Cycling And Algae

Sebastian Perdomo

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I have a 55 gallon display w/ 40 gallon sump. Started with dry sand and dry rock. Has been running for 1-2 months. I had been dosing a Coraline Algae growth supplement to my tank for that time. I added a live rock w/Coraline Algae 4 days ago. The nitrogen cycle was nowhere near complete once I checked parameters. So I raised my DIY wet/dry filter because there wasn’t enough dry portion. I ran my cheap amazon light (that gets the job done) only on blue leds all day, and is not going through a daylight cycle instead it’s just 24/7 blue lights for now. I bought beneficial bacteria, and added it today. It claims to be instantly fish ready. I turned off my DIY skimmer. I also added Instant Ocean Coraline Algae benefiter instead of the Kent Marine brand I was using. I started seeing pink splotches on my silicone seams yesterday, and there is even more today. I really hope this is Coraline Algae, is it? Also is my tank really fish ready now?
 

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stella1979

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I'm not sure what's on your silicone, but it looks kind of hairy. Coralline looks hard, like calcium deposits. Sorry to say it but while I haven't heard terrible things about coralline boosters, I've heard that they are mostly snake oil. I don't believe there's a definite quick way to grow coralline. For my own tank, I went through several stages of different algaes before I recently began to see real coralline growth, about 6 months in.

I wonder why you're so eager for coralline growth right away? Is it because it will outcompete other algaes and make your tank less likely to go through the usual ugly early stages? It's completely normal for a new tank to first become covered with brown diatom algae. It's not pretty, but easy to clean, so it shouldn't get too bad as long as you're doing regular maintenance. The best way to prevent nuisance algae is by keeping nitrates low and phosphates at zero. Also, through nutrient export, which is what your skimmer helps with. I wouldn't be running the skimmer during a cycle though.

It would be best to just focus on your cycle right now. The bottled bacteria you added today is dependant on an ammonia source, which I suppose they intend to be a fish. If it were me, I would use pure ammonia instead and be sure to complete a fishless cycle before adding the first fish. The only way to be sure that you are cycled and safe for fish is when you know your tank will cycle ammonia all the way to nitrates in 24 hours or less. Are you familiar with the nitrogen cycle?

If you're interested, there's another thread currently discussing a fishless cycle on a saltwater tank. You can read it here if you'd like...
New Saltwater Builder (first Timer)
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

Sebastian Perdomo

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Yes, I do know about the nitrogen cycle. And I really want Coraline algae for aesthetic, and so that nuisance algae doesn’t spread. I have a fine sand substrate and it looks bad when all the reminants of the algae scraps are on the sand because it didn’t get sucked in by the overflow. And yes, I am completing a fishless cycle.
 

fishfanman

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I wish there's a way to stop coraline from taking over. I'm tired of scraping it off my glass. I don't like it growing in the corners and on my pumps.
 

Jesterrace

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Sebastian Perdomo said:
Yes, I do know about the nitrogen cycle. And I really want Coraline algae for aesthetic, and so that nuisance algae doesn’t spread. I have a fine sand substrate and it looks bad when all the reminants of the algae scraps are on the sand because it didn’t get sucked in by the overflow. And yes, I am completing a fishless cycle.
So you didn't add a piece of live rock to your dry rock until 4 days ago? The problem could be that your cycle didn't even start until you added the live rock and that could be part of the issue. I hate to say it but Freshwater teaches you a bad habit by putting additives in saltwater tank right from the get go. Outside of some form of jump starting the process (ie adding some kind of fish food, Aqua Vitro Seed or ammonia) you shouldn't add anything chemical or otherwise to a saltwater tank until you see that brown algae bloom come and go.
 

Nart

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No. That's not coralline algae, that's brown diatom. All tanks go through a new tank syndrome.
By using new rocks and new sand will introduce silicates to the tank. Silicates fuel the brownish diatom algae. Eventually the diatom will consume all the silicates in the tank and the diatom will eventually go away after a few months. From there
Just give it time and coralline will eventually grow. When I say give it time, like around 3-8 month mark. I personally wouldn't spend money on all this purple coralline boost and etc... Also, not all coralline algae are purple. Most of the time they are just brown or green as well. Coralline algae is hard to the touch and literally has to be scraped off with a razor or something. If you can just wipe it off with a scrub or towel. It's not coralline.

Patience is key. Let the tank do it's thing.

Most importantly, while it like lots of time and money was invested in coralline growth. I hate to say it, but I don't think your tank even started it's cycle.
Here's a link to refresh your nitrogen cycle knowledge: Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle
Anyone who has cycled a tank knows... you need a source of ammonia.

I'm not trying to be hard on you. Just trying to slow you down and understand some of the process.
There's a saying in the Saltwater hobby... nothing good ever happens fast here.
 

grantm91

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A with and without purple Coraline algae example.
cbec8044bef68bdb5f47103860ade201.jpg
de842da5501e46f6b798ebec26b7f481.jpg
I used wet rock and it still took 3-4 months to grow that Coraline.
 

stella1979

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I don't mean to be hard on you either Sebastian, but patience is key here. The ugly early stages of a saltwater tank are normal and part of a healthy process. It's my opinion that trying to skip this process and go straight to coralline is actually bad for a tank. You are adding unnecessary chemicals instead of letting the tank go through it's healthy aging/maturing stages. Yes, diatoms and green hair algae is ugly, but it can be cleaned up with regular maintenance so you're not staring at a real eye sore all the time. Then eventually, through testing and good husbandry, your tank will not continue to grow so much of the ugly algaes, and if it does, you'll know that it's time to test and see if there's anything wrong.

I know it's hard to wait, but I can't stress it enough. Nothing good happens fast here. In our tank we've had diatoms, small amounts of green hair and bubble algae, as well as ugly brown coralline that started at about 3 months. It's not been always beautiful, but we kept on keeping on and it was so exciting when purple coralline started showing up. It's also less stressful to take a step back and focus on one thing at a time. Your first concern when starting a new tank should be getting water parameters in the ideal range.
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

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fishfanman said:
I wish there's a way to stop coraline from taking over. I'm tired of scraping it off my glass. I don't like it growing in the corners and on my pumps.
Can you mail me some scrapings?!
 

Jayd976

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If you keep trying to rush things all you will end up doing is crashing your system. Just be patient and let time take its course. Saltwater tanks can't be rushed everyone who does ends up failing and wasting a LOT of money.
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

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Jayd976 said:
If you keep trying to rush things all you will end up doing is crashing your system. Just me patient and let time take its course. Saltwater tanks can't be rush everyone who does ends up failing and wasting a LOT of money.
Got it
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

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stella1979 said:
I don't mean to be hard on you either Sebastian, but patience is key here. The ugly early stages of a saltwater tank are normal and part of a healthy process. It's my opinion that trying to skip this process and go straight to coralline is actually bad for a tank. You are adding unnecessary chemicals instead of letting the tank go through it's healthy aging/maturing stages. Yes, diatoms and green hair algae is ugly, but it can be cleaned up with regular maintenance so you're not staring at a real eye sore all the time. Then eventually, through testing and good husbandry, your tank will not continue to grow so much of the ugly algaes, and if it does, you'll know that it's time to test and see if there's anything wrong.

I know it's hard to wait, but I can't stress it enough. Nothing good happens fast here. In our tank we've had diatoms, small amounts of green hair and bubble algae, as well as ugly brown coralline that started at about 3 months. It's not been always beautiful, but we kept on keeping on and it was so exciting when purple coralline started showing up. It's also less stressful to take a step back and focus on one thing at a time. Your first concern when starting a new tank should be getting water parameters in the ideal range.
Got it
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

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grantm91 said:
A with and without purple Coraline algae example.
cbec8044bef68bdb5f47103860ade201.jpg
de842da5501e46f6b798ebec26b7f481.jpg
I used wet rock and it still took 3-4 months to grow that Coraline.
Did you change the lighting?
 

grantm91

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Yes I had a not so good nicrew, and an arcadia stretch marine, the stretch is an ok light if your tank is 12 inch deep or less.
 

stella1979

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Calcium will be in your salt mix. Otherwise calcium can be dosed with something like Kalkwasser, but that is not necessary until there are lots of corals that are lowering your calcium level.

Speaking of salt mixes, even if you are going for an eventual reef tank, do not start with a reef specific salt mix. For example, with Instant Ocean you can get their regular salt, (IO), or Reef Crystals, (IORC). When mixed IORC will give you a higher level of calcium than IO. I would start a reef tank with IO because IORC is meant for a full reef tank, with lots of corals that are using nutrients like calcium for growth. When you are first starting a tank, the uptake won't be quite so much.

Great link Nart
 

stella1979

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It's early, but the cycle is moving so that's good news! What kind of bottled bacteria did you use? I've successfully and easily cycled a few tanks over the last year but I've recently had a stalled cycle on a qt. I'm simply interested in what works for everyone else. Keep us posted please!
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

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Okay I will do a water change let me get the RODI running, because I only have 5 gallons of RODI on hand right now. How much of a water change do you recomend? I have a 55 gal display and i'd say the sump is filled with 25 gallons.
Yesterday's parameters showed-
Ammonia: 0.25 ppm
Nitrite: +5.0 ppm (off the charts)
Nitrate: 5.0 ppm
 

stella1979

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Dang, I really hate to tell you to change so much water. It's not as easy to do massive water changes on the salty side, I know. But, I think I would start with a 50%, then run tests again.
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

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Alright, I will do that, I am filling my buckets as we speak. I'm now considering buying two large trash cans with wheels to replace multiple 5 gallon buckets. My freshwater aquarium is only 20 gallons so I'm not used to these huge water changes. Ill update you on the levels once the water change is complete.
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

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My ammonia stayed a 0.25, my nitrite stayed off the charts, and my nitrate rose to 20 ppm which I find extremely odd. stella1979
 

stella1979

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Sorry I'm late Sebastian... it was a happy holiday, but a sad and busy weekend for me.

I'm no expert, but it must be that even with the nitrites very high, your tank is beginning to convert them to nitrates. I'm unsure how you're making/providing water for this tank, but it hardly matters. Either way, lots of big, salty water changes become a pain in the rear and the wallet. I would do my best to get the nitrites to 4ppm or less, but it does look like the tank is cycling and that's great.

I'm wondering where things stand today, almost 2 days since your last post?
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

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stella1979 said:
Sorry I'm late Sebastian... it was a happy holiday, but a sad and busy weekend for me.

I'm no expert, but it must be that even with the nitrites very high, your tank is beginning to convert them to nitrates. I'm unsure how you're making/providing water for this tank, but it hardly matters. Either way, lots of big, salty water changes become a pain in the rear and the wallet. I would do my best to get the nitrites to 4ppm or less, but it does look like the tank is cycling and that's great.

I'm wondering where things stand today, almost 2 days since your last post?
Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy your weekend.
I’m using a 4 Stage RODI filter for my water and it produces 55 gallons per day. When you say salty water changes are you just referring to saltwater or do you actually want me to increase the specific gravity of the water? I’m at 1.025 right now. Just did a water test-
Ammonia: 0.00-0.25
Nitrite: off the charts
Nitrate: 20-40
My freshwater test kit for nitrites goes from 2.0 to 5.0 with no in between. So not sure how I would get it down to 4.0
I’m doing a 5 Gallon water change today because it’s all I really have time for.
 

stella1979

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Thanks! I did enjoy the holiday and hope you did too.

I'm sorry I confused you. I'm just referring to regular saltwater. It just stinks to go through half a bucket of salt in less than a week! It's also time consuming to do all those changes, as you well know. :meh:

Yes, the nitrite test kit from API is that way. Perhaps others are better, but I haven't tried them. When I expect nitrites to be over 2ppm I just go ahead and do a dilution test so I can actually get a good idea of the actual number. You've done the dilution tests before, right? I'm not sure if I'm remembering correctly, so I'll explain.

Test a 50/50 mix of tank water and RODI water, 2.5ml of each - multiply results by 2 for the actual reading.

When nitrites are very high, this is what I would be doing now in your situation.
Test 1ml tank water mixed with 4ml RODI water - multiply results by 5 for the actual reading.
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

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The diluted test reads 0.50 ppm for Nitrite.
So the ‘actual’ reading should be 2.5 ppm.
I had never heard of the dilution tests and I’m glad you brought it up because it’s actually a great scientific process, and it helps you understand your readings better.
 

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stella1979

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Perfect! Now you know it's not so high and you can let it ride. Don't dose ammonia again until Nitrites are zero. Hopefully your next dose will convert faster.
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

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stella1979 said:
Perfect! Now you know it's not so high and you can let it ride. Don't dose ammonia again until Nitrites are zero. Hopefully your next dose will convert faster.
I thought that when Ammonia is 0, Nitite is 0, and there is a trace of Nitrate 0-40, the cycle is complete. For what reason would I dose ammonia again?
 

stella1979

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The cycle is complete when you can dose ammonia, then have it convert to 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites, and some Nitrates in 24 hours. The total conversion in a single day or less is the important part. Nitrates will continue to rise because they are only removed with water changes at this point. You can let the Nitrates hang anywhere under 100, (you may need dilution tests here too at some point.) If they get over 100ppm, do a water change to lower them. When you are done cycling, (converting ammonia all the way to nitrates in <24 hours, you will do a very large water change to bring Nitrates very low before adding livestock.

I know it's frustrating, but I do think you're almost there. How long has it been since you dosed ammonia? It would be helpful if you test nitrites every 24 hours. Seeing how fast they are converting/lowering will let you know how your cycle is moving.
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

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As of yesterday I tested and there was 0 Nitrite! Almost done, so I added some dried baby shrimp food to the tank to give it a little ammonia spike and I will test again tonight to see if there is 0 Ammonia and 0 Nitrite and some Nitrates to see if it cycled in 24 hours.
 

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Yay!

I've never cycled with food. I find pure ammonia to be a better choice because your adding a measurable amount that you can test within minutes. I have no experience doing it any other way, so take this with a grain of salt. Are you sure that the shrimp food will have had a chance to convert to ammonia by tonight?
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

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stella1979 said:
Yay!

I've never cycled with food. I find pure ammonia to be a better choice because your adding a measurable amount that you can test within minutes. I have no experience doing it any other way, so take this with a grain of salt. Are you sure that the shrimp food will have had a chance to convert to ammonia by tonight?
The results showed 0 last night. I added a good amount of food for about 3-4 fish. I think instead of a water change, to not get rid of the beneficial bacteria and to dilute the nitrates, I'll just add water to my sump since its only about halfway full right now.
 
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Sebastian Perdomo

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I’m re dodoing this because I got a new 90 Gallon. This is a nightmare all over again
 

stella1979

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Aww, I'm sorry it's been frustrating for you. A new 90g sounds pretty awesome to me. Good luck with it and please just let us know if we can be of any help.
 

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