View Full Version : Need a reef expert....

01-20-2010, 06:40 PM
Not to sure if I am doing this right or not, I am kind of computer illiterate when it comes to this stuff. I have been debating whether or not to join because this isn't my kind of thing but I figure there might be someone out here that knows alot more than the LFS would. I have been into salt for like 2 years or so but I would still consider myself new to the hobbie since I still can't figure this out. I have been reading and trying new things but just can't kick the mass of green that has overrun my tank. I have gone to a few LFS for help and have been put on the back burner for months and I am at my wits end trying to look for help.

So that is where someone like you comes in. This may sound a bit out there but if there is any one in my local area that knows what they are doing and can help a guy out would be much appreciated. I don't want someone to try and sell me stuff, just someone to show me what I am doing wrong and what I can do to make it better. I have dropped alot of money into this thing and am looking for a better outcome. A basic reef course would be great.

Sorry if I put this in the wrong place and I apoligise first hand for my spelling.

Jason McK
01-20-2010, 06:47 PM
First Welcome to CanReef. I'm sure you will find a lot of help here that will put your apprehention aside.
I know you are looking for someone local to help you but a lot can be done via CanReef

First off how about answering a few questions, but don't worrie if you don't know the answers
How big is your tank?
What kind of lights do you have?
What fish do you have?
What coral do you have?
What other hardware do you have (filters, Skimmers)
Do you know what your current
Nitrates are?
Nitrites are?
Ammonia is ?
Calcium is?


01-20-2010, 06:52 PM
hey Juicy, welcome to canreef. At first its good to answer the questions Jay asked. This way we can have an idea of whats happening in your tank. I live in the edmonton area as well so I will try to help as much as I can. :)


01-20-2010, 06:59 PM
Well I have a 280 gallon main tank with like a 100 and some gallon sump. My lights are 2 400 w sunlight supply units with two large sunlight supply reflectors. I am not to sure what the current bulbs are. My fish consist of a purple tang, a hippo tang, a naso tang, a fox face, a coral beauty, two skunk clowns and two nemo clowns (i cant spell the proper name), 4 blue gree chromios and a the wrasse that looks like a clown fish. I don't have many corals at all just a few mushrooms and some small green things like zooanthids. I am running some kind of skimmer not to sure the model and I also have a calcium reqactor (not sure of the brand) and a phospahte reactor that currently is using Pura Phoslock.

As for my levels of everything else, I am not to sure. The last time I tested it it all lokked good but needless to say my stuff is about a year old or so, so I am not to sure if it even works properly anymore. Sorry I can't be of more help. Oh and I guess I should mention that my water is running through a 4 stage R/O DI unit and then into another 20" DI canister.

Hope that helps a bit.

01-20-2010, 07:02 PM
Well I have no problem opening my house up to anyone willing to lend me a hand and I have no problem footing the gas bill and then some. I would be doing the same if I were to get the LFS to come and do it.

01-20-2010, 07:05 PM
Ask your questions....

Jason McK
01-20-2010, 07:12 PM
It certaining sounds like you know what your doing.
But it's possible there are 2 problems causing your algea bloom
It could be old MH Bulbs or excess nutrients.
How often do you perform water changes?
How old are your Bulbs?


01-20-2010, 07:13 PM
well to be honest with you I am kind of lost for words. LHad help previous from my LFS and I kept buying this and that and they couldn't find nothing wrong with the way things were going. Then we found out that maybe the local farmers must have had a fertalizer frenzy and dumped a whole bunch in the feilds because my water had a phos at about 1ppm so they recomended buying a 20" DI canister to help with that. I really just need a lesson from someone who is on the same level playing feild as me. you know not just trying to make a buck.

01-20-2010, 07:20 PM
Well I try to do water changes every 2 weeks about 70 some gallons. sometimes it gets as bad as 3 weeks before I get to it. I rarley feed my fish (only once a day) and I don't feed alot. My lights are rounding there 9 months or so, so they could be changed but I have been having this problem now for sometime now so I am not to sure if lights were an issue. I am just not sure if I am balanching thins out right or what my problem is. I just recently had like a two week tank clean to try to rid my tank of this but it just likes me because it keeps coming back.

I mean I have learned a bit alnog the way but by no means am I an expert. There are always things I keep picking up along the way.

i have crabs
01-20-2010, 07:31 PM
those are pretty strong lights for almost no corals, id raise the up quite high to cut down on light the algae is gettin at least untill it gets under control, dial down the calcium reactor, excess co2 is basicly fertalizer and im betting thats the main culprit, on my ro/di unit i run 2 di cartridges so if u have a big 20" one u should be ok but maybe test the water coming out of the ro for phisphates, if u still have phosphates of anykind after the ro unit thats a problem, look into a better unit maybe or more cartridges, also get a reactor of some kind and run phosphate remover,
also what do u feed? maybe ur over feeding a bit or frozen foods have high phosphate in the water there frozen in usually and should be rinsed out before adding to the tank

01-20-2010, 07:39 PM
Yea the lights are a bit much, but I wanted to get into corals so I thought I would spend the money right off the hop. I do have a reactor running some remover but I haven't really seen much of a change. I will try turning down the CO2 I was unawhare that it could act as a fertalizer...good point. I just started doing the whole rinsing of the frozen food about a week ago after reading Mykas thread on algae. so I will see if that helps.

01-20-2010, 07:55 PM
mentioned the farmer, you on well water?

Any sort of macro refugium to help with take out some of the nutrients?

Jason McK
01-20-2010, 08:02 PM
Sound like your on your way.

the problem with Algae issues is they take no time to happen but a long time to get ride of

01-20-2010, 08:11 PM
Yes I am on a well.

01-20-2010, 08:13 PM
and yes sorry I have a spot in the sump for live rock with a light, like a refugium but the algea has taken over there as well.

01-20-2010, 08:33 PM
some cheato might be good in your fuge and a lot of people are even willing to give it for free. I also started running GFO on my reactor and it made a huge dent on getting rid of my algae not to mention a huge spike in the growth of my corals.

01-20-2010, 09:03 PM
Well I do appreciate all of the help, I never expected to get so much help right off the bat. I am still getting used to all the slang words, would you be able to enlighten me on what GFO is and I will google the cheato thing.

Again thanks alot for the advise, it goes along way.

01-20-2010, 09:07 PM
GFO is granulated ferric oxide. It helps get rid of phosphates. And cheato is short for chaetomorpha its a type of algae but unlike the ones floating in your tank they are easier to control cause they will stay in your fuge instead of going all over your tank.

01-20-2010, 09:45 PM
Basically, you use cheato as nutrient export. It grows in the sump binding up nitrate and phosphate. Then you throw it out, or feed it to your tangs, or give some away.

01-20-2010, 09:57 PM
seeing you are on well water a proper RO unit would be very benifitial. you can get a deicent one for 300.00 last time I checked that will do about 100 gal per day. could be cheeper now. this would go a long way to helping but it would take some time as you would have to do water chenges to reduct the metals and phosphates in your water. Other things that can help have been mentiond, growing algae in a refuge ect.

you could also look into clean up crews but that would depend also ont he type of algae you have.


Jason McK
01-20-2010, 10:07 PM
seeing you are on well water a proper RO unit would be very benifitial. you can get a deicent one for 300.00 last time I checked that will do about 100 gal per day. could be cheeper now. this would go a long way to helping but it would take some time as you would have to do water chenges to reduct the metals and phosphates in your water. Other things that can help have been mentiond, growing algae in a refuge ect.

you could also look into clean up crews but that would depend also ont he type of algae you have.


Steve Read above he has a very good RO/DI set up

01-20-2010, 10:07 PM
Well I do have a four stage R/O DI unit with another 20" canister, I just can't remember the name of the darn thing. I think from what I paid it is a good one. I have tried many crabs, sea hares , snails and clean up crews. they all seem to vanish after a while. I think I have a total of about 4 or 5 large scarlet hermits left running around. The sea hares I get last for sometime and then they just turn over on me. I don't know if there is to much green hair or if there is some trace element coming from my well that is contributing to there demise. Does anyone know of a good place to test your well water to find all trace elements involved in the make up?

01-20-2010, 10:12 PM
With almost no corals, you actually don't need to run a Ca reactor.

How often do you change out the media in your Phosphate remover? It may be "full" and NOT absorbing any more phosphates from your system.

How long are the lights on per day? Too long a photo-period + high powered lighting (400w) + not enough corals to compete = algae problems.

Is it hair algae or what that is the problem?

Any pics would be useful.


01-20-2010, 10:23 PM
Well currently my lights are on for about 8 to 9 hours a day. I just recently changed the media in my reactor about two weeks ago, so it is running fresh. I will have to check on the level but I think it is just over half full and the pump I have on it should be enough to move water through the media. My goal is fill my tank with coral but every peice I put in there has to compete for light with the algae. I think I have a few zoo's that are like 3" long just fighting for light. I am almost positive it is hair algea but I will do my best to take some pictures tonight and figure out how to post them.

Thanks again everyone.

01-20-2010, 10:45 PM
Get a sea hare. They love eating hair algae.

I would:

1) rip out by hand & strain out with a net as much hair algae as possible.
2) do water change to remove more strands from your system
3) add sea hare to keep the hair algae under control

Other than adding another Phosban reactor, I think this is a cost effective means of getting the hair algae under control. With the RO & DI systems and minimum feeding, you are already tackling potential sources of nitrates & phosphates.

In that size tank, you can also consider adding more tangs or rabbitfish (algae eaters) to the system.

My 210g mixed reef has 9 tangs & NO hair algae.:biggrin:

Hope this helps.


01-20-2010, 11:06 PM
yellow tangs and kole tangs eat a lot of algae

i have crabs
01-20-2010, 11:14 PM
i dont know of any but there are companys that will test up ur water and give you the results, if your water turns out to be really bad maybe look into buying a water storage bin and buying water, ufa and other places sell water bins for anysize so maybe get something that holds 500g and get a truck to fill it maybe, sounds expencive but i doubt its that bad really, i bought a ufa bin that holds 100g for $200,

01-20-2010, 11:15 PM
Well I am planning another assult on it this weekend, going to try my hand at it with a good pair of scissors and maybe try another seahare. I will try and get some pics on here tomorrow so you can get an idea of what I am dealing with. If the little ones don't need dad for a little bit I will try and get some more information on the equipment I have.

01-20-2010, 11:20 PM
I tried bringing in city water from where I work to see if that would help and it didn't seem to do the trick. Maybe I need to invest in a kickass skimmer or something. Mine works ok I guess but maybe there are better ones out there that would remove more of the junk.

01-20-2010, 11:22 PM
what part of stony are you in.

01-20-2010, 11:24 PM
Just about 5 min outside of Stony on Boundry Road.

01-20-2010, 11:55 PM
If you can't find a name, maybe post a pic of the skimmer & we can try to figure it out. A good, efficient skimmer goes a long way towards maintaining good water quality.

01-21-2010, 02:51 AM
sorry my mistake.. saw the DI but missed the RO. Do you know the quality of the output of your RO. if its getting old might be time for new filters. I just re read it and first thing that comes to mind is skimmer? what kind and how good. if you are sceptical about it then ya a kick ass one would be a good investment.

we are only guessing untill you get a chance to post all your levels..
Ca, Mg, Alk, PH, phosphates, Nitrates and nitrites.

also if you can find out what kind of bulbs you are running and how old they are this would be helpfull as well.

and ppictures are always good :mrgreen:


01-21-2010, 04:18 PM
So for your viewing pleasure this is what my algea and my skimmer look like. I have added a few other pics just because. It might give you a better idea of what I am dealing with...... Any thoughts?

01-21-2010, 05:38 PM
How often do you clean the sponge on your skimmer? It can get clogged pretty quickly and provide a home for nitrate producing bacteria which isn't optimal. You should probably give it a thorough rinse every few days.

During your next waterchange I'd try to suck some of the detritus out of those sump baffles.

Turn your skimmer off and check the airline to see that it isn't clogged. Maybe run some hot water through. Your skimmer doesn't look like its producing very many bubbles. Maybe have a look at the pump and see if it needs cleaning as well and check the impeller.

01-21-2010, 05:38 PM
I would cut back your lights to 6 hours..like 3pm to 9pm.....that way you can still enjoy the tank ..also does your tank recieve direct sunlight where its located now?

01-21-2010, 05:51 PM
I will give that a shot, I know that darn hose always seems to get clogged up with some kind of sediment. I ulsually clean my sponges every week or 2 but I will make the switch over to every few days. I have tried sucking alot of that stuff out of the sump but it seems my syphon doesn't have enough strengh to do so. I have tried stirring it up to get it floating around but I guess I will just have to try harder.

Thanks for the advise.

01-21-2010, 05:55 PM
Yeah it can be pretty hard to get a siphon going in a sump when its only like 16" or so difference in gravity. You could hook the hose up to a pump and have the pump in a bucket. The only thing there is any large particulates might not be so pleasant for the pump impeller.

A 100 micron filter sock on your sump intake might help with the particulate buildup but again, that would have to be changed fairly often to prevent nitrate buildup (I change mine every 5-7 days).

You might also want to try an urchin for the hair algae, I've had success with them in the past, and you don't have to ship them off to the next customer after the hair algae is gone, like you do with the sea hares.

01-21-2010, 05:55 PM
The tank is set into the wall directly beside a patio window. I don't think it gets direct sunlight because it is kind of off to the side of the window and we try our best to keep the blinds closed at all times. I don't know if the amount it would get would help it grow, but I have been wrong once before.

01-21-2010, 06:04 PM
Can you please get your nitates and phosphates tested also you Alkalinty tested. Blue World can test them for you, maybe.....then we can decide on what is happening. Increasing your Redox level would help as well.

01-21-2010, 07:00 PM
Skimmer looks like an ASM, can you tell us what the height and diameter of the reaction chamber are and what the pump is that is feeding the skimmer for example "a Sedra 5000"

01-21-2010, 07:14 PM
So Oilfieldsafety I just had a brain fart and I looked online where I bought the darn thing and if by ASM you mean All Seas Marine G Series than you are correct. I am almost positive that is what it is. Now in your professional opinion is that a good grade skimmer or not so much. If not so much than what is a high end brand that would be a good investment for a tank of my size..... 280G....

01-21-2010, 07:27 PM
I just put in an ASM G3 and took out my vertex 250. I like my vertex better but I modded the G3 and now it is better

01-21-2010, 07:39 PM
That ASM is too small for a 280

01-21-2010, 09:48 PM
I would upgrade to a Bubble Magus since I don't think that ASM is big enough for your size tank.

01-21-2010, 10:53 PM
Well It says that the G4 skimmer is good for 380G. Fencer what modifications did you do that increased it's effectivness?

01-21-2010, 11:17 PM
my theory is you can cut the rated number of the skimmer in half and thats the max it should be used on and only if it is lightly stocked. so a 280 gal skimmer would be real good for a lightly stocked 140 gal tank.

look at a bubble king add.. they say in there general print that the mini 200 is good for tanks up to 2500gal, but in the specks they state that it is good for tanks 135 to 265. I would assume that the 135 with a deicent load and 265 with almost no fish.. I would say even this one is to small for your tank, but I am not familier with the buble kings as they are to pricey for my liking, but for a deicent skimmer regular bking 200 or a vertex cone 300 you are looking about 1500 bucks. so if you can mod what you have to make it skim better try that first.. unless you can get a smoking deal on a big skimmer. Maby ask Asmodas as he usaly has 10 skimmer laying around :wink:


01-22-2010, 12:10 AM
Wheel mesh mod you can find it on you tube. and gate valve mod.

01-22-2010, 04:39 PM
I am hoping to have exact numbers on my tank here this weekend. I am going to take a water sample into my LFS to see what they can tell me. I am planning on testing both my topoff water and my tank water. I will buy new lights and few tid bits while I am there to see if that will help get rid of this stuff. Does any one know if a 400 Maxi Jet has enough power to water through my phospahte media in my reactor?

Skimmer King
01-22-2010, 05:25 PM
Hey there Juicy well you are well on your way with the nutrient export. if you sont have alot of corals in there may be see if saltynuts AKA EDDIE can take them
loose the lighting period for a week.
Still run the refugium lioght tho.
bump up the phos ban the maxi is excellent for the reactor too.
as for a skimmer, if you are running a huge FOWLR then get a excellent skimmer to work against the BIO LOAD. the skimmer is going to slow down the water changes for you and help in the aid of removing hte organic's in the tank extra nutrients ETC ETC. if you can buy a good external or if you sump will allow you. these are the skimmers that I would look at.
you want RAW POWER and a huge pressure pump for FOWLR a BECKETT or a dual Beckett.
Talk to Lando at Marine Aquaria he has a huge Dual Beckett that he might want to get rid off. the key with Becketts that you need a strong pump to run them and a good spot to put them at.
for a in sump the cone skimmer from vertex the 300 J&L has them,
the Deltec AP902 AP702, AP851 are awesome skimmers :biggrin:
the Bubble king is a great skimmer too SM200,SM 250, SM 300,
but there is a dowen fall they are very expensive skimmer's TRUST ME I KNOW.

can your sump handle a huge skimmer or not if not get a external. then you can keep the refugium going on your sump.


P.S test you well for PO4, and high ALK Soug on here had a huge issue with HIgh ALK, so you may have HIGH PO4

01-22-2010, 08:33 PM
Thanks asmodeus,
I will definatley look into some of those skimmers, I appreciate the advise. I never really looked into the actual load a guy could be putting on his tank with the amount of fish a guy has swimming around, thanks StirCrazy. I always thought that if it was for a 280G it should work for it. You guys have alot of good advise, I am kind of glad I joined this whole forum thing. It is neat to hear everyones different takes on things so thanks again.

01-25-2010, 02:10 PM
For those Following this whole thread, I had my water tested on the weekend.
Both my topoff water and my tank water. All the nitrates and nitrites were at 0 and nothing was showing up in the phosphate catigory. The only thing they could find that may somehow help the cause was that my Mag was at 900. Other than that they said your water is perfect, I bought two new lights anyways just to see if that would help.

01-25-2010, 02:41 PM
Did you check your redox level?

01-25-2010, 02:47 PM
Sorry no I never, Could you explain what that is and I will have it tested tomorrow when the guy from the fish store comes over. I am assuming it means reduced oxygen but not to sure and I have also turned down my Calcium Reactor.

01-25-2010, 02:53 PM
Yes it does ....sometimes low oxygen can contribute to growth. If he has a redox meter. If not LMK next time your in the city on a weekend. I can see the Ca reactor having an pH effect on that volume of water

i have crabs
01-25-2010, 03:23 PM
i mentioned the calcium reactor bein an issue not really because of ph or calcium/alk but because of unsued co2 getting into the tank and acting as fertilizer,
its not really a bad thing that u bought new bulbs but as far as im concerned its not gonna do squat to help ur problem, i know people will argue to the death about it but a lowered spectrum from older bulbs dosent make or break a algae issue, shure algae grows faster under a more yellow light but your dealing with something bigger than that and i highly doubt new bulbs have ever helped clear up any noticable ammount of algae issues for anyone. sorry thats enough of a rant, i just hate when people give that advice, its easy to give when its not ur money buyin stuff, buy a new skimmer that might help, oh well not my $1200 if it dosent lol.
bottom line is the algae is eating something, find out what its eating stop giving it food and watch the algae die, sounds simple but takes a bit of messin around and time.
it dosent sound like u have too many fish at all so youd have to really be over feeding to be the cause, u said ur water wasnt showing any phosphates before goin into the tank so u should be ok there,
with that outa the way i would suspect lighting or the calcium reactor, you have a couple 400 watters right, how high are they from the water? u dont have much for corals so id suggest something around 15" probably maybe even more, a par meter would be good to make shure the lights are as high as possible but still giving enough light to the corals you do have untill the algae is under control, id have to look at the thread again to remember what u had but a par in the 200 range is good enough for most softie type corals i find, problem with blaming the lights is you have algae in the sump/fuge if i remember correct, i kinda doubt u have a 400watter in there too, oh ya also with a older bulb of course, humm kinda doubt it so the algae must be feeding from something in the water, wich brings me back to excess co2, dial it way down keep a eye on your calcium and alk, and wait for your algae to slowly die