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Old 09-17-2011, 02:03 PM   #1
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Exclamation Algae Ruled Reef Tank

So I bought my tank as a complete setup from craigslist. The thing evidently came with several problems, most being minor. The only big issue is algae growing everywhere! The previous owner hid it well, or I am doing something wrong as it has gotten much worse since set up 6 weeks ago. My tank only has one fish in it(came with three fish, 1 sergent major damsel which died from ick, 1 three stripe which I am trying to catch but he is too smart, and a clownfish which was caught easily and used to help purchase a pair of juvie clowns). I feed the tank once every 3 days. When feeding the tank will get any where between 9-15 pieces of mysis shrimp. It depends on who is out and hungry. I feed the two bleached BTAs three mysis each per feeding, each peppermint that shows themself will get three shrimp, and the three stripe damsel will take between two and three shrimp as he is a little shy of the tweezers used to reach into the tank and reach the nems and shrimp. Now that background info is out of the way, I have lots of hair algae growing with red turf algae, red bubble algae, dinoflaggetts(not sure on spelling), some diatoms(not many, just in one spot since set up), cyano, and one other unidentified algae. Every species but the one that I don't know is growing quite fast and spreading everywhere. The red bubble started as one cluster of seven bubbles and now is in 5 different parts of the tank. The green hair algae is a huge problem, it has taken over my only frag and a rock that had the base of a leather coral growing on it. I can no longer see the base of the leather at all in the forest of hair algae that is getting close to 2" tall. I was originally told to do some weekly water changes, but the problem got worse(I was using r/o water, previous owner used tap). I did do testing and no matter what or how much water I changed, I had 20ppm nitrates which is pretty high for one fish and very light feedings. I am comparing to people with similar set ups that are fully stocked and maintain roughly 5ppm nitrates. This fact lead me to beilieve that something in my tank is leeching stored cheimicals such as phosphate and nitrate into the water, thus feeding the algae.

Now this is where my dad and I butt heads. He believes that I should be taking out each piece of rock and scrub with a tooth brush and remove the algae. Now, please speak up if you agree with me that scrubbing will not solve the problem. He is saying to do this in addition to getting new sand(used the old sand due to time constrictions with live animals upon purchase) and all new water. I believe that this will make problems worse or not have any affect what so ever. My idea is to start new with everything within the display. I would be getting new sand, new water, and 150lbs of dry rock and 40lbs or so of live rock from the LFS. This would be after a water and vinegar scrup down of the glass walls and overflow boxes to kill the stuff growing in those places. I am at a loss being that all it takes for my dad to think he is right is for one person to say what he was thinking. I have researched and asked in some other forums I am a part of and they never mentioned that scrubbing was a solution, but said a restart would be a good thing to do for long term success. So please help me. Ohh my photo period is 7 hours with 4x 160 watt VHO bulbs(2 daylight and 2 acintics)
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Old 09-17-2011, 02:11 PM   #2
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do you use tap water because use ro/di water and do pwc everyday aslo if you dont hav any corals living turn off light for like a week
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Old 09-17-2011, 02:12 PM   #3
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i see you bought a leather i would either give back to lfs or see if they could hold it for u
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Old 09-17-2011, 02:14 PM   #4
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If your going to start new anyway just remove all the rock and keep them in heated,circulated saltwater in a big plastic bin,leave it in there unlit after scrubbing the algae off first,get rid of the old sand totally,then start on the tank with all new rock and add the old rock after its all clear,this rock will help you cycle your tank.
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:05 PM   #5
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The previous owner used tap water for the tank, and I had to use tap water some tap water when I got the tank becuase I lost 35-40 gallons of water during transport. I have since done 5 10% water changes with r/o water and actually most of them were more than 10%. I scrubbed one of the rocks to see how well it would actually work, and hair agae is starting to grow back on it. The leather came with the tank and he had it secured wrong so the little rock the base of it was attatched to fell of bringing enough tissue with it for it to start growing again. I can no longer see the growth with the hair algae being thicker than a green lawn.

I was wondering if my reasoning to believe that the rock has abosorbed nitrates and phosphates from the tank water is possible? Something isn't adding up when you have so many different kinds of algae growing like a wild fire. I have noticed that when doing water changes, the nitrates never go down. They stay at 20ppm, more likely to be around 30ppm because the color of the test is a little darker than the 20ppm. I have tested before and after a water change with no difference in nitrates. I honesly don't believe that a dimpy 1-1.5" layer of sand can give off that much nitrate and phosphate. I am running a fuge with a ball of chaeto and a reactor with GFO which is why I am completly stumped. I don't think scrubbing the rocks and getting new water and sand are going to cut it.
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David S View Post
If your going to start new anyway just remove all the rock and keep them in heated,circulated saltwater in a big plastic bin,leave it in there unlit after scrubbing the algae off first,get rid of the old sand totally,then start on the tank with all new rock and add the old rock after its all clear,this rock will help you cycle your tank.

I agree with this approach. It would allow you to salvage the rock and alos get rid of the algae issues. I used pool filter sand in mylast build, about $5 for 50lbs.

Keep the scrubbed rock in a heated and circulated barrel.

I would see if your lfs would be kind enough to hold your livestock for a few days so you can do it in an orderly fashion.

with what youre feeding and the light schedule the mass amount of algea is baffling. Also make sure to start with all fresh ro/di water, thats a priority.
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:42 PM   #7
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The previous owner used tap water for the tank, and I had to use tap water some tap water when I got the tank becuase I lost 35-40 gallons of water during transport. I have since done 5 10% water changes with r/o water and actually most of them were more than 10%. I scrubbed one of the rocks to see how well it would actually work, and hair agae is starting to grow back on it. The leather came with the tank and he had it secured wrong so the little rock the base of it was attatched to fell of bringing enough tissue with it for it to start growing again. I can no longer see the growth with the hair algae being thicker than a green lawn.

I was wondering if my reasoning to believe that the rock has abosorbed nitrates and phosphates from the tank water is possible? Something isn't adding up when you have so many different kinds of algae growing like a wild fire. I have noticed that when doing water changes, the nitrates never go down. They stay at 20ppm, more likely to be around 30ppm because the color of the test is a little darker than the 20ppm. I have tested before and after a water change with no difference in nitrates. I honesly don't believe that a dimpy 1-1.5" layer of sand can give off that much nitrate and phosphate. I am running a fuge with a ball of chaeto and a reactor with GFO which is why I am completly stumped. I don't think scrubbing the rocks and getting new water and sand are going to cut it.
You'll be surprised just how much gunk can be held in a sand bed,and after travelling it would have mixed it all up.
As for the pwc's you wont see a change in trates from doing 10% weekly,that schedule is more for when the tank is fine and you want to keep it where it is,you need to do more like 30% every 2-3 days to see a quick difference.It doesn't take much for algae to get a hold and your trates levels are probably a lot higher than 20 but the algae are consuming most of it.
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:52 PM   #8
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Also, do we know what the phosphates are? I didn't catch it if we did. lol

Maybe adding some GFO will help, but not as much as doing monster water changes or doing a re-set of the tank entirely.
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:59 PM   #9
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The other option maybe vodka dosing!!
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Old 09-17-2011, 04:03 PM   #10
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So, I guess I will tear down the tank and get new sand and r/o water. I will scrub the rocks and put them in a bucket with a heater and powers head. My lfs should hold on to my livestock for this. They are very nice and care a lot about how my tank is going. I will ask, but I don't think they will hold on to over 200 snails. They haven't really done much for the rocks or sand, mostly the glass. Any good methods on getting most of these snails out of the tank? I have 50+ nassarius snails and over 100 dwarf cerinths then quite a few other snails. I will be getting rid of the hermits as they have killed a few snails.
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