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Brown Algea
My marine aquarium is very `young` (4 weeks)and still `ripening`. but now is full of brown algae (algae on stones, gravel, dry corals,etc.). Should I try to remove them?

This sort of thing is fairly common. This might actually be bacterial growth rather than an algae. Brown algae has also been identified with the lack of light in some cases. whereas a bright green algae usually signified plenty of light. If you are running a minimal lighting system, this may be the indication of this.

I think that the brown algae will slowly get overcome with time, assuming more useful bacteria take over the dominant role, the same thing happens with algae, so even if I am wrong and it is algae, you can out-compete it with strong populations of beneficial bacteria.

This will not be an immediate cure, as bacteria domination does take some time to establish and requires ongoing regular inoculation, but you might want to explore the possibilities of Cycle addition to your aquarium. The least it can do is establish and maintain a healthy bacterial filter of beneficial bacteria to remove ammonia and nitrite as soon as it is produced. But, with the high concentrations of “bugs” you put in every week, the chances are that other bacteria less beneficial to the aquarium, and/or algae such as you describe, will be eliminated as their food supply is used by the inoculated strains increases.

Smelly Water?
PH level remains at a constant 7.6, regardless of what I add as in softener blocks, cycle, cycle-sludge, water changes, PH-Down.
Nitrite levels fluctuate between 0 ppm. and 1 ppm.
I have increased aeration, and did 1/3 water changes, but it will not remain stable.
Ammonia levels are fluctuating between 4-5 ppm. and 2-3 ppm.
Chlorine levels are 0.
Water Hardness remains at 300 ppm, regardless of what I do or add.
Water remains smelly and milky most of the time. To this date I have not lost any fish, but it is to the point that when you enter my home you can smell the water throughout the house.
What can I do?
What am I doing wrong?

There are a number of issues going on in your tank, and I think some basic bio-chemistry is required for you to understand what you are doing to your tank, and the possible results of all this radical treatment.

First, in my estimation, the tank is overcrowded. 40 fish, all two inches comes out to about 80 inches of fish. This is adequate for a mature, established tank, not a brand new one that is just undergoing the growth of beneficial bacteria and the maturation and changes in the water that occur, not in two weeks, but usually 6 – 8!

Forty fish guarantees, in my mind, that you are overfeeding. If you want to reduce the smell, stop feeding – for three days, then feed once a day as much as they can eat in TWO minutes, with NOTHING hitting the bottom. The smell is a result of nitrite/nitrate and is usually a sign of excess organics in the water.

The cloud is also a result of overfeeding and excessive organic material in the tank. A series of bacteria have grown rapidly to eat all the wastes both solubilized, suspended and in the gravel, they have gotten so plentiful that your eye sees the billions as a milky cloud. The biological activity of this extreme decay process is also creating the smell you smell and a lack of oxygen for all the other inhabitants.

Cycle will help the tank get rid of the incredible production of ammonia, and the fact that you are seeing nitrite already shows that it is really working. But the tank is so hot in organic material, it will fluctuate all over the place. To be blunt, the use of Cycle is probably why there have been no fish losses as of yet.

pH and its adjustment is not really all that wise in my mind while the tank is going through maturation. Once the `dust` has settled on the nitrogen cycle and the aquarium is able to remove all the ammonia and nitrite it produces, then you might be able to worry about the pH and try to change it. By adding a lot of chemicals, especially in rapid succession, you probably are causing strange things to happen in the tank, and are truly creating a chemical soup that may have unknown consequences later in the tank.

My best advice, stop feeding for three days, allow the bacterial populations in the water column to use up the organic pollutants in the water and then die back. That will begin to solve the smell problem. Continue to test for ammonia and nitrite, and track it. Add Cycle as recommended from now on, a double dose will never hurt, but the concentration of bacteria is very high, so there is not as much need to use entire bottles at a time.

Finally, RELAX, calm down and let the tank establish its equilibrium. When you are ready to drop the hardness and pH, do it gradually. Find out what your water company reads for the water and consider mixing some distilled into the mix to drop the pH and decrease the buffers. If the fish are doing OK now, radical changes, even to their `ideal` conditions will harm them. Whatever changes you make, do them over the course of days or weeks, not in an hour, your fish will thank you by adjusting to their stable environment and do much better than if you radically change everything on a daily basis. In those cases, nothing settles and you will just be making more problems than you are solving.
I have cloudy water, why isn`t my filter working?

To have really clean water, if you have just started your tank or completely replaced all your media and cleaned your tank it will take a while to allow the filter material to mature with biological activity. Until you have established a balance of beneficial bacteria and allowed the other bacteria to use up any organic material that promotes bacteria to thrive in the water column, your tank will be cloudy.

How to clear it up?

If you just started this tank or completely replaced your media, you need to add Cycle. It is Live but dormant beneficial bacteria in a bottle. Double dose according to tank size. Remember to add Cycle every time you do a water change and/or media change. Try not do a water change and complete media change at the same time, you will remove too much beneficial bacteria. One way to protect against this is to ensure you always retain some of the older media through the filter cleaning. The chamber design of the Fluval system lends itself to this style of cleaning where an entire filter module can be left alone during the rest of the media replacement.

If your tank has been running for a while and it is cloudy that could be caused from several reasons. You should not run the light for more than 12 hours. Ensure the aquarium is not placed where the tank will be struck by direct sunlight. This can produce damaging temperature fluctuations as well as promote suspended algae blooms that turn the water into a pea soup green.


Do not overstock or overfeed your fish?

If you have cloudy water add Cycle to reduce the excess production of ammonia and nitrite and `B` Clear. `B` Clear is a biological product that clears up cloudy water from a bacterial bloom. It contains live cultures of bacteria that reduce organic wastes that are the food for the bacteria that explode and cause the visible cloud. By removing the organic material before it dissolves into the water column, the suspended bacteria are forced to die back to invisible levels.