My Fight with Green Hair Algae - You CAN win!

Discussion in 'Algae (including nuisance algae and bacteria)' started by RobertP, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. RobertP

    RobertP Well-Known Member

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    Some of you might know I have been fighting Green Hair Algae (GHA) for more than a few months and now that I have basically won I have to share what I did to fix the issue.

    I guess a little background might help. My tank is a 130 gallon (48"w x 24"d x 26"h) with a 30" trigger sump that has been running for about a year now so it is still fairly young. Things were going well this Spring and was growing anything LPS and a few sps. Had a slight crash where I lost most of my sps and a few lps due to no doser but since then parameters have been pretty stable.

    Noticed some algae back in May but really didn't think much of it. However, in July it really started getting bad and was very distracting as you can see.

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  2. RobertP

    RobertP Well-Known Member

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    So first thing I did was research a bunch. I had been feeding twice a day with flake and pellets in the morning and frozen in the evening. Seems that was excessive so I cut back. I was doing 20% (30 gal) water changes every other week. Parameters were ok....0 phosphates and 8 nitrates. Read a lot and got lots of different suggestions. I believe the phosphates were all locked up in the GHA! So I cut back on feeding.

    Here the tank is in September...under the blue lights you can see how bad the problem was. Needless to say I was starting to get frustrated.

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  3. RobertP

    RobertP Well-Known Member

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    About that same time I decided to give Fluconazole a try since I was not certain if this was byprosis or GHA. Well of course it did not work because it is GHA. Also tried PhosphateRX but it did nothing since the GHA already had it locked up. Was running GFO the entire time and still not getting results. Nitrates were down to .75 and phosphates were showing at .03...again these are excellent but just not seeing results.

    Read about NoPOx and started dosing 8 ml per day because I was at my last nerve already!!! These pictures were taken in early October right before NoPox treatment started.
    I pulled out a few of the rocks and took my garden hose to it and blew off the GHA. This worked better than I thought it would but no way I could get all the rocks out. I had done this several times previously but it just grew back.

    I should also mention that right now was when I had an idea late one night. Yeah my brain has a bad habit of waking up in the middle of the night with an idea and if I try to go back to sleep I just dream about the idea over and over. So I figured I better try it. I took my old 1/2" python hole and pulled off the ends and put on end in the sump and clamped the hose in place so it couldn't fall off. Then take the other end and start a siphon. This worked very well because I could leave all my pumps on and this siphon could run for hours. The smaller 1/2" hose created a nice suction and the GHA would NOT come off the rocks but it would get sucked into the hose and I could put my thumb over the end and rip out the GHA!!! First day it took me and hour and my back was killing me so made it a point to do this at LEAST once a week. Also kicked up to weekly 20% water changes.

    Should also point out that I also added an algae blenny and a starry blenny. The starry eats SOME algae but also food. The Algae blenny tore into the GHA but prefers the dying GHA and is always picking on the rocks where I cannot see anything. He is always a fat little guy. Both of them are an absolute pleasure to watch!!!

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    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
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  4. RobertP

    RobertP Well-Known Member

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    You can see in some of the pictures from last month that the GHA started turning white which means that it was starting to die off!

    Oh I also should mention that with the hose siphon I had a net in the sump to catch all the GHA so I could throw it in the trash. I read where one of the experts (Sanjay?) uses an old sock. I tried this today and it was great. I had to find a clean old sock with no holes (not so easy lol) and rubberband it to the end and catch all the gha in it. Then I turn the sock inside out in the since to check that I didnt accidentally catch one of my CUC.

    So here we are today after starting NoPox and my 500 ml bottle is almost finished and things are looking SO MUCH BETTER. NoPox, weekly water changes, and sucking out the GHA and it is defeated! The weekly water changes were probably no required because my parameters were fine but since I had lots of GHA floating around after a suck-session I would change 20%.

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  5. RobertP

    RobertP Well-Known Member

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    Parameters today are phosphates are .02 and nitrates are .25. My chaeto and other sump algae is not happy but it is hanging on slightly. When this bottle of NoPox is gone I will let it run out so that my nitrates hang around 5-8. I will keep up with 20% water changes but want to go back to every other week as long as nothing is spiking. I can tell all the LPS in the tank is not happy about the low nitrates so I want them a little higher.

    What have I learned? If you see GHA get on it immediately. My blennys will probably beat me to it but still want to stay after it. If I have a problem hit it with nopox and siphon it off!!!
    Hope this helps others.
    Thank.
     
  6. Big G

    Big G Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Nice cleanup tip. I'll give it a try with my much smaller, but wide spread GHA outbreak. Thanks, RobertP! :)
     
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  7. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Photo of the Month Award

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    Scrub and cuc. Nutrients are just another tool. What they don't eat we scrub.
    Also algaes phase through the tank.
    Congratulations on kicking its green hairy alge.
     
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  8. RobertP

    RobertP Well-Known Member

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    Should also mentioned a few other things I tried. I got an algae nudibranch along with some additional snails to target GHA during this issue. I saw the nudibranch a couple days after adding him and never saw it again. It might still be there but cannot find it.
    -Also picked up a sea hare after research and a LFS suggestion but it only lived about two weeks and died. I blame the LFS since I cannot seem to keep their snails either. Not sure where they are buying them. I never saw it eating GHA even once.
    -Got a tuxedo urchin and not sure it eats GHA though some claim they do. He crawls all over the rocks and while it might eat it, he is just very cool to watch. I figure it eats some type of algae and cannot be a bad thing.
    -Fighting Conch was added to help clean up the sand. Had quite a bit on the sand and while I am not certain he was the one eating GHA off the sand, it really looks wonderful now.

    Just so very happy that crap is gone and my tank look great again. Yes, there is still just a bit on the overflows but it is not long for this world. You can see I also changed lights a couple weeks ago. Went with a 6 bulb ATI T5 with 4 blue+ and 2 coral+ bulbs. Was able to mount my Neptune lunar lights on the back and now there is a nice clean look to the lights that I did not have previously. The whole tank just looks great again!!!
     
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  9. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Photo of the Month Award

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    Nice work! It's a constant chess game. Every game is different and ever evolving.
     
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  10. kinetic

    kinetic Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    pH acclimation is key for Sea Hares, and any invert really. LFS could just dump these animals straight into tanks without proper acclimation, and thus already on their way out when they get to your tank. Takes a few weeks IME for them to die if that’s the case. Glad the battle is won!
     
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  11. DeepBlueSomething

    DeepBlueSomething Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    @RobertP
    Great summary and so glad to hear you are coming out ahead! I am dealing with a similar but limited GHA outbreak -- some of your pics look eerily similar (big happy tufts springing up from under rock edges!).

    I am pulling every other day, but just this morning realized that I might be best off to just grab the heaviest concentrated rocks and blast them once out of the tank. Of course in addition to the GHA they have the most diverse life (sponges, corals, worms) but I don't want the GHA to get ahead.

    Thanks for sharing -- which LFS do you frequent in Houston?
     
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  12. RobertP

    RobertP Well-Known Member

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    I was able to blast the rocks that had little life on them. One had new zoa that my wife just got so I covered it with my hand while blasting. Another rock had xenia and believe it or not it lived through the ordeal. I can't seem to kill xenia and even started fragging it. I figure if I cant kill it I might as well see if I can sell or trade some of it. lol

    Hey I know a lot of guys say you have to just keep pulling it out and let the CUC do their job but that was not what I found. I had to get the nitrates near zero to really have an impact. That was the reason for dosing NoPox and it really made the difference for me. After posting these pictures today I was watching my foxface and naso tear the gha off my cloves and the starry blenny was working on the last of the gha on the overflows. Once you get it down to a certain level the CUC can keep it in check but I had to get it to that level first.

    I am up near The Woodlands and my favorite LFS is FJW but it is about 45 minutes to get there. Dennis knows his stuff and everything I get from him is in excellent shape. Fish Gallery in the woodlands is where we go the most because they are close and they will take my chaeto in trade. I go to Fish R Us on 242 and have had great success with their fish, not so much with their inverts. Also get to That Aquarium Place since it is only about 15 min away.
     
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  13. DeepBlueSomething

    DeepBlueSomething Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Thanks for sharing -- I am new to reefing AND on the South Side in Clear Lake -- So I need to be strategic when heading to the North Side. Are you going to the MARSH frag swap this upcoming Saturday? I plan to be there for my first one -- so thankful for R2R and MARSH -- lots of great help and information!
     
  14. RobertP

    RobertP Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately no. We already have plans with the family to go to the Renaissance festival. I would like to make one of the frag swaps soon. I do need to get on the marsh site more often.
     
  15. Tim Olson

    Tim Olson Love to Learn! R2R Supporter Partner Member 2018

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    Thank you for taking the time to write this thread. It's great to hear your story, since so many of us are having the same GHA battle. I'm getting toward the end of my battle, I hope, by setting up a refugium and lots of manual removal.

    :)
     
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  16. DeepBlueSomething

    DeepBlueSomething Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Enjoy the Ren Fair - sure it will be a great time as well. Hope we cross paths another time. Cheers & Gig 'Em!
     
  17. JAMSOURY

    JAMSOURY Well-Known Member

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    Can you please link me to the NoPox you used?! Having the same issue. My parameters are great too, just having algae out of nowhere. I️ also don’t have fish in the tank because of an ich outbreak so I️ haven’t been feeding anything in.
     
  18. brandon429

    brandon429 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    nice job. in every algae thread ive ever been in, manual removal action was positioned as action #1 above else. the crowd typically wanted water-only actions, nutrient management alone...but we like this forced out angle however one wields it

    There are many different ways to apply follow up actions and your set worked. I really like reading how in one way or another human grazing was key in winning back a tank over algae. its a factor that occurs in massive algae correction threads nicely done really a gem here.
     
  19. RobertP

    RobertP Well-Known Member

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  20. Monkichi

    Monkichi Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    Nice write up. I am also battling GHA. This got me thinking. When I scrub my rocks I use a long dish bush and a toothbrush zip tied to a wooden dowel, put on some mesh fiter socks, crank the vortechs up to 100% NTM and start scrubbing. The junk blows all over and eventually tank will clear with a good amount caught in the filer socks. Rinse socks, repeat until happy or tired. Is there any real threat to the scrubbed off GHA that may be getting stuck in the tank and not blown into the overflows. May be a dumb questions, but can it reattach and cause more problems, I have been doing this for a long time and it keeps growing back. Wondering if the siphon method you used is much much better than what I'm doing or If I just haven't got my nutrients and algae phases balanced yet. Tank is 5 years old, but I feel like it got rebooted with a velvet outbreak this summer. All of this is going on while fallow, so very little food added.
     
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