How to Get Rid of Red Slime “Algae” by Lev Ingman
Red slime algae is not actually an algae, but a cyanobacteria which some scientists call the evolutionary link between algae and bacteria. If you get a red slime outbreak do not be worried because if you catch it early, it is usually not that big of a deal. In fact, a red slime outbreak may actually be a blessing in disguise because it will alert you to other more serious issues.
Red slime prefers very specific conditions. Ample light of a specific spectrum, nutrients usually in the form of phosphates or nitrates, and low flow are all preferences. This does not mean that red slime wont grow if conditions aren’t perfect for it, but in order to fix the problem you must attack all of the root causes.
When light bulbs get old the spectrum of light they release will slowly change. This is why it is recommended that you change your light bulbs every nine months to a year. The first thing you have to ask yourself when you get a red slime outbreak is, “When was the last time I changed my light bulbs?” If its been more than nine months, it is likely that the old light bulbs are contributing to your red slime algae problem.
Test your nitrates and your phosphates. If they are high then this is contributing to your red slime problem. In a fish tank, there are very few factors that can contribute to a phosphate problem. If you feed your tank too much, the uneaten organic waste will break down and create phosphates in your tank. If you use tap water to mix your salt water or you use tap water to top your tank off due to evaporative loss, you are probably adding unwanted phosphates to your water. (Test Your Tap) If you are using a poor quality salt to make salt water for your water changes, you may be adding unwanted phosphates even if the packaging says, “Phosphate Free.”(Test salt mix) Nitrates are usually caused by having lots of fish and not doing enough water changes. If you have lots of fish, do water changes more often.
Red slime also prefers areas of low flow. Make sure that you are getting at least ten times your tanks volume in circulation every hour. Also make sure that there are no dead spots in your tank by having water flow pointed in several directions.
When you are treating for red slime, attack from all sides. The first step is to replace your light bulbs with a reputable brand of aquarium bulb. Make sure that these bulbs are designed for aquarium use. The next step is to remove your nitrate and phosphate problem. Add a Phosphate Remover to remove the excess phosphates in your tank. Stop overfeeding, use a quality salt, and stop using tap water on your reef tank. If you have a nitrate problem, do several water changes spread over a period of time. One large water change will not make up for months of not doing a water change. If you have not done a water change in a long time, you must play catch up and do lots of water changes in order to get your nitrates down. Increase the flow in your tank by adding a Power Head. Finally use a red slime-destroying product, most of which are totally safe. Red slime remover is a great product. Make sure that you follow the directions very closely so that you eliminate the problem. If you remove all of these root causes of red slime algae then you should not have problems in the future.
Excessive algae is also caused by all of the above issues. The use of snails and crabs to remove algae is also highly recommended. A sea hair is the best for eating all sorts of algae. You can even sometimes get a sea hair to eat red slime algae!