Algae Management Program
Controlled reduction of nitrates and phosphates, prevents nuisance algae
& enhances coral coloration
Algae Management Program – Your solution for nitrate, phosphate & algae management.
Understanding the role played by the symbiotic Zooxanthellae algae and their relationship with the coral is essential for successful implementation of the algae management program.
In nature, corals host Zooxanthellae populations at densities of 0.5 – 5 million/cm2 that are located inside the coral soft tissue. The corals derive approximately 85% of their energy from the Zooxanthellae and produce the remaining 15% in their soft tissue by metabolizing coral nutrients (carbohydrates, amino and fatty acids) that are available in the surrounding water. This energy fuels all of the corals’ metabolic processes such as protein production and skeletogenisis.
The Zooxanthellae use the strong sunlight on the tropical reef as their primary energy source and pass on up to 95% of their photosynthesis products (carbohydrates, amino and fatty acids) to their coral host, utilizing the balance for their own metabolic processes. The coral host provides the Zooxanthellae with nutrients, nitrogenous compounds, phosphates and CO2.
It is this symbiotic relationship, involving the recycling of nutrients, that is the key to its ecological success.
Another aspect of this symbiosis relates to photo-protection from strong radiation. In nature, the Zooxanthellae protect the corals from intense ultraviolet (UV) radiation by absorbing the light energy and shading the delicate inner layers of the coral soft tissues.
In nature, the Zooxanthellae population is controlled by the algae nutrients (nitrates and phosphates) excreted by the coral, however in an artificial reef aquarium the amount of algae nutrients accumulate rapidly and if left uncontrolled will induce an over-density of the Zooxanthellae populations.
The high nutrient induced over-density of the Zooxanthellae population disturbs the natural balance causing competition between the Zooxanthellae and the coral for the available resources. Without any additional nutrition, the coral may become undernourished. As well, the increase in Zooxanthellae population causes the corals to become darker with a deep brown tint that obscures the natural vivid pigments of the coral. Higher Zooxanthellae population densities within the acceptable range will however provide the coral with the energy required for accelerated coral growth.
Reducing the algae nutrients in the water will reduce the Zooxanthellae population to the level that can only be supported by the algae nutrients supplied directly by the coral.
Under these conditions the coral will receive less energy from the Zooxanthellae and will have less protection from the UV radiation. In this situation, if suitable coral nutrients (carbohydrates, amino acids and vitamins) are readily available in the water, the soft tissue of the coral can increase its internal production of energy. Assuming this and the necessary trace elements are available in the water, the coral will increase its natural UV protection by enhancing pigmentation of the soft tissue. This can be seen as an enhanced coloration.
Algea Nutrient control
Micro-biological reduction of algae nutrients (nitrates and phosphates) occur naturally in all anoxic areas of the aquarium (inside live rocks, porous filter media and substrates). Supporting the natural processes by regular dosing of a suitable carbon source and mineral co-factors, provides an easy and reliable method of incremental control of the algae nutrient levels to safely control both the presence of nuisance algae and the population of the symbiotic Zooxanthellae.