Blackout to get Hair Algae under control? I have corals.

DearPrudence

So my hair algae problem has been going on for months in my 12 gallon. The tank is nearly a year old, nitrates and phosphates are at 0, I do weekly water changes, all other parameters are spot on, have a cleanup crew of several nassas, a cleaner shrimp, turbos, and a hermit, RO water, I tried sea hares and they both died within 3 days after not touching the hair, yada yada yada. I'm going to upgrade to a 30 gallon in the next month, but until then, I've got hair algae on all my beautiful live rock and some corals. My LFS guy said I could do a 36 hour blackout and says he did it with his corals and they were fine, is that a good idea? I did a water change today, blew my live rock off with a turkey baster and sucked as much detritus out as possible, then I pulled as much hair out as possible. I fed all the corals today too so they shouldn't be hungry. In all of my research on how to get rid of hair algae, no one ever mentions the blackout, so I'm wondering if there's a reason why. If 36 hours is too extreme, is just a 24/48 hour okay? Thanks!
 

marine590622

https://buddendo.home.xs4all.nl/aquarium/redfield_eng.htm

Read up on the redfield ratio. Once you understand the ratio messure phosphate and nitrate and you will find your redfield ratio, as you experiencing a green algae, you will either need to add phosphate, or remove nitrate to achieve a redfield ratio that does not promote the growth of algae. Simple yes? well maybe not so much the ppm measurements involved are beyound the granularity of most home test kits, but you can also look at the chart and determine which direction you would need to go to achieve a required change in you algae state.

Hope that helps.
 

ryanr

HI marine, good info - with one caveat.
To the best of my knowledge, the Redfield Ratio applies to carbon dosing (VSV, NO3O4-X, bio pellets). The link you mentioned only contains two thirds of the ratio (16:1), the ratio, as I understand is actually 106:16:1 (Carbon:NO3O4)

"In simple terms, in order to accelerate uptake of nutrient by addition of organic carbon, you need 106ppm of organic carbon to reduce 16ppm of nitrate, and you need 106 ppm of Organic carbon and 16ppm nitrate to reduce 1ppm of phosphate."

Now for DearPrudence, it is very important to identify what type of algae it is. Normal basic hair algae normally disappears on it's own by keeping some snails (Turbos for example) and very low NO3O4

If it is Bryopsis - which is often mistankingly called hair algae (they look similar) - that's a whole beast of it's own, and can be very difficult to get rid of. The best success is achieved using Kent Tech M (I think that's it) - a magnesium supplement. ONLY do this if you identify it as bryopsis, and ONLY if you have a Mg test. PS - by all reports, it's only the Kent brand that works.

The following may help you identify your algae:

I'm not necessarily opposed to the black-out concept, but before doing the black out, how long are your lights on? Reducing the photo period may help.
 

DearPrudence

Yeah, I've reduced it to about 6 hours a day and it has helped, but I'd like to get rid of it once and for all and then "start fresh" with the new tank soon/skimmer, even less light, another water change, etc etc.

I don't think it's Bryopsis, it's softer and hairier, Bryopsis seems to look leafier.

I know a blackout will kill the algae for the most part until I can get my tank in even better condition, but my main concern is will this kill my corals and how long is a safe time to have them in the dark before I'm asking for them to die?
 

ryanr

I'm not sure how long they can go without light, and it also depends which corals.

As for the hair algae, remember, nothing good ever happens quickly on a reef, so if the reduced lighting is helping, I'd continue this path for a few weeks/months to see where you end up.

Then, if you've still got a problem, consider the black-out; I'd consider a black out as a last resort (IMO)
 

DearPrudence

Well I feel it has a lot to do with the tank size. It's a 12 gallon Fluval Edge. It's too small to fit a skimmer on it so I've been going without, so when I upgrade (I'm pricing tanks right now), I am getting a skimmer. On top of the size, it has a small hole on the top of the tank to reach through, so I feel like I can't clean it properly either. As I said, all my parameters are spot on (though I'm not quite sure what to do with this new Redfield Ratio you guys provided). The only thing I haven't tried is magnesium, but I'd still like to get this hair down to a manageable level, it's been tickling and growing on some of my corals so they aren't opening or growing as fast as they used to.
 

DearPrudence

I did the blackout for about 3 days (lifted the blanket to feed the fishes once) and it got rid of about half of the hair algae. Howeveeeer, I cut the lights back to about 5 hours a day since it does get a little light from being in the living room with us having lights on, and got 2 more Turbos. One of the turbos died, but I have one that's doing a great job of cleaning up anything remaining. I pulled the hair out each water change since and it decreased each time. I finally did another water change today and there was barley any to pull out! Super exciting stuff. (And I'm upgrading to my 30 this coming weekend!)
 

ryanr

Thanks for the update. I hope you can keep it under control.
 

DearPrudence

No problem! I was worried about my corals mostly, but they did just fine. My LFS assured me, too, that it's like a storm in the ocean, sometimes they don't get sun for a couple days. I have some pretty hardy ones, though, so I can't say this is a safe method for others.
 

mangups

DearPrudence... did u have algae growing on the corals too? I have a green star polyp and it seem to have hair algae on top of the purple bulbs. As a result some of the polyps did not open today....
 

DearPrudence

I did! I have star polyps, also, and hair algae grew on the purple mat of it. The blackout definitely helped get rid of it on the polyps, and I finally got a turbo that wasn't lazy and took care of the rest. Keeping the hair pulled out to keep it shorter helps him stay on top of it. I have close to no hair algae now, just 2 spots the size of a quarter, which is a great improvement from 90% of my rock being covered in long strands of it. I also noticed that rinsing my hands off in a pitcher of clean tank water after each pulling of hair helped to not spread it. It took forever; pull, shake, rinse, repeat, but it helped. I also cut down to about 5 hours of light a day because I have some pretty powerful LEDs. I'd like to have it on longer, but I got used to the time difference and would rather look at a hair-free tank over a longer-lit one.
 

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