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FAQs on Marine Aquarium Maintenance 2

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Related FAQs: Marine Aquarium Maintenance 1, Maint. FAQs 3Maint. FAQs 4Maint. FAQs 5Maint. FAQs 6Maint. FAQs 7Maint. FAQs 8, Maint. FAQs 9, Maint. FAQs 10, Maint FAQs 11, Maint. FAQs 12, Maint. FAQs 13, Maint. 14, Reef Maintenance 1

Microbubbles, too much light, hair algae, high KH, low Calcium -is this all related?? Dear WWM crew First I want to thank you for the dedication and willingness to help fellow aquarists, I've been enjoying and learning through this website and the books you write/reference for the last couple years, helping me enjoy and learn through this aquarium experience, your efforts are greatly appreciated. <Welcome> I have a FOWLR tank that has been up for 2 years and now starting to migrate to a reef setup (i.e. adding Light, Calcium, Corals and Clams!). <Neat> Tank Size 75Gallon 3" aragonite substrate 120 lb of LR Filter: Eheim 2215 Canister - cleaned and replaced pads today (including Active Carbon) Calcium: Knop S-IV reactor (Knop coarse media). 1 CO2 bubble every 4 seconds and 2 drops of affluent into the main tank every 3 seconds. Affluent: PH 7.1 / KH 26 (I'll increase the CO2 to 3 bubbles per second to lower the PH to 6.5 - 6.8) <Try this and see/ascertain if there is a positive change in your ultimate/system water quality> Skimmer: Tunze 3115 generating 1 cup of  semi-dark skimmate per week Top off water -> auto top off Tunze Osmolator:  1gallon a day: aerated tap water: Ammonia 1.5, <... trouble... I hope/trust you are not drinking this.> Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, PH 8.5, KH 3, Phosphate 0.2 mg/l (I'll start treating this top off water for the ammonia) Water Change -> ~10% (8 gallons) water change every two weeks: tap water aerates for 24 hrs before adding salt - and another 24 hrs aeration before using in main tank. Same parameters as top-off water but with salinity at 1.023 Lighting: for the last two years it only had a couple of 34w NO tubes. A month ago I replaced them with a 2 x175 W MH (on for 5hrs/day) + 2 96W PC Actinics (on for 12 hrs/day) retrofit. The MH are on6" from the water surface No sump or refugium - no place to put one.... Maybe in the future a "hanging in the back" version Water Movement: 3 Powerheads AquaClear 70 (aka 802) facing each other (all pointing to the center of the tank) Tank parameters Temp 78 - 82 Sal 1.022 PH 8.3 (lights off) - 8.5 (lights on) KH 17 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 10 Calcium 300  mg/l Phosphates 1 mg/l <Too high... should be negligible> Tank inhabitants: 1 Nigger Trigger 6" 2 False Percula 3" and 4" 3 Green Chromis 3" 1 Coral Beauty 5" 1 Torch Coral (arrived a month ago in the tank and is doing great) Feeding: dry food (New Life Spectrum) in the morning (auto feeder) and 1 marine cuisine or Formula 2 cube in the afternoon. I used to put both cubes together in the afternoon, but when the hair algae appeared I cut it down to only one cube When I first put the MH and PC's, two things happened that I am still fighting, and not sure they are related: 1)      A ton of micro bubbles invaded the tank, they just appear 2 hours after the MH are turned on, they float from both substrate and LR. If I cut the powerheads, these bubbles raise from every surface/substrate/LR and pop on the top. They are all gone 2 hours after the MH lights go off, and the tank is clear of micro bubbles until the next day when the MH lights come on again. Photosynthesis! <Is the light... phosphate...> 2)      I did not keep up with the top off water for the first week of the MH installation, so the skimmer did not have a constant water level and a bloom of hair algae took over the tank (live rock and substrate). I ended up buying the Osmolator auto top-off !...all good learning experiences How to get rid of the micro bubbles?. If I can reduce the hair algae, would that cut the micro bubbles as well?, or should I try to lower the time of the MH down to 2 hrs (as the bubbles appear after 2 hrs of MH light), or should I try to cover the top with some cradle/mosquito net to reduce the amount of light (I can't put the lights any higher)...or both? I am planning to host both LPS and SPS corals (Brain, Porites, Hammer, leather, etc)  and a Maxima Clam (in addition to the torch that I already have), would these survive in anything below 6 hrs of MH light?, Should I get them so they compete for nutrients against the hair algae?, or should I wait, fight this and then get the new inhabitants? <... I would try precipitating the phosphate with Kalkwasser addition, boosted pH temporarily, look into ways to provide better source water, grade the MH lighting in... run it fewer hours for now, increasing a few minutes daily...> The source of the Phosphates (which are the only ones that seem to be feeding the hair algae) I think was the Eheim filter as I had not changed the Carbon pad for 3 months, in addition to the frozen food. <And your tapwater> I now plan to do constant replacement of the carbon pad in the Eheim filter on a monthly basis.. I'll also turn this Eheim into a "just" mechanical filter in the next "scheduled cleanup" <Good... needs to be serviced at most every week...> Does the high KH / PH and low Calcium have anything to do with these micro bubbles?, <Mmm, yes... in that they are both driven by the same sets of circumstances/conditions... the boosted light regime, presence of useful fertilizer> or would those levels be more "in range" if I increase my water changes to 10% per week? <Perhaps... worth trying> Many thanks for the help you can provide <Many other possibilities... the best, most satisfying in the long-term will be cutting in, adding a living sump, refugium... Bob Fenner>

Problems from barometric pressure or scraping coralline? OK I have had no real problems with my tank after 6 months of set up. I have an unusual mandarin that eats flake, brine, and "critters" from refugium. I actually bought him 6 months ago when I first got the tank, and he has lasted this long (I had not found you guys before I bought him). He went through a "skinny" phase about 2 months ago, but then took to prepared foods and has since regained his weight. I know this in not normal, and I have been lucky. anyway my question is 3 days ago we had a pretty fierce thunderstorm hit this area, that is not normal weather for central California. When it hit, My Xenia, Anemone, and mushrooms all shriveled up for about 36 hours. But my star polyps, and Pipe organs seemed un phased. I lost a pipe fish that I keep in my refugium, (which is my first lost fish in 6 months), my clowns seemed un affected, but my mandarin sat still for over 48 hours not moving, and covered in a white film that made him almost look dead. If his eyes were not moving I would have thought him to be so. The storm only lasted about 6 hours. I have read that Barometric changes can effect animals, especially marine inverts. Is this what happened? I tested my water and all were way within norms. I did a 30% water change just to be sure after 24 hours of everything not looking well. but now except for the pipefish all is well again. I can not for the life of me figure out what went wrong. The only out of the normal thing I did was to scrape the front of my refugium tank of some coralline algae at the same time the storm hit, it was fairly thick, but would this be a culprit as well? when I scraped it the refugium was attached to the display. I think I have described this correctly, any insight would be appreciated. Thanks Aaron <Aaron, it *may* have been barometric pressure, but surely more likely an effect of scraping coralline and introducing material into the water....perhaps altering pH, alk, or calcium.  I would think that is more likely the cause. Try to make changes or cleaning tasks regular so there are no large changes to normal params, esp ORP/oxygen levels.  Hope this helps!  Craig>

Reflections Gentlemen: <Close enough> The right side of my brain was kicking in today, no doubt due to the various medications that I am taking for this damn cold. I had a moment to reflect on the almost three years that I have been involved with this hobby and thought that you might appreciate my words. <Okay> My wife and I bought our home almost three years ago, with a 125G bow tank built into the corner of the den. The tank is in the middle third, with the sump below and opening above. As I had absolutely no knowledge or desire to get involved with this hobby, my first thought was to rip out the tank and convert the space to a nice bookcase. However, after speaking with a few people in the field, I discovered that the equipment was quite good and decided to give it a go. <Yay!> I hired the LFS that installed the aquarium to get it up and running again. However, I still had not done any reading at all about marine fish keeping. Looking back, boy was I green! I had no idea as to how the pumps worked, filtration, pH, salinity, etc. Heck, I barely noticed that a hose had become disconnected from the pump to the UV, almost causing the UV to burn out...geesh! I bought Bob's Bible and read it from front to back. This provided me with terminology and knowledge as to what was going on so I could be somewhat conversant. <Glad I'm blushing so my greenish tint doesn't show as much> I still felt undereducated and thankfully found your website, which I visit religiously on a daily basis. The site has been a cornucopia of information for which I am eternally grateful. <Ah, good to be found useful> Yes, we have lost our share of animals during this time. However, I would like to share two incidents that have made it all worthwhile and will hopefully keep me engaged by the animals of the deep. <Go ahead> The first occurred only a few days after we introduced are first four fish. Two of the inhabitants were a porcupine puffer and a hippo tang. The tang was small and got his rear tail caught in the screen at the top of the tank before the water went through the pre-filter. I noticed this and immediately rushed to free the tang. The puffer sensed that something was amiss and, honest to God, went up to the tang, nudged him with his head, and freed the tang! I could not believe my eyes that a fish could do something like this. <This does happen> The second incident was about one year later. We had introduced two Banggai cardinals; unfortunately, finding out later that both were males as one terrorized the other to death. As we loved the potential interaction of the pair, we decided to try again. As luck would have it, we got a female. With the lights off, we introduced the new cardinal. As the current male recognized the new female, the two fish literally touched lips and kissed! My wife and I looked at each other absolutely speechless. <Lovely> I realize that there are probably hundreds of stories like ours. However, for someone who had absolutely no involvement with these animals, I have come to love them. I am sincerely upset when a fish dies, as I take it personally that my husbandry is not as it should be. I have come to learn that in most cases, it is the specimen and that this is the nature of the game. <Yes> My wife and I spend countless hours marveling at the interaction between the various species. We find it very relaxing, as well as being the conversation piece of our home. I apologize for being so long-winded, but I think that it is important to promote this hobby. I have posed many questions on your website and am always impressed with the answer as well as the promptness of the response...thank you, thank you, thank you! <You are welcome in kind, number> As Bob told me in one of his replies, there are numerous ways to do things and we are always learning from each other in this wonderful hobby. I hope to remain a part of this for a long time. <Am sure you will be. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Mitch

Painting my "Fish Room" Hi Bob! I read one FAQ regarding household renovations and protecting your tank. However, we want to actually paint the room in which the 55 gallon reef tank is. It is a small room... maybe 12X12 with two entrances leading into it and a window. Is painting possible without hurting our creatures? Can you please give me some advice? Thanks. Terra <Most modern paints (low VOC's), particularly water-based varieties are no problem. As standard and added precautions I suggest turning off all air-entraining devices (Venturis, air pumps...) during the actual painting process, and draping a damp towel over the top of the tank to limit fumes getting to the water surface... as well trying to schedule the paint work for a warm, dry day with either some natural breeze, open doors, windows, or a handy fan to flush out the "paint air". Bob Fenner>

Live Rock, Protein Skimmers, Hypo, and general setup Dear WWM Crew, <Anthony Calfo with the follow up> Steven - thanks for your recent ideas about what caused my wipe-out and how to avert it in the future. Upon searching the tank for contamination sources, I did find that my magnet wall-cleaner was leaking and allowing rusting metal (iron?) to get into the tank. I'm sure this was a contributor to lack-of-health in the tank.  <not good indeed> I'll be using water changes and PolyFilter to get rid of the contaminants. For now the tank has stabilized and a few of my fish are still alive and back to normal. <very good to hear!> I'll also be changing how I conduct quarantine tanks to Bob's typical recommendations of using main-tank water and filter media to fill the quarantine. After I've concluded a quarantine with nothing coming down the pipeline, I plan to shutdown the quarantine and bleach the equipment.  <OK...agreed. Simply keep a sponge filter running in your display sump or tank at all times for a ready, mature biological filter on demand> What isn't clear to me is how to deal with live rock. Certain invertebrates and fish will need a live rock to keep them happy, and perhaps to provide some extra biological filtration in quarantine. What is the process to safely return the live rock to my main tank? Is the process any different if the quarantined fish developed a disease while there? <with or without disease... 4 weeks without any expressed disease symptoms (as in after a disease occurred, counting from the first day the fish looked healed in that tank on) and the rock will have cleared customs <G>> Other questions...I'll be using hypo/fixer/thiosulfate as my dechlorinator. The hypo powder packaging says that once mixed the solution is only good for two months. From my photography days I know that fixer can go bad and get exhausted. For the purposes of dechlorinating water, how long can the solution be kept? <it is a good habit to mix solutions and supplements that can be used in 2 to 4 months. Over 6 months is generally to be avoided. It is all so quick to mix, please do use small, fresh portions> I have a 60 gallon tank with no sump, but about 60 pounds of live rock and a Prizm protein skimmer. This site, my lack of skim, and my algae problems tell me that the Prizm is completely inadequate.  <BINGO... kewpie doll for you!> As recommended by this site, I'm thinking of going to the Aqua Medic Turboflotor 1000 Multi. I know the Turboflotor 1000 is generally recommended, but how about the 'multi' version that can be a hang-on? <agreed about the brand... but I have no experience with the Multi. Do also consider Aqua C hang on model... very efficient and slim line> If I go to a non-hang on skimmer, can they be plumbed alone without a sump?  <most not easily except for Tunze rail mount models. Do consider a sump in the future... they are so very functional and useful!> My setup is about three months old. Please take a look at my setup and see if in general it seems sane... Inhabitants: 3 green Chromis, 1 pajama cardinal, 12 red-leg hermit crabs, 2 Mithrax crabs, 2 queen conches, 1 sand-sifting star, 1 green abalone, 1 cleaner shrimp <nice selection of peaceful livestock... and I really LOVE the abalone!!! They are great algae eaters> Substrate: 2" of sugar-sized aragonite substrate with a little Aragamax live mixed in <this will become a nutrient sink in time and fuel nasty nuisance algae. It is not deep enough to be anoxic for denitrification but too deep to be fully aerobic. I say ideally 3 inches or more (5+ for great nitrate control) or simply have 1/2 inch or less. Bob and I differ on this point for the record> 60 pounds Fiji live rock 4 55W Power Compact lights, 7200K and 10000K 2 160GPH Powerheads 1 125GPH Powerhead <you can definitely use more water flow for coral and reef invertebrates... more like 600-800 GPH turnover) Protein Skimmer - Prizm, but to be upgraded <soon! Money well spent!> Millennium 2000 hang-on power filter 2 150W Heaters of course Temperature: 79 deg F pH: 8.3 Alkalinity: 3-5 meq/L Salinity: 1.023-1.024 S.G. Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia: 0 Phosphate: 0.03 mg/L <hmmmm.... pushing high on phosphates... do test source water and discover the nature and severity of this accumulation. .04+ is an algae bloom for most folks> Calcium: 385 ppm Algae: brown micro and green hair, no macroalgae. Thanks for all the tremendously helpful information! Mark Belding <best regards, Anthony>

Help! (marine set-up, maintenance) Good evening Robert, Lorenzo, Steve et al. I have been chatting with you over the last few months and I hope this missive finds you well. <Yes my friend> Here is the latest from the tank. I am still being plagued by algae and a brown scum over everything. I am attaching some pics that may be of some use. All of my water tests come back within the parameters that they are supposed to. There seems to be nothing wrong with the fish, 2 Ocellaris clowns, 1 Scopas Tang, 1 scooter blenny, 2 Firefish, and a Banggai Cardinal. The only things that seem affected by the algae problem are the feather dusters, all of which have blown their mouths, and the anemones, 1 Condylactis and 1 long tentacled anemone, which I found chewed apart at the bottom of the tank this morning. I am presuming that the Peppermint Shrimps may have had something to do with that. As said before I am using a Seaclone Skimmer on a 100 Gallon Tank, 1 Eheim Pro and an Emperor Filter with Bio Wheel. <You would do well to look into more, better filtration> Both the anemones were fine for the last 7 months and recently since the Algae problem they have not been remaining anchored in the substrate. The LTA actually kept shrinking in size until it became a hard ball on the gravel. I am also running 4 65watt power compacts with daylight and actinic, and am wondering if I need to upgrade. I have also had a Goniopora and my Xenia. Both of which have now died. The Goniopora was a gift from someone and was doing okay for a few months until all of a sudden one day it started to be suffering from what appeared to be necrosis of the tissue and within 2 days had completely disintegrated. I still have on tiny bud left on the Xenia. But it seems to be going downhill as well. I am at a loss as to what may be wrong. <... at a loss... You could/would do well with more intense lighting, more "vigorous" filtration with the livestock listed... What is it that leaves you at a loss?>  If you can provide any assistance I would greatly appreciate it, or if I need to further explain things I would be happy to do so. I am considering taking a sample of water to the LFS and seeing if they can determine something that I am missing. <A good idea... take the sample and a description of your system to at least two people for input. Perhaps here: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/> Look forward to chatting soon <Scarce can I name salvation but fearful thunder echoes in mine ears. Actually not. Bob Fenner> Julian Hunt
Re: Help! thank you as usual for your prompt reply. I am off to scour your book for more info. Be chatting. :) <Indeed! And our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner> Julian

Cleaning decor/replacing substrate You guys are doing a stellar job as always.  <Thanks kindly!> The time has come to change the crushed coral bed in my 72gal aquarium. I keep getting hair algae and believe it is due to waste and uneaten food buildup.  <especially if deep, such course media can be a nutrient trap/sink. Indeed requiring frequent gravel siphoning and very strong water movement in the display> I was wondering if I change the bed all at once or in stages,  <stages if it is used biologically (UG/substrate filter)... else all at once is possible. Do monitor water chemistry closely either way for a week or two afterwards and be prepared to do extra water changes> and whether straining, bleaching, and rinsing it is a viable alternative to purchasing new crushed coral? I'm tight on money and every bit helps at this point. Thank you, <really not worthwhile to reuse in this application. However, if the bed is static and aesthetics only it can and should be very thin (1/2 or less).> Mark Hill <best regards, Anthony>

DSB OR Expensive Protein Skimmer Hello Bob <Hello Antoine> I have a 280gal FOWLR Tank 60x30x30 with a 11" Vlamingi Tang, 7" Red Coris Wrasse, 6" Twin Spot Wrasse, 5" Pink Tail Trigger, 16" Snowflake EEL, 12" Golden Tail EEL, and a newly acquired 18" Leopard Moray. Now what am in the process of doing is removing the Snowflake and Golden Tail EEL to a 75 gal tank. I think that I will trade my Pink Tail Trigger in at the LFS for a miniatus grouper or Formosa wrasse since he is always being harassed by the Vlamingi tang. <Okay> Now since I acquired the Leopard moray am putting a strain on my filtration system. Water parameters have moved up Ammonia .1ppm, Nitrite.2ppm and Nitrate up to 60ppm. <Yikes... I would forestall feeding till there was/is no ammonia or nitrite period> Everything was at zero except for the Nitrate being around 35ppm. Im thinking that this is probably going on because of the undersized skimmer. I ordered and now have in possession another Turboflotor 1000 that I was going to use on my new 75 gal but now am wondering if I should send it back and get a Euro-Reef CS8-2 (requires less adjustment correct) for the 280 gal or just add a 20 gal sump DSB with about 6 inches of fine sand which would be a cheaper way to control my water parameters and use the turbo-flotor on the 75 gal.  <I would get the bigger, better skimmer for your larger system for sure> My goal is control denitrification and have to do less maintenance. I thought about a refugium but this would require me to cut the Caulerpa back all the time and worry about it dying on me causing a possible disaster. <Not a huge concern> The original Turboflotor did great until I added the leopard moray and I know as he grows that he will put a greater strain on my system. I just don't know if the DSB will do as just a good of a job as the $400.00 Skimmer. <Not... you would need a couple hundred gallon DSB to "do about the same good"> Another thing is before I only had a half of cup full of dark skimmate in my collection cup per week and now its every three days so I know am pushing the skimmer to its limit. I have always done maintenance on the skimmer, weekly water changes, run activated carbon, Chemipure and every so often PolyFilter pads. There is also 200lbs of rock in the tank that I think is enough and still allow the fish to have plenty of room to swim around. <Much to consider. Bob Fenner>

Cloudy water Hi, I am having a problem with my tank. It gets cloudy then it gets clear. It is a 75 gallon tank with a Magnum 350, a Penguin 330 and a Prizm protein filter in it . I have a Naso, lion fish, Foxface 2 small damsels and a dwarf angel. The readings are as follows ph-8.4 amm-0 nitrates-.10 nitrites-0 I also am getting a lot of red algae. Your help is always very helpful thank you <many causes for cloudy water... with confidence that your problem is not a flaw in biological filtration (ammonia spikes, etc), then look for a bacterial bloom. Combined with your observation of a lot of red algae... this is a clear and conspicuous sign of nutrient control problems in your tank. Beginning with your skimmer (which has a less than favorable reputation among many aquarists), you need to be collecting a full cup of coffee dark skimmate every single day under normal operation and perhaps more in cases when nuisance algae is present. Every day that it is not collected means another day goes by with that accumulated waste staying dissolved in the system feeding algae and bacteria as you have observed. Do consider a second/better skimmer, more frequent water changes, change your carbon more often (1 -2oz per 50 gallons weekly in stead of 4-8 oz monthly). Monitor feeding closely so as not to let food hit the bottom at feeding time before fishes consume it. Remember... focus on nutrient control and export and you'll be fine. In many cases... getting your skimmer to work daily alone can cure such symptoms within a couple of weeks. Improve water circulation in the tank too. Kindly, Anthony>

Golden Brown Buildup in Sumps? Robert, <Steven Pro here today.> I have just recently set up a new salt water fish only tank and it's been up and running for about 6 weeks now. I have only 1 blue velvet damsel and 2 small green Chromis in the tank and I am about 3 weeks past the cycled stage. Just recently I have been getting this mysterious thick 'golden brown' build-up in my sump area. Mostly in the filter pads and in the skimmer. The pads turn orange to golden brown in color every time I replace them. In the skimmer this substance builds up quickly and appears to be 'mud like' when scraped out with my finger. I don't know why I am getting so much all this stuff of the sudden. Would you happen to know what it is? <The filter pads sound to be trapping detritus and the skimmer is collecting skimmate (a mixture of various dissolved organics). All good as long as you change and/or rinse the filter pads often and are still collecting stuff in your skimmer cup. It is easier to dump a cup than to wash scum out of the skimmer neck.> In my past setups I never experienced this, I usually get just green hair algae or red algae blooms if the lights were on too long. Please help. Thanks. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Brain not Functioning (identifying small life) >I have been keeping deep water LPS corals for the past year. I >recently purchased a green open brain. During the past week he >is opening less and less. Also I have yet to see his sweeper >tentacles. What do they look like? (like a Bubble Coral) ><Yes, very similar.> >System specs. >Temp 78 >no trace ammonia, nitrite or nitrate >Calcium 420 >200 watts Smartlight >55 gal tank, 20 gal sump, 10 gal Refugium >ph 8.4 @ mid-day >using Poly-Filter for the past few days to a week ><All looks good. Do be sure to feed this coral. Frozen mysis shrimp, >plankton, or Seawater Zooplankton would all be appropriate. About three >times per week.> >Thanks, Jeremy >p.s. do green brittle stars eat amphipods? ><I would think they would be a little small for this predatory starfish. >-Steven Pro> Thanks for your fast response. I didn't know that open brains take so long to open up. Mine took about an hour. Thanks for the Info. One quick Question, I'm getting a yellowish rust colored algae(?) on my CC. I know what diatoms look like but this is more yellow than brown. Seems to just form a film on the CC. Any idea's/help would be great. RO/DI H2O 10% changed weekly. Thanks <Might be a type of algae... Blue-green or other... or many other possibilities. A look through a microscope at a sample and a general invertebrate zoology, protozoology text... Bob Fenner>

Hello! (marine system operation) Hello there! Our names are Sheryl and Jay and we have a 55 gallon saltwater tank. There are 2 tangs one yellow and one pacific blue, 2 tank raised orange clowns, a boxfish, a ghost eel, and a porcupine puffer that is 3inches. We just added the eel, boxfish, and puffer into this tank that has been up and running for about a year. Are salt ratio is 2.0 <Ratio? Is this a statement re specific gravity?> and it tests perfect. Now what we need to know is should we put live rock in there? Is it necessary?  <Mmm, a good idea. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm> Also what specific kinds of food should we feed the puffer? <All sorts of meaty foods are worthwhile. Please read over WetWebMedia.com re Puffers and their husbandry> The tangs and clowns have been fed frozen brine and some green marine algae. We have read on your site all kinds of stuff (so Glad we found it, through dog pile), and see that there are many different things to feed them. We would like to know the best kind of mixture for our new friends and our old ones. <Ah, the best are really what your particular individuals favor. Do offer variety though. Bob Fenner> Thanks so much Sheryl and Jay

Marine System Operation Good morning Bob, Hope all is well. <Anthony Calfo in your service> Not sure if all these things are related, but here goes. Wrote to you last week about gray areas appearing on my LR, LFS tested for me and found my alkalinity very low don't remember what their reading was) bought a test kit, SeaBuffer pH & alkalinity buffer and a RIO800 power head. Tested with the new test kit and found my alkalinity at 2.5 meq/L, buffered water change and got 4meq/L.  <now you are talking> Within two days noticed the Coralline algae growing in the gray spots and the overall color brightened. <excellent> My Remora Pro stopped skimming around the time of the water change, checked your site and found responses from Jason (Aqua C) that when the skimmer is new that it would act erratic for the first few weeks and if the bio load was light it could stop skimming temporarily (I feed very carefully) so I was not overly concerned. <yes...sometimes, but not for long> Left my house yesterday thinking the tank couldn't look any better, was gone 3-4 hours and came home to a large brown diatom bloom on the glass and a very strong odor coming from the skimmer (fish market smell) and the skimmer was skimming again. Cleaned glass and took readings, all readings were good except calcium 300mg/l and the alkalinity was down to 3meq/l.  <hmmm... could have been too much or too fast buffer precipitating calcium a bit> Added 20 ml of Sera calcium and the odor was much less,  <likely unrelated> skimmer stopped working again. Took calcium readings again this morning and they were at 280  <Yowzah!> (this is a new SeaTest test kit bought yesterday was using a Sera test kit previously) and two white spots have appeared on the LR. Now this is the part I'm not sure is related, I found a large amount of clear slime on the glass and I thought my Condylactis Anemone was dead, it was shriveled down to a very tiny bulb with no tentacles showing. After the light was turned on it emerged fully and looks great.  <normal from respiration, digestion, stress, many factors> As I was writing this I looked over and noticed 7-8 white spots on the back of the tank, tried but could not scrape of easily. I tried to find calcium problems on your site before I wrote this but could not find anything that matched and also couldn't open a number of pages I thought might be related. <hmmm... do consider calcium hydroxide as the best/primary calcium supplement short of a calcium reactor. Kalkwasser at night, SeaBuffer by day (never mix that up... affects pH... a good combination. Two part calcium supplements could replace these too if you are willing to spend more for the convenience (B-Ionic/Sea Balance). If a skewed dynamic is suspected, first do several large water changes to get back to balance and then resume calcium and buffer dosing> Sorry for the length of the note and thanks in advance for any help you can provide. Below is my system info. Thanks Marty Finn <very cool last name my friend! Anthony> I have a 55g marine setup 3mos old, 35#s of cured Live Rock, Fluval 404, (cleaned 2 times a week with aged water added each cleaning), RIO800 powerhead, Remora Pro(11days old), 5g water change weekly aged water min 2 days). 7-8 Red Leg and Blue Leg crabs, 1 hard shell crab not sure of the name), seven snails, 1 Blue Headed Wrasse, 1 Banggai Cardinal, 1 Green Chromis, 1 Condylactis Anemone.

your book (CMA) Hello Bob, I ordered your book last Thursday, and got it on the following Saturday, that is the best turn around time I have ever experienced. I love the book, I am about half way through it.  <Ah, good> Currently I have a 29 gal marine tank, with about 30lbs of live rock, and an xp1 canister filter (250gph) and a power head to circulate the tank. The tank is a little small and I think I may move it to my 55.  <I strongly suspect you are right> I have 3 damsels, a cleaner wrasse, 5 blue hermit crabs, and a peppermint shrimp. My tank is in bad shape (low ph, high salinity, ich, and a red algae problem), but with the help of your book (and website) and my local fish shop, we are on our way back up to a healthy tank. Just wanted to say thanks. <Delightful. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner> Best Regards, Gage Harford

Got Wood? Gentlemen: My 125G saltwater tank occupies a corner of our den. The tank is encased by maple wood that has lost its luster due to the contact with saltwater. Can you recommend a product that will improve the look of the wood without presenting any caustic problems for the fish? <Yes, my fave: Lemon Oil... really works well, and smells great> The local hardware store had a wood stain and a color stick; however, both products appeared to have toxic properties. Thanks, Mitch <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Mysterious Missing in Action Hi, I really enjoy reading your q's and a's. They have helped me tremendously and aided me in avoiding some major pitfalls.  <do continue to use and refer the use of WWM to others> That said, I have a few questions. I have a 45gallon reef tank that has been set up for about three months. Filtration is an Amiracle PS/Wet dry (bioballs removed with Caulerpa and 24/7 light instead) and an Emperor power filter (BioWheel removed) Lighting is a 65 watt smart light PC which I recently changed the bulb on and an actinic florescent. Two powerheads circulate the water. I add all the regular additives plus Tech CB for calcium, phytoplankton, and a vitamin formula. Fish are a coral beauty, a green Chromis, and three damsels. Corals are yellow polyps, and frags of gorgonian, cult coral, mushroom, and pulsing xenia. All seem to be doing fine, I have not lost a single fish or coral since I set up except two Chromis that were eaten by a crab which has now been removed. My nitrates are about a steady ten and do not waver despite skimming and 10% weekly water changes with RO water, which is virtually phosphate free. In the tank, the phosphates are existent but low and I continue to run phosphate sponges. I feed O.S.I. and Wardley flake food (reputable and phosphate free?????) My hair algae is rather out of control <surprising with weekly water changes if the skimmer is also producing several ounces of skimmate daily...else tweak the skimmer> so I added an army of Emerald crabs, scarlet reef hermits, an urchin and two cleaner shrimp. Here is my problem: About two days after I put in the pair of cleaner shrimp, one disappeared. He is has been missing in action for four days now. The other shrimp seems fine and appears to be cleaning off the fish as they swim by (so cool). Also, today I found a dead emerald crab being eaten by a hermit. I have no evidence that the hermit killed the crab, but I am suspicious. The hermit is medium sized, with brown pincers and red tentacles. Also, my urchin climbed to the top of the tank (just barely in the water), where he has remained for the last three days. I am wondering:  a) Why did my shrimp disappear without a trace, and why did my emerald crab die?  b) Why is my hair algae so out of control and how can I keep my tank from being overrun?  <all above could be explained by a nutritive component in excess (like magnesium through source water or additives)> c) Could this hermit crab (I put him in a separation tank) have eaten my shrimp and scared the urchin to the top of the tank or is this normal urchin behavior and just a coincidence?  <probably scavenged the dead/dying shrimp indefinitely had nothing to do with the urchin> (I made a trap to see if there are any huge bristleworms or other predatory crabs and only caught one of my emerald crabs.) Thanking advance for your time and your help. I am very worried about my other shrimp especially. He is so friendly he even cleans my arm when I clean the tank  J <do consider liberal use of Poly filters in the next six weeks to see if the problem isn't a matter of toxicity (as it sounds like). Else the symptoms I'm afraid are not so specific as to reveal a definable problem. Do let us know how it works out. Kindly, Anthony>

Removing a Fish from a Tank Full of Rocks Anthony, so far so good with the clown; just got your message and will get some medicated food. I'd love to learn some tricks for catching fish in reef full of live rock....Watson awaiting tips from Sherlock! from Steven: <The easiest method is to lure the fish to the top with food and then move quickly to net them out. You can even literally go fishing with a small barbless hook (only recommended for the truly brave fish geeks). -Steven Pro> from Anthony: <one of my favorite tricks is to take a tiny bag full of live brine shrimp (sealed and packed full) and throw it into the back of a large, clear submerged bag in the reef. The big bag should lean against the rockscape with a folded collar to the mouth of the bag. A noose of clear fishing line is not a bad idea either. Then squirt a little bit of additional live brine into the open mouth of the bag. Within minutes fish will come to prey on the "sea monkeys" and see the mother load packed into the back of the bag. At this point, every single fish in the tank except the one you want to catch will congregate in the back of the bag...hehe. I also don't mind using a tiny barbless trout hook. It is less stress most of the time than chasing down a fish relentlessly with a net. A hook is fast and to the point. I have caught a chevron tang and harlequin Tuskfish among many others this way. The two named fish are alive and strong two years after then event. Anthony>

Help! My Tank Has Turned Into A Sewer! Anthony, Steven, <Steven tonight> Wanted to thank you for your help in the past. I'm in desperate need of more!! Here's where I am. I've got a 80 gallon aquarium which is not reef ready (no overflow). I have no sump, and though I'm trying to figure out how to fit one, I'm not hopeful. <A sump is not definitely needed, but is very useful in hiding things and being able to incorporate more devices.> I was having a difficult time with my corals and the red slime algae was taking over. The first thing I did to help the corals was to get metal halide lights. I now have two 175 watt 10,000K German bulbs on the tank. Though I believe this helped, it didn't help much. <A nice lighting system none the less.> I then turned my attention to the skimmer. I had a Remora on the tank which was left over from my 30 gallon tank. It was supposed to be good for up to 75 gallons, so I had thought it might do the job. After inquiring with you, I decided to upgrade, so I got the Remora Pro with the Mag 3 pump. I put it on a little over a week ago and it has been giving me substantial skimmate daily. At the same time, I added a third maxi jet 1200 for circulation. I was going to keep both Remora's going, so I took off a Penguin 330 power filter I had there which was mostly used for diluting my additives, but did provide some mechanical filtration. Once the Remora Pro started working, the Remora stopped providing any skimmate. I assume it just couldn't compete. So I have now taken the Remora off. Yet the slime remained and I searched further. I read in one of the your FAQ area's that I should be vacuuming the aragonite bed. <This really depends on your individual situation/circumstances.> Well, I thought I had read, or was told, somewhere that you shouldn't do this, so in the last 7 months it had never been vacuumed, though I have been doing 10% water changes (using RO water) and 'turkey basting' the rocks every two weeks. I don't have much of a sand bed. <There are several schools of thought. I prefer to use a 4"+ bed of very fine aragonite sand. Others like to use a thin layer just to house some critters, but not to provide denitrification. Either will work and has their pluses and minuses. My strong opinion is to never use anything with too large a grain size, as it allows detritus to settle between the grains of sand.> A the suggestion of my LFS, I had not placed any aragonite under the area's where the rocks are, though some eventually drifted back. <That was inevitable.> In the front, I placed only a 1/2 inch bed. The LFS had told me that having any more of a bed was a sure way to harbor an abundance of unwanted detritus and organic material. <Only if large grain size. I can point to many successful tanks with DSB's.> So when I did my next water change, I vacuumed the bottom. What a mess!! I got a bucket of brown. So I decided to do anther 10% change a couple of days later. Again, what a mess. A couple of days later I did a third and I again got a bucket of brown. The next day I decided to do another water change but this time I first took one of my power heads and directed it under and behind the live rock. This time, instead of a brown bucket, I had a brown aquarium! I did a 15% water change. <I would not be afraid to do some larger changes. I have successfully done 100% changes in some drastic situations. I am not recommending you do this, but 30% would do no harm.> At this point I am so frustrated that I'm ready to pitch the whole thing and start over. Well not really, but it is a measure of my frustration. <It can be a frustrating hobby sometimes.> Even with this mess, the fish seem to be going great. In the tank are two Perculas, a Purple Tang and a fire fish. They look good and are eating well. A finger leather I had, that I had thought was a goner, is coming back strong. My bubble coral is still in ICU. My green brain coral started coming back, but has halted it's recovery. In addition to these I have a Big Black Crab that I am still trying to capture, an urchin that has grown from postage stamp size to Godzilla size, about a dozen assorted hermits and some snails. There is an anemone in the tank that I purchased through the net. I had ordered a Sebae. I may have something else. It has rather long off-white tentacles with purple at the ends. Whatever it truly is, it has doubled in size over the last four months!! In thinking back, there was substantial suspended material in the tank after I vacuumed it. However, since I have no sump and I took off the power filter, I have no mechanical filtration. Thus I am contemplating purchasing a new power filter. <Why not mount the Penguin where the regular Remora was?> To keep from having another item hanging there, I am thinking about maybe going with a Fluval 440 canister filter. The other reason I'm thinking of one is so that I can begin using Chemi-Pure. The only place I have to put it now is in the overflow I purchased with the Remora Pro, but I have my doubts of how effective it is there. Your thoughts and alternatives? <I would use whatever you have before buying something else. Chemipure is great. You may want to try Polyfilter, too.> My other thought if I ever get my present mess straightened out is to add more aragonite to the bed. I would of course prefer not to empty everything from the tank to do this. Would this be a good move? <Like I said above, I like DSB, but is going to be hard/tedious to do without removing everything. You will have to scoop the sand with a cup, slowly lower into water, and then gently dump into tank, to try and not cloud ridiculously.> I continue to add Seachem products per directions as follows: Reef Plus, Reef Iodide, Reef Builder, Reef Buffer, and Reef Calcium. I recently switched from Red Sea test kits (color test which I hate) to SeaChem (titration - more work but I think more accurate). At that time I discovered my PH was low (about 8.0) so I only recently stared using the Reef Buffer. <Try stopping the use of the Reef Plus and Reef Calcium and use Kalkwasser or a two-part additive for calcium. The Cyano maybe fed by the sugar in the Reef Calcium. I think Reef Plus is iodine, vitamins, and other stuff that you may not need and may be adding to your troubles.> Help!!!! As always, your assistance is very much appreciated. <See all the above notes, but most importantly check to see if your RO is running efficiently, you are feeding properly, and increase the amount of water changed.> P.S. - It's scary, about three months ago I thought I was beginning to know what I was doing. How the mighty have fallen!!!! <Do not feel bad or get discouraged. We all need to continue learning. I learn something new just about everyday. -Steven Pro>

Help! My Tank Has Turned Into A Sewer! II Thank you for the very prompt response. <You are welcome.> A couple of things to clarify. I am considering a new power filter as when I took off the Penguin 330, I decided it had seen to much combat for me to comfortably rely on it any time in the future. Thus I am considering the canister filter. Either the Fluval or the Eheim. <Of the two, I would go with the Eheim. I am a big fan of Hagen and used to like the Fluvals a lot, but I do not like the new 4-series models. Many improvements, like the quick release hoses, but I dislike the foam inserts catching all the water first.> Then again, simply going with a hang on power filter would be so much cheaper. I'm concerned though whether any of them could handle a 10 oz chem-pure bag? <You can fit one in, but hard to force the water actually through it. More of a passive mode of chemical filtration when jammed in the Penguin or a Whisper.> Your thoughts and recommendations? <For the short-term, I would still throw the Penguin on and see if that helps with the Cyano. Consider a canister filter in your long-term plan.> The RO water that I use comes from a retail water source. One of those water machines that are at local supermarkets. This is called Glacier Water. It was recommended to me by one of the members of the local aquarium club. It states that the water goes through RO, micron filter, UV, etc.. It costs 25 cents a gallon, as opposed to the 75 cents a gallon at the LFS. Considering buying an RO unit, but with the expense of the halides, the new Remora Pro, and possibly a new power filter, it is not economically feasible at this time. <I understand completely. I think you could get a 35 GPD RO unit from Spectrapure for less than $250 including delivery. At $0.25 per gallon and assuming 10 gallons per week for changes and top-off, it would take about two years for you to get ahead. This is not including cost of prefilters (~$40 every six months), tapwater, sewage, etc. Another item to consider in your long-term plan, but in this case, your water costs seem reasonable.> Thanks again! <It is a pleasure. -Steven Pro>

New Setup Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob sits catatonic trying to find a happy place after a bizarre golf course accident with an amorous, stray Red Kangaroo while on holiday in Australia> I will be setting up a new 200 gallon 'fish only' salt water aquarium. I plan to keep a few tangs, a lrg. maroon clown, a Queen angel and a few Chromis. Previously I had a 72 Gallon tank with lots of live rock, both in the tank and in the sump, and usually about 5 medium sized fish.  <sounds quite nice> Over the course of 9 months I experienced many problems with the health of the fish, mostly ich, and suffered many losses from it. I tried everything, UV sterilizers, Protein skimmers, Reverse Osmosis Units, ich treatments, (M. green) and many water changes but ick would always come back even after many treatments.  <too bad we didn't speak earlier... you could have saved money, time and lives with an inexpensive quarantine tank that all new fish are run through and treated/screened for one full month before making it to the display> Aside from temperature fluctuations, (which I suspect may have been my biggest problem)  <with all due respect my friend... I agree: temperature fluctuations are an extraordinary catalyst for Ich. Why not better heaters or a chiller rather than all of the other money spent to treat the symptoms?> I was told that I should not use live rock in this new system since it is fish only system. Live rock can introduce many types of pathogens (which even lie dormant for a while in transport) and increase the risk in fish getting diseases.  <that is a gross misstatement and almost entirely fiction. Live rock is used by many merchants in fish holding systems to actually consume parasites with the microfauna of the live rock. Live rock is an incredible attribute to any marine system> It is also very difficult to treat the tank... cant use the more effective treatments like copper.  <true... but you shouldn't treat a display without live rock either... any calcareous media (sand, gravel, rocks, coral skeletons) will suck up copper like a hypoglycemic child in a candy store. All medication is to be done in a hospital tank which should rarely be necessary if the fishes are properly screened with a one month quarantine before entering the tank on arrival> I was using a lot of live rock for the filtration since I thought it was the best form of filter media, (better that Bioball media) .  <totally agreed!> If not live rock, can I at least use live sand? Does live sand carry pathogens?  <same story as live rock... also very good but better at denitrification (nitrate reduction)> I was also told to upgrade to a much larger system where fish can better adjust to any environmental change, (ph, salinity, temperature). <sounds like a good piece of advice> Before I set up this new system I would like your real honest advise. I really love the hobby and I really want to succeed in it but I am very afraid of experiencing these same problems again as so many others do too. In the past, I have received lots of bad advise from too many inexperienced people which meant lots of frustration and lots of lost money. Do you have any tips for me before setting up this new system? What are the 'most important' things to consider in order to avoid fish disease?  <if one person had mentioned that one little thing: Quarantine tank to you long ago, your history in aquariology would have had a much better start. It is the single best thing that you can do to prevent contagious disease> For example, I was told to do 10 gallon water change once every 2 weeks then was told by someone else to do 20% once a month, <depends on the bio-load, but both are light. I'd do more> then I was told by another to NOT do so many water changes since it is a major change in the water chemistry... only once every 6 months <that has to be advice from the same turnip that told you live rock is pathogenic...heheh. That is bad advice, dude!> if you can keep the nitrates down with the use of a good protein skimmer.  <I strongly advise the use of a skimmer or two on a tank as big as yours> If maintaining excellent water quality is really the key to success, what is the best advise you can give me?  <Quarantine and water changes: Dilution is the solution to pollution> Thanks. <very welcome... Anthony>

Newer Tank Questions Good morning to the crew at WWM, Well, my tank has finally cycled, all tests are at proper levels and the LFS checked them for me and concurred. It was an exhilarating day. So now to get a few at a time things. Again a 75 gallon tank with newly but all cycled live rock about 75 pounds, lighting sufficient for most critters. (ice cap with 2 actinic white and 1 super actinic) protein skimmer, charcoal filter on sump and soon. We hope a refugium. Oh yeah, we're hooked! 1 clown 1 yellow tailed damsel 1 anemone (he is growing!) 1 flame scallop (he makes me nervous but seems ok) <Can be kept alive with a dedicated feeding regimen.> clean up crew lots of stuff on the rocks that I don't know and a couple of crabs that I guess I have to get ride of in order to be on the safe side. <Yes, likely.> so....my questions.... Are green Chromis hard to keep? <They can be delicate, but definitely not impossible.> I had some in the fish only tank and one by one they died of unknown causes...my LFS also had a bit of a hard time with them....Should I be sure to get tank raised ones? <Unfortunately, I do not believe that there are any.> I really want one schooling fish and if you have a better suggestion I'd love it....something small that I can have 4 or 5 of. <Chromis are your best bet.> Is 75 gallons too small to keep more than 1 yellow tang in? <Yes> I saw 3 together in a pet store and they looked great and schooled together.....I know that 1 is usually best but I sort of hate this one of a kind routine...have you an idea about a variety of tang that perhaps could exist in pairs...or dare I ask threes? <Pairs are real bad, three or more is best, but in a large tank, 150 or more.> I put a 6 line wrasse on hold at the LFS and will bring him home when I get the isolation tank set up (isolation tank....refugium.....now somewhere to keep the crabs that I have grown fond of.....) <Quarantine is a fabulous investment for you and your livestock.> The wrasse is the only fish that I have committed to. I think I will hold out on a tang until I get some advise from you guys...this tank has to accommodate myself who loves the fishes and my husband who is more into the invertebrates....we will go slowly. <Good to hear.> I know that order of introduction of fishes is important so if you have advise about the wrasse coming first......and I read in Bob's book that some of these Wrasses eat invertebrates....is the 6 line wrasse a safe bet? <Six-Lines are great for reef tanks.> And finally...we own 2 greenhouses ( if you want to visit in cyberspace we are at www.blackrockfarm.net )and we are kind of interested in the whole phytoplankton thing, maybe growing some for our own use and some friends...any good sources of info that you think is the most valid? <Check out the links page for Florida Aqua Farms.> Actually anything that you can grow, we're interested in so...keeping in mind that we're in Maine and shipping the phytoplankton over night is a pain in the pocketbook here in summer and we don't seem to have a lot around.....I have to go to New Hampshire to get it or get it shipped) <You maybe getting some questions on greenhouses from me now.> So that's it for today...Hope that you all have a good day....We woke up to 4 inches of March snow this AM....pretty but enough.......Maine spring......Thank you...Helene <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Ugly Sand! Hello guys! Please tell me what to do about my ugly sand in my reef tank. It's always full of brown and green algae, you know, the type that blows in the current.  <easy to control by aggressive protein skimming (daily dark product) and more careful nutrient control (no overfeeding, stocking), etc> I stir it up only to have it return hours later.  <this tends to STIMULATE more algae growth. Siphon it out or starve it out (skimming)> Cutting back the lights helps a bit,  <that only treats the symptom and not the problem... you need better control of nutrient export processes> but I thinks it's not a very good solution.  <you are wise/intuitive> I was at www.garf.org and they have a 'product' called, "Reef Janitors". You can purchase a few hundred 'crawly things' to add to your soil to supposedly make the overall environment a better one. This makes perfect sense to me, but I am a beginner into this reef hobby. My tank is 55g. with 60lbs LR and 3 inched of sand. It's been up for 8 months. Thank you!!! Pam <Pam, better water movement (to keep detritus in suspension) and better skimming may be all that is necessary. 2-3 weeks of good daily skimmate and its gone... trust me <wink>. Anthony Calfo>

Hey Folks: <Cheers dude> Ya have done a great job helping me out and I feel somewhat in debt to ya. And since I spent all my money on the aquarium and peanut brittle I thought you'd like a couple of pictures of my survivors since I have been in the hobby. <forget the pictures and thanks... send the peanut brittle...hehe> I know the first thing ya'll be thinking is "Not enough rock" and your right but I am being very picky about the LR that I add.  <fair enough> It has got to be the right shape and life that is occupying it. These corals have been with me several years now. The clown's anemone was sold to me when I first got into the hobby as a carpet but I think it is a purple tip Sebae. Please write back with any comments. Kevin Johnson <looks very good. Be sure to give the elegant weekly direct feedings of finely shredded meaty foods (fine plankton, Mysid shrimp and the like)...also, it should be wedged into the sand bottom for local nutrients... don't worry about feeding the leather, but give it the brightest light you can for growth. Best regards, Anthony>

New & Old Tank Questions Hello WWM Crew! I am writing yet again (thank you for being tolerant to repeat offenders) with a few questions. I just bought a new tank, 125 gallons. A friend and I just finished the plumbing from the tank to the sump and refugium and back up again. I have 85 gallons of salt water (RO/DI, & mixed with the salt for 24 hours+) made up. I will have a 5" DSB that will be going in, as well as my 200lbs of rock (cured with massive skimming for three weeks.) I think I might be able to fill the tank with 85 gallons. I will be 40 gallons short but I think the sand and rock will do the trick. My question about this is if I am short will it be OK to run the tank 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full while I ready more salt water? Just pop my heater in, a power head and wait? <Yes, should be just fine.> I wish I had more space to make up more water. :( Also about my 75 gallon 1 1/2 year old reef tank. I am planning on adding a 13 watt red light/bulb above the tank to view the tank when the lights are out. I heard somewhere that fish and coral are not disturbed by this color light, that they cannot recognize it. I would have it come on only at dusk when my actinics are on and dimming. Would an hour or two of this light be detrimental to the livestock? <No, they should be ok.> Thank you again for your time!! :) Josie Owens <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Air bubbles on rock? Hi Anthony. The lighting on my 50 gallon tank is as follows: 1 Actinic 40 watt and 4X40 watt white lights (i.e. coral sun.) All the lights are normal fluorescents with reflectors. The actinic is on for 14 hours and the white lights are on for 12 hours a day. Do you think this is to much Colin <Hmmmmm... although excess/overbearing illumination is often the cause for bubbles off gassing from surfaces, rock, etc... you certainly do not have light that is too intense. It is indeed rather modest. 14 hours is a bit long for a photoperiod though (although I honestly might not complain on another day). If only to rule out your photoperiod as the causative agent, let me suggest that you cut your lights each by two hours (no more than that) for up to two weeks to see if the bubbles subside. If no change, please feel free to reign to the longer photoperiod. Are the bubbles you see simply free formed and clinging to the rock/substrate or are they mostly bound within algae species. If so... it may be a nutrient problem and the nuisance algae is thriving and over-stimulated by the excess nutrients and light available. Please do follow up. Kindly, Anthony>

Air Bubbles III Thanks for your prompt reply Anthony. <Anthony is attending the Backer trade show in NJ. Steven Pro in this morning.> The bubbles are all over the rock, although where algae is present they tend to be larger and to sit side by side with each other, some are about 3-4mm long. I have stared at the tank for hours and what I have discovered is the external Fluval 404 filter gives off a burst of bubbles every ten minutes or so through the water outlet return. I have opened the canister and checked the seals, they seam to be okay, (the pump is only six weeks old.) <Look to see if the Fluval is sucking up a bubble or two from the intake and then ejecting it out. If the rock are releasing bubbles and the Fluval is catching them, that may explain why the intermittent bursts. You can try sliding a piece of foam filter over the intake of the Fluval and see if that does not stop the bursts.> I will try the suggestion of decreasing the light time. -Colin <Talk to you later. -Steven Pro>

Range of questions Anthony <Steven Pro this afternoon.> I set up a 10 gallon quarantine tank which I intend to use extensively over the foreseeable future since I need to stock my 105 gallon marine fish only tank. I put a whisper filter on it and in order to maintain the biologics, I added fresh crushed coral and some additional from my 5 month old tank. Am I wasting my time with the coral? Will this help or hinder my efforts? <Better to have a bare bottom tank in case of the need to use meds.> I just changed my lighting to a 230 watt Power compact (10,000k and actinic) unit because I like the look. I do not have any corals in the tank. How many hours a day should I leave it running? <Up to 12 hours per day.> Will this increase the brown algae production? <It will increase all algae production.> I have a Red Sea Turbo Protein skimmer on the system. When I do water changes or add any chemicals it performs like a champ and produces very wet skimming. Between water changes, it produces almost none. Is this normal? <No, should be producing daily.> I have spoken with the manufacturer who gives me wishy washy answers. Please keep in mind that I have only 5 fish (tangs and angels) in the tank right now. <That is a decent load for 100 gallons.> My decorative corals keep getting covered (2 weeks after cleaning you can see it reappearing) by brown algae which leads me to believe that my protein skimmer is not acting correctly. How can I avoid or minimize this problem? <Your skimmer is not performing at its peak, but that will not completely rid you of algae. It is unnatural for dead coral skeletons to remain uncolonized by something. It is a surface and some plant or animal will want to make it a home. Two weeks is really not too bad.> I originally used distilled water and the results were no better than with filtered tap water. <Distilled water is not a great choice. Of the two, I would use the tap water, but my overall preference is for RO or DI.> Thanks once again. -Joe <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

A Bad Situation II Hi. Thank you for your response so quick. I can't give any water parameters until Fri eve, but right now he has 2 scooter blennies, <Scooter Blennies require pretty much the same care as Mandarin Gobies. You can read much more about both here and the following linked FAQ pages http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm> 2 or 3 large red legged hermits, <I do not like the sound of "large" red legged hermit crabs. Many of the larger species are capable and quite likely of killing and eating smaller fish.> 2 maroon clowns, 1 arrow crab, and a few emerald crabs. This is what I can see. The tank is 75 gal. w/ compact fl. 4 actinic and 4 daylight. I'll give you the rest Fri. Also he has the chiller because he keeps his house very warm. He gets cold easy from no movement in his limbs. <Glad to hear it has a real purpose, versus just another money making item.> Thanks, Rob <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

How to make a good tank better To Anthony, Steve, or Bob <Steven this evening.> First, let me say that I find your site very informative and helpful. Since "stumbling" on your site last year I have upgraded to a very nice protein skimmer (Aqua C). I also perform weekly water changes (10%) instead of monthly changes. This has made a big difference in the quality of my tank. I have far less nuisance algae than before. My 75 Gal FO tank has been running for two years and is pretty well stocked. This may seem like a silly question but in addition to adding the skimmer and weekly water changes, aside from adding live rock, would adding supplements (i.e. calcium, etc) help promote "good" algae and/or eliminate "bad" algae? <Yes, maintaining proper levels of pH, calcium, and alkalinity will favor coralline algae and deter the various nuisance algae. I prefer using Kalkwasser, or a calcium reactor, or one of the two-part products.> Thank You, Rob <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Multiple Angels and Cleaner Shrimp with Dragon Wrasse. Hi WWM Guys... <Cheers, Glenn> Just finished reading the daily postings. Great advice as usual. I have a couple of questions for ya'll today. <very well> First of all yesterday, I visited my LFS who had some Bicolor Angels. On impulse I bought the healthiest specimen to add to my 75 gallon FOWLR tank.  <ehh... not exactly the hardiest fish you could have bought but somebody has to keep them?! Heheh...> I got home and put him into the 10 gallon QT,  <very wise> then visited your site. There to my dismay, I found that this fish has a high mortality rate. I've tried to feed him some flake food today, but he will not eat. <yes... not even a suitable food if it did> I'm going to try a little brine and mysis shrimp tonight.  <skip the brine shrimp...forever. A nearly useless and nutritively barren food. The mysis are good food. Try to get some greenstuffs into it too> I guess I have a couple questions about this guy. 1. My show tank has a Coral Beauty and a Yellow Tang. I know the Tang will harass him for a little while. What about the Coral Beauty? <it would not be a surprise to see either bully the bicolor> 2. I had planned on leaving him in the QT for at least two weeks. Could the small tank, be the reason he will not eat?  <very unlikely... I think not at all. Perhaps just a change of environment> Should I move him to the show tank sooner?  <absolutely not... 2 weeks is a rock bottom minimum. 4 weeks is best> This guy was eating very well at the LFS and was active. Now he just chases his reflection and the QT's damsel. <do consider running a sponge filter in the main display at all times (to be cycled) and used instead of keeping a damsel that will harass or be harassed in a running QT. This way the filter will be more biologically active (running on a full tank load instead of a single damsel load). Which reminds me to remind you to check you chemistry for any spikes> My other question has to do with my Dragon Wrasse. I've thought of adding a cleaner shrimp to the tank to help keep parasites in check. The problem is I'm afraid the shrimp will become a $15 - $20 one time meal for my juvenile Dragon Wrasse. Will they eat a cleaner shrimp? <eventually yes> Lastly, I've lost two fish from my African Cichlid tank. Yesterday I lost my Red Zebra. He or she had become lethargic in the last day or two. He did not show signs of high respiration of external parasites. His stomach was a little bloated. He hung around at the bottom of the tank. He did not eat and was not being harassed by the other fish. I found that to be odd, because they typically African Cichlids harass a sick fish till it dies. I lost another fish 3days before, but I had not noticed him being sick till it was too late. What do ya'll think it could be? No ammonia or nitrite. PH 8.0.. Nitrates 30ppm. I recently re-established this 30 gallon long tank. All the other fish appear healthy, but so did these guys. Yesterday, I did a 10 gallon water change, along with a extensive gravel vacuuming. In addition, I setup the canister filter, w/activated carbon. <tough to diagnose from the general description... research the "illness" known as Malawi Bloat and see if it sounds similar at all> Sorry for all the questions. <no worries at all> Thanks, Glenn <best regards, Anthony>

Clarifying Agents Hi guys, How are you today?  <excellent... I hope all is well with you too!> Hope all is well. I just got done reading the "horror stories" about copper treatment in the main tank polluting every calcareous surface for invertebrates. I was wondering if the same holds true for clarifying agents? <depends on the agent. AKA flocculating agents coagulate particulate matter and it stands to reason that filter feeders that extract this now "gummed up" (coagulated/flocculated/clarified) material could be contaminated or at least have their gills clogged (as with the feathery gills of fanworms). Such an event would not only prevent them from feeding but even respiring... yikes! And some agents (the rose colored/ not clear liquid> are actually aggressive oxidizing agents (potassium permanganate)...that would be bad on soft invertebrate tissue> Here's the story, my Mom was taking care of my fish while we were away. She overfed the featherdusters and flame scallops and clouded the water with the invert food. (I told her not to feed them, but "they looked hungry") <a mother's natural empathy> To remedy the situation, she added some water clarifier from the cabinet under my 120gal fresh water tank. When I came back a few days later, the feather dusters and scallops etc. didn't look too happy. I found out what happened and immediately moved all the inverts to another tank. Then started water changes. I've done a 20% water change every day for the past week and added tons of fresh carbon to the filters. Do you think it's safe to return my inverts to the tank, or do I need to scrap all the live rock and crushed coral gravel first? Thanks for your help again, Kristin:) <even if the calcareous media was stained (and I doubt that it was if the clarifier was a clear liquid), I think these inverts would be fine to return. More concern with the very soft tissue of anemones, snails feet, tube feet of starfish, etc crawling across the copper stained substrate and poisoning. In this case, the water has been rid of the agent and your filter feeder do not move on soft tissue. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Question about a Co-Co Worm. Hello again Robert. First of all thank you very much for your prompt response. After reading your email I would like to clarify a few things you suggested. <Okay> You suggested I stop the Kalkwasser drip and go to a two part Calcium supplement. Like the Kent 2 part Ca supplement perhaps? <Yes. There are others... all quite similar... alkalinity booster in one, alkaline earth elements compounds concentrate in the other.> It is the only one I know of off the top of my head. Why? <The Kalkwasser is actually easily toxic in marine systems, particularly small volumes as yours... and too easy to diminish alkaline reserve with constant, over, mis-use...> Is the DT phytoplankton enough food? <Not by itself, no> unicellular green algae for your use. Not hard to do Do you know of any websites that talk about raising unicellular green algae? <Will have to research myself. Frank Hoff's, Florida Aqua farms should be a good starting place: http://www.florida-aqua-farms.com/ > It may not be hard to do but I don't know how to do it. <You will learn. All things appear difficult at first... help is available> I found a web site that will sell me a culture kit for marine rotifers. Would this be a good investment? <Perhaps. Check about for competition, other hobbyists' input. Our chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/  Bob Fenner>

Looking for a Log Book Hello again Mr. Fenner, <<JasonC here, Bob has gone diving>> I was wondering.. do you know if anyone has put together an organized downloadable-printable log book entry or something that leaves no details out? Looking for something to put a nice log book together for pet fishing. <<that is a great idea, but I've not seen anything like that. You may find that once this gets posted on the Daily Q&A, someone might just come up with one. Cheers, J -- >> Thanks Bill & Lisa Hammond

Salt Water Questions Hello Mr. Fenner, <Mr. Calfo in your service <smile>> I have asked your advice in the past, and you have been most helpful. So I was hoping I could call on you again. I have a couple questions, sorry if I'm over loading, here goes. Oh yes, some background just so you know. I have a 72 gallon tank, running the Berlin method, about 100-110 pounds of live Fiji rock. The tank is currently stocked with 3 clown fish, one half-black angel, one late juv. emperor angel, one Sweetlips, and one huge red sea Sailfin tang. Also an assortment of invert.s. 1) Last night, I noticed that one of the Sweetlips eyes was becoming cloudy, with a film. She's still very hearty, and not breathing erratically. Should I be concerned?? My first thought is disease...but I've never dealt with a sick fish...so I'm kind of clueless. <this fish is very inappropriate for captivity and should not be sold to most folks for so many reasons... to many to discuss here. If the fish is not new (less than three weeks) then it will most likely die of a dietary deficiency on standard prepared foods (brine, flake, etc). They need gut loaded live fish for prey daily to survive. Do read WWM archives on this subject> 2) Also for some reason, I have a horrible green hair algae problem with the tank. It's everywhere!! I've bought a ton of snail's and what not but they just can't keep up. Is there a reason for all of this??  <almost certainly dissolved organics... make your skimmer produce daily dark skimmate (one cup or more) and it will disappear in weeks> Too much light perhaps?  <unlikely and not so with good nutrient export processes> Can this be related to high Nitrate?? <indirectly yes from overfeeding to lack of skimming> 3) Along with the last question, my tank has always had a high level of Nitrate. Everything else is perfect. I've tried repeated water changes with no luck. Finally I stated testing the tap water, and it actually has high nitrate. Thus, why water changes aren't helping. Should I be concerned with this?? Can I do anything about it? <RO or DI water purification may be necessary. Keep protein skimming as well. And avoid the store that sold you the Sweetlips. Lets hope they were too ignorant to know better> 4) Last question. What is your thoughts on adding Kalkwasser??  <excellent and ideal for most tanks! Highly recommended> I got some and was adding it, but it was wildly affecting my PH levels. I got scared and stopped using it.  <you were simply adding too much or too fast> Is there a recommended method of adding it to the tank??  <a slow drip or fast stir that does not raise your pH by more than .2 is an appropriate amount. begin with 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon daily in a 50-75 gallon system> So that I won't have to worry about the pH?? Is it even worth my trouble to add this stuff?? <many benefits beyond calcium... saponification (helps skimmer work), phosphate precipitation, tempers alkalinity drop, etc> Sorry for all of the questions. I'm still in the learning curve of salt water tanks. Thanks for your time! Best Regards, Jason <kindly, Anthony>

Re: Will microwaving or boiling kill the cyst stage of Amyloodinium? Dear Mr. Fenner, Would it be OK to call you Bob or Robert in future correspondences that is presuming I do not make a nuisance of myself and you would continue to answer my questions as you so generously have now and in the past) ? <Certainly> Thank you so much for the prompt reply to my email. I have a more questions if that's alright......but first I would like to say that I discovered your site about a year ago and refer to it frequently. It's a great site with a wealth of information Thank you for maintaining it and sharing your experience with all of us.  <A pleasure. How would you improve it?> I did the assigned homework last night :) and then took your book, which I read cover to cover more than once and also refer to on a regular basis, along with my 2 canines to bed and did some more reading in the areas related to the current Amyloodinium issues. I think, I have a pretty good understanding of the concepts presented in the "three sets of factors article" I have been an RN for ....OMG.....25 years now and all those concepts are actually quite familiar although I have never seen them presented the way in which you did.  <Ah, and outstanding> I found it very helpful. As you noticed I have not, in this circumstance, allowed my understanding of those principles to carry over from my nursing background to my marine keeping skills. <I see. Not yet> I just want you to know, I guess, that I am not complete ditz or ding bat, but I definitely have my moments. I have been successfully keeping captive bred seahorses for 3 years now. <Outstanding> My very first female H. erectus just passed away from what I believe was old age. I had her 3 years. I had my first brood of 51 whitei fry 9 weeks ago. I have 3 of the little ones left and they are doing very well. Not bad for a first brood eh :) ? I do however suffer occasional to occasionally frequent bouts of impulsiveness and impatience which I almost always regret and have learned many huge and difficult lessons from. I get a bit better with each passing day. <A good trend> OK sorry...........now the questions......... "If it were my system, situation, I would use the monies you might otherwise spend on new LR, substrate... and go on a small vacation instead, while the system is going fallow... starving out, greatly weakening the problem here..." So .........maybe I will take a little trip to SD and visit our mutual friend Randy Sanchez. <A worthy trip> So........ if fallow is the way to go one more time here........here is my plan: Fallow for 3 months, with the UV reinstalled (pump broke need to get it reset up with the new pump) Should I remove the corals.....there is a mushroom rock, a Ricordea, a small colony of green button polyps, a toadstool leather, a colt coral, a finger leather, and a coco worm?.  <I would not remove them. Leave them in place> I have a cycled 25g empty just hanging out just case I should need it for something.. There are Nass, Margarite, and Astrea snails and a few small Scarlet Reef Hermits should I remove them? <Leave them as well> What temp and specific gravity do you recommend and would it be different if the snails, hermits and corals remain in the tank? <Not too high/low and not too fast. To 82 F., 1.021... over a period of a couple of weeks coming and going> Should I be feeding the tank once a week or so to maintain the population of beneficial bacteria? <Yes> Would leaving the skimmer running help in any way to reduce the pathogens? <Yes> I have learned this lesson the hard way. I HAVE adopted a STRICT dip/bath and quarantine policy in effect IMMEDIATELY so............. What did you mean by "augmenting feeding"......would that be garlic laced foods if the fish continues to appear healthy or foods laced with the appropriate medication should the fish develop a disease? <Sorry for the ambiguity. I mean/t soaking in a vitamin preparation, iodide solution and possibly HUFAs (highly unsaturated fatty acids)> I saw that you recommend a FW dip, formalin bath or Meth Blue bath. I know a professional commercial seahorse breeder who uses a combo of formalin & Meth blue bath for 1 hour on fry with parasites. What is your feeling on mixing the two for these prophylactic baths? <Can be done... in attendance, with plenty of aeration... a close eye on the animals...> What would be your first choice? <pH adjusted freshwater, Methylene blue... easiest, safest> Is it species dependent? <Yes... some fishes much more sensitive> What would you recommend for the Gobiosoma oceanops and Jawfish? <Just a dip... a few seconds... then placement> From the article on Quarantining my understanding was that in certain circumstances you recommend the use of Copper prophylactically in the Q- tank immediately following the dip/bath Did I understand that correctly? <Yes, very perceptive. Done commercially in almost all cases> Would either a Jawfish or the gobies be candidates for that treatment? <Not really> Would Cupramine be an appropriate choice if Copper were to be used prophylactically in a Q-tank? <Yes> What other Copper med would you recommend? <Coppersafe and a few other chelates> When I am ready to reintroduce fish I will add some Lysmata shrimp first and then some Gobiosoma oceanops. How many would you suggest for this tank?  <Two> It is 50g and I am planning a tropical seahorse haven with all CB seahorses ....... probably H. barbouri, H. whitei or H. procerus and possibly H. kuda?  <Okay> However, I am not sure as I just heard from Pete Giwojna that in the next 6 months or so there will be a total of 18 CB species for the hobbyist to choose from, right now there are about 8. The blue stripe Neons were in the plan as well as some cleaner shrimp. I had one of my rarer moments of weakness when the Bluespot Jawfish magically appeared on the Jeff's Exotic Fish club members special price list for $49.99.  <A bargain I assure you having collected them> I have always wanted one. Bad move I know that now. Lesson learned the hard way. Is there one of the Lysmata species shrimp that is a better cleaner than any of the others? <L. amboinensis is about the best all round> Do you recommend dip/bath and quarantining for the shrimp?  <No, none of the above.> If so which method and with what additives if any? I have read that the CB Neons are not as good in their cleaning capabilities as their wild caught relatives. What is your feeling about this?  <This is factual> I prefer to purchase CB when ever I can. If you recommend more than 1 goby for my 50g would you recommend I get and Q them all at the same time or would 1 at a time be preferable? <I would just utilize a single specimen in this size system> What did you mean by "THEN optimizing your likelihood of avoiding outright infestations by selecting better specimens of appropriate species" Was that meant as a general statement? <Yes. As you know or will, some species, particular specimens are more resistant naturally from given localities...> Was my choice of the Bluespot Jawfish a poor one in your opinion or was it the irresponsible way and order with which I chose to introduce him no dip/bath/ Q) to the tank? <Not a great choice... the whole of Opistognathids are really best kept in "species tanks"... Not dipping... quarantining... too risky> I did do my homework and came up with ....hearty choice, does well in captivity, needs a gentle non threatening environment. Seems like one would be perfect for the tank I had planned. Jawfish are frequently recommended on Seahorse.org as an appropriate seahorse tankmate. <Most of the commonly available species, agreed> What are your thoughts about Jawfish in a captive bred seahorse tank, as long as it's care requirements are met? Speaking of care requirements.....what is the recommended temp range for a Opistognathus rosenblatti?  <Low to higher seventies F.> I can't seem to find that info anywhere. <Know them first hand from collecting near the tip of Baja years back... as well as Dick Rosenblatt who the fish is named for> It was suggested to me by an "advanced" marine aquarist friend, that the Jawfish and other bottom dwelling substrate movers would be more susceptible to this organism because they are in more frequent and intimate contact with the it, down there on the bottom messing with the substrate all the time. What do you think about that theory? <Mmm, not too plausible... the feeding, infective stages get about throughout the water column> During the quarantining of a fish that burrows, like a Jawfish, would you go with the traditional bare bottom Q-tank with clay pot pieces or would you make an exception and add something for the little guy to dig in? <Better to have a mix of different size substrates of some depth (a few to several inches)... some sections of PVC pipe a good idea (angled in the substrate) as well> Wouldn't it be stressful for a burrowing fish to not be unable to dig for 2 to 4 weeks? <Yes IMO/E. Wholesalers, shippers hold and move these with substrate> Oh, re my question about microwaving, boiling, or bleaching the contents of an Amyloodinium infested tank ......you said "I would not go these routes", I am still curious, do you think microwaving or boiling could work?  <I do... it would "sterilize" that media... but would kill other useful and many benign organisms... and the "likelihood" of infestation from other sources would not be eliminated or reduced... that is to say, the other components (sets of factors) are of much greater import than a low grade (infectivity) and low population presence of pathogens in a present system> Would you mind clarifying what you meant by that statement please. Did you mean that sterilizing the tank and all it's contents will only give you the slightest edge, if any over the fallow route without the adoption of the principles of the 3 sets of factors that determine Health/Disease? <Ahh, exactly.> Do you ever buy fish online or do you make it a practice to only purchase fish you can observe and personally choose? <I would buy livestock online if I had occasion/desire. Do prefer to personally observe> Oh my goodness those were many more questions than I originally had on my mind. I am so sorry. Thank you so much for your time, patience, knowledge and wisdom. Leslie <No worries my friend in fish. Bob Fenner>

For Anthony (if possible), System Diagnostic Questions I have been following your recent discussions about overflows and pump sizes. I am thinking about making some changes. . .How about giving some thoughts on my situation? <sure... thank you for caring to know my opinion. Anthony Calfo> I think my overflows are vastly undersized. I don't want to drain and drill the tank for at least a year or two. The overflows (x2) are 1 1/4 ID and the return is a mere 3/4 ID with a downsize to 1/2 ID as the return enters the tank.  <undersized for a reef but not too terrible for a fish only display> I have a Blueline pump (Champion lighting) that has 1200 gph at 0 head. I can't possibly be getting anywhere near 1200 gph with the small size plumbing. Right? Can you "guesstimate" what flow I'm actually getting?  <ranges wildly per pump and with the dynamic of path and head/pressure... but my educated guess would put you around 800-900 GPH> I must admit there is a lot of flow in the tank. In fact, there is an area behind the live rock that sand won't stay on because there is so much turbulence. At one time I was getting the back siphon that you have written about. . .however, I turned the flared nozzles (at the top of the tank) to an angle and the back siphon stopped.  <very fine> I was thinking of downsizing this pump to an Eheim 1060 (600 gph) or at least something VERY VERY QUIET that runs cool.  <probably a mistake... weak flow creates dead spots that allow organics and bacteria to accumulate which increases the chance of nuisance algae growth or pathogenic infections> I must have an external pump. Any specific suggestions?  <Many great pumps out there, but I have a personal preference for Japanese Iwaki pumps for the long haul. Do run nearly maximum flow through your system (buy at least a 1000 GPH external and divert flow with a teed bleeder line back into the sump if necessary)> Oh, my tank houses 100 lbs of LR (lots of quality algae), Tuskfish, trigger, lawnmower blenny, zoanthids, mushrooms, and one generic leather coral). Equipment includes 420 watts of VHO and a Turboflotor 1000 skimmer. Lights are on 10 hours a day because hair algae grows like crazy if I have them on longer. <sounds like a very nice set up overall> The tank is acrylic. There is a terribly stubborn algae that grows very quickly on the viewing panels. Definitely not coralline or Cyanobacteria. This stuff is green or rust colored and I have to really scrub to get it off. I was using a credit card until I saw a couple of scratches on the panels. What should I use to clean this stuff? I can't just wipe it, it must be scrubbed off. <there are some novel algae cleaning products for acrylic tanks. I can't recall any by name right now because I only have glass aquaria and wouldn't take acrylic for free unless I lived in an earthquake prone region <wink>... too many reasons for complaint here. Perhaps our WWM friends reading this post will be kind enough to post a thread on the WWM message board for us with their favorite products and DIY algae scraping tips for acrylic> Although I'm growing lots of algae (especially Halimeda, Sargassum and Caulerpa) I still get lots of diatoms. It grows very fast.  < a common problem in acrylic aquaria... unavoidable> Usually a thin covering about three days after water change and cleaning. What can I use to safely clean this from the panels and what can I do to get rid of this stuff forever? I thought turbulence, lots of competing algae, and skimming would keep this stuff from being a problem? The tank is just over 5 months old. <agreed... aggressive protein skimming should be the key, but perhaps better purified and reconstituted source water may also need to be considered> I enjoy WWM . . .thanks for your time, effort, and boundless energy! <thanks kindly, the drugs rarely wear off. Anthony>

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