Pulling my hair out with hair algae - Is this a Phosphate issue?

Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry by Randy Holmes-Farley' started by McPikie, May 16, 2018 at 10:17 AM.

  1. McPikie

    McPikie Member

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    My tank is 225l, around 60gal. Lately I have been suffering from a lot of hair algae growing on the rockwork, which my purple tang seems to ignore and my snails prefer to go up and down the glass. I've been trying to remove by hand as much as I can, but get the feeling when picking it off, it's spreading further around the tank.

    I don't think I over feed, putting in a mixture of frozen and flake a couple of times daily, but only as much as the fish will eat within a minute.

    I use Tropic Marin Pro-Reef salt, and I buffer my Kh up to 8 with bicarbonate of soda along with weekly water changes. I have also recently gone back to filter socks after a breakout of flatworm in my sump, so had to dump a nice big bunch of cheato. I replaced with calupera, but that went wrong, turning the water all milky with the refuge going green. I've since cleaned this all out and now have a fresh batch of cheato lit by a 165w chinese full spectrum, but on 20% power.

    Checking my levels lastnight, nitrate was undetectable on a Salifert kit, Phos in tank showing 0.00 on hanna checker, yet the algae continues to grow, and I even had diatoms in my skimmer and all over my MP10 cases. I use ROWA in my reactor and have been putting 180ml of that in every week for the past few weeks, but to no avail. I've been told this can cause my Kh to dip and last night this was down to 6.4 :eek: I'm buffering that back up to 8 over the next few days and will then calculate the drop.

    Should I lower the level of Rowa? Or swap this out for Phosguard? Should I continue to pull as much out by hand?

    I am considering swapping out the purple for either a KoleEye tang or a yellow, something which is going to eat the algae. Do I add more snails and if so, which are the best for algae?


    Or am I best trying to dose say 6ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide a day for a few weeks, see if that gets rid of the algae. I really am losing the will with this tank :(

    Some pics to help

    [​IMG]2018-05-16_08-50-01 by Phil Cookson, on Flickr
    [​IMG]2018-05-16_08-38-53 by Phil Cookson, on Flickr
    [​IMG]2018-05-16_08-38-43 by Phil Cookson, on Flickr
    [​IMG]2018-05-16_08-38-48 by Phil Cookson, on Flickr
    [​IMG]2018-05-16_08-38-37 by Phil Cookson, on Flickr
    [​IMG]2018-05-16_08-38-27 by Phil Cookson, on Flickr

    I had used old dead liverock which had been soaked in RODI for months before hand, with the water changed every week.

    @Randy Holmes-Farley Your jedi skills would be much appreciated
     
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  2. nautical_nathaniel

    nautical_nathaniel Jack of All Trades, Masters in One R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    How old is your aquarium?
     
  3. kevin_e

    kevin_e Member

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    You need the ULR to detect low level phosphate. My guess is that it is elevated, but being consumed to quickly to register on a meter.

    That calupera dying probably didn't help. I bet it released tons of nutrients that got sucked up by the hair alage.

    What's the sediment in the sump and skimmer?
     
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  4. chipmunkofdoom2

    chipmunkofdoom2 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor

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    In general, if you have nuisance algae, you have excess phosphates whether they show on your test kits or not. You seem to have a large middle section in your sump, why not try some macro algae like chaeto? If nuisance micro algae grows in the tank, you should be able to grow macro algae.

    Don't give up yet, you have a really great looking tank (much better looking than mine at the moment). You'll get this under control.
     
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  5. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Advice from 5k algae battles:

    Change nothing in nutrients reactionary

    This is coral safety, work independently on target

    Take your tank apart and clean it the right way (most refuse)

    Next step after refusal of ideal is drain tank, capture water, attack target correctly in the air, refill. Nutrients are set to what corals want, algae infestation can and is managed independently guaranteed but I know most will decline the option fully. At least consider it before taking harsh action


    Advice from many many peroxide runs all online:

    Don't dose it to water, for an anchored invader. Apply directly to invader, in the air
     
  6. McPikie

    McPikie Member

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    Set up 11th March 2018, cycled with Dr Tims. Livestock has been fine, but this algae has really only come about over the last month or so.

    Think that's diatoms. It washed off very easily.
     
  7. kevin_e

    kevin_e Member

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    Young tank, bet it is still going through a nutrient cycle as it adjusts to bioloading.
     
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  8. McPikie

    McPikie Member

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    Already running cheato, but didnt want to put too much in for it to die off like the calupera did

    The rockwork is cemented to the back glass and base. I simply dont have the facility to remove the rock :(
     
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  9. kevin_e

    kevin_e Member

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    That seems pretty aggressive and unnecessary for a 2 month old tank.
     
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  10. McPikie

    McPikie Member

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    I've bought a very stiff toothbrush and was going to attack the rockwork and siphon off any algae into a filter sock. I know this is going to take work, but I can't see how the phos is not registering. Could my lights be on too long which is aiding the growth??
     
  11. kevin_e

    kevin_e Member

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    It's not registering because it isn't the Ultra Low Resolution version AND, it's acting as a limiting nutrient. It's consumed as quickly as it enters the water.
     
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  12. Halal Hotdog

    Halal Hotdog Active Member

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    Not uncommon for the first 6-12 months having varying level of nuisance algae. In my experience hair/turf algae is a result of higher phosphates. Also live rock can absorb phosphates and leach it out later, which can lead to no phosphates showing on testing but live rock is covered. A band aid can be to use peroxide, but if the underlying issue is not resolved then in a few months everything will come back. Also in general I am a big supporter of ATS for nutrient export.
     
  13. chargingxray

    chargingxray Member

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    If you like DR. Tims they have a product called Re-Fresh for Brown/Green Water its says it on there website ( Use DrTim’s Aquatics Waste-Away as a 100% natural way to get rid of the underlying cause of out of control growth of aquarium slime, algae and cyanobacteria.) maybe this helps.
     
  14. Adele

    Adele I don't sing R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    I know this doesn't help but your tank is lovely and I have seen much worse GHA in my tank (the previous one anyway). I will let the experts address your nutrients but under the manual removal I would use my smaller diameter siphon hose gripped with sucking end between my thumb and forefinger and pinch and pull it out. Then rather than it flying all around the tank, any I got off sucked right up in the tube. This at least knocked it back enough where the CUC that would eat it (and interested fish), could continue to get the bits I could not. Other rock that could be removed go the toothbrush treatment in the sink. It was a work in progress but finally got it under control. Oh, I also had a PO4 bomb at work in a canister filter that I removed (ceramic bio balls) that was adding to the problem. Good Luck and don't give up. You are no where near the point of no return :)
     
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  15. McPikie

    McPikie Member

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    Algae turf scrubber? My sump goes by the way of filter sock, BM Curve 5 skimmer, fuge with cheato and phos reactor in there, weir, floss, carbon, return pump. I was using a UFO grow light, but it didn't seem to do much on this tank, whereas the last tank it grew the cheato like mad

    [​IMG]2018-05-02_09-27-52 by Phil Cookson, on Flickr
    [​IMG]2018-05-02_09-27-57 by Phil Cookson, on Flickr


    One weeks growth in my last 120l tank

    [​IMG]2018-02-21_09-15-56 by Phil Cookson, on Flickr
     
  16. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    it only seems aggressive but once the threads and after pics are read, not so. about twelve straight years online aggregation of these very fixes

    its ok to leave it in place and battle via nutrients, this is the most common way. has a decent chance of working and not bleaching corals agreed. also has a chance of making this worse, we show

    its all relative to how much the keeper wants to be algae free... until the matter is pressing, all kinds of options are consulted and experimented with

    use drain technique, that's harmless and requires the littlest work required, which is the number one demand of aquarists. Hesitation and not knowing what the outcome will be from direct action was all any tank ever needed to become invaded for sure.


    consider just killing your algae, use peroxide the right way and that cheat w save you about 5 mos wait and some lost bleached corals. message me if you want a custom job if not np the other ways might work just fine too.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018 at 11:25 AM
  17. McPikie

    McPikie Member

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    So you'd suggest draining all water from the tank (holding fish in another and leaving all corals in place) and attacking algae with peroxide directly whilst open to the air, then refilling the tank with the same water?
     
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  18. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    we like to pre test first, that's the first divergence away from normal algae reaction mode

    vs any whole tank run, check for compliance. drain this tank down only to the topmost target level (and refill with clean water lol start to exclude the lazies :) )

    hit with a couple drops peroxide right on an exposed tuft, let sit in air about 2 mins cooking

    refill

    see what that does in 24 hours/gone/white


    then in a week if no growback, reconsider waiting longer. you can work in increments...doesn't have to be whole tank at once. do something creative with your lower most algae/inaccessible, kill the top parts where you can easy stuff

    that first mode we haven't subjected your tank to anything weird, just a little drain of a few inches to expose some work area. when exposed, wick strands of HA take in peroxide quickly and distribute it...not much needed to bake em right off. when you refill the tank the tuft w likely look no different save for a little bubbles if some certain bacteria were on those strands of algae.

    but overnite, le bang if the peroxide is new unopened bottle and we didn't dose it to corals, or pods, or anything bad by using work to access the targets.


    not saying your whole approach to algae has to be this way, just that it w work here really well and you can at least learn something about whats selected for your variables. incrementally learning and upscaling is neat, it takes into consideration your non targets nicely.

    the minute a test modeling doesn't pan out, upscale no further in that mode. 60 gallons is the common breakpoint to where people start to leave the physical work aspect and go into the water dosing one. with physical work we can attain quick fixes on this type of low level issue

    the problem here is lack of grazers not anything else, we're becoming the grazers for a spell to guide back.

    in tanks without locked in rocks, we have them remove a test rock and be mean to it outside the tank, then put back. mean as in dig the algae off rocks with force and using a steak knife tip, actually debriding and scaring bad areas clean. then hit with peroxide

    another rock w be lightly just dosed with peroxide and no digging, then both assessed over 10 days before action. harmless pre modeling is a new technique really handy

    anyone considering tank water actions due to large scale reefing can at least test model their approaches in paint bucket dilutions using the same target rocks. if we think a given po4 level will sustain a kill, then model it from home depot parts and prove it before risking all that work with total growback.

    don't forget to transport a filthy cloudy sandbed into the bucket and work despite that presence so that we can model reef tanks effectively :) :) (we like to fix that part in our take apart threads)
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018 at 11:54 AM
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  19. McPikie

    McPikie Member

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    Ahhhh, I get you now. So basically do a 20% water change to get a level of rock exposed and try that first. Continue removing as much by hand as I can first too?

    Does the algae just disolve? Do I need to clean it off the rock somehow before refilling? If you have an idiots guide written down, I'd be super grateful for a link
     
  20. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    This is all just crafted opinion any number of ways can tune it, but generally its good to let one dissolve lets see how long it takes, if the clean up crews begin actually working on it (a known repeating item in threads post treatment)

    and then in another exposed area if you can, do pre scrape that one with a knife just a little and then use a paper towel to dab up the bits if poss, try to export the cuts and rinse off area. apply peroxide to that cleaned spot, demo the harshest possible needed run

    this is what ocean raspers do, scrape surfaces its not terribly unnatural though we're using kitchen implements and medicine cabinet cheats along the way.

    compare the two spots, get a feel for how the invader responds. you'd be surprised how long the sustain is as long as a tank is pretty clean organically...and if white lighting isn't too bright. this little cheat is just the needed catchup and then ideally the natural arrangements can take over, this hand guiding is key and doing it without loss is an order of operations.

    of course there can for sure be po4 issues in tanks, topoff water etc the chemists w get those handled if anything slipped past your strong gear already at work, but I saw a bio attack mode we could easily model here harmlessly. if you would take pics pls of any incremental steps photographed and documented we can link them:
    https://www.nano-reef.com/forums/topic/268706-peroxide-saves-my-tank-with-pics-to-prove-it/?page=65
    https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/reef2reef-pest-algae-challenge-thread-hydrogen-peroxide.187042/

    though you can tell we don't like to dump peroxide in tanks, letting half a mil or so run off into your tanks dilution is a nothing run. that's why we do incremental approaches, peroxide w neutralize in a day or so and by then you are on the next safe increment, your invasion isn't bad there's time to easily catch it.

    lysmata shrimp and fireworms are the most sensitive peroxide animals we keep...I don't think it would even harm those but always allow 1% chance for those two in any approach. something metabolically about lysmata just cannot deal.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018 at 12:53 PM
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