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Hi,

The plants and driftwood and substrate in my tank are constantly covered in brown diatoms! This is a new thing which has happened in just the last month. Tonight I even when as far as to wash my floating Hornwort plants under the sink (well water) to get rid of the diatoms. The water is pretty clear because I use Purigen, but the plants are usually covered in a brown layer. The brown diatoms come off when you brush the plants. The tank has been up and running for 8 months. I do a 25% water change every week. What should I do?

Tank Specs:
29 gallon tank
Substrate: 2 inches of Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil, covered in flourite and black sand
Aquascape: 3 large pieces of driftwood (see my journal for an old picture)
Fish: 5 cory cats, 3 oto cats, about 15 small-to-large swordtails and some newborns. The fish all appear to be healthy.
Plants: 2 large Amazon swords, floating Hornwort, Wisteria, Jungle val, crypts, Rotala
Lighting: Zoomed 2 x 24 watt T5HO (the bulbs are over a year old, but I was too cheap/unemployed to replace them)
Filters: Used to be 2 Penguin 200 filters, but one of them died

At this point I am even considering restarting the tank and starting with new substrate. The tank was running successfully for several months and the plants were growing, but the last few months it's been going down hill. Thank you for any help

P.S. - I also have a fry grow-out no-substrate 10 gallon tank with floating Hornwort, a sponge filter, is lighted by a desk lamp, and the Hornwort is growing rapidly and the fish are thriving. This tank is my most successful tank yet (been in this hobby for two years). Any of my two planted tanks with substrate start out well, but then go downhill after several months.
 
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