Quantcast

Lets talk about Controlling Algae in a BB system!

Help Support Reef Frontiers:

Scooterman

Administrator
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
10,944
Location
Louisiana
It seems now that I'm BB, I have a different kind of algae problem as compared to before with the DSB system. I guess you can't live without them & you can't live with them to some point. Razor algae, I had this in both systems, anyone has ideas on how to rid yourself of it, please let me know, this stuff can't be killed. The only way I found to work is plucking the rocks clean, leaf by leaf or extreme boil then pressure wash the rock, even then it still won't go away unless you pluck it away. The good thing, it grows slowly & I'm able to control it so far. The main algae problems I face is the light green type, easily blown off rocks in most cases, but must be done continuously daily it seems, I get some brownish hair type algae on the back glass section where I don't clean regularly. I think most of my problems might just be my fault, I have three fish, Hippo, six line, & one Engineer goby I wish I could catch. I siphon the areas that collect waste, usually all in one corner. That is about my worst spot for collecting trash. I filter sock every now & then, with a 5 micron sock filter. I run carbon 24 & 7 also Rowaphos at times. I'm looking into a canister system for these two instead of socks, I know they won't allow for the surface area needed. I also skim as wet as I can, I usually fill a container twice a week. I have about 200lb of LR, which I removed about 50lbs three weeks ago due to algae. The 50lbs of LR is in a tub with a PH & heater, looking better but I'm going to let it cook a few more weeks longer. I recently replaced my lighting, MH & VHO & I have about 35 X turnover in flow, like I said most of waste moves to one easily accessible corner. I also make sure feeding is not excessive, I really don't have to feed much because the Hippo grazes & I just supplement a little extra for protein & nutrients. As for as the six line, goby, snails & crabs I don't know what they eat because I try to not feed them also my cleaner shrimp. So I guess I need to make some changes, I think I will end up cooking most all of my LR, doing daily WC's until I can later tear it all down and move the tank across the house. As for as corals, they seems to all be doing great Except my yellow leather, it opens up but never like before. been like that for several months, thinking I may need to try and relocate it once more. So my question is, in a BB system, just what are your routines, what are you doing to keep nasty algae's away. Is a BB system the same, when it comes to house cleaning, should I be doing more frequent WC's? Is it only me that have similar issues, before with the DSB I had different algae's, now these seem to be grouped accordingly. Maybe after three years I need new LR?
 

Ed Hahn

Life is A Highway...
Joined
Jan 27, 2004
Messages
3,955
Location
Kennewick, Wa
Hello Scooty,
I believe Bb is easier to maintain. I have a hundred Golden Astreas that clean my rock in my 90. I know live rock creates denitritus. That waste usually is blown to front to so I can syphon it out. I do not do water changes as often as I should. I do top off a lot because of evaporation. My tank is fairly clean. My sump on the other hand needs a Micron sock pretty bad. Maybe more little golden astreas would help you?

Ps. I have not been using my UV on my tank. Its there if I need it to kill single cell algae or a virus.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 23, 2004
Messages
67
Location
Madcity, WI
I have a mix of Astreas and Ceriths - which seem to address different things. Had to add a couple turbos for one algae the others wouldn't touch ... but my biggest alterations to how I run things with BB is to increase the amount of flow behind and thru the rockwork ...

If algae is growing on your rocks, they're collecting a lot of detritus. I focused for a while on keeping the bottom free of detritus - while letting it pile up in the nooks/crannies of my rockwork. I changed my layout to more open space in between, added flow around/behind the rockwork ... and my rocks have cleaned up nicely and lost any algae they had.

Personally, about month 2-3 I had a lot more macro algae springing up than expected ... still had the rocks shedding a lot, not sure why but for a month or so I had to really focus on siphoning + w/c ... about a week or two after altered my flow like above - the algae started disappearing and now is not much more than a memory.

I dunno ... but while you keep things in suspension keep a tight eye on your rockwork - as that's one of the worst places to have crud accumulate vs. the bottom which is easy to siphon.

Good luck ... I know personally I had to change my husbandry a bit to get BB to work right - but love it now :)
 

Scooterman

Administrator
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
10,944
Location
Louisiana
You know that may be a good point, I may have ten or 15 snails, this is something I've been wanting to get more of & just never did.
 

edgerat

Indecisive
Joined
Nov 13, 2004
Messages
116
Location
Olympia, WA
ITS ERIC BORNEMAN!!!!!!!! woot! bout time you joined up dood. I noticed that Jerel/Bomber/Spanky has a long-spined urchin in his 450. Do they do any damage to corals other than the occasional FORCED SUICIDE from the top of a rock?
 

Maxx

Staff Housemonkey
Joined
Jul 31, 2003
Messages
2,935
Ive spoken with Mark about this sort of thing in the past...
But I'm curious Mark, How often do you do water changes and how large are they?
Eric,
Got a reputable supply for long spined sea urchins?

Nick
 
E

EricHugo

Guest
Well, Diadema is the group I am talking about, and there are quite a few sources for the Paciic diadema. I would not suggest D. antillarum from the Atlantic. They are still not a CITES or ESA listed species but should be because of the massmortality twenty years ago which triggered the phase shift of Caribbean reefs. There is some recovery in spots, but largely they are still absent. Thing is, where they exist, coral settlement rates are up, algae is non-exisitent, and coralline predominates.

The Pacifici species tend to be a little smaller, and did not have a mass mortality. They are known to occasionally and generally inadvertently graze juvenile spat, tiny corals, and the edges of corals, but its pretty minimal if at all. Yes, they can knock things over, but so do the big Trochus snails, and a little epoxy fixes that issue. Remember to acclimate echinoderms really slowly, but they will e hardy after that, and they really will do a number on algae, even if it is unpalatable. They'll eat the tasty stufff first, of course, and move on to the nasty tasting stuff, but they will clean it up and keep it that way.
 
E

EricHugo

Guest
Oh - source wise - they shouldn't be hard to track down. I don't know your stores or how likely they are to special order if not around, but I'm sure websites probably have them.
 

mojoreef

Reef Keeper
Joined
Jul 5, 2003
Messages
7,530
Location
Sumner
Scott in regards to the razor your screwed, lol. I had the razor problem for about 5 years and did everything, but it still comes back, that is until I go the vlamingii tang he erradicated it in two days and I have not seen any in 2 years. I am not recommending the tang but man I love that fish :p
The algae on the rocks seems to be some kind of cyano maybe?? most algae wont just blow off, so I am guessing. With your rocks, its still going to be a bit of challenge with the nutrient loading it had previously. Detritus will be sheding at a good rate for awhile until it normalizes, all you can do is to try to not allow it to build up.
I view BB systems as kind of real time systems, if youo have a problem or a situation you will see right away and it will not be defered to a later date and a larger event.
Is the razor just on some rocks or on all the rocks??
Something you might want to concider. I did this myself on my recent aquascape. I had several rocks that were very old and very loaded with detritus. I took these rock oout and tossed the ugly ones but I had quite a few that were very nice but were just loaded with crud. I took these rocks and bioled them in a large pot of FW for about 3 hours and then reintroduced them into the tank. They corralined up very quick (a lot of virgin seed surface) and repopulated with bacteria and other critters quickly to (brand new vacant apt bldg on the block). this would take care of the nutrient load and razor on the rocks that are really bad.


Mike
 
E

EricHugo

Guest
Thanks, Mike:

Be careful boiling rocks. I got an email from a physician that was treating a patient who had a severe reaction after boiling coral skeletons and associated rock - not sure what wound up being aerosolized, but the person almost died. It was weird, and who knows what might else have been invovled.

Also, Mike, why would boiling remove nutrients? The nutrients are already efectively in solution in tank water and not equilibrated with concentrations with the tank water, presumably. You think the vigorous boiling action gets them out that water flow in the tank wouldn't? Or that freshwater makes them more soluble than in salt water? Just curious...boiling will definitely clear all life out, but I would think that soaking in a stong caustic solution of NaOH followed by neutralization in freshwater would be more effective, or high heat baking, perhaps (not sure on this one, but has some basis)
 

mojoreef

Reef Keeper
Joined
Jul 5, 2003
Messages
7,530
Location
Sumner
Eric good advice on the boiling, I have always done it outside.

Here is the theory, lol. The high heat of the water removes all surface algaes including corraline, its a great surfcae cleaner. As per the interior of the I believe the high heat and FW (low pH) combo melt and make the detritus and decay blockage soluable and allows it to stream to the surface. I have taken what looks to be clean rock and done the boil andwith the bubble action and hot water the ammount of crud that comes out is pretty impressive.
This is just a procedure I used for old rocks that are pure detritus producers and if you dont want to wait for it to cook normal. Also if you have plenty of other rock to reseed it.
It does kill off all life on and in the rock but in the case of rocks of this case that may be a good thing. With algaes, sponges and simular blocking flow and creating diversions for their own benefit, along with constant overloading of the bacterial processing system it give them kind of a fresh start with out really effecting your system.
placing them in a cuastic fluid might also work But I have no experence with that.


Mike
 

mojoreef

Reef Keeper
Joined
Jul 5, 2003
Messages
7,530
Location
Sumner
Its kind of the same idea as steam striping of nutrients. ALot to do with the low ph, vapor transmission and so on.




Mike
 

Scooterman

Administrator
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
10,944
Location
Louisiana
I had two rocks with Razor, I removed them High pressure washed them outside, the put them in a tub to cook with the rest of my rocks. Last weekend I added a portion of the rocks the were being cooked for several months now. These cooked rocks went through some major stinking at first I had to do weekly wc until it cleared up. To date my tank it cleared but I'm keeping an eye on it. I still blow my LR. Vacuum & WC as needed. I think the rocks had accumulated more waste than it could keep up with while I had the DSB, I may be wrong though.
 
E

EricHugo

Guest
The caustic solution does work. In killing aiptasia with NaOH and CaOH2 solution, I have occasionally sprayed the remains of a syringe on detritus and it dissolves it - as might bbe expected given its use clearing food out of a stuck drain. Given that it's NaOH, its effect on anything in tank or such a treatment is virtually non-existent - just changes pH - of course, what is dissolved is in solution, but pitch the water and rinse and voila.
 

edgerat

Indecisive
Joined
Nov 13, 2004
Messages
116
Location
Olympia, WA
Eric,
Are there any issues with predation in using a Long-Spine sea urchin and soft corals? I mentioned this animal to a friend of mine that is experiencing a HUGE hair alage bloom, possibly from Oceanic salt, and he was worried about the LSSU eating his zoanthids and leathers.
Isaac
 

mojoreef

Reef Keeper
Joined
Jul 5, 2003
Messages
7,530
Location
Sumner
Eric do you think you would get the penetration into the rock?? if so how long do you think you would have to keep it submerged??


Mike
 
E

EricHugo

Guest
Soft corals and zoanthids taste really bad. I doubt the urchin would even consider grazing them. Like I said, any coral grazing by Diadema seems sort of incidental - like "oops, got too close to that coral on my way to algae patch...sorry"

In answer to Mike, and in general, the thing about algae is, as I think I mentioned, there is a nutrient component and an algae component. Algae, being fully autotrophic, will thrive in very low nutrients if there is no grazing. The reason they don't take over even oligotrophic reefs is the grazing pressure. Obviously, higher dissolved nutrients helps them grow faster - and in excess makes corals fare peooer - but algae almost always grow faster and outcompete corals were in not for grazing. Turfs are highly grazed, macroalgae less grazed and also depedning on how palatable they are and what other algae are present.

Fish tend to be most finicky, especially if they know there is food coming (like in tanks). many urchins are great unfinicky generalist grazers - even though if offered turfs or Dictyota, they will graze turfs first, they will eat Dictyota when there is nothing else left. A fish in a tank will probably think "screw the Dictyota, a lettuce clip will be along soon enough". Snails work, but nowhere near to the eficiency of urchins, and snails may not graze some algae, or they can lierally be killed by it. Some of the brown algae are very toxic, and urchins can detoxify them somewhat - as can some fish. I am not aware of snails that can do this.

Anyway, those types of organsims, including lettuce slugs, etc, are macrograzers. A large portion of grazing belongs to the micrograzers - basically amphipods. If you poke through a Derbesia patch, you'll see tons of amphipods. The idea here is to let the macrograzers do their work on the big unpalatable and out-in-the open areas and reduce the load on the amphipods who will take care of little new sprouts., stuff in the nooks and crannies, etc.

As to rock crevices being filled with detritus or purportedly acting as a nutrient "sponge" that leaches out nutrients, I don't really go for that idea. It's possble, but I think it is rare, esepcially if the carbonate source is not from some polluted coastal area. The porewater of rocks is loaded with critters and microbes that easily should be able to manage any organic deposits over time. They cycle....lots of detritus, low bugs leads to increase of bugs then decrease of detritus, then die off of bugs, and repeat. As for the idea of carbonate acting as a time-release capsule for dissolved nutrients, same thing - the life in the rock should handle it easily, and if the water is that nutrient laden, and the rock is also laden, and the water is changed to a pure form, and the nutrients seep out through porewater, it won't take that long in reef rock because of the porosity and small size of rock. Turnover time, by necessity if in low nutrient water and without any life present in the rock at all cannot exceed the length of time it took to get that way in the first place. Any leaching, provided it is not by solid material containing harmful elements being slowly dissolved, should be pretty quick.

Finally, I have spent a lot of time taking both live rock and dead coral skeleton and decalcifying it (using acidified EDTA). The amount of algae, worms and sponge in marine carbonate is ridiculous. Sometimes I think there is more sponge than carbonate. So, nutrient leaching could also just as easily come from the die-off, excretion and boring action of all these organisms. If you put a piece of live rock in a bare bottom tank and wait, you'll get a pile of detritus really fast. Where do you think this comes from? The surface? Well, a little from algal shedding and surface material and mucus, but the majority comes from borings and waste of those things inside the rock and released out the pores. Live rock is a very active thing, and the notion that it is a big carbonate sponge that sucks up all the nutrients and slowly releases them causing algae and/or posioning the tank I think is relatively rare. Porewater is greatly higher, normally, in N and P, and is largely oxidized or absorbed before it enters seawater. That aspect of it is what makes it functional and able to support the great amount of life in it.

Sometime when I decalcify some substrate, I'll take a photo of the substrate and the material left after decal....its really amazing. I'm not saying that it never happens, or that a mismanaged tank could not produce these results, but if the tankis mismanaged to that extent, those issues need to be addressed before one starts throwing out the sand or rock thinking its going to fix an algae problem. I can assure you that even a cesspool of a tank in the presence of leaching substrates and gross food inputs will have no visible algae in the presence of enough grazers. Not suggesting this, just making a point.
 
Your email address will not be publicly visible. We will only use it to contact you to confirm your post.
Top