Nitrate to fight nuisance algae?

Randy Holmes-Farley

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If the bacteria were nitrate limited, then so would the algae be, so it's not clear to me dosing more is desirable. If you remove a nitrate limitation while trying to cause a phosphate limitation, you might accelerate growth of algae.

FWIW, I'm not certain that algae cannot take up and use organic carbon if presented with high enough amounts of easily metabolized organics.

At the very highest doses of vinegar that I experimented with in my tank (more than 400 ml per day in my 120 display with total system volume about 250-350 gallons), at which point I got haze water and other undesirable effects, the problem caulerpa racemosa in the display tank seemd to grow faster than ever.
 
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If the bacteria were nitrate limited, then so would the algae be, so it's not clear to me dosing more is desirable. If you remove a nitrate limitation while trying to cause a phosphate limitation, you might accelerate growth of algae.

FWIW, I'm not certain that algae cannot take up and use organic carbon if presented with high enough amounts of easily metabolized organics.

At the very highest doses of vinegar that I experimented with in my tank (more than 400 ml per day in my 120 display with total system volume about 250-350 gallons), at which point I got haze water and other undesirable effects, the problem caulerpa racemosa in the display tank seemd to grow faster than ever.

My carbon dosing is 4ml of DIY NOPOX. So a relatively low dose for a 400L tank.

I fully agree with your assessment. So does the question come down to who outcompetes who and what helps them do this? If so, does the Nitrate help my bacteria or nuisance algae or both? Maybe I should increase carbon dosing and skimming to further starve the algae...lots of knobs to tweak.

BTW, 24 hours after 1ppm dosage of Calcium Nitrate, my Nitrates are now measuring 0.5ppm...so off of zero.

I'll stick to the 1ppm dosing for now and see what happens. I'm hoping it pulls down the PO4 to limit the nuisance algae...but may just fuel it.
 

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My carbon dosing is 4ml of DIY NOPOX. So a relatively low dose for a 400L tank.

I fully agree with your assessment. So does the question come down to who outcompetes who and what helps them do this? If so, does the Nitrate help my bacteria or nuisance algae or both? Maybe I should increase carbon dosing and skimming to further starve the algae...lots of knobs to tweak.

BTW, 24 hours after 1ppm dosage of Calcium Nitrate, my Nitrates are now measuring 0.5ppm...so off of zero.

I'll stick to the 1ppm dosing for now and see what happens. I'm hoping it pulls down the PO4 to limit the nuisance algae...but may just fuel it.
You don’t want to fall in that rabbit hole, inorganic phosphates limitation will allow for the algae to grow also. The reason you may see algae thriving under low nitrates is mainly as the heterotrophic bacteria has been nitrate limited and can’t process ammonia effectively this leaves enough room for the algae to use that ammonia as a nitrogen source instead of the beneficial bacteria, if you limit your system with phosphates the same will happen as heterotrophic bacteria needs nitrates, phosphates and dissolved carbon to keep processing nutrients.
The only way to go around it is to keep all nutrients detectable at acceptable ranges.
 
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Reef Cleaners state that Pitho Crabs are very effective and better than Emeralds for bubble algae.


I would purchase a few Mexican turbos for the hair algae.
I second this, John recommended 5 pithos for my 300g reef and they have done nothing but good.
 

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I second this, John recommended 5 pithos for my 300g reef and they have done nothing but good.

Unfortunately, they seem to be out of stock everywhere. Salty Bottom has only 2 and ReefCleaners indicate Out of Season. I could sure use several between two tanks.
 
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I rehomed 2 rabbit fish from my 30 gal and boom caulerpa of a species that I didn't introduce and hair algae.
I put in a seahare and another very small foxface and the only algae I have in the DT now is a couple pearls of bubble algae. I have removed the seahare to my QT which I allowed to grow algae. Next move is the sea hare to my sump.
 
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Diatoms in the sand...prior to dosing, sand has been pristine.
Is it diatoms or dinoflagellates? Maybe you were late at adding the nitrates as it doesn’t cause diatoms, silica does.
 
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I had the same problem. 0 nitrates 0 phos dosed both to 1ppm nitrate and 0.03 phos for 2 months.Then some kind of reddish brown algae all over . I am just letting my tank stay at 0-0. It has been this way past 3 months. All the corals seem fine and on the contrary of what people say, the colors are really starting to pop. I am adding 33ml of Acropower a day though soooo maybe that has something to do with it. Anyways good luck on your ventures.:)
 
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So a quick update on the nuisance algae.

5 x Emerald Crab eliminated the bubble algae. Took a couple weeks...but great job!

Hair algae continues to be a nuisance.

I added 5 Pitho Crabs which immediately ate my decorative macro algae including large sea grass and Dragon's Breath. These guys do go after Macro Algae. I have also seen them eating the GHA now that the expensive stuff is no longer on the menu.

My NO3 has remained just under 1ppm.

I have increased skimming and added a PO4 absorbing pad to continue to reduce it. PO4 is generally under 0.1ppm and getting back to below 0.05...which is my target.

Manual removal of GHA with fingers and a toothbrush seems to work well...as where I'm able to do this the CUC is able to maintain.

I've also added a ton more CUC including 20 plus turbo snails.

I still feels this nuisance algae is a result of my nutrients moving above my targets.
 

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I’m glad you’re getting a handle on it. As for me keeping the 0-0 was a bad idea after all. I knew the risk as far as dinos and wouldn’t you know it I got them. They’re not the super deadly ones ( Ostreopsis ) and even if they were I’m confident my uv would take them out anyways. They are the large cell Amphidinium that stay locked in sand bed. I increased my nitrates and phos to 10 nit-0.04 phos and tried to bring a diatom explosion with silica, its still a work in process. One little note is that tiger conches don’t seem to be affected by the Dino’s at all, so I am considering buying more.

Btw, sorry to hear about the Pitho crabs taking out your macros, I bought 5 as well just to take out macros ( byropsis ). Love the Pitho crabs though haven’t bothered anything coral wise yet.

Good Luck on your ventures.
 
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I’m glad you’re getting a handle on it. As for me keeping the 0-0 was a bad idea after all. I knew the risk as far as dinos and wouldn’t you know it I got them. They’re not the super deadly ones ( Ostreopsis ) and even if they were I’m confident my uv would take them out anyways. They are the large cell Amphidinium that stay locked in sand bed. I increased my nitrates and phos to 10 nit-0.04 phos and tried to bring a diatom explosion with silica, its still a work in process. One little note is that tiger conches don’t seem to be affected by the Dino’s at all, so I am considering buying more.

Btw, sorry to hear about the Pitho crabs taking out your macros, I bought 5 as well just to take out macros ( byropsis ). Love the Pitho crabs though haven’t bothered anything coral wise yet.

Good Luck on your ventures.
Interestingly the Pitho Crabs also bury themselves in the sand...so not too hard to find and remove if needed.
 

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Interestingly the Pitho Crabs also bury themselves in the sand...so not too hard to find and remove if needed.
This kinda concerned me and still does to some extent because I am mainly concerned about them eating the byropsis which is higher in the tank. The byropsis is just starting to come back now so I guess we will see if they do that job well or not soon.
 
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This kinda concerned me and still does to some extent because I am mainly concerned about them eating the byropsis which is higher in the tank. The byropsis is just starting to come back now so I guess we will see if they do that job well or not soon.
Please keep us posted as to whether or not they take out you bryopsis . I’ve had great success with tuxedo urchins in the past and curious as to how well the pitho crabs do . Thanks :cool:
 
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This kinda concerned me and still does to some extent because I am mainly concerned about them eating the byropsis which is higher in the tank. The byropsis is just starting to come back now so I guess we will see if they do that job well or not soon.
They definitely climb to eat algae....
 

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