The importance of consistent maintenance

Common saltwater aquarium issues

When a new maintenance client calls me for the first time, it is usually because there is an issue with one of their aquariums and they want me to provide an estimate to correct the problem. The majority of these aquariums has one of the following common issues.

Green Hair Algae

Green Hair Algae -inconsistent aquarium maintenance


Green Hair Algae (GHA) occurs in everyone’s aquarium at some time. It looks and feels like common seaweed and if left unchecked it can and will take over the entire aquarium. Even worse, as it takes over it can “choke out” many corals.

GHA lives off of light and nutrients in the water, primarily phosphates and nitrates. It can also store phosphate in it’s cells and live off of that store. When it dies, it releases phosphate back into the water and as it decays it creates a nitrate spike. This process feeds other GHA in the tank allowing them to grow and continue o take over.


diatoms - lacking aquarium maintenance

Resembling brown dust patches on the sand bed or rocks, diatoms are actually a form of plankton with a silica based cell wall. They are also photosynthetic and get all the energy they require from a light source.

Typically they appear in an aquarium while it is either cycling, or very shortly after the cycle has completed. As they form their cell wall from silica, they are more common in aquariums with a high silicate on tent in the water. Once the silicate in the water is depleted they will die off naturally, however some systems see their silicate replenished regularly from common maintenance routines. In these cases, the diatoms always seem to be a problem and frustrate many aquarium owners.


Cyanobacteria - improper maintenance

As the name states, Cyano is actually a bacteria, it resembles an algae as it tends to form flowing strings or filaments, it is usually a red color and is referred to as Red Slime algae, but it can also be a blue or greenish color.  Cyano is photosynthetic and also lives off of phosphates, and it is typically found in areas with lower water flow. Like nuisance algae, it is usually found in almost every aquarium during the initial nitrogen cycle or shortly thereafter, but it can stick around or reappear at anytime and become one of the most difficult issues to solve.

The underlying cause

All of the above are a result of the same recurring issue, high nutrient levels in the water, specifically phosphate, nitrate, and sometimes silicate. Where do these nutrients come from? Fish waste, decaying uneaten food, top off water source, improperly sized filtration system or lack of the proper equipment. All of these causes are potentially maintenance issues, and as such can be solved or prevented by consistent proper maintenance routines. If you are in the Denver area, contact me for a system evaluation and maintenance estimate.

Installation and Maintenance Service








Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *