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Coralline Question


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Its been asked over and over, but I need some clarification.



110g 10 month old fowlr.

Two 140w vho URI bulbs; one actinic one 50/50

Photo period is 2:15pm to 9:45pm

Calcium tested yesterday at 500

Appx 100lbs of live rock

Assorted fish, no corals/clams/et cetera


My coralline growth is nonexistant. What started out as bright purple and pink has turned into dull and pale colors. Ive read how the calcium is the primary concern, but Ive also read how it should be in the 450 to 500 range. What am I doing wrong?


I know this is the nano-reef forum, but you guys have given the best answers Ive seen, so Im posting here.



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back when I had my fowlr tank (55 gallon) I also saw discoloration of my corralline and saw no new growth on the rock, glass, plumbing etc. However, when I went to move my rocks around, I noticed it in the dark spaces of the tank that we tend to ignore. It might be there and just not visible.

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Ive moved the rocks a few times (just from being anal and wanting a new aquascape) and its the same thing all over.

Ive seen tanks with purple EVERYWHERE; glass, powerheads, rock, et cetera.


I obviously dont want a nuisance, but these dull colors are no where near as beautiful as when the rock was first purchased.


Any ideas?

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it could just be the dominant coralline (drabbier looking) are taking over rather than a change in color. it could also be the alk, as important as the ca actually imo.


it could also just be a change in colors of the existing coralline since our lights can't compare with natural light and captive nutrients versus those available in the wild. also how you view it from light setting to light setting. you may want to try switching from 50/50 to an aquasun also.

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I don't know if this is true or not but someone at my lfs once told me that coralline growth seems to really explode after your tank has been up for a year.

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Calcium/alk is very important...but Magnesium as well, coraline will literally rob your system of it. You didn't say anything about dosing anything. You can try dosing mag. or maybe bumping up your water changes, frequency/amount.


Also different coraline has different light requirements. Intensity can play a huge part in this but the spectrum as well. I have the light pink stuff spreading everywhere in my "whiter" tank... darker purple in the "bluer" tanks. Just a note.... my recently set up minibow, with a 20,000K 150 watt halide.... in two weeks time I have speckles of the dark purple stuff showing up on everything. I was told by a few to expect this with the really high K bulb and sure enough. "Your lighting is too intense" is a pretty common response when asking about poor coraline growth from what I have seen but from what I have witnessed and experienced it's more the spectrum as opposed to intensity or lack there of.... just some thoughts,hehe

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Do you have a good amount of water flow? I know the first place my coraline starts to grow is on the lip of the HOB outlet and PH outlets. Tiny is right with the alk, all the calcium in the world would not help if your alk is all out of wack, what are your readings. Try giving a longer photo period, instead of 7.5 hours, try 12 hours. I am no light expert, but it could also be either the intensity or spectrum of yopur bulbs. Do you have any clean up critters (snails/crabs)? Setiment can build up on your existing coraline like a cloudy mucky cover and stunt its growth or spreading. Try taking a powerhead and physically blowing water at the rock to kinda clean it off. You can also scrub it with a toothbrush to try and spread the spores. Ceasar is right, it could just explode next month or the month after, may just need time to tell. Coraline is like other algae's, it will sneak up on ya when you least expect it.

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I dont have an alk test, so no idea what that is. I'll get one and see. I'll also blow some of the 'dust' off of the existing rock and increase the photo period by a few hours.


We're planning on updating to MH, but its not in the budget at the moment.


Thanks for everyone's help.


Postscript: 30% water change every month and two MJ powerheads in the system (one 1200 and one 900).

No snails, but a few crabs. LOTS of bugs in the refugium, but the mandarin keeps them pretty slim in the display.

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I've found coralline to be very odd in it's growth. I set up a tank for my friend about a month after I sey my tank up. Same exact setup, same params, wc's, etc. If anything I actually took better care of my tank and kept up with maintenance better. Her tank however has significantly more coralline than my tank has, and like I said, the two systems are virtually identical. I'm wondering if perhaps she had a particular type of coralline on a piece of lr that has been ideally suited to her tank. I will definitely second what LiQuiD said about water flow though. The most significant amount of coralline growth in my tanks always occurs in the strongest flow.

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Marc Weis coral vital works wonders fer coraline IME. I use it to boost production. you could also benifit from finding some one who has coraline growth comming out their arse in a tank and "borrow" a chunk of rock and this after doing a scraping will help spread "new" growth.

the Previous responses are solid, so I add only to start doing the Magnesium. If your Mg is low, your test kits can read falsely.

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maybe it was the fact that you did more maintenance than your friend.


sprung noted that coralline can react badly to any salinity shifts. i would think wc's would do exactly that (unless you're totally perfect in calculating the salinity and temp).


plus most salt mixes' higher initial pH may affect things too. maybe back off for a few months and see if there's any diff.

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This is slightly off topic. Did a search for "Marc Weis coral vital" and I get seven matches with you recommending it on all seven (for various applications). A friend started using it about a week ago in a 2 month old tank and says it has made some polyps open up that were previosly not open. Is stuff that good? Has anybody else had luck using this product? Thanks.

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its basicly like apple juice fer a little kid... makes a big smile on yer reeface :D


not intending to spam, but www.aquabid.com

auction # 1044666484 I have a great sale on some when I got shafted by an ordering snafuu from Royal Pet Distr (of course) they are such reef'tards LOL

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coral vital is da juice.


I credit the stuff for my corralline growth, my polyp extension, everything else it says on the bottle and it helped me get my wife pregnant. I also give the vital the credit for giving me a baby girl. Next time around I am using Black Powder so I can have a boy.

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Originally posted by tinyreef


maybe it was the fact that you did more maintenance than your friend.  


sprung noted that coralline can react badly to any salinity shifts.  i would think wc's would do exactly that (unless you're totally perfect in calculating the salinity and temp).  


plus most salt mixes' higher initial pH may affect things too.  maybe back off for a few months and see if there's any diff.


That's an interesting possibility tr that I hadn't considered. Damn my diligence!!! :D I actually have lowered my wc frequency in the past couple months and have seen more coralline growth. By golly I think that's actually the answer!

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I noticed where one of you mentioned blowing the dust off your rock. It made me ask about dust looking stuff on my rock. I have a 4 week old 10 gal. baby. Yes, baby. I found it requires a lot of looking after. But it's fun. I am running a Skilter filter with protein skimmer. I have several live corals in it that came on the rock. Two small brains, I think, several sponge and something that looks like a transparent anemone that has white dots or marks on it. Just added a peppermint shrimp, to eat Aiptasia and 4 snails. I am putting a little Aragamilk twice a week, a drop of Plancto a couple times a week and a 1/4 teaspoon of One in All weekly. I told you all of that to ask you this. Does anyone know what this dust is? Thanks. BTW, Coralline algae has just started back growing in the last few day's.

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multi-sediments. It could be fish poop to that dusty fallout you get when you stir up your sandbed. Sediment will build up on your rocks over time if low water current is present and or you don't give it a quick wipe down every now and then. This is one of the least concerns anyone should have as it really harms nothing, except MAYBE coraline if it is covered.

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I actually have lowered my wc frequency in the past couple months and have seen more coralline growth. By golly I think that's actually the answer!


Ive been doing water changes once a month...perhaps I should move to doing them once every few months?


Also, my alk is at 3.2-3.6. Is that good or bad? Its the upper level of the test range, fwiw.

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My 125gal reeftank has been setup for 4 months and the coralline growth is out of control. I have 3 250watt metal halides so intense lighting does NOT stunt the growth of it. I keep ca and alk up. My ca is about 400 and alk 4.0.


I'm having a real hard time keeping coralline off the front of the tank. I haven't been able to find something that can scrape it off well. Might have to use razor blade. Tank is glass by the way.

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A razor blade is the only real way for a glass aquarium. It will come right off. I wish someone would make a magnetic cleaner with a razor attachment. I mean I hate the fact that after not getting wet by sliding around the magnetic, I then have to whip out the razor and plunge in afterward.

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Im at a loss then. Possible salinity is a factor? My swing arm is telling me that salinity is 1.023 but from what ive read Im much better off with a refractometer (which I'll get in the next few weeks).


What else to do if lighting, calc, and alk are all ok? Use the Coral Vital supplements?


Thanks again for everyones input.

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What's your flow like?


I ask because good water movement will definately help spread the coraline spores throughout the tank.


My 7G nano has been setup for about two months and has a great amount of coraline spreading already. It's all over the HOB mini penguin filter(bio-wheel removed) as well as starting to cover many parts of the tiny powerhead I bought from Dave ESPI a little while back. It's also spreading onto my heater now.


Good water movement is essential to any reef tank imo.

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Its a 110 gal, and there are two powerheads at about six inches off the sand, on opposite sides, pointing at each other.

The returns are also on top pumping water back to the system.

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