Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Aquarium Algae Control: Diatoms, Cyano and Green Hair Algae - Part 1





Welcome to part one of our two-part video series about aquarium algae. Our goal with this series is to help you identify the most common types of algae that can plague an aquarium and provide you with a solid game plan to rid your tank of these pesky nuisance.

The first part of battling nuisance algae is to make sure your water parameters are in check. Using pure RO/DI water, performing regular water changes, not overfeeding as well as using an efficient protein skimmer will help minimize algae problems.

When cycling a saltwater aquarium, it is pretty normal to experience a diatom bloom which is first on our list of nuisances. Diatoms are always present in your aquarium and are a crucial to the health of your tank but when allowed to grow in excess, they appear as brown haze and will coat surfaces inside your tank.

Ideally the diatom bloom subsides after a healthy population of bacteria is established and a cleaner crew is added to the tank. Diatoms feed off of silicates and will appear when new rock, sand, and even plastic is introduced into your tank. Thankfully it is easy to remove with a turkey baster or algae magnet but will grow back impressively quick. GFO and Aluminum based phosphate removal media will remove silicates. Therefore, we recommend the use of phosphate removal media in order to help combat the problem in addition to a cleaner crew.

For aquariums with persistent diatom problems, check to make sure your T5 or metal halide bulbs are not more than 9 months old and that you are using RO/DI water to limit amount of impurities added to your aquarium.

Some hobbyist have success doing a “black-out” (turning off all lights and covering the tank) for 2-3 days to get rid of diatoms: however, water quality and/or lighting issues should be correct first. In general, this is one of the easiest nuisances to overcome.

Cyanobacteria is one the biggest nuisances in marine aquariums and can show up in your tank in a few different forms.  The most common Red Slime is deep red, almost purple, you can also experience bright green colored cyanobacteria as well as a dark colored almost black or blue-green cyanobacteria.

Cyano is actually bacteria, not an algae, and commonly occurs in tanks with elevated waste levels, specifically phosphates. Cyanobacteria tends to grow in areas of low flow and also grows faster in tanks with warmer water temperatures.

Adding a powerhead or adjusting your water flow along with maintaining a stable temperature around 75 degrees will help. Manual removal during water changes is the key to getting rid of cyano along with controlling phosphates with the use of GFO or some other method of nutrient control such as a refugium.

Red slime medications, such as the Boyd Chemiclean and various others, are very effective in killing off cyanobacteria in your tank, however, the cause of the problem must also be corrected or else the cyanobacteria will return.

Don’t get discouraged when battling cyano; it is extremely fast growing but with repeated removal and proper maintenance you should easily be able to rid your tank of this nuisance bacteria.

The green filamentous algae commonly called Green Hair Algae refers to a wide variety of different algae species.  It can be easily removed from your rocks or sand with tweezers or a toothbrush and will quickly break apart and disperse into your tank. It does not form any sort of roots or rigid branches.

GHA or Green Hair Algae occurs for the same reason most nuisance algae do: because of elevated waste levels, specifically nitrates and phosphates. Controlling nutrients with media and frequent water changes along with manual removal will reduce the growth of green hair algae in your tank.

Because it will break apart and spread easily throughout your tank when removed, it is best to clean your rocks outside of the tank to avoid spreading it around. Clean up crew animals, such as Mexican Turbo Snails and Sally Light-Foot Crabs, are also effective at helping to control green hair algae.

Diatoms, Cyanobacteria, and Green Hair Algae are all very common occurrences in marine aquariums and now that you are armed with the knowledge on how to prevent them, don’t let algae take the fun out of your aquarium game.

This wraps up episode 1 of our two-part video series and be sure to check in with us next week to learn about some of the trickier nuisance algae species in part 2 of our Aquarium Algae Control video series.