Yellow/White (stringy/gunk) Coating on Rock and Substrate - 1 Month Old Tank

Melin108

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Hello!

I will summarize at the end and provide photos if you don't want to read my initial tank journey from start to now, but here we go! I included the journey only because maybe there was a misstep I took that can explain things. Look for the colored markers if you want quick notes, and ultimately the quick question is the last sentence of the post - just look at the picture first if it helps.

I'm still pretty new as a returning member to the hobby. I've fully cycled my tank and my levels (ammonia and nitrite) all read 0 except for a small amount of nitrates - on my test kit it's between 0 and 5, very light yellow. It's been cycled for a few weeks I think because I used Dr. Tim's one and only initially (and added 2 small clowns); and then when I found out a few days later you shouldn't have Carbon and GFO that came with (or any) my IM Peninsula 20g in the tank with that bacteria culture happening, I removed the Carbon and GFO and added another beneficial bacteria in the form of Bio-Spira. I did this to make sure the whole initial Dr. Tim's culture didn't just attach to my carbon and GFO. Go ahead about a week or so and things are good. Convinced my cycle is done (and it is with also helpful confirmation from this thread) I did my first water change with no issue (This was probably day 12-14, I forget, once I was convinced beneficial had taken over with my double dose). This went perfectly fine, heated my water and stirred it a day before, sucked out what little gunk I saw, no issues or stir up that seemed abnormal. I then added back in the carbon and GFO (that I had set aside in pure RODI water for the week I removed it - BRS chat said this would be fine). Water was clear and everything was great until I noticed when I was prepping for the next (2nd overall) weekly water change that there was string white things hanging on my rock and swaying in the waves from my return pump. I have no lights, so I didn't think algae and it wasn't green. Didn't seem to only be in well lit areas (some in the dark holes in my rock). It's maybe slightly yellowish/super light brown, but mostly just white and filamentous/gunky. When I noticed this I setup for a water change right away, that was due regardless. I sucked whatever I could out with the handheld gravel vac, sucking the rocks and the substrate where I saw any. My wife helped out and said "a lot of boogers are coming out" so I've got that going for me, which is nice. After this I went after it with a fish net and a turkey baster for probably 30 minutes at least - caught a lot more. When I did my water change I also added the recommended dose of Microbacter Clean - for the per week dose rate. I had planned on starting this regimen anyway adding it with my weekly water change on the advice of the BRSTv channel to avoid the ugly phase. Well maybe I've already found the ugly phase without lights, I have no idea which is why I'm reaching out. I changed my fiber balls (cotton ball like filter floss), and I also turned on my new NuvoSkim DC Protein Skimmer. This is my first time with a skimmer ever and right now I know it needs to break in but I'm getting very light skim, very watery, and I'm having it sit pretty high on the cup. That was yesterday and today I can still see some that I missed, but I don't think it's replicating fast or growing more yet - hoping I stopped it somehow. It's still there again mostly on the rocks and substrate (not on the glass), and it also

If you didn't want to read my story, I totally understand - I wouldn't either. For the seasoned vets and people short on time out there, here are the quick details:

Issue:
  • I have this white (sometimes yellow/tan) goop/stringy substance that is attaching to rocks and substrate. Not on the glass it seems, but can be seen floating through the water column. After what I've done so far I don't see it as much in the water column - pretty clear actually, but still some on the rocks and substrate.
  • Picture attached - I can try better shots if you need it

Just for reference, this is how everything is setup (~1 Month Old):
  • Nuvo Peninsula 20G - Standard MightyJet (i think 360 GPH) return pump.
  • Included Media from IM of Fiber Balls (cotton ball like filter floss), Carbon bag, GFO bag)
  • All water is RODI, every piece of equipment was at least rinsed in RODI, and my ATO runs RODI only.
  • No additives except the initial bacteria (Dr. Tim's one and Only, and then Bio-Spira)- and as of yesterday Microbacter clean.
  • Only Fish in the tank, 2 small clowns. They are healthy, eating, and hanging out not impacted.
  • I feed once a day, and make sure all/most all of it is eaten before the pump goes back on. I feed a couple small pinches of New Life Spectrum - Thera-a right now.
  • CaribSea LifeRock Shapes (Dry man-made rock with the purple bacteria paint on it)
  • CaribSea AragAlive Live Sand (20lb bag - unwashed (why would you but some might ask)).
  • Reef Crystals for Salt and I use a Refractometer.
  • 78 degrees, salinity at 1.025, only small nitrates measurable.
  • I have a Wave pump I mix saltwater with, but right now I'm just using the return pump but set it pretty high.
  • NuvoSkim DC Protein Skimmer (added yesterday).
Here is what I've done so far to combat the problem:
  • My tank is about a month old - this happened a week-ish after my first water change after the initial cycle, so I did the water change as scheduled, sucked out everything I could until I ran out of space in my dump bucket to properly refill the tank. I then went after the goop/strings with a turkey baster and fish net and caught a lot more.
  • I also added the weekly dose recommended of Microbacter Clean.
  • Started up my new Protein Skimmer (yesterday), which I've never owned, and I'm getting some very clear (ever so slight yellow when looking at it sideways through the light) skim even when the cup is high, but something is coming out - I know they need a break in.

I've done a bunch of research, so here are my thoughts from random and frantic research for a couple days:
  • DETRITUS: I'm a noob again, and this is what detritus looks like and I'm overreacting. When it's safe I plan on getting a shrimp and some hermits.
  • VOX/SCENTS: from Candles and some sort of bacteria that likes this? I've read a lot about that and I do like candles, but they are at least a room away usually. I don't have any plugin scent variety things or alcohol based ones that I know of, but I do mix my RODI water and salt in the laundry room with no lid on my (food safe) bucket. I suppose other vox like things and scented things could be getting in there from the laundry room. I plan on rigging a top to my bucket to at least minimize this and I've stopped candle use (only today thus far) until I can figure out if that's a real thing or not.
  • BACTERIAL BLOOM: most likely of a kind I don't want? Again not sure just wondering - my water isn't specifically cloudy like would dictate a full on bacterial bloom like I've researched and seen in videos.
  • ALGAE: I find hard to believe. No lights on the tank yet - and not possible for sunlight since it's in the basement and like a good hermit I have blackout curtains, but I do have a strong LED light for my main ceiling light, but I doubt that's enough. Also, this stuff just seems to collect wherever, doesn't seem like it's plant growth like algae or anything. Sits mostly in crevices in the rockwork, I see some in my rear AIO back compartments,
  • SNAILS: One post mentioned snails leaving this, but I have literally nothing in my tank but 2 fish, and no corals or anything to produce a secretion.
Final thoughts:

Yesterday was when I really noticed it and went to town cleaning everything during that water changed. Doesn't look like it's gotten worse in the 1 day since, stayed about the same as after it settled after the water change last night.

I'm looking for advice on what this is mainly. Many people fix a lot of these types of issues with Dr. Tim's Re-Fresh, and then Waste Away (which correct me if I'm wrong is essentially the same thing as Microbacter Clean that I just started the first does of (using the per week dose)). I'm just concerned that maybe I'm a super noob again and it's not Vox, or algae yet, and that it's just detritus (unlikely but maybe), or a bacterial bloom (possible, but the wrong type of bacteria it sounds like).

--------------------------------------------------

What do you all think this is in the picture? Way easier to see with the eye

How should I get rid of it? Just keep doing water changes, getting after it with the baster, and adding Microbacter Clean? Should I start a Dr. Tim's regimen, should I avoid candles. Is it just detritus, or a random other bacterial bloom that will go away? I really hope it's not the candles lol.

Thank you!


IMG_20210302_042825__01.jpg IMG_20210302_023158__01.jpg IMG_20210302_042433__01.jpg
 
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GeoSquid

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My guess would detritus buildup but not really sure. Your tank is so new I wouldn't worry about it. If I saw that in my new tank I wouldn't even think twice about it. Your going to see a lot of thing come and go, especially over the first year +. Sit back and relax and let the tank do it's thing!
 

vetteguy53081

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I see both poriferan sponge and what is known as Calothrix. These species of cyano often appear as a light slimy yet hairy/fuzzy nastiness that loosely attaches to your rock work. Air bubbles are usually trapped while escaping the algae. Calothrix is a type of algae that looks very similar to Dinos.
A couple ways to get rid of it:

Manual Removal: Remove the rock and scrub, and then fine tune with a toothbrush. Let the cleaners get the rest. It helps to use a net to collect the debris that will occur as a result of the toothbrushing.
Afterwards, add Clean Up Crew:Chitons, Nerite and margarita snails and other cyano cleaners work well.
 
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Melin108

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Thanks for the input!

both poriferan sponge and what is known as Calothrix

Question, how would I have sponges without ever adding anything but fish? Could that have existed in the CaribSea live sand or something? So I should scrub, continue normal water change maintenance, and probably continue to use the Microbacter clean with the recommended keep clean does, or should I up the dose?

Being about one month old, and have no lights over the tank, and with very targeted feeding of two fish and a low nutrient tank sure surprises me that algae can still show it's ugly face, and so soon.

It hasn't gotten any worse since the last cleaning that I can tell, but I'll prep to do another manual removal session.
 

vetteguy53081

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Thanks for the input!



Question, how would I have sponges without ever adding anything but fish? Could that have existed in the CaribSea live sand or something? So I should scrub, continue normal water change maintenance, and probably continue to use the Microbacter clean with the recommended keep clean does, or should I up the dose?

Being about one month old, and have no lights over the tank, and with very targeted feeding of two fish and a low nutrient tank sure surprises me that algae can still show it's ugly face, and so soon.

It hasn't gotten any worse since the last cleaning that I can tell, but I'll prep to do another manual removal session.
To correct myself, I am at work during the day and looking at my phone screen looks like sponge but now that I am at my PC unit- not sponge but chrysophytes which use silicate much like diatoms.
Same removal method, and using peroxide may make the scrubbing job go easier
 
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Melin108

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Hello,

Do you have hair algae? It kind of looks like GHA when it's dying, but vaguely.


I'm returning to the hobby, only been up a month roughly. Nothing in my tank looks like hair algae or has any green tint to it. The stuff that is free floating are these white/yellow booger like things, and they seem to attach to the rocks and sand bed. Doesn't care if it's in any light or not, seems to be more so in low flow areas. I'm trying to identify it so that I can take the correct course of action. Maybe some videos would help?
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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did you know the updated rules for reef tank cycling have a very specific benefit to this type of tank


the part that says no degree of cleaning can undo your cycle.


so that means tinkering through the water, dose and counter test and wait, is one option.



and another fully opposite option, leveraging the fact you have only 20 gallon of water to attain, is deep clean the system any time you want with a full water change, you can't undo your cycle.

having that stuff present is a matter of choosing yes, I want it.

because the counter option is this, the very second your cycle completes:

and that rids any questionable invader, no ID needed. no param needed.


its simply not harmful. a deep clean now is the same as a deep clean in five years, or ten years, it doesn't matter. these are harmless to a nano, so now you know a workaround that isn't via the water dosing, waiting and hoping it will clear. you have total command.

these are the techniques we use to move huge reefs home to home without loss. apply them in your nano any time you want don't let anyone tell you its bad. its all of a sudden good at move time, that's for sure. people switch from saying its a bad or good thing based on a thread's title, not the actual job. right above are two independent runs, the best of thousands logged.

**all manner of in between:
simply set out rocks on your counter and work them. set them back clean, no sand rips. but know all options, study those posts is my reco/save your tank one day. You can tell by reading that thread if you set your rocks out on a towel, work spots clean, and then put them back in the tank its no harm, these rocks allow for cleaning.
 
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Melin108

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Thanks for your reply.

not sponge but chrysophytes which use silicate much like diatoms
Interesting since I use a full RODI unit because I wanted to avoid silicates. I don't have a TDS meter but I assumed with city water and all 4 stages I should remove enough silicates to avoid this problem.

Anyone know how to get mp4 videos from my phone to upload? It says it's not a video format like expected, but it is and plays fine on my computer. I think my small 5-10 sec videos might give a better view.
 
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Melin108

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Brandon429,

Thanks for the reply as always.

having that stuff present is a matter of choosing yes, I want it.
Are you saying that'd you'd just do normal maintenance and keep the stuff I have floating around? You want this stuff or you are just saying since I have a smaller tank I can take it upon myself to make the decisions of what stays and what goes during cleaning?

So you are saying i can choose to deep clean and suck all of it out if I wanted to, but you wouldn't worry too much about it and let it run it's course? One problem I have is with my setup I can realistically only produce about 4 gallons of water at a time, so I'd have to do it in shifts.

I was thinking tonight I would go after it with a turkey baster, suck up what I can, and then do another 20% water change and continue using the Microbacter Clean with the water changes. I'm also going to replace (as directed by the IM filter media instructions) my carbon and GFO in a day or two. The instructions on their "purity packs" say replace once a month.
 
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vetteguy53081

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Thanks for your reply.


Interesting since I use a full RODI unit because I wanted to avoid silicates. I don't have a TDS meter but I assumed with city water and all 4 stages I should remove enough silicates to avoid this problem.

Anyone know how to get mp4 videos from my phone to upload? It says it's not a video format like expected, but it is and plays fine on my computer. I think my small 5-10 sec videos might give a better view.
Place on you tube then paste to your page
 

vetteguy53081

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Thanks for your reply.


Interesting since I use a full RODI unit because I wanted to avoid silicates. I don't have a TDS meter but I assumed with city water and all 4 stages I should remove enough silicates to avoid this problem.

Anyone know how to get mp4 videos from my phone to upload? It says it's not a video format like expected, but it is and plays fine on my computer. I think my small 5-10 sec videos might give a better view.
Di resin can leach silicate
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Your lfs can sell pre Made water at five gals apiece easy

no need to make up twenty gallons


also consider this: I’m used to getting limitations but then flipping it around creatively that’s what you’re free to experiment with given that degree of work above, just change it when you feel like taking back ground, nobody but you decides. Others opinions don’t matter, safe procedure allows the choice.


If water is in short supply, you’d drain off 80% of the water, catch and reuse it.


see how in the thread we gained access to surfaces


putting back original water is an ok and highly creative change up, same ends earned. Work the rip clean formula from different angles like that but you’ll see the repeating theme is never causing a cloud, being thorough, and working as needed even if you have to repeat a few times, this is price of a new reef.


the technique can save your tank while others are full on taken over, you’ve seen the pics.

there is no rule that we must self invade an investment like these, thats a dumb rule. What you see in the above link is total control, whenever you want it.
 
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Melin108

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Thanks again! Very insightful actually, and I think I'm finally starting to get your message.

Your lfs can sell pre Made water at five gals apiece easy
Unfortunately even though I live in the 3rd largest city in my state, there is literally no LFS within a 2 hour drive from where I live (unless you count Petco - which mine doesn't sell water, but I'm fairly certain I don't want it), The last fish shop in town was home grown and I loved them, but they retired a couple years ago and closed the shop, between my old tank and setting up this new one (about 3-4 years).

If water is in short supply, you’d drain off 80% of the water, catch and reuse it.
I think you are the tank Mosiah because I think I'm understanding what you are putting out. I have control of my Nano tank, since it's cycled. I can drain it all through a fish net if I wanted to, or create all new water. Since my ammonia should stay stable now (cycle), I can kind of "play" with the parameters, of course focusing on the health of my fish and other friends. I can add some more GFO or use my brand new protein skimmer (that died after running 40 hours - I'm notoriously unlucky - it did die after 2 days though, warranty exchange.), I can keep adding Microbacter Clean - whatever to attain what I think I want. But ultimately, if I have an issue in this tank since the water volume is low, I can essentially start fresh (aside from things on the rock or substrate obviously).

What you are saying is, and correct me if I'm wrong, I can take any safe approach and see what happens. Some things work better for others, but ultimately just keep the inhabitants safe with levels I CAN control, give the best environment, and if I need to at any point do a large water change (heated to the correct temp and salinity) is always perfectly fine in my size tank.

I'm totally on board with 20% weekly water change - and I will follow that religiously, but with the kids and such it's hard to do a TON of maintenance like hourly or daily I mean (other than feeding and checking equipment), but I have thus far found extra hours to catch whatever is in my tank with a fish net, so apparently I'm devoted.

What's your overall recommendation knowing I can't produce 20 gallons immediately (more like 14-16G after dispersion and rear AIO sump) and knowing that my problem is there but by no means overrunning anything. Seems stable, and I quote, "for right now."

I'm also in this hobby because I find marine biology fascinating (it's what I wanted to be growing up, but I chose computers because I liked them both and one made more money). I'd like to know what I'm combatting and why it happens even though I may have a good course of action readily available. Still trying to figure out what and why this stuff is in my tank, I feel like @vetteguy53081 is probably correct in what it is. I'm just a student of the hobby and I want to know why, where, and what to do (and why to do that).

I am all in on doing what I need to succeed but I also want to try to form the best self driving system as possible, with the help of weekly water changes.

I think right now I'm going to do another big water change (20%) and manual turkey baster removal, continue the microbacter clean (small water change dosage from label) because it can only seem to help right now even in my small environment, and I'm going to add fresh carbon and GFO (which will be almost exactly 1 month like the recommended media with my tank). If I still have issue I can continue to stir things up and remove more water and replace. I just hope I can find the happy medium, I'm sure it will come with time. I'm just a very anxiety riddled person that wants to produce the best results possible, but I'm very ok with the slow and steady approach. I'm also about to add my first clean up crew members (peppermint, a hermit or two, and a couple snails of various types). I hope to post a tank thread soon on my progress and also to help anxiety riddled people like myself that want to know everything right away lol!

Thank you thus far, please let me know about my thoughts and as always suggestions are recommended and encouraged! Everyone here so far has been amazing and helpful, it's a good culture it seems.
 

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