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ALgae Control?


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OK My tank has been going throug some algae outbreaks for 4 months now. Valonia and hair algae (Pink and green).


I got an emerald crab and no sign of it eating any valonia. I picked it all off the rocks again.


As for the hair algae.


I scrubed again. I got a phosphate test kit and it reads 0.


Other than a good skimmer, How can I attack this?


Talk is a 15G.

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Need a little more info, nitrate levels, lighting and photoperiod, type of inhabitants in the tank, how long the tank has been running, amount of live rock, filtration etc.

I could provide you with generic suggestions that may or may not help, but I would rather get a little more info and actually be able to take a few educated guesses.


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15 Gallon tank - 8 months

130W PC lighting (10K and Actinic)

15lbs of LR

3-4 in DSB

HOB Penguin filter (No BioWheel)

2 Minijet Powerheads

Modified Lee's Airstone SKimmer (In Affective)




Branching Hammer

Green Striped mushrooms

Pagoda Cup

Pecula Clown

Yellow tailed damsel

5 astrea snails

3 blue leg hermits

2 red leg hermits

emerald crab


Nitrate - 0

Amon - 0

Sal - 1.026

Temp 79-80

Phosphates - 0

Calcium - 450

Alk - 6.8

PH - 8.0



actinics on for 8 hours

10K on for 7 hours (Actinics on for 1/2 hour before and after)

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Alright, thanks for the specs. Unfortunately they are not helping me too much. Basically, I look at the causes of algae from eight different reasons, or a combination of them.

1) water source... if it is tap water or water that has not been dioinized it could be a m ajor contributor to the problem

2) Salt mix.... there are some inferior salt mixes on the market with more impurities that add uneccessary nutrients to the water

3) over feeding and supplements..... this would also include invert food like dts and phyto plankton. Overdosing this stuff quickly adds dissolvednutrients into the water column.

4) filter media.... some charcoal is inferior and contains phosphates

5) excess detritus and dead spots.... detritus build up in dead spots will decompose and add excess nutrients to the water column

6) poor lighting

7)lack of regular water change.... sewater has a tendency to degrade over time

8) ineffective sand bed,...gravel or crushed coral tends to trap detrirtus


By your tank specs and description, we can rule out filter media(no phosphates and penguin makes a good grade charcoal). Poor lighting, you obviously have more than adequate lighting.

So this leaves to question, water source, salt mix,supplements and overfeeding, dead spots in the tank, lack of water changes, or poor sand bed.

These are the things I would take a closer look at. You know your tank better than me, any changes in salt mix, additives, aquascaping, powerhead placement, water source. I don't know if this has helped you but if you can think of anything that you may have changed recently it may point you in the right direction.

Good luck;)

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I use a RO filter for my water. I have been using Coralife Salt. I just got a bucket of Instant Ocean once the Coralife is finished (Next week).


This is the same water I use on my 46 that is algae free.


The DSB is Natures Ocean live sand tht is seeded with some sand from my existing 46.


Supplements. I add a 1/2 cap full of Reef solution to the tank once a week.


Kent supper buffer is the ALK drops.


Kalk if the CAL is to low.


Iwill look into flow. That is a possibiltiy. I have the powerheads turned down so not to knock over the corals.

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I have the same problem. This is in a tank with no fish, nitrates, or ammonia. I have not tested phosphates but I have seen enough posts that have algae problems with out phosphates. The larger tank may not have algae because it does not have any to get the ball rolling. Test this by taking a nice covered rock full of hair algae and put it in the nice tank. I will bet the nice tank will have just as bad a problem down the line. I double dare you. Man hair algae grow fast. I could give my tank a hair cut every day.

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It may be an iron problem, there are some salt mixes and supplements that are loaded with iron which will promote heavy algal growth. I found an old post on RC that talked about one particular brand of salt that was infamous for promoting algal growth....but I can't remember what it is.


Another common supplement that leads to algal growth is iodine/iodide.


Do you have macroalgae in the 46 G but not the smaller tank? Could account for differential algal growth.


Just a thought.

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It could be old power compact bulbs. My tank did the same thing then I replaced the bulbs and voila. I cant wait to get MH and get rid of these crappy PCs.

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My 13w PCs started growing algae after 3 months of use. I am using a 96w quad now for about two weeks. I hope it lasts longer before algae starts growing. I also took the glass lid off the tank which helped. Just an idea.

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Not using any glass lid on the tank.


I cant see bulbs going that fast. 2 moths of use?


I think there is something I am missing here.

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Wow Rob, you and I have very similar tanks,water parameters and all, except I use a cpr bak pak skimmer, I have more snails and hermits. I only have GSP, and some anemones. I used the same stuff for my sand bed and I use RO/DI water.


I have a green hair mess myself. Since I replaced my bulbs it is just growing faster.


I even removed all of my rock and scrubbed the hair off of it, and it seemed like the hermits were keeping up with it for a short time, but they have lost the battle.


I was thinking of getting a bunch of urchins, i heard they eat hair algae.

I am upgrading to a 20gal soon, and I am really thinking hard about having only a 1/4" sand bed made of southdown, and get two big sand sifting cucmbers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update on Algae outbreak.


Added a emerald crab and haven't seen it since.


picked off come more valonia but dont see anymore growing so maybe the crab is working.


As for the dreaded hair algae.


I finally moved my big tank to a bigger tank. I moved the CPR Bakpak from my 46 to the 15 and lookout.


I dumped the full cup of skimmate in an hour.


It has been on there a week and the hair algae is wadding away fast.



SKimming, Now who thought of that great idea

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I was reading these replies and thought I would ask a question. I started my tank about 2 months ago with well water and just had that brown algae outbreak for a week or so. I started converting to distill water about 4 weeks ago with my 10% WC per week. Now I am having a heck of a time with red algae. It nearly covers my crushed coral bottom in a day. I have added a 270GPH power head for more current. My phosphates are less than .05 and nitrate is 0.

I was wonder after reading Brianc_4 advice, should I remove this crushed coral and replace with live sand or something or is it to late in the game? Tomorrow I am replacing my present lighting with 72 watts of PC. Hope this will help.

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  • 4 weeks later...


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Bleeding Blue



Remember that two months is not a very long time. It sounds as though you are keeping up with regular maintenance. A bloom should be expected whenever there is a major disruption in the normal on goings of a tank, and setting up a new one is definitely a major disruption. Sometimes patients is the best policy. :)



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  • 3 weeks later...

hey, do not freak out.. I had an algae bloom for months.. I just kept doin the old water changes and fed normally and kept manually taking algae out myself... it took a while but man you should see my tank now. My sugestion is to make sure the water you add is good, and keep doing water changes and feeding the same amounts all the time, you will prevail. Time is on your side....

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