brown algae

kel_bel22April 8, 2005

Ive been making a 4ft vivarium to house some frogs. Ive put the water in, and had it running (with a drip wall through a filter pump)for a couple of weeks but it has developed a thick brown slime/algae in the water and on the rocks.

I was told this is because it is exposed to too much light. I have cleaned it all out and started again, but does anyone know the cure? Have I been told the right info?Also, do plants in the water make a difference? (maybe it filters it etc). I dont have any planted in the water yet. Would appreciate some advice!!!

Oh, Ive limited my plant life uv light to 2 hours a day on advice of my local aquarium. The plants seem to be alright still.

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hoschi(z6 VA)

I have a similar problem in my terrarium. All the light and nutrients that get washed into the water are ideal for algae growth. I switched from a regular water pump to a canister filter and added 2 water plants but that didn't really help either. I have PDF's in my tank, so I don't want to break out the chemical weapon. I use about 14 h of light to keep my plants and frogs in good shape. The algae is difficult to clean and returns pretty quickly anyway. I haven't found a good solution yet either.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 5:22PM
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Could you purchase a few snails at the aquarium store and introduce them into the water feature?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 12:35AM
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Would the frogs eat the snails? They try to eat everything else including each other..hehehe. Not sure, anyone had any experience with this??

    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 2:28AM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

I know what you mean, I got algae all over my waterfall, and I don't even have any frogs to add 'nutrients' to the water! 2 hours a day is definitely not enough light for your plants. They will survive for a little while, and then rapidly decline. I also wouldn't use algae-eating snails. The frogs might try to eat them, and then get 'blocked up' from the shells. What kind of frogs do you have, BTW? And what are the dimentions of your tank? How much light do you have exactly? How much water (in gallons)? Algae is not always caused by too much light. More accurately, it is caused by an imbalance between the output of nutrients (by the frogs) and the intake of nutrients (by the plants).

The best thing to do is get some submerged aquatic plants that are real nutrient hogs. Hornwort and elodea (sometimes sold as anacharis) come to mind. Java moss is also good, and will also grow on the land area. Also put lots more plants growing on that drip wall. The only other way to be totally algae-free is to get an in-line UV sterilizer, but depending on how your tank is set up, you might not be able to do that. The lights on for only 2 hours thing won't work at all, because your 'high' plants will suffer, but algae ('low' plants) needs hardly any light at all to survive. My husband once had terrible algae in his planted discus tank, and he completely left the lights off for three days, and covered the tank in a dark cloth, and this was supposed to kill the algae, but it didn't!! He ended up going with a UV sterilizer. They are expensive though, and you need to change the bulbs once a year (also expensive).

    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 12:33PM
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I dont even have any frogs in my tank yet either! I have a 4ftx2ftx2ft tank, it has expanding foam background (much like the set up on black jungle) and it has about 5 inches of water in the bottom. The drip wall runs from a simple fountain pump, I dont have any real filters in it other than the one on the fountain pump.

For light, I have a 4ft plantlife tube (but I will soon replace it with a reptile uv light especially for frogs). My plants are simple bromeliads and tillandsias (not very exciting but ok for froggies). They seem to be ok with the low light levels at the moment, but I do have a bright sunny lounge room where the tank is kept.

The frogs I will probably be getting are australian red eyes, or australian green trees. I already have a tank (2ft version) almost identical to this one, and I cant work out what is wrong!!


    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 2:16AM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

Is that four feet wide or tall? Either way though, a single bulb is NOT too much light (not enough, actually), so that is not causing the algae. The only other thing I can think of is that some or all of the plants you bought had a lot of residual fertilizers in the soil in the pot, and that these are now floating around in your water, providing the algae with food. Did you rinse the plants well before adding them to the tank? If this is the case, then add more plants to help use up the nutrients, and do lots of water changes (as in, 50% daily) until your water is clear. I know it's a lot of work, but when you've put so much effort into a tank, you don't want to just tear it down and start over! I really hope you can find something that works!

Oh yeah, I just thought of something else. It might not be algae at all, but something called cyanobacteria. This stuff looks exactly like algae, but it's actually a bacteria, and standard algae treatments won't work on it at all. Is it very thick and slimy, and will it peel off in layers quite easily? Or is your water just generally cloudy and pea-soup-like?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 7:40PM
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Thankyou soooo much for your advice so far! Ive just cleaned the entire tank again with a complete water change for the third time, and its still going brown! Ive decided to buy a uv sterilizer and put in some water plants too. Also I will keep up a daily 50% water change for a few weeks and see if that makes a difference - if not, its all going in the bin!

To answer your question, my water starts off clear but after a few days starts to go brown. A brown slime grows all over the rocks and bottom but it looks like a thin long string with fur growing off it (sorry for the description but I cant think of anything else it looks like!!). Like I said, I'll try all of the above. Thanks again for your help!!!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 10:58PM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

From your description, I'd say it's algae, not cyano. A UV sterilizer will work wonders, and lots of water changes will help bring about a faster 'cure.' Since UV's can be quite expensive though, why not try the water plants and water changes for a couple weeks to see if that makes any difference? I believe I mentioned earlier that Hornwort is particularly good. It's quite ugly, but it sure does the job! the only thing is that you need good light for aquatic plants, since the real nutrient hogs are submerged, not emergent, and the light needs to be able to penetrate the water. Plants that aren't getting enough light won't be very healthy, and won't grow very fast, and won't use those nutrients very fast. BTW, if those dims you gave me are accurate, then you have a 120 gallon tank, and for terrariums, a general guidline is 1 watt of lighting per gallon. For plants in water, it's 3 watts per gallon. So it might actually be cheaper for you to get a UV sterilizer than to get all that extra lighting! In that case, forget about buying aquatic plants, unless you want some for their looks.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 1:46PM
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imaginators(z6 KY)

To prevent brown or green algae, purified water will cure the problem. Hard tap water is a welcome mat to growing algae. I would recommend you purchase a Aqua Pharmecuetical Tap Water Purifer costing around $35.00. Check out Ebay or Dr. Foster. I was having this problem with my small tropical aquarium. After I started making my own purified water..NO algae. This product is so easy to use, it hooks on to your faucet. I also use this purified water for my Orchids and sensitive plants. I also use UV sterilizer for my 2,000 gallon outdoor pond. This does kill algae also. These lights are expensive.
Also if you think buying spring water or purified water at the market is safe, not always. I did a test check on the market water it's readings were almost the same as plain tap water.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 11:03PM
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I was only thinking about that the other day - thankyou! I am using tap water (in australia our tap water is fine for frogs etc) but I was also thinking its probably got all the nasty algae. The only thing is that Im using the same water in another tank - but that tank doesnt have any problems.
I have a feeling its all the nutrients floating in the water. No matter how careful I am, I still seem to have a bit of dirt etc in the water. I have started 50% daily changes today, and put in some plants and my sterilizer. Im only using a cheap ($100) small sterilizer, so thats why Im also doing water changes too. No problems so far... cross your fingers guys!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 2:02AM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

I only ever use RO water that has also been UV sterilized, and I still get algae, so I really don't think that will cure your problem. The water will still pick up nutrients in your tank, from decaying plant matter, fertilizer residues, etc. and will grow algae if there is nothing else to suck up the nutrients (like plants other than algae). Glad to hear your tank is doing better though!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 11:39AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Lighting-wise I definitely agree w/ sahoy -- 2hours of light isn't likely going to be enough.

You might check w/ th efolks at to see if the type of frogs you have will try to eat snails. If not the large pond snails do a nice job of wiping out algae.

You didn't mention the depth of your water feature but would some kind of algae eating fish be an option? "I am outta my depth here]

Out of curiousity, how does an in-line UV sterilizer work w/o harming the other plants or animals in the system? I take it that it is somewhere in/by the pump itself so that it sterilizes the water as it passes through the pump?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 11:21AM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

Don't use pond snails, they'll turn to eating your other plants as soon as they're done with the algae, and are impossible to get rid of.

A UV light doesn't harm anything that's not suspended in the water column. The water flows through the UV sterilizer itself, and the UV light kills any algae, parasites, etc. Why/how would it harm other plants or animals?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 6:54PM
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Well, here's an update - My water is still turning brown, but with the regular water changes and sterlizer it has halved in severity. The uv sterilizer works a treat - I have got a submersible style with an attached pump which means I can hide it behind some rocks. I only need to change 50% of my water weekly. I dont actually have any stringy fur algae anymore, and my water is only tinted a slight brown color which doesnt harm anything anyway! YAYAY!
I'll keep up the changes and see how it goes...

    Bookmark   April 29, 2005 at 11:21PM
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