Cyano vs diatoms vs dinos

jazzdude87

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Well, the Reefer 250 (54 gallon display, 11 gallon sump, 3 gallon refugium with sea lettuce that grows like a weed and requires harvesting every two weeks which seems to be keeping phosphate at 0 and hoping to be a safe haven for pods) tank is only 3 months old, and it never really had a cyano or diatom bloom during the cycle (which took 4 weeks). Over the past week or so, I've noticed the amount of brown substance on the sand increasing at a quick enough rate for me to post here on the forums before it takes over. I have noticed what I believe to be red slime algae and green slime algae (first thought it was bubble, but upon manual removal last night it was just air bubbles trapped in green slime) on the rock work, but my concern is really the brown substance in the sandbed. I vacuumed out as much as I could with a siphon into a filter sock in the sump last night but upon waking this morning it's already coming back pretty strong. Hoping it's just a diatom bloom from a new tank, but given the bubbles in the brown stuff, am worried a bit it could be dinos. I saw in at least one forum that dinos typically get worse over the day with light and then die off at night, so hoping that the fact that it came back overnight points towards diatoms or cyano instead... Parameters have been very stable for 2 months and are as follows:

Salinity 1.024-1.025
pH 8.3-8.4
Temp 77-78 F
Alk 7-8 (usually hangs right around 8, but went on vacation for a few days and wasn't able to check/dose as normal, so dropped to 7.1, slowly dosing back up to 8)
Calcium 445-455
Ammonia undetectable
Nitrite undetectable
Nitrate 1-2.5
Phosphate undetectable
Magnesium 1305

Lighting is two AI Hydra 26 lights with the AB+ Radion Mimic from BRS. Startup is 0800 with a 4h ramp up and a 5 hour peak intensity (last night turned it to 4 hour peak intensity) with a 4 hour ramp down. Flow is two MP10 powerheads at the rear of the tank, but seems to provide ample flow for the corals in the tank, including the couple of SPS as everything is growing. I do run ROX carbon in a reactor in the sump and a Nyos 120 skimmer (running fairly dry, but 24h/day). Refugium is lit 8h at night by Kessil H80. No GFO or other phosphate remover has ever been used in the system.

Feeding is usually a total of 1-1.5 cubes of total frozen (a mix of brine and/or mysis from Hikari) per day with a small amount of flake substituted for half a cube of the frozen every couple of days. Given nitrates have been consistently 1-2.5 and phosphates have never been detectable, it seems it's not too much nutrient load for my livestock which include a regular firefish, a Helfrichi firefish, a yellow watchman goby, royal gramma, two mocha vinci clowns, female lyretail anthia, juvenile coris wrasse, ruby red dragonnette (seeding 15,000 pods every three weeks or so for the past couple of months, and he is always on the hunt and is growing), Bangaii cardinal, cleaner shrimp, two pom pom crabs, and a cleanup crew consisting of a about ten total snails including 2 cerith, 3 neerite, 2 turbo, 2 astraea, and a turbo conch. Corals are a mix of softies and mostly LPS with two tiny acro frags, two birdsnest, and a couple of monti SPS corals towards the top where the PAR is higher. Also have a red BTA which seems super happy and decided it liked a spot towards the top of the tank as well. Recently added a small maxima clam as well, but everyone says they look great until they don't, so can't comment on its overall health. I have been dosing phytoplankton for the pods and now the clam (15mL of phyto from Algaebarn) almost everyday for the past month and a half or so. Thanks to all who made it to the end of this long post. I was trying to think of questions that would arise as people were diagnosing the issue. After doing a ton of reading on these topics, it seems like it could be as simple as a new tank going through expected changes or I might be providing too much in the way of nutrients to the tank. Sincere thanks to any who have ideas about what this is and how to treat the brown stuff, or to keep the green and pink slime from progressing!

FullTank.JPG Side Tank.JPG BrownSand2.jpg BrownSandBubbles.jpg BrownSnail.jpg Bubbles.JPG Green Slime.JPG Pink Slime.JPG
 
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MadTownFess

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I would purchase a microscope so you can correctly ID what you have. Without it, we are all just guessing. If your phosphate really is 0, its a good chance its dino, in which case its bad news. I bottomed out my phosphate myself on my 3 month old tank, I have been battling it ever since (now 7 months later). Even if its not dino, get your phosphate reading above 0. You do not want dino, trust me.
 

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Was the tank an upgrade from an established tank? if so, I am at the tail end of a near identical scenario due to a restart that rushed things back into the tank. Like Madtown said a microscope will be super helpful for an ID, mine ended up being ostreopsis.
 
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jazzdude87

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MadTown, Since starting the tank 3 months ago I've not been able to get my phosphate above 0. How do I get my phosphate up? I've increased fish for bioload systematically and increased feedings to match. Running skimmer very dry...

I had a small dusting of the brown stuff on the sand a few weeks ago that seemed to mostly go away, but has come back with a vengeance. Besides the one picture of the snail above, there doesn't appear to be brown stuff on anything other than the sand bed. no corals that I can see have any of it on them.

Happy to purchase a cheap microscope for ID. Is there a recommended magnification or specific model on amazon people normally purchase for this in this hobby?

Aquanautical, this is a brand new tank. Every time I would add new coral they would seem to thrive, so I kept adding coral.
 
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jazzdude87

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Alright, you guys have me nervous, now. I just found a brown string off of one of the birdsnest corals that is in a high flow area and after reading a bit about ostreopsis I recall that I recently lost a neerite snail for no apparent reason a couple of weeks ago. Could have just been random perishing of a neerite snail, or it could have been toxin. I turned off my skimmer yesterday evening after adding a set of new RedSea filter socks as it went crazy, so will leave that off for now until this thing is ID'd to try to get phosphate up a bit.

Aquanautical, you said you're at the tail end of the situation. Does this mean that you've been able to successfully treat?
 
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Aquanautical

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Aquanautical, you said you're at the tail end of the situation. Does this mean that you've been able to successfully treat?
Yeah its currently under control, but some of it is still growing in a 500 par spot as an epiphyte on some sea lettuce. I fudgin hate dinos man.

I did a several pronged attack, first tried to raise n and p by feeding more... nothing
then started small doses of NaNO3 and Na3PO4... no noticeable impact
then added UV and did a 3 day blackout.... big improvement but came back to about half the amount preceeding it
then (2 weeks later) 36 hr blackout with UV then got Dr. tims refresh and waste away was turning skimmer and UV off for 6-8 hrs a day after dosing using the guide from BRS... more improvement to where I am now

still feeding a little heavy and the dinos have now shifted to some GHA that is annoying but better than brown snot. The whole thing has been an ordeal to say the least. Added a buttload of pods and am now dosing live phyto (3-4ml/day) as well as 1 drop of AF pro bio S
 
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jazzdude87

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Well, I've decided to empirically treat for dinos after having studied a bunch of forums as I'm fairly confident that this is dinos. UV from amazon arrives tomorrow. Alk 7.4 and slowly rising as I continue to dose All-for-Reef to get it back to the 8 it had been at before my vacation.

I used a 1/2" hose to remove the entire top layer of the sand in the tank that had any hint of brown, and it is as white as the day I set up the tank. Really wish the UV had been here today to catch the floaters overnight. Hoping for a white sand bed in the morning.

I also ordered Brightwell phosphate and nitrate for ULN systems which will arrive by Sat, and I plan to start dosing slowly to raise both above 0 as I'm buying into this explanation that ULN systems are subject to lack of biodiversity and outcompetition from dinos. I'm keeping my skimmer off (today phosphate remains 0 of course and nitrate 1-2.5, but closer to the 1 side, so hoping it's my corals that are eating the limited nutrients and not dinos). I've been doing weekly 10% water changes, and am going to put that on hold to try to get the nutrients up as well. Will be checking daily and any other suggestions are appreciated. Microscope comes in tomorrow and hoping to make a positive ID with that before going too crazy with treatments.
 
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jazzdude87

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Microscope just set up and attempted to take pictures with the cell phone. If anyone can ID this based on these pictures that would be great, but I understand if the resolution is not good enough. First shot attached is a low magnification. I think 400x, but can't remember with certainty because I was rapidly changing lenses to find a good view. Second was 1000x magnification, with the arrow pointed at the brown organism in question. The smaller circular dots I believe to be artifact as they remained static in appearance regardless of which lens was used.

UV sterilizer and inorganic nitro and phos to be started this afternoon when the amazon package is delivered. Vacuuming out the sandbed helped tremendously, but the brown stuff is returning slowly. Is there a better place to post for microscope ID? Thanks again, guys.

Low Mag.jpg 1000x Mag.jpg
 
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jazzdude87

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A couple more pictures just taken from a different sample. First picture is again lower magnification, second picture ~400x magnification. I have no idea what I'm looking at, and am hopeful someone here does. Mcarroll has a dino thread with helpful information, but if someone here has the ability to ID from microscopic pictures it would be very much appreciated.

Low mag circles.jpg Brown organism.jpg
 

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Can you do a video of the snot? I can't identify anything that's for sure a dino. It almost looks like chrysophytes. in the first picture.
 
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jazzdude87

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Can you do a video of the snot? I can't identify anything that's for sure a dino. It almost looks like chrysophytes. in the first picture.
@saltyhog Thanks for the reply. I found a thread from a member who dealt with chrysophytes and it does indeed look like the first picture I posted as well. The brown garbage has not come back with a vengeance after the second manual extraction from the sand bed using a 1/2" hose and a super small micron filter sock to remove the top layer of sand. No corals/fish have it on them, and I've scrubbed all of my snails to remove it as well, so as of now I don't have a patch in the tank to video. If it returns again I will be sure to grab a video to post here.

Based on a couple of days of forum reading, it seems like the best solution is to increase biodiversity and inorganic nitrate/phosphate to detectable levels to outcompete unwanted microorganisms. I added 3 bottles of Tigger pods yesterday to further boost pod population (1 bottle in the refugium and two bottles to the rock work in the display with a hose), I am adding a small amount of beneficial bacteria to the system daily, and continue dosing phytoplankton from Algaebarn daily as well. To help along the eradicaton, particularly in case this is dinos, I just installed two 9 watt Green Killing Machine in-tank UV sterilizers that I plan to run for a few days to a couple of weeks. They are unsightly in the tank, but not as bad as the brown crud when it was starting to build up, so I plan to run them for a while unless someone here thinks that's a bad idea.

I also just started this evening with slow-dosing Brightwell's NeoPhos and NeoNitro. I've been using Salifert test kits for daily nitrate and phos readings. Does anyone have an opinion on the best phos kit for this sort of titration? I've been very happy with my Hanna Alk checker, and would be willing to pick up the Low Phos Hanna checker if there are users here who like it.

Open to ideas from here, guys. Attempting to take a shotgun approach with manual removal, addition of nitrate/phos to get to phos ~0.02-0.03 and nitrate 2.5-5 consistently, running the UV sterilizers, and trying to maintain pod population/dose phyto. Don't see how adding beneficial bacteria will directly help as I haven't had an ammonia spike, but don't see how it can hurt either, so giving that a shot, too.
 
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jazzdude87

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Can you do a video of the snot? I can't identify anything that's for sure a dino. It almost looks like chrysophytes. in the first picture.
I took a video of a small patch on one of my snails that I missed yesterday during the clean as well as a couple of stringy bits on the rock work. The snails were pretty much all covered in this stuff before the scrub down. The rock work stuff doesn't look quite like the sand bed stuff did, and I can't rule out hair algae for those. I wish I had taken sand bed footage when it was really bad there... Thinking of doing a canister filter with filter floss today to scrub the rock work and snails in the tank like a vacuum.
 

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jazzdude87

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Well, I just pulled out a bit of brown slime from the top of one of the sea lettuce leaves in the fuge and put it under a microscope. Mixed in with other stuff, I think I've got a good shot of high magnification of ostreopsis. @taricha or @Beardo , can either of you confirm? Anyone else confirm? Thanks in advance.

Low Mag Refugium.jpg Ostreopsis?.jpg Ostreopsis 2?.jpg
 

saltyhog

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I took a video of a small patch on one of my snails that I missed yesterday during the clean as well as a couple of stringy bits on the rock work. The snails were pretty much all covered in this stuff before the scrub down. The rock work stuff doesn't look quite like the sand bed stuff did, and I can't rule out hair algae for those. I wish I had taken sand bed footage when it was really bad there... Thinking of doing a canister filter with filter floss today to scrub the rock work and snails in the tank like a vacuum.
Sorry, I meant a video of the microscopic views. I can't verify that's ostreopsis from those pictures. The first one definitely isn't ostreopsis (or at least doesn't look like it). Ostreopsis movement is easy to spot. They move in a circle as if they are tethered .

The video doesn't look like dinos at all but a stringy filamentous algae.
 

Beardo

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Just a single dino cell in the second and third pics. Those are not ostreopsis. Ostreopsis has a distinct sesame seed shape. I have pics of a few different types in my media folder if you want to look through a few different species.

Mostly just some filamentatious algae from the pics and vids.
 
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jazzdude87

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Sorry, I meant a video of the microscopic views. I can't verify that's ostreopsis from those pictures. The first one definitely isn't ostreopsis (or at least doesn't look like it). Ostreopsis movement is easy to spot. They move in a circle as if they are tethered .

The video doesn't look like dinos at all but a stringy filamentous algae.
@saltyhog that makes total sense and thanks for the clarification. The brown stuff is slowly accumulating on the sand bed again. I'm going to give it a day or two to sample some real muck and will post up again hopefully with video of the microscopic view.

Today nitrate 2.5, phos just above 0 (not anywhere close to 0.03 on Salifert, but finally a tinge of blue), so I dosed both again at very low dose to try to get just a bit higher. In case this isn't dinos I don't want to have elevated nitrates/phosphates, but also don't want to end up with dinos by running phos at 0 even if this is an algae or diatom. Salinity 1.025, Alk 7.9, Ca 435, Mg 1365.
 

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@saltyhog that makes total sense and thanks for the clarification. The brown stuff is slowly accumulating on the sand bed again. I'm going to give it a day or two to sample some real muck and will post up again hopefully with video of the microscopic view.

Today nitrate 2.5, phos just above 0 (not anywhere close to 0.03 on Salifert, but finally a tinge of blue), so I dosed both again at very low dose to try to get just a bit higher. In case this isn't dinos I don't want to have elevated nitrates/phosphates, but also don't want to end up with dinos by running phos at 0 even if this is an algae or diatom. Salinity 1.025, Alk 7.9, Ca 435, Mg 1365.

Understood. I aim for nitrate 2.5-5 (although my tank looks great even with it up to 10) and PO4 0.05 to 0.1. I think that's the healthiest range for most corals even without regard for dino risk.
 
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jazzdude87

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Understood. I aim for nitrate 2.5-5 (although my tank looks great even with it up to 10) and PO4 0.05 to 0.1. I think that's the healthiest range for most corals even without regard for dino risk.
@saltyhog
I took a sample of the brown stuff and tried to take videos. Unfortunately(?), there was very little movement of any of the organisms, although I was able to get a good shot of the small brown circles that most concern me for dinos in looking at other threads. I've posted that video first, with a high magnification shot of one of the examples as a picture below. The only motile stuff that came up was a tiny dot here and there, but I've included those videos as well. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Thanks again for reviewing. The most frustrating thing with all of this is not knowing what it is definitively, and therefore not being sure what to do to attempt treatment. For now, continuing with the nitrate/phosphate dosing and UV therapies. First time seeing it creep onto a coral was today on the edge of a rock covered in green star polyp. I've got to figure out how to treat before it gets to one of my nicer corals... Ostreopsis?.jpg
 

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Beardo

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The picture looks like prorocentrum. I can't look at the vids right now but will take a look when I get home.
The UV can help with that but may need to be "encouraged" into the water column. Using a powerhead to blast after lights out and even a day or 2 with lights out as well. Lights out alone doesn't do anything but used to get into the water column in conjunction with the UV can be effective. I also siphoned into a low micron (5 micron in my case) filter sock for physical removal.
 

NotASpammerDude

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@saltyhog I added 3 bottles of Tigger pods yesterday to further boost pod population (1 bottle in the refugium and two bottles to the rock work in the display with a hose)
Understanding that some people will disagree, I have not found Tigger pods to be an effective species for any long term colonization in my tank. In fact, I never see any anymore, a few months after adding them. That's just to say that if you don't see results with the tigger pods, try a different species. Honestly I think only Tisbe pods can populate a tank long term because Tigger pods need a much lower flow environment than a reef tank and Apoc pods life cycle means the adults get swept into the water column and eaten or die, they require phyto to thrive. Tisbe on the other hand, IIRC, can thrive in benthic environments.
 
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