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Attack of brown diatom algae

5074 Views 13 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  pauliewoz
I have read many, many threads and articles on this algae. The first and most important fact is that this type of algae is prevelant in new tanks. Mine completed cycling about 2 months ago. Here is my setup:

45g planted tanks
Fluval 406
Ph 7.6
Temp 78
Gh 7
Kh 5
Ferts PPS-pro
Lights: Finnex Ray2 - 6 hrs (3 on/3off/3on)
Co2 pressurized Approx 20ppm

So because I'm using the PPS-Pro method, I am doing 50% W/C every week. It's a pain cause I'm using 75/25 RO/TAP.
I have added 14 Nerite Snails (It was all that Petco had) and 2 Otocinclus to help combat this recent outbreak. I had read that a good frame of reference is 1 snail per gallon of water. That is insane! First, they are $3ea. I'm not paying $135 for 45 snails. Not to mention that I will have to keep them alive afterwards or take a loss by giving them back.

Still, even knowing that this algae will subside on its own, I can't stand to see it all over the substrate, walls, plants, lily pipes, heater, etc. I want it gone or at least under control. I'm not prepared to treat my tank chemically. This is not hair algae or some other problematic strain. I just want to do what I can to help my plants have a chance. I do worry that if the plants get to covered, they could die, hence why I'm trying the snails and Ottos.

I was originally running my lights for 9 hours straight each day but I've also read that a tank with just small starter plants don't need that long of a photoperiod. I guess it's understandable how a 45g tank with just 8 small clippings are not going to consume all of the available energy and nutrients. Just not sure what else I can do at this point.
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Bad water flow, excess light, and a new tank with few plants and large amounts of ammonia, is an almost surefire trigger for algae a short bit down the road.
The good news is it will subside, and pond snails, plecos or ottos would also speed that up a bit.
Brown diatoms in my experience is easily controlled by using a cleanup crew. Amano shrimps, Ottocinclus and SAE. I mean a lot of them. They cleaned my tank of these diatoms while it was still cycling.
In just a couple of days the 12 Nerites and 2 Ottos have already made a huge impact. The heater. Lily pipes, glass walls and even some of the plants are clean. The substrate is the only thing that really hasn't been touched yet. Will monitor.
I'm seriously frustrated people. Over this past week, the algae has become exponentially worse. I'm at a loss. Let me start with my fertilization regime. I'm using PPS-Pro. While reading the instructions again this week, I discovered that the suggested dose was based on a "heavily planted" tank. I immediately scaled the dose back to 1/4 of what I was using. Despite this cutback, the algae is getting worse. What is hard to understand is why, when I test for nitrates, I'm measuring approx 10ppm. PO4 is measuring zero. How the hell s that even possible? I even went as far as to create a calibration fluid for both NO3 and PO4 to make sure my test kits were okay.

I'm running CO2 at about 25ppm. I have good flow. I'm doing a 50% W/C every week. What else? I now have a total total of 19 Nerite Snails, 2 Ottos and several shrimp. What is surprising is how difficult this algae is to get off leaves. I tried a toothbrush tonight on some of the leaves and literally could not get this fuzzy crap off. I'm wondering why the clean up crew isn't removing it either.

So to date, I've spent $55 on plants bought from other members. I ordered another $35 from Adam C yesterday. I just don't know if I should keep adding more plants. Am I just wasting money? I'm out of ideas. Probably have over $1500 into my little planted tank adventure and have nothing to show for it but frustration.
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Raise you light and do a good cleaning including the filter.
More likely BBA

I've been doing a lot of reading over the past several days including some threads by Hoppy and Tom Barr discussing problem algae. Clearly an age old problem. Very good reading though and I have come to one clear conclusion. I have too much light in my tank. I consider the 3 bigs to be light, nutrients and CO2. Of the three though, light (in excess) is the leading culprit of algae.

When I set up this freashwater planted tank (my first btw) I wanted the best of everything. GLA CO2, GLA ferts, and the brightest LED light I could find. The Ray2 does what it says it does. Provides bright white (and white only) light at PARs near 50 at the bottom of my 21" deep tank. The problem here is that, with only 8 starter clippings, that is a lot of excess energy being wasted and being made available to algae. It will make no difference whether I raise my CO2 to 80ppm if there is nothing in the tank to absorb it. The dropper at greenish yellow, ferts dosed daily and a lot of light and still strong algae growth. Something has to give. I originally had the lights on for 10 hours. Then 8. Now I've been doing 6 hours with a 3 hour break in the middle. IMO, I believe the next thing to try is either replace the Ray2 with a Planted Plus (or equivalent) or diffuse the light in some manner. Perhaps a layer of toilet paper. I can't raise it. The fixture itself sits directly on the glass. I'm not sure if toilet paper between two pieces of glass is safe or not. Seeking suggestions on this.

I believe the algae type is BBA based on comparisons I've seen. Today I removed most of these newly rooted plants and sprayed them with H202 outside the tank. a last ditch effort to remove most of this before more new plants arrive Tuesday. I am not one to give up but I can certainly see why so so many people do. The last thing I wanted to do was start a hobby where I literally killed the inhabitants. Sigh.....
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I believe the algae type is BBA based on comparisons I've seen.
BBA and brown diatoms are two completely different algae. Best to do a proper id.
Brown diatoms for me are very easily controlled. Mine's a 3 footer, 150 liters. When I had brown diatoms, I added ten Amano shrimps, ten Ottos, 3 SAEs. Less than 3 days, there was no more diatoms and never to be seen again.

BBA however is an ongoing battle for me, so I'll let others chime in.

Regards to ferts - my comment is I think you're on the right track about lights, nutrients and CO2. Assuming you are supplying all the NPK + Trace it needs. And the CO2 is sufficient at 25ppm. About lights, the guideline of 8-10 hours photoperiod is the norm - reducing only to combat algae outbreak, but otherwise returned back to 8-10 hours.

But you mentioned you only have 8 clippings? I would say this is the hammer. Plant it heavily, add some quick growers too. During cycling its normal to have algae, but it needs to be controlled.
I was also battling BBA in my previous tank. And the only thing that helped me was a Siamese Algae Eater. I know that adding a fish to help with algae is not the best solution but I just couldn't deal with it anymore. It took less than a week for two SAE to take care of it in a 25 gallon.

I now have one SAE left in my 75 and I haven't had to deal with BBA yet.. knock on wood.

The other one jumped out of the tank, so if you do get some, make sure you have a cover be they love to jump.

Just make sure that they are true SAE and not a flying fox or a Chinese algae eater.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
Thank you for the replies. I understand there is a big difference between brown diatom and BBA. I believe I had both. As you said, the brown is easily controlled. I bought Amano shrimp, two Otocinclus, and 15 Nerite Snails. After adding the cleanup crew, the majority of the algae cleared immediately. What is left are these small patches of dense short tufts, mostly accumulated on the Java Fern, but also some patches on the Bacopa Caroliniana. None of the cleanup crew will touch these. As I mentioned last night, I took out some of these plants and sprayed them with hydrogen peroxide and let them sit for approximately one minute. Then I rinsed them with RO and put them back in my tank. The plants that I sprayed last night look much better today. Not all of the patches came off but the majority did; especially where it was sparse. I am going to look for one of these Siamese algae eaters that I've heard others mention as well. Apparently it is hit and miss with these fish but I will certainly try it if it will work.

I have decided to halve the fertilizers until the cause of the algae can be determined and brought under control. As User Aqbil stated, eight clippings with no roots would be likely considered having virtually no plants at all. When I took out the Ludwigia last night to spray them, both of the plants already had a substantial root growing. Hopefully I did not make matters worse by uprooting them. They looked so bad though, I believe they would have likely perished within a month or so due to all the leaves being covered in BBA. I am due to receive another 25 clippings tomorrow and I'm hoping this will make an impact.

Is there anyone out there that can provide some guidance on diffusing the light that this Ray2 puts out? When I bought the Ray2, it was based on the advice of a Finnex rep that told me it was the strongest light available to reach the bottom of my 24 inch tank. He didn't lie but I am finding that this light is much too strong for what I have in the tank right now. I am going to order the Planted Plus and hold on to the Ray2 until I have enough plants in my tank to absorb all that light. Again, i'm just not sure if I will start a fire by using toilet paper in between the Ray2 and the glass of the tank.
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Is there anyone out there that can provide some guidance on diffusing the light that this Ray2 puts out
in the past, i have taken a piece of plexiglass or regular glass, cut it to the size of the underside of the light, and sprayed it with window frosting. i would do a very light coat at first, then if you need more diffusion add more light coats until you are satisfied

if your light gets fairly warm, i would go with regular glass as plexi can warp.

attatch however you see fit, wire ties, thin metal wire wraped around, diy mounting hardware ect.
If you have a glass cover on top of the aquarium you can put window screening on top of it. Or maybe a fluorescent light diffuser.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
I hadn't considered window screen. I wonder what % of the light would be reduced. I'm thinking maybe up to 50%.
I tried the screening once and I'd say for me it was somewhere between 30-45 ℅ dimmer.

It doesn't cost much and if you need more light dimmed you can just double it.

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