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What cleaners should I get for my tank?

This is a discussion on What cleaners should I get for my tank? within the Coral and Reef Creatures forums, part of the Advanced Saltwater Discussion category; --> Originally Posted by FishFan Hey Gump, I have a large (2.5-3 inch) red hermit crab in my tank now and was wondering...would this big ...

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What cleaners should I get for my tank?
Old 08-19-2007, 08:40 AM   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FishFan
Hey Gump,

I have a large (2.5-3 inch) red hermit crab in my tank now and was wondering...would this big red, polka-dotted, hairy legged crab attack a snail smaller than himself? I, thought their main purpose for attacking snails was for their shell, but his shell would be sooo much bigger than the typical small snails.

What do you think?
Yes it would. Some smaller crabs will pull snails out of their shells to use it but if the big crab can make an easy meal out of the snail it will. They also eat soft corals.
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Old 08-19-2007, 09:28 AM   #12
 
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I'll bet if you had checked your PO4 levels using Merck test kit you'd have been very surprised at how high your phos actually was. Most home test kits, and those at your lfs, are just for general readings. In fact most Phos tests cannot read to the lowest point necessary, basically if they show ANY PO4 you've already got an out of control phosphate level. They work great for tracking a tank over time and giving a reference point but are not laboratory grade tests. Brands like Salifert, Tunze, and Merck are not generally done for free as each test would usually cost $2 or more, that's per Trite, Amm, Trate, Pos, CA, Alk.. To use these tests it could easily cost $20 per batch.

So let me compare an algae bloom to a fire and to your yard.

If a fire is started from simple ignition source it will burn. If there is not enough combustibles nearby the fire will quickly burn out.

So your ignition point is the new brighter lighting. In a normal system the few excess nutrients (combustibles in the fire) would be quickly used and the algae (fire) would run it's course using up the available nutrients to create algaes.

If you add an accelerant to the fire, think petrol, the fire rages out of control.

What do we always complain about as hobbyists? When our algae runs out of control. What makes algae grow quickly? Excessive nutrients. Like the fire you can have a small algae problem but without the nutrients (petrol) it will quickly use itself up and go away. Remove the petrol source and the fire comes back under control. You can still have the ignition source (lighting) without a fire once all the combustibles (nutrients) are used up.


And your yard.

Does a yard grow a lush beautiful green without any attention at all? No. Will a yard continue to produce results with only sun and water? No. Once the grass begins to grow it uses up the nutrients from the ground. When we mow people tend to rake and throw the clippings away (think refugium), this in turn physically removes the nutrients and minerals from the ground that were once blades of grass. Over much time the mineral and nutrient composition of the yard are thus compromised to the point that we must add FERTILIZERS back into the soil to keep the yard looking nice. Without the fertilizers the yard starves to death. What you say? Algae and grass live on photosynthesis alone? Wrong. Algae and grasses use photosynthesis to process the nutrients it absorbs into the simple sugars it uses to grow and reproduce. Once you remove the fertilizer one point along the chain is broken and will prevent your yard from looking well until you add the fertilizers back. So now you ask what are fertilizers? Fertilizers consist of PO4, ammonia, and Nitrates. We spend a lot of our time as hobbyists battling all 3 of those products. Have you ever watered your plants using old water from a freshwater tank? Wow it makes plants and grasses grow like gang busters (think to yourself as adding petrol to a fire, what happens there?). Now that we positively know that Phos and nitrAtes cause photosynthetic organisms to grow out of hand it is much easier to see where the algae problems come from.

On one quick note if the problem of the original poster was a brown slimy algae on the glass you have excess silica in your water. Same as before, if you clean your source water the diatomaceous algae spores will quickly use up the available "food" until it dies off. Same theory we are applying to all algae.

There is a chain here that if you remove a piece of it, algae will not produce. Lighting and nutrients work hand in hand. If you can remove the excess nutrients then you can run high wattage lighting without fear of an algae problem. That is fact. It is as much a fact that you can have a continuous spark, or ignition source, without having a fire so long as there is no combustible. Remove the food and the algae dies. Same with the lighting, if the lighting was previously underpowered you could have tons of excess nutrients because the algae has reached a saturation point, a point where it can only process so much nutrients so quickly due to the limiting factor of the lighting. So add higher powered lighting to a tank full of TrAtes and PO4 and just like that the algae will play catch up since ALL it's needs are being met.

This is the same theory applied to how many fish can we add to our tanks. If our biological filtration has "X" amount of bacteria on it's surface and has pleasantly been processing wastes for a period of time that was sufficient and we decide to add another fish, it will take time for the bacteria to play catch up. So we add another load to the system and the bacteria bloom within our filters. During this time we are adding more wastes onto the display tank because the filter cannot process the waste, what we call a mini cycle. Once the bacteria levels colonize the substrate and level off with the new bio-load the problem goes away and in theory if parameters are met, Trite, Am, and Trate will quickly fall in line. However if the bio-load is to high the bacteria will never catch up and the wastes will accumulate in the display.

Everything we do is a balancing act.

So what can we do?

Here is a list to check yourself against.

1.) Use high quality RO/DI water for every water change or top off. Any water that goes into your reef or "algae free" tank should always be that pure. By limiting your source water you can then target the tank itself for potential problems.

2.) Use a more efficient skimmer.

3.) Clean your filtration more often. If you have a canister filter clean it bi-weekly if possible.

4.) Do more frequent and larger water changes.

5.) May need to cut down on the feedings.

If it is truly bad you may need some of this to conquer the problem. These items are stop-gaps. Not everybody needs them all or even all the time. When the problem goes away and husbandry skills improve these items may not need to be used ever again.

6.) An ozone generator to bind proteins to scavenger O3 molecules that can easily be scrubbed from the water by a good skimmer.

7.) A UV sterilizer to kill free floating algal spores, thereby reducing their abilities to spread.

8.) A phosphate reactor using ferric oxides to strip the water of PO4.

9.) Add a refugium to grow and harvest algae away from the main display tank.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So yeah that's why I never blame the light, I blame the current state of the tank.

Some may say that the lighting spectrum plays a role, it does. If you have old 10K bulbs they may be producing 8K or less. This dips into the realm where algae thrive better than higher organisms. But again if there is no food to process, no amount of photosynthesis will allow the algae to grow. Lower spectrum lighting in a proper set up will cause corals to grow so fast as to strip the water clean of nutrients and therefore the coral will grow faster than algae can reproduce, thereby preventing it's growth. Slip up as a hobbyist and miss one important part and limit the growth of the coral and BAM the table will turn for the worst and the algae will over take the stunted coral, in reality the coral no longer synthesizes the nutrients and the algaes will. I've seen several frag grow out tanks of 125g or larger using a method of 8K lighting for amazing growth, the frags are then removed to a tank with 14K-20K lighting to create the intense colors.

So again a clean tank is a manageable tank.
The more you know, the easier it is.
And as always, do more water changes.
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Old 08-19-2007, 11:46 AM   #13
 
algae bloom

well said...i cant dispute any off the points you made and i dont know the phosphate levels of the original posters water...as for mine i dont have a merk test kit and did in fact test myself and at the lfs with perfect water quality...i also use a phosphate removing material in a mesh bag as part of my filtration in fact i use one in my filter and one in my outflow on the fuge...and all of that being said it was easier to adjust my photo period within the limits of my tank inhabitants to reduce photosynthesis allowing for things to balance out. this worked for me ... and im honestly asking you with no disrespect intended how?
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Old 08-19-2007, 01:02 PM   #14
 
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Re: algae bloom

Quote:
Originally Posted by novicedave
and im honestly asking you with no disrespect intended how?
Huh? Disrespect for who and why? You are not very clear what you are implying. Are you implying that I felt disrespect from you, which is untrue. I only meant to clarify and give a deeper understand of the balance of light to nutrient content for algal growth. Or are you saying I'm disrespecting you. Again I'm unclear due to the incomplete sentence from above.

And as I mentioned a balance for the tank to nutrients, lighting, bioload algae growth you mentioned a lessened photoperiod to lessen the algal growth. That may have worked but is not a complete understanding for the growth and not a true management of the system. I'm trying to say that you can indeed run a long photoperiod if the water parameters are correct. I'm not going to debate you publicly about how inaccurate test kits really are, so I'll try to "believe" you about your absolutely perfect water chemistry that all my advanced reef friends struggle to maintain even close to perfect. But I assure you the longer you are in the hobby the more outlandish that statement will sound to you as well. As a guide I run 11 watts of direct 14K halide lighting over a 75g tank for 10 hours a day and do not have an algae explosion. You mention having phosban in a mesh bag. Where? You can't just float it. It needs to be in a direct forced stream of water such as a TLF reactor with about 200GPH flow. Ferric Oxide in a bag placed in the flow of water will only absorb from the exterior surface area as the water will only flow around and not through. Have you performed several water changes since administering the phosban? I want to explain the next step. As you lessen the nutrient load given to the algae (phosban) the algae dies. That algae will quickly "spoil" phosban making it necessary to replace it even sooner. BTW Ferric Oxide and aluminum oxide products need to be replaced weekly or they just leech everything back into the water once they become saturated. So now you have this dying algae spoiling your media faster than ever. The dead algae becomes a food source for new algae, thus the cycle begins anew. And on and on and on. So when treating for an infestation you need to plan on replacing any phos media every 3 days or so since it will quickly degrade with the dead algae it collects, large water changes every other day using RO/DI water to help manually remove the excess detritus from the dead algae.

This is also very true for anyone treating an infestation using a lessened photo period. There was recently an excellent article written about how natural reefs only receive 72 days of direct sunlight, other than that there are storms, clouds and odd reflections due to the angle of the surface to the angle of the sun at odd times of the year. So a well respected professional reefer did light experiments using controlled algae ridden tanks to see what would happen if he with held light for 3 days each month. What he found was that a darkened period for 3 days each month would significantly kill of algae with little recourse towards the inhabitants including corals. In a few of the tanks he did water changes the day before the experiment and immediately after the experiment small frequent water changes to manually remove the dead/dying algae and defensive sexual reproduction of new spores. In the other tanks he did nothing but turn off the lights. In the tanks that the water changes occurred within 3 months the algae had almost completely recessed, in the other tanks it would go away for a few days but then feeding freely on the nutrients come back as bad or worse.

Keep in mind that as reef keepers we artificially up our lighting for extreme coral growth and our viewing pleasures, nobody wants a reef tank with the lights on low for 280 days out of each year. It is thereby our responsibility to keep the water as near to ideal as possible. Cleaner organisms are not meant to be used as algae eaters. The entire idea of a "clean up crew" is to mop up any excess foods, dead animals or to process excessive nutrient loads into lesser evils. Some of the critters may in turn eat a small portion of the algae in the tank as part of their diet but adding 20 Mexican turbo snails into the tank to eat the algae is counter productive. Doing so only ups your bio-load. Sure they will mow down the algae quickly but then you now have the wastes from 20 large snails adding pollutants to the water. Now that some of the snails have died from lack of food or stresses from the raised parameters you now get an even worse algae explosion because you have quickly thrown your tank way out of balance trying to find that "quick cure".

As always you get a lot farther in this hobby using patience, physical labor, and a thorough understanding of the balance going on in the tank.

For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action. You must fully prepare for and understand the reaction before starting with the initial action.

Again Dave no disrespect meant here. I'm just fully detailing what happens each and every time we meddle with our tanks. Please don't take me being able to fully detail and explain these processes as me making an attempt to intimidate you or any others out there reading this. Just shooting for a good understanding of the all the processes that work together for a low maintenance and enjoyable hobby.
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Old 08-19-2007, 02:01 PM   #15
 
misunderstanding

to clarify i appreciate your fervor shown by your detailed answers and i only wanted to make sure you did not think i was being direspectful to you in questioning you on your position....ive dabbled in marine aquariums several times over the years but had stop due to circumstances(relocating,military,and so on) so i would consider myself only a novice as my name indicates . i understand completely what your saying it makes sense so the only thing i can come up with is that i was lucky the bloom has ended and not returned


my phos ban is in a direct flow areas(changed once a month)
i perform water changes every 2 weeks(10gal)
my photo period whas i had 40 watt florescence was about 14 hours
when i upgraded to 260 watts i ran the actinics for the same 14 hours and the daylights for 10
now i run the actinics for 10 hours and the day light for 8
i didnt change the timer when i changed the lighting
after the bloom started i changed the timer

again im not sure if i was lucky or made he right adjustments but seems to be under control for now
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