How to Control Algae in a Saltwater Aquarium
Algae is part of having an aquarium. Some of it is good, while others can become a real problem if left unchecked. To help keep your algae under control, today we will look at how to control algae in a saltwater aquarium.
Testing, Testing, 1... 2... 3...:
If you do have an out of control algae problem, the first thing you need to do to diagnose the problem is to test your water parameters. Using a specialized kit like the Red Sea Algae Control Kit is a great way to check the parameters that most directly affect algae growth. This will help you pinpoint the issue causing the algae growth and give you a game plan for solving the problem.
Lights, Phosphates, Nitrates:
Lights are essential to a saltwater aquarium, especially if you have a reef tank. To keep algae from getting out of control, make sure your lights have a reasonable photo period. Enough time to provide the light needed by corals and inverts, but not so long as to encourage excess algae growth. Phosphates can be controlled via the use of GFO (granular ferric oxide) in a media reactor. Nitrates can be kept in check by performing regular water changes, using bio pellets in a media reactor, having a macro algae in a refugium or by using a liquid nitrate reducer such as Red Sea NO3:PO4-X, which will also treat phosphates.
Purple Coraline Algae:
You want the purple stuff growing all over your rock work, but not all over your aquarium walls. To get the coraline algae going, start with Purple Up or Purple CX, and then once growing, maintain your calcium and alkalinity levels properly. Use a scraper to keep the purple stuff off your tank walls.
Put A Clean Up Crew to Work:
Aquariums come with a whole bunch of shovel ready jobs, so put some of your livestock to work! There are many fish, snails, crabs and other animals that will eat up the algae and detritus in your tank. Sea hares are very efficient at removing unwanted algae from an aquarium. Once your clean up crew has done their job, you'll need to lay them off. Be sure to remove any excess clean up critters and either donate them to fellow hobbyists or take them back to your LFS for a store credit. If you have too much clean up crew and not enough food for them, they can die off and cause even more problems for you, which brings us to.....
Bring Out Your Dead!:
Get those dead or sick animals out of your tank. They will pollute the water and reduce the water quality of your tank, making conditions ripe for an algae outbreak to occur. Also be sure not to over feed your tank. Excess waste in the tank can also contribute to poor water quality and algae outbreaks. Which brings us to.....
Quality Whole Marine Foods:
You wouldn't fill your kids up with junky fast food, so don't feed your aquarium with poor quality food. Use quality marine foods from reputable companies such as Brightwell Aquatics and Continuum to be sure you are providing the best quality foods for your inverts and corals. For feeding fish, make sure you are buying high quality frozen preparations and you may want to thaw and rinse the food in clean RO/DI water first, then soak in a garlic, vitamin, or amino acid enrichment before feeding to your fishes.