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My Battle with Dinos


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I started this post as a reply to another thread, but decided it could use a dedicated thread all its own.   I've been fighting Dinos.  2021 was a rough year, and I'm feeling like it's turned around with help from many others.

The story:

1st half of 2021 I couldn't figure out what the ugly snotty stringy stuff was in my tank, and too slow to react.   Ended up with Cyano, cleaned up, and ended up with ugly dinos.  And it killed vast majority of my corals.  I did red slime remover, twice, in the process - which Did kill the cyano.

2nd half of 2021 thanks to @SuncrestReef and his microscope, I started figuring out what I had.   I'd done a few rounds of dr tim's waste away & refresh, (with 5day dark cycle) and this helped.  But I wasn't under control.  Gone for a while, back in a month, ...   Lots of research and some ahha moments at the club meeting.   

Summary of what to do about Dino's:

  1. join the "Mack's reef Dinoflagellates support group!" on facebook
  2. goto "Files" on the top row and download "Dealing With Dinos" (currently Rev G - published Feb 2022)
  3. read it, top to bottom.  Think about it, read it again.
  4. If nothing else, just read the index.  It covers chemistry, identification, bacteria, phyto, copeopds, UV, hydrogen peroxide, silica dosing, blackouts, ...   All methods I'd read about in different forums, in one place.

Here's my story;

  • I let Nitrate and Phosphate crash, multiple times.  Like absolute zero.  Wasn't testing, At All.
    • I've been testing daily/every other day, and dosing NeoPhos and NeoNitrate when needed
    • Using Hanna HI782 and HI736
  • I let my elements get out of whack.  (like zero iodine, and aluminum overload).   and fixed it.
    • started the Moonshiners Reef system https://www.reefmoonshiners.com/  (thanks @Shar_Zard)
    • which means an ICP test -> Excel sheet to interpret results -> dosing elements to "correct"
    • I corrected only the Seriously Depleted items, and found my super old brightwell dimpled brick/bio block was leaching aluminum (removed)
    • Since starting, I've now moved to just ~correcting everything it suggests.   it's easier for me.  (yes, other systems exist like this)
  • Decided my good bacteria had taken a crash, so have been doing weekly/multiple times a week bio additives
    • Microbacter7
    • Probio biodigest
  • Added a big UV sterilizer for the first time (kills half the species of Dinos - specifically, the type that looks like brown snot, not the type that makes gravel brown)
    • 110W to my ~350gallon setup
  • Bought a microscope on amazon so I could figure out what species I had, and track their growth or reduction
    • Swift SW350T, with the handiest addition there is...
    • Swift Microscope Lens Adapter, Smartphone Camera Adapter Mount, Microscope Accessory (Fits 28mm Eyepieces)
    • Section 4 of dealing with Dino's has pictures to ID what type of Dino you have, and how to deal with them
  • I'm down to to mostly Large Cell Amphidiniums (LCA), which means brown on top of my gravel.  Least Toxic, hardest to get rid of.
  • treatment so far has been silica dosing, to encourage a Diatom bloom.   I can see the growth on the microscope.  
    • Including regular testing with Hanna HI705
    • I've been at this last step since Jan 9th.  I see a reduction, dino's are now a pest, not a plague.

Hard learned lessons

  • zero nitrate and phosphate is simply bad. (for me)  I was running them "low", not monitoring, and they were easily bottoming out
  • amino acid based additives are apparently rocket fuel for dinos. stopped those
  • Iron additives apparently encourage dinos.  stopped these  (I don't have a fuge with macro algae to consume this additive)

Tank is back up and running, corals growing, I'm living with brown gravel and would like it to reduce in time.   

I had an aptasia problem, now addressed.  So am now starting adding Phyto, and I'd like to add Tisbe pods (who are the only species seen eating diatoms)

Last hard lesson - getting rid of LCA takes a long time.   But that's okay because...

Getting everything else under control has gotten my tank back on the right track.

 

 

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(In this pict from my gravel, circle or ovals are Dino's, grains of rice are diatoms)

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Thank you for the thorough walkthrough.   
 

honestly it’s very helpful as we all have had the “ah what the heck, my gravel is covered in brown!” moments and have just guessed our way through it.

your walkthrough will help a lot of people!

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  • 2 weeks later...

From my original post: So am now starting adding Phyto, and I'd like to add Tisbe pods 

Today's Update, I harvested my first batch of Phyto (Nanno) grown at home.     Up to this point, I've been adding phyto daily for the 2weeks+ by purchasing it weekly.   Adding about 1 cup a day, and I really want to add More.    So I bit the bullet and ordered an off the shelf system to grow phyto and pods myself.  Punch line, it works.   

Each jar yielded 2.5L of feedable phyto.   (including 250ml that goes back as a re-starter culture)  I'll harvest the first batch of Pods this weekend.

 

Thursday, March 17th - setup day

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Friday, March 25th - 1st Harvest Day

 

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I may add that when you have low nutrient level, dosing amino or any fuel additive which is also amino nase will result in Dino and/or Cyano

A lot of brands adding amino into the additive so if we dose multiple brands it is just like dosing the same additive multiple times

Be sure to check the ingredient of what you are dosing

Always test before dosing major or trace elements, dosing blindly always end up in disaster

 

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13 hours ago, goldenbasketreef said:

I may add that when you have low nutrient level, dosing amino or any fuel additive which is also amino nase will result in Dino and/or Cyano

A lot of brands adding amino into the additive so if we dose multiple brands it is just like dosing the same additive multiple times

Be sure to check the ingredient of what you are dosing

Always test before dosing major or trace elements, dosing blindly always end up in disaster

Thanks.  I'm pretty sure you're describing the hard lesson I've learned out of this.   I suspect this whole adventure started with;  a. multiple events of zeroing out NO3/PO4.   b. I started daily dosing AB+ (aminos) to see what happened, and KZ bottle #3 (aminos) as part of the weekly KZ 1/2/3/4 bottle system.  Thus I WAS double dosing.  Stopped both of these as part of my learning adventure.   Mack's, Dealing With Dino's, points this out clearly.   No Aminos for me since last fall.

As for major element dosing - I'm doing monthly ICPs.  Actually, double ICPs for three different months.  ATI ICP & Oceamo ICP.   It was interesting to compare the results side by side.  (Generally matching)   I'm 10 ICP's into this.

Date & Brand

  • 7/21/2021 - Oceamo
  • 8/12/2021- Oceamo
  • 10/25/2021- Oceamo
  • 10/25/2021- ATI
  • 11/18/2021- ATI
  • 11/18/2021- Oceamo
  • 12/10/2021- ATI
  • 1/17/2022- ATI
  • 1/17/2022- Oceamo Mass Spec
  • 3/4/2022- ATI

Thanks for your inputs!

12 hours ago, CuttleFishandCoral said:

Nice bud. Growing phyto is great. Works wonders. 

Jeff, Thanks!   I'm a few weeks into Phyto.  I can't say it's magic yet - BUT, visibly it looks better.   Need to break out the microscope and see how things look again.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Phyto harvest #3 complete.  All continues well.    Still adding 32oz / day to the tank.  

If you're wondering about the one 500ml water bottle used in the middle of the basket.   I'm setting aside this every week as an emergency re-starter culture, in case of a crash.   Nanno should be viable for up to 30days in the fridge, so these bottles get dated with a sharpie and I'm not using them.  Thus building up a small stockpile. 

 

Debate time:   Add Phyto during the day, evening before tank lights to out, or in the morning before lights come on?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Phyto harvest #4 complete.  All continues well.    Still adding 32oz / day to the tank.  (most days)

Boring photo, just showing the three phyto culture jars restarted (light color on the right hand side).   I tried to harvest the pods culture (left jar) on Friday, but the population is just too low.   So reset with full two liters of Phyto and increased air bubble rate slightly.   (darker color left jar).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Phyto harvest #5 complete.  All continues well.    Still adding 32oz / day to the tank.  (most days)

  • I use 250ml from each harvest, to restart the next batch (three cups on the left feed the three empty jars in back)
  • I put a safety culture into a single new water bottle, in case I crash.  (red label, saved for three weeks)
  • The ~rest goes into 32oz bottles.   (seven visible)

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Late posting of Harvest #7 complete.   (harvest happened on May 12th)

  • But there's a new wrinkle in the Pod culture.   They're CHEWING through the Phyto in record time!  (3-4days, from 64oz of phyto to CLEAR.)
  • Harvested 50% of pods, added to the tank. (1st time since starting this venture)

7th Harvest (May 12th)

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Restarted, and Pods got 64oz of fresh Phyto (May 12th)

  • Notice - Pods (left jar) is fully green with fresh phyto

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Three days later (May 15th) Pods have basically consumed all the phyto!

  • Notice - Pods (left jar) is basically clear - meaning all phyto have been consumed

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Another successful harvest.  #8 is complete.

  • Also harvested the Pods, fed 4/5 to the main tank, restarted with 100% phyto.  No Dilution
    • Basically, that's almost an entire jar of phyto used to restart pods

This picture is BEFORE restarting the pods.  (farthest jar on left is pods, basically clear of phyto - Again)

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Harvest #9 is complete.

  • Also harvested the Pods, this colony seems to have really kicked off.   Now stripping all phyto mid week, and needs More.
  • Restarted with 100% phyto.  No Dilution

This picture is BEFORE restarting the pods.  (farthest jar on left is pods, basically clear of phyto - Again)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Break Even Milestone!   Harvest #10 is complete.

Mentally, I set the goal of successfully completing 10 harvests and this would be my effort/cost break even point.     Of course, If I'd purchased all the phyto I've produced (instead of growing it) I'm way ahead now.   But I never would have bought enough to supply the tank with 16-32oz of phyto a-day, I just wouldn't have spent the $.    

  • Pods are still consuming more phyto than I'd like to allocate to them.  So moving them to new jar wo/light (they'll get ambient rom other jars), and convert their jar to more phyto.
  • Also considering large outside continuous grow experiment.   More details if it works out.

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Harvest #11 done - and Expansion Strategy executed

  • Harvested as normal
  • Copepods have been growing, and consuming lots of phyto.   (32oz every 3rd day)   
  • Made a change.  Moved the Pods to their own gallon jar, without fancy phytotank LED's.   Free'ing up a PhytoJar.
  • Expanded weekly Phyto grow from 3 jars to 4 jars
  • Started Outdoor Phyto Grow Experiment.  (this is not supportable year round, but an interesting experiment during the warmer months)

Pods moved from PhytoTank Jar, to a vanilla glass jar

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Harvest #11 Complete, with 4th PhytoTank converted to phyto

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Final Arrangement, to still give some light to Pods jar

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Outdoor Phyto Grow Experiment

 

 

 

 

 

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Harvest #12 complete.   Both Phyto and Pods

  • First grow of Phyto using all four PhytoTanks went fine.
  • Pods in their own jar went fine.  This was a dense culture.  They stripped all phyto from the jar in 3 days.  Had to refill mid-week.

Before harvest, notice bright phyto and completely clear pod jar in the middle.

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Phyto Harvest and Reset:

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Pod Harvest, in bottom of 250um and 120um sieves

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Completely set back up.  (pod jar in center)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Harvest #13 done - both phyto and pods again

  • cooked a little longer than usual.  10days instead normal ~7days (was on vacation)
  • Pods consumed all their phyto over the 10days, were basically clear water when harvested.
    • I think these can grow faster if I feed them more... :)
    • Currently feeding them almost an entire jar of grown phyto each week

Harvested, and all restarted

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Pod Harvest

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