Severe Algae 50g

Fahn

Member
50 gallon low-boy, lightly stocked, some live rock and soft corals. 4x T5-HO on for approximately 10 hours a day, also receiving ambient sunlight. Cycled, Aquaclear 30 filter.

Water changes have not helped, algae is constant and persistent. I cannot do many water changes as the store is limited to 50 gallons total saltwater per week. I feed sparingly the days I am here.

Tank usually doesn't test for high nitrates, filter has phosphate reducing media and carbon. Algae is doing so well it is pearling...

How can I fix this? This is supposed to be the frag tank at work but I'm loath to keep anything in it.

 

DutchAquarium

Member
Try doing a black out for 3 days to get rid of algae. It's what I do and always works for me.
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
DutchAquarium said:
Try doing a black out for 3 days to get rid of algae. It's what I do and always works for me.
Already did a week-long blackout not too long ago after taking all the corals out, it came back full force only a week later. Also changed out to new T5s as the other ones were nearly 2 years old.

Boss wants the lights on from open to close so I can't do anything about duration and the fixture does not have an adjustable intensity.
 

Jesterrace

Member
10 hours plus ambient sunlight is a recipe for unwanted algae. About 8 hours per day is the max you want. Are you using tap water or RODI?
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
Jesterrace said:
10 hours plus ambient sunlight is a recipe for unwanted algae. About 8 hours per day is the max you want. Are you using tap water or RODI?
It's RO that is mixed to a salinity of 1.023-1.025 at our other store, we have a 50 gallon barrel that they refill once a week. I'm not very experienced with salt compared to fresh but know that tap water is a big no-no.

I know the light is too much, unfortunately I can't change that. Boss wants people walking by the shop to see the tanks but if it were up to me, I'd move them to the back of the store and give them deep cleans and possibly new substrate...
 

Jesterrace

Member
Fahn said:
It's RO that is mixed to a salinity of 1.023-1.025 at our other store, we have a 50 gallon barrel that they refill once a week. I'm not very experienced with salt compared to fresh but know that tap water is a big no-no.

I know the light is too much, unfortunately I can't change that. Boss wants people walking by the shop to see the tanks but if it were up to me, I'd move them to the back of the store and give them deep cleans and possibly new substrate...
Try talking to him and ask him how much people will like walking by a gross tank crawling with green algae.
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
Jesterrace said:
Try talking to him and ask him how much people will like walking by a gross tank crawling with green algae.
Every time I talk to him about the algae he just wants me to throw a bunch of snails and hermit crabs in there. They don't eat it, heck the astrea snails all have hair algae afros. I have tossed in sea hares, emerald crabs, cleaner shrimp, siphoned off the top layer of substrate, blackouts, sailfin mollies...

I take pride in where I work, and it's embarrassing to have the tanks a mess. This has been a losing battle for months and I'm at wit's end. It's not just this tank either, all 4 saltwater tanks are a mess. Aiptasia, red bubble algae, hair algae, direct sunlight...
 

Jesterrace

Member
Sounds like your boss is an idiot. To me, a place that doesn't take care of it's tanks is a sign of their business mentality.
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
Jesterrace said:
Sounds like your boss is an idiot. To me, a place that doesn't take care of it's tanks is a sign of their business mentality.
He's not stupid, but he does live out of state. He's a curator of live specimens over the saltwater and reptile section of a natural science museum they're building in Alabama, setting up their coral tanks and such. I think the main issue is he isn't here to see the severity of the issue and, being business minded, doesn't want to change the setup should a passerby decide to come in and look. The tanks do draw a lot of attention but they just look really bad.

Our other store does get routine cleanings and maintenance and, while they are far from flawless (I believe we are understaffed), they do look a lot better, generally.

To make matters worse, I'm only at this location 3 days a week, and the person in my place is clueless about aquarium care in general.

The only tank here that looks good is the planted 20 gallon I set up. And it gets more sun than any other tank here, but I planted the heck out of it and it has been nearly algae free for 4 months.
 

Gadfly

Member
"If it's not in writing, it doesn't exist."

Send him a pictures and ask him if he wants to display things that appear as you describe or do something to fix it. Sometimes bosses need to "see" what people are saying.
 

stella1979

Member
I hear you... I know you've got phosphate reducing media in the filter and that you're keeping an eye on the nitrates, but algae occurs when parameters are outside of the Redfield ratio. Redfield ratio - Wikipedia In other words, there must be an imbalance. If the boss doesn't respond to pictures by investing more time and money in the tank, then the problem is going to persist. Perhaps you could get more or better chemical media running? ChemiPure is a good choice. Since you have limiting factors regarding light hours and availability of clean water, perhaps the boss will be more likely invest in better nutrient export. You could sump the tank and have a large refugium. You could have a fuge, a skimmer, media reactors.... any of these things may help. This tank seems like it's in serious need of nutrient export.

Just want to say thanks for caring so much about a tank you have little control over. If more people see success in reefing, the hobby will grow.
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
stella1979 said:
I hear you... I know you've got phosphate reducing media in the filter and that you're keeping an eye on the nitrates, but algae occurs when parameters are outside of the Redfield ratio. Redfield ratio - Wikipedia In other words, there must be an imbalance. If the boss doesn't respond to pictures by investing more time and money in the tank, then the problem is going to persist. Perhaps you could get more or better chemical media running? ChemiPure is a good choice. Since you have limiting factors regarding light hours and availability of clean water, perhaps the boss will be more likely invest in better nutrient export. You could sump the tank and have a large refugium. You could have a fuge, a skimmer, media reactors.... any of these things may help. This tank seems like it's in serious need of nutrient export.

Just want to say thanks for caring so much about a tank you have little control over. If more people see success in reefing, the hobby will grow.
Tank currently has a media reactor, carbon I think.

Can't place a sump/refugium on it. It is on a rack with a 75 gallon underneath and no space for anything else. Do you need a sump for a protein skimmer?

I know every time I do a water change, I'm sucking 2 buckets of brown water out and there's a noticeable rotten egg odor, even though the substrate bed is only half an inch thick at this point.

I can do ChemiPure/Purigen/etc.

Thanks for the encouragement. I've tried several times to get the tank balanced but it's either unsuccessful or shot down. Like, it probably needs brand new substrate but apparently that idea has been turned down in the past.
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
Just asking out of the blue, would replacing the substrate be beneficial in any way? My theory is that the substrate is so infested that even if it were to be superficially cleaned, the spores would just regenerate in a short period of time.

After taking inventory I'm going to tackle the tank today. New chemical filtration, manual removal, possibly adjusting the timer on the lights to only 8 hours per day...
 

Jesterrace

Member
Fahn said:
He's not stupid, but he does live out of state. He's a curator of live specimens over the saltwater and reptile section of a natural science museum they're building in Alabama, setting up their coral tanks and such. I think the main issue is he isn't here to see the severity of the issue and, being business minded, doesn't want to change the setup should a passerby decide to come in and look. The tanks do draw a lot of attention but they just look really bad.

Our other store does get routine cleanings and maintenance and, while they are far from flawless (I believe we are understaffed), they do look a lot better, generally.

To make matters worse, I'm only at this location 3 days a week, and the person in my place is clueless about aquarium care in general.

The only tank here that looks good is the planted 20 gallon I set up. And it gets more sun than any other tank here, but I planted the heck out of it and it has been nearly algae free for 4 months.
Definitely send him pictures of the tank so he can see how ugly they look. Replacing the substrate will likely create more problems than it solves. Chemipure Elite would be a media bag option (combination of Carbon and GFO) as would just getting some straight GFO. Do you have a sump?
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
Jesterrace said:
Definitely send him pictures of the tank so he can see how ugly they look. Replacing the substrate will likely create more problems than it solves. Chemipure Elite would be a media bag option (combination of Carbon and GFO) as would just getting some straight GFO. Do you have a sump?
Nope, it's only filtration is an Aquaclear 30.
 

ParrotCichlid

Member
How much water are you changing per week?

Light duration needs limiting.
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
ParrotCichlid said:
How much water are you changing per week?

Light duration needs limiting.
I usually try to change out at least 10%, usually 20%. As previously mentioned my weekly amount of saltwater is limited to 50 gallons and there are 4 saltwater tanks to care for AND customers that purchase it.

EDIT: Customer purchased saltwater, I only have 25 gallons for 4 tanks...
 

ParrotCichlid

Member
Fahn said:
I usually try to change out at least 10%, usually 20%. As previously mentioned my weekly amount of saltwater is limited to 50 gallons and there are 4 saltwater tanks to care for AND customers that purchase it.

EDIT: Customer purchased saltwater, I only have 25 gallons for 4 tanks...
I can not believe how poorly this store is run. 50 gallon of saltwater a week cover customer purchases and tank water changes?

You need at least 100 gallon of water each week.
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
ParrotCichlid said:
I can not believe how poorly this store is run. 50 gallon of saltwater a week cover customer purchases and tank water changes?

You need at least 100 gallon of water each week.
The main store has 600 gallons of RO and another 600 gallons of salt controlled by a big RODI unit in their warehouse.

This store is mostly dog food and supplies. The tanks were installed less than 2 years ago on a whI'm and this location, being on a strip, can't facilitate a large capacity storage tank and has to rely on deliveries. It's stupid and inefficient I know, but unfortunately it's all I have to work with.

If I had the authority I'd get rid of saltwater here completely and just do freshwater tanks. Water changes could be done from the tap and it would eliminate a lot of the current headaches, and I know how to set those up to be low maintenance and take some abuse.

So I guess the general consensus is that until I can get better equipment and a more reliable water source I'm SOL.
 

stella1979

Member
Fahn said:
Tank currently has a media reactor, carbon I think.

Can't place a sump/refugium on it. It is on a rack with a 75 gallon underneath and no space for anything else. Do you need a sump for a protein skimmer?

I know every time I do a water change, I'm sucking 2 buckets of brown water out and there's a noticeable rotten egg odor, even though the substrate bed is only half an inch thick at this point.

I can do ChemiPure/Purigen/etc.

Thanks for the encouragement. I've tried several times to get the tank balanced but it's either unsuccessful or shot down. Like, it probably needs brand new substrate but apparently that idea has been turned down in the past.
Carbon is not a solution to nuisance algae. If it's carbon in the media reactor, then it should be switched to a phosphate reducing media like Chemipure Elite or GFO.

There are hang on back skimmers available, but I'm unsure if any are great for your water volume. Still, with phosphate reducing media in a reactor and a skimmer running, you should see a reduction in algae growth.

Are you quite sure there is adequate flow in the tank? I'm unsure what the rotten egg odor means exactly, but my tank had it after a 36 hour total power outage. I've mostly lived near the ocean, so to me it smelled exactly like really low tide. The smell decreased, but persisted for several days while the power was still out and we were only able to run one pump. Anyhow, it went away completely over the next several weeks when were able to get things back to normal.

Not sure what to think of your sand bed. It sounds like it could be really old and/or badly maintained, and therefor probably very dirty. It's not deep enough to have the good bacteria either. Changing the substrate completely could lead to a a sudden shift in parameters, but perhaps you could do it at a time when there isn't life in the tank? You'd probably go through a diatom phase too, but that should eventually pass and hopefully you'd be left with a cleaner and less algae filled tank.
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
stella1979 said:
Carbon is not a solution to nuisance algae. If it's carbon in the media reactor, then it should be switched to a phosphate reducing media like Chemipure Elite or GFO.

There are hang on back skimmers available, but I'm unsure if any are great for your water volume. Still, with phosphate reducing media in a reactor and a skimmer running, you should see a reduction in algae growth.

Are you quite sure there is adequate flow in the tank? I'm unsure what the rotten egg odor means exactly, but my tank had it after a 36 hour total power outage. I've mostly lived near the ocean, so to me it smelled exactly like really low tide. The smell decreased, but persisted for several days while the power was still out and we were only able to run one pump. Anyhow, it went away completely over the next several weeks when were able to get things back to normal.

Not sure what to think of your sand bed. It sounds like it could be really old and/or badly maintained, and therefor probably very dirty. It's not deep enough to have the good bacteria either. Changing the substrate completely could lead to a a sudden shift in parameters, but perhaps you could do it at a time when there isn't life in the tank? You'd probably go through a diatom phase too, but that should eventually pass and hopefully you'd be left with a cleaner and less algae filled tank.
The reactor is really dirty, but being freshwater centric I'm not sure how to maintain or handle some of the salwater equipment. I'll clean it and put chemipure in if we have any on hand.

The tank has the flow from the Aquaclear and on the opposite end a MaxiJet 600 powerhead, as well as the minimal flow from the reactor. Soft corals are swaying and there is plenty of surface agitation as well.

The badly maintained part sounds right. Every time I put the siphon in it's just swirls of brown water being sucked out. I think a lot of organics and algae have built up in it from neglect and that's why I have considered just scrapping it altogether, but have been worried about the negative effects that would have on the "balance" of the tank.

I get that odor from the sandbed of the other tanks as well when doing gravel vacs, but only the ones that use the black Caribsea Arag-Alive. The 75 gallon, with plain white sand, never has a noticeable odor.
 

ParrotCichlid

Member
Fahn said:
The main store has 600 gallons of RO and another 600 gallons of salt controlled by a big RODI unit in their warehouse.

This store is mostly dog food and supplies. The tanks were installed less than 2 years ago on a whI'm and this location, being on a strip, can't facilitate a large capacity storage tank and has to rely on deliveries. It's stupid and inefficient I know, but unfortunately it's all I have to work with.

If I had the authority I'd get rid of saltwater here completely and just do freshwater tanks. Water changes could be done from the tap and it would eliminate a lot of the current headaches, and I know how to set those up to be low maintenance and take some abuse.

So I guess the general consensus is that until I can get better equipment and a more reliable water source I'm SOL.
I understand that mate. What I don't get is why they can only deliver a 50 gallon drum once a week. Why can't they deliver 100g? Surely if the tanks and livestock are taking a negative hit due to this then its worth delivering an extra 50 gallon a week of water?

Is any particular reason why you guys can't set up a smaller RODI unit in your store? mix it straight in the shop with salt? Its efficient enough for the home aquarist?

I hate to say but I think you are out of luck for maintaining these tanks. Cutting the light down to 8 hours should make a difference but are they even allowing you to do that?
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
ParrotCichlid said:
I understand that mate. What I don't get is why they can only deliver a 50 gallon drum once a week. Why can't they deliver 100g? Surely if the tanks and livestock are taking a negative hit due to this then its worth delivering an extra 50 gallon a week of water?

Is any particular reason why you guys can't set up a smaller RODI unit in your store? mix it straight in the shop with salt? Its efficient enough for the home aquarist?

I hate to say but I think you are out of luck for maintaining these tanks. Cutting the light down to 8 hours should make a difference but are they even allowing you to do that?
We are currently full to capacity... just the 50 gallon drums of salt and RO prevent me from opening our bathroom door all the way.

I'll ask my boss about the possibility of getting a small RO unit installed. That way I could at least mix my own saltwater in house and have a much larger quantity to play around with.

It's a nightmare, man. Currently all I can do is empty out at least 10% in buckets and carry it across the store to dump out, then fill a clean bucket with fresh, clean water to pour back in. I hate weeks where I have to skip tanks but I really have no choice, unfortunately. I constantly have customers comment on how grungy these things look (except the planted system) but they understand I am extremely limited in what I can accomplish.

I've had to manually clean coral plugs with a razorblade because they were so infested with hair algae, and last week I spent 2 hours treating aiptasia with boiling RO water. This store doesn't even sell that many saltwater fish or corals, they could be removed and it wouldn't impact sales hardly at all. I can say, with confidence, I can set up a coral tank and keep it clean because I've learned what not to do at this location.
 

stella1979

Member
I agree that the store should either have more water delivered, or the boss should invest in a home RODI system for the store. You could get a 50 gallon per day unit for under $200, then the replacement parts shouldn't cost more than $100/year. That's not much when you consider the money that can be made from a nice looking frag tank. The RODI unit for the store would be cheaper than weekly deliveries in the long run when you consider all that goes into the delivery... the use of the truck, gas, paying the person that gathers, hauls, and delivers the water. Perhaps the boss would appreciate a nice digital presentation showing the break down of the cost and potential gain.
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
stella1979 said:
I agree that the store should either have more water delivered, or the boss should invest in a home RODI system for the store. You could get a 50 gallon per day unit for under $200, then the replacement parts shouldn't cost more than $100/year. That's not much when you consider the money that can be made from a nice looking frag tank. The RODI unit for the store would be cheaper than weekly deliveries in the long run when you consider all that goes into the delivery... the use of the truck, gas, paying the person that gathers, hauls, and delivers the water. Perhaps the boss would appreciate a nice digital presentation showing the break down of the cost and potential gain.
The delivery service is employees from the other store; boss also runs an aquarium maintenance service, so they have trucks with the capacity for several hundred gallons of salt and fresh. So basically the delivery is free.

However, they still only have time to deliver once a week due to being fully booked with accounts.

I will definitely consider asking about installing an RODI unit.
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
Just got word from a good customer I talk to frequently that people are displeased with our store and going to another aquarium shop. The pictures and videos of their tanks are pristine and their frags are beautiful... and half the cost of ours. They also do beautiful freshwater setups. She said that this store is getting such an influx of business that they are expanding and getting a big, beautiful new store. To top it off, the owner is a passionate hobbyist who breeds clownfish professionally.

Guess I know where I'm putting in my resume soon. I'm tired of being in an environment where I feel people don't care or can't be bothered to do things the right way instead of the fast way.
 

Jesterrace

Member
Fahn said:
Just got word from a good customer I talk to frequently that people are displeased with our store and going to another aquarium shop. The pictures and videos of their tanks are pristine and their frags are beautiful... and half the cost of ours. They also do beautiful freshwater setups. She said that this store is getting such an influx of business that they are expanding and getting a big, beautiful new store. To top it off, the owner is a passionate hobbyist who breeds clownfish professionally.

Guess I know where I'm putting in my resume soon. I'm tired of being in an environment where I feel people don't care or can't be bothered to do things the right way instead of the fast way.
That was the point I was trying to make in my previous post. If your business is aquarium stuff then presentation is crucial. I have 3 LFS within a 15 mile radius of my house (not counting the abomination that is known as Petco). The two closest to my house have crystal clear tanks. I suppose if you really look you could see a spec here or there but the glass is clean and the bottoms are not covered in hairy gunk. The one furthest away has the largest selection and has a mix of saltwater and freshwater but the store smells like a dirty enclosed beach, algae is on the glass and the fish have faded colors. Needless to say I have not bought a single thing from that store.
 

stella1979

Member
Fahn said:
Guess I know where I'm putting in my resume soon. I'm tired of being in an environment where I feel people don't care or can't be bothered to do things the right way instead of the fast way.
Do it! And do it soon. Chances are good that the new bigger store will need new passionate employees like yourself. I truly appreciate the care you try to put in at your job, and you deserve a work environment where both you and the tanks will thrive. I remember you talking about tank troubles at work months ago, and here you are still trying. Good on you bud, and I wish I could write you a recommendation.
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
Alright, final post on this topic I hope.

I am tackling the tank today. I have cleaned the filter thoroughly (saved the biomedia), dumped all the old grungy carbon out of the media reactor and replaced it with PhosBan, am dipping all hardware and scrubbing it in chlorinated freshwater, and readjusting the timer to 8 hours instead of 10. I am also placing a small bag of Chemipure in the filter... unfortunately it's all I have. The filter is also getting a new sponge and new phosphate reducing pads. I also have Purigen on hand but not sure if that's needed.

Final question: the substrate is less than .5" in most places, only .25" in some. Should I just... scrap it and throw in 2 new bags of substrate? It's disgusting, to be frank, and infested with bristleworms and algae. If the general consensus is that it's a bad idea, I won't do it.

Thank you all for your help and support.
 

stella1979

Member
Sounds like you're doing all you can.

I'd replace that substrate... but I'd be careful by being sure to have replacement water on hand in case of emergency water changes due to an ammonia spike or something. Can you test often? I forget, what is currently living in the tank? If there's nothing good living in there, well, spikes aren't as much of a concern of course. You could also consider keeping it bare bottomed for easy maintenance, as long as you don't expect to keep sand dwellers in the tank.
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
stella1979 said:
Sounds like you're doing all you can.

I'd replace that substrate... but I'd be careful by being sure to have replacement water on hand in case of emergency water changes due to an ammonia spike or something. Can you test often? I forget, what is currently living in the tank? If there's nothing good living in there, well, spikes aren't as much of a concern of course. You could also consider keeping it bare bottomed for easy maintenance, as long as you don't expect to keep sand dwellers in the tank.
I have other tanks I can transfer the inhabitants to. They are 3 sailfin mollies, 4 green chromis, 2 serpent stars, 1 skunk cleaner shrimp, a handful of hermit crabs, and a bunch of kenya and mushroom corals.

I have also considered the bare bottom approach. Currently the only sand dwellers are bristleworms lol, so nothing will be missed. My only concern with a bare bottom is cyano and just the overall look of the tank. If I replace substrate I won't be here until next Saturday and the person who fills in those days knows squat about tanks...

I only have enough water for one water change until next week, so I'm not sure if I want to risk causing an ammonia spike.
 
  • Thread Starter

Fahn

Member
Decided to replace substrate, will transfer livestock over to a mostly empty and cycled 30 gallon for the time being.
 

Most photos, videos and links are disabled if you are not logged in.

Log in or register to view

Top Bottom