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  #1  
Old 06/14/2006, 10:25 AM
dstalfire dstalfire is offline
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Location: McKinney, TX
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I need EXPERT advice! I am about to give up.

I do not want to give up, but I cant beat hair algae. Let me give you some background first.

Here is my tank:

75 gallon reef with 2 inch sand bed
protein skimmer in sump
fluvial 304 canister with no media in it to lower nitrates
1 power head and 2 out flows from fluvial and sump
20 gallon refugium, loaded full of Chato, with 3 inch sand bed
530 watts of light. 2 10k halides 2 power compacts
100lbs of live rock

I do weekly water changes 5% per week with RO water form the lfs.
5 fish, 1 is a yellow tang
2 emerald crabs, 2 conchs put 175 nasuirus snails, 100 turbos "astrrea" spelling

Tried:

every type of snail except mexican turbos
2 sea hairs - they disapear
lawn mower blenneys - they disapear
removed rock and scrubed it
phosate remover
conchs
hundreds of snails
Fox face

I did a complete cleaning and removed all the rock cleaned it, loaded the tank with turbos, and use the liquid phosophate remover. The tank looked great for about a week. Now all the algae is back. It looks like a carpet of algae all over the rock and some on the glass.

Most of the snails are gone, and pretty much all the turbos are missing. I put a cleaner shrimp in there and he is gone.

My water keeps testing good, my temp is 79 degrees, and I only use RO water from Plano Pets.

I seriously am about to give up. I do not know what the hell is going on with my tank. I can't beat this dam problem. I have been messing with it for 6 months.

Any thoughts?

Thanks

Dan " soon to be ex reefer"
  #2  
Old 06/14/2006, 10:33 AM
TacoKing TacoKing is offline
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How old are your lights? I had a hair algae out break in my tank after my bulbs went old.

The algae is growing due to phosphates. So, the phosphates have to come from something. Food, water, rocks..

A possible bandaide would be to get some RowaPhos or Phosban and use that to remove the phosphates. Much better than liquid phosphate remover.

I'm concerned that you've lost both the sea hairs, lawn mower blennies and the snails. That isn't usually a good sign. Death creates food for algae. How are your nitrite levels? I'd expect them to be pretty high if you've lost 100+ snails and multiple fish.

Any chance you can buy your own RO/DI unit and mix the water at your house? I'm skeptical that the water you are getting from the LFS is "clean".

How often do you feed? If you're feeding more than once every 2 days, cut back even more.. Feed once every 4 days and even then just a few pinches of food.

Manual removal usually helps the process. Once everythign is inline, your phosphates are down and it looks like the algae is receeding I'd help it along by siphoning it out of your tank. Do a large water change then as well.

Ohh, and buy a Sailfert PO4 test kit. The kit sucks for low end PO4 levels, but my guess is you are not in the low level area.

=Rob
  #3  
Old 06/14/2006, 11:25 AM
dstalfire dstalfire is offline
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I feed once a day about half a cube of the frozen varitey pack maring cusine.

I just replace both halides and 1 of the power compacts.

The water may not be clean, but how do I tell? If I new the water was the problem I would mix it.

I am getting my water tested again tomorrow, but it always seems to be the same crap, everything looks fine, is what they say.

I have used the phosban before, and the liquid.

I have play sand in my refuigum but everything I have read says that is fine and will not leach any silcates.
  #4  
Old 06/14/2006, 11:32 AM
bljohnson bljohnson is offline
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Focus on the source rather than removal. Phosphate is either coming from your water/food or it is coming from established "trapped" positions. Most people thaw/soak their frozen foods in RO/DI to leach some phosphate out. Also please commone on how much you feed.

Most new tanks also have cyano/junk on the sandbed. Do you stir the sand bed to make it look "clean?" Stirring the sand is a huge no-no and releases tons of junk into the water... this could be the source of the problem. Don't give up. You also didn't comment on how long your tank has been running. Most people will say at a certain point algae/cyano just eventually goes away (as long as you are taking appropriate preventative measures) as part of the tank cycle.
  #5  
Old 06/14/2006, 11:35 AM
dstalfire dstalfire is offline
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I feed half a cube per day, and my tank is about 3 years old. I never stir the sand, but my water never looks clear. It always looks like stuff is floating in it.
  #6  
Old 06/14/2006, 11:45 AM
bljohnson bljohnson is offline
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Try changing from cup to flake or homemade fresh. Frozen cubes are the *highest food* in phosphates. All food will contain phosphates but frozen is the worst. I would also try using a micron sock in the sump to "filter" particulates out of the water column. I bought a $25 mount at PA and use the $5-6 dollar bags. Buy alot of bags though b/c they get clogged within 2-4 days depending on what you are doing (ie from doing nothing to blowing detritus off rocks). The good thing is they are reusable. I save up about 6 (I use 2 socks at a time in my 180) and wash it in hot water for 2 washings. Some people use bleach but if you go that route it requires a little extra work to make sure you don't get residual bleach in the tank.Make sure you suck the detritus out of your sump when doing water changes if you choose not to do the filer sock route. The filter sock will polish your water to crystal clear as well as take out organic particulates.
  #7  
Old 06/14/2006, 11:46 AM
Travis L. Stevens Travis L. Stevens is offline
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Re: I need EXPERT advice! I am about to give up.

Here are some ideas where the extra nutrients could be coming from.

--Canister Filter: These are aerobic filters that leave little to no room for denitrification to occur.
--Refugium Lighting: An increase in lighting or bulb replacement might help add quicker growth to your macroalgae. Make sure that you harvest as much of it as possible as often as possible to take out all the concentrated biomass.
--Tank Lighting: Your bulbs could be rather old and have shifted to a more favorable lighting color. Also, if sunlight is shining on it, this could also give more proper lighting for algae.
--Water Change: Increase the amount of water changes. 5% isn't much even if it done weekly. I would go with 10%-15% weekly.
--Water Change Water: What is your water testing at before you put it in?
--RO Water: Are you sure that the water you are getting from the LFS is properly filtered? When was the last time they replaced their filters? Does it test zero across the board? What is the TDS?
--Fish: Five fish can be a lot. What are your other fish? There could be a large bioload as well as a large amount of Carbon Dioxide buildup that is fueling the growth of the algae.
--Cleanup Crew: Your cleanup crew is quite large and inadequate. Though they help keep things undercontrol, they also produce waste. And their waste is a lot easier break down to Nitrates quickly. Also, Nassarius snails are more of a scavenger than an algae eater. So, there is a lot of unneccessary waste being produced from them alone. Also, conchs aren't very good as a clean up crew and quickly deplete sand bed fauna and flora. Their waste production is huge.
--Scrubbing: Though you scrubbed the rocks, you may have made the problem worse. You have now spread the algae and it could come back stronger than before.
--Rock Work: Make sure that there isn't a buildup of debris or uneaten food on the rock work. This is where algae will first start to grow.
--Water Flow: Your waterflow could be inadequate. If there isn't enough flow to keep detritus in the water column to be taken to the skimmer, then it would eventually be a source of nutrients
--Missing Livestock: When live stock goes missing, most likely it is dead. And that in turn will break down into more nutrients. Make sure that you remove all carcasses.
--Feeding: Make sure that you are not feeding heavy and that all the food or almost all the food is eaten. You might even want to switch to feeding once every 3 days.
--Knowledge: Make sure that you know what algae does. Though unsitely, it is getting rid of excess nutrients. As long as the algae isn't harming anything, then leave it be. It will eventually use up the available nutrients as long as you aren't creating more of it. Then, as it starts to die out, you can pull it out before it has a chance to decompose and return to the water as nutrients again.
--Testing: Remember, you might be testing zero, but you have to remember that the algae is most likely taking it up before you have a chance to test it.

And above all else, post your water parameters

Temperature:
Specific Gravity:
pH:
Alkalinity:
Calcium:
Ammonia:
Nitrite:
Nitrate:
Magnesium:
Phosphate:
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  #8  
Old 06/14/2006, 11:53 AM
Travis L. Stevens Travis L. Stevens is offline
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I missed a few replies as I was typing mine

Quote:
s=&postid=7558865#post7558865 target=_blank>Originally posted by dstalfire
I feed once a day about half a cube of the frozen varitey pack maring cusine.
This is too much. As stated by several people above

Quote:
I just replace both halides and 1 of the power compacts.
That's good

Quote:
The water may not be clean, but how do I tell? If I new the water was the problem I would mix it.

I am getting my water tested again tomorrow, but it always seems to be the same crap, everything looks fine, is what they say.
Buy your own test kits and do it. Don't trust a store that just tells you they are fine. Look for yourself. See exactly where they are at. The opinion of "fine" is a thin line. What's fine for one person may not be for another. For example, it's "fine" to have nitrates of about 20ppm in mixed reef tanks. But that doesn't bode well for anyone that doesn't want algae in their tank

Quote:
I have used the phosban before, and the liquid.
Phosphate removers are more of a bandaid then anything. They help in the short run, but in the long run they mean squat. And if they aren't taken care of properly, they can actually turn against you. I would just stop using it all together.

Quote:
I have play sand in my refuigum but everything I have read says that is fine and will not leach any silcates.
That's fine. And no, they won't. Unless your tank is about 500' deep. Also, what sand grain size do you have? If it's too fine, you won't be able to properly denitrify. If it's too coarse, then you will have too much aerobic area.
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  #9  
Old 06/14/2006, 11:56 AM
bljohnson bljohnson is offline
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I agree with everything Travis says. He has been pretty much covered all the bases.
  #10  
Old 06/14/2006, 12:07 PM
Travis L. Stevens Travis L. Stevens is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by bljohnson
I agree with everything Travis says. He has been pretty much covered all the bases.
Did you call me a "has been"?!
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  #11  
Old 06/14/2006, 12:09 PM
Dwayne Dwayne is offline
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One question from my observation here. How old is the tank? you say you've been messing with it for 6 months, but how long has the tank been running?

This could be (depending on age of tank) nothing more than a 'normal' cycle being compounded by trying to 'fix' it.

Every new tank will go through various cycles (not just the amonia spike) before stabilizing. One of those cycles is macroalgae growth.

JMO
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  #12  
Old 06/14/2006, 12:13 PM
Travis L. Stevens Travis L. Stevens is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by dstalfire
I feed half a cube per day, and my tank is about 3 years old. I never stir the sand, but my water never looks clear. It always looks like stuff is floating in it.
Here you go Dwayne
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  #13  
Old 06/14/2006, 12:17 PM
Dwayne Dwayne is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Travis L. Stevens
Here you go Dwayne
Fine, point out the obvious. (insert image of smilie crawling back under a rock)


With the obvious statements now make clear, I agree with Travis' earlier reccommendations.
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  #14  
Old 06/14/2006, 12:33 PM
dstalfire dstalfire is offline
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What valuable information. I will post my water parameters tomorrow. I will have the water tested at 2 different lfs.
  #15  
Old 06/14/2006, 12:38 PM
cwegescheide cwegescheide is offline
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>>>>fluvial 304 canister with no media in it to lower nitrates
I'd bet this is only adding fuel to the fire.

>>>>I do weekly water changes 5% per week with RO water form the lfs.

I also agree with the others that 5% is not enough and I'd be willing to bet the farm that the RO your getting from your LFS is not good. I did the same thing for a long time and the TDS was 40!!!

Ask them to check their TDS and watch what happens. This should help a lot.

Chris
  #16  
Old 06/14/2006, 12:38 PM
Travis L. Stevens Travis L. Stevens is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by dstalfire
What valuable information. I will post my water parameters tomorrow. I will have the water tested at 2 different lfs.
Make sure you get numbers, see it yourself, and even ask for the employee to call over another employee for a second opinion whenever possible.

FWIW, if any of the tests show any amount of Nitrates and/or Phosphates, then you know that there is a problem. If both tests show zero, then the algae is consuming the nutrients too quickly, but that is a great start.
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  #17  
Old 06/14/2006, 01:14 PM
djmuzzi djmuzzi is offline
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I had the same exact problem. Something is killing your algae-eaters. It is typically a chemistry problem that one of your tests is not showing (might be old or had a reagent evaporate).


I completely broke down my setup as you did & scrubbed all of the rock with a toothbrush. I stirred up the sand & did about a 75% water change. After that I replaced the clean-up crew & Corals & reduced my light period to 6 hours hor a while.

Now I am clean!
  #18  
Old 06/16/2006, 09:51 AM
dstalfire dstalfire is offline
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Well I am even more confused now. I went and did my water test, and here is the results:

Nitrates - 10 ppm
Nitrites - 0
PH - 8.1 - 8.2
Salinity - 1.025
Amonia - 0
Calcium - 320
Alkalinity - 140 ppm
TDS - ? No one had a test for this.

So in other words, my water is near perfect, yet I have hair algae every where and I have snails dieing off. I do beleive I may have a mantis or pistol shrimp in there somewhere, due to the fact that I hear clicking every once in a while.

What do I do? Do I go buy a hundred hermit crabs, some large mexican turbos, scrub all the rock and hope it is gone?

I was also told there are two types of phosphates? 1 in the water and another that forms on the rock and sand that the algae will eat, and water changes will not remove? Is this true?

Thanks for any input.

Dan
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  #19  
Old 06/16/2006, 10:07 AM
Travis L. Stevens Travis L. Stevens is offline
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Phosphate is phosphate. Algae will use this regardless of the form. So, as long as there is phosphate, nitrate, light, and a slew of other things in the tank, you will have algae. If you can get rid of any one of those, then your algae will die. For example, no light; no algae, and no nitrate; no algae.

Also, your tank isn't "near perfect" In fact, it's not even close. Sorry Ten ppm of Nitrates is way more than enough to have a tank covered in algae. You also have to remember, that is just excess nitrates that are in the water column. That test is inaccurate to the sense that algae is also consuming it. So, for all you know, on a daily basis, you will have 20-40 ppm of Nitrates before the algae consume it. Also, your Calcium is a low. I'm not 100% sure how to convert a ppm reading of Alkalinity to something I'm more familiar with; dkh and meq/L. If I remember right, that Alkalinity is a little high. If that is the case, then that might also be one of the reasons why things aren't doing so well in your tank. FYI, when you test the TDS, you're testing the total dissolved solids. You normally test the TDS on freshwater. More commonly right before you make it into saltwater.

First and more importantly, I would step back and take a breather. Take some time to read some articles and books and help familiarize yourself with the chemicals in the aquarium and learn how they all effect each other. Then, once you know what the chemicals are and do, then start taking steps to correct them. Once they are corrected, then you should be able to start taking steps to solving the algae problem. And the best part is in the mean time while you are learning and correcting things, the algae will most likely grow and then start to die off. Especially if you drastically reduce your feedings.

Make sure that you read up on what Calcium and Alkalinity really are and how it effects the aquarium first. Once you are familiar with that, here are some steps to take to correct that problem. Most likely, you will see an improvement in water clarity and invertebrate growth. http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/nov2002/chem.htm
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  #20  
Old 06/16/2006, 10:14 AM
dstalfire dstalfire is offline
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While studying should I do massive water changes? Add hermit crabs, snails, etc..? If I don't will I be running the risk of the algae killing all of my corals, and such?
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  #21  
Old 06/16/2006, 10:51 AM
Travis L. Stevens Travis L. Stevens is offline
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It wouldn't hurt to do a waterchange of a significant proportion. Something in the neighborhood of 20%. Give or take about 10%. I wouldn't add any new livestock of any sorts yet. Your bioload wouldn't be able to properly handle such a hit and would just cause more algae in the long run. Also, the only major way that the algae would really hurt the corals is if they started to grow on the skeleton of a coral and begin to push the tissue back. At the moment, I would just do water changes and pull large clumps out as often as possible while you are gaining knowledge. Focus more on knowledge though, don't spend too much time picking at stuff. Other than that, your livestock should be fine. And though it looks ugle, the algae is actually helping you as long as you manually take out the algae.
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  #22  
Old 06/16/2006, 10:58 AM
Travis L. Stevens Travis L. Stevens is offline
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Also, I know that this is frustrating. And more bad news is it could take a while to get all the algae gone. But once all the algae is gone; you know what's going on in your tank and why; and are doing proper maintenance, then this should solve your algae problems almost indefinitely. Or at least until you slip up Definitely be patient. It might take a few months to accomplish this.

Also, I know it sounds a little unconventional to just let the algae stay in the tank, but think of it this way. It's all a circle of life. When things decompose, it turns into "algae food". The algae then uses it and stores some of it. If the algae dies and is left to rot, it becomes "algae food" too. So, it's a never ending cycle. But if you manually remove it, you are metaphorically lifting out future "algae food" in a concentrated form. Therefore breaking the cycle. But you need to leave some algae (usually people leave things like Chaetomorpha in a refugium) to take any residual "algae food". Eventually, there won't be enough "food" to sustain all the algae, so whatever is in a refugium will take it up before new algae growth can form.

**"Algae Food" is my short way of saying Nitrates, Phophates, Iron, etc that help fuel algal growth.
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  #23  
Old 06/16/2006, 11:41 AM
Chupakabra-King Chupakabra-King is offline
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Patience man , Patience .

I just started up a tank that has been dormant for 2 years after a crash . All I did was add TAP WATER for topoff . Needless to say I had a nutrient soup instead of water . I did a 50% water change at first , then replaced the return pump that had blowed up and caused the crash . Then added my lights . BIG alge problem after about 2 weeks . I mean you couldn't see rocks because of the hair algae . I ended up scrubbing the rocks off and added a light cleanup crew and a clump of grape caulerpa to compete with the nuisance algae . Waterchanges at 20% (with RO water) once a month . I kept pruning back the caulerpa once a week and the HA began to die off . After the HA left me cyano followed . I was cleaning the sand once a week . I am talking about a thick mat of cyano all over the sand and on some of the live rock . I stand today with no HA and only a little divot of cyano left . The cleanup crew is cleaning up whats left. I really believe in adding some fast growing macro algae to compete for nutrients . It will shorten the life of the nuisance algae . Just keep pruning it back and you will be good to go .


Good Luck ! You can beat it !
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  #24  
Old 06/16/2006, 12:49 PM
Sk8r Sk8r is offline
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Try to get to:
alk: 8.3-11
cal: 400-420
salinity 1.024-6
temp 80
mg. 1200
phosphate 0
ammonia 0
nitrite 0
nitrate 0...
And I absolutely agree: get a TDS meter [total dissolved solids] and test the water of that fish store you have been relying on.
When you have problems that defy solution, best go to a) what's unusual [you've answered that], and b) what have I trusted without question [that fish store.]
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  #25  
Old 06/16/2006, 01:02 PM
dstalfire dstalfire is offline
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what do you all think of running my own ro di unit and mixing my own salt. I see I can get a nice set up on ebay for $30, and it is a pain to drag the water jugs back and forth to the pet store?
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