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Should I increase my clean-up crew?


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My tank is just about 7 months old, and algae is really starting to bother me. It's light on most rocks, and not really noticable, but some rocks are covered, and look horrible. On those rocks that it is out of control, it comes out of a lot of tight areas where it looks like the snails never bother to go. Overall, the tank is not too bad (certainly not has horrific as some of the algae stories I've seen here), but the rocks just don't look nice and clean like I see on some people's reefs and at the LFS. Some of this algae is regular hair type, it's easy to remove, I can pull it off or scrub it with a toothbrush. Some of it is a much tougher hair looking algae that does not budge when hit with a toothbrush, and is even pretty tough to pull out.


My current clean-up crew consists of 5 astreae, 5 cerith, 1 large turbo snail, 3 unknown hermits (they came with some blue legs, but are NOT blue legs. they are the only one's left too), and an emerald crab I added two days ago. Should I bump the number of asteae's up to maybe 10? Pickup some trochus snails? Add an army of blue legs (like 20)? I'm at a loss here.


I know I should try to eliminate the fuel for the algae before I add more critters, but I don't know what else to do. I use RO/DI that I make myself that tests 0 on the TDS out of the unit. I run a HOB fuge filled with chaeto that grows very well. I have a HOB filter that has chemi-pure and phosban in it. And, I do 3 gallon water changes weekly. My nitrates and phosphates are both undetectable on salifert tests.


So, is this just a case of lack of critters, or something else?

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That would be a good start, adding more clean up critters that is. That may just be a band aid until the reason for the algae is discovered and eleminated. The fact that you have so much algae could be hiding the true levels of Phosphates in your system. With no algae growing I am willing to bet your phosphates would rise a bit at least


You didnt mention anything about lighting. How old are your bulbs and what is the Kelvin rating of them. Its possible that your bulbs my have shifted its color spectrum a bit. This would be more conducive to growing algae as opposed to other desitreable things in out tanks. Another trick I have often used, primarily on bigger tanks where I have more lighting, is to run actinics only for short periods of time. Ie...I will run actinics only for a couple of days and then revert back to the standard lighting regimen, then repeat as neccessary. This works as the actinics just dont provide the light needed by algae to "thrive". This slows its growth down and gives my clean up crew time to get the upper hand. Just an idea...


You didnt mention it either but whats the feeding regimen? I would suggest a very limited diet for a week or two for all of my critters. Dont starve the poor guys, as thats not what I am saying. Just feed sparingly for a couple of weeks. Less fuel = less algae.


You might want to at the next water change take out the rock and scub it down a bit using the water you are taking out of the tank, that way nothing dies off on you, then place the cleaner rock back in the tank. I realize you have used a tooth brush but maybe something a bit stiffer bristle wise might be in order.


When was the last time you changed your RO/DI filters? This may not be a mitigating factor but I am reaching for stars here in a effort to help you find a solution.


For a clean up crew...I try to keep one snail minimum for per a gallon and i usually run closer to 1.5 snails per a gallon. I use lots of Asterias, Banded Trochus, Bumble Bee, Nassarious and Cerith snails in my tanks. As for Hermits...I use about .75 hermits per a gallon. I prefer the smaller Dwarf Blue Legs myself. They are smaller and can get into nooks and crannies a little better than Scarlet Reef Hermits. Due to there smaller size I find I have less snails dead too. Not to mention the fact that I can gets lots of these Blue Legs for a lot less than I can a few Scarlet Reef hermits. Prehaps some Miniature Serpent Stars could be of a benefit in a Nano Reef too all though Brittle and Serpent Stars are better suited to larger tanks. Fighting Conches are an asset too but again except for the really small ones maybe too much for a nano reef. Again my numbers may be high, prehaps even insaine to many, but then I have 7 tanks and I have had almost non-existant algae problems unlike many before me, even when breaking these tanks in! Just something to consider...


These are just things that have worked for me in the past. I have had increadibly few issues with nusince(sp?) algae and the very few times its raised its ugly head I have jumped all over it immeadiately

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Thanks for the response.


I have 1 10000K 70w MH bulb that is about two months old, 1 32w Actinic 03 PC bulb that is about two months old, and 1 40w blue actinic PC bulb that is about 5-6 months old.


I have two fish, 1 Percula Clown, and one 6-line wrasse, both are small. They are fed only 3-4 times per week, once per day, only as much as they can eat, and I make sure all excess is either removed, or eaten by the cleaner shrimp.


The RO/DI unit is pretty new, only used about 5 times now. The TDS on the RO/DI is 0 out of the unit.


Taking the rock out and scrubbing it isn't really an option at this point. I have a lot of corals attached to the rocks, so it would be very hard to remove it, and rework the rock.


I think I should up my crew though. My tank is 16 gallons, and I only have 11 snails total. I think I might pick up 5 banded trochus for the tank, that might help. My asteae snails are largely useless, because they spend 90% of their day on the glass or powerheads.


I think I might pick up 5 trochus snails, and get about 12 really snall blue legs. I'll banish the mystery hermits (who are getting huge) to the fuge. I'm a bit worried that the hermits will take out some snails, but there is no way the snails can get to all the places the hermits can, so I need them. I already have a fighting conch, he is a tireless worker.

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just add more hermits, unless you are getting a bunch of brown algae, then add more snails too.


maybe a water change to reduce the nutrients causing the algae

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I'm just trying to figure if I should add snails, hermits, or both. Today I was almost going to buy a hermit army, about 20, and see how that went, but the LFS was out.


I do weekly water changes. Usually 3 gallons, but some weeks it's 4.


I wonder if it would be worth it to add a coralife super skimmer or a piccolo skimmer to my HOB fuge? I have no room for any other type of skimmer, but something is better than nothing.

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The skimmer if you can add one certianly wouldnt hurt. I would also guess that the Hermits would be a little more of a priority for clean up crew for the moment as they will be more likely to hit the algae. I would just add a few snails a little later in the game when things are back to normal. I am not sure what eles to suggest given all of the info you have provided. At anyrate, good luck with the battle!

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