Is this algae? Or a toxin permeating the water? Help!

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#1
Hi, Im new to this forum. Im here because a year into running a saltwater aquarium without issues, a significant issue has arisen- cloudy green / white water. It has been this way for 3 weeks. At the bottom of the tank, the water is lime green, and fades into a cloudy white gradient as you get closer to the surface of the water. I have heard of the "pea soup" condition regarding a certain type of algae, but this issue is slightly different in that the cloudiness turns white towards the surface...and has not been resolved by doing a week long "blackout", nor has it been resolved with the running of my phosban reactor and the addition of a product that specializes in absorbing nitrates and certain types of algae (" All Gone"). I can't see my fish, and can't seem to figure out what this algae is and how to get rid of it ! And I'm also afraid of another possibility- that the cloudiness is a result of my boxfish releasing poison due to stress.

Additionally, I have noticed the growth of an unidentifiable white, fuzzy algae in my refugium that seems to have appeared at the exact same time as the green, cloudy water.

Here are the tanks stats:
-150 gallons
-All water conditions (nitrate, nitrite, GH, kh, phosphates, etc) are 0 or very close to 0.
-running a protein skimmer, phosban reactor, carbon bags, crushed coral, nitrate filter, purafilter, 10 lbs of live rock
-copepods and other small creatures including feeder shrimp
-Inhabitants: (all are young and tiny except for the Tang, who has grown to be enormous in just 6 months): 3 tomato clowns, 1 cowfish (boxfish), 1 Mata Tang, 1 royal gramma, 1 blue damsel, 1 rusty angelfish, 1 pajama cardinal, 6 clams, 1 chocolate chip starfish.

Sorry for the blurry picture, but no matter what the lighting is like all you can see is the green tint of the water and the rest of my house reflected on the glass. (And poor Mata...)


Suggestions would be wonderful. Thank you :)
 

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beth

Administrator
Staff member
#2
Crushed coral is a bad choice for substrate and it would be advisable to remove it, but it would not cause this problem. Is the tank near a window? What are you using to circulate water in the aquarium?
 
#3
Crushed coral is a bad choice for substrate and it would be advisable to remove it, but it would not cause this problem. Is the tank near a window? What are you using to circulate water in the aquarium?
The tank is opposite of 2 windows in my living room. As for circulation, I have 2 powerheads running currently.
 

2quills

Administrator
Staff member
#4
I'm leaning towards a bacteria bloom.

Got a pic of the white stuff? Could be bacteria, fungus, algae or sponge.
 
#5
I'm leaning towards a bacteria bloom.

Got a pic of the white stuff? Could be bacteria, fungus, algae or sponge.
I have attached a photo of the white stuff in my refugium. It has clung to the bag you see floating in there as well as the walls, and some of it is actually floating on top of the water. Every time I clean it out, it reappears within a day.
 

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2quills

Administrator
Staff member
#6
Seems more and more like bacteria to me. Especially if killing the lights had no effect.

Do you use scented decor in your house? Scented candles, plug in oil burners etc. or anything like that? Any fires in or around your area happen lately?
 
#7
Seems more and more like bacteria to me. Especially if killing the lights had no effect.

Do you use scented decor in your house? Scented candles, plug in oil burners etc. or anything like that? Any fires in or around your area happen lately?
I'll be honest, I haven't done much research on issues with bacteria in the water because I didn't think of it being a possibility to begin with. I may as well start looking up bacterial issues related to aquariums, then...

I don't use any scented products, and any house cleaning products I use are always way out of the range of my aquariums. There have been no fires or anything else that would produce smoke/vapor near or in my home.

I find this issue especially odd because I'm running 4 other tanks in the same room (3 freshwater, 2 saltwater total) and this tank is the only one with this problem. Every other tank is pristine. And like I said, every measurable water level in the affected tank is perfect.. so I can't seem to figure out how this is happening. I noticed that the color actually turned a bit darker after I did a 30% water change with RODI water.. and I did several measurements on that water, all of which came back normal, before I even did the water change to begin with. Not to mention the fact that I use the same exact RODI water for all of my other tanks..and again, they're perfectly fine. I suspected the salt I mix into the water for a while, but I've done tons of research on it and nobody has reported having any issues like mine as a result of using it.

I'm truly just worried that whatever is going on is actively harming my fish... They're all acting normal, eating normally, and none of them are exhibiting any outward signs of illness or otherwise.. But gosh, I wish this little aquarium nightmare would end already. There's not much else I can think of doing and I would assume that it's somewhat annoying for fish to live in perpetually murky water. :(
 

2quills

Administrator
Staff member
#8
There must be fuel there somewhere.

Usually a sudden increase in ammonia or the build up of organics over time reaching a tipping point.

Test kits aren't always a reliable indicator. Often times bacteria or algae is consuming the nutrients as quickly as they're being converted and sometimes can lead to a false low reading.

Often time this goes away on its own as the system re balances. Something tipped it off though.
 
#9
There must be fuel there somewhere.

Usually a sudden increase in ammonia or the build up of organics over time reaching a tipping point.

Test kits aren't always a reliable indicator. Often times bacteria or algae is consuming the nutrients as quickly as they're being converted and sometimes can lead to a false low reading.

Often time this goes away on its own as the system re balances. Something tipped it off though.
I can't imagine what... I vacuum the sand and sift through it on a weekly basis to remove any extra food or other organic waste. My protein skimmer seems to be working beautifully, and I also clean that on a weekly basis. I have tons of cleaner snails who do an excellent job of cleaning up anything I miss. The water flow seems adequate, and none of my pets have died recently for there to be a spike in the ammonia levels. I had issues with red algae / cyanobacteria a few months ago because a caretaker neglected the tank while I was gone, but that was easily solved with the combination of a simple algae removing product and daily vacuuming. I made sure to balance out the nitrate levels after that, and to date everything is back to normal. It hasn't appeared since then... and yet, this new problem has persisted with ease.

I will continue to do weekly water changes and hope this resolves itself on it's own. I don't want to keep playing around with the chemistry of the tank "guess and check" style because I don't want to further harm the already fragile ecosystem, so I wont be adding any other products that target algae etc. Thank you for your advice.
 

2quills

Administrator
Staff member
#10
No problem.

Just out of curiosity did you have a lot of algae in the system already? And we're you using the algae removal product before the cloudiness occurred or only after?

If there is ever a sudden or drastic reduction in algae in the systemthen it would leave a vacuum for something else to take its place and feed on the excess nutrients. Bacteria for instance.
 

lmforbis

Administrator
Staff member
#11
Are you doing any kind of carbon dosing, vodka, vinegar, bio pellets?

I have read that UV sterilizer scan help this kind of break out. I'd be worried about the impact the organisms that die have on the system. Might be worth checking into if it persiststs.
 

beth

Administrator
Staff member
#12
I can't imagine what... I vacuum the sand and sift through it on a weekly basis to remove any extra food or other organic waste.
This could well be your problem. Generally, you need to leave the sandbed alone since it functions as a bio-filter. The top layers shouldn't really be vacuumed by you. If you need a cleanup crew for the sandbed, I recommend adding in sandbed creatures such as nassarius snails, 1 small conch, etc. No crabs! You really shouldn't be having food waste floating to the bottom left unconsumed. If that is happening then you are feeding your fish too much. I'd suggest smaller multiple feedings until you get the routine down so that little food is going to waste and requiring cleaning. Cleanup sandbed creatures will go along way with assisting here and if you cultivate your sandbed well, they should do much of the "cleaning" for you. You did use sand to set up the substrate, right?

Also what are you using to circulate water? There should be a nice movement of water occurring throughout every inch of the aquaria.

Have you tried using a Alcone?
http://www.algone.com/green-aquarium-water

This is more likely a planktonic bloom, I think, because its green, not milk cloudy. Try addressing it by refraining from stirring up your sandbed and making sure you have good detrivore cleanup organisms in your sandbed. Add additional circulation if you are not getting water movement throughout, and try the water clarifier. Give it a few weeks and if you still have the issue, you could try UV sterilizer which should kill it off. However, I would not recommend using UV all the time, but only as needed.
 
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