Restarting Tank After Algae Plague


New member
I'm 18yrs in the hobby and have moved tanks a few times when moving to a new home, but never have I had to deal with an 18mth algae plague or restarting a tank after such an issue (suspect dinos). I don't want to talk about algae solutions, I want to ask your opinion on how best to coordinate the restart.

I have a 60g mixed reef which includes a sebae anemone, some nassarius snails, some blue-legged hermits, two clowns, a foxface, and a royal gramma. I also have a 20g bare bottm quarantine tank that has been running for a few weeks. Two days ago, I swapped out some water so the QT has about 1/3 DT water, and I also placed a small DT liverock piece in the QT.

I plan to transfer one of the clowns into the QT tonight, although the water parameters seem fine and temp and salinity matches the DT. Baring now mysterious fish death, I will transfer everything else into the QT Friday/Saturday and will empty my tank.
- sand goes to the garbage
- plan to scrape and scrub the glass and back, and the back alley equipment portion of my tank (it's an Innovative Marine where essentially the sump is the back 5" of the tank). With a lot of the detritus waterborn, I then plan on emptying all the water.
I will be restarting with a brand new aquascape, new dryrock, and will be adding new livesand. I will get a jump-start on cycling with the MicroBacter kit.

1. Aside from a good scrub in tank water, anything else recommended for ensuring my previous algae plague doesn't carryover into my new tank? I will not have lights on in the new tank for a couple of weeks.
2. I plan to add my two clowns to the new DT first for a week before adding any other live critters. I normally would have a mature tank for introducing an anemone, but given the circumstances of either a QT with crap lighting or my newly restarted tank that will have ideal lighting, I'm favoring moving the Seabae when it is clear my water is stable. Agreed?
3. Same question, but concerning my corals: zoas, toadstool which is in rough shape, frogspawn which is doing fantastic at the moment.
4. Nassarius snails. I'll ensure food hits the bottom of the QT so they can have something to eat, but would you transfer the snails when I move the clowns over (as soon as possible)... or do you think they'd be better off in the QT until the new tank is stable?

*Let me clarify... when I have 0 ammonia and my Nitrates are at a reasonable level, I intend to transfer the clowns. When I say "the DT is stabalized", I mean when the water parameters seem to be at constant 'healthy' level which I suspect might be a week or three after I introduce the clowns.

My biggest concern is keeping all my critters healthy with the highest chance of success, and given some are 'sand dependent' and others 'light dependent', the QT isn't an ideal solution for more than a couple of weeks I think. Thoughts?


Premium Member
Sounds like a workable plan. With a system that old and the problems it's had, personally I would replace a third to half the rock with new maricultured live rock that's been quarintined for a month to help reestablish the cryptic stuff that' so beneficial to a healthy reef system. I would also expect the same basic maturing process seen with a new system setup


Super Best Friends!
Premium Member
If you have an algae outbreak, I'd recommend dosing Vibrant to get ahead of it. I recently lost 90% of everything in my tank to a power outage. That quickly led to a HUGE algae outbreak. For S&Gs, I let the algae grow to see how long it would get. I had 5-6" hair algae covering a significant chunk of rock after about 3 weeks.

2 weeks into dosing Vibrant, 75% of the film algae on the glass was gone. Prior to dosing, I let it get so bad that it was hard to see into the tank on the sides. I didn't scrape so I could see how the Vibrant worked. It also killed off a couple small patches of the shorter hair algae in that time.
I removed the long stuff the next week and did a water change this week. I bet the algae has been reduced by 50-60% in 3 weeks. I've been dosing a little heavier than recommended, but not a lot.

I'm not saying that Vibrant is the way to sustain a tank. It's a good clean up tool for most common algae types, though.

As for the transfer, your plan sounds solid. If you have some stubborn patches, hydrogen peroxide can kill off a lot of algae. Hit the problem spots with a concentrated dose. Maybe use it on the brush you use to scrub the rock, too.