Live phyto overdose leads to cloudy water?

Discussion in 'Algae Barn' started by kinetic, Oct 22, 2017.

  1. kinetic

    kinetic Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I have a Red Sea Reefer 170 with about 42 total gallons of water. For 3 weeks now, I've been dosing about 15-20ml of the AlgaeBarn live phyto that came with my 5280 pods combo pack. A week ago, I started seeing my water get a bit cloudy, and today it's totally brown/green.

    I've tested all my parameters (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 5ppm nitrates, 0.02ppm phos) and things look good. I have a chaeto reactor running as well, and just a bit of brown algae film on my glass and a bit on the rocks.

    But it's pretty hard to see into the tank today, and it's just been progressively getting worse. I stopped dosing phyto for a day now. The reason why I wonder why it might be live phyto, is because my tank is FULL of copepods now. For awhile I didn't see anything, but now i can see them all over the glass and in my sand during the day. Definitely booming population.

    Anyone else have this happen?
     
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  2. AlgaeBarn

    AlgaeBarn Active Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Hi there! Happy to help with this. How old is the tank and what do you currently have in it livestock wise? Thank you!

    Lan
     
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  3. WesleyC

    WesleyC Active Member

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    Yea, it happens. Your phyto is feeding everything from the pods to every other micro organism in the tank. Don't worry about it too much. Just like bacteria boom, it will clear up in a few days.
     
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  4. kinetic

    kinetic Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    3 months. When it was getting cloudy, just 1 geometric pygmy hawkfish, 1 BTA, 10 cerith and 10 trochus (from you guys), 5280 pods. Recently just added clownfish, but the cloudiness started before they came in. The rock was cycled for a month before the tank was setup as well. It was dead marcorock, and dry sand, seeded with Dr. Tim's and Bio Spira, dosed 2ppm ammonia daily until I hit 0/0 on ammonia and nitrites within 10 hours of dosing, and that was quite awhile ago. Tank has been stable since.

    I've been in the hobby for a long time, multiple tanks, this never happened. I also never dosed live phyto, and my pod population is huge, so I'm just guessing that's what it is. Could completely be unrelated. Just wanted to see if this was a common occurrence for those who may have overdosed on phyto or something. But maybe it's not by the sound of it.

    How do you know it will clear up in a few days? It's now been a week, and it's just getting worse.
     
  5. TerraFerma

    TerraFerma Member

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    I had the opposite effect when I was dosing their live phyto for a few months - crystal clear water. What color of cloudy is your tank? Brown or green?
     
  6. kinetic

    kinetic Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    For a long time, my water was crystal clear while using it. So it might not be because of that.

    Color is more brown, but could be argued to have a tiny bit of green.
     
  7. kinetic

    kinetic Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    not proud, but here's a photo below. In real life, it's actually harder to see through the tank.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. WesleyC

    WesleyC Active Member

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    Because I culture phyto and pods myself. Every so often, even I don't need the phyto, I have to dump some of the phyto culture and restart to keep them healthy. Sometimes when I dump a whole 2L bottle of it into my tank, it create a boom, but it goes away in a few days.

    The thing is, you put more phyto in there, more pods and more micro organism grow. And they will all eat up the phyto. When the phyto are all eat up, they all die. So, they always just balance out.

    If you don't like the cloudiness, you can run the skimmer a little wet, and also throw a bag of active carbon into your filter socks. It will clear up a bit faster.

    By looking at your tank picture, it does look like phyto. If your phyto are/were all alive, they would absorb the nutrient in your water and multiply as well. It is a very health cycle. :)

    Too bad your don't have any coral, when you have micro organism boom, your coral would be super happy as well.
     
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  9. TerraFerma

    TerraFerma Member

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    Ah....I don't see anything in your tank that would consume phyto (unless you have a rocking refugium down below). . You may just be adding more than the tank's bioload can take down. Cut dosage massively and revisit the issue when your tank is heavier on corals and inverts.
     
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  10. kinetic

    kinetic Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I hear what you are all saying. Though I don't think I gave enough details.

    1. I'm skimming really wet, actually that's all my skimmer can do right now
    2. I run BRS ROX 0.8 in a BRS mini reactor. Just changed it a few days ago to try to help.
    3. I have an AquaMaxx XL reactor with chaeto running grow lights (see my build thread)
    4. My system handles plenty, as far as I can tell. I was dosing 2ppm of ammonia even prior to introducing anything remotely alive, and my ammonia and nitrites drop to 0 well within 10 hours. Every day I test ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and phosphate, and they are 0, 0, 5, and 0.02ppm respectively. I'm feeding a quarter mysis cube and a few pellets daily.
    5. I'm using a 5 stage RO/DI with pretty new filters, including one for chloramines (which is what my utilities uses in the water). TDS coming in is 22, TDS out is 0. I tested all parameters, like phosphates in the clean RO/DI water mixed with fresh salt (aquaforest reef salt) and numbers were 0.

    Macro algae is growing, probably doubled in two weeks.
    Brown algae grows on the glass every 2-3 days.
    10 trochus and 10 cerith snails happily keeping the rock clean
    Tons and tons of copepods as I said

    At this point I think it's just a bacteria bloom. But it's been a week+ now, and it is just getting worse. I'm not dosing anything anymore. Just enough food to keep the fish (and inverts) alive. I ordered a UV sterilizer (Green Killing Machine) at 9 watts. I'm going to run it for a few days and see if that helps. I'll do massive 40% water changes daily as well. I've been doing anything from 10% to 50% every day, with zero progress. Today I did 50%, and within an hour the cloudiness came right back and I literally can't see my rock anymore. What the heck.
     
  11. WesleyC

    WesleyC Active Member

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    That's very interesting. I have 2 pod culture tank. One using "dirty" water from the main fish tank just for experiment. When I first set it up, I dump some live phyto in there and have it start replicating inside the tank. I put very little pods in there. Just want to see how it goes. The water got greener and greener for a few weeks until the population of the pods (and other micro organism since it's "dirty" water) to catch up. Finally they ate them all and the water became crystal clear. It take quite a few weeks because of small amount of microorganism.

    This is the "dirty" pod tank before the pods populate catch up:

    [​IMG]

    Since you have "Tons and tons" of copepods, it should have eaten them within a day. 2 Days the most.

    This is my "clean" pod tank. It always finish up the phyto within 1-2 days.



    Back to your issue. One, maybe your phyto had died and became pollutant itself? So, pods are not eating it and even get your water dirtier. Or, you may not have as much pods and microorganism as you think? Just some possibilities.

    To fix your problem, if you really want the water clear up asap, just massive water change then, if your microorganism is not eating whatever you have in the water.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2017
  12. kinetic

    kinetic Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Thanks for sharing that @WesleyC ! I should take one of my old tanks and just use it to culture live phyto =)

    I'm thinking it's not phyto that's in the water. A couple reasons:
    1. Big water changes aren't helping
    2. Water is pretty brown, not green
    3. The only copepod amounts I'm used to are from my previous couple tanks, and what I have now is way more than I've ever seen. But it might not be that much relative to other systems? All I can say is, the tank seems really happy other than the visibility right now
    My live phyto could be dead. Not sure how to tell. Doesn't smell all that bad. I've been refrigerating it. But when I dosed it, my phosphates and nitrates didn't really go up (though that could be because it was getting eaten pretty fast), so I don't think it was polluting it as a cause for the cloudiness.

    I'm hoping my UV Sterilizer comes today from Amazon. It's a cheapo green killing machine (9 watts), but it'll hopefully be fine (as long as it's not defective) for this one treatment. If it helps and this cloudiness comes back when I turn it off, maybe I'll need a more permanent solution.
     
  13. WesleyC

    WesleyC Active Member

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    Well, since your tank is not that big, how about a 100% water change? That would certainly clear it up. :) I'm not kidding neither. I did that to one of my abandoned tank.
     
  14. kinetic

    kinetic Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I know, I thought about that. I don't currently have a container that can hold so much water to do the change. At most I can do a 90% change, which I guess would be good.
     
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  15. AlgaeBarn

    AlgaeBarn Active Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Hi @kinetic! Thank you for this information and for the photo. There is nothing, other than the pods, in your tank to consume the phyto so what is most likely happening here is that you have started your own phyto culture in the tank meaning it is reproducing faster than it can be consumed or removed. This is not a bad thing as it means you will have a ton of pods since they are now basically at an all you can eat buffet. Other than the poor aesthetics of the green water there is nothing to worry about here as far as the tank is concerned and it is easy to fix when you are ready. In fact I would personally rather have a phyto bloom in my new tank than a nuissance algae bloom as phytoplankton provides a better food source for the copepod population you are trying to establish at this time- which is the best time do to so before any/many predators are introduced. If the phyto were not there, something else like a nuisance algae would most likely be growing instead since they are both types of marine algae and both like/need environments containing nitrate, phosphate and light among other things. This is the equivalent of "the new tank uglies" but instead of the nuisance algae taking advantage of the nutrient rich new tank environment, the phyto is out-competing them for these nutrients- which is actually one of the main benefits of dosing live phytoplankton.

    Our OceanMagik Live Phytoplankton blend is able to do this because it is free floating in the water column and able to reproduce very quickly. Therefore it has a much higher chance of coming into contact with the nitrate and phosphate molecules first compared to the other types of algae which are usually bound to the substrate and stationary. Kind of like if you and I were in a room trying to swat a fly and I was allowed to run around the room while you were forced to remain seated in a chair. My mobility greatly increases the likelihood of me getting the fly before you and the same concept applies here when talking about suspended vs substrate bound marine algae. In a way, what is happening to you here is a real world example of everything we claim about the benefits of our live phyto being true. In order for it to grow it must consume nitrate and phosphate from the water column, leaving less left over for the nuisance algae and reducing its growth by out-competing it for the limited nutrients available in your new ecosystem. Instead of the new tank uglies and lots of nuisance algae which is very common, you have a phyto bloom because live phytoplankton is a more fit competitor in this environment and it is able to effectively out-compete these competitors preventing/severely limiting them from being able to acquire the nutrients they need to reproduce rapidly and possibly take over in the tank. The fact that I do not see much or any nuisance algae in your tank provides the evidence needed to support what I am saying here. I have also cycled this same tank using our pods and phyto and experienced a very similar situation. Phytoplankton is also much easier to get rid of compared to substrate bound nuisance algae since it is suspended in the water column and can be removed via consumption, the skimmer, or a water change.

    In comparison, a "dead" or preserved phyto product that is not alive can only decompose in the water column and can not reproduce or compete with other types of algae for the same nutrients. This means that all the extra "dead" phyto that wasn't immediately consumed would be decomposing in the water column until it was removed and is now potentially contributing to the nitrate and phosphate levels in the system- potentially aiding in more nuisance algae growth. This is why I prefer live phytoplankton over the more concentrated "dead" or preserved products.

    To correct this situation, please turn off the lights for a few days and skim heavy until the water clears up. If the tank is in a well-lit room, you may need to cover the tank to block the light. Removing light from the equation will stop the phyto from reproducing in your tank, allowing for what is there now to be consumed or removed by the skimmer. You should also stop dosing during this time. This should clear up the water and solve the issue. A small water change of 5-10gal would not hurt either and would speed things up if you are in a rush.

    Moving forward, I would suggest dosing less phyto, start with 1/2 what you were using, until you have some more phyto-consuming livestock in there to prevent another "phyto bloom" from turning your water green again. Once your tank is more established, you can increase the live phyto dose as needed and the water will not turn green because there are now more organisms to consume it before it can reproduce in your tank to the point of tinting the water green. Keep in mind that if you have light, phosphate, and nitrate present in the tank you have an ideal environment for algae growth. If you eliminate the live phyto as the primary consumer/ competitor for these nutrients, you will create an opportunity for nuisance algae to gain traction. This would lead to the more typical "new tank syndrome" that most of us are familiar with.

    Hopefully this clears things up and provides a good explanation of what is going on biologically in your tank. Please let me know if you have any other questions, I am happy to help. Thanks!

    Lan
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2017
  16. kinetic

    kinetic Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Thanks for all that information Lan. Maybe one day we'll have to recreate catching a fly in the room scene ;)

    I went through one phase of "new tank uglies" already, but I've been super proactive at keeping phosphates/nitrates down. There was almost no chance of any nuisance algae hitchhiking on anything, so I've been lucky. There's plenty of brown film algae everywhere, but thank goodness (knock on wood) on GHA or bubble etc.

    Since I last posted, I did a huge 90% water change and added a UV sterilizer. I know it sucks to kill all that bacteria, but I'm just a bit worried it might not be phyto and it could be a bacterial bloom that'll kill the dissolved oxygen in the water. I'm running my skimmer full blast, and a ton of water surface agitation.

    After the huge water change and running the UV for a day, the tank is already much clearer. I'll probably start dosing more phyto again soon at half the dosage and stop the UV sterilizer. I guess I could've been more patient for it to figure itself out, but couldn't shake the worry of dissolved oxygen.

    Thanks again for all the help! That's probably the best response I've ever gotten.
     
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  17. AlgaeBarn

    AlgaeBarn Active Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    @kinetic, no problem at all and thank you! If the tank was more cloudy white/brown than it was green then I think you are probably right about the bacterial bloom being the main issue rather than the phyto growth- a phyto bloom usually looks more like the tank @WesleyC posted but I did see a tint of green in your photo too so I thought I would explain that scenario just incase. I get pretty excited when someone else has a possible phyto bloom in their new tank because i've been experimenting with this method for a while now on my own tanks and the ones at the office with great results. I've done it three separate times now and I find it to be a very effective way to combat the new tank uglies and establish a dense copepod population that sets the tank up for long term success. Nothing like a constantly available food source to really get your pods breeding lol.

    I'm glad to hear things are getting better after the big water change. Please keep me updated on the tank!

    Lan
     
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  18. TerraFerma

    TerraFerma Member

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    I think my explanation is shorter than Algae Barn's :)
     
  19. kinetic

    kinetic Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Different approaches ;)
     
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