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Old 10/20/2019, 05:11 PM   #1
AJReefKeeper
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Green Hair Algae - Ready to Give Up!

I've been keeping saltwater reef tanks since 1994, and I can't remember ever having a hair algae battle like I have had for months on end now.

My weekly maintenance on this tank is out of hand and way too much for the little enjoyment I am getting from the hobby right now.

So, I have been battling green hair algae for almost one year now and I can't get rid of it. I have to take a toothbrush to the rocks every weekend. Otherwise, it gets way out of control.

Tank specs are as follows:

40 gallon breeder
bare bottom
minimal rocks now at about 20 to 40 lbs
Modular Marine 1600gph overflow
three chamber sump with filter sock (changed every 3 days), Reef Octopus protein skimmer, Skimz Quiet Pro return
one clown fish
a few soft corals
a lot of turbo snails and 3 urchins
lights are two Kessil a360WE tuna blue LED lights and an Aquatic Life 4 bulb fixture (mostly blue spectrum bulbs less than one year old) that is off now
lighting cycle is minimal at 12pm to 8pm with peak lighting for two hours at 50% - spectrum is mostly blue (color at 30%)
circulation pumps are one Vortec MP10 and one Icecap 1k gyre
I've used various salts and currently using Reef Crystals
*was running reactor with GFO and carbon for about 6 months but did not seem to impact the hair algae at all so pulled off the system
All water topoff done by kalkwasser reservoir using RO/DI water. RO/DI water supply kept in rubbermaid food safe storage container.

So here's the routine I am following every weekend:

20% water change with occasional 40% water change
scrape the rocks with a toothbrush to dislodge the hair algae
suck up all hair algae and remove from tank

Water tests:

alk = 9.9 (Hanna checker)
Phosphate = 0 (Hanna checker with text performed after 20% water change)
Nitrate = 0 (Salifert)
Salinity = 1.026

The only thing I can think of that is really different with this tank versus my previous tanks is the rock I used. I went with BRS Marco Reef Saver dry rock. And the use of LEDs versus metal halide.

I have previously shut down this tank, pulled all the rock out, soaked it in bleach for a month, dried in sun, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. I also removed all of my sandbed when the tank was shut down and left it out when I restarted the system.

Not sure why the green hair algae is so persistent. I barely feed anything these days. Food is either frozen seafood or dry food (Ocean Nutrition).

Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions?

I can't remember having this much trouble with reef tank.


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Old 10/20/2019, 05:48 PM   #2
Daddi0
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Are you sure your nitrate/phosphate test results are accurate? I would recommend vinegar dosing with your ATO but with your tests showing 0 nitrate and 0 phos.not sure that it would help?
Cheers! Mark


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Old 10/20/2019, 07:48 PM   #3
gprdypoo04
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Ahhhhhh yes the good old hair algae. I'm not sure what caused mine in the past but i grew so frustrated at it i ended up ignoring it for the most part. Maintained my cleanup crew and and it went away on it's own even with high nutrients. Just one of those things i guess.


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Old 10/21/2019, 02:15 AM   #4
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I struggled with GHA in my now 2YO 65g tank for the first year or so. Initially it was probably helped out by phosphates getting a little high and some over-feeding early (as well as just being a new tank) but as I learned about the hobby and my tank I corrected that. The problem was that the GHA now had a good foothold and was not going anywhere. I had tried LC and Later NoPoX along the way.

As my nutrients were already pretty much zero I stopped the NoPoX (LC had been stopped much earlier) and dosed Fluconazole. I also added some Money Cowries. This combination worked a treat, the GHA started to look very unhappy and the Cowries got fat eating it. 1 month later it was mostly gone. I am now letting nutrients slowly rise and (nearly) everyone is happy.

Just letting you know what worked for me.


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Old 10/21/2019, 03:40 AM   #5
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I have a similar situation with my 100-gallon tank. Nitrates and phosphates are 0 or near 0, confirmed by LFS tests and Trito in the case of phosphates. The system has 3 (!!!) algae fuges/sump tanks, one with Caulerpa and 2 with red algae. Yet the GHA is still growing like crazy in the main tank of that system while at the same time being largely absent in the fuges/sump tanks (of which 2 contain fish).
And despite of Alk, Ca & Mg being well in the green and the Triton test showing only 2 elements being off (Lithium twice as high as it should be and Iodine at 0, well and Phosphate TOO LOW), corals are not doing well or just die...
I'm really at a loss.


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Old 10/21/2019, 08:04 AM   #6
heritage
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At this point test results are useless. As long as the algae is in the tank your results will read zero. The algae is using it up as fast as it can.

I delt with the same problem for well over a year till I got fed up and got rid of the rock. I used Marco rock as well and it's nothing but a phosphate factory. Chances are its the rock that is causing your problems.
I ordered 200lbs of Fiji rock, bleached it then cooked and cycled it in a brute trash can for 3 months till there was no phosphate readings. I used phosphate -E a couple days prior to doing a complete water change on the cycling rock. I changed water a couple times a month.


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Old 10/21/2019, 08:20 AM   #7
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https://www.reefcleaners.org/aquariu...sorted-hermits

A big crew of these little guys will work wonders on your hair algae problem.


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Old 10/21/2019, 05:58 PM   #8
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yea,
The reds are pretty reef safe its the blue legs you have to watch around snails, trust me i made that mistake once........Good idea its what id try next verses chemicals or anything else at this point, just be sure to add a LOT of various sized shells with them as they molt & grow fast!


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Old 10/21/2019, 08:14 PM   #9
Uncle99
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yea,
The reds are pretty reef safe its the blue legs you have to watch around snails, trust me i made that mistake once........Good idea its what id try next verses chemicals or anything else at this point, just be sure to add a LOT of various sized shells with them as they molt & grow fast!

Safe till they grow, then they can, will, and in my case did, capture one of my clowns by the belly at night, and walked around the DT with it in his claws.

Since removing every single crab three years ago now, I have not had one "unexplained death" or simply MIA. I have no algae except coralline.

It much easier to bring your water parameters and light in line, so the algae can simply not grow.

take away its food....it will die.


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Old 10/21/2019, 09:00 PM   #10
Constantine
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Sorry to hear this. A few years ago, I had a heater that got stuck on. I noticed it at 95 degrees. I lost some coral and probably a bunch of stuff that I can't see inside all the rock and sand. After that I had a huge GHA and turf algae problem covering almost 100% of my rocks.

Two things worked for me. Pull each rock out and squirt hydrogen peroxide on them. You can even do this with rock that has coral, if you just avoid the coral. Search for it and you can find big threads about it. Worked really well for me.

Second, introduce an emerald green crab. I had a few that did a great job at eating away at all kinds of algae. Out of the three I've had, I had one that I video'd eating one of my discosoma mushrooms that I didn't care about. Other than that, no problems. Obviously, they can cause problems... but if you are at the end of the hobby cause of the GHA, then it's worth the risk.

Three years later, I always have GHA covering my power heads and skimmer intakes (where crabs don't go) and a tiny bit here and there. Whenever power heads are overgrown, I just pull them out and soak them in Hydrogen peroxide and put them back in. I basically do a couple water changes a year and don't really take much care of water parameters. But, I have a middle aged system with lots of great life on the rocks.

Hope that helps.


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Old 10/21/2019, 10:50 PM   #11
gprdypoo04
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Quote:
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Safe till they grow, then they can, will, and in my case did, capture one of my clowns by the belly at night, and walked around the DT with it in his claws.

Since removing every single crab three years ago now, I have not had one "unexplained death" or simply MIA. I have no algae except coralline.

It much easier to bring your water parameters and light in line, so the algae can simply not grow.

take away its food....it will die.
How big was your clown.....1 or 2 mm?????


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Old 10/22/2019, 11:22 AM   #12
Jayjay1981
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I had the same issue I jade a Fuge with macro algae but I guess not the correct light. I bought a 300w grow light I am throwing a bag full out a month. The key is to have the Fuge light as powerful or more power full then your display or they will compete I have 0 tank algae.


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Old 10/22/2019, 12:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Safe till they grow, then they can, will, and in my case did, capture one of my clowns by the belly at night, and walked around the DT with it in his claws.

Since removing every single crab three years ago now, I have not had one "unexplained death" or simply MIA. I have no algae except coralline.

It much easier to bring your water parameters and light in line, so the algae can simply not grow.

take away its food....it will die.
Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab (Paguristes cadenati) don't get large enough to grab even a nano fish that's still alive. They are also not fast enough to capture fish or even most snails.

As for taking the algae's food away - that's not working well either. I have virtually no phosphate and no nitrate and the algae still do excellent. I even cut feeding the fish an turned the lights off on the display and the green hair algae still do better than anything else while the corals are dying. I'm at a point where I actually consider adding a tang to the tank...

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3 P. diacanthus. 2 C. starcki

Current Tank Info: 200 gal 4 tank system (40x28x24 + 40B + 40B sump tank + 20g refugium) + 30x18x18 mixed reef + 20g East Pacific biotop + 20g FW +...
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Old 10/22/2019, 01:20 PM   #14
Uncle99
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Doesnít make sense to me, no light, no food, no algae.
After that, sorry could not help you.

Crab, true story, just under an inch, like I said, grabbed him with pincher, just at the belly.

I just have done better without them!

After 30 years, I doubt nothing in the box of water.



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Old 10/22/2019, 02:00 PM   #15
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I'm staring at a bottle of Vibrant Aquarium Cleaner at this very moment. I have a tank that has some really stubborn spots of hair algae. The tank is pretty mature and the algae doesn't return when I pull a rock out and scrub it with peroxide. The algae I have issues with is on rocks that can't be removed. Carbon dosing, GFO, LC, Reef Flux, urchins, crabs, snails, et al, haven't brought it to its knees. So... Vibrant gets the nod. There are lots of threads on RC and other places that are talking about this product. Almost all of them are positive. Thought I'd give it a try. Might work for the OP also.


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Old 10/22/2019, 04:28 PM   #16
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I know you said your lights are off but for some reason I think it's a lighting issue...I've had GHA before but usually manual removal and 25% every 3 days for a bout a month water changes have done the trick. Good luck!


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Old 10/22/2019, 07:53 PM   #17
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Umm sea hare !! And then plenty turbo snails works best


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Old 10/22/2019, 07:54 PM   #18
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Should add if itís really long Manuel remove a bunch but the sea hare especially will clean it um in a few weeks


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Old 10/22/2019, 10:47 PM   #19
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I had a major problem with some limestone rock that just kept giving and giving. I used fluconasole aka Reef Flux. You DO have to have a really good skimmer to use it, one of those skimmers that will produce a stiff foam, not just bubbles, because it will turn the skimmate dark, and it HAS TO BE gotten out of the tank. It might harm your tank if you don't have a proper means to get the dieoff out of there.


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Old 10/23/2019, 10:46 AM   #20
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for me, three days of darkness fixed my issue. all GHA disapeared.


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Old 10/23/2019, 11:52 AM   #21
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Hair Algae is the hobby killer. Most people have abandoned their tanks because of a long war with algae.


I have dealt with several out breaks over 35 years of keeping tanks. I can tell you that it's not nutrients leaching pout ofo your rocks and that blackouts do nothing more than kill the larger visible sections and release back the Nitrate and Phosphate from their decay back into the water. As soon as the lights go back on the surviving spores will start to grow very quickly and in a month you will be back to square one.


They Algae needs two things to survive, nutrients and light.

Your Nutrients cannot be zero or the Algae would not be thriving. Your Nitrates and Phosphates must be something other than zero! I suggest you get new reagents and test again.


Water changes, less feeding and a cleanup crew do go a long way to solving the problem but if it doesn't you might also want to pick a method for lowering your Nitrate. Carbon dosing, Sulfur reactor. Just pick something if water changes do not solve the problem.


BTW a friend of mine has a way of getting rid of it, but he has two tanks. He removes all the fish and corals from the first tank and then does the opposite. He cranks up the light and flow until the Algae is in heaven. He lets it grow until strands are like a foot long and everywhere. Then he just harvests out the long stuff and lets the rest grow some more. Within a about two months the Algae has eaten through every nutrients in the water and just starts to die off rapidly. When its all gone He then uses a large amount of carbon in his reactor and kills the lights for three days to polish the water.


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Old 10/23/2019, 01:37 PM   #22
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How big was your clown.....1 or 2 mm?????
i call BS too.... no way a tiny hermit was carrying a clown fish


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Old 10/23/2019, 09:54 PM   #23
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Ok, so what I have been doing, because I have been battling HA for about 18 months and this has made life much better is: I ordered some 12% h2o2 from eBay, about a pint of it, I shut off all the flow and then I use a salifert titration syringe to apply it to the base of the adage. It works wonders. Most corals are unaffected by it but a couple seemed to not tolerate it. 2ml/gallon of tank water in one day is fine and about 2-3 days later you will see once clean patches of rock wher you hit the mark.

Once applied, let it fizz the algae to death for 5-10 min before turning the flow back on.


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Old 10/23/2019, 11:23 PM   #24
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Ok, so what I have been doing, because I have been battling HA for about 18 months and this has made life much better is: I ordered some 12% h2o2 from eBay, about a pint of it, I shut off all the flow and then I use a salifert titration syringe to apply it to the base of the adage. It works wonders. Most corals are unaffected by it but a couple seemed to not tolerate it. 2ml/gallon of tank water in one day is fine and about 2-3 days later you will see once clean patches of rock wher you hit the mark.

Once applied, let it fizz the algae to death for 5-10 min before turning the flow back on.
Be careful with H2O2 if you have any nems. I did this once and it irritated my condylactis, which then released its toxins and nuked the whole tank. Before adding the nem, I'd done it successfully a number of times.

You can spot treat with boiling hot RODI water applied with a turkey baster and it works just as well if not better. You just can't get right next to coral as you can with H2O2. The boiled GHA must be delicious, because my CUC go crazy over it. Even my clowns will pick at it.

I've been battling GHA for about 6 months, and I'm just now getting on top of it. What's finally worked best has been slowly increasing the number of turbo snails. Pincushion urchins are great too, but mine always die within a couple of weeks.

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Old 10/24/2019, 08:31 AM   #25
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Be careful with H2O2 if you have any nems. I did this once and it irritated my condylactis, which then released its toxins and nuked the whole tank. Before adding the nem, I'd done it successfully a number of times.


I have an RBTA and it doesn't even seem to notice and I've done it better than 20 times. sounds like a lot but I'm winning the battle and the war.


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"I hate that hole"

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