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6th week of ugly brown diatoms!

Discussion in 'Planted Aquariums' started by Jennifer G., Dec 3, 2017.

  1. Jennifer G.

    Jennifer G. AC Members

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    My 5 gallon planted tank is now 9 weeks old. The third week I started noticing fluffy brown stuff start to accumulate on every leaf surface. I'd suck it up with every water change. 2 days later, it was back. Week after week the fluffy brown started being less fluffy and more caked on and could no longer be vacuumed. I then would have to wipe and rub every leaf to get this stuff off. I even went as far as gently hauling out each and ever staurogyne repens and cleaned off each and every leaf with q-tips. Then I noticed it started growing on the substrate and on the lower portion of the glass at the substrate level. IT KEPT COMING BACK!!!

    Desperate, I headed to fish forums and did a bunch of reading. I was relieved I didn't have the blue-green algae...turns out its some sort of resilient bacteria that takes over in a blink of an eye. But I didn't really know how I got diatoms, just that it was a common thing in new tanks. All I knew is I had them, and the resolution was essentially "be patient, they'll go away with time".

    During the 5th week, things weren't looking better...they were getting worse and worse. So, I took to the web and did more research. Found out if you have silica/silicates in your water and phosphates...you get diatoms! 1-2 ppm you might get them, but they will eventually resolve on their own. Moderate amounts at 3-4 ppm, you will likely see persistent diatoms in the lower-light areas of the tank, or on the substrate where it is partly shaded by plants. At 5ppm to 20 or even 30ppm, you will likely see diatoms anywhere in the tank not occupied by plants or green algae, and the plant or algae surfaces themselves may look brownish to frankly brown from these algae existing as a coating on the plants and even on some other algal types. With that info, I'm guessing I'm in the 3-4 ppm range. I already had a phosphate test kit. The numbers were really really low...0.01ppm. So I opened up a new web tab looking for a test kit for silicates. Found one made by Seachem and ordered it right away.

    The test kit arrived in the mail yesterday coincidentally as I was out at the petstore buying a mesh bag of Phosguard (also made by Seachem). It claims to remove phosphates and silicates. I placed the mesh bag in my filter compartment and let the tank run for about 14 hours. I took a sample of the tank water, and a sample of my water source...my tap. Performed both tests. My tank water that had the Phosguard running for 14 hours had a reading 1.5 ppm silicates. My tap...7.8 ppm!!!

    So there you have it. My source of diatoms has been revealed. And in 14 hours these tiny white magic balls in a mesh bag are quickly reducing the numbers. I think my sanity is about to be restored very quickly :D My plan in the future is to treat the tap water before adding it to my tank when doing water changes. I have two 5 gallon food grade buckets. I will pour the water through the Phosguard and test the water to see how many times that process needs to be done. THEN I will dechlorinate and add to my tank.

    This better work :p
     
  2. Jennifer G.

    Jennifer G. AC Members

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    Pssst! *whispers* I haven't had diatoms in 8 whole days...shhhh! *quietly does happy dance* (don't want to jinx myself...they might be listening) :D
     
  3. fishorama

    fishorama AC Members

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    (whispering too, congrats)
     
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  4. tarheel96

    tarheel96 Registered Member

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    Phosguard removes both silicate and phosphate as you've pointed out. Plants don't need silicate but they do need phosphate. It's one of the primary plant fertilizers: N-P-K. Although there's no set level, the PPS-PRO and EI dosing systems are based on ratios of nitrate : phosphate : potassium of 10 : 1 : 10 for planted tanks.

    Phosphate can be added to the water if you're aging and filtering it with sodium phosphate if the level is too low.
     
  5. Jennifer G.

    Jennifer G. AC Members

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    I do use ferts (liquid and root tabs and my substrate isn't inert). I dose right after a water change. Still a learning curve for me. Seems easier to grow tomatoes...but have some knowledge of NPK. A little different in a glass box however lol ;)
     

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