Cyanobacteria in the marine aquarium

Cyanobacteria in the marine aquarium

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How to eliminate cyanobacteria in the marine aquarium: predatory fish and definitive solutions to eliminate cyanobacteria. Causes, effective solutions and do-it-yourself remedies.

THEcyanobacteriathey appear in the aquarium as a thick red slime covering rocks and seabed. Unlike diatomaceous algae, they do not cover the glass and have a more reddish color. On the surface of this slime you can see air bubbles, oxygen is in fact the result of the metabolism of cyanobacteria. The cyanobacteria described are relatively easy to eliminate, much more difficult to treat are their close cousins: dinoflagellates!

On the web, between forums and hearing about experts, there are many different solutions foreliminate cyanobacteria from the marine aquarium. It is important, however, to emphasize that any solution can be effective as well as useless. Why? It all depends on how you keep your marine aquarium. Each marine aquarium is a balance in itself, perhaps the cause of cyanobacteria lies in maintenance errors, in an incorrect spectroluminosity, in the introduction of new live rocks, in the partial change of the substrate ... in short, cyanobacteria can proliferate for a multitude of reasons and maybe the solutions I propose to you are not going to act on what causes them in your tank. Anyway… we try!

Cyanobacteria in the ripening marine aquarium:if you have recently set up an aquarium, know that cyanobacteria are very normal in the maturation phase of a new tank. Be patient and let a balance be established before introducing fish and corals, perhaps just include a few invertebrates.

The best way to eliminate cyanobacteria during the maturation phase, it is mechanically aspirated and periodically replaced with high quality water.

How to eliminate cyanobacteria in the marine aquarium

THEcynobacteriathey can also form in a well-established tank, perhaps if you have changed lighting: low light intensity and high levels of nitrates can be the right combination for the proliferation of cyanobacteria. In these cases, you will have tosimplykeep nitrate levels under control and adjust lighting.

Another way to limit the growth of cyanobacteria is to introduce "good algae" such as the different species of Caulerpa which, by thriving, steal the substrates they need from the cyanobacteria. Again, I recommend that you increase the light intensity.

Then there are other solutions to eliminate cyanobacteria: resins to be introduced into the filter and a more dosed administration of food for fish and corals.

An underperforming skimmer can assist in the development ofcyanobacteria. What to do? If you have a suitable skimmer, I recommend a "wet skimming" (open the air valve a little) so as to allow your skimmer to process more proteins.

In practice, forpermanently eliminate cyanobacteria from the marine aquariumyou have to do three things:

  • ensure a good light source
  • ensure good skimming
  • ensure the removal of "nutrients" from the aquarium (resins for nitrates, phosphates ...)
  • avoid loading your small system

The aquarium is a closed system, to eliminate cyanobacteria on the one hand you have to remove the nutrients that cause their growth and on the other you have to avoid introducing them. Fish have a lot of fat reserves, try to feed them selectively and scrupulously, avoiding that any leftover food can deteriorate in the tank and above all by administering a minimum amount of food, at least until you solve the cyanobacteria problem.

In the meantime, what to do? Are there any natural predators of cyanobacteria? Are there fish that eat cyanobacteria? Yes, Lactoria cornuta and Amblygobius phalaena, the latter feeds on cyanobacteria and other filamentous algae, but beware that it can jump out of the tank especially in the first period of adaptation.

Someone recommends the use of hydrogen peroxide or antibiotics (erythromycin) but these solutions are not definitive and are also risky for the life of your aquarium.

Cyanobacteria and illumination

As stated, light can become a limiting factor for the growth ofcyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria thrive best when light intensity is low and there is light in the red wavelength.

The goal of your lamp (if you have one of the programmable ones) must be to increase the spectrum of blue and green and decrease the wavelengths in the red.

If you have one of those programmable lamps you may think you have solved it but you don't. Spectrometry is a complex science: even if you only set white (no more than 40%), blue and green light, you may still end up with cyanobacteria. When the wavelength beams of light in blue and green collide with the water in your aquarium, they change and in the case of high levels of calcium, magnesium, nitrates and other nutrients, the wavelengths preferred are absorbed / refracted and red light arrives on your substrate, ideal for cyanobacteria.

Check the quality of your lamp and also its age, maybe it's time to retire it.

Photo: Microbiology Italy

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