SEVERE algae problem. Brown/green slime over all rocks! Please Help!

Discussion in 'Algae' started by Cyruskayos, Jul 9, 2008.

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  1. Cyruskayos

    Cyruskayos Spanish Shawl Nudibranch

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    alright, i'll go test my tap water and i'll go make some fresh water from my ro/di unit and test both of those for phosphates....gimmie like 7 mins

    and bogie, i cleaned it before i took the picture, it was almost full.
     
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  3. Cyruskayos

    Cyruskayos Spanish Shawl Nudibranch

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    also, the bulb on my metal halide came with it when i bought it in January, it is 250 watts and 14k spectrum

    could my bulb be the problem?
     
  4. ReefSparky

    ReefSparky Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I disagree strongly with this one. If you are doing the right thing to battle algae problems, your tank can tolerate all the light you can throw at it. Further, if you don't address the cause, you can shut the lights off for weeks if you want to--as soon as they come back on the algae will come back with a vengeance. I'm going to look for a past thread where I won the war and haven't seen any algae since last new year's.

    I'll get back to you.
     
  5. ReefSparky

    ReefSparky Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I found it. The original thread was "Desperate measures!!! Fed UP!!" by CrabbyJim. I'm pasting my response here. Good luck to ya!!



    ---begin cut and paste:-------

    Sorry for your algae problems. I battled algae for about 20 years. Back in the day, heavy algae growth was a sign of a well-established tank. The fish didn't mind it a bit. If you don't have corals, and don't mind the ubiquitious green appearance of your tank; let things go. No biggie.

    Not funny one bit, eh?

    I've "pulled the plug" on algae lots. Turned off my lights for weeks at a time. Did copious water changes. Used every chemical additive in the market. I was at wit's end. I've tossed in the towel more times than I care to confess.

    Some say that turning the lights off will help. Been there. Deprived the tank (and fish) of food. Done that. Removed and scrubbed clean every piece of live rock in the tank. Tried that too. Do those 3 things and it will look like you never had algae in the first place--for about 2 weeks, until algae once again takes hold.

    There's so much advice about ridding your tank of algae that it seems redundant, doesn't it? Well, it's redundant because a lot of those tips work. If you take all the good tips, and incorporate them in your setup, you're literally guaranteed to win the algae battle. That's what I did. I decided that I'd try only those tips that I've read more than 50 times. LOL.

    Truth is, if you do the right thing, you can have your display tank in direct sunlight for an hour or so each day. You can even overfeed once in a while. The thing is, you must treat the cause. You must go in for the kill, and stop putting bandaids on the wound.

    Here's what I did:

    1. I lost the crushed coral substrate and replaced it with sand. Turns out CC harbors all kinds of detritus, leading to nitrates, leading to algae.

    2. I built a 10gal refugium, and put in chaetomorpha macroalgae. The fuge is lit when the main tank is not. It has a 55K "daylight" bulb. It's like sunlight overnight for the chaeto. The chaeto competes with tank algae by consuming the very same nutrients. The macroalgae is like the greedy relative who comes over and eats all your food. You're left hungry.

    3. I stopped using tap water and bought a RO/DI system. Seems that tap water saturates your tank with phosphates and silicates. Algae will thank you for those important nutrients.

    4. Made sure my protein skimmer was a good one. Dissolved organics are high on the algae menu.

    5. I purchased a phosphate reactor and run it 24/7 with the indicated amount of phosphate removal media, and packed the rest of the way with carbon. Carbon doesn't remove organic matter like protein skimmers, but it's pretty amazing how the variables come together and provide results you might not expect. Carbon keeps your water crystal clear, and since corals are photosynthetic, this helps them grow. Coralline algae (more coral than algae) love the light too. When corals and coralline algae grow, algae doesn't fare as well. Ever see a photo of a tank with tons of green algae and corals and corallines growing? Not even once, eh?

    By the way, it's important to run phosphate removal media in an ACTIVE way, like a chamber of some kind where water is forced through, rather than passively tossing a bag of the stuff in your sump. That doesn't do very much.

    6. Took the bioballs out of my wet/dry. I did this because I read that bioballs are "nitrate factories." I think nowadays that clean bioballs are safe, and as long as detritus doesn't collect on them, nitrates won't have a chance.

    7. I upgraded my lights, making sure that an old, tired bulb's wavelength ouput wasn't contributing to algal growth.

    Over my years of SW tank husbandry, I've done countless searches for "algae problems" and I've tried many of the tips espoused by people in the same boat. They seemed to make sense. It took me a long time to figure out that I needed to do all the above AT THE SAME TIME.

    My personal guarantee to you is, if you did an experiment and incorporated the seven points above, you won't see a speck of algae again.

    Hit the algae problem hard. Blitz it. Rob them of nutrients. Provide an inhospitable environment for algae. You will win.

    Good luck!
     
  6. PharmrJohn

    PharmrJohn The Dude

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    I have to preface that I am a newbie (two months experience) and that 99% of those on this site probably have better advise than me. But here is what I did.

    There are those on the site that will discourage rock scrubbing. My LFS dude told me to scrub under water with similar salinity and temperature. I took each rock out, gently removed the algae with a toothbrush and placed it back in the tank. I took readings the next day and there was no change. I was worried about scrubbing off the benificial bacteria. What I was getting rid of was the first wave of diatoms. It seems that you have the residual brown and green algae growth that is expected with all new tanks

    I also took the top layer of sand and washed that. I am not sure how smart that was. My LFS guy did not say anything about that. I got a little paranoid, went down to the LFS, got a bag of live sand and replaced that which I had removed. I then went out and purchased a suitable cleanup crew. Now I just keep the brown film algae off the front and side panel and everything is under control.

    Rock on.......John
     
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  7. ReefSparky

    ReefSparky Super Moderator Staff Member

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    good points! Never scrub LR in fresh water, you'll kill a lot of the beneficial bacteria. BTW, the bulk of these bacteria are inside the pores of the rock, and scrubbing in SW won't affect the rock's performance significantly.

    Also the cleanup crew I neglected to mention on my original post. Once you have the issue under control, a clean up crew will keep it that way.
     
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  9. wildreef

    wildreef Stylophora

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    Im sorry sparky spark, but if he were to reduce lighting/photo period down "for now" ( so as not to agravate the situation with more light and encourage that algae growth )
    while he gets that algae under control either by yanking the rock and scrubbing it or pulling it out by hand and perhaps getting filtration working good.

    which leads to other questions ?
    how old are the lights ?
    and from what i see in the tank, theres a pile of rocks all clumped togehter
    ( looks like there NO space between any )
    and just one power head as i can tell from pic ?

    Is there enough water flow in this tank ?
    Is there some ( if any ) water flow in this mess of tightly packed rock ?
     
  10. Cyruskayos

    Cyruskayos Spanish Shawl Nudibranch

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    alright, here are the phosphate results:

    house tap water= 2
    RO/DI water= 0
    tank water= 0.25
     
  11. Tangster

    Tangster 3reef Sponsor

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    From Joe at the Fishworld On Courthouse Rd and rt 60 ? If you are in Chesterfield Co then test the water from your R/O

    The Phosphates are High and the DKH is low as well as the Calcium is a tad low also . Nitrates are where I don't recallseeing that reading ? I'll look back through. to see if I missed it
    Aslo wanted to add if those bulbs are 14 K they must be shot as they looked yellow to me what brand where they ? Red sea , Coralife or X-M's

    Its the Phosphates what where the nitrates ?
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2008
  12. Bogie

    Bogie Snowflake Eel

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    You have a good point there wildreef, with flow possibly being a contributing factor.
    I don't have first hand experience with MH 14K spectrum bulbs, but I would assume a 10K would be a better suited spectrum. If this algae has been a problem in the tank since the bulbs were new, and they are still relatively new, perhaps they are not a good quality brand or wrong spectrum?

    Cutting the lights back is a temporary fix and will discourage algae growth, but will not fix the root source of the problem - the water quality/phosphates, etc..

    I'll guarantee though, with his test results, that water quality is the root source of the problem. Either getting in through the water source, or is abundantly present in the rock or substrate in his tank. Testing the RO/DI sample for phosphates will help determine this.
     
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