What can I do to make my tank less gross

BRS

4tanks

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Looks like just some basic tweeks to your maintenance is all that's needed to me. Your system looks young, can you post how old it is? First advice I'd give is stay on top of alkalinty, calcium and magnesium. Knowing your phosphate levels would be good but keep in mind you can't test for organic or particulate phosphates so your PO4 number will only be part of the picture. For the algae on the glass use a paper towel that holds up well when wet to wipe AND remove algae, magnets and scrapers only knock it off and it can redeposit quickly. You can use stainless steel straws to siphon algae off the sand and rocks. To kill the lage in the sand you can also siphon off the surface layer of sand rinse, soak a few hours in H2O2, rinse and let sit for a day or so then add back to your tank. Your tap water isn't a problem, I've been running ssytems (1) (2) (3) with tap for well over a decade now and haven't seen a difference compared to my systems using RODI.

Here's figure from this paper looking at phosphorus metabolism
DIP DOP POP.jpg


Here's some videos you might find informative:

Forest Rohwer "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas"

Changing Seas - Mysterious Microbes

Nitrogen cycling in hte coral holobiont

BActeria and Sponges

Richard Ross What's up with phosphate"
How can you say tap water isn't his issue depending where you live from county to county supplies are different
 
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Timfish

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How can you say tap water isn't his issue depending where you live from county to county supplies are different

From the pics posted of the system. We're looking at a basic cycling process of a maturing system.

If you look closer you'll find differences at the water utility and source vel, not the county level. As I said, I've been looking at this for quite a few years. The differences I see in algae in systems doesn't seem to be at all associatated with water source. (Or with nitrate and phosphate levels for that matter.) Rather it's how well the equilibrium of the system favors corals over algae. The pics posted by the OP show what I see as typical algae with new tanks still in the maturing process or with tanks that have had some type of stress event that disrupts the equilibrium and lets nuisance algae get going. What I've been doing to correct these problems in the various tanks I'm contacted to fix is what I outlined in my first post and videos linked to. Forest Rohwer in his book "COral Reefs in the Microbial Seas" (kindle is ~$10, paperback ~$16) discusses how the equilibrium of a reef system will favor corals or algae.

Indirect effects of algae on coral: algae‐mediated, microbe‐induced coral mortality

Role of elevated organic carbon levels and microbial activity in coral mortality

Element cycling on tropical coral reefs.
This is Jasper de Geoij's ground breaking research on reef sponges. (The introduction is in Dutch but the content is in English.)

Sponge symbionts and the marine P cycle

Phosphorus sequestration in the form of polyphosphate by microbial symbionts in marine sponges

Differential recycling of coral and algal dissolved organic matter via the sponge loop.
Sponges treat DOC from algae differently than DOC from corals

Surviving in a Marine Desert The Sponge Loop Retains Resources Within Coral Reefs
Dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen are quickly processed by sponges and released back into the reef food web in hours as carbon and nitrogen rich detritus.

Natural Diet of Coral-Excavating Sponges Consists Mainly of Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC)
 
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Timfish

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I dont know how you can make this statement so definitively. Tap water varies drastically depending on where you are.

From the pics posted of the system. We're looking at a basic cycling process of a maturing system.

If you look closer you'll find differences at the water utility and source vel, not the county level. As I said, I've been looking at this for quite a few years. The differences I see in algae in systems doesn't seem to be at all associatated with water source. (Or with nitrate and phosphate levels for that matter.) Rather it's how well the equilibrium of the system favors corals over algae. The pics posted by the OP show what I see as typical algae with new tanks still in the maturing process or with tanks that have had some type of stress event that disrupts the equilibrium and lets nuisance algae get going. What I've been doing to correct these problems in the various tanks I'm contacted to fix is what I outlined in my first post and videos linked to. Forest Rohwer in his book "COral Reefs in the Microbial Seas" (kindle is ~$10, paperback ~$16) discusses how the equilibrium of a reef system will favor corals or algae.

Indirect effects of algae on coral: algae‐mediated, microbe‐induced coral mortality

Role of elevated organic carbon levels and microbial activity in coral mortality

Element cycling on tropical coral reefs.
This is Jasper de Geoij's ground breaking research on reef sponges. (The introduction is in Dutch but the content is in English.)

Sponge symbionts and the marine P cycle

Phosphorus sequestration in the form of polyphosphate by microbial symbionts in marine sponges

Differential recycling of coral and algal dissolved organic matter via the sponge loop.
Sponges treat DOC from algae differently than DOC from corals

Surviving in a Marine Desert The Sponge Loop Retains Resources Within Coral Reefs
Dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen are quickly processed by sponges and released back into the reef food web in hours as carbon and nitrogen rich detritus.

Natural Diet of Coral-Excavating Sponges Consists Mainly of Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC)
 

Timfish

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The tank is about 4 months old, but some of the live rock and water I used when I was first setting up came from a year old tank.

That's good! I always use some sand and water from other systems and almost always will use some rock from another system but I prefer to get some fresh mariculture live rock when setting up new systems. If you research some of the probiotic products they are derived from bacteria cultrued from reef aquariums. Just keep in mind Rower's point that only a tiny fraction can be cultured. Adding more corals will help with your tanks maturing process also as they are promoting autotrophic microbial processes that favor corals over algae. Besides Rohwer's video I would encourage you to get his book. While there is a lot of overlap there are significant differences as new research was included in the video that was not available when the book was written. One of the things discussed in his book is how the equilibrium of an ecosystem will promote different organisms and only small triggers may be needed to shift from an algae dominated to coral dominated system or visa versa. This explains one of the events I come to expect couple decades ago when setting up systems or when fixing a nuisance algae issue for my clients with nuisance algae seemingly not going away or even getting worse initially then very quickly dissappearing.

If you want to get an RODI I am still using RODI myself on some systems. It likely will be quite a few more years before I completly stop, I figured when I started using tapwater it would be at least a couple decades to see how it might affect reef ecosystems. TDS is something I looked at and found pretty much irrelevant. I've found it much more helpful to think in terms of microbial processes as well as total Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus. Thinking of algae problems in terms of just ammonia, nitrates and phosphates really does miss the big picture.
 
RAP

JCM

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From the pics posted of the system. We're looking at a basic cycling process of a maturing system.

If you look closer you'll find differences at the water utility and source vel, not the county level. As I said, I've been looking at this for quite a few years. The differences I see in algae in systems doesn't seem to be at all associatated with water source. (Or with nitrate and phosphate levels for that matter.) Rather it's how well the equilibrium of the system favors corals over algae. The pics posted by the OP show what I see as typical algae with new tanks still in the maturing process or with tanks that have had some type of stress event that disrupts the equilibrium and lets nuisance algae get going. What I've been doing to correct these problems in the various tanks I'm contacted to fix is what I outlined in my first post and videos linked to. Forest Rohwer in his book "COral Reefs in the Microbial Seas" (kindle is ~$10, paperback ~$16) discusses how the equilibrium of a reef system will favor corals or algae.

Indirect effects of algae on coral: algae‐mediated, microbe‐induced coral mortality

Role of elevated organic carbon levels and microbial activity in coral mortality

Element cycling on tropical coral reefs.
This is Jasper de Geoij's ground breaking research on reef sponges. (The introduction is in Dutch but the content is in English.)

Sponge symbionts and the marine P cycle

Phosphorus sequestration in the form of polyphosphate by microbial symbionts in marine sponges

Differential recycling of coral and algal dissolved organic matter via the sponge loop.
Sponges treat DOC from algae differently than DOC from corals

Surviving in a Marine Desert The Sponge Loop Retains Resources Within Coral Reefs
Dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen are quickly processed by sponges and released back into the reef food web in hours as carbon and nitrogen rich detritus.

Natural Diet of Coral-Excavating Sponges Consists Mainly of Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC)
That's good! I always use some sand and water from other systems and almost always will use some rock from another system but I prefer to get some fresh mariculture live rock when setting up new systems. If you research some of the probiotic products they are derived from bacteria cultrued from reef aquariums. Just keep in mind Rower's point that only a tiny fraction can be cultured. Adding more corals will help with your tanks maturing process also as they are promoting autotrophic microbial processes that favor corals over algae. Besides Rohwer's video I would encourage you to get his book. While there is a lot of overlap there are significant differences as new research was included in the video that was not available when the book was written. One of the things discussed in his book is how the equilibrium of an ecosystem will promote different organisms and only small triggers may be needed to shift from an algae dominated to coral dominated system or visa versa. This explains one of the events I come to expect couple decades ago when setting up systems or when fixing a nuisance algae issue for my clients with nuisance algae seemingly not going away or even getting worse initially then very quickly dissappearing.

If you want to get an RODI I am still using RODI myself on some systems. It likely will be quite a few more years before I completly stop, I figured when I started using tapwater it would be at least a couple decades to see how it might affect reef ecosystems. TDS is something I looked at and found pretty much irrelevant. I've found it much more helpful to think in terms of microbial processes as well as total Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus. Thinking of algae problems in terms of just ammonia, nitrates and phosphates really does miss the big picture.


I appreciate the thought out response. I agree OP's tank doesn't look bad and the algae should subside with time.

Ammonia/nitrate/phosphate in tap water can be overcome but what about other contaminates? Lead, copper, arsenic, chloramine, etc? Just seems like a risk not worth taking to me.
 

Timfish

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I appreciate the thought out response. I agree OP's tank doesn't look bad and the algae should subside with time.

Ammonia/nitrate/phosphate in tap water can be overcome but what about other contaminates? Lead, copper, arsenic, chloramine, etc? Just seems like a risk not worth taking to me.

Thank you! :)

Everyone's risk/reward equation is going to be different. But when considering hypothetical vs real risks it helps in my opinion to understnad as much as possible the available research. It's not what's in hte tapwater that worries me, it's what types of DOC that's being made in my system and the types of microbial precesses it's promoting that worries me.

I'm curious, how ae you verifying your food doesn't have contaminants? Heavy metals can be in the seafood processed for fish food just as in tapwater and has the potential to be higher since it's conentrated as it goes up the food chain. In light of the research refferenced above showing carbon dosing can promote pathogenic shifts in the coral microbiome are you questionuing your own assumptions about it's efficacy?
 

JCM

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Thank you! :)

Everyone's risk/reward equation is going to be different. But when considering hypothetical vs real risks it helps in my opinion to understnad as much as possible the available research. It's not what's in hte tapwater that worries me, it's what types of DOC that's being made in my system and the types of microbial precesses it's promoting that worries me.

I'm curious, how ae you verifying your food doesn't have contaminants? Heavy metals can be in the seafood processed for fish food just as in tapwater and has the potential to be higher since it's conentrated as it goes up the food chain. In light of the research refferenced above showing carbon dosing can promote pathogenic shifts in the coral microbiome are you questionuing your own assumptions about it's efficacy?

I dont carbon dose personally. I am curious though, a few of those papers found that increased DOC led to high coral mortality yet plenty of people have success with carbon dosing. Do our tanks generally lack sufficient organic carbon? If not, wouldnt we see more adverse affects (aside from inadvertently bottoming out nitrate). We also aren't capable of easily measuring DOC right?

I also found it interesting that algae in close proximity to corals caused a 100% mortality rate in the coral due to microbial changes, but a simple antibiotic prevented it entirely. I wonder why we don't experience that in aquariums more often.

I'm not very knowledgeable on these topics admittedly. Very interesting though.
 

Just John

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Looks like just some basic tweeks to your maintenance is all that's needed to me. Your system looks young, can you post how old it is? First advice I'd give is stay on top of alkalinty, calcium and magnesium. Knowing your phosphate levels would be good but keep in mind you can't test for organic or particulate phosphates so your PO4 number will only be part of the picture. For the algae on the glass use a paper towel that holds up well when wet to wipe AND remove algae, magnets and scrapers only knock it off and it can redeposit quickly. You can use stainless steel straws to siphon algae off the sand and rocks. To kill the lage in the sand you can also siphon off the surface layer of sand rinse, soak a few hours in H2O2, rinse and let sit for a day or so then add back to your tank. Your tap water isn't a problem, I've been running ssytems (1) (2) (3) with tap for well over a decade now and haven't seen a difference compared to my systems using RODI.

Here's figure from this paper looking at phosphorus metabolism
DIP DOP POP.jpg


Here's some videos you might find informative:

Forest Rohwer "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas"

Changing Seas - Mysterious Microbes

Nitrogen cycling in hte coral holobiont

BActeria and Sponges

Richard Ross What's up with phosphate"
On a side note - I love that so many people here are willing to put in this type of effort to help someone. This is a great community!
 

Timfish

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I dont carbon dose personally. I am curious though, a few of those papers found that increased DOC led to high coral mortality yet plenty of people have success with carbon dosing. Do our tanks generally lack sufficient organic carbon? If not, wouldnt we see more adverse affects (aside from inadvertently bottoming out nitrate). We also aren't capable of easily measuring DOC right?

I also found it interesting that algae in close proximity to corals caused a 100% mortality rate in the coral due to microbial changes, but a simple antibiotic prevented it entirely. I wonder why we don't experience that in aquariums more often.

I'm not very knowledgeable on these topics admittedly. Very interesting though.

9 out of 10 lifetime smokers don't get lung cancer, that doesn't mean smoking won't cause lung cancer, or other health problems. Considering how long we know the animals we keep take to become sexually mature or how long they can live maintaining a reef ecosystem for 5 - 10 years is seems to me like keeping a puppy or kitten for a few months. It doesn't matter where we look, whether it's sustaining our own health or sustainable farming practices or keeping our systems and animals healthy for the lifespans they should live, a healthy microbiome is essential. Disrupt microbiomes, doesn't matter if with antibiotics, DOC or fertilizers, and all kinds of problems follow including unneccessary or premature death.

For those intersted in learning more about DOC in reef ecosystems Forest Rohwer's "Coral Reefs in the Microbail Seas" (kindle ~$10, paperback ~$16) is an excellent introduction. For those interested in human or farmland microbiomes here's two links for videos:


 

Nano sapiens

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I dont carbon dose personally. I am curious though, a few of those papers found that increased DOC led to high coral mortality yet plenty of people have success with carbon dosing. Do our tanks generally lack sufficient organic carbon? If not, wouldnt we see more adverse affects (aside from inadvertently bottoming out nitrate). We also aren't capable of easily measuring DOC right?

I also found it interesting that algae in close proximity to corals caused a 100% mortality rate in the coral due to microbial changes, but a simple antibiotic prevented it entirely. I wonder why we don't experience that in aquariums more often.

I'm not very knowledgeable on these topics admittedly. Very interesting though.

Thoughts and conjecture...

In the experiment exposing coral to DOC exudates from algae, the DOC enrichment lead to the overpopulation of the coral's own microbiome community which then resulted in localized oxygen depravation...which then killed the coral. The antibiotic treatment worked since it limited this microbiome bacterial overpopulation.

Although I have not seen the actual physical experiment, I would hypothesize that the ratio of algae DOC exudates to the water volume in a typical reef aquarium, as well as greater flow/oxygenation, is the reason that this doesn't lead to the same coral mortality outcome. In those unfiltered/lightly filtered reef systems with a larger than normal alga density (more DOC produced), I can also imagine that the coral would have adaptive mechanisms (perhaps modification of it's microbiome composition) to avoid the severe oxygen depravation scenerio.
 
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Just John

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Thoughts and conjecture...

In the experiment exposing coral to DOC exudates from algae, the DOC enrichment lead to the overpopulation of the coral's own microbiome community which then resulted in localized oxygen depravation...which then killed the coral. The antibiotic treatment worked since it limited this microbiome bacterial overpopulation.

Although I have not seen the actual physical experiment, I would hypothesize that the ratio of algae DOC exudates to the water volume in a typical reef aquarium, as well as greater flow/oxygenation, is the reason that this doesn't lead to the same coral mortality outcome. In those unfiltered/lightly filtered reef systems with a larger than normal alga density (more DOC produced), I can imagine that the coral would have adaptive mechanisms (perhaps modification of it's microbiome composition) to avoid the severe oxygen depravation scenerio.
Thanks for the explanation!
 
BRS

PICK the Most Tested & Least Tested Parameters of your Tank (Pick 2)

  • Calcium (most)

    Votes: 19 5.6%
  • Alkalinity (most)

    Votes: 238 70.6%
  • Magnesium (most)

    Votes: 2 0.6%
  • Phosphate (most)

    Votes: 23 6.8%
  • PH (most)

    Votes: 37 11.0%
  • Nitrate (most)

    Votes: 32 9.5%
  • Nitrite (most)

    Votes: 1 0.3%
  • Ammonia (most)

    Votes: 8 2.4%
  • (least) Calcium

    Votes: 6 1.8%
  • (least) Alkalinity

    Votes: 2 0.6%
  • (least) Magnesium

    Votes: 26 7.7%
  • (least) Phosphate

    Votes: 3 0.9%
  • (least) PH

    Votes: 13 3.9%
  • (least) Nitrate

    Votes: 3 0.9%
  • (least) Nitrite

    Votes: 103 30.6%
  • (least) Ammonia

    Votes: 140 41.5%
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