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View Full Version : Chaetomorpha Catastrophe!


Killgore
11/12/2012, 04:53 PM
Ok... maybe that was little dramatic, but a title has got to be attention getting right? Ok... so I have a 29g tank, 10g fuge, skimmer and use nitrate and phosphate removal media. Tank has been up and running for like 8 months. pH has been 8.2 for I don't know how long... zero ammonia and nitrites. Upon using my filter media the phosphate and nitrates are low... consistently now for weeks. Calcium is 400-420 and carbonate is 11-12 normally...

I've got 5 fish... small fish... and soft corals such as xenia's, star polyps and a leather. Have a couple hard corals - birdsnest frag, monitpora, and a chalice. Oh and I have some zoas... a few... my decorator crabs seem to like accenting their shells.

Anyhow, my problem is Chaeto algae... or lack of it. I started with one small bunch months ago to try and use it as a method of nitrate and phosphate removal... nitrates were 20ppm and phosphates were about .5 at the time. Well, I used a 5k bulb fluorescent bulb with an aluminum reflector. I'd say the chaeto started out soft ball sized. Over time it started turning white(dying back) and continued to die back.

Now prior to getting chaeto I read through countless forums and threads. From what I've read I should have high flow so that the ball tumbles... I've also read that I should be using a 6.5k bulb at minimum. Now I used to study horticulture in college so I know about plants on land. At first I thought about the lighting. 5k lighting although not optimal should not have killed the chaeto... at most it would have grown more slowly... like a plant that's not getting enough light will usually elongate and stretch towards the light. And flow... even though it's suggested to have high flow, I know of one person whom I've seen there set up that literally has zero flow. He swears up and down to have next to no flow. He's got a 90 gallon fuge where the water comes in slowly in one corn and goes out the closest corner. On the opposite side of the tank literally feet away from the flow the chaeto grows full and thick... and there is practically zero flow through his tank.

So the old ball withered away. Just got a new ball... I've set up a 45 degree partition in the fuge that protects the chaeto from direct flow of the water... was still using the 5k light. And so the chaeto appears to be dying back still. So today I bought a 6.5k fluorescent bulb and moved the light a bit further away... it's a 100 watt fl. coiled bulb... and I'm using it with the same reflector. I'm hoping the die back stops and I start seeing some growth.

Anyone have any ideas of what I could be doing wrong or missing that would cause it to die back slowly like this? It's bugging the crap out of me because supposedly the stuff grows like weeds? Thanks for any help.

Hilo808
11/12/2012, 07:17 PM
My fuge is set up like your friend's tank. Little to no flow, swampy conditions. The inlet just points straight down towards the bottom. Great growth from the macros. I don't know what I am doing right, nor do I understand it, sorry. maybe just lucky! =)

I do know that the rate of water going into my fuge is less than what is recommended. I have a 75g display+20g sump+10g fuge, but only 250gph(or less) goes into the fuge. (I keep my other equipment in a separate sump with its own pumps).

I trim maybe half every month, and it all grows back within the month and then some.

I also feed my fish a lot. So maybe, more food/poop= more nutrients= happy macros?

Also I use 2x36w 10k compact bulbs that I haven't changed in years. (maybe that theory about old bulbs cause algae blooms is right!)

and in case you were wondering, I have chaeto and flame algae

good luck! Please post your results!

Hilo808
11/12/2012, 07:29 PM
or maybe you are doing everything else right, so no nutrients to feed the chaeto. (good thing right?)

Killgore
11/13/2012, 02:48 PM
I don't know about the lack of nutrients... from what I've been told by the guy at the LFS was that there's always enough nutrients for the plants... even running the phosphate remover, there should be enough to sustain the chaeto... just checked the chaeto and it looks sad... I'm probably going to pull it before it pollutes my tank any worse and pick through it... pull out the good stuff and put it back in... blah...

Killgore
11/25/2012, 07:35 AM
Not that anyone cares, but I've given up on the chaeto... after many attempts and altering the lighting/flow, it's still dying... so I give up... I've got caulerpa growing instead as filtration, but I'm just afraid of it going sexual...

Bak2theReef
11/25/2012, 09:08 AM
I use nothing more then a regular grow light on my sump w/Chaeto. My flow rate is not high enough to spin it around in circles, don't believe that is necessary. Sounds like you might have a lack of nutrients and/or lighting issue. To much light will turn anything brown as will lack of nutrients.

bwhit1406
11/25/2012, 09:25 AM
Maybe try without phosphate remover. Is there algae in your display?

Killgore
11/25/2012, 10:33 AM
Yeah had tried the chaeto first without phosphate remover... died back as well... even with the phosphate remover the caulerpa is spreading like crazy now... as of now all the parameters are near perfect... but even so the caulerpa is growing... it's really puzzling...

Bett
11/26/2012, 07:39 AM
I was having similar issues with some of my chaeto. I had two different types of it, and the thin stranded stuff decided to start turning brown and dying while the thick wiry type is growing just fine.

ScooterMom
10/10/2013, 04:23 PM
I know I am coming pretty late to this party, but I do know the answer!

I have some chaetomorpha that is growing like crazy. The diagnosis is simple:

1. If your chaeto is turning light green-white and stretching out loosely, it is getting too much light. The loss of color is bleaching of the chlorophyll.

2. If your chaeto is turning dark green and balling up into a wiry clump, it is getting too little light

3. If your chaeto is turning brown, diatoms are growing on it or it is acting as a filter and detritus from your tank is sticking to it. You can rinse this off.

The only lighting I have for it is a plant light, but it is growing and thriving. It has moderate flow but it is not tumbling around. I have some phosphate remover in there, don't know if that makes any difference.

gbru316
10/10/2013, 05:01 PM
In the past, I used a normal 60w lightbulb and a 30g rubbermaid container as a sump, and the chaeto grew like a weed with minimal flow.

I don't have much luck with it currently. Success seems to be hit-or-miss.

mayjong
11/19/2013, 03:18 PM
me too.
i've had the same ball of chaeto for about 2 years, even moved it during a tank upgrade.
then about a month ago -poof- it dies.
not light grre, dark green or brown. it basically rotted...

carrillowilliam
11/27/2013, 08:06 PM
Have you tried moving the light and the reflector ? Maybe it is receiving to much light and causing the algae to die off.

madweazl
11/27/2013, 08:18 PM
I know I am coming pretty late to this party, but I do know the answer!

I have some chaetomorpha that is growing like crazy. The diagnosis is simple:

1. If your chaeto is turning light green-white and stretching out loosely, it is getting too much light. The loss of color is bleaching of the chlorophyll.

2. If your chaeto is turning dark green and balling up into a wiry clump, it is getting too little light

3. If your chaeto is turning brown, diatoms are growing on it or it is acting as a filter and detritus from your tank is sticking to it. You can rinse this off.

The only lighting I have for it is a plant light, but it is growing and thriving. It has moderate flow but it is not tumbling around. I have some phosphate remover in there, don't know if that makes any difference.

Typically when something stretches out, it is to collect more light and when it clumps together, it's to receive less light. I used a JBJ LED on my refugium with very low water flow and the chaeto did very well (pretty tight ball). I every other month I'd have to toss about half of it.

madweazl
11/28/2013, 07:27 PM
Typically when something stretches out, it is to collect more light and when it clumps together, it's to receive less light. I used a JBJ LED on my refugium with very low water flow and the chaeto did very well (pretty tight ball). Every other month I'd have to toss about half of it.

sdblanshan
12/27/2013, 06:16 PM
Use a 20 watt cfl or move the light a few more feet away, you have too much light! This species will grow well at low light levels when phosphate and nitrate levels are low...

micgloth18
01/05/2016, 07:05 PM
I have been having trouble with this as well. i havea 14 gallon biocube with the in tank media in the back and my chaeto is in the second compartment its not alot but i was wanting to get it up and started before upgraded fully. I use the jbj nano light which bleaches the algea white because of the light. it does it in exactly the same size circles. I have had mine turning brown. I have a ten gallon tank that i have turned into a refugium as my clown that i received was female and the one in my tank was as well. So she lives in there with a bottom made of rock rubble and a egg crate that holds all the algea to help me grow some copepods and some algea in that tank it is doing great. NOthing but carbon and a cheap pump left over from an old tank i upgraded. but my copepod population isn't great. Any ideas? advise would be great?

outy
01/07/2016, 01:53 PM
I used a JBJ LED on my refugium with very low water flow and the chaeto did very well (pretty tight ball)..

That is actually low wattage and low light levels, which supports what he stated,