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Thread: Evil Hair Algae

  1. #1
    Senior Member nbreau's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003

    Evil Hair Algae

    Hi All,

    My tank has been setup for 4-5 weeks now and the cycle has been done for at least 2-3. My problem now is that I'm experiencing a huge amount of green hair algae and my question is whether this is normal when a tank is first setup.

    I use 100% RO/DI (Culligan bottled water) that I get from the local Sobeys (hoping that the filter on the machine is changed regularly, I don't have the $$$ to buy my own filter.

    My tank parameters are
    PH - 8
    ammonia - 0
    nitrite - 0
    nitrate - 2.5

    I did purchase about 40 snails/hermit crabs however I think those are down to about 25-30 (alot of the crabs didn't seem to like their shells and alot were killed and/or attacked snails)

    The tank is 77 gallons.

    If anyone has any suggestions on what to do (is this normal and should i just wait it out?) I would greatly appreciate it... until yesterday I've had the lights on 12hrs/day but I'm going to reduce that to about 4-6 hoping that will help some.


  2. #2
    Senior Member tang_man_montreal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003

    You're gonna go through several Algae cycles... diatom, hair, cyano...etc....

    You should see a decline after several weeks at most...

    hope that helps...
    I am Homer of BORG... Prepare to be..OOOO!! DONUT!!!!!!

  3. #3
    Senior Member GoSUV's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    It is quite normal for a new tank to have an algae bloom, but usually brown diatoms come first. And it is also quite normal to have the hermit crabs wage a real estate warfare with the snails for their shells. My tiny blue legged hermit crabs killed my two snails for their shells, even though the shells were much much larger than they are and they couldn't have used them anyway. Those little buggers :gun3: :doh!!:

    Bottled water is better than straight tap water, however I'd get a TDS meter to test how good it is. I recently bought a handheld TDS meter and was happy to say that Ottawa tap water is pretty good, around 70ppm. After my RO/DI filter, it is down to 1ppm :beer: On those bottled water's labels, it usually says that it is as pure as <5ppm. If it's any higher, LAWSUIT time! (just kidding) :king2:

    I guess you can't do anything about it at this time other than having a cleanup crew to help eat it, do water changes regularly, cut down your lighting (which you must be doing already) and try manually remove it as much as you can.

    Here is a little trick you can vacuum the algae out without doing a huge water change (salt is $$$). Attach a clean sock (those ones you'll never find a matching pair) to your gravel vacuum. Start a siphon and dump the water straight back to your sump, while the sock will filter out all the algae you've sucked out (ok, your gravel vacuum) Presto! you have pulled out all the algae without draining the main tank! Discard the sock.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Zookeeper's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    It seems I get a bad hair algae outbreak about once a year...usually in the summer. I'm just about through one right now that has lasted about a month. Here is what I do.

    Step one: keep your skimmer intake clean and make sure it is pulling out lots of skimmate. Keeping your skimmer going full tilt removes the disolved organic material from the water...which just so happens to make algea grow.

    Step two: keep your skimmer intake clean and make sure it is pulling out lots of skimmate.

    Step Three: make sure the cleanup crew hasn't become depleated. I like hermit crabs, astrea snails and turbo snails (one per gallon) and a couple of times a day, move the snails that are on the glass, back on to the rocks. This was partly my problem this time around, as I got lazy about keeping the clean-up crew numbers up. Off topic a bit, if you get hermits, get lots of replacement shells for them. They like to change shells often (if there are lots available), and this will keep them from going after the snails.

    Step four: remove as much by hand as possible. If you have rocks that you can actually take out of the main tank and scrub (regular kitchen scrub brush, I also use a tooth brush for those hard to reach areas), do so. Other wise, do like GoSUV said, and use a syphon hose and pull it off by hand. If the hair alge is really long, the clean up guys will have a tough time with it. Otherwise if is cropped close to the rock, they have an easier time getting at it. A note about the tooth brush....if you use it afterwords, the taste is a little funky, but goes away pretty quick

    Step Five: Repeat steps one through four, and be patient. The stuff can take over your tank in a week, but it seems to take three to four weeks to get rid of it all.

    Other things you can do: I don't have refugium or a sump, but I'm very seriously thinking about one of those hang-on-the-back refugiums that Harley (another member) makes. I've seen RJ's, and was quite impressed. Having a refugium with macro algae and a sand bed, will promote the pod growth, and remove alot of the stuff in the water that makes the micro algae grow.

    Also be careful about over feeding the tank. If you are leaving food on top of the sand bed, with no scavengers to clean it up, it will decompose and contribute to the algae problems.

  5. #5
    rj is offline
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Just from past experience, I'd say when tanks are first started up you will get diatom blooms....I havent heard of many with hair problems...but prognosis is to check your water first...usually the source of the problem...after that....I would be adding a fuge of any kind...mine is a HOB and is real compact...Harley makes em...Once you have a bit of macro growing in there it will compete for nutrients and is nutrient export at its easiest....once overgrown in the fuge....discard...or give it to another reefer starting his fuge....if you need's time to prune at my place!

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    I myself do all of the above mentioned suggestions, but I also use a product called Phos-Guard (by Sechem). It removes phosphate and silicate from your water. I put this stuff in my fluval for my 30g, and it works great .

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    I had a small hair algae problem too before I left for my honeymoon. My wifey's sister took care of the tank and fed it small amounts of food. All the hair algae was gone when we came back. Like 2 weeks later!
    So try cutting back on the food a little.
    Also feeding flake food for the majority of time will eliminate some of the excess nutrients that you get from feeding frozen food.
    Tanks: 400 gal Reef, 180 gal FOWLR, 300 gal Sump, 40 gal Frag Tray plumbed as one system - 900 gal total water volume.
    DIY Calcium Reactor, Nielson Reactor and Skimmer

  8. #8
    Senior Member ALRHA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    i have had this problem now for over 2 weeks. originally it was a phosphate problem, but now my phosphates are down to zero and i am using some phosgurad in my emporer to keep it that way. will this eventually correct itself. I often blow a lot of it off the rocks and things with a turkey baster, and then after its in the water, it usually gets filtered out and i clean the pads about every other day.
    does blowing it off the rocks help it spread further by any chance? and if my water quality is fine with no phosphates, silicates, or nitrates, then why is so much of this algae growing? i have to clean the intake sponge of my protein skimmer twice a day just to keep it from cloging the input and it is really getting to be a pain. i dont think a cleaner crew will ever be able to chop it down faster then it grows unless i spend like $200 on snails!

  9. #9
    Senior Member mouse6196's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    I have a yellow tang, and unicorn tang that eat every piece of algae that ever shows it's face in the tank. Never had any since the unicorn tang was added.

    :biggrinbo :biggrinbo :biggrinbo :biggrinbo
    The only thing two reef keepers will agree on, is what the third reef keeper is doing wrong!

  10. #10
    AC Partner MomRules's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    The best thing I have found for hair algae is a long spined diadema sea urchin. Mine had my 90 gal tank cleaned up in three weeks and it has never come back. And they like the rocks better than the glass. Just make sure your corals are secured. Besides, one urchin is cheaper than a dozen snails and they are way cool!
    Gail in Nova Scotia

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