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I believe I have some modest amount of hair algae in my tank. But I'm new to the hobby so I'm not 100% sure.

Is this hair algae in the picture? Should I be concerned about it spreading? Or is it normal to have some algae in a reef tank? How can I stop it from spreading? Can I just clean the rock with a tooth brush when I do the water change each week? Or would that cause more harm than good.

Will certain types of crabs or fish eat it that won't hurt the coral?

What causes algae? Is there something I can do to prevent it?

I also have some bubble algae. Would the same crabs or fish eat the bubble algae that eat the hair algae? Or would I need something different for bubble algae?


My tank has bee up since July 2014. I have a 55 gallon tank with a 20 Gallon Sump. There are no phosphates in the tank. Ca is 410, Alk 141, MG 1300. I have two clown fish, fairy basslet, cleaner shimp. I have mushrooms, Zoa, Green Star Polyp, Hammer Coral.


New member
Looks like hair algae to me. All algae is feeding of the extra nutrients that are present in your system. What brand are you using to test nitrate and phosphate (these are the nutrients that drive nuisance algae)? How much water are you changing?

Your tank is old enough that I would say you're past the normal cycling algae blooms and into a nutrient issue. If you're testing no phosphates with a good test kit (like a hanna, salifert, red sea), then you're probably looking at a nitrate problem. What is your nitrate level? Nitrates are the result of decomposing materials like fish waste, excess food, etc. You can reduce nitrates through water changes. Do you have a refugium? If you do, you can grow macro algae like cheato in your 'fuge. If you control your nutrients, the hair algae will eventually go away. I, as well as a lot of others, have had good luck with turbo snails eating hair algae.

There are more drastic and advanced ways to control nitrate, but it's really all speculation until we know your nitrates.


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For the phosphates I use Salifert and it testing 0. For the Nitrates (I haven't really tested until I read your post) I use API and it shows zero. But I find it hard to read so I will buy Salifert or Red Sea for Nitrates.

I do about 6-9 gallons per week for the water change. Roughly 10% plus evaporation.

I do have a refugium. I believe it has cheato in it.

Thank you


New member
I had to rush my last reply because I had someone at the door. But I have to check with the LFS to see what kind of macro algea I have. Thanks for the recommendation about the turbo snails and the advice.