Acroporas/Sps: Walking a thin line

LARedstickreefer

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
342
Reaction score
352
We all know by now that sps need some building blocks in order to grow. These building blocks, nitrates and phosphate, also are needed by nuisance algae. If you drive these low enough, then you’ll stunt algae growth. That seems simple enough, but how do you avoid stunting sps growth?

I keep my nitrates and phosphate relatively low at 1-2ppm nitrates and 0.03-0.06ppm phosphate. That isn’t low enough to stunt algae, in MY tank anyways.

How do corals respond to nutrient levels? Is there a point where anything over isn’t even seen by the coral? Once you go over NSW levels, is the rest just ignored by corals?

I tend to grow algae that nothing will eat. I wind up nuking rocks with h202. This works for awhile but it comes back.

I can easily drop nutrients via skimmer, pwc, and cutting back feeding. I just don’t know where this happy medium lays. My next endeavor will be to walk nutrients down to NSW levels and see if I can impact the algae problems. I just don’t want to affect my corals as they seem happy.
 

TitanCi

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Messages
1,306
Reaction score
1,196
You’re probably correct, a surplus is a surplus, so anymore isn’t doing anything.

It’s a fine balance, and in my tank I have some turf algae popping up, dusting of the panes, but my stuff is thriving so I place that higher than the need to kill the algae. Plus it gives something for my tangs to do.

My levels run 0.5-1.0 ppm NO3 and 0.03-0.10 PO4
 

BestMomEver

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
May 8, 2018
Messages
2,958
Reaction score
5,583
Location
Lower Alabama
In the ocean, algae (both micro and macro) is EVERYWHERE. We don’t like it because we enjoy a clean and crisp look in our tanks. Certainly, there’s no point in buying pretty corals if they are obscured by green stuff. That’s why refugiums are so great. Algae is gonna grow but with a refugium it grows outside your DT.

I don’t have a refugium chamber in my sump but found if I put a grow light over the one area of the sump, algae will grow on the walls. I just scrape it off when it gets too dense. It’s a makeshift refugium but it works just the same.

If you need to control algae another way, use something like NO3-PO4 (NoPox) from Red Sea.
 

DarkSky

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 23, 2017
Messages
701
Reaction score
777
Location
Minneapolis, MN
We all know by now that sps need some building blocks in order to grow. These building blocks, nitrates and phosphate, also are needed by nuisance algae. If you drive these low enough, then you’ll stunt algae growth. That seems simple enough, but how do you avoid stunting sps growth?

I keep my nitrates and phosphate relatively low at 1-2ppm nitrates and 0.03-0.06ppm phosphate. That isn’t low enough to stunt algae, in MY tank anyways.

How do corals respond to nutrient levels? Is there a point where anything over isn’t even seen by the coral? Once you go over NSW levels, is the rest just ignored by corals?

I tend to grow algae that nothing will eat. I wind up nuking rocks with h202. This works for awhile but it comes back.

I can easily drop nutrients via skimmer, pwc, and cutting back feeding. I just don’t know where this happy medium lays. My next endeavor will be to walk nutrients down to NSW levels and see if I can impact the algae problems. I just don’t want to affect my corals as they seem happy.
I think this is your answer. I struggled for a long time too until I started growing something that would manage nutrients for me until coral biomass was large enough to handle most of the load. Macroalgae in a refugium works wonders.
 
Get Fish & Corals directly for the suppliers

hart24601

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 18, 2014
Messages
4,573
Reaction score
3,670
Location
Iowa
I have always found that once nutrients are in my desired range (0.05 PO4 or less and 5ppm nitrate) it’s more about having grazers than preventing the growth of algae, that is you don’t have any visible algae but you know it grows – just is consumed. Tux urchins and the such IMO are the key for my systems. I don’t believe in starving it out within reason.
 
OP
L

LARedstickreefer

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
342
Reaction score
352
I have always found that once nutrients are in my desired range (0.05 PO4 or less and 5ppm nitrate) it’s more about having grazers than preventing the growth of algae, that is you don’t have any visible algae but you know it grows – just is consumed. Tux urchins and the such IMO are the key for my systems. I don’t believe in starving it out within reason.
I’ve ordered an assortment of snails and hermits to see if they’ll touch the stuff. So far, this weird growth seems to be inedible.

If the new crew doesn’t go after it, I’ll begin dropping my nutrients to NSW levels and reducing my white and red leds.

After that, I’ll probably put some Chaeto and a grow light in my sump.
 

ReefGeezer

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 9, 2009
Messages
140
Reaction score
129
Location
Wichita, KS
The SPS in my system seem to do best when there is a little algae here & there. While the Tangs, a big Spiny Sea Urchin, some snails, and a few hermits keep the algae at bay, it can still be seen. I have no idea what N&P levels are present from day to day. When I test it's mostly 0 nitrate and a little phosphate reading that is within the margin of error on the Hanna ULR.

While I do check it every once in a while, I've gotten away from managing the system based on numbers and just started watching the tank. I do water changes that average a little more than 10% per week, dose about 20 ml/day of vinegar, and use a skimmer 24/7. I add more GFO and reduce feedings if the algae starts to increase or the coral's growth slows. I reduce GFO and feed heavily when the algae seems to be turning a lighter color or decreasing or the corals seem pale.
 
OP
L

LARedstickreefer

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
342
Reaction score
352
The SPS in my system seem to do best when there is a little algae here & there. While the Tangs, a big Spiny Sea Urchin, some snails, and a few hermits keep the algae at bay, it can still be seen. I have no idea what N&P levels are present from day to day. When I test it's mostly 0 nitrate and a little phosphate reading that is within the margin of error on the Hanna ULR.

While I do check it every once in a while, I've gotten away from managing the system based on numbers and just started watching the tank. I do water changes that average a little more than 10% per week, dose about 20 ml/day of vinegar, and use a skimmer 24/7. I add more GFO and reduce feedings if the algae starts to increase or the coral's growth slows. I reduce GFO and feed heavily when the algae seems to be turning a lighter color or decreasing or the corals seem pale.
I don’t mind some algae, here and there, but this stuff will march right up into the corals. It’s all around their bases. It’s pretty rude.
 
OP
L

LARedstickreefer

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
342
Reaction score
352
I wonder if timing comes into play at all? Can I take nutrients down to “zero” and then dose aminos at strategic times to keep the corals from starving? Aminos are basically nitrates and phosphate with some carbon, no?

Do corals need light to process nitrates and phosphate? How about algae? I wonder if I could dose aminos at night and benefit only the corals?

Btw-Had to double post as the edit button was gone for the previous post.
 

TitanCi

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Messages
1,306
Reaction score
1,196
I wonder if timing comes into play at all? Can I take nutrients down to “zero” and then dose aminos at strategic times to keep the corals from starving? Aminos are basically nitrates and phosphate with some carbon, no?

Do corals need light to process nitrates and phosphate? How about algae? I wonder if I could dose aminos at night and benefit only the corals?

Btw-Had to double post as the edit button was gone for the previous post.
You're overthinking it, dude. Your first post states "we know we need building blocks" and now you want to drive them down to zero, only to replenish potentially what the corals could use to keep them from being nutrient deprived. I think it's assumed corals aren't the first in line to grab the AA from the water.

I think this is where most reefers will post about how things all went downhill after trying to relieve their tank of some nutrient parameter.

Good luck if you go this route, but if your SPS is doing fine...if it ain't broken, don't fix it. Post a pic of the algae you're dealing with anyway, let's see it.
 

BestMomEver

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
May 8, 2018
Messages
2,958
Reaction score
5,583
Location
Lower Alabama
You're overthinking it, dude. Your first post states "we know we need building blocks" and now you want to drive them down to zero, only to replenish potentially what the corals could use to keep them from being nutrient deprived. I think it's assumed corals aren't the first in line to grab the AA from the water.

I think this is where most reefers will post about how things all went downhill after trying to relieve their tank of some nutrient parameter.

Good luck if you go this route, but if your SPS is doing fine...if it ain't broken, don't fix it. Post a pic of the algae you're dealing with anyway, let's see it.
I agree. I don’t remember the last time I tested nitrates and phosphate. I really don’t care what my nutrient levels are as long as the corals grow and my tangs/CUC/urchin can keep the rest from showing up. There are basically two ways to do it.... let it grow where you want it an not where you don’t (refugium/algae scrubber) or have critters that will control it.... or both. Algae is a part of water, be it fresh or salt, and is totally normal and natural. If you’re not certain, go to reefcleaners.org and look at their information section. It’s a great place to start. I would quit testing nitrate and phosphate for now. If your corals are growing, let them use up the nutrients. You can also feed a little less and do smaller, more frequent water changes. This will all work out ok. Hang in there!
 

[email protected]

The R2R Admin formerly known as mdbannister
View Badges
Joined
Nov 18, 2012
Messages
25,336
Reaction score
24,537
Location
Ontario, California
That's a frustrating problem for sure! I'd definitely like to see what kind of algae you're dealing with. I think the easiest solution is to find a critter that will eat whatever it is. That or perhaps introducing some other form of more common algae to out compete it.
 
OP
L

LARedstickreefer

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
342
Reaction score
352
Pictures don’t seem to come out clear enough. There’s another thread where someone has something pretty close to what I have. It’s yet to be identified, but it’s a lot like grey/white GHA if that makes any sense.

Nothing touches it in my tank. I’ve ordered some more cuc hoping something might go after it.

I totally get the whole concept of algae being normal part of reefing, but what about aggressive, unknown, types that no one eats? Regular methods don’t work here which is why I’m considering going low nutrient. Otherwise I’d just throw in some more snails.

A refugium might be the way to go. Well see if my new cuc is interested in the stuff.
 

Big E

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
1,060
Reaction score
1,158
Location
South Euclid, OH
I have always found that once nutrients are in my desired range (0.05 PO4 or less and 5ppm nitrate) it’s more about having grazers than preventing the growth of algae, that is you don’t have any visible algae but you know it grows – just is consumed. Tux urchins and the such IMO are the key for my systems. I don’t believe in starving it out within reason.
This the same for me on both my systems........the algae is there but my tang and cleanup crews keep it unseen.

The only way to go the low nutrient route to keep everything whistle clean is a ULNS system and this makes for very pastel corals on a razors edge.

For the algae that the grazers don't eat I've used Algaefix. I'm not a fan of using chemicals but I've used it twice and have recommended it to a few friends who have had safe and successful experiences with it as well.
The product has been around for a long enough time to build a good track record.

The main watch outs are to make sure you are aware nutrients will spike short term and also keep an eye on alk during the dosing as it will supress all algae including the zoo in acros. It's also good to start out sucking and scraping most of the algae before dosing and also suck up any dead dying algae over the dosing period.
 
Last edited:
Corals.com
OP
L

LARedstickreefer

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
342
Reaction score
352
This the same for me on both my systems........the algae is there but my tang and cleanup crews keep it unseen.

The only way to go the low nutrient route to keep everything whistle clean is a ULNS system and this makes for very pastel corals on a razors edge.

For the algae that the grazers don't eat I've used Algaefix. I'm not a fan of using chemicals but I've used it twice and have recommended it to a few friends who have had safe and successful experiences with it as well.
The product has been around for a long enough time to build a good track record.

The main watch outs are to make sure you are aware nutrients will spike short term and also keep an eye on alk during the dosing as it will supress all algae including the zoo in acros. It's also good to start out sucking and scraping most of the algae before dosing and also suck up any dead dying algae over the dosing period.
Any idea how Algeafix works? Don’t want to harm my Acroporas. If it’s just nutrient spike, I can pwc and skim that down.
 

Big E

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
1,060
Reaction score
1,158
Location
South Euclid, OH
It worked well for me........on a full acro dominant system. So my personal experience and my friends with similar setups had no issues.

There is a giant thread on RC on it with many users with good results. It's in the chemistry section if you want to do a search on it.
 

What corals grow the best in your tank?

  • SPS Corals

    Votes: 73 34.0%
  • LPS Corals

    Votes: 103 47.9%
  • Soft Corals

    Votes: 63 29.3%
  • Zoanthids

    Votes: 56 26.0%
  • Other (please post in the thread)

    Votes: 11 5.1%

Online statistics

Members online
1,253
Guests online
3,309
Total visitors
4,562
Top