I am glad this came back up. I was thinking about giving an update on this anyway.
I have done the following:
1) Added a Lawnmower blenny and a small yellow Tang
2) Very slowly removed my bioballs.
3) Cleaned my skimmer and worked hard on making sure it is operating correctly
4) Modified my sump to be a refugium
5) Purchased 3 bags of Southdown Tropical Play sand
6) Added Grape Caulerpa to my sump (This was the only type of macro algae available locally. I plan to switch to some other kinds soon.
7) Added about an inch of sand to the bottom of my refugium
8) Removed all my old substrate from my aquarium, actually I probably only removed abou 80% since a lot is still under and behind my liverocks.
My nitrates dropped to between 10 and 20% when I removed the bioballs and let things line out for a month or so. They were between 25 and 50%.
They have dropped to around 5 to 10% since I added the Caulerpa. I have had the Caulerpa in the refugium for about 2 weeks now and it has doubled in size twice, i.e. it is growing like crazy indicating I have lots of nutrients for it. My hair algae is much improved, but still a problem. I have added about 15 turbo snails and they seem to help. The Blenny really didn't seem to touch the actual hair algae, but he certainly is eating something off of the rocks that look clean, i.e. he may be eating new growth.
My plans going forward are:
1) to continue to add sand to a depth of about 4 to 5 inches in the fuge.
2) Obtain some pods
from an established aquarium for the fuge
3) Add sand to the aquarium that I have been aging in the garage for several weeks per a procedure I found on the internet.
4) Continue to scrub the rocks and filter all the detrius as I do so.
5) Switch to some different types of macro algae in the very near future.
I feel like I am making steady progress as indicated by the drop in my nitrate levels and the amount of hair algae, but it is very slow. Also, much thanks to Steve-s who has given me a lot of advice over the last couple of months.
Any additional thoughts or advice would be most welcome.