Starfish and algae

Discussion in 'New To The Hobby' started by vickipansy, Apr 5, 2003.

to remove this notice and enjoy 3reef content with less ads. 3reef membership is free.

  1. vickipansy

    vickipansy Plankton

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2003
    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    ,
    Hi
    I recently discovered a little starfish on one of my live rocks. It is about the size of a nickle and beige in color. It has six legs and each leg has black dots that resemble the shape of a rectangle. There are also a few black dots on the center of it as well. Does anyone have a suggestion of what type starfish it might be and if known, how big I can expect it to grow?
    My other question relates to the condition of my different forms of algae. I have several types but the one I'm concerned about is my pink coraline algae. It was growing on the same rock I have star polyps growing on. I noticed when looking over the tank last night that there was a piece of what appeared to be my bubble coral on the rock and on the star polys in particular. I used some tweezers to remove the clear bubble like object and that's when I noticed that the coraline flake style algae looked like it had been scorched. It's shriveled up looking. I am wondering it the bubble coral let loose one of it's bubbles for one reason or another and it damaged the polyps and algae, or if I have a low calcium count and the algae is unable to grow without a supplement. I have quite a few various algaes growing in this tank and some of them have started looking pale and chalky. I should mention that the only test kits I currently have are for ammonia, ph, nitrite and nitrate. The ammonia is at 10ppm the nitrite is "0", the nitrate is 10 and the ph is 8.4. I added a few more blue legged crabs to help control the brown algae bloom I just had and the bloom wasn't all that bad. I think part of the cause is that I have the tank in front of a partialy exposed southern window with miniblinds on it and the sun comes through the blinds shining down into the tank even though the blinds are fully closed. I wasn't considering this when I counted my hours of light limit and consequently had the tank exposed to more hours of light than I thought it was getting. I am now taking that into consideration. It only applies to days when the sun is out in the early afternoon which hasn't been often here. So do you think my problem with the shrivled algae is from it getting stung by the bubble coral eight inches away or do you think it sounds more like a low level of calcim or something else intirely? I appreciate any advice you can give.
    Vickipansy
     
  2. Click Here!

  3. Wrassman

    Wrassman Peppermint Shrimp

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2003
    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Stockbridge, GA,Georgia
    Hey vickipansy,

    It sounds like you may have gotten a Chocolate Chip Starfish.  Does your little starfish look like this?
    [​IMG]

    If so, that is a Chocolate Chip.  They are good algae grazers.  But, they have been known to eat corals and other sessile invertebrates, as well.

    Let's talk about your ammonia.  You state that your ammonia is 10ppm.  That is WAY too high.  Are a lot of your critters looking a little ragged, or acting lethargic?  With ammo that high, you might start losing some of your snails and hermits.  I would take measures TODAY to bring that ammonia down to as close to 0 as I could get it.

    Lastly, if everything is looking pale and washed out, it could be an out of balance calcium.  But, it sounds to me that you have several chemistry problmes going on in there.  If your test kits are accurate, that is (test kits have been known to be wrong).

    Take some of your water to your LFS and ask them to test for ammonia, and test for calcium and alkalinity.  If you have an ammonia problem,  buy a polyfilter or two, come home and install your polyfilter in your powerfilter somewhere, and do a 25% water change.  That should bring things under control.

    Edit: You may not know what a polyfilter is. If you go here it will explain it to you. Sorry. [smiley=uhoh.gif]
     
  4. vickipansy

    vickipansy Plankton

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2003
    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    ,
    Well I took a sample of water in and also tested the ammonia and nitrates with my test kit and took the vials in (in a zip-loc bag), and compared results. My nitrates were zero according to the stores test and 20 according to mine. Since I did the same test at a differnt fish store and the nitrates were different there as well I now know that my kit is way off. My ammonia was at.50 by the time I reach ed the pet store but their kit came back as being no more than .23. So I have breathed a major sigh of relief. I did get a calcium test kit and both my tanks are 440ppm so that should be close enough to the optimal level of 445ppm. I am so glad I found out my test kit was at fault and not my water. As for the chocolate chip star I considered that but this thing is really tiny and there is just no way to tell until it gets bigger. It doesn't appear to have bumps like that on it at this point. Just little dots. I did discover I have two feather dusters forming. They are just tiny quarter inch stems with bits of sand on them now. What drew my attention to them was the feelers coming out and feeling about. It will be interesting to see what they eventually look like. Thanks for all the help.
    Vickipansy
     
  5. Wrassman

    Wrassman Peppermint Shrimp

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2003
    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Stockbridge, GA,Georgia
    Hey vickipansy,

    I so glad that it was your test kit(s) and not your water.  It sounds like your water is good, so far.

    The algae problems you are seeing are pretty typical for a tank in a sunlit area as you describe.  The brown algae will eventually be eaten by your clean-up crew.  It might also just die, and be eaten by the microscopic clean-up crew in your sand (I've had that happen before, too).

    The bubble you saw didn't come from your bubble coral, it is another form of algae called Valonia sp,  There aren't many critters that eat bubble-algae; an emerald crab (Mithrax sculptus) will eat a lot of it.  If you see any more of the bubble-algae you should probably get an emerald; bubble-algae can quickly become a serious problem.

    Anyway, I hope this helps; and Good Luck!!!


    Edit: Color for clarity.
     
  6. vickipansy

    vickipansy Plankton

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2003
    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    ,
    Hi again, I was just doing some cleaning on the front of my fish tank and kept noticing a bad smell. I sniffed around and figured out it was coming from the tank. It turned out to be a dead snail. I believe what happened is that the emerald crab ate what it could get of it and the part way back in the shell rotted. I never considered this could happen and figgured the crab had eaten all of it so it's been dead in there probably a week or so. Man did that thing stink!!! I tried rinsing the dead stuff out in the sink but ended up throwing it outside to get the stink out of my appartment. I thought I would never get rid of the smell! :p I had paid five bucks for a nice big plant of grape algae and another five for feather algae. My hermit and emerald crab have wiped it all out. They just left little stubs and a few half length leaves of the feather algae. I plan to trade the emerald back to the store I got it from. I had no idea they could be so destructive. I thought they ate mostly unwanted plants and leftover food etc. I now can't wait to be rid of them. I'll let the snails handle the algae and the blue leg hermits be my clean up crew. I suspect they are what ate my white banded coral shrimp too. They most likely got at it while it was growing a new shell. About a month ago I bought and left at the fish store eight fish. They were to hang on to them for two weeks so I could be sure they were healthy. Well they put a hawkfish in the tank with them and in the end they all died. I have been waiting for them to get more in and after waiting three weeks they got in part of them. I keep getting the royal grammas and royal dottybacks mixed up. I asked the gal who is part owner of the store if the royal dottybacks were royal grammas and she said yes and bagged one up for me. Fortuantely I have it in my quarantine tank. I kept thinking I had the wrong fish so I looked it up and sure enough it's a royal dottyback. Well I can't have the dottyback in with my other fish as they are peacful and the dottyback is most definately not. Now I get to take it back and wait for them to get the right fish in. It is so frustrating to buy from someone who doesn't even know their fish identities. It just means I have to know what I'm getting since I sure can't count on them to know. (A lesson to us all!) Aside from that all is going well with my tanks. I hope all of yors are fairing well also. ;D
    Vickipansy
     
  7. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2000
    Messages:
    13,466
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    Vicki -

    :)
    So much of what you say reminds me of when I first started trying to keep saltwater tanks. It's amazing to relive old experiences through others. The fish, the fish stores, everything.

    I can honestly say you will learn fast as long as you are willing to read all you can and keep an open mind. Go with safe bets from your research and go slow.

    I see so many tanks packed with livestock. THere is something to be said for the simple tanks with just a few pieces that grow over time and fill the tank.

    Take care.

    Matt
     
  8. Click Here!

  9. karlas

    karlas Fire Goby

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2002
    Messages:
    1,327
    Location:
    berwick, PA,Pennsylvania
    i found a while ago that there are actually 2 species of emerald crab. one is most generally reef safe the other is one that can get bigger and possibly nasty. (not all the time though)
    one species is all green where the other species has red in the joints of the front legs and claws. the one with the red is more likely to go after alge and stay a bit smaller then the other species
     
  10. Craig Manoukian

    Craig Manoukian Giant Squid

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2002
    Messages:
    3,330
    Location:
    Marina del Rey, California
    Fish and coral ID is really difficult because even the wholesalers don't always know what they are diong.  My LFS gets Parrot Fish (Fairy Wrasses) on their supply list all the time.  They call every Flasher Wrasse a Carpenters.  I am their resident wrasse IDer now as they will always ask me to confirm what they have received.  

    They also will rarely know the difference in Royal Grammas - Caribbean and Brazilian, or be able to identify or describe the behavior of all the fish.  There's a lot to know and you can't really expect $8 - $10 per hour help to have all the answers.

    I have a very good LFS and they do put the date the fish was received right on the tank.  They are not afraid to ask for help from some of the more avid store patrons.  The crew they currently have is pretty knowledgable and that's good as they are the only game in town other than PetCo.

    :) ;) :D ;D 8)
     
  11. vickipansy

    vickipansy Plankton

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2003
    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    ,
    Well I took the emerald crab back and the "royal dottyback" only to discover the dottyback really is a royal gramma. The book I used showed a violet-pink front and yellow back end. It showed the royal gramma as dark blue with a yellow back end. This led to the wrong conclusion. My fish has a black spot on the dorsal fin and a black mark through the eye like a royal grama but the violet/yellow coloring of the dottyback. The dottybacks don't have the black spots and it really is a royal grama. Boy did I feel dumb when I learned that! I also read up on emerald crabs and learned they are one of the few creatures who can be counted on to clear up the grape cluster algae, which apparently most people consider a nuisance plant. Do you think I should remove the few surviving stems left behind?
    Vicki
     
  12. Craig Manoukian

    Craig Manoukian Giant Squid

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2002
    Messages:
    3,330
    Location:
    Marina del Rey, California
    Sounds like the Western Pacific Royal Gramma!  Does it look like this?

    [​IMG]

    :) ;) :D ;D 8)

    www.liveaquaria.com