Brown algae everywhere!! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-29-2014, 01:59 AM Thread Starter
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Brown algae everywhere!!

Where do I start??? I have never experienced a problem like this before and I've been doing this for years. Every day without fail,brown algae grows and thrives in my tank. I know many people will say this is a new tank issue and I'm very familiar with that but this is not the case. This is not my first tank nor is it a new tank so I'm really looking for some serious insight here. The tank is 75 gallons and has been up for a year since an overhaul but the tank is about 4 years old. In the first couple years it was set up, it was decently planted but low light and never had brown algae. About a year ago, I redesigned the tank. I removed the flourite sand I had and replaced it with Caribsea Sea Naturals Sunset Gold sand for freshwater which is supposed to be inert. I added three large manzanita pieces to the tank, still used my 2 eheim 2217's that are well aged, an aqueon quietflow 55/75 HOB which has a 400gph flow. I only added some crypts and java fern to the tank due to me wanting the tank to be just a low maintenance tank, not really planted like it was. The lights are just the Current Satellite Freshwater+ LEDs which are not really high in PAR and should be great for the basic plants like crypts and java fern. My tank was mainly for my angels and just has basic plants added to it. The tank is not really what I would consider a planted tank compared to my others. Anyway, fast forward to today... Within a week, my glass, driftwood, and sand will be covered in brown algae. It is crazy. The tank has had this brown algae problem for the last year. I gave it months after the redesign thinking a normal bloom would be possible but we are 1 year later and the brown algae is growing like I've never seen in a tank before. I've tried scrubbing the tank completely clean and doing tons of water changes, it still occurs. I've tried backing off water changes and it still occurs. I've recently went on a new idea and tried attacking silicates which I know most say the cause of brown algae is. I've added tons of Phosguard and even tried using GFO, swapping it out every couple days. The brown algae seems to stunt for a day or so, and then just explode with growth again ruining the look of my tank. My glass will be filthy within a week and most of my sand will be covered densely in it within a two weeks. I've tried everything I know at this point, this is not a new tank issue at all. No sources on the internet seem to have any idea as to what this could be from. The last thing I've recently thought of is the substrate. I did not have the problem with the black flourite sand. Could it be the Caribsea sand that is supposed to be inert? Could it be releasing silicate into the water like crazy causing brown algae to just constantly feed and grow? At this point in time, all of my crypts have lost their leaves and java ferns have suffered due to being covered in brown algae. My parameters as of today are: pH 7.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 5ppm, Phosphate .25ppm if any (it is hard to tell on the test. It looks like 0 but I'll say .25ppm just to play it safe and say worst case scenario), KH 2, temperature 79 degrees. Please someone help me from just giving up on this tank and throwing everything related to it in the trash. I've been in this hobby a long time but I'm baffled and lost. If I forgot any details or you have further questions, please ask but all help is appreciated from any seasoned experts out there. I'm tired of band-aid fixes and no logical explanation for it, please someone help save my sanity.


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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-29-2014, 11:02 AM
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Get 10 oto cats and say goodbye to your brown algae.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-29-2014, 12:41 PM
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How long are light's on each day?What fertilizer's for growth are being used?
Any recent use of med's,algae fixes? Have you used DIY CO2 or supplement's like Excel and then stopped or used them irregularly?
Don't believe silicates play much of a roll or lot's of folk's using sand would also report algae problem's (and they don't).
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-29-2014, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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Lights are on only for 8 hours, no ferts, no meds, no co2 or supplements. Never needed to use them in the past years for a low light crypt and java fern only type tank. Otos will only touch it a bit for me but they can't clean the sand. They are only a band aid to this issue

I know brown algae is supposed to thrive on silicates and the sand isn't supposed to leech any but this scenario doesn't make any sense. I'm tempted to redo tank again and put flourite back in. Never have been baffled by a tank like this. Especially since I've never had a problem like this before, it's crazy.


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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-29-2014, 04:34 PM
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Cory cats on the bottom sift through the sand enough to keep diatoms from forming. Do you have good flow in your tank?
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-29-2014, 04:35 PM
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Well,plant's need food and may or may not get enough from fish waste/food alone.When plant's are thriving,algae has tougher time.
With little or no nutrient's, algae which need's less of what plant's need,, can thrive.
I have found that by focusing on what plant's need,I am able to observe growth rather than battling algae.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-29-2014, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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The plants are growing fine when they can grow without being covered in brown algae within days which is impossible. As soon as the crypts get covered, they melt and try to grow again.

The flow in the tank is as strong as I can probably do without stressing or blowing around my angels. The sand actually gets blown around in areas at times. There are two eheim 2217 csnisters with spray bars being used on opposite ends of tank with a large aqueon 55/75 HOB in the middle pumping another 400gph.


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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-29-2014, 06:51 PM
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I just dug myself out of a diatom mess. I have room for only 1 tank so tearing it down wasn't an option. A good experience for myself I suppose. I didn't use any herbicide because I have apistogrammas. At first I tried a blackout for 3 days. It worked great but the problem came back. After that, I just did 30-40% water changes everyday and the problem went away. Make sure to suck up as much of it as you can during the water changes. I did this for two week straight with a break of 2 days in between for my own sake.

I think my problem was excess nitrates since according to my city's water report, there isn't that much silica. This tank had already been setup for several months already before this happened so it was already established.


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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-30-2014, 03:20 AM Thread Starter
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I've tried tons of water changes and literally scrubbing and removing every last bit of it numerous times. It always returns, it literally never goes away as if something is actively causing it.


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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-30-2014, 10:39 AM
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have the same problem. I don't think anyone can help you on here considering i made a post about it and none of the advice really worked. i don't think your substrate has anything to do with it because i'm using dirt capped with floramax and i'm having the same problem. I used to have 2 t5's on my tank but i took out one bulbs today so i only have 1 t5 54w as lighting, well see how things goes from here. Try messing with your lighting, dim it, shorten the photoperiod. Anyways heres my post if you want to check it out.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=618337
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-30-2014, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowmilkcandy View Post
have the same problem. I don't think anyone can help you on here considering i made a post about it and none of the advice really worked. i don't think your substrate has anything to do with it because i'm using dirt capped with floramax and i'm having the same problem. I used to have 2 t5's on my tank but i took out one bulbs today so i only have 1 t5 54w as lighting, well see how things goes from here. Try messing with your lighting, dim it, shorten the photoperiod. Anyways heres my post if you want to check it out.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=618337

I and other's attempted to help.
You seem to be of a mind that fertilizer's cause algae while those who run higher light CO2 injected tank's dump fertilizer's in every other day and they have no algae or very little.
Plant's need food,CO2.
If lighting drives the demand for food,CO2 past what is available ,then algae which need's much less of evrything will thrive.
If one cannot increase the amount of CO2 that light causes demand for,and one can't/won't feed the plant's sufficient food,then plant's struggle and algae thrives.
Cannot place too much light over low tech ,NON CO2,non fertilized tank without incurring algae,lot's of folk's try.(I have )
In higher lighting, high tech tank,CO2 and food for plant's are in high demand, Same thing can/does still happen. Folk's run uber lighting and cannot get flow,distribution dialed in, or cannot increase CO2 for fear of gassing fish but plant's are demanding more of everything due to lighting which drives everything.
They too could reduce lighting and thereby reduce demand from plant's but is hard to move folk's off their lighting which may cost big$$$$ so they spot treat,use chemical media,reduce fertz, dip their plant's,scrub hardscapes,perform water changes,blackout's,etc.(problem persist's/return's).
Decreasing that which drives the demand (light) work's well in both low tech.high tech if one has a little patience,but folk's want result's right now ,in much the same way they want fish med's to work right now.
Fish/plant's seldom get sick overnight,and cure does not happen overnight.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-30-2014, 11:53 AM
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Yeah I dimmed my lights and checked my fertilizer dose again. I had to redo my dose because I made a multiplication error.

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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-30-2014, 11:56 AM
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Have you ever done a silicate test on your tank water or water source? How old is your light?
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-30-2014, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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I have not done a silicate test, but I've used multiple silicate removers in the tank trying to remove any if there is but it still occurs.It did seem to slow down when I started using the removers but its now right back at its old pace even as I keep replacing the silicate removing media. The LED fixture is only a few months old.


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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-30-2014, 03:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
I and other's attempted to help.
You seem to be of a mind that fertilizer's cause algae while those who run higher light CO2 injected tank's dump fertilizer's in every other day and they have no algae or very little.
Plant's need food,CO2.
If lighting drives the demand for food,CO2 past what is available ,then algae which need's much less of evrything will thrive.
If one cannot increase the amount of CO2 that light causes demand for,and one can't/won't feed the plant's sufficient food,then plant's struggle and algae thrives.
Cannot place too much light over low tech ,NON CO2,non fertilized tank without incurring algae,lot's of folk's try.(I have )
In higher lighting, high tech tank,CO2 and food for plant's are in high demand, Same thing can/does still happen. Folk's run uber lighting and cannot get flow,distribution dialed in, or cannot increase CO2 for fear of gassing fish but plant's are demanding more of everything due to lighting which drives everything.
They too could reduce lighting and thereby reduce demand from plant's but is hard to move folk's off their lighting which may cost big$$$$ so they spot treat,use chemical media,reduce fertz, dip their plant's,scrub hardscapes,perform water changes,blackout's,etc.(problem persist's/return's).
Decreasing that which drives the demand (light) work's well in both low tech.high tech if one has a little patience,but folk's want result's right now ,in much the same way they want fish med's to work right now.
Fish/plant's seldom get sick overnight,and cure does not happen overnight.
This is very well said! It's all about finding the right balance of light and nutrients for your particular tank.

I haven't seen your tank, but it sounds like you have very few plants relative to your light, and they are slow growers/consumers.
What finally worked for me was nerite snails and adding more plants/CO2. 1 snail ate all the brown algae off of every surface of my 20 gallon over about 2 weeks, and more plants plus CO2 stopped it from coming back.


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