Dinoflagellates – Are You Tired Of Battling Altogether?

Discussion in 'Nuisance Algae (including bacteria)' started by mcarroll, Mar 4, 2017.

  1. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I don't know what percentage of folks had luck battling dinos with any of the methods in the old Dino thread but it's obviously a very low percentage, so I'd like refresh folks on the natural alternatives and lay out three areas of info:
    • some of the factors that contribute to a dino outbreak
    • how to avoid common dino outbreaks
    • and what do if your tank is already having an outbreak
    Let's get started!

    Common Contributing Factors
    Some of the most common factors that contribute to the dino outbreaks we cover in this thread are:
    • the tank being new, rock being immature or the tank being otherwise highly disturbed, such as by other harsh tank treatments
    • hard core nutrient reduction tools being used, such as
      • organic carbon dosing
      • excess "bio media"
      • algae filtration
      • nutrient adsorbing media like GFO
    These four factors, or excess nutrient removal generally, play – usually in combination; rarely just one factor alone – pretty directly into dino's conversion to the blooming, phagotrophic, mat forming, toxin-producing side of their nature.
    • Starvation Is Their Cue
      • Dino's seem to prefer life as autotrophic epiphytes on macro algae – chaeto morpha seems to be one of their favorite types to host in. (Maybe this fact can be useful to us; maybe sometimes chaeto ought not be used, or used with special consideration)
      • For several reasons, dino's seem to be terrible at nutrient uptake. This means they are more prone to starvation than many or most other microorganisms they have to compete with.....especially bacteria, which can scavenge free nutrients down to CRAZY low levels...low enough to starve out other microbes or algae.
      • With their protective mucus mats, potential to generate wicked toxins, and ability to survive not only by way of photosynthesis and dissolved nutrients, but alternately, when times get tough, by "eating their neighbors". (The least of their tricks.)
      • Dino's generally gain a competitive edge against their competitors AND their predators in a nutrient-starved environment. Keep reading!
    How To Avoid Having A Dino Outbreak
    In a nutshell, here's how to avoid dino outbreaks and begin to normalize your tank if you already have an outbreak:
    • Phosphate Control
    • Nitrate Control
    • Starvation conditions (zero or near-zero nitrate or phosphate levels) should be avoided.
      • Keep in mind that dissolved nutrients are not "waste products" to be eliminated
      • They are nutrients for the critters you care about like corals
      • The are also nutrients for a potential multitude of mostly-unknown/anonymous microbes that are needed to bring stability to a new tank.
      • Once excess nutrients have an impact, in fact, they usually can't be simply eliminated with media anyway – they've probably already had an impact on the tank's microbial cycle. (See blog link #3 at bottom.)
      • This all adds up to skipping almost all "extra" nutrient removing steps during the tank's initial development. This period seems to be especially critical, and longer in a tank started with dry, dead rock. Don't use anything until it's absolutely needed and other options have been fully exhausted...and be conservative with how you apply any nutrient removing tool.
    What to do if you're tank is already having a dino outbreak
    When attempting to control an organism like a dinoflagellate, confirming the ID will help, if possible:
    • So to begin with, make sure you have Dinos – you should have multiple factors at work...these factors were mentioned in the first section above. The less these factors seem to describe your tank, the less likely any of this advice will be correct for your situation – so post questions! :)
      • no special equipment is needed to confirm whether your algae sample has dino's and/or other algae
      • Use @taricha's dino confirmation guide on posts #986-987.
    • Once you have confirmed that you have dino's you should ideally figure out what type(s) your tank is hosting. (Multiple species blooms seem almost as common as single-strain blooms.)
      • A basic 1200x microscope will be useful and doesn't have to be fancier than a $15 toy scope. Even a $50 scope is a lot nicer, if you think you might be more serious about it.
      • See: Selecting a microscope for more discussion.
    • Extra Measures
      Generally, these tools will give extra control in terms of removing and/or killing cells in the water column....usually, along with other measures explained here, expediting the close of the dino bloom.
      • UV
        You can find discussions throughout the thread by using this search, with a great breakout of spec's on post #3770.
      • Diatom Filtration
        Effective, but not that popular. The more common units like the classic Vortex are somewhat difficult to use, and the newer units like the new Marineland Polishing Filter are relatively unknown. Still worthy of consideration.
    So, after you get a measure of control, make sure you read What is the End Game?

    Miscellaneous Goodies
    • Take measures to assure that your feeding system is very consistent. An auto-feeder is an overlooked tool on most tanks. Look at Eheim's feeders...set them on low with high quality flake food. Just don't let them run your whole feeding program as flake isn't great food.
    • Find out what inconsistencies you can eliminate with your husbandry to prevent more unneeded disturbances and the resulting microbial/algal changes. This could be changes to lighting or water chemistry – make them as consistent as you can.
    • E.g. If you're adding new livestock all the time, stop it. If you have a color-tunable light fixture, stop re-tuning the colors. If you don't have an ATO keeping your salinity stable, get one. If you're still managing your dosing by hand, get an $80 4-head doser. Etc.
    • If you provide the stability, then your dino's competitors will start competing with them and their predators will start eating them!!
    • One thing that seems to help things progress is to stop scraping down the algae off your glass....once the dino's start giving up space that is. Mechanical removal is a legit short-term strategy and might help give competitors a leg up too.



    Other interesting more-or-less related links on my blog:
    (Also cross-posted in the old Dino thread!)
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018

  2. Triggreef

    Triggreef Zoa Addict R2R Supporter CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Interesting. Don't think I've ever had any issues with dinos, but my phosphates are through the roof pretty much always.
     
  3. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Just curious what constitutes through the roof in your case?
     
  4. bh750

    bh750 Active Member

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    great post Matt. Love your points. The articles are waaay over my head so appreciate the short summaries you made.
     
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  5. ncaldwell

    ncaldwell Active Member

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    I ended up having great luck with a blackout and h2o2 for 2 weeks,. Finally allowed the other various algae get a foothold and knock it out. Was a pain for sure though
     
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  6. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    "Easy come, easy go." "Anything worth having is worth working for." -- Not by me. :p

    I think it helped a lot that you're willing to tolerate other algae like that. :) Everyday algae are definitely not the enemy. ;)
     
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  7. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I know some of those links seem a lot deeper than others....but hopefully there was enough there to get at least two main ideas:
    1. that dino's aren't as mysterious as we might be inclined to believe, and that <gasp>...
    2. returning to the basics and abandoning some of our bandaid solutions are both part of the answer.
    Everything has to eat, all the time – even the microbial food web. Dissolved nutrients make that happen.

    Keeping nutrients stripped from the water (i.e. 0 ppm of N or P) is harmful. It limits nicer algae and can promote much worse things.

    There's even evidence that excessive C (like from biopellets, vodka, vinegar, et al) is conducive to harmful shifts in the food web.
     
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  8. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I heard through the grapevine that you have KNO3 and a PO4 supplment now! Good!

    Generally speaking, no particular number is "better"....just anything non-zero. :)
     
  9. bh750

    bh750 Active Member

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    Yep! I'm on a couple similar threads across two different forums. Lol. But yea i started today. Will take daily measurements and pictures to go along with my daily dosing. Today N was at a good range which was exprected (7-9ppm or so). And of course phosphates are 0.00. So I dosed 20ml of the seachem solution. Will test tomorrow and see.
     
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  10. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Great start! Remember: slow and steady wins! :)
     
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  11. Vaughn17

    Vaughn17 Well-Known Member

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    Hi Mcarroll (Matt?). I've been dosing NO3 and PO4 for over a year. I started experimental dosing a 38 g sps skimmerless tank that had a bad outbreak of dinos and starving sps. I had excellent results (the dinos disappeared completely in about a week) but was always having to battle macroalgae. Unfortunately, I discovered too late that the key to keeping the hair algae at bay is to never let it get established and competing with the coral. Unfortunately, in a small tank, the most useful herbivorous fish aren't an option.

    So, in early March my new 180 (with a skimmer and sump, yes!) finished cycling. My NO3 was just over 75 ppm and my PO4 was .5. Because I believe corals should be added before fish, I started adding GPS, xenia, and some hardy LPS like a war coral, some chalices, a hammer colony, a pectinia colony etc. For fun, I stuck a couple cheap acro frags in as well, and they exhibitged major PE so over the next few days I added all the corals from my 38 g and some from my 40 breeder, plus a small azure damsel. I also seeded that tank with pods at this time. Everything went really well for most of the coral for the first month, with the exception of a few plate corals that (evidently) were intolerant of the high nitrates. I moved them back to the 40 but unfortunately too late for most of them. By early April, the NO3 had dropped to 20 ppm and the PO4 to zero. The tank was going thru the typical new tank uglies with lots of diatoms and some brown algae. I added fighing conches, turbos, and other snails. I was only lighting one half of the tank with a 36" 6 bulb T5, but it was not nearly enough light for the acros, which IME require a lot of light in high nutrient conditions. The new LEDs I ordered were late in coming. The sps browned out a bit and were not exhibiting as much or any PE. I tentatively dosed PO4 and added four more small fish that I'd had for several years. Other, larger fish, including a small fox face were still in QT. IMO, the sps were browning out due to a combination of low light and high nutrients, so I hesitated to dose much PO4 and instead decided to start dosing aminos.

    This was dumb. By mid April, I had lots of brown algae and the beginning of dinos. NO 3 was stuck at 20 ppm. I added the Fox face and dosed more aminos. I lost a few chalices and acro frags. A large red planet colony started to look bleached, while other frags and colonies turned dark brown and looked dead. Two of my three stylo colonies began to stn, along with a prized seriatopora; although, amazingly a large percentage of my acros looked fine and even grew. By the end of the third week in April, the water was clouded with bacteria and dinos were everywhere (that was lit). I lost a few more acros and the stylos and bird's nest were still slowing stn-ing. One of my new lights finally arrived. I quite dosing aminos and did what I should have done three weeks earlier: Dose PO4 with confidence.

    Now, I know one of the axioms of this hobby is that only bad things happen fast, but in my 180's case, not so. The next day, corals were looking significantly better. The bacteria disappeared after a few days, and the dinos were completely gone in two weeks (the majority disappeared after just a few days). Amazingly, all of the browned out acros began to recover, and my stylos and bird's nest began to regrow. By May, NO3 dropped below 5 ppm and I commenced dosing it, as well. Now, just three weeks later, the tank is looking awesome. Yes, there is a tiny bit of hair algae, but the herbivore crew (including about a million pods) have it under control (plus I'm QT-ing a little Tomini tang to help out Spike the Fox Face). So, I'm with you mccarroll, if you feed the good stuff it out-competes the bad stuff. Plus, always order your lighting well ahead of when you need it.
     
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  12. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    (Matt, indeed.) :)

    I need two Like buttons again!

    Just to recap some things you mentioned...

    Here, here! There really are no good options...but there are some marginal ones, like a few of the smaller blennies, if your not talking nano-sized "small tank".

    I'm a dedicated fan of snails for control for this very reason. Crabs only as-needed. None, if possible. :)

    Amen to this too! I think it would be a big help in most new systems.

    The timeline begins... :)

    PO4 stress was the root of it.....but you might have done one or two things to ameliorate the effects of not having your new lights on hand. Did you end up using a light meter to set up your new lights at about the same level as your old lights, or how did the setup of the new lights go?

    My guess at why: PE exposes them to more light, which exposes them to damage, which they need PO4 to repair.....no PO4....they can't risk extension. If I'm remembering my reading correctly, there are also some directly-protective effects of dissolved PO4 they are probably also missing at this point.

    This is a song that many of us have sung. (and this comment made me LOL) ;)
    The last line of this song always ends: "....and where's my PO4?" :D

    The bacterial bloom is an interesting wrinkle.

    Just wanted to see that in print again! :)
     
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  13. Vaughn17

    Vaughn17 Well-Known Member

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  14. Medic755

    Medic755 Active Member

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    I agree 100% with the natural approach. I was at wits end with Dino. I went to my LFS, Reef to Rift in Hatfield, PA and talked to Scott. He told me to just let my phosphate rise up a little bit, it was potentially close to zero with the range of error in the tests. I let it rise to 0.05-0.08 and I raised my mag to 1500 and it disappeared in about 2 days.
     
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  15. anomeda

    anomeda Active Member

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    Hi.
    I have a 4 months young fowlr 29g and now understand it might be dino and not diatomes i have in my tank, which makes sence with 0 po4 and 3ppm nitrate.
    I have 2 smaller clowns/2 hermites and not a single spot of algea so far. Light has only been on 7 ours a day since the start with blue and some white, and i feed NLS pellets and frozen food.

    My weekly maintence. Syphon sand beed with the 15-20% water change, change floss 2-3 times and blast of rocks a few times. I keep carbon in a bag, some extra bio media and run skimmerless. Gravity feed ATO that keeps salinity spot on at 1.025.

    My question is. Am i overdoing my maintence perhaps?
     
  16. Reef man 89

    Reef man 89 Valuable Member

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    So I am wondering about h2o2 dosing does that help with taking out Dino's? I know you can use it to kill HA. If you were to dose it how much do you dose?
     
  17. anomeda

    anomeda Active Member

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    Sorry if that was to much unecessary info. I thought it might be easier to answer if you have all the info.
     
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  18. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Possibly. You might be able to cut back on the floss and siphoning....unless you think the tank needs it. Do you get a lot of mess out with the siphoning? The activated carbon probably isn't necessary, nor the extra bio-media if you have anything close to 1 pound per gallon of live rock.

    You might also be able to feed more.

    I would suggest investigating both possibilities, but make any changes small and let them happen over a long period of time....weeks....before you judge the effects.
     
  19. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Treatments have proven to be mostly ineffective. What do you think of the info in the first post? How are your tank's nutrient levels right now?

    Are the dino's causing problems or just being ugly?
     
  20. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    @nova65ss I read about your dino tank and hospital tank. (If you haven't been to this thread before, check out the first post.)

    How did you start your frag tank? And how did you start your hospital tank? Meaning what method, what materials did you use, timing of livestock, etc...
     
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