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By Bob Goemans
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Bob Goemans corresponds with Sharon Moore (Diamondhead, MI)

Sharon Moore (Diamondhead, MI) writes...

Dear Mr. Goemans,

Remember (as if you can with all the letters you get) when I wrote about

a rock that seemed to have a black sponge growing in it, it took over the rock, but did not cover the one mushroom on it. It was spongy and felt like velvet with a few holes on it, which would spew out dirt and stuff when touched. I have also noticed that some of my snails started getting black on their shell, and it felt like velvet. I got rid of that sponge (or whatever) but I noticed some other places it was still on, and now all my rocks are covered with it and it has covered all my coralline algae also. It covers anything that does not have an animal on it, but will cover its skeleton material. It has also covered my powerheads and if you scrape some off and smoosh it, it has some brown in it. It will not come off unless you scrape it with a knife and it reminds me of tar. Even the shell of my clam is covered. I cannot even imagine what it is but it has covered all hard surfaces.

But it does not seem to affect the health of my corals. I have an aquarium store that I trade with, but can't now because I feel what ever this is will contaminate their tanks. Do you have any idea what it is?

Sharon Moore

Diamondhead, MI

Bob replies...

Hi Sharon,

From what you say, I'm thinking the problem to be cyanobacteria, which can spread quite fast. It's dark reddish to black slime-like/sponge-like alga depending on its form and comes about when aquariums are high in organic content. Suggest getting a product called Chemi-Clean, by Boyd Products as quickly as possible. Use as directed. It should/may solve the problem.

If this cures the problem, in the future, increase the water currents in the aquarium, pay special attention to what foods are fed and how much, as any access feeds this alga/bacteria. And vacuum the sandbed monthly, as a clean aquarium helps prevent this nuisance alga. And thereafter, once clean, add one tablespoon of 'BROWN' sugar to your 150 gallon aquarium monthly, as that helps prevent/limit these growths.

Hope this helps,

Bob

Sharon Moore (Diamondhead, MI) writes...

Hi Bob,

Received your reply and I am glad to know what I am fighting. Not glad to have it, but at least you gave me some hope on getting rid of it. You mentioned what foods I fed. I am going to give you a list and if there is something I should eliminate or change please tell me.

I feed 2 times a week. Omega pellets and flakes (just enough for them to finish in reasonable time and also place some Vita-Chem in the container the foods are mixed in. Also use a small mount of Coral Frenzy, Zoplan and Phytoplan for the corals. I also use three tablespoons of DT's and Marine Snow. Real cooked shrimp is also used for my Bubble and Elegance coral, and also to feed my shrimp and fish. I do not have a lot of fish in the tank, 12 all total in a 150 gal tank and just a few corals. As for chemicals, used twice a week - Reef Complete three tablespoons, Reef Plus 1½ tablespoons, calcium and Purple-Up the same amount. Used once a week - Iodine 1/4 teaspoon, and 1½ tablespoons of Coral Vital, Live Sand Booster, Bacter Boost, Reef Vital DNA and CombiSan.

Am I using too many chemicals or just continue on with what I am doing? My corals are growing, but if you have better ideas, please advise. I really appreciated all your advice. I would honestly have to say you're my bible to a good aquarium.

Sincerely,

Sharon

Bob replies...

Hi Sharon,

Often, much of the food fed 'corals' goes to waste, and that waste is what helps feed cyanobacteria. This is not to say feeding some corals is not helpful, but suggest reducing the amounts used, carefully targeting the corals fed, and reducing the schedule fed to once a month, at least for a while until this problem is corrected. As for the chemicals, I would review their individual purpose/amounts, and especially reduce the iodine used to a couple of drops every other day.

Some people have a cell phone with a camera, others have a digital camera, and are able to photo their problems and send low quality photos with their email. It would be quite helpful if you were able to do that! If not, maybe a friend could help.

Bob

Sharon Moore (Diamondhead, MI) writes...

Dear Bob,

Let me bring you up to date on the progress of my tank (not good) and also have attached many cell phone photos, about 27 of them. I have used Chemi-Clean and followed the directions with no progress in sight. Have applied it three times and waited the 48 hrs before changing the water, and today I am on my 2nd vacuuming of the aquarium. After the first vacuuming I had a sandbed that looked like I had just started the aquarium. I have also made one 8 gallon water change every week since I began trying to clean up this tank. I have green (hard and bright green) algae attaching to the glass and it takes a razor blade to get it off.

The black you see in some of the photos is exactly what this algae/sponge stuff looks like and it quickly coats any coral skeleton material if I put a new one in the tank. It feels spongy, so I pulled bunch of it out and it feels like velvet. It seems to have started from a small rock, not attached to any other, but it had a small black, velvety I think sponge on it.

Thank you again.

Sharon

Bob replies...

Hi Sharon,

Thanks for the follow-up mail and cyanobacteria is usually, in fact about 99.9 percent of the time, the problem being describe when aquariums are having fast blooming dark soft coverings of matter on their rocks/substrates. BUT, since Chemi-Clean did not dent the problem, 'and' I now have 'many' photos of your aquarium, am convinced you have an encrusting alga called “Chestnut alga,” which is a Peysonnelia species in the Family Squamariaceae.

When it comes to reducing the amount of this sometimes troublesome alga, I'm not clear on just what filtration methods are in use, but suggest the following to reduce the organics (which are no doubt high in your aquarium because of the all the foods fed/products used), something that is thought to help propagate this alga. First if not using a canister filter, suggest using one with activated carbon (I use ESV brand) and Poly-Filters, and a phosphate removing media such as ROWAphos. It works for me and only change all the media when my tests begin to show a slight phosphate reading.

To greatly reduce the organics, I suggest possibly purchasing the Red Sea AquaZone 'Plus' 200 mg/hr ozonizer. If you live in a high humid area, you may also want their air dryer and ozone safe tubing. Once up and running set the controller for 380. It's important to research how to use and dispense ozone (if you decide to go this road, contact me and I'll explain the details), but once being used the organic content in the aquarium will be effectively reduced.

Otherwise, remove by hand what can be easily reached and go the above roads and lets see where it leads, as sometimes these growths run out of nutrients and naturally begin to dissipate. But until that time, it can be frustrating!

Hope this helps,

Bob

Keywords:

Algae Identification; Algae Control

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