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Old 06/24/2013, 01:55 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Iceland
Posts: 1,516

These are my findings on this persistent algae and they may not apply exactly to all since there are many types.
After 1,5 years and having tried all of the usual methods and then number of my own I'm getting closer to be an expert.
I got them from a colossal tank and they are visible there if you look for them, but are kept in check by something unknown.
Dinos are extremely successful in the wild and can grow to epic proportions called red tides killing fish and inverts in big numbers with their toxic soup.
They can also sense bad times ahead and create cysts that lie dormant until the conditions are right again.

My tank and I
It's a 420g system lit with three 250W Mh and four 80W actinic T5. The sump is lit with a single 250W Mh.
There are four Tunze stream pumps and a big Eheim return pump. Deltec skimmer and calcium reactor rated for my tank. Bio pellet, carbon and GFO reactors. I have over 10 years in the hobby.

Light color
At 14K Kelvin the dinos grow well.
Under 20K Kelvin bulbs wich is very blue the dinos grow just as well, but are less visible since the color of the light does not bring out the natural brown as much.
I ran 14K and 20K Kelvin, 250W bulbs at the same time just to find out if color range or bulb age matter.
Light intensity
The dinos do not like very intense light and usually there is less of them there than in darker spots.
Still they do not grow in fully shaded areas so there is an intensity range they prefer.
Dark periods.
I turned the lights off for three days and resumed with 5 hours a day. This was just like hitting the pause button. The skimmer did not skim any more and detritus in the water column did not increase. This was totally useless method in my case. I kept doing the 5 hours light period for two weeks. The dinos did fine before, during and after this test.

I have not seen any difference between high and low current areas except where the current is high enough to blow the dinos right off.

Water changes
Dinoflagellates love water changes and not doing them will for sure make the dinos suffer. Still there is a drawback. I do 25% water changes monthly, but twice I have skipped doing them.
On the first occasion it was for two months and I lost a lot of corals and the dinos did not go away. The second time I had to try this method again and on the fifth week much of the dinos had left and I was pleased with the progress, but after six weeks the dinos in my corals started to leave as well, some corals died while others only lost the youngest growth or tips. There is a very thin line here and I do not recommend this if you have cherished Acroporas.
When I switched from standard TMC mix to full strength Red Sea Coral Pro I had couple of months of amazing coral growth and great colors. At the same time I switched out my Mh bulbs to more yellow ones.
This was when the dinos appeared in numbers and the growth stopped in many of the corals, but not all. Later I realized what I had thought for months to be diatoms on the sand was actually dinos.

I cut the feeding down by half for two months and it had no effect on the dinos. I felt the fish were starving so I went back to normal feeding wich is not much by the way.

A good skimmer is a must. Without one I think my tank would be a real mess or worse.
Blowing the dinos off the rocks may keep them from settling in and grow into clumps. This could be most useful next to corals were the algae could have a chance to smother a delicate coral. Doing this every few hours can be a real pain though.
The most effective method to remove large amounts at a time is to turn off the pumps, blow off the rocks and siphon the sand. You can siphon the sand twice a week and get each time amazing amounts of gunk that is clearly dinos. I spent a lot of time keeping my tank super clean, but that did not have any long term effect.
Filter socks are very helpful and will collect a lot of dinos both on the inside and as well on the outside if the lighting conditions are right. After two or three days they can not take more.

Growth rate.
I think they may be self regulating by some unknown parameter since they have never crossed certain density and in my case I'd say I have a mild to average dino problem. It never got epic and never got to acceptable.
I have had Cheatomorpha in my sump for almost a year that has never been harvested and hardly grows.

Coral growth is hampered by the dinos. I think it's the toxic soup they produce.
At times when there have been less dinos the corals show clear signs of good growth, better polyp extension and better health.
Some of my sps corals have been doing quite good for the duration while others are clearly affected by the dinos.
LPS and Montipora are doing fine and are less effected than the usual more difficult corals.
Coraline only grows in well shaded areas the dinos do not like.

I tried to run the tank at several temperatures and that did not leave a dent in anything.

Ca, Alk, Mg, Nitrates.
My tank has both had periods of low alkalinity and low calcium and at that time I though that had something to do with it, but having perfect parameters does not make dinos grow any less.
I raised the pH of the tank to about 8.4 for three days using kalkwasser without any positive effect. I had to keep the dosing to a steady stream to keep the pH up. The amount was way more than the tank needed and all of the pumps needed maintenance after.
Ferric Oxide. GFO.
For a few weeks I used a few pounds of the stuff and it did not help in any way make the tank look better.
I think it's useful for the tanks health, but not in a way that you will see any changes.
Bio Pellets and Vodka.
I had dinos before and after so they do not solve anything.
Algae X
This is not available or has been imported to my contry before so I'm certain to have big problems with customs or need to pay big buchs to have it tried and tested and hopefully accepted in months or years even.

I'm certain Dinoflaggelates change the chemistry of your tank in a way most of it's inhabitants are affected in a negative way. There are a number of methods some reefers have been succesful with while others have not. If you have a small tank, try some of them and restart if you are not successful. If it's a big tank and restart is not an option prepare to lose some corals and be aggressive in your battle against this devil.

I hope this will help someone.

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