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Old 08-08-2003, 07:25 PM   #1
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How to deal with brown algae?

Our 40-gal SW tank with now 7 fish (3" puffer, 3" Emperor Angel, 2" dwarf Angel, 3x1.5" damsels, 2" clown) few snails, 2" crushed coral substrate, and several large dead corals for hiding places, has been pretty stable for > month now. We have a Fluval sump filter and two powerheads, and 2 fluorescent lights (white & blue) that we turn on ~ 3 hrs/day. Temp kept @ ~ 78, ph stable @ 8.0, salinity stable @ ~ 1.23, ammonio zero, nitrites zero, but nitrates 5.0 ppm (scale?). Fish all healthy & active; clown had one big bite out of a fin, but he's fine & it's growing out. I know we're a bit overcrowded, but can't help that - they all have names & personalities now.

Only problem is we keep getting brown algae on the dead corals, and have to take pieces out every couple of weeks to bleach it out in the sun. I'm a bit worried about the nitrates.

As I understand it with my limited knowledge, such a tank is a one-way cycle (no plants to consume the nitrates), and the only way to keep the nitrates down is regular water changes. No bacteria will consume nitrates. Do I have this right?

Any other way to regulate it? I'm thinking of getting some cured LR, but think that would help filtration but not nitrates - right? Could we realistically introduce some kind of plants to consume the nitrates? Macro-algae?

Grateful for any advice. We are really enjoying this tank.

Bob Peitzke
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Old 08-08-2003, 08:37 PM   #2
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What is your water source for water changes? If it is just tap water, that's your problem....
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Old 08-08-2003, 09:37 PM   #3
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Oh oh. Yes, we've been using tap water. I believe my daughter (it's her tank) has been treating it with Amquel to neutralize the chloramines, beforing the SW conditioning.

Better way?
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Old 08-08-2003, 09:46 PM   #4
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Oh oh. Yes, we've been using tap water. I believe my daughter (it's her tank) has been treating it with Amquel to neutralize the chloramines, beforing the SW conditioning.

Better way?
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Old 08-08-2003, 10:04 PM   #5
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You should use either Reverse Osmosis (RO) water or Deionized (DI) water. I use a DI filter that I got from the fish store.

The important thing, is that it removes Disolved Solids (I think that is what they're called) and that is what generates the algae.

I accidentally set up my 40 gallon tank with tap water, and I have had brown algae forever. Im just now starting to get rid of it. I had to do a drastic 50% water change.

My recommendation (please take with a grain of salt) is to do a 10% water change quite frequently over the next few days. Use either RO or DI water. Salt it to the perfect salinity, temperature and pH (since you have critters living in there already - you don't want to shock them) I would do this a few times. Each water change takes some of the original tap water out. After a while, the brown algae will go away.

Also, you could look into a "Phosphate Magnet" product. It is a bag of stuff (for lack of a better term) that sits in your sump or skimmer that helps remove phospahtes from the water. Phosphates are one of algae's best friends!!

What is your current phosphate reading?

HTH,
Todd
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Old 08-08-2003, 10:09 PM   #6
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Phosphates are more the case of green algaes. Brown algaes>> Diatom and dinoflagelates are the result of silicates.
I think for the most part what todwess has suggested about the small water changes would be the easiest solution as well as looking into an RO unit.

Is it city water or well water?

Cheers
Steve
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Old 08-09-2003, 01:05 AM   #7
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Steve, since I just learned myself that my cyano problem probab;y stemmed from elevated phosphates and silicates, I have been looking for a solution. I didn't realize that as good as my well water tests, it is more than likely high is silicates. The phosphate remover I purchased is also supposed to remove the silicates. It came in the form af a net bag filed with tiny beeds. You are to place it in your filter or wherever there is a lot of water moving through it. I just installed it today in my back filter and will let you know how it does.

It says to let it go for threee days and then check the levels. Keep your fingers crossed.

Howard
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Old 08-09-2003, 03:05 AM   #8
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Resin products can sometimes be of benefit but be careful how long they are left in the tank. Many do not last long and the effects are quickly reversed and leach back into the tank. Once the levels are down to an acceptable level for the PO4 & SiO3, I would remove it.

Cyano has many fuel sources as well as the ones you have mentioned. Once established it can be hard to eliminate as it needs little to sustain itself and can grow with simple light and nutrient of anykind.

Diatom blooms on the other hand are very easily eliminated.

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Old 08-11-2003, 02:22 AM   #9
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Just to add, you can add the PO4/SiO3 product(usually phosguard) to the water you are going to use for the upcoming water change. This way you are not putting any new problems into the tank. Just pre-mix the water a few days in advance.
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Old 08-11-2003, 10:54 PM   #10
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More on brown algae

Our nitrate readings are holding steady at 5ppm. Water is city supply, not well. LFS guy told us not to worry, that all new tanks go through a brown algae phase in the 2-4 month time-frame. He said eventually it will be replaced by green algae, which more things eat. We have only 5 snails; thinking of getting say 5 more. Are turbos or bumblebees good? If not, what? Don't want to get more of the astraea's, as they can't self-right, and are a PITA.

Would macro-algaes help consume the phosphates and keep the tank in balance? Seems like they might add visual interest to the tank.

Thanks.

- Bob
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