The Reef Tank banner
1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a reef tank. It was running beautifully for about a year when I started to notice a deep red, almost wine colored "slime" growing on my live rock, substrate, glass & even on my macro algae. It is very delicate to the touch. If I pick up a piece of rock & shake it, the stuff comes right off. When I clean the tank, everything looks fine for about a week and then it starts to grow again. I even took the rock and macro algae out and soaked it and rinsed it well. The soak water looked like beet juice when I finished! But after I put it all back, everything was red again in about 2 weeks. All my corals and fish seem fine, but this stuff is really a nuisance! I suspect it may be some bacterial form that likes my lighting. What can I do?

:(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
315 Posts
Joe, first of all welcome to TRT, gladd you joined us.

What you are battling is known as Cyano. It usally comes from a lack of circulation, high phosphates. The best way to battle it is to reduce lighting for a time, increase circulation to the efected area. Don't shake it off into the water colum, it will spread where it lands. Rather use a hose and suck it out. Others will give you more help here, everyone fights this at one time or another:mad:
Once again welcome aboard.



Bill
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Welcome Joe! (again, since I got first shot at ya on IRC) :)

Others will definitely post here, so I'll end my useless babbling now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
288 Posts
As stated you have a cyano outbreak. Can you tell us a little more about your setup, size, equipment, livestock, etc. The best way to control Cyano is through nutrient control and good circulation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,816 Posts
Yeah Joe I went through this as well. I cut way back on feeding the tank, add more circulation and used a turkey baster and blasted it off the rocks and caught it with a fish net and siphoned some off the sand with the turkey baster and after a few weeks it was completely gone! Oh and welcome to TRT!:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
178 Posts
Welcome!!! after you increase circulation and reduce lighting, a good way to get rid of it is CHEMI-CLEAN. It is specificaly formulated for the dreadful red slim. But it is a temp fix, the best thing is to prevent it from comming in the first place. but the stuff does work wonders. I have had two bad cases and the stuff cleared it up in 24 hours. I costs around $20 for a 2 gram bottle. HTH

~Randy~
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,033 Posts
Hey Joe, welcome to TRT :)

I agree with everyone else on this matter. I have read on other message boards of people using a product called phosban. I purchased some but havent had a chance to put it in my tank. I usually try not to use a chemical of any kind so for starters I will go the turkey baster ( LOL, I got it right this time all ) method. This turkey baster will work. I used this method on my 38g and after about a month I was finally winning.

Good luck and don't give up you will win :D
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
47,678 Posts
See my remarks in this thread
http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=17815
Again its all about balance and diligent husbandry. Phosban to remove PO4 woiuld be good unless its one of those aluminum based things that are detrimental to reefs. Chemipure I have heard both good and bad, so as always I caution extreme care in using any of these, some work in some cases and not always , and others are Herpetroleum, plain and simple.
You can beat it, everyone goes thru it
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17,355 Posts
Cyanobacteria

As far as the Cyanobacter goes, there is almost always more than one factor that is encouraging the bloom. Aquaria that have problems with cyanobacter species usually have a combination of not only chemical/nutrient problems, but also physical and biological problems varying from lack of competition for nutrients to too long a photoperiod. Usually all the factors that influence cyanobacter spp. growth are present to some extent in closed systems, but some increase in one factor may be the key to producing the bloom.

The chemical factors for cyanobacter can have many sources, but usually center around the availability of nitrates or a nitrogen source (usually nitrate and/or DOM in stable systems, but may include ammonia as well) and phosphates. There are many sources of phosphate that are readily available from inputs to the tank: feeding (especially flake and/or heavy protein prepared foods), carbon from coconut shells or those carbons treated with phosphoric acid, untreated top off water (many areas have high phosphates and nitrates in the mains water), and occasionally the salts for synthetic seawater mixes, although that practice has pretty much fallen by the wayside now. Many municipalities use phosphate additives to reduce the possibility of lead in drinking water. Older systems use polyphosphate resins to soften the water in areas where the raw water has large amounts of calcium present.

It would be very important that you use some type of water purifier to remove these sources of phosphate. Please note that although many of the RO units have a rejection factor of 99%, that often does not mean that it is removing 99% of the phosphate! Phosphate is a small enough molecule that the RO membrane cannot efficiently remove much of the substance. In many cases, you will find that the companies (check spectrapure's web site for an example) cannot guarantee that they will be able to reduce the phosphate level at all unless the water is further processed by a deionization resin column (i.e., RO/DI water), and even then, the level may be reduced by only 50 to 70% based on the input-water concentration of this ion.

I would try to limit the input of phosphates, but don't be so concerned with this that you feel the need to stop feeding your fish, rather, find a way to export the phosphate. There are many ways to do this, my personal preference is to use a refugium and grow macroalgae (this removes nitrates and ammonia as well). This removes the phosphate as you harvest (and discard) the calerpa/halamida/whatever you grow to take up the phosphate. Algal turf scrubbers do the same, although I am not a big fan of these systems.

The use of a good skimmer is another way of removing these compounds, especially in conjunction with kalkwasser additions. It will reduce the levels of Dissolved Organic Materials (DOM) as well, preventing increases in nitrate down the road, but skimmers will remove any phytoplankton and other particulate materials that are food sources for many of the tanks inhabitants as well. On this you need to make a decision on whether you want to develop competition for the resources or eliminate some of the overall problem by skimming. I personally have pushed my skimming to running only if the cyano gets out of hand, and I have not been skimming for quite some time now with little or no cyano in the display tank (DSB, 6 years old, 6" no plenum). I do not recommend this for young tanks (less than 15 months old) in which I would suggest only strong and vigerous skimming for the set of circumstances listed here.

If you are testing for nutrients and show little or none in the water column, keep in mind that if you have an established cyano growth, as soon as nutrients are added to the system, the cyano will be taking them up and locking them in the cyano-biomass, where they will be undetectable to water testing kits. For this reason, a great means of removing these nutrients would be to siphon up the cyano and discard it as part of your water changes. This not only removes the Cyanobacterial mat itself, but exports the nutrients that the organism has locked up as well along with a partial water change.

As far as the aluminum oxide compounds go (phosphate sponges), I don't like them, although I have used them in the past. They have their own impact on the water column. Sarcophyton spp. will usually let you know that they don't like them by either shriveling up and shedding a coat of mucous or dying, not what I would consider a good exchange for getting rid of the cyanobacteria.

There are physical parameters that affect the growth of Cyanobacter as well, long photoperiods and (s)low water circulation. Good water circulation inhibits the growth of cyanobacteria mats. These organisms are neither plant nor animal, but have characteristics of both. They contain a red chlorophyll-like substance that allows them to photosynthesize carbohydrates in the presence of CO2 and light, but they also have the ability to capture substances for growth through a diffusion process (active transport for this organism is fairly slow, but does play a role in its growth). Slow water movement increases the likelihood that the organism will be able to capture foods, as well as the likelihood that the concentration of nutrients will be higher in still water (diffusion, remember?). With this in mind, cyano should be easily outcompeted for limited resources in a well-diversified system.

Long photoperiods of intense light will encourage blooms as well, especiall with bulbs that have red-shifted at the end of their useful life. Some systems may be able to stave off blooms either through superior food chain competition for nutrients or through consumption of the growths by higher organisms in spite of poor water conditions, only to develop Cyanobacterial mats when the bulbs reach a certain age. Reducing the photoperiod and replacing old bulbs can often reduce or eliminate cyano mat blooms.

Biological competition in a well established DSB system will control most of the cyano problems listed above, as well as the removal of cyanobacteria itself, as there are many organisms that live in a diverse sandbed infauna system that consume cyanobacter spp. as part of their diet. Rob Toonen and Ron Shimek both have written articles about this subject, as well as Sam Gamble's articles on live sand beds (although some of Sams better work is a little out of date). Peter Wilkens spoke on the subject at MACNA in 2000 and suggested that one way of solving cyano problems in tanks that continue to have problems when other issues have been resolved is to find someone who's tanks do NOT have cyano problems, and get some of their sand to introduce cyano-consumers to problematic systems.

As far as ornamental fish consumers of cyanobacter spp., there is the striped Bristle-toothed tang (Ctenochaetus striatus, see pp 734-35 in Baensch Marine Atlas). Under the feeding aspects, Baensch lists "...C. striatus sucks the thin covering of diatoms AND poisonous blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) from the bottom, making it one of the few herbivorous spp. that can be poisonous (ciguatera)..." . The Queen and Fighting Conchs (Strombus gigas and related spp.) will specifically dine on cyanobacterial mats as well. One spp. of the red hermits (the Mexican Chibanarius digueti will graze on cyano as well, although identifying them can be a chore at times (they have little expaded blue chromatophores on their legs and claws)

Keep in mind that problems with cyanobacter blooms are usually multifaceted, and having the cyano consumed by a top-of-the-chain organism generally does not remove the root causes of the bloom from the microcosm. You need to consider putting in place some method of export of the nutrients and a limit to the import of them to deal with the problem more thoroughly. Water changes, removal of the bacterial mats at the end of the photoperiod, and controlling water quality/husbandry issues will resolve most blooms. I absolutely discourage the use of antibiotic cures in closed marine systems. Too late to go into that tonight!

Hope this helps.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top