NUISANCE ALGAE

JurisHP

Member
I have been battling brown algae for months now....NOTHING I do gets rid of it. I am wiping down my glass twice a day....I wake up and it needs cleaning and especially at the end of the day when the lights were running, MAJOR algae EVERYWHERE. And this is relatively recent. These are the details of my tank.

180g mixed reef that has been up and running for over 10 years.

Ecotech Radion G5 Blues that run about 11 hours/day on the LPS/Soft Coral template.

Parameters are:

Salinity: 1.026
Temp. 78
pH: 8.0
Ca: 422
P04: .69
dKh: 9.6
Nitrates: Not sure today

I have been battling Nitrates and Phosphates for YEARS...I have tried everything, the latest of which is a refugium where my Chaeto is growing nicely.

In the past 2 weeks, I have changed 25g/day every day, and it seems to be getting worse!

I came home today after wiping down the glass this morning, and there was so much algae on the glass I could barely see into the tank!

I also noticed that red slimy algae is on a lot of my corals, in addition to yellow (sponge?) on a lot of the rocks.

What explains all this algae which is choking out my VERY easy to keep softies and requiring me to clean the glass 2 x/day?

HELP!
 

shred5

Premium Member
I have been battling brown algae for months now....NOTHING I do gets rid of it. I am wiping down my glass twice a day....I wake up and it needs cleaning and especially at the end of the day when the lights were running, MAJOR algae EVERYWHERE. And this is relatively recent. These are the details of my tank.

180g mixed reef that has been up and running for over 10 years.

Ecotech Radion G5 Blues that run about 11 hours/day on the LPS/Soft Coral template.

Parameters are:

Salinity: 1.026
Temp. 78
pH: 8.0
Ca: 422
P04: .69
dKh: 9.6
Nitrates: Not sure today

I have been battling Nitrates and Phosphates for YEARS...I have tried everything, the latest of which is a refugium where my Chaeto is growing nicely.

In the past 2 weeks, I have changed 25g/day every day, and it seems to be getting worse!

I came home today after wiping down the glass this morning, and there was so much algae on the glass I could barely see into the tank!

I also noticed that red slimy algae is on a lot of my corals, in addition to yellow (sponge?) on a lot of the rocks.

What explains all this algae which is choking out my VERY easy to keep softies and requiring me to clean the glass 2 x/day?

HELP!


If you had high phosphates for a while they can bind to calcium carbonate which is live rock and sand. So your live rock acks kind of like a battery storing it up. As you remove phosphate from the water column some of it will leach back into the water. So depending how much is bound it can take a while to remove all those bound phosphates..

Are you using gfo or some sort of phosphate removing media. You can also use carbon dosing to help lower phosphates.
Do you feed to much? Are you over stocked? Do you have a skimmer? Do you dose amino's and if you do stop for now.
It is going to take a while and patients is needed.
 

Timfish

Timfish
Premium Member
Sounds like "Old Tank Syndrome" which from my experience isn't tied to nitrates and phosphates at all. It is fixable but it does take patince as you are altering the equilibrium of the system. For a better understanding of how algae and corals are competing against each other I'd Suggest Forest Rohwer's book and video. Both deal with the conflicting roles of the different types of DOC in reef ecosystems and best expalin what I've seen over the 4 decades I've kept reef systems and 3 decades maintaining reefs systems professionally. While there is overlap bewteen his book and the video both have information not covered by the other and together give a broader view of the complex relationships found in reef ecosystems

For starters as far as the algae on the glass if you're just using an algae magnet it only knocks it off and it will quickly resettle continuing to grow. Use paper towels to wipe it off and physically remove it (I prefer the blue shop towels available at home centers and autoparts stores.) Use each towel for just one or two swipes across the glass.

I'd do weekly 10% water changes and use steel straws to scrape and remove algae from the rock work especially around corals. If there are any rocks not essential for the aquascaping and don't ahve any corals attached I'd remove them, if you want to resue them, clean them well with fresh water and let them dry out well in sunshine before retruning them to your system. Any aquascaping that can be easily removed should be scrubbed in a bucket of saltwater and returned to the system. This can be done carefully with most corals still attached, you'll have to use your judgement though on what to leave in the tank. I would not scrub algae off in hte tank or use a filter sock to siphon off algae/cyano and return the water to the tank - both dump DOCs into the system detrimental to corals and this is what we want to remove most of all. Manual removal of the algae faciliates this by reducing the amounts released andf letting your corals reestablish the microbial stuff beneficial to them.

Patience is required as there will be some push and shove as you alter the microbial stuff going on in your system. If you can run a diatom filter once or twice for 24-48 hours after doing a water change and scrubbing the rocks it will help but they are a hassle to setup and clean out.

Here's two threads I have on the local forum. The first system had maintenance done every 2 - 3 weeks and it was about 4 months to see algae stop growing. The second system saw weekly maintenance and the process was noticeably quicker. I need to emphasize thought every ssytem is different and recovery time is variable In the first system there was no significant change in either nitrate or phosphate until after the algae stopped growing. The second system nitrate wasn't tested but phosphate increased as the algae disappeared.


(A few notes about nitrates and phosphates. Becasue we can easily test for these "dissolved inorganic" forms of nitrogen and phosphorus they get most of the attention. Keep in mind our ssytems also have "particulate organic" forms and "dissolved organic" forms so the picture will always be more complex than we can test for. To add another layer of complexity we're also dealing with the same forms of carbon in our ssytems and the "dissolved organic carbon" or DOCs has huge implications for coral health, see Rohwer's refferences above. Much ado has been made over rock absorbing phosphate and releasing it. Bare carbonate substrates will grab phosphate and can release it. What has been overlooked (again likely because we can't readily test for it) biofilms will signficantly alter the sorbtion properties of the substrates they grow on. And thier composition will change over time so we should expect changes in our system to occur at any time and there may not be any obvious cause because we cannot monitor these processes.)
 
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