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Old 08-13-2003, 09:13 PM   #1
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Brown Algae (yes . . . again)

Okay, this should NOT be happening, but I have brown algae!

I have a 40 gallon tank with 45 lbs of LR and several hard corals, two clowns, one red star, one serpant star, one brittle star and like 10 hermits and 10 various snails (they die off from time to time, so I'm not sure who is left - I had trouble helping them with new shells, but all is good now - I got new homes for everyone)

I come home from work, and I have a thin layer of brown algae on the sand. I mix it up a bit, clean out the protien skimmer and test my phosphates. Phosphates are at 0.5 so I add a "Phosphate Magnet" product to remove phosphates.

I come home from work TODAY, and there is a TON of brown algae and phosphates are at 1.5!!

I am using DI water for water changes, and I test it before I add it - it is perfect water.

Where do these diatoms come from?? Does anyone else just HATE them??

P.S. I fed my bubble corals (I have two varieties) last night with raw brine shrimp and it was TOTALLY cool!!! They just take it right out of your hand. THIS is the reason I got a SW tank!!! They may be classified as 'High Maintenance', but they are totally worth it.

Thanks for any help - I hate brown algae . . .

Todd
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Old 08-13-2003, 09:57 PM   #2
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Todd - how old is the tank and how old since the initial ammoinia cycle completed?

Firstly I hate the brown stuff too! If you had diatoms from using tap h2o and then converted to RO/DI then it will take some weeks for the diatoms to burn themsleves out. simply mixing the sand around and hoping the skimmer will clean up won't help 'cos they'll be back the very next day. you have to be patient ... trust me they will get really brown and die and then you can mix up just the top surface of the sand. are you noticing any air bubbles between you sand and the tank wall? this is a good sign that the system is working well. finally is ur tank exposed to direct sunlight for any part of the day - read that this can contribute to unwanred algae. hope this help? may some of the more experienced folks can add their $0.02.
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Old 08-13-2003, 11:40 PM   #3
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Re: Brown Algae (yes . . . again)

Quote:
Originally Posted by toddwess
I come home from work, and I have a thin layer of brown algae on the sand. I mix it up a bit, clean out the protien skimmer and test my phosphates. Phosphates are at 0.5 so I add a "Phosphate Magnet" product to remove phosphates.
Keep in mind these propducts should only be used for short periods of time and many are not designed to be left in more than 48hrs. Even if a shorter time, once they are exhausted they will leach the phosphates back into the water. Do you use carbon and if so what type? More thrifty ($$) grades can be very high in PO4 as they are not refined sufficiently.

Quote:
I come home from work TODAY, and there is a TON of brown algae and phosphates are at 1.5!!
I am using DI water for water changes, and I test it before I add it - it is perfect water.
Many times if the source water is not the source, the types of food you are feeding will be. An easy test would determine it. Place a small amount of the various foods you use into seperate water glasses. After a few hours take a sample from a glass and test it. Keep testing until you find the culprit. Chances are high it is one of those. Most likley frozen meaty foods are the highest on the list.

Quote:
Where do these diatoms come from?? Does anyone else just HATE them??
Diatoms are caused primarily by silicates not phosphates. Have you tested your tank and source water for these? Some of the better PO4 removers will also help with the SiO3.

Cheers
Steve
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Old 08-13-2003, 11:51 PM   #4
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Todd,

FWIW, the "brown" you are seeing is actually the dead skeletons of the diatoms. Diatoms feed primarily off silicates (as opposed to phosphates), so you may want to test your silicate levels in your tank, though a DI filter should be removing all silicates. They usually occur post-cycle, having fed off the elevated nitrate level that occurs at the end of a cycle.

Not sure how old your tank is, but I think it is relatively new. A diatom bloom in fairly typical of any tank post-cycle - as long as you are not adding silicates, and your nitrates are in check, they should die off and be gone.

I don't know what's up with your phopshate level though, 1.5 is incredibly high. How much are you feeding, what are you feeding, and how often?

Also, what type of test kits. Sorry to bombard you with questions.

Here's a good article on diatoms:

About Brown or Golden Diatom Algae in Saltwater Aquariums

HTH!
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Old 08-14-2003, 10:47 AM   #5
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Thanks to everyone for responding. I have some answers for you.

The tank is about 5 weeks old total.

I finished my cycling with 45 lbs of LR about 3 weeks ago.

I am using a Phosphate Magnet that says it can be left in the aquarium and remain active for 6 months.

I do not use Carbon, but would like to. What are the advantages???

The food may very well indeed be the problem. I have been feeding with freeze dried brine shrimp, and the PH moves it around all over faster than I can remove the un-eaten portions. As a result, I have been over-feeding quite a bit. I have a feeding ring now, and turn the PH off when feeding to help control this. I will test the food disolved in tank water for Phosphates - I'll bet that was it!

I have not tested my tank for silicates. Quite frankly, it takes me about 2 hours to test everything I am testing now and do not wish another test. The SeaChem Stronium test is going to be my undoing - I just know it.

WONDERFUL to hear that the "brown" is actually the skeletons of the diatoms! Glad that they are dead. Should I remove them from the tank, or just will they go away over time?? (Thanks RL )

Amonia = 0; Nitrites = 0; Nitrates = 0; Calcium = 425; pH = 8.3; SG = 1.023; Iodine = 0.6; KH = 150ppm; Coper = 0; Phosphates = ~1.2; Stronium = 50.

I hope the high phosphates don't kill anything.

Thanks again to everyone for their input and let me know what y'all think about the above.

Now, I'm gonna add a new post about feeding!

Todd
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Old 08-14-2003, 12:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toddwess
The tank is about 5 weeks old total.
I finished my cycling with 45 lbs of LR about 3 weeks ago.
That basically supports what ReefLady has suggested so at least you have part of the culprit nailed down.

Quote:
I am using a Phosphate Magnet that says it can be left in the aquarium and remain active for 6 months.
Even though they say it's safe I would still not recommend you leave it in permanantly. Once the PO4 levels are down you should remove it. If I remember correctly these types can be "recharged" by baking the granuales. If so. it's an easy way to save and re-use it later if needs be.

Quote:
I do not use Carbon, but would like to. What are the advantages???
It will help remove many contaminates from the water than the skimmer and other filtration may miss. It's not something you need to run all the time and many prefer only to use it once a week or so. Personally I use chemi-pure and leave it in 24/7. I have not noticed any advers affects in 7 years but you will find opinions on this one vary wildly.

Quote:
The food may very well indeed be the problem. I have been feeding with freeze dried brine shrimp, and the PH moves it around all over faster than I can remove the un-eaten portions. As a result, I have been over-feeding quite a bit.
That is most likely a cause but I would also add that freeze dried brine or any other meaty foods that are not fortified will not be very nutricious for the animals in the tank. You should look into fortified marine foods or make your own >>blender mush<<. Just remember the amount used for feeding is just as important as what you use.

Quote:
I will test the food disolved in tank water for Phosphates - I'll bet that was it!
Do not use the tank water for this as it already contains PO4 and will skew the results. Use RO water for a more accurate reading.

Quote:
I have not tested my tank for silicates. Quite frankly, it takes me about 2 hours to test everything I am testing now and do not wish another test. The SeaChem Stronium test is going to be my undoing - I just know it.
LOL... the tank is new and for the most part the many tests you will use at this point are not necessary. Except for the main three needed for a new tank (NH3, NO2, NO3) I would save the rest for later use. Until the tank gets stocked a bit more, simple water changes will fix everything you may need.

Quote:
WONDERFUL to hear that the "brown" is actually the skeletons of the diatoms! Glad that they are dead. Should I remove them from the tank, or just will they go away over time?? (Thanks RL )
Yes, especially once the "crew" is added they will finish it up quite well.

Quote:
Amonia = 0; Nitrites = 0; Nitrates = 0; Calcium = 425; pH = 8.3; SG = 1.023; Iodine = 0.6; KH = 150ppm; Coper = 0; Phosphates = ~1.2; Stronium = 50.
Everything looks great except the alk level to balance that with the Ca you should bring it up to 160ppm or 9 DKH.

What's the deal with the strontium test? You don't really need that.

Cheers
Steve
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Old 08-14-2003, 12:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve-s
Quote:
Originally Posted by toddwess
The food may very well indeed be the problem. I have been feeding with freeze dried brine shrimp, and the PH moves it around all over faster than I can remove the un-eaten portions. As a result, I have been over-feeding quite a bit.
That is most likely a cause but I would also add that freeze dried brine or any other meaty foods that are not fortified will not be very nutricious for the animals in the tank. You should look into fortified marine foods or make your own >>blender mush<<. Just remember the amount used for feeding is just as important as what you use.
Can my clowns eat the blender mush?

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve-s
Quote:
Originally Posted by toddwess
I will test the food disolved in tank water for Phosphates - I'll bet that was it!
Do not use the tank water for this as it already contains PO4 and will skew the results. Use RO water for a more accurate reading.
Excellent tip! Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve-s
Quote:
Originally Posted by toddwess
WONDERFUL to hear that the "brown" is actually the skeletons of the diatoms! Glad that they are dead. Should I remove them from the tank, or just will they go away over time?? (Thanks RL )
Yes, especially once the "crew" is added they will finish it up quite well.
This is why the brown algae suprises me - I already have a large cleanup crew. The are just lathargic and unmotivated me-thinks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve-s
Quote:
Originally Posted by toddwess
Amonia = 0; Nitrites = 0; Nitrates = 0; Calcium = 425; pH = 8.3; SG = 1.023; Iodine = 0.6; KH = 150ppm; Coper = 0; Phosphates = ~1.2; Stronium = 50.
Everything looks great except the alk level to balance that with the Ca you should bring it up to 160ppm or 9 DKH.
Understood. I have a product called 'Reef Builder' from SeaChem that is supposed to raise the KH. I'll have to see what affect it would have on Phosphates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve-s
What's the deal with the strontium test? You don't really need that.
Oh, I read somewhere I should test for strontium so I bought the test. It came with protective goggles and latex gloves for goodness sakes! I used it once, and haven't done it again.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions!

Todd
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Old 08-14-2003, 04:24 PM   #8
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Your clowns should have no issue with the blender mush, in fact they will most likely love it.

The cleaners may just be overwhelmed at the moment, give them time and they will get to it.

I have not personally used Reef Builder so I can't really help you there.

If you are not dosing strontium, don't worry about testing it. It's really not necessary unless you have animals that use it faster than a water change could replenish it (which I doubt). At this point in your tanks developement, I'd say skip the test and the additives.

Cheers
Steve
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Old 08-14-2003, 05:53 PM   #9
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Do mysis shrimp have any nutirents? I have heard that they contain more than brine....but is it enough...i feed my clowns mysis once or twice a week. The rest of the week i use flakes....tetra flakes (are they bad???) and sometimes formula 2 flakes..is that an ok diet?
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Old 08-14-2003, 06:08 PM   #10
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Mysis are actually fine and as long as you don't use it more than a few times a week you should be okay. I use mysis a few times a month myself as it is over 70% real protein unlike brine. The rest of the time I alternate flake types. Some good brands are HBH, OSI and Tropic Marine. Others may chime in with their prefernces.

Cheers
Steve
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