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Last updated on September 28th, 2022


Reef Aquarium Algae - Dinoflagellates

About Dinoflagellates

Dinoflagellates, also knows as Dinos, are not actually an algae or bacteria, but are often mistaken as such. Dinos are a brown, slimy, stringy, reef organism.

Reef tank Dinos are photosynthetic single-celled organism with an air bubble at the top like a balloon. Though often mistaken for diatoms, Dinoflagellates are quite different and much worse for your reef tank. This slimy organism coats everything and will eventually kill corals in the aquariums.

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What Causes Dinos

The cause of dinos in the reef tank is not well known. One commonly accepted cause is the lack of both nitrates and phosphates. If both of these nutrients measure at zero, this is the most common time for reef dinoflagellates to appear.

How to Get Rid of Dinos

The best known method for getting rid of dinoflagellates is to increase nitrates and phosphates, increase bacteria colonies, or do a 3-5 day total tank black-out. There are some chemical solutions (see recommended products) that may help, however there is no guarantee. Unfortunately, if you have coral, in order to do a total black-out, you will need to remove most of your coral as they will likely die from a loss of light as well.

Increasing nitrates and phosphates is a common solution that tends to work, but again, with little knowlege, this is not a guarantee. Products like Brightwell Aquatics NeoNitro and Brightwell Aquatics NeoPhos will help raise these nutrients. Make sure raise these parameters slowly to prevent shock to any coral or reef creatures. Another way to increase these nutruents is to feed more heavily.

If these methods do not work, another option to try is a UV Sterilizer. UV is known to sterilize organisms like dinoflagellates, algae, and bacteria. This likely will not completely fix the problem, it will likely help slow it down.

Finally, if you are using any nitrate and/or phosphate removing media such as GFO or Bio Pellets, remove these to allow nutrients to rise naturally.

Additional Resource

What Eats Dinoflagellates

Unfortunately, there is nothing known that reliably eats dinoflagellates in the reef tank.

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About Reef Stable

Reef Stable was initially founded in 2019 as a reef tank parameter log to fill a need. Reef Stable quickly grew, becoming a location to solve all of your reef tank problems as well as a place to learn.

Reef Stable now provides a Reef Blog, Reef Aquarium Guides, Coral Care Guides, Identification and Solutions for Pests and Algae, and Reef Dosing Calculators, in addition to the original Reef Parameter Log.

Reef Stable continues to grow, striving to provide a single location for all your reef tank needs!

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