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Old 05-13-2005, 08:06 PM   #1
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Need Help: Tank Revival

My tank has been neglected for the past few months and I really need to get things going again because it has gone too far. It is a 20g tank. Here is the description:

The glass around my tank is covered with some pretty hard algae growth, with thick hair algae in the back. The front glass has bubbles on it and purple (due to calcium?) and green (algae) all over it. My sand bed has decreased by about 1" and is about 1 cm above the black trim around the tank. My water line is 2" from the black trim at the top. The salinity is between 1.024 and 1.025. My mechanical filter is sucking in very little water (I believe the suction thingy is clogged with hair algae) and my skimmer (CPR Bak-Pak 2) is in almost the same condition. The filter cartridge on the mechanical filter hasn't been replaced in 4 months. Fortunately, I have had no fish losses. My sand bed is covered with a dark purplish black colored sludge/slime that keeps regrowing after removal. I tried (3 wks ago) to clean up the hair algae from the live rock, which was completely out of control and was successful in removing about 65% from the tank overall. Visibility into the tank is low. I have about 25-27lbs of LR in there and initially I had 20lbs of LS when I first set the tank up 10 months ago.

The tank is stocked as follows:

- 2 False Perc Clowns
- 1 (skunk) Cleaner Shrimp
- 1 MD Fox Face (temporary, he's only in there for short term housing)
- 4 Small Hermit Crabs
- 1 RBTA (about 3-4" across)
- 1 Coral, I'm assuming its a Green Metallic Brain from my research. It expands in the light and retracts when the water changes or the lights go out. It's about 4" wide when the lights are off and grows to about 8-9" when the lights are on. I could be wrong about the identification.
- 1 Coral, I have no idea what it is. it is red on the edges which are about 1-1.5" wide and has a 1-1.5" wide center which is grayish in color. When it's feeding time or the water changes or at night, it opens up and short tenticles come out. I have not IDed this so any help would be appreciated, for both corals.

Also, both corals as well as everything I have are quite hardy and have "forgiven" my mistakes in the past.

I have had my water tested 2-3 times during this duration and there has been no problem with the parameters.

Please, do not rebuke me on the condition of the tank. I know that these are unacceptable conditions but it was not up to me. The tank was in very good condition up until a few months ago. I would appreciate it if people focus on helping me get the tank back up on its feet rather than just rebuking me for neglecting it. I had some personal responsibilities that were of much more importance during this period and unfortunately, the tank fell in disrepair.

My plan for the tank is:

1) Get the Foxface out ASAP (might not occur before the other steps but it will be an "ongoing effort")

2) Do many water changes, 1 each day or so of about 2-3 gallons for approx. a week, after which I will continue with regular maintanence schedule

3) Remove, clean, and replace into the tank all equipment and make sure they are working properly.

4) Buy 10lbs of dry sand to add to the sand bed.

5) Clean glass to the best of my ability (really need help with this one)

6) Buy 15 hermit crabs and 10 snails to help control algae growth.

This is what I think I should do (not necessarily in order) but I'm sure I'm missing a lot more. I really need some help controlling the algae (especially hair) in the tank and finding a way to get the glass 100% clean. The sand bed is also a major issue that needs to be addressed.
All help will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,


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Old 05-13-2005, 08:46 PM   #2
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Sounds like a decent plan except i would definatly start trying to clean the glass and algea then worry about the fox face ect.


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Old 05-13-2005, 11:17 PM   #3
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Sound like you have a plan, neglect happens I know my house is neglected right now. Good luck trying to get it back.

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Old 05-13-2005, 11:40 PM   #4
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UPDATE: found foxface dead 10 min ago in the back of the tank. I assume he's been there about 36 hrs. I'm going to take him out as soon as I eat dinner. Just need to figure out how to because he's behind a heap of LR.
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Old 05-14-2005, 02:58 AM   #5
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Man the tank souds like a mess. I work for an aquarium cleanig service and i've found the best stuff for getting the hard algae off the glass is the scrapers made by kent. i prefer to use the plastic ones so they dont scratch anything. If that wont get it off then resort to a razor blade and a widget. To clean the rest of your rocks i would just pull them out into buckets of reay made salt water and scrub the crap out if them witha plain scrub brush. And instead of doing water changes every day i would do them every two days that way it will not be as much a shock to your system.
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Old 05-14-2005, 10:30 AM   #6
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Manual removal is the option for the algea right now. Water changes will help get parameters back in check. The hair algea is a product of excess nutrients in the water, mainly PO4 and NO3. When you do water changes and top-offs from now on, use a high quality RO/DI water and this should certainly help. On your 20gal I would suggest 4gal water changes every five days until your water improves. nce things are back in order preventative maintanance is the key. 2-3gal water changes once a week should keep things in check. Good luck...Lando
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Old 05-14-2005, 02:32 PM   #7
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Ok, I have encountered major problem. I cannot take the dead foxface out of the tank. He slid in under my biggest piece of rock and the only way to remove it is to remove everything in the tank. Is there any additives I can add to the water that will reduce the impact. There was this solution a while back that an LFS suggested I use to reduce the NO3 in my tank which worked very well. If I am forced to take out all the LR then I will but I'm hoping that I won't. I can see the head of the fish poking slightly out of the rock so I'm going to try and pierce it with a BBQ rod and try and pull it out. If that doesn't work...well then I donno what I am going to do, I might have to resort to taking everything out.

I begun cleaning the glass and removing the hair algae. My cleaner shrimp kept charging after me when I put my hand in the tank (it used to be afraid of me when I tried to get near it) and now I'm afraid of IT.

About the sand bed, do you guys think it would be ok to add 10-15 lbs of dry sand to the sand bed of what used to be 20lbs? And I'm pretty sure I will need a clean up crew to help me keep the tank clean of algae. I'm going to try my best to take out as much hair algae as possible (one rock looks like it has a green fro) but I don't want to have to clean my whole tank out of hair algae every 2-3 days (it grows fast).

Also, for the P04 & NO3, what additives should I use to reduce them? I'd appreciate it if suggestions are based on past experience. I also think my calcium level might be too high (is that possible?). My hermit crabs have purple (coralline?) on them and its all over the place (my rocks are nice and purple, an ugly piece of LR will become purple in 2 wks). I am adding a calcium additive (powder) for the corals but I only do so about once a week (1-2 tbsp). My tank is thriving (can I use that word?) with life but it is way out of control. Thanks for the help, just don't forget about me and keep it coming.

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Old 05-14-2005, 02:41 PM   #8
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the second coral sounds like a plate coral of some sort...pics would help..but anyways...i had the same problem with removing a dead fish...but my starfish and urchin took care of that...but they will prolly take care of corals as well..lol
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Old 05-15-2005, 03:00 PM   #9
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I got the fish out.
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Old 05-15-2005, 03:16 PM   #10
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I too battled with hair algae... the **easiest way** is to take ALL the rock out, and SCRUB like you have never scrubbed again!!!! I actually did it in freshwater so it would kill the cells of the algae, of course it killed a lot of life in there too, but I also used really hot water, I dipped the rock in almost boiling water for about 10 seconds so that the stuff inside would live, this got rid of the hair algae.

Lowering the amount of light will help, especially if you can get all the fish/corals out of there for a while. If you can put them in a temp QT then wrap the tank in paper then black trashbags or something and leave the light off for a while (I would say about 1-2 weeks) this will help kill off any remaining algae.

And yes use RO DI water!

Well I hope you get it back up to a nice condition, you might want to look into buying a 10-20 gal sump (or make one for cheap) this will significantly help you reduce your hair algae problems. I put in a 10 gal sump for about 50 bucks, and about 4 months later i upgraded to a 20L gal AGA sump. It works wonders!


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