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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have started developing a hair algae issue. Not 100% sure on the cause. I had a starfish die around a month before the algae started, and I pulled him out, but about half of him had necrotised before I did. The algae seemed to coincide with switching my 'fuge over to an opposite light schedule from the display, did this to stabilize co2/oxy and as a result PH and it was quite successful. However, I can't think of how this would cause algae, so not convinced they are actually linked, though I am by no means an expert, so I could be wrong :D I have tested in the middle of the night the PH is still between 8.2 and 8.4, so this change certainly stabilizer my PH :D I have been changing 3-4 gallons of water every other day (20g with 10g fuge/sump) and thinning as much of the algae out as I can with a pair of tweezers. This has helped keep it in check, but I'm slowly losing the battle. I'm not sure the water changes are helping a lot because the nutrients seem to be trapped up in algae very quickly, I haven't had detectable ph4/no3 in over a month.

Also, I have coraline growth, but it's slow. A piece that started out the size of a pin head is about the size of a quarter 2 months later (coraline growth seems to have picked up since I reversed the fuge light, but it's only been 9 days since the change, so hard to say for sure).

Levels: The only level that seems to fluctuate is the DKH will drop to 10 at night, and sometimes the PH will drop to 8.3ish at night as well, following the drop in KH.

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
Phosphate: 0
PH: 8.4
DKH: 11
Calcium: 420
SG: 1.026

I set my heater for 76 and it gets as high as 78 with the halide on.
I have cut down dramatically on feeding; 10 drops of oysterFeast and 5ml of velvet blue every 2-3 days (the velvet blue is not very concentrated, it's equivalent to 10 or so drops of phytoFeast). I also feed one small shrimp pellet to my cleaner shrimp each time I feed the corals (only way I can get him to leave the coral alone when I feed them). I have a small six-line and clown who get a few live blackworms each day (3-4 each), and my tailspot blenny I don't feed (he actually eats the hair algae, but is small and doesn't eat enough to keep it in check). I have a large skimmer, it's made for a 50-90 gallon system, and I turn it off for two hours when I feed oysterFeast. I do not use any other form or mechanical or chemical filtration, and do not dose anything except for adding a few drops of iodine anytime I see a lot of molting going on.

So to the meat of my question. I have read several accounts of causes and solutions to this sort of issue, and need some feedback on what might best fit my situation as well as any other advice I might not have stumbled upon yet.

Solution #1 involves covering the tank for 4-7 days, as soon as I see algae start to brown, start changing decent volumes of water once or twice a day. the hope being that as algae suffers, dies and gets eaten, I can remove the nutrients it has been trapping. I'm not sure I could keep it dark for long enough to not harm the corals though, I have a number of high light SPS, LPS, and softies.

Solution #2 is similar to solution #1, but instead of light starving, I get a load of turbo snails, or try to find a really really small tang (I will be upgrading in at most 4 months, and have a 60 gallon I could move to in a day if his size was really an issue), get them eating, and pooping, and do frequent water changes for as long as it takes the fish or snails to reduce the algae to nothing. This has some benefits over solution #1, but also some obvious drawbacks...

Solution #3 don't do anything. A number of posts concerning algae's state that algae will cycle just like bacteria, and that if you just give it time (and aren't overfeeding), the tank will balance itself. Since without my intervention I probably would have had corals overgrown, I don't like this option. I also would rather get the nutrients out of the system than try to manage them inside the system.

Solution #4 I have seen a lot of data about algae blooms being linked to metals in the water. I do use RO water, but it's quite possible that I have had some iron (I think it'd be iron) leech out of a stainless steel hose clamp I used when I first started. The data I have seen has all been from people trying to sell products, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's faulty. Their products claim to remove (though I suspect they neutralize) heavy metals like iron. This solution has a few issues. I believe it would be reef safe, but I do not know this for sure (especially if it effects things like magnesium). Also I am not convinced in the science, since the only real info I can find on this method of algae control is from the companies selling the chemicals to do it.

I have had a few people ask about why it's growing in the DT and not the sump, and I do have algae growth in my sump, but not the filamentous hair algae. I believe this is because I have a 250w MH and 2x31w T5-HO 420nm actinics on the 20g long display, and only 40w of 6500 kelvin on the fuge (a self ballasted CF grow light from the garden store). The actinics come on from 10:30am to 8:30pm, MH from noon to 7:00pm, and moon lights from 8:00pm to 2:00 am. On the 'fuge/sump the light runs from 8:00pm to 11:00am.

I have tried to be as complete as possible, but if there is any information I neglected which could help you all help me, let me know!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So, lacking any feedback from more experienced reefers, I guess the solution I am going to try first will be predation, and as a backup chemical. I am going to try to find a sea hare today. Either keep him for a week or two and then take him back, or see if my local reef club has people who would want to trade him around... If I can't find a sea hare I will get a few turbo snails and see if they help. If I can't find the sea hare I am seriously considering this algaefix marine, there are a number of threads with very good feedback on the RC forums. The vast majority have had no ill effects, and the few who have had problems were in situations where it's very likely the chemical was not the cause.

either way I go, I plan on changing 3-4 gallons of the water every 1-2 days for a few weeks while I do this (20g with 10g sump, 45-50lbs of rock between the two), and hopefully this will be successful in removing the nutrients trapped up.

Still interested in feedback if anyone has any!
 

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I am going thru the same thing but I have a new tank. My plan is to let keep removing HA from the rocks for the benefit of the coral. For some reason most of my HA grows on the back of the tank. I have been letting it grow as long as possible so it is easier to remove. Then I scrape it off trying to capture as much of it as I can. I have used a net and I move it slowly thru the tank catching as much of it as I can.

Then when I am finished I have been using a filter sock in the sump for a couple days after the water change to catch as many small pieces I missed. It is my understanding the HA uses what ever nutrient it needs and it is trapped inside. So if you scape it and it dies in the tank it will release it back to the tank.

I am also using a phosban reactor with seagel by seachem and will change the media every other week for a couple months. Reason for changing it often is so it does not release any phosphates into the water once it gets full.

I have also read that HA likes phosphates. I have read that it can come from feeding or a DI that needs changing.

Good luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
How old are you light bulbs? I can always tell that mine need to be changed when the green hair starts popping up.
New bulbs, around a month on the MH, 3 months on t5's.

I got a sea hare today, but he didn't make the move. Not sure if it was stress or a nassarius snail, but he seemed ok, started going to town in a patch of algae, then 2 hours later a nassarius snail was sucking his insides out through his vent hole. Tried to help him, but not much I could do by the time I realized what was happening. I never would have thought it would have been an issue. Think tomorrow I'm going to get 2 turbo snails, and algaefix, weaken it, get stuff eating it, and suck it and nutrients out with super heavy waterchanging.
 

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IMO, I would stop dosing the tank with liquid nutrients. A mature tank should produce enough natural nutrients for the inhabitants. I would look into phosban reactor and run a phosphate remover, as well as some carbon. If your not using a filter (sock or whatever) on the drain line, then I would recommend putting one in. The other issue is the size of the tank. It is not recommended to have anything under 30g for saltwater, unless your setting up a nano system (which are headaches IMO). The 60g will give you less headaches, and you can have a larger bioload. I run a 20g only for a QT. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
cooking the rocks at this point basically means taking down the whole system and starting over, and I'm no where near admitting defeat yet :D The sand gets cleaned with a vac every other day (part of water changing). It's about 120 days old. Not sure if you read my post, but I change around 10% of the water (not counting displacement) every other day, so suggesting water changes seems redundant. Do you mean more water changes? If so, I'm not sure how changing water that tests perfectly will help. I certainly plan on increasing my water changes to that volume once a day, or even twice a day, if I can get the algae dead or eaten and get the nutrients released into the water column.

Rotties: I use all RO/DI, and the tds meter is right there, and I have also tested the fresh, and mixed with salt and no levels, I know the water going in is good. I've been scrubbing and pruning the rock in tank, but to really make a dent it's been taking nearly an hour a day, and I don't want that to become part of my regular maint schedule :) Sea hare I got died shortly after acclimation, and was the only one locally I could find. In this size tank I don't think I can keep one long term though anyway. I have both blue and scarlet hermits, and they don't seem to touch it. Astrae snails do a little, but seem to only eat it as a last resort (if I put one on the HA, he'll eat it down to the rock as he heads out of the patch, but once he is out won't come back for more). Going to get a few very large turbo snails today and see if they help (someone suggested that their bigger mouths might be more interested in it). This is basically just a normal algae cycle as far as I can tell, my only real concern is that it's starting to get closer to my sps frags, and that makes me nervous.

Ebross: I have cut down dramatically what I am feeding. I used to feed 19ml of velvet green daily and have been cutting it down dramatically. I am now feeding 3ml every other day, and after sunday won't feed any. The oyster eggs, I can cut out for a while. However I was feeding 1/8th the recommended amount half as often as the bottle recommends, so I was going pretty sparingly, and my skimmer is fairly beefy and pulls the eggs out pretty fast from what I can tell. You are correct on maturity and nutrients, however I'm not sure I would consider this a mature tank, it's about 4 months old.
Can't afford a phosphate reactor at this point, but I got some phosguard stuff yesterday. I don't use a filter sock, I have a settling chamber in my sump which I clean out when I do water changes. It's been nearly 15 years since I had my last salt tank (mostly softies and a few LPS), and I had problems with the filter sock and running carbon. Both would fill up faster than I wanted to change them, and filter sock would just overflow, and carbon would start leeching, and at the time was too expensive for me to replace consistently. I'll look into what it costs and see if it's something I can add to my tank budget. Phosphate reactor is going to have to be part of my future tank upgrade plans I suspect.
Far as size, to each their own. There is certainly a challenge to smaller water volumes, but what causes one person a headache might be someone else's fun :) One of my favorite past tanks was an 8 gallon with shrooms and polyps, and that was 15 years ago when we knew relatively little about coral systems :)
If I wanted to set up the 60 gallon I would have, and as I said, I still can in a pinch if I had to have more space, but there are reasons I didn't to begin with, like I didn't have a good space for it at the time, and more importantly it has a few spots with some bad scratches, and I'd rather have something I can see in better while I am putting together the budget and preparing the location for my upgrade to something much larger than the 60 gallons :)

Anyway, thanks a bunch for the feedback. I was a little surprised that no one seemed to like the 'cut the light' idea (solution #1), so that one is out of my consideration. I'll try a few more predators since everyone seems to agree that this is the best way to go. Turbos, and if that doesn't work I think I might have found a really small yellow tang in a shop yesterday, so might try that, but still nervous about putting a tang in this tank, even if I could have the 60 gallon setup in 24 hours in a pinch... If all that doesn't work, and it continues to encroach on corals, I'll try algaefix.

Again, thanks a bunch for the feedback :)
 

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I agree with most that solution #2 is the way to go.

I've always had luck with Turbos and Emrald Crabs. Some say that you should avoid crabs, but I have never had a problem with them.

Good luck though, I will be interested to hear the results!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I actually love inverts, crabs especially :) I had heard some stories about emerald crabs bothering corals, so had avoided them, but a lot of people have mentioned them for HA removal, so I might grab one...

I tried turbos a while back and every one died within 3 days. I got nassarius, astrae, and nerite, at the same time and they all have done just fine. I was running my fuge on the same light schedule as the tank though, and was having a lot of trouble stabilizing PH, which I have fixed. This is the only reason I can think that they all died, so I might as well try again.

Really a topic for another thread, but I am seriously thinking about removing my substrate. Removing 1/10th with each water change. I originally went with a shallow sand bed because I had planned on getting a sand sifting goby, but since I didn't end up getting one, the nassarius, and conch are the only things that really care about the sand. I have a DSB in my 'fuge (have a mangrove in it), so I could throw them in there...
 

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I actually love inverts, crabs especially :) I had heard some stories about emerald crabs bothering corals, so had avoided them, but a lot of people have mentioned them for HA removal, so I might grab one...

I tried turbos a while back and every one died within 3 days. I got nassarius, astrae, and nerite, at the same time and they all have done just fine. I was running my fuge on the same light schedule as the tank though, and was having a lot of trouble stabilizing PH, which I have fixed. This is the only reason I can think that they all died, so I might as well try again.
I haven't had any trouble with my emerald crab, actually he is a workhorse. I acclimated him, left only the moonlights on and put him in the tank. He floated down to an algae covered rock ( i have problems with bubble algae) and immediately started eating away. I can always tell what area of the tank he is in because that area is always cleaned up. I am actually going to buy another 1 today after work. Along with 1 turbo and 2 hermits. I think my cleanup crew is just too small for my tank. In a weeks time i have a crazy algae buildup so more WC's. Nitrates 0, phosphates <.5. The big turbo snails are awesome too, sorry that you haven't been able to keep them alive. The only problem with them is that you have to epoxy down frags because they are bulldozers. Very cool and IMO better cleaners than the margarita snails. The HA algae that i have is only on my powerheads and i take them out of the tank and scrub them in my dirty WC water after and that kinda keeps it down for a few weeks but it always comes back. Good luck.
 

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As mentioned above, get a sea hare! The little guys keep algae in check and they are great to have in your tank! I dont worry about algae because as soon as I see some the sea hare is two steps ahead of me and on his way to munch down on it. I would also keep a clip in the tank with seaweed or some other sea veggie for him to snack on.
 

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As mentioned above, get a sea hare! The little guys keep algae in check and they are great to have in your tank! I dont worry about algae because as soon as I see some the sea hare is two steps ahead of me and on his way to munch down on it. I would also keep a clip in the tank with seaweed or some other sea veggie for him to snack on.
How large is your hare and tank. I have been thinking of getting one and was wondering just how reef safe they really are. they sound pretty safe, but if not enough algae, will they attack stuff?
 

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I'm guessing the test kit is giving faulty reading. I state because it sounds like the rocks are leeching nutrients. Also the constant shifting of the sand could be where the nutrients are coming from. Ever thought of cooking half the rock at a time?
 

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I put an abolone in the tank when I had HA. He did pretty good. I guess everyone has had success with different things. During my outbreak of HA I put the abolone (sp) and also the lawnmower blennie, tang, but for me I have to say that what honestly seemed to make the difference was the marine algeafix. I did not want to add any chemicals but I was at the end of my rope. It never caused any of the corals to do anything funny and algea began to die and turn brown. Took about 2 weeks. Now I have no HA at all. Feeding was an issue with me. Felt bad for the little guys when they followed me when I walked past the tank. Began to rinse food in RO/DI water. I know alot of you guys will never use it or have to but all I can say is I was skeptical but now I would not have a problem if it got out of hand.
 
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