Dinoflagellates – Are You Tired Of Battling Altogether?

Beardo

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I pulled some sludge off of one of my snails this evening and put it under a microscope. It appears to me to be a mix of the previously demonstrated dino (probably prorocentrum?) and another type that seems to spin around in circles with more of a teardrop appearance. I probably shoudn't be surprised that there are multiple types of dinos as the conditions have been right for them, but am bummed nonetheless. ID would be helpful if people have opinions.

I'm continuing to dose phosphate and nitrate. Phos back down to 0, so will be dosing twice a day starting tomorrow to try to get levels higher for biodiversity. While it hasn't yet taken over the tank, I'm concerned that I've caught it too late to turn it around before it does...
The sesame seed shaped dinos are ostreopsis.
I believe you are running a UV, what size and how is it plumbed?
 
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dwest

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I pulled some sludge off of one of my snails this evening and put it under a microscope. It appears to me to be a mix of the previously demonstrated dino (probably prorocentrum?) and another type that seems to spin around in circles with more of a teardrop appearance. I probably shoudn't be surprised that there are multiple types of dinos as the conditions have been right for them, but am bummed nonetheless. ID would be helpful if people have opinions.

I'm continuing to dose phosphate and nitrate. Phos back down to 0, so will be dosing twice a day starting tomorrow to try to get levels higher for biodiversity. While it hasn't yet taken over the tank, I'm concerned that I've caught it too late to turn it around before it does...
I can’t pull the videos up on my iPad. But a teardrop description sounds like possibly ostreopsis. I’d continue with dosing phosphates and nitrates and hit with UV if you haven’t already.
 

MadTownFess

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At my wits end. Tank is 9 months old, been battling dino for the last 6 months. Tank parameters are stable and grow Coraline like crazy) I had both Ostro and Amphidinum. Started the tank off with dry reef saver rock. Made the rookie mistake of starting off with GFO from day one. This obviously led to 0 phosphate,hence the dino. I started off increasing my phosphate to .03. It has been this way now for 5 months. Nitrate has always been 5 ppm. After that didn't do much as I was trying to be patient, Didnt work, so I got a UV sterilizer. This did a pretty good job of killing Ostro,keeping them to a minimum. I turned off the skimmer. Did 5 gallon water changes (45 gallon system) to suck out all the dinos in the sand bed. After a few months of this, still kept coming back. I read the dosing Silca can help overcome Amph, so did that for a few weeks until I saw a diatom bloom.Diatoms came and went, still dino. I finally starting getting some green turf algae on my rockwork, so thought this was a good sign and that maybe it would out compete it. I stopped doing water changes. as I heard this could fuel them. Trying to be patient and see how things play out, this went on for a few months, still dino. Doing even more research, I thought for sure my problem was now was lack of biodiversity. So 3 weeks ago, I did a 3 day blackout, and ordered 16,000 copepods from AlgaeBarn. After the blackout, I added the pods, and started dosing phytoplankon daily (10 mL), Added another 16,000 pods last week. So its now been two weeks since adding the pods, dosing phyto daily...my phosphate is now up to .1. The dinos are worse than ever. My only plan of action now is to try to siphon the sand bed daily into a 5 micron sock, and put the water back in the tank. I am out of ideas. Depressed.
 

jazzdude87

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The sesame seed shaped dinos are ostreopsis.
I believe you are running a UV, what size and how is it plumbed?
I don't have room on the tank or in the sump for a large UV sterilizer, so I bought two 9 watt Green Killing Machines and have them on either side of the display tank on the back wall. Is 18 watts total for a ~60 gallons of water total system sufficient?
 

jazzdude87

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At my wits end. Tank is 9 months old, been battling dino for the last 6 months. Tank parameters are stable and grow Coraline like crazy) I had both Ostro and Amphidinum. Started the tank off with dry reef saver rock. Made the rookie mistake of starting off with GFO from day one. This obviously led to 0 phosphate,hence the dino. I started off increasing my phosphate to .03. It has been this way now for 5 months. Nitrate has always been 5 ppm. After that didn't do much as I was trying to be patient, Didnt work, so I got a UV sterilizer. This did a pretty good job of killing Ostro,keeping them to a minimum. I turned off the skimmer. Did 5 gallon water changes (45 gallon system) to suck out all the dinos in the sand bed. After a few months of this, still kept coming back. I read the dosing Silca can help overcome Amph, so did that for a few weeks until I saw a diatom bloom.Diatoms came and went, still dino. I finally starting getting some green turf algae on my rockwork, so thought this was a good sign and that maybe it would out compete it. I stopped doing water changes. as I heard this could fuel them. Trying to be patient and see how things play out, this went on for a few months, still dino. Doing even more research, I thought for sure my problem was now was lack of biodiversity. So 3 weeks ago, I did a 3 day blackout, and ordered 16,000 copepods from AlgaeBarn. After the blackout, I added the pods, and started dosing phytoplankon daily (10 mL), Added another 16,000 pods last week. So its now been two weeks since adding the pods, dosing phyto daily...my phosphate is now up to .1. The dinos are worse than ever. My only plan of action now is to try to siphon the sand bed daily into a 5 micron sock, and put the water back in the tank. I am out of ideas. Depressed.
Man, this sounds terrible. I am really sad for you to hear this and nervous that my own situation will mirror yours a few months from now. Really hoping that you're able to find a solution over time for your particular tank.
 
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dwest

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At my wits end. Tank is 9 months old, been battling dino for the last 6 months. Tank parameters are stable and grow Coraline like crazy) I had both Ostro and Amphidinum. Started the tank off with dry reef saver rock. Made the rookie mistake of starting off with GFO from day one. This obviously led to 0 phosphate,hence the dino. I started off increasing my phosphate to .03. It has been this way now for 5 months. Nitrate has always been 5 ppm. After that didn't do much as I was trying to be patient, Didnt work, so I got a UV sterilizer. This did a pretty good job of killing Ostro,keeping them to a minimum. I turned off the skimmer. Did 5 gallon water changes (45 gallon system) to suck out all the dinos in the sand bed. After a few months of this, still kept coming back. I read the dosing Silca can help overcome Amph, so did that for a few weeks until I saw a diatom bloom.Diatoms came and went, still dino. I finally starting getting some green turf algae on my rockwork, so thought this was a good sign and that maybe it would out compete it. I stopped doing water changes. as I heard this could fuel them. Trying to be patient and see how things play out, this went on for a few months, still dino. Doing even more research, I thought for sure my problem was now was lack of biodiversity. So 3 weeks ago, I did a 3 day blackout, and ordered 16,000 copepods from AlgaeBarn. After the blackout, I added the pods, and started dosing phytoplankon daily (10 mL), Added another 16,000 pods last week. So its now been two weeks since adding the pods, dosing phyto daily...my phosphate is now up to .1. The dinos are worse than ever. My only plan of action now is to try to siphon the sand bed daily into a 5 micron sock, and put the water back in the tank. I am out of ideas. Depressed.
Sorry. They suck!

You can beat them however. I would:
1. Keep phosphates and nitrates measurable by dosing if you need to.
2. Keep skimmer running, but stop anything else that lowers phosphates or nitrates (carbon dosing, gfo, biopellets, chaeto fuge, etc)
3. Keep vacuuming and sucking them out. Water changes are fine IME.
4. Stop adding phyto.
5. Make sure your UV wattage is about 1 watt per every 3 gallons of system gallons or greater. Run your UV from DT back to DT with about 1-3 tank volumes per hour going through it.
6. Run GAC to help remove toxins.

Strongly consider:
1. Restarting the silica dosing.
2. Removing sand

I removed my sand and that made a huge improvement in my system. Others didn’t need to do this. You were starting the improvement when green algae appeared and when you had the diatom bloom. You just need to follow through longer.
 

dwest

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I don't have room on the tank or in the sump for a large UV sterilizer, so I bought two 9 watt Green Killing Machines and have them on either side of the display tank on the back wall. Is 18 watts total for a ~60 gallons of water total system sufficient?
It’s borderline. I think probably sufficient. Others have had success with them.
 

Alexreefer

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At my wits end. Tank is 9 months old, been battling dino for the last 6 months. Tank parameters are stable and grow Coraline like crazy) I had both Ostro and Amphidinum. Started the tank off with dry reef saver rock. Made the rookie mistake of starting off with GFO from day one. This obviously led to 0 phosphate,hence the dino. I started off increasing my phosphate to .03. It has been this way now for 5 months. Nitrate has always been 5 ppm. After that didn't do much as I was trying to be patient, Didnt work, so I got a UV sterilizer. This did a pretty good job of killing Ostro,keeping them to a minimum. I turned off the skimmer. Did 5 gallon water changes (45 gallon system) to suck out all the dinos in the sand bed. After a few months of this, still kept coming back. I read the dosing Silca can help overcome Amph, so did that for a few weeks until I saw a diatom bloom.Diatoms came and went, still dino. I finally starting getting some green turf algae on my rockwork, so thought this was a good sign and that maybe it would out compete it. I stopped doing water changes. as I heard this could fuel them. Trying to be patient and see how things play out, this went on for a few months, still dino. Doing even more research, I thought for sure my problem was now was lack of biodiversity. So 3 weeks ago, I did a 3 day blackout, and ordered 16,000 copepods from AlgaeBarn. After the blackout, I added the pods, and started dosing phytoplankon daily (10 mL), Added another 16,000 pods last week. So its now been two weeks since adding the pods, dosing phyto daily...my phosphate is now up to .1. The dinos are worse than ever. My only plan of action now is to try to siphon the sand bed daily into a 5 micron sock, and put the water back in the tank. I am out of ideas. Depressed.
So sorry to hear that. Just beat my battle with amphidinium dinos. My tank was about as old as yours when dinos showed up. They came from me bottoming out nutrients like you. I did from using chemicean to beat cyano. I went for many options, (Vibrant, UV, pods, cuc to no avail). I contacted @brandon429 after reading his entire "sand rinse method" thread. He was helping me through the steps. I followed and rinsed my sand until it was crystal clear. This made a difference, I was able to take control of the dinos for a bit. They later came back but with less force. After this, I did some big water changes which were a mistake. I found that small and more frequent water changes help control the dino's along with stability. Then came vacation, A 55 day trip to Europe. During this time the only thing that happened was ato and feeding the fish. Just as @dwest said you were on the right track but you didn't hold on long enough. During this time my tank matured, became more stable, had a lot more coralline. Just the tank controlling itself was enough to put the dinos away. Only ran socks, skimmer, bio-media, and a small refugium. The tank leveled out, everyone was happy, colors on the coral popping and the water clear as heck. The skimmer helped clean very well. Also not cleaning the glass and letting some other algae grown was smart. If I told my fish keeper to clean the glass it would have left more space for dinos to grow. Try letting those other algaes take over and block out the dinos.
Feel free to ask any questions. Also, could you post a pic of the current tank?
 

ScottB

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I don't have room on the tank or in the sump for a large UV sterilizer, so I bought two 9 watt Green Killing Machines and have them on either side of the display tank on the back wall. Is 18 watts total for a ~60 gallons of water total system sufficient?
I think you are close enough on total wattage... 1 watt per 3 gallons is the common recommendation. Ur doing the right work.
 

taricha

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This is very good to target Amphidinium. Cruz developed it with mature SPS tanks in mind.
...
I would love to see if @taricha would he interested in testing this out.
I started a thread to look into it over here.
Some of the theory and explanations I remain skeptical of (for instance, CO2 in the tank actually skyrockets due to oxidation of the carbon dose - definitely not depriving anything of CO2), and the O2 deprivation risk is very hard to overcome in some cases, but it seems interesting enough to try to figure out.

How much the bacterial activity affects the sandbed makes it very interesting for amphidinium.
 
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MadTownFess

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Sorry. They suck!

You can beat them however. I would:
1. Keep phosphates and nitrates measurable by dosing if you need to.
2. Keep skimmer running, but stop anything else that lowers phosphates or nitrates (carbon dosing, gfo, biopellets, chaeto fuge, etc)
3. Keep vacuuming and sucking them out. Water changes are fine IME.
4. Stop adding phyto.
5. Make sure your UV wattage is about 1 watt per every 3 gallons of system gallons or greater. Run your UV from DT back to DT with about 1-3 tank volumes per hour going through it.
6. Run GAC to help remove toxins.

Strongly consider:
1. Restarting the silica dosing.
2. Removing sand

I removed my sand and that made a huge improvement in my system. Others didn’t need to do this. You were starting the improvement when green algae appeared and when you had the diatom bloom. You just need to follow through longer.
I have ready that Silica and other trace elements actually fuel dino, so now I am on the fence about trying this method again
 

dwest

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I have ready that Silica and other trace elements actually fuel dino, so now I am on the fence about trying this method again
I understand. But after lots of reading, personal discussions, and fighting amphidinium myself, I think it’s your best shot. I believe that you are trying to encourage other organisms to flourish which will eventually outcompete dinos. These conditions may, in the short term, allow dinos to bloom as well.

Either way, good luck.
 

MadTownFess

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I understand. But after lots of reading, personal discussions, and fighting amphidinium myself, I think it’s your best shot. I believe that you are trying to encourage other organisms to flourish which will eventually outcompete dinos. These conditions may, in the short term, allow dinos to bloom as well.

Either way, good luck.
Thanks! I'll need it. Why do you suggest stopping dosing phyto... I've heard dosing this adds to biodiversity...
 

dwest

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Thanks! I'll need it. Why do you suggest stopping dosing phyto... I've heard dosing this adds to biodiversity...
Pretty confident that I read in multiple places in the amphidinium thread that amphidinium consume phyto. You can sort through that thread that taricha mentioned just a few posts ago.
 

Ross Petersen

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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!)
Thanks for the detailed post. I'm in the process of setting up a 100 gallon mixed tank and would love your gut instincts on these questions:

1. I've purchased dry marco rock. Worth it getting some cured rock to mix in - despite the odd mixing of colors this would create?
2. I'm running a bean animal drain with 70% of the water going through a roller filter. Would you advise pulling the roller filter off for the first few months?
3. No skimmer for the first few months?
4. No refugium to begin with (given the statement re. some diatoms liking taking up residence in chaeto)?
5. Any evidence adding diverse bacteria (e.g., Microbacter7 - or others) helps to compete w/ diatoms?

Kind thanks,
Ross
 

Prairie Reef

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Thanks for the detailed post. I'm in the process of setting up a 100 gallon mixed tank and would love your gut instincts on these questions:

1. I've purchased dry marco rock. Worth it getting some cured rock to mix in - despite the odd mixing of colors this would create?
2. I'm running a bean animal drain with 70% of the water going through a roller filter. Would you advise pulling the roller filter off for the first few months?
3. No skimmer for the first few months?
4. No refugium to begin with (given the statement re. some diatoms liking taking up residence in chaeto)?
5. Any evidence adding diverse bacteria (e.g., Microbacter7 - or others) helps to compete w/ diatoms?

Kind thanks,
Ross
i’d definitely put some cured rock in, make the whole “cycling” process go faster. my “cycle” took over a month with dry rock and a bottle of seachem stability. once the “cycle” is done why not ramp up all your equipment . remember everyone’s tank behaves and reacts very differently!
 

Ross Petersen

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i’d definitely put some cured rock in, make the whole “cycling” process go faster. my “cycle” took over a month with dry rock and a bottle of seachem stability. once the “cycle” is done why not ramp up all your equipment . remember everyone’s tank behaves and reacts very differently!
So much uncertainty in this hobby! Makes it compelling. My added 2 cents:

-BRS had a video on getting the refugium going before adding fish to combat algae. On the fence about this one given the above.

-Agree... I need some cured rock in my display tank at the onset (but actually nervous about LFS contamination - I'm in Canada, limited options)

-Really seems like having 0 phosphates and/or nitrates is a strong predictor of problems... I won't follow a rule book but will aim for stability (e.g., might have skimmer/roller filter going early on *depending* on chemistry tests)

-If anyone has added insights on early dosing with bacteria (e.g., Microbacter 7 or other) as a means to prevent unwanted algae/dinoflagellate outbreaks, super!
 

Belgian Anthias

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Battling dino's may be difficult as the symbionts in corals are dino's and other dino's are playing a main role in the coral holobiont. They are a primary food source on the natural reef. About half of the known dino's are photosynthetic ( phototropic) the other half heterotropic and or mixotropic. Some of them are the main producers of toxins in the marine environment.
So, what kind of dino's are we talking about? Are we able to sort out what kind of dino's bother us and battle them without interfering to much with the balance within the coral holobiont?
To control dino's and other phytoplankton members there is a simple solution, competition for the nutrients and building materials.
As a lot of them are heterotrops. interfering in the natural limited availability of organic carbon by adding more seems a good idea, as heterotropic r-strategists will use up available building materials a lot faster, this competition for buildingmaterials may limit growth of heterotropic dino's, but only when ammonia- nitrogen is available. Once ammonium- nitrogen is used up the dino's will benefit of the carbon addition. The nitrogen -source used plays a main role in growth rates. On the other hand we do not want free ammonia in a closed live support system. Using carbohydrates for trying to control dino"s is not a good idea as it will mess whith the natural balance and the installed carrying capacity of the system.
In most cases, dino's visible on glass, sand and rock, are members of bio-mats, a mix of different sorts and species , competing each other but also helping each other when mutual interests are in danger. The same thing takes place in the coral holobiont, in a very complex balance. Do we want to interfere with that? And if we may, to what extend?
In a closed system, what is measured is what is left over at the moment of measuring. In most cases an abnormal increase of measurable nutrients are an indicator, they are the messenger and not the cause which must be corrected.
 

Tjm23slo

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Thanks! I'll need it. Why do you suggest stopping dosing phyto... I've heard dosing this adds to biodiversity...
Do you know which type of Dino you are facing?

Amino acids and stuff like bio fuel and Biobase will fuel Dino blooms. SpongExcel or silicate will not.

If you have not identified your Dino’s type, stop panicking and get a cheap microscope and get a picture and video. Then post it here.
 
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