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Flake Brown..Algae?
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Funky Fish
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Joined: 22 Jul 2006
Location: Dublin, Ireland

PostPosted: 2009.08.15(Sat)13:21    Post subject: Flake Brown..Algae? Reply with quote

Hi there, it has been a very long time since I've been on the site. Thankfully my reef has been going really well (touch wood!) but I have a question.

This brown flake-like algae has been on the same piece of live rock for a very long time. I say flake, because I can actually peel away of bits of this algae, if thats what it is. It's not encrusting like the coraline algae in the tank. It doesn't seem to be a problem only it's not that aesthetically pleasing. Especially when underneath this stuff is patches of coraline algae and the rest being a very white porous rock. When I was peeling back some of easy peel-away parts I stumbled across a bristle worm, so I'm not sure I want manually remove all of it and I don't think I could if I wanted too. Some parts won't break away.

It has spread onto the side of the skimmer on the opposite end of the tank so I would like to remove this stuff or at least decrease the amount. It does seem to grow back on the parts I've peeled away slowly but surely. Any ideas or tips would be greatly appreciated.

I do have some hair algae in the tank if that would affect it. I thought maybe the PO4 was fueling it but ROWAPhos keeps PO4 at absolute minimum. NO3 is 10ppm and the tank is 140L (I think around 36 US gallons?)

Thank you!

Smile
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2009.08.15(Sat)18:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the hair algae is feeding off the DOC's (dissolved organic compounds) in your water including the nitrate. If you remove all the algae completely you would likely find the nitrate reading is actually higher than 10 ppm. In essence, nuisance algae is a symptom, a result of your water chemistry and/or your husbandry.

There are certain types of livestock that will eat the hair algae. A quality skimmer will help reduce the DOC's before they can result in algae. Some hobbyists actually employ certain types of macro algae to remove the nutrients (veggie filters).

So there are solutions, the trick is to do some research and determine which ones you want to try. Of course, if you have an over-stocked, over-fed system, none of these will be as effective. Remember, the algae you are seeing is only a symptom, a result. I try to get people to deal with the CAUSE, not only the symptoms.

Is there any way you can post up a few photos of your tank along with some shots of this algae you are seeing... also it would be helpful to get a current list of all of your livestock and description of your filtration, also details on the current substrate material and depth.

Just for reference;
you might want to take a look at the recent discussions on adding organic carbon sources like glucose or Bio-Calcium:
http://www.aquahobby.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=55702
http://www.aquahobby.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=54132&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=20
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Funky Fish
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Joined: 22 Jul 2006
Location: Dublin, Ireland

PostPosted: 2009.08.16(Sun)4:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

After reading the links and some further clicking, I'm interested in dosing the glucose/vodka, however still apprehensive. This veggie filter you mentioned, I'm not sure that would work with my setup. Here it is...

140L Tank
Displacement would mean, I would say 120L
Tunze Nano Skimmer
Tunze Powerhead 6025 (2.500l/h)
Koraila 1 (1.500l/h)

Lighting is the new AquaRay LED Lights, which are working very well!

Sand bed is 2cm, at its deepest . I syphon the sandbed very regularly as I don't trust substrates.

Stocking is very low and has been since March in order to reduce nitrates and also to concentrate on the few corals I have in the tank.
I have 1 Pyjama Cardinal and 1 Cleaner Shrimp!

Water changes fortnightly of 25%. I dose with Sailifert 'All in One' once a week.
Thats everything I think!

I'll see what I can do about getting some pictures up.

Luckily, I guess, is that the hair algae is concentrated in one area. It's in a place with low flow because the mushrooms are on the same rock. Unfortunately they won't open out well if there anywhere else because they start flapping and withdraw. So I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2009.08.16(Sun)8:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the veggie filter I am describing requires a sump or refugium, more about that here from Calfo:
http://www.reefland.com/rho/0105/main2.php

Bryopsis and other problems can be defeated, it's all about the nutrients. More thoughts below from my archives...



Also check your turnover rate (things tend to slow down in older aquariums) and make sure your skimmer is pulling out daily brown sludge. If not, find a unit that works. You would be surprised how many aquarists think they are skimming just because they have a skimmer on the tank. Many skimmers on the market do not work properly, and people forget these gizmos must be cleaned, adjusted and maintained. Nutrient export is often the heart of the solution, and a large, properly functioning skimmer is the best solution for this goal.

Refugiums also will help in many cases. With macro algae feeding off nutrients in the refugium, the nuisance algae's food supply is reduced.

Adding filter media, sponges, etc. to remove the phosphate is a good partial solution, but that material is usually going to have a short lifespan and does nothing to reduce the source, so you end up right back where you started.

How are your encrusting corallines doing on your live rock? Some authors suggest corallines produce chemicals that reduce the growth of nuisance algae. Making sure you have good coralline growth with correct calcium levels (350 to 480 ppm), and Carbonate Alkalinity Between 2.5 and 4.0 meq/L (7-12 dKH) --- this may help.

Certain species of animals will consume algae and help with the battle; Turbo and Astrea snails can help a lot, also there are some fish including some of the blennies and some tangs, that are good grazers---the Kole Tang for example, does a great job on algae for many aquarists, if you have the space for them. (edit: Funky, your tank is too small for this one - FB) Some have good success with Sally Lightfoot Crabs---they specialize in nuisance hair algae. Keep in mind, when the crabs get bigger they can predate small fish, but they have been known to attack algae like a lawn mower.
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Funky Fish
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Joined: 22 Jul 2006
Location: Dublin, Ireland

PostPosted: 2009.08.23(Sun)4:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, thanks a mill for all that info.

Well to start on this DOC Detox, I'm getting another Tunze nanostream powerhead to match the existing and replace the Koralia 1. I'm just not sure it's really turning as much water as it says it is.

I'm planning on getting a few more softies for the tank. Maybe some green star polyps, some more mushrooms. One reason because I want to fill out the tank a bit more. Secondly they will ever so slightly decrease the DOC.

I'm actually getting another white strip of AquaRay LEDs next week. With increase lighting I hope to see an increase in coral growth I guess. Would the corals be more likely to take slightly more from the water if they grew more?

I got a piece of red kelp for my tank from a marine friend! It's wonderful. He says that his has tripled in size since he got a small piece awhile back hence giving some to me. Would you know exactly what red kelp takes from the water? As in nitrates or even DOC?

I'm reading lots about this vodka dosing and I think I might just try it.

Oddly a mysterious orange-hairy little crab appeared the other night in the clump of hair algae. He sawed off a big chunk and I watched him take it into a crevice in a rock and...eat it? Anyway it's reduced more and more as the nights go by. ( Not saying it's all to do with this little crab)

I did some tinkering with my skimmer because what it is pulling out into the cup, I would describe more as very murky water as apposed to 'sludge'. I reduced the air into the skimmer hoping to getting a thicker consistency.

So I guess it's just keeping a close eye on everything for awhile and see what happens.
Thanks again for your help!
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FloridaBoy
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PostPosted: 2009.08.24(Mon)12:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry I don't have any experience with kelp, I suspect you may be referring to red Gracilaria, which is covered in the article I linked to from Calfo. Macro algae has been shown to reduce nutrients, usually nutrients are exported when portions of algae are systematically removed or pruned from the system, the growth of new algae material is key to uptake. I don't think there is any single "sliver bullet" for the problem, you have to hit it on several fronts per my suggestions... usually a large, properly functioning skimmer is the best starting point for this goal. Be careful with addition of Vodka or other methods of stimulating bacterial blooms; this is not an exact science and can be dangerous to your livestock due to oxygen depletion. Your research will lead to success...
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