Battling green hair algae(need help) and lots of questions for my saltwater tank.


New member
I first off want to say I am new to this hobby. This is my second month of having my tank. I had bought fish from my local Petco and brought two clownfish home, within a week they had ich and I went to back to petco and they recommended herbtana to treat it. I starting using the the right dosage everyday but a rookie mistake I made was never taking the carbon out of my filter so herbtana wasn't working assuming it would've worked seeing there are many medications out there.

Long story short I found out Petco were dealing with ich at the time and didn't even bring it to my attention.. The fish died from ich sadly but I made sure not to slip up again. So I raised the temperature up to 88 degrees for 4 weeks while treating with herbtana. I went to another good reviewed LFS and they treat their tanks with copper so I ended up leaving their with another 2 clownfish since they are the hardier fish. They have been in my tank for 10 days now and they've been looking great! I feed them twice a day w/ a small amount of pellets and flakes and sometimes mysis shrimp. I must say they do very odd thing sometimes but after reading up online clownfish do very weird things.

I provided pictures of my tank. I have a 20 gallon tank, with a tetra whisper HOB filter. I also have ceramic rings in the filter. I also have a circulation pump with my heater in there. Is that all I need to have a succesful 20 gallon tank? I hear so much other stuff like canisters, refigiums, protein skimmers, etc. I used to buy the carbon filters for the HOB filter but I was advised to go to purigen and it's been about 4 days and everything seems to be fine. Here are my levels from 2 days ago,
P.H. 8.2

I've taken algae off the rock but it seems to be spreading not really too bad but I know algae will always be in the tank and I know algae is good but I don't really want to see the excess hair strings in my tank. Is there a way to kill it all? Get a CUC? Or do I need remove it myself but wouldn't it grow back? My levels are fine when I tested just wondering how to approach green hair algae.

Also I am dealing with cyanobacteria, in the pics it doesn't look bad but it tends to disappear more at night than in morning. Another rookie mistake was putting my tank in the only room the house that gets the most sun... but I did however run out to the LFS and bought a covering and covered the back and side of tanks so no sunlight can get in the tank.

***Only reason why I had my lights on was I was taking these pictures at 2am and had the lights off. With dealing with cyano, I've had the lights off basically all day unless it's nighttime and I want to watch TV I'll turn on the lights for a couple hours. I've read that light should be turned off, people have different opinions but should I continue keeping my lights off or should I medicate?

I hope in the next couple of weeks if the clownfish look parasite free and look healthy I want to get more fish or a CUC. Since I go the LFS that treats with copper in their tanks do I have to quarantine the fish? Am I just taking my own risk if I don't? If I need to quarantine what is sufficient enough? A 10 gallon with a HOB filter, an aerator, and some PVC pipes for the fish to hide or do I need to add sand. I heard turbo start 900 can cycle a tank within a week so I'd get that for the QT to speed up process also buying salt water already packaged at my LFS.

I know I asked a lot of questions and to whoever read this whole thing I really do appreciate it I just really want to have success in this hobby, want to be happy at looking at my aquarium (which I already do except seeing the hair strands of the green algae and cyanobacteria and I also want my fish happy.


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New member
I'm a big fan of natural methods only. Manual removal, and a quality cleanup crew. Do you have any snails/crabs to help with husbandry? If not, it's probably about that time. Nassarius are good for getting meaty things out off your sand. Ceriths, turbos, nerites are good for general rock and glass cleanup. Blue leg and scarlet hermits help pick off hair algae, etc. Emerald crabs pick bubble algae. Etc, etc.

But - don't add too much too fast or they will die off from starvation and do more harm!

Also, get a good phosphate test kit, like a Hanna. You want to see the 0.XX level of data, and you probably are not at 0.00 if you have algae.

Michael Hoaster

Registered Seaweedist
Premium Member
Welcome to RC, Ibbyy!

I have to admit I was put off by the post title and the length of the post as well. But I'd like to help if I can, so here goes!

Your setup should work just fine. The rock and sand will do most of the biological filtration anyway. The great thing about your external power filter is that you can tailer the media for different purposes, like charcoal for clearing the water, or a phosphate absorbing media to help with algae.

A protein skimmer is optional. Basically, they can help you go longer between water changes, with a 20 gallon tank, water changes are easy, so I wouldn't bother.

A 3-4 day blackout can work to help get rid of cyano. Otherwise buy an appliance timer to turn your lights on and off at the same time everyday.

Yes, you need a clean up crew. A small group of different snail species should do it. Avoid hermit crabs, as they are omnivores, and once they taste fish food they are worthless for algae control. Plus they kill snails to get their shells. If you really have your heart set on hermits, don't get snails, and get more hermits to make up for their inferior algae control.

Yes, you still need to quarantine. The setup you suggested should be fine. You don't have to add sand, but even just a spoonful from your display tank will help with biological filtration.

The best advice I can give is to do your research, so you don't need to depend on advice from strangers in forums. Also, wait until your tank is two months old before adding more fish. You can start adding CUC members now.

Best of luck and have fun!