Ultimate Nuisance Algae Thread

Discussion in 'Algae' started by johnmaloney, Feb 7, 2009.

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  1. johnmaloney

    johnmaloney 3reef Sponsor

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    Nuisance Algae Identification and Removal Guide

    Okay, so unless you have a nuisance macro algae that is complex and not normal, we hopefully got you covered. We need photos to continue the thread, send them in. :)



    The Common Pest Algae. (Diatoms, Hair, Film, and Cyano)


    Cyano:

    Slime Style:

    [​IMG]

    Powdery Nasty Mess on Sand Style:

    [​IMG]


    Scientific Description: Red slimey mess. Can be long and stringy, can be brownish, can be powdery on your glass or rocks.

    Manual Removal - wipe glass with mag float, etc... Light toothbrush harder corals covered and gorgs, and the rocks. Stir sand and siphon

    Clean Up Crew- Ceriths, Nerites and Blue Legs

    Why it happened - too much phosphate, and you probably have a phosphate imbalance. Meaning you probably have less than a 20:1 N:p ratio. Alkalinity may be a factor too.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    John's Tip - Increase the flow in your tank to take care of dead spots. Are you using RO/DI? Either way check your source water for phosphates.
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    Film Algae:

    A micro algae that dusts the glass.

    [​IMG]

    Scientific Description: Green powdery film, or cloudiness. We are getting very general here, I am claiming a wide spectrum of species of green micro algae b/c you can be rid of it before you can id it. No plates, so take it easy on me with this id. :) (A marine biologist weeps...:) )

    Manual Removal - wipe glass with mag float, etc... Light toothbrush other areas.

    Clean Up Crew- Ceriths, Nerites astreas turbos limpets chitons snails love this stuff. so do many filter feeders and amphipods.

    Why it happened - available nutrients and you a bloom, don't get too worried, you may notice some tank cloudiness too, same thing (micro algae). Chronic problems are another thing, get your phosphate or nitrates down.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    Cloudiness? Water change, prefilter with lots of active carbon. Blast the rocks with a turkey baster to stir up sediment, siphon and be done with it.

    John's Tip - I think it is kind of cool if it happens only every now and then, the ocean is this way. ( A seasonal thing)
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    Hair Algae:


    [​IMG]

    Can also appear brownish like this:

    [​IMG]

    Scientific Description: A variety of green filamentous algae are lumped together under Green Hair Algae, because identification requires a microscope.

    Manual Removal - yank it out. If it is growing from the sand sift it out with a net.

    Clean Up Crew- Blue Legs, bigger hermits, turbos, limpets, chitons

    Why it happened - too much nutrients, both phosphate and nitrate.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    John's Tip - Older light bulbs grow more hair algae as they drift towards the red spectrum.

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    Derbesia sp. Turf Algae:


    [​IMG]

    Scientific Description: Okay. So most of the GHA species are some type of Derbesia sp. But we don't use microscopes, this is a "for hobbyist purposes only" guide, so please no replies about that. (Or that cyano isn't an algae..we know but you get the point right...?) :)

    Oh yeah back to the description - What most hobbyists call derbesia is reserved for those species of this genus that are turf like. They form dense mats, and have shorter hairs like the pictured.

    Manual Removal - while pushing down on the back of the algae scrape your thumb against the rock dislodging the turf like mat of algae in one swoop. Let it get big enough so you have leverage. The 3reef member who removed this piece did it perfectly.

    Clean Up Crew- Chitons, limpets bigger hermits etc... The hair algae crew but Chitons will love it if they find it.

    Why it happened - too much nutrients, both phosphate and nitrate.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    John's Tip - Older light bulbs grow more turf algae as they drift towards the red spectrum.

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    Diatoms:


    [​IMG]

    Scientific Description: Brown Powdery like substance that can cake in extreme cases like the one above. Usually occurs right after a tank finishes its cycle.

    Manual Removal - wipe glass with mag float, etc... A blast from a turkey baster takes care of rocks. Stir sand and siphon.

    Clean Up Crew- Ceriths, Nerites and Chitons

    Why it happened - bio available silica, probably from sand or rock or something plastic your recently added to the tank.

    Starving it out - Diatoms starve themselves out, just try to keep something eating it in the mean time so it isn't so ugly as it slowly removes the silica from your tank.

    John's Tip - Pods love diatoms. Left with no predation from fish, and a steady supply of diatoms over a month's time, (you do this by keeping the diatoms under control), you should be able to see rapid pod maturation in your tank.

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    Byropsis sp.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see in distant pictures it looks very similar to hair algae, and the two are often confused. Here is a link to a picture of Byropsis pennata, that is close up:

    [​IMG]

    Notice the feather detail on the algae. This is what you are looking for in your tank to confirm or deny identification. If you do have it be prepared for a fight:

    1. Try to get on it quickly. If it is only on one rock remove the rock, remove algae, starve of light in a QT.
    2. Manual Removal - If that doesn't work or get it all, remove all you can by hand. People will tell you not to do this because it will spread. Let me assure you, left untreated byropsis will spread. Just be careful about it, and if you can pull the rock out to remove it all the better. If takes hold in the sand sift it out with a net. If you don't remove the base of byropsis you are wasting your time.
    3. Starve it out - As always if you can get down nutrients nuisance algae has a harder time taking hold, or coming back after manual removal.
    4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 aggressively.

    5. If that doesn't work try raising your magnesium to very high levels. I don't want to be blamed if this causes losses in your tank, many people have done this with great success and minimal stress, but still....please do your research and don't blame me if something goes wrong. :) I say QT. Here is a good article:

    Reef Central Online Community - Finally an easy solution to bryopsis!

    John's Tip: save your money on CUCs, if it is truly byropsis the normally sold CUC members, (in regular numbers at least), will not finish it off, only pick at it which is what we can do with manual removal in 2 minutes time. Opaque cutouts shaped to cover an area of byropsis can be put between the light source to shade them out. Remember fire and corrosion concerns, tupperware might work, but remember soap, chemical contaminant concerns.... Home Depot bucket lids make good cutouts.

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    Bubble Algae

    This is green bubble, one or more of the Valonia species:

    [​IMG]

    Scientific Description: Almost cool looking, almost. Can have a metallic look to it. Once it takes hold it can grow very fast and dominate a tank in a month.

    Manual Removal - Don't be clumsy and spread this one. Get em small, cover them with a baster, scrape the baster along the rock, when the Valonia comes off release the plunger and suck it up. Discard and repeat. If you have a lot to do, by the time you are done you will be ready to add new mixed water to complete the water change. Be aggressive with your manual removal.

    Clean Up Crew- Emerald Crabs

    Why it happened - You didn't quarantine, and you have available nutrients for it.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    John's Tip - Juvenile Emeralds are better for the task, the smaller the better. Get one per handful amount of the bubble. (After aggressive manual removal, remember to limit based on tank size etc....that recommendation is only based on the bubble algae - it does not consider the crabs needs do your research, etc....)
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    Lobophora sp. (Usually variegata):


    [​IMG]


    Scientific Description- Brown semi rigid but slippery macro algae. Often confused with plating coralline, the slippery rubbery feel is a give away if you don't want to use scientific methods to determine the id.

    Manual Removal - Difficult. Qting the rock in an extended dark cycle is the best way. Good thing it doesn't spread rock to rock too fast. A chisel or a flexible knife like a putty blade works, but you got to get it all, and take some of the rock just to be sure.

    Clean Up Crew- Emerald Crabs (best bet here), Sea Hares, some Turbos, Chitons, Limpets, Tangs, Urchins, will pick at it, but it is likely to persist, but at least it will be controlled.

    Why it happened - You didn't quarantine, and you have available nutrients for it.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    John's Tip - Under the right lighting it can take on amazing colors. Also, it is not calcified despite its appearance.

    http://www.com.univ-mrs.fr/IRD/atollpol/ecorecat/images/lobovah.jpg

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    Blue Green Cyano:

    [​IMG]

    Description: Forms a slimy mat of green goop for lack of a better term. Usually greenish despite name, but can be darker as it appears in this picture.

    Removal: This stuff is difficult to get rid of, but can be done if you persevere. Capable of surviving in low to zero light and without nitrates, it only needs phosphates in your tank to feed off of. You can prevent it by utilizing mangroves and macroalgae that will reduce the phosphates in your tank and prevent it from forming. If you have a break out and are trying to deal with an established problem, then you should consider adding a chemical phosphate removal system to kill it. The setup, (you need a phosban reactor and a filter media), may run you up to $75, before tubing and getting your tank setup going. Increase flow to dead spots.

    Fun Fact: Scientists believe Blue Green Cyano was one of the first life forms on our planet.

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    Dinoflagellates

    [​IMG]

    Scientific Description- Light brownish menace. It looks like snot growing up from the rock or sand, with trapped air bubbles in it. Not to be confused with algae that has an air bubble that has landed on it, dinos make them. Not all species of dinos are bad the one pictured is though, and has caused many aquarists to tear down their tanks.

    Manual Removal - Remove the rock and place it in a large saucepan. Add water enough to cover the rock. Boil the tar out of it. Rinse and repeat with scrubbing in between. Let dry for 3 days in sun. :)

    Clean Up Crew- Don't bother.

    Why it happened - You didn't quarantine, and you have available nutrients for it.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    John's Tip - Reduce your phosphates and other nutrients. Iron needs to be controlled. (Everybody forgets about Iron but that can cause problems too.)

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    Gelidium:

    [​IMG]

    Scientific Description: Species in this genus, (and the similar Coelthrix sp. which looks similar but is purple-sort of), cling to the rock, and spread from a runner. The branches do not get tall, and they are often found with hobbyist frags.

    Manual Removal - Difficult. Macros that have fragile runners and creep along the rock are the hardest to manually remove. Do the best you can.

    Clean Up Crew- Emerald Crabs, urchins, sea hares, large turbos, shore shrimp. Small emerald crabs would be my first choice if it took hold in a narrow crevice b/c they could reach it.

    Why it happened - You didn't quarantine, and you have available nutrients for it.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    John's Tip - Don't pass on frags with this stuff, don't put one in your tank. This algae has become extremely common on hobbyist traded frags, every time you add a coral or a rock look for it from now on. If you have it just keep at it, it takes a while but it can be beat back, at least you don't have byropsis.
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    Cladophoropsis:

    [​IMG]

    Scientific Description: Species in this genus, and related ones, cling to the rock, and spread from a runner. The branches do not get tall, and they are often found with hobbyist frags.

    Manual Removal - Difficult. Macros that have fragile runners and creep along the rock are the hardest to manually remove. Do the best you can. Get a dental pick and get it all the first time and be done with it.

    Clean Up Crew- Not sure. small rock boring urchins will kill any macro just sitting on a rock like that. try an emerald crab and let us know how it goes.

    Why it happened - You didn't quarantine, and you have available nutrients for it.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    John's Tip - ?? Never seen it in person, help me out here.
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    Callithamnion aka Cotton Candy Algae


    [​IMG]

    Scientific Description: The pictured specimen is quite good looking, it usually appears as a light pink fuzz. It is not course, and should sway in the current. (Stiff specimens are likely to be other species that look similar). The macro has very fine "branches" that are covered in even finer hairs. The plants are very small.

    Manual Removal - Easy if it hasn't taken hold in places your fingers won't fit.

    Clean Up Crew- Emerald Crabs, urchins, sea hares, large turbos, and some of the larger hermits.

    Why it happened - You didn't quarantine, and you have available nutrients for it.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    John's Tip - This algae is not widespread in nature, but can be locally abundant. It seems to be coming in on frags, and most of the people I know with it have received it on a traded frag. You can just pick this one out manually if it hasn't made it way to the crevices of your rockwork.

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    Red Bubble Algae

    [​IMG]

    Scientific Description: This is Red Bubble Algae, one of the Botryocladia species, (probably skottsbergeii or pyriformis) . Some of the Botryocladia species, like Botryocladia occidentalis, are desirable. The main difference between an invasive species of Botryocladia and a desirable one is how it grows. Desirable species grow up from branches, and invasive species creep along the rock just leaving hard to remove bubbles. Some are in between both in risk and branch development.

    Manual Removal - Don't be clumsy and spread this one. Get em small, cover them with a baster, scrape the baster along the rock, when the bubble comes off release the plunger and suck it up. Discard and repeat. If you have a lot to do, by the time you are done you will be ready to add new mixed water to complete the water change. Be aggressive with your manual removal.

    Clean Up Crew- Emerald Crabs

    Why it happened - You didn't quarantine, and you have available nutrients for it.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    John's Tip - Juvenile Emeralds are better for the task, the smaller the better. Get one per handful amount of the bubble. (After aggressive manual removal, remember to limit based on tank size etc....that recommendation is only based on the bubble algae - it does not consider the crabs needs do your research, etc....)

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    Dictyota sp.:


    [​IMG]

    Scientific Description- Brown algae, has forked branches may have iridescent blue hue. Here is the thing with the dictyota sp. - there are tons and w/out a microscope the best you can get it down to is like a handful of different species. If it is a brown algae, with forked branches, is not rigid, it is probably dictyota. Some species of Dictyota are desirable, you will be able to recognize them as they grow as one plant that branches out from one distinct holdfast. Removal would be very simple. Nuisance species of Dictyota, (pretty much all the iridescent sp.) stay shorter and creep along the rock. Their branches form straight from the rock, and there is no trunk like feature to the algae, or easily discernible holdfast.

    Manual Removal - Difficult. Qting the rock in an extended dark cycle is the best way. It spreads fast, you may want to jump on it. If that isn't possible, take a dental pick and scrape off every inch of holdfast you can. Get it all the first time and be done with it. At the least get it down to its minimum so the cleaners can polish it off.

    Clean Up Crew- Emerald Crabs (best bet here), Sea Hares, some Turbos, Chitons, Limpets, Tangs, Urchins, will pick at it, but it is likely to persist, but at least it will be controlled.

    Why it happened - You didn't quarantine, and you have available nutrients for it.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    John's Tip - Under the right lighting it can take on amazing bright blue and green colors. It is a matter of light refraction, more than the health of the species but that also plays a part.

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    Chondria:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Scientific Description: Species in this genus look like translucent red plants cylindrical plants with irregular branching. They make stick to the rocks only like Chondria repens, or they can brach and are bushier like Chondria minutula. The important thing in identification is look how the "branches" have smaller branches

    Manual Removal - Somewhat Difficult. Macros that have fragile runners and creep along the rock are the hardest to manually remove. Get the holdfast, if you miss it get it with tweezers or a dental pick, etc...

    Clean Up Crew- Just manually remove. If it is a too much of it, then emerald crabs, larger hermits, urchins, etc...

    Why it happened - You didn't quarantine, and you have available nutrients for it.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    John's Tip - Easier to remove than gelidium, but it has similar features, including a holdfast that will creep along the rocks to some degree.
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    Caulerpa Racemosa:


    [​IMG]


    Scientific Description- green macro algae with grape like features. It grows from a runner, and the plants sprout up. Highly variable, those variations that creep along the rock are the worst.

    Manual Removal -If you are going to manually remove it, use a dental pick to make sure you get every last bit of runner removed.

    Clean Up Crew- Emerald Crabs (an overall good choice), Sea Hares (Advanced Aquarists only with minimal intakes in the tank), Tangs, Urchins, some Turbos, Chitons, Limpets,...

    Why it happened - You didn't quarantine, and you have available nutrients for it Or you bought it on some bad advice, or were willing to take a challenge and it back fired. This is is the on nuisance algae that is pretty commonly sold.

    Starving it out - Use a phosban reactor or a macro like chaeto to take down phosphate. If you have a nitrate problem too, you can add more live rock or rubble to the tank, do some more wcs, add macro, add dsb, etc...

    John's Tip - Caulerpa racemosa in all its forms is invasive. Its runner is too fragile to practically prune and it can be a frustrating problem. If you like the look of grape caulerpa, try Caulerpa cupressoides var. lycopodium. It carries the same risks as other caulerpas, but its strong sturdy holdfast makes pruning easy.

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    All for now, I will keep getting at it when I get some more picture permissions. Feel free to help me out by sending pics of pest algae.


    I owe the authors of every photo a credit, I didn't take a single picture. They were all given by the members on this and other hobbyist forums on the internet. I didn't ask the authors for permission to use their name or likeness in this post, only the right to the image so names have been excluded. I would prefer to credit them, and will get around to asking permission.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2009
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  3. coral reefer

    coral reefer Giant Squid

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    Thanks John! Good to have a picture since it is as good as a 1000 words and ways of reducing or even eliminating these microalgae nuisances.
     
  4. 1st time

    1st time Purple Spiny Lobster

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  5. swagger87

    swagger87 Zoanthid

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    Thanks John! Karma to you love! ^_~
     
  6. RHorton

    RHorton Pajama Cardinal

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    can anybody tell me what kind of alge grows on the back of the fuzzy chiton? it looks like moss.
     
  7. =Jwin=

    =Jwin= Tassled File Fish

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    And the moral of this story is, get a phosban reactor or a fuge. Plain and simple :D

    And the fuzzy chiton actually does grow a moss. I don't believe it is a type of algae. They'd look cooler not fuzzy though...maybe. Haha
     
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  9. RHorton

    RHorton Pajama Cardinal

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    well I figured since snails will eat it off there back that it is some kind of algae.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2009
  10. johnmaloney

    johnmaloney 3reef Sponsor

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    Really? People tend to love the fuzzy. I think I can do it both ways. It is funny that stuff is what they farm in the wild, (like 6 different types of filamentous algae, which did yours have?), will immediately eat it off a rock, but never off each other's back. 70 in a tank, and they still keep it. Put them in with a bunch blue legs gone in 30 minutes. You can pick it off them it should come off in a bunch and it won't hurt them. I might have them both ways, I like them in full camo really.
     
  11. johnmaloney

    johnmaloney 3reef Sponsor

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    Thanks!
     
  12. kiarah

    kiarah Coral Banded Shrimp

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    wow i think im the winner when it comes to 'who has the most Crap Algea in there tank!' I have the lovely bryopsis & after reading this thread i have now realised i also have that red scap looking thing! oh the joy..... I have only been doing this 4-5 months & have to say im very stressed. I spent £380 pounds on live rock that was ment to be all ready to go (has been cured & and ment to be ok to go straight to tank) only to end up with no end off stress! I had the cyano which is the only thing i have managed to rid my tank off!
    Am so gutted i spent all that money on what was ment to be the best live rock!

    :bigcry: