You are currently viewing 10 Ways to Remove Dinoflagellates Reef Tank (Dino Algae)

10 Ways to Remove Dinoflagellates Reef Tank (Dino Algae)

Dinoflagellates are tiny unicellular organisms that can only be seen with the aid of a microscope. They are protists(can function as a plant and an animal).

These organisms reproduce vastly, so they are found in abundance wherever they are cited. Because of their vast occurrence, dinoflagellates discolor the water. They are the cause of red tides in the oceans and seas.

Over the years, this tiny organism has proven to be a challenging problem in the aquarium niche. Their toxins are harmful to both human beings and marine animals.

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However, not all Dinoflagellates are bad. They contribute an essential part of the aquarium food chain. A problem comes up if there is a shake or break in the marine habitat’s biological balance. Because of the special rate they reproduce, dinoflagellates would spread fast, killing other marine animals.

It is harmful to humans if you consume the toxins they produce.

If you are seeing A dinoflagellate for the first time, you might misplace it to be cyanobacteria or other types of bacteria. That is if you are quite familiar with what bacterias look like.

There are various colors of dinoflagellates but it occurs mostly as brown. There are white, yellow, and green shades of dinoflagellates too.

They coat everything inside your aquarium glass. This coating usually looks like slime with air bubbles trapped in it.

Types of Dinoflagellates in Reef Tank

To eliminate dinoflagellates from your tank, it is essential to know the type you are dealing with.

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Autotrophic Dinoflagellates

These types of dinoflagellates are photosynthetic and able to produce food on their own even under little sunlight.

We should be wary of this kind because they do not depend on other sources for food and can reproduce very fast. Sometimes, it’s challenging to eliminate them because of the rate at which they multiply even when there’s barely any nitrate or phosphate.

Heterotrophic Dinoflagellates

An excellent trait about this type is that it is easily controllable; it does not reproduce as fast as the autotrophic dinoflagellates. They depend on other sources of organic nutrients to survive, unlike autotrophs.

They serve as a controlling measure too because they eat other dinoflagellates. But this type does not occur in abundance and is mostly limited to a certain quantity. They have a very small population.

Mixotrophic Dinoflagellates

This is the worst type of dinoflagellates. It is the most challenging type to eliminate. They are very stubborn. This type of dinoflagellate functions as an autotrophic organism and a heterotrophic organism. That is, they can produce their food in the presence of sunlight and also depend on other sources of nutrients.

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They can thrive without sunlight. So even if you take away the sunlight, there are still other sources of nutrients they can depend on.

Dinoflagellates in Reef Tank

They do not just appear out of the blues. There are several reasons why dinos are in your tank. And surprisingly, there is a level of cleanliness that can make them appear in your tank.

It’s frustrating to have these tiny organisms in your tank and can even drive you to the point of starting afresh. Especially, when you have the slightest idea on how to eliminate them.

Here are a few reasons as to why you have a Dinoflagellates outbreak.

  • If your tank is new and immature.
  • Excess nutrient reduction.
  • Starvation. Because Dinoflagellates thrives better under starvation. They enjoy living as a heterotroph, so appetite would only make things worse for you.

Signs there’s a Dinoflagellates Outbreak

It is vital to always be on the lookout for these signs if you own an aquarium. If you catch a Dinoflagellates outbreak early, it is relatively easier to eliminate than multiplying so much.

The first signs to look out for in a Dinoflagellates outbreak are

  • If small animals like snails and invertebrates appear dead.
  • Brown slimes with air bubbles in them mostly at high flow parts of the water.
  • The decrease in the ph level of the aquarium in the absence of sunlight.
  • Strange behaviors of fishes in the aquarium.

If you notice any of this sign, likely, there’s about to be a Dinoflagellates outbreak in your tank, or there is already. You should begin Dinoflagellates eliminating treatment immediately, so they don’t spread so much.

Keep in mind that this organism reproduces very fast. Every hour of the day counts in eliminating dinoflagellates from your tank.

Dinoflagellates Reef Tank Treatment

Removing these tiny organisms from your tank is never easy, even at the earliest outbreak. It should take you a few weeks or months to remove them.

There is no cure for eliminating them. You’ve got to come a whole lot. Inasmuch removing them can be frustrating, getting a new tank or starting afresh is never an option. Please be strong.

Hang in there. It’s a long process, but you’ll most definitely be okay.

Moving forward, I will list some valid steps you should take when eliminating dinos from your tank. I will also inform you of things you shouldn’t do when eliminating dinos.

One Week Blackout

Dinos thrive better in sunlight, stop all-natural lights from entering your tank. Put off all lights too.

We do this because dinos are autotrophs too. When there is a source of sunlight entering your tank, it helps them produce their food—not forgetting that these organisms also feed off other main animals. Thereby combining their already available nutrients to the ones they produce themselves. - For all your creative needs!

Try not to exceed the one week mark if you have expensive corals. Also, other organisms need sunlight too to function well.

This method will not altogether remove the dinos, but it would go a long way in helping you reduce their multiplying rate.

Maintain your ph Level

It is advised that we maintain the ph level of the water in your tank at a minimum of 8.4

Use Activated Carbons

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When dinos begin to die, they produce harmful toxins in the water thereby killing other aquarium organisms. To stop this from happening, run a lot of activated carbon to help remove the contaminants effectively.

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It is a proven fact that activated carbon is used to remove toxins from the water. So bombard as much activated carbon as you can—examples like Two little fish hydrocarbon, etc.

Remove the Slime at Sunset

Dinos are usually greater in mass at sunset when the day is over. You might be tempted to change the water, don’t! You’d only be making things worse for yourself. Install a filter sock in your aquarium that you can easily use to suck out the slimes acquired in your aquarium at sunset.

Maintaining the Biological Balance of your Reef Aquarium

If this is maintained always, there would be little or no Dinoflagellates outbreaks in your aquarium. Sometimes we are the cause of this outbreak but have no idea. To keep the biological balance, you can collect sand and other aquarium animals from your already mature tank and add them to the Dinoflagellates infested tank.

This can go a long way in helping you eliminate dinos from your tank successfully. Do not let your phosphate and nitrates hit zero. Always have this in mind.

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Increase the Nitrate and Phosphate Content in your Reef Tank

An effective way to eliminate dinos in your aquarium is to increase the number of nutrients in your tank. Because dinos thrive better in starvation, increasing your aquarium’s nutrient content would control the further advance of dinos.

Remove Dinoflagellates Food Sources

Invertebrates like snails help the Dinoflagellates move in and settle down comfortably. It is advised that once you notice you have a Dinoflagellates outbreak in your aquarium, remove all the snails and inverts that serve as an excellent source to the dinos.

Instead, introduce biodiversity that can compete with the dinos. This would help curb the further spread of the dinoflagellates. Once you’re sure the dinos are eliminated or the problem is solved you can return the snails and inverts back to the tank.

Keep your Reef Tank Environment Nourished

It is very easy for the Dinoflagellates to infiltrate an undernourished environment. Seeing that they don’t necessarily need many nutrients to survive because most of them are photosynthetic and can produce their food.

Keeping your aquarium undernourished would increase the death rate of the dino’s competition. That is the biodiversities might die of thereby giving the dinos more room to survive with little or no competition. So pump in as many nutrients as you can.

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Get and install a UV sterilizer and run it all day every day until your Dinoflagellates problem is solved. This will not eliminate them totally but if the UV sterilizer is strong enough, it would kill most of the dinos.

Use Dino X

This method should only be consulted if the above methods listed have been tried and yielded nothing. It is quite harsh and should not be used along with side carbon.

Monitor your Progress with a Microscope

It is impossible to see a life dinoflagellate with your eyes. Instead, make use of a microscope to see how far you have gone in your elimination process. You can keep a comprehensive journal and record what you see.

Things to Avoid in Dinoflagellate Reef Tank

Changes in water – Dinoflagellate love water changes, we are advised not to change the water in our aquarium tank or add any additional water until after a month. This might head start another dinoflagellate outbreak in your tank significantly if you just concluded dinoflagellate treatment newly.

Adding trace elements – If you’re dealing with a problem of dinoflagellates, we should avoid anything containing trace elements like iron, silicon, potassium, etc. Dinos thrive where there are trace elements.

This is of the prime reasons why it is advised not to make any water changes. Adding new water might advance the growth of dinos because of the trace elements found in the water.

Oxidizing agents – Avoid the use of oxidizing agents in your tank. Oxygen is something dinos like. It helps them settle in very well and spread like a plague. To make it easier to eliminate the dinos, you should avoid the addition of oxidizing agents to your tank.

Also, program your pump to a minimum power to keep oxidizing the water in your tank.


The Dinoflagellates are protests that can be autotrophs, heterotrophs, or both. Dinos come in harmful and harmless species. They thrive in starvation.

An excellent way to keep your tank away from these dinos is to keep your tank nourished.

These are a few ways to go about this;

  • Introduce biodiversities into your tank.
  • Maintain the biological balance of your tank.
  • Dinos produce harmful toxins when they die and it should be eliminated with the use of activated.

If you notice the information distributed in this article, then be sure to have your aquarium dino-free.