I've had a small brown algae problem in my 2.5 gal for a while now, but it was bearable. As long as I kept up with water changes and scrubbed the decor good once a week, it didn't get too bad. Because the lighting isn't so good, the algae looks white, like shreds of tissue paper or cobwebs.
Then it began to bloom a little more, and then my 1 gal started getting some. I put a second moss ball in my 2.5 and gave the 1 gal its first one, figuring it would completely solve the problem. I went out of town for a few days, came back, and the brown algae had boomed. It was so thick in my 2.5 that the water was cloudy, and I could see it making the decor in my 1 gal all fuzzy.
I've done several water changes to keep the algae under control, but I can't fully get rid of it. Any ideas? I use stress coat as a water conditioner; could it be encouraging the algae to grow?
Usually with diatoms, they're part of newly established tanks and go away after a few months. It's one of those kind of algaes that takes alot of elbo grease, as well as patience, to get rid of and you need to make sure it doesn't get out of hand before it has a chance to out compete your marimo's and possible other plants you have that weren't mentioned.
Are you sure it's diatoms? I haven't come across any description of 'the algae looks white, like shreds of tissue paper or cobwebs,' for diatoms- just other kinds of algae so you might want to research that a bit more and/or provide some pics. Maybe you're leaving the light on too long? As PewPewPew told me with my diatom problem (she's great with plant advice, including algae ^.^) I was leaving mine on too long and since my lighting isn't high (6500k), the algae is taking in the extra hours of light because plants only take in 8-10 hours of light every day... Diatoms are low light algae, so depending on your lighting, I don't see how it's because your lighting isn't all that great that the algae is appearing like that, but that's just what I've come across in research.
I don't see how stress coat could encourage algae as it's not made to provide nutrients for plants, but at the same time, I've never used the stuff nor do I know what it contains... but yeah, as for a logical stand point of view, I'm sure your stress coat isn't anything to stress about (Yeah, lame pun >.>;;;)
I did some searching, and the only other problem I could find similar to mine was something about fungus growing on uneaten food, which is not quite what's happening. The white stuff is growing along the water line, on decor, and making a film on the surface of the water. And I don't leave food in the tank.
I was told by another member on here that brown algae turns white when it's not getting the proper amount of light. My tanks do get a lot of natural light, but it's not direct. Because of this, I don't turn my aquarium lights on ever.
The only plants in my tanks are the two moss balls in the 2.5 and the one in the 1 gal.
As for pics, I know they aren't great, but this is the best I could get. I was changing the water so the whatever-it-is is floating all in the tank in little pieces.
I'll try to get some pics of it on the decor today.
You could try introducing ramshorn snails to eat the algae (mine do an awesome job). My solution to algae growth is fast-growing nitrate-zapping plants, but without a decent light source they won't do their job.
find someone to loan you a couple of otto cats for a couple days. There are very few things that eat the brown algae, the most common of which is otto cats & narite snails. As far as I know Ramshorn & Mystery snails will not eat it.
I have two algae problems. Diatoms (the brown algae) is in my 10 gallon tank and I have green algae in my 2.5.
Here's my solution, which I have researched for myself, and currently doing.
Scrub everything out as best as possible. Yours is a 2.5 so it should be easy to completely take apart. Let things soak in scalding hot water so it can get a lot of the "yucky" off of it. This will be like starting new. Diatoms just love new aquariums, but you have to get rid of the algae to manage it!
For my 10 gallon I went out and bought 3 otos. I have a LFS that I trust that the guy there said otos will chow down on anything and plow through it pretty quickly. A 2.5 gallon is not a suitable permanent home for otos! But if you have a larger tank you can upgrade to, then purchase them! Put them in the 2.5 until the algae is gone, then put them in a better suited home. This way you can throw the babies in there any time the algae comes about!!
I'm afraid "borrowing" them won't do much good, as diatoms can come back, and often will... You'd need them for awhile! After a few months it should settle down and not have problem.
Nerite snails! These little babies are like algae fiends! Will get up even the toughest algae. They don't have nearly as large a bioload as apple snails, either, and only get to about an inch in diameter. So they stay decently small!! A nerite snail and some otos will have those diatoms kicked to the curb pretty quick!
If your betta is alright with snails, they help, too! The guy I talked to suggested all 3... But I've yet to find out if my new boy likes to put everything into his mouth or not. I bought 2 ghosties as a "test run" to see if he lives peacefully with shrimp before I bought more expensive algae eating shrimp. So far so good! You might want to try that.
If the shrimps go off without a hitch, then do a snail/shrimp combo. 1-2 nerites and 2-3 shrimps would keep a good handle on things. This also is a better solution than the otos, and they can stay in the tank. At least for a good amount of time.
Lighting plays a HUGE factor in algae growth. I have SERIOUS green algae in my 2.5 gallon because my boy is 'scared' of the dark so his light is on at all times. This has got to stop!! Try and limit lighting to the tank. Whether it is direct or not, they're still getting light. I'm switching my 2.5 over to a daylight 6500k bulb so I can keep it on for 8 hours then shut it off. This will help me... It can help you as well! Keep the tanks out of areas that tend to get light 10-12 hours per day... this will only handicap you. (6500k daylight bulbs Zoo Med at Pecto, only need 1 and it is $9.99.)
Algae just loves the ammonia/nitrates/nitrites. Keep frequent water changes high! Try 2 water changes per week... 50-75% with vacuuming 2x per week and every other week replace one with a 100%. This should help you out.
Hopefully this gets you off to a good start! Also, if you see diatoms, remove it immediately! They will bloom and such and produce more! Your snail/shrimp crew is to keep it down, not solve the WHOLE problem. They can have supplemented diets! Don't wait for them if there's an obvious amount.
Yeah, I agree with bastage. The narite snails might only grow up to an inch, but even so... Betta's get up to 2.5 inches, and like I said, snails expell waste aLOT (which would mean you'd increase the ammonia and nutrients the diatoms is taking in)... I think shrimp would be an okay idea, I've never tried it myself, but they don't produce too much ammonia, but I'm more of a fan of the 'inch per gallon' rule. It's not just for the size of the animal, but for the size of the waste as well.... You'd end up having to do a crap load of more changes, especially since it's a non-cycled 2.5g. Personally, if you'd like to go this route, it'd be best if you got another tank for your snails/shrimp/ottos- pretty much what laughing suggested.
Honestly, your best bet is elbo grease. You shouldn't be having any lighting problems (except for the algae not getting enough light, but that doesn't seem bad) as you said you are using natural light- so you're not forcing the sun to give off too much lighting for your tank xD
I've been keeping up with my water changes and scrubbing everywhere I see algae on my decorations, plants, walls. At first, I thought it wasn't doing any good as the algae started spreading at a pretty fast pace... I'm slowly cutting down my lighting (as I've left mine on too long -.-), and since I've been keeping up with the cleaning, I've noticed that it's not spreading as fast. Granted, it's still there, but as I said before, diatoms go away after a while. Everyone I've talked to about it hasn't said otherwise, although I've talked to a few that've said it can come back.. but that's just part of having an aquarium tank- it's not harming anything (unless it gets out of control and can take all the nutrients away from your marimo) and overall, it just looks bad.
If your really that worried about it, why not get another marimo ball or a faster growing plant that sucks up ammonia/nutrients like a fiend? It would out-compete your algae, provide more oxygen for your small tank/keep it cleaner, and it would look nice- not to mention your betta would appreciate the extra coverage ^.^
Thanks for all the feedback! I'll do one more water change a week, I'll try to find some way to block the light coming from the window (no where else to put the tanks, I have cats), and I'll look into buying a plant. I'm a little leery of getting any shrimp or snails, since my tanks aren't too big and I have no idea how to handle shrimp during a water change. >.>