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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need help from more "experienced" hobbyist to assist me in getting a game plan together on solving my hair algae problem. My signature line should have a link to my tank setup, lighting, critters, and filtration information. I've spent a lot of time reading, changing water (RO/DI), turning out lights, starving the fish, buying gadgets and critters only to find myself in the same situation I was in before. I'm needing your help.

My goals:
1. Identify the source(s)
2. Fix the problem at it's source, not band aid the results.
3. Not make the same mistakes twice.

I have a 75 gallon reef tank which has been established nearly a year. I use 4 48" VHO lights (2 blue & 2 white) which are on timers and stay on about 5 hours currently. My sand bed is very shallow and I siphon it every time I do a RO/DI water change (every 10-15 days). I typically change out 15 gallons and test the water a day or two later. My typical water results are as follows:
Time: 9:00 pm
Temp: 79.3 F
S.G. 34
Salinity 1.025
Ph 8.4
dKH 10
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
Calcium 340
Phosphate 0

I feed my fish every Mon., Wed. & Fri. I use a pinch of fish food and put a 2 inch square piece of dried seaweed in a veggie clip for the Yellow Tang and Kole Tang. I have yet to see any of the fish food fall down to the bottom. The fish gobble it up almost immediately. Every once in a while, I'll notice my serpent starfish and a clan of the hermits all bunched up together. This happenes whenever a turbo snail dies. I'm not sure if they are killing the snail or if it dies and they scavenge. Either way, it's strange how I noticed the first dead snail and a week or two later my hair algae arrived. I recently took out all the rocks and scraped them all down with a brush. I removed all empty snail shells I could find and I even removed some of the sand bed to get out all the hair algae on the bottom. This was two weeks ago and my hair algae is growing rapidly again. I don't know what else to say, so please let me know your thoughts, suspicions or questions and I'll respond from there.

Thanks in advance,
Scoots
 

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How many watts total do you have for lighting? And how old are the bulbs?

One thing I'd do is raise the [email protected] 10dkh alk, your ca is pretty low...i usually have my ca @ 450 with 11 dkh ( this won't really help your HA problem but you're levels are unbalanced )

Are you using flake food? That has lots of phosphates in it. A test kit really doesn't test for the phosphate you want and even still, your hair algae is probably consuming the phosphates fast enough to remove them from being detected.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have 4 48" VHO bulbs and they are each 110 Watts. So, 440 watts. Two of the bulbs are approaching 9 months old and the other two are 3 months old. I don't use flake, only the pellets.

The calcium is actually improving, I've been adding a 2 part calcium supplement. I started at 280 and it's inching it's way up each time I test the water.

The 10% water change each week is something I've considered, but until when? Most of my friends with long established tanks only do a 10% water change once a month. I've tried to double that since my tank is newer and I have the algae problems. Will water changes alone solve the algae problem or does it stall it, so you're constantly trying to stay 1 water change ahead of it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I scrubbed my rocks 2 weeks ago. This hair algae growth has taken place since then. I must have a lot of nutrients in there feeding this stuff. Notice it's also on the sand.

 

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I have 4 48" VHO bulbs and they are each 110 Watts. So, 440 watts. Two of the bulbs are approaching 9 months old and the other two are 3 months old. I don't use flake, only the pellets.

The calcium is actually improving, I've been adding a 2 part calcium supplement. I started at 280 and it's inching it's way up each time I test the water.

The 10% water change each week is something I've considered, but until when? Most of my friends with long established tanks only do a 10% water change once a month. I've tried to double that since my tank is newer and I have the algae problems. Will water changes alone solve the algae problem or does it stall it, so you're constantly trying to stay 1 water change ahead of it?
I'd do 10% a week at least until your HA dies down. Plus, as mentioned above, you should siphon if you don't...:D

Water changes alone won't be the answer but they will certainly help. What supplement are you adding? I'm curious now if maybe you're adding phosphates that way.

What salt do you use? That CA level is extremely low. Instant ocean has a level of around 380 - 400 ppm @ 1.023 salinity. If you do more frequent water changes, your ca will be better maintained as well.

What corals do you have? I'm trying to understand now why your ca is so low.
 

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can I get a close up pic of that algae??

i dont think its regular HA.....it looks like bryposis which can wreak havoc in even relatively clean tanks.

the solution is to make sure you blow yoru rocks off regularly giving ti nowhere to take root, siphon all accumulated detritus out AND raise your mag levels to 1700-2000......but raise them slowly.

some think it needs to be done with tech M and not homemade, but I proved that theory wrong....you just have to take them over 2000 for it to work and again....take it SLOW.

lets get a better pic and make sure that is indeed what it is and then we can go into how exactly to do that.

the stuff is satan. I have fought it more than once.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Darth & Tonielli:

I'm currently using only a 2 part Calcium product. I used to add iodine and all sorts of stuff, but once the outbreak occurred.. I discontinued. Probably 2 months ago since I've added any other supplements.

As for the salt mix, I frequent several LFS and purchase pre-mixed saltwater (RO/DI) from them. Each of them use Istant Ocean. Yes, I do siphon the sand each time I do a water change.

I've put all the details on my filtration, lighting, livestock and so forth on the "Tank Specs" page, but I'll post them below for easy reading.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
75 Gallon Learning Experience

<HR style="COLOR: #000000" SIZE=1><!-- / icon and title --><!-- message -->Tank: Standard size 75 Gallon

Lighting: (4) 48" VHO bulbs (2 Blue & 2 White) 110w each

Filtration:
Sump: Aqua Pro 75 by Sealife Systems.

Skimmer: MPS 75 by Pro Clear Aquatic Systems. I modified this a bit by removing the RIO 600 pump and adding a RIO 800 pump.

UV: Turbo Twist 3x (9 watts).

Power Heads: 1 Maxijet 1200 & 1 SEIO 620.

Note: Water enters the sump and goes through a micropad. Then passes over the Bio-Balls and I use Chemi Pure (elite). After this path, it goes through the mechanical filter (aka: the sponge). The water then enters the sump area where the skimmer is.

Live Rock: Approx 40 pounds.. Bought a little at a time when I had extra cash. Plan on adding another 30 pounds eventually.

Substrate: It's a mixture of sand, crushed coral with a little bits of crushed shell. Approx 1" - 1.5" deep throughout the tank. Shallow bed.

Critters (Non-Fish):
1 Bubble Tip Anemone
1 Frag of Anchor coral (Showing good growth so far)
1 Green Star Polyps
10 Pulsing Xenia (Rapidly growing and dividing constantly...)
1 Serpent Star Fish
8 Mexican Turbo Snails
3 Pyramid snails
???? hermit crabs. (Various types... I'd guess 40 total)
1 Cleaner shrimp
1 Coral Banded shrimp
2 Pin cushion urchins

Critters (Fish):
1 Yellow Tang
1 Kole Tang (new addition to help with the hair algae)
1 Tomato clown
1 "3 stripe" damsel (last of the original starter fish).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
can I get a close up pic of that algae??

i dont think its regular HA.....it looks like bryposis which can wreak havoc in even relatively clean tanks.

the solution is to make sure you blow yoru rocks off regularly giving ti nowhere to take root, siphon all accumulated detritus out AND raise your mag levels to 1700-2000......but raise them slowly.

some think it needs to be done with tech M and not homemade, but I proved that theory wrong....you just have to take them over 2000 for it to work and again....take it SLOW.

lets get a better pic and make sure that is indeed what it is and then we can go into how exactly to do that.

the stuff is satan. I have fought it more than once.
I don't have a test for Mag, so I have no idea what it is currently. As for the close up pic, this is the best I can do:



I appreciate any help or ideas....
 

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I dont think its bryopsis. it is as thick as bryopsis, but i dont see the featherlike ends in it whcih is the tell tale sign of it. But that is some nappy looking stuff.

you dont need to add any more rock. You could stack what youve got more openly wouldnt hurt......You need more flow, and you need to evaluate your feeding, get a better skimmer and/or seriously up yoru water change regimen.

hair algae doesnt get that nappy looking unless stuff just sits in it and rots because the excess utrients are in the water and there isnt enough flow to move it out. That hair algae looks like it actually has a brain of its own and is going out of its way to collect more and more gunk

bioballs-bad. sponge- bad. shallow bed of mixed crushed coral and shell-bad. none of these things are helping you. thye are just contributing to the problem. I dont mean to pick it apart, as I read what i just wrote it is kinda brutal.......just trying to help
 

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Hey Fly careful using that word "nappy" if this were radio you would be out of a job for a couple of months. :lol:
 

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I dont think its bryopsis. it is as thick as bryopsis, but i dont see the featherlike ends in it whcih is the tell tale sign of it. But that is some nappy looking stuff.

you dont need to add any more rock. You could stack what youve got more openly wouldnt hurt......You need more flow, and you need to evaluate your feeding, get a better skimmer and/or seriously up yoru water change regimen.

hair algae doesnt get that nappy looking unless stuff just sits in it and rots because the excess utrients are in the water and there isnt enough flow to move it out. That hair algae looks like it actually has a brain of its own and is going out of its way to collect more and more gunk

bioballs-bad. sponge- bad. shallow bed of mixed crushed coral and shell-bad. none of these things are helping you. thye are just contributing to the problem. I dont mean to pick it apart, as I read what i just wrote it is kinda brutal.......just trying to help
I totally agree here. Your setup is a death-trap waiting to explode ( or is exploding now )

I don't think what Fly wrote is 'brutal' but is cold, hard fact.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This is actually the kind of feedback I had hoped for.

Easy Stuff:
1. Removing the bio-balls
2. Remove the sponge
3. Increase water flow

What do you suggest for a skimmer? Is my current skimmer inadequate? The only thing I'm having a hard time swallowing is removing the sand bed. It's an aweful job..plus I really like the look. I know, I know there are sacrifices to be made, but I'll have to stew in this one for a while.

Please advise on the skimmer..
 

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This is actually the kind of feedback I had hoped for.

Easy Stuff:
1. Removing the bio-balls
2. Remove the sponge
3. Increase water flow

What do you suggest for a skimmer? Is my current skimmer inadequate? The only thing I'm having a hard time swallowing is removing the sand bed. It's an aweful job..plus I really like the look. I know, I know there are sacrifices to be made, but I'll have to stew in this one for a while.

Please advise on the skimmer..
I have no experience with that skimmer but from what I understand, HOT skimmers are generally not as good as one you stick in the sump.

regarding your bio-balls and sand, remove the balls slowly if they've been in the system for a while. Otherwise, you'll send your tank into a cycle. If you decide to remove that sand, I'd suggest the same thing: slow. If you like the looks, then keep it at 2" deep and just make a point to siphon it out every water change. Python makes a great siphon that lets you hit the sand without sucking it out. Only the lighter detritus and algea will be pulled out.

But, the key to EVERYTHING is patience..eventually things will work to your advantage ;)
 

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oh, regarding that sponge...I say keep it in the sump so it breeds and houses bacteria. Using it as a filter just creates a trap that will raise your nitrates eventually if left unattended. By using it as a bacterial nest, you can have a ready-to-go means of bio-filtration for a QT tank when you need it ;)
 

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oh, regarding that sponge...I say keep it in the sump so it breeds and houses bacteria. Using it as a filter just creates a trap that will raise your nitrates eventually if left unattended. By using it as a bacterial nest, you can have a ready-to-go means of bio-filtration for a QT tank when you need it ;)

it doesnt work this way unfortunately

you cant have it in your sump, keep it clean and house enough bacteria to make it worthwhile to just quickly move to your qt tank all at the same time.


if you want beneficial bacteria in your qt tank, then put the sponge in your qt tank, not your display. one of those POS HOB filters with the beneficial bacteria sponges are great for QT tanks that dont have sumps IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Darth,
I'm glad you mentioned the tank's recycling if I remove the bio-balls. I was wondering how that would go. I really don't want to go through cycling again and I especially don't want to risk the livestock, so how exactly would I go about removing the bio-balls and what replaces their bacterial function? As I understand things, they are the host to beneficial bacteria which is keeping the tank in balance. If I remove them, wouldn't I ruin the "established" nature of the filtration system?

My current skimmer is in the sump, so I still don't know if my skimmer is inadequate or not. how exactly would I know? If I need a new one, then so be it....I just don't want to throw money away needlessly. I'm already well over $3,000 (and counting) into this hobby.
 
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