Here is my set up... 

New 10g freshwater dirted tank

40g Whisper filter - carbon added after 3 weeks of cycling to help extract access ammonia from the dirt

54w Coralife power compact

2 shrimp

DIY CO2 - 1 bubble per minute

No fish in the beginning to let everything cycle. Tank cycled for 1 month, the water was VERY brown after 1 day, really nasty after 2. Water changes every other day, now ever three days. The brown algae started on EVERYTHING and the ammonia was so bad I started running carbon to help clean up the water. New growth at the top looks great, healthy, but the lower down the plant stem the more brown algae.

I talked to another FISHTANK.TV member who suggested that I reduce the light and time, so I have another Coralife light, I think 30w that I am going run for 4 hours a day until algae dies off. I also just put another 4 shrimp (they seem to like the algae) and a plecostomus just to help the process along.

Any other suggestions? I wanted to document this so I would be available for others new to dirting tanks :) 

Thanks in advance!


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Diatoms are common in new tanks under 6 months old. This is a unicellular colonizing algae, that consumes silicates in tap water. Eventually bacteria in the tank and filter builds up and discourages brown diatoms from getting father than a fine dust on the plant leaves and glass.

You do not have to worry or do anything special for it, though sucker mouthed catfish and shrimp readily consume it. One otocinclus cat per 5G of tank volume will do a good amount to prevent it and consume whats there. Be wary of most plecostomous species as they can grow large & damage/consume/uproot plants.

reducing the extreme waterchange frequency may make your other problems worse, but may reduce the amount of diatom algae int eh tank, as you aren't introducing a new fresh amount of silicates into the tank every time.

Awesome, thanks for the tip. I also just put some ceramic rings from my established tank into the whisper filter to help the bio-filtration. 

Yes, that will help. Some floss or sponge would also. As will dosing a Bacteria Supplement such as Seachem Stability.

The brown algae subsided after a couple of months. I did end up putting some floss in my filter to grab larger particles and grow healthy bacteria, my water and plants are doing great. I do now have an issue with green spot algae. I have read that it is due to the lack of phosphates. I am going to start dosing Flourish Phosphates to help with that. We will see if it helps the spot algae and the plants to grow a little quicker. I will keep this forum posted. 

Also, you might be getting too much light in from your window.

Naw diatoms are from low light or excess silicates like gsp said not excess light




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