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Algae Outbreak

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smacky View Drop Down
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    Posted: December 21 2010 at 7:32pm
I'm having a bit of an issue with nuisance algae that I'd like your help to get rid of.

Here are a few photos I've taken of the algae and the full tank.













And here's a couple terrible shots of the refugium and return of the sump. It's a small stand and the sump takes up all of it (I had to take the back apart to put the sump in). There's a lot of chaeto and also some caulerpa growing in it, as well as more LS and a lot of LR rubble.





My parameters are the following:

Temp: 78
SG: 1.025
Nitrate: 0
pH: 8.2
Alk: 10 dkh
Cal: 440
Phosphate: 0
Mag: 1200

Yesterday I went without light and food and LOTS of the algae went away/shrunk. I think that a big part if the problem is me getting the hang of target feeding the new sun coral. I'm going to move it to a spot where I can make better use of a small water bottle top to feed it without so much waste. I'll also cut back my photoperiod a bit to see how that works.

Is this diatoms? Is it something else? What else should I do to get this under control?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 21 2010 at 9:22pm
Boy I am glad you posted this.  I came on with the intention of posting this very same problem.  It is exactly the same as the problem I am having.  I have almost identical water parameters but I haven't been feeding much at all trying to get rid of it.  I have added almost 75 crabs and 35 cerith snail and at least 100 nassarius snails in an attempt to control it.  I have been fighting it for almost 2 weeks now with absolutely no luck!  I did a 35 gallon water change over the weekend in hopes of it making a difference, lightly vacuumed the sand bed and off the rocks as well.  At first I thought it was overfeeding, Rod's food nightly, really only a piece equivalent to 1 cube.  I have cut that back to only 2 or 3 times a week and it really just seems to be getting worse.  It is all over the corals and when I brush them off it looks like a really heavy slime.  HELP!!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote slivacki Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 21 2010 at 11:19pm
Using RODI? check water coming from that if you are and if your not get one will make life so much easier. The picture with the rock and algae growing and hanging off reminds me of my Cyano bacteria algae I had in my tank and what fixed it was more water movement.
Eugene
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote smacky Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 21 2010 at 11:28pm
I'm using RO but not DI water. Though I still want to check the TDS of the RO water, it comes from a Culligan dispenser at Wal Mart. I have thought about getting my own RO filter, but we'll be putting our home on the market in a few months and I think I just want to wait until then.

As far as flow goes, the algae is worst near my larger 1050 gph koralia. With that and the other powerheads and return, my flow is pretty high, for a 46 gallon tank, I think.


Edited by smacky - December 21 2010 at 11:29pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote slivacki Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 22 2010 at 12:08am
Well here recently I had a TDS spike of 1 from my RODI and caused a mass out break of algae. Another thing is if it from a shopping store their isn't now way know if every time you been their the water has been what you tested this time. A lot of those are only serviced maybe ever couple months. I would get yourself a RODI that screws on to a tap and drains in sink for now or get water from a local fish store. Most stores around here have fresh RODI and some even have Saltwater already mixed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 22 2010 at 8:46am
That algae is dinoflagellates. The algae strings may contain a little Cyanobacteria and Diatoms, but it is probably more than 90% Dinoflagallates. It's a condition of a newer tank like yours or an older tank that's acting like new. In time it may go away, but there are a few things that will help it disappear faster. Here are my suggestions:

- Walmart Water too dirty? - This is normally not a big deal but could be a contributor to the problem. Take some of that Walmart water and some empty buckets w/lids to Aquatica. Have them check the TDS and pick up some good RO water while you are there. If Walmart's water is over 20ppm they need to be told to get the unit serviced.
- Chaetomorpha in the Refugium - It has risen to the surface and has reached a point where it needs to be harvested. Move half of it to the display. Not only will that give it more room to grow and compete with the dinoflagellates but it will give something for the Tang to munch on and for other animals to hide in/around. Leave the Caulerpa alone if possible.
- Refugium light - Is it normally pointing straight down at the RefugiumQuestion It should be. Leave it on 24 hours/day for a while.
- Display lights - Leave them completely off for 2 days, then on for a day and if needed, off for another 2 days.
- Feeding - Stop all feeding for 3 days and feed half as much after that. Don't worry, the fish will survive. They will pick on the algae.
- Rock - I see a lot of what looks like LBTR or large Marco rock. How much LR is in this tank and where is it locatedQuestion It should be up higher so it can get more light.
- Snails - How many are thereQuestion
- LS - Find a hobbyist here with an old tank that has LS with lot's of worms and bugs. See if they will exchange up to a quart of their sand for some new clean sand and add that LS to your sand bed. Make a depression in the sand so that the new sand will grow both deep and shallow. Add the sand by setting the container down into the water and moving down until just over the depression before pouring it out.
Smile 

Since Dons is having the same problem and told us what he has done so far, here are some comments and suggestions:
"added almost 75 crabs, 35 cerith snails, 100 nassarius snails"
 Hermit Crabs are not as effective against algae as snails. Cerith Snails are not as effective as Astrea Snails and Margarita Snails. Nassarius are completely ineffective on algae, because they are detritus eaters only.
"35 gallon water change over the weekend in hopes of it making a difference"
Water changes are completely ineffective on algae problems because the algae is already eating up the Nitrogen and Phosphate in the water. A water change actually feeds algae, making it grow more.
"lightly vacuumed"
Removing the algae is a lot of effort for little gain because it just grows back quickly Ouch
"overfeeding"
That's what started it so it's good that feeding has been reduced
Thumbs Up
"2 weeks now with absolutely no luck!"
You are in luck now. We can help Smile
"just seems to be getting worse... heavy slime.  HELP!!!"
You have come to the right place. Follow the suggestions above and if after a week the algae is still a problem let us know. In the meantime, feel free to do like Smacky did; post pics of the system (display and sump/Refugium) and give us a few more details like:
size,
age,
filtration,
fish list and
approximate number and types of snails.


I hope both of you will please let us know how it goes. There is more we can suggest if needed.


Edited by Mark Peterson - December 22 2010 at 9:20am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 22 2010 at 10:24am
Thanks for all the responses, I love the format of this board.  I will post some pictures when I get home tonight as well as all the parameters and totals of the inhabitants.  I do use RO/DI water and noticed that my TDS are currently right around 10.  I guess it might be time to change out the DI  granules in the filter.

I did notice an increase after the water change Mark.  I think I may need some more Chaeto down under but will make a better posting when I get home and look forward to any comments.  Thanks Smacky for letting me piggy back on your post.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote slivacki Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 22 2010 at 12:12pm
Ok one thing is once you see a spike from your DI unit the weaker charged ions that have been caught in DI are now being released. Normally that will be the stuff that attaches to the anion resin like phosphate, nitrate, ect. When you do a water change or top off of the tank you are adding extra nutrients from your DI filter causing it to spike up causing more growth.
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http://www.idahoreefs.org
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote smacky Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 22 2010 at 3:34pm
I've made the change to the fuge and the chaeto that you suggested. And I'm day 2 into no lights

There is about 70 pounds of Marco and LBTR in the tank now. I'll start thinking about how it can be rearranged to raise it up higher.

I've probably got about 30 snails or so, it's been a few months, so I think it might be time to buy a few more.

I'll put up a post on classifieds to get some LS from an established tank.


Edited by smacky - December 22 2010 at 3:41pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 24 2010 at 10:15am
Sorry for the lack of any post the last couple of days and the promised pictures, work has just been crazy.  I too am into the second day of no lights and cutting back on the feeding.  I still need to put in some more chaeto, I guess I will need to break down and buy some at this point.  I went up to fish 4 u to pick up some live rock because the majority of what I have in the tank is just LBTR but they weren't open yet when I was there so I will have to try for today. 

The tank actually doesn't look as bad anymore with just the lights being off but I will continue the other things to make sure it doesn't come back. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 24 2010 at 10:55am
I can give you some Chaeto.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote smacky Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 24 2010 at 1:01pm
I've changed the rockwork a bit and it's up a bit higher now. I dumped half of the chaeto, then took half of what was remaining and stuck it in the display tank. I think I'm going to look for some prettier caulerpa or something to be a permanent feature in the DS.

Mark, you mentioned the caulerpa floating to the top, I'm having trouble keeping it from floating. There aren't tons of bubbles, but they accumulate and make the chaeto more buoyant. The caulerpa has attached to rocks, so it's not at the top.

Is the chaeto floating like that a concern?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vadryn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 24 2010 at 3:27pm
The biggest concern I would have is the Chaeto blocking your overflow.  Otherwise I don't think it's a big deal.  Your Yellow Tang will like it...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 24 2010 at 3:43pm
Thanks Mark I really appreciate it.  I will try to give you a call later today after we get done with all the running around, unless it's too late.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote smacky Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 24 2010 at 4:47pm
It's only floating in the refugium, the chaeto in the DS is wedged into some rocks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 25 2010 at 10:31am
Set a small rock on it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote smacky Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 25 2010 at 10:23pm
I love simple solutions!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 27 2010 at 7:02pm
Well this has been quite a Christmas experience!  I spent most of the day Christmas day in the hospital after tearing a muscle in my back and pinching the sciatic nerve.  Needless to say I haven't gotten much done on the tank except reset the timers for the recommend time that Mark gave us.  I have cut back on feeding, more because I just cant get up and down the stairs too easy right now.  I came downstairs today to park myself on the couch and got to look a the tank for a little while.  I turned the lights on while down there and the tank is really starting to look a lot better.  I still need to get more chaeto in it but I think I have turned the corner.  I hope that my corals will come back too it's mainly things like the frog spawn and the pulsing xenia that have really suffered the most.  Now if my back will just do as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote xlr8r Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 27 2010 at 11:31pm
That bites the big one! Take it easy and get healed up. Not that tearing muscles is a good thing, but now you have an excuse to just sit and stare at your tank. I find mine somewhat theraputic.
 
I hope that both of you guy's tanks are over coming the algea. I'm in sort of a small algea battle myself. Little tufts of it on the sand here and there. I'm in the process of the cure as we speak. I feel reduced feeding is the main ingredient. I seems to be working but a replenishment of the CUC is in the works! Good Luck!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 28 2010 at 8:47am
I'd be Big smile to deliver some Chaeto. Let me know.
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