RED SLIME!!! – Reef Tank Pest Control #3: How to Get Rid of Cyanobacteria


(upbeat music) – Hello fellow reef keepers. This is Wayland from Marine Depot and I’m here to talk to you about a common reef aquarium pest called cyanobacteria, or cyano for short. A lot of people think cyano’s a type of algae, but it’s actually
a photosynthetic bacteria. It’s slimy and often grows in sheets that can be siphoned or blown off of the rocks or substrates quite easily. It comes in different colors like red, green, or deep purple. In the ocean, there are
species of cyanobacteria that cause toxic red tides,
which can be detrimental to the entire ecosystem where they bloom. In our aquariums, the
cyanobacteria is not toxic, per se, but can have some nasty side effects. Not only is it ugly, cyano will shade and out-compete your
corals for real estate, thus blocking photosynthesis. If the conditions are right,
cyano can grow quickly and can cover any surface in your tank. Your aquarium can’t really catch cyano from another tank because it’s pretty much always around and in your tank. Cyano outbreaks are caused primarily because of elevated nutrients
and insufficient flow. These conditions then allow cyano to grow rapidly and out-compete other beneficial bacteria
and algae in your tank. Light spectrum and bacterial
balance come into play as well, but in most situations, these are only secondary contributors. Cyanobacteria feeds off the waste in your tank called detritus
and will likely grow in areas where this waste accumulates. These areas are the sandbed, live rock, and even your filtration compartments. Cyano loves dead spots in the tank where water flow is very low. So make sure you have
a high enough flow rate in your tank and that all corners of your tank have
excellent water movement. This helps to keep the detritus suspended for easy removal and prevents waste from building up in one particular area, which is how 99% of cyanobacterias arise. Wave makers like the EcoTech VorTech MP10 and the Maxspect Gyre are awesome for achieving flow patterns
that inhibit cyano growth because they move large volumes of water. High water flows help
to eliminate dead spots throughout your entire aquarium without the need of multiple pumps. You should siphon cyano
and detritus off your rocks and substrate immediately upon noticing it in your tank and then daily thereafter. If cyano has a fuel source, it will grow back almost right away. Also be sure to change
your filter media often and clean up any uneaten food
within an hour of feeding. Siphoning cyano and
detritus out of your tank will really help your efforts
to beat cyanobacteria. You’ll be removing the locked up nutrients the cyano has consumed. You’ll also be diluting your tank with clean saltwater, helping to reduce the general
waste levels in the tank. Test your nitrate and
phosphate levels regularly because these parameters
are a direct indication of your waste levels in your tank. Elevated phosphates and nitrates mean your tank is not efficiently
processing nutrients that are going into the system. You can reduce nitrate and phosphates in a variety of ways. The best option is a frequent and consistent water change schedule. Of course, proper biological filtration, along with an efficient protein skimmer, and efficient mechanical
filtration are also necessary. In situations with a heavy bio load, you might want to consider using media or chemical solutions to target and remove phosphates and nitrates. GFO or granular ferric oxide, such as AquaMaxx Phosphate Out Pro or ROWAPhos are excellent
at removing phosphates. The use of the liquid
chemical lanthanum chloride is becoming a very popular way to remove phosphates rapidly,
but it should be noted that this stuff works very quickly and you’ll have adverse effects on your tank inhabitants
if you do it too quickly and use it incorrectly. Bio pellets are are popular solution for tanks with higher nitrate levels. This system actually utilizes bacteria to remove nitrates and is a great way to combat prolific cyanobacteria problems. Natural methods of nutrient control, like refugiums or algae scrubbers, like the Clear Water
External Algae Scrubber, will help reduce harmful
nutrients as well. This natural method of nutrient control is becoming more and more prevalent in aquarium applications. It’s become more commonplace in many successful filtration systems. After addressing your nutrients and flow inside the aquarium,
nine times out of 10, you can defeat cyano in just a few weeks. However, the problem can
be so severe sometimes, so bad that you need to kill it off completely and start fresh. In these serious cases, you can
do what’s called a blackout, which means you turn off your lights and lay a blanket or tarp over the tank to block out any ambient
light for 72 hours. Cyanobacteria cannot survive
without light for this long but your fish and corals will be fine. Just keep in mind that
when the blackout is over, the cyano can bounce right back if you have not addressed
the elevated waste and water flow issues. You might also look at one of
these easy chemical remedies, such as the UltraLife Red Slime Remover or Boyd’s Chemi-Clean. These solutions help
eradicate the cyanobacteria that is growing inside your tank. UltraLife Red Slime
Remover and Chemi-Clean red slime cyanobacteria
remover are at the top of the list because they’re
safe for all fish, corals, inverts, desirable microalgae,
and nitrifying bacteria. They’re simple to
implement and fast-acting. A couple things to note
during a chemical treatment, remove carbon or similar
chemical filtration medias that can remove the medication
from your tank water. You will need to turn
off your protein skimmer, as well as your UV sterilizer and ozone generator, if you have one. It is best to also add an airstone to your system during treatment because oxygen levels
can get quickly depleted. The airstone will ensure
this does not happen. An airstone will also keep your
pH stable during treatment. Always be prepared with
extra salt water on hand because you will need to perform
a substantial water change, 24 to 48 hours after treatment. Although very rare, it is possible for cyano to grow on living coral. In this case, you can dip the coral with a coral dip like Coral RX Coral Dip. Swish and shake the coral well in the dip to remove or dislodge any cyanobacteria that is present and then rinse in a separate container of saltwater before placing it back into your tank. Your aquarium maintenance techniques will drastically affect
what happens to your tank, so unless you have a strange desire to battle any one of
these aquarium elements, don’t let your waste
levels become a problem in your tank to begin with. Something to understand
about cyanobacteria and many of the algae
problems that’ll arise in similar situations is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Be sure to check out the Marine Depot blog and education center. For articles containing more information about battling nuisance reef pests, we’ve included a few helpful links below. If you found our video helpful, subscribe to our channel
to stay up-to-date on all the latest Marine Depot videos. Thank you for watching
today, please reach out to us anytime because we’re
here to help you succeed in keeping a beautiful saltwater aquarium. (upbeat music)

15 thoughts on “RED SLIME!!! – Reef Tank Pest Control #3: How to Get Rid of Cyanobacteria

  1. What are your thoughts on putting Tangs (yellow tang) inside a 45G. I see lots of tanks having them but when i see their tank size requirements, it’s way off

  2. Just curious if you have any ideas for my tank, seem to have a thicker reddish color algae on sand bed as well as glass and rocks ( does not look like cyno I have had before but maybe it is ) and can blow it off the rocks with a turkey baster and then water changes but just comes back. testing for phosphates and nitrates and they test at or around 0, probably which is to low for a reef tank .Tank is 2 years running. I do run gfo as well as carbon..also have filter socks, which I thought of removing .also noticed corals especially the monti cap are very pale compared to what they use to be.any help would be appreciated .

  3. I prefer the red slime stain remover, unlike chemiclean it recommends leaving skimmer and Uv on and doesn’t require a water change. Chemiclean will kill your inverts if you don’t do a sufficient water change.

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