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Old 03-21-2016, 02:22 PM   #1
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Problems with algae and fish loss

I have a 40 gallon fish only tank with live sand. It is an established tank (well over a year after moving from another location) seems no matter what I do it becomes over grown with green algae and have had no luck keeping fish healthy other than the damsel which has been in there the whole time.

I have a fluval C4 filter and an eshoops hob protein skimmer.
I use RO/DI filtered water for water changes and topping off the tank.
I change about 20% of the water monthly which seems keep my levels low. My nitrates are typically below 20 and ammonia and nitrites are 0.

my bio load is pretty low as I only have a small blue tang and a blue damsel at the moment. I recently lost a yellow tang which wasn't showing any signs of illness and all were eating well.
I was more concerned about the blue tang as he was showing signs of lateral line disease so I removed the carbon from the filter according to advice given to me by my local shop and then added seachem matrix for added bio filtration.

The only area that I ve been lacking was cleaning the gravel and I am wondering if that is the cause of all my tanks issues. I read that not cleaning the gravel can make an "ammonia bomb" causing fish stress /disease and algae blooms.

So would my best course of action be to change the sand out?

Thanks for any advice





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Old 03-21-2016, 02:59 PM   #2
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I'm confused when you say you have a sandbed but are thinking about cleaning the gravel.
Either way, algae comes from nitrates and phosphates. High levels can also be toxic to fish. This is most likely what is going on, even if the tests say otherwise. Algae growth can easily provide false readings as it is consuming what is in the water column.


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Old 03-21-2016, 03:31 PM   #3
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When I mentioned about the gravel I was referring to the sand bed.
what I meant by that was that I hadn't vacuumed the sand bed much at all while doing maintenance so that is why I thought it could be the problem.

Whats the best way to remedy this?


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Old 03-21-2016, 07:20 PM   #4
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I would not clean the sand bed. It will foul up your water. Tangs need lots of vitamin c which is found in vegetable matter. Feed food rich in vegetable matter and also feed dried seaweed sheets. This will help in the HLLE in the tangs. Let them forage on these sheets as much as they can. Here is some links on the subject


Head and Lateral Line Erosion Disease (Cause, Treatment)


Marine Head & Lateral Line Erosion: A Description of the Syndrome and a Review of its Speculated Causes by Steven Pro - Reefkeeping.com
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Old 03-22-2016, 12:31 AM   #5
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Personally I would try and clean up the sand bed a little. When I do my water changes I use the siphon ONLY around the edge of the rocks to get the fish waste that's collected there. I try my best not to siphon out sand. I wouldn't dig deep into the sand bed with the siphon but just clean up the very top layer of nasty things. I'd say I get maybe a tablespoon or so of sand out. I also maybe once every 2 weeks stir the sand in a couple different places in hopes of helping to clean it.


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Old 03-22-2016, 10:57 AM   #6
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I do agree with siphoning around the rocks but I do know of at least two people that stirred their sand up and the whole tank died. My suggestion would be to get a sand sifting goby to help clean your sand. Top layer anyway. The Bullet goby is the best there is.
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Old 03-29-2016, 07:54 PM   #7
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Problems with algae and fish loss

Thank you all for the advice!

I feed them once a day with pellet food that contains Vitamin C. I also switch in frozen shrimp and frozen seaweed here and there.
With the growth of algae in the tank they have plenty to graze on.

Ok so I have one person for and one against messing with the sand bed.

My initial thought when I believed the sand was the source of the nitrates was to change a portion or all of it out. Would this be more harmful than good?

Thank you


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Old 03-29-2016, 08:23 PM   #8
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Problems with algae and fish loss

That or I could up my water changes to every week or every other week and clean the sand bed out really well. Though I may have to move the fish into a quarantine tank while I do so.

I've been pretty on top with maintenance other than I ignored cleaning the sand bed until recently.
The sand is original to the tank from its initial setup about 2-3 years ago. The tank was running other than 6-8 months when I moved out of one place and I to another. It has been active for over a year now.

In the last year I ve worked to get the tank running better so I upped the filtration by adding a HOB protein skimmer and started using RO/DI water.
Thought this would really improve my water quality. So Started adding some more fish and they seem to get sick and die or suddenly die with no signs of anything wrong and most have been after I think they have settled into the tank. Other than a blue damsel that has been in there for prob a year nothing seems to last in the tank. And on top of that the algae keeps growing.

Would love to get this figured out!




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Old 03-29-2016, 11:07 PM   #9
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You are feeding too much. I feed my reef tank every 3 days frozen food, but no more than a third a cube. You need to cut back and remove all the nutrients you've been putting in via water changes.


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Old 03-29-2016, 11:39 PM   #10
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Problems with algae and fish loss

Thanks! I wouldn't have thought feeding that small amount once a day would be too much. I was substituting the cubes for the pellet food occasionally but would cut them up as well. The full cube was way too much.

So I should try feeding them the same quantity but every three days instead?


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