ID Help: Calothrix or Bacterial?

rsumner

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Howdy, gang. Happy Friday! I seem to find myself revisiting the situation once every few weeks where I have a very light white hairy/fuzzy film on my rocks. It's never bad enough for me to be too concerned about it, but it is annoying and fairly ugly in the tank. I usually only take action once I start to see it spread into my sump. This morning, I noticed some on the glass of my return section and on the return pump, so I thought I would take some pics and create a thread.

Snails and crabs don't seem to touch it, so I'm doubtful it's Calothrix or any other algae. With that being said, my position is that it's some bad bacteria that has found its home in the tank, consistently lives there, and eventually gets enough strength to multiply. I'm not currently dosing any carbon or bacterial additives, however I have dosed various Dr Tims products and Brightwell BioFuel in the past. I've probably made it through at least two water changes since I've added any of that stuff to my system. As far as bacterial control, I'm running a single Brightwell Biobrick sitting on the floor of my sump and a UV running at 45K µW/cm² for about 12 hours a day.

Have a look below and let me know if you agree with me that this is a bacterial imbalance:

IMG_2063.jpeg



IMG_2065.jpeg


IMG_2066.jpeg
 
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rsumner

rsumner

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I scrubbed my rocks and return pump this weekend when I did my water change. The pump came clean, but the rocks are still covered. I went back and looked at all the fun I had with this last time documented in https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/foamy-white-clear-slime-on-top-of-sump-water.551297/page-2#post-6240203 and realized I was probably premature in claiming victory just over a month ago.

I then went back to November of last year when I battled Dino's in this thread: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/new-brown-stringy-algae-in-sand.457583/page-4#post-5339503. I find myself constantly pushing to try and keep my water super clean and I forget sometimes that balance is more important then keeping any one thing perfect. I immediately started to think that I could have too much bacteria in my system compared the the nutrients.

So, what am I doing now to try and rid myself of this on my rocks?
  • Added a temporary powerhead to the display to increase flow. I normally run two Neptune WAVs on the back right hand corners, so I added a spare Chinese pump to the right glass running 100% pulse to mix things up a little more.
  • Tested Phosphates and Nitrates last night. Phosphates were at 0.024ppm and Nitrates were flatlined at zero, so I dosed enough Nitrogen to get me up to around 2ppm last night. I'll continue to test both once to twice a day and dose accordingly to keep at least 0.02ppm of Phosphate and 2ppm of Nitrate.
  • Running UV 24 hours a day.
Most threads on this topic, with these specific symptoms, usually end with absolutely no updates providing details to other on what things worked for the reefer, so I'm going to do my best to try and provide followups with pics.
 
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rsumner

rsumner

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After 2 days of dosing Nitrogen and Phosphorus, my skimmate production has increased drastically. I'm going to take that as a good sign!

I was tired of looking at the temporary pump I added, so I removed the additional Jebao wavemaker, but increased the power on the WAVs to make up for it.
 

LARedstickreefer

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After 2 days of dosing Nitrogen and Phosphorus, my skimmate production has increased drastically. I'm going to take that as a good sign!

I was tired of looking at the temporary pump I added, so I removed the additional Jebao wavemaker, but increased the power on the WAVs to make up for it.
I don’t think it’s a flow problem for me. This stuff won’t blow off the rocks.

What I have looks like grey GHA and it traps a lot of detritus.

I’ve begun adding Dr Tim’s Refresh and have a bottle of Waste Away waiting. Hopefully the bacteria can outcompete whatever this nightmare is.

What is one to do when nitrates and phosphate are in line with what others suggest for Acroporas? My nitrates are around 1ppm and phosphate was 0.035ppm last I checked.

How do we drop nutrients enough to stunt algae but not stunt corals?
 
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rsumner

rsumner

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I don’t think it’s a flow problem for me. This stuff won’t blow off the rocks...

I’ve begun adding Dr Tim’s Refresh and have a bottle of Waste Away waiting. Hopefully the bacteria can outcompete whatever this nightmare is.

What is one to do when nitrates and phosphate are in line with what others suggest for Acroporas? My nitrates are around 1ppm and phosphate was 0.035ppm last I checked.

How do we drop nutrients enough to stunt algae but not stunt corals?
Oh, mine doesn't blow off the rocks either, but I noticed a few hidden patches of cyano when I cleaned my rocks last weekend. Considering one of the causes of cyano is poor flow, I gave things a boost.

Personally, I would suggest you stop adding more bacteria to your tank -- even if it's good bacteria. I'm convinced that these bacterial matts/patches are due to there being more bacteria than there are nutrients for the good bacteria to consume. If this a problem with too little nitrifying bacteria, I would suspect you would have ammonia problems. If this were a sludge issue, then you should see higher than desirable phosphates.

So, my suggestion to you is to try what I'm trying: dose Nitrogen to get Nitrate values to 2 to 3ppm and dose Phosphorus to get Phosphate values up around 0.05ppm. As I mentioned in my last post, the fact that my skimmer is much more productive gives me a warm fuzzy that the good bacteria already in the system is getting to work as I give it food.

If you have concerns, just keep following along and I'll provide daily updates. I'll try to post some updated pics taken from the same spots in my display later today.
 

LARedstickreefer

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Oh, mine doesn't blow off the rocks either, but I noticed a few hidden patches of cyano when I cleaned my rocks last weekend. Considering one of the causes of cyano is poor flow, I gave things a boost.

Personally, I would suggest you stop adding more bacteria to your tank -- even if it's good bacteria. I'm convinced that these bacterial matts/patches are due to there being more bacteria than there are nutrients for the good bacteria to consume. If this a problem with too little nitrifying bacteria, I would suspect you would have ammonia problems. If this were a sludge issue, then you should see higher than desirable phosphates.

So, my suggestion to you is to try what I'm trying: dose Nitrogen to get Nitrate values to 2 to 3ppm and dose Phosphorus to get Phosphate values up around 0.05ppm. As I mentioned in my last post, the fact that my skimmer is much more productive gives me a warm fuzzy that the good bacteria already in the system is getting to work as I give it food.

If you have concerns, just keep following along and I'll provide daily updates. I'll try to post some updated pics taken from the same spots in my display later today.
Wouldn’t bacteria blow off the rocks?

My skimmer definitely pulls some terrible smelling stuff. It’s so bad it upsets my wife when I pull the cup to dump. It’s like a putrid stink bomb went off. Is this normal?

I used to dose both nitrates and phosphate. Just wound up with algae :)
 
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rsumner

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Wouldn’t bacteria blow off the rocks?
This is one characteristic of our symptom that I haven't been able to find much feedback from the community here on R2F about. Not only does this stuff not blow off the rock with a powerhead or turkey baster, but I have a hard time getting it to come off with a brush. Maybe with enough traffic on this thread, it will get some focus in someone's feed and we'll get feedback on this particular topic.

Maybe it's time for me to get a microscope....;Bookworm
 

vetteguy53081

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Time to go to war!!
You will have to lightly scrub with firm toothbrush, Reduce the whites which are quite bright, Increase blues. . . . . . increase water flow or add a powerhead, increase clean up crew ( turbo grazer, astrea snail , trochus snail) and even add a pencil urchin.
 

LARedstickreefer

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This is one characteristic of our symptom that I haven't been able to find much feedback from the community here on R2F about. Not only does this stuff not blow off the rock with a powerhead or turkey baster, but I have a hard time getting it to come off with a brush. Maybe with enough traffic on this thread, it will get some focus in someone's feed and we'll get feedback on this particular topic.

Maybe it's time for me to get a microscope....;Bookworm
Brushing doesn’t work for me either. Peroxide works but I’ve got corals on the rocks now, so can’t do this anymore.

Whatever this stuff is, nothing seems to eat it. It’s like some sort of super algae hybrid. I do know that it needs nutrients and light. Only problem is, so does my coral!

I thought it was bacteria until I noticed that the stuff doesn’t blow off, which is why I’m guessing it to be algae from the Upside Down.
 
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rsumner

rsumner

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I usually do my maintenance on Saturdays and yesterday was no different. It was time to give my pumps a cleaning so I gavemy return pump, skimmer pump, and wave makers a good soak in diluted muriatic acid. This brought the wave makers (Neptune WAVs) back to their full force of flow and got any remaining bacteria film off the pumps.

I did get a little nuisance algae growing on the back glass, on some of the sump baffles (under the fuge lighting), and within the top 1" layer of chaeto. I think I pushed the limits of phosphate with the dosing and probably should have stayed around the 0.03 ppm instead of 0.05 ppm.

As of this morning, there'f very little film left on my rocks in the display. I'm not going to call is complete success quite yet, but I will say that I'm confident this regiment is working based upon my visual inspection of the density of the bacterial film.
 
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rsumner

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Upon inspecting my tank yesterday afternoon, I felt like some of the white fuzzy hair was gaining traction again. I grabbed a course brush and scrubbed a few of the rocks that were easily accessible. I will say that I've been really lazy and haven't even tested Nitrate and Phosphate (let alone dose anything) since my water change this past Saturday. :-(.

I referred back to the response provided by @vetteguy53081 and decided to look at my lighting spectrum. I was using a variation of the Saxby program for my AI Hydra 26's which has quite a bit of white in it. I decided to switch to the AB+ port for the AI that BRS did a while back which has about 1/6th of the white. I like the visuals of it already and I'm hoping this helps.
 

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