Weird Algae And Worm Thing During Cycle Important

Discussion in 'Saltwater Beginners' started by grumpyandrex, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. grumpyandrexNew MemberMember

    I’ve just recently set up a saltwater aquarium. All I did was put some saltwater that I bought from my LFS and set up a filter (has carbon, filter pad and a sponge in the filter). I’ve let it run for almost 3 weeks now. I was initially gonna let it cycle for a week then test the water to see if it was okay for fish. However, during the cycle the tank became covered in brown algae and I saw this in there.
    I have no idea what it is, but it looks nasty. While it was brown with algae, I ended just leaving it be, because there weren’t any fish in it and I didn’t have the time at the moment. Since then the algae has disappeared yet these worm things are still there. I have yet to top it off with freshwater and check the salinity/gravity again. (Side note: the sand that I bought said it had beneficial bacteria in it. I don’t know if that might have something to do with it).

    It is a 8 gallon aquarium
    The temp is 76 degrees
    And the only objects in the tank are sand and live rock
    (Also don’t worry, it’s not outside. This a closed in porch out of direct sunlight)

    What should I be doing next before fish and is this worm thing harmful?
    I am beginner at saltwater so
  2. NC122606Valued MemberMember

    I don’t know much about them but I think they are
    Birstle Worms
    They are not bad but if it was a Fire work then it would.
    If you’d like to remove it then be careful because it’s bristles are toxic and can cause irritation.
  3. JesterraceWell Known MemberMember

    I don't know what that is but it sure doesn't look like live rock to me. Looks more like some fake decor and river rock and if that's the case it won't do a thing for you. If it is live rock you are grossly understocked. It's generally recommended that you have 1lb per gallon of tank. 76 is too cold for a saltwater tank, you generally want to be in the 77-79 degree range. Tapwater also isn't recommended so I am not sure if you are using RODI water (Reverse Osmosis with DeIonization) to strip the minerals that can be harmful from tapwater out of it. You then remineralize with the Salt that is designed for marine aquariums (ie Instant Ocean, Red Sea). Live Sand is nice for the mix of substrate but truth be told it's bacterial benefits are grossly overrated. The Rock is the most important. Live Rock is dead coral skeleton with beneficial bacteria and organisms growing on it. Dead Rock is just the dead coral skeleton that can be scrubbed down (aka Cured) and then can be made live again over time with the introduction of Bacteria. Both can be used. This is what an adequately stocked tank should look like:

    As for the Worm, that definitely looks like a bristleworm. You can trap and remove it if you want. I did live sand but I have never seen a Bristleworm in the going on two years that I have had it up and running and my rockwork doesn't have any of them since it is just dry rock with a bacteria coating.
  4. stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Hi :) Welcome to Fishlore and congrats on taking a walk on the salty side.

    I wouldn't worry for a minute over the brown stuff. It's diatoms, which are sometimes called the uglies. All new tanks go through the uglies at first. They will fade and if you do your diligence on maintaining the tank, they are unlikely to return.

    Indeed, it does look like you're understocked on the rock in the tank. The reason we need to use the correct kind of rocks in a saltwater tank has to do with its porosity. It's this negative space within the rock that holds our cycle because beneficial bacteria will colonize the rock. These spaces also hold much of the microfauna within a healthy biodiverse tiny ecosystem... in other words, you will not ever have a strongly cycled or mature biodiverse tank if you are indeed using fake decor or the wrong rocks, i.e. river stones.

    Also, probably 99% of salty tanks are tropical, and for many of the common species in the trade, you would need to keep the tank a degree or two higher. This semi-outdoor tank has me wondering though... depending on where you live, it is likely the tank will get too hot in the summers or cold in the winters, and these variations are what is more detrimental to a tank than a consistent temperature a little outside of what most of us would keep. That said, there is a lovely little fish that I wish I could have but cannot because it needs cooler temps than a tropical reef tank can provide. So... while you get the rock stock and the cycle figured out, you might like to look into Catalina Gobies. They are gorgeous, but I'm no fish stocking pro, so definitely do your own research with any and all of your fish choices.;)

    As for the cycle... it is very unlikely that the sand alone cycled your tank and you really will want to get some good rocks in there before you 'build' the cycle. I highly recommend that you go for a FOWLR tank, which stands for Fish Only With Live Rock. FOWLR's are great starter tanks because the benefits the rock provide give us a stable and easy to care for environment. I should also say... there are plenty of fish only (FO) tanks out there that do not contain rocks at all. Filtration should be maximized for FO tanks, and I'd venture to guess that these tanks need more cleaning/maintenance because an FO tank simply does not have the biodiversity that helps us provide stability in marine tanks.

    So, my suggestions...:)
    1. Decide what kind of tank will have, tropical... or not, in which case, you will need to do good research into the livestock that you can have in a cooler tank. Once you've decided which direction to go it, you'll need to make sure to provide a stable temperature for the appropriate livestock.
    2. Get some live or dry reef rock in that tank (I recommend going with dry rock because it's cheaper, guaranteed free of pests, and it will become live rock in your tank.) While you're in there, carefully (read: use gloves) remove as many Bobbit worms as you can. They won't hurt your tank, but they're ugly, they breed pretty easy and you surely don't want herds of them, they might hurt you if you run into them while you have hands in the tank... and scariest of all, some species can grow to epic proportions and become the stuff of nightmares. You might like checking out some videos on these guys, lol.;)
    3. Add an ammonia source to the tank to start, or at least test, your cycle. This can be pure ammonia, fish food, or other dead organics like pieces of raw table shrimp. I much prefer to use pure ammonia myself. This is because ammonia is where the cycle starts so pure ammonia gets us straight there and is immediately measurable on tests. With organics like fish food, we have to wait for the stuff to rot, test to find that it is indeed provided ammonia to the tank, (which it will, eventually), and only then are we really watching for the cycle to progress... waiting, testing, and watching for ammonia levels to process into nitrites, and then into nitrates. When your tank can test at 1ppm ammonia one day and then by the next, ammonia and nitrites are zero but nitrates are present, the tank will be cycled and ready for its first fish. Because dosing pure ammonia is quicker and easier to get to 1ppm ammonia, I recommend going with pure ammonia rather than organics.
    Again, warm welcomes to Fishlore.:D We are glad to have you and glad to help.:) Good luck! And... please keep us updated on your new tank.
  5. grumpyandrexNew MemberMember

    I live in Florida, so I don’t really have a change of seasons and the weather is always warm. The tank is in a shaded area so it’s not in direct sunlight and usually stays at a temp of 76-78 degrees. However I was planning on getting a heater for if it gets chilly and have it preset to a certain temp.

    There aren’t any fake decor in the tank, it’s all live rock and that’s what have me bristle worms. I was thinking of getting a coral banded shrimp soon because they are already multiplying. The nitrites are a little high at the moment so I’m waiting for them to go down. I was hoping to get clownfish in there when it was all cycled and ready for fish. I can dedicate more rock for the tank, but I might get dead rock instead. If there are any suggestions for what I should do concerning the bristle worm problem, please let me know. They are seriously stressing me out and they’re really gross

    It is live rock in the tank and that’s what caused the bristle worms. The saltwater is from a local pet store, but I check the salinity and such before putting it in my tank. I plan to get a coral banded shrimp for the bristle worms, especially since they’re already multiplying (gross). I can definitely put more rock in the tank, but maybe get some dead rock as to not contribute to the bristle worm problem. I also plan to get clownfish for the tank once it’s ready for fish. It’s been cycling for over 3 weeks now, but the nitrites are still a little high so I’m waiting for them to clear on the next week or so. If you have any suggestions for what I should do from this point on, please let me know!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2019
  6. stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Hey there fellow Floridian. I'm way down south and have a shaded enclosed porch too, though I'm quite sure temps out there get over 80° in the summertime, and thus, no outdoor tanks for me... though I would very much like a large enclosure out there for a chameleon. Like so many others, this species has invaded our state and there is a breeding colony not too far away from me which I wouldn't feel too bad about snatching from.

    Anyway! Sorry to go off topic, lol, it's just fun to talk to another Floridian here on Fishlore.

    For the worms... indeed, they are pretty gross. I'd use heavy gloves to manually remove any and all I could find, plus get predator for them. The trouble is, finding a predator that will live happily in a nano tank. I feel ya there as I've dealt with pests too, and there aren't too many aiptasia eaters that will happily live in a 20g either. Perhaps certain inverts can help, though I'm sorry to say I don't know myself. Perhaps @Jesterrace or @ryanr could help with that. :) As a last resort, you could do a RIP cleaning of the tank, though this is not easy nor safe without proper research. A RIP cleaning means that everything is pulled from the tank and thoroughly cleaned before putting it all back together again. There is a thread here explaining how the member did a RIP clean to deal with cyanobacteria, and this would be a good place to start if you decide to take that route.
  7. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Hi, Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni or Lysmata vittata) will eat aiptasia, and would probably be ok in an 8G (though 10 or more is better). If you go the shrimp route, be sure to get the species I listed, there are other shrimp in the Lysmata family often sold as peppermints that don't actually eat aiptasia.

    NB. L. vittata are more common in Aus, L. wurdemanni are more common in the US.

    That said, in a smaller tank, targeting with Aiptasia-X might be a better solution.