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Thread: Diatom Madness!

  1. #1
    Senior Member Carolpol's Avatar
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    Diatom Madness!

    Well I'm still at my wit's end with diatoms and decided to get some input from wetwebmedia. Here is my email and the awnser as seen for today on the Daily FAQ's on their site:
    Diatom Madness!
    Hello Crew of WWM.
    <Hi there! Scott F. here today!>
    I will start by saying thanks for all the work you have put into this great site! I have found a lot of information in all the FAQ's and links here.
    <Awesome! Glad that you have enjoyed the site!>
    I do need some input here for a problem I have been battling for close to 9 months now. I have gone through the web and your site many times (read countless hours) and have implemented some ideas but to no avail. I would like to get your input if you can find some time please. I also regret that my message is going to be so long but I want to give you as much information as possible.
    <Very helpful!>
    All started with a 4 year old set-up of 110 g. that was actually running without any problems. In October of 2004 we up-graded to our "dream set-up" that has been a nightmare ever since!
    Here is the set-up (all is running as 1)
    Basement 220 g (6 feet long.)
    (3x 400W 10k and 2 VHO actinics)
    3x Seio Powerhead 1500
    1 PH 500 gph
    3x DIY "sprinklers"
    1 Maxijet for surface (all to say I do have a lot of movement in these tanks)
    2 Yellow Tangs, 1 Regal Tang, 1 Purple Tang, 1 cleaner wrasse,1 A. Clarkii ,1 A. ocellaris,1 Lawnmower Blenny,2 Firefish
    SPS corals (very few, just started with frags donated),1 Heteractis magnifica anemone
    <Nice; but not a really good idea to keep with SPS corals, IMO.>
    On top 1st floor 125g (5 feet long):
    (VHO 1 daylight/ 1 actinic)
    2x Seio PH 620 gph
    1 Seio PH 1100 gph
    1 P. Volitans (7 inches) 1 Blue Chromis (started with 3 but I guess the Volitans got to hunting, was the point <g>),1 Brittle Star, all softy type corals .Cleaning crew: Astreas, Nassarius, Turbos, Cerith in both tanks. Hermits in the 220g.
    The whole system as over 450 lbs of LR
    Equipment:
    1 DIY Beckett-style skimmer,1 RS 626 skimmer (needle wheel type), NEW RO/DI changed all cartridges, and RO membrane less than 1 month ago again, and also added a 2nd DI to it (to get out more of the phosphates, see testing lower), ozone regulated by Aquacontroller to the ORP reading, UV light, refugium with Cheatomorpha,1 DIY calcium reactor,1 DIY Kalk reactor to the top off water. Running phosphate remover
    Tests of the system:
    Ammonia :0, Nitrate: 0, Nitrite:0,Calcium: 480, Alk: 8.0,dKH Phosphates: 0 (tap water: 1, after ro/di 0.05 with a Seachem test) Silicates: 0 (tap water : 4, after ro/di : 0 Seachem test also) pH: 8.2 day 8.0 night time<BR>Temperature: 79-80</DIV>
    Water changes every 4 weeks of 1 big garbage can worth.
    <Why not try smaller, more frequent water changes? Easier than you think, and a lot more beneficial, IMO.>
    Here is the problem: Diatoms!!!! All tanks, including the fuge, are covered in this really ugly brown algae. At first, I figured I was going to go through a small cycle because of the move from the 110 g to that massive system, but after 9 months, I do not think it is simply a question of waiting it out any more. So far we have added one skimmer (the needle type) thinking we need to remove more nutrients from the tank. We are getting some skimmate from it, so it was not a useless purchase. We added 1 Di to the RO/DI to insure we were not adding any phosphates or silicates to the system. We also put in a UV (to me it was a questionable purchase but my husband really wanted to add this one <g>) Am I missing something else I could do at this point? What I am really asking is: "How do I get rid of this ugly brown stuff?? " It is really bad. I have to spray the few
    SPS we have 2 times a day to ensure they don't suffocate under the diatoms. At this point, is it better to "spray" of my rocks (I can't even see the rocks anymore!) or just let the diatom go and they will eventually die off? I must say, in the close to 10 years we have been at this hobby, I have never seen this much diatoms and I am getting really tired of looking at what looks like a dirty set-up. Can someone give me any help here as to what to do more?
    <Well, it really sounds like you're doing everything possible to thwart the diatom problem. I am thinking that the source of the diatom nutrients is not in the water column. Perhaps it's in the substrate.>
    Should we:<BR>Vacuum the sand beds?
    <Only the top 1/2 inch or so.>
    Spray the rocks?
    <Not really a solution, IMO>
    Add any other equipment?
    <I think that you've spent enough already!>
    Let the diatoms do their thing (but how long)?
    <A possibility. Although I am an advocate of frequent water changes, it seems like there must be SOME silicate getting in there, probably in the source water, despite your test results. Perhaps, holding off on water changes for a while may cause the algae to "burn their fuel" and decrease in intensity. A worthwhile experiment, IMO.>
    Do more water changes?
    <Eventually...>
    Add any critters to the system?
    <Nope>
    Get out of the hobby? (not an option! ahaha)
    <Absolutely not an option!>
    Thank you in advance and keep up the good work!
    <I think that your best bet is to see if you really are bringing in silicate in your source water. Hold off on the water changes for a while, but keep working those skimmers. Let us know if you see any decline at all in the algae growth rate. Good luck and don't give up! Regards, Scott F.>


    Here is my plan of attack:
    Since I've tried the:" no water changes lets see if it dies" approach we will now try the "let's vaccum the sand bed and do more frequent water change" approach. I'm pretty sure I know how this all started now... while I was so adament on finding a solution on my phosphates I forgot (well really didn't "know") that silicates were the problem here :S so with my DI and RO membrane being at their last leg I was probably adding some silicates in the tank = more diatoms. Ah...... well if anyone has any other ideas/solutions feel free to add a comment! and hopefully I will have great news in 2-3 months!
    Carol
    Can we fit one more tank? :P
    Dont mind my spelling mistakes I've got an excuse...I'M FRENCH!

  2. #2
    Moderator mike536's Avatar
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    What about a Diatom filter. Vortex makes them. Volitian(Derik) Loves his. Might want to contact him and get some further info. Hope this helps.
    Cheers,
    Mike Philpott

  3. #3
    Senior Member Carolpol's Avatar
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    I have one... can't run it for more than 4 hours before it gets so blocked up that I have to take it appart, clean it and restart it! and ask Derick... it's a pain in the butt to clean! Maybe in a smaller system would be an option...
    Carol
    Can we fit one more tank? :P
    Dont mind my spelling mistakes I've got an excuse...I'M FRENCH!

  4. #4
    Moderator ShipWreck's Avatar
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    I am having a similar problem with diatoms and am also not sure what the cause is. Can silicates be measured in the water? I have not added anything other then top up for a couple of months now.
    Rob
    -----
    Upgrade in the works! Keep looking for an update.


  5. #5
    Senior Member ALRHA's Avatar
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    how about growing some macro algae in a fuge to compete with it?
    Albert
    My Photos

  6. #6
    Senior Member Carolpol's Avatar
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    Originally posted by ShipWreck
    I am having a similar problem with diatoms and am also not sure what the cause is. Can silicates be measured in the water?
    from what I understand yes if they are not being consummed as they are added by the diatoms....

    check your source water, seems to be the usual suspect when excessive diatom problems are present. RO/DI will absorb them.
    ALRHA: do macros eat silicates? I have cheato in my "fuge" and not really helping at this point.
    Carol
    Can we fit one more tank? :P
    Dont mind my spelling mistakes I've got an excuse...I'M FRENCH!

  7. #7
    Senior Member ALRHA's Avatar
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    not sure, but they do consume the nutrients in the system and leave less for the diatoms to feed off of. do you have them well lit and thinned out? when it grows too thick thebottom may not be getting light while the top is already at the surface and has no where to grow.
    Albert
    My Photos

  8. #8
    Senior Member Carolpol's Avatar
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    cheato is under 65w pc and like mr Calfo suggests the ball is gently rolling. See i also thought that diatoms feed of all kinds of stuff but from the extensive research I did it's only silicates! (go figure you say algae and i said phosphates but I was wrong )
    Give me GHA or cyano and I'll say excess nutrients.. but diatoms... these really got me stumped!
    Carol
    Can we fit one more tank? :P
    Dont mind my spelling mistakes I've got an excuse...I'M FRENCH!

  9. #9
    Senior Member ALRHA's Avatar
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    wow, i didnt know that, interesting.
    Albert
    My Photos

  10. #10
    Senior Member tang_man_montreal's Avatar
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    OK....
    Here's another train of thought....

    What about your substrate? If I remember correctly, you used silicate sand from Reno-Depot, and not aragonite based sand.

    I know that many people say that silicate sand is not an issue and will even argue that since glass is made silicates it's nothing to worry about, etc, etc.... However I'm not too sure.

    Did you rinse the sand before using it? I've used that same playsand several years ago (rinsed it really well), and do remember having some diatom issues at first. I don't remember how long they lasted though since the tank crashed not long after. I went with southdown when I set it up again.

    Maybe this is an avenue to look into?
    I am Homer of BORG... Prepare to be..OOOO!! DONUT!!!!!!

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