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Beginner Reefer with algae (??) problem

Bend it like Beckham

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Bend it like Beckham


I am a beginning reefer with a fairly new 30 gallon AIO Innovation Marine tank. My tank is almost 3 months old and right now I have 7 different types of fish and a few zoa's and 3 montiporas. All my fish and coral seem to be doing well. My parameters are well in check (Phosphate 0.05ppm, ph 8.4, Temperature 79.1F, Nitrates 0.00ppm, Amomonia 0.03ppm, Salinity 1.025 SG, Alkalinity 91.dKh, Calcium 402ppm and Magnesium 1480ppm. I also have a refugium along with a UV scrubber and I do 10%-20% water changes every couple of weeks. In spite of all of that I have started to get what looks like an algae bloom of various types.  What can I do to get this is check and stop it. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated






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This looks like a case of Cyanobacteria. Usually this growth happens due to elevated nutrient levels (phosphates and nitrates) as well as dead spots or lack of water flow in certain areas of the tank. 


Based on the pictures you posted it appears that the Cyano is in the corners of the tank. I would make sure you are getting plenty of flow in those areas, and try to siphon out any of the detritus and waste that might be gathering in those areas. 


Initially, I would continue to monitor your parameters, as well as increase your water changes (you listed every couple of weeks. I would suggest 1-2 weeks until this is under control) to ensure your parameters are not fluctuating from week to week. This as well as increased flow with better circulation in those areas may help prevent in the future. 


As far as removal now...I would recommend siphoning out during your next water change. If you are not wanting to do that, or that does help,  I am sure there are reef safe chemical additives you could add to your tank to help. I will let someone else with more experience talk about that. 


hope that helps! 



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Bend it like Beckham


Thanks for the suggestions... I will do everything you suggested, starting with a bigger flow pump. Presently I measure my nitrates and phosphates every couple of days to make sure that it is not causing or contributing to that problem. 

I'll post my results as I go.

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You do need to make sure you have enough nitrate and phosphate, though, because lack of it will harm photosynthetic organisms. 


Generally you want to have a minimum of 0.03ppm phosphates, and somewhere in the range of 5-10ppm nitrates. Maybe 5-20 for some tanks. 


What are your nutrient levels currently? 


Also, where do you get your water, and what is it? RO/DI? Distilled? Pre-mixed saltwater? 


7 fish is a decent few for a tank that size. What species of fish? 

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Bend it like Beckham

Hi Tired,

My phosphates levels range between 0.03 - 0.05 ppm but my nitrate levels are typically 0.00ppm (it seems my refugium is working too efficient), what would you suggest to get the nitrate a little higher. Regarding the fish, I have 1 lawnmower blenny, 3 cardinal fish, 2 different species of clownfish, a royal dottyback (which I got by mistake, thought I was buying a royal gamma). I also have a cleanup crew of snails, hermit crabs and a serpent starfish. Regarding my water, I use premix from the local fish store. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


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Three most common issues in new tanks are over feeding, lack of water flow, and your basic “ugly tank phase” that typically happens shortly after your tank has cycled. Keep a watch on your water parameters, do weekly water changes, and watch your food. Maybe do multiple small feedings versus large feed depending on your fish needs. May I ask which fish you have?

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Two different clownfish may fight as they mature, so keep a close eye on that. 


I would suggest doing fewer water changes, so as to maintain your nutrients at a higher level. Cyano can result from high nutrients, but it can also result from low nutrients, as low nutrients means other algaes have a hard time competing with cyano. This may also just be a part of the "ugly phase". Keep your nutrients reasonable, don't do water changes unless you need to lower nutrients, remove contaminants, or increase calcium/magnesium etc, and blow the cyano off any corals it tries to grow on. If you do that, it should fade away of its own accord eventually. 

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