Blooms of things....FYI


Staff member
RC Mod
The word for a sudden explosion of a species into massive presence is 'bloom'---and they happen in biology as well as botany.
An algae appears and is suddenly everywhere.
A bug appears, and suddenly there's a thousand of 'em.

When you have a bloom that isn't What You Ordered, the first impulse is dismay, and the second may be to rush for a cure. A killer. A way to stop it.

Not necessarily a good thing. Step one is, figure out what you've got and be right as to what you've got. There are tiny critters that look threatening. Tiny critters that ARE threatening. Stuff that looks like algae and isn't. Stuff that is algae. Stuff that is bacterial. Stuff that looks cute until you have a hundred of it. You get the picture.
Identify it. Get a good pic with white light, not blues.
If you have a strong suspicion what it is, google that: google is full of pix that can help you.
And ask your fellow reefers what it is.

Once you find out, try to figure what it needs to live. A little biological understanding. What does it eat? How much light does it need? Can it prey on fish or cover my corals and what if it does?

Also---don't assume. A 'cleaner' shrimp won't generally help with a fish plague. Your problem is deeper than that. A lights-out won't solve an algae problem (it WILL solve a cyanobacterial problem.) Find out not only what you have going on, but WHETHER it needs fixing or whether this bloom will reach a limit and fade on its own, without your needing to do a thing.
For example, every spring, I get a little patch of cyanobacteria on my sand. To cure it---I draw the drape on a stray ray of sunlight that at a certain season reaches my sandbed. In a day, the cyano is fading out. End problem.
On the other hand, dumping some 'cure' into your tank before you really know what it is---can lead really bad places, especially if you try several cures.

First identify it. Then ask how much of a problem it actually is (no tank survives its first year in pristine white). Then figure what is the BEST thing, given your tank position, shape, size, and contents, to do for it.

But before you apply that fix---check your water conditions top to bottom: salinity, alk, cal, mg, (see my sig line), phosphate, and nitrate, and assess your pattern of water changes: maybe you've slacked off a bit? ---and once you know the basic fault does NOT lie in an alkalinity of 7.2 (horrid reading)---and your temperature's steady, so that everything is good've got a much better handle on things.

THere are a few peripheral things to look at---and if you have been uneasy about your setup being ok, first consider your skimmer. If you have a weak skimmer and need more processing power, THAT may be a problem. Consider your flow: if you have massive crud under your rockwork, you might need a wavemaker to move it out.

But generally, yep, some blooms are self-limiting, and some aren't. If it isn't, again, ASK: we've had most of them, and unless it's grown tentacles and is headed out of the tank, we know how to deal with it. ASK, ASK, ASK, and never be embarrassed. This is the newbie forum, and you're not expected to know. Admit it if you know you did something that you're worried about: we all have; and before you apply a cure, either be sure you have a skimmer good enough to handle dieoff---OR stand prepared to do a series of water changes of 20% every other day for 3 days, which is a good substitute for a really potent skimmer's action on dieoff.

Hope this helps. It's biology. Unscheduled things arrive with specimen rocks and plugs, and that's the hobby for you. Keeps it interesting.