Is a protein skimmer the best way to rid myself of the brown stuff on the sand between weekly water changes?

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mistergray

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I didn't think I was going to get a protein skimmer at first, but I'm wondering if I need one. Googling has let me know that what I'm seeing is natural after your first tank cycling. I don't mind cleaning the sand, but I typically do that once a week when doing my water change. The brown algae (i'm assuming that's what it is according to google) is already showing back up on my sand 2 days after my water change. My question is, is this something simply resolved by getting a skimmer or should I tackle this another way? Cleaning the sand every 2 days doesn't seem like an ideal solution. I'm open to any suggestions.

Side note: How in the world did people survive without the internet (this forum) and successfully run a saltwater tank!? Lol! I couldn't imagine doing this without you all. I don't know a single person around me that owns a saltwater tank.

brown algae.PNG
 

Wannabereefvet

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I didn't think I was going to get a protein skimmer at first, but I'm wondering if I need one. Googling has let me know that what I'm seeing is natural after your first tank cycling. I don't mind cleaning the sand, but I typically do that once a week when doing my water change. The brown algae (i'm assuming that's what it is according to google) is already showing back up on my sand 2 days after my water change. My question is, is this something simply resolved by getting a skimmer or should I tackle this another way? Cleaning the sand every 2 days doesn't seem like an ideal solution. I'm open to any suggestions.

Side note: How in the world did people survive without the internet (this forum) and successfully run a saltwater tank!? Lol! I couldn't imagine doing this without you all. I don't know a single person around me that owns a saltwater tank.

brown algae.PNG
A protein skimmer removes organics and proteins from the water column. So it won’t actually do anything to stop diatoms from spreading if that’s the issue you’re having.

The reason those pop up is because a tank is either new and doesn’t have enough competing microfauna to battle it back, or they can seemingly spring up out of nowhere. But in those cases it’s my belief that there’s usually something else going on that gave them the edge and ability to occupy space.

My go-to way to battle diatoms is a three part method that I do all at the same time and it has always worked for me.

1. Get a UV sterilizer. Some say this works, some say it doesn’t, I say it can’t hurt and if it will sterilize them and prevent spawning, great. It works for a bunch of other things too.
2. Buy a bunch of corals (Reef) buy corraline crusted live rock (FOWLR). Corals come from all over the world so they have an immeasurable amount of microfauna on them that all want the nutrients in your tank and will outcompete the diatoms. Live rock may not be globally sourced, but it’s got tons of beneficial algae and bacteria to it, so it’ll do the same thing.
3. (Now this ones my own method) add a TON of copepods. All different kinds to the tank. When I had a dyno outbreak I was adding pods for other reasons (before I came up with the three part method), and in the absence of edible algae growth and plankton, I saw them covering the diatoms that had been growing. I can only assume they were eating them, and they were gone the same week. Coincidence? I think not. But there’s no formal studies on this.

good luck!
 
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HB AL

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What kind of water are you using for top offs and water changes? Your issue sounds like diatoms, most likely coming from your source water. If it indeed is diatoms its not that big of a deal like types of algae's that can grow quickly out of control. It's quite possible your introducing the diatoms via your freshwater source. Finding the source and eliminating/reducing it will eradicate the diatoms and you won't see diatom covered sand. And yes, add a protein skimmer it will perform a # of functions beneficial to all of the tank inhabitants and reduce excess nutrients and such that can cause excess algae, diatoms etc...
 
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Suohhen

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Yep as you can see from the first two responses there are a ton of possibilities. Details are key to us being able to help. Most ask for parameters, however that is a rabbit hole that turns the whole conversation into a search for the validity of your testing and an argument about what nitrate and phosphate numbers truly mean. What I like to know is how long the tank has been running, how long you've been in the hobby, your general level of confidence in your knowledge and ability, what filtration you have (live rock, sand, coral, filter socks ect.), also if you have the numbers and a confidence in their validity feel free to share and give details as to the kits used and why you are confident.
 
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mistergray

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What kind of water are you using for top offs and water changes? Your issue sounds like diatoms, most likely coming from your source water. If it indeed is diatoms its not that big of a deal like types of algae's that can grow quickly out of control. It's quite possible your introducing the diatoms via your freshwater source. Finding the source and eliminating/reducing it will eradicate the diatoms and you won't see diatom covered sand. And yes, add a protein skimmer it will perform a # of functions beneficial to all of the tank inhabitants and reduce excess nutrients and such that can cause excess algae, diatoms etc...
I currently use Imagitarium Pacific Sea Water. Planned on switching soon though.
 
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mistergray

mistergray

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Yep as you can see from the first two responses there are a ton of possibilities. Details are key to us being able to help. Most ask for parameters, however that is a rabbit hole that turns the whole conversation into a search for the validity of your testing and an argument about what nitrate and phosphate numbers truly mean. What I like to know is how long the tank has been running, how long you've been in the hobby, your general level of confidence in your knowledge and ability, what filtration you have (live rock, sand, coral, filter socks ect.), also if you have the numbers and a confidence in their validity feel free to share and give details as to the kits used and why you are confident.
- Running since 3/31/21
- This is my first tank
- I have live rock, live sand, filter floss, chemi pure elite, seachem matrix
- Not sure I have confidence in my kits. I have confidence that I've done them correctly to the directions standards, but previous posts I've put up with my results have had several question the tests I used and if they trust those types of tests (thread here). EVERY time I do my tests I get the exact same results in the attached thread.
 
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mistergray

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A protein skimmer removes organics and proteins from the water column. So it won’t actually do anything to stop diatoms from spreading if that’s the issue you’re having.

The reason those pop up is because a tank is either new and doesn’t have enough competing microfauna to battle it back, or they can seemingly spring up out of nowhere. But in those cases it’s my belief that there’s usually something else going on that gave them the edge and ability to occupy space.

My go-to way to battle diatoms is a three part method that I do all at the same time and it has always worked for me.

1. Get a UV sterilizer. Some say this works, some say it doesn’t, I say it can’t hurt and if it will sterilize them and prevent spawning, great. It works for a bunch of other things too.
2. Buy a bunch of corals (Reef) buy corraline crusted live rock (FOWLR). Corals come from all over the world so they have an immeasurable amount of microfauna on them that all want the nutrients in your tank and will outcompete the diatoms. Live rock may not be globally sourced, but it’s got tons of beneficial algae and bacteria to it, so it’ll do the same thing.
3. (Now this ones my own method) add a TON of copepods. All different kinds to the tank. When I had a dyno outbreak I was adding pods for other reasons (before I came up with the three part method), and in the absence of edible algae growth and plankton, I saw them covering the diatoms that had been growing. I can only assume they were eating them, and they were gone the same week. Coincidence? I think not. But there’s no formal studies on this.

good luck!
My tank has been running since 3/31/21, I think it's too early for me to add coral. Well, that's what everyone tells me. Lol! I did see a thread last week on live rock from a place called Gulf Live Rock. I am interested in purchasing REAL live rock vs the life rock that I have but I wasn't sure if my tank is too new for real live rock. Feel free to add your thoughts on that.

I'll have to do some research on UV sterilizers and copepods. I've been researching up to my eyeballs. Mimicking the ocean in a little glass cube is hard work. Lol!
 
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Tamberav

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A protein skimmer will not solve these problems. If it did we would all have pristine tanks!

It’s likely diatoms and needs to burn itself out by using up all the silica. Also if you don’t keep the sand stirred or clean now and again it will likely grow nasties in time.
 
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lpsouth1978

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My tank has been running since 3/31/21, I think it's too early for me to add coral. Well, that's what everyone tells me. Lol! I did see a thread last week on live rock from a place called Gulf Live Rock. I am interested in purchasing REAL live rock vs the life rock that I have but I wasn't sure if my tank is too new for real live rock. Feel free to add your thoughts on that.

I'll have to do some research on UV sterilizers and copepods. I've been researching up to my eyeballs. Mimicking the ocean in a little glass cube is hard work. Lol!
The tank has only been running for 3 weeks. Diatoms are a VERY common occurrence in the early days of a tank and usually burn themselves out. Sometimes in a few days, others a few weeks, but the will go away on their own.
 
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HB AL

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I currently use Imagitarium Pacific Sea Water. Planned on switching soon though.
I meant freshwater, rodi, tap, etc...? I would also switch to another saltwater mix than the current one you use, it could be introducing the diatoms along with your freshwater source.
 
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lpsouth1978

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I meant freshwater, rodi, tap, etc...? I would also switch to another saltwater mix than the current one you use, it could be introducing the diatoms along with your freshwater source.
He is not using a salt mix. This is bottled sea water (premixed). It is also probably the most expensive way to get saltwater.
 
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HB AL

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He is not using a salt mix. This is bottled sea water (premixed). It is also probably the most expensive way to get saltwater.
Ya that was obvious when he posted the pic of the box of saltwater. It just added another possible place to look as that "seawater" could be causing the issue and not his freshwater source.
 
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MichaelReefer

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My tank has been running since 3/31/21, I think it's too early for me to add coral. Well, that's what everyone tells me. Lol! I did see a thread last week on live rock from a place called Gulf Live Rock. I am interested in purchasing REAL live rock vs the life rock that I have but I wasn't sure if my tank is too new for real live rock. Feel free to add your thoughts on that.

I'll have to do some research on UV sterilizers and copepods. I've been researching up to my eyeballs. Mimicking the ocean in a little glass cube is hard work. Lol!

If you're tank has only been running for less than a month, you are in the ugly stage. It is normal for it to look bad. You will have all kind of stages. Hair algae, Dinos, Diatoms, cyano; and the list goes on. Once you get past that year, then it starts going real good.
 
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mistergray

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A protein skimmer will not solve these problems. If it did we would all have pristine tanks!

It’s likely diatoms and needs to burn itself out by using up all the silica. Also if you don’t keep the sand stirred or clean now and again it will likely grow nasties in time.
I know this is going to sound silly but is there some special technique to stirring the sand?
 
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