Red Slime or Cyanobacteria is an algae-like pest can commonly creep upon rocks and soon devour our aquascape and consume hours of our time to clean up.Red Slime can be a nightmare or simply a warning sign that there is an imbalance in our tank.
Red slime is a cyanobacteria which actually means blue green algae. Most cyanobacteria is blue green but the most common form in our reef tanks is red.
Cyanobacteria is vital in ecology; it turns nitrogen gas into usable nutrients. It is the oldest fossil we have dating back to 3.5 billion years old which is amazing that it is still alive today.
Although cyanobacteria is necessary in an ecosystem, that doesn’t mean we want it covering our tanks. It can cover corals and detract from your tank’s aesthetics.
There are many ways to prevent red slime and if you already have it there are several solutions to your problem. In order to prevent it you can keep your nutrient levels in range, periodically change your lights, and have efficient flow in your tank.
Red slime needs nutrients and light to survive; therefore, minimizing your nutrient levels will starve the bacteria and if you already have it you may want to keep the lights off for a couple of days in order to eradicate it more easily. Additionally, you need to change your t5, fluorescent compacts, and metal halide bulbs periodically to prevent cyanobacteria from forming colonies that may proliferate under the shifted color temperature.
Cyanobacteria tends to live in areas of your tank with the least flow, especially where detritus builds up. This may be due to higher nutrients in that area or it needs to find a suitable spot to anchor its colony.
These three things combined will help you avoid cyanobacteria. You can scrub the rocks and syphon it out to remove it; incorporating this in a water change can yield almost immediate results. Reefers also use erythromycin which is the active ingredient in Chemiclean to rid red slime out of their aquarium. Nevertheless, if you do not repair the cause of the red slime, it will continue to come back.
Good maintenance habits can easily prevent red slime algae from occurring and can inhibit other algae pests from manifesting. If you have red slime it is just an indicator to tweak flow, lighting, and/or nutrients. Small patches or slime algae are nothing to get worked up about, it’s natural on wild reefs too, but keep an eye on it and take measures to prevent its spread before it gets out of control.