Brown Spot Algae - Hard to Remove

cdreefer

New member
Hi, I've been an unofficial member of Reef Central for some time now, and have really found this forum very helpful in every aspect for a beginner.

My tank has now been running for 3 and a half months now. I've had a slight diatome bloom in this period and had to re-position my powerheads due to cyanobacteria in a back corner, but other than that it has been pretty painless.

At about the two month mark however, I started getting brown algae spots on my LR. I took a turkey baster to it, and tried to syphon it, but it is difficult to remove. The only way to remove it is to scrape it.
I decided to leave it as it is a very slow grower, and thought it may be another bloom that needs to pass.

brown algae (1).jpg

In the picture below you can see in the top right hand of the LR, where I have given it a bit of a scrape.

brown algae (2).jpg

The algae is velvet to the touch.
It is not a plating algae, nor a coralline.
It only grows on my LR, in direct light (under T5's, white LED and blue LED). I have reduced my lights to 7.5hrs, and have blues on from 7am to 10pm.
About 3 weeks ago I fitted a phosphate reactor running rhowaphos
Last week I fitted a uv sterilizer

I have no other algae at all, aside from the green dust on the display which I have to clean every 3 - 4 days.

Parameters are excellent:

PO4 Zero
NO3 Zero
PH 8.2
KH 11
Ca 450
Mg 1440

I carry out weekly water changes and do not use mechanical filter media.

None of my CUC touches it.

Does anyone have any ideas what this is? Will is eventually die out or do I need to do something about it?
Has anyone else experienced this stuff?

Thanks very much.
 

cdreefer

New member
Ooh thanks for the quick reply :)

Isn't cyano easy to remove?

I have plenty of flow...which took care of the small patch of red cyano I had.

Do you get hard to remove cyano?
 

FraggledRock

New member
Ooh thanks for the quick reply :)

Isn't cyano easy to remove?

I have plenty of flow...which took care of the small patch of red cyano I had.

Do you get hard to remove cyano?

hmm other than possible diatoms or some other type of encrusting algae i dunno..
:hmm3:
maybe old cyano died up and encrusted?
 

jrr98002

New member
Well it still 'looks' like diatoms, but from the way you're describing it, it isn't I don't think as I've never had diatoms be as hard to remove as you said. It could be cyano possibly as said above. In any event, whatever it is, if you stay on top of your nutrient export it should eventually starve itself out.
 

LittleBeard

New member
I think I have that exact same algae. It's nearly impossible to remove and contained to 1 rock. I gave up trying to remove it, and reducing nitrates/phosphates seemed to have no effect, I assume they're likely bound to the rock which is what is fueling the growth of that algae on that rock only.

My solution was to put an encrusting coral on it.... :) It worked, started as a 1/2 inch frag and is now about 4 inches across.
 

cdreefer

New member
Well it still 'looks' like diatoms, but from the way you're describing it, it isn't I don't think as I've never had diatoms be as hard to remove as you said. It could be cyano possibly as said above. In any event, whatever it is, if you stay on top of your nutrient export it should eventually starve itself out.

You've confirmed what I am thinking, that it will eventually starve itself out.
The problem is that its taken priority on the LR at the moment, not allowing coralline to have a go.

It would be nice to know what it is though, and if anyone else has had experience with it.
 

cdreefer

New member
I think I have that exact same algae. It's nearly impossible to remove and contained to 1 rock. I gave up trying to remove it, and reducing nitrates/phosphates seemed to have no effect, I assume they're likely bound to the rock which is what is fueling the growth of that algae on that rock only.

My solution was to put an encrusting coral on it.... :) It worked, started as a 1/2 inch frag and is now about 4 inches across.

I like that solution! And I get a new coral to boot :lol2:
 

cdreefer

New member
I've bought a Green Star Polyp Frag today that will hopefully start to encrust one of the infected rocks.
But I think I'm going to take a wire brush to the rest of it.
 

Steveg229

New member
I have the same type of algae...and no one has ever figured out what it is.

encrusting brown algae that is velvety to the touch and hard to scrape off.

I have it on some rock, back glass over some coraline spots, on the overflow, but it never touches or bothers any corals. Only grows in well lit areas, not anything that is shaded. My yellow tang picks at it, but my white/purple pin cushion urchin chows this stuff down.

I have had it for 6 + months and at one point was covering most of the exposed rock. It has been slowly going away on its own and the urchin is helping as well. I would say about 75% of mine is gone. I would love to figure out what type of algae this is???
 

whosurcaddie

New member
I've had this same stuff. Hydrogen peroxide killed it for me. Its been slowly receding from the rocks that I couldn't remove from the tank. I had a long thread in the reef discussion forum about this and nobody could figure out what it was.

I kept thinking lobophora because the early growth of lobo looks just like this but it never plated. Lobo also likes very clean water and my nitrate and phosphate had been 0 for a while when this stuff started taking off. So it wasn't a dirty water problem. It sucks not knowing whats growing in your tank or how to combat it.
 

Steveg229

New member
So heres an old reef central thread and the algae I/we have looks exactly like lobophora if you go to the second page you can see what looks like our version. Also they go through ways they have beaten it. http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1472823&page=2

I just read that entire thread. My ph has been low for a long time, 7.6-7.8, and I am wondering if this could be the possible cause as well?? All my other parameters are spot on, so I have never been too worried about it.

OK,so I want to get a blanket post out here as I have gotten a few PM's on this recently and I have been free of the algae for a year or two now.I will paste my reply to the message as it kinda says it all.HTH

The algae I was battling was lobophora and was a bear to get rid of.It grew in fairly low PO4 and NO3 and nfast whit good light and flow.It came in on Bali rock as a small patch and I fought a plauge for a couple years before I stumbled upon a cure for myself.I ran a CO2 reactor(@ the time) with aragonite in it for years(more then a decade) and always had a low PH but did not concern myself with it much as the corals all grew fine and looked good IMO.I started a few lengthy conversations with Calfo on line and in person regarding re mineralization of sea water and he sparked a fire in my head.I might say I dis agreed with his statements until after I did my own experimenting.His point was natural reefs and the natural high ph that vwas evident.and the very depressed ph that co2 arag reactoprs produce being counterproductive.I too started to remineralize with lime water for as much of my natural alk daily draw as possible.Saturated to the max and watching alk closely while letting the ph to rise as high as it may go.I was getting a typical reading of 8.3 to 8.5 with a system with high evap and a high energy reef in operation.The lobo and all other algaes except for dark pink and purplu crusting types were completely gone after one month.Needless to say anthony was correct,I was wrong in my assumption that depressed ph in a closed system reef was not detrimental.For the last several years I use as much as 90% kalk to maintain my daily consumption with a small dose of
NaHCO 3 and CaCl daily for a high energy reef with many stoney corals


I just recently started dosing kalkwasser to maintain my calcium and alkalinity, and in the hopes of raising ph. It has slowly raised my ph while maintaining the cal and alk levels. Hopefully raising my ph closer to normal levels will get rid of this stuff. Time to hurry up and wait.... Looking forward to see what happens.
 

cdreefer

New member
Thanks for that brilliant link, I too have just read the entire thread.

I agree with Steveg229, that PH may be a problem. Mine is consistently 8.1 - 8.2, but it's worth raising it to 8.5 to see if it helps. It rings true with what someone else said to me, that if I raise the alkalinity to minimum 12dKH it would rid me of algae.

So I will also be going the raised PH/KH route, and manually remove with wire brush where I can. Then report back :)
 

cdreefer

New member
Having read a little more about this algae, it does seem to go away by itself eventually. But there does seem to be a common thread to ongoing problems:
First is having a small tank with a lid.
Second is not having proper aeration in place.

Both the above work hand in hand. Aeration is the transfer of gases through surface water movement, and expulsion from the tank.
The problem with most smaller nano tanks is the lid. The gases get trapped within the lid above the water.
I stumbled across a forum where someone was asking if his leaving his feeding hatch open by mistake had got rid of his algae.

So my feeding hatch will be staying open too, and I'll see if it helps.
 

Steveg229

New member
Update. I have had this brown algae for the last year or so. My tank has also always had an average ph of 7.6 to 7.8. I started dosing kalkwasser to maintain calc and alk in February and also setup a co2 scrubber to raise ph. Since then my ph stays between 8.1 and 8.4 on a daily basis. The brown algae is finally 99.9% gone. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe raising the ph to normal levels did in fact help to get rid of it. Whatever the reason, it is gone and I couldn't be happier. Glad to see a tank full of coralline covered rock. 😀
 

cdreefer

New member
Well, I haven't left my feeding hatch open, but I to have been maintaining PH at about 8.2, with maintained Alkalinity and Calcium dosing. My tank is 6 months old now, but I'm happy to say that the brown algae has been beaten. There is still some of it there but dying out slowly but surely.
 

Coelli

New member
I'm not sure that pH and aeration are that critical - this stuff LOVES light and flow. My tank is infested with it. I have a very good amount of water surface agitation with an open top 65g, a 20L sump with a skimmer and two baffles that water is flowing over at about 800gph. My pH is very stable between 8.1-8.2 (ATO with Kalkwasser and I check the graph on my Apex frequently to see what the trend is).

I think the stuff is just evil. :( Even my hermit crabs' shells are encrusted with it. I need to find them a new home but I can't in good conscience give this plague to anyone else.

I added 3 Sally Lightfoot crabs yesterday in an effort to eradicate it. I have a rock wall so removing rocks isn't an option. I think my trochus at least try to eat it, but can't rasp it entirely off (nor can the sea hare added to try to control it as well). Seems some people have had success with the Sally Lightfoots and they do seem to be eating it.

I guess we'll see... my poor tank is covered with the stuff, by the time I realized what it was it had already taken over.
 
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