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Old 10-05-2004, 09:38 PM   #1
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Hair algae arrgghhhh!!!

I've been fighting a hair algae outbreak in my 20 long for a couple of months now and I seem to be losing. It all started back in July when we went on a cruise for 10 days. I left an automatic feeder set to the lowest setting with flake food. Well, upon return the tank soon developed a nasty case of hair algae. I do weekly 3 gallon water changes with RO water and use kent or reef crystals salt. The pH is around 8.0-8.3, Ca is usually at 400-430ppm and alk sits around 9-11dkh. I use a Prizm skimmer with a surface skimmer and GAC and phosguard in the media basket. I've recently started removing the LR and removing as much of the stuff as possible with a toothbrush but it seems to grow back. For cleaners I've got about 10 hermits, 10 snails and a Sally Lightfoot crab. What am I missing?????? The lighting is 1x175 watt 10k MH and 2x55 watt PC actinics both with 6mos or less old bulbs. HELP!!!!

Brad C.
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Old 10-05-2004, 09:46 PM   #2
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Have you tested for nitrates? Are you sure you are not still overfeeding? Have you been changing the RO cartridges? Astrea snails do a great job on hair algae.

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Old 10-05-2004, 11:02 PM   #3
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Lawnmower Blenny .....
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(1) Lawnmower Blenny
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(1) Spotted Mandarin
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(1) Banded Serpent Star

"But then again, fish do tend to eat one another. I often wonder ... if fish get awfully tired of seafood? What are your thoughts Hobson?"
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Old 10-06-2004, 09:00 AM   #4
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Have you tested for phosphates? That could be the source of the extra nutrients in the water causing the algea to grow.
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Old 10-06-2004, 01:21 PM   #5
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The RO water is store bought, so no cartridges to change. Nitrates always test 0 mg/L and phoshpates are present, thus the phosguard. I do have some astrea snails, would a lawnmower blenny outgrow a 20 gallon tank? I'm almost to the point of adding a sump/fuge and buying a better skimmer. Its driving me nuts!!!!
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Old 10-07-2004, 11:28 PM   #6
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I had an outbreak of hair algae a little time back. What I did was water changes every couple of days(2 -3 days), toothbrush scrubbing and running a diatom filter during the process. I found running the diatom worked really well because it collected all those hair particles I scrubbed off the glass. Diatom is expensive though. Raising the PH to 8.4 and keeping it there also helped. Now I'm hair free! That's algae, not my head!
Be persistent. Nothing comes easy when you deal with saltwater and everybody knows that it's all worth it.
Hope this helps
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Old 10-07-2004, 11:36 PM   #7
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I think you may need to buy an RO/DI filter. Have you tested the store bought RO for a TDS reading? Have you tried a few large water changes like 35-50% a few days apart? I've never used or read about phosguard but, IMO, lowering the phosphates going into the tank, rather than relying on this product, can only help. Adding a lawn mower blenny would be like putting a band-aid on a broken leg, the problem is still there. Good Luck
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Old 10-08-2004, 10:11 AM   #8
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I am actually suprised there is no cyano problems as well. Flake foods are probabley one of the biggest contributors to algae issues if overfed. With the feeder doing the feedings, you may have ended up with much more than desired. The main problem will most likely be organic PO4 which is not detectable by your test kits. It is also much harder to get rid of. Eliminating the cause is one thing but with PO4, it must also be removed from the system or it will incorporate itself into a chemical "lifecycle" so to speak.

Animals will most often ignore this type of algae due to it's size. If kept cropped as close to the rock as possible, the hermits will be alot more effective but 10 is not a very large number when dealing with a problem like this. Personally I would leave the population as it is though even if you added another 10-20, they would help with the problem and then starve from lack of food when it's gone.

Hair algae like cyano is pretty much the same as far as getting rid of it though. When using the PO4 sponge, it is very important not to use too much at each addition but it is quite important to change it regularly. For your size tank I would use about ½-¾ cup of the sponge in a high flow area and change it every second day for new. It can be a little labour intensive and exspensive but it does eventually work. Sometimes as long as a week or more. The manual removal will help greatly as well. Once the algae is removed, the nutrient will go with it.

Be very very careful using Seachem's phosguard and the method I described above if you have any corals or anemones. The Aluminum oxide will be released in the system and will cause corals to stress and slowly expell zooxanthellae.

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