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Bryopsis: How I got My Tank Back in 10 Days

Bryopsis happens to the best of us. It usually enters our tanks by hitchhiking. However, I got my first outbreak after feeding my tank with powdered phytoplankton. I didn't believe it came with the phytoplankton (it was really expensive) so I fed again and got my second outbreak.

The bryopsis leaf has a fern structure

Bryopsis is such a pest. It takes root at the base of the coral, grows fast and quickly overwhelms the coral. It suffocates the coral and if left to its devices long enough, will kill the coral. Although no fish eats it, it can be removed manually but unless every piece is taken out, bryopsis grows back within a week. My tank nutrients are less than 1ppm for NO3 and 0.01ppm for PO4. Surprisingly, bryopsis grows well even under these conditions.

I plucked bryopsis from my tank 1-2 times per week for two months but it chumbawamba-ed every single time. Whatever was fueling them seem to be able to fuel them a long time. I needed a solution, so I did a search and fluconazole seemed to be the answer. It's is an antifungal medication and reefers claim that it's effective with no side effects.

I keep over 80 different species of coral in my tank. In it are acropora (18 species), hammers (4), chalice (5), pocillopora (5), zoanthids (17), acans (3), bird's nest (7), candy cane (2), goniopora (2), cyphastrea (4), leptastrea (3), leptoseris (2), pectinia (1), favia (2), mushrooms (2), monti (6), blasto (2), duncans (1). I also keep four tangs, two clams and a rock full of xmas tree worms. If things go sideways and I end up losing all these, I might just quit the hobby.

Adding to this, I use an Algae Turf Scrubber (ATS). It's my main nutrient export, and houses many different types of algae. If fluconazole kills my ATS, it will be troublesome. Somehow I found the courage (read: had enough of plucking bryopsis), discovered a great Youtube* and decided to give it a shot. The next day, I went to Ah Beng Aquarium (ABA) and got myself a bottle of Bryopsis Buster.

Who you gonna call?

Day 1

The written instructions

My setup is a Red Sea Reefer 425XL. It's a 400L tank with a small sump. In my sump are two marinepure blocks, a skimmer and an ATS.

Here's what I did;

I switched off the skimmer, took half a cup of tank water, emptied the powder from all 10 capsules (1 cap treats 40L) into the cup, stirred then poured everything directly into the display tank. That's about the size of the work.

Day 1

Day 2

Nothing happened

Day 3

Day 3

Noticed the tips of the leaves are turning white. I'm not sure if I was seeing things because the difference was subtle. I thought about buying another bottle to empty another 5 capsules in.

Day 4

Day 4

Bald patch appearing in the field of bryopsis. Things are moving in the right direction. Glad I didn't waste money on a new bottle.

Day 5

Switched the skimmer back on. Didn't do it on Day 3 because the bryopsis wasn't dying then and I didn't want to skim out the fluconazole before it did the work.

Day 5

Day 10

And here are the results.

Day 10

The zoanthids took a beating. Bryopsis isn't potent but it slowly suffocates and does lasting damage. If you have this pest, it's a good idea to act fast. I hope this article helps in your fight with bryopsis. If you have before after pictures, I'm interested to see it! Or you can share it with everyone on this Facebook Group.

And just in case you read all the instructions on the bottle and was wondering, I did not do that 30% water change nor added carbon after treatment was completed.

*Link to that YouTube on Fluconazole. This YouTuber is genuine and has good info.

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