You should not have a problem with algae if you have followed these recommendations:

  • Purify your tap water with a triple carbon prefilter and reverse osmosis or deionizer system;
  • Use Kalkwasser regularly to keep the pH between 8.2 and 8.4;
  • Do water changes every 2 to 3 weeks;
  • With water changes, vacuum off as much as possible of the debris in the rock crevices;
  • Change your prefilter pad every week;
  • Have the lighting on for no more than 9 hours a day, using the wattage recommended
  • Do not use unnecessary additives
  • Employ herbivorous livestock (turbo snails, small hermit crabs, hard star fish, and algae-eating fish such as yellow tangs, blennies, angels, etc.).

By following the recommendations here, you should be able to manage the micro-algae in your tank. These procedures will ensure that your reef will not be overtaken by green, brown, or red algae that would cover desirable livestock and organisms (such as the hard pink coralline algae) that depend on water flow and light.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of following all the previous recommendations, as they will ensure that the undesirable algae do not have the conditions they need to survive, and undesirable algae are the scourge of reef keeping. Follow the suggested procedures, and the algae should be manageable!

Micro-algae will grow!

The growth of micro-algae is a natural occurrence and will happen in most healthy tanks. It is only when the algae become unmanageable that we have a problem. Managing the growth of micro-algae means (1) limiting the conditions they need to thrive, (2) having livestock that will eat most of the algae, and (3) removing the remainder by hand with magnets, blade scrapers, and brushes.

In my tanks, brown and some green algae form on the glass on a regular basis. They do not thrive for long in other areas; they are only a problem on the glass and overflow pipes.

The glass is easily cleaned with an algae glass-cleaning magnet. When buying such a magnet, purchase the largest one you can find. Usually the larger the size, the stronger the magnet and the better the cleaning capabilities (pull) it will have. The magnet does a nice job for weekly or twice-weekly cleaning. Little bright green patches will eventually form. These should be scraped off with a razor blade. You should only have to “blade” the glass about once a month at the most.

WHY REEF STORES DO NOT HAVE AN ALGAE PROBLEM

Keep in mind that algae will grow and will have to be removed by hand on a regular basis. Do not be deceived when you go into your favorite reef store and observe that their tanks have no visible algae. You may think, “My tank has algae, why doesn’t his?” The fact is that every morning someone cleans the glass and maintains the tanks so they will look absolutely pristine. This gives the impression that the people in the store know something about water quality that you don’t. In fact, all they are doing is daily maintenance, in addition to the procedures listed above.

Then of course, the remaining algae will be removed by hand, particularly from the glass and overflow pipes. By using a strong magnet or a razor blade for the glass, and a bottle brush for the overflow, it is not a problem to remove undesirable algae.

It is important to remember that we want to remove the algae, not just dislodge it. When using the magnet, after a few swipes you will feel the scrubber part of the magnet cleaner getting full of algae. Take this to the sink and rinse it off. Resume cleaning and repeat the rinsing process as often as needed. Rinse the scrubber when you are done. When using the bottle brush, swirl it to trap the algae in the bristles, and rinse it out in the sink.

A strong algae magnet and bottle brush are useful tools. Some algae, of course, will get away from you. This cannot be avoided. Remove as much as you can, within reason. Algae that are dislodged and left in the tank will either reattach elsewhere, decompose into food for other algae, or get trapped in the prefilter.

Summary of algae management:

If you follow the suggestions I have given, it can be done easily. Algae accumulation can be a serious threat to the enclosed reef system. Left unmanaged, it can become a problem that would test anyone’s patience and sanity; it is not something you want to battle with! However, if you select your livestock carefully and follow the other recommendations I have discussed, the naturally-occurring algae in your tank will be a good food source for the livestock, and what they don’t eat can be managed with regular maintenance.

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