Nitrates and Phosphates 0, but still algae growth

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Bramzor

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My tank:
36g (140l)
Clown fish and a jack in the box, 1 pompom crab, a few snails.
Lighting at 140PAR at peak time in the middle of the tank.
Have some acans, hammer coral etc and 1 unhappy monti (doesn't like algae).


I've been struggling with algae in my tank from the start. Undetectable numbers are bad, but for some reason I cannot keep them stable without growing lots of algae in the tank. First I used carbon dosing as a method to lower nitrates. Phosphates where always undetectable. But I learned that you need some phosphates in order for carbon to work so I started dosing PO4 so I had a measurable number and something for the Carbon to work. Result: BAD, Massive algae growth because they started to take up the PO4 so at the end dosing made no sense. Although it might be related to Trace elements dosage too. (I didn't do any water changes at this time because the goal was to not do them)

But I just want those algae gone so I did a few waterchanges when removing the algae, I've placed GFO together with an Algae scrubber/reactor as I believe these will grow all algae and not only specific types that use up 1 thing, removed all the algae which was A LOT and I'm battling them now daily for a week. The Algae scrubber did grow some algae in a short time but now it seems to have stopped. Algae in the tank are growing a bit but I keep fighting them so not sure what the growth is. And today I measured and I have 0 Nitrates and 0 Phosphates again.

So whats next? I could try to keep them at 0 for some time to kill algae (and hopefully not the corals) or start attempts to slowly let them go up? I'm not going to dose Carbon again at this time because it requires both nitrates and some phosphates and I believe that if I dose it now, it will only drop PH.
I could remove the GFO. But that might spike algae growth. I could put the algae scrubber at a minimum (3-4 h of light a day). Want to enable my auto feeder again just to make sure I have a very stable input of food, although half of the minimal dose by a DIY mod.

Or I could start dosing PO4 and NO3 but I personally think this would only allow more algae to grow. (Did it with PO4 and seemed to be a big fail)
 
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Cal_stir

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I would stop dosing, the algae is uptaking all the no3 and po4 that's why they are 0. you need to starve the algae out either by nutrients or light. A 3 or 4 day blackout should kill the algae, but as it dies it will pollute the tank so water changes with rodi water is a must, add nothing to the tank during the blackout, the fish and corals will be fine, bring the lights back on at half intensity then ramp them up slowly. OP here are going to tell you that 3 days is too long but I have done 4 days myself without any adverse effects.
 
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Bramzor

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Tried killing it with a blackout during a dinos event but it killed the dinos but left the algae intact. (which was 3 days)
Currently I know one way to kill them which is using NaOH in the tank (will give a small increase in PH though so can only use a 2ml a day). But it takes days to spot treat all spots which is ok, thats what I'm doing and spots that are treated will have no algae on them for weeks. Corals are fine with it as long as it does not touch them. But its heavier than water so you can put off pumps and dose it and leave it there for 30 min. Pumps will come up again and dilute it so its no longer visible. Also it comes back on other places so thinking about placing a fish that can help me all day. Maybe a smaller yellow tang. I know its not perfect and tangs should be placed in larger tanks, I know they can be happy if they are small and they could help a lot with algae.

The only small fish that eats algae (sometimes) is a spot tail blenny. So will be adding one of those soon.
 
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Rich Klein

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I was successful in hand removing the algae that could be pulled-off, then I beefed-up the number of snails and other clean-up crew, and finally used a tooth brush on small sections at at time over a few week period. After that, my refugium took-over and I haven't had a problem with GHA since. Seemed like getting at the roots of the GHA with the toothbrush did the trick. Just go slow.
 

OREGONIC

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I would recommend either a algae scrubber or refugium. It should out compete the algae in the display given you stay on top of removing the algae in the display. I had undetectable phosphates and high nitrates for a long time. I have to dose phosphates to keep at a detectable level and have started to dose nitrates as well to keep above 1ppm. My algae scrubber grows algae like crazy and I rarely have any sign of algae in my display.
 

BeejReef

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What kind of a light are you running? Your tank sounds like it's more sensitive to algae growth than most that have such low N and P.

2yo tank... rock nice and mature with a lovely coating of coraline?
 
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Justfebreezeit

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Get a tuxedo urchin and some more snails. Once you remove enough by hand they should be able to keep it back.
 
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Bramzor

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What kind of a light are you running? Your tank sounds like it's more sensitive to algae growth than most that have such low N and P.

2yo tank... rock nice and mature with a lovely coating of coraline?
No coraline. Probably got killed because of all the GHA. Running 2x 50W LED. About 150 PAR in the middle of the tank which is where the rocks stop. I'm dosing DSR (which is KH, Ca and Trace elements) but I already lowered the Trace elements. Yesterday I dosed some NO3 to get it to 0.5 but I already noticed algae growth, even though it has grown when lights where off.

Why does it grow when lights are off? Ambient light?
 
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Bramzor

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Get a tuxedo urchin and some more snails. Once you remove enough by hand they should be able to keep it back.
Have 50 snails but they are all 0.2 inch or smaller. Urchins always died in my tank. Maybe its because I didn't transfer them while keeping under water or because they were not that healthy, who knows. Have 1 snail rushing over it but it grows fast and long so not sure if snails will eat it anyway.
 

Justfebreezeit

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If you acclimated the urchin well and it didn't survive then you have a bigger problem imo.

And getting the right snails matter to. I've found a good combo of trochus, astrea, and ceriths work well. But my urchin does the heavy lifting.
 

BeejReef

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No coraline. Probably got killed because of all the GHA. Running 2x 50W LED. About 150 PAR in the middle of the tank which is where the rocks stop. I'm dosing DSR (which is KH, Ca and Trace elements) but I already lowered the Trace elements. Yesterday I dosed some NO3 to get it to 0.5 but I already noticed algae growth, even though it has grown when lights where off.

Why does it grow when lights are off? Ambient light?
It's more the spectrum of your light I wonder about than the pure output. Is it designed for corals, a diy, a blackbox.
Like, I had .1 phosphate and 25 Nitrate for 6 months and never had hair algae in my DT. Sure had a lot in the sump though, cuz that's where the red/blue light is.
 
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Bramzor

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It's more the spectrum of your light I wonder about than the pure output. Is it designed for corals, a diy, a blackbox.
Like, I had .1 phosphate and 25 Nitrate for 6 months and never had hair algae in my DT. Sure had a lot in the sump though, cuz that's where the red/blue light is.
Have 2x Aqua Medic Qube 50 LED for Reefs. Can only control Whites and Blues and Whites are on 60% and Blue on 80%. I have not a lot of corals in the tank, so I think that might be the difference. But why would it grow when lights are off? I did a waterchange yesterday together with a dosage of NO3 (to increase it to about 0.5) and also a very small dosage of AminoC. Algae are also growing on the sand so it might be Diatoms because of all the cleaning and the low nutrients?
 

BeejReef

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Have 2x Aqua Medic Qube 50 LED for Reefs. Can only control Whites and Blues and Whites are on 60% and Blue on 80%. I have not a lot of corals in the tank, so I think that might be the difference. But why would it grow when lights are off? I did a waterchange yesterday together with a dosage of NO3 (to increase it to about 0.5) and also a very small dosage of AminoC. Algae are also growing on the sand so it might be Diatoms because of all the cleaning and the low nutrients?
Sorry.. no idea why it would grow with lights off.
Those are reef lights, so that's good. You might try maxing out your blue channel and dropping whites a little, but it doesn't sound like that's your main issue.

A few pictures of the algae, your tank, and your rock would really help.
From what you've described, I would want to know why my rocks haven't grown or kept their coraline algae.
 
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