Dinoflagellates

Discussion in 'Algae' started by gabbyr189, Jan 12, 2013.

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  1. gabbyr189

    gabbyr189 Bubble Tip Anemone

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    So I am ready to begin the battle against dinoflagellates in my 90g reef tank.

    I have confirmed that what I am seeing in my tank is dinoflagellates and not cyanobacteria by taking a sample into the lab and taking a look under the microscope. Easy ID. As expected, it is dinoflagellates. It was hard to take a good picture through the microscope with my iPhone.. Additionally, I am familiar with what cyanobacteria and diatoms look like (both in the aquarium and under the microscope) and this is clearly not either of them.

    Previously I was under the assumption that dinoflagellates were something that comes into the aquarium on frags, LR, etc. However, in the past 6 months, I have only bought one frag (and no live rock at all), which I bought around 3 months ago... This made me wonder how I actually got dinoflagellates. Is it something that always exists in the aquarium, but is only able to take over under certain conditions? I take care of my tank well (25% weekly WC's, change GFO regularly, use RO/DI, limit feeding, don't add supplements of unknown composition, etc).

    One problem that I have had recently is my pH was very low. However, I have realized that my pH probe is not functioning properly. It seems to be reading 0.15 less than it should. I calibrated it about 3 weeks ago. Taking this into consideration, I believe my pH is approximately 7.8.

    It seems as though pH influences the growth of dinoflagellates, and from this information I am assuming that this dino outbreak is a result of my pH being low.

    So here is the plan. I am going to go with corallines advice in the following thread that helped the OP to beat dinoflagellates:
    http://www.3reef.com/forums/algae/dinoflagellates-139342.html


    One problem regarding my water chemistry. I plan on increasing my pH to 8.3. However, I just tested my alk, and it is 10.2 dKh. I added enough sodium carbonate solution (BRS recipe) to raise the alk to 11.2 dKH, in hopes of increasing my pH. However, my pH only increased to 7.96. I don't want to add any more of this solution because my alk is already very high.. My calcium is around 450 and mag is around 1350.

    Hmm. What is the highest I can increase my alk to? I understand that it is not optimal for the SPS and other inhabitants to exceed 11 or 12 dKH. But I am wondering how much higher I can go without KILLING the inhabitants... Any ideas..

    I see one more potential option to increase the pH. That is, to increase the pH without increasing the alk (i.e. using a different supplement that does not contain carbonate). My first though was to add some other base like sodium hydroxide. After a little research, I noticed that the product "API pH up" contains sodium hydroxide rather than sodium carbonate. I don't usually like to buy supplements like that.. But this seems like the best way to increase my pH without increasing alkalinity. Any advice here?
     
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  3. steve wright

    steve wright Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Fortunately never had to deal with Dinos Gabby so cannot offer much advice on this

    I do know that Zooxanthellia, the symbiotic algae that resides in coral tissue can also leave their host coral and take up residence as the dino's

    On the max you could slowly increase to, I have seen varying accounts on this, and values as high as 14DHK ( not recomending, just saying I have seen various accounts on DHK as high as 14 for dealing with certain algae issues)

    if you have tried all other methods of increasing PH such as better surface movement, outside air into the skimmer, opening windows at home more often, etc

    you could consider using Kalkwasser as your supplement maintenance method, as this will give you a higher PH over the standard 2 part solutions and once you have dialed in the correct water to powder ratio, you may find it is adequate to keep up with demand, or at very least you will be able to dial down your 2 part utilisation as a % of the demand will be taken care of by the Kalkwasser

    Steve
     
  4. m2434

    m2434 Giant Squid

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    Sorry to hear that. Dino's are one of the most common components of plankton and they are in every tank. There are thousands of species though, some are food sources, others have toxins to deter predation. These probably are also quite common in aquariums, but need the right niche to gain a foothold. The ones that become problematic seem to thrive when major nutrients get relatively low and the competition dies off. Some people have actually been finding that they have success raising nutrients a bit. However, toxic dinoflagellates may be more toxic with higher nutrients and then there is theissuenofnwhat to do with the other algae. I think raising pH, and reducing P vio gfo, many nuisance dinos seem to be mixatrophic, so, reducing organics and detritus maynhelp. this article is also good place to start.

    Problem Dinoflagellates and pH by Randy Holmes-Farley - Reefkeeping.com


    This is not likely true BTW, the Dino's that live n our corals are not likely to do well away from their host. Most experts seem to think they will not survive outside of a coral in our systems.
     
  5. m2434

    m2434 Giant Squid

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    By the way, you could also run a line from your skimmer air intake, out of a window. Or run through CO2 absorption media. This should reduce co2. Also, kalk will add alkalinity and remove some CO2. Raising pH with high co2 levels is tough though, so, the airline can help.
     
  6. gabbyr189

    gabbyr189 Bubble Tip Anemone

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    So do you think that using kalkwasser (calcium hydroxide) is my best option? This will raise the pH without increasing dKH.. How does this option compare to just adding sodium hydroxide? My concern is that I just ran out of magnesium solution. It probably wouldn't be a great idea to add excess calcium because then it will precipitate out of solution with the carbonate (because my mag level is borderline). I am not sure what effect this will have on pH. So would adding sodium hydroxide be a better idea?

    I really need to increase the pH. My pH right now is 7.92 (assuming the probe is correct). I believe it is reading about 0.15 below the actual value so that would make it 8.05. The lights have been on all day, so it will drop when the lights turn out.

    If I turn the lights out for 4 days, I assume the pH will drop dramatically. I need a way to keep it up without spiking the dKH...
     
  7. exactlyobp

    exactlyobp Giant Squid

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    I have had the dino for a long time. Approximately 6 months. No casualty. As far as I researched, no one really knows the cause of dino. It happens in real ocean occasionally, without scientific cause that they can identify.

    Here is what I did.
    -Siphoned out the dinos as much as i can with infected sand and it forced me to do 5 gallon waterchange everyday for 2~3 weeks.
    -Did not do black out. but shortened photo period by 3~4 hours.
    -Kept the pH around 8.3 (i wanted to keep it a bit higher but i run BP)

    Then the dinos started to come back slower than before so
    -I started to siphon every few days. Around this time, it was only on the sand bed. But still kept siphoning, siphoning.. and added water of course.
    -I added live sand to diversify the bacteria in the system.
    -the dinos slowed down even more, yet still come back. so I did 10%+ water change every 5~6 days, and this became routine. Still siphoning with the infected sand. I did this for a few months.
    -started to dose BioDigest. I swear by this product. I believe this hyperconcentrated bacteria took care of the dino issue i was having. I still dose this every 15 days.

    So in short, I did exactly what Cheryl didn't, except keeping the higher pH.

    Starting over isnt an option for you?
     
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  9. gabbyr189

    gabbyr189 Bubble Tip Anemone

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    Starting over is not an option.

    I'm not sure how much this BioDigest would help for two reasons. First, BioDigest is meant to improve water quality. My water quality is fine (nitrates, nitrites, ammonia are undetectable). There is no evidence of any other algae (at least in the DT). Second, m2434 said that there is some evidence that dino's thrive when nutrients are low, and that increasing them may actually provide some benefit. This seems reasonable for the sole reason that I have great water quality and still have dinoflagellates.

    If I recall correctly, Cheryl suggested that something about frequent water changes feeds dino growth for some reason. I do 25% WC's weekly (religiously). This supports m2434's suggestion that good water quality feeds dino growth.

    I think I am going to go with Cheryl's suggestion for now because it seems to have worked for her and several other people, and even more importantly - only takes four days!! ;) If it doesn't work, then I will look in to some other options...
     
  10. m2434

    m2434 Giant Squid

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    It doesn't matter if you use sodium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide. You'll burn one CO2 unit, per unit hydroxide. Just easier to find high quality kalk. You will add dKH too though. The only way to raise pH without raising dKH is to reduce CO2.

    Also, to clarify, I didn't say Dino's thrive under low nutrients, they can just survive, but their competition can't. So, it allows them to get a foothold. They still do better with nutrient though. Actually, in the literature, if I remember correctly, there is some focus on N:p ratios, I think higher P:N favors some Dino's for example (but depends on the species). The last time I had, what I thought were Dino's, I beat them by raising N, and then dosing a lot of sodium silica, to promote diatoms, as in the literature, I had found evidence of a similar seasonal shift, where increased N and Si, shifted plankton composition to diatom based. It seemed to work, there were diatoms, but they were easy to siphon out, and no more Dino's. I didn't have a microscope then though, so couldn't confirm Dino's. I latter had a skimmer overflow and something similar came back, but under a microscope, does not actually appear to be Dino's, although the jury is still out on what it is.

    Siphoning seems to wrk quite well too, and GAC, skimming etc... Anything that reduces organics sould help. There are so many species thoug, with such varying niches, you may need to try different methods, but Cherl's is fine to star t with.
     
  11. Corailline

    Corailline Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It is a dry heat, yeah right !
    In my experience water changes made absolutely no difference and seems to accelerate the growth or intensity.

    Changing out the Chemipure and Purigen did no good.

    I only saw results after I completed the black out the other steps I outlined earlier.

    In my case the dino was present and intense for about 3 months until I changed my plan of attack. It most certainly killed off my huge zoanthid colony and some soft corals. The dino caused damage to the tips of sps but nothing significant.

    It is very hard to make generalization and blanket recommendations for a couple reasons, different types of Dinoflagellates and everyone's tank has it's own unique variables/ personality.
     
  12. exactlyobp

    exactlyobp Giant Squid

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    I wasnt suggesting or doubting the water quality of your tank. I follow your thread and I know how meticulous you are. I managed to keep the nutrients low in my tank as well, still dino appeared.

    I know the dinos like the environment of SPSs thrive. I know i got the dino from bacterial imbalance after i saw the result of what i did. It is believed that some bacterias live longer than others in a closed system like our aquariums. Ive read more than a few examples that they believe its necessary to change out live rocks every few years.

    With all said, keep something in mind, Gabby, dino is very resilient. I wish on noone that has to go thru dino, so I really hope you can make a difference in 4 days.