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Brown diatoms

Discussion in 'Algae' started by KatieK, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. KatieK

    KatieK Aspiring Aquascaper

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
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    40
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    I need help. I have a terrible case of brown diatoms (but when is it ever a good case?!). I've done some research and have found a few causes:
    • Silicates
    • Phosphates
    • Too much/poor quality fish food
    • Lack of light
    My tank has been set up since the beginning of September.
    • 33 gal tank
    • Aquatop filter - 370 gals/hr
    • Using the AquaVitro line of fertilizer from SeaChem. Dose 3x a week
    • Current LED lights - 2000 lumens 8 hrs/day
    • Currently running CO2
    • 50% water change every week
    What other tank details do I need to include?

    I've done a little research on how to get rid of the diatomes. Remove the silicates, i.e. Use RO water. I don't want to run to the fish store every week and then have to mess around with adding all the minerals back in.
    The one I'm most intrigued about is the phosphate removal pads. You stick them in your filter and change them about every two weeks. I also tried researching to see if sandstone releases silicates into the water, but didn't came back with anything definitive.

    The out break is getting pretty bad. It has turned into "hair" brown diatoms, big long strings. I scrub a lot of the surfaces throughout the week, but it doesn't take long for everything to be covered again.

    I can happily provide pictures tomorrow; the lights are off for the day right now.

    Katie
     
  2. chiangstar

    chiangstar Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Location:
    Sydney
    Hi Katie

    I recently had a brown diatom problem. I read all the sites on how to get rid of it and tried so many things, but the thing that worked for me was cutting the light. I simply turned my lights off for 4 or 5 days and I let my SAE's and Oto's go to work cleaning up. Of course remove as much as you can to start with and do a water change and continue your water changes, but I turned the lights back on after a few days and couldn't believe how green my plants were once again.

    I explained more in my tank journal (link in my signature - page 3). If you have any questions about how I got rid of it, ask away

    Cheers

    Simon
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2013
    keithgh likes this.
  3. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    Simon

    That sounds like a KIS method that actually works and the cost ZERO

    Keith:):)
     
  4. KatieK

    KatieK Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Aug 23, 2013
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    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    Hey Simon,

    I did a three day blackout not too long ago because I had BGA. While it did reduce the diatomes temporarily, it has come back with a vengeance.

    I read your journal. Before you did the blackout, you raised your lights up. I've been wondering if I have too much light on my tank. I've been thinking about how to raise the lights, because right now they are sitting right on the frame of the tank because I have a hood. Other than attaching the lights to the hood, which seems like logistical nightmare, I'm not sure what to do.

    I'm not quite sure I want to get anymore fish, either. I don't think I'm at maximum capacity right now, but I like the group I have. I, especially, don't know how I feel about buying fish just to eat the algae/diatoms. I have 2, possibly 3 ghost shrimp and 1 nerite snail. Thanks to the last blackout, all my MTS died for some reason.

    I guess I just don't know what to do in general.

    Katie
     
  5. Solcielo lawrencia

    Solcielo lawrencia Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Location:
    CA, USA
    Diatoms are caused by persistently low levels of ammonia caused by an immature biofilter. This is why it usually goes away on its own without any intervention once the biofilter is capable of converting all ammonia.

    It's not caused by excess silicates, high or low light, phosphates, or fish food (at least not directly). I have a slight diatom outbreak since I changed the filter to the same one you're using, and AquaTop DF-300. Only a few bioballs have been seeded from the previous filter so it's not capable of handling all the waste from the goldfishes.
     
  6. chiangstar

    chiangstar Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Location:
    Sydney
    Hi Katie,

    Regardless of what the interweb says the causes of diatoms are, my experience is that they are sustained by things like insufficient CO2 concentration and excessive light. You made the comment about me raising my lights. After all was said and done, I believe that raising the lights had minimal effect - in fact, most things had minimal effect ... until I turned the lights off. So if you cant raise your lights, dont worry too much about it.

    The way I see it (and I may be totally wrong), there are a few ways to quickly get rid of the algae once you have managed to contain the growth of the beast. You can either remove it manually, let it decompose, or get something to eat it. Removing it manually posed too much of a problem for me as I didnt want to have to scrub everything (plants, rocks, substrate) and then do water changes to get the spores out of the water. Letting it decompose seemed silly since it would take time to do and I didnt have the luxury of time in leaving my lights off for any extended period (otherwise things would die). So lastly I figured that if I manage to kill the algae, the only way to remove it from the tank efficiently was to get something to eat it while the algae growth rates were minimised. If you are not willing to get fish to eat the algae, then hopefully something else works for you.

    In my particular case, I suffered from brown diatoms in my last tank for a period of maybe 11 months. So maybe it was caused by an immature biofilter, but it sure was sustained by something else since I'm pretty sure my biofilter was not immature after 11 months. I never actually got to the bottom of it before tearing down that tank. This time around, I was determined to get to the bottom of it. I, too, started my current tank in September (I think) and my diatoms persisted until I made the decision to perform the blackout and use fish to remove algae. I believe that it is one thing to stop the growth of the diatoms, but then it is one thing to remove them from the water column - and using SAE's and Oto's did the trick for me. Maybe it will work for you... maybe something else completely will work for you. Whatever it is, keep at it because the satisfaction when you turn that light on and your plants are green instead of brown... its priceless.

    I'm only speaking from my experience and something completely different might be the cause of your problems.

    Cheers

    Simon
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2013

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