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STAXCIII

Algae problem, suggestions?

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STAXCIII

Hey all, I am having an algae problem in my tank and I am not sure what to do. It is a biocube 16 gallon that has been set up for about 2 months now. I did a fishless cycle with 10 pounds of CaribSea Live sand, about 12 pounds of dry rock from my old 55 gallon tank from 5 years ago (rinsed, scrubbed and soaked in hydrogen peroxide before putting into the new tank), and 2 pounds of live rock from my LFS. 

 

My water parameters are all fine, Ammonia: 0 ppm, Nitrites: 0 ppm, Nitrates: Under 5 ppm, pH: 8.0, Salinity: 1.025. Tested with an API Reef Master kit. There is 2 Black Ocellaris Clowns, 2 Trochus Snails, 3 Nerite Snails, 2 Margarita Snails, and 3 Red Legged Hermits in the tank. As well as a Lavender Mushroom Coral that you can see in the included pictures. They have been in the tank for the last 2 weeks after a 5 week cycle. 

 

Other Equipment;

-KPS Powerhead set to the LPS/Soft Coral 50L Max setting in the Aqamai app.

-Neotherm 100 watt Heater

-InTank media basket with Seachem Matrix in the bottom and a Refugium in the middle chamber with Pom pom from Algaebarn, also have Chemipure Elite in the far left chamber with the return pump. 

- 2700K LED Light from InTank mounted on the rear of the aquarium with double sided tape for refugium. Started out at 8 hours a day but reduced to 6 after green algae started growing in fuge.

 

My light cycle was as followed:

LC1: 11am-7pm

LC2: 10:30am-7pm

LC3: 7am-12am.

 

This was changed after the algae outbreak in the past 7 days:

LC1: 12pm-6pm

LC2: 10:30am-6:30pm

LC3: 7am-11pm

 

I understand that diatoms are just a normal occurence in new tanks but the hair algae at the top of the tank is what concerns me. I found green hair algae growing in the refugium with the pom pom in my most  recent water change which I then trimmed out with scissors and reduced the light schedule for my refuge, I have been doing a 2.5 gallon water change weekly since I added the first of my CUC and fish 2 weeks ago and the Algae outbreak did not stark until 7 days ago. It started as diatoms then within a 2 day span I noticed the brown, stringy, algae forming at the top which then started to turn green in some spots. This is when I reduced the lighting. One of my hermits and nerite snails died during the night the first morning I noticed the "hair" algae growing. I am pretty sure the other larger hermit killed the smaller one and one of my clowns knocked the snail off the glass. I tested the water the day I noticed the hair algae and the crab and snail died. All my parameters were fine.

 

Is this something that will work itself out over time once my clean up crew and biological filtration mature? The tank receives no direct sunlight and I havent been feeding my clowns but one small pinch of pellets a day. Hair algae is what made me break down my old 55 gallon and i want to get this sorted before it drives me crazy again so any help would be appreciated. I apologize if this is to long or in the wrong place I am new to the forum as a member but have read many of the topics and journals of tanks similar to mine before purchasing one for myself. Jackals Biocube has been a particular inspiration. I hope I have provided enough information for someone to help, if not I would be happy to provide anything else that could help solve this problem. 

 

Thanks in Advance!

 

 

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seabass

Hi, :welcome: to Nano-Reef.com.

 

I started reading before seeing the pics, and was expecting something much worse.  It doesn't look terribly bad at this point.

 

The Gracilaria hayi (your pom pom) may have been added early.  It makes sense that algae is growing on it just like in the other parts of your tank.  I might have added the algae for the fuge after the inevitable ugly phase.  But it's in there now, so you might as well continue on.

 

I notice black sand.  A decent number of reefers seem to have anecdotal evidence that suggests black sand may generate more algae problems than the more typical white sand substrates.  I realize that sand is not an insignificant purchase, but I still might be tempted to replace it now, before you add additional livestock.

 

You are a part of your cleanup crew.  I would probably take a toothbrush to the bare rock with algae on it.  If possible, I might remove the rock in question and put it in a bucket of saltwater while brushing, to prevent the algae from spreading even more.

 

I would also beef up your existing cleanup crew.  I'd rather siphon out snail poop than fight algae.  Try more herbivorous snails.  The larger snails may be more inclined to snack on hair algae; but more herbivorous snails in general would be a move in a positive direction.

 

I notice that you don't test for phosphate.  It's a nutrient that, if left unchecked, may help accelerate algae growth.  I wouldn't use a high range test like API's phosphate kit; one of Hanna's ULR Checkers, for example, will give you a better picture of your tank's phosphate level.  Note that you don't want phosphate too low either.  I might shoot for a phosphate level about 0.03ppm until your tank matures , then a higher level may be possible without resulting in tons of algae.

 

I might also remove the Seachem Matrix.  It shouldn't be the cause of your algae, but the live rock is an adequate biofilter.  In addition, while ChemiPure is a good media, I feel that it doesn't last as long as they market it to last.  IMO, Seachem's activated carbon is a better buy.  You might even try using less than recommended, and changing it out more frequently.  And if you don't use filter floss as mechanical filtration, I would add that to your basket.

 

That said, and like I stated earlier, it doesn't look so bad.  But now is a good time to try to keep it in check.  Keep up on your maintenance (blow detritus off your rock with a turkey baster before siphoning it off the sand bed during water changes).  You might even up your flow, which will help keep food and detritus in suspension, which should help your filtration work better for you.

 

Good luck.

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Ratvan

Completely off topic, but I absolutely love your rock work!

 

I agree with @seabass above, was expecting something a lot worse. See if you can find some Astrea Snails, mine is doing great for me in my 5G. I was at much the same stage you are, I added the snail after manually removing as much as possible and now it keeps the algae down to a point where i no longer see it and constantly have to consider whether or not I need to supplement the tank with additional greens. (Nori)

 

 

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STAXCIII

Thank you for both for your replies and Ratvan for the compliment on my rock work! I spent way more time than I would care to admit getting it to that point so it is nice to hear someone else thinks it looks as good as I do lol

 

I forgot to mention that I am using filter floss in my media basket so that is taken care of. Also 2 weeks ago I added the 2 Astrae snails (I misidentified them), 1 Nerite and 2 Hermits. Just yesterday I added the rest of the CUC. I can already tell a difference! The margaritas and the largest Nerite are going to town on the algae so hopefully it should be under control in a few weeks. I also changed my chemical filtration to purigen and phosbond. I removed the chemipure but kept the matrix in as since it has been in my tank from the start I see no point in removing it now.

 

I was under the assumption that I was to add the pom pom once I added the first fish and the first of my CUC. Originally I wanted to use chaeto but it was unavailable, I am willing to toss the pom pom and start over with chaeto if it would make that much of a difference but if not then I am happy with what I have now.

 

My LFS did recommend dosing Vibrant. He gave me 10mL for my tank and said that in some cases it cures hair algae completely or at least reduces it. So if I see an improvement I might buy a bottle of that and use it moving forward or until the problem is gone. I tried scrubbing the bad areas with a toothbrush and sucking it up with my water siphon during my last water change but not much would come off and the rock is stabilized with some epoxy in some places so unless that is the only solution I would rather not have to pull any of the rock apart or take it out of the tank. Thanks again for yalls suggestions!

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seabass
22 minutes ago, STAXCIII said:

I am willing to toss the pom pom and start over with chaeto if it would make that much of a difference

It won't really make much of a difference.  It would collect other algae just like the Gracilaria has.

 

24 minutes ago, STAXCIII said:

My LFS did recommend dosing Vibrant.

Yeah IDK.  Stores love to sell you product.  Does it work?  Maybe.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that it might.  However, my preference would be to try to control algae without these bottled cures.

 

32 minutes ago, STAXCIII said:

The margaritas and the largest Nerite are going to town on the algae so hopefully it should be under control in a few weeks.

Keep up on it.  Buy more if necessary.  But watch so that you don't get so many that they starve to death.

 

35 minutes ago, STAXCIII said:

I also changed my chemical filtration to purigen and phosbond.

Watch your use of PhosBond.  It can potentially strip your tank of phosphate.  Also the ferric oxide can bind alkalinity was well as phosphate.  You need to monitor phosphate levels whenever using a phosphate remover.  Alkalinity tests are also warranted whenever using GFO.

 

39 minutes ago, STAXCIII said:

kept the matrix in as since it has been in my tank from the start I see no point in removing it now

:unsure:

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STAXCIII
1 hour ago, seabass said:

 

Watch your use of PhosBond.  It can potentially strip your tank of phosphate.  Also the ferric oxide can bind alkalinity was well as phosphate.  You need to monitor phosphate levels whenever using a phosphate remover.  Alkalinity tests are also warranted whenever using GFO.

 

:unsure:

I just planned to use it until the hair algae was gone then stick with just the purigen... What benefit does removing the matrix have? Is having to much biological filtration a bad thing? 

 

As for the vibrant, I understand and don't expect an instant cure. He gave it to me for free to test it out to see if it might work on my tank so I figured it was worth a shot. After your suggestions and my own research I hope that this will work itself out in time. I think the main culprit is my lights as I was warned that the white LEDS might cause algae growth and I think starting them out at 8 hours a day was to much as the hair algae is on the rock that gets the most light. I will play with the light schedule over the coming weeks to find a happy medium hopefully.

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seabass
43 minutes ago, STAXCIII said:

What benefit does removing the matrix have? Is having to much biological filtration a bad thing?

I can't definitively say what the benefits of removing it might be.  One might argue that concentrating the biological filter in the display could potentially provide a link in the food chain (like food for micro inverts).  Someone might argue that excess media may reduce flow through the filter chambers.  It might be considered just another thing to keep clean and maintain.  Some even argue that additional bio-media can result in excess nitrate (see nitrate factory).  That said, if you keep the media and filter chambers clean, it probably won't cause any harm.

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Tamberav

I have seen vibrant cure hair algae.... only to then cause cyano...so they use chemiclean.... which then leads to dino. Then they are wishing they had the GHA back instead 😂

 

Wispy GHA like this is normal after a cycle, especially with dry rock. I get it in my tanks at the end of a cycle. I really don't think you should chase it with vibrant. Even phosphate remover is ehhhh... put them together and maybe you can get some dino going 😱 

 

The reason for the GHA bloom after a cycle is because algae LOVES ammonia!! Which we have excess of during the cycle. 🙂 It is normal at this stage, grats your tank is normal, yay! 🥳

 

All you need is a decent enough CUC and regular maintenance and the GHA should go away and eventually be replaced by coralline. If you see certain snails eating it, get some more of those guys 😉 Bigger snails should eat it. The babies have a harder time and will probably munch film. 

 

Guess how much vibrant is for a little 8oz bottle? 28 dollars lol 

 

 

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STAXCIII
1 hour ago, seabass said:

I can't definitively say what the benefits of removing it might be.  One might argue that concentrating the biological filter in the display could potentially provide a link in the food chain (like food for micro inverts).  Someone might argue that excess media may reduce flow through the filter chambers.  It might be considered just another thing to keep clean and maintain.  Some even argue that additional bio-media can result in excess nitrate (see nitrate factory).  That said, if you keep the media and filter chambers clean, it probably won't cause any harm.

I appreciate the information and will definitely keep it in mind for the future. Keeping the back chambers clean is on my monthly to-do list. I just cleaned the return pump and tubing as well as vacuumed out the bottom of the media chamber whilst wiping out my media basket during my last water change. I also ordered a Hanna Phosphate checker like you suggested so i will keep an eye on those phosphate levels with the phosbond. Thank you for your help!

 

45 minutes ago, Tamberav said:

I have seen vibrant cure hair algae.... only to then cause cyano...so they use chemiclean.... which then leads to dino. Then they are wishing they had the GHA back instead 😂

 

Wispy GHA like this is normal after a cycle, especially with dry rock. I get it in my tanks at the end of a cycle. I really don't think you should chase it with vibrant. Even phosphate remover is ehhhh... put them together and maybe you can get some dino going 😱 

 

The reason for the GHA bloom after a cycle is because algae LOVES ammonia!! Which we have excess of during the cycle. 🙂 It is normal at this stage, grats your tank is normal, yay! 🥳

 

All you need is a decent enough CUC and regular maintenance and the GHA should go away and eventually be replaced by coralline. If you see certain snails eating it, get some more of those guys 😉 Bigger snails should eat it. The babies have a harder time and will probably munch film. 

 

Guess how much vibrant is for a little 8oz bottle? 28 dollars lol 

 

 

 

Thats why the guy just let me borrow a little bit lol he said if it worked then I could decide whether I wanted to shell out the money or not. 

 

I assumed that most of it was just being a new tank and it would work itself out in time. I guess I just got paranoid especially since once one of my snails and hermits died. I plan to add about 5 more snails next week, probably a couple more margaritas and large nerites as they seem to be doing the best right now. Which will bring my total CUC to 12 snails and 3 hermits, that should be plenty right? I plan to move one of the larger snails to my refugium once the algae in my display is under control maybe two.

 

Is purigen enough of a chemical filter on its own where I shouldn't need anything else? I have seen others running it as well as carbon or even alongside chemipure in some cases. My local guy at the fish store says purigen is fine on its own but suggested the phosbond until the algae was on the downtrend then I could remove it. 

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seabass
57 minutes ago, STAXCIII said:

Is purigen enough of a chemical filter on its own where I shouldn't need anything else?

It's arguable that you don't "need" any chemical filtration.  I use activated carbon sometimes, otherwise I don't use chemical media.

 

Purigen is good media (somewhat similar to activated carbon).  No problem just running that.

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Tamberav
1 hour ago, STAXCIII said:

I appreciate the information and will definitely keep it in mind for the future. Keeping the back chambers clean is on my monthly to-do list. I just cleaned the return pump and tubing as well as vacuumed out the bottom of the media chamber whilst wiping out my media basket during my last water change. I also ordered a Hanna Phosphate checker like you suggested so i will keep an eye on those phosphate levels with the phosbond. Thank you for your help!

 

 

Thats why the guy just let me borrow a little bit lol he said if it worked then I could decide whether I wanted to shell out the money or not. 

 

I assumed that most of it was just being a new tank and it would work itself out in time. I guess I just got paranoid especially since once one of my snails and hermits died. I plan to add about 5 more snails next week, probably a couple more margaritas and large nerites as they seem to be doing the best right now. Which will bring my total CUC to 12 snails and 3 hermits, that should be plenty right? I plan to move one of the larger snails to my refugium once the algae in my display is under control maybe two.

 

Is purigen enough of a chemical filter on its own where I shouldn't need anything else? I have seen others running it as well as carbon or even alongside chemipure in some cases. My local guy at the fish store says purigen is fine on its own but suggested the phosbond until the algae was on the downtrend then I could remove it. 

 

I use a little carbon and floss is all. The carbon just to polish the water a bit and keep away any smells.

 

I wouldn't worry about snails or hermits dying...it happens. Especially if they were shipped. Margaritas are actually a temperate species so their lifespan will be short in reef tanks.

 

I put some in my 56 degree reef and they live many many years but maybe a year long if lucky in my 78 degree tank.

 

 

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Diamonds x Pearls

Might I suggest acquiring cerith snails (the big ones and the dwarf ones) as they will do pretty decent in controlling some algal growth and eating up detritus. The dwarf ones are quite handy in the really tight spots where others may not get it (your toothbrush and mood included). If anything they'll function as future hermit homes (the big ones).

'

Just like you I was under the impression I had to run a phosphate agent but I haven't. I still don't because I either am at zero or such an immeasurable amount picked up by my NYOS kit. Not to say it's a bad kit as some people do use it and it is pretty simple to use...I too probably need a Hanna ULR checker. My chemical filtration is just an average GAC and Purigen cuz I like shiny water. You do you though.

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mcarroll
On 6/30/2020 at 5:28 PM, STAXCIII said:

12 pounds of dry rock from my old 55 gallon tank from 5 years ago (rinsed, scrubbed and soaked in hydrogen peroxide before putting into the new tank)

Perfect platform to grow algae.

 

On 6/30/2020 at 5:28 PM, STAXCIII said:

2 pounds of live rock from my LFS.

After a year or two, the dead rock with be mostly live from this.

 

On 6/30/2020 at 5:28 PM, STAXCIII said:

InTank media basket with Seachem Matrix in the bottom and a Refugium in the middle chamber with Pom pom from Algaebarn, also have Chemipure Elite in the far left chamber with the return pump. 

- 2700K LED Light from InTank mounted on the rear of the aquarium with double sided tape for refugium. Started out at 8 hours a day but reduced to 6 after green algae started growing in fuge.

Consider shutting these down until the tank is running and stable...and then start using them IF it seems necessary.

 

On 6/30/2020 at 5:28 PM, STAXCIII said:

I have been doing a 2.5 gallon water change weekly since I added the first of my CUC and fish 2 weeks ago and the Algae outbreak did not stark until 7 days ago

Too soon for fish....tank wasn't ready for it AND that was too much at once.  An algae bloom was inevitable.

 

On 6/30/2020 at 5:28 PM, STAXCIII said:

Hair algae is what made me break down my old 55 gallon

That is unfortunate....all I can say is not to follow the crowd this time.  👍

 

Hand pull algae that your snails aren't eating.  It's too big for them.  Add a few more herbivores (2-3, depending on size) when you do a cleaning like that.  If you still get long algae growth, there still aren't enough snails to keep up.  Hand pull again, and add a few more snails.  After two or three cycles of that, you should have control of your algae.

 

Don't starve your fish.  👍

 

12 hours ago, STAXCIII said:

My LFS did recommend dosing Vibrant. He gave me 10mL for my tank and said that in some cases it cures hair algae completely or at least reduces it.

Algae is not a disease to be "cured".  Avoid that kind of thinking altogether.  👍

 

12 hours ago, STAXCIII said:

I tried scrubbing the bad areas with a toothbrush and sucking it up with my water siphon during my last water change but not much would come off and the rock is stabilized with some epoxy in some places so unless that is the only solution I would rather not have to pull any of the rock apart or take it out of the tank.

That's even worse than vibrant.

 

Try this:

 

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STAXCIII
6 hours ago, mcarroll said:

Perfect platform to grow algae.

 

After a year or two, the dead rock with be mostly live from this.

 

Consider shutting these down until the tank is running and stable...and then start using them IF it seems necessary.

 

Too soon for fish....tank wasn't ready for it AND that was too much at once.  An algae bloom was inevitable.

 

That is unfortunate....all I can say is not to follow the crowd this time.  👍

 

Hand pull algae that your snails aren't eating.  It's too big for them.  Add a few more herbivores (2-3, depending on size) when you do a cleaning like that.  If you still get long algae growth, there still aren't enough snails to keep up.  Hand pull again, and add a few more snails.  After two or three cycles of that, you should have control of your algae.

 

Don't starve your fish.  👍

 

Algae is not a disease to be "cured".  Avoid that kind of thinking altogether.  👍

 

 

 

 

I suspect that somehow someway the hair algae survived on those rocks from my old tank even after I did the best I could to clean them before using them again.

 

However I was able to trim some of the longer hair algae and it does not seem to be growing any more since I have reduced my white LEDS to only 5 hours a day. 

 

My current CUC is making a noticeable difference already but I do plan to add a few more snails next week just to be sure. 

 

I have significantly reduced the lighting for my fuge to just a few hours a day. It seems to be enough as the pom pom is growing slightly but I notice no more green algae growing among it.

 

I agree with you that I rushed the bioload and it was to much at once. I had been testing my water everyday for a week and thought it had stabilized and my cycle was over. In hindsight I should have waited atleast a few more weeks but it is what is. Live and learn. 

 

I notice no new algae growing in the spots that the snails have cleared so I believe I am on the right track. I believe 2-3 more water cycles with a little more attention to detail and it should hopefully be under control. Thank you for your advice 👍

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Tamberav
3 hours ago, STAXCIII said:

I suspect that somehow someway the hair algae survived on those rocks from my old tank even after I did the best I could to clean them before using them again.

 

However I was able to trim some of the longer hair algae and it does not seem to be growing any more since I have reduced my white LEDS to only 5 hours a day. 

 

My current CUC is making a noticeable difference already but I do plan to add a few more snails next week just to be sure. 

 

I have significantly reduced the lighting for my fuge to just a few hours a day. It seems to be enough as the pom pom is growing slightly but I notice no more green algae growing among it.

 

I agree with you that I rushed the bioload and it was to much at once. I had been testing my water everyday for a week and thought it had stabilized and my cycle was over. In hindsight I should have waited atleast a few more weeks but it is what is. Live and learn. 

 

I notice no new algae growing in the spots that the snails have cleared so I believe I am on the right track. I believe 2-3 more water cycles with a little more attention to detail and it should hopefully be under control. Thank you for your advice 👍

 

 

The thing about hair algae... is you could buy all dead rock. Mix up fresh salt... add light and flow and nutrients and you can/will still grow algae. Hair algae is so common it is found as spores in the very air. This is why you can put a glass of water in a window and grow algae. 

 

There is no way to eliminate it outside of a sterile lab or such... it is not visible in tanks due to the CUC and other more desirable organisms competing with it for space such as corals/coralline algae. 

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STAXCIII
On 7/2/2020 at 4:20 PM, Tamberav said:

 

 

The thing about hair algae... is you could buy all dead rock. Mix up fresh salt... add light and flow and nutrients and you can/will still grow algae. Hair algae is so common it is found as spores in the very air. This is why you can put a glass of water in a window and grow algae. 

 

There is no way to eliminate it outside of a sterile lab or such... it is not visible in tanks due to the CUC and other more desirable organisms competing with it for space such as corals/coralline algae. 

Hmm I never realized it was that common. Good to know 👌 Thanks everyone for the info and advice. I am happy to report that the hair algae is almost completely gone and my rocks are getting cleaner everyday. 2 Nerites and one huge Margarita have pretty much taken care of it on their own. Guess they are hungry 🤷‍♂️

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