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Brown algae/Diatoms

FrankR

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You're right, it can. But also from airborne spores.
Yes, I think we've established that. 👍

My point is that eradicating one pest, leaves free space for another to thrive.
So, instead of focusing specifically on how to beat diatoms/cyano/algae, we should focus on how to balance our mini ecosystems by introducing more beneficial organisms.
 

Badjester1

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Hi @Badjester1

As @FrankR said above, Diatoms often stop growing after a few weeks. But, if you continue to feed them, they may hang around. Diatoms need silicate (SiO2) in their diet to build their hard outer shell. One source of silicate is tap water. If things don't improve, I'd be tempted to use a JBL SiO2 test kit to see if your tap water is contributing to the problem. Please see below:


Please keep us updated.

JPC
Great thanks I'll get a test kit. Yeah I've read about the silicates from trying to research about it. The sand I used for substrate is called silicate sand. Unfortunately I learnt that after. It's supposed to be inert but I assume if it's silicate sand it'll leach silicates? If so I have no idea if it'll always leach silicates? Mind you if the sand was the issue I'd of had these diatoms the whole time and I haven't. Definitely a sudden imbalance in something. I bought some phosguard which is arriving tomorrow to help remove silicates. I can only hope it starts to die off soon as the plants were perfect before this. Lights are down by 50% for now.
 

Badjester1

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I'd suggest you follow @GHNelson 's advice. Diatoms are photosynthetic, so reducing the light to 50% will definitely make their life harder. They do consume silicate though, as @jaypeecee said.
No need to worry though. They'll go away in a week or so. Be patient.

It would also be helpful if we knew how old is your aquarium, what type of filtration do you use and how much flow does the tank have.
The tank isn't mature yet. I cycled with ammonia for about 10 weeks. I was taking things very slow to let the plants mature before any fish went in. That was about 6 to 8 weeks ago. Fish have been added slowly but there's 8 red and 8 black phantoms in. 9 Cory's (3 bronze, 3 peppered and 3 panda.) They were all babies so very small when I bought them. I upgraded the filter to the 407 instead of the 307 that came with the tank. That was done about a month ago. I'm still testing water every other day. Never an issue there. Ammonia and nitrites zero. Nitrates are usually zero with the odd time it's 5. Some people seem to think zero is not possible with a cycled tank. In my case it's definitely possible. My tank was cycled and I continued dosing ammonia until just before fish went in after a water change. So it was super cycled lol. I got high nitrates at the start obviously upon the ammonia and nitrite conversion. Then when the plants grew fully the nitrates disappeared. Oh and I had horrendous diatoms while cycling but that was completely expected. Although that was clumps of diatoms. This is more like a coating and darker brown but not black. Anyway that is everything I can remember. Oh and I doubled the ceramic media with the 407.
 

Badjester1

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Are we talking about the brown patches on the Amazon Swords? They don't look like diatoms to me, more like damaged leaves. Can you remove the brown patches ny rubbing the leaves?
Yes it does rub off but I agree it looks different to the fluffy blobs of diatoms I had whilst cycling a few months ago. That's one of the things that threw me as it looks different. However yes it rubs off leaves and off the tops of the ornaments. It takes slightly more vigorous rubbing than the diatoms I had whilst cycling.
 

Badjester1

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The air we breathe containes algal spores, trying to limit these spores entering our tanks is as futile as reducing silicates to prevent diatoms, the next level of wasted reasoning is limiting nutrients to prevent algae.

@Badjester1 I'm assuming this tank is relatively new? If this is the case then the diatom stage will pass. What happened here? I suspect the reduction in floating plants increased the light levels above what the system could handle, you ended up with a bloom.

The cure.... rub off any brown deposits, do regular 50% + water changes, reduce the lighting intensity for a while whilst the tank matures and please for the love of God don't waste your money on SI02 test kits, or silicate removing gizmos... 😀
Yes it's quite new as it cycled about 6 to 8 weeks ago. The depletion of Salvinia is definitely what I think has done it. They're recovering from what was left and they multiply as quickly as snails! I've already bought phosguard so too late lol. However I'll just be monitoring things closely. Lights are down, frequent water changes. What's confused me is the look of these "diatoms" are very different to the diatoms when I was cycling the tank. They were like hair and big blobs of it. This is more like a coating that does rub off with a bit of effort. Things were going so well! Just hope it starts to die off soon.
 

jaypeecee

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Great thanks I'll get a test kit. Yeah I've read about the silicates from trying to research about it. The sand I used for substrate is called silicate sand. Unfortunately I learnt that after. It's supposed to be inert but I assume if it's silicate sand it'll leach silicates?
Hi @Badjester1

Silica sand will not leach significant amounts of silicate. It finds its way into tap water because of what goes on underground. Elevated temperature and pressure causes silicate* to form/dissolve in underground water. And this gets into our water supply. This is well worth a read:


Hope this helps.

* More accurately, orthosilicic acid

JPC
 
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jaypeecee

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That's true, of course. However, I add hydrated silica as a fertilizer occassionaly and it has never led to diatoms appearing in noticeable amount. So I guess some other conditions are more important.

Hi @_Maq_

This paper should be right up your street....!


Results are summarised in Table 1. The key requirements for growth of Diatoms are - Light, Dissolved O2, Soluble Reactive Phosphorus, Silicate and NO3-N.

JPC
 

Badjester1

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I've had a clean up (see pics.) I added some purigen and phosguard which I wanted to add for a while. I know some say yay and some nay but the water is crystal. Had a cut back and tidied up. Lights lowered so will see how it goes. Ordered silicate and phosphate test kits as I'd like to settle my mind on tap water. Have a feeling it's not that but likely increased light due to those damn snails annihilating the Salvinia. That's already recovering well. Fingers crossed I guess. Put some TNC root tabs in as I reckon they'll give the root feeders a boost and hopefully outdo and diatoms. That worked well for me in the first place. Just a waiting game now but happy with the way it looks for now.
 

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dw1305

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Hi all,
Great thanks I'll get a test kit. Mind you if the sand was the issue I'd of had these diatoms the whole time and I haven't. Definitely a sudden imbalance in something. I bought some phosguard which is arriving tomorrow to help remove silicates. I can only hope it starts to die off soon as the plants were perfect before this. Lights are down by 50% for now.
Quartz sand is totally insoluble, for all of eternity. Diatoms can only build their frustules from orthosilicic acids in solution.

Phosguard will remove orthophosphate (PO4---) from the water column, and phosphate is one of the three macro nutrients that plants need most of, so it will stop diatoms growing, along with all the plants that you want to grow.

Cheers Darrel
 

Badjester1

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Hi all,
Quartz sand is totally insoluble, for all of eternity. Diatoms can only build their frustules from orthosilicic acids in solution.

Phosguard will remove orthophosphate (PO4---) from the water column, and phosphate is one of the three macro nutrients that plants need most of, so it will stop diatoms growing, along with all the plants that you want to grow.

Cheers Darrel

Hi all,
Quartz sand is totally insoluble, for all of eternity. Diatoms can only build their frustules from orthosilicic acids in solution.

Phosguard will remove orthophosphate (PO4---) from the water column, and phosphate is one of the three macro nutrients that plants need most of, so it will stop diatoms growing, along with all the plants that you want to grow.

Cheers Darrel
The phosguard isn't going to be permanent. It's there whilst I deal with the issue. It also removes silicates hence why I'm using it. As I said above I've renewed the root tabs as to supply what they need for now. I'm pretty confident that I'd re evaluate if the plants started to show signs of suffering. For the very short term future I'm dealing with the diatoms which haven't shown any signs of appearing back after today. Once the root tabs kick in as per experience the plants will outgrow anything hopefully like when it was under control before the snail munching infestation. I'm obviously not going to sit and watch the plants die off due to lack of phosphates permanently.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
The phosguard isn't going to be permanent. It's there whilst I deal with the issue. It also removes silicates hence why I'm using it.
Basically there are always enough <"orthosilicic acids">, in solution, to <"support Diatom growth">, we know this because <"diatoms are universal"> anywhere there is liquid water.
I'm obviously not going to sit and watch the plants die off due to lack of phosphates permanently.
You are good for a while, because PO4--- is <"highly mobile within the plant">. Diatoms can't shuffle nutrients around, so it will reduce their growth. This is a phosphorus effect, although the same would apply to silicates in solution.

You could try adding some Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum), it is <"silicified itself">.

cheers Darrel
 

Badjester1

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So just an update (kind of) but I do have some further specific questions at the end if anyone can answer them? Firstly I tested my tank and tap water for phosphates and silicates. All the readings were actually around 1ppm. Give or take a slight difference in the shades, the phosphates in the tank and tap water were closest matched to 1ppm and so were the silicates. So that's left me a bit grumpy as it's obviously coming from the tap water (at the moment.) I think someone mentioned RO water or even an RO system. I'm not in the market for either right now purely down to cost. So that rules that out! However after countless asking, searching about brown algae, it's left me with a few questions I'm struggling to really make decisions on.

Some say lights down for brown algae, some say the opposite. I've had my lights down for a few days now and the brown has started to come back only on the tops of things again. Like ornaments, tops of leaves etc. This led me to think in the first place that it wants the maximum light, hence turning the lights down. But even turning the lights down it still appears albeit in very small amounts. I'm starting to really think that turning the lights down may not be the best option? Due to the fact my plants seemed to have stopped growing fantastically like they were a few weeks ago before all this started. I'm thinking more light = more plant growth = no diatoms? Even with the root tabs I put in a few days ago and my TNC complete/Easy carbo, they don't seem to be doing much. This combination used to make the plants go crazy and they looked amazing. So I have been frustratingly playing around with light settings after researching for ages.

So I guess what I'm asking is the following in regards to lighting...

1. Is it wise to crank the lights up to help the plants outgrow diatoms?

2. From what I've researched best I can, I put my red light highest, my green second, blue next and at the minute my white has been at 20% making the tank quite dimly lit. Even the Salvinia doesn't seem to be doing well. Should I turn the white up and does white have much benefit to the plants? Because I was reading that white LED's don't always have any colour spectrum in them? But I have definitely noticed the plants not doing well after dimming the lights. They only get 6 hours a day at the moment anyway due to ambient light.

I'd really appreciate any advice on the lighting as I can't keep tweaking them as I need to find a balance.

Many thanks.
 

Hufsa

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Due to the fact my plants seemed to have stopped growing fantastically like they were a few weeks ago before all this started.
Put the light where the plants want to have it, dont think about the diatoms.
Dont crank it to 100% if your tank and plants arent ready for that.
Focus on growing your plants well, your diatoms will disappear in due course. They always do.

2. From what I've researched best I can, I put my red light highest, my green second, blue next and at the minute my white has been at 20% making the tank quite dimly lit. Even the Salvinia doesn't seem to be doing well. Should I turn the white up and does white have much benefit to the plants? Because I was reading that white LED's don't always have any colour spectrum in them? But I have definitely noticed the plants not doing well after dimming the lights. They only get 6 hours a day at the moment anyway due to ambient light.
Put the light spectrum to where you think it looks nice. The plants will grow either way, this is the simple and liberating truth. 1% growth increases from a super specific spectrum matters only to those who are producing massive amounts of crops on an industrial scale.

I'd really appreciate any advice on the lighting as I can't keep tweaking them as I need to find a balance.
I really empathise with your struggle because there are so many conflicting views out there.
K.I.S.S. principle is a good rule of thumb when you find yourself lost in the jungle of advice, at least I find it useful personally 😊
 

Badjester1

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Put the light where the plants want to have it, dont think about the diatoms.
Dont crank it to 100% if your tank and plants arent ready for that.
Focus on growing your plants well, your diatoms will disappear in due course. They always do.


Put the light spectrum to where you think it looks nice. The plants will grow either way, this is the simple and liberating truth. 1% growth increases from a super specific spectrum matters only to those who are producing massive amounts of crops on an industrial scale.


I really empathise with your struggle because there are so many conflicting views out there.
K.I.S.S. principle is a good rule of thumb when you find yourself lost in the jungle of advice, at least I find it useful personally 😊
Thanks for all that and yes I agree with the k.i.s.s lol. I've put the lights up for tomorrow to what they were originally when they were doing great. The lights are Aquasky that came with the Roma 240 tank. I'll bet they're the cheapest set they do so likely 12 watts so even full won't be insane. Although they do look quite bright on full. I'll just have to see how I get on. Not happy with the silicates tests results but hopefully that sorts itself out too.
 

jaypeecee

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I really empathise with your struggle because there are so many conflicting views out there.
Hi @Hufsa

I always aim to provide advice based on scientific research. That's why I provided a reference in post #28 above. But, additional information is readily available on the internet specifically dealing with Diatoms and lighting. This is well worth reading:


If anyone on UKAPS has a problem understanding the scientific gobbledy-gook in our hobby, there are generally other members that will do their best to clear up any confusion.

JPC
 
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