Chemical Algae inhibitors: Are they a cure, or just a band-aid to cover an underlying issue?

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Chemical Algae inhibitors: Are they a cure, or just a band-aid to cover an underlying issue?

  • Cure

    Votes: 8 2.1%
  • Band-aid

    Votes: 178 47.1%
  • Combination of both

    Votes: 140 37.0%
  • Not Sure

    Votes: 44 11.6%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 8 2.1%

  • Total voters
    378

only_fins_fans

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I used chemi clean and so far it's worked to fix a cyano issue. Now I'm dealing with diatom algae - open to any tips for eliminating that. I've been doing frequent water changes and have bolstered my CUC. Tank is about 10 weeks old (started with recycled live rock).
 

TreyC2010

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I see it as both. Some chemicals can help you clean it up and get back on track. We also use GFO and other things, so there’s not a big difference (I’m not a scientist) in using one over the other. You quit dosing, algae comes back. You quit GFO, algae comes back. It’s just up to the person to be consistent with maintenance and/or filtration as consistent as possible.
 

mindme

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I voted “other” because I’m not convinced that algae is completely detrimental. Yes, it’s ugly. Yes, it can choke out corals if it gets out of control. Good flow, limited nutrients and a shorter lighting schedule helps but the ocean is brimming with algae and it’s a part of a natural ecosystem. I scrape it off rocks, clean the glass daily and try to keep my parameters in check but I’ve given up on having an algae-free tank.

I have a 29g tank with RBTA's in it. I have no sump or anything, other than HOB skimmer. In that tank, I let the algae grow and then every few months I'll clean most of it out, and let it grow out again. Since the tank is just the anemones and some xenias on the back wall, I don't have to worry about the algae killing off corals. I use it as nutrient export basically, like a refugium.

The only downside is my clownfish bite me the entire time I'm brushing the stuff off the rocks.
 

WallyB

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@WallyB you finally got a pictured featured on R2R :) take that POTM competition! :)
LOL @tenurepro . I never noticed that photo of my Tank and it's Cyano problems.

Unfortunately, that picture was taken last year or so, and I still have Cyano.

As we discussed, and proved, it was me adding Aminos and feeding the Cyano/Algae and the a little for the SPS.

The Cyano war isn't over, but it's night and day, as soon as I stopped the magic Potion.

As far as @revhtree and his photo choice for Potion Problems....

This Photo of my Old 65 is more appropriate for Algae Issues due to .....Potions....More than one.

2015-10-19_Tropical Rain Forest.jpg



One thing worked. NO chemicals. ( Remove rocks. and....Just a good old fashioned Bristle Brush)

2016-03-19_BasementNewFrag-AlgaeClean.jpg

Exactly the same rocks after a good scrub. Never came back .....After 2nd Scrub.
 
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Treefer32

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LOL @tenurepro . I never noticed that photo of my Tank and it's Cyano problems.

Unfortunately, that picture was taken last year or so, and I still have Cyano.

As we discussed, and proved, it was me adding Aminos and feeding the Cyano/Algae and the a little for the SPS.

The Cyano war isn't over, but it's night and day, as soon as I stopped the magic Potion.

As far as @revhtree and his photo choice for Potion Problems....

This Photo of my Old 65 is more appropriate for Algae Issues due to .....Potions....More than one.

2015-10-19_Tropical Rain Forest.jpg



One thing worked. NO chemicals. ( Remove rocks. and....Just a good old fashioned Bristle Brush)

2016-03-19_BasementNewFrag-AlgaeClean.jpg

Exactly the same rocks after a good scrub. Never came back .....After 2nd Scrub.
I've had your above picture and scrubbed my rocks multiple times and the algae kept coming back... I've learned so much since then about algae that I could probably write a book on it. . . . I spent a year battling what you had above... Knowing what I know now I wasted so much time on potions that never had a chance of working. . . . I'm so much more empowered with knowledge... Than I've ever been.
 

Treefer32

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I purchased a complete 125 gallon reef (completely neglected I discovered) from a person that had had it setup 8 years. mistakes:
1. I reused his sand bed after dumping it out of the tank and putting it back in. . .Oops!
2. I reused his rocks. Oops!
3. I kept everything and set it all back up thinking it would fix itself.. Nope!

I had so much hair algae, I would take each rock out and scrub the rock in a 5 gallon bucket of water change water. And when I was done scrubbing I would have a softball sized ball of hair algae and the water in the bucket looked and smelled like skimmate. . .

I tried so much stuff over a year period, lights out, scrubbing every week, water changes, GFO, you name it. I tried everything, at the end of the full calendar year I finally had it under control and looking pretty good. Corals were recovering and rocks were staying mostly clean. Then, a week later the house burned down and I lost everything in the tank... The house did not burn because of the tank.. It was actually the less than 1 year old fridge that the firefighters believe started it. All that was left of the fridge was the compressor. The fridge had melted completely...

That said, taking those lessons to today. I have a 350 gallon aquarium in a different new home that's on 4 years old with no algae issues. Some Cyano, but that's all. Knowledge is power. If I would have had a Hanna ULR Phosphate checker and now the HIgh range Nitrate checker, I would have had an idea of what was going on in the 125 much sooner. MUCH MUCH sooner.

Now, through vodka dosing, an algae turf scrubber from Turbo Aquatics, and a large skimmer, I'm able to stay on top of phosphates and nitrates. Not a strand of hair algae exists in the display!

I'm currently going without any water changes on top of it all and knocking on real wood, there's still no signs of hair algae in the display! :)

The recipe is simple, get phosphates and nitrates down, keep them stable at a low value and the reef will thrive. My phosphates are at .08 and nitrates at 23. Both a little higher than I would like, but, my corals are growing / thriving, and my phosphates and nitrates are staying the same week over week. Now I can make mild adjustments to things like increasing my vodka dosing another ml per day for a week and retest and see the impact through test kits, vs. just guessing.

My most powerful secret and tool is quite simply relatively accurate knowledge. The phosphate and nitrate testers are game changes compared to what I had 10+ years ago, back then the advice was "watch for visible changes." To me, visible changes in the reef are too late... Hearing the snow come crashing down on you to signify the first sign of an avalanche... Is too late.... Monitoring the progression of the tank week over week and/or month over month, is key to knowing what the tank is doing. Watching for visible signs along the way, sure but that's a backup to testing in my opinion, not the primary test.

No secret chemicals, just good old fashion knowledge is power. I can react to high phosphates. I can come up with a plan. Last Spring, my phosphates were identified at .56 ppm by an ICP test. I was losing corals all over the place... I slowly over a period of months did massive water changes, increased my scrubber lighting period, and added phosphate-e daily to get them under control. Now, 8 months later, phosphates remain consistent at .08.

It's hard work, but easier to manage than adding reeflux watching algae melt, then having it come back 4 -5 months later.
 

Sunny in Miami

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I voted a combo of both because 1 year ago when my tank was new I had an ongoing problem with green hair algae on the sand and outlet tubes of my tank filter that wouldn't go away. So I read about Seachem Phosguard and tried it and within a few days that green long haired algae turned dark brown and withered away. Was real happy about that. Then when all was gone It grew red cyano on my bed and have been battling this for some time as I do not want to use cyano killers on the market. Yesterday I started to pick up the tight mats that form on the sand with a fish net . We'll see how that goes but the sand under the mats is nice and white this a.m..
 

jda

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People need to separate cyano from the rest. This is matting bacteria and from most accounts, chemiclean, or the like, has been safe although temporary. This is also easy to siphon or remove manually.

Most kinds of algaecide have unintended consequences down the road for far too many users to consider them safe. Sure, you have some "best thing ever" from some people who have not waited long enough for the consequences or do not keep a breath of depth of other inverts to see poor results, but I would never let any in my tank.

To be clear, I keep my water parameters very near to natural seawater with P of about 1-3 PPB (sometimes 5 if I don't prune my chaeto enough) and N of about .1 and I can have algae overrun my tank if I don't keep the coralline growing (hair algae will not grow on top of real alive coralline) and I don't have some urchins, crabs and snails. All of this said, I hope that you all know that macro algae can get nitrogen from more than nitrate and there are other types of phosphates and phosphorus than you can test for. I also hope that most of you know that micro algae (dinos and zoox) are not the same as macro algae and they get building blocks in different ways and react to chemicals differently too. Lastly, I would not trust any manufacturer selling you an algae fix to be honest about what is in it - most contain algaecides even if the vendor does not tell you that.
 

Rick's Reviews

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Thank you to @LiveFreeAndReef for the QOTD idea!

1. Chemical Algae inhibitors: Are they a cure, or just a band-aid to cover an underlying issue?

2. What products have you used to successfully beat an algae issue?


image via @WallyB
2020-06-07_CyanoZones.jpg
I am currently going through an algae bloom, I played with my lights configuration to take photos for reef2reef community, to identify what was growing on my hermit crab shell, ... My mistake, (usual for my viparspectra lights I have set 70% blue 10% white light). The morning/ next day my whites was on 70% .. no blues :(

I think it has burnt my corals, as all colour has gone, and hard to see any polyps under blues :(
My water was green and greener in upcoming days and now I am still fighting this green algae, I can clean glass literally every hour and clouds of algae just float away, I have brought a 2nd skimmer, and literally changing filter floss everyday, it's so full of green, Im doing 10- 15 % water changes ever 2 days, .... I will make a post :)

Sorry gone off topic, I voted unsure as I still would not use chemicals even as a last resort. I think the marine/saltwater market is all about chemicals.! and to keep a healthy aquarium there are so many other options, like good old scrub/ maintenance and most importantly patience
 
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MnFish1

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1. Chemical Algae inhibitors: Are they a cure, or just a band-aid to cover an underlying issue?

It could be all 3. To me most algae relates to 'open areas' - much like if you took a 6x6 area out of your lawn - it would be full with weeds within a month - but the rest of the lawn would be fine. But - For Cyano - Chemiclean is definitely a help - but most issues could also be helped with higher flow (your picture is awesome).
2. What products have you used to successfully beat an algae issue?
Chemiclean. Patience. manual removal - and patience (oh wait I mentioned that twice) - as well as adding living coral to cover the area. Coral also uses many of the same substrates as algae.
 

CLFishies

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Well I said combination because I had a massive green hair algae problem in my tank. I was attacking vigorously with water changes syphoning into a filter sock, pulling the algae off rocks manually and I just could not get on top of it. I used Flux Rx and in 2 weeks it was completely gone.

But then I started to get Cyano (or dino's, I'm not sure yet) and I tried chemiclean and it mostly just killed my hammers. I am still fighting the cyano but won't resort to chemiclean again.

BTW what is CUC?
Clean up crew
 

Scorpius

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I voted cure. I use Vibrant in my tank. I had stopped as I didn't have any unwanted algae issues. Saw bubble algae a month ago. Started dosing Vibrant again. No more bubble algae. Stuff works.
 

fluked

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I voted combination. While chemicals are definitely a bandaid in the sense that they will just stop the symptoms and won't prevent algae reappearing, it can definitely be a cure in the sense that it can end an outbreak that is out of control allowing other methods to maintain it afterwards.

I've used vibrant which did nothing for my gha, but I used fluc and it cleared my issue that wouldn't go after months, allowed me to manually remove a crazy amount and get accurate readings on nutrients for the first time.
 

Gogol_frag

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I purchased a complete 125 gallon reef (completely neglected I discovered) from a person that had had it setup 8 years. mistakes:
1. I reused his sand bed after dumping it out of the tank and putting it back in. . .Oops!
2. I reused his rocks. Oops!
3. I kept everything and set it all back up thinking it would fix itself.. Nope!

I had so much hair algae, I would take each rock out and scrub the rock in a 5 gallon bucket of water change water. And when I was done scrubbing I would have a softball sized ball of hair algae and the water in the bucket looked and smelled like skimmate. . .

I tried so much stuff over a year period, lights out, scrubbing every week, water changes, GFO, you name it. I tried everything, at the end of the full calendar year I finally had it under control and looking pretty good. Corals were recovering and rocks were staying mostly clean. Then, a week later the house burned down and I lost everything in the tank... The house did not burn because of the tank.. It was actually the less than 1 year old fridge that the firefighters believe started it. All that was left of the fridge was the compressor. The fridge had melted completely...

That said, taking those lessons to today. I have a 350 gallon aquarium in a different new home that's on 4 years old with no algae issues. Some Cyano, but that's all. Knowledge is power. If I would have had a Hanna ULR Phosphate checker and now the HIgh range Nitrate checker, I would have had an idea of what was going on in the 125 much sooner. MUCH MUCH sooner.

Now, through vodka dosing, an algae turf scrubber from Turbo Aquatics, and a large skimmer, I'm able to stay on top of phosphates and nitrates. Not a strand of hair algae exists in the display!

I'm currently going without any water changes on top of it all and knocking on real wood, there's still no signs of hair algae in the display! :)

The recipe is simple, get phosphates and nitrates down, keep them stable at a low value and the reef will thrive. My phosphates are at .08 and nitrates at 23. Both a little higher than I would like, but, my corals are growing / thriving, and my phosphates and nitrates are staying the same week over week. Now I can make mild adjustments to things like increasing my vodka dosing another ml per day for a week and retest and see the impact through test kits, vs. just guessing.

My most powerful secret and tool is quite simply relatively accurate knowledge. The phosphate and nitrate testers are game changes compared to what I had 10+ years ago, back then the advice was "watch for visible changes." To me, visible changes in the reef are too late... Hearing the snow come crashing down on you to signify the first sign of an avalanche... Is too late.... Monitoring the progression of the tank week over week and/or month over month, is key to knowing what the tank is doing. Watching for visible signs along the way, sure but that's a backup to testing in my opinion, not the primary test.

No secret chemicals, just good old fashion knowledge is power. I can react to high phosphates. I can come up with a plan. Last Spring, my phosphates were identified at .56 ppm by an ICP test. I was losing corals all over the place... I slowly over a period of months did massive water changes, increased my scrubber lighting period, and added phosphate-e daily to get them under control. Now, 8 months later, phosphates remain consistent at .08.

It's hard work, but easier to manage than adding reeflux watching algae melt, then having it come back 4 -5 months later.
Interesting perspective treefer32. I agree that "If Knowledge is Power, then Gods are those who posseses it". However good quality reefing-knowledge seems to be quite Sporadic and/or kludgy. Quite frankly, it's surprising that that is so, in spite of such a well-meaning, active and experienced community.

Allow me to explain myself a bit - for most other hobbies, from freshwater aquarium, to racing cars, to show-dogs ... your success is somewhat tied to your investment in time, effort and money. However it aint so in reefing - not by a long-shot.

Until date, I am yet to discover a single set of guidelines, tome, video set, articles etc that say that follow steps a, b, c, d , .... y, z and your reef will be A-OK. There are many such "guidelines" that promise you success ... but following those guidelines usally gets you whacked side-ways. Otherwise, we wouldn't be discussing algae-battles like every few weeks in R2R (this topic included)

Some of the obvious advise should have been:
  1. Avoid Dry Rocks like the plague that they are!!
  2. Feed live food to your tank and nothing else
  3. Install a UV sterilizer just as soon as you install your skimmer (and rely on both with equal importance)
  4. Make sure you have about 40x-50x flow and adequate light - throughout.
  5. Make sure that basic params like salinity, temp, CA, Alk, Mg are in check and are stable.
  6. Prefer using a refugium, Turf-Algae-Scrubber, MacroAlgae reactor, Biopellet Reactor etc. above chemical filtration - GFO, Activated Carbon etc.
I am not saying that good advice/knowledge isn't there. However they get buried under piles of internet-junk ... and by the time it takes to unearth and compile them, many folks have already a bad taste in their mouth. It truly shouldn't be so in the 21st Century.
 

WallyB

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I am currently going through an algae bloom, I played with my lights configuration to take photos for reef2reef community, to identify what was growing on my hermit crab shell, ... My mistake, (usual for my viparspectra lights I have set 70% blue 10% white light). The morning/ next day my whites was on 70% .. no blues :(
Ouch!!! A 70% Switch from Blue LEDS to Whites LEDS is a coral Fryer, if not caught in time.
Sorry to hear.
 

McReeferNista

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not a fan of chemicals , I am currently fighting cyano and will use chemical additives as my last resort .
Not a fan of chemicals either. I have ongoing cyano, dino, turf, hairy, algae. Some at the same time. Been a year, still at it. Chemiclean helped to get the cyano under control as it was bad #$% and my bac could meet up with its BAC. I have jumped on the bacteria wagon over a year ago, it's difficult, and all tank are not the same. I sit on the side lines here, read what reefers are offering for help and so forth. I wont give up. I love the hobby even though I do pay attention to it more if it goes sideways. like now. Here are a few pics during the end (never the end really) when i succumbed to chemiclean. Then water changes. I have just done another W/C and will take photos again. I thing the cyano wants to keep coming, but I do small changes as this is hard on all the ocean life I do still have in my tanks. I have three tanks. 47 g , 20 g and 10 g the quarantine tank., Good luck. You happened to strike me for some reason.
 

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BRS

What do you use?

  • Gfo

    Votes: 23 6.0%
  • Carbon

    Votes: 138 36.2%
  • Carbon & GFO

    Votes: 123 32.3%
  • Water changes

    Votes: 265 69.6%
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