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FAQs on Marine Algae and Their Control 1

Related Articles: Avoiding Algae Problems in Marine System Algae Control, Marine Maintenance, Nutrient Control and Export, Marine Scavengers, Snails, Hermit Crabs, Mithrax/Emerald Green Crabs, Sea Urchins, Blennies, Algae Filters, Ctenochaetus/Bristle Mouth Tangs, Zebrasoma/Sailfin Tangs, Skimmers, Skimmer Selection, Marine Algae, Coralline Algae, Green Algae, Brown Algae, Blue-Green "Algae"/(Cyanobacteria)Diatoms, Brown Algae

Related FAQs: Marine Algae Control 2, Marine Algae Control 3, Marine Algae Control 4, Marine Algae Control 5, Marine Algae Control 6, Marine Algae Control 7, Marine Algae Control 8, Marine Algae Control 9, Marine Algae Control 10, Marine Algae Control 11, Marine Algae Control 12, Marine Algae Control 13, Marine Algae Control 14, Marine Algae Control 15, SW Algae Control 16, SW Algae Control 17, SW Algae Control 18, SW Algae Control 19, SW Algae Control 20, SW Algae Control 21, Marine Algicide Use, Nutrient Limitation, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; Controlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Green Algae, Brown/Diatom Algae, Phosphate

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Hi there,

I tend to get algae build-up on the front of my glass. I have only just begun in marines, but I hear it is a common problem. Can't I just turn the skimmer up to make sure the water gets cleaner or is there a lot more to it than that?

Thanks Bob,

Alison  Marsden

Ahh, Alison, if we only had the magic potion for helping folks avoid noisome algae problems First off, Id like to state that almost all systems have some algae problem particularly at first set up, when various organism groups are sorting themselves out, engaged in food and space wars. Established systems however, should be carefully observed to avoid having algae become predominant, particularly toxic forms like Blue-Green Algae (aka Cyanobacteria).

            How best to keep algae in check? Really first and foremost through avoidance of conditions that favour their proliferation; here were talking mainly nutrient avoidance. Careful feeding, rinsing of frozen/defrosted foods, using RO, perhaps RO/DI water if your mains water has a good deal of nitrate and/or phosphate.

            Utilizing appropriate algae eating organisms can be of use, though, it is important to study re the various clean up crew selection possibilities to assure they can/will thrive in your system and not be consumed by your other livestock.

            A very appropriate means of algae control is the growing of other algae Macro types like Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha are very popular presently, and can be grown in the main display tank or better in a tied-in sump/refugium with its own lighting on an alternate lighting schedule than the main system. Such algae control less desirable types by using nutrient and producing chemicals that have physiological limiting/allelopathogenic effects.

            Another very useful technique is using a Deep Sand Bed to precipitate out nutrient as well as provide Protist predator populations that consume pest algae.

            For advanced systems, the use of Ultraviolet Sterilization and/or Ozonizer can raise RedOx levels, greatly improving water quality in a few ways, including almost assured avoidance of free floating and attached pest algal species.

            Lastly Ill mention the use, periodic change-out of chemical filtrants These can serve to semi-selectively absorb nutrients that may fuel algae growth.

            Keeping your skimmer tuned helps a good deal, but of and by itself (unless youre running ozone in conjunction with it), wont keep a system algae-free.

Crazy Algae Can't get rid of this dark green algae covering my substrate and now slowly on my live rock.  I have a 55g tank with about 50lbs of live rock.  My substrate is kind of awkward as I didn't do my homework before I bought it.   It's about 4 inches of a mixture of dolomite, marine sand, and Arag alive crushed coral.  Lighting is NO fluorescents for now.  I have a 500gph mag drive in a 20L sump in the bottom with a Red Sea Berlin Classic Protein Skimmer.  I add and change carbon weekly,<Filter pads need to be cleaned/changed weekly also.> and use some filter cartridges at the bottom of the drain output.  I recently added some Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria in my sump and run the fluorescent light down there for about 18 hours.  In the main tank I just run the NO for about 10 hours.  I have a crazy amount of dark green algae growing everywhere.  I only have 3 fish, 2 Damsels and One Blue Hippo Tang.  I vacuum the substrate weekly and change almost 15% of the water weekly. Ammonia, Nitrate, and Nitrite test out zero so I thought it might be a phosphate problem.  I bought a red sea phosphate kit from my LFS and the colors doesn't even match up to the color card.  It should be yellow for zero phosphates, and various shades of green for traces of phosphate, instead I get a very light blue color instead.  I am just using tap water that I just run for a few days with a heater and a BioWheel filter with carbon to prep the water for water changes.  I would think that I am doing everything right but yet I am still getting these ridiculous amounts of algae blooms within a day or two after the water changes.  I even cut back significantly on feeding, just feeding bits of the Gracilaria to the blue tang, and feeding every other day a little bit of brine shrimp to the damsels.  Is there something I am missing here?  <Do a WWM Google search, keyword "algae control".  Tons of info here to help you.  James (Salty Dog)>

Brown Algae In refugium - 06/11/05 Hey guys, <<Howdy>> I looked for a similar Q&A to this...couldn’t find any. <<Really?>> I have a new setup cycling for about a month.  I inadvertently had the light running on the refugium w/out anything but Miracle Mud in there.  I developed a light coat of brown/rust algae.  My question is after trying to skim it out and adding some Caulerpa, will this stuff go away? PS:  79 gallon bow front, 3 chamber sump/custom w/AquaC 120 w/ Mag 700, and a 5 gallon refugium with 20lbs of Miracle-Mud, 80 or so lbs of live rock. <<Sounds like you're experiencing the natural succession of algae associated with cycling a tank.  Given time and good water flow the algae should subside.  Please have a read here re tank cycling:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm>> Thanks very much, Ken <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Re: Dark Brown Algae Thanks for your advice, I also did another 5 gallon water change last night and really cleaned up the sand bed good.  The algae didn't come back last night, we'll see how it looks today. One last thing I wanted to ask because aside from the dead anemone that polluted my water, I had also recently removed the filter media pad out of my overhead drip filtration system and I was wondering if that was a wise thing to do?  It seemed to catch a lot of the waste in the water because it would get brown after just a few days. After doing some research on your site I read that some corals feed on what is in the water; I have green star polyps, various zoo's, and mushrooms. The only thing I plan on adding are a few hermits (like 5) and a yellow devils hand. <If the pad is changed weekly, it does more good than bad for the system.  There will always be some dissolved nutrients in the water regardless.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Jimmy

Algae problem My 55 gallon tank is three months old.  The only fish is a splendid Dottyback, no corals.  I can't seem to figure out why I'm getting so much brown algae on my sand and rocks, and green algae on my glass.  Nitrates, Phosphates & Silicates all read zero and I have a refugium with Chaeto.  I have a Mag7 for a return with two Seio 620 powerheads for circulation.  Do I have enough flow or is my tank just too new?   <Ahh! Mostly this last> Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Tyler <Do read (re-read) over the algae and their control sections on WWM... other things you can do... but time going by is best here. Bob Fenner>

When Good Algae Go Bad! (Nuisance Algae Control) Crew : My 100-gallon reef recently experienced an amazing explosion of microalgae, somewhat breathtaking if it weren't for the obviousness nastiness involved. <I can appreciate that! Scott F. with you today.> I know what caused it, mostly, and I was hoping to get some idea from you guys exactly why it happened. The algae in question are Chlorodesmis fastigiata and Valonia macrophysa (turtle and pearl <bubble>), from what I can tell. <Yikes! Valonia is at the top of my "All Star" nuisance algae list...Are you sure that you're dealing with Chlorodesmis (aka "Turtle Weed")? It's generally not considered one of the easier microalgae to grow, as it requires intense light and lots of water movement. Unfortunately, most herbivores tend to avoid this algae, as it does contain some noxious predator-inhibiting substances, so manual extraction is generally the way to remove it. You're certain that this is not Bryopsis? This is a very common misidentification...> Live rock is about a 100lbs of Fiji, and about 100 lbs of live, sugar-fine aragonite sand. It's a very lightly stocked tank (baby Royal Gramma, 2 small Tomato Clowns, and a medium Regal Tang.) I've focused mainly on softies, with a few LPS corals hanging out around the bottom. Params are : sal 1.024 (via refract), temp 83 F, Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate 0/0/0, and phosphate 0. Of course, these 0 readings mean that my test kit simply can't detect any, I'm sure there are lingering amounts of these substances. <True, but it's a very nice trend to see> I run a canister filter with 4 bags of ChemiPure and 4 Poly Filters, rinsing thoroughly every week and replacing 1/4 of both filter media at the same time. <Good habit there!> Water changes are once every week or two, about 15%, with phosphate free and nitrate free water. I've actually cut back on the nutrients going into the tank in the last 4 months or so, before this green explosion began. I quit using Marine Snow and DT's, and feed the fish less than I used to. <Another excellent habit> The only thing I've changed in this time period has been the lights! I used to run 230 watts of CF, 1/2 10,000K and 1/2 Actinic 03 blue. During this time I had to look really hard to see any green micro algae at all. About 3 months ago I side-graded to a DIY 440 watt VHO setup, with an IceCap 660 ballast and 2 URI Actinic VHOs and 2 Ott Lites from Home Depot. Ott Lites, according to the cranky customer service rep I grilled on the phone, are full spectrums that run around 5200K with a CRI of around 92ish. My softies and zoanthids started growing bigger and faster, and my hammerhead LPS starting growing much faster. All of the 'good' things seem to be doing very well with the new lighting arrangement. So, my first question is this (finally) : Are these low-temp bulbs from Home Depot the culprit? And, exactly why? I know that green algae prefer the reddish colors present at a higher percentage in these lower temp bulbs (if I recall, 600-780ish nm wavelengths), but how could this cause such an explosion? I've pulled out about 8 lbs of green stuff - algae I could get my hands on - and a lot more stubbornly sticks to almost everything. It's so bad it's almost funny - the usually egg-sized Mr. Snail is about the size of a baseball, most of which is an afro-like growth of algae on his shell. I've uncovered lost colonies of zoanthids - like discovering a lost Mayan city - by pulling out fistfuls of green stuff. <My position on nuisance algae outbreaks is that the root cause is almost always excesses of nutrients AND available light, as you no doubt have concluded yourself. Yes, certain wavelengths of light are more "useful" to algae, and will grow them better, but I'd be hesitant to blame just the lights. Interestingly, even though both of these algae are regarded as "pests" in the aquarium, neither is generally regarded as strictly a result of poor husbandry. In other words, they can flourish even in well-maintained tanks! Unfortunately, manual extraction is generally regarded as the best method of ridding your tank of these annoying algae. A slow siphon equipped with a toothbrush, or careful use of a tweezers can help. Some species of Naso and Zebrasoma tangs will occasionally dine on these algae, but they do get quite large. Complete elimination may not be possible, but you may be able to reduce them to a point where they will not dominate the tank!> I have bubble algae that grew so quickly and forcefully that pearls of it grew into and was surrounded by the flesh of saddle leathers. My tomato clowns don't hide in the rock work any more - they just hover in forests of green like they're nestled in a bubble tip anemone! <Grr...Again, manual extraction is probably the best way. Continued attention to good husbandry is also helpful. Unfortunately, the best way to avoid this stuff is to very carefully screen new live rock to prevent it from getting into the tank to begin with. It doesn't take much of a "seed" culture to get the outbreak going. Perhaps even removal of the affected rock with intense scrubbing in a separate container may be the only to rid your tank of these guys. They generally arrive as "hitchhikers" on live rock, and don't just appear in otherwise algae free systems.> The second question I have is : why if my phosphates and nitrates are so low, can just low temp lighting cause this explosion? <I'd be surprised, myself. Very accurate phosphate test kits (like Merck, Hach, or LaMotte) can reveal the presence of a lot more phosphate than you might think. It takes so little of this compound to trigger nuisance algae growth. On the other hand, you don't seem to have problems with any of the more common nuisance algae, so these levels may truly be in check. Do continue to also monitor pH, alkalinity, and temperature as part of your routine> I thought that both lighting and nutrients were needed, and in the absence of one the overabundance of the other wouldn't matter. Apparently I am wrong ! Thanks for clearing this up - SLC <Well, Shannon, since you have nothing to lose at this point, why not bravely experiment with different lighting to see if it makes a difference in your case? I would be a bit surprised if this makes a huge difference, but you never know. In then end, you may need to resort to continued tedious manual extraction or possibly replacing the affected rock. Either way, don't stop your excellent husbandry habits. You can and will get through this. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> 

Anotrichum barbatum (The Red Scourge!) - 05/17/05 I have what looks like red turf algae. Anotrichum barbatum was the name I was given. <Is a red turf algae, yes.> Is there anything I can do to get rid of it? All parameters are optimal (0 or correct levels). Lighting is 300 watts of VHO, HOB refugium, and a mini 606 power head. This tank is a 20L. Current inhabitants are a clown, Kenya tree, BTA, lawn mower blenny, misc. blenny, scarlet hermits and blue leg hermits. <You need much more flow, especially with that BTA. Please increase water flow to 10x-20x the tank volume.> Is there something I can put in there that will eat it? Possibly a Nudibranch of sort? <Not likely. This algae can be very troublesome to eradicate. Elevate your pH to 8.6 and keep it there for several weeks, this has proven successful for some. I would also recommend adding a protein skimmer to help with nutrient export...an AquaC Remora would serve you well here.> Thank you very much, Stephen. <Very welcome, Eric R.>

Nasty Nuisance Algae and Mysterious Fish Fatalities! Scott, <Hey there!> It's been awhile, how are you doing? Still drinking a lot of your tea? <Doing great! As a matter of fact- we just mixed up a batch of Thai tea yesterday...I'm amped and rearin' to go! LOL> Well I have been having problems with both of my salt water tanks. I have done everything I can think of and have had some help from a guy that I get my fish and all from. <Always nice to have local help!> The 125 gallon: Back during Christmas, I bought a Foxface, Bi-color Angel, Turbo snails a Lawnmower (Blenny) and put them in this tank. All of the snails but two out of eight were dead the next morning. The Foxface was dead the next day. The Bi-Color made for about a month. The Lawn Mower lasted awhile, but even through he had more algae than the law would allow he died too. What's up with that??? <Hmm...One or two random losses can be attributed to bad acclimation, poor selection, or maybe a sick fish. However, a "wipeout" like this generally could be the result of some sort of toxic tank condition, or really poor quality livestock (either collected/shipped improperly or mishandled by the dealer)...> It also has been having a real big hair algae problem. We did a real big water change and I now have a RO water system that I am using. I had him check my water after we did all the above a few weeks later and it looked great. <Did you check phosphates...? Nitrate?> Well the hair algae is growing on my back glass again and it's getting pretty bad. I don't want it to get as bad as before so I wanted ask you if you had any ideas. <As you're probably aware from reading WWM, nuisance algae problems are almost always caused by excess nutrients somewhere in the system. Are you doing regular, small water changes, or did you do a few large ones? Prior to acquiring your RO unit, were you using tap water? Tap water can have a lot of nutrients present that can lead to nuisance algae blooms. Are you doing aggressive protein skimming and getting some yucky skimmate on a regular basis? Re-visit the history on this tank, the source water, and consider possible events that could lead to some form of toxin being introduced (just getting back to the mysterious fish deaths). The answers are there.> <P>My 75 gallon: Back during Christmas I bought a Coral Beauty and it didn't last but a couple of weeks. As you can see I spent a lot of money during Christmas on fish and well I have nothing to show for it. <Yikes...> Around $300 gone, but what upset me the most was that my fish died - it really bothers me when something I am in care of dies. <I can understand that!> Well, this tank out of no where started growing Caulerpa. (Well it was taking over my tank, the guy at the fish shop said it was real good for keeping you nitrate down.) <It is useful if you harvest it regularly, and pay careful attention to its needs...> I gave him a lot of it and a couple weeks later had him come and take some more because it was taking over my tank again. <A familiar story...> Along with that, this tank has red algae growing on my glass. Also there is some kind of green algae that looks like real real small green balls, or you may want to call it really small green bubbles stuck together making mounds. What kind is this and what can I do to get rid of this algae? <Well, it sounds like you're looking at Cyanobacteria and some other form of nuisance algae. Again, the roots of almost all nuisance algae blooms are excesses of nutrients in the system. Look into your husbandry habits again, and consider your feeding techniques and bioload in the tank. Do look into our sections on the WWM on tank maintenance and nutrient control and export processes for more information than I can provide here in this brief response...> Please help? Keep the tea coming, we need the help!!!! Teri <Well, Teri...This one is gonna require a little detective work and some tweaking on your part. I think that you really need to re-visit your husbandry techniques and some of the sources that you obtained your livestock from...The answers are there! Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Cyanobacteria and Green Hair Algae, reading WWM Hi WWM Crew, <Paul> Firstly this is the best information site I have found, keep up the great work. <Will endeavour to do so> I have a 72 Gallon marine tan with a 20 Gallon sump. I currently have 80 lbs of live rock and aragonite as substrate. My return pump is a Mag-950 and I have two other 300 GPH powerheads in the main tank for circulation. Other equipment is 9 watt UV sterilizer, Berlin Red Sea Turbo skimmer, 1/2 HP Chiller and usual heater. Live stock consists of 2 Percula Clowns happily living in a green bubble tip, a yellow tang, Kole tang (tangs are best friends), 2 yellow tail blue damsels, sic line wrasse and a colt coral. Cleaner crew consists of approx 20 hermit crabs and 30 snails. My system was perfect until a month ago when I upgraded my PC lighting with the Aqualight Pro metal halide system. After a few days I noticed a diatom dusting. I was told this would subside in about two weeks as it did when I first set up my tank. It has now been over a month. The diatoms are getting worse and my tank is now being overtaken by green hair algae and incredible amounts of Cyano bacteria. The tank as gone from a spectacular display to an ugly mess. I do 15 gallon water changes every two weeks and I never add any harmful chemicals to eliminate the bacteria or algae. Please help! What can I do? <Mmm, read on WWM re... these two algae groups... their control alternatives... You understand the role of the light triggering what you have... perhaps nutrient implications... a few ways you could go... Read on. Bob Fenner> Paul Sangha

Algae and Skimmer advice Hello to my marine aquarium heroes -- and thanks for your time in keeping up this site!, <Welcome> I am at a seemingly dead end and need some advice on a red slime problem in my tank -- I've looked at enough photos online to be convinced I have Cyanobacteria.  The slime seems to accumulate on the substrate and the live rock within 1-2 days of my siphoning or blasting with a turkey baster.  It has really started getting out of hand the last two weeks.  I believe I am a relatively "light" feeder -- small pinch of flake food or 1/2 tablet of frozen, twice a day -- and although I am using tap water (typically mixed 2-3 weeks before needed), I am showing no nitrates and less than 0.1 phosphates coming out of the tap. <... have you read on WWM re Cyano, control?> My first potential culprit is my skimmer (Aqua C Remora, upgrade to Maxijet pump).  While mine produces about 1/8 cup of light green tea skimmate daily, it is much less than I have seen suggested in many of your responses. <The "rule of thumb" statements re amounts of skimmate to be expected are misleading> I purchased the collection box to better skim the surface but have not noticed a gain in performance.  Upon emailing Aqua C, I was told that it may just be due to the low bioload but after reading hours of faq's on WWM, I'm not sure that advice is correct. <I am> I don't believe there are any adjustments I could make to my skimmer so I'm wondering how to tell if I have a bad one. <Very unlikely... I know of Jason Kim, his skimmers... very well... they are consistent, well-made products> I purchased this skimmer because of the general high opinion of its performance so if it is working properly, I must be doing something else to lower its performance. <Mmm, no... I'd explore other avenues... test your source, system water for nutrients, look for delimiting them, use countervailing strategies... BGA can be beaten with understanding, a strategy> I bought the canister filter at the suggestion of my LFS but after reading some of your responses, I'm thinking I may be better removing it.  In my attempt to avoid creating too many nitrates from it, I clean the filter and all levels every two weeks. <Perhaps too infrequently> I take care to only clean the rock level of the filter with old aquarium water so as not to completely destroy the bacteria colony.  The rest I wash thoroughly in tap water.  Would you suggest removing the canister filter now or sometime in the near future? <Will have to see what other filtration, set-up, maintenance...> I plan on purchasing additional live rock (I will certainly cure it in a separate tank!) to help with the water quality, hiding space, visual appeal, etc.   <This will help for sure> My particulars: -75 gallon: setup early January 2005 -Coralife PC lights (260 watts: 130w 10k, 130w actinic) Added 6-8 weeks ago. Used standard bulb that came with tank setup for the first couple of months (skimmer took precedence of my $). -45 lbs live rock + 30 lbs dry rock -Eheim 2217 canister filter with carbon added -2 Maxijet 900 powerheads -4-5 inches of aragonite substrate Live stock: -Red flame hawk; Yellow tang (small); False Percula clown; Royal Dottyback -10 hermit crabs; 30 snails Water Quality: Ammonia: 0; Nitrite: 0; PH: 8.2; Nitrate: 10-20; Phosphate: 0.1; <You want this to be near zip> SG: 1.023 Carbonate Hardness: 200+ (this puzzles me because it consistently reads so high) Change 10 gallons of water every 2 weeks Oceanic Salt Your guidance is certainly appreciated! Brad <I'd look into growing some purposeful macroalgae... perhaps a sump/refugium, a DSB... many other possibilities... Use WWM my friend... read our articles, of others similar experiences... peace of mind is only a few hours away. Bob Fenner>

Hair Algae I have a 180 liter marine tank <That is about 45 gallons.> with: 5 assorted hermit crabs, 8 snails (Trochus and turbo), six-line wrasse, fireball angel, blue cheek goby, scooter blenny, 2 common clowns and a yellow tang. I do a 12.5% water change every two weeks with R.O water. I have an Eheim 2233, internal Juwel filter, sander maxi-skim 400 skimmer and a powerhead for extra movement. My readings are: pH 8.1, phosphate 0, nitrate 0, ammonia little above 0 and nitrite 0.25. <Both ammonia and nitrite should be undetectable and your pH seems just a bit low. Are you getting good production from your skimmer? I am familiar with Sander's, but not this particular model. Ideally, you should fill your collection cup almost daily with a dark coffee like skimmate.> However, nothing has been added for months. I have a thick growth of hair algae over a lot of rocks, and a reddish film that covers the sand. <Sounds like hair algae and Cyanobacteria.> It returns within a day of vacuuming the coral sand. How can I control the algae (after lowering the readings)? <Do double check that your RO unit is functioning properly, that the prefilter have been replaced on schedule, check when your lamps were last replaced, watch your feedings, and check the skimmer production. I would physically remove as much as possible and step up the water changes for the time being, 25% weekly until the situation is resolved.> After the readings are ok, could I add a sponge decorator crab? Would he get on with everybody? <Hard to predict. Your other inverts would be the most at risk.> I'm putting in a 3rd fluorescent tube 30w, at the moment. Many thanks, James Matthams <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Red filamentous nuisance algae Dear Bob, <reefer, Anthony Calfo in your service ("aquarium" reefer, that is)> I made it through the Caulerpa debacle (the racemosa mostly died but the feather survived OK-you were right that one variety might survive while another might die) but since I introduced it, I've had this red filamentous algae. I wish I had washed the algae before putting it in. The red stuff started growing on the racemosa and then spread to the rest of the system. I don't see anyone asking about red filamentous nuisance algae on your FAQ's (I skimmed over them--I think I saw something on your nuisance algae section). It dies overnight and then by the end of the day, there's GOBS of it covering everything and floating on the top. It has LOTS of bubbles too.  <hmmmm... the bubbles are a bit of a giveaway. Is it also a bit slimy/gelatinous? If so, you couldn't find this "algae" is because it is commonly referenced in popular literature as a "dinoflagellate" (...whatever!). It has been shown to wane under conditions of increased (high) pH like with Kalkwasser use and high Redox (controlled ozonation). It also flares under converse conditions (low O2, lower ph<under 8.3>, etc from poor husbandry or bio-overload> I remove as much as I can of it every day and try to disrupt it. It has been about a few weeks now and I'm starting to think it's here to stay, not just a bloom. <nope...just a symptom. Correct the above described problem and watch it go away in 2 weeks> The good thing is that my nitrates are no longer high but I think that is because we increased the outflow on the protein skimmer and it's skimming like crazy.  <excellent and agreed> Nitrates .2, nitrites=0, alkalinity was 5, Ca=550, <calcium is unbelievably high...check the accuracy of your kit against another brand of kit (yours sounds aged or erroneous). And your alkalinity is too low which is depressing the pH which is contributing to the prosperity of the dinoflagellate> temp=78, pH is weird. A few days ago it was 8.0 (perhaps a morning reading?) and last night it's 8.2.  <way too low...target 8.3 night, 8.6 peak day> Not sure what to make of it and will monitor it. The only other changes are adding Tech CB-a and B (they're additives but I thought mostly for calcium, strontium etc.).  <good, but correct alkalinity with buffer before using two part mixes> Coralline has mostly died under our new power compacts. Power compacts were there around a month before this red algae problem started. Tang has a few black spots this morning so all is probably not well. <the black spots are actually a worm... slow to kill and cure, needs 4 week quarantine with antiparasitic meds> Here's the basic tank info. I've had it a year. 125 gallon, wet/dry with BioBale (can remove this soon--skittish until all this settles), approx 100 lb LR, carbon filter, AquaC 180 protein skimmer (love it), washing out the DLS in the overflow weekly. Livestock: 1 Naso tang, 3 damsels, 2 cleaner shrimp. The tang loves green algae so that would be great. He doesn't like the red stuff and that covers everything by the end of the day. <actually...some such Dinoflagellates are toxic and will kill fish if eaten> Are my only options phosphates and overfeeding?  <contributory> I don't use any lotions etc. Is this red algae solving my nitrate problem?  <nope> Anything other potential causes? Given the amount my skimmer is working, <keep skimming daily or you'll get buried in algae> I would like to keep giving the Ca supplements. We'd like to get an anemone  <I truly hope that you never do... most are unsuitable for collection or captivity> someday and I fear this stuff will suffocate it so I'd like to control it. Thanks, Allyson <agreed...and should be no trouble. Have faith, my dear. With kind regards, Anthony Calfo>
Re: red filamentous nuisance algae
Anthony, Boy am I glad I asked! I was hoping this would just pass! So if I just add some baking soda, will that do the trick?  <nope... only raises the temporary pH but can be driven down quickly. Kalkwasser used properly has many more benefits (free calcium, precipitates phosphates, improves protein skimming, etc)> Last time, I added too much (3 tbsp) and the pH went up very fast and I think the fish did not respond well. <Aieee! Dangerous> I'll try to add less this time and watch it, OK? So a fluctuation of .3 is OK? <please don't use it at all...and any increase of more than .1 is beginning to push your luck. I add enough Kalkwasser solution daily to raise my pH by no more than .1 pH is a logarithmic scale and slight changes are quite stressful> So has anyone aquacultured anemones? I'm sorry to hear having them damages the environment. My husband really wants one. <they will/should be some of the first animals restricted for wild collection. As it pertains to you, most are quite difficult and expensive to keep... you need full blown reef lighting to sustain most. And since most people don't want to invest $300-1000 in lighting for one anemone, we have a bunch of anemones that only survive a few years if months at all in most tanks>> Regarding Ca, if we don't add anything, the kit (Seachem) says 440. We added 20 ml each of parts A and B and that raised it to 550 and we get nicer coralline growth. We don't test with distilled water. Could that give erroneous readings? <possibly...but I think your test kit is simply bogus (Seachem has a reputation for being hard to read accurately). Over 500ppm is scary high and very difficult to actually attain in closed systems without a crystalline precipitate. Try testing on an Aquarium Systems Calcium Reef Test kit... I think you'll be surprised (it is also quite easy to read)> Thanks, Allyson <di niente, Anthony>

Algae Dear Bob, <Sorry, but you reached Steven Pro.  Anthony Calfo and I have been asked to help out and answer some of the daily questions.> I have been a marine aquarist for over 30 years.   The first time in my aquarium career I have a green hair algae problem.  I have read the section on the WWMedia. Nice article.  I resorted to de-nitrate and Phosguard (first time I've ever used these products).  In using these products for 6 to 7 weeks, I see no improvement (also doing 5% water changes weekly).  My water parameters are all fine. <This is a pet peeve of mine from working retail.  Once someone told me they tested their water and everything was fine, but they were still having problems.  So I asked further for specific numbers and they told me 1.022.  Nothing else.  Ever since then I have been a little skeptical.  You have been in the hobby for awhile, so I assume you have tested for more than just specific gravity.  But sometimes people do not test for everything I might want to know about and sometimes there are subtle things that can be inferred from the actual numbers.> My tank is a Simplicity Plus 180.  Water movement is by way of three Rio 2100's (692gph at head).  I am using no bio balls.  I am using carbon along with a AquaC protein skimmer.  The only thing I can think of is my bio load is too large.  What do you think.  Three medium to large tangs (blue, Sailfin, and yellow), a heraldi  angel, Pakistani angel, large maroon clown, Hawkfish (medium),  Dottyback, two small yellow tail damsels.  All fish have been in the system two to three years except for the yellow tang and heraldi. <Stocking seems fine.> I use RO water for my water changes.  I use polyester pads in the modules to trap detritus (change weekly), also clean my skimmer weekly. <Your skimmer should be producing so that you have to clean it several times per week.> Photo period is eight hours with two VHO 160's and two forty watt tubes.  The tank is also situated next to a large bow window.  The funny thing is, I've changed from a 150 gallon with external wet/dry to the Simplicity Plus back in September of this year.  Either by coincidence or reason, my problems started with the changeover.  I also have 150-180 lbs of live rock, lots of pulse coral and mushroom coral, two anemones, two sps corals and other softies.  Sorry for the lengthy note but I wanted to try to cover all the bases. <More information is always preferable to less.> Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <You have nutrients accumulating from somewhere.  I can throw out a few ideas.  When was the last time you change your RO prefilters?  Look at your feeding routine.  Is there any extra food turning up in the polyester pads?  Are you adding some sort of supposed invert food for your corals?  Some are OK when dosed properly and some are pollution in a bottle.  Try to think about anything that is making its way into your tank.> Thank you so much Bob, Jim Gasta <I hope I have been helpful.  -Steven Pro> 

Ten gallon marine system algae problems I have had my ten gallon salt tank set up for years and two months ago I decided to switch the animals in it. I had a lot of anemone's in the tank and took them out and put polyp rocks in. I have a body clownfish, blue star, snail, two scarlet hermits, two emerald crabs. ever since I put the star polyp rocks in I have gotten algae problem and can't get rid of it. I have a sea clone skimmer and a millennium filter, I clean the cup for the skimmer every day. the green hair algae came first and it started to die off and like dark brown algae grew over it then it died out a little and the green came back a little, but it is not really green its kinda dark brown too. I clean the millennium filter pad more often and I tried changing the water more then once a week and it didn't really help. I have to use tap water because I don't really have a choice, so could that be the problem? <Yes... at least to some extent... It's hard to manage such a small volume as ten gallons... and you did a big change in switching out the life in such a long-established system... In fact, it may take changing out the gravel/substrate and/or adding/changing a bit to a bunch of live rock to re-establish some sort of balance here.> should I get a small powerhead and put it in there just to see if even more water flow would make a difference? <It might well> the two filters I have in there move the water good though. the polyps are all acting fine but the xenia polyps are on a tree like frame and on the top they get the dark brown algae on it? the crabs don't really help at all, I even stir up the sand but the algae will still come back's even got rid of a lot of the sand so the layer isn't as thick. one thing is that the tank is in almost direct sunlight for a couple hours during the winter with the tree's leaves not being there to block the sun. please help!! <Please read through the various algae, control, maintenance sections posted on WetWebMedia.com starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm to gain a better understanding of what you're up against, what your choices in developing a control strategy are. Bob Fenner>

ALGAE hello am having big problems with algae...I have a 20 gallon tank and about 20 pounds of live rock and 1 lawnmower blenny...my LFS told me to put Phosguard in so I did but that didn't seem to help much...a couple of days ago I took out some live rock and scrubbed it with a tooth brush to get ride of some of the algae...another LFS told me to get a tang some hermit crabs and some snails to control the algae but am just afraid that the LFS are just trying to sell me stuff that I might not need.... the tank is only 1 month old....I just need some help getting rid of the algae...any suggestions would greatly be appreciated....thanks nick <Want to offer you all I have on the subject... Please start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm continuing on with the other articles, FAQs files as you lead yourself through them. Give me a ring back if you have specific concerns beyond. Bob Fenner>
ok I have read a lot on the site about algae and how to control its growth...but I have a new question now how can you get the coralline algae to grown good...I have some coralline algae on some of the live rock...what do you think would be a good way to get it to grow better...thanks nick <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corallinealg.htm and the associated FAQs file. Bob Fenner>

Mystery tank type... with algae! I have green algae starting to grow on my rocks an tank. the tank has been set up for two years the water I quality is fine when I check it. the algae is long green clumps. are there any snails or others things that will take care of this. <Likely need to "re-set" the balance in this system... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the FAQs, links beyond. Bob Fenner>

Marine Algae Control... System Set-up, maintenance... further introspections into the nature of truth Hi Bob I really wish that my tank operated more smoothly so that I wouldn't have to keep contacting you for all these negatives.  <Mmm, at some point/time you will know, practice "more" and find your system is much more self-regulating.> My tank and its algae problem is out of control. I am doing water changes, I'm trying everything that is suggested. I keep my levels balanced, I keep everything as clean as possible. I find a lot of information that contradicts others. <... per the last sentence... keep studying... when you understand the underlying logic, facts behind these opinions, you will be able to/make up your own mind, path> Here's my question. I was talking to someone at work about my freshwater tanks. I mentioned the headaches that my saltwater is giving me. She said she had the same problems a few years back, and her son (who works in a national chain pet store) told her to just leave the algae be, and get a ton of snails and they will take care of things. He told her to let the algae bloom? <One method... to let the algae "run out" of chemical resources...> She thinks that I'm trying to keep the tank too clean and that maybe I should let the algae go. But she also told me she feeds her fish only once a day (flake food only) and uses tap water to fill her tank. She adds salt when she needs to. She suggested that I also stop bleaching my rocks, and just worry about the walls of the tanks. <Try it out> I get so sick of looking at the tank. 12 hours after I've cleaned it you can't tell. The green stuff is so thick and nasty. And the worms seem to draw to it. I've had snails in the past and they all died. The crabs don't help, nor the starfish. I guess my question is really who do I listen to? <Yourself> I know I should pick one person and listen to only them. But I've tried what the people at the pet store tell me, and I'm getting nowhere. Could it hurt if I buy a bunch of snails and let the algae grow? I'd appreciate anything you suggest. Even if it's what I don't want to hear. Thanks, Mandi <Thank you for writing. Am sure you will settle on a plan that will satisfy. My input on Algae, Control, and many other people's experiences (FAQs) can be found starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Me again :) (marine algae control) Hey Guys, Jason C or Robert, <Good evening> I told you you would not be rid of me that easily:) I have just spent a few hours going over your listings of Algae control and the such on your wonderful site. (PS I teach web design here in Toronto at our University and have used your site as an example on a few occasions of how nicely the information is laid out) <Yikes... Jason and Zo are the "real thing" computer-wise, Mike's studying... I'm a beginner...> My tank is progressing and apparently going through yet another cycle as now the brown diatoms are gone, and yes you guessed it, I have an outbreak of Green Hair Algae. I have looked into various options what are your feelings about Dolabella auricularia, the Japanese sea slug, I believe. I have been reading a number of postings on other sites yes traitorous I know) and that they have had great success with them. Any thoughts? <These can work... if the system is big enough, a blenny is better for the job> My next question is in regards to the hermit crab. The way that I have my live rock positioned is such that the topmost branch is level with the water. The Hermit crab always seems to move to the topmost level and proceed to spend several hours out of the water. The rest of the hermit crabs seem content to remain submerged. Is this a common occurrence? <Yes... some species of Hermits used in the interest are more amphibious than permanently aquatic> Next I have my Percula and a Tomato clown in the tank. They are always rubbing up against each other and appear to be going through some sort of mating ritual. They are acting exactly the same as my male and female Bettas in the freshwater tank. Does this happen? They are both ignoring the E. Quadricolor though. Go figure. <Mmm, yes... friends only... they don't interbreed.> Ok that's it. Nice and short for today. Cheers. Julian Hunt Toronto, Canada. <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Algae Control I have a 58 Oceanic marine tank that has been up for 3mos. I have 2 PJ cardinals, 45 Turbos, 45 hermits, <This is a lot of hermits, snails> 2 mollies, 1 arrow crab, <Keep your eye on this crab. Read here please: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/swcrabs.htm and the FAQs beyond> and 2 emerald crabs. I do a 5 gal change every Friday using only R.O. water and I use Ehfisubstrat, Ehfi-Mech, and Black Diamond carbon in my Ecco 2233. I also have a protein skimmer and a metal halide. There is a strip light that has a sun-Glo in it also. I plan to put an actinic in when I start adding corals. My problem in this seemingly made in heaven fish paradise is algae. 1 day after my water change, it is so heavy on the glass, you can hardly see in. It is also thick on the crushed coral. The Turbos seem to eat it but they are more concerned w/getting the live rock which is also covered w/it, only it's more like grass (it's not hair algae). By the way, I also have a 54 corner tank w/a 20K and a full actinic that is an incredible show piece. Why no problems w/that one (exact same filtration system and # of snails/crabs)? <Other, finer chemical and micro-organism differences between these two systems... I would try moving some water, rock, substrate from the older, larger system to the newer one> Also, the 58 is in a very dark place compared to the 54 which is in a sunny room. Please impart some worthy knowledge on this humble hobbyist who is at her wits end. Yours, Kate <Mmm, where to start? Do you measure alkalinity in both systems? I would try culturing macro-algae in the "bad one" for now. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm on algae, control in aquariums... and the many pages beyond that are linked. Bob Fenner>

Algae problem Hey Bob, I am having a algae problem in certain areas of my tank, How can I make it go away? <Study, contemplate the root causes... act. Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm  and beyond> I run Three 250 watt metal halide bulbs for four and half hours a day. I run two 160 watt actinic VHO bulbs for 10 hours and I run two 10k VHO bulbs for eight hours a day. If you have any ideas I would appreciate your help. I enclosed a few pictures of the problem areas. Thanks Seidge. <Cruise our site starting where I've sent you. Bob Fenner>

Marine Algae Control My 40-gallon salt-water tank for one dogface puffer gathers green/brown film of algae quickly. Is there a salt-water creature would feast on it for me? Magic potion to put into the water? Other suggestions? Thank you! <No Potter-ish schemes... lots of ways to combat though. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the many articles, FAQs files beyond to develop your own long term maintenance strategy. Bob Fenner>

Carbon/algae Bob, I have a new reef tank that is 4 wks. old. 20 gal sump with w/d filter, Berlin turbo protein skimmer, 100 or so lbs. LR, 25 watt UV ster. and lighting is CSL 4x55 watt PC's(2 blues, 2 white). Livestock consists of 1 yellow tang, 1 blue damsel, 3 polyps, 2 mushroom, 3 small leathers and a scavenger "kit"(20 snails 20 ea. hermit crabs, 5 peppermint shrimp, 4 emerald etc.) Yesterday I added a 10 oz. bag of Chemi-pure. At the same time I cleaned p/s collection cup. Now p/s is no longer skimming. Is this because of carbon or do you think it needs further investigation.  <The carbon, resin mix... the Chemi-Pure> It seems to be producing more bubbles than before but nothing is rising into the collection cup. Algae. I had been pretty easily keeping up with the brown algae removal (scraping it off the glass, stirring up the sand), but now some of it is getting a little "cottony" on certain pieces of LR. It seems to be growing IMO where the water flow is the lowest. <Good observation> My sump pump is 810 gph. I fear it may be hair algae and don't know if I should be patient with it and let it run it's course or should be trying to remove it some other way. <Don't sweat the hair algae... supplanting the brown... all part of "nature's way"> I' ve thought about buying a powerhead and aiming it opposite from current outflow tube and toward where growth is. Not sure how strong I would need and if it would do anything, water flow now seems pretty strong. <More is better> I've considered keeping the lights off for a day or two but don't know if I should with new inverts in new tank. Also I tested amm, nitrite, nitrate all undetectable? <Don't change the light cycle. No worries> I have not done a water change as of yet because I have not been able to detect any nitrates. I do have a 32 gal. can filled with 4 day old seawater I keep circulating with an old powerhead and heater. <Good protocol> Thanks again for your help/advice. - Kevin <Instruct others on your success. Bob Fenner>

Algae question on WWF? Hi Bob, The forty gal gal here. How are you doing? <Fine> This is not really about my own question (well now it is) but someone else's. Nobody else has responded to this, I fear due to the length of all the responses. I'm concerned with just how good an answer I gave him at I was his only opinion. The guy has some kind of algae on the sand, maybe BGA. From the sounds of it he has enough powerheads-- placed ok. Nitrites are maybe a bit high (15) <I'll understand that you mean/t nitrates> but everything else looks ok. The tank is three months old. He doesn't know what the phosphates are. I told him to find out about the phosphates and to try and lower the nitrates with water changes (already doing 5% a week though). I told him to stop vacuuming every day. That he may actually be making things worse --spreading it around and riling up the tank. <Yes, and disrupting facultative anaerobes that might help> And that maybe with such a new tank he should just relax a bit and not be so upset about it. <Good advice> Anyway this was essentially the advice, but I wanted feedback on it since nobody else answered. Maybe because they were ok with it and maybe because they weren't in the mood to wade thru eight pages of responses! What do you think? <Wouldn't detract from anything you stated... might suggest adding a bit/more live rock, some macro algae...> I really like to help the newbies and would love them not to make the same mistakes I did. But I want to help and not give misinformation. <I read most all that is written on the Chatforum (for fun, my education, enlightenment), and your nine-hundred some inputs are well-thought out, earnest and by and large helpful. I would not be concerned. Bob Fenner> Thanks-- your friend, --des/Jane or is that Jane/des :-)

Aquarium Question - Please Help (mainly algae control) Hi Bob, I really appreciate your time and efforts and I have truly learned a lot from what you have said. I’m hoping that you could give me some advice on how to deal with the situation that I have with my tank. I apologize in advance for the length of this message, but I wanted to paint the entire picture. Here’s what’s going on…. I purchased a custom-made 400-gallon aquarium several months ago. The tank has approximately 250 pounds of live rock and is fish only. Unfortunately the stand cracked because of its poor design and use of structural materials. You shouldn’t expect something like this to happen for ten thousand dollars, but that’s life. Anyway my new stand will hopefully be implemented in 2 weeks. <Yikes. I hope no one was hurt.> During the past several months I’ve had some pretty bad algae problems. However I have taken steps to prevent this by implementing room-darkening window shades and using a RO/DI system for my water. (I’ve been using city tap water from the beginning). I now believe the main sources that have been fueling the algae growth have been drastically reduced. The aquarium also has a UV sterilizer and a protein skimmer. Unfortunately the protein skimmer has not worked since day one, because the aquarium folks gave me one that was defective. They have been putting of replacing this until they redo the system. Since blocking the natural sunlight in the room, the algae growth on the walls of the tank have be significantly reduced. Other info: I have been keeping the temp around 82 deg, SG of 19, 0 nitrite/nitrate/ammonia. I have not tested for phosphates. <Look into either a Euro-Reef or ETSS skimmer for this size system> The aquarium folks who setup my tank plan on reusing about 75 percent of the water. My main concern is that since there is so much “bad” algae on the live rock, this will create and/or carry-over problems with the new setup.  <Only to some degree... over time, the nutrients being cycle/recycled will be precipitated into less usable forms> Some purple coralline algae is present, but the majority is green, brown, hair and probably some other kinds of algae growing. Should the rocks be cleaned of the algae prior to placing it back into the tank? <I would only hose/blast them clean... to remove the bulk of matter... not bleach/clean them...> I would really like to see the majority of the rock with coralline algae and I have a feeling that if something isn’t done with the rock, I will never see it. <Mmm, actually, a few things can/should be done with the water, filtration that will turn the tide on the noxious algae species> I have a moray eel in the tank, so he would probably eat up any sort of a clean up crew. My lighting system contains (2) 36” 10K and (2) 36” 50/50 lights and are on for 12 hours a day. Do you recommend any supplements (i.e. strontium, calcium) when doing water changes to help encourage the growth of coralline algae? <For such a size system I would build or buy a calcium reactor... this will greatly help with maintenance, algae control as it balances, boosts pH, biomineral content, alkaline reserve... the most appropriate, lowest cost technology for you, in not so much a long haul...> If you have any suggestions that you would like to make, please do so. Thank you so much for your time and suggestions. Thanks much, Randy Fontana <We'll chat as you have specific questions, statements. Bob Fenner> P.S. Should you ever have any questions about computers, routers, networking, or anything else computer related I would be more than happy to help you. <Thank you my friend. I stand by my position: I am in the pet-fish (content) and human biz, not computers (ahem), they're only tools (that I'm humbly barely competent with). Be chatting.>

Algae Mr. Fenner, I know questions about algae are asked of you most often. I hate to be a member of that long list. :( Yet I cannot for the life of me understand why I am in such a fierce battle with green algae. Not blue-green. My LFS had a employee come to my home to see if they could help me out. As a matter of fact they are the ones who gave me your web address once I started my 75allon aquarium. 80lbs LR, and live sand (how much I do not know. about 2inches deep) 40 gallon sump teeming with macroalgae & 14 lbs. LR. Four powerheads giving good turbulent water (not too much) and a Turbo in sump skimmer. Amm.. 0, niti. 0, nitra. 10ppm, spg 1.023, pH 8.4, Ca 450, Alk 2.3, temp. 78-80 degrees, Phosphates trace, sil. trace. Hmmm...I circulate and heat my water for six days and change seven gallons each week. My fish are 1 hippo tang, three blue damsels (want to give back to LFS but cannot get the little monsters. :) Turbo snails 5, hermit crabs 8. One cleaner shrimp. Four feather dusters. All healthy but (the fish) do become lethargic once the algae is visible floating in the water.  <You ought to consider (among other approaches) adding algae eaters. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algeatrcontfaqs.htm> Yet the O2 is at saturation (according to my LFS.) There is so much green algae covering the glass, the top of the water, floating in the water, not on the sand or rock (!?!) that I feel propelled to clean each day or the benefit of the fish, not I. I almost don't see the point because once I finish clearing it away it comes back within and hour. I add nothing to the water. I have felt that my water parameters are doing well enough on their own. Wow, this is a long e-mail. I'm sorry!! I don't mean to vent my frustrations like this. Am I missing something big here? My LFS said to get RO/DI unit but I do not see what difference it would make. Even at there store (same water distributor as I) they do not use them. Oh, I have 384 watt PC lighting. Blue lights on from 8am-8pm, then other 2 kick in from 9am-7pm. I could really use any advice you have to give, no matter how small. I do not want to use chemical additives, but if I must.... <There are a few things that I would consider doing here... Please do read over the many sections, FAQs on Marine Algae, Control... starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm Predation, competition, nutrient-limitation... other strategies will get you ahead here. Bob Fenner> Thank you Mr. Fenner for your time and knowledge! Amanda Northern California

Need some advice (algae control, marine) Hello- I am in dire need of some advice. I have 2 Saltwater fish tanks, one is a fish only with live rock and the other is a small mini reef with snails, crabs, fish, starfish etc. It is getting too hard for me to keep both tanks running and have decided to merge fish tanks to my bigger one. My big tank has my favorite fish of all in it. A beautiful clown trigger. My problem is that I also have a major algae bloom in that tank. It is green and looks like fur and only seems to grow on the live rock and substrate. I have been trying to figure out what "type" of algae this is but the pictures are not to clear in all of the books that I have.  <This sort of identification requires a microscope...> I know I can't put the snails, crabs in the big tank because the trigger will eat them. Should I sell my clown trigger so the "clean up crew" can do their job in this tank?  <Maybe... or look to the direct and indirect causes of this algal growth... and control it by limiting nutrient, having other algae control it... Please read through this part of our site and the links that you find useful: http://wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm> Or should I just sell the inverts.  <It's up to you and you alone to decide> What would be the best fish to get to help combat this algae if I do keep the trigger? I have a majestic angel and it doesn't seem to be interested in the algae at all. I keep having to take out the live rock and scrub the algae off with a tooth brush. My parameters are good and I have a RO/DI unit installed so I am confident my water quality is good also. Any advice will be greatly appreciated! Thank you, Barb Leitner <Do take a long read through our site (WetWebMedia.com)... With a bit more knowledge, awakening you will find your path. Bob Fenner>

Algae problems I am having a problem with a green-type film algae that continues to develop on the glass day after day. It wipes off very easily and looks like a powder in the water when I swipe it. After cleaning it off, it starts to return by the next day and makes the tank look awful. I have a 75 gallon tank with a Euro-Fil 125 sump, Euro Reef Skimmer, about 90 pounds of live rock, 4 - 65 watt Custom Sealife power compacts and one extra powerhead for circulation. The Nitrate, Phosphate, pH, ammonia, and Alkalinity levels are all good. I use bottled distilled water for top off and water changes (about 15 gallons per month).  <You could still have too much available nutrient, lack of competition, predation that favor pest algae... please read through the "Marine Algae Control" materials on our site, starting with: http://wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm> I also add the supplements that were recommended to me (calcium, essential, iodine, iron, strontium & molybdenum & a buffer).  <The iron, strontium and molybdenum don't need to be added here> The tank has been totally set up since February. The load is extremely low with only one maroon clown, a black spiny urchin, some cleanup hermit crabs, mushrooms and polyps. All of these are doing great. I have tried adding peppermint shrimp on two occasions to get rid of glass anemones but within a week or two, the shrimp all disappear. <Something is eating them... see: http://wetwebmedia.com/aippepshrpfaqs.htm> I have avoided adding any more livestock to the tank until the algae problem is alleviated and I find out what is killing my shrimp. What could be wrong with my tank? Do I need some type of equipment that I don't know about?  <The answers to your questions lie within you, your observations, actions with your system, and the knowledge, awakening you will get from perusing WWM> The Euro-fil sump does not incorporate biological filtration but I understood when I bought it that as long as I had enough liverock, then it was the best way to go. Also, with the black spiny urchin are there any corals or anemones that I can't keep (within my lighting capabilities, of course)? <Possibly... it the physical configuration your system has isolates the two. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help you can offer. Jenny

LR, Biofiltration Hi Bob I know how effective live rock is for biological filtration. My ? is for a fish only 30 gal tank ,can 20-30pds live sand and a skilter250 get the job done? <The job of filtration? Yes> Is this effective when trying to keep nitrite in check? <Nitrate? Yes> I plan on keeping 2 Percula Clowns and a Longnose Hawkfish. Will a couple of dead corals eventually help with filtration? <Hmm, as suppliers of alkalinity, biomineral, yes> Thanks again Kam <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: Algae in Saltwater pool (1,500,000 gallons, with marine mammals...) Dear Mr. Fenner, Thank you for your response, sorry about the little delay, I was off-island. <I understand> How do you suggest we start getting this problem fixed? It does appear that you know more about this subject than we do. I guess the question is "how and how much?" <Hmm, not following you... "how much algae", "how much to treat for/with"?> I'm sorry, but some of the chemical / technical suggestions you gave me, I did not understand. <For the sums of money invested in facilities and livestock you folks must have a veterinarian, facilities manager, other upkeep staff... Do I know any of them? It seems anomalous that with what you've bought there isn't an operations protocol in place... Did all the staff get replaced suddenly? Bob Fenner> Regards, John Brokaar
Re: Algae in Saltwater pool
We wrote: > How do you suggest we start getting this problem fixed? It does appear that > you know more about this subject than we do. I guess the question is "how > and how much?" You wrote: > <Hmm, not following you... "how much algae", "how much to treat for/with"?> Reply: Sorry, I guess I should have made it clearer- You mentioned sending someone down and so forth, my question really was "How would you start to deal with this problem and are the methods you know of financially feasible?" Currently we are using scrubbers to clean the pool but this is very labour-intensive. When you say how much algae- how do you measure the growth? <Again, I am very surprised that whoever built out a one and a half million gallon facility didn't provide adequate means of algae control and a protocol for same...> We wrote: > I'm sorry, but some of the chemical / technical suggestions you gave me, I > did not understand. You wrote: > <For the sums of money invested in facilities and livestock you folks must > have a veterinarian, facilities manager, other upkeep staff... Do I know any > of them? It seems anomalous that with what you've bought there isn't an > operations protocol in place... Did all the staff get replaced suddenly? Bob > Fenner> Reply: Yes we do have veterinarians and the other staff you mentioned. You may know some of the trainers as well., Bud & Joe Krames. No the staff did not get replaced- the facility is new and only opened up about 3 months ago. As none of us are marine biologists we are looking for help from the outside on this matter- Regards, John Brokaar <Okay John, let's take this from the beginning then. What groups of algae are you having problems with? Blue Greens? Diatoms? Just Greens? Have you folks tried dilute hypochlorite solutions yet? Do you folks utilize ozone, protein skimming? Can you cc your maintenance and vet. staff w/ these messages? I will help you develop a maintenance procedure. Bob Fenner
Re: Algae in Saltwater pool
Dear Mr. Fenner, The types of algae we have, initially were green grass type, now we also have the brown slime type. <Need more specifics... Please read through our site (www.WetWebMedia.com on Marine Algae)> In your question about hypochlorite solutions- which I presume is similar to standard chlorine? <Yes> No we have not tried as we felt due to the water being replaced every 13-14 hours or so. <Hmm, a standard material with many marine mammal displays...> Also, how would this affect fish life? <Yes, a general biocide... Are there fishes in with your marine mammals? You might consider citrated copper solutions... making them yourself of copper sulfate pentahydrate, citric acid and clean water... and using a dosing pump to keep up a physiological does (about.03 ppm)...> Neither have we used ozone or protein skimming- I guess primarily because we're not familiar with the technique. <Really? Again, very odd. Have you contacted the folks who designed and built your facility? Bob Fenner> Thanks and regards, John Brokaar

Algae growth Dear Bob, My 20 gal. refugium, now 3 months old and loaded with Caulerpa and Hawaiian red fern is still producing quite a bit of a yellowish brown slime/hair algae. This is most pronounced when the Caulerpa reaches the water surface so I've put egg crate over it to keep it down. Lights are on 24 hours, 1 actinic 03 and 2 daylight 20 watt fl. <Hmm> Is this normal or am I missing something? I can't find and phosphate or nitrate in the water but I still get a great deal of algae on the glass of the show tank as well as in the refugium. <Normal... keep harvesting (I would cut it with a sharp razor blade, watch your fingers...) the Caulerpa... a few inches below the water surface... like steering an ocean liner with a small rudder, your system will "come about"> I'm considering covering the entire show tank with a drape to block ambient light when I am away. Is there any reason not to do this? <Plenty... a possible "crash" that might take most everything with it... I urge your patience here. Perhaps add some activated carbon in your filter flow path... give this a few more weeks. Bob Fenner> Howard

Re: Algae in Saltwater pool Dear Mr. Fenner,  I was given your e-mail address by Joaquin Meier who said you would be able to  assist us with a little problem:  <Okay>  We have a seawater pool for mammals. There are pumps that continuously  replace the water in it every 6 - 8 hrs, to ensure excellent water quality.  The one down side is that due to this constant circulation, we are not able  to chlorinate against algae for practical and environmental reasons.  Naturally this creates quite a mission to remove the algae by scrubbing.  <I understand. Have been involved in the design, engineering of such  systems... including for marine mammals>  We have heard that there is a system that is not harmful to marine life but  kills algae. Is this something you can advise us on and do you market the  equipment and materials for this?  <Hmm, much to state here... Where is this project at this point? Not built  out? Ozone might be utilized... possibly UV sterilization through  recirculation... there are semi-safe algicides. What other life will be  maintained in the same water? Bob Fenner>  Thanks and regards,  John Brokaar
Re: Algae in Saltwater pool
Dear Mr. Fenner, Thanks for your prompt response. The pool has been completed and carries about 1,500,000 Gallons. One of the pumps is always running at a rate of about 1,800 GPM. The pool currently carries 4 Dolphins. <This is a large pool... very little circulation... is there some other flush mechanism here?> We do not intend to have fish or other marine life in the pool but as we circulate the water straight back into the ocean again we have to bear that in mind. <I understand... and encourage you to solicit folks input in the marine mammal exhibit business... Halogens are used (yes though general biocides) for such displays (some chance/incidence of dermatitis, but much to commend such practice), as well as copper compounds and pass through irradiation, ozonolysis... All have upsides, down...> For your information, the pool is located in Anguilla, West Indies. Thanks and regards, John Brokaar <John, who built out this facility? What agency, company runs it? Can help direct you to folks in the trade who can come down, help you. Bob Fenner>

Lighting and Algae Good Day Mr. Fenner: I've been battling a diatom problem and would once again like to borrow what I can't give back. Your knowledge! <Not to be borrowed or given back either my friend, only shared> I'm running a 7 month old, 48 gallon Flat-back hex tank with 50 lbs LR and a 3 1/2" very fine DSB. For circulation I have 1 802 powerhead, 1 301 powerhead (w/mechanical filter) and 1 CPR BakPak skimmer. Lighting is 4X55W PC fixture with smart bulbs (1/2 10K and 1/2 Actinic). I have an assortment of hermits, some Astrea snails (not as many as I started with since the crabs have new digs), 2 Mithrax crabs, 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 striped damsel. I feed about 1X per week, a combo of brine/krill. I've got some mushroom type corals which are thriving. My H2O parameters are NO2 (0ppm), Ammonia (ppm), NO3 (0ppm), Alkalinity (10-14dKH). I'm having a heck of a time w/diatom algaes. It was completely overpowering my tank, but the skimmer and alkalinity adjustment seems to have helped some. As of this morning, the LR looked pretty clean, but the glass (plexi) needs to be cleaned daily in order to see the pretties I have painstakingly chosen. Should this improve with time/patience, or is there something I'm doing wrong? <Will improve, but you could "speed things up"... with the use of silicate free water, once monthly use of activated carbon in your filter flow path (like a unit of Boyd's Chemipure), growing some purposeful macro-algae... I would do all of these> I do plan on adding more soft corals, as well as some LPS types so I may need to adjust my photoperiod. Currently I'm running a total of 14 hours with lights on. The first and last 2 hours are at 1/2 intensity. Should this be decreased to less time daily?  <Not necessarily.> Do I have enough/too much lighting for this tank/my purposes?  <Enough> The bulbs are only about 3 months old, so that shouldn't be an issue?  <No> I'm perplexed (as usual). Thank you Jason <Use the Google search feature on the www.WetWebMedia.com website... your answers are there and with you. Bob Fenner>

Re: Owner from hell is back :) >Hi Bob.. >Well, I'm back.. and the tank was a virtual sewer of algae when I  >returned... >Any clues from the "lovely pics"? ><Sorry my friend... my feeble memory with a few hundred messages  >in-between >conspire... leaving me w/o recollection. Bob F> Sorry about that..... I talked to you after one of your talks at the WCM2001 conference in Monterey/Seaside first week of April. Anyway, I am being seriously discouraged by my inability to keep my reef tank chemistry and algae under control... <Can be extremely trying...> About three weeks ago I sent you a rather huge file with a document about the tank and some pictures of it and the related equipment in hopes you might spot something glaringly obvious I am missing.. The document was about 3MB, so don't want to force in upon you again if not necessary :) .. but maybe it never got through? <Mmm, don't recall the situation, graphic right off... but unusual to not get same via this mechanism. Maybe send again, or let us re-start the dialogue. Bob Fenner> --thanks, --Chane

New Overlit, Under-Filtered, Algae-Growing Marine System I have an old Odell 29 gal. high I am running one 175 watt MH and one 03 actinic I have a Prizm skimmer a millennium 2000 filter 300 watt heater 27 lbs. live rock 50 lbs. sand & crushed coral mix . I have been running my MH about 7 hours each day for the last two weeks and my atonics for about 12 hrs. I started running my MH 10 hours two days ago keeping my atonics at 12 hrs. I now have brown algae everywhere what do I do now and dose this setup sound like over kill THANK YOU! <Well... you do have a bunch of lighting... not enough skimming... who knows what water quality (no test kits?)... and who knows what livestock... Please read over the "Setup", "Component", and "Algae Control" sections on the Marine Index part of our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for much insight here. Bob Fenner>

Water high in sulfates (algae control) Good morning- We have a 460 gallon aquarium with a metal halide, 717 watt light. We have a severe hair algae problem. Our water may be high in sulfates and we've since gone to a reverse osmosis filter and a water holding tank. Our next water change will be the first with this new approach. Will this help to alleviate our algae problem and short of manually taking off the algae, is there another solution?  <I doubt if sulfates are a primary contributing factor here... phosphates, nitrates are typically limiting influences... Many other solutions exist... in broad categories: other nutrient limitation, competitors, predators, allelopathogenic activity (mainly from macro-algae culture...). These are covered in "Algae", "Algae Control", "Algal Filtration" sections and associated FAQs files on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com> Also, we're having a difficult time maintaining a snail population. Is this because of the water?  <Perhaps... do you have sufficient biomineral concentrations? Alkaline reserve? Your snails need both... Maybe they are being preyed upon by another life form... Many possibilities here. See the "Marine Snails" sections on the WWM site as well. Bob Fenner> Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks, Doug

Re: COPPER Okay, so is there a way to help with the brown substance that is all over the live rock and sand?  <Yes all sorts of mechanisms... and some time going by will just help. Read over the "Algae Control" sections and related links on www.WetWebMedia.com> We have already established that the substance is more than likely due to the copper problem. Is this just a by product or is it actually diatom algae? <The materials are due to the consequences of copper poisoning in the system... major and subtle shift in what is favored... subsequent succession, use of resources by the present predominant life... easy to change... is changing... Bob Fenner>

Steps backward and forward in combating algae problems  We have a 70 gal., external overflow tank with a 20 gal. sump, Sealife  System NV 150 protein skimmer, Rio 2500 (525 gph at 4?#8364;™) return pump .The  tank has 2- AquaClear 802 (400 gph) power heads alternating with a  Wave-Strip, IceCap 660 VHO lighting driving two 46?#8364;? URI actinic and two  46?#8364;? URI actinic white bulbs (Aug. 21-00) on for 10 hours per day. Biotope  includes: 40 pounds Fiji live rock, 30 pounds live base rock, ten fish  totaling 30 inches, 2- anemones, 1- SPS coral, 7- assorted corals, two  colonies of star polyps, and several colonies of disc mushrooms and local  brown hermits and tidal marsh snails. Our aquarium has been set up for  approximately two years .Our current water parameters are: silicates 0.00  mg/l, phosphates 0.00 mg/l, nitrates 0.00 mg/l, nitrites 0.00 mg/l, and  ammonia 0.00 mg/l, calcium 350-375 mg/l, alkalinity 7.5 mg/l and in my  opinion have remained quite stable (I use Seachem test kits). We drip  limewater at the rate of 10 TSP per 5 gals weekly and purchase the best top  off water we can from the water filter machine at the grocery store. We use  natural seawater that is collected from the clean incoming tide at Fort  George Island, FL. We use Reef Evolution€™s Strontium Concentrate and Trace  Element Concentrate and Kent€™s Iodine as directed and two small three-ounce  filter bags of SeaChem€™s PhosGuard and Two Little Fishes€™ HydroCarbon in  the overflow box.. The pH always wants to stabilize around 8.0 so I keep  it off rock bottom with the use of Seachem marine buffer and then jack it  up to 8.3 or 8.4 (during the day) with Kalkwasser.  <Sounds so far, so good...> What is the problem? Hair algae and Cyanobacteria have completely overrun  our tank. About nine months ago our VHO€™s got old (15 months in use) and  Cyanobacteria prospered. <Ah, yes.> We eradicated the Cyanobacteria with erythromycin  and replaced the old lights. That is when the hair algae bloom began.  <Yes, predictable... the old lights led to the Cyano which led to the erythromycin use which has led to the filamentous...> I have tried everything: weekly 50 percent water changes, limiting feeding;  ensuring that make- up water was nutrient poor, and we still have a  forest of hair algae. The glass becomes covered and we need to scrape  twice weekly just to be able to view the tank. I took the rocks out of  the display tank and put them in the sump in the dark to kill off the hair  algae. That appears to be working. However, as soon as we put a bare  rock from the sump back into the display tank, the hair algae that was under  control soon proliferates once it has all that good light. Our fish and  anemones are very healthy and growing. Some of our corals have doubled or  tripled in size. The tank inhabitants seem quite happy. Unfortunately, so  is the hair algae and Cyanobacteria. Last week I decided I needed to  jack up my biological system; maybe a refugium or a new skimmer or ozone.  <Ah, all good ideas...> Also, in the two years we have had our tank set up, we have maintained the  coralline algae imported on the Fiji live rock, however we have only been  able to grow a few specks of coralline on our own. We have never had  coralline encrusting the glass, overflow box, etc. Also, two of our fish  are tangs; they nibble somewhat on the algae, but they would need to be the  size of a€œJaws€? to keep it mowed down. Any suggestions for us would be  much appreciated.  Thanks Scott and Patti  <Thank you for writing so lucidly and thoroughly... I would take the "long haul" view here at this point... and to spiff up what likely steps you suggested, I would definitely be adding an live/sump-refugium here with macro algae (you can collect it...) of the genera Caulerpa and Halimeda... and lighting there... and look into a Salarias or Atrosalarias Blenny... More about all of this/these posted on the website: www.WetWebMedia.com... the Marine Index, under the various algae groups, "Algae Filtration", "Algae Control", "Marine Scavengers"... and associated FAQs files... Know you're going to enjoy reading the rationale and others experiences... Bob Fenner>

Long distance aquarium care My husband and I are originally from Louisiana. Right now, we are working in California. I have a 75 gallon aquarium with 100# of live rock, 80# of live sand, VHO lighting, protein skimmer, and a wet/dry filter. My question is this: Right now my neighbor is going to my house and adding water and attempting to get the algae off of the glass. What kind of clean-up crew can I put in there that doesn't need a whole lot of tending to?  <Hmm, a few types of Snails and Hermit Crabs, a real Crab (Mithrax/Emerald Green), and a few Blennies... Please see the various areas of the www.WetWebMedia.com site, Marine Index under the terms "Marine Scavengers", "Hermit Crabs", "Algae Control"... and related FAQs files...> I don't want to take down my aquarium. My next goal is to move it to CA with us but in the mean time how can I keep the algae to a minimum. (My lights are still coming on and off with a timer.) There is no livestock in the aquarium at all as far as fish goes. Thanks in advance for any info. Audrey LeLeux <Please read through the WWM site. All will be revealed... predators, competitors, mechanisms for limiting nutrient influx... Bob Fenner>

Lots of Questions... I stumbled on the Faq for WetWebMedia pretty much by accident. I have your book "Conscientious Aquarist" and it is really excellent. I still am picking it up and looking at it (or studying it). <Ahh, good... much opportunity in full-length works to introduce related concepts, "massage" the intended reader to unfold...> I am very much of a newbie, but after very many early disasters some due to listening to very bad advice I am doing better. (There was, for example, the 24 snails that died after a couple days on the new LR. Yes you read that right. Yikes! ) <Yikes indeed> I have a 40 gal breeder tank with 40 gal of LR and 20 of LPSs. Since you are a friend of Sy Leng I don't have to worry about telling you that I have a Ecosystems 40 as my filter. (no none of the bad advice was from him!) with some Caulerpa prolifera growing under 24/7 lights. I have 144 watts PC lighting on the main tank. My creatures so far are a Midas blenny, six snails, two common cleaner shrimp, and some number of small hermits. I don't care what anybody says, I love them as they lived thru all my mistakes. :-) <Great to read...> The water quality is testing out good (a question later) with pH at a steady 8.2; ammonia and nitrites at 0; nitrates under 1.0; SG 1.024; temp steady at 80; phosphates have come down to .2 from 1.0 three weeks ago. <That's quick> Ok now the questions. I have some algae. Hair algae mostly now and a bit of green algae on top of the rock. I am wanting to add some algae eating creatures or creature. My understanding is that this is all normal at this stage. <Yes> I don't think the hermits are doing much for the algae, and I have been a little cautious of snails, not sure they do this kind of algae anyway (?). I was wondering about a Tang, but I am afraid my tank is too small. Also as I have a blenny, I am afraid to put in another. I did have a bicolor briefly, but he died after being in the tank a few days. I don't think there was any aggression or anything (never saw it). I am pretty sure it wasn't really my tank. So what kind of creature? And how long do I wait after the death of this fish? <Hmm, I'd risk a Salarias or Atrosalarias blenny with your Midas... and/or a small Ctenochaetus or Zebrasoma Tang... yes, even in a forty... I strongly sense a larger system in your near future.> (Don't know if it was some parasite--yes and I have a quarantine tank now-- and I am back to buying from a LFS that quarantines their fish for two weeks). Anyway the other fish is still ok (knock on something). (The guy who had him had him for two weeks in a tank with the same fish also two weeks.) I got it on 2/10. Actually I got the cleaner shrimp when I thought the bicolor might be sick. Ok I think this is enough for now. I'll get to the calcium and adding substrate question later. <I'll be waiting for you.> Thanks the help and for reading my long involved tale here. --Jane <A pleasure my friend. Bob Fenner>

Algae blues ORIGINAL QUESTION: I have a 55gal reef with a 20gal sump problem is algae has taken over and can't keep up with it I am trying phosphate remover and water changes and it's helping but I need help. My past experience with hermit crabs was that they end up killing the snails. Is there a clean up crew that you recommend that won't attack each other in the process. More info as requested. I don't have a test kit for phosphates or nitrates at this time. But I will purchase one in about 2-3 weeks (finances are tight), I have a 20in. airstone driven protein skimmer which pulls out lots of gunk. But could certain use a much better one.  <Both worthwhile purchases... of course, need to know what is going on in your system nutrient accumulation-wise... Phosphate concentration is a very useful "window" here. And a better skimmer... a functional one should not be continuously "pulling out lots of gunk"... i.e. it should pull out most of it and appear to be doing little, nothing in a properly set-up, maintained, balanced system> I have a blue tang 7yrs,yellow Coris wrasse 2yrs, 2 percula clowns 7yrs which are laying eggs all the time, a royal gramma3yrs,coral banded shrimp 2yrs and a Banggai cardinal 6mo.  <Good long husbandry times. Congratulations> As far as a cleaning crew only 4 Astrea snails. Corals include: mushrooms, frogspawn, cabbage leather, green star polyps, yellow polyps and Bali pumping Xenia which is growing like weeds. Lighting consists of four 55w power compacts 10hrs/day. Not growing macroalgae in the sump keep four large pieces of live rock in there for added biological filtration). <!, for such a small system, nice large sump, crowded with life... you're really missing out by not culturing macro-algae here... Do this... place a small compact fluorescent light (inexpensive one from the large hardware outlets), leave on continuously over the sump... add Caulerpa, maybe Halimeda species... You will be amazed at the improvement in water quality, health of your livestock> Current tank has been running for about 21/2 yrs and only in the past 2-3 months has algae been a problem. I've had hermit crabs and snails in the past only to find the crabs killing all the snails and then cleaning all the rocks of the Coralline algae. Are there any that will help with the algae but won't cannibalize the snails. I am considering the Mithrax crabs. <A better choice, but the Coris would likely eat it... I would go the competitive route with the lighted sump instead...> I have a 40gal tank that I've divided to be used as a sump like the ecosystem method in which I would like to put aragonite reef sand 5inches deep.  <Great idea> by Carib Sea (any suggestions as to what type or types to use and ratios) and some live sand. <Yes, posted on the site (www.WetWebMedia.com)... go there, under "refugium", "plenum", "substrates"... under the Marine Index> It will set up as a Refugium with macroalgae-different types of Caulerpa growing in it with a reverse light photoperiod. <Either that or continuously lit> Should I continue using a protein skimmer once I get the algae under control and the refugium is up to speed (4-5 months I figure). >IMO yes... I know Leng Sy and Mike Paletta and others opinions vary here... but not much to be lost (plankton, chemicals of use wise) and much more to be gained (removal, changing of short chain fatty acids, scatols, phenols... oxygenation, raising of re-dox....> Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time Bob. From the e-desk of: Louis & Ivonne <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

The hermits fight and the algae grows, Help ??? Mr. Fenner, First let me say, thank you, for the tremendous resources that you tender  to the aquatic hobbyist. <Glad to be here, of service.>  My Question(s): Preface to #1. I have recently entered into a battle with Ich. My Yellow Tang contracted  it, but I was able to assist with a fresh water dip, the Tang has been  symptom free for about 2 weeks; although the neon Goby died two days after  the Tang was dipped from an apparent rapid infection of the demon parasite.  After reading up on your page I'm waiting 2 months after the last signs of  it before bringing any additional fish into the tank. <Ah good... about the best approach.> 1. I've read that you rather dislike, or would not prefer the use of  Hermits in a reef (found several instances on www.wetwebmedia.com) I used  only DI or RO water for everything, but I've been having problems with  brown and green algae on the rock, glass, etc.. In addition, my hermits  have a tendency to eat each other/fight to the death. What Non-fish would  you recommend to help as the clean up crew of algae and detritus instead of  Hermits? (Had at one point: 50 Blue Leg Hermits and 70 Snail). <Hmm, why non-fish? There are a myriad of mollusks... Margarita and Astrea/Turbo Snails... some larger mollusks as well, like a few popular Cowry/Cypraeid species...> 2. While writing this message, I went to inspect the tank with a flashlight  (it's about 11:45pm) and make sure that I didn't miss anything on the  inhabitants list? While looking in the tank, a small, approx. ?" gray  "Thing" swam up out of the substrate and darted up and down the glass  swimming around and then back onto the sand. This repeated twice as I  watched this creature dart around my reef? It was elongated and slender,  appeared to be flat, gun metal gray, lighter underneath. It appeared to  have a thinning of the body as it approached the head (neck area) the head  was arrowhead/diamond shaped. It did not appear to have any fins or other  appendages. Is this a fluke of some sort. Should I be concerned about its  presence? Should I try to remove it?? I had quite a hard time keeping the  light on it. <No worries, likely an amphipod species (relative of the terrestrial "pill-bugs", aka "rolly pollies", of more use than harm by far.> I'm including the following for reference to my questions and to see if you  have any suggestions or modifications. I value your assistance and your  thoughts. My Reef Tank: 125G about 7 Weeks Old VHO Lighting (2 Actinic Blue / 2 50/50 Daylight) 150 Pounds Live Rock. (started with 50 Pounds Cured Live and 100 Base Rock) Red Sea Berlin Classic Protein Skimmer Algae Scrubber (added/started 8/8/00) 3/4" - 1" crushed coral substrate. Additives: B-Ionic 2 part (Alk/Ca) every other day. Feedings of Brine Flake, minced shrimp, Life Line Green, and Sea Veggies. DI water for everything. Test Results: (consistent for last 3 weeks) Ammonia = < 0.2 (normally 0.00) Nitrite = 0.00 Nitrate = 2.5 to 5.0 Alkalinity = 3.4 meq/L Calcium = 400 - 450 pH = 8.4 (Range: 8.0 to 8.4 daily cycle) Contains: 1 Feather Duster 2 Flower Anemone 1 Umbrella Leather 1 Medium Fluorescent Green star polyp rock 1 Medium Yellow/Green Long tentacle polyp rock 2 Small Mushroom rocks 1 Medium Green Button Polyp Rock 6 Xenia Stalks 1 Medium Clump of Caulerpa 1 Yellow Tang 2 Kupang Damsel 1 White Sand Starfish 50 Hermits 70 Snails 1 Emerald Green Crab 1 Sally light foot Crab Thanks in advance, John Boiger <Sounds very nice, and "so far, so good"... much of your apparent algae "problem" will right itself with a little more time passing... you might want to add something in the way of macroalgae to a sump, your main system... to help it go, stay gone. Bob Fenner>

Dusty Green Algae I have started using a product called "Tap Water Purifier" to make deionized  water. I am now getting dusty green algae almost over night on my glass and  brown algae on the gravel at the bottom of my tank. I have a 55 gallon Reef  Tank with a Sea Clone protein skimmer. Any ideas as to why this would now be  happening? Thanks, Ron Stranahan <All sorts... these algal proliferations are a "natural event" that can be best controlled by a concerted effort at limiting nutrient availability (like you're doing with the purifier), filtration (like denitrification...), competition (as with other more desired photosynthetic life), light manipulation.... Please take a read through the sections on algae, control... I have stored at the site: www.wetwebmedia.com for much more, specifics. Bob Fenner>

Maintenance issues Thanks again for your help, I added an Algae Blenny and Emerald Crabs some time ago but still have the hair algae problem. Any other ideas? <All sorts... if these animals didn't really eat the material, I'll bet my fave genera and species of tangs won't either. Let's suggest the nutrient deprivation/competition route. How about growing some macro-algae in the main tank, or best in a lighted sump area.... try some Caulerpa in/on some rock... it will outcompete the (probably) Derbesia (algae) growing in your display.> Thanks for your quick and informative response, I value and follow your advice because I've found that it works. One follow up question, if I may, how do you eradicate Halimeda from a reef tank when its growing from the live rock. A friend of mine has battled with it for months with little success. I'm battling hair algae on one of my tanks and seem to be losing that war as well despite using only RO water, feeding fish only three times a week, physically removing the hair algae from the rock, using Aquamarine's (reef safe) algae control product and doing 10% weekly water changes. <Hmm, well, count yourself lucky if your Halimeda is doing that well... for me, I'd just occasionally clip off the bigger bits during routine cleaning. Regarding the hair algae, if the system is 55 or more gallons do consider getting a Lawnmower Blenny... a fabulous green filamentous scraper... only one, because this is about all they eat. And/or if it will go, look into a Mithrax (Emerald Green) Crab... also a great cleaner upper of filamentous (and other) algae. Do leave off with the use of chemical algicide... dangerous/toxic and unnecessary for your system. Bob Fenner>

Algae problem Dear Bob, I have a 60 gallon Uniquarium (Clear for Life tank) with live rocks (45 lb.),  8 Turbo snails, 5 red legged hermit crabs, a Cleaner shrimp, and brittle  star. The only fish currently is a Snowflake Eel (Echidna sp.). I have had  this setup and running since October last year. Coralline algae is growing  heavily on the rocks, back of the tank and on the pumps in the tank; a leafy  algae, and small amounts of bubble algae, are also on several of the live  rocks. Copepods, polychaete worms (feather worms and fire worms) are very  common in the sand and on the rocks. I had two Heniochus butterflies and a Flame angel in the tank for a month,  but in early January an infestation of ich struck and, while on was on a  business trip, the fish, except for the eel perished. This ich attack  occurred within 3 days of a water change. The salt water used was from a  local pet store, which assured me that it had been mixed several days before;  its temperature was the same as my tanks water, so I could not figure out  what caused the ich to devastate the fish. I have decided to wait a couple of  months before introducing other fish and have set up a quarantine tank (a CPR  MRT is being used) to use prior to getting any new fish. The filtration on the 60 gallon tank is accomplished by trickle filter built  into the back of the tank, with a Sea Clone skimmer on the back, with its  pump in one of the sumps; this skimmer I empty and clean the cup at least  every other day. No chemical filtration is being used. Besides the outlet for  the filter, additional circulation is being provided by a Rio 180 at the end  opposite the filter outlet. The specific gravity is 1.023, water temp. is 78  to 80 degrees, with pH at 8.0 to 8.2. Ammonia level is at 0 ppm, Nitrite is  at 0 ppm, and Nitrate is at 5 ppm or less. I perform water changes (10%) at  least every two weeks. The lighting unit I use is a JBJ Lighting "Formosa", which uses two  Mitsubishi/Osram 6500K Daylight compacts (36 W each) and two Osram DULUXL  7100K Blue (36 W each) compacts. This is on an automatic timer that runs the  lamps for 14 hours. My question is regarding the algae. Recently I have to clean at least twice a  week algae from the front of my tank. The algae is a brown film that is  easily wiped off, but in certain spots is difficult to remove. I have also  recently, in the last week, had a black slime algae grow on a small area of  the sand; this sand area also has numerous bubbles form on the surface by the  latter part of the light cycle, which I assume is nitrogen from the anaerobic  bacteria or algae using the nitrate. Is the lamps that I am using incorrect  or is my filtration adding to the problem? I performed a 10% water change  this weekend to see if this helps. Sorry about the long winded question, but any suggestions you have would be  appreciated. Best regards, Kevin <Hmm, now I have most all the picture... Well, your lights (since October of 99?) shouldn't be "too old" at this point (at 14h/day I switch them out one at a time after six, seven months though). My guess is that you're experiencing a combination of "available nutrients, lack of competitors" situation. Your skimmer is really too feeble for a sixty... even with just one small Snowflake eel... and should be upgraded... Also, I would add something in the way of chemical filtration... say a unit of activated carbon (Boyd's or Aquarium Pharmaceuticals or such) once a month... leaving the older unit in for two...  And I would add some species or more of macro-algae... maybe the ever favorite genera Caulerpa or Halimeda... there are several others (a rundown of which can be found in an article at www.wetwebmedia.com Otherwise, your set-up, and operation sound fine. Bob Fenner>

Algae Causes? I have a 110 marine tank. Lighting is Coralife 20,000K & an Actinic Blue, which are on approximately 6- 6 1/2 hrs a day. Right now I only have a couple of fish & a few inverts, as the tank has been up & running for about 6 mos. Lots of live rock, too. My question is this: have noticed recently that brown hair? algae is starting to appear in several areas of the tank (on the rock itself). Since I don't know a great deal about this stuff, wanted to get an experts opinion as to how to get rid of it. Thanks for your help. My email address is: xxxx <Well, need to know more about your system... the livestock names... type of filtration... But you might be best off increasing the number of hours of your lighting (10,12 h/day), encouraging other forms of photosynthetic life... and after you tell me what sorts of fishes and invert.s you have I can suggest what I might put in (that won't get eaten, eat your other life) to eat the green algae. Bob Fenner>

General Algae Causes: I have two salt tanks. one is a 46 rock only tank with three yellow tangs, 1  damsel, a maroon/gold clown, a pacific cleaner shrimp and two "Q" anemones.  the other is a 72 reef with various corals and a few fish (purple, yellow and  hippo tangs, flame and coral beauty angel, Huma trigger, and two maroon/white  clowns- not mates, just friends). all fish and corals seem to be doing fine.  the 46 I has 80 watts of light for 7 hours, and the 72 has 220 watts (VHO)  on for 10 hours. each tank has a hang on protein skimmer and emperor  filters, and have been up for about a year. each get 10% weekly water  changes. I use a tap water purifier and change the cartridge frequently.  ph, nitrites and nitrates are in good shape. PHEW!  the problem is that as of about 4 weeks ago, I have been getting big algae  blooms in both tanks. I'm talking every two days you have to wipe the glass  because it has a heavy film of algae on it. I recently put some Phosguard  in the filter as recommended by the LFS, but it has not been working. any suggestions? signed,  yours in the green <Wow, both tanks at once... Interesting... I'm inclined to dream up a big change in your tapwater (the municipality are in league with synthetic saltwater manufacturers, adding soluble phosphate to your source water) but you treat your incoming tap... Or a big change to a nutrient laden food source... Like lettuce at times that has thousands to more ppm of nitrates... Do you feed terrestrial greens? Soak some in fresh or marine water and test it for NO3... you might be shocked. Perhaps both the tanks have evolved/actually more like devolved into conditions favoring the algae? Could be... but quite a coincidence... Or talking about circumstances converging... your lamps have all aged at the same time....? And the loss of photo-intensity and phase shift is allowing the algae to out-compete your other photosynthates? Does any of this "ring a bell"? Do you actually have measurable phosphates in your system waters? At this juncture, I'd consider adding macro-algae, maybe some new live rock... maybe even a mud/muck filter and Caulerpa to your system/sumps. Bob Fenner>

Brown - Green Algae Bob, I been having a problem with most brown algae and some green getting all over everything. I use a Kent Bare Bones R.O unit for water changes Ammonia=0, Nirite=0, nitrate=1.0. Phosphate is around 0.1 - 0.2. I use Phoszorb is a canister filter. Could it be my lighting. I have three NO bulbs which are 10,000, 20,000k and a Blue actinic for 10 hours a day. I think the bulbs have been used for around 15 months. Could this be causing it? Thanks -Jim <Absolutely on the bulbs contribution... they're almost twice past their effective/useful lifespans... start switching them out... maybe one every two weeks... And maybe put in some macro-algae in your main tank or a sump... Bob Fenner>

General Algae Control Questions: Just read your Q & A section and really enjoyed it! I have been keeping salt water fish for around 7 years and have found that if you ask 10 different people the same question, you will likely get 10 different answers. I have a 45 gallon tank, with a Rainbow fluidized bed filter, a Sea Storm protein skimmer and 2 Whisper filters. I am running 1 blue light and 1 high spectrum white light (both are florescent). Around a year ago I added around 25 pounds of live rock (purple and very nice) to a system that had been stable for around 4 years. The rock stayed very nice for about 3 months but then began developing the brown/green algae. I have some turbo snails, hermit crabs and a Sally Lightfoot -- in addition to several fish. I have cut back on my feeding and the amount of time the lights are on, but still struggle containing the algae. I want to add more live rock, mushrooms and corals, but want to get this algae under control before buying more expensive stock only to have it turn a lovely shade of brown!!! I have been told the only way to control the algae is to use RO/NI water. Another person told me to add calcium and iodide to my water and that would help the purple algae grow more. I would really appreciate your advice on controlling the nuisance algae, and also what do you recommend to add to my water to encourage the macro algae (i.e. calcium, iodide).  Also, what kind of fishes, invertebrates and crabs you recommend for a reef tank. Loving the hobby but sometimes overwhelmed by the options. Thanks in advance for your advice. Mark <Do agree with the abundance of answers available... heck, you can just ask me, and I'll give you ten or more to the same query! Honestly, both approaches you list, starting with "cleaner" source water, and utilizing calcium (with or w/o iodide), are reasonable approaches at algae control... additionally, I'd look into some (more) biological algae eaters... like Ctenochaetus and Zebrasoma tangs, a lawnmower blenny... and using a Polyfilter pad to remove some of the existing cycled and recycled nutrient in your water... And strangely enough, adding more live rock... on top, to the side of the existing... to shake up the population dynamics in the system. This really works... All these and so many more... for the asking. Your friend in fish, Bob Fenner>

Magnetic Cleaners. Permanent Residency.... ROOKIE REEF-KEEPER HERE......ARE THERE ANY DOWNSIDES TO KEEPING A MAGNETIC GLASS CLEANER PERMANENTLY IN THE TANK......MY LIGHT FIXTURES MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO GET CLEANERS IN AND OUT OF THE REAR OF MY TANK.......ITS FUNNY THE THINGS YOU WORRY ABOUT EH? >> Hmmm, good question... Though many claim to be completely chemically inert... and some ferrous material is desirable even in reef systems... it's not much. I would pull the "inside" one out when not in service myself. Bob "Paranoia" Fenner

Reef Question I have a 75 gallon reef tank with an overflow and about 70lbs. of live rock. About 3 months ago I lost a large Ritteri Anemone and a day later a large Yellow Tang. I quickly did a 40% water and cleaned up the remains the best I could. I have been on a schedule of 30% water changes every 2-3 weeks using RO water. I now have a problem with a "greenish brown furry looking algae" covering most of my live rock. I added an ozonizer but it doesn't seem to be helping. Now I have placed a Purple tang in the tank and have been using a poly filter to remove any phosphate. It has helped but nowhere near elimination. Is there anything else I could do to kill this algae? My polyps & Mushrooms are starting to become strangled by this algae. Thank you in advance! Brad Stefanko <Besides what you've done, I would thoroughly clean your skimmer, and get a Lawnmower Blenny and possibly one of the species of Combtooth Tangs (genus Ctenochaetus). And be patient. These filamentous problems take a few weeks to months to rectify. Bob Fenner>

General Statements I started a new tank about a month ago and am doing well. I have 50 lbs of live rock in a 60 gallon tank and my chemistries are almost perfect. I have the 50 gallon clean up crew on the way and some live sand and a few more lbs of live rock. Just recently, algae has begun growing everywhere. My mushrooms and feathers are multiplying as well. Will the cleaner crew help or what other measures should I take? Dr. Nunley <Well, I need a little more info Doc, but I'll make some (hopefully useful) general statements that apply in most all circumstances. You do have a protein skimmer I trust? Have you been cleaning the contactor chamber and collector cup? You should. There are some Clean Up crew animals that are generally not part of companies regular "sets" you might consider. Lawnmower blennies, some species of tangs (Acanthurus nigrofuscus, Combtooth Tangs/Ctenochaetus, smaller Sailfins/Zebrasoma) that if you have room I'd add one or two (of different species). Where is all the nutrient coming from to feed the algae? Are you overfeeding? Improper foods? Where are the other competing users of light? Do you have enough macro algae, other photosynthetic organisms for the light you're providing? All a matter of inputs, outputs and balance... sorta like human health eh? Bob Fenner>

Algae Problems... and Causes I' pretty sure my first try didn't go thru so I will try this again. Live Rock- There is well over 100 lb. it displaces about 30 gal of water. The base of the mound is 3' wide & aprox. 18" deep. I do have some Texas cave rock in the very bottom. I put this in for calcium. the rest is rock I got from the pet store. It reaches up just over 2' all together and covers the entire width of the tank. I also have aprox 2" - 2 1/2" crushed coral & sea shell in the bottom. The lighting consists of 2 super high output lights, 1 is white, 1 is blue. also there is 1- 3' strip florescent light over the back. these are on a timer & comes on @ 6:30 a.m. thru 9:30 p.m. I don't know a lot about phosphates. until about 2 mo. ago I was capping off the evaporation with tap water. I was told this may be the problem, so I started using purified drinking water. This takes about 1/2 gal every other day. Over feeding I don't think is a problem. what I put in is gone in a matter of a couple of min. feed them once most of the time & sometimes twice a day. I only have 6 fish in there. Chemical readings. According to Wardley professional water test lab. Nitrate- this never gets over 10.0 Nitrite- undetectable Ammonia- never over 0.25 PH- 8.0 very consistent. A partial water change is done monthly on a regular basis. 25 gal a mo. At this time I vacuumed the gravel & pull off what algae will come off. Sometimes I have to do more than 25 gal in order to vacuum everything. There are 2 Skilter 400 rear mount filters with a built in protein skimmer in ea. I have rigged 1 of them to pull water off the top of the tank. The other one pulls water from about midway down. There are 3 down flow filters on the undergravel, 1 powerhead shooting toward the top to move the water toward the filter that pulls from the top, 2 power heads that shoot from back to front over the rocks, 3 powerheads set midway down shooting from back to front thru the middle of the rocks& 2 powerheads situated in the rear near the bottom to keep sediment from settling on the bottom behind the rocks. I also have a 3' UV filter on a timer for aprox 4 hrs a day. If you need to know more please write me back. Thanks, Mitch <Thanks for more of the total picture Mitch. Your set-up sounds fine, and it is still my opinion that you have some source (that Texas cave rock, residual die off of/from the other live rock, recycled nutrient from your old tap-water make up days... that is contributing/fueling the hair algae problem (over 99% of the algae is water, so it only takes an itty bitty amount of dry nutrient to make a BUNCH of algae). Also your skimmers are really not adequate for the system. I'd look into a power-motorized hang-on skimmer to use in addition or in place of those Skilters. The improved skimming will go a long way to removing the nutrient that is growing your algae. Lastly, if you want a "quick fix" in addition to the above possibilities, try cutting up and placing some PolyFilter pads in those outside power filters. These will take out the existing nutrient (though you need to find and eliminate their source). If you want, take a sample of your system water into the best livestock fish store in your area and ask them to test it for phosphates. This macro-nutrient is a good chemical indicator. Oh, and if there is no real reason to shut it off (I know of none), do leave the UV on continuously... don't shut it off. Is this clear? Have your water checked for Phosphates, add Polyfilter, get a better/real Skimmer, leave the UV on 24hours a day... Bob Fenner>

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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