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Old 01/07/2006, 07:02 PM   #1
mmgm
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Unhappy Nightmare Red Cotton Algae: Took over my tank

All:

I can't beleive this has happened...... For a year I have been setting up a beautiful 700 gallon system. This includes a 300+ gallon refugium with DSB and 400 gallon display tank. My water prameters are perfect. About 4 months ago I noticed this Red Algae growing in the refugium. The stuff is red and looks exactly like cotton. Within the 4 months my refugium and display tank are over-run with this algae..... My LFS has called all around the country and no-one can recomend a solution to get rid of this stuff.....

Has anyone ever seen this stuff?
Any experts out there that know how to get rid of this?

I don't even want to think of the alternative to rip down the tank..... I have years of time (not to mention $$$$ invested)

Maybe this thread will also help others to avoid a nightmare like this.....

Help..... This is real trouble......









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Old 01/07/2006, 07:14 PM   #2
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Arconom has dealt with this...PM him.

Sean


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Old 01/07/2006, 08:51 PM   #3
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have you tried a cowrie? those things munch down algae like no other. they decimated all the algae in my brothers tank in roughly 2 weeks time. he has a 50g btw w/ 1 cowrie


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Old 01/07/2006, 09:18 PM   #4
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I'll second the cowry I had mine in my 55 and he went everywhere for the algae but mine also developed a taste for my open brain and frogspawn corals so be aware they are omnivors . I took mine out to save my corals though I was told about this up front from a friend . Also my cowry was noctournal and moved around to graze at night . I would wake up to find my rockwork everywhere the cowry went . If you decide to try a cowry I suggest you put him in the fuge first just to see if it'll eat the redcotton stuff if it does'nt then you could take him back to the LFS without losing any corals or critters.


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Old 01/07/2006, 11:41 PM   #5
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Sadly I know about that algea all to well

I will tell you what worked for me up until I gave up.


It is almost impossible to prune it manually because it break apart in your hand to easily. Siphon it.

IMO It loves Low PH

Mexican Turbo's no subsitutes. Make sure you get the real deal. Not the imposters.

http://www.etropicals.com

I wish I had better news for you But in that sized tank to do any amount of clearing in a short amount of time were talking alot of Mexican Turbos.

After buying alot of mexican turbos it wasn't quick enough for me. So I gave "Rock Cooking" a try. Ask SeanT-Sean for his link.

If you don't mine me asking did you first see it on a Frag Plug?


Here is a good article.

http://www.marineland.com/seascope/ss2003_issue3.pdf



OLD pictures before I knew how to use the camera It got much worse it was carpets like your tank.














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Old 01/08/2006, 09:35 AM   #6
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I would get 8-10 tuxedo or halloween urchins. They will moew it down in no time.


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Old 01/08/2006, 11:05 AM   #7
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forgot about them urchins! yeah they'll munch too!


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Old 01/08/2006, 11:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by bluenassarius
forgot about them urchins! yeah they'll munch too!
Can you elaborate on this??????


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Old 01/08/2006, 12:16 PM   #9
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All:

Thanks for responding... Another example of the true value of Reef Central to help serious hobbiests..... Based on what I am hearing I will try the following:

1. Order about 50 Mexican Turbo Snails
2. Order some Tuxedo Urchins
3. Empty out my refugium and turn off lights. This will leave my refugium with an 8 inch DSB and no macro Algae. I'll put macro algae back after tank clears up.
4. Turn off all lights in my Display Tank until this Red Hair Algae goes away.
5. Move corals to my old 90 gallon (if needed) with old MH lighting to keep them alive.
6. Blow off LR once a week with powerheads. I'm running 4 Tunze 6200s and have Oceans Motions 8 way closed loop system installed in display tank. This should help clean any die-off due to turning off my lights.
7. Hand Pick any algae off LR as needed.

Acronom: I don't know where this came from. Did not notice any Red Hair Algae on any Frags coming into the tank. My LFS speculates that spores might have been introduced when I added base rock to the tank.... But very honestly I don't know where this stuff came from. The tank is 36 inches tall and I had planned to grow mostly SPS and hard corals. As a result I put in 6 400 Watt HQI lighting..... Certainly more light than needed to cultivate the Red Cotton Nightmare.....


Thanks again for the suggestions and help.... I will update the thread with results either way so that others may avoid this issue and benefit from the experience.....

One more thought: Has anyone tried Hyposalinity as an option to kill this stuff off? Bringing down salinity to 1.009 will not harm the fish but may kill the algae? Any opinions on this?

UPdates will follow........






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Old 01/08/2006, 01:09 PM   #10
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I'm following this thread. Please start giving us updates. A documented battle plan can help everyone.

Maybe play around with different Alk levels?


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Old 01/08/2006, 02:51 PM   #11
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dgasmd,

this local LFS always puts urchin's in the tank where they keep their macro algae. i have no idea why they do this bc the urchin finishes the majority of the algae within a week or so. after it's done w/ the macro algae buffet ... there is a little left on the rocks. this urchin is munching down several types of macro algae so it's definitely worth giving it a shot to clean up that tank.
please keep us updated on your results in removing this algae. this cotton algae doesn't look like it uses roots to anchor itself into the rock. there would be difficulty in removing it if it has already set its roots into the rock.


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Old 01/08/2006, 05:07 PM   #12
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Which type of urchins?


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Old 01/08/2006, 06:19 PM   #13
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I used a foxface to eat mine. It got so good at it, that I'd deliberatly put any algae like this that I found into his tank for him to eat. The next morning it would all be gone. Love him!


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Old 01/08/2006, 06:19 PM   #14
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Get either some tuxedo urchins (Mespilia globulus) or some halloween urchins (Tripneustes gratilla).


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Old 01/08/2006, 06:21 PM   #15
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Try looking up Asparagopsis sp. I believe your red cotton alga is the sporophyte of this species. A good link was posted above. Before purchasing an army of grazers you may want to try to test and reduce the nutrients in your aquarium. Do you have a good skimmer? Also, why are you removing the macroalgae from your 'fuge? You will be taking the competitor algae away so the Asparagopsis will have more nutrients available to it. I would encourage you to promote growth of algae in your 'fuge. If you get grazers specific to asparagopsis then once they eat it all and convert it to their waste, some other sort of alga which they don't eat may be selected for.


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Old 01/08/2006, 08:03 PM   #16
clomon
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i had it once and the best thing i have found is phosphate buster pro it starves the stuff of its food phosphate's and dies but you will then need to clean it up with a cleanup crew . i just got done with it about a month ago hear is a like to the product. http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...pc=1&N=0&Nty=1


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Old 01/09/2006, 12:16 AM   #17
eleodes
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i had that stuff pretty bad and i actually found mechanical removal to work pretty well. it is near impossible to grap pieces without having little fragments float away, but if you pull it out or use a toothbrush with a siphon nearby you can get almost all of it.

that's a lot of siphoning of course, so run the hose into a sock so that you can recover the water.

my params were also bad to begin with. i think that i probably had high PO4 and i know that i wasn't maintaining hardness or pH very well.


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Old 01/09/2006, 01:05 AM   #18
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i thought of one more thing. it really seems to like detritus accumulations--roots into it--so you might try to up your water circulation too.


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Old 01/09/2006, 01:00 PM   #19
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Quote:
One more thought: Has anyone tried Hyposalinity as an option to kill this stuff off? Bringing down salinity to 1.009 will not harm the fish but may kill the algae? Any opinions on this?

UPdates will follow........



Actually hypersalinty would work better. I have a spare 55 gallon tank that I neglected so much so that the salinity rose to 40. Durning this time coraline algae went wild and my bad case of hair algae declined.

Now I wouldn't suggest raising salinty that high but I do recommend keeping it at the high end. Also keep up the alk and calc levels along with pH.


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Old 01/11/2006, 07:15 PM   #20
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Asparagopsis is a tough one, sorry. You may find a grazer (Diadema?) but IMO it won't graze Asparagopsis preferentially. IME, competetive control from an optimized vegetative filter and manual removal can be an effective, long-term control for Asparagopsis. A combination of scrapping (Diadema urchin) and rasping (Combtooth tang) grazers helps prevent Asparagopis and other detritus-trapping algae from gaining a foothold on rock once they are reasonably controlled.

I don't know if Asparagopsis survives solely by advection, or if nutrients from the substrate or trapped detritus play a significant role in its growth. Its possible that Asparagopsis gets some nutrients from the sand or rock it grows over. Also, IMO Asparagopsis probably gets some nutrients from trapping detritus in its fine filaments. While manual removal no doubt sends small fragments all over the tank, once its well-establish IMO there is no reason not to manually remove it as frequently as you can.

In competetive control you offer a preferential environment for uptake in a vegetative filter - which means better water circulation and higher intensity light in the filter than in the tank. Even then, its a slow fight, IME. There may be other methods of control for Asparagopsis that work better than this, but this has been my main means of control for display tank algae, including Asparagopsis.

If you can tolerate a Diadema urchin in you tank, a combination of a Diadema urchin and a combtooth tang has worked best for me for general algae control. Diadema grazes the rock very hard, down to bare white carbonate. Combtooths like Koles then will work over the bare rock, rasping away detritus and new growths of algae. Eventually the rock does start to accumulate algae the Kole tang won't remove, but sooner or later the Diadema passes over that area again, scrapping it back down to bare bone. Diadema aren't entirely benign, I've had them start sampling coral as they get large and even had one occurence where a Diadema trapped a small sleeping fish and was eating it. They also knock off any small object that isn't solidly secured to the rock, and they grow large very fast. But, one heck of a grazer.

I don't have a reference or experience that boosting carbonate alk, hyposalinity, or hypersalintiy are effective for Asparagopsis. It doesn't mean that one of them isn't effective. Boosting carbonate alk may help slow down non-calcified algae by shifting production to calcified algae like coralines and Halimeda.


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Old 01/11/2006, 08:42 PM   #21
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Thanks for the responses.....

Yesterday I picked up 22 Mexican Turbo Snails. They definetly eat this stuff up. However, based on the amount of Asparagopsis in the tank relying on the Turbos alone will be futile. Since the snails are eating so well I ordered about 70 more and also placed an order for the tuxedo urchins (Mespilia globulus) and halloween urchins (Tripneustes gratilla)

KMK2307 I agree with the advise on the refugium. For now I'll leave the fuge alone.... however, the fuge is also pretty over-run with this stuff. I did notice that not harvesting the macro-algae may make it harder for the Asparagopsis to grow.... So for now I will try to let the macro algae in the fuge take over the problem algae. By the way, I'm using a MTC 3000 skimmer..... so there is plenty of good skimming going on.....

Since posting this thread I have kept the lights out except for 2 hours/day. Also, for the record my water parameters are perfect with:

Nitrate 0
Phosphate 0
SG 1.024
PH 8.24
ORP 368 mv (Octopus Controller)

I will be cleaning out the tank again this weekend and will post status and pictures....

I must say not any change to date..... This one will take a long time.....

Thanks again and suggestions are welcome......


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Old 01/11/2006, 08:55 PM   #22
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mmgm

I'm very happy to hear you tried the Real Mexican Turbos. I wouldn't stear you wrong. I feel your situation on a personal level.

There was even less amount of information out when I was battling this problem.

Please continue the updates since this information will help other reefers with this Rare Algae IMO.

Methods to deal with it are few and far between.

I tried many Reef cleaner packages and then finally got it I think with that article I posted.


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Old 01/11/2006, 10:28 PM   #23
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Thanks for the support acronom and RC.

I'm sure many of you can appreciate this situation where you spend over a year working to set up a large system only to end up encountering an issue like this one. Especially since I took my time, did everything by the book and still ended up with an issue.....

What puzzles me was how this stuff got into the tank to begin with. My LFS suggested that since I used a lot of Base Rock the Red Hair Algae took over before corraline algae had time to form. Corraline Algae actually prevents/deters problem algaes from growing on surfaces that already have corraline growing. Does anyone know of any scientific studies to support this?

If this is true then people considering using base rock in their tanks should be careful to avoid problem algae forming on the base rock before corraline has a chance to form. I wonder if anyone else using Base Rock to establish their tank have encountered similar Red Algae problems.....

Any sinmilar experiences out there?

Updates to follow.....


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Old 01/11/2006, 10:40 PM   #24
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This is the first thread I've noticed where this algae has been brought up. I thought I was alone (and was so depressed about the condition of my tank I didn't even want to photograph it.

At this point I'm losing zoanthid colonies, GSP colonies, monti caps and a couple of branching SPS to this plague and my plan currently involves a teardown and scrubbings with more 'control' grazers in the new smaller tank. When I first noticed this algae I had just gotten rid of my last Turbo (it was a bulldozer and this could have come in after the Turbo was gone anyway). I've been using manual removal and siphoning for the past couple months and have also added a Diadema urchin (which has only eaten this stuff by accident while chasing coralline algae). The siphon works well and the infested colonies seem to return to life with vigor for a few days after the harvesting, but the red fuzz just grows to fast for me to keep up with it.

I think the worst part for me is that I was excited the first time I saw this algae. It is pretty in small amounts. By the time I saw it as a problem-algae it was too late and I was fighting it, bryopsis and the brown-irredescent-super-thin algae that I think starts with a "D" but I can never remember. Beat the "D" algae nearly completely, made good headway with the bryopsis for a time, but the red just doesn't give up.

I don't remember now if this was mentioned above, but Magnesium dosing has been suggested to me locally as a control by someone else who has had this algae in small amounts.

My tank is only a 75g and it's breaking my heart, can't imagine a 750 being overrun with this stuff... it's just too much.

From my tank in August:


From my tank (same area) in December"


Another area - formerly zoanthids:



Good luck in your battle.


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Old 01/12/2006, 07:19 PM   #25
eleodes
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yep. this is bad stuff. i had the same experience thinking it was kind of cute in small amounts.

i have a seaweed tank and i introduced some of this (it was unavoidable, i had it all over everything) from an older system. i got my seaweeds growing really well and they have clearly outcompeted this algae: the little tufts that were in there have just been getting smaller and smaller and i can hardly find them anymore.

your seaweed-dedicated refugium should help to knock this stuff down. you might try to do whatever you can to encourage the weeds. i have been dosing nitrate (Flourish Nitrogen) and keeping it at ~5mg/l.



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