Hi guys, I have been struggling with brown algae for nearly a year now in a 10 gallon low tech that I started. I don't find that I get algae blooms like I did early on, but for months, I clean off my plants, then slowly and steadily, they are recoated in diatoms over about a 2 week period. This blocks light from the plants and stops them from growing. Because of this, my plants have never been able to settle and start to actually grow, so my tank looks horrible for being 1 year old.
Here is my setup
Standard 10 gallon aquarium
Aqueon Quietflow 10 filter
NICREW BrightLED Aquarium Light, High Illumination Fish Tank Light for Freshwater Tanks
Carib Sea Eco-complete black substrate
A few flagstone rocks
Java ferns, water wisteria, staurogyne repens, water lettuce (floating plants)
Ferts: Thrive (complete fertilizer), Flourish Excel (Carbon source)
The biggest problem is the SR which can never grow fast enough before the diatoms coat the leaves. So far I have tried the following.
1.) Adjusting photoperiod (both more and less as the literature is split so I have tried from 6 hours to 12 hours) I find that the diatoms respond proportionally to the light the same as the plants, so less light gives slower diatom growth but slower plant growth to the point it all evens out.
2.) Extra excel flourish (told a lack of carbon source can lead to diatoms)
3.) Adding nerites (Added 4 nerite snails, don't find them able to keep up, and they prefer to clean off the glass, not my plant leaves...)
4.) Phosguard in filter (To remove extra phosphate and silicate in the tap water I use) I also strain my tap water through fresh phosguard to prevent the addition of any extra silicate.
5.) RO water for 3 weeks (No change at all)
6.) Major vacuuming of gravel and complete clean of tank to remove as much as possible. (I think this just reset a mini cycle)
7.) Addition of fast growing floating plants (water lettuce) to compete for nutrients. I find the SR under the shaded part of the tank to grow very little diatoms compared to the open part of the tank.
With all that said, does anyone know of any good reason as to why after a year, I still have diatoms slowly coating everything in my tank? This has been incredibly frustrating as I feel I have tried everything suggested in the literature, to no avail.