Stubborn brown algae, what more can I do? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 34 Old 04-24-2011, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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Stubborn brown algae, what more can I do?

I have an established ( cycled for 2 years) 33 gallons aquarium which currently houses 9 emperor tetras (plus babies when they breed), 6 corydoras trilineatus and an aging, single Bolivian Rams. I have 2 filters for this jolly gang, a Fluval 204 and a Fluval U3, cleaned monthly, sometimes more often. It is very planted, with mostly java fern and moss, cryptocoryne, anubias, amazon swordplants and hygrophila. Also 3 pieces of bogwood. Lights are on 10 hours a day. I change 20-25% of the water, weekly. I don't know if it changes anything but the soil is half river gravel, half sand. For about 6 months I have dealt with a crazy blooming of brown algae that just won't quit, and is currently killing my plants. Even my pennyworth who have been breeding like crazy for 3 years and the duckweed are attacked (and when the duckweed is actually not breeding...you know there's a problem!) I thought the slight overpopulation going on was the culprit so I added the U3. No change.

On the advice I found on the net I changed my fluorescent bulbs (currently have 2 new Life-Glo bulbs, 6700k each), started adding doses of liquid fertilizer at each water change, plus put fertilizer sticks under my plants' roots. I also boiled all my decorations (including bogwood) to remove all traces of algae. It seemed to get better, I've noticed new leaves on my swordplant (which had lost all its big leaves to the algae attack!) and the duckweed was back...then it started again. I have to scrape the glass of my tank at least twice a week. I actually brush my plants' leafs with a kid's toothbrush a few times a week to let them breathe through the algae! I have no idea what I should do anymore. Any idea I could try? I'm desperate to save my plants
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post #2 of 34 Old 04-24-2011, 09:11 PM
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If its diatoms then you can invest in a couple otos they'll take care of it without a problem. As for the cause I have no clue.
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post #3 of 34 Old 04-24-2011, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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If its diatoms then you can invest in a couple otos they'll take care of it without a problem. As for the cause I have no clue.
I'm pretty sure they are diatoms, but I'm worried about adding to the existing population, as I think I'm already on the limit of overstocking!
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post #4 of 34 Old 04-24-2011, 09:25 PM
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Yea you are probably on the edge but given you have 2 filters running and the live plants I think you can squeeze 2 or 3 in there.
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post #5 of 34 Old 04-25-2011, 01:33 PM
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The otos will be OK, but before that...

If this is really diatoms, it will occur in low light and/or with high silicates (a type of mineral) and/or organics in the water. Have you checked with your water supply people to see if silicates are in the water?

Life-Glo tubes are good light, it is not low, I use those myself. But they do wear out, and when they get less intense algae sometimes appears as a sign of this. If the tubes are T8, some say replacing them every 2-3 years is fine, others say 1-2 years. I just replaced mine after 20 months, as I felt they were overdue. Sooner rather than later won't hurt, though it is expensive.

Let me know about the silicates, I can go further if that is an issue.

The other thing is, it may not be diatoms. Can you post a photo?

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If youíre going to take it under your wing then youíre responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #6 of 34 Old 04-25-2011, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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The otos will be OK, but before that...

If this is really diatoms, it will occur in low light and/or with high silicates (a type of mineral) and/or organics in the water. Have you checked with your water supply people to see if silicates are in the water?

Life-Glo tubes are good light, it is not low, I use those myself. But they do wear out, and when they get less intense algae sometimes appears as a sign of this. If the tubes are T8, some say replacing them every 2-3 years is fine, others say 1-2 years. I just replaced mine after 20 months, as I felt they were overdue. Sooner rather than later won't hurt, though it is expensive.

Let me know about the silicates, I can go further if that is an issue.

The other thing is, it may not be diatoms. Can you post a photo?
The Life-Glo are brand new, I thought the algaes were from my old Power-glo tubes, the change helped my plant growth but not the algae problem.

I just read this morning that 'play sand' can be rich in silicates and that is exactly what I have in my tank. I had no idea, so I have that path to try. I happen to have some phosphate and silicates remover, I just never used it. It can't hurt to try I guess.

I took some pictures here they are:




Thank you!
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post #7 of 34 Old 04-25-2011, 02:23 PM
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Oh, that is a bad infestation.

Silica sand will obviously be bad for diatoms, but playsand may not necessarily be silica sand. I have playsand and it is not. True silica sand is usually light in colour, white or pale off-white, like pool sands. Quartz is a silica mineral.

Organixcs also plays a part; regular water changes, keeping organics in check, etc. will help. And a trio of otos, or a Farlowella vittata if the water is soft and slightly acidic.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If youíre going to take it under your wing then youíre responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #8 of 34 Old 04-25-2011, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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I'm really unsure, my substrate is basically a mix of 3 kinds of substrates, small white river gravel (this one might be quartz), bigger river pebbles, and two beaches of pale brown sand.

I think in doubt, I will try the silicate remover first, I'm a bit unsure about adding more fish right now. Especially since I've always read that otos need to be in groups of 6+ to be happy, and Farlowella vittata ends up measuring 6 inches, that's quite big for a 33 gals
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post #9 of 34 Old 04-25-2011, 07:18 PM
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+1 byron your and awesome repository of information, I've always wondered what caused diatoms
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post #10 of 34 Old 04-28-2011, 11:22 AM
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this works

algae destroyer advanced. i had same problem and read hours and hours of forums all over the net and got tired of it. so my last resort was go chemical. and in 24 hours it was all dead . cleand everything real good and its been 3 weeks now so far so good. i got plants to.
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