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Old 11-21-2005, 07:40 PM   #1
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Live Rock and Substrate Questions

Greetings! I have had a few questions about live rock and substrate that I have wanted to ask:

1.) I seem to have this "red algae" that keeps growing a 1/4 inch thick layer on my rocks and substrate that I brush away every week or so, only to see it reappear. It isn't slimy in appearance, or producing "air bubbles" which leads me to belive that its isn't cynobacteria. Any ideas? How can I irradicate it?

2.) This is probably due to algae growth, but how can I encourage the growth of the purple coral line algae? Are there techniques, or possibly supplements? Is it a question of water circulation? Maybe I'm just being impatient, the aquarium has been running for about one year.

3.) Finally, can you suggest any critters (fish or not) that will "stir-up" my substrate? (Either by living in it, or eating debris from it).

Thanks for your imput.
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Old 11-21-2005, 10:01 PM   #2
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Does sound like cyano. Mine never bubbled. If you are brushing it away you are just propagating it. You need to syphon it off as you brush it away. Probably caused by phosphates from over feeding or feeding store bought frozen food possibly. The coralline needs plenty of calcium and plenty of light. If you are feeding your fish processed foods you might want to consider making your own. That's how I finally got rid of our cyano. Could also be phosphate or silicate in your water supply(unless your are using ro/di). I use tap and got rid of the cyano by making "blender mush" recipe found on this forum. Do you currently have lr with coralline on it? You will have to have some already to get more. After you get rid of the cyano, you can seed your coralline by scraping the current crop and letting the scrapings float around and settle on new surfaces. I have also seen a product at the lfs that supposedly promotes coralline(I think it's something like"purple up" or something similar). What kind of substrate do you have and that will determine what to get to stir it up?
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Old 11-21-2005, 10:38 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply.

Right now my water supply is ro/di water. Will the supply from that system be phosphate free? Can you recommend a method to lower the phosphate levels in my water?

I have heard that frozen foods can degrade water quality when feed to frequently, so I try to avoid feeding it to my fish that often. Can you offer any advice for making my own food? Any books or articles you could reference?

For my substrate I have the Aragamax Sand that is supposedly super fine (.2 - 1.22 mm grains). It isn't a very deep sand bed, being about 2 inches in depth. I'd imagine different organisms require different depth of sand beds? Any suggestions?

Thanks again for your input!
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Old 11-21-2005, 10:44 PM   #4
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Also, to keep the cyano at bay (i agree, sounds like cyano) one of the most important factors is good strong current. What size is your tank and what kind of circulation do you have? Adding a powerhead or two aimed at the rocks will help keep cyano from sticking to rocks, and is often all you need to get rid of the stuff.

Oh, and nassarius snails are AWESOME at stirring up your sandbed, and pretty cool creatures all around, not to expensive. I had about 30-40 in a 55gal.

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Old 11-21-2005, 10:54 PM   #5
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Cyanobacteria can be fed by light as well. How long are you keeping your lights on per day? How long has it been since you've replaced your bulbs?
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Old 11-21-2005, 11:23 PM   #6
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Right now I have my lights on for 10 hours every day, dictated by a timer. I have yet to replace the lights in my lighting system, which has been about 9 months. How often do you recommend that they be replaced?

I do have one power head in my tank (it is a 90 gallon with a 20 gallon sump) that I try to move around from spot to spot inside the aquarium to get rock surfaces varied water flow every week or so. I have noticed that the powerhead prohibits the growth of algae where it is pointing at. Would another power head or two, when arranged with the proper flow pattern, help reduce the cynobacteria? The only water circulation right now is the out-flow box (located along the left side) and the input flow (also along the left side). This on its own probably isn't adequate flow? Any suggestions?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 11-21-2005, 11:30 PM   #7
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You DEFINITELY need more flow in that tank. I would have at least 4 good powerheads.
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Old 11-22-2005, 02:48 AM   #8
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holy moly... ONE powerhead for 90gal??? You want to have a 15-20x turnover per hour in a reef setup. Consider investing in some maxi-jet 1200 powerheads, they're really nice, reliable, and not very expensive.

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Old 11-22-2005, 10:48 AM   #9
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One power head maybe fine if you have good flow on the return pump in the sump. Adding 4 power heads to the tank is not the answer. I have 0 PH in either of my tanks and all is fine.
Have you tested for PO4in your tank? That would be the first ting I did, test ro/di water also. If the resin is used up or you have a large amount of PO4 in your tap water it can leach by the DI cartridge.
Post the numbers so we know how bad it is.
Low flow areas, old bulbs and PO4 are all things that can promote cyno. Syphon off as much as you can when you do water changes, stirring it up does not help. There are no know critters that will eat it to the point that its gone.
First step find the source then work to fix the problem and the cyno will die off. A phosban reactor will help also.
TEST for PO4 is the first step...
Good luck..
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Old 11-22-2005, 11:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaham358
Adding 4 power heads to the tank is not the answer.
Hold on a sec... it may not be the ONLY answer, but certainly there's no denying the fact that cyano HATES current, and increased current has worked for many of us in the war against cyano.

I think most would agree that one powerhead in a 90gal is not enough current despite whatever the return from the sump might be. For instance, my sister was running an AC500 on a 30gal (500gph) and one maxi-jet 1200 (295gph) and still had to add a second powerhead and aim it at a dead corner to effectively rid herself of cyano (note: using distilled water from bottles, and grossly underfeeding as well).

Please don't toss current aside, it can be an effective weapon against cyano.

Also, if you want to take the chemical route, phosban can help drastically reduce PO4. I use it in my 2.5gal nano reef in small quantities. Just be careful to pack it tightly and put it in a low flow area of the sump, preferably with something sitting on top of it. If it gets stirred up it will cloud the tank and may be harmful to fish and inverts.

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