Diatoms/brown Algae

Kalyke

I have been struggling with diatoms/brown algae for months. Everything I read says it is the silicates in my water. Okay, I am struggling to see how this works. First of all, I have 2 tanks, both the same age as far as the biofilter, I started the second tank with the filter media of the first tank. They both use exactly the same water-- the water that has so-called silicates in it. And yet, only one tank has brown algae. So the whole silicates explanation is rather ridiculous. So, the only difference in the 2 tanks is, the one that is at low light and has slower growing plants does not have brown algae, the tank that has medium light has faster-growing plants, and it has brown algae. This means the rate of growth of the plants has nothing to do with brown algae. Since I have shrimp in the low light tank, I hardly ever clean it, and yet, there is no brown algae, while the tank I clean a lot has brown algae.


Are there any other explanations for brown algae?
 

JaksAquatics

shrimp love algae
 

Kalyke

shrimp love algae
There are not that many shrimp in there, like 8. maybe 10. I have nerite snails and a pleco in the tank I clean a lot, and they barely eat any of it.
 

angelcraze

I have mild diatoms in my tanks. But nerite snails, neo shrimp and/or BN plecos demolish them. Your observations are interesting though, I was always told low light causes them.
 

BettaNgold

I am having the same issue with a tank that is about 5 weeks old. It’s a goldfish tank so only a couple of Amazon swords and an Anubis’s plant. Rest of plants are fake so not the plants. The brown algae only shows up after I do weekly tank cleaning. By next day it is all over the fake plants and sides of tank. I scrape it off and it stays away until next cleaning. So it has to have something to do with the fresh water change.
 

fjh

Your shrimp and snail are likely eating some of it. Bright light for extended periods will also cause diatoms to grow faster. If you can, keep the light dimmed or off for a few days and move the snail and some shrimp to that tank. It should help. Also if you have access to RO/DI water, a few WCs with that should help after scrubbing off the existing diatoms.
 

Kalyke

I'm changing my cleaning method. I have been using this HOB type thing that sucks the water up and then filters it and then sends it back like an HOB. I am thinking it is just sending the diatoms back. (I don't know, that is a theory). I am going to use more of a python style cleaner where the water is not recycled back into the tank. That might work. I also bought some even faster growing plants (ludwigia) and I am hoping it can out-compete the algae, but I am not holding my breath. I probably just wasted all that money.
 

Kalyke

Your shrimp and snail are likely eating some of it. Bright light for extended periods will also cause diatoms to grow faster. If you can, keep the light dimmed or off for a few days and move the snail and some shrimp to that tank. It should help. Also if you have access to RO/DI water, a few WCs with that should help after scrubbing off the existing diatoms.

So are you saying you think they both have diatoms and that 8 shrimp (and no snails) are eating all the diatoms (algae) in the tank without, and the pleco and 15 nerite snails are not eating the diatoms (algae) in the tank with? That is an interesting theory. The "high light" is actually just medium light. It is for Amazon Swords.

How about using Seachem Phosguard?
I have phosguard in the filter, I have been using if for a few months and have seen absolutely no change. (I forgot to add that to the original post).
 

yinoma2001

I have phosguard in the filter, I have been using if for a few months and have seen absolutely no change. (I forgot to add that to the original post).
Oh dang. I was about to get some for my own brown algae issues (though it seems to be going down in my tank...it's about 2.5 months old).
 

Kalyke

Oh dang. I was about to get some for my own brown algae issues (though it seems to be going down in my tank...it's about 2.5 months old).

Yeah. Sorry to say, I am not impressed. And also, since I had the 2 tanks to compare (if you read the whole post) and one has no diatoms, and one has diatoms. They both have exactly the same water. So the phosguard taking phosphate or silicates out of the water is not effective in my case. Now, you, I don't know. Maybe it would work with your water? Maybe you have phosphates in your water? I get my water from the "High Plains Aquifer."

I just took out all the largest plants, washed them, and put them back. it was sad because the roots were so well established.
 

Donthemon

Do both tanks have the same substrate? I have two tanks, one with sand and the other gravel. The sand has had diatoms but not the one with the gravel. I believe the silicates in the sand caused it....
 

Vishaquatics

In my personal experience, diatoms appear for two reasons.

1) Silicates in the sand. This is a temporary issue.
2) Imbalanced High light

Number 1 is usually the most common. Number 2 is more likely in your situation. If you have a high light tank without CO2 AND no proper fertilization, it's likely to have algae issues. What type of plants do you have in the high light tank? Are you fertilizing your plants at all? If so, what type of fertilizer and how often/how much?

If you're not using fertilizers, I recommend using Thrive by NilocG or use the NilocG EI starter pack for dry ferts. Your plants need proper nutrition to properly grow. Diatoms on the plant leaves are usually signs of plant weakness due to lack of proper nutrition. Also, try dialing back the light. Try a split photo period. (Ex: 4 hours on, two off, 4 hours on, rest of night is off).
 

Vishaquatics

No sand in either tank. No High Light in either tank.
Tank with diatoms: Carib Sea Eco-Complete, and Seachem Flourite . Plants: Amazon Swords. Medium light.
Tank without diatoms: Fluval Stratum mixed with some Seachem Flourite. Plants: Anubias, java fern, some aponogentons.
Fertilized by Osmacote home made root tabs in 00 sized jellcaps.

Thank you. I'm sure this is an easy fix. Diatoms are easily wipeable from the surfaces they attach to. First, wipe off as many diatoms as you possibly can with your fingers. Do a huge, 75-80% water change.

Then split your photoperiod. Use a timer to make the photoperiod on for 4 hours, off for three hours, then on again for another 4 hours. Then the rest of the night off. Total photoperiod is 8 hours, but is split. This worked for me on lowtech tanks when dealing with diatom issues.

If the diatom issue comes back, continue to wipe them off with your fingers and perform massive water changes. The problem ideally should go away in two weeks or less if the photoperiod is adjusted and the diatoms are removed all at once.
 

Kalyke

I'll just lower the light. Splitting the photoperiod sounds like a difficult way to do something simple.
 

angelcraze

I use a siesta in tanks with algae if they are LED. Works like a charm just saying.
 

Kalyke

I understand, but logically I am not seeing it. Why not turn them on later, and off earlier. Same time period. Having them off and on like that is bound to mess with the fish's circadian rhythms, which might lead to stress and sickness. The plants will also be confused I am sure. It goes against everything I know about biology. However, I appreciate that you are giving your input. I am sure if this was an easy problem, no one would have brown algae.
 

angelcraze

Ok, you have a point. I wasn't expecting that when you said it sounded difficult lol. Yes I've thought about that, but a 2 hour siesta really doesn't seem to affect my fish in the slightest and cleaned up all the algae. Totally your decision of course!

The idea of a split photoperiod is to not give algae a chance for photosynthesis. Plants resume photosynthesis faster than algae, so with the lights on for only 3hrs (for ex) then off, the algae has to start all over again for the next series of light, whereas plants can just take a break, resume photosynthesis and complete it.
 

Kalyke

Ok, you have a point. I wasn't expecting that when you said it sounded difficult lol. Yes I've thought about that, but a 2 hour siesta really doesn't seem to affect my fish in the slightest and cleaned up all the algae. Totally your decision of course!

The idea of a split photoperiod is to not give algae a chance for photosynthesis. Plants resume photosynthesis faster than algae, so with the lights on for only 3hrs (for ex) then off, the algae has to start all over again for the next series of light, whereas plants can just take a break, resume photosynthesis and complete it.

I take your point. However what paradigm are you working from? Typical photosynthesis is cumulative. Plants obviously do not die when it gets dark at night, neither does brown algae. It is actually nitrogen fixation methods that create the sugars that plants use as fuel. Photons and phototrophic cells are only part of the recipe. Brown algae are not plants however, they are not even algae, so I am not sure what the proper way to look at them is. Anyway, I am reading this before I make up my mind.

As I am looking at this, I am thinking back that the diatoms may have started when I got better lights in an attempt to grow higher light plants. When all the anubias was in the tank, I did not have algae of any kind.

As I am looking at this, I am thinking back that the diatoms may have started when I got better lights in an attempt to grow higher light plants. When all the anubias was in the tank, I did not have algae of any kind.
And as that paper starts out, diatom blooms occur when "spring comes" which could mean either photoperiod, or light intensity, or both.

(sorry, I thought I was editing, not quoting).
 

angelcraze

So algae photosynthesis is cumulative you are saying? They are not plants, not algae, but still photosynthetic (if that's a word). I have to look more into this, you are over my head haha.

What are Diatoms? - Diatoms of North America

I'm going to start with your link.
 

Fishdad85

One of my 55 gal tanks is being plagued with diatoms and I'm looking for advise on how to keep this stuff form coming back. The tank parameters are ph 7.5 ammonia 0ppm, nitiates 0ppm, nitrates are 2ppm. Gh is 11. I do weekly water changes of 15% with a monthly 40% change using my python siphon setup. I make sure the gravel is vacuumed, ornaments are taken out and cleaned as well as scrubbing the glass. I should mention I fill up a large plastic container a few days before my water change to treat the new water and let it gas off. I then use a power head and hose to transfer the water to the tank. My temp run 77 degrees and I'm using a fluval full spectrum light with a timer of 9 hours on since there are plants in the tank. For the first 2 days the tank looks pristine then overnight the growth just explodes. The tank is well established at a year and a half. What could be causing this explosive growth and how can I kill it lol

I forgot to mention the filter is a fluval xl6 canister filter at 960 gph using bio media, filter floss, sponges and carbon filters
 

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Dunk2

Try reducing the amount of time your light is on each day.
 

Fishdad85

Ok, how long can I run it and still keep the frogbit and Anubis plants healthy?
 

Dunk2

Try cutting back to 6 hours/day for a few weeks. You may also want to put 3 or 4 Nerite snails in your tank.
 

Fishdad85

I'll try the lights that short thank you. I've done the snails, had 15 in there but unfortunately my convict cichlid found a taste for them
 

Dunk2

I'll try the lights that short thank you. I've done the snails, had 15 in there but unfortunately my convict cichlid found a taste for them

Yep, forget about the snails!

Another question. . . Are you using any fertilizer?
 

Jaquatic

From my experience that does not look like diatoms.

Diatoms are usually more of a brown film/slime coating that can easily be rubbed off with fingers
 

Fishdad85

Diatoms are usually more of a brown film/slime coating that can easily be rubbed off with fingers
What could it be? It is very easy to wipe off

Another question. . . Are you using any fertilizer?
I use API co2 booster since I don't inject and I use seachem flourish once a week
 

Jaquatic

Maybe it’s just the picture but it looks dark red and slightly hairy/brush like. Every tank I have set up has had bad diatoms at the start and was always brown.

Any diatoms I have seen in person were never brush like.
 

Fishdad85

Maybe it’s just the picture but it looks dark red and slightly hairy/brush like. Every tank I have set up has had bad diatoms at the start and was always brown.

Any diatoms I have seen in person were never brush like.
Its probably the picture, the full spectrum light messes with my camera. The tank is over a year established and this process has been ongoing a while
 

Jaquatic

So in person it is dark brown?
 

Dunk2

Maybe it’s just the picture but it looks dark red and slightly hairy/brush like. Every tank I have set up has had bad diatoms at the start and was always brown.

Any diatoms I have seen in person were never brush like.

I now see what your seeing in the picture. But I don‘t know if it’s just the picture.

OP. . , Better picture?
 

Fishdad85

I now see what your seeing in the picture. But I don‘t know if it’s just the picture.

OP. . , Better picture?
Took this out just now. Dint mind the pizza box
 

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Jaquatic

Not trying to be a pain but are you able to take a picture of it under water without the lens correcting the lighting? Just looks like a wet rock in the two photos
 

Fishdad85

Not trying to be a pain but are you able to take a picture of it under water without the lens correcting the lighting? Just looks like a wet rock in the two photos
Lol I'll try my best to get you a good underwater photo

Not trying to be a pain but are you able to take a picture of it under water without the lens correcting the lighting? Just looks like a wet rock in the two photos
Under the lights it has a red hue but out of the tank lights it's a darker brown looking. There is some green alge trying to form as well. The other picture is it wiped off with a paper towel
 

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Jaquatic

Okay. Still don’t think it’s diatoms. Unless there was a change in your tap water like more silicates present.

1. It looks brush/hairy
2. Fairly uncommon to get diatoms in an establish tank.


Can you remember when you first saw this algae and what you may have started doing differently or added to the tank? Like fish, plants, rocks ect?
 

Fishdad85

I first noticed it really bad when I added the full spectrum light about a month ago. My water is public that's why I add it to a bin then treat it and let it gas off a day or two before it goes into the tank
 

Jaquatic

You could do what others said and shorten your photo period but it’s not really solving your problem since the tank is establish. Are you able to adjust the colour of the light or intensity?

Do you have any floating plants? Salvini,duckweed,hornwort? There may not be enough competition for the algae in your tank. Nearly all fast growing plants will reduce the effects of algae. Unless it truly is an over abundance of diatoms.
 

Fishdad85

You could do what others said and shorten your photo period but it’s not really solving your problem since the tank is establish. Are you able to adjust the colour of the light or intensity?

Do you have any floating plants? Salvini,duckweed,hornwort? There may not be enough competition for the algae in your tank. Nearly all fast growing plants will reduce the effects of algae. Unless it truly is an over abundance of diatoms.
The tank has java moss, java ferns, Amazon swords, frogbit , and water lettuce but the floaters can't seem to stay a good coverage because the convict cichlid loves to eat them

I believe I can adjust the intensity of the light as well. I really appreciate the help
 

Dunk2

I first noticed it really bad when I added the full spectrum light about a month ago. My water is public that's why I add it to a bin then treat it and let it gas off a day or two before it goes into the tank
I first noticed it really bad when I added the full spectrum light about a month ago. My water is public that's why I add it to a bin then treat it and let it gas off a day or two before it goes into the tank

This makes me think it is a lighting issue.

As I suggested yesterday, I’d try cutting back your light time to 5 - 6 hours each day and see what happens.

Sometimes figuring these things out is a process of elimination.
 

Fishdad85

I'll try that and lower its intensity. Thanks for all your help
 

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