Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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FishFan 08-19-2007 11:00 PM

RED ALERT! Red Algae Trouble!
My tank has been up and running for a month and finished cycling. For the last week or so, I've been fighting the battle of Red Algae! Cynobacteria is coming in red and then turning black on my live sand and some of my base rock. The stuff doesn't seem to be affecting a large 11 lbs. live rock that I have, but laying all over the base rock and sand. I've blasted it with a turkey baster to loosen it up and also tried to vacuum it with a standard suction vacuum (without much luck I might add, just not strong enough to pull it off the sand). Seems like it's just too tough to suction out via this method. My "blasting" with a turkey baster method is also probably just moving the stuff around and not doing anything at all. I turn my lights on the 55 gallon FOWLR tank around 7:30 AM and don't turn it off until around 11:00 PM, so the lights are on all day. My filtration system is a standard Aquatech, dual charcoal insert filter. Lights are also standard, soon to change to 2 50/50s. I have only 2 small fish, a clown and a damsel and a large red hermit crab and a peppermint shrimp. I've been feeding these critters 3 times a day, each time only 2 slivers of frozen shrimp preparation and a pinch of tropical fish flake food, and a couple of shrimp pellets to keep the inverts happy. Water parameters are as follows:

Constant 78 Degrees
PH 8.2
Salinity 1.022
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 5-10 PPM

I've been thinking of getting a small powerhead and stationing it at the other end of the tank from the filtration system just to move the water a little quicker in hopes that this would deter the red stuff.

Any help here would be greatly appreciated. Any suggestions are welcome.!

jsm11482 08-20-2007 10:16 AM

I don't have a sw tank but seems like 15.5hrs of light is a lot. I think people usually do about 12hrs per day.

FishFan 08-20-2007 11:10 AM

Thanks, that may be part of the problem.


caferacermike 08-20-2007 04:51 PM

Cyano is actually more of a bacteria than an algae. We do all call it algae as it seems so much like it. Cyano is more of a product of waste degradation and not photosynthesis, hence the red and not green color. Red plants need seriously bright light to thrive, cyano needs rotting material to cover and propogate on while it eats away at it. You've got the standard salt water woes my friend, we all go through this from time to time. I'd think about cutting back on the feedings or do more and larger water changes/and or get a quality skimmer to remove the excess nutrients. That being said, you can still have issues with cyano due to stagnant water. For a 55g I'd plan on getting to Koralia 2 or 3's, or possibly Seio M620's. I used to preach the Seios until Hydor perfected the Koralia line. Now for $10 more you get a much better unit from Koralia. The extra water movement will prevent slow water areas that Cyano thrives in. Don't worry to much as even experienced reefers have trouble with it. I was good for over a year until my corals grew so large as to block the path from my streams, this allowed cyano to take hold in areas behind my corals.

Clean water such as that from skimming, phosphate reactors, and water changes + high flowing powerheads like Tunze Streams, Hydor Koralia, and Seio units will help to clear up the problem.

FishFan 08-20-2007 06:10 PM

Thanks Mike,

So, in short, do you think me cutting back on the amount of "lights on" time and a decent powerhead should help me start to eliminate this red crap? I hate it so much, it makes my beautiful sand look gray or black in places. I read somewhere that an Emerald Mithrax Crab would eat the stuff. Any truth in that and if so, would I be able to have them live in harmony with a 2.5-3" red hermit crab? Afraid the hermit would look at the much smaller Mithrax and think of lunch.

Also, any suggestions on vacuums to get this off my sand and base rock?

Thanks a lot.

caferacermike 08-20-2007 06:34 PM

Any gravel vac should remove it during water changes. I don't think you'll ever really find a critter to eat the stuff. I would only cut back on the lighting because there is really no need for it to be on that long. Adjust it to your schedule. Mine runs from about 11:00 am until about 10:00pm. I seriously doubt cutting back the light will cause the bacteria to recess, it's not a real algae. Adding more flow is the best option besides water quality issues.

Are you running a good skimmer? a refugium? any filtration? Try running a phos reactor and frequent media changes or add a lot of carbon to your current canister filter to help remove nutrient that feeds the cyano.

FishFan 08-20-2007 08:08 PM

Filtration is an Aqua Tech dual power filter with the typical carbon insert filters. It works wonderful and the water is in pretty good shape, no cloudiness or murkiness, very clear.

As for the vacuum, I do use a gravel vac and the thing just can't pull up the red/black cyanobateria off the live sand I have. I can get a little of it at a time w/a turkey baster, but not enough. Doesn't do a very good job IMO, just shuffles it around and buries it in the live sand.

With the amount of critters in the tank so far, should I really only feed them once a day? I feed them now 2 or sometimes 3 times.

FishFan 08-24-2007 10:36 PM

Foster & Smith state that a Halloween Hermit will eat the cyanobacteria and I was wondering if I purchased one, would it be able to get along with the large red Hermit that I already have? Plenty of room in a 55 gallon I think, but wouldn't want to purchase anything that would fight all the time.

caferacermike 08-25-2007 06:32 AM

They mention it as a side item. It is not stated as factual. If they were sure of it and were really proud of that fact (since every reefer has this problem) it would be it's own sentence and heck probably bold faced print.

Using a hermit to control algae or cyano is like using duct tape to fix a leaky pipe. You still have leaky pipe, just now it's covered in duct tape. Eventually you'll get tired of repairing the duct tape and finally fix the pipe. Do as you please, or you could just go straight to the source and correct it.

Why not take a long time and read as much about Cyano as you possibly can and fully understand what it takes to grow it out, then correct the problems in your tank to get rid of the problem instead of looking for stop gaps?

FishFan 08-25-2007 11:08 AM

Keep in mind, my tank is basically FOWLR for now (and possibly forever). Just can't stand the look of the grayish black live rock and sand. I've been reading on it. Not wanting the crab as a stop gap, but as part of an overall solution (along with water changes, and a power head). Sort of a 3 pronged attack on the cyano, so to speak.

Just wondering if anyone had a behavior issue w/red hermits and Halloween variety (don't want to throw the money up a hog's rear if you get me).

Thanks for the info.

Anyone ever deal with the Halloween Crab?

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