Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Algae Control Through Nutrient Limitation

Related FAQs: Algae ControlMarine Algicide Use, Marine Algae Eaters, Culturing Macro-Algae; Controlling: BGA/Cyano, Red/Encrusting Algae, Green Algae, Brown/Diatom Algae, Phosphate

Related Articles: Algae Control, Marine Maintenance, Nutrient Control and Export, Carbon Dosing; An Effective Means of Phosphate and Nitrate Control, by James Gasta 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

Don't forget that many animals rely on some algae for nutrition.  Ctenochaetus tominiensis Randall 1955, the Tomini Bristletooth

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

RE: Coral Beauty
Alg., nutrients.... rdg.       1/14/15

Hi again.
Even though my phosphate meter is showing zero I know it is not totally true.
I still get green algae film on glass and on circulation pumps and get nice dark green collection in skimmer.
<... the algae is highly likely absorbing soluble phosphate; perhaps as a/the rate limiter here>
I am getting lots of green coralline and only a little of purple coralline growing. I have blue, pink and purple on my rock that I used for seeding. I don't mind green but I would like to see more of the purple and blue coralline growing. I may just have too much light.
Thanks again Bruce
<I'd be.... reading... on WWM. B>

Hurting bubble and doughnut coral    6/29/12
Hello Crew,
I have 2 bubble and an Indonesian Scolymia sp (doughnut coral)  that are not doing so great, they're still extending their tentacles, albeit poorly.
But there's part of their skeleton that has turned black. The coral refuse to extend near the black area of the skeleton. Should I remove the dying part, and how the best way to do it?
<I would not remove the necrotic tissue; but would make up a slightly lower (a few thousandths) spg solution of seawater (or just add fresh to a portion of the system water) and a ten times dose of iodide-ate for a five minute bath>
 I suspect the infection started because the bubbles fall from the rock near a lobo coral.
<? What? If too near, I'd move one or the other>
 the Scolymia did not
acclimatize well and has never accepted feeding. Water parameter is within the norm, PH 7,9 salinity 1.025, nitrate 0, phosphate 0,
<Chemophotosynthates need some (measurable) NO3 and HPO4. I'd remove whatever  chemical filtrants you're using here>
calcium 400, alkalinity 9, magnesium 1200.
My second question is why these corals are not doing well (I also have several other LPS not doing so great although they're still extending).
<See above. They're likely starved>
My system is 90g, with an oversized DIY skimmer (rated for 150g) running non stop, NP-Biopellet reactor, and Rowaphos fluidizer.
<Ditch these last two. Unnecessary and expensive>
Additives are Grotech Ca, Mg, and Alk supplied daily via dosing pump (balling light). Lighting is DIY 3wx32 LED fixtures, mix of Royal blue and cool white (50/50). Do you think the light is overkill as some of my LPS won't extend their polyp in direct light?
<Doubtful; no>
 SPS seems to be doing fine of course. Or is it lack of nutrition from over filtration?
<Ding ding ding! Yes>

Do you think I could benefit from using a timer for my skimmer?
<Maybe. Worth trying out>
 Would a Biopellet reactor and RowaPhos fluidizer benefit from timer instead of running 24h non stop?
 I'm thinking about installing an Algae turf scrubber
<Do study carefully. Most designs are not worthwhile>
and see if it can replace the fluidizers, I've heard that they're great way to supply nutrition to your tank. thanks as always for your valuable input :D
<Mmm, and let's have you review here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/MussidDisF4.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Hurting bubble and doughnut coral     7/6/12

Hello Bob,
thanks so much for the suggestion, I tried the iodide bath and both corals seems to be recovering nicely. Still ways to go but hopeful :)
<Ah, good>
I have a follow up question though, if I remove the biopellet and Rowaphos filtration. How do I keep the nitrate and phosphate in control?
<See WWM re... the search tool on every page, the indices... best to strike an input/output balance... as in nature>
 I've been told that a skimmer does not remove these two elements.
<... does remove such, as part of phobic molecules>
 And I fear another algae/Cyano outbreak. I do heavy feeding (twice a day, half a cube each) as I have a couple of Squampini Anthiases.
<Pseudanthias squamipinnis I take it... better to have more, a good sized grouping if your system will accommodate. See WWM re Fancy Basses as well>
<Certainly welcome. Bob Fenner>

Baffled by slime algae nutrients source/Cyanobacteria/Control 3/14/12
Hi crew,
<Hello Lynne>
I am losing my mind and I am hoping you can help me out. I have a long-established FOWLR tank (4 plus years). It is 55 gallons with just shy of 100lbs of Fiji live rock (long time in tank).
I have only 2 fish in the tank (one 6 line wrasse and 1 yellow tang) that are healthy and doing fine. 
I once had a problem with slime algae
<By "slime", are you referring to Cyanobacteria?>
but then it went away for a long time. About 8-9 months ago it came back with a vengeance. So I did the following:
1. I added new substrate to try and increase the sand bed (I would say it is up to 4 inches).
<Won't help.>
2. I added an Aqua C Urchin skimmer to my existing sump that already had an Aqua C EV 120 skimmer in it.
<Should be plenty of quality skimming for a 55 gallon tank.>
3. I reduced feedings dramatically from every day to 3 times per week and eliminated giving flake food, only frozen.
<Do you rinse the frozen food before feeding.  There is much liquid waste in this type food.>
4. I continuously vacuumed out the slime.
None of those things made a difference so I then:
6.Changed and upgraded all of my cartridges (carbon, silica buster, etc, etc) and the RO membrane plus added a TDS monitor to my existing Spectra Pure 5 stage water filter system that I have always used for my tank and refill water.
<Filter pads should be cleaned or changed weekly.>
The tech support Spectra Pure guys said that as long as the TDS monitor reads "0" which it does then I should do a massive water change (about 50%) which I did 3 weeks ago to rule out water as the nutrient source.
<Not necessarily.>
I have since done another 20% water change and the slime keeps coming back after I've vacuumed it out!
<Must go after the source as well.>
I have spent so much more money and time trying to make this problem go away that I am at wits end at this point.
I have only 2 fish that I feed sparingly. I have the best quality water technology can give me, and I have long since cured live rock in the tank with 2 skimmers running so why am I not seeing any improvement??????
<Because you are not addressing the source.  You did not provide any data as to nitrate and phosphate present in your system.  Please do.>
So I need to give it more time? I have read all of your entries from the website on limiting nutrients to cure this problem and I think I have done that but with no results!!
Where can the source nutrients be coming from with so few fish and good quality water???
<In a system four years old, the nutrients are likely coming from the sand bed.  Whenever you change water do you vacuum the sand bed?  You will be quite surprised at what comes out of there.  Have you ever tried Boyd's Chemi-Clean? 
You might also want to dose Tropic Marin's Reef Actif which is a easy form of carbon dosing which will absorb nutrients from the system once the bacterial colony is established.  I use this product myself and find that it works very well.  One container will go a long way. http://premiumaquatics.com/aquatic-supplies/TM-24702.html >
Thanks for your time,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re Baffled by slime algae nutrients source/Cyanobacteria/Control 3/14/12

Hello James and thank you for your responses,
<You're welcome Lynne>
I have vacuumed the sand but that doesn't seem to help either.
<It won't if you do not do this with every water change.>
I also have rinsed the food with no luck. I do not have filter pads which need daily changing in my SpectraPure, only cartridges which are brand new.
<Was not referring the RO unit but pre-filter pads in your sump/wet dry filter.>
I did not provide nitrates and phosphates data because I have wasted money on inaccurate and hard to read test kits. I just figured that if I improved the water quality which I did with the new cartridges and additional skimmer than the Cyanobacteria would gradually go away (which it did in the past).
<These readings are important, how will you know if you are correcting the nutrient problem.  Would you drive a car without gauges or just assume everything is fine.>
I also increased the sand bed based on Bob Fenner's recommendations, so who do I believe???
<I believe it would prevent future Cyanobacteria growth on the new sand but I believe this would only be temporary if the nutrient problem was not corrected.  Higher Kelvin temperature lamps will help reduce Cyano growth as well if enough intensity is present.>
I'll try those products you mentioned,  ahh spend, spend, spend more money!
<Is not a hobby for the poor for sure.  If you follow the Chemi-Clean instructions to the letter, you should see positive results and it may require a second application.>
Thanks for your help anyway,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Algae Problems, SW rdg.   6/24/11
Hey Bob and crew,
Thanks in advance for allowing me to waste your precious time.
First off I am 16 and I run my own small aquarium maintenance business (for almost 2 years now).
<Ahh, outstanding>
I have some experience in dealing with aquariums and fish because I helped run and manage a aquarium store for 3 years (recently closed do to a lack of money). One of my customers has a big problem with phosphates and nitrates (saltwater tank with a couple of corals, live rock and fish).As a result of this(or at least I believe it to be a result this...please correct me if I am wrong) the tank has had several nuisance algae in the past few months, such as hair algae, a different one that looked similar to hair algae but a lot more slimy, smelly and quick growing. Most recently however there seems to be a bloom of cyano-bacteria. The tank is about 9+ months old.
<IF there is nowhere "else" for these nutrient inputs to go to...>
I have tried lowering the phosphates and nitrates by making sure not to over feed, doing frequent water changes, using filter media such as a poly filter pad, Chemi pure, Rowaphos and others. Could this problem be from a lack of biological filtration?
<Mmm, yes... other photosynthetic life as well, or chemoautotrophic competition (DSB...), other...>
what do you suggest I do to solve this problem? Another question I had is, is there a danger in putting to much phosphate removal media in the filter?(like Rowaphos, phos ban etc).
<Take the time to read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm
and the linked terms, files above which you deem useful to you. Bob Fenner>

Is Tufa Rock My Problem And What Can I Do About It? -- 02/18/11
My question pertains to a 6 month old Reef aquarium in which I cannot beat bad algae problems.
<<Not uncommon'¦and do realize that a 6-month old tank is still quite new and likely still finding its balance, especially if the initial stocking was 'rushed'>>
The problem is a combination of algae on the tank glass (mostly green, occasional brownish) and extensive green long hair algae.
<<Been there my friend>>
The glass I have to clean at least twice a week and the hair algae I can't keep up with it. What I've read in a few of your other replies and the fact that most of the hair algae is growing on the Tufa rock (now spreading to the live rock though) leading me to suspect this as the cause.
<<Quite possible, yes. I've read that depending on where it formed/was collected, the Tufa rock may contain a significant detrital component'¦this, and my own personal experiences with this rock, does lead me to believe that it can be quite problematic re excessive nuisance alga growth>>
What are your thoughts on this,
<<As just stated>>
is there anything else I should look at as well?
<<There could well be other factors at play here as you would have seen perusing our site (did you look here and among the associated links? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algnutrcontrolfaqs.htm ), but I would replace the Tufa with good live rock as a start>>
If you feel the Tufa is at fault is there anything I can do other than remove it (it's the base with live rock all cemented on top of it)?
<<Nope'¦will require removal>>
Will the Tufa eventually leach out all its phosphates?
<<At some point it may (months? years?), but changes to water chemistry (e.g. - drop in pH) can start it again...best to remove and replace>>
Is there any product that will neutralize it (without harming tank)?
<<There's no magic bullets here>>
I really don't know what else to do here,
<<You do'¦>>
I was going to get a PhosBan reactor, but the way things are going I feel it a waste of money at this point.
I'm very confused, as most sites suggest Tufa rock in combination with Live rock,
<<Indeed'¦ I've also used man-made rock (i.e. -- cement based rock)'¦another bad decision. It's my opinion that if a reef hobbyist feels the need to use other than quality live rock, the best options are dead/dry reef rock or 'rock' made of a chemically inert ceramic material>>
your site is one of the first that seems to raise concerns about its use.
<<Experience has shown'¦>>
Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
<<You have mine'¦replace the Tufa rock with something better>>
I've detailed my tank and my efforts below in case it helps.
My Setup:
55 Gallon Aquarium (48l x 12d x 20h) with 10 Gallon Sump
(New) SWC 160 Cone skimmer and UV filter (9W)
Two 2 strip T5 HO lights (48') -- 1 on for 9 hours other for 3 hours over noon
Substrate combo crushed coral and live sand
Approx. 30 lbs Live Rock built on top of approx. 20 lbs Tufa rock
2 Clown Fish
2 Banggai Cardinals
1 Yellow Tang
<<The tank is too small for this fish'¦please see WWM re>>
1 Flame Angel
1 Blue Damsel
1 Scooter Blenny
1 Peppermint shrimp
Approx. 15 snails (various)
Approx. 20 Hermit Crabs
1 Bubble tip Anemone
<<Not a good choice for such a young/un-balanced system'¦and always questionable when placed with sessile inverts in such confined space>>
1 Zoanthus
8 green mushrooms
1 (small) Tree Coral
1 (small) bunch Star Polyps
Here is what I do and what I have done to combat the issue:
Water change once per week, 10 to 20% depending on need, includes vacuuming of substrate.
<<Will do little to help until the root problem is addressed>>
Tap Water for Salt mixed water changes and De-ionized Water for the fresh water top up (don't have an RO system). Tap water seems low in Phosphate (around .01 or so).
<<Phosphate is not the only concern. It's not 'always' required, but for the most part, reef hobbyists should invest in some type of tap-water treatment methodology>>
Clean glass twice per week. Pluck Hair Algae at every water change. Taken out and left out smaller loose rocks which were covered in hair algae. Charcoal in Sump. Various Phosphate products in Sump over last few months, including ROWAphos, Phos Guard and Phos-Zorb. Tried reducing lighting even more (only one strip 7 hours a day), doesn't help.
<<Nope'¦and maybe more damaging to your desirable organisms than to the nuisance alga>>
Reduced feeding to once per day, very little if any ever reaches bottom. Testing: Nitrate, Nitrite and Ammonia all 0, Phosphate hard to get accurate test but seems to be one side or the other of .05, pH, calcium, and carbonate all normal
Thanks in advance for any help you may be able to provide
<<You can try to 'ride it out,' but I think you're in for a 'long battle' if you leave the Tufa rock in place. EricR>>

Rinsing Frozen Food (Managing Phosphate) -- 04/06/10
I have been having a bit of a struggle maintaining a low phosphate level. I even have a phosphate reactor and it's difficult to stay below 0.5.
Most of the time it's right at the 0.5 level -- unless I have recently changed the media. Then I can get 0 to 0.25 for a week.
<<Then this would seem to dictate the frequency at which you need to swap out the media (yes'¦expensive)'¦it may also indicate the reactor is 'undersized' for your system>>
I only use RO/DI water and test it to ensure the filters are doing the job.
<<Very good>>
Could it be that I am introducing phosphates as I feed frozen Mysis shrimp?
I don't do anything special -- just add tank water to thaw the cubes
<<This is what I do as well>>
and then feed with a turkey baster.
<<Some authors consider the thaw-water for frozen foods to be 'rocket fuel' for nuisance alga and the like due to the high nitrate/phosphate content. How much of this 'fuel' is present is likely variable among the differing manufacturers/brands available. The only way to truly know 'if' or 'how much' will be to test for such'¦but yes, the thaw-water is very probably a source of phosphate to your system. Try 'rinsing' for a week and see how this affects your phosphate level>>
Thanks for your comments.
<<Quite welcome'¦ EricR>>

TLC Marine SAT - Hair Algae Remover for Reef & Saltwater   2/24/10
I have read many of your links and posts, and I feel I am fairly knowledgeable in reef keeping. This is the exception, in addition to water quality, current, lighting, etc. will TLC Marine SAT - Hair Algae Remover for Reef & Saltwater Aquariums help remove unwanted algae, and if so, is it safe for a reef tank with the normal live sand, corals, fish, etc?
<I have no first hand experience with this "bacteria" product... But quite a large background in the use of such modified microbes for such purposes (they've been used for decades in lakes... ornamental effects/applications;
as well as grease, oil, sewage...) and they can/do indeed work where the circumstances allow/provide for their chemical, biological growth. I would trust to the various postings of hobbyists, actual end-users on bulletin boards, hobby groups' sites here. Bob Fenner>

Nuisance Algae: SW Algae Control - Inadequate skimming likely culprit. 9/2/2009
<Hi Matt.>
Over the years, WWM has provided me with answers to the many questions that have arisen as owner of a saltwater aquarium. Many of the solutions suggested have been of great help and are greatly appreciated.
<Thank you. We are happy that you have found it helpful and informative.>
However, at the present moment, I am faced with a nuisance algae problem that I cannot solve. Since moving my 75 gal reef tank (with 30 gallon refugium) about six months ago, I have been unable to get rid of the algae problem (somewhere between Cyanobacteria and brown algae in color) that I am currently faced with. Despite doing weekly cleanings and water changes, the algae (or whatever it is) will not subside.
<Likely a strain of Cyano.>
I have reduced the amount of food given to the fish and also reduced the amount of time that the lights are on in both the display and the refugium (10-12 hrs/day).
I have about 100 lbs of live rock, 2 inches of live sand in display, 4-5 inches of live sand in the refugium, Chaetomorpha in refugium and a Turboflotor Multi skimmer. The refugium has 2 55 watt PC and the display
has 4 65 watt PC. Livestock in the tank is as follows: small clownfish, blue hippo tang, purple tang, polyp colony, snails and a couple crabs.
<Large number of big fish for a 75 gallon.>
My parameters are as follows: SG - 1.024, PH 8.2, NO3 - 0, NO2 - 0, Ammonia - 0.
<Looks good.>
Since moving, the Chaetomorpha does not seem to be doing well. It is covered on top by red slime.
<It happens. Just remove it.>
When I look at the layers underneath, it seems to be in fine shape.
<Very typical.>
All the small critters in the refugium seem to be doing alright. In looking at the water surface in the display, there is a film on top.
<A clue. Organics are building up on the surface and are not getting pulled out by the skimmer. For that matter, it doesn't seem as if your overflow is pulling enough water from the surface>
Additionally, my protein skimmer is quickly clogged and needs to be cleaned out completely once every two weeks in order to maintain good operation.
<Hmm.... Mine never gets clogged up, but I need to clean my cup and riser tube every 3 - 4 days. How much 'gunk' are you skimming every day?>
I don't know really where to go from here. Should I look into a new skimmer?
<That is an option - Turboflotors are pretty good skimmers. Are you sure you have yours set up correctly?>
Do I need more rock?
<You should have enough with 100 lbs.>
Is the decline in the Chaetomorpha contributing to the algae problem?
<Likely so. Try to get it closer to the light.>
What would you recommend I do to help combat this problem?
<Do look closer at your skimmer. Water changes, good skimmer production, and manual removal of the algae will eventually beat it. It will take some time though.>
I just want to make sure that I am providing my fish and other marine life forms with a great place to live. Anything you could suggest to help me out would greatly appreciated.
<Do the things I mention above and have a read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm It will take a while, but you will win eventually.>
Thanks again for providing us with a great resource in WWM.
<Thank you.>
<<Mmm, and my dos centavos in addn.... I'd look into "means" of raising RedOx, measuring for such... The skimmer upgrade, fixing et al. Mike mentions here might do it here, or adding/switching out for some new live rock, adding a high/er K light (10-20...) or outright: Ozonizer. RMF>>

Green Hair Algae Problem (Ready to quit!) -- 08/31/09
I would like to thank you in advance.
<<We're happy to help>>
Since all systems seemed different I was unable to get any answers to my problem. You mentioned not enough circulation as possible one aid, protein skimmers, excess lighting and so on.
<<All mentioned on the site, yes>>
I have a 90 gal. display reef which is run off a 100 gal unlit sump and a 30 gal frag tank that also runs off the sump.
This baffles even my supplier as "everything is right" (apparently not) according to him.
<<Mmm'¦ Everything but the source of nutrients fueling the nuisance algae>>
I do not use a bio filter of any kind relying on the live rock. I do have Eheim wet/dry canisters at the ready if you recommend them, which so far I have been advised against the use of (my supplier said their use would come back to haunt me down the road) but to rather rely on my live rock, all Fiji Island real stuff.
<<This is a bit over-simplified but, I do agree that on reef systems a wet/dry filter can be so efficient at converting nitrogenous compounds to Nitrate faster than the 'live rock' can deal with it that they become problematic>>
The display tank is lit by 2-250 watt 14,000K bulbs. For circulation I have about 700 gph being circulated up from my basement sump. I have a Fluval FX5 kicking the circulation at 925 gph (running empty). I also have two Hagen 802 powerheads adding an additional (est.) 440 gph each. This tank really churns.
Nitrates are kept at near zero, phosphates even lower, I use strictly RO water have a sump mounted Kent 220 needle wheel protein skimmer
<<I think you mean a Coralife 220'¦and I have no doubt (either way) that you could improve things with a better skimmer>>
but only run carbon about once a month.
<<Time to step this up>>
I use strictly Salifert test kits so I know the following readings are quite accurate.
<<Good test kits, yes'¦but I'm skeptical your Nitrate/Phosphate readings are of much use re the abundance of nuisance algae 'skewing' the results>>
Hard/Alk is kept at 1,250 ppm
<<I do hope you mean this to be the Magnesium level. Most test kits measure Alkalinity as mEq/L or dKH'¦and while some will give Alkalinity results in ppm (LaMotte), 1250 ppm would be some 4-5 times too high for an Alkalinity reading>>
calcium 450 ppm (as best I can as this system eats calcium at an incredible pace so I am about to add a calcium reactor). I've been a reef hobbyist for over 20 years and I have never had such an out of control green hair algae problem like this one.
<<Does happen to the best of us. I've been in the hobby more than 3 decades, and still do battle with nuisance alga from time to time>>
I've done the snail and crab route (I saw in one of your answers you recommend. snails vs. crabs)
<<I actually do not'¦but opinions do vary here>>
but even my army of snails can't control this.
<<As is usually the case'¦ Often the snails won't/don't even feed on the problem alga. And adding an 'army' of such generally leads to starvation and resultant pollution/exacerbation of the problem>>
My sand bed is less than 1" deep in the display tank. In the sump it is about 4" but kept vacuumed as this is where we do our water changes from.
<<This vacuuming may be disturbing the bacteria layers and nullifying the benefit re, if done to thoroughly/too often>>
My frag tank is also shallow in sand, has a 150W, 14,000K halide and is on an alternating time schedule. Halides are on for 8 hour periods, no other source of light. I have spent a fortune on this system (I am also a serious planted wild caught discus hobbyist) and I am ready to call it quits. This tank is not an enjoyment anymore, more of a nightmare. PLEASE HELP, I'VE BEEN FIGHTING THIS PROBLEM FOR A YEAR NOW!
<<Well Cindy, the problem isn't going to go away until you determine and correct the source of nutrient import (although, there is speculation that at some point a large nuisance alga growth can generate its own nutrient supply). This 'source' could be many things and it is virtually impossible for me to say just what it is'¦especially since you don't provide much info here re your feeding/maintenance/husbandry routines. You did state you use only R/O water, but have you checked this as a possible source? Perhaps the membrane is faulty/needs changing'¦ At any rate, I would consider adding a DI resin cartridge to the R/O filter setup. I would also add carbon AND Poly-Filter to that empty canister filter you have running. This won't 'cure' your problem'¦but it can help slow down or stop the growth/spread of the nuisance alga. There's also been anecdotal proof that maintaining pH for several weeks in the 8.5-8.6 range can help rid a current nuisance alga problem. But in the end, you still need to determine the cause and deal with it. Do feel free to write back/discuss your maintenance/husbandry procedures if you wish>>
Thanks so much,
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
Re: Green Hair Algae Problem (Ready to quit!) -- 09/01/09

Hi Eric:
<<Hey Cindy>>
I have a little more time now. In addition to the following info I sent you this morning
<<I'm afraid I haven't seen/received this>>
I thought I would share a bit more. My other problem I have had in the past is with our FX5 being loaded with any form of media or sponges. Being the ultra powerful filter it is, it is capable of drawing from as far away as 4 ft. This has resulted in major air bubble production.
<<Mmm'¦ I seem to recall a member of my local reef club having similar problems with one of these units. He ended up returning it to the store>>
Our reef looks like a blizzard in the tropics.
<<Not good>>
This is why I have been running the FX5 empty.
<<Then maybe you could invest in a (couple?) smaller unit to use for some ancillary chemical filtration>>
The first thing I put any kind of anything in it we get "whiteout conditions" on my reef tank. I will remove the powerheads so as there is less oxygen feed to the FX5.
<<Not necessary/not the issue>>
The reef was much cleaner with the FX5 loaded but the corals could not take the bubbles and all retracted.
My supplier called Hagen on my behalf today looking for a solution to the air bubble problem with the FX5. Between us, we have not been able to stop this problem to date. We have tried about most everything he carries in his store but no success to date. Do you have any idea what might help with breaking up this bubble problem?
<<Perhaps a reduction in flow via a valve on the 'output' side to temper re>>
In the meantime he is going to order me a new, better membrane.
<<Did you test the effluent from your R/O unit? Perhaps this data was in the info I have not received'¦>>
The skimmer we have been talking about is an Octopus Extreme (200 gal.).
<<Ah! Actually, I have heard some good things about the 'Octopus' skimmers>>
Is there something you would recommend more?
<<I am a big fan of the Euro-Reef skimmer line (is what I use). But do also like/recommend skimmers from AquaC, H&S, Bubble King, and Tunze>>
Incidentally the Coralife skimmer's cone and collection cup are cleaned daily. The impeller and bubble column are cleaned monthly.
<<Very good>>
Thank you again for your time.
<<Happy to share'¦ Eric Russell>>
R2: Green Hair Algae Problem (Ready to quit!) -- 09/01/09

Thanks so very much Eric:
<<Ah! The missing query'¦ And you're quite welcome Cindy>>
Yes, you are right, "Coralife skimmer"
As to my husbandry methods.....minor details!!!!
<<But it truly is often 'in the details'>>
I feed strictly frozen foods about 3 to 4 times a week and only a cube at a time.
<<Yikes! I know you are trying to limit nutrient import'¦but you are starving your fish and your system. Algae issues or not, please, please feed your fishes a varied and 'plentiful' diet>>
I only have a few fish on the reef, a clown, a Sailfin tang, a beta, a Banggai and a goby.
<<Mmm, not so few as to justify your feeding regimen'¦ I would feed at least several cubes of frozen food, a couple times A DAY. Rinsing the defrosted food briefly under the tap (in a small fine mesh net like that used for brine shrimp) can help to rinse away excess nutrients from the pack water>>
The reef itself is heavily populated with soft polyped stony corals. The display tank probably has about 150 pounds of live rock, about 8 inches from the water surface. We water change at about 25% once a week normally unless I fall behind but we try to stay on top of our water changes regularly.
<<Just a thought, but have you tested your salt mix for excess Nitrate/Phosphate? Do also be sure to allow newly mixed salt water to 'mature' a bit before use (48hrs.)'¦and I'm also going to suggest letting water changes slip to every TWO WEEKS (for a while at least) to allow the system more time to stabilize/find its balance betwixt these, and to slow down any possible importation of algae fueling nutrients>>
Being into discus we know all to well the value of "keeping up". We have ultra soft tap water but I run every last drop through my RO. My tap water tests at 6.2 pH and no nitrates or phosphates.
We replace the fiber cartridge monthly. We recently replaced the DI and carbon cartridges (upgraded brand my dealer ordered special for me) as well but to no improvement.
<<Mmm'¦ I see'¦>>
Yes my dealer did recommend we replace the membrane if this doesn't work which it hasn't.
<<Most any R/O membrane should have a useful life of 12-24 months (often much longer) unless otherwise damaged>>
We have not gotten around to replacing the membrane but I will order one today. Yes we have considered buying a stronger skimmer. What would you recommend?
<<As stated in my earlier response I really like Euro-Reef but do also peruse the offerings from AquaC, H&S, and others>>
My dealer thinks we should go with an Octopus (sp?) but a more professional grade one as money is no object at this point in time having spent so much already. We just really need to get this thing straightened out. It has been so frustrating.
Our dealer is going to a big aquarium show this month in Florida and asked if I wanted anything special. I will order the skimmer you recommend and was also wondering about a calcium reactor?
<<Can be a very useful adjunct. Check out offerings from Knop, Precision Marine, AquaC'¦>>
Regarding the hard/Alk. = OOOPS, 11.2 to 12.5, usually to the low end of that. I'll raise my pH as well. It is usually about 8.3 to 8.4. Thank you so much. This has been a real tough road. I know so much but yet so little and is so incredibly frustrating.
<<The learning process is indeed continuous. Aside from helping others, one of the very best aspects of assisting at WWM is the knowledge I gain each day re>>
We really do appreciate all your time and help Eric.
<<It is truly my pleasure to share/conspire with you'¦ Eric Russell>>

Phosphate & Stocking question: Phosphate\nutrient\algae control and stocking SW 8/30/3009
Dear WWM Crew,
<Hi Jan.>
As always, thank you for your great site. Over the 4 years that we have had our reef tank your help and advice has been invaluable!
<Thank you for the kind words.>
Our tank setup is as follows:
- 75 G Oceanic reef ready bow front with a 20 G Eco Systems refugium, about 80 lbs. of live rock.
- Water quality: 77.5 degrees F, 1.025 SG, 8.3 pH, 5 ppm Nitrate, 0 ppm Ammonia & Nitrite, 420 ppm Ca, 1470 ppm Mg, 7.0 dKH and 1 ppm PO4.
<High phosphate, but you already knew that...:) >
- 15% water change every Friday using RO/DI water with 0 ppm readings on the meter.
- 3 feedings per day with a mixture of liquid, frozen & dry foods.
<Ding! we have a winner.>
- Livestock: 2 clownfish (A. ocellaris), mated and spawning
1 Yellow Tang (Z. flavescens)
3 Blue-Green Chromis (Chromis viridis)
3 Peppermint Shrimp (L. wurdemanni)
2 Cleaner Shrimp (L. amboinensis)
2 Fire Cleaner Shrimp (L. debelius)
5 blue legged hermit crabs
Various corals.
<A reasonably stocked tank.>
I have two areas where I need your advice (without which, I am reluctant to do anything in this tank).
<Fair enough.>
1. High phosphate level. Due to ???.
I'm getting a PO4 reading of 1 ppm (confirmed with 2 different test kits) which I understand to be very high. I am experiencing some hair algae growth and CBA (CBA mainly in the refugium). I use RO/DI water (which I have tested a 0 ppm PO4) and I have tested the new salt water before the water change at 0 ppm PO4. The substrate is about 2 to 3 inches deep.
All of the corals are healthy and growing. I do not now where the PO4 is coming from (the substrate?) or how big a problem this is. So, I'm confused and could use some advice.
<Two possible causes - 1st, how much are you skimming out of this tank?
Your skimmer could be undersized. 2nd: Three feedings a day is excessive, especially with liquid foods - those should be used no more than once or twice a week.
we tend to overfeed these because it is a liquid.>
2. Stocking question. Should we add a "Lawnmower" Blenny (S. Fasciatus), or not.
<I wouldn't, you are reasonably stocked now, adding anything else will be pushing the limits.>
Recently, after 3 years of healthy living, our Mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus) died. We intend to replace him with another Mandarinfish.
<Do give the pod population time to replenish itself before adding another.
75 gallons is on the edge of being too small for a Mandarin. They need a large tank with a healthy pod population.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandfdgfaqs.htm >
We would also like to add a "Lawnmower" Blenny (S. Fasciatus) but have some concerns. In researching this fish I understand that they can be quite territorial, even belligerent.
<Yes they can: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/blencompfaqs.htm >
Given that we are going to have a Mandarinfish and that our clownfish have taken up residence in a Zoanthid coral on the bottom, right corner of the tank, should we add the Blenny? The thought of a bullying Blenny bothering the clownfish in their little home is untenable. But we need an algae eater and I love the way these crazy looking "Lawnmower" Blennies look.
<You already have a voracious algae eater in the Yellow Tang. Between phosphate control. removing any that is in danger of covering\damaging any corals, and the tang, the hair algae will quickly be under control. Adding a phosphate reactor or just using some Polyfilters can help speed the process up.>
Thanks for your thoughts!!
<My pleasure.>
Re: Phosphate & Stocking question: Phosphate\nutrient\algae control and stocking SW 8/30/3009

Hi Mike,
<Hi Jan.>
Thanks so much for your quick response! However, I have a couple of follow up questions.
1. Are you saying that the PO4 is in the food or that we're putting too much
food in the tank, or both?
The liquid foods we use are made by Reef Nutrition.
<A good brand.>
We use their Phyto-Feast, Oyster Feast & Arcti-Pods. The first two are for the corals. The frozen foods are made by Bio-Pure and we vary the types between feedings. Also, it was my understanding that 3 light feedings per day was ideal. Wrong? If so, what would you recommend?
<Unless you have a fish with a very particular diet, once or twice a day is fine. The fish will graze the rest of the day.>
By the way, the skimmer that we use is the one that came with the Eco-Systems refugium that was specified for this size tank, so I hope that's not undersized.
<Should be fine - are yo getting a lot of skimmate?>
2. Regarding the stocking question, if we decided not to replace the Mandarinfish, would the Lawnmower Blenny be OK? Our Tang, while it does peck at the rock, couldn't be described as a voracious algae eater (at this my wife says maybe because we're overfeeding!).
<Perhaps - tangs love hair algae - at least mine did.>
There seems to be plenty of algae on the rock (not hair algae!). My initial concern about adding this fish was potential aggression towards the clownfish. Or is six fish enough
for a 75G tank?
<6 is about the limit for a 75.>
Once again, thanks for all of your help!!
<My pleasure.>

R2: Refugium Macroalgae, Calc. use, alg. contr.  - 08/14/08    Hi Eric! <<Hi Jennifer!>> Thank you so much for the wealth of information and reaffirming what I've read about carbon. <<Ahh…my pleasure>> I keep a sponge in the bottom of the refugium to colonize bacteria for QT so carbon is not needed is that area. I'll try to raise the pH. I think I've read that increasing the calcium will help in the algae area...is this true? Jennifer <<Calcium itself won't affect nuisance algae growth, that I am aware. A calcium source like Calcium Hydroxide (Kalkwasser) will precipitate Phosphate which can help to "starve out" the nuisance algae, but I don't feel simply bumping up Calcium levels with something like Calcium "Chloride" for example, will have a malaffect on the nuisance algae. In fact, the accumulation of Chloride ions may well have just the opposite affect if it depresses pH. Cheers, EricR>>

Use of Purigen/Carbon/Polyfilter and Algae 8/6/08 Good Evening, <Hello Sean.> I have been battling some green hair algae problems and it was recommended to me by one of your crew (M. Maddox) to use Purigen, activated carbon, phosphate sponge and Polyfilter. <I would pick one of these, not the phosphate sponge. Running all of this will do too much and start a whole new set of issues. The best course of action would be to find the fuel source for the algae and control it.> I do regular 7 gallon weekly (at least) water changes with only RO water. I also picked up a protein skimmer (CPR SR3) which has been up and running about 2 weeks now. My question is does Purigen require water to be forced through it like carbon and phos sponge? The directions don't say anything specific like the phos sponge and carbon directions do. <You will need to flow water through it, yes.> Also I have an 29gallon Oceanic BioCube and I'm trying to find places to stuff the media bags. Would it be in my best interest to use a canister filter or would stuffing media bags into high flow areas accomplish the same thing? <This is one point of consideration re which media. If you do not have a suitable space for bagged media, the Polyfilter is a good choice. Really, there is no need to run both.> Also can/should I mix different medias together into a single bag and put it in high flow (I know this won't apply to phos sponge because it needs to be removed in 2 days)? <You could mix, but doing so takes away your opportunity to remove one or the other if need be.> Also how much of these medias can/should I use (not much indication on directions)? <A few tablespoons of carbon is all for a system this size. The Polyfilter can be cut to fit your filtration on the tank, this will force the water to flow through the filter.> I have heard that carbon can potentially bleach corals. Is this true? <It some systems the sudden use of too much of these filtrants can cause shock, both chemically and physically; lighting intensity increase due to increased water clarity.> Thanks for any and all help! Best regards, Sean <Welcome, I have included a link below for you. This will give you the general idea behind what to look for battling the algae. Good luck, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm

Blue Tang Problems 04/05/2008 Hi All, <<Hello, Andrew today>> I have recently been having some trouble with a Blue Hippo Tang in my 75gal reef aquarium. It has begun scratching on the rock work in the tank more frequently than normal, and has numerous raised bumps on it, about the size of a pinhead, and a few of them are white. I originally thought it was Ich, but as none of my other tank's inhabitants (2 percula clowns, 1 coral beauty, 1 Hawkfish) have had any symptoms or odd behavior, I figured it was something else. The tang has had this problem before, though not as badly as lately and those bumps usually went away within a few days or so, but this recent outbreak has lasted about 5 days now. My water parameters are pretty good, 0 phosphate, 0 nitrite, 0 ammonia, 2.5 nitrate, pH 8.3, salinity 1.025, calcium at 450 and Alk at 8, so water quality shouldn't be the issue. I am inclined to think it is something fungal on the Tang, and if so, what should be used to treat it? I have been soaking the food in Selcon and garlic alternately to try to help out. The tang eats very well, I usually feed Formula flakes, pellets and frozen foods, I tried to get it to eat Nori and seaweed, but it refuses to eat anything off a veggie clip. Any advice? <<Does not sound fungal to me, it does sound like Ich, and Ich that has not gone away from a previous infection. I would suggest moving the stock to QT and treat with hyposalinity and monitor all. More can be read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichart2mar.htm >> On a hopefully unrelated note, I have been having some Cyanobacteria problems for a few months now, it will grow on the rock and glass until I siphon it off during weekly maintenance, and then grow right back. Skimming through some of your files here at WWM, I read that the DOC's from frozen foods can fuel Cyano growth <<Potentially, yes>>. I usually feed one cube a day, and until very recently, hadn't decanted the 'juice' out of the cubes, would that be the source of the problem? <<Quite possible, yes. The juice from the frozen foods contain a high amount of phosphate (even though some foods say they don't). Cyano can appear from a few things overfeeding, too much light (lighting period), high phosphate and nitrates, flow....One of these area's are providing the means for the Cyano to bloom>> Thank you for all your help, your services are invaluable. Kindly, Daniel <<Thank you for the questions Daniel, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Water chemistry question... Anomalous invert. SW losses   2/21/08 Hey guys, long time lurker first time e-mailer. I have a 50g mixed reef with a 20g sump/refuge. My water parameters always test to 0ppm for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate; phosphates are about 0.05ppm (LFS test), calcium is between 400 and 450ppm, Alk is 10dkh, lastly my magnesium is 1350. The tank was upgraded from my 24g nanocube which ran for 2 years, and now my 50g has been up for about 10 months. I've been having a bad green hair algae problem and been having a hard time keeping my Astrea and Mexican Turbos alive for more then a month. <Mmm... something... is growing there that is poisoning the snails...> I now only have 2 Astraea's, initially I couldn't figure out why I would lose my Astraea's and Turbos but after surfing around on WWM I think I'm attributing it to pyramid snails. <Maybe...> I see them around the tank and I pick them out by hand, and now I inspect my two Astraea's and remove the pyramid's from them. <Do you see these actually on the dead snails?> I don't see the pyramids much anymore. Anyway I did get 2 months ago a Sixline partially because I wanted to see if it would eat the pyramids and partially because I like watching them. Anyway he lasted about 2 weeks and I found him stuck to my maxi-jet 1200 that I modded for more flow. <Also likely poisoned...> I don't know why he died but he looked great up until I came home and saw him dead. Anyway because I can't keep snails alive a few weeks after that I got a sea hare <Mmm, I would be checking the species, its biology... too many of these are coldwater, too toxic themselves...> thinking maybe with the absence of snails or a clam the pyramids would die. The sea hare did great, he was mowing down the algae but he lasted 2 weeks as well. <Something, chemical, biochemical...> I found him one day behind my rockwork white as a ghost and with his guts spit out. Lastly a month later I decided to get a tuxedo urchin. He's been great at eating the algae as well but he just died today. Is there some type of pest that would take these guys out, or is there some chemical that both my LFS and my tests aren't looking for? Oh by the way, I do a water change out of 10g once every week and a half and for fish I only have 2 ocellaris clowns and they have been in both tanks since day one and they and my corals don't seem to be affected at all. This can't just be bad luck can it? <Again... summat amiss here... Could be a blue-green, other Division algae, or something else... I would try using a pad of PolyFilter (please write back re colors you see accumulating on the pad), and add a good bit of some "other" species of useful algae to your lighted area of the refugium (Gracilaria or Chaetomorpha are my best choices)... You need to eliminate whatever the toxicity is here, and these steps should do it. Bob Fenner>

Re: Water chemistry question... Anomalous invert. SW losses... Tufa rock  2/21/08 Thank you very much for your help. I'll pick up some PolyFilter and let you guys know. I do have some Chaeto in my fuge and it grows fast <A good sign> but my fuge is starting to be overcome by the hair algae as well. <A bad one... Do you have access to a few hundred power microscope? I am suspecting that this hair algae is a Cyanobacteria... no nuclei or other visible endoplasmic inclusions... See WWM re ID...> The algae itself is a darker green and is soft/silky when I pull it out. <Does it feel slimy?> I'm also using about 40 pounds of tufa rock if that has anything to do with it, <Erp! Does... See WWM re... use the search tool and the term... on the "Ask the Crew..." page, view the cached views... the Tufa rock is VERY likely the source of trouble here> the other 30 pounds are Fiji base rocks transferred from my nano cube. Anyway thank you for your time, I'll update you in a few days. <The PolyFilter will help absorb some of the Tufa issue, but not indefinitely... it needs to be pulled. BobF>

Re: Water chemistry question... Anomalous invert. SW losses... Tufa Rock  2/21/08 Aha! Tufa rock, man I wish I would have read what I just read 10 months ago. <Ah, you and I both> I'm attaching a picture of what the algae looks like in my tank. <Nice... except for the...> I do have to say that until I got my ATO working in my sump when I was first setup and cycling the tank my water level ran low and 2 times I had to top off with tap water because I didn't have an RODI unit and the grocery store's unit was down for maintenance. The algae started out as Cyano obviously because of my use of tap water and after 3 months turned to what you see now in the picture. It's not really slimy, at least not like what Cyano feels like but it is kind of close. You can see in the picture that all of the tufa rock has bad hair algae and non of my established Fiji rock has it. <A clue eh?> I manually pick it out to battle it, I've gone as far as remove the rocks on the right side of the tank to scrub them in water from a water change and then put them back in only to find that the problem got worse. <More exposed surface area on the Tufa...> It seems like the more I pick the algae out the faster it grows back. My dad's work has an electron microscope that takes pictures he's going to see if he can bring it home over the weekend because I'll be up in Cleveland visiting my parents, if not he said I can put some algae in a test tube and he'll take it to work and email me the pictures. <Neat!> Also to answer a previous question you asked, I have never seen the so called pyramid snails that I think I have on a dead Astrea or turbo, but I have seen them on the live ones. I figured better to be safe then sorry and pick them out. In my nano-cube they did stay on the glass and algae all the time but I had a hard time keeping the snails alive there too, especially Mexican Turbos. <These may be something other than Pyramidellids> I had one live about 8 months but the replacement one lived 2 or 3 months. The poly-filter is in my sump, what color would it turn if its a toxic chemical from the tufa rock? Green? <We'll see... depends on the nutrients available, preponderant> Lastly, my wife and I are closing on a house tomorrow and will be moving into it on March 2nd. <Ah, congrats!> My plans were to first plumb a 50g Rubbermaid stock tank in our basement and plumb that to the main tank that would be on the first floor in our family room. My idea for moving would be to dig my snails out of the sand, and pitch the sand and start fresh as recommended by my local reef club. To transport the water I was going to use the orange 5g painter buckets to get them from my apartment to my new house and setup my 24g nano until the dust clears in the main tank with the new sand. If the tufa rock is the culprit, I have about 40lbs in my main display, if I were to remove it and add 40lbs of Fiji rock to my main display wouldn't the combination of adding the sand and rock send my tank into another cycle? <Quite possibly so... I'd get the new Fiji LR and cure it ASAP, and move it in with the big MOVE> If so should I just keep my nano-cube up and running to just re-cycle my tank or how would you go about that whole situation? Also, to clarify, were you referring to my algae problem being caused by the tufa rock maybe? Or where you referring to the tufa rock releasing the toxin into my system killing new additions? Or both? <Both... or the algae the Tufa is "sponsoring" in turn producing toxins... The Tufa's got to go. Bob Fenner>

PhosBan Use 2/3/08 Hey there! <Dean> I have been battling an algae problem that I can't seem to eradicate though I have been following your advice, and I have an odd question. I have a 55 gallon tank, with 3 Zebra Bar dartfish, two Ocellaris clowns, and one lawnmower blenny. The tank has a 5 inch sugar sized sand DSB; nitrates are <5. I try to make watch my feedings so that all the food is eaten. Do about 10% a week water changes. <I would increase the water changes this to further combat nitrate.> Euro Reef RS80 Skimmer. I have done PO4 tests and it is always 0, but I know that the test only shows organic phosphate. <Or it is being consumed as fast as it is produced.> So today I hooked up a Phosban Reactor. General plan, was to clean out the PO4 from the system then use the reactor for chemical filtration if need be. Long term plan is to hook up a Nielsen Reactor via a Tunze Osmolator I just won off eBay cheap. <OK> Following the directions for Phosban, I added water to the container to eliminate the dust when handling. I took the water out of my water change mixing tank. When I added it to the container of Phosban, it sizzled and smoked. To me, this is an indication of a chemical reaction. My question - does this indicate the presence of PO4 in my water change water? <No, Phosban usually makes a sizzling noise when you hydrate it. As far as smoke, I would bet it was dust already in the container, it is very fine and appears smoke-like when you add water. I would carefully rinse all of the dust out before adding it to the reactor.> I use a RO unit to filter the water before mixing. Is my salt in question then? Or am I all wet? <Test both your RO water and mixed salt water if you want to see if there is any phosphate in either. What you describe above is normal, not an indication of phosphate.> Thanks for the help - hope this isn't a dumb question. <Welcome, not a dumb question, Scott V.> Dean

Re: Please help me ID and get rid of this Brown Algae 8/29/07 Hi Bob. You helped me identify some algae in my tank as Peyssonnelia sp. a few days ago. I noticed tonight, that over the last week, this algae seems to be declining. <I see this> I attached a picture I took a week ago, and a picture I took tonight. The pictures are of the same exact spot on the rock. The only thing I've done differently over the past week, was I ran activated carbon for 3 days, per your recommendation for my mushroom corals that were limp and you thought might be caused by chemical warfare (forget your exact term). <Perhaps allelopathy... "disease to others"> Could the carbon have helped at all with this nuisance algae by removing undesirables out of the water? <Of a certainty, yes> I hope to see it all vanish soon!! Thanks!
<Likely so... will you miss it? BobF>

I hope I am wrong about my Lace Rock - 06/29/07 Hey Guys, <Jim> I am hoping you will send me off in another direction, but any help at this point would be great. I have an algae issue (green hair / filament algae). I do weekly H20 changes with RO/DI water. I also "vacuum, brush and pull" the algae off the rocks 2x a week. <No fun...> I have great flow (20x) I also "brush off rocks to make sure...(desperate?) <Maybe> I also have tested my fresh and salt mix. All are 0 nitrate and 0 po4. My tank test 0 nitrate and 0 or very close on po4. I took my h20 into LFS to confirm and they did. I have a refug. and a res. with a protein skimmer. I have changed my lights (4 halide 150w 1400k). I am running with phospholock (sp? ferric hydroxide?) etc. I don't "feed" my corals etc. I only have 12 small fish in a 265 tank I am running a protein skimmer and clean it every other day. I may not have as many cleaner crew as a LFS would recommend, but they are breeding and seem to be doing fine. I have 2 tangs and a lawn mower blenny. I need to scrub my overflows daily because the algae is clogging them. I need to clean my sponge filter 2x a week because it is clogged with algae. I may need a shrink soon.... <Heeeeee! Maybe one with long arms who can help pull the algae!> I have a old live rock (that sat out for a year) from my old tank (50 or so lbs) with 60 that I got when I set this up and about 90 lbs of lace rock which sat in my old tank for 2-3 years as well (and then out for a year). <... I see> I had an algae problem in my old tank, but it was pieced together and I figured was due to poor set up / maint. <Mmm, maybe just one aspect...> Given all this...Could it have been the lace rock? <Yes> I put a piece in a bit of clean salt water and it seems to have raised the PO4, but test kits are not extremely accurate. I am out of other ideas. I hope I am wrong as I have the whole thing nicely strapped into a PVC frame that looks great and a bunch of SPS and LPS coral that is thriving when the algae keeps off of it. I really don't want to have to take it all apart and am not sure how I would even start doing it. But, I also can't spend 2 nights a week cleaning up the algae. <Yikes.... I'd be pulling, replacing> Any help would be great. The tank was "fine" for about the first 6 months but the last have been a real challenge. Oh and I add purple up <Oh! I'd abandon this product as well... More trouble than it's worth...> to try and get the good pink stuff thriving. Every thing looks healthy, SPS is spreading and growing, LPS looks good. Soft are spreading, xenia is the only thing that is not spreading (I am glad). Again thanks. <Mmm, well... there are even more countervailing strategies than the ones you have aptly applied here (refugium, skimming, chemical filtrants...), but I would remove the Lace rock, quit the Purple Up... and you should see, realize almost immediate improvement. Bob Fenner>

Re: I hope I am wrong about my Lace Rock 6/29/07 Thanks Bob. Does this process make sense? <Let's see...> Pull Lace Rock and stop purple up. See if issue goes away. If it does then Add new Live Rock to replace Lace Rock? <I wouldn't wait m'self> How do I make sure the LR is fully cured? <See WWM re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marinvind1.htm> I could add a piece at a time or keep it in a tub with a power head for a while. I know I have a good bio load in the tank but I am not sure what impact adding 50 - 70 lbs of live rock will have (except to my wallet..) <One approach> I have a water making station I could put some live rock in, but it is only a 35gal tub. <Big enough...> Thanks for your support. I look to your site often. <I as well... perhaps a bit too often and long! Cheers, BobF>

Heavy Nutrient Issues and Refugium Questions.  - 05/07/07 Greetings, <Jason.>      I have a few questions about my refugium.   <Okay.> I have a 60 gallon FOWLR with a sand bed ~4 inches deep. I've added on a CPR Refugium to help reduce our nitrate levels which have come down from 80 to 40 over the past 6 months or so since I added the refugium.   <Still very high though, I would be supplementing with frequent and large water changes my friend. As well as trying to find out what the source is; to much livestock? Overfeeding? Not enough water changes? Poor source water? A Build up of nutrients or detritus somewhere in the system? Are you using a protein-skimmer?> The refugium itself has about a 3 inch sand bed with some live rock and some Chaetomorpha.  So here are my questions: 1.  I can't seem to keep the Chaetomorpha anchored.  It always seems to float to the top of water and the lights end up baking it.  Any ideas? <Well Chaeto does not use hold-fasts it is a tumbling weed. I would not try to anchor it but I would increase the water flow in the fuge to keep the mass tumbling.> Currently i <I> have a couple of live rocks on top of it. <That's not how this "beast" operates my friend…it is meant to be free floating.> 2.  I have some brown hair algae that has been pretty persistent in the refugium.   <High nutrient levels and poor water flow are a bad combination.> I put some turbo snails in the refugium a while ago and they did a good job on it but one day they all ended up in the outflow tube and the refugium ended up overflowing overnight and shorting out  most of the electrical to the entire tank, so i've <I've> been hesitant to put anything back in there (any suggestions?). <I think you need to increase your water-flow, and star on a "hardcore" water change regime. I wouldn't add any animals to the refugium…if there's something in there you don't like remove it manually.>   I've added some PhosX pads to the refugium and they may have helped but not tremendously.   <Yes this well help the symptoms but not the main issue…you need to find the source of your nutrient issues.> 3.  My local fish store has  told me that once the refugium gets the nitrate levels down to 0-20 we won't need to change the water anymore.  Any truth to that? <Not at all my friend, it may decrease the frequency and amount you have to change, but eliminate them…hardly.> Lastly and unrelated to refugiums.  What are some good choices for a cleanup crew for removing fish waste from the superficial sand layers?   Currently we have a bunch of turbo snails and a few (3 or 4) super Tongan Nassarius snails and an emerald crab.  We had an electric blue hermit crab that recently kicked the bucket. <Well invertebrate life isn't going to last long in tank with such heavy nutrients, though I am a fan of the Nassarius snails. That is the first and foremost issue here. I also am under the impression that the tank needs more water flow on the whole, if wastes/detritus is settling into the sand; you don't have enough water flow to keep it suspended…and maybe your sand is to coarse.> Thank you guys for all of your help, never does a week go by where I don't utilize your website to some extent!! <Thank you and keep reading.> Jason <Adam J.>

Re: Fighting The Algae War...There "Is" Light At The End Of The Tunnel! RO use, alg./nutr. depr. - 05/01/07 Hey Eric! <<Hey Linda!>>    Linda from GA here...hope all is well with you. <<Ah yes, I do recall...and I'm doing fine thanks>> Things are great here. <<Excellent>> Here is my awesome update on my saltwater tank you coached me thru in March due to all the algae problems I "HAD". <<Awesome...thank you for the update!>> (100 gal. saltwater tank, with 100+ lbs live rock, 1" sand, 6 fish, zoanthids, toadstool, snails, wet/dry with live rock, protein skimmer, 5 powerheads, PC lights.)  First of all, I decided to invest in my own RO/DI unit, instead of getting my water from the Culligan Machine at Wally World (aka Wal-Mart). <<A wise move>> It has been the most wonderful piece of equipment I believe I've invested in yet because of the sheer convenience of having it at hand whenever I need water. <<Indeed...along with "knowing" the quality/process used to derive the effluent>> I ordered the Typhoon III from airwaterice.com at a very reasonable price. <<Nice piece of equipment>> Bought it with the hose hook up.  Very easy, and run the "bad" water into my in-ground pool.  No waste. <<Ah, very good>> So-o-o, I did not end up using the Poly-Filters but did use the Phosphate remover (ROWAphos) and started changing out 20% of the water every week until last week where I started changing out only 10%, because there wasn't as much algae to vacuum. <<Ok>> YEAH! <<Yes indeedy!>> Gradually, I have seen a huge improvement over the algae I had, which was red hair algae, blue green algae, all over the sand and glass and live rock. <<The "key" word here being gradually.  Fighting the "nuisance algae war" is never a speedy proposition, but it can/will be won with a bit of patience and perseverance.  Obviously you were able to find the root-cause of your problem and took adequate steps to rectify>> Now, there are barely any algae at all, so I must be doing something right. <<Agreed>> The tank looks beautiful.  So, just this weekend I put in some more Aragamax sand (because I had ended up over the past few weeks vacuuming out most of what I had because of all the algae growing all over it.)  Anyway, not sure whether my RO water improved the algae problem or whether my water changing routine did the trick or combination of both <<Likely the combination of the two...with the siphoning/removal of detritus during the water changes being a large factor>> ...but what I've started doing is being diligent on keeping my filter pad rinsed in clean water every other day and the sponge that is in the overflow box rinsed out as well and from now on will keep up with changing out 10% of the water every week. <<Very good...fastidious removal of the accumulated detritus on the filter elements, before it has a chance to break down, will go far in preventing another outbreak of nuisance algae>> Hopefully, the tank has come to a comfortable happy place! <<Sounds as if it is on its way>> I lost my pulsing xenia weeks ago. <<Mmm, these are strong absorption feeders, it is "possible" the dramatic scrubbing of organics from your system as a result of your war on the nuisance algae had something to do with the Xeniids demise>> It just shriveled up and went away, BUT everything else, (which really isn't much) is looking great, especially my Toadstool.  It is SO beautiful and healthy and has grown since all the changes.  You can really tell it is really thriving. <<Excellent to hear>> Now, I may go back and buy another pulsing Xenia.   <<It's just a hunch really, but if you find you still have problems keeping the Xeniids try removing the iron-based Phosphate removal media...replace instead with the Poly-Filter and see how things go>> Thank you for being there for all of us. <<It is a pleasure to share>> Any other problems, I will call on you. Linda in GA           <<I look forward to our continued exchanges.  EricR in SC>>

Algae Growth 4/9/07 Hi Guys, <Hello>    My tank has been running for about 4 months now without any major disasters. <Nice.> Everything seems to be running okay and the wildlife seems to be happy. I have got an RO filter which took care of the diatom problem but I get algae coating the glass about weekly. I leave it on the back and three sides figuring that this should help use up the nutrients and help keep the front clean but it isn't working. <Really, a thin coating of algae on the glass over the course of a week is pretty much normal, unless we are talking about huge clumps of hair algae or something similar.>  I have zero ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Calcium is 400 ppm and the Ph is 8.2. I am thinking high phosphates but I don't have a phosphate test. <Cheap and easy to use, suggest picking one up.> I was thinking of a product called Phos Ban. Just wondering what your thoughts are. Jim <Phos-ban could work, although I'm not sure you are seeing anything out of the norm.  All tanks will get some growth on the glass, best to just use a scraper and remove it this way.> <Chris>

Canister or Power Filter for Nutrient Export? Neither   3/15/07 Hi Crew.., <Hello.> I have a 55 gal reef tank with about 35 lbs of live rock, an A-Miracle HOT wet/dry trickle filter and a remora protein skimmer and two extra pumps just to increase water flow. Inhabitants are 10 Nassarius snails, a serpent star, mushroom, a few button polyps, diamond goby, flame angel , a bicolor pseudo and an algae blenny. Nothing terribly fancy as you can see. Mostly, things run well,  but whenever I seek to add a fish, I start having problems. I think the wet/dry  is too small, and as a result, the system cannot handle even a slightly  increased bio load. I'd like to add supplemental filtration, and I am  considering the Eheim Pro 2224 canister. What do you think? <For nutrient control, no.> Should I use it as both chemical and mechanical filtration, or, given that its just to be a supplemental, am I better off just with chemical filtration to keep nitrates and phosphate <Nice to have on hand in emergencies, use if you are keeping noxious inverts....but necessary to run it all the time? No.> s in check? Any suggestions on using carbon in this scenario? Will adding such supplemental filtration allow for a slightly heavier bio load? <No, use more water changes and/or refugiums for this.> I'm not looking to over do it. I just want to add maybe 2 fish and perhaps some hermits, maybe another mushroom. Thanks!! I love the  site!! <Honestly what you need is better nutrient export. I wouldn't recommend a canister or a power filter for any for any of this. Look up Hang on Refugiums...refugiums in general....on WWM. Adam J.> Underfeeding ok for algae control? YUP 1/10/07 Hi how is everyone doing today. <Doing well, but I'm ready for this Maine winter to end before it really hits! (Graham  T. with you tonight.)> I currently have a yellow tang,   two ocellaris clownfish, Scott's fairy wrasse, royal Gramma, two   yellow tail gobies and three chromis in a 125 full blown reef system    tank. I was wondering if it would hurt my fish if I only feed them   twice a week as opposed to every day. I am having a problem with some   nuisance algae and would like to have it under control. If not twice   a week can you recommend something that would be ok for my fish. And I   am not worried about my fish getting huge, just my coral. Thanks <Don't worry about them going without food for a while health wise as they can stand up to a week (or more) before any real malnutrition sets in. You *might* end up having heightened aggression from elevated "forage" instincts that hunger will undoubtedly trigger, but time will tell. You may also consider feeding just enough every other day for each inhabitant to get a little bit, but not a full meal, then feeding a bit more on the days you were planning to. Cheers, -Graham T.>

Solution to Brown Slime AKA Snot Algae. Rick Gibson's investigation, eradication of BGA   12/27/06 G'day crew! <Richard> Some months back, I wrote in asking advice, with my 75g reef system suffering from a major onslaught of Brown Slime (AKA "Snot") Algae. I had to do a lot of internet searching to even discover what exactly the stuff was, as it is apparently a pretty seldom seen (thankfully!) form of Cyanobacteria. <Yes> I've only seen it once or twice in all of my travels, apart from my own system's demise. Those who have been unlucky enough to encounter it in their own systems seem to have shared in the same lack of success in treating it as I had. I tried virtually everything that I could think of and then some to get rid of it, from frequent vacuums and water changes to tearing the entire system apart and scrubbing everything, to single and double-dose erythromycin treatments, and many other failed remedies. I followed every recommendation from pet shop 'experts', internet reef gurus; and in the end finally followed Bob F's advice, building a small refugium to incorporate into my system. <Ahh!> This last project brought the brown slime more or less under control, yet did not completely eradicate it, and I still had to remain vigilant, having to scrub around powerheads, overflows, on the aquarium glass, etc daily, to make sure that the Cyano was kept in check. Then one day, I stumbled onto a solution to the entire problem, quite by accident. This happy accident completely wiped out the offensive Cyano, and I've never seen so much as a trace of it since that time, several months ago. I thought I'd share it with you and your readers, in case other reefkeepers out there run into similar situations and are in need of a "quick fix". <Please do> Through a series of accidents - the most notable of which was a heater malfunction - I had an ich outbreak in my tank, and had to do FW dips, followed by Cu treatment, quarantine, and a 6-week fallow period on the main tank. All the while, the Cyano in the main tank continued to grow, as I was still feeding the inverts in the tank. I finally returned the fish to the tank, and on a whim I decided to run a canister filter for a week or two with a filter sock containing SeaChem's Cuprisorb in it, just to make sure that no copper or other heavy metals had found their way into the tank via the fish. Within a week, 2 notable things began to happen: The Chaetomorpha macroalgae in my refugium - which had been a bright, beautiful and vivid green - began to turn pale and transparent, with massive amounts of it sloughing off and dying. At the same time, the brown slime Cyanobacteria just up and vanished without a trace! It took a day or two before I connected the dots and realized that it was the Cuprisorb that was responsible. An internet search led me to an FAQ page on SeaChem's website, where someone had asked quite simply, "...in addition to copper and heavy metals, will Cuprisorb also remove Iron and Manganese from the water"? <Yes... and these are essential nutrients...> Seachem's answer was yes. I ran down to the LFS and bought a bottle of Iron additive, and started to put 5 drops per day into the refugium. Within a week, the Chaetomorpha had sprung back to life, and looked as good as ever. It is now overrunning the refugium, and needs to be trimmed back (and sold or traded for goods, I guess). The Snot Algae has not returned. My first thought about this was that the brown slime must actually have been an algae, and not a Cyanobacteria, since it appeared to be dependent on Iron for survival. <Mmm, no> However, I finally located the following excerpt in an article that I read online, entitled: "Treatment Systems for Household Water Supplies" "Some types of bacteria derive their energy by reacting with soluble forms of iron and manganese. These organisms usually are found in waters that have high levels of iron and manganese in solution. The reaction changes the iron and manganese from a soluble form into a less soluble form, thus causing precipitation & accumulation of black or reddish brown gelatinous material (slime)". <Ahh, yes> It would be interesting to see if this same product might also work to eradicate red slime algae/ Cyanobacteria. I hope that you will find this information as interesting as I have. Regards, Rick G. <Thank you much for this reporting... Very valuable indeed. Bob Fenner>

Phosphates and the Algae War  12/8/06 Hello Crew, <Hi> Hope I'm not bothering you, but I've got some questions about my algae struggles. I think, but I'm not sure, I've tracked down my algae problem to phosphates in my source water, so I'm considering buying the Kent Maxxima Hi-S RO/DI unit. <Ok>  Before I spend more money that I don't have, I want to make sure that this is the best course of action and that I'm not missing something.  Hours of reading through posts has left my brain hurting!  <Ouch> Since the very first day I've been battling algae in my 55 gallon tank with no success.  I'll spend 3 hours cleaning the tank and doing a water change, but within a day, the algae is back. After 2 days, everything is completely covered again.  There is brown hair algae as well as sections of green, and sections of brown algae diatoms?) over the glass.  Tank is a FOWLR running for 3 years with 40lbs of LR, a Remora Skimmer, and a hang on refugium full of Caulerpa.   Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates < 10 ppm.   My phosphate test is hard to read, but it looks like phosphate reads around .6 ppm. <That probably a good part of your problem.> Testing the source water reveals the same level of phosphate, so I'm thinking that's the problem.  However, shouldn't the tank read higher levels than the source?  <Not necessarily, the algae takes up the phosphate, making it seem like there is less than there is.> Reading through other posts, it seems that most people having phosphate problems have levels significantly higher than mine. <Sometimes they show 0 too, depends on how quickly the algae is using it.>  I'm guessing/hoping that this is because my test only tests for the one type of phosphate.  <Possibly a factor.> My one doubt is that I also have a 10 gallon tank which has absolutely no algae, but is overrun with Aiptasia as well as what I think are some type calcareous tube worms.  The phosphate level in that tank reads slightly higher maybe .8ppm).  Ammonia, Nitrates, and Nitrites are the same as the main tank.  Does the Aiptasia out compete the algae?  <Possibly> Do you think the RO/DI unit would be the cure?  <Cure, no.  But very very helpful.>  I know I need one, but if it won't solve the problem, I can use the money on something that might have a better chance of working. Maybe I should ask Santa!  <Heehee> Thanks so much for your time. Jeff <Quality source water is one of the most important aspects of a successful tank.  I think a good RO/DI unit will be quite helpful, but it will take a while to see significant result.  Continued good husbandry will go a long way too.> <Chris>  

Algae Problem 10/14/06 Hi Crew <On behalf of WWM…greetings!> I need a little help. <Shoot> I have read just about every question concerning refugiums. I still can't make up my mind, so I'm turning to you folks for some advice. You have always helped me in the past and I figure in the future as well. <Thanks for the kind words> Should I add on a hang on tank refugium or a overflow box and refugium under the tank? I know you prefer above tank, but that is impossible in my situation. I have a 46 gallon bow front, with the following: Remora skimmer, Canister filter for Chemi-pure (want to remove this) 2 power heads Stocked with 50 pounds live rock 1 inch calcite bed 4 small crabs 4 snails 1 small Royal Gramma 1 small Percula Clown. Water parameters are: 0 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 5 Nitrate Temperature 82 PH 8.3 SG. 1.02 I do 5 gallons of RO water changes weekly.  The tank has been up and running for 9 months with out any real problems.  Over the last month I have noticed hair algae popping up and that is why I'm considering a refugium.  So, what do you think? As always, thank you so much for all the help and hard work. Mike.     <Mike - A refugium is definitely a nice thing to help remove excess nutrient, burn excess CO2, keep pH stable...  The problem however is that a hair algae outbreak is usually a sign of rising phosphate levels. I would bring these levels down first before you implement a refugium to keep things stable.  Cheers! - Dr. J>

Algae Control   10/3/06 Hi Crew, <Hi Sam> I have a 10 gallon with fish and mushrooms. It is about 3 years old and I had a hair algae problem which has improved over the past 6 months. Aside from changing a gallon a week I also added a chemical to remove phosphates and it has gone down from being the darkest color on my chart to the second lowest. I also have a fist sized ball of Chaetomorpha to help reduce nutrients. When it doubles in size I remove the new growth which usually is not as compact as the original ball. This past week the new growth started turning grey and when I removed it was very mushy. Is this a sign of problems or is it just lack of nutrients (which in this case is fine with me)? <Probably an excess of nutrients.  I'm thinking you have too many fish in your 10 gallon tank, two would be too many.  I would change 2 gallons weekly and use RO water which can be had at health stores and/or large supermarkets for about 50 cents a gallon.  I'd seriously consider a mini protein skimmer.  Foster & Smith has one that works pretty well for small tanks and will help much with your algae problems.  See here. http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=14676&Ntt=protein%20skimmers&Ntk=All&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Np=1&N=2004&Nty=1 James (Salty Dog)> <<RMF would toss his guess toward the "phosphate removing" material... all life on this planet requires phosphate...>>

Green Water/Nutrient Control   7/25/06 Hi Bob, <James with you today.> I have a 30 gallon with 20# live rock and 10# dead rock.  It has a Bak Pak 2 protein Skimmer.  We have 3 100 gallon per hour powerheads.  The last time we checked (last week), phosphates .05, nitrate 10, nitrites 0, ammonia 0. We have one Bi-Color Blenny, a Diamondback Sand Sifter, <Is this a Diamond Watchman Goby?  If so, tank is/will be too small.  They do attain a length of 6".> a clownfish, Bubble Tip Anemone, <Anemones not recommended in mixed fish tanks, and the tank is much too small for keeping these also.  More than likely to perish soon.  Lighting is also a factor.> about 8 snails of various types and a Yellow Tang. <Tank too new and too small for this fish also.  Read here on this species. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/YellowTang.htm> All fish seem to be doing well.  We do a twice weekly 5% water change.  The tank has been operating for about 3.5 months. In the past 2 weeks we have seen in increase in green algae.   It is so bad right now that the tank is clouded with algae and we looks very bad.  It does not seem to be affecting the fish, but the anemone is starting to turn green!!!  Please advise what we can do to get rid of some of the algae. <Depending on the present size of the tang, you may be over stocked.  Do read here and related links on algae control.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Blake

Re:  Green Water/Nutrient Control - 07/26/06 James, <Blake> Thanks for your information and very quick response!!!   <You're welcome> I read over some of the information you attached links for and one of the algae articles.  It is much more entailed than one is lead to believe from the retailers.  They     make keeping fish sound so simple and try to sell customers lots of fish.   <Retailers my friend, but there are concerned dealers out there.  Find one and keep him.> I guess I forgot to give you some information.  Sand sifter looks like the maiden goby 1.5", Yellow Tang 2", Clown fish 1", and bi-color blenny 1".  I have 144 watt T5s lights and 3" live sand.  Should I try to give back some of the fish or can I keep them until they grow too large and then sell them? <I'd try and sell the tang.  The rest should be fine in the 30 as long as you add no more fish.  Also keep in mind the Maiden Goby will attain a length of 6" fully grown and will appreciate a little more elbow room.> I tried to adjust the protein skimmer a little and I think it helped the bubbles, I will take a look later today.  I am thinking of adding some carbon to the protein skimmer and see if this helps. <Be better to run carbon through a small canister filter.> Any help you can give would be appreciated. Thanks again!! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Blake

Algae/Nutrient Control   7/25/06 First, your site is awesome, and I can't sing the praises of Bob Fenner's CMA enough, especially as a beginning aquarist. I read it every day. <Thank you.> My tank is 4 months old, and largely so far so good. My system: 50 gal salt water 2 Whisper 40 power filters 150W heater SeaClone 100 skimmer Twin bulb 24 inch fluorescent light (one SunGlo 20W and one MarineGlo 20W bulb) on a timer, eight hours on, 16 off. 42 pounds live rock Occupants: one 2 inch Huma-Huma Trigger <Your corals are at risk with the trigger.> Yellow Tang <In time, your tank will be too small for the trigger and tang.> Coral Beauty Angel feather duster worm 5 green mushroom anemones one small pulsing xenia Test results: Temp 78, Ammonia and Nitrites zero, pH 8.2, specific gravity 1.022-1.023. Nitrates hovering at 40ppm. I will increase the water changes to weekly to try to bring this down, and reduce the amount of food to also try to bring this down. I have been doing bi- weekly water changes of 10 percent (5 gallons) religiously. My questions: 1. I have developed a pretty thick mat of hair algae on the live rock closest to the light. It generates lots of pretty large bubbles which seem suspended in the mat. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I have read the FAQ's but I can't figure out if this algal mat help or hurts things. Will it help with denitrification? <The bubbles are gas, quite possibly hydrogen sulphide, which is not good for the tank.  This will do nothing for denitrification.  Doesn't appear you have enough water flow in the system along with excess nutrients.  Shoot for at least 550-600gph of total flow rate.> 2. In the same vein, should I let algae grow on the back wall of the tank?   <Entirely up to you.  May be a supplemental food source for the tang.  Most aquarists despise nuisance algae and control it.  When budget permits, I'd upgrade the protein skimmer to a more efficient one as it will help in controlling nuisance algae growth.  Do read here and related links re nutrient control.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> I have been keeping the glass very clean with a scraper and magnet wipers. <I'd continue doing so if it were me.> Thanks for the help, I love your site. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>    Rob Trepeta

Phytoplankton, reactor   7/4/06 Hi folks. I have been wondering if a AquaMedic Phytoplankton reactor would be useful in my reef tank. I have a 180 gal. reef tank with a DSB ( 275gal. total system water). Two refugiums are also running on this system. <Very nice> The first is a live rock with a DSB with blue light. The second is an upstream fuge with Chaeto and no sand with light running opposite. The tank has been running for seven months and I have gone thru the predictable algae bloom sequences. But the most fascinating event is when the macro algae vanished for no apparent reason. During the fifth and the sixth month I was battling Derbesia turf in numerous location on my live rocks. Early in the set-up I put two Emeral <Bam! Emerald> crabs in hopes to control this Algae. In addition I put a Sailfin Tang and a bunch of Hermits crabs and a variety of Algae eating snails to control it. Since the snails eat only Micro-Algae and the Emeralds might eat the turf Algae I wasn't convinced that they were guilty of eliminating all of turf Algae. My own theory is that I think the loss of algae was from the maturing of the whole system and the uptake of nutrients from the two refugiums. <Very likely the principal factor> All parameters of the tank are in normal range. Phosphate were high in the first three months and then zero. Currently my fish and coral list is Purple tang, Sailfin tang, Lemon Peel Angel, Lawnmower Blenny, Mandarin Goby, Sandsifting Goby. Coral: Ricordea, Euphyllia ancora, Frogspawn, Mushroom, Feather Duster, Crocea Clam, pulsing Xenia. My questions is does the lighted refugiums/scraping of algae off the grass provides enough Phytoplanton to feed the tank on a constant basis? <Mmm, plankton... is floating not attached... but likely the reproductive events of the glass-attached algae are contributing some algal plankton> I like the Idea of the reactor feeding some of my inverts plus provide foods for the zooplankton in my refugiums. <Me too> But Is it already happening anyway? <To some extent, yes> My other question is how do Copepods travel from the refugiums to feed my fish and Corals? <Yes... get "sucked up", pumped, or overflowed (depending on make-up of your systems components...)> Does it take some human intervention like stirring of sand or shaking of the refugiums? <Mmm, nope> Thanks for taking the time to answer every e-mails that come your way including mine. Sincerely Stephan <Thank you for writing, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Algae Control   6/1/06 Thanx for the info. One more question.  Could a phosphate problem be causing the Cyanobacteria outbreak?   <Yes> Does activated carbon work well with a reef tank? <Yes, as long as weekly water changes are carried out.  I'd use Chemi-Pure or a Poly-Filter before carbon, works much better in helping to remove excess nutrients.  James (Salty Dog)>

Nutrient Control...Ozone And Lighting   5/25/06 Dear Bob, <James today>   I have a 180 FOWLR that is really starting to hum!  I have 120 lbs of LR, 2 wet dries, and 2 skimmers ( Euroreef CS 135, Aqua C  EV 180 ).  I did use ozone in the past but it seemed to deplete Iodine levels in the tank and I did have some HLLE...which reversed over months since I stopped the ozone. I have had an incredible growth of pink coralline algae, as well as a some green/brown slimy algae which is incredibly difficult to remove from the inner panes of my acrylic tank.  Also there is a green algae that likes to adhere to the aragonite substrate it seems to cause the substrate to stick together. I really do not know what this is. <Photo would help here.> Lighting is 180 w ice cap VHO actinic white 10 hrs daily icecap 180 watts actinic 8 hrs daily.  I have decreased the photoperiod to less than 2 hrs and the algae growth, of course has slowed down.  Tank chemistry is good ( pH = 8.2, Ca= 375, Nitrates 15, phosphates barely detectable )  Is there a minimum photoperiod I should have ? <The coralline will require at least an 8 hour photoperiod to thrive nicely.> Will ozone help prevent Cyanobacteria growth (assuming that this is what is on my aragonite substrate ).  <Will help some, but you must concentrate on nutrient control to reduce your algae growth.  See here and related links above.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Jimmy

Nutrient Control...Battling with mom for a new skimmer Hi Bob/staff <Hello John> I need your honest professional opinion on my issue. I have been arguing with my mom about buying  me new skimmer for my reef.  She refuses to by me an Aqua C or Berlin or a real serious skimmer along that line because she seems to think I don't need one. This is because the idiot at the LFS said I don't need one and mine is fine. <Sounds like a good dealer to me...not wanting to sell you something you may not need.> I don't think it is fine nor do I think you will either: 29 G glass tank aprox 25 lbs LR 4 medium sized fish (that poop big though) <Part of your algae problem lies here, fish load too high for a 29.> 3 soft & one acropora coral JBJ 150 watt CPs Skilter (shudder) skimmer with modified airstone (venturi crap removed) Pro Clear 50 gal wet dry 300 gph I have been battling algae and nitrates for some time now. Will you please give your opinion about my skimmer and make any suggestions about what would be good for the described tank above. Bottom line, Do I need a better skimmer?  Thank you very much in advance. Any response is appreciated. <The Skilter isn't the best by far but I think your major problem with nitrates lies elsewhere.  Lets start by following the advice in this article. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm You might try bartering with mom for that new skimmer.  A quality model will aid immensely for nutrient control in your system and your first choice of the Aqua C is an excellent one.> Thank  you. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> <<Perhaps a weekend job... earning the money to pay for his own? RMF>>

Algae Control/Marine Smorgasbord  - 4/11/2006 HI,  <Hello Monica> I have a 175 gallon fish tank. I have a puffer fish, a snowflake eel, a  fox faced rabbit fish, a yellow tang, a blenny, 4 crabs, and about 8 assorted damsels. My water is consistent in it's levels and the fish all do fine. Lately though, there has been a lot of algae in my tank. I feed them krill (for the puffer and the eel) and a shrimp cube and a veggie cube for the rest. I also offer green algae sheet <one whole sheet??> every other day, which the fish seem to love. The algae is starting to cover the coral, and sometimes builds up on the glass. Is this normal? <Yes, with the waste producers you have and the amount of food going into the tank.> How much is too much? <In a properly maintained tank you should have little or no nuisance algae.> Should I stop putting in sheets if there is that much? Will the blenny eat that, or does he need the sheets? <The blenny would probably prefer the Real McCoy.  By the sounds of it, you are overfeeding.  Please read here for info to help you in this matter.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm> Thanks  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Monica

Enhancing Nutrient Export Processes  - 03/05/06 Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I currently have a 90 gallon salt water tank. We have live sand and about 70lbs of live rock in our tank. We have an Eel, Trigger Fish, Grouper, Lionfish, and an Angel. <Quite a crowd for a modest sized tank. I hope larger quarters are in the near future for this bunch?> We are having a serious problem of phosphates. <Ahh...that can be solved.> We are getting a reading of 4-6 depending on the week.  We been doing a 20 gallon water change every week, we cut back on food and made sure it was all being eaten.  We feed them flake and frozen silversides. We have a skimmer along with bio balls.  I am trying to find out the cause of my phosphate problem. I been told many different things and I don't know where to start. I was told live rock can cause phosphates then someone told me that since it is cured it can not.  Somebody then told me it was my sand, but I have 4 inches of live sand.  I am getting frustrated because I can not figure out what my cause of phosphates is. Can you please help me? I would appreciate it.  Thanks Karrie <Well, Karrie- you are embracing some aspects of nutrient control/export, which will serve you well in reducing the phosphate, but you need to continue with some other steps. First, in my opinion, your aquarium is quite overcrowded. Even though you are maintaining a commendable water change schedule, the fact is that these fish are producing copious amounts of metabolic wastes that can severely compromise water quality. One of the first things you should do is to substantially reduce the bioload in this tank. Feeding of just about any kind of food will add some phosphates to the water. When you feed foods like Silversides, they are pretty "messy", and can release lots of processing and other "juices" into the water, which are very rich in phosphate. Pre-rinsing frozen foods before feeding, and avoiding simply dumping the foods in the tank can go a long way towards reducing phosphates. Live rock can have materials in it that become (or more correctly, accumulate) phosphate sources over time. However, live rock in and of itself is not your likely source. Do be careful to siphon visible detritus from the rock and other parts of the substrate. Finally, keep at it with the skimming and utilize chemical filtration media (activated carbon/PolyFilter) as a supplement to you other efforts. Reducing the population, continued water changes, aggressive protein skimming, and good feeding habits will all contribute to the defeat of this problem. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Nuisance Algae  10/5/05 Hey Crew, I had a quick question for ya.  I have a 75 gallon FOWLR tank that has a snowflake eel, 2 Picasso triggers and a yellow tang.  About 80lbs of live rock. This past week I have noticed an insane amt. of red bubble algae has broke out.  I plan on doing a major cleaning on my equipment tomorrow.  The owner of my LFS sold me some Chemi clean to help the problem. <John, your tank is overstocked with fish that are big waste producers causing excessive dissolved nutrients.  Chemi-Clean is only a band-aid, not going to cure the problem permanently.  Here is a link for you to read.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm Will this stuff harm my live stock?  <Shouldn't pose any problem.  I suggest using a protein skimmer to help with this problem.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks John Rohrbaugh

Quick Question.... follow up on Nuisance algae 10/6/05 Hmm ok, I do have a 30 gallon sump with an Aqua C Urchin Pro protein skimmer in it. I didn't think I was over stocked, but I will definitely take your word for it. Thanks.  <John, its not the number of fish that causes overstocking, its the mass/body weight.  A rule of thumb I use is one cubic inch (not length) of fish per five gallons of water. James (Salty Dog)>

Kent carbon, Phosphates and algae Dear Sir's, I have had an algae problem since setting up my reef tank 8 months ago, mainly hair algae (the usual I know).  I think they call it hair algae because when you get plagued with it you pull your hair out!<HA!!> The tank is 250uk gallons and has around 120-130kg of live rock 3x 250watt 14k metal halide lamps around 6 months old. I use Rowaphos continually. The phosphate measures 0 with the new high accuracy Deltec test kit. Nitrate also measures 0. I have used Kent reef carbon since setting up my aquarium.  I use instant ocean salt and have an AquaMedic 1000 calcium reactor set to 6.7ph and about 2 drips per second effluent. Lots of water flow with 2 Tunze 6100's, all top off through Kalkwasser stirrer with RO. Water changes, about 7% per week. Now, my question, sorry to rattle on....<No Problem.> Just recently I decided to test the carbon for phosphates against the AquaMedic brand. I put a few pellets of each make, 1 week old carbon into some RO water. The Kent carbon went off the scale on the Deltec test kit to around 0.6ppm while the AquaMedic tested around 0.2. I am concerned that this is fuelling my algae bloom and I am not reading phosphate in the tank as the algae is utilizing it. What do you think?<It absolutely could be the situation.> Does this sound like it could be the problem?<Yep!!! Your testing methods was a good step to take.> Any information will be of a great help....I looked under the different carbon topics but couldn't find anything of this nature. Please let me know if you would like anymore information. Kind regards, Lee <Lee, There are carbons that contain phosphate in their molecular structure.  Is there any reason why you are running carbon in your reef tank.  If you have a sufficient protein skimmer then you won't need to use carbon.  I would also recommend testing for silicates.  They can cause algae blooms also.  Remove the carbon and physically remove the algae and see what happens.  Good Luck MikeB.>

Algae problems, carbon, phosphate and the rest Dear Mike, <<  Blundell taking this one today. >> Many thanks for your quick and useful response. It's possibly a bit of a vicious circle regarding the carbon. I started using the carbon when I set the tank up, soon after I started to see small patches of hair algae....I'm a fairly experienced reef keeper so I wasn't alarmed and thought I would keep up with my water husbandry and wait it out...Oh dear was I wrong! The algae decided to speed it's growth and I have been battling it ever since. Getting back to the vicious circle thing,...the algae are releasing their yellowing compounds into the water so I have been using the carbon to interact, obviously perhaps more than I should have done. My skimmer works well, pulls out about 1/3 - 1/2 a pint of brown liquid a day...even though my tank has little stock. I was thinking of perhaps using a PolyFilter from now on instead of the carbon, would this be a good idea? << I would use it in addition, and not as a replacement. >> second question, if its ok to ask here.....I have an AquaMedic calcium reactor (not the best I know), I am having lots of trouble setting the drip rate to a constant 2 drips per second. << I'd probably stop using it for now.  I think with the algae problems I'd worry about tackling that issue first. >> I have read through the calcium reactor FAQ's and a found a few bit's of info on this but nothing that's gives a remedy...unless I'm not looking hard enough. One day I set it, the next day its stopped again, turn the little in-line valve tap, set again, next day...stopped again....It's driving me crazy. I have a T-piece in line 3 inches from the AquaMedic 3500 lph pump that drives through the chiller about 12 feet away, the airline tubing from the T-piece has a small tap (little plastic one like those used for garden irrigation systems). Is the pressure to high? << Hmmm, sorry I can't be of more help, but I'd recommend checking with the manufacture or with the retailer. >> should I use a small power head instead with the T-piece? << worth a try?  Small powerheads are $5 and it may fix the problem. >> I look forward to reading your response. I wish you and all the Crew at WWM a very happy Christmas! Kind regards Lee Cheesman <<  Blundell  >>

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

Skimmers and algae problems hello I have been reading on your site I have a 110 reef tank with 2 250 metal halite 10.000 bulbs with 2 VHO actinic. << sounds fine. >> My main question is about protein skimmers.  I  use aqua c150 it seam to work pretty well until you are smoking or cooking in the house. I read on your site a skimmer should  produce about a cup of waste a week the problem I have is an algae problem my phosphates are 0 nitrates are 5ppm so I thought my skimmer was not big enough.  I then talked to local fish store he recommends a 250 skimmer and how great it was. Well it doesn't seam to be all that. Do know any thing about these skimmers? << Not much. I simply recommend people look at skimmers in friends tanks or in local aquarium clubs.  They can show you what they have and what they like/dislike about them. >> I have about 6 pieces coral about  8 fish. I use ro water. I am getting some dark green algae looks like hair algae and have outbreak  of turtle grass. << That isn't bad, Algae is WONDERFUL >> this stuff is short and tuff as hell you need pliers to get of the rocks. << Let it grow, or get algae eating inverts like hermit crabs. >> I feed once a day   can you give me any help> << Well I would do a water change, and only feed the tank about once every four days. Hope that helps. >> thanks Paul <<  Blundell  >>

The Brown Algae Blues! (Beating Nuisance Algae) Hello boys & girls, <Scott F. here today!> I have a ongoing problem with a brown algae on the bottom of my 500lt minireef tank. I mix the crushed coral base daily, but one hour later its back. The water is good so I don't know how to over come this problem. Can you give me some hard core fed back to rid this algae. Ta Chris <Well, Chris, I think that you need to start with an accurate appraisal of your water quality: Brown Algae (diatoms, usually) arise from excesses of silicate in your water. If you're talking about more "slimy" brown algae, you're generally dealing with other nutrients, such as phosphate. Detailed water tests can usually tell the story. If you are getting good protein skimming, are conscientious about regular water changes, stocking, etc.-then you may need to also investigate your source water. RO/DI will be your best source of water to start with. If you're using high quality source water, that's half the battle right there! Use of effective chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon and/or Poly Filter, or even some specialized phosphate removing media like Rowaphos or PhosBan, can help. However, you need to find out the root causes (almost always the aforementioned excess nutrients) and eliminate them! Check out our detailed FAQs on Algae Control and Nutrient Export here on the WWM site for way more detail than I can go into here...With continued effort and diligence, you'll lick this problem! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Beating The Algae Blues (Pt. 3) Hello WWM Crew, Thank you MacL & ScottF for your knowledge so far, your info has been nothing but Hard-Core. <We do our best! Scott F. on the follow up tonight!> I have been looking for 3 different types of media to use in my three basket canister filter to help with Nutrient export & Algae control. The first is Activated carbon, second Seachem Hypersorb, both will need to be placed into a bag . What can I use for my third basket, maybe some of that green mesh I use in the wet and dry filter, what do you think of the this. <My thought is that if you intend to use mechanical filtration media, you need to clean it or replace it very often, or it will become a trap for  food and other detritus, which can decompose and lower water quality. Also, if you're going to use the mechanical filtration media in your system, use it in a place that you can access quite frequently without much effort (like a sump chamber), because human nature being what it is- you're more likely to clean something that you can access regularly. I'd just go with more carbon.> Does the crashed coral bed have much to do with this problem if it is not as thick as I would like it to be at this point due to funds, it could do with at $100 more of crushed coral  to make it 2-3 inches thick . <Well the rule of thumb that I've embraced for some time on substrates is 1/2" or less, or 3" or more. I prefer finer substrates for their denitrification benefits and tendency not to trap detritus as readily as coarse substrates> I am doing every thing that has been suggested on your site , weekly 5% water changes with RO water , along with a weekly vacuum, as my banded boxing shrimp is so messy she loves to nip away at the premium live rock which stands out on crushed coral , but she's worth the extra work . <Cool animals> I have just purchased two new residents: 1x female Tomato Clown & 1x male Tomato Clown and a host Anemone that the female was guarding for life and death at the shop. I must say that this purchase has been the most fulfilling I have ever had with marine animals, everyone should have these in there set up if possible , it's like Ying &Yang if you know what I mean. <While I agree that they are fascinating animals, and the symbiotic relationship between the two is awesome, anemones are NOT for everyone. They do require very careful attention to their needs to assure long-term survival. Historically, the survival rate of most anemones in captivity is simply dismal. Not trying to put a damper on your enthusiasm, but I'd be doing other hobbyists a disservice if I didn't get up on the soapbox on this topic for a bit> The female has started to accept the male, so fingers and toes are all crossed that they have babies, this would be the ultimate. <This is a fascinating and rewarding event...I wish you the best of luck!> Sorry- back to the problem at hand- I got a bit carried away. <Not a problem> I use these additives in my tank...SEACHEM-Strontium, Iodide, Vitamin & Amino acid supplement, Calcium- AQUASONIC-Invertebrate food supplement - Carbonate hardness generator & PH BUFFER 8.3 when needed, can any of these be contributing to the brown algae blues. <I'd rethink the Iodide, strontium, Vitamin & Amino Acid supplement, and invertebrate food supplement. The vitamins and minerals can be supplied to your animals through the frequent water changes with a quality salt mix. Unless testing dictates a specific need for supplementation, I simply wouldn't use them. They are definitely a source of potential algae fuel! I would not be at all surprised if your algae problem begins to dissipate upon discontinuing the use of them.> My water parameters are -TEMP 26- SALINITY 34- PH 8:2- ALK 240ppm- AMMO 0- TRIT 0- TRAT 10MG/L- CALCIUM 400- PHOS 0.1PPM....... My tank set up is.... TANK SET-UP a.. 500lt Tank - 4 holes drilled into back at water level line - runs down to W/D shower head   b.. 1x 2 Sponge power head filter in tank for pushing water   c.. 1x Foam fractionation skimmer   d.. 1x Canister filter - Via Aqua 750 Professional - 3 baskets: Running off W/D sump                                                               .. 1x Wet & Dry filter 75cm x 45cm x 45cm Green filter material - white filter material - ? full of Bio-balls 14cm water level in sump <I'd consider yanking the plastic media and letting the rock and sand do the biological filtration work in your tank...That may also reduce your nitrate level>   f.. 1x Jun pump 12,000 L/ph   g.. 2x Heaters   h.. Tank substrate - crushed white coral   i.. 2x 4ft Fluoros - 1x Super Day - 1x Actinic Blue <Do consider upgrading to metal halides for the long-term benefit of your anemone!> LIVE STOCK   a.. 1x Mandarin Dragonet   b.. 2x Tomato Clown Fish (1 male, 1 female)   c.. 1x Banded Boxing Shrimp (female)   d.. 1x Abalone   e.. 1x Host Anemone   f.. 20x Actinodiscus/Discosoma   g.. 3x Ricordea   h.. 5x Warty Corallimorphs   i.. 3x Folded Elephant Ears   j.. 12x Colonial Anemone   k.. 30x Yellow/Green Encrusting Sea Anemones   l.. 1x Violet Sea Urchin   m.. 3x Sea Squirts   n.. 4x Xenia - Encrusting Corals   o.. 1x Goniopora - Lobata   p.. 1x Goniopora - Planulata   q.. 1x Large Plate Coral   r.. 1x Small Plate Coral   s.. 20x Finger - Torch Corals   t.. 3x Star - Pineapple Corals   u.. 5x Common Sponges   v.. 8x Tree Soft Corals   w.. 3x Branching Hydroids   x.. 3x Mushroom corals   y.. 1x Elegance Coral   z.. 1x Free Living Bristleworm   aa.. A meadow of Xenia type blue single flowers   ab.. 10kg Premium Live rock covered in Coralline Algae THANK YOU SO MUCH CHRIS <Well, Chris- you have quite a mix of life in there! I'll bet that the excessive use of supplements is responsible for about 80-90 percent of this algae problem. Take some of the suggestions that Mac and I have made to heart, and I think that your algae problems may be a thing of the past. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Beating Algae Blues, Pt. 4 Hello WWM Crew, <Hey there!> I think that Scott F may have hit the nail on the head this time. <Wow!  I'm right!  This could start a trend.  hah! hah!> In reference to your reply on BEATING THE ALGAE BLUES part 3, I am going to set up my three baskets with activated carbon, how often would I need to service the canister with new activated carbon, or can it be mixed with half new and half old? <I would alternate replacing the carbon baskets. For example, replace one every other week. Heck, if that's too complicated, just replace 'em all at the same time. My thinking with carbon is that you don't want it to linger in the baskets to the point where it becomes a detritus trap or a biological filter.> That $100 will be injected into MH. I do have a 400wtt ballast and reflector from an old hobby, so I will get the 400wtt MH bulb, will this be alright, or will this become a catch twenty-two with fueling the algae. <Remember- light doesn't cause algae blooms- nutrients plus light do!> I do know this needs to be done slowly so I don't freak out and burn the corals. <Exactemundo, my friend!> I am very hesitant with discontinuing the iodide, strontium, vitamin & amino acid supplement, & invert food. To put myself at ease I will get a iodide & strontium test kit as I have been dosing on a weekly bases. <Okay- fair enough...Just follow the adage that if you're going to add something to the tank, you really need to test for it. Demand for the product should dictate its dosage an use. I still think that regular water changes with a quality salt mix will do as good a job as most tanks need!> With the other two can I use say once a month as a treat until they are finished or just give them the old heave ho? <Well, there is nothing wrong with feeding filter feeding animals and corals. The problem comes with indiscriminate dosing of these foods. That's the big concern I have about many bottled invert foods. If used incorrectly, they are simply algae food in a bottle!> Yanking out the plastic media from the trickle chamber, not a problem, what about the bio-balls? I'm starting to freak out a bit now, just joking, can I leave them in for now or what? Or is that what you meant by yanking out the plastic media. I thought you were referring to the green mesh and the white filter wool on top of the bio-balls. <Actually- I was referring to the bioballs, but I also recommend either ditching the mesh unless you are going to change it very often. Unattended filter media are a huge cause of nutrient excesses in aquariums> I will do what you both have suggested as every one that I talk to in Australia has nothing but their cash till in mind, and that is such a shame. This is why I am in the process of researching what it will cost to start up my own shop right smack in the heart of the city of Sydney. <You go for it, mate!> Thank You So Much CHRIS (Oz) <My pleasure, Chris! Hope all works out well. Let us know! Regards, Scott F.>

ALGAE CONTROL Hello Guys & Girls, Thank you for your response to my last e-mail. <Hi Chris, MacL here with you tonight.> I have looked at what you suggested the Algae Control & Nutrient Export, these have given me a greater insight into what may be going on with this brown algae. <Wonderful> I am going to start with setting up a canister filter with different types of media, could you give me some help setting this up. My canister filter is a VIA AQUA 750 PROFESSIONAL it has three baskets so I want to fill each basket with different media. Can I use ACTIVATED CARBON in one of the baskets?,<Yes> if so what else can I place into the other two baskets to make this a successful addition to my well running wet and dry filter. What about some type of poly filters. <I like the idea of adding a poly filter. I find that they are extremely useful in cleaning up the bad stuff in a tank.> I just don't know, my main aim is to start a add on filter that doesn't get all clogged up like that filter wool pad and start to seep into the main tank or suck up the nutrients that I add. <Activated carbon and poly filters will absorb things added to the tank and they will have to be checked and rinsed periodically or you will risk the same thing happening. Perhaps not as quickly though.> Thank You So Much Chris

Pesky Hair Algae 6/14/04 Hi, guys...thanks again for all your help over the past two years; you are truly terrific.  I would like to ask you another question. <Thanks for the kind words, and fire away!> I have a 140-gallon reef tank, including a modest number of fish, including one purple tang, a true percula, three small sapphire Chromises. a Midas goby and two lawnmower blennies, along with an assortment of soft corals.  (The tank was converted from a 75-gallon in January).  I have been dealing with an increasing hair algae problem for the past two months, and have recently been attacking it vigorously.  Taking your advice, the situation has improved substantially, and the corals are looking much better.  But the hair algae is still somewhat of a problem, and I would like your views on whether there is anything else I can/should do. <Looking at your pics, it either isn't all that bad, or you are doing a good job of controlling it.> After reading your article and FAQs on hair algae, I have, during the past two weeks, brought my alk up to 10dKH, cut the lighting (PC compacts) to about 11 hours/day, reduced the amount of daily food, added 20 more snails and hermit crabs, kept the mechanical filter (sponge) clean, basted and brushed religiously and have been filtering out the phosphate weekly with Kent phosphate sponge granules (removing after 48 hours). <Are you also maintaining calcium in the proper range (380-420)?  Also, if the Kent phosphate sponge is a white colored alumina based product, you may wish to seek out one of the safer and more powerful iron oxide hydroxide products (looks like red kitty litter).  Otherwise, it sounds like you are taking the right steps.> I also have been using a Poly-filter and Chemi-Pure (though the latter probably needs replacement -- it's been in the sump for about 4-5 months).  I have always used a Euro-Reef skimmer (which seems to be taking a lot of "gunk" out of the tank), and have had a fair amount of Caulerpa in the tank for a while, though some of that went "vegetative" about a week ago, and so I removed and thinned it where necessary.  I have always used RO water, and have been doing my water changes (about 30 gallons every two weeks). <All sounds good, although I am in favor of using small amounts of carbon and changing it frequently.  Also, I have never really felt that products that supposedly remove all of the "bad stuff" and don't remove any of the "good stuff" can really live up to their claims.  These products are costly and probably of little benefit.> Is there anything else I should be doing?  More frequent and/or larger water changes?  Increasing the use of Chemi-Pure (or another form of activated carbon)?  More frequent changes to the Poly-filter?  Cut the food down even more?  Reduce lighting further?   <It would say just to keep up what you are doing and have patience.  It often takes many months to turn around a serious algae problem.  You can probably save some money on the Chemi-pure and PolyFilters in favor of the iron based phosphate removers (they are a bit more expensive than alumina based).> I don't want to overdo it (the "perfect" is probably the enemy of the "good"), but would sure like to eliminate the hair algae entirely if possible.  Or should I leave "well enough" alone, and just keep doing what I'm doing?  Perhaps just more patience is the right PX.  I am attaching two photos of the tank, in the event that this will help.  Sorry for the length of this letter.  And thanks again for all your splendid assistance! Best, Ralph (Block), Westlake Village, CA   <Wow!  You answered your own question.  Eliminating every trace of algae is probably impossible and may not even be desirable.  It gives your fish something to nibble on and serves as habitat for microcrustaceans.  If you can get close without making yourself insane or going broke on phosphate remover and sea salt, I would take that as a win.  And time does definitely help!  Best Regards.  Adam>

Re: Pesky Hair Algae 6/14/04 Hi, Adam...thanks so much for your very valuable guidance.  I'll look into your suggestions such as iron oxide hydroxide and small, frequent carbon changes, and will just continue to peck away at the problem, being patient. I was hoping that I was pretty much doing the right thing, and you have confirmed this.  Much obliged  Best, Ralph <It is my pleasure!  I probably should have mentioned some brands of Iron oxide hydroxide phosphate removers...  Rowaphos, Salifert and Two little fishes all make versions.  Although you will probably be limited by which one is available to you, I would shop price if you have a choice.  Regards.  Adam>

Nutrient export 4/7/04  thanks for the response...I will take your advice...I think the LFS I bought my last hermit crabs are from the coast? they are not red or blue leg and move much quicker...what is your best advice in place of hermit crabs...my main goal is cleanliness....  <you need to be more specific than "cleanliness" my friend: control of diatoms (golden brown algae), control of hair algae, control of slime algae, green micros, macroalgae, etc? If your intent is overall nutrient control... then your best weapon is aggressive protein skimming, regular (weekly) proper water changes, and careful feeding/stocking>  here is the specifics of my tank: 3 months old  90 gallon  4 inch tropical play sand  120 pounds of live rock  4 power heads (200 gph)  40 gallon sump with 700 gph return pump  8 gallon refugium container in sump with 3 inch of sand and 2 pound piece of live rock and few tiny pieces of Caulerpa and other macro algae with 60 watt light on 24/7 refugium is in a place in the sump where it gets very little water flow..  <this is a common flaw with refugiums... please add better flow (10-20X) and reduce your macroalgae to one species, preferably not the noxious Caulerpas - seek red Gracilaria or green Chaetomorpha instead. Read more about this in the archives at wetwebmedia.com (do keyword searches with the Google search tool on our hoe page>  maybe 10x per hour (eventually it is going to be separate in a 20  gallon tank about the display)  I almost have my canopy built which will be 2x250 10000K MH and 2x Super Actinics VHO's in another month I will have the money to get the lights....  <very good>  hang on the back pump which has carbon  hang on the back SeaClone protein skimmer  <this skimmer has an overwhelmingly poor reputation for performance. Again, do read through our archives for FAQs and customer feedback. Consider adding a second skimmer in support or instead>  small serpent star  small arrow crab  4 inch Foxface rabbit fish  10 Astrea snails  1 red leg hermit crab  1 blue leg hermit crab  1 unknown hermit crab  not sure what corals yet...but there will be quite a few...I should get a lot of frags from people around here thanks to a yahoo group.... but one of my goals is for a spotless tank or as close as I can get...  <'tis unnatural if you care to replicate a healthy reef niche. Do keep some algae>  eventually I am getting rid of the 200 gph pumps and going to do a plumbing return manifold... I do love watching hermit crabs....and was going to have at least 40 or 50 in the tank....  <yikes! that is a staggering amount of crabs. More than you need and clearly a threat to other crabs, corals and snails for starters>  but I have been reading as you stated that some can be harmful when hungry...what kind is the best to have in your opinion?  <no hermits for reef tanks>  what exactly do you recommend besides hermit crabs? and how many is too many of each?  <they will be limited by the amount/type for nuisance growth you are trying to control... be sure your clean up crew has enough of the right kinds of food to eat>  I would think the following:  more Astrea snails (30?)  sea cucumber ?  peppermint shrimp  cleaner shrimp  Thanks for the advice  Keith  <read on my friend... so much to share with you in our archives and books. Best of luck, Anthony>

Lace Rock and Algae Questions (12/26/2003) I was wondering if it is acceptable to mix lace rock with Lalo live rock in a fish only with live rock aquarium. <Lalo is nice live rock. I bought some from http://www. Liveaquaria.com and am very satisfied. Just be sure to cure it properly. As for lace rock, opinion is divided. It may well contain toxic metals. Base rock is better. I suggest you go to http:// www.wetwebfotos.com and start a thread asking about how to economize on rock in the Live Rock/Live Sand forum. You should get some good ideas.> And if it is a fish only aquarium then how does one maintain the live rock so it does not overgrow with "bad" algae. <The way to avoid "bad algae" is to practice proper nutrient control. Nuisance algae are really only a problem for people with overstocked or overfed tanks. Believe me, hair algae grows just as well on glass and substrate as it does on live rock. There are a number of snails and some hermit crabs and some fishes that may help with control. Do read the books I suggested and you will understand.> Thanks for your help. -Bryan <You're welcome. Steve Allen>

Nattling Brown Slime Algae (12/22/2003) Hey Crew! <Greetings, Steve Allen tonight> I know Bob was just at the MARS meeting in Sacramento talking about algae, but I have an algae problem that is beginning to make me a little nervous. I have a brown slim algae that is very aggressive and is taking over! <Yuck> It has nearly killed a very hearty colony of green star polyps and a colony of zoanthids.  It appears to be Gambierdiscus toxicus as described in Julian Sprung's book, Algae.  In the book he states it is toxic to turbo and Astraea snails.  My snails are dying as did my lawnmower blenny.  He also suggested not making any water changes and letting it run its course.  Prior to reading this I did three water changes in two weeks trying to rid this pest, 25 gal each on a 135 gal tank.  Although I tried to siphon out as much as I could, it seemed to come back stronger after each water change.  The advice I received from the LFS was to remove all the live rock, knocking off the algae with a power head, then remove and replace ALL the substrate.  This sounded like a pretty radical approach!  <indeed> The tank has been up for over five years and I have never replaced the rock or even vacuumed the substrate. The LFS suggested this may be "old tank syndrome" and pollutants have built up between the rock and in the substrate.  I know Bob suggest replacing the rock and vacuuming periodically which I can see would avoid this problem if this is in fact the problem.  Up until recently I have never had any real problems.  I have always run a skimmer, calcium reactor, good lighting, 4" sand bed and excellent water quality.  The tank has been the type where I can take sick looking corals from the LFS and make them whole again.  Any suggestions on what this could be and how to get rid of it?  Is replacing the substrate a good approach?  Or is having a beer and letting it run its course a good approach?  The nitrates remain high, around 30ppm even after the water change.  Ammonia is 0, nitrites are 0 and the ph 8.2.  I know a lot of debris builds up between the rock and I don't always take the time to "swish" it out during water changes which admittedly I only do once every five to six weeks.  Any help would be appreciated.  I have pics available if that helps. <can't hurt to look> <Jim, I found Scott's reply to your earlier e-mail about this issues here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algcontfaq5.htm  Did you do the things he suggested. Did you test for phosphate & silicate. Getting the nitrate down a bit will help. Try weekly water changes too and try to suck up some of the gunk while your at it. A patient approach with these techniques should work over time. If not, you may have to go with the more radical approach.> Thanks, Jim <Hope this helps.>

The Kalk Trick Bob, <Rich>   Just wanted to drop a note to say thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit the MARS group in Sacramento.  Your presentations are always animated and informative to all levels of the marine hobby. <Always a pleasure and a privilege. Thank you>   In your algae talk, you mentioned dosing calcium hydroxide to raise the pH, thus causing phosphate to precipitate out of solution rendering it unusable to nuisance algae growth.  I was wondering if you could provide me additional details as to this application (what pH, how long, etc.).  I'm most likely experiencing some amount of undetectable phosphate in my reef, as even with the addition of new rock and substrate, I'm noticing the start of hairy green patches.  If a little neglected maintenance in years past resulted in the binding of phosphate to calcified surfaces, I'm certainly paying for it now. <Sure... involves addition of Kalkwasser solution toward nighttime (lights out) with testing (for pH) to a point of about 8.5... this will drop over night likely... and your "testable" phosphate will also go to zip. Bob Fenner> Thank you again, Rich VanDusen President Marine Aquarist Roundtable of Sacramento

Sunlight on a reef 9/1/03 mornin' Crew: <cheers> I was told that natural sunlight ain't all that great for a reef tank, excessive algae, etc..... But it's the SUN! Good clean and natural? What gives? Stacey; Los Angeles <you are correct... sunlight is ideal/optimal. And it does not cause algae... nutrients in overstocked or poorly maintained (weak skimming, weak water changes, etc) systems is what grows algae regardless of the light source. I wrote a book on the subject in fact ;) "Book of Coral Propagation" based on almost a decade of farming corals under skylight and in a greenhouse. Your local marine aquarium society MASLAC sells my book in fact. Best regards, Anthony>

-Red algae?- I am having a problem with red algae growing in my tank. <Red macro-algae? Slime algae? First you need to determine exactly what kind it is.> I checked the FAQ's and I am still stumped. I checked my phosphates and they are at .5 <Wow, that's a lot of phosphate!> nitrates and nitrates at 0. PH is 8.2. I double checked this taking my water to my LFS. (That Fish Place) They came up with the same readings. According to them they said that I should not have such a big outbreak of it. <If you have that much phosphate you sure will. Any readings on the cheesy hobbyist grade phosphate kits that we all use means that you have a whole bunch> It is even growing on my substrate. I have a 220 gallon tank and the dimensions are 82x24x24. <Gosh, I wish my tank was that long.> They said that I am on the low end of the lighting with my power compacts. I have a total of 576 watts. I have 4 Hagen 802 powerheads, one in each corner. I think I have ample water flow with them and my return pump from the sump. <A high level of phosphate, although a problem in itself, is a good indicator that there's probably a whole pile of other nutrients in your water fueling the algae growth. Make sure that you are using purified water (by reverse osmosis and/or deionization) and drop in some phosphate remover. Check out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm for other tips on how to control this stuff and limit the available nutrients. Good luck! -Kevin>

Algae Control? Anthony <Scott F. pinch-hitting for Anthony today while he's out of town on a presentation> I would like your thoughts on AZ-NO3 for algae control. RGibson <Well, I will throw in my two cents worth, being the nutrient export geek that I am. I believe that Anthony and I are on the same page on this, having shared ideas on the concepts of algae control. I have not personally used this product, but I do know several hobbyists that have, along with similar products. Their results with it were essentially predictable: Some reduction in algae, with continued use. However, my thinking is that you'd be better off utilizing a regular, systematic program of aggressive nutrient export processes. Address the problem, not he symptoms, as they say...These types of products do work for "spot treatment", but it's best to address the root causes of nuisance algae blooms. Usually, these blooms can be traced to source water (that may be high in phosphates, nitrate, and silicates), husbandry lapses (such as a lack of regular, small water changes-try my near-obsessive 5% twice weekly, for example), lack of productive protein skimming (a skimmer not producing 2 cups of dark, yucky stuff twice weekly), insufficient circulation, etc. By addressing these root causes, you'll have no need for such products...You'll find that it's better to spend the money on salt for more frequent water changes...Really!  You should, however, make regular use of less "specialized" chemical filtration media, such as a good grade of activated carbon and Poly Filter pads. Hope this is some "food for thought"! Regards, Scott F>

AZ-NO3 Bob-can you tell me your thoughts on AZ-NO3 for algae control.                  RGibson <This is a very fine product in my estimation, and from many comments I have experienced from others. Does consistently aid in reduction of nitrate. Bob Fenner>

Algae problem, which water treatment to use Hi guys, I have a brand new 55 gallon tank. It is now 3 months old and fully cycled long ago. I only have 36 lbs of live rock in it and no fish yet.  I am holding off on getting fish because I cannot solve my bad green hair algae problem which has taken over my live rock. My protein skimmer is a Bak Pak 2 and I am looking to upgrade that but I've concluded that my real problem is my poor quality tap water.  Currently I only use TWP to filter my tap water. I had my aquarium water professionally tested at a laboratory and the readings are as follows: Total phosphates - .22 ppm Silicates - .80 ppm Nitrates - 1.90 ppm I then started to research using RO or DI units etc. but decided that I really did not want to waste water with the RO units nor did I want to deal with dangerous chemicals with the KATI/ANI DI units you recommend. I then called the technical support folks at Kold Steril as their units do not waste water. I told him my above readings and he said his units even with all their bells and whistles could not do any better than my .22 ppm phosphate reading.  He recommended using distilled water from the store as did the water testing lab. I then called my local spring water company and am trying to see what they can do for me. I am confused because the Kold Steril people recommend distilled water but your website says it could be contaminated by metals? My question is what do I buy from the water company? Distilled water, RO only water or something else? All I want is a FOWLR tank free of all of my nuisance algae but I cannot decide on what type of purified water is best? <The best method is to use an RO/DI unit with the booster pump to increase efficiency and reduce water waste. Perhaps run the effluent into a "rain barrel" for garden/plant use.  The water from water co's is for human use, and thus may contain copper from their equipment or holding tanks. Look into the Hi-S type silicate membranes. This avoids recharging resins with chemicals you might be uncomfortable with and also copper or other metal contamination.  Sorry there is no perfect answer for you!  Craig>   

Will RO work?  Is it worth it? Hi guys, After two and a half months with my new 55 gallon tank I have still not purchased fish yet due to a nuisance algae, (mostly brown slime string algae on substrate and live rock ) problem I am dealing with. To trace the source of the problem I started with the source water as that is the only thing in my tank plus the live rock. I took my aquarium water sample (used TWP deionizer cartridge filtered) to a local water testing consultant (who really knows his water !!) who used sophisticated accurate testing and this is the results:     Phosphates (tested for total phosphate) .22 ppm     Silica              .80 ppm     Nitrate     1.90 ppm I am working towards upgrading my protein skimmer as my Bak Pak 2 that hangs off the side of my sump isn't really efficient. <About the limit of this skimmer unless adjusted optimally, w/sump more volume than 55 gal. Look into Aqua-C Urchin Pro or Remora Pro. Add to Bak Pak.> I am extremely nervous about going the RO route, not because of the waste, as I am leaning towards the quality Kold Steril unit but of the big expense ( approx $300 for the system and then needing a plumber to install unit under my sink). <Once you provide for the type of unit needed to remove silicates (phosphate and nitrate is a bit easier) there is very little substantive difference between RO/DI units (I suggest the DI unit downstream of the RO) besides price and service should you need it which is unlikely. Most of the component parts (filter and membrane housings, etc.) are interchangeable as are many of the after market/replacement micron and carbon block filters. RO's  don't produce as much water below 70-75 F water and <80psi (or manufacturer stated pressure) but this is simply factored into sizing the unit larger to accommodate your water needs or investing in a booster pump. You might start in the laundry room (stay away from bleach, soaps, etc) and push the drain line into the washing machine drain, hook the inlet up with a "Y" on the washer cold water valve, and route the product water into a Rubbermaid can on wheels with a shut-off valve so you don't flood the wife's laundry room. That last part is the most important. Make it easy to get to.> Are these systems worth the cost and hassle ???  I absolutely do not mind spending the money if it will really work to rid me of this nuisance algae. I know I cannot be 100 % free of it but my tank now is really unattractive. <Yes, they remove the source of these problems. (and tasty, ultra-pure water.> I am also worried about the ease of operation of these units (water temp needing to be just right and flow rate just right or it won't work etc). <See above, it will work, just not produce as much as the rated amount. You need to factor this into sizing the unit. If you need 30 gallons per day, best to get a 60gpd unit to factor in temp and pressure being less than optimal.>     How is your experience been with these RO units and their ability to solve nuisance algae problems ???? <These are a good investment. Shop around at our sponsors!  Craig>

Fish only algae control what is the fastest, safest way to kill of algae in a fish only tank? thanks bob <Stop feeding it. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm, Don.>

Adding refugium to control hair algae I have a 150 gallon glass tank - bought everything from financial advisor (used). Two external pumps - Little Giant's  2MDQ-SC and 4MDQ-SC. One on each side of sump. Left side has 4MDQ running Berlin skimmer and going back to tank, right side just return to pump.  Lights are 3 250 watt 12000K MH and 2 VHO Actinic (Blue).  Being color blind doesn't help.  Anyway I like the effects.  I believe the water temp is too high - gets up to 84 sometimes.  Large amounts of hair algae all over.  Have bought various amounts of turbo snails and blue-legged crabs.  Turbo snails are doing fine, cannot find crabs at all, usually gone after 2-3 days.  Have cinnamon clown, yellow tang, and dragonet.  3-5 inches of aragonite with 20-30 pounds LS, 40 pounds of LR.  I know I need more LS/LR.  The other problem, I work 250 miles away from aquarium, only come home on weekends, wife adds fresh water daily, about 2-4 gallons per day.  LFS tests water on weekly basis, say everything ok.  I can't believe this because of the hair algae.  What do you think about putting a mangrove refugium (or whatever you call it) in addition?  I have a 10 gal tank sitting around, would this be big enough or should I go bigger.  How would I plumb this to work properly?  I'm getting confused with all information available. <OK, Sit back, take a breath...now let's continue. <G> The algae is a problem of nutrients. If you remove (or don't introduce) nutrients you can control the algae. The LFS says the water is 'OK', we need numbers on the source water. Specifically phosphate and nitrate. Phosphate should be 0 and nitrate should be very low if not 0. If not, you might consider RO/DI water. The refugium is a good idea for nutrient export. You need a tank at 15-20% (bigger the better here) that of the main system volume. Chaetomorpha (Spaghetti algae) is all the buzz right now for nutrient export. Mangroves actually grow too slowly to be of much benefit, but are a nice visual addition. You don't mention other livestock? Overfeeding will introduce nutrients as well. See here and the links at the top of the page for more about algae control: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm. See here any beyond for refugiums: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm. As far as plumbing the refuge, set the refuge tank a little higher than the display. Have the tank drilled for an overflow return and use a small pump to deliver water to the refuge. Put a light on it, 4-6" of fine aragonite sand for substrate and off you go. Water changes will help as well, 5% a couple times a week would be good. For the heat problem, try a small desk fan directed over the top of the sump to provide evaporative cooling. Take care, Don>

Simple algae solution.. skim till you can't skim no more! I'm having a problem in my beautiful 75g FOWLR tank. I have installed 4 110 VHO's just in case, and I leave light on for 13 hours. I only have three very small fish, 6" total. My levels are all zero. I am getting a turf matt on the top of my sand. It drives me nuts because I can't cover it up. I feed 3 times a day per directions on individual fish. I add a teaspoon of essential vitamins and minerals weekly. I do 5% water changes every week. What can I do to get this algae on my sand under control? <algae control is mostly about nutrient control. Please take some time to read through our archives on wetwebmedia.com regarding FAQs and articles about algae problems and about skimmers. In your case, I am almost certain (as we get this question almost daily) that your skimmer does not produce a full cup of skimmate daily like you should easily be able to do with thrice daily feedings. You may simply need to tune your skimmer (cleaning neck several times weekly? Air features monthly, etc?). Or you may just have a poorly designed commercial model. If the latter, do consider a better DIY style or one of the many tried and true models recommended by aquarists that write in and by our own crew. In a nutshell... if you get a full cup of dark skimmate even 3-5 times weekly... your algae problem will be cured within 3 weeks without you otherwise lifting a finger. Best regards, Anthony>

Mat formed algae growth Thanks! I have an AquaC EV-180 model that I probably don't have tuned correctly. I would guess I have the Iwaki 30RLT pumped throttled back too much. Thanks again! <that is an outstanding skimmer, my friend. It is a top choice. I am confident that you need only tweak that unit to watch your algae problems promptly wane! Best regards, Anthony>

Kalkwasser question Hey Craig, How's it going? <Pretty good Jun, Happy New Year!> I got a quick question regarding Kalkwasser. I don't use any supplement in my reef tank except iodine. I still have Cyano problem (maybe cause by phosphates in my tap water source). pH is 8.4 all the time. If I use Kalkwasser (I read that Kalkwasser helps precipitate phosphates) would this increase my ph higher than 8.4 (is that ok?). What's your opinion on using ocean water (marketed) for my water changes? Thanks again. Jun <Are you testing pH in the AM? I'll bet it's a bit depressed then. Dripping Kalk slowly at night shouldn't affect your pH too much (ideally less than .02 variation). If it's a hair low in the AM it will stabilize it. If it's dripped slowly it shouldn't be a problem. I know maintenance pros that use seawater exclusively and their tanks look great. They purchase from the Seattle Aquarium for $.05 per gallon. It's micro-filtered and UV sterilized.  As long as the source is good....the further out in open ocean the better.  Craig>

Skimmer recommendation Hi guys, I have been reading the FAQs on Skimmers, but I am still at a cross roads as to what I should get to replace my crappy SeaClone (Got conned into this from a LFS a couple years ago) <alas... they have thrown a lot of money at marketing and have a high profile among merchants that don't know any better> I have a 77g Hagen tank (no sump and doing a sump at this time is difficult for me) I also want to eventually put in a bigger tank, sump etc) but in the mean time I want to replace the skimmer so it skims properly. I have a FOWLR, and Anemones. I am having a terrible time with Algae (crabs and snails can not keep up) I tested water, and a SW Fish store tested the water )I used Hagen test kits they used Salifert, and both showed same results) He asked the type pf skimmer I had and I told him a SeaClone and he said that could be part of the problem, not skimming enough crap out and I probably have a HIGH nutrient count because of it.. <I would agree and vote that statement as "understatement of the year" perhaps. Nuisance algae is all about nutrient control, and a skimmer should be able draw a full cup of dark skimmate daily or almost nearly so once you find the sweet spot on tuning> What would be the recommendation? Remora Pro? PM Hot-1? Kent Nautilus TE? Others? <No worries here... this is an easy one: Aqua C Remora among these choices. I believe of the listed models it is the most reliable, consistent and easy top use. I favor the Remora over all hang on skimmers> I obviously need a hang-on model or if something that can be mounted above/below the tank? <understood... I would not favor any other hang on and next recommendations would be for a top/rail mount Tunze or a sump model Euroreef> Thanks guys...Awesome Site.. very informative.. too bad I did know about this site when I started Reefing'!!! Thanks <we're very glad to have you along! Best regards, Anthony>

Putting Nuisance Algae On A Diet! Thanks for the reply :) By eliminating all of the extra additives, what do you mean? <For example, "trace elements", iodine, "vital" stuff, etc.> I only add phytoplankton (It's the real deal. I culture it myself), B-Ionic, Iodide, and Buffer. Could these be fueling the Cyano? <Well- the iodine could be a factor. The phyto is not a problem unless it dies in massive quantities before being utilized by the animals. You could perhaps experiment with cutting back on the phyto dosing and seeing if there is any effect on both the corals and the Cyanobacteria> I feel like they're the stark basics, so I don't really feel too comfortable just cutting them off, but should I? <Again- maybe just cut back a bit. But do monitor the iodine. The old adage of "If you're going to add something to the tank, you'd better test for it" makes sense here> Also, does manually removing it really do a lot? That's one thing I haven't been doing, but I'll definitely start. <Well- it can help eliminate some of the algae already in the tank-but it doesn't stop the cause. (i.e.; "treats the symptoms, but not the disease") That's why we have to examine nutrient accumulations and their removal via efficient skimming, water changes, etc.> One more thing- Bob mentioned a group of algae called Euglenoids. What do they look like, and is it something that I could possibly have? <Well- these are motile algae that have several different morphologies. Often are found in the water column itself, rather than on rocks and substrate (they can be found there, however). I'd bet that they are not what you're experiencing, though. Just keep looking into reducing nutrients through every means possible, and I think that you'll see a definite improvement in the situation soon. Just hang in there, be patient-be relentless- you'll be fine!> Thanks again Scott! <And thank you for stopping by once again! Take care. Scott F>

Red Mangrove Plants for nutrient reduction Steven, <actually, Anthony Calfo in your service> I just purchased 1 dozen two feet long Florida Red Mangrove plants from a dealer in South Florida. I placed the mangroves in my 180 gallon FOWLR 20 gallon sump to work as part of the filtration aiding in removing excess nutrients. These plants are thick, deep rooted and very healthy plants. <I have much experience here not only with growing Red Mangroves in my greenhouse, but also early attempts and establishing such plants bought as sprouted adults...challenging. One of the most critical things to address first is matching the salinity of water they were grown in. If these plants were bought from a full strength seawater system... great. No worries at all. However, many FL dealers that sell R. mangle for wetlands restoration grow out propagules in brackish or fresh water. If that was the case here... you will not be able to easily acclimate them to saltwater. You will notice frequent yellowing leaves and leaf drop in shock> What advise do you have for keeping these plants healthy?  <once established... one of the most important things to do is mist the leaves daily... or at least several times weekly to help them sprout new leaves and to export salt crystals. They will grown painfully slow if you do not> I placed all 12 Mangrove plants in my sump yesterday. Today everything looks fine so far, water tests out fine. I currently have a 75watt 'pure light' florescent bulb for lighting over the sump. Is this cheap bulb the proper lighting for the mangroves?  <plant type spotlights from the DIY store are fine> Do I need to get better lighting?  <definitely brighter is better here... 2 100 watt spots might be nice> How long do I keep the light on for?  <normal photoperiod of around 12 hours daily> Should I run the light at night opposite of tank light or in the day when the main tank lights are on?  <Reverse Daylight Photosynthesis (RDP) is for submerged algae/"plants" that respire... will not help much here> I read somewhere that there could be pH fluctuations if the lighting is not timed properly? <there are always natural fluctuations between day and night. An RDP system will stabilize that swing somewhat. Do consider browsing my Book of Coral Propagation V. 1 on this subject... I love this plant and included two sections on culturing them (one was for training them to grow these amazing aerial prop roots!) Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Green water Thank you Steven for the fast reply. I'd have gotten back to you sooner but my children got sick and I had to care for them. <I understand. We just had our first little one about 5 1/2 months ago.> I did my bi weekly testing and still have the same problem that I had when this all started, high nitrates. I've never had a problem with this in the past, just phosphate, which I removed with a Polyfilter before I would do my water changes. I tested my tap water, which is what I would use to make my water change and top off water with and it is reading the same nitrate level. <Unfortunate> An RO/DI unit is in the budget for the future, but I can not do it right now. I believe that the nitrates are the problem and know that getting an RO unit will most likely solve my problem. <Agreed> I've been trying to maybe investigate the filters that you can attach to the faucet, but none so far have specifically listed being able to remove nitrates or phosphates. <Most are designed with taste in mind and are not a good option for aquariums.> If you can recommend a temporary solution until I can get an RO unit in about a month I would appreciate it. <I would look at prices for Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Tapwater Purifier. One should not cost that much, but will only be good for processing about 50 gallons of water, IME.> Thank you for all you help, Dela <You are welcome. Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Algae bloom I emailed you last week about my aquarium. My mother came to my house to care for my fish and overfed them while I was on vacation which turned the water green. When I got back I did a water change to correct the high phosphates and put in phosphate sponge. Although I have kept the lights off, lowered the amount of food and skipped every other feeding, and cleaned the filters the water is still just as green not even lightening a little. I brought a water sample to the LFS and it all tested fine after the water change. It has now been two and a half weeks now since we returned. How can I get the green out? <These pest algae problems do linger... the algae it/themselves have mechanisms for making the system more for their purposes... Please read through the file, links here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and develop and implement a long term plan to avoid such difficulties. Bob Fenner>

Re: non-sand bed thickness ?? Anthony, Thanks for the info.  <always welcome my friend> My algae problem is not too bad. There is a noticeable growth on the glass after every 3-4 days and there is a brown/green film on a lot of the rocks/CC, but it has no real thickness to it.  <hmmm... aggressive protein skimming can easily temper this algae down to 7-14 day servicing> I guess what helps is that I currently have only 4 small fish and 4 busy hermit crabs (red-line / red-stripped ?) and about 350 gph of filtering. The hermit crabs eat a lot of the algae and I guess they stir the CC quite a bit too. I'll take your advice on replacing the CC with 5" of sugar-size aragonite one day soon I hope.  <very good> For now, WAF prevents me from doing something sooner since I just spent quite a bit of time and money setting of the refugium. :(  In the meantime I'll be sure to vacuum the CC often. <yes... very wise> Thanks again, Darrell <best regards, Anthony>

Light/Algae Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> question about my main display aquarium... I've got what you'd call a little bit of a macro-algae problem. large long strands. sometimes it comes off in chunks and I scoop it out hehe... when my skimmer was in operation it took pretty good care of the micro algae.  <agreed...the best way to control algae... a good skimmer> I have a cheapo sea-clone skimmer that the pump won't stay attached to the hose. I need to silicone it and make it permanent so I can get this turned back on. the pump seems to wear out over time too and not be as effective. even after cleaning. anyway I've been reducing my display and full spectrum light down to about 10 hours on a timer. I don't have corals or other invertebrates. would there be an adverse effect if I totally shut off my full spectrum bulb and kept my display florescent bulb on for this period or even longer period. I'd like to have the display bulb on much longer than 10 hours but a bit concerned about algae growth. I've been really reducing my feeding. I do religious weekly water changes <messing with the photoperiod wreaks havoc on some fishes and is quite unnatural. The problem isn't the light causing the algae, as you know... it is the accumulated nutrients. You need a skimmer that works, my friend... not less light>  tank contains: snowflake eel --- usually eats 3-4 times a week porcupine puffer (sloppy eater adding nutrients to water) -- eats one to two fish daily size of tank in gal. = pounds of live rock 5-6" wrasse. clown wrasse maybe not sure -- eats 1-2 ghost shrimp/day trying to get him on frozen shrimp also. he also nibbles on porcupines left overs. I've also been told to check my alkalinity as this may be causing some of the algae growth. any truth to this? <yes... higher alkalinity and pH (12+dKH and 8.6) are quite good for the tank and inhibiting algae> another quick couple of questions. a lot of these fish that eat crustaceans and frozen preps according to books need 2-3 feedings spread out during the day. my life is so that I really only get one chance per day to feed. is this going to shorten the life or seriously adverse effect there diet? <perhaps minor, but I believe yes it will> the only other question is out of curiosity. I've got a dragon wrasse in another aquarium. quite a clown I must say. very cool to watch them pick up rocks and dig in the sand.  <awesome fish indeed... I saw one 12" long one time: magnificent!> nightly however he TOTALLY disappears. I've literally looked for him with a flashlight for about 20 min.s and can't find a trace of him. I've read they can bury themselves some 10cm into the sand... so is my fish sleeping under all this sand?  <almost certainly... you can often set your watch to it (7PM for example)> if so how does he breathe very long? or is he buried deep under some rock with a TINY hole to get water through his mouth and gills. <many fish have adapted to sleep/live in the sand. They draw necessary water through gills during periods of reduced activity> THANKS! <kindly, Anthony>

Algae and skimmer Good evening to the team. <Cheers, Anthony Calfo in your service> I've had a problem with nitrates and recently purchased a R/O system to make my own water for my 100G FOWLR system's water changes. I've since successfully lowered my nitrates from 100+ to around 30 and dropping. <excellent!> What's weird is that I'm just now getting some nuisance algae (Cyano and brown diatom). Since the water quality (from a nitrate problem is "better"), I'm thinking it could be my "water change" water and it's pH or salinity or something.  <you are correct... although the quality of water that you are using is much better/consistent now, the fresh minerals in the new seawater are feeding the growth a little bit. Skim aggressively at the same time and it will wane within weeks> Would a sudden shift in either pH or salinity account for nuisance algae even though my nitrates are considerably lower? <if you are not aerating and buffering the RO water before use, you may have dropped your Alk, Ca and pH a bit which favors nuisance algae. Check your readings and target 12 dKH, ~400 ppm and 8.3-8.6 respectively> I also recently had a power outage (a couple hours) that killed my RIO pump on my TF1000 skimmer. I wasn't getting a lot of skimmate from my TF1000, and may use this as an excuse to try out a new skimmer like the Aqua C EV120.  <wow... there's your algae problem. No skimmer now and not tweaked before translates to daily accumulation of dissolved organics (algae food). All skimmers need tweaked adjusted at first to work well.. no such thing as plug and play.. hehe> Considering my tank is occupied by "messy" triggers and puffers, there should be plenty of skimmate on a daily basis.  <understatement of the year <wink>. 6-8 oz on a 75-100 gallon tank daily in skimmate would not surprise me> My TF1000 would give me about 3/4 of an inch over the first couple days, then stop producing skimmate. I clean the cup, then it produces about 3/4" again, but if I leave it for a week or two, it rarely gets over 1" of skimmate. It's just a chore to tweak, and I may try out the AquaC and maybe use the TF1000 again later as a secondary skimmer. <a good skimmer but many report that the Euroreef is even easier to adjust and more consistent> Do you think it's worth the $300+ dollars for the AquaC or should I just get a new pump for the TF1000 and keep on tweaking? <the TF does have a good reputation... give it a try with adjustment first. If it is in a sump with a fluctuating water level...there's your first problem. Feed raw water directly, or overflow it into a skimmer box in the sump that serves as a standing overflow from which the skimmer pump feeds. There a simple diagram illustrating this from my book on WWM at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm. Best regards, Anthony>

Carbon and Nitrates Hello Bob, Question for you if you don't mind... I just did a 15 gallon water change in my 100G tank with 20G sump. I didn't really need a water change, as my nitrates were at about 5, but wanted to clean up some Cyanobacteria that had accumulated over time in my sump, so I stopped the overflow from the main into the sump, scraped down the sump walls, and sucked out all the murky/cloudy water resulting, then added in the replacement water. I added activated carbon for the first time, curious to know what results if any it would have on my system. Anyhow, after adding in the AC, I did a nitrate test to see how much LOWER my nitrates were, and they were actually higher (somewhere between 5 and 10)... after the water change using zero nitrate store mixed salt water. I did add in top off water, but that is R/O water, that I've tested for zero nitrate. Does carbon somehow screw up the nitrate test for a false reading? Seems strange to me. <Some types add nitrate to water... not an artifact of testing... though the Cyanobacteria, maintenance work might have generated the same reading effect> Also, I have around three big handfuls of macro-algae/Caulerpa in my sump. Why did the Cyanobacteria grow in there in the first place?  <Hmm, because it can/could...> Shouldn't it be eventually out competed?  <Not necessarily, as you observed... "something/s" in your environment are not totally favoring the true algae over BGA...> The Caulerpa is definitely growing and thriving. I'm using the Leng Sy logic of leaving the lights on 24 hours a day to prevent my Caulerpa from going into a reproductive/asexual state. <In your sump only I trust.> Thanks for your reply in advance. Not a big deal, as nitrates are still low for my FOWLR tank, but just curiosity more than anything about the effects of copper <carbon likely> on testing equipment. <Good to be curious. Bob Fenner> -Eugene

Re: Carbon and Nitrates (Cyano) Robert, I emailed you regarding Cyanobacteria in my sump that isn't getting out competed by the growing Caulerpa... you answered: Why did the Cyanobacteria grow in there in the first place? <Hmm, because it can/could...> Shouldn't it be eventually out competed? <Not necessarily, as you observed... "something/s" in your environment are not totally favoring the true algae over BGA...> If so, what should I test for? I only currently test for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, which are all fine. Would testing for phosphate help? <Yes, this is the "next" real possibility... but I want to emphasize that there could be "little wrong" with soluble phosphate or much else and you might still have "some" BGA...> I have a fish only 100G tank with 20G sump and 100lbs of live rock. What other tests should I purchase? <Perhaps alkalinity... this also could be a principle cause of trouble here> Thanks! And welcome back... I was surprised to see a response so quickly after your return... I expected to be placed in a queue of about 2000 questions. :-) <Only about an order of magnitude less, thank goodness, and Lorenzo. Bob Fenner>

Question: I've had a 55-gallon reef tank now for 4 months. At first I used tap water and added Novaqua to remove the chlorine and stuff. Brown junk started growing everywhere after about a month and I was told it was because of phosphates in the water and to start using RO or distilled water. I got the phosphate pads to clean out the tank water and since I don't have easy access to RO water I started using distilled water. Now someone else has told me distilled water is "dead" and NEVER to use that and to either drive some distance to get the RO water or buy my own machine. What is a good machine to get...is it RO or RO/DI (or are those the same thing?) or 2-stage, 4-stage, automatic cut-off...HELP!...too many options considering I'm not even sure what it does and how to use it. I do eventually want to upgrade to a much larger tank so I don't want to get something that is too small for my needs later on. Just tell me the best kind to get for the money...I also am having an outbreak of hair algae...I have a CPR Bak-Pak protein skimmer along with the hang on the back of the tank "Emperor system", 2 stationary power heads and one rotating power head, and VHO compact bulbs (one blue, one white...about 200 watts total, which stay on for 7-8 hours a day) and only feed the fish once a day...I have about 12 blue-legged hermits, 6 red-hermits and 12 snails (Astreas and Turbos)...why the algae...it seems to be getting worse...is it because of the distilled water...I've checked for phosphates and there are none...how to I get rid of it?

Bob's Answer: Hey Darsey! Good to meet you and don't panic! Help, and just time going by is on its way. Re: the water Reverse Osmosis (RO) is not the same as Deionized (DI), but a very good "discussion" can be had by using your computers search engine(s) and reading what you find on those terms and even just "water filtration" period. Do this and do look into a simple "home" version of RO for yourself and your system. Honestly, I would just go to the Home Depot or such and get a household unit. So simple to install I have even done it! And don't worry too much about tap sources of nutrient either... much more comes in via food and decor....... And for control of undesirable filamentous/macroscopically appreciable algae? Try a Zebrasoma and/or Ctenochaetus species tang....

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: