Struggling with Brown Diatoms
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Old 11-06-2011, 09:11 PM   #1
Golightly
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Struggling with Brown Diatoms


I've really struggled with Brown diatoms now for some time. Each time it ends with me tearing down the entire tank and redoing it. (but with mature filter, re-using some plants, rocks and sand).

I've got no other algae problems in my current setup. Only the reoccurring brown diatoms. I think my last attempt and failure was partly made worse by having too much light. I had swapped to 3 new LED units which was probably overkill (PAR 90 at substrate).

This time around I have much less light at around PAR40 and using 50% RO water, the brown diatoms are much less now, none at all on the glass which before used to get really dirty quickly. But it is coming back on the rocks making them go slightly brown and not very nice to look at.

This is my current setup:

Equipment:
Tank Volume: 50g
CO2: Drop checker is Lime Green (CO2 inline diffuser)
Temperature: 26.5c / 79f
Light: 40PAR (3x GroBeam 1000 ND LED's at 38% power)
Filter: Fluval G6 (650 gph)
PH: 6.00
Substrate: ADA Amazonia (new)


Fertilizers by Aqua Rebell:

6ml / day Makro Basic NPK
3ml / day Micro Spezial Flowgrow


Now I know a lot of people are saying that Silicates have nothing todo with Diatoms but even so.. my readings are off the chart:

SiO2 (silicate): 6+ppm
PO4: 0.02ppm

I'm really at my wits end and my last attempt now will be to use 100% RO water. But even my RO unit can't remove all the silicate, but at least it gets it down to 0.8ppm.


Any ideas or suggestions would very appreciated.
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Old 11-06-2011, 09:15 PM   #2
kevmo911
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Unless you have very sensitive fish or inverts, you can go well beyond the 30ppm that lime green indicates. In addition, if what you have is truly diatom algae, a bunch of otocinclus should fix it.
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Old 11-06-2011, 09:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevmo911 View Post
Unless you have very sensitive fish or inverts, you can go well beyond the 30ppm that lime green indicates. In addition, if what you have is truly diatom algae, a bunch of otocinclus should fix it.
CO drop checker is lime green, PH lowered by at least a whole point, probably more (from around PH7.00 to PH6.00).

I do have 4 Oto's but they can't handle it all. I'm pretty sure it's diatoms. Very brown, quite slimy but easy to clean off. I just have to take out the rocks and brush them. It's the same of stuff I get on the glass, inside all my equipment, hoses, inline heater etc.

When I first started out with a planted tank I experienced pretty much all types of algae, from GSA to Thread/hair algae.
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:07 PM   #4
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It is self limiting. It will go away in time. Ottos and and good filter maintenance, water changes, lower light and duration initially, and use carbon pad in the beginning
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:12 PM   #5
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How long do you let the diatoms stay before you tear down and start over? I have never started a new tank and not had diatoms for quite a while, but eventually they do go away on their own. My Nerite snails were always able to handle the maintenance in between, but all my tanks are 55g and below, so nothing too huge.
If I had to guess, I would say you are experiencing new tank syndrome over and over again from tearing it down and starting over. Your best bet would probably be to just let it run it's course. It will get ugly, but it's worth it in the end.
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:18 PM   #6
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I would have agreed about "new tank syndrome" but it's not really a new tank. I use a mature filter, always have 0 ammonia reading etc. Nothing new as such. It's just that I clear out the tank. Give the glass and stones a good clean. Then put it back. I also keep all the good plants but getting new if too many are badly affected and can't be trimmed.

I also clean the filter weekly, 40% water change weekly.

I use Purigen, but could try carbon I guess but didn't think that had any effect on diatoms.
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:21 PM   #7
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A lot of my tanks that go through the diatom process are not "new" they are just new to me, and the diatoms don't ever come until right when my cycle is complete and my ammo is at 0ppm. I don't know why when your tank is freshly cycled it happens, but that's how it seems to work for me. I would still just let them play themselves out. I've not yet seen a case of diatoms that wouldn't eventually go away on their own. They just talk a while and look horrid in the process lol. Good luck with your tank. =)
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:30 PM   #8
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I hope so, but it's been going on for a rather long time.

By the way, I've used Cladophora aegagropila (algae balls) in this tank layout quite a lot, both for looks but also hoping they can help combating other types of algae.. could just be a totally harebrained idea of mine though.
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:34 PM   #9
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Hmm. I don't know anything about algae balls. I've actually not heard of them lol. If I'm not mistake though, Diatoms are not a true algae and so if it is something that kills algae they may have no affect on them. I don't really know though. Someone with experience with them will have to weigh in on that one.
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:40 PM   #10
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They are very neat:

http://www.tropica.com/plants/plantd....aspx?pid=000C

But I've cut them in pieces and tied down on stones like green cushions.
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:18 AM   #11
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Ohhhhh! It's a Marimo ball lol! I don't know why that didn't occur to me when you said "algae ball". I was thinking of some plastic ball that was supposed to capture algae or something haha. I have a lot of Marimo balls. I love them. Sometimes I can be a bit dense ha..
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golightly View Post
Now I know a lot of people are saying that Silicates have nothing todo with Diatoms but even so..
I'm not one of these people. I've seen some compelling evidence that sometimes silicates can be high enough to cause diatom blooms that never go away. Saltwater hobbyists even deliberately add sodium silicate, to create controlled diatom blooms as food for their critters.

Rocks, gravel, and sand usually release an initial burst of silicates, which tapers off with time; leading to "new tank" diatoms. If you reuse these from a previous tank, even if dried and let sit for months or years, the initial diatom bloom is typically smaller or even absent.

Of course, a poor tank setup, sudden changes, or overfeeding can also induce and extend diatom blooms.

But even if none of the above are a factor, if you have a continuous source of high silicates, the diatoms will just hang around.

You already know about the silicates in your water, which you've reduced by using 50% RO water. And reduced the overall amount of diatoms in the process. Where are they still growing? On the rocks. They're releasing additional silicates, and between that and the silicates in your remaining tapwater, it's enough to trigger a limited bloom at the point where concentration is highest.

If you go to 75-100% RO, it may be enough to keep the silicates from your rocks from being an issue. Or you might get rid of the rocks. Or use an adsorbing resin, though this will adsorb phosphates as well.
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Old 11-07-2011, 04:02 AM   #13
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I think my tap water has 9 or 10ppm silicates and I haven't had a huge problem with the diatom bloom... sure it was really bad when the tank just started out.... it was over everything imagineable.... but it no longer is. Takes a few weeks to grow on the glass and start covering it, but doesn't touch the plants or substrate any longer.
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:17 AM   #14
Golightly
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkCobra View Post
I'm not one of these people. I've seen some compelling evidence that sometimes silicates can be high enough to cause diatom blooms that never go away. Saltwater hobbyists even deliberately add sodium silicate, to create controlled diatom blooms as food for their critters.

You already know about the silicates in your water, which you've reduced by using 50% RO water. And reduced the overall amount of diatoms in the process. Where are they still growing? On the rocks. They're releasing additional silicates, and between that and the silicates in your remaining tapwater, it's enough to trigger a limited bloom at the point where concentration is highest.

If you go to 75-100% RO, it may be enough to keep the silicates from your rocks from being an issue. Or you might get rid of the rocks. Or use an adsorbing resin, though this will adsorb phosphates as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by VeeSe View Post
I think my tap water has 9 or 10ppm silicates and I haven't had a huge problem with the diatom bloom... sure it was really bad when the tank just started out.... it was over everything imagineable.... but it no longer is. Takes a few weeks to grow on the glass and start covering it, but doesn't touch the plants or substrate any longer.
Yes, I've measured silicates in my tap water and it's off the chart. Even after passing it through a RO unit it's still got 0.8ppm. But maybe it's a combination then as you mentioned the tap water + rocks + sand = diatoms. Maybe the tap water on it's own would be ok but all of then together is enough to tip the weight and cause the diatoms.

Diatoms are now with 50% RO water only on the rocks. Hardly anything on the glass and none on the sand. In previous setups I've had it on the stem plants too but not sure this time yet, too early to say. But on the rocks you really notice it (It's ADA Manten Stone, no idea what that really is).

I'm going to try and lower my light to PAR 30 (Lowering the light to PAR40 really helped a lot), plus using 2/3 RO water and see how that goes. .
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