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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone I could really use your help.

I have had this up for 4 months and diatoms have been a problem since day one. I know that diatoms are to be expected in a new set ups but I actually tore down this tank and started a new because of the diatoms. Here are my tank parameters;

8.5 gal
8 watts LED
dose EI
San Francisco tap water
water changes treated with;
DoAqua! Be-clear 6ml
DoAqua! Be-fine 3ml
Seachem Acid Regulator ~1/16 tsp
Aqua Vitro Mineralize 3ml
Phosphates off the charts at 10ppm
According to SF water report Silica averages at 4.1ppm
6 red tetras
ADA Amazonia Soil
CO2 with green drop checker

I also seem to constantly have a film at the surface of the tank and if I increase surface agitation then it forms bubbles. I am curious if anyone else out there is using SF tap water and if they are having similar issues.

Solutions I have tried. Seachem's Phosguard works fairly well but only lasts a short period of time. I have tried Otos but they all seem to die within a day or two. I do not want to invest the money and effort in a RO water system, I do live in a rental after all. Is there any other solution besides getting distilled water from the store?

Any advise and help is so graciously appreciated. Thank you!


 

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Scrape off as much as you can during water changes (do more of them). Feed the fish less?
I don't know anything about the tap out there, hopefully someone else will chime in for you. I have diatoms in my newer tank at the moment and it seems to decrease for a while after water changes / manual removal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the advise. You are right, it looks better after the w/c's but this is what I've been doing for months. Scrubbing everything down with a toothbrush and wiping down the glass.

It is actually killing all of my plants because they cover all of the leaves and the plants can no longer photosynthesize. Short of scrubbing down every single leaf I am at a loss of what to do.
 

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Nerites are a good idea. You will almost never find a "solution" to controlling diatoms that doesn't involve something that eats them - they simply thrive in certain kinds of water. For example, my water makes diatoms extremely happy, to the point where they bloom after large water changes. I'm not sure what does it - silica is the main suspect, but there may be other factors at play. (Personally, I suspect alkalinity, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus all have roles in diatom growth.)

Other things I would consider thinking about:

How long are the lights on and how much PAR are you getting for the plants you have? LEDs vary greatly in light output. It's possible that you have too much or too little light.

Full EI dosing is intended to support fast growth in high light, CO2-injected tanks. Your plants aren't growing well, so it's possible that they aren't using up nutrients efficiently, leaving more for the diatoms to feast on. You may be overdosing your tank for your plants' current needs. Also, EI dosing includes phosphate, so it's not much of a wonder that phosphorus-absorbing resin wore out quickly.

I'm also wondering if you need all those supplements, especially on top of EI dosing. They might be great if your plants were thriving and growing like weeds, but at this point, I'm not convinced they're helpful.
 

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In my opinion, your water supply is the problem. 4.1ppm silicate content is unacceptable and your phosphates are also way too high. You could try Seachem Phosguard filter medium for the moment. It removes silicates and phosphates.

But somehow you need to change to a silicate free water source.
RO water is an option, but perhaps you can catch rain water?

For clearing your plants you can try food grade peroxide (3%). Take a 5 mL syringe, fill it with (undiluted) peroxide and squirt it all over the plant.

If the stuff is on rocks then don't scrape it off. You don't kill diatoms that way. You only disperse them.
Squirt them with peroxide, or take the rocks out and dip them in bleach. Don't forget to rinse them properly afterwards.

Oh yes . . . ,
Go easy on the fertilisers. At the moment you are mostly feeding the diatoms.
 

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I am no expert but I had the same problem. I reduced the length of time my lights were on and purchased a portable RO/DI unit on CL, It just attaches to my sink tap and I fill 5 gal water jugs with it. I have a well and I am surrounded by farm land so my H20 probably has all kind of stuff in it. (it tastes good to me tho).

Water change and reducing my light hours and intensity cleared the diatoms for me in 48 hours, it was amazing.

good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks everyone for all the great info

To answer some questions

I knew that I had so much phosphates in my water that I did not add them to my EI solutions.

DoAqua! Be-clear - from their website "Tiny particles included in be Clear absorb nutritive salts and control algae growth"
DoAqua! Be-fine - dechlorinator
Seachem Acid Regulator - helps maintain a ph of 6.8-7, out of the tap it is around 8
Aqua Vitro Mineralize - from their website "blend of divalent salts designed to restore or increase general hardness"

My LEDs are on for about 10 hrs a day and are 10k. I know 10k is too high for freshwater (the company I bought it from said it was perfectly fine, I have learned a lot since then) and eventually I will get a better light. I am not sure what the PAR for my tank is but according to the manufactures website is is 20-40 at 10". Considering that my tank is only 9" tall and my soil is 1"-3" thick it may be slightly more.

What I have done

This last w/c I used 50% distilled (same quality as RO?) and 50% tap. I have also stopped adding my ferts and I have not had a diatom bloom since.

What I am going to do

I will continue doing the 50/50 w/c until the diatoms are mostly gone, maybe another week or two at this rate. I will also replant the tank, thinking DHG this time. I will slowly add my EI ferts as the plants begin to grow starting at 1/3 the dosage.

I will try to stick with my tap and add some nerite snails and get more PhosGuard.

For the long term I was still wondering if anyone else out there is using San Francisco tap water for their tank. I will have to do a little more digging on this portable RO system.

Again thanks everyone for the replies.
 

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I have had a major diatom problem for around 3 months. I bought a DI unit but haven't used it yet. In the past 8 days I have decreased my lighting quite a bit, added more Co2 and kept my fert regimen the same. The diatoms are not nearly as prevalent as they were. I am trying to balance the trifecta of light/fert/co2 before jumping into this DI unit as the answer.

My new TDS meter registers my tap at around 53ppm. In my tank it runs around 398ppm. Tap water shows phosphates around 2.0, and off the charts in my tank. I have since moved to a different food source for flakes/pellets as well (low phosphorus). I think the changing of the foods, feeding less, lowering my par, increasing my Excel Co2, and keeping my ferts regulated are helping tremendously. I don't think there is a fix it all solution as much as there is finding the right balance.

Good luck with your tank, and don't get frustrated like I did and make a purchase that you may not need as much as you think you do. I may be getting lucky, or it is finally time for them to starve, but either way something is making them go away, and I haven't used my DI yet.
 
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