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Old 03-08-2004, 09:14 AM   #1
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Brown Algae

So, I finally get the cycle straight in all the tanks (still battling the 5 gallon for some reason...it's okay, then I get a nitrite spike for no apparent reason), but that's not my question....

I have now developed a nasty case of brown algae in the 20 gallon tank, and a little bit in the 5 gallon. The plants in the 20 gallon are covered with it and it's started growing on the glass as well.

There are two cory cats in the 20 gallon, and I saw one of them chowing on one of the plants one day, but he didn't stay there long, so I guess he doesn't care much for the brown algae (by the way, these cats are getting HUGE! Not sure what they find to eat, but they are ALWAYS eating!)

I've had green algae before, and it just sort of cleared itself up. What do I do about brown algae? Do I need to get an algae eater? Or can I just remove the plants, rinse them off and return them to the tank, and wipe down the glass?

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Old 03-08-2004, 09:29 AM   #2
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I have been battleing brown algae in all but one of my tanks. The only cure I have found for it is to take everything (decorations) out of the tank and scrub them real good. Also do a real good gravel vacuum. However, you may never really get rid of it. You can buy this thing called a diatom filter, but they are pricey! It's not a filter that you use all the time though, just once in a while when you need to "polish" the water.

HTH & Good Luck,
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Old 03-08-2004, 09:34 AM   #3
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The Diatom filter works wonders at removing particles that are suspended in the water but they won't remove anything that is clinging to the glass, plants, or aquarium decorations.

Kwenbee....
Corydorascats aren't really designed for eating algae. What you need are a quartet of Otocinclus catfish in your 20 gallon and maybe a pair in your smaller tank. They are very industrious eaters of 'brown algae' (diatoms).
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Old 03-08-2004, 12:06 PM   #4
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So, if I take the stuff out and clean it up and scrub the glass, it may clear up or it may not?

Hmmm...that's not what I wanted to hear. Guess I'm going catfish shopping if that's what it'll take to get rid of this nasty stuff! Actually, one of the plants looks kind of cool with the algae on it, but I know it can't stay there.
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Old 03-09-2004, 01:29 AM   #5
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What you need are a quartet of Otocinclus catfish in your 20 gallon and maybe a pair in your smaller tank.
I heard these worked wonders for Christmasfish!!! I want some, but apparently I don't have enough in my tank for them to eat (newly established tank)!
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Old 03-09-2004, 01:32 AM   #6
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Old 03-09-2004, 06:20 AM   #7
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My otos did a fantastic job on the brown algae in my planted 10g. They don't touch the green stuff tho LOL

I also have lots of brown algae in the angelfish fry tank. They love to nibble at it; sort of a fishy buffet. I don't really do anything about it tho, except clear off the front glass so I can look in LOL You'll find, after a while, the brown algae will give up. The back of my tank used to be covered; there's still spots but I can see thru it now and I have never scraped it (and the babies didn't eat it all away). On some areas its now being taken over by green algae. If you can't wait the month or 2 it takes for brown algae to subside, and have the room, I recommend the otocinclus. 2 or 3 at least; they need buddies.
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Old 03-09-2004, 12:01 PM   #8
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I thought that SAE were the best fish to get rid of brown alge. I have read that they are one of the only fish that will eat brown alge but they are hard to find. At least in my area I have not seen them.

I live in King of Prussia PA if anybody knows places around me let me know.
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Old 03-09-2004, 12:50 PM   #9
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These otos are the most industrious little fish! You don't usually SEE them doing busy busywork like cories..they never seem to move..
but te tank gets clean lik emagic!!
I wish they could go in my BKGs tank. I may do it while he is small and finicky, since he is the one moving out and up in gallons.
Otos like it a lil cooler than the tank they were bought for(chocolate gourami 82-84F). My daughter is keeping her them with her social bettas. Sometimes the betta picks where it saw the oto eating ..wondering what the excitement was over....

BTW My skunk botias eat green algae..but they are supposed to be somewhat aggresive for loaches especially to clowns and and are foretold to become pitas later. they also outgrow an algae eating stage pretty quick by reputation.. I may exchange them for a compatible species later.
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Old 03-09-2004, 05:27 PM   #10
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I have never seen my skunks eat anything other than flakes, snails, and sinking pellets.

My SAEs will eat the beard algae and gently skim the brown trying to get to the green.
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Old 03-10-2004, 07:41 AM   #11
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I need a few SAEs
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Old 03-10-2004, 12:49 PM   #12
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I got cories to control my algae problem.... not to eat it..but to eat what it grows with...the bits and scraps of chow.
I am fine until I open the windows..then Bango! Brown dustbunnies time!

I am prolly going to get a diatom filter so I can clean more actively and not worry about suspended particles upsetting the clowns and BKG.
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Old 03-12-2004, 01:31 PM   #13
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What are good cories to get that will stay at a small size?
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Old 03-12-2004, 06:20 PM   #14
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gee, i don't know...pandas are small and popular.

While waiting for an answer go looking at the "my tanks" threads andn see what the experienced are keeping in their 10-20 gallons....
I didn't care about mine.... I get two big tanks this summer for my river monsters.
i don't even know what kinda of cories I have (though I know the albinos are dwarf). other than busy and industrious and large.
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Old 03-13-2004, 09:52 PM   #15
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While it is important to cure the brown algae, what is more important IMO is to find out what caused it in the first place and correct those factors contributing to the condition.

Brown algae are diatoms that are caused from excess nutrients in the water, too little lighting, and overuse of products containing phosphates such as water additives, conditioners, clarifiers, and pH buffers.

In order to decrease your brown algae problem, I would first suggest cutting back at feeding times of your fish and increasing water changes. Large-volume water changes will reduce the amount of dissolved organic material and decaying food in the tank, which will in turn decrease the amount of available nutrients for brown algae development. These water changes should also be accompanied with a complete and thorough vacuuming of the substrate, being careful to eliminate any decaying food or waste products.

I would also suggest increasing your lighting frequency/duration as brown algae, unlike green algae, thrive in darker conditions. The "general" rule of thumb for lighting is 12 hours on, and 12 hours off. If this is hard to accomplish, a good timer can help keep your lighting on a schedule.

Lastly, I would recommend decreasing if not eliminating all use of extra chemical additives other than a good dechlorinator in your water, if you are using them. Chemical additives create unhealthy physiological stress on our fish in addition to breaking down into phosphates that will create perfect conditions for algae growth.

The addition of Otoclinus is also a great suggestion, as these fish add little to your bioload and a small team of them can wipe out a healthy brown algae problem in just a few days !

Good luck, and I hope this helps !
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Old 03-15-2004, 09:54 AM   #16
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Hmmm...none of those problems apply to our tank. I do not use chemical additives of any kind. I gravel vac every single week, and NOTHING is being vacuumed out of the gravel bed in the 20 gallon (the 5 and the 10 do have some gunk, but they don't have any brown algae). I did have to change to a blue light rather than a white light for the 20 because the blackfins were scared to death of the bright light. The tank is still very bright, even with the dimmer bulb in it.

We aren't overfeeding since all the food is gone within 5 minutes and what little bit does settle on the bottom, the catfish are cleaning up like gangbusters (they've doubled in size in a month).

So I don't know what the problem is. I've been wiping the glass down the day I do water changes (water parameters are fine...0 ammonia/0 nitrites/mimimal nitrates) and since the last wipe down, there is no more algae on the glass. It is still on the airstone and the plants, but they actually look kind of cool like that.

I decided to take Alli's advice and just wait it out to see how it goes. It's not increasing, so I guess it's slowly going away. If not, I'll look into the cats that Christmasfish recommended.

Now, if I can just figure out what the slime is that keeps appearing on half the beta tank (has a divider in the middle)...
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Old 03-15-2004, 11:26 AM   #17
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Otoclinus What are these? Are they eaiser to get than SAE? And how big do they get?
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Old 03-15-2004, 05:15 PM   #18
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They are hard to find during parts of the year becuae they are wild caught and not yet bred in any number at home. they are small, cute, industrious...but want clean water parameter and plenty greens. They are sensitive and gentle so a mean tankmate will prolly do em in. The bulk of them come from cooler waters of mountain feed rivers. Some are able to stand higher tropical temps. However they are not yet separated by area or species. So you never know what version you have. And that maxes my knowledge other than they are the best lil cleaners in da world! They max out in 1-2 inch range (again that species pig in a poke angle).
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