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algae? why so bad?


overgrownaquatics

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overgrownaquatics

I've been thinking lately...why does everyone seem to flip out when their tank gets algae? Isn't it an essential part to a balanced reef? I heard that the natural reef is like 70% algae, plus I also recently read that CYANO actually produces nutrients for coral. Also, algae provides food for all sorts of critters in our tank (like the cleanup crew)

 

I have hair and bubble algae in my tank at 1 month and while there is a bunch of it, it never seemed to bloom out of control...it always seems that all the varieties of algae in my tank are competing for survival, and they strike a balance. My hair and cyano both remain localized.

When I got my clean-up crew I made sure to go small...I didn't want them to wipe out their food supply in one night. Looks like they've struck a balance.

 

Also, I think it's pretty to look at. The hair algae waves around in the current, and the bubble algae is actually kindof cool. I eventually will get a regugium, but I also will not attempt the wholesale erradication of algae from my main tank

 

OA

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algae is ugly and can foul coral and gear, as well as compact the substrata. cyanobacteria can fix nitrogen but only when it is exposed to high levels of molybdenum, coral can get enough nitrogen in an aquarium in the form of NO3.

Wild reef are 70% algae? I would love to know where this number came from!

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EtOH_is_good

well in your situation they seem to be under control, but most ppl can't seem to control their's because of high nutrient levels. i think most ppl flip only when they cant manage it and don't know something is off kilter.

 

ps id also like to know more about the 70% being algae.

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All in all I think you make some really good points. I think the 70% algae reefs is way off however. That said, I think too many, particularily new reefers, load their tanks with unsutainable levels of clean-up crews... Setting themselves up for die-off and replacement and die-off again, etc... These clean-up animals can/should live for years for the most part.

 

I have never seen bubble algae get out of control and also find it relatively attractive. I wonder if anyone can describe an experience where bubble algae became a serious problem?

 

Hair algae is another story! Having had a hair algae outbreak myself that lasted for close to 5 months... That literally took over my tank, killing corals, snails, etc... I would not hesitate to react to hair algae that is spreading -- with water changes or checking my source water (that was the main cause (I believe) to my major outbreak), etc...

 

But I do think that many overreact and overload their tanks with unnecessary clean-up animals that basically will starve to death in a matter of months. Balance is key.

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overgrownaquatics

read that thing about reefs having super high concentrations of algae quite a while ago...couldn't really point you to the link, and 70% is merely a rough estimate of what it said...But I swear I read it somewhere!

 

Anyway, it make sense to me...obviously algae is important or we wouldn't grow it in our refugiums. You say it is ugly, I disagree. It is only ugly when it overruns everything. I think it is beautiful...I am thinking that if kept in check it may serve a beneficial ecological funtion for the tank...like providing an endless supply of food for my herbivores!

 

Oh, and I like the pretty green color. Definately gonna get some cool macro algae for my tank!

 

(a plant geek as well a fish geek, if that explains anything)

 

OA

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Here is a nice article... http://www.com.univ-mrs.fr/IRD/atollpol/ec...at/ukalgrec.htm

It does not answer the question at hand however...

 

I would think that what you read may be that 70% of exposed rock surfaces are typically covered by algae (corelline) in a natural reef? Just a guess.

 

In terms of actually living material (flora and fauna) I would guess algae accounts for less than 10% of the total mass.

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I don't think that's something you can really put a number on. How would you? First off, every reef is different. And second, how would you measure it? Size? Weight? Displacement? Not really possible....

 

As for algae in the tank... I hate it. I wish there wasn't a single hair algae cell in my main tank and I could do without cyano as well. Sure, it has it's place in these "ecosystems" we've created... it's called the refugium! Imo, algae is extremely ugly, as well as annoying. It is constantly growing around and in between my zoos, causing them to stay partially closed...

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overgrown is quite correct. many believe that 'reefs' are built on the remains of 'coral'. this is simply not true. the vast majority of 'reefs' are built on the remains of halimeda algae. how can this be so if algae does not make up the majority of 'reefs'? all studies show that if herbivores are netted off of reefs and algae is allowed unrestricted growth, the 'reef' is soon covered.

 

but that is a separate issue from the original question.. "is algae bad?". the easy answer is ... no, it is not. this is because algae 'cleans' water, removing excess nutrients such as phosphate, and allowing it to join the 'cycle' by being consumed by herbivores and pooped out as ammonia.

 

an algae such has coraline can do far worse LONG TERM damage to a tank than most other algaes because it covers rock and prevents the cycle from occuring by preventing water exchange. yet coraline is considered 'good' while 'cycle' algaes such as hair algae is considered 'bad'. why? because coraline is 'puuurty' and hair is 'fugly'. yet the hair is telling you a story about your tank, and curing the problem that it is exposing at the same time.

 

 

nalbar

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reefs are not built on halimeda directly. after death, the CaCO3 in the algaes cells stays calicfied and is broken into fine "Bits" by wave action (among other things). these "bits" then mix with calcareous and siliceous ooze (as well as a thousand other materials) to form a benthic substratum. it is on this sustatum that tropical hermatypic begin to build up and form reefs. so...in a way reef beging to form on some algae, but the vast majority of what we see are built on ther remains of coral.

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