View Full Version : Brown algae problem in an old tank, going on a month+

04/13/2017, 08:58 PM
So, potentially pertinent history first.

Tank was up and running for 2 years. Moved apartments and transferred to a new tank. Something about the move crashed the tank. Ammonia off the charts. Baked most of my rock, got recycled with biospira/ a bit of new live rock while my fish lived in a 20g long(Except my original blue damsel, cause he's an *******)with a couple new pieces of live rock from the lfs. Transferred everything back 6 months ago and had no problems (except the filefish eating all my zoas)

Setup is:
72g bowfront w/10g sump with Chateo, RO 150 skimmer 24/7, 2x hydor750 pumps on an oscillating switch over the sandbed, sump output up top with a rio 1200, ATO, 36w uv sterilizer, autofeeder which drops about 8 pellets of new life spectrum every morning.

Bioload is yellow tang, ocelaris clown, yellow face goby, firefish, filefish, orchid dottyback, and an 8" long tentacle anemone.

I'm sing 6 stage rodi with 0 tds and reef crystals salt. Changing out 15g every 2 weeks.

3 hour full light cycle, 4 hour actinic only.
Salinity 1.024
Ph 8.2
Nitrates <5
Phosphates 0

For the last month i have been getting this nasty brown algae all over my sand. Now its in the rocks and up the overflow.

Ive tried:
Shutting the lights off for 3 days and it goes away, but its back within hours when they go back on.
Manual removal
The vodka method
Adding kalk to the ato (to raise the ph a bit)
Reducing feedings
Changing pump positions and timing
Shortening the light cycle in the main tank
Shortening/increasing the sump light cycle...

I just cant get rid of it.

Hell, I'm not even sure what kind of algae it is.

Any help would be appreciated.

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05/05/2017, 07:07 PM
I feel ya bro, battled cyano on my 75 and now 3-4 weeks later dealing with brown algae....Let me know what happens.

05/05/2017, 09:50 PM
So how long ago did you move the tank? Maybe it had a mini cycled?

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05/20/2017, 04:20 AM
A diagnosis is impossible because an aquarium is a very complex ecosystem but here are a few ideas to ponder and help weigh your options.

In 2014, I've went through about ten years worth of this forum as part of my research into what triggers cyanobacteria and algae growth in aquaria. Of those posts, there are many examples of aquarium upgrades and additions, e.g., rocks, sumps, refugia, etc., that result in issues found in new setups. Your six month old upgrade falls into this category. I don't know what percent of the time this happens because no-issue upgrades aren't posted or discussed.

There seems to be a heavy reliance on water chemistry parameters to explain aquarium issues. There are parameters where a clear connection exists, e.g., Ca levels and coral growth. The role of nitrate and phosphate as the cause of nuisance algae growth is not so clear cut. Posts in this forum providing nitrate and phosphate levels may or may not have algae problems. Complicating things further is the fact that the maximum growth rate of macro algae is near the limit of detection for most of our test kits. This means algae can grow when these nutrients are not detected.

And back to the notion that our aquaria are complicated ecosystems, things grow and disappear in our systems because of predation, competition and availability of space and food. Trying to explain the behavior of such a system by nitrate and phosphate levels alone is very iffy. Trying to "fix" an issue by changing anyone thing is really a shot in the dark. When there is the possibility that some issues go away on their own, you can see why there is so many conjectures on the right way to fix a problem and why there are so many cures on the market.

Finally, there are a lot of ideas and perspectives provided in this forum. I have learned much since joining in 2014. The one lesson that seems to be consistently recommended for fixing or adjust something is patience. There are a lot of things in an aquarium to adjust and the response to those adjustments is often delayed by days or weeks. Adjusting things too quickly and without a plan will be very frustrating.


05/20/2017, 07:21 AM
Mini cycle due to changes. Get some fresh CUC

05/24/2017, 02:07 PM
I'm glad I stumbled upon this thread. I have brown algae. I usually just turkey baste everything everyday to "clean" it off the sand. I guess I don't care as much about it as some people and I don't have to worry about my snails dying. Everything is healthy, I even have an SPS in the tank that is growing. I am going to install an algae reactor in the next week. I will report back.

Do you use a skimmer? I don't.