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Old 12-01-2005, 01:31 PM   #1
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Brown Algae......bad, good, can I get rid of it?

Hi All....

My 20 gall has been up & running for just over 2 months now. All of the fish are doing great. I've noticed over the last couple of weeks that brown algae is coming up on the gravel, the silk plants, and the decorations. It's not severe.....but it's definitely not attractive, either.

I do weekly water changes of 50-70% and I check my nitrate levels weekly before the pwc--never seen them over 5 ppm.

I've read all sorts of varying things about the causes--including phosphate levels. Also heard it would go away on its own........

I'm guessing chemicals wouldn't be a good idea....but what can I do, if anything? Does it really disappear on its own, & if so, how long does that take?

My tank is stocked with:

1 Dwarf Gourami
5 Platies
1 Swordtail
8 Lemon Tetras

Would really appreciate some input on this......I love my tank but I'm a little discouraged with the not-so-attractive brown algae.

Thanks!
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Old 12-01-2005, 01:39 PM   #2
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If I recall correctly, phosphates should not be an indicator of brown algae. Green algae, yes, but not brown. It will go away on its own. In the meantime, just wipe it off. It won't harm your fish. The brown algae is a common occurence in new tanks.
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Old 12-01-2005, 02:50 PM   #3
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I also have a tank that has been up and running for about 2 months and I'm having trouble with brown algae also. The tank in not in direct sunlight but it does get alot of outside light could this cause it? I'm tired of looking at the brown stuff. I've got another tank that has been up for about 8 months and I've not had this problem with it.
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Old 12-01-2005, 02:52 PM   #4
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Is the algae slimy at all? Or does it look like dust, and come off easily with a finger?

You could be dealing with diatoms, or brown algae. Two different algaes, and two different treatments to get rid of it
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Old 12-01-2005, 02:56 PM   #5
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Mine is Slimy. You have to scrub it off of the side of the tank and I soak the tank decorations in a 10% bleach solution about once ever few weeks to clean it off.
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Old 12-01-2005, 03:14 PM   #6
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When you scrub it, does it come off in sheets? Is it thick? Any bubbles in it?
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Old 12-01-2005, 03:26 PM   #7
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Lighting? Filtration? Phosphates do not cause algae, despite what many people say. I have tested this theory time and time again. Diatoms can occur when lighting is insufficient or poor waterflow in the tank. I don't know of any other brown algae in freshwater aquariums.
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Old 12-01-2005, 05:32 PM   #8
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Its thick and sort of comes off in sheets.

I've got a 29gal with a AquaClear 300 and 2 36in 40watts total.
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Old 12-01-2005, 05:37 PM   #9
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Brown algae is diatoms. It's normal, although annoying in a mature, low light tank. It looks absolutely terrible, but it comes off so easily with a simple rinse or gentle wipe. Increasing the light intensity helps reduce it, as does adding live plants, which probably soak up trace nutrients that would otherwise feed the diatoms. I haven't tried this myself, but I've read that a piece of live bamboo with about an inch sticking in the water will absorb the silicates that brown diatoms need to thrive.
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Old 12-01-2005, 05:38 PM   #10
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hi, this is my first forum post and i've only been keeping fish for a couple of years but i have been reading up about keeping them a lot.
I just want to offer some possibilities to what the problem might be.
One thing i've read is overcompensating on the water changes ie: trying to keep the water clean and fresh will only feed the algae with more nutrients. You shouldn't need to change more than 30% of the water if you're doing it weekly.
As far as resolving the problem, one way to treat algae is to introduce something to outcompete it. Something that lives on the same nutrients leaving the algae with nothing to feed off. Moss balls are good for this, easy to introduce and no maintenance. Or live plants.
If it's diatoms, then the causes are either insufficient light, oxygen deficiency or excess nitrate.
My first tank was a tiny 20 ltr one which i basically left to rot when i upgraded. The plants where covered with thick gluey algae, it was pretty gross. I hoovered up most of it and change 75% of the water and put in 4 shrimp. They loved it and cleaned the whole thing in a matter days. if the fish won't eat them, I highly recomend getting some.
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Old 12-01-2005, 06:58 PM   #11
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Ok.......now I'm confused ---So should I increase the lighting???? I've got a 15 watt fluorescent on a 20 gall w/ no live plants. When I'm at work during the day, the tank light is off--when I get home, it's on for around 4 hours or so. Weekends it's on all day long.

I'm encouraged to hear that it'll clear up on it's own.........are we talking weeks, months.........??? My biggest concern is that it's going to get out of hand .

Thanks again!
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Old 12-01-2005, 07:36 PM   #12
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I'd do several things. Make sure you don't overfeed, increase frequency of water changes to cut back on excess nutrients, and clean gravel and filters more often. If you can you could also try increasing water movement.
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Old 12-01-2005, 09:55 PM   #13
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I was thinking that since my nitrates aren't getting above 5 ppm I must've been doing ok as far as water changes go (50-70% 1x/wk)?? I feed once a day, though not huge amounts, and I thoroughly vacuum the gravel with every water change. This is why I'm so confused as to what I'm doing wrong with this tank?

How could I increase water movement? Do I need a bigger filter than the Penguin 150 on a 20 gall?

Those of you who have experienced this in your tanks.......how long before it cleared up?
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Old 12-02-2005, 12:46 AM   #14
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Also having this problem, but i have a 55g and my decorations cannot be cleaned, to many rocks. When you say this stuff will go away on its own, do you mean the presence of it will or even existing algae will go away? Will I have to wipe down everything eventually?
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Old 12-02-2005, 12:58 AM   #15
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Try cutting back on your water change to about 30% once a week and keeping the lights on during the day. Better yet, purchase a timer and set the lights to come on in the morning, then turn off for an hour during the day, and back on until the evening. The break in the light will help discourage green algae. When I had the issue I had it for about 3 weeks then all of a sudden one day it was all gone.
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Old 12-02-2005, 06:32 AM   #16
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IMO, you are dealing with cyanobacteria. Slimy brown algae that is thick and comes off in sheets. Maybe this is directed to Bhunsucker only, but there are 2 kinds of brown algae, although not exclusively. It can be diatoms, or it can be cyano, which can be brown, red, green, purple, etc. I'm a strong believer in the phophate theory of algae, although some are not. With reducing the amount of phosphate in my tank, my algae had decreased, and I've heard many other people say the same thing.

You can cure cyano by reducing lighting, changing out light bulbs, and overall reducing nutrients in your tank. Diatoms on the other hand, can grow in any amount of light and are not light sensitive.

HTH
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Old 12-02-2005, 09:29 AM   #17
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The algae I'm seeing is not slimy at all........it's almost like a powder & I can easily wipe it off. (The problem with that is that it comes right back ).

I guess I always thought that water changes decreased nitrates, which are food for the algae......so I figured the more water I change every week, the less there would be for the algae to exist on.

I apologize in advance if this is a stupid question , but why would changing LESS water be better----wouldn't that allow more nutrient build up in the tank????? Again, sorry to be a pest............I'm just trying to understand how it works.
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Old 12-02-2005, 10:03 AM   #18
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I was just speaking from the fish point of view. Larger water changes can be more stressful on fish than smaller more frequent water changes. This is a debatable issue. Some believe that large water changes done weekly will better control the tank. Some believe that several smaller water changes will be better for the fish. It just depends what you think is better for your fish. If the algae is powdery, it will go away on its own. Try getting your lights on a timer to give the tank a more "natural" setting for the fish.

Not a pest at all, that's what these forums are for. Ask as many questions as you need.
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Old 12-02-2005, 12:10 PM   #19
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I agree with Fishy. Be patient, and it will go away almost as quickly as it appeared.

Personally, I do about a 30 or 40 percent water change once every 2 weeks, and its worked well for me. Sometimes more often if needed.
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Old 12-02-2005, 12:43 PM   #20
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regarding cyano--and i have to tell you i have not had the pleasure of desling with it--travis simonson always says that a sure fire way of knowing whether you have it is that it smells awful! fwitw.
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