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

Discussion in 'Algae (including nuisance algae and bacteria)' started by Steven R, May 24, 2012.

  1. rockstarta78

    rockstarta78 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry for the newbie question. But what is perophyton? And how does it grow? Do you think I have green hair algae?
     
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  2. brandon429

    brandon429 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Naso tang noted from prior page. Someday someone will have this invader, that tidbit will be recalled.


    It would be fair to say without cut and pasting the periphyton he is referring to are the natural groups of plants and benthic animals associated with reef substrates. They are sources of nutrient binding and transfer to organisms that eat these growths...they are homes to pods and bacteria and organisms that choke out space for less competing algae to grow. It is possible to let periphyton uptake nutrients, then you harvest them out of the tank and they grow back cyclically. This is a valid form of nutrient controls for a reef tank, continual harvesting of plant matter.

    its also fair to state that procedures for tank algae control diverge from there on out, not everyone agrees purposefully growing periphyton on surfaces, even isolated ones like refuge areas, is the way to go. Some clean and force out all growths until coralline and corals are the space takers not leaving room for common tank invaders (how many algae pics do we see of algae sprouting off the flesh of a brain coral, not the skeleton, the flesh? Nope, that space excludes algae by adapted mechanisms)

    Some believe it is ideal to grow naturally-selected plant growths, periphyton, within the tank in controlled areas so that display areas can be coaxed free of algae. The reason the hobby doesn't just use one method to control invasions in tanks is because neither method can cure all problem tanks. the algae turf scrubber method uses plants/periphyton for harvest and plant exports are a core backbone of reef keeping

    The times they didn't work is what brought about peroxide dosing, forced control over substrates and direct action on unwanted algae areas...or tech M dosing, the chem approach. As soon as one way is known to be the best, the other method will cease being used and documented.
     
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  3. choff

    choff Well-Known Member

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    Lol, sorry. Brandon, In my over tired state last night, I thought you were describing an algae that you had and didn't know what it was. Rereading now, I'm not quite sure how I misread it, but I did.
     
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  4. brandon429

    brandon429 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    ~np!
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
  5. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Well-Known Member Toys For Kids 2016

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    What is Periphyton?

    Periphyton is what turns your rocks different colors. You know... the white rocks you started with in SW, or the grey rocks (or brown wood) you started with in FW. After several months or years, the rocks become a variety of different colors and textures. Why? Because the periphyton that has grown on it is a mix of different living things, of different colors, and thicknesses. And the important part is: It is LIVING.

    That's right: The colored stuff that has coated your rocks is all living organisms. Sponges, microbes, algae, cyano, biofilms, and of course coralline. After all, "peri" means "around the outside", and "phyto" means "plant". Ever slipped in a slippery puddle? That's probably periphyton that made it slippery. It's a very thin coating on the rocks, sometimes paper thin.

    There is a lot of photosynthetic organisms in periphyton, and this of course means that they need light; but they need nutrients too (ammonia, nitrate, phosphate). And as you might figure, they will be on the lighted portions of the rocks. And they will grow to intercept food particles in the water, based on the water flow. Just think about how sponges orient their holes for water flow; the micro sponges in periphyton do it too but on a tiny scale.

    What about under the rocks, in the dark areas? Well these periphyton don't get light, so they are primarily filter feeders. So they REALLY grow and position themselves to be able to intercept food particles. And they don't really need to fight off algae, because algae does not grow in the dark, so they have no need for anti-algae tactics like plants in illuminated areas have.

    Reef studies have shown that at certain depths, more of the filtering of the water comes from periphyton and benthic algae than comes from the phytoplankton which filters the deeper water. And in streams, almost all the filtering is done by periphyton. So, what you have on rocks that are "mature" or "established" is a well-developed layer of periphyton; and all the things that comes from it.

    This is why mandarin fish can eat directly off the rocks of an "established" tank (tons of pods grow in the periphyton), but not on the rocks of a new tank. Or why some animals can lay their eggs on established rocks, but not new ones. Or why established tanks seem to "yo-yo" less than new ones. Even tangs can eat periphyton directly when it's thick enough. Yes periphyton can also develop on the sand, but since the sand is moved around so much, the periphyton does not get visible like it does on rocks. So thick periphyton on established rocks is your friend. And totally natural too. Keep in mind though I'm not referring to nuisance algae on rocks; I'm only referring to the very-thin layer of coloring that coats the rocks.

    But what happens when you "scrape the stuff off your rocks"? Well you remove some of the periphyton, which means you remove some of your natural filter and food producer. What if you take the rocks out and scrub them? Well now you not only remove more of your natural filter and food producer, but the air is going to kill even more of the microscopic sponges in it. And what if you bleach the rocks? Well, goodbye all filtering and food producing for another year. It's an instant reduction of the natural filtering that the periphyton was providing.

    However, what if you just re-arrange the rocks? Well, some of the periphyton that was in the light, now will be in the dark; so this part will die. And some of the periphyton that was in the dark will now be in the light, so it will not be able to out-compete photosynthetic growth and thus will be covered and die too. And even if the light stays the same, the direction and amount of water flow (and food particles) will change; sponges that were oriented to get food particles from one direction will now starve. So since the light and food supply is cut off, the filtering that the periphyton was providing stops almost immediately, due only to the re-arranging of the rocks.

    Starvation takes a little longer. The periphyton organisms won't die immediately, since they have some energy saved up; but instead, they will wither away over several weeks. So on top of the instant reduction in filtering that you get by just moving the rocks, you get a somewhat stretched-out period of nutrients going back into the water. And after all this, it takes another long period of time for the periphyton to build up to the levels it was at before: 1 to 2 years. Even changing the direction of a powerhead will affect the food particle supply in the area it used to be pointed at.

    So a good idea is to try to keep everything the same. Pick your lighting, flow, layout, and try to never move or change anything. It's a different way of thinking, but you should have a stronger natural filter and food producer because of it.
     
  6. cracker

    cracker Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Could I get some insight on this lite brown algae or is it a bacteria . It gets pretty thick. I think it's " slime algae"but that is a pretty general term. I find difficult to find any concrete info . It pretty much covers everything but only light on the sand bed. I blast off the rock causing a cloud of crud in the water column. Blasting the rock , siphoning repeat. scrub the rock it always comes back. I can pretty much give You any info on the tank You want and what steps I have been taking to get rid of this junk. let's see if I can get a pic for You, Thanks for any OP'S !
    see if I can get a pic for You. HPIM8264.JPG
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
  7. ryecoon

    ryecoon Well-Known Member

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    How new is the Tank? Do you use RO/Di water? Lighting schedule? Filtration method?
     
  8. cracker

    cracker Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    ryecoon, Thanks for the reply. The tank is 6 years old. The tank is a 220 70 gl sump. total gls sump and all around 250 gls. I have about 300 lbs of old rock of many types. I have all new cartridges in my rodi. reading 0's on the tds meter, never let it get higher than .00 3 before changing. I run led's, lights on 7.5 hrs a day. I had a bad ha and bubble issue. started hammering the water changes cut back on light time etc anyway, The ha and bubble are about gone but this brown stuff took it's place. as of the 4th, zero nitrates and phosphates . This is what I can't figure. Today I did a major scrubbing and siphon . I will see how long it takes to return.
     
  9. ryecoon

    ryecoon Well-Known Member

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    okay because i had this same issue before. You will have Zero Nitrates and phosphates because its being consumed by the Algae. Do you feed your bacteria? Ie: Vodka or Vinegar dosing? As soon as i started Carbon dosing to nourish my bacteria. The Algae all disappeared (After a few more scrubbing and waterchanges of course)
     
  10. cracker

    cracker Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks I will keep up on my cleaning.
     
  11. JP79

    JP79 Well-Known Member

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    Great read. Simple lesson. Good skimming, do your water changes, good flow and use good food. Since I switched to Rods Food not has only the fish gone crazy over it. But the tank seems a lot cleaner and a lot less issues. A god bio filter is always a good idea.
     
  12. TetoCCB

    TetoCCB Well-Known Member

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    Good information...
     
  13. cracker

    cracker Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks JP for the advice. I have used Rod's reef foods . It takes several soakings in ro to remove the Po4 in it. after that it is good fish food!
    ryecoon, I have been running bio pellets for about 8 months now. I actually took a cup out !
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2016
  14. Atif

    Atif Well-Known Member

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    Very useful information ... thanks a lot for this article....
     
  15. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Well-Known Member Toys For Kids 2016

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    You can save yourself the washing. All the phosphorus is in the food itself.
     
  16. cracker

    cracker Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Good point Santa Monica ! I was looking at all the tiny bits and red stained water I use to soak. I use a very fine strainer to remove all this very tiny stuff.
     
  17. rockstarta78

    rockstarta78 Well-Known Member

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    Can anyone please tell me what type of algae is this? It's brown and stringy. I don't know if it's Dino since I don't see any bubble on the tip of the hair.

    The tank finished cycling in January of this year. So this a relatively new tank.

    Nitrate at 8 and I don't have a Phosphate Checker. Currently there are no fishes in the tank. Only CUC. So I'm little confused where this came from. My snails and crab are not touching this at all. So I am lost. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


    [​IMG]
     
  18. brandon429

    brandon429 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    For that specific issue above nothing is done to the water. See how the substrate in the background is clean, and the walls of the tank


    If it was water nutrient issues, everywhere water contacts would have issues and they would be green issues

    Yours is the growth of a new reef where highly reflective surfaces lacking light-absorbing darker coralline and coral tissue make for easy first colonization of cyano and diatoms of varying colors. The specific action is to lift out each rocks and rinse it off in the sink with a brush and some clean saltwater, until it's hand guided out. Letting it take on additional mass from here on out, including any algae you'll ever encounter in a reef tank, is completely optional. Those communities you see above are out competed on the mature reef. Feel free to grow hairy algae on the rocks to replace the brown cyanotom mix (periphyton) or if you want a reef of coralline and coral, not so much wavy plants dominating all rock surfaces- but purple coralline spiked with sps corals etc then you hand remove any non coral, non coralline growth that forms on those rocks until they are matured.
     
  19. rockstarta78

    rockstarta78 Well-Known Member

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    Can I just leave them alone? And will they eventually go away if I just do regular water change and nothing else with the algae m
     
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  20. brandon429

    brandon429 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Absolutely that's an option. The only reason not to leave it in is if you don't like the look or to curb it from taking on much mass if it starts to misbehave

    Have never seen anyone lose a tank to those early growths...more just a phase but we have final say on how long the phase lasts by how often we want to guide the substrate free of literally anything we don't want. For some it may go away left unchecked, but even if not this isn't much more than a two hour cleanup if a catch up is ever needed.
     
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