Algae Control Tips

INSTALL A PROTEIN SKIMMER. DOC is not one but many different compounds. Methods to reduce DOC include the use of protein skimmers, activated carbon, chemical resins, and ozonization. Removal of DOC by means of a protein skimmer is one of the simplest techniques. Besides removing DOC, protein skimmers lower the concentration of carbon dioxide in the water. The protein skimmer also lowers the concentration of nitrate (see below) indirectly, because the DOC would eventually be decomposed into nitrate by bacteria if it were allowed to remain in the tank. Unlike other forms of filtration, protein skimming physically removes the pollutants from contact with the water. Using activated carbon or chemical adsorption media does trap DOC, but water continues to flow over these media, and bacteria growing in them decompose the DOC, returning pollutants to the tank. Step one, then, in any plan to prevent algae from taking over, is to install a protein skimmer — and make sure it gets periodic maintenance. REDUCE NITRATE. Limiting the concentration of nitrate is not as simple as installing a piece of equipment. Nitrate accumulates in the aquarium as the end product of biological filtration. Roughly 90% of the nitrogen in foods added to the tank winds up as nitrate in the water. Regular partial water changes are one means of controlling nitrate.

The amount and frequency of water changes will depend on the particular circumstances of each individual aquarium. Thus, one should perform a nitrate test weekly and change water when the concentration of nitrate ion rises above a predetermined level, depending upon the circumstances of the individual aquarium.

LIMIT SILICATE. Silicate (Si02"), is essential for the development of the golden-brown films that spread across the glass, substrate, and decorations: diatoms. Under the microscope, the glass cases that these algae create for themselves are beautiful, but a massive diatom bloom in an aquarium is not so aesthetically pleasing. Silicate enters the aquarium most often in tap water. To eliminate it, the only satisfactory solution is to use reverse osmosis (RO) water, not tap water. Fortunately, diatom blooms may be shortlived, as other algae compete and as the diatoms exhaust the supply of silicate. Using tap water for water changes, however, will replenish silica, and the diatoms will return. EXPERIMENT lAIITH LIGHTING. As one might expect, light also plays a role in algae growth in the aquarium. The sudden appearance of a "bloom" of diatoms, red slime algae, or blue-green slime algae is often indicative of the need to correct the aquarium's lighting. As lamps age, for example, their intensity diminishes and their spectral output changes, and this may trigger a growth of undesirable algae. The type of lamp can also strongly influence the development of an algae bloom. Proper selection of a lighting system depends upon the size and shape of the aquarium and the kinds of organisms that will live in the tank. The relationship between light and marine life is complicated and poorly understood, however, so experimentation with different lighting systems may be necessary to eliminate a particular algae problem.

CHECK CARRON DIOXIDE. Algae need carbon dioxide in order to grow. Aquarists rarely think about carbon dioxide, but it is often a source of problems. One of the basic

Chapter Five 137

Brown Slime Algae

Chemical media choices are many, including activated carbon and other formula te) use one of the commercially available siphon hoses that come with an elongated funnel on the intake end, permitting fine, lightweight detritus to be siphoned out without also removing sand or gravel from the substrate. Purchase a plastic turkey baster and use it to direct a gentle stream of water to dislodge debris that may accumulate in crannies and crevices. Be especially careful to remove debris that has settled on sedentary invertebrates. Using a power-head to direct a vigorous stream of water to dislodge debris is another tions to scavenge dissolved organics, phosphates, and copper from system water. satisfactory technique. These occasional disruptions mimic what happens in nat-

causes of carbon dioxide accumulation is low output from ural environments when a storm occurs. A small accumu-pumps or powerheads. This can occur because too small a lation of detritus is not harmful, so one need not be overly unit was chosen or because the pump has slowed down due meticulous about removing such accumulations, to age or lack of maintenance. Vigorous water movement ADD HERBIVORES. Many species of marine life feed is characteristic of most marine environments and is im- on algae, and some of these should be in every aquarium, portant in the aquarium to prevent carbon dioxide buildup. Tangs, angelfishes, some blennies, rabbitfishes, sea urchins, Check the pH and alkalinity of the tank regularly. If either hermit crabs, and many kinds of snails are in this category, is chronically below normal, check to see if carbon dioxide is These species will benefit from being able to graze on al-accumulating in the aquarium. This can be done simply. Re- gae growth and will keep the aquarium from looking "over-move a half-gallon sample of water from the tank and aerate grown." Some of these species are suited to smaller tanks, it vigorously overnight. After 24 hours of aeration, check the while others are more appropriate for large tanks with pH of the sample. Check the pH of the tank at the same many fishes. Still others are most useful in "blue water" time. Compare the two readings. If the pH of the tank is reef tanks, more than 0.2 pH units below that of the aerated sample, the tank is probably accumulating carbon dioxide. Correct- In summary, undesirable microalgae growth in ing the problem will greatly reduce algae growth and is es- the aquarium can be controlled by: using live rock rather than dead materials; using a protein skimmer; taking mea-

sential for fish and invertebrate health.

CLEAN THE FILTER SYSTEM. Accumulations of de- sures to keep nitrates, phosphate, silicate, and DOC to a tritus may contain very high nutrient concentrations. minimum; preventing the accumulation of carbon dioxide; Siphon detritus from the entire system every week. I like removing detritus regularly; and adding herbivorous or-

138 Natural Reef Aquariums ganisms to the aquarium. Algae are found everywhere one looks on a natural reef and will always be present in marine aquariums. No one would deny that in the aquarium, as in nature, the presence of algae is important to maintain a high level of biodiversity. Excessive algae growth, however, is neither natural nor desirable.

The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The word aquarium originates from the ancient Latin language, aqua meaning water and the suffix rium meaning place or building. Aquariums are beautiful and look good anywhere! Home aquariums are becoming more and more popular, it is a hobby that many people are flocking too and fish shops are on the rise. Fish are generally easy to keep although do they need quite a bit of attention. Puppies and kittens were the typical pet but now fish are becoming more and more frequent in house holds. In recent years fish shops have noticed a great increase in the rise of people wanting to purchase aquariums and fish, the boom has been great for local shops as the fish industry hasnt been such a great industry before now.

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