View Full Version : Algae Indentification and Help Please

03-23-2011, 12:54 AM
So...my tank seems to have "the plague", at least that's what I've been calling it jokingly. However, it's not such a joke any more, it's spreading.

It is a thread-like red/brown algae that lays over the live rock and flows like a strand of my hair would in the water flow. Originally I thought it may be the mucous that the exquisite wrasse supposedly wraps itself in at night breaking down but it is clearly more than that.

I have treated 2x now for red slime/cyano and it has not affected these strands but did clear up a very small amount of slime that I had a rock in the back. That area is all gone now after the 2 treatments but these threads remain and have grown longer.

I have tried physically removing the strands. They do not feel like anything in my hand when I tear them off the rock. I cannot feel the texture in my hand so the strands are very thin and even delicate.

My skimmer is working overtime now after the red slime treatment and I can see some of these strands getting pulled out but there is still an issue.

I was using Instant Ocean salt and have now bought a bucket of SeaChem and I'm now mixing the 2 together 50/50. My magnesium has been really low and my calcium a bit low but I've been regularly dosing for both to try to bring them up and they are just shy of where they should be now. Water parameters otherwise are great. Nitrates and nitrites are 0, ammonia has been about 0.05, pH is 8, and alkalinity 8.

After the first treatment for red slime, I did a 40% water change. I have just finished the second treatment yesterday and skimmer has been running for about 12 hours now. I'm going to do another water change. How much do you guys suggest?

I just started preparing my water ahead of time. I was using tap water with no apparent issues previously. I still don't know if that is what has caused this particular algae issue but you have to be suspect. I'm also using vanquish now to treat the new water.

Can anyone identify this algae? I've googled it like crazy with no real luck so far. Has anyone ever had this issue before and what did you do/use to treat it? You can almost see it grow, it grows so fast and I'm getting worried. Please help, I appreciate any information you can offer.



A bit out of focus but you can still see the "thread"

This patch has just shown up on the glass 2 days ago and you can see how long some of the "threads" are already. One is probably a good 6 inches long already.

Some cascading down the rocks

03-23-2011, 01:21 AM
That isn't red slime algae. I strongly suspect it might be dinoflagellates. Does it have little air bubbles attached to it? I can see in one of the photos it looks like it.

Best you can do is siphon it out, reduce your photoperiod and keep your alkalinity up and stable.

03-23-2011, 01:47 AM
i agree with the dinoflagellates .according to algae: a problem solving guide,let it run it's course-discontinue water changes-boost alkalinaty with buffers or calcium reactor.use kaulwasser for top off water.use activated carbon.it sounds like you have new tank syndrome -in other words your tank hasn't been running for a few months.do not let snails eat this as it will probably kill them .and my advice to you is stop using h2ocean-i had serious breakouts of cyano in my reactors where i shouldn't have any at all

03-23-2011, 02:04 AM
That isn't red slime algae. I strongly suspect it might be dinoflagellates. Does it have little air bubbles attached to it? I can see in one of the photos it looks like it.

Best you can do is siphon it out, reduce your photoperiod and keep your alkalinity up and stable.

+1 looks like Dinos to me.

03-23-2011, 02:12 AM
Sorry, this has to be quick. I'm heading out for a night shift. I'll be back on here tomorrow after I sleep.

My tank was mature with the previous owners (not sure exactly how long), then moved a block down to our house. It's been set up at our house for a year and 3 months at this point.

Yes, there are some areas with greyish/pale "fur" like areas with tiny bubbles attached. Not a lot though that I can see. We leave the back wall alone for the most part to try to encourage our urchin to eat that coraline algae rather than off the rocks.

The only thing new the tank recently is 1 fish and 9 corals. Tank is 75 gallons. Water was pristine 6 weeks ago.

CUC: astrea, turbo, and nassarius snails; sand sifting star fish; one conch; one tuxedo urchin; and one each cleaner shrimp and coral banded shrimp.

Again, thank you!!!

03-23-2011, 02:18 AM
and my advice to you is stop using h2ocean-i had serious breakouts of cyano in my reactors where i shouldn't have any at all

she's not using H2Ocean

03-23-2011, 04:04 AM

Yes, it does look like the start of Dinoflagellates (http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-11/rhf/index.php), if I recall, it has little to do with Ďnew tank syndromeí, or any particular salt but may be more as a result of seasonal changes,Reefkeeping Magazine (http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-05/eb/index.php), Aquarium Frontiers (http://web.archive.org/web/19990830191218/www.animalnetwork.com/fish/aqfm/1998/nov/wb/default.asp)

Snails will not touch this, as itís toxic to them, if you want to keep them you may want to transfer to another tank.

I fought it for three months; the first month was trying different things that were not working, like massive 50/70% water changes, lights out for extended periods, etc.
What I did was stop water changes, maintain pH at 8.4 with kalkwasser. I would also use a powerhead to blow it off the rocks and panes, while at the same time having a filter sock on the drain, which was replaced daily. I also set the skimmer to skim on the wet side. I canít actually pinpoint what worked for me, but it went away after three months.

Don't add anymore Redslime remover, as it's not going to help. I would also not add any new livestock at this time. It will mostly likely overcrowd your corals also, so you will have to increase your husbandry.

Iím not sure how adventurous you are, but there is a thread on Reef Central where others are using Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) to help combat it :idea:

Oh, have a good night at work :smile:

03-23-2011, 04:13 AM
What is your system PH?

I think it is Dino as well but it is a syndrome of accumulation of organic materials that are decomposing in your system. Usually behind and between the rocks, duo to inefficient water circulation and water flow.
One of the symptoms of it is the suppression of PH.

Adding buffer and trying to raise PH with out solving the problem I described will not solve the problem. You have to get rid of the source of the problem!

03-23-2011, 03:59 PM
Hot off the press.


03-23-2011, 04:41 PM
OMG I thought i had cyano.... I HAVE DINOS NOOOOOOOOO. This sucks.
This is great just flippin great. rant rant rant rant

Thanks for the info about them.

Im so sad :(

03-23-2011, 04:51 PM
Sorry, pH was 8.

Yes, we just recently lost 6 snails and we are down to maybe 2 crabs left.

There was one "dead zone" where two rocks had fallen over and I left it be for about 3 weeks (just being lazy, I admit it). That could very well have been what started all of this. I've now taken those 2 rocks out and it's an open area now. Flow is moving through there now.

All my rock work is out away from the wall. I have two powerheads, one pointed up at the surface, one about mid tank level flowing in the opposite direction. The filter flow is pointed at the back of the tank to keep things stirred up back there.


So...now I'm off to sleep. Back later...

I'll read all your posts again later with fresh eyes and after the night shift foggy brain has cleared, LOL. Thank you for the links too. I'll read those too.

03-24-2011, 01:16 AM
Wow....sounds like I have my work cut out for me. I'm bummed....

I blacked out the tank but before I did, I took a good look around. I'd say that it has easily quadrupled in severity over night since I took the original pics yesterday. I am shocked at how bad this has gotten so fast.

Thank you all for your help, I'm so thankful to get on this quickly. I"ll keep you posted on progress.

03-25-2011, 07:46 AM
Tank has been blacked out for about 18 hours now. I took the cover off tonight and turned on the light to do a bit of maintenance and feed the fish a small bit of food. The fish weren't too keen on eating at first but then after about 5 minutes they perked up and all ate.

Most of the red threads (flagella) have lost their color and are greyish or beige. I'd say about 2/3 of it is gone. Powerhead socks were totally full so I removed them and put brand new ones on. I cleaned the skimmer again. I took a turkey baster and blew off the rocks and stirred up the sand surface again too. I have water prepping tonight for a water change. When I do the change I'll put in new activated carbon in the filter and clean up the filter tubing.

My magnesium has dropped to 850, pH has dropped to 7.5 and ammonia has gone up to 1.0. All else are the same or better. Hopefully a water change will perk things up again.

03-25-2011, 04:12 PM
Don’t tern on the light and keep it completely dark
Don’t worry some time in nature corals don’t have sun for several days (usually after storm) and fish don’t eat for days in a time…so keep it cool, everything will be fin if you go by the book.

Just remember that after the “dark age” you shouldn’t go straight back to the normal light regime. When I fought the dino I made a 4 day darkening and on the fifth day I just let the tank site in the surrounding natural light. The next day I started with few hours of actinic and only one hour of MH and littlie by little a raised the number of MH hours.

I do hope that you took all measures before darkening the tank, such as:
Wash all waist accumulated behind your rocks, siphoning out as much dino as you could, rising ph to 8.4 -8.5 and adding GAC and immproving your water flow.

03-25-2011, 06:31 PM
Yeah, did everything you just said but my pH wasn't quite that high to start.

Light was on for maybe 20 minutes while I cleaned up last night. I have the air running on one of my powerheads to keep the water oxygenated and I could hear that it was blocked. I had to go in to fix it. Skimmer was overflowing too.

Completing the rest of the "dark cycle" now. Tomorrow evening (Sat.) I'll do some more maintenance. That will make 3 days in the dark.

03-25-2011, 06:44 PM
no! no lights what so ever.....!

03-25-2011, 10:22 PM
So am I starting over because I had the light on for 20 minutes?

03-25-2011, 10:28 PM
I just noticed the little bastards starting to grow in my tank too! Grrrr, time to start doing some research I suppose.

03-26-2011, 05:33 AM
There's some great info in the links posted in this thread. Definitely worth reading.

Thanks again to the contributors!

Can't wait to see how things have gone tomorrow when I uncover the tank! Drum roll please.....

03-28-2011, 06:19 AM
We had an extra 12 hours of dark because I got called into work. I uncovered the tank today and there appears to be no sign of the dino's in the tank!!!! I am soooo thankful!

Fingers crossed that it stays away. Had the lights on for about 2 hours tonight. The fish (and the cat) really seemed to enjoy it. Our cat has missed them. :biggrin:

03-28-2011, 06:41 PM
I am also in the black out period. Its been 3 days. I will take the cover off later today. I hope all is well.

04-15-2011, 01:49 PM
My bliss may have only lasted that long. I'm keeping a close eye on things but I believe I'm seeing signs of it's return already.

I'm bummed. :sad:

04-15-2011, 05:30 PM
ya sadly its never that easy :(