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FAQs on Controlling Green/Chlorophyte Algae 1

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

Related Articles: Embracing Biodiversity, Green Algae By Mark E. Evans, Algae Control, Caulerpa Algae, Marine Maintenance, Nutrient Control and Export, Marine Scavengers, Snails, Hermit Crabs, Mithrax/Emerald Green Crabs, Sea Urchins, Blennies, Algae Filters, Ctenochaetus/Bristle Mouth Tangs, Zebrasoma/Sailfin Tangs, Skimmers, Skimmer Selection, Marine Algae, Coralline Algae, Green Algae, Brown Algae, Blue-Green "Algae"/(Cyanobacteria)Diatoms, Brown Algae

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Hi Bob I'm having problems with persistent hair algae. My tank is a Rio 300 with a 125 litre sump which is used as a refugium. The refugium has a three inch sand bed, lit 24/7 and has Chaeto growing in it. I'm running RowaPhos and carbon through the return. I feed my fish relatively sparingly on strained fresh Brine shrimp and frozen Mysis again strained. The tank contains approx 40kg of Live rock in two bommies with plenty of flow from two Tunze 6035s aimed at each other to create dynamic flow. My pH is sitting at 7.9, my phosphates are literally nil and my phosphates are at 0.1. I've got a Malu that's doing really well as is my Maxima Clam, I've got a Goniopora that's doing well, the rest are LPS and softies like Euphyllia, Zoas, leather coral, mushrooms and I have a Hydnophora in direct flow. My fish stock is a Scooter blenny, Bicolour blenny, two Common clowns that are laying every 3-4 weeks, a Chevron tang, a yellow wrasse and a Court Jester. I've got the typical clean up crew of Cleaner shrimps, hermits and the rest. The tank has been running for nearly two years but l lost everything in December due to a power cut and boiler failure at the same time. This is the second stint and the hair algae is still hanging in by the skin of its teeth. I feed my corals with Julian Sprung's Coral snow once a week, is this causing the problems? Help before I lose the plot. Neil from Preston

Gosh Neil, we have quite a lot to discuss. First and foremost, judging from your attached photos and description, I don't consider that you really have much of a 'hair algae problem''¦ Some algae is of use functionally and aesthetically, and the types that make up the sort shown here are not really that deleterious.

So, let's cover some of your statements w/ suggested changes that might make you a bit less fretful re the green filamentous algae in your system. In order, the good-sized sump used as a refugium. I would increase the sand bed (hopefully a fine aragonite) to four or more inches in depth. This will greatly improve its functionality, removing most likely all nitrate (which you don't list as measured) and hopefully a good deal of the 0.1 ppm of HPO4 (which is high, particularly considering your use of chemical filtrant). I do think highly of Chaetomorpha used in these applications but leaving it illuminated continuously won't do; this and most algae and plants require a 'dark period' to do well. I would arrange/use a reverse-daylight-photoperiod (RDP) here, overlapping your tank's light regime an hour or so, but turning the refugium lighting off during the regular 'tanks on' photoperiod.

            Mmm, let's see, I would go away with feeding Brine Shrimp period, strained/rinsed or no. Artemia actually have little nutritive value. Depending on the age and density of your live rock, I might add a few more kilograms here, principally to bolster your waning biodiversity.  I favour the Tunze line all the way around, but would definitely do a bit of reading and rearrangement re their placement. A to one-end and down and back or circular gyre design is far better than what you describe. Your stated pH is a bit low, particularly if this is a measure during the later morning or afternoon. I'd be looking into using a Kalk or Kalk-like supplement to bolster the pH a bit, as well as give you a boost in insolubilizing those phosphates. I wouldn't use the 'Snow' product as it has dubious value period. 

            The fact that your invertebrates and fishes are doing well is the best proof that you really don't need to do anything drastic re your current situation, including the filamentous green algae.

Chaetomorpha source 12/5/03 Hey guys, <whassup> I have had a refugium and have been trying to find some Chaetomorpha to stock it with for a while, but have been having trouble finding anyone who sells it.  Do you know of any reliable e-tailers who carry it? Thanks, Rem <I'd contact Morgan Lidster at Inland Aquatics... many nice refugium species available. Or, look up some local or regional aquarium societies. Many have members (like my www.PMAS.org) that have so much Chaetomorpha and other macros that they bring them to the monthly meetings or throw it away. It will not be hard to find my friend. Anthony>

Getting rid of Caulerpa  11/18/05 Hello, <Pat, your English is atrocious!> <<You're not kidding! MH>> I have a 21 gallon reef tank that has been running for about 7 months with no problem...( no ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, ph Alk and calcium all stable as well as temp).. anyways a while back I made the mistake of putting some grape Caulerpa in the tank and now it will not stop growing. Is there a way to stop it from growing? or is there a fish that I can put in it that will eat the Caulerpa? I know a yellow tang will eat it but I do not want to put one in my tank as it is to small for the fish. are there any other alternatives? thank you Pat <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caulerpaalg.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

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

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

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

Bubble Algae, Dictyosphaeria versluysii? 7/26/05 I've got some very slow growing bubble algae on a rock in a mixed reef aquarium. It looks like Dictyosphaeria versluysii, but I am certainly not a taxonomist, so I don't know for sure. "Bubbles" are very small, about a millimeter or less in diameter, and form very tight, compact green to blue-green colonies. It seems to do very well where there is vigorous water flow and it's quite resistant to a toothbrush on the end of a siphon tube. I have read some info that suggests, unlike Valonia, one should leave D. v. alone and enjoy it. What is your opinion, should I make an attempt to scrub it off the rocks if it is in fact Dictyosphaeria versluysii? Thanks, George <Mmm, some folks over-react... usually self-limiting... I wouldn't be overly concerned. You can search on WWM re the genus... Bob Fenner>

My Valonia Dear Bob, Since the 20 gallon refugium got loaded with Caulerpa and adding de-ionization to the R/O, I have had no visible micro algae in the show tank. Several weeks ago a bubble of Valonia appeared pushing out from a hole in a piece of live rock. It looks exactly like the your photo of Valonia. Now the colony is about 1 1/2 inch in diameter, a beautiful translucent color with growths of pink coralline algae dotting it. It is hard, like acrylic, to the touch. I have seen questions on your site indicating that Valonia can be a problem, hard to get rid of, etc. My question is, should I get rid of this big sphere before it multiplies into a problem? (I envision it bursting and spreading little bubbles all over.) I like how it looks, colorful and interesting. In 15 months since I began creating this reef, this is the first "bubble algae" I have seen. Tests show no detectable nitrates, phosphates, or silicates. Tangs, crabs, and shrimp ignore the bubble. Howard <No need to rush... you can remove the rock involved, do a bit of scrubbing later if this algae becomes a pest. I would leave, enjoy it. Bob Fenner>

Hair Algae nightmare Hi Bob, <<Not Bob, by JasonC here drinking coffee with Bob, how are you?>> I have had a hair algae problem for about three months now, I have physically removed it on several occasions and it always comes back. <<not an uncommon condition, my friend.>> I have a 120 gallon tank with a 3 inch sand bed and roughly 100 lbs of live rock. I dose B-ionic regularly and add iodine about once a month. I have an Aqua-c skimmer and run carbon 24/7. What am I doing wrong???? <<Hard to say without coming over to your house and watching your habits for a week or two. The most common cause for nuisance algae is detritus accumulation, either from overfeeding, lack of circulation, or both. I would suggest trying some additional powerheads to increase the flow, keeping the detritus in suspension and then hopefully into your filtration where it can be exported by the skimmer or in the pre-filter pads. You will probably have to get your hands in the tank more frequently to help remove the big chunks. This battle is not won over night. Keep at it. Cheers, J -- >>

Bubble algae follow up Hi Anthony, Thanks for your prompt response! <my pleasure!> Yes, our pH is about 8.2 (as you suspected!) We are now trying to increase this, however, all the products available (for marine systems) that we have looked at for increasing pH seem to only raise pH to 8.2. We have seen nothing available to make it higher. Have you any suggestions? <yes...try the buffering part (only at first) of a two part calcium mix. For something simpler and less expensive... you can very slowly (small amounts) and carefully add a bit of baking soda daily until you reach your targeted pH and then assess the buffering ability of the system by seeing how long the pH stays up> Also, am I right in thinking that a higher pH affects ammonia levels?  <yes, but all moot... and dangerous enough at the higher end that we must invariably work on for marine aquaria>  It all seems to be a bit of a juggling act! Meantime, our newly purchased algae blenny seems to be really tucking into the algae. Thanks again for all your help. This website is a godsend for us "marines"! <thank you! and keep learning and growing... and teach when you can. Share the knowledge. Anthony>

Dinoflagellates or Hair. maybe film? Hello Mr. Fenner, I hope you might be able to help me. I have been doing a major amount of research on different forms of nuisance algae as well as beneficial. <A practical survey...> I have been going through a lot of plague algae's (tank is a year old) in my tank. Through my research I have found out what needs to be done to improve my system. I definitely have a excess of nutrients in my water. I turned the skimmer to full blast and ordered a new sump setup that will give me a 20 gallon refugium. And a RO unit is on it's way. I can't wait for these to arrive. They were ordered two weeks ago and will be here January the 25th. <Ahh! All good steps> In the mean time I tried to introduce different forms of macroalgae to the main tank (feather, razor, grape) two weeks ago. I added quite a bunch of each. I think the detrimental algae in the tank is winning the nutrient eating wars. :) I see a tiny crop of grape macro here and there but I don't think it is doing much at this point. <Takes a while for newly introduced macrophytes to "settle in"> I siphon this algae (the bad kind) off of my rocks, and when I do weekly water changes I vacuum the gravel. It just comes back with a vengeance. I will not let this get the upper hand on me. I know that the procedure to get rid of nuisance algae and I hope I am doing all that is needed. I have learned much from your web-site as well as reading everything I can get my hands on. What this algae is that is taking over my rock and gravel (and glass) I do not have a name for. <Easy to figure down to the Division, family, perhaps genus level with a simple microscope, dichotomous key...> I thought it might be a form of film algae (I have the green that grows on the glass, not a prolific amount.) This algae is a tannish to yellow color, and grows in long hair like strands. Which lead me to think it might be hair algae. When I touch it it falls apart and looks like powder in the water. Not too hard to siphon. It grows in long strands on the glass as well. It does not seem to lighten up when I cut back on the lights. It does grow quickly. :( I have sent the best pictures I could take of this stuff. <I see, and will post them... Is this material very slimy? Though it is green, tannish in color, this may be a Blue-Green/Cyanobacteria.> I thought that perhaps until the refugium and RO units come I might try to add a good amount of Halimeda sp. to the tank. It appears to be more hardy and I do have the Ca readings to support it well. Forgive me for this longish email. I hope that you might look at the information I have given, as well as the pictures, and give a name to my soon to be algae victim. :) If you might have any other suggestions as to what I could do to help rid this outbreak while I am waiting for my arsenal I would be glad to hear it. :) <I definitely would add a Salarias, Atrosalarias species blenny here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/trublennies.htm> Thank you for your time and for any advice you might have to offer. 75 gallons. 2 1/2" LS, 95lbs LR, 400 watt PC lighting. temp 80* SG 1.025. Ammonia and Nitrite 0, Nitrate 15ppm., pH 8.3, Alk 12dkh, Ca 450ppm. I add Iodine (weekly) and dose with B-Ionic (daily) 5 gallon water changes weekly. No fish. Corals are mainly LPS. Circulation turns over 17 times the system water an hour. Very turbulent at times <You are certain to see improvement with your planned changes and the addition of the Blenny. Bob Fenner>

Re: Dinoflagellates or Hair. maybe film? Mr. Fenner, Thank you so much for the quick reply. I am glad to hear that I should keep my hopes up for the macroalgae in my main tank. I am sure once all of my equipment comes next month it will grow quite well. <Yes> I wish I could look under a microscope to see what genus this algae is. I might look into visiting a local college and seeing if they could humor me by letting me use their equipment. <Simple microscope will do... 200X> You asked if this algae is slimy. It's hard to say. When I touch it it turns to dust. It leaves a smear of brownish goo on my finger. I would call that slimy. Then if I run my finger tip over the rock I just touched it does feel slick. BGA, eh? Oh bother. It's my own fault I know. I will mess with the powerheads (don't see dead spots, but better safe then sorry) <Yes> I called my two LFS about acquiring a Atrosalarias blenny, but they both could not get one for at least another week (no listings online that I have found). <A week is fine... etailers listed on our Links (WWM) could ship sooner. I'd wait> I do quarantine for 5 weeks. By that time I would have the refugium and RO up and running and hopefully making a sizeable dent in this algae. If I were to add a blenny at that point, I would think I have taken it's food source away. Or I wonder, would he take other food stuffs and help control a future outbreak? Well worth it if that is the case. <I would still add this animal> I am off to read more about BGA and see what more I can learn. Starting with WWM. :) Thank you again. Your help/advice with my problems are greatly appreciated. <You are welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Mithrax Crab / Bubble Algae Question Bob, About a month ago, I wrote to you about a bubble algae problem I was beginning to have. Well, now it is a huge problem. I have been trying to remove it by hand, but this seems to be a losing battle. In your reply to my earlier e-mail you mentioned that Mithrax sculptus, the Green/Emerald Crab is known to eat bubble algae so I'm thinking of adding one (or more) to my tank. My questions are. a) will it bother the banded coral shrimp and 2 common cleaner shrimps I have and b) will it bother / eat any corals or clams?? Also, any other ideas for eliminating this pesky algae would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your help again! Phil in San Diego <Very rare to have Mithrax crabs bother other crustaceans, corals, or clams... try one per fifty gallons or so... and start small... like one inch across the carapace in size. Bob Fenner>

Algae Bob, I have recently encountered a hair algae problem in my recently set up 180. The new tank is an upsize from my old 150 and at least 50% of the old water was used. What is funny is that I've had a Yellow , Blue and Sailfin Tang for about a year and a half. When the soft green hair algae showed up, none of the tangs would touch it. Are there some types of hair algae that tangs will not consume? <Absolutely... do give a read over the "algae control" sections on our site... starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the many links beyond... As you're likely aware, most all systems go through a "pest algae phase"... even with transfer of much existing water, materials... There are some forms of algae most everything avoids ingesting... but many other "roads to Rome" for control... Bob Fenner> Thank you, Jim Gasta

Green hair algae How do you get rid of green hair algae???????? I found out the hard way I was leaving the light on too long..........more than 10 hours a day. Now this green furry stuff is everywhere. We tried pulling it off...........turkey basted some off into water, caught some in net and let the power skimmer catch a lot of it, but it is not going away. We changed 5 gal. of the water (54gal) tank, and cleaned all filters but it seems it is only a little better. We also purchased two blue leg crabs and a red lip blenny which are supposed to help. Any Suggestions?????????????? <Many. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the many associated articles, FAQs linked beyond. You will know how to develop and implement a long-term system of maintenance with the understanding gained. Bob Fenner>

Bubble Algae Robert, <<JasonC here, Bob is away diving.>> I noticed some bubble algae has developed in my tank (58 gal). I purchased two Emerald Crabs hoping to get rid of or control the algae. They have been in the tank only one day... and have been eating something... micro algae or poop or whatever... not the bubble algae though. Should I be more patient? <<yes.>> I noticed both crabs eating something and bubble algae was almost touching them and they ignored it... which burst my bubble. I hear these crabs are great for algae reduction... esp. bubble. If not the crabs, how do I get rid of it? <<with your bare hand(s) - just gently grab as close to the base as possible and wiggle like a loose tooth, it will come out, and if it pops, just take it out of the tank quick. No harm should come of it - just cleaned up a small patch myself this way last night. Sometimes you will get the odd small, single bubble a couple of weeks from now, but your crabs will probably nab that.>> Have a good day! Terry <<You as well. Cheers, J -- >>

Green film question Hi Bob, Your book and site are great! <Thank you> I'd like to ask your help, if I may, about a thin film of green that coats my tank walls within hours of cleaning/water change, etc. 27G tank is about 10 weeks old, 110W of CF, 25 lbs of live rock, handful of Astrea snails and red-legged hermits, 1 small maroon clown, 2 bubble tip anemones, and a few small mushroom anemones. I have an A miracle protein skimmer and powerhead for water movement.  <Hmm, I was going to say that one likely deficiency accounting for the green film might be poor circulation, a lack of a protein skimmer, but you should be okay here> The film buildup started about 3 weeks ago with the introduction of the 2 bubble tip anemones (maybe coincidence?)...  <Maybe> Added carbon last week to see if this would cut down on the buildup, but it hasn't made a difference. All parameters are normal, barely registerable levels of phosphate, no other algae problem, and starting to see spread of coralline algae on LR, and spots growing on the walls and powerheads... Mushrooms have grown a lot, bubble tips seem healthy. Any thoughts? <Some other source of ready nutrient and a paucity of competition... Perhaps a lack of alkaline reserve. Do you measure this? The tank is so new (ten weeks), that I would just keep wiping all down, maybe add a bit of macro algae at this juncture... and see what develops in the next few weeks. All should settle in. Bob Fenner>

Re: green film question Bob, Thanks for your reply. I do measure alkalinity, and have been slowly increasing it from 1.7 to about 2.2 (baking soda).  <Good, keep elevating... to at least 3.5 or so...> How would this affect the condition...?  <In a few ways directly and not... the algae (and associated life) are favored by a bicarbonate, carbonate limited environment... You can help your corallines compete biologically by boosting alkalinity> Would particulate filtration help, perhaps? <Perhaps> Maybe I'll just have to be patient as you suggest :) <Yes... a valuable trait to be able to wait. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Daisy

Valonia Mr. Bob Fenner I forgot to ask your opinion about a algae problem with Valonia that is growing too much in my tank. Could I use a needle to empty the spheres one by one? <I would not> Or this practice will contribute for a major dissemination of the algae? <Possibly... or the death of other life...> Inject something like hot water or small portions of acetic acid? <No my friend. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the associated FAQs beyond. Bob Fenner> Thank you very much Fl?io Ribeiro

Tank Temp and Algae Greetings Bob! I hope this mail finds you happy and healthy! << Greetings from Jason C, doing his best Bob Fenner impersonation, practicing for Bob's upcoming dive trip. I hope this day finds you happy and healthy too. >> I have a 100 gallon that has been set up for about 3 weeks with 100 lbs of LR. I am using a Blueline 1100 (Champion Lighting) as a return pump, an Icecap 660 (3 60'' bulbs), and 2x295 gph Maxijet powerheads. I have disengaged the heater. The tank temp is constantly at 82-83 F. I have disengaged the lights for 12 hours to try and determine where the heat is coming from. The tank temp did not change. It must be the Blueline. I know the standard response is to add fans. A chiller is out of the question. << with 100g of water, it might take a little longer than 12 hours for the water temperature to shift, given other factors: ambient temp, flow rate, etc. I quickly checked the Champion web site - the picture of this pump shows is as an external pump. Is this the case with your sump/pump? If the pump is external, then I doubt seriously that the pump is contributing enough heat to warm 100g to 84 degrees; it could add some heat but not that much. I didn't notice anywhere... is there a top on this tank? You may well be creating a bottle effect with the top on tight. >> 1) Will fans help since the problem is the pump? << well, a fan will help, regardless of where the problem is being created >> 2) Will they help if I have them blowing into the sump?  << yes >> 3) I know that 84 is on the high side, but should I be worried about the temp? Is 84 too hot? << well, life has an amazing capacity to endure conditions we would think to be intolerable. For most tank-bound organisms, this higher temperature would speed up everyone's metabolism, so some/most of your inhabitants would have shorter-than-normal lives, just because they used it all up at twice the speed. >> As you probably know, Borneman suggests keeping reef tanks at 80-84 F but my LFS thinks that's insane. He says almost nothing (especially fish) will survive at that temp. << I quickly checked the Borneman book - his suggested range is 68 to 84, with 86 being fatal to much marine life. Delbeek/Sprung list ideal range as 70 to 80. Bob Fenner's book Conscientious Marine Aquarist lists ideal as 72 to 80. Given those three samples I'd say that 84 is high, and certainly sets you up for something higher. If SPS corals are in your future, you're going to want to get that temp down. >> Also, the LR is growing large amounts of filamentous algae that I can't identify. How about giving it a try? The algae is growing in tufts or clusters all over the tank including the walls and substrate. One can clearly see that there are about 10-15 thalli growing from each cluster and the thalli look similar to a feather. The algae is dark green and wispy (my wife says feathery). The algae does not mat like hair algae rather it grows very fast and sways in the current. << Check this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalg.htm - you may find a picture of your algae here. In any case, it sounds like it has nothing to compete with it at the moment, so that coupled with the 84 degree temperature and you've got a wonderful planted marine tank. >> 4) Do I need to get rid of this stuff? It is pretty but grows at an astronomical rate! << The definition of "a weed" is subjective. Is it competing with something else that you want? I would say chances are good this is a pest, too much algae can out-compete your nitrogen-cycle bacteria for nutrients. >> There is also another kind of algae that I can't identify. It is a gorgeous almost neon green and it grows as lots of single strands. The strands are not straight but appear to be kinked up. It's not as fast growing nonetheless: 5) What is it and do I need to get rid of this stuff? << again, check that URL. Manual removal with the hands, increased flow in the tank, competitive organisms. >> Assuming the worst (this is all nuisance algae) can you suggest a cleanup crew from a specific dealer? << six of one, half dozen of the other - check the WetWeb Discussion forum for specific recommendations. http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ >> Bob, your daily FAQ page is one of the best features of your site. Unlike many, many other sites that also have good info, your site is getting updated constantly. It never gets stale. << that is what makes for good Internet reading, isn't it... >> Thanks for your time, patience, and knowledge. Keep up the good work!! << doing what I can to match Bob's energy, may not be possible. Cheers - J >> David Dowless

Reef tank algae problems Mr. Fenner,  I appreciate all the excellent advice you've given me in the past. I must turn to you once again for a little problem I'm having with my 55-gallon reef tank. It is over-run with hair algae. We've tried several things we've seen on the website, and are putting Caulerpa in the sump in a few minutes to try to clear it up. <This will help> My question is this: I told our LFS-manager the situation and he told me to take the bio-balls out of our wet-dry filter because a reef tank does not need that much biological filtration. <Mmm, agreed in so much that once-established there is plenty of biological filtration from other sources... principally the live rock> The tank has been set up for 2 years. He said that the bacteria in the bio-balls was contributing to the hair algae growth. To believe, or not to believe?  <This is very likely so. I would pull the plastic media. Bob Fenner> Thanks again for all your help and I eagerly await your response.  Thanks again, Tracy

Major Reef Tank Problem (green hair algae) Dear Bob: I haven't communicated with you for a while. I hope everything is well with you. <Yes. Thank you> Bob, I am trying not to become overly depressed about my 92 gallon reef set-up. I've got an out of control hair/turf algae problem that I cannot pinpoint the cause. Here are some facts: <Not to worry... many causes, cures... we can solve this one> -My tank is 15 months old -90 lbs of live rock -20 gallon sump refugium with housing some Caulerpa algae lighted by a 65 watt LOA flourex light about 16 hours/day -EuroReef skimmer - MAG 7 return pump -3 internal powerheads -about 2 inches of aragonite sand. Particle size in between crushed coral and oolite sand -low bioload, i.e., 3 fish, cleanup crew, cleaner shrimp, 4 soft corals, 2 LPS corals, mushrooms, button polyps -top off reservoir filled with Tap Water Purifier water -0 nitrates reading -0 phosphate reading -2.5 mg/l alkalinity <Mmm, this is a bit low...> -450 ppm calcium -IceCap 660 VHO lamp system - 1 95 watt actinic blue URI lamp, 1 95 watt white 50/50 URI lamp, 1 95 watt AquaSun URI lamp and 1 75 watt actinic blue URI lamp Turf/hair algae is completely overrunning my tank. It is growing in between my candy cane coral, on every rock, some of it is up to 1 inch in length, some even on sand, consuming almost all of my button polyps, etc. For about 4 weeks now I have been scrubbing rocks and trying pull out this algae, scooping it out with a net. In addition I have been doing 20% water changes every two weeks. Last week, I even took out half of my rock and scrubbed it in a separate container, but it is now growing again on it. I have had carbon in the sump now for about a week, and also Marc Weiss' new Phosphate/Silicate Magnet product in there for 3 days now. <Get rid of this product> I believe my problem may have begun when I decided I needed to start replacing my lamps since it had been 1 year since I purchased them. I first changed the AquaSun, and noticed within about a week that algae was starting to grow on the rocks below this lamp. I changed the remaining lamps, each being changed about every 2 weeks. <Mmm, maybe a source of stimulation... you know now that you want to cycle the lamps in/out on an "effective life span cycle"> Bob, I am so frustrated. I have had no losses of life due to bad water conditions until now - my normally perfectly healthy 8 month old yellowhead Jawfish I believe got so stressed out from my rock scrubbing and turkey baster blowing that he stopped eating and died, and a new Foxface I got to help with algae control never adjusted and died in a week. Your input would be greatly appreciated, as I am baffled. <You have nice gear, seem quite aware of what is going on (you know what you know) re your system. I would take some simple, plain steps at this point to return your system to "center". As easy as it may seem, raising your alkalinity is paramount to your success here. You don't mention how you raise your calcium, but I would look into two part additives, supplements that contain calcium chloride, and use a modicum of simple baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), a few teaspoons dissolved in system water per day, poured in about the surface... and measure in the AM to see if you're able to boost alkalinity in this way. In addition I would add some of my favorite algae eaters: One or two specimens of Salarias fasciatus or Atrosalarias sp. blennies.  Do get/use a phosphate test kit... this source of rate-limiting nutrient may be playing a pivotal role here... And please read through the many FAQs, articles on "marine algae", "control" posted on the WWM site starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm We can/could talk over the implementation of a calcium reactor (a carbon dioxide infusion type), getting a reverse osmosis unit for your new water use (in place of the TWP)... but that can/will come later. Try to read over the links where I've sent you, and prepare for the changes suggested. In a few weeks, the pest hair algae problem will be in decline. Bob Fenner> Sorry for the long dissertation, but I wanted to give you as much information as possible. John

Re: Major Reef Tank Problem Thank you for your reply Bob. I did forget to mention that my open brain coral is also not expanding like it normally does, and my pagoda cup coral has not been extending any of it's polyps for about 1 week now. I have been testing for phosphates (SERA test kit) and my readings are nil. I'll take out the Marc Weiss product at your suggestion, but should I keep the carbon in? <Yes> Also, I am using Kent Marine's 2 part Alk/calcium system, and dripping granular alkalinity or calcium (Kent) into my sump if these levels have been low. I do agree my system is not "centered" like you stated. Before all of this disrupt, it seems like all I needed to do was add my 2 part solutions and everything was fine. Another additional step I have taken lately has been adding magnesium because my test results showed lower levels. Finally, I forgot to mention that I am noticing a kind of film with small particles that has constantly remained on the water surface. <From the additives... no big deal... can be lifted off with a clean, unscented paper towel as a "wick"> Again, thanks so much for your advice. I do hope you can help get my tank out of this funk so I can really enjoy this great hobby again. <I'll be here to help if I can. Bob Fenner> John

Re: Major Reef Tank Problem Thanks once again, Bob. Last question (I think, at least for now!) - do you think I should temporarily reduce the photoperiod? I did this for about 2 weeks (about 4 hrs/day), but I am afraid that my photosynthetic corals may not want this shortened period any longer. <Agreed. I would not shorten, alter your photoperiod. Bob Fenner>

Control of Caulerpa I was investigating control measures of Caulerpa when I stumbled across your article. I think I have either taxifolia or mexicana, which I love, but it grows so vigorously that I must trim out pounds a week. Do U know of an animal (preferably a fish) that will consume this type of Caulerpa? <Yes... starting with your fellow hobbyists and retailers... really, do consider selling your excess. Many folks are looking for some, especially a colony that is aquarium-established. Oh, and Zebrasoma Tangs et al: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algeatrcontfaqs.htm> My snails and hermits don't touch the stuff and I don't have any types of algae visible except coralline. Thanks. <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Hair algae Is hair algae detrimental to water quality in a FOWLR system other than visually? <Hmm, actually, generally not... unless there is "a whole bunch" for the size/volume of the system, these forms of life are likely more beneficial than detrimental... "taking up nutrient", packaging it into formats useful for your livestock, providing habitat...> By the way, you may already know this, but Aqua-Medic has produced its own pump for the Turboflotor 1000 which will be available in October 2001. (This is good news for me because of limited space in my sump!) It will be similar in size to the Rio, but of higher quality. <Hmm, no, haven't heard or seen this. Thanks for the notice> Have you ever witnessed a big moray "play" with a lobster? I was in Cozumel last week and filmed about a 6-7 foot green moray chase down and dismantle a large Caribbean lobster; it was very exciting! <Again, thank you for relating this. Have not seen myself. Bob Fenner> Grateful for your time and patience, Ken Kiefer

Bright Green Algae Mr. Fenner, Well it has been a week and I increased the light cycle like you said and kept adding four teaspoons of Kent DKH buffer daily for one week. Retested the water a little while ago and here are the results. Salinity:1.023, AM:0, NI:0, NA:0, PHOS:0, ALK:8.4DKH, CAL:525. Just to refresh your memory the problem was high calcium levels and low alkalinity. This combination made my water very cloudy. The good news is it has cleared up almost entirely. The bad news is it doesn't seem to have put a dent in the green algae growth. All the hair algae is now gone, but it is the real fine bright green stuff on the rocks and the glass.  <This will cycle out in turn... and I would just use baking soda...> I have just been cleaning the front pane like you said but it greens up over night. sometimes as much as twice to three times a day) It is not a slime or a hair type algae but almost like a fine bright green powder. All the critters seem to be fine. I have really reduced there food to almost nothing. So just curious as to what you think or suggest?  <Patience, time going by...> Have not been adding anything except buffer and a little bit of food. I don't remember if I told you but I have my metal halides approx. 15 inches off of the water. I wasn't sure if you would remember all of the specifics of my system but if you need some more info on anything just let me know. Thanks again for your help. Dave Brunsmann <You could add a Ctenochaetus Tang, some of the popular algae eating snails... Bob Fenner>

Re: Bright Green Algae Bob are you talking about just plain baking soda from the grocery store?  <Yes... sodium bicarbonate... it's the principal ingredient in what you're using for dKH... and all other products of the same sort> If so how much do I add and how often and when do I quit adding it and go back to the regular buffer?  <Check the site: http://wetwebmedia.com/marphfaq.htm for this info.> I have about 25 Trochus snails already and as far as the tang goes I do want a hawaiiensis or a strigosus. <I would definitely be getting one of these... ASAPractical. Bob Fenner> Thanks again!! Dave

Bright green alga I just read a article on this but I didn't understand the answer here's the article http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brownalgcontfaqs.htm everything is the same as this guys. is the answer more light ?  <Hmm, need more specific information... there are a few FAQs on this page... could be the/your lack of lighting. Bob Fenner> I got 3 160 watts VHO's getting 3 more this week.

Bubble Algae Robert, First, thanks for taking my e-mail. I've read all kinds of articles and all kinds of postings concerning how to deal with bubble algae. So far I have not found a common thread. Some talk about emerald crabs, some talk about fish, some talk about throwing your rock out. <Hmm, maybe scrubbing the rock... there are many, though no one definitive control approach> I would prefer not to throw out my rock. I have a very bad outbreak of bubble algae in my 55gal reef tank. I have 2 emerald crabs, but they don't seem to be doing that good of a job. I've taken some of the rocks out and either scrubbed the bubbles off with a brush or pulled the bubbles off with a pair of needle nose pliers. I then washed them in fresh water. I did that with a soft coral on one of these rocks and the coral does not seem to be doing that well.  <I'll bet> I think I'm going to try and clean all rocks that have no corals attached to them. Please let me know what you think. Thanks Gary G. Gentles Avon, IN <Please take a read through the "Algae" and "Algae Control" parts of our site: www.WetWebMedia.com... one avenue you don't mention, but that I would definitely try is culturing other macro-algae in the same tank or an attached sump... Read about this approach on the WWM site. Bob Fenner>


Mixing cleaner-uppers and hair algae I have 105gal tank w/approx. 85lbs. of live rock and 40lbs of sand. The tank went through a brown algae phase, and has now cycled. 0 amm. 0 nitrite. 5ppm Nitrate. Green hair algae began to grow about a week ago. I have also noticed some bubble algae, and some reds as well. I wanted to mix a 30 gal. classic and 30 gal. reef relief. However, some of the hair algae has grown quite thick, about 2" long and has covered the highest piece of rock completely. Will these clean-up crews tackle this dense patch of hair algae? I tried to pick it off, but it's slimy and proves to be a nearly impossible task. < Sounds like a job for a 'lawn-mower' algae blenny. There are very, very few crabs or snails that eat this stuff. Some tangs will also munch it. -Lorenzo, standing in for Bob-in-Asia>

Green Algae?? build up Dear Mr. Fenner, I have read many articles in your FAQ area on WetWeb, some situations seem very close to mine but I wanted to ask you directly. <I understand> I have a 30 Gallon reef tank which has been up and running for about 1 month and I am starting to see a build up with green??? (looks brown under lighting) algae building up on the liverock, aragonite sand, and glass. It does not resemble hair, looks more like dirt or dust on sand and rock. I try to keep it clean but it seems to pile up extremely fast.  <Yes... likely a mix of diatoms, perhaps other organisms with these algae...> .I cycled the tank with liverock and a Bio-Wheel off a friend's system which had been running for about 10 years. I am running a H.O.T magnum with a Bio-Wheel 30 & a Prizm Skimmer, 4 N/O Coralife 20 Watt Flos- 2 Actinic, 1 50/50, 1 Trichromatic 12 hours. I currently have 2 True Percula, feeding once per day (brine shrimp). There was no ammonia or nitrite spike, Nitrates very low, pH @ 8.3, Specific gravity @ 1.024. Temp 79.5, Calcium 480 mg/L (ppm), Phosphate 0.25 mg/L, alkalinity 110 mg/L. I have not resorted yet to the following: turbo snails, hermits, a powerhead, macroalgae. Also the red/pink encrusting algae which covers the liverock I had introduced seems to be slowly wasting away. What can I do to slow this growth down or is this what you referred to in another article as another type of cycling?  <Well put, insightful re the last... but there are a few things you can/might do... check on your biomineral and alkalinity concentrations and augment them directly... in attempt to bolster "other" competing algal life... deprive the pest forms their share of nutrient, have the favored forms chemically impugn the "bad ones"... Also, look into using a more "silicate free" water source for your seawater making (an essential nutrient to diatoms to make their siliceous skeletons, "diatomaceous earth"..., perhaps to use activated carbon periodically (monthly) in your filter flow path to make some other nutrients rate-limiting...> "In essence, your tank is going through another type of "cycling" phase... not microbial nitrification, but a succession of life forms you can see (the algae)... You should see some nitrates accumulating soon... and a die-off of some/most of the filamentous (nuisance) algae" Your help is appreciated. <Yes... with your tank only being up a month or so, it is still (more) rapidly cycling, undergoing succession than it will be going forward in time... if it were mine, I'd take all slow here... perhaps investigate "sand stirrers" for a small system for addition a month or so from now. Otherwise, don't let the rapid light brown algae growth bother you... not toxic, only distractively unsightly... and it too shall pass (soon). Bob Fenner> Thanks, Torrey

Re: Green Algae?? build up Dear Mr. Fenner, Thank you very much for your advice and quick response. I have a couple of questions about your comments: <<Okay>> <Well put, insightful re the last... but there are a few things you can/might do... check on your biomineral and alkalinity concentrations and augment them directly... in attempt to bolster "other" competing algal life... deprive the pest forms their share of nutrient, have the favored forms chemically impugned the "bad ones"... <<How do I accomplish this? Water tests, additives/supplements? <<Yes, > Also, look into using a more "silicate free" water source for your seawater making (an essential nutrient to diatoms to make their siliceous skeletons, "diatomaceous earth"..., perhaps to use activated carbon periodically (monthly) in your filter flow path to make some other nutrients rate-limiting...> << I am using well water and reef Crystals for my sea water, do you suggest R/O?>> <<Maybe. Do have your water tested by a Quality Assurance lab, or your local water district, extension office.> <<Also I am running carbon full time right now, although it probably only stays active around a day or so, should I stop using carbon?>> <<No, I would continue to use the activated carbon, replacing it about once a month.> Thanks again, Torrey <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Algae Problem Hi Robert, I have a 29 gallon salt water tank that has been running for about a year now. I have four fish, and 20 lbs. of live rock. I am starting to get some major brownish red algae build up on my live rock, crushed coral, and glass. What kind of clean up crew would be best for me?  <Actually, likely none... this is almost certainly a growth of a group of Blue Green Algae, aka Cyanobacteria... which most all "clean up" organisms used in the hobby eschew... I would add more live rock, circulation, lighting (check for the incept dates of your lamps), green macro-algae species... Please see the coverage on "Algae Control" posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com and particularly the one on BGA and associated FAQs...> Should I go as far as getting an abalone?  <No, won't eat it> Also, I know a Caulerpa plant would be helpful to reduce algae and lower nitrate/phosphate levels, but do I need to go that far?  <Ah, yes! Good idea> My tank is small, and I really would rather get into some polyps or coral stuff. <I understand... perhaps a small sump could be added... with lighting... for help here all the way around...> Last question.. sorry.... Do you think my tank is going to be able to support some polyps, etc. I currently have a Skilter filter/protein skimmer, but that's it. All my levels are fine, except for my nitrates, which are very high, but lowering due to the new addition of live rock. What kind of polyps/coral would be a good next step for me? <Good questions, well stated... yes, many types of hardy polyps will go fine here... and the Skilter is likely fine, or can easily be improved with the addition of an airstone down the collector cup... See the WWM site here my friend... We'll be speaking for sure. Bob Fenner> Thank you so much for your advice Kent Krupicka Auburn, Alabama

Marine Algae/Feathery I.D. Robert I have a question about alga in one spot of my tank. I looked on the FFE site and wet web media of course, and haven't what I was looking for. My reef tank is great , I was wondering what kind of alga looks feathery. Un fortunately I am colorblind but I think it is green I think) It is growing next to the Caulerpa I have in my tank. This stuff looks like a bunch of little feathers. <Derbesia as a genus is very common in captive reef systems... and feathery in appearance> I have a purple tang and haven't seen him pick at it, but I feed him regularly so he probably isn't really looking for anything else. My tank is totally encrusted with coralline and looks great. Is this just a nuisance algae? Should I take out the little bit that is in there or leave it? <Nuisance... yes, as in not very palatable to common algae eaters...> ps I just finished your book for the second time and am adding it to my collection. thanks and take care <Ah, glad you're enjoying it. Do consider depriving these nuisance forms of nutrient... and growing desirable macro-algae that will produce chemicals to further limit its growth. Please read the "Algal Filtration" and FAQs sections on the www.WetWebMedia.com site for the particulars. Bob Fenner>

Hair/Green Algae Bob I have a 55gl tank with (4) 55 watt compacts, (1) CPR BakPak filter, (1) te-5 little giant pump just for circulation, 60-70lbs of live rock, some new a lot of coralline, ph-8.4, nitrate-0, phosphate-3.0(very high),  <Yikes, yes> I am using tap water, and having a lot of green algae and some brown aloe growing all over, I also have (1) yellow tang (1) bird wrasse (1) mandarin (1) true percula, and some yellow polyps, and a couple of mushroom corals that look like they are dying? <What?> what can I do to solve my problem, also 10-20 hermits running around at all times, the tank has been running for 2 yrs now,,,, any suggestion would be great,,, thanks Chris Campbell,,,,, <A bunch of things to consider doing here... For one, due to the age of this system, do place/replace some of the live rock... reasons for this posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com site where I refer you to read over the "Algal Filtration", "Algae Control" sections and related FAQs (where you'll find this soon...)... and "Seawater Use", "Treating Tap" sections... because your source water is one major obstacle here... do get an R.O. unit for your pet-fish and personal use... and grow some macroalgae in a sump (lighted) and/or your main system... Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Hello, Progress Report, and Hair Algae Hi Bob! I've been quiet--but I've been busy. Thanks for your suggestion to find a good newsgroup. I joined one. It's nice, even being new at this, to be able to pass along some of what I've learned, and to learn more. (I'll admit, however, that my passing along your suggestion that Aiptasia be eliminated by a freshwater soak of the LR was met with some consternation and generated some spirited exchanges. . .and there still appear to be lots of "myths" floating around out there as well. . . ) <Yes...> At any rate--I've already done two 25-gallon water changes. Alk has dropped from 5 mEq/L to 3 mEq/L--which in my case is a good thing. Ca has risen from 210 to 255. This increase is just from dilution of the anionic concentration, and from the Ca present in the salt mix, as I'm not supplementing with anything during this recovery process. (Even if I did, I don't think it would help, because the Ca is going to top out at its saturation level as the anionic condition is decreased--what I'm saying is, the reason the Ca level is at 255 now is most likely because that is the highest concentration the water will support. And as the anionic condition is reduced, some Ca that had previously precipitated out will probably dissolve and reenter solution on its own.) pH has come up from a low of 7.75 and is now at 8.0. I think I probably have about 4 to 6 more 25-gallon changes to go before I get a n acceptable, workable balance in the water chemistry. (Mathematically, eight 25% water changes will still leave about 10% of the "bad" water in the tank--even though the aggregate change is 200% of the tank's volume.) <More practice at math...> In case you're wondering how this is working--every night after I finish the water change, I mix new synthetic water in a big Rubbermaid tub for the next night, put a MaxiJet 1200 in the tub with a 300W heater set to my tank's daytime temperature, I tweak the SG in the AM after it's warmed some, and when I get home from work in the evening, viola!--fresh synthetic water, all agitated, at the exact system SG and temperature--and then the cycle starts all over again. <As imagined> Incidentally, I posted my dilemma on the NG on Sunday night, before I had reasoned all this out--and the next day I got a response, from a guy who also lives in Dallas, suggesting that I had an ionic imbalance! He had been through the same thing--and most likely his was also caused by a defective and/or exhausted RO/DI unit. And he suggested substantial, successive water changes. <Yep> I won't keep you long this time--I know you're busy and my work is cut out for me. <...> One question--my bubble coral has hair algae on it--on one spine, the algae is displacing the fleshy part of the animal from the spine. This started recently. I know hair algae on coral is usually a deadly combination. Will this correct itself once the water chemistry is worked out? Should I manually remove as much of the hair algae as possible now? <Leave it be...> Hope you're having a good week. Chat again soon. --James D <You live, you learn. Bob Fenner>

Bryopsis? Algae problems? Maybe you can help. <I will try> I've developed a problem with a dark green macro algae that has a featherlike shape, very fine feathery growth, but definitely not a type of Caulerpa or hair algae. The algae grows in clumps with the feathers branching out from a central location. <There are a few species of common pest Greens that fit this description> Another reef hobbyist identifies this algae as Bryopsis. I'm not sure if that is the correct spelling. <Bryopsis... likely so> So far I have found nothing that will eat it. I have had Desjardini tangs, purple tangs, red, blue, and scarlet hermits, emerald crabs, sally lightfoot crabs, Astrea and turbo snails. Nothing wants to touch the stuff. <Also a common complaint> Perhaps you can make some recommendations. The aquarium is a 345 gallon reef with 3 - 400 watt halides, 4 - 160 watt VHOs, downdraft skimming, calcium reactor, Berlin method. There are no other algae or nutrient problems, in fact so far the biggest problem has been the corals growing too fast. I'm having to prune my Acropora almost every 3 months! 75deg F calcium 475ppm ammonia, nitrite, nitrate 0 phosphate 0 ph 8.0 night 8.3 day ORP 435 (no ozone used) adding Kent marine strontium, Lugol's iodine, coral Vite, Dt's phytoplankton, Microvert trace elements are used infrequently and in lower dosages than recommended Please help Thanks, Doug <I recommend the growing of Caulerpa, Halimeda in a separate lighted sump here... these "other" Chlorophytes can/will produce chemicals and use of nutrients that will limit the pest algae proliferation... Other possible algae eaters I'd recruit are posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com site... in particular, look into Cypraeids available more and more... for the purpose, like C. annulus... as you might guess, there definitely are animals who do eat this stuff... otherwise the wild would be overrun with it. Bob Fenner

Algae Blues? hey bob, I'm going to place an order with your old pals FFExpress on Thursday for a Friday delivery (taking off work early to acclimate)...I had an algae outbreak of long green hairline algae, all over my rocks and back wall. the first thing I did was scrap most of it off, and siphon through a net into a bucket, so the algae would get trapped in the net and I could return the same water, it seemed to have worked well...then I did my first water change with RO water (I hope that unit helps?).. <Only time will/could tell... likely to be back without the item below...> the fish I plan on buying to remedy my algae are 2 lawnmower blennies (can I get 2?, <One is likely enough... for any but very large systems... really> or will they not get along). a hippo tang, a Sailfin tang, and 2 Mithrax crabs. are these good selections/methods for algae control or do you recommend any other fish...thanks for the advice <These and toss in a comb-tooth tang species (genus Ctenochaetus). They're reviewed, pictured, rated on our www.wetwebmedia.com site. Bob Fenner> bob, before I order it from FFExpress, the lawnmower blenny is the best fish to get rid of my green hair algae (the green algae is on a piece of live rock covering an area the size of your hand and is about an inch and a half long, it actually looks pretty cool, just swaying in the current, is this algae bad?  <Likely not bad, yes to being eaten> one of my clownfish thinks and treats it like its an anemone), I also just bought a R.O. unit, how big of a water change could I do at one time, I have a 55 gallon reef tank, is 8 gallons this weeks and 8 gallons the next week o.k. or too much? will big and frequent changes like this affect the calcium levels in my reef tank?...just one more question about the corals in my tank, my leather corals, flower pot coral, frogspawn, etc. are all doing fine but my mushrooms and polyps aren't...my calcium levels are 450 and ph and KH are fine, I also add iodide and Combisan once a week, and my lighting is 2 55 watt power compacts...any suggestions...thanks again...Jeff <For the rest, pls refer to materials stored on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner in the Cooks>

Green Hair Algae Bob- I just read your response to someone's question about green hair algae. I have had the same problem for the past year and on several occasions it has brought me to the brink of giving up. This is by far the most discouraging event for a reef tank lover. I still have the problem even after adding a lawnmower blenny and a Kole Tang. Quite honestly, I do not think they ever eat the hair algae. Two months ago I decided to leave my lights on for 12 hours instead of 8 and slowly the hair algae is turning white or light green. I currently have four 30 W, 10,000 K light bulbs, 2 actinic and 2 blue. My tank is a 59 gallon Oceanic. I have two power heads for filtration, UV Sterilizer and a 20" US Aquarium Protein Skimmer rated for a 75 gallon tank. I stopped using all additives besides a little calcium when it drops below 400. Ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and phosphates are zero. I only use reverse osmosis purified bottled water when I do my 10% water change every other week.  The only thing I haven't tried is to put competing algae in the tank. I do not know which kind and where I can buy it. Also I have been using a Magnum 350 with Phosguard and a carbon from Chemi-Pure constantly running in it. Should a remove the Magnum and only run it when I want to use some carbon for a few days? I believe you said the life of a carbon is 2 - 3 days previously. Will removing the Magnum filter have any negative effects? Lastly, in your post on 1/7/00 that I referred to earlier you said to use a Polyfilter. Should I occasionally run it in my Magnum? Thanks again for all your help. Rob < Yes to a bunch of what you've stated here... For one, in your first paragraph... it might seem illogical, but increasing the amount of light may well disfavor the green algae... with perhaps nutrient being taken up by other photosynthetic life... that may be producing an allelopathogen (chemicals that affect the metabolism of other species). Very good to read of your limiting "additives"... this will pay dividends as time goes by... Unfortunately, you may know... for every gram of solid material you've added, literally pounds of algae can result... Keep up the good fight... The competing algae can be as simple as a bunch (non-scientific term) of Halimeda or Caulerpa... the two most common macrophytes in the trade... FFExpress sells them, I'll bet. They can be placed right in the main tank in a bright spot... or in a sump if you add one... with a light. I would run the Magnum (or other canister filter) if I had it, continuously... as you've been doing... maybe with the occasional use of a PolyFilter (this product really works)... even though the carbon gets "exhausted" in a matter of hours to days (sometimes minutes...). The carbon is still useful for bio conversion... Have you tried a Mithrax Crab yet? I would... Bob Fenner>

Algae I have a small 15g reef that I start two weeks ago today. I have algae that has started growing in the tank over the last two or three days that I do not recognize. This algae is clumped like sage grass that you would see growing in a pasture, it has branches, it looks to be course and green in color. The algae is growing on the glass and pumps/piping but not on the live rock. There is a very little film algae that I can see growing. I do have macroalgae growing on some of the live rock but there is no resembles to this algae. Could this be a form of macroalgae or is this hair algae? The tank has 20 lbs of live rock, Fiji and Marshall inland rock which I purchased from a local shop, with a 1 in substrate (CaribSea Select). I skim with a CPR Bak2. The lighting is two pc 28w, one 6700k and one 7100k, which run about 11 hours a day. Water temp is 82 and SG 1.024. I also have about 16 red and blue leg hermit crabs and no fish. I did measure a rise in ammonia (max of .25 ppt) and a trace of nitrites but no nitrates. Last night I measure no ammonia, no nitrites, no nitrate and with a pH of 8.0. I can not say if the tank has cycled or not, I did not see a great rise in ammonia or nitrites. This is the first time for a reef, I had fish only tanks. Any ideas or help would be greatly appreciated. < Your system has definitely cycled... and you have some indeterminate species (singular or plural) of green filamentous algae... Call it "hair" if you'd like... And at this point, I wouldn't be overly concerned about it... in a short while (this is very but not absolutely likely) your system's balance will shift to favoring other life forms and much of the filamentous will go... in the meanwhile, just keep it scraped off the viewing panels (the tank frames you look through)... In essence, your tank is going through another type of "cycling" phase... not microbial nitrification, but a succession of life forms you can see (the algae)...  You should see some nitrates accumulating soon... and a die-off of some/most of the filamentous (nuisance) algae... Other biological control steps can be taken later... Bob Fenner>

Macro hair algae I have an algae that has grown in my tank that I would like to reduce or get rid of. It is not the typical problem hair algae that most have problems with (I have had that kind myself!). This algae is not long, fine (read flowing or wispy) and the color of "grass stains" or neon green.  The algae I have is short (1/8 to 1/4 long), coarse, stiff, and is a very dark green in color (almost a black). It grows slowly and is not easily removed from rock where it mostly grows. It does not grow in sand or on glass or just free in the water. (It has a very stubborn root.) I really believe it to be a macro algae. I have been told it comes from Fiji rock. This algae is found on the light exposed side of rocks. My water quality is good. By this I mean the corals are extended, the fish are active and eating, etc. My PO4 is measuring .1. I use VHO and MH in this 180 gal reef tank. I use a Tunze skimmer and a Ca reactor. I do not add anything else. I am also using charcoal in the sump most of the time. Water changes of about 20% per month. Temp in the lower 70's and stable. Tank and sump have live sand.  I have good water flow with 2 returns plus 4 Maxi Jets on 30 sec cycle for water movement. I feed 2 cubes of frozen store bought fish food a day. Water comes through a Kold Steril unit. I have tried Rabbit fish, dragon or bullet gobies, Yellow, Kole and now a Naso tang to remove it. I have some snails and a few crabs but not the recommended amounts. I had more they have slowly died off. They do not appear to have any effect on it.  I do not know what to try next. Can you help? I am at my wits end and my wallet can not stand many more failures. Thanks in advance! < What you describe is very likely an algae of the genus Bryopsis (or Chlorodesmis) if it is jointed/branched or Derbesia (if long, unjointed)... and these can be a real pain (as if I have to mention this to you!) to get rid of... and can grow to cover most everything in a reef system... I'm kind of surprised at your having a problem with this algae... as it generally thrives in high nutrient (you don't have much measuring... nor have a "bad" additive habit... using only a Ca reactor...).. But you do have the high light requirement... Usually I'd recommend some of the animals you've already tried... and will urge you to stock one or more members of the Sailfin Tangs... Maybe a Purple, Yellow, Scopas... Zebrasoma. And my fave next animal to try (or at the same time), a couple specimens of Mithrax/Emerald Crabs...  And this isn't the end of my "bag of tricks" for launching an all-out attack on your algae problem: Do consider putting a Caulerpa species, some live rock for it to adhere to, and an intense compact fluorescent light on a sump/refugium attached to the system... The Caulerpa will not only out-compete these other noisome algae, but produce chemicals that will eradicate it in time (weeks to months)... this is a very safe, effective route to go... as you don't want to kill these other algae and have their decomposition products poison your system....  Lastly, (for this pass at your problem), I'd actually (carefully) utilize Kalkwasser (in addn. to your reactor) to raise the pH of your water to 8.4 or so... to precipitate out more/all of the soluble phosphates... there's actually more in your system than meeting your eye/measurer... as it is being absorbed by the algae as it becomes available... sort of like the story of reefs being "nutrient poor"... they're not... instead, they are "nutrient concentrated"... the water around them appears poor because the life there aggressively takes up what's available.... Be chatting, Bob "the algae fighter" Fenner >

Hair algae hi bob: have had serious hair algae outbreak. Medium level phosphates and lighting are problems. Water quality too. Have addressed water and lights. Have high level skimmer and plenty live rock and sand. Question is: does it make sense to add a filter in which UltraLife phosphate remover is the medium (e.g. Fluval MSF) or will this simply cause the removed phosphate to leach back into the system as some have suggested? Help? Please respond to xxxx. Many thanks! < To me the proposed addition of the designated phosphate remover to its own outside power filter only makes partial or somewhat sense. The phosphate that is in the system will be absorbed, recycled to a smaller and smaller extent, and over time precipitated out as insoluble material... And you will be adding more... not through your tapwater as you state, but in foodstuffs... and this matter is an essential nutrient, not only of algae, but corals, fishes...  Instead, I would "strike a balance" in your case, with algae eating animals (red legged hermits, Mithrax crab, Salarias Blenny, Zebrasoma & Ctenochaetus Tangs... and look into adding some nutrient competitors like fast growing macro-algae... the use of chemical filtrants is not as straight forward and "neat" as folks think it might be... it seems you know this. I do too. Bob Fenner>

Green Water I had e-mailed you a few weeks ago and in a panic of losing my fish and didn't give you details of my tank and my dilemma. I lost my bicolor angel and have sent my other two fish to a friend's tank until I can fix my water problem. My tank is a 47 gallon, fish only tank with a wet/dry system that uses bio balls and a sump under my main tank. The system has worked properly for about 4 months (meaning I had no water problems and nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, and ph levels were all adequate). About one month ago my water turned green. I checked the four tests that I mentioned previously and all were in the appropriate ranges. I waited for about two weeks to see if it would clear up on its own. That is when I lost the angel and sent my other fish on their little, hopefully short, vacation. I have since done a complete water change because the water was so bad (murky and green). When I refilled the tank I used approximately half "new" water and half cycled water from my friend's tank. The tank was running for about two weeks with no notable problems. All of the water tests were again in the appropriate ranges. I came home from work tonight and I stood in front of a green water tank again. There are no fish in the tank now but, again, seemingly overnight my water is murky and green. I really am puzzled and could use any advice. I have been a freshwater aquarist for about 17 years and have had a salt tank for about eight years and I have never faced this sort of problem before. It's not easy being green. Thanks for your help. Brady < Wow... somewhere, some ready source of nutrient has gotten, is getting into your system... and there isn't enough of anything else to compete with it...  A few approaches could be tried... chemical filtration, maybe a Polyfilter to remove some/most of the nutrient, and a diatom filter (brand name or no) to remove the single celled algae and the nutrients bound up in them... Shading the tank... Encouraging a collapse by over-stimulating the mix of algae... but none of these techniques appeal to me: too messy, and unstable... Instead, I would place as much live rock as you like/can afford and consider any/all of the "other" possibilities... but the Live Rock will re-set the system... and exclude much chance of a recurrence of your "free living" algae bloom problems... Get/use live rock for your system... even though it is "Fish Only". Bob Fenner> 

More Baloney, make that Valonia Thanks for your wonderful book and the Q&A. Both very helpful. I have a 70 gal reef/community tank with 90 lbs of Fiji live rock which is about 3 months old. I have noticed several small iridescent, gun-metal gray "bubbles" which formed on one rock. When I first noticed them they were about the size of a ball bearing, but are now about the size of a marble. They look almost like jellyfish. What are they? Should I be concerned about them, remove them? Thanks. < Thank you for writing. The bubble like objects you're seeing are likely Valonia, aka bubble or pearl algae, a multi-cellular aggregation of one of a few species of Green Algae. They are not a problem per se, unless they become very numerous. There are some crabs, and occasionally a fish that will eat them. For small numbers of little colonies, I'd try vacuuming them away (like with a small siphon) and not worry. Bob Fenner >

Question: I know there's a good number of people who suffer from Bryopsis (wiry, dark green hair algae) plagues, including myself. I've heard they usually crash over time, but I've yet to see it happen in real life. Any cures (biological or otherwise) you can suggest would be greatly appreciated. I'd soon pull out my own hair then my Bryopsis again!

Bob's Answer: Leonard, I still am pumping for the Tang genus Ctenochaetus to munch this algal genus control-wise. Look into the couple of species generally offered for sale out of Hawai'i: C. strigosus (the Kole or Yellow-eye) or C. hawaiiensis (the Chevy)...

Valonia, Valonia, Valonia, oh, oh, oh... repeat I have a 70 gal reef/community tank with 90 lbs of Fiji live rock which is about 3 months old. I have noticed several small iridescent, gun-metal gray "bubbles" which formed on one rock. When I first noticed them they were about the size of a ball bearing, but are now about the size of a marble. They look almost like jellyfish. What are they? Should I be concerned about them, remove them? Thanks. < Thank you for writing. The bubble like objects you're seeing are likely Valonia, aka bubble or pearl algae, a multi-cellular aggregation of one of a few species of Green Algae. They are not a problem per se, unless they become very numerous. There are some crabs, and occasionally a fish that will eat them. For small numbers of little colonies, I'd try vacuuming them away (like with a small siphon) and not worry. Bob Fenner>

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