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Brown Algae... a Non-Chemical Approach


Azlaier

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So my tank has some serious Brown Algae issues. It sits right next to a window, so it's to be expected. And I actually like the look of some Brown Algea... it gives my tank a more aged and natural feel. I'm not into that crystal-clear, perfectly clean tank look... I love the more natural tanks that look like they have their own ecosystem... if that makes sense. It's also nice that it helps with nitrate levels. But my Brown Algae has gotten worse than I would like. Where it used to be small patches on the back of the glass and a little on the plants and decorations, it's now EVERYWHERE. So instead of it having a roughed-up, natural feel, the tank now just has a dirty feel.

I would like to stay away from chemicals. What are some great fish/snails I could add to the tank to help with the algae? These would obviously have to be compatible with goldfish. Also, what would the QT procedure be like? How are they when it comes to salt and other additives one might put in a goldfish tank? And could these fish live completely off the Brown Algae in the tank (trust me, there's a lot), or do I still need to supplement with algae wafers and whatnot?

Thanks.

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I have nerite snails in one of my tanks and they do an ok job. Plus they come in a few colors and patterns, are about an inch fully grown and rarely reproduce. You can usually find them on aqua bid. I also have a couple tanks with the dreaded ramshorn snails, and I'm gonna say it- I friggin love the little devils! People always gotta hate on them but they eat algae like it's going out of style. Their population will explode but once the algae is in check they start to die off and their population will stabalize a bit. If it gets out of hand put in a shallow dish with an algae waffer in it over night and then remove and dispose of the snails. Rinse and repeat as needed. Any way........that's what I say. Limiting light would help control the algae too and increasing water circulation. I put craft mesh between my lights and tanks when algae starts to get out of hand. You might try shading the side of the tank that's getting all the sunshine. Now I'm just rambling. Sorry.

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I have nerite snails in one of my tanks and they do an ok job. Plus they come in a few colors and patterns, are about an inch fully grown and rarely reproduce. You can usually find them on aqua bid. I also have a couple tanks with the dreaded ramshorn snails, and I'm gonna say it- I friggin love the little devils! People always gotta hate on them but they eat algae like it's going out of style. Their population will explode but once the algae is in check they start to die off and their population will stabalize a bit. If it gets out of hand put in a shallow dish with an algae waffer in it over night and then remove and dispose of the snails. Rinse and repeat as needed. Any way........that's what I say. Limiting light would help control the algae too and increasing water circulation. I put craft mesh between my lights and tanks when algae starts to get out of hand. You might try shading the side of the tank that's getting all the sunshine. Now I'm just rambling. Sorry.

Not rambling, it's very helpful!

I will definitely look into those snails. The plate with the algae wafer is a great idea. How are snails when it comes to Prime? And if I ever needed to use salt and/or Prazi, how are they with that? And do they produce much waste? Thanks, again!

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From what I understand, brown algae is not algae at all but diatoms. It often occurs in newer tanks when the chemistry is unstable. In my tank, it was quite bad for a while (about 6-8 months in) I just wiped it off when it built up and added lots of plants. Eventually, the brown algae went away. I don't think anything really eats the brown algae. good luck!!

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Salt kills snails. Don't know about prazi, but you could just take a few out and put them in a jar until you were done treating the tank and then put them back in. They don't need filtration. I have a fish bowl with plants and snails and all I do is make periodic water changes. They will eat diatoms, but as MJ said there are other ways to deal with brown algae.

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I agree with Sakura. I doubt any added animal will do a well enough job to get it sparkly clean.

Most algae eaters do not eat it, except for otocinclus, but they are so little and might get eaten by the goldfish. Additionally they are tropical and all that good stuff.

Good thing is that the brown algae is super easy to scrub off. I just got used to doing it during every water change. I turn the filters off, scrub the 55g down (which takes like 5 minutes), and the now free floating diatoms get drained with the old tank water. :)

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Adding more to your tank means adding waste which means a potential cycle bump or having troubles. Trying to anticipate waste with other animals can be difficult. (I've had trouble finding appropriate care info on algae eaters)

When the brown algae or diatoms die off, what do they produce? Are they going to increase the ammonia in your tank as they decompose?

Finding out what nutrients cause algae to grow and then finding similar plants or organisms that also uses those nutrients will help with competition and the algae will die off due to lack of nutrients. (reducing light was already mentioned)

Sometimes I wonder what micro organisms would feed off of brown algae or diatoms. Brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia and the like, that would be safe to introduce into the goldfish aquarium as it would be regarded as food to neutralize overpopulation threats.

I'm not really helping here and I apologize, I'm just thinking out loud.

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Adding more to your tank means adding waste which means a potential cycle bump or having troubles. Trying to anticipate waste with other animals can be difficult.
I keep forgetting about this point. Der! My tanks are all planted so the waste hasn't been an issue, but I forget that there are fish tanks that don't have plants in them.
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If you were going to get a snail to deal with it, id go for a Horned Nerite as they are the best of the Nerites at getting algae off akward places (others will do well on big flat surfaces but fall off fidly bits). The snail wouldnt get ALL of it but it would clean a good amount up, youd just have to scrub the smaller plant leaves with your thumb and maybe tidy up the bits of glass it might miss now and then.

Not to doubt anybody elses opinion, but in my experience - (which is admittedly limited to tropics) - unless you are at breaking point with a tank then one snail shouldnt cause a major problem for your filter.

Its really important to remember though that these diatoms are not very good nutrition for a snail and you would have to supplement its diet with the occasional blanched veg / algae pellet etc. and you need to make sure your water chemistry is right for them just like any fish you would add (e.g. in especially soft, acidic and/or mineral poor water their shells can soften and "melt" away unless you give them adequate calcium). Not that id want you to think theyre really hard to keep because theyre really not, and personally i find them quite attractive and interesting to watch.

As others have said though, the brown algae will clean up on its own once you tank has settled, but this can take a frustrating amount of time.

Edited by Lucerne
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