GHA - dangers of increasing the dose of API Aglae Fix

KevBar

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Hi community,

I'm currently battling some green hair algae in my reef tank. I've been using API Algae Fix for approximately 4 weeks, and I'm not seeing any improvement. I'll include the details of what I'm doing, as well as my thoughts on what the root cause of the GHA actually is below.

But my question is: if I increase the dose, either frequency or amount, what risks am I running? Who might I kill off?

32 gallon bio cube. Well established. Running for approx 3 years. I've made nearly every beginner mistake that you can make, but I've got a pretty good handle on things now.

Very basic LED lighting. I can't have fancy coral with this, but the coral I do have seems to be mostly happy.

3 fish (clown, gramma, and a little yellow and blue fella whose species I forget)
Really basic coral includes duncan, paly, GSP, and enough xenia to seriously consider pruning it back.

When I got the tank, I did not do a lot of the basic research and self-education that I've gotten here over the years. I placed it in the only available space in my small apartment, which unfortunately gets a decent amount of sunlight despite heavy curtains carefully placed at the right times of day. I suspect that this is the root cause of the GHA, but I truly don't have any other place to put the tank. I'll be moving in the spring, so I'll be able to choose a better spot, but for now I'm stuck with the placement.

I've reduced that amount of mysis that I feed my fish down to a very small amount twice daily. I no longer feed the corals reef roids at all.

I have enough live rock that I approximate the total volume to be closer to 25 gallons than 32.

I've been following the Algae Fix directions and dosing 2.5 ml every 3 days. What risks do I run if I increase the dosage or the frequency?

Alternatively, what other options do I have? I've read a decent number of posts about the heartbreak of GHA, and it seems like a really tough nut to crack. I place myself in the hands of your collective wisdom. Huge thank-you in advance.
 
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brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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that stuff is horrible compared to simple disassembly cleaning:

shocking outcomes that takes about 3 hours to attain, in any nano



in that thread, the cause is handled.

GHA grows on reefs without a cause, that's how perfect reefs feed grazers. when we store up waste in rocks and or sand in the reef tank, that helps feed it beyond normal controls. we fix that by cleaning above.
 
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j.falk

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You'll have a hard time getting rid of it until you find out what is fueling it (whether that be too much lighting/light intensity, too long of a photo period, direct sunlight throughout the day or overfeeding).
 
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KevBar

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Hi everyone, but in particular @brandon429

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted what I thought was a fairly simple question. I've been busy. TL/DR - it looks like I completely rid my tank of GHA. it took a lot of grit and effort. Fingers crossed.

Some before shots. Note especially how close the rock is to the back wall (with algae growing in an unscrape-able spot). You can't see it, but there are little coves/caves under some of the rocks and covered by the Zenias that are certainly not getting very much flow at all.
before - full tank shot.jpg
before - back of tank.jpg


Here's what I did:
* Read the thread that @brandon429 linked to, as well as the other linked threads and all the conversations.
* Tried to figure out whether there's any way to avoid tearing it all down, but finally decided to suck it up and just do it.
* Pulled out each rock (breaking apart bits that had been epoxied together) and scraped it with a grill brush
* Did NOT spray them with peroxide as the local CVS was out of it
* Scraped every wall with grill brush to also remove algae from there
* Siphoned up every bit of gravel and detritus
* Rinsed the gravel until it ran clear
* Re-positioned the rocks so that I no longer have anything too close to a wall or areas of poor flow. I ended up throwing out a decent amount of rock.
* All in all, this took several hours

Early results:
* I was APPALLED by just how much grime and crap there was in my gravel.
* When I poured the gravel back in, it seemed like there was still some detritus clouding up the water. But at this point, I needed to call it an evening, so I let it go for the time being
* Algae situation appeared to be completely taken care of
* 85% of the zenias didn't make it. Their dead bits started flowing in the water and settling on the gravel
* Of my three fish, the clown couldn't take the stress
* The two big turbo snails and all regular snails died the following day
* Royal gramma died after the snails
* Duncan, GSP, and Palys seemed to be doing just fine. Thriving even.

Mid-term situation
* I chalked up the deaths to stress. The blue/yellow damsel was still alive, and the corals looked great
* I went to the LFS. Water tested well. Bought 10 hermits and 10 snails to re-stock the CUC.
* Over the next few days, something started growing on the gravel and back of the tank. It looked a lot like cyano, but it was brown instead of red. It looks a bit faded/green in the photo below, but please trust me that it was brown. Possible cause - dead zenias rotting on the gravel giving something for bacteria to grow on?
* It started slow, so I figured I could wait until the weekend and just do a nice big water change
* Then it moved like fire. Suddenly all of the new snails are dead. The damsel is dead. There's brown stuff over 60-70% of the gravel

middle - is that cyano?.jpg


Yesterday's intervention
* I went back and did it all again. Siphoned up all the gravel. Scraped off every rock. Scraped the back of the aquarium
* Oh lord it stank. Rotting snails and whatever that covering was (cyano?)
* This time, I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed the gravel until the water ran 100% clear. No cloudiness of any kind when I put it back in
* So now I've got some happy corals and the cleanest gravel I've ever had.

after  - full tank shot.jpg

after - happy duncan.jpg


Follow-up thank-yous and questions:
* Huge thank you to @brandon429 . This was some tough advice to hear, but I'm really glad I followed it
* only slightly less huge thank you to @WVU247 . I needed to read someone else go through this. It was a ton of work, but I felt like I could do it because you'd already done it in real time.

* What do you think killed off all the snails? What should I look for/test for/wait for in order to buy some more snails with confidence that they won't die?
* How do I prevent the same kind of build-up of crap in my gravel? There's clearly some part of basic maintenance that I've been missing.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Sharp sharp after pics there for sure thanks for feedback!

Hey on your first cleaning where things were taken down was the gravel tap rinsed there, or was it put back then re taken apart second round

Mixing waste + invader mass likely was a stressor, the stuff in sand can kill like happened here:

 
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brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Wanting to shore up this work here still, I hated u had fish losses. Did the initial cleaning share any steps with the above thread/sand mixed around in the presence of fish vs fish removed then tank worked


asking because placing fish and corals back in a fully cleaned system is like how they came home the first time, rarely stressful. We want to know if the initial cleaning was done in tank vs as parted out and things were all separate


the way u kept the aging coralline on the back wall is perfect, still looks matured but now laser clean and not invaded, nothing to dose vibrant for

in the end we want a loss free cleaning approach. The steps on WVU’s work thread were designed to keep fish away from the cleaning work portion but they aren’t listed very clearly at the start. We want to address any order of ops that caused your loss for sure to pinpoint any takeaways for upcoming jobs
 
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KevBar

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Hi again @brandon429 and thanks for the follow-up.

Here's a little more detail on the whole process. I've got some new questions, which I'll put here, but I think they also warrant a separate thread.

For the first cleaning:
* I siphoned out the gravel all the way down to the glass, rinsed it in tap water outside of the aquarium, and then held it separately while I worked on the rock
* An issue for me was the sheer volume of water. I had around 10 gallons of clean water, but during siphoning, a ton of water was removed. I siphoned it into a 5-gallon jug, waited around an hour for it to settle, and then siphoned clean water off the top of the jug. By repeating this several times, I was able to keep a decent amount of existing tank water, although I certainly needed those 10 gallons of clean water to replace what was removed.
* same for the rock. As quickly as possible, I removed each piece, scrubbed it with the grill brush under running tap water and then placed it back into the tank.
* I think that there were probably two issues with this first cleaning.
* I clearly did not get the gravel clean enough, as when I placed it back, there was definitely some cloudiness. At that point, however, I was all out of clean water and it was late, so I decided to simply let it be.
* I think the second issue was the die-off of the Zenias. There were a bunch of Zenia bits floating around, and I'm sure they made it down to the gravel as well.
* So the remaining crud, coupled with the dead Zenias, created some kind of environment in which bacteria could grow and other things (fish and snails, but not crabs) died as well

For the second cleaning:
* This time, I am sure that the gravel was completely clean. I really took my time and waited. I didn't want any of the detritus/sludge/bacteria to go back into the tank

Now, I have what appears to be a relatively happy tank. The questions that I'll post in my new thread are:
* when can I consider it safe to start bringing new living creatures back into the tank? I usually test for Nitrates, Phosphates, and Ph. Should I be testing for anything else?
* I currently have no snails. Just crabs and corals. Do I need snails urgently as part of clean-up? Or should I wait?
* I'd basically stopped feeding my corals prior to this ordeal. I'd feed the fish a very small amount of mysis twice a day, but nothing else. Should I start feeding my corals while I wait out until it's safe to re-introduce fish?
* How do I prevent build-up of this level of crap in the gravel again? Surely you don't need to vacuum it all up regularly? Or do you?
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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For sure does need regular cleaning

here’s a neat option you’ll like to stave off big cleaning long as possible

the tank is now self resolved all ammonia events last about one hour max, seneye owners have shown. Can add now into the sharp tank agreed on your summary above.

stick stirring the initial bed or the partially rinsed bed is risky due to the incompletely broken down wastes inside, sandbeds are risky as they age. But now your bed is cloudless, so stick stirring in the clean condition prevents impaction vs doing it to an old bed.
 

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