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Treating Those Darn Dinoflagellates

By Todd Crail. Posted to reef-l emailing list.

Howdy folks... I guess this is just a fwiw kind of post as there's no real question or answers :) I've posted about this before elsewhere, but I think this time actually had some real conclusions, so I thought I should share again :)

I just had a (ahem) lovely visit from my old friend, dinoflagellates. They're disgusting, maddening wee beasties that will take both the keeper and the animals entrusted to that keeper for such a horrible ride. And I beat them hands down this time, quickly and effectively without much system stress... Here's what transpired :)

I had mentioned a few weeks ago that my alk had crashed due to keeper error and that sent off a wave of cyano and planaria, and crashed a large part of my brown macroalgaes. I corrected the alk problem, and within days, the cyano had dispersed and I thought all was happy again... HA. The question at that point that should have been slamming around my head was, "The cyano was feeding on something... now... who's going to step up to the plate?" And a big rust red Casey Jones like boogery bubbly mass stepped up to the plate... (sigh)

The conversion from cyano to dinoflagellates was "good" to see, as this now has me a bit more educated for a quick identification of which. The type of cyano that I normally see is a bright blood red color, and has nice fine continuous slick sheets of itself, kinda like silk. You can pick it off. You can peel it off and hold it if you're careful. However, it's counterpart, the dino, are a rust brown/red which quickly begin producing bubbles after the main photoperiod has begun. It will bubble off whatever it is growing on, begin congealing on the surface in mats, and you just can't pick or peel it. I would have to say that it exists in Borg-like fashion where you have many individuals all part of one common cause (to piss me off ;). In this case, it smothered my algaes as they attempted to return, it got caught on acropora and really took my P. cylindrica for a ride. And all I could really do about it was blow it off in a turkey baster (which helps to remove the dead algae underneath) and hope to get lucky. Today, 2 days after the treatment ended and it's crash... I realized how much it affected all animals... It even sent aiptasia into hiding... How about that for pure evil? (feel free to chide "lesser demon" Dr. Ron lol ;)

The hardest part was admitting this is what I had, as with my shop I had before, this crap just wiped out a whole system of fish, and well, I wasn't really ready to deal with it again. However, I was able to take a step back from it and start thinking. And a suitable course of action and elimination was implemented and the results were quite happy :)

This is a 125 gallon aquarium. Here's all that I did:

  • I trimmed down any halimeda (I have a lot of stalks all over) and anything else in the way to decrease drag in the flow for my bastings to get the food source out of the rock. I did not add any extra current devices, and I would say, that my system is pretty low flow in comparison to most sps keepers. The circulation consists of a sen 700 return line, a rio 2100 and a maxijet 1200.
  • I turned the halides off for 5 days leaving only the actinic vho's (6') on their normal 12 hour cycle.
  • I put a filter pad in on the overflows output.
  • I changed my carbon bags out every 4 or so days (I was doing this prior to the lights going off)
  • I basted the areas of highest concentration about 3 times a day.
  • No water changes or changes in skimming (cpr sr4 with all possible venturi adapters running in air)

I turned the lights back on yesterday.... No more boogers. :) They're just gone . I would say that my analysis is a bit premature, but I just can't believe how quickly everything is looking normal again! It's like some dark force just left the building.

The effects on the aniamls was minimal . The Acropora and a purple M. digi are less bright, but only went toward brown. There was no bleaching. Everyone else didn't even seem to have a problem with the less intense light. In fact, as the 5 days went on, more and more stuff started opening back up... Go figure huh? :) Afterall, it does storm now and again in Fiji right? :)

Some key notes of observation:

Traditional thought would have one dosing kalk to keep the pH above 8.4 I did nothing of the sort. My pH runs a course daily of 7.7 to 8.3 (which would also disagree with traditional thought) However, my alk is dialed right in at 4.x meq/L. I'm wondering if the excess alk produced by the kalk additions had anything to do with it? But then... I won't start on my "alk conspiracy" tonight ;) I really think people were looking at the wrong param... A Pocillopora damicornis sent off bails like crazy... I must have 50-60 freshly landed planulae. That puts me around 100 now... Anyone want some in 6 months? ;) Some star polyps that I have never* been able to get to spread (and these guys have been in a variety of systems and lighting configurations) added about 6"x6" to it's colony in a month.

Well, that's about it ;) Thanks for reading so far. I think this will be worth your while to file away in your brain and reference should you get the problem later. I'll make an expounded version up on my site in the library adding in my former post about the subject, and a reference to and article Dr. Ron had written when those stinking geeks at my isp can figure out how to correctly install Front Page extensions lol


Created by liquid
Last modified 2006-11-24 18:42