ½ year old reef down and using R.O. water to possibly remedy this problem; I am desperate and in need of some advice, PLEASE. Are there any algicides that really work and do you recommend them? <I do not recommend using any chemicals to rid a tank of algae. In fact, I am not a believer in adding things to a tank to rid it of others.  Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but I honestly believe that good husbandry (in the form of regular and sufficient water changes, feeding sparingly, not overstocking, etc.) is th best way to combat algae.  Of course, not over lighting a tank and keeping phosphates as low as possible are other essential elements to algae control.  Your lighting setup does not seem excessive, and your tank has been established for quite some time (otherwise I might suggest a normal "algal bloom").  What and how often do you feed this tank? Here's a helpful article on "pest" algae control: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm> I am only having this problem in the main show tank, not in the fuge, if this means anything. <Not uncommon, especially if you have a lesser-amount of lighting over the fuge.> I have tried taking the 'infected' areas out, scrubbing off the algae with a tooth brush and the rock with corals I use tweezers to remove the algae only to have it grown back as dense as before a week later. <We face the same battle in our 46 gal. SW tank - it is frustrating.> Please help, I'm getting very discouraged here and don't know what to do.  I perform a 10% water change weekly with tap water (which I do test also, it does contain very small traces of nitrates and 0 phosphates). I check all my water parameters weekly, everything is in check. I put Denitrate in two weeks ago to get my nitrates to 0; they were running 15-20 PPM prior. <I am not familiar with "Denitrate", but would recommend simply increasing water changes to rid the tank of nitrates. Excess nitrates could be contributing to your algal bloom issues as well; try doing twice weekly water changes for a bit and see if this helps.> Do I just need to give it time to starve itself out? <As mentioned above, the factors that need to be considered include overabundance of nutrients (you don't mention anything about feeding; do be sure you are only feeding what the fish can consume in 3-5 minutes, usually no more than twice per day. Depending on whether or not you have any "difficult" species of fish, with regards to feeding requirements, you may be able to get away with feeding only once per day. This will help reduce the amount of nutrients available to the algae. Also, I recommend trying an additional filter media called "PolyFilter". It is by no means a "cure all", but does aid in removing excess nutrients and toxins from the water. See here: http://www.poly-bio-marine.com/polyprod.htm Third, you don't mention the kind/amount of circulation going on in this tank; if possible, add another powerhead or two, to increase circulation. With regard to your lighting, you briefly mention "corals", and talk about your metal halides, so I presume you do have some higher light requirement livestock.  If not, then consider decreasing light. Also, a "siesta" period can work wonders on combating algae - generally, higher order corals and such will not suffer from an hour or two break from lighting during the day, whereas algae, being a very simplistic organism, most certainly will. Finally, I do recommend switching from tap water to RO/DI water. We saw an enormous improvement in algae in all of our tanks once we did this.  www.airwaterice.com has a very nice, reasonably-priced unit called "Typhoon III" that I recommend.> Thanks in advance, Chris <Hope I've helped. Successfully battling algae requires patience and a variety of techniques; there is no one true "miracle cure", but rather good husbandry, etc. all contribute to a limited amount of pest algae. Best of luck, Jorie>
Re: Tips for combating green hair algae PART 2
- 04/17/07 Thank you for your quick reply Jorie. <Sure!> Hopefully I can answer some if not all of your questions. I did cut my light period back an hour already (FYI). DeNitrate is a chemical media made by Seachem. <I've Googled it - know I see that it's a sort of filter media. I thought that it was some sort of liquid nitrate remover, and I was suggesting that you skip that step and increase water changes instead...> I didn't mention that I am running 3 protein skimmers as well. <WOW! Better too much than too little, in this regard, eh?> I feed my fish twice per day very sparingly; in the morning I give them some pellets and flake food and I put 2 small sheets of green marine algae for my tangs; at night I feed them a variety of frozen brine, mysis, and marine cuisine all made by Sally's. <Excellent. For what it's worth, I much prefer Hikari frozen products to Sally's, as I've found there's less "debris" - for example, when I thaw a cube of Sally's bloodworms, there's inevitably a whole bunch of dead, black ones; with Hikari, I virtually never  see  that.  You may account for that by straining the food after it's been thawed (I'm too lazy to do that!), but in case you don't, you may be adding excess nutrients to the tank load that the fish aren't consuming, thus adding a bit to the algae problem.  Just a thought.> As far as circulation goes, I have a Mag12 (1200GPH) for my return in the sump with 2 directional output nozzles at each end of the tank; 2 - 300 GPH power heads with rotating deflectors on them; and a RIO 650GPH in the center. <Sounds good.> Lastly, I do use a micron filter pad in addition to a more course pad if you will in the sump which I change daily. <OK.> You mentioned doing more water changes to bring my nitrates down, the DeNitrate brought my Nitrates to 0 in about 4 days. I still do 10% weekly. I wasn't quite sure why you said to do more water changes? <Hopefully  explained above.  What I can say that an additional water change would have brought the nitrates down immediately, as opposed to over a course of days... In any case, I do believe that RO/DI water is your best course of action - I really don't see too much else creating problems, as your entire setup is very well thought out. I know that's not what you wanted to hear, but that is my opinion:-) Do look at www.airwaterice.com - those are the best prices on quality equipment that you'll likely find. A bit of an investment, in any case, but I promise you you will not be disappointed! Best of luck, Jorie> Thanks - Chris
Re: Tips for combating green hair algae PART 3   4/21/07
Hi guys, <Jor> This question has gotten to the point of being over my head - can someone answer Chris' question about whether or not corals can tolerate a "siesta" period re: lighting, for purposes of combating hair algae? This is one of my favorite solutions for FW plants, but I don't know about SW corals... Thanks! Jorie <Hotay! BobF> Re: Tips for combating green hair algae PART 3 Thanks again for your quick reply: One more very important question, can my high light loving corals survive a 2 day blackout (in your opinion)? <Can... if in initially good health (there are times, meteorological events in the wild where these sorts of black outs occur naturally... But there are better approaches to such control> My wife will leave me if I spend anymore money on this tank! The highest light lovers I can think of would be the following: -Bubble coral -Hammer Coral -SPS different varieties -Montipora (green and orange) -Pink birdsnest coral (this one is covered bad and very hard to clean, not sure how long he will make it) -Green star polyps (not a light lover as much but really covered with algae) -LT anemone <... I would remove this last... not compatible with these other cnidarians... and "an accident waiting to happen"... one day> I am at a point where I'm feeling like I don't have much to lose here. <You are wrong here...> Thanks again and I appreciate your opinion - Chris <You have read re Algae and their control on WWM? Please see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm Scroll down... Bob Fenner>

Green Hair Algae control options.  4/14/07 My current sent up is about 8 months old. My main display tank has 260 liters water after displacement, 4 inch deep sand bed of 1' 2 mm marble chips, <Mmm, do see WWM re better substrate choices> concrete rocks (no live rock in New Zealand), and corner overflow via Durso stand pipe into a 100 liter water sump. Sump is partitioned with two sets of baffles and contains 3 liters of sintered glass beads, <Good product> Merlin Fluidized bed filter, 3000 liter hour return pump. Display tanks has a 6000 liter/hour Tunze Turbelle pump, Deltec MCE 600 hang on Protein skimmer (300 liters air per hour, thick dark skim produced), Ratz Sulphur reactor attached to an IKS dosing pump, 250 watt Giesemann 14,000 metal halide light 10 hours a day. There are two blue chromis, two clown fish, one damsel, two cleaner shrimp, and one fire shrimp. I feed flaked and dry fish food three times a day, all consumed in less than one minute. One torch coral, one pineapple coral, one folded brain coral, one bubble coral, one large Xenia, one open brain coral and one pipe coral, one blue 4 cm Tridacnid Maxima clam and one feather duster, all growing. I do light supplemental feeding with 10 ml.s RedSea CoralGro Reef Success supplement 5 times a week. This is less than recommended on bottle. There is some early coralline algae and green hair algae covering the concrete, walls and even covers the red macro algae in the tank. Surface gravel cleaned five days a week with gravel siphon attached to 850 L/hour circulation pump with filter floss in siphon to convert this to a vacuum cleaner. (This works better than the Eheim sludge extractor which clogs too easily) I have removed the concrete rocks once a month the last three months to scrub them down in salt water (to preserve the tube worms and some coralline algae that are on the concrete). The water volume of sump (100 liters) replaced every 4' 6 weeks (premixed and circulated 5 days before). Sump is drained and washed in salt water to get rid of any accumulated trapped detritus. Top up water prepared through a four chamber ion exchange resin unit. Calcium supplied as CaOH slurry at night and alkalinity maintained with Reef Builder Supplement. Water parameters are pH 8.3, SG 1.023, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, phosphates, silica levels ZERO, calcium 380, alk 4 Mg 1200 using Salifert test kits. Still there is a hair algae problem. I do not want to continue to dismantle my tank on a monthly basis for a scrub down. The reason may be that the corals are still small 6' 15 cm in diameter, so there is not a lot of coral mass to compete with hair algae, and a lot of bare concrete (see picture). There may be too much DOC in the water that the algae take up before it registers on a test kit. My options *as I see them¦ Continue to push the pH up a bit more with Ca OH to 8.5 to precipitate out any residual phosphate and aid in saponification. <Worth trying...> Get more compatible corals (more algae competition, but more to dismantle with concrete scrubbing if it does not work) <Mmm...> Get a large clam (a living filter) <Not really a good option> Add ozone to the protein skimmer (expensive and care need to be taken with implementation) <Worthwhile> Install a large vegetable filter refugium to out compete the hair algae (low wife acceptance factor) <Yes! I would do this... along with switching out your substrate... OR adding another more soluble one in the added veg. filter here... that I might term a refugium... with a DSB, lighting... this WILL do "it"> Add another protein skimmer like the Tunze models into the first sump chamber that collects the overflow water. This could add another 150' 300 litre air per hour to strip out even more out of the water to starve the algae. This may also strip out other micronutrients that corals and clams need. Can you get back to me on my current problem, and line of thought? <Can, will, am. I see that you have a very nice collection of gear, and a good grasp of what is current knowledge and practices in the reef interest... If it were me/mine, I'd add a bit more biologically here, not so much more technology. Bob Fenner> All the Best from New Zealand...Mike Lomb

Saltwater Algae Woes  4/14/07 Hello WWM Crew, <Drew> You all provide such an awesome service, as I don't know where I would turn otherwise. Thanks so much for your ongoing help over the years!! <Welcome!> For about a year now, my 18 month old 90 gal bowfront has been continuously plagued by green hair/thread algae, which tries to grow on just about everything in the tank.  It's absolutely unsightly.  Over the last 6-12 months, I've taken the following steps to try and combat it: - upgraded skimmer to an EV-180 - bumped bi-weekly water changes from 15 to 30 gals - switched from IO to Reef Crystals - more frequent changing of 4 stage RO cartridges - added additional flow with a Tunze 6000 + 7091 controller - lightly stocked - 1 tomato clown, 1 yellow tang, few snails, no coral / inverts - light feeding, 3x-4x weekly, Nori put out for tang <All good...> Things improved a little after doing two large 75 gal water changes and removing all rock and scrubbing it down.  However, I'm starting to see this algae reappear and I'm going crazy.  I have seen an improvement after switching to Reef Crystals, which I know probably wasn't necessary, but tried anyway.  I've seen much more coralline growing, especially on the walls and rock. However, the thread algae moves right back in again and ruins the look.  I do plan on adding a few smaller fish in the future, perhaps Gramma or goby or two, but small stuff.  I'd like to get the algae problem fixed before adding additional livestock.   At this time, I plan on maintaining this as a FOWLR tank, but coral could be in the far future.  Do you have any last minute recommendations before I lose my sanity? <All sorts... the best... to read, consider re installing a refugium, with DSB, macroalgae...:   http://wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm Then the FAQs on Rationale/Use... then on to Designs...> Additionally, my Ca levels have always been a bit low, on the 280-300 side. While not ideal, I've been under the impression that this wouldn't cause any great pains. <Mmm, actually... need to be balanced with other aspects of chemistry/physics... per the biota, your driving same with feeding, lighting...> I've been periodically dosing Kalk at night via the drip method to keep things in check, but this gets to be a pain after a while.  I considered a calcium reactor, but I really don't have room for it and thought it'd be overkill for my setup. <Mmm, the fuge, DSB... would solve a good deal of this...> Any advice you can provide, I'd be greatly appreciative.  I'm usually good at reading all the forums and opinions and deciding a course of action for myself, but this time I'm at a loss. <Just temporarily... Give the starting link a go above... and cogitate furiously> Thanks again for all your help and generous advice. - drew <A pleasure to share. Bob Fenner> ************************************************* Tank Specs 90 gal bowfront (approx 48" W x 15" D x 28" H) 30 gal Berlin sump, Mag 9.5 return <Convert or add to...> 75 lbs Walt Smith Rock 1/2 " sugar-size aragonite EV-180 w/ Mag 12 Tunze 6000 + 7091 2x Maxijet 1200's 2x65W Actinic, 2x65W 10k - approx 12 hrs per day pH = 8.15 - 8.2 sg = 1.023 temp = 79-80 ammonia = 0 nitrite = 0 nitrate = <5 alk = 4 meq/l phosphate = 0 ca = 300 <Do check on your Magnesium...>

Hair Algae from Hades, Redux. Algae Control 4/4/07 WWM Crew, et. al. : <Shannon.> You've been helpful in the past three years with my algae questions, and I ask one more. I have a 4 year old reef, 135 gallons, lightly stocked with fish ( 1 "Dory" Hippo Tang, 2 Tomato Clowns, a mated pair of regular ( read : cheap ) Firefish, 1 standard issue Lawnmower Blenny, and 1 Six Line Wrasse, with inverts focused on mainly LPS and softies, with a few SPS that sprung out of the Fiji LR situated near the top of the tank, free of charge. I also have a lucky pair of mated Peppermint Shrimp, a large black long spined urchin with amazingly painful spines, and a handful of other benign critters that have sprung out of LR now and then, including 3 baby ( for now ) rock boring urchins. I have a 4" DSB of 90% sugar aragonite and the rest (the top layer) made up of crushed seashells and gravel sized crushed coral. Salinity is 1.025 and all measurements of nitrogen-based stuff has been 0 since cycling ended. Phosphates are 0, using a Salifert kit. Temp ranges from 76 in winter to 86 in summer, with the delta between the extremes taking weeks during season changes. Water changes are 3 - 4 times per month, 25 gallons each time with RO/DI water and SeaChem Reef Salt ( out of total system volume of about 200 gallons. ) Skimmer is an AquaC, with outlet going over carbon/PolyFilter basket. Additives are only 2-part calcium/alkalinity from AquaC. Here's the problem : I have a hair algae problem, which was made worse by the following changes in the last three months: Lighting - Before : 6 54-watt T5s, 3 full spectrum 6500K GEs, and 3 actinic blues @ 420 nm. Photoperiod was 12 hours for daylights, 14 hours for actinic. After : 2 full spectrum 6500K GEs, 4 actinic blues. Photoperiod is now 11 hours for full spectrum, 10 hours for actinic. <Your problem lies here in decreasing the intensity.  Nuisance algae thrives much better in lower lighting conditions.  Do not understand why you did this, especially with SPS sprouting up as you mention.> Food : Before : Twice daily fish feedings, 2-3 times a week corals (Cyclop-Eeze, spray dried phyto, pureed meaty foods like brine shrimp, squid.) After : Once daily fish feedings, 2-3 times a month corals (same ingredients.) <A much better feeding schedule for the corals.  I'd stay with the Cyclop-Eeze and eliminate the pureed stuff, just adds to the nutrient problem.> Chemical : Before : 300 mgs Ozone run 1 hour every day through skimmer. After : no ozone. <Any idea what the ORP level was, before and after?> Fuge - Before : None. After : 10 - gallon with 5 lbs of LR, 4 inch DSB, green grape Caulerpa algae, some weird red hair algae, and Chaeto Brillo, all lit by incidental light from main tank lighting, above. <I'd use a dedicated light for this refugium.> I believe there is no smoking gun but a gradual increase in the amount of available nutrients not absorbed by the system or fuge, and not removed by water changes, skimming, fuging, or chemical filtration. <I believe the change in light intensity is the major issue here.  Your reduction in coral feeding will help in this regard.  Do not expect overnight changes to take place. Read here and related articles above for more help on algae control.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm> So my question is : Uhm, help ? <James (Salty Dog)> SLC
Re:  Algae Control 4/7/07
James : Thanks for the reply. As for as your question, "why did I reduce the light intensity", well it was in the hope of nuking the hair algae, <Will actually make it worse.> at the expense of the Fiji out-sprung SPS. By intensity do you mean the color (6500K ... actinic blue ), the duration in hours per day, or the wattage? <The light intensity, referring to wattage, lux, not color temperature.> Forgive my ignorance, but I thought that nuisance algae loves as much light as it can get, especially in the lower frequency ranges (reddish, greenish). By shifting my total color spectrum more to blue, and reducing the hours on per day, I thought I was giving the nasty algaes less usable light. <Nuisance algae does thrive better in lower Kelvin temperatures, but also requires a food source such as dissolved nutrients.  Lowering nutrient levels should be your target along with getting the light intensity back up.> You've indicated otherwise. << Your reduction in coral feeding will help in this regard.  Do not expect overnight changes to take place. >> Understood, and agreed. I've never noticed any difference in my coral's health due to feeding or not feeding, targeted or otherwise ... But light and Calcium/Carbonate, definitely so. <With proper light intensity, most corals produce much of their own food and a small weekly feeding is all that is necessary.  Some folks do not feed at all and have good success.> <<I'd use a dedicated light for this refugium.>> Done! I put a 9/9 watt 10000K/Actinic CF over the 'fuge, on when the main lights are off. <Much has been said about toggling refugium lights with tank lights, but personally, I prefer to run both lights during the same photoperiod.>   Maybe it's time to get one of those fake plastic fish tanks with the bobbing fake plastic fish ? <Ahh, would be much easier, yes?  There is much to learn about this hobby and the more you read/learn, the greater your success level will be.> Thanks for any further advice - <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Cheers, SLC

Hair algae invasion - 3/17/07 Hi Alex! <Hi Michael and Dianne!> Just wanted you to know we have returned our LTA to the LFS. <Good for you.> On the agenda tomorrow is removing all the rock from our 120, scrubbing it with a toothbrush and returning it to the tank in a new configuration. <Have fun!  Keep in mind, it is good to have a bucket of tank water to rinse the rocks in.  You want to avoid disturbing any of the life on the rock except the algae.  Knock off the algae, rinse in tank water and keep submerged as much as possible.> We will keep the Foxface in a five-gallon bucket during this process .... don't want to have to take a break for the emergency room! Thanks again for all your help. We'll keep you posted. <Good luck.> Michael and Dianne
Re: Hair Algae Invasion, Continued - 3/17/07   3/21/07
Alex: <Hi, y'all> We did it. Cleaning the hair algae out of our 120-gallon tank took almost five hours.  But it's done. The stink was incredible and the amount of algae we removed amazing.   We also rearranged the rock...the tank looks much better now and there is more room for the fish to swim. And, it's much brighter. <Excellent! This should help in the long run.> We will have to wait and see when/if the algae comes back. HA! Of course it will come back! It can't be that "easy" to remove it. <That's the spirit!  Keep changing water and improve your skimming, and it should slow down.  This massive removal will definitely set it back.  Can have amazing results sometimes.> Our biggest surprise was when the actinic lights came on tonight...there is a ton of rock that glows pink and pale purple. <Neat!> All  that color was coated with algae and we have never seen it before. It was beautiful. There are also spots of deep red here and there. <Hopefully this coralline algae will be able to compete better now that it gets light.> Anyway, we wanted to let you know the outcome so far. We took some before-and-after photos ... if you're interested, we'll send them. <We would be glad to see photos.  Size them so they are under a couple of hundred kb, please.> Again, our thanks! Michael and Dianne <Best wishes, Alex>

Green Algae; crustacean breeding...death of other tankmates  3/5/07 Dear Bob <No Bob...Adam J with you tonight.> i <I> have found since i have had Green hair algae problems MY small  copepods and tiggerpods and other small Crustaceans are breeding more .. <Possibly due to the "safe-haven" algae provided micro-fauna...one of the reason's refugia is so useful.  Also there are likely nutrient problems, food for the algae and pods.> Want  some ? <No thanks.> My cleaner shrimp The blood red and the normal ones are also breeding more. <Interesting.> That's about it though its killing everything. <Umm...do you want help/advice with that?> Thank you for having your books and this site Tammy <Glad you are making use of it...**AJ**>

Re: Green Algae issues Re: Green hair Algae Useful YUPP LOL  3/5/07 AJ please I just tried the Kalk Trick and had to pull out <Okay if you have an algae problem it could be a few issues: nutrient problems. If it is a nutrient problem there could be a few factors causing this; source water, over-feeding, water changes, overstocked tank, lack of nutrient export (look into larger protein skimmers and macro-algae refugia)...see WWM re: nutrient export for more detail.  It could also be a water flow issue...as in lack there of. Lighting could also be an issue, poor/incorrect/bad spectrum...what type of lighting do you have, how old are they?> My fish Please, its been in there 6 months my roommate since he put in 2 mushrooms that I  think had the algae is now just a roommate I'm wanting to leave . <Okay, I'm going to help but I would like a few more details about your aquarium first, water chemistry, set-up. What is your water change regime?> I would love help reef tank is 250 Gallons , 2 Scio 1500 1 Eheim. <I would like to see more water flow, personally in this large of a tank.> Sorry my spelling is very bad i got shot in the head in 97 . <Ouch, I'm sorry to here that. The english correction is nothing personal it's just standard procedure for posting for public view.> light on 5-7 hrs a day and a pair of cheapo skimmers . NO sump or fuge yet   <Yes the water is near stagnant then in this large tank...this is a problem.> since my Over slow pump died on me last week and the Eheim needed replaced  it cracked near the cord . <Okay you need to get this fixed as soon as you can and also address the issues I mentioned above.> any advice and help . Tammy <Adam J.>

Thank you... Found! Source of air entrainment/bubbles, Not-Caulerpa control/biol.   2/23/07 Bob, thank you for the advice, I found out that the bulkhead to the return nozzle was the culprit for the air pouring into my tank! No more air!! <Ahh! Congrats!> I also found a way to manage the algae problem I mentioned in a previous email. It   turned out to not be Caulerpa, but I am guessing hair algae, I didn't know hair algae could be feathery in appearance, but the Trochus, and Nerite snails, along  with the red tip "equal handed" hermit crabs I added seem to be really doing the  trick working as a team on it, I stocked the tank sparsely with them so they  would have enough to eat and hopefully wont run completely out of food. I will  be putting 10 Nassarius snails in the tank soon also. The Trochus snails  are really going at the diatoms in the aquarium as well, I have been seeing a  lot more coralline on the rocks. The tank does have animals in it now, three  crocea clams, the smallest 2 are three inches, and the larger is 3.5 inches.  There is a yellow tang, about 4.5" in body length, a coral beauty that is  about 2.5 inches in body length, a mandarin dragonet, a large six line wrasse, a yasha haze (white ray) shrimp goby, a young Banggai cardinal  fish, and a group of squamipinnis Anthias 1 male, and 4 young females. I  also plan on getting a lineatus wrasse in a couple of  weeks. This is all in a 90 gallon reef, no corals yet, but it is looking to  be possible soon. The fish and clams have been in for almost a week now and no  signs of stress, illness, or anything to a negative effect. I check the water  every few days for calcium levels, dKH, PH, Nitrate, Nitrite, and  Ammonia, haven't had any readings on ammonia or nitrite since I set the  tank up, I cured all the live rock in dark vats before hand for 5 weeks with  vigorous water flow and protein skimming, and left lots of area for water flow  when I set up the aquascape. The readings have all been great, calcium just  above 420, dKH at a constant 12, PH at 8.3, Nitrates at 0, Phosphates  at 0. The temperature in the aquarium is 80 degrees F. around 12  PM to 8 or 9 PM then it slowly cools down later to no lower  than 76 degrees F. <Mmmm, would raise the settings on your heater/s to about 78 F.... four degrees in a day can be a bit much>   The tang still hasn't become fond of prepared  foods, but seems to prefer the algae growing in the aquarium, I feed the tank  small portions 3 times a day with Cyclop eeze, brine shrimp, krill, oyster eggs,  and blood worms. I use Kent's garlic extreme, and Selcon in their food. I also  use Kent's marine C. to boost their vitamin C. Thank you for your help, I really appreciate it, and my animals do too! Thanks again, Brian <Thank you for this follow-up, insights. Bob Fenner>

Re: Identify Friendly or Foe ??? Padina... now hair alg. contr.   2/16/07 Wow... thanks for the help... I would have had to research the corals an awful long time to find this brown algae in that area!!! Thanks again! <Welcome> Just a heads up, I have been using the info from your site since I started and it is great. I started a 40gal reef at home last march, and have now started a 130 gal reef at work. <Nice!> The boss spent a big chunk on it, so I am sure you will be hearing more from me.  Unless I can find some miracle for hair algae... <A large refugium... w/ DSB... macroalgae... time going by> well, some is hair some looks like Easter grass, anyway, my specs on this tank - I am proud of it... the boss has deeper pockets than I, so it was a joy putting together. Specs: 130 Gal rectangle 35 gal homemade sump/fuge - growing Gracilaria on reverse daylight protocol <Oh! Good> 72" Outer Orbit light 894watt  3 HQI@ 150watt, 4 actinic PC's at 96 watt Tradewind chiller Panworld Return Pump, pressure rated at 1750gph AquaC EV120 skimmer I estimate I am turning the tank about 12 times per hour.  Plus I have 2 pumps in the tank with rotating deflectors. Current Inhabitants: 1 Powder Blue Tang (4 ½") 1 Sailfin Tang (4") 1 purple Dartfish 1 Royal Gramma 3 Assorted Wrasses (3") 1 Six line wrasse (2") 2 Sailfin Blenny's (3") 4 Blue Green Chromis (1.25") 2 Scarlet Skunk Cleaner shrimp (2.5") 1 Blood Red Shrimp (1.5") 3 Kaudern's Cardinal Fish (1.5") (who haven't shown themselves in 2 weeks) An assortment of snails and crabs as cleanup crew. If you want to see any of it, I am keeping the info at http://www.mmrcsl.org/fish <Thanks> Now after putting you through all that... I have hair problem.  I didn't trust the quick dip strips from Wal-mart, so I ordered som tests from SeaChem as well. <Much better> The quick dip strips are actually accurate as the SeaChem tests report the same results Ammonia Free 0 Ammonia total .5 <... where is this coming from?> Nitrites 0 Nitrates 0 as of yesterday, I tested for phosphates which are 0 why does the hair algae still grow??? <It's likely absorbing all the phosphate... understand?> I want to get clams and corals, but am waiting in case I have to turn off the lighting and leave it off till the algae dies. <Mmm... likely adding these invertebrates will go a long way to correct the hair algae problem... and who wants to have the tank in the dark at work? I would go ahead with their addition> Thanks Again...  BTW, I have read much about the hair menace from your site and .... ya - MENACE DanH <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Hair algae, P. diadema, and Zoanthid rejuv. 1/25/06 Hello folks, <Deb, glad you could join us.> Thanks so much for all of the helpful information. <We *try* to be helpful!> In the next 6 months, I'm going to be upgrading this tank to between a 150g and 250g system.  At that point, I will make my 55g into the sump for the main tank.  I will either section part of this off for a refugium, or I've got a 20g that I can hook into the system as a refugium.  When I do this, my canister filter will go away, and I will be implementing a DSB in the main tank.  Until I can do this, I plan to continue weekly 20% changes (replacing one section canister filter media each time), continue aggressive skimming with the CPR BakPak, and continue to ensure that the current in the tank is strong. <Very glad to hear that you are moving beyond canister-filtration. You will be moving into a much more versatile/useful configuration.> At this point, my Cyano problem has seemed to cure itself.  In doing the weekly water changes, I found that the pump servicing my SQWD system was clogged.  This was inhibiting water flow significantly in the tank.  Now that I serviced it, there's a pretty strong current in the tank, which probably helped to eradicate the Cyano growing in the tank.   <Most likely, this helped a lot!> Also -- my Halimeda is making a comeback, though I still need to continue cleaning hair algae off of it every couple of days.  The bubble algae is still present in the tank, but somewhat manageable, as I can gently pull it out during water changes and dispose of it. <Are you sure you have bubble-algae? Sometimes, I think folks think BGA is bubble when it has gaseous packets in it's layers...> So, the only real problem in the tank is the hair algae.  It's still growing quite rapidly.  In trying to fix this problem, my bicolor blenny stopped eating and has "disappeared" in the tank.   <Maybe he needed a vacation. Heck, if I had to eat hair algae...> I'd like to pickup a lawnmower blenny to replace him and to help with the hair algae problem. <Remember, Deb: This is dealing with the symptoms of a water-quality issue. IIRC, your last phosphate test was .03ppm, and I was asking how sure you were of the accuracy of that result. Where do you stand now? Did you ever buy a new kit?> Once the hair algae is gone, I plan to supplement his feeding with various algae foods (as I already do for my Coral Beauty). <Should pose little problem with a little research...> Adding him will result in having the following fish in the tank:  1 coral beauty, 1 Dottyback (Pseudochromis diadema), 1 yellow-tail blue damsel and 1 lawnmower blenny.  Does this seem like a sound decision to add this fish? <As long as you aren't hoping for a total massacre on the hair algae, yes. In my experience, algae-eaters always choose to ignore the one thing you bought them to eradicate.> Otherwise, my zoanthids have stabilized a bit.  They're not dying off anymore, but they're not flourishing as they've been for the past few years.  Only a handful are opening up, and not fully at that.   <All this points to a water chem. issue to me.> I'm hoping that they are on the road to recovery.  I'm supplementing the daily feedings now with Cyclop-Eeze, in hopes that the added nutrients will encourage their growth.  I also use a plastic turkey baster to blow water over them with each water change to try to free them of the hair algae that grows around them. I've ordered new test kits for my phosphates, silicates and nitrates, and they should be arriving any day now.   <Ahh, very good. A reputable, reliable manufacturer, I hope. Mmm, one note: Silicates aren't a factor unless you have huge diatom blooms, so worrying about the concentrations is moot IMO. I don't own a silica test kit.> I've taken the water changes down to 1x per week, 20% using RO/DI water.  I've just gotten new cartridges in for the RO/DI unit and will be replacing them this week. I've also cut back my lighting schedule, taking 1.5 hours off the back end for both the daylight and actinic lighting. <Good steps, all.> In doing all of this work, I've realized that I haven't replenished my cleanup crew in years.  I've still got about 10-15 Astrea and turbo snails in the tank, but all of the small crustaceans are gone.  I'd like to replenish this crew, but am afraid that any crustaceans I add will be decimated by my Pseudochromis diadema.  Any ideas on what types of inverts I can get to replenish this crew that will survive the presence of the Pseudochromis diadema?  Having a well stocked cleanup crew may also help with the algae problems in the tank. <Hmm... I never worried about a P. diadema bothering hermits to the point of murder. Types and compatibility of hermits is not a strong-suit of mine, but I know we have the info here on WWM if you look for it.> So, to summarize: -Lawnmower blenny for this tank -- good or bad idea? <Good, in your case.> -Any ideas on how I can nurse my zoanthids back to health? <Provide optimum water conditions: temp, movement, quality, feeding, lighting spectrum/duration.> -Any ideas on how I can supplement my cleanup crew without buying an expensive smorgasbord for my Pseudochromis diadema? <Mmm... *I* don't see a problem with the "generic" red-legged hermits here. (RMF strike me down if I am in error)> Thank you so much for all of your help.   <Oh, Deb. You know we love you. -GrahamT> Deb

Hair Algae Control 1/22/07 Hello Crew! <Hello Lisa> After many water changes, hand cleaning live rock in a separate bucket, using anti-phosphate filter pads, and physically scooping out chunks of algae hair attached to crushed coral I am still battling this green hair devil.  It occurred to me today that my wet dry filter might be holding a lot of algae spores within the system and on the bio balls.  What are your thoughts on totally cleaning out the wet-dry including rinsing the bio balls in boiling hot water to kill of any spores hanging on.  Good or bad idea? <Lisa, algae requires light and food to propagate.  The light we must have, food for the algae can be controlled.  Lets start by reading here and linked files above.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> I am also slowly getting rid of my old crushed coral and replacing it with either new coral or sand (and how does one clean sand? Obviously I will no longer be able to use my "python" brand siphon/suction hose). <Yes, can be difficult but is best done with a smaller size gravel cleaner.  The trick here is to squeeze the tubing with you fingers to control the amount of sand being sucked up.  A little practice here will increase your proficiency at it.  Personally, I'd go with a larger size coral sand/gravel.  If you have no animals requiring a deep sand bed such as wrasses, etc, I'd keep my gravel depth no deeper than 1/2 inch.  This will help prevent nutrients from accumulating in the sand bed and make the cleaning process much easier.> While battling algae issues is it better to have crushed coral or sand substrate (or perhaps none, like a fish store?) <As above, I would use crushed coral.> Very confused on how to proceed next.  I would hate to do the wrong thing if you guys could prevent me from committing a big "no-no"! <Do read the link above and you will get a good idea of what has to be done to control nuisance algae.> Thanks ever so much, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Lisa

Hair Algae Problems 10/3/06 Hi <Hi> I have searched the net and forums and I cannot find an answer for my problem, all the suggestions are not helping. Please help. <Will try.> My problem is hair green algae and brown diatoms, my tank is now coming up to 1 yr old, I thought I had gone through the algae bloom stage but for the last few months it has flared up again, the green algae is out of control if I don't go in every other day it looks unsightly its really disheartening, even the shop have no answers for me all they say is its strange (no help there), I have put some sea urchins in but they are like bull dowsers (doing a good job but I don't want to keep them as they are to big) the hair green algae grows on my pumps, protein skimmer Juwel filter the glass every where, and now to top it off brown diatoms have started appearing what I don't understand is that if all my levels are correct what must I do? Can you help please as I am desperate now and I feel as though I am failing, any help will be appreciated. my set up: 60gallon tank, 14 pieces of live rock, arcadia lights 8 hours a day 3 maxi 1200 power heads so there is enough water flow my nitrates are never over 10, my phosphate is zero my alkalinity level is dKH 10 my ph 8.3 when lights go off, salinity 1.024 calcium 400 silicates zero I use r/o water <From store or own filter?> Rowa carbon Rowa phosphate external filter bio star protein skimmer takes roughly 1 cup a week out temp is 77 3 Mithrax crabs 10 red legged hermit crabs 12 turbo snails 2 cleaner shrimps 1 regal tang 1yellow tang 2 chalk goby 1 bicolour goby 2 clown fish 1 sand sifter 2 sea urchins 1 torch coral 5 gallon water change a week Thanks <May be a couple of areas to address.  How old are the RO/DI filters, they may need replacing.  Also, test your water change water for phosphate and nitrate, these may be used up by the algae in the tank leading to a false negative reading on the test kit.  Also you just have too much life in that tank, leading to excessive biological waste which leads to excess algae.  Two tangs are just way too much for a 60G tank.  Also in future queries please spell check before submitting, the amount of time needed to correct this before posting is excessive.> <Chris>

Selective Hair Algae Herbivore? - 01/03/06 Greetings Crew! <<Hello Greg!>> Hopefully 2007 finds you well and prosperous! <<Doing well so far...as for prosperous, hmmm...I guess time will tell...but thank you>> I do have a minor dilemma I hope you can help me solve. <<I shall be happy to try>> My refugium has begun to grow significant amounts of hair algae.  Although I have two 50-gallon refugiums, the lower refugium (bare-bottom, used for growing Chaetomorpha) is the refugium with the algae problem. <<Hmm...>> The upper 50g refugium has a 6" DSB, Chaetomorpha and feather Caulerpa. <<Ack!  I see/hear this a lot (mixing macro-alga), but prefer/recommend folks choose on or the other.  Not only do the alga fight/compete/release noxious compounds and expend energy re that could be better utilized, but the two have differing care requirements>> These 2 refugiums support a 180g display tank with 200# of LR, SPS and LPS corals as well as several tangs, small wrasses, maroon clown pair, mandarin, inverts, etc. <<I see>> Water parameters are as follows: Salinity=1.025, Temp=77F, pH=8.3, alk=5 meq/L, NH3=0, NO2=0, NO3=5 PPM, PO4<0.5PPM, <<This last may be your problem re the hair algae.  Try to get this below 0.02 and see if it helps (Poly-Filter and/or a Ferric Oxide media along with increased/more efficient skimming)>> Ca=380 PPM.  All water is provided via an R.O. unit.  A 6' airstone protein skimmer processes all overflow water from the main tank and a Red Sea Berlin skimmer is used to remove any remaining contaminants from the surface of the lower refugium. <<Are these skimmers performing efficiently?  Perhaps an upgrade is in order>> The larger skimmer produces approximately 1 cup of skimmate daily and the Berlin skimmer produces skimmate only if the larger skimmer has been out of adjustment or sometimes after feeding. <<Unfortunately this "measurement" is of little/dubious use (akin to "watts of light per gallon") as a system's capacity for producing skimmate is highly variable>> I would like to add some sort of herbivore to my lower refugium to control the hair algae issue. <<Mmm, also of dubious use in this instance as most any macro algae predator will also prey upon the beneficial organisms culturing in the refugium...even if this is only the epiphytic matter on the Chaetomorpha>> Since my purpose for the refugium is NNR and to provide a continuous supply of food for my mandarin and for the corals, I want to add a herbivore that would eat hair algae but would not disturb the 'pod population or eat the Chaetomorpha. <<Therein lies the rub...  About the only critter I could recommend that may "selectively" prey upon the hair algae would be a sea hare of the Family Aplysiidae.  If you go this route, do be sure to acquire tropical specimens (I believe Ocean Rider, Inc. sells viable eggs of a tropical species from Hawaii).  But my experience with sea hares, like most any organism obtained for algae control, has been highly variable>> I do have a flame angel I removed from my main tank for nipping at corals.  It is a terrific hair algae grazer but I suspect it would eat the Chaetomorpha as well. <<Possibly...but more likely it would make quick work of the copepods, amphipods, etc.>> I have added a few blue leg hermits but they are not making much of an impact. <<Overrated algae grazers...and much too opportunistic for my display tanks, let alone for addition to a refugium!>> I assume they would probably eventually eat the Chaetomorpha as well. <<Not before the "other" food options are exhausted I think>> Most options I can think of will probably eat 'pods or macro algae (lawnmower blenny, lettuce sea slug, Mexican turbo snails.). <<Agreed...though the lettuce sea slug would probably "just die">> What do you suggest? <<Other than already stated?...attacking the problem at its source.  Reduce the amount of measurable PO4...and if the funds are available, consider investing in a proven quality skimmer (Euro-Reef, AquaC, H&S, etc.)>> Thank you, in advance, for the help! --Greg <<Always a pleasure to assist.  Eric Russell>>

Hair Algae Problems Part II 10/4/06 Hi thanks for the speedy reply, my RO unit is only 3 months old, so the filters should be ok, I have tested the water there's no trace so must be working ok. <Probably> I have just come back from work and now I have noticed that the brown diatom is now going over all the rocks I just cant understand it? <Fueled by excess nutrients.> Also my urchins have cleared all the algae so there for the readings must be correct? <No necessarily.> But I know if I take the urchins out the hair green algae will start to reappear. <Indication that the core source is still there.> There is something being missed somewhere but with me only being new to this my knowledge is limited. <Please read http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm > Also my tangs are very small like all the other fish I was told by the shop these would be ok surely if I had to much biological waste my nitrates would be higher? <The tank is way to small for the tangs for anything but a very short time.  They are roamers and need lots of space.  Nitrates are being taken up by the nuisance algae.> (clutching at straws now) Help is very much appreciated Thanks <Time to get reading.  Try http://www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm for a start.> <Chris>

Green hair algae control  9/9/06 Hello There, <And you> I've spend quite a bit of time searching and reading your site.  There is quite a bit of information, but I thought I would toss my specific situation into the pot.  My marine tank was set up by a local service and is services bi-weekly.  The tank is as follows: Around 225 gallons - 40" tall, <Yikes... long arms only need apply!> 54" wide, 24" thick. Lighting - a pair of 400W metal halides, 8 hours/day. Fluorescent black light 10 hours per day. Sump w/ filter, protein skimmer, UV filter, chiller (temp 78 deg. F).  I don't know the details. <Water chemistry? Tests for?> The tank is also cooled by a fan and vent system. Morning outside daylight hits the tank for about 4 hours before the lights come on.  Less in winter. The tank is 13 months old.  It was stocked with a few hundred pounds (or more) of live rock. There are numerous soft corals.  Lots of mushrooms coral, leather coral, polyps, xenia, etc. Two turbo snails & ~50 Nerite snails. Two diadema urchins (blue dotted), and one "globe shaped" urchin. One blue Linckia star. One very small brittle star (a free rider on the rock or something.) One yellow tang (4"), one chevron tang (3"), one hippo tang (2"). A pair of percula clowns One six line wrasse One royal Gramma One long nose Hawkfish (most interesting personality in any fish I've ever had.) A pair of Chinese gobies One watchman goby One pair of cleaner shrimp. One lawnmower blenny In the last month, we have added one (small - 3"diameter) diadema, the "globe urchin", the Nerite snails, and the lawnmower blenny.  All this is included in the totals above. Since the late Spring, I have had a huge bloom of green hair-like algae and green bubble algae.  Did I say huge? <Heeeee! Twice> It is overgrowing a substantial amount of the smaller corals and killing them off.  It's covered have the rockwork. Prior to that, we had very little green algae and a very robust purple coralline algae covering. The lawnmower blenny grazes a bit, but it is like emptying the ocean with a teaspoon. <An apt comparison> The snails spend their time on the acrylic and on the sand and show no interest in climbing the rocks (except the turbo snails).  The larger (5") diadema has always ranged the tank, but avoids the serious algae growth, spending time on the acrylic and parts of the rock that are still green algae free.  The new, small diadema hasn't come out of the crevice that it first backed into, although it has only been in there for about two weeks.  In contrast, the "globe" shaped urchin spent a week doing nothing and then went nuclear.  While it hasn't grazed over the half of the tank with the serious long algae, it has gone over some of the mid-sized stuff and completely denuded the rocks and hard coral skeletons.  It is easy to tell where it has been because the path is almost white.  Hopefully it will get to the long haired stuff and feast, but we will see. My tangs used to graze, but I go tin the habit of overfeeding with frozen brine shrimp mixtures while the tank was being stocked because I lost more than a couple of fish to starvation after introduction.  The tangs got lazy.  For the last three months, I've cut the feeding by 2/3 to two cubes every three days.  They've started grazing again, but stay away from the long stuff. I'm losing a fair amount of the small coral, so I'm afraid that I have to undertake a drastic overhaul if the new urchin refuses to attack the serious algae growth. My service people assure me that the chemical balances are all fine. <Mmm, could be... though the "balance" of this whole system, web of life is not... in balance...> They change a fair amount of water every two weeks, clean out the skimmer, and adjust the chemicals. What I'm wondering is what brought all this on? <Mmm, in part "aging" of your hard substrates (gravel and rock)... their loss of solubility... a concurrent diminishing diversity of biota... You would do well to either add/and or trade out some LR... along with adding a refugium/DSB...>   We had 6-8 months with minimal algae growth, but a growing livestock population.  We are done adding livestock and may have to remove some of the recent adds (blenny, urchin) if the algae goes away. <Should help... but...> I've heard it suggested that the longer daylight hours could have done it with some sunlight hitting the tank. <Yes, can be a factor> I understand the argument, but the location of algae growth does not correspond to the half of the tank with the algae growth. The algae growth also corresponds with our addition on the chiller in the early Summer.  The tank temperature was approaching the mid-eighties before the ambient temperatures started getting hot in So. California this summer.  The tank is now around 78 deg.  Would 82 degrees help curb algae growth. <Mmm, no... more likely the opposite>   I would note that my toadstool corals have looked much less healthy since the day the chiller went in. <... Mmmmm> Would feeding/livestock levels have that much of an effect? <Oh yes... direct positive correlation... soak/drain frozen/defrosted foods for instance...>   Will cutting the feeding by 2/3 have an effect or is the horse out of the barn? <Not quite yet> Any other suggestions? <Yep... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalgcontfaqs.htm and the linked files above and those you encounter in responses of note> Thanks very much in advance. Jason <Welcome. BobF in Jamaica>

Cyano, Hair, and Temperature   8/31/06 Good morning... <Getting to be...> Just wanted to get your opinion on my battle against Cyano.  I tell ya, except for learning the hard way once... not to add 4 fish into a new tank at the same time years ago, my tank has been running pretty smoothly.  My only problem is the fight against Cyano bacteria. <A common pest> I have a 90 gallon salt tank with a deep sandbed 3 - 5".  I have a 33 gallon sump that operates about half full.  I am getting really good skimming out of my AquaC Remora Pro (I have to empty and clean 3 times a week, sometimes more).  My water volume turnover per hour is approximately 17 times. pH 8.2 Ammonia: n/a Nitrite: n/a Nitrates: on my test kit, I'm either showing no signs or very minimal. Tough to tell between two shades of yellow on a piece of paper. Salinity 1.025 (am I missing a zero in there?) <Nope this spg is about right> I have just recently added a new lighting system, two 250watt metal halides, two 96watt compact fluorescents.  I have only been using one of the halide lamps in order to get a handle on my aquarium room temperature as well as my tank temperatures... in addition to let my critters get use to the new lights.  I don't have any corals yet. I am lightly feeding flake food maybe 3 times a week, and then using either krill, bloodworm, or Mysis shrimp, twice a week.  Fish are only fed 5 of 7 days.  Since I've been battling the Cyano bacteria for about a year... I had upgraded my protein skimmer (mentioned above) and my water flow.  As well, I am watching that I am feeding only as much as the fish are consuming.  With my light feeds, I don't notice much going to waste.  At times, I don't think my yellow watchman goby is getting any... but he's quite large and is staying fairly plump and healthy looking.  One of my friends with a fresh water tank is shocked that I feed them so little. <Likely getting quite a bit of nutrition/small animal life from the substrate infauna production>   In short, I don't think overfeeding is my Cyano issue. <Doesn't read like it... just a dearth of competitors thus far> I have a refugium being setup in my sump. <Oh! Good>   It's about a one foot square section with 1" deep Miracle Mud and I am waiting for a cluster of Chaeto' something-or-other. <Chaetomorpha...> You guys recommended it to me and I'm sure you know what I am referring to.  I figure this will help a little in biological filtration and competing for nutrients. <Oh yes> My water changes...   I am doing partial water changes about two to three times a month (5 gallons each time).  After reading Bob's wonderful book... I'm thinking, that this HAS TO BE my solution? <Is of help> With approximately 115 gallons in circulation... I should be changing out approximately 30 gallons a month, correct? <Mmmm, or more... more frequently... see WWM re... 10-20% every two weeks or so...> As well, I have been taking straight tap water at about 22 - 25oc, mixing my salt until it appears to be fully dissolved... adding a minute amount of additive that removes chlorine/chloramine/ammonia, and then adding direct to my tank within about 5 minutes. <Mmm... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm> As well, I have been topping off evaporation straight outta my tap without waiting. <I'd invest in an R.O. device...>   In your opinion, would you say that this would be a likely cause of a continuing Cyano problem? <Mainly a lack of competitors...> With all the other upgrades I've made: water flow, skimming, lighting, working refugium soon!!...    If increase my water changes to 10gallons 3 times a month from water that has been premixed an aged for a minimum 24hrs... if not 3-7 days    and if I keep aged fresh water available for top up, should this remedy my Cyano issue? <I give you very good odds> If so, will the Cyano just die off over a month or so?  Or, do I need to syphon what I see off first? <Will go a bit at a time... over a month or more likely... can siphon during water changes> On a side note, I have some pretty long green hair algae growing all over.  Ya, it looks kinda nasty, but this actually beneficial to my tank, correct? <Mmm... marginally> I will be getting a tang soon... Can I safely presume that I shouldn't have to worry about adding 'greenery' to my tank for food as long as I have the hair algae with my tang? <Mmmm... not really. Many such "greens" are unpalatable... and/or of little food value> I was reading in a book that with all the chemicals in municipal water systems... that basic tap water is a sure cause of both massive Cyano and hair algae outbreaks and that a reverse osmosis mechanism is absolutely necessary. <Not always necessary... but often desirable... I/we use such for our drinking and cooking uses... but I skip for my African Cichlids... they get "hose water"... and a bucket of hot straight tap during the winter...> Yet, Bob mentions simply aging the tap water.  Will aging tapwater really minimize nutrients and 'food' in the water?? <Yes... a good deal of the municipal additions and "picked up" soluble material precipitates, insolubilizes with time> Lastly, my aquarium room sits at approximately 23 - 25oc.  My tank seems to have a low of 26oc after the single metal halide has been off for a few hours, but rises over several hours to about 28 or 29oc with the single lamp on. <Mmm... this is too much of a thermal swing...> I'm fearful that if I use two lamps... my temperature will rise twice as fast and will peak at maybe 31oc? <Not good> The fans are working on my CoraLife lighting unit.  Is this daily temperature change going to be an issue for keeping corals? <Likely yes...>   Should I wall mount a fan to cool the air in-between my lights and my tank? <Can try... but you may be a customer for a chiller> We get cold winters, so I'm thinking 8 months out of the year this won't be an issue, but during the summer it's tough to keep the tank cool. <Maybe> You guys are always a tremendous help... don't know what I'd do without ya! <Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Hair Algae competitor   8/18/06 Hello Crew, greetings again from Norfolk, VA. <And right back atcha from Southern Cal.> Tank Stats: Start date 28FEB06 50 gal FOWLR 20 lbs LR from LFS 20 lbs other porous rock <Mmm... of what make-up?> (which is where the problem hair algae has taken hold) tetra-tec 500 gph power filter/w 200 watt heater Aqua-C Remora skimmer Softball sized clump of Chaeto in corner for de-nitrification/nutrient control Twin bulb 24 inch fluorescent light. One Hagen 20W Sun-Glo and one 20W Marine-Glo bulb <Not much light...> Inhabitants - one 2 inch Huma Huma trigger (Quint) One 4 inch Coral beauty Angel (Brody) One 2 1/2 inch yellow tang  (Hooper) <... need more...> (I know I will need a bigger tank eventually for these fish, but Spouses' mantra: when we get a bigger house you can have a bigger tank!) <Then need to get/house smaller species now> Some green mushroom anemones. One feather-duster worm Test results: Ammonia and nitrites - zero. pH 8.2 nitrates - 20 ppm s.g 1.022 Temp: 76-78 F I've written to you asking advice on how to minimize growth of hair algae on my rocks. <Takes time> Upon your recommendations and in keeping with the tips in your section on Nutrient Control,  I upgraded my skimmer to an Aqua-C remora (from a SeaClone 100) and my filter to a tetra-tec 500 with 500 gph flow (from 2 whisper 40's). Total flow is now 585 gph for a 50 gal tank, up from about 400 gph. I also added a clump of Chaeto in the corner (no sump) and that is helping with denitrification, slowly, with nitrates down from about 40 ppm to 20 ppm after three weeks.  I also do weekly 5 gallon water changes, along with scraping the glass clean, and scrubbing the regenerated clumps of algae off the rocks with a toothbrush.   Overall the hair algae seems more manageable now, which is good.  It has come back, but more slowly this time, and mostly on the tops of the rocks nearest the lights. Even after implementing the good advice I have found here, I have accepted the fact it will grow to some extent in a healthy system, <Yes> and I just need to keep removing it when it grows too much. Here is my question: The high spots on the rocks are fairly flat, and closest to the lights and well lit (about 8 inches down from the top of the tank), making it prime real estate for anything to thrive, not just hair algae. What can I put there to make better use of that spot? <Most any photosynthetic life... that will live with the animals listed> Is there a particular mushroom, soft coral, worm, or sponge, that you recommend that would give me some color and as a fringe benefit compete with and crowd out the hair algae which seems to have a good foothold in these locations? I thought about pulsing xenia, but read it can take over a tank and I don't want that.  Right now there is nothing there, and it is easy to scrub the algae off weekly. Should I just be happy with that? <Mmm, no...> Another question - the Tang and Coral Beauty seem to pick at the base of the feather duster worm, where the tough yellow skin of the tube seems to be missing and there is a purple/bluish skin visible. Is that normal and is it hurting the worm? <Possibly, yes>   Could this be because I feed them less now to keep nutrients down? <Likely a factor, yes> Also, is there any harm to the feathers of the worm brushing up against the mushrooms? <Might be... to all> I move the worm away, but it seems to keep coming into contact with the shrooms after a few days. Thanks in advance and keep up the great work. Rob <... I would like to cut to the proverbial end here and suggest you add a live sump/refugium... with a DSB located there... I would investigate the chemical make-up of the "other" rock... Bob Fenner>

Green Hair Algae Control   8/3/06 I have a bit of a green hair algae problem. I have a 50 gallon tank with 4 fish. How do you keep nitrates down. I was doing a 25% water change twice a week and that kept them lower but not away. I have a small frogspawn and some colony polyps. I'm trying to cut back on some of the lighting. I have 130 watts and now I went to 65 watts to see how that will work. <Need the light for the corals.> Me and my fish are tired of scrubbing the rocks. <You need to write an article as to how you get your fish to help you out.> Do you think if I add a 20 gallon fuge to my tank, that will do something me ??? <Fuges certainly help, but you do not mention use of a protein skimmer.  This is one item that will help in nutrient control.  Read here and related links above. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> Thanks WD Bill <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re: green hair algae problem   8/4/06 Yes, I have a CPR Bak-Pak 2R  protein skimmer, is it too small? <Should be fine.> And, what do you think about denitrator coil.  I seen <saw> a article on about.com, on DIY coil denitrator. <Would be a waste of time and money...something else to fiddle with.  Following advice given on the link I will post, including related links above,  should be all that is necessary in reducing nitrates. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> I'm reading about mangroves some say they work, and others say they don't, are the worth while to get? <Read here, and you decide.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mangrovetrees.htm> Thanks, <You're welcome.  Wild Bill, in future queries, please do a spelling/grammar/cap check.  Our time is limited, and the less corrections we have to make, the more queries we can get out to other aquarists in need of help/advice.  James (Salty Dog)> WD Bill

Green Algae  Bob,  I want to thank you for your last suggestion regarding the red slime algae. I have another problem, green hair algae. It is a 75gl tank, approx. 120 lb. of live rock. CPR Bak Pak skimmer, Magnum canister w/ bio wheel, 2 actinic and 2 50/50 lights (brand new), 4 power heads, approx. 1/2 live sand. Alkalinity 4.0, calcium 340, nitrate 0, phosphate 0, PH 8.0, water changes every 2 weeks (15 gal.). Approx. 30 red leg crabs, 3 emerald crabs, 3 sally light feet, 1 lawnmower goby, 3 tiger strip blennies, 1 yellow tank, 1 half black (brand new). This green stuff it ALL over the live rock, I try to clean as much as possible every water change, day later it looks like I didn't touch it. I have been running Phosguard on the magnum every 2-3 days. Any other suggestions?  <Plenty! And all detailed on pages stored on the website: www.WetWebMedia.com under... Green Algae, Algae Control... Bob Fenner> thank you,  Ken Cabezas 

Help from the Master! <Hair Algae in an established, otherwise fine reef system> Hi Bob, Please let me begin by thanking you for all you do to support the hobby. Your guidance and assistance in both the hardcopy and electronic mediums have been exceedingly helpful to me. Gurus such as yourself are gold mines for neophytes such as myself. <A pleasure to serve, help ones new friends> Here's the info on my setup: 100 gallon (glass) aquarium 10 gallon sump Aqua C EV-90 skimmer (just added a month ago) 2 Rio 3100 providing water return from the sump, circulation 2 small powerheads for additional circulation 4 55 watt 10k power compacts - run 8 hours/day 2 55 watt actinic power compacts - run 10 hours/day Approximately 100 pounds of live rock Approximately 75 pounds of crushed coral substrate Water parameters: SG: 1.023 PH: 8.15 Ammonia and nitrite: 0 NO3: <2 KH: 8.6 Alkalinity: 3.14 PO4: .5 Calcium: 410 Iodine: .06 Magnesium: 1425 Supplements: 10 ml Strontium (weekly) Iodine (as needed) Kent's Calcium A/B (as needed) Water changes: 5 to 10 gallons a week with R/O water Occupants: 2 yellow tailed damsels 2 Percula clowns 1 6-line wrasse 1 PJ cardinal 1 Banggai cardinal 1 Cleaner shrimp 1 Cabbage leather 1 Brain LPS (uncertain of species) 6 Mushrooms A few polyps A few snails A few hermit crabs (primarily left-handed and scarlet) The tank has been established for about 2.5 years. Most inhabitants have been with me for most of that time. The PROBLEM: Hair algae. I hate this stuff. It has covered everything. I do have a thick bunch of volunteer Halimeda growing, but the hair algae is growing all over that as well. I realize that hair algae is not an uncommon occurrence as tanks age, but am confused as to the best correction method. I'd love to culture more macro algae in the sump, but there is no room in the existing sump and no way to upsize at this point in time to make it possible. Do you have any suggestions within the confines of my existing system to combat this irritation? How about biological control agents (snails, hermits, fish) - any specific thoughts? Any direction that you can provide would be greater appreciated. Thanks very much, Mike <Would do a few things here... Replace or supplement your Halimeda with a/some species of Caulerpa... in the sump, leave it lit continuously (if you'd like you could buy one of a few companies "mud's" to go with it... not necessary though), AND add two small Salarias fasciatus blennies (aka Lawnmowers), AND a species (your choice) of Ctenochaetus Tangs (got a pic of the Blue-eye yesterday!)... will be adding to survey posted on www.WetWebMedia.com... Probably add more, about a box of new Live Rock... to re-set the population dynamics in your system... they've gotten old... and this is about all... These steps will "cure" your filamentous algae blues in a few months.  Bob Fenner>

Re: Help form the Master! Bob, Thanks very much for the advice - I will get right on it. A couple of follow up questions if I may... What are your thoughts on my current lighting? (4) 55 watt 10k PC - run 8 hours a day (2) 55 watt actinic PC - run 10 hours a day <I'd increase all by two hours per day> I rotate out the 10k every 9 months and the actinics every 6 or so. <Good plan> I'd like to add more soft and LPS, but don't want to place them in a system that is not conducive to their health. <Understood, agreed> Also, can/should I add them now to provide competition for the hair algae or wait until I have that problem under control? <Now would/will/should be okay> Once again, thanks so much for your help! Mike <Glad to offer. Bob Fenner>

Hair Algae Can you please give me some suggestions on how I might solve my algae problem. The tank is a 125 gal. and about three years old. I have two 250 watt metal halide lights and two 40 watt blue actinic. One large sump houses a All Seas skimmer and a bag of carbon. The PH is 8.2, salt is 1.19 and the temp is 76. No live sand, about 50 hermit crabs, 40 turbo snails, 4 sally light foot crabs and six yellow eye tangs. <Thanks for the "graphic" graphic! A few things I would do here... add a bunch more new live rock, and new "dead" substrate (to shake up current bio-dynamic of what life is in there, what competitors, predators... and add needed biomineral and alkaline reserve... Would also suggest testing your water for these last two and if it's in your budget, getting/using a calcium reactor... Do read through the Algae and Algae Control sections of the www.WetWebMedia.com site... this system is a candidate for a blitzkrieg of algae eating animals... A Salarias Blenny, a couple of Mithrax/Emerald Green Crabs, a Ctenochaetus and/or Zebrasoma Tang or two... Other suggestions on the WWM site. Bob Fenner>

High nitrates and hair algae  7/25/06 First, briefly, your site is awesome. I devoured Mr. Fenner's CMA and followed it as closely as I could when I set up my tank this past Feb, which thus far has been a resounding success. My system: 50 gal salt water, four months old. 42 pounds of live rock, twin Whisper 40 hang on power filters, SeaClone 100 skimmer. 150W heater, Twin 24 inch bulb fluorescent light, (one 20W Hagen Sun Glow (4200K) and one 20W Marine Glow (Actinic) bulb), on a timer, and on for about 7 hours a day. Occupants: one 2 inch Huma Huma trigger, one coral beauty, and one yellow tang. There are about half a dozen surviving tiny blue legged hermits, the remnants of an early attempt at clean up crew of 15, thanks to the trigger slowly crunching them away (knew that would happen), These six hermits are pretty wily and only come out at night when the trigger is sleeping (Darwin at work). Five green mushroom anemones and a one feather duster fan round out the cast. I also recently added one small piece of pulsing xenia way up high close to the light on the pinnacle of one of the LR, and it appears to be doing fine (I guess that changes it from a FOWLR to a mini reef) Testing results: Ammonia and Nitrites at zero. pH steady at between 8.2, thanks to adding 2 tsp baking soda weekly with top off water.  Specific gravity hovers at between 1.022 and 1.023. I have been doing bi-weekly water changes of 5 gallons at a time religiously since I started the tank. My dilemma: Nitrates are high at 40 ppm and holding there. I think overfeeding was the culprit, as I went on vacation for a week and my stepdaughter fed the fish one whole frozen cube of mysis at a shot, on a mon/wed/fri schedule the week I was away. When I got back, all was well but I now have high nitrates, (though to tell you the truth they have been creeping up for awhile) and a thick mat of hair algae on the top of the LR closest to the lights. I will cut back on the food and start weekly 5 gal water changes to bring down the nitrates, in addition to changing out one of the 2 filter cartridges weekly on an alternating schedule to get some fresh carbon in the system for chemical filtration. My question: should I leave the mat of hair algae as a check against nitrates, or should I remove it? Is hair algae micro or macro algae? I figure since I can grab it now that makes it macro, which lends me to think I might want to keep it as some sort of algal filtration. I keep the front and sides algae free with a scraper and magnet. Should I let start letting the back glass grow? Not sure. Also, lots of bubbles are forming in the mat, my guess is oxygen after reading some of the other FAQ. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I don't mind the hair algae mat, but don't know if it is good or bad. One more thing, the whisper power filters had a sponge-like part in addition to the changeable filter media, designed to foster aerobic bacteria for bio-filtration (what the box says). I thought is was good at first, but after reading many nitrate FAQ's, I removed it as I thought it would be a nitrate factory and figured I had enough LR in the tank for bio-filtration. Was that the right move? Thanks for all you do, you folks are super! Rob Trepeta <<Rob:  Since your tank is still new, you are still going through the process getting the right balance between algae and clean up crew.  If it were me, I would remove the rocks and brush off the hair algae as there very few critters that will eat it and it can get out of hand.  Going forward, you have to also strike the right balance between feeding and lighting.  When nitrates are too high, you can increase the size and frequency of your water changes to help control it (say 20% every week).  It can also help to remove the sponges (or clean them frequently).  In my experience, once of the best ways to control nitrates is to have macro algae growing in a sump.  Since I don't think you have a sump, you could get a clump of Chaetomorpha "Chaeto" and tuck it into a corner of your tank.  Chaeto is easy to control and when it grows too big you can harvest some and share it with another reefer.  If you have hair algae growing on the back glass, I would scrape it off.  Eventually, coralline algae will probably establish itself on the back of the tank.  Best of luck, Roy>>

Algae Control   6/9/06 Hello, <Hello Debi> My question is about a major hair algae problem in my tank.  This has been a large problem for several weeks now and getting worse <Yikes> Tank Parameters: Six months old 46 gallon Bowfront reef with one frogspawn, one xenia, one lawnmower blenny and one sand sifting goby (who sifts his sand onto the live rock) , one cleaner shrimp, various snails and red and blue legged snails and crabs. <Certainly not the fish load doing this.> 50 lbs. live rock Ammonia-0 Ph 8.2 Alk 3.0 Calcium 440 Phos (reads 0) probably  being taken up by the algae don't you think? Nitrate-0 Nitrite-0 SG 1.023 Temp 79-80 RO/DI for water changes (tested for phosphorus)-0 Salt Water (Seachem) tested also for phosphorus No additives except some baking soda to raise the alkalinity from 2.0, done twice in the past three days.  Calcium stays up and alkalinity has been too low.  Calcium has been up as much as 480 until I started using the Seachem. I was using Instant Ocean until about two weeks ago. Aqua C Remora skimmer HOB going 24/7 <Is the skimmer cleaned weekly?  Does help efficiency.> Daylights on 10 hours, Actinics on one hour before and one hour after the main lights.  Lunars on all the time. The tank is by windows but they have two inch wooden blinds that never get opened, so no discernable natural light is coming into the tank. Four Powerheads, one Seio 620, one Maxi Jet 1200 on the skimmer, one Maxi Jet 400 close to the bottom, one Maxi Jet 600 across from the Seio Water changes were 2 gallons twice a week, last water change 6 gallons three days ago.  I am thinking of changing <Better to do five gallons weekly.  Do you vacuum the substrate when doing water changes?  I'm thinking part of your problem may lie here.> Tons and tons of green hair algae Having read your site for days I feel that I am pretty informed on the solution to this problem, but still a couple of specific questions.   1)  What can I do to manually remove the algae from rocks I can't remove from the tank.  There are several that just can't be removed without tearing the tank down and upsetting the corals that are glued down. I have read to scrub with a toothbrush but can that be done in the tank. <Yes, I'd look for something a little stiffer than a toothbrush.> I assume that would spread it around. <Do run a mechanical filter when doing this.> 2)  The lawnmower is mowing the lawn he is just eating the flat reddish, greenish algae off the glass in the back and eating invisible algae off of the top rocks.  Is there another biological answer? <You might want to try a Tuxedo Urchin.> 3)  Thinking of doing 10% (4 gallons) every other day for how long?  Would that help much? <Four gallons per week will be fine.  Have to get to the root cause.> At this time I am not feeding anything except 10 ml. DTs every four or five days for the corals.  The fish I have are not being fed since they are feeding themselves so I don't feel like it is a nutrient overload.  I am so frustrated and have put so much work into this tank and am so disappointed to have this problem with no apparent solution. <There are solutions, with determination, you will win.> Please help me figure out what to do. <Are your bulbs changed at least on a yearly basis.  Old bulbs tend to shift colors and a lower Kelvin temperature won't help matters. If you have a mechanical filter, I would start using Chemi-Pure, a great supplement to your protein skimmer.  Will removed dissolved nutrients that the skimmer won't.  Do clean/change pads on filters weekly, another nutrient trap. Do read the articles on algae/nutrient control on the Wet Web for more help/suggestions.> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog) Debi Re:  Hair Algae   6/12/06 Ok, by cleaning the skimmer, do you mean to take it totally off an clean the whole thing?  Would I clean it with just hot water, and wouldn't I then have to do the micro-bubble break in period again, I hated that, still haven't totally gotten rid of the darn little bubbles yet. <Not the whole skimmer, Debi, just the riser tube where the brown skimmate is formed on.  A small sponge/paper towel works fine.  Allowing the brown film to remain on the tube drastically reduces the efficiency of the skimmer.> Also, no I haven't changed the lights yet, as I stated this tank is only about six months old.  Hopefully I don't have to change them that frequently.  I am using a Coralife Power Compact fixture with 2 x 96 watts, daylight and actinics with lunar and running the daylights ten hours and the actinics twelve. <A yearly change is sufficient.> So on the water changes, I gather that either five or six gallons weekly will be good.  Should this be in one change? <Yes, make it easy on yourself.> Also, on the substrate, I have had mixed input on whether to vacuum the substrate.  I thought I wasn't supposed to vacuum so I didn't, then I decided I should so I did do it the last time, then I was told not to vacuum a reef tank's substrate so I don't know what to do now.  To vacuum or not to vacuum that is the question. <If you have a live sand bed teeming with critters (detritus eaters etc), it would not be necessary, but I feel you do not have this.  It then becomes important to vacuum the substrate.  I'm sure when you did vacuum it, the tube was full of brown yucky water.  This, we want to minimize, a good food source for algae.> I want to make sure I understand also on the scrubbing of hair algae off the rocks in the tank without taking them out.  I understand that I can do that if there is a mechanical filter running?  I have a Aqua Clear filter that I am going to be using Phos-Ban and Carbon in, would this be sufficient and is the Chemi-Pure something that I put in the Aqua Clear? <The Chemi-Pure comes in its own bag and I do not believe it would fit into the Aqua-Clear, although you can try it.  A small canister filter works best for this.  Once you get done with the scrubbing and the water clears, the filter pad must be cleaned/replaced. Remember, the waste is out of view but not out of the water.> I was afraid of spreading the algae spores around by doing this, (although I'm not sure how much more they would be spread).  If I scrub with something harder than I toothbrush won't I kill any Coralline algae that is there? <You can use the toothbrush, just get one with stiff bristles, I believe they come in soft, medium, and hard.  You won't damage the coralline in this regard.> Just want to be sure that I have all the facts straight before I do something to make it worse. <You are on the right track, and you won't make it worse.> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Debi

Hair algae in yellow polyps   3/25/06 Love your site! You have helped me out several times before. I have a couple of questions. How do I get hair algae out of, and in between my yellow polyps? <... reduction of available nutrients, competition from other photosynthetic life, use of specific predators, chemical filtrants...> Every where else is fairly clean of algae, but is it growing in between the polyps. I first noticed it when my yellow tang looked like it was trying to eat the polyps but was actually going after the hair algae. What do you suggest? <Mmm, to read on WWM re> I have an enormous colt that I need to trim back. What do I need to know if I cut this coral? <Posted as well...> Thanks for all of your great help. Dallas <Learn to/use the indices, Google search tool on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Need Real Help On Algae Control - 12/12/05 Hi Guys, <<Hello>> Need your wisdom, again!  I've been battling Green Hair algae for more than 6 months and am losing the war!  Please correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I read on the web, this type of algae needs PO4 and NO3 to survive, right? <<Tis the popular notion, yes.>> My initial measurements showed PO4 = 0.25 mEq/l and NO3 = 25 mEq/l.  To bring down the PO4, I used a PO4 removal media (Aquaz PurePhos) in a PhosBan Reactor.  Also, I did weekly water changes of 45L using Coral Life salt to try and reduce the NO3. <<All good...but you need to determine the source of the phosphate/nitrate.  Do you use filtered (RO, ion exchange, etc.) water?  Have you tested your top-off water?  Have you tested the salt mix?  Both are potential culprits.>> The PO4 was soon at zero or near zero (using the Salifert kit).  But, it did not help to reduce the algae. <<Likely still present, but being utilized by the algae so fast it doesn't register.>> If fact, it seems like the algae grew. <<Seems I read somewhere someone speculated that large growths of algae are able to produce their own nutrients.  Whether true or not, you should employ manual removal as part of your battle plan.>> And, I can't get the NO3 down with water changes (in fact, it went up to between 25-50 mEq/l). <<If the salt mix is the culprit the water changes are only making things worse.  You need to determine this by testing after mixing a fresh batch.>> So, I decided to try a Denitrator (AquaMedic Nitratreductor 400).  It's been running for about 6 weeks and has brought the NO3 down to about 5 mEq/l (note - weekly water change still continuing). <<Well and good...but you still need to determine the source of the excess nitrate.>> However, the algae is still there!  And it is definitely growing. <<You are only treating the symptoms...the algae is still getting plenty to feed upon regardless of your test kit readings.  Not to say the measures you've taken won't have an effect, but recovery after the fact is always a slow process.>> I am at my wits end and could really use your advice. <<Find the source of the PO4/NO3>> Particulars of my tank as follows, Tank Size - 39 Gal Sump Size - 16 Gal Equipment: Return pump - Eheim 1260 Lights - 6 X 24W T5 (all less than 6 months old).  Photoperiod less than 6 hrs a day. <<I would use a "normal" photoperiod (10-12 hrs.).  Reducing the photoperiod does more harm than good overall in my opinion, and really does have little effect on your algae problem.>> PhosBan Reactor with Aquaz PurePhos (replaced in Sept 05) AquaMedic Nitratreductor 400 AquaC EV120 skimmer driven by a Sicce Extrema w/addition of Ozone Measurements as of 10 Dec 05: SG - 1.024 pH - 8.36 KH - 8.48 dKH NO3 - 5 mEq/l Mg - 1260 ppm PO4 - 0 mEq/l Ca - 360 mEq/l (I know this a bit low!) ORP - 440 mv <<Be careful with this...approaching unsafe levels.>> Live Stock: 1 Yellow Tang <<Your tank is too small for this fish.>> 1 Six-line Wrasse 2 Clarke Clown 2 Cleaner Shrimps Some mushrooms and buttons What do you guys think?  Anyway to help? <<Start the manual removal on a weekly basis...up your pH to 8.5/8.6...increase calcium to 400...and most importantly, strive to identify and reduce/eliminate the source(s) of the PO4 and NO3.>> Regards. <<Good luck, EricR>>

Hair algae and Caulastrea - 12/1/05 Hi Crew, I had a hair algae attack about a year ago. It was on everything everywhere. It is not gone but under control thanks to your help. Although it pops up here and there it is pretty much confined to two small rocks with mushrooms and two candy canes. I use a toothbrush every few weeks to clean them. It also grows on my snails which I also brush when it looks like they have a pony tail.  But lately I have another kind growing that just does not come off. It looks like grass, is strongly attached to whatever it is growing on and it very tough and coarse. <Does indeed sound like a hair alga.> What kind is it and is there a way to get rid of it? I do not have much but it grows where I would rather it not be. I can chip the rocks they are on to get them off but it is also on my candy canes. <I wouldn't chip... it'll just pop up elsewhere anyway. best to identify the cause and control this, in addition to manual removal. To get started, I would look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalgcontfaqs.htm> Regarding the candy cane, there is a tan one with green centers and each head is smaller than a dime. One head has divided. The other is burgundy with a light blue center. It had one head that was dead, one that just had a center and very little flesh around it and the third was about the size of a dime. The little head has more flesh and the good one is now about the size of a nickel and looks very plump. Is there any reason why it is not splitting? <Could be any number of factors. It will need regular feeding for optimum growth. May asexually reproduce by budding/branching in addition to fission.> Thanks to the Crew and to Marina for the editing. <Fortunately, in your case, I don't think she'll have to ;). Best regards from Shanghai, John>  <<Fantastically easy query to post.  (Only had to hyperlink.)  Thank YOU!  Marina in the Motherlode>>

Hair algae - 29/11/05 I have a 125 gallon fish only tank that has been set up for about seven years. Recently I have developed a serious hair algae problem that I have not been able to cure. I had a SeaLife wet/dry filter with CPR overflow, a HOT Magnum 350 and a Prizm skimmer on this tank. I recently disconnected the wet/dry and added another whisper filter for the time being. I also have about 100lbs of live rock, completely overgrown with algae. my plan is to tear down the tank and replace the old crushed coral with aragonite, and turn the wet/dry into a refugium under the tank which will be lit opposite to the main tank. Also [I plan] to scrub all the live rock to remove the algae. I will also use the HOT Magnum on the tank. Any suggestions would be welcome. <I would be testing for nitrates and phosphates and looking for approaches to reduce them. Depending on the fish load, removing some of your bio-media and relying on the live rock for filtration may help your lot. Replacing the crushed coral is probably a good idea, unless you vacuum it diligently and regularly. You may also want to investigate the purchase of a more powerful skimmer, and ensure you have enough circulation in the tank to get all -- or at least most -- of the detritus to that skimmer. Finally, after seven years, it may be time to cycle some of the rock out for fresh live rock. For more ideas, do read through the algae FAQs on WetWebMedia.> Any thoughts on using a U V sterilizer, or is that counter productive? <No harm or benefit> Thanks. <You're welcome! Best regards, John>

Hair Algae And Fish Stocking - 11/14/05 Hello Crew! <<Howdy>> It has been a while. Thank you for all your wisdom to date! <<We hope it has been helpful.>> I am writing to ask you several questions about my 120g reef tank. I have a wet/dry filter, protein skimmer, UV sterilization (8 watt), mixture of actinic and metal halide lighting. It is stocked with about 90-100lbs of live rock, several soft corals (mushroom, polyp, and brains), coral banded shrimp, blood and skunk shrimp, 75-100 crabs, and 10-15 snails. I have several fish: Percula Clown, Hippo Tang, Yellow Tang, Flame Angel, 2 Fire Fish, Banggai Cardinal, Lawn Mower Blenny, Striped Goby, and 3 Anthias. <<Mmm...a tank full...>> Here are my questions: 1.Recently I have had a huge green hair algae bloom. <<Might be the fish load.>> I have tried (and trying) the suggested ways to decrease the algae. I do 10% water changes every 10-14 days, I have been feeding less, I have checked the PO4, <<Likely the algae is using the available PO4 before it can be detected.>> I decreased the amount of lighting to 8 hours a day, <<I never recommend decreasing the photo-period.>> added more crabs, hand plucked the larger thickets, my nitrates are normal, but I am losing the battle. Any other suggestions? <<Well, I don't believe in starving fish...you might want to consider finding another home for the Hippo Tang to reduce the bio-load. You can also try raising pH to about 8.5/8.6 and make sure calcium stays above 350. But I'm sure you read about all this in our FAQs.>> << <giggle> <hint hint> >> Anything I can add to the tank that will destroy or eat the algae? <<Not with any consistency...besides, you're just treating the symptom...you really need to find and eliminate the cause.>> 2. Do I have too many fish in my tank? <<Ah...I think so, yes.>> 3. I have a green polyp coral that has been overrun by the nuisance algae, the polyps have ceased coming out, if I can control the algae do you think it will come back? <<Very likely it will recover once the algae is under control.>> Thank you. Dr. M <<Regards, EricR>>

Hair algae follow up 8/19/05 My problems continue. Bob cover your ears but I am considering an algaecide. <<What?! My ears are covered, but not my eyes! RMF>> I have been looking for the one Ronni talked about in one of the FAQ's called Algone and cannot find it. This is a FOWLR and I will never keep corals in this tank or with this rock. What about chelated copper? I read that some of the big tank keepers employ this as an algaecide. I am desperate for a quicker solution. <AdamC here today.  Please don't resort to this!  Such temporary fixes are harmful to every living thing in the aquarium (even if they aren't lethal) and don't solve the underlying problem.  Once these poisons have broken down, the nutrients that they liberate will remain to cause future problems.> My parameters are zero and nitrate is still in low safe zone. I have used three different test kits for results. I was told not to scrape off rocks as this spreads it, but it flies off itself due to current and clogs my powerfilter's inlets, powerheads, and even the skimmers pump. This happens daily! In three weeks time the matter has gone from bad to worse. I am limiting my feeding. Doing water changes and have tested my water for nitrates, phos. nitrites, ammonia. and it all test fine.  <The problem with your test results is that the algae may be using these things as fast as they are entering the water (through feeding, liberation from substrates, etc.).> At first when I changed the phos. remover the algae was receding but that lasted for about a week. Then it seemed to be flourishing. I am so frustrated at this point. Most of my coralline algae are gone. It even grows well on the substrate. I have gone through 2 buckets of salt in additional water changes, filter cleanings etc.. This clogging daily mind you has got to be hard on my pumps. <Indeed!  During your next water change, I would suggest filling a container with tank water and one-by-one, scrub each badly infested rock in this container.  Between water changes, pay careful attention to pH and alkalinity.  Both of these should be maintained in the high end of the normal range (pH 8.4-8.6 and alkalinity 10-12 dKH) to favor coralline and inhibit the nuisance algae.  You may have to repeat this scrubbing process a couple of times.  In the mean time, keep up normal water changes (siphoning what algae you can) and phosphate remover.> What about light control? I have two Jebos with 4 65 watt power compacts in each, consisting of 4 actinic, 4 10,000k daylights. Yesterday I shortened the hours from 10 down to 4. 2 hours for 2 of the actinic and 2 hours for 2 daylight+actinic. Do you think this will make a difference? <Absolutely! That is a lot of light for a fish only tank! However, I would maintain a more normal photoperiod of maybe 8 hours but with fewer lights running.  If possible, I would run only two actinic lamps.  The reduction in light and heavily favoring the blue spectrum should help.> I have your book have read days worth of FAQ's and articles. I don't know what else to do. IT wouldn't be so bad if the stuff were not breaking off and clogging everything. I look forward to your reply. I have included my other messages and replies as you requested.  <Thanks for including the previous messages.  This helps a lot!  You listed you sources of water movement and stated that your skimmer is run by a Maxijet 1200.  I would suggest bumping up your water movement so that it is in the range of at least 10 time the tank volume per hour.  Also, any skimmer that runs on such a small pump is probably very undersized for the size of your tank, especially with messy eaters like puffers.  It sounds like you don't have a sump, so the only hang on skimmer option for a tank that size is probably the Aqua-C Remora Pro.  Beware of the grossly inflated claims of most of most other models! To conquer these kinds of algae problems properly often takes months of consistent application of multiple strategies, but once you get ahead of them, normal maintenance will usually keep them from returning.  Be patient and persistent and I promise you will win!  Best Regards. AdamC.>

Hair algae follow up 8/22/05 Adam thanks for the info -got a few questions though. With the pumps and filters on the tank I have 13.06X turnover every hour. <This is great.  You should be able to see the hair algae blow around a good bit.  Some filters produce pretty well distributed flow that don't contribute a lot to turbulence.> A different skimmer right now is out of the question although I do plan on upgrading in the future. <When you do, you will be glad you did!> As far as the lights, everyone, including Bob, have told me that live rock require this amount of lighting. Also due to tank being 30" deep. It is 120g. and 4'long by 2' wide and 30" tall. But I will gladly reduce, cheaper energy bills and all. Do you mean only run 2 actinics during the photoperiod and not the daylights at all for right now? Please clarify. <For now, I would run two actinic lamps only for an 8 hour photoperiod (if your fixtures will allow you.)  After this problem is under control, I would slowly increase the light back toward "normal".  I agree that the life on the rock needs light, however it can get by on small amounts and right now, it is being smothered by hair algae anyway.> As far as taking the rocks out and scrubbing....been there done that. A few times, but it upsets my fish so much that I stopped doing this. <This is a problem.  You could try doing one rock at a time to make it less stressful on your fish.  A major part of defeating this is to export the nutrients, and there isn't really any better way to do this than to get the algae out.> My alkalinity is a steady 14 and ph is 8.8 AM and 8.6 at night. Temp is always 80. <Excellent, but don't push them any higher.  You may try dropping the temp to 76-78.  Your fish will tolerate this fine and it will slow the growth of algae.> In another month or so, I am going to try to upgrade my skimmers pump with a little giant...I think 325gph. Presently it is running a feature in my Koi pond. I have a 550gph but this I think would blow my puffer away. If I cant rig it to the skimmer, I will try to use it as a power head. <When current is properly applied, it shouldn't blow any fish away.  The current should be turbulent, not causing streams or whirlpools in the tank.> I will not use an additive and will try to limit lighting. Another quick question. Could I permanently get away with only having 1 Jebo light fixture on this tank? That would be 4x65watts. Two 10,000k daylights and two actinics. I have a FW, 55gal. in my hallway wall and would love to use one of these fixtures for it. What do you think. Thanks in advance for being so helpful and in addition to not telling me to look for more info. My brain hurts from reading through days worth of info from the site. It is an awesome site though!  Sherry Noss  <In my opinion, you could get away just fine with 4x65w over this tank, even for the long term.  Glad to help!  Adam>

Tough algae stains, you try brushing them out... soldering? 8/11/05 Hi Crew, I have two candy canes which I bought about 6 months ago. A little while later I had a massive hair algae attack in my tank and I would use a toothbrush to get it of the candy canes. The hair algae problem is just about gone but I have these little bushes of green on the candy canes (do not see them elsewhere) and they are impossible to brush off. I can not even get them off with my nails, they are like rooted in there and tough. What is it? <Likely algae stain...> I used as soldering iron on them but it is too early to tell if that helped. <Yeeikes!> I plan on getting some micro stars for my tank. Do you know if a royal Gramma will eat them? <Likely not> They are very small dime sized stars, look like brittle stars and not Asterina. Thanks <I would look to methods of limiting nutrient availability here... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm and the (not all!) linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Green Hair Algae 7/28/05 Hi, gang.  Thanks for all the help.  Everything I have had to un-learn and re-learn has been from you guys (and gals).  I hope after reading this you will realize that I have "played by the rules" and researched the FAQs diligently before writing. <Thank you> Setup:  +/- 65 gallon custom-made reef-ready tank (according to the invoice, but I don't think it's that big), EcoSystem mud sump (you are right about Bob Smith, he helped me a great deal in the beginning) <Unfortunately no longer with Leng...> 3 X 96W power compacts (started with two, added a third - 10,000K, "true" actinic, and 50/50) and what started out as 95 lbs. of live rock and 20 lbs. of live sand.  After years of buying critters on rocks and cleaning substrate, I now have a lot more rock and a lot less sand.  I've added some other stuff over the years, cooling fans (replaced noisy, expensive Ice Caps with no-name, ultra quiet ones bought on EBay for $20), <Thank you for this> moon lights, etc.  I'm basically happy with the setup, but don't even get me started on the moron that built the tank - the tank is deep in the first place, but the cap has no doors up front so the extra height makes it impossible for me to reach the bottom to do maintenance without severing my arm at the pit. <Typical, trouble> When he set it up, the overflow sounded like Niagara Falls, so he stuffed it full of bio-bale - more to come on that... The following inhabitants are thriving in it:  2 ocellaris clowns (perhaps a mated pair, I bought them young and tiny early on and now one is a lot bigger and darker and I occasionally see a foamy ball that I believe may be eggs?), <Mmm, no> 2 zebra gobies, 4 green chromis, a lawnmower blenny (quite fat and happy) and (I know I need to sell him) a blue hippo tang that started off not much bigger than a quarter and is now bigger than a moon pie.  One turbo snail (Dr. Doolittle sized), Mexican red-legged hermits, mutant Hawaiian left handed hermits (why I only have ONE turbo snail left) assorted small snails (bumblebees, Nassarius), a Trochus/conchy thing, two peppermint shrimp, etc. I have one gigantic toadstool leather and its offspring, cabbage leather, finger leather, frogspawn, watermelon mushrooms, metallic green hairy mushrooms, assorted button polyps and Zoanthids, and... purple mushrooms, pulsing xenias and encrusting green star polyps that multiply exponentially. These guys should not be surviving in this tank.  I'm not even going to talk about my water quality, you would be appalled. <Fortunately, all have "grown up" together...> Sorry for the considerable amount of background information, now to the question part: Old age (four years) and a mass extinction of snails bought on EBay (my fault, coldwater snails and my tank is on the warm side) have taken their toll.  I have an outbreak of green hair algae and turtle weed.  The aforementioned bio-bale in my overflow looks like "Swamp Thing".  I want to overhaul my tank completely, so after researching your site here are my plan and questions: Would it be OK to remove the bio-bale from the overflow, clean it in saltwater (it is teeming with itty-bitty critters) and replace it?   <Yes> And with that in the overflow, would it be possible to remove the bio-balls in the first chamber of my sump and add a small footprint skimmer?   <Yes> (AquaC Urchin would be the best I could fit in there).  Then I would like to remove, gently scrub and replace my live rock (I have lots of little mollusks and feather worms living in my rock), but I see in the FAQs you recommend actually replacing some of the live rock.  How much can/should I replace (with cured live rock from the LFS)? <Twenty percent or so> And while I am at it, I want to build back up to the recommended 1" of live sand - same thing; can I safely add live sand at this point? <Yes> Can I do all of this at the same time, as well as my yearly partial mud change? <I would do one item per week...> And finally, since I am going to be basically breaking down and setting back up, how much water can I safely replace at once to try and get my nitrates down? <I would never change more than about a quarter of the water if I could avoid it> Thank you so much in advance.  The amount of information on your site is at times overwhelming but I could NOT do it without you! Happy and successful reef keeping, Rebecca Dishman <Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Green Hair Algae, Rebecca's input re cooling fan and moon light sources 7/28/05
Thanks a million, Bob.  I wish I could give you a big hug! <Consider yourself hugged in return> FYI, here are my fans: http://stores.ebay.com/Windydayzz and my moon lights: http://stores.ebay.com/Fishbowl-Innovations I'm extremely pleased with the quality and design of both, as well as great service, and would recommend them. Rebecca L. Dishman <Outstanding. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Green hairy algae and high nitrates 7/26/05 We have a 45 gallon, 16 month old reef aquarium which until about six months ago was perfectly balance chemically.  Oh yeah, live rock, live sand, and Aqua Clear wet./dry filter, a CAP 1800 pump, an unknown protein skimmer, and some charcoal.  Then, around January, the nitrates went really high (200+), but now they are in the high O.K. range and we are getting a lot of green hairy algae.  I've been reading your chat board and you have mentioned the protein skimmer should put out a couple of cups of sludge a week and ours doesn't even need to be dumped but every couple of weeks.  The skimmer was suggested by the aquarium shot where we got our tank, I think it is locally made (Jacksonville, FL), it wasn't expensive ($100), and is installed in the sump as per directions.  I'm thinking we should get a better skimmer due to the stupid algae.  We have 6 fish, one clam, one spiny oyster, and four corals.  Any suggestions?  Thanks. <Depending on size, six fish could be a bit much for a 45 gallon tank.  For skimmers to work efficiently, they must be cleaned weekly by removing the brown sludge that builds up on the riser tube.  For algae control Google "algae control" on the Wet Web Media.  James (Salty Dog)> Kim

Hair Algae/Dying Snails - 07/17/05 I have a 75 gallon tank and fifteen pounds of green hair algae! <<Mmm, been there before myself...>> Ok, I cannot get rid of this stuff.  I only have one clown fish and a cleaner shrimp. a bunch of scarlet and blue hermits...I have tried everything...every time I add snails they die off. <<Yikes!  This is telling you something...>> I don't know if it is the larger crabs killing them or what. <<Maybe...but likely the "or what.">> Would a UV Sterilizer help here? <<I doubt it.  Not to say these devices don't have/serve a purpose, I just consider them too high-maintenance and of limited benefit in marine systems.  You're better served with an ozone generator in my opinion.  Though this is not necessarily the solution to your problem.>> Should I remove all 90 lbs of my live rock and put it in a tub with a power jet in the dark? <<Is an option...though for the benefit of any photosynthetic life on the rock you might do better to remove, "gently" scrub in clean salt water, and place back in the tank.>> I had a great tank but everything died off except what I mentioned. <<???!!!... Did you determine/correct whatever caused the die-off?  This may be the source of your algae problem.>> I recently replaced about a 3rd of the substrate and that didn't do it either. <<Wouldn't expect it to.>> I think it may be my skimmer...it doesn't produce much and I have to baby-sit the darn thing to keep it working....if I got a new skimmer would it do the trick? <<A quality skimmer can definitely help and should be your first purchase before a UV or ozone unit (ER, Aqua-C, and ASM are good skimmers to research).>> How frequently should I scrape this and do water changes? <<Likely weekly to bi-weekly.>> Is there an additive I can use? <<No magic elixirs I'm afraid.>> Is calcium good or bad in this instance (as in dosing Kalkwasser)? <<Calcium is good...the addition of Kalkwasser can also help by raising/boosting pH and precipitating phosphate.>> Help- I am at my wits end with this stuff! <<Make sure your calcium and alkalinity are where they should be (might even boost the calcium just a bit), use Kalkwasser for evaporation replacement, add a "quality" skimmer (try running the skimmer a bit "wet" for a couple weeks), and try to keep your pH in the 8.4-8.6 range...If simple nutrient export is the issue this may alleviate your problem (along with prudent feeding, water changes, et al).  If not, you're back to just treating the symptom and will need to determine what is feeding your algae (that "tank die-off" is bothering me...didn't suddenly change salt mixes did you?).>> Thanks! Jeff <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Hair algae 7/15/05 I have a 90 g w/ 150lb of LR. I have green/brown hair algae and red slime. I have had this problem for about 7-8 months. It started on my sand bed and now on my LR. I use RO water. I have 3 maxi jet 900's. My wet/dry is rated for a 200 g tank with a Little Giant 4-MDQX-SC 1350 gph. I use a Custom Sea Life ? chiller and 18 watt UV. I just replaced my Aqua C Urchin pro w/ a Coralife 220.Thinking that it might be the problem. My bulbs are only 2 months old. My lights go on at 1:30pm and turn off at 11:30pm. I have about 15 SPS's. I dose w/ Bionic every day. I use an Eheim 2215 canister w/ phosphate remover regularly. 75 blue leg crabs, 20 snails and 3 tangs. I don't think I feed to often, very little once per day. Nothing ever falls to the bottom. I do a 10-15% water change per week and try to siphon all the red slim out. The hair algae doesn't come off the rock. I can't pull it or scrape it off. I just bought 4 sea urchins to the mix and they haven't done much.   All my water premi?es are good. Zero phosphates and zero nitrates. My sand is now ok. The only thing I could think that could have been feeding the algae is what I found in my sump on Friday. When I installed my new protein skimmer I found a one inch layer of light brown debris mud like sh*# under the area were your bio balls go (now has LR). Does any one know how often you should clean out your wet/dry? <Depends... about as often as it needs... likely monthly at the least> Should you clean the LR that's in your wet/dry and could this be the cause of my algae breakout. <Mmm, some shaking, removal of accumulated detritus is likely a good idea> Sorry this is so long but I am getting ready to tear down the reef if I have to look at this stuff take over any more. PLEASE HELP!!! Thank you, Jason S <... Please read... here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the linked files above... Consider changing the wet-dry to a sump/refugium... Bob Fenner>

Hair algae problems 5/16/05 Hi Crew, I'm recently in the midst of a battle with Green Hair Algae that has taken over my one and a half year old 55 gallon tank. I tested my phosphates and nitrates (0 phosphates (LaMotte kit) and .05 nitrates) but despite these "good readings" I still have this problem. I was using Kent Liquid Reactor but I stopped using it prior to the water change and won't continue with it. My other water readings are: DKH 8 PH 8.2 temp 78 salinity 1.025 2 VHO 95 watt bulbs only 3 months old on for 8 hours per day <This all sounds good. See comments below about low PO4 and Nitrate readings.> I changed all of the cartridges plus the RO membrane on my Spectra Pure 2000 and did a 40 % water change on my 55 gallon tank yesterday. I have an EV 120 Aqua C skimmer that's working fine. How frequent should my water changes be to rid myself of this algae? How much should I change? I have only 2 clownfish and feed only 1 time per day.  <I would suggest checking the PO4 of your RO water. Carbon is made porous with phosphoric acid, and unless it is rinsed, it can leach a lot of PO4. Assuming your RO water is PO4 free, I would perform 15% water changes every two weeks until the problem is under control. You may consider the addition of a couple (1 per 40 gallons) of turbo snails and possibly an algae eating fish like a blenny or bullet or Rainford's goby.> How long do you think it will take for the algae to "starve" and go away? How is it possible to have good test readings from reputably accurate test kits like LaMotte for phosphate but still have an explosion of green hair algae? I hope you can help. THX  <Zero readings for PO4 and NO3 can be deceptive since algae can be consuming these nutrients as fast as they are introduced or produced. At least some manual removal is very helpful if not necessary. This can be done with a stiff plastic brush in a bucket using water removed during water changes. With scrubbing, water changes and the introduction of a few grazers, I would still expect it to take a couple of months to get ahead of this problem, but be patient, you will win! Best Regards. AdamC.> 

Hair Algae and Aiptasia Question 3/22/05 I am purchasing an entire Reef setup from someone. It has been up and running for about 4 years. Here are the specs: 75 Gallon - Drilled in two places on back 40 Gallon Sump with a Mag 24 Return Pump Aqua-c EV-180 with a Mag 7 6 x 65 W PC. 2 Actinic, 4 10k 4-5" DSB 125 lbs live rock Livestock -Various Corals - Mostly softies -Too many fish - Vlamingi Tang, Sailfin Tang, Hawkfish, Tomato Clown, Domino Damsel, Three Stripe Damsel, Yellow Tail Damsel -Inverts - Blue Linckia, Tuxedo Urchin, Astrea Snails, Serpent Star, 2 Green Brittle Stars, 2 Coral Banded Shrimp. <Quite a crowd! I don't agree that there are too many fish, but the tangs certainly belong in larger quarters. No less than 300 gallons for a Vlamingi!> I will be moving the tank to my place on Friday. There are a couple of rocks that have some Aiptasia (maybe 10 total in the tank) and some hair algae. When I move the live rock, what do you suggest to eradicate them before putting them back in the tank? I was going to hit the Aiptasia with some Joe's Juice. I was also going to scrub the live rock in tank water prior to putting it back into the tank. Any thoughts?  <Sounds like a good plan. You may also wish to place the rocks that had Aiptasia on them into the sump or otherwise segregate them so that you can keep an eye on them for Aiptasia growing back.> Going forward, I built a new Sump/Refugium out of acrylic and will have some macro algae growing in there. I will also not be putting all of those fish back in there. Way too much livestock. Hopefully this should help eliminate the problem.  <Agreed. Good husbandry and reasonable stocking should solve the problem, but be patient, it could take months!> Also, do you have any suggestions on the best method to transport the fish and coral? I need to dismantle the tank, drive about an hour, put the tank back together (including replumbing for the new sump), put the water back in, and then add the livestock. I am going to transfer as much of the water as possible. Keep in mind that I am in Michigan and it isn't exactly warm up here this time of year. Thanks in advance, Brian  <Ahhh... you got the right guy! I have moved more tanks (mostly my own) than I care to think about. I would suggest getting a few large shipping Styro boxes from a local fish store along with a couple of handfuls of various sized bags (get lots. It is easy to underestimate how many you will need and you can always take the extras back). Each animal should go in it's own bag and into a box. If an animal is too large for a bag, it can go into a bucket. Double bag fish and double or triple bag corals. A trash can lined with a trash bag works well for transporting water and Rubbermaid type toter containers are good for rock. Take lots of towels! Remove the corals first, then rock, then most of the water. This will make it a snap to catch the fish. Just be careful that you don't remove rocks with fish inside or drop rocks onto fish! Plan well starting days in advance. Set up as much of the new equipment as possible and have plenty of spare plumbing parts so you don't have to run to the store. Have a good plan for getting the tank set up to a point where you can get all of the animals in and go to bed and finish the next day if you have to. I have had bad personal experience and have heard other's horror stories associated with moving DSBs. I would discard and replace it. Moving it in the tank might work, but is very dangerous (broken glass) and disrupting it kills much of the life and liberates A LOT of organic matter. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Waging war on hair algae Bob, <Mike G here> I wanted to get your thoughts on introducing a Sea Hare to take care of some painful green hair algae? <Sea Hares are wonderful consumers of hair algae. It may aid you in physically removing algae, but will certainly not solve your problem single-handedly. They are messy eats, and minute particles of Hair Algae WILL get released every time they take a bite. Also, their feces will contain partially digested hair algae, and possibly hair algae spores. A sea hare would be a wonderful warrior in your battle against hair algae, but you need to also eliminate the problem that is causing the algae in the first place.> I've had the aquarium up 8 years and have never had a battle like this with hair algae - I feel I'm starting to lose the battle. <That's a very common feeling when one is pitted against hair algae. I had problems with it when I first started my tank (15g). It was completely eradicated by doing 2 gallon (10%) water changes every other days and by adding a refugium of 25% of my water volume (5g) to my system.> It's been going on 8 weeks now. I've seen 2 Sea Hare species for sale: Aplysia punctata & Dolabella auricularia. Fosters & Smith rates Aplysia punctata as extremely delicate/expert with serious negative affects from possible ink secretions. Aplysia punctata isn't found on WWM. <I recently purchased a Sea Hare to control my Caulerpa problem. The only species available was Dolabella auricularia. I can assure you that he does a godly job on Cyanobacteria, Bryopsis, bubble, and pretty much any microalgae he comes across. I think that if he were to come across hair algae, he would eat it with gusto. Of course, he does not eat Caulerpa. It figures.> Dolabella auricularia is mentioned twice on WWM and a seller of it praises its traits without a mention of any issues with the species. I know it also secretes ink as well, but what about hardiness? Would you pick one over the other & how toxic is the ink? <Mine has "inked" in my tank twice now...either time with absolutely no negative effects. Granted, I do run a skimmer that is quite large for my tank (CPR BakPak), and I did a 10% water change as soon as it inked. Upon researching hares, I have found that Aplysia produce a considerably more toxic ink than Dolabella. I think a Dolabella would be the way to go if you decide on getting a Hare. As a side note, the hare toxins can be easily removed with carbon and a water change.> For back ground, I've been following all the algae reduction husbandry: All water changes & evaporate top-off done with buffered/aerated RO water from Kent Maxxima Hi Silicate (changed out all membranes 4 months ago), 30% water changes every 2 weeks (every one now), thaw, rinse & strain food prior to feeding, careful not to overfeed, 1800+gph turn over, over-powered skimmer (AquaC EV120), 45gal refugium w/ DSB & Chaeto, 520w PC lights that were recently changed, phosphates reading zero, but running PhosGuard as precaution. The green hair algae is still kicking my tail. I think I've narrowed down the original cause to a partially blocked line on my skimmer, which started the outbreak 12wks ago and then was fueled by a continuing die off of all my turbo snails (past email). About 6 weeks ago, 20 Turbos went through QT for a month - lost about 3 in QT. At the time, I thought it was just a natural/unlucky die off. Since they've been introduced into the main tank I've lost about 18. Originally, only the new ones seemed to go. My old ones are covered in coralline algae, so they were easy to tell apart. Now the old ones are going too, seems like one every 4-5 days and that's just the ones I can see. My 30+ Cerith & 40+ blue legs seem completely unaffected. My two "indicators" - RBTA and Hippo tang couldn't be better. I brought the Turbos in to help combat algae problem - now I think they're fueling it. I'm to the point now of thinking about taking all the Turbos out & putting them into QT. Any thoughts? <Certainly. If I were you, I would remove all of the turbo snails, as they do not seem to be doing anything more than providing nutrients for an algal bloom. It sounds as if your refugium is completely adequate, so you can't really expand on that. What really ended my hair algae infestation were 10% water changes every other day. This may be extremely difficult for you considering your tank and refugium sizes. However, It may very well be worth a try. You may also want to look into a high quality phosphate reducer. Lately, more and more people have been reporting success with PhosBan. It really all depends on what you think would work best in your situation.> I've been scrubbing the LR manually with a toothbrush & then immediately doing a water change to try and remove as much of it as possible. Last week I thought I delivered the final blow by spending 4 hours and manually scrubbing every single piece of my 180lbs of LR, one at a time, always submerged, in a bucket of saltwater from the tank. I used 3 separate buckets of saltwater to keep the algae export as high as possible. I certainly staggered it, but it looks to be getting back up. With the toothbrush method, do you think I'm doing more harm than good by spreading it around? My thought was that dislodging it and removing some though the filter & water change would be more effective than just letting it grow unabated. Any other advice? <I think that you are only spreading it more when you scrub it off the rocks. You are releasing minute particles into the water, which can easily find new places to lodge and form new "colonies" of algae.> Since I've been way too involved in algae recently, I wanted pass on a personal observation that the most productive hair algae remover in my tank is my Foxface Lo (Siganus vulpinus). After watching my tank for hours, he is certainly outperforming my robust lawnmower blenny and seems to be getting the better of my spineless clean-up crew. I've seen him wipe out 3 long sprigs of hair algae in a 90 second window. I just haven't seen him get much press for that on WWM or anywhere else and besides, he's a gorgeous fish and I haven't seen a single negative trait from him (having slightly venomous spines probably doesn't help him, but I'd find it hard to see how I'd get stuck by him). Just wanted to sing the Rabbitfish praises a little. <Rabbitfishes are well-known and wonderful herbivores. Glad to hear yours is working out for you.> BTW - wanted to get your thoughts on a sump/refugium I've designed and am thinking about having built. Especially concerning transition methods from one chamber to the next. I've attached the layout. As a note, the PVC return pipes in the refugium will be covered by a 6" DSB & the 2" ball valve into the refugium is designed to support complete gph control through the refugium. The overall design goal was to maximize the efficiency within the footprint & have an uncluttered/clean appearance. All my aquarium equipment is in the mechanical room below my office, so space isn't an issue. My current sump/refugiums were born from a series of upgrade bolt-ons over the years. Restricted water flow through the refugiums, wasted water volume due to in-line plumbing spacing & general clutter were the reason for the potential new sump. <I see no problem with your design for your sump/refugium.> So sorry for the length of the note - I just realized how long it is. Obviously, I'm excited about the hobby and can't express the gratitude in having the joint knowledge of WWM available to me and other enthusiasts. Get to me when you can & feel free to break the note up if it makes for easier reading. <The length of your email is not a problem. I can only hope that I have provided answers to all of your questions. Mike G.> 

Marine hair algae Hi there, <Actually it's not There anymore, it's M. Maddox now. I had my name legally changed, it got too confusing> I emailed you a while back asking for some helpful advice with dealing with my hair algae problem, unfortunately it still persists and I'm wondering if you have any other good ideas? <I can try> Here's a recap: 1200 or so litre system comprising of a 6ft tank, 4ft sump, the sump is now split 50:50 refugium and bio ball filtration as per your suggestion, the refugium has some macro algae (Caulerpa) and also 3 mangroves, oh and a Picasso trigger lives there too. <Slowly take out all of the bioballs if you have enough LR to support the biological filtration (~ 1kg/15 liters)>  The sump also has a oxygenation chamber, i.e. water comes in and gets oxygenated to saturation. 2 x 250w halide lamps, 15k, recently replaced, Lighting is now decreased to 9am-->2pm (5 hours per day). <Not that great for corals, and light isn't the cause - bring it up to at least 8> Always use RO for water changes and red sea salt. Did a recent 50% water change (1 month ago) normally aim for 10-15% per month. <Larger water changes will ALWAYS help...> All values that I can measure seem good, nitrate and nitrite almost 0, ammonia 0. pH drops to maybe 7.9 at night and can rise to 8.4 during the day, I know there is a bit of fluctuation there. <Because of your 'oxygenation chamber' and dual skimmers, I would think you have very high concentrations of CO2 in the house...try cracking a window in the aquarium room> Temp 25.5 daytime 25.0 night. All controlled by an IKS pro I've been trying Algone as well as other generic phosphate absorbers, including Kent Phosphate Sponge and RowaPhos. I always run carbon and replace frequently. <Ditch the Algone, carbon + phosphate remover is recommended> Inhabitant wise I have: 4 yellow tang 4 various clowns Mandarin Red Sea cleaner wrasse Lots of hermits and snails 2 cleaner shrimp 1 large cowry 1 peppermint shrimp About 10 green Chromis (1inch long max) A few soft corals like medusa, pulse corals, etc., and they have spread well Various mushrooms, all of which thrive I run a pair of skimmers (one Deltec and one AquaMedic) which are over sized and do well in skimming lots of good brown scum. <good> I still have LOADS of hair algae and I'm really down hearted by it all, someone advised a calcium reactor as the side effect of the CO2 might help, another person advised a Kalk stirrer, it's all money and I don't mind spending the money but I don't want to shell out money and get no results, do you have any suggestions please? I'm desperate!!  <I would suggest picking up your pH anyway you can, to around 8.5-6 stable 24 hours a day. Getting more air movement into the room that the aquarium is housed will likely help, outside air would be even better. A calcium reactor is not going to help keep your pH elevated, in fact, it will make it harder to do so. A Kalk reactor hooked up to a dosing pump on a timer to dose at night will help a lot, as would increasing the photoperiod. Contrary to popular belief, lighting is NOT the limiting factor in algal growth! Might I recommend purchasing a 'Sea hare' (a Nudibranch that eats hair algae, can be found through most online vendors) and\or some 'pencil' or 'pincushion' sea urchins, as well as a bit less feeding, and larger\more frequent water changes. If you do only one thing, get that pH up and keep it up - likely this will cause it all to disappear in a few weeks. I had the same problem, and I fixed it with large frequent water changes and a high pH> Thanks <You're welcome, good luck!> Adam <M. Maddox>

Hair Algae Hi,  <Good day> I have a 120 gallon tank (100+pounds live rock, 200 gallon rated skimmer, multiple powerheads, 40 gallon refugium (mangroves, 3 or four different types of algae with the lighting running on opposite cycles from the main tank) which had been setup for 3 years until approx. 3 weeks ago when I moved. Up to that point the tank was balanced perfectly. My corals were thriving and my fish seemed as happy as you could be confined to 120 gallons. Anyway, I now have an issue with Hair Algae which prior to the move I didn't have. I have narrowed it down to the difference in the water that I have been using after the move to top off the tank. I will correct that problem by hooking my RO unit back up and performing some frequent water changes. My question is what type of fish will eat "Hair Algae" I have read that certain forms of hair algae are toxic to fish? Will a Sailfin Tang do the trick?  <Depends on the type of hair algae. I would try a Sailfin Blenny (Lawnmower Blenny) first.>  Will the Sailfin attack my cleaner shrimp?  <No>  Other fish ideas are welcomed since I don't want to have to grow my tank to 500 gallons to support the growth of the Sailfin. I really don't want to cut the lights on the tank because my corals will take a beating.  <I have posted a link on algae control which will help you. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)> 
Hair Algae Follow- up
  Follow up - I already have a very fat and happy algae blenny. I will acquire another house mate for him ( should I be concerned about them fighting?).  <No>  After reading through your site it seems that my "Hair Algae" is without a doubt Turtle Weed / Maiden's Hair Plant (Chlorodesmis sp.). Does this change your opinion on what would help with containing this? <Actually mail order shops sell this macro type algae as a means of controlling hair algae by getting the lion's share of the nutrients. I don't believe Sailfins will eat it, but not positive. If it is unappealing to you, just try to keep your nitrates/phosphates/excess food down to a minimum. There are some good FAQ's on the Wet Web in dealing with this. James (Salty Dog)> Other items in tank 75 hermit crabs 50 snails 2 cleaner shrimp 1 yellow tang 1 six line wrasse 1 bi color angel 1 red stripe angel 2 clowns 6 cardinals - (3 Kaudern's , 3 spotted) 1 sleeper banded goby 2 Barred Dartfish 2 sea cucumbers 6 peppermint shrimp in refugium Thanks again.  <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> 

Green Hair Algae Hi <Hello there> Would appreciate some pointers to the next steps in getting rid of green hair algae that has been present in my 100 galls reef tank for around three months, tank has been set up around 9 months and I am gradually introducing inverts, I am a novice to inverts and there care. I am performing a 15% water change every 2 weeks using RO water. Have a protein skimmer and UV sterilizer on 7*24. Have phosphate remover (Rowaphos) in an external canister filter, replaced every 6 weeks. Metal Halides are on 10 hours per day. I have a 20 gall sump with bio balls, I have not introduced any other algae such as Caulerpa as I am not sufficiently sure of what to do in this regard.  Water parameters seem good, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate all 0. KH around 8, I have only recently started to pay attention to calcium, it was about 300 three weeks ago but I am now ensuring it remains around 400. Phosphate was tested today and is zero. I feed my 9 fish twice a day, once with Mysis and then with "marine cuisine". I add phytoplankton to the water once a week. In addition, I feed a sun coral twice a week Mysis and a little phytoplankton. I have a clean up crew of 2 cleaner shrimp, 3 red legged hermit crabs, half a dozen snails and today I added a pincushion urchin. Today I set up an additional power head aimed directly at a particularly troublesome clump of algae in the hope that it dislikes the water movement. <It does> Not sure where to go next, I have read that removing bio balls from the sump could be a valid action although do not understand the science behind that. Perhaps adding Caulerpa is the next step or maybe a ton of snails and a couple of emerald crabs. Would appreciate some advice on my next steps please. <Mmm, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm scroll down to Algae, Control... and make a big pot of coffee/tea... and Read On! Bob Fenner> 
Re: Green Hair Algae
Bob Thank you for your reply although with all due respect a pointer to a web page with data relating to all conceivable aspects of marine aquaria is not too helpful. <Mmm, seemed the best way to refer you to the mix of possible inputs... chemical filtration, use of macrophyte competitors, biological controls...> I think my original email suggests that I am not completely clueless and have made some efforts to research the subject of green algae problems, I have implemented several initiatives gleaned from the web pages you identify but some assurance that I am on the right track would have been helpful. <Does seem like you are... sorry for the apparent terseness... To summarize, you DO seem to be "hitting on all cylinders"... with water changes, good skimming, use of Caulerpa... I would toss the bio-balls, give measures for soluble phosphate, any other measure for the "usual suspects" of chemical nutrients that are in your system and source water... the excess nitrogenous matter is likely being rapidly taken up by the Chlorophyte. There is still a myriad number of "things" that could be at play here.... Such that I encouraged and still encourage you to read through the general articles on "Algae", "Green Algae"... control... in the hopes that "something" will click. Hoping to be better understood, Bob Fenner> 

Hair algae from wet/dry 2/5/04  Hello,  I have a 55 gal reef tank that has been set up for about 14 months. I have a wet/dry with one layer of bio-balls and some nylon mesh below about four inches of crushed coral as a medium. I have a Turboflotor skimmer and currently have mesh bags of carbon, Phosban and Purigen as chemical filtration. Additional mechanical filtration comes from my pre-filter and filter pad on the drip plate. I have about 80 lbs of live rock and 50 lbs of live sand. There is a striped cardinal fish and a royal Gramma. I also have two banded coral shrimp, two lettuce Nudibranchs, a few Mithrax, blue leg and scarlet hermits, misc. snails and two Caribbean starfish. There are two ivory corals, two bubbles, a Galaxea, a pagoda, a cup, a pipe organ, a gorgonian, a long tentacle plate, some zoanthid polyps, pulsing xenia, three flower anemones, and two yellow tree sponges. The problem is that I have had a hair algae infestation for about the last 6 months. I do water changes of about 10-15 gallons 3 to 4 times a month. I recently removed each individual rock and scrubbed the algae off. I knew this to be a temporary fix, but figured if I stayed on top of the water changes that I would keep nutrient levels low enough that it wouldn't get the upper hand again. It is coming back thick as ever and I don't know what to do next. Water parameters are as follows: Ammonia <0.01 mg/l, Nitrate 1<5 mg/l, Nitrite 0.02<0.05 mg/l, PH 8.2, Alkalinity 9 dKH, sp. grav. 1.024, and temp 80. I am beginning to think that the crushed coral is building up nitrogen that the algae is binding so it is hardly detectable. I would think that the Phosban is removing any phosphates.  <I agree with your assessment that the algae is taking up the nutrients as fast as they are introduced. See comments below about your filtration set up.>  My question is: Do you think that my filter medium is the primary cause of the problem, and if so what should I do to fix it?  <I do think it is a major contributing factor. The highly aerobic nature of a wet dry favors the accumulation of nitrate, and unless you maintain them meticulously, filter pads accumulate detritus. Detritus in filter pads rots instead of being re-processed.>  I have a refugium in my garage that I have considered adding to the system. Do you think that my current filtration should be removed altogether and replaced with the refugium?  <I would definitely remove your current mechanical filtration/wet-dry set up. They are not necessary with the amount of live rock you have and are certainly contributing to your problem. When removing the wet/dry, remove each component (filter pads, bio balls, gravel) one at a time, about a week apart so that the bacteria in the live rock can increase to handle the load. While doing this, please monitor water quality and continue water changes. I am a fan of refugia, and it would probably be beneficial.>  One last note, my Turboflotor doesn't seem to pull all that much gunk out. It does good after I clean it which is about once a month. Do I have to step up the maintenance on the skimmer?  <If it works best after cleaning, you may want to do so more often. Also be sure that the air inlet tube is kept free of salt build up (letting it suck up some hot fresh water occasionally helps a lot). If working properly, a Turboflotor should be a very appropriate skimmer for a 55.>  Thank you very much for your time and any input. Sincerely, Quinn Whitten
<Always a great pleasure! Adam>

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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