Let's Talk About ~Algae Control~

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NaH2O

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Time for a new topic.....Algae Control. Everyone's been through it at one time or another, so let's hear methods to diagnose where the problem is coming from, and different means to help eradicate a current problem. What have you battled and how have you dealt with it?
 

reedman

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Mukilteo, WA
Great topic Nikki!

Cyano - increase flow
Hair - urchin, nudibranch, hand removal...still working on this one ;)
Halimeda - It won't go away, but hand removal will get most of it out
coraline - scrape it off
calurpa - hand removal and a good tang

If anyone has any further tips on the hair algae I'd love to hear them

Most of the control/prevention comes in the form of preventing nutrients from getting into the system. I make my own food, and use 100% RO/DI water for top off. To remove what is in the system (because there will always be some in the system) I use a good skimmer running a little wet and some phosban in the reactor. I tried the chaeto route, but it just didn't do much for me in my setup. It does work well for others to out compete algaes in the main tank. Primary thing is to keep detritus in suspension and remove it via skimming.
 

Llarian

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Seattle, WA
Despite feeding my tank nearly nothing, I had a massive valonia problem for a while. I managed to get most of it off by cleaning the rock outside the tank, but it kept coming back.

Adding a single mithrax crab seems to have eliminated it completely. I've never had issues with any other kinda of algae.

-Dylan
 

DonW

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I think the most commonly neglected part of algae control is water changes. If you starve it it will die, just that simple. If I could change 100% of my display water over the course of a week I would. For example I change 40% on saturday, I see die off all week until wed's and it starts to recover. This simply means that the 9000 gph turnover, power sucking beckett, ozone, uv filter, carbon and rowa cant keep up.
Having a shorter photo period also helps, especially just after a good water change. Having very clear water by some means of mechanical or chemical filtration (ozone, carbon and/or uv) allow your corals to do just fine under a shorter photoperiod.
Last but not least, I'm with Reed that using a well maintained RODI is essential. What I find odd is that we take purified water, put it in a big trash can then we add salt, P and what ever else is it that bucket we got at the LFS. Having a spare canister filter with carbon and rowa/phosban to be used as the mixing pump does a good job of removing the unwanted junk from the salt mix.

Don
 

reedman

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Dylan remined me of the valonia. I got a foxface lo and he has pretty well beaten that flavor of algae.

I may have to try to shorter photo period as suggested by Don. Good idea there. And on the water changes, I definitely agree. The freshwater world changes 70-80% at a time (leaving enough water for the fish to be upright). Obviously this is not practical for a reef, but it does provide another advantage to a larger sump as you can change 100% of the sump water without lowering the main tank water level.
 
Joined
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seattle
i had some wicked cyano in my 10 for awhile...

removed as much as i could with my hands and a net ... and then let the lights stay off for one day... the next day .. nothing .. and has worked like a charm from then on..
 

Jiddy

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i tell you how i battle my algae, snails. I use RO/DI water, and did i mention Snails, and lots of them!
 

Krish

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I am the king of algae! I fought with cyno and hair algae for a long time on my last set up and it beat me. I rushed into things and I paid or them. Some things to keep in mind (unlike me) is (1)Always use ro/di water. If you can't get any on a day you are due for a water change, then wait...I'ts probably better. (2) Make sure your rock if fully cured and if possible it would be best to get all the rock at once and let it all cycle together. A friend of mine got 2 batches of rock at different times and everything was fine until he added the second. His rock was supposed to be cured and it wasn't. 2 days after he added it, his Nitrates went to 50ppm and everything died and now he's gone fresh! (3) If using frozen foods, make sure it is of good quality, and it's best to defrost and wash it out in ro/di water. You'll be surprised at what gets into your tank day after day if defrosting in regular tap water. (4) Make sure your bulbs are changed regularly so that the spectrum light doesn't diminish over time. (5) Make use a phosphate remover like a phosban reactor. (6) UV sterilizer helps
(7) Make sure you got some really good flow. Detritus settling on the rocks is a big no no. (8) Regular water changes to replenish the tank and (9) DO NOT use a wet/dry if you are going reef...Nitrate factory! I could have been a millionare if the stuff was worth anything!
Almost all of the above I'm guilty of. How did I get rid of the algae? Well, I scrubbed all of the rocks did a 100% water change and it came right back. No sense putting the rock back in if it is loaded with nitrates and nitrates are still in the system. So I tore it all down let all the rock die off out in the sun and now, 7 months later, I'm trying my luck again a little better equipped thanks to the help of Reeffrontiers!
 

DonW

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Jiddy said:
i tell you how i battle my algae, snails. I use RO/DI water, and did i mention Snails, and lots of them!
Just remember they have a in hole and a out hole thus supplimenting new algae growth. You still need to get it out to the sewer.

Don
 

steve-s

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Vancouver, BC
First and foremost limit/eliminate the introduction of the fuel sources. Failing that, dilution & export.

Cheers
Steve
 

jlehigh

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Kirkland/Juanita
Folks have done a good job hitting the tried and true strategies for reducing algae namely by reducing Phosphates. I would like to ask the impossible... I only know it is impossible because I have asked is over and over (seemingly)

Keeping Zoox algae levels down within SPS corals (rather striking a healthy balance). I have quite literally no visible algae in my tank other than Corraline but the Zooxanthellae algae on my SPS grow like crazy blocking the purdier coloration of my corals... I have some corals that have incredible coloration (Gomezi Blue, Pink Milli, Purple Stag, Bright green Humilis to name a few) while others "brown-out"...

I know it's the bigger uglies you guys are mostly addressing here, but I would much rather battle those since they are more tangable fights in my eyes..

Things I do to minimize PO4:
RODI only!!
Skim wet
Run Ozone with air/dryer
Soak frozen food in RODI then strain to feed
Feed only what can be consumed quickly
35Gal Water Change weekly with I/O
Where long plastic gloves as much as I have patience for
Carbon often

Of all of these things, Water Changes and Ozone contributed the most color benefit to my SPS. The only time I ever had visible Algae was just after trying a water change with Oceanic salt for which I had some Cyano and Hair Algae develope, all of which burned off within 5 weeks..
 

wrightme43

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bowling green ky
Microwave the rock in bleach water. If that doesnt work set it on fire with charcol starter fluid. Nothing works like that.
Oh you meant in the tank. LOL
Uhhhh polyfilters, purigen. rodi, good salt, water changes. quality lighting. tempreture control.
 

Ohgee

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NW Montana
I had fought hair algea for what seems like months and months. At first it was my fault due to using RO not DI then I fixed that. The growth slowed but didn't stop. Then I tried Phosban for a while, no real effect.

Finally got a new/used skimmer, and removed some of my rock to allow for better flow. I have almost no hair algea now :D It seemed to have disappeared over night.

All I can say is once again THANKS CHARLIE!!!!
 

plack

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Bothell ,WA
I have finally almost completely drained my tank over time from Oceanic and gone to Instant ocean. Yes it lowered and improved my algae problems and yes my calcium levels are significantly lower when making fresh mixed saltwater but better low than sky high :)
 

piercho

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Jul 1, 2003
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Bremerton WA
Algaes are as complexed and niched as corals. Some do very well with minimal nutrient sources, some in high, some at low N:p, some at high N:p, and lighting and flow are also important. Know what it is, what conditions it thrives in, how it propogates, and what grazes it, and you can control it. For an easy read Sprung's little Algae book is pretty good.

For my particular setup, with a filthy deep sand bed used to grow seagrass, an algae scrubber through which a large portion of the tank water circulates frequently and is more intensely lit than the tank is most effective. The idea is to move the algae growth to an ideal environment outside the tank. I don't recommend scrubbers to most reefers and obviously some people are able to control algae long-term with no sort of vegetative filter at all. But I shun any sort of blanket statement about what will work best to limit undesirable algae over 1-5-10 years for a given reef tank. Its very dependant on the dynamic of the whole setup and even what the the reefer believes/percieves will work.
 

Kensn

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Auburn, WA
Hey Nikki, I have a new type in my tank that must of hitched a ride from something I bought. I cannot find any info or pic on the web thus far, but I haven't tried all that hard either. It is grows fern like, very thin and bushy. I will try to post a pic tomorrow night. Sure would like some info on it since it has a couple of strongholds in the tank now.
 

Jiddy

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DonW said:
Just remember they have a in hole and a out hole thus supplimenting new algae growth. You still need to get it out to the sewer.

Don
For the most part you are correct, but they are better then pullin it by hand :badgrin:
 

NaH2O

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Jan 25, 2004
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Ken - does it look like this? Or does it grow more like a Caulerpa with fern like "leaves"? The "hitchhiking" algae is one reason I try desperately hard not to introduce any plugs or rocks from someone else's tank. Of course for some corals, that's near impossible, however, for SPS its easier. I've heard far too many stories about nasty algae coming by way of frag swap.




Hey - great conversation everyone. A few folks touched on what is important for algae to grow. By understanding this, then I feel approaching an algae problem becomes easier....however, can still be very very frustrating. N, P, and light all make up a good meal for algaes. By determining where the sources of N and P are, then you can reduce them, and hopefully starve out the algae. How can you figure that out? Testing :). Test the water column for Phosphates....come up zero or get a slight reading, time for more testing! Stick the syringe in the live rock near the algae growth (I use a turkey baster and transfer the water to a cup), and test the water from there. If you get a higher reading than the water column, then you have found your source. You can do the same with a sandbed. What I did was make a divot in the sand with the turkey baster, and then sucked the water up into the turkey baster. This water was placed in a cup, then used the syringe to get the appropriate amount of water......then complete the test. Also, test your pre-mixed salt water, your sump, refugiums, any top-off containers. Someone mentioned this already, but soaking your foods in RO/DI will help wash away the sodium phosphates. Be sure to discard that water before the food is added to the tank. You can also use the testing methods above for nitrates, which can also help pinpoint the source. One frustrating point.....if the algae is utilizing all available N and P, then you won't get a positive reading :mad:. Why do you think algae is prevelant in new tanks???
 

Kensn

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Thats pretty close, mine kinda has a red tinge to it. I'll try to post picture tonight.
 

MikeS

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Wyoming
NaH2O said:
Why do you think algae is prevelant in new tanks???
I'd guess it has to do with the greater swing back and forth between nutrients and bacteria in newer tanks (or in older tanks where a major change has been made), as the bacteria seek to reach a new equilbrium...

MikeS
 

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