Home Algae Control -Taming the Hair Algae Monster!

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Algae Control - Taming the algae monster!

Getting hair algae under control !

We've all been there. A saltwater reef aquarium full of hair algae. Covering all the rock and blocking the live corals or other invertebrates. The fish ignore it, or just can't keep up.

hair algaeWhere did we go wrong?

To control the algae monster, we first have to understand it what caused it.

Hair algae is caused by an excess of nutrients in your system. Too much Phosphate, or Nitrates, or other dissolved organic matter.

Hair algae cannot survive in a system where the available nutrient levels are low, OR where other things in a high nutrient system out compete it for those nutrients. Or where predators eat the hair algae quicker than it can grow.

The easiest way is to starve the algae. Remove the food source. Because if there are too many nutrients in the water, that aren't being removed by skimming or grazing by urchins or fish, then the algae monster is going to win every time.

You need to rebalance your system in favor of the good things. And away from an environment that encourages the growth of hair algae.

Balancing your system means providing just enough food to you tank to feed the fish, (and possibly corals), but not enough food to feed the algae. You can have some nutrients in the water as long as the livestock in your tank is eating it up. But too much and algae will take over.

So how to make sure the nutrient level in the water is low?

There are two categories to consider:

1-The nutrients you ADD to the tank

2-The nutrients you REMOVE from the tank.

OK, lets do ADDING to the tank first.

The first thing is obvious. Dont over feed the tank. Your goal should be for every piece of food you put in the tank to be eaten by a fish. None falling to the bottom.

Secondly make sure the water you are adding to the tank isnt also adding nutrients in the form of minerals. You can never just use tap water to mix up your new saltwater. Tap water is full of minerals and other compounds that will make hair algae go crazy. Its full of fertilizer. If you go to Home Depot and buy grass fertilizer, it contains 3 compounds. Nitrogen, phosphate, potassium. These are FERTILIZERS. This is the last thing you need to add to your tank. But tap water contains all of these, plus Chlorine, which is actually toxic to living things. So even if you remove the chlorine (using a dechlorinator)

And liquid foods are horrible contributors to hair algae. Only a tiny portion is actually used by the corals. The rest is just food for your hair algae. And the corals DONT need it to survive. We feed most of our corals NOTHING at all! Thats right. Most corals can exist on light alone. (for more on this, see Zooxathellae.

Now lets do REMOVING food from the tank

The first line of defense here is the protein skimmer. This is by far the most efficient way to remove dissolved food (organics)

Battling hair algae is probably the number one reason why most hobbyists, especially new hobbyists, leave the hobby altogether. It can be very frustating to deal with algae, since it can overgrow and kill almost everything in your tank that doesn't move. Solving the problem starts with understanding what it causing it in the first place.

Initially, it seems like it's impossible to control and primarily the reason why you're not able to control it as you don't understand the source. It is critical to understand the source of what's causing their hair out she and your system in order to understand what the cure is.

It starts with managing unwanted nutrients in your system.

There should be two focuses in your tank. One is the amount of nutrients that are going into your system and the other is the amount of nutrients that are leaving your system. Ideally you have more nutrients leaving your system than going in. But most beginners have more going in. Its this excess buildup of nutrients that causes the problem.

 




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Last Updated on Monday, 31 January 2011 20:38
 
 

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