Persistent Diatoms in Mature Tanks & GDA

JohnC

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Hi Folks,

It's taken me a while to come query this online as i've been trying to get to the bottom of it myself for the last year.

This post is to tap into anyone's experience of similar or opinions on base causes.

As you may notice from my sig and possibly remember me i'm somewhat of an old hand at scaping (i think this would be my 15 year). I also have run a tank maintenance business and went "DEEP" into scaping over the last decade.

This has extended to moving north and building a scaping room in the garden to house all my scapes. With the whole thing fed from spring water from the hill. Which basically has no hardness and nothing in it. Effectively RO.

Alas stuff has never really gone that well in my home tanks. Client tanks are fine.

Various issues i've chased around in my tank room are running the whole room too hot (too much insulation) without heaters on any of the tanks. Fixed now. But 28 degrees to 30 was taking the mickey.

I've also accidentally overdone the Mg element of my fert regime while still adding in GH booster which added it anyway. I basically took my eye off the ball while being busy. Which meant I was dosing sky high amounts of GH/Mg. But at the same time had overlooked the KH which was bottoming out in some tanks.

All of which are issues i've corrected now as I'm remineralising out to approx 5dGH 3dKH.

In this time i've seen declining growth on many/all of the tanks (all running some variant of EI, declining amounts of ferts in lower energy set ups). As well as a outbreak of GDA that gradually infested ALL the tanks (all fert & all light regimes).

Coupled to this i've had an issue with constant, persistent diatoms appearing on older leaves of many plants. Causing poor growth. Despite having the relevant clear up crews in.

Current thinking is that my GDA was an outbreak first triggered in the warmest of the summer months (hot tank syndrome) as this relates to when i've had it before on client tanks and ties up with Denis Wong other peoples experience nicely. It happened first in my high energy setups but has gradually seeding around the room as i've done my weekly water changes.

Now the base heat is reduced in the room i'm addressing it in all the tanks left at the same time. Currently the first one is showing no signs of it reoccurring.

The Diatoms are another issue. Still present in most tanks on older growth. Prehaps a touch better on tanks where i've added extra Oxygen at night (that's a recent thing). I do have a lot of older aquasoil in a few of these tanks and have been taking a lot of time "deep cleaning it" of late. So was potentially thinking that was a link.

I am aware of the disconnect between silicates -> diatoms outbreaks. But i did also test my tap water for silicate levels previously. Pretty low for freshwater tbh.

Which leaves me pondering mini cycles causing diatoms to reoccur due to my KH bottoming out. But it still doesn't feel like an adequate answer.

Thoughts on anyone else's experiences with persistent diatoms pls?

-----------

I've actually become pretty worn out by the experience to be honest. But it might also be me coming to the end of the road of my time with high energy planted tanks as well. Life has taken me onto other projects of late so my time is becoming ever more precious.

I'm also a little bit jaded by the type of scapes i've done in the past and would like to try some different things in fish keeping (my god i'm getting bored of fish jumping out that i'd have love to have kept) and try to develop a different style that more suits my life, my location in scotland and my ethos.

I would however like to get to the bottom of these issues i'm having at home to put things to rest in a better way then just stopping on a sour note.

Any help/experiences welcome.

Best Regards,
John
 

hogan53

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Hi John
Don't think the overdosing of Mg would be a problem.
Diatoms are usually associated with ammonia and immature set-ups!
How old are your substrates!
Dirty filters could be one of the causes of diatoms.
What're the parameters of your tap water?
hoggie
 

JohnC

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Hi man,

Long time no speak. :)

Don't think the overdosing of Mg would be a problem.
I'd agree that it hadn't caused an issue as such as Mg isn't going to hurt the plants/fish etc but I ended up with readings of dGH of 10+ in cases with dKH 0/1.... I did plenty of reading around and chatted to Denis and Tom B about it as well and nothing really points at such imbalances in hardness/alkalinity causing an issue, or even imbalances in the ratios associated with it causing theses issues.....but...... i keep coming across people having similar problems and also having similar water re-mineralsation fails, so thought id mention it.

Diatoms are usually associated with ammonia and immature set-ups!
Yup. Which is why I possibly honed in on the KH/PH dropping out and the filter bacterial colonies failing and re-establishing. I read some stuff surrounding lower kh readings and the effect on nitrification bacteria in the past.

How old are your substrates!
Depends on the tank, some have aquasoil that is 2 years old. Others have older soil that i've re-used, capped with newer soil. Others are pea gravel and sand. With a smaller section of new aquasoil in a tub. All suffering from diatoms in some degree when they "shouldn't" be.

Dirty filters could be one of the causes of diatoms.
Yup, been cleaning them like a trooper. Also have added active carbon to the purigen pads in them recently trying to see if it would help. Nope.

What're the parameters of your tap water?
Zero everything :)
TDS is about 40 tbh.
Ph comes out the tap about 6.5 and highly oxygenated.
It eats the copper pipes at the house. recently I went chasing down the route of "are my plants getting heavy metal poisoning" due to elevated metal readings at the hall next door. I bought a copper test kit for the house and fish room in the garden but other then the first 10 seconds of water clearing the tap and copper pipe in there the readings quickly drop to zero. The readings from water coming from the header tanks into the fish tanks in the room show zero copper/trace. The shrimp are fine. So it's not heavy metal poisoning. :/


Best Regards,
John
 

hogan53

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Hi John
Not sure what the answer is!

I would try and increase the kh to about 8.
It is a bit of a mystery that your getting diatoms in mature set-ups!
Employing vigorous gravel penetrating...could upset the aquarium balance.

Its a tad strange that your clients don't have problems!
hoggie
 

JohnC

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The gravel vaccing was increased as a response to the diatoms tbh. I instigated some deeper cleans of the older aquasoils too. Which were recommended tbh by experts and i've done with sucess in the past too.

Because it's effecting all the tanks to some degree I was trying to cover all room variable.

Room Temp - too hot - sorted
Room Temp - Getting too low and varying too much - installed heaters on tanks
Water Quality - Tested my spring water to hell and back - nothing obvious
Water Quality - Added in active carbon - no help
Light Levels - Could be too low - but its happening on high and low energy tanks

Since it's only happening on older leaves/slower growth leaves I might surmise its a trace issue but i'm using APF trace to varying degrees depending on how much energy is going in. I was using up some older TNC Dry trace before i remember these issues happening. Again thou i'm not thinking this is really the issue. The diatoms also occured when I was doing TNC Complete for a period instead of DIY EI mixes.

I switched from standard EI mixes to Denis Wongs leaner recipes in a couple of tanks (including Mg into the mix) for a bit mid hassles. But moved back to straight EI type mixes when I clocked I was going well overboard with the Mg.

All very frustrating really. Especially as I consider myself an old hat at these things. I really want to get to the bottom of it all.

Best Regards,
John
 

JohnC

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Possibly, but i've also addressed the flow in the lower flow tanks with additional powerheads and pumps. Still diatoms.

In one tank they started off on the Bolbitis which was directly in the flow from a 1800 lph filter in a 150L tank!

Another thing i'd been chasing around recently is that I might have too low Oxygen levels, thus poor nitrogen cycle... a stretch in a fully planted tank but maybe because the GH was so high there wasn't much pearling visible etc.... I run skimmers on everything and had relied on that for extra gas exchange rather then what I used to do in the house, move outlets up and down. The twinstar clones i used to run had all packed in too.

So hooked up an airpump and stones onto two of the tanks to see if it improved things (running at night for 6 hours or so), that was a couple of weeks back. It may have had some effect on growth but i can still see diatoms on some of the leaves. These are the last two tanks that i'm treating for the GDA outbreak however so i'm not going to comment on overall health in those tanks until that is nailed.

If I go down from the 7 scapes to a lesser amount i'll probably keep these final two as planted until I've worked out what the hell is going on. I'm slowly binning scapes and selling off kit currently. :(
 

hogan53

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Hi John
Test for elevated phosphate!
If the diatoms are on the glass clean off with a paper towel.
Test one tank, do a blackout for a couple of days on it!
 

JohnC

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generally i've turned most of the kessils down and mounted them high. I've got a PAR meter and the worst tanks are split both high and low end. 35 - 80ish mols. Admittedly there are lots of lights in the same room and there was some differences in the timers on the different wall runs. Amended now.

i've not tried a black out on any of the tanks. Do they work for diatom removal? I've only used them for cyno in the past.
 

hogan53

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I'm not sure if a blackout will tell you a lot....but if the diatoms disappear it could be a light issue!
It's worth a try;)
 

Witcher

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With the whole thing fed from spring water from the hill.

TDS is about 40 tbh.

Can this be a silicate in that water? It's usually seen as a reason for long term diatom outbreak. I'd personally fill one of the tanks with the water coming from completely different source (RO for example, with TDS = 0 initially and then re-mineralised by you to desired level) and wait couple of weeks to see the effect.
 

alto

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This isn’t going to be very helpful but I’d put it down to just general “imbalance” ... which isn’t an easy state to get out of

As you’re feeling the stress and not really having the time, I’d clear out 5 tanks (to gorgeous sparkling glass etc so they’re full of potential, drain the filters and rinse the media to remove all debris, then reset them as if going to run them all tomorrow - but just fill a few cm’s of water into the filter bottom - I have Eheim with baskets so I just add enough water to partially emerse the lowest (mechanical) basket), and leave the tapes open for air movement

I’ve had filters in this state for well over a year, set up a new impulse tank (Tropica soil, plants etc) and added the impulse purchased chocolate gouramis (I’d been looking for over 2 years) the next day, added an Ammonia Alert, pH Alert ... everything went splendidly and tank seemed fully cycled 5-6 days later

Now you’ve time for daily water changes and physical maintenance on the 2 remaining tanks (and hopefully feeling more energy, some excitement)

When you’ve the energy, clean up the removed Aquarium Soils from the other tanks and dry and store
(Filipe Oliveira always has buckets of cleaned, dried aquarium soils that he reuses in the AquaFlora show tanks - I wish he’d do a short video on the process ;))

Don’t sell off anything for at least 6 months - returned value on most used fishkeeping equipment is just not there, better to be certain you don’t want to use it again before dumping ... and you may get better value by re-using in new client setups

If you’re wanting to do some fish only setups, it’s easy to add glass tops etc to rimless aquariums

Aquarium Design Group do a lot of hardscape + fish aquariums that look amazing
(I assume very low light to minimize algae, but carefully chosen for suitable spectrum)

My tap water is 0-1KH, 1-1+GH, pH 6-6.5
I’ve seen tanks with enduring diatoms (and other algaes) - easiest/quickest is just a complete reset with mostly new plants (as existing plants only have damaged leafs, and poor/no energy stores)
I don’t think that you will ever be able to point to a single change that “solved” the present issues, rather it will be a cumulative effect

Obviously you can go the route that George Farmer took with his 1200 scape (that developed quite extraordinary algae)

If you want to recover your existing plants, why not set up some emerse growth tanks (some plant sp will transition easily, some won’t)

As I’m the impatient sort, I’d pull everything even from the 2 tanks I plant to keep, deep clean the substrate Filipe Oliveira style (and recharge the nutrients in the soil so that you can follow lean water column dosing)
VLOG step by step Rescape of the 60L

Clean the hardscape
Clean the plants (and remove all damaged, poor condition leafs even if you end up just replanting bare rhizomes)
Rescape - I’d add some new, fast growing stems to increase plant density
You could also try a dry start method - unsure how well this would work, as it’s usually done with nursery grown plants that are already emerse state and have good energy reserves, while your plants will need to transition from submerse culture
You could also run a reduced water column height (higher light levels, increased surface area to volume ratio so oxygenation should also be optimized), run a load of CO2, daily water changes with cooler water (possibly add shrimp, snails, some Otocinclus as algae crew - these will be fine with 21-22C but may limit CO2 used)
Consider Amano method where he adds increased aeration for all hours outside the photoperiod BUT if there is significant ambient light in your “scaping room”, I recommend running some CO2 throughout the daylight hours, then increase CO2 for actual photoperiod, run airstone etc overnight

For remineralizing, I’d only go KH 4-5, GH 2-5 - and use a proprietary mix where attention has been paid to the purity of the ingredients and accompanying salts (though you may be confident (and motivated) to do this yourself, I’d just buy into Green Aqua’s blend, then transition over once plant’s are established ;))
 

alto

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Of course the best option would be to do
Tank 1 my way
Tank 2 the slow persistent recovery method
:D
 

PARAGUAY

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Hi John
Test for elevated phosphate!
If the diatoms are on the glass clean off with a paper towel.
Test one tank, do a blackout for a couple of days on it!

Just my input I had my 55g metre long tank with just Java ferns and two fluval U2 filters TNC light fertiliser no CO2 everything looking good .Lighting 2 t5 tropical tubes. Bored a bit I changed everything around raised substate tropica soil and sand areas plenty of bogwood and azalea Looked fine started CO2 using EI changed lights to 2 12watt LED and 2000 ex filter. Planted some stems couple of Amazon swords. Gradually got brown algae then improved on its own but then came back in abundance. Put this down to excess phosphates without a test. Put product Clearwater in filter with (do I need it?)and purigen bag. Things are improving new growth less algae and a couple of big WCs. No activated carbon used
 

hogan53

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Hi
John has a scaping room, multiple tanks they all have levels of diatoms and GDA....could be light and heat generated issue!
A sure way to find out if it is the above, ........is to rip down an aquarium and move into an area of the house....deep clean it re-scape, and monitor its progress.
hoggie
 

JohnC

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Thanks replies so far guys, alas i'm not sure any "golden bullet" answers so far. I have kind of gone through everything i can think of in the last year trying to nail this.

I'm a little rushed just now for more specific answers but here is a photo of the room last March. Before I filled a couple of extra tanks.

The setups are using Kessil 160's that are dialed down (i have a par meter) in most cases. I also run x10 filtration or more in most tanks. Ferts are a mix of levels of EI depending on tank energy levels.


53359635_2060510714063648_3374196848280469504_o.jpg
 

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