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Brown algae problems...


Black

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Over the past year I have had a lot of live pants in my tank. Many have died from the brown algae that ALWAYS growns on the leaves and I can never clean it off.

I never have green algae in my tank, it's always brown. This may be because of the high nitrates that come out of my tap water. It's often 30-40ppm in the tank.

I have one remaining plant left which is a small onion plant. This is dying too because every new leaf that grows, it gets consumed with a layer of brown and then dies. I wanted lots of plants to keep the nitrates down but this is useless if I can't keep them alive because of it!

The only plant that does well is the pothos that sits on top of the tank and grows long roots into the water.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can do?

I have a nerite snail in there which eats a lot of it off the glass but he's too heavy for the plant leaves.

Thank you :)

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I would gentle clean the plant everytime you do a water change :) Also what about getting more plants to help with Nitrates like bamboo in the filters or some fast growing plants in the tank so the algea will die off from the plants getting all the nutrients :)

sniped bt Hidr :rofl

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Thanks Hidr. I would add lots but I have to be careful with how much I put in the tank. My fish is a sinker and he gets caught up easily... in anything...

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Good advise from Hidr. :) See if you can find amano shrimp, they are algae eating machines, just make sure that you don't over-feed, or they will eat the excess food instead of algae. Wait, if this is a goldfish tank, then I'm not sure that shrip will do so well. On the other hand, amanos do get pretty big, and if there is a lot of plants they can hide. Good luck :)

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I, too, have been battling brown algae (diatoms) for over 2 years. Like you, my aquarium has never grown green algae, even after being up and cycled for several years. I also have high nitrates in my tap, usually between 10-20ppm. It turns out that the causes of chronic brown algae can be more complicated than people think. I have tried numerous things to combat it - frequent big water changes, lowering nitrates by mixing RO water with tap, leaving the lights on longer, turning the lights off altogether, reduced feeding of my fish, adding plants, running a poly-filter pad in my aquarium filter, etc. I was going to get a nerite snail, but then found out my water is rather high in copper so decided to hold off. What I think is the main cause of my problem is high phosphates and silicates in my tap water. Diatoms need phosphates and especially silicates, so if your water has it in abundance, you'll probably have a diatom problem. If you use sand in your aquarium, that can also be a big source of silicates.

My latest experiment, and it does seem to be working, is that I am aging my water in a tub for 2-3 days before I add it to the aquarium. While it is aging in the tub, I am running it through a filter that contains a poly-filter pad, which will adsorb some phosphates and silicates (and that copper) out of the water before it ever goes into the aquarium. It seems to be improving because for the first time ever I am starting to see green algae growing on the glass. I still have brown algae, but my hope is that eventually the green will win out as long as I'm pre-filtering the water.

I may next try using granular ferric oxide (GFO) in my aquarium filter. It adsorbs phosphates and silicates as well. I'm not sure how all this phosphate removal is going to affect my plants, but my plan is to use the GFO only until I see the green algae take over. Hopefully the plants will make it through that. In the meantime, I take my plants out weekly and gently wipe the leaves off with a paper towel to remove the brown algae. It works well on plants with strong, flat leaves.

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Can you please post a pic of the algae you are seeing? I suspect its not diatoms (which wipe off easily) but actually BBA. BBA does not wipe off and starts around the edges of plant leaves until consumes them and kills them. It indicates an excess of light, insufficent/unstable CO2 levels and a possible lack of nutritents. Do you add a carbon supplement or have a CO2 system? Dose any ferts? Some more info will help! :)

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Great information Purpledays!! I have not done that much research, but now you have me interested lol.

What I have noticed is whenever I start a new tank, for the first 6 months or so I always have A LOT of brown algae. Once the tank gets really established and begins to grow green algae, slowly the brown algae production will slow down and eventually be eliminated altogether.

A good example is my little 9 gallon aquarium in my parent's kitchen, it has been running for almost a year now and this tank produces no brown algae at all. All of the leaves and rocks are covered in a nice thick layer of green algae.

My goldfish aquarium has been running for about 6 months and is just starting to grow green algae on the rocks and driftwood, which I completely leave alone during cleanings. I haven't seen a major change in the production of brown algae yet, but am hoping I will soon.

How long has your tank been running? Have you ever seen ANY green algae at all? Do you scrub all the surfaces clean when cleaning? Maybe you are keeping the tank too clean, and not giving the green algae a chance to establish itself anywhere.

I don't know if having high nitrates really makes a huge difference in whether or not green algae can grow. I know that in my pond, my Nitrates are always at zero and even with weekly fertilizing, I have no green algae growing yet. In my aquarium, the nitrates range from 10-20ppm between waterchanges and I'm just beginning to see green algae production. In my small 9 gallon aquarium, nitrates are consistently around 5-10ppm when I do a waterchange and this tank has a TON of green algae.

I don't know if any of this helps since I'm sure we have some major differences in our setup and water supply, it's just been my experience so far and perhaps can help in some way. Good luck!

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I am sorry but there is no such thing as 'brown algae'. This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions in aquaria. The brown stuff that typically develops in newly established aquariums is not algae but diatoms. Diatoms can persist through the first year a tank is established but typically will burn themselves out on their own with time and tank maturity. If they dont, then you need to address the issue of possible excess nutrients for the diatoms (nitrate, phosphate & silicates).

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I am sorry but there is no such thing as 'brown algae'. This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions in aquaria. The brown stuff that typically develops in newly established aquariums is not algae but diatoms. Diatoms can persist through the first year a tank is established but typically will burn themselves out on their own with time and tank maturity. If they dont, then you need to address the issue of possible excess nutrients for the diatoms (nitrate, phosphate & silicates).

We know,, there is a post about it plus Purple mention it was "I, too, have been battling brown algae (diatoms) for over 2 years."

I think in general people call it that. Its been called that for years now. :o

And sometimes it just in the tap water. I know its in mine cause if I dont do a water change twice a week it will build up. Also if your tank is close to a window it can build up too, low lighting will make it bloom :o

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I am sorry but there is no such thing as 'brown algae'. This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions in aquaria. The brown stuff that typically develops in newly established aquariums is not algae but diatoms. Diatoms can persist through the first year a tank is established but typically will burn themselves out on their own with time and tank maturity. If they don't, then you need to address the issue of possible excess nutrients for the diatoms (nitrate, phosphate & silicates).

Regardless of what it's called, I would think that the experience and advice would be the same. Whether we say "brown algae" or "diatoms" people will know exactly what we're referencing. I do think it's important for more experienced members to know all of the details, but there is a huge amount of beginners on this forum and I'd rather give advice that's easier for them to understand and actually be able to find when searching through the forums.

Edited by Ms.Jenny
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I think its important to be clear and concise when describing an issue one is dealing with whether its an issue with algae or the health issue with a fish. Dealing with a an actual algae issue vs diatoms are two different things with different solutions dependant upon the causative factors involved. Using misnomer 'brown algae' just propagates the misconception that diatoms are actually algae. Whether someone is is a beginner or more experienced, I think its important to relay the correct information to stem the issue of misconceptions in aquaria.

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The only other thing I can add to the list is to try a surface floating plant like duckweed. That will minimize the light and it will receive the fresh water from the filters so it will have a first hand shot at the phosphorus and any other nutrients.

Phosphorus is important in root growth so I would guestimate that if you had a surplus of roots on your plants that it would help indicate that.

I hope to hear of your solution :)

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Thank you for all your advice :)

Purpledays:

It sounds like your having a hard time with it, but I'm glad you have seen improvement. What is RO water? I would love to age my water but I am living in my bf's mum's house and I don't think she would appreciate having tubs everywhere. Could I keep a tub in the garden with a lid on?

Jessicalee:

I will post a pic asap. I have a feeling you are right though, it doesn't wipe off and it destroys the leaves. I don't use carbon and I'm not sure what a CO2 system is. I just have an air stone and use ceramic rings and foam in my filter. No ferts.

Ms Jenny:

I have had this tank for 5 months or so, but used the same cycle from my previous tank that had been running for 1.5yrs. I am not sure if there are tiny specs of green algae on the tank glass or whether it is brown in colour, because when I let it grow it seems more brown. I scrub the tank clean once a week because if I leave it any longer than that it starts to look disgusting and brown, like it did when I came back from holiday once.

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Have you considered getting some horned nerite snails? They are smaller, so they can get the diatoms and algae off the leaves of plants.

You do want to make sure they're not so small that Googles might try to eat them though.

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I think its important to be clear and concise when describing an issue one is dealing with whether its an issue with algae or the health issue with a fish. Dealing with a an actual algae issue vs diatoms are two different things with different solutions dependant upon the causative factors involved. Using misnomer 'brown algae' just propagates the misconception that diatoms are actually algae. Whether someone is is a beginner or more experienced, I think its important to relay the correct information to stem the issue of misconceptions in aquaria.

I honestly agree with you, but I think it's also important to be as polite and approachable as possible. This thread was not asking for a debate but a helpful discussion. Posting your personal opinion and more accurate descriptions is great and you obviously have a lot of knowledge and experience that can be beneficial to our members, I just don't think you should be picking apart other people's posts.

Thank you for all your advice :)

Ms Jenny:

I have had this tank for 5 months or so, but used the same cycle from my previous tank that had been running for 1.5yrs. I am not sure if there are tiny specs of green algae on the tank glass or whether it is brown in colour, because when I let it grow it seems more brown. I scrub the tank clean once a week because if I leave it any longer than that it starts to look disgusting and brown, like it did when I came back from holiday once.

Did you have the same issues in your tank that has been running for a year and a half and did this tank ever grow green algae? When you scrub it clean, does the brown substance scrub off easily? I started to lightly wipe off my rocks and driftwood when cleaning to remove the diatoms, which literally wipe off with just a damp paper towel, instead of scrubbing them. After a few weeks of this, green algae has started to show up so either I was cleaning to heavily and not letting the green algae establish, or the timing was just a weird coincidence, lol.

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A pic will definitely help, Black! BBA is insidious and destructive and hard to erradicate. Once we are able to id what you may be dealing with, we can offer solutions to your issue. :)

@Ms. jenny, I apologize if I offended you or anyone else. I do not believe I was being impolite or 'picking apart other people's posts' and I am sorry if you perceived my responses this way. It certainly was not my intention.

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@Ms. jenny, I apologize if I offended you or anyone else. I do not believe I was being impolite or 'picking apart other people's posts' and I am sorry if you perceived my responses this way. It certainly was not my intention.

No worries. :)

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Jessica,

Diatoms ARE algae. :)

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatom

http://www.scienceda...20717100117.htm

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algae

http://www.indiana.e...tom/diatom.html

Black,

As Sakura suggested, Nerite snails are excellent for removing brown algae/diatoms, and they are beautiful to look at as well, and could be excellent companions for Google. Actually, you would only need 1.

Looking forward to pictures :)

EDIT: Jessica, I misunderstood your earlier posts. I agree that what is usually called brown algae in the aquarium setting is actually not brown algae, but diatoms, yet another type of algae. :)

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I think where the confusion comes in is that we use the terms diatoms and brown algae interchangably and maybe they aren't really interchangable. In terms of scientific definition diatoms and brown algae share the same domain (Eukaryota), kingdom (Chromalveolata) and phylum (Heterokontophyta). Where they differ in scientific classification is their class - diatoms (Bacillariophyceae) and brown algae (Phaeophyceae). I don't remember enough biology to say for sure if diatoms ARE technically brown algae or not, but they are algae.

RO water stands for reverse osmosis water. A reverse osmosis is a filtration system that uses a membrane to remove large molecules and ions from water such as lead, nitrates, etc. I have a system set up to clean up my drinking water, but I also mix the RO water with my tap water to reduce the nitrates since my tap has nitrates present. The reason that we don't typically use all RO water in our tanks is that the filtration also removes all the good buffers like calcium and potassium that we want in the water for the fish.

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You're right, they are algae, but diatoms are not brown algae, and vice versa. Jessica is right in pointing out that what we typically call brown algae in the aquarium are actually diatoms. :)

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Good advise from Hidr. :) See if you can find amano shrimp, they are algae eating machines, just make sure that you don't over-feed, or they will eat the excess food instead of algae. Wait, if this is a goldfish tank, then I'm not sure that shrip will do so well. On the other hand, amanos do get pretty big, and if there is a lot of plants they can hide. Good luck :)

I've got 2 shrimp in my tank, heard they are great algae eaters so thought I'd try it out, there in the tank but always hide until the lights turn off, 2 isn't enough for a 55 gal but does help

Also have found one in my filter once and have seen there not fazed out the water either so keep the lid on

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Did you have the same issues in your tank that has been running for a year and a half and did this tank ever grow green algae? When you scrub it clean, does the brown substance scrub off easily? I started to lightly wipe off my rocks and driftwood when cleaning to remove the diatoms, which literally wipe off with just a damp paper towel, instead of scrubbing them. After a few weeks of this, green algae has started to show up so either I was cleaning to heavily and not letting the green algae establish, or the timing was just a weird coincidence, lol.

I did have the same issue in my previous tank but no where near as bad. I was living in a different house then and the room was darker. I dont know if that has anything to do with?

It srapes off very easily from the glass but impossible to wipe off the leaves

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A pic will definitely help, Black! BBA is insidious and destructive and hard to erradicate. Once we are able to id what you may be dealing with, we can offer solutions to your issue. :)

algae.jpg

algae2.jpg

algae3.jpg

I have none on the glass this week which is unusual, but here it is on my plant

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