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Timfish

Hair Algae, a second case study

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Thought I'd post another thread on getting rid of nuisance algae.   This system is a 4 year old ~200 gallon 4' tall half cylinder on a 42" tall stand.  Previous maintenance companies had tried to deal with it with gfo, algae reducing products and reduced feeding (once per week). The first thing we did was remove about half the rock and scrub it off.  The first water change was ~25 gallons.  We also  removed gfo, turned off the skimmer.  With the 2nd week we dropped to just 5%-7% weekly water changes with tap water.  We also added an auto-feeder set to 8 small daily feedings, ~1-2 grams Spectrum pellets daily total (X6 or X7 for approximate frozen weight).   Several urchins were added, a long spine, short spine pink and royal urchins and a couple Mexican Turbos (DO NOT ADD TO MANY SNAILS!  short spine urchins like Tuxedo or Royal are the best options since they chew the algae "holdfasts" off rocks ).  I removed the squirrel fish partly because it was seriously under weight 😕  The sump was setup to use a filter sock which I used a few times to help remove stuff but was permanently removed in August.  The finger corals are gradually being removed, my client doesn't like them but I needed them to compete with the algae until other corals get going.

March 3rd

April 27.  Here's what it looks like during a scrubbing.  The height makes it impossible to get to spots even with a scrub brush with an extended handle (I stuck it in a section of PVC).  Some of the sand was siphoned off with water changes, rinsed and dumped back in.

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June 15.  A little nit of cyano started to show up.  (This didn't happen in Mike's tank.)  It was just siphoned off with water changes.

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July 6.  Here's a weeks worth of cyano growth.

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July 20.  And the cyano has stopped.  (This step has taken longer in other systems.)

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August 8.  Still got some hair algae showing up but this is 3 weeks worth.

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Last week.

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Very nice. Nothing seems to beat algea better than good old manual removal. Also, urchins rock!


I know Tim you are big on no skimmer, did you permanently turn it off? Do you see a correlation to algea and skimmer use or was it just incidental that you turned it off? Regardless the tank looks great. I know your clients are happy!

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Thank you!   That the majority of my clients I've had for over a decade is a good indicator too.  :D

 

I definitely turned it off on purpose.   Look at Feldman's research I listed in my third post here.   Skimmers are doing two things detrimental to the long term health of reef systems.  First they are really screwing with the balance of microbial species in a reef system removing species that have hyrophobic qualities.  They are removing the labile forms of DOC sponges use to recycle carbon and nutrients in a reef system.

 

It is true all I'm doing is manual removal and using urchins to recycle nutrients for corals to use.   Since algae is disappearing from where neither I or urchins or snails or hermit crabs can get to the "holdfast" to stop algae from growing back quickly argues what is happening is a fundamental shift in the equilibrium of the system that favors corals over algae.   Dr. Forest Rohwer's "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas" is an excellent starting place to learn more about this.

 

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Here's a current video.  The the rest of the finger corals have been removed and a couple different Sarcophyton Toadstools added along with more mushrooms and purple Stylophora pistellata and candy canes.  And more fish.  I also took the video before wiping the algae off that had accumulated over the last week.

 

 

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Here's another update.   The long spine black urchin doesn't object to chomping on xenia and soft corals.  I would get rid of it, mostly because it really stings when I bump it, but the clients like it better than the xenia  and toadstools.  :hmm:

 

https://youtu.be/s4SNhmG5RZQ

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I feel like the urchins have done 99.9% of the work here and the rest was just simplifying the workflow for the customer/maintenance person


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

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Urchins can be critical for a successful reef as demonstrated by the problems the Caribbean reefs are having because of the dieoff of urchins in 1983 (search "Moe" and "Diadema" for more info).  (In the Pacific it's the large parrot fish that are primarily responsible for controlling nuisance alga and creating places for coral larva to land and start growing.)  What's overlooked is urchins are not removing the nutrients but simply putting the nutrients bound up in the nuisance algae back into the system to be used by the sponges, remaining algae and corals.  Depending on the amount of Dissolved Combined Neutral Sugars (DCNS) being released by the alga dictates how well the corals are going to be able to compete with the alga.  There's a well documented feedback loop (See Rohwer's "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas" for an introduction to this process) that negatively affects corals.  Urchins also can't get everywhere, as I pointed out in my first thread, there's nooks and crannies the urchins can't get into where the algae was growing then stops as the equilibrium of the ecosystem shifts.   In this system I did add urchins so it's to extrapolate they fisxed the problem and there wasn't any fundamental shift in the system equilibrium.  But you also need to consider what happened in my first "Hair Algae" thread, urchins had already been added but were not able to deal with the hair algae hence a more aggressive approach was used to eradicate the alga.   In both systems there were places where a toothbrush or small tube brush was the only way to get to the alga and remove it.   Saying there's shifts in the equilibrium of an ecosystem may seem nebulous but it was very gratifying to see Rohwer explain this in his book "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas".  I stopped worrying about nitrate and PO4 15-20 years ago that when I realized they were only small parts of a very complex puzzle.  There is much, much more going on in our reef systems than just simple nutrient export.  The various roles the different types of DOC in altering the microbial processes and their influences, negative or positive, on a coral and it's holobiont which directly affects it's resiliance and immunity is just now beginning to be understood. 

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