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· *Assume something witty*
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Okay, I'm really getting sick and tired off looking at hair algae in my tank! It's been well over two months since my HA problem started. Nothing I do seems to improve the situation. In fact, it just seems to be getting worse.

Some background: My HA problem started when I got back from vacation at the end of January. Prior to that, the water and rockwork in my tank was clear and pristine. There was no sign of HA anywhere in my tank. At some point during my vacation, my brand new HOB skimmer had stopped working. The water level in the tank had gotten too low for the surface skimming attachment, and the skimmer was not able to pull in anymore water. I returned home to a nasty HA infestation, and the problem has only gotten worse since then.

My 30G SW tank has been up and running since beginning of Dec. 2008. I started up the tank using tapwater, which was a very big newbie mistake. However, I soon (within a few weeks) switched over to using bottled steam distilled water from the grocery store for water changes and top-offs. A couple months ago, I switched to buying RO water from my LFS for WCs and TOs. A week and a half ago, I received and installed my own RO/DI filter from PWC. So, it should be safe to say that I have been using relatively pure water for nearly four months in my tank. I perform a 5G WC every week, and blow off all my LR with a turkey baster prior to the WC.

I have around 30lbs of LR in my tank. I do not have a large bioload. I only have two Ocellaris clowns, about 15-20 hermit crabs, 3-4 Nassarius snails, 1 largish toadstool leather, and about 7 small SPS and softie coral frags. I feed my clowns very sparingly, about 1 teeny tiny barely a pinch of flake food each night. They eat it pretty quickly. I add about 1/2 tsp of bottled phytoplankton to the tank once a week for the filter feeders and corals in the tank.

I maintain a pretty constant temp of 79-80F in my tank at all times. I have a ton of flow to keep particulates suspended in the water column so the skimmer has a good chance of pulling them out. I have 1 Koralia 3, 1 K2, and 2 K1s producing a lot of random flow within the tank. All the corals seem to be very happy with the flow. I'm running a 36" Nova Extreme Pro fixture with 3xActinics and 3x10K daylights T5HO on a timed lighting schedule of 1pm-11pm for the actinics and 2pm-10pm for the 10Ks. I just recently (yesterday) added a 24W internal UV sterilizer to try and kill off any free-floating algae spores in the water column.

All my water params check out fine (Ammonia=0ppm, Nitrite=0ppm, Nitrate=5-10ppm, Ca=425ppm, Mg=1250ppm, Alk=9 dKH). The last time I tested for PO4 it came back as undetectable; same results when I had LFS test a sample of my tank water. However, the mere fact that I have HA means that there is excess PO4 in my tank despite what the water tests say.

I have done everything I can possibly think of to ensure that I'm keeping as low of a nutrient level in my tank that I can think of. I even tried sugar dosing for a couple of weeks (big mistake; nearly crashed the whole system). Nothing seems to reduce my HA problem. In fact, the HA only seems to get worse with each attempt I make to eradicate this vile stuff.

At this point, the only thing I can think of that is fueling this HA is the LR. There must be a frickin' ton of PO4 bound up in my LR that is leaching and feeding the HA. From reading up on this subject here at TRT and other sources, the most logical next step to try and cure this problem is to cook my rocks. However, I'll be completely honest with you. That is the last thing I want to have to do, and most likely, I probably won't do it no matter how advice I receive to do so. It just takes way too long, requires that you disassemble your entire aquascape, and, finally, I do not have any of the extra equipment that would be necessary to cook LR. Also, there is no way I want to stare at a nearly empty tank for the next several weeks/months.

So, after this incredibly long narrative on my HA problem, does anyone have any advice or comments on my situation? I really want to get rid of my HA, but I cannot figure out what is causing it in the first place. Everything I do to get rid of it seems to only make it worse. I would really like some help.

Thank you very much for any advice you can offer!!!
 

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I think you have pretty much answered your own question, but if you don't want to cook the rock, you could try skimming wetter or go with a bigger skimmer. Stop with the phyto, it can ad to the PO4 problem or maybe consider running a PO4 reactor to try and reduce the levels.
Whats the sandbed like, what kind and how deep, its pretty young to be loading up, but if the particles are large enough detritous could be sifting down into it
 

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I am also having a hair issue. Its only on half of my rock. The half I got from a a tank that was not kept well. I coked the rock for about three months but it obviously wasn't enough. In the back of my mind I knew it too but didn't have the patience. My tank is BB with 240 gallons of volume, only 5 fish, a few shrimp, 8 snails, a few corals and an modified duel Beckett skimmer. I am strongly considering doing the acid bath method (again, no patience) I blat the rock off once a week and there is hardly anything that settle in the main tank. The plumbing design puts dang near everything into the skimmer pump intake and I have a 55g that is used for semi automated water changes. This tank is on a slow flow loop that allows for remaining detritus to settle which is removed at water change time. The system is efficient and works great. Its the rock I got from my co-workers algae farm.
I have to do some more research on the muriatic acid method but i am strongly considering it since this suspect rock has yet to be filled with coral yet and I can work it without much disruption to the tank.
 

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the muriatic acid method works by breaking down the rock. the phosphates are removed because the rock is removed. it does not remove the phosphates from the rock like cooking does. using the muriatic acid method will leave you with a pile of phosphate laden sand. if the LR is bad enough you will not be accomplishing anything. the phosphates can wick deep into the LR. acid bathing it will only remove the outer layer. leaving another layer of phosphate laden LR. in theory as more LR is dissolved off of the LR the less phosphates should be exposed.

G~

G~
 

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the muriatic acid method works by breaking down the rock. the phosphates are removed because the rock is removed. it does not remove the phosphates from the rock like cooking does. using the muriatic acid method will leave you with a pile of phosphate laden sand. if the LR is bad enough you will not be accomplishing anything. the phosphates can wick deep into the LR. acid bathing it will only remove the outer layer. leaving another layer of phosphate laden LR. in theory as more LR is dissolved off of the LR the less phosphates should be exposed.

G~

G~
Well to Heck with that then. Rocks too dang expensive and cool to go melting it .
 

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I haven't been convinced one way or the other on the acid bath method. I know when I had very laden rock it certainly helped. The rock had been dry and brushed and when it went into water to cook it stunk awefully almost immediatly. I gave it a couple hours in an acid bath and started the cooking process over and after three weeks it still doesn't stink as bad.... really it doesn't stink at all. I had really hoped to do some testing on this rock to see if the acid bat would make a change in PO4 leaching out but honestly it stunk so bad I had to do something drastic before I had to sleep on the couch next to my tank :nuts:
 

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I have a small PO4reactor running rowa right now and it doesnt seem to have effect on the rock yet but the rest of the tank looks squeaky clean. I am going to continue o blast the rock, and on the next water change will take the devil rock out and brush it off and do the dunk n swish. Gonna be a long row to hoe but Im not liking the idea of placing frags on green hairy rock and taking half my filtration out for cooking isn't appealing o me ATM either.
Hmmm, the HA does seem to have turned a bit more yellow as opposed to the standard green since I started the reactor. Would that be a positive sign???
 

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I would have to agree with Geoff. If in doubt look at my thread and the Great Plains that was growing in my tank. I bit the bullet and took all the rock out except for 3 pieces or so. Yes it looked bare (three pieces of rock in a 6' long tank). I cooked for about 4 months. I now only have one small patch that hangs out in the shade and I can live with that. I also keep any of my excess rock in my cook bins just in case so I can change it out at a moments notice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
My substrate is a 75/25 blend of Seaflor Special Grade Reef Sand (1-2mm aragonite) and Tropic Isle Tahitian Moon Sand (sugar fine particles). The sand bed is around 4" deep +/-. The sand has been in this tank for around 7 months. The first three months, the tank was set up as a FW African Cichlid tank. Then in December, I switched over to SW and kept the same sand in the tank. My sand couldn't be loaded up already, could it? For that matter, how could my LR possibly be so loaded up with PO4 that it is leaching it back into the system? I bought the LR new from my LFS. It's not like I got if from another hobbyist who had it in their tank for years.
 

· Ummm... yeah.
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My substrate is a 75/25 blend of Seaflor Special Grade Reef Sand (1-2mm aragonite) and Tropic Isle Tahitian Moon Sand (sugar fine particles). The sand bed is around 4" deep +/-. The sand has been in this tank for around 7 months. The first three months, the tank was set up as a FW African Cichlid tank. Then in December, I switched over to SW and kept the same sand in the tank. My sand couldn't be loaded up already, could it? For that matter, how could my LR possibly be so loaded up with PO4 that it is leaching it back into the system? I bought the LR new from my LFS. It's not like I got if from another hobbyist who had it in their tank for years.
Getting rock from a LFS does not guarantee that it doesn't have gunk in it. Cured is not the same as cooked. I've made the same mistake.
 

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Store rock can range a great deal in its PO4 content. If you fed your cichlids like I fed mine, nutrients can build up very fast in Ca based substrate. If the sand is in contact with rock then PO4 can leech.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Getting rock from a LFS does not guarantee that it doesn't have gunk in it. Cured is not the same as cooked. I've made the same mistake.
I understand that getting rock from an LFS is no guarantee against gunk. I was simply comparing store-bought LR to rock that comes from another hobbyist's tank. The rock from the LFS most likely has been collected (either aquacultured or from the sea) within the past few months. Whereas the rock from another tank could have been in that tank for years soaking up PO4 from whatever sources.

Even if I don't want to have to disassemble my whole tank in order to cook the LR in a separate container, shouldn't the LR eventually cook in my my tank so long as I have an efficient skimmer and do not overload the tank with excess nutrients? How would that work and what could I do to help the rock cook in my tank? I assume getting the rock up off the sand would help a great deal. But how do I go about getting it up off a 4"+ sand bed?

Also, would Texas Holey Rock wick up and/or leach PO4 as much as regular live rock does? I have one fairly large piece of TX Holey rock in my tank that is buried pretty deep in my sand bed (almost to the bottom glass). The top of the rock is about 5"-6" above the sand bed. If I tried to raise my LR above the SB, I don't think I'd be able to raise the TX rock. Would I be better off leaving it buried or removing it from the tank? I'd prefer not to remove it as it has become LR itself with lots of coralline finally starting to encrust.
 

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Look up rock lifts to get rock off of sand (Hop has a good one). I am unsure of the compositions of Texas holey rock but if it is Calcium based it can bond PO4. Terrestrial limestones and other calcium based rock often have quite a few things they have absorbed:eek:
 

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One more thing that contributed to my tanks current hairy issue, I had gone WAY too long on the same cartridges in my RO/DI. The diatoms just left and the walls are now clean without my help once again and the coralline is getting a grip again.
Still, the rocks that were given to me are NASTY. My old rock is good but suffering where it contacts the free stuff......live and learn and maybe even one day Ill listen to the experience of others.
 
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