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Old 08/29/2013, 04:24 PM   #19
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Plano, TX
Posts: 672
I have had toxic planktonic dinos twice. In 2 different reef tanks.

Virtually everything you've typed fits my experiences completely. Your initial post could have been written by me. When I first had the issue, I would spend an hour today scouring the internet for more information on these suckers. NO ONE has any reliable or repeatable methods for getting rid of them, IMO. It amazes me, actually, how little or anecdotal the collective knowledge is. No doubt this post will be just as infuriating to you.

But, nevertheless, here are some of my random observations over the years.

1) If left unchecked, they will absolutely kill coral. In particular, more sensitive SPS. It can actually get really bad if ignored and kill even more than that. I've had LPS die from them too. And a sea fan.
2) The first thing anyone tells you to do with any pest algae is reduce phosphates or nitrates. I have never measured any phosphates or nitrates either before or after a dinos outbreak. I have read some people theorize that high nitrates are actually BAD for dinos. My attempts to be super aggressive by not feeding, GFO, etc. over several weeks had no effect.
3) I tried the method (talked about here) of raising pH and keeping it elevated by dripping kalk. It was a massive pain, ultimately destroyed some of my equipment, and had absolutely no effect on dinos for an extended period of time.
4) I have tried the peroxide treatment. I think this is a massive placebo. I've even tried quadruple the recommended dose. It actually had no effect on anything in the tank that I could say except briefly (and I mean BRIEFLY) in areas where I would directly apply it.
5) I agree that water changes -- if anything -- make it worse. They seem to die off more the longer between the water changes. I read a few articles that they like and depend on selenium and iron. Maybe that affects it.
6) Obvious, but do not dose trace elements.
7) For me, lights out works to an extent. It's beats them back for a few days. But it suuuuuuuuucks. To really beat them back takes like a 5 day blackout period and that includes (counterintuitively) blacking out the refugium. I believe that keeps them alive. And your corals suffer immensely. Some might even die if you go long enough.
8) With both experiences, I was able to keep them at a "maintenance" level by simply blowing off, siphoning, etc. every day and periodically doing lights out periods. It was horrible and tons of work, but I did not have to restart the tank. Growth was abysmal because every few weeks I'd had to shut down the lights to beat them back enough. But I absolutely fundamentally was opposed to restarting a tank... and eventually they died off.


So what did work for me?

1) I honestly have no idea. Really no idea. They just die out after many months (like, 4 or 5, unfortunately). It is the greatest thing ever when it happens. But I will posit some of my half-baked theories.
2) One of the first times I was cleaning the tank, I moved out some of the more dino-covered rocks into another tank I had. The other tank had not been used for anything special and was not well-maintained. Lots of hair algae and measurable nitrates and phosphates. The tank was lit by high-output LEDs. The dinos on the rocks disintegrated within 24 hours in the other tank. Poof. Vanished.

I had also noticed that I had shared coral with people in the past who had no dino outbeaks in their own tanks. They were not nearly as disciplined, which made me feel bad. Most did not run GFO or big skimmers or anything.

Hmm, I thought. Why?

It is my theory now that these do not compete well with other microalgae. I bet you don't have any real other types of microalgae in your tank, do you? Either that, or the theory that they actually don't do well with nutrients in the water.

Whatever the reason, I no longer bother to curtail my feeding to reduce dinos. It doesn't seem to matter. In fact, it's possible that it HELPS to feed more, if you buy some of the theories. I now look at a little ordinary algae as actually healthy in my tank.

3) Permanently resign yourself to a short light cycle until the dinos are gone. It's a long time to suffer slow coral growth, I know, but the lights definitely juice these babies during the day.

4) Just go as long as possible between water changes. You can't go forever, but try it. Maybe time a lights out cycle with the next time you have to do a water change. For whatever reason, it was when I was at my maximum laziness with changing the water when the dinos started to die out.


Current Tank Info: 210 Gallon "Mixed Reef" Tank (84 inches wide)
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