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View Full Version : Chaeto reactor not doing so well. Any suggestions?


Mr. Manty
05/15/2017, 09:38 PM
I have had this chaeto reactor running for 2 weeks now on a month cycled tank and have had noticeable growth - maybe doubled in volume from the baseball size it was.

But now I am seeing some brown growth on top of the chaeto which was once bright green (see below) and on the acrylic. Some of the chaeto is even becoming pale, just look closely at the photos.

I am guessing this is some cyano or diatom that is covering the chaeto and blocking light and/or respiration .

I have very high nutrient levels and I run the lights 24/7. Running the lights 24/7 should not be a problem as I have seen many do this with macro reactors with no issues and great growth. It seems to just be stunted by this brown growth. Or maybe that is not what haa stunted it, I do not know.

Any tips?

jeromeit
05/16/2017, 08:01 AM
When I experienced this in my fuge I would rinse the chaeto in saltwater and put back into the tank. TBH it might be the light, I've heard that macroalgae, like most plants need a break from light, so I doubt that the 24 hour cycle is helping it. Never had it in a reactor though.

wii64brawl
05/16/2017, 08:31 AM
Run the reactor lights opposite your DT lights.

Mr. Manty
05/16/2017, 01:05 PM
if the duration of light is an issue its not because of the chaeto itself. I have seen plenty of examples of 24/7 light in reactors and it only increases growth.

But the 24/7 light could very well be contributing to the micro growth that is covering the chaeto.

Mr. Manty
05/16/2017, 01:07 PM
And also there is no "opposite" lighting schedule for me as it is a peacock mantis shirmp tank and i only turn on the lights to view him. I'll try 12 hour lighting or something .

Maybe 24/7 lighting only works in low nutrients which discourage mircro growth on the macro algae. I have very high nitrates atm.

eppersonm16
05/16/2017, 01:48 PM
After talking with other people who run Chaeto reactors successfully, they suggested that I add some kind of iron supplement to keep the Chaeto healthy and so I tried using Seachem Reef Plus which contains iron and other trace elements and so far it seems to work well. Hope this helps.......

Michael

eppersonm16
05/16/2017, 01:50 PM
Also, on my Chaeto reactor I only run the lights for about 14 hours per day and I dont use a protein skimmer.

Michael Hoaster
05/16/2017, 04:58 PM
Iron is often helpful for mystery macro stagnation. Are you sure you have high nutrients? One mantis shrimp shouldn't generate much. You might prune the chaeto back a bit to see if a smaller plant grows better. If so, this would indicate deficient nutrients, which also might indicate you don't need the reactor for your live stock level.

Mr. Manty
05/17/2017, 07:46 AM
Im all but certain it is just something you have to deal with when you have high nutrients/ high silicates like me. I washed the chaeto off today and it was bright green underneath!

And yes my nitrates have been around 40. They are high from leftovers from the cycle and the kind of food that a 7 inch peacock eats. I feed him live clams that he busts open, makes my skimmer go crazy. Also he is in just a 20 gallon.

scuzy
05/17/2017, 08:33 AM
Actually I read somewhere 24/7 lighting cycler does nothing for chaeto. I couldn't find the link. Reason I run mine reverse light schedule as my main tank. So far the growth is awesome.


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Mr. Manty
05/17/2017, 10:04 AM
I have read people having better growth with 24/7 or that it does nothing or even harms it. There just isnt any good empirical evidence on this niche setup yet.

scuzy
05/17/2017, 10:11 AM
Well mine is doing well on reverse cycle compare to 24/7 it died


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Mr. Manty
05/17/2017, 10:44 AM
If it begins to go south again, doing half lights will def be my next step. There is no reverse cycle because do not run lights on my tank.

cougareyes
05/17/2017, 10:27 PM
I know of no plant life on earth that requires a 24/7 light cycle, I don't get it. Anytime I ever had a negative experience with chaeto it has been because of too much light, either in intensity or duration.

Mr. Manty
05/18/2017, 06:55 AM
The idea of 24/7 light has nothing to do with what it requires. Just unnatural acceleration of growth. I would like to run some tests to see if it makes a difference beyond anecdotal evidence from me or anyone else.

I can confirm that the chaeto itself is NOT being harmed so far by 24/7 light. The issue is all the cyano and diatom growth on the chaeto atm which i can wash off.

firefly73
05/18/2017, 07:18 AM
all life requires a down time for respiration , disposing of waste etc.
mayhap its not seen too often as the cheato is cut down often enough to halt the failure.
. im running 58w of grow lights for land plants ........i get massive growth from 16 hrs on 8 off. edges are darker green centre is pale but only on top. there is a differnce in spectrum for higher and lower algae . lower will adapt and grow under anything hence outcompete the higher. not what you want so change to a grow type light , telltale pink/red 3/4 blue 1/4 . ive no lower algae growing in my fuge .......at all

Mr. Manty
05/18/2017, 08:23 AM
I have another reactor with a red/blue led growth strip on it. This light does produce noticeable day to day growth so i just havn't gotten around to upgrading it yet.

I think I will slap on a timer , though. I will start with 16 hrs on 8 off like you.

firefly73
05/19/2017, 04:28 AM
I have another reactor with a red/blue led growth strip on it. This light does produce noticeable day to day growth so i just havn't gotten around to upgrading it yet.

I think I will slap on a timer , though. I will start with 16 hrs on 8 off like you.

id try to get those waste levels down to. macro is good imo at stabllizing a level but not the best to reduce levels if you know what i mean.

ERivera65
05/24/2017, 04:30 PM
i would pull the reactor and seperate the algae. i would clean the inside of the reactor with a brush and rinse off the algae. When I ran my refugium setup in my old tank, i ran the lights mostly opposite of the display to help with pH by photosynthesis. i ran the refugium light like 14-16 hours.

Mr. Manty
05/24/2017, 08:50 PM
I did clean the algae and am now doing a shorter photo period. I will try iron dosing if i do not see improvment by the end of the week.

Mr. Manty
06/06/2017, 02:16 PM
What I learned:


If you have issues with diatoms or cyano in your tank, then your chaeto will get covered in it in a few days. Once you get the nitrates under control you will not have my issue.

Iron did definitely help. I got great growth but then it slowed to a crawl and began to fade and die. I am guessing because it is only a 20 gal system that has gone without a waterchange for a month that the chaeto used up all the trace elements that it needs (iodine, magnesium etc...)

I did a water change, will update with what happens.

Michael Hoaster
06/06/2017, 03:37 PM
It sounds like you're having some luck!

Also keep in mind that as your nutrients get under control, there will be less for your chaeto, so you may want to prune it down, in essence, making it a smaller mouth to feed.

Mr. Manty
07/21/2017, 05:48 PM
So.... even with frequent water changes, dosing iron, rinsing the chaeto every few days, plenty of nutrients... i can't seem to get it to grow for more than a week. It will fill up the tube, i will thin it out, then it will stop growing and turn white slowly.

scuzy
07/21/2017, 05:54 PM
What kind of lights

Mr. Manty
07/22/2017, 11:36 AM
The LED strips pictured at the beginning of the thread. The lights might not be ideal but the should be able to row cheato. This exact aame reactor and light combo os aold by marine depo and many people use it with great success. I do not know what curse i have. Incredibly frustrating : (

scuzy
07/22/2017, 12:53 PM
Yeah i'm using the same one and it's growing chaeto

Michael Hoaster
07/22/2017, 01:23 PM
The key to your problem may be that you don't light your tank. Right now the only place for algae to grow in is in your reactor. So it's not surprising your chaeto gets covered in muck. Try putting your display light on a timer opposite your reactor's light cycle. This should help spread the algae around. If you're worried about algae in your display, you could add a fast growing macro like ulva.

Jlentz
07/22/2017, 06:19 PM
Any shell rot issues at 40 nitrate? I actually keep mine in a reef. It leans heavily towards the blue spectrum to try and reflect the proper depth.

I run a turbo scrubber on my system, 18 hour light cycle on the scrubber.


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Mr. Manty
07/25/2017, 06:33 AM
Micheal- Running opposite is what i do by default now and I resort to just rinsing the chaeto. The Chaeto still will stop growing and slowly lose color.



Jlentz- This is a O. havanensis tank at the moment, a species not prone to shell rot. The nitrates themselves can be harmful to them, however.

Mr. Manty
07/25/2017, 06:46 AM
Yeah i'm using the same one and it's growing chaeto

Do you really just toss it in there and forget until you need to thin it out?

Michael Hoaster
07/25/2017, 07:26 PM
Well, if it's not growing, it's either a lack of light or nutrients. Since it sounds like you have plenty of the major nutrients, it could be a minor one, like iron. Iron can often be a limiting nutrient in aquariums because it gets depleted quickly in a closed system. Try adding iron. It won't hurt anything in your tank. It comes in a very diluted form, since it is considered a trace element. It really colored up my macros nicely. Hope this helps.

Mr. Manty
07/26/2017, 08:09 AM
Well, if it's not growing, it's either a lack of light or nutrients. Since it sounds like you have plenty of the major nutrients, it could be a minor one, like iron. Iron can often be a limiting nutrient in aquariums because it gets depleted quickly in a closed system. Try adding iron. It won't hurt anything in your tank. It comes in a very diluted form, since it is considered a trace element. It really colored up my macros nicely. Hope this helps.

Thanks for the help dude, but i did state earlier that I have been dosing iron. This did seem to help at one time but now the chaeto will turn white after a week. I am going to try to use higher flow and see how that works.

Michael Hoaster
07/26/2017, 08:17 AM
D'oh! Maybe it's your LEDs then? Can you add more, or brighter ones?

Diana A
07/26/2017, 11:55 AM
Have you watched this yet? He talks about the quality/power of light on chaeto vs the tank
http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2645642

Mr. Manty
07/27/2017, 12:59 PM
Micheal - It is not the LEDs as this is a very common setup and even a guy in this thread has these lights. They grow chaeto just fine.

Diana - And I have watched that! It helped me quite a lot and that channel is AMAZING. Very good idea linking that to me even though i have seen it.


The only thing i can think of is a lack of flow as it has a pretty wimpy pump. I just put on a slightly more powerful pump and will update.

sh4rkbyt3
08/22/2017, 01:16 PM
My money is on the weak pump if everything else is showing itself to be in good balance. It could very well be starving the chaeto?

Sounds as though you can eliminate the lights being an issue and besides the iron (which I'm not sure how fast it depletes itself) that only leaves competing algae or lack of nutrients which could happen with flow?

If that doesn't turn out to be the culprit then the only thing left would be to check all of your tests (post them)?

Mr. Manty
08/24/2017, 03:36 PM
Same thing happened with the faster pump. Another 7$ ball of chaeto down. This was 2 weeks ago and I have given up for now. I have no idea how i have failed while having the EXACT same pump/reactor/lightstrip as many others who have great success.

Could my LED's be running brighter than others because of the wattage being delivered to it is different from that of other people's setups?

I set up a 20gal refugium/sump under my 40 breeder with some blue/red LED strips wrapped around it. I will prolly get a more powerful overhead light. I am done with reactors for now until I have another eureka moment.

scuzy
08/24/2017, 05:03 PM
What's you're phosphate level in tank?

Mr. Manty
08/29/2017, 12:10 PM
What's you're phosphate level in tank?

I don't test for phosphate since I am not running reef tanks and I simply use nitrate as an indicator of other pollutants. The reactor has been tested across two tanks. The reason I tested two tanks is because the first tank houses a peacock mantis shrimp only and the foods he eats (live crabs, clams, frozen food soaked in selcon) might be lacking the necessary levels of phostphate that a prepared fish food might have. So, I moved the reactor to a fowler tank containing a melanurus wrasse, royal gramma, damsel, and a havanensis mantis shrimp. Same outcome.


One thing that I am thinking about in hindsight... Maybe my light strip really was running brighter than everyone elses? There is no power brick to regulate that so maybe the voltage was higher from my wall than it needed to be.

Also it is a rather small reactor and the lightstrip would sometimes sag and create a higher density wrap towards the bottom of the tube. Maybe all that light in one area contributed to the issue occasionally.

Maybe both? I do not know.

Mr. Manty
08/29/2017, 12:14 PM
And I have no phosphate specific nutrient export method. I only skim.

scuzy
08/29/2017, 01:09 PM
Hmm how odd. My reactor is going strong

Mr. Manty
09/10/2017, 10:46 PM
And now it is falling apart in the sump. It is almost as if my water is poison.

I am using this light in a 20 gal sump tank under my 40 gal tank: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CH75SGY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Even people in the reviews for the light claim to be growing chaeto like mad.


I use RODI. I have high nutrients. I use lighting already proven to grow chaeto by others. I dose iron. I have a 500gph pump on the sump so flow can't be an issue.

It really feels like I am the target of some global conspiracy that misrepresents the viability of chaeto. Am I going crazy? I have spent so much money trying to get all of this stuff working. Please. Somebody. If you have knowledge to fill in some obvious gap of ignorance that I am displaying, please enlighten me.

Michael Hoaster
09/11/2017, 09:52 AM
It can be discouraging, but we ALL have plants that won't 'work' for us. So yours is chaeto. No biggee. Try some caulerpa or grasilaria or ulva. See what works with your situation.

Mr. Manty
09/11/2017, 12:15 PM
It can be discouraging, but we ALL have plants that won't 'work' for us. So yours is chaeto. No biggee. Try some caulerpa or grasilaria or ulva. See what works with your situation.

But there has to be a reason why. I gotta know it

Michael Hoaster
09/11/2017, 01:36 PM
If you gotta know, send a water sample to Triton for testing.

Mr. Manty
09/12/2017, 09:08 AM
If you gotta know, send a water sample to Triton for testing.

Hey good idea! Thank you!

Michael Hoaster
09/12/2017, 11:58 AM
My pleasure! Good luck!

Newms118
09/24/2017, 08:04 PM
The LED strips pictured at the beginning of the thread. The lights might not be ideal but the should be able to row cheato. This exact aame reactor and light combo os aold by marine depo and many people use it with great success. I do not know what curse i have. Incredibly frustrating : (

Chaeto can be such a little betch sometimes to get it grow. I have never been successful with it and have had balls of dark green tight wound chaeto turn to light green loosely associated chaeto to chaeto that turns clear. :debi::debi::debi::debi::debi::debi::debi::debi::debi::debi:

Subsea
09/24/2017, 09:14 PM
I don't test for phosphate since I am not running reef tanks and I simply use nitrate as an indicator of other pollutants. The reactor has been tested across two tanks. The reason I tested two tanks is because the first tank houses a peacock mantis shrimp only and the foods he eats (live crabs, clams, frozen food soaked in selcon) might be lacking the necessary levels of phostphate that a prepared fish food might have. So, I moved the reactor to a fowler tank containing a melanurus wrasse, royal gramma, damsel, and a havanensis mantis shrimp. Same outcome.


One thing that I am thinking about in hindsight... Maybe my light strip really was running brighter than everyone elses? There is no power brick to regulate that so maybe the voltage was higher from my wall than it needed to be.

Also it is a rather small reactor and the lightstrip would sometimes sag and create a higher density wrap towards the bottom of the tube. Maybe all that light in one area contributed to the issue occasionally.

Maybe both? I do not know.

Manta,
My test for phosphate is emerging cynobacteria. The ratio of nitrogen to phosphate in maco is 40:1 and higher in fast growing macro. With all the trouble that you are having, a detailed test of major and minor nutrients is a great idea.

Mr. Manty
10/09/2017, 08:50 AM
Well guys I got it growing! Holy crap.
It's been going strong for about 2 weeks now.

Here is what I am pretty sure I was doing wrong:


My biggest issue was that i would put chaeto in with high nutrients already in the tank. I moved to a new place recently and through the process of moving the tank I did a large water change. When i put the Chaeto in the sump with STRONG lighting (High watt LED grow bulb 2 inches away from the glass with the chaeto being pressed against the glass) with the low nutrients, nothing grew on the chaeto. What seemed to happen is the chaeto out-competed any diatomes and other nuisance growth since it was there from the low nutrient start. With nothing growing on the chaeto killing it, it was able to uptake nutrients as they were produced.

Michael Hoaster
10/09/2017, 09:33 AM
That's great news! Nothing like a water change reset. Happy chaeto-growing!