HERE’S SOME ANSWERS TO MANY COMMON QUESTIONS I GET

I HAVE HAIR ALGAE, WHAT CAN I DO?

Don’t feed flake food or gumbo . It leaves behind lots of phosphates and uneaten food
Don’t overfeed. Feed once every other day, all they can eat in 1-2 minutes, with nothing left over. Skip a day now and then.
Don’t use bad water. The RO/DI from the grocery store is drinking water, not aquarium water. Tap water is the worst to use. Check the cartridges in your DI and/or RO units. They have a limited life span. RO cartridges cannot dry out – it ruins them. Low water pressure and cold water both reduce the efficiency of the system. DI systems work better in cold water with no waste.
Minimize feeding – let herbivores eat the algae. (Tangs, angels, damsels, triggers, wrasses) If your fish are maintaining their weight, then you are feeding enough.
Emerald crabs will eat hair algae.
Sea Hares are super hair algae eaters and reef safe
Sally lightfoot crabs will eat hair algae
Adjust your protein skimmer. Turn off the air then open the valve ever so slowly until a milky color appears. Tiny bubbles are the best
Have you changed your lights lately. Remember that old lights have a lot of red in their spectrum which enhances plant growth.  At 6 months plan to change lights.  At 9 months lights should have changed.  At 1 year you’re way overdue .
Remove bioballs if you have live rock in the tank. They produce nitrates before your skimmer can remove organic waste. Remove a layer each week.
Change / clean your particle filter. Daily if necessary. All the solid waste continues to break down and add nutrients to the water which feeds algae. Filters can be washed in the washing machine with bleach and rinsed – do not use soap or fabric softener in the rinse cycle. Air dry filters also.
Fish only tanks. Shut off lights until algae dies. Keep protein skimmers going. After all is dead, do a 2x large water change.
Phosphate Remover.  Very large water changes would be better
Liquid Gravel Vac is a bacterial additive that eats detritus that contributes to hair algae.  Reef safe.  Available at SeaHorse Aquarium and online

If your tank is really overwhelmed with algae, go to the bottom of this page for my recommended overhaul procedure

IS MY SHRIMP OR CRAB DEAD?

Shrimp and crabs molt. Quite often after your bring home a shrimp (peppermints, cleaner, fire, sally lightfoot, emeralds, etc.) they shed their external shell leaving an exact replica lying on the bottom of the tank – upside down for crabs . Perfect molts even include the finest antennae. This occurs naturally usually following a full moon and/or a new moon. Small supplements of Iodide twice a month help this process. During the moments when they are climbing out of the old shell, they are unable to breath. If they get stuck because the old shell won’t separate, they suffocate.
Acclimate very slowly by dripping.  Dripline and acclamation procedure  If they should molt in the bag, keep them in the bag to drip.  take as much time as possible with a very slow drip. Keep the line in the bottom of the bag and let it overflow. When acclimated pour off most of the water and put the bag in your tank  Gently fill the bag with a little water and slide him out.

IS MY STARFISH DEAD OR DYING?

Starfish are sensitive. A healthy starfish is stiff or very firm when you pick them up. If they develop white spots or they start to fall apart, they have an infection I don’t know how to cure yet. Remove them from the tank if possible because they will raise your ammonia level.
Acclimate very slowly by dripping over hours to get the best survival rate. If they should lose legs during acclimation, your water has a real problem, usually low pH and alkalinity. Let me test your water before you buy one – it’s free.
From easiest to hardest
Chocolate chip, green brittle stars, Indian Ocean red stars, brown/red brittle stars, serpent stars, tile stars ………….linkias, feather stars, basket stars – leave for they very experienced Aquarius. See Dripline and acclamation procedures

IS MY URCHIN DEAD OR DYING?

Urchins are also sensitive. A healthy urchin has stiff spines that often move if you look closely. Some also have very thin, white/clear “tentacles or feelers” stretching out beyond their spines. These are how they sense things. Good pH and alkalinity are essential.
When they start to die their spines droop and/or fall off. You cannot save them as far as I know. Remove them from the tank if possible because they will raise your ammonia level.
Acclimate very slowly by dripping over hours to get the best survival rate. If they should lose spines during acclimation, your water has a real problem, usually low pH and alkalinity. Let me test your water before you buy one – it’s free.

MY EEL IS STUCK TO THE RUG!

Eels are tough. A healthy eel may eat once a day to once a week depending on size and kind. When they swim around the tank in the daytime, this is usually a hungry eel.
Should your eel escape from the tank, put him back in. They will shed a mucous coating and return to life if they are alive. Eels can survive out of water several hours.
Eels can go many weeks without starting to eat in your tank. Fresh, raw, peeled, tiger prawns put on a skewer or stick and pushed into their mouth is the best food to start captive eating. Squid/octopus and fresh crab may work also. Be sure it is raw and cut small enough so that the eels can easily swallow it.

I HAVE BRISTLE WORMS.

Good for you. Every tank has bristle worms. They are usually harmless and not worth the worry, even large ones. If you want to minimize your population, arrow crabs are fine in fish only tanks and six line wrasses are good in reef tanks.
Wear gloves our use tweezers to pick them out. If you get their bristles in your fingers, place tape over them then pull them out. Meat tenderizer is helpful and hot, running water may help too.

I HAVE NITRITES – WHAT ARE THEY AND WHY?

Maybe not so Good for you. Nitrites come from one source – ammonia. Typical sources of ammonia include, fish and animal waste, dead animals and corals, OVERFEEDING, and disturbing your tank during a move. The nitrogen cycle also known as “cycling your tank” produces nitrites. The order is ammonia then nitrite then nitrate. If you have a plenum, the nitrates continue the cycle and become nitrogen gas. If your bacteria bed has been killed off, you may also get nitrites until Mother Nature repairs it.

I HAVE CORALLINE ALGAE EVERYWHERE

HOW DO I GET RID OF IT. Besides scraping it off, stop adding calcium and or strontium. If it’s growing and you’re not adding calcium or strontium, your stuck. Most people want coralline algae until they get it. It’s a sign of a healthy tank.

I BOUGHT FISH AT PETCO, WHAT CAN I DO?

DON’T EVER BUY FISH AT PETCO AGAIN. CONSIDER IT AN EXPENSIVE LEARNING EXPERIENCE.

I HAVE RED (SLIME) ALGAE, WHAT CAN I DO?

See Seahorse shop tips. I have it explained there.

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY ANEMONE IS DYING?

Anemones are difficult to keep and not recommended for beginners. They require very good lighting, they need to be fed lightly, and they like to move around the tank often getting stuck in a pump. If you do find yours in a pump, unplug the pump and DON’T touch them. If they aren’t hurt too badly, they will slowly pull themselves out. You should have screening around the pump to prevent this.  Healthy anemones only deflate occasionally to expel waste.  If they don’t inflate 98% of the time watch them.  If in  doubt pull him out
Anemones periodically open and close and occasionally empty their gullet of waste. When they are dying they sometimes turn themselves inside out and fall apart or they shrink ever smaller and then fall apart. They definitely stink when their dead.

I HAVE A PHYTOPLANKTON BLOOM, NOW WHAT?

DOES YOUR TANK LOOK LIKE THIS?

This is a bad growth of phytoplankton.  It generally starts for no specific reason in both salt and fresh tanks (more often in freshwater).  Algaecides sometimes work but can be hard on your tank.  The most efficient and least detrimental to the ecosystem is to use a UV Sterilizer.  We rent “hang on the tank” models that need to run about 10 days to completely eliminate the problem then do a 90% water change.  Once in a while you have the phytoplankton return, repeat the procedure.   All the water changes in the world will not make it go away nor will turning out the lights.

If your tank is really overwhelmed with algae, this is my recommended overhaul procedure.

If you have some live coral in the tank – you have might have aiptasia along with way to much algae. My plan would be

– pull all the rock

– chip off any live coral

– soak the rock in 5 gallons of water with 1/2 cup of bleach for a week

– put fish, coral, inverts in clean, new salt water

PLAN A

– drain the tank, discard the sand, clean the tank with vinegar

– install a plenum and new sand

– refill with new saltwater and restart with ammonium chloride and a cup of our live sand

– add fish coral inverts until your rock is ready

PLAN B

– remove any remaining algae

– siphon off 3/4 of the water and save

– rinse sand several times with saved tank water

[ you could install a plenum but cannot be #0 ]

– refill with new saltwater, restart cycling

– add fish coral inverts until your rock is ready

I’m experimenting with hair algae removal methods to avoid tank tare down.

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