Algae I Didn’t Know Was There!

Today (Sunday) is maintenance day when closer attention is given to the aquarium. During the week it is feeding and when needed a manual water top up. Anyway, as said, maintenance.

Maintenance was carried out as usual without any problems. I noticed a coral (a toadstool) was loose and breaking away from its anchor point. So when the partial seawater change had been completed – the last task in the maintenance – I turned my attention to the coral.

It was simple removing it from the rock. The reason it had become loose was because new corals were growing from it and the new ones used the same anchor point. This meant that the seawater currents had more to affect causing more of a strain. I got out a cocktail stick and positioned the coral in a location where it could spread more easily though still in the same area.

As I bent to complete the re-positioning I noted a group of new toadstools that were growing. Great! Then I noticed at the rear of the aquarium on the rockwork some algae commonly called ‘sailor’s eyeballs’. The proper name for these is Ventricaria ventricosa. These are thought to be maybe the largest single-celled organism on the planet. Each cell is filled with carbon monoxide, a toxic gas* – this doesn’t normally cause trouble though. The cells are also filled with a large number of spores. After sufficient growth the cell bursts and these spores are released – not wanted!

I wasn’t alarmed as I have dealt with these little perishers on and off for a long time. They are quite attractive really, but it is the extent they can spread that is the problem. It was when I noticed the spread that immediate action was required; there must have been 100 or more of them growing. I hadn’t noticed them until I had to lean over the aquarium at an unusual angle to fix the coral.

So off I went to get my very sophisticated anti-blob kit – a length of silicone airline fastened to a short length of rigid airline. After emptying the old seawater from the bucket I commenced siphoning. The algae are destroyed one by one by pressing the end of the rigid airline on them until they burst. Any spores are hopefully drawn into the siphon tube by the seawater flow. This destruction process becomes more efficient with practice. I can achieve quite a speed as, as said, I have been having small skirmishes with them for a long time. It took about ten to fifteen minutes and the job was done.

They will be back of course as there isn’t a way that all of them will be removed, there are so many nooks and crannies in a reef aquarium. The majority will have been destroyed though.

The event reminded me to check from time to time areas of the aquarium that are hidden from a normal viewing angle.

What a shame it is a nuisance though. The appearance of the algae is said to be a good sign as it will only prosper in excellent seawater conditions*, that is, seawater lacking in phosphate and nitrate. Also, as stated, it is quite decorative.

Below is a link to enable identification of the algae. The images can be clicked on to enlarge them.

(Reference: Baench Marine Atlas. Helmut Debelius & Hans A. Baensch)

  1. question… how do i stop brown algae from growing in my tank?
    thanks for your help.

  2. Hi.

    Very often ‘brown’ algae is more a golden brown colour and is in fact diatoms. These depend on a supply of silicate and when this is not available the diatoms go. Silicate can be supplied in tapwater – whenever a seawater change is done using a mix using tapwater a fresh supply of silicate becomes available. Using an RO (reverse osmosis) unit will remove silicate from the tapwater and any other undesirables.

    If it is in fact brown algae then lighting and nutrients need to be checked. Are the lighting bulbs/tubes used old and needing replacement? Is there a highish presence of nitrate and/or phosphate?

    Johns last blog post..A Good Reference For Automatic Calculations

  3. i would like your advice on what to get first to start up our tank should i get the liverock first or should i put in the dsb thanks

  4. Hi.

    I would put the live rock in first as this is your main bio-filtration. The DSB can be constructed after.

    Johns last blog post..Sponges

  5. thanks for your advice

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