Answer my burning questions on the cause of the ugly stages

BRS

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What causes the ugly stage?

I know diatoms consume silicates. But where did the silicates come from? And why do the diatoms eventually stop producing? It must mean that the source of silicates was temporary?

If I theoretically were to dose silicate remover would there not be any diatoms?

What causes algae in the newly cycled tank? I know Algae needs nitrates, phosphates, or ammonia to produce. If someone were to get these levels low, would they skip the ugly stage?

I want to know what nutrients the algae wants. I also want to know if we remove those nutrients, will we skip an ugly stage?

I just cycled my tank. Ammonia and nitrites 0. Nitrates 100ppm with salifert. No phosphate test yet.

I don’t have algae at all right now. I just opened the lights for 4-5 hours a day last week.
 
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JCM

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Ugly stages occur when you start with all dry rock. As soon as those uglies get a hold, they explode because there is no competition.

You can try to remove silicates to avoid diatoms but something else will find it's way in and take over.

Start with actual live rock if you want to minimize ugly stages.
 

ReefMan692

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Ugly stages occur when you start with all dry rock. As soon as those uglies get a hold, they explode because there is no competition.

You can try to remove silicates to avoid diatoms but something else will find it's way in and take over.

Start with actual live rock if you want to minimize ugly stages.
Define live rock please and explain how it supports your supposition.

Dry rock = dead rock
Cultured Dry Rock = Dead rock that has been seeded with bacteria

"Live Rock"= I took this thang from the ocean, son!

Alternative "Live Rock" = I took this thing from my other 2 year old tank.

So which rock we talkin bout?
 
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I used bleached live rock with Dr. Tim’s one and only added to tank.

So if I’m understanding this correctly: Algae is wanting territory (but requires nitrates, phosphates, or ammonia), in addition to lights to outcompete the other bacteria. We can encourage the anaerobic bacteria inside the rocks to consume the nitrates if we keep the lights at a minimum and not let the nutrients go too high. Because if not the algae will become dominant and outcompete the denitrifying bacteria.

If the algae starts to consume too much nutrients, then the anaerobic bacteria will reduce their population size which means the tank will rely on algae for nutrient removal.

Dosing heterotrophic bacteria can prevent algae from getting a foothold, and dosing carbon can oxidize nitrates and/or phosphates.
 

JCM

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Define live rock please and explain how it supports your supposition.

Dry rock = dead rock
Cultured Dry Rock = Dead rock that has been seeded with bacteria

"Live Rock"= I took this thang from the ocean, son!

Alternative "Live Rock" = I took this thing from my other 2 year old tank.

So which rock we talkin bout?

Either straight from the ocean or at least established in a tank for years prior.

Bacteria is great for processing ammonia but it's not going to compete with algae much. The established live rock will have algae eating critters on it plus alot of other things competing for the nutrients the nuisance algae Is fueled by. Having this diversity helps stop any one thing from dominating.
 

Timfish

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What causes the ugly stage?

I know diatoms consume silicates. But where did the silicates come from? And why do the diatoms eventually stop producing? It must mean that the source of silicates was temporary?

If I theoretically were to dose silicate remover would there not be any diatoms?

What causes algae in the newly cycled tank? I know Algae needs nitrates, phosphates, or ammonia to produce. If someone were to get these levels low, would they skip the ugly stage?

I want to know what nutrients the algae wants. I also want to know if we remove those nutrients, will we skip an ugly stage?

I just cycled my tank. Ammonia and nitrites 0. Nitrates 100ppm with salifert. No phosphate test yet.

I don’t have algae at all right now. I just opened the lights for 4-5 hours a day last week.

I would encourage you to get Forest Rohwer's "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas" It is an excellent introduction to the role of the various types of Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) and how it influences autotrophic (oxyegn enriching) and heterotrophic (oxygen consuming) microbial processes and their roles in coral disease or coral maintaining coral health. Two things that are very clear is microbes trump nutrients and algae and corals are competing for the same nutrients and have antagonistic roles.

There are very complex relationships in reef ecosystems and it goes way beyond just silicates, or nitrates or phosphates. For example, if you peruse threads on the forums looking for algae problems your going to find many where nitrates or phosphates have been reduced to undetectable levels but algae is still rampant and out of control. In reef ecosystems we really need to be thinking in terms of total carbon (particulate, dissolved organic and dissolved inorganic), total nitrogen (particulate, dissolved organic {amino acids and urea} and dissolved inorganic {ammonia/ammonium, nitrite and nitrate}), and total phosphorus (particulate, dissolved organic and dissolved inorganic {PO4}).

Sponges play very important and very different roles depending on the species. The cryptic sponges which are found in any mature system are essential for processing the labile hydrophilic and hydrophobic forms of DOC removing it much faster than the bacterioplankton in a reef system.

While there's not much available on fungi considering how critical fungi are to terrestial ecosystems it shouldn't be surprising if future research finds them critical also.

You might find these videos informative:

Forest Rohwer "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas"

Changing Seas - Mysterious Microbes

Nitrogen cycling in hte coral holobiont

Richard Ross What's up with phosphate"


As far as the types of "live rock" AquaBiomics article
 

FBAA

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In my experience it's the bacterial growth rate. Oxygen consuming bacteria reproduce every 4-12 days. However the anaerobic bacteria that breaks down Phosphate, nitrate etc have a gestation period of 18-30 days. This lag period during the cycling of a new tank is where the "Uglies" come out.

That's all assuming the bacteria is there in the first place.
 
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@Timfish

In my previous 300 gallon tank setup
I personally removed a lot of rocks, and then added new dry rocks to my previous established tank and I got a massive algae bloom. Massive. With undetectable phosphates and nitrates. My hypothesis is that by the time I thought about testing the tank, the nutrients were already sucked up in the algae. The anaerobic bacteria lessened their population because the algae outcompeted them. Plus my lights were on for 10+ hours a day at high intensity.
 
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Timfish

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@Timfish

In my previous 300 gallon tank setup
I personally removed a lot of rocks, and then added new dry rocks to my previous established tank and I got a massive algae bloom. Massive. With undetectable phosphates and nitrates. My hypothesis is that by the time I thought about testing the tank, the nutrients were already sucked up in the algae. The anaerobic bacteria lessened their population because the algae outcompeted them. Plus my lights were on for 10+ hours a day at high intensity.

Remember we can only test for inorganic phosphorus. we can't test for organic forms like polyphosphate or phsopholipids and sponges, biofilms, endoliths (and likely fungi) are all messing with C, N and P. I too have seen different types of algae show up with disturbed rock and sand, power failures and equipment failures. One thing that has stood out over the decades I've been keeping reef systems is nuisance algae with no phosphates or nitrates and no anuisance algae with high nitrates and phosphates, clearly no direct corelation.
 
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