Serious algae problem? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
 
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post #1 of 5 Old 03-29-2015, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
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Serious algae problem?

In my nano reef, I have green hair algae, red hair algae, cyano, bubble algae, turf algae, you name it.. it covers the rocks, the equipment, the glass, even snail shells... my CUC is huge, I have TONS of cerith snails and a few nerite snails, as well as several green leg hermit crabs, and large numbers of copepods that cover the glass. My nitrates and phosphates are under control, I tap off with water that is free of them, I even have macroalgae (chaeto and ulva sea lettuce) that's supposed to compete with the algae but doesn't. I skim aggressively, scrub the glass when it gets bad, and I run two HOB filters with phosphate removers and carbon. I've been reducing lighting and feedings, but I don't want to do that too much. I can't find the source of the food for the algae besides frozen food, but even going without it for couple days doesn't seem to have an effect. What to do? I don't want to use algaecides in the tank because I don't think they are reef safe, even if they claim to be, and my tank is relatively young, so I don't want to remove any live rock. Are there any critters that aggressively eat algae?! No tangs because it is only a 20 long. Has anyone had experience with lettuce nudibranchs? Mexican turbo snails? I don't want astrea snails because they flip over and can't get back up.
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post #2 of 5 Old 03-30-2015, 11:41 AM
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Are you using R.O. water to do your water changes and top offs? Many tap waters contain all sorts of undesirable trace elements, possible nutrients, and other chemicals.Even store bought water from a machine may have some Total Dissolved Solids. You can probably ask the place you get your source water from if they have a TDS reading or at the very least an idea if when they have changes to filter membranes on the water purification units. TDS meters are pretty inexpensive now.

What are your parameters? Many people just say , they are fine, or ,spot on, and this is frustrating to some one who is trying to help as these are not numbers to go off of. Even PH and Magnesium play a role in controlling a marine environment. When nitrates\phosphates are not present in the readings but there is algaes in the tank then it is clear that the nutrients are present they are just converted into the form of algae.

It could even be your rocks. If they were base rock there is some that is quarried from places that phosphates have leached into the rock, once back into water the phosphates can slowly leach back out and give them a hair algae coating. This usually only happens on the actual phosphate leaching rocks so if it is on everything and there are different forms then there are other things in play.

Do you have enough flow for your tank? Stagnant areas will for nutrient wells that algae can get more growth out of not to mention many types do not fare as well under higher flow such as cyano bacteria. Are you rinsing your filter media every day or two? The accumulation of organics will just break down and create more nutients AKA Algae. Also your media will become exhausted rather quickly if it is trying to deal with an excessive amount of organics or breaking down plant matter.

The best option right now may be to make up a large amount of salt water, do a good water change into a few buckets, take the bad rock out and scrub them gently with a brand new tank only kitchen dish brush, rinse then put back into the tank. At this point you will want top change filters and put in new media and clean the media\filters every day for the next few days, then check levels and possibly perform another water change at the end of the week.

The turf algae can be a big problem too as it does not die easily and not much eats it, did it come in on live rock? You may need to resort to hydrogen peroxide.Or getting the rock out before it spreads to adjacent rocks, I am battling it in my main tank and I have been trying kalkwasser with some effect.


As far as clean up crew I like to find the source problem first then assess what would be best. As you have found simply adding more animals to the tank will not always pan out. I do like turbo snails but as you know they are extremely clumsy as are urchins but both eat alot of algae. Lettuce nudibranch and the sea hare are both great algae eating creatures but once the algae is gone they will waste away to death without being re homed, you must also protect them form intakes of filters and circulation pumps as they have a nack for finding them and getting mortally wounded form the suction or impeller. I do like algae\lawnmower blennies and Stary blennies...Oh and Holloween zebra hermits, the ones with the cone shaped shell.

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post #3 of 5 Old 03-30-2015, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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I don't use RO water, I use distilled, but it's not tap water. I haven't had algae problems with this water before and I've always used it in my aquariums. Really this started with upgrading my lighting system. :/
The rock is base rock, so there's that possibility. But my tank is only 4 months old, I don't want to possible diminish my now live rock by scrubbing it.
Parameters are
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0-<.5
Calcium ~420
Magnesium ~1490
pH 8.3
Alkalinity 10 dkH
Phosphates 0.03 ppm
Salinity 1.025

And I know that algae blooms are normal for a new tank, but this one seems a bit out of control. I've had several aquariums and it's never been like this..

I have moderate flow. I have some daisy polyps that don't really like high flow :/ and it's such a shallow tank it's hard to have high flow places and low flow places. Maybe if I can get a gentle power head I'll direct it towards the rocks and see if that helps.

I'll look into the algae blennies. I don't want any more hermit crabs; they are getting way too big and they kill my snails.
Thanks for your help!
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post #4 of 5 Old 03-30-2015, 10:34 PM
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The small blue leg hermit crabs are a good one to go with as they tend to be the least likely to cause any harm. The Mexican red legs have an appetite for debersia hair algae as do the Orange zebra hermits wit the cone shells. These in my experience are all hermits that are not too prone to killing snails and are reef safe, I have some of the green hermits and they get larger and seem like they are mobile and more capable of hunting.Turbo snails have a large operculum covering their opening when they get startled wich also makes them desirable if you happen to have feisty fish or crabs.

Another good product to use is the redsea NO POX, just follow the instructions and start slower than fast. It is a more controlled form of carbon dosing that I have seen help eradicate trace amounts of nitrates and phosphates all naturally. Just a thought I had just incase you are wanting to look into an alternative.

...........
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post #5 of 5 Old 03-30-2015, 10:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by badxgillen View Post
The small blue leg hermit crabs are a good one to go with as they tend to be the least likely to cause any harm. The Mexican red legs have an appetite for debersia hair algae as do the Orange zebra hermits wit the cone shells. These in my experience are all hermits that are not too prone to killing snails and are reef safe, I have some of the green hermits and they get larger and seem like they are mobile and more capable of hunting.Turbo snails have a large operculum covering their opening when they get startled wich also makes them desirable if you happen to have feisty fish or crabs.

Another good product to use is the redsea NO POX, just follow the instructions and start slower than fast. It is a more controlled form of carbon dosing that I have seen help eradicate trace amounts of nitrates and phosphates all naturally. Just a thought I had just incase you are wanting to look into an alternative.
I think I've found my problem. My Hanna checker was showing me 0.03 ppm on phosphates, but as soon as I checked with a Salifert test kit it showed 0.63 ppm! I changed my filter media, started skimming more heavily, and did a big water change. Hopefully this helps. If not, I'll look into the crabs and no pox. Thanks again :)
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