A Simple Guide To Common Problematic Algae And The Means To Control It..

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Steven R

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As we all know algae is inevitable in both Marine and fresh water aquariums and if not watched and without proper procedures for removal can quickly turn a beautiful aquarium in to something that resembles a scene out of a old Swamp thing episode. Some are easy to control some are a non stop war. Once established either way the war against algae can be won with dedication and persistence.

This is a easy a easy quick guide to the most common algae that plague us and basic steps we can take to control them through mechanical, biological, and natural herbivores.


The dreaded green algae.

Green hair algae: DERBESIA
20091217017_zps7268e8ab.jpg


This is one of the most problematic Algae that is most commonly seen through out the hobby and is also one of the hardest to control once it is established and can be a daunting task to get under control and remove and will quickly take over your system if given the right conditions..


ID: This Algae is very easy to identify it forms green tuffs on the rock work and glass normally in areas of low flow it should be a solid green/brown color with strands of ( hair ) flowing away from the base.

CONTROL: One of the easiest ways to control the spread and outbreak of this algae is to have aggressive skimming and control the amount of food you add to the system. This in conjunction with a regular water change and light use of carbon ( a good carbon ) will help you control the outbreak of this and many more types of algae. Also a Alkalinty of 8DKH or higher will help stem the development of this Algae.

WHAT FEEDS THE GROWTH OF (GHA)?
Green hair algae feeds off of phosphates as it primary source of food followed by nitrate's. So if you have a reliable pure fish food that is soaked and rinsed is one way to control the addition of phosphates to the system. Also the reason it is advised to not skimp on quality when it comes to activated carbon is that a lot of problems with algae outbreaks is caused by carbon re-introducing phosphates into the system after the carbon is used to its full potential. Also along with re-introducing phosphates a lot of activated carbons leach phosphates from the time they are added to the system. So Good carbon is a must to help fight Algae outbreaks.

REMOVAL:
A toothbrush is your best friend against this Algae and you should scrub the rocks with it after removing as much as possible by hand.

NATURAL PREDATORS:

This Green hair algae has very little natural predators

ALGAE AGAINST ALGAE:
A refugium is a natural way of removing Phosphates and Nitrates from your system. If done correctly a refugium can eliminate a lot of algae problems..Simple to set up and maintain all you need is a 6,500k light source And some chaetomorpha on a reverse or 24hr light cycle. This Algae will out compete other algae for nutrients and will not leach nutrients back into the system and will not go sexual..
 
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Steven R

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ENTEROMORPHA: Sea Lettuce
enteromorpha3field_zpsa0fd2c3b.jpg


This is another one of the most problematic Algae that is most commonly seen through out the hobby and is also one of the hardest to control once it is established and can be a daunting task to get under control and remove and will quickly take over your system if given the right conditions..


ID: This Algae is very easy to identify it forms green tuffs on the rock work and glass normally in areas of low flow it should be a solid green/brown color with strands of ( hair ) flowing away from the base.

CONTROL: One of the easiest ways to control the spread and outbreak of this algae is to have aggressive skimming and control the amount of food you add to the system. This in conjunction with a regular water change and light use of carbon ( a good carbon ) will help you control the outbreak of this and many more types of algae. Also a Alkalinity of 8DKH or higher will help stem the development of this Algae.

WHAT FEEDS THE GROWTH OF (GHA)?
Green hair algae feeds off of phosphates as it primary source of food followed by nitrate's. So if you have a reliable pure fish food that is soaked and rinsed is one way to control the addition of phosphates to the system. Also the reason it is advised to not skimp on quality when it comes to activated carbon is that a lot of problems with algae outbreaks is caused by carbon re-introducing phosphates into the system after the carbon is used to its full potential. Also along with re-introducing phosphates a lot of activated carbons leach phosphates from the time they are added to the system. So Good carbon is a must to help fight Algae outbreaks.

REMOVAL:
A toothbrush is your best friend against this Algae and you should scrub the rocks with it after removing as much as possible by hand.

NATURAL PREDATORS:
This Green hair algae has a few Natural predators. They are as follows Hermit crabs, Tuxedo urchin, Surgeonfish,Rabbit fish, Angelfish,Some sea slugs ( But sea slugs should be handled by experienced aquarist only) and Amphipods just to name a few.

ALGAE AGAINST ALGAE:
A refugium is a natural way of removing Phosphates and Nitrates from your system. If done correctly a refugium can eliminate a lot of algae problems..Simple to set up and maintain all you need is a 6,500k light source And some chaetomorpha on a reverse or 24hr light cycle. This Algae will out compete other algae for nutrients and will not leach nutrients back into the system and will not go sexual..
 
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Steven R

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GREEN BUBBLE ALGAE:
DSC08576_zps0c3aac61.jpg



Bubble algae is a very easy algae to deal with for two reasons.
1. You can manually remove the algae by grabbing the base of the bubble and remove it by hand.. Caution should be used when removing this algae so you do not pop the bubble. The reason you should use caution to not pop the bubble is that when the bubble is popped the cells that have developed inside the bubble will be released and spread more throughout the system.

2. Bubble algae is a slow grower so once it is noticed and manually removed without popping the bubbles it gives you plenty of time to get your levels back in order so it does not have nutrients to grown back.


WHAT FEEDS IT:
This algae's nutrient of choice is Nitrates.

CONTROL:
Low Nitrate levels, active skimming, and a solid Husbandry schedule.

NATURAL PREDATORS:

There are a few natural predators that are known and they are as follows. Surgeonfish, Rabbit fish, Mithrax crab, Some sea slugs.
 
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BRYOPSIS:
4bryopsis-vi_zps54fd8a36.jpg
images


IDENTIFICATION:
Green or blue tuffs attached to the rock work or glass and it it has a firm anchor to the rock work, as it grows it rises up and branches out.

WHAT IT FEEDS OFF OF:
This algae's food source is primarily Ammonia and Nitrite. If you levels of these two nutrients in your system you might have a bigger problem then the algae it self. Either you do not have adequate bio-filtration or you are way over feeding, or something has died in the system and has yet to be found.

HOW TO CONTROL IT:
The easiest ways to control this type of algae goes back to the basic fundamentals of reef keeping Strong established bio-filtration, Aggressive skimming, and a good husbandry schedule.

REMOVAL:
The easiest way to remove this algae from the system is to simply reach in and pull the tuffs out by hand.

NATURAL HERBIVORES:
This algae is not desired by a lot of herbivores but still yet there are a few that can be used for control and they are as follows.
Rabbit fish,Tuxedo urchin, Mithrax crab, and some sea slugs ( elysia spp,) *Sea slugs should be handled by experienced aquarist*.
 
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CAULERPA:
caulerparacemosa_zpsb34a1614.jpg


IDENTIFICATION:

This green or red algae will anchor itself to rock rock work or substrate. It grows in long branching formations with little bubbles on the end as seen in the picture above.

WHAT FEEDS IT:
This algae prefers to feed off of Nitrate or Phosphates in the system. That being said this is also a Algae that if grown in a refugium can have a positive affect for the water conditions if controlled properly. Since it feed's off of NItrate's and Phosphates it can be used to remove them from the water column it is a candidate for a great algae control.

THE DOWN SIDE OF USING CAULERPA AS A ALGAE FILTER.
If caulerpa is not pruned regularly it will go sexual and release toxins into the water column.

SIDE NOTE:
Some types of caulerpa will sting other corals on contact.

METHODS OF CONTROL:

Removal by hand, sugeonfish, angelfish, diadema urchin, some tangs,
 
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BROWN HAIR ALGAE:
Badhairalgae_zps460499ef.jpg
1410312_f248.jpg


IDENTIFICATION:

This algae is very similar to Green Hair Algae it grows on the rock work and on the glass. This Algae is not normally found in tropical aquariums since it prefers colder water temperatures.

WHAT IT FEEDS OFF OF:
This Algae feeds off of Nitrates and Phosphates but primarily Phosphates.

METHODS OF CONTROL:
Aggressive skimming, limit the amount of food being added to the system. Know your water sources for water changes and use only RO/DI water when possible.
Can easily be removed by hand.

NATURAL HERBIVORES:
No natural herbivores are known for sure at this time.
 
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RED HAIR ALGAE:

hairalgae2_zps1cbd7199.jpg


IDENTIFICATION:
This red algae is easily identifiable by its bright to dull red coloration. It grows the same as green or brown hair algae it will attach to rock work and grow short tuffs of ( hair ).

WHAT IT FEEDS OFF OF:
This algae feeds primarily off of Nitrite's in the system but will also feed of of Nitrate's and Phosphates if there is no available Nitrite's in the system.

MEANS OF CONTROL:

Once your tank has cycled and proper bio-filtration has been established it is hard for this algae to get a foot hold in the system, that is not saying it cant happen since where there is a will there is a way. Proper food additions and aggressive skimming along with good husbandry will help you avoid this algae.

This Algae can also be removed by pulling the tuffs out by hand and manual scrubbing with a toothbrush.

NATURAL HERBIVORES:
Diadema urchin, some sea slugs (alypsia and Hermaea) * Sea slugs should be handled by experienced aquarist only*
 
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POLYSIPHONIA ( RED HAIR ALAGE THE USABLE KIND )

Polysiphonia_09_600x450_elongata_zps40bb88e9.jpg


IDENTIFICATION:
This algae grows in small red tuffs on rock work, glass,coral branches mostly SPS have to worry about this but can over take polyps such as Palythoas, Zoanthids
and other small low lying corals.

WHAT IT FEEDS OFF OF:
This algae feeds primarily off of Nitrites, but will also feed off of Phosphates and Nitrates. Since this algae feeds off of more then one thing it is a prime candidate for a algae turf scrubber, And can easily be removed from the system and the nutrients are removed at the same time as harvest.

HOW TO CONTROL IT:

If you are not using this as a scrubber it is rather easy to control as long as you have proper bio-filtration and there are no Nitrates in system.

It is also easily removed by hand and after the main tuffs are removed you can scrub the surface of the rock with a toothbrush. It is also advised to siphon as much as possible out of the system. With proper husbandry, aggressive skimming, and being mind-full of what food is added to the system, run in's with algae can be avoided.

NATURAL HERBIVORE'S :

Diadema urchin,hermit crabs, and sea slugs (Aplysia and Hermaea) * sea slugs should be handled by advanced aquarist only *
 
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GELIDIOPSIS AKA WIRE ALGAE:
IMAG0013_zps8a916651.jpg


IDENTIFICATION:
This algae grown on the rock work in long red or brown wiry strands.

WHAT FEED IT:
This algae like nitrates.

HOW TO CONTROL IT:
This algae is very easy to control and grows slower then most and is readily removed by pulling the tuffs out by hand. Along with manual removal aggressive skimming,and good husbandry this is a easily conquerable algae.

WHY ITS BAD:
This algae can suffocate other corals.

NATURAL HERBIVORES:
Surgeonfish, Diadema urchin.
 
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DIATOMS:
diatoms_03_zpsfbc5643d.jpg


Diatoms are just a natural things that happens in a new aquarium and will normally will subside with in a few weeks to a couple months.


ID: This Algae normally forms on the sand, glass and rock work of a new tank. It has a variety of colors from a dark reddish color to tan, brown and green. On a lot of occasions there will be oxygen bubble's trapped in the algae from photosynthesis.

HOW TO CONTROL IT:
Medium to strong flow across the sand bed and rock, and watch the amounts of Silicate being added to the system ( top off water and water change purity is the main cause for silicate being introduced to the system )

NATURAL HERBIVORES:
Astrea snail, Turbo snail, Tangs, Trochus snail, Almost all blennies.
 
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Algae eater's


Salarias_ceramensis_wwm.jpg

Blennies


f1239d42_DSCF1489.jpeg

Trochus snail


ebc%206-23-12.jpg

Blue knuckle hermit crab


Scarlet%20Hermit%20Crab%20-%20Paguristes%20cadenati.jpg

Red knuckle hermit crab


margarita%202.jpg

Margarita snail


24419.jpg

Blue tuxedo urchin


zebra_snail-01.jpg

Turbo snails


And these Algae eater's are just the tip of the iceberg. Like all additions to any aquarium proper planning and research is advised.
 
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Great writeup Steven! Nice work and thank you very much!
 
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Deltec

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