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Thread: Eliminating, destroying, getting rid of Hair Algae in Display Tank - with Scrubber Help

  1. #1

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    Eliminating, destroying, getting rid of Hair Algae in Display Tank - with Scrubber Help

    Over the last month or so I have been attacking the problem of a Hair Algae outbreak in my DT.

    The tank is a 29 GAL high with a sump. Roughly 35 gal. total water volume.

    I have a UAS that I put together with a screen roughly 6 X 5 inches - with LED lighting of both reds and blues. 4 red and 2 blue LED's - plenty of light. May be overkill here, but I am not getting any screen burning.

    Feeding roughly 1/2 cube equiv. per day of flake, pellets and other kinds of food. I have a very large Engineer Goby, A clownfish and a blue/yellow damsel in the tank.

    I have a bunch of soft corals - Xenia and leather coral.

    I have attacked the Hair Algae with the following:



    Added clean up Crew. Lots of different kinds of snails plus crabs.

    Put in a GFO reactor - to reduce P.

    Cut back on the hours for the lighting on the DT to 8 hours per day.

    Running UAS 18 hours/day.

    at this point the hair algae still seemed to be growing fairly strongly. The clean up crew really didn't seem to make a lot of difference.

    I am getting algae that looks "wilted", seems to only grow so long. Unfortunately it still spreads and fills in the nooks and crannies of my live rock.

    I have been manually removing the algae by taking rocks out and scrubbing them with a brush in a bucket of saltwater - at least those which don't have corals attached.Put rock back in same places. Note: I have a 4 circulation pumps in the tank that give me a good mixed water flow on and around all of the rockwork. Don't seem to be losing any of the rock filtering capacity as far as I can tell.

    Algae growing back.

    Second stage:

    One week ago I changed the air supply to a much more powerful one, basically 4X what I had before. This gives me a very active water flow upwards across the screen of the UAS with lots of bubbles of various sizes. The algae growth seems to be doing OK with the light penetrating the wall of bubbles.
    The increased flow seems to be slowing down the algae growth. More wilting. Some seems to be actually dying off. Very slowly.

    Again, took out rocks and scrubbed them.

    Went to my local fish store and got 3 Mexican Turbo snails yesterday plus 5 more maroon leg hermit crabs. The Turbos are eating away. Crabs seem to be moving around but I can't tell if they are making any difference. A lot of the snails from the original clean up crew seem to have been eaten or disappeared.

    Changed the GFO yesterday as well.

    Nitrate at 0
    P is at about .3 = hopefully will go down more.
    I would like to really blast the GHA out of there. I can add more scrubber capacity, another UAS [got the parts and lED's] or whatever needed.

    I'll post pics of the tank and UAS screen so you can see what is going on.

    Any suggestions?

    Rick

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    It's probably been working all this time. P is coming out of the rocks, causing more growth on the rocks for a while. What matters is how much is growing on the plastic.

    When I transferred my rock (with P) from my 90 to my reef pool, where was a cycle causing algae all over including plastic. Also I had limited (only 1 SURF2) filtering. As I added filtering (now four SURF2's), algae decreased on the plastic but increased on the rocks. P measurements also started dropping. Since plastic can't store P, this is your sign that P is coming out of the rocks.

  3. #3
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    Can anyone show me one valid link to show phosphates have the ability to 'leach from rocks' in a normal saltwater aquarium setting (pH 7.8-8.2)? The only possible way for phosphate to 'leach' from rocks is if the pH gets so low the rocks start to dissolve, and if that were the case, everything in the tank would be long dead. It is exactly the same as someone saying 'GFO leaches phosphates' which we never hear because it isn't true, so why is the rock scenario repeated so often when it is the same concept? I am not debating that rocks can absorb phosphates in the process of calcification, that is well documented, but also well documented is the lack of ability to leach back out under normal conditions.

    Also, plastic aids in bacteria colonization (biopellets anyone?) and will actually help reduce N/P in a tank. I have personal experience with using a rubbermaid as a sump and experiencing the plastic container actually doing more filtering than the ATS that was in it, but like biopellets, rubbermaid (plastic containers) in a saltwater tank gets eaten by the bacteria and becomes very brittle in a short time, short being 1-2 years.

    Nope, it will not leach back out. The only way phosphates are going to get bound to a "rock" is if you have calcium carbonate precipitating out of the water onto the rock. As the calcium forms, it takes phosphates (and a number of other elements) with it. In short, for the phosphates to leach back out, the "rock (calcium carbonate) would have to be dissolved again. Which can only happen in very low pH, not something that is going to happen in a normal system.

    http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-09/rhf/index.php

    " A second mechanism for potential phosphate reduction when using high pH additives is the binding of phosphate to calcium carbonate surfaces. The absorption of phosphate from seawater onto aragonite is pH dependent, with the binding maximized at around pH 8.4 and with less binding occurring at lower and higher pH values. "

    "many aquarists find that calcium and alkalinity levels are stable over long time periods with just that scenario. One way this can be true is if the excess calcium and alkalinity, which such additions typically add to the aquarium, are subsequently removed by precipitation of calcium carbonate (such as on heaters, pumps, sand, live rock, etc.). It is this ongoing precipitation of calcium carbonate, then, that may reduce the phosphate levels; phosphate binds to these growing surfaces and becomes part of the solid precipitate. "

    "Simply keeping the pH high in a reef aquarium (8.4) may help prevent phosphate that binds to rock and sand from re-entering the water column. Allowing the pH to drop into the 7s, especially if it drops low enough to dissolve some of the aragonite, may serve to deliver phosphate to the water column. "
    from a chemistry standpoint phosphates are bound up to another ion (they dont exist in your rock as phosphate, but as say calcium phosphate, magnesium phosphate and sodium phosphate) in order to have phosphates in your water come from these sources you would need to exceed the breaking energy of these bonds. bacteria do this much more efficiently when they break up food, fish poo etc. are your rocks releasing some phosphate ions? sure, but they might account for .001% of your total phosphate concentration.

  4. #4
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    I don't think it from dissolution; it's from diffusion. Same as putting rock from a "bad" tank into a new "good" tank: Instant algae problems as the P come out of the bad rock.

    Reducing P by filtering produces the same "new, good" water that causes the P to diffuse out.

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    Have to disagree with you. In this picture I used rock that was fully saturated with N/P when I setup the tank.. half the rock came out of my 10 year old 29G that was a 'rock wall' aquascape for a decade, and the other half from a neighbors 5 year old tank when he tore it down. I know the rocks were 'bad' by the meaning we are talking about in this thread, but for the first 4 years of this tanks life it looked pristine and SPS corals grew like crazy. It was due to my filtration and maintenance regimen. Before I owned my own Hanna meter others would come over to test my tank with theirs and it always read 0.00. Unfortunately I don't have as deep of pockets these days so my extreme maintenance had to come to a stop and my tank has suffered ever since and I have tried so many different things to try and resolve it short of going back to 50G weekly water changes on a 75G tank, but back to the point, live rock does not have the ability to leach phosphates back into saltwater if the pH is kept proper, it may not have the same ability to absorb phosphates as it once did when it was 'clean', but that doesn't mean it leaches anything back out into the water once it is 'bad'. If you put a clean (no algae) 'bad' piece of live rock in a tub of saltwater for a week with a heater and powerhead and test the water, N/P will not have risen. Do the same in RO/DI water, that is a different story as the pH of RO/DI will dissolve the rock and release compounds like magnesium phosphate, calcium phosphate, and other types of inorganic phosphates that are already bound to other things.

    Can you spot the algae?


    How about a closer look? Nope, no algae.

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    Reading through all that I have some questions?

    Would a lowering of pH into the 7.8 range add to the growth of algae in a tank?

    Would raising pH to around 8.3 or so inhibit it?

    I have seen posts in other forums as well that claim live rock tends to give off nutrients of various kinds including P for a while after it is placed in a tank.

    All I know is that I put some supposedly cured live rock in my system and got a major outbreak of GHA!

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    and yes, I get growth on plastic in the tank. Thinking to make a scrubber just out of plastic tubing :-)

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    I don't think pH by itself matters to the algae; just nutrients, light, flow, and attachment.

    For the plastic, is it clean, or is there a layer of coralline?

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by SantaMonica View Post
    I don't think pH by itself matters to the algae; just nutrients, light, flow, and attachment.

    For the plastic, is it clean, or is there a layer of coralline?
    Clean.

    my overflow box, plastic tubing, powerheads and every other piece of plastic tend to get algae growth. It comes off easily but is a pain to clean up.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by rleahaines View Post
    Reading through all that I have some questions?

    Would a lowering of pH into the 7.8 range add to the growth of algae in a tank?

    Would raising pH to around 8.3 or so inhibit it?

    I have seen posts in other forums as well that claim live rock tends to give off nutrients of various kinds including P for a while after it is placed in a tank.

    All I know is that I put some supposedly cured live rock in my system and got a major outbreak of GHA!
    The point Ace is making is that Phosphate can and will precipitate out under certain conditions (at high pH, etc) and that in general, pH would have to drop very low in order for P to leech out. So if you keep your tank pH at high levels all the time, you will never get significant phosphate out of your rocks. When people acid bath rocks, this will break up the matrix and p will be released. Then when you soak in RODI (which technically has no pH, not to be confused with zero) it will leech out like crazy. Put it in high pH saltwater and it won't. So in relation to algae growth occuring due to presence of available phosphate, if you keep your pH high, this phosphate would not be available. But it is a hidden thing, because one the rock is saturated, the P that WAS depositing onto the rock is not anymore, and thus available for algae consumption. So this would explain why you got growth after putting cured rock in the tank. It's not that the rock is leeching, it's that it is saturated and can't adsorb the P that you are introducing into the tank. Make sense? Ace, did I get that right?

    This is where a skimmer starts to show it's usefulness when ran in conjunction with a scrubber. A skimmer can remove some of the organic P in food before it can get consumed and turned into inorganic P. So if you have a P problem (and zero nitrates), you can use a skimmer (even ran only part time, skimming light, or significantly smaller than "recommended") to take that extra edge off what the algae can't uptake.

    Quote Originally Posted by rleahaines View Post
    my overflow box, plastic tubing, powerheads and every other piece of plastic tend to get algae growth. It comes off easily but is a pain to clean up.
    It only looks clean. After a day in saltwater, it's already getting a coating on it that allows algae to attach.

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