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Still getting brown leaves, i think...

Unlike green algae, diatoms can survive in conditions with very low light levels, and very low nutrient levels.

However, their growth is fuelled by Silica. It is my understanding that silica is the number 1 food source for aquarium diatoms, and that the number 1 cause is new substrate leeching silica.

The idea is that if you increase the lights, the plants will use all of the nutrients available to them, including the silica, starving the diatoms of their primary food source.

At low light, the plants are not using all the nutrients, and so there is still remaining silica which is used by the diatoms to fuel their growth
guess I have to look at MY circumstances and decide the way forward. I don't consider having had too much light for over 4 months now (TMC's at anywhere between 20 - 23% over this period,
Rob - I think this along with the PAR reading I showed you confirms you do not currently have 'high light'. That does not mean you didn't when the diatoms were 'induced'.

I don't consider the tank anywhere near bad enough to do a blackout.
I thought along the same lines too. I think the way to view it is not that you are trying to kill off the diatom by doing this, but also to improve plant health. I found if you do a blackout the plants will like it, but the diatoms won't. I remember hearing recently that TGM switch their lights off at at a weekend- with positive results apparently.

I've approx 10x circulation/flow and have good sway on all plants all around the tank, I can't increase CO2 safely any further, but with the PH profile being good and dropping 1.2 consistently in moderately hard water and lime green DC I don't think it's needed. And I dose EI which should be more than ample for my plant mass. My maintenance regime is consistent and thorough.
This all being correct then you should not have a problem, or need to increase Co2 further. Can you recall how/when the diatoms were originally induced?

My first time around I wasn't sure, but the second time around was due to a fault with my Co2. I've read this happening to others and they get BBA or something else, really we should be glad of diatoms as unlike BBA they are relatively straightforward/easy to resolve.

Once you've cured it this time, if they ever come back again you'll know it is due to some problem (Co2, flow or whatever), the first course of action should be to reduce or even switch off the lighting until you have fixed the cause. With that done you can turn the lighting back on/up carry on as before.

I know it can be really frustrating but the above which is largely based upon advice I got here from Ceg4048 will help/work!!

I really would give the advice (just the posts by Ceg4048 really) in this thread Diatom dilemma... | UK Aquatic Plant Society a re read, as I neither have the knowledge or way with words to explain it as well myself :lol:!
Can you recall how/when the diatoms were originally induced?

Hey Reuben, yes, I remember very well 😀 lol. Baptism of fire :woot: I'll bare all and show you progress/decline/resurgance...

Tank set up 31st August. Internal background fitted, JBL aquabasis under sand, nice wood in, quite a few plants. Dosed NeutroT and Neutro CO2 daily from day 1 (having never used ferts etc before). Lights at 100% for waaay too long. No pressurised CO2...


Looked good for at least 3 weeks and grew very well. 22nd September, 3 weeks in...


By early October BBA was all over the wood, in the moss, brown algae on rocks, plants and background (which I was regretting by this point lol), hair/thread/fuzz in moss/on plants. Had looked into things a bit, got CO2 kit together and was just starting out with it, bought a circulation pump but was already chasing problems by now (look how 'fluffy' the wood looks lol). Also doing every other day 50% changes by now, lights i'd lowered to 60% or something and i was using Neutro+ ferts...


Jog on a month (6th November) I couldn't clean the large wood so abandoned it, ripped out a load of plants, still increasing CO2 all the time through in tank ceramic diffuser, lowered lights to 25%, still on with every other day water changes @ 50%, 1st Hydor had packed up by this point lol, was generally feeling very low about things but receiving advice from ceg/UKAPS folk by now and determined to turn things around. Tank was still looking horribly brown and decided background had to come out at some point (what an effing job and half that was!! 😡 )


So 3 weeks later, day off work, drained tank/moved fish out and eventually tussled background out :rage:. Took everything dirty out. Week before i'd put tetratec ex1200 on, longer spraybar, some purigen in, black background and inline co2 diffuser and replacement Hydor. Also now aware of CO2 profile testing with electronic pen and working on that, felt positive again, albeit tank a little bare (but at least cleaner looking!!) and lights about 20% for 6 hours...


Jump 3 more weeks (22nd December now), had bought a few plants of folk here and there, PH drop/profile good by now, flow good, started using EI by now and things were looking positive. Down to weekly maintenance/water change of 50%. Plants growing/filling out and minimal algae (just a few brown leaves here and there)...


Shortly after Christmas/New Year I recharged purigen pack and replaced it, then a day later almost all my stems melted, some completely destroyed in 24hrs :bawling:, others deteriorated over the next week or so. Put this down to bleach left in purigen, as I cannot think of anything else that would cause such a spectacular crash! (Ironically put a Twinstar device in tank between Xmas and New Year lol). Not deterred, bought a few more pots and this was taken last week....


So, it's been a rocky ride and have really always been chasing algae, although after the early days it's only brown leaves that have persisted. No return of BBA (except a little on the small wood again which SAE have taken care of thanks boys 😉) or green/fuzz/thread etc.

Well, that's practically a blog in one post 😀 Sorry guys! I have a new Optiwhite and landscape rock idea but a) need to build a cabinet and b) i'm honestly too scared to do it until I can grow 100% healthy plants with no algea, hence why i'm so keen to sort this out once and for all!

Rob 🙂
Epic post! Quite a roller coaster ride too:lol: The background sounds a laugh:lol:

That second to last photo (before the purigen/bleach episode) looks good to me, seems as if you are more or less on track now?

However you decide to play it from here, all the best!
lol, thanks for reading it Reuben 🙂 took care of the last 45 minutes of my working week if nothing else, made all the better that someone has actually bothered to read it all 😀
Hi Rob,
The solution is always the same. Deteriorated plants with browning is always attributable to some combination of high light and poor CO2. Whatever change(s) you made to the tank somehow disrupted this "light+CO2 equation".

To resolve this recurring issue the solution, again, is always the same: Reduce light + Improve CO2.

HOW you accomplish this depends on the mechanism of the CO2 deficiency, so there are a few options.
As mentioned in other similar threads, the first thing to do is the reduce the lighting and/or photoperiod.

Second thing to do is to do as many large water changes as possible. Water changes improve the availability of CO2 while at the same time removes toxins and algal triggers that accumulate from the plant tissues browning and dying.

Supplement the CO2 with daily dosing of liquid carbon dosed just prior to the beginning of the photoperiod.

Improve flow/distribution by cleaning filters, or by checking/rearranging flow configuration. Check for kinked hosing or other sources of obstruction.

In the case of diatomic algae try a 3-4 day blackout, which usually helps.

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HI Martin,

Yeh i haven't seen brown algae for quite a while now mate, 2/3 months at least i reckon. I kind of turned everything up all at once, lights, gas, ferts & flow and the plants grew quickly. Trimmed all the brown stuff off and never saw it come back. I'd also added a chunk of extra plants i was given that greatly increased plant mass around the same time.

I did turn everything down about 5/6 weeks ago though as i'm certain i was stressing the tank despite exceptional plant growth/health. So now i have less light, gas etc but haven't seen a return of anything brown, just get a bit of GSA here and there, mainly on the lower sheltered leaves of the stems which get trimmed and replanted regularly anyway 🙂

Diatoms appear in immature tanks where there is possibly very low ammonia levels despite undetected on a test. In non planted tanks adding extra mature filter often solves the issue accompanied with very good flow. Diatoms do not like flow, they like stagnant areas of the tank, they love ammonia too.
In my experience, the light level doesn't make a difference to them as in being a trigger, but has an affect of how fast they grow.