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Old 02-21-2012, 12:47 PM   #1
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need some advice

I need some advice. I have a 90 gallon reef tank that has been set up for almost 2 years and run perfectly until recently. I have not changed anything other than adding coral and we had a lighting change to the new T5s about 3 months ago.

The hair algae has grown crazy. I cannot get rid of it. I have tested my levels, my nitrates are at zero, phosphates were borderline but not high. I have done water changes, added turbo snails, pulled the algae with my fingers, added a phospate pad, cleaned the skimmer. I cannot think of anything else to do.

The sump is a homemade 20 gal long sump with a protien skimmer at one end. We have one double and one single wavemakers at opposite ends and live rock filtration in the sump and tank.

I am starting to think that my sump is not right. The set up maybe? The skimmer does not seem to be skimming anything. It is the bubble version and the bubbles never make it to the top. We purchased a larger skimmer with the intention on using it on a bigger tank, so I dont think size is the problem.

I am looking for any advise, I will try anything knew. I have asked my LFS and looked on line with no luck. The LFS just told me to add microbacteria and the problem would go away. Three weeks later - it looks worse not better.

Please feel free to give me any advise, If my setup is wrong, I want to change it. See pictures below.

We removed by hand a lot of algae last night, but you can see there is still a lot.

Thanks,
Tameria
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Old 02-21-2012, 12:54 PM   #2
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I would say your sump is a bit small for that size tank but that shouldn't cause the hair algae problem. You say you went to a larger skimmer and the bubbles don't seem to reach the top. Is you water level at least to the minimum water level required for the skimmer?

Another cause of algae outbreak is overfeeding. How much and what do you feed? How many fish?

Lastly, while not addressing the cause, you can kill the algae off by blacking out the tank for a few days. Turn the lights out and cover it with a blanket or something. Make sure you still get good gas exchange but try to eliminate all source of light. If you do that for 3 days the fish and corals will be fine but the algae will be history.
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:10 PM   #3
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Thank you so much. I thought about the blanket but I was worried about the corals. We slowed our feeding down considerably when this started. I only feed once every two days.

What kind of sump would you suggest, I have been wanting to get a bigger one (kinda like a PM- but it so overwhelming)
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:11 PM   #4
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I've also heard from a couple sources that low magnesium can cause the stuff to go nuts. They say you can remedy this with epsom salts, BUT you have to test for the magnesium as you do so and recommended using the calculator on the Bulk Reef Supply website to figure out how much to add. Now, I have not done that personally as I did not want to invest in a magnesium kit (although it's on my wish list).

I went through a bad bought of it in my 75 and used manual removal along with skimmer adjustment to get it under control. It's not a circulation issue, as it grows best on my spraybar and powerheads.
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:16 PM   #5
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i'd bet that your readings are low because of the algae consuming it all. You need to reduce light, nutrients, remove as much algae as possible, and do large water changes.
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:18 PM   #6
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The skimmer is causing problems of its own. If we turn it all the way the bubbles go all the way to the top and basically drain the tank. If I turn it one notch below that the bubles go half way down and the water level in the skimmer is below the neck of the skimmer. I thought I finally got adjusted just right last night and I woke up with water every where. The skimmer had overflowed again! Twice in less than a week. It has never done this before.
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:20 PM   #7
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problem with the pump. what kind of skimmer is it?
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:21 PM   #8
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I dose mag with the Epsom Salt method. Not because of algae but because the corals need it in order to make full use of the calcium. Works great. I use an Elos test kit to check mag levels.

As for sump size, there is no set rule but many say half the volume of the display. Bottom line, the more overall water volume the more stable things get.

Our local reef club flew in Marc from Melvs Reef to do a presentation on pests and the subject of blacking out a tank came up. He swears by it and said he has done it numerous times. I have heard others swear by it as well.

Matter of fact, Marc will be here presenting another topic at our annual Frag Swap this Saturday.
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:24 PM   #9
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How long has the skimmer been running? Takes a couple weeks to break in good. Also, if you have anything on your hands and put them in the water it can cause the skimmer to go crazy. I am no expert on skimmers and just repeating what I have read but sounds like that may be part of the problem. If it is new, I would turn it down just a bit and not worry that it isn't skimming until it finishes breaking in.
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:27 PM   #10
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IDK if it is the cause of the issue...but that you can't open it up to let it tune in is worrying...it is either a bad pump, too strong of a pump, or there is more fine tuning to it than you are doing. Even if the skimmer wasn't skimming and was dumping the nutrients back into the water, large PWC will remove them.
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:38 PM   #11
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We have had the protein skimmer since we got the tank 2 years ago. It is a Marineland that is supose to do a tank size up to 200 gallons. We bought one size larger than recommended. It worked for a very long time, but has only had trouble since the last cleaning. I think I will remove it and clean it again. Maybe I didnt put it together right or the pump might need cleaning. The pump is a rio 2500.

Maybe we have been trying to make too many adjustments to it to get it to work. I forgot about the break in period. Thanks. I feel better now. I think I will do the water change, clean the skimmer and pump and keep it on low until it is re-broke in. Hopefully that will help.

Thanks so much to all of you!!!
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Old 02-27-2012, 03:25 PM   #12
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Well, We blacked out the tank for 3 days. It killed the red slime completely and helped a lot with the green hair. The green hair is not gone completely but it is considerably better. I also vaccumed and did a water change along with redoing the rock set up in my tank. We added a new sump pump. We haven't re-hooked up the skimmer yet, but plan to tonight. It does look a lot better. Thanks so much for everyone's help.
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Old 02-27-2012, 03:58 PM   #13
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It's going to come back if the nutrient levels aren't kept under control. How often are you feeding? I would suggest feeding a lot less than you are now and increasing water changes for a few months.
I disagree with blacking out the tank because the algae is a symptom of the problem. It will only appear to be better until the lights are running again.
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Old 02-27-2012, 04:04 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdnelson99 View Post
I would say your sump is a bit small for that size tank but that shouldn't cause the hair algae problem. You say you went to a larger skimmer and the bubbles don't seem to reach the top. Is you water level at least to the minimum water level required for the skimmer?

Another cause of algae outbreak is overfeeding. How much and what do you feed? How many fish?

Lastly, while not addressing the cause, you can kill the algae off by blacking out the tank for a few days. Turn the lights out and cover it with a blanket or something. Make sure you still get good gas exchange but try to eliminate all source of light. If you do that for 3 days the fish and corals will be fine but the algae will be history.
When I suggested blacking out the tank I pointed out it was not a cure for the source of the problem but a means to get rid of what was already in place. I also pointed out that overfeeding was most likely the problem.

Oh, and I think I learned that from you. hehehehe
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Old 02-27-2012, 04:05 PM   #15
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We have cut back feeding because of this. We were feeding daily and apparently too much. We have also cut back the lights. They were on for too long. Our levels are testing fine, but I still intend to do weekly waterchanges for a while. Just until everything is completely gone. Other than lights and food, what else causes it?
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Old 02-27-2012, 04:27 PM   #16
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How old are your bulbs in yur lights?
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Old 02-27-2012, 04:40 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdnelson99 View Post
When I suggested blacking out the tank I pointed out it was not a cure for the source of the problem but a means to get rid of what was already in place. I also pointed out that overfeeding was most likely the problem.

Oh, and I think I learned that from you. hehehehe
I was only disagreeing with the blackout, not the rest.
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:00 PM   #18
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My lights are T5HO and I just bought the fixture in December.
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:44 PM   #19
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I was only disagreeing with the blackout, not the rest.
No problem. Just regurgitating what I have heard from others. What made my mind up was when I sat in on a presentation by Marc from melevsreef concerning pest. He spoke at the local reef club a couple months back. This subject came up and he said he had used it several times to get hair algae under control. But yes, he also confirmed overfeeding was the cause and without solving that problem it will always return.
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Old 02-27-2012, 06:19 PM   #20
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I used the blackout method combined with less feeding it worked good for me
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