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Aquatic Philosopher
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
OK, tossed the idea out in my 40B Rebuild thread and I though since my tank has a good bit of algae, it might be a good to give folks as example of how someone who has fought the good fight deals with algae. I am going to try to keep it simple in concept and in terminology (or really not as complex as the THINK Tank). We will reference some of the "experts" but if folks want more, we can reference the "deep" discussions like Invic's Algae thread. In order to win against algae we need some simpleground rules in the "war".

1) It is a war of attrition.
2) It is a war of resources.
3) It is a war of tools and knowledge.
4) Don't panic... ever.

Got it?

Need more? Ok.

First (really last) rule is to never panic. Don't go "OMG ALGAE WHHHHAAAAAAAAA!" Algae happens. It can pop up quickly (overnight really) and make things a mess. However, it is normally not going to cause tank-ending repercussions immediately. If anything, it is an "occupying force". In fact, it often comes in stages with normal tank development. When I saw algae in my tank, I when "huh, ok". So when dealing with algae, deal with in in the "long term" notion. Quick actions really are not needed but rather systematic changes might be. Sometimes, algae is just a natural sign that a tank is progressing and if you keep up with proper husbandry it will disappear.

Ok, moving on to the most important concept "The war against algae is a war of attrition". Seriously. Either you will wear it out, it might wear you out of the hobby, or you will fight to a stalemate and both sides just old there. There is NO magic bullet for beating algae. There is no "quick fix" in a bottle for the long term. Algae pops up overnight but it might be weeks or months (depending) on the final defeat. There are ways to control algae via predation but this just removes the intial issue without addressing the underlying issue. I will talk about predation (algae eaters) later and why they can be a tool to help but not a solution later on.

Next, this is a war of resources. Either you get to the resources or algae gets them. Algae responds to one thing: available resources. Take away the resources and algae does not have a nutrient to stand on. If you let the resources hang around the tank, then algae is diabolical enough to get to them and then try and tilt the playing-field in their advantage... yes, algae is a nutrient cheater and does anything to win. To beat algae, you can't cheat but you can get to the nutrients before they have a chance to cheat. That is the long-term gameplan.

Finally (or thirdly put last), this war is about knowledge and having the correct tools. My plan is not about going out and buying the solution but some folks might need to buy the right tools in order to win the war. You NEED pure water (RO/DI) and some pieces of equipment are useful (siphon and a skimmer for some tanks). However, what is the point of having good tools if you do not know how to wield them? As a result, winning the war needs information. You might need some info from G's RME thread , Invic's Thread, and a few classic Spanky posts,

There is even some real tanks and experiences folks who have the art and knowledge down... with the proper tools. We might not always agree on how those tools are used or even if they can be used universally, but there is value in some of these tanks... and a viewpoint to look at how to keep things working for you. Nate's, Invic's, Rustl3r's
MINION's Build or Paul's Tank
dirty's tank

A lot of folks have fought algae in their tanks, in fact it seems we are always fighting it in some form... even when we plan to keep it in our tanks.

Ok, moving on to MY algae war. Ok, I am rebuilding from a disastrous move... I lost a lot and there was a lot of die-off. As a result, a lot of organics/nutrients made their way back into the rock. So when I rebuild, algae was able to take advantage of my previous issues (told you they were evil cheaters). So what is going on? Well, with new tank (even many tanks that are being rebuilt) there are going to be excess organics as populations shift and respond in the tank to various items. Diatoms respond to silica, and algae responds to nitrogen and phosphate. So when items were no doing well during the move, bacteria responded to the die-off and the waste that bacteria produces is often Grade A fertilizer for algae. So, a few weeks (about 3-4 (after "cycle") of having my tank back up an running, I start seeing algae. Now, it is important to note that my tank will mature faster than a tank that is set up using dry-rock or from scratch. So keep in mind that my time scale is accelerated... makes making an algae thread easier but please note that other system might take longer... but the process is the same.

Here: See the green/brown popping up on the left glass wall? It has not really addressed the rocks yet in large amount to make it easily noticeable but it is there. This is NORMAL... all newer tanks should see some algae response. We often call it the "uglies" and it is just like a teenager getting pimples. It happens, some worse than other but it will clean up as it matures if everything is taken care of properly.
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/2/7/2/8/8/imag3375.jpg" alt="Imag3375" />

Now, 1.5 weeks later, I have more algae colonizing areas. In particular, it is colonizing areas that did not have a lot of mature coraline algae (ok stuff) growth like this recently dead coral skeleton. Algae is opportunistic. It like to be "first to colonize" and then tries to hold on. So here you see the algae on the "white" new dead skeleton.
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/2/7/2/8/8/imag3408.jpg" alt="Imag3408" />

Now, the first step to battling the algae is to address the initial wave. Algae will try to get an advantage and as more algae grows, the more it will try and create an environment that helps it "dominate the world". Now, the first step is to attack the invading force and try to drive them back a bit. In this case I am talking about manual removal. Yes, you need to pluck and/or suck algae out of the system. Thin out the numbers. For me it was a little siphoning and plucking. It is a bit time consuming but it helps to try and control the inital wave. It is not a solution but it is part of the winning plan. Here was my "spoils"
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/2/7/2/8/8/aimag3461.jpg" alt="Aimag3461" />

Now I am not worried about getting it all but I try and get as much as I can easily.

So, that is the initial step. In the following post, I will start laying out my over-reaching battle plans. So, those veterans of prior algae wars don't jump the gun. Rather, if folks have good ideas about MANUAL ALGAE REMOVAL, please post below. I think Invic suggested some interesting usage of a toothbrush and a hose. ;) (Edit: Invic's method is to use a toothbrush to loosen and remove algae and the have a siphon hole follow along with it). So, keep with the manual algae removal concept for now and stay posted!!!! :thumbup:
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What?! YOU have algae issues?! :p
Haha, everyone does. But, as I say, it is often a result in which stage the tank is in unless there is a husbandry issue.
 

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I'm just giving ya crap :)
I think the internet forums mentality needs to change from 'how do I get rid of algae' to 'how do I control my alage'...

Good writeup though
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm just giving ya crap :)
I think the internet forums mentality needs to change from 'how do I get rid of algae' to 'how do I control my alage'...

Good writeup though
Don't give me crap... that is algae fuel :lol:

Actually, that mentality is a good outlook. You can get rid of algae and yet not be able to control it but if you can control the algae (rather the nutrients the fuel algae) then getting rid of it is "easy-peasy".
 

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Any time I'm cleaning algae off the rocks I scrape it with a toothbrush and try to catch any big pieces with a net. Takes a while but it's pretty easy. If there's a lot, I turn both my wavemakers on and slide them down towards the sand aimed up so that the floating algae stays off the sand and eventually most of it gets sucked up into the overflow.

Relatively painless way to do it. Any removable rocks get put in the trash water and scrubbed there.
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Ok, a few days later in the algae fight. I let the system get nice a green to make it look really bad... and I only had on my white LEDs to make seeing the algae easier. Normally I would have cleaned it before it go to this stage but the fire and this thread made me wait.

Ok, here is the tank with only white LEDs.
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/2/7/2/8/8/imag3482.jpg" alt="Imag3482" />

Yum, green.
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/2/7/2/8/8/imag3484.jpg" alt="Imag3484" />

Ok, so what did I do. Well I did a couple of things. First I started by manually plucking the larger clumps of algae and tossing them into a pitcher to be dumped later. I like having the algae receptacle in easy reach when plucking.
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/2/7/2/8/8/imag3485.jpg" alt="Imag3485" />

Next, I used a toothbrush and a siphon and really went after the algae the best I can. I guess I ended up changing about 4g total including a toothbrush siphoning and quick sandbed siphoning.

Normally I do not use filter socks with my tanks. However, when I am battling algae, I fit one up to my overflow so that any algae that is plucked or brushed and does not get removed by me initially, hopefully it will be flushed into the overflow and caught. Note, it is not the normal fuzzy filter-floss filter sock but rather a nylon mesh bag of sort. These are tougher to find and I honest do not remember where I got it from but it works great at catching algae that I missed earlier. I empty it about 20 mins after the plucking and siphoning. Not bad at catching thicker clumps of detritus either.

<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/2/7/2/8/8/imag3486.jpg" alt="Imag3486" />

Next up in my methods is a surprise. I often do not recommend GFO as a normal means of tackling algae. However, I do think it can provide part-time support after large algae attacks. Do not rely of GFO in my opinion, but you can run it for short times to help combat algae. It will not stop a nutrient problem or step-in for algae plucking/removal/water changes, but I use it as a small P sink since I know bacteria might start converting the struggling algae into available P. So I am using a small GFO amount to combat it. It has been running since the first post.

<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/2/7/2/8/8/imag3490.jpg" alt="Imag3490" />

Next, even with a water change, scrapping, brushing, plucking, I clean the skimmer. Dirty skimmers do not work as well as clean one and even after a few minutes my skimmer has responded to the algae cells in the water column.
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/2/7/2/8/8/imag3488.jpg" alt="Imag3488" />

So, this is how the tank looks after a FutureDoc algae attack (white and blue LEDs running now).
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/2/7/2/8/8/imag3493.jpg" alt="Imag3493" />

I did not get all of it but I got a good chunk. I should see a slow algae response unless I did a better job than I thought. Culling the algae is a lot different from running a algae-fuge. With my algae attack, I am trying to get as much algae as possible with the goal of not having as much or any return. An algae-fuge removes small amounts of algae while hoping it grows quickly again so you can remove a small amount again.

Keeping my fingers crossed about limited algae return. Right now I only have 5-6 snails so predation is minimum... that might be the next step/major post so keep tuned.
 

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Fuzzy Stick Crazy
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Toothbrush method works OK. it also happens to shred the algae into tiny little particles that further spreads. If your whole rock structure is covered, this is not an issue. If its just one rock. I highly recommend you remove it from the tank and scrub scrub scrub.

A pipe cleaner set is FANTASTIC and removing alage from tight areas. Be sure to rinse the brushes afterward to limit corrosion.

Also, you can rubberband a siphon to your toothbrush/pipe cleaner. This will suck up lots of the alage right on the spot before it has to chance to spread.

I also have another method. Take your siphon hose and a fine tip coral feeder. Remove the bulb at the end of the coral feeder and attach the hose. Lucky for me the hose slips onto the back of my feeder without modification. Then you can hold the feeder like a pen and the fine tip has a VERY strong suction that can rip hair algae from its roots. this is also very effective against bubble algae, cyano, and conflagrations (bascially everything except diatoms, and bryopsis since that stuff is heavily rooted). Just use the tip to pop the bubble algae and the suction power will force it down the tube and any spores will get sucked down also. If it gets clogged you can press the tip against the glass to deflate the bubble completely. It also helps to have something to unclog (like a plastic chopstick).

Becareful around soft corals and LPS. you can suck the flesh right off the rock/skeleton (especally euphyllia and xenia). This method is also fantastic at siphoning BB tanks.
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I like the K.I.S.S. method of this thanks!
Keep Is Siphoned and Skimmed? ;)

Toothbrush method works OK. it also happens to shred the algae into tiny little particles that further spreads. If your whole rock structure is covered, this is not an issue. If its just one rock. I highly recommend you remove it from the tank and scrub scrub scrub.
Right not the algae is mostly in areas that were recently dead coral so I am not worried about it spreading but thanks for the tip.

A pipe cleaner set is FANTASTIC and removing alage from tight areas. Be sure to rinse the brushes afterward to limit corrosion.
Good idea

Also, you can rubberband a siphon to your toothbrush/pipe cleaner. This will suck up lots of the alage right on the spot before it has to chance to spread.
Yep, that is how I was kinda doing it... just without the rubberband. I was two-handing it but then again it is a shallow tank and I have really long arms.

I also have another method. Take your siphon hose and a fine tip coral feeder. Remove the bulb at the end of the coral feeder and attach the hose. Lucky for me the hose slips onto the back of my feeder without modification. Then you can hold the feeder like a pen and the fine tip has a VERY strong suction that can rip hair algae from its roots. this is also very effective against bubble algae, cyano, and conflagrations (bascially everything except diatoms, and bryopsis since that stuff is heavily rooted). Just use the tip to pop the bubble algae and the suction power will force it down the tube and any spores will get sucked down also. If it gets clogged you can press the tip against the glass to deflate the bubble completely. It also helps to have something to unclog (like a plastic chopstick).

Becareful around soft corals and LPS. you can suck the flesh right off the rock/skeleton (especally euphyllia and xenia). This method is also fantastic at siphoning BB tanks.
Yep. I have a turkey-baster with a long ridged airline pipe connected to it. Works well. I really like it for getting detritus from inside parts of the skimmer and sump. :thumbup:
 

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Here is a few basic pics, Usually I either just rubberband the hose on or my preferred is Zip Ties. Airline or poly 3/8" Line works well, I tend to go 3/8" line so I can get more suction power.


Sucko-Brush! Here is the basic tooth brush setup. Keep it on the under side and its pulls away what ever you break loose.




Sucko-Scrape! This is a simple Kent scrapper I use a lot, attach the hose and pull up you scrape, this way the bits are on the back of the blade and the hose can suck them out.



Then a new toy the Aquamop, its nice best use is once or twice a week wipe down the tank. This is to be used Before you really notice film on the glass or algae. Its not to scrub just wipe things down. Get it early and its less of fight to get off. Note: Careful when you wipe not to pick up a snail or such in the mop and scratch the glass!



Final toy I use mostly for sump cleaning. I use a shop Vac and instead of super insane suction on the main hose, I took a 3/8" push fitting with valve and threaded and glued it into one of my shop vac extension pieces. Main opening pulls in a ton of air and the 3/8" line has a nice slow controllable suction to clean with. 3/8" poly hose pushes right into the fitting. If you need more suction just cover the shop vac hose end with your other hand and the 3/8" line suction goes up. Gives ya some control which is nice.



Last but not least the Wand of siphoning awesomeness! PVC with Poly line and valve for starting and stopping. This keeps my hands out of the tank and just siphon away.

 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Invic, you algae-removal obsession is scary :lol: wow
 

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Invic, you algae-removal obsession is scary :lol: wow
Building vac attachments now to clean that stuck on sediment poo ;)

Ya I had some algae fights in the past. I finally learned how to torture algae. Which I enjoy way to much.

I leave a single bubble algae in my 30g it takes it 5 months to have a baby bubble grow. Then I remove its daddy as a warning to future generations lol yes I am that sadistic
 

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Interesting note on the coraline. I need to read up on if the calcium in its cell walls make it hard for phosphates to bind. Opens some reading topics to investigate for me!

Really I need to dig into coraline more anyway. Found a softish plating type that grows under 6500k well but 3600k it survives and at 10k it seems to get burned.
 

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Great thread will be following closely. Going through a battle right now good to now I was on the right track. Just ordered a new R.O skimmer to help with the nutrients my old skimmer was beat and just not doing it.
 

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Here is a few basic pics, Usually I either just rubberband the hose on or my preferred is Zip Ties. Airline or poly 3/8" Line works well, I tend to go 3/8" line so I can get more suction power.


Sucko-Brush! Here is the basic tooth brush setup. Keep it on the under side and its pulls away what ever you break loose.




Sucko-Scrape! This is a simple Kent scrapper I use a lot, attach the hose and pull up you scrape, this way the bits are on the back of the blade and the hose can suck them out.



Then a new toy the Aquamop, its nice best use is once or twice a week wipe down the tank. This is to be used Before you really notice film on the glass or algae. Its not to scrub just wipe things down. Get it early and its less of fight to get off. Note: Careful when you wipe not to pick up a snail or such in the mop and scratch the glass!



Final toy I use mostly for sump cleaning. I use a shop Vac and instead of super insane suction on the main hose, I took a 3/8" push fitting with valve and threaded and glued it into one of my shop vac extension pieces. Main opening pulls in a ton of air and the 3/8" line has a nice slow controllable suction to clean with. 3/8" poly hose pushes right into the fitting. If you need more suction just cover the shop vac hose end with your other hand and the 3/8" line suction goes up. Gives ya some control which is nice.



Last but not least the Wand of siphoning awesomeness! PVC with Poly line and valve for starting and stopping. This keeps my hands out of the tank and just siphon away.

I like these ideas. How are you starting the siphon with the pvc "wand" and the 3/8 line, I can't visuslize that relative to how I start my siphon.
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Building vac attachments now to clean that stuck on sediment poo ;)

Ya I had some algae fights in the past. I finally learned how to torture algae. Which I enjoy way to much.

I leave a single bubble algae in my 30g it takes it 5 months to have a baby bubble grow. Then I remove its daddy as a warning to future generations lol yes I am that sadistic
Do you pluck bryopsis one leaf at a time... :eek:


Interesting note on the coraline. I need to read up on if the calcium in its cell walls make it hard for phosphates to bind. Opens some reading topics to investigate for me!

Really I need to dig into coraline more anyway. Found a softish plating type that grows under 6500k well but 3600k it survives and at 10k it seems to get burned.
That does not surprise me. I have found in the past, one of the best allies against algae is ... errrr... coraline algae. Most of my issue is where coral once was and there is no coraline. It is all a turf war (pun aside). Now knowing more would be useful. Sounds like a interesting strain.

Great thread will be following closely. Going through a battle right now good to now I was on the right track. Just ordered a new R.O skimmer to help with the nutrients my old skimmer was beat and just not doing it.
Cool. Yeah, having a skimmer can help, especially a good skimmer that can pull the organics. Algae can be beaten without a skimmer but for larger tanks it is a lot easier with a skimmer.
 
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