From our previous article, we introduced how to set up a tank or pond adequately to prevent algal growth. This included mostly bits on filtration—what kinds of filters or other items are necessary to ensure that your tank is able to properly process the wastes it produces. The reality of the matter is that equipment alone cannot prevent/treat algal issues. Take the time to make a game plan and schedule your tank’s progression before adding a single drop of water. Timing your tank’s progression properly can do wonders for controlling and limiting algal growth from the get go.
Start off Right:
One of the first things that you must consider before purchasing a single item for your aquarium or pond is where you will place aquarium or pond, itself. Placement determines how visible it is, how accessible it is for maintenance, and how much natural sunlight it receives, determining the susceptibility to algal blooms. One would be more inclined to maintain a tank or pond that is always visible and easily accessed. And algae growth, like with any plant, is hindered in low/limited light environments.
If you are putting together a pond, consult heavily with local contractors or experts in building ponds. Design your pond such that it is well plumbed, and has adequate filtration and turnover. And make sure that all pumps, filters, and plumbing equipment are readily accessible. And if possible, design the pond in such a way as to keep most of it shaded, or out of direct sunlight. This goes a long way to prevent uncontrolled algal growth.
Tank placement and design to prevent algal growth are essentially equal to that of building a pond. A tank in the family room or entranceway and close to a bathroom or sink is always seen and easily maintained. Plumb the tank in such a way as to make the changing of water, filters, and equipment easy. And if possible, place the tank such that it does not receive any direct sunlight.
Tapwater and Tapwater Purification
Although I stressed this in our previous article, I would like to stress this again. One of the best ways to prevent long term algal problems is to prevent the addition of contaminants at all. Tap water is often contains contaminants such as nitrates, silicates and phosphates, three key nutrients in the growth and production of many types of problem algae. Consider the use of Reverse Osmosis filtration. RO filtration uses high pressure and a semi-permeable plastic membrane to filter clean water, and reject dirty water. This process is a bit complicated, but in the end can reduce up to 99.9% of pollutants from water. This water is also great for drinking!
Cycling--Liverock Care and Curing
For those of us starting saltwater and reef aquaria, it is important to consider how we will be introducing liverock into the aquarium. Hasty introduction can contribute to future algal growth. Liverock is one of the most basic parts of reefkeeping, acting as the core biological filter, aesthetic backdrop, and safe haven for fish and invertebrates. But liverock (good liverock) will often come with a mix of live, dead, and dying organisms attached. Those dead and dying will inevitably add to the nutrient load of the tank, and provide fodder for the growth of problem algae. Often new tanks are completely overridden by green hair algae and diatoms. Taking the time to cure rock correctly can circumvent an algae bloom.
Liverock curing is a process that allows for the death and decay of dying organisms, while preserving the remaining animals on the rock. Rock is kept in bins or aquariums in high quality salt water, with plenty of water movement and frequent water changes. Rock is usually kept in these bins for up to a month, or until all noticeable decay has gone.
As you can imagine, the water the rocks cure in becomes quite foul. To prevent algae as a result of liverock curing, the first thing you can do is cure rock in a bin, separate from the main aquarium. 50-80g trash bins work great with a few power heads and heaters. Change about 50% of the water in each bin every week to help keep the nutrient load down. If possible, keep the rocks in darkness, so as to prevent algae from taking a foothold at the start. The rocks will become white/grey at the end of the curing process but will quickly color up after curing and placed into its well kept home.
As you can see, this “Abridged Version” may very well turn out to be quite long. But I want to cover as many bases for you as possible. Really think about how you are setting up your tank, and be mindful of how you go about things. Plan things out, make a schedule, and read read read!
Next up: More on algae! Less on prevention, more on treatment!