Can Someone Tell Me What Is Happening To My Plants?

jennalynnj

Active Member
Member
Messages
140
Reaction score
89
Location
Michigan, USA
Experience
Just started
It looks like algae. How many hours do you keep your light on? Does it wipe off with your finger?
 

kallililly1973

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
9,932
Reaction score
9,864
Location
Rhode Island USA
Experience
Just started
How new is the tank and plants? They appear to be diatoms which usually show up in newer tanks. You can brush them away when you do a WC.
 

Dennis57

Well Known
Member
Messages
1,151
Reaction score
1,130
Location
Long Island, NY
Experience
More than 10 years
Just found this, may be long but worth the read.

Brown algae can be a delicious meal or an unsightly oxygen hog, depending on the type of animal you choose to keep in your aquarium. When aquarium owners talk about "brown algae," they are actually talking about diatoms, microscopic brownish or greenish creatures with glassy skeletons. (When botanists talk about "brown algae," they are likely talking about distantly related large seaweeds.)

Understanding "Brown Algae" (Diatoms)
What do "brown algae" need to live? It's best to always remember that although diatoms can and will synthesize food using sunlight (or almost any light, for that matter), they don't need light the same way regular algae or plants need light. That is to say that the diatoms don't get energy exclusively from light itself.

Here are conditions that are beneficial to diatoms:

  • Light
  • Silicates (rocks or sand containing silica)
  • Nitrates (a waste product of aquarium life)
  • Still or stagnant water
  • Hard or mineral-rich water
The two main differences between true algae and diatoms are that regular algae do not consume silicates and that regular algae can be eradicated by eliminating either the light or the nitrates. The problem most people run into with diatoms is that no matter how long you leave the lights off, the diatoms persist. And if you were able to somehow eliminate most of the nitrates from the aquarium, the diatoms would consume silicates as well, or instead.

So the first step to getting rid of brown algae is to erase the word "algae" from your thinking about this stuff.

Step two is to make sure the tank has adequate filtration (the filter system is rated for the gallon capacity of the aquarium). The aquarist should keep in mind that many of the "hang on the back" style filters can expose the water to a very large amount of light, depending on the brand of filter and the ambient lighting in the room.

Step three is to realize that even though you may have adequate filtration, you need water movement as well to discourage diatoms. You can get water movement using products called "powerheads" or "current makers." These move the water around in the tank, accomplishing two things:

  • Diatoms aren't very strong, and they don't swim. A current maker will prevent them from anchoring anywhere, thus preventing their growth.
  • The added water movement will keep all the water in the tank filtered, instead of just a percentage.
For step four, you need to do some hands-on work with the tank. Very carefully remove all plants and ornaments from the tank, leaving only substrate (rocks or sand) and hardware (filters, heaters, and so on). Wipe the diatoms off the surfaces of the hardware and try to scrub it out of the rocks or sand to the best of your abilities. You could bleach all the plants and ornaments at this time, or you could scrub them with an abrasive sponge. Either way, get the diatoms off the plants and ornaments while they are NOT inside the tank.

Step five should be pretty obvious once you remove everything from the tank. Do a 30%-50% water change (after the hardware and substrate have been scrubbed). Then return all ornaments and plants to the aquarium.

Step six is the last step and the same as the last step on a shampoo bottle. REPEAT. Do this about every two weeks, and you'll see the diatoms bloom less each time (you should only have to do it two or three times).

If these steps don't work for your aquarium, it may be that:

  • your aquarium is exposed to too much light,
  • there's not enough water movement in the tank,
  • you keep scrubbing the diatoms off into the tank water, or
  • there are too many diatoms in the substrate.
 

andrearamirezo91

Well Known
Member
Messages
1,308
Reaction score
120
Location
Weston, Florida
Experience
5 years
Hey! I’m no expert but I had a pretty bad diatom issue a few years ago and nothing was making them go away. I threw a few otto fish and nerite snails in there and that did the job for me. They ate it all away! There might be a better route but just letting you know what worked for me.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
OP
A

Anol

New Member
Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
It kinda does, but not totally dark brown spots are left when I wipe it off. And there the danger of damaging the leaf while I wipe it so I didn't touch it
jennalynnj said:
It looks like algae. How many hours do you keep your light on? Does it wipe off with your finger?
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
OP
A

Anol

New Member
Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
The tank is 2 months old now.
How do I brush them away without damaging the plants?
kallililly1973 said:
How new is the tank and plants? They appear to be diatoms which usually show up in newer tanks. You can brush them away when you do a WC.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
OP
A

Anol

New Member
Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
How do I remove the plants without damaging them?

Dennis57 said:
Just found this, may be long but worth the read.

Brown algae can be a delicious meal or an unsightly oxygen hog, depending on the type of animal you choose to keep in your aquarium. When aquarium owners talk about "brown algae," they are actually talking about diatoms, microscopic brownish or greenish creatures with glassy skeletons. (When botanists talk about "brown algae," they are likely talking about distantly related large seaweeds.)

Understanding "Brown Algae" (Diatoms)
What do "brown algae" need to live? It's best to always remember that although diatoms can and will synthesize food using sunlight (or almost any light, for that matter), they don't need light the same way regular algae or plants need light. That is to say that the diatoms don't get energy exclusively from light itself.

Here are conditions that are beneficial to diatoms:

  • Light
  • Silicates (rocks or sand containing silica)
  • Nitrates (a waste product of aquarium life)
  • Still or stagnant water
  • Hard or mineral-rich water
The two main differences between true algae and diatoms are that regular algae do not consume silicates and that regular algae can be eradicated by eliminating either the light or the nitrates. The problem most people run into with diatoms is that no matter how long you leave the lights off, the diatoms persist. And if you were able to somehow eliminate most of the nitrates from the aquarium, the diatoms would consume silicates as well, or instead.

So the first step to getting rid of brown algae is to erase the word "algae" from your thinking about this stuff.

Step two is to make sure the tank has adequate filtration (the filter system is rated for the gallon capacity of the aquarium). The aquarist should keep in mind that many of the "hang on the back" style filters can expose the water to a very large amount of light, depending on the brand of filter and the ambient lighting in the room.

Step three is to realize that even though you may have adequate filtration, you need water movement as well to discourage diatoms. You can get water movement using products called "powerheads" or "current makers." These move the water around in the tank, accomplishing two things:

  • Diatoms aren't very strong, and they don't swim. A current maker will prevent them from anchoring anywhere, thus preventing their growth.
  • The added water movement will keep all the water in the tank filtered, instead of just a percentage.
For step four, you need to do some hands-on work with the tank. Very carefully remove all plants and ornaments from the tank, leaving only substrate (rocks or sand) and hardware (filters, heaters, and so on). Wipe the diatoms off the surfaces of the hardware and try to scrub it out of the rocks or sand to the best of your abilities. You could bleach all the plants and ornaments at this time, or you could scrub them with an abrasive sponge. Either way, get the diatoms off the plants and ornaments while they are NOT inside the tank.

Step five should be pretty obvious once you remove everything from the tank. Do a 30%-50% water change (after the hardware and substrate have been scrubbed). Then return all ornaments and plants to the aquarium.

Step six is the last step and the same as the last step on a shampoo bottle. REPEAT. Do this about every two weeks, and you'll see the diatoms bloom less each time (you should only have to do it two or three times).

If these steps don't work for your aquarium, it may be that:

  • your aquarium is exposed to too much light,
  • there's not enough water movement in the tank,
  • you keep scrubbing the diatoms off into the tank water, or
  • there are too many diatoms in the substrate.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
OP
A

Anol

New Member
Member
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
I have a pair of true siamese algae eaters, I was told they're the best for the job.
andrearamirezo91 said:
Hey! I’m no expert but I had a pretty bad diatom issue a few years ago and nothing was making them go away. I threw a few otto fish and nerite snails in there and that did the job for me. They ate it all away! There might be a better route but just letting you know what worked for me.
 

yinoma2001

Well Known
Member
Messages
510
Reaction score
222
Experience
1 year
I got 3 OTOs for my 40G Breeder and brown algae was gone from everything in my tank within a week. They are amazing cleaners.
 

yinoma2001

Well Known
Member
Messages
510
Reaction score
222
Experience
1 year
Once the brown algae was cleaned from my plants they started growing again like crazy (also got better lights but in conjunction with the OTO clean up job).
 

Dennis57

Well Known
Member
Messages
1,151
Reaction score
1,130
Location
Long Island, NY
Experience
More than 10 years
You can take out the plants and clean them with a little bit of bleach ( add bleach to a bounty towel and wipe the leaf ) Make sure to wash off the plants with water before putting them back in.
At this time, do a 50% water change, clean all the decorations, rocks, driftwood that is in the tank, and also vacuum the gravel.
I also have Nerite snails and Siamese algae eaters, who do a good job cleaning the tank.
 

Wraithen

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,365
Reaction score
1,716
Location
Colorado
Experience
3 years
The diatoms on the plants can kind of harm them. It blocks the light so they can't do as well. They will regrow though.

To remove those plants, just grab all of the leaves at once, and very gently tug from the base with a slight back and forth motion. They will come out pretty easily.

You didn't ask but I'm going to say. That fluval stratum is doing almost nothing for you. You aren't using nearly enough, and the plants aren't going to osmote most of the nutrients from it just by touching it. I think it looks nice, but it's not doing anything practicable.

Algae eaters aren't algae eaters, they are aufwuchs eaters. I don't recommend a clean up crew in a freshwater tank except for bottom feeders, snails, and shrimp. You have to feed "algae eaters" even if you have algae, and algae is usually a transient problem.
 

New Threads

Follow FishLore!

FishLore on Social Media

Online statistics

Members online
89
Guests online
2,425
Total visitors
2,514

Aquarium Photo Contests

Aquarium Calculator

Top Bottom