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Scruffy_77

Diatoms/Dino

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Scruffy_77

Hi All,

 

I am new to this forum as a poster but have visited many times over the course of my marine hobby. I have now hit a problem where I cannot quite tell the situation so was hoping to get some thoughts. 

 

My tank has been setup for just over two years, and in the last year things have been as perfect as I could ask for. My maintenance has been rigid and regular. My tank is an Aqua One 90 litre  Nano, I wet skim 24/7 and run a phosban reactor keeping my phosphates at 0. My lighting is an AI prime with the David Saxby schedule. I have a Jebao SW4 wave maker on random mode and cannot see any dead spots. As mentioned, things have been perfect for a year or more. 

 

My issue is around two weeks ago now, my pearly white sand started to develop what I thought were diatoms on the sand bed... which confused me to why as my cycle happened around two years ago now. I used a Turkey blaster to remove as much as I could however they seemed to come back with a vengeance after my water change. I know it's not cyano as in my early days I had a battle with it which nearly made me chuck the towel in, but finally I won therefore I am familiar with this pest. My worry is that it could be dinoflagellates, although my conch snail seems to be munching on it day in day out with no issues, my other cuc are all living happily too. 

 

My Parameters:
Nitrates: 0ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Phosphates: 0ppm
PH: 8.2
Mag: 1300
Ammonia: 0ppm

Salinity 1.025

 

As it seems to be expanding to the rock work, I planned to buy some Dino X which I had read works well for dinoflagellates which I am so worried they could be, however I also got a TDS meter delivered this morning to test my RO water - I do not make my own RO, I buy it weekly from the LFS. Anyway my reading came out at 3ppm which then made me wonder if silicates are getting in on my top off's. I am no expert and literally reading, researching as I go. I did also buy a microscope of Amazon to see if I could identify - but I couldn't tell. A picture is attached, but any thoughts, ideas, or guidance would be really appreciated. 

 

Thanks!

 

 

IMG_20180212_193718532.jpg

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brandon429

One way to correct that is especially fast and thorough. Take the tank apart, rinse the entire sandbed clean and put it all back together skip cycle

 

we have a thread of 20 tanks doing this as examples, all sizes, some with much more delicate coral yours will be fine 

 

 

the other way involves you adding medicine or altering tank parameters that your corals aren’t calling for. The reason I’m invader free for 12 yrs is option 1 

 

option one doesnt need to know what kind of invader you have, it fixes them all

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brandon429

If you want to take an incremental measure before you rip clean, export the invader for a week and see how virulent it is

 

basting mixes the invader around in the tank 

 

but if you turn off pumps and use siphon to remove it all out by hand, then Replace the water, we can tell how strong it is by how it comes back 

 

due to delay in action, can’t evaulate that after just one or two attempts. Be removing it via siphon, no other cheats after five or so attempts and we can learn more about your invader than with any other means. ID ing it at the cellular level will not determine actions better than what we already use in our sand rinse thread which turns out only cured tanks.

 

your tank is not off, there’s nothing wrong, real reefs produce these growths to feed their invaders, only your own work and export component has been missing, everything I use to be invader free is pure work and no form of coaxing, parameter alteration, or wait. I’m the missing grazer. 

 

Its ideal to verify your ro/di water and reinstate zero tds, but we have examples of your invasion from other causes, too white lighting is another, and searching for causes isn’t how we run the thread, it’s only fixes. There are many other ways, a simple uv sterilizer and a hand siphon session would fix it without any work at all but that’s more hardware 

 

in my opinion the way to see your tank is a given organism found a niche for a little while. its unanchored, common on reefs, and has direct grazers in nature, so nothing is really off. For it to only be on the sandbed pretty lightly (cross section pic shows a rather clean bed) after no hand guiding outside the tank reflects well on its control-ability in my opinion.

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Scruffy_77

Thanks Brandon, Appreciate your feedback. The more I spend time thinking about it, I am leaning toward diatoms because my RO isn't at zero tds. As the day has moved on, the clean up crew have made it look better than that picture first thing this morning. 

 

In regards of rinsing the sand, I am interested in this but never put any thought into it. Do you mean by following this process I would be able to reinstate everything literally after without invoking a new cycle process? There might be a thread already detailing this, apologies if I have missed it. 

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brandon429

here is one, just to see examples in other people's tanks. we can 100% not lose animals. its a work heavy undertaking, big water changes etc and there's often some simpler single param/adjustment that can make a given non anchored invader go away much simpler...that's why all these varying methods exist, each proponent of a given system had that work for them.

 

in this thread we just group all sandbed invasions as 1. I like them and want to keep or 2. I don't like them and want them gone, then we effect that on any tank that wants the undertaking

 

its a bit of a read, but considering the nature of the work its really handy to see others attempt before yours:

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/the-official-sand-rinse-thread-aka-one-against-many.230281/#post-2681445

 

if you choose that route, we can document it all here then Ill link you back to that thread.

 

there are incremental ways to assess and possibly remedy it wo the big work, but if you want to just be done with it, that's all we do there all day long.

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brandon429

there is one other unspoken benefit from the rinse portion of that thread: a cloudless, fuel-less workable sandbed.

 

 

right now if you lifted up a grip of that sand and dropped it down, the whole tank would cloud. after that thread, it wont, and that allows you certain freedoms in the future, and loss mitigation controls (my rock stack fell while I was on vacation, only it didn't cloud the whole tank for ex) even if the invader somehow doesn't respond and comes back (but the thread doesn't show that at all)

 

so per that thread, even if you do the work and it comes back (not likely) you have upgraded your tank anyway by having a cloudless, no liability no fuel for at least green hair algae one day sandbed. more invaders are coming, and a cloudless sandbed allows access in a UNIQUE way to guide them right out ha! (because you can work the tank as needed once its cloudless, then it wont recycle, and it provides less direct fuel to these invaders)

 

perhaps the best outcome possible from the thread isn't the invader cure, its the ability to call what a tank will do before you do it, then run a given dive and come out unscathed. one day you might have a really serious invasion, then it w be familiar ground. less hesitation due to practicing now in my opinion.

 

*there are tons of places like algagen that sell recharging kits of pods, detritus eaters and bugs galore, which very well could just eat that stuff, who knows. To put some of them back into a fully cleaned system seems ideal, and a clean start to add more alternate options here.

 

*your sandbed is finer than most, and wont have the same penetration of detritus as most beds will. still, never hurts to clean one if you want. being able to pass a drop test is what matters, even if its just cleaning out silt (which does coincide with diatoms we show) that could really help.

 

most people will not start a sandbed with a rinse out of bacterial fear. in doing so, we keep super high surface area powder silicate as a portion of our sandbed and that may not be helpful at times. to have zero silt sure is helpful, we show. if you have a 2 yr old sandbed with fish above it that is cloudless, then you are the first to run one that clean this whole time.

 

most have some waste pent up, and we remove that waste and the invader all in one pass and put the corals, rock and fish back into totally clean water. I sometimes use Dasani or other drinking water as topoff when im lzy/out of distilled

 

certainly not 0/0

 

the impact is nothing to my system other than some light diatom/cyano growth on the glass which is wiped off during maintenance.

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Clown79

You will not experience a cycle even when replacing a sand bed. Liverock is the biological filter and this doesn't change just by being moved. Rocks need die off to have a spike/cycle.

 

You can take down a tank following proper procedures and reset it or upgrade with no issue.

 

You can remove a bit of sand with waterchanges and wash it and place back into the tank- no issues. 

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Scruffy_77

Thanks everyone for the responses, I shall certainly look and read into this. Appreciate the input. 

 

I guess my initial queries are where do I put my livestock, cuc and corals whilst I go about the task.

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brandon429

any holding container, paint buckets home depot are nice. do you want to try just hand removing them for a week or so, with bluer lighting, to see if that makes them go away

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Clown79
On 13/02/2018 at 1:00 PM, Scruffy_77 said:

Thanks everyone for the responses, I shall certainly look and read into this. Appreciate the input. 

 

I guess my initial queries are where do I put my livestock, cuc and corals whilst I go about the task.

I broke down my 15g to upgrade to a 25g.

 

I documented every step I did in my journal. From prep, break down, to re set up.

 

someone suggested it and I thought it was a good idea in case someone ever needed the help. 

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brandon429

Hey can you link that I tried to find

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mcarroll
On 2/13/2018 at 7:18 AM, Scruffy_77 said:

run a phosban reactor keeping my phosphates at 0

 

On 2/13/2018 at 7:18 AM, Scruffy_77 said:

As mentioned, things have been perfect for a year or more. 

 

On 2/13/2018 at 7:18 AM, Scruffy_77 said:

Nitrates: 0ppm

Phosphates: 0ppm

You may have taken "perfection" too far for your system to tolerate.  It sounds like you've caused a dinoflagellate bloom.

 

STOP immediately on all carbon dosing and phosphate reducing strategies.

 

Can you post a pic of the algae?  

 

Do you have at least a toy microscope available?

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Scruffy_77

So an update on this as I never did feedback.

22 hours ago, mcarroll said:

 

You may have taken "perfection" too far for your system to tolerate.  It sounds like you've caused a dinoflagellate bloom.

STOP immediately on all carbon dosing and phosphate reducing strategies.

Do you have at least a toy microscope available?

I think you were spot on there, my parameters were probably too perfect as I took OCD to the extreme. I used my daughters microscope to look at the algae and it certainly took a match to dino's... So I immediately went to the LFS and they had some stuff called Marin Fauna Dino X which I bought, turned off the reactor's etc... After a week it had pretty much cleared up so stopped the dosing - a few days later it was gone and now I am back on schedule. 

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Scruffy_77
22 hours ago, mcarroll said:

You may have taken "perfection" too far for your system to tolerate.  It sounds like you've caused a dinoflagellate bloom.

 

Just a thought since replying, do over perfect conditions have a cause and effect on dino's?

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mcarroll

Sounds like you're on track! :)

 

Keep moderate nutrient levels and you should avoid relapse:

NO3: ≥5 ppm

PO3: ≥0.03 ppm

 

I like those as minimums.....as long as your algae aren't blooming*, there's no harm from letting numbers be even higher.  

 

But having at least that much in the water allows for consumption by corals and untold numbers of microbes that depend directly or indirectly on their presence.  As the tank matures this will be less and less important....eventually microbes and algae will be VERY good at consuming and recycling nutrients in the tank and the levels in the water will mean even less than they do today.  (Take a look at some of the notable reefs that run at nutrient levels that would make most people's heads spin.....either it's a magic trick, or it works, right?)

 

 

*In a nutshell: Algae growing isn't the same as algae blooming:  Some algae growth is normal and healthy.  An algae bloom is a response to a disturbance, like adding a bunch of fish all at once, and is not normal.

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Scruffy_77

Excellent, thanks mate! Really appreciate the advice. 

 

I shall deactivate my phosphate reactor for a while as my PO3 is literally 0 constantly. I know a lot of people say you shouldn't really need one in a Nano. I do a 10% water change every week and my nitrates have been 0 for some time - other than feeding some more, or longer duration's in water changes is there anything other that could up my nitrates ever so slightly?

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mcarroll
7 minutes ago, Scruffy_77 said:

 

Just a thought since replying, do over perfect conditions have a cause and effect on dino's?

They do, and I'm glad you asked!  :happy: 

 

Starvation is the tool you're using against your tank in a scenario like yours.

 

You can starve out some algae – they just die off when nutrients become inaccessible.  

 

But guess what:  Some algae don't give up so easily.  

 

These days dino's actually aren't known as algae anymore or even autotrophs – although they are very algae-like and do live autotrophically.  Now they are mostly known as "mixotrophs" – they live a dual existence as an autotroph when possible, but as a heterotroph when necessary.

 

Coincidentally, dino's are terrible at most things that seem to matter....they are poor swimmers....they are ultra-sensitive to light....they are terrible are uptake of dissolved nutrients.  

 

These traits all come out to play once dino's start blooming.

 

Their inability to compete for nutrients at low concentration levels is probably the first thing that cue's dino's toward heterotrophy.

 

If we stack the deck against them by saturating the environment with organic carbon and causing a bacterial bloom – which is very capable of scavenging even trace levels of nutrients from the water – then that cements the starvation cue AND provides an ample food source that they can use for carbon and nutrient acquisition.

 

Convenient!

 

So what are they doing with that photosynthetic machinery that's still working, fixing carbon?  

 

Mucus!  Toxins!

 

Mucus solves their sensitivity to light and inability to swim well by providing physical cover from the light and a medium that sinks.  Mucus is also their primary vehicle for the toxins they generate (on par with and similar to palytoxin – use activated carbon!) so any starving microbes – or snails – that come and try to eat them either get really dopy and stop moving, or they outright die.  Less grazing; more future food for them!

 

If they become established, they can actually perpetuate this state of bacteria keeping the tank nutrient-bare.  The detritus they leave – essentially their skeleton – is a massive carbon source for bacteria to use.  Bacteria will continue blooming on that detritus, preventing anything else like normal algae from recovering by keeping nutrient levels ultra-low.  Dino's will keep blooming on the ample bacteria available as food. Etc. Etc.  Toxin levels can eventually build high enough to kill all higher life in the tank and affect the tank keeper!

 

So post-dino bloom I always recommend keeping ample nutrients in the water – at least long enough that you forget why you were doing it. ;) 

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mcarroll
16 minutes ago, Scruffy_77 said:

Excellent, thanks mate! Really appreciate the advice. 

 

I shall deactivate my phosphate reactor for a while as my PO3 is literally 0 constantly. I know a lot of people say you shouldn't really need one in a Nano. I do a 10% water change every week and my nitrates have been 0 for some time - other than feeding some more, or longer duration's in water changes is there anything other that could up my nitrates ever so slightly?

If nothing is being harmed and the dino's aren't apparently blooming, then I would just do what you've said already and see how it goes.

 

If there is any sign of relapse, then dosing nitrate and phosphate fertilizers are your best short-term bet (a la Seachem or Brightwell or DIY).....along with enhanced maintenance if you've been avoiding sand cleaning or water changes.

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mcarroll

I've saved all the research I've found to be useful so far on my blog, so check out the Dinoflagellates section if you're into some reading.

 

Two goodies to start with are these:

 

The second one is actually the first article I bumped into on the topic.

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Scruffy_77

Mcarroll, your knowledge on this is remarkable - I really appreciate you taking the time to detail this to me... I shall read your blog you have posted tonight and digest that information to get a better understanding as this all really interests me. I have always been interested in marine biology and my saltwater tank is the closest I can get with a full time opposite topic career. 

 

A hat tip to you from this side of the pond! 

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Scruffy_77

Sorry, just had a thought since my last post that I had not considered. I am about to leave work but thought I would ask before I go home and then read your links above, my Phosban is on 24/7 - would there be benefit not running it continuously?

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mcarroll

Nope....unless what you have turns out NOT to be dino's after all, GFO is going to be all-bad.

 

(You're talking to a internet/telecom refugee, BTW.  I can identify!)

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Scruffy_77

I assume as the Dino X cleared it up, must have been.

 

( haha, same life here mate... I was a sucker for the money and they were the prevalent industries when I started out so I chased the Sterling :). I watched David Attenborough's blue planet recently with envy of marine biologists and kept thinking if things were different... )

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Tamberav
On 2/13/2018 at 9:43 AM, brandon429 said:

here is one, just to see examples in other people's tanks. we can 100% not lose animals. its a work heavy undertaking, big water changes etc and there's often some simpler single param/adjustment that can make a given non anchored invader go away much simpler...that's why all these varying methods exist, each proponent of a given system had that work for them.

 

in this thread we just group all sandbed invasions as 1. I like them and want to keep or 2. I don't like them and want them gone, then we effect that on any tank that wants the undertaking

 

its a bit of a read, but considering the nature of the work its really handy to see others attempt before yours:

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/the-official-sand-rinse-thread-aka-one-against-many.230281/#post-2681445

 

if you choose that route, we can document it all here then Ill link you back to that thread.

 

there are incremental ways to assess and possibly remedy it wo the big work, but if you want to just be done with it, that's all we do there all day long.

 

Thinking about siphoning out the sand bed and rinsing it in the tank water next water change. Is there a right micron filter sock or something I can use to help separate the small particles? I have a lot of life in the sand bed, spaghetti worms and such I don't want to lose. I feel the sand bed could use a seep cleaning though, more than the siphoning I do. Maybe just stir it up good and poor off the silt/waste? Tank has been up 7 months. 

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brandon429

we have never pre filtered for the goodies but I wish you would! take good pics we can brainstorm something, its such a great idea to remove only the waste/silt and put back the goods. plus, w companies like Algen or something close to that spelling, goog w correct lol, we can just buy the replacements should the pre filter not work.

 

 

agreed you can catch some pouring onto a mesh cloth or something, look for the wigglers, and catch em with a spoon lol then move to a holding container? whatever you come up with, at least its a doc'd first attempt at self regeneration of the cleaned sandbed

 

 

you'd be addressing the #2 reason people don't want to touch sandbeds. nothing will ever top bacterial concern as the #1

 

even those animals are incidental, your corals wont mind or be affected if they're removed. but to practice keeping biodiversity in place? that's 100% reefing.

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