REEF2REEF Saltwater and Reef Aquarium Forum
Just use....live rock + protein skimmer. That's the basis you want to build from. (Not news, right? )
Since you already have the lights (obviously) I think I'd try to maintain a Leather + Fish tank. I'm thinking toadstools, Yellow leathers....lotsa good options. The demands they place on chemistry are small. Place them where the problem algae tends to grow and just make sure the tank doesn't run out of phosphates. Anemones may be another option for you if the fish population is compatible.
Other soft corals can work too, but most seem to have issues in my book....toxins in the paly's and zoanthids, for example. nth degree spreading in some of the star polyps. Etc. Leathers are nice since they still grow from a base (and stay put), and can usually be trimmed with scissors when they get too big.
My guess is that you have a co-bloom of some filamentous algae along with something like diatoms growing as epiphytes. It's common.
Probably too much light and too many nutrients into too new of a tank....nothing but space for algae to grow and ideal conditions for it. (I.e. immature tank)
Egg crate is too hard to clean too...you might consider switching to something easier.
No other filtration or media at work?
Can you also turn down the lights a little? Before you do, any idea what the current #lux or PAR levels are like?
It seems like what you're missing is a solid cleanup crew. Any change you have an herbivore fish in a larger tank nearby that you could "borrow"? Otherwise just get plenty of snails.
But what #lux or PAR reading do you get for a maximum?
I would let your nutrients stabilize around where they are. If they fall lower naturally, great, but don't force it except if you can reduce your inputs to the system. Let algae use it up and let snails keep your algae grazed.
Maybe too much light. Definitely too much filtration.
Also makes me question flow.
Your nutrient levels "ought" to be able to support pretty intense light levels...BUT...too little flow or too soft flow can be a real problem even in a situation with good lighting and good nutrients.
I'm sure it's useful to someone. Cool!
But as the PBAR folks (who???) agonize over that level of minuteness, we still have 90% of the folks in our little hobby not using any light meter at all. Not even a #lux meter, which can cost next to nothing and which can tell you almost everything you'd need to know for our purposes.
90% is much better than it was even 5 years ago, but the point still stands – wa-a-ay more folks need to have a light meter.
New tanks are rarely all that stable since everything from tank maturity to livestock load is usually in a state of flux.
Do both seem to vary normally, or do one or both of them seem to be always the same?
Check out all that past posts under that hashtag (or just run a search for posts with "lux" in them) and check this out as well:
They only run $10-$20, so it's an easy buy. Anything like the "LX-1010B" I have will do.
On the refugium I'd argue that removing N and P is a bogus strategy in the first place. Why'd you put the nutrients in there if you didn't want them?? Folks really want to avoid wholistic thinking on this front.
Not trying to make a thing, but you asked for it...never say never.
Check out some of our posts under the #lux tag....we've been at this quite a while.
They're fine as long as you get one that works with your phone. And this is the part that's complicated and barely worth explaining to someone having troubles with a lux meter app....it's much better and only slightly more expensive to order a $10-$20 handheld meter from ebay. I'd rather not wave my phone around over my tank anyway.
Lots of posts....not sure of any threads that are dedicated. Check the #lux tag (which I've used quite a bit, but not universally) and/or use the site search for the term.
Honestly, as @saltyfilmfolks has been known to say, just walking around metering light inside and outside for a day or two will open your eyes.
My Beginner’s Lux article might also help.
I use a really basic "LX-1010B" that you can run a search for and find at most online retail outlets....but there are many similar models. Most or even all of them should work if another one looked more interesting. @saltyfilmfolks has the red one that has some minor data logging features and it works well too. (I'm not sure if he has a use for the data logging, so maybe he'll chime in...I think he just happened to pick that one like I just happened to pick the 1010B.) Folks have even put them in ziplock baggies for underwater readings.....I've just used it for surface measurements and that seems to be enough to get the job done. You can find a lot of old threads where we discuss and use lux meters under the #lux tag.
Also, here's a blog post I made about it: