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Old 06-24-2014, 05:34 PM   #1
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Grrr, Persistant Green Hair Algae

I have been battling GHA for some time now, and I cannot find the cause!

The tank is a 110 gal XH with a 40 gal sump. I do 20% WC weekly and I was feeding every 3 days, I cube or a few shrimp pellets. The tank is not heavily stocked, with 1 Tomini Tang (about 3"), 6 Cardinals, 1 GSpotted Mandarin, 1 Perc Clown and 2 Cromis. 1 pep shrimp, 1 Skunk Cleaner and a number of hermits, turbos and Nassarius snails. I'm no longer feeding that often and they get food about every 4-5 days. Except for anyone who wants to eat the algae of course (happy tang). Corals include Sunset Monti, Galaxea, Pagoda Cup, mushrooms and Palys all doing very well. Hammer, Favia, Zoas, Horn and Trumpet are slowly dying. My Frogspawn was growing like mad, then after I went thru a major tank reorg, while trying to remove the algae, it rather quickly died.

Lights are a 4xT5HO with brand new Geissmann bulbs, but the whites are off right now. so the Actinic Plus are on 10 hrs a day. The skimmer is a SRO-2000 pulling out the cup of skimmate every 3 days or so. Cheato is growing very well (and pruned back every week during WC) and I have PhosGuard in the reactor. A while ago I changed salt to Fluval Sea Pro, but that has caused a rather significant drop in my Alk which I just noticed. I have it up to 7.0 from 6.5 ten days ago and am dosing Alk buffer every other day to get it back up. I blame the salt for that as I am not heavily stocked on corals, and before the salt change I was running around 9-11dKH. After this bucket is gone, I'll switch back to AquaVitro or something else. Dosing until then, and more frequent checks too.

As for the rest of the numbers, here goes;
Temp - 79-81
Amm, Trites, Trates all 0 with 2 different test kits
pH - 8.3
Alk - 7.0dKH
Salnity - 1.0252 (digital probe)
Calc - 400 (up very slightly from my normal 360-380)
Phosphates - 0 (Hanna Checker, and liquid test)
Mag - 1500 (I have been raising it lately from 1300-1350 to try to kill algae)
Iodine and Silicates both at 0 as well, but I'm trying to dose Iodine up a bit)

The algae is mainly a GHA, but it is everywhere. Plus some Geledium, or Red Turf Algae.

So, any ideas as to where the nutrients are coming from, because I'm not putting very much into the tank and I'm pulling a fair amount of cheato out.

If I cant find the cause I'm afraid I'll have to pull most of my rocks out and put them in covered tubs and leave them for a few months to "cure" the algae out. I'm not looking forward to doing that.

Help
Ingy

edit: Water is RO/DI checked at 0TDS
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Old 06-24-2014, 06:37 PM   #2
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Old bulbs? Plus the tank will read no phosphates or nitrates because the hair algae will be consuming them so you may still have a source of phosphates or nitrates. Plus the dying corals flesh could be causing a nitrate problem that the algae is absorbing. My last gha outbreak I took the rocks out one by one and scrubbed them with a toothbrush in my water change waste water to preserve as much bacteria as I could. Once cleaned I out it back in and grabbed another. I did this for a few hours until I had cleaned all 300 lbs of rock in my tank. This method kept as much free floating gha out of the tank as possible. I also went to a 100 micron filter sock to catch as much detritus as possible and doubled the flow rate of my power heads for a couple weeks to blow loose any detritus trapped in the tank or rocks. I spiked my magnesium to 1850ppm with kent tech-m over the course of a month without water changes to keep for dropping my mg levels. I have been 6 months now without hair algae in my tank. The corals and fish didn't like the super heavy flow but it did the truck with getting the algae to fade away. Only other option would be to remove the corals into another tank and blackout the tank until the algae goes away and then tackle the underlying problem. I used rock other than calcium carbonate once and found out it was leaching phosphates into the tank so that might also be an avenue to look at.


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Old 06-24-2014, 08:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tkey3425 View Post
Old bulbs? Plus the tank will read no phosphates or nitrates because the hair algae will be consuming them so you may still have a source of phosphates or nitrates. Plus the dying corals flesh could be causing a nitrate problem that the algae is absorbing. My last gha outbreak I took the rocks out one by one and scrubbed them with a toothbrush in my water change waste water to preserve as much bacteria as I could. Once cleaned I out it back in and grabbed another. I did this for a few hours until I had cleaned all 300 lbs of rock in my tank. This method kept as much free floating gha out of the tank as possible. I also went to a 100 micron filter sock to catch as much detritus as possible and doubled the flow rate of my power heads for a couple weeks to blow loose any detritus trapped in the tank or rocks. I spiked my magnesium to 1850ppm with kent tech-m over the course of a month without water changes to keep for dropping my mg levels. I have been 6 months now without hair algae in my tank. The corals and fish didn't like the super heavy flow but it did the truck with getting the algae to fade away. Only other option would be to remove the corals into another tank and blackout the tank until the algae goes away and then tackle the underlying problem. I used rock other than calcium carbonate once and found out it was leaching phosphates into the tank so that might also be an avenue to look at.


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Brand new bulbs. Top quality too. I understand about the nutrients being locked up and agree. Dying corals could be lending to the problems, but I doubt I have enough for that to be the total cause. Not looking forward to trying the rock cleaning thing again. Did that once, but it came back. **** I need to find the cause. I did the isolation technique last Xmas but it came back. That's when I started having coral health issues. This time I'll isolate the rocks in bins and cure with covers. then I'll leave fish and corals in the DT. I'll have to build racks for the corals.
I doubt the rocks are leaching as I bought this system used and he had no algae at all.

Grrr.


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Old 07-02-2014, 09:37 PM   #4
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Might want to try phosphate again with a different test, it would be very difficult for GHA to thrive with no phosphate or nitrate. You could add a lettuce nudibranch, he will take care of it


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Old 07-02-2014, 09:50 PM   #5
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Your alkalinity is just within the threshold value. Algae thrives on lower alk. Slowly raise it up to about 9 dKH and just 6 hours of actinic until algae is under control. The link below supports my hunch.

PH Alkalinity for Growing Algae | eHow
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Old 07-03-2014, 12:54 AM   #6
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Grrr, Persistant Green Hair Algae

I agree, alk needs to be higher. Just raise it slowly as a big change can kill corals. The algae needs nutrients to grow. Period. No nutrients, no algae. I agree your tests look good because the algae grows fast enough to bind up whatever is available immediately.
Even then it's pretty hard to get a 0.00ppm of P4 on a Hanna. I work like mad to keep it around 0.05ppm.

Coral deteriorating, or die off in the live rock can certainly spike a algae grow out. I suggest continuing water exchanges, reduce feeding, maybe lower photoperiod a bit. Remove as much algae as you can physically. Every handful represents a significant amount of organics you don't want in the tank. Fish and snails just recycle those organics.

Phosgard or GFO in a efficient reactor should scrub those phosphates down and starve the algae.

What color is the liquid from the skimmer? 1 cup every 3 days on a 120 gallon system may be a little light. If it's chocolate brown you might go for more skim and shoot for a dark yellow.


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Old 07-03-2014, 02:21 AM   #7
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Phosphates tests. I have tried less accurate tests, and both read 0 as far as I can tell, but they were both less accurate than the Hanna test. When I first set up the tank in Nov 2012, I had phosphates between 0.06 and 0.1 on the Hanna test for about 4 months. Its been zero ever since (over a year). I'm working on getting my Alk back up since I switched salts. Even with the 20% WC every weekend I'm still adding 25 ml Kent Part B every 4 days and its still only up to 7.8 dKH (3.0 meq/l) in about 2 weeks. I'm gonna add it every 2 days until I get 3.5 meq/l or better. Corals do seem happier tho, since I've been raising it.
Whites are off and I'll reduce the actinics to 6 hours and hope. Fish haven't been fed in 4 days. Well, except for GHA salad.
Skimmate is a green tea color, not too dark, and I meant the collection cup, vice 8 oz.
Reactor is running Phosguard, turning nicely.
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Old 07-03-2014, 02:38 AM   #8
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How old is the system since you set it up? Most tanks go thru a algae stage. I use a ATS and algae is my main filtration.


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Old 07-03-2014, 02:48 AM   #9
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Its been up (at my place) for about 18 months. But I bought the system used (1 yr old) and transferred everything, and used a couple 30 gal QTs while I recycled it at home. He had it FOWLR, but he had everything he needed for a reef setup.
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Old 07-03-2014, 03:31 PM   #10
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I agree that algae needs nutrients to grow but it is accelerated with abundant light and water acidity. You do not want to remove all the nutrients at the expense of other beneficial algae and corals. It is a matter of balancing and not to affect much of your stuff. I would do the most simple process of elimination.
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