Tearing my (green) hair (algae) out- it's driving me bananas!

ceruleanspiral

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What I have:

Biocube32 LED, stock lights. Running since January.
Light schedule-
Day 12-8, Rise/Set 11-9, Moon 9-11. This is an increase as of yesterday.
Previous lights were Day 1-6, Rise/Set 12-7, and moon 11-10.

I figure if everything looks like poop anyway, I might as well be able to see the fish/corals/crabs.

I bought a dual power head wave system to increase flow (purchased 9/1), a Tunze nano ATO (purchased in April), and a media reactor running Rowaphos (I put Rowaphos in small mesh bags since May, got the reactor 9/1), that is switched out every 4 weeks. I use an In-Tank media basket and normally keep a carbon sponge with In-Tank filter floss on top. I switch the carbon sponge every week and the floss 2-3 times per week. I took out the carbon sponge and have been using just filter floss as of 10/16.

I do a water change of 5gal every Wednesday, though yesterday I did 7gal because I ran chemiclean Mon-Wed. due to green/teal and reddish slime-looking algae (very small amounts). I had a lot of red cyano around June? But used chemiclean then and it all went away.

Critters:
2 clowns, 1 royal gramma, 1 lawnmower blenny, 1 skunk cleaner shrimp, 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 tuxedo urchin (small), 1 emerald crab, 4 blue leg hermits, 1 red leg hermit, 1 orange leg hermit, 1 striped leg hermit, 1 polka dot hermit, 1 astrea snail (had 3, 2 died), at least 3 cerith snails, at least 8 dwarf cerith snails, at least 3 nassarius snails, at least 3 zig zag periwinkle snails, and I had 2 nerites but I haven't seen them in months so :::shrug:::.

I had a feather duster worm I got in March and it died Aug. 5th after looking totally fine the whole time, feathers-wise. It dropped it's feathers and was dead 2-3 days later. I was super sad, I love feathery worms. I have since learned about phytoplankton, so hope that will work next time I get more. I put in 20-30ml of plankton from Algae barn every day (split o 10-15ml 2x/day).

I had a bubble tip anemone that I got 9/15 but it died 10/30 after 2 weeks of hiding in the rocks. Prior to that it was out, stuck to the rock, pulled into a ball at night, and looked normal. I am sad about it.

Corals: 6 zoa frags (growing great), 2 birdsnest frags, 3 mushrooms, 1 toadstool leather, 1 Christmas favia, and 1 war coral (freebie).

I also have a big wad of gracilaria, hoping that it would out-compete the unwanted algae, I got it in May. It makes a great GHA frame, ftr.

I switched to mostly frozen food and alternate between mysis and brine. Very rarely, like maybe once every 7-10 days, I will drop a few pellets in 2-3 at a time (so that the fish eat them all). I used to alternate frozen/pellets but stopped after the GHA started. I use 1/4 or a little more of a cube per day (I do put a few mysis into my pea puffer tank, too), down from 1/2 a cube. I also usually spot-feed Reef Roids before water changes, but did not this week.

The blue leg hermits, the polka-dot hermit, the lawnmower blenny, and the tuxedo urchin were unplanned. All purchased due to the GHA. I also stopped using my LFS RODI in my ATO because my TDS meter read it at 7. I started buying bottled water, I tested all the water at my grocery store and buy the cheapest that reads at 0.

To try to get rid of the GHA, I used a toothbrush to scrub the rocks, carefully avoiding corals, and pulling tufts out manually. I would also pull out rocks 1 at a time and use peroxide rinses (being careful to avoid coral), with a toothbrush scrub. The algae would decrease significantly, but would always come back after a couple weeks. This made my emerald crab really grumpy (surprised it didn't die as it fell in the peroxide/water mix bucket once, but :::shrug::: ), but I stopped when I got the nem.

Last month I finally bought Vibrant. The first week I dosed 3ml + a few drops. I forgot to take out the carbon sponge until I did my water change and 2nd dose the 2nd week (10/16). By this point the GHA was coming off rather easily, but underneath was shorter, more difficult to pull algae that I think may be turf algae? I read that for turf algae or really bad outbreaks that you should dose Vibrant 2x/wk. So I started dosing Saturdays in addition to Wednesdays after water changes (so far 3ml plus a bit, every Wed/Sat including yesterday). By 10/26 it appeared that most of the GHA was gone, but what I think is turf algae is going strong, has increased even. Not phased *at all*. Also, all of the empty shells in the sand for the crabs (don't want snail murderers), still have GHA all over them. I plan to keep using it 2x/wk, but I don't know when I should be seeing a decrease instead of increase of algae growth.

At the same time as all that, my Alk, Cal, and Mag were higher using the Coral Pro. The only other thing I could think of was my LFS and the RODI water, maybe their salt mix wasn't so hot? So I decided to mix my own salt, not Coral pro due to the high Alk/Cal/Mag. I have done 3 water changes with it and now my alk is 10.9 so I don't even know with that, now. :::facepalm::: I wonder if the Alk or Mag was an issue for the nem. I'm not going to get another one until I can sort this cluster.

I cannot find dwarf blue-spotted sea hares in stock anywhere. I do not think my tank could handle the regular 8-12" ones. My tank cannot fit tangs or a foxface. My plan was to buy a few more blue leg hermits and another emerald crab or two, and toss them in. Maybe get a fuzzy chiton. Other than that, I'm out of ideas. I have checked all the boxes for the things to do to get rid of algae and I don't know what else to do.


In the first photo you can see the nem in the middle. This was Day 1 of Vibrant, in "sunset" lights, 10/9/19.
IMG_0151.jpg




In the second photo, taken today 11/7/19, the nem is gone and the algae is ridiculous. GHA mostly gone, green film on glass gone, less brown in the sand- but that turf algae is THICK, there is more of it, and it's bright green.

IMG_0169.jpg


Here are my tests since the end of August. I use Salifert tests, except ammonia/nitrite are API. I don't always test for those 2. My goal is to test 2x/mo or more. I do salinity tests weekly and check the temp whenever I'm looking in the tank, I just don't write up a whole chart for those. My Alk increase is baffling to me- is the Vibrant impacting it?

DateAdditiveType/Qt.Water Change %Temp °FSpecific GravityPhAlk dKHNH3 Ammonia (API)NO2 Nitrite (API)NO3 NitratePO4 PhosphateI IodineCa CalciumMg Magnesium
8/12/201915%78.0°1.0248.07.00.000.0010.000.033801200
9/17/201915%78.0°1.0268.28.05.000.034301410
10/2/201915%78.0°1.0268.08.60.000.005.000.034701410
10/9/201915%78.0°1.0268.29.65.000.034501323
10/16/201915%80.0°1.0268.09.910.000.034501380
11/7201920%78.0°1.0268.210.90.000.005.000.034301260
 

Bret Brinkmann

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There's a lot going on here but algae is okay. It's a sign of a healthy reef and provides food for herbivores. All your green algae looks like green hair algae to me.

Algae is going to grow no matter what you do and that's okay. That is why there are herbivores. Algae is good because it let's you keep herbivores. You're not getting algae due to water parameters. No matter what the parameters are, there will be a type of algae that thrives in that set of parameters.

Hermits are fun but how much algae do they eat when you're watching them? I personally have had better luck with trochus, cerith, and gold ring cowries to eat my gha. I have heard emeralds and seahares are also good at eating gha. Seahares, from what I have read on here, can eat all the gha and then starve. Any CUC that can eliminate all the algae quickly is a CUC that will eventually starve to death. So add slowly and wait a month to reevaluate.

A constant growth of algae is necessary for snails but you can supplement feed crabs. Mixing hermits and snails will eventually lead to a hermit killing a snail for food or it's shell even if you add extra shells. Sometimes they just prefer that snail's shell. Carbs of any type, even emeralds, will at some point eat something you don't want them to.

If you use a chemical solution to your algae and it works, then what will your herbivores eat? I recommend rethinking your algea control strategy in terms of biological vs chemical and picking one. Chemical solutions mean your tank has less capacity for herbivores if it works. If you go the biological route, then know that crabs and snails don't always live peacefully together.

Your alkalinity situation could be explained by the change in salt mixes. It looks like it started at 7 and was raised to 10.9 dKH. But you started with Redsea Coral Pro salt which is typically around the 10 dKH range and switched to something else. What did you switch to? Are you dosing alk?
 

ahiggins

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I would definitely add about 10 more astraea snails. You’re really light on clean up crew at the moment. Never had an urchin survive (lack of food) but I have 10 astraea in my 10 gallon and they keep everything at bay.
 

Edp251

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Agree with what has been said about adding more of the right types of clean up crew. If I were in a similar situation, I would also try mechanical methods. Clean up crew do better with small, tender growth. I have had luck removing rocks and scrubbing the algae off with a clean and new toothbrush. Very satisfying and works well. I have even dipped the brush in peroxide and scrubbed without I’ll effects but there are some threads here that gave the details on that. Your fish are very pretty in any case. Best of luck!
 
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ceruleanspiral

ceruleanspiral

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Thank you for reading this mess.

I'm sorry, I thought I mentioned what salt I switched to. IO Reef Crystals. The Vibrant doesn't seem to be doing anything, since the algae is increasing even with it. Presumably because I stopped picking/scrubbing the rocks and stopped using peroxide. I'm going to go with more snails and crabs I guess and hope someone gets a blue spotted pygmy sea hare in stock sometime soon.

It's especially frustrating because I did so much research and thought doing everything right would prevent something like this. The only thing I did that I regret is buying 3 small live rocks to go with my dry rock. Not sure if that contributed
 
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Bret Brinkmann

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Gha happens no matter what rocks you use.

IO salt I would have to contain lower levels of alk. There are reports of inconsistencies in salt mixes batch to batch though. That is why some reefers test every batch of salt water they make so they know what to expect with their latest package of salt.
 

pecan2phat

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My recommendation is to give the Vibrant more time. I had turf algae so bad that I actually started to net clumps off the sand bed. I overdosed so this worked quick for me but I'm also treating a 3rd tank with the 1ml to 10g ratio and see a difference in 5 days already. The turf is not as green as before the dose and I'm only dosing 1x so far. Even the Astrea snails that was covered in the algae is starting to show signs of their shells again.
 
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ceruleanspiral

ceruleanspiral

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Here’s what it looks like today. I added about 15 snails, a chiton, a conch, and another dozen crabs (3 mithrix, a pitho, the rest blue leg hermits) about 4 days ago.

My tuxedo urchin died over the weekend, I think due to freshwater blast from ATO maintenance I was doing.

My kingdom (or about $30 + shipping) for a blue spot sea hare.

F1730B47-5E35-4C6D-9F31-2285A0F500C0.jpeg E11F0B3C-F554-4924-931D-D8D131C39303.jpeg
 

brandon429

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you would be amazed at what a rip clean can do for that tank, it'll make it look like you want. in three hours.

vs a weeks long wait


the reason that will fix your tank:
-we use a test rock approach before upscaling work to the whole tank. We already know what works, before its applied, to all your rocks.
-if you want the restoration job done right, you clean out the sandbed as well. 100% rinsed clear, then put back. none of this harms the tank, or causes a recycle, if you do it a certain way.
-we already have a ton of fixed tank pics, yours would be #153 nice lets rip clean that nano you have, it has strong potential
 
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ceruleanspiral

ceruleanspiral

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you would be amazed at what a rip clean can do for that tank, it'll make it look like you want. in three hours.

vs a weeks long wait


the reason that will fix your tank:
-we use a test rock approach before upscaling work to the whole tank. We already know what works, before its applied, to all your rocks.
-if you want the restoration job done right, you clean out the sandbed as well. 100% rinsed clear, then put back. none of this harms the tank, or causes a recycle, if you do it a certain way.
-we already have a ton of fixed tank pics, yours would be #153 nice lets rip clean that nano you have, it has strong potential
I am not sure I'm understanding what is being written here. I have taken the rocks out and given them peroxide rinses and scrubbed them with a toothbrush. I used 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed with tank water, about 4Tbs peroxide per cup of tank water. I used a pipette to drip it directly onto the rock and algae clumps to avoid my coral, then scrubbed with a toothbrush and rinsed with peroxide water. I cannot/will not scrub too close to my zoas. I try to touch them as little as possible. I have too many kids/dogs/cats in this house. So around the base of the zoas I only used the pipette to rinse with peroxide water.

I have done this twice already. It works at first, then 2-3 weeks later the algae comes back. One time an emerald crab was still in the rock and I couldn't catch him. Then he fell into the peroxide water. I grabbed him quickly and put him back in the tank. He is still alive as far as I know.

I think my water pressure in my house is not very good also. When I use my Python to do water changes (only out for salt water), I siphon the sand a little (maybe 1/4 deep). It doesn't really suck up anything off the sand. It works to suck up detritus in my fresh water tanks out of gravel and sand just fine. I had 10 dwarf cerith snails and 3 cerith snails, then last week I added about 20 more dwarf ceriths and 5 more ceriths. I also have a pitho crab I just got, it buries itself in the sand, and it is much larger than I was expecting. I just got a fighting conch and the sand is pure white around him wherever he goes, lol. I also had 3 nassarius snails, so I hope they are all working the sand enough. I have only seen 1 nassarius lately, not sure if that means the other 2 died.
 

brandon429

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We don't use diluted peroxide is one change up, plus we don't use brushes those grind up the algae but it's better than leaving it, nice job going direct
We also listed feed sources, the sand and rocks. detritus waste that will come off any rock that's twisted about midwater, or from the sandbed if you scooped and dropped it, is what's feeding growback. It's better to make a single test rock comply to perfection, a non zo rock, so that only what works is upscaled. Currently I'm reading diluted peroxide, full detritus in place but good willingness to access

I'd try a kitchen knife tip rasping which digs out algae and dislodges it from a test rock, rinse away w saltwater. then undiluted peroxide on the cleaned spot, when no algae remains. Swish test rock in clean saltwater, put back among the others and watch it awhile to see if likely to work on full tank

You have a way to rinse your sandbed 100% free of waste, no recycle. We have an even larger thread of just sand cleanings

We need a whole tank approach vs partials. It's a way to be different in the current arrangement, plus we have pics for all of it

Strong white light levels can be a major player in gha tanks, needs blue v white
 
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ceruleanspiral

ceruleanspiral

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We don't use diluted peroxide is one change up, plus we don't use brushes those grind up the algae but it's better than leaving it, nice job going direct
We also listed feed sources, the sand and rocks. detritus waste that will come off any rock that's twisted about midwater, or from the sandbed if you scooped and dropped it, is what's feeding growback. It's better to make a single test rock comply to perfection, a non zo rock, so that only what works is upscaled. Currently I'm reading diluted peroxide, full detritus in place but good willingness to access

I'd try a kitchen knife tip rasping which digs out algae and dislodges it from a test rock, rinse away w saltwater. then undiluted peroxide on the cleaned spot, when no algae remains. Swish test rock in clean saltwater, put back among the others and watch it awhile to see if likely to work on full tank

You have a way to rinse your sandbed 100% free of waste, no recycle. We have an even larger thread of just sand cleanings

We need a whole tank approach vs partials. It's a way to be different in the current arrangement, plus we have pics for all of it

Strong white light levels can be a major player in gha tanks, needs blue v white
I don't have any top rocks without zoas, except one that has a favia. I could maybe do that one. I am worried about snails and crabs, having them hide in the rock. I will feel bad if they get dosed with direct peroxide.

Ok, so no dilution and no scrubbing. Just pick/cut off algae and then do straight peroxide. Then rinse in bucket of new salt water. Then put it back in tank and watch? For how long? I think I will be able to try that tomorrow. I am about to go to bed for the night, I think I'm getting sick.

I try to use a pipette to blow sand off the rocks if I notice it, I always blow sand off my corals. It's hard to see now because there is too much algae, but when I have to touch things in the tank and they get sand I try to blow it off.

I do not have strong lights, I have the stock LEDs for the Biocube. I did 3 days no lights 3 times so far. I had a bubble tip anemone that I needed light for, but it died so I guess I don't need as much light for now. I'm worried the corals will not do well without day light. I do not have strength adjustment options for my lights. Just day, sunrise/sunset, and blue. Do I need less than 4 hours of daylight? Like could I do blue from 10a-12p, then sunrise from 12p-1p, then day from 1p-5p, then sunset from 5p-6p, then blue from 6p-9p? I did that for about a month in I think August? My clown fish are, well, clown fish, and they sleep the whole time the lights are low/off.
 

brandon429

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It’s ok to work w those lights we w just need to hand garden a little more

I think any algae treated can eventually growback but we are experimenting with options that get the most time before new work

the test rock is just to get a growback idea, how ever long you want to wait is subjective but in the end, disassembly and direct kill are the best ways and you can model it first, before jumping whole tank

Carl I’m happy yours did, algae growth has so many attached variables it’s hard to know why it persists for some and not others
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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To deal with palys, just take em out back it’s no risk outside. Set on a table and work around them with the knife tip, debriding off algae and sw rinsing. Rinse well before you go back in, this cannot aerosolize or contaminate family, wear gloves and eye protection.

i worked with brown paly rocks for years in the same room as my small daughter, no gloves no eye protection, I absolutely do not believe in their danger other than direct contact or rock boiling. I never did brush things, was always a rasper but that is safer than brushing to avoid aerosolization

it’s ok to be careful / outside work is ok and still prudent.
 

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Gha happens no matter what rocks you use.
Not If you used nothing but real live rock from the ocean with no die off. It's available. Not many here take advantage of it. That's why these kinds of threads are on here daily. Unless you totally neglect your tank, if you use real live rock from the ocean these threads would disappear.
 

robby2782

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Just out of curiosity, what is your magnesium level reading? Whenever I run into this when starting a new tank, I raise the magnesium between 1500 to 1600, and it dies off on its own. I used to believe the Kent Magnesium was the best to use for use, but I've been using Continuum or Brightwell with the same success.
 

brandon429

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True statement about live rock above: all the inclusions do exclude algae. Where it anchors it's very localized, ripe for direct quick grazing by some metal rasp vs letting it ever take over more than two square inches worth if ever. It's usually not an issue
 
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