HOW TO: Get rid of Brown Algae/Diatom Bloom
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HOW TO: Get rid of Brown Algae/Diatom Bloom

This is a discussion on HOW TO: Get rid of Brown Algae/Diatom Bloom within the Planted Tank Specific forums, part of the Aquarium Related Chat category; I'm no algae expert but brown algae growing on the glass and on the surface of rocks etc is a ...

  1. #1
    Mr Know It all jobber's Avatar
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    May 2010

    DefaultHOW TO: Get rid of Brown Algae/Diatom Bloom

    I'm no algae expert but brown algae growing on the glass and on the surface of rocks etc is a diatom bloom. Similar to the below picture.

    What are diatoms you ask?
    Diatom is a very common type of algae which occurs most of the time towards the end of a tanks' cycling period. It is typically tan or brown in colour.

    What causes it?
    "Causes of diatoms
    Virtually all new aquariums will go through a diatom bloom, which is nothing to worry about. Once they’ve reduced the excess nutrients they thrive on – particularly silicates – they will die back and other algae will move in unless limited by plant growth. In more mature aquariums, the cause of diatom blooms may be excessive nitrate and other nutrients, a lack of light – which diatoms don’t really require but which will stunt other competing plant growth – or insufficient oxygen." Lack of water circulation and direct/indirect sunlight is also known to contribute to the cause.

    How can I do to get rid of it?
    "Treatment - In a new tank, just wait until the bloom passes. In an older tank, do a clean-up and several large water changes to reduce the nutrient load. You may need to treat your tapwater if the problem is persistent. As with all algae solutions, heavy plant growth will out-compete diatoms – you’ll need to provide sufficient lighting and the correct micronutrients for plants. Some fish and snails will browse on diatoms, but only a full environmental clean-up will suppress them if they occur in mature tanks."
    • If it is on the tank glass, just manually wipe it off but remember to fix the cause of the problem
    • water change, more water circulation, lessen your feedings
    • You may choose to get some otocinclus or baby bristlenose plecos of which love to eat the diatoms

    Source: Algae control in a freshwater aquarium

    Other resources:

    It's not that bad of a problem and can be easily resolved. Once your tank matures and the cycling stabilizes, the re-occurrence decreases. Just keep up with water changes, ensure you don't overfeed and have left over food (which causes an increase in phosphates), and you're all set.

    Good luck.

    Other related material and threads:
    Last edited by jobber; 11-04-2012 at 09:26 AM.
    Diztrbd1 and mikebike like this.

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  3. #2
    Super Moderator Diztrbd1's Avatar
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    Apr 2010


    Great post Ming! worthy of a sticky I believe

  4. #3
    Mr Know It all 2wheelsx2's Avatar
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    Apr 2010
    South Burnaby


    Nice one Ming. Lots of big water changes, like 2 or 3x a week at 50+% or more, will speed up this cycle of brown algae bloom also.
    jobber likes this.
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  5. #4
    Mr Know It all Reckon's Avatar
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    Jul 2012
    Maple Ridge


    When starting a tank, is it possible to negate the diatom bloom by using a UV filter? But it might kill the good bacteria we're trying to grow on the bio media?
    Last edited by Reckon; 08-29-2012 at 07:22 PM.

  6. #5
    Forum Novice UnderseaGal's Avatar
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    Mar 2014


    Just the thread I was looking for - encountering my first algae problem in my 6 gal.
    Large water changes it is!
    Thanks for posting all this useful info!

  7. #6
    Forum Guru Foxtail's Avatar
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    Mar 2012


    Another really quick and easy way is ramshorn snails

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk

  8. #7
    Forum Beginner
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    Jan 2014


    I started a new tank with a sweet piece of volcanic rock . little did i know it was totally affecting ph in my tank to the point all algae died except for brown algae. And it was bad , as soon as i removed the stone it pretty much vanished . I have a co2 system , good lights , heavy planting . thought i could win the battle with water changes and love , lol. Certain stones are neutral eg granite but for all those who have tried everthing it could all be because of a rock.Ps ph was aprox 6.9 - 7.1 with stone and is now 6.7-6.8 and everything is happy ,including me. good luck cause i tried everything on the web and had been fighting it off for a year .



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