Brown Algae: What is it? & The Best Way to Remove it From Your Tank

Lauren Kiekbusch
Brown algae

In the beginning, the fresh fish tank is always crystal clear. But, after a time span, it becomes a brown slimy mess. If you are dealing with your fish tank, then you know very well about the brown algae problem.

In fact, the brown algae is a terrible brown, slimy thing that will cover the whole tank.Now, the million-dollar question is, how to remove brown algae?

Having an aquarium of your own, you may have already faced the dreadful brown color inside the tank wall. There might be Silica Algae or Brown Algae causing the problem. As soon as being set on the tank, it will immediately cover most sides of your fish tank with a pale, dark brown layer.

While the starting of your fish keeps, this problem can keep a very bad influence on your tank. And as a newcomer to the aquarist world, most people may feel it’s too problematic to run his fish keeping. 

But, here is good news for you. It is very simple to remove the brown algae and clean up it throughout the surface. By taking some measures, you can even stop brown algae from growing in a fish tank. 

In this article, we are here with a complete guide to let you defeat the brown algae in your fish tank.

What is Brown Algae?What is Brown Algae?

The shocking thing is that the Brown algae are not algae at all. Rather, it is made up of a super small animal named diatoms. It has different species namely freshwater species, and marine algae. You will find brown algae in any aquatic surroundings.

In general, some brown algae get mixed with the surface and it may be invisible at times. But, if it gets huge in amounts, the situation is familiar as diatom bloom. And, in the following condition, your aquarium will be surrounded by brown algae. It is never a great thing for fish keeping at all.

Why do Brown algae act very similar to normal algae? They have many similarities. For example, both of them require light to grow, both consume organic fish wastes such as nitrates and phosphates.

The most pathetic thing about these algae is, they are extremely painful for you when they come out of control in an aquarium. And, what is the difference between brown algae and real algae? 

That is, brown algae require silica to survive, but true algae does not. Once you have started fish keeping in a new fish tank, it is very obvious that brown algae will start to fill up the wall of your aquarium. 

If the nutrient balance within your fish tank becomes excessive, then the brown algae will eat these extra foods and stay alive in your tank.

Normally, the brown algae will clear out on its own after some weeks. Though, sometimes it may need some months to go away.

By taking some measures, you can remove brown algae from your fish. We’ll discuss the methods later. Just keep reading the article until the end. 

Interesting Facts About Brown Algae 

An interesting thing about brown algae is that most people don’t know, it isn’t actually algae at all. How? Let’s discuss it.  

And, by using similar disposal techniques for brown algae that are done for other algae, you can not succeed. In fact, Brown Algae is a super-small animal named diatom. Or, we can tell, diatoms are a major group of algae. 

Diatoms are so tiny that you can’t watch them without a microscope. The crazy question may come from you now. That is, as the diatoms are invisible without a microscope, then why can I see brown algae clearly in my aquarium?

For your kind information, brown algae are entirely made of thousand of millions of small diatoms. To give a technical definition, it is said that brown algae are literally a bacterial colony. And it will cover the brown film inside your aquarium.

How Your Fish Tank Is Covered With Brown Algae?

In fact, the diatoms don’t come into a fish tank from any outside source. Rather the source of creating diatoms is the fish or the fish diet.

There are several kinds of algae that are visible in an aquarium. Maybe, they are brown, green, or white. There is always a chance of their growing up. 

Diatoms are one type of microalgae. As we know, all aquatic water can contain microscopic creatures, micronutrients, as well as microalgae also.

One question may come to your mind: why there is no algae in our toilets, or why algae don’t exist in our drinking water? This is because the diatoms have no way to grow up within the drinking water.

Causes of Brown Algae

Brown Algae often occurs in the new fish tanks. Usually, the fish tanks are set in shady areas that are suitable for Brown Algae to reproduce more. If Brown Algae surround your aquarium, then it means that the water condition is not optimal in your fish tank.

If you keep enough lighting, then the water quality should improve. There are some major causes of Brown algae. Indeed, there are a couple of reasons that can cause Brown algae in your fish tank:

  • An excessive amount of silicates or nitrates in aquarium water.
  • Extra nutrients within the water.
  • Inadequate lighting 
  • Low Oxygen supply in the water 

Best Ways To Remove Brown Algae From The Fish Tankhow to remove brown algae

Here are some methods of removing brown algae from your fish tank. Normally, the strategy is to reduce the food storage within your aquarium for brown algae. In this way, you can prevent its ongoing growth. Let’s keep a sharp lookout on the points listed below. 

1. Reduce The Water From The Aquarium

The first thing you need to do is remove nearly 20% of the water inside the aquarium by using an aquarium siphon.

Move the siphon through the sand to remove your fish waste. Fish waste can be a good source of food for the existing brown algae.

You can utilize reverse osmosis or deionized water in order to change the water inside the aquarium. The following two techniques will help you to deduct the algae.

Here are some great options for the best aquarium siphon for your fish tank from Amazon.

2. Use Phosphate Adsorption Resin

Phosphate adsorption resin is a chemical filter medium. This chemical is used to eradicate phosphates and silicates from your fish tank. In this way, you can remove the source of food for the brown algae.

3. Install A UV sterilizer

You can also remove the brown algae by installing an ultraviolet sterilizer outside your fish tank. The machine generates the UV ray like natural sunlight.

And the natural sunlight isn’t harmful to the fish or plants. But it is harmful enough to destroy bacteria and algae in your fish tank.

4. Keep A Fish/Animal That Loves to Eat Algae

This is another excellent way to remove algae from any aquarium. You have to keep an animal that loves to eat brown algae. 

Some aquatic animal species enjoy eating algae. Namely, the suckermouth fish and the Siamese algae eater fish can be very fruitful for you to use in your fish tank.

Again, if you have a saltwater aquarium, you may use snails to consume algae. The margarita snail will help you to get rid of brown algae in the saltwater tank. 

This type of aquatic animal works as a vacuum. Plus, they can eat the algae off the tank walls, stones, and pebbles.

5. Maintain The Nitrate Level

Nitrate level is another factor to consider when there is a brown algae issue in your tank. You have to keep the nitrate level under control. How to do it? All you need to do is to use a few drops of vodka in the aquarium water.

If you want to know the recommended vodka for you, then I’d recommend this ArKay Vodka from Amazon.  

Note: Always be careful of the limit of the vodka dose, because excessive use of it may hamper your fish. That is to say, using vodka and maintaining the nitrate level low is a great way to remove brown algae.

6. Removing The Brown Algae Physically 

Removing the brown algae physically from your fish tank is also an exemplary way out there. 

The most pathetic thing about these algae is, they are extremely painful for you when they come out of control in an aquarium. So, you may use your hand to remove and keep them under control. 

In order to physically remove it, you have to use your hand. And, this is not a bad way to do it at all. 

7. Cleaning Up The Filters

If you cleanse the filter regularly, it will make your water free from all kinds of allergens like silicates and nitrates.

Another key thing to do is to replace the water from your aquarium routinely. So, try to clean your aquarium more frequently. Thus, you will be successful in not letting the brown algae be set in your fish tank. 

How Dangerous The Brown Algae For An Aquarium?

When the Brown algae are under control, there is no such risk of harming the fish kept in your tank. There are even a few fish that like to eat brown algae. But, it is not always. It is not a good thing for your home aquarium setting.

Again, the brownish color of the diatoms will bring an unpleasant look to your aquarium.

Let’s Wrap Up!  

Brown algae is not a decent thing to stay in your fish tank. Some causes cause this problem. So, in order to solve this, you have to maintain some specific ways. We’ve described the overall discussion on how to remove brown algae and the best ways to remove it.

Please keep the above things in mind as you want to know your fisheries plan. Overall, if all the measures are taken, you can hope to get a full fresh fish tank with no brown algae. 

Brown Algae Described in (Video)

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