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Old 06/24/2013, 01:55 PM   #1
DNA
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Dinoflagellates.

Dinoflagellates.
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.

Current
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.

Feeding.
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.

Cleaning.
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.

Corals
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.

Temperature.
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.
pH
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.
Carbon
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.
DNA


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Old 06/24/2013, 09:29 PM   #2
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I recently restarted my 50 gallon reef and shortly after developed a bloom of ostreopsis dinoflagellates (identified by a microbiologist), a mixotrophic, highly toxic species. So, I once again restarted the tank after a month. After removing corals and fish, I massively overdosed the tank with peroxide to kill the dinos and am now waiting for things to settle down. During the tank's first inception, the dinos made a brief, very limited appearance and then disappeared. Something wasn't agreeable to them. If I looked under a microscope, I'd see a few individual dinos. But no blooms. I assume trace elements in the freshly mixed salt water might have had something to do with their resurgence.

Freshwater kills dinos instantly, so from now on, I'm going to perform a freshwater dip on each new specimen for a few seconds prior to its introduction to the tank.

Have you tried hydrogen peroxide dosing at 1ml per 10 gallons of water? It works wonders for many with dinos. I also tried Ultra Algae X and it didn't do much other than slow down the growth a little.


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Old 06/24/2013, 10:15 PM   #3
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The solution for me was 3.5 days in blackout darkness, moonlights at minimum were the only source of light. I was also dosing peroxide during that period. Dinos were completely gone at the end of the those 3.5 days.


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Old 06/25/2013, 07:31 AM   #4
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My dinoflagellates just kind of started to go away on their own after several months. They're still there. I see them build up on the powerheads and my overflow sponges are usually caked with them, but they're no longer covering the rocks and coral. It wasn't any one specific thing that did it. They just began dwindling over time


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Old 07/09/2013, 11:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Potsy View Post
I recently restarted my 50 gallon reef and shortly after developed a bloom of ostreopsis dinoflagellates (identified by a microbiologist), a mixotrophic, highly toxic species. So, I once again restarted the tank after a month. After removing corals and fish, I massively overdosed the tank with peroxide to kill the dinos and am now waiting for things to settle down. During the tank's first inception, the dinos made a brief, very limited appearance and then disappeared. Something wasn't agreeable to them. If I looked under a microscope, I'd see a few individual dinos. But no blooms. I assume trace elements in the freshly mixed salt water might have had something to do with their resurgence.

Freshwater kills dinos instantly, so from now on, I'm going to perform a freshwater dip on each new specimen for a few seconds prior to its introduction to the tank.

Have you tried hydrogen peroxide dosing at 1ml per 10 gallons of water? It works wonders for many with dinos. I also tried Ultra Algae X and it didn't do much other than slow down the growth a little.
Great advice. I'm fairly new at this and currently have Dino in my tank as a result, I'm assuming, of my auto feeder being too generous while I was on vacation AND dosing Aquavitro Fuel minor trace elements. I've stopped the minor trace dosing and feed once every two days.


Anyhow, I'm really nervous about using HO2O in my tank. First of all, any brand of HO2O would work? Do I dose 1 HO2O:10 G SW all at once? My last question, is HO2O safe for all corals? Someone said it can kill my RBTA, your thoughts?


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Old 07/10/2013, 11:29 AM   #6
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there is a huge thread about in on page two of the nanos forum. you should read it to see how many different corals and application techniques we use.
http://reefcentral.com/forums/showth...082359&page=53
pico reef pest algae challenge thread
Im working on a very successful cure with it right now at nano reef.com too

we have examples of it simply not working for dinos, and then an easy cure in other tanks. it ranges.

there are also myriad examples of success without it like using algaefix marine, or lights out + pH boosts you can read about on this forum.

the important thing to know is if any method was best we'd all be using it. the variance out there indicates the need by the consumer for a range of options, so read the thread and see if it will work for your tank.

some in here hate the method and would never use it, our thread shows opposite preferences and outcomes, so take from it what you will like anything else online

the main benefit of the thread is being able to predict which benthic and pelagic and vert/invert animals in our tank will tolerate the attempt. the thread is choc full of that kind of work.

most of the treatments in that thread are in tank with corals. two types of animals to stay away from when using any dose of peroxide are lysmata and pep cleaner shrimp and anems like sebae, heteractis etc



Last edited by brandon429; 07/10/2013 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 07/10/2013, 12:01 PM   #7
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Regular H2O2 peroxide from store will kill them at 1ml per 10g given a sustained assault. Careful use of it increases redox and has the same effect as ozone. It works but as u noted cut down water changes during this period. Lookup ozone and Dino's, there is interesting stuff out there.


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Old 07/10/2013, 02:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReeferGil View Post
Great advice. I'm fairly new at this and currently have Dino in my tank as a result, I'm assuming, of my auto feeder being too generous while I was on vacation AND dosing Aquavitro Fuel minor trace elements. I've stopped the minor trace dosing and feed once every two days.


Anyhow, I'm really nervous about using HO2O in my tank. First of all, any brand of HO2O would work? Do I dose 1 HO2O:10 G SW all at once? My last question, is HO2O safe for all corals? Someone said it can kill my RBTA, your thoughts?
As was mentioned before, anemones and shrimp can be sensitive to it, but beyond that it's safe if used at correct dosages 1 ml/10 gallons. I've even tried 2ml/10 gallons and my livestock had no reaction. Your zoanthids and palythoa will close up for a few minutes but will be fine. If you have a dino strain that responds to it, don't expect immediate results.

A microscope is a very useful tool when it comes to fighting dinos. You can check each purchase for dinos before you put them in display or quarantine. My dinos were easily visible at 40x magnification.

A quick freshwater dip lasting a few seconds will kill dinos instantly.


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Old 07/27/2013, 09:45 AM   #9
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After a week on holiday three acroporas are dead.
I had everything on auto except I could not replace the filtersocks or empty the skimmer.

This what happens if you let them do their thing.


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Old 07/27/2013, 10:45 AM   #10
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Were the acros smothered by dinos upon your return? If not, perhaps dead dinos in the filter sock left to accumulate for a week released toxins?

Since my tank only has new dry rock I've been able to experiment with the dinos to determine the limits of what they can tolerate.

24 hours at a specific gravity of 1.006 killed most of them, but apparently there were a few survivors as they returned after a week or so. Under my microscope, when I lower the salinity in the petri dish, the change is sudden and totally lethal. In the display, I gradually lower the salinity with ro water straight from the filter, so I'm sure some of the dinos adjusted to the change.

For about a week I dosed 1/3 cup of peroxide, sometimes twice daily. This did not seem to affect the bio filtration as an addition of .25 ppm of ammonium chloride was consumed by bacteria overnight.

I dumped in about 120ml of Fauna Marin Ultra Algae X all at once. It didn't work when I used it properly at 12 ml every two days. This did put a dent in the bio filtration as a mini cycle is occurring.

No lights for about two weeks, but there is ambient room light.

The problem with ostreopsis dinos is that they are mixotrophic and so can survive blackout periods. Also, they can take on a protective cyst form when hazardous environmental conditions arise. So I'll be amazed if they survive the torture I've inflicted but not surprised. Interestingly, Pants here on reefcentral discovered that they depend on bacterial symbionts for survival. Theoretically, antibiotics would indirecty kill ostreopsis... but also do away with your nitrifying bacteria.

If, upon running a regular light cycle, the dinos return, I will declare them nearly indestructible and just drain the tank, dry everything out, do a thorough vinegar or bleach cleaning, and restart. My clownfish and single coral are perfectly happy in my temporary 20 gallon. As of now, I can't find any with my microscope after viewing about twenty samples.

Their first two minor appearances in my tank's previous incarnation were short lived and resolved on their own for reasons I don't understand. There were no algae competitors but I did carbon dose. Perhaps bacterial competition?



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Old 07/27/2013, 12:23 PM   #11
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Were the acros smothered by dinos upon your return? If not, perhaps dead dinos in the filter sock left to accumulate for a week released toxins?
One got partly covered and two just lost their tissues so both I'd say.

I expect the ocean to be full of dinos, but in small numbers most of the time and same goes for reef tanks I'd think. I've dived during the night on coral reefs and seen the beautiful light some of them give off. Still they don't multiply like mad and cause problems. The ocean has the solution to this problem that works most of the time.

Perhaps it's a bacterial thing or some microscopic war going on that keeps their numbers down. Whatever it is I'd like to know.


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Old 07/27/2013, 12:45 PM   #12
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But they can indeed cause plenty of problems in the ocean. My particular species is causing horrible blooms on the Italian coast right now, poisoning people with palythoa toxin and clogging beaches. Japan is starting to fall victim to these blooms recently as ostreopsis dinos adapt to lower water temperatures.


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Old 07/27/2013, 05:44 PM   #13
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Dinoflagellates can be a problem in a lot of places. In the ocean, nutrient levels and temperature can play a role in the blooms. On the other side, there are lots of organisms and viruses that attack microbes, too.

For the lights-out treatment to work, you might need to do a lot of nutrient control when the dinoflagellates start dying. Water changes, GFO, and carbon might help. I agree that the dinoflagellates are likely to return if there's an underlying problem.

Some people do seem to be successful with hydrogen peroxide, too.


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Old 08/16/2013, 10:31 AM   #14
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I'm down to last resort and have already dosed H2O2 5 times, 30 milliliters each day to my 300 gallons.
The day after the first dose there were noticeably more dinos than the day before. (Approx 50% more).

The dinos have also changed their appearance from almost all dusty before to much more stringy now.
It seems to me like the conditions for the dinos are better than before the H2O2 so I'm only doing one more dose tomorrow.

----

Customs didn't look into my imported package containing AlgaeX so there is one final realistic option to try out.
If that does not work I'm going to have these dinoflagellates identified and put in the superhero category.



Last edited by bertoni; 09/06/2013 at 11:17 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 08/16/2013, 12:27 PM   #15
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those rascals are so iffy

we have some fixes with peroxide and some no go thats for sure...some in that other thread were even using marine algae fix on them with results sometimes. I dont think its strongly repeatable across tanks, dinos are such a bad invader I hope I never get them. being finished stocking a tank really helps though, no more import vectors. these huge tanks are nearly unending frag importers lol. we zapped what -may- have been dinos in this nano tank but instead of full tank dosing it was a direct rock treatment, pretty good kill. The in tank runs where you can't power zap and more 50 50, get us some pics if you can!
http://www.nano-reef.com/topic/32968...and-calothrix/


I also have to state that instead of dosing the tank on top, we not stop circulation and underwater spot inject the same amount for that extra contact time across the target. huge increase. we even use concentrators now made of saran wrap, or various plastic bell ends etc.



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Old 08/16/2013, 01:29 PM   #16
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I meant to say we now stop circulation...pumps off for a sec


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Old 08/16/2013, 07:58 PM   #17
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I used a multi-pronged attack to beat my dinos. I never ID'd species, but they were nontoxic. They were starting to really take over though. I blacked the tank out for 5 days (using garbage bags to cover it), raised pH to just over 8.5, dosed peroxide at 1ml/10g twice daily, and ran a boatload of gfo. They vanished along with pretty much all the microalgae in my tank.


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Old 08/29/2013, 11:32 AM   #18
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After 11 days of dosing AlgaeX as directed by Fauna Marin there is no change at all in the dinoflagellates population.
I had high hopes for this, but disappointment is sinking in. I even added 3 days of darkness after a week of no results.

The information from the manufacturer is on a need to know basis only so I'll have to do the full 21 days duration to be sure.
There is still a spec of hope that there will be an accumulative effect and at some point the dinos will start to suffer.

In 10 days I have tried everything there is to try on this subject.

Is there anyone on Reef Central that can and is willing to identify dinos from a photo taken with a proper microscope?

Here is an image at roughly 25X magnification from life size.
They are brown, stringy, twirl and produce small bubbles that gather into larger ones that raise to the surface.





Last edited by bertoni; 09/06/2013 at 11:17 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 08/29/2013, 04:24 PM   #19
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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.


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Old 08/29/2013, 10:43 PM   #20
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I am not able to identify dinoflagellates, even with a microscope, so I can't help you there. Looking at the picture, I wonder whether the problem might be more bacterial in nature. That'd explain why the dark period didn't help. Did you block light to the tank completely?


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Old 08/30/2013, 01:56 AM   #21
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Very nice post Squidmotron

I agree the lack of solid information and the fact there are no concrete solutions to the problem is very frustrating.
After all that I have done to minimize them it seems like there is no cure this tank disease.
The theories that pop up are endless and many so far fetched it ridiculous. I did try the overfeeding one too by the way for a few weeks.
I have nothing against algae since it's a big part on healthy reefs. I just prefer most of it to be in the sump.
There is some microalgae in the tank, but the dinos seem to be keeping it down as well as the macroalgae.

We are like cancer patients discussing the symptoms and there are similarities between these two.

- - -

Bertoni I don't know what you mean by the bacterial statement.
The whole picture covers about half square inch and bacteria would be much smaller.
These brown specs can be seen with a naked eye given then right conditions.
The photo was taken with a 100mm macro lens through another 50mm inverted lens as well giving around 25x magnification from life size.
I did cover the tank during the first darkness period, but this last one was only to help out the AlgaeX which only asks you to reduce the light.

- - -

I did try to involve two local cold sea dino experts, but they didn't even bother to reply to my request. I think I may have found knowledgeable people to help me out with a good microscope. Dinos are quite unique and I think they are easily identified as a species, but I'd like mine to be pinpointed.


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Old 08/30/2013, 07:04 AM   #22
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Well at least pants' large thread here might have pics already in it

Dont know where it is but its here

Pants is the dino guy


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Old 08/30/2013, 07:33 AM   #23
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When i used the ultra algae x i did 3 days of no lights prior to it arriving.I believe that is what allowed it to work well for me.I also reduced the lighting period when i was useing it as well and then ramped it up very slowly after the treatment was done HTH-Kieth


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Old 08/30/2013, 02:59 PM   #24
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I was wondering whether the pest, whatever it is, actually is photosynthetic.


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Old 08/30/2013, 04:21 PM   #25
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Guys I feel your pain,

I changed my very sucessful 2x2x2 SPS cube to a 36x24x20, rimless, braceless optiwhite tank last December.

On the new tank I replaced all the live rock with fresh fiji rock and a new sandbed, splashed out and got LED's to replace my T5's and once the initial cycle was finished transfered over all my live stock.

The Dino's started to appear about 6 weeks after the transfer. Water changes, syphon them out, cut back on lighting & feeding, nothing changed.

In April I took by sandbed out and replaced it, they came back in bigger numbers. My Acro's were getting hit hard, dynos on the tips.

I changed my skimmer, pipework, heater, bulbs, nothing worked. I did a 5 day blackout, nothing.

At the start of August having lost almost all my SPS, I broke the tank down, selling off almost all of what was left. I did keep my true percs, I got a 60l tank, transfered live rock and sand from the tank to the holding tank and guess what, no dyno's..... nothing, not a trace.

I got a new custom made cube and as I type this I am mixing up water with the intention of starting the cycle on Sunday.

It beat me... Dyno's 1, Reefer 0


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